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 courtesy of ESPN
Not again you were thinking. The Washington Capitals aren’t going to be knocked out before the conference final AGAIN! Sure enough, you wake up to the same story.
Caps ousted by Pens…What will Capitals do after another early exit? Ovechkin to…Vegas?!
Everyone’s autopsy report of the Capitals situation shows something different even a week later. Fire the coach. Trade Ovechkin. Do very little or nothing. But with a number of free agents – restricted and unrestricted – change is coming. What the change will look like however, is anyone’s guess.
The Capitals trading Troy Brouwer for T.J. Oshie in the summer of 2015 proved to the hockey world Washington had a two-year window with this new core of players to win a championship. The problem is they didn’t win and now comes the difficult personnel decisions. Signing players like Brooks Orpik to five million dollar plus deals hurts when youngsters Burakovsky and Kuznetsov need big raises. The list of meaningful free agents isn’t that long but carry a lot of salary.
Capitals RFAs: Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Brett Connolly, Nate Schmidt, Philipp Grubauer
Capitals UFAs: T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Daniel Winnik, Paul Carey, Kevin Shattenkirk, Tom Gilbert
From the free-agent list, it’s clear restricted free agents will set the tone for the Caps moving forward. Whichever contract comes first between Evgeny Kuznetsov and Leon Draisaitl will be instrumental in how restricted contracts will go this summer as the two youngsters seem to be comparable. Kuznetsov is going to want similar money, if not more than Draisaitl and vice-versa for the Oilers forward who is just coming off his 77 point season, the same career high Kuznetsov had in 2015-16 when he finished tied for 9th in league scoring.
They aren’t similar players though. Kuznetsov hasn’t scored more than twenty goals in a season, while Draisaitl nearly hit 30 goals this campaign. They should get similar deals regardless, but whichever one comes first sets the precedent for the other. I would say 6.5-7.5 million is the ballpark figure, but one thing about the NHL offseason is you can never truly know what a contract is going to look like.
Nikita Kucherov’s contract was larcenous last summer, coming off of back-to-back mid 60 points seasons, the twenty-three-year-old signed for three years at $4.7M per season. Ouch. Maybe each team can take a page out of the Lightning playbook and say you need to take a pay cut to stick around. This methodology makes sense for the Oilers as they need to sign McDavid’s extension sooner rather than later and hope you get the number in the low double-digits. But it likely won’t work for the Capitals who’ve stumbled many times on the championship path.
The Caps must consider moving someone from the veteran forward core to insulate a “new wave” of Washington playmakers. Burakovsky seems like a great asset moving forward and looked good for several shifts playing in Ovechkin’s stead on the top line. If the Capitals are wise, the 22-year-old will get a deal with term and reasonable money to set the tone. If they could get him in the high three million to low four million range, I think they’d be happy. Richard Panik is worth $2.8 Million for example and Burakovsky has tons more upside.
Any trade the Capitals pull off would appear to be bold (insert Craig MacTavish jokes) but if you need to move a forward that has value and a high cap hit, I would trade Nicklas Backstrom. As the rumour mill swirls and swirls about Ovechkin’s whereabouts in the playoffs – how about Backstrom’s? He’s been a part of all the same postseason unluckiness shall we say, does he get let out of the hook?
Backstrom has lots of value as a 29-year-old, first line center, coming off an 86 point season and an insanely consistent career as a top flight NHL player. Since entering the league Backstrom has played in 734 games and has 728 points. 2010-11 might be his worst season besides his injury ridden 2011-12 (where he put up more than a point a game). He only scored 65 points that year.
Considering the tepid free agency pool and the general uncertainty with Las Vegas, would Nicklas Backstrom wet the appetite for a team that misses on Ilya Kovalchuk or Martin Hanzal in the UFA category? Perhaps. His value should be high. Is it a deal the Capitals would look at if they’re serious about a shakeup?
The Leafs made the Capitals defense look loose often and the way the Metropolitan Division is going, they might try a straight across defenceman trade to synthesis someone else into their lineup. That appears to be the only way a new established NHLer comes into their defense.
The Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik contracts came with big prices in 2014 that won’t allow them much flexibility to bring back both Dmitri Orlov and Karl Alzner.
If it comes between the two the Capitals must side on the wave of youth if they’re serious about a team rehaul. Orlov, 25, is three years younger than Alzner and would appear to have much more upside than the plateaued first rounder from 2007. Orlov might be cheaper too depending on the general manager and whether Alzner, unrestricted, wants to test the market.
Behind teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, Alzner could be the second best defenseman come July 1. Alzner would be cheaper than Shattenkirk and doesn’t appear to have much of an attitude problem or issues in the dressing room. Teams don’t like rock-the-boat players.
My guess when it comes to Shattenkirk is the Rangers sign him because it’s July and it’s the New York Rangers. It’s what they do.
The word seems to be the Caps won’t resign Justin Williams which would clear over $3M on the books, roughly the same amount of money they need to placate the raise for Burakovsky. But big holes in the top six remain if T.J. isn’t returned. Recently, Oshie expressed he wants to stay in Washington and you’d assume there’s mutual interest. Losing your top two right wingers for nothing is something must teams couldn’t handle. But where does the money come from for Oshie who is likely due for a pay raise from four million dollars?
Washington could bring back most of their big names and again be a cap team, but they would be a top heavy roster and have to get clever quick on how to find no-name players who can plug holes for them.
Pittsburgh does it with Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. Chicago has done it forever before them. But if the Capitals can’t win with established players, what makes you believe they would be able to do with these guys?
Frankly, the Capitals are going to need to look hard at their core group and decide if they keep spinning the tires on them.
I know nothing about the Washington Capitals fan base. But a quick search on Reddit found a thread, not a day old titled “Number of years this team has taken off your life.” Yikes.
Caps fans are ready for a shoe to drop. The boldest of them would be somehow trading Ovie/Backstrom, which is tough. A long summer lies ahead of Washington. And a team like Ottawa getting through to the third round with their talent pool and notorious owner won’t ease any frustration for an already ailing fan base.
We have another Russian returning to the NHL, this year, it’s former Atlanta Thrasher and New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk who left us all back in 2013 to head back to his homeland.
Before he left, Kovalchuk had just played in a shortened NHL season where he racked up 31 points in 37 games. The season before that, he had also made his first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals with the Devils but unfortunately couldn’t come out of it with a ring. During that season, Kovalchuk reached the 80 point mark for the first time since 2009 when he was part of the Atlanta Thrashers organization.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I don’t see a scenario the Maple Leafs outscore the Capitals, simply based on depth. I don’t see a scenario where Braden Holtby is outplayed by Frederik Andersen. I don’t see a scenario where a blue line that features Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak can outplay a team with Shattenkirk, Niskanen, Carlson (if healthy) and Orlov. This should be a sweep, so I’m not even going to complicate things.
Liam Horrobin: It’s fair to say that this is the most one-sided series out of all of them this post-season. The Maples Leafs have plenty of scoring on their side but the Caps can pretty much double that. We still don’t know what’s happening with Andersen too which will be a big fact. Overall, the Caps will just simply overpower the young leafs.
Taylor Paniccia: While it’s exciting times in the 6ix for the Maple Leafs and the hype around the kid phenom Auston
Matthews, this is the worst matchup for the Leafs to get involved in. While I believe the Leafs will be an offensive powerhouse in the near future I don’t see them keeping up to the big guns of the Capitals. From goaltending in Brayden Holtby to their sound defense core, to the deep forward roster, topped off with offensive horses such as Ovechkin and Backstrom, I believe that the Caps are the most well-rounded team in the NHL. The Capitals ceiling for cup potential is higher than ever in recent years and look for the President Trophy winners to blow away the Leafs quickly.
Brayden Engel: This is absolutely the best case scenario for the Leafs. They came into the regular season with no expectations and now enter the postseason with similar optimism. Getting to watch the best team in the league skate circles around them will really help keep their egos in check and show them just how far away they are from where they need to be. I think they’re incredibly outmatched but have the ability to outscore even the best team and give the Caps a bit of a scare before they wake up and pull away.
Josh Goodings: Poor Leafs fans. So close to having an easy ride to the second round against Ottawa, but fall one point short and have to cross over to the big bad Metro division and face the best team in the NHL. The Leafs are probably going to lose to Washington, who very well could win the Stanley Cup this year, but they should have no shame in that. What the Leafs did this year was amazing, going from 30th in the NHL in 15/16 to a playoff berth in 16/17, lead by three-star rookies in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. The future is very bright for the Leafs, but I think they’re gonna have to wait another year to win their first playoff series since 2004.
Devin Horne: This Caps team is insanely good, like really, really good. Third overall for goals scored and first in goals against, by quite a gap too. The next closest team, Columbus let in 193 pucks this year while Washington only 177. That’s 2.15 goals against the Caps a game. Add to that Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin, and a deadline pickup in Kevin Shattenkirk, dude has 14 points in 19 games with Washington. I think this may be the year we see Ovie hoist, Lord Stanley. Leafs are pretty exciting, but they’re too young and too inexperienced. They’ll be a pretty exciting team this decade. Again, because of this awful playoff format, we’ll see the Caps and Pens in the second round, instead of the Eastern Conference Final. NHL fix this!
Tyler Yaremchuk: I’ve toss and turned on this series for a long time. The Blue Jackets are an incredibly difficult team to beat. They never stop checking and will out work all game if nothing else. If their offense can wake up, I have no problem taking them in six or seven. On the other hands, could I really bet against a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Even with a depleted defense, they’re so solid. This could really go either way, and these two teams hate each other, which will only add to the excitement of this first round matchup. One of the hardest predict, but I’m going with my heart on this one.
Liam Horrobin: It’s disappointing to see these two heavyweights going at it in the first-round but it is what it is. The Penguins have just lost Kris Letang which will be a huge loss for them and I believe could be a series decider. The Blue Jackets, with Bobrovsky between the pipes, have got all they need to take down the Pens. Rookie star Zach Werenski will also have to lead by example at the back end for the Jackets.
Taylor Paniccia: A season series won by the Blue Jackets this matchup is possibly the most tightly matched round one series. The Blue Jackets key to winning this series is their Vezina favoured goalie in Bobrovsky shutting the door and the all important shut-down matchup between Dubinsky and Crosby. Home-ice to me will be big in this one as well as special teams as both teams are good at home and on the special teams. Based purely on gut feeling and Stanley Cup defenders look for the Penguins to take down Lumbo in a long back and forth series.
Brayden Engel: After a white-hot streak in December, Torts’ Jackets have cooled off of late which is not something you want to hear about the team who’s about to take on Sidney Crosby and the defending Cup champs. While it’s hard to repeat these days, I don’t see the Pens having much difficulty with Columbus. Too much skill up and down the lineup, even with Letang out.
Josh Goodings: This is a very tight matchup between the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the East. Pittsburgh vs Columbus has become a heated rivalry ever since the two teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Columbus is now a very well rounded team with a great young defense core in front Sergei Bobrovsky, a soon to be two-time Vezina trophy winner, who I believe could be the key to Columbus winning this series. Pittsburgh also has a very good goaltender in Matt Murray, who was a big reason the Penguins won the cup last year, and I think he’ll hold his own in this goalie battle. The biggest difference in this series is that CBJ doesn’t have a Sidney Crosby, or an Evgeni Malkin. With those two healthy Pittsburgh is capable of beating anyone. The one red flag in Pittsburgh’s title defense is the injury of Kris Letang, that’s a massive blow to the Pens and could be their downfall if they meet Washington in the second round. Despite that, I still think they can get past Columbus without Letang.
Devin Horne: You can’t bet against Sidney Crosby and the Pens, last year’s Cup champs. Crosby and Malkin are just deadly, and who hasn’t loved this renaissance of Phil Kessel? Losing Kris Letang is a huge loss, but those three forwards alone have 70 plus points this year. Columbus will give them some trouble, especially with Bobrovsky between the pipes. Again, playoff experience is huge especially in the first round when teams haven’t had that first round victory to boost them. Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, and Alexander Wennberg just can’t match the Pens firepower.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Price vs Lundqvist? I take Price every day of the week. The only way this series goes to the Rangers is if Lundqvist steals it himself. The Rangers defense is awful, their offense lacks a scoring superstar, they simply aren’t built for a long run in my mind. The Habs have been up and down all season, but they at least have all the ingredients for a team ready to take a plunge into round two in my mind.
Liam Horrobin: Carey Price will be challenged in this series against a Rangers team who finished fourth in the NHL in goals. Despite that, the Rangers finished the season freezing cold losing seven of their last 10 games. With the Rangers recent form and Carey Price being the best goaltender in the world, I can see the Canadiens taking this one.
Taylor Paniccia: A matchup that can easily go both ways. As far as I’m concerned this can be a sweep by the Canadiens as Price purely dominates the declining New York Rangers or the Habs can pull out their inconsistent ways and get beaten in a long and fast series. The Habs swept the Rangers in the season series three straight. All eyes will be on the goaltending matchup that should most likely be won by Carey Price. Price has shutout the Rangers seven times in his career the most against any team and poses a 15-5-1 record against them lifetime. Both these teams have a very loud home-ice advantage but look for the Bell Centre to be a little bit louder with a Canadiens series win.
Brayden Engel: I see most of us feel the same way about this series and it’s tough to disagree. Price is the best in the world and has an insane record in elimination games which means he can turn it on when it counts. He’s carried this team before and this won’t be any different.
Josh Goodings: This is a pretty close matchup between two similar teams. Both the Rangers and Habs are pretty average teams that are held up by world-class goaltenders, and it will likely come down to the goalie matchup. That matchup isn’t nearly as close as it was the last time these teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Despite having a few rough months this season, Carey Price is still one of, if not the best goalie(s) in the world, and is capable of winning this series largely by himself. Lundqvist, on the other hand, seems to be falling off at the age of 35, posting a .910 SV% this season, the lowest of his career. This might be because the Rangers defense is not nearly as good as it was when they won the President’s trophy in 14/15. Although they’re pretty close, I’d say the Habs are the better team and have the better goalie. They also swept the season series 3-0. So as long as Chris Kreider doesn’t take out Price again, the Habs should be fine.
Devin Horne: The Rangers looked pretty great earlier this season, but the holes in their defensive core are pretty glaring now. I don’t think Hank alone can bring them a victory here, his GAA and save percentage both slipped a bit this season. Habs have been pretty good this year, Carey Price is back to his usual self and the addition of Alexander Radulov has been a great pick up.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Two teams being thrown around by injuries to end the season. Two teams who have struggled with inconsistency all season. This is as much of a toss up as any other series. In the end, I like the Senators to take it. It’s incredibly close and will likely come down to one goal in game six or seven. Boston drives possession and creates chances better than Ottawa, and if they can keep things at 5v5 they should have the edge.
Liam Horrobin: I can’t wait to watch this series, said nobody ever. Both sides are rigged with injuries to important players and don’t have too many superstars. This series will not be one to remember in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, however, we’ve still got to give a prediction. In my eyes, Brad Marchand will help the Bruins come out on top over the Ottawa Senators.
Taylor Paniccia: The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the post-season with a negative goal differential. Weird. But this is a good first round matchup for them as they swept the season series four games straight as this could be a big mental boost for them. Just based on season series I have the Senators taking down the Bruins but making a quick second round exit.
Brayden Engel: This is must miss TV. These are the two worst teams in the playoffs as far as I’m concerned with the Sens being riddled with injuries and the Bruins being old and dirty. That said, it will likely be a tightly contested series with a lot of variables. Karlsson has to play every game for the Sens to have a chance but that will be for naught if Anderson can’t find his game. In the end, I’m going to err on the side of experience in Rask, Bergeron, and Marchand.
Josh Goodings: The Senators are the worst team in the playoffs this year. They’re the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential, and if they didn’t have Erik Karlsson they’d have a pretty good shot at drafting Nolan Patrick this summer. Despite being swept in the season series by Ottawa, Boston is the better team and should be moving on to the second round.
Devin Horne: Both teams suffered from injuries and inconsistency this year, and both nearly limped into the postseason. Ottawa does not generate enough offence, they’re the worst offensive team to make the postseason. The Bruins power play was seventh best this year, and they finished the season with the league’s best penalty kill. Also, I love Brad Marchand, a pest who also finished sixth in league scoring. That most recent incidents was pretty disgusting though.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The NHL all-star weekend is over which means it’s time to get back to business, and by business, I mean beating your friends at fantasy hockey.
Games actually won’t get back underway until Tuesday, so again another none seven day game week.
Now, until the trade deadline, you should start keeping on eye out for players that are in the trade talks. A new change of scenario could change a players season around. Also keep a look out for players returning from injury, like Max Domi
This week’s list will contain players who will help you in daily, weekly and dynasty leagues.
Let’s get going.
Jason Zucker – Minnesota Wild
ESPN Owned Percentage: 34.7%
The Minnesota Wild forward is having himself a career year racking up 33 points in 48 games. In his last 10 games, Zucker has continued to build on those numbers scoring nine points helping the Wild maintain their spot at the top of the Central. One downfall with Zucker is that he doesn’t play on the power play, obviously, you’d like to see your players play on the odd man but Zucker is still having success without that extra ice time. When I play fantasy I really enjoy to pair up linemates, if you own Mikael Granlund then you’re going to want Zucker too.
Andre Burakovsky – Washington Capitals
ESPN Owned Percentage: 24.5%
Burakovsky has made the list two weeks in a row now because he simply keeps performing at a high level. Since the last time we spoke about him, the Caps forward has scored five points in three games, maintaining his hot streak. The only issue with Burakovsky is he isn’t playing top-six minutes meaning it’s unlikely he’ll be able to continue this for much longer. We can only hope that eventually, he’ll make his way up to the depth chart and gains more minutes.
Alexander Burmistrov – Arizona Coyotes
ESPN Owned Percentage: 1.5%
Since joining the Arizona Coyotes Alexander Burmistrov has been superb. Burmistrov has scored a point in every game but one since January 16th and has been Arizona’s best forward. So far, he hasn’t been a huge contributor on the powerplay, nevertheless, at least he is getting minutes which means those points will come. Also, a big reason to pick up Burmistrov is because of the fire sale the Yotes are likely to have in the next couple of weeks. They’re allowing Hanzel, Vrbata and maybe Doan to all leave come trade deadline which would give Burmistrov the opportunity to move up the depth chart.
Dmitry Orlov – Washington Capitals
ESPN Owned Percentage: 37.6%
Despite being on pace for 41 points this season, Dmitry Orlov continues to go unnoticed by more than half of all leagues. The Caps defenseman is playing a little less than 20 minutes a night and is ranked in the top 25 for points by a defenseman. Orlov was a big contributor in both of the Caps victories last week scoring four points in only three games. Orlov is also a nice player to slip into your lineup in you’re a John Carlson owner, who is currently injured.
BTI back at it again, this time predicting round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Washington Capitals (1) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one is going to be so tight. It’ll go the distance (6-7 games) and I really like both of these teams, whoever can escape here is my pick to win the cup. Holtby has been a monster in the playoffs and the Capitals have better offense in my mind. This Caps team also plays much better when the games get close, their Goals For % is 57.1% when the games are close. Ill take the Capitals in 7.
Taylor Paniccia: Sit back and sort of relax? This series is going deep. Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, hell even depth players for Pittsburgh are chipping in. Pittsburgh’s offense can’t be tamed and it won’t slow down this series. Washington had troubles against a weak Philadelphia offence and the Pittsburgh Penguins will now expose Washington’s lack of scoring from round 1. You can argue goaltending for the Washington Capitals but it doesn’t seem like Pittsburgh’s goaltending has blemished. Pittsburgh in 7!
Josh Goodings: This series is very hard to predict, but I’m confident that it very well might be the best series of the playoffs. I agree with Tyler, whoever takes this series will be my pick to take it all. The Pens have been on another level for months now, and looked amazing taking out the Rangers in 5, but the Caps have been at the top of the standings all year long for a reason. Each team has plenty of stars up front, Crosby-Malkin-Kessel, Ovi-Backstrom-Kuznetsov, but in terms of overall forward depth I like the Caps. Kris Letang is the best defenceman in the series, but once again I think the Caps take the edge in overall defence depth. Although they’re facing some of the best offensive players in the game, I think both Murray and Holtby will be impressive in this series, but I don’t think the rookie will outshine the soon to be Vezina winner. I’d love to see the Pens move on, but this is the Caps year, it’s their time. Capitals in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: It’s safe to predict it’ll be a long series (Can you imagine a sweep? That would be something). Even with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel I can see Holbty standing his ground. Over the past 2 playoff campaigns Holbty is sporting a .950 SV%. We did see that Washington had some trouble scoring against the Flyers, but, I think that will turn around. They’re facing Matt Murray, and Washington has enough fire power to rattle the rookie. Though, even if it was Fleury in net, I don’t think I would feel any different given Fleury’s history. I have Capitals in 7.
Consensus Pick: Capitals
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) vs New York Islanders (5)
Tyler Yaremchuk: On paper, this should be the Lightning easily. If Ben Bishop can play like the Vezina Finalist he is then Tampa should be going to their second straight Conference Finals. But it’s never that simple. Tavares and Greiss are giving the Islanders a lot of hope. If they can get a few players to contribute some secondary scoring (Lee, Nelson, Nielsen) then they could take this series. Although the Islanders finished higher in the standings, it will still be an upset if they win and I like upsets. Islanders in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: Tampa Bay’s roster is deeper and more experienced and you can’t leave out the fact that Greiss is going up against a Vezina finalist in Ben Bishop. While the Islanders did prove me wrong in round 1 it was a very tight series not very many mistakes were made. Look for this series to be a little more offensively open than the Islanders 1st round and Tampa will run away with their better transition game and high powered scoring offense. Tampa in 7.
Josh Goodings: This series shouldn’t be a problem for the Lighting, they have better forward depth, better defence, and a Vezina candidate between the pipes. Even without Steven Stamkos they’re the better team. But not so fast, John Tavares and Thomas Greiss were amazing in the first round and carried that over into Game 1 of this series, giving the Isles a 1-0 series lead and taking away home ice advantage from the Lightning. I still think the Bolts are the better team and will win this series but don’t count the Isles out. Tampa in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Tampa Bay may be missing their best player, but, they’re still a deeper team with Vezina candidate goaltending, backed up by a very solid Vasilevskiy. The Islanders deserve more credit than they’re getting from the hockey world, but, they were outplayed a lot of the time during their first round match-up against the Panthers. However, John Tavares was outstanding for them in the first round and if he can keep it up this could be a long series. I’ll take Lightning in 6.
Consensus pick: Tampa
Dallas Stars (1) vs St. Louis Blues (2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Dallas proved me wrong in round one, I dont think they can do it again against a much better St. Louis team. Elliot is too hot and they’re getting contributions from all parts of their lineup. A Seguin return may spark something but I don’t think it will be enough. Blues in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: Dallas simply can not fall asleep like they did at times against the Minnesota Wild. They are going up against a much better St. Louis team. Based on goaltending and how good Elliot has been I have the Blues taking this one quickly. Blues in 5.
Josh Goodings: The Blues biggest challenge in the west were the Chicago Blackhawks, and they conquered them. I think by beating the Hawks they proved they’re the top team in the Western conference, and I think it’s easy sailing to the west finals. Dallas did look impressive against Minnesota… at times, but that just won’t be enough to beat the Blues. Throw in a Tyler Seguin injury and a very hot Brian Elliot and I think this is an easy series for St.Louis. Blues in 5.
Niti Krasniqi: One of these teams is better all around than the other. Though, 3 of their 5 regular season matchup’s needed OT. The other 2 were 3-0 victories for each side. I can see the Dallas Stars putting up a fight and dragging this one out longer than they probably should. Stars obviously miss Tyler Seguin but his production in the post season is pretty poor in comparison to his regular season stats. (0.83 PPG vs. 0.42 PPG) – almost slashed in half. At the end of the day I don’t think Seguin’s absence will be the deciding factor in this series. Blues have the better team. Blues in 7.
Consensus pick: Blues
San Jose Sharks (6) vs Nashville Predators (7)
Tyler Yaremchuk: A battle of two strong possesion teams (both top 10 in CF%) and whoever can take this series is who I will be rooting for to win the Cup. Nashville played very well against Anaheim in round one, but I still look at that series as Anaheim loosing not Nashville winning. Rinne has been spectacular and Smashville’s defense is the best in the league, but this is San Jose’s year, I think beating the Kings gives this team so much confidence/momentum. Sharks in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: Wow did Nashville shock me. While they played well and shut down the Anaheim ducks they will not do that against a way heavier offense in the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are high as ever coming off that big series win against the LA Kings and will take this series because Nashville will not be able to keep up with their scoring. Sharks in 6.
Josh Goodings: This will be an interesting series, both teams coming off of first round upsets looking to prove they’re not a one and done team. The Sharks finally got their redemption with the Kings, looking dominant and finishing them in 5 games. The Preds were up and down in their series with the Ducks, losing games 3, 4, and 5 in a row, but still taking the series in 7. I think these two teams match up quite evenly, but the likes of Pavelski, Thornton, Couture, and Marleau, will be too much for the Preds to handle. Sharks in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Sharks have more ability on the offensive side of the game and I think they’re good enough defensively to top the Predators. Although Pekka Rinne had a very good first round, he’s been very unlike himself this season so it’s tough to predict which Pekka we will see this series. These two teams are Corsi Kings, but, the Sharks’ goal differential was +31, whereas the Preds was only +13. I think Jones is good enough to help them win this series, if not, they’ve got Reimer waiting. I have the Sharks in 6.
Consensus pick: Sharks
The brackets are filled and the most exciting time of the year is just around the corner. The first round of the playoffs, where you get 4 hard hitting, fast paced games every night. The match-ups this year are all very intriguing, so here are the four guys from BTI to take you a little bit deeper and give you their predictions.
(ranking are based on where they are in conference standings)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Washington might have a history of choking, but this should be a series they walk through. It concerns me that Washington hasn’t had a must win game all year and Philly has been essentially playing playoff hockey for months now. Washington is just too deep, have a great goalie as well as one of the best coaches in the game. Washington in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: Out of the three teams that were battling for those last two spots in the Eastern Conference race I believe the Capitals got the toughest matchup in the Flyers. That been said I don’t think the Flyers can beat a well-rounded Presidents Trophy team in the Capitals. Holtby is at a level no other goalie has touched this season and the Capitals offence is just too overpowered. Capitals in 5 games.
Josh Goodings: Washington in 5
Niti Krasniqi: Washington Capitals in 6.
BTI PREDICTS: Capitals in 5 is the consensus.
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one is the least interesting out of all of the playoff series in my mind. I like Tampa Bay’s goaltending and back end more, even without Stralman. Drouin will also play a huge role in this series, if he shows up and plays well then it gives Tampa some really good secondary scoring. The Lightning had a better GA/60 in the regular season, while the Wings have a healthier forward group. Its Tampa’s goaltending vs Detroit’s offense in my opinion. I’ll take Tampa Bay to win this one is 7 seven games.
Taylor Paniccia: The Detroit Red Wings will expose a beat up Tampa Bay team and take them down in the first round even though they just barely squeaked in to keep the longest playoff streak record alive at 25 years. This is also Datsyuk’s going away party which means fortune could be in their favour. Wings in 7 games.
Josh Goodings: Tampa Bay in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Tampa Bay in 5.
BTI PREDICTS: Tampa in 6 is our decision on this one.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Pittsburgh is hot. That second line of Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel has been one of the best lines in hockey as of late. I really like the Rangers forward group, but with no McDonough their defense is suspect. Lundqvist could steal this thing, but word is Fleury could be ready for game 1 so goaltending should not be heavily favoured to either team. This really should be one of the most entertaining series from. These teams have both had really good regular seasons and know how to score goals. They rank 3/4 in GF% at 5v5. But in terms of possession the advantage goes to the Pens and it isn’t even close. Pittsburgh is top 3 in both SF% as well as CF%. Pittsburgh has that ability to dominate games and I don’t see that with the Rangers. Penguins in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: A great first round Eastern Conference matchup. The Penguins are hotter than ever and so is Sidney Crosby and when Sidney Crosby is hot the rest of the team feeds off it and produces as well. With great depth players the Pittsburgh Penguins will knock out a big, fast, New York Rangers hockey club in the first round. Penguins in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Pittsburgh in 7
Niti Krasniqi: Fleury is concussed and a little shaky. Lundqvist could steal this one even though Pittsburgh has a better team. Rangers in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: We can’t agree here either, but Pittsburgh in 7 is our democratic choice.
Tyler Yaremchuk: No Halak, a beat up forward group and Hamonic isnt 100%. Florida is young and should have a lot of energy going into this series. Luongo has been great all season and Gerard Gallant has this team going every night. Florida has one of the easiest paths to the Eastern Conference Finals and they really deserve to be there. The Panthers start their run with a 4 game sweep of the Isles.
Taylor Paniccia: The Florida Panthers have a veteran netminder in Roberto Luongo who has been there done that. While I think the Florida Panthers fluked through most of the season I like this matchup for them against a weak Islanders roster. With Halak out look for the Islanders to be out as well. Panthers in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Panthers in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Florida in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: Panthers in 6 games in our choice.
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