It's time for our weekly installment highlighting what's right and what's wrong with the NHL during every week throughout the season. For all the things there are to love about the NHL and its product, there's also plenty to hate and plenty to criticize.
With that in mind, let's hash it out together ... right here ... every single Wednesday.
What's right: The NHL trade deadline
Thehas officially come and gone, and this year's version was a whole lot of fun. It feels like deadline day can often be a big dud, usually due to a lack of major names on the move or some of the more significant trades happening well before the deadline. This year did not disappoint though.
While Artemi Panarin, arguably the most discussed name in the months leading up to the deadline, was not ultimately moved, pretty much every other big name on the trade board ended up getting dealt. The biggest was Mark Stone, who we can also label a winner this week due to the fact that he managed to escape Ottawa in a trade to the Vegas Golden Knights. And he reportedly got an eight-year extension worth north of $9 million per year immediately after the fact. Not bad.
Can you imagine someone giving you more than $70 million to move from Ottawa to Vegas? I might have pulled a muscle jumping to sign the contract so fast.
Most importantly, though, is that this year's trade deadline sets us up very nicely for the postseason, which is somehow right around the corner. A bunch of contending teams addressed needs and got better, including the Golden Knights, Sharks, Jets, Predators, Bruins, Capitals and Blue Jackets (more on them shortly).
Of course, all of these teams are still worse than the Lightning (more on them shortly as well), who were so righteously cocky that they decided to sleep through the entire deadline. And can you blame them? Considering how good Tampa has been all year, I wouldn't mess with anything over there either.
In any case, this year's deadline was a very fun, dramatic experience that helped make things just a bit more interesting as we head into the stretch run of the season. And what more can you ask for from a deadline?
Also, it's time the league stops scheduling games on deadline day. There are plenty of lightly scheduled days on the calendar, so why not make deadline day one of them? Just let that day be all about the moving and shaking. It'd be easier on the players and allow more breathing room for roster alterations.
What's wrong: Nerves in Columbus
One of the most active teams at the deadline was the Columbus Blue Jackets, who acquire Ryan Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators in separate deals, then added Adam McQuaid from the Rangers and Keith Kinkaid from the Devils. They also elected to hold onto Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, two organizational pillars that were discussed as potential trade pieces due to their expiring contracts.
and willing to be extremely aggressive for a chance at a solid playoff run this year. On one hand, I want to respect it because this is a team that has been around for nearly 20 years without a single playoff series win to show for it. They're fed up and they realize that this might be their best shot to make a decent run for the next however many years, and they're hungry enough to take a major gamble.
But on the other hand, this is about as major as a major gamble gets. After their deadline pickups, the Blue Jackets now have just two selections in this summer's draft (a third-rounder and a seventh-rounder) and four major expiring assets (Panarin, Duchene, Dzingel and Bobrovsky). Sure, they can re-sign some of those pieces and maybe they'll be able to recoup some draft picks with trades in the offseason, but also...maybe not? Their future is so far up in the air right now that they might as well be sponsored by NASA.
It's an extremely bold strategy to run your team like you're not going to be playing "Be A GM" mode beyond a single season, especially when the aggressive moves still don't exactly move you into a pole position. Like, the additions of Duchene and Dzingel certainly make Columbus a better and more fearsome team, but does anybody truly believe they're better than Tampa? Are they even better than Boston, Toronto, New York (Islanders), or Washington? The fact that we even have to wonder is probably a bad sign.
I just feel like if you're mortgaging the future as hard as Columbus seems to be, it should be because you're a very good team that wants to be great. I get the sense that this is more of an above average team that wants to be very good. The Jackets are essentially a drowning swimmer that gave up everything for a life vest in the hopes that they'd get saved eventually.
Maybe it'll all work out and we'll look back on it as a stroke of genius that marked a turning point in franchise history, but also there's a pretty decent chance that they gave up everything just to die anyway. But, again, I guess you have to give them credit for taking a chance and not just rolling over and accepting their fate. I just do not envy Columbus fans as they have to watch this team down the stretch knowing there's so much on the line.
What's right: The Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning hit 100 points on Monday night...the same day of the NHL trade deadline. One hundred points at the deadline. Nineteen games remaining. This team is insane.
Also, it's worth pointing out that the Senators have 49 points on the season, which means that the Lightning have beaten them to 50 points...twice.
This team is stupid good.
What's wrong: These Islanders fans
John Tavares will make his return to Long Island on Thursday for the first time since departing for Toronto over the summer. Obviously, that's a pretty big deal and something that Islanders fans have likely had circled on their calendars for months.
I'm sure Tavares will get a mixed reception -- some will be grateful for his contributions as face of the franchise for so many years, while others will still be bitter about him leaving and, more specifically, the way that he approached spurning them in free agency. I don't think it's necessarily wrong to be in either camp.
However, it is most certainly wrong to make a video like this.
It's one thing to boo the guy or to forever hold some resentment toward him, but it's another thing to be grown-as-hell adult and step in front of a camera and be nearly on the verge of tears as you act like he ran over your entire family with his car. Not to mention the fact that we are EIGHT MONTHS removed from Tavares' exit and the Islanders are in FIRST PLACE. Against all odds, the team is thriving without him.
Grow the hell up and move on already, you pathetic losers.
Let's check in with the 2017 Senators
Hey, remember when the Ottawa Senators were an overtime goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2017? Well, here we are two years later and that improbable playoff run seems like it happened a decade ago, largely because almost every single member of that Sens team is no longer in Ottawa.
Over the past 12 months alone, the Sens have traded:
This neat little graphic helps put things into perspective:
Please hug a Senators fan in your life.