31 NHL teams equals 31 comments on the NHL. Let’s get started.
1. What exactly was George McPhee thinking when he drafted the expansion roster he did for the Vegas Golden Knights? If the idea was to put together a roster of younger talent that will develop into something over time, why wouldn’t he draft players like Matt Dumba from the Minnesota Wild? It seems like McPhee left a number of semi-proven quality younger players on the board for the sake of acquiring a few mid-round first round picks from a soft draft class. It's a mistake.
2. As confusing as McPhee’s expansion draft experience was, the man made some decent trades. He took advantage of the Florida Panthers's need to salary dump by picking up forward Rielly Smith. I liked the Shea Theodore move with Anaheim, too.
3. There’s some moves McPhee hasn’t made that confuse me. James Neal, for example. We know Vegas is going to finish dead-last in the NHL in 2018, so why not turn every decent player into a decent draft pick or prospect? Neal has one year left on his contract and then he’s walking from the Golden Knights. He is, right now, at least worth a first-round pick via trade, and maybe an additional conditional asset if Neal re-signs wherever he is sent.
4. It makes no sense to have Marc-Andre Fleury, either. Trade him now.
5. And why was everyone freaking out when Fleury was drafted by the Golden Knights? He might be the most overrated player in the league. I would have dealt him to a useless team like the Calgary Flames before people figure out the truth.
6. Speaking of the Calgary Flames, it’s been an interesting summer. Certain sports websites are declaring they’ve had the best off-season. The Travis Hamonic trade was a thing of pure beauty. Sadly, the Flames couldn’t find a goalie, so instead they found a Mike Smith. Offensively, the Flames don’t have much there, and in goal, well, there isn’t a goalie. So that defensive corps better be damn good.
7. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Montreal Canadiens contract extension to Carey Price. Price, when healthy, is one of the three best goalies in the league. When healthy. $10.5 million per season to an ill 30 year-old goalie for the next eight seasons is a massive risk. He’s going to go all Rick DiPietro. You watch.
8. The Habs sort of lost the plot when they went through June without acquiring a first-line center and when they lost Alexander Radulov to free agency. I don’t know who will be scoring goals this season in Montreal. This team is a downwards trending arrow.
9. The actual winners this summer have been the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks. If I had to pick one over the other, I’d go with Dallas. Radulov, Martin Hanzal and Marc Methot all in one summer? Ben Bishop now the starting goalie? This team is maybe one defenseman away from winning a Stanley Cup.
10. Am I the only one who liked the Brandon Saad-for-Antemi Panarin trade? Yes, Chicago gave up some offense here. Patrick Kane will never be the same. But Saad is a 200’ player who can contribute 25-30 goals per season. Those are rare. Saad also has four seasons left on his contract. Panarin has two.
11. Speaking of 25-30 goals, I’ve got $5 to wager on Patrick Sharp scoring that many this season now that he’s back in Chicago.
12. Where Blackhawks will suffer this season is on defense. Yes, they have Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. It’s too bad they can’t play 40 minutes per game. The situation gets scary after thos two. Do we even know if Jan Rutta can play at an NHL-level? We’re about the find out.
13. People suggesting the Oilers will be a worse team in 2017/2018 are stupid. They spent the first two-thirds of last season figuring out how to play together, and then spent the last third destroying other teams. Another season means more mature versions of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Drake Cagguila, Jesse Puljujarvi, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse. This team will be in the cup finals next June.
14. Speaking of the Edmonton Oilers, Leon Draisaitl will be signed for eight seasons at $7.5 million per season. There’s talk of a bridge deal because it appears management and the player are at an impasse, but Oilers ownership knows letting this free agency thing drag out too long is a bad idea for the mood of the team. Things are happy in Edmonton for the first time in 11 years. No one wants to screw it up.
15. It’s possible that the Oilers have a deal ready to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins once Draisaitl is officially re-signed. Possible. Oilers GM and President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli hinted a few weeks ago that he had laid the groundwork for some trades. None of those trades have happened yet, so something is holding things back. Draisaitl is the only player on the roster still unsigned. If Nuge gets moved, it can't be for a player with a big salary. There's no point to trading him for someone expensive.
16. Someone needs to explain to the Vancouver Canucks that you can’t spell “tank” by adding Sam Gagner. Gagner had a huge bounce-back season in Columbus. I’m confused as to why he’d throw his next three seasons away on the Canucks, who would be battling for the basement of the Western Conference if George McPhee knew how to draft and expansion team roster.
17. I have this theory that the Oilers will be moving Nugent-Hopkins to the Arizona Coyotes for Dylan Strome. In Edmonton, it will be “Game of Stromes” this season. BTW, which team would need to throw in an extra asset on that trade? Strome looked like an offensive monster in junior, but has done nothing at the NHL-level. Nugent-Hopkins is a quality two-way center and is still very young. A tough trade to handicap.
18. Just curious: Are the New Jersey Devils planning on having 20 players on their team attending games this season? Why aren’t they signing anyone?
19. I get the feeling Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen is waiting to see what Draisaitl signs for before he re-signs. Quite comparable players I believe.
20. It’s going to rain goals for the New York Islanders this upcoming season. I’m not sure which team will be scoring them, but there will be plenty.
21. John Tavares on a re-signing… If Connor McDavid is $12.5 million per season, Tavares is $10 million per season all day long. But the question is, does he actually want to stay in Brooklyn? His value is obvious. So why hasn’t he been extended yet?
22. The Toronto Maple Leafs are several million dollars in the red, so expect a trade or two before the season begins. Likely to go? James Van Riemsdyk, or Tyler Bozak, or both. There are several teams around the NHL that would be interested in both. If I’m the Leafs, I’m looking for young defensemen.
23. Bozak to the Pittsburgh Penguins would make sense, although I’m not sure who the Penguins send back in a trade. Bozak to the Columbus Blue Jackets would also make sense.
24. What about Van Riemsdyk to the Boston Bruins? If any team should have a win-now attitude, it’s the Bruins. Krejci is 31. Bergeron 31. Marchand 29. Bakces 33. Chara 40. The window to win in Boston is about three seasons. Van Riemsdyk fits the timeline.
25. There were some big contracts this summer, so it was really surprising to see Ondrej Palat sign for $5.3 million per season and Tyler Johnson sign for $5 million per season. Tampa Bay has a stacked roster and I’ll suggest they’ll win the Stanley Cup in 2018. They got both players at a discount.
26. Mikhail Sergachev could win the Calder Trophy this season with the Lightning. Does the NHL ever name a defenseman Rookie of the Year? I’m not sure where this kid fits on the Tampa roster, but he definitely belongs in the NHL.
27. The Washington Capitals still need to add players, and they always seem to be a cup threat. So why not add Jaromir Jagr? I’m guessing Jagr wants too much money for that to work. Shane Doan or Jerome Iginla, or both? Caps need to do something. Doaner and Iggy can't be done hockey yet.
28. Nolan Patrick is a better player than Nico Hischier, and the Philadelphia Flyers will be a decent team in 2017/2018. Flyers need to add a defenseman before the season begins, and it seems like they have one too many centers. Is a Sean Couturier-for-a-defenseman trade unlikely? I mentioned Columbus needing a center earlier. So would Couturier for defenseman Ryan Murray make sense for both teams?
29. Matt Duchene doesn’t want to be in Colorado, and the Avalanche don’t want him anymore, but Duchene is a decent player with a decent contract. So where’s the trade? The Avs are another team starving for a defenseman. There’s plenty of options out there for the Blue Jackets to get a center. Pick up the phone, already.
30. The current-day Buffalo Sabres remind me of the Edmonton Oilers from about four seasons ago. Oh, the roster has some talent, but does anyone know what the point is? This is a rebuild gone wrong. Keep Jack Eichel and trade everyone else. Time to start over again.
31. t’s a race to see which team relocates to Quebec City first: The Florida Panthers or the Carolina Hurricanes. I’ll go with Carolina. Florida is a rival to Tampa Bay, so keeping the Panthers is logical. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, are completely friendless. That’s another team like Buffalo, that it’s impossible to determine what the point is.