NHLN Notebook: Backup goalie woes, Justin Schultz hype 2.0, and the death of alternate jerseys

nhlnbook

The NHLN Notebook is a semi-regular feature of interesting hockey content from the past few days that doesn’t quite deserve its own article. 

Jonas Gustavsson gets fired into outer space, Justin Schultz’s stock is at an all-time high, Tampa Bay is in trouble, Adidas is getting rid of third jerseys, and Colton Sissons makes history.

Gustavsson placed on waivers


Jonas Gustavsson’s appearance on waivers today is not very surprising but his ability to stay in the NHL up until this point was. Gustavsson only has one season in the NHL above a .908 save percentage, and that came in a seven game stint with Detroit, otherwise Gustavasson hasn’t provided his teams with the saves they need.

Gustavsson has never been close to the league average save percentage yet continues to get NHL work. No one is hiring him to be their starter but as a backup Gustavsson is still giving up valuable points. There are better options available too. In terms of save percentage, Gustavsson ranks 78th out of 82 goalies that have played 50 games since 2011. 

gusaverage

This was a confusing signing, and the timing of it made it even odder. Last season the Boston Bruins gave Gustavsson a tryout in October and he managed to turn that into a full-time contract. This summer the Oilers signed Gustavsson an hour intro free agency when there were much more attractive options still out there. Although goalies with decent track records like Jhonas Enroth have faltered, signing Jonas Gustavsson early in free agency doesn’t seem like something a winning team would do. 

Curtis McElhinney is also on waivers today. His .924 save percentage this season may seem enticing, he’s only played seven games and his career save percentage (.905) is just marginally better than Gustavsson’s (.901).

Jultz is finally living up to the hype

Justin Schultz has found a role in Pittsburgh. The former Oiler is on a 50-point pace and his ice time has been steadily increasing with a depleted defense core due to injuries. 

Schultz is finding success despite being miscast and traded out of Edmonton. Similar to Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh has played to the player’s strength instead of asking them to something they are not. Although he’s had a bigger role recently, Schultz still finds himself in more of a second or third pairing role at even strength rather than the undisputed number one he was in Edmonton. Schultz shares the blunt of the power play time with Letang and Daley, where he’s accumulated 8 of his 25 points this season.

Schultz also shows why plus-minus is largely meaningless. On a second-last Edmonton team he’s among the league’s worst, while on a powerhouse Pittsburgh team he’s among the league’s best. Schultz is providing value for one of the league’s best teams on a very cheap $1.4M cap hit, which will make his next contract very interesting to follow as expansion looms ahead.

Tampa Bay is… bad?

Tampa Bay might be in bigger trouble than originally thought when Steven Stamkos went down with injury. Stamkos was back to his huge scoring ways, but even with his loss the Lightning’s depth have previously weathered the storm. This time around they aren’t getting much help from either of their goalies. Both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ben Bishop have an identical .907 save percentage, which is far below Bishops’ career .919, but not too far off what Vasilevskiy’s done in his short time in the NHL. 

Their playoff hopes aren’t done just yet. They’re only four points out of an Atlantic division spot and six out of a Wild Card, although multiple playoffs teams have games in hand and teams like Toronto are currently out but have been red hot. A bounce back from Bishop or Vasilevskiy would do a lot for their push, but even that may not be enough with how much of a gauntlet the Metropolitan division has become. Metropolitan teams are likely to occupy one, if not both, Wild Card positions. 

There’s still some hope for the Lightning. The Ottawa Senators have been slipping lately and the Boston Bruins are just hanging on to their spot it in the Atlantic, but the Lightning have to fight it out with both the Maple Leafs and the Panthers in terms of stealing a playoff spot. Tampa Bay is one of the top possession teams in the league, but it’s hard to see them making the cut if they don’t get the saves they need.

No more thirds

With Adidas taking control of NHL’s jerseys next season, it looks like they’re leaving third jerseys behind  

This will force teams with amazing alternate jersey’s like Columbus, Minnesota, or Edmonton, to decide between wearing them full-time or ditching them entirely, although it looks like some have already made the choice. According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the change is “in order to make the initial implementation of new sweaters easier”.

There will likely be small changes to each home and away sweater with Adidas coming in, so eliminating the third jersey will highlight any adjustment made.

The best random stat of 2017!


Picking up your first career hat trick is a huge accomplishment as it is, but making NHL history at the same time makes it even better and gives Sissons bragging rights for the foreseeable future.

  • nrXic

    The difference in stitching of the Adidas jerseys are evident in the World Cup jerseys, and I could write a bit on how it might impact the Oilers jerseys.

    It affords things like patterns and the like, we’ll see how many teams adopt that.

    It actually looks quite flexible in achieving many different looks. Shoulders, for example, can take many forms. Team Canada’s sleeves feature maple leaves.

    One key aspect of the WCH jerseys are the Adidas triple stripes found underneath the pits running down to the pants. Personally, that’s something I don’t want to see, even though it’s part of Adidas branding.

    Maybe I’ll tweet about it with images, we’ll see. I think most people are happy with whatever they get and this topic isn’t very interesting for most. I nerd out about this stuff though. 😛

  • One last thing about the jerseys, the WCH jerseys had ads on them, I’m wondering how many here noticed?

    When you buy them, they are ad free, but the ones worn during the tourney had SAP ads on the right shoulder.

    I’m hoping the lack of noise about it during the WCH doesn’t make the NHL think that we’re cool with them. Well, I’m not, everyone is free to their own opinion of course.

    • CDNinATL

      From what I understand about the SAP ad is that the NHL had a hard time finding anyone willing to pay to put an ad on the jersey and even then they didn’t come close to the money they were hoping for. At least that’s what I recall reading around that time.

      As for which jersey the Oilers go with, I’m hoping they change to the classic orange one.

  • Spydyr

    The sweater change is just a money grab. Make small changes then get fans to buy the “new” sweater the first season. The next season the third sweaters are re-introduced with a small change again in a effort to have fans buy the “new”sweaters.

  • Spydyr

    The reason for Schultz success in Pittsburgh is he is being deployed as the player he is. A third pairing powerplay specialist. In Edmonton he was asked to fight way out of his weight class and got smacked down.

    The reason his plus minus has improved is because he is playing with stronger players against weaker competition.

    • Natejax97

      I think he started there, but recently:

      Playing over 20 min a night. That’s not third pairing. And he is not drowning at those TOI.

      I think confidence is a big thing and I think Pittsburg developed him properly.

      And yes, he is playing with a better group of responsible forwards than Edm had while he was here. I would like to see him here now with the depth we have today.

      • Spydyr

        Schultz is no longer playing against the best players in the NHL.Teams with competent players throughout the line-up play their player more equally. If Pittsburgh is rolling out three defensive units a night that is 20 minutes each. Throw in a little extra powerplay time and you get a little over twenty minutes a night.

        The playoffs are long hard fought battle. Teams that go far in the playoffs rotate all four lines and three sets of defenceman as much as possible.The exception is the true number one defenceman who plays more in the playoffs.

        They also try not to burn out their best players before the playoffs even begin.

  • Ready to Win

    The Oilers won the Schultz derby by promising him top pair minutes; he was destined to either be in over his head or very unhappy with his first team (no matter where it was) because he was a college kid who thought too highly of himself.

  • Makaveli

    If I had to put money on it, I would say the Oilers will scrap their orange jersey. Which is too bad, they were starting to grow on me and in fact, my wife bought me one for Christmas!

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Christian Paganini wrote:

    No one is hiring him [Gus] to be their starter . . .

    .

    No one in his NHL career except Brian Burke who brought him into Toronto as the starter-to-be in what Burke described as his strategy to “rebuild the Leafs from the goalie out.”