Thoughts from around the league

Will Kevin Hayes be celebrating as much next year?
Will Kevin Hayes be celebrating as much next year?

In addition to checking on the teams in the Metropolitan we’re going to take a look at general league goings on as we’re in the middle of hockey summer and as we eventually approach the pre-season. So, without further delay…

Unsustainable shooting percentage

Starting with some Rangers stuff (hey, we’re a Ranger blog after all). Having looked at the shooting percentages, Kevin Hayes (15.3%) will be an interesting follow next year as his shooting % is surely unsustainable. Offensively Hayes finished the regular season on fire but can he repeat his numbers, can he kick on offensively or, given a likely shooting percentage regression, will his numbers take a dip?

Bernier lowballed by the Leafs.

Even during an offseason where the Leafs did so much right (some solid hires, a decent free agency, moving Kessel, grabbing Mitch Marner etc.) they manage to dumfound at least once. If the hiring of Lou Lamoriello wasn’t confusing enough, the decision to offer Jon Bernier the minimum allowed in arbitration is shocking. On a genuinely bad team Bernier was solid last year (.912S%, 21 wins). He hasn’t become the goalie many anticipated (yet) but Toronto’s treatment of their best goaltending asset doesn’t make much sense.

Bruins and Habs to meet in Winter Classic

Well, maybe Tom Brady can sit rinkside on New Year’s Day if he’s not playing football? The Bruins and Canadiens will face off on January first at Gillette Stadium in an original six outdoor classic. The Bruins become the first team to host the event twice (well done, Mr Jacobs) and the league continues to keep the outdoor focus in the Northeast, rightly or wrongly.

Prediction Time I: Marc Staal will score 20 points next season despite the presence of McDonagh, Yandle and Boyle.

Brandon Sutter to the Canucks, Pens continue to retool

Do the Penguins continue to operate under a different cap to the rest of the league? It appears to me they’re in constant buying mode. Anyway, clearly intent on loading up for a run, the Pens grabbed Eric Fehr on a solid 3 year, 6m deal and sent Brandon Sutter and a 3rd rd. pick to the Canucks for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a 2nd. The Pens win this deal because they added depth in Bonino and Fehr. They moved out some cap while getting the better of the picks in the trade and they would never have been able to afford to retain Sutter in a year’s time anyway. Solid asset management. One thing is for sure, the Pens are going to score a lot of goals next summer. Can they stop them?

Kreider to shoot more?

Chris Kreider averaged a little above two shots per game last season with 2.25 per game. He had 180 shots in 80 games. With Kreider surely assuming a larger role next year, there’s a real opportunity for a huge breakout season. Jeff Gorton would be well advised to get a new deal done sooner rather than later as Kreider could get very expensive very quickly.

For those of you that are pining for some Cam Talbot, check out the TSN link here on CT discussing learning from the great Henrik Lundqvist as well as joining Edmonton.

Bye Bye Zubrus

The Devils are buying out Dainius Zubrus. Zubrus, who seemingly has been around since time began (19 years so, not far off) is a marginal NHL’er at this stage of his career and it was a move the Devils had to make. They desperately need a re-boot. How old is Zubrus? The last team he played for before he entered the NHL was the Pembroke Lumber Kings, in the CJHL. Exactly…

Prediction Time II: The Rangers will have five players who eclipse fifty points: Nash, Zuccarello, Stepan, Brassard and Chris Kreider.

Core kids re-upping

Two contract signings of note this week saw the Flyers’ Sean Couturier sign up for another six years and 26m while Colin Wilson and the Preds agreed on a four year pact for a shade under 4m per. Couturier hasn’t become the offensive force people expected but he’s a solid defensive center that started to emerge offensively last year.

Wilson has also been a slow grower but with 20 goals for the first time last year, Wilson is slowly getting to the kind of numbers expected of a top ten draft pick. These two signings continue the league trend of teams’ committing more up front and earlier than ever before to players and paying less for production and more for upside.

Arbitration likely

One rising star from last year was Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman who potted 27 goals and had 48 points in a fine rookie year. He did most of his damage at even strength and averaged less than 15 minutes per game.  Well, he wants to get paid as Hoffman is demanding double want the Sens are offering according to reports. With the Sens never being a team that spends to the cap, Hoffman’s is a situation many teams will monitor closely.

See you next week peeps…


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  • I’m only going to comment on The Rangers topics

    Hayes? His shot percentage may go down…. but maybe not? He doesn’t shoot many low percentage shots. He holds on to the puck until there’s either a perfect pass or a perfect shot. It’s his greatest strength and his biggest weakness as sometimes I feel he holds on to the puck too much. If his shot percentage goes down it’ll be because he’s shooting more which…. more pucks to the net is always a good thing.

    As for Kreider, my hopes are that his linemates will be Stepan and Hayes. With those two play makers, he SHOULD be the one taking the shot

    • Not even the best players in the league shoot 15%, it will regress. However, if he takes more shots, we still may see an uptick in goals.

    • I’m a big fan of Stepan centering Kreider and Miller, and Brassard centering Nash and Zucc. I’m not sure they move Hayes to the wing. I think he’s still better suited for the third line centering Fast and Stalberg or Etem. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with playing in center ice, and he handled it very well in his rookie season.

      • Lindberg is a natural center, and very responsible at that. Hayes is better suited for the wing, and can really become a nice closer for us. I have to disagree on this one !!!!!!!!!!!

      • Lindbergh is a natural center, very responsible at that as well. Hayes is better suited for the wing, and can become a nice closer for us. I have to disagree with you on this one !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Prediction II

    I agree with your 5, but also think Hayes will score 50. He had 45 points last season and he made a lot of improvement during the season, so he should improve on his point total in my opinion.

    • Rangers have the potential to be a very high scoring team this year.

      I think they were 3rd in goals last year, and that was with a hot and cold PP. If, and it’s an if we have been talking about forever, if the Rangers PP becomes a consistent force, the Rangers could be the top scoring team in the NHL. That would mean 5 and possibly 6 (Yandle) players eclipsing the 50 point mark.

  • The Pens are still a disaster. They have only $3M in cap space left and lack a checking line and a legitimate 2nd D pair. I imagine Kunitz and his almost $4M cap hit is the next guy out the door if they can find a sucker to take him.

    Fleury is going to hurt his back from spinning around every five minutes to pick another puck out of his net.

  • Ranger Topics

    While we have potential to score more goals, we have not added anyone (not a rookie) who we can expect to fill the void left by MSL and Hags. Our PP needs to be better and we need a healthy Zucc. I am worried that if Zucc still has some issues and can’t play the “Zucc game”, we might have more scoring issues.

    Will Nash score the same? Stepan should put more in, but JT, Hayes and Etem are still question marks. The sophomore jinx hopefully wont hit them.

    • The void from MSL will be filled by the continued growth of Miller, Hayes, and Kreider. If you assume that MSL’s diminishing skills adversely affected the PP as well, then you should see some better returns there.

      A full season of Yandle will also play a prominent role at PP and ES in the F scoring.

      • Fact – 30+ goals from last year not on the 2015-2016 roster
        Supposition – Miller, Hayes & Kreider will pick up the slack
        Supposition – Yandle makes the PP better next year when he didn’t improve it in the games he played last year.

        We can all hope for the best, but we need to have talent (history of goal scoring), not potential scoring

        • Because no player ever in the history of the NHL has scored more goals in one season than they had in the previous season?

          I don’t mean to sound like a jerk but you make it sound like no one ever improves year to year.

          Also, who’s to say Nash scores 41 again this year? Maybe he only pots 30? So is that another 11 goals that need to be made up?

  • I think Etem will have a good year. Offensive players don’t produce on a fourth line. I think he’ll surprise a lot of people. I don’t think he’ll be a force, but he’ll prove he was a better player than Anaheim thought he was.

      • Bottom line – Boudreau didn’t think Etem was very good.

        More often than not, there is a good reason, but sometimes the old coach just got it wrong. My suspicion is that getting Etem was an error, but hopefully Sather got it right.

  • The key to next year is balance. Balance provides resilience in the case of injuries. Also balanced scoring is paramount in playoff hockey. This last edition did not have an answer when Zucc went down. That surprised me a bit. We also were inferior to the team from the previous year on the fourth line. B Boyle and Dom had some wonderful chemistry that year.

    Gorton seems to have a bead on things, but does AV? Love his system for the regular season. If Lindberg plays 4th and Etem 3rd I will be looking forward to the playoffs.

    If Kane’s collarbone doesn’t heal there goes your cup winner. I think making a conference final is a suitable goal any year. Do that enough and you’ll win a cup.

  • Today being the 30th, the only choice for the best to wear that number has to be Hank!!!! End of discussion……..

    Second would be John Davidson, and third would be Giles Villemure, 1971 Vesina winner along with Eddie Eddie !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We had quite a few very good players with this number, but these are my choices for the best …………

      • Hats off to Chris “Knuckles” Nilan as well. Loved watching this guy patrol the ice in a #30 blueshirt for a few years.

    • I’m with ya Walt. Hank is KING! In the last 20 years alone, some great goaltenders have worn #30 with great success and longevity. Guys like Brodeur 22yrs, Belfour 18 yrs, Osgood 18yrs, Vernon 20 yrs and Barrasso 22 yrs stood the test of time. Hank, at the midway point of his career has posted some AMAZING numbers, and I look forward to him setting up shop in the MSG crease for another 10 years. Next Stop……. Hockey Hall Of Fame

  • Regarding Hayes, while it is true that his SH% of 15.3% is rather unsustainable, the reason his SH% was so high to begin with, in my opinion, was probably his tendency to hold on to the puck so long looking for the perfect opportunity. He was overly cautious with his shot selections, so much so that he ranked last among all NYR forwards who played a full season with only 111 shots on goals.

    With that in mind, as his confidence continues to grow (he’s already shown a he leap in confidence) I suspect he’ll be shooting much more, which should somewhat offset the regression of his SH%. 111 shots at 15.3% isn’t any better than 185 shots at 10%.

    • I think this is a valid point. While he prides himself as a good skater, sometimes the right play is to throw a shot at the net and hope for a rebound or re-direction.

      • Like that Hayes / Dom Moore goal in game 1 (I think) of the ECF. Dwaning minutes of the 3rd. Mean Hayes cycle, puck thrown at the net, off D Moores shin and in.

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