Three Things That Are Wrong With The NHL
1. The 20-year-old AHL Rule: If someone can explain to me what the difference between a 19-year-old kid and a 20-year-old kid is, please do. I'm all ears. Don't say maturity, because I don't want to be lied to. There isn't any magical switch that happens for a person between their 19th birthday and 20th where a light comes on and says "Hey, it's time to grow up, you're 20 now." It just doesn't exist. The NHL needs to reduce the age of 20 to 19 for AHL eligibility, with an option for returning the player to junior for another season. Take Morgan Rielly, for example, who has outgrown the WHL but will be forced to play another season in a league where he has nothing more to accomplish with regards to his hockey development. There are some players who would benefit from another junior year, but there are plenty who would not. Make the switch, it would give teams a better, and quicker, gauge on where their young players stand.
2. The Automatic Suspension For Leaving The Bench: I'm not saying Clarkson shouldn't have been suspended, of course he should have, because it's a rule. It being a rule doesn't make a smart rule. If a bench clearing brawl is going to happen, it's going to happen. If Raffi Torres flies off the bench and gets a 10-game suspension it's not the end of the world, life goes on and the Sharks lineup remains relatively unchanged. This rule seems only to affect better players that make questionable decisions. This needs to be changed by either; A) Reviewing on a case-by-case basis or, B) Reducing the automatic suspension to well below 10 games. While it wasn't a smart decision by Clarkson, I still liked the principles behind his thought process. Defending your star player, and one of the best players in the game, is priceless. If the play had a reviewable option you may have seen Clarkson get 2 games for having a judgement lapse which, if 10-game automatics didn't exist, would still seem fair.
3. Pre-Season Games As Suspend-able Games: I know the blog thus far has been Leafs heavy, and I thank them for that, but I'm indifferent. Moving on. There is no situation where a pre-season game should count against a suspension, even if it's a kid who will head back to junior after camp. Any and all suspensions should be effective at the start of the regular season if they occur in the pre-season. Kessel was banned three pre-season games for his ninja-like self-defense moves, but do you think he, or the Leafs, care? Of course they don't, no one cares about the pre-season. Had Kessel's three game ban been the first three games of the NHL regular season it would have been a different kind of hurt. If a junior player who receives a suspension in the pre-season before heading back to the junior ranks then his suspension is effective when he becomes active on the NHL roster during the regular season. Pre-season suspensions are like giving a child a five minute timeout, it's pointless and accomplishes nothing.
Three Calder Finalists
1. Nathan MacKinnon
2. Jonathan Drouin
3. Max Domi
The first two are no-brainers. MacKinnon is exceptional and Drouin is going to a solid offense. They are bound to put up points. The third choice is where it gets hairy.
Max Domi is still on the Coyotes roster and, assuming he stays there, I think he can produce a Calder Trophy season, or a least contend for one. The Coyotes have this simple way about themselves that allows very old players to succeed on the stat sheet, while having very little quality young players. Domi is a quality young player and could see boatloads of ice-time if he's kept in the NHL. Couple that with the fact that no one takes Phoenix seriously and you've got a combination that could yield Domi a significant amount of success this season as he grows out of the spotlight.
I'm predicting a 70 point season for MacKinnon, 60 for Drouin and 55 point year for Max Domi.
Three Reasons The Salary Cap Shouldn't Have Dropped:
1. It's pointless to do it for one season: Providing teams with a lower cap ceiling for one season makes no sense. None. Notta. Zilch. You tell me what that does for anyone? There are teams that will spend and there are teams that aren't going to spend. That's just the way it is, some teams have better owner groups. Dumbing down the cap for one season doesn't give some sort of financial boost to the teams that normally have their hands stuck out to the Rangers, Canadiens and Leafs every season.
2. It takes away jobs from veterans: There are some highly functional vets out there who either don't have a job right now, or have taken considerably less than market value. These are functional players looking to get what they deserve for the last few seasons of their careers.
3. It's just another reason that the lockout was all for not: You can add this farce to the list of reasons why the lockout was pointless. Like I said earlier, poor teams are going to be poor teams until their ownership is ready to pony up the money for a competitive team. The cap may have went down, but contracts did not. If contracts came down with the cap then there may be a leg to stand on, but it didn't, so there isn't.
Three Storylines To Watch In 2013/14
1. Roberto Luongo Back As Starter: It just seems that if there isn't a Luongo story this year that I will be left with some sort of emptiness in my life.
2. The Return of Tim Thomas: Thomas finally found a team willing to sell their soul to pick up attendance marginally. It's not a case of if Tim Thomas will say something ignorant and controversial, it's a case of when.
3. The Sharks Big 3: The trade rumors should be abundant all season long in San Jose with Thornton, Marleau and Boyle's contracts set to expire. Trades involving any, or all, of those players would yield big returns for San Jose and give the other team a nice boost for the playoffs.
That's all for now, thanks for reading!