28 games usually means nothing. However, it’s the halfway point of our season. This won’t be a long article. I just wanted to simply compare how we looked after 28 games last season player wise and yell at some clouds.
We are firmly in a playoff spot. Everything is quite good. We got anhilated by the Leafs for 3 straight but won the next 3 while the Leafs lost the next 3. Who saw that coming?
Last season after 28 games:
This season after 28 games:
This idea came about because I wondered how Kassian did after 28 games last year vs Jesse? Well, he damn near doubled Jesse with 19 points in the first 28 games compared to Jesse getting 10 points with the similar opportunities (JP didn’t get Drai and McD but Kass didn’t get PP time). .37 ppg is a 30 point pace in a regular season. He’s playing in the Top 6 and that is less than what Kass, Chiasson and Maroon did with those minutes. I love him and his corsi god ways. I’m glad he’s using his big butt. His smile is infectious. He needs to get more actual points!
Klefbom is gone and this is where basic stats don’t tell a full story. He had 18 points. .64ppg and was a minus 10. In comes Tyson Barrie and he has 22 points, .79ppf and is a plus 1. If those are the only stats you are using, Barrie is the better Dman. He’s more than adequately filled in for Klef’s absence. Of course, this isn’t really the case and 5 on 5 would be the big difference.
Barrie has value. Barrie is blocking Bouchard. Trade Barrie for Debrusk. Trade Barrie for Merzilkins. It’s not that I don’t like him. I want to trade from a position of strength and free up Bouchard and develop him properly. The second we resign him it will be a classic ink dries contract that we regret like Kassian and Koskinen.
Departed from last years top 10 are Klef (out for season), Neal (oft injured), Bear (not in Top 4 anymore due to any number of theories) and Kassian (injured in his one fight after coach called him out). I cannot stress enough: DO NOT TRADE BEAR. The ask is Cale Makar if anyone is asking.
At this point in last season, DRY wasn’t a thing. Yamamoto had not yet joined the NHL full time. When he did, things BLEW UP! He was a .ppg player almost. This year he is a .5ppg player. I’ve always viewed him as a perfect Eberle replacement and in the 50 to 60 point range (in an 82 game season). So I feel his long range projection is a top 6 player around .7ppg. Part of the solution for sure.
The other new additions in the Top 10 is Dominik Kahun. He is a Top 6 player, smaller skill player. He’s done okay. He makes 1 million and is UFA at the end of the season. It’s a good signing. I feel like Ennis has taken his job and rightfully so. I’d resign Ennis for sure as he is a Swiss Army knife. Also, a part of a growing list of guys that looked poor, went to Taxi Squad and came back much better! Chiasson, Ennis, Turris and Khaira all come to mind. When Tipp sends you away, you come back a better player.
Khaira is at 10 both seasons. He was AWFUL to start the season. Then he grew out the best hair and beard in hockey and has been an outstanding bottom 6 presence. I’ve loved watching him since his return. Went from .19ppf to .42ppg (more than JP and Kahun with zero time on PP or with RNH/Drai/Mcd). A+
Chiasson looks like the guy we signed. He’s been great. He’s also won a cup and seems comfortable in our group. I’m very happy with him right now. From .25 to .45 ppg (more than JP and Kahun). Another taxi squad hero.
Who did I forget? Oh yeah, Connor, RNH, Nurse and Drai!
RNH is doing slightly better than last season. He needs to be extended yesterday. I honestly feel he’s a hidden Patrice Bergeron and a key to any winning team. He can play C, he can play wing, he’s been a big part of an amazing PP. He never ages.
Nurse. My hands always shake when I type about him because I know I’ll get yelled at. He’s been really good. He’s in Norris talk. He’s in Team Canada talk. He plays roughly 25 minutes a night in all situations. He has more than stepped up on the left side in Klefbom’s absence. Last year everyone said Bear is carrying him. So who’s carrying him now? Barrie?
Connor has the unique attribute of being the best player in the world while also playing beside a Hart winner. I don’t even know how to explain that one. I was surprised to see he has 1 point less than last year at this point. Not because I think he’s worse this year but because he was coming back from injury last season. I hope everyone has noticed his improved defensive play? Best player in the world.
Drai is 6 points less than last year. Up to that point last season he was with Connor. For the most part this season he’s been driving his own line. To my eye, he’s been playing hurt. I know there is a big debate between him and guys like MacK, Matthews, Pastrnak, Kane and Panarin. He definitely belongs in that conversation and I’d never trade him for any of those amazing players.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out:
Mike Smith is an MVP of our season so far. I didn’t think I’d be typing this at the halfway point but he’s been amazing. He has battled and won us games. Even stolen a few.
I still hope we are looking into trades. I still think we can crack the Top 4 in the North and win the North. I think that is as far as we go if we don’t make some trades and bolster up our team in G, LW and 3C. We are a Dwayne Roloson trade away from causing a lot of noise.