Rambling player tryouts, Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall and Team North America …
The Fantasy Guide’s last update is with the Pirri signing. I have a few more small updates in there not yet posted, but I’m hoping to have my Calder picks article in there and then post. I still have some studying of that list to do. It’s my favorite thing to go over at this time each year. When that update is ready I will let you know via Twitter likely Thursday.
The tryout agreements are rolling in now. Chris Higgins agreed to a tryout with the Flames, Jarret Stoll agreed to tryout with the Blue Jackets, Rene Bourque agreed to tryout with the Avalanche and Raffi Torres agreed to tryout with the Hurricanes. I think the flames have room for Higgins, but I think the Hurricanes are pretty set and so are the Jackets. In the case of Columbus, I think Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson make the team and when you add Sam Gagner to the mix it makes 13 forwards. And that’s without Pierre-Luc Dubois. As for Bourque, well…I don’t think he’d even make the Las Vegas roster right now – and that’s a team with all the roster spots currently open.
One player who has a future that is more secure is Dominic Moore, who signed a one-year deal with the Bruins for $900,000 plus another $100,000 if he plays 42 games and Boston makes the playoffs. So Moore was able to stave off the dreaded PTO (professional tryout) contract.
At this point it’s safe to say that most of the ‘real’ contracts are done for the UFA’s. What’s left are these PTO agreements. And the UFA’s are starting to give up hope that a real contract is forthcoming. Did Kris Russell blow it, or what? He’s the one guy I think will get a real solid contract instead of a PTO, but that contract is probably going to be close to $1 million. He didn’t get in while the gettin’ was good. Alex Tanguay is another one. He may get a solid contract, or it may just be a tryout agreement. Patrik Elias will either sign a real contract (and probably a somewhat lucrative one) with the Devils, or he’ll retire. Beyond that, I think we’re looking at PTO’s from here on out: Justin Fontaine, David Legwand, Shawn Horcoff, Cody Hodgson, Tomas Fleischmann, Jiri Tlusty and Brad Boyes to name a few.
You’ve probably heard this by now, but Phil Kessel is in danger of missing the start of the regular season. He’s played in 528 consecutive games but his recovery from hand surgery is going slowly. The team ‘thinks’ he’ll be ready to go for Game 1, but it’s by no means a guarantee. I’ll keep his Fantasy Guide projection as is for now, but it’s a situation worth watching.
Jim Rutherford also updated Trevor Daley’s status, though he didn’t say anything we didn’t already guess – that Daley (broken ankle) should be ready for training camp.
Do you remember the minor uproar last month when Oscar Klefbom told a Swedish hockey writer that Taylor Hall never played his best games against the tough teams? (Later he clarified that he meant all Oilers – including himself – did not play well against the tough teams). Well, the Edmonton Journal (specifically Bruce McCurdy) dug a little deeper into it. Turns out “that in 45 games against playoff-bound teams last season Hall had 34 points, 0.76 points per game. In 37 games against non-playoff teams, he had 30 points, 0.81 points per game”.
And David Staples found the same: “Hall contributed to fewer scoring chances and made more mistakes on scoring chances against when he faced play-off bound teams last year, but his drop-off wasn’t as big as the drop-off I found with Connor McDavid and with Klefbom himself. Hall went from +3.4 scoring chances per game against non-playoff teams to +2.7 against playoff teams. But McDavid dropped more, +3.3 per game against bad teams to +2.1 per game against good teams. Klefbom was +0.6 scoring chances against bad teams, but fell to -0.7 against good teams.”
That article goes on to say some glowing things about Adam Larsson. Of course it does – it’s an Edmonton paper. But I don’t think it bends the rules of ‘bias’ any, I think what is said is quite fair and interesting. Worth the read. Hey, what else are you gonna read? It’s still August!
Carolina extended the contract of GM Ron Francis by two seasons. He’s now there until the end of the 2018-19 campaign. He has been GM of the team for two years now and so far has the team in the early stages of a rebuild. The Canes are a team at some risk of moving – though ‘risk’ is a relative term. I just believe that if an NHL team were to move, Carolina is tops on my list. The team I would bet on. So obviously a tough time to tear things down and rebuild. Under Francis the team has drafted Noah Hanifin, Sebastian Aho, Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier. They also acquired Teuvo Teravainen, Eddie Lack, prospect Valentin Zykov and a couple of extra 2017 draft picks. I think it’s been a decent rebuild so far, but I think other teams have been undergoing rebuilds that impress me more.
I’m kind of a closet rebuild fan. They fascinate me. I love watching a team rebuild and I try to guess at their next moves and how long things will take after each move, as well reasoning behind the moves. I always pull for success. I don’t remember ever seeing a team go through a rebuild that had me thinking: “man, I hope they really blow it”.
Here Ben Bishop picks the top players in certain categories (among World Cup participants): Hardest Shot is Alex Ovechkin, Accurate Shot is Steven Stamkos (honorable mention to Vladimir Tarasenko), Shootout Specialist is TJ Oshie (honorable mentions to Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby), Best Setup Man is Nicklas Backstrom (honorable mentions to the Sedin twins), Speediest Forward – most players on Team North America. Bishop sees a ton of speed in the likes of Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin.
And that’s why I plopped a hundred bucks down on Team North America. Well, that and the 14-1 payout.
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