It’s been quite the start to the 2017-18 NHL season. The expansion Golden Knights are off to a blazing 5-1 start and are in first place in the Pacific Division. The NHL made sure that the Las Vegas Golden Knights would be competitive this season by limiting the number of players each team could protect during the expansion draft but no one saw this coming. Yeah, it’s early, I know, and the goal for this franchise should still be to figure out who should remain long-term with the club and who should be moved for additional pieces that can help the club for the future. James Neal seems to have been reborn with Vegas, as he already has six goals this season after potting only 23 all last year. Marc-Andre Fleury is currently out with a concussion and while this must be concerning since it’s not the first head injury of his career, he also could be playing for a new team before spring.
The Colorado Avalanche have also been a surprise team this year. They were pretty much left for dead this year but have won four of their first seven games. All eyes are on Matt Duchene. Will he or won’t he be traded? At this point in time, it doesn’t look like he will as there have been no rumors of possible deals and general manager Joe Sakic still wants to be overpaid for the talented center. The play of Duchene isn’t forcing the issue either, as he has gotten off to a fast start with three goals and three assists. He may end up staying with Colorado for the long haul.
Montreal GM Marc Bergevin has been seen at several Islanders games. These two teams have had on and off discussions involving a defenseman since the offseason. The Canadiens have gotten off to a horrible start, 1-4-1, and need help everywhere. They have Alex Galchenyuk, a talented young forward who the Islanders seem to like, and who Montreal seems to have frowned on (demoted to the fourth line). The Islanders are currently carrying eight defensemen on their roster, so a trade of Galchenyuk for one of those defensemen (Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, and Calvin de Haan) could be in the works.
The Rangers have also gotten off to a dismal start, 1-5-1, and what’s most worrisome is that they can’t win at home. The Rangers’ early season schedule was set up for success, with quite a few games at Madison Square Garden, but they haven’t been able to take advantage of them and could be behind the 8-ball, as they try to make the playoffs in what is an extremely competitive Eastern Conference. What is the Rangers’ problem? It’s not just one thing. Henrik Lundquist isn’t the same goaltender he used to be. He’s not terrible, just no longer a brick wall in net. The defense is also part of the problem. It is no longer one of the best units in the NHL. The offense, while deep, lacks a superstar; someone who opposing defenses have to account for.
Speaking of Pulock, the Islanders’ top defensive prospect has yet to play in a game this season. This is odd as it usually doesn’t make much sense to have a young prospect rot away on the bench. Pulock’s greatest talent is a rocket shot. The Islanders have yet to score a power play goal this season. It may be about time to put Pulock in the lineup and on the power play and let him fire away.
In case you missed it, Erik Karlsson returned for the Senators on Tuesday. Obviously, he should immediately be placed back in your lineup.
The Oilers have been a mess since winning their season opener. The Oilers are really a three-man team. They have a mega superstar in Connor McDavid. A star in the making in Leon Draisaitl and a very good goalie in Cam Talbot. The rest of the ream is average at best, so when one of the big three gets hurt, they are in trouble. Well, Draisaitl did get hurt. He suffered a concussion last week that has kept him out of action for the past two games, and the team has looked woeful on offense without him. Draisaitl is not expected to return to the Oilers next game Thursday, but could return Saturday to the top line with McDavid.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz