Ramblings: Tarasenko surgery; Coyotes Draft penalty; Green; Kapanen trade –

Michael Clifford

2020-08-27

In light of the NBA and WNBA players deciding not to play their playoff games, the MLS cancelling games, MLB teams like Seattle and Milwaukee deciding not to play, Kenny Smith walking off the NBA on TNT set, and Naomi Osaka pulling out of her tennis tournament, the NHL had a 70-some word statement before the Tampa/Boston game followed by a seven-second moment of reflection:

 

 

In light of the response from most of the sports world, this fell short.

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Vladimir Tarasenko underwent another shoulder surgery and the timeline for re-assessment is late January. Should the NHL manage to start the regular season in early December as they hope, that means Tarasenko would miss at least a third of the regular season. The later the NHL starts, the better for Tank. The timing of 2020-21 drafts will fluctuate his value a lot.

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The Arizona Coyotes must forfeit their 2020 second-round pick in this year's draft and their 2021 first-round pick in next year's draft for violating rules of the NHL Combine. Basically, the Coyotes were testing players before they were allowed. The rules allow leeway from the Commissioner as to what the punishment should be, and he decided to levy them against the team rather than any individual.

This is brutal for Arizona. My assumption is Taylor Hall is not re-signing, but even with the conditions of his trade, they have no first-round picks in either of the next two drafts, are going to be missing at least one second-round pick, and there are a couple nice prospects on the way but it's not enough. They're also cap-strapped. This team needs a big injection of talent and they're not going to get it for years. Good luck, Yotes fans.

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My basic assessment of the Kasperi Kapanen trade was the same as Cam's: the pick doesn't really mean much to Pittsburgh. Both Malkin and Letang have two years left on their respective deals. At the end of those contracts, they'll be heading into their age-36 and age-35 seasons, respectively. In other words, Pittsburgh probably has two years left in their Malkin/Crosby/Letang Cup window. They don't need a 2020 mid-first pick to end up a middle-six winger four years from now. They need a guy who can be a middle-six winger right now.  I also agree with Cam that they probably could have gotten a better return aside from Kapanen, or at least should have waited until more teams were available as trade partners.

We need to remember that the Penguins were a pretty good team this year! Their regular season saw them finish seventh by points percentage, ahead of teams like Vegas, Carolina, and the Islanders. They lost an even-shorter playoff series to Carey Price. If they get decent goaltending and launch Jack Johnson to the press box, they'll be fine. The emergence of John Marino gives them a second defence pair, their top-6 is still lethal, and they have a good third line. This is definitely not the time to be writing off the Penguins.

I have a lot of hope for Kapanen. I know we say that about every player that ends up in Pittsburgh, but according to CJ Turtoro's viz, he ranked well from 2016-19 in things like shot assists, shots, and possession entries. To be quite honest, his profile isn't a lot different (and in many ways, better) from another guy who got a shot in their top-6 and had a great year in 2019-20:

[viz]

That's not quite an elite profile. In his recap of the trade, Cam mentioned Kevin Fiala as a young guy who had had some success but found another gear in another locale. It's a fair comparison for the most part, though I don't think Kapanen has similar upside. Fiala had 58 points in 68 games this year, including the postseason, and did so playing with a 35-year old Eric Staal and rotating cast of non-top-line left wingers (depending how one views Zach Parise in 2020). Put Fiala in a situation like Kapanen found himself in Toronto's top-6 (before 2019-20), and he could probably push a point-per-game pace. I don't know if Kapanen has that high of upside in him, even in Pittsburgh.

The thing with Kapanen's value in Steeltown is this: let's say he does have an amazing season with either Malkin or Crosby, does he get regular top PP minutes? There is Crosby-Malkin-Guentzel-Letang. That leaves one spot for the likes of Zucker, Rust, Schultz, Hornqvist, and now, Kapanen. I'm sure he gets some time there over the year. Does he get 200+ minutes on the top PP unit? I very much doubt it, and that's another thing that Kaps his upside.

The Swedish winger is going to be a good addition for them, even if it's an overpay. His issue is he may not get the opportunities necessary to make him a coveted fantasy option. If he can repeat his 2018-19 season – something around 20 goals and 45 points – that would be a successful season. He is good for a couple shots and a hit per game, too, so that'll play in multi-cat leagues. Just don't expect 30-goal seasons on the reg.

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Mike Green has decided to retire from the NHL. He had opted out of the bubble before teams headed to Edmonton and Toronto for the play-in games. Looking ahead, it seems eminently possible the 2020-21 regular season is in some sort of modified bubble, as John Shannon intimated a couple days ago. If Green didn't want to spend a couple months in the bubble away from his family for a Cup, it seems reasonable that he would have a similar response to possibly spending several months away from them, and he turns 35 in October. He has every right to do what he thinks is best.

Green's legacy is a bit complicated from an on-ice perspective. Some accomplishments: he remains the only defenceman since the 1994 lockout to score 30 goals in a season (he had 31 in 2008-09); from 2008-10, he had back-to-back Norris Trophy runners-up performances; he's one of five defencemen to have at least two separate 70-point seasons since the 2005 lockout (Lidstrom, Carlson, Burns, Karlsson are the others); even once he got past his prime scoring years, he posted a 0.5 points/game mark from 2010 through 2020, which works out to 41 points every 82 games. Imagine that. Even once his scoring slowed down considerably, he averaged 41 points every 82 games for a decade. For reference, Green's decline saw him post one fewer point in 39 fewer games played than Drew Doughty. That's very good production for a guy who seemingly fell off the map 10 years ago.

The complication comes at the other end of the ice. Green's best seasons defensively, at least as measured by even-strength defence at Evolving Hockey, came towards the end of his tenure in Washington, and even then, he was outside the 80th percentile of the league, meaning fringe top-pair defensive impacts. His best defensive seasons were roughly second-pair impacts, and his worse ones were, well, considerably worse.

Green was all-world offensively and somewhere around NHL-calibre defensively, which is a massive chasm. However, the offence was usually good enough to produce good seasons. It was just later in his career when the offence declined that the defensive impacts, or lack thereof, really made themselves apparent.

So, yes, it's a bit complicated, but he was excellent at his best, and still good when he declined. I wish him and his family nothing but the best for their future.

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The Flyers blew a 3-0 lead but salvaged the overtime win in a 4-3 game over the Islanders, evening the series at a game apiece.

Kevin Hayes had a pair of goals for Philadelphia but Philippe Myers scored the overtime-winning goal, as it deflected in off Anders Lee's stick.

Semyon Varlamov was pulled in lieu of Thomas Greiss, who saved all 20 he faced before allowing the 21st.

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Lightning hammered the Bruins 7-1. The top PP unit of Kucherov-Point-Palat-Killorn-Sergachev combined for 15 points. Yanni Gourde had 1-1. Jaroslav Halak was pulled after four and Dan Vladar was in for three. Not much to write about here.

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Update on the late game tomorrow.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency ARI Players
25.7% LAWSON CROUSE CLAYTON KELLER DEREK STEPAN
19.9% TAYLOR HALL VINNIE HINOSTROZA CARL SODERBERG
17.7% CHRISTIAN DVORAK BARRETT HAYTON PHIL KESSEL

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