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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins top Senators in first meeting in almost two years

Bruce Cassidy picked up his 200th win as head coach of the Boston Bruins, while Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winning goal late in the second period to lift the B’s over the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Jeremy Swayman (3-2-0, 2.22 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in five games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the win for Boston.

Senators goaltender, Matt Murray (0-4-0, 3.10 goals-against average, .897 save percentage in five games played), stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 6-4-0 (12 points) overall and moved into 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while Ottawa dropped to 3-8-1 (seven points) on the season and remained in 7th place in the Atlantic.

Boston is 5-0-0 at home this season, which marks their best start on home ice since the 1990-91 season, when the B’s also went 5-0-0 at home to start the year.

The longest home winning streak is eight games, set by the 1983-84 Bruins on the old Boston Garden ice.

Cassidy, meanwhile, became the sixth head coach in franchise history to reach the 200-win plateau with the club, joining Claude Julien (419 wins, 2008-17), Art Ross (387, 1925-45), Milt Schmidt (245, 1955-66), Don Cherry (231, 1975-79) and Gerry Cheevers (204, 1981-85) in doing so.

Prior to Tuesday night, the last time the Bruins met the Senators in the regular season was on Dec. 9, 2019, in a, 5-2, loss at Canadian Tire Centre.

Additionally, the last time the Sens won in Boston was on April 6, 2017, in a, 2-1, shootout victory at TD Garden.

The two teams will face each other three more times this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Nick Foligno (upper body) and Anton Blidh (upper body) on Tuesday, while Cassidy made a couple of changes to his lineup after Saturday night’s, 5-2, loss in Toronto.

Jack Studnicka made his return to Boston’s lineup at right wing on the third line with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Erik Haula at center, while Curtis Lazar took over Karson Kuhlman’s role on the right side of the fourth line.

Kuhlman joined Jakub Zboril on the short list of healthy scratches for the B’s on Tuesday.

Taylor Hall turned the puck over in his own zone on a blind pass while trying to generate a rush the other direction, but Ottawa took the puck to the net, generated a rebound and that’s where Zach Sanford (1) came in to clean up the garbage with his first goal of the season– giving the Senators a, 1-0, lead 1:14 into the first period.

Ottawa’s 10th captain in franchise history, Brady Tkachuk (3) had the only assist on Sanford’s goal in what was the earliest goal against allowed by Boston so far this season.

About a minute later, Charlie McAvoy cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented the Senators with the night’s first power play at 2:47.

The Sens were not successful on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Drake Batherson caught Charlie Coyle with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction at 12:43, but Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short when McAvoy tripped up Alex Formenton at 13:14, yielding an allotted span of 4-on-4 action for the next 1:29– until Coyle slashed Nick Paul and went to the box at 13:42, however.

Ottawa was given a rare 4-on-3 power play for about 1:02 and used their timeout with 5:19 remaining in the first period to rally on the scoreboard, but the Bruins stood tall on the penalty kill as both teams resumed full strength 5-on-5 action shortly thereafter.

Sens defender, Erik Brännström, tripped Coyle at 16:27 and presented the B’s with another power play opportunity that went by the wayside as the first period came to an end with the Senators leading on the scoreboard, 1-0.

Through 20 minutes of play, the Bruins led in shots on goal, 14-11, and held the advantage in giveaways (3-2), hits (11-6) and faceoff win percentage (61-39).

Meanwhile, Ottawa dominated in blocked shots (6-1) and takeaways (4-3) heading into the first intermission.

The Senators were 0/3 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play after one period.

Six seconds into the second period, David Pastrnak was assessed with a roughing minor after knocking down Thomas Chabot away from the play.

Ottawa did not convert on the resulting power play, however.

A few minutes later, Artem Zub delivered a quick, swift, cross check to Pastrnak and earned a couple minutes in the sin bin as a result at 3:46 of the second period.

This time the Bruins capitalized on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the power play, McAvoy worked the puck to Pastrnak, who wired a shot towards the net off of his teammate, Brad Marchand’s (5) chest and into the twine– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Pastrnak (4) and McAvoy (5) tallied the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal at 5:12 of the second period.

About five minutes later, the Bruins were dominating attacking zone possession when Hall worked the puck to Coyle, who promptly set up Derek Forbort (2) for a shot from inside the faceoff dot to Murray’s right side– beating the Senators goaltender high, glove side, across the crease while pinching in from the point.

Coyle (3) and Hall (4) were credited with the assists as Boston snagged their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 10:58.

Less than a few minutes later, after Paul gingerly made his way off the ice with an apparent leg injury (he’d return to the action in the third period), Nikita Zaitsev (1) skated along the boards to get to a loose puck first and sent a shot through Swayman into the net to tie the game, 2-2, at 13:09.

Tyler Ennis (6) and Chabot (4) tallied the assists on Zaitsev’s first goal of the season and the Senators were surging.

A couple minutes later, Trent Frederic went down the tunnel after Josh Brown made a hit in open ice that knocked Frederic out of the rest of Tuesday night’s action with an upper body, as the B’s would later tweet prior to the start of the third period.

With tensions rising, it didn’t take much for Connor Clifton and Formenton to get tangled up while the puck was making its way to the other end of the ice.

Clifton and Formenton dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs as a result in what was Boston’s second fighting major of the season– the first since Frederic fought Jacob Middleton on Oct. 24th, when the San Jose Sharks were in town in a, 4-3, win for Boston.

Rather than heading to the box at 18:10 of the second period, both Clifton and Formenton got a head start in the showers before the second intermission began.

Shortly after the fight, a scrum ensued when Murray froze the puck, leading Marchand and Chabot into a bit of a shoving match that resulted in roughing minors for each player at 18:24.

For the next two minutes, the Bruins and Senators would skate at 4-on-4 once more.

Less than a minute after fisticuffs were exchanged and roughing minors were dealt, Bergeron (5) settled an indirect pass from Pastrnak that ricocheted off of a broken stick before firing the rubber biscuit under Murray’s arm.

Pastrnak (5) and McAvoy (6) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins led, 3-2, at 18:40 of the second period.

Entering the second intermission, Boston was atop the scoreboard, 3-2, and in shots on goal, 29-17, including a, 15-6, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Ottawa held the lead in blocked shots (16-2) and hits (20-16), while Boston led in faceoff win% (58-42) and both teams split takeaways (5-5), as well as giveaways (3-3).

The Sens were 0/4 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/3 heading into the final frame of regulation.

There was no scoring in the third period, though there were a pair of minor penalties against Boston as the Bruins looked to hold off the Senators for the win.

Studnicka tripped up Zub at 2:11 of the third, but the Sens couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play.

Boston’s penalty kill remained effective in doing their job when Hall was sent to the box for hooking Brännström at 11:42.

Ottawa was down to their last hope with about 1:34 remaining in the game as head coach, D.J. Smith, pulled Murray for an extra attacker.

Despite his best efforts at hitting the empty net, Pastrnak iced the puck with 1:26 remaining, but Boston went unscathed in the ensuing defensive zone faceoff.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 36-27, despite trailing the Senators, 10-7, in shots on net in the third period alone.

Ottawa wrapped up Tuesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (19-4) and giveaways (5-4), while Boston exited their own building with the advantage in hits (27-26) and faceoff win% (58-42).

The Sens finished the night 0/6 on the skater advantage while the B’s went 1/3 on the power play.

The Bruins improved to 1-2-0 (1-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-2-0 (1-0-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 4-0-0 (3-0-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Senators fell to 2-4-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when scoring first, 2-3-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 0-6-0 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston wraps up a two-game homestand on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers before hitting the road for a Saturday matinee with the New Jersey Devils prior to returning home to face the Montréal Canadiens on Sunday.

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NHL Nick's Net

Chara rockets Bruins over Senators, 2-1

Former Ottawa Senators defender and current Boston Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, scored the game-winning goal almost midway through the third period as Tuukka Rask backstopped the Bruins to a, 2-1, win over the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday night.

Rask (12-2-2 record, 2.10 goals against average, .931 save percentage in 16 games played) made 33 saves on 34 shots against for a .971 SV% in the win.

Sens goaltender, Anders Nilsson (7-5-1, 2.58 GAA, .927 SV% in 13 GP) turned aside 19 out of 21 shots faced for a .905 SV% in the loss.

Boston extended their current winning streak to five games and improved to 17-3-5 (39 points) on the season, while holding onto 1st place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the entire league.

Ottawa fell to an 11-13-1 (23 points) record, but stuck in 7th place in the Atlantic.

The Bruins also improved to 8-3-1 on the road this season, while the Senators stumbled to 7-5-0 at home.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body), Zach Senyshyn (lower body), Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Brett Ritchie (upper body) on Wednesday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor changes to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 8-1, win in Montreal to Wednesday night’s matchup in Ottawa.

After making his NHL debut against the Canadiens (and playing four games in five nights, split between the NHL and AHL), Jack Studnicka was a healthy scratch on Wednesday with Brendan Gaunce making his Bruins debut against the Sens.

Gaunce was slated between Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle as the second line center, while the rest of the forward lines were left untouched.

Steven Kampfer went into the lineup in place of Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing alongside Matt Grzelcyk.

Studnicka and Clifton were Boston’s only healthy scratches against the Senators.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the B’s announced they had signed Coyle and Chris Wagner to multi-year extensions.

Coyle, 27, signed a six-year extension worth $5.250 million per season and Wagner, 28, signed a three-year extension worth $1.350 million per season.

At puck drop, David Krejci surpassed Don Marcotte for sole possession of 9th place for most games played as a Bruin, having appeared in his 869th career NHL game on Wednesday.

Midway through the period, Senators head coach, D.J. Smith, lost count and had too many skaters on the ice, resulting in a minor infraction at 14:50 of the first period that was served by Brady Tkachuk.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the opening frame, Gaunce slashed Jean-Gabriel Pageau at 18:42 and was sent to the box with an infraction.

The Senators were not successful on the resulting skater advantage.

Heading into the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, with the Sens outshooting the B’s, 9-3. Ottawa also led in takeaways (4-3) and hits (13-9), while Boston led in blocked shots (13-2), giveaways (3-0) and faceoff win percentage (54-46).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play entering the second period.

There were no goals scored nor any penalties called in the second period, yielding end-to-end action that was dominated by one team or the other at times, as both the B’s and Sens racked up zone time without anything to show on the scoreboard.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston and Ottawa were still tied, 0-0, despite the Senators leading in shots on goal, 24-10– including a, 15-7 advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (8-4) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Senators led in hits (25-24).

Both teams had five takeaways each and remained 0/1 on the power play entering the third period.

Just 41 seconds into the third period, Chris Tierney caught the Bruins in the midst of a line change and sent Thomas Chabot (3) up-ice and on a breakaway, whereby the Senators defender flipped a shot over Rask’s glove side to give Ottawa the game’s first lead, 1-0.

Tierney (9) had the only assist on Chabot’s goal.

Less than two minutes later, Anthony Duclair was penalized for interference and presented Boston with their 2nd power play of the night at 2:09 of the third period.

Though the B’s didn’t score while on the advantage, they did capitalize in the vulnerable minute as Brad Marchand (18) slipped a shot through Nilsson’s five-hole after dancing around a Sens skater upon receiving a pass from Anders Bjork.

Bjork (2) and Sean Kuraly (7) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 5:15.

About a few minutes later, after Boston’s fourth line went to work deep into the attacking zone, Joakim Nordstrom freed the puck to Gaunce, who then sent the rubber biscuit back to the point where Chara (5) blasted one of his trademark slap shots to give Boston their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Gaunce (1) and Nordstrom (1) collected the assists on Chara’s game-winning goal at 8:45 of the third period.

With the primary assist, Gaunce recorded his first point with the Bruins in his Boston debut, while Chara became the oldest defender in NHL history to record a four-game point streak, surpassing Chris Chelios’ previous record with the Detroit Red Wings set in the 2003-04 season.

At the time Chelios’ streak began, he was 42 years and 62 days old. Chara, on the other hand, was 42 years and 248 days old.

Fittingly, the Senators and their fans gave Chara a standing ovation for surpassing 1,500 career NHL games earlier this month.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Wagner cross checked Tyler Ennis and cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:53.

The Senators did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

With 1:39 remaining in regulation, Smith pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but Boston’s defense and Rask stood tall, casting aside scoring chance after scoring chance in the dying minute of the action.

At the final horn, the Bruins had secured the, 2-1, win in Ottawa, despite being outshot by the Senators, 34-21.

Boston held an, 11-10, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone and finished the night leading in blocked shots (21-15) and giveaways (11-9).

Ottawa left their own building with the advantage in hits (34-30) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Both teams finished the night 0/2 on the power play.

Boston finished their quick two-game road trip 2-0-0 and returns home to debut their new third jersey against the New York Rangers in a Black Friday matinee in the NHL’s 2019 Discover Thanksgiving Showdown.

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DTFR Podcast #174- Coaching Conundrums

Some firsts, 100s, broken fingers and pointing fingers– who should be concerned about their job security behind the bench? Plus Cap’n and Pete are back.

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

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Ottawa Senators 2019-20 Season Preview

Ottawa Senators

29-47-6, 64 points, 8th in the Atlantic Division

Missed the postseason for the second straight year

Additions: F Artem Anisimov (acquired from CHI), F Ryan Callahan (acquired from TBL), F Tyler Ennis, F Jordan Szwarz, D Ron Hainsey, D Nikia Zaitsev (acquired from TOR)

Subtractions: F Chase Balisy (DEL), F Brian Gibbons (signed with CAR), F Oscar Lindberg (NLA), F Aaron Luchuk (traded to TOR), F Jim O’Brien (DEL), F Zack Smith (traded to CHI), D Cody Ceci (traded to TOR), D Stefan Elliott (KHL), D Ben Harpur (traded to TOR), G Mike Condon (traded to TBL)

Still unsigned: F Darren Archibald, F Magnus Paajarvi, F Adam Tambellini, D Erik Burgdoerfer, D Justin Falk

Re-signed: F Michael Carcone (rights acquired in a trade with TOR, then re-signed), F Nick Paul, F Brady Tkachuk, F Colin White, D Christian Wolanin

Offseason Analysis: Senators owner, Eugene Melnyk, promised roster turnover in that awkward video with defender, Mark Borowiecki, last season and boy what a turnover the Sens have had since last year.

Bobby Ryan’s $7.250 million cap hit is still the highest on the team, despite Melnyk’s well-known intention on trading his biggest contract remaining– even though General Manager, Pierre Dorion, can’t even find a team that’s looking to get to the salary cap floor to send him to.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has $15.325 million in dead cap space on the long-term injured reserve (Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik and Clarke MacArthur), though knowing Melnyk, he won’t bother to urge Dorion to place his assets on the long term injured reserve and would rather shelf the cap space for the sake of keeping the payroll down.

There’s nothing else to say about this organization.

It’s explicitly out there that they’re not even going to give a sniff of an effort until at least “2021” when they plan on being competitive for a period of about four years.

On the bright side, Colin White signed a six-year extension worth $4.750 million per season, which will take him right up to unrestricted free agency after the 2024-25 season.

If he’s not traded before then, he’s at least provided himself with just enough insurance to get through the first chapter of his career as a Senator.

Dorion traded Cody Ceci as part of a package to the Toronto Maple Leafs and is looking to recreate the Dion Phaneuf trade from the Leafs to Ottawa, in which Phaneuf’s career was rejuvenated before later being traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

This time around, Nikita Zaitsev is looking for a turnaround at 27-years-old, but he won’t be doing it without any familiar company as 38-year-old, Ron Hainsey, was not kept around in Toronto and joined the Sens this July.

Even D.J. Smith is jumping ship as a Maple Leafs assistant coach and taking up his first NHL head coaching job behind the bench for the Senators this season.

Ottawa’s defense is still hurting after trading away Erik Karlsson last September, however this season’s defensive pairings with Zaitsev and Hainsey joining Thomas Chabot, Christian Jaros and perhaps Erik Brannstrom throughout the full season will only help improve the younger blue liners in the long-run.

In the grand scope of things, the Senators are going to need to find Craig Anderson’s replacement as the 38-year-old starting goaltender intends to finish his career in Ottawa, but has one-year remaining on his current contract.

If there’s any positive takeaway from last season, it’s that despite finishing last in the overall league standings, the Sens managed to have only the second-worst goal differential with a minus-60.

They also were the only team without 30 or more wins last season.

Offseason Grade: D+

The defense is better than it was last season, but it’s not the greatest in the league. The addition of Artem Anisimov from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Zack Smith strengthens the Senators down the middle, but for how long (Anisimov is signed through 2020-21 and currently 31-years-old). Even with Brady Tkachuk and a plethora of youth in the system– good or bad– there’s still a general sense of existential dread in Ottawa.

Nonetheless, there’s no excuse for an intentionally drawn out rebuild with no legitimate end goal in sight. It’s like they’re trying to be the Detroit Lions of the NHL.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews Stats Forecasts

2019-20 Atlantic Division Outlook

As the entire hockey world awaits training camp action next month, let’s make some (un)educated guesses about the upcoming season that will totally pan out because everything always goes as expected. (It doesn’t.)

The projected standings below are only a forecast.

They are based on recent indications– as well as the last few seasons of stats– and cannot account for variations in roster construction (a.k.a. trades and free agency moves).

There’s a lot of variables that will turn the tables upside down, including transactions, injuries and otherwise. Anything can happen.

As always, it’s more important to remember 1) the spread and 2) the positioning.

Just how many points separate the projected division winner from the last wild card spot (the spread) and where a team is supposed to finish in the division standings (the position) can imply that things aren’t always what they seem.

A team that’s projected to win it all still has to play an 82-game regular season, qualify for the playoffs and go on to amass 16 wins in the postseason.

Projected Standings After ZERO Months

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Tampa Bay Lightning, 109 points
  2. x-Boston Bruins, 105 points
  3. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 91 points
  4. Florida Panthers, 89 points
  5. Montreal Canadiens, 89 points
  6. Detroit Red Wings, 84 points
  7. Ottawa Senators, 78 points
  8. Buffalo Sabres, 71 points

Tampa Bay Lightning: Pros and Cons

The Lightning are annual favorites among the experts to win the Stanley Cup, so it’s no surprise, really, that they haven’t yet. There’s either too many expectations to live up to or there’s too much of a casual atmosphere from season-to-season.

You know what they say when you assume.

Just like the Washington Capitals and their 2018 Stanley Cup championship, it’s better for the Bolts if nobody is talking about them. Prior to the Caps winning in 2018, there was a “Cup or bust” mantra that just didn’t work.

Nothing is willed without hard work and humility.

That’s not to say Tampa doesn’t work hard or isn’t humble, but rather, they must lose on the big stage repetitively until everyone expects them to fail. That’s when they’ll go on a run.

They’ve managed to keep their roster together (granted, RFA center, Brayden Point, is still unsigned) while trimming the fat (gone are the days of Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi on the blue line) and are still Stanley Cup front-runners, but they likely won’t get back to the 60-win plateau in back-to-back seasons.

The Lightning will still get to 50 wins for the third season in-a-row, have Nikita Kucherov set the league on fire in scoring and yield out-of-this-world goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy before the real season starts– the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

How would the Lightning fail?

Everyone keeps talking about the Lightning as if they’re some godsend (too much hype, remember?). That, or General Manager Julien BriseBois blows up the roster and/or Jon Cooper is fired as head coach.

Boston Bruins: Pros and Cons

The Bruins core remains strong among their forwards and as long as they’re able to negotiate an extension with RFAs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo without any bumps in the road, then their defense is pretty sound too.

Jaroslav Halak signed a two-year deal last summer, so the 1A/1B tandem of Tuukka Rask and Halak in the crease seems fine for another run in 2019-20.

Boston exceeded expectations in 2017-18 and went under the radar in 2018-19– though they managed to amass only 10 losses in regulation since Jan. 1st, which means they were actually pretty loud in the points percentage column.

Injuries come and go.

If the Bruins are able to stay healthy instead of dropping like flies to their 12th defenseman on the depth chart, they might actually pick up a few more points than they did last season.

With Bruce Cassidy as head coach, things should remain status quo in the regular season, but Boston still needs to address their top-six forward problem.

David Pastrnak can play on the first or second line, but on any given night that leaves one of their top two lines in need of a scoring winger.

General Manager Don Sweeney managed to patch a hole at the third line center– acquiring Charlie Coyle as last season’s trade deadline loomed– and Coyle was one of their better players in their 2019 Stanley Cup Final postseason run.

But with a couple of depth signings for bottom six roles in the offseason (Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie), everyone getting another year older and David Backes’ $6.000 million cap hit through 2020-21 still on the books, Boston’s hands are tied.

How would the Bruins fail?

There’s enough bark in the regular season, but not enough bite for a deep postseason run. It’s harder than ever before to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons– and that’s before you consider age, injuries and regression.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Pros and Cons

Toronto has Auston Matthews as their second best center. Yes. Second best. Why? Because John Tavares enters the second year of his long-term seven-year deal that he signed last July.

That alone will continue to keep the Leafs afloat with a strong 1-2 duo down the middle.

Regardless of the Mitch Marner contract negotiations (or lack thereof), the Maple Leafs are just fine with their forwards– having traded Nazem Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche and acquiring Alex Kerfoot in the process (Calle Rosen and Tyson Barrie were also swapped in the deal).

Patrick Marleau is gone and it only cost Toronto a conditional 2020 1st round pick (top-10 lottery protected) and a 2020 7th round pick in the process, but an affordable Jason Spezza at league minimum salary ($700,000) on a one-year deal for fourth line minutes will do just fine.

By puck drop for the 2019-20 season, the Leafs will save $10.550 million in cap space thanks to David Clarkson (yes, his contract’s back after a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights that sent Garret Sparks the other way) and Nathan Horton’s placement on the long-term injured reserve.

The stars are aligning for Toronto to still need to get past the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

With Kadri gone, however, perhaps they will be able to do so with or without Boston in the equation.

How would the Leafs fail?

They don’t sign Marner and they lose in another Game 7 because of it. There’s a lot of turbulence ahead for Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas considering the Leafs have one defender under contract after 2019-20. If the team doesn’t breakout in the postseason, it’s really just status quo until proven otherwise.

Florida Panthers: Pros and Cons

The Panthers are beginning to ripen with a mix of youth and experience among their forwards, plus a defense that quietly does their job.

They also added Noel Acciari, Brett Connolly, Anton Stralman and (most importantly) Sergei Bobrovsky to the mix.

While Acciari’s $1.667 million cap hit through 2021-22 is a slight overpay for a fourth line center, at least it could be worse. Connolly’s making $3.500 million for the next four years and even Stralman has a cap hit of $5.500 million through 2021-22 when he’ll be turning 36 on August 1, 2022.

Ok, so it was an expensive offseason for Florida– and that’s before you add the $10.000 million price tag for the next seven years of Bobrovsky in the crease.

Yes, despite landing one of the better goaltenders in the league in free agency, General Manager Dale Tallon managed to make matters complicated after, say, the fourth year of Bobrovsky’s contract.

Bobrovsky will be roughly 37-years-old by the time his contract with the Panthers expires and not everyone can be like Dwayne Roloson in the net forever.

At least they drafted Spencer Knight (in the first round– a goaltending prospect curse).

Though they missed the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by 12 points for an Eastern Conference wild card spot, the Panthers are in a position to gain more than a few wins with new head coach (and three-time Stanley Cup champion) Joel Quenneville behind the bench.

How would the Panthers fail?

Florida’s already landed the biggest prize in head coaching free agency with Quenneville reuniting with Tallon in Sunrise. What could possibly go wrong (besides Tallon being replaced by a clone of Stan Bowman and then the Panthers go on to win three Cups without Tallon in command)?

Montreal Canadiens: Pros and Cons

Montreal didn’t get Matt Duchene or Sebastian Aho in free agency, so they got the next best thing– not overspending on July 1st.

That’s not to say Duchene and Aho aren’t quality players, but rather just an observation of cap concerns for the Habs with Max Domi as a pending-RFA in July 2020 and the rest of Montreal’s future core (Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki, Victor Mete, Cayden Primeau and Jesperi Kotkaniemi) to consider going down the road.

Granted, Aho could’ve sped the process up a bit if it weren’t for those pesky RFA rights and compensation in the CBA, right Montreal?

The Canadiens need a legitimate number one center, but General Manager Marc Bergevin has been preoccupied restructuring the defense in the meantime.

That’s not a bad thing.

Shea Weber is 34 and under contract through the 2025-26 season, though after 2021-22, his base salary drops to $3.000 million in 2022-23 and $1.000 million from 2023-26 (meaning he could be traded with ease in a few years, despite his $7.857 million cap hit).

But Karl Alzner and Jeff Petry are both over 30 and have no-trade and/or no-movement clauses in their contracts.

At least free agent addition, Ben Chiarot, is 28-years-old, but he also carries a no-trade clause as part of his three-year deal.

How would the Canadiens fail?

Claude Julien inexplicably reverts back to his old ways and doesn’t play the kids, Carey Price is injured for most of the season and/or Bergevin overcompensates in a trade because of his failure to secure a free agent center.

Detroit Red Wings: Pros and Cons

Steve Yzerman has come home and is rightfully the General Manager for the Red Wings, but as we’ve seen in Tampa, his masterplan takes a little time.

Detroit is four or five years out from being an annual Cup contender, but that doesn’t mean the Red Wings haven’t already sped things up in their rebuild.

Trading for Adam Erne isn’t a grand-slam, but it does make the average age of the roster a tad younger.

It also means that the Red Wings now have seven pending-RFAs on their NHL roster and roughly $37.000 million to work with in July 2020.

How would the Red Wings fail?

Having Yzerman in the front office at Little Caesars Arena is like adding all of the best toppings to a pizza. The only downside is that leftover pineapple is still on the pizza from all of the no-trade clauses delivered by the last guy.

Ottawa Senators: Pros and Cons

The Senators are looking to spend ba-by.

Just kidding, they don’t plan on being good until 2021, so does that mean starting with the 2020-21 season or the following year in 2021-22?

But they do have a ton of draft picks stockpiled including two in the 1st round in 2020, three in the 2nd round, one in the 3rd, 4th and 5th, a pair in the 6th and one in the 7th.

Plus they have roughly $15.600 million in cap space currently and eight players under contract for next season that aren’t on the injured reserve.

For some reason (Eugene Melnyk) current-RFA Colin White is still unsigned and 38-year-old, Ron Hainsey, was signed in free agency, but at least Cody Ceci is a Maple Leaf now.

Oh and former Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith is Ottawa’s head coach now. That’ll show them!

How would the Senators fail?

More importantly, how would Ottawa succeed?

Buffalo Sabres: Pros and Cons

Pro: The Sabres will probably be better than last season.

Con: Ralph Krueger is Buffalo’s new head coach and nobody knows what to expect (he went 19-22-7 in the lockout shortened 48-game season with the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13).

Pro: Only eight skaters are under contract next season.

Con: Only eight skaters are under contract next season, including Rasmus Ristolainen and nobody is sure whether or not the club is trying to trade him.

Pro: Marcus Johansson!

Con: Jimmy Vesey! (Only cost Buffalo two third round picks over three years to get him.)

Pro: The average age of the roster is about 26.

Con: Matt Hunwick is the oldest player at 34-years-old, followed by Carter Hutton at 33 and Vladimir Sobotka at 32.

Pro: Royal blue in 2020!

Con: It’s not until 2020.

How would the Sabres fail?

If Buffalo actually finishes last in the division, instead of any improvement whatsoever.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #159- Battle For Gloria (Part One)

Nick and Pete recap the Ottawa Senators coaching hire, two extensions, the latest rumors and the 2019 Western Conference Final while teasing their 2019 Stanley Cup Final preview.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.