The best move of each team
Posted at 7:45 a.m.
Yeah. Their differential of -20 is by far the worst in the NHL. The two headliners acquired this summer, Ryan Strome and John Klingberg, are transparent. They will be content with soap gums. The most deserving? Frank Vatranowho has just signed a new three-year contract and has three goals to his name*.
Christian Fischer. Rehired for barely $1 million, he also scored three goals, in addition to being the only forward on his team with a positive differential.
Patrice Bergeron returned for just 2.5 million. A fantastic bargain. The Quebecer maintains an average of one point per game, and he has the best differential of all forwards in the NHL (+ 8).
Eric Comrie, an American League veteran, inherited the number one goalie position. He is not downgraded, as demonstrated by his save rate of 91%.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri must replace the offensive production of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. A difficult mandate. Kadri, however, emerged from the starting blocks with a bulging chest, with nine points in seven games.
We have enough fingers on both hands to count the defensemen who, at 37, have scored more than 40 points. Brent Burns has an excellent chance of joining the group. He already has six in eight games and he plays in the first unit on the power play.
In his last months in Montreal, Max Domi found himself at the center of the fourth line. Today, he successfully rotates the Hawks’ front line. His success rate in the free pass circle (69%) is the highest of any « regular » center in the NHL.
For half Nathan MacKinnon’s salary, Valery Nichushkin produces as well. Before his injury this week, the Russian winger had managed 12 points in seven games. He particularly distinguished himself on the power play with five goals, an NHL high.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets – last in the East – will only be entitled to black licorice in the bottom of the dish. Except Johnny Gaudreauto whom we have reserved Skittles of all colors, for his five goals in nine games.
Jake Oettingerwho has just signed a new three-year contract (12 million), was the best goalkeeper in the league in October.
Detroit Red Wings
Dominik Kubalik is one of the most beautiful surprises of the new season. The former Blackhawks, hired for just 2.5 million in July, is one of the NHL’s leading scorers with 11 points – including five on the power play.
Other than goaltender Jack Campbell, it’s pretty much the same team as last season. And since Campbell isn’t shining, I put out the candle in the pumpkin. No candy.
Matthew Tkachuk was expensive, but it produces abundantly. He leads the NHL in even-strength points (10).
Los Angeles Kings
Kevin Fiala continues his progression towards the elite level of the NHL, with almost a point per game (9 in 10).
Like the Oilers, virtually the same roster as last winter. So I pass.
Sean Monahan, obtained for free WITH a first-round pick, provides valuable services to the Habs. He’s in the league’s top 10 for stolen pucks, with 10.
Nino Niederreiter is the team’s top scorer, with four goals. On the other hand, things got worse in the last five games (no points, -6).
New Jersey Devils
In almost 30 shorthanded minutes, the defender John Marino allowed no goals. A top in the NHL.
New York Islanders
Alexander Romanov progress. Especially defensively. He blocked 28 shots (4e in the NHL) and allowed no goals in 23 shorthanded minutes.
New York Rangers
Employed profusely on special teams, the center Vincent Trocheck also takes advantage of the presence of Artemi Panarin on his line to improve his personal record: nine points in as many games.
Expectations for Alex DeBrincat were high. Those towards Claude Giroux ? A little less. After eight games, both have equal goals (2). Giroux also has a +7 differential for even-strength scoring chances.
Tony DeAngelo is detestable, but on the ice, he is an elite player. Among all the players transferred last summer, he is the one who plays the most (24 minutes per game).
It’s true, Jeff Petry looked bad the night of his reunion in Montreal. But he gives the Penguins big minutes (21 per game), and his differential remains in positive territory (+ 3).
San Jose Sharks
Nico Sturm is coming off a career-best month, with five goals – all at even strength. Only Cole Caufield has done better in numerical parity in the entire NHL.
Andre Burakovsky was hired to boost the power play, and it’s working. He has already scored six extra points.
St. Louis Blues
Nothing for you. Not even black liquorice.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Nick Paulwho has just signed a long-term contract, has already forced the opponent to take six penalties against him.
Toronto Maple Leafs
In the absence of Matt Murray, the goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov exceeded expectations (92% save rate, 5 goals saved).
Fresh from the KHL, Andrei Kuzmenko is already on the first unit in numerical superiority. He had six points in nine games.
Vegas Golden Knights
The acquisition of the Shea Weber contract against Evgenii Dadonov may be harmful in the long run, but for now, it’s a trade that benefits the Golden Knights. They were thus able to stay below the salary cap, which allowed them to retain their best players. Sunday, they were first in the West.
Darcy Kuemper silenced its detractors, with stats (2.47/92%) almost similar to those of last year (2.54/92%).
Sam Win clings. The veteran returned to his seventh team. On his ninth contract. And it is still useful. He has scored three goals and has the team’s best differential (+3). Impressive for a 33-year-old who four years ago spent more time in the American League than in the NHL.
* Statistics were compiled prior to Sunday’s games.