Midseason Report Grades for Each NHL Group
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Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Put up through Getty Pictures
The 2023-24 NHL season is at its midway level and that may solely imply one factor—it’s report card time!
Come together with us as we hand out grades for all 32 NHL groups to verify in on their progress.
Grades not solely keep in mind the group’s precise efficiency, but additionally what the expectations had been at the beginning of the season. Some groups, like Chicago and Montreal, had been anticipated to wrestle as they rebuild, so their grade won’t be as harsh as a group like, say, Ottawa or Buffalo that was anticipated to compete for a playoff spot.
All superior stats, scoring probability numbers and anticipated objective numbers come from Natural Stat Trick.
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Leo Carlsson.Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
Within the standings, the Geese look nearly an identical to the way in which they did a yr in the past and are once more one of many worst groups within the NHL. However expectations had been low coming into the season. That is nonetheless a group very a lot in a rebuilding section, they usually haven’t had their full allotment of gamers this season.
Trevor Zegras has solely performed in 20 video games and has had horrible capturing share luck.
No. 2 total decide Leo Carlsson appears to be like like an rising star however can be sidelined for an prolonged interval due to harm.
Alex Killorn and Mason McTavish have additionally missed video games.
They merely wouldn’t have the depth to beat these types of absences.
The outcomes are the identical, however the variables are a little bit totally different they usually appear to be a extra composed group below first-year coach Greg Cronin. There’s a clear core of younger expertise in place and it’ll take a while to show it right into a contender.
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Clayton Keller.Norm Corridor/NHLI through Getty Pictures
It stays to be seen whether or not or not the Coyotes have the expertise to sneak right into a playoff spot this season, however they’ve made important progress and appear to be a really aggressive NHL group.
The very fact they’re nonetheless in rivalry for a playoff spot midway by means of the season might be greater than most individuals moderately anticipated this season.
The most important game-changer for them has been Connor Ingram giving them better-than-league-average play in objective (.915 save share coming into the weekend).
They might nonetheless prefer to see extra from 2022 No. 3 total decide Logan Cooley (simply three targets midway by means of the season), however he has star potential and they need to be affected person with him.
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Brad Marchand.Norm Corridor/NHLI through Getty Pictures
The Bruins misplaced plenty of expertise this offseason due to the retirements of facilities Patrice Bergeron and David Krejčí in addition to the trades and free company departures of veterans Taylor Corridor, Nick Foligno, Dmitry Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi. It could have been simple to foretell a giant drop of their efficiency, however they continue to be probably the greatest groups within the NHL on the midway level.
They nonetheless have some top-tier gamers in David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy, however the greatest affect has come from their goaltending duo of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. They continue to be probably the greatest goaltending duos within the NHL, and they’re masking plenty of flaws which may exist on this group below the floor.
Boston might nonetheless use some extra scoring depth, and their 5-on-5 efficiency as a group has taken a step backward this season as their anticipated objective share of simply 49.1 % is twentieth within the NHL coming into play on Friday. A yr in the past, that quantity was over 53 % and eighth within the NHL. The continued excellence of Ullmark and Swayman hides that drop.
The Bruins are a powerful group, however they might most likely use a little bit extra ahead depth, particularly at heart.
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Tage ThompsonJeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
This yr was presupposed to be totally different.
This was presupposed to be the yr the playoff drought ended. It would not appear as if that’s going to be the case.
After lacking the playoffs by only one level a season in the past, the Sabres are one of many Jap Convention’s worst groups on the midway level. Even worse, they appear to have misplaced many of the pleasure that surrounded the group a yr in the past and raised expectations. They had been one of many highest-scoring groups within the league throughout the 2022-23 season and have dropped all the way down to twenty first this season, shedding greater than a half-goal per sport.
Add within the defensive and goaltending points and you’ve got the recipe for a foul—and uninteresting—group. They will want an enormous second half to ensure the playoff drought doesn’t develop by one other yr.
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Nazeem Kadri.Terence Leung/NHLI through Getty Pictures
The most important factor the Flames wanted this season was for a few of their big-money veterans—notably Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri—to have huge bounce-back seasons.
It hasn’t occurred. That’s particularly the case for Huberdeau, whose contract is now trying like it’ll be one of many worst offers in your complete NHL. It’s powerful to win when your $10.5 million man has 23 factors in 42 video games and doesn’t present something defensively.
The excellent news for the Flames is beginning goalie Jacob Markstrom has bounced again with a powerful season in web and has stored them aggressive. However that is nonetheless an underwhelming group with plenty of pending free brokers (Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev) that must be promoting on the commerce deadline.
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Brady Skjei.Kevin Sousa/NHLI through Getty Pictures
The Hurricanes didn’t have the early begin they most likely wished, however they’re beginning to warmth up.
Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have each been white-hot offensively over the previous couple of weeks, and the Hurricanes are once more posting dominant possession numbers. Their 55.6 % anticipated targets share throughout 5-on-5 play is third-best within the NHL as they persistently tilt the ice of their favor.
What makes their total file much more spectacular is the actual fact they haven’t acquired any first rate goaltending. Pyotr Kochetkov is the one of the three goalies to look in a sport this season that has a save share of .900 or higher for the season, and now he’s injured and anticipated to be sidelined for a bit. That’s going to be an issue.
The Hurricanes are a powerful sufficient group that they’ll overcome these goaltending points within the common season, however it might be a difficulty within the playoffs towards higher groups (and higher goaltending on the opposite finish of the ice). It may be an space that must be addressed.
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Connor Bedard.Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
The Blackhawks had been by no means presupposed to be good this season, so it is arduous to present them a failing grade for his or her file, particularly given the accidents they’ve handled. However it additionally hasn’t been a very robust exhibiting by anyone outdoors of No. 1 total decide Connor Bedard. And even he’s injured proper now.
That is going to be a prolonged rebuild, however the excellent news is that they’ve a cornerstone participant to construct round in Bedard. When wholesome, he appears to be like like he has the juice to not solely be a celebrity, however a megastar. They simply must hold him wholesome and get him much more assist in any respect ranges of the roster.
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Cale Makar.Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
The Avalanche once more appear to be an absolute pressure within the Western Convention thanks principally to the dominant efficiency from their prime stars.
Nathan MacKinnon is taking part in at an MVP stage with 67 factors in his first 42 video games, Mikko Rantanen is on tempo for 100 factors, Cale Makar is on a 100-point tempo over 82 video games as a defenseman and Valeri Nichushkin is having a profession yr.
They simply would possibly want two issues to place themselves excessive: a little bit further scoring depth past the top-three forwards, and for beginning goalie Alexandar Georgiev to return to his 2022-23 kind. Georgiev has been a little bit underwhelming up to now this season (.897 save share coming into the weekend), and he must be higher to make the Avalanche a real top-tier contender. He’s able to it. He simply must get there once more.
Columbus Blue Jackets
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Johnny Gaudreau.Len Redkoles/NHLI through Getty Pictures
There are three forms of unhealthy groups.
There are the groups which might be rebuilding and easily have a younger, inexperienced roster. Some groups are attempting to be good and are unfortunate due to accidents, unhealthy luck or another bizarre randomness. Then there are the groups that attempted to be good and easily failed by constructing a horrible roster.
The Blue Jackets are an instance of the third.
They tried. They actually tried. They spent huge cash in free company on Johnny Gaudreau a yr in the past. They spent huge cash by including Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson this offseason. They talked about how they wished to contend sooner somewhat than later.
They don’t seem to be even shut. They’re one of many worst groups within the league, uncared for a few of their greatest wants (heart, goaltending, offense) after which embarrassed the group as an entire with the failed Mike Babcock expertise that by no means even made it to coaching camp.
Only a royal mess from prime to backside and a effectively earned F on the midway level by everyone concerned.
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Jason Robertson.Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
The Stars may need one of the vital full rosters within the NHL.
Jason Robertson is a bonafide celebrity, Joe Pavelski is an ageless surprise and nonetheless going robust, Roope Hintz has blossomed right into a top-line offensive pressure and veterans like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Matt Duchene nonetheless have one thing to present offensively.
They’re additionally getting a breakout efficiency from younger defenseman Thomas Harley with 9 targets in his first 37 video games.
What makes the Stars’ efficiency much more spectacular is that they have probably the greatest information within the league and have acquired considerably disappointing performances from second-year ahead Wyatt Johnston (23 factors in 40 video games) and beginning goalie Jake Oettinger (.901 save share). Oettinger can—and will—be higher, and when he’s on prime of his sport is a possible game-stealer. When he will get scorching, this group might go from Stanley Cup contender to Stanley Cup favourite.
Detroit Pink Wings
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Patrick Kane.Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
In some unspecified time in the future, the Pink Wings are going to want to start out making some progress, or the Steve Yzerman period goes to start out trying like a failure. The progress remains to be restricted, and the group remains to be principally mediocre.
The excellent news is the Pink Wings do not less than one factor effectively—they’ll rating. Quite a bit. They’re one of many highest-scoring groups within the league and are getting an enormous efficiency from offseason addition Alex DeBrincat. Even Patrick Kane appears to nonetheless have one thing left within the tank offensively. It’s a balanced group that is without doubt one of the highest-scoring groups within the league.
The issue is that they merely can’t cease anyone.
They’re permitting 2.70 anticipated targets per 60 minutes throughout 5-on-5 play (twenty fourth within the NHL) and are getting among the league’s worst goaltending on prime of it. Giving up too many probabilities and never having the goalie to cowl for it’s a unhealthy mixture and can probably hold the Pink Wings out of the playoffs as soon as once more.
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Connor McDavid.Invoice Smith/NHLI through Getty Pictures
The Oilers had a horrible begin to the season that resulted within the firing of head coach Jay Woodcroft. However even whereas that was occurring, there have been nonetheless encouraging indicators that this group would get away of it.
For one, they’ve two of the perfect offensive gamers within the NHL on their roster in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Second, their 5-on-5 possession numbers had been persistently the perfect within the NHL.
Virtually each single one in all their issues might be traced again to goaltending. Jack Campbell confirmed he wasn’t the reply, whereas Stuart Skinner had a dreadful begin. When Skinner began giving them nearer to league-average play, the wins began coming in bunches, they usually began quickly climbing the standings.
General, this group must be a Stanley Cup contender and is beginning to appear to be it. The goaltending—and the entrance workplace’s dealing with of that state of affairs over the previous couple of years—drops them down a letter grade from the A they might have.
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Sam Reinhart.Scott Rovak/NHLI through Getty Pictures
Florida Panthers: A
There was a query as to which Panther group we might see this season.
Would it not be the group that underachieved throughout the common season and barely snuck into the playoffs due to some assist from different groups shedding?
Or would it not be the group that went on a dominant run within the playoffs and reached the Stanley Cup Last?
Midway by means of the season, we are able to see that it’s the latter. And they’re doing it whereas celebrity ahead Matthew Tkachuk obtained off to an incredibly sluggish begin and has simply 12 targets by means of the primary 41 video games.
Tkachuk is beginning to warmth up once more, whereas Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart (who’s taking part in his technique to an enormous contract in free company) have been persistently robust all yr.
The goaltending duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Anthony Stolarz has additionally been surprisingly robust with effectively above league-average play (each have save percentages of .912 or higher).
This group appears to be like legit.
Los Angeles Kings
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Pierre-Luc Dubois.Zak Krill/NHLI through Getty Pictures
The Kings wanted two issues to occur this season for them to step ahead as a official Stanley Cup contender within the Western Convention.
They wanted Quinton Byfield to turn out to be an affect participant, they usually wanted anyone to solidify their beginning goaltending spot.
Each issues have occurred.
Byfield is having a breakout yr whereas taking part in within the Kings’ prime six and is on tempo for greater than 20 targets and 50 factors, each of which might obliterate his earlier profession totals. That could be a large growth for the Kings. However the greatest growth has been Cam Talbot taking the No. 1 goalie spot and operating with it. He has a .922 save share by means of his first 28 video games. It appeared like a possible weak point within the preseason, however goaltending is such a wildly unpredictable place that typically these types of performances occur.
The one participant the Kings do want extra from this season is Pierre-Luc Dubois. They paid an enormous worth to get him—each by way of belongings and wage—and will not be getting what they hoped for. He must be higher for the Kings to go the place they assume they’ll this season.
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Marc-Andre Fleury.Sam Hodde/Getty Pictures
The Wild are at an enormous drawback in comparison with the remainder of the league due to their salary-cap state of affairs. The buyouts to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are nonetheless crushing their potential to construct a whole roster, and whereas plenty of flaws existed a yr in the past, they obtained the goaltending from Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury to masks them.
They don’t seem to be getting that goaltending this season.
Even worse, plenty of their prime stars—Kirill Kaprizov, and Mats Zuccarello—have taken a small step backward offensively.
The Wild do have a few promising rookie performances from ahead Marco Rossi and defenseman Brock Faber, however they don’t seem to be sufficient to cowl up for all the different issues.
Gustavsson’s regression may be the most important disappointment, as a result of he seemed like he had an opportunity to be a franchise goalie a yr in the past. He has not been horrible this season, however he hasn’t been something near a game-changer, both.
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Cole Caufield.David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
That is most likely the best-case situation for this roster. They’re aggressive, they’re seeing some manufacturing and enchancment from their younger gamers (particularly Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield), however they merely wouldn’t have the depth or total expertise to be a playoff group.
The opposite necessary growth could be veterans having huge seasons to spice up their commerce worth.
They’ve three NHL-caliber goalies in a league the place a number of contenders want assist in web, whereas veteran ahead Sean Monahan has rediscovered his sport in Montreal. All of these gamers might be helpful commerce chips so as to add extra belongings to the rebuild.
Canadiens followers must have persistence, as a result of they’re nonetheless a couple of years away.
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Roman Josi.Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
In case you are trying on the big-picture outlook, it will be honest to surprise what precisely the Predators are hoping to perform.
The franchise has been caught within the NHL’s center floor for a couple of years now, and it wants all the pieces to go completely simply to get a Wild Card spot (and summarily exit within the first spherical). There’s some worth in making the playoffs, however they don’t seem to be getting any nearer to a championship.
When it seemed like they may be beginning a rebuild going into the offseason, they went out and signed veterans Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist to multiyear offers to hitch their core. Up to now, these offers have been fairly profitable. O’Reilly and Nyquist are two of the Predators’ top-three scorers, and Nashville is taking part in pretty effectively as a group.
The fascinating factor about this Predators group is that beginning goalie Juuse Saros is normally one of many variables that should get completely for them to have an opportunity. And he has not fairly been himself this season. Being in playoff rivalry on the midway level with a down yr from him is a really encouraging signal, and it is a testomony to the job first-year head coach Andrew Brunnette is doing.
New Jersey Devils
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Nico Hischier.Scott Taetsch/Getty Pictures
It’s so arduous to pretty decide this group proper now. On one hand, they’re performing effectively beneath expectations after coming into the season as a possible Stanley Cup favourite.
The outcomes don’t match that hype.
However accidents have utterly ruined New Jersey’s season, as Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton and Timo Meier have all missed important time. These will not be simply run-of-the-mill gamers. These are stars and the inspiration of the group, they usually’re not simple to exchange, particularly contemplating the variety of video games they’ve missed.
Additionally they have main points in objective.
You possibly can perceive accidents holding them again as a result of there may be nothing you are able to do about your prime gamers going out of the lineup. That’s simply unhealthy luck.
You possibly can, nevertheless, blame the Devils for the goaltending points, as a result of everyone knew that was going to be a query mark coming into the season they usually merely selected to do nothing about it. That is on them.
New York Islanders
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Brock Nelson and Mat Barzal.Mike Stobe/NHLI through Getty Pictures
In the event you have a look at the general level complete and the Islanders’ place within the standings, issues are going pretty effectively right here. And sure, that does depend for one thing. It’s the solely factor that counts on the finish of the season.
However that is nonetheless a reasonably baffling group.
Getting into play on Friday, they’d misplaced two extra video games than they’d received, had a detrimental objective differential (minus-11), and had been a bottom-10 group in targets scored, targets towards, the penalty kill and their anticipated objective numbers. Virtually all the pieces about their precise on-ice play form of…effectively…stinks.
The 2 exceptions to which might be their energy play, which is superb, and the actual fact they’ve two nice goalies in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov.
Sorokin deserved critical MVP consideration a yr in the past for dragging this group into the playoffs, and whereas he has not been fairly as dominant this season, he has nonetheless been one of many driving forces behind their success.
New York Rangers
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Artemi Panarin.David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
The Rangers have plenty of the identical flaws they’ve had for years because it pertains to ahead depth and 5-on-5 scoring.
However they nonetheless have an elite energy play, they nonetheless have a celebrity goalie (Igor Shesterkin) they usually have an MVP candidate this season in Artemi Panarin.
Additionally they have one thing else they’ve lacked in earlier years—a head coach (Peter Laviolette) that appears to have a plan and extra of a training method than simply asking individuals to play more durable, which was seemingly the one factor Gerard Gallant did.
They might nonetheless use greater performances from the the highest picks (Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko when he returns) however they do have the inspiration to compete within the Jap Convention. Their potential to get extra out of Lafreniere and add ahead depth will go a good distance towards figuring out what their ceiling is that this season.
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Vladimir Tarasenko.Codie McLachlan/Getty Pictures
Much like Buffalo and Columbus, this can be a group that attempted to be good this season. Ottawa invested closely on this core group of younger gamers and have tried so as to add to it with the latest additions of Jakob Chychrun and Joonas Korpisalo.
However none of it’s working.
The scoring depth is unhealthy, the protection is worse and Korpisalo doesn’t appear to be the long-term (or short-term) reply in objective. As an alternative, now the Senators have his brutal contract to fret about.
There was a official perception this group might compete for a playoff spot this season and be enjoyable to observe. As an alternative, they’ve taken an enormous step backward and fired head coach D.J. Smith, however there are manner greater issues than simply the pinnacle coach.
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Jamie Drysdale.Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Pictures
You need to give the Flyers plenty of credit score, as a result of the one expectation for this group coming into the season was for them to stink. Badly. They’re rebuilding, the roster is skinny, they traded much more veterans this offseason and lacked star energy.
However head coach John Tortorella has them in playoff rivalry and taking part in powerful, thrilling hockey. They defend arduous (2.39 anticipated targets towards per 60 minutes is eleventh within the NHL) and play an aggressive attacking fashion offensively that results in plenty of odd-man rushes.
One of many huge constructive developments this season has been the return of Sean Couturier from a again harm that just about value him two full seasons. He has not less than given them a viable No. 1 heart and has been an enormous addition. Additionally they obtained Cam Atkinson again after he missed all of final season as effectively.
This group is way from a completed product and nonetheless has an extended technique to go, however no one in Philadelphia goes to complain a couple of surprisingly aggressive, hard-working group that’s exceeding expectations.
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Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.Maddie Meyer/Getty Pictures
After lacking the playoffs for the primary time in additional than a decade-and-a-half, the Pittsburgh Penguins refused to start out rebuilding and doubled down on their core by buying gamers like Erik Karlsson, Lars Eller and Reilly Smith over the summer season.
The outcomes have been combined.
The positives listed below are that the Penguins are probably the greatest 5-on-5 groups in hockey by way of each objective differential and scoring probabilities/anticipated targets. They’re additionally getting much better goaltending from the duo of Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedelkjovic than anyone might have moderately hoped for.
The negatives are that their energy play has badly underachieved they usually nonetheless lack bottom-six scoring depth.
The facility play is the baffling concern right here, as a result of it not solely just isn’t producing targets, however it’s also giving up shorthanded targets, not even coming near scoring on most nights and actively costing them video games. There’s an excessive amount of expertise right here for that to be occurring. They’re beginning to get again observe over the previous month-and-a-half and climbing again towards a playoff spot, however the energy play must be higher for them to get there and be capable of do one thing.
San Jose Sharks
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Anthony Duclair.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Pictures
You hate to pile on a group that’s clearly within the early phases of a much-needed rebuild, however this is without doubt one of the worst non-expansion NHL groups we’ve seen in a long time.
The Sharks began the yr 0-10-1 after which had an excellent worse stretch later within the yr by shedding 12 consecutive video games in regulation. They gave up 10 targets in back-to-back video games at one level and have allowed not less than seven targets 5 instances.
There’s simply nothing constructive to remove from this group this season aside from the actual fact they’re taking a look at the perfect draft lottery odds.
Settle in, Sharks followers. This rebuild goes to take a very long time.
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Vince Dunn.Steph Chambers/Getty Pictures
The Kraken obtained off to a horrible begin, however are lastly beginning to get rolling over the previous month.
They’ve been hit arduous by a capturing share regression this season at a group stage, sending them to the underside of the league in targets scored. Additionally they haven’t seen a giant second-year soar from Matty Beniers, as he had simply six targets and 19 complete factors by means of the group’s first 41 video games coming into play on Friday. Expectations ought to have been increased for him.
The most important constructive growth right here has been the stunning emergence of Joey Daccord in objective.
He has taken over the No. 1 spot and owned a .925 save share coming into the weekend, making him one of the vital productive goalies within the NHL. Goaltending has been an enormous weak point for the Kraken within the first two years of their existence, regardless of the actual fact they made large investments within the place on the growth draft.
It turned out to be Daccord who would resolve the place (for now).
St. Louis Blues
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Robert Thomas.Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures
Normal supervisor Doug Armstrong has completed plenty of nice issues for the Blues throughout his time with the group, together with the actual fact he constructed the franchise’s first Stanley Cup winner.
This present group, nevertheless, leaves quite a bit to be desired. It ended up costing head coach Craig Berube his job earlier within the yr.
The most important concern with the Blues is the actual fact they’ve large cash tied up in defensemen Colton Parayko, Torey Krug and Justin Faulk, in addition to goalie Jordan Binnington, and they’re nonetheless solely 18th within the league in targets towards per sport. Even that’s solely as a result of Binnington is having an honest season and not less than taking part in at a league-average stage.
The Blues have additionally taken a giant step backwards offensively, going from fourth in targets scored two years in the past, to sixteenth a yr in the past, and now all the way down to twenty sixth this season.
It’s only a very flawed, incomplete group that doesn’t appear to have a lot of a route or id proper now.
Tampa Bay Lightning
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Steven Stamkos.Mark LoMoglio/NHLI through Getty Pictures
Due to Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Level, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Brandon Hagel, the Lightning can nonetheless rating targets with the perfect of them. And all the aforementioned gamers are having monster years offensively.
The issue this season is Tampa Bay is not stopping anyone, and essentially the most baffling downside of all of them is beginning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy merely appears to be like…human.
Vasilevskiy has been probably the greatest goalies on the earth for near a decade and helped make the Lightning one of many league’s finest groups. However after lacking the primary a part of the season due to harm, he has not but rounded again into kind and is having the worst season of his skilled profession with a sub-.900 save share.
Is it simply him making an attempt to work his manner again? Or is that this the start of the top of his time as an elite goalie within the NHL? If it’s the latter, that’s unhealthy information for the Lightning’s short-term outlook as Stanley Cup contenders.
Toronto Maple Leafs
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William Nylander.Mark Blinch/NHLI through Getty Pictures
This is identical Toronto Maple Leafs group we see each single season.
Their top-four forwards (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander) are all nice.
Their scoring depth is a priority.
Their goaltending is a giant query mark.
And now they’ve one other uncertainty thrown into the combo, as they’re legitimately struggling defensively. Most years when individuals complain in regards to the Leafs’ protection, it’s sometimes an overstated—and typically lazy—concern, as their metrics are usually quite a bit higher than they get credit score for. That’s not the case this season, as they rank twenty first within the NHL in anticipated targets towards per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play. That’s not good for a playoff group!
They’re profitable video games within the common season, however this recipe has not labored within the playoffs for them. Why ought to this yr be any totally different?
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Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller.Mike Stobe/NHLI through Getty Pictures
What an absolute wagon this group has turn out to be out of nowhere. There was at all times a proficient core group of gamers right here, and all the pieces has lastly clicked for them this season.
Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes are all among the many top-15 scorers within the NHL, Hughes is taking part in like an early Norris Trophy favourite, they usually have discovered a big-time companion for him in final yr’s trade-deadline addition Filip Hronek.
Thatcher Demko has additionally had an enormous bounce-back yr in objective and is having a improbable season. The Canucks wouldn’t have nice underlying numbers, and their depth leaves a little bit one thing to be desired, however these top-end guys and their goaltending can take them fairly far.
Even when there may be some form of capturing share regression within the second half, they’ve given themselves an enormous cushion within the Pacific Division that the playoffs must be thought-about a lock at this level.
Vegas Golden Knights
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Jack Eichel.Jeff Vinnick/NHLI through Getty Pictures
This season has been a story of two groups for the Golden Knights.
They began the yr on an 11-0-1 run and seemed like a Stanley Cup repeat was probably on the horizon. Since then, they’ve gone simply 13-13-4. Which group is the true Golden Knights?
Probably the most encouraging growth is that Stanley Cup-winning goalie Adin Hill has picked up the place he left off within the playoffs and has performed like a No. 1 goalie.
However they’ve some actual depth questions offensively on the wings (particularly on the left facet) and are going to want to deal with these earlier than the commerce deadline. They don’t seem to be more likely to catch Vancouver within the Pacific Division at this level, they usually should be apprehensive about Edmonton and Los Angeles behind them.
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Alex Ovechkin.John McCreary/NHLI through Getty Pictures
The Capitals had been off to a fantastic begin into November, however the entire thing appeared like a mirage. Their underlying numbers had been horrible, their prime veterans weren’t producing, their energy play had been terrible and plenty of their success was centered on backup goalie Charlie Lindgren standing on his head.
None of that was a long-term, sustainable recipe for fulfillment.
Certainly, it has not been.
The Capitals nonetheless have all the similar issues talked about above and are now not getting the outcomes to cover it, profitable simply two of their earlier 9 video games going into Friday.
This appears to be like like a second straight non-playoff season, with Alex Ovechkin’s quest to catch Wayne Gretzky’s objective file being the must-see attraction.
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Josh Morrissey.Jonathan Kozub/NHLI through Getty Pictures
Identical to Vancouver, that is one other mid-season Stanley Cup contender that has merely come out of nowhere. The Jets have been utterly mediocre for years, stored just about the identical core, didn’t make main trades until they needed to, and by no means actually dipped into the free-agent market.
Fortunately for them, their top-end forwards are excellent and their goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, is without doubt one of the finest within the league.
Hellebucyk is having a sensational yr, and the group in entrance of him is matching it. Probably the most fascinating factor about their latest success is that plenty of it has come with out prime ahead Kyle Connor, who has been sidelined since early December.
There’s additionally nothing to recommend any of this success is a fluke. The Jets are seventh within the league in anticipated targets towards, eighth in anticipated targets share and are one of many prime 5-on-5 groups within the league. The whole lot is clicking for them this season. They appear to be a official Stanley Cup contender on the midway level.