It’s Monday, which means it’s time for the PHT Face-Off. We’ll look at some of the big topics and storylines around the NHL for the upcoming week.
• Don’t sleep on Blake Coleman:
Since the trade went down between New Jersey and Tampa last night, most of the focus has been on the return the Devils were able to get for Coleman. Obviously, they did very well in this deal. Getting prospect Nolan Foote (former first-rounder) and Vancouver’s conditional first-round pick is a nice haul.
But not enough focus was placed on what the Lightning were able to get their hands on. If you’re a casual hockey fan, you might not realize just how good Coleman’s been this year. He’s definitely a late bloomer, but he had 22 goals last season and he’s already up to 21 in just 57 games this year.
The biggest reason Tampa had to give up what they gave up for him was because of his cap hit. Yes, Coleman’s productive, but he has one year remaining on his contract at $1.8 million. The Lightning are strapped for cap space going forward, so getting someone as versatile as Coleman at that price is a bug deal for them.
Don’t be surprised if better plays fetch less of a return simply because they make more money. Most of the good teams don’t have money to blow.
Blake Coleman. That’s a hell of a player who if he gets to play regularly with Stamkos or Point, should score 30+ in a season. Enjoyed my chats with him immensely. He’s on NHL’s most cap friendly contract now. Hope he strikes it rich soon (No personal income tax state too)!
— Steve Cangialosi (@CangyManMSG) February 17, 2020
• Shea Weber can’t catch a break:
The last three years have been rough for the Canadiens captain. He’s missed a significant amount of time with foot and knee injuries during that time and he got some more bad news last week. Weber suffered a sprained ankle that will keep him out for anywhere between four and six weeks.
Last week, there was some speculation that the injury was much more serious than the Canadiens were leading on. Nick Kypreos suggested that it might be career-ending. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen, but it’s tough to ignore Weber’s injury history now.
He played just 26 games in 2017-18, 58 games last season and if he doesn’t play again this year, he will have played in 55 contests.
The big problem is that he’s one of the two cornerstones of Montreal’s roster. He and Carey Price are the most important leaders in the locker room. And the Canadiens don’t have anyone on the roster or in the system that can come close to matching what Weber brings.
What if Kypreos is right? Does that change the way general manager Marc Bergevin has to look at all of this? Bergevin seems to believe that this team can be competitive next year, but that won’t be possible without Weber.
This situation could force him to go with a full rebuild.
• Jordan Binnington hitting a rut
Binnington was one of the main reasons the St. Louis Blues hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2019, but things have been a little rockier for him lately. That’s not totally unexpected. Once the sample size got bigger, it was only normal that he was going to struggle at some point.
He’s won just one of his last six games and he had given up three goals or more in eight consecutive games before holding the Predators to two goals on Sunday.
If you’re a Blues fan, there’s nothing to worry about yet. He’s proven to be an effective goaltender this season, too. Will the Blues lean on Jake Allen a little bit more in the immediate future? Maybe. But they’ll clearly sink or swim with Binnington at this point. When the games matter, he’ll be the one between the pipes.
They need to make sure he finds his game as quickly as possible because they are far from locked in to that top spot in the Central Division. The Blues are first with 74 points, but Dallas (72 points) and Colorado (72 points with two games in hand).
We’ll find out if the Blues can win the division soon enough.
• Bill Guerin tearing it down
The Wild general manager made it clear that his team is open for business. They’ve traded Jason Zucker away to Pittsburgh and fired head coach Bruce Boudreau already. It seems likely that there’s more to come in the next few days/weeks.
Beat writer Michael Russo reported last week that there were multiple teams interested in defensemen Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Both have term left on their deal (Dumba has three years while Brodin has one year remaining). Those guys both make more than Coleman, but they’re both quality players. The return for each guy won’t be cheap.
The big question is whether or not Guerin can pull off more major moves before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Making hockey deals isn’t easy. A lot of times these things get done at the draft or over the course of the summer.
It seems clear that no matter what happens, the Wild are beginning a painful rebuild. This is a roster filled with older players and they need to go younger. Guerin knows that.
It’ll be interesting to see just how much he can get accomplished over the course of the week.
Meanwhile, the decision to fire Boudreau wasn’t unanimous:
If you’re looking for any overarching flaw…well, this is a song that has been sung before.
The only theory that seems to hold water is that Bill Guerin wanted to have “his guy” behind the bench and the GM is serious about making changes he wants to make. Also… #MNWild pic.twitter.com/YxYPtM85EY
— HockeyViz (@HockeyViz) February 17, 2020
What’s coming up this week
• Bolts will try to match franchise record 11-game win streak: Mon. Feb. 17, 9 p.m. ET
• Sens will retire Chris Phillips’ no. 4: Tue. Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m. ET
• Semyon Varlamov going back to Colorado: Wed. Feb. 19, 10 p.m. ET
NHL on NBCSN
• Capitals vs. Golden Knights, Mon. Feb. 17, 6 p.m. ET
• Maple Leafs vs. Penguins, Tue. Feb. 18, 7 p.m. ET
• Blues vs. Wild, Sun. Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday Night Hockey
• Rangers vs. Blackhawks, Wed. Feb. 19, 8 p.m. ET
NHL on NBC
• Penguins vs. Capitals, Sun. Feb. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET