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Isles Acquire Kucherov, Pair Him with McDavid

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The New York Islanders went all in to acquire Nikita Kucherov as a linemate for Connor McDavid.  The Isles will pair the top 2 NHL point producers together to start the 2019-2020 season, with Tomas Hertl expected to play on the left side.  To add another top superstar to a team that has seen their window open as a Stanley Cup contender, New York had to go for it and start gunning for cups.

The trade sent Elias Lindholm, Alexandre Texier, Andre Burakovsky, and two 1st rounders to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Nikita Kucherov and Travis Sanheim.  Moving Lindholm plus everything else after the season he just had was tough, but that was a breakthrough year and there’s no guarantee he will repeat it.  Texier is a great prospect that was hard to part with, but it saved the Isles from having to add Quinn Hughes which was a non-starter for New York.  Burakovsky wasn’t going to be on the Islanders top 12 forward roster and had to move to clear cap space.  The two 1st round picks are both going to be lower picks and were expensive to give up, but considering what came back, became acceptable.

In Kucherov, the Islanders get a superstar who just won the NHL Art Ross Trophy and the Hart.  He’s signed for a very cheap $5.5 million for the next 3 years at which point the Islanders will loyalty sign him for at least another 2 years.  Pairing his 87 SC rating and 94 PA rating with McDavid’s 88 SC rating and 94 PA rating and adding Hertl’s 83 SC and 78 PA is going to be the best line in the league. Adding Sanheim in the deal at the end was what pushed it over the top for NY, as he could play in the top 4 as soon as this year and is only 23.

This is not a one line team either, they did not sell the farm in this deal.  Having Darcy Kuemper in goal (80 OV), Matt Barzal and Brendan Gallagher on the 2nd line, Jason Zucker, Ilya Kovalchuck, Chris Tierney on the third line, and Seth Jones, Keith Yandle, and Brett Pesce on the blueline give this team talent, speed, and depth in all areas.  Add in top prospects like Quinn Hughes, Joel Eriksson Ek, Adrian Kempe, and others, this team is setting up to be a Stanley Cup contender for many years to come.

What’s next for the Islanders?  They are still looking for another scoring winger as well as an offensive defenceman, so moves will still be made.

BOLTS SHOULD BE REBUILDING

After the franchise jettison their 3rd general manager in 4 years, Tampa Bay ownership decided to face reality and bring in someone who knows what the fuck they are doing. Unfortunately that person was unavailable so they once again took whoever wanted the job.

The new guy (remains anonymous) has signaled that the Bolts will be once again looking to compete this upcoming GVFHL season. That is most likely a mistake. This team is thin on depth, picks and prospects. They have multiple players on the final year of their contract including dmen Bfuglien, Vatanen and Daley as well as forward wing Dadonov. The team also announced it was resigning pending UFA Claude Giroux 4 more years. While he still has some gas in the tank, he can run out anytime so his cap hit of $8+ million will be an anchor at some point.

So far the new guy has been pretty quiet, word on the street is he is awaiting UFA to fill some massive holes on D but there is talks that he has been dangling PO Joseph, Logan Brown and Sam Bennett in order to add some veteran talent. Whether those talks go anywhere remains a question mark but one thing is for sure, the bolts should be rebuilding and not pushing all-in, it’s a mistake the franchise will rue for years to come.

2019 UFA Class

Now that the Predators lifted the GVFHL Stanley Cup for the first time, we are slowly approaching unrestricted free agency. While still some weeks to go, there are quite a few interesting names available that could change the landscape of the league. With Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, two of the biggest fishes in league are about to enter the unavoidable rebuild stage after years of chasing the cup as both team will have to release the largest number of high end players (76+OV) to unrestricted free agency. The Penguins have made their decision already and will keep Ryan O’Reilly around with their loyalty extension which means likely saying goodbye to not only Patrice Bergeron but also two defensemen in Pietrangelo and Weber, who would be #1s on most of the teams. Flyers GM Adrian still has the tough loyalty decision ahead of hit but it wont be an easy one considering the likes of Bobrovsky, Doughty, Letang, McDonagh, Kessel and Zuccarello are about to test the market.

So while the East is heading for a heavy power shift, it is looking a little less busy in the Western Conference but never the less, the most impacted team will be the Ducks in Anaheim as a core piece from each position is looking for a big payday. Not only is veteran goalie Pekka Rinne looking for is last big deal at the age of 37, electrifying defenseman P.K.Subban is looking for another deal paying him at least the $9m he got on his last contract. Up front two thirds of the first line are without a contract as Matt Duchesne and Blake Wheeler may play else where next season. GM Mourice can only re-sign one of the 4 before the others hit the open market, it will be interesting to see where his priorities are.

Best of class

Goalies
1. Robin Lehner, 28y, 83ov
2. Pekka Rinne, 37y, 80ov
3. Mark-Andre Fleury, 35y, 79ov
4. Jaroslav Halakm 34y, 79ov
5. Devon Dubnyk, 33y, 79ov

Defensemen
1. Kris Letang (PHI), 32y, 85ov
2. Mark Giordano (CGY), 36y, 84ov
3. Erik Karlsson (OTT), 29y, 80ov
4. Roman Josi (WPG), 29y, 80ov
5. Shea Weber (PIT), 34y, 79ov

Center
1. Sidney Crosby (CGY), 32y, 84ov
2. Patrice Bergeron (PIT), 34y, 84ov
3. Matt Duchene (ANA), 28y, 77ov
4. Nicklas Backstrom (ANA), 32y, 77ov
5. Ryan Getzlaf (OTT), 34y, 77ov

Winger
1. Alex Ovechkin (STL), 34y, 87ov
2. Vladimir Tarasenko (STL), 28y, 81ov
3. Patrick Kane (LA), 31y, 80ov
4. Taylor Hall (WPG), 28y, 79ov
5. Blake Wheeler (ANA), 33y, 78ov