Based on what has already been seen, this NHL season is going to be a very interesting one. There is still a lot of movement as teams finalize their rosters and make last-minute deals, but, for the most part, everything is in place and it’s time to get serious. Watching the numbers rise and fall, some teams need to get more serious than others.
The Boston Bruins are getting off to a good start, intent on making another run on the Stanley Cup this year. They fell short last season, but this is a new year and they have already won their first three games. Last week, they were sitting in fourth place in the Super 16 rankings, but are now in first.
Whether they can retain that position remains to be seen. Tuukka Rask, the team’s leading goalie, had to be taken off the ice due to problems with his leg at the end of the team’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights this past Tuesday. It turns out, according to Rask, that he only suffered leg cramps, but fans will definitely be keeping an eye on him. He made 31 saves against the Golden Knights and the Bruins can’t afford to let him sit in the box.
The Bruins aren’t the only squad to have gotten off to a great start. The Carolina Hurricanes are also 4-0 and this allowed them to jump up nine spots, moving from 15th to 6th in the rankings. That was the biggest climb for any of the teams that make an appearance on the Super 16 list.
Elsewhere, Patrick Marleau is back with his old team. The center signed with the San Jose Sharks this past Tuesday after having spent 17 years with the team from 1997 to 2017. He then spent two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded to the Hurricanes during the offseason, only to now return to his old stomping grounds. Marleau is one of those players who doesn’t seem to ever stop and the Sharks could use his talents. They’re off to a 0-3 start this year and need someone to help out their offense.
The Florida Panthers just picked up a ringer in their new goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky. The team was in desperate need of someone with true skills to guard the net and Bobrovsky certainly fits the bill. He has been among the top five of all goalies in the NHL over the past seven years and should prove to be worth every bit of the $70 million the team paid. With a .913 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average, it’s easy to see why he would command such a price.
Joe Pavelski is now with the Dallas Stars and this should prove to be a win-win for both the player and the team. Pavelski is one of NHL’s top scorers, and has been for the past six years, and is expected to add a lot of depth to the team. He switched from the Sharks to the Stars in the offseason, agreeing to a three-year, $21-million deal.
Out of all the offseason deals, the biggest was probably the one made by the New Jersey Devils to pick up P.K. Subban. He had been with the Nashville Predators, but they needed room under their salary cap to bring in Matt Duchene and the Devils were the only team willing to buy Subban’s complete contract. That comes as the team is still trying to reach an agreement with its captain, Roman Josi, as complications have come up over money. The Predators want to extend his contract, but Josi is reportedly looking for at least $9 million. He has indicated that he’d be willing to take a discount to keep the squad together, but he probably isn’t willing to come close to the current $4-million cap in place.
With several key moves taking place during the offseason, there is still a lot going on. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now facing a difficult decision about swaps after two of the team’s best players, Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad, are injured and are going to be out at least four weeks. The Penguins desperately need some offensive assistance and they might be forced to get rid of someone like Erik Gudbranson or Jack Johnson to be able to bring in a ringer. Before it can do that, though, the team has to figure out how to work with just $100,000 in salary cap space.