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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

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.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #204- Late For Everything!

Nick and Colby talk about what went wrong for the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams eliminated in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, as well as preview the already in progress 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round.

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

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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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DTFR Podcast #170- 2019-20 Season Preview: Atlantic Division

Brayden Point re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a bunch of other RFAs signed extensions, the Boston Pride were sold, Dan Girardi retired and DTFR’s season previews continued with the Atlantic Division.

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

Toronto Maple Leafs 2019-20 Season Preview

Toronto Maple Leafs

46-28-8, 100 points, 3rd in the Atlantic Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Boston

Additions: F Pontus Aberg, F Kenny Agostino, F David Clarkson (acquired from VGK), F Tyler Gaudet, F Alexander Kerfoot (acquired from COL), F Kalle Kossila, F Aaron Luchuk (acquired from OTT), F Nick Shore, F Jason Spezza, F Garrett Wilson, D Tyson Barrie (acquired from COL), D Cody Ceci (acquired from OTT), D Kevin Gravel, D Ben Harpur (acquired from OTT), D Jordan Schmaltz (acquired from STL)

Subtractions: F Nick Baptiste (signed with Toronto, AHL), F Connor Brown (traded to OTT), F Michael Carcone (traded to OTT), F Tyler Ennis (signed with OTT), F Gabriel Gagne (signed with Allen, ECHL), F Josh Jooris (NLA), F Dakota Joshua (traded to STL), F Nazem Kadri (traded to COL), F Patrick Marleau (traded to CAR), F Chris Mueller (signed with TBL), D Andreas Borgman (traded to STL), D Jake Gardiner (signed with CAR), D Fedor Gordeev (traded to MIN), D Ron Hainsey (signed with OTT), D Vincent LoVerde (signed with Hartford, AHL), D Igor Ozhiganov (KHL), D Calle Rosen (traded to COL), D Jordan Subban (EBEL), D Nikita Zaitsev (traded to OTT), G Eamon McAdam (signed with Binghamton, AHL), G Garret Sparks (traded to VGK)

Still Unsigned: D Steve Oleksy

Re-signed: F Mitch Marner, D Martin Marincin, G Michael Hutchinson

Offseason Analysis: Kyle Dubas had a busy offseason as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. His main priority was re-signing Mitch Marner, which finally wrapped up on Sept. 13th.

Marner signed a six-year extension worth $10.893 million per season. Whether or not he’s actually worth that much money is a different question, but the fact of the matter is it didn’t help the Maple Leafs.

Together with Auston Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander, Marner and the other three make up $40,489,366 of Toronto’s salary cap.

This season’s salary cap ceiling is $81.500 million.

Three of the seven highest paid players in the league are on the Leafs and the four highest paid Leafs eat up almost half of Toronto’s salary cap.

At the time of Marner’s signing, the Maple Leafs were $13,365,199 over the salary cap.

Granted, Pontus Aberg and Frederik Gauthier were assigned to the Toronto Marlies (AHL), while Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott are all expected to be placed on the long-term injured reserve to allow the Leafs to remain cap compliant.

Things should get interesting, however, once Hyman and Dermott return from injury, not that their salaries are that expensive, but rather the day-to-day cap operations and paper transactions necessary to make things work should be a lot of fun for Toronto’s front office to balance.

Mike Babcock is still behind the bench in Toronto after three straight seasons of First Round exits– including back-to-back Game 7 losses on the road against the Boston Bruins in 2018 and last season.

Dubas was active in the trade market to 1) free up expendable salary to re-sign Marner and 2) improve his roster from last season to this season.

He may have unintentionally 3) stunted the team’s growth in the process.

Toronto seven trades involving players this offseason, including three pretty big deals for the Maple Leafs.

Patrick Marleau, a conditional 2020 1st round pick and a 2020 7th round pick were shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2020 6th round pick at the 2019 NHL Draft on June 22nd.

Rather than buyout Marleau’s contract and face cap penalty, Toronto was able to convince Carolina to take on his salary and offer him the chance to play for the Hurricanes or buy him out. Marleau refused to play for the Canes, so now Carolina is saddled with his buyout penalty.

In the process, if the Maple Leafs yield a top-10 pick in the 2020 Draft, the conditional 1st rounder in the trade becomes a 2021 1st round pick.

In place of Marleau, the Leafs signed Jason Spezza to a league-minimum, one-year, $700,000 contract. Spezza will likely play on the fourth line in a limited role as Marleau would have begun to see less and less time on ice at this stage of his career.

Dubas knew Toronto wasn’t going to be able to keep Jake Gardiner and maintain a happy relationship with Nikita Zaitsev as Zaitsev had already requested a trade.

As such, Dubas packaged Zaitsev with Connor Brown and Michael Carcone in a trade with the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk and a 2020 3rd round pick on July 1st.

Ceci then signed a one-year extension– worth $4.500 million– as a restricted free agent with the Leafs.

For that same price and eight points less than Ceci had last season, Zaitsev is at least signed through 2023-24 at the fixed rate of $4.500 million.

Zaitsev has broken the 30-point plateau before as a defender, while Ceci never has– though he did record 26 points with Ottawa last season.

The fact of the matter is that if Toronto was trying to save money this season on a defender, they didn’t.

And if they were thinking “maybe we can find a cheaper replacement in Ceci”, the fact that they’re already paying the defender in his prime what Zaitsev was already making doesn’t do them any long-term favors as Ceci’s cap hit is expected to go up– especially if the current ceiling remains about the same until the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated in 2022.

But for all that the loss of Gardiner did to the special teams in Toronto, at least Dubas was able to find a sweet deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Maple Leafs traded Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 3rd round pick to Colorado for Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 6th round pick on July 1st.

The Avs retained some salary on Barrie’s contract, which– you guessed it– also expires at the end of this season, but at least Toronto can afford $2.750 million right now as opposed to a more significant cap hit.

To their credit, the Maple Leafs negotiated a four-year extension with Kerfoot worth $3.500 million per season, which is $1.000 million less than Kadri’s cap hit.

Barrie is a versatile defender that excels on the power play and fills the void left behind by Gardiner’s departure.

Clearly, while Dubas has, in fact, made improvements to the team, he’s also made minor tweaks and delayed the inevitable headaches that he or the next general manager of the Maple Leafs is sure to face.

But at least this time around Toronto is convinced they have the team that they’ve been planning for the last five years to “win now”.

The younger players are more experienced, the salary spent is at the ceiling and Babcock– a Stanley Cup winning coach who last won the Cup 11 years ago with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 (a rather different era and style of the game than what it is today)– are all ready for the challenge of making it out of the First Round to show they’ve at least made some progress.

One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing and expecting a different result” and if something doesn’t change the end result in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Toronto, then…

At the very least, last season’s backup, Garret Sparks, was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Clarkson’s contract and a 2020 4th round pick and nobody can blame Marner for being a “greedy holdout” anymore.

Offseason Grade: B-

The Marner contract is not great, but the other moves made by the Leafs this offseason mean that they’re actually trying. There is a plan in place that they remain committed to– constantly evaluating and re-evaluating talent for the overall intended improvement of the organization.

Whether or not Toronto is sure to win the Cup this season remains to be seen. Every year there’s always Cup front runners on paper, but the on-ice product and results vary. This team is capable of winning the Cup, but they still have a lot of work to do to earn it.

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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.

Categories
NHL Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #164- The Free Agency Mega-Hour

Nick, Cap’n and Pete recap the last two weeks of trades and first few days of free agency 2K19.

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Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #163- Cap’n Crunch

The salary cap isn’t going up as much as everyone hoped. Also, there were plenty of trades, buyouts and extensions handed out in the last week. Nick, Colby, Cap’n and Pete examine each move and pick 2019 NHL Awards winners.

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Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #161- Battle For Gloria (Part Three- The Games Are Happening Part)

The Battle For Gloria rages on with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues tied 2-2 in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Nick and Pete also discuss the latest coaching moves (Dave Tippett, Bob Boughner, Marc Crawford), trades (Kevin Hayes) and rumors (Patrick Marleau, Nikita Zaitsev, Phil Kessel), while Nick introduces a new game segment that has Pete stumped.

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