Now a third of a way through the NHL Season, and this has been a season that has no shortage of storylines. This week, in particular, has drawn much attention to the National Hockey League as the league has moved one step closer to adding it's 32nd club, located in Seattle. Discussing that and more will be my eight thoughts from around the NHL.
#1 Seattle is one Step Closer to an NHL Team
After Seattle city-council approved a $600-Million dollar renovation to the KeyArena, it has become increasingly likely that Seattle will be the home of the NHL's 32nd franchise. The agreement has been made between the city of Seattle and Oak View Group. Oak View Group is co-founded by former MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke. Leiweke who is a shrewd and ambitious businessman has multiple ties to the NHL and it would not be shocking to hear the NHL announce a deal with Seattle in the upcoming months. Name ideas anyone?
#2 Carolina Hurricanes Ownership Deal is Complete
With the expansion to Las Vegas, the possible expansion to Seattle, and the newly constructed ownership deal of the Carolina Hurricanes, the NHL has been making much news in the business world. Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon and current owner of the Carolina Hurricanes Peter Karmanos pitched a presentation to the executive committee of the NHL board of governors Thursday morning. The sale would make Dundon the majority owner, but Karmanos will remain a minority owner. In what is good news for the NHL from a financial standpoint, the initial asking price of the team was slated around $400 Million dollars, but it was reported that the final sale figure bolstered up to $500 Million dollars. I'd love to be on Peter Karmanos' Christmas gift list.
#3 Vegas Golden Knights Can't Lose
In what was the Subban Standoff last night, younger brother Malcolm prevailed over P.K as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in a shootout. As some continue to wait for the Golden Knights to fall, they continue to win. While last night was an impressive road win, Vegas has been just average on the road sporting a 7-7-1 record. It is at home where Vegas has been so dangerous. The team has played their way to an 11-2 home record. Opposing teams not performing well in Las Vegas? Who would've thought.
#4 Key Injury News
With a game as physical as hockey, there are bound to be injuries through the course of an 82 game season. This week a few key players from across the NHL have accumulated. Ryan Johansen of the Nashville Predators has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury was placed on the injury list and is considered day-to-day. Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings has been out since October 18th after being cut by a skate to his lower-body is not close to skating yet. The Anaheim Ducks are expecting Ryan Getzlaf to return mid-December (fractured zygomatic bone). Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights who is battling with a concussion returned to practice this past Wednesday. Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been making very good process after suffering a lower-body injury. Murray feels like a return to the lineup will occur shortly. Lastly, Bo Horvat of the Vancouver Canucks has been diagnosed with a fractured ankle, he is week-to-week and his timeline for a return has been diagnosed at six-weeks.
#5 Long Island Love
The New York Islanders have been one of the most pleasant surprise stories from across the National Hockey League so far. The most glaring reason for their success this season has been the emergence of Matthew Barzal. Barzal has jumped onto the scene as a rookie and is proving to be one of the best second line centers in the league. Barzal has recorded Eight goals, and 19 assists so far this season and is currently playing on the team's top powerplay unit. The duo of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss has been good enough to keep the Islanders high-powered offense in games and the team currently sits in the top Wild Card spot of the Eastern Conference.
#6 Toronto Maple Leafs Mini Offensive Slump
After combining for 10 goals in two games against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers on the road, The Toronto Maple Leafs have only been able to muster two goals over their past two games. While it is just a small sample size, the offensive juggernaut that has been the Maple Leafs has not looked the same over that stretch. The Maple Leafs offense must regain it's prowess as the team has back-to-back meetings with Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid's Edmonton Oilers this weekend. During this slump, William Nylander has been the team's most impressive offensive player, but he has been seeing a lot of time on the Leafs fourth line. It is no secret that Head Coach Mike Babcock tinkers around with his lineup more than a Fantasy Hockey owner so it will be interesting to see where Nylander ends up in their lineup during these next two games. Patrick Marleau currently is sitting on 1,099 NHL points and is one away from 1,100. Also worth mentioning has been the play of Frederik Andersen. Andersen has been standing on his head for the team all season long as he leads the NHL in saves and minutes played. Hopefully, the defense has been chipping in and paying for his dinners. The man has earned a nice trip to The Keg.
#7 Artemi Panarin Fitting Quite Nicely
As the NHL season continues to roll along, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Chicago Blackhawks may have made a mistake in trading away forward Artemi Panarin. Panarin who recorded five assists last night against the New Jersey Devils and sits at 25 points this season (7 goals, 18 assists). The piece that went Chicago's way, Brandon Saad who sits on Chicago's top line has been good scoring 10 Goals and Five assists, but it is clear that his playmaking ability is inferior to Panarin's. The Columbus Blue Jackets are first in the Metropolitan Division with 37-points, and the Chicago Blackhawks are currently 11th in the Western Conference with 32-points.
#8 Andrei Vasilevskiy is an Elite Goaltender
Andrei Vasilevkskiy may go unnoticed in Tampa Bay. After all, the team bodes offensive weapons such as Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Vladislav Namestnikov to name a few. The Lightning also bode talent like Victor Hedman, Andrej Sustr, Mikhail Sergachev, and Anton Stralman on the back-end. With such a wealth of talent, Andrei Vasilevskiy does not get the credit he is due. To put it quite simply, Vasilevskiy has played like a top three goaltender in the NHL. Amongst starters with 10 or more starts, Vasilevskiy is first in Save Percentage, third in goals-against average, and fourth in saves. These numbers make him a no doubt top three goalie in the NHL this season. Although the numbers prove it, you do not often hear his name in conversation for possible early-season Vezina candidates. The obvious names, Sergei Bobrovsky and Jonathan Quick are both well-deserving, but there is an extremely strong case to be named for Andrei Vasilevskiy.