Personally, I don’t remember a trade deadline for the Columbus Blue Jackets that’s had this much talk around it.
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.
FIRST PLACE – ANAHEIM DUCKS
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.
SECOND PLACE – EDMONTON OILERS
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.
THIRD PLACE – CALGARY FLAMES
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.
FOURTH PLACE – ARIZONA COYOTES
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.
FIFTH PLACE – LA KINGS
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.
SIXTH PLACE – SAN JOSE SHARKS
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.
SEVENTH PLACE – VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
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.
EIGHTH PLACE – VANCOUVER CANUCKS
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.
So over at BTI HQ, we were trying to think of a way to pass the dog days of the hockey offseason. As you can imagine, trying to find content to write about in August can be tough.
So we decided to start a bracket. But a simple bracket of who is the best player in the NHL would end one of two ways: Connor McDavid defeating Sidney Crosby OR Sidney Crosby defeating Connor McDavid in the final. So we switched it up a little.
This is the first installment in our battle bracket to find out who our BTI readers believe is the 3rd best player in the NHL.
THE CASE FOR BRENT BURNS
Brent Burns is the most unique player in the NHL. Not just because of his lack of teeth, tattoos, and odd fashion sense either. This is a guy that all 30 head coaches would love to have on their team as a forward and as a d-man. They don’t make too many like Brent Burns.
On defense, he ranked top 30 in opp SA/60, which may be a bland metric, but it does show how reliable he is at stopping opponents.
Some would mention that he’s a guy who takes too many risks offensively for a defender, but I have two counter arguments for that.
First, his strong skating allows him to recover in most cases. Second, when you’re as good as Brent Burns offensively, you can take as many risks as you want in my eyes. The only defenseman in the same class as Burns is Erik Karlsson and even EK65 doesn’t generate 10 shots a game like Burns does. Seriously, 10 shots a game is wild.
He’s consistent as well, over the past 3 seasons he’s had some very strong box-cars: points (60-70-70) and Assists (43-48-47). He’s also chipped home 20 goals in 3 of the last 4 years and was on pace to do so in the lockout shortened season.
A 5 tool player who skates well, shoots often and accurately, plays physical, has an elite hockey sense and can make good passes out of his zone. Whether you’re down a goal or looking to hold onto a late lead, Burns is the guy you want on the ice, which is why I give him the edge over Carter.
THE CASE FOR JEFF CARTER
Early on in the NHL season last year, I made a case for Jeff Carter to be in contention for the Hart Trophy. He was carrying a team that was going through a difficult season due to injuries to key players and generally just underperforming. Jeff Carter, however, performed at a high level despite the level that his team was playing at.
Carter dominated in all offensive categories for the Kings:
- 1st in Goals (32)
- 1st in Points (66)
- 1st in Powerplay Goals/Points (10/22)
- 1st in Game Winning Goals (9)
- 1st in Overtime Goals (4)
His 32 goals were the most he’s scored since 2011 and they could not have come at a more crucial time for the Kings. Adding to that, Carter had more points than he’s had during his time with the Kings.
He did all of this during a time when the Kings needed him to step up the most. With no Tyler Toffoli for 19 games, an extremely underachieving Anze Kopitar – who had the worst none shortened season of his career – and offence that had only one other 20+ goalscorer – Tanner Pearson.
He was able to step up and perform at an elite level consistently all season when nobody else could.
Carter single-handedly kept the Kings’ playoff hopes alive. Of course, the Kings did not end up making the playoffs but that was through no fault of Carter’s.
Carter’s performances may be overlooked by bigger names in the NHL, but at the end of the day he does exactly what the likes of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby do: he gives his team a chance to win every night.
The difference between Burns and Carter is that Burns has a supporting cast, Carter simply does not.
Image via USA Today
In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings squirmed their way into the playoffs with 95 points, clinching a spot in their final two games against the San Jose Sharks with back-to-back losses. The Pacific Division was weak. The Coyotes won the crown with only two more points, and the Kings, loaded with talent yet unproductive for months, finished as the 8th seed. They awaited the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks who were as close as it gets to the Stanley Cup the season before and looked poised for another trip. Two months later, however, it was Los Angeles hoisting the Cup, shocking the hockey world.
The 2016-17 Nashville Predators are the most talented and dangerous 8th seed since those Kings.
The 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings were a wonky team and proved with their playoff run they were the most talented 8th seed in NHL history. A franchise center aged 24, Anze Kopitar, two former Flyers as the crux of a Stanley Cup participant two seasons prior, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a franchise defenseman, Drew Doughty, and a hot goaltender, Jonathan Quick, who already posted a sub-2.00 GAA in the regular season en route to a Conn Smythe trophy.
Many outlets picked the team to finish in the top four of the Western Conference during their regular season previews and although they weren’t necessarily bad for most of the season, the Kings just couldn’t score. They fired Terry Murray for Darryl Sutter and traded for Jeff Carter. The moves reinvigorated the team. A March record of 10-4-1 proved the Kings could push the right buttons when needed. Besides offensive prowess, the roster didn’t have any other glaring weaknesses.
The Predators looked like a sexy choice in the beginning of the season to go to the Stanley Cup Final. Their explosive upset of the perennial contender Anaheim Ducks last season coupled with a lightning rod trade for some guy named Pernell-Karl Sylvester and the hipsters licked their lips at this Preds team.
From a personnel perspective, this Preds team is bloody good. Their top four defensemen, Subban-Josi-Ekholm-Ellis are mobile and scary. They draft well. They trade well. *cough Erat for Forsberg cough* They skate well. They are well-coached. Peter Laviolette is a Stanley Cup champion who also won his 500th NHL game this year. They get solid goaltending from Pekka Rinne, a two-time Vezina runner-up. Rinne, despite his ridiculously high save percentage these playoffs, is their only spot of uncertainty.
Nashville’s average age is fourth youngest in the playoffs and their skill lies under that 27.4 age threshold. Including the previously mentioned defense corps, Johansen, Arvidsson, Forsberg, are all younger than the rearguards. The youth drives the offensive as only their ancient captain Mike Fisher, 36 years old, finished in the Preds top-ten scoring this season.
You don’t see 8th seeded teams this talented with the ability to match up this well with a three-time Stanley Cup winning core. And you definitely don’t see 8th seed teams slap the Blackhawks around the ice in a 4-0 sweep. Nobody had that. But few also had the Kings in five against the Canucks in 2012.
Since the 04-05 Lockout, there have been six 1 vs 8 upsets:
05-06 Edmonton Oilers (Detroit)
08-09 Anaheim Ducks (San Jose)
09-10 Montreal Canadiens (Washington)
11-12 Los Angeles Kings (Vancouver)
13-14 Minnesota Wild (Colorado)
16-17 Nashville Predators (Chicago)
Of those upsets, only two series are a “Cinderella” scenario. The 06′ Oilers and the 10′ Canadiens both were overmatched by better teams in the first round but found a way to win through tight defense and timely goaltending. The other teams either matched up well to their opponent or in Minnesota’s case, capitalized on a young team not ready to take a step forward in the Colorado Avalanche.
Looking back, the 2008-09 Anaheim Ducks are also strangely talented for a bottom seed. They upset the San Jose Sharks who had 26 more regular season points and were stacked to the teeth with talent. Similarly to the Preds, the Ducks had an extremely young top line Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan (23, 23, and 21 years-old) with the diabolical combination of veteran defenceman in Niedermeyer and Pronger, not to mention the Finnish Flash. It was the same core of a team who won the drink a mere two seasons before. This was the worst matchup for the Sharks to get that season.
taken from www.hockey-reference.com
Two of the most talented post-lockout 8-seeds didn’t even win a round. The 2010-11 Chicago Blackhawks, fresh after Stan Bowman’s salary cap blowout sale, boasted a top-heavy roster, not even a season removed from championship glory. In the thick of the Hawks-Canucks rivalry, the Blackhawks came back from down 0-3 to force a Game 7 before eventually losing.
The 2014-15 Pittsburgh Penguins were a weird team too. Injuries and an apparent disconnect between new coach Mike Johnston and the team were major reasons why the Pens slipped to 8th despite their star-laden roster. Still led by Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins backed their way into the playoffs losing five of their last six and never looked good in their series against the rival Rangers, who ousted them the year before coming back from down 3-1.
So if the Predators are this talented – why did they finish 8th? Inconsistency from Forsberg in the early going and depth players like Craig Smith, a 2-5-1 stumble out of the gates, and weak December seems to be the reason. Similar to the Kings, they didn’t quite have their team figured out until the thick of the winter grind.
In this Blues-Preds series, both teams are evenly matched. I think the toughest matchup in the west past the Central Division for Nashville is Anaheim, who also have mobile young defencemen and heavy forwards who can skate.
When fans look back at that Kings team they are seen as just the first of two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons and not an 8th seed. Don’t book the parade yet, but Nashville has the opportunity to do significant damage if their success continues.
Like the 2012 Kings, Nashville isn’t Cinderella: they are talented and dangerous.
The trade deadline is well past, we’ve seen players rock their new uniforms for a few games now and more importantly, we’ve all been able to cool off from our initial reactions of trades (example: me after the Davidson-Desharnais trade).
After giving things sometimes, I’ve decided to rank the General Managers of the NHL on the trades they’ve made this year, or in some cases the trades they haven’t made.
A couple of notes before I get into things. First off, I based these on the GM’s entire season, not just the time around the trade deadline. Also, I used letter grades to do these ranking because it’s fun.
(A+) – No One
I am not giving a single GM a rating of A+ for the moves they’ve made this season.
In my opinion, there isn’t a GM out there who successfully went out and filled out his roster without overpaying significantly, or a GM who took advantage of a seller’s market well enough to warrant being given significant praise. You’ll see what I mean as I work my way through the rest of the letters.
(A) – Brian MacLellan
I mean, he already had the best roster in the NHL and he’s only made a couple of moves this season. First, he shored up some depth by grabbing Tom Gilbert from the LA Kings for essentially nothing, then he made the big splash.
Acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk is just gravy on top of a near perfect roster, but props to MacLellan for deciding to go all in, it’s
an incredibly strong move. The only reason I won’t give MacLellan an A+ is because I felt like he paid too high of a price. While a first rounder and a conditional is good value for Shattenkirk, from the Capitals perspective, they paid a premium for 3 months of a d-man who will likely be on the second pairing.
With all that said I also see the value in acquiring the best player on the market simply so teams like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay couldn’t get him. The bottom line, they paid a premium, but still got the best player on the market. Enough for me to give Brian MacLellan an “A”, the best ranking of any GM this year.
(A-) – JIM BENNING
The man that many had dubbed the worst GM in the league, including me, made some serious strides towards redemption with the moves he’s made this season.
Selling off Alex Burrows for a top tier prospect like Jonathan Dahlen is absolute robbery. That deserves some serious credit, especially when you compare that to what some other veteran forwards we’re going for this year.
He followed that up with another really solid move, sending Jannik Hansen to San Jose for Nikolay Goldobin (who runs an incredible Twitter account) and a condition 4th round pick, that could become a 1st if the Sharks win the Stanley Cup. Picking up another prospect with top-6 potential and a draft pick for an aging vet is a mighty accomplishment on its own, but Benning had another hurdle to climb when making this deal. Hansen had a list of teams that he could be dealt to, usually, that drops the value of a player around deadline day, but Benning did a great job waiting for a solid offer, and he got it.
Benning also did a solid job on the waiver wire, grabbing Joseph Cramarossa. A small move, but I like what Cramarossa can do, so I’ll put another notch in the plus column for this one.
The only reason Benning didn’t get a higher grade is because I felt like he could have done more. I feel like Ryan Miller should have been dealt, maybe even bigger fish like Alex Edler could have gotten Benning a nice return given how strong the market was for d-men.
Regardless of that last point, a very very strong season of moves by Benning, which nets him an A-, the second best rating amongst GM’s.
(B+) – Steve Yzerman
He started by shipping Nikita Nesterov to the Habs for Jonathan Racine and a 6th round pick, which I didn’t love. Felt like Nesterov still has some developing to do, he’s only 23 years old, but it wasn’t a fatal move.
Next was the Ben Bishop move. I understand holding onto him for as long as possible to try to get back into the playoff race, but I feel like Yzerman held out for too long, and had to take a low ball offer because of it. Eric Cernak might be a solid prospect, but I feel like you needed a better return than that in a seller’s market.
But Stevie Y redeemed himself with a pair of moves on deadline day. First, he sends Val Filppula and a pick to Philly for Mark Streit and a pick. Then he shocked many by flipping Streit right back to Pennsylvania in exchange for a pick.
On the surface, this could be puzzling, but there are a few things to consider. The first is the cap hit, Yzerman has now shed himself of Filppula $5 million cap hit next year, which is important given the number of RFA’s they have including Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat. Secondly, it saves them a forward slot in the expansion draft. Filppula’s NTC meant that he had to be protected, now that he’s gone, the team can keep Jonathan Drouin protected, which is huge given how important he is to their future.
A couple questionable moves to start, but Yzerman comes back with an absolute home run on deadline day, which saves them down the road. B+ for you Steve.
(B) – Dean Lombardi/Stan Bowman
I’ll start with Lombardi. He got Ben Bishop at a bargain
price and similar to the Caps getting Shattenkirk, they didn’t need it, but it meant that Calgary/Winnipeg couldn’t get him. That’s huge. Bishop is the best insurance on the market, so props to Lombardi for getting him for nice and cheap.
He also went out and got Jarome Iginla for a 4th round pick, which I didn’t love. Iginla can still contribute, but when you look at a guy like Thomas Vanek going for just a 3rd rounder, or even P.A. Parenteau going for a measly 6th rounder, there were better options out there for better value.
Still, he addressed his needs nicely, so he gets a ‘B’.
I also gave Stan Bowman a ‘B’ out in Chicago. They needed depth, so he went out and got Jurco from Detroit for a 3rd round pick, a move that also helps them in the expansion draft. Jurco has a ton of offensive potential, so I could honestly see him thriving long term in Chicago if he’s given that chance.
Then he addressed some depth on defense by bringing back Trevor Daley, a move that I believe will help both on the ice and in the room. Although both moves were minor, I thought he did a good job without paying a premium.
(B-) – DAVID POILE
The Preds have an incredibly solid roster. Their goaltending is set, there’s really no room to add on defense. So the only hole they have is up front, and even that isn’t a massive concern if their stars play up to their full potential (Johansen, Forsberg etc).
Poile only made one move, snatching up P.A. Parenteau for a 6th round pick. For a player with 13 goals and 27 points in 59 games, that is some absolutely incredible value.
I liked that Poile sat back and didn’t try to force a move or shake things up too much. But when a golden opportunity to make your team better falls into your lap, you have to jump on it. It was quiet, but I think that’s what makes this season of moves even more impressive for the veteran GM Poile.
Did I miss anyone who you felt deserved a high grade? Let me know in the forum or on Twitter @ty89yar
UP NEXT: It’s always more fun to be negative, so tune in next for the bottom half of my GM Rankings.
This year’s Hart Trophy award has been narrowed down to a two-man race between Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Our writer Tony Brar put together an excellent article talking about which one of the two could win the award. Obviously, they deserve to be front-runners in the conversation but there’s one guy flying under the radar: Jeff Carter.
Jeff Carter has put the offense on his back this season. In goals scored, the LA Kings only have two players in double-digits with Carter leading the way with 29 goals. There is only one other player in the league that has more goals and that it is fellow Hart Trophy candidate, Sidney Crosby. Number 77 has scored 21% of the Kings goals which is more than anybody else in the NHL. Technically, those numbers make Jeff Carter the most valuable player to his team offensively. Nine of Carter’s 29 goals were game-winning goals with four of them coming in overtime. Those nine goals are not only the most game-winning goals by a player this year but the difference between the Kings being in a playoff spot and them being in sixth in the seven-team Pacific Division.
On a personal level, Jeff Carter is currently on pace for 42 goals in 82 games, meaning he would finish the season with four fewer goals than his career high (46). It’s not out of the question that Carter could surpass that mark.
The LA Kings have had an extremely unfortunate season with injuries and bad performances. The fact they’re in a playoff spot with no Jonathan Quick, an underachieving Anze Kopitar and a Tyler Toffoli that’s missed 19 games due to injury in pretty remarkable. Jeff Carter is a big reason to why the Kings are where they are.
When it all comes down to it, the Hart Trophy award is defined as the “player most valuable to his team.” Having scored 21% of his team’s goals, you’d think that Jeff Carter would tick the box for the league’s most coveted individual award. All Carter has to do is keep his team in the playoff race to have a shot at the Hart.
(photo via thehockeynews.com)
The match-ups in the Western Conference this year have to be some of the tightest we’ve seen in years. Our writers/podcasters sat down and took their hacks at who will win each series. Enjoy and feel free to debate in the comments!
(photo via forbes.com)
This time of year the obsession is always based around deadline pickups, but after taking a look at the last 6 Stanley Cup Champions, and comparing the rosters of those who repeated, it became even more evident than before that you can’t rely on free agents, deadline pickups and outside help if you want to get on top, and stay there.