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: , 09 2018 01:04:04

Over the past couple years an exciting new generation of NHL superstars have made names for themselves and collectively taken the league by storm. For a long time it was the usual suspects at the top of every NHL leaderboard, but things are changing quickly in a new era. Some players from the past generation are still hanging around, but their time is coming and theyve had to make room for the next wave. Eight of the top 10 scorers this season are 25 or under, including the entire top five. Ditto for the top two leaders in goals-per-game as well as the top two highest scoring defencemen. The league belongs to the kids, now and going forward.

When thinking about the future of hockey, my mind immediately went to the players in power on the ice whos going to run this league three years from now?

Mostly, itll likely be the same superstars who have already begun to take over the NHL before even entering their prime, mixed together with some young guns turning into elite stars, a few stalwarts not yet ready to relinquish their grasp on the league and some very fresh faces who are beginning their ascent into leagues upper echelon.

Figuring out exactly who slots where is a tall order, especially in a sport and league as unpredictable as this one. I gave it my best shot using my model based on Game Score to project each individual component for the remainder of this season and each season after that individually. That meant adjusting for the passage of time using an age curve, regressing to the mean based on sample size and estimating ice-time and power-play usage spikes. The results are purely empirical and algorithmically-based, but there is some guesswork involved when it comes to future opportunity as well as model biases (towards offence, though that may not be a bad thing with the way the league is trending) to consider. (The only subjective decision in the rankings was ordering defencemen amongst the forwards, otherwise the top 50 list would just be a list of forwards due to their larger overall impact and the higher predictiveness of offence, especially at each position).

The league has arguably never had as much talent as it does now and this couldve easily been a list of 100. That means a lot of great players will be left off as 50 is a tough number to crack, but that doesnt make those players any less special, nor does it put their path to being an actual top 50 player in 2021-22 in jeopardy its simply where they likely to stand given what theyve shown to date. Going forward three years leaves a large margin for error.

Going into the 2021-22 season, these are who will likely be the NHLs top 50 players.

2021-22 age is as of October 1, 2021

Top 50 NHL players

Who else? McDavid is the best player in the world now at age 21 and will remain the best player in the world until further notice. He dominates games with his breakneck speed and puck-handling ability, often at the same time, which sends defenders into a spiral. McDavid is a safe bet for 110 points or more annually, a lofty bar that would take a career year for others, but would likely be regularly within reach for McDavid. That hes doing it all with little help lends further credence to his dominance. When hes on the ice he can make a cellar dweller look like a Cup contender, carrying some of the largest on-ice impacts in the league. This is his league. McDavid is the only current player my model projects to be worth over five wins and hes ahead of the class by a healthy margin. In his prime, he might approach six or seven the skys the limit for him and Im excited to see him reach it.

With the league embracing a need for speed its no wonder that MacKinnon has emerged as an MVP-candidate, with everything beginning to finally click just one year ago. Hes proving last year was no fluke and that hes here to stay as one of the leagues best players. Hes arguably the closest to the McDavids throne right now and this season could spark some debate, as my current projections have the two neck-and-neck, with MacKinnon having a legitimate chance at winning the scoring title thanks to his current sizeable lead. Whether he does or doesnt, MacKinnon will likely remain one of McDavids biggest challengers over the next few seasons as one of three players where 100 points could be the norm, rather than a peak.

Before the season started, I suggested it would only be a matter of time before Matthews is considered next in line after McDavid. Early on that prediction looked prescient with an explosive start from the Leafs franchise center, but an injury and the further emergence of MacKinnon derailed that slightly (though hes back with a vengeance since returning from injury). Matthews is very close though and will only keep narrowing the gap further over the next three seasons, sparking many debates along the way. What really puts him behind MacKinnon (and McDavid) is ice time. Over the past two seasons Matthews is fourth in all-strengths points-per-60 and second when looking at primary points behind MacKinnon and ahead of McDavid in both situations. Those two centers play 22 minutes a night while Matthews sits at 17:40 this season, making up a lot of their perceived difference in value only McDavid rates higher in projected Game Score per 60 at present time. Despite the lower usage, Matthews has scored at over a goal-per-game rate and is on a 135-point pace, tied with Mikko Rantanen for the league lead. That figure likely regresses this season, but more minutes in the future could make him a serious 100-point threat annually like the two players above him and one of two players who could hit 50 goals regularly.

Even before he was getting top-line minutes and big role on the power play, it was obvious Pastrnak had superstar potential. He was an efficient scorer in the minutes he did get making it no surprise at what he could do in a bigger role. This year hes taken that to another level, scoring 19 goals in 27 games and playing at a 91-point pace. He likely wont become as prolific a goal-scorer as Matthews or Patrik Laine, but hes next in line and one of three players with an over 45-goal projection in 2022. Theres many that will be worthy, but for now Pastrnak looks like hell be the games best right winger in three years time.

If you dont think Pastrnak is the leagues best right winger, youre may be arguing a case for Kucherov. For the next two seasons my model still figures Kucherov will be the stronger player, but that changes by 2022 as Pastrnak enters his prime and Kucherov begins to exit his. Kucherov should still be a major player in the year-end scoring race for the next few seasons and by 2022 should still be good for 90-plus points, all while being a winger who can drive play.

The current point-scoring leader sits on the fringe of the top five and thats a scary proposition for the West as the Avalanche are the only team with two top 10 players and are dangerously close to two top-five players. Theres of course some collinearity involved there with two teammates attached at the hip, but whats clear is that Rantanen and MacKinnon have an undeniable chemistry, torching the league over the last calendar year. Their on-ice shooting percentage has been high this season, yes, but while I dont expect Rantanen to finish with 135 points, theres a decent chance he finishes with over 100 after earning 46 in his first 28 games. After the top three on this list, hes next in projected 2022 points with around 97. Rantanens rise has been meteoric, but hes the real deal and doesnt get nearly enough credit for it.

Laine does one thing well, but that one thing is pretty damn important: he fills the net. His 18 goals in November were the most since March 1993 and hes currently on a 64-goal pace. For others that number would be a pipe-dream. For Laine I can buy it, especially now that hes added shot volume to his arsenal with a projected 300-plus total in 2022 to lead the league. Even if he doesnt hit that mark, a 60-goal season feels doable for him going forward and hes projected for 59 in 2022. Like Matthews, Laine doesnt get the same ice-time benefit as his contemporaries and an increase from his current 17:19 (!) to 19 or 20 minutes could do wonders for his totals.

The first defenceman on the list is a player many figured had the potential to be the leagues best defenceman one day even before he was drafted. That day looks like it could be the 2021-22 season based on what Dahlin has shown so far in his brief NHL career. Hes already tilting the ice at an elite rate with a plus-five percent relative Corsi and that figure is only going to get better as he gets more and more acclimated with the NHL game. Hes on pace for 40 points this season, but could see that number skyrocket once he becomes the top dog on a Sabres power play that has potential to be loaded in the coming years. He has 60-point upside while maintaining a strong two-way game a Norris trophy feels likely in his future.

A few years ago when the Finns were thinking about their own future of hockey, they recognized a national crisis formed by a blue collar identity; a country made up of grinders that lacked top-tier skill. Now, the countrys high-end talent pool is the healthiest its ever been and by 2022 could feature three top 10 players in the world more than any other country. Barkov is a workhorse, point-per-game player that sacrifices nothing in his own end, plays big minutes in all situations and does it clean with a projected top five penalty differential. Hes drawn 20 penalties this season to lead the league and hasnt taken a single one yet. As far as complete players go, hes the best going forward and a likely perennial Selke contender.

If not for a generational defenceman entering the league this season, top defenceman honours would likely be going to Jones in three years time. Hes already close now, finishing fourth in Norris voting last season and likely becoming a yearly fixture for that award from here on out. Hes incredible in his own end and found offensive flourish to match last season topping 50 points for the first time in his career with a 57-points. He can do it all and should challenge as the leagues best defenceman until Dahlin is ready to take the throne for himself.



: , 09 2018 00:14:09

sabr ():
Jack Eichel is one of the best centers in the league

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: , 08 2018 23:51:45

Jack Eichel is one of the best centers in the league

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Running and hunting and slashing
and crushing and searching
and seeing and stabbing and shooting
and thrashing and smashing and
burning destroying and killing
and bleeding and pleading then Death



: , 08 2018 23:03:03




: , 08 2018 22:34:26

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: , 08 2018 11:54:57


Running and hunting and slashing
and crushing and searching
and seeing and stabbing and shooting
and thrashing and smashing and
burning destroying and killing
and bleeding and pleading then Death



: , 08 2018 01:45:07

Its still taking time to get used to. Looking at the standings and seeing teams that made a habit of enjoying extended playoff runs every spring occupying the bottom portion of the win column. Was it all that long ago that the Blackhawks and Kings competed in one of the best playoff series of this era?

But the turnover in the NHL right now is in full force. And its only going to be more dramatic as the young talent gap deepens and aging contracts look even worse. It means now teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres are jostling for position to be the next version of those great teams.

In talking about what was to come in Colorado, Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon put it this way: We always say, its a good time to be an Av right now. I feel like we have 10 years, 10 chances to win.

Theyre on the cusp of becoming a power in the West, and the successful signing of William Nylander by the Toronto Maple Leafs only further cemented the notion that Toronto is the Easts future power, something MacKinnon acknowledged.

Theyre an amazing team and all their best players are around our age as well, MacKinnon said. Theyre doing a little better than us right now, but itd be cool to meet them in the final one day.

In helping kick off our Future of the Game package at The Athletic this week, we wanted to see which teams were best poised to be at the top of the standings in three years, the 2021-22 season. To determine these Future Power Rankings, we wanted as much brain power as possible on board. Corey Pronman, Eric Duhatschek, Scott Burnside, Katie Strang, Scott Wheeler, Dom Luszczyszyn and Justin Bourne all joined me as panelists, voting on every team in a number of categories that are crucial to shaping future success.

Here are the four categories in which each NHL team was judged in determining the 2021-22 Future Power Rankings:

Young core (under 25 years old) and prospects All things considered, the young players competing now in the NHL and the emerging prospects are going to go a long way in how competitive you believe every team will be in three years. This category focuses on the NHL players in the lineup under 25 years old and prospects in the pipeline. (Panelists: Craig Custance, Scott Wheeler, Corey Pronman)

Management and coaching This is a tough one because front offices and coaching staffs may look different in three years. And you might love the coach but hate the GM. This category factors all that in when assessing those making personnel decisions and the decisions on the ice. (Panelists: Craig Custance, Katie Strang, Justin Bourne)

Ownership and market Success typically starts at the top and a franchise that has the freedom to spend tends to do better than those with cheap ownership or a questionable market. (Panelists: Craig Custance, Eric Duhatschek, Scott Burnside)

Salary cap situation In evaluating a teams cap situation in three years, we looked at the contracts coming off the books, the upcoming deals that have to be done and those teams that still have bad deals counting against the cap in 2021-22. (Panelists: Craig Custance, Dom Luszczyszyn, Katie Strang)

The methodology: Each panelist was asked to rate the current 31 NHL teams in their category on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best. Because theres nothing to evaluate, Seattle was kept out of this exercise. The three ratings for each team were averaged out for that category. Because a bulk of the success in three years will be driven by young talent, when calculating the total scores, the young core and prospects category was counted twice to determine each teams final rating.

So here it is, your projections for the best teams in 2021-22:

Even with the headaches that come with high-profile contract negotiations, this team is set up to be a Stanley Cup contender for the next several years. They were one of the few franchises to earn perfect 10s from panelists in multiple categories. Theyre stocked with young talent. Theres an ownership that will spend. Its a great hockey market. Theres a strong faith in the duo of Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock. The only thing keeping this franchise close to the pack is its salary cap situation, one that isnt going to get any easier in three years.

Justin Bourne on giving high marks in Management and Coaching: I just think they have the perfect Yin and Yang with Mike Babcock and Kyle Dubas. Babcock has that old school, work-hard mentality. Kyle is more analytically driven. They balance each other out. The organization is pulling the best parts of both worlds.

The slow build by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is going to result in a staying power that should make the Jets a Western power for the foreseeable future. The Jets got strong marks across the board, including a 10 from one panelist in the young core and prospects category. Like the Maple Leafs, the big concern from panelists that kept their overall score in the eights was future salary cap space. Assistant GM Larry Simmons worked magic in the past on getting deals done, but the Patrik Laine deal is going to be a monster.

Scott Wheeler on why he especially likes the Jets young talent: The big thing is that, beyond the fact that they drafted incredibly well, theres a lot of young players who are still coming. They just havent really missed. Theyre one of the very few teams that havent missed in recent years and thats on top of the fact they have one of the best young cores in the league, featuring Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. The Leafs, another team with a young core like theirs, just dont have the young players coming.

This team already has a candidate for the best line in hockey. They own Ottawas first-round pick. Nathan MacKinnon has a fantastic contract, and defenseman prospect Cale Makar is still on the way. Hes quietly dominating college hockey, said one amateur scout of Makar. Those guys usually track. This franchise is still filling out its depth, but its headed in the right direction.

Corey Pronman on ranking the young talent slightly lower than other panelists: I look at that team, I think Cale Makar is a really, really good prospect, but I look at the rest of the farm system and its very, very average. The NHL guys are awesome and, while I respect the two elite guys they have in the NHL in Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, as well as someone like Samuel Girard I just dont think the farm system is that deep. Compared to a team like say Buffalo with elite young depth in the NHL plus a good farm, or Florida with great young players in the NHL plus a great farm, leads me to give them a slightly lower rating.

The Bruins are one of the few franchises to win a Stanley Cup in the salary cap era and quickly retool to set themselves up for success in the next several years. This group isnt loaded with as much young talent as some of the other teams at the top of this list, but an improving cap situation in three years, good young talent and an ownership that will spend should keep Boston in contention. Tuukka Rask, David Backes and David Krejci all come off the books following the 2020-21 season, setting this team up to have financial flexibility. And David Pastrnaks contract will look even better.

Scott Burnside on why he rated ownership and market so high: For me, its their staying power. The consistency of ownership is self-evident, but also their relevance in the marketplace. Theyve managed through thick and thin to remain a really important part of maybe one of the greatest sports towns in the world. Its an organization in a very competitive market that has always carved out an important place.

The future is coming early for the Sabres, one of the NHLs hottest teams in the first part of this season. Its been a painful process but Buffalo has all the necessary ingredients to win Stanley Cups a franchise center, a franchise defenseman and an owner who will spend. Panelists were very bullish on the young talent, but theyre not quite as convinced about ownership and the future cap situation, which dropped the Sabres a few slots. In 2021-22, Kyle Okposo will still have two years left on a deal paying him $6 million per season, and theres going to be a huge raise for Rasmus Dahlin between now and then.

Pronman on the Sabres collection of young talent: Its a really good, young group. Are they going to contend this year? No, theyre probably playing a little over their head. Jack Eichel is one of the best centers in the league. Dahlin is quickly turning into a star defenseman. Hes not there yet but youre starting to see flashes. Hes going to be one of the best defensemen in the league in a short period of time. Casey Mittelstadt hasnt kicked it in yet, but he and Tage Thompson are going to be good players. They have good guys in Rochester, too. Theres a lot of reason for optimism in Buffalo.

The Canucks eye for talent in the era of GM Jim Benning gave them a young core and collection of talent that earned a perfect 10 from one of the panelists in that category. Elias Pettersson looks every bit like hell be one of the games next superstars. Questionable contracts that will still be on the books (Loui Eriksson and Jay Beagle, for instance) in three years dinged the Canucks in these rankings, but theres still a lot here to be excited about.

Wheeler on why he likes the Canucks young core: The biggest thing for me on Vancouver is Im higher than most on a lot of their young players. I really like Thatcher Demko, I really like Adam Gaudette. Obviously Pettersson and Brock Boeser are wonderful young players. Jonathan Dahlen is outstanding. Theres just depth in numbers there and a goaltender prospect who projects as a No. 1, which a lot of teams dont have.

They should have Connor McDavid in three years, so theres that. Having the best player in the world on your roster, and one who will be right in his prime, is a competitive advantage. Edmonton drops down the list because of questions surrounding everything else, from management to their future cap situation. Early returns on the Ken Hitchcock hiring are promising, but its too early to project his impact anywhere beyond this season.

Dom Luszczyszyn on why hes concerned about the Oilers future cap space: The fact that they have Milan Lucic still on the cap for as long as they do is a little rich. And they have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins coming up that year for a new deal, so itll be interesting to see what they do there.

The Flames are in this spot because theyre solid across the board. There is good, young talent in Calgary. There still is faith in the direction of GM Brad Treliving and coach Bill Peters. Every year that passes makes the contracts for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan look even better, although James Neal at $5.75 million in his mid-30s in three years is a concern.

Burnside on ranking the ownership/market higher than other panelists: Its just the fact that they havent gone through the wild swings weve seen in other Canadian markets like Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa. Sure they havent had the success fans would hope for, but they really havent hit that rock bottom that lots of other Canadian franchises have.

A spot in the top 10 is a vote of confidence for the rebuilding process orchestrated by GM Jeff Gorton. There were some differences of opinions surrounding the young players the Rangers are building around, but the Rangers received strong marks for their market, management group and a cap situation that is clearing up nicely just in time to spend money to compliment the young players being added to the system.

Katie Strang on giving the management and coaching group high marks: What I like about Jeff Gorton as GM is I feel he has a very clear plan for the years moving forward and that theyve been pretty transparent about what that plan is going to be and very decisive. I think David Quinn is going to have a steep learning curve jumping from collegiate hockey to the NHL, but the fact that hes regarded as a superlative communicator will serve him well, especially coaching a young, rebuilding team.

The Lightning are a Cup contender now and have many of the ingredients to remain on the cusp of championship contention in three years. Like most contending teams, their marks in the prospect category are hurt as prospects and draft picks are shipped off in deals to win now. Theres also going to be severe cap headaches for GM Julien BriseBois in the future. But theres good talent thats still young. Theres a great owner. Theres a management structure and a respected head coach. This has quietly become the NHLs model franchise.

Bourne on giving management high marks even as Steve Yzerman transitions out: When Julien BriseBois was in the AHL, he was running Syracuse and he put together a great squad there. He has great talent to work with now in Tampa. Steve Yzerman is as good as it gets and Jon Cooper is one of the best coaches in the league. Theres not a guy there that gives me any pause. Definitely very high on them.

The Red Wings are working the delicate balance of trying to stay competitive while collecting young talent and burning off bad contracts. This is an important year in that process. For one, it appears that Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and Dennis Cholowski are all tracking to be better than initially anticipated from outside observers success reflected in the strong scores for coaching and management. That coach Jeff Blashill is both developing young talent and coaching an overachieving team is also reflected, although its worth noting that neither the coach nor the GM is under contract beyond next season, so it could be a different look in 2021-22. There is good talent but still a real need for more elite talent in the Red Wings organization reflected in the panelists views of the young core. Panelists also downgraded the Red Wings future cap situation in large part because theyll still be paying vets Frans Nielsen, Danny DeKeyser and Justin Abdelkader significant salaries in 2021-22.

Eric Duhatschek on his lower ranking for ownership than other panelists: No matter who you talked to, Mike Ilitch was good for hockey in Detroit. Mike Ilitch did things the right way, he put his trust in his hockey people and it worked and it resurrected a franchise. It seems to me that in the new era, its more corporate. I think it has gone from a model organization to one that is very much like other organizations and not necessarily a bad thing. Im watching the games, Im seeing empty seats where I havent seen empty seats before.

The Flyers may be in transition as they move past former GM Ron Hextall, but this rating suggests that history will be kind to the Hextall era in Philadelphia. There are good, young players contributing and contracts on the books that have the potential to age really well. As expected for a team that fired its GM and has a lame-duck coach, the Flyers were hurt in that category compared to others.

Luszczyszyn on why he rated the Flyers cap situation higher than others: I really like the Shayne Gostisbehere contract ($4.5 million AAV through 2022-23) and Claude Giroux still seems like fair value even though hes going to be 34. Maybe its a bit optimistic. I love the Sean Couturier and Gostisbehere contracts a lot. Thats what skewed it for me.

This seems about right for a team that perpetually seems on the cusp of something good. Theres a bit of everything in Florida. Enticing prospects. A center in Aleksander Barkov on a fantastic contract, and a top pair defenseman in Aaron Ekblad signed to a reasonable deal. Concerns about the management, coaching, ownership and market kept the Panthers out of the top 10.

Pronman on ranking the talent higher than any panelist: I love some of the guys in that system. I think Henrik Borgstrom is a big-time talent. Grigori Denisenko is really talented. Owen Tippett is really talented. I dont know if all three of those guys are going to be impact guys in the NHL. I probably have them in that order, but I think all three of them have the talent to be top-six forwards in the NHL. Barkov is one of the best centers in the NHL. Ekblad, if he wasnt on the same team as Keith Yandle, hed put up more points. I see a lot of forward talent in that organization.

The Golden Knights have developed quickly into a playoff contender but there has always been a longer-term plan in place by GM George McPhee. That said, contracts signed this offseason have eaten away future cap space, and in the 2021-22 season, the Golden Knights will be paying a 37-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury and 33-year-old Max Pacioretty $7 million each. That may be an issue, which was noted by panelists in that category.

Burnside on his strong marks for ownership and market: Whats not to like? Not just the fact that they went to a Stanley Cup final, they hit all the right notes in a community, especially in a very difficult time following the mass shooting. Their instant connection with the community on so many levels has been exemplary. Even if they dont follow up with a strong season on the ice, this is still a Grade A franchise, top to bottom.

The Blue Jackets are a tough team to evaluate because a big part of their future hinges on how the Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky situations play out. But even putting those aside, this is still a playoff-caliber team that is being driven by a lot of really good, young players. If they can parlay their potential free agents into even more future assets, this ranking goes up. Their future cap situation right now is a strength, especially because of the Seth Jones contract but thats an area to watch in large part because of the uncertainty surrounding Panarin and Bobrovsky, along with the need to get defenseman Zach Werenski signed long term.

Pronman on his optimism surrounding the young core: Most of the players on that team are young and winning. Seth Jones is a Norris candidate. Zach Werenski is not that far behind. Pierre-Luc Dubois has proven hes a first-line center in the NHL. And you have Oliver Bjorkstrand and Markus Nutivaara who have emerged as good, young players. All the guys playing minutes on that team are 22 years old. Its a really good young team. If you look down their farm system, there are guys I like but nothing that overwhelms you there. The talent is all on the roster.

For a team that has tried to stay in contention for the past several years, the Blues still managed to build a stockpile of young talent, which is reflected with a strong score in that category. And the Blues did well to resist the temptation to sign veterans from their past playoff successes to long-term contracts that would have been prohibitive in three years. But there are also concerns. Ownership doesnt have the deep pockets other franchises have and GM Doug Armstrong has cycled through coaches in recent years. The lack of clear direction behind the bench hurts the Blues, as noted by panelists in that category.

Wheeler on why he rated the Blues young players so highly: I love Robert Thomas and I love Jordan Kyrou. I think Kyrou is a fabulous prospect and one of the best skaters in the world already. When you can skate like that, I think you can be an impact player at the next level. Thomas projects as a No. 1 center and thats extremely hard to come by these days.

The Canadiens received average scores across the board but got a push up these rankings in large part because of a high score in market and ownership. There are players to like in the Montreal pipeline but there are also contracts that could be a bit onerous in three years. Shea Weber will still have four years remaining on his deal after the 2021-22 season that pays an average of $7.86 million. Hell be 36 in three years. Carey Price will be 34 with four more years left on a deal that averages $10.5 million.

Bourne on why his management and coaching score was higher than other panelists: The biggest thing is I believe Claude Julien is a really good coach. If you believe that Marc Bergevin is a 6 out of 10 as a GM, then, for me, Julien is a 9 out of 10. So you split the difference. The team is probably over performing expectations right now, even though the expectations were low.

Strong ratings for the young core and prospects Carolina drafted could prop up other concerns enough to put the Hurricanes in the top half of the league. Panelists were lukewarm toward the management, coaching, ownership and market, compared to other teams. For a team driven by young talent, there are also cap concerns. Jordan Staal will still have term left on his deal that runs through 2022-23 at $6 million per season. Hell be 33 in 2021-22. On the flip side, Sebastian Aho remains unsigned and his pricetag is only going to go up from here.

Bourne on why he likes Carolina management more than other panelists: This is my analytics bias. I really love (Carolinas vice president of hockey management and strategy) Eric Tulsky; he keeps getting an elevated role there. They seem to keep making smart decisions with personnel and then get submarined by goaltending. Theres a process they have in place. I trust in whatever theyre doing even though I cant see it.

The Predators have long been a draft and development team but there were low marks on that front moving forward for a team very much in its Stanley Cup window right now. Thats typical of teams in win-now mode. The Predators got strong ratings in management, coaching, ownership and market a foundation that should keep this team competitive for a number of years, especially if they keep finding ways to sign key players to team-friendly contracts.

Burnside on why he gave Nashville ownership and market a high rating: To me, Nashville is the standard bearer for all mid to small-sized markets. Especially after their early ownership issues, the current ownership group has brought stability and has given management all the resources they need to build a perennial Stanley Cup contender. And they are much loved in the community and have become a destination franchise for players, something you might not have imagined a decade ago.

For a team that has been in rebuilding mode and skewing younger, youd like to see higher ratings for the young core. Still, with above-average ratings for management and coaching, there appears to be faith in the job coach John Hynes and GM Ray Shero are doing. The Devils future cap situation is an interesting one to watch because there are two pivot points. One will be whether or not they can retain Taylor Hall when his contract expires following 2019-20. The other revolves around goalie Cory Schneider. If his game continues to decline, his $6 million cap hit in 2021-22 will be especially problematic.

Pronman on his concerns about the Devils prospect pool: The Devils should be thankful they won the lottery two years ago and got Nico Hischier. Hes huge for that organization right now. I think hes going to be a star in the league, hes a really talented player. Pavel Zacha, there are questions about what hes going to become and Im skeptical if hell ever be a legitimate top-six forward. Jesper Bratt looks like a hell of a pick and a good NHL player for a long time. I think Jesper Boqvist is a good prospect. Ty Smith and, maybe to a degree, Joey Anderson get you excited, but theres not a ton of star talent in that organization right now. Its Nico and some pretty good guys.

Even as GM John Chayka worked hard to draft impact players and make incremental improvements to the Coyotes, its the usual issues that prevented panelists from getting too excited about the franchise. An average score of 2.3 for ownership and market drove the Coyotes into the bottom third of the league despite above-average scores elsewhere.

Eric Duhatschek on rating the market and ownership poorly: The league has invested so much time and so much effort into making this work. By now it should have been sorted out. It seems to be for sale again. The arena project seems stalled. It hasnt worked at the box office or on the ice for a long time, how long does it take to sort this all out? Gary Bettman has done a very good job of putting out fires in most places; it feels like that one is raging on. If theres a relocation, which they never admit to wanting to do, this is the likeliest candidate and Houston is the likeliest destination.

Despite good scores for the young players and above-average ratings for the duo of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz, the Islanders were weighed down by concerns about the market and future salary cap considerations. The Islanders have a surprising amount of players who will still be under contract in the 2021-22 season, a group that will all be in their 30s in Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Leo Komarov, Johnny Boychuk, Thomas Hickey and Andrew Ladd. On top of those millions already committed, they still have to get a young superstar signed in Mathew Barzal.

Luszczyszyn on why he rated the Islanders future cap situation so poorly: They have Leo Komarov at $3 million and Cal Clutterbuck at $3.5 million and Josh Bailey at $5 million. They have Johnny Boychuk for $6 million. Why is Scott Mayfield signed for five more years? And they also have Andrew Ladd at $5.5 million, as well. I think a rating of two is generous.

The circle of life in the NHL will continue to weigh the Blackhawks down for the next several years if these projections are accurate. The organization needs more young talent, and contracts that are already questionable now are going to be even worse in three years. By then, Brent Seabrook will be 36 and still have two years remaining on a contract that pays him $6.875 million on average per season. The Duncan Keith contract will no longer be a competitive advantage, as it has been for years. This is going to be a tough stretch for the Blackhawks to navigate.

Pronman on why he rated the Blackhawks young players lower than others: On the NHL team, Alex DeBrincat is a great player. Hes a first-line forward, a goal scorer. That was a great pick. Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini both have stuff to prove still, especially Strome. Hes really talented but he has to show he can do it at the NHL level. You look at their farm system, I think its a fine farm system, I dont think its an amazing farm system. Adam Boqvist has been up and down in London this season. Nicolas Beaudin, hes been good but I havent been blown away by him. I think Dylan Sikura is close to a call-up. Its the same questions I have for other farm systems outside of DeBrincat and maybe Strome and maybe Sikura and maybe Boqvist, where is the star talent? Where are the guys killing it at their respective levels? I dont see that yet.

In three years, captain Jamie Benn is going to be 32 years old with three years remaining on a deal worth $9.5 million per season. The clock is already ticking on that contract. There will also still be a year left on Ben Bishops deal, and hell be in his mid-30s. There should be some urgency to win now in Dallas. GM Jim Nill developed a well-earned reputation as a strong draft and develop guy, but the low scores for the young talent in Dallas suggest theres questions about how effectively its happening right now. The Stars cap situation gets strong marks, in large part because of the flexibility on defense provided by expiring deals and a fantastic John Klingberg contract.

Pronman on his low rating for the Stars prospects and young players: Miro Heiskanen is a huge, huge piece. Hes a hell of a player. Hes going to be playing monster minutes for that team for a long time. Its after Heiskanen when you start asking questions. Where are the impact players in this organization right now? Ive seen a lot of Ty Dellandrea. Hes a nice player, but I have questions if hes going to be a big time NHL player. I give credit for Denis Guryanov, as I came down on him last year, but hes looked good this season. Im still debating if hes going to be a really good NHL player. Hes back on the radar. Val Nichushkin is just OK. The Stars first-round pick Riley Tufte, I havent heard really good things about. Outside of Heiskanen, who is a great player, its hard to get super excited about a lot of the other pieces.

Panelists like the GM and coach tandem in Minnesota. Most like ownership and the market. But concerns about the young talent pool along with the impact of the big contracts on the books push the Wild down these standings. We always knew the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter deals would eventually weigh things down and, in the 2021-22 season, Parise will still have three years left on that deal ($7.54 AAV) as a 37-year-old forward. But the big focus has to be infusing the franchise with more young talent. In the past three drafts, the Wild had a total of two picks in the first two rounds, which has impacted organizational depth.

Duhatschek on why he was harder on ownership than other panelists: Im not as big a fan of Craig Leipold as some people are. There are certain ownership groups that believe they should be further ahead than they are. In a 31-team NHL, what people lose sight of is that you basically win three championships per century. The best you can do as a hockey operations department is put together a production on the ice that can win a championship, to try to make all the right decisions and hope for the best. I think the fact that theres been a transition in the front office, the coach is in trouble those people are doing a good job and theyve been a good team for a long period of time. I just wonder about the impatience of the ownership there. The market seems strong in terms of the support, I just think maybe the ownership could be a little more hands off.

Managing a team as its star players get older and the salaries stay the same age is not an easy task. In three years, it wouldnt be surprising to see the Capitals in the same situation as other recent league powers are finding themselves today. Tough decisions will have to be made around Alex Ovechkin, whose contract expires after the 2020-21 season, and Nicklas Backstrom, whose deal is done after next season. As is the case for most contending teams that sent draft picks and prospects away to win, there isnt a ton coming in the system, as reflected by poor scores there.

Katie Strang on her concerns about the future cap situation: I feel like some of those contracts are not going to age well and that theyre going to have a few onerous deals on the books that are going to make maneuverability difficult. T.J. Oshie, for example, will be 34 years old and still have three years left on a deal paying him $5.75 million per season. Im also not sold on Tom Wilson at that price tag and hell have two years left at $5.17 million. I dont feel like hes proven yet that he knows how to walk that fine line of physicality without being a liability to his own team. Until he proves that, I dont know if hes worth that price.

The Sharks are in the same camp as the team above and below in these rankings. A model franchise for a long time that should expect challenging times ahead. GM Doug Wilson did a nice job taking his foot off the gas at times during the Sharks long run as a playoff team in order to develop more players, and its reflected in strong scores for him and coach Peter DeBoer. In three years, Wilson is going to have a number of players in their 30s with big contracts, like Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Theres a decision to be made about Erik Karlsson, but hes a potential fifth. Theyve traded considerable packages built around futures to land Kane and Karlsson, and thats going to take its toll on the system.

Luszczyszyn on why he rated the Sharks future cap situation poorly: It was the massive amount of term to guys who probably wont be very good by the time 2021-22 comes around. Burns is 33 now, Vlasic is 31 and thats 15 million up until forever. Evander Kane, Im not sold on being a $7 million player. Couture is making the same amount as Claude Giroux, is one year younger and is not as good. What really set it off for me is Martin Jones. His contract is pretty terrible and I dont think hes a very good goalie, to be honest.

In three years, Sidney Crosby is going to be 34 years old. Crosbys ability to will himself and his team to great heights is remarkable, but even the best players in the world have to deal with the inevitable decline that comes in the mid-30s. The same goes for the other key parts of the Penguins core, including Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. The Penguins young core and prospects was rated at the bottom of the league by panelists, so it doesnt appear help is on the way.

Wheeler on rating the Penguins prospects poorly: When you trade away first and second-round picks for as long as they have and the draft isnt a focus, its tough. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have done an outstanding job developing prospects, but the Penguins havent had the draft picks, and when they have, they havent drafted particularly well in recent memory.

GM Bob Murray and his group have done a great job hanging on to picks and drafting well, one of the reasons why the Ducks have been perennial playoff contenders for a long time. But questionable marks from the panel in the prospect category suggests its thinning out. The 2021-22 season projects to be a challenging one. A 37-year-old Ryan Kesler will be playing for $6.875 million. The Ducks will have money and term tied up in Adam Henrique, who will be in his 30s. The Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf contracts will be off the books, which is a plus financially, but the franchise will also be tasked with replacing two players who were a big part of a long stretch of success.

Bourne on why he rated the coach and management group higher than other panelists: I really like their GM there (Bob Murray). I think he makes good decisions. They continually have high-end personnel. Im not real high on Randy Carlyle. When youre considering these things you find the middle balance in how much you trust each guy in each group.

This low ranking is all about whats at the top in Ottawa. Panelists recognized that there is good, young talent in Ottawa in the prospects category. But the Senators got crushed with a 1 in ownership and market. Its nearly impossible to win in the NHL without strong ownership setting the tone at the top, and even as the Senators bring in young talent, theres little faith that the right decisions will be made to support that talent.

Luszczyszyn on why he rated Ottawas cap situation poorly despite the Senators having future cap space I just feel like having one player signed in 2021-22 and that player being Bobby Ryan for $7.3 million, it seems not ideal. Especially when your two best players are up for contracts after this year in Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. Considering the long-term outlook for the team, I cant see them re-signing. Theyre going to have a very empty cap situation going forward, but they just have no players in 2022. I think thats not good.

There was a case to be made that the Kings should have had one last gasp playoff run in them with the core of their championship teams. Certainly, that was the thought process in bringing in Ilya Kovalchuk this summer. But it hasnt played out that way at all and the outlook doesnt get any brighter moving forward. Theres debate over the quality of high-end young talent in the system. Panelists rightly have questions about the direction of management and an interim coaching staff. And the future cap situation is bleak. For example, in the 2021-22 season, 37-year-old Dustin Brown will be earning $5.875 million. A 34-year-old Anze Kopitar will still have two years left on his deal at $10 million per season. Goalie Jonathan Quick, who already has trouble staying healthy, will be 35 and earning $5.8 million. Thats a problem.

Wheeler on his low rating for the Kings young core and prospects: There are a couple prospects there that I like. I like Rasmus Kupari, hes had a great year in Finland. Outside that, theyre an aging veteran team and the fact that they dont have more players like Kupari and prospects of that caliber is going to be a real issue for them going forward.



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: , 15 2018 16:28:09


LeBrun: Assessing nine potential William Nylander trade destinations, other notes from GMs meeting


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Sitting in his office, a bright, open space overlooking the Edmonton Oilers practice rink, Peter Chiarelli cant help but laugh at his predicament.

As the Oilers GM, Chiarelli finds himself in the catbirds seat of stewarding along one of the greatest young talents ever in Connor McDavid. Its a position his contemporaries around the NHL would undoubtedly sign up for in a heartbeat.

The one drawback, however, is the salary McDavid commands for his superstardom which has, at least for now, put Chiarelli in a bind in terms of the rest of his roster compilation.

Dressed in a grey suit, his face featuring specks of stubble, Chiarellis not meaning to complain nor is he intending to sound surprised.

Hired by the Oilers barely a week after they won the 2015 draft lottery and the right to select No. 97, Chiarelli could see this scenario playing out from that moment.

A player like that comes along once every 20 years, in my opinion, Chiarelli said. I knew at some point that was going to have to happen.

But when you have a player like that, and then you have Leon (Draisaitl), its almost like what is the other decision? Whats the alternative?

After losing their first two games of the season, the Oilers have rebounded nicely. Theyre now 8-5-1 after losing 4-2 Monday to the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals. McDavid, naturally, has led the way with 22 points in 14 games.

While contributions from players on the low end of the salary scale have been more plentiful lately PTO Alex Chiasson has six goals and Drake Caggiula has five Chiarellis naysayers have criticized the way hes managed talent around McDavid.

Having high-priced players like McDavid and Draisaitl means Chiarelli feels hes had to take a longer-term approach in his attempt to construct a roster like his Cup-calibre teams in Boston. There, he quickly secured top talent in net, on the blue line and at centre.

Its a completely different ballgame here, he said. Theres a whole different set of variables and then youve got Connor.

Chiarelli has come under fire after the Oilers plummeted to 78 points and well out of the playoffs last season after nearly making the Western Conference final the year before.

It doesnt take a Harvard graduate which Chiarelli is to know a similar scenario cant happen again for the sake of his job. Not that he believes it will.

Chiarelli calls the Oilers a playoff team, citing his confidence the team has learned from its recent failure, improvement from younger players, and an enhanced coaching staff that includes new assistants Trent Yawney, Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros.

Chiarelli is a man known for leading with conviction. And with McDavid in tow for the long haul, hes confident his vision for success in Edmonton is the right one.

McDavid hadnt even slipped on his Oilers sweater as the first overall pick of the 2015 NHL draft when Chiarelli knew the way hed have to shape his new team couldnt immediately mirror his Boston method.

Chiarelli was hired to be the sixth general manager of the Oilers that April, within weeks hed be picking the most-hyped prospect since Sidney Crosby.

McDavid had the potential to become one of the NHLs top pivots and do so almost instantly. But having such amazing talent meant McDavid could almost certainly command an eight-digit annual salary coming out of his entry-level contract.

Thats exactly what happened. McDavid won the Hart and Art Ross trophies in his second season and signed an eight-year contract worth $12.5 million per season thereafter. McDavids deal kicked in this season, a year behind Draisaitls $8.5-million annual pact of the same term.

He could have gotten more money, without question. He could have gotten shorter term. So, then what happens? Youve got to get ahead of it, Chiarelli said. That means, you know what, some other pieces may have to go. Some other pieces that may be expensive in a year or two may have to go.

One of Chiarellis main objectives has been bolstering the amateur scouting staff. He brought in Keith Gretzky, his former assistant GM in Boston, and theres been a 75 percent turnover rate in his scouting staff.

McDavid and Draisaitl are being paid $21 million or more than a quarter of the room under the $79.5-million salary cap. Plus, theres the $6 million a year being given to both Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

That means Chiarelli must be prudent in how he fills out the rest of his roster. At least for now.

Without an endless supply of money to bring in star players to complement McDavid and Draisaitl, Chiarelli thinks back to his time when he was part of the Ottawa Senators management team almost two decades ago.

With the Senators in a cash crunch even before the salary cap, GMs Marshall Johnston and John Muckler often used forward pairs instead of lines. The premise was that two talented forwards could carry the third and wingers like Andreas Dackell and Magnus Arvedson could play up in the lineup.

The Senators teams at the turn of the century were almost always contenders.

Ideally in your top six, youd like to have six top-six players, Chiarelli said. But sometimes you cant.

As a result, Chiarelli is modelling the Oilers after a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins, which employs high-priced superstars like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and a bevy of players making around $1 million.

The benefit to the contracts signed by Crosby, Malkin and Kris Letang at least five years ago is that they look like more of a bargain each season as the salary cap continues to rise.

Thats part of Chiarellis plan.

Hes straightforward and logical, an agent who has a client on the Oilers said.

A similar scenario is bound to play out in Edmonton. There should be more money available for Chiarelli to fill out the roster with better talent each season as McDavid and Draisaitl remain in the primes of their careers.

If Im still around, he said, chuckling.

In this position, you make these decisions for the benefit of the organization. Your plan is to fulfill that objective. Shit happens along the way. Sometimes it doesnt work out. But from the global perspective, as far as planning for the Oilers, thats pretty much what had to be done.

Its a method that slowly but surely paid dividends in Boston.

Hired by the Bruins in May 2006, Chiarelli spent his first summer on the job signing Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron to long-term contracts that made up almost 40 percent of the salary cap. The salary cap increased more than $15 million as the deals were expiring, which allowed Chiarelli to sign someone like Nathan Horton heading into the 2010-11 season. Horton was a key piece on Bostons Cup-winning team in 2011.

It was a gradual process to reach the top in Boston. The Bruins missed the playoffs in 2006-07, and followed that up with a first and two second-round exits the latter one saw them blow a 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia before their championship season.

Chiarelli continues in his efforts to make the Oilers a championship-calibre team in this his fourth year in Edmonton.

Chiarelli may have been a rookie GM when he was hired by the Bruins, but he was far from green as a hockey executive.

He got his start in the business as a player agent and eventually moved on to the Senators as director of legal relations, before becoming their assistant GM. He put those connections to good use in his early days with the Bruins.

Two of his biggest moves were signing Savard and Chara on successive days just weeks into taking the job. Savards agent was Chiarellis mentor, Larry Kelly, whereas the new GM had helped acquire Chara from the Islanders when he was in Ottawa. (That deal also saw the Sens acquire a first-round pick that was used to select Jason Spezza, while Alexei Yashin was shipped out of town.)

Over his first few years in Boston, Chiarelli brought in past clients like Aaron Ward, Glen Metropolit, Shane Hnidy, Stephane Yelle, and Dennis Seidenberg players of character he believed could help transform the makeup of the franchise on and off the ice.

Its pretty plain to see, but its pretty hard to accomplish, Chiarelli said. The common denominator is you want character guys.

That just happens to be the type of player Chiarelli was when he played.

Growing up in Nepean, in the west end of Ottawa, Chiarelli was perhaps a better baseball catcher than he was on the ice. The decision to become a hockey player was made partially because his father, Frank, starred in college for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Chiarelli attended camp for the Kitchener Rangers, they wanted the forward to try out again a year later. He opted to forgo junior. I realized I wasnt a blue-chip prospect, he said.

He played four years for Harvard, bringing other attributes to the table when he couldnt quite match his fathers skill.

Peter was not a flashy player. He was a good, honest, up-and-down player. But he played the game hard and every night he went out there, you knew what you were gonna get, said Harvard coach Bill Cleary Jr., who once played for the Crimson against Chiarellis dad.

Chiarelli helped Harvard earn a berth in the 1986 NCAA championship game only to lose to Michigan State by a goal. His teammates named him captain the following season as a senior and he earned their respect for being dependable and for his leadership.

If there was a play to be made, he was going to make the play, leading scorer Lane MacDonald said. He was always in the right place.

He had broad shoulders, Bruins GM Don Sweeney, his college teammate said. He could take some criticism and swallow it. He understood what the dynamic of the locker room was and when good players were needed and when foot soldiers were needed.

He was known for being positive and not lamenting defeats, while the advice he offered carried plenty of weight. When he spoke, kids listened, Cleary said. He didnt do it that much, but when he did he had something pertinent to say.

If you had any issue, you could also go to Pete, said defenceman Mark Benning, uncle of Oilers blueliner Matt Benning.

Despite being the same age, Benning joined the Crimson a year after Chiarelli, transferring from Notre Dame when its hockey program dissolved. Benning was adopted as an extra roommate by Chiarelli and Mark Carney, now Governor of the Bank of England.

Chiarelli studied with Carney and Seth Goldman the founder of Honest Tea, which was sold to Coca-Cola in 2011 and Benning noticed he could more than hold his own academically.

When he wasnt working toward his economics degree or on the ice, it was common to see Chiarelli talking strategies with Cleary. I always considered him a student of the game, said Benning, whose brother Jim Benning, the Vancouver Canucks GM, worked for Chiarelli in Boston.

Although he went to Great Britain to play for a season after graduating from Harvard, Chiarelli figured he wasnt long for pro hockey at least on skates.

Chiarelli returned to Ottawa where he began to chart the course for a future in management. It didnt surprise me, Cleary said. He loved hockey. He has a good feel for the game and understands players.

He started by scouting locally for Harvard at the request of MacDonald, who retired amid concussions and became an assistant coach in 1990.

Chiarelli found MacDonald some Ottawa-based players, although Harvards strict academic standards kept them out. Still, it proved to be the starting point of his career.

I enjoyed it. I felt that I was good at evaluating players, Chiarelli said. I started thinking about getting into the hockey business.

After finishing his law degree at the University of Ottawa, Chiarelli didnt have much interest in being a corporate lawyer. Instead, he joined Kelly, prominent player agent, and helped him by recruiting players and supporting their off-ice needs.

Kelly knew the Chiarelli family well. Chiarellis uncle, Bob, played for Clarkson University before becoming mayor of Ottawa and a Member of Provincial Parliament; he was also coached in football at U of O by another of Chiarellis uncles, Jim. Kelly eventually coached baseball himself and would see young Peter at the diamonds.

Kelly gave Chiarelli a chance to get his feet wet in the hockey business, but the professional relationship was always going to have an expiration date.

One of the things Chiarelli told Kelly upon starting work was that he aspired to work in management for an NHL team. But that doesnt mean Chiarelli was a yes-man, coasting with one foot out the door. He matched Kellys work ethic and would present detailed reasoning if he disagreed with one of Kellys plans.

I need that kind of person thats not intimidated, Kelly said. He could present his case and disagree with me but present it in a very professional way. That was a huge positive for me.

Adds Chiarelli: I think we butted heads for a while, but he realized that my perspective was a cogent, thought-out one.

Chiarelli worked for Kelly for five years before he got his break into the NHL in 2000 when Johnston and the Senators came calling. Chiarelli was named director of legal relations.

With the Senators in financial troubles, it was Chiarellis job to, as Johnston put it, be efficient with the owners money.

Chiarelli watched over the 23-man roster and was involved in preliminary negotiations as the Senators tried to retain as many members of their talented core as possible, within their tight budget.

He was part of a staff that included current Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, now-Montreal Canadiens vice-president of player personnel Trevor Timmins, and Frank Jay the director of amateur scouting who most recently worked for the Oilers for two years until his death in August.

He was in on practically every part of the business except drafting players, Johnston said.

The office was the main job site for Chiarelli, but Johnston encouraged him to get out and watch games featuring the Senators drafted players so hed have a baseline on their skills when talking to their agents.

We had a bit of a threadbare situation in Ottawa. I benefited from that, Chiarelli said.

A promotion to assistant GM under Muckler followed, his last step before landing in the big chair in Boston.

It was in Boston that Chiarelli established himself as one of the top GMs in the game, someone who earned the admiration of his peers when it came time to negotiate a trade.

I like dealing with him because theres nothing hidden, Pittsburgh counterpart Jim Rutherford said. He just says it the way it is. Hes up front in everything he says. Hes a kind of guy that I respect and like to deal with.

Chiarelli became just the third man to guide the Bruins to a Stanley Cup, following Art Ross and Milt Schmidt, and led them to a second final appearance in 2013. A few months later, he was part of the management team for Canadas Olympic team.

Sweeney, a former Bruins defenceman and Chiarellis former assistant GM in Boston, counts Chiarellis ability to navigate the collective bargaining agreement was his best asset.

I think he gave me a completely different perspective, Sweeney said. Coming from playing the game and knowing the game from the inside of the locker room, I appreciated learning what it took coming from the outside.

Hed been away from the game for a long time. Maybe thats what he was doing as a captain and not a primary player in college. He was taking stock of things. He did that very well (as well as) mapping things out and planning. But it was also doing the work and having the stones to make tough decisions at times, knowing it wasnt going to be popular.

Success with the Oilers hasnt come as easily. Chiarellis teams in Boston missed the postseason twice in nine seasons. Thats already happened in his three campaigns in Edmonton.

Last season was particularly disappointing, especially since many pundits predicted the Oilers would improve on their second-round showing. Prognosticators perhaps aimed too high. Regardless, the Oilers fell short.

The leap for me was to remain a contender and make the playoffs, Chiarelli said. That would have been the leap as far as growing the team.

Despite being named a finalist for the NHLs GM of the year award when the Oilers made the playoffs, Chiarellis biggest moves were called into question last season.

It didnt help that Taylor Hall, the 2010 No. 1 pick who was traded for blueliner Adam Larsson, won the Hart Trophy with New Jersey and the player signed to serve as a replacement on the wing, Lucic, scored only once after Christmas.

You know deep down they were the right things to do, Chiarelli said. And you stand by that.

Lucic had a down year last year, he said. Hes shown that hes played significantly better this year. I knew that he would. But last year was tough. There was a lot of money for that player.

I know hes a character guy. I know hes a proud guy. That was part of the equation when we signed him for leadership. It didnt work out last year. It worked out the year before. Now it looks like its working out. You look at someone like Dustin Brown in L.A. Players have down years. Free agent players arent cheap.

Criticism comes with the territory as an NHL GM, especially when things dont go smoothly.

Having worked for two Canadian teams and in hockey-crazed Boston, Chiarelli has seen and heard his fair share of it.

You know you will be wrong at some point, MacDonald said. But youve still gotta pull the trigger and take the heat. The worst thing you can do is not do anything because youre afraid of that. Pete just has conviction.

Hes gonna make the decisions. Hes gonna pull the trigger. Hell be wrong sometimes, but history suggests, with the Cup in Boston and what hes done over his career, hes right a lot.

Being able to disregard most of the negativity and focus on his work is one of his biggest strengths, Sweeney said.

That was challenging to do last year. Chiarelli has felt fans wrath, and I dont blame them.

Theres still so much of the season left and, with so many young or unproven players being relied upon, the Oilers arent assured of anything when it comes to a playoff spot.

But with a strategy in place, however, Chiarelli believes theyre on the right track much like Pittsburgh has been.

And, more importantly, he thinks theyll be even better over time as the teams young players evolve and more cap space opens to fortify the roster around an ever-improving McDavid.

Thats kind of the overarching plan, Chiarelli said. But we also want to win now.



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: , 29 2018 10:06:54

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-> The Athletic ? [ : : ]
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(2863) , 09 2011 05:39:05
: brizy, erunc, salan23, sedoy22, ToughTie