Nearly one week into the 2021 NHL season, here are three quick takeaways we've learned in that short time....
The 2021 NHL season is just a week old and we already have a three major storylines that deserve some added insight. Let’s go round the league and see what's happening.
Pierre-Luc Dubois – PL Dubois is a 22-year-old center for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was drafted 3rd overall a few years ago, signing a 2 yr./$10 million dollar contract this offseason. He is a strong candidate for the Selke this year (best defensive forward). At his age, he could be a finalist for the next ten years. He is becoming that good and he is still developing. He also wants to be traded out of Columbus, which has a management that has a hard-liner approach to its players. A player like PL Dubois does not come around very often, usually this player gets signed for ten years and test free agency around their age 29/30 season, so this becomes a very interesting story. PL Dubois is French-Canadian, he has made it known that he would like to go to a bigger market, and a few teams have interestedly emerged. Montreal and Winnipeg have the Canadian pedigree and assets that could make PL happy and compensate Columbus. The only issue that emerges is the Canadian border, the 14-day quarantine required now from the Canadian government. Columbus has had some interesting offers from around the league, outside of Montreal and Winnipeg, so a small bidding war may develop, and Columbus has had a history of taking risks and seeing what develops, getting the better deal in trades.
Goaltending matters so much more this year – Around the league, goaltenders are under scrutiny due to the shortened season, the back-to-back games, the possibilities of games being pushed back. Teams like Toronto, NY Rangers, Florida, San Jose, Edmonton have talented rosters, but questions have started come up within their respective organizations. In addition, some teams like Anaheim and NY Islanders have goaltenders that are leading their teams and making a huge difference (John Gibson in Anaheim is clearly the best player on his team, he might be early candidate for Vezina/Hart, so look for developing odds). The past offseason had a deep goaltending market and had some moves, but it should have had a few more than we saw. This trade deadline means we might have a couple of good trades among teams that are “contending” or “pretending”. Teams may also just stand pat this season, ride it out, and see what develops this offseason. Pay attention to the first big trade that comes down, it may signal what the market is for goaltenders.
Chicago and Detroit are really, really bad – Chicago’s biggest issue is goaltending. All three of their goalies have the resumes of back-ups or AHL call-ups, with some future potential possible. The problem is they need some development or timely net time, but they are being forced into a position that is unreasonable. Chicago’s roster has some talent, they have said they are “retooling” but looks to be “rebuilding” causing some problems with their aging stars. Patrick Kane is a scoring machine and offense will be clearly on him, so look for high point totals from him, but opposing teams putting 1st line defense on Kane. Detroit has embraced the rebuild and is clearly showing signs of progress. Detroit is still a bad team and should be in contending for the top 3 draft position next summer, but they also have a team with friendly contracts. Look for Detroit to stay competitive AND be big players in the trade market. They have some cap room, as well, so look for them to take bad contracts for high picks or prospects. Detroit’s team is a little better than what they should be. Detroit could be competitive in more games, so they are not shoe-ins for losses. I could see them be in games entering the third period (3-2 or 3-3 entering 3rd) yet still losing the game outright. In the second half of the season, look for these losses to trigger some comebacks in games, especially in back-to-back games.
Look for more insights and notes in the weeks and months to come here at POINTSPREADS.CA!
-- Writer Patrick Day can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org