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Friday Funbag: How Vasilevskiy's injury might force other teams to carry 3 goalies
Plus your questions and fun thoughts on the captaincy.
The NHL goaltending world was shaken up on Thursday when it was announced that Andrei Vasilevskiy had back surgery and would miss the first two months of this coming season.
Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies in the world, he’s the MVP that never won a Hart Trophy in Tampa Bay, and it’s a pretty grim looking crease without him for the Lightning.
It also changes the equation for the other 31 NHL teams.
As long as the Lightning are lurking and searching for goalie help, other teams have to be more weary about how they handle their goaltending depth.
This brings me to Detroit, where Alex Lyon was signed this season to come in as organizational depth behind Ville Husso and James Reimer. Personally, I like Lyon’s game more than Reimer, but the Red Wings, thus far, seem to have Reimer in that backup spot.
Lyon only makes $900,000 against the cap and proved last season with Florida that he could step in and handle an NHL workload. If the Red Wings elected to waive Lyon before Tampa finds a solution in net, I struggle to see how the Lightning wouldn’t claim the goalie.
Even if Tampa claimed Spencer Martin on waivers, which we’ll find out later today, I think the Lightning would still be in a stock-piling mood to improve the goaltending and snag Lyon.
The biggest hope for Detroit, and any other team wanting to sneak a goalie through waivers, is Tampa panicking and making a quicker move to solidify the crease. This could include Tampa signing Jaroslav Halak, who remains available, or potentially swinging a trade for another goalie.
I’ve also wondered if we’ll start to see more teams, in general, carry a third goalie this season. We already know the Carolina Hurricanes seem inclined to do so, but Detroit could be a strong candidate — and did it for stretches last season — while sacrificing one traditional skater spot.
Before we get to the rest of this, I wanted to share a random Lyon story from the Stanley Cup Final this past spring, in an interview I did for EP Rinkside.
AL: It’s been awesome, and I haven’t been up all year, but Roberto’s brother Leo Luongo is our goalie coach in Charlotte and let’s give him a shoutout. And our third goalie right now here is Mack Guzda and Jean-François Bérubé also in Charlotte, we all have a good relationship, we all work together and work cohesively. I hope someday soon Leo gets an NHL shot.
It’s easy to think of the word think tank or department or whatever and it’s us getting together every Tuesday and getting beer and pizza and talking about the nature of the goalie position, but it’s not like that. Really what it is that they allow each goalie to have their own personality and style, and I think ultimately that comes from having Roberto Luongo in the building. He’s done it, it’s like having a really experienced head coach. When you talk to him he’s the authority.
EP: You sure we can’t get the beer and pizza setup? That’s a great visual picturing Luongo leading a beer and pizza conversation with you and Bobrovski and the other goalies every Tuesday.
AL: Yeah that actually would be pretty great. I don’t know if his schedule is free to do that every Tuesday with me and Mack, but maybe he and Bob do something like that and just don’t tell us.
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Last week we started a thread in the Shap Shots chat about the role of the NHL captain.
And it’s an interesting time to discuss those who wear the “C” because five NHL teams have installed new captains before this season, including the Calgary Flames recently signing Mikael Backlund to an extension then announcing his new leadership position.
Nineteen NHL teams have changed their captain since the end of the 2019-20 season, and that includes the five teams (Arizona, Philadelphia, Seattle, Anaheim, and Chicago) that currently don’t have a captain.
Sidney Crosby is the NHL’s longest-serving captain, dating back to 2007, followed by Alexander Ovechkin and then the trio of Jamie Benn, Gabriel Landeskog, and Steven Stamkos.
Personally speaking, I think there are three types of captains in today’s NHL.
Those given the “C” because they were the best player on the team.
Those who best fit the marketing plan with a long-term contract.
The heart-and-soul type, that truly earned it.
In many cases players under category No. 1 or No. 2 can grow into category No. 3.
For example, the two teams I cover most closely, Dallas and Detroit, have captains that fit the prior criteria and have since grown into that leadership position.
Jamie Benn used to be the Stars best player, that is no longer the case, but he has grown into the emotional beacon for the team, and for better or worse, Dallas will follow him to the end of the earth.
In Detroit, Dylan Larkin is arguably still Detroit’s best player, he was also tasked with being the leader through one of the toughest stretches in franchise history. Larkin learned leadership by trial through fire, and with how he’s had to wear some of the toughest moments the past couple years, I think he does a nice job.
Here were some other thoughts on the captaincy from Shap Shots readers:
Ok, let’s get to your questions.
DrewL Hi Sean. Saw this article today in the Minneapolis STRIB re: Bally. How might this unfolding situation affect Stars broadcasts this season? Sounds very concerning for fans who may have trouble finding a broadcast through any carrier. Thoughts? https://www.startribune.com/bally-sports-diamond-timberwolves-wild-nba-nhl-comcast-randball/600307661/
The regional sports model is falling apart, and Bally Sports is at the center of it.
As that article lays out, there is a real possibility that Diamond Sports could fail to finalize a deal with Comcast, which would start a domino reaction that could lead to others falling out with the RSNs.
The Vegas Golden Knights RSN dealings may be the best example of what’s potential in the future for NHL teams. Vegas worked out a deal for over-the-air broadcasting, but maintaining their digital rights and have launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service.
I’ve written about this before, and Vegas was able to do this because the team has worked with a slightly different economic model since it’s inception. While RSN money makes a larger portion of most team’s bottom lines, Vegas financially speaking has been more diverse in its portfolio — the team’s location certainly hasn’t hurt.
I believe that eventually we’ll be in a spot where teams have taken back their rights and taken care of streaming on their own. It just feels like the long-term play, especially as teams have to be more of their own content factories.
Andrew: In what way do you expect Ben Bishop’s influence to manifest? Does he wind up being a GM in Dallas or elsewhere?
Ben Bishop is basically taking over Rich Peverley’s old role. He visits with prospects and spends some time in Cedar Park with the AHL team. He also is living back in St. Louis now, living closer to family.
He’s not working with the Stars goalies on a regular basis, instead this is more of a prospect-driven position.
With all that considered, Bishop’s impact, in my view will be felt more in the long run when it comes prospects outside of the professional ranks and keeping them connected to the Stars long-term vision.
I’m not sure about the GM thing, Bishop is a smart hockey mind, but I also don’t get the same “GM” feeling about him that I have about Jason Spezza, now an assistant GM in Pittsburgh, or even Peverley. There’s time for that to change, but overall, Bishop seems more content with a support role where he can continue to spend more time with his kids in St. Louis.
Phil What do the Stars defense pairings look like in a scenario where Miro misses time. (This question is based on my strong belief he is the most irreplaceable player on the roster)
Well you’re right that Miro Heiskanen is the most irreplaceable piece of the Stars roster.
Just look at what happened in the second round of the playoffs last season when he was injured against the Seattle Kraken.
So if we assume Heiskanen was to be out, the pairings would probably look something like this.
Esa Lindell — Nils Lundkvist
Thomas Harley — Jani Hakanpää
Ryan Suter — Joel Hanley
Hannah Which member of the stars top line do you think would be least likely to have the same successes if they were split up and paired with a different pair of linemates?
It’s a tough question, because I think all three would have success in the long run if they were split up and each put on their own line.
With that in in mind, in the short term, Jason Robertson seems like the most likely to struggle initially when separate from Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski. Pavelski’s game fits well with anyone, so does Hintz’, albeit for different reasons.
Robertson needs to play with linemates that understand how to play with him, and for that reason I think there could be a slight learning curve for any line he gets put on separate from Hintz and Pavelski.
D. Y. After only two pre-season games....how do the “new” kids on the block appear to be handling the defensive aspects of Coach Pete’s system(s) ?
Would love to give you a better answer, but hard to truly assess that with me not being there in person since these games haven’t been televised.
Andrew Do you see any way the Stars execute a trade and sign for Zegras? Obviously they would have to find a way to clear up about $5m in cap for a bridge deal but moving Faksa +a surplus forward would seem to be feasible. Maybe we can trick Suter into thinking the Ducks will be good this year and he will waive his NMC for them.
Yeah, so, the thing about a trade is the other team has to be interested in making the deal as well.
Even if Zegras wants to push out of Anaheim, it would take a return that the Stars simply can’t afford. Pat Verbeek seems like a pretty sharp GM, and I don’t see how he would make a deal with Dallas that doesn't include Logan Stankoven or Lian Bichsel.
David Castillo With Dallas being seen as the class of the West alongside Edmonton and Vegas, what unlikely playoff opponent should Stars fans worry about?
Colorado isn’t an unlikely playoff opponent, but since you didn’t mention them they should be included in this answer.
If you wanted a true wildcard team that would worry the Stars, I would go with the Winnipeg Jets. I’m not high on the Jets actually getting into the playoffs, but I also think if they do get it, it’ll be because Connor Hellebucyk re-found all-world form. That combined with an annoyingly effective checking system, could spell frustration for a Dallas team.