With the regular season just more than two months away, sportsbooks have released OVER/UNDER point totals for all 31 NHL teams that include some familiar suspects at the top.
The Tampa Bay Lightning (108.5 points), Toronto Maple Leafs (101.1), Boston Bruins (100.5), Vegas Golden Knights (100.5) and Colorado Avalanche (98.5) have been tabbed as having the best chance to produce the top records in the NHL at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Nashville Predators (97.5) are also high on the board, with five teams having a line of 96.5 – the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals.
Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto, along with Florida, who signed star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency, all reside in the Atlantic Division. But it is possible that all four could hit the OVER, since (a) Tampa Bay has some cushion for a regression after piling up 128 points in 2018-19 and (b) three teams among the five lowest in OVER/UNDER point totals also reside in the Atlantic.
Boston, of course, will have had by far the shorter recovery period of the four after reaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Out in the Western Conference, Vegas has a largely unchanged roster from the team that has averaged 101 points in the franchise’s first two seasons. Colorado could also hit the OVER on those NHL betting lines as young stars Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen continue blossoming.
The New Jersey Devils have the biggest positive difference between their 2018-19 showing (72 points) and their OVER/UNDER (88.5). The notion there is that the Devils will bounce back with both a healthy season from left wing Taylor Hall, who had a knee injury last season, and the addition of first overall pick Jack Hughes and veteran defenseman P.K. Subban.
Conversely, the Columbus Blue Jackets (98 points to an OVER/UNDER of 84.5) have the most pessimistic prop in terms based on year-over-year drop, thanks to the departures of Bobrovsky, center Matt Duchene (Nashville) and left wing Artemi Panarin (New York Rangers).
The Ottawa Senators (68.5), Los Angeles Kings (73.5), Detroit Red Wings (75.5), Anaheim Ducks (79.5) and Buffalo Sabres (83.5) have the most modest point projections. Ottawa is the only team that finished with fewer than 70 points in each of the last two seasons and not much has changed that would suggest a breakout from the Senators.
Last week, everyone received a notification from Leafs PR. No, it was not THE notification. Just a simple alert that veteran goaltender, Michal Neuvirth had been signed to a PTO.
We have reached the point in the summer where people argue on Twitter over the most mundane topics. But this…this is actually interesting to me. Having done a full evaluation on Neuvirth, he is objectively better than any goaltender not named “Andersen” in the Leafs organization, and an upgrade over the backup, last season.
Speaking of that backup, let’s touch on him for a quick sec.
Garret Sparks was a 7th round pick, and anytime a 7th round pick plays any games for your organization, it’s undoubtedly a net positive. Sparks was suspended by the organization while with the Marlies in 2016, yet, Piero Greco got him back on track where he won AHL Goalie of the Year and a Calder Cup.
Last year, the Leafs lot two goalies to waivers to keep him, when he was probably the 4th best option. I would say they were never keeping McElhinney because keeping a 35-year-old guy over a 25-year-old guy (that you’ve spent years developing) is not great asset management. Now, did he play a lot last season? No. Did he deserve to? No. Were people unnecessarily harsh on him? I would say so. But for him to imply he didn’t get an opportunity in Toronto when you look the run of events that occurred, from suspension to losing better options, is patently false and very unfair.
Now, on to the guy the Leafs brought in.
The fact of the matter is, Neuvirth only played 7 games last season due to injury. That is not nearly enough sample size to make ANY kind of judgement. It was also Philadelphia, and we know what they’ve done to goaltenders over the past decade. However, Neuvirth has always been a goalie of interest to me, even dating back to his days in Washington.
When speaking to others in hockey about goalies, Neuvirth was always a name I brought up, especially as it pertained to the Leafs.
Frederik Andersen should not be playing 60+ games. I’m a bit of a goalie nerd; I love studying goalie styles, talking to goalie coaches, and looking at next steps. What Boston and the Islanders did with their goalies last year worked wonders, with both teams employing tandems to great success. Rask and Halak started 45 and 37 games, respectively, and Lehner and Greiss played 43 and 39 games, respectively. That decreased workload showed when Rask was the Bruins’ best player throughout the playoffs, and Lehner had the best season of his career.
Moral of the story: Andersen should play ~50 games in order to achieve peak performance in the playoffs.
Neuvirth, over his career, has shown to be capable of playing 25-30 games with a ~.917 SV% in those seasons. It should be noted that I used algorithm tracked data, not the NHL data (which is wrong A LOT), and therefore, the numbers will be a little different.
On the 2014-15 Sabres, who were actively trying to tank to an embarrassing degree, Neuvirth managed a .914 SV%. I remember thinking what a feat that was at the time, since Buffalo’s lineup was barely AHL-calibre, in terms of talent. The next season, he posted a .927 in 32 appearances with Philly. In 2016-17, the Flyers weren’t good, and Neuvirth regressed to a .909 (NHL had him at .891) SV% in 28 games. He bounced back to a .931 in 20117-18, after collapsing in April 2017, and being diagnosed with a concussion.
Want to know who else has been a yo-yo with a really bad lower body injury? Pekka Rinne.
I am very not saying that Neuvirth is Rinne; he’s not. I’m saying Rinne has a history of good season, bad season, repeat. He also had major hip surgery, and managed to return to form. Given the track record of Toronto’s sports science and medical staff, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that Neuvirth could return to his Buffalo form.
Why? For starters, I went back and compared Neuvirth to league average in every season since 2015-16 for all shots. Removing last season, because he was injured, let’s examine 2015-2018, which is three seasons.
I have left last season in the chart, as it is his most recent.
As you can see, Neuvirth was .909 or better in all three seasons. He was at, or above, league average in two of those seasons. It should be noted, that league average includes starting goaltenders; and in many studies, backups ranking at, or above league average is a very good sign.
Moving to the high danger areas, the slot and inner slot, backup goaltenders tend to rank below starters, and well below league average. Neuvirth definitely fits the bill here, as he’s below average in high danger SV%.
The biggest reason for why I think he’s a potential bounce-back candidate is his playing style.
Both McElhinney and Sparks play a Hasek-esque style, in that it looks like they are swimming in the crease. Neuvirth is much calmer and concise in his movements. He is 6’1 – shorter than both former backups – but rarely finds himself sliding out of the net, or in awkward positions. Neuvirth’s smaller stature forces him to play that calmer game, as he doesn’t take up as much of the net.
I believe Neuvirth has the most success when he’s at the top of his crease. He plays a little too deep in his net for my liking, especially as a smaller goaltender. When he cuts angles down and challenges the shooter, he’s shown that he’s able to make quality saves on a consistent basis.
Frederik Andersen spoke of how Steve Briere worked with him on challenging the shooter more and being more calculated in his movements. He’s had success since making those style adjustments, similar to the ones I believe Neuvirth needs to make here. Andersen’s height allows him to play a little deeper, but concise movements that he’s added to his game since working with Briere are the ones that Neuvirth will need to perfect in order to regain form.
For my money, I’ll take the more technically sound goalie who’s had a bad year, over the guys who play like fish out of water and give the coaches heart palpitations. One style is significantly more conducive to success, repeatable, and instils confidence in teammates.
Give Neuvirth a chance, he’s the best option the Leafs have, and if he can regain his form, will give Andersen the much-needed break.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Calgary Flames will be moving to a new home… about 500 meters north of the Scotiabank Saddledome. City council has voted to ratify the tentative deal between the Flames, the city and the Calgary Stampede to construct a new arena in Victoria Park.
Following a presentation by the negotiating team and several hours of debate, the vote on council was 11-4 in favour of ratifying the deal:
- For (11): Naheed Nenshi, Ward Sutherland, Joe Magliocca, Jyoti Gondek, Sean Chu, Jeff Davison, Gian-Carlo Carra, Ray Jones, Shane Keating, Diane Colley-Urquhart and Peter Demong
- Against (4): George Chahal, Druh Farrell, Evan Woolley and Jeromy Farkas
As previously discussed at length, the deal will see the Flames and the city each pay for half of a $550 million facility – $275 million for each side. The city will be paid back an estimated $155.1 million via their cut of the facility’s revenues and $2.5 million from their piece of the building’s naming rights, while the Flames would be locked into a 35-year lease and committed through that agreement to provide community sports organizations with $75 million in funding over that period (similar to their current lease with the Saddledome Foundation). The Flames will contribute 10% of the costs of demolition of the ‘Dome, up to a maximum of $1.5 million, and will have the option to purchase some nearby city land prior to the opening of the new arena.
The deal was ratified just eight days after tentative deal was announced, four months after this round of negotiations began formally, 14 months after the Event Centre Assessment Committee was formed, and roughly 14 years after the whole process of replacing the Saddledome began.
The arena is set to be built two blocks north of the Saddledome, on two blocks located between Olympic Way and 5th Street SE and 12th and 14th Avenue SE that are currently used as Stampede parking lots. It continues a lengthy tradition of the city’s primary arena being located in Victoria Park – following Victoria Arena (opened prior to World War I), the Stampede Corral (opened in 1950) and the Saddledome (opened in 1983).
Along with expansion of BMO Centre, the arena (or “event centre” in city hall’s verbiage) is considered a big part of the development of a cultural and entertainment district in East Victoria Park. Development of the arena and the district as a whole will be managed by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.
Contracts, design and consultations will be undertaken for the next while. A Spring 2021 ground-breaking is probable, with the building opening for operation prior to the 2024-25 season. We’ll have more details on timelines, mock-ups, designs and number of washrooms as they become available.
Do you think Judd Brackett stays? What have you heard about the rumours about Benning and his amateur staff bickering?
— mike higashi (@hirokidude) July 28, 2019
I don’t get the impression Brackett is in a hurry to leave the Canucks organization. He’s well-respected here and unless he has a desire to move into a management role I think he’s in a good spot for now
As far as the second question goes, I know what you’re referring to- Judd and Jim were at odds over which players to select at times during this year’s draft, and ultimately Brackett was overridden on a number of occasions – but I haven’t really heard it described as “bickering”. Teams generally draft by consensus, or give individual scouts the opportunity to make certain picks, so I don’t think the situation is cause for concern. Not yet, anyway. Jim Benning is a scout at heart and perhaps that will wear on Judd Brackett eventually and he’ll look to move somewhere where he’ll have more control, but I think it’s a little early to speculate.
why don’t you play more video games
— ryan (@verviticus) July 28, 2019
Honestly, the biggest reason is just that I don’t have time. Writing here makes enough income to be considered a job, and I also have a day job that keeps me busy four days out of the week. Between that, doing Roxy Fever, and playing in two bands there just isn’t a lot of time for other stuff.
I also find gaming to have a pacifying effect on me. The system of simulated challenges and rewards satisfies that part of me just enough that I’m less likely to feel motivated to experience real challenges and rewards. I’d imagine that’s probably true for a lot of people, though perhaps not everyone. Either way, I’ve found that I’ve been a happier person when video games aren’t part of my life – less frustrated and more engaged in what’s going on around me.
Trade tanev $4.5M
Sign hutton $2M
Move jordie to RHS
Save $2.5 and should be enough to sign brock eh?
— Johl21 (@johal_21) July 27, 2019
First of all, I don’t know why so many people seem so eager to move Jordie Benn to the right side. General Managers across the league go through the trouble of painstakingly constructing a roster with balanced left and right sides, so I don’t think it’s particularly likely that the Canucks would move out a right-handed D unless they have one ready to step in.
I also don’t think the Canucks have any reason to sign Ben Hutton. He struggled here, and unless he’s got another gear, there are probably better options available at $2 million – perhaps even ones who play the right side.
How many more practices does Utica get compared to the AHL west division with the California teams?
— Ron#1Canucksfan (@RonSimp16154192) July 28, 2019
I honestly don’t know, but I’ve been told more than once by people I respect that it’s a big enough difference to make an impact. I’m not convinced that the trade off is worth it, though. It could very well just be the drafting, but it’s not as though the Comets organization has churned out a ton of NHL regulars. There would be advantages to having the team in California that extend beyond injury call-ups. Chief among them is that the front office have an easier time keeping up with what’s going on in the minors.
To be honest, I’m agnostic on the issue. There are clear advantages and disadvantages and I think anyone who feels very strongly either way is probably selling snake oil.
Can the @VancouverTitans win the season championship? 21-1 but have looked shaky against SFS and Shanghai recently (talking playoffs only)
— DaddySeatoo (@DaddySeatoo) July 28, 2019
21-1 sounds like a championship team to me. I’d like their chances better if they hired Ryan as a consultant.
Why do we think Quinn Hughes is "more dynamic" than Ryan Ellis at the same stage, when Ryan Ellis was pretty boss and one could even argue with NHLe that Ellis was better?
— Kelso (@BertTheTank) July 28, 2019
It’s tough to know where to start with this one. One thing I’ll say is that NHLe isn’t something I put a ton of stock in without other inputs. It’s not particularly advanced and the quality of each of the leagues it takes into account is in a constant state of flux.
When I say Hughes is more dynamic, I’m talking about play style, not point production. Hughes is one of the most brilliant, effortless skaters I’ve ever seen at any level, and his edges are far better than Ellis’ were at the same age. Ellis was a more well-rounded defenseman with a better shot, but when it comes to style, speed, and creativity, I think Hughes has the edge.
A lot of this has to do with era – Ellis’ draft campaign was ten years ago now and the defense position has changed tremendously since then. Defense has moved away from in-zone play and big booming shots from the point towards being more about what you can do in transition. So maybe comparing them at all is unfair. I’ll also admit I saw a lot more of Hughes in his draft year than I did of Ellis when I was in high school. But I think they have less in common stylistically than people think. Outside of their height, they don’t necessarily have a ton in common.
In your opinion are mutual funds safe and profitable for the long term?
— Davis Pow (@davisonfire) July 27, 2019
Look, I know I said you could ask me anything, but I lied.
Would you replace Jim Benning with Iron Mike Keenan & Mark Messier?
— Tommy Spence (@tspence81) July 28, 2019
Mike Keenan and Mark Messier are both proven winners. I don’t see any issue here.
If somebody would have made an unsolicited offer to Aquillini to buy the team, what would that offer be?
— Henry Crutching (@HCrutching) July 27, 2019
I think Kyle covered this one pretty well:
Aquaman isn't selling, owning a legacy property like the Canucks opens a lot of doors in the business and in the political world especially when it comes to real estate development. I can't see them selling the team when it helps them in their primary business.
— Kyle Dillon (@KyleDil52143121) July 28, 2019
The scariest thing about Francesco Aqulini when it comes to hockey operations is that I don’t think he’s purely motivated by money. The Canucks are a cultural touchstone in Vancouver. Having season tickets is a status symbol and games are a networking opportunity. I don’t think the Aquilini Group would sell the team unless someone made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.