Mid-season is fast approaching. A third of NHL clubs have already played 41 games or more. After five surprising teams on Thursday, let’s identify five disappointing clubs today.
After five years of rebuilding, having sacrificed first-round picks in the previous two drafts in pursuit of better short-term results, a more mature core and an 86-point season last year, the Senators yearned for a playoff spot this year.
Everything collapsed like a house of cards. General manager Pierre Dorion was fired. Coach D. J. Smith followed a few weeks later. Not only will the Senators miss the playoffs for a seventh straight spring, but they are one of the worst clubs in the NHL with a 14-23-0 record.
The arrival of Jacques Martin behind the bench changed nothing. Ottawa is 3-8 since the coaching change, including five straight losses in which the Senators have scored 8 goals and allowed 24.
The good news ? Ottawa would pick fourth overall if the draft were held today and has a 9.5% chance of landing the top pick. Claude Giroux is the best scorer on this team. He is 36 years old. Under reconstruction, you say?
The Sabers showed great promise last year despite the youth of their squad. They missed the playoffs by a narrow point, going 42-33-7, their best finish since 2011. They finished the season with a 9-2-1 record, with youngster Devon Levi in net. in seven of the last nine meetings.
The young people were on the rise. At 25 years old, Tage Thompson had 94 points, including 47 goals. 22-year-old defenseman Rasmus Dahlin scored a personal best with 73 points. Dylan Cozens had 68 points, including 31 goals. They were surrounded by a host of young leaders with Casey Mittelstadt, John Peterka, Owen Power, Alex Tuch, Jack Quinn.
Buffalo, however, regressed in the first half of the season. The Sabers have as many points as the CH and find themselves seven points from a place in the playoffs, which they could miss for… a thirteenth consecutive year!
But as they are in the fourth year of their re-build, started by the arrival of general manager Kevyn Adams, they will be given one more year, and another top 10 pick, before calling it a failure of the Adams plan. Sabers fans, on the other hand, must be fed up…
General manager Bill Guerin is a fan of resetting. He will look for a first round pick here and there for a player he no longer judges to be up to par, but will retain players in their late thirties by renewing their contract.
That makes for a good little mid-pack club, three consecutive appearances in the playoffs, but also three eliminations in the first round. This year, the Wild were hit by injuries and everything fell apart. You don’t lose two of your best defenders, Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon, without suffering. Coach Dean Evason suffered, but it didn’t really settle down under John Hynes.
Minnesota nevertheless has several good young players: Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi and Brock Faber. Kiril Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek are only 26, Brodin 30 and goalkeeper Filip Gustavsson only 25, they have enough good players to bounce back.
The ranking is misleading. The Lightning are in last place in the playoffs today, but based on win rate, they would be out of the playoffs with just two points ahead of the New Jersey Devils and four games in hand. argue.
The Lightning are victims of the salary cap and have to let go of players at the end of each season to comply. We therefore find ourselves with a club lacking depth. After the big stars Kucherov, Point, Stamkos, Sergachev and Hedman, it’s slim. The offensive breakdown of sophomore center Anthony Cirelli, 17 points in 42 games, doesn’t help. Neither did the loss of Sergachev.
We still talk about the Lightning as a power, but with Tyler Motte as third center, Darren Raddysh and Calvin De Haan on a defensive top 4. The fall of the giant will come sooner or later. And we will have to monitor the Stamkos file, an uncompensated free agent at the end of the season, between now and the trade deadline.
The Devils are recovering a little. They are 13-6-2 in their last 21 games. If the trend continues, they will participate in the playoffs. They can even hope to catch the New York Islanders in third place in the Metropolitan Division, although the loss of Jack Hughes for a few weeks will hurt.
We are nevertheless talking about the third team in the general ranking of the NHL last year, and we expected progression, not regression, due to the youth of the squad. Maybe we’re being a little harsh because of their fantastic season last year.
Their future remains promising, with so many quality young players, Hughes, Hischier, Mercer, Holtz in attack, Luke Hughes and Sion Nemec in defense. They perhaps only lack a good goalkeeper to aspire to honors year after year.
The Canadiens lost to the worst club in the NHL? And then after ? The CH is not the Colorado Avalanche or the Boston Bruins. We are talking about a team in reconstruction at 25th place in the general ranking…
Looking at the situation coldly, the Canadian finds himself in the position where he was expected this winter, in his second year of reconstruction, despite the loss of Kirby Dach. With a record of 17-18-6, the CH has five more points than at the same date last year, when it had a record of 16-22-3.
We will have to demand accountability next year if this team does not progress. It is premature to do so at this time, especially with injuries and better performance than the previous season.
The Canadiens, after all, have three players 24 or younger on their top line and four of their six defensemen are 23 or younger.