- The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton makes his case for five players who avoided the dreaded sophomore slump this season. At the top of his list is Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, who Clinton writes is the reason for the Oilers’ turnaround this season. Had it not been for the clavicle injury last season, McDavid would have had one of the best back-to-back seasons that rivaled Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Next is the Blackhawks’ Artemi Panarin, who Clinton believes the Hawks have to absolutely re-sign at all costs. That would certainly cause some financial posturing, but he believes Panarin to be a devastating personnel loss should he go elsewhere. The Winnipeg Jets’ Nikolaj Ehlers, the Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin, and the Blues’ Colton Parayko round out Clinton’s top five.
- The Blackhawks have been on a tear lately and rookie Ryan Hartman has been one of the brightest spots for Chicago. Chris Hine writes that the young forward has learned quite a bit about being more patient on the ice and not corralling penalties as he would have in the past. Hine describes him as an irritant, there’s a reason for Hartman’s change of play:
“You have an opportunity to play in the NHL and be in the lineup every night. If you’re going to take penalties and do that kind of stuff, you’re not going to be in the lineup for long,” Hartman said. “I just try to stay out of the box as much as possible, and it related to me being on the ice more.”
Drawing penalties instead of causing them has been a boon for the Hawks and the young forward. He’s also shown a knack for scoring timely goals. Hartman notched the winner against San Jose on Sunday night and already has six on the season. Playing for a coach known to favor veterans, Hartman is making the most of his chance and certainly justifying his playing time from Joel Quenneville.