As the Comcast Sportsnet announcers pointed out, Jody Shelley went 62 games without a goal but now has a goal in two consecutive games. Oh, and those goals are coming in absolutely the most important contests the Rangers have played in the 2009-10 season. He has three points in his last five games, accounting for half of his six season points.
Aside from setting up an alternate reality in NHL 18, there aren’t many happy places to look if you’re a fan of the Ottawa Senators.
Take, for instance, their Cap Friendly page.
For a team often hamstrung by budget, they’re still spending a lot of money this season, and they currently lack their top two draft picks.* They have tough hurdles coming up with Erik Karlsson‘s deal expiring after 2018-19, Mark Stone hovering as a pending RFA, and Craig Anderson‘s new contract looking scarier by the day considering the fact that he’s already 36.
Looking at the standings and Matt Duchene‘s 14 games with the Senators vs. 14 with the Avalanche will make some fans weep a bit.
Checking out news coverage will only make you dig a deeper hole as a Sens fan. At the Athletic, James Gordon discusses an on-and-off-the-ice disaster, while former NHL executive Frank Provenzano laid out the case for trading Karlsson.
The source of true heart palpitations should come from increased rumblings of a big trade happening, especially if you glance at the early/mid-term returns in trading for Duchene, Dion Phaneuf, and Derick Brassard. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch mostly downplays the idea of trading Erik Karlsson, but Garrioch reports that the Sens might be fielding offers on the likes of Mike Hoffman, Brassard, Bobby Ryan, J-G Pageau, and Cody Ceci.
Not every bad/mixed Senators trade is on the head of GM Pierre Dorion. After all, he inherited the Phaneuf and Ryan contracts.
Still, he’s had his missteps, especially if Duchene’s struggles end up being more than a mere hiccup. So this paragraph from Garrioch should send chills up the spines of Senators fans while prompting other teams’ GMs to lick their chops like sharks smelling blood:
If Dorion is going to make a trade, though, it doesn’t make sense to do a small deal. If the point is to send a message to a struggling dressing room, then it’s got to have to a trade that strikes at the core of the team.
Let’s assume that Karlsson won’t be traded, even if Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was steamed about his free agent comments, which might explain why the superstar defenseman almost seemed to do damage control in this interview with Sportsnet.
Senators fans would probably delight with the idea of Dorion getting someone to take Ryan’s bloated contract off their hands, and most would probably agree that Alex Burrows was a mistake worth parting with.
The scariest name is Mike Hoffman, at least assuming that Mark Stone wouldn’t be in the mix.
The next Eberle?
To my eyes, the Senators could put themselves at risk of, essentially, a reversal of the pump-and-dump they suffered in taking Dion Phaneuf off the Leafs’ hands. There’s reason to wonder if Hoffman’s value is currently being hurt in Ottawa, opening the door for the Sens to get fleeced.
Hoffman, 28, really isn’t doing so bad with 21 points in 28 games, yet the 28-year-old is carrying a cap hit of a bit under $5.2 million per season through 2019-20. A clever rival GM could start to build the case that he’s worth parting ways with, what with Hoffman’s -9 rating (hey, it’s worth a shot) and that the Senators have struggled with him on the ice (his PDO this season is 96.5, so maybe management is getting frustrated with The Hoff).
If you look at Hoffman’s linemates for much of this season, you’ll essentially see a blending of the gross, like that opening scene from an episode of “Freaks and Geeks.”
In other words, Hoffman has the makings of another Jordan Eberle-type value, and that parallel might be useful in noting that he’s a good player who, like most, carries a flaw or two. In Hoffman’s case, some hockey people might be put off by his reputation for being something of a “perimeter shooter.”
There’s a significant recent history of teams becoming obsessed with the bad of a strong player – perceived flaws or real – and taking on poor value as a result. It’s basically the story of Peter Chiarelli’s worst mistakes in Edmonton, but there’s some evidence of questionable value judgments in Ottawa, too.
As tempting as it might be for the Senators to try to fix things and “send a message to the locker room,” bold moves have mostly blown up in this team’s face, so Ottawa’s probably better off going the potato route.
If I were an NHL GM, I’d probably call Dorion during breakfast, lunch, and dinner to try to make something happen. Considering recent history and the vulnerable position they’re in, the Senators might be wise just to turn off their phones and ignore all emails.
For the rest of us, it should be a fun, if bumpy, ride.
* – Conditions of the Duchene – Turris deal could cost Ottawa its 2019 first-rounder instead, but that might not be much of a consolation.
The Nashville Predators have not only built a powerhouse team in the Western Conference, they have done it in such a way under the salary cap that they not only have their core locked in for the foreseeable future, they still have enough salary cap space to add players like Kyle Turris and Nick Bonino on long-term deals.
Those additions have helped make an already strong team one of the absolute best in the NHL, and they only seem to be getting better.
They not only enter the week with one of the best records in the league, they are starting to look better than the team that was in the Stanley Cup Final just a few months ago.
Entering play on Monday the Predators 13-2-2 in their past 17 games.
Since acquiring Turris in that blockbuster three-team trade with the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators they are 10-2-2 while Turris himself has already recorded 13 points.
What is perhaps scariest about this team for the rest of the Western Conference is they have not really been fully healthy yet this season. Ryan Ellis, a key part of their defense, which is the backbone of their team, has yet to play this season. Bonino missed a significant chunk of the season and they are currently dealing with injuries to Johansen and Scott Hartnell. When totally healthy this team is going to be an abslute nightmare matchup for just about any team in the NHL with that defense and newfound center depth.
Their current run has them fourth in our power rankings.
Here is a look at where everybody else fits in.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning — They still have the NHL’s top two scorers, the NHL’s best goal differential, and the NHL’s best points percentage. Kind of hard to put anybody else on top of the league at this point, right?
2. St. Louis Blues — Losing Jaden Schwartz is just another injury added to the list this season for the Blues, but they keep finding ways to power through and keep winning. It helps that Brayden Schenn is on his way to a career year offensively.
3. Los Angeles Kings — They had a rough stretch where they lost seven out of eight games, but then they followed it up by winning eight in a row. They are once again at the top of the NHL’s goals against leaderboard and have started to find some offense. Anze Kopitar is making a very strong early season MVP case for himself. He is third in the league in scoring, playing a ton of minutes, and dominating in all three zones the way he did when he was the focal point of a two-time Stanley Cup winning team.
4. Nashville Predators — The roster is not only better than the one that went to the Stanley Cup Final, they also just simply look like a better team, too.
The Rest Of The Best
5. Vegas Golden Knights — They. Won’t. Stop. Winning. And now they are getting Marc-Andre Fleury back, the player that was supposed to be the cornerstone of their inaugural season. Quite a story that is developing here.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs — It’s not just that the Maple Leafs have a superstar like Auston Matthews at the top of their lineup that makes them so dangerous and exciting offensively. It is the fact their lineup is just incredibly deep overall. Every line is capable of scoring goals on any given shift.
8. Washington Capitals — With wins in eight of their past 10 games, while also averaging 3.6 goals per game during that stretch, they are climbing the standings and starting to look like the Capitals again.
9. New York Rangers — As I said two weeks ago, winning just one of their first eight games put them in a hole that will be tough to climb out of in the standings. They are doing their best to make sure they do, in fact, climb out of it. They are 13-4-0 in their past 17 games.
10. Winnipeg Jets — They have cooled off a bit recently, but let’s not panic just yet. That offense is still great.
Stuck In The Middle
11. New Jersey Devils — A little bit of a fall from where they were two weeks ago, but the young talent on this team is still worth watching and giving Devils fans a lot of reason to believe, both for this season and the future.
12. Boston Bruins — With wins in eight of their past 10 games the Bruins are really starting to put it together. David Pastrnak is becoming a star and looking to improve on his 34-goal, 70-point performance from a season ago.
13. New York Islanders — After scoring 34 goals a season ago Anders Lee is doing everything he can to show it was no fluke. With 17 goals in his first 34 games entering the week he is now on pace for 41 goals this season.
14. San Jose Sharks — If you like goals, their games are not the games to watch. The enter the week 26th in the league in goals scored and second in the league in goals against.
15. Calgary Flames — Johnny Gaudreau‘s brilliance has kind of overshadowed the fact that Sean Monahan is having a career year offensively (he has five more goals than Gaudreau) and is also starting to post dominant possession numbers.
The Mystery Teams: Are They Good Or Not?
16. Minnesota Wild — Are they good or not is a question that we seem to be able to ask about the Minnesota Wild every season.
18. Dallas Stars — After what was a mostly up-and-down 2016-17 season John Klingberg looks like he has back to being one of the NHL’s most dynamic and dominant defensemen.
19. Pittsburgh Penguins — On any given night they can look like the team that has won back-to-back Stanley Cups. They can also look like a team that has no idea what it is doing.
20. Vancouver Canucks — Whether the Canucks maintain their early season success and actually make the playoffs is secondary to the fact the two best players on this team are under the age of 23 and look to be like legitimate building blocks.
21. Montreal Canadiens — The ultimate “are they good or not?” team this season. One night they are winning 10-1. Another night they are getting routed by the Oilers. Who knows what team is showing up when the puck drops.
22. Carolina Hurricanes — They are once again breaking hockey math.
23. Philadelphia Flyers — They snapped their 10-game losing streak by rolling through Western Canada, beating the Flames, Oilers and Canucks by a combined score of 13-5. Jakub Voracek is very quietly putting together a dominant season offensively, at least as far as his playmaking is concerned.
24. Anaheim Ducks — Adam Henrique has been pretty outstanding since coming over in the big trade with the New Jersey Devils. Given their injury situation down the middle it has been a much-needed addition.
25. Florida Panthers –– Losing Roberto Luongo could be a devastating blow to a team that really can not afford one. He has been spectacular when in the lineup while his backups have been … well … anything but spectacular.
26. Colorado Avalanche — They overachieved for a while at the start of the year but with losses in 10 of their past 15 games they are starting to become the Avalanche again.
27. Edmonton Oilers — The deeper we get into the season the more likely it seems they are going to miss the playoffs and waste one of Connor McDavid‘s prime years. That remains astonishing.
28. Detroit Red Wings — In the past week they’ve lost games by scores of 10-1 and 6-1. They’ve also lost seven out of eight overall and are quickly falling down the standings. There just is not a lot to be excited about here.
30. Arizona Coyotes — The travel schedule has not been kind to them. The good news? Ten of their next 12 games are at home. The bad news? Three of those first four games are against the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
31. Buffalo Sabres — The Sabres had a stretch where they were shutout three games in a row and were about 10 minutes away from a fourth. Since November 1 they have played 18 games. They have scored more than one goal in only nine of them.
Every week, PHT will aim to help its readers by providing some fantasy hockey advice. This column will try to help you navigate through the rough waters of your league’s waiver wire.
We’ll tell you which players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues need to be added and we’ll also look at players it’s time to cut ties with.
Here we go:
• Jared Spurgeon-D- Minnesota Wild (owned in 44 percent of leagues)
The Wild blue liner has been out with a groin injury for the last couple of weeks, but head coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned that he’s already started skating. Despite missing the last six games, he’s still on pace to hit the 50-point mark this season. Even if he misses another game or two, he’s certainly worth adding off the waiver wire. Pick him up before someone else does.
• Tom Wilson-LW/RW- Washington Capitals (44 percent)
Wilson has been putting up points lately, as he has seven points during a three-game point streak. I don’t expect that type of offensive output to continue, but he’s certainly worth adding if you play in a league that awards points for penalty minutes.
• Reilly Smith-LW/RW- Vegas Golden Knights (35 percent)
Somehow, the Golden Knights and their players continue to get the job done. Smith was an afterthought when Vegas acquired him from the Panthers, but he’s been terrific so far. He has 22 points in 29 games this season, which puts him on pace to surpass the 60-point mark. Smith doesn’t have a high ceiling, but his floor appears to be pretty stable.
• Tyler Johnson-C- Tampa Bay Lightning (32 percent)
While Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were getting off to ridiculous starts, Johnson came out of the gate pretty slowly. On the bright side, he seems to have woken up. Johnson is currently riding a four-game point streak and he’s picked up points in six of his last seven games. Can he keep it up though?
• Tomas Hertl-C/LW- San Jose Sharks (27 percent)
For the first time this season, Hertl has collected at least one point in three straight games. It’s probably still a little early to trust him with an add, but I just wanted to make sure he popped up on your fantasy radar. He’s currently on pace to hit the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his career. Hertl is also seeing plenty of ice time, so this could be the start of a good scoring run for him.
• Kyle Connor-LW- Winnipeg Jets (17 percent)
I’ve mentioned Connor’s name in this column a couple of times, but he continues to be under-valued in fantasy. The 21-year-old is on pace to score over 30 goals and almost 60 points this season. He appears to be over the lower-body injury that cost him a game last week, so there’s no reason not to pick him up.
• Cam Atkinson-RW- Columbus Blue Jackets (62 percent)
After he scored 35 goals last year, nobody could have predicted the meteoric slide that Atkinson has been on this season. The Jackets still rewarded him with a contract extension a few weeks ago, but that hasn’t woken him up from his slumber. Finally, on Saturday night, head coach John Tortorella decided to make him a healthy scratch. Atkinson has no points in his last six games and just two goals (in the same game) in his last 15.
• Brendan Gallagher-RW- Montreal Canadiens (59 percent)
Gallagher has had a terrific season for the Canadiens, but there’s no way he’s going to be able to hit the 35-goal pace he’s currently on. The Habs winger hasn’t picked up a point in three games and he’s carried a minus-5 rating during that stretch. Gallagher is the heart-and-soul of the Canadiens, but that doesn’t translate into fantasy points.
• Malcolm Subban-G- Vegas Golden Knights (46 percent)
Now that Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) has been activated off the injured list, Subban won’t see as much action. In fairness to Subban, he’s been really good when called upon this season, but he simply doesn’t need to be owned in any fantasy leagues unless Fleury is injured again.
• Certain NHLers prefer not wearing a helmet during pre-game warmups so they can show off their hair. (Sports Illustrated)
• The Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the top penalty-killing units in the NHL. It’s so good, it’s even won them games. (Columbus Dispatch)
• The Montreal Canadiens have a couple of days off after their ugly loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. They have plenty to figure out before they take on the Devils on Thursday. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)
• With whiffs of expansion in the air, hockey fans and bar owners are excited to find out whether or not Seattle can become a hockey town. (National Post)
• Even though they’re one of the teams that’s scored the least amount of goals this season, Fear the Fin doesn’t believe that the Sharks need to make a trade for a scoring forward. (Fear the Fin)
• Team USA will look to repeat as World Junior Hockey Championship champions. Here’s a full preview of what the roster might look like. (The Hockey Writers)