We’re a week in to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ve all got opinions on how the post-season will go down, from the Cup winner, to the NHL Awards, and more! Here are your NHL post-season takes with Dan Morse, Doug Mellon, John Barr, Rebecca Moloney, and Sean Clement.
Which team has the best chance to hoist the cup this year?
Dan Morse: Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos isn’t carrying the team alone they’re heading into the playoffs almost completely healthy, and they’ve got a Vezina candidate in net.
Doug Mellon: Predators. They are the most well rounded team out there and will be out for blood after last year.
John Barr: Nashville Predators. They got just enough taste last year to play hungry in the playoffs. They should be healthier this year and adding Turris could push them over the hump.
Otto Rogers: The Knights are a great story, but I feel the lightning have an edge here.
Rebecca Moloney: Pittsburgh Penguins. They had a rough start to the season but really turned it around in the second half. The trade for Brassard gives them the depth in center that they needed after Bonino. I calling three-peat.
Sean Clement: Predators, probably the most complete team in hockey, Vegas odds love them, great goal tending and defense. But, let’s talk about the Boston Bruins, here’s a team that has done very well in a tight conference, has championship experience, and could really make a strong push towards the finals.
Who do you believe will win the Calder Trophy race?
Dan Morse: Barzal ran away with this one. Interestingly enough, Brock Boeser, who has been Barzal’s main competition this year, was on the Thunderbirds list of protected players and would have played with Barzal if he chose the WHL over the NCAA.
Doug Mellon: Could I say anything other than Barzal? Charlie McAvoy has been a true blessing in Boston but I can’t see him taking it over Barzal.
John Barr: I think it is safe to say Barzal is running away with it since Boeser was injured a few weeks back. I expect Boeser and McAvoy to be invited to Vegas for the NHL awards ceremony.
Otto Rogers: At this point with both Boeser and Mcavoy out with injures, the Calder is Barzal’s to lose.
Rebecca Moloney: Me. I’m a rookie player this year (I started playing hockey in November). Just kidding. I’ll go with Barzal too. Not many rookies jump right to centering the second line. He’s amazing.
Sean Clement: Barzal and in my mind it’s not even all that close.
Which player will take home the Hart Trophy?
Dan Morse: Nathan MacKinnon. He finished in the top 5 in points despite missing 8 games this year, and pushed Colorado back to the playoffs just one year after they had arguably the worst season in franchise history.
Doug Mellon: Taylor Hall. He dragged the Devils into the playoffs on his back.
John Barr: Taylor Hall is probably been the most valuable to his team and that would be my vote but I expect Kucherov to win it.
Rebecca Moloney: Taylor Hall. Last year, the New Jersey Devils were last in the league but Taylor Hall lifted them on to his shoulders and physically hoisted them in to the playoffs. It doesn’t look like they’ll go far, but not for lack of trying on the part of Taylor Hall.
Sean Clement: Where is the Devil’s organization if not for Taylor Hall? He almost single handedly took that franchise back into relevancy and the playoffs. Just an incredible performance all around.
Which goalie do you believe most deserves the Vezina?
Dan Morse: Pekka Rinne. He played great all season and only got better towards the end .
Doug Mellon: Can I select David Prior? The work he did in Vegas with their early season goalie situation was sensational.
John Barr: Pekka Rinne will slightly edge out Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Rebecca Moloney: Give it to Scott Foster. He faced a shot from Patrik Laine and walked away with save percentage of 1.000. Not bad for a goalie who is “just about hitting his prime.” If not Scott Foster, I guess it should be Pekka Rinne.
Otto Rogers: Can Pikka Rinne win both the Hart and Vezina? Rinne has some amazing stats, look at his quality percentage start..The highest it’s been in years. He’s also on a good team and sits at the top or near the top in most categories
Sean Clement: Pekka Rinne is playing lights out, the Preds are rolling right along to the playoffs. Everything is rocking in Nashville.
Which trade (or trade that didn’t happen) shocked you the most?
Dan Morse: Brendan Leipsic for Philip Holm. Leipsic wasn’t producing much in Vegas, but immediately put up 9 points in 14 games with the Canucks, while Holm currently sits in Chicago with the Vegas AHL affiliate. I thought Leipsic would get more time to develop in Vegas.
Doug Mellon: I can’t really decide if Karlsson not being traded is a shock or not, but I’d have to go with him.
John Barr: Erik Karlsson no trade was a little surprising to me but he has one more year on his contract so maybe they feel they can move him over the summer. Mike Green no move was puzzling since but he doesn’t have the star power as Karlson.
Otto Rogers: I think Sharks getting Evander Kane for a conditional first round pick was kind of a shock, even if you take into account his off ice issues.
Rebecca Moloney: Tomas Tatar from the Detroit Red Wings to the Vegas Golden Knights for a 2018 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, 2021 third-round pick. It seems like Vegas likes to collect franchise players.
Sean Clement: Karlsson but specifically for the Washington Capitals. General Manager Brian MacLellan was apparently interested in adding some high level defensive talent to the roster but the asking price from Ottawa was just too high.
What has been your favorite storyline so far this year in the NHL?
Dan Morse: Vegas has definitely been the most fun for me. After so many years of waiting for Seattle to get an NHL team, and now that we are finally on the cusp of getting one, seeing another expansion team thrive so much in their first year is just so encouraging.
Doug Mellon: It’s hard, if not impossible, to argue against the Vegas Golden Knights here but I’m going to pick Jeff Glass. What a story to watch unfold as the 32-year-old goalie, who was drafted in the third round (14 years ago), not only made his NHL debut, but won. Although his stats were less than impressive over his 14 games, it’s a wonderful story and one which I’m sure a lot of us will remember.
John Barr: Easy. The success of the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s been a fun team to watch as well.
Otto Rogers: The Golden Knights and the rise of Hockey in Vegas. Also, of course, the story playing out here in Seattle.
Rebecca Moloney: Alex Ovechkin. After another second round exit, there was talk about rebuilding the Capitals an trading Ovechkin. Instead, this has been one of his best seasons with 49 goals in the regular season. The Capitals are Metropolitan Division champs (again). Hopefully, this year they can make it past the second round.
Sean Clement: That Seattle beat in minutes what took Vegas a week to do in season ticket sales. I want to beat them in absolutely everything our franchise does.
If you could select one forward (regardless of eligibility) to join the team in 2020, who would it be and why?
Dan Morse: McDavid all the way. The kid just finished back to back 100+ point seasons and Art Ross trophies and he’s barely old enough to drink in the States.
Doug Mellon: Have to pick Connor McDavid here. Because, McDavid.
John Barr: McDavid for sure but since everyone will select him, lets go with Mat Barzal.
Otto Rogers: A young center that can score goals with no obvious deficiencies. Toss up for me between Nathan Mackinnon and Connor Mcdavid.
Rebecca Moloney: Bring good American boy Auston Matthews back to the U.S.! He’s only 20 years old and is one of the NHL’s rising stars. Give me your franchise player, Toronto.
Sean Clement: Everyone else is saying McDavid or Matthews so I am going with a dark horse pick here. T.J. Oshie. Sure, it doesn’t make the most sense but the obvious answer has already been given and he’s an Olympic hero. My actually serious answer is Connor McDavid, he’s exactly the kind of young star you want to build around.
If you could select one defender (regardless of eligibility) to join the team in 2020, who would it be and why?
Dan Morse: Shayne Gostisbehere. He had a great rookie year and a down year last year, but quietly put together another solid season as an offensive threat on the blue line. Plus, Ghost Bear merch sells itself.
Doug Mellon: Charlie McAvoy. Young kid with promising talent that has been matched-up with one of the hardest working players in hockey.
John Barr: He won’t be the best defender in 2020 but from a franchise and community impact, I would select PK Subban. His impact in Montreal is still being felt and when he was traded to Nashville, he immediately injected himself in the community. He would be loved in Seattle.
Otto Rogers: Seth Jones. He would be in his mid 20’s and has an all around game (able score) with solid D credentials.
Rebecca Moloney: I can’t not pick PK Subban. He won’t be the youngest defender in the league by the time Seattle gets a team but his style and personality are perfect for bringing new fans to hockey.
Sean Clement: Zach Werenski of the Columbus Bluejackets could be a great choice. He’s still very young at only 20 years old and has show just a ton of promise. He’s a guy who could, at 22 in 2020, be with Seattle for a very long stint providing some high level play.
If you could select one goalie (regardless of eligibility) to join the team in 2020, who would it be and why?
Dan Morse: Corey Crawford. He’s had a bad injury year this year, but I think he’ll come back next season looking like his old self. He’s a little older, but goalies tend to age pretty well relative to players, and I think his playoff experience would be good for the team.
Doug Mellon: Andre Vasilevsky.
John Barr: Carter Hart. He should be in the NHL by then and having seen him in Everett and World Juniors, I am a believer.
Otto Rogers: Andrei Vasilevskiy- one of the best goalies in the game and would 25-26 by 2020.
Rebecca Moloney: Andre Vasilevsky is a Vezina trophy candidate this year and is only 23 years old. Bring him to Seattle and he’ll make impossible behind the back saves that win our hearts.
Sean Clement: John Gibson, he’s only 24, played 60 games this season and posted a .926. He’s a solid starting goaltender who you can have someone young learn behind (Like Carter Hart).
There have been numerous names mentioned in the media regarding potential GMs. Who has your vote and why?
Dan Morse: Bill Guerin, the assistant GM in Pittsburgh. Working in the front office of back to back Stanley Cup champions is some experience I’d love to see in Seattle.
Doug Mellon: Kelly Mccrimmon would be amazing as he was front and center with the Vegas expansion as assistant GM and with the bar set so high, it’d be good to have him around.
John Barr: You think George McPhee would be available?
Otto Rogers: I think Kelly Mccrimmon would make a good choice, was involved with Vegas, and has good background of the region.
Rebecca Moloney: I have no idea who would be the best fit right now, but, whoever it is, I hope the future Seattle GM isn’t a stick in the mud. Let players have long hair and grow beards. I’m looking at you, Lou Lamoriello.
Sean Clement: Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he’s young, talented, and looking to drag the NHL into the age of analytics. He’s a fantastic prospect to give the reigns to and let it rip.