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Blue Jackets Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Columbus Blue Jackets 2020-21 Forecast and 20-Game Update

Welcome back to another exciting rendition of “let’s trust the guy with a degree in communication to do some basic math stuff”.

As you are hopefully already aware, I kept the 2019-20 forecasts under wraps simply because I didn’t have the time and/or motivation to write up an explanation for each and every one of them.

Even still, I’m “behind” on 2020-21 posts given that the Columbus Blue Jackets have already reached the 20-game mark of the season.

That’s why we’re looking at both what the expectations were coming into the condensed 56-game schedule, as well as how things are holding up after the first, well, almost half the season.

If you’re a fan of numbers and things, you probably already read about this “catch-up format” in my first forecast for the Boston Bruins roster entering 2020-21. If you’re just a Blue Jackets fan, I’ve done my best to paraphrase my own writing, but you can go back and read it if you feel inclined.

As always, keep in mind that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. My Intro to Stats class only fulfilled the math portion of my “general education” and met once-a-week at night for two-and-a-half hours in the fall 2013 semester.

I actually learned how to use the forecast function in Microsoft Excel in one of my sport management classes. Besides that, I got a “C” in that Intro to Stats class, so my credentials for doing this seem promising, right?

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– Liam Foudy’s forecasted assists entering the 2020-21 season has been highlighted for this reason.

Entering this season, he had only been part of two career NHL games and had one assist in that span. The forecasting function accounts for a player’s entire career and does some mathematics to come up with something over a predetermined number of games for the upcoming season (in this year’s case, 56).

In other words, Foudy’s forecast after 20 team games played should look a bit more “realistic”, for the lack of a better term.

A forecast is not the same as predicting pace.

Foudy has three assists in 12 games played in 2020-21, for example, and is forecasted to finish with about 11 on the season, whereas he is currently on pace for about eight helpers.

There are numerous variables that can, and will, impact a players’ performance throughout the year, including injuries, being a healthy scratch (or on the taxi squad), other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, sickness, COVID protocol, suspensions and general superstitions related to individual routines, beliefs, etc. (getting enough sleep before a game, wearing a certain lucky tie, using the same undershirt or shoulder pads for the last 13 years or whatever).

Players can get “hot” or “cold” at any point.

It’s not something that can be accounted for in a numerical forecast that sets aside the “eye test” until you try to figure out the nuances of how or why a player is playing the way they are playing.

In a perfect timeline, this forecast pretends nothing bad could ever happen and every Blue Jackets player lives up to their expectations. In reality, some will pan out, some will exceed expectations and some will fall short for whatever reason.

It’s an educated guess for an outcome in a sport that’s highly unpredictable due to its collectivistic nature and sheer puck luck.


Columbus Blue Jackets Forecast Through 0 Games (56 Games Remaining)

First up, let’s take a look at how things were expected to go coming into the 2020-21 season.

Prior to being traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, Dubois was forecasted to lead Columbus in scoring with 16-22–38 totals this season.

New acquisition, Max Domi, was forecasted as a close second to Dubois with 37 points– leading the team in assists in the process with 25 (among NHL regulars last season, since Foudy technically was forecasted to lead in assists among Blue Jackets with 28).

Of course, Dubois was traded and Laine and Roslovic are off to hot starts with Columbus– scoring goals in bunches when they find the scoresheet, it seems. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Cam Atkinson was forecasted to score 19 goals prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, which leads Dubois’ 16 forecasted goals and Gustav Nyquist’s 14 forecasted goals on the roster.

Dubois, of course, was traded and Nyquist is out due to injury for most of this season, so… that checks out.

On defense, Zach Werenski and Seth Jones were expected to continue to lead with the way with 33 and 27 points, respectively, from the blue line.

Both defenders are expected to amass 21 assists this season– good enough for the third most forecasted among Blue Jackets skaters entering this season.

In the crease, John Tortorella will have to find the right balance between Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins.

There’s potential for a really solid goaltending duo in Columbus if Korpisalo is the starter and can best his 2.66 forecasted goals against average, as well as his forecasted .911 save percentage, while Merzlikins manages to find a way to reach his 2.35 forecasted GAA and .923 forecasted SV%.

Of course, after 20 team games played, Merzlikins is currently out with an upper body injury, so time will tell if he can return to form.

Columbus Blue Jackets Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

Through 20 games of the 2020-21 season, the Blue Jackets are three points outside of the last playoff spot in the Discover NHL Central Division, trailing the Chicago Blackhawks for this season’s 4th place cutoff line.

The acquisition of Laine and Roslovic have been quite a welcome sight for Columbus fans, though consistency from the rest of the lineup remains to be an issue.

Laine, however, is currently forecasted to lead the team in goals (26) and points (46), while Roslovic is on track for 10-17–27 totals, which is about what he had in 71 games with the Jets last season (29 points).

Using the current forecasted totals, Roslovic is on track for about .551 points per game this season. He had .408 points per game with Winnipeg in 2019-20.

Atkinson remains in the top-three in scoring, trailing Laine in goals and points with 20 forecasted goals and 39 forecasted points, respectively, while Oliver Bjorkstrand is currently forecasted to amass 15-21–36 totals (the third most on the current roster).

On the blue line, Jones leads the way among defenders in points (32), as well as all skaters in assists with 27 forecasted assists through 20 team games played in the 2020-21 season.

Werenski is more in line with what you’d expect from a young defender of his caliber (8-16–24 forecasted totals) and has missed time due to injury, so that’s clearly a factor in his forecasted drop from before the season began to now.

In the crease, Korpisalo is sure to get more starts than Merzlikins as the latter is currently injured.

Korpisalo’s current forecast yields a goals against average between 2.59-2.63, while Merzlikins is on track for a 2.29-2.33 in however many games he ends up getting.

Why the range in GAA?

That’s new for this season.

It’s just to show a range between what the forecasted total is according to the model and what the adjusted forecast shows (calculated based on the forecasted goals allowed/forecasted minutes multiplied by 60, as one would traditionally do with goals allowed/minutes played multiplied by 60 to determine GAA).

I’m no statistician and I felt like there might be a way to try to get a better read on how things are going for goaltenders (with or without enough necessary data to yield a “realistic” result).

Don’t make any bets using only this forecast. If you’re a professional, you probably already know that.

Anyway, Korpisalo has a forecasted range between .912 and .913 in save percentage through 20 team games played and Merzlikins is on track for between a .923 and a .924 in SV%.

Again, a similar principle applies here.

One end of the range is the straight up forecast, while the other is influenced by forecasted saves/forecasted shots against.

Well, that does it for this forecast. Tune in after 40 team games played to see how things might go down the stretch (the final 16 games this season).

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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 #217- Hurry Up, We’re Streaming

“Tracking pucks” are out (at least for now), Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine were traded for one another, Jim Rutherford resigned as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the “NDubble” is underway in Lake Placid.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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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.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #213- 2020-21 Season Preview: Central Division

The Ottawa Senators did the Tampa Bay Lightning a huge favor. About a $17 million favor, when all is said and done. Meanwhile, a bunch of contracts were signed, we finally know an answer to the Mike Hoffman question, Craig Anderson signed a PTO and might replace Henrik Lundqvist as the Washington Capitals’ backup goaltender and we preview the Central Division for the 2020-21 season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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NHL Nick's Net

Chara, Hoffman and now this?

The Boston Bruins’ long-time captain since the 2006-07 season, 43-year-old Zdeno Chara remains unsigned as the end of the calendar year, 2020, draws near.

Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, has been reported as noting that the defender has had contact from more than 20 teams this offseason, but is focused on re-signing with the Bruins if there’s a deal to be had.

Of course, he could also just flat-out retire.

It’s not that Boston couldn’t use the services of their longtime cornerstone on the blue line, but the Bruins are shaking things up this offseason on defense– partially because of necessity and partially because that’s just how time works.

Torey Krug left for the St. Louis Blues in free agency and guys like Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton and Urho Vaakanainen are all vying for potentially the same couple of spots.

Kevan Miller was brought back on a one-year, $1.250 million deal and John Moore is still on the books through the 2022-23 season at a $2.750 million cap hit.

With a little under $3.000 million in available cap room, the B’s could be looking to sign Chara to a short-term league minimum contract– one-year, $700,000– and present themselves with at least $2.300 million to offer someone like Mike Hoffman or lure back Carl Soderberg into the mix for added scoring touch or depth, respectively.

If they can’t land Hoffman, then Soderberg is likely the best consolation prize as the offseason drags on and two-week quarantine periods might affect how call-ups from the Providence Bruins (AHL) work.

That’s the latest on how AHL roster transactions might be handled this season, by the way. It all depends on what your state, province or region (if short-term bubbles get involved) has to say about moving players within your own organization.

Soderberg might not be better than playing Jack Studnicka every night, but in a pinch he’d be better than nothing.

After all, he did have 35 points in 70 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season and that’s nothing to sneeze at for a bottom-six forward.

As for Chara, it might be a matter of swallowing a little pride.

He certainly is deserving of almost whatever he wants for the career he’s had and role he’s played in Boston’s leadership for almost 15 years.

But if he’s wanting $1.000 million or more for what’s likely his last season in the league, then the Bruins would be smart to bow out unless they’re able to trade someone like Moore and find a durable top-four defender while convincing Chara to minimize his minutes as a bottom-six defender.

Yet that’d mean they wouldn’t be able to find a guy to play on David Krejci’s wing. You know, kind of what they’ve needed since 2015.

As for Hoffman, the one-time 30-goal scorer has reached the 50-point plateau in the last five seasons and somehow remains on the free agent market.

Whereas the Columbus Blue Jackets have about $9.200 million to spend, how much is Hoffman willing to pull a move similar to Taylor Hall’s one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres and try to match Hall’s $8.000 million cap hit this season?

Columbus could be a great landing spot for the 31-year-old winger, but would the Blue Jackets be spurned by yet another player in free agency next offseason? Especially if John Tortorella is what could be holding players up from staying long-term?

To play with the Blue Jackets you have to be a 200-foot player in accordance with Tortorella’s style. That’s likely to keep Hoffman from possibly capitalizing on short-term monetary gain with limited options elsewhere unless he can do more than just score.

He might be the one-dimensional sniper Columbus needs, but not if General Manager, Jarmo Kekäläinen, and Tortorella can’t see eye-to-eye on the team’s plan.

For the Bruins to sign Hoffman and bring his 29-30–59 totals in 69 games with the Florida Panthers last season to the Hub of the Universe, Boston would have to shed some salary in a swap for either a defender as they’re reportedly looking for or some draft picks.

That’s where Anders Bjork could be a suitable asset to send to a team in return for, like, a third round pick or something.

Nevertheless, Boston’s not the “Cup contenders” that they were going into last season.

They might figure out a way to win the East Division regular season standings or they could finish fourth in the division and barely make their way into the postseason.

Regardless, the Bruins need to land a top-six forward if Craig Smith is to settle in and get comfy on the third line and patch the defense for a short term fix if management thinks otherwise about the team’s “Cup contender” status.

It’s this year or bust– and in a 56-game regular season every early season game matters that much more.

Getting off on the right foot without Brad Marchand (possibly) and David Pastrnak on opening night (and missing Pastrnak for at least a month) is vital.

It’s crunch time.

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NHL Nick's Net

Assessing the Vegas market for Krejci’s wing

While the season’s upon us, there are still a few decisions to made regarding current unsigned free agents and more. Several teams are over the National Hockey League’s $81.5 million salary cap and will need to be compliant before the season begins on Jan. 13th.

One of those teams is the Vegas Golden Knights, who currently sit over the cap at $82,474,104.

Max Pacioretty’s name has come up in the latest round of trade rumors, but he’ll be the first to admit that’s nothing new, since he was subject to many rumors in his time with the Montreal Canadiens for about a decade before the Habs shipped him to Vegas on Sept. 10, 2018, for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 2nd round pick (that originally belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets and was later flipped to the Los Angeles Kings).

Pacioretty carries a $7.000 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season and has a modified no-trade clause.

Considering his longstanding disdain for the Boston Bruins as an opponent, as well as the fact that Boston doesn’t really have the workable cap space (about $3.000 million) to take on Pacioretty without giving up part of the core, the B’s aren’t likely to take a flyer unless they’re bold enough to go all-in on “win now” mode.

There’s actually something most of the Golden Knights core has in common, however– they all have modified no-trade clauses except for defender, Shea Theodore, who just had a bit of a breakout year (13-33–46 totals in 71 games last season).

It’s not likely that Vegas will shift from scooping up William Karlsson, making him into a 40-goal scorer in their inaugural season, then sending him packing in only their fourth season of existence, but they could try to move someone that’s a little more cap friendly by about $900,000 in annual cap hit.

Jonathan Marchessault has come up in the rumor mill and would be a quality second line asset for the Bruins to inquire about.

He reached the 30-goal plateau in 75 games with the Florida Panthers in 2016-17– his first full season– and has put up three consecutive seasons of 20 goals or more since with the Golden Knights, recording career-highs in assists (48) and points (75) in 77 games with Vegas in 2017-18.

At 29-years-old, Marchessault is in the midst of his prime, can play left or right wing and carries a $5.000 million cap hit through the 2023-24 season.

Though David Krejci is in the final year of his current contract, the Bruins wouldn’t just be looking to land someone that’s compatible with No. 46 on their roster, but rather someone that’s reliable for if and when Krejci moves on and someone like Charlie Coyle or Jack Studnicka slots into the second line center role.

There’s one more familiar face Boston could consider asking Vegas about, though he might have to fight Greg McKegg to get his old number back.

It’s Reilly Smith.

At 29, Smith is also in the midst of his prime and carries a cap hit worth $5.000 million per season through 2021-22, with a modified no-trade clause to boot.

Since departing the Bruins in a trade with the Panthers on July 1, 2015, Smith has become a consistent playoff performer, recording eight points in six games with Florida in 2016, 22 points with Vegas in 20 games en route to losing in five games to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, six points in Vegas’ seven-game run in 2019 and 14 points in 20 games with the Golden Knights in the 2020 postseason.

Smith’s numbers in the regular season have also been pretty good– reaching at least 40 points in six out of his seven full seasons, including five seasons of 50 or more points and setting a career-high in goals last season with 27 in 71 games.

Since their inaugural season in 2017-18, Smith has worn an “A” on his Golden Knights jersey.

Vegas also presented Pacioretty with an “A” last season, but has never given Marchessault the designation as an alternate captain.

Not that that’s really too much to look into or anything, but all signs seem to indicate it’d be harder to pry one someone from the Golden Knights’ leadership group, let alone their core rather than Marchessault and his versatile style.

Of course, Vegas would also have to be convinced to take something on from Boston and the Bruins wouldn’t exactly be giving Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon and their head coach, Peter DeBoer, much to work with other than cap space.

Anders Bjork signed a three-year extension on July 29th with the Bruins that carries a cap hit of $1.600 million through 2022-23.

He’ll be a pending-restricted free agent by the end of his current deal, which might be incentive for Vegas to latch onto him in any potential trade, but Bjork has struggled to stay healthy and hasn’t exactly dazzled pro scouts with 9-10–19 totals in 58 games last season for the B’s.

Again, though, if Vegas is trying to save money, they might be convinced to take on a reclamation project with a prospect or two and/or a draft pick invovled.

At 24-years-old, Bjork might just need a change of scenery if he can’t tap into his scoring ways with Boston.

Of course, most Bruins fans would like to see Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, try to sell high on Nick Ritchie while he still can– to put it lightly.

Ritchie had 21 points last season in 48 games split between the Anaheim Ducks and Bruins, is 25-years-old and has a $1,498,925 cap hit, which is somehow better than Bjork’s production and value.

He only has one-year left on his current contract, so he’ll be a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end.

But then, of course, there’s a few problems for Boston with trying to move Bjork or Ritchie.

Players are expendable components of the business side of hockey, but they’re human and humans like a little loyalty in their relationships– business or otherwise.

To be signed to an extension over the summer, then dealt to another team before the new season begins or to be acquired at last season’s deadline and moved so early on in your tenure in a new market might put a damper on Boston’s reputation as a free agent destination.

It could also backfire among players with modified no-trade clauses or that are willing to nullify their NTC or no-movement clause, but might reconsider if the Bruins come up in the conversation if that player’s looking for their next stop to have a little more longevity to it.

Oh and there’s the general fact that a team isn’t likely to just hand you a good player for bits and pieces, so Boston could still be working from behind on any potential trades with Vegas.

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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.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #209- Mic Check/Always Improving

Nick and Colby review some of the biggest signings in free agency, as well as other happenings this offseason in the National Hockey League, including teams that have improved, a 2020-21 season outlook and more in the season seven debut of the podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

The definitive review of all 31 Reverse Retro jerseys

Adidas and the National Hockey League are trying something creative this season. It wouldn’t really be right to call it “new”, since most things are old anyway, but all 31 adidas Reverse Retro jerseys were revealed on Monday to mixed reviews by fans and jersey critics alike on social media.

In theory, “everything that’s old is new again” can be a reassuring nostalgic feeling, but it works best when you’re reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while and some of them haven’t changed one bit or something.

In reality, “everything that’s old is new again” is just a marketing ploy to sell jerseys and– to the dismay of my wallet– I’m sold. Somewhat.

Not every jersey is perfect, but some are unique, some are good looking and others are downright attractive.

Yes, it’s possible to be seduced by sweater threads. Ask any jersey collector.

Before we begin, there’s just one question left to ask– what, exactly, were the prerequisites for determining what could be considered “retro”?

There’s inconsistency across the board between all 31 teams, but that’s bound to happen since some have been around since before the league’s inception (see, Montreal Canadiens) and other teams are just entering their fourth season of existence (shoutout Vegas Golden Knights).

Alright, let’s grade some sweaters.

Editor’s note: Yes, adidas picked a single year that each jersey represents, but we’re going to present a more accurate timeline for when each original design was flying around the ice.

Anaheim Ducks (based on the 1995-96 alternate)

The Anaheim Ducks must have been browsing eBay one night, saw that the original “Wild Wing” (or “Mighty Wing”, if you prefer) jerseys often sell for double the price of a regular adidas authentic jersey these days and said to themselves “gee, we could make that money easily” without realizing that the sales on eBay do not– in any part– go to the Ducks themselves.

Nevertheless, this is a good plan B, but almost everything from the Mighty Ducks era is beloved except for one thing– whatever’s happening on this jersey.

For one season, it’s a good gimmick and a quick cash grab (especially for the drying up reserves due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic).

It’s standard for an NHL team to reach back in time, change a thing or two and sell a lot of “new” jerseys. Solid effort, Anaheim.

It shouldn’t come back out of the vault ever again.

Grade: C

Arizona Coyotes (based on the 1998-2003 alternate)

This is one of my favorite jerseys in the Reverse Retro bunch simply for the fact that the Arizona Coyotes took an already legendary concept from the 1990s and made it better.

Sure the original look wasn’t great (but also not as horrendous as you probably remember) back in the day, but this time around it looks much better with purple as the base color instead of green.

Why? Because the Coyotes’ moon logo is primarily purple and purple is featured more prominently in the crest logo on this jersey than the green ever was– plus is makes the saguaro inspired cacti design at the bottom pop.

Purple is the night sky of a desert sunset. It accentuates the mountains and rock formations in the lower third.

In simple terms, this jersey is art. It’s a masterpiece.

Grade: A

Boston Bruins (based on the 1981-95 design)

A simple remix of an iconic look that the Boston Bruins used for many years spanning the likenesses of Terry O’Reilly, Ray Bourque and Cam Neely in the “Big Bad Bruins”/”Lunchpail A.C.” era, this Reverse Retro redesign works well as a short-term implementation of the league’s fourth jersey rotation to Boston’s lineup.

Could it become something that sticks in the Hub for a while? Sure, but the franchise would be best to use this for a few seasons and work on an incredible new gold design.

Though it’s hard to argue not resurrecting the bear patch on the shoulders full-time. That bear has seen some things.

The Bruins last used a gold-based jersey in the 2010 Winter Classic and a gold-based third jersey in 1995-96 (the first year of the NHL’s official third jersey program). Prior to that, the B’s actually wore gold for select games from 1940-44, then again as a primary design from 1955-67, when the team was mostly irrelevant to the overall league standings.

It must be mentioned, however, that when Bobby Orr first laced up for Boston, he was wearing a gold uniform in his 1966-67 rookie season.

Simply put, the Bruins need a gold jersey in their rotation. This one works (for now).

Grade: A

Buffalo Sabres (based on the 2000-06 alternate)

The Buffa-goat is back. Kind of.

It’s on the shoulders and modernized with the current color scheme (so… Buffalo’s original colors), but the Sabres opted to cancel out one of their positive changes made in the offseason with a negative resurrection.

No, the two swords logo on the front isn’t bad, but one thing that never made me feel anything special for the original 2000-06 alternates was the fact that the city’s name appears in the lower striping pattern.

It’s neat, but is it necessary?

At least it looks better in traditional Sabres colors and the number font is just like “the good old days” when Buffalo dominated the league with players like Miroslav Satan, Maxim Afinogenov, Daniel Brière and others.

If the Sabres make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, then we’ll know the real reason why the franchise has been awful for about a decade. It all comes down to style points.

Grade: A

Calgary Flames (based on the 1998-2006 alternate)

Yes, folks, as the Calgary Flames’ tweet mentions– “Blasty” is back.

Now get off your high horse if you think this is truly a “Reverse Retro” jersey and not just an updated alternate/fourth sweater.

There was just one minor change to the eye in this design– aside from the white flaming “C” instead of how it looked originally on the shoulders in red– and it’s the striping pattern on the bottom.

There’s significantly less red to this jersey. It isn’t bad, but just… …not great. It doesn’t really “reverse” anything major, which discredits the basic foundation and understanding of the Reverse Retro ideology.

Had adidas gone in a different direction and made a white reversed version of the iconic “Blasty” look, then Calgary would be getting a better grade.

Grade: C

Carolina Hurricanes (based on the Hartford Whalers 1979-82, 1983-85 design)

Prior to the 2018-19 season, the Carolina Hurricanes introduced a Hartford Whalers Throwback jersey that they wore three times between 2018-20 (twice against the Boston Bruins in 2018-19 and once against the Los Angeles Kings in 2019-20).

Despite not playing in Hartford since relocating to North Carolina ahead of the 1997-98 season, Carolina made every effort to get into character– even dressing up PNC Arena in Whalers colors on the inside of the barn, but there was one thing missing from the look.

This time around the Canes have added “Pucky” to the shoulders of this second iteration of a throwback sweater.

It’s grey though, which isn’t so much of an inversion of the 1979 color scheme so much as it is a reversal of the 1992-97 final design before leaving Hartford.

At the very least the Hurricanes deserve credit for going all-in on the retro requirement and not coming up with any “fauxback” shenanigans using Whalers colors on a Carolina logo.

Grade: B+

Chicago Blackhawks (based on the 1940-41 design)

Well, this is… something.

Back in 1940, the Chicago Blackhawks only had the crest on their dark jersey with the white jersey simply having numbers on the front and back a la American football teams.

This is, in fact, a Reverse Retro with the overall design of the white jersey from the 1940-41 season now done in black, but the logo was understandably modified to make it… less racist than it was back then?

Sure the Blackhawks name itself was done in honor of both a military division and a prominent Sauk nation member, Black Hawk, and the club does (at best) more than other professional teams that have recently changed their name (see, Washington Football Team) to honor indigenous people, but the logo isn’t great.

The overall aesthetic is simplistic, but sharp. Why ruin it with a caricature?

Grade: D+

Colorado Avalanche (based on the Québec Nordiques 1991-95 design)

It’s hard to imagine what the Québec Nordiques would look like today– especially since they were rebranding for the 1995-96 season anyway had they not relocated to Denver, Colorado, but the Avalanche have provided a clear look at what wouldn’t have been a terrible idea if the Nordiques had decided to go with the rebrand in the ’90s, then settle back down from a period of throwing caution to the wind.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing something out of the closet once in a while, but someone might cry “jersey foul” if it’s exactly as things used to look before relocating.

That makes things difficult for Carolina and Colorado to do a Reverse Retro sweater without leaving someone feeling like they’ve had their team “stolen” once again.

But whatever, these are meant to make a profit off of nostalgic feelings and jersey collectors. Buy one or not, it doesn’t affect the feelings of the overall brand.

The fact that the Avs and Canes lay claim to the old logos helps them make it out alive in the grueling course of Reverse Retro critics, unlike the Minnesota Wild’s attempt at being the Minnesota North Stars without stepping on the Dallas Stars’ history too much.

Now the only question I have left for the Avalanche is should I get this in Nathan MacKinnon or Mikko Rantanen?

Grade: A

Columbus Blue Jackets (based on the 2000-01 design)

The Columbus Blue Jackets read the directions for the assignment and nearly got a 100% on the final exam. These jerseys are incredible– even if they remind you of the early days of the Washington Capitals (and Washington’s current alternate jersey).

Sure the original Blue Jackets logo is a bit out there, but Columbus set the bar in terms of doing something different and giving the fans in the heart of Ohio a red jersey for the first time in franchise history.

It shouldn’t become commonplace, since– you know– they’re the Blue Jackets– “blue” is literally in their name, but for an “outlandish” marketing standpoint, this jersey has everything.

Except for one thing. Stinger’s not on the shoulder patch.

For whatever reason, adidas decided to include Columbus’ current cannon shoulder patch/alternate logo on this jersey instead of following the guidelines of simply reversing their original look.

That’s why they almost got a “100” on their exam. Just a few points off for not including the most iconic thing about the franchise’s early years and current mascot.

Grade: A

Dallas Stars (based on their 1997-2006 design)

Adidas claims this jersey is based on Dallas’ 1999 Stanley Cup champion look, but the star based design for the Stars began as a third jersey in 1997, before making its way to the full-time grounds for the home and road uniforms from 1999-2006.

Since rebranding ahead of the 2013-14 season, Dallas has put an emphasis on one thing– being Dallas. Gone are the days of the Minnesota North Stars. By removing any semblance of gold from their jersey, the Stars fully completed their transition from pre-relocation to post-relocation.

As a result, this monstrosity happened.

It’s not that the star-shaped design isn’t appreciated– it’s that it shouldn’t be matched with white pants, white gloves, white socks and drained of any color or originality to begin with, since the crest is rather muted as a result of the change from gold to silver on a white background.

Had the jersey been black with a white bottom star-striping pattern then it’d be a different story.

Grade: D

Detroit Red Wings (based on their 1987-2007 design)

Once more, adidas claims that this Reverse Retro jersey harkens back to a championship winning year for the Detroit Red Wings back in 1998. In reality, the Red Wings wore the same look from 1987-2007, with the only difference being that since the 2003-04 season, the NHL deemed white jerseys to be the road set instead of the home uniform.

This jersey seems to borrow the silver from Detroit’s 2017 Centennial Classic jersey to give it a little more definition than a long-sleeved plain white shirt with a logo slapped on the front and red numbers with a nameplate on the sides and back.

If only they would’ve picked something from Detroit’s days as the Detroit Cougars or even the Detroit Falcons.

The Cougars had some designs unlike any other in franchise history, while the Falcons used yellow with the usual red and white format for the club– marking the only time the team has ever used more than just red and white on a regular sweater.

Reversing the Falcons colors would’ve been a hard sell, sure, but the Cougars, man. There was potential and it was left untapped.

Grade: F

Edmonton Oilers (based on the 1979-80 design)

It’s simple, clean and a nod to the team’s inaugural NHL season, while subtly paying homage to their pre-Edmonton Oilers days as the Alberta Oilers in the World Hockey Association (WHA).

Orange is more prominent in what would otherwise likely be a better companion to their home uniform as a road jersey than their current road set, but that’s just probably one of the reasons why the entire jersey wasn’t done in orange instead of white as the base design– because it already exists (sure, with the more modern shade of blue and traffic cone orange, but you get the point).

These aren’t bad, but the Oilers never really stray far from the formula.

Todd McFarlane at least had fun with the brand and nudged it towards the future with his 2001-07 alternate jersey– love it or hate it.

There are just… …fine. The logo wasn’t reversed like some had hoped, but whatever.

Grade: B-

Florida Panthers (based on the 1993-98 design)

The Florida Panthers have long had an identity crisis.

For some, the leaping panther is a better looking logo than today’s spitting image of current head coach, Joel Quenneville, despite the modern logo dating back to the 2016-17 season, which was prior to Quenneville’s arrival behind the bench last season.

Confused? That’s exactly how Florida feels.

This team has probably flipped from red to blue and back again as many times as the state has in U.S. Presidential elections in the last few decades.

Florida’s first dark based uniform was red, then added a blue alternate jersey to their rotation from 1998-2003, before swapping the red with the blue as their new home look from 2003-06, prior to de-arching the nameplates on the back of the jersey on an otherwise untouched design in 2006-07– which was prior to Reebok’s demands that the Panthers use a template with vertical piping centered between the underarms and crest from 2007-11.

Anyway, the Panthers need a blue uniform in their set and this one utilizes the current colors of the franchise (red, blue, tan and white) well in the inverted aesthetic of how the club looked when the team first hit the ice in South Florida after almost being named the Florida Block Busters upon expansion in 1993.

At this point anything else is just filler material to describe a masterpiece that doesn’t really need words to be observed.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Kings (based on the 1988-91 design)

Purple “Forum Blue” is back and the Los Angeles Kings have never felt more royal– except for that time they won the Cup twice in a three-year span in 2012 and 2014.

The timeless look of the Wayne Gretzky era jerseys were given a fresh paint job with old leftover colors, which begs the question “is this really a Reverse Retro look or something new entirely from recycled parts?”

Has marketing gone too far?

Probably not, since there’s no burgers involved this time around.

While the Kings could’ve come up with something different, Los Angeles played it safe and went with something that encapsulates the spirit of the city– trying to be the Los Angeles Lakers.

You might not know some of the struggling actors in Hollywood or if that really was just Anze Kopitar that walked by, but everyone can identity a favorite (or hated, if you’re a Boston Celtics fan) Laker.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Wild (based on the Minnesota North Stars 1978-79 design)

Whereas the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche own and used some form of their old logo from prior to relocation for their Reverse Retro jerseys, the Minnesota Wild have no ties to the Minnesota North Stars because the North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993, so we’re left with the Wild logo as the crest on the front in 3-D and in North Stars colors.

By default, these jerseys should’ve been what the Stars used, but with the North Stars stylized “N” on the front of the jersey or Dallas could’ve just let Minnesota buy back that old logo or whatever, but instead we get this jersey that looks more appropriate for a local beer league team sponsored by Subway.

Some say the Wild should switch to these colors full time– especially with Dallas relinquishing gold from their palette ahead of the 2013-14 season, but those people should just move on like the North Stars did.

The Wild are here to stay and could’ve been really creative with a red or tan based primary color in a true Reverse Retro design based on their original look from 2000-03.

Besides, Minnesota could use a red jersey as an alternate, whether you like it or not. It is one of their team colors and it could go well with their more uniform approach to their jerseys since adidas took over ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Otherwise these are just fine. The yellow on green number font gives off a “Da Beauty League” vibe, which just isn’t very like the NHL to have fun.

Grade: C

Montreal Canadiens (based on the 1974-2007 design with 1909 elements, etc.)

While the Montreal Canadiens played it rather conservative with regards to their Reverse Retro look, the designers over at adidas really came up with something crisp, clean and hit it out of the park.

Montreal last had a third sweater in 2006-07, and it was really well done for being the one and only regular alternate jersey in franchise history.

Though the Habs have a timeless look that isn’t one to be messed with in any matter, there’s always an exception to every rule and this is it if the Canadiens are planning on using this blue jersey as an alternate in the long-term.

Then again, people from Montreal might feel weird about wearing what would otherwise be considered the Nordiques’ primary color, so there’s the “Battle of Québec” to consider.

If you’re a Habs diehard, maybe you don’t like this jersey. If you’re from Québec City and begrudgingly became a Habs fan after the Nordiques relocated to Colorado instead of joining the Boston Bruins fanbase north of the border or simply following the Avalanche, then perhaps this is the jersey for you.

Grade: A

Nashville Predators (based on the 1998-2001 design)

If the Nashville Predators had walked out onto the ice wearing these in 1998, it would’ve explained their evolution to the modern marigold jerseys a lot better than the simple reversal of the colors that they originally made ahead of the 2011-12 season before Reverse Retro became a thing for 2020-21 (and beyond?).

That said, Nashville’s original look inverted to a gold based jersey with the blue stripe separating the silver yoke that runs down the sleeves still looks fantastic– and with the old number and nameplate fonts too!

The one thing that’s not true to the original 1998 design (other than the slightly modified original crest), however, is the shoulder patch that originally debuted on the mustard yellow alternate sweater from 2001-07, but made its way to the home and road uniform’s shoulders from 2005-07.

Does that actually mean this look is really just based on the 2005-07 design and adidas doesn’t think that something as old as 15 years ago isn’t, you know, actually kind of old?

No big deal though, these jerseys are still great, since the Predators went with the better shoulder patch from their early days.

The guitar pick that’s been on their right shoulder of their regular jerseys since 2011 shouldn’t be afraid of going extinct.

Grade: A

New Jersey Devils (based on the 1982-92 design)

Italy! Great to see they finally got an NHL team.

The New Jersey Devils are paying homage to The Sopranos with these Italian flag inspired jerseys.

Actually, it’s just the inverted color scheme of their original road jersey and the Devils have a quality Reverse Retro jersey on their hands. If they plan on keeping the Heritage Jersey long-term, then this brings a fine balance to The Force.

If not, New Jersey should really design a black alternate jersey and roll with red, white, black and green as their main color scheme among the club’s four jersey options.

Now why do I have a craving for Sbarro?

Grade: A

New York Islanders (based on the 1978-84 design)

Was the Gorton’s Fisherman unavailable?

It doesn’t really look like the New York Islanders even tried at all, but upon further inspection you’ll notice that the orange and white are reversed on this jersey– and that’s besides the fact that the blue is a darker shade than how it looked back in the day (and nowadays too).

To the Isles’ credit, this jersey isn’t outlandish like most of their other attempts at creating a contemporary image for their club.

It’s uninspiring and, frankly, not that original, but it works. It just doesn’t offer much for the Reverse Retro vibes, however, which takes major points off overall.

At the very least it wasn’t oversimplified like their neighbors’ new threads in Manhattan.

Grade: D

New York Rangers (based on the 1996-98, 1999-2007 alternate)

Want to know how to kill a good thing? Make it a practice jersey.

These Statue of Liberty jerseys don’t scream “[g]ive me your tired “, but rather “I’m tired and I shouldn’t have been awoken. Now let me go back to sleep.”

The striping pattern on the sleeves would look better on a New England Patriots pro-shop sweater, which should probably unnerve New York Giants and New York Jets fans that are also New York Rangers fans.

It should’ve been red with blue, silver and white inverted stripes to truly make it “Reverse Retro”.

Instead, New York gave us this. Whatever this is.

Grade: F

Ottawa Senators (based on the 1992-93 design with the 1997-2007 crest)

Are you upset about the Ottawa Senators going back and modernizing an early version of their 2-D logo while casting off the red based home jerseys into the sunset? Well then here’s a red jersey for you!

It’s the reverse of the original black jersey, which is sort of back (there’s some minor differences in number font, striping, etc.) and it’s fine, but it just feels like something Sens fans have come to know and despise in recent years– it feels cheap.

Sure, Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Matt Murray and Co. will look good in it, but introducing this jersey alongside the resurrected homage to the days of yore that the team currently has as home and road sweaters just makes this whole thing feel off.

That said, Ottawa does need a red jersey to complete their otherwise timeless set and it wasn’t like we’re going to get a reversed barber pole jersey anytime soon.

Usually something a little different is preferred, though, to make it feel like an alternate or at least a throwback to the original Senators franchise. This will work for now, however.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia Flyers (based on the 1984-97 design)

The inside of the neck of the jersey says it’s inspired by Philadelphia’s look in 1995, but the Flyers wore this design for much longer before, during and after the mid-90s.

Hell, the base of this design first emerged when “Cooperalls” were adorned, then promptly banned by the NHL because after two seasons they were found to be too much of a safety hazard (sliding on ice without any brakes became an issue because of the nature of the pants’ ability to act like a broom in curling and clear a path to the boards).

Anyway, the Flyers already have a solid set of jerseys to the extent that this one isn’t really necessary.

It might conjure images of Halloween, nightmares of Gritty or reminders of being sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) if you don’t perform well in them, but they’re fine, I guess.

Unnecessary, but fine.

Grade: C

Pittsburgh Penguins (based on the 1992-97 design)

The Pittsburgh Penguins became bold in the 1990s after winning their first Stanley Cup ring in franchise history.

First, in 1992, they introduced the “Robo-Penguin” crest to the world, then they made a jersey with diagonal lettering on the front as their road uniform.

Neither decision was very smart and only one of them was corrected on this Reverse Retro jersey, which– all things considered– doesn’t look that bad.

Sure the Penguin on the shoulders is free from his triangle like on their current alternate jerseys (former 2017 Stadium Series look), but the “Pittsburgh” letting seems to standout better on the white edition of this timeless classic (for better or worse).

More teams should experiment with diagonal alternates, but that’s not to say that every team can succeed– let alone barely get away with an acceptable look with just words on the front of their jersey.

There’s a lot of rich jersey history for the Pens though and some of that potential went untapped. It’s a shame, really.

Grade: C+

St. Louis Blues (based on the 1995-98 design)

Aside from the music, the St. Louis Blues are blue for a reason. Sure red is in the St. Louis city flag, but they’re the Blues. The BLUES.

This is almost as bad as the trumpet jerseys that were rightfully spited to the gates of the underworld.

It’d almost make sense to put the shoulder patch as the main crest on these, since then it’d at least make sense as an homage to what was almost the worst alternate jersey in the history of the league, but thankfully avoided due to Mike Keenan’s keen eye.

Some things are just better in concept, but in reality they’re not. As a fashion jersey, this is probably fine. As something the team has to wear on the ice for a game, well… …that’s different.

At least the team didn’t end up moving to Saskatoon back in 1983, right?

Grade: D

San Jose Sharks (based on the 1997-2007 design)

Adidas stipulates that this jersey harkens back to 1998, but the San Jose Sharks originally used this template as an alternate jersey back in 1997-98– the final season that San Jose wore their original uniforms since joining the league in 1991 as an expansion team.

The original Sharks logo is a timeless classic from the ’90s, while the fact that San Jose has already reached back and utilized their original setup to mark their 25th anniversary back in the 2015-16 season, it’s only fitting that they’d naturally move onto their second ever look for the subsequent nod to their franchise history.

In other words, ten years from now, you can probably expect an orange Reverse Retro jersey based on the 2007-13 design, because that’d keep the pattern going.

Anyway, these are fine. They’re nothing spectacular, since grey is a hard sell on a home uniform, but reviving an iconic look without murdering it by reversing it is exactly what the Reverse Retro jerseys are all about.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Lightning (based on the 2001-07 design)

They really like pointing out when teams won Cups years ago with these jerseys, huh? Once again, adidas points out that this is from “2004” (as in “the year the Tampa Bay Lightning won their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history”), but the Bolts used this template from 2001-07 after originally debuting the frameworks of this jersey when they first hit the ice in 1992 as an expansion team.

Tampa refined the look over the years by changing the number and nameplate font to italics, changing the font altogether and finally landing on the look that they wore the last time they won the Cup before 2020.

As such, these Reverse Retro jerseys are a great nod to the Lightning’s history as a hockey market.

Though their current uniforms might be a bit plain, a blue version of what is essentially their original design adds a spark of life to their complete jersey set.

Teams sometimes go back to old motifs after a while and if these are popular enough, the Lightning would be smart to find a way to mix their current logo with this jersey template or something.

Grade: A

Toronto Maple Leafs (based on the 1967-70 design and 1970-72, 1973-75 design, etc.)

What were they thinking? Seriously, what were they thinking?

It’s one thing to pull out the old alternate Leaf logo on the shoulders from “the bad Leaf era” or whatever, but it’s another thing to use elements from the 1960s Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and slap it on the 1970s and 1980s jersey design.

Toronto introduced new jerseys for the 1967 Stanley Cup Playoffs and went on to win the Cup wearing the Leafs logo that was brought back for its appearance on this Reverse Retro jersey, but again, it’s a sin according to Leafs fans and historians to put it on the base design of some of the worst Maple Leafs hockey in franchise history.

Also, it’s a crime to put a blue maple leaf on a blue Maple Leafs jersey– and with blue numbers on the sides and back too!

There’s so much adidas could’ve done with Toronto’s lengthy history of jerseys and instead they went for the most bland design.

If they hadn’t used up the throwbacks to the Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Pats over the last few years, then that would’ve been a great opportunity for a Reverse Retro look that was truly something special.

Even still, they could’ve gone with anything from 1927-67 or 1992-2011 for a better retro feel.

These are just insulting to the Leafs’ legacy.

Grade: F

Vancouver Canucks (based on the 2001-06 alternate)

Gradients aren’t usually something that look great in sports– especially on a hockey jersey. Yet, this time around the Vancouver Canucks have made significant strides in gradient technology.

When this template first hit the ice in 2001, Vancouver utilized a slow change from blue to maroon which– while being a little bit out there– didn’t look completely out of place for Canucks standards.

It wasn’t the greatest thing ever seen, but it also wasn’t the worst, since Vancouver’s previous gradient design was a horizontal change as opposed to the almost symmetrical vertical approach.

Plus, the Canucks had those “V” jerseys before, so it can’t possibly get any worse, right?

This time around, instead of maroon, the Canucks are using green and a sharper looking number font. Sometimes progress takes time, but when it’s allowed the time to grow, the end result is something pretty special.

These Reverse Retro threads get a seal of approval as one of the better nods to an organization’s more recent past.

Grade: A

Vegas Golden Knights (based on the Las Vegas Thunder 1993-98 design)

The Vegas Golden Knights were born in 2017, therefore making it pretty difficult to reverse something retro that hadn’t even been born yet.

If you were thinking “well, they could at least reverse the colors of their jerseys” then you must not have noticed the introduction of their gold alternate uniform this offseason, so that limits you further.

Unless you get creative.

“Sin City” used to have an International Hockey League (IHL) team known as the Las Vegas Thunder.

The Thunder had a primarily a 1990s looking teal, silver, black and white color scheme and used the template that Vegas based their Reverse Retro jersey on to design this red edition with the Golden Knights’ alternate logo on the front of it.

It works, but at what cost?

Vegas could use a red jersey in their overall selection of jerseys to choose from, but this one probably won’t be getting too much time in the spotlight.

Even for a place where “a bit much” is the standard, this jersey seems a bit too much.

Grade: C

Washington Capitals (based on the 1995-2000 road design)

The Washington Capitals hit a home run by digging out the eagle and updating it with their current colors. The only thing that should change if these become part of their jersey rotation is the name and number font.

It’s nice to see something from the past brought into the future, but it’d also be nice to see it get cleaned up a bit more than just the occasional dusting.

It’s an iconic look from the days of a questionable change in the direction of the franchise’s branding, but in the end it made the team that much better.

Or maybe this all just the nostalgia talking. Either way, it gets them an “A”.

Grade: A

Winnipeg Jets (based on the old 1979-80 Winnipeg Jets)

Like the Minnesota Wild and their relation to the Minnesota North Stars, the current Winnipeg Jets have nothing to do with the old Winnipeg Jets, but at least the Jets have the ability to use the old Jets logo.

They also have the ability to use the old Jets’ colors, which could’ve led to a unique red based Reverse Retro jersey, but we got something that looks like it was designed by Snow Miser instead.

Did it really have to be grey?

The Aviator Jersey is at least more colorful than this and did a better job inverting the color scheme than whatever’s going on here.

The logo is fine, the rest of the jersey is, well, it leaves something to be desired.

Grade: D-