With a All-Star break come and gone, the NHL to Seattle staff is doing another round of Buy, Sell, or Hold.
Tampa Bay Lightning end the season with over 125 points
Andy: Sell. They would have to stay on their current pace to hit that mark and while they have the talent to do so, as we hit the dog days of the second half, a mini slump seems most likely.
Darren: Sell. I said the opposite recently, but the Bolts right on pace for this number now, and that’s with a nearly perfect December. I think the chances of continuing this pace are just too slim. My mathematical brain has gotten the better of me this time.
Christine: Hold. Not completely impossible, but I’m not confident in their pace being sustainable for the duration of the season.
Cutler: Hold. It’s so difficult to predict how hockey teams will play down the stretch. The Lightning are far and away the best team in hockey, and it’s reasonable to pick them to win the President’s Trophy. However, getting 49+ points out of the next 33 games is a high bar to meet. One injury could potentially derail that. I’m not saying it won’t happen, I’m just saying it’s too hard to call right now.
Emily Jo: Hold. If I were a betting woman, a rule of thumb would be to never bet the over on a team getting 125+ points. While it obviously can happen, it’s just rarely something that occurs without a huge amount of luck–which is what makes Tampa so wild this year. They’ve already undergone the usual things that trigger the cold streaks that normalize a team’s season–a couple key injuries, their starting goaltender out for a while, etc–and yet they’re still on pace for 127 points. So I wouldn’t bet my house on the Lightning getting over 125 points, but I certainly wouldn’t bet much on the under either.
John: Sell. I anticipate that the team will go through a mini slump sometime over the next couple months. It happens; just look at the Washington Capitals right now.
Edmonton Oilers make the Stanley Cup Playoffs
AE: Sell. While they’re only three points out of the last playoff spot there are four teams ahead of them and they’re on a three-game losing skid. Things seem ripe for an implosion with the front office mess. Only will go down from here.
ChK: Sell. Unless a hot streak is forthcoming, it’s not looking good for the Oilers.
CK: Sell. Firing Peter Chiarelli is a great start to fixing the Oilers, but it’s probably too late to save this season. There are just too many good teams in the Western Conference to give Edmonton much of a chance. They certainly could have a good future beyond this year, but they have to hire the right person as general manager to right the ship.
DB: Sell. There’s just too much turm…oil. Get it?
EJ: Buy. Because firing your coach and your terrible GM only to be given false confidence by your interim appointments squeaking into the playoffs, leading the organization to make the same mistakes for the hundredth time over the summer, would be the most Edmonton Oilers thing imaginable. Sorry Connor.
JB: Hold. I want to buy this one, but they just have too many teams to climb over to get into a playoff spot. I just don’t see how they pull it off.
Alex Ovechkin will score 60 goals this season
AE: Sell. Ovi is currently sporting a higher shooting percentage than he’s ever had before, which suggests a regression is coming. I’m going to say he scores 59 and come up short due to the one game he’s suspended for missing the All-Star Game. Should have gone to San Jose.
ChK: Buy. He’s on pace, so if he avoids injury and dry spell it’s certainly doable.
CK: Buy. The Capitals are having a pretty solid season, and Ovechkin is leading the way. They still have so many pieces and will probably be a popular Cup pick this year. As long as Ovechkin is the focal point of this Capitals power play, he’ll hit the 60-goal mark.
DB: Buy. How can you bet against the guy in any way at this point? You know exactly what he’s going to do, and yet you can’t stop him… Goals just come too easily for Ovechkin.
EJ: Sell. As much as I absolutely would love to see 33 year old Alex Ovechkin rack up sixty goals, the numbers just don’t look favorable. Ovi is currently riding a superhot shooting percentage, scoring on roughly 19% of his shots at even strength (which is almost double his career rate of 10%–basically, Ovechkin usually scores on 1 in 10 shots, this year he’s scoring on nearly 1 in 5). While he’s converting at his usual rate on the powerplay, the bigger problem lies in his shot rates, which are lower than his historical rates in all situations. Basically he’s shooting less than normal and getting pretty lucky on those shots which, to my great disappointment, isn’t likely to result in him continuing to score goals at this pace. I’d probably buy on fifty, but right now can’t quite budget for sixty.
JB: Buy. The man is en fuego right now. I think the Caps will get hot and Ovi keeps rolling.
Seattle will name their General Manager before the Edmonton Oilers do
AE: Hold. This could be close. We keep hearing Seattle is looking to hire a GM in June, after the season ends. Edmonton may stick with Keith Gretzky until the same time. The race will be on.
ChK: Ha! As much as I’d like to find out who our GM will be, I’m thinking Edmonton will beat us to the punch. Sell.
CK: Buy. Edmonton probably won’t name a GM until the summer, and Seattle would probably be interested in having a GM in place by then. Vegas hired George McPhee very early in the franchise’s existence, so Seattle would probably want to go the same route.
DB: Sell. – Sell, sell, sell.
EJ: Sell. as proven by everything the Oilers have ever done, patience isn’t a strong suit. They’ll have made a long term decision for better or worse before McDavid finishes up his golfing season.
JB: Hold. The timing of the hiring of these two GM hires should be interesting. Seattle is not in a rush and will more than likely wait until the 18-19 season is done to: a) see who is available and b) target people by requesting permission to speak to currently employed candidates. There is a bit more urgency needed in Edmonton with the trade deadline coming up and, probably more importantly, the NHL Entry Draft. Kelly McCrimmon comes to mind in both cases. Both clubs would need approval from the Golden Knights, which they may not grant until after the NHL Entry Draft. This would put the Oilers in quite the predicament for the draft.
New York Islanders
AE: Buy. Buy with two fists full of cash and believe in Trotz.
ChK: Buy. I think they’ll pick up steam and give Tampa Bay a run for their money.
CK: Hold. Teams go on big runs all the time, and that’s sometimes all it takes to get into the playoffs. I’ll be extremely curious as to how they approach the trade deadline and how they manage some of their young prospects like Josh Ho-Sang moving forward. Give a ton of credit to Barry Trotz and his coaching staff for getting the most out of that roster. He did that a lot in Nashville and he’s done a brilliant job there.
DB: Buy. Love ’em! The Barry Trotz Factor is working to its full potential in Brooklyn/Nassau/wherever the Isles are playing their home games these days. It’s awesome to see what this team can do with a good defensive structure.
EJ: Sell. Depending on what it is your asking. Do I think the Islanders will make the playoffs? Yes. They’ve simply banked enough points that it would take a super-collapse for them to not at least keep a wildcard slot. Do I think the Islanders do much once they get to the playoffs? Absolutely not. The Islanders are way, way better defensively than they were last year (which is to say that Trotz has implemented a basic defensive structure instead of declaring open season on the Islanders’ goalie at each whistle like the team did last year), but in the end probably grade out as an average team. Basically, they’ll make the playoffs this year and when they miss next year it shouldn’t surprise anyone.
JB: Hold. I really want to buy the Islanders right now, but all the advanced analytics is telling me to sell. I think they are fighting above their weight class right now. I really do hope we see them in the playoffs.
Columbus Blue Jackets trade Artemi Panarin and/or Sergei Bobrovsky
AE: Sell. Ride it out with these guys, if they can get Bobrovsky to play nice. Jackets need to win a playoff series and keeping these guys will be the best bet to do so. Try to go on a run and if they walk in the summer then you’ve cleared up $13 million in cap space.
ChK: Buy. They both appear to be set up for departure, so I think the Blue Jackets will make it so.
CK: Buy/Sell. If Artemi Panarin won’t re-sign this offseason, the Jackets have to learn from the Islanders and trade Panarin. They could get a king’s ransom at the trade deadline even for a rental of Panarin. As far as Bobrovsky goes, I highly doubt they move him. Elite goalies are hard to find, and the Jackets would be foolish to let him go. He’s getting up there in age, but he’s nowhere near washed up.
DB: Buy. The latest Artemi Panarin news, indicating that he won’t be signing before the end of the season, seals his fate in Columbus IMO.
EJ: Hold. the Jackets are currently sitting third in the Metro, but are only five points out of first with some games in hand. What happens with Panarin and Bob I believe will completely depend on what happens in the next month. While I think moving one of them is the right choice long term, I don’t envy the GM who has to make a decision on trading arguably his two best players while his team is in the top spot in their division.
JB: Sell. I think they are going to stay put. For whatever reason, I feel Panarin could resign in Columbus. On the Bobrovsky side, I just don’t see one of the contending teams trading for a rental goalie.