We all formed our eyes aback in the day aback then-Leafs GM Brian Burke said he had Morgan Rielly rated No. 1 in the 2012 NHL access draft.
Six years later, who’s been bigger than Rielly?
Certainly not any of the four players best advanced of him. First-overall apprehension Nail Yakupov is arena in Russia, Ryan Murray can’t breach healthy, centre-turned-winger-turned-centre Alex Galchenyuk is on his additional team, and Griffin Reinhart hasn’t stepped bottom in the NHL in two years.
If you had to do the abstract all over again, maybe Nashville centre Filip Forsberg would accept gone aboriginal overall. That is, if you don’t favour a goalie such as Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th), Frederik Andersen (87th) or Connor Hellebuyck (130th).
But if you appetite a No. 1 defenceman — and which aggregation doesn’t? — afresh you’d booty Rielly advanced of Hampus Lindholm or Jacob Trouba. You couldn’t absolutely say that about him aftermost year or in any of the years before.
Rielly was good, but he wasn’t great. He was, at best, a No. 2. He was the affectionate of defenceman who played a ton of account and in a array of situations, but who didn’t put up a ton of points.
This year, that’s changed. We’re alone four amateur into the season, but with a league-best 10 credibility (heading into Wednesday’s play), it’s acceptable anon bright Rielly is activity to accept a monster year offensively. He ability not put up Erik Karlsson-type numbers. But now that he’s casual the bogie to some of the best accomplished assiduously in the NHL, you can pencil him in for at atomic 70 points.
The catechism is whether that gets him noticed for the Norris Trophy, which is as abundant about credibility as it is about reputation.
In the antecedent bristles years, Rielly has never accustomed alike a distinct vote for the award. A big acumen for that is a abridgement of production. Rielly, who had a career-best 52 credibility aftermost season, angry with Jake Gardiner for 15th amid defencemen in scoring. It was the alone time he’s anytime been ranked in the top 30.
Now that he’s quarterbacking a alarming power-play assemblage that includes Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner, it’s not unrealistic to advance he could accomplishment in the top five.
If so, you can apprehend that he’ll get some Norris Trophy recognition.
WHO IS NO. 2?
Now that Rielly has accurate he can be a No. 1 defenceman, which of Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsev or Travis Dermott is activity to abound into a No. 2? Not accepting one was one acumen why Dion Phaneuf bootless so miserably in Toronto. My money is on 21-year-old Dermott demography a behemothic footfall forward. It’s aloof too bad he’s a awkward shot.
GOALIES GO DOWN
It’s been a bad alpha to the division for starting goalies. Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick is week-to-week, Florida’s Roberto Luongo is out two-to-four weeks, and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Chicago’s Corey Crawford are both out indefinitely with concussions. Makes you anticipate area the Leafs and Jets would be if Frederik Andersen and Connor Hellebuyck were to absence any time this season.
The New York Rangers beatific a bulletin to defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk by benching him recently. GETTY IMAGES
BENCHING SENDS MESSAGE
If the Rangers end up benching Kevin Shattenkirk for Thursday’s d adjoin the Sharks, it will no agnosticism accelerate a able bulletin to New York’s highest-paid skater. But the bigger bulletin is to the team.
The Rangers are in clean approach with a new coach, David Quinn, who is in his aboriginal NHL season. At this point, the wins and losses don’t amount as abundant as the process. By sitting out Shattenkirk, who a from earning $6.65-million, additionally spent two years beneath Quinn at Boston University, its takeaway is that no one is bigger than the team.
The players will account that. And they will bethink it aback the Rangers eventually turns things around.
PAGING CONNOR McDAVID
Where in the apple is Connor McDavid? It’s above asinine that the face of the NHL is arena in Germany for the aboriginal two weeks of the season. And don’t acquaint me that he’s allowance to abound the game.
There’s an easier and added able way to do that. It’s alleged the Olympics.
GIBSON AN EARLY VEZINA FAVOURITE
It’s early, but don’t be afraid if this is the year John Gibson wins the Vezina Trophy. The Anaheim Ducks goalie, who concluded aftermost division with a 1.95 goals-against boilerplate and a .937 save allotment afterwards the all-star break, has best up area he larboard off with a 3-0 record, 1.30 goals-against boilerplate and a .958 save allotment branch into Wednesday’s d adjoin Arizona.
SENS GOT VALUE FOR KARLSSON
I got all kinds of snarky emails/tweets aback I appear that Sharks GM Doug Wilson believed that the barter for Erik Karlsson netted the Senators advantageous players.
Since then, advanced Chris Tierney and defenceman Dylan DeMelo anniversary has a ambition and three credibility in three games. Karlsson currently has three assists on the season.
BOESER NEEDS TO SHOOT MORE
It’s not adverse that Vancouver’s Brock Boeser has gone three amateur afterwards a goal. Afterwards all, he didn’t account until the fourth d of aftermost season. But what is apropos is that he alone has three shots so far. He averaged 2.89 shots per d aftermost year.
DAHLIN THROWS HIS WEIGHT AROUND
I was assured to be wowed by Rasmus Dahlin’s abhorrent abilities aback I saw the Buffalo Sabres amateur defenceman comedy alive adjoin the Golden Knights beforehand this week. Instead, I was absolute abroad by his underrated concrete game. He bedfast Erik Haula with an open-ice hit on one play, afresh stood up a skating-at-full-speed Max Pacioretty on another. Aloof delay until the kid puts on some weight.
NHL IS FUN (AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN)
It was abundant to see Matthews and Patrick Kane actor anniversary other’s ambition anniversary in Chicago the added night. And I’m a big fan of Carolina’s Lambeau-type bound afterwards wins. But amuse stop with the accomplished “it’s so auspicious to see hockey players accept fun” narrative.
If you anticipate the alliance is boring, you acutely never saw Tiger Williams ride his stick about the ice or watched Theoren Fleury, Teemu Selanne and Alex Ovechkin bless their goals. The NHL has consistently had some of the best colourful characters.
The botheration is that it additionally has some of the dullest.
FLAMES GETTING AMPLE LEADERSHIP
Johnny Gaudreau has seven points, Matthew Tkachuk has six and Sean Monahan has four goals. Marc Giordano ability be the Flames captain, but afterwards aftermost year’s collapse, the aggregation bare that accomplished advanced leash to be its on-ice leaders.
Now, if alone Sam Bennett can accretion the aback of the net.
McELHINNEY STEALS THE NET IN CAROLINA
The Hurricanes accept yet to lose in adjustment afterwards four games. And a big acumen for it is above Leafs advancement goalie Curtis McElhinney, who has a .930 save allotment in two starts.
If this keeps up, Scott Darling ability not accept a job aback he allotment from a lower-body injury.
THIS AND THAT
Forget John Tavares or Erik Karlsson. So far, the best move of the summer was the Sabres’ accretion of Carter Hutton, who’s the aboriginal Buffalo goalie aback Ryan Miller who can absolutely stop the bogie … Auston Matthews has seven goals in four games. That’s added than Vegas or Detroit has denticulate afterwards three games. It’s additionally the accumulated absolute of Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Edmonton, Florida and Arizona … You can be forgiven for not alive that Nick Ritchie is additionally sitting out while cat-and-mouse for a new contract. You can additionally be forgiven for not alive who Nick Ritchie is … Penguins’ Kris Letang on Matt Murray actuality out with a blow for the additional time in eight months: “It , but it’s allotment of the game.” Aback when?
NYLANDER OFF MATTHEWS’ LINE?
Does William Nylander still accept a job cat-and-mouse for him on Auston Matthews’ wing? Not in my opinion. That atom now belongs to Kasperi Kapanen, who’s got four credibility in four games, and is accommodating to do all the things that accomplished players don’t commonly appetite to do.
When — or if — Nylander eventually returns, I’d put him on a band with Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown. Aloof addition acumen why Nylander needs to get on the aboriginal flight aback to Toronto.
Chicago centre Jonathan Toews looks like hes aback in aristocratic anatomy this season. GETTY IMAGES
TOEWS BACK TO HIS OLD SELF
It was during the NHL’s Amateur Media Tour appropriate afore the alpha of the division aback Jonathan Toews told me that he was “pissed” that he was no best advised an aristocratic centre.
“It’s time to analysis your ego,” said Toews. “Start fresh, alpha over and accept that aforementioned ache and mentality that you did as a adolescent amateur in the league. Booty annihilation for granted.”
With bristles goals in three games, Toews is attractive like the amateur who already denticulate 32 goals and 76 points. That was eight continued years ago.
Since then, the Blackhawks captain has apparent his abhorrent numbers steadily abatement as he confused into a abeyance role.
Then again, it aloof ability be that his luck is assuredly changing.
Toews’ cutting allotment has hovered about 14% for best of his career. But admitting battlefront 211 shots aftermost year — his accomplished absolute aback 2010-11 — it biconcave beneath 10%.
Toews won’t be able to sustain the 38.5% he’s aing on now, but if he can abide to boilerplate four shots per game, he should be on clip to hit the 35-goal mark afresh … with a little bogie luck.
“I bethink (Sidney) Crosby had that bad one-half of the division and he came aback in the additional bisected and about won the scoring race,” Kane said at the Amateur Media Tour in Chicago. “That’s the aforementioned affair with John. I would never calculation him out. He’ll accretion a way to get back.”
Looks like he has.
Maple Leafs accompaniment Willian Nylander continues to authority out. GETTY IMAGES
NYLANDER CAME UP ONE YEAR TOO EARLY
How abundant does Nylander ambition he could be arena with the Leafs appropriate now? And how abundant does he ambition he could accept been a chargeless abettor afterwards this season?
That’s the advantage Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews both accept — as able-bodied as Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point — as they abide to arbor up credibility in what should be actual advantageous and advantageous arrangement years.
Considering that Matthews has denticulate seven goals and Marner has best up eight points, what affectionate of numbers would Nylander be putting up by now? Six goals? Nine points? More? Less?
We don’t apperceive and that’s a big acumen why this accord is so complicated.
By the end of this season, we will apperceive (if we didn’t already) what Marner is as a player. If Marner can’t put up 80-plus credibility while arena on a band with John Tavares and accepting first-unit power-play time, he may never.
With Nylander, it’s all guesswork. On one hand, he’s austere three years off his entry-level contract. But because he alone played 22 amateur in that aboriginal division — Matthews had not yet been drafted and Marner had been alternate to inferior — his resume is clumsily thin.
Is he a accompaniment or a centre? Is he able of scoring 35-to-40 goals or is he added of a playmaker? Is he the benefactor of arena with Matthews or can he backpack a band on his own?
Had Nylander’s entry-level arrangement asleep at the end of this season, we ability accept been able to acknowledgment some of these questions. Instead, his aing accord is all about what he’s done so far and what he ability do in the future.
Your assumption is as acceptable as mine.
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