Mailbag: Zegras’ opportunity with the Ducks, West Division playoff teams

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How many games do you see Trevor Zegras playing for the Anaheim Ducks this season? – @ Mkton31

Games are hard to predict, but Zegras has an opportunity to make an impact this season, and I’m not just saying that because of his brilliant play helping the United States to win the 2021 World Junior Championship. IIHF, when he was running the tournament. with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in seven games. Ducks need help scoring; forward Adam Henrique led them last season with 43 points, the lowest among an NHL team’s top scorers. Zegras’ hands and manner of playing should give him an advantage whenever he is allowed to enter the ice in Anaheim. The 19-year-old forward is also versatile enough to be able to play on the wing or in the center, which also gives him an advantage. And he will come back with momentum after playing important minutes in important matches at the World Juniors. However, he wasn’t playing NHL games, which is why the Ducks may want to use a place on the cab squad for Zegras at the start of the season so he can practice with the players. of the NHL and get used to the rhythm. It would be his version of NHL training camp. When it’s ready, and it could be quickly, they can move it to the list and see what they have. They have a seven-game try with him before burning the first season of his entry-level contract. It’s time to acclimatize him after what will likely be a necessary quarantine, get him up to speed on their systems and pace, and then see what they have before making a final decision on what kind of player they are. it could be for them this season. If it’s anything like we’ve seen at WJC, Zegras will be an important player and the Ducks may decide he doesn’t need time on the cab squad. We’ll see, but the Ducks must be excited about what they have to come after watching him tear up the WJC.

The top three spots in the West Division are obvious if you ask me: St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche. But fourth place is much more difficult to predict. Who do you think can finish among these three other teams? – @KBrunings

I agree with you on the first three places. But the fourth is more difficult to predict. I wrote in a previous mailbag that I think the Minnesota Wild is one of the teams that is benefiting from a realignment because of their position in the Honda West Division. Without realignment, I think the Wild would struggle to finish in the top four, maybe even the top five, of the old Central Division. The Blues and Avalanche would be joined by the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets as teams that I predict would end up better than the Wild if it was a normal season. But in the West, their main competition for fourth place is, in my opinion, limited to the San Jose Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes. I don’t see the Ducks or Los Angeles Kings as playoff contenders this season. Between the wild, the coyotes and the sharks, I trust Arizona goaltenders the most with Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. But I’m not convinced the Coyotes will score enough to help them. I’m confident the Sharks will have a better offense after finishing tied for 27th in the NHL with an average of 2.57 goals per game last season, assuming the defenseman Erik Karlsson and forward Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl stay healthy and productive. But I’m not sold on their keepers, Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk, especially behind defenders who will jump into the game and push for more attack, possibly creating back leaks. It throws me on the Sharks although I wouldn’t be shocked if they had a season strong enough to finish fourth. I’m not 100% sold on the two best goalies in the Wild either, Cam Talbot and Alex Stalock, but I think they have more balance than the other two teams and the rookie striker Kirill Kaprizov could be an offensive revelation. The Wild are also strong with defenders Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin like their first four. And rookie goalie Kaapo Kahkonen could end up being # 1 at some point. The Wild is high on him, but he needs to play more games. It’s tight, but I like the Wild to finish fourth in the division.

A 56 game season is obviously a very different matter compared to a normal 82 game season. Which teams do you think will benefit the most from a compressed schedule? Will quantity and a more complete list matter less in the sense than skill and pure quality? – @statslotta

The keys to success will be the depth of the list, the quality of the goalkeepers and the knowledge of the systems. Skills matter; you cannot win without them. But the deeper teams, those with two good goalkeepers and those who don’t have to train too much in systems because they are rooted in the players, will have an advantage in what will undoubtedly be a season. unpredictable, especially since it concerns possible last-minute listing issues. We cannot deny that COVID-19 will play a role because it has it in all other sports. The depth of the roster therefore matters, especially at the center, defender and goalkeeper – the middle part of the equation that always makes the biggest difference. And the depth of the goalkeepers will be key because of how quickly matches will be played and how often teams will play against each other. We’re talking about a 56-game sprint in 114-116 days, with a lot of back-to-back and four games in six days against the same teams. Knowledge of the systems is important because training camp is already short and there will not be much time in the regular season to practice quality practices.

It is for these reasons that I believe teams like the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders in the MassMutual East Division, the Columbus Stars and Blue Jackets in the Discover Central Division, the Golden Knights and Avalanche in the The West and the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks in the Scotia North Division can thrive. They all meet the above requirements, and I think all eight will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Who will be the strange person in Tampa Bay once? Nikita Kucherov is cured? The next offseason will bring more salary headaches to Tampa Bay. – @DanMountSports

Don’t worry about the weird person just yet, as Kucherov is expected to be out the entire regular season and we don’t know what the Tampa Bay Lightning roster will look like in playoff time, when he should be ready to go. come back. But beyond this season, the Lightning could be helped by the 2021 NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken. I think forward Tyler Johnson as a player, Seattle might be interested as a veteran, leader, and someone from Washington state. He was born in Spokane, about a four-hour drive from Seattle, but home-state talent could help the Kraken on and off the ice from a marketing and community relations perspective. Johnson’s contract carries a charge of $ 5 million against the NHL salary cap through 2023-24. From an ice point of view, the Lightning would surely lack its versatility. But from a business standpoint, releasing that $ 5 million would be beneficial in the long run. Also consider this forward Ondrej Palat (Cap fee of $ 5.3 million) will enter the final year of his contract next season before he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. And forward Alex Killorn (Cap fee of $ 4.45 million) is signed through to the 2022-2023 season. Johnson, Palat and Killorn are contenders for their final season with the Lightning, but I must stress that it is far too early to speculate further on that.

What do you think Jack JohnsonThe role of the New York Rangers will be this year? He obviously adds character and courage to a young team, but is he playing at the expense of a young player like K’Andre Miller? – @jacob_bass_

The Rangers signed Johnson on the advice of assistant coach Jacques Martin, who has worked with the defenseman the past two seasons while they were with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Martin was in charge of defenders and penalties with Pittsburgh; Johnson was tied with Kris Letang for the lead among Penguins defensemen with an average of 2:12 shorthanded ice time per game. Johnson is in the mix for third pair or 7th place defenseman with the Rangers. The top four is defined with Jacob Trouba and Tony DeAngelo as a pair, and Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren like the other. Johnson, Brendan Smith, Anthony Bitetto, Libor Hajek and Miller are in the mix for what will likely be the remaining three spots on the depth graph before you get to the cab crew. Johnson won’t stop Miller from having playing time if he wins it. I see it as insurance for New York this season, saving time for Miller, Hajek and another defenseman. Tarmo Reunanen if they need it. Bitetto is in the same role. Smith is technically so too, but he’s more rooted with the Rangers and coach David Quinn enjoys his versatility to play either side and forward when needed.

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