The other day I found myself bored in a lecture (classic). So I decided to play around on naturalstattrick.com This is a great website, and even though it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Corsica.hockey, I find it more user friendly and also freezes less. Anyways, I decided to look at the Senators advanced numbers. As many know, and many in the Sens community don't agree with, the Sens never have great advanced statistics. Many Sens fans actively dislike advanced stats because the Senators have won without having good stats. Now the counter argument to this is, "Well they are due to crash eventually". And yet, they still haven't. That got me thinking about why this may be, and I read an article from the Athletic's Graeme Nichols (Better known as @6thSens on twitter) about how The Senators Succeed by Protecting the Front of the Net. This is a great piece and I highly suggest checking it out. I decided to see how the theory was standing up, in terms of stats this season. I wanted to see if the Senators 5v5 stats have improved at all or suggest that they can keep playing well, and not having to rely on strong special teams.
What I did first was look at team stats as a whole. The Sens have not faired well in this, and currently sit at 3rd last (29th) in the NHL in CF%. They are also 7th in Corsi Against, meaning they give up more attempts then a lot of teams. Now the Sens had some early season success by leading early and having score effects catch up to them, so I thought maybe score adjusted CF% would look better. It did not... Sens rank dead last in Score-Adjusted CF% at 45.85% and still at 7th (worst) in CA. That does not seem very ideal. However, as the article said, the Sens do give up shots, but a lot of them are from the outside. This means that CF% may be affected in a negative way.
What I then did was look at High Danger CF%, to see if the numbers held true to the Sens giving up less high danger chances. From here we do see an improvement. The Sens move to 17th in HDCF% at 49.27%, and ALL the way up to 26th in CA. This means overall, they give up the 6th least high danger Corsi attempts. This is a huge improvement for the Sens and a massive reason they seem to be doing so well. When switching to Score-Adjusted CF%, Ottawa falls to 21st overall at 48.61%. and fall to 23rd in HDCA (Meaning they are actually the 9th best in that category). Now that is some massive improvements for the team as a whole, and I think helps explain a little bit the reason behind the Sens success.
I decided I wanted to take it one step up, and look at individual players for all of these categories as well. What I looked at was players at 5v5 this season with at least 100 minutes of ice time, to get out the crazy outliers with super small sample sizes. This still left 514 players, 327 forwards and 187 Defensemen. Lets start with the forwards. I looked at the worst 20 forwards in CF%, and here were the results:
Those clearly are not good looking numbers. Having 3 players in the bottom 6% of any category is not something good to look at. However, once again lets look at the forwards in High Danger CF%.
I don't even need a chart for this one because once again, all 3 players that were in the bottom 6% of the league in CF% are now no where to be found. In fact, the worst HDCF% forward the Sens have is Zach Smith, and he is sitting at 53rd worst in the league. They have 1 forward in the bottom 16% of the league for HDCF%. Pageau, Pyatt, and Thompson all jump out of the worst 100. To 113th, 159th and 160th worst in the league. This again is a huge change, as it shows even though the Senators have some players giving up huge amounts of shot attempts while on the ice, they are really limiting the amount that are high danger chances.
Now lets take a look at the defence and see if it is the same type of trend or not.
Once again, the Sens find themselves with 3 defensemen in the bottom 20 of the league, or 3 defensemen in the bottom 10% of the league. That really is not a good look for the Senators, but maybe they can once again turn it around in HDCF%.
When changed to HDCF% the Sens still have one Dman in the worst 20, and one at 22nd. Cody Ceci sits at 14th in HDCF% with 39.56%. Phaneuf falls to 22nd, and Claesson all the way down to 172nd! Score Adjusted puts Ceci as the 13th worst and Phaneuf as the 14th worst Dmen in HDCF%.
What to takeaway from this all? Well, I think it does show that the Sens do a good job limiting High Danger chances in their own end. They still give up a ton of shots, but lots of them are not very high risk. The other thing I took away from this, is the need to get a new shutdown defensemen/pairing. Because Ceci and Phaneuf are not effective in a shutdown role. I get their jobs are tough playing against the best competition, but being 2 of the worst 10% in the league at shot attempts against AND High danger attempts is just not good enough for a team who is looking to be a cup contender. I'm not sure how the Sens address that issue, whether they do it internally and give someone in the org. a shot at it. Or if they go make another big deadline move and say pick up a guy like, Chris Tanev? Either way what is clear is that the Sens could use a new shutdown pair, but also that the system and theory of limiting good chances is still holding up for the Sens.
The Sens season is upon us and at the time of writing they sit at 4-1-4, with a game tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. They are playing pretty good hockey and sit 3rd in the division and 6th in the conference. There is always room for improvement however.
Just yesterday, Vegas announced that Vladim Shipachyov would be allowed to look for a trade elsewhere. With this in mind, lets explore why it may or may not be in the Senators interest to pursue Shipachyov.
Shipachyov is currently under contract for this season and next at an AAV of 4.5 million per year according to Cap Friendly. This seems like a lot of money until you realize that the Sens currently have over 3 million in cap space without placing MacArthur on LTIR. If you place MacArthur on LTIR it goes up over 6 mil, so they do have the space. Some concern may come next year however, with impending free agents Cleasson, Ceci, Stone(RFA's), Turris, Wideman, and Oduya(UFA's) all needing extensions. Now obviously not all of these guys will be resigned, I would expect at least 2 (maybe 3..?) defence to be gone next season. The question then becomes, do you resign Kyle Turris?
Now we all have our on opinions on what Kyle Turris is worth and if the Sens should resign him. Chace wrote an article on his opinion here, and no matter what your opinion on it is, I think it is very hard to deny the fact that acquiring Shipachyov makes it easier for the Sens to lose Turris. So the question becomes, is he an improvement on what the Senators already have?
This is where I find it hard to believe that Vegas is giving up on him so quickly. In 30 minutes of ice time this year he has 1 goal, and has been on the ice for 3 5v5 goals while on for 0 against. His CF% is only 46% however it is using literally one of the smallest sample sizes you could ever possibly use. It is hard to put a true value on Shipachyov because he has not played in North America. What makes me so confused on why Vegas gave up so quickly is A) They paid 9 million for him and only used him for 30 minutes. And B) It is known that most players take a few games to adjust to the smaller North American ice style. You shouldn't expect a guy who has played on IIHF sized ice all his career to suddenly come and adjust while playing against the best level talent in the world. Besides that, he hasn't even looked bad while trying to do this! His 1 goal in 30 minutes still puts him on pace for about 2P/60 at 5v5. That would be a slightly below average 1st liners pace, or at a fringe 1st line pace (Patrick Eaves was 90th in 5v5 scoring had a 1.8P/60 5v5).If you don't want to look into the small sample size as a reason, which is fair you should switch to his KHL numbers. Shipachayov has thrown up 50+ points 3 years in a row including last year where he had 76. Now granted he is on a stacked team however, he is 15th ALL TIME in the KHL for Points per game. He has done this by playing 445 games, much more than most (Like Malkin who leads PPG with 1.575 PPG in only 37 games). The guy has skill, he was also in the top 5 for P/60 in the KHL last season. This is what makes it so odd that Vegas gave up on him so quickly.
Obviously he is a talented guy, no doubt about that. But where would he fit and what would it cost to bring him in? Ideally if you bring Shipachyov in you move either him or Pageau to the wing. This is because with Shipachyov, the Sens would have Turris, Brassard, Pageau and Shipacyov down the middle. Now that would be some crazy depth, but also a waste of talent throwing one of those guys on the 4th line. Ideally you throw him on the LW and play him with maybe Turris and Dzingel? The problem here is that I am not sure how willing Shipachyov would be to play wing, I have no idea if he prefers it or not. However, he may not care if he is getting top 6 minutes plus maybe some PP time. The other problem is how much would it take to acquire him? I would like to think that the asking price is pretty low. He has been buried in the minors twice now and Vegas clearly does not value him highly so I can not see them demanding a kings ransom for him. But it is George McPhee so anything is possible. By best guess would be a 3rd rounder? Maybe even a 4th? That or you could try and flip them a prospect that hasn't worked out, such as Nick Paul? There is some caution doing this however has Paul could be alright, but he has been surpassed on the depth chart by many, so maybe you convince Vegas he just needs a new start.
The only real problem I see with Shipachyov is that he may not fit in to Bouchers system well. To me this is frustrating because coaches should be able to at least adapt a little to let skilled offensive guys like Hoffman and Shipachyov be the most useful. However, that is not the case so you wonder if a concern for the Sens is will Shipachyov's offensive prowess fit well with the System? The other problem is that the Sens seem to hate Russians. They have not drafted one in at least 10 years and the last one to play for them was Sergei Gonchar in 2013! I'm not sure if this is actually and organization thing (I would like to hope it is not) or if they just feel like there has been no Russian players to acquire that make them better.
Either way, maybe we can see a new Russian face in a Senators jersey! There is no doubt that he helps this year, and can help relieve the loss of Turris, while having his deal done before that big Karlsson extension is up. I think he would be a cheaper add than a guy like Matt Duchene but also still improve this team's offence by quite a bit! This is just some of my thoughts on Ship and the options for the Senators, what are yours? Let me know here or on twitter @nhlsensandstuff.
The NHL season is a week old, and I have decided to start a new series! Not sure how often I'll do this, but if it is something people like I can try it more often. Anyways, the Ottawa Senators have had a somewhat surprising start to their campaign. With no captain Erik Karlsson they have taken 6 of 8 points going 2-0-2 to start! With that in mind lets look at some Ups and Downs from the first week.
I mean this HAS to be the biggest up correct? They are missing the best dman in the world and still take 6/8 points and have not lost in regulation. Now granted, they lost to Detroit which is still very bad, but they took Washington to a SO and just came off of a destroying of the Calgary Flames. If someone told me they would start this well without Erik in the lineup I would have been overjoyed! Huge up.
Winning the xG% Battle
According to Corsica.hockey the Sens are currently sitting at just over 54% xG. That is a very good thing! They have won the xG in all 4 games they have played this year, including the Capitals game. That is something that didn't happen nearly as often last year. xG isn't everything, but again considering this lineup it's very promising that they have done this.
Everything with Chabot and Cleasson
Considering Chabot hadn't even started the year with Sens, everything he has done in his two games has been awesome. Chabot took advantage of an injury to Oduya and has played 13TOI and 15TOI in his 2 games. He registered his first assist tonight against the Flames! I'm honestly not sure how you take him out at this point if you're Boucher. He has definitely started to prove he is indeed an NHL player. As for Cleasson, FINALLY Guy Boucher has trusted him like I wanted him to all of last year. It is CRIMINAL that he only played 33 games for the Sens last year, and it is awesome to see him finally earn Bouchers trust. He has led the all Sens in TOI in one game already this year, and has led the defense in TOI multiple times. It's awesome to see, and I really hope he has shown Boucher he deserves to be playing along side EK when he gets back.
The (Somewhat!) Improved Play of Ceci and Boro
Both Ceci and Boro have looked better than I thought they would to be honest. Ceci now has as many goals in 4 games as he did all of last year (2 lol). But he has shown some flashed of offensive awareness. Now I am not a Ceci fan at all, and a big part of that is how he was deployed last year. That is the coaches fault more than his but he is NOT a shutdown dman. However shown tonight, if Guy actually allows him to jump up in the rush he can at least use the talent he has, so lets hope for that. As for Mark Borowiecki, who is this guy?! Now I'm not actually going to get super excited because it *is* just 4 games in and sample size is key, but he has looked like a whole new player. He is jumping up in the rush to do things other than make a completely needless hit, and he's even got a 52CF%! Now he has been playing a more sheltered role, but that's exactly what he should be doing. He has even drawn a few penalties from jumping in the rush! So good on him, if he keeps being used and plays like this I would really have no problem having Boro on a 3rd pairing.
Now, at the time I am writing this the Sens FINALLY scored on the PP going 2/7. That still really is not that good, and it was absolutely horrible to start the season, going 0 for like 20 to start the year. That just isn't okay. They have drawn WAY more than they have taken but my god they need to start scoring on these. You can't be a deadly team and be garbage on the PP. Good to see them score 2 tonight, I really like Chabot on there, and also I think it'll obviously get better with a return from Karlsson playing a full 2 minutes on it.
Now, if you don't like advanced stats you may be sighing right now, but the Sens 5v5 Corsi has still been a little worrying. They are 18th in the league at 47.76% at 5v5. Obviously 18th is just below middle pack, which is alright. But seeing it go above 48 and dare I say 49% for once would be very nice to see. This past game against Calgary score effects had some effect on it, but it would still be nice for the long term to see Ottawa improve on that.
Usage of Players
This is a bit of a down to Guy Boucher. I was going to make it 2 different categories and say the over usage of Thompson/Pyatt and underuse of rookies, but Chabot kicked that trend. Listen, I get "rookies need to prove they belong" and so on and so forth. But Boucher has put both Brown and Formenton in spots where it's hard/almost impossible to succeed. You can NOT prove you deserve a shot if you only play 3-5 minutes a night, it's useless. It is the same crap with Colin White last year, these guys would definitely better than Thompson and Pyatt as full time in the lineup. The other reason they can't succeed is when you play on a 4th line with Thompson and Pyatt, guess what is going to happen? NOTHING. It's like being surprised Curtis Lazar couldn't do anything with Chris Neil (although I think these guys are better than Lazar). If you're not even going to use a guy like Formenton just send him back to the OHL and let him play top minutes there, you have guys in the AHL to play 3-5 minutes a night if that is what you really want. As for Pyatt and Thompson, just ugh. Still not sure why Thompson was signed and why we gave him 3.5 mil and a 10 team NTC, but oh well.
Overall there is definitely things to fix, but the Sens have played pretty damn well i would say, especially with no Erik Karlsson. So good on them! Also a quick up to Andy who has been good as always, soooo underrated. The Sens start here without 65 has actually gave me a little bit of optimism, which I really didn't have a bunch of at the beginning of the year. It'll be amazing to get our captain back, but so far I think the Sens have done a good job holding down the fort without him. Let me know what you think either here or on Twitter! And I'll see you soon!
There has been lots of talk recently with Kyle Turris and his contract that is up at the end of this year. The last I heard Turris was wanting at least 6x6, maybe more in terms of cash. Turris has been criminally underpaid making only 3.5 million per year for the past 5 seasons. According to Corsica.hockey over the last 3 seasons, for Sens forwards with at least 500 minutes played, Turris ranked 6th in Points per 60 (P/60) with 1.61, 10th in CF% with 49.3, and 9th in CF%QoC (Quality of Competition) with 49.99%. He also posted 64 goals for 149 points in 217 games [0.69PPG(NICE)]. Also a picture of Turris hero chart, he’s been closer to an average 2nd line centre than a first one, which seems about accurate. His stats don’t look very flashy, but he is a solid player.
However, the Sens have some big pay raises coming up and Turris future is a little uncertain, with that in mind let's break down all the possible options for the Sens and Turris.
I looked at a few of Turris comparables, and there are a few more for sure around the league you can look at, but over the last 3 seasons, 2 of Turris’s comparables have been Nazem Kadri and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. All 3 have had 1.6 P/60, all have around 50CF% and all have similar CF%QoC. Another comparable is teammate Derrick Brassard, although Brassard has been slightly better for the past 3 seasons combined I threw him in anyways. So let's look at their contracts.
As you can see, the list of comparables don’t seem great for what Turris is asking for. Turris is older than anyone else signing their deals and wants either more term or money than almost all of them. I do think that Kadri is on a very good deal, but still. So what should he get? There is NO doubt in my mind if he hits the free market he can make 6x6 easy. Maybe even 7 mil a year, but that doesn’t mean it is smart to sign him to that. I honestly think the fairest deal would be Brassards, 5 years isn’t too long but not short either, and 5 mil is a fair price for a decent 2nd line centre. He is not going to be improving anymore, as he is pretty much done his prime, but should still be a solid player for a while. So what are the options facing the Sens?
Let Him Walk
This may be the most likely option, there is a chance the Sens just can’t resign him. After all, you can only really commit to 5, maybe 6 guys long term (6+ years). Those guys for the Sens are (unfortunately) Phaneuf and Ryan. Probably Hoffman too you would assume. Along with Karlsson and Stone rounding out the top 5, and maybe Brassard? Is there room for Turris? Definitely not if he wants a big contract. One of the Sens options may be to just go for it this season, and at the end of the year if Turris and the Sens still are nowhere near a deal they may just have to let him walk. This is obviously not ideal as you do lose a big asset for nothing, but sometimes it is the price you pay to try for a playoff run (See the Caps this year). It is quite possible the Sens see Turris just walk after this season, which would be fine if it means they went on a playoff run again.
Trade Him At The Deadline
To me this is probably the smartest but most unlikely option. Now before you start yelling, if the Sens are in a playoff spot or around 3 points out of one at the trade deadline I think you just keep Turris, but if the Sens are anywhere more than say 5 points out of a WC spot I see no reason to keep him. If they are in a position where it looks more likely they will not be making playoffs OR not making much of a run if they do make playoffs it is smart to try and get as much as you can for good assets like Turris. You can get a decent haul for a legit #2 centre, and I think most teams would like to add a solid centreman. The team I think makes the most sense is the Pittsburgh Penguins. If they get an elite 3C (because Crosby and Malkin obviously) in Kyle Turris their depth suddenly looks very good again, and Turris contract is dirt cheap which is great for a team like the Pens. They also have some decent prospects, including in net, which is something Ottawa could use. Another few teams may be Washington, Montreal (HIGHLY unlikely), Edmonton (If Draisaitl keeps playing wing), Calgary, and the Rangers are all teams that could use some centre depth, a few of them could be very scary with some depth down the middle. Again, I think this is the smartest option if a decent deal is there and the Sens look like they are outside of the playoff picture this year.
Trade Him For Another Asset
Honestly, I do not see this happening so I will only say a few words on it. Maybe he can be a piece in a trade to pick up a guy like say Duchene? I just don’t really know why the Avs would want him or how that makes any sense, so it is more of a wild thought than anything else, but who knows. Subban got traded one for one for Weber so anything can happen.
Keep Him and Resign Him
The last option would be to just keep him and resign him. Now I like Turris, but this can only be possible if he agrees to a team friendly deal. Again I think 5x5 would be an alright deal, but even that can be risky with Stone and Karlsson and Brassard coming up. The other guy up this season is Cody Ceci. That should be VERY interesting what their plans are for him and could affect Turris. If Ottawa makes a silly choice and throws money at Ceci it may drive Turris out of town just because they can’t afford him, but we will see. If the Sens can get him 5 mil or under for 5 years or less I think it is an alright option.
I think no matter what the Sens probably should be fine, if you resign him sweet. If not it gives a spot for someone else to step up, whether that be Pageau, Brown, or White. Although Pageau as 2C seems much more likely, it does give a shot to young guys in the organization to hopefully get some playing time. Ideally I would like to get some assets back for him, but only if it makes sense to get rid of him. I would also be fine if the Sens keep him and lose him to FA, if they make a playoff run, that is the way the business goes sometimes. The only way I really see the Sens losing this is if they resign him for way too much. What do you think? Do you think the Sens should resign him? If so for how much? Let me know either here or on twitter (@nhlsensandstuff)! It should be interesting to see how Dorion and the Sens management handles this whole situation.
I apologize for the long break between predictions, but I am back! With the last division to do, the Pacific division! As always I will be breaking it up into 3 categories, Out of playoffs, Wild Card Hunt, and Division title hunt. Again as always follow me on twitter (@nhlsensandstuff) or let me know what you think here! If you haven’t read my other 3 divisions from August you can do that too! Hope you enjoy.
Out of Playoffs
8. Las Vegas Golden Knights
7. Vancouver Canucks
Safe to say these teams will both be pretty bad this year. The Knights have chosen the route of tanking for the first couple of years and outside of Fleury they have no real stars to rely on this year. They have some decent pieces like James Neal and Theodore however I would be shocked if they are not in the hunt for a Rasmus Dahlin this year. Same said with Vancouver, they actually made some solid additions in the offseason adding Gagne and Del Zotto and Vanek. Unfortunately they added them for the wrong reasons, those pieces would be good on 1 year deals to flip at the deadline to a contending team. Vancouver still seems to think they are said contending team. Either way, other than Tanev that defense is a mess, the Sedins can’t drag this team any longer, and their rookies are not going to be good enough to pick up the slack.. These guys will probably be a bottom feeder.
Wild Card Hunt
6. Arizona Coyotes
5. LA Kings
4. San Jose Sharks
I don’t really see Arizona making playoffs this year, but MAN are they ever going to be better. Probably the winners of the offseason (maybe 2nd after Dallas). Stealing Hjalmarsson from the Hawks for almost nothing, along with Stephan and Raanta from the Rangers, ALONG with Demers from the Panthers. Add some good looking rookies into the mix and you have what should be a legit competitive team, I for once don’t think they will be a lottery favourite this year, and may actually surprise a couple teams. As for LA, they are the advanced stats god's, problem is they don’t have anyone who can really score. I don’t think they really did anywhere near enough to fix that this year, and they have some bad contracts on that team wow. However guys like Doughty and Kopitar are more than good enough to carry this team to a wildcard spot, but i would be surprised if they got more than that. As for San Jose, they continue their slow decline, signing Thornton for another year is massive he still probably the best playmaker in the game. Losing Marleau is a stinger, but not the worst thing in the world, overall I just don’t see these guys being a top 3 in this strong division, but they will definitely compete for a wildcard.
Division Title Hunt
3. Calgary Flames
2. Anaheim Ducks
1. Edmonton Oilers
Calgary would be sick, if they could find a legit goalie. I am not very confident with Smith and Lack, but this D core is one of the best in the league, and the forward core isn’t too shabby either. Overall I think these guys should probably be the #3 team in this division, but it all really depends on goaltending. Anaheim I would have had as #1, but to start the year they have, Getzlaf, Kesler, Vatanen, Lindholm, Eaves and Miller all hurt. Some shouldn’t be out for long, others will be longer so this team will not be at full strength for a while. This is why I see them coming 2nd, however come playoffs if they are healthy they should be a legit threat for the Cup in my opinion. As for the 1 seed, it goes to Connor McDavid, errr I mean… The Edmonton Oilers. With McDavid (who has a hattrick already after one game) it’s impossible not to be near the top of the division. Add in some real good goaltending from Talbot and some help up front from RNH and Draisaitl and they should win this division. I hated the Strome trade, I think they lost that but literally just another year of the already 100 point scorer McDavid probably getting BETTER is all you really need. The d core is not great but it’ll do, Klefbom is very good and even though I still don’t think he was worth Hall, Larsson is solid as well. They will need some help from guys like Nurse to strengthen it but for the regular season I think they should be fine.
Those are my picks for the Pacific this year, what do you think? Send me a tweet or leave a comment! Hope you enjoy and check back soon for more content. Now lets watch some hockey!
Welcome to the third part of this four part series! Today I will be giving my predictions for the central division. As always let me know what you think, either here or on twitter (@NHLsensandstuff). I will be using the 3 tier system, Out of playoffs, Wild card and Division lead to show where about I think teams will be competing for.
Out of Playoffs
7. Colorado Avalanche
The only team in this division, and is it really a surprise? They didn’t do much this off season to get better and they were one of the worst teams ever to play in the cap era last year. Now granted, I think they will be slightly better this year just because last year was a mix of lack of skill, but also lots of bad luck, and 0 goal tending. If Varlamov decides to stop even a few more pucks they will get a few more points, still no where enough to get out of the basement of the league though.
Wild Card Hunt
6. Chicago Blackhawks
5. St.Louis Blues
4. Dallas Stars
So many hot takes here. This is the year, in my opinion the once dynasty Blackhawks finally break. Getting rid of Hjalmarsson was absolutely mind boggling, a very under rated defenceman. Along with losing TVR on top of that who yes, is not a great defenceman but is still a good number 6 and also Brian Campbell. That blueline was already rough, it is going to be so bad (other than Duncan Keith) next year. The loss of Hossa is also a massive killer, while old he was still very valuable. I don’t see Kane, Saad, Toews, Keith and Crawford being able to pull all the rest of the dead weight that is this team back to the playoffs (however it is Chicago and I could be so totally wrong and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit). As for the Blues, I just think this division is better. The Blues are a fine team that added Brayden Schenn this offseason. Their defense is pretty solid and the offense isn’t the worst either. It all depends on Jake Allen. Does he play brutal like he did in the first half of the year? Or does he play much better and solid like he did in the second half? Or does he go round 1 playoffs all year and win the vezina?? Probably not the third one. But i think the blues will be a little better than the Hawks and compete for a wild card spot. Who knows, they may even be a favourite to claim one. As for the Stars, I think they have had a real solid offseason. Bringing in Radulov to help an already STACKED offense is amazing and a massive pickup. They improved their goaltending by adding Ben Bishop and buying out Niemi. I don’t think Bishop is going to be a massive head turner, but he is an improvement. Their defense was helped by bringing in Mark Methot, it is still a weak blueline though. However, they should have the offense to just over power teams and should for sure be back to competing for playoffs this year, I have them as a strong contender for one of the wild card spots.
3. Minnesota Wild
2. Winnipeg Jets
1. Nashville Predators
Minnesota is the weakest out of these three teams, and I can see them even slipping out of the top 3. But I still think they are really solid and I really like Devan Dubnyk. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep playing his vezina style, as he has been a top 3 goalie in the league for the past 2-3 years now. If so, I see no reason why Minnesota shouldn’t make it. They were robbed of a playoff series win last year by Jake Allen. Their offense is and their defense is good as well. Look for them to compete for the division but probably not get it. The Winnipeg Jets. A team so full of star power it is mind blowing that they have been so bad the past two years. I feel like a broken record saying this, because I have said it almost every year for like 4 years. But, this is the year the Jets finally make it over the hump and into the playoffs/actually win a playoff game, and quite possibly at least one series. They are stacked up front with Blake Wheeler, maybe the most underrated forward in the NHL today, Scheifele. Little, Ehlers, Petan and Laine. They also have a great blueline with Byfuglien, Morrissey, Enstrom, Myers and now Kulikov. Their biggest problem for the past few years? Goaltending. It has been brutal at times and cost them many points. This year they went out and got Steve Mason, a very underrated goalie. He is not going to be winning the vezina, but he is a solid league average starter which is all a team like this really needs. If Mason puts up average starting numbers and is the 15-17th best starter in the league I see no reason why Winnipeg should not be having home ice advantage in the first round of these playoffs. Lastly, Nashville. The best team in the Central and probably the West. A cup contender once again this year and a legit threat to every team. The best blueline in the league stayed together, and Juuse Saros should be ready to take over for Rinne this year (he is already better than him anyways). Losing Neal hurt the offense, but adding Bonino was solid, while maybe overpaid still solid for this season. And the Scott Hartnell signing was a brilliant signing. He is still a very good player, not a star but he will help the team for sure. Look for Nashville to be back on top this year as a legit cup contender.
Those are my predictions! Let me know what you think and stay tuned for the final part, the Pacific. Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!
This is part 2 of my 2017/2018 season predictions. If you did not see part one you can find it here. Now onto the Metro division! Once again I will be using tiers to try and break down and give a sense of where I expect all these teams to be. Those tiers will are, Out of Playoffs, Hunt for Wild Card spot, hunt for division lead. Please leave a comment or reach me on twitter (@NHLSensandstuff) and let me know what you think and where you have everyone ranked. Also, get ready for some possible hot takes.
Out of Playoffs
8. New Jersey Devils
I think this should be pretty much everyone's #8 spot in the metro. They got better this off season but in such a tough division they are nowhere close to good enough. Adding Marcus Johansson for almost nothing and that first overall pick is always a nice little addition. Unfortunately there was no franchise altering player to go first overall this year. Nico will still be a great player I am sure, but not enough to stop the New Jersey Tank. At least Hall has someone to play with now. New Jersey will probably be the only true team out of it from the beginning in this division, but they should be looking to pick either 1 or 2 this year anyways, with 2 elite looking players available in the draft.
Wild Card Spot
7. New York Islanders
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
5. Philadelphia Flyers
4. Carolina Hurricanes
3. New York Rangers
I think all five of these teams will be very close, much like the Atlantic I see it being an absolute dogfight for the #3 division spot and those last 2 wild card spots. As for the Islanders, I still don’t know what this teams up to, stealing Eberle from the Oilers was great, but then they ditched Travis Hamonic for picks? That made very little sense, Jonny T is amazing and is always a legit threat and they have a fine team. I just think they will be the farthest out of a spot in this tier, can’t sleep on them though. As for Columbus, this may be my hottest take yet. I think regression is going to hit Columbus like a BUS. Bobrovsky won the Jack Adams award (for Torts) by posting a .931 save percentage. That is going to come down, most likely to mid 20’s, which is still very good but it’s going to lose CBJ some games. Bob stole about 10 games last year by himself, by saving 52 goals above expected. Good luck repeating that. Their PP also won’t run at like 30% for a full month like it did last year and they lost some key depth like Sam Gagne. They should still be alright, but much worse than last year. Philly was gifted the 2nd overall pick and still probably got the best player in the draft (sorry Nico). Patrick will most likely play sheltered minutes and add a lot of depth skill to the bottom 6 this year. Losing Schenn may hurt a little but this team still has a good offense, fine defense and very average goaltending. No massive glaring weaknesses which should allow them to be competitive and compete for a spot. Carolina, maybe my second hottest take on here? Carolina has had an amazing offseason thus far, adding Scott Darling which *should* upgrade their goaltending significantly. He is not proven but looks promising. They helped their offense by bringing in depth in Markus Krueger, along with a legit top 6 and hometown hero Justin Williams, who has already won a cup with them. Also acquiring Trevor Van Riemsdyk for cheap from Las Vegas helps the bottom pair. Locking up Jacob Slavin at only 5 mil is a massive win as well. This team has improved their offense and goaltending (significantly) and is one of my favourites to jump up quite a few spots and take a wild card spot. I have the Rangers in this tier because I still am unsure of how I feel about their offseason. They got the best free agent available in Shattenkirk and at a very good price, which is a massive upgrade on Dan Girardi. Although they did not get near enough back fro Stephan AND Ranta, and they now have a lack of depth at centre, and also better be praying that Lundqvist’s older body can play 55-60 real good games. They still have a decent offense and some good defense, along with Hank playing well they should still be the #3 team in this division. I have them in this tier because I can easily see them slipping into a wildcard spot or worse like last year.
Competing for Division
2. Washington Capitals
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
Let's be honest, it really is a coin flip which of these two teams will win the division. I think both of them got significantly worse in terms of depth this year. Pittsburgh losing Fleury, Bonino etc. And adding Ryan Reaves?? What on earth. Washington lost Alzner, who may be over rated but is still good. As well as Nate Schmidt who was very under rated and probably better than Orlov and Johansson. However, both these teams still have absolute studs on their team to carry them. Pens can rely on Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Murray and Phil. While Caps have Ovi, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Holtby, Carlson. Both these teams are still legit studs and both should/could be cup favourites, at least contenders. I have Pittsburgh ahead of Caps just because, why not? It honestly could go either way though. But these are the two teams I fully expect to be competing for the division lead.
I think the Metro is going to be much like the Atlantic, very close and very exciting. Making the East a war zone for those last few playoff spots. It is going to be a fun season to watch. Let me know what you think and where you have all the teams. Hope you enjoyed, and next I will be starting on the West!
This is my first post I have ever made, so give it a read and feel free to tell me what you think (either here or on twitter @NHLsensandstuff)!
Before I begin I should say a few things. One, I will be trying to do this for all 4 divisions, I figured it was easy to do it by division the ranking all 31 teams. Two, this is purely my opinion, I try to incorporate facts on why I think these things but if you have a disagreement again, feel free to let me know. I would be more than happy to debate it and extend on why my opinion is what it is.
The atlantic division is a crazy competitive and tight division this year, and I could see almost any team making the playoffs, and almost every team missing the playoffs. To make it easier where I see each team, I split it up into 3 categories. Out of playoffs, Wild card team, Division Leaders.
Out Of Playoffs
8. Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit is the only team in the Atlantic I truly do not see a chance for them to make the playoffs. They were already bad this year, did not improve and also their “key” players keep getting older. Despite having the 4th highest cap hit in the league, they also boast one of the oldest cores. If they finally start using the few stud youngsters they have properly (Anthanasiou Mantha) they could still be alright. The blue line is brutal aside from Mike Green and adding Trevor Daley is not going to save it. It’s possible Mrazek/Howard play like crazy and they do not finish last, but I wouldn’t hold my breath too much on these guys.
Wild Card Teams
7. Florida Panthers
6. Ottawa Senators
5. Boston Bruins
4. Buffalo Sabres
Now BEFORE you start screaming that a team is too high or too low here, just hear me out. All of these 4 teams are going to be ridiculously close, like 5-8 points apart or less for all 4. I could also seeing any of these teams snatching a top 3 spot in the division, which I’ll get to later. For Florida, the offseason has been a head scratcher. They have seemingly gone away from their “Computer Boy stat” base. They butchered the expansion draft giving up multiple good players to Vegas for… Reasons? As of July 16th according to www.capfriendly.com they only have 11 forwards, 6 defense and 2 goalies rostered. I would expect they will sign some cheaper players to PTO in August but still. Buying out Jokinen and releasing Jagr seemed weird. However, they (shouldn’t) be so injury bitten this year so it is possible they still play great with their core players. Now for Ottawa, as a Sens fan myself I would love nothing more than for another ECF run. However, I feel like that is very unlikely, last year was their year if they were going to win with this roster. This year they could have still been a competitive threat in my opinion, if they would have dumped Phaneuf or Ceci (or both) and picked up a decent FA dman, and maybe a good depth forward or two. Instead they signed AHLer Nate Thompson. I mean, why? The dude is actually worse than Chris Kelly and maybe even more of a liability than Chris Neil. Which is hard to do. However, they still have the best defenseman in the world which makes them a bubble team, along with some good guys up front in Stone, Hoffman and Turris that keep them competitive. Also Thomas Chabot and Colin White all year should be fun, I expect them to compete for a playoff spot, but it is nowhere close to a lock. Boston, well they have the big 3 up front. Elite Bergeron, and studs in Marchand and Pasternak. That and Rask playing really well is enough to take you to a playoff spot by itself (see last year). A full year of Macavoy is going to be huge, and Torey Krug is very good. Hopefully Chara stops playing 20+ minutes a night though. They are another bubble team for the lack of depth, and one injury could derail them. However, like everyone else I could see them taking a top 3 spot if everything goes right. Buffalo may be the biggest surprise on this list, however their new GM has made a lot of very good moves since taking over. Bringing in Nathan Beaulieu for nothing and Marco Scandella to at least improve the brutal defense core, bringing in a solid backup in Chad Johnson for when Lehner gets cranky, and even a smart, low risk high reward signing on Benoit Pouliot who had one rough year. The defense core is still weak, but it is at least improved and they have a scary offense. Jack Eichel for a full year is going to be fun to watch, and if Lehner plays as good as he did last year they should be fine. I have them competing for the wild card and probably being the best of this group of 4, again this could easily change, but I expect a decent jump from Buffalo this year.
Competing For Division Title
3. Montreal Canadiens
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
I have Montreal in this category just because I have them third, but i could straight up see them being anywhere from first to seventh in this division. How does Bergevin still have a job? He has crushed his defense, the Drouin deal made sense but losing Beaulieu and Sergachev and possibly Markov kills. Also not resigning Radulov and offering him the same contract after he already told Dallas yes was hilariously bad. Credit to Bergivan for dodging a bullet in the expansion draft and somehow having McPhee take Emelin for free. Also the Schlemko trade was good, not enough though. Their forwards are, meh. They could have been real good with a top 6 of Patches, Galchenyuk, Radulov, Drouin, Danault and Hemsky(?). The reason I keep them at 3rd is because of Carey Price and Carey Price alone. I expect another Vezina caliber season out of im, but if that doesn’t happen the Habs are in huge trouble. I debated placing them with the wild card teams but kept it simple and placed them here. No Elite CP31 = No playoffs. Now for those Maple Leafs. I am a sens fan, and it is going to pain me to hear all the Leafs fans talk about how good they are for the next 10-12 years, but hey there is no denying it. This Leafs team is young, and a ton of fun to watch. They got better this offseason and even if they did nothing another year of growth fro Matthews, Nylander and Marner is scary enough. I think they overpaid and gave too much term to Marleau, but he for sure helps them like crazy this year and they are going to have 3 legit 1st lines, that is terrifying. If Tampa isn’t the team winning the division I have the Leafs winning it. Hainsey is an improvement over Polak, again the term and money is meh but that is a very movable contract, bottom line is: The Leafs are Actually Good. Now for Tampa, the team I have winning it. Steve Yzerman is a wizard. He managed to get Sergachev, Palat and Johnson all while wasting 3 mil on Dan Girardi. I am still not sure what on earth that was and it is one of the very few mistakes Yzerman has made. If Cooper plays Girardi right and has him 3rd pair it’ll be fine. This team has a stacked offense and Hedman is a legit beast. Stralman is pretty sick too, not to mention a full year of Vasilevsky is exciting. The Kunitz signing was pretty safe bet as well. If their core stays healthy all year this is a legit cup contender and my favourite from the Atlantic, maybe even East,
Those are my thoughts, what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a tweet. And once again, pretty much all these teams are going to be very close, the parity in the Atlantic is crazy and there are 7 teams I could easily see making playoffs, and with an injury or two I could see how any of the 8 could miss. It’ll be a fun year to watch, hope you enjoyed!
My name is Alex, this is my page, all thoughts are mine and feel free to comment on what you think! Enjoy!