In 26 days the NHL bubble has shrunk from 24 teams down to 10, and two more will be gone this weekend. It was only two weeks ago that the Edmonton Oilers crashed out of the qualifying round and since misery likes company, Oilersnation readers were gleefully watching their provincial rival go down in Flames (hi Gene Principe) in game six to the Dallas Stars.
Now both fanbases can brood over knowing their teams blew great opportunities to move on.
The Flames got roasted by one the NHL’s worst offensive teams.
In the regular season, the Stars were 29th in goals for and were 30th in 5×5 goals, scoring 109 in 69 games.
During their three seeding games the Stars scored a total of four goals, two at 5×5. Their offence mirrored their regular season — unproductive.
But against the Flames they looked like an offensive juggernaut.
They scored 21 goals in six games, including 14 at 5×5. Rookie Denis Gurianov scored six goals in the series, while sophomore sensation, Miro Heiskanen, led the Stars with eight points. Calgary’s team defence along with Cam Talbot and David Rittich made the Stars offence look highly dangerous. Maybe Dallas finally played up to their potential, or more likely, the Flames allowed an offence that was pedestrian for their first 72 games this season to dominate them.
Tough loss, especially when you consider Calgary led 3-0 seven minutes into the first period. The NHL playoffs have always been, and will continue to be ruthless. Also, good to see Oilersnation writer Zach Laing keeping the rivalry alive with a parting gift to Flamesnation.
Since David Rittich flipped his stick against the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 29, he’s appeared in 12 games, been pulled three times, and has posted a .878 sv%.
— zach laing (@zjlaing) August 21, 2020
OTHER SERIES NOTES…
1. I can’t imagine an NHL team has ever won a seven-game series when their five leading goal scorers from the regular season didn’t produce one goal. Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk combined for 109 goals in the regular season. Add in that Oscar Lindberg, who led the Flyers with 11 goals in 30 games before being diagnosed with cancer, has yet to return. Yet somehow the Flyers lead the Montreal Canadiens three games to two, and the Flyers are 6-3 in the bubble, while those five forwards have yet to score one measly goal.
In their three victories over the Habs they’ve scored five goals, but only allowed one as Sherwood Park’s Carter Hart had two shutouts. In their two losses the Flyers allowed 10 goals and only scored three. Montreal has outscored Philly 11-8 in the series. The playoffs are always unpredictable and weird, and this series is another great example.
2. For my money the Blues/Canucks series has been the most entertaining and competitive of the first round. Vancouver has to re-sign Jacob Markstrom, and I suspect they will, but at what price point? The flat cap should help them in negotiations, but anything higher than $7 million, which is what Marc-Andre Fleury signed for two years ago, is too much.
3. Dallas is going to have to keep scoring to have any chance against the Avalanche in round two, but I don’t see it. The Avs toyed with Arizona, outscoring them 22-8 and outshooting them 185-108. Colorado and Tampa have both looked great thus far.
4. If I was Taylor Hall, I’d do what Marian Hossa did in the summer of 2008 and sign a one-year deal with a top contender. Colorado has the cap space to sign him to a one-year deal worth $6-$7m. It would benefit both sides. I realize short term deals for top-end free agents are rare, but if I was a star in the NHL I’d look at those more often. The greatest D-man in the past 20 years, Nick Lidstrom, signed one and and two year deals in his 30s. Hall isn’t Lidstrom, but the point is the NHL’s top players should look at shorter deals if they want to be on competitive teams. Most of them have made more than $50-$70 million by the time they are 30. They will still make great money in their 30s, but taking a bit less to be on a contending team and possibly winning will give them much more satisfaction and joy later in life. It will take a change in the mindset of star players, and teams, but this year, with a flat cap, if I’m Hall, I’d look at short term deal with a top contender over a longer term deal on a decent team.
5. I really like reading Bruce McCurdy. He comes up with good tidbits, and I really enjoy his takes on astronomy. But I disagree with his article that after one season the Oilers lost the James Neal/Milan Lucic trade because Calgary receives the third round pick and because Lucic had more points at 5×5 and better analytics. I realize it is more difficult to score at 5×5, but that doesn’t make those goals more important than scoring on the powerplay. Neal finished the season with 19-12-31 in 55 games. Lucic had 8-12-20 in 68 games. Neal’s powerplay goals helped Edmonton win games early in October. I think many overlook that Neal played with a broken toe in early November and then a high ankle sprain early in 2020, before having to sit out because of it. He struggled in November and December. Maybe he shouldn’t have played, but watching him in October and then in the qualifying round, when he was healthy, it is clear how much different he looked with the injury.
Even with the Flames getting a third round pick Edmonton will win this trade. Lucic can’t handle the puck very well anymore. He is not a threat to score. He got hot for five games and chipped in with some offence, but I’ll wager with anyone that Neal outscores him quite a bit over the next few seasons. I understand being frustrated about the season, but Edmonton will benefit from this trade.
Will Ken Holland trade a D-man or make a trade for a defenceman? I think it is very likely. Here is a list of D-men traded during the previous three off-seasons, with most occurring around the NHL entry draft.
Nashville traded PK Subban to New Jersey for Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies and two second round picks.
Carolina traded Justin Faulk to St.Louis for Joel Edmundson, prospect Dominik Book and a 2021 seventh round pick.
Anaheim traded Brandon Montour to Anaheim for Brenden Guhle and a 2019 first round pick (Brayden Tracey 29th overall).
Carolina traded Calvin de Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela to Chicago for Gustav Forsling and goaltender Anton Forsberg.
Penguins traded Olli Maatta to Chicago for forward Dominik Kahun and a fifth rounder.
Colorado traded Tyson Barrie, centre Alex Kerfoot and a 6th rounder to Toronto for centre Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a third rounder.
New York Islanders trade Travis Hamonic and a fourth rounder to Calgary for a first and two second rounders.
Vegas trades Colin Miller to Buffalo for a second and fifth rounder.
Chicago trades Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona for Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin.
Florida trades Jason Demers to Arizona for forward Jamie McGinn.
Ottawa trades Marc Methot to Dallas for a second rounder and goalie prospect Dylan Ferguson.
Ottawa trades Erik Karlsson and forward Francois Perron to San Jose for Dylan Demelo, forwards Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Josh Norris and a conditional 1st rounder (which became the 5th overall pick this year), and a second rounder in 2019 and 2021.
The draft is tentatively scheduled for October 9th and 10th. That is the most likely time we could see Holland make a move. The flat cap might make it more difficult, but it could also entice some teams to look for trades as teams will have less flexibility to over bigger salaries in free agency.
If he wants to move a defenceman, or acquire one, that week, historically, presents the best opportunity.
Joakim Nygard hasn’t played a game since January 29th. The NHL won’t begin, until the earliest, in December which means he’d have gone 10 months without playing. He wants to play, the Oilers want him to play, so they agreed to loan him to Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League. He has an out clause where he can leave when NHL training camp begins.
Philip Broberg was loaned to SKelleftea AK in the SHL, and the Oilers will evaluate his play and their roster when training camp begins to see if he comes to main camp.
Rapheal Lavoie is also going to Sweden, but his situation isn’t completely finalized yet. He hasn’t signed a contract. If he does, he could remain there all season.
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