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Thursday thoughts: Fleury, Malkin's future, the other rookie

December 2, 2021, 5:59 PM ET [7 Comments]
Kevin Allen
Blogger •HHOF Writer's column on the NHL • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Everyone is correct in their assessment that rookies are helping the Detroit Red Wings be an improved team. But everyone is wrong about how many rookies are contributing.

The belief is two rookies, defenseman Moritz Seider and left wing Lucas Raymond, are carrying the Red Wings. But it's actually been three rookies carrying the load. People forget goalie Alex Nedeljkovic is still technically a rookie. And he is contributing as much as Seider and Raymond.

"It’s been a great confidence boost to know that he’s gonna be there every night," Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said.

Seider was Rookie of the Month in October and Raymond won for last month. But you could have easily picked Nedejkovic for November. He was 6-2-1, with a 2.24 GAA and .934 save percentage. Nedeljkovic was a finalist for Rookie of the Year last season when he played for the Carolina Hurricanes. But he still meets the criteria to be considered a rookie this season.

My other Thursday's thoughts:

2. Will Colorado's Cale Makar become the first defenseman in a dozen years to score 30 or more goals in an NHL season? He already has 10 goals in 18 games. Eight different D-men have reached 30 or more. The last was Mike Green in 2008-09.

3. Since Aleksander Barkov went down with injury, the Florida Panthers are 5-2 and have averaged 3.85 goals per game. Florida's depth is stronger than people realize.

4. Several coaches are in the hunt for coach of the year. Too much of the season remains to even name a favorite. But no one has done a better job than Calgary's Darryl Sutter over the first seven weeks of the season.

5. Carey Price hasn't played a game this season and yet there's speculation about where he could end up if Montreal goes full rebuild. The romance with this one is strong.

6. Let's not forget about the Colorado Avalanche when we talk about teams possibly making a move for a goalie. The Avalanche own an .897 save percentage to rank 30th in the NHL. No Stanley Cup contenders are anywhere near the Avalanche. The Avs are down with Ottawa, Seattle, Montreal, Arizona, etc.

7. Believe the Canadiens, Blues, Islanders and Blackhawks are among the teams that have inquired about Boston's Jake DeBrusk.
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8. Since it was reported that the Stars were saying 'no' to teams asking about John Klingberg, the Stars have won five in a row. In those five games, Klingberg is +5 with four assists.

9. The top 10 teams this season in shots on goal all have a winning percentage of .524 or better except the Vancouver Canucks. That might mean the Canucks should be better than they are.

10. In Chicago goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's last six starts, he has given up just nine goals. He boasts a .954 save percentage in those games. It sure seems like he will end up in either Edmonton or Colorado.

11. Not everyone believes in Corsi, which determines puck possession based on shots for both teams. But according to naturalstattrick.com, the top five Corsi teams this season are Florida (56.49), Carolina (55.85), Calgary (55.08), Boston (55.07) and Toronto (55.85). Those five teams have a combined record of 71-27-10.

12. Everyone mentions Matt Duchene's resurrection as an offensive force, but Mikhael Granlund is doing just as much to help Nashville, if not more. He has 25 points in 22 games.

13. Still believe Evgeni Malkin will end up re-signing with the Penguins.

14. The Dallas signing of Ryan Suter had turned out to be one of the best offseason acquisitions. He logs 23-plus minutes per game and plays effective defense.

15. Been told not to be surprised if the Detroit Red Wings make a trade bid to land an established NHL defenseman. The Red Wings would like a consistent veteran to have on the defense as Moritz Seider and Simon Edvinsson mature into top defensemen over the next few seasons.

16. When Detroit's Thomas Greiss and Seattle's Philipp Grubauer faced off Wednesday it marked the second time two German goalies competed against each other in an NHL game. On
Jan. 31, 2017, the two goalies played against each other when Greiss was with the NY Islanders and Grubauer was with Washington.

17. Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin (10-11--21) might be playing the best hockey of his career. He probably has been impressive enough to make a case to be Jack Eichel's replacement as the No. 2 center on the U.S Olympic team. Auston Matthews will be the No. 1 center.

18. It seems like everyone except the Vegas Golden Knights were wrong about Chandler Stephenson's offensive potential. He has 20 points in 22 games. That's a 74-point pace.

19. Nazem Kadri sitting fourth in the NHL scoring race in December is beyond my comprehension. He has 20 assists, one less than Leon Draisaitl.

20. The arrival of Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale has made me significantly more optimistic about the Ducks' future. Even having Mason McTavish for a while helped. Sometimes you just need to see the roots taking hold to appreciate the growth potential.

21. In case you missed it, Cammi Granato was recently chosen to serve on the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee. The Seattle Kraken pro scout is the second woman to be named to the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The first was Canada’s Cassie Campbell-Pascall.

22. The NHL has used 804 players thus far, and 27.7% (223) are American. Canada's representation is 44.1%. As of today, 355 Canadians have played at least one game this season.

23. Sabres prize prospect Jack Quinn is leading the American Hockey League scoring race with 24 points in 17 games.

24. A Coyotes source told me that reports of the Coyotes moving to Houston are "more BS." The official Coyotes' statement: “This is false. Totally false. We’re not selling. We’re not moving. The Coyotes are 100 percent committed to playing in Arizona.”

25. David Poile turns 72 in February. It will also mean Poile has been involved in NHL team management for half of a century. His first front office job came in 1972 when he joined the Atlanta Flames as an administrative assistant. The Poile family has been involved in the NHL since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. David's father Bud played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins from 1942 to 1950. If he had ended up with Montreal, Bud would have completed an entire run of the Original Six. Poile spent the rest of his working life in professional hockey. Poile has been the Nashville Predators' only general manager. He has been in that post longer than Predators forward Eeli Tolvanen has been alive. Poile started in Nashville in 1998 and Tolvanen was born in 1999.
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