Ramblings: Panthers have a new GM; Jake Allen traded; Beauvillier; Cernak – September 3

Michael Clifford

2020-09-03

The Florida Panthers have hired Bill Zito to be their new general manager, a few weeks after Dale Tallon was let go. Tallon's era was marked by a lot of turmoil between hiring, firing, re-hiring and plethora of terrible moves that sunk a team that had Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aaron Ekblad under contract long term for under $20M total per season. Zito is coming in to right the ship.

Zito comes from Columbus where he was an assistant general manager. Realistically, with the aforementioned pieces, he has a decent start. But then there's also the $26M per season going to Yandle, Stralman, Matheson, and Bobrovsky for the next two years, and the same grouping less Stralman for the next three. It's a lot of money tied up in players who aren't worth their level of payment. At least not by raw value. They also have Mike Hoffman, Evgenii Dadonov, and Erik Haula as UFAs up front and MacKenzie Weegar as a UFA on the blue line. This is a team that's supposed to be in its Cup window and now they have to re-tool on the fly. That's not easy.

Florida is a cap mess and they have two years left on Barkov's team-friendly deal before he's up. The clock is ticking.

(I tried to buy out Matheson's contract on Cap Friendly and that would give the team a cap hit between $1.3M and $2.3M every season for over a decade. Yandle's is shorter term but it would be a massive hit the year Barkov is due for a raise, which is bad timing. If they can replace Stralman with a near-min player, Stralman's buyout could save them a couple million each of the next two seasons and then even more savings two seasons beyond that, when they'll need the money for Barkov and Huberdeau. A Stralman buyout might be one to watch for.)

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St. Louis has traded goalie Jake Allen to Montreal, along with a seventh-round pick, in exchange for a third- and seventh-round pick. The Habs get a true backup for Price while the Blues get cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrengelo.

Cam's fantasy take on the trade can be found here.

As a Habs fan, a third-round pick for what looks to be a non-playoff team (certainly not a contender) for a backup to play 30 games feels like unnecessary spending. When you're nowhere near being a contender, it doesn't matter who your backup goalie is. It's like Bergevin decided to build a car, and he has the chassis, but instead of shopping for his engine, he's buying rims, and the rims self-destruct in 12 months. Though maybe Allen ends up being flipped at the deadline like Ilya Kovalchuk was.

On a personal note, it’s super effing cool seeing someone from my hometown play for the Habs.

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Jim Rutherford effectively said that Justin Schultz had played his last game as a Penguin. The defenceman is set to be a free agent and the team does not have the cap space to keep him around. He's also not the type of player that Rutherford should be cleaning out cap space for, either. It's fair to wonder whether or not Schultz would be leaving had the Penguins not signed Jack Johnson and Brandon Tanev to long contracts worth over $3M each per season. But what's done is done, and Schultz moves on.

It may seem like ancient history now but there was a time when it seemed Schultz may not last in the NHL. After deciding to sign with Edmonton, he had a couple decent seasons but that's when the Oilers were drowning with ankle weights tied, rather than merely flopping on the beach as they are these days.

The first thing is the injuries. Now, there may be a healthy scratch or two in here, but out of Pittsburgh's last 233 regular season games, Schultz has lined up for just 138 of them. In fact, even before this shortened year, he had just one season with at least 80 games played out of the last six, two with at least 75, and three with 70. Half your seasons consisting of missing at least 12 games is worrisome. And he missed over 20 games in 2019-20, aside from the pause. It's also another reason why I hate relying on Schultz's underlying stats for describing his play in recent seasons.

Injuries are a fickle thing and a player is injury-prone until they're not. But I think it could be a reason – along with the flat cap – that teams aren't going to be bidding very highly, or for many years, for Schultz's services. He's not a guy that can come in and play 22-23 minutes for 80 games on the top pair. Teams should realistically be expecting 19-20 minutes for 70 games on the second pair.

Schultz is generally fine in transition. He has a tough time getting the puck out, but once it's out, he's very good at jumping up in the play and finding teammates, as evidenced by CJ Turtoro's viz on exits, entries, shot assists and more (remember to take these with a grain of salt because of the injuries):

 

 

It's a mixed bag, and his defensive issues are very obvious. Teams gain the zone regularly against him and then the problems start.

When Schultz is at his best, he's a complimentary offensive defenceman, not a core piece of the team. In other words, I think the team that signs him should be a team in their Cup window that needs help on the blue line, not necessarily a big piece. It shouldn't be a team like Detroit, Ottawa, or Anaheim. Of course, with fewer suitors and a flat cap, maybe Schultz isn't as expensive as we may think.

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There's a member of Hockey Twitter (and specifically Canucks Twitter) who goes by 'nobody'. For those who've been watching the Canucks, they know that the CBC/Sportsnet broadcast team have been putting up their own sticks with their names inked at the end of them, as hockey players do in stick racks outside of their locker rooms. nobody said they would pay $100 if one of the trainers put a stick with 'nobody' on the handle among stick with Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Elliotte Friedman, and so on.

Well…

 

 

And they paid up. Sometimes, Twitter is good.

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I was checking something on individual Vegas players and was looking at the individual expected goals (iXG) list from the playoffs (from Natural Stat Trick). Basically, it's a list of players with the best combination of quality and volume with their shots at 5-on-5. I limited my inclusion to players who had advanced past the play-in rounds. Any guesses at the top of the list? Not Nathan MacKinnon, or Elias Pettersson, or Nikita Kucherov, or Brad Marchand, or Mark Stone. Rather, it's Anthony Beauvillier. Yes, as of Wednesday afternoon, Anthony Beauvillier led all NHL forwards in individual expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (1.35). He's been expected to score 4.4 goals at 5-on-5 and he's scored five. In total, he has 11 points in 14 games this postseason.

Back in February, I wrote about the breakout season that Beauvillier was having, just how good he had been, but also the concerns about upside. Those concerns still exist, but it's very nice to see the guy who was breaking out in the regular season not only continue to do so, but even improve on his performance in some regards.

Between Lee, Eberle, Beauvillier, and Bailey, the Islanders have their top-6 wingers locked in for a while. That means Beauvillier is in a spot like Jakub Vrana in Washington: he'll have to replace a proven player to earn more (and better-quality) ice time. That's not easy for a young player to do. Beyond that, we know that the Islanders like to split their PP units, which means expecting more than maybe 15 PPPs from Beauvillier in any given season is asking too much.

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While I was thinking of Florida's cap situation, I drifted over to Tampa's cap situation. They'll have about $6M in signing space with Cirelli, Sergachev, and Cernak to sign. Even if it were just Cirelli and Sergachev, they'd have to make some nifty trades to make it work. Add in Cernak, and it complicates things further.

Much like Stralman is a buyout candidate for the Panthers, I think Cernak is a trade candidate for Tampa. He's a proven second-pair defensive defenceman and just turned 23 in May. He should fetch a good price in the trade market.

(I think, given the handedness of their other blue liners, that trading Sergachev makes more sense, but I can't imagine they're keen on trading him. They'd have to have their doors blown off by a trade offer.)

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Michael Hutchinson was stellar in goal for Colorado as they pushed their series with Dallas to a Game 7 by a score of 4-1. Hutchinson made 27 saves in the win, allowing just one goal that he might want to have back.

Cale Makar and Nikita Zadorov scored a pair of goals from the back end while both MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist.

This was a much more even game than Game 5 when Colorado basically ended the match with 45 minutes to spare. We should expect something closer to Game 6 when these two meet to see who advances to the Western Conference Final.

Just as a small aside, Sam Girard continues to impress game in and game out. There are too many superstars on the roster for him to stand out, but he now has 10 points in 14 games. That puts him in tied for fifth among defencemen in the postseason with John Klingberg, behind just Heiskanen, Theodore, Makar, and Hughes.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency T.B Players
22.9% ANTHONY CIRELLI TYLER JOHNSON ALEX KILLORN
20.3% NIKITA KUCHEROV ONDREJ PALAT BRAYDEN POINT
20.3% BLAKE COLEMAN BARCLAY GOODROW YANNI GOURDE

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