January 7th – January 13th
The All Star teams were named this week, and though it’s not the most exciting thing to watch, it is always fun discussing the players that didn’t make and maybe should’ve and the ones who made it that shouldn’t. Overall I think the teams were fairly close to what they should’ve been, with a few exceptions. John Carlson should have been named to the team instead of Letang. That’s the big one I thought of under the current state of rules. If a player from every team didn’t have to make it (which is a rule I am against) Morgan Rielly would take the place of Mike Green, and either Freddy Andersen, Tuukka Rask, or Roberto Luongo should be the goalie instead of Carey Price. Rickard Rakell also was a shock to make the team over a player like Sean Monahan if they were not required to pick a player from the Ducks. Despite all of this, the teams being named is likely the most fun part of the all star game.
I have always had a soft spot for Jack Johnson (as I think most people do) since the story came out about his bankruptcy and the conflict with his parents. That’s why I think it’s great that he requested a trade this season. He knows it’s a contract year for him and he won’t be able to maximize his playing time while hes a third pair on Columbus. I’ve seen lots of people on Twitter saying the Leafs should give him a go, but I don’t think the Leafs are the answer. Jack Johnson’s numbers suggest that he is a less good Jake Gardiner, and that is not what the Leafs need. A team I haven’t seen brought up for Johnson though, that makes a lot of sense for him and the team is Winnipeg. They have said to be searching for more left handed defense, as they seem to be the only team with a plethora of right handed defenders. This would allow the Jets to gear up for a playoff push and allow Johnson to go to a team that needs his skills to showcase for his next contract. He plays time on the penalty kill, and every year up until this point has logged 20+ minutes a game.
Cale Makar has respectfully declined an invitation to the Olympics, and people are up in arms about it. I don’t understand the outrage. I have seen “How can you respectfully decline something so disrespectful” and “Why does this kid care about school, he’ll be in the NHL next year anyways”. These comments outrage me. If he wants to stay because he already missed 3 weeks of school from the World Juniors and doesn’t want to miss 3 more weeks of school, so be it. He’s doing the smart thing and going to school because there’s a life after the NHL and I respect him for this.
With all that said about Cale Makar, Team Canada has recently announced their Olympic roster, and a few shocks were to leave off Zach Boychuk, who had 3 goals and 4 points, including the golden goal at this years Spengler Cup, and PA Parenteau who scored 20 goals on the Toronto Maple Leafs just two seasons removed. A dark horse I wanted to make the team (yet knew in my heart he wouldn’t make it) was Justin Pogge. The team seems like it has skill but has some big omissions it. It will be an interesting Olympic games.
December 31st – January 6th
Canada has just successfully won their second World Junior Championship in the last four years. The final game was against Sweden, who was my unbiased pick to win the entire tournament. My biased pick as a Canadian, was “Canada will destroy anyone who comes in their path”, and surprisingly, my biased pick was right (for the medal round, we’re just going to go ahead and forget the loss to the USA). My initial thought about the gold medal game is “Oh my God, whoever gets Dahlin is going to be scary.” Dahlin had an off night in the gold medal game and still looked fantastic. He is more defensively responsible than almost anyone his age, while still putting up the offensive numbers. He won the honor of best defenseman in the tournament as an underager. Now that’s impressive. As for Canada, I stated when the roster was announced they better win if they are leaving guys like Tippett, Suzuki and Glass off the roster, and oh boy they proved me wrong. I still think the roster would’ve been better for it, but I lost a little faith in Hockey Canada because of that, but I can safely say it’s restored.
Ryan Ellis made a long anticipated return for Preds fans this week. Unfortunately in his first game back the team was shutout in a 3-0 loss. I recently put out an article talking about the Leafs defense, saying that Ryan Ellis could be a dream fit for the team whether it came in a trade because of how well Nashville was doing without him, or as a part of the 2019 free agency. The fact that they were able to top their division for this long without the calibre of player Ellis is should put them right at the top of the cup conversation with Tampa and, um… Vegas I guess.
Speaking of the Leafs defense, Travis Dermott made his long anticipated NHL debut, and what a debut it was. Dermott was limited to only 12:03 of ice time he was making great passes and was responsible defensively. Dermott proved that he is ready for the big leagues, though the Marlies, AHL all-star game, and his teammate Andrew Nielsen will all miss him.
December 24th – December 30th
After an eventful season for Calvin Pickard he finally gets to make his season debut, and against his former team no less. Pickard was having a fantastic season in the AHL, sporting the 3rd best save percentage, behind tandem partner Garret Sparks who was sitting at 2nd. In his debut, Pickard made some clear mistakes by being out of position, but other than two instances he was showing why he was selected by Vegas in the first place. The mistakes that came seemed to be ones that can easily be shaken off with more time in the NHL.
Kris Letang is a name that has been brought up amongst analysts as possible trade bait. The Penguins are having a bad season in their regards, and are currently at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in the Crosby-Malkin era in a tough Metro division. The Penguins are one most cap crunched teams and have almost 50% of their cap spent on four different players until at very least 2022 amongst Malkin, Kessel, Crosby and Letang. If the Penguins are hoping they want to contend for more years to come at the cost of possibly missing the playoffs this year, it’s a deal that makes sense. I do not see this as a trade that is made though. Despite Letang having an awful season defensively, he still continues to put up points. The Penguins are not deep defensively, and without Letang that makes an obvious flaw bigger.
Jeff Glass has a fantastic story, getting his first NHL start and win over 13 years after he was first drafted by the Ottawa Senators. He fought his way to the NHL after years in the WHL, AHL, KHL and even a short stint in the ECHL. Glass even won the Spengler Cup with Canada in 2016 and the World Junior gold back in 2005. Glass was a man that never quit. He persevered after losing favour with the NHL clubs and headed West to find a team. After performing well in the KHL, Glass thought it was time to come back to North America, and after a few years, his hard work paid off. Making his NHL debut at 32, Glass has given the hockey world a fantastic story.
It’s been a sad week in the hockey world, as Johnny Bower passed away. It seems every single person that lives in Toronto or is a Leafs fan have a fond memory about Bower. He was such a large part of this community, and had a great life. Not only is he considered one of the best goalies in the NHL of all time, but he also holds the record for most AHL wins as a goaltender. He was a fantastic person and will not be forgotten. Rest in peace Mr. Bower.
To everyone who pays attention to my small blog, thank you for this past year, and I hope you have a wonderful 2018! Happy New Year and I’ll see you next year!
December 17th – December 23rd
It’s been an eventful week for the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing their 100 year anniversary game, scoring their 20,000th franchise goal in an 8-1 win over the Hurricanes, placing Zaitsev on IR and giving Marincin a well deserved call up as a result, and it was announced that matthews went through the concussion protocols during his injury, and proceeds to have a 2 point night in his return. Most eventful for me though as a fan of the London Knights and all of their former players is to see Mitch Marner back to his normal self. I’ve been fortunate to see Marner many times live, both at the OHL level when he was a prospect for the 2015 draft, after he was drafted and the London Knights went on their unbelievable playoff run where they ended up going 16-2 and had a 13 game undefeated streak to finish the playoffs, and in his NHL rookie season. He has been one of the most prolific players in every game I have seen him in and getting this weight lifted will do wonders for him and he will turn it on for the rest of the season.
Since returning from injury Cam Talbot has won 4 straight, and including games previous to injury is currently on a 7 game win streak. The Oilers have had a rough season, no doubt, but if there is a bright side to look at, it is that the players that are doing well are young and locked for mid-long term on contracts. Jesse Puljujarvi has looked fantastic in the games I have seen him in, proving to be a fantastic 2-way player already at this age. The main concern to me for the Oilers is having to pay Darnell Nurse this off-season, and Cam Talbot (who will be just turning 32 when they will need to resign him), and in all likeliness lose Pat Maroon. The next two off seasons will be crucial for management for the Oilers future. They can’t screw it up by giving Talbot too long of contract, or risk overpaying Maroon to try and keep him. Although Dahlin will look real nice on the Oilers blueline when they get him.
The Washington Capitals re-claimed defenseman Nathan Walker this week, and I could go on to make the joke that he is the first Australian player to be re-claimed off of waivers by an NHL team, but I’ll just get to the point of this is great for the Capitals. He has been a fantastic producer at the AHL level for a defenseman, and could this will do him great to be back in the AHL for a little bit. Since he was reclaimed by the Capitals that means no other team put in a claim for him and he can be sent straight down to Hershey, like what the Leafs did last year with Seth Griffith.
Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos were talking on the Sportsnet panel about the Pittsburgh Penguins during Toronto’s Saturday win against the New York Rangers and Kypreos brought up how Pittsburgh might be looking to shed a little of their salary. They have players to resign this upcoming year, like Rust, Hornqvist, and Guentzel the year after, along with lesser contracts this offseason such as Sheahan, Jarry and newly acquired Jamie Oleksiak. To remain competitive they can’t be forking over $32.25M of salary between 4 players (I told myself that the last two seasons yet they continued to prove me wrong) but it seems that their cap is finally catching up with them. They have the worst point percentage in the Metro division, yet are still only 3 points out of a playoff spot. Kypreos said that a way of going about shedding salary is trading defenseman Kris Letang. Friedman added they would look to add 2 forwards for him. Though Letang is having a bad season defensively, he still has 25 points in 37 games. Not too shabby for a d-man. I just don’t see a) anyone taking on an injury prone defenseman for $7.25M until the 2022 season unless the price was very right in a trade, or b) the Penguins trading their top defenseman that clocks 25+ minutes a night for more forwards when their defense is already lacking. That is just my humble opinion though, and both Friedman and Kypreos wouldn’t mention it unless they heard at very least mentions of it being talked about either within or outside of the Penguins organization.
That’s this weeks NHL weekly, to everyone, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, and Happy Holidays to everyone!
December 10th – December 16th
This week Golden Knights fans must be rejoicing with Fleury taken off the IR, and same goes for Penguins fans to see Murray do the same. In Murray’s return he got to face off against the former starting goalie of Pittsburgh. This was the first time ever that Marc-Andre Fleury had faced the Pittsburgh Penguins, and later to come, his first win too. In a low scoring goaltender battle, Fleury comes out on top against his former team. It was “relieving” Fleury said, and he was even seen chit chatting with Matt Murray at center ice as if nothing was different. The game winner went to another former Penguin with James Neal scoring his 15th this year. It was a big reunion night!
Eugene Melnyk made his thoughts very known to the public this weekend making multiple scandalous remarks about the Ottawa Senators, saying that he is not considering selling the team, stating he wasn’t even sure that the downtown arena would come to be despite the city approval. He also went on to state that he would consider moving the Senators if it became a disaster. I really do not think that it would fly with Bettman for a team relocating where it is perfectly fine with everything in exception to the owner to a market that could take on a team with real issues such as Arizona or Calgary with the arena, or the dark horse in this, the Islanders.
After these enraging comments, Bettman did come forward and state that the Senators were not going to move. I have always known that Sens fans hated their owner, but now I fully see why. With these comments and being outraged that Karlsson stated that he expects to get paid what he is worth and will not take any kind of discount. This is an owner that needs to get his nose out of the GM’s business and a team that deserves a better owner and a new arena.
The final roster was announced for the WJC Team Canada, and shockingly Nick Suzuki and Cody Glass were both cut, not to mention Owen Tippett being left off the final camp. I realize that Hockey Canada has an idea of what their team will be like and are going for a certain structure, but all I have to say is they need to win by leaving players of this caliber off the roster. Also shockingly, but well deserved, Colton Point made the team after a great camp over the player I thought (and kind of hoped) would be the backup with Michael DiPietro. This should be a very interesting and very balanced WJC with no clear cut favourite in my eyes.
John Tortorella came out and stated he would not be answering any questions following a 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. This is something he has caught criticism for, but in my honest opinion I thought this was the best possible choice. He knows his weaknesses and knows this isn’t a great situation for him to be in. He did the mature thing and stepped away from the situation. Nothing he could’ve said would have made anything any better. Could this be John Tortorella growing as a person? Maybe.
December 3rd – December 9th
The past week has been very eventful considering the political and finacial parts of hockey starting with the International Olympic Committee making the decision that Russia would be banned from this year’s Olympics. Russia had the choice to boycott the but Putin came out and stated that the government would allow players to play under a neutral flag. Ovechkin as well as teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov and former NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk have all emphatically stated that any clean player should go play for the Olympics, for it is the opportunity of a lifetime. This years neutral Olympic team, bearing the Olympic rings on its jersey, has the opportunity to be the best team at the tournament despite not having a country to play for officially. Kind of like Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey.
The Carolina Hurricanes have officially entered a purchase agreement (note purchase agreement does not mean final sale) to sell 50.01% of the franchise to Tom Dundon. Dundon has the option of buying the remaining 49.99% of the franchise in 3 years. Friedman breaks down the purchase the best:
Bettman also came out in saying that the Hurricanes would not relocate and have full faith in the franchise, despite being placed 27th in Forbes most recent valuation list of NHL teams, so relocation to Seattle, Houston or Quebec are not an option for this team.
Relocation may not be an option for Seattle, but expansion is. Bettman also announced that the NHL has accepted Seattle’s expansion team bid. This does not mean Seattle has been given an expansion team yet, but it is now a very real possibility. The fee is $650 million, or as I like to look at it, 6.5 Connor McDavid’s. On Monday, Seattle also approved a $600 million renovation of the KeyArena before this was announced publicly. If the expansion is approved, the team would be set to come into the league in the 2020-21 season, which also happens to be the opt out year for the NHL and NHLPA on the current CBA. I don’t know what would happen if this were to come about, but one can only hope that neither party opts out and a new CBA is agreed upon quickly for the 2021-22 season.
A player that I have long watched play since his days in London it’s always unfortunate to hear of an injury to a player so important. That’s the case with Bo Horvat as he has suffered an upper body injury after he tried to avoid a check in a game against the Devils. Horvat will miss 4-6 weeks and this will be a major impact on the Vancouver Canucks, who were doing better than everyone had anticipated due to mainly Horvat and Boeser. The team will have rally to keep in the hunt, as they are just 1 point behind the last wildcard slot in the West. This team has the potential to prove they are still an above par team even without their #1 center.
November 26th – December 2nd
The Pittsburgh Penguins were announced to have been shopping defenseman Ian Cole, who stepped up for them a lot during their playoff run last year when the biggest name on the blueline was Olli Maata. He has been sitting the past few games and many people are lead to believe that he is sitting because they have a trade lined up or don’t want him to injure himself, which is a fair assumption, but it could also be Sullivan sitting him because he is playing poorly of late. Cole could be a good depth addition for a team looking to do a playoff run this upcoming playoffs.
Carey Price has continued his dominant ways after his return, most recently winning 10-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on the 22nd anniversary of Roy’s last game in Montreal which was an 11-1 loss to the Red Wings. Spooky. Everything seems back to normal in Hab land, and are even in a playoff spot now and set to play the Leafs. How fun would that be?
Matt Murray goes down with an injury and is considered week to week for his injury, but this will allow Tristan Jarry who has put up adequate numbers at the AHL level. If he does well he can show that he is the right fit for the Penguins NHL backup job. Any goalie has to be better than Niemi, right? That said, Murray is a major loss for an already struggling Penguins. And by struggling I mean not the dominant defending Stanley Cup champions they usually are.
November 19th – November 25th
The Great 8 has done it again this season recording yet another hat-trick. He now has a hat-trick of hat-tricks, but this one meant a little more than the others. In attendance tonight was Alex Luey, a cancer survivor who lost his leg in the fight. After learning this, number 8 invited him to be in attendance at the game to watch his hero play. Luey came down from Niagara falls to watch, and Ovi told him if he scores against the Leafs, it will be for him. Ovechkin did more than just that, he put away 3 goals. After the game little Alex was with big Alex during his postgame interview and in the Caps locker room after the victory. It will be a night that Luey will not soon forget.
Malcolm Subban made his triumphant return to the ice in relief for Maxime Lagace and took the win in overtime. I’m sure the entire Vegas fanbase was happy when it was announced that Subban was back in action after at one point they had their 5th string goalie in net. Subban has been performing beyond expectations as he was claimed off waivers in a shocking move by Vegas at the start of the season, though it seems to be paying off leaps and bounds. The fact that this team was able to stay within the playoff picture and relevant makes it scary to think of when the team gets MA Fleury back.
Subban wasn’t the only goalie returning from injury this week as Carey Price shutout the Sabres. It seems like Carey Price could be back to his usual self, carrying a subpar team to the playoff type goalie. It makes you think that Price had to have had something nagging him since the start of the season that he was determined to play through. Carey Price fighting through the ashes of what Marc Bergevin has done to this team may not be good for the Habs though with all the obvious flaws they still have. Tanking for a year to try and target a big draft pick like Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov or Adam Boqvist could be of large benefit to the team.
Brock Boeser now has 9 goals on the season and is helping the Canucks, along with Bo Horvat and a surprising Jakob Markstrom to claw their way up the standings from the grave they were buried in last year. With Olli Juolevi and Elias Pettersson tearing up the Finnish and Swedish leagues respectively, the Canucks are showing that life will go on after the Sedins. Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro have also shown that they can also have future stars in net. The future is bright for the Canucks.
This will be the most infuriating part of the report this week with the fact that the Auston Matthews goal was called back against the Arizona Coyotes. The goal was called back because Hymans sticked got pushed into Antti Raanta. There is absolutely no question that the stick made contact, but the fact of the matter is he had enough time to get back into position. Not only that, but Hyman was proceeded to be pushed by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Christian Fischer into Antti Raanta, when the rule 69.1 clearly states “If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule.” The NHL needs to get better at calling these things by the book or at very least having some consistency.
November 12th – November 18th
Cam Atkinson must have one of the best agents in the NHL. Earlier this week the Blue Jackets inked him to a 7 year, $41.125M contract extension. For a player with one good and one great season under his belt, it seems like a long and big contract. He very well has been one of the more underrated players in the NHL until he broke out last year with 35 goals being tied for 8th in the league in goals. He inked a great contract with the length he got. He will be happy with that for years and years.
When the New Jersey Devils visited the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, Nicholle Anderson made it her goal to be there and speak with Brian Boyle. Nicholle was recently deemed cancer free and has been one of the most active members of Hockey Fights Cancer. She came down to walk with Brian Boyle about his diagnoses and is helping him through the tough process. It’s a rare form of cancer, but Jason Blake was able to play 4 more years after his diagnoses. It is very promising for Brian Boyle, especially with all the support he has had
On Thursday, November 16th Philadelphia Flyers forward Radko Gudas took a two hand vindictive slash on Winnipeg Jets player Mathieu Perreault. He has waived his right to an in person hearing, likely knowing he will be suspended for a significant number of games. Mathieu Perreault has come forth and stated that it was no accident when Gudas hit him with his stick. This is not the first time Gudas has gotten a larger suspension, he also got one in the playoffs that equalled 3 games, but in reality it was 6, but since it was the playoffs it counted as 2 for 1. Hopefully the league realizes there is no place for a player like this in the league and suspends him for a significant period of time.
Despite it being only a quarter of the way through the season, Steven Stamkos is on pace to do what only 4 players before him have done, and that is to break 150 points in the regular season. Only Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, and Esposito have ever accomplished that feat. Jaromir Jagr hasn’t even done that, only ever reaching 149 as his career high. It may be early, but being on pace for 151 points at any point of the season is impressive.
The Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings caused quite an uproar with the bench clearing brawl. Matthew Tkachuk ended up with a one game suspension for… touching someone? That “spear” did not warrant a suspension but Tkachuk has built a name for himself and that’s what got him suspended. But Witowski is looking at an automatic 10 game suspension for coming back out on the ice and for his role in the giant brawl.
The Leafs have gone on a 6 game win streak, and went 4-0 without star forward, Auston Matthews. Leaf fans must ecstatic that the team has been winning without Auston Matthews. With a team as offensively gifted as the Leafs, it’s no shock that they are still scoring the way they were supposed to be, and with Frederik Andersen making up for any defensive liabilities this is a team that could go far this year if they can keep it together.
November 5th – November 11th
Matt Duchene has finally been traded, and I will be the first to admit that I constantly criticized Joe Sakic for the way he handled the situation but he absolutely crushed that trade out of the park. The Avs got the Sens 2018 1st round pick, Sens 2019 3rd round pick, former 1st round pick Shane Bowers, and Andrew Hammond from the Sens. The Avs also got the Preds 2018 2nd round pick, young defenseman Samuel Girard, and young left wing Vladislav Kamenev. That is a very large hull for a single player. I believe each team got what they were looking for, and with Colorado being the obvious winner, I would deem Ottawa as the loser if I had to pick one. They traded away a lot of players and picks just to get a slight upgrade from Kyle Turris. In a vacuum Duchene is the better player, but is he so much better that he’s worth Turris, Bowers, a 2018 1st, a 2019 3rd, and a minor league goalie? I don’t think so. I will give the Sens credit for getting their pick top 10 protected in such a strong draft year.
The NHL made it’s maiden voyage in Sweden with the Avalanche and Senators who both have Swedish captains. It makes it an even better story that Duchene made his Sens debut against his former team in Sweden, but what I thought was the best story was in the first game is that every Swedish player in that game recorded minimum 1 point each. That has to be great for selling the game in Sweden. With it being such a success in the land of the midnight sun, I won’t be surprised if this becomes a more regular occurrence in future years in attempt to expand the game. Now if only they could have the opportunity crack a more niche market like South Korea or something…
Brian Boyle says he had never cried after a goal before, but this time was different. When diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia the entire hockey world offered their support. When he returned to hockey it was a great day, but an even greater one was when he scored his first NHL goal since being back. Jason Blake had been diagnosed with the exact same cancer in his career, and continued to play for an additional 4 years after diagnosis, so that means Boyle can continue having a long career.
October 29th – November 4th
Griffin Reinhart is now officially on his 3rd AHL team after he clears waivers to be placed with the Chicago wolves. He has not seem to have progressed at all since the day he was drafted 4th overall back in 2012. It seems to continue getting worse for Reinhart as other former “busts” are on the upswing such as Malcolm Subban and Nail Yakupov. Neither have been what they were thought to be, but it seems there is a glimpse of hope for all but the former Islander. What must hurt for Oilers fans is that they traded the picks that turned into Matthew Barzal and Mitchell Stephens, both player for Team Canada at the 2017 WJC and lost Reinhart for nothing. It seems Reinharts time is running out to make an NHL impact.
Well, the Vadim Shipachyov story seems to continue as he was supposed to be placed on unconditional waivers and had his contract mutually terminated but instead was not. It seems to terminate his contract he must repay a 2 million dollar signing bonus. With Shipachyov back in Russia and a deal lined up, it seems like he is going to follow in the footsteps of Datsyuk and Kovalchuk and retire from the NHL. If he does so this puts him at a higher goals per game than players like Patrik Elias, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Duchene must’ve had his dreams crushed as he almost got out of Colorado Saturday night in a three way trade with Ottawa, Nashville and Colorado. This could’ve been a very interesting trade because of how uncommon three way trades are in the NHL, but it could’ve resulted in everyone getting pretty much what they wanted. Don’t expect Ottawa to stop pursuing Duchene though. The Sens have been relentlessly targeting the center since the start of September, and just because one more trade fell through doesn’t mean it’s over. Expect Duchene to be dealt by Christmas or sooner.
Every week I seem to be writing about a new Vegas goalie. Maxime Lagace has played… admirably. For someone who should be either an ECHL starter or AHL backup he’s given the Golden Knights a chance. Though not being what any of the former three goalies have been before him, who expected he would? He collected a win Saturday and only let in two goals the game prior. I would have thought that Vegas claimed Reto Berra from Anaheim though as he only is on a one year contract for 700K, but it’s not Vegas’s job to be good now. Their goal is to be good in the future.
The Montreal Canadiens seem to be on the upswing winning 4 of their last 6 games, but proceed with caution. Despite regressing towards the norm in all stats, there was no way they could’ve continued to be as bad as they were, but this is still not the team they should be. After many faulty trades, Bergevin must be counting his blessings that the Habs are picking up. They should level out to about middle of the league and be a fringe playoff team as predicted. Bergevin should still be everyone’s favourites to be fired though, don’t change that prediction.
October 22nd – October 28th
The Coyotes should not be this bad. With a decent forward group and a surprisingly good defense core the Coyotes have tied the all time longest losing streak at 11. They are currently 0-10-1 in that time. Despite this Clayton Keller remains at the front of the pack, with a couple of rookie defensemen, for favourite as Calder. Over a point per game is extremely impressive to not have a single win. With Rannta out with injury it would hurt the team, but should not be cause for record breaking badness. It could be something as little as adjusting to Tocchet’s system.
Polak seems to be NHL ready, or at least the Leafs think he is. He took a big hit in the playoff series against the Washington that shattered his leg. There is no doubt that the Leafs need help defensively, but is Polak really the answer to this problem? Already a slow defenseman, Polak is recovering from a leg surgery. Unless they gave him a bionic leg, I don’t see how this can do anything but hurt and already weak part of his game. The Leafs shouldn’t be counting on Polak fixing their problems and after two subpar outings it doesn’t seem like he’s the stalwart they need.
On the topic of the Leafs, they have lost the past 3 out of 4 of their games. How do they not give Leivo more of a chance than the one game he just played? Between this season and last he has 11 points in 14 games. On their skid you have to question when he gets more games. He was one of the Leafs best players in their loss to Philadelphia. He had great possession numbers in his only game, exceeding the rest of the Leafs 18x, despite an extremely small sample size. With how games have been going how do you not throw him into the lineup more often to shake things up?
And down goes another goalie for Vegas. They have to be both the luckiest and unluckiest team in the NHL with goalies this season. Every goalie has provided an exceptional performance, but each one, just like the last, has gone down. It’s either that they are lucky or George McPhee is secretly the world’s greatest goalie scout. Those are the only explanations. We’ll now see if Manny Legace and Dylan Ferguson (who was called up from the CHL on an emergency basis) can continue the trend.
The Shipachyov storyline seems to be a never ending one as he has been sent down to the Chicago Wolves, been given the green light to look for trades, and now been suspended from Chicago. This has been horrible managing on George McPhee’s part and you could imagine Shipachyov has been frustrated. He deservingly should want out. He has now been delegated to search for a trade for himself. THAT’S NOT HIS JOB! That’s the job of George McPhee. Vadim’s job was to be the Golden Knights number one center and McPhee made it so he isn’t able to do that. I wouldn’t be surprised if those comments about wanting back to Russia resurface.
The Florida Panthers have claimed Antti Niemi off waivers. He had a 7.49 goals against average and a save percentage below 0.800. It’s considered very bad if a goalie has one under 0.900, but Niemi says to the “hold my beer”. Let’s see if he can turn it around even slightly with his third team in two years while Luongo is out. He has one last, very little window in the NHL and he needs to make the most of it.
October 15th – October 21st
Deja Vu! DejaVu! The Oilers have been in this place before! The Oilers are 3rd last in the entire NHL and 2nd last in the Western conference, and it is not unfamiliar territory for them. Just one year removed from just picking 1st overall they are quickly returning to the Oilers we all have known for the past 10 years. The team has attempted to build around McDavid, but with having the fastest player, possibly to ever play the game, they have surrounded him with a slow team. They need more scoring and more help for McDavid otherwise they could end back up near the bottom for longer than a stint.
We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster. Erik Karlsson has 6 assists in just 3 games after his win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He came back from an ankle surgery and seems to have picked up right where he left off from the playoffs last year when he even got a Conn Smythe vote without playing in the finals. Karlsson rejoins the conversation of being the best player in the world just 3 games in. Expect this to give Ottawa an extra kick to an already good start.
Malcolm Subban just stuck it to his former team by picking up his first NHL win against the Boston Bruins after they waived him. From a former top prospect to an alleged bust, he showed the Bruins what they are missing out on. Subban almost had the shutout too, but David Pastrnak (also a Bruins first round pick) ruined it for him in the last 30 seconds. I guess just the win and 0.955 save percent will have to do. Since then Subban has posted 2 more wins but sadly was injured and placed on IR along with Fleury. It looks like Dansk will have to hold the fort down for Vegas in the meantime.
Vadim Shipachyov finally got called up to play for Vegas and scored in his first game with the NHL club. There is no logical reason Vadim shouldn’t have been up from the start other than George McPhee mishandled the roster so badly. The amount of defensemen up is ridiculous, especially considering their best one is playing in the AHL. McPhee will likely keep his job for a long time because they continue to win and are stockpiling draft picks and young talent to develop.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are white hot with Stamkos taking on a new role as a playmaker for Nikita Kucherov who has 16 points and 10 goals in 9 games and Stamkos coming in at an astounding 18 points in 9 games to average 2 points a game. It is so hard to believe, even with all the injuries this team had (most money on the IR last season) that they didn’t make the playoffs. And only a single point out too. They had Namestnikov, Paquette, Johnson and Stamkos all injured after trading away Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that there is a repeat of the 2015 Stanley Cup finals, just this time with a different outcome.
Everyone thought the Montreal Canadiens would take a step back this year. No one thought they would have only 3 points in 8 games or just 12 goals in 8 games. Carey Price can’t even bail them out of this mess. Bergevin must be given credit for always being willing to make the big move, but why change so much of a team that made the Eastern Conference finals in 2014-15? There should have been full ability to keep that team intact, but it all started with the Subban for Weber trade. Bergevin has very little to bargain with now if his NHL team cannot produce, for he has wiped his prospect pool clean. I’d like to see if there is a new young GM that would be able to come in and fix it and just moneyball the entire Canadiens team to turn it around.
October 9th – October 14th
14-0-0 no more. Auston Matthews netted his 5th goal and 2nd overtime winner of the season to down the Habs 4-3 for the first time since the 2013-14 season. The Leafs finally beating the Habs isn’t the only thing that has Maple Leaf fans talking this week. It is reported that left winger James Van Riemsdyk is willing to take a major pay cut on his next contract to stay with the Leafs if it is for the maximum term of 8 years. With the Leafs having so many fringe prospects on the wing it seems hard to believe that they would sign 28 year old JVR until he is 36, despite him being a perennial 30 goal scorer and the 2nd highest scorer on the Leafs right now. With all the talks surrounding JVR a decision is likely to be made soon, whether it be a trade or a contract extension.
Vadim Shipachyov has had quite the eventful week with the initial rumours leaking on Monday saying that he wanted out of his contract in Vegas to return to the KHL after being placed in the American Hockey League. Later it would come out that George McPhee and Petr Svoboda (Shipachyov’s agent) both denied the claim. Since the rumours appeared Erik Haula has been placed on injured reserve the Shipachyov situation has been resolved by being recalled.
Nail Yakupov has had a tough go in the NHL and it seems he may have found his calling in the most unlikely place, Colorado. Since joining Colorado Yakupov leads the team with 3 goals and 5 points in 6 games helping the Avs to win 3 games in a row, a feat they were unable to reach in the 2016-17 season, and to a positive record. Giving Yakupov a chance is possibly one of the best moves Sakic has done as a GM. If he keeps this pace up he could possibly turn into a productive forward. He may never be the 1st overall pick he was thought to be but there may still be room for him in the NHL.
50 in 50 is only ever mentioned in hushed tones, for it is too fleeting to be brought up in a conversation. Yet here we are with Ovechkin sitting at 9 goals in 6 games and it’s being talked about as a possibility. If anyone can do it, it would be Ovechkin. He continues to impress with his magnificent scoring ways, reaching at least 10 points in his first 5 games along with Nick Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. This puts them in the elite company of Lemieux, Jagr and Francis and Gretzky, Messier and Anderson to have three players reach the 10 point plateau in the first 5 games of the season. The Caps look as good as ever using their old game plan of “get the puck to Ovi”.
The New Jersey Devils have started the season and not looked back. Corey Schneider looks like a possible early favourite for the Vezina, an abundance of rookies with Jesper Bratt, Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher and first overall pick Nico Hischier. Sophomore Pavel Zacha and recently acquired Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson have both added to the fast paced offense that is becoming the new way in New Jersey. The Devils could be the new Toronto Maple Leafs by surprising everyone with their improvement in standings.
October 1st – October 8th
The Toronto Maple Leafs came out of the gates guns a blazing with a 7-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Leafs have been one of the more interesting teams in the NHL for the last few days scoring 15 goals in 2 games, sending down Calle Rosen, proceeding to place Martin Marincin on waivers and recalling Rosen and trading Tobias Lindberg and a 6th round pick in 2018 for goaltender Calvin Pickard. After clearing waivers the Leafs are able to send Pickard down to the Marlies immediately. This was a curious move for the Leafs with the position they are in. They clearly have signed McElhinney to be their backup and Sparks to be their AHL starter to play more games. This all but guarantees Sparks to now be in a role of, at most, a tandem goaltender if not the backup in the AHL. This implies that the Leafs are not done making moves.
Viva Las Vegas! James Neal just overtook the franchise record for goals and points in his 2 goal game against the Dallas Stars. His overtime goal against the Coyotes is just icing on the cake. Marc-Andre Fleury also finished the first night making 45 stops on 46 shots, breaking a league record of most saves in an inaugural game. With trading Calvin Pickard, Vegas has put all their eggs into the basket that goes by the name of Malcolm Subban. A questionable move to say the least after having proven NHLer Pickard as a backup, and McPhee deeming Subban still not NHL ready. They must have a plan in place for the former 1st round pick. Vegas has also placed Vadim Shipachyov in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves until they can get their roster under the 23 man limit. This looks like they are going to move a defenseman, and fast, as they still have 10 NHL defensemen with the major team. Until then, he is the AHL’s best paid player.
Alexander Ovechkin coming out in possibly the best shape of his life and it shows! He’s a man on a mission to prove last season scoring 30 goals was a fluke and he’s his usual 50 goal self. That and taking out any anger he has for not going to the Olympics on poor old Carey Price. Getting 7 goals in the past two games he passes Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Mats Sundin on the all time goals list with 565 and holds sole possession of 21st place. Next up is to take over Mike Bossy. He could have a very good argument to be the greatest goal scorer of all time.
The Edmonton Oilers win their season debut against a Jagr-less Calgary Flames. After finally finding a place to call home, Jagr has sat out of his first two games with the Flames and said he will play when he is ready according to coach Glen Gulutzan. Jagr landed 3 days prior to playing and at one point Jagr had gone almost 40 hours without sleep. Jagr will be playing soon enough after a few more skates and a little more sleep.
Can the rest of the league keep up with Connor McDavid? After clocking 40 kilometers an hour skating on a breakaway goal en-route to a hat trick, the young super star doesn’t even have to slow himself down to make the move he wants to do. One comparable that has been tossed around is Pavel Bure with McDavid and his speed/stickhandling combo and has even been said to be surpassing the former Canucks star in that category.
A week of Hat Tricks going on in the NHL with Connor McDavid setting off the trend and Wayne Simmonds to follow. The following night Brandon Saad wants to prove his worth to his new-old team to show them they made the right choice. Cranking out 3 goals against the reigning Stanley Cup champs is nothing to scoff at, and neither is scoring consecutive hat tricks in 2 games in a row like Ovechkin has. It has been a great start to the year with scoring and hopefully this keeps up and have a tight race for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy.
Teammates and now co-captains. Justin Faulk and Jordan Staal have both been named captain of the Carolina Hurricanes. Both have been with the Hurricanes the longest and both deserving of the C, but the rotating C is very unpopular in today’s game. There is neither pressure to give the C to anyone or to give it to a single person are the typical arguments. I don’t see anything wrong with this. They are both great players and both deserved it. Hey, it worked for the 1971-72 Bruins and 2015-16 London Knights, why can’t it work for this Hurricanes team?
JT Brown has become the first NHL player to exercise his right to protest during the national anthem during a game by raising his fist rather than taking a knee like other professional athletes have in the past. JT Brown has felt strongly about the issue of racial inequality and police brutality ever since he was asked if he would take a knee during the anthem over a week ago and replying with “I won’t say no”. After Trump calling all those who kneel a “son of a bitch” this has become an even more pressing issue that will be met with more resistance. JT was quoted saying “Some thought (kneeling) it was disrespecting, but most felt that we have a right to do it, regardless of whether they agree with you or not, or would stand next to you.” according to the Times.
With the first week of hockey done, here are some thoughts on how teams may do. Fringe teams could be Rangers, Blues and Leafs that could sneak into a deep playoff run. On the decline are the Canadiens, Wild and Sharks who should be in the playoffs but are possibly at risk of falling out of favour. Cup favourites will be the Oilers, Lightning and Penguins with the possibility of the three-peat, all of which with their lethal scoring. And sleepers that could break out this season are the Coyotes and the Hurricanes who have both been slowly grooming their young players to be in an elite position in a few years, and could make a big step forward this year.