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Friday Daily Puck: Power Outage

Jason Chen

Consistently fires muffins. Blue Line Buzz on Mondays, Daily Puck and DFS on Sundays.

Around the League

Sixty-four goals. That’s how many regulation goals were scored by the eighteen teams that played last night, an average of 7.11 goals per game and 3.56 goals per team. And that’s not mentioning Alex Ovechkin, Jordan Eberle (first of his career, surprisingly) and Patrick Eaves (!) all scored hat tricks. That’s just ridiculous. How ridiculous? The league-leading Washington Capitals only average 3.30 goals per game.

Doing a recap of last night’s caption would just be too onerous, so I thought I’ve give you guys a chance to waste an hour watching last night’s highlights at work. Thank me later. And, here, why not start with Connor McDavid playing in front of his home crowd:

… And while we’re on the subject of scoring…

As I wrote my little blurb on Steven Stamkos’ recent cold spell (see below), one thought suddenly struck me: Has there ever been another player who could still command the longest and most lucrative contracts in free agency despite coming off one of the worst statistical years of his career?

Through 53 games this season Stamkos has only scored 21 goals and 40 points, including just one goal in his past 10 games, which puts him on pace for 32 goals and 61 points, the lowest per game output since his rookie season. At 26 years old, Stamkos is entering his prime, and given his work ethic, drive and talent, he should be having a monster year.

Stamkos is a notoriously efficient shooter, unlike Ovechkin who is more of a volume shooter, and he’s shooting just 14.1 percent, again the worst rate since his rookie season and below his career average of 17.0. Yet, come July 1, is there any doubt that Stamkos will get the biggest contract of the summer?

If the notion that players often perform better in contract years is true – and to a certain extent I certainly think it is – then what Stamkos is doing is totally counterintuitive. He’s not the only player who has disappointed, but after breaking his leg and then scoring 43 goals the following season, this should’ve been the year Stamkos really took the “perennial Rocket Richard favorite” title away from Alex Ovechkin. Instead, it’s been the opposite, with Ovechkin and the Caps having the time of their lives while Stamkos and the Lightning continue to navigate through some choppy waters.

Obviously, nowadays contract values are based upon the player’s future potential, and Stamkos will surely continue to be one of the league’s best snipers for years to come. Even in a down year, Stamkos will still pot 30 goals. But having conceded that point, how much would you pay him? Heck, Phil Kessel used to score 30 goals like it was nobody’s business, and look at him now. I imagine that’s the conundrum Steve Yzerman faces.

On one hand, Stamkos belongs in the same conversation as players such as Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby, players who will make more than $10 million this season. (For Kopitar, that starts next season). But, on the other hand, Kopitar, Toews and Crosby have won Stanley Cup(s). For Toews, he’s literally won everything, and the Blackhawks would gladly pay him any amount of money to stay. Granted, Stamkos probably should’ve been on the 2014 Olympic team (one that Yzerman managed, coincidentally) and reached the Stanley Cup Finals last year, but coming close doesn’t cut it. For what it’s worth, it’s believed the Lightning’s offer is an average of $8.5 million per year, which would put him slightly behind Corey Perry ($8.625 million, one Cup) and slightly ahead of Claude Giroux ($8.275 million, zero Cups).

There will be a bidding war for Stamkos if he hits free agency, so whichever team that signs Stamkos will be dedicating a lot of cap room to him – most likely around $10 million per year – and without the promise of a Stanley Cup win. For Kopitar, Toews and Crosby, their legacies have already been cemented for their respective franchises, so even if they don’t win a Cup for the remainder of their contracts, at least they already had one (or a few) in the bag. Their status as champions in the NHL and in the cities they play out of have already been solidified. For Stamkos? I’m still not quite sure how good he is. He’s obviously very, very good, but is he great? Franchise-level great? Hall of Fame-level great? I can say with confidence that I expect the three aforementioned players to be in the Hall one day. It’s a little tougher to say with Stamkos.

And who knows? Maybe Yzerman would just prefer to pass the problem on to someone else, with increasing scuttlebutt that Stamkos may be moved at the trade deadline. For his part, Stamkos has given non-answers, basically saying he’ll consider a trade (he has a no-movement clause) if the time is right and the opportunity arises, but no more and no less than any other player in the league who’s facing a career-altering decision. We’ve all heard that before, but that hasn’t stopped the media from declaring that he’s “open to waiving his no-trade clause,” which obviously hints at something entirely different.

I’m not sure if the Lightning will trade him, but I’m sticking with my guns and guessing that Stamkos’ favored destination is Toronto, and that he will become a Maple Leaf in October. It will have to be a very generous contract, a promise that he’ll play center and an immediate chance to win the Cup for him to sway.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Canadiens (Mike Condon) at Sabres (Chad Johnson), 7:00 PM
Kings (Jhonas Enroth) at Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Avalanche (Calvin Pickard) at Red Wings (Petr Mrazek), 7:30 PM
Predators (Pekka Rinne) at Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Blues (Brian Elliott) at Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 7:30 PM
Flames (Jonas Hiller) at Coyotes (Louis Domingue), 9:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Friday

Montreal Canadiens
Nathan Beaulieu, D (lower body) – day-to-day; questionable.
Jeff Petry, D (lower body) – placed on injured reserve; no return date set.
Paul Byron, LW (lower body) – travelling with the team but no return date set.
Lucas Lessio, LW (lower body) – travelling with the team but no return date set.
Brian Flynn, C (lower body) – out 6-to-8 weeks.
Daniel Carr, LW (right knee) – out three months.
Carey Price, G (leg) – no timetable for return.

Buffalo Sabres
Johan Larsson, C (undisclosed) – did not play Thursday; doubtful.
Zemgus Girgensons, C (lower body) – placed on injured reserve; no return date set.
Tyler Ennis, LW (upper body) – no return date set.
Cody McCormick, C (blood clots) – no timetable for return.

Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick, G (lower body) – missed Thursday’s game; questionable.
Matt Greene, D (shoulder) – out for the season.

New York Rangers
Ryan McDonagh, D (concussion) – missed Wednesday’s game; no return date set.
Rick Nash, LW (leg) – will not play.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Trevor Daley, D (undisclosed) – game-time decision; questionable.
Evgeni Malkin, C (knee) – out one more week.
Eric Fehr, RW (lower body) – out at least a month.
David Warsofsky, D (concussion) – did not play Wednesday; no return date set.
Nick Bonino, C (hand) – no return date set.
Beau Bennett, RW (upper body) – no return date set.

Carolina Hurricanes
Kris Versteeg, RW (illness) – practiced Thursday; questionable.
Brett Pesce, D (lower body) – no return date set.
James Wisniewski, D (left knee) – likely out for the season.

Colorado Avalanche
Brad Stuart, D (back surgery) – no timetable for return.
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) – no timetable for return.
Jack Skille, RW (concussion) – placed on injured reserve; no return date set.
Reto Berra, G (ankle) – skated Monday but no return date set.

Detroit Red Wings
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) – no timetable for return.
Drew Miller, LW (left ACL) – out for a few more months.
Niklas Kronwall, D (knee) – skated Monday; no return date set.
Mike Green, D (groin) – did not play Wednesday; questionable.

Nashville Predators
Eric Nystrom, LW (foot) – placed on injured reserve; no return date set.
Gabriel Bourque, LW (upper body) – practiced Monday but no return date set.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Jonathan Drouin, LW (suspension) – still awaiting a trade.
Valtteri Filppula, C (illness) – missed Thursday’s practice; questionable.
Jason Garrison, D (lower body) – out three weeks.

St. Louis Blues
Jake Allen, G (knee) – skated Friday; no return date set.
Alex Pietrangelo, D (knee) – out three weeks.
Steve Ott, C (hamstring) – likely out for one more month; no return date set.

Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, C (upper body) – expected to return next week.
Dave Bolland, C (lower body) – no return date set.
Erik Gudbranson, D (upper body) – no return date set.
Willie Mitchell, D (undisclosed) – no return date set.

Calgary Flames
Dennis Wideman, D (suspension) – currently appealing his 20-game suspension.

Arizona Coyotes
Joe Vitale, C (concussion) – likely out for the season.
Boyd Gordon, C (upper body) – week-to-week; no return date set.
Mike Smith, G (lower body) – no return date set.

Evander Kane, LW, BUF – If he’s not scoring goals he’s doing damage with his fists. Kane has three goals in his past six games, including one game where he collected 29 penalty minutes after fighting Alex Petrovic three times and then getting a game misconduct for fighting three times, and in three games he had shot totals of 6, 8 and 11. He’s an all-around fantasy player who just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. For those looking for peripherals and 20-goal potential (even with the number of games missed), Kane’s your guy.

Wayne Simmonds, RW, PHI – Talk about being the other Bash Brother. Over his past six games, Simmonds has six goals, 22 penalty minutes, 21 shots on goal and 18 hits. Thursday’s performance saw him score a goal for the second straight game, snapping a three-game losing streak for Philadelphia. Simmonds is yet another multi-category fantasy beast who has heat up after a slow start to the season.

Steven Stamkos, C, TB – As mentioned above, for a player who is having a down season, he’s still going to be able to command and get top dollar if and when he hits free agency. Stamkos has just 21 goals this season and one in his past 10 games, and at 0.75 points-per-game, he’s scoring at a career-low pace.

Phil Kessel, RW, PIT – Phil the Thrill hasn’t made anyone jump out of their seats since Jan. 26, when he scored a goal in a 2-0 win over the Devils. You’d think that with Sidney Crosby getting hot Kessel would also start producing, but that just hasn’t been the case. He has just three assists in his past five games with a minus-5 rating. No matter what the Pens do, they just can’t seem to find an elite player who meshes with Crosby.

Recommended Pickup
Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA – A third-round pick who scored 52 goals in 63 games in his overage year in the OHL, no one thought Trocheck would get so good so quickly. He’s one of those guys who can really score, but flies under the radar because he’s an undersized center drafted in a round where most players don’t make the NHL, and also because 24 goals in 78 games in the AHL over two seasons doesn’t turn a lot of heads. But he’s certainly on everyone’s radar now with 17 goals, tied for second on the team with Jaromir Jagr, and 35 points. Gerard Gallant doesn’t get enough credit for how well he’s developing Florida’s young core.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.