1. Congrats to the Highlanders for their 4th Predator Cup victory! Well deserved.
2. The Gryba hit on Eller raises some interesting points; it was a clean hit (didn't leave his feet, didn't target the head, didn't throw the elbow), but Eller was destroyed by it, in part because his face bounced on the ice ala Kevin Stevens. Gryba (incorrectly as the puck had hit Eller's stick) received an interference penalty and was ejected (I suspect to prevent their from being a riot). So here's the thing, as the rules go, this was a clean hit, but I think everyone can agree that hits like this are not good for the game (or for Lars Eller). Is it time for a 'vulnerable player' rule? What happens the first time a guy like Alexei Kovalev deliberately puts himself into danger? Does the league need to take some of the hitting out of the game?
3. Martin St Louis winning the scoring title is just freakish. At an age where players tend to start thinking about what golf course they want to retire next to, St Louis just keeps rolling along.
4. Taylor Hall is officially FP caliber.
5. If you were replacing an FP next year, who would you take, Patrick Kane or Hall?
6. Colorado winning the lottery guarantees that Seth Jones will be an Avalanche. As long he exceeds the performance of another first overall defender on the team (Erik Johnson) he'll be just fine.
7. Florida is littered with pivots in various stages of development; Huberdeau, Bjugstad, Shore, Grimaldi, and Howden. They'll take Drouin, or if they take MacKinnon convert him to the wing.
8. Tampa Bay, barring a meltdown in Yzerman's cranium, will take MacKinnon to be the future 2nd line center behind Stamkos.
9. The Lightning will also have to look long and hard at buying out Lecavalier. His price tag of $10mil for the next three years (at a cap hit of $7.7M) is now far in excess of what his worth as a player is. The Lightning can't fully rebuild until big Vinny is cut loose.
10. I have to believe the Predators are drooling at the thought of landing Sasha Barkov with pick #4. Hope you like Predator prospects Doug!
11. Carolina is the wild card for the draft's top 5 teams. They have a screaming need for a defenseman, and could well take 6'5" Darnell Nurse, but it is also likely that the best player left on their draft board will be Valeri Nichushkin. The big Russian comes with some substantial risk, and Carolina might not be prepared to wait out his KHL contract (2 years). I bet the Hurricanes take the surer thing, or trade down.
12. Calgary and Edmonton fan boards (Flames Nation and Lowetide) have almost identical desires;
- Trade to get the #4 pick to select Barkov.
- Trade for an extra pick in the top 10
- Failing either of those options, pray to God that Barkov falls because of his shoulder surgery
- Once Barkov is off the board, take the remaining best pivot; Nichushkin/Lindholm/Monahan
13. Of the players in this draft, I really like; Barkov, Nichuskin and Lindholm - in that order. Doug and I have talked and we both think Nichushkin is the 'win the game card' that might drop to the Flames or Oilers. He also might be a bigger version of Nik Zherdev.
14. Personally, I think if Nichushkin is available at #6 Feaster will take him. Feaster has a record of preferring high-ceiling over sure-things, and Nichushkin's package of size (6'4" 195lbs), skill and offensive ability, will be impossible for him to ignore.
15. As far as FA available this off-season, the Flames should target Nathan Horton and Valterri Filppula. They would address both scoring and depth issues, and in Filppula the Flames would have a pivot who could win more than 50% of his face-offs and slide easily down the depth chart if/when the kids are ready to displace him.
16. Any draft list you see that has the Flames taking a goalie in the first round (with any of their 3 picks) is lying to you. One thing I believe Weisbrod and Feaster have instilled in their scouts is that the first round is for high-skill forwards, that defenders are for late in the 1st, and that goalies shouldn't be taken till after the 2nd. Also, the Flames have two very good prospects (Laurent Brossoit of the Oil Kings, and John Gillies in the NCAA), plus a trio of older Euro-tenders (Joni Ortio, Reto Berra, and Kari Ramo) already in the system. Goaltending is just not the team's highest priority.
17. If I'm the Vancouver GM I'd seriously look at moving Corey Schneider instead of Luongo. Schneider's return value would be substantially greater than Bobby Lou, and Bobby Lou is more than good enough to win you the cup.
18. I'm VERY curious to see how the cap contraction hammers those teams that are traditionally high spending. There may be some very interesting value trades available for teams willing to take on salary (i.e. Hey Yzerman, we'll take Lecavalier off your hands and your #4 overall pick, and we'll send you a 2nd rnd pick from next year for the privilege...deal?)
19. I'm on record that the Regehr trade to LA has killed their playoff chances. Without him they were awesome, but since he's arrived and taken a regular shift their possession numbers (and Regehr's in particular) have dropped. He's no longer a dominant physical or defensive presence - and all he cost them was two 2nd rnd picks!
20. I believe that Philly's first buyout will be Danny Briere, not Bryzgalov.
21. Aside from the five kids (Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, The Nuge, and J.Schultz), their team is a total goddamn mess. One amusing thing you can count on from Edmonton fan message boards is the proposed trade of Sam Gagner + something = #1 defenseman! It's getting kinda sad frankly.
22. Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart and Connor McDavid. In our next prospect draft these three guys will be the most likely underagers taken. Note: You have to burn 3 years to wait for McDavid, which means he just might not be the 1st overall in our draft.
23. Any time an announcer calls out Craig Anderson's name for a big save it should be done in the drawling voice of Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith; "Misssssterrr Anderrrrrssson". I'd watch a ton more Sens games if they do that.
24. Every other rumour I read has the Flames or Oilers sending a package to Philly for Couturier. Sorry, but I just don't see it happening. Big, strong two-way pivots are at a premium, and when they are in their early 20's on an entry level deal they are more valuable than gold. Philly isn't going to let him go.
25. One team that could be crunched hard by the cap contraction is Washington. I think that you could shake loose something quite good from them if you played your cards right (like, say, Mike Green).
26. PJ Stock and Glenn Healy are brutal. Stock because he insists everything in the game is an emotional reaction that is of the highest importance (i.e. Subban's antics are destroying the team chemisty - after Subban had 2 assists in a period), and Healy because his advice to Montreal 'you have to hit Erik Karlsson', was so lame I almost threw something at the tv - really Glenn? You think they should try to hit Karlsson? Has it crossed your mind yet that you have to catch him first? Just brutal. Thank god Elliotte Friedman is on the CBC panel.
27. A guy who may pop loose from San Jose in the off-season is Joe Thornton. He's on the downside, has a big ticket contract, and SJ can easily move Couture and Pavelski up the batting order to replace him.
28. Toronto is a team whose underlying possession stats are TERRIBLE. Expect a sweep.
29. On that note, Nazem Kadri's shooting % in the regular season is just not sustainable. I predict he is taken WAY too high in next year's draft.
30. If the Flames can get a pair of big scoring wingers like Anthony Mantha, Kerby Rychel and Adam Erne with their late 1st rnd picks (to go with Nichushkin) I will be ecstatic!