The belief is that William Nylander won’t be a Maple Leaf for very long, even if he signs a bridge deal. Where’s a good long-term fit for him?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I think Carolina is obviously the best fit. It’s clear they have interest, and they have the pieces on defence to get it done. Outside of them, I could see Columbus making a push this summer if they lose Artemi Panarin to free agency.
Philadelphia could be hungry for a big splash, as could Anaheim, Minnesota or LA should they miss the playoffs. I could see the Rangers being interested as well. Every team should be making a pitch though.
WYATT ZIEGER: I’ve been preaching it for over a year, but I firmly believe that William Nylander will be an Anaheim Duck. Anaheim is out of the division so they’ll only have to see him twice a season and Toronto is in desperate need of a top 4 right defensemen. The Ducks have two in Brandon Montour and Josh Manson.
Montour, 24, has a higher ceiling offensively and is a power play specialist. Manson is a big boy, who loves to throw the body and is one becoming one of the hardest defensive defensemen to play against.
I assume Toronto would lean more towards Montour because he is three years younger than Manson and can grow with the Maple Leafs young core. Throw in whatever draft picks to make the HFBoards crowd happy and let’s get the ball rolling.
IAN SHEPPARD: Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes have an estimated $23 million in cap space right, and a flurry of draft picks after the Jeff Skinner trade with Buffalo. With Nylander wanting somewhere between $8-10 million a season the Hurricanes have the enough to pay the talented winger what he wants.
They also have the ability to trade some higher end draft picks with four selections in the first three rounds this year. Not to mention a few next years they could with as well. For Carolina who currently sits just outside of a Wild Card spot, Nylander would be the perfect piece to throw into their top-six and help them reach the post-season.
After 20 games, which team would you say improved the most thanks to their offseason moves?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: How could you say anyone other than Buffalo? Starting in free agency when they signed Carter Hutton, basically getting a number one goalie for nothing more than a cap-hit.
They acquired Conor Sheary, who has been a good fit when he’s been healthy. They realized that Casey Mittelstadt and Jack Eichel were there future top-six centres, so they dealt Ryan O’Reilly for Tage Thompson, Vlad Sobotka, and Patrik Berglund which gave them tremendous depth.
Oh yeah, they also got Jeff Skinner who has become one of the most lethal goal scorers in the NHL. He already had three game winners as well.
They didn’t have to sell the farm either. They still have four first round picks over the next two drafts. They could stock up at this year’s deadline and make a serious run.
WYATT ZIEGER: It’s got to be everyone’s favourite new wagon, the Buffalo Sabres who made out like gangbusters this summer.
The offseason started by trading Ryan O’Reilly for essentially two over-the-hill players in Sobotka and Berglund and a promising prospect in Tage Thompson, a trade which plugged depth holes for Buffalo.
On the same day, they signed Carter Hutton, who has been a revelation after the train wreck that was Robin Lehner in net.
But the biggest move of them all; Acquiring Jeff Skinner for a B- level prospect in Cliff Pu, plus a 2nd, 3rd and 6th round picks. Skinner looks like currently sits tied for second in league scoring with 19 goals after scoring only 24 all of last year.
IAN SHEPPARD: Calgary Flames: Sure, there are some more obvious choices out there, but let’s think outside the box a little here. The Flames made a big splash this past off-season trading Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and a prospect to Carolina in exchange for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. They also picked up free-agent Derek Ryan who played under current Flames Head Coach Bill Peters in Carolina.
Currently, Lindholm, Hanifin, and Ryan all find themselves in the top-10 in scoring for the Flames. Lindholm with 24 points (11G-13A) Hanifin with 11 (2G-9A) and Ryan with 8 (3G-5A) all play a significant role in the Flames success this year.
Not to mention David Rittich who was on the roster last year but brought back as a free agent this past offseason and has been the better goaltender on the team. Looking at these contributions, it’s no surprise the Flames find themselves currently at the top of a tight Pacific Division.
Who is the best offensive defenseman in the NHL?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: In past years, I would have said Erik Karlsson because he’s always been head and shoulders above his peers in my opinion. This year, you could say, Brent Burns, Morgan Rielly, or one of three other names and make a good argument.
I’m going to go with the guy who has surprised me the most, and that’s Thomas Chabot. In just his second season, he’s stepped in and become their best defender. He eats tough minutes and plays against the other teams best, and his offence doesn’t suffer. He ranks top three in almost every underlying offensive stat. Incredible.
WYATT ZIEGER: The legend, the myth, the beard, Brent Burns.
Although Burns has been snake bitten recently when it comes to scoring with only three goals through 26 games; even without the higher goal volume this season he is still at a point per game, over a quarter of the way through the season.
This season and last Burns shooting percentage this season is almost half of his career average, so there is hope the switch still flips this season.
Look for the forward turned D-man to contend for another Norris this season.
IAN SHEPPARD: Morgan Reilly: Reilly is currently second in scoring among defenseman with 28 points (9G-19A) just one point back of first place. Reilly has been enjoying an increased scoring output since the start of the year. With Reilly on the first pairing of a paper-thin Leaf’s defensive core, his almost double-digit number in goals is the perfect balance for an already offensive-heavy team.