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Friday was so nuts that I wish I had the Ramblings for Saturday. Six teams could have been eliminated – and five actually were. With the lone team coming back from three goals down with four minutes left. Some parting thoughts on the eight eliminated teams:
New York Rangers
My two favorite dark horse teams squared off, so I was stuck picking just one. Carolina has this deep, underrated team that for my money has the superior coach. The Rangers have Shesterkin and a Top 3 MVP-type scorer. I put my money on the Rangers. But then Shesterkin was injured for two games. Dems da breaks. But the Rangers are a scary team with a bright future. If they landed Alexis Lafreniere it would just be unfair. Only on two teams would this be more unfair (see below). From a fantasy standpoint, the Rangers were the fourth-highest scoring team in the league and that's only going to improve (not even considering Lafreniere when I say this).
Kaapo Kakko – still has a lot of growing up to do. By November it was clear to us that he was a little over his head in the NHL. Hindsight being 20-20, he never should have been rushed into the NHL. For all we know, if he made his debut in 2020-21 then he would have flourished as a rookie. Instead, I'm not even confident about 2020-21 now.
Ryan Strome – nothing I saw in this short series indicated to me that his strong regular season numbers were a fluke. Granted, he was off the Artemi Panarin line, but he still posted points and he was still on the top power-play unit. His regular season 5on5 S% of 10.5 indicates a small decline, but that would depend on if he is off the Panarin line permanently. Obviously playing with Panarin inflates that number.
Julien Gauthier – It's worth noting that Gauthier got into all three games. After a fantastic AHL season, Gauthier was called up on February 19 and Coach Dave Quinn liked his play enough to keep him. And now, when it matters most, he remained a part of the team, albeit with limited minutes. The power forward will take several years to get the numbers we want at the NHL level, but it looks like his NHL career has truly started