Mailbag: Canucks, Below-the-Radar Islanders; Flyers plan with out Couturier

Which two groups (one in every convention) are flying underneath the radar and do you assume may very well be playoff groups? — @punmasterrifkin

The Vancouver Canucks within the Western Convention and the New York Islanders within the Jap Convention.

The Canucks have query marks and holes, particularly on the suitable aspect of their protection and sure within the backside six forwards, however they’ve loads of vivid spots and be ok with how they completed final season underneath Bruce. Boudreau (32-15-10 after changing Travis Inexperienced on Dec. 6). In the event that they go collectively, I like their middle depth Elias Petterson, J. T. Miller and Bo Horvath. Miller might transfer to the wing, however he must be robust on every of the highest three strains, which he can get if Petterson, Miller and Horvath develop into high three facilities.

The left aspect of their protection is a energy Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Quinn Hughes and Travis Dermott. If vital, Hughes can change to his proper aspect. Thatcher Demko Final season, he appeared in 64 video games, third within the NHL, and proved to be the No. 1 goaltender, however the Canucks needed to handle his workload. Spencer Martin, maybe #2, is significant. Vancouver additionally wants a robust begin as a result of I do not assume they’ve sufficient depth to climb all the best way if the staff struggles in October and November like they did final season. After the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, their goaltending, middle depth, and wide-open Pacific Division begin give me purpose to imagine the Canucks is usually a Stanley Cup playoff staff.

The Islanders want to seek out extra offense than the forwards Matthew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Oliver Wahlstrom and Kyle Palmieri. I would say 10-15% extra on every participant can be sufficient to get them into the playoffs the place they did not make it final season. They did not have a 60-point participant final season (Barzal and Brock Nelson have been 59 every). If Barzal performs a full season, he ought to have 80 factors. He is likely one of the greatest stick gamers on the planet. Wahlstrom has 13 objectives in 73 video games, and along with his capturing and Barzal’s playmaking skill, he ought to rating 25 objectives. Beauvilliers has the power to attain on the age of 20 after scoring 12 objectives in 75 video games. And Palmieri ought to be extra constant. The Islanders have not made a serious improve shifting ahead, so that they’re stockpiling gamers who ought to be higher. If that’s the case, I believe they are going to be a playoff staff.

Video: Prime 20 Thatcher Demko Champions for the 2021-22 season

Now the Philadelphia Flyers have one other harm Sean Couturier, has been reported with a herniated disc in his again that would preserve him sidelined for some time, so what’s Philly’s plan? Is Chuck Fletcher on the new seat? Antoine Roussel is on PTO. Are we seeing a rebirth of the excessive avenue thugs? — @theashcity

It is lots to interrupt down. Let’s begin with Couturier and the Flyers’ plans. Couturier is week-to-week with an upper-body harm, so the plan will not change. Couturier is likely one of the veteran leaders who can create the tradition coach John Tortorella needs, making the plan much more tough. In Tortorella’s first season on the helm, the Flyers can be challenged to develop into a staff with higher management and extra accountability than final season. If Couturier isn’t a part of it, it will likely be harder. They fell aside with out him final season, going 13-34-6 in 53 video games, however Tortorella’s plan is to create a staff tradition that he believes is crucial to success on the ice. He is been open about his issues concerning the locker room and what is going on on there, saying it needs to be modified or mounted earlier than something occurs. No couturier, no quarterback Ryan Ellisthe potential of beginning the season with long-term injured reserve will make it harder within the brief time period.

As for Fletcher being on the new seat, all common managers are at all times on the new seat as a result of what occurs subsequent will choose them. For instance, if a guard Tony DeAngelo Tortorella’s choice to signal him to a 2-year, $10 million deal will look nice if Tortorella’s favourite participant has changed into a good finish on and off the ice. If DeAngelo does not match Tortorella and Philadelphia, Fletcher will take over. The Flyers made some massive modifications from season to season. Fletcher is aware of the strikes should work or face penalties.

No, we’re not seeing a rebirth of excessive avenue hooligans. The Flyers will attempt to be a more durable staff to play towards. They’ll retreat. However no staff at this time can survive within the NHL by attempting to be what the Flyers have been with Fred Shero, Bobby Clarke and others. The sport has modified dramatically over the previous 50 years.

Who’re the highest three rebuilding groups taking the following step this offseason? — @nyrprpokemon

They’re all within the Atlantic Division, the Ottawa Senators, the Buffalo Sabers, and the Detroit Pink Wings. I’d add the New Jersey Devils, however on your query let’s deal with the Atlantic Three.

Ottawa’s addition of forwards is clear Alex DeBrincat and Claude Girouxand a goalkeeper Cam Talbot. The Senators ought to be critical about including a 40-goal scorer, veteran, chief and good goaltender to a staff that has skilled ahead Tim Stutzl. Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Bathersonplus a guard Thomas Chabot. The following step is to compete for the playoffs. They gave up 27 factors final season and I do not assume they’ve defended properly sufficient this season. I do not assume you want 100 factors like final season to make the Jap Convention playoffs, so the Senators have an opportunity.

The Sabers return a core group of younger gamers who imagine they’re the reply in Buffalo. They went 16-9-3 in 28 video games from March 2 by way of the top of final season and tied for twelfth within the NHL with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche at .625. Tage Thompson (28 factors), Jeff Skinner (26), Victor Olofsson (25), Rasmus Dallin (19), Casey Mittelstadt (16) and Alex cloth (16) all ended strongly. Protector Owen EnergyNo. 1 total decide within the 2021 NHL draft, with two objectives and one help in eight video games. The Sabers can construct on their report from final season, but it surely’s simpler to play after they’re already eradicated from the playoffs than after they’re within the match and loaded. They want a superb begin.

The Pink Wings added forwards Andrew Kopp and David Perronand guards Ben Chiaro and Ollie Matta. By bringing them in, they elevated their objectives Ville Huso to hitch Alex Nedelkovic. Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Yakub Vrana strikers on the peak of their careers. Moritz SeiderThe Calder Trophy-winning defenseman was named the NHL’s rookie of the yr final season and is a ahead Lucas Raymond ought to profit from dietary supplements. New coach Derek LaLonde comes from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who helped the staff to 3 straight journeys to the Stanley Cup Finals and championships in 2020 and 2021.

Do you assume Buffalo ought to watch for Thompson’s extension? I believe it could have been a good, possibly barely overpriced contract if he had had just a few extra years like he did final season, however he is had a troublesome time making it to the NHL in earlier seasons. — @Phlyers24

I would not thoughts a seven-year, $50 million deal for Thompson. That is an enormous quantity for a 24-year-old ahead who’s had one good season, but it surely’s what groups at this time are long-term signings for younger gamers with a yr left within the NHL. contracts. The Senators did it with Stutzle. The St. Louis Blues performed with a ahead Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. The Montreal Canadiens performed with a ahead final season Nick Suzuki. The concept is to make it a helpful contract for the staff in the long term and present the gamers that they care about it, too.

The Sabers are throughout Thompson. He scored 38 objectives final season. He needs to be in Buffalo. He additionally performed 223 profession NHL video games, so he is no spring hen. The Sabers are constructing on Thompson’s manufacturing final season. It is not unreasonable to anticipate him to common 30 objectives a season over the course of his contract. If he does, it could be a helpful commerce for Buffalo, particularly for the reason that wage cap is predicted to extend considerably after the 2023-24 season. It is a gamble, but it surely’s a part of the sport groups are enjoying with younger gamers at this time.

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