For this week’s Blakes’ Takes, I share my thoughts on Roman Josi’s monster contract extension. I take a look at a few teams that have lost their stars due to injuries. Also, you can find my takes on the most surprising teams of the year and one scorching hot start.
1. Josi Extended in Music City
Yesterday, it was announced that Predators’ captain and star defenseman, Roman Josi, and the team agreed to an eight-year $72.4 million extension worth a tad over $9 million a year. The 29-year-old was entering the last year of his deal and would have become a UFA this summer. The Swiss international will be 38-years-old when the deal expires.
Josi has been everything the Predators have needed since his breakout season in 2014-15. Since then, he has posted over 12 goals and 49 points each season. He has also finished in the top five in voting for the Norris Trophy in two of those five seasons. His defense has been exceptional too. Josi has had a hot start to this season, scoring five goals and 13 points in 11 games.
This was a necessary move to make by the Predators. After trading P.K. Subban to the Devils over the summer, GM David Poile had to lock up Josi before he hit free agency. This deal will be great for the Predators for another four or five years, before Josi’s inevitable decline. Hopefully, for Nashville, he ages well and doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Brent Seabrook. Regardless of how everything plays out, this was a necessary move for the Predators to extend their window and compete for a Stanley Cup championship for the next few seasons.
2. Injured Stars in the Central Division
It is inevitable every season that at least a few big stars will have their seasons ruined by injuries. Recently, it was announced that two of the league’s brightest stars will miss significant time as they recover.
Blues’ forward Vladimir Tarasenko dislocated his shoulder last Thursday in a game against the LA Kings. Tarasenko had surgery and could miss up to five months. The Russian native was enjoying a hot start to the season with 10 points in his first ten games.
This is a huge blow for the defending champion Blues. As of Tuesday night, the Blues sit in the third playoff spot in the Central Division. I doubt they will be able to replace Tarasenko’s production for five months, even with Brayden Schenn’s hot start. This will be the opening Winnipeg and Dallas need to climb back into the playoff hunt. But I’m not going to declare the Blues dead yet; that didn’t work out so well for everyone last year.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has also been ruled week-to-week with a lower-body injury. It seems he could miss a few weeks with the injury suffered in practice. This is disappointing because Landeskog and his linemates, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, make up arguably the best line in hockey. It will be a shame if he misses significant time and hurts Colorado’s chances of making the playoffs.
Although this injury will hurt Colorado, I don’t think it affects their chances of making the playoffs and potentially finishing first in the Central Division.
3. Perlini Traded to Hockeytown
On Monday, Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Perlini was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to prospect Alec Regula. Perlini was drafted 12th overall by the Coyotes in the 2014 draft. He made his debut during the 2016-17 season where he scored 14 goals and added seven assists in 57 games.
The British-born forward was traded to Chicago last season with Dylan Strome from Arizona, who received Nick Schmaltz in exhange. It seems as though Chicago won that trade, as Strome caught fire playing alongside his former Erie Otters teammate, Alex DeBrincat.
For Detroit, this is a low-risk move. It’s not uncommon for teams to scour the rest of the league for players that never lived up to their draft position with the hope that their production eventually catches up with their talent. It happened to Dylan Strome last year and the Red Wings are hoping it can happen with Perlini.
I like this move for the Blackhawks right now. The club clearly didn’t feel as Perlini could contribute at the NHL level as he’s been a healthy scratch for nine of Chicago’s 10 games. Now Chicago can give some of their other younger guys a shot at the NHL level as they hope Regula develops in London of the OHL.
The winner of this trade won’t be decided for years. But I feel as though both teams can get value out of this now. The Wings could get a player that can contribute now and the Hawks could clear room for another player to contribute.
4. Surprises in the Standings
We’re approximately 15 percent through the regular season. That’s about enough time to recognize some teams are better than expected. Two of the teams that stand out to me are the Edmonton Oilers and the Buffalo Sabres.
Everyone knew the Oilers had top-end talent with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But I don’t think anyone had them pegged to be leading the Pacific Division in late October. McDavid and Draisaitl have each picked up right where they left off last year and rank second and third in points respectively.
But it’s their goaltending that has taken a leap. The partnership of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith has been lights out the season. Koskinen is 5-0, with a 2.46 GAA and a .922 sv%. Smith, one of the least heralded free-agent signings this summer, is 3-3-0-1, with a 2.49 GAA, and a .914 sv%. Both players are playing well above expectations and are one of the biggest reasons for the Oilers’ success this season.
In Buffalo, the story is similar. Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, and Sam Reinhart are all playing well. Eichel looks poised to fulfill his potential and become one of the best players in the NHL. Also, the former number-one overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin, is quietly having a monster season. Dahlin has scored one goal and added nine assists in 13 games this season.
Their goaltending has also been better than expected. The duo of Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark has been great this season. Hutton is 6-1-0-1, with a 2.21 GAA, a .926 sv%, and two shutouts. Ullmark is 3-1-0-1, with a 2.56 GAA, a .932 sv%, and a shutout. These two have carried the load for Buffalo so far this season. If both goaltending duos prove their hot start to this season is more than a flash in the pan, both teams could be legit contenders come spring.
5. Whose Hot Right Now?
If you’re looking for this season’s hottest start, it belongs to Capitals’ defenseman, John Carlson. He has been tearing it up this year. Carlson is currently fourth in the league in points with 21 (5 goals and 16 assists) in 13 games. Yes, fourth. Since I sat down to start writing this take, he’s already scored goals number six and seven on the year.
Carlson has quietly been one of the league’s top-five defensemen over the last two seasons. He was a force through the Capitals Stanley Cup run in 2017-18 and followed that up with another monster season last year, scoring a career-high 70 points (12 goals and 58 assists). He’s shown no signs of slowing down this year. If he keeps this up, he is in line to win the Norris Trophy for the first time in his career. ■