Ramblings: A Trade To Announce, Isles Secure Eberle, Battered Bruins (June 15)

by Ian Gooding on June 15, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: A Trade To Announce, Isles Secure Eberle, Battered Bruins (June 15)


With the offseason officially underway, Friday wasn’t exactly a slow news day.

The day was still young when the Capitals and Flyers quickly announced a swap of defensemen. The Capitals traded Matt Niskanen to the Flyers for Radko Gudas. You can read about the fantasy impact here.

From a hockey standpoint, I didn’t get the impression that either fanbase on Twitter was overly enthused about the deal. The Capitals came out of this deal looking a little better, as they will clear some cap space by taking on the less expensive player while not having to pay all of his salary in the process.

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The Islanders have one less free agent to worry about this offseason. Jordan Eberle has agreed to a five-year contract worth $5.5 million. Given Eberle’s diminishing returns, I was hoping that the Isles would be able to sign him for less than the $6 million per season of his previous contract. This could be a sign that teams are not willing to break the bank on UFAs, but instead invest more on up-and-coming RFAs.

Eberle’s 37 points (19g-18a) in 2018-19 wasn’t even close to his career high. However, don’t forget that he led the Islanders in playoff scoring with nine points (4g-5a) in eight games. That hot streak actually began late in the regular season, when he scored five goals over his last seven games after being reunited with Mathew Barzal. Eberle might be viewed as a player that you have always expected more from, but don’t be surprised if he rebounds a bit in 2019-20. Don’t forget that barring a major offseason signing, Eberle should also be back on the Isles’ first-unit power play.

Now the Islanders will turn their attention to UFAs-to-be Anders Lee and Robin Lehner.

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Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong told Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto that Jordan Binnington is due for a “big pay raise this summer.” What that could be at this point is anyone’s guess, as there hasn’t been any precedent of another goalie who has followed the same path. Matt Murray or Andrew Hammond might be the most similar examples, though the fact that Binnington is 25 and UFA-eligible in two years makes this scenario unique.

I mentioned in yesterday’s Ramblings the possibility of what could happen if Jake Allen is still around. Just to follow up, I do believe the Blues will try to shop him around, and failing that could consider a buyout. As well, I’d expect him to land somewhere as a backup if they part ways with him. Armstrong’s words make it seem as though Binnington is a major part of their plans going forward. However, I’ll still stress that there is no guarantee that Allen won’t be on the Blues next season. For now, I’ll be ranking Binnington as though Allen is still in the picture.  

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Cam’s official mock draft is finally available in the Fantasy Prospects Report! If your copy of the Prospects Report shows the mock draft as empty, then go back to your Downloads folder and download another copy. It’ll be there now, and it goes three rounds deep. With the draft now one week away, now is the time to have a look.  

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According to James Mirtle, the Panthers are expected to trade or buy out James Reimer. With the Panthers rumored to be targeting Sergei Bobrovsky, Reimer is the odd man out. Mirtle suggests Calgary as a potential destination for Reimer, who will likely end up somewhere as a backup.

Reimer leaving the Panthers might be good news for the Canucks. Why? If Roberto Luongo sticks around and doesn’t retire, then the Canucks aren’t on the hook for the cap recapture penalty on the lifetime contract he signed with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lu is stashed on LTIR either.  

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Now that the playoffs are over, the Boston Bruins can finally spill the beans on their various injuries.
 


For much of the day on sports talk radio, the debate was about whether teams should use injuries as an excuse for not winning a title. Or to put it another way, whether the losing team in the final would have won had it not been for injuries. The discussion wasn’t just about the Boston Bruins, but also about the Golden State Warriors. The discussion, even among hockey people, shifted back and forth from the NHL to the NBA.

Maybe if there hadn’t been that long list of injuries, the Bruins would have defeated the Blues, and maybe they wouldn’t have even needed to go to a Game 7 to do it. However, I don’t think the injuries provided that much of a disadvantage for the Bruins. The first period of Game 7 could have easily been 2-0 Bruins, or at least 0-0, given how the Bruins were carrying the play. However, Binnington made some incredible saves, and Brad Marchand had that untimely brain fart near the end of the period. Had the score not been 2-0 Blues, we’re looking at a very different game that could have had a very different outcome. All the Blues had to do in the final two periods was to not allow the Bruins to control the play as much, and it would be game over.

If you want to look at stats, all of the names listed came up empty in Game 7. The only goal the Bruins scored was during garbage time by Matt Grzelcyk, who was not listed above because his concussion was already known. Patrice Bergeron was held without a point in Games 5-7. David Pastrnak did not record a point in Games 4, 5, or 7. The top line combined for just two points at 5-on-5 in the entire final series. We can point to that lack of production as a key reason that the Bruins lost the series.

DeBrusk’s injury is even more concerning, as it dates all the way back to the Nazem Kadri hit from the first round. I understand this is the playoffs, but what if this concussion affects his playing career and quality of life going forward? We can criticize the Kadri hit, but we can also criticize how the Bruins have handled this. Hopefully DeBrusk is able to rest enough over the summer.

I’m sure once the Blues have finished celebrating (or at least pause for a few moments), they’ll list their injuries as well.

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This has also been a hotly debated topic. The first period of Game 7 really decided the Stanley Cup. You can run all the projections and regressions that you want to predict who will win, but with all of the bounces and breaks that can happen in one period of a Game 7 you can throw all of that out the window. Yes, because the NHL is a copycat league, you might start to see a team or two ditch its analytics department so that the old hockey men can focus on loading up on size.

The GMs that chase after the St. Louis model might forget that more skilled teams like Pittsburgh and Detroit and Chicago have also won the Cup, and multiple times each at that. If these GMs are modelling their team after the 2011-12 LA Kings, they may find that their team ends up like the 2018-19 Kings instead. In order to win the Stanley Cup, you need to somehow get to the playoffs first. And this isn’t the old 21-team NHL anymore. Half the of teams now don’t make it.

Using the golf analogy above, a winning golfer has to be able to both drive and putt. So wouldn’t it make sense that a Stanley Cup winner should somehow stack up on both speed and grit? Yeah, I could totally see a few GMs shifting their focus back toward the larger, tougher model of team.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.