In the Boston Bruins elimination post, I noted the team’s goaltending conundrum coming into the summer: Tuukka Rask is a restricted free agent while Tim Thomas is scheduled to enter the last year of his contract. ESPN Boston’s Jimmy Murphy has a bold prediction about how the Bruins will react to that scenario.
“My prediction now: Tim Thomas traded in off-season,” – Murphy’s Tweet.
When reading such a Tweet, I think of two things a) my advice to the Bruins to avoid trading Thomas before the 2010-11 season and b) the surprisingly similar scenario between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider in Vancouver.
The former point shows that the question has been floating around pretty much since Rask started to really make Toronto Maple Leafs fans grimace about him being traded. The latter holds some weight for a few reasons.
Rask = Schneider?
For one, both Schneider and Rask need new deals, which means that both the Bruins and Canucks probably know that they can’t afford to keep their “goalies of the future” under their expensive franchise guys much longer. It’s interesting to note the parallels between the two scenarios as Rask and Schneider allowed their respective clubs to rest expensive starters before the 2011 playoffs, yet now both teams are out after the first round.
Potential diminishing returns
While Canucks fans have essentially turned on Luongo (and his long contract), trading Thomas would have a lot to do with his age (he just turned 38 on April 15) and the fact that his contract is almost up. One might lazily equate Thomas’ potential departure to Peyton Manning giving way to Andrew Luck; if the Bruins decide to go with youth over a bigger resume, then Rask would win out.
Of course, Thomas hasn’t undergone scary neck surgeries and was still quite good this season, so making this move might even be bolder than the Indianapolis Colts parting ways with a legend.
So let’s roll out the questions: how likely would it really be to see Boston move a guy who won them the 2011 Stanley Cup? Would they be wise to go younger in net while also getting something for Thomas? Perhaps they should consider swapping him at the trade deadline, instead? Fire away in the comments.
The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.
The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.
“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”
McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.
But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.
That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.
“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.
Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight
Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.
Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”
The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.
Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.
But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.
“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.
“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”