This week on Episode (great) 8, the guys made bets for and against the Vegas Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup in the next two seasons; discussed their almost 13 hour long, BANGERS ONLY, Spotify playlist for the two and half hour long drive up to Johnstown, PA for the Slapshot Cup tournament; the NHL entry draft and some of the trades that have occurred around the draft; and the Pittsburgh Penguins buying out Jack Johnson.
In Episode 7, the Beers in The Lot crew discussed the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in 6 games to win the Stanley Cup; how much the Stanley Cup being awarded in an empty building looked and sounded a lot like a beer league championship; and how the NHL was successful in executing their return to play and bubble hockey plans.
This has clearly not been a normal hockey year, not on the calendar especially. Today marks the first day of the NHL buyout period and we are a day or two away from our 2020 Stanley Cup winner.
With the level of uncertainty around the free agent period and even what teams will spend next year, player movement will be at an all time high. You just have to find the right dance partner.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Yesterday the Pens traded away valued teammate Patric Hornqvist, for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour from the Panthers. GM Jim Rutherford hasn’t made major changes to the team but has made renovations to the locker room glue over the course of the last few years. When Carl Hagelin was moved it was a massive blow to the players in their words, I would imagine Hornqvist is the same. Matheson can skate and has shown offensive talent but was behind Yandle and Ekbald in Florida for power play time and quality starts in the offensive zone. The move could be a good chance for him to show his worth as a puck moving defenseman, he played a few games at forward as well. Being a player with a few different skill sets could help the pens in the coming years. Scevior will be slated into a bottom six role off the bat and they do need some help on that side of the lineup. The rotating cast on those lines has been hard since the last cup in 2017. The Penguins aren’t done as GMJR trade tally is now at 52, I’m sure he will add to that prior to next season. With a goalie on the move (hopefully) and the fact you have a log jam on the left backend now it appears that more moves are on the way.
Alexander Pietrangelo: It was reported earlier in the week by Darren Dreger of TSN that the St. Louis Blues advised Alex and his agent that free agency is a route he should pursue. As the captain of the team that seems a bit harsh since they paid newly acquired dman Justin Faulk 6.5 million. Alex was rumored to only be offered around 7.5 million. Unsure of who had that leak but interesting. Are the Blues unwilling to offer the right amount of term or money? Could they be seeing signs of a declining player on the wrong size of 30? It could also be the Blues don’t want to pay for what they see as an over priced tag on the free agent market. It’s Pietrangelo’s right at this time in his career to cash in on him being a UFA, I support his right to chase the money as he only has a certain amount of time to earn a living playing hockey.
Toronto Maple Leafs: A team that is expected still to spend to the cap in the odd times even though they already spend a ton on talent. This could be the spot for Pietrangleo in my mind. It makes sense on paper. Good solid player with experience, right hand shooting and slick skater…kinda fits all the Leafs needs. Subtract the idea of salary and the fit is perfect. It would relieve a lot of pressure on Morgan Reilly and Jake Muzzin, plus it gives a role model for their younger prospects like Sandin and Liljegren. They will have to find a willing team or two to help them with cap space. Kapanen was the first piece to move and Nylander or Kerfoot are appealing given their actual dollar amount owed to them. William Nylander carries a cap hit of 6.9 million but is taking only 2.5 million in salary and a bonus of 3.5 million. That is a savings for many teams as next season’s potential revenue is still up in the air.
Arizona Coyotes: Before you say just move the team already maybe they have a chance…….With a new GM Bill Armstrong they will be looking to re-tool for coach Rick Tocchet in a way that lets him keep whatever hair he has left. They are a team I’m sure will be looking to shed salary. Their goaltender Darcy Kuemper has been solid in the desert, he also has two years left at 4.5 million. Will he also be thrown into teams roundtable discussions for what will be a crazy goalie market. Other vets like Kessel (not again) or OLE could find themselves changing sweaters too. The plan between the new management group and ownership will depend on direction and how much they are going to invest into this season. Moving some of their contracts could help recoup some of the lost picks from their draft violations and set them up for a major rebuild.
Goalie Market: This will be a massive year for goaltenders on the market. While I don’t think anyone will be given a 10 million AAV deal like Bob was last year I do expect a few to be taken care of. Craig Anderson was told to find a new home from Ottawa, Kuemper could be moved and Fluery stated that he wanted to remain in Sin City even if it’s in a back up role. That part shocks me since his agent didn’t really mind sharing his thoughts during the cup run. Don’t forget Holtby, Markstrom, Murray (still needs moved) and a change in Minnesota most likely. This will be really made more of a mess with Khudobin, Crawford, Lehner, Griess and Jimmy Howard. Hopefully you get the point I’m making.
On Episode 6, the guys talked about games one and two of the Stanley Cup Final between the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning; whether or not Steven Stamkos will play for the Bolts and possible gamesmanship going on with his status; a trip to Hooters for lunch with a team Eric and Jon coached; and St. Louis Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo potentially signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency.
The NYI finally played their last game in the bubble. Another OT defeat lead to a Stanley Cup final birth in 2020. The team that survived the pay in round almost made it one more game.
The Isles have a lot to show for. They have a core that is cemented over the course of the coming years. A coaching staff that clearly has the ear of the players, this includes the goalie tandem too.
Most of their offensive group is going to return Nelson, Lee, Bailey and Eberle, with all players being under team control for the next two seasons. Matt Martin, Tom Kuhnhackl and Derrick Brassard are all UFA’s so the bottom six will get a big refresh. The shift this off season is going to RFA Matt Barzal and how will the term and dollars of that deal look. They will have roughly 9 million to spare but others are needing new deals as well, this begins the cap crunch for GM Lou Lamoriello.
On the back end the only ones needing deals will be RFA Toews and Pulock, both should get decent raises after their playoff run. The lone UFA is 37 year old Andy Greene, curious to see if he returns after playing solid for the blue and orange. Leddy and Boychuk are both league vets with a bit higher ticket for their current on ice production they too could be players on the move.
Goaltending should not be an issue. Griess is a UFA with a few years of bouncing around. They have a young Ilya Sorokin waiting in the wings and under the guidance of Mitch Korn he will most likely not disappoint.
Lou Lamoriello has his work cut out for him this off season. Many front office staff is the same boat however. Lou is never scared to make changes to his roster, this year that may work to his advantage. With Barry Trotz behind the bench though I do not expect anything to be an issue. He has a track record of success and two straight years he has gotten the most out of a team that few predict to go far. Sweeping both the Capitals and the Penguins and a trip to the conference finals within his time is setting up a strong third year.
ENJOY THE OFF SEASON NYI!
The Stars beat Vegas; Laviolette is the Caps New Head Coach; Beer League Hockey Story Time; Gary Bettman is Good at Being Bad
This week, the guys talked about the Dallas Stars’ Western Conference Final win over the Vegas Golden Knights; the Washington Capitals hiring Peter Laviolette as their new head coach; a couple beer league hockey stories; and how they all agree that Gary Bettman has done so much for the NHL while being a good “bad guy” for the fans.