Back again, three of BTI’s writers tackle three questions from around the NHL in ‘The Friday Three’
SIMPLE: WHO WON THE HAGELIN-PEARSON DEAL?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: For LA, they got $3.6 million off the books for this summer which I think was important for them. I also believe that they’ll be able to sell Hagelin at the deadline for some assets. The deal isn’t as bad as I originally thought it was but I still think the Kings should have gotten more for Pearson. He’s still young and I know he’s struggling but just looking at his shooting percentage, he’s bound to bounce back.
The Penguins got the best player in the deal. Add on the fact his best years are likely ahead of him and he’s cost-controlled and I think it’s clear who the winner was.
WYATT ZIEGER: The easy answer is the Pittsburgh Penguins but I’m not necessarily sure there was a winner or loser in this deal.
The Kings know they need to be faster and Hagelin is a speed demon. Hagelin’s production over his career may not be up to par with Pearson’s, but this season with only 1 assist in 17 games, you had to think something needed to change in LA. Pearson most likely plays with Crosby or Malkin meaning that scoring should come for Pearson, but now the Penguins are on the hook for Pearson’s deal for 3 years while Hagelin will become a free agent after this season.
IAN SHEPPARD: Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins easily won this trade for me, not just for the pieces in the trade but for the pieces they already have to put around him. The Penguins are retaining over 6% of Hagelin’s contract making this a lateral cap move for both teams.
But for Pittsburgh, they land a 26-year-old winger who on average produces 40 points per year, but also comes with size at 6’1” and 200 lbs. A perfect piece for them to put on their second line with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Hagelin is a decent player with speed but at 30-years-old and a smaller size who averages 30 points a year it looks like they ended up on top of this deal.
Not to mention Hagelin is in the last year of his contract where Pearson still has two years left after this year,
WHICH STRUGGLING SUMMER ACQUISITION DO YOU THINK WILL BOUNCEBACK THE QUICKEST?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: There is a long list to choose from including Erik Karlsson, James Neal, and Max Pacioretty. I think ‘Patches’ has the best chance of bouncing back quickly. He’s finally healthy and I think that’s big. He can get comfortable in Vegas. His shooting percentage is incredibly low, that will change too.
It won’t help that injuries to Paul Stastny and Erik Haula have stripped Vegas of two of their skilled centres, but with the money he makes Pacioretty needs to produce no matter who is his centre. I expect him to turn a corner here.
WYATT ZIEGER: Max Pacioretty. When ‘Patches’ was sent to Vegas during the offseason for Tatar, Suzuki and a 2nd-round pick, I was highly critical of the deal for the Habs. But now the Golden Knights look like the Golden Jester’s and with only 2G, 2A over his first 15 games for the Knights, you have to start wondering when he’ll turn it around. Pacioretty has scored over 30 goals five times in his career so expect a bounce back, especially if the Knights want to compete for a playoff spot in the jam packed Pacific Division. Clocks ticking Max.
IAN SHEPPARD: James Neal. Neal was one of the bigger names to land a home in Calgary this past offseason after putting up 44 points (25G-19A) last year with Vegas. But through 18 games with the Flames, Neal has only managed 4 points (3G-1A).
I think Neal will eventually bounce back and find his way into the top-six for Calgary, as he currently finds himself on the third line. At 30-years-old Neal is still right in his window of success. He’s never had less than 36 points in a season where he’s played in 40 games or more and if the Flames can continue to win games Neal will find his stride sooner than later. Expect to hear from “Big Game James” especially if the Flames make the playoffs.
WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOUR OF THE NHL ADDING A ‘PLAY IN GAME’ BETWEEN 8TH AND 9TH IN EACH CONFERENCE?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I think it works in the MLB, although I’d like to see a best-of-three Wild Card scenario there. Three games in two days is my idea, but that’s a conversation for another day. I like it in the MLB though. I wouldn’t like it in the NHL.
The first round of the NHL playoffs is already one of the best things going in sports, so why risk messing with it? It doesn’t make sense. The league is going to expand to 32 teams and I think having 16 of them in the postseason is the perfect amount. I love the idea of modernizing the NHL and I’m always open to new ideas, but not this one.
WYATT ZIEGER: I think back to the 09-10 season where on the last day of the regular season the Flyers and Rangers were tied in the standings and the winner would make the playoffs. The Flyers would defeat New York 2-1 in the shootout. That year Philadelphia went from bubble team that was a shootout away from not making the playoffs to playing for the Stanley cup, eventually losing to the Chicago Blackhawks.
That is one of those games that I’ll never forget, every player played like each shift was his last and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.
The simple fact is that it’ll add excitement to already electric playoffs in a league where any team can win any year. For fans who are worried about an “undeserving team” making the playoffs id like to point out that the separation between 8th and 9th in the NHL is not as much as you may think.
In the last two years alone 3 of the 4 teams that finished 9th in the conference only missed out by a single point.
IAN SHEPPARD: I am not a fan of the “play in” scenario in the NHL. For some leagues like Major League Baseball or the NFL I’m more open to the idea with shorter playoff runs. But the NHL already hosts some of the most exciting playoffs in all of sports and with each round going to a best-of-seven I think it’s already the perfect length.
I also think the playoffs in the NHL takes a toll on most teams and with this rule benefiting the top seeds more, I prefer to see the underdogs succeed. The league has already readjusted the playoff format with the divisional match ups and I don’t see much wrong with it currently to need to change it.