Some notes from the weekend to kick us off. We’ll talk about guys being sent down, guys staying, and guys improving their lot in life. Well, their lot on the roster, anyway.
The Flyers have sent goalie Carter Hart to the AHL. There had been hope he could crack the roster but it never really made sense for him to go and be the backup. It’s still Brian Elliott’s team, though that doesn’t mean things couldn’t change in the next couple months.
It had been lingering for a week now but it was confirmed that Filip Zadina will start the year in the AHL for the Red Wings. Even in a full year it would have been hard to have fantasy relevance for Zadina but this makes him droppable outside of keeper/dynasty leagues.
Dennis Cholowski and Michael Rasmussen are both on the opening-night NHL roster. The former could see important PP minutes with the likes of Kronwall, Green, and Daley injured.
Denis Gurianov was sent to the AHL by the Stars. I will concede I didn’t watch much Dallas hockey in the preseason but the very limited viewing I had, he showed well. Most people I follow for Stars coverage inferred the same.
Regardless, this is now Gurianov’s age-21 season. I don’t want to say time is running out but if he can’t make a substantial impact in the AHL, or force his way to the NHL, this year, then yeah, maybe time is running out for the 12th overall pick from 2015.
One player playing himself up the roster is Anaheim’s Maxime Comtois. A second rounder from 2017, Comtois had a very good D+1 year in the Q last year, which included a selection to the Canadian World Junior Roster. He started off the preseason as a spare part for Anaheim but has climbed into the top-6 as of this weekend.
The injury to Corey Perry is obviously a factor here but it’s worth noting that Comtois is the guy earning the extra ice time. He may not have a huge impact fantasy-wise but it’s a good sign for dynasty owners.
Montreal has decided to keep Jesperi Kotkaniemi around. Given that he’s a highly-touted 18-year old, this won’t be done with the intention of playing him 11 minutes a game on the fourth line. He should be given middle-six minutes with some PP time.
Whether this is best for Kotkaniemi or not is for someone else to decide. For now, he has fantasy relevance in deeper leagues and should give some production in dynasty leagues.
Dustin Brown is out indefinitely with a broken finger suffered in the team’s final preseason game. My guess is Toffoli gets some top-line time but Ilya Kovalchuk also gets some time there. Likely just a rotation of a handful of players depending on the game.
Tom Wilson got a match penalty for a hit to the head. In fairness to Wilson, his tally of preseason suspensions this year (1) represents a 50% decrease in preseason suspensions from last year (2).
One offseason darling that was cut is Dylan Sikura. Many (myself included) had him pencilled in the Chicago top-6, mostly because of a lack of options. Other have taken top-6 roles ahead of Sikura so the wait continues.
The preseason is over which means we’re just waiting for roster trims (those are finalized in the next couple days), but more importantly the first games of the season on Wednesday night. The regular season is almost here.
With the season a couple days away, I thought it’d be time to make a few predictions. Everyone loves predictions, right? This is going to be a bit different. Rather than just flat-out predicting all the trophy winners and Stanley Cup champion, these are going to be totally real headlines that you’ll 100% see at some point in the 2018-19 regular season or playoff campaigns, with accompanying blurb.
Connor McDavid has Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan Disappeared, Becomes Player-Coach-GM
Despite leading the league by 29 points at the Christmas break while having Milan Lucic literally strapped to his back, McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers was 14 points out of a playoff position. Thanks to Lucic having lost six pounds in the offseason, McDavid doesn’t seem to have slowed too much, but the rest of the team has yet to catch up. Jesse Puljujarvi was playing defence for some reason while Kailer Yamamoto sat in the press box.
McDavid came right out and said, “I won’t hide it. Chiarelli and McLellan are gone and we’ll never see them again. Lucic has been bought out, Kris Russell was sent to the Czech League, and either me or Leon are going to be on the ice at all times.”
Drastic times, indeed.
It has been a magnificent year for the newest San Jose Shark Erik Karlsson as he amassed the most points by a defenceman in a single season in a generation. He led the Sharks to a Pacific Division title and was a big reason for their Stanley Cup Run.
In a shocking turn of events, Shea Weber beat out Karlsson for the Norris Trophy even though the Canadiens blue liner had just 20 points in 42 games.
One voter who wished to remain anonymous said, “Did you see how hard Weber shoots? It’s unfathomable. Hard shot. Really hard shot.”
Another voter exclaimed, “HE HITS SO HARD.”
Having never won the award before, voters felt Weber’s legacy had earned it. As such, the best defenceman to enter the league since Nicklas Lidstrom will have to wait at least another year before acquiring another Norris.
Ottawa Switches with Belleville; No One Notices
With all the offseason changes and turmoil surrounding the franchise, a down year seemed inevitable. No one could have predicted that Eugene Melnyk would literally hold the Spartan mascot hostage to force Pierre Dorion to send the entire NHL roster to the AHL and vice versa. And no one seemed to notice.
We tried to reach Melnyk for comment, but he was busy putting black garbage bags over seats in the lower bowl at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Despite the switch happening just after American Thanksgiving, the NHL-calibre Belleville Senators missed AHL playoffs by four points.
Barry Trotz Says, “Screw It” and Rolls Six Skaters for the Final Month
To be sure, the New York Islanders have been one of the more exciting teams this year. As we sit here at the trade deadline, the team has scored 237 goals and allowed 522. Every single game they’ve played this year has featured at least six total goals. On January 13th, they taped their goalies together to make a Super Goalie and lost 7-3.
“I mean, what does it matter anymore?” asked coach Barry Trotz. “If we’re going to lose, we may as well lose in the most spectacular fashion possible,” the coach said following the team’s 28-9 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first six-skater experiment.
Mathew Barzal is in the running for the Art Ross Trophy with 88 points in 66 games but is carrying a minus-122 rating. The latter would be an NHL record.
Carolina Uses Their Goalies in a 1A/1B Scenario, Both Allow Over 200 Goals
Even though the Carolina Hurricanes have both the best shot attempt and expected goals percentages in the Eastern Conference, Petr Mrazek and Scott Darling managed save percentages under .840, both allowing in excess of 200 goals.
“We really thought we had something special this year,” said captain Jordan Staal. “Unfortunately, we just needed an extra save or two every period of every game.”
It is the end of another disappointing season for Carolina as a strong roster and solid play has been undone by subpar goaltending. Do not fret, ‘Canes fans, next year is definitely the year.
Columbus Plays the Jones-Werenski Pairing Literally Every Minute of the Playoffs
It was a good run for the Blue Jackets, having made it all the way to the Conference Finals before being ousted in four games by the Florida Panthers. The team was backed by stellar goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky and the fact that Seth Jones and Zach Werenski played every minute of every game since the postseason began.
“Have you seen the rest of our blue line?” posed coach John Tortorella. “What am I going to do? Give a Nutivaara-Harrington pairing 20 minutes a game?”
It was a performance for the ages for both Jones and Werenski, both of whom played over 1000 minutes each in the team’s 16 playoff games. By the time the Conference Final rolled around, they were skating up and down the ice with their sticks in one hand and an IV in the other.
The Entire Anaheim Roster Contracts an Infectious Disease
“I thought after the mumps outbreak a few years ago that something like this couldn’t happen again,” coach Randy Carlyle told reporters while in quarantine at a local medical facility. “You see this?” asked Carlyle as he held up a limb while laying next to a Ducks player in the same room. “It’s Hampus Lindholm’s arm. It just fell off! What the hell is going on?!”
Doctors and experts worldwide are baffled at what exactly has happened to the Ducks. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” said one representative from the World Health Organization.
When, exactly, the team can return to the ice remains in doubt as all limbs are still being accounted for.
This is Definitely Tampa’s Year, Fans Scream as the Lightning are Eliminated by the Panthers in the Second Round
The Tampa Bay roster was loaded top to bottom with Art Ross threat Nikita Kucherov, premier goal scorer Steven Stamkos, burgeoning superstar Brayden Point, and unheralded stars like Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat. The blue line was one of the most imposing in the league with names like Hedman, McDonagh, Stralman, and Sergachev. They had a Vezina-calibre goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy.
And yet, they lost in the second round to eventual finalists Florida Panthers.
“Next year is our year, for sure this time,” said a sullen Stamkos post-game. “We’ve all taken pay cuts to stay together so this f*#%^@g thing had better work.”
“I don’t know, man. I don’t know,” explained coach Jon Cooper as he was unscrewing his flask during his post-game scrum. “Like, this happened again. Again. REALLY THIS HAPPENED AGAIN,” he screamed as he started unscrewing the lid to his flask.
The team gets another kick at the can as the 2019-20 season starts in five short months.
Clayton Keller Finishes Fourth in Scoring Race, No Other Coyote Forward Manages 30 Points
An early-season injury to Alex Galchenyuk left the former Canadiens forward out of the Coyotes lineup much longer than expected. Second-year star Clayton Keller picked up the slack but no one else did.
“What else can I do?” says Keller following a season where he out-pointed second-place Derek Stepan by 71 points. “Now I know how Paul Kariya felt in 1995-96.”
The Coyotes had been hopeful to make the playoffs but despite the incredible season from Keller, and .930 goaltending from Antti Raanta, they missed the playoffs by nine points.
The team is hopeful that next year will be the year all their young prospects finally pan out.
Dallas and St. Louis Face Off in the First Round as Darkhorse Cup Candidates; Somehow Eliminate Each Other
Two teams over the last half-decade that have had consistently high hopes are the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues. In a surreal turn of events Saturday night, these two teams, competing against each other in the first round of the playoffs, eliminated each other from the postseason.
“We’re still not sure how this is possible,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters following the exciting Game 7. “Technically, they’ve both been eliminated even though that shouldn’t be possible. All the same, congratulations to both teams on their excellent seasons, and a separate congratulations to the Nashville Predators on their second-round bye.”
Many NHL executives reached out to say that despite the implausibility of teams eliminating each other in the playoffs, this is indeed what happened.
“Whatever,” giggled Jason Spezza.
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