Hey! Hot Takes is back!! I kind of wonder if this is just going to be another version of the podcast? It easily could be, but we’ll see. Until I start saying “this is pointless, it’s just like the podcast only out on Monday morning” then that’s when I’ll ditch it. But for now, I’ll write it. And the real shit starts this week! As an Oilers fan, it doesn’t quite feel like that, it feels very anti-climatic, but they’ll get going on Saturday and get a bit of a break with the game in Sweden being a Devils home game. Have to take advantage of that though. But you don’t care, you just want me to get to my “hot takes” which for those who haven’t read this before, these aren’t hot takes at all, it just started out as a joke and now has just become the name of my weekly look around the league. HOWEVER…for today, why not actually do that?! So as I type this, I’m not sure I can come up with one for every team, but why not try having a “hot take” for each team in the league?! So…let’s do this!
Anaheim – This is Randy Carlyle’s last season as their head coach, if he even makes the season. The reason being that with Kesler so banged up, Perry out for probably the entire season, and Getzlaf on the back nine of his career, the kids are going to start taking control of this team this season. Carlyle’s ways simply will not work with a younger group, so he’ll be on his way out.
Arizona – This team will badly underachieve. Why is this a hot take? Because a lot of people really like them! Elliotte Friedman thinks they’ll make the playoffs! I’m sorry, a team which had a goaltender with a .930 Sv% in 46 starts and one of the top defencemen in the league finished 29th, but now that they have an underachieving forward who struggled to play centre in the EAST they’re going to the playoffs? Any team can make it, but this might be the most overrated team in the league at the moment.
Boston – They’re going to be 50/50 to get in the playoffs. They MIGHT get 3rd in the Atlantic, they MIGHT get 4th in the Atlantic and if they’re 4th then the 5th place team from the much better Metro division could beat them out. I believe absolutely everything went right for this team from December on. They lived off their top line. Bergeron has to start declining at some point, Chara will continue to gradually fall off, and I don’t believe Marchand can sustain the level of production he’s hit the last few seasons. And none of that can happen for them to stay at that level. I can see a hot start followed by a gradual decline throughout the season and it’ll be a coin toss if they get back in.
Buffalo – Tage Thompson is going to emerge as Jack Eichel’s trigger man. The kid has great size, great wheels, and a GREAT shot. Skinner is fine, he’s likely to have a damn good season, but I just think that Thompson can keep it simple enough to work with Eichel. Skinner has rarely had a centre who can do all the work like Eichel can, so it might be a tough adjustment for him. Thompson won’t need the puck, and that’s what’ll work with a kid like Eichel.
Calgary – Bill Peters will split up Gaudreau and Monahan and keep it that way. They are awesome together, but they don’t NEED each other. They’re both guys who can elevate their own lines, much like McDavid and Draisaitl. And the Flames now have a lot of good players up front where Peters can find other good fits for these guys. I’d put Tkachuk with Monahan and Lindholm and give them all the tough minutes. Then Gaudreau with Backlund who can do the dirty work, and Neal who could live off feeds from Gaudreau. Seems like a lot better use of the personal to me and Peters isn’t a dumb coach.
Carolina – Scott Darling is going to play up to the contract he signed last season. There was not a goaltender who performed well for Bill Peters. Was that coincidence, or something to do with the system? I honestly don’t know. The other thing though is that Darling hadn’t been a starter, and the year of experience was likely a big help to him.
Chicago – Duncan Keith is traded. I feel like he’s still real good, and if Toews keeps trending this way then he can’t be traded, Seabrook definitely can’t be traded, and I don’t think Kane would be traded. So that leaves me looking at Keith who has declined, but he’s still worth the 5.5 mil per he gets. Is he a number one? Those days are likely done. Is he a number three? Yep, probably for another two or three seasons. So Keith probably gets you something good, as long as he’s willing to waive his NMC, but at this point and the way the Hawks are trending, I think he would.
Colorado – Tyson Jost breaks out offensively. I don’t like that they rushed him a bit, but I believe he’s the type of kid who won’t be phased by it. So offensively last season he didn’t add much. But I believe he’s now going to really get it going this season. 50-60 point type season coming for Jost.
Columbus – Bobrovsky and Panarin are getting dealt. I don’t know if this is that hot of a take, but at the moment everyone seems to think that Jarmo Kekalainen should keep them, and no he shouldn’t. Keep them?!? For what?!?! This teams making a big run are they? They’re setup to win the Cup? Get real. Take their big winning streak away from 2017 and what are they? They’ve won three playoff games, that’s ALMOST enough to win a series. They aren’t good enough! They’re weak down the middle, they rely too much on their goaltender, it’s not a great team! It’s a playoff team, that’s it. So if those two are walking, you’ve now sold your season tickets, trade them and get what you can. And hey, maybe Marc Bergevin would be willing to trade Price and you can turn around and flip those pieces to him. But they shouldn’t piss around with this, it is such stupid management. It was the same logic that Garth Snow ran with last season. The Islanders weren’t winning shit, yet they still risked it. If you’re in position to make a serious run, I get it. The Jackets are in position to make a serious run at maybe making the 2nd round, nobody cares! Trade them.
Dallas – Ben Bishop is supplanted by someone as the teams starting goaltender by seasons end. He was kind of inconsistent last season, and that shocked me seeing how just about every goaltender playing in Ken Hitchcock’s system thrived. Bishop was BETTER than he’d been, but he really didn’t thrive as I thought he would. And he had been very inconsistent prior to that. If he was a legitimate number one guy, Steve Yzerman wouldn’t have replaced him with Vasilevskiy. That could be a bit of a headache for Jim Nill having nearly five million tied up in a backup goaltender. As for who? I know he’s very young, but don’t sleep on Colton Point.
Detroit – They have a sellout after opening night? Man, this organization has gone from the elite to nondescript in a hurry!
Edmonton – McDavid wins the Rocket Richard. When he plays with Nugent-Hopkins he shoots. And when McDavid shoots he is at his best. Add to this, we’ve all heard about him working on his one timer this summer, that’s a nice little add as long as he didn’t use Jordan Eberle’s one timer coach. But I thought this at the end of last season to be honest. He’s going to have that big time goal scoring season like Gretzky had in 82 and Crosby had in 2010. I’ll say he doesn’t just get 50, but 60 (these are supposed to be hot takes not warm takes).
Florida – This is Roberto Luongo’s final season. Like a few of the others, I’m not sure how hot this one actually is, but his contract is in the last season of good pay (by his standards anyway). He only has 3.6 mil left on the deal, and that’s spread out over the next three seasons. I doubt he’s going to stick around for that. Maybe if the Panthers put it all together this season and come close to a Cup he takes one more shot (and that is possible, a lot of talent), but barring that I believe he’ll hang it up and allow Dale Tallon to go after a guy like Sergei Bobrovsky.
Los Angeles – Ilya Kovalchuk will be a complete bust. Six mil times three years, WHY?!?! Maybe he turns back the clock, but Rob Blake just looks desperate giving him that kind of contract. And it was pretty obvious to me that this guy just wanted the life, not to win. He shot down San Jose, it sounded like the Rangers and the Kings were who he pretty badly wanted to go to. Neither are in a position to win. This guy doesn’t play with much speed and never made many guys he played with better. Not a fan of it for the Kings.
Minnesota – The rebuild begins this season. Dusted in five by the Jets, the young talent is ok, but they don’t have a kid who can carry them anywhere. It reminds me a lot of Detroit around 2016. What’s the point in hanging on to that? I doubt Craig Leipold will be a big fan of it, but with Paul Fenton now in as GM I would guess he is going to want to build a team more to his liking and I don’t know that the way they’re currently constructed that it’s to anyone’s liking. This is really a bad situation that Leipold has got them into (I’ve heard Elliotte Friedman suggest that he’s a pretty hands on owner).
Montreal – Max Domi has a BIG season. I get it that people hated the value for the Habs in the trade. But while Galchenyuk has a boat load of talent, he couldn’t tear it up playing centre for an Eastern Conference team. But he’s going to do it playing in the West against MUCH bigger and physically demanding centres?! Domi actually had decent numbers last season, and more so I believe that he is going to thrive in a market like Montreal. Very few in the league are made for the spotlight, but he is one them. I wish they weren’t playing him at centre, he’s definitely better suited to the wing (like Galchenyuk), but he’s going to thrive playing against smaller teams in the East and in the spotlight.
Nashville – They struggle throughout the season. Not to suggest that they’ll struggle to get in the playoffs, but I feel as though they will have trouble between the pipes as they try to figure out if Saros can be relied on for the long haul, and it’ll cause them to underachieve a bit during the regular season. But I feel like it’ll be good for them to see some adversity. You could see last season and I wrote it on here that it was too easy last season. They were flipping the switch in a lot of their games and it finally came back to bite them in the playoffs.
New Jersey – I really had trouble coming up with one, but I finally thought of it last second. This will be Taylor Hall’s last season in Jersey. This is called hot takes and not accurate takes remember. But I don’t see them being as good this season, I think a step back is more likely than maintaining or taking a step forward is, and I believe that Hall is going to take the John Tavares path and just sit back and weigh his options. The Devils aren’t setup well even after the job Ray Shero has done.
NY Islanders – This is a pretty mild one, but Mathew Barzal is going to have a big digression. He is now the man, and he’ll be asked to do a lot of heavy lifting that he might not be ready for. Don’t bail on him as a player, there isn’t much around him, but he got very sheltered last season and is now being asked to be the franchise.
NY Rangers – They’re going to ACTUALLY do a proper rebuild! This is already on going, but I just believe that they’re going to stick this out for the season, which is a bit shocking!
Ottawa – They’re going to be in the playoff race come trade deadline. I’m not saying they’ll be in a playoff spot, but everyone wants to look at what they’ve lost and how much of a shit show it is. 12 months ago we were talking about what a shit show the Avs were. This team still has some talent kicking around. I know how shitty the blueline looks, how old Craig Anderson is, how chaotic everything is. But they won’t rally around that? They have absolutely NOTHING to lose this season, zero expectations. They have a mix of a few front line guys, some real good kids like Tkachuk, Chabot, Colin White, Logan Brown. They have some talent that has underachieved like Bobby Ryan, Cody Ceci, Mikkel Boedker, Magnus Paajarvi. I realize the blueline looks weak at the moment, but watch who they maybe pluck off waivers in the next few days. Finally, Guy Boucher is a difficult guy to play for, but I bet they buy in and when Boucher gets buy in his teams overachieve.
Philadelphia – They’ll make a big play for a big time goalie. Who could that goalie be? How about this…Jonathan Quick. Hextall was with the Kings for a long time as the assistant GM, still has a lot of ties to that organization, I can’t see the Kings being very good this season, he’s one of the few movable big contracts they have, and the Flyers have a lot of bullets in the chamber now. Hextall has done such a TERRIFIC job rebuilding this team, and now they might be a goaltender away from becoming elite. They comfortably made the playoffs last season with Brian Elliott and his .907 Sv% as the number one goaltender.
Pittsburgh – They’ll make a massive splash on the trade market. Phil Kessel is still there…for now…and Kris Letang eats a lot of unnecessary cap space, and if they could shed those two deals then they’d have a ton of room to add a big piece or two and really go hard for their third Cup in four seasons. Crosby and Malkin aren’t going to have too many more cracks at this, so they’ll go hard as they’ve done, while they can.
San Jose – Erik Karlsson won’t improve the team much. He wasn’t a BIG need for their squad, and now Doug Wilson hardly has anything left that would interest teams to help shore them up down the middle. Is Couture a number one centre? Borderline I’d say. He needs a high end number two guy behind him, and it’s Joe Pavelski who is much better suited for the wing. I’m not saying Karlsson doesn’t make them ANY better, but I don’t see them as serious threats to win the Cup and am not sure how they’ll improve on what they’ve got unless Wilson can literally rob a team of an elite centre…good luck with that.
St. Louis – Ville Husso is this teams starting goaltender for the first game of the 2019 playoffs. Jake Allen is wildly inconsistent, and all they got to back him up was Chad Johnson. I like Chad Johnson as a backup, not meaning to bash him at all, but he’s just a good backup. Husso is a highly touted young goalie in their system, and I believe that Allen will really struggle at some point and they’ll give Husso a chance to come up and steal the job. I believe that by April, he’ll be the best option for them.
Tampa Bay – Brayden Point starts getting recognized as one of the elite centres in the league. Probably not that hot of a take, they were a tough team to come up with one for, but I personally never thought Point would be able to play the middle in the show, and he’s not only done it, he’s thrived at it. Tyler Johnson is basically an afterthought. Again I’m going to bring this up, Stamkos, Kucherov and Point should all be carrying their own lines. Tampa has the depth to spread out and allow all three of these tremendous players really tilt the ice.
Toronto – William Nylander will get signed…and then get moved later on for a defenceman. Kyle Dubas MUST shore up that blueline. I still believe they’re two, not just one, defencemen away from being true Cup contenders. That’s terrific that a lot of guys on the blueline can move the puck, they are awful in their own zone. If you have the puck 60% of the game, and the other team only has it 40, that’s awesome, but if when you have it they know how to defend and they have it you can’t, then it sure takes away that advantage. I’m sure that Dubas will look to shore it up by hanging onto Nylander, but the problem is that you can easily find a poor man’s William Nylander. So you go get the stud D-man, using him and maybe a Liljegren or Sandin to do it, and you find that poor man’s Nylander in another deal because they’re a dime a dozen at the trade deadline. This team is really flawed. They can be pushed around easily, can’t defend, and are extremely young. And now they have a massive target on their backs.
Vancouver – They will win Jack Hughes. This pains me to say this because I see so many Canucks fans act like morons on social media. And some of those actually think that Jack Hughes will just force a trade to the Canucks. But what I do think is coming is that they’re due in the draft lottery. And Hughes would be the piece to bring it all together.
Vegas – They implode. Expectations, bigger contracts, bigger egos, Gallant will likely have trouble with buy in from everyone this season, the mix has obviously changed and who knows how guys like Stastny and Paciorietty will fit in, who knows if they can stay as healthy as they did from December on last season, every team now has a season of film not only a season of film but knows how to handle playing in Vegas, it just has every element to come unglued there. I believe they start fine, but slowly fall back to where they’re in the playoff picture but struggling, and by the trade deadline they’re done. They proved me and a lot of other people very wrong all throughout last season, so this probably will be too, but I feel as though the smart thing to do is stick my guns rather than conform and not have the balls to say what I really believe.
Washington – They’ll have another deep run in the spring. I don’t know if they’ll win it, but I said it after they knocked off the Pens that they got the monkey off their backs and could thrive, and that’s what happened. So while I’m not expecting a good regular season, I believe that they’ll be so loose in big situations and this team being one of the most talented in the league, that is such a dangerous combination. I also think the coaching change to Todd Reirden, for this season anyway, will actually really help. I LOVE Barry Trotz and he is one of the best coaches in the game, but more often than not good teams get a jolt from coaching changes.
Winnipeg – Josh Morrissey emerges as a legitimate number one defenceman. He has WAY more to give offensively than he’s shown to this point. He’s the stud D-man there moving forward, not Trouba. Trouba is maybe a little more physically gifted, but the book on Trouba has always been his IQ. Morrissey was CHL scholastic player of the year in 2013.
It is going to be fun for people to go back to this in April and see how wrong these all are. But whatever. Like most things I write, it is well thought out, and I’m not by any means guaranteeing any of these things to happen. But…they could, and you better believe I’ll brag my ass off if I get some of them right and pretend I never wrote this if none of them do!
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