The best thing I’ve seen in hockey in a very long time was the look on Alex Ovechkin’s face as he was getting ready to hoist the Stanley Cup. That was pure joy. The trophy many thought he was incapable of leading a team to was within his grasp. You want to know the face of perseverance, that was it. Ovechkin became the first Russian born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup.
I wonder how many times the Capitals front office scripted together a “you’re fired” letter for Barry Trotz? He’s been one of the most underappreciated head coaches in this league the past 10 years. My gut tells me it would take a few truckloads of cash and a percentage of merchandising sales to keep Trotz in DC. My guess, however, is he’s gone. Not because he deserves to be fired but because there is a team out there willing to do something Washington hasn’t, show respect.
To all the geniuses that said the Caps were out of their minds when they signed Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million-dollar contract. Who is laughing now? I mean, Orpik was laughing all the way to the bank regardless but GM Brian MacLellan knew exactly what he was paying for back in 2014. MacLellan cashed in on the deal Thursday night.
Talk about a great ride for the fans of the Vegas Knights? The team zipped right through the regular season and cruised all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. The accomplishment was nothing short of extraordinary. What will they do for an encore?
Gerard Gallant is the coach of the year. I wonder if he’ll need a cab ride to the awards ceremony?
Ryan O’Reilly has been traded half a billion times the past four days on social media. I’m not so sure why all the rage? Ryan O’Reilly isn’t the problem in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room. He wasn’t a problem on the ice either. Fans want to bash O’Reilly for his salary, which was the second highest on the last place team. O’Reilly turned 26 this past year and has another five seasons left on the current contract, a $7.5 million-dollar cap hit through 2023. All the guy does is kill penalties, score power play goals and win a ton of face-off’s.
The problem is Buffalo is young, unbalanced and are collectively weak in all areas of the ice. GM Jason Botterill is rebuilding the Sabres the right way but the team is a good two years away from competing with the top half of the Eastern Conference. They have in O’Reilly an experienced veteran that hasn’t reached the prime of his career yet. His offensive numbers will improve as the players around him develop. There is no continuity with the forward lines either, which have been shuffled more times than a deck of cards at the Borgata. Should Buffalo move a player like O’Reilly it could take two players to replace that void. There are certain aspects to his game that will not show up on the stat sheets. Something the analytic nerds will never understand. O’Reilly is the kind of player that you need if you plan on making a run through the Playoff’s. Face-off’s are pretty important, especially when you are down a goal late in a game and draws are even more critical in the offensive zone. Those draws are even more critical when nursing a one-goal lead and the face-off is in your zone. Put a dollar figure on that stat. YouTube Esa Tikkanen or Craig MacTavish and you’ll see how instrumental they were back in 1994 for the New York Rangers.
The NHL Draft is less than two weeks away and everyone knows who the first pick overall will be, Rasmus Dahlin. Who will be the next draft choice and why? The Carolina Hurricanes own the second pick and have a roster begging for improvement. Andrei Svechnikov from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League seems to be a safe bet to go in that spot but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘Canes trade down. I have no doubt Svechnikov could make an impact on an NHL roster sooner rather than later but Carolina is open for business. With all of the glaring holes new GM Don Waddell needs to fill don’t be surprised to see a move here.