December 02, 2018

Pucks On The 'Net

Some thoughts on recent happenings in the hockey world:

The Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander finally ended their standoff, with Nylander landing a contract with just shy of $7 million cap hit for the next six years. Now market dynamics meant Nylander was going to get paid this amount. And the Leafs can live with the cap hit, especially after next season when Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev come off the books. Until then they may have to make some tough decisions, but its not so bad. What might be bad for the Leafs is the fact that they just paid $7 million for the sixth best - at best - player on their team. Tavares, Matthews, Marner, Reilly and Andersen, the goaltender. Come playoff time Kadri's grit may rank him above Nylander too.

Ron Hextall lost his job for being too patient. Meanwhile Kevin Cheveldayoff in Winnipeg is lauded time and time again for his patience. Like so many Flyers managers over the years Hextall needed a goalie to mask his problems, though I do think his biggest problem was the very impatient Paul Holmgren. Hextall cleaned up the Flyers salary cap mess that Holmgren created, but needed more wins.

The Oilers coaching change has paid off with a 4-1-1 record under coach Ken Hitchcock. That is good, as I absolutely hate to see Connor McDavid's talented wasted. I still believe he's the best talent to arrive in the league since the days of Gretzky and Lemieux - and that is saying something. But he will likely never have the career of Sidney Crosby only because of the ineptitude of the Oilers management and their failure to surround McDavid with worthy talent. This is a case where Hitchcock can come in and mask some problems, but that might not be what is really needed in Edmonton.

How about Winnipeg's Patrik Laine scoring 18 goals in the month of November, including five in one game. That is the most goals scored in a calendar month since March 1994 when Vancouver's Pavel Bure scored 19 times.

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