If there’s one thing I absolutely love, it’s small sample sizes. The only thing I may love more is drawing concrete conclusions and definitive, indisputable opinions based on said small sample sizes.
Which is why the first day of November is an absolute treat. We get to take a casual lap, catch our breath, and try to wrap our heads around all that crazy shit that happened in the first month of the season, and overreact accordingly.
Some of these overreactions hold at least an ounce of merit to them, while others are what overreactive takes are supposed to be: baseless and utterly wrong. That, my friends, is the good stuff.
Here are some early-season takes I’m buying and selling as we wrap up the first month and slide into November.
John Gibson’s the best goalie in the world
I mean, there are a handful of guys, (the Tuukka Rasks, Marc-Andre Fleurys and Pekka Rinnes of the world) who are right there with him, but if I’m taking any stopper to start a franchise with today, I’m going with Gibson and it’s not particularly close. So yes, I will gobble down this take and come back for seconds.
I’m buying this one all day. He’s been snubbed on Vezina ballots over the past couple seasons because of the dumpster fire team he was playing behind, but as the Ducks seemingly set themselves up for a bit of team success this year, hopefully this dude finally gets his shine. The numbers, consistency and talent are all extremely there.
The Sabres will grab a non-wild-card playoff spot in the Atlantic (finish top 3)
A spicy one here based on the Sabres’ recent history and the division they play in being a bloodbath at the top with Boston, Toronto and Tampa — the latter two have been struggling, but, look at those rosters — all finishing as Top 5 NHL clubs last season.
I mean, I guess this could happen if Toronto can’t wrangle it together but I’m not betting on that and the Sabres roster as it currently stands just isn’t quite there, so I’m going to have to dispose of this take although my heart wants to embrace so badly.
Acquiring Milan Lucic for James Neal is a fireable offence; Ken Holland for GM of the Year
I mean, this isn’t advocating for anyone to get fired but my god, if you look at this deal in a vacuum it was clear from Day 1 that the Flames had exactly zero chance of winning the trade. I mean, not a lot of people — no one, basically — had Neal doing what he’s doing right now but based on the past histories of both players and their potential output in their new situations, he was the superior player.
Ken Holland’s first big on-ice personnel move and the ability to somehow shed that Lucic contract was legendary. Honestly, this deal alone — if the Oilers make the playoffs and Neal pots upwards of 25-30 goals, which is almost a guarantee at this point — should warrant some individual accolades for Holland. A statue, even.
Ovechkin will break Gretzky’s scoring record
Hell yes. What is this cruel world if we have nothing to believe in? Ovi truly is the best pure goal-scorer to ever play and I believe in my heart of hearts that those very real hockey gods will have Ovechkin sitting atop the goal-scoring mountain when all is said and done.
As of this writing, Ovi sits only 225 back. That’s an average of 37.5 over the next six seasons. Ovechkin’s goal totals have actually been trending upwards the past few seasons and this guy can get 25 per season for the next however many years without breaking a sweat. I think he’s going to do it, guys.
Mike Babcock is a dead man walking
It’s hard to defend a lot of the strange in-game decisions Babs makes, as well as his lineup construction. His ice-time distribution also leaves many scratching their heads. The Leafs’ notoriously slow starts have to be on Babcock and he frankly doesn’t have a great rapport with ex-players around the league.
He’s not Kyle Dubas’s guy but he is Brendan Shanahan’s coveted coaching hire. But yeah, I think he’s toast even if the Maple Leafs make the playoffs but get dropped in Round 1 again.
The scoop-and-tuck lacrosse-style goal is here to stay
As the primary boot-licker of this particular take, I’m going to have to go with “yes.” It very much is here to stay.
Leon Draisaitl is as (or more) important to the Oilers’ offence than Connor McDavid
Now this is a scorcher and seems completely absurd and that’s why it’s just a top-notch overreaction; maybe the best of the bunch. It’s great because it’s actually not allllllll that crazy to say at this very moment that Draisaitl has been doing more of the lifting than Connor.
Players doing the most heavy lifting for their respective teams offensively this season. That Leon Draisaitl number is something else.. pic.twitter.com/WstmhcMeZo— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) October 31, 2019
Based on offensive responsibility and primary contributions to his team’s scoring, Draisaitl is on another level and might be a fellow MVP candidate at this point, but in no world or emotional state am I taking him over McDavid. He’s close though, which is crazy in its own right.
The Bobrovsky contract is already a nightmare for the Panthers
I mean, having a top-flight goalie locked up for a long time isn’t a nightmare for anyone but Bob has been pretty underwhelming and there’s no way shelling out $10-mill per year for a 35-plus-year-old tender is going to end well. But the Panthers can worry about that in a few years.
This, my friends, is a textbook overreaction. The notoriously slow starter should be fine down the stretch and this contract won’t hinder a cap-floor team like the Panthers one bit.
Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes may not be the impact NHL players we think they are
Okay, that’s enough for one day. Passing hard on this one. Both will be studs, probably by the end of this season. Chill.
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