Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Hired goons for Connor McDavid, Bruins discord

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Hired goons for Connor McDavid, Bruins discord

[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

9. Demonstrably bad players on PTOs

So the NHL has this rule, right? In preseason games you have to dress a certain number of guys with a certain amount of NHL experience, or something bad happens (maybe you have to trade for R.J. Umberger?) and you get in trouble.

Whenever you see a player who is not good — Sheldon Brookbank! Jonas Gustavsson! Other Guys I Can't Think Of Right Now But You Can Probably Think of Some By Yourself! Oh Wait Never Mind I Just Remembered Patrick Kaleta! — signed to a PTO, please remember that it's just a team's way of making sure they can keep the veterans they don't need to play in exhibitions from maybe getting hurt by some bad player on a PTO with the other team who wants to make an impression by running an actual NHLer into the boards from behind at a million miles per hour.

None of these guys have any chance of making the NHL team, so don't worry.

(Note: This doesn't apply to actual good players on PTOs, whom teams seem to mainly just be jerking around a little bit to get the price down. Those guys are good and fine.)

8. Hired goons

So Connor McDavid got belted by Jake Virtanen in a rookie game over the weekend and maybe it's just a thing of this being mid-September but people have lost their minds about it.

Virtanen is now something of a folk hero to Canucks fans, and will 100 percent make the team out of camp now specifically because he hit the league's new golden boy, nice and clean.

Wow, he must be good if he hit the guy! This is the same logic the Canucks are going to use when they sign the pane of glass on which McDavid broke his hand in a fight last season. And the guy he fought. I don't remember who that was but they're gonna sign him too.

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, the hit led to hysterical calls from the local media for the team to basically trade for everyone who broke double-digits in fights last season. And maybe Kaleta too, so people think if they look at McDavid the wrong way, you're gonna be scraping brain matter off the end boards the very next time he's on the ice. You gotta protect the assets, and all that.

Here's the thing: The Edmonton media has this bizarre obsession with how the team played when Wayne Gretzky was still in town — that being like 30 years ago, haha (get over it) — and all they remember is how Gretzky had guys on the ice with him specifically to sort out anyone who would dare do to him what Virtanen did to McDavid, “clean hit or not.” Has hockey changed in that time? Immeasurably. Does that matter to every Oiler fanboy in the local media who only remember the glory days and not the 25-plus years of being absolute garbage since then?

At some point it becomes incumbent on McDavid not to get knocked on his ass, is basically my point. The kid has vision for days, but he didn't see that hit coming? Come on, it's not like Virtanen is a tried-and-true, physically mature NHLer. Dude turned 19 a month ago. People are gonna try to hit him like that all season.

A thing that's funny is Oilers fans spent all last summer swearing that Johnny Gaudreau was going to get his lunch handed to him the first time he crossed the blue line against some 6-foot-5, 30-year-old defenseman with a mean streak. Gaudreau, of course, is a good enough skater and vision-haver that this was not in any way a problem for him. I don't remember him getting legally manhandled too often, do you? And McDavid is a better skater and ice-seer than Gaudreau, by a pretty wide margin. So I don't know. Maybe keep your head up and avoid the situations where you can get hit like that?

Then the Oilers don't have to play Luke Gazdic every night and they might actually be good at some point in the near future.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 31:  Reilly Smith #18 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers during the first period at TD Garden on March 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 31: Reilly Smith #18 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers during the first period at TD Garden on March 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

7. Discord in the Bruins' room

Dougie Hamilton and Reilly Smith didn't want to win bad enough so they had to go!

Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-lineup guys who weren't very good but were locked into lucrative deals because they happened to be hanging around the bottom of the lineup when David Krejci, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, and so on won the team a Stanley Cup. I'd be mad too if I were sitting there watching these guys be a lot better than me and threatening to take my spot in the lineup. Especially if they were young and weren't around for the Cup and therefore didn't know What It Takes To Win.

At least, that's what I'd tell pom-pom-waving reporters on background so they could write months-after-the-fact hatchet jobs yearning for the days of Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk. Because then it looks like the Bruins solved problems this summer instead of making the team actively worse. Haha oh well.

Spin spin spin. Spin every trade of a great young player out of Boston because they weren't Bruins enough. Know who is? Dennis Seidenberg. Boy oh boy, and this team wonders why it missed the playoffs last year.

6. Team India

It makes sense for the Brampton Beast, an ECHL team in a market with a lot of people of Indian descent, to host the Indian national team, but this is going to be a bloodbath, right? Say what you want about the quality of play in the ECHL, but these are guys who played major junior and college hockey at what you'd have to think was something of a decently high level, and if they went over to, say, the lower-level Euro leagues (like the EIHL) they would be good players at the very least.

Meanwhile, India does not appear in the top 50 of the IIHF's world rankings. They're not even as high as Mongolia, which has 155 registered players. North Korea is ranked 42nd.

Let's put it this way: Spain is 31st, 19 spots ahead of Mongolia, and has two players playing outside their domestic league; one had three points in 12 games in the OJHL (junior A) three years ago, and the other had seven points in 20 playing club hockey at Robert Morris last season.

The Indian national team is getting out of Brampton with a goal deficit of more than minus-8.

5. The (Michael?) Ryder Cup... oooo they should call it that

Speaking of brutal beatings in international hockey, North America versus the world in a midseason tournament, you say? Put me down for “North America” in the breeziest walk you've ever seen.

4. Low-ball offers

So the Islanders haven't signed Brock Nelson yet. (UPDATE: They have!Time is running out, we're told.

Reason why? The Islanders probably, as they do with a lot of RFAs, dropped a take-it-or-leave it offer and are basically using the threat of not being paid at all as their leverage. Nelson doesn't have arbitration rights so he can go screw if he doesn't like this deal. “Have fun flying in planes with chicken coops and no heating across the KHL if you don't like it, and you might even get the money you contracted for,” is the message here.

On the one hand you have to say that's a smart bit of business from Garth Snow, who understandably wants to keep the team's cap obligations minimized. But on the other, even if you don't think Brock Nelson is lining up to be a perennial 20-goal scorer — and given that he's almost 24, that might not be a bad bet — you'd rather have him, even at a slightly inflated price point, than not.

Probably. We don't know what the agent's “comparables” look like. If he's being compared to guys who put up 40 points every season for years, then maybe you don't like that straight-line drawing if you're the Islanders. But still, trying to force the kid to miss a year doesn't seem smart from one of the smarter GMs in the league.

3. The U-23 team at the World Cup of Hockey

I've never wanted a team to win so badly. I love this team already. All its prospective members are beautiful in every way.

2. Concussion looker-outers

Love the idea of the league having medical professionals looking for signs of concussions in players. That's really going to be helpful in protecting their long-term safety as long as they're independent, they know what they're doing, and they have the authority to actually step in and say something.

What's that? None of those things are the case? Team are going to use spotters on their payroll and therefore have a vested interest in doing whatever their bosses in hockey ops say, you say? And they don't have to be doctors, let alone have any kind of speciality in head trauma, you say? And they don't have any actual authority to pull players they suspect may be concussed from games to actually check on that, you say?

Well that seems...................

........

......

..... bad.

1. Hope, may it ever spring eternal

R.J. Umberger says he is ready to put his worst-season-ever behind him. He could have said that after each of the last three seasons, at the very least, and yet here we are, saying it all again.

And he only costs $4.6 million against the cap each of the next two years? The Flyers are good!

(Not ranked this week: Letting Patrick Kane come to camp. Maybe???

Regardless of whether this happens, the fact that it's even being entertained as a possibility is damning of how willing Chicago is to overlook the possible transgressions of a guy who may be hit with a rape charge in the very near future. The league and team are handling this really, really well. Great job everyone.

And hey while we're on the subject, isn't Bettman's “hockey players are good except when their not” schtick getting a little tired given everything that's happened this summer and even beyond that? The answer is yes, by the way. And can we also acknowledge that the idea of “Hockey players are good guys whereas that is not true of other leagues”  seems more than a little racially worrisome?

Football Players and Basketball Players Do The Bad Stuff doesn't seem that far off from Black Athletes Do The Bad Stuff, which doesn't seem that far off from Black Guys Do The Bad Stuff. And in this argument hockey, being predominantly white, is predominantly good.

What's that old hockey saying about a few bad apples? Oh yeah, right: “You gotta support your teammates.”)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)

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