Categories
Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Getting back together isn’t always bad (for the Avs, anyway)

The Colorado Avalanche reunited with an old friend on Friday when they acquired defender, Patrik Nemeth, from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2022 4th round pick.

Detroit retained 50% of Nemeth’s cap hit in the deal as Avs General Manager, Joe Sakic, bolstered his blue line depth ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.

Colorado already has a tremendous roster on paper, but likely could use a solid backup goaltender and whatever added depth they can find for the stretch run in the event of injury.

The Avalanche are in “win now” mode as 2021 Stanley Cup contenders, especially as free agency looms for key components of their roster.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings are looking to move expendable pieces as the team is bound to miss the postseason for the fifth consecutive year.

Nemeth, 29, enters his second stint with Colorado, having recently played with the Avalanche from 2017-19, after the Avs claimed him off waivers ahead of the 2017-18 season from the Dallas Stars.

The 6-foot-3, 228-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden was originally drafted by the Stars in the 2nd round (41st overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft and had 2-6–8 totals in 39 games with the Red Wings this season.

He has 7-49–56 totals in 353 career NHL games with the Stars, Avalanche and Red Wings, as well as one assist in 18 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Nemeth most recently contributed a plus-4 rating from Colorado’s blue line in seven games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With Detroit retaining 50% of his cap hit, Nemeth carries a $1.500 million cap hit through season’s end and is a pending-unrestricted free agent.

Red Wings General Manager, Steve Yzerman, kicked off his approach to the 2021 trade deadline by shipping Nemeth to the Avalanche for a 2022 4th round pick on Friday.

Detroit also announced on Friday that forward, Bobby Ryan, would miss the rest of the season with an upper body injury, likely taking the 34-year-old winger off the trade market as a potential depth addition for any playoff contender.

Yzerman has all the incentive in the world to make whatever trade he sees fit to improve his team as an overwhelming majority of Red Wings players are pending free agents at season’s end– 15 players to be exact, at least on the active roster according to CapFriendly.

Colorado and Detroit might not be done as potential trading partners before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, as former Avs goaltender turned current Red Wing, Jonathan Bernier, would be an excellent solution to the backup role behind Philipp Grubauer in the Avalanche’s quest for the Cup.

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Isles are all-in on deep run with Palmieri, Zajac trade

Wednesday night, the New York Islanders dealt forwards, AJ Greer and Mason Jobst, a 2021 1st round pick and a conditional 2022 4th round pick to the New Jersey Devils for forwards, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac.

Zajac had been on the radar of Islanders General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, since last season when New York nearly brought in Zajac from the Devils and Zach Parise from the Minnesota Wild at the 2020 trade deadline.

This year, Zajac waived his no-trade clause to go to the Islanders.

Palmieri, meanwhile, adds a significant component to New York’s scoring prowess with captain, Anders Lee, out for the rest of the regular season (at least) due to injury.

New Jersey retained 50% of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salary in the transaction.

If the Islanders advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, the 4th round pick becomes a 3rd round pick in either 2022 or 2023, with New York having the choice between the two to send to the Devils.

New Jersey General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald, in the meantime, hopes both now former Devils players (Palmieri and Zajac) will go on to win Stanley Cup rings with the Islanders in 2021, and that he’ll receive the 32nd overall pick in this year’s first round in the process.

New York is in “win-now” mode, while New Jersey is looking to sell expendable parts and build around their youth in Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Ty Smith and Mackenzie Blackwood.

Palmieri, 30, had 8-9–17 totals in 34 games for the Devils this season prior to being traded on Wednesday and has 183-172–355 totals in 595 career NHL games for the Anaheim Ducks and Devils since being drafted in the 1st round (26th overall) by Anaheim in 2009, and making his league debut in 2010-11.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound, Smithtown, New York native carries a $2.325 million cap hit for the Islanders and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

He set career-highs in goals, assists and points in 2015-16 with the Devils with 30-27–57 totals in 82 games and had a career-high tying 27 assists the following season in 80 games with New Jersey.

Since reaching the 30-goal plateau, Palmieri has had four consecutive seasons with at least 20 goals (five if you include the 30-goal season) entering 2020-21.

In 38 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Palmieri has 8-7–15 totals, including three points (one goal, two assists) in five games with New Jersey in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Zajac, 35, had 7-11–18 totals in 33 games with the Devils this season prior to being traded to the Islanders and has 202-348–550 totals in 1,024 career NHL games since making his debut in the 2006-07 season.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zajac was drafted by the Devils in the 1st round (20th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound center has reached the 20-goal plateau twice in his career, establishing career-highs in goals (25), assists (42) and points (67) in 82 games with the Devils in 2009-10, and had 19 goals in 80 games in 2018-19, including 12 points on the power play.

Zajac carries a $2.875 million cap hit through season’s end for New York and has 11-17–28 totals in 57 career postseason games, including 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 24 games en route to New Jersey’s 2012 Stanley Cup Final appearance.

He most recently had a goal and an assist (two points) in five games in the 2018 First Round with the Devils in their 4-1 series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Greer, 24, has not played in the NHL since the 2018-19 season with the Colorado Avalanche, in which he had 1-1–2 totals in 15 games.

Drafted in the 2nd round (39th overall) by the Avs in 2015, Greer made his league debut with Colorado in 2016-17, and has 1-5–6 totals in 37 career NHL games (all with the Avalanche).

He was traded to the Islanders on Oct. 11th last fall for Kyle Burroughs and has spent parts of the last five seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) for San Antonio, Colorado and Bridgeport, where he had 1-1–2 totals in 10 games for the Sound Tigers thus far in 2020-21 at the time of the trade.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Joliette, QuĂ©bec is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end and has a $700,000 cap hit.

Jobst, 27, has yet to appear in an NHL game in his professional playing days and was undrafted.

After four seasons at Ohio State (NCAA-Big Ten), he signed a two-year deal with the Islanders on April 2, 2019, and has spent the last two seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL).

He had two assists in six games with Bridgeport this season prior to being traded to New Jersey and 5-8–13 totals in 44 games for the Sound Tigers last season.

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound native of Speedway, Indiana is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and carries a $792,500 cap hit.

Both Greer and Jobst are expected to report to the Binghamton Devils (AHL).

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Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 20 Games

O.K., so I’m still behind on some things around here.

Whether you’re new to DTFR or a long-time fan(?), you’re able to see the finished products around here and think “wow, that’s neat” and go about your day doing whatever the next thing on your mind happens to be.

You don’t have to wake up everyday to all the shot charts, player and team forecasts, expected points total models, Photoshop files, running list of game notes, podcast notes (yes, that’ll be back soon) and more that’s related to the day-to-day DTFR operations around here or other seemingly useless bits of information that may or may not see the light of day.

But that’s all the fun parts anyway. Hockey is my passion.

The long, grueling, season is counteracted by moments like Nathan MacKinnon underhand tossing Conor Garland’s helmet back to him and being fined $5,000 in the process.

Guess I’m going to have to start tracking how often that happens now.

In addition to everything mentioned above, you might not know that I’m constantly applying to jobs, so sometimes little things like this forecast write up gets put on the back burner until there’s a minute or two between games, guest appearances on other podcasts and more job applications.

Not trying to use anything as an excuse here, but please forgive me for being *checks notes* 15 games behind on the latest forecast, which will be irrelevant in another five games anyway, because it’ll be time to update Boston’s forecast through 40 games this season.

I do this all by hand in Microsoft Excel, so you know I’m not a real mathematician or statistician.

If you ask me to code something, I’ll ask you “what ‘R‘ you talking about? Get it? Did you see the pun I made there? Words, am I right?”

15 games ago, I updated each individual Bruins player’s forecast after writing my recap about Zdeno Chara’s first game back in Boston as a member of the Washington Capitals then eventually got around to updating the corresponding chart that you’ll see below.

Then I had to do that for whatever other teams I’ve been able to keep track of on time and I promise I’ll be writing about those forecasts… …eventually.

Oh and apply to more jobs.

Anyway, you probably don’t care about the life behind the screen, so let’s get to Boston’s forecast through 20 games, shall we?

As always, remember that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. I got a “C” in my Intro to Stats class back in my first semester of college, which was eight years ago this fall.

Between then and now, I’ve worked in live sports production (TV and radio) and been unemployed, which explains why I’m constantly applying to jobs.

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve built up some time in the National Hockey League. Generally at least a game will suffice, but their numbers might look a little “inflated” (for the lack of a better term) until the season rolls on and their expectations fall back to Earth.

In other words, Zach Senyshyn is now forecasted for 18 assists in this latest forecast, but that shouldn’t surprise you since he only had two assists in six career NHL games over the last two seasons.

That will change in the 40-game update, since he’s played in at least seven more games between the time this report was originally intended to be done and the next one.

Remember that forecast is different from pace.

Finally, remember that there’s a lot of variables, like injuries, being a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad, other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol, general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc. that can (whether scientifically proven or not) disrupt a player’s season.

None of these can be accounted for in Microsoft Excel’s forecast function.

In a perfect world, everyone plays a full season. Every player has a chance to live up to expectations, hit and/or exceed their mark or miss it by a little/a lot.

Hockey is a game made up of collective actions and sheer puck luck. It’s unpredictable, which technically defeats the purpose of this (so if you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back).


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

David Pastrnak came back from offseason surgery and looked like he hadn’t missed a step, since his scoring prowess left an immediate impact on the team and kept him forecasted as the team’s leader in goals by season’s end with 26, though Boston’s forecasted points leader has now shifted from Pastrnak to Brad Marchand.

Marchand’s forecasted 23-31–54 totals lead Pastrnak’s 26-26–52 totals, while B’s captain, Patrice Bergeron is on track to round out the top-3 in scoring with 20-30–50 forecasted totals– good enough for the second-most assists on the roster, one behind Marchand’s 31 and three ahead of David Krejci’s forecasted 27 assists.

It’ll be fun to see just how much things have changed in the next forecast, since Krejci’s gone off in the assist department lately and Marchand missed a couple of games due to COVID protocol, but let’s save that speculation (or hindsight) for the 40-game report, O.K.?

On defense, Charlie McAvoy continues to lead the way with 7-29–36 forecasted totals, while Matt Grzelcyk (13 points) and Jakub Zboril (12 points) are the only other defenders expected to reach double-digit points totals.

That’s quite an area of concern for the Bruins.

Not so much in the “oh no, who might get taken by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft” sense, but rather, the general “oh no, this team is not as good as they were last year, but we expected that, so they still need to acquire a defender and more at the trade deadline this year” sense (especially if one of the younger blue liners like Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen aren’t developing as fast or as well as Boston desires).

Nevertheless, what might be more pressing than ever before is the question of what comes next after Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak?

Rask (2.27-2.37 forecasted goals-against average, .914-.921 forecasted save percentage) is expected to have decent numbers this season if he can make a return to full health, while Halak (2.45-2.48 forecasted GAA, .910-.916 forecasted SV%) looks solid for a backup.

Yet, at the time of this writing, both goaltenders are out of Boston’s lineup– Rask due to injury and Halak due to COVID protocol.

Stay tuned for first impressions on Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman in the next forecast and what that might mean for the offseason’s plans with both Rask and Halak as pending-unrestricted free agents.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bruins shred Flyers, 7-3, at Lake Tahoe

Philadelphia Flyers mascot, Gritty, and Boston Bruins mascot, Blades the Bruin, might have shared the slopes on Saturday, but their two teams weren’t in much of a sharing mood on Sunday when Boston defeated Philadelphia in a lopsided, 7-3, victory outdoors by the 18th hole of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort.

David Pastrnak had a hat trick in the win for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask (7-2-1, 2.56 goals against average, .901 save percentage in 10 games played) made 16 saves on 19 shots against (.842 SV%) for the win on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart (5-3-3, 3.68 GAA, .891 SV% in 11 games played) stopped 17 out of 23 shots faced for a .739 SV% before being replaced after two periods by Brian Elliott (3-1-0, 2.25 GAA, .928 SV% in six games played) in the loss.

Boston improved to 11-3-2 (24 points) on the season and remained in command of 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Philadelphia fell to 8-4-3 (19 points) overall, but stable in the division in 3rd place.

The B’s also improved to 5-1-0 on home ice this season– yes, they were designated as the home team despite playing at a neutral rink in Stateline, Nevada.

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, on Saturday night after an eight-hour sunny weather delay melted sections of the ice– deeming the playing surface too unsafe for both players and on-ice officials after the first period ended around midday on Saturday.

The Avs and Golden Knights resumed play around midnight on the East Coast (9 p.m. local time Saturday) and finished the remaining 40 minutes of action unscathed.

It was the first outdoor win for Colorado (1-2-0) and the very first outdoor appearance for Vegas (0-1-0) in the first of two games as part of the National Hockey League’s 2021 Outdoors at Lake Tahoe weekend.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), Jakub Zboril (upper body), David Krejci (lower body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) on Sunday.

As a result, Boston recalled Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Studnicka from the taxi squad and head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several adjustments to his lineup.

Pastrnak was returned to his usual role on the first line right wing, having spent last Thursday’s, 3-2, loss at home to the New Jersey Devils on the second line with Krejci at center.

Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle moved up to the second line with Krejci out due to injury and Jake DeBrusk demoted to the third line comprised of Anders Bjork at left wing, Studnicka at center and DeBrusk on the right side.

Meanwhile, Nick Ritchie retained his role on the second line left wing.

Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner were reunited on the fourth line.

On defense, Vaakanainen slid in on the left side of the second defensive pairing with Brandon Carlo as his partner and wearing an “A” as an alternate captain while Krejci is out of the lineup.

John Moore and Connor Clifton were paired on the third pairing, while Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy remained as the top blue liners.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Zboril, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth were out of the lineup due to injury, being a healthy scratch and/or members of the taxi squad.

All injured Bruins, in fact, did not travel with the team for Sunday’s matchup with the Flyers at Lake Tahoe.

Several Flyers were also not in attendance, though the majority of them were in the league’s COVID protocol, including Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton, Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Justin Braun. Meanwhile, Morgan Frost was already on the injured reserve.

Pastrnak (7) opened the scoring 34 seconds into the first period after Patrice Bergeron blocked a shot in his own zone before sending Brad Marchand through the neutral zone with a pass that led to the two-on-one, one-timer opportunity for Pastrnak to rocket a shot past Hart.

Marchand (10) and Bergeron (12) tallied the assists on the game’s first goal as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead less than a minute into Sunday’s action.

With the secondary assist on Pastrnak’s first goal of the game, Bergeron tied Bobby Orr for 5th place on Boston’s all time scoring list with 888 points in a Bruins uniform.

Meanwhile, Lauzon left the rink after just 34 seconds and later was ruled out for the rest of the night with an upper body injury as the Bruins would later confirm in a tweet during the first intermission.

Nearly six minutes into the opening frame, Joel Farabee (8) pounced on a puck that took a wild bounce off the endboards with enough juice to make it back into the slot while falling and fired it past Rask to tie the game, 1-1.

Sean Couturier (4) and James van Riemsdyk (12) notched the assists on Farabee’s goal at 6:41 of the first period.

In fact, van Riemsdyk’s secondary assist marked the 500th career NHL point for the 31-year-old New Jersey native.

By the end of the night, he had 502 career points– 208 in 343 games with the Flyers and 294 in 413 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs– as a result of his 1-2–3 totals in the loss.

Midway through the opening frame, Couturier tripped Marchand and was sent to the box with a minor infraction at 12:34.

Boston’s first chance on the power play did not go as well as they had hoped and resulted in a goal against in the vulnerable minute after special teams play.

Fresh out of the sin bin, Couturier (3) buried a loose puck from the low slot after McAvoy shattered his stick in the other end, then played catchup without a blade in his hands.

Kevin Hayes worked the puck to van Riemsdyk, but Rask made the initial save.

Hayes (8) and van Riemsdyk (13) still ended up grabbing the assists on Couturier’s goal as Philadelphia took their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 14:48.

Boston answered back in a hurry, however, when McAvoy (2) sent a blast from the point while Bergeron screened Hart in front of the net.

Marchand (11) and Clifton (1) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s goal at 15:27, as the Bruins tied the game, 2-2.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Flyers holding an, 11-8, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-1), giveaways (1-0) and faceoff win percentage (58-42), while Philadelphia led in hits (13-8) after one period of action in Lake Tahoe.

Neither team had a takeaway, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame (Philly had yet to see time on the skater advantage).

Less than a minute into the second period, Pastrnak (8) added his second goal of the night after ripping a shot high over Hart’s glove on short side under the bar.

Ritchie (7) and Vaakanainen (1) picked up the assists as Boston took a, 3-2, lead 46 seconds into the second period.

Vaakanainen’s secondary assist marked the first point of his NHL career in just his eighth game.

Meanwhile, the Flyers were penalized for too many skaters on the ice at 6:17, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the second period, Boston kicked off a flurry of goals when Coyle (3) unleashed a shot off the post, off the back of Hart and into the net to give the Bruins a two-goal lead at 16:14.

Smith (3) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal as the B’s led, 4-2, for less than a minute before Frederic (1) sniped a shot high-side side from about the faceoff circle to the left of the Philadelphia netminder to make it a three-goal lead.

Moore (1) and Clifton (2) tallied the assists on Frederic’s first career NHL goal and the Bruins led, 5-2, at 16:47.

After serving the bench minor for too many skaters, Andy Andreoff took out his frustrations after two quick goals against by delivering his stick to Kuraly’s face.

The Flyers forward spent two more minutes in the penalty box– this time with a roughing infraction at 16:47.

About a minute into the resulting power play, Ritchie (5) tipped in a shot from the point by Moore to give Boston a power-play goal and a, 6-2, lead on the scoreboard.

Moore (2) and Smith (4) notched the assists at 17:53 of the second period as Boston riffled three goals in about 90 seconds.

Less than a minute later, Bjork was penalized for holding and gave Philly a power play at 18:16 of the second period.

After 40 minutes of play lakeside, the Bruins led, 6-2, on the scoreboard and, 23-14, in shots on goal, including a, 15-3, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also held the lead in blocked shots (13-6), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (5-3) and faceoff win% (59-41), while Philadelphia led in hits (22-13).

The Flyers were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, swapped goaltenders in the second intermission, replacing Hart with Elliott for the final period at Lake Tahoe.

Hart finished his night with six goals allowed on 23 shots, but in the process became the youngest goaltender to play in an outdoor NHL game at 22 years and 192 days old.

He beat Semyon Varlamov’s previous record of 22 years and 249 days back when Varlamov was the netminder for the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Bjork cut another rut to the penalty box for hooking Flyers defender, Shayne Gostisbehere at 9:31 of the third period– presenting another power play opportunity for Philadelphia.

Philly didn’t have any luck on their second skater advantage of the evening, but as the saying goes “the third time’s a charm” as Carlo was assessed an interference minor when colliding with Travis Sanheim in front of the Boston net at 12:37.

This time the Flyers won the ensuing faceoff, worked the puck around the attacking zone before Hayes found van Riemsdyk in front of the net in the low slot whereby van Riemsdyk (8) inadvertently sent the puck off Vaakanainen and into the twine behind Rask while trying to make a no-look between the legs pass.

Hayes (9) and Ivan Provorov (6) picked up the assists on van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal and the Flyers trailed, 6-3, at 12:45 of the third period.

Late in the game, Pastrnak (9) completed his hat trick thanks to a one-timer goal from one knee on a pass from Studnicka at 17:04.

Studnicka (1) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s third goal of the game and the Bruins took a four-goal lead, 7-3, while Pastrnak picked up his 10th career hat trick, as well as his 2nd hat trick of the season and just the 2nd hat trick in an outdoor NHL game in league history.

Tyler Toffoli scored a hat trick for the Los Angeles Kings in their, 3-1, win over the Avalanche at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the first outdoor NHL hat trick in the 2020 Stadium Series game.

Pastrnak’s hat trick, meanwhile, was the first outdoor hat trick in Bruins franchise history and gave Boston an outdoor record tying seven goals as the B’s matched the same outcome of the New York Rangers’, 7-3, victory against the New Jersey Devils in a 2014 Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium.

The Rangers (four wins outside) are the only team with more outdoor wins than Boston (three) and Washington (three) as the Bruins picked up another outdoor victory over the Flyers at the final sound of the horn.

The Bruins finished the evening with a, 7-3, win on the scoreboard and a, 35-19, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston also wrapped up Sunday’s effort leading in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Philadelphia maintained the advantage in giveaways (6-5) and hits (31-23).

Both teams went 1/3 on the power play in the 60-minute effort.

The B’s improved to 7-1-0 (4-0-0 at home) when scoring first this season, while the Flyers fell to 3-3-1 (2-2-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

Boston also improved to 4-2-0 (2-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 6-0-0 (4-0-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia fell to 2-2-1 (1-1-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, as well as 0-3-0 (0-2-0 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins improved to 3-1-0 all time in outdoor NHL games, while the Flyers fell to 1-3-1 all time outside.

Boston and Philadelphia became the third pair of teams to face each other in an outdoor rematch (previous, Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh– 2017 Stadium Series and 2019 Stadium Series, as well as Detroit vs. Toronto– 2014 Winter Classic and 2017 Centennial Classic).

The B’s begin a three-game road trip on Long Island and in Manhattan with a meeting against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th, as well as a pair of games against the New York Rangers to close out the month of February on the 26th and 28th.

Categories
Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast

Hello, friend.

Last season, I didn’t get around to posting my forecasts for the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights’ rosters.

I kept track of everything before the 2019-20 season began and after each quarter mark (roughly 20 games) as I normally do, but I just didn’t quite have the time and/or motivation to do a write up here on the blog for each one– let alone any of them.

This season, I’m already behind in presenting my findings entering 2020-21, but I’ve prepared all four teams’ player forecasts as usual.

To kick things off, we’ll take a look at how the 2020-21 season could’ve panned out if all Bruins players were healthy entering the 56-game season, but by the end of the month, Boston will already be 20 games into the season (provided nothing else is postponed) so it’ll be time for an updated forecast.

For the rest of the teams– including the addition of the Colorado Avalanche for a total of five teams being tracked this season– we’ll just take a gander at how things looked coming into 2020-21 and where each player is tracking after their respective 20-game mark.

In other words, Boston gets two posts (this one and another one in March) while Carolina, Colorado, Columbus and Vegas will each get a joint “forecast before the season began and forecast through 20 team games played” post, probably.

If you’re a fan of those teams and my… …expertise(?), I’m sorry. Please be patient. You’ve already been waiting since the last forecast I published in the 2018-19 season.

If you’re a fan of the B’s, well good news, let’s get into the forecast details.

As always, keep in mind that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. I got a “C” in my Intro to Stats class in my first semester of college way back in *checks notes* the fall of 2013.

It was a night class and it was terrible, but I digress.

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve had at least one National Hockey League game under their belt.

Young players that have had minimal NHL experience may also reflect “inflated” results.

No, Zach Senyshyn probably isn’t going to have 28 assists this season, but since he has two assists in six games over the last two seasons (his entire NHL career), the forecasting function in Microsoft Excel does math stuff based on his entire career as it would relate to if he played in all 56 games for Boston this season.

This will fix itself as the season progresses.

The same goes for Jack Studnicka’s forecasted 28 assists. Entering 2020-21, Studnicka has only played in two NHL games since just last season.

He’s already had a goal in six games this season and in the next forecast (after 20 team games played), he’ll likely be forecasted to have 1-8–9 totals by season’s end (assuming he plays in the remaining 36 games).

Forecast is different from pace.

Injuries, being a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad, other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, sickness, COVID protocol and general superstitions (getting enough sleep the night before a game, taping your stick a certain way every time, putting on the right skate before the left skate or whatever) may disrupt a player’s season.

These variables– tangible or not– are part of the game and cannot be accounted for in your everyday “straight up” forecast.

In an utopian timeline, this forecast pretends nothing bad could ever happen and every player has a chance to live up to their expectations. Of course, some will pan out, some will exceed expectations and some will miss the mark.

It’s merely a suggested outcome for a sport that’s highly unpredictable because of its collectivistic nature and sheer puck luck.


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 0 Games (56 Games Remaining)

Had the 2019-20 season gone according to schedule, David Pastrnak might not have missed any time to start the 2020-21 season.

Nevertheless, we’ll pretend that an alternate timeline stills exists for a moment and mention that if he had played in all 56 games this season, he was forecasted to lead the Bruins with 26-29–55 totals.

Brad Marchand was forecasted as the next highest scorer with 21 goals and 47 points, while David Krejci looked to lead the B’s in assists (29).

Of course, none of this is how it really happened, but Pastrnak is still off to a hot start, Marchand is feeling “100-percent” and Krejci is only now just about to miss game action, having not traveled with the team to Lake Tahoe for their outdoor matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night.

Senyshyn and Studnicka’s assist totals have been highlighted in the chart above in reference to what’s already been stated in the introduction to this post.

Newcomer, Craig Smith, was forecasted to hit the twine 13 times and accrue 14 assists for 27 points this season, while Ondrej Kase was expected to notch 27 points in a 56-game season prior to injury.

On defense, the loss of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug is expected to be felt on the scoresheet, though we’re likely to see Charlie McAvoy’s stock rise in the next forecast after 20 team games played.

Speaking of McAvoy, he was expected to lead the team in points from the blue line entering the 2020-21 season with 6-22–28 totals.

In goal, Boston’s poised for another strong run from their goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

Though Rask is likely to get more starts than Halak, the two are prime for producing similar numbers this season in differing workloads.

Rask is set for another season with a goals against average in the low two’s, between 2.28 and 2.34, while Halak is right on track for being one of– if not– the best “backups” in the league with a forecasted GAA between 2.48 and 2.72.

Stay tuned for the next forecast in about four games– however soon that will be, provided nothing else is postponed and the Bruins can avoid piling up names on the league’s COVID Protocol list.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #218- Warning Sign

The NWHL’s Lake Placid “bubble” burst as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, postponing the 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs indefinitely, while the NHL faces an ongoing outbreak across the league, including at least 12 of its teams. Also the ethics of opening mail that isn’t yours is discussed after a New Jersey man received sticks intended for Washington Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, delivered by mistake.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #216- Participation Trophies After One Game/One Week (Part V)

The 2020-21 season is underway and it’s already been a week, so let’s bring back our 5th Annual Participation Trophies After One Game awards ceremony!

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #214- 2020-21 Season Preview: West Division

Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals, the AHL announced plans for the 2020-21 season, the NHL divisions are sponsored for 2020-21, what’s going on with the New York Islanders, Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out (maybe) and we preview the West Division for the 2020-21 season.

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Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #211- Fine, Let’s Talk World Juniors, I Guess

The Vegas Golden Knights definitely *aren’t* shopping that player you’re probably thinking about, ad space is unlimited and we’re stuck previewing the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship for now.

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Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Trading Frederik Andersen is the wrong idea

Something’s brewing in Toronto and it’s the annual “let’s talk trading Frederik Andersen because surely he’s the reason for a lack of playoff success as a team in recent years”. Ah, the sight of Maple Leafs in the fall.

Andersen is entering the final year of his five-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs that he signed back on June 20, 20216– shortly after his rights were traded to Canada’s largest city by the Anaheim Ducks for a 2016 1st round pick (Sam Steel) and a conditional 2017 2nd round pick (Maxime Comtois).

His cap hit is a reasonable $5.000 million, but on a roster that’s currently projected to spend $82,549,325– which, you know, is slightly over the league’s $81.5 million upper limit– something’s got to give.

If Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, was serious about trading Andersen heading into the season, he likely would’ve found a partner by now and made a deal– regardless of stagnant revenue streams due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But sure, let’s say the Leafs are set on trading Andersen in order to become cap compliant.

First of all, who are you going to get in return?

And second, the playoffs would be out of the picture altogether.

The answer to the first question is easy since most of the free agent goaltenders have been scooped up and Toronto’s not likely to take a flyer on Cory Schneider, Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard or Ryan Miller.

In 2010, maybe. In 2020, definitely not.

None of those goalies had a goals against average better than 3.10 or a save percentage better than a .907.

One of those goalies, however, had those stats exactly and it’s the one that spent last season as a backup in 23 games with the Anaheim Ducks (Miller).

Naturally, Dubas would have to look to trade Andersen instead, which means you might be looking at a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights for Marc-Andre Fleury or (let’s get crazy) send Andersen back to the team that originally drafted him before he re-entered the draft and was taken by the Ducks in the 3rd round (87th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft– the Carolina Hurricanes.

Why the Hurricanes? Because James Reimer, of course.

Andersen had a 29-13-7 record in 52 games last season (all starts), while amassing a 2.85 goals against average, a .909 save percentage and three shutouts in the process.

Though he recorded two more shutouts in 2019-20 than he did in 2018-19, his goals against average and save percentage were worse than his 2.77 GAA and .917 SV% in 60 games two season’s ago.

It’s important to remember, however, that in Toronto had guys like Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev on the blue line to help suppress the oncoming attack in 2018-19.

Hainsey joined the Ottawa Senators in free agency on July 1, 2019, while Zaitsev was packaged with Connor Brown and Michael Carcone in a trade with (you guessed it) the Senators on the same day for Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk and a 2020 3rd round pick that originated from the Columbus Blue Jackets (Alex Laferriere).

The Leafs made the trade to save $4.500 million in cap space that they then turned around and gave to Ceci. Kind of.

Trading Zaitsev wasn’t necessarily about saving money in the immediate future as much as it was about lopping off his contract from the books before his modified no-trade clause kicked in.

The now 29-year-old Russian defender is under contract through the 2023-24 season with Ottawa, whereas Ceci was a restricted free agent at the time and agreed to a one-year deal with the Leafs.

Dubas had to protect his club’s ability to integrate young prospects on the blue line and remain competitive in future trade or free agent markets, so Zaitsev was a casualty of league parity.

That, or fans, coaches and media members alike were tired of watching him in Toronto.

Meanwhile, the Leafs went in a different direction for their blue line last season with the additions of Ceci in the Zaitsev trade and Tyson Barrie at a discount as their alleged biggest prize in the Nazem Kadri trade with the Colorado Avalanche.

While Sens fans knew what Toronto was getting themselves into with Ceci’s playing ability as a bottom-pairing defender, Barrie experienced a significant drop-off in his game.

Barrie amassed 14-45–59 points in 78 games with Colorado in back-to-back seasons with at least 55 points before the trade and was a minus-3 in 2018-19. He put up 39 points (five goals, 34 assists) in 70 games with Toronto and was a minus-7.

For the record, Ceci had 7-19–26 totals in 74 games with the Sens and was a minus-22 in 2018-19, then mustered eight points (one goal, seven asissts) in 56 games with the Leafs– but at least he was a plus-7.

So it’s not entirely Andersen’s fault for instability in front of him.

The defensive depth wasn’t the same from 2018-19 to 2019-20 in front of Andersen, and, of course, Toronto fired Mike Babcock and promoted Sheldon Keefe as head coach after Fleury made a big save on Nov. 19, 2019 in Vegas.

Which is actually the perfect segue back to what it would mean for the Leafs to trade Andersen.

If Dubas flipped Andersen to the Golden Knights for Fleury strictly because of the “playoff experience” narrative, well, it’s worth noting that despite his improved performance from 2019’s 3-4 record, 2.70 GAA, .909 SV% and one shutout in seven games to 2020’s 3-1 record, 2.27 GAA and .910 SV% in four games, Robin Lehner still outperformed Fleury.

Lehner amassed a 9-7 record in 16 games for Vegas in the 2020 postseason with a 1.99 GAA, a .917 SV% and four shutouts in that span.

Andersen is 31, while Fleury is 36.

In simple terms, one is still in their goaltending prime and the other is in the twilight of his playing days– even if he is able to return to form after the second-straight season of faltering numbers.

Fleury’s first season in Vegas saw him rock a 29-13-4 record in 46 games with a 2.24 GAA, .927 SV% and four shutouts despite missing time due to injury.

In 2018-19, Fleury was overplayed. He notched a respectable 35-21-5 record, 2.51 GAA, .913 SV% and eight shutouts in 61 games, but couldn’t remain hot enough against the San Jose Sharks in the 2019 First Round.

In 2019-20, Gerard Gallant and, later, Peter DeBoer handled his number of games better, playing Fleury 49 times, but the 36-year-old netminder amassed a 27-16-5 record with a 2.77 GAA, .905 SV% and five shutouts.

Season-by-season, Fleury has shown signs of regressing.

Even if he is able to win one more Cup, his role on that team is likely best suited as the backup, if not at least in the 1B role of a 1A/1B tandem.

In his last three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury faced 4,677 shots against and made 4,292 saves (.918 SV%) while amassing 16 shutouts from 2014-17.

In his first three seasons with the Golden Knights, Fleury’s faced 4,520 shots and made 4,135 saves (.915 SV%) while racking up 17 shutouts.

The ageless wonder would be a great addition to the Maple Leafs if Toronto could only have Andersen and Fleury.

But there’s a little pesky number that ruins any hope of swinging a deal unless Dubas is willing to part with larger pieces in a true “hockey trade”.

It’s Fleury’s cap hit.

He carries a price tag of $7.000 million against the salary cap through next season (2021-22) and, like Andersen, has a modified no-trade clause.

Vegas is also feeling the stress of the salary cap, considering they’re currently on the books for $82,474,104 and need to dump salary before the season can likely begin in January.

No, Max Pacioretty’s $7.000 million cap hit or Jonathan Marchessault’s $5.000 million cap hit won’t do the Leafs any favors if Toronto somehow decided they’d be fine with Dubas including a piece of their core– like Mitch Marner’s $10.893 million cap hit, for example– in the hypothetical transaction.

Both teams would still be over the cap unless they’d be able to make separate trades elsewhere to shed salary.

Even still, if someone is trying to pry Fleury from Vegas, they’re likely asking the Golden Knights to retain some salary or involve a third team in the deal for that sole purpose.

So if Fleury’s out, what about Reimer? You know, the last guy to bring “stability” to the crease in Toronto before Andersen.

Reimer hasn’t posted a sub-2.50 goals against average since his 2.49 with the Maple Leafs in 32 games prior to being traded to the Sharks ahead of the 2016 trade deadline.

He also hasn’t bested his .918 SV% from the time he spent with the Leafs that season.

It might be tempting to resort to Reimer as a starter, but he’s been worse than Andersen at a fraction of the workload that the current Leafs starter gets from year-to-year.

Thanks to the pandemic shortened regular season last year, Andersen played under 60 games for the first time since his days in Anaheim.

Toronto’s defense is nothing like Carolina’s defense.

Despite Reimer’s impressive 14-6-2 record in 25 games with the Hurricanes last season, there’s no guarantees he’d be able to match that or better with Morgan Rielly taking on the roles of Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei and Co. combined for the Maple Leafs.

Besides, Jack Campbell’s 3-2-1 record in six games with Toronto last season came with a 2.63 GAA and a .915 SV%, which, on its own is about the same as Reimer’s 2.66 GAA and .914 SV% with the Canes last season, but at a cheaper price for a backup caliber goaltender (Campbell is signed through 2021-22 at $1.650 million per season, while Reimer is a pending-UFA at season’s end with a $3.400 million cap hit).

But remember Campbell spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings and Maple Leafs and finished 2019-20 with a combined 11-12-3 record in 26 games for Los Angeles and Toronto, while amassing a 2.80 GAA and a .904 SV% in the process.

Unless Dubas signed Michael Hutchinson and Aaron Dell to compete with Campbell and (hypothetically) Reimer to save some money by trading Andersen this season, then Toronto’s goaltending woes would only get worse.

That’s right, we haven’t even started talking about who the eventual “goalie of the future” might be for the Leafs, but that’s a subject for another time (spoiler alert: the jury is out on that one for now).

It’s ride or die with Andersen this season.

And next summer’s free agent goalie market doesn’t look like it’s any better.

Unless a familiar Maple Leafs draft pick returns to Toronto, but he still wears No. 40 on the Boston Bruins for now.