2017 NHL Off-Season Recap

A look back at the off-season and a look ahead to the regular season: –

It’s early September, which means the NHL will be back up and running very soon!  I have loved watching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers dominate the football field (knock on wood) this past summer, and have also enjoyed witnessing the Winnipeg Goldeyes capture their division championship … But now it’s time to get back into the swing of things with hockey, the NHL, and our beloved Winnipeg Jets.

To get us ready for the upcoming season, let’s take a look at this past off-season, and mix in a few thoughts or predictions for the 2017-18 NHL season.

Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators in six games to capture the Stanley Cup for a second consecutive year.  Sidney Crosby now has three Stanley Cup victories in his career, and in my opinion, is still the best player in the world.  I expect both the Pens and the Preds to be back in the playoffs this year with an eye on Lord Stanley’s sweet trophy.

NHL Awards –

At the NHL Awards ceremony, Crosby picked up both the Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) and Rocket Richard Trophy (most goals).  Only Connor McDavid managed more hardware, as he won the Art Ross Trophy (most points), Hart Memorial Trophy (regular season MVP) and Ted Lindsay Award (outstanding player), so basically another Hart Trophy.  In fact, the same person has won both awards in the same year the past 4 years.  

Other notable award winners were Brent Burns (Norris Trophy – best defenseman).

Sergei Bobrovsky (Vezina Trophy – best goaltender).

Patrice Bergeron (Selke Trophy – best defensive forward).

John Tortorella (Jack Adams Award – best coach).

Auston Matthews (Calder Trophy – best rookie).

No Winnipeg Jets won an NHL award this year, but Patrik Laine was first runner-up for the Calder Trophy.

Following the Awards night, the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft came and went with the Vegas Golden Knights yielding a rather lackluster roster. The aforementioned roster is highlighted by such studs as Luca Sbisa, Jason Garrison, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Clayton Stoner.  In actuality, Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal, and Jonathan Marchessault make up pretty much the club’s only decent players. Thanks in part to Toby Enstrom waiving his No-Movement Clause (NMC), the Winnipeg Jets managed to escape with losing only Chris Thorburn, who was leaving as a free agent anyway.  The Jets did have to move down in the NHL Entry Draft to ensure this happened though.

Speaking of the NHL Entry Draft, it took place just a few days later on June 23. Halifax Moosehead center Nico Hischier went first overall to the New Jersey Devils, and Winnipegger Nolan Patrick was picked second by the Philadelphia Flyers.  The Winnipeg Jets picked up another Finn in winger Kristian Vesalainen with the 24th pick.  In their first ever NHL Entry Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights drafted Winnipegger Cody Glass as well as Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom in the first round.

The 2017 free agency period was a rather quiet one.  The biggest signings were probably Karl Alzner to Montreal, Kevin Shattenkirk to the New York Rangers (seems like quite a Ranger-esque type move), Alexander Radulov to Dallas and Patrick Marleau to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Perhaps more newsworthy are the as-of-today unsigned players, led by future Hockey Hall of Famers Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla.  Now, Iginla I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole at this point.  He did not look good last year and in my opinion, he is done.  Maybe a team will pick him up for his leadership, or a powerplay specialist.  I wouldn’t. Jagr on the other hand, I can’t seem to grasp.  How has he not been signed? Ya, he’s ancient, but he also scored more than 0.5 PPG last year.  The year before that, he led the Florida Panthers in points.  I’m thinking that somebody will at least offer him a PTO during training camps.  If not, then I guess it’s the last we’ve seen of Jagr in the NHL.  Maybe he would go back to Europe.

Up until the other day, accompanying Iggy and Jagr as free agents was former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan.  Doan actually started his career with the original Winnipeg Jets and stuck with the franchise his entire career.  Doan was captain since 2003, holds several franchise records and led the team in scoring for several years during the 2000s.  He wasn’t as effective last year and was told by the team that he would not be offered another contract.  He formally announced his retirement on August 30.  As far as I’m aware, the only other notable retiree this past summer is former Predators captain Mike Fisher.

The Winnipeg Jets made a bit of a splash (maybe not like a tidal wave splash, but certainly bigger than recent years) this summer in signing Steve Mason and Dmitry Kulikov.  Mason will try to bring stability to the crease, while Kulikov should help shore up our left side of the defensive corps.  “Key” departures this summer included Paul Postma (no big deal), Chris Thorburn (really no big deal), Mark Stuart (not a big deal at all) and Ondrej Pavelec (thank goodness he’s gone).

Now, let me leave you with a couple of thoughts as the season gets underway. The Winnipeg Jets open their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 4 (basically Christmas if you ask me) and while I’m not going to predict any lineups for that game, I will predict a strong game from Patrik Laine.  After being drafted #1 and #2 in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are now forever linked, so every time they meet there is this underlying personal rivalry much like Sid vs OV.  

For individual player predictions, I expect Mark Scheifele to tally over 80 points again this year and cement himself as a top center in the league.  Patrik Laine will have another great year, and while some may expect a sophomore slump, I’m nothing if not a blue sky thinker so I think 50 goals isn’t out of the question. In reality, I’d be happy with 40.  I think Nikolaj Ehlers and Josh Morrissey will continue to improve.  I believe Jacob Trouba will have his best season to date, in hopes of scoring a fat, juicy contract in the off-season.  Some of the veterans may regress a little, but this team is very good on paper.  They play in a very tough division but if goaltending and special teams improve, they should be going to the playoffs.  If not, it is certainly time for Paul Maurice to go.  I noticed that neither Maurice nor Chevy have been offered contract extensions thus far …

 

Have thoughts on the off-season, the Winnipeg Jets or on hockey in general? Please leave them in the comment section, or reach out to me on Twitter @WHTRiley. Thanks for reading and I would love to talk hockey with you.

*

 

Riley Malinowski (10 Posts)


Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge

Webmaster tool activated by Webmaster Tools Plugin from LionScripts.com.
%d bloggers like this: