1 – Which underdog do you think will advance past round one?
IAN SHEPPARD: The New York Islanders. The Isles have the higher seed so I guess it wouldn’t technically be an upset but with Pittsburgh’s playoff and cup experience, I see this as an upset. Before Game 1 I believed the Isle would find a way to upset the Penguins. Everything about their season so far has made me believe they are capable of more than a first-round exit.
The Penguins have always been that team that finds a way to make a run but to me, if any team has a shot to upset them in the first round it’s New York. The Isles won Game 1 in OT and were outshot 44-33 so I think it will be a long series but I see New York coming out on top.
WYATT ZIEGER: Everyone loves a first-round upset. I suppose the underdog list contains; NYI, CAR, COL, TML, DAL and CBJ.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Is Vegas considered an upset since they are the lower seed? I would like to say them, or Pittsburgh for that matter, but those don’t feel like true upsets to me given those two teams recent history of playoff success.
My answer will be the Maple Leafs. Speed and skill are the way the new NHL is played and in game one, you saw that on full display. When things shift back to Toronto, Mike Babcock can just roll Mitch Marner out against Zdeno Chara and watch his young winger fly around the ageing d-man. Game one allowed them to grab home-ice advantage, and I expect the Leafs to take advantage of that.
2 – Who was the most effective trade deadline pickup?
IAN SHEPPARD: It’s tough to say this early into the playoffs. That’s where I really measure which moves worked best. You could the flurry of trades made by Columbus were the best, with them sneaking into the playoffs and winning Game 1 against Tampa. But I’ll go with a bit of a dark horse and say Jake Muzzin.
That’s right Jake Muzzin! Why you ask? Well in Game 1 for Toronto he played just over 20 minutes and notched one assist, two hits and one block. So in an early playoff so far I’ll go with Muzzin, but I assume my answer will change the deeper the postseason goes.
WYATT ZIEGER: With his team ahead 1-0 over the Bruins, things are looking pretty okay for Toronto’s Jake Muzzin. He’s been as advertised for the Leafs and even picked up an assist in the W. Muzzin was severely underrated on the Kings and now being in the centre of the universe, on the biggest stage, the casual fan is starting to realize how good he really is.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: It’s Mark Stone! He notched a pair in the Golden Knight’s playoff opener but if you put that aside, I still think he’s been the best deadline pickup. Vegas got themselves a true top line winger and can afford to put him on their newly formed second line. He’s either going to get easier matchups if the other team focuses on Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith or he’ll create easier matchups for the teams’ top line. The impact he’ll have on their powerplay is massive as well.
3 – Which team benefited most from the draft lottery? (Chicago from 12 to 3, New York from 4 to 2, or New Jersey from 3 to 1)
IAN SHEPPARD: The obvious answer is the Blackhawks moving up from number 12 to three. But I’m going to say the Rangers. They moved up four spots just like the Devils but they’ll land Kaapo Kakko assuming the Devils select Jack Hughes. Chicago will still end up with a high-quality player at three, but the Rangers landing a player like Kakko when they could have been selecting 6th overall is a huge steal.
WYATT ZIEGER: This is a tough question but I’m going to look down the road and go with the Chicago Blackhawks.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: You could obviously make a case for all three of these teams because winning the lottery is sweet no matter what. But I will also say the Chicago Blackhawks. I think Bowen Byram is going to be a true top-pairing defenseman in the mould of Morgan Reilly, a fellow WHL product. He’s dynamic with the puck, has a smooth stride, and can control the game from the backend. Moving up from 12 to grab a player like Byram is massive.