A lot of the troubles of the last few weeks are behind us (though perhaps not all) and the Taylor Hall trade talk has died down even as we’ve been assured it may or may not happen before the Christmas trade freeze.
So what are people wondering about? All kinds of different stuff, but a lot of it seems to be about teams that are worse than expected. It makes sense on some level because we’re now well into December and if you’re not in a playoff spot by now, you probably won’t be in one at season’s end. And that means it’s time to start planning for the future in a more serious way
Phil asks: “Is there a goalie controversy in Pittsburgh?”
Only insofar as the team is likely to treat Matt Murray like a two-time Cup winner until long after he’s proven he’s not that guy. That’s not to say I buy Tristan Jarry as any sort of goalie of the future; his career save percentage before this year was .906.
Of course, .906 would blow Murray’s season out of the water right now, so y’know. In situations like this, I figure you go with the hot hand until it ain’t hot anymore. That could be sooner than later, but still, get the wins while you can.
The Red Wings are currently on pace to be worse in the standings than that 48-point Avalanche team from a few years ago, and worse in terms of just awful, unwatchable play than the tank Sabres.
The “how” is that Ken Holland, now running McDavid and Draisaitl’s team, saddled the Wings with so many bad, long-term, untradeable contracts for guys who were either low-impact players or already outside their primes and getting older all the time. It’s no mystery. The guy believed his own team’s BS, plain and simple.
There’s almost no difference-making talent on the roster because they really only started the rebuild in earnest a year or two ago; it should have been more like “the day Lidstrom retired.” But hey, they had a playoff streak to pursue until they couldn’t anymore. I get it but also: I do not get it.
David asks via email: “The Hurricanes, Lighting and Senators all could potentially have two first round picks from trades at this point of the season. Who made the best deal and which pick could be the most valuable to their perspective team?”
The Bolts would only get Vancouver’s pick if they make the playoffs, which they currently look like they could. If not, it moves to next year. The way things are going, it looks like they’ll either just make it (meaning no double pick) or be the 15th or 16th team. Cutting it real close.
Meanwhile, it’s looking like the Hurricanes in particular made a nice little gamble that the Leafs wouldn’t be that good (so far, at least), but it comes with the caveat that if the Leafs pick in the top 10, the pick drops back to 2021.
You have to think they’re hoping the Leafs finish somewhere in the 11-16 range so they can maximize that value ASAP, because the likelihood the Leafs are this bad next year seems low.
They’ll be right there with Ottawa hoping San Jose stays in the basement because there are no other conditions on that pick. For that reason — the Sharks are currently among the league’s worst by points percentage — it seems like the Senators might have the most value as things stand today.
All that could change quite a bit based on the quality of all these teams, though.
Brandon asks: “You could take one player on a bad team and place him on a good team, and one player from a good team and place him on a bad team. Who do you move, where, and why?”
I’m going to take cap considerations into this since it would otherwise be easy to say, like, “McDavid to Washington!” But I think the obvious answer really is poor Taylor Hall, who does not deserve where he’s been in his career, moved to a legitimate team like Carolina or St. Louis.
Probably the Hurricanes because they’re the most likeable team in the league and Hall seems like a swell guy. I mean, we could also get a guy like Alex DeBrincat out of Chicago and put him on the Bruins or something, but I feel like Hall’s earned it.
Eileen asks: “Everyone in Chicago likes to talk about firing Jermey Colliton but, uh, is there any coach that could really do anything more with that team?”
The obvious answer for me is “no” but you get this a lot with underperforming teams no matter how bad you should have reasonably expected them to be. I think the Chicago media has a big role in those expectations because they spent a good chunk of the summer saying “A full season of Colliton’s system from training camp on” this, and “A retooled D corps” that, which were all red herrings.
The only thing that was ever going to keep this team afloat was the goaltending, especially if Crawford wasn’t washed. Turned out he wasn’t and it still didn’t matter. These guys are done and there’s no fixing it either with a new coach (no one’s that good) or via trades (NMCs for everyone!), so it’s tough for all involved.
Samuel asks via email: “Would you please grace us with your all-decade team? 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 3 goalies, coach?
Yeah alright. I’m gonna try to stick with positions but there are, as you know, a lot of good centers who can play the wing if needed. Also please keep in mind staying power matters so relatively new stars like McDavid, for example, didn’t carry as much weight because they played hundreds of fewer games.
1F: Brad Marchand – Sid Crosby – Patrice Bergeron
2F: Jamie Benn – Anze Kopitar – Steven Stamkos
3F: Alex Ovechkin – Joe Pavelski – Patrick Kane
4F: Joe Thornton – Evgeni Malkin – Mark Stone
EF: Connor McDavid
1D: Victor Hedman – Erik Karlsson
2D: Mark Giordano – John Carlson
3D: Ryan McDonagh – Alex Pietrangelo
ED: Ryan Suter
1G: Henrik Lundqvist
2G: Braden Holtby
EG: Sergei Bobrovsky
Coach: Joel Quenneville
Chris asks: “Does Ray Shero need to worry about his job after this disaster season?”
I don’t think we should be limiting this to just “after” the season.
Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.
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