As we are just days away from the beginning of the season, and as I think about the absolute carnage the pandemic has wrought upon my physical and mental health and free time, I find myself wondering: “Which NHL players will be surprisingly unprepared or checked out?”
When the NHL canceled a whole season in 2004-05, a Hall of Famer — never a fitness freak — made it just a handful of games before his own buddy behind the bench essentially told him, “retire, Jet.”
This preseason we already saw Corey Crawford retire after the realization that restarting with the Devils after a career as a Blackhawk looked, well, not such a good idea after all. (Note: I’m projecting. I don’t know the guy but it would be understandable.) Joe Thornton is ageless and Determined but otherwise a guy of his profile ought to be a candidate for slowing down. So who do you think will show the rust and lack of offseason drive?
Meanwhile, oh yeah! As you surely heard, Mathew Barzal finally signed. It’s a punt to a friendlier cap time for both sides, while still acknowledging his significance to the team.
- It’s an average/cap hit of $7 million but crests with a $10 million salary in Year 3, which is pretty clearly the territory he and his agent wanted to be in if this were a normal year. [Post]
- Key quote reported in multiple outlets from Barzal’s media Zoom: “I would have had no problem signing a long-term deal. This is nothing my agent, Lou or the league has ever had to deal with.” He gets it.
- After re-signing Barzal, what’s next? Managing the cap, roster, and waivers to maximize Boychuk’s LTIR impact. [Athletic]
- NEW! Where the team stands at all positions ahead of the dread Cut Down Day. In other words, expect to see a buncha dudes on waivers today. [Athletic]
- “Lamoriello has tried to move one of Thomas Hickey or Leo Komarov – ... a deal involving Hickey was close with Detroit earlier in the week – so [he may pull] something off by the time rosters are due this Tuesday.” Also, no UFA update on Michael Grabner. [Fourth Period]
- The goalie plan, a Casey Cizikas scare, and waivers incoming. [Newsday]
- Beauvillier, Brock and Bailey are looking to build off of 2020. Aren’t we all. [Post]
- The Hockey Night in New York podcast spoke with Brian Compton and celebrated the return of Barzal. [Twitch]
- Who are the betting favorites? How does the whole NHL stack up? I don’t know jack about gambling, but if I put money on anything I’d ask our man Mike Leboff, who manages to be astute and entertaining at the same time. [Action Network]
Barzal was back in practice, so it’s only right that his teammates “make it look mean”:
But seriously, he was missed. All the hugs:
- What are the new rules? How will the season look? Is this thing on? General things to know about the 56-game, 2021-21 season. [ESPN]
- Preseason predictions? Everyone loves the Avalanche. [NHL]
- Here are the NHL’s top 10 players, according to a person making a list titled as such. [NHL]
- The Canucks had a Covid exposure scare but will be back on ice Monday. [Sportsnet]
- So yeah, Corey Crawford’s personal day? It became a retirement. [NHL]
- The Canadiens’ Alexander Romanov is, apparently, unflinching. [Sportsnet]
- East Division (that’s ours) Preview: In which every headline is basically “These two guys will face each other eight/nine times!” [NHL]
- How a player becomes his team’s locker room DJ. [Sportsnet]
- Jesper Bratt re-signed with the Devils for two years, so there’s that. [TSN]