Once again, I have a bunch of stuff I want to cover, so what better way to do than in point form?
So below are my 33 NHL thoughts.
1) Am I the only one that thinks the Habs didn’t do all that great at the draft? I understand a lot of people think they made out well, but I have some reservations.
2) Obviously, it appears is if Alex Galchenyuk was the best pick for the Habs at #3. But I have more concerns about then most people, it seems. Especially about his knee. When he came back from major knee surgery, he had only four points in six playoff games. Maybe he came back too soon. I don’t know. I hope he turns out to be a great player. But I’m just worried that knee will come back to haunt Habs fans. It reminds me a little too much of Gord Kluzak.
3) I understand the media need to write articles that get people talking, but I don’t understand the need to give draft grades two days after the draft. It makes no sense. Saying a team picked well is one thing, but to say a team deserves a C grade because they didn’t pick someone specific is a little silly.
4) Another worry for Habs fans: Over the draft, other Eastern conference teams got better, or addressed their needs. Philly got their defenceman. Toronto got their top-six forward. Carolina got their top-six forward. The Islanders got their powerplay specialist defenceman. Pittsburgh cleared cap space and got rid of a potential headache before it became a distraction. The Capitals got their second-line centre.
5) The Habs haven’t gotten better. Sure, the Habs may have drafted well, but that won’t help the team for a few more years. And the teams listed in the previous point, they drafted pretty well too. The current Habs team looks a lot like the one that just got manhandled during the season. With it being such a small free agent market, maybe there’s no help coming.
6) I don’t even think there’s much help coming via trade. Even though there are some stud players out there that may be rumoured to be dealt, the Habs don’t have enough depth or quality prospects to put together a package for one.
7) Remember when the Habs brass said they would make an effort to get more Quebec-born players on the team. The Habs drafted just one French player this year (Charles Hudon in the fifth round). I don’t think teams should draft players based on geographical location, but I found that to be pretty interesting.
8 ) That being said, if you believe the best player available is a local boy, then that’s a great thing. So good for the Ottawa Senators picking up Ottawa 67’s defenceman Cody Ceci at 15th overall. Great move.
9) The Leafs surprised me with their pick. I thought they would take Mikhail Grigorenko at the fifth spot. I figured they needed a top centre more than anything, since they already have three top defencemen. But I guess they liked defenceman Morgan Rielly better.
10) While Nail Yakupov should be a first overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers should be drafting according to need at this point. They’re already solid at forward for the next six years. It’s time to look at defence. But current players don’t want to go there, for the most part (Dany Heatley, Chris Pronger, etc.). The Oilers should be drafting potentially great defencemen, instead of more top forwards they won’t be able to keep in seven years. How do they plan on getting one if no one wants to play in Edmonton?
11) Some major players are still on the market. But it’s the same old thing. Teams want too much. Vancouver is asking too much for Roberto Luongo. When your options are limited with trading partners, you don’t really hold the cards in this hand.
12) Columbus is another one. They are asking too much for Rick Nash. Apparently, the Sens are offering Nick Foligno, Mika Zibanejad and Ben Bishop. And the Bluejackets are still saying no. Besides the fact they get a top forward prospect and a top goaltending prospect, what else do they need?
13) The longer teams wait to deal a player, the less the return will be. Look at Luongo. Teams that may have been looking for a goalie (such as Tampa) are looking elsewhere for cheaper options. That lowers the demand, which in turn, should lower the asking price.
14) Bobby Ryan is on the on trade block as well. This is the only player mentioned that I think the Habs should go after. But after years of bad signings, horrible trades and not-so-good drafting, what can the Habs seriously offer for Ryan? Not much.
15) Buffalo did really well at the draft. Very underrated. They landed Mikhail Grigorenko at the 12th spot, and Zemgus Girgensons 14th. Very solid first round.
16) Calgary’s first round pick baffled me. No offence to Mark Jankowski, but why trade down in the draft to pick up a prospect that will be a major project? Calgary doesn’t have a lot of good prospects, and their farm system is weak. That’s not a team that should be taking on a project.
17) Biggest fall? Nick Ebert. Apparently, last fall, many had him projected to be a top five pick, or top 10. Somehow he became the last pick overall. He didn’t have a bad enough year to fall to #211. Copper and Blue, an Oilers site, does an excellent job on talking about why he fell, and how many teams may have misjudged based on one bad year.
18) How do the Habs leave a draft where everyone is talking about needing puck-moving defencemen, and we still have Tomas Kaberle? Someone would have given up something small for him. After all, three general managers have been stupid enough to acquire him in the past 18 months. That leaves another 27 general managers. One of them should be willing to take a chance that he can help the powerplay.
19) Apparently, the Islanders offered every one of their picks in this year’s draft to Columbus for the second overall pick, based on the criterium that Yakupov would be there at #2 (many other reports have it being Ryan Murray). Columbus said no. Not sure how they could have turned that down. I’m even less sure on why the Islanders would have offered it.
20) How does Columbus general manager Scott Howson still have a job? After last season’s debacle, losing out on the original Jeff Carter deal, not getting a suitable replacement for Steve Mason, screwing up the Rick Nash trade derby, etc. The guy makes mistake after mistake after mistake.
21) The latest mistake? Why would Columbus take a defenceman at number two? It makes no sense to me. They have a pretty good defensive core, and would have been better served getting a top forward to replace the soon-to-be-departing Nash.
22) How does Matt Duchene sign for so cheap in Colorado? He’ll be making less money this year than sophomore Gabriel Landeskog and recently-signed David Jones. Makes no sense to me. And when this deal is over, he still won’t be an unrestricted free agent.
23) Getting Mike Ribeiro was a good deal for Washington. They didn’t give up a lot, but got a second-line centre who has been an all-star and has an 80-point season. This really helps the Caps, and if Ribeiro doesn’t work out, he’s only signed for another season.
24) Washington could be dynamite offensively again in two years, even without Ribeiro. They have Yevgeni Kuznetsov and Filip Forsberg, two young guys who won’t play in the NHL for about two years. If they want to go back to an offensive game, they definitely have the pieces in place to do so.
25) Not only was I surprised that San Jose didn’t make a trade, I’m even more surprised they weren’t involved in any rumours. It wasn’t too long ago that people were saying the Sharks were in trouble. They barely made the playoffs, looked horrible in losing to the Blues in the first round, and saw one of their top players (Marleau) do nothing in the postseason. I thought for sure we would have seen rumours about one of their top players being dealt.
26) The NHL just announced their new hall of famers. Pretty easy picks about who got in, but someone who always get overlooked but should be in there: Hakan Loob. He was dynamite in the NHL (and was the first Swede to ever score 50 goals in a season). He won a Stanley Cup. He won gold at the 1994 Olympics. He averaged a pont-per-game in 16 Olympic games. And he was so good in the Swedish Hockey League, they named a goal-scoring award after him. How is he not in the Hall of Fame already?
27) The worst thing about Mats Sundin making the hall of fame? All the Sens fans who will say that means Daniel Alfredsson should be in there too. You can’t really compare the two and think of them as equals. Sundin has 564 goals and led his team in points 13 of 18 years. Alfie has 416 goals, and led his team in points four times in 16 years. Sundin was regularly one of the better centres in the league, while Alfie was rarely the best player on his team (he was overshadowed by Alexei Yashin, Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, etc.).
28) Also, if Alfredsson retires this offseason, is he a first ballot hall-of-famer four years from now? Probably not. Lidstrom is in for sure. Brodeur if he retires is in. Sergei Fedorov will be eligible, as he just retired from the KHL, and will probably make it on the first shot. Mike Modano signed a one-day contract in September, so I don’t know if he is eligible for four years from now or not. But there’s another sure-fire first ballot hall-of-famer. That’s four already. Then you have players who will be held over from previous years (possibly players such as Mark Recchi, Paul Kariya and Petr Forsberg). So I can’t see Alfie getting in right away.
29) Tim Thomas will probably be traded to Colorado. They need the money to reach the cap floor, and don’t have a lot of guys signed. If the trade happens, and Thomas doesn’t play, then Colorado doesn’t have to pay Thomas, and his cap still counts. If he does play, they have a top quality goalie who would be their new starter. Win-win.
30) Do the Habs go for a youth movement this year? Or go after veterans? It will make a big impact on free agency. If they want to rebuild, they’ll be quiet on the free agent market. If they want to make a move and get veterans, they’ll probably go after guys like Ray Whitney, Jaromir Jagr or Jason Arnott. Personally, I think it’s time for a youth movement.
31) Two guys to stay away from in free agency: Dustin Penner and Alexander Semin. Both have a bad habit of disappearing for long stretches at a time.
32) There are a few people the Habs should target thought. Justin Schultz, Zenon Konopka and Matt Carle. Schultz is a young phenom, Konopka is great at faceoffs and fighting, and Carle is a top four defenceman.
33) No matter who they sign though, please, no more no-trade clauses.