Marc Bergevin

Carolina Hurricanes: Désolé Marc! Sorry Marc!

featured image photo credit – Lisa Gansky/Wikimedia Commons

The Carolina Hurricanes are set to match the Montréal Canadiens offer sheet on Sebastian Aho. 

To nobody’s surprise, General Manager Don Waddell has announced they will match. The 21-year old Finnish superstar will be remaining in Carolina for another 5 years. They currently have not signed the final contract, but have another six days to do so. So, as it appears, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has lost the battle to Waddell.

The deal is for $42.27M spanning 5 years (2019-2024), with an average annual value of $8.454M. It’s a great contract, both for Aho, and for the Carolina Hurricanes. Both in terms of value and in terms of length. It wasn’t exactly what the team would have liked. But Waddell doesn’t feel it will hinder the team’s development.

The Finnish superstar

Those new to the Carolina Hurricanes might not realize just how important he is to the franchise. The Rauma, Finland native, Sebastian was drafted by Carolina in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, 35th overall. In three seasons with the Hurricanes, he’s managed to secure himself as the premier skater of the franchise. Most recently he established himself as a point-per-game player, registering 30 goals and 53 assists (83 points) in the 82 game regular season. This marked him as the sixth player in franchise history to record a minimum of 30 goals and 50 assists in the same season. Aho’s also the fourth player in franchise history to tally 80 points prior to turning 22.

The Finnish center is also amid good company in league record books as well. Starting the 2018-19 season, Aho went on to have a 12-game point streak (4g-13a) from Oct 4th-Oct 30th. Both being franchise records for longest assist streak and points streak. This run also tied the league records for the longest season-opening assist streak streak. Previous players to mark this achievement include Wayne Gretzky and Kin Linesman. An effort that saw him awarded 3rd star of the week by the NHL on Oct 15th. Aho would go on to have five additional point streaks of 4 or more games, and only once suffered a three-game points drought.

Sebastian also registered a total of 20 multi-point games across the 2018-19 season. This includes his second career hat trick on Jan 13th against the Nashville Predators, and four four-point games. Finally, Aho is also tied for second in franchise records for most short-handed goals in a single-season with four. It is the most by a Carolina skater since the 2005-06 season when both Justin Williams and Eric Staal both registered four a piece.

Career Highlights

In 242 NHL games, Sebastian has a record of 83g-114a (197 points) and averages 18:07 minutes time on ice. Aho represented the Hurricanes in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose. He’s also won one Gold Medal (IIHF World Junior’s – 2016 [Finland]) and two Silver Medals (IIHF World Junior’s U18 – 2015 [Switzerland] & IIHF World Championships – 2016 [Russia]) with the Finnish national team.

We’ll Keep You Posted

The Puck77 crew will keep you posted as soon as the Carolina Hurricanes formally announce that they have signed Aho.

stats from eliteprospects.com and hockey-reference.com

Andrew Shaw

Montréal Canadiens: Getting Value For Shaw

featured image photo credit – mark6mauno/Wikimedia Commons – cropped slightly

The Montréal Canadiens struck a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier today. The Canadiens dealt Andrew Shaw and a 2021 7th round draft pick to the Blackhawks for a 2020 2nd round draft pick, a 2020 7th round draft pick and a 2021 3rd round draft pick.

In the tweet below, you’ll see the Montréal Canadiens twitter show the trade in a lovely graphic. Looks better than my opening paragraph, eh?

Jokes aside. This trade is a great one for the Canadiens. Andrew Shaw was eating up 3.9 million in cap space. Plus, he was coming off of a strong season, in which he managed to tally 19 goals and 28 assists (47 points) in 63 games. His point total was a career high. Shaw had never managed to muster 40 points in a seas on prior to last year.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin sold at the right time. He didn’t sit back and see if Shaw could have another stellar season in 2019-20. Instead, he pulled the trigger and agreed to a trade with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.

Personally, if you had asked me who won this trade, I’d give the edge to the Canadiens. If Shaw put up another mediocre campaign, Bergevin would never have received this kind of return. Instead, Bergevin stockpiles draft picks for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and now has 12 draft selections. Twelve. Yep, you read that correctly. He’s got twelve picks for next year’s draft. It’s going to be one of the best draft classes in NHL history and now Bergevin has the chance to snag many assets for the Canadiens. In addition, he could use some of his fourth round draft picks (he’s got four of them for the 2020 Draft) and move up.

Also, the Canadiens add 3.9 million in cap space and now have 13.55 million in space. The Canadiens have a plethora of space and can now target some much needed depth forwards. There are quite a few forwards on the market, who could be great fits for the Canadiens. Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Derick Brassard, Patrick Marleau, Mats Zuccarello, Wayne Simmonds and Anders Lee are available.

For the Blackhawks, I simply don’t understand why Bowman agreed to this trade. I understand that the Blackhawks have quite a bit of familiarity with Shaw. Shaw had played in Chicago for five seasons before packing up and moving to Montréal. But, if Bowman truly was familiar with Shaw, he’d understand that Shaw isn’t a top six forward. He had a solid campaign in Montréal, but the production isn’t consistent with his production in previous seasons. Also, Bowman is giving up a second round pick, when he could easily get a top six forward for the future in next year’s draft. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense and it’s an awful move for Chicago.

stats from hockey-reference.com

Follow Josh Tessler, the author of this post on Twitter (@JoshTessler_)

Not Panda Watch, It’s Time For Erik Karlsson Watch

Last summer, we saw the Toronto Maple Leafs sign John Tavares on day one of free agency. This summer, San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is set to test the free agent market. 

It’s been a topsy-turvy year and a half for Erik Karlsson. Karlsson and his wife dealt with the Mike Hoffman situation, Eugene Melynk’s mismanagement and a bunch of turmoil in Ottawa. Fortunately for Karlsson, he was able to evade the frustration in Ottawa. Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion pulled the trigger on a trade with the San Jose Sharks and shipped Karlsson off to the Northern California. On September 13th, Karlsson and Francis Perron were dealt to the Sharks in exchange for Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, Rūdolfs Balcers, a first rounder (2020), a second rounder (2019) and a conditional second rounder (2021).

After joining Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the Sharks defensive core, Karlsson had some health challenges. He had sustained a groin injury and thus he was kept out of the lineup for 27 games. His health wasn’t great at times, but neither was his offensive production. In 53 games played, he tallied 3 goals. It’s the lowest amount of goals scored in his career. Karlsson has lost his 5v5 goal scoring touch. The hope is that Karlsson will redeem himself next season and get back to his old self.

Where Will Karlsson Play?

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But, the bigger question is where will Karlsson play next season? 

His tweet that he wrote after the San Jose Sharks were eliminated in the playoffs made it sound like his days in the Silicon Valley were done. In addition, its been rumoured that his wife, Melinda would like to return back to Ottawa. But, does that mean that Karlsson feels the same? He left an organization that was in shambles and it might take quite a bit of money for Karlsson to forgive and forget. 

The good news is that if he does return to Ottawa, he’ll be alongside elite defenseman Thomas Chabot and a rising core of youthful talent. Brady Tkachuk is emerging, Drake Batherson and Alex Formenton are almost ready to make the leap and Erik Brännström is a top defenseman in the making. Everything is looking good for the Senators long-term, but can Karlsson forgive the Senators front office? 

If he can forgive and forget, he’d be a great addition to the Senators. But, it still might be a couple of years before the Senators are contenders. They need more than just Karlsson, but if they can land Karlsson, it’ll give the Senators leverage in attracting other top free agents.

Montreal 

The other two teams that have best chance of landing Karlsson are the Montreal Canadiens and the San Jose Sharks. 

Last off-season, the Habs lost out on Tavares, but had a great season. They added Max Domi via a trade with the Arizona Coyotes and Brendan Gallagher was easily the best 5v5 goal scorer in the NHL last season. While the Habs weren’t able to make it to the playoffs, they just need a piece or two to be a true playoff team. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin needs to add a defenseman and should look to add some forward depth. If he can add Karlsson, he’d have one of the best defensive groups in the NHL. Karlsson would also take a ton of pressure off of Shea Weber. Both defenseman play on the right side and with Karlsson present at the Bell Centre, the Habs could scale back Weber’s minutes. 

San Jose

In addition, the San Jose Sharks could theoretically re-sign Karlsson. But, the main issue is cap space. The Sharks have quite a few pending free agents including Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Timo Meier, Joonas Donskoi, Michael Haley and Gustav Nyquist. The Sharks need to keep Meier and at least two of those forwards to stay competitive next season. So, if Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is looking to re-sign Karlsson, he’s going to have to create some cap space. Wilson could look at trading Justin Braun and/or Brenden Dillon to free up some space, but either way, the Sharks will put themselves in a whole new cap crunch. If Karlsson and Meier both sign long-term contracts, they’d have seven players on the hook for next five years. Given the salary situation in San Jose, the Sharks might be better off bowing out of the Karlsson sweepstakes. But, who knows what will go down.

Tampa

A lot of hockey fans speculate that the Tampa Bay Lightning will be in on the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes, but I’m not sure that will happen. The Lightning are in a bad cap crunch and need to re-sign Brayden Point. In addition, the Lightning need to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevskiy next off-season. With how much money top defensemen and goaltenders are being paid these days, the Lightning simply can’t afford Karlsson. They’d have to move quite a few pieces to cough up the cap space and that might hurt them in the process. So, if you are a Lightning fan and are hoping for a Victor Hedman and Karlsson pairing, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high. 

Dark Horses

Instead, I believe that there will be two dark horses who will jump into the sweepstakes. They haven’t been mentioned yet in the rumor mill, but they likely will soon. 

The New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins are my two dark horses. 

Islanders

The Islanders need a true offensive defenseman. They need someone who can step in and be the number one defenseman. Barry Trotz needs a John Carlson in Long Island. If Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello can land Karlsson, he’ll get a “John Carlson” and a whole lot more. Karlsson can control the tempo of the game, he’s got great hands, phenomenal speed and a laser of a shot. He’d be a welcomed addition in Long Island. The only issue is Lamoriello’s shaving policy. I’m not sure if Karlsson will be on board for shaving his facial hair. But, who knows? 

Bruins

Like the San Jose Sharks, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins were interested in bringing John Tavares to Boston. Well, that failed, but I’m not sure that the Bruins see it that way. They are in the Stanley Cup Finals. Regardless if they lose to the St. Louis Blues, they have outplayed the Toronto Maple Leafs during the season and in the playoffs. Even though secondary scoring was needed in Boston, they went the cheaper route and acquired Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson at the deadline. That seems to have worked well. 

But, the Bruins will be in a challenge next off-season. Torey Krug, John Moore, Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton will all test the market. There is a good chance that Chara will retire. He is 42 years old and I can’t imagine that he’s going to play till 50 like Tom Brady. In addition, Krug has been a tad inconsistent throughout his time in Boston. Krug is dominant in the offensive zone, but isn’t always reliable in the defensive and/or neutral zone. Moore has been in and out of the lineup. Grzelcyk and Clifton will get raises. But, even if Grzelcyk and Clifton remain, the Bruins will still need to fill a couple of holes on defense and Karlsson would be a great stop gap.

stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com

research from CapFriendly.com

Nashville Predators: Subban’s Inconsistency & Trade Destinations

It’s been rumoured that the Nashville Predators will explore a trade involving all-star defenseman P.K. Subban

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Subban has been an all-star multiple times throughout his ten seasons in the NHL and won the Norris Trophy in 2013. While he’s had an outstanding ten seasons, he been mentioned in trade rumours off and on. After the 2015-2016 season, the Montreal Canadiens felt that a change was needed. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin decided to trade Subban to the Predators. In return, the Canadiens received defenseman Shea Weber. This was a controversial trade at the time. Subban loved playing in Montreal and was loved by the fans. Bergevin faced criticism for trading Subban for an older defenseman who has had injury concerns. 

Since coming to Nashville, Subban’s play has been a tad inconsistent. During his 2016-2017 season, he played in 66 games, had 10 goals, 30 assists, 16 power-play points, 24:24 average time on ice (ATOI), 58 take-aways and a 54.4 corsi-for percentage (CF%). In Subban’s 2017-2018 season, he bounced back and he was stellar in the offensive zone. In 82 games, Subban recorded 16 goals, 43 assists, 25 power-play points, 24:07 ATOI, 97 take-aways and a 51.2 CF%. Last season, his offensive production stalled out once again. In 63 games played, Subban recorded 9 goals, 22 assists, 10 power-play points, 22:40 ATOI, 57 take-aways and a 53.4 CF%. 

What’s Causing The Inconsistency?

With his inconsistency in the offensive zone, we should take the time to point out what is causing the drop in offensive production prior to taking about potential destinations. 

The biggest issue is that Subban is no longer a “carry-in specialist”. Earlier on in his career he loved to control the puck and create zone entries, but that’s no longer the case. Predators fans did catch a glimpse of Subban going back to his old carry-in tendencies in his 2017-2018 campaign, but that he failed to carry that over into his 2018-2019 campaign.

In addition, he’s not generating that many shots. Subban’s PSC/60 was fairly lower than you’d expect.

In the visual below (visual from Sean Tierney), you’ll see that Subban wasn’t a puck carrying defenseman neither was he generating scoring chances/generating shots last season.

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from EvolvingWild and Corey Sznajder

Potential Destinations

Perhaps Subban would benefit from being in a different defensive unit. He played extremely well in his days with the Montreal Canadiens and maybe a different coaching philosophy would be beneficial to Subban’s production. 

With that in mind, there are several clubs across the NHL that could use his services.

The Florida Panthers are trying to load up on talent. Panthers general manager Dale Tallon has been rumoured to be chasing after Evgeni Malkin, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. If a couple of those engagements go sour, Tallon could see Subban as a Plan B.

The Edmonton Oilers desperately need an offensive defenseman talent. The Edmonton Oilers lack a defenseman who they can utilize to quarterback their power-play. While Darnell Nurse hasn’t been awful at running the power-play, Subban would be a huge upgrade. Plenty of the Oilers including Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi would all benefit from having Subban running their power-play. In addition, the Oilers would likely need Subban to be a puck-mover, which would enable Subban to record similar campaigns to his 2017-2018 season.

The New York Islanders would also be a solid fit. They have a ton of cap space. Also, similar to the Oilers as they don’t have a true defenseman who can control their power-play efficiently. Ryan Pulock and Nick Leddy have been holding up the fort, but Subban would be more efficient.

Stay Tuned

The Puck77 crew will keep you up to date and will let you know if a trade will go down involving Subban. Stay tuned.

stats from Corey Sznajder, Hockey-Reference.com, Evolving Wild

visual from Sean Tierney

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

 

 

 

Montreal Canadiens

Montréal Canadiens: Defensive Trade Targets

The Montréal Canadiens need to add a left handed defenseman this off-season.

If you look at the Canadiens lineup, they have a lot of depth on the right hand side, but lack depth on the left side. On the right side, the Canadiens have Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Christian Folin, Noah Juulsen, Josh Brook, Cale Fleury, Brett Lernout. The left side consists of Victor Mete, Brett Kulak, Jordie Benn, Mike Reilly, Karl Alzner, David Sklenička, Otto Leskinen, Xavier Ouellet and Gustav Olofsson

While Kulak and Benn were effective for the Canadiens at points last season, the Canadiens need consistent and more reliable left handed defensemen. 

With that in mind, the Canadiens will likely be testing the trade market and some of the defensemen who they will likely be interested in are Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Murray of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Darnell Nurse

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The second to last time that the Canadiens traded with the Edmonton Oilers for a defenseman, they struck gold. On March 2, 2015, they acquired Jeff Petry in a trade with the Oilers and Petry has been a dependable mainstay in the Canadiens lineup ever since. So, the question is can they do it again?

Last off-season, Darnell Nurse took quite a bit of time to come to terms with the Oilers on a new deal. On September 17th, he signed a two year deal with a 3.2 million USD AAV. 

While Nurse was the best defenseman for the Oilers, he did struggle quite a bit. In the visual below (created by Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder), you’ll see that while Nurse’s possession exit percentage and break-up percentage were pretty solid, he was only a smidge better than Oscar Klefbom and Jason Garrison

With a new regime in Edmonton, perhaps new general manager Ken Holland will look to acquire some extra draft picks in the upcoming draft and utilize Nurse as trade bait. And who knows, perhaps Nurse will fit in a bit better in Claude Julien‘s defensive scheme and have the opportunity to shine. 

Plus, Habs fans should keep in mind that Nurse’s performance last season was much better than Mete, Ouellet, Alzner and Juulsen. So, he would definetly be an upgrade on the left side. Also, Nurse is a physical defenseman (162 hits last season) and he could come in handy when the Canadiens take on speedy clubs like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just try to visualize Nurse on the blue-line shutting down speedy wingers like Zach Hyman, Mitch Marner, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov.

Ryan Murray

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It’s no secret that the Columbus Blue Jackets are in for a crazy off-season. In order for the Blue Jackets to remain a contender for next season, they need to find a way to keep Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene and Zachary Werenski in Ohio. 

With those four big names that need to be locked up, they could potentially run out of cap room and might need to move on from Murray. Murray will be a RFA on July 1st and could get a 4-5 million USD AAV deal.

My concern with Murray is that he’s not a reliable defenseman when it comes to breakups. He’ll get the puck out of the zone, but when it comes to shutting down his opposition, that’s a different story. In the visual below from Sean Tierney (data from Corey Sznajder), you’ll see that Murray is a break-up magician at 5v5. But, if Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen doesn’t expect the Canadiens to overpay for Murray, then perhaps Murray could be an attractive option for Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin.

Bergevin’s Loafers

If I’m in Bergevin’s loafers, I’m making Nurse my priority. Adding Nurse would boost the Canadiens’ blue-line and would add another physical defenseman to the team. Plus, Nurse is pretty solid at offensive production. Last season, he had 10 goals and 31 assists in 82 games. Not bad considering he was on an Oilers club who had trouble scoring goals. 

Worst case, Bergevin can try to acquire Murray and if that falls through then he can try to find a cheap free agent defenseman to try out. 

stats from hockey-reference.com, Corey Sznajder

visuals from Sean Tierney

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals