Some Monday thoughts.
-- I was glancing at Ottawa's upcoming schedule for next year, and couldn't help but notice that the brutal west coast road trip comes right before the official trade deadline. Maybe good timing, that. In late-February, Ottawa heads out for the three-game swing through California, then plays Minnesota and Winnipeg on the way back. Five road games, three against elite competition, and it's not like either of the back-end teams are pushovers. You wonder if that little run's really going to decide what the final month of the season looks like.
-- Joe Haggerty at CSNNE
had a piece up a few days ago, ruminating about a potential Johnny Boychuk for Nail Yakupov swap. Said Haggerty:
Something along the lines of a Nail Yakupov-for-Johnny Boychuk trade could solve problems for both teams from a long-term perspective, but there’s no question the Black and Gold’s chances of winning a Cup this season would take a hit if No. 55 is dealt before, or in, this upcoming season. Boychuk will literally take a puck to the face to help the Bruins win a game, and a hockey team with Stanley Cup aspirations can’t deal those kinds of players away lightly.
Here's the problem it doesn't solve: Edmonton gives away a more talented, cap-controlled RFA player for a 30+ second-pairing defenseman on an expiring deal. I think Boychuk's an interesting name for most teams if he makes it to market next summer, and based on how desperate half the league is for a top-four defender, it seems likely he'll command a decent chunk of money. That said, giving up Nail Yakupov for this guy is more or less insane.
-- The guys who run the digital content at NHL.com
power-ranked the league's fourteen best centers. It's an interesting read, and I think for the most part, they got the ordering right. A couple of counterpoints: I like Toews, but I think Kopitar's a bit better of a player. Toews, Malkin, and Stamkos are basically a coin-flip from three through five -- I think I take Stamkos if I'm starting tomorrow, but it's ridiculously close. Tyler Seguin seems a tiny bit too low (I'd probably put him just above Pavel Datsyuk). Nathan MacKinnon impressed me more than maybe any other young player in the league last year, but if you're talking about 2014-2015, do you take him over Matt Duchene? I think that's an argument to be had, too.
-- One more shot chart for you guys to look over -- this one for pending UFA Marc Methot over the last two seasons (team with/team without).
Teams generate a lot more in close when Methot's off of the ice, and I think this matches with what we generally see game-to-game. He's rather limited offensively, but he does work his tail off to deter chances. I'm kind of worried about the price his new deal might bring for a variety of reasons (namely the fact that he's older and, again, doesn't produce a whole lot of offense), but the above is ... sort of encouraging?