Ramblings: Draft Lottery; Lineup News; Looking Ahead – April 10
It was quite the eventful draft lottery as Colorado did not end up with the first overall pick, sliding to fourth. The Rangers, Devils, and Blackhawks all jumped into the top-3. New Jersey ended up grabbing the top pick with New York ending up in the second slot.
Should everything go to plan, the Devils will be adding an elite talent immediately to the lineup. This team desperately needed another elite talent up front and they got it. The Rangers get a great prospect in their own right. Not a bad night for those franchises, and sincerest sympathies to Avalanche fans.
Just want to say that I really hope Jake Bean can get into some postseason games for the Hurricanes. He had a marvelous AHL season and is a guy I’ve been waiting to see in the NHL for a couple years now. I assume there would have to be at least one more injury for him to get a spot in the lineup, but all the same, I have high hopes for the kid.
Slava Voynov has been suspended by the NHL for next season plus the 2020 playoffs for his domestic abuse plea deal. There had been murmurs that teams were interested in signing him, and this suspension will likely dissuade these suitors (not that they shouldn’t have been dissuaded before the suspension).
Yesterday I was editing an article for Cameron Metz and in one paragraph he proclaimed that it marked the one-year anniversary for him at Dobber Hockey (congrats, Cam!). That got me thinking: this time of year would mark my own anniversary here at Dobber Hockey. Four years, to be exact. Next Tuesday will mark four years I’ve been with Dobber Hockey (man, time flies).
This link brings you to the first Ramblings I ever posted. Included are such topics as:
- Peter Chiarelli being fired by the Bruins
- Craig Berube’s future being up in the air with the Flyers
- Boston’s cap crunch due to players like Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton needing new contracts
- The difference between Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek playing with Brayden Schenn and playing with Michael Raffl
- Ryan Strome’s excellent 50-point season with the Islanders
Looking back at what’s happened since that Ramblings post nearly four years ago is kind of hilarious. Chiarelli has since been hired and fired by the Oilers, Berube is a coach of the year candidate in St. Louis, neither Soderberg nor Hamilton are still in Boston, Schenn is thriving in St. Louis, and Strome never recaptured that level of success. Time not only flies, but it makes fools of us all.
Seeing as this is the last day before playoffs start, it might be the last chance to do something like this, so I wanted to take a stab at what the NHL might look like in four years. Ready to be made a fool of again? I am.
Unbelievable Free Agent Class
A lot of stars have signed huge contracts in recent seasons with lengths of anywhere from six to eight years. A lot of those contracts will be running out in the same three-year span, and that will lead to a lot of talent in unrestricted free agency, even if they’re older. Per Cap Friendly, here are some of the names that could theoretically be available after the 2022-23 season: Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jonathan Toews, David Pastrnak, Sean Monahan, Nathan MacKinnon, Dylan Larkin, Ryan O’Reilly, Max Pacioretty, James van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Huberdeau, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Bo Horvat. That kind of talent in a single free agent class is almost surreal.
Of course, as alluded to, a lot of players will be in their 30s by that point. There are a handful of guys who will be in their mid-to-late 20s like MacKinnon, Pastrnak, Monahan, and Larkin. With the likelihood of a lockout looming, will some of the older players not named who will also be UFA like Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, and Duncan Keith be bought out?
The younger guys, I’m sure, will be extended by their current teams. What about everyone else? Wouldn’t it be cool for Toews and Kane to do what Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne did and take cheap contracts to sign somewhere together? Regardless, in a few years’ time, there will be a lot of high-profile free agents that will start hitting the market.
It seems pretty likely that Colorado is one of the top teams in the league in four years, isn’t it? They’ll have MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the roster, Samuel Girard will be a top-tier puck-mover, Cale Makar has the look of a future Norris Trophy contender, and then there’s Ottawa’s top pick from this year. There will be a great core to build around and if management can manage to not pull an Edmonton or Buffalo, it will hopefully be a championship core.
Of course, there is a lot else the team will have to deal with. Their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, is a free agent after the 2020-21 season. Will he still be around? Will Tyson Barrie? Will any of the young guys currently on the roster like J.T. Compher, Alex Kerfoot, and Tyson Jost be making an impact on the 2022-23 roster? This is certainly a team on the rise, but the toughest leap to make is from a good team to a championship-calibre team. Can the Avs be that team?
I say yes. There were some early bumps in the road but the Avalanche management group has made solid deals over the last year or so. As long as they can keep making positive deals for the franchise, there’s no reason to believe they’ll flounder. I believe in April 2023, we’ll be talking about the Avalanche as one of the top franchises in the league, returning to the glory they enjoyed early in the franchise’s existence.
In the fantasy game, guys I have a soft spot for are the across-the-board performers. They’re guys who may not excel in any individual category, but the sum of their parts makes for a great fantasy campaign. In years gone by, this included names like David Backes, Wayne Simmonds, and Andrew Ladd. When looking around the league currently, names like Kyle Palmieri, Gabriel Landeskog, and Brendan Gallagher fit this bill. We’re always looking to the future, and it appears the future in this category belongs to the Brothers Tkachuk.
In many ways, they’ve already sort of arrived in this position. The elder Tkachuk, Matthew, was a top-30 fantasy player in standard Yahoo! leagues this year, one year after being a top-130 player. He’s a young star on the rise and he’s proved himself as such.
Brady Tkachuk has also arrived but not to the same degree just yet. He had a marvelous rookie season, becoming sixth 19-year old rookie since the 2012 lockout to post a season with at least 20 goals, 20 assists, and 200 shots, joining Dylan Larkin, Jack Eichel, Sebastian Aho, Auston Matthews, and Clayton Keller. To put the cherry on top in multi-category leagues, Tkachuk had 75 penalty minutes and 174 hits. That is just outstanding.
It very much appears that Matthew and Brady will follow in the footsteps of past multi-cat stars like Backes and Simmonds, and current multi-cat stars like Gallagher and Landeskog. In four years, it’s very likely that both of those players are easily top-50 picks in roto leagues, if not higher.
It’s hard to imagine, but in four years, Ovechkin could be with a different franchise (he’s UFA after the 2020-21 season). I don’t actually think he’ll finish his career anywhere else but Washington, I’m just saying it’s possible. Regardless, if Ovechkin can average 40 goals a year for the next four years, he’ll have passed Gordie Howe on the all-time goal scoring list and will be about 80 goals behind Wayne Gretzky for the all-time record.
Of course, the major wrench that could be thrown in all this is the potential of a lockout after the 2019-20 season. Ovechkin already lost a season and a half to lockouts, which have cost him, what, about 60 goals by now? If we lose another season, that’ll make Ovechkin’s task even more difficult.
It could be very likely that in four years, we’re lamenting what could have been with Alex Ovechkin. His pursuit of Gretzky’s record could be one of the great record chases of this generation. Will Ovechkin have maintained his elite goal scoring prowess while not losing a season to the lockout? I’m hopeful, but the NHL’s history with labour negotiations is cause for concern.
With Seattle getting an NHL franchise, the league will be at 32 teams. This new franchise is going to have the same rebuild rules as Vegas, so will the enjoy the same early success as Vegas?
I think to expect any expansion franchise to replicate the accomplishments of the Golden Knights through their first two seasons is expecting far too much. I think teams will have learned from this mistake. You won’t have teams ship out 30-goal scorers on bargain contracts (Florida), letting go of multiple young prospects to save one player (Minnesota), or over-paying to get rid of a bad contract (Columbus). Well, you probably won’t… shouldn’t? Regardless, I do think teams will learn from their mistakes and Seattle will be in for a rough early couple seasons.
This isn’t to say there won’t be hope. The end of the 2022-23 season will bring Seattle to the end of their second season. It’ll will probably be another year of missing playoffs, but they’ll have an absolutely loaded cupboard of prospects. There will be a lot of promise for the years that follow.
Seattle’s new franchise is going to go through growing pains that Vegas did not have to endure due unimaginably bad decisions across the league. But in four years, there will be promise of much better days ahead.
Those are a few things I’ll be looking for in four years. How about you? What stands out as something we accept now that’ll change in four years? What will be the same? Hit up the comments.
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