nvalasco: What does SJ do now that they lost Marleau? They already struggled to score last year, & now lost a 20-30 goal scorer. Unless Hertl takes that next step we’re waiting for, how big of a step back do they take?
I have to admit, I’m really surprised by San Jose’s lack of offseason activity, particularly with regards to not really replacing Patrick Marleau. They’re banking on a healthy Tomas Hertl picking up some of the slack and a full season of Jannik Hansen will certainly help. Mikkel Boedker is due for somewhat of a bounce back campaign as well. Those three will help offset some of the lost production but if the goal is to try to improve, I don’t think they’ve done that.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re waiting out the UFA market for one more winger; Thomas Vanek and Jaromir Jagr come to mind as players who could still help for a year while serving as a bridge to youngsters like Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc. The team clearly has confidence in their youngsters but it never hurts to have a capable insurance policy in place.
Even if they don’t make further moves, I don’t think they’re in too much jeopardy of taking a major step back. Vegas isn’t going to be a playoff contender and neither are Arizona and Vancouver. Right off the bat, their worst case scenario is maybe just falling short of a Wild Card spot as they’re not going to be any worse than fifth in the division. The Sharks aren’t likely to contend for a division title in 2017-18 but they should still be in the think of the playoff race, either for the last guaranteed Pacific spot or one of the Wild Cards.
Harry Goldman: If The NHLPA Opts Out Of CBA After The 2019-20 Season, Do You Think There Will Be A Lockout? If “YES” How Long?
I think you’re being generous classifying this as if and not when the NHLPA opts out as things currently stand. Between the rapidly escalating escrow situation and the Olympic snafu, it’s going to happen. Unfortunately, considering the last two CBA talks have resulted in lockouts, there’s a good chance there will be another one when that time comes.
As for how long it will be, a lot will depend on whether the two sides are going to be looking to change the 50/50 split (at least on paper) of hockey related revenue, or HRR. If they agree to keep it as is, that’s one big element that will be out of the equation that was there before. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are discussions as to how to redefine or reclassify certain parts of HRR that could complicate things a bit even if they keep the current split intact.
In terms of other stuff that will be on the table, escrow and the Olympics will undoubtedly be areas that the NHLPA will want addressed while it wouldn’t be surprising to see the league try to put caps on no-trade or no-move clauses, term limits, and maybe even restricting the amount of signing bonuses permitted in a standard contract on the table to avoid contracts like the ones that Carey Price and Connor McDavid, among others, have signed lately.
If you’re looking for anything optimistic to hang your hat on, consider that the US television deal may be in play at this time as they’ll be within one year of the current deal with NBC expiring. It’s not practical business sense to not have games being played when you’re trying to get a new TV deal, especially with the expectation that rights fees across the sporting landscape are likely to drop.
It doesn’t seem like much progress gets made in CBA talks until there’s a work stoppage so it’s reasonable to expect one to happen. However, I don’t think it will be as long as the last two – maybe a couple of months but not enough to cancel an entire season like 2004-05.
Erik Jernigan: I feel that the Hurricanes still need to acquire a top line center. Do you see any other options that may be available since it doesn’t seem like a Duchene deal will ever happen?
You can make a case that many teams still need to acquire a top line center but Carolina isn’t in bad shape at all with Viktor Rask, Elias Lindholm, and Jordan Staal. If they were to keep Lindholm down the middle permanently, that’s a pretty strong trio with the first two still having some offensive upside. There isn’t a true number one but you could make a case they have three number twos and not many teams have that type of depth. They could use more offensive help for sure but I don’t think GM Ron Francis would need to limit his focus to the center position.
In terms of notable names besides Matt Duchene (who some teams view as a second liner and not a top liner now) being available, there really aren’t any that spring to mind. Toronto and Tyler Bozak could be one to watch at some point if they intend to move William Nylander back to center long-term but he’s a rental. Everyone wants John Tavares but the likelihood of the Islanders moving him now is remote and he’s also a rental. I wonder if the Jets will be able to afford to keep Bryan Little around long-term but he too is a pending UFA and that decision could be punted until closer to the trade deadline depending on where they are in the standings.
Legitimate number one centers with team control rarely become available and Duchene is probably the most prominent pivot that could move before the season starts. Beyond him, the opportunity for upgrading at that position may have to wait until midseason depending on which rental players may be available.
Connorsoxfan: Is Boston going to have to add a vet like Vanek/Jagr/Stafford, or are they content relying on young guys like Bjork and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlson/Carlson (I forget the spelling) to fill out the top 9?
The answer may ultimately depend on what happens with the David Pastrnak discussions. How much money does GM Don Sweeney want to keep around for in-season moves? If Pastrnak comes in at a deal smaller than Brad Marchand (eight years, $49MM) which is what both sides had talked about earlier, then there should be enough wiggle room to add a more proven veteran. If it comes in higher though, they may not have enough room left in their ‘slush fund’ to sign someone of note and still have enough money left for during the season.
I think the team is content with using some of their talented prospects in their top nine if they need to. If it was me in charge though, I’d be looking to sign one of those veterans. Injuries always happen and young players can struggle so why not have that extra help in place beforehand rather than potentially being forced to trade from a position of weakness during the season? With Drew Stafford’s market in particular not going anywhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s offered a cheap one-year deal. He played well enough down the stretch for them that he’d be worth keeping around in some capacity.
I think there will be a time where GM David Poile moves one of his top-four defenders. However, I don’t think it happens this season. The earlier acquisition of Alexei Emelin gives them the security blanket of being able to move him into a second pairing role if injuries arise. If they move one of their better ones now, Emelin becomes a full-time top-four player which isn’t ideal.
Nashville has quite a few promising young blueliners including Dante Fabbro and Samuel Girard, among several others. They could dangle one of those prospects to a rebuilding team to try and find a replacement for Neal that way. I think that would be the better way to go as that would allow them to keep their top two pairings intact.
A few years from now when some of these youngsters are NHL ready is when I could see one of their big four defenders getting dealt. If they have intentions of making another long playoff run in 2017-18 though, they’ll need that back end at full strength so dealing from that to fill their offensive void fixes one hole but creates another that may be even harder to fix which would be counter-productive at best.