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WAKEMUP… In last weeks edition I realized after submitting my article that I had missed a mention on one club that I feel will be making some upward movement, and did not expound on a couple of major UFA signings that occurred and how they will impact their clubs playoff opportunities next season. In addition, I came across a very interesting piece on analyzing the various clubs, their subtractions and additions, how it has impacted their Cap situations and how many games these clubs might gain in the “win” column based upon their offseason activity. It was one of the more interesting stories I’ve read this summer and I guess I wasn’t so premature after all to begin considering the upcoming season. I also came across a video clip whereby a pretty well known analyst-former player spoke to the Jake Gardiner situation (still an unsigned UFA) and mostly echoed what I had pointed out last week, that the Maple Leaf’s and he are likely waiting for the Mitch Marner negotiations to conclude at which time his contract talks will accelerate and will get done. He is a top 4 D-man on ¾ of the teams in the league and maybe even a 2 or 3 D-man on maybe 10 different teams. I never thought the Leaf’s wanted him to walk.
First off, the team I neglected to mention, the Florida Panthers have had an impactful offseason so far. Long time goaltender and fan favorite Roberto Luongo has called it a day citing the physical toll his career has had on him, but to make up for that the club signed the highest ranked UFA goalie available in Sergei Bobrovsky. I believe this and the signing of Coach Joel Quenneville will elevate the Cats into the playoffs this year. What will they do once they are there? That’s an excellent question. While “The Bob” is a regular season monster his post season play has been less then spectacular. In this past year, in his last run with the CBJ he finally won the first playoff round of his nine season NHL career making him 1-4 in playoff series. That belies the quality of his regular season play in my opinion. The other major UFA signing was achieved by the NY Rangers when they inked forward sensation Artemi Panarin to a 7 year, $81.5mil deal on July 1. What does that do for the Blueshirts? Let’s dig in.
I still begin each day with info/data checks on all hockey business as I do during the season. Today I read an article in The Athletic titled “How much has each NHL team improved this offseason”? The article examines player adds and subtracts, how those transactions impacted the club’s salary cap and if the moves would add to the team’s previous seasons win totals or subtract from that. This was accomplished by utilizing a formula known as “Game Score Value added” which got its start in the hoops world and used compiled player data to predict how a team would perform. It was advanced to a linear weighted style of formula using goals, primary assists, secondary assists, shots, blocks, faceoff and penalty differential, 5 on 5 Corsi and goal differential.
For the West and in the Central; for CHI, they bring back Andrew Shaw, add G-Robin Lehner amongst other roster shuffles for a net of 3.6 added wins/$7.6mil + salary. The WILD hasn’t done much outside of adding Zuccarello and Hartman and still have a couple of RFA’s to sign. They added $6.5mil to the Cap to get another 1.5 wins and likely no playoff spot. DAL added Pavelski and Perry, shaved $8.3mil from their cap but go back .7 wins. NASH won the Duchene UFA sweeps, took $6.5mil off the Cap to win .5 of a game more. COL did some shuffling, but according to the formula will go down .3 games but save $8.4mil off the Cap. The Champ STL Blues have mostly stood pat, took $3.3mil from their Cap and win .6 of a game less. WINN has lost more then they have added, are down $16.1mil from last years Cap and win 2.9 games less.
In the Pacific; VAN made some solid moves, added $7.8mil to the Cap but will gain a predicted 4.9 wins. ARI picked up scoring forward Phil Kessel, and along with a couple of other moves only changed their Cap by $800k but are adding only 1.7 wins. For the LAK they buyout Phaneuf, take $4.9mil off the Cap for a .8 of a game win addition. For EDM, this piece was written prior to the trade of Milan Lucic, they get back James Neal and their deals were somewhat similar. They save $5.2mil from their Cap to gain .3 of a game in wins. CAL did a goalie shuffle with The Oil, have saved $4.4mil on their Cap and they gain 0.0 in wins. Wow. The VGK lost some valued pieces, save $10.2mil on the Cap and go down .4 of a game in wins. Pretty much all ANA has done was to buyout Corey Perry’s stifling contract. Their cap goes down $4.3mil and they win .8 of a game less. The SJS resigned Erik Karlsson (I would not have) and moved players to fit him in. They took $15.7mil from their Cap but will win 3.1 games less.
Without going in-depth on the Eastern teams, but touching on the important clubs, in the Atlantic FLA adds $10.1 to the Cap but improve by 5.6 games won. That’s huge. Last years President Trophy winner and first round flameout TAM takes $11.8mil from their Cap and only gains .1 of a game won. So, they are static. TOR moved some guys out or didn’t make offers while they still have a couple of signings on the way. Their Cap is down $12.1mil but so are their wins by .8 of a game. The remainder of this Division is unremarkable.
In the Metropolitan; the NYR made the most positive impact, they added $16.6mil to their Cap but achieve 6.0 more wins. The NJD traded for PK Subban, signed Simmonds, and got the #1 pick in Hughes. They take on $10.1mil in Cap for another 1.4 wins. Does Taylor Hall stay after next year? PIT moved out some personnel, Matt Cullen called it a day, they save $4.3mil on the Cap and go down .72 of a game in wins. CAR added $3.3mil to their Cap and go down .6 of a game won. The NYI add only $800k to the Cap, but lost G-Lehner, and are expected to win 1.0 games less. The rest of this group is static, and I might add here that it appears the Pens Champ window is closing fast.
Last week my projected Stanley Cup Conference Semi-Finalists were, NYI, CAR, TAM and TOR in the East. In the West I listed CAL, ARI, COL and DAL. For various reasons I’m still solid on at least 6 of them. I might have to go back to my Magic Eight Ball for more consultation though… PEACE