It turns out we saw the last Tuesday night game of the 2020-21 season without knowing it, so I have to wait until the fall before commenting on live hockey again. That being said, it's going to be a busy summer, and there will be no shortage of news.
How's that for a rumour? Whether Vladimir Tarasenko gets moved or not, his stock likely doesn't change. However, if he was to get traded to a team such as Detroit, Edmonton, or LA, then I could see some of the players around him getting a boost based on the added dynamic on the wing. If he does get traded, don't get sucked into the new team hype, he's a 35-goal, 70-point winger.
Buffalo removed the "interim" tag from Don Granato as head coach, which adds a bit of intrigue to some Buffalo skaters. Granato took over almost exactly at the midway point of the season for Buffalo, so we have some excellent splits to see whether players thrived or sputtered under his tutelage. Let's do some quick hits on players that saw ice-time, production, or something else change:
Sam Reinhart – Strong second half, and his last quarter was a point-per-game. Could be looking at a career-high in points this coming year if he does stay in Buffalo.
Victor Olofsson – Saw his ice time dip a little under Granato, and the season overall was a step back. I'm not betting on a strong bounce-back.
Casey Mittelstadt – Received a bump of five (!) minutes of ice time per game, and paced for 50 points in the second half. Forget Nolan Patrick, this is the post-hype sleeper pick you want to buy in on.
Tage Thompson – Got dropped down the lineup, but somehow put up better numbers. I'm not convinced it's sustainable for Thompson unless the ice time and opportunity is there too.
Jeff Skinner – There were at least signs of life while playing for Granato with 12 points in 30 games as opposed to the two points in 23 games beforehand.