1) With the trade deadline fast approaching, I think we’ll soon see some dominos fall. The chief sellers are likely to be Arizona, Buffalo, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
2) With the Canadian dollar in freefall, the salary cap is not likely to hit the $73M estimated earlier with Gary Bettman recently indicating it may be around $71M . That will have a major impact on teams like Boston, Chicago, the Rangers and Pittsburgh who are going to be in cap hell in the offseason.
3) Teams who have a lot of cap space (like Calgary and Arizona) or who can create it by selling expensive pieces are going to be in a great position to pick up some very good players for pennies on the dollar as we saw last offseason when the Islanders picked up Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy and fast tracked their rebuild right into the playoffs.
4) Worth noting that the league leading Nashville Predators have one of the lowest payrolls in the league at only $61M. Scary to think how good they can be if they pick up a couple of major pieces this summer.
5) Other than Nashville, perhaps one of the league biggest surprises (quietly) is the Detroit Red Wings.
• Detroit is second in the Atlantic Division, one point behind Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay. The Red Wings have won five straight and are 13 points better than were at this point last season. The surprising part is they’ve gotten better with little roster turnover.
“Around July 5 when not much happened last summer, I was disappointed – just like a few of my veteran players who called me were disappointed, too,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think any of us would’ve believed we’d be in this spot, the general manager and myself included.”
So much for those who predicted the Wings would fall apart when Lidstrom retired.
6) The Vancouver Canucks are a bit of an enigma. They remain vulnerable to any of the 5 or so teams chasing them for a playoff spot (although the Canucks have games in hand on most) but what is holding the Canucks back is that they are very mediocre at home (11-8-1) while possessing the best road record in the league (15-8-2). Go figure.
7) It appears the Maple Leafs aren’t going to be signing UFA defenseman Cody Franson to a term and dollars the team likes and will move him shortly. The 6’5″ 215 pound RH shooting defenseman is having a career offensive year with 6 goals and 29 points. The Sicamous, BC boy would look pretty good on the Canucks blue line but I don’t know if the Canucks will be willing to give up much for a playoff rental even with Kevin Bieksa out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. He may end up in Dallas who could also use another RH shot.
8) With Franson on the market, the trade value of Jeff Petry will sink even further. Another RH shot, Petry’s boxcars are pretty bad…4G 6A 10P -22. Disturbing to think Petry is the Oilers best defenseman and they are going to send him away.
9) There’s an old hockey saying…”goaltending is 50% of the game when you have it and 100% of the game when you don’t”. See Winnipeg and Nashville for reference.
10) Want to know why the Calgary Flames could make the playoffs? It’s because they have a 19-8-1 record against WC and a 14-4-1 record agains the Pacific Division. Want to know why the Oilers are in the basement? They have 3-19-1 record against the WC and are 2-14-3 against the Pacific Division.