Ramblings: Reflecting on the Isles; More on Caggiula (May 9)

by Dobber on May 9, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Reflecting on the Isles; More on Caggiula (May 9)

Ramblings: Isles post-mortem; more thoughts on Caggiula; Khokh is gone; Boudreau should relax; and more…

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In case you don’t follow me on Twitter or missed this Thursday, or you don’t subscribe to our newsletter, this year’s products are now available for presale in the shop. The first product – the Fantasy Prospects Report – will be available for download on June 1. That’s 23 days away!

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Spoiler Alert: The Islanders are out.

Very unexpected, at least for me. After seeing a first round in which John Tavares refused to let his team lose, this round was a big disappointment. And I say this even though a Tampa Bay win pretty much ensures that I’ll defend my playoff trophy in my one (27-year) keeper league. I was just certain that the Isles would push through. But TB shut Tavares down. Pointless in his last four games after posting 10 points in seven games.

He reminded me of Steve Yzerman in that first round (ironically, now the GM of Tampa Bay), and now I can’t help but think of what Yzerman went through to win a Cup. At the age of 30 and 31, Yzerman took a lot of flack. “Not a leader”, or “unable to push his team over the top”. He had taken the Wings to the Final, but lost to New Jersey in four straight. Then he took the Wings to the Semi-Final, but lost to the Avs. Each time, he learned. The first seven years of his career were spent just trying to take the ‘loser’ Red Wings safely and consistently out of the basement and into the playoffs. Then it was a struggle to get out of the second round. With each passing year he seemed to get more willpower. It took him until the age of 32 before he won his first Stanley Cup and now what is his legacy? Does anyone even remember that his leadership was once questioned? Hell no.

So Tavares learned a little more this year, and he took his team a little further. Next year I think he’ll push even harder. He’ll be that much more difficult to contain.

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So what can the Islanders blame? Injuries? Well…no. Sure, Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski and Anders Lee would have helped. But, uh…so would Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman and JT Brown!

Newsday describes Halak’s groin injury as “severe”. He still has two years on his contract at $4.5 million. Assuming he gets healthy with a full summer off, he has to be their No.1 goalie next season. That’s too much to stick on the bench, though we’ve seen that sort of thing before (ahem – Howard). But do you think Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, will sit quietly while his client is stuck as a backup? Hell no.

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The Islanders in the playoffs (in no particular order)…

Most Impressive: John Tavares, Alan Quine, Shane Prince, Ryan Pulock

Least Impressive: Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Johnny Boychuk

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All four of Nikita Kucherov’s goals in this series were scored in the third period. Nothing more I can say about this guy that I haven’t already said.

Don’t look now but Jonathan Drouin has nine points in 10 playoff games.

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The Islanders have three unrestricted free agents coming up – Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. I have a feeling that Nielsen re-signs with them, but they lose the other two. Just a gut feeling, nothing more to base it on.

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I got into a bit of a Twitter conversation about Drake Caggiula, in that they disagreed with Ian Gooding that he was a bad fit with Edmonton. After first explaining that I didn’t write those Ramblings (they just appeared on my Twitterfeed), I nonetheless agreed with Gooding. In fact, when I saw the news as to where he signed, my first thought was – horrible. My second thought was that he’d be a great fit for Philadelphia. My third thought was Vancouver, which is what Gooding was thinking.

Players and their agents need to think about their best odds of becoming an NHLer. Players, because that’s ultimately the goal (and don’t assume it will come to pass – just ask Greg Carey or Matt Carey or Casey Wellman or Stephane Da Costa). Agents, because they want to line their pockets with cash and the best way to do that is to see to it that their client gets an NHL salary. You need to identify the teams that have a need for your skill set, either immediately or within two or three seasons depending on the player’s age. Because once he’s 26, he’s not getting a second look in training camp.

Do the Oilers have a need for a small (5-9, 170), skilled player who could thrive in the top six but struggle in the bottom six? Uh, hasn’t that been their problem for two or three years now – too many players of that particular stock? Even if the Oilers get rid of Nail Yakupov this summer and they draft a defenseman or a checking-line forward, they still have the top six locked up. No room for Caggiula, even if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was moved too. Even if Caggiula was moved to the wing. But let’s assume that the amount of top draft picks the Oilers trade this summer is equal to the number of top draft picks they’ve traded in the last five summers – zero. They may not trade to clear space at all and in fact that’s even likely given their track record! Granted, Caggiula could force the issue by playing some lights-out hockey in training camp. But why put it to such chance?

Dumbest reason I’ve seen so far: “because he gets a shot at playing with Connor McDavid.” It might be accurate, but that doesn’t make it any less done. Again – you have to look out for numero uno.

Anyway, Caggiula had several teams that he could have signed with and had increased odds of making the squad. Philly, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Carolina. Could you imagine the Penguins doing with Caggiula what the Blackhawks did with Panarin?

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Montreal prospect Artturi Lehkonen signed an ELC with the Habs and will cross the pond to play in Hamilton next season. The Finn, who is profiled in the upcoming Fantasy Prospects Report, has scoring-line upside and ranks 79th on my Prospects List.

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Well, it’s official. Alex Khokhlachev has signed to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL next season. And that closes the book on his NHL dream. I doubt we see him back here to take another crack at it, but stranger things have happened.

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Again I’ll say this – big mistake for the Ducks to fire Bruce Boudreau and good on the Wild for hiring him. But I’m curious as to why he rushed the decision? He didn’t even take a moment to sit on his deck and enjoy a cold one. It seemed like he just hopped on a plane and flew across the continent every three or four days until he decided on a job. He had a job waiting for him. Several teams wanted him. So why not take a two-week vacation and make a decision in June or July? He’d probably drive his salary up by delaying, too. So why did he rush it? In fact, he didn't even need to interview. He could have just had his agent tell teams "if you want him, make an offer, starting with a blank check". Then when he returns from his tropical island he could have picked which team he wants to coach and filled in whatever number he wanted on the contract. Some people just don't know how to stop working…

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Wanna see a sample of what Drake Caggiula does?