The league is officially on break, not just 23 teams. But All-Star weekend in Toronto begins tonight with the fantasy draft. The captains and their celebrity captain counterparts will select the teams for the 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday.
Then tomorrow night is the Skills, which will now feature the New York Islanders’ highly skilled All-Star, Mat Barzal. He gets a chance at [Dr. Evil voice] one million dollars.
In other news, I can’t believe it’s February already. I don’t know if I would say the season is winding down yet, but we’re on the back nine. Happy birthday Kyle Palmieri.
Into the All-Star break and as the third-to-last month in the regular season begins, the Islanders sit six points behind the Detroit Red Wings with a game in hand for the final Wild Card spot. But for third in the Metro, they are only four points with a game in hand back of the Philadelphia Flyers who maybe, just maybe, are starting that drop that everyone has said has been coming—although they’ve played well, and some folks have changed their minds about their playoff chances.
The models don’t give the Isles much of a chance to make it. But by contrast, the models love the Pittsburgh Penguins, who record a lot of expected goals but mostly because of Sidney Crosby, and their depth is still lacking. What I’m saying is that the models should be taken with a grain of salt if the Islanders’ play in four games under Patrick Roy is any indication.
- Barzal replaces Jack Hughes in the Skills. He probably should’ve been involved from the jump—instead of, for example, JT Miller—but at least he’s there at all. [Islanders | Newsday]
- It does seem like the Islanders will add Benoit Desrosiers to their staff after all. [TSN]
- Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the Bo Horvat trade. He’s been even better than advertised, on pace to shatter his career highs in points and assists. He and Barzal are a match made in heaven; their games seem perfectly tailored to one another. And now he feels settled into his new home. [NHL]
- Speaking of big trades, it doesn’t seem overly likely that Lou Lamoriello has a big move in him this year, but they’re still buyers. Here’s who they could target. [The Athletic]
- We finally made it: Scott Wheeler ranks the Islanders’ prospect pool dead last, primarily because of the lack of high-end talent, but there’s a lot of potential to get some depth pieces. [The Athletic]
- On the topic of prospects, the Bridgeport Report for this week. They’re not good.
- On the latest Island Ice, Andrew Gross chats with Pierre Turgeon and assesses the Isles at the break.
- It’s in February that we’ll get to watch the Islanders go outdoors for the first time in a decade.
This month we go outdoors. pic.twitter.com/uFVmrzaaOs— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 1, 2024
Last night’s NHL scores include the Senators kinda doing the Isles a favor by beating the Red Wings, but it took overtime.
- The Vancouver Canucks, much like last year, made the first big splash of trade deadline season, only this time they bought rather than sold the top prize. Pending UFA Elias Lindholm is a Canuck, with no extension in place, in exchange for a large package going to the Calgary Flames that features Andrei Kuzmenko, a touted prospect, and a first-rounder. [NHL | Sportsnet] It’s the second year in a row that the Canucks got up to some shenanigans just before the All-Star break and, just like last year with Horvat, involved moving a current All-Star.
- Ironically, CanucksArmy posted yesterday morning about why Vancouver shouldn’t go after Lindholm. [CanucksArmy] But other folks seem to think he’ll be a good fit. [The Athletic]
- Connor Hellebuyck’s attention to detail is what makes him an All-Star. [Sportsnet]
- I hope this doesn’t become too relevant to the Islanders, or at least not until the Draft actually rolls around, but in case they’re in the lottery: the top 32 prospects, according to a guy. [Sportsnet]
- The anonymous player poll, nothing too exciting or spicy though. They didn’t even publish the whacks on the refs. [The Athletic]
- The five players on the 2018 Canadian World Junior team who just so happened to take leaves of absences from their teams around the same time that the police told five players from that team to surrender to police have in fact now been arrested and charged with sexual assault: Lawyers for NHLers Carter Hart (Flyers), Michael McLeod (Devils), Cal Foote (Devils), and Dillon Dube (Flames), as well as Senators property Alex Formenton, confirmed the news. [Sportsnet] The charged players may also face sanctions beyond the criminal penalties. [Sportsnet]