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Ask Me Anything: How to fix your eliminated team

What’s subsequent for all of the non-playoff groups? This mailbag tackles the sport plans for the Flames, Rangers, Blackhawks and extra.

Hey people. The Ask Me Anything Mailbag returns…briefly. After this one, I’ll take a break till it’s nearly draft time. The theme this week: eliminated groups. Your seasons ended lower than per week in the past, and the injuries are nonetheless contemporary, so let’s see if I can give you some written ointment – or salt, relying on your team’s outlook.

I obtained a handful of draft questions however will shelve these for the following instalment. This AMA is extra about sorting by means of the eliminated groups’ wreckage and attempting to make sense of it. Here we go!

Ben Thielmann (@BenThielmann41) asks…

Should Calgary make some huge strikes or keep the course and hope their PDO regresses to the imply? If you had been Brad Treliving, would you progress Sam Bennett or proceed to be affected person?

Hey Ben. The Flames had been one of the confounding groups this season, little doubt, particularly as a result of they regarded fairly darned good for sure stretches. What went flawed?

Mike Smith’s damage had a significant impression on the yr. When he harm his groin with one second left in a Feb. 11 sport, he was 23-16-6 with a .921 save share and was extensively thought of Calgary’s MVP to that time. The Flames had been 29-19-Eight and squarely within the playoff combine. He missed a month, and the Flames went 6-5-2. They had been ok not to fall out of the race, however did Smith come again too quickly? He wasn’t the identical goalie, ending the yr 2-6-Zero with an .880 SP in eight appearances post-injury.

Another main hindrance on Calgary’s stretch run: first-line middle Sean Monahan’s full physique breakdown. The grotesque damage report this week revealed he wanted 4 surgical procedures – two hip procedures, reconstructive wrist surgical procedure and groin surgical procedure. Well, geez, no surprise he solely scored 4 targets in his closing 21 video games earlier than being shut down. He may barely grip his stick. Toss in concussions for Matthew Tkachuk and T.J. Brodie and it’s fairly comprehensible why the underside fell out for Calgary within the second half. And you’re proper about Calgary’s PDO, Brad. It was bottom-three (adjusted) within the NHL, and the Flames had been top-three in possession, so that they did a lot proper this yr.

I thus wouldn’t panic if I had been Treliving. That stated, I wouldn’t sit on my palms, both. This team wants some work, for positive, particularly on the ability play. The Flames had been high heavy as soon as once more this yr, relying an excessive amount of on their glorious high two traces, and I believe it’s time to discover a commerce for an impression ahead. Calgary has nice depth on protection – and never simply because the NHL degree with Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic. The Flames have some legit prospects coming in Juuso Valimaki, Adam Fox and Rasmus Andersson. Valimaki ranks as our No. 16 total prospect in Future Watch 2018, and Fox sits 52nd. Between them and goaltending prospects Tyler Parsons and Jon Gillies, the Flames look good from the web out.

At ahead, although: not a lot assist coming. Our scouting panel ranked one Calgary ahead prospect within the high 100: Dillon Dube at 87th. The Flames thus want to make an enormous splash. It may come on the draft relying on how the lottery balls play out, because the 2018 class has some actually, actually promising forwards within the projected high 5, from Andrei Svechnikov to Filip Zadina to Matthew’s brother Brady Tkachuk.

But I additionally surprise if Treliving ought to dangle a blueliner – Brodie? – in a hockey commerce for a ahead who may help, assuming one or each of Valimaki or Andersson is prepared to ascend to a full-time job out of camp subsequent fall. As for Bennett: I’d be tempted to promote earlier than his worth dips an excessive amount of additional. We have to cease sugarcoating it: Bennett was drafted fourth total in 2014, forward of William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers and David Pastrnak, and Bennett can’t even escape Calgary’s backside six. That draft was 4 years in the past. He’s a bust relative to expectation. That doesn’t imply he can’t nonetheless have profession, and loads of groups would have curiosity in jumpstarting it since he’s simply 21 (youthful than Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov, for instance). But I’d money in that chip whereas it nonetheless has worth. Even if Bennett turns into a 25-goal scorer sometime, he was supposed to be far more than that.

SP19hockey (@SP19hockey) asks…

How quickly would you have got fired Garth Snow?

Loaded query! I’ll reply as politely as I can. Snow has a weird mystique about him, doesn’t he? Very secretive and in some way ready to maintain down his job yr after yr.

Snow has manned the Isles GM place 12 seasons, with 4 playoff berths and one sequence victory to present for it. As for once I would’ve axed him: possibly following the 2013-14 season, after the Isles went from their first playoff berth with John Tavares in 2012-13 to again out of the playoffs? Snow additionally made the ill-fated Nino Niederreiter commerce earlier than the 2013-14 season. Then once more, Tavares blew out his knee within the 2014 Olympics, so Snow had an excuse for the playoff miss.

Even if he obtained a keep of execution that yr, I’m surprised that he stored his job after final season, through which the Andrew Ladd signing proved completely disastrous and the team slid out of the post-season after two straight years within the playoffs and searching like fringe contenders.

At this level I don’t know what it’ll take for Snow to get his strolling papers. I’m really at a loss. Maybe failing to re-sign Tavares this summer time would do the trick? That stated, Snow spoke fairly confidently about constructing a Cup contender in his end-of-season presser. That appears like somebody anticipating to have Tavares again, and I nonetheless suppose Tavares staying is a greater wager than Tavares leaving. The emergence of Calder Trophy shoo-in Mathew Barzal supplies hope, as does the Belmont Park enviornment deal, over which Tavares was very publicly ecstatic. So, deserved or not, Snow isn’t performed utilizing up all his lives. I want I had a greater reply for you, however I don’t know if there’s a subject within the sport that stumps me greater than this one.

Long Sean Silvers (@seanms22) asks…

Who’s the very best match because the New York Rangers’ subsequent coach and/or who’s essentially the most lifelike possibility?

Hey Long Sean. Nice identify, haha. To me, the very best clue as to the course Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather go is the letter they despatched to their followers in February, vowing to fix the team and add “young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character.” Alain Vigneault is named a veterans’ coach, a man who defers to his greybeards, so he was clearly not match to helm the ship anymore given the Rangers’ shift in mantra. The subsequent teaching rent will thus doubtless be somebody who works properly with younger gamers.

A fast and straightforward place to look can be Dan Bylsma, who flamed out in Buffalo however elevated a younger Pittsburgh Penguins core to championship standing in 2009. But that doesn’t appear artistic sufficient to me. My intestine says a retread isn’t the way in which to go if the Rangers really need to change their philosophy. The Rangers may take a look at Keith McCambridge, coach of their AHL affiliate, however he doesn’t have a sterling monitor document even at that degree.

The man I’d flip my sights to is Sheldon Keefe, coach of the Toronto Marlies. He’s taken over Travis Green’s unofficial title of “best coach not in the NHL,” has helped flip the Marlies right into a powerhouse and is totally blocked by Mike Babcock’s eight-year deal on the NHL degree. Keefe appears prepared for prime time, particularly if he can get the Marlies a Calder Cup win this yr. Given the success of Dave Hakstol coming over from the NCAA ranks lately, I wouldn’t be stunned to see the Rangers take an extended take a look at huge names like Boston U’s David Quinn or Denver’s Jim Montgomery. But to me, Keefe is the man. Especially if he wins a championship with the Marlies this spring, he’ll have completely nothing left to accomplish in that league and will have a lineup of NHL suitors.

Richard Russell (@redarizona13) asks…

Can the Blackhawks rebuild in a pair seasons? Or have they reached the purpose the place their core of gamers is ageing out and their contracts restrict their capacity to rebuild?

I believe Hawks followers should put together for an extended experience to the underside of the rollercoaster. Normally, after a playoff miss, it’s pure for a team to begin pondering rebuild, however when that team is loaded with large, prohibitive contracts, it’s type of caught. We’ve seen how lengthy it’s taking and can take the Detroit Red Wings to rebuild, as Ken Holland handed out so many monster, impossible-to-move offers that he can’t commerce them and backside out correctly, and Chicago may discover itself in an identical scenario.

Brent Seabrook? Six years left at a $6.88-million cap hit, and he turns 33 subsequent week. That contract goes nowhere given how a lot time period is left, and good luck shopping for it out – you’d be paying Seabrook by means of 2029-30, and the primary six years of the buyout would carry monster cap hits. Duncan Keith: nonetheless a vital member of the blueline, however 35 subsequent season and doubtless not value 5 extra seasons at $5.54 million. Even Jonathan Toews, whose offense has dried up lately, in all probability isn’t incomes each penny of his $10.5-million cap hit anymore.

But these guys are (a) Chicago establishments and (b) nearly unimaginable to commerce even should you needed to, that means the Hawks have to maintain them and thus will stay aggressive sufficient to keep on the playoff fringe for a number of seasons. Because they had been so good for thus lengthy, the Hawks traded away a bunch of picks and prospects through the years and thus have one of many league’s weaker farm crops. Alex DeBrincat made his splash this yr, however there isn’t one other high-ceiling man coming proper now. Our panel of NHL scouts rated Chicago’s prospects 29th out of 31 NHL groups in Future Watch 2018, and the Hawks’ finest prospect, blueliner Henrik Jokiharju, ranks simply 68th total.

So Chicago can’t actually rebuild. It additionally doesn’t have the cap area to maintain the pedal on the medal and take a look at to enhance quickly by way of signings. Essentially, GM Stan Bowman simply has to present some actual smarts to dig his method out of this. That means intelligent trades, sleeper signings and savvy drafting. Hey – the Hawks have performed it earlier than, sneaking Artemi Panarin over from the KHL, so it’s not unimaginable. But it seems like Chicago’s superb run is over. There’s nothing flawed with that. Bowman summed it up in an interview for a narrative I did final yr on how to construct a champion:

“We realized who makes our team go, and it’s been those self same six, seven, eight guys, they usually make some huge cash and rightfully so.  When they accomplish loads…good issues occur when your team performs properly and also you win Stanley Cups and your gamers play nice. Then they’re going to make some huge cash. And they need to.

“But then the challenge is, how do you make that work? And the way you make that work is to have the right guys around them. It’s sort of been a revolving door, but that’s because as some of those players come in and have some success, then they have to get paid, and you can either fit them in or you’ve got to move them out. And that’s what we’ve done.”

Bowman understood that gamers have to be financially rewarded for fulfillment. It’s solely truthful. That meant he had to observe that top-heavy mannequin of continually buying and selling out help gamers and paying his huge stars. It labored – till the large stars began to age. Now that Keith and Toews, for instance, aren’t enjoying at elite ranges anymore, the mannequin collapses, as you’re paying an excessive amount of cash for guys who can now not carry your team to a championship. We may even see the identical factor occur to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a couple of years as soon as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin exit their primes, although it typically seems like they’ll be dominating till they’re 40.

And that’s completely OK. It was completely value it for the Hawks, and it’s at the moment value it for the Penguins, whose farm system is simply as gutted. But now Chicago in all probability has to languish in mediocrity for a couple of years. A full rebuild doesn’t appear potential until the Hawks get a draft lottery miracle and pull the highest ping-pong ball. You by no means know…

Aaron Steward (@Stew_Chains) asks…

Do the Blues have a legit shot at John Tavares? Who else may they take a look at to fill their DESPERATE want for a top-six ahead? Thanks!

Hey Aaron. From a pure hockey/market standpoint, sure, I believe the Blues may very well be a match. Tavares will need a company with championship upside and, I consider, a market that can assist him retain a sure diploma of anonymity. He isn’t a shrinking violet, however he’s no P.Ok. Subban, both. I thus don’t purchase any crackpot idea about Tavares signing in Montreal, Toronto or any Canadian metropolis. Too a lot highlight. I consider the New Jersey Devils are his finest match if he doesn’t stick with the Isles – however the Blues examine off loads of bins, too. It can be thrilling to see, for instance, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz working on one line as a tandem, with Tavares and Vladimir Tarasenko collectively. Anders Lee is underrated ­– however Tavares additionally elevated him. Would Tarasenko be a 50-goal scorer on Tavares’ line? Maybe.

As for the cap scenario, the Blues aren’t in terrible form. The silver lining to Robby Fabbri tearing his ACL in his RFA yr is that he’s more likely to earn a bridge contract now and can doubtless carry half the cap hit he would have after a full, productive season. Sturdy stay-at-home blueliner Joel Edmundson is an RFA and deserves a medium-to-long-term deal however gained’t completely break the financial institution. The Blues don’t have any monster RFA pacts to fear about within the subsequent couple summers, as Schwartz, Tarasenko and Colton Parayko have all inked their extensions already, and Jay Bouwmeester’s $5.four million comes off the books in another summer time when he’s a UFA.

So sure, the Blues theoretically have some cash to play with and will afford to wade into the Tavares waters if the cap expands close to the $80-million vary. If they fail, nonetheless, and Tavares indicators elsewhere, don’t be discouraged. I actually just like the Blues as a bounce-back team subsequent yr, particularly as a result of they’ve a lot assist coming to their top-six ahead group. Fabbri’s return seems like a free participant acquisition, and the Blues have a Big Four of high-end prospects at ahead: Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Klim Kostin and the already-arrived Tage Thompson. Those guys have legit top-six capacity, and it wouldn’t be remotely shocking to see not less than two of them break camp with St. Louis subsequent yr. They all have completely different ability units, however every is proficient sufficient to make an impression straight away and contend for the Calder Trophy. Thomas’ two-way play could be very mature, whereas Kostin has gotten a yr of AHL seasoning, so I like each their probabilities of making the soar in 2018-19. The Blues may shock lots of people, with or with out Tavares.

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