Hottest NHL storylines and rumors coming out of the Holiday Break
Heading into the season, Alex Ovechkin was considered one of the top NHL storylines. And while chasing Wayne Gretzky to become the all-time leader in goals is still very exciting, there’s several other interesting threads evolving this 2022-23 campaign.
Now that Ovechkin has passed Gordie Howe for second with his 802nd goal in the Washington Capitals last game, let’s take a look at some of the hottest topics and rumors coming out of the Holiday Break to keep an eye on.
NHL Stroylines: Patrick Kane watch
Patrick Kane is expected to meet with the Chicago Blackhawks management in January to start laying out his future.
The 34 year-old leads the team with 25 points in 32 games this season and is heading to UFA this summer. Kane’s full no-move clause gives him control over his destination and if he limits it to just one or two teams, it could also reduce the trade package needed to pry him out of Chicago.
In order for any deal to happen with a contender, the Blackhawks will need to retain 50% of his $10.5M cap hit.
At this time, the New York Rangers are the top destination but other teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Boston Bruins have also been mentioned.
No NHL Lead is Safe
Holding a lead heading into the third period felt like a lock not too long ago in the National Hockey League. However, there’s an upward trend indicating that’s no longer the case.
According to NHL Stats, there have already been 63 total wins by teams when trailing after two periods to date. That’s a walloping 15.6% of games where a team has blown a lead in the final 20 minutes of play, many by multiple goals.
For some context, 14.2% of teams won games last season when down going into the third and 13.7% did so in 2020-21.
The skill in the NHL is continues to improve and that means no lead is safe anymore.
Boston Bruins on record pace
The Boston Bruins are the best team in the NHL with a record of 27-4-2. They have 56 points in the standings which has them 6 up on the Carolina Hurricanes for the Presidents’ Trophy.
While many around the league are wondering if they can win the Stanley Cup, their current pace could be historic.
The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens hold the single season record for most points with 132. The 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning and 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings are tied for most single season wins with 62.
At this time, the Boston Bruins are on track to shatter the Habs mark with 139 points and establishing a new record for wins at 67.
It feels like the word impressive hardly captures what’s happening in Beantown this season.
Canucks overhaul coming?
When it comes to the Vancouver Canucks, disappointment is likely the best word to describe their season. For GM Patrik Allvin, a potential roster overhaul could be in the cards starting as soon as the new year.
On a recent 32 Thoughts segment for Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman indicated the Canucks are open for business and have all but one player they’re open to moving.
“They’ve indicated that they have one untouchable and that’s Pettersson,” Friedman said. “What does that mean about Quinn Hughes? What I was told is that the Canucks have said it will take an absolute mammoth offer.”
It’s no surprise that Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are off the table. I would also add Andrei Kuzmenko to that list as well.
When it comes to top trade pieces, look no further than Canucks captain Bo Horvat. From there the likes of defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Brock Boeser are also on the list. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to find a taker for J.T. Miller after giving him a 7-year extension with an AAV of $8 million this past summer.
Bottom line, both the Blackhawks and Canucks will be the biggest sellers come the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3.
Seattle Kraken playoff bound?
Are the Seattle Kraken for real? After a difficult inaugural season, GM Ron Francis and head coach David Hakstol have them in a playoff position well after Thanksgiving.
At 18-10-4, their 40 points have them third in the Pacific Division and they’re no longer considered an easy win.
Former Colorado Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky is leading the team with 28 points in 32 games this season. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, it pales in comparison to many of the top point getters in the NHL.
Here’s the thing when it comes to the Kraken, they’re a structurally sound team that gets balanced scoring. Rookie Matty Beniers is second in team scoring with 25 points, tied with veteran Jordan Eberle.
Per Natural Stat Trick, Seattle ranks 6th in both 5v5 CorsiFor at 52.35% and converting on their high danger chances at a 57.89% clip. The biggest concern is their goaltending which has been average at best.
If they can more out of Phillip Grubauer and Martin Jones the rest of the way, a playoff spot is well within reach.