PHT Morning Skate: Who is the most underrated player in the NHL?

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–How close is your team to winning a Stanley Cup? Well, no one knows for sure, but The Hockey News’ roundtable debated which teams were the furthest from winning it all. The Canucks, Kings, Red Wings and Devils all made the list. Surprisingly, the Coyotes and Avs were left off.  (The Hockey News)

–Saying that Daniel Winnik isn’t a fan of the NHL’s current playoff format would be a bit of an understatement. On Monday, the Caps forward described it as “the stupidest thing ever”. There are probably a few things dumber than the playoff format, but I see his point. (The Score)

–Ottawa Senators strength and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz believes that kids specializing in one sport at an early age has become an “epidemic”. A lot of the best young hockey players struggle with basic athleticism because they’re limiting themselves to a single sport. “I get kids here, and they missed this stage, because they’re not catching, running, throwing. They don’t process it. They can’t be creative. … you flick a puck over their heads, they can’t react, because they never caught a football that way.” (Ottawa Citizen)

–The Buffalo Sabres got a pair of power play goals from Jack Eichel and Matt Moulson in last night’s 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. You can watch the highlights of that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Players who are suspended for the first time usually get lighter punishment because they’ve never been in that situation before. But The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell argues that they should be hit harder. You might not find that logical, but Campbell is looking at it from an intriguing perspective. Campbell writes:  “Nothing is going to change unless young players learn early in their careers that reckless use of the stick and the body are not going to be tolerated. So instead of only suspending serial miscreants such as Raffi Torres 41 games at the end of their careers, why not throw the book at the Matthew Tkachuks of the world for say, 10 to 15 games?” (The Hockey News)

–The ESPN hockey crew offered up their selections for the most underrated player of the 2016-17 season. Penguins defenseman Justin Schutlz got some love, but so did Montreal’s Paul Byron, Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson and Boston’s Tuukka Rask. (ESPN)

–NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs took a walk with Frank Mahovlich in Ottawa. They discussed the highlights of his career, including the time he and the Toronto Maple Leafs upset the Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup in 1967. “Fifty years since Toronto’s last win, the year of Expo 67. The Canadiens were determined they were going to win but we snuck in there, didn’t we? No, my Montreal friends and I prefer to talk about the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup victories in 1971 and 1973. Those were great years too.” (NHL.com)