This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.

Teams:

  • that the Vegas Golden Knights would lead their division with games in hand after Thanksgiving…
  • the Detroit Red Wings would hold a playoff spot and the Montreal Canadien’s who won the division last year would not…
  • at the quarter pole the best record in the NHL would belong to a healthy Tampa Bay Lightning would lead the NHL in points, wins, home wins, and goal differential…
  • the Pittsburgh Penguins would have the fifth lowest goals per game in the NHL..
  • the New York Islander’s would have the 2nd highest goals for per game and be barely 8th in the overall NHL standings after all their off season forward turnover.
  • the Saint Louis Blues would have lost the third most man games to injury and still be the best team in the west after Thanksgiving
  • after going to the second round in the spring the Edmonton Oilers would be back to their seemingly traditional position in the bottom five in the NHL.

Players:

  • the goalie controversy in Boston wouldn’t be who was going to be backing up Tuukka Rask this year, but when he would be allowed to take the net again
  • we would have two players over 1.5 goals per game (Steven Stamkos & Nikita Kucherov) who are not named Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, or even McDavid.
  • none of the last five Norris Trophy awardees (Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Duncan Keith, P.K. Subban) would be in the top 3 in scoring among defensemen.
  • that Mike Green who has only passed the 40 point mark once since the 2009-10  season would be among the top 10 defensemen in scoring.
  • the NHL’s highest scoring rookie would be Brock Boeser of Vancouver Canucks and he’d have a line of 11-10-21 through 19 games with three game winning goals
  • at the quarter point of the season 553 players would have scored at least one goal versus 774 total last year to do the same

This season will see lots of players in unfamiliar situations. Some are on new teams, some have had their teams overhauled, and others will be climbing up the depth chart. With all the movement, all the acquired experience, some players are due to rise and rise fast.

Jiri Tlusty has spent two full seasons in the Carolina Hurricanes system after three years with the Leafs. In that time he’s only hit double digits in goals twice. Last season was one of those years, and this might just be his year. In his 228 career games he’s go a meager 74 points, this year don’t be surprised if he cracks the 20 goal and fifty point plateaus, 25/55 isn’t outside possibility either.

Brandon Sutter has the unenviable job of filling Jordan Staal’s spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins depth chart. The good news for him is that everyone is expected to start the season healthy, meaning even if he’s on the ice, given the Penguins depth at forward, he’ll be the third or fourth player most opposing defenses look for, at least for a little while.

Anton Khudobin regardless of who owns the title of number one goaltender in Boston by the end of the season, all Khudobin has to do to have played his last AHL game is simply play smart. If he can do a solid job even as the number two, he will get a lot of interest from other teams when he becomes a UFA next July 1.

Justin Falk I’m a firm believer the best thing you can do for a young defenseman’s development is give them a good mentor. Falk and the Wild’s other youngins are going to have Suter to lean on. Look for his points to double, and his plus-minus to get a lot easier to look at.

Bryan Allen has never been known for his offensive touch. This year he’ll be playing alongside guys like Cam Fowler, and behind Perry, Getzlaf, and possibly Ryan. If Hiller can regain his mojo Allen might just have personal best point totals, and make it to the post season for the first time in since the last lockout. With all the offensive talent on this team, him hitting 30-35 points, as much as ten more than his previous career high is almost a given.

David Perron given the injuries this man has faced in the last couple seasons, last year might be considered a breakout season. 42 points in 57 games is a solid contribution on a very defensive minded team. Do not be surprised if he pops in seventy points this season. It is more than within his talent, and that even allows for the defensive nature of the Blues system.

Sam Gagner Its hard to remember that despite the 8 point night Gagner had about an average season for himself last year. Coming into this season though, there is no reason he can’t get slotted in between top six talent. Eberle, Hall, Paajarvi, Smyth, and potentially Yakupov this team should have a good amount of offense.

With the Philadelphia Flyers out of the greatest sports tournament it all comes down to goaltending. We have a living legend in New Jersey. Martin Brodeur is arguably the greatest goaltender of all time. His statistical records hold records. Mike Smith was discarded by the Tampa Bay Lightning and seen by many in Phoenix as no more than a stand in until a “good goalie” could be found. Well, surprise surprise, Mike Smith is possibly the next best puck handler in the NHL among goaltenders after New Jersey’s juggernaut. The stand-in also has a modest .948sv% this post season. Either the King Henrik Lundqvist, or the baby of the bunch Braden Holtby will advance in the other series, neither has much to complain about this post season. And then there’s the hands down favorite to win the Conn-Smythe, the All American Jonathan Quick, the King of King’s owns the playoffs this year.

With the draft approaching and the resolution of ownership issues for several teams (Sabres, Jets, Blues, Stars, Devils and in theory the Coyotes), the trading action as teams attempt to clear space to go after this summers big fish could be the biggest we’ve seen in years. Parise and Suter will be the biggest fish on the market, but don’t expect Carlo Colaiacovo, Semin, Parenteau, and the rest of the second or even third tier to come cheap. If the market for skaters is shallow, the goalie market probably isn’t even deep enough to wet the whole tread on your average sneaker. Clemmensen, Harding, Vokoun and that’s about it.Vokoun ended the season on the shelf, Harding is injury prone, and Clemmensen has never managed to hold down a starting job.

Jordan Staal is the new sexy. Since the idea was first kicked about that he might need to be moved to make it possible for the Penguins to extend Sidney Crosby and Evgani Malkin. But let’s not get excited over nothing. The salary cap could rise significantly over the next two off seasons. The Devils have restructured their ownership. The Stars have been bought, the Canes look like they’ll be opening their purse for company for Eric Staal. The Sabres are now spending to the Cap, and the Blues could have new ownership. On top of that the Coyotes are of course (again) near new ownership, and the Panthers and Lightning, not to mention the Winnipeg Jets have committed stable ownership and management.

If the salary cap goes up even four million in the next two years, the Penguins have all the space they need to keep all three. They can even keep other top components like Kris “Submarine” Letang, Zbynek Michalek, and some others. All of the current defense is 31 or younger, James Neal may have gotten a new deal this year but other players will need deals or to be replaced in the next two or three years as well.

Then there is the question of health. In the last two seasons, Jordan Staal has averaged 52 games played. That’s not great. His first four seasons he only missed one game, but the drop off is alarming. Then there is the health of his teammates. Crosby has missed extensive time. In three of his seven seasons Crosby has played less than sixty games, this season he played just twenty two games and with multiple concussions the question of how many more hits his career survives is always on the table. Evgani Malkin’s had injuries to both knees, his shoulder, feet and not played every game since the 08-09 season. Knee’s in particular don’t get better with time and wear.

The question has to be asked if it’s to the best option for trade is Jordan Staal. With the injuries to Malkin and Crosby he’s spent time as the number one and number two center. He’s also spent a reasonable amount of time at wing. As an excellent two way presence on a team decidedly lacking in a history of attention to defensive niceties, he might be more valuable than any return that could be reasonably acquired. Both Malkin and Crosby could be traded for an almost unlimited return. Using the trade of RFA 36 goal scorer Phil Kessel as a bench mark, or even Ilya Kovalchuk, the return for either star could be enormous and pay dividends for a decade or more.

We’ll know when and how much teams won about June 15, and again a few days later on draft day. The biggest impacts from here on should be apparent almost from the word go.

Winners:

The Nashville Predators have to be considered the biggest winners of the trading season. They added Hal Gill for leadership, defense first mentality, and Cup winning experience. They added Paul Gaustad who at 6 foot 5 and 212lbs becomes the largest forward in their top nine. Better still, they kept the BlackHawks (among others) from adding Gill’s experience or Gaustad’s size, the only real wild card is the addition of Andrei Kostitsyn. I have to give that at least a neutral for the rest of the season because he will get to play with Gill and his brother again, both of whom can help with the adjustment and give him someone he’s got some comfort with.

The Colorado Avalanche made a quiet move. It might get overlooked, and it won’t help them a great deal this year, but picking up Jamie McGinn is a good move because he’s a gamer. He doesn’t just lace up the skates and get on the ice, he goes out there and takes the ice. A lot of hits, a player who ends most years with more takeaways than giveaways. This doesn’t remake the whole character of team that needs serious reshaping but it is a start.

The Buffalo Sabres got the first round pick they wanted for Gaustad, and picked up some young skill in Cody Hodgson. Best of all in picking up a former Canuck they get someone who will put no stock in what Brad Marchand said about Buffalo being the worst place in the NHL.

Losers:

The Washington Capitals lose. While the team isn’t going anywhere this season, the chance to jettison pieces that won’t be retained for assets either picks, prospects or players that may help in the future.

The St Louis Blues are also losers from inertia. Outside of their goaltending this team is aggressively average. They are 23rd in goals for, 27th on the powerplay, and 14th on the penalty kill. There is a lot of validity to the argument that having Andy McDonald back in the lineup is the best trade they could make, but other teams like Nashville and Detroit got deeper and Vancouver got got tougher.

It’s time to for a mad dash across the internet to stay up on what’s new in the hockey universe.

The Dallas Stars aren’t buyers or sellers (or in the playoffs) but they at least know who they are. Ben Kuzma

Ben Bishop was traded from the St Louis Blues to the Ottawa Senators. Peter Raaymakers

An interesting list of forwards only who might be moved before the deadline. A.K. Bennet

Calgary is not in a good position right now. Jay Feaster is rightfully unhappy. Derrik Newman

Some of the prospects who may be in motion include some rather large bodies. Christopher Ralph

Wonder why the New York Rangers might be willing to part with Dubinsky as  part of the #Ransom4Rick? Hockey Rodent

A certain unnamed internet blogger from Vancounver recently posted this in a well known location claiming Zdeno Chara lost the fight.

A fight in which Neil doesn’t ever land a punch…HockeyFights.com

A plea not to fix what isn’t broken from an Anaheim Ducks blogger. Jen Neale

A run down of this seasons NHL trade deadline. Hockey This Week

Officiating in college hockey. Eric Burton

AJ Ried has made a commitment worth saluting.  Nathan Fournier

Paul Kelly talks about his resignation. United States of Hockey

The Fargo Force are looking good. Ryan Clark