Hockey

Upon trading for Mark Stone, the Golden Knights signed him to an eight-year extension worth $9.5M. It’s in the top-20 among cap hits in the league, except everyone above Stone have either major hardware, 90+ point seasons, or something similar (aside from Jack Eichel, who at least has youth on his side). It caused me to write this. Surely this was another excessive move from the Knights, who in just to seasons had capped themselves out and cost themselves a player like Gusev or Erik Haula or one or two others.

Looks like a nailed another one.

Mark Stone has 12 points through the Knights first nine games, and what the Knights might have guesses is that getting out of Ottawa would boost his production and game. Stone only put up 11 points in his 18 games in Vegas last year with just five goals. But if you looked beneath the surface, you could see that if things came correct, Stone is going to bust out in serious fashion this season.

All of Stone’s metrics took off upon arrival in the desert and haven’t stopped this year. His individual shots per 60 minutes went from 6.15 in Ottawa to over 10 in Vegas. His individual expected goals from 0.65 to 0.9, and it’s over one this season. His attempts from 11.3 per 60 to 17.3 last year, and 14. 1 this year. Scoring chances or high-danger chances have both gone up nearly 50% at least.

The only reason Stone saw his production drop in Vegas last year is that he suffered from some wicked, fiendish S% treachery. He was shooting over 19% in Ottawa, and only managed 9.3% in Vegas. Well here comes the argument…we mean the correction, because he’s shooting over 20% so far this season. His career mark is 15%, so while he’s not this guy, you wouldn’t count on a huge drop-off fro the rest of the year.

So yeah, the 54 goals and 109 points he’s on pace for right now would probably be worth $9.5M, huh?

So while we want to make fun, it just might be the Knights are set up. The entire top six is locked in long -term here, which means it might not matter much what’s on the bottom six. Cody Eakin, Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves are all free agents next year, but those spots could be filled with kids or vets who only require $1M-$2M.

Sure, there’s some holes on defense. Holden and Merrill will be free agents, but as the Knights have already proven, their fates don’t really rest on the quality of their defense, John Merrill and Nick Holden are not going to sink any team with their departures, and if they do that team probably sucked anyway. Again, they could fill those spots with kids and probably be fine thanks to the top six and their style.

Perhaps George McPhee just deserves credit for identifying a player who was being somewhat wasted in a defensive system run by a coach who is a genius only in his own mind and thinking he would flourish in the way Vegas play. Hell, that’s what he did with his top line. It hasn’t spread to Max Pacioretty yet, but with the way Stone is playing, it might not be long now.

It also suggests we should just shut up.

Everything Else

While I sit here and still try and wrap my head around the Olli Maatta trade and failing terrible and falling deeper into my own ennui, a Justin Bruan trade didn’t help today. He’s at least twice as good as Maatta, didn’t cost any players, and is only signed for one season so if it didn’t work you can all part ways after the year, or if you have young players ready to ascend. He actually does what the Hawks must think Maatta does but doesn’t, and he wouldn’t have cost any players.

Be that as it may, and this isn’t only a Hawks problem, but if you want to solve any problem your team might have, why aren’t teams coming, and I mean sprinting, to pick the bones off the Golden Knights’ cap problems. We’ve gone over this before, but let’s review: George McPhee needed only two seasons to completely bork a completely blank cap situation.

The Knights are capped out. Not like, just sort of capped out. They literally have no space under a $83M salary cap, and it very well might turn into an $82M one. They have not re-signed William Karlsson. They have not re-signed, Nikita Gusev. They have not re-signed Tomas Nosek. They don’t have a backup goalie. And that’s before July 1st.

Sure, they could go over the cap by 10% until Opening night, which will help a little bit. Except Karlsson is going to gobble most of that up. And they could use David Clarkson’s LTIR. But as we learned with Hossa, using that in the offseason really bones you during the season where basically no one can get hurt. And you can’t make any trades.

No matter what here, the Knights have to move some people out. And they can’t take any players back. There can’t be a team more interested in taking only picks and prospects back in a trade, because they simply can’t cram in anyone else onto the roster. You should be dangling everything in front of them.

So why not call and see what Colin Miller would cost? Hell, aim higher and see if Shea Theodore can be pried loose. Someone’s gotta go. Find out who it is.

Or hell, let’s get nuts. Offer sheet Wild Bill. I don’t even know if he fits on the Hawks, but you can find a place for him on the top six. Go with your “3+1″model with Kampf as the 1. Offer him $6M a year because right now the Knights literally can’t match it. They have no space. Maybe Eakin or Haula are gettable to replace what you just lost in Kahun for a season. Who fucking cares? Get him over that barrel.

This isn’t even a Hawks complaint, because all the sharks should be circling around the Knights right now. If they’re such the darlings of the NHL and are so ahead of the curve, it stands to reason everyone wants their players. And they can’t keep all their players. Is there some rule I missed that the Knights can just spend whatever they want so everyone gets their comped rooms in the spring? It’s still hilarious that with a blank slate the Knights are in this spot. You would think it would have been near impossible. But McPhee made it look so easy.

Whatever, the Hawks made their move. I guess I’d better just be resigned to it. Ennui, here I come.

Everything Else

I guess it’s because NHL writers love the thought of going to Vegas on the company dime in the spring so much that no one ever bothers to question what George McPhee is doing. It’s kind of the same thing with Nashville, but to an even greater degree. And yet, if you look underneath the hood that NHL media is so happy to just settle for, you’ll see that this is one of the dumber contracts around and that in less than two seasons, George McPhee has completely throat-fucked a completely blank salary cap situation. That’s not easy to do!

So let’s go one at a time. While it hasn’t been made official, it was reported as soon as Stone was traded that he will ink an eight-year, $9.5M per extension with the Knights. Mark Stone is a fine player. Better than that, he’s a good player. Probably the highest-end second-line player you can find. Can even fill out your top line as he had to do in Ottawa for most of his career. All well and good.

Mark Stone has never scored more than 30 goals, and he’s likely to just barely scratch it this year for the first time. In a season when a bunch more are scoring 30 goals. Mark Stone has never bested 64 points, though he might, might get to 70 this year. But he’s never been anywhere near a point-per-game.

I suppose the arguments would be that Mark Stone’s metrics have been other-worldly, especially this season. and especially considering the team he’s been on. And I guess if you want to make the argument that those metrics on a team with better talent like Vegas will result in the numbers that would make $9.5M seem a good deal. It would also make Stone the first “analytic” contract in the sport’s history, and you’ll have to pardon me if I don’t think George “Punchy” McPhee is capable of that. Just a hunch.

Here’s just a smattering of forwards that Stone’s cap hit will be higher than: Sidney Crosby, Leon Draisaitl, Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Vladimir Tarasenko. Yes, grated, those players signed deals at different points in their careers or in different times. But you also would take any of them over Stone in a heartbeat.

Now, you may say that it’s the Knights, it’s an expansion team, and they can overpay guys. Here’s the thing, they can’t! For next year, the Knights have about $10M in space and that’s without an extension for William Karlsson, supposedly their #1 center. While he’s not shooting 25% anymore, he’s also their third-leading scorer, and on their top line, and you’d have to figure he’s going to gobble up at least 60% of that $10M in space. Fuck, if Stone gets $9.5M then why can’t Karlsson ask for that? After all, he actually does have a 30-goal season on his resume.

Depending on what Karlsson cashes in for, the four highest cap hits next year in Vegas will be to players over 30. Because that’s a solid strategy! Works out for everyone! And you may say they can jettison some salary. Except straight salary dumps don’t tend to benefit the team making them and would also erode the depth that the Knights’ success is built on, so I’m told. I guess you could move out Eakin and Tuch for a combined $8M, maybe throw in Colin Miller and Brayden McNabb for another $5.5M, and then sign Erik Karlsson, to give you five contracts to players over 30 that are your highest. Maybe that works for a season, maybe even two, and then what. And what does it matter if Marc-Andre Fleury suddenly starts playing like he’s 35 (which he kind of already is, unless you want to believe that three March games–two of which came against the Ducks and Canucks–undue his .892 February)? Now you’d have no third line or second pairing or goalie. The Sharks have Karlsson, four lines, three pairings, but because of their goaltending might be a second-round washout. So you’re going to do it with less but better than the Sharks next year there, McPhee baby?

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! And hey, maybe they spasm another run in the spring while beating the Sharks and Flames and maybe even on to the Final again and all the writers get what they’re after anyway. Or maybe they get clubbed by San Jose in the first round and then have a top-heavy and old roster next year, with no cap space. In their third season. That’s some trick.

 

Everything Else

Perhaps it’s just sour grapes, and lord knows our vineyard is awash with those. But we were kind of surprised that the Vegas Golden Knights, in less than two years of existence, have become a cap-team. And hey, we guess you can’t argue with the results. A Cup final and what looks to be a chance at another deep run this spring. That’s what a cap team should do. Even if most of it is on the back of a resurgent Marc-Andre Fleury. Still, looking at some of these deals, and what else he might hand out soon, you can’t help but wonder if George McPhee didn’t cock this up royally. And if he doesn’t hamstring the Knights going forward from here.

Some of these contracts are a bit bewildering. Nate Schmidt will see his extension kick in next year at a cap-hit of $5.9M. And ok, fair, he’s 27 and in his prime. He’s also never bettered last year’s 38 points. He’s scoring at a higher pace this year, though won’t get to that thanks to his ridiculous suspension. But for $6 million a year? That’ll give him a higher cap-hit than Matt Niskanen, who has bettered Schmidt’s career-high in points twice and the Caps thought was more worth keeping than Schmidt was. And then promptly beat the Knights in the Final. It’s the same as Matt Dumba, who scored 50 points last year and was well on his way to doing so again before getting hurt this year. It’s more than Dougie Hamilton. Schmidt’s a nice player to have, but at that rate?

So ok, traded for Max Pacioretty. Fine, Knights needed a second line after last year’s foray. Signed him for four more years at the age of 30, and Patches has 12 goals. Sure, Paul Stastny has been hurt most of the year, but Pacioretty has scored without a center in Montreal before. And he only put up 17 goals last year (in 64 games). Was maybe taking a half of a season before committing the worst idea?

Shea Theodore is getting $5.2M for the next seven years. And yes, he’s only 23. Maybe a couple years in this looks a steal. Except he was coming out of his entry-level deal, and hasn’t shown to be that dynamic of a force out from the back yet. He’s good. Is he worth quite this?

Some of this is just matter of degrees. You want players like Schmidt and Theodore on your team. Pacioretty seemed a pretty decent risk given his track record. Stastny has always been injury-prone, but maybe you take that chance, even if he’s never really changed any team he’s been on drastically.

And yet with a completely blank slate, the Knights will only have about $11M in space after the season. And a good portion of that will have to go to William Karlsson. That should make for a fascinating negotiation. Karlsson is only on pace for about 25 goals or so, which is what he probably is long-term. But his 43-goal season of last year will still be prominent in the memory of his agent. He’s restricted, so will McPhee hold the line and try to keep him as close to the $5M per year he gets now? Or will he push that closer to $8 or $9M? Will that force out meaningful depth players like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who is unrestricted and certainly looking for better than $1.4M? Oscar Lindberg? Good thing they’ll lose that David Clarkson money the summer after next season.

That’s what McPhee appears to be aiming for. In the summer of 2020, the Knights will have some $30M in space or more once Clarkson’s insurance policy goes away, and Nick Holden, Erik Haula, Cody Eakin, and Ryan Reaves come off the books. Maybe they’ll run at Taylor Hall to make up for the decaying Pacioretty at that point.

That’s the thing about the Knights. They’re not terribly young. Only Theodore and Alex Tuch look poised to be built around long-term. Marchessault is 28. Smith is 27. And if you think that lasts forever, just look at Pacioretty, who had a bigger resume than them before turning 30.

But hey, they made their splash. It was a much bigger one than anyone could have anticipated. Still, when you have no payroll whatsoever 18 months ago, and now this, one wonders how much longer the magic will last.

 

Game #47 Preview Suite

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There’s a school of thought that hockey players, especially forwards, peak at the age 0f 27. Some punch through that, such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, perhaps Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, and this could go on. But for the most part, it’s true. Max Pacioretty was thought to be a player who wouldn’t fall victim to that. Maybe we all should have been paying more attention.

Since he came into the league full-time in 2011, Patches is 9th in the league in goals. He trails Ovechkin, Stamkos, Tavares, Pavelski, Seguin, Benn, Malkin, and Kane. Those are obviously some names. When one of the top-10 scorers in the league goes on the market, teams pay attention.

More impressively, Pacioretty got there playing without any prime centers in Montreal. Some names that Patches had to run with are David Desharnais, an aging Thomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk, Phillip Danault, and Andrew Shaw (boy that guy really needs to write a book on how to fall upwards). And yet Pacioretty produced.

But dig a little deeper, and the warning signs are there. This is the fourth-straight season that Pacioretty’s attempts per game have dropped. Same story with his shots-on-goal per game. And it’s the same with his individual expected goals per 60 minutes of even-strength time.

Patches has been able to overcome that so far this season by rocking a much higher shooting-percentage than he has in a few years, of 11.3 at evens, which is his highest since 2013-2014, and overall 15.2% which would be a career-high. But he’s doing that with worse shots. That’s not a sustainable model. Then again, Cody Eakin isn’t exactly a huge improvement over the mishmash of whatits he had in Montreal.

Which really makes one worry about the four next years when he’ll be making $7 million. That takes him to 34 years old, or seven years past his prime. It could get icky.

As we said with the contract that Marc-Andre Fleury got when the Knights were in Chicago, just because GM George McPhee had all the cap space in the world to throw around didn’t mean he had to. Patches still qualifies as one of the best scorers in the game, but that has a shelf-life. Perhaps Tavares was never going to listen to him, though he presents the same problem as Pacioretty in that he plays a slower game. Doesn’t seem to be affecting him in Toronto, though. What about Erik Karlsson? Or waiting for Panarin?

McPhee had such a cushion that he’ll get out of it. Only the raise to William Karlsson is on the horizon, and everyone else is pretty much set. The Knights will have $11 million in space in the summer as of now, minus whatever raise Wild Bill gets. Two years from now Cody Eakin and Ryan Reaves are off the books. But there might not be too many more contracts for him to hand out before it’s trouble.

None of this means that Pacioretty is going to be a detriment. He’ll probably get a team 20-25 goals for another few years simply because he can be a bad-shot maker. Hell, get him a prime center some day and it might juice him a little. He’s just not going to be, or likely isn’t, what the Knights had hoped they had traded for.

 

Game #30 Preview Suite

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You’d be tempted to accuse the Knights and Marc-Andre Fleury of falling into the famous “Free Agent Year” trap, except that last year Fleury wasn’t in his free agent year. It seems unique to hockey that you have to sign a player to an extension a full season before he gets to free agency, as the dreaded “distraction” of a contract negotiation is feared to be something akin to Godzilla to the fleeing Japanese of a regular season and team. That’s how we got here with Brent Seabrook, after all. You’d think you’d want to grow the sample size before committing money to anyone aging and/or coming off a performance out of line with the rest of their career. But the NHL has always been where logic goes to die.

What was clear after last season is that Flower had a career season. His .927 SV% over the year was the best he’d accomplished by six points, which was two seasons previous in Pittsburgh, a season that saw him give way to Matt Murray late anyway. While Fleury had saved himself after his playoff meltdowns earlier in the decade, .927 was never going to be the norm.

NHL GMs seem to bathe in the good feelings of a team more than any others though, and because everything around the Knights was essentially Prozac from last spring on, he couldn’t help but hand Fleury three more years at $7M. No waiting around to see if Fleury could match that performance. No being sure. No thought that maybe at age 34 that was as good as it was going to get for Fleury.

And then you get what we have now.

Fleury has been terrible for most of this season, though has rebounded the last two games with shutouts to vault his SV% to .913 for the season. It was far below that before, at .901. What was more indicting for Fleury is that the Knights have been defensively more sound in front of him than they were last year. By some margin, as well. They’re giving up six attempts less per game at even strength, three shots less, and their xGA/60 dropped from 2.26 last season to 2.09. Which is why Fleury’s expected-save-percentage at evens went from .920 last year to .923 this year. But his actual SV% at evens went from .931 to .910.

Perhaps Fleury’s back-to-back shutouts signal a turnaround, and all will be well on The Strip once again. And maybe most think that this is the Knights, and the cap space he’s eating up doesn’t matter because they have all of the space in the world thanks to their expansion status. Not so, fucko…

After extensions to Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, the acquisitions of Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny, the Knights only have about $7 million in space next year with just 14 players signed. And that’s before a major raise for William Karlsson, despite his restricted status. He won’t be getting a bridge deal, needless to say. He’s at $5.2M per year now. What’s coming? $7M? $8M? That $7M they’re handing to Fleury next year could actually be costly.

Maybe Fleury has found the Pekka Rinne fountain of youth, which the Predators are also banking on. Goalies certainly do have a different aging curve than skaters. However, in the past 20 years there have only been eight seasons where a goalie put up a .920+ SV% after the age of 35, and only Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas did it twice. And as we know, Tim Thomas’s career didn’t really start until he was 30. Fleury has been in the league since he was a teenager. Is it the miles instead of malaise? 800 starts seems like a lot, and he’ll cross that threshold either this year or the beginning of next.

It was a beautiful dream last year. Perhaps it’s best to not snort that when trying to figure out the future.

 

 

Game #25 Preview Suite

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In the end, what everyone hated or loved about the Vegas Golden Knights is that they were a mirror. When you watched them, you saw everything that this league is, good and bad.

On the bad side, the Knights exhibited for all that basically, no one knows shit and that it can be totally random. While those in the media were so quick to dub George “Tiger Punch” McPhee a genius–this being the same guy who hired Dale Hunter and Adam Oates in Washington, thus ruining a good three to four years of Alex Ovechkin’s prime–all he did was take advantage of a system that wouldn’t allow GMs to keep all the talent they’d drafted. And that system was in place because too many teams were too dumb to acquire a lot of talent. Sure, he was able to grift a couple GMs who had gone to cottage to huff white-out a bit early (hi Dale! Hi Bob! Say, why did all these guys used to work for the Hawks?), but it wasn’t he who conjured a .928 season out of Marc-Andre Fleury or a 25 SH% out of Wild Bill Karlsson (and we here eagerly await Karlsson’s 22-goal season next year with only 648 articles entitled “What’s Wrong With William Karlsson,” which of course no one will say the answer is “He’s William Karlsson, for fuck’s sake).

No, when you watched the Knights it became clear just how random the sport is. Find a goalie or two that spasm a .925+ SV% for no reason other than the gods enjoy a good chuckle now and then and a couple guys to shoot the lights out and you’re halfway there. Throw in some spice of being in a division where every goddamn team is built to be “tough to play against” (i.e. dumb and slow) and just skate by them and then anything can happen. A few bounces, a few one-goal wins, and suddenly you’re the most magical team this side of…. well, any MLS expansion team.

And if you can garnish it all with the fact that apparently no NHL player had ever heard of Las Vegas before, and every opponent showed up to your arena looking like Mia Wallace after she got into Vincent’s coat pocket and well, the sky’s the goddamn limit, isn’t it?

Watch the Knights long enough, and unless you were a fan of a certain few teams, you could see just how stupid your team was run. The Knights ran over the Kings, who are on their fourth consecutive season of trying to ice a rec rugby team, and then they could tell everyone they play rugby within the first three minutes of any conversation because that’s apparently what rugby players do in this country (and if you ever meet a rugby playing vegan, run for the hills, friendo). They got to show the Sharks just how old they are, as Pete DeBoer replaced their only young d-man with whatever wasn’t falling off of Paul Martin, and whatever was.

Then came the Jets, who actually rolled them for a fair amount but Fleury snorted an infinity stone or something and everyone chalked it up to “magic.” Of course, a series later and everything looked exactly as it did against the Jets except Fleury was doing a reasonable impression of muppet running an Iron Man (i.e. being Marc-Andre Fleury circa 2010-2016) and suddenly they’re getting their magical, Cinderella ass paddled (insert your Cinderella pansexual fanfic here).

And yes, even the architect of all this, Gerard Gallant, had his brain drip out his ear in the final round. Anyone who’s surprised by this must’ve never watched him play for the Red Wings, where during his 11-year career he actually touched the puck 12 times. But hey, this is the NHL, if you’ve got a leathered up face, were a grinder once upon a time, and have some sort of weird nickname, the press will slather you in their saliva. So there’s Jack Adams winner-elect putting out Ryan Reaves, not once but twice, as the extra-attacker when down a goal. Why? Because he had managed to rhino-hump his way into two goals into two games. I’m sure James Neal didn’t consider Marty McSorley-ing his coach at all during this stretch. He scratched David Perron, who granted really does suck but did manage to put up 66 points this year in a series where no one but the top line could do anything other than stare at the lights. And this is the best coach during the season. #EndHockey.

All of it led the hockey world declaring Vegas as the best new hockey market, and you’re not really a hockey town until Pierre McGuire declares “I haven’t heard a building this loud all spring…” and then NBC edits out the part where he concludes that sentence with, “…except for Mississauga last week when they were playing Sudbury!” Give the ash-white Canadian media three days anywhere where it’s warm and has running water, because wherever they’re from assuredly doesn’t, and suddenly you’re Hockey Mecca.

While the pregame antics were cute, much like every other Vegas act it’s going to feel camp real soon. Especially when this team has 92 points next year at best and Fleury’s SV% is .907. Sure, Vegas is going to be a free agent destination given it’s lack of state income tax and the climate. How’s that working out for the Panthers? Your glorious pre-game Knight stabbing some dude waving a flag (how tough!) is going to look a little different when it’s in front of 9,000 Flames fans and that’s it.

So thank you, Knights, for showing everyone what we all knew about the league and hockey all along. It doesn’t make sense, there is no system to it, and just about anything can happen. And it’s going to happen to you soon, like trading Karlsson for a 2nd round pick at best in two years.

Everything Else

You can’t distill the Knights to just one surprise. They’re all over the place. At least Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith had flashed previous NHL scoring ability. Marc-Andre Fleury had been a good goalie before. Erik Haula had scored big goals in Minnesota. We could go on.

But it’s probably safe to say no one saw William Karlsson coming.

Karlsson was a second round pick for the Ducks, so he did come with some pedigree but not like top-10 stuff. He was a useful player in Columbus, a third- or fourth-line center who did enough to stay in the lineup. But he never threatened to rise above Alex Wennberg or Brandon Dubinsky in the pecking order. When it came time for the expansion draft, due to no-trade clauses and standing the Jackets basically had to choose between Boone Jenner and William Karlsson. Seeing as how Jenner has a 30-goal season on his resume, it didn’t seem like there was much of a decision.

So off Karlsson went, and 29 goals later the Jackets might just be wondering if they hadn’t fucked up royal.

There’s no point in going any further in discussing Karlsson without mentioning his shooting-percentage of 25%. That’s simply ludicrous and shouldn’t have even been sustainable this long. And that’s not even power play boosted, as that’s his SH% at even-strength. If the Knights think this will be the norm from here on out, they’re going to be sorely mistaken and sorry they’re tossing god knows how many millions at Karlsson. We’ll circle back to this.

Certainly, there are leaps in all of Karlsson’s numbers simply because he’s playing top line minutes and assignments. He’s starting more in the offensive zone than he ever has, which makes sense because you want him, Smith, and Marchessault near the other goal as often as possible.

What’s interesting about Karlsson’s season is that he’s not really averaging more attempts per 60 than he did in Columbus. He’s just out there more, so there’s more shots. He actually averaged more shots per 60 in his rookie year in Ohio. What has gone up is his individual expected goals per 60, which means those shots are coming from way better areas. That number has leapt up by 50% from the previous season. That wouldn’t excuse a 100% increase of his career-high shooting percentage, or a 500% increase from last year’s, but an increase would scan.

To be fair to Karlsson, he is facing by far tougher competition than he ever has, as you’d expect. And yet he keeps scoring. And it wasn’t one binge. He had 16 points in November, 10 in December, 11 in January, and four so far in six February games. He’s not riding just a hot start or a month of anger or something.

What the Knights have to figure out is how much of this is a mirage. Karlsson will be a RFA after the season, so they have all the leverage. Karlsson’s agent will point to what looks to be a 60-point season, his age of 25, and say he’s due $6 million or something. But the Knights don’t need to, nor should they, pay him that. If anyone needed a bridge deal, it’s probably Karlsson. If you’re the Knights, you have to know what he looks like when he’s not shooting 25%, a mark that comfortably leads the whole league by three percentage points. No one’s coming with an offer sheet, we know that. The Knights need to slow play this.

Not that the Knights don’t have a ton of cap space, or a wealth of guys they need to pay. They’ve locked up Marchessault. But other than Karlsson only James Neal and David Perron are due new deals, and neither figures to be around when the Knights are doing this for a real (yes, the bubble will pop next year. It simply has to). We’ll see what George McPhee has in store, which is probably something dumb.

 

Game #57 Preview

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Game Time: 6:00PM Central
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Politics Is All One Big Ass Blast: Japer’s Rink, Russian Machine Never Breaks

With the Colorado Avalanche winning last night and usurping the top spot in the division, the Hawks are now sealed into the #3 seed in the Central Division and will start the playoffs on the road. However, there are still two games left in the regular season, the penultimate of which will take place tonight in D.C. against the already eliminated Capitals. Exhibition hockey in April. Wonderful.