The first half of the 2019-20 NHL season is in the books, and not everything went as we expected. There were coaching changes in Toronto, Calgary, Dallas, New Jersey and Nashville, some surprising teams have played their way into playoff contention, and we might have a player who is not Alex Ovechkin lead the league in goals this season. We look ahead to the second half of the season and 25 of the biggest questions to be answered along the way.
1 of 25
Is John Hynes enough to fix the Predators?
Christopher Hanewinckel, USATI
After a disappointing first half, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile did something he almost never does — he made a coaching change. Peter Laviolette is out; John Hynes is in. Hynes is just the third coach in Predators franchise history and now has the task of trying to get things back on the right track in Music City. He has a lot of talent to work with, and the Predators have been an outstanding 5-on-5 team this season even under Laviolette. The problem is the special teams and goaltending have completely abandoned them. If Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros do not play better, the coach may not matter.
2 of 25
Will the Sharks ever get it figured out?
Darren Yamashita, USATI
This is one of the most baffling situations in the NHL this season. The San Jose Sharkswere supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender but have instead been one of the league’s worst teams. The goaltending duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell has, predictably, been a mess for the second year in a row. They have not been good enough as a team this year to mask that, and with Logan Couture now sidelined it is difficult to see the Sharks digging themselves out of this hole. The optimistic might look at the Blues from a year ago as an example pf how quickly things can turn around (bad start, in-season coaching change), but the Sharks do not seem to have a Jordan Binnington card to play like the Blues did.
3 of 25
Will the new-look Maple Leafs break through?
John E. Sokolowski, USATI
After three straight first round exits and an underwhelming start this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs moved on from Mike Babcock and promoted Sheldon Keefe to head coach. The early results have been everything they could have hoped for. They are playing a faster, more aggressive style offensively, they are scoring goals like they should be given their roster and they just look like a better team. They are no longer trying to win every game 2-1 and are finally allowing their stars to play to their strengths. Will that be enough to get over Boston and Tampa Bay in the playoffs? Defense is still a question, but you have to like their chances based on the early results under Keefe.
The only reason the Pittsburgh Penguins kept Jarry as their backup goalie at the start of the season is because he cost them less against the salary cap than Casey DeSmith. He has since taken over the starting job in the short term. The combination of his play (which earned him a trip to the 2020 All-Star Game) and Matt Murray’s struggles has not only made him Pittsburgh’s goalie for now, but he also has probablythe team MVP to this point. Murray has always been seen as the long-term answer and already has two Stanley Cups on his resume, so you cannot count him out, but Jarry has pedigree as well (first goalie taken in his draft class) and has been the better goalie this season.
5 of 25
Will the Oilers get McDavid and Draisaitl some help?
Perry Nelson, USATI
The Oilers have wasted the first part of the careers for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, making the playoffs just one time in four years. Everything the team does has always been dependent on these two carrying the offense, and that has not changed this season. Thanks to a fast start, the Oilers have managed to stay in the playoff hunt but are far from a lock to make the postseason. What they still desperately need is more secondary scoring to take some of the pressure off the big two. If McDavid and Draisaitl don’t score, no one does, and that is no way for a team to contend for a championship.
It was an incredible decade for the NHL that saw a new team enter the league and immediately become a Stanley Cup contender, an old NHL city get a new NHL team and some dramatic shifts to the balance of power in the league thanks to a series of blockbuster trades and free agent signings. We continue our look back at the past decade with the top 25 NHL stories from the 2010s. See which ones make the cut.
1 of 25
The NHL returns to Winnipeg
Terrence Lee, USATI
After two decades without the NHL, Winnipeg finally got its own team again when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated north for the start of the 2011-12 season. Fans flocked to the arena and created one of the most intense home-ice advantages in the league, but the team rarely provided much excitement on the ice. The Jets basically continued to play like the Thrashers, only in a different uniform and in a different city. That finally changed during the 2017-18 season when they won the first postseason game in franchise history (Atlanta or Winnipeg) and reached the Western Conference Final before losing to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in five games.
2 of 25
Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals finally win the Stanley Cup
Geoff Burke, USATI
It was starting to look like it may never happen for Ovechkin and the Capitals. After winning three Presidents’ Trophies and then falling short in the playoffs every time and never being able to get past the second round or the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps finally broke through during the 2017-18 season and exorcised all of their postseason demons. They beat the Penguins, they overcame a 3-2 series deficit in the Eastern Conference Final, for once they were the ones who had the hot goalie, and all of the breaks finally went their way at the right time. Now they have their championship, and no one can ever take it away from them.
3 of 25
Another lockout canceled half a season
Stephen R. Sylvanie, USATI
No sport has struggled with labor peace more than the NHL, and less than a decade after losing an entire season (2004-05) to a work stoppage, the NHL lost another half season in 2012-13 to the third lockout of the Gary Bettman era. The 2012-13 season ended up being a 48-game campaign (similar to the 1994-95 season, also cut short by a lockout) and saw the Chicago Blackhawks win the second of their three Stanley Cups in the salary cap era.
4 of 25
The Vegas Golden Knights become an immediate Stanley Cup contender
Stephen R. Sylvanie, USATI
This is probably one of the most unbelievable stories in the history of the NHL, let alone the past decade. When the NHL expanded to 31 teams for the 2017-18 season, there were a lot of critics who wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights would be a success. On the ice, expectations were understandably low because they were an expansion team. But their immediate success turned Vegas into one of the hottest tickets in the league. The Golden Knights have been a Stanley Cup contender since Day 1 and reached the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, losing in five games to the Washington Capitals.
5 of 25
Sidney Crosby’s head and neck injuries
David Dermer, USATI
The best player of the generation had the majority of his peak years crushed by a concussion and neck injury that limited him to just 99 out of a possible 224 games between the 2010-11 and 2012-13 season. It all started with a two-game sequence in 2010-11 with hits from Dave Steckel and Victor Hedman that cut short what was his best season. Crosby’s career speaks for itself, and he will be remembered as one of the best players to ever play in the NHL, but it still feels like we were robbed of fully seeing him at his absolute best.
6 of 25
John Tavares goes home
John E. Sokolowski, USATI
The biggest free agency saga of the past decade had to be John Tavares, the longtime face of the New York Islanders franchise, leaving the team in the summer of 2018 to join the Toronto Maple Leafs, his hometown club. It gave the Maple Leafs an incredibly talented core and raised the expectations in Toronto to Stanley Cup or bust. Meanwhile, expectations were at an all-time low for the Islanders, but they rebounded under the leadership of new coach Barry Trotz and actually advanced further than the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
7 of 25
Barry Trotz leaves the Capitals to join the Islanders
Stephen R. Sylvanie, USATI
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the Capitals finally breaking through, but it’s big enough of a move that it deserves its own recognition. Trotz became the first coach since Mike Keenan in 1994 to leave a Stanley Cup-winning team the following season. The reason: The Capitals and Trotz could not come to terms on a new contract that would have made him one of the highest-paid coaches in the league. He ended up being hired by the New York Islanders and helped orchestrate one of the most stunning one-year turnarounds in recent league history.
8 of 25
Bruins bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston
Greg M. Cooper, USATI
With their Game 7 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins finally brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time since the 1971-72 season. It was the start of a great run for the Bruins that saw them reach two more Stanley Cup Finals in the next decade. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, and Tuukka Rask were at the center of that run.
9 of 25
The Penguins go back-to-back
Aaron Doster, USATI
It had been nearly two decades since a team won the Stanley Cup in consecutive years when the Penguins accomplished the feat during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. What made their run so stunning is that it came at a time when everyone had started to close their championship window in the Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang era. The Pens needed a coaching change, some major trades and a couple of in-season call-ups in 2015-16 to start their run, but all of it together reopened their window and produced two more Stanley Cups.
10 of 25
Minnesota breaks the bank on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter
Brad Rempel, USATI
On July 4, 2012, the Minnesota Wild made their boldest series of moves ever when they signed the top two free agents on the market — Parise and Suter — to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts. This was during the time period when NHL teams were handing out mega-long-term, front-loaded contracts to reduce the salary cap hits over the term of the deal. How did this work out for Minnesota? Probably not as they expected. The Wild have been a consistent playoff team but have never made it beyond the second round and only twice made it out of the first round in the Parise-Suter era. Both players are now in their mid-30s and still have five years remaining after this season on their deals.
11 of 25
Ilya Kovalchuk leaves for the KHL
Orlando Ramirez, USATI
The New Jersey Devils reached the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Final and were so close to winning another championship thanks in large part to the play of All-Star forwards Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Within two years, everything fell apart for them. Parise left in free agency for Minnesota following the season, and then one year later Kovalchuk, in the middle of a mega-contract with the Devils, abruptly announced his retirement from the NHL and returned to the KHL. He spent more than five seasons playing in the KHL before returning to the NHL before the 2018-19 season, signing a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings.
12 of 25
Blackhawks fire Joel Quenneville
Patrick Gorski, USATI
After winning three Stanley Cups and helping put together one of the most successful teams of the salary cap era, the Blackhawks decided to part ways with Quenneville, one of the most successful coaches in the history of the league, early in the 2018-19 season. It was stunning just because of how successful Quenneville was and how many problems the Blackhawks seemed to have had beyond the coach. Quenneville ended up joining the Florida Panthers the following offseason, while the Blackhawks have continued to take steps backward as their championship window rapidly slams shut.
13 of 25
The Blues go from worst to first
Winslow Townson, USATI
One year after the Capitals finally kicked down the Stanley Cup door, the St. Louis Blues did the same, erasing years of disappointment and misery for their fans. The Blues also made it difficult on themselves, going from the worst record in the Western Conference in early January to the top of the NHL mountain in June. As if that was not crazy enough, the player who helped spark the turnaround was Jordan Binnington, a rookie goalie who started the season as a backup…in the American Hockey League.
14 of 25
The Taylor Hall trade
Ed Mulholland, USATI
On the afternoon of June 29, 2016, there were three major roster transactions across the NHL in a span of 60 minutes that dramatically shook the landscape of the league. The first was the Oilers trading Hall, at the time their best player and one of the best left wingers in the league, to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson. It was a one-for-one trade, and it stunned pretty much everyone outside of the Oilers front office that the return was so little. Hall went on to win the league MVP two years later, while Larsson has been nothing more than a solid but unspectacular second-pairing defender. It was one of the most one-sided trades of the decade.
15 of 25
The P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade
Christopher Hanewinckel, USATI
This was the other massive trade on June 29, 2016. After years of trade rumors and speculation that they might do it, the Canadiens finally traded Subban, one of the most popular players to play for the team in generations, to the Nashville Predators in a one-for-one deal for Shea Weber. It was a curious move because Weber was older, had a worse contract and probably wasn’t as good as Subban at the time. But the Canadiens wanted to shake things up and make a bold move, so they did. Weber is still a good player when healthy, but he has started to break down. Subban, meanwhile, helped lead the Predators to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He was then traded to New Jersey two years later.
16 of 25
Paul Holmgren breaks up the Flyers for Ilya Bryzgalov
Len Redkoles, Getty
The Flyers’ quest to find a franchise goalie took a dramatic turn in the summer of 2011 when general manager Paul Holmgren, never one to shy away from a bold trade, traded his two core players (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter) to retool his team around Bryzgalov, signing the goalie to a massive contract. While the Carter and Richards trades brought a lot of talent to Philadelphia, the Bryzgalov contract was a complete disaster that ended in a buyout two years later. Richards and Carter were also reunited in Los Angeles and helped the Kings win two Stanley Cups. The Flyers have made the playoffs just four times in eight years and made it out of the first round just one time.
17 of 25
The Shea Weber offer sheet
John Russell, Getty
Everybody loves to talk about the potential a restricted free agent offer sheet every offseason, but they almost never happen. And when they do, they almost always get matched. The most intriguing offer sheet of the past decade came in 2012 when the Flyers signed restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber to a 14-year, $100 million offer sheet. It was just one year after the Flyers overhauled their team for Bryzgalov and was another insanely bold move. The Predators, having already lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild in free agency, had no choice but to match the offer. It produced a ton of “what if” scenarios. What would the Predators have done with the draft pick compensation? How would the Flyers build around that contract? Would it inspire other offer sheets in the future?
18 of 25
The Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons
Rick Osentoski, USATI
Between the 1990-91 and 2015-16 seasons the Detroit Red Wings were a mainstay in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, qualifying in each of the 25 years and being one of the most stable, consistent and successful franchises in all of professional sports. They reached the Stanley Cup Final six times, won it four times and were always in contention. That run finally came to an end during the 2016-17 season and has started a new streak: missing the playoffs. Barring a miracle turnaround, the Red Wings are on track to miss for the fourth consecutive season and given the makeup of their roster, there does not seem to be much hope of this new streak coming to an end anytime soon.
19 of 25
The great tank battle of 2014-15
Timothy T. Ludwig, USATI
At the start of the 2014-15 season, everyone in the NHL knew there were two elite prospects at the top of the 2015 draft: Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. This was also a time when the team with the worst record in the league was guaranteed one of the top two picks in the draft, which meant at least one of these two potential franchise players. The Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes were in a year-long race to the basement that actually saw Sabres fans enthusiastically cheering for the Coyotes in a late-season game. The Sabres ended up finishing with the league’s worst record but lost the draft lottery. They picked second and ended up with Eichel. Arizona, meanwhile, was the biggest loser; they picked third and selected Dylan Strome. The Edmonton Oilers moved ahead of both teams and won the right to pick McDavid. The NHL ended up changing the draft lottery rules a few years later.
20 of 25
The Oilers win four draft lotteries in six years — including Connor McDavid
Perry Nelson, USATI
On the ice the Oilers have been the least successful team in the NHL over the past decade, and their only consistent success has been getting some great luck in the draft lottery. They won the top pick in 2010, 2011, 2012 and then again in 2015. Those picks turned out to be Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid. The latter was the big one and it infuriated fans — and teams — across the league because of the way the Oilers squandered their previous draft lottery successes. Edmonton being gifted the best draft prospect since Sidney Crosby seemed to be laughably unfair. And just as they did with the previous picks, the Oilers have failed to build a consistently competitive team around him.
21 of 25
The Department of Player Safety
Tom Szczerbowski, USATI
The NHL had a major head shot problem. Marc Savard’s career was ended by a brutal hit from Matt Cooke. David Booth’s career was derailed by a similar hit from Mike Richards. There was nothing the league could do about them because they were, at the time, legal hockey plays. The addition of Rule 48, focusing on hits to the head, as well as the creation of the Department of Player Safety (led by Brendan Shanahan) at the beginning of the 2011-12 season was supposed to help put a stop to such plays. Suspensions rapidly increased and, eventually, targeted hits to the head started to decline. It is not a perfect system and there are flaws with consistency and enforcement, but things are dramatically better than they used to be.
22 of 25
Raffi Torres checks his way out of the league
Rocky W. Widner, Getty Images
Torres was one of the most notorious headhunters in the league and was the recipient of some massive suspensions for his constant reckless play. He was given a 25-game ban for an egregious hit on Marian Hossa in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, was banned for an entire series one year later and then in 2015 earned his most significant suspension when he was given a 41- game ban for a preseason hit on Jakob Silfverberg. He never played another game in the NHL.
23 of 25
John Scott: NHL All-Star
Aaron Doster, USATI
The NHL has tried everything to make the All-Star game exciting: fantasy drafts, North America vs. The World, and the current 3-on-3 mini-tournament. The latter seems to be the most successful attempt, and it hit its peak during the 2015-16 season when longtime enforcer John Scott was voted into the game by fans. The league tried to talk him out of playing (which did not go over well). He not only played, but he also ended up stealing the show and recording a hat trick in the game.
24 of 25
The Olympic debate
Pool Photo, USATI
Starting with the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan, the NHL had been sending its best players to the Winter Olympics every four years, producing an incredible best vs. best tournament. That run ended during the 2018 games, and it remains unclear when, or if, the NHL players will ever go back. The NHL seems determined to make the World Cup of Hockey work and serve as a replacement for the Olympics, but neither the players nor fans seem to share that same level of excitement.
25 of 25
Columbus stuns Tampa Bay
Aaron Doster, USATI
This was probably the biggest NHL upset of the decade. The 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning tied an NHL record with 62 wins, had the league MVP and scoring champion, a Vezina Trophy winner in goal, a Norris Trophy winner on defense and a Jack Adams-caliber coach behind the bench. It was supposed to be their year to win it all. They not only did not do that, but they also did not win a single playoff game, getting swept in Round 1 by a No. 8 seed Columbus Blue Jackets team. It was the Blue Jackets’ first-ever postseason series win, and it came after a bold decision at the trade deadline to go all in. Instead of trading pending free agents Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets instead added more in Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. It gave the city a taste of success but quickly fizzled in Round 2 and over the summer when all of the free agents departed.
Even though the NHL trade deadline is still two months away, it is not too early to start looking at the players who could be on the move. We already saw one of the biggest names make headlines this month when the New Jersey Devils traded Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. Here we look at 20 more players who could be wearing different jerseys this season. Rebuilding teams like the Devils, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators are all well represented. 1 of 20
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators
For the second year in a row, the Senators should be one of the busiest teams at the trade deadline. They are still in the middle of their rebuild, and they have several veterans playing on expiring contracts. Pageau figures to be the most marketable on the trade market given his defensive play and the fact he is having a career year offensively. Just about every Stanley Cup contender in the league could find a spot for him.
2 of 20
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
This seems like a pretty obvious trade waiting to happen. Kreider is slowing down, he is not the player he was a few years ago, he is a free agent after this season and the Rangers are still looking more toward the future than the present. They should easily be able to get a first-round pick and a prospect (think similar package to the Taylor Hall trade for New Jersey) if — or more likely when — they decide to trade him. 3 of 20
Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are going nowhere again this season and need to rebuild their organization. It has been long overdue and the longer they keep putting it off, the worse off the team will be. One player who figures to be on the trade block is Toffoli, a veteran winger in the final year of his contract who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. He is not going to be a game-changer for a team, but he could be a strong secondary scoring option for a contender.
4 of 20
Alex Galchenyuk, Pittsburgh Penguins
This situation is simply not working out. The Penguins acquired Galchenyuk in the Phil Kessel trade over the summer, and he has been a complete non-factor, more often than not being relegated to fourth-line duty. When the Penguins start getting key injured players back in the lineup, Galchenyuk figures to be the odd man out. He is in the final year of his contract, and general manager Jim Rutherford is quick to move on from acquisitions that turn out to be mistakes. This one has been a mistake. 5 of 20
Lias Andersson, New York Rangers
It was just three years ago that the Rangers made Andersson the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, and it already seems like it’s not going to work out. After struggling to carve out a niche for himself in the Rangers lineup, Andersson has requested a trade out of New York. The Rangers acquired him with the draft pick they got in the trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes. Even though he was considered a bit of an overdraft at the time, some team will no doubt see a low-risk, potentially high-reward gamble here with the hopes of grabbing lightning in a bottle.
6 of 20
Ron Hainsey, Ottawa Senators
Hainsey is the exact type of veteran who gets traded every deadline for a mid-round draft pick. But he’s a veteran with playoff experience who is viewed as a solid leader and responsible player whom coaches can trust. Does it matter if the player is actually going to make a positive impact on the ice? Not at all! Some playoff team is going to add Hainsey for a fourth-rounder in January or February and play him 17 minutes a night on its third pairing through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
7 of 20
Tyler Ennis, Ottawa Senators
Ennis has done exactly what the Senators needed him to do: played well enough and produced enough offense to build up some trade value so they can add another pick or prospect. He does not have a future as part of the Senators rebuild and with his contract up this summer, a trade seems like an easy decision.
8 of 20
Wayne Simmonds, New Jersey Devils
Simmonds was part of New Jersey’s big offseason that was supposed to bring the Devils back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It has not worked out that way. With the Devils stuck near the bottom of the NHL standings and Taylor Hall already traded, you know more moves are probably on the way. Simmonds is at the end of his career and a free agent after this season. He may not want to be a rental player for another team, as he was a year ago, but with no trade protections in his contract he may not have much of a choice.
9 of 20
Zach Bogosian, Buffalo Sabres
His value will not be high, but he has reportedly requested a trade out of Buffalo. The Sabres already have a logjam on defense and are going to need to trade someone at some point. Injuries have severely impacted his career the past few seasons
10 of 20
Colin Miller, Buffalo Sabres
If the Sabres wanted to deal from their defensive depth to help fill a hole at forward and get an actual return, Miller might be the player on the move. After a really strong run with the Vegas Golden Knights, he has not really fit in with the Sabres or fully gained the trust of their coaching staff. A fresh start somewhere else could do him well. 11 of 20
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are on track for a historically bad season, and general manager Steve Yzerman has a ton of work to do in trying to fix this mess. He has a few veterans he can dangle at the trade deadline, and the 34-year-old Green is a potential option. He has not been particularly good, and he has a no-movement clause, but you have to think he would welcome an opportunity to play for a contender one more time in his career. 12 of 20
Robin Lehner, Chicago Blackhawks
Lehner has been one of the few bright spots for an otherwise dismal Blackhawks team. They are headed for a third consecutive non-playoff season and with Lehner a free agent after this season, he would figure to be an attractive trade chip. He could also be a game-changer for a team in need of a goalie upgrade (looking at you, San Jose Sharks).
13 of 20
Sami Vatanen, New Jersey Devils
This is another veteran player with an expiring contract whom the Devils could look to move. His name had surfaced in trade speculation more than a year ago, and with the Devils out of the playoff race, that figures to happen again over the next few months. He plays a lot of big minutes for the Devils, but he is probably best suited as a middle-pairing (or even third-pairing) defender on a contender. He will bring some offense, but he is not really a shutdown defender or possession driver.
14 of 20
Erik Gustafsson, Chicago Blackhawks
He is not going to repeat the huge offensive season he had a year ago and he turns 28 later this season, so he is no longer a young, up-and-coming player. Do the Blackhawks see him as a part of their future? If not he could easily be on the move given his dirt cheap contract and the fact he can bring some offensive help from the blue line.
15 of 20
Nick Bjugstad, Pittsburgh Penguins
He has been injured for most of the season, but he has a fairly big contract for what he provides to a team that is consistently pressed against the salary cap. The Penguins have some key restricted free agents to re-sign this summer, and they would still no doubt like to add to their NHL roster this season, as they start to emerge as a Stanley Cup contender. Trading Bjugstad’s contract for anything they can get would be a good way to create salary cap space to start that process.
16 of 20
Mike Hoffman, Florida Panthers
Technically speaking the Panthers are still very much in the playoff hunt, so they may not be ready to sell just yet. But the overall mediocrity of the Atlantic Division is the only thing really keeping them in it at this point, and if Tampa Bay and Toronto ever get their acts together the Panthers could quickly slide down the standings. Hoffman is an unrestricted free agent after this season and while he has his flaws as a player — his play away from the puck — he can still fill the back of the net and add some offensive punch to a team’s lineup.
17 of 20
Evgenii Dadonov, Florida Panthers
Another veteran on an expiring contract in Florida, Dadonov has been an incredible find for the Panthers and one of their top players since returning to the NHL from Russia. But if the Panthers slide out of the race, he would figure to be an attractive target on the open market. He offers the same sort of offensive production as Hoffman does, but he is a better all-around player.
18 of 20
Mikael Granlund, Nashville Predators
Granlund was supposed to be one of the pieces to put the Predators over the top a year ago in their quest to win a Stanley Cup, but he has underwhelmed during his entire tenure with the the team. With Nashville off to a slow start and currently out of the playoff picture, his contract status (unrestricted free agent after this season) could make him a trade candidate if the Predators are unable to get back into playoff position.
19 of 20
Kyle Turris, Nashville Predators
This seemed far more likely earlier in the season when Turris could not crack the Predators’ lineup, but this is a relationship that hasn’t really worked out. The Predators also have a ton of money invested in Turris over the next few years, and that is going to be a contract they are going to want to get out of at some point.
20 of 20
Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators
This is a real long shot because of how well he has played this season, but it also might be a sell-high situation for the Senators. Duclair is in the middle of a career year and will be due a pretty big pay raise this summer as a restricted free agent. A lot of teams gave up on Duclair too soon, and the Senators have benefited from it in the short term. Their confidence in his ability to maintain it might determine whether they want to sign him long-term or trade him. Ideally, the Senators keep him. But you can never tell what this team might do in a rebuild.
From 18-year-old Jack Hughes with the New Jersey Devils, to 42-year-old Zdeno Chara with the Boston Bruins, and every age in between, we take a look at the best current NHL players at every age. Some names you probably expect, while others may surprise you. See who made the list. We have them all here! 1 of 24
Age 18: Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils
Hughes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, is one of four 18-year-olds to play in the NHL this season. He had a slow start to his career, being held without a point in each of his first six games, but he has shown improvement as the season has gone on. The offensive numbers aren’t great (as should be expected for an 18-year-old) but he has posted strong possession numbers and is looking more and more confident with every game.
2 of 24
Age 19: Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes
Svechnikov is blossoming into a superstar for the Hurricanes. He leads the team in goals and total points, and after scoring 20 goals as an 18-year-old is on pace for 35 goals as a 19-year-old. If he is able to maintain that pace, he would be just the fifth different player since 2005-06 to score 35 goals before their age 20 seasons. That list includes only Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. 3 of 24
Age 20: Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars
Heiskanen was snubbed in the Calder Trophy race a year ago by not even being voted as a finalist. But with the way his career is progressing into Year 2, he might have Norris Trophies waiting for him in his future. He and John Klingberg are going to run the Stars defense for the foreseeable future and be as good as almost any other one-two blue line duo in the league.
4 of 24
Age 21: Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
This is the age where choosing the top player starts to get difficult. Cale Makar was an option here, as were Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois. But Pettersson gets the call for the impact he has made in Vancouver. The 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, Pettersson has been a franchise-changing player for the Canucks and has helped speed up their rebuild by giving them a game-breaking talent up front. He has a chance to be an elite goal-scorer, is a tremendous playmaker and a one-man highlight reel every shift. 5 of 24
Age 22: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid does turn 23 in the middle of January, so he barely makes the cut for this age. McDavid is the single most dominant offensive player in the league and is going to be the odds on favorite to win the scoring title every season as long as he stays reasonably healthy. He and Leon Draisaitl are the two driving forces behind the Oilers offense, and they are the two players carrying the team. The Oilers’ improved record in the standings will help him win the MVP Award he should have won the past couple of years. 6 of 24
Age 23: David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
He might finally be the player to take the goal-scoring crown away from Alex Ovechkin. After scoring 38 goals in only 66 games a year ago, Pastrnak has come back this season with 25 goals in his first 31 games and has become one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. His contract ($6.6 million salary cap hit) is going to turn out to be one of the biggest steals in the NHL.
7 of 24
Age 24: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
The No. 1 overall pick in 2013, it took MacKinnon a few years to become a superstar but now that he has, he looks completely unstoppable. After scoring 97 and 99 points the past two years, respectively, MacKinnon is on track for even more production this season and drives the best line in the league (alongside Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog) for a young team that is on the verge of greatness. 8 of 24
Age 25: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
He has not played up to his normal standard in the first part of the 2019-20 season, but that does not take away from everything he has already accomplished in his career. He won the 2019 Vezina Trophy (league’s best goalie), was a finalist the year before and has been one of the league’s top goalies since he became the No. 1 starter in Tampa Bay.
9 of 24
Age 26: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Over the past four years he has been the second-best offensive player in the league behind only Connor McDavid. His 128 points during the 2018-19 season (when he was league MVP and scoring champion) was the highest single season output in nearly two decades and helped the Lightning tie an NHL record with 62 regular-season wins. The only thing his career is missing at this point is a Stanley Cup.
10 of 24
Age 27: Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
He literally just turned 27, and he gets the edge over players like Mark Stone, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Gabriel Landeskog. Couturier is one of the league’s best shutdown centers who also possesses the ability to score 35 goals and 70 points. Put those two things together, and you have one of the best all-around centers in the league at any age.
11 of 24
Age 28: Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
From the moment Panarin arrived in the NHL, he has been one of the league’s best offensive players. The Rangers signed him as a free agent this past summer to a massive contract, and it might be one of the rare free agent contracts that actually works out as planned. He is good enough to help a rebuilding team stay in playoff contention this season and young enough to still be a part of a contending team in New York in the future.
12 of 24
Age 29: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
It seems crazy to say, but Stamkos might be one of the most underrated players of his era. His production stacks up with the elites (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin), and he could have been even better at this point had he not missed so many games during his prime years to injury and a lockout. He is still one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the league.
13 of 24
Age 30: John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Carlson, who turns 30 in January, has finished in the top five in the Norris Trophy voting in each of the past two seasons, and this might be the year he actually wins it. Midway through December he is still on pace for more than 100 points, something no defenseman has done since the 1991-92 season. He is one of the driving forces behind the Capitals’ great start that has them on track for what could be their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in the past decade.
14 of 24
Age 31: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
You hate him when he does not play for your team, but you wish he did play for your team. Marchand is one of the league’s best all-around players, combining elite offensive production, great defensive play and a knack for being the most annoying player in the league to play against. He tends to take the latter part way too far, far too often, especially when you consider how good of a player he actually is. He should not need to resort to such sideshow acts to make an impact.
15 of 24
Age 32: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
His offensive numbers may not be what they were earlier in his career, but he is still an elite scorer and a fierce two-way player. He has already put together a top-10 career in the history of the league and by the time he finishes, he may be in the top five when you put together his individual accomplishments and team success. He might still have another Stanley Cup ahead of him in his career.
16 of 24
Age 33: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Malkin had a down year during the 2018-19 season and was determined to come back this season and show that he is still one of the league’s elite players. He has done that and more, as he has helped the Penguins overcome some significant injury issues early in the 2019-20 season to play like a Stanley Cup contending team. His 1.37 points per game average through his first 20 games would be the third-highest mark of his career. He is also closing in on the 400-goal mark for his career.
17 of 24
Age 34: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
He simply does not slow down. Even at age 34 he is on track for yet another 50-goal season and is still within striking distance of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record. When you consider the era he has played in, it is almost impossible to argue he is not the greatest goal scorer of all time. The only players to ever score 50 goals in a season age 33 or older are Ovechkin, Jaromir Jagr, Bobby Hull and John Bucyk. Buyck is at this point the only one to score 50 goals at age 34 or older. Ovechkin, on his current pace this season, will join him and probably over the next few seasons as well. 18 of 24
Age 35: Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
Fleury continues to climb the NHL’s all-time wins list and will have a chance to finish his career in the top three by the time he retires. He is still as durable and athletic as ever in the crease, but it still might be in the Golden Knights’ best interest to limit his workload a little bit, as they cannot keep relying on a 35-year-old goalie to play more than 60 games in a season and still be fresh for the playoffs. His best playoff performances during his career have come during seasons in which he has played fewer regular-season games.
19 of 24
Age 36: Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Giordano remains one of the NHL’s all-time greatest undrafted success stories, and his career hit iys peak a year ago with his first-ever Norris Trophy win. He has not been quite as dominant this season (he is 36; it should be expected that at some point he slows down), but he is still an outstanding No. 1 defenseman for the Flames.
20 of 24
Age 37: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
It is starting to look as if he will never get that Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Rangers, but he has still put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career and been the best, most consistent goalie of his era. He is also still playing at a level that might keep the rebuilding Rangers in contention for a playoff spot and maybe another run for him.
21 of 24
Age 38: Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators
Anderson has put together an outstanding career for himself, playing 17 years in the NHL and appearing in more than 630 games for four different teams (Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers). He has performed at a really high level throughout most of those seasons and at times been one of the most productive goalies in the league. He is one of the few bright spots on a rebuilding Senators team that does not give its goalies much help on a nightly basis. He is one of only two 38-year-olds in the NHL this season. The other is his teammate veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey.
22 of 24
Age 39: Ryan Miller, Anaheim Ducks
Miller is the only 39-year-old in the league this season, so he gets this one by default. But that should not take away from the reality that he is still a pretty good goalie and helps form one of the best goaltending duos in the league alongside John Gibson. They have to be nearly flawless in net for the Ducks to have a chance to win on most nights, but they do their best to keep the team competitive. It will be interesting to see if he gets moved to a contender in need of some goaltending help before the trade deadline later this season. 23 of 24
Age 40: Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Thornton and longtime teammate Patrick Marleau are the two 40-year-olds in the league this season, and they are on the same roster once again after the Sharks re-signed Marleau as a free agent earlier this season. Marleau has the higher goal total so far, but Thornton is the better all-around player and still has the vision and playmaking to make players around him better. He is one of the best passers who has ever stepped on an NHL ice surface. 24 of 24
Age 42: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Chara is the oldest player in the NHL and is still finding ways to be productive for the Bruins. He is not the dominant player he was during his peak years in the league when he was a constant Norris Trophy contender, but he is still able to play 22 minutes per night for a Stanley Cup contender (a Stanley Cup Finalist a year ago and one of the league’s best teams this season) and make an impact. He already has five goals through his first 31 games and can still make noise defensively.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs’ firing of Mike Babcock, we have already seen one of the bigger coaching changes in the NHL this season. Babcock was the highest-paid coach in the league, the biggest name behind a bench and the person who was supposed to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Toronto. It did not work out, it had not been working for a while, and the change seemed inevitable after another postseason disappointment and the slow start to this season. It will not be the only major change made by a team this season. Here we take a look at some NHL players, coaches and GMs who are also on the hot seat.
Note: This list does not include Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters, who is currently embroiled in a controversy that seems likely to cost him his job. 1 of 19
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning (head coach)
Overall, Cooper’s tenure in Tampa Bay has been successful. The Lightning have been one of the winningest teams in the regular season, they have had deep playoff runs (Stanley Cup Final, two other Eastern Conference Final appearances) and won a Presidents’ Trophy with a record-tying 62 wins, all within the past five years. But their inability to close out playoff series and then getting swept in Round 1 a year ago in one of the most stunning upsets in Stanley Cup Playoff history, plus a slow start this season has no doubt put Cooper on his hottest seat yet. A coaching change is the one significant card this ultra-talented team has to play.
2 of 19
Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks (general manager)
All eyes are on Bowman in Chicago. The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs two years in a row, they fired their future Hall of Fame and three-time Stanley Cup-winning head coach (Joel Quenneville) and attempted to retool around their core this summer by adding several players to the defense. So far not much of it has worked. A third consecutive non-playoff season should put even more pressure on Bowman than he is already facing. 3 of 19
John Hynes, New Jersey Devils (Head coach)
This is Hynes’ fifth season behind the Devils bench, and to date he has made the playoffs one time. Given all of the talent the Devils added over the summer, expectations were significantly higher this season and the team has — to this point — failed to deliver on them. The most disappointing part of their season is the fact they have lost four games in which they held multiple-goal leads.
4 of 19
Bruce Boudreau, Minnesota Wild (head coach)
This just seems to be a matter of when, and not if. You know at some point that first-year general manager Bill Guerin is going to want to bring in his own coach, and with the Wild stuck near the bottom of the NHL standings, it is worth wondering if the team will look to make a change in season. Boudreau is an excellent coach, but he does not have much to work with in Minnesota, and it might just be time for all parties involved to get a fresh start elsewhere. 5 of 19
Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings (head coach)
Who would have ever guessed that Blashill would last longer in Detroit than Mike Babcock did in Toronto? That is exactly what has happened, though, as Blashill remains behind the bench for the Red Wings. But how much longer will he be there? It is impossible to put the team’s struggles on him given the state of the roster, but this is going to be a fourth consecutive non-playoff season for him, the team has one of the worst records in the league and new general manager Steve Yzerman is going to eventually want his own coach. 6 of 19
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (goalie)
The Sharks one Achilles’ heel remains in net where the duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell is again among the league’s worst. This is a Stanley Cup-caliber team if it can get some saves. Jones and Dell have not yet shown an ability to do that on a consistent basis.
7 of 19
Ilya Kovalchuk, Los Angeles Kings (forward)
Considering the fact the Kings have pretty much already relegated him to a permanent healthy scratch, it seems that “hot seat” might be underselling his current status with the team. Following a six-year stop in the KHL, the Kings brought Kovalchuk back to the NHL at the start of the 2018-19 season by signing him to a three-year, $18 million contract. It has proved to be a rather poor fit from the beginning. He never gained the trust of the previous coaching staff and does not really fit in the Kings’ current long-term plans as they look to rebuild. The only question that remains now is what team he finishes the season with because it will almost certainly not be the Kings.
8 of 19
Kyle Turris, Nashville Predators (forward)
A few years ago he was general manager David Poile’s big in-season acquisition and was supposed to be one of the final pieces of a Stanley Cup puzzle. The Predators immediately signed him to a long-term contract extension and made him a central part of their team. The results have not been what anyone involved expected, and now Turris has found himself as a healthy scratch on occasion this season while his production continues to decline. The Predators are paying him $6 million per year and not getting much of a return at the moment.
9 of 19
Alex Galchenyuk, Pittsburgh Penguins (Forward)
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is quick to move on from mistakes, and if Galchenyuk does not start producing more offense he might find himself as the latest example. Acquired in the offseason trade that sent Phil Kessel to Arizona, Galchenyuk went 14 games to begin the 2019-20 season before finally scoring a goal and really has not provided any of the offense the Penguins were hoping to get from him. With his contract up at the end of this season, it would not take much for the Penguins to move on with a trade.
10 of 19
Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers (Goalie)
When the Panthers signed Bobrovsky to a seven-year, $70 million contract in free agency, it was generally accepted that it was going to be a significant long-term risk. He might still be really good for a few years and help get the Panthers back in the playoffs, but what would his career look like on the back end of that contract? So far the Panthers aren’t even getting the short-term gain that was expected. Bobrovsky is off to one of the worst starts of his career and has not looked anything like the two-time Vezina Trophy winner the Panthers thought they were getting. Given his contract the Panthers don’t really have many options other than hoping he figures it out and gets back on track.
11 of 19
Ray Shero, New Jersey Devils (general manager)
The head coach is not the only person on the hot seat in New Jersey. Shero went all in this offseason on trying to fix his roster, but he made the costly mistake of not fixing the team’s biggest issue: goalie. He also has to deal with the Taylor Hall contract and decide whether he can get him re-signed, and if not, whether he has to trade his best player and a former league MVP. 12 of 19
Jason Botterill, Buffalo Sabres (general manager)
Botterill hasn’t had a lot of time to fully build a team in Buffalo, but ownership is desperate for a competitive team. The Sabres have already made another coaching change, tweaked the roster and have enough core building blocks in place that some meaningful progress should be made. They had a great start to the 2018-19 season before falling apart in the second half and are in danger of going in a similar direction this season. That will not be good news for the general manager.
13 of 19
Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators (Head coach)
Laviolette is an outstanding coach and if the Predators ever decided to go in a different direction, he would not have to wait long for his next head coaching job. But every coach has a shelf life, and with the Predators off to a disappointing start — after taking a step back a year ago — it is fair to wonder if Laviollete and Nashville have reached their ceilings together. This seems like a classic “we need a change to shake things up” situation.
14 of 19
The Dallas Stars top line
The duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are not really in danger of going anywhere, but the pressure is on them to perform because for the second year in a row they have found themselves the target of internal criticism for their play. A year ago it came from CEO Jim Lites (in a rather profane manner), and this year it is from head coach Jim Montgomery (before he later apologized). In both cases the criticism was probably a little unfair, but those are the stakes when you are the highest-paid and most visible players on the team. 15 of 19
Travis Green, Vancouver Canucks (head coach)
Green hasn’t done a bad job in Vancouver, and he hasn’t always had a great team to work with, but it all comes down to results. Ask yourself this question: How many head coaches get three years in a row without making the playoffs before being replaced? That is what Green would be looking at this season if the Canucks do not qualify in the Western Conference. It would probably take a huge meltdown for an in-season change to happen, but if they end up missing again, an offseason change could be on the horizon.
16 of 19
Peter DeBoer, San Jose Sharks (Head coach)
The Sharks under DeBoer have been remarkably consistent, winning 45, 46, 45 and 46 games in his first full seasons behind the bench. That includes a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, another run to the Western Conference Final and six postseason series wins. He has taken two different teams to the Stanley Cup Final (New Jersey being the other) and has a strong track record. But the Sharks expect championship-level play, and so far this season they have not delivered on that. A coaching change might be a knee-jerk reaction, and I don’t think it is likely, but if the Sharks keep hovering around the .500 mark with this roster it might became a bigger discussion.
17 of 19
Milan Lucic, Calgary Flames (Forward)
The options here are limited because Lucic’s contract is essentially buyout proof given how it is made up almost entirely of signing bonuses. Trading him would only get the Flames another undesirable contract in return. But you kind of have to put him on the hot seat given that he started with zero goals and four assists in his first 24 games, while the guy he was traded for (James Neal) scored 14 goals in his first 26 games for the Flames’ biggest rival (Edmonton).
18 of 19
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks (Defenseman)
It was probably overdue, but Seabrook found himself as a healthy scratch earlier this season and was not particularly happy about it. He still thinks he can contribute, but the Blackhawks at some point need to start thinking about the future and their long-term outlook. Seabrook was a major contributor to three Stanley Cup-winning teams and a mini-dynasty in Chicago, but it is not unfair to say his best days as an NHL defender are in the rearview mirror. At some point you have to begin a new chapter.
19 of 19
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (general manager)
He is not really in danger of being fired because the Maple Leafs are clearly committed to him and his direction. But make no mistake: With Mike Babcock out of the mix, this is now Dubas’ team in every way. His vision, his roster, his coach. I think it can work (and most likely will work), but if it does not there is only one other place to point the finger.
It is hockey’s most valuable skill and the one that is most difficult to consistently do well — goal scoring. Some players are great at it because they have a great shot, a lightning quick release or just have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Every team needs a great goal scorer to win, and here we take a look at the best pure goal scorer on every team in the NHL. Some you know well, but others may not get the recognition they fully deserve.
1 of 31
Anaheim Ducks: Rickard Rakell
With Corey Perry now playing in Dallas, and Ryan Getzlaf getting older, the Ducks’ best goal scorer is the 26-year-old Rakell. His production slumped a bit this past season, but before that he scored 97 goals in the three previous seasons, including a pair of seasons with at least 33 goals. He does not get a lot of attention around the league, mainly because the team around him has not been great, but he is an outstanding player. 2 of 31
Arizona Coyotes: Phil Kessel
The Coyotes have not had a player like Kessel in more than a decade. He may be getting older and have his share of flaws away from the puck, but he can also still be one of the NHL’s best offensive player. Arizona needed an impact player who could be the focal point of the offense, and he provides exactly that.
3 of 31
Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak
The Bruins have the NHL’s best line with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. Bergeron and Marchand are the superstars, and Pastrnak is set to join them. He has topped the 30-goal mark in three straight seasons and had he not missed nearly 20 games due to injury a year ago, he would have been a near lock for 40 goals. If you wanted a sleeper pick for the NHL’s goal scoring crown this year, he would be a good choice given his talent and the quality of the players around him. 4 of 31
Buffalo Sabres: Jeff Skinner
After being a top goal scorer without the luxury of playing next to a legitimate No. 1 center in Carolina, Skinner arrived in Buffalo at the start of the 2018-19 season and found an instant chemistry alongside Jack Eichel. Playing next to one of the league’s best young players helped him produce his first-ever 40-goal season and landed him a huge long-term contract to stay in Buffalo. He may not score 40 every year, but with combination of his quick shot and Eichel’s playmaking, he should always have a chance to do it. 5 of 31
Calgary Flames: Matthew Tkachuk
Just three years into his career, and Tkachuk is already an impact player in every possible way. He scores goals, he makes plays, he agitates opponents and he plays on the edge of the line. He is basically the Western Conference version of Brad Marchand. He is going to be a 35-40 goal winger for a long time.
Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho
In just a couple of years the answer to this question will be Andrei Svechnikov, but for now Aho still gets the edge because he has done it consistently over three years in the league. He may not be a challenger for the league lead, but he is going to score 25-30 goals every year throughout his prime. Add in his playmaking and two-way game, and you have a great franchise player. 7 of 31
Chicago Blackhawks: Alex DeBrincat
Is it a bold call to choose DeBrincat over, say, Patrick Kane? Probably, and maybe Blackhawks fans disagree, but DeBrincat is just now entering his third year in the league and already has 70 goals in 168 games, including a 41-goal performance in his second year. He is going to be the foundation of the next chapter in the Blackhawks franchisee. He is also one of the latest examples that teams should not be afraid to take smaller, undersized players. Talent wins. 8 of 31
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon
After bursting onto the scene as an impact rookie at the age of 18, MacKinnon’s career kind of leveled off for a few years. Then he blossomed into a mega star and one of the league’s best players. He is the cornerstone piece of a team that should be a Stanley Cup contender for the foreseeable future and has scored 80 goals over the past two full seasons.
9 of 31
Columbus Blue Jackets: Cam Atkinson
It is a good bet that Cam Atkinson is a lot better than you realize. One of the most overlooked players in the league, Atkinson has scored 35, 24 (in only 65 games), and 41 goals the past three seasons, respectively. With Artemi Panarin now in New York playing for the Rangers, Atkinson is going to have to be one of the go-to players in the Blue Jackets lineup. 10 of 31
Dallas Stars: Joe Pavelski
Pavelski was the Stars’ big offseason acquisition this summer, as they hoped he could be one of the missing pieces in their lineup. They needed secondary scoring, and Pavelski has been one of the league’s best goal scorers for the past six years. A late bloomer when it comes to being an impact player, Pavelski is coming off a 38-goal season for the Sharks, the fifth 30-goal season of his career.
Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Larkin
One of the league’s fastest players, Larkin finally had a big breakout goal-scoring year during the 2018-19 season and recorded his first 30-goal season. Even though it seems like he has been around forever, he is still only 23 years old and is one of the bright spots on a rebuilding Red Wings team. He figures to be a huge part of their future.
12 of 31
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
He already has a pair of 40-goal seasons on his resume, and it is only a matter of time until he hits 50. Combined with his game-breaking speed and precision passing, he is the most complete offensive player in the sport and seems like a lock to finish near the top in every major offensive category every year as long as he stays healthy. He has already won two scoring titles, and there is almost certainly a goal scoring crown in his future.
13 of 31
Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov
He is one of the league’s best all-around players and is an absolute steal under the salary cap. Along with his great defensive play and superb playmaking, he also has scored at a 30-goal pace the couple of years. He is only 24 years old and might still have his best days ahead of him.
14 of 31
Los Angeles Kings: Ilya Kovalchuk
Maybe this is a testament to how far the Kings have fallen the past few years, but Kovalchuk probably really is the answer. At his peak he was one of the most dominant forwards in the league and was the league’s best goal scorer before Alex Ovechkin arrived. He spent a large chunk of his career playing in the KHL only to return this past season. The Kings coaching staff a year ago never seemed to trust him (or want him), but he should be poised for a bounce back year under Todd McLellan.
15 of 31
Minnesota Wild: Eric Staal
This was a toss-up between Staal and Zach Parise. But with Parise slowing down and Staal being the best goal scorer on the team in recent years, we are going with him. A few years ago Staal looked like his career was about ready to come to an end, but joining the Wild seemed to spark something for him and he has been a completely different player, even hitting the 40-goal mark once.
Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher
Gallagher has really evolved over the years, going from a depth player whose biggest intention seemed to be rattling the cages of his opponents to a legit top-line player who can score 30 goals. He has hit the 30-goal mark in each of the past two seasons and has become one of the Canadiens’ best and most important players.
17 of 31
Nashville Predators: Filip Forsberg
Predators general manager David Poile has assembled his team over the years through a series of major trades. The best of them all was getting Forsberg from the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat. Erat was a flop with the Capitals, while Forsberg has blossomed into one of the league’s best players and an outstanding goal scorer. Since joining the Predators, he has averaged more than 30 goals per 82 games. 18 of 31
New Jersey Devils: Taylor Hall
When healthy, Hall has been everything the Devils wanted him to be when they acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers for Adam Larsson. The big question for the Devils is whether they can convince him to re-sign with the team, especially as they are off to a brutal start of the 2019-20 season. 19 of 31
New York Islanders: Anders Lee
A sixth-round draft pick and at one time an afterthought in the Islanders organization, Lee has transformed into one of the best net-front players in the league and the best goal scorer on the team. With 28 goals a year ago, he showed that his production was not just the result of playing alongside John Tavares and that, yes, he can score on his own and help drive the offense. 20 of 31
New York Rangers: Artemi Panarin
From the moment he arrived in the NHL, Panarin has been one of the league’s most impactful offensive players. He is an outstanding playmaker who makes his linemates better, but he is also an outstanding goal scorer who is going to push the 30-goal mark every year. The Rangers signed him to a massive contract in free agency to be a significant part of their rebuild.
21 of 31
Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk
It is slim pickings on this Senators team for goal scoring talent. About 10 years ago the answer would have easily been Bobby Ryan, but he has not been that player for some time now. Brady Tkachuk is in only his second year in the league but has already shown a goal scoring touch and is one of the few bright spots that this team has to build around long term. 22 of 31
Philadelphia Flyers: James van Riemsdyk
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier are the best players on the Flyers, but none of them has ever been a truly great goal scorer. Their brilliance is in their passing (Giroux, Voracek) and defensive play (Couturier). It is van Riemsdyk who has been one of the more overlooked goal scorers in the league and a truly good one. In his first year back with the Flyers in 2018-19, he scored 27 goals in only 66 games. 23 of 31
Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby
Crosby is known more for his passing and “200-foot game,” but one of the most overlooked parts of his career is that he has two Rocket Richard Trophies on his resume. He makes the wingers around him better goal scorers, yet he is still the best goal scorer on his team — one of the best players ever.
24 of 31
San Jose Sharks: Logan Couture
With Joe Pavelski now in Dallas and Patrick Marleau at the age of 40, the Sharks do not really have a great pure goal scorer on their roster. They have a lot of great all-around players and impact offensive performers but nobody who has really established himself as a great goal scorer every year. The closest is probably Couture, the team’s best forward. In a good year he will challenge the 35 mark but is usually a good bet to score close to 30 for the Sharks. 25 of 31
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko
He is probably the one player on the Blues’ 2018-19 Stanley Cup winning team who has a shot at the Hall of Fame. He is lock to score at least 30 goals every season and can carry the team’s offense on his back when he is at his best. He also proved to be a big-time performer in the playoffs with 33 goals in 70 career postseason games, including 11 during the team’s championship run.
26 of 31
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos
The second best goal scorer of his era, trailing only the great Alex Ovechkin in Washington. Stamkos has five 40-goal seasons on his resume, including a pair of 50-goal campaigns (and one 60-goal season!). The disappointing thing is that his career could look even better had it not been for a run of serious injuries (plus a half-season lockout) between the ages of 23 and 26 that robbed him of a significant portion of his peak years. Even with that, he is still one of the most dangerous goal scorers in hockey.
27 of 31
Toronto Maple Leafs: John Tavares
There is a convincing case to be made for Auston Matthews to get this call for the Maple Leafs (he has scored at a 40-goal pace over the first three seasons of his career), but Tavares is coming off a 47-goal season and has been scoring at an elite rate in the NHL for more than a decade now. That is worth something. A lot, actually. He came to Toronto, his hometown, with huge expectations and a massive free agent contract and not only never seemed phased by the pressure, but he actually had the best season of his career. 28 of 31
Vancouver Canucks: Brock Boeser
It would be tempting to put Elias Pettersson here after the rookie season he had, and he is certainly the Canucks’ most impactful player. But a lot of his rookie goal scoring total came off a hot stretch in the first month of the season that he may not be able to duplicate. Boeser, on the other hand, has shown over two full seasons that he can regularly put the puck in the net. The only thing that has slowed him down is injury. If he can ever play 82 games, he might have a 40-goal season in his future. 29 of 31
Vegas Golden Knights: Max Pacioretty
Mark Stone is the best all-around player on this team, but Pacioretty still gets the slight edge when it comes to pure goal scoring. He may not be the 40-goal threat he was a couple of years ago when he was at his peak in Montreal, but as long as he stays healthy enough to play a full season he should be good for 30-35 goals. 30 of 31
Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin
I mean, come on. Who else was this going to be? There is a convincing argument to be made that Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer who has ever played in the NHL, and he has a legitimate shot to break Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record. Even if he does not, the fact he is going to seriously challenge it in this era of defensive, structured hockey with goaltending at the best level it has ever been is an incredible accomplishment.
31 of 31
Winnipeg Jets: Patrik Laine
Laine has already proved to be such a great goal scorer that when he scored 30 goals during the 2018-19 season (only his third season in the league) it was viewed as a down year for him. He has scored at least 30 goals every year he has been in the league and seems destined to have a couple of 50-goal seasons in his future. The Jets being positioned to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2016 was one of the biggest turning points for the franchise.
With the second round of the NHL playoffs underway, the chances of a perfect bracket are slim to none. According to NHL.com, there are only five perfect brackets remaining.
Because of the chaos, there have been many surprises since the first game of the 2019 NHL playoffs. We look at the biggest shockers of the first round.
Lightning sent home thanks to Blue Jackets
Led by head coach John Tortorella , the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy winners, even after Tampa’s historical regular season.
The Lightning were one of the best offensive teams in the league this season but were outscored, 19-8, in the series and had scarce offensive output from their best players.
With 128 points during the regular season, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov registered only two assists in four games for the Bolts.
This is the first time in NHL history that a No. 1 overall seed has been swept in the first round of the playoffs.
The Jets were grounded after six games
After making it to the Western Conference finals last season, the Winnipeg Jets were the most favored Canadian squad to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Jets lost in six games to the St. Louis Blues, who have won 12 of their past 16 games dating back to March 16.
All of Winnipeg’s losses came by one goal, as well as both their victories.
Even in their own arena during Game 5, the Jets allowed three goals in the third period and lost, 3-2.
Some of the league’s top players were shut down
Arguably the best player of the past decade, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby registered one assist in the playoffs — the lowest postseason point total of his career. He finished with a minus-4 in four games, the worst mark of his postseason career.
Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau also finished with one assist in five games with a minus-2 rating after scoring 99 points in the regular season.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist for the Predators and was not much of a factor, and the Dallas Stars took advantage, taking the series in six games.
Steven Stamkos also had a goal and an assist, with a plus/minus of minus-8. You could say he was a defensive liability for the Lightning.
Golden Knights get robbed in Game 7
Up 3-0 in Game 7, Vegas’ Cody Eakin cross-checked San Jose’s Joe Pavelski to the ice. Eakin was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct.
San Jose had an unreal comeback, netting four goals on the 5-minute power play to take the lead, with two goals coming from Logan Couture.
The Sharks won with two minutes left in overtime thanks to a goal from Barclay Goodrow, who only played two shifts the entire period.
On Thursday, the NHL apologized to the Golden Knights and admitted the referees were incorrect on Eakin’s penalty. That does not change anything for the Golden Knights.
A “Bunch of Jerks” beat the defending champs on the road in Game 7
One of the biggest underdogs in the playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes took the Washington Capitals to double overtime and advanced on a goal from Brock McGinn.
The Caps’ Alex Ovechkin had seven goals in the series but finished with a minus-2. He was a force in the offensive end but not so much on defense.
Warren Foegele led the Canes with four goals. In 77 regular- season games, Foegele had 10 total goals. The third liner has been great in his first playoff series.
The Hurricanes advance to the second round for the first time since 2009, when they made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Dynasties don’t always fade away. Sometimes they just crumble and collapse into a smoldering pile of ruin that cannibalizes itself and everything around it.
Sure, we sometimes throw the word “dynasty” around in sports a little too loosely, and I admit I am probably doing that here for the purpose of this argument, but hey … I needed a starting point. Even though NHL’s salary cap era has not produced a true “dynasty” comparable to the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, or Montreal Canadiens, there have been three teams that have stood out above the pack and achieved a level of success no other team has come close to matching.
The Los Angeles Kings won two Stanley Cups in three years.
The Chicago Blackhawks won three in six.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won three (with a fourth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final) in 10 years.
Those three teams have combined to win eight of the Stanley Cups in the salary cap era, including eight of the previous 10.
While none of them on their own qualify as a true “dynasty,” they have still been the defining teams of this era.
Two of them, the Blackhawks and Kings, are already in the smoldering pile phase of their franchise progression.
The Kings have missed the playoffs more than they’ve made them since winning their second Stanley Cup in 2014, have not won a playoff series, and just wrapped up a 2018-19 season where they spent the year competing with the Ottawa Senators for the worst record in the league.
The Blackhawks have not won a playoff series in three years since their 2015 Stanley Cup win and have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
Is this sort of bleak stretch in the Penguins’ future? Well, the long-term answer is most certainly yes, it is, because Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are not going to play forever, and there is going to come a point even when they are playing that they may not be able to carry the team to the playoffs. Hell, you don’t have to look far to see the track the Penguins have been on the past two years, going from back-to-back Stanley Cups, to a second-round exit, to a first-round sweep after clinching a playoff spot in Game 81 of the regular season.
That is coming down from the top of the mountain, friends, and there is nothing wrong with that. Nobody stays at the top forever, and at least if you are a Penguins, Kings, or Blackhawks fan you have a bunch of banners to show for it.
As the old saying goes: Banners hang forever.
But how close are the Penguins to truly falling to the bottom and living in the reality that Blackhawks and Kings have spent the past few years in (and maybe the next couple, at least)?
It will happen at some point, but I’m not sure the Penguins are there just quite yet.
First, even though the “core” of Crosby, Malkin, Letang, etc. are getting older, I feel like they have more of a graceful decline ahead of them than the core players of the Kings and Blackhawks.
The Kings’ core really wasn’t that impressive to begin with, was it?
Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are great — but that was about it. Their run of championships was never one that was built on skill or remarkably deep rosters. It was built on suffocating, systematic defensive work and hoping that Jonathan Quick could catch fire for a couple of months and rise above his otherwise mediocre track record as an NHL starting goalie. I’m not saying the Kings were frauds as champions (they were a legitimately great for three years!) but they just didn’t seem to have the type of roster that was set-up for long-term, sustained success over a decade or so.
Once their handful of high-level players started to slow down, there wasn’t much left around them to make up for it. When a player like, say, Dustin Brown loses a step, he doesn’t have much else to fall back on.
The Blackhawks are a little tougher to get a read on on where things went so sideways for them.
Corey Crawford’s health issues over the past two years have definitely had a negative impact on their overall performance, and when you lose a really good starting goalie and don’t have anyone to fall back on, that is going to create a lot of problems. I also think a lot of the Blackhawks’ problems are a little self-inflicted in the sense that they stayed too loyal to the wrong players (see: Seabrook, Brent) and made some irrational decisions based on one bad postseason result (trading a first-line player like Artemi Panarin to bring back a lesser player in Brandon Saad — one that they were, again, probably staying too loyal to because of the team success).
Before you fill out your postseason bracket, we break down one key matchup across five first-round series that could make or break a team in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s no secret – for the Leafs to trump the Bruins, they need to find an answer for the three-headed monster of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand.
The Leafs were tormented by the Bruins’ top line in their seven-game series last postseason. Bergeron and Co. controlled possession, posting a Corsi rating of 64.90, and dominated Toronto in high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five, 49-26. An encouraging note for the Leafs is that the Corsi number dropped to 54.84 when matched with Auston Matthews and shot up to 75 when going against Tomas Plekanec – suggesting the trio dominated much of the play against a veteran player who is no longer in the league.
Looking at the regular season, both Matthews and Bergeron were out of the lineup for two of the teams’ meetings this season, so we’ll have to see how the coaches choose to deploy their top talent with the pair back in the mix.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders
Goaltending vs. star power
The Islanders claiming home-ice advantage was key, but perhaps their biggest edge sits between the pipes. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss combined to capture the William M. Jennings Trophy this season, and their dominant play must continue for the team to be successful against the Penguins’ offensive arsenal.
Though neither netminder has a ton of playoff experience, the job will likely be Lehner’s to lose. Since returning from injury on March 19, the 27-year-old has posted a 5-2 record with a .942 save percentage.
Barry Trotz’s club allowed a league-low 191 goals on the campaign and posted a record of 38-2-2 when scoring at least three times in a game. Led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins boasted the fifth-best offense this year and rostered four players with 70-plus points.
Pittsburgh mustered 13 goals in four games against the Islanders during the regular season, with Crosby and Malkin combining for eight points.
Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche
Can ‘Johnny Hockey’ outperform MacKinnon?
Calgary’s Gaudreau and Colorado’s MacKinnon each notched a career-high 99 points this season. Though they play different positions up front, the two will be a joy to watch compete as they best embody the speed and skill that will be on display in this series.
The All-Stars have no problem facing the pressure of playoff hockey, either, as MacKinnon has tallied 16 points in 13 career contests, with Gaudreau posting 11 points in 15.
Both men know how to deliver when it matters most, too. “Johnny Hockey” racked up 39 points and 17 goals in the third period or overtime this season, while MacKinnon contributed 37 points and 15 goals in those clutch moments. When the game is on the line, look for one of these two studs to follow through.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Stingy penalty kill vs. Electric man advantage
Special teams will heavily influence this matchup between one of the greatest regular-season teams ever and a franchise looking for its first playoff series victory.
The Lightning’s power play was lethal this season, clicking at a league-leading rate of 28.2 percent. The Blue Jackets, on the other hand, deploy the NHL’s top penalty kill.
The Lightning and Blue Jackets posted similar possession numbers with Corsi ratings of 51.59 and 50.21, respectively. The more even-strength hockey Columbus can play, the better its chances of pulling out the upset – in the regular season, the Lightning erupted for six power-play goals on 11 attempts in their three victories over the Jackets this year.
St. Louis Blues vs. Winnipeg Jets
Battle in the crease
This Central Division clash is about as even as any playoff series on the slate. The Jets won 47 regular-season games and sported a goal differential of plus-28, while the Blues won 45 contests and were plus-24. Both teams finished with 99 points, but what may ultimately separate the two in this series is the play in the crease.
The Blues netminder was one of the best stories of the season. In 32 appearances, Binnington posted a .927 save percentage and an unbelievable 1.89 goals-against average en route to setting a franchise record for wins by a rookie goaltender with 24. The 25-year-old has yet to face the Jets this season, perhaps to the Blues’ advantage.
Hellebuyck was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season but will need to regain his form in a hurry after taking a step backward this year. The 25-year-old won 10 fewer games and saw his goals against average spike from 2.36 to 2.90.
With two netminders trending in opposite directions, goaltending will be the deciding factor in this series.
After a spell without them, third jerseys are back for the NHL! Now, that may cause fear to rise in your gullet. At least it will if you are old enough to remember that first wave of (largely hideous) third jerseys from the ‘90s. Somehow, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks managed to make themselves look even worse! The NHL didn’t have alternate/third jerseys last year due to switching all their jerseys to Adidas. Now Adidas is able to crank out third jerseys for what is expected to be about 15-20 teams. Some of the looks have been seen before but not for the past few years. Here’s a look at all the third jerseys we know about, ranked in terms of quality.
21. Arizona Coyotes
Apparently we’re at a place where we’re willing to nostalgically accept these Coyotes jerseys as existing? Until they changed their look to a simpler style, Arizona, then Phoenix, was rivaled by only the Minnesota Wild for worse look in the league. We don’t care if they’re ironically bringing back the Kachina jerseys. They still look bad and are WAY too busy for a sports uniform.
20. Anaheim Ducks
Sorry, we aren’t going to buy your nostalgia, take two. The Anaheim logo with the duck-shaped hockey mask was dumb then, and it’s dumb now. However, the purple-and-teal look feels like it has aged a little better. The stripes are nice. The logo is still hot garbage.
19. New York Islanders
There are two things going against the Islanders’ third jerseys. One, it’s basically a replicant of the black third jersey they wore before, but now it’s blue. Two, it’s not an interesting logo, and it’s much worse than the traditional Islanders logo. It also lacks the kitschy fun of the fisherman logo. Just blah all around.
18. Philadelphia Flyers
These jerseys are too basic to be offensive but also too boring to be interesting. They look fine. This is a shrug in hockey jersey form. They better wear it around Halloween.
17. Los Angeles Kings
Straight up, we miss the yellow-and-purple crown look from the expansion era. Instead of that, the Kings are going with another gray alternate, a slight tweak from their 50th anniversary look. It’s not a bad look, but it doesn’t really stir up much in the way of feelings.
16. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks and the Bruins aren’t wearing third jerseys, per se, but they did wear retro looks for the Winter Classic. Both are harkening back to their ‘30s looks. These Chicago ones are kind of crazy because they are just black and white. A Blackhawks jersey without a hint of red? That’s practically sacrilege!
15. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers’ jersey is good and a reflection of their old look for their 40th anniversary. However, it’s not all that different from their usual look. They are just wearing a bright royal blue with the orange. It pops, but it’s not different enough to rank too high.
14. San Jose Sharks
Shocker! The Sharks have a black alternate jersey. Back in the day, “third jersey” basically meant “black jersey,” but now that isn’t the case so this isn’t quite as eye-rolling. They also have made the new logo blacker as well, borrowing from the aesthetic choices of “Spinal Tap.” And there’s a new shoulder logo with a fin poking out of the water, which is actually cool.
13. Ottawa Senators
Everything is terrible about the Senators…save for their expected third jersey. They are bringing back their centennial look, which has a great old school vibe. Their logo is just a big “O.” The simplicity works.
12. Pittsburgh Penguins
Like a character from the least-popular Austin Powers movie, the Penguins seem to love gold. That being said, these jerseys really pop. They are bright but not garish, and gold is deeply tied to Pittsburgh sports. The Stanley Cup may be silver, but gold still has its charm in the NHL.
11. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets’ look is cool. The blue they usually sport works great, the lettering of the logo is sharp, and I really like the stripe. It definitely is a classy jersey, but the Jets have such a good look normally, it feels like an unnecessary alternative.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto is expected to kick it very old school again by busting out its St. Pats jerseys, a shout out to a defunct hockey team based in the city. Hey, you can always wear it on St. Patrick’s Day and have it be a hit. It’s weird to see the Maple Leafs not wearing blue, but to be fair they also aren’t even wearing the words “maple” or “leafs.” That’s fun in and of itself, and the St. Pats jerseys are pretty nice as well