What’s the ceiling for this Winnipeg Jets team?
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
Throughout the past week, there has been talk of the Blue Jackets looking to add another top-six winger. Of course, they missed out on Matt Duchene but their interest in him was well known and now that he’s been dealt, there isn’t another big name that’s rumored to be available.
Frank Seravalli’s Trade Bait board over at TSN is usually a pretty solid indicator of who could be on the move. Right now he has two wingers at the top of his list, Evander Kane and James Neal.
I’ll start with Neal, who’s off to a good start with the Vegas Golden Knights. Neal checks a lot of the boxes that the Jackets are looking for; he can skate, has a physical edge and is a volume shooter. While he would look good, I’m not sure if he’s a fit.
First off, I think the Jackets are looking for more of a long-term fit and Neal, whose contract is up at the end of the year, would likely be more of a rental. Would the Jackets want to pay a hefty price for half a year of James Neal? Doubtful. But on the other hand, with the likes of Jenner, Atkinson, and Bjorkstrand all up at season’s end, maybe having some financial flexibility would be a good idea.
The Golden Knights are also loaded with defensemen and wouldn’t want to add another one. That’s a problem because one of the biggest trade chips the Blue Jackets have is defenseman Ryan Murray.
Evander Kane is the other name Seravalli has listed. Obviously, Evander Kane is more known for his behavior off the ice, but if the Jackets can look past that they might be able to add a really strong forward.
Kane already has 9 goals this year and he’s been one of Buffalo’s best forwards. In terms of 5v5 possession, he ranks 3rd in most categories and he faces the second toughest competition amongst all Sabres. He’s also proven that he can contribute to the power play, an area the Jackets could use some help. His 5.04 PPP/60 would rank second the Blue Jackets behind only Sonny Milano.
The price might be high, and similar to Neal, Kane’s deal expires at the end of the year.
Other names on Franks list include David Perron, Tomas Vanek, and Rick Nash. None of those names really seem like a dream fit and as I mentioned earlier, with a lot of players needing raises come July, the Jackets need to be careful with how they handle things.
The type of player they might be looking to acquire may not actually be available right now, given how many teams are still in the playoff hunt. I wouldn’t expect Jarmo Kekalainen to make a move until the new year, at the very earliest.
(image via Ottawa Sun)
Honestly, I’m not. I believe they put together their best offer, which likely included Ryan Murray and some draft picks, and I’m happy they didn’t end up overpaying. Also, based off of their play so far this year and what I’ve seen, they really don’t need him.
Scoring goals isn’t a problem thanks to the emergence of young talent like Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and even Josh Anderson. They currently sit 8th in the NHL in goals for.
Forward depth, especially down the middle, isn’t as big of a concern as some thought it may be over the offseason. In fact, their forward depth is growing into a legitimate strength of this club. Down the middle they have Brandon Dubinsky, Alex Wennberg and Nick Foligno filling out their top-9 and with young talent like Pierre-Luc Dubois continuing to develop, there really isn’t much space or a real need for someone like Duchene.
It’s a cheap answer, but honestly, everyone came out a winner in this move. Colorado waited and waited and were rewarded with a very impressive haul of picks and prospects. Sam Girard is ready to play in the NHL and so is Russian forward Vladislav Kamenev who has 8 points in 10 games down in the AHL.
Nashville gave up a few nice pieces, but they want to win a Stanley Cup and adding Kyle Turris not only takes some pressure off Ryan Johansen but also allows Nick Bonino to take on a role he’s more comfortable with. It smooths out the Predators forward depth and they didn’t sacrifice anything from their big-league roster. The 6×6 extension for Turris makes it look even better.
As for Ottawa, they paid a hefty price but they finally have who they believe is a #1 center. The Senators already have solid goaltending, a good d-core and a really strong group of wingers. Now they finally have a game-breaking forward. For Duchene, hopefully, a fresh start and some strong linemates can help him return to the near point per game pace we saw early in his career.
Also, for Pierre Dorion, he no longer has to worry about a new extension for his top center. He sends out the pending FA Turris and gets Duchene, who has one more season at $6 million.
That would depend on your definition of a big move. Do they need a top-six winger? They definitely do. Someone who can bring some speed into their forward group, shoot the puck and contribute on the powerplay would make a real impact on this team.
There are players like that out there, but as I wrote about last week, I don’t think there’s a move out there for Peter Chiarelli to make. The only teams who are probably willing to start selling in November are Arizona and Colorado. I don’t think it’s a smart move to use assets on players like Blake Comeau or Tobias Rieder.
The only option would be if they can make a hockey trade. In that case, it would likely involve a player like Matt Benning or Ryan Strome going out the door. If Chiarelli chooses to go that way, maybe he can go to a team like the Rangers and offer a package for Chris Kreider or maybe he goes to Vegas to open up a conversation on Jonathan Marchessault.
A franchise best 108 points, a record-setting winning streak, and a near upset over the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. It was the most successful season in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets. This year, they’re out to prove that last year was no stroke of luck.
The entire Tampa Bay Lightning are incredibly hot right now, in large part thanks to the combo of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos, of course, played just 17 games last season and has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons. But is the elite goal scoring Stamkos back? Well, I would argue he never really left. When you look at Stammers numbers, there has never been a decline.
Even though he played just 17 games last year, he still put up 9 goals and 11 assists. Even in the years when he’s been hurt, his points per game was never worse than 0.83.
Stamkos’ ability to score never seriously declined, he just struggled with injury. Now that he’s back to being 100%, I think we can expect the 27-year-old to put up elite numbers for a long long time.
I haven’t watched Bear and Jones too much over their junior and brief pro-careers, but what I have seen out of the two is very promising. I think it’s very likely that the two will be NHL players in the near future. Are they top four quality? That’s yet to be determined.
With that being said, it’s win now time in Edmonton, if you haven’t noticed. Let’s focus on right now.
When Sekera comes back they’ll have:
So if they do acquire someone, who would you take out of the lineup? Or maybe there’s someone out of that group you trade? They have 6 capable NHL d-men, but I do believe there’s an upgrade to be made on the second pair. I think they’re one more d-man away from having a Stanley Cup caliber back-end.
I also don’t think the type of trade they’re looking for can be made in-season. So, my final answer is Bear and Jones will one day be NHLers, we just don’t know how good and for now, they need another d-man.
As much as I’m surprised that the Habs and Oilers aren’t playing better, teams go through slumps. It’s been a bad month for both of these teams, but I believe that Carey Price will eventually start stealing games for Montreal and the Oilers offense will click and they’ll start winning as well.
The Golden Knights doing THIS? It’s insane. Nobody saw this coming and not only is it good for the growth of the game in Las Vegas because winning attracts fans, but it’s good for George McPhee. Nevermind the obvious trade candidates like Nate Schmidt and James Neal, but players like Lucas Sbisa, William Karlsson, and Cody Eakin are becoming worth more and more with each passing game. That’s just as big for the future of this team as the wins are.
The Canucks are playing good, but I don’t care because eventually they’ll lose something crazy like 8 of 10 and plummet to the basement. It’s coming, trust me.
The Edmonton Oilers have holes in their lineup. That’s not a “hot taek” and that statement shouldn’t catch anyone off guard because it’s a fact.
However, there seems to be a chorus of people on Twitter who seem to be harping on Peter Chiarelli and saying that a move needs to be made. As of right now, they need another d-man and a scoring winger. Those are the two big holes, which creates a problem for Chia because once the season starts, GM’s hold off on any big moves until at least the new year.
While panic has set in for the city of Edmonton because of their team’s slow start after a summer of high expectations, the pressure mounts on the shoulders of #33 to return to the level of play he maintained for his league high 73 (!?) starts last season. It’s an extremely small sample size but he simply hasn’t been good enough to give the Oilers a chance to win every night he’s gotten the nod. His .903 Sv% to start the year has him 24th in the NHL in that category amongst goalies who’ve made 4+ appearances thus far. Not to mention he’s managed to be pulled from 2 of his 6 starts already this year, a feat that took him 22 games just a season ago.
I tried to piece together some reasoning for his stumbling out of the gate by reviewing some of the goals he’s allowed. Here’s what I found.
The first thing that popped out to me when rewatching some of these games was Talbot seems to be struggling with his post integration. This can stem from a few issues, but in my experience the first thing to go when your confidence does is your ability to “find your net”. A vicious cycle of course as without that ability, one’s confidence tends to erode quickly. On this specific goal an unfortunate bounce over the short side shoulder is what ultimately beats Talbot. However, the unfortunate bounce is a result of poor technique. His right leg is outside the post which serves no purpose and prohibits the Oilers goaltender from creating a proper post seal. Furthermore, it hinders his ability to push across the net on any cross-ice play and essentially forces Talbot to poke check so as to prevent Horvat coming to his backhand. Keeping that leg inside the post enables #33 to be more patient and gives him a better shot at stopping this seemingly “unlucky” goal.
You can tell Talbot’s cheating here, not driving his leg into the post and creating that post seal I discussed earlier. He seems to begin to track the puck across the ice, expecting a pass. A smart play by Horvat for sure but this one stinks.
This one ties into both themes I caught amongst Talbot’s 15 goals against so far this season. Post integration and an ugly habit of being down way too early. It’s off a quick turnover so I’ll give some leniency but this is an ugly goal. As soon as he realizes it’s turned over, Cam does a quick scan to assess threats/options for Pyatt. This is a great (and necessary) habit, however Talbot fails to pick up Hoffman out of the corner and is therefore left guessing and reaching for the puck to try to intercept the pass. Pyatt isn’t a threat to score from where he gets the puck, but Talbot drops to his knees anyway slowing him down if he were to attempt to get across the net in lieu of hoping to get in front of it with his stick.
As you can see, this was not Talbot’s night. Drops down early on both. A pass across on the first one is all it takes to get him completely out of position and the second one he, for some reason, just sits on his goal line in the butterfly while the puck’s on the stick of an opponent in the slot.
It’s a combination of technique, overall work ethic, and trust. Admittedly, I do not watch as many Oilers games as I should but with how often the 30 year old is reaching to get in the way of cross-seam passes instead of trusting his defencemen to do their job and focusing on his own, there doesn’t appear to be much trust left.
Stop trying to do too much in instances where you can’t, and do more in instances where you should. Simple enough right?
There’s no denying the roster isn’t where it needs to be to compete yet. In the meantime, a better performance in goal could help stop the bleeding until management is able to
trade Russell and Lucic find a deal that helps the Oilers return to form.
I’ve said it before, and I will continue to preach it: the spot in which you were drafted means absolutely nothing the second you throw on the team’s jersey. It shouldn’t, but it still does, which is a problem.
Liam Horrobin: The Calgary Flames had a busy offseason, however, they failed to improve on their biggest flaw: goaltending. The addition of both Mike Smith and Eddie Lack was wrong and will not benefit this team; they may as well have just stuck with Elliott and Johnson, by the way, are better statically. This decision will come back to haunt them and be the reason why they miss out on the playoffs.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Going to go with the Chicago Blackhawks here. They lost Hossa, Hjalmarsson, Panarin, and Darling over the offseason and the returns they got were all downgrades. Yes, they have the remainder of their core intact, but in a tight Central division there’s no room to take a step back, and they did. Some are calling them Stanley Cup contenders? Nope.
Liam Horrobin: This year we will see the fall of the Chicago Blackhawks. Teams in their division improved whilst they got worse. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colorado Avalanche were the only team below them in the Central once the year is over.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I think the St. Louis Blues may finish lower than some expect. I’m not a huge fan of their depth down the middle, they’re already running into injury problems and Jake Allen can be inconsistent. Also with no Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester out to start the year, their d-core is getting thin. The Central division being as tough as it is doesn’t help either.
Liam Horrobin: In my eyes, Arizona had the best offseason in the NHL. They allowed old aging players to leave and brought in talent that can actually help them compete. My favourite addition was goaltender Anti Raanta. He is a big upgrade on Mike Smith and will be the key to their success. Watch out for the Coyotes challenging in the Pacific Division this year.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Gotta agree with Liam on this one. Arizona brought in Anti Raanta, who I believe is an upgrade on Mike Smith. They also added Stepan, Hjalmarsson, and Demers which gives them a solid group to compliment their young stars. Speaking of their young stars, I’m expecting big things from Keller, Dvorak, and Domi this year.
Liam Horrobin: Now, this one is a bit of dark horse pick but I think Shea Theodore will have a great year with the Golden Knights. Theodore will be racking up the minutes on the Vegas’ top pairing and will likely be quarterbacking the powerplay. He’s been a solid offensive defenceman everywhere he’s been, however, he was unable to blossom with the Ducks due to the amount of defenceman. That will all change now that he’s with the Knights.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Oscar Klefbom. I know he’s coming off a good season, and those around the Oilers recognize how good he is, but I think this is the year he blows up. I’ve been looking into his numbers and in my eyes, he’s already producing like an elite d-man. Expect his point totals, and star status, to rise astronomically.
Liam Horrobin: It’s an easy way out but I’ve got to go with Matt Duchene. It has been a story for a while now and you’ve got to think it’ll come to an end soon. The Avs will get a great haul for him, it’s just about finding the perfect match. Maybe the Blue Jackets?
Tyler Yaremchuk: It’ll be Duchene, but I gotta switch things up so I’ll go with Mike Green. The Wings need cap space and if one contending team suffers a blow to their defense *cough* Edmonton *cough* then Ken Holland’s phone line will be ringing.
Liam Horrobin: With all the new faces they’ve brought in, the Dallas Stars are my favorites to lift Lord Stanley. With the addition of Radulov, Hanzel, and Bishop the Stars quickly became the best team in their division. Offensively they’re gifted on every line, on the blue line they’re solid on all three pairing, and between the pipes, Ben Bishop should resolve their goaltending issues. The only team I could see stopping on Stars, in the west, are the Edmonton Oilers.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I hate doing this. But they’re due for a bounce-back year and I’m a big believer in Andrei Vasilevski, so I’m going to say Tampa Bay. Adding Sergachaev helps as well. They also have one of the deepest offensive groups in the league.
Liam Horrobin: If all goes well, Connor McDavid will take home his second straight Hart Trophy. Until teams can figure out how to defend against him, he will likely win this award year after year. The new slashing rule can only benefit his game too.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I think Steven Stamkos is going to return to his elite level form. My projections have him winning the Rocket Richard and being close to a point a game. The injury problems are gone and I think one of the games best goal scorers will thrive with the talent around him and the focus being of Nikita Kucherov. 50 for Stammer and a Hart Trophy to go with it!
Liam Horrobin: Sergei Bobrovsky won it last year, and he’ll do the same this year. The young defense in front of him has only got better which can only benefit his game. He posted the best numbers by a goaltender last season and if he can stay healthy the same thing should happen.
Tyler Yaremchuk: The safety net of Fleury is gone, but Matt Murray has never really cracked under the pressure before, so I say he takes another huge step forward and comes home with the Vezina. Also, a full year of health and Kris Letang should help.
Liam Horrobin: Erik Karlsson is simply the best defenseman in the NHL. Even if he does miss a few games to start the year it shouldn’t make much difference. He’s too much of an elite player not to have another top quality campaign.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Erik Karlsson got robbed last year in my eyes. I think he’s just too dominant, and even if he misses a few weeks, I think he’ll turn in another solid campaign. My second pick would be Victor Hedman, but Karlsson is the favorite for obvious reasons.
Liam Horrobin: Brock Boeser performed well during his nine-game audition at the backend of last season. This year, he’ll be given maximum opportunity to showcase his abilities to the Canucks fans. Out of all the rookies, Boeser stands above all.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Charlie McAvoy is my pick. I thought he played a very solid game in his brief stint with the Bruins during last years postseason and I expect him to pick up where he left off. I believe he’s the successor to Zdeno Chara on that blueline, and this year he’ll be the Calder winner.
Liam Horrobin: Arizona’s new head coach, Rick Tocchet will be this year’s Jack Adams winner. Expectations are mixed for the Coyotes. However, with the improvements they made over the offseason; Tocchet should be able to guide them back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Tyler Yaremchuk: This award usually just goes to whichever team overachieves the most, but in terms of which coach I think will have the biggest impact on their teams’ success? I’ll go with Ken Hitchcock out in Dallas. If he gets them firing, they could win the West.