- Joined: Oct 11, 2010
- Last Login: Sep 17, 2021, 3:06pm EDT
- Posts: 24
- Comments: 8,914
My name is Michael. I enjoy sports. Contributor at In Lou We Trust.
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I did say ‘slightly’ younger
Comment 4 recs
Zajac’s contract is almost certainly sitting signed in Lou’s desk drawer just waiting to be submitted to the league for whatever reason
Comment 1 reply, 7 recs
I think it’s more or less true that, after an active summer, this is now firmly Fitzgerald’s Team and, as such, that means the clock is now ticking to an extent on his tenure. As far as what missteps he’s made, I do think the center depth has a chance to bite him but he’s otherwise done well in most of the moves he’s made. I think he probably has plenty of leash left, though, even if the season doesn’t go great. I do think he is unlikely to get the kind of slack Ray Shero did, given that he was already part of the previous regime and the team has already been rebuilding in earnest for at least 6 years but, barring an all-out disaster this season, he’ll at least get the 2022 summer and into the following season to keep tinkering.
As far as specifics, I’m not necessarily a fan of the Stillman pick but I also don’t think we need to get carried away with calling him a fourth-rounder. They reached maybe half a round or a round early on him, depending on your opinion, but he was never a fourth-rounder. His draft-minus-one stats from the OHL are fine and while he played for an obscure Danish junior league last season, I count that more as a source of uncertainty than a full-on knock against him. Anyway, it’s true that he’s probably not a factor for 3 or 4 seasons (if he makes it), but that’s probably true of a lot of late-first guys. I think dinging Fitzgerald for not trading the pick is fair, but there weren’t really many substantial trades at the draft this year, so maybe the market was just cool. Keep in mind the Devils also lost value on the pick because the Islanders went far in the playoffs, a factor out of Fitzgerald’s control.
On the rest of the forward depth, yeah Maltsev and Bastian are depth losses, but I really don’t think the team has much issue on the wings, where they have a bunch more options brewing. Palmieri was effectively replaced by Tatar, so I do think Fitzgerald addressed his loss. Zajac moving on is part of the reason they have the 3C questions now but he’s also very much a depth guy and a situational faceoff-taker at this point. The problem is really with the team relying on a couple of mostly unproven quantities in McLeod and Boqvist to backfill the spot. I said as much in the post you linked in yours, but if Fitzgerald regrets anything about this offseason, I think it will be the lack of any insurance policy to solidify the center position.
Comment 1 reply, 1 rec
For what it’s worth, Zacha and Blackwood will age out of the T25U25 next year, so there will be some opportunities for guys to move up. Whether Mercer can move up much will depend on if he can force his way into the NHL this year, I think.
Comment 1 reply, 3 recs
It’s really just a function of him having been in the NHL for 100+ games and playing adequately in a depth role for Washington, a bar a substantial amount of the guys behind him likely never hit. The fact that he’s as far down as 14 in spite of that fact means that people actually don’t think all that highly of him. Boqvist is the only player with any significant NHL time that is ranked lower.
Comment 2 replies, 4 recs
I want somebody to explain to me why Zacha has such a reputation as a good defensive forward when he consistently has very poor defensive results at 5v5. His xGA/60 and GA/60 rates are among the worst on the team over the past three seasons, roughly equivalent to Nikita Gusev’s. I know the guy can play the PK but that is not the same as being an effective defensive forward at even strength. As an aside, it’s also funny how perceptions color people’s opinion of Bratt, who has conversely had excellent defensive results the past two seasons and rates out as a substantially better defensive player at this point than Zacha.
Anyway, the reason to expect Zacha to maintain a scoring pace close to what he did last season is wrapped up in the fact that I expect the team to keep him at wing this year, a position he is much better suited for in the NHL. He is a subpar play-driver and while he has a pretty good shot, he has not been particularly good at creating his own opportunities as a center and, thus, has often had shooting rates in line with Travis Zajac at 5v5. He’s actually a pretty good passer as well, which, combined with the aforementioned good shot, is why he has been such a maddening — even crazy-making — player in his career. So if someone else can do the work of retrieving pucks and pushing play up ice, Zacha has good enough instincts and skills to capitalize on those opportunities. He just needs to actually shoot the puck, which he was definitely starting to do more last year as a wing.
Ironically, the underlying numbers make him look much more like a miscast one-dimensional offensive player at even strength than the defensive specialist-type that people had been trying to play up in past seasons. Get the puck on his stick in the offensive zone and he can make some things happen, just don’t expect him to drive a line. At this point, I’m perfectly content with that being the type of player he is and I think if he is utilized in that way, he can actually be a valuable role-player going forward.
Comment 2 replies
People always say stuff like this when a post takes a vaguely negative or concerned tone, but I guess my response in general would be: Which New Jersey Devils have you guys been watching the last nine years?
16. Nolan Foote
17. Reilly Walsh
18. Shakir Mukhamadullin
19. Akira Schmid
20. Tyce Thompson
I had Clarke up at 11 and Bahl down at 22.
Clarke is a guy I just kind of have a feeling about. First year pro numbers were very good and I’ve had decently high hopes for him since he got out of the gate hot in his draft+1 season (before going down with an injury). Given the season he just had in the A as a 19-year old, it seems like the shoulder has sufficiently recovered and he could be a real asset on the right wing. I will say that I don’t consider it a particularly wide gap between Clarke at 11 and Foote at 16 in my rankings.
Bahl I seem to be a bit lower on than some. He is obviously big and can move decently well for that size, but there’s just something missing from his game for me, just lacks any dynamic or standout aspect to his game. His results in Binghamton were not particularly great last year, but it was just his age 20 season, so I think he has more time to get himself sorted than some others are thinking. FWIW, I think he’ll get plenty of chances in the NHL based on his size alone.
I mean, one response to this would be that at the age Blackwood is now, Kinkaid also had one career NHL game and was close to a year away from game #2. He was also never entrusted with anything comparable to a starter’s role until he was 28 in the back half of 2017-18.
I do think your broader point has merit, though, as given the sample and the season we just witnessed, it’s hard to say with certainty that Blackwood is a long-term solution as a #1.
Similarities between him and Kinkaid are mostly surficial, though, as Kinkaid, aside from a few months in 2018, never really had starter expectations or workload. He never had 40 starts in a season. The stats are similar because average-to-good-ish stats are probably pretty common over the first 100 games of an NHL career (otherwise guys wouldn’t last that long).
I think he has a high ceiling and can certainly be better than a .915 goalie (which, with recent sv% trends, is actually pretty good and puts a guy in the top 1/3 of starters/tandem goalies). He’s been automatically penciled in as a #1 partially because of the lack of other options, sure, but he’s also been generally solid in the NHL thus far. His 2018-19 season in particular was really good as his overall sv% got pulled down almost 10 points in that 9-goal obliteration he got left in for the entirety of against Calgary. Honestly, I’m mostly concerned by the quality start pct, which was elite that first season (.667) and has lagged around just over .510 the past couple seasons (.600+ is what I’d consider "good" and average is probably around .550). He has to clean up the consistency, but other people are correct in that there has been absolutely nobody to reliably pick up the slack for him the last couple years (non-Blackwoods are a mind-bending 11-28-7 in 46 decisions with a .319 QS%).
This past season was not a good one for Blackwood, but the rough bout with COVID and a somewhat tragic defense gives me plenty of hope that it was the exception rather than the rule.
Comment 1 reply, 7 recs
I believe he requested the change from "y" to "i" at some point over the last year. Anglicized Russian names are always a little fluid in terms of spelling since some Cyrillic letters don’t easily convert to Latin characters. It’s why sometimes Yegors will become Egors, etc. Pretty much comes down to player preference, I think.
Comment 1 rec
So only one of these guys were in my 21-25 (Zetterlund) with one (Schmid (19)) higher and three (Okhotiuk (26), Salminen (30), Studenic (39)) lower.
The guys who did make up my 21-25 were Zetterlund, Bahl, Gritsyuk, Vukojevic, and Talvitie.
I was losing some hope on Zetterlund previously but he put together a nice season for himself in the AHL. I’m still not super confident he’s a factor in the NHL but he definitely made some steps in that direction. Hopefully he can keep it up.
Schmid is admittedly doing it in a lower league but he’s been super dominant the last two seasons he’s been healthy in the USHL. I’m excited to see if he can perform in the pros now.
Okhotiuk is a decent prospect. I had him just outside my top 25. Maybe he’s a third pair guy, I know he has a bit of speed to go with the big frame and can lay some serious hits. I like Vukojevic a bit better at this point and Vuko seems like the type of guy who can also get under teams’ skin.
Studenic I admitted I was likely a bit hard on in the outsiders post but I still think he belongs in the 30s at this point. I know he got a cup of coffee in the NHL last year, but his AHL trajectory really does not scream "NHLer" at this point. We’ll see, maybe I’m off.
Salminen I like, but he’s also freshly drafted and I tend to take a "wait and see" approach with new draftees until I feel more confident in their chances one way or the other. I had Salminen as the second highest in this class, for what it’s worth, with Vilen (who I’m seemingly a little higher on than most) and Stillman a few spots behind.
Comment 1 reply, 3 recs
Alright, then I guess that I also agree that if he has the career of [player who had long and good career], that would make him a successful pick.
Comment 1 reply, 1 rec
If he has a career like his father he will be a great #29 pick.
Honestly, the bloodlines thing probably annoys me as much as anything else. Obviously if he ends up with a career like his dad that’s a huge win, but why should his dad’s success have anything to do with why he’s getting drafted in x position? Cory Stillman was a really good player, yes, but it’s immaterial for building a hockey team in 2021.
Anyway, it’s not worth belaboring, and the pick could very well end up fine or even good in a draft that was conducted after an unprecedented level of chaos in the junior ranks. This particular group at AAtJ is generally going to be partial to home-run-swing type picks instead of perceived high-floor "comes from a good NHL family" picks, though.
The Malek pick was inexplicable and arguably worse in a vacuum, but it was also a 4th rounder so the stakes are a bit lower
Comment 1 reply, 5 recs
It comes down how value is perceived in the draft. Most of the scouting reports on him had him as a grit and effort guy with somewhat limited upside. Ultimately, it does look like he has a decent shot at being a pesky bottom-six thorn in the side of teams someday, which is certainly not a bad thing to have, but it’s also not necessarily the best use of draft capital with a first round pick. Essentially, they took him probably 20 picks too early with a bunch of consensus top-30 guys still on the board, so people are bothered by the pick. In short, it’s about perceived upside. This is of course unfair to Stillman, who had nothing to do with drafting himself at 29th overall, but it’s just the way frustration with a scouting staff or a specific selection manifests.
For what it’s worth, I do think the strange year in 2020-21 means that the range of options for Stillman might be a little more wide open than scouting reports suggest. Hard to glean much from a guy playing a handful of games in Danish juniors but he did lead U18 scoring there.
Comment 1 reply
I had Salminen ahead of Stillman but I also did not have him in my T25. In fact, Hughes was the only 2021 draftee I put in the top 25. That’s not out of the ordinary, necessarily, but I was pretty lukewarm on the draft outside of, uh, Luke and was deeply annoyed by the Stillman pick, even if he probably has a half decent shot to make the league as a bottom-sixer.
Comment 3 replies, 5 recs
I was definitely a bit too hard on Studenic in retrospect (had him around 40), but I’m also just not super impressed by his trajectory as a prospect and I’m surprised he’s in the T25. Maybe I’m wrong and he has a future as an energy winger in the NHL but I’ve never been enamored with his game.
Greer is Mike Sislo or Joe Whitney to me. Nice AHL player but I’m unconvinced it ever translates at this point. He got a few kicks of the can in Colorado and couldn’t do much with any of those opportunities. People might be reading a bit too much into a hot stretch in Binghamton.
Comment 3 recs
I still like Talvitie (as evidenced by me putting him in my T25), but this is an absolutely critical year for him IMO. He’s gotta carve out a solid role in Utica and produce or my hope for him will be just about dried up.
I was a Vukojevic skeptic when he was first drafted, but he’s definitely worked his way into a guy who I see with an NHL future (had him 24th). Not the easiest thing to jump to the AHL as a teenager and have a strong impact as a defenseman but he had a real solid year. I’m hopeful now that he can be a legitimate NHL support piece in the future. I prefer him to Okhotiuk and he’s even trending toward jumping Bahl on my depth chart if he continues his trajectory.