32 Thoughts: A note on every playoff series and award vote

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to start and Ryan Dixon goes over the teams that will be fighting to get the precious Stanley Cup, in this edition of Power Rankings.

• What’s next for Alex Meruelo and the Coyotes?
• The state of the coaching market
• And some notes on teams that didn’t make the playoffs

Alright, best time of year, playoffs begin today. Awesome. 

But first, NHL Awards ballots were due on Friday. While all votes are made public after the winners accept their trophies, the league and Professional Hockey Writers Association discourage too much revelation beforehand. They don’t want to spoil the show, expected to be June 27 in Las Vegas. But, I do like to give an outline of what I was thinking on my Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Byng choices. (GMs vote for the Vezina, the Broadcasters’ Association handles the Jack Adams.)

Remember: if you think my selections are insanely stupid, it’s because I hate your city, your team and, most importantly, you.

HART: Obviously, it’s a great thing that, six years ago, the voters chose to make their choices public. We ask for transparency, we aim to provide it in return. This year, however, we should invest in body armour. Because there are at least five players who could — and arguably should — win the Hart Trophy. As a result, there will be three occasions where fans, players, organizations, agents, media (we love to clobber each other) are going to be furious: when two very deserving candidates aren’t even finalists, when the winner is revealed and then when the voting is announced. It’s going to be bananas.

One thing I thought a lot about in the past week was round numbers. If Connor McDavid and/or Nikita Kucherov didn’t get 100 assists, does that make their Hart Trophy candidacy less worthy? Auston Matthews didn’t get to 70 goals, but does 69 (nice!) mean he’s less valuable? The more I considered it, the more I felt that reasoning to be absolutely insane. 

I put five forwards on the ballot. In alphabetical order, they were Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and Artemi Panarin. Considered Aleksander Barkov, Sidney Crosby, Connor Hellebuyck, Quinn Hughes and Roman Josi, among others. It was, by far, the hardest call of any award. I’m prepared for 31/32 of the NHL to despise it. (Utah fans are not eligible to hate until training camp.)

NORRIS: It came down to Hughes and Josi, just ahead of Cale Makar. Both had dynamite seasons, the engines on teams that finished well ahead of what was expected. Hughes, according to co-worker David Amber, had the puck on his stick more than any other player in 2023-24. Filling out the rest of the ballot wasn’t easy, as there were so many good choices, including Noah Dobson, Gustav Forsling, Adam Fox, Victor Hedman, Miro Heiskanen, Josh Morrissey and Jaccob Slavin.

CALDER: Two-horse race — Connor Bedard and Brock Faber. Faber deserves enormous credit for even making this a debate. Over the years, I’ve modified one of my stances in voting for this award. Faber played 82 games and Bedard 68. That matters, because playing a full season as a rookie is a hard thing to do. But a couple of players argued I should soften that stance, because Bedard and McDavid (who missed 37 games his rookie season) should not be penalized for being “targets” of every team they face. It’s a very fair point, although something I still consider. Others: Logan Cooley, Samuel Ersson, Tyson Foerster, Luke Hughes, Pyotr Kochetkov and Marco Rossi.

SELKE: Thought Barkov had a phenomenal season. There is a lot of good competition: Sebastian Aho, Crosby, Seth Jarvis, Roope Hintz, Anze Kopitar, Adam Lowry, Mitch Marner, Matthews, JT Miller and Jordan Staal

BYNG: Love that a defenceman (Slavin) won the award three years ago, and he continues to be a serious contender. He was a finalist on my ballot, with Brock Boeser, Jesper Bratt, Gustav Nyquist and Elias Pettersson

If I could vote for the Vezina, it would be Hellebuyck. For the Adams, would be Rick Tocchet.


1. One day after the Coyotes were declared inactive and Utah added as the NHL’s 32nd team, there is a clearer picture of what Alex Meruelo must do to revive his franchise. We knew his revival rights were non-transferable, but Commissioner Gary Bettman added that if Meruelo is successful, there will be no immediate flipping. He must retain ownership for five years after they return.

Bettman also confirmed that Meruelo can only sell a maximum 20 per cent minority share of the team. He did not mention a similar rule for the arena, but we have heard there is a 49 per cent limit. The $1B price to bring back the Coyotes is fixed, so even if expansion teams are awarded for more than that, Meruelo’s number does not rise.

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One new wrinkle is that Meruelo must give one-and-a-half year’s notice that he’s ready to go. It’s a bit confusing. Does that mean he really has three-and-a-half years to get going or is finished? Can he go to four years, 364 days and say “A-ha, I’m ready?” A follow-up yielded this information: Meruelo must deliver his reactivation notice no later than Dec. 31, 2027. For this notice to be granted, the new arena must be at least 50 per cent complete. The league decides if the building qualifies. If Meruelo doesn’t give notice by that date — or doesn’t meet the required conditions to do so — the right is extinguished. So, there you go. Since we still have to cover the Coyotes to see if they do make it back, one exec called them, “Hotel California.” Remember? “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

2. A few people with better business sense than I feel there’s serious financial incentive for Meruelo to get this done. First, the $1B he’s receiving should finance the new arena. Second, in 2018, Seattle received an expansion team at $650M. Although Utah is not technically expansion, Bettman declared a $1.2B value for any new franchise. If there are more teams added, the number is going to be even higher. So Meruelo’s getting a great deal.

All of that said, before his…unusual media conference next to Bettman, several sources around the league said the major reason they doubt he will pull this off is he won’t get the co-operation needed from the city of Phoenix. I don’t profess to know anything about this, but simply watching the questions from reporters, you could tell they don’t believe it, either. Finally, it was crazy to hear Meruelo say he spent $7M on the Tempe referendum, only to have local reporters post documents calling that false. Would be fitting if the Coyotes 1.0 final media conference led to some kind of campaign finance investigation. 

3. A few sources said they were surprised at how emotional Meruelo was on Thursday’s Board of Governors call. 

4. Ryan Smith was in-place Thursday to meet with the Coyotes immediately after the sale. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this was important because some of the Coyotes needed to be convinced. Obviously, I didn’t speak to everyone, but those I could get in contact with said Smith did extremely well.

He introduced himself to all in attendance individually (a small thing, but a big thing), conveying the message that, “What we build, we will build together.” He told them their days of being underfunded were over, that he wants to win. He asked them what else they wanted. Two things that came up were a better wives’ room and better hotels on the road. (Certainly, there were more.) To the first, he said, “Done.” To the second, he answered, “You will stay where the (NBA) Jazz would stay.” Then, he took 12-20 people golfing, spending time in a more social setting. There is at least one person whose outlook significantly changed for the better after this meeting.

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5. My only complaint about Utah is that before the media conference began, they introduced everyone in the state. 

6. Some notes on each of the playoff series. Let’s start with Toronto/Boston.

There are still some comparisons to make with their last meeting, in 2019. The Bruins still have Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, who love driving the Maple Leafs crazy in their own ways. Toronto is different in two interesting places. Their offence is much more motion-based, which should create more trouble for Boston’s defence—which had unusually low underlying numbers.

Auston Matthews scored twice on the power play in that seven-game defeat, but that was still when he played his strong side, not his one-timer side. They were both quick shots/tip-ins. Generally, though, the Maple Leafs felt this was ineffective against the Bruins, who were able to limit his good chances. He moved to the one-timer spot in Game 7, and seeing what Toronto’s coaches saw, dedicated himself to improving that part of his game with Darryl Belfry. He’s now very dangerous.

The Bruins’ forecheck tormented the Maple Leafs this season, and if Toronto doesn’t figure it out, they are in trouble. On some level, both teams overachieved. Everyone expected a drop when Boston lost Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, but it didn’t happen. Toronto used 13 defencemen and four goalies. They had excuses to collapse but didn’t. Some Leaf-loving friends are convinced the Bruins “threw” games against Washington and Ottawa to play Toronto. 

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7. Tampa Bay/Florida: One Panther laughed they don’t mind facing the Lightning instead of Toronto because “you have to play good teams anyway, the travel is much easier and we don’t have to deal with the circus.” They are a tremendous defensive team, excellent at getting it out of their zone. Their dump-in rates are higher than the past, and Tampa’s struggled with that. These two teams drew the most penalties of anyone who made the playoffs (Panthers 394, Lightning 336), but Florida took 415 to Tampa’s 330. That Tampa Bay power play can hurt you. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s best game of the season was March 16, when the Lightning beat Florida 5-3 despite being outshot 50-16.

8. Washington/Rangers: On paper, the most lopsided of the first-round series. New York struggles at some things — rush defence for example — but Washington wasn’t good at creating chances with rush offence. The Capitals were also low in offensive-zone possession, another thing they’ll need to fix to win. Next game for Charlie Lindgren will be number 51, the most he’s played in one season since 2017-18 with the Montreal Canadiens and Laval Rocket. He’s their MVP, and must continue to be. The Capitals are playing with house money. A month into the season, no one thought they had a chance. The Kings get ripped for a boring 1-3-1, but the Rangers do pretty well with it. 

9. Islanders/Carolina: This is the “Run Through A Wall” series. Rod Brind’Amour and Patrick Roy will have both teams riled up and ready to go. Carolina is as good defensively as it gets, despite external concerns raised about their man-to-man style. Nobody shoots more and gets shot at less.

The Islanders don’t have a ton of offensive-zone time, which you need to break down the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes, however, will do that to you. Where New York excels is in goal. Semyon Varlamov is rejuvenated under Roy, coming out of the bullpen to save the season. And it’s not like his backup is chopped liver. Andrew Brewer (@Abrew2014), who helped with the data, said the Islanders are one of the most skewed teams when it comes to expected goals percentage versus actual goals percentage at five-on-five. Basically, they should score more than they do. If they can hit that elusive hot streak, things get very interesting.

Also wanted to mention that the Islanders had their largest 50/50 of the season on April 6 ($152,659) after announcing that half the proceeds would go to the family of New York Police Department Detective Jonathan Diller, who was killed in the line of duty on March 25. The previous high was just under $85,000.

10. Nashville/Vancouver: Two great goaltenders and two great defencemen who are the engines of their offence. Thought the Canucks handled Thatcher Demko’s recovery very well, not rushing him back. I like the Pettersson-Miller-Lindholm-Blueger deployment at centre. You win with depth down the middle in this league. The Canucks are great at defending the rush and wearing you down in your defensive zone, although they don’t always shoot it. When I was out there for the Canucks for Kids telethon, a few scouts in attendance said Pettersson does not get enough credit for how he’s learned to lean on people defensively. The arena will be bananas.

The Predators aren’t great on the rush, but they do create chances on the forecheck and guys go hard to the net. They also tend to give up odd-man rushes more than any coach would like. Going to be a great series. The West’s first round is ridiculous.

11. I’m not sure who is responsible for this, but someone in the Canucks’ organization refers to Hughes as “The Jewel Thief.” A jewel thief works on the safe, hears the sirens coming, but instead of rushing to escape, keeps his eyes on the prize. They trust their skills so much they won’t give up, knowing they will be successful. Hughes is not afraid to make the riskier play, because he trusts his abilities to pull it off or erase any mistakes. I love this so much. 

12. Los Angeles/Edmonton: Everyone knows the Oilers. Best offensive team in the NHL, spend more time in the attacking zone than anyone. No one gets to the net more (thank you, Zach Hyman), no one creates more chances. Evander Kane’s health and performance is going to be critical. He’s one of the best forecheckers in the league; the playoffs are all about that.

The scary thing is they’ve actually underperformed on their power play. If that gets going, look out — although the Kings are strong on the penalty kill. Some of Edmonton’s defensive numbers are better than you think, but goaltending has been leaky — especially shorthanded. The great thing about the playoffs is you can re-set your narrative, a perfect opportunity for both Stuart Skinner and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Kings defend very well, including against the rush, which is mandatory against the Oilers. They slow down the game, try to make sure not much happens. I’m just not sure if they can score enough to beat Edmonton. You have to win some 5-4 or 6-5 games. 

13. One of the things Skinner worked on late in the season was re-setting his mind quicker after giving up goals. Braden Holtby was excellent at that. You’re going to get beat. Don’t sag, be positive, focus on the next one. 

14. Colorado/Winnipeg: While the Avalanche have the sexy names, do not count out Winnipeg. The Jets have to beat their own “whiteout jinx,” but getting home-ice advantage is going to play a role. The Avalanche are unsettled in goal, while Hellebuyck is going to run away with the Vezina — as the Jets had the best even-strength save percentage in the NHL. (They should petition to get Laurent Brossoit on the Jennings Trophy. He missed by two games, and teams can do this with the Stanley Cup.) They have a great forecheck/cycle, and defend their zone well. Weakness: special teams, both in the Bottom 10.

The Avalanche have individuals who can take over a series, win it almost by themselves. As a team, no one enters the zone better, both at even-strength and with the man-advantage. This will be an absolute barn-burner with wild momentum swings. 

15. Vegas/Dallas: This should be happening in June, but here we are. Now that Jake Oettinger is making ridiculous saves look boring, I see the Stars as the deepest one-to-23 team in the NHL. They do everything well, and rarely get dominated in terms of scoring chances. They are the best faceoff team entering the playoffs and don’t get caught in their defensive zone. There’s a lot to like in Texas.

Obviously, the big question for Vegas is who will show in Game 1: Mark Stone was cleared for contact and will practice Saturday. William Carrier will also practice Saturday, as will Alex Pietrangelo (the most important of the three) after having an appendectomy. It’s insane to think the Golden Knights threw the game against Anaheim to avoid Edmonton. The Stars are not exactly a prize to play against, and one thing I’ve surmised talking to the Knights over the past year is they don’t mind the matchup against the Oilers.

They weren’t as dominating this season, especially offensively, but no one’s counting them out. If there’s one other thing that people thought watching them it’s that there were times late in the year both Adin Hill and Logan Thompson didn’t “look healthy.” Sometimes we overthink this stuff, but I was sent a few clips of them getting up slowly after saves or going down. We’ll see if there’s anything to it. There’s a lot of hate between the Stars and Knights after last season’s Western Conference Final.

16. About the LTIR stuff: It is in the hands of the players, the teams and the league. If these three groups really think it’s a problem, they will change it in the next CBA. If they don’t, they won’t. It will take a couple years, but we will see how everyone truly feels. 

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17. The coaching market is going to be fascinating. One thing I’m hearing: teams are trying to dial back the dollars. Both Don Granato and Darryl Sutter were let go before extensions kicked-in, which doesn’t make owners happy. We’ll see if they are successful — when you really want someone it’s harder to stay disciplined. There’s also a lot of talk about “experience.” For all of the end-of-season noise out of Philadelphia, it sure sounds like several teams are looking for John Tortorella-type coaches. It’s always a very fine line, and you cannot cross it, but the best teams do need to be pushed and hardened. This is a tough league to win in. This bodes well for Craig Berube. But there are a lot of strong names out there. This is a good time to be looking. 

18. Let’s do some notes on the 16 teams that didn’t make it.

In St. Louis, Doug Armstrong went against the grain in saying he is not necessarily looking for a coach with NHL experience. Drew Bannister led the Blues to a 99-point pace during his time as the interim coach, and will be a candidate. The GM doesn’t give much away, but it is believed he wants to speak to the University of Denver’s David Carle. On Spittin’ Chiclets this week, Carle laid it out very honestly and clearly: with a young family, any jump to the NHL is going to happen on favourable terms for him. Armstrong is not afraid to discuss trades, but it’s been hard for him to consummate because of a) protection players have and b) he’s careful about trading players after down years. They are expected to try and extend Pavel Buchnevich.  

19. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman indicated prior to the start of the season that he wasn’t sure if the Red Wings were a playoff team, and they just missed. But, as he said Thursday, he knows it is time. Yzerman laid it out very honestly. He wants to make room for prospects who will no longer be waiver-exempt, and has to know what the next contracts look like for Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider before committing to any of the unrestricted free agents.

The challenge for him is that some of those UFAs — Shayne Gostisbehere, Patrick Kane, David Perron — played very important roles and losing them would be impactful. (Gostisbehere was praised for his incredible keep-in at the blue line that saved a game against Montreal this week. An “X” follower named Stephen Geary correctly pointed out that he had a similar diving one years ago for the Flyers against Columbus. Maybe he should play shortstop for the Tigers in the summer.)

Perron enthusiastically declared his desire to return. Kane was more reserved, but was very excited discussing the future last weekend in Toronto. It’s clear he feels so much better than a year ago; he’s rejuvenated. (He and Max Pacioretty are similar in the sense that both say this will be their first “normal” summer in three years.) He really enjoys Detroit, but after a nomadic 14 months, I believe he wants to put down some hockey roots. 

20. Only Yzerman could take two hilariously unprompted shots at officiating during a year-end review. There would be no officials on the ice if he was in charge. 

21. Pittsburgh signed 2021 second-rounder Tristan Broz from Denver on Saturday morning. My Crosby prediction is he extends for two or three years at a $10.5M AAV. We will see if I’m close. (He’s considering the World Championships, too.) Suddenly, Kris Letang’s status is in question and GM Kyle Dubas set up an interesting scenario in goal by telling Alex Nedeljkovic — who almost saved their season — that he wants to see top prospect Joel Blomqvist in the AHL playoffs before committing to the pending UFA. That’s…interesting. What it says at the least is Dubas isn’t convinced Nedeljkovic/Blomqvist is the way to go. Carolina GM Don Waddell said Friday he’s “optimistic” about re-signing Jake Guentzel. But if Guentzel hits the market, it would be a stunner if the Penguins didn’t try to bring him back. 

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22. Everyone’s expecting Minnesota to throw Jake Sanderson money at Faber. Filip Gustavsson wonders if he’s going to be traded, and this is definitely going to be an interesting summer on the goalie market. But the sense is Minnesota’s top priority will be to prove to Kirill Kaprizov they can find him more scoring help. He can extend next summer. 

23. Flyers president Keith Jones said a few weeks ago moving Tortorella upstairs “is not something that has entered any conversation. He’s the coach and really good at it.” Even though they have to be disappointed the team fell short, Jones and GM Daniel Briere, who were mentally tough players, strongly believe what their young guys went through will benefit them in the long run.

“(Tortorella) is really important,” Jones added. “He’s outstanding at developing young players and developing accountability. Guys have thrived. And the players deserve a ton of credit, too. How well they get along, how cohesive they are, how much they hate losing and enjoy winning. These are all good signs from the inside.”

They are expected to announce a two-year extension for Ivan Fedotov at any time and Samuel Ersson took huge steps under less-than-ideal conditions. A lot of their young players, from Cam York to Morgan Frost to Foerster, improved their standing. Cam Atkinson made it sound like he will start anew in 2024-25, and the other one I wonder about is Joel Farabee. 

24. Jones, who arrived in the Ed Snider/Bob Clarke days of, “The Flyers will not be ignored!” didn’t mind the cacophony. “Maybe we’ve learned something from the best,” he laughed. “We were uninteresting for a long time. No one can complain we are not in the news. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. As we build back our fan base, it’s not killing us to have some craziness.” As a media member, I’m okay with this. I think some of the players would prefer it be a little quieter, but that’s kind of Philly if you think about it.

25. It was interesting hearing the Sabres players talk. Some of the veterans, both current and recent, felt the younger group needed a harder push. Now they are demanding it, so they’re going to get it. What it means is that when it does happen, they have to accept it and can’t complain (as long as it doesn’t cross accepted lines). I’m trying to determine if the Lindy Ruff talk is real or fantasy. I also believe they are working on extending Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. 

26. Travis Green can be a tough boss, so I can see why he’s still in the mix for Jersey (or somewhere else). Of all the openings available, I think the Devils rate high on many lists. Stable ownership, good players locked in, young cornerstones with room to get better. One of the things I’m curious about is how aggressive GM Tom Fitzgerald is this summer. They were cautious this season, and, if they had gone for a goalie sooner, would things have turned out differently for them? The answer is likely yes, so how does that change their approach, if at all?

27. Calgary GM Craig Conroy will go to the beach this summer thinking, “No way next year is going to be as crazy as this one.” The good news is some of their young players took quality steps, got a taste of what it took. Veterans who pledge to see things through — Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar among them — finished strong. Oliver Kylington resuscitated his career. The big one is Jacob Markstrom. I think everyone’s going to take a step back and breathe. Then we will see where it goes. 

28. Weegar, but the way, credits Chris Sutter with playing a role in his offensive surge. Chris told him to shorten his stick around Christmas 2022. It worked.

29. There was some talk in Seattle about Dave Hakstol being in trouble, but I would be shocked. That’s not Ron Francis’ way, and the coach was rewarded after last season’s playoff win with an extension. As expected, the Kraken kept their defence together and they will continue to search for scoring. They must extend Matt Beniers. There was a legit attempt at the beginning of the season, which didn’t get done, so we will see how everyone feels now.

30. A massive summer for the Senators. As Steve Staios has said publicly, they have to get this coaching search right. I’m one of those who believed AHL Toronto’s John Gruden was the guy due to his history with Staios and Michael Andlauer, but I admit I’m not so certain now. They’ve reached out to a lot of people, likely double-digits, with more to come after teams are eliminated. They are negotiating with Shane Pinto, and while that will get done eventually, it’s a grind. Jakob Chychrun, unfortunately, looked and sounded like someone who didn’t expect to be in Ottawa long-term. We’ve heard this before, but next year is a big one in the national capital. This disappointing season tested relationships and frayed nerves. 

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31. One other thing about Ottawa: I loved that they inducted Dr. Donald Chow into their Ring of Honour. Dr. Chow, who returned to work after a life-threatening motorcycle accident in 2010, has been with the organization for parts of four decades. There are a lot of great people behind the scenes in the NHL, and its good to see them recognized. 

32. We’ve done enough Arizona, so let’s skip to Montreal. No one’s demanding playoffs, but it’s time to get to the “meaningful games late in the season” stage. Two massive wins were Juraj Slafkovsky and Samuel Montembeault. I would expect the Canadiens to try to extend both Slafkovsky and Kaiden Guhle. In a small sample size, Lane Hutson showed why everyone’s so excited. The Canadiens have a lot of young defencemen, so they’ll see what’s out there. I think they’ll also weigh a big swing up front. 

33. Columbus’s fans, who stayed strongly loyal despite another tough season, deserve success. Obviously, the biggest decision is who will run things. The Mark Hunter rumours won’t go away, although he’s also a possible Ken Holland successor in Northern Alberta. The Blue Jackets will swing big in attempts to fill this job. Boone Jenner has said he’s committed. Zach Werenski, who tied Seth Jones’ team record with 57 points by a defenceman, is the other guy I’d be making sure to make happy. The Jackets looked hard at veteran centres early in the season. Does that remain an on-ice priority? 

34. Trevor Zegras finished with eight points in the last 10 games. This is probably the most fascinating summer decision in the NHL. The Ducks challenged him to show them something when he returned from injury and Zegras did. My rule: always bet on talent. But, there’s a nagging sense not everyone’s comfortable with each other here. GM Pat Verbeek is very guarded so it is hard to properly predict what will occur. Anaheim’s got so many good young players who gained great experience. There were high moments, low moments, and a lot of injuries. They all learned something about how hard it is to win and how much it takes.

Head coach Greg Cronin is a grinder, and he rode them hard. Does he take his foot off the pedal at all next year? Verbeek sold ownership on the fact there are no shortcuts, that this takes time. There are, however, a lot of excellent pieces. John Gibson’s future remains on the frontburner, too.

35. Last season, two teams were found in violation of off-season training rules. Vancouver was fined $50,000 for holding an on-ice “skills camp,” although players later asked to have the option if they wished. The NHL and NHLPA made a one-year agreement to try, and that has now been extended into this summer. Anaheim was fined $50,000 last week for “actively pressuring” (according to a memo) players to spend the summer training in Florida with Mike Barwis, who Verbeek strongly believes in. The union also reminded players they cannot be asked to use “wearable technology” in the offseason. Had no idea that was prohibited.  

36. Bedard was as good as advertised for Chicago, the biggest victory of their season. Obviously, the lottery is major. A Bedard/Macklin Celebrini combo solves problems for 15 years. GM Kyle Davidson’s probably praying to every deity known worldwide. I do think they take some midsize swings in free agency/trade, being careful not to muddle their cap situation before Bedard is extended. Alex Vlasic had a very nice season and needs a new contract. There was interest in Connor Murphy before he got hurt, so we will see where that goes.

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37. Finally, San Jose. The best thing that happened to the Sharks was they realized there’s no reason to be “half-pregnant.” By trading Tomas Hertl they told everyone there’s no point in a rebuild-on-the-fly. Saturday morning, Logan Couture sounded optimistic he can resume skating this summer, which is great news, although his situation remains uncertain. It’s time to start again and that’s the right move. Celebrini, a former Junior Shark from his time living in the area, would be a massive win on and off the ice. Mikael Granlund had 60 points in 69 games and is entering the final year of his contract. If you land Celebrini, do you keep Granlund to make sure there’s someone to play with? Head coach David Quinn said several times the Sharks have to become tougher to play against in their own zone, so I wonder if there’s a Radko Gudas-type player out there. 

38. I think Florida gets Dmitry Kulikov extended. He looks much, much better after getting surgery done last summer on his back. He’d tried other approaches (rehab) but this worked best.

39. Time to update the Nov. 1 stat. Avid readers know that I keep track of who is more than four points out of a playoff position after games on that date. This year, one of those teams (Edmonton) recovered, while Calgary, Pittsburgh and San Jose missed. In 82-game seasons during the salary-cap era, 10 of 70 teams in that hole made the playoffs. Can’t start poorly, kids. 

40. Author and lecturer Daniel Kahneman died March 27 at age 90. Kahneman was a very influential thinker, doing a lot of work into biases and how they affect our decision-making (among other things). There’s a decent chance someone in your favourite team’s front office has a copy of Thinking, Fast and Slow in their office (even if they haven’t read it). If you want to gain a greater understanding of how teams are trying to improve themselves — and open your own mind, too — grab a copy.

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