Golden Knights continue to reap the benefits of NHL’s most unbalanced trade

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Welcome to 10 Insights, Observations. Every Thursday, I’ll use this space to highlight teams, players, storylines, and general musings around the NHL, and perhaps at times, the greater hockey world.

This week we look at the teams allowing the fewest goals against per game, the most lopsided trade running in the league, and a deal that hasn’t worked out for anyone.

Between the Golden Knights Capitals may be the most unfair deal in the NHL. (Photo via Getty

Leafs, BruinsDevils thrive without a true No. 1 goalie

Take a quick look at the three teams allowing the fewest goals per game you’ll see the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils. What does each of these teams share in common? Each team has a different stud, No. 1 goalie. If you asked someone to write down the top 10 goalies in the league, I’m not sure a single goalie from any of those three teams would make the list.

In this day and age, goaltending is a fascinating topic. The league has largely moved away from having a stud getting most of your starts — no goalie has started more than 70 games since Cam Talbot In 2016-17. In 2016-17. They have goaltending teams and gambled in the crease. It was done twice by the Leafs. Matt Murray Ilya Samsonov. The Devils took a swing at Vitek Vanecek. Last season, the Bruins won. Linus Ullmark.

The team was made up of two of these goalies. Washington CapitalsThey signed a starter last season after signing a tandem. Darcy Kuemper instead. Instead of investing in net, each team pays up to strengthen the playing roster and create an environment that allows goalies to succeed. They’re relying less on a goalie to bail them out and more on the team around them to limit chances — all three are top 10 in shots against per game and top 10 in expected goals against per game.

We’ll see if it holds come playoff time, though, when teams largely do need stud goaltending and it’s really difficult to overcome a large gap between goalies in tighter, heavier checking games.

Avalanche needs Newhook to move forward

The Colorado Avalanche After winning the Stanley Cup, there were many difficult decisions to be made. They couldn’t afford to run their championship team back under the salary cap so they went about prioritizing certain players and backfilling where possible. They also depend on players in the system assuming more responsibilities.

Alex Newhook is one such player the Avs have been counting on. He was drafted 16th overall by the Avs in 2019. Last season, he played 71 games and scored 33 points.

His ice time has increased by almost one minute and a quarter per game this season. The production has not been there though — he’s actually producing less this season than last. Newhook has been lining up with offensively-minded teammates and is now playing regularly with them. Evan Rodrigues Valeri Nichushkin (when he’s been in the lineup) compared to Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Logan O’Connor last season. He is fast, but he still needs to improve his game, such as the strength to hold the puck longer and make more plays. If he has a bit of time and space, he’ll show some finishing ability.

Newhook is only 21, it’s his second season in the league. But he’s on the reigning Cup champs who want to continue winning right now. They would be even more formidable if Newhook broke out.

Stephenson trades for the Golden Knights at an incredible price

Chandler Stephenson is one player that went from being a depth player to a Cup winner to a breakout star. It’s almost unbelievable to look back on now. Stephenson won his first Cup with Washington Capitals. He put up 18 points in 64 regular season games, before playing in all 24 playoff matches and scoring seven points. After he had scored 11 points in 64 games, he was unable to sustain his performance and Washington traded him to Vegas with a fifth-rounder.

It may be the most unbalanced trade in the league. When he arrived in Vegas, he put up 22 points in 41 of his games. After that, he played again in all playoff games and his team reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Fast forward a few seasons and he’s leading Vegas in scoring (in part because Jack Eichel He was hurt. He isn’t a big-time goal scorer — he looks to be settling in as a 20ish goal scorer — but his speed is a bonafide weapon that causes all sorts of issues. You can play with Mark Stone It is just unfair that the penalty kill be applied. They take up too much space and are able to anticipate plays.

It’s almost too simple. The second Stephenson deflects the puck it’s over. No one is catching him. He can move between the centre and the wing, which is quite a feat considering that Eichel manages him at Golden Knights. Stephenson can reposition their top line when Eichel’s out, and then slide over to the side and keep the game moving while he’s playing. And he’s doing that for one of the best teams in the league, all for a fifth-round draft pick. It’s larceny.

Martinez needs an ice pack for Christmas

Blocked shots have generally become frowned upon and for a pretty simple and straightforward reason: if you are blocking shots, it’s because not only do you not have the puck, but the puck is actively in your own zone.

We don’t seem to talk about blocked shots anymore or the players that do it, but perhaps if we did there would be a lot more buzz about how Alec Martinez is the leader with 126… and the next highest is Jacob Trouba With 84. This is a huge gap between first and second. And Martinez is not a bad player; his absence was a big part of Vegas’s struggles last season. He’s playing with Alex Pietrangelo They are a formidable defensive player and provide interesting insight into shot quality and quantity. They are below average in possession metrics, but above average in expected goals and actual goal differences at 5v5.

Martinez is a fearless and skilled player. His willingness to put his body on line at such a young age is truly admirable.

Hurricanes are quietly thriving again

The most successful teams are often driven by superstars and make headlines. This is not the case with the Carolina Hurricanes. Again, they seem to be just humming along and concentrating on their business. They sit at the top of their respective divisions. They are now 9-0-1 in the last 10 games, beating the Devils to surpass them in points percentage and climb back to the top in the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes have more points in the NHL than anyone else since the start the 2020-21 season.

Sebastian Aho is currently tied for 24th in all players’ scoring. The crazy thing when you really look at it is how they’ve changed the cast quite drastically over this short period of time. They had a bubble season Alex NedeljkovicJames Reimer, Petr Mrazek, and Petr Mrazek in net. They were all absent the next season. Vincent Trochek was second on their team in scoring that year and he’s no longer there. Dougie Hamilton was leading their defense and he’s gone. The next season, they added Tony DeAngelo He was their leader in scoring defense. He’s since departed. Nino Niederreiter Also available in offseason.

These aren’t minor bit players, these are guys that played prominent roles on a top team, and they’ve just revolved through them, identified appropriate replacements and kept the train rolling. They haven’t been able to get through the second round, which has largely driven their player movement, but in the meantime they have quietly and consistently been a regular-season powerhouse. Without the superstar power or playoff success, they haven’t exactly received much recognition for it.

The Bear-Foegele swap failed

Sometimes it is hard to believe that things could have gone better for all involved in trades. The surface of the matter is that the Edmonton Oilers Hurricanes exchanged Warren Foegele For Ethan BearIt was logical.

Oilers needed some scoring depth. They got a young winger with some size. He had also shown some secondary scoring ability in Carolina. The Hurricanes were looking for a right-handed defenseman to round out their core and give them a good 5-on-5 option to limit DeAngelo’s role and simply optimize him for power-play and offensive zone use.

It hasn’t exactly played out that way. Bear began with Jaccob SlavinFoegele was not able to form the 5-on-5 shutdown pair he had in mind. However, he washed out Carolina and the Hurricanes traded him to Vancouver for their fifth-round draft pick. Foegele saw his production and average ice time decrease after the trade. It went from 14 minutes per game to 12:37 this season to 12 minutes per game. He’s on pace for his lowest level of production since his rookie season.

Neither team really got what it wanted out of the trade and as the old saying goes, sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.

Unwarranted criticisms of the Thompson-O’Reilly agreement are not warranted

On the flip side, there surprisingly seems to be a lot of hand-wringing about the Tage Thompson-Ryan O’Reilly trade between Buffalo and St. Louis in 2018. The Blues won a Stanley Cup. This is their only Stanley Cup win in franchise history. O’Reilly was the team’s scoring leader, while O’Reilly was the bus driver in the middle. He won the Conn Smythe award in 2019.

It’s incredibly difficult to win the Stanley Cup — only 12 franchises have even won one this millennium. The rest of those teams are the ones that would sell their souls just to be on that list.

It seems like we are in a time of “What has your done for me lately?” but a Cup win lasts forever. If anything, it’s a trade that’s now finally working out well for both teams.

Seider doesn’t click with Chiarot

After an impressive debut season, the Detroit Red Wings They sought to help Moritz Seider with a better defense partner. They signed Ben Chiarot to big money, but the improved partner part hasn’t exactly worked out as intended. Seider played primarily with Danny DeKeyser last season and while Chiarot is a bit of an analytics lightning-rod player, you’d like to think he’s better than DeKeyser at this point. Their results are, however, arguably worse.

Seider’s possession numbers and expected goals while paired with Chiarot are lower than when he was paired with DeKeyser as a rookie on a worse team. DeKeyser, Seider outscored each other 27-40 in a total of 777 minutes playing at all strengths. Chiarot & Seider outscored each other 21-44 over 540 minutes this season. It’s almost mind-blowing to look at.

Seider is also producing less. Seider is producing less, if anything it has been Filip Hronek stepping up as the guy on Detroit’s defense. It wouldn’t be fair to simply blame Chiarot. He plays a role in the struggles but it’s not all him.

Nelson, give him your respect

The Islanders have signed a lot of players, and they often get grouped together. This is especially true in the offseason, when many missed and swung the ball too many times. One contract that gets thrown in there but doesn’t deserve it is Brock Nelson. He’s making $6 million this season and the following two, and he is a player.

If anything, he’s underpaid by current market standards. He scored 37 goals last year and has been scoring at a rate of one point per game this season. Doing that at centre, especially when you’re 6-foot-4, gets you paid more than $6 million. He isn’t physical but he knows how to use his body to give himself time and space. Look how he freezes everyone with his wide stance, making Columbus players think he’s going to try to take the puck to the far post before pausing and flicking it short side:

Although he is standing when he plays, he uses his hands to make a good shot. You can see them both here. He fishes the puck in his zone with a little bit of toe drag, leading a breakout counterattack and then getting open to rip a one-timer home.

Nelson is a productive and skilled player. He has used his skillset of size, shot, and hands over the past few seasons to really take off.

We are grateful and happy holidays!

I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. I hope that you have time with your loved ones and also get some downtime to recharge and relax. This column is made possible by you, the readers. I thank you for taking time to read it.

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