It’s plausible – yet not guaranteed – that Derick Brassard will be better next season than the player he was traded for, Mika Zibanejad. Plenty of New York Rangers fans are justified in being excited about the long-term impact of the move, and not merely because of the second-round pick they received in the swap. Zibanejad is a lot younger than Brassard. Even if Brassard ages well at 29, his Swedish trade counterpart is merely 23. The Rangers, quite reasonably, wonder if Zibanejad’s best days are still ahead of him. “He’s a younger player that our scouting staff and our management all felt he was on the upswing,” Vigneault said to the Rangers’ website. “The speed is there. The skill is there.
There’s a long list of things that have to go right for the Vancouver Canucks if their playoff hopes are to be realized. One of the biggest is for new addition Erik Gudbranson to form a cohesive second pairing with sophomore Ben Hutton. If that happens, and if Alex Edler and Chris Tanev can stay healthy, the Canucks should have a reliable top-four defense, and that’s something they rarely, if ever, had last season. Gudbranson, a big stay-at-home type, and Hutton, a puck-mover, have been skating together at training camp. The Canucks believe the pairing has great potential, with each defenseman’s strengths complementing the other’s. “I want to get his feet moving and hit him in stride and get
The Dallas Stars had the best offense in the NHL last season, but only the 19th-best goals-against. It was a combination that made them arguably the most exciting team to watch, but also one that ended with a second-round defeat to the St. Louis Blues. In the Stars’ four losses to the Blues, they surrendered 20 goals combined. When it was over, much of the blame was assigned to their two goalies, and by extension to their general manager. Just don’t expect the Stars to dramatically change their ways in 2016-17. They are who they are, and they don’t want to be anything else. “Everybody is raving about Team North America (at the World Cup), and that’s the way we play hockey,” GM Jim Nill said,