Game Notes Bruins @ Oilers: All Eyes On Holland

Jason Gregor
1 year ago
The NHL record for most wins in a season is 62 set by the 1996 Detroit Red Wings (62-13-7 ties) and the 2019 Tampa Bay Lighting (62-16-4 OT/SO). The 1977 Montreal Canadiens went 60-8-12 and hold the highest points% at .825. The 2023 Boston Bruins are on pace for 63 wins and a .820points%. They lead the NHL with 95 points (48-8-5) and are nine points ahead of second place Carolina. They have 23 more points than their opponent tonight, the Edmonton Oilers.
Normally the league’s top team coming to town to face the NHL’s leading scorer would be the main story, but with four days remaining until the trade deadline, much of the focus today and every day until Friday’s 1 p.m. MT deadline will be on what Oilers GM Ken Holland does.
— Holland needs to make a move. He knows it. It is why he made an offer for Erik Karlsson that San Jose didn’t accept. Karlsson is willing to waive his no-move clause to come to Edmonton, but to date, they’ve been unable to make a trade. The salary cap, and retention on Karlsson is the challenge. Getting San Jose to retain salary is one thing, but it is highly unlikely a third-party team will retain a percentage of Karlsson’s contract for four seasons. The cost would be significant to convince a team to do that. Three different capologists/assistant GMs I spoke to about a third-party involvement said, “highly unlikely.” If the Oilers and Sharks make a trade it sounds like it will be between them. Today, the odds of a deal happening are low.
— Holland also made it clear to Patrick Kane that the Oilers were interested, but Kane wants to go to New York. Kane, like Jarome Iginla a few years ago in Calgary, controls where he will go, and he is going to New York. A trade has been agreed upon, they are just waiting a few days so the Rangers accrue enough cap space to make the deal work. Holland’s first two conversations for trades involved difference makers. But unless there is a surprise change in the Karlsson deal, Holland will have to pivot and look elsewhere.
Jacob Chychrun is still available. He’s sat out the Coyotes last seven games. He hasn’t played since Friday, February 10th, supposedly for “trade purposes.” He returned to practice with the Coyotes last week, which raises my suspicion about him sitting out the previous week with a minor injury. The concern surrounding Chychrun has always been his health more than his on-ice play. I’ve seen reports suggesting the Oilers aren’t interested, but I don’t believe that is accurate. I know for a fact a few people in management are very high on him. They are having ongoing conversations about him. But so far, the Coyotes ask remains high. When I asked how high, I received this reply via text, “It tends to vary.” Which would suggest there have been discussions.
If the Oilers can’t land Karlsson, Chychrun is the next best offensive available option available on the blueline. I’m not nearly as high on Vladislav Gavrikov, especially if the return is a first round pick. He is a pure rental, but he’s also not an elite defender or offensive defender. He is a good player, but not someone I’d overpay for. At least with Chychrun, there is high-end potential. There are health risks, and he’s more offensive than defensive at this point, so he might not be the perfect fit, but not adding a significant upgrade to the blueline would also limit the Oilers’ chances of winning one, two, or three rounds in the playoffs. There are risks both ways.
— Chychrun’s value will drop on Saturday. Significantly. It will mean one less playoff run for a team acquiring him and if the salary cap goes up over the summer his contract value will lower. The Coyotes’ ask has been too high for all 31 opposing GMs for the past 18 months. Will Bill Armstrong realize no one is going to match it and drop his asking price before Friday’s deadline? He might have no choice. Chychrun will have sat out three weeks come Friday, and if he isn’t traded, then they’ll have to welcome him back to the room, which could be awkward. He’s wanted a trade for years. Which side blinks before Friday’s deadline?
Mattias Ekholm is another name that is out there. He has experience and he’s a solid defender, but his $6.25m cap hit for three more seasons is the concern, not to mention almost impossible to fit under the salary cap for most teams. If the Predators are willing to retain $1m-$2m then he becomes much more tradeable, similar to Jake McCabe in Chicago. It’s been rumoured that Chicago is willing to retain 50% ($2m) for the next two seasons, which makes McCabe very attractive. If the Hawks retain that then a new team gets McCabe for $2m. To date, he has said the only Canadian team he’d play for is Toronto, so Edmonton likely has no chance.
As for Ekholm, at his full cap hit the question becomes: Can he give a team three solid playoffs? If so, then I think most wouldn’t worry about the final year, but if they feel he only has this season and next year as a top-four defender, then the risk is much higher to have him on your books for the final two seasons at $6.25m
— Regardless of who is available, there is a lot of pressure on Holland to make a move. McDavid is having one of the greatest seasons in NHL history. You could argue only Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky have had better (even though McDavid is slightly below Steve Yzerman’s 155-point pace), and while McDavid could very likely have three of four similar seasons, Holland can’t sit and do nothing this week. He needs to do more than add a third or fourth line forward. Getting upset because a move hasn’t happened yet is premature. It only becomes a significant issue when the deadline passes. If the Oilers haven’t made a significant move by Friday’s deadline, then it is completely fair to question Holland. There will be no valid excuse. Many teams are in LTIR. Holland has just over four days to improve the Oilers.
— Now let’s focus on tonight’s game. The Bruins (45-8-5) have been the class of the NHL all season. They arrived in Edmonton on a six-game winning streak, and they are so hot even their goaltending Linus Ullmark has a goal. He scored on a wicked wrister, Saturday in Vancouver.
The Bruins win in bunches. They have won seven in a row twice, six, four and three games consecutively twice. Which means 40 of their 45 wins have come in those eight streaks. They have been ridiculously consistent. They’ve yet to go more than one game without registering a point. Here is an outline of their season: 3W, 1L, 7W, 1L, 7W, 1L, 3W, 1OTL, 1W, 1L, 2W, 1L, 4W, 1OTL, 1W, 1OTL, 4W, 1L, 6W, 1L, 1OTL, 1L, 1W, 1L, 6W. They had one stretch of three games without a win but still got a point in the middle game. 
— The Bruins lead the NHL in goals against/game at 2.09. The Oilers lead the NHL in goals for/game at 3.83. However, the Bruins are third in GF/GP at 3.74 and Edmonton is 20th in GA/GP with 3.28. Can the Oilers’ offence penetrate the Bruins’ suffocating defence?
— Boston has allowed two or fewer goals 39 times and are 35-2-2 in those games. They are 8-2-1 when allowing three goals and they are 2-4-2 when they allow 4+ goals.
— Edmonton has scored 4+ goals 33 times this season. They are 28-2-3. When they score three goals Edmonton’s record is 3-5-2. And when they score two or fewer goals, they are 1-13-3. Boston is 2-6-2 when they score two or fewer goals.
— The NHL’s leading goal scorers go head-to-head tonight. McDavid leads the NHL with 48 goals in 60 games, while David Pastrnak has 42 in 58 games. Pastrnak leads the NHL with 279 shots while McDavid is second with 267. McDavid is averaging 4.45 shots/game. His previous high was 3.92 last season. Pastrnak averaged 3.33 shots/game last season and is up to 4.81/game this season.
— Quite often the NHL’s leading goal scorer is also the shot leader. Over the past 10 seasons Alex Ovechkin led the league in goals and shots in 2013-2016 and 2018. Auston Matthews led the NHL in both in 2021 and 2022. Ovechkin was third in shots in 2019 and second in 2020 when he led in goals. Sidney Crosby is the one outlier. He finished 13th in shots in 2017 when the led the league with 44 goals. Leon Draisaitl is not a super high-volume shooter despite being an elite goal scorer. In 2019 he finished second in goals with 50, one behind Ovechkin, but was 30th in shots.
Over the past five NHL seasons, Draisaitl has the most goals, 215, but is 13th in shots (1,074) in that span. His 20% shooting percentage is best in the league among players who have played more than 100 games. Only 17 players have 1,000+ shots since the start of the 2018-19 season and McDavid’s 16.2% is the second highest among those 17 shooters. Matthews is third at 16%. Mika Zibanejad is fourth at 14.9% and Pastrnak and Ovechkin are tied for fifth at 14.7.


Join us on March 3rd for the Daily Faceoff Live: Trade Deadline edition as Frank Seravalli and the panel break down all of the latest rumours, news, and rumblings from around the NHL. The show will be live on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter from 10 AM – 2 PM MT to keep you up to date on all things trade deadline no matter where you’re watching from.

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