Murray was beside himself in drafting Jack Eichel while trading for Robin Lehner, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane.*
When you combine those acquisitions with possible developmental gains for the likes of Sam Reinhart, the Sabres’ outlook gets awfully interesting. Of course, it’s also valid to note that this team has a lot of room for improvement. The Sabres weren’t even close to competitive in 2014-15, after all.
That actually leads us to Buffalo’s poll question: how long will it take for the Sabres to return to the postseason?
If you need a push either way, consider some of the posts from PHT’s Buffalo Sabres Day extravaganza.
The Carolina Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, yet they have the bloated core contracts of a perennial contender.
The combined salary cap hits of Eric Staal ($8.25 million), Alexander Semin ($7 million), Cam Ward ($6.3 million), Jordan Staal ($6 million), Jeff Skinner ($5.725 million) and Justin Faulk ($4.83 million) make up a whopping $38.1 million in cap payroll for six players. Again, it would be easier to swallow that bitter pill if the Hurricanes were getting what they’re paying for, yet a good chunk of that money seems ill-placed … at least at the moment.
Carolina’s new management team seems comfortable with sticking with the status quo for now … but should they?
For the sake of fun, let’s ponder this question: who should the Hurricanes get rid of? In the interest of brevity, let’s eliminate Ward (who’d probably be a unanimous choice and carries negligible trade value) and Faulk (too early to really judge his contract compared to other options) from the equation and focus on the forwards.
Feel free to add nuance in the comments, but here’s an abbreviated case for/against moving each guy before you get voting:
Eric Staal – For: He’s really expensive and not quite worth the money. He’s failed to come through for “his team” for long enough that it might be time to part ways, much like Rick Nash with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Against: His trade value is at or around its all-time low.
Jordan Staal – For: The two-way center doesn’t score like most $6 million players are expected to. Against: He tilts the ice in Carolina’s favor quite a bit and might not grab value because of those aforementioned modest point totals.
Semin – For: Even his strongest proponents will admit that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. There are certainly a lot of people who seem to sour on the guy. Against: He still owns one of the deadliest shots in the game and the advanced stats tend to smile upon him, which would likely surprise his biggest detractors.
Skinner – For: He’s had some concussion issues and seems to leave a lot to be desired defensively. Against: His blazing offensive skills could leave the Hurricanes with post-trade regret (see: Seguin, Tyler).
Blow it up – Let’s consider this the “hit rebuild” option, in case you think Carolina should remove three or more prominent players (counting Ward and Faulk, if you feel that’s appropriate).
Stay put – If you agree with new GM Ron Francis that a major makeover isn’t necessary.
OK, that’s the quick version for and against each option, so have at it and feel free to discuss things further in the comments:
After two rounds of upset-filled playoff hockey, the East’s Stanley Cup finals representative will come from the Atlantic Division while the West’s answer will be a Pacific Division squad. On paper, the East’s No. 1 seed New York Rangers seem like they’d be the favorite, yet their opponents (No. 6 New Jersey Devils) and the West reps (No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes and No. 8 Los Angeles Kings) seem like their on top of their respective games.
So who takes the cake, then? Here’s a more visual look at the “final four” before you vote:
No. 1 New York Rangers vs. No. 6 New Jersey Devils
No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Kings
Poll: Which of the final eight teams will win the 2012 Stanley Cup?
We’re down to the Conference semifinal stage — or the Elite 8, to steal some college basketball parlance — of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The story of the opening round was upsets, upsets and more upsets:
— Top overall seed Vancouver, the Presidents’ Trophy winner, lost to No. 8 Los Angeles.
— Boston, the defending Stanley Cup champion, lost to Washington.
— Pittsburgh, who finished with the fourth-most points (109) in the NHL, lost to Philadelphia.
As such, we’re left with a pretty interesting Round 2.
A lot of bold statements and glum descriptions will flow from the Pittsburgh Penguins after a second gnawing defeat (this time 8-5) to the Philadelphia Flyers. While the stunned silence of the Consol Energy Center crowd speaks volumes, there will be quite the cacophony of criticisms in the next couple days.
Really, there are a lot of potential culprits, so I thought I’d turn to PHT readers for the ultimate answer on who’s most to blame for the Penguins entering Philly in a scary 2-0 hole.
Marc-Andre Fleury: For all the trouble Ilya Bryzgalov’s had, here’s a selective stat that hurts: he hasn’t given up a lead yet. Fleury has given up plenty, but Game 2 was especially rough: he allowed seven goals on 30 shots as the Flyers made it look easy.
Kris Letang and the defense in general: Of course, Philly is carving up “MAF” because of some alarmingly lax defense from the Penguins. It’s not fair to blame Letang when it seems like the entire team is falling apart, yet as the leader of the defensive unit, he’s likely to be the face of such criticism.
Dan Bylsma: Of course, you could also make the argument that the 2011 Jack Adams winner is getting thoroughly out-coached. While Peter Laviolette looks like a genius by staying with Bryzgalov and taking some well-timed time outs (redundant?) one might argue that the Penguins are getting “sucked in” to the Flyers’ aggressive style. One really cannot argue that Pittsburgh is playing horribly with leads. Some of that falls at the coaches dress shoes – it’s up to you to decide how much.
Star scorers not named Sidney Crosby?: I’m placing this category under “patently ridiculous,” but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an argument made there. Evgeni Malkin and James Neal had two assist apiece but matching -4 ratings; Chris Kunitz scored twice but had a -5. That might be material for some blame.
Penguins GM Ray Shero?: Another ridiculous (but kind of funny in a “Try to make that point with a straight face” sort of way) idea, but some people will bristle at the fact that Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winner while Maxime Talbot made his presence felt with a goal and an assist. Some will, quite amusingly, say that the Penguins could have had one or both on their side.
OK, so that was sort of a fun little exercise in reckless finger-pointing, wasn’t it? Go ahead and choose the guiltiest party in the poll and comments – there’s a write-in candidate in case I missed a spot with all the broad strokes.