Fast Shifts: Ought to Maple Leafs commerce for Jake McCabe?

A fast mixture of the issues we gleaned from the week of hockey, critical and fewer so, and rolling 4 strains deep. Tanking is an imaginary idea secretly promoted by the Illuminati to distract us from the head of parity that’s the Nationwide Hockey League.

1. How Kyle Dubas tackles the ultimate commerce deadline of his present contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs is a bottomless supply of fascination and hypothesis.

Who does he usher in? How a lot does he pay? Which place does he prioritize? And what if all of it goes sideways sooner than bald summer time tires on an unplowed Buffalo facet road in February?

Particular goal names have began trickling out, and hockey insider Frank Seravalli highlights Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Jake McCabe as one of many extra intriguing ones.

Chicago GM Kyle Davidson’s reported asking worth: a second-round choose and a B-level prospect, if acquired at his full $4 million AAV. Extra to persuade the Blackhawks to eat wage.

McCabe, 29, is a vivid mild on a franchise embracing darkish days.

He’s a plus-4 on a tanker vessel with a minus-54 purpose differential. He’s a left shot who — like T.J. Brodie — is glad to play the correct facet, can eat 19 to twenty minutes an evening towards top-six competitors and is accustomed to beginning most of his shifts within the D-zone.

Extra essential: McCabe is an enormous physique (204 kilos) who will kill penalties, block a pair pictures and throw a pair hits per night time — and he isn’t a rental.

He’s signed by way of 2024-25, which might give Dubas a cost-controlled Jake Muzzin substitute with out shelling out the premium worth of a Jakob Chychrun.

Additional, Davidson has a spread of forwards out there, from the excessive finish (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews) to the assist items (Andreas Athanasiou, Sam Lafferty).

Dubas has a monitor report of addressing a number of wants with two-player trades previously.

Naturally, the hope will probably be Davidson drops his worth nearer to the deadline.

However the actual fact that is the kind of transaction Dubas is exploring makes one surprise if he actually has the urge for food to take a critical swing at a few of the marquee-name targets that promote sweaters. And value first-rounders.

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2. John Tavares is coming into Sport 1,000 scorching Sunday versus the Washington Capitals.

The Maple Leafs captain has racked up 15 factors in his previous 12 video games and is on monitor for his first 80-point marketing campaign in 4 years.

“This yr he’s been nice,” defenceman Morgan Rielly says. “That’s kinda his mentality — he simply needs to maintain going. I don’t suppose he thinks concerning the finish.”

Tavares prides himself on consistency, vitamin and dwelling in second.

With age, he’s proven a willingness to adapt and take instruction from the Maple Leafs improvement workers on his stride and skating posture in an effort to increase his shelf life.

“Attempting to play with tempo and be direct,” Tavares explains of his focus. “Attempting to be lighter on my ft, generate tempo and momentum in my recreation.”

Rielly marvels at Tavares’s work ethic and the way he dependably hangs massive numbers, regardless of the circumstances.

“He loves enjoying hockey. He loves the grind. He loves the work,” Rielly says. “So, I don’t count on him to cease anytime quickly.”

That’s due to Tavares’s diligent habits in all sides of his life and dedication to taking good care of his physique like nobody else, in accordance with defenceman Mark Giordano.

“I do know I’m older than him, however you possibly can look as much as guys like him,” says Giordano, 39, who earned his Silver Stick final season. “He has it circled on his calendar.”

Provides Justin Holl: “It’ll be an enormous celebration for him on Sunday.”

3. 5 years after leaving the New York Islanders and signing dwelling as a free agent, Tavares tells reporters that, sure, he nonetheless throws cash on the board each time the Maple Leafs face the Islanders: “The blokes received’t let me off the hook for that.”

4. Tavares has been fascinated about the All-Star Sport choice course of and believes, like many followers, the showcase is in want of a rethink. Maple Leafs prime goal-scorer William Nylander’s omission is however one instance.

“I’ve at all times thought that it’s essential to acknowledge the gamers which are very deserving, and yearly there’s at all times gonna be a few guys that, due to the format, don’t get the popularity,” Tavares says. “It’s essential that will get checked out, whether or not it’s Willy or anybody throughout the league.

Tavares believes the invite course of, which now requires illustration from all 32 golf equipment, is “value taking a look at” and floats expanded rosters as a suggestion.

5. Can’t cease scratching my head over the Vancouver Canucks’ resolution to rebuild round a flamable winger J.T. Miller over their captain and 200-foot centreman Bo Horvat.

Now Vancouver has taken coveted commerce chip Andrei Kuzmenko off the market, signing him to a two-year, $11 million extension.

Just like the participant, for positive, and he’s developed good chemistry with centre Elias Pettersson. However think about the a number of items Jim Rutherford & Co. may’ve reaped by flipping him to a cap-crunched contender.

Kuzmenko’s new AAV, $5.5 million, exactly matches Horvat’s expiring one.

Good on the participant and nice job by agent Dan Milstein for getting his 26-year-old shopper a whopper payday after simply 47 NHL video games performed, largely for a group that hasn’t been within the race.

Additional, Canucks administration gave Kuzmenko a 12-team no-trade record, which can make it tougher to maneuver him if Vancouver continues to be promoting in 2024-25.

Kuzmenko’s taking pictures proportion on the day he signed: 24.7.

The NHL’s common taking pictures proportion: 9.5.

6. Bruce Cassidy referred to as out the Vegas Golden Knights’ most handsomely paid star, Jack Eichel, within the wake of a dismal loss to a mediocre Detroit Crimson Wings membership:

“Jack simply hasn’t been the identical driving pressure for us as he was initially of the yr on each ends of the ice,” Cassidy told reporters. “The expectations will not be being met from Jack. He must be higher for us, particularly as we’re down a number of guys that create offence for us. He must be one of many drivers.”

Within the 4 video games since Cassidy challenged his $10-million man, Eichel has gone pointless and is a minus-4. He has one help, no targets, and a minus-8 ranking over Vegas’s previous six.

Yikes face.

7. Alexis Lafreniere put collectively his first three-game level streak of the season this week.

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant says he’s impressed how 2020’s No. 1 choose has responded since his extremely publicized wholesome scratch on Dec. 29.

“I inform folks, ‘I acquired no drawback with the child.’ He’s a 21-year-old child. Generally they want a little bit kick within the butt to get going once more. He’s been wonderful. I like the child. He’s performed nice and brought one other good step for us,” Gallant mentioned throughout the Rangers’ swing by way of Toronto.

The Child Line — Lafreniere and fellow excessive choose Kaapo Kakko, centred by Filip Chytil — was dancing that night time, like they had been within the 2022 playoffs once more.

“I give them a whole lot of assist,” Gallant mentioned, firing again on the narrative. “I assist each these children. You do one of the best you possibly can with them. They’ve each taken an enormous step. Lots of our media folks don’t suppose that at instances. It frustrates me, however I feel the children are nice. They’re going to be good hockey gamers, and generally it takes guys a little bit longer than different guys.”

Gallant went out of his solution to observe the manufacturing of New York’s high-pedigree younger forwards suffers as a result of they will’t crack a loaded, veteran prime power-play unit (Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad).

“They may get 30 seconds,” Gallant famous. “And you then go to New Jersey and see a few of their younger children enjoying on their first unit as a result of that’s what they’ve.”

The overachieving Devils don’t have vets blocking the way in which.

“Jersey’s taken an enormous step there this yr with these children. So, Lafreniere and (our) children don’t get the identical quantity of minutes and the identical quantity of power-play time as they do,” Gallant mentioned. “I’m attempting to win video games each night time. Our group’s attempting to win video games and be a Stanley Cup–contending group, in order that’s what we acquired to do.

“Generally these children take the robust a part of it, however that’s hockey. I’m not going to take a seat Panarin and Kreider and Zibanejad on the bench and play different folks forward of them.”

8. Jack Hughes gives an early candidate for Major Help of the 12 months:

9. On the morning the NHL’s Twenty eighth-most-prolific offence misplaced its prime purpose scorer, Cole Caufield, to season-ending shoulder surgical procedure, Martin St. Louis spoke not of profitable video games or motivating his depleted Montreal Canadiens by way of tough water.

The top coach spoke of satisfaction and course of. Of holding excessive heads whereas scuffling by way of the swamp that’s the backside of the league’s standings.

“Gamers are proud,” St. Louis started. “In case your coaches need to continuously maintain motivating your gamers, you’re in hassle. To me, it’s about self-discipline and having requirements of how we do issues and holding them accountable to that. That’s my job.

“If we’re a group that’s simply going to be result-driven, that’s once you lose your self a little bit bit. Result’s a part of it. I present up, I’m attempting to win the sport tonight. And identical factor on Tuesday.

“Are we going to do this? I don’t know. However my job as a coach is to carry them accountable to the requirements that we now have as we’re constructing this tradition to develop into a group that may win far more than we lose.”

10. Such is the mess Rick Tocchet inherited in Vancouver.

Culturally, optically, the factor is a large number.

Tocchet — considered one of three head coaches on Francesco Aquilini’s payroll — pointedly referred to as out his bunch as “soft,” following his second recreation behind the bench.

“It reveals tonight that we’ve acquired a whole lot of work to do,” he mentioned.

I recognize Tocchet’s candour, the urge to enact change, to appropriate and encourage. And he’s not improper.

Nonetheless, gentle is a unclean phrase on this sport. (Sheldon Keefe memorably used it once in Toronto, backtracked, and has steered away from the time period publicly since. Even when it may very well be justified every so often.)

How Tocchet navigates these early days looks like a lose-lose state of affairs.

The captain and head of the room, Bo Horvat, may very well be dealt at any second. A number of veterans will doubtless comply with him out the door earlier than March 3. And few skaters are enjoying for his or her subsequent contract.

All that’s left is satisfaction to play for. Now the Canucks should steadiness that with a twister of rumours, a brand new voice and system and a regular-season treadmill that doesn’t enable for the “10 practices” Tocchet needs he needed to instill his imaginative and prescient.

Could possibly be an extended three months in British Columbia …

P.S. Paul Bissonnette earnestly overlaying Inexperienced Day’s “Good Riddance” over Henrik Lundqvist’s kingly acoustic strums as a tribute to Tocchet’s temporary tenure as TNT analyst is the content material we are able to’t stay with out:

11. Fascinated to see how Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams approaches this deadline.

The Sabres — reluctant house owners of the NHL-record 11-year playoff drought — have historically been sellers at the moment of yr.

But with a dynamic offence at Adams’ disposal and the constructing blocks of an thrilling core on the rise, the Sabres have positioned themselves to purchase.

Not a lot to chase a wild-card spot they solely have a 42 per cent shot at snatching. Fairly, to reap the benefits of their strongest weapon: cap house.

Adams has a projected $18.3 million of it — greater than all 31 different golf equipment.

He additionally has three second-round picks to dangle.

Does he weaponize his cap house and recoup belongings from cap-tight contenders in search of a 3rd social gathering to retain wage?

Does he hunt down one of many a number of top-line gamers anticipated to hit the market?

There’s a two-year window in Buffalo earlier than Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Energy, Peyton Krebs and Victor Olofsson all come knocking for raises.

Adams has afforded himself a window to flex a monetary benefit in a system begging for fluidity. Let’s see how artistic he can get.

12. Small factor, massive factor.

After Dylan Cozens scored the additional time winner on the night time Ryan Miller was honoured by the Sabres devoted, Cozens gifted his stick and the sport puck to Miller’s younger son Bodhi. Away from the cameras, and away from Ryan.

Cozens immediately grew to become Bodhi’s new favorite participant and an natural connection between Sabres stars previous and current was strengthened.

One other tiny instance of the tradition rising the correct manner in Buffalo.

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