STANDINGS PREDICTIONS 2018/19: Metropolitan Division

 photo: https://novacapsfans.com/2015/08/04/sizing-up-the-metropolitan-division-in-2015-16-where-do-the-washington-capitals-fit/

photo: https://novacapsfans.com/2015/08/04/sizing-up-the-metropolitan-division-in-2015-16-where-do-the-washington-capitals-fit/

The Snipers Perspective

Over the next couple days we will do predictions for the divisions in the NHL. Make sure click the buttons at the bottom to also see the Liabilities and Bandwagons predictions!


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Is William Nylander's Holdout Smart?

Embed from Getty Images

The Sniper’s Perspective

So everyone is aware of the William Nylander hold out. He is currently asking for 8 million per season and the Leafs are offering up to 7 per season for 8 years. If he had his way, he would receive 64 million over those 8 years, if the leafs had their way it would be 56.

So while Nylander is holding out for that contract that would pay him an extra 8 million over 8 years, he is currently not receiving any money at all this season. So instead of being paid 7 million this season, he is receiving 0.

Does it make sense to hold out for that extra 1 million per season? So what if he holds out for the entire year, now he’s a year older, didn’t play in the NHL for a full year, do you think he is worth the 8 million then? If anything that would lower his value right? A full year not competing at the top level of hockey. Or what about this scenario, he is currently working out and practicing with a European team, what happens if he gets injured? A season ending injury, that will cause him to go into next summers negotiation with not having played hockey at all for an entire season, and not competing at the top level of hockey.

For a 22 year old to be worried and holding out this long over 1 million extra per season, when the contract offered by the Leafs is 56 over 8 years, seems a little silly, especially with the risk factors and when you consider this contract will bring him to age 30, and he still has another 7-10 years after which he could most likely still make another 7-15 million per season after. It is not as if this will be the final contract of his life and the Leafs are trying to pay him peanuts.

But high risk, high reward right?

What Is The Ceiling For Tavares?

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THE SNIPERS PERSPECTIVE

Last night the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-3, which saw Marner record a goal and an assist, Reilly record a goal and assist, Matthews record 2 goals, but it saw Tavares record an incredible 4 assists! The sad thing is, as impressive as it is, it’s not even uncommon this season, as he is the 5th player to do it, and we are only just over a week into the season!

But with Tavares already having 10 points in 5 games this season, what is a realistic expectation for him points wise? Never has Tavares played on a team with so much talent as the Leafs do this season, and he is taking full advantage of it. Their Powerplay is lethal, operating at 50% so far through 5 games and he is enjoying every minute of it, recording already 3 points on the powerplay.

In a career 674 games Tavares has 631 points, so he operates at just under a point per game, but he has never played on a line with someone as skilled as Marner before, and has never played on a powerplay with Matthews, Marner, Kadri and Reilly. So while he operates at a career point per game of .93, we know he is a point per game player without all this talent around him. In the 14-15 season he set career highs in both goals and points, which was 38 goals 86 points, and he will leave that number is his dust this season. At his current pace he would finish the season at 164 points, while that will not be the case, it would not be unrealistic to think he maintains a point per game pace for the remainder of the season, which would finish him with 87 points, which alone would beat his career high. But from this moment on, a realistic number would be he operates at a point per game average of 1.15, this would give Tavares another 88 points over the 77 games, ending his season with 98 points.

My personal prediction is John Tavares ends the season with 41 goals and 57 assists.

Not bad getting a 98 point player in Free Agency.

Realistic Expectation For Ovechkin

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The Snipers Perspective

With Ovechkin’s two goals last night, that gives him 4 goals in 3 games this season, and it also moves him into 17th place all time in goals with 611. Just another 283 to catch Gretzky!

Ovechkin is on the wrong side of 30, turning 33 this past September, and while most players end up on the decline in this time, the style Ovechkin plays he should still remain a dominant goal scorer for another few years.

So this begs the question, what is a realistic expectation for Ovechkin this year, and years to come? Well, last season, everyone thought it would be the end of the Ovie goal scoring dominance, and how did he respond? Back-to-back hat-tricks to start the season, and ending the season with 49 goals. He had a taste of the Stanley Cup last season and he wants that taste back. I would say an expectation for Ovechkin this year is 42-45 goals. After 3 games he is already 10% of the way there! Ovie and Kuznetsov just keep getting more and more chemistry together so I think 42-45 is very reasonable this season.

So while no one wants to admit it, decline is inevitable, and Ovechkin has already stated he does not plan on playing in the NHL until he is 40; “Sometimes you need to finish where you started” - So he has full intentions on returning to the KHL at some point.

Ovechkin is signed for 3 more seasons, so let’s humour that after those 3 seasons, he signs a 1 year extension.

18/19 season: 42 goals

19/20 season: 40 goals

20/21 season: 35 goals

21/22 season: 32 goals

If Ovechkin gets this amount of goals in his next 4 seasons, which he is highly capable of, he would finish his career with 756 goals. Which would put him in 4th place, just passing Brett Hull. Personally I do not believe he would be happy with this, and one thing that works in Ovechkins favour is that he is a shooter. Kuznetsov and Backstrom do all the skating and setting up and Ovechkin just wires it. And their is no reason he cant keep doing that for many more years. I believe he would play for 2 more seasons. If in those 2 additional seasons he puts up 30 goals then 25, he would finish with 811 goals, which would rank him 2nd all time.

Retiring at the age of 38, as the number 2 goal scorer in NHL history.

Is Stamkos The New Ovechkin?

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steven_Stamkos_2014-03-22.JPG

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steven_Stamkos_2014-03-22.JPG

THE SNIPERS PERSEPCTIVE

Over the past few years, time after time, year after year, the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin would go into the playoffs with high hopes, loads of potential, Stanley Cup favourites, just to “choke” when the big moments arrive. But in the 17-18 season, the Capitals finally won the ultimate prize in sports, the Stanley Cup!

Which now leaves Steven Stamkos, as the next veteran superstar, who goes into the playoffs with super teams who cannot get the job done when it counts. Both Stamkos and Ovechkin have been over the years highly criticized for their play in the playoffs. Both receiving plenty of criticism stating that they cannot lead their team to victory. Let’s take a look at the stats of these guys when the games “matter the most” in the playoffs.

Ovechkin: In 121 playoff games, he has 117 points. Almost a point per game player. Now since he won the cup last season, lets subtract last years stats so we can see what they were like when he “couldn’t lead his team.” So without last season, Ovechkin had played in 97 playoff games and had 46 goals and 90 points. That’s pretty good as playoff hockey is much more difficult than the regular season, but lets dig a little deeper.

In elimination games, where the Capitals could either move on, or get knocked out, Ovechkin had 12 points, and a +2 rating in 15 games. Again, almost a point per game, and in game 7’s he had 8 points in 10 of them, which sure looks like he showed up despite all the criticism he received.

Now let’s take a look at Stamkos.

In 66 career playoff games, he has 51 points. Which still is not a terrible number but it definitely does not compete with his regular season stats. But digging deeper, this is where you really need to take note on Stamkos. In elimination games where the Lightning could either move on or be eliminated, Stamkos has 0 points and is a -2 rating. Also in game 7’s Stamkos also has 0 points. In this past season, the Lightning had 2 chances to knock out the Capitals and move onto the finals and the entire Lightning team failed to record a single point!

While this is a team game, and it relies on an entire team to win, your star players still must show up when it counts. And by these stats, Stamkos has never, not once, showed up when it counts.

With Ovechkin having his cup now, the criticism will be solely on Stamkos now, and if he wants it off him, he better start to show up when his team needs him!

Morgan Frost Cut From Flyers Camp

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THE SNIPERS PERSPECTIVE

This comes as a huge surprise to me because after watching Frost tear up the OHL last season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, I thought he would be a for sure addition to the Flyers this season, and would have fit in perfectly on that third line with Wayne Simmonds as his set up guy. Frost was drafted 27th overall in 2017 and last season put up 112 points in 67 games for the Greyhounds.

Watching his rookie camp games, he did not seem out of place, but if the Flyers feel this will be best for his development than I fully support the decision. With Couturier and Patrick playing the 1st and 2nd line center, Frost would be getting third line minutes, and their would be no room on the top 2 powerplay units so sending him back to juniors may help his development.

The only issue with this move is, Frost put up 112 points last season, what else does he have to learn in the OHL? Sometimes sending players back to Juniors only stunts their development because they are to good for the league and they start to become lazy players because its almost to easy for them. In this situation I hate the NHL’s rule about sending junior age players back to junior instead of the AHL. Frost is a prime example of a player who is not quite ready for the NHL but to good for junior, so the AHL is the ideal place for him.

See below some highlights from Frost last season in the OHL: Thanks to Philadelphia Flyers Highlights Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0z_X4mYLk3TudRCVdlhz-w

Is Gretzky Truly The Great One?

THE SNIPER PERSPECTIVE

I was scrolling through Reddit when I came through this interesting stat someone mentioned, and I thought it would be an interest to you all as well. 

Some people always talk about how good Gretzky was, would he survive in todays game, was he even good enough to compete in today’s game etc.. well… Listen to this.

During Gretzky’s career he played in 1487 games, recording 2857 points, which is averaging 1.92 points per game. If he chose to never retire, and continued playing until today, that would have been another 1360 regular season games. If he played in all these games and did not record a SINGLE point, it would have just been this past season that he became a less than point per game player. 19 years! It would have taken 19 years for Gretzky to become under a point per game. 

To put into perspective only 5 current players who have played at least 500 games are over a point per game.

Sidney Crosby: GP: 864   Points: 1116  P/GP: 1.29

Evgeni Malkin: GP: 784   Points: 930   P/GP: 1.18

Alex Ovechkin: GP: 1003   Points: 1122  P/GP: 1.12

Patrick Kane: GP: 822   Points: 828  P/GP: 1.007

Steven Stamkos: GP: 664  Points: 668   P/GP: 1.006

Those are some pretty big names, lets see what their point per game would be if they played an additional 19 years without getting a single point! 

So yes, Gretzky is truly.... the GREAT ONE. 

 

 

Story credit: Integral Hockey

Pacioretty Has Finally Been Traded!

THE SNIPERS PERSPECTIVE

Finally after months and months of waiting and months and months of rumours, Pacioretty has been TRADED to the Vegas Golden Knights!

Has Bergervin finally made a good trade? Lets break it down.

 cap friendly.com

cap friendly.com

Pacioretty is a proven goal scorer and is going to make a great addition to any team that he is on, so the Vegas Golden Knights just added a great player to their roster who is capable of scoring 30+ goals. 

But this is where it gets interesting … and Montreal fans, listen close. You just traded a 30 goal scorer, for a 20 goal scorer, a 2ndround pick, and a grade A prospect who is … listen for it .. a CENTER. Montreal you just traded for a center. Suzuki may not be the fix of the teams down the middle needs this season, but he certainly is a top 6 center in the upcoming year or two. He is a very talented player, and Montreal has just made a great move.

Personally I don’t understand it from a Vegas perspective as they are not exactly stock piled in prospects, and continuing to trade away picks and prospects is a little weird in my eyes, considering what they did last year, you would think they would just wait and let their team develop and move forward with the team they already had. But we will see.

Folks, we had a trade, and it was finally a trade that was positive for the Canadiens. 

If … they play Suzuki at center.

Ranking Of The Top 30 Right Wingers For The 2018/19 Season

THE SNIPERS PERSPECTIVE

Here are my personal Rankings for the top 30 RIGHT WINGERS in the NHL for the upcoming season.

These rankings are based both on skill and a complete game. 

1. Nikita Kucherov, TBL

2. Patrick Kane, CHI

3. Patrik Laine, WPG

4. Vladimir Tarasenko, STL

5. Leon Draisaitl, EDM

6. David Pastrnak, BOS

7. Blake Wheeler, WPG

8. Mitchell Marner, TOR

9. Phil Kessel, PIT

10. Brock Boeser, VAN

11. Mark Stone, OTT

12. Mikko Rantanen, COL

13. Joe Pavelski, SJS

14. Alexander Radulov, DAL

15. Mikael Granlund, MIN

16. Jakub Voracek, PHI

17. Cam Atkinson, CBJ

18. William Nylander, TOR (maybe)

19. Wayne Simmonds, PHI

20. T.J. Oshie, WSH

21. Viktor Arvidsson, NSH

22. Brendan Gallagher, MTL

23. Anthony Mantha, DET

24. Alex DeBrincat, CHI

25. Evgenii Dadonov, FLA

26. Sebastian Aho, CAR

27. Kyle Palmieri, NJD

28. Jordan Eberle, NYI

29. Sam Reinhart, BUF

30. Elias Lindholm, CGY
 

Prediction:

** 31 ** Tom Wilson will have a big season and move his way into the top 20 in 2019.

Rankings of The Top 30 Left Wingers In The 2018/19 Season

THE SNIPERS PERSPECTIVE

Here are my personal Rankings for the top 30 LEFT WINGERS in the NHL for the upcoming season.

These rankings are based both on skill and a complete game. 

 

1. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH

2. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS

3. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD

4. Claude Giroux, LW, PHI

5. Artemi Panarin, C/LW, CBJ

6. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL

7. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH

8. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY

9. Jonathan Marchessault, C/LW, VGK

10. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, WPG

11. Jeff Skinner, LW, BUF

12. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA

13. Jake Guentzel, LW, PIT

14. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL

15. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL

16. Anders Lee, LW, NYI

17. Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, FLA

18. Zach Parise, LW, MIN

19. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, CGY

20. Rickard Rakell, C/LW, ANA

21. James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI

22. Evander Kane, LW, SJS

23. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL

24. Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, MIN

25. Brandon Saad, LW, CHI

26. Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL

27. Kyle Connor, LW, WPG

28. Kevin Fiala, LW/RW, NSH

29. Vladislav Namestnikov, C/LW, NYR

30. J.T. Miller, LW/RW, TBL

Rankings Of Top 30 Centers in The 2018/19 Season

THE SNIPER PERSPECTIVE

Here are my personal Rankings for the top 30 centers in the NHL for the upcoming season.

These rankings are based both on skill and a complete game. 

 

1. Connor McDavid, C, EDM

2. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT

3. Mark Scheifele, C, WPG

4. John Tavares, C, TOR

5. Auston Matthews, C, TOR

6. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH

7. Jack Eichel, C, BUF

8. Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT

9. Steven Stamkos, C, TBL

10. Nathan MacKinnon, C, COL

11. Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL

12. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA

13. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK

14. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH

15. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS

16. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA

17. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI

18. Ryan Johansen, C, NSH

19. Sean Monahan, C, CGY

20. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, STL

21. Brayden Point, C/RW, TBL

22.Mathew Barzal, C, NYI

23. Logan Couture, C, SJS

24. Jeff Carter, C, LAK

25. Sean Couturier, C, PHI

26. Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA

27. Nico Hischier, C, NJD

28. Ryan O'Reilly, C, STL

29. Eric Staal, C, MIN

30. Nolan Patrick, C, PHI

 

What are your rankings?

2018/19 Standings & Playoff Prediction

The Snipers Perspective

Here are my predictions for the upcoming season and playoffs!

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic

Tampa Bay Lightning - 118

Toronto Maple Leafs - 110

Boston Bruins - 105

Metropolitan

Washington Capitals - 103

Pittsburgh Penguins - 100

Columbus Blue Jackets - 98

 

JUST MISSED!

New Jersey Devils - 96

Buffalo Sabres - 93

Wild Card:

Philadelphia Flyers - 97

Florida Panthers - 97


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Pacific

San Jose Sharks - 102

L.A Kings - 100

Edmonton Oilers - 99

Central

Winnipeg Jets - 115

Nashville Predators - 110

St. Louis Blues - 100

JUST MISSED!

Dallas Stars - 93

Calgary Flames - 91

Wild Card

Minnesota Wild - 98

Anaheim Ducks - 96


PLAYOFF MATCHUPS

Round 1

Eastern

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers    (Tampa in 6)

Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers (Washington in 5)

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins (Toronto in 7)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Columbus Blue Jackets (Columbus in 7)

Western

Winnipeg Jets vs Anaheim Ducks  (Winnipeg in 5)

San Jose Sharks vs Minnesota Wild (San Jose in 6)

Nashville Predators vs St. Louis Blues (St.louis in 7)

L.A Kings vs Edmonton Oilers (Edmonton in 7)


Round 2

Eastern

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs (Tampa in 7, setting record for highest scoring series)

Washington Capitals vs Columbus (Washington in 6)

Western

Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues (Winnipeg in 6)

San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers (San Jose in 6)


Round 3

Eastern

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Washington Capitals (Washington in 7)

Western

Winnipeg Jets vs San Jose Sharks (Winnipeg in 7)


Finals!

Winnipeg Jets vs Washington Capitals

Game 1: Washington 4 - Winnipeg 1

Series: WSH 1 WPG 0

Game 2: Winnipeg 5 - Washington 2

Series: WSH 1 WPG 1

Game 3: Winnipeg 3 - Washington 2

Series: WPG 2 WSH 1

Game 4: Washington 6 Winnipeg 1

Series: WPG 2 WSH 2

Game 5: Winnipeg 2 Washington 0

Series: WPG 3 WSH 2

Game 6: Winnipeg 5 Washington 4

 

AND YOUR 2019 STANLEY CUP WINNERS ARE THE WINNIPEG JETS!

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Round 2: True or False?

The Snipers Perspective

Answers will be saved for a possible prize at seasons end!

Comment your answers below!

 

1.    Mike Hoffman will be a 30+ goal scorer

2.    Jack Eichel will outscore Connor McDavid

3.    The Montreal Canadiens will make the playoffs

4.    Vasilevsky will lead the league in wins

5.    Arizona will make the playoffs

6.    Patrice Bergeron will win another Selke

7.    The Golden Knights will miss the playoffs

8.    Kucherov will score 40+ goals

9.    Tyler Seguin will outscore Taylor Hall

10.   Washington Capitals will win back to back

‘Bend the Knee’ Senators

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THE SNIPERS PERSPECTIVE

To all you Game Of Thrones fans out there, this may sound familiar. For Jon Snow to receive the reinforcements he needs to fight the White Walkers, Daenerys, Mother of Dragons asks him to bend the knee. Which originally he refuses, but in the end he realizes it must be done because its what’s best for his people, to protect them (Spoiler alert).

Well, Ottawa Senators fans, its time to ‘bend the knee’ to the rest of the National Hockey League. Last season the Senators finished second last place. Far from the team that was once 1 goal away from the Stanley Cup finals. They had the 27thplace powerplay, 26thworst Penalty Kill, 24thworst at shots for per game, and were 7thfor the most shots against per game. None of these stats say anywhere near a successful season.

 Photo: sportsnet

Photo: sportsnet

Adding insult to injury, the Hoffman Karlsson drama led to the team trading one of their most consistent goal scorers. 

So, Ottawa, its time to bend the knee and surrender the 18/19 season and start a full rebuild. Melnyk should be onboard, right? This means rookie contracts, minimal salary payments, and staying at the cap floor. He’s seeing dollar signs as we speak. 

Only problem is will the fans appreciate a rebuild?

I think if the team truly shows they are trying to improve for the future, sens fans just “just” might. It’s time to trade Karlsson, he has requested a trade, and he truly does not want to be a Senator anymore. But do not worry; the haul Ottawa receives in return for Karlsson will be enormous! If this trade is done with Tampa Bay like formally believed to have been, the Senators are guaranteed some top 6 young talent and a possible grade A young talented defenceman coming back in return. 

Now the next player that needs to be moved is Stone. With the one year contract he just signed, he becomes a UFA at seasons end if he has not resigned. He wants 9 million per season, and if Melnyk was only willing to pay Karlsson 8.5, there is no chance Stone will be receiving 9. So if we learned anything from this past offseason with the Tavares situation, its better to receive something for a player than nothing! While I do believe keeping stone around is the correct move, if the Senators cannot sign him to a multiple year extension by February he must be traded, or you risk having him walk in free agency.  And as a trade deadline deal, if Tomas Tatar can bring in a return of a 1st, 2nd& 3rdround pick, you can guarantee Stone will be worst atleast 2 first rounder’s. 

With White, Brown & Tkachuk developing, Chabot & Ceci on the backend, and the possible returns for Karlsson and Stone, this rebuild could be over and back to competitive before you know it!

Bend the Knee Ottawa, bend the knee!

 

You have $10, build your perfect line!

  Photo by Bar Down Hockey - Facebook    https://www.bardown.com/

Photo by Bar Down Hockey - Facebook

https://www.bardown.com/

The Snipers Perspective

You have $10 to build that perfect line! Post your chosen line below in the comments! 

Bonus points: (1) Purchase one additional player for the Penalty Kill (4 players total)

Bonus points: (2) Purchase 2 players you believe can play defence! (5 players total)

 

REMEMBER TO COMMENT YOUR CHOSEN TEAMS BELOW! 

 

Let's all thank Bar Down Hockey for the photo, and fun that fantasy teams bring us! 

https://www.bardown.com/

 

The Snipers Perspective chosen team is: Tavares - McDavid - Scheifele

Bonus (1)  Tarasenko - Kuznetsov - Kucherov  and Toews for the Penalty Kill

Bonus (2) Marner - Scheifele - Tarasenko   With Toews & Kopitar on defence

10 True or False questions for the upcoming season

The Snipers Perspective

Answers will be saved for a possible prize at seasons end!

Comment your answers below!

 

1.    Tampa Bay Lightning will win the presidents trophy?

2.    Alex Galchenyuk will have more points than Max Domi

3.    The Buffalo Sabres will make the playoffs

4.    Connor Mcdavid will win the scoring race

5.    Erik Karlsson will remain an Ottawa Senator

6.    Alex Ovechkin will win the Rocket Richard Trophy

7.    Rasmus Dahlin will win the Calder Trophy

8.    The Chicago Blackhawks will return to the playoffs

9.    John Tavares will outscore Austin Mathews

10.  The Ottawa Senators will win the Stanley Cup

The Rise Of Galchenyuk With The Yotes

Galchenyuk.jpg

The Snipers Perspective

So, who remembers the center drafted 3rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2012, to become a center. His name is Alex Galchenyuk. I remember Galchenyuk, but never him being a center. Oh wait, I do, in 2015-16 he played center, and scored 30 goals and 56 points. Was he ever put back in that position? No. 

Why might you ask? The coach saw him as a defensive liability. A 22 year old, still learning the game. You learn by making mistakes, and they never gave him the chance to learn from them, instead they punished him by immediately removing him from a position that made him the 3rdoverall pick. Do you think Crosby wasn’t a defensive liability when he joined the league? Of course he was! Now look at him, hes one of the greatest two-way players in the game.  

I believe the Canadiens are going to suffer for this mistake. 

The GM of the Coyotes instantly announced they will be letting Galchenyuk play center with the Yotes. He is going to Arizona with the potential to be a superstar, he is playing in a market with no where near the amount of pressure he had in Montreal, and joining a team of young players like himself who are full of talent. 

He will be starting off at second line center most likely between Strome and Perlini, and I can see him moving up to play with Keller very quickly. 

I am very anxious to see him become the center he was meant to be, drafted to be, and has the potential to be. And it may not be next season but in the 2019-2020 season when the Coyotes have centers Stepan, Galchenyuk, Strome & Dvorak all playing to their potential, Arizona will be one scary team.

 

My prediction for Galchenyuk next season is 25 goals 40 assists. Then surpassing both in the 2019-2020 season. You heard it here first!

Are The 2018-2019 Sabres The Real Deal?

The Snipers Perspective

The Buffalo Sabres won the draft lottery and had the pleasure of drafting projected superstar defencemen Rasmus Dahlin. Defence has been a well-known weakness in Buffalo. So does bringing in this soon to be superstar enough to make them a contender? 

How do they look down the middle? They have GM Jack Eichel, Rookie Casey Mittelstadt, overpaid third line center Patrik Berglund and also some players like Reinhart, Girgensons, Larsson who have played center in the past. We know Eichel has the potential for 80+ points, and we know what Berglund is capable of, the unknown is what Mittelstadt is capable of. In his short stint last season he managed 5 points in 6 games, which looks good, but how is this going to translate to a full season. I believe he will be capable of putting up between 40-50 points this season. 

Which should be good enough for a second line center right? 

The Sabres have been busy this offseason, drafting Dahlin, trading for Sheary for basically nothing, and trading away Olympic center Ryan Oreilly for veterans Berglund, Sobotka and rookie Tage Thmpson. Did they win this trade? Personally I think no, but they did improve their bottom 6 while freeing up a spot for rookie Mittelstadt to take over. 

Now the defence. Ristolainen continues to improve; you know what you are getting from Scandella. A responsible dman who is capable of 19 minutes, Jake McCabe is very underrated and I believe is capable of top 4 minutes, Beaulieu who is …. Well …. He is there.  Then there is the brittle as a cracker Zach Bogosian, who was supposed to be a superstar but has never played a full season in his career. If he could stay healthy that would drastically improve the D core but the issue is…. he cant.  Let’s see how Dahlins offensive abilities boost these guys this season.

Goaltending. This is a major weakness. They let 26 year old starting goalie Robin Lehner walk in free agency, for a 32 year old Carter Hutton who is a career backup and besides last season has never posted a save average above .918. While 2 of the 3 seasons Lehner has been with a terrible Buffalo team he has posted above .920. Does this make sense to anyone else? Ullmark had good NHL and AHL numbers last season, but he cannot immediately make the jump to starter, he needs one season as a full time NHLer playing 30-40 games because you give him the reins, and I don’t believe Carter Hutton is capable of 40+ games.

 

So while this lineup looks very good on paper:

Sheary – Eichel – Reinhart

Rodrigues – Mittelstadt – Okposo

Sobotka – Berglund – Pominville

Larsson - Girgensons – Thompson

Scandella – Ristolainen

Dahlin – Bogosian/Hunwick

Beaulieu – Mccabe

Hutton

Ullmark

I believe they make a push for the playoffs, closer than they have been in the Eichel era, but I still believe they miss the playoffs because of goaltending.