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.
(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.
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.
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.
The talk of the town? Well, that would be 18-year-old Kailer Yamamoto.
When Kailer came into camp, expectations weren’t high for the Spokane product. He had a below average showing at the team’s rookie tournament and most didn’t think he had any shot at making the team this year.
You could go read a magazine or go to major websites for season previews… but then it’s the same thing that tens of thousands of people read. So here is the start of my unique division by division season previews, which get you set for upcoming NHL season. If you want to check out my Central Preview, you can find it HERE.
Add: R.Miller – F.Beauchemin
Lost: S.Theodore (t) – J.Bernier (fa) – N.Thompson (fa) – C. Stoner (e) – R. Garbutt (fa)
They won the division last year despite a slumping offense, which came 18th in goals for. In a year where they struggled to score, their goaltending and defense stepped up in a big way. Their team GAA was 3rd and their core is still intact. Gibson will be back between the pipes while Lindholm, Fowler, Vatanen, and Manson will all be back on the blueline.
If there’s one concern with this team heading into the year it’s that the offense that finished 18th didn’t get better. While I do consider it a win that they didn’t lose any key pieces, especially considering the expansion draft, I would have liked to see them add an extra piece. They’ll need to rely on some bounce-back performances if they want to retain their Pacific Division crown.
I’m banking on that to happen. I think with the number of weapons they have, two years of below average offensive production isn’t going to happen. Expect another year of first in the Pac-8 for the Ducks.
Add: R.Strome – J.Jokinen – T.Rattie
Lost: J.Eberle (t) – B.Pouliot (bo) – D. Desharnais (fa) – G. Reinhart (e) – T. Pitlick (fa)
A quiet offseason in Oil Country, but most of the moves they made I consider a wash. Eberle simply couldn’t come back for another year with this team and while Strome lacks the same goal-scoring ability that Eberle had, he has some upside.
Offensively this team will be fine, they came 8th last year in GF/60 and there is really no reason to expect that number to drop. In fact, with McDavid and Draisaitl a year older and players like Lucic and Nugent-Hopkins looking for bounce-back years, they could score more than the 2.96 goals per game they had last year.
There are a few concerns for me when it comes to this team and it’s why I don’t have them passing the Ducks.
How will their defense hold up with Andrej Sekera out until at least the new year? It’s unclear how Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse will handle a heavier workload.
Also, this team stayed very healthy last year. Can they repeat that string of good health? Injuries are bound to hit every team at some point, does this team have the depth to overcome a significant injury? That still remains unclear.
Lastly, can Cam Talbot make it through another year starting close to 70 games? I’m not saying last year was a fluke by any means, but Talbot would have been a Vezina finalist last year, does he have that in him again?
Question marks aplenty, but I believe the young talent of this team can push them to another year with home-ice advantage in the postseason.
Add: T. Hamonic – S. Foo – M. Smith – E. Lack
Lost: B. Elliott (fa) – C. Johnson (fa) – D. Engelland (e) – L. Smid (fa) – L.Bouma (fa) – D. Wideman (fa)
Let’s start with what I like about the Flames heading into this season. The addition of Travis Hamonic is great and gives them an elite top four. The price they paid was steep, but the team is in win now mode, so I have no problems with it.
They also signed Spencer Foo, who could be a NHLer a few years from now, but I don’t believe he’ll have an impact this year.
Adding to their d-core, which was already a strength, as well as putting another winger in the prospect pool are both good moves. The problem with the Flames heading into this year is that they really didn’t address their major needs.
They still have a very poor right side. I don’t have confidence in Frolik & Brouwer to play on the team’s top line. Could they add someone mid-season? Absolutely. Wingers can be found around the trade deadline fairly easily so maybe this is a whole they could still look to fill.
They also didn’t improve their goaltending in my eyes. Mike Smith is 35 years old and not getting any better, while Eddie Lack is coming off a concussion riddled stint with Carolina that also saw minimal success. Just looking at last season, the combined GAA of Smith and Lack was 5.56 while compared to the combined GAA of Johnson and Elliot which was 5.14.
Those numbers may get better for Smith and Lack that they have a better team in front of them, but it wasn’t a big enough improvement in my eyes, especially given some of the marquee goaltenders available this offseason.
A few good moves and they can bank on some improvement from their young core, but not enough to catch either Edmonton or Anaheim.
Add: J. Demers – N. Hjalmarsson – D. Stepan – N. Cousins – A. Raanta
Lost: S. Doan (r) – Z. Michalek (fa) – J. McGinn (t) – C. Murphy (t) – L. Dauphin (t) – A. DeAngelo (t)
This may look absolutely crazy, but they had the best offseason of any team in their division. We already knew that they had one of the better young cores in the league, and now they actually have a solid group of veterans to play along with them.
Niklas Hjalmarsson was a sensational pickup. Some would argue he was the Hawks best d-man at times, and they got him at a great price. Factor in the great trade they made to grab Jason Demers along with the likes of Ekman-Larsson and Goligoski and you might be able to say they have one of the best d-cores in their division.
Up front, they added Derek Stepan who gives them an experienced centerman who can produce. Other than that their depth chart is littered with young talent and they’ll need some of those rookies to step up. There are high hopes for Clayton Keller, Dylan Strom, and Christian Dvorak. If they perform like some expect, the ‘Yotes could have a very succesful year.
In net, I like the addition of Antti Raanta and think him and Louis Domingue could be more than competent this year.
I don’t think they have enough to push into a playoff spot this year, but the Yotes are coming and might be a playoff team sooner rather than later.
Add: M.Cammalleri – D.Kuemper
Lost: B.Bishop (t) – B.McNabb (e) – M.Greene (bo) – D. Setoguchi (fa)
The Kings are coming into this season with more or less the same roster that has only won 1 playoff game in the past 3 years.
Their offense finished 25th last year and all they did was add veteran Mike Cammalleri, who is coming off a 10 goal campaign. Jeff Carter had to almost single-handedly carry this team’s offense last year, scoring a whopping 16% of his teams’ goals. The only other player to score 20 was Tanner Pearson (24).
Anze Kopitar also had a horrible year. His shooting percentage as 2.2% lower than it’s ever been, but even if he would have shot at his average percent, he wouldn’t have hit 20 goals. He’ll need to be better if the Kings want any hope of snagging a wild-card spot.
If there’s one beacon of hope, it’s that a full year of both Jonathan Quick and Tyler Toffoli may be able to boost them up the standings.
All in all, I didn’t see enough improvement to give me any reason to believe that this team can pass anyone for a Pacific Division playoff spot, and given how strong the Central is, I don’t like their odds at a Wild Card spot either.
Add: No Notable Players
Lost: P. Marleau (fa) – M. Mueller (t) – D. Schlemko (e) – M. Haley (fa)
With no additions to this point and having lost Marleau along with a solid depth d-man in Schlemko, it was not a great offseason in San Jose.
Joe Thornton is another year older, and he’s coming off a season in which he struggled to produce much offensively. Brent Burns got hot early, but shot well over his career sh%. During the last 20 games of the regular season, we saw Burns struggle, only scoring 10 points. When Burns struggled, so did the team, going 9-11-0 during Burns’ slump.
I have no questions about Martin Jones, even though both his GAA and SV% took dips last year, he should be solid again. But the cast in front of Jones? Not as strong as they once were.
To make the playoffs they’ll likely have to grab a Wild Card spot, and I just don’t see enough on this roster to beat out the crazy strong Central Division teams.
Add: EVERYONE GOT ADDED
Lost: THEY HAD NO PLAYERS LAST YEAR
You can expect a lot of 2-1 and 1-0 games this year from the Golden Knights. I really like the d-core that they managed to grab through the expansion process. Shea Theodore, Colin Miller, Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt are all relatively young and can all play competently in a team’s top 4. Mix them in with vets like Jason Garrison and Deryk Engelland and you have a d-core that’s better than a handful of other teams in the league.
Between the pipes, Marc-Andre Fleury can still hold a crease down. His numbers weren’t great in the regular season, but he played like his old self in the playoffs which is an encouraging sign. Even if he falters, they also have Calvin Pickard, who I was shocked to see available. The 25-year-old put up a 2.98 GAA and .904 SV% on an absolutely horrible Avalanche team. He could be a real surprise for VGK fans next year.
Up front, well, they aren’t good. They basically have a team full of 3rd liners with a few exceptions like Jonathan Marchessault and James Neal. There is some upside in guys like Vadim Shipachyov and Alex Tuch, but goal scoring will be a struggle.
I don’t think they’ll finish last, I think they’ll be too strong defensively, but the lack of goal scoring will keep them close to the basement.
Add: S.Gagner – A.Burmistrov – T. Vanek – M.Del Zotto – P.Wiercioch – A.Lindback
Lost: R.Miller (fa) – L.Sbisa (e) – D.Shore (fa) – P.Larsen (fa)
Are they tanking? Are they trying to compete for some reason? Who knows!
The Canucks are officially a laughing stock. The butt of every joke just like the Oilers and Sabres once were. The only difference: those teams knew they were going to be bad. What the Canucks are doing is just straight confusing.
They bring in Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto and Thomas Vanek which makes no sense. Those types of players don’t help you compete, they help you go from 29th to 27th and diminish your lottery chances.
Those additions also take playing time from guys like Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser or even guys like Nikolay Goldobin and Brendan Gaunce, who need to figure out the NHL game in a hurry if they want to have prolonged careers.
The offseason made no sense, the season will go horribly and that cycle will likely continue until the organization can find a definitive direction.
“Taking this much money means he doesn’t want to win”
“He’s leaving no money for them to build a —”
“This is just a selfish move by —”
Shut up. Please, shut up.
If you have said any of the above in the past week. Stop talking.
Connor McDavid has played in 127 NHL games to this point in his career. He has scored 148 points and won an Art Ross, Hart Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award. He guided a franchise out of the darkness and helped them win a playoff round in their first year back in the big dance.
He deserves $12.5 million. He deserved $13.250 million. He deserves $20 million. This franchise was gifted him via a fricken’ lottery. He owes them absolutely nothing.
As far as I’m concerned it is their responsibility to ensure they take whatever money is left and give Connor McDavid the resources he needs to bring multiple Stanley Cups to Edmonton. It is not the job of a young superstar to make life easier on management.
It’s a problem that has existed for a while now in hockey, the idea that a superstar must take less so that the supporting cast around him is better. I see the mindset behind that argument, of course, everyone loves a good team player. Someone who puts themselves second.
But consider it from the other perspective.
Is it Connors fault that he Oilers paid Milan Lucic $6m? No.
Who’s fault is it that they had to buy out Benoit Pouliot? Hardly #97’s.
So why should he have to sell himself short to cater to the mistakes of others?
It’s something that hockey has an extreme problem with, that other sports frankly do not.
Look at the NBA, in most cases when a support player wants to join a super team and win, he takes less money. The majority of the cap is spent on the superstars.
I know the cap levels and rules are different in every league, but let’s throw McDavid’s salary up against the other 3 major leagues:
If McDavid were to hold a $12.5 AAV in the MLB, he would rank just inside the top 100.
Yup, hockey’s best young star has an annual salary that is in the same breath as players like Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza.
Ignore the bargain that Chris Sale is on because he IS a truly special talent on a great deal. But the best young player that hockey has seen in arguably 25 years got a shiny brand new deal… that’s worth the same as a few sub-par starting pitchers.
No different in the NBA where McDavid would sit in a tie for 88th… with Miles Plumlee.
Tell me, when was the last time you heard someone say “Wow, did you see what Miles Plumlee did last night? We GOTTA find a way to watch him live!”.
Or maybe next time you walk into a sports retail store, ask if they have any Miles Plumlee gear left, or maybe it’s all sold out!
McDavid brings value to a franchise that no other player can. It’s absurd that in today’s hockey world, he’s unable to chase what he financially deserves and if he was allowed to, he would be scrutinized for doing so.
(Also just for fun, here’s the NFL salaries… seriously, he’s 63rd. WHO THE HELL IS ANDREW WHITWORTH)
James Duthie brought up a great point on TSN 1260 the other week. Give each team one exemption. Whoever the teams highest paid player is, simply comes off the cap.
It’s so simple, yet so effective. The Oilers give Connor McDavid the $25 million a year he deserves. The team doesn’t suffer. Old man hockey culture can’t say McDavid is a selfish spoiled kid.
In works for other teams as well. If you pay Player A $12 million a year, he’s exempt, but as soon as you give another player $13 million, Player A counts towards your cap again. It’s a brilliant way of keeping the parity that the NHL loves to create, while not handcuffing teams who have great players. It also allows players to earn what they are truly worth to their franchises without facing public scrutiny.
Of course, there are more layers to it, but that’s for another blog. For now, I leave you with this:
Connor McDavid deserves whatever the hell he wants, and it’s a shame hockey culture gets in the way of their stars earning what they deserve.
photo via The Edmonton Sun