My latest for the CanucksArmy – Chris Higgins and the value of the role player.
And a look at five overperforming teams, including three from Canada.
Montreal wasn't expected to make much noise in the Eastern Conference this season. Sure, they have arguably the best goaltender in the Conference, and entire NHL for that matter, in Carey Price, but their forward group wasn't all that impressive on paper. The defense was without young star PK Subban to start the season, but they didn't miss him all that much, thanks to the stellar play (especially offensively) of Andrei Markov.
A few minor trades have come through in the past two days. Let’s break them down.
Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Devils for a 4th and a 7th round draft pick. This trade is all about New Jersey acquiring a big body to replace Danius Zubrus up front. Ponikarovsky’s days as a consistent secondary scorer are over, but he is a decent top nine forward and the Devils coaching staff liked his play with the team last year.
New Jersey had originally planned to re-sign Ponikarovsky last summer, but they spent so much time on the Parise chase that Ponikarovsky opted to go to Winnipeg. It didn’t last long.
I would say the fantasy impact of this move is negligible for either team.
The Jets brought in Eric Tangradi from the Penguins earlier in the day. Tangradi has a lot of skill, but he simply isn’t a good enough skater to stick at the NHL level. I’m not sure what will be different in Winnipeg – if you can’t hack it on a line with Neal and Malkin, where can you fit in?
And this morning, Montreal and Tampa Bay swapped goaltenders – Dustin Tokarski to Montreal, and Cedric Desjardins to Tampa Bay. Tokarski was at one time a really good prospect (he still is), but the Lightning like Lindback and Helenius more.
Desjardins is a great AHL goalie who has little NHL experience.
Tokarski is a 23-year-old native of Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Originally selected with the No. 122 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Lightning, Tokarski has spent the 2013 season with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. In 33 games played this season, Tokarski has compiled a 18-8-4 record with a .900 save percentage and 2.46 goals against average.
In seven career appearances in NHL games (all with Tampa Bay) Tokarski has a 1-3-0 record with an .871 save percentage and 3.54 goals against average.
Obviously the big news from the three games last night – Erik Karlsson suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is likely done for the season (and perhaps longer). He was hit by Matt Cooke, whose skate came up onto the back of Karlsson's leg. Probably an accident, but Cooke's reputation precedes him (even if he has cleaned up his game).
To put it mildly, the Senators are pretty much screwed without Karlsson and Spezz