I got the Islanders completely wrong. They’re trucking right along and setting new franchise point streaks. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.
I got the Flames right. In April of 2018 I wrote a piece of Brad Treliving and how disastrous he is. I missed the mark on the Giordano contract, but that thing is long enough that I’ve still got time to be proved right. But the Flames struggles this season are a direct result of Treliving failing, yet again, to provide his coach with a product that he can win with. He has spent his entire time with the franchise trying to solve his goaltending problem and every time he thinks he has it, the house of cards crumbles.
Speaking of the Flames, Bill Peter’s job is not long for this world. I’m interested to see who his replacement is going to be. 0-5-1 through the last 6 games and out scored 23-5. He’s done and I think he might be thankful for it.
The Sharks have pulled out of their nosedive and likely saved Peter Deboer’s hide. That woeful start to the season has been replaced by a 7-3-0 record through their last 10 games. With Vancouver, Arizona, Vegas and Anaheim all sliding back recently, the Pacific has tightened up a bit.
John Hynes is probably done with the Devils. His minute and half post game presser after the 5-1 dusting by the Boston Bruins said more than he could have said in four times the amount of time. He looks exhausted and defeated and many members of that Devils team carried similar defeated looks on their faces after Boston’s 3rd goal. Barring some kind of spark and 2 strong, convincing wins on their upcoming back to back against Pittsburgh and Detroit, it seems unlikely that Hynes will last far beyond this weekend.
The Sheldon Keefe era has begun but Toronto’s right side on defense is still scary. They started with Barrie, Ceci and Holl, and to be fair, Justin Holl looked pretty good tonight. The rental market for right handed defenders is SHALLOW this year. The best 2 options might be Sami Vatanen(if the Devils continue to be bad) and Mike Green from Detroit. Leafs have to consider what will be done with Muzzin and Barrie beyond this season while trying to beef up the unit to try to get back in the playoff hunt. They have some really hard decisions that they need to start thinking about sooner rather than later.
The downfall of Toronto has helped mask some other surprising teams around the league. Tampa Bay and Nashville are both in positions they surely did not expect to be in. Andrei Vasilevskiy has not had himself a great start to the season, and that 9.5 million dollar AAV extension hasn’t even kicked in yet. If his pedestrian play continues, that contract could be yet another, in a long list of cautionary tales about spending big money on goaltenders long term.
There is no shortage of teams in the NHL with struggling backup goaltenders. The Chicago Blackhawks could probably get a pretty penny in return for 2019 IIHF World Championship Gold Medal goaltender, Kevin Lankinen. I wonder how long it will take for some GMs to start asking. Also goaltenders playing in foreign leagues, who got NHL cups of coffee when they were younger, might want to consider comebacks. Looking at you Magnus Hellberg and Reto Berra.
I’ve tweeted about him a few times, but my favorite “diamond in the rough” prospect this year is Carson Bantle, playing for the Madison Capitals in the USHL. The team is terrible and he has minimal help around him, but the 6’4 Bantle continues to produce points at a strong rate. He’s committed to Michigan Tech so if nobody takes a chance on him, we’ll get to see him in the NCAA.
Your current goal scoring leader in the KHL? Nikita Soshnikov. I know he struggled to gain traction when he was with the Leafs and Blues but he really is such a special player and is one of my favorites outside the NHL right now.