The NHL never ceases to amaze me. Is it not the most odd thing perhaps in sports that their free agency has this flurry of signings right out the gate, and then all of a sudden by about 7PM EST on July 1st it goes dead? Why? You look at the remaining UFA’s, there is actually a lot of quality players out there, and yet in the three days since it has essentially been crickets. And chances are, it’ll probably be this way until September 3rd, which is the day after Labour Day. Why don’t we just say that the league completely shuts down all operations from July 3rd until September 3rd? A full two months off, rather than pretending that’s not what happens?
Anyway, with things completely dead, it’s a good time to look at where these teams stand. Obviously a Jake Gardiner here, a Ryan Dzingel there and maybe it makes a difference to a squad heading into the 19-20 season, but why wait? It’s summer, what in the fuck else are we going to talk about? The lake? That place where we get maybe a max of five days during the summer that are good and we are forced to make the most elaborate meals that require an insane amount of work while we’re supposed to be RELAXING?!? That place? The lake and new year’s eve are the two most overrated things on the planet. Like, why is it that I have the same amount of fun on any random Friday that I have at the lake or on NYE?! If they’re so great, wouldn’t this NOT be possible? Neither suck, they’re just badly overrated and this annoys me to no end.
With that being said, let’s see who I overrate…
31. Ottawa – It’ll be a hell of a long climb back for them.
30. Detroit – Stevie Y is likely going to do a great job, but he’s just getting started.
29. Los Angeles – It’s pretty bleak at the moment.
28. Buffalo – Watch out for Dahlin this season. Talk about under the radar, he had 44 points as an 18 year old on a terrible team. Kids a star. But outside of him becoming a Norris contender AND Eichel being a Hart contender, I don’t see how this team can do anything.
27. Edmonton – I’m just resigned to this at this point. Look, I had no visions of Holland turning them into a contender overnight and have always maintained they just needed to work with what they have at this point and wait out some of this mess. But Holland doesn’t seem to have much of a plan, which was exposed with the Sekera buyout. If he’s waiting a year, then why buyout Sekera now? If he’s not, then why not also buyout Gagner and Manning to give them 6.9 mil in extra space? Because he didn’t have a plan. It was never going to look great, but a good GM does better than he has to this point.
26. Columbus – I worry this might be a little low for them. I know what they’ve lost, but they also still have some terrific pieces. But until Korpisalo proves himself as a starter, this is where they sit.
25. Minnesota – If you’re Mats Zuccarello, why them?!?!? I’m sure there is some reason, but it’s definitely not because you believe you can win. I don’t think they’re done, and again I’ll suggest to Ken Holland that they are ripe for the picking right now with Spurgeon.
24. Chicago – That Robin Lehner signing looks great, but he’s going from one of the best defensive teams in the league to one of the worst. Toews, Kane, Keith, and Crawford are all a year older, and while they have some good young players, I’m not sure they can be much more than they were in 2019.
23. New Jersey – There off-season LOOKS really sexy! Hughes, Subban, and Simmonds, that looks terrific! One problem: Their big issue was goaltending and Ray Shero did absolutely nothing to fix it. Oh, and Subban is coming off his worst season. Oh, and Simmonds is too. Oh, and Hughes is a rookie. Oh, and Taylor Hall STILL doesn’t look like he wants to re-sign there. It’s Elaine looking in the skinny mirror. The dress might look great in the skinny mirror, but not in reality.
22. NY Rangers – Don’t confuse terrific off-season with terrific team. Don’t confuse stockpiled young talent with ready to contend (Jeff Marek). I’m as high on what the Rangers have done as anyone. But the fact of the matter is they still have a very young roster and I’m not a fan of what they have down the middle. If they make the playoffs this season I won’t be surprised at all, but I’m not going to have them as a lock for it as many others likely will.
21. Vancouver – Tricky team to rank for me. On one hand, you look at what they added to last years team and they look ready to be a playoff team. So why am I not putting them there? Markstrom. Did he turn a corner in his career last season, or was it a career year? That J.T. Miller trade suggests it better well not be just a career year, otherwise, it’ll be a pretty damn nervous fan base in Vancouver heading into the 20-21 season.
20. Anaheim – Probably higher than most have them, and I’m not sure I’m the biggest fan of putting them this high. But I find myself often drinking the Dallas Eakins kool-aid. I believe he’ll have learned a ton from the Edmonton experience, he has a shit ton of young talent to work with in Anaheim, and by far the most important thing is he has a goaltender. And not just a goaltender, maybe the best in the league in John Gibson.
19. Montreal – There is potential to move much higher here. Kotkaniemi taking a massive step wouldn’t shock me, and Poehling being a major contributor wouldn’t shock me either. But I believe both may need to happen for them to get back in the playoffs.
18. Arizona – I’m guessing most will have them at least in the top three in the Pacific if not winning the division because if they were that good unhealthy, just imagine when they’re healthy!!!…and with Kessel!!! I don’t know if it’ll play out quite like that.
17. Colorado – I love this team and love even more where they’re headed. But it’s the future that looks amazing there, not the present. The present looks good enough to make the playoffs again, but I believe they’re a year or two away from really contending.
16. Carolina – I don’t know if I like them this high. They made the Conference finals, just about everyone will be back, great. But Mrazek is so inconsistent between the pipes and now they have Reimer coming in who looked simply awful last season for the Panthers, a step back could be coming. Having said all that, they’re one of the most well-run organizations in the league despite a lot of noise that points to the contrary.
15. NY Islanders – Varlamov was an odd signing, but Barry Trotz gets everything out of any goaltender he has and Varlamov might be inconsistent but he is extremely talented. Add to that, the decision to let Lehner walk and bring in Varlamov seems very sloppy…I’ve called Lamoriello overrated many times before, but he’s not at all sloppy. The man knew exactly what he was doing here.
14. Philadelphia – If they have a full season of Carter Hart and JVR, they probably make the playoffs last season. I hate the Hayes contract like everyone, but he should help improve them as should Vigneault.
13. Pittsburgh – I don’t like where this is headed. I like the Kessel deal for them, but it really feels as though they’re big time on the decline.
12. Winnipeg – Probably more than any other team in the league right now, this is a “wait and see”. Connor and Laine aren’t signed, and looking closely at their roster I simply don’t see a way they go into next season with this blueline. Woof. Josh Morrissey might be the most underrated defenceman in the league right now, but he can’t do this on his own. I know Byfuglien is still around, but he’s 34. And after those two they have NOTHING. The Trouba trade badly hurt them, and in my opinion, now they will have to move out one of Ehlers, Connor or Laine to fix it.
11. Florida – If Bob plays how he can, this team is a lock for the playoffs and built for a deep run. Joel Quenneville is fine, but it’s Bobrovsky who’ll make or break their season.
10. Calgary – I don’t know that last season is repeatable, as they got career years out of a ton of guys. But let’s not confuse “might not be as good” with “won’t be good”. I still would guess they’ll compete for the Pacific title and are a lock to be top three in the division.
9. St. Louis – The last time I did rankings they were nowhere near here. Boy how times have changed…but as far as repeating, I have a tough time believing they’ll do that.
8. Dallas – The blueline is a year older, they should be able to score a bit more, I believe they can win the West this season but Jim Nill still will need to add.
7. Washington – Death, taxes, Ovy gets 50, and the Caps win the division.
6. Vegas – Stone made a big difference in their lineup once he arrived and if not for that horse shit call on Eakins they might return to the final last season. I kept waiting for the bubble to burst on them, but last year proved they were no fluke.
5. Nashville – Subban out, Duchene in. Interesting. I don’t have the best feeling about them moving forward, almost as though they’ve lost their magic as stupid as that sounds. But just on paper, they still should be elite.
4. San Jose – It looks like such a cap mess, but somehow Doug Wilson always manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat and do anything he wants to.
3. Boston – It’ll be interesting to see how they respond. I believed this time last year that they had caught lightning in a bottle, yet they went to game seven of the final this past year. They have so many kids who aren’t stars but are just really damn solid.
2. Toronto – What have I been telling all of you? Dubas is an awesome GM, knows exactly what he’s doing, and they’re going to be fine. As of writing this, Marner isn’t signed, but you think this guy isn’t prepared for anything that might be coming in terms of an offer sheet?! Barrie is an upgrade on Gardiner, and Spezza should be able to handle the 3rd line duties.
1. Tampa Bay – Fuck the sweep, they’re going to be great again.
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