It has been an unbelievable season for Elias Pettersson and this just adds onto his already storied rookie season. Pettersson has been the number one guy in Vancouver all season and has been paired perfectly with one of the best shooters in the NHL, Brock Boeser. There is only good things to come in Vancouver with Pettersson’s play-making ability and vision plus Boeser’s shot the two will be causing nightmares for NHL goalies for years to come.
On the year Pettersson has 27 goals and 34 assists which securely puts him as the highest scoring Canucks rookie in franchise history. Pettersson has 61 points surpassing Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka for possession of first place among rookie points in Canucks franchise.
To say it has been a slow month for Pettersson is crazy also, in his 8 games this month he only has 5 points. I say only because in the previous four months he played plus four games in January he has been a point per game or better player.
Pettersson had 10 points in eight October games, 12 points in fourteen November games, 17 points in fourteen December games, 6 points in four January games, 11 points in fourteen February games and now 5 points in eight March games.
There is only up from here for Pettersson he has the making to be a Hart Trophy and Art Ross trophy finalist for sure. He has 61 points right now and 62 games in, with 10 games to play we can assume he will finish anywhere between 65-70 points. Which will put him 8th among rookie scoring since 1998.
Not many players can say they reached 700 points in their NHL career, let alone played enough games to reach this milestone. Still, these two Jeff Carter and John Tavares reached the 700-point marker in their NHL careers just a day apart.
Jeff Carter reached career point number 700 with an assist in Saturday’s game vs the Panthers. Carter has played in 969 NHL games, collecting 362 goals and 300 assists at the age of 34-years-old. Drafted 1st round 11th overall in 2003 by the Philadelphia Flyers, Carter spent six seasons with Philadelphia until he was shipped to Columbus in 2011 off-season. Where he played just 39 games for the Blue Jackets until he was sent to Los Angeles mid-way through the season to help the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2011-12 and again in 2013-14. Carter has now been with L.A. for 7.5 seasons. And unless something changes he will earn his 1000th NHL game with the Kings and finish his time out in L.A. as he is signed until 2022. By 2022 he will be 37-years-old.
John Tavares also earned his 700th NHL point with a goal and an assist in Toronto’s loss to Ottawa Saturday night. Tavares notched also his 40th goal of the season the first time in his career he has tallied 40 in a season. Along with point number 79 in just 72 games this season. Tavares has played in 741 NHL games collecting 700 NHL points, a 0.94 point per game over his career. Tavares has 312 goals and 388 assists in his career. Drafted first overall in 2009 by the New York Islanders and recently leaving the Island this off-season to move back home. As much criticism as Tavares has faced this season he is en route to a hall-of-fame career. At 28-years of age with already 700 points and 741 games it is only likely to assume that Tavares will reach 1000 games and 1000 points in his career.
Matt Duchene: Since Duchene has came to the Blue Jackets he has been a little quite and so have the Blue Jackets. Since coming to the Jackets Feb. 22 Duchene has 2 goals and 3 assists. He recorded two points on February 23rd and since then he has recorded 1 goal and 2 assists in nine games…
Ryan Dzingel: Also a member of the Senators who was sent to Columbus for a playoff push/Stanley Cup run has been better than Duchene actually. Since coming to Blue Jackets Dzingel has 1 goal and 5 assists in 9 games. Better production compared to Duchene certainly.
Mark Stone: Stone was the big deadline acquisition. Coming to Vegas on February 25th the team has been not only playing better since he arrived but Stone has been a big help it seems too. Stone has 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. The Golden Knights are 6-1 with Stone.
Mikael Granlund: This was a trade that came out of left field sort of. The Predators sent over young Kevin Fiala for a more seasoned Granlund. Both play similar styles but Granlund has a bit more experience and the edge over Fiala. Granlund joined the Predators on March 1st. Since then he has 1 goal and 3 assists in 6 games. The Predators since acquiring Granlund are 3-3 through six games.
Kevin Fiala: Fiala was apart of the Granlund trade a 1 for 1 deal that left some confused. Fiala is only 22-years-old and already has some experience in the playoffs. Since joining the Wild on February 25th, Fiala has 2 goals, they also came in the same game. He has 2 points in 8 games and no points in seven of them. The Wild are also 3-5 since acquiring Fiala.
Charlie Coyle: The Coyle trade was a bit of surprise for some fans as the Bruins swapped out their young prospect Ryan Donato for a struggling Charlie Coyle. Since coming to the Bruins on February 20th Coyle has played in 10 games adding 1 goal and 1 assist. The Bruins are 7-4 since adding Coyle.
Ryan Donato: Apart of the Coyle deal, Donato was sent to Minnesota and has enjoyed his time there it seems. He was not seeing regular minutes in Boston like he is Minnesota. Therefore the young forward has thrived. Donato has 2 goals and 7 assists in 11 games. Also to note he had 2 goals and 5 assists in his first five-games with Minnesota.
Wayne Simmonds: Simmonds was another deadline deal for the Predators and another forward who bolstered their already deep roster and make their power play even more of a threat. Simmonds tough and gritty style is much needed when it comes playoff time. Simmonds has played in 7 games with the Predators and only has one assists so far. The Predators are also 3-4 since adding both Granlund and Simmonds.
Kevin Hayes: The Jets big deadline acquisition was adding depth down the middle and to their already stacked offense. Hayes was enjoying a career year in New York. He was sent to Winnipeg at the deadline and has played in 8 games, in those eight games he has 2 goals and 2 assists. The Jets are also 4-4 since acquiring Hayes.
Jake Muzzin: Muzzin was not a deadline deal but was a big trade that was around the deadline time frame. He has spent already a month on the time and has played in 21 games for the Leafs. In those 21 games the Leafs are 13-6-2 in that span, Muzzin has 2 goals and 10 assists with a +5 rating.
Nick Bjugstad/Jared McCann: The two came as a package, that is why they are together. McCann has surprisingly been the more successful one in Pittsburgh but Bjugstad still has been of significance to the team. Bjugstad has 7 goals and 4 assists in 21 games. McCann has 9 goals and 4 assists in 21 games. McCann’s share has come in the last nine games where has collected 6 goals and four assists. Bjugstad’s production has been spread out pretty evenly during his time in Pittsburgh though.
Something a lot of fans do not talk about is Jake Guentzel. The 3rd round 77th overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Guentzel emerged in 2016-2017 when he scored 16 goals with 33 points in 40 games and continued his tear in the playoffs scoring 21 points in 25 games. The next season Guentzel scored 48 points, 22 goals in 82 games.
Since Guentzel emergence in the NHL he has been able to form a bond with captain Sidney Crosby and the two have been near inseparable since Guentzel joined Pittsburgh in 2016-17. Crosby and Guentzel had solid 2017-18 playoff runs but fell short. They struggled to find a third line mate all season but after the Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad trade it seems they have found their third partner to help rally the Penguins.
One thing a lot of people credit the Penguins success to is Sidney Crosby byt Jake Guentzel has certainly been the main focal point of that lines success or could be an argument for being a major contributor to that McCann-Crosby-Guentzel success.
This season a lot of people clearly knew about Guentzel after his amazing playoff appearances and first 40 games in the NHL. But, not many fans had him on their radar as a potential 40+ goal scorer. On the year Guentzel has 36 goals in 71 games along with 68 points. Since the emergence of Jared McCann Guentzel has been on-fire, along with McCann himself. Since the February 1st acquisition of McCann, Guentzel has 12 goals in 21 games. The two paired up only a few games ago and since McCann has moved on the line of Guentzel and Crosby the three have propelled the Penguins to a top-three divisional spot and now definite playoff contenders.
Guentzel has not received the necessary praise due to McCann catching fire plus anytime you play with Crosby it is hard to stand out. Since February 19th Guentzel has 8 goals and 6 assists over 12-games. McCann has 5 goals and 4 assists in 12 games and Crosby has 8 goals and 12 assists in 12-games. The HBK line that helped surge the Penguins to their 2015-16 Stanley Cup could be in the making once again, this time with Guentzel-Crosby-McCann. They do not have a witty name like the HBK line but this trio could possibly be a huge deal breaker for the Penguins come playoff time.
Right now the Penguins are looking to be playing the Islanders. Their first round will not be an easy opponent no matter what but with the veteran ship of the Penguins and now their offense finally starting to pick up they could be a force to be wrecking with come April…
The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is extremely close and looking to come down to the wire. As of now the Hurricanes have the first spot (83 pts), Blue Jackets second spot (81 pts) tied with Montreal (81 pts) with the Flyers at 76 points.
As of now there are 12 games remaining for the Blue Jackets and Canadiens, and 13 remaining for the Hurricanes and Flyers. Let’s take a look at each teams schedule.
The Hurricanes have 8 home games remaining and 5 away games remaining. The Hurricanes are 18-11-4 at home and 20-13-3 on the road. The host the Sabres, Penguins, Lightning, Wild, Canadiens, Capitals, Flyers and Devils. On the road vs the Blue Jackets, Capitals, Penguins, Leafs, Flyers. The Hurricanes play 8 playoff contending or definite playoff teams. They play two non-playoff teams (Devils, Sabres) in which they are 2-0 vs Buffalo and 1-2 vs New Jersey this season. Grading the Hurricanes strength of schedule one being easy, ten being difficult. We can probably agree on a 7.5/8 for them. The Lightning, Capitals, Penguins are top teams in the NHL. The Blue Jackets and Canadiens are going to be two blood bath games with the playoff implications it will hold. The Hurricanes can pull out 18 of the 26 potential points. Pushing them to 101 points on the season (around that mark of 99-101).
Columbus Blue Jackets have four home games remaining and seven away games remaining. The Blue Jackets 19-16-2 at home and 20-12-1 on the road. Clearly they play a lot better on the road, so seven road games may help. The Blue Jackets have Carolina, Boston, Flames, Edmonton, Islanders, Canadiens, Canucks, Nashville, Buffalo, Boston, Rangers, Ottawa. The Blue Jackets may have the easiest schedule of the four potential wild card teams. Columbus play five non-playoff teams and six playoff teams. Therefore the five non-playoff games should be a guaranteed two points at this point in the season. The Blue Jackets should definitely get 10 points there making it 91 on the season and probably pull out a few wins vs the playoff teams they play. Blue Jackets should finish with 100-102 points. There strength of schedule is a six.
Montreal has six road games and six home games remaining. The Canaidens have a 20-11-4 home record and 17-15-3 record on the road. The Canadiens play the Islanders, Blackhawks, Flyers, Islanders, Sabres, Hurricanes, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Jets, Lightning, Capitals, Leafs. The Canadiens have nine game vs playoff teams and three games vs non playoff teams. With potential of 24 points the Canadiens will take 12 points in my opinion possibly more. Pushing them to 93 points, they can probably get around 95-96 points but the Canadiens have a very tough schedule and have not been playing all that well lately. I would say they have a 8 strength of schedule, their non playoff teams they play are no slumps too which makes it more difficult.
Philadelphia Flyers have seven home games remaining and six road games remaining. They have a 18-13-4 home record and 16-14-4 road record. The Flyers play 10 playoff teams and three non-playoff teams. They play two extremely hot and hungry Western Conference teams at the end of the year and the Capitals two times, Penguins once and Rangers at the end of the year who will not go down lightly. The Flyers have a potential 26 points on the board. I see them taking possibly half of those points or more. I see the Flyers finishing with 96 points or less. They have the most difficult schedule for sure with a 8.5 strength of schedule. Plus they are already 5-7 points behind the two wild card teams right now therefore they will need to win 2-3 more games more than the other teams do which is not going to be easy.
Over the next month or so I will be covering (or attempting) to cover every NHL team and their off-season plan. Day by day as the season continues on there will be a new team out of playoffs.
The Ottawa Senators are officially out of the place, we all knew they were toast about 3 months ago but they are now officially declared out. Therefore it is back to the drawing board once again for the Senators.
Before we get into the mess in Ottawa, we have to look at the positives and negatives they do have though.
Negatives: A LOT
The Ottawa Senators currently have an interim head coach. With the firing of Guy Boucher, they are the 7th club to fire a head coach this season. Therefore the Senators laundry list of issues carry on. Who do they go after, or better yet who would want to come to Ottawa? The NHL is infamous for recycling coaches so we can expect to see a familiar name in the position perhaps.
A huge thorn in Ottawa’s side is that they do not own their first round pick this season, in which their first round pick is looking to be the first overall pick. Who may be Jack Hughes a projected top-3 forward in the making. Ether way if it is not first overall it will be a top-3 by the way things are looking and that will go to Colorado.
Bobby Ryan’s contract at 7.25 million a year for another three-years after this one definitely hurts. Ryan may be a good veteran for the team but clearly the direction the Senators are moving they seem to not care about experience in the locker room. A waste of 21+ million is never ideal in a rebuild situation.
The Senators may be losing Cody Ceci and as well know they have already lost Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene. Their three best players and the brightest spots on their roster. They have essentially an AHL team with 4-5 professionals and there roster does not look appealing to free-agents, rookies or fans for that matter.
Craig Anderson, sure the defense in front of him has not been great for the last two seasons but he is only getting older and worse it seems. And the Senators do not have anyone besides Andres Nilsson to really come in the goalie slot. Aside from the 20-year-old Filip Gustavsson, who is having a medicore year at best in the AHL and Marcus Hogberg, the Senators will need to trade for a goalie.
Senators management were in talks to receive a new facility in Ottawa downtown, that got put on hold and is now looks to be a slim chance they do receive one. The rink Ottawa plays at is 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa and 56 minutes by train. With the product they are putting on the ice, who would want to make that drive?
Positives: Young Defenseman & 2020 Draft
Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, Colin White, Brady Tkachuk, Chris Tierney, Alex Formenton, Logan Brown, Jonathan Davidsson, Maxime Lajoie, Rudolf Balcers. These are players on the Senators current roster or AHL roster that are realistically the only bright spot for the team at the moment and moving forward. Chabot + Brannstrom on the back end is exciting. Lajoie develops into a potential top-four defenseman you have a legitimate d-core now. Tkachuk is already showing he can be and will be a top-three forward in the NHL. Colin White is seeing regular minutes and when healthy and playing consistently has been a huge positive for this team.
Ottawa supposedly has the 13th ranked farm system in NHL (Aug 2018) rated by theathletic.com. That was rated in August 2018 and they received Brannstrom and other prospects so the Senators could be a potential top-10 farm system in the NHL which is a plus.
Aside from seven draft picks in 2019 the Senators do have a truck load in the 2020 draft as they currently have 12 picks. Seven of those 12 picks come in the first three rounds. Two in the 1st, three in the 2nd and two in the third.
Off-season plan: New coach, Free-Agents, New facility
Based on how the lottery works and where the Senators sit they could possibly not even have a first round pick this draft. The Senators do indeed get either the 1, 2, 3 overall pick the 1st round pick they got from Columbus will be a 2020 first round pick. Therefore, what is the Senators off-season plans?
Sign Colin White. Lock him up to a good contract and keep him in Ottawa. Sign Anthony Duclair too, you have nothing to lose. He is young, and will cost nothing but will provide a good outlet for younger players too.
Trade Cody Ceci, he is a 25-year-old defenseman who has registered 20+ points three times in his career. He has value and his better off on the block they coming back on 5 million dollar deal.
Go after low-risk free agents. Players like Gustav Nyquist, Cam Talbot, Andre Burakovsky, Michael Del Zotto, William Karlsson, Derek Brassard. Guys who you can bring for 2-3 years to help mentor and teach these young kids until they are ready for the NHL.
Start working on a new a facility for the 2020 season. The Senators will have 12 ( thirteen potentially) draft picks and 7 (eight potentially) in the first three rounds. Make sure you have something for those draft picks and next crop of talent coming into the organization to look forward too.
Get a young coach, take your time hiring a coach and find a coach like the New York Rangers did with David Quinn. Get a coach who is great with young players, possibly another top NCAA coach who can come in be a new face for the young players on your team.