You have heard very little of me since early in the season, but here are my well-traveled 32 Thoughts featuring all teams in BEARD Hockey.
As we sit here on Day 58 of the inaugural Beard season most teams have now played approximately 30 games. You have heard very little of me since early in the season.
That is because I have been skirting around the League, taking private flights, buses, boats and whatever was necessary all the while dodging quarantine rules and running from border patrol officials so that I could see every team in the league in person and bring you my “32 Thoughts” (patent pending) RUMOUR EDITION!
1. Anaheim Ducks GM Michael Stafford is seeing the writing on the wall. A veteran team that he expected more from are in tough with a superior Western conference to battle for playoff spots. Recent moves have seen veterans Zdeno Chara and Joe Pavelski both moved out in separate deals. I am told that Devon Toews shouldn’t be looking to buy a home in California just yet given his contract status. The more interesting name is Sean Monahan who is having a fantastic season. What money is this guy going to want in the offseason and will he be resigned given the success of Nathan Legare on the farm team?
2. Anze Kopitar available in the dessert? I don’t think so. Expect him to be aggressively pursued by GM Colin Small. He has only done minor deals and while pushing for a playoff spot in the West. He is under .500 in the past 10 games but is NOT selling off just yet. His roster is setup to be competitive again next season. Kadri is another name expected to be attempted to resign by GM Small. Goaltending appears to be an issue here as well but with Hunter Miska having a fantastic season in Tucson expect the Coyotes to just ride this season out and see what happens. It could pay off with successful re-signings this offseason or it could end up with the Vultures eating up the scraps in the dessert!
3. We have seen a multitude of people taking hold of the zoo in Boston. The team is once again in somewhat of a hibernation mode. Even with the turmoil in the management, the team has managed a solid past 10 games but without a clear direction cold miss an opportunity to get assets back on William Karlsson and Mike Hoffman, both of which are rumored to be moved. League officials won’t allow the team to flounder but with many solid pieces on this squad it’s unlikely that a turn to the degree needed to sell these two players won’t come until there is clear leader in place.
Until them veteran Vladamir Sobotka will act as player/GM in Providence while he proves he belongs on a Pro Squad and Steven Stamkos will keep an eye on the Pro team as he’s likely to end up missing large amounts of the back end of the season with a random leg injury he is prone to having.
4. GM Thomas Gidlow changes his team direction more often than his underwear. Many questions surround this team about Dylan Larkin who is having a great season despite being cast off from Minnesota earlier in the year. As it sits this team is filled with aging players, expiring deals and a couple of aging goalies. All signs point to a “load it up and add” move as he sits 2nd in the weaker Eastern conference. Larkin looks not to be going anywhere. That is until tomorrow or the next day when Gidlow decides to blow it all up, ship out Larkin for a huge futures package and then sees Getzlaf, Reinhart, Talbot, and Tanev also cast aside in quick fashion!
5. There has been a lot of Salt and Pepper deals sprinkled thru the Pro and Farm rosters in Calgary. Focus by GM Theo Pepper is clearly on the future and with great focus on improving the roster in Stockton. Expect the Flames to be one of the busiest sellers as the deadline approaches. GM Bacon is already lighting a fire under GM Pepper to move out Tyson Barrie. Expect both Rittich and Brassard to also not finish the season in Canadian Cowtown!
6. There is no quit in Carolina. It’s been a multitude of severe storms in golf country this season as GM Jay Williams is doing everything possible to save his season. From upgrades in net, to trading away a generational player for more depth, trading of a young gun in Svechnikov, adding veteran depth on the backend with Chara there is nothing this GM won’t do to try and calm the seas. This is a greatly underachieving roster but with just 2 regulation losses in the past 10 games you can expect Jay not to sell off this season. As sure as the wind will blow, the deals will continue in Carolina and this team WILL make the playoffs!
7. Ask and ask and ask again and you shall receive. This is the mantra of Chicago GM Dan Bacon. One thing you can count on is that Bacon will fry his peers in trade talks. The second leading team in Beard is not afraid to shake it up. Rumors that Ovechkin won’t be long for the Windy city as his acquisition was a means to an end. The crafty move of a GM who dumped a bad contract an expiring deal along with futures to a team on the rebuild, all the while allowing that GM to save the cap of Ovie. Well done Mr. Bacon.
But this reporter has this sniffed out. While being a top team in the league, the future belongs to Svechnikov, Pettersson, Connor and Barzal. Ovechkin is linked to all younger superstars in the league and he has enough successful talent having great seasons on the farm to make the trade a reality. The dynasty is shaping up in Chicago.
8. Colorado got off to a hot start this season. But if you ask GM Vince Gibbons while hooked to a lie detector, he would tell you that he would “prefer” that his team fell a little in the standings. Minor moves and a focus on the development on the farm dictates that there won’t be huge moves out of Mile High City, but you can expect that veteran Duncan Keith will be moved at the deadline. GM Gibbons will have to catch a GM just coming out of one of their dispensaries, or will have to hold salary on the future Hall of Famer.
9. The Blue Jackets have finally paired Patrick Kane with an elite center. In what was a quietly underrated deal in Beard for Malkin, the deal gives Tommy Barr the makings of an elite top line who not just drink Guinness like a champion but already are NHL champions. The farm team is built all about the rookies. He will need the luck of the Irish to have them all re-rate as well as he hopes.
If it works this team will be on the rise as soon as next season aided by the massive return in the Erik Karlsson deal. Skinner, Zaitsev, Cole and Kuraly will all be moved on from by season’s end. Rumors have Nashville involved in one of the players, while both LA and Vancouver have been stocking up on Jameson and Murphy’s in an attempt to land some of these trade deadline pieces at great prices!
10. Everything might be bigger in Texas. But for GM M.A. Laberge the biggest thing for the Stars was the losing streak to start the season. Sure, things have turned around recently but in a tough Western Conference it is too little too late. GM’s Lundgren and Westman have been scouring the Swedish leagues looking for anyone holding a hockey stick with the last name Nylander.
Rumor has it that they have even gone to the extent of requesting multiple players on their farm teams for “Nylander” name changes to the Beard Hockey League Executives in an effort to land pieces out of Dallas. The largest bullet this season the Stars have to shoot is Eric Staal who will end up in the East by the deadline. Nashville also has ties to Dallas but to what end is unclear.
11. Speaking of GM Mathias Lundgren, 5 of his top 9 scorers have been acquired during the season. Nothing lends any support that the Red Wings won’t spin the wheel again and make even more moves. Anything not screwed down in Detroit, or from Ikea will be moved out in cost cutting moves while taking aim at playoff revenue. The Red Wing’s GM has been savvy enough to take note of a weak conference and maintaining a focus on finances. Making the playoffs while selling off assets for futures is the goal here. Even the Octopi being thrown out on the ice in Michigan are being sold by GM Lundgren to local fish markets. Brandon Saad and Jeff Petry, get your bags packed!
12. Ever since GM Dean Richter left Texas, things have gone downhill for Texas and not much better for his Oilers. A team that was comfortably above .500 in the early going have been playing under .500 the past 20 games. All will be forgiven by the fans though if he can re-sign Darnell Nurse in the offseason to a reasonable contract. A developing farm lends to the discussion of both Alex Killorn and Brock Nelson if the Oilers fall out of the playoffs where many suitors will clamor thru the oil fields to land them.
13. Manitoba native Trevor Cook is rumored to be searching desperately for new living quarters. He's beefing up security due to GM Aaron Sanderson being found peaking in his windows. Sanderson was said to be naked and done up in temporary tattoos with names of many Panther players, including Artemi Panarin and Alex Edler. While GM Cook is holding off Aaron’s advances, he is in fact still in the mix in the East. How long is anyone’s guess but you can be sure that Paul Stastny and Phillipp Grubauer will be hot commodities in the sunny south!
14. GM Jay Seo came into LA, threw off his Hollywood glasses and cast off nearly every piece of a very good roster. Sure, it has no center depth before his hiring, but it did have chemistry. Now it has great center depth, but lost its chemistry. Things seem to be turning up again in LaLa Land as a recent winning streak has saved an epic collapse. Maybe its all for show and we will see GM Seo with an Academy Award at seasons end. Look for some of the LA prospects to be moved out in an effort to clear enough cap space to make a run this playoff.
15. It was a Wild night last night in Minnesota. GM Josh Rose got a new bouquet of players in an impact player filled 3 team deal. A lot of future assets were moved out in the landmark trade that landed him his Rose by the name David Pastrnak. Not so fast my friends as quickly as he came to Minnesota, rumor has it he is being dangles like a minnow through the ice on Lake of the Woods for another superstar. Stay away Dan Bacon, it’s not you this time!
16. Things are quiet in Montreal. A little too quiet. It has been an eternity for GM Lennart Westman since his last deal (6 days). This is a GM who would have traded his own family had they been on the Habs when he took over. They only have 5 wins in their last 10 games but the Canadiens can be thankful they play in the leagues lesser conference. TVR will be moved out shortly although the return won’t be enough as it’s a financial move. Expect that Adam Henrique will be the next victim to leave the Habs as GM Westman may have gotten too trigger happy early on and looks for more financial benefit.
17. Nashville, the team I cover day to day. What can I say here? The GM with the biggest ego of all has brought the least results of all. Complete shit show here. I’m honestly unsure how any of the GM and Coach have kept their jobs. Trades have been many. He landed another ex-Bruin last night in Brad Marchand who I am sure will Predator the opposing team’s best players. Is there any saving this anymore?
Rumors have GM Scott Davidson tied to an upcoming UFA goaltender. The hunter is becoming the hunted though as Predators are enquiring on his best players. 3 western conference power houses are tied to Draisaitl, as is an Eastern conference leader. There is lots of action with the roster but very little on the ice. A promising farm squad lends more to the likely hood of a sell off near seasons end, whether this GM wants it or not!
18. 5-5 over the last 10 is good enough in the East, but not acceptable for GM Corey Chernuka. He dealt his leading goal scorer to the Western Conference and landed a boat load of excellent future assets and a great replacement in Tarasenko. I fully expect Tarasenko to be flipped back out, likely to Chicago or New York Isles given their previous interest in the sniper. A GM that is up tight to the cap, look for a player like Copp to be moved to allow some flexibility while still maintaining a playoff birth in the weaker conference.
19. The gentleman of gentleman’s GM Jussi Kalmi of the New York Islanders. Some say, the anti-Aaron. This fine fellow has a number of moves up his sleeve. GM’s fall pray to his charms and he is more than happy to collect those assets. He is already a playoff contender, and has cap space. Look for substantial adds to this line up as the season progresses. Rumors to Tarasenko are strong and to any all available top 6 Finnish players.
20. Well it took 9 NHL seasons for The Great One to be traded. GM Sean McAndrews took just over 3 months to move The Next One. It made Lady Liberty drop her torch when the Rangers dealt the world’s best player to San Jose. Well, it seemed crazy at first but GM McAndrews has been toiling all season to find the right mix, the right chemistry. Its an A for effort in the Big Apple but none of the large-scale moves have managed to put the Rangers at anything more than a middle of pack team in the East.
With a great deal of his talent in their prime, don’t expect a sell off in New York. Could their team captain Chris Kreider be moved out of NY? GM McAndrews traded his captain once already, so why not twice in one season! Look for Minnesota and Washington to come calling. When you lose to Nashville TWICE, its time!
21. Canada’s capitol is home to a man who can’t finish three words without hesitating, “Uh-um-uh-um”. But there was no hesitation for GM Mike Bell to deal away one of the league’s best young defensemen in Seth Jones. After a horrendous start to the season that looked to be gone floating down the St. Lawrence River, GM Bell turned the ship and righted the course and has peeled off 9 wins in the past 10 games. Ottawa is among the leagues hottest teams and getting things done in the Capital faster than any politician ever has! Cap Space to burn and a team on the rise in a conference that is up for grabs and look for the Sens to make their mark. Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Boston are the targets!
22. In an episode of “Where are they now”, former Barracuda patrons would be shocked to see that their beloved Eric Wolf was the GM of the Philadelphia Flyers. Put aside are the banana hammocks and dollar bills, while the Flyers enjoy surprising success. Nathan MacKinnon leads the way, while one of the few defensemen that can score with any regularity leads the backend in Roman Josi. GM Wolf has cap to burn and will be a player down the stretch. Smaller, smart moves are on the horizon. Look for him to target teams in cap trouble come the deadline that want to still add from others. Vancouver and New Jersey come to mind here.
23. How weak is the Eastern conference? Well prior to the Penguins being hammered with just 1 win in their past 10, GM Matt Swackhammer had this team in a playoff spot. The Pens are so South Pole cold that they are the only team maybe worse than the toothless wonders in Nashville. This isn’t the Penguins year, but with a young defense at the helm that makes every GM in the league drool like Aaron when he opens a Stout, the future is soon. Trades have not been plenty in Pittsburgh but be sure that one of the two veteran goalies will be dealt and likely Boychuk on defense can help a contender if salary were to be held.
24. Welcome Joe Larson to San Jose! Zoinks! Christmas came but twice a year this season for sunny Californians as Sharks fans were treated to this high-octane GM. Since his hire only 2 days before Christmas GM Larson has made 7 deals including landing the biggest fish of all, Connor McDavid! Of the 7 trades, 6 involved absolute stars of the league. Fans are going to follow GM Joe in everything he does like the late great Dustin Diamond (San Jose native) followed Zack Morris around in Saved by the Bell!
25. If pillaging was a sport than there would be none better than the Seattle Kraken GM David Springgay. Using his strong position in the standings for waiver claims and his cap space, the Kraken have been snatching pieces off the waiver wire all season long. Bold strategy Cotton but it just may work. This has allowed GM Springgay to trade off pieces for futures as he has no plan to currently compete and still ice a full roster. Kudos on your elaborate scheme. Skjei, Oleksiak, Butcher and Komarov should be on the way out. This Emerald City just keeps packing the jewels away in the hopes of building an empire larger than Seattle’s last big empire, Starbucks!
26. The St. Louis Blues are on an upward trajectory like the Gateway Arch. Let’s hope it doesn’t go down the same way. Are the Blues at their peak? Quite possibly. GM Todd Snider has traded away salary all season. Early season had their fans singing the Blues when both Crosby and Burns were sent out of St. Louis. GM Snider is clearly running a strategy to save as much in season cash as possible all the while getting success. This can go one of two ways. The Blues will either slide down this arch, OR GM Snider uses his massive amount of cap space to take advantage of desperate GM’s at the deadline and head for playoff success!
27. This version of the Lightning appear to be nothing more than a light summer drizzle. GM Tyler Hetherington shows desire to go for it in a weak East but results may force him to ride this out as a development year. Playoffs are possible in sunny Florida and would be a needed financial bonus to GM Hetherington. Up against the cap the expectation is that Khudobin would be the first guy headed out. With many pending UFA’s really anyone could be available. This is one of the league’s most interesting circumstances to watch the second half!
28. There’s always next year! A common phrase known well to Leaf fans. This is one that GM Sean Hanley was hoping to change for the Toronto Maple Leaf. Is that not what Leaf fans are used to in the (VOMIT) “self-proclaimed center of hockey” (VOMIT AGAIN)? The names of the streets have changed a great deal over the years, but they still have the parade route ready to go when ready! Could a star player be being moved out of Toronto to gain a huge return? Kuznetsov looks primed for a team with cap space. Hey it could be worse for GM Hanley, they haven’t yet lost to a Zamboni driver!
29. We asked around about GM Aaron Sanderson and the best anyone could say is that he had great taste in beer. Now if only that could translate into the real world then maybe he would be onto something. That said, somehow, he did manage to fluke himself into a top team in the league. Now if I had a top team and things were going well, what would you do? Some would say, ride it out, add depth, protect from injury. Nah! Not this clown! Trade away your best player instead.
Might I add that he’s the leagues top scorer. Might I add that he is also on a pretty sweet contract. Someone had too many Stout’s last night! Where this will go now is anyone’s guess. Everything could be available in Vancouver now, or nothing is available. Who knows? These next 10 games will determine what happens to GM Sanderson and his reign of terror!
30. Now the only team that made sense to even be part of that three-way blockbuster deal was Vegas. GM Keith Evans got himself into a very large deal and made out pretty well. GM Evans is using his cap space to his advantage and gaining a lot of nice future assets while still maintaining some great locked in assets. This group of Golden Knights doesn’t have the armor on though to fight this year so its off with your head if you’re a pending UFA. Bye, Bye, Bye Corey Crawford, Eric Gudbranson and Calvin DeHaan!
31. Washington is known for its powerful leaders. The Capitals can be added to that list as GM Shawn Davis has his Caps atop the Beard Hockey League! Red hot out of the gate GM Davis stretched out to a monumental early season lead. After rolling along for a huge chunk of games, GM Davis got trigger happy and pulled a minor deal. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it (You’ll soon see Aaron) and found themselves in the rarity of a few loses.
The Capitals survived that though and after a bit more tinkering and larger losing streak the Caps are back out on top and leading the way. I would love to say that GM Davis won’t play around much and call it lesson learned, but in the Beard, we have learned that just isn’t the case! With a horrendous amount of pending free agents and no cap space expect something to fall in Washington as GM Davis is all in for his run for a cup! He is dying for that trip to the White House!
32. Winnipeg is home to the leagues newest GM Nathan Erb! With just over 3 weeks on the job it took him the first 2 to dig himself out of the house after a winter storm. He now has two trades under his belt and is on his way to more. With basically the entire roster locked in and a playoff spot currently held, expect GM Erb to be a buyer this season. It is a tough West and he has over 7 million in cap space yet to use. You have to think the “rookie” GM will want to take off like a Jet thru the West!