There are ten players on pace for 50 goals, how many will actually hit it?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Alex Ovechkin appears to be a lock at this point. He’s on pace for over 60 goals, so I can’t see him cooling off too much. Patrik Laine, Jeff Skinner, David Pastrnak, Brayden Point, Joe Pavelski, Sean Monohan, and Nathan MacKinnon all have 20+ right now. I think Laine, Skinner, Pastrnak, Point, and MacKinnon could all realistically do it. MacKinnon is only shooting 15% too, this is very sustainable.
Keep an eye out for Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews as well. Matthews was hurt and if he’s healthy, could torch the league in the second half and I would never bet against McDavid to do anything. I could see as many as eight players hit the 50 goal plateau.
WYATT ZIEGER: It’s crazy to think the last two seasons we’ve had zero players score 50 goals and this year we could have three.
IAN SHEPPARD: I believe there are only three players in the top ten right now who could legitimately reach 50 goals this season. Alex Ovechkin has reached the 50-goal mark seven times in his career and is already halfway there this season with 52 games left to be played.
Patrik Laine has yet to hit 50 in his career but came close last year with 44. He currently sits at 21 and his rocket of a shot should net him another 29. And finally, Nathan MacKinnon, who the closest he’s come to 50 was 39 goals last year. MacKinnon has 20 through 31 games this year but with the assist-master Mikko Rantanen on his wing, MacKinnon will hit 50 goals for the first time in his career this year.
Lots of rumours swirling around the St. Louis Blues, who is most likely to get moved?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Doug Armstrong is a very bold General Manager, but I’m not sure we see any of their big names moves this season. They all come with big cap-hits and have term, so I’m not sure how many contending teams could realistically squeeze them in unless the Blues take back a contract which I’ve heard they aren’t keen on doing.
Out of the big names, I think Colton Parayko has the best chance to be moved on. There will be no shortage of teams willing to pay a hefty price for the 25-year-old right shot defender and if the Blues create a bidding war, they could get an offer they can’t refuse.
WYATT ZIEGER: Sad times in St.Louis, a huge offseason saw them acquire Ryan O’Reilly from Buffalo but that hasn’t panned out the way they hoped.
IAN SHEPPARD: Two names come to mind on this topic. Patrick Maroon and Jay Bouwmeester. Not because of trade value but because both are UFA’s at the end of the season and make over $8 million this season combined. Could be good pieces to move by or before the deadline.
I don’t see them moving pillar pieces like Vladimir Tarasenko or Colton Parayko, but Alexander Steen or David Perron are also veterans that could be moved to free cap space. Over the next three seasons, Steen is said to make $5.75 million while Perron will come with a $4million cap hit over four years.
Out of the teams currently not in a playoff spot, who is most likely to make the big dance?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: The Eastern Conference does not look very good to me. The Penguins are the only team outside of the playoffs that I could see making the playoffs, so they’ll be my answer from there.
Out West, I like Dallas and Minnesota, but I’ll give the edge to the Stars. I love their high-end offensive weapons and I’m excited to see what their blueline looks like once they’re 100% healthy. Miro Heiskanen has been a sensation as well. Just looks so smooth and calm. Hard to believe he’s a rookie. Ben Bishop needs to stay healthy as well, but I think the Stars could be a playoff team. As far as who could miss? I’m not a big believer in the aging Anaheim Ducks.
WYATT ZIEGER: The Easy answer is Pittsburgh because its the obvious answer. The Penguins haven’t missed the playoffs in 9 years and don’t expect that trend to drop off.
IAN SHEPPARD: Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens currently sit three points out of the final Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh has been in this position before and come through and the veteran leadership of Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Phil Kessel this team will find a way to make it back to the postseason.
Now there have been rumours that the team may be moving some pieces like Kessel, while goaltending has been a question mark at times for them this year, but I still believe this team finds a way. They always do.