Ask Me Something: Which NHL group will make the boldest low season strikes?

14 minutes read

The Ask Me Something Mailbag is again after a protracted layoff, and I thanks, readers, for blitzing me with sufficient top-notch questions that I might’ve included 20 right here. I pared the record down to 5, primarily waiting for the low season but additionally addressing the elephant – or zebra – within the room.
Bobby Callahan @Space_Cowboy_19 asks…
What are your odds for the New Jersey Devils taking Kaapo Kakko first general?
The thought of Kakko being a legit risk to steal Jack Hughes’ No. 1 general draft standing is nothing just like the fake, clickbaity chatter in 2016 touting Patrik Laine as a possible first-overall choose over Auston Matthews. The discuss is for actual this time. Jack Hughes initiatives as a franchise-changing participant – suppose Patrick Kane, however as a middle – but so does Kakko.
Engaged on a narrative about Kakko, which yow will discover right here, for our 2019 Draft Preview journal, I spoke together with his two most up-to-date coaches, Jussi Ahokas from the 2019 gold-medallist Finnish world-junior squad and Kalle Kaskinen, coach of TPS, Kakko’s Finnish professional membership group. You at all times count on coaches to gush about their very own prospects, however their reverence for Kakko went past the norm.
“He’s a greater skater than Mikko Rantanen at that age, I’ve to say,” Ahokas stated. “I’ve seen them each at that age, and he’s really a significantly better skater than Mikko was. They’ve actually good hockey sense, however Kappo can be somewhat bit forward of what Mikko was at that time in his profession. “
“I might mix Peter Forsberg and Auston Matthews,” Kaskinen stated with amusing. “He’s not a bully, however he’s actually happy with who he’s, and he needs to be the most effective, and he exhibits it each shift. Possibly that’s nearer to Forsberg. Forsberg, Saku Koivu and Auston Matthews. That’s how I’d put the mixture.”
Wow. What reward. I can’t keep in mind a prospect as beloved by his coaches as Kakko. Kaskinen calls him the most effective Finn he’s ever seen within the Liiga at that age – forward of Mikael Granlund and Aleksander Barkov. Kakko is huge, sturdy, mature defensively for his age and able to ragging the puck within the offensive zone. He completely initiatives to succeed in the NHL subsequent season. It’s a digital certainty.
Kakko can be a proper winger. Ray Shero has been an NHL GM for 12 drafts between Pittsburgh and New Jersey. He’s taken a ahead together with his first choose seven occasions, and he selected a middle six of these occasions. He added Jordan Staal to the Penguins’ core of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Shero’s first three Devils first-rounders had been Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod and Nico Hischier. Heart, heart, heart. Shero believes in constructing groups up the center. I thus count on the Devils to take Jack Hughes first general, not as a result of Kakko isn’t worthy, however as a result of their GM clearly favors facilities over wingers when breaking a tie between two draft candidates shut in talent.
Curtis Mankewich (@CurtisSaysThis) asks…
What the heck occurs in Winnipeg?
The Jets discover themselves in an low season quagmire. They entered 2017-18 carrying huge expectations – together with a predicted Stanley Cup win from us – following a 114-point marketing campaign and Western Convention ultimate berth. However the group simply by no means fairly received off the bottom in 2018-19, eh? Patrik Laine couldn’t discover his scoring contact, the Jets not often iced a completely wholesome lineup and goalie Connor Hellebuyck regressed when going through a better diploma of shot issue than final 12 months’s with the protection in entrance of him springing leaks.
Theoretically, a group in its Stanley Cup rivalry window should act decisively to get again on monitor this low season, however GM Kevin Cheveldayoff faces many difficult selections. The only is signing RFA Kyle Connor to a long-term extension, but it surely gained’t be low cost after his consecutive 30-goal campaigns. May he crack a $7-million AAV given Nikolaj Ehlers earns $6 million? Then there’s the Laine resolution. After he regressed to 30 targets and 50 factors, may his camp be extra concerned with a bridge contract, hoping he explodes throughout that point like Nikita Kucherov did and may ink a monster-money extension a couple of years from now? It wouldn’t be the worst concept for each side. Then you’ve Jacob Trouba, an RFA once more after going to arbitration final 12 months, who has clearly earned an enormous long-term pact within the vary of, say, Aaron Ekblad’s eight 12 months, $60-million deal. Given Trouba’s historical past of contentious negotiations and former commerce request, nonetheless, he might wind up dealt. Josh Morrissey is eligible to signal an extension this July, too, since he’s a 2020 RFA.
So Cheveldayoff should take care of his RFAs, which can eat up tens of hundreds of thousands of cap-space , earlier than determining the UFAs. Kevin Hayes was a pleasant trade-deadline match as a middle-six heart however, like Paul Stastny final 12 months, seemingly finally ends up a cap casualty. Grinder Brandon Tanev might face an analogous destiny after a profession 12 months. Each guys really feel like luxuries. Given the premium on right-handed defensemen, Tyler Myers will get loads of profitable affords on the open market, too. He’ll be costly to maintain, but when the Jets don’t maintain him, who replaces him?
The Jets don’t strike me as a group that can have a lot wiggle room, as a result of they’ve a lot to determine with their free brokers. They as a substitute might should be that proficient group that hopes to enhance from inside, which is totally believable, by the best way. Laine can be higher, younger heart Jack Roslovic continues to be ascending, and the Jets might get contributions from left winger Kristian Vesalainen and defenseman Sami Niku subsequent 12 months, too, if the correct spots open up on the depth chart. If there’s a serious transfer to count on from the Jets apart from re-signing guys, it’s a Trouba commerce, which seems like higher than a 50/50 guess to occur.
Jeff Putnam (@Putsky88) asks…
Which group would be the most energetic with trades, transactions, buyout and many others. main as much as the draft in Vancouver?
The Nashville Predators went from Stanley Cup ultimate to Presidents’ Trophy to first-round exit over the previous three seasons and, after giving his group a vote of confidence with minimal modifications final low season, GM David Poile ought to be aggressive this time. Don’t be shocked if he swings a serious commerce to interrupt up the blueline Huge 4 of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and P.Okay. Subban, with Subban the likeliest identify to go for causes I outlined right here.
However the group I count on to be probably the most energetic of all? It’s the one rumored as a possible commerce accomplice with the Preds, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Basic supervisor Jim Rutherford is a great man and certain sees that his Penguins, after being swept in Spherical 1 of the playoffs, resemble the 2017 Blackhawks, a top-heavy, star-studded empire that started to crumble, received swept in Spherical 1 and ended up with two straight playoff misses after that. Sidney Crosby turns 32 in August. He confirmed this season he’s nonetheless an elite participant, however he solely has so many prime seasons left. To offer Pittsburgh one other shot on the Stanley Cup within the Crosby period, Rutherford should (a) make main strikes to improve his group instantly or (b) intentionally weaken his group by dumping a star for futures in hopes of shortly replenishing Pittsburgh’s farm system, which is the league’s most barren, and offering some higher-upside reinforcements to affix Crosby in a 12 months or two. Chicago appears to be trying choice (b), constructing round a brand new core of Alex DeBrincat, Adam Boqvist, Dylan Strome and Henri Jokiharju, which could ascend shortly sufficient to make that group related once more whereas Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have good years left.
Whichever path Rutherford chooses – reload, retool, rebuild – it ought to a busy one involving blockbuster offers, as a result of the Penguins have just about no cap house. Phil Kessel is clearly the highest commerce candidate, however not even Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin are secure at this level. Crosby is the one Penguin assured to remain put. Rutherford has at all times been one of many league’s boldest GMs, making 38 trades since taking the job in Pittsburgh 5 years in the past, so there’s no method he stands pat with a group that upset a lot in 2018-19.
Jorge (@JorgeQ1974) asks…
Hey Matt, who do you suppose are the seemingly Leaf gamers to be traded or not re-signed, and who or what kind of participant might the Leafs be concerned with choosing up this summer season through commerce or free company? Cheers.
Hey Jorge. The Leafs, just like the Tampa Bay Lightning, are just about in Cap Hell this low season. Hey, that’s a great downside, because it’s the results of having good gamers who’ve earned good cash: specifically, RFA wingers Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.
“All people is aware of our state of affairs,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas stated Friday over the telephone. “We’ve received three restricted free brokers up entrance which might be necessary not simply within the brief time period however the long run, as a result of they’re comparatively younger guys. You’ve received Andreas who’s 24, ‘Kappy’ can be turning 23, and Mitch simply turned 22. So that you’ve received these guys that we wish to lock up as a result of we see them as essential core items of our group.”
So with the RFAs paramount, the Leafs aren’t more likely to be aggressive gamers within the UFA market this summer season. The 2019 class is forward-heavy anyway, and whereas some huge, bodily belongings comparable to Micheal Ferland could be tempting, the Leafs’ clear want for right-side defensive assist trumps that. They will’t afford to chase Erik Karlsson, and one of many high three choices is their very own probably-gone lefty Jake Gardiner, that means the one UFA blueliner that might theoretically attraction to the Leafs can be Tyler Myers. However Toronto doesn’t have the cap house to land a giant and even medium-sized UFA fish for “merely cash.” The best way to seek out the upgrades they want must be the commerce route, as it might allow them to ship cash the opposite method in a deal.
So who can be the commerce piece for Toronto to maneuver? Neglect any discuss of Marner. I don’t imagine any of the hypothesis about him getting dealt. If we’re taking a look at lower-end items that might release a little bit of cap house, Connor Brown may make sense. He’s been relegated primarily to checking-line obligation, that means his $2.1-million AAV isn’t a lot of a cut price anymore relative to position, however he might play larger within the lineup on a weaker group. The Leafs might transfer Brown and provides, say, Jeremy Bracco an opportunity to crack the lineup subsequent 12 months.
Nonetheless, if Toronto needs to get what it actually wants – a right-shot, top-pair defenseman within the vein of Jacob Trouba, Dougie Hamilton or Colton Parayko – it has to maneuver a much bigger piece. May or not it’s Kapanen or Johnsson? We will’t say for positive, and Dubas’ best-case situation is to clearly to maintain each, however he did level out to me one thing necessary about Johnsson’s standing.
“He was a restricted free agent final 12 months and took his qualifying supply, so he’s arbitration eligible now, which implies there can be a decision,” Dubas stated. “It gained’t be lengthy and drawn out. By the top of July, we’ll have an answer to his standing a method or one other, whether or not that’s a negotiated settlement or whether or not the arbiter declares what his price is. And no matter what the end result of the summer season is for him, he’s a participant that we strongly worth. “
As a result of Johnsson’s contract state of affairs, as Dubas explains, has a transparent decision timeline, you possibly can make a case Johnsson is extra seemingly than Kapanen to stay a Leaf, as there’s nonetheless the likelihood Kapanen leads to the identical boat as William Nylander with a prolonged negotiation.
Nonetheless, after what transpired with Nazem Kadri for a second consecutive post-season and, given his inexpensive $four.5-million cap hit, it wouldn’t be an enormous shock if he was the Leaf who ended up dealt. Nylander, whose cap hit is available in at slightly below $7 million, can be the most effective participant to maneuver from a monetary standpoint, however Dubas has insisted he gained’t commerce him.
Lengthy story brief: we all know the Leafs want a right-shot blueliner, however the RFAs are their first precedence. As soon as these contracts – on the very least Marner’s – are sorted, Dubas can flip his consideration to chasing that D-man. The guess right here is that it’s going to require buying and selling Brown plus one of many group’s core secondary forwards from the group of Johnsson, Kapanen, Kadri and Nylander
Justin Dabiri @JDabiri13) asks…
The NFL requires video evaluate for all scoring performs and performs below two minutes left. Ought to the NHL have a look at some model of this setup for his or her sport, and if that’s the case – what would that seem like? (i.e. all OT targets topic to video affirmation earlier than official)
Hello Justin. Replay has weighed closely on seemingly each hockey individual’s thoughts all spring throughout what has been, let’s face it, an embarrassingly unhealthy post-season for the officers. It’s clear one thing has to vary.
Final-minute sales space critiques, a-la NFL, can be attention-grabbing in that they’d make sure the calls are made appropriately on essential late-game performs such because the Timo Meier hand cross in extra time this week. But when by “sales space evaluate” on this case we’re substituting “calling up Toronto,” then assured critiques on all scoring performs, particularly within the common season, would create a little bit of chaos within the NHL’s Toronto warfare room, the place the hockey-operations employees watch each sport concurrently. Getting requires case-by-case critiques is one factor, however critiques on each late-game scoring play may require the league so as to add further employees to its warfare room to deal with the quantity (image, for example, a busy Saturday evening with a ton of East-Coast video games ending at roughly the identical time and each sport needing critiques for the late targets).
One other downside, as properly defined by Michael Rand of Minnesota Star-Tribune this week, is the fallacy of assigning further worth to all late-game incidents when, actually, each missed name at each level in a sport has potential to have an effect on the end result.
It’s additionally a slippery slope, as my pal Michael Traikos at Publish-Media factors out in mild of Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour’s feedback this week. When you evaluate hand passes, why not main penalties? If majors, why not minors? What about icings? And so forth. It’s attention-grabbing that each one the hand wringing over officiating in these playoffs has drowned out what was a reasonably regular stream of complaints over the previous couple years about offside critiques slowing down the sport. Expanded replay critiques would exacerbate that downside.
If it had been as much as me? Do away with all offside critiques and substitute them with critiques solely on main penalties to stop conditions the Golden Knights-Sharks Recreation 7. I’m skeptical that the following GM conferences will yield a serious change, nonetheless.
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Tags: nashville predators, new jersey devils, information, nhl, nhl draft, officiating, pittsburgh penguins, prospects, stanley cup playoffs, toronto maple leafs, winnipeg jetsConnect: In regards to the AuthorMatt LarkinMatt Larkin is a senior author at The Hockey Information and has been a part of the group since 2011. He is your one-stop store for deep-dive participant interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy participant rankings, participant security and hair suggestions. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey Information Dwell and The Hockey Information Podcast.

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