Puck Daddy Power Rankings: World Juniors, Peter DeBoer and Ryan O'Reilly

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: World Juniors, Peter DeBoer and Ryan O'Reilly

6. Trading Ryan O'Reilly

Remember that whole thing about Taylor Hall and if you trade a good young player you probably end up losing the trade so why would you trade one of your good young players unless you absolutely have to?

The Avalanche absolutely have to trade Ryan O'Reilly.

The situation for the Avalanche has long been a tricky one, pretty much entirely because they jerked him around so badly that he clearly didn't want to play there any more. Case in point: If someone would rather play for the Calgary Flames under Jay Feaster, you have an issue on your hands. So O'Reilly's two-year, $12 million deal that he signed with the Flames, but which was matched by Colorado, comes to and end in Summer 2016.

And no, he hasn't been that good this year, which is tanking his trade value. He hasn't been terrible but he also hasn't been one of the better young centers in this league. The Avs are reportedly now looking for a decent defenseman in exchange for him, and any team who's not in playoff contention — like, say, the Calgary Flames — might want to consider kicking the tires on getting a deal done for him. The possession numbers alone are always going to look bad under Patrick Roy, and he is still good in comparison with the rest of his club because it's still among the worst in the league. But a competent coach can probably figure out both that and the scoring issues pretty quickly. You'd think that the latter follows the former overall.

A player of this caliber doesn't hit the trade market all that often, and if Colorado hadn't created this toxic situation, it still wouldn't be happening. But they did, albeit under old leadership, and now the guy wants out.

There really ought to be a line around the block for this kid. And it's unfortunate for the Avs that it's come to this. But it has, and they've made their own bed. Lying in it can't be too comfortable at this point.

(Ed. Note: A previous version of the story indicated O'Reilly was a UFA next summer.)

5. Peter DeBoer

Well it's never nice to see someone get fired, and the situation in New Jersey was always going to become an untenable one.

The Devils, to put it nicely, haven't been good this year, but it's the first year under DeBoer in which that's been the case in terms of anything but the standings. Three straight years without the playoffs gets you fired, no question about it, but the fact that Lou Lamoriello didn't follow him out the door is madness.

DeBoer was providing diminishing returns, but boy, so was Lamoriello. Scott Gomez is the Devils' No. 1 center this year. This team sucks. And they're somehow 15th in cap obligations in the league.

Here's a list of overpaid Devils:

• Travis Zajac ($5.75 million through 2021, somehow!)

• 8,000-year-old Patrik Elias ($5.5 million this season and next)

• Mike Cammalleri ($5 million through 2019)

• Ryane Clowe's concussions ($4.85 million through 2018)

• Adam Henrique's Stanley Cup run ($4 million through 2019)

• The concept of Tuomo Ruutu but not what he actually does on the ice ($3.8 million this year and next)

• The Bruins' idea of Michael Ryder circa 2007 ($3.5 million)

• Dainius Zubrus on a 35-plus deal ($3.1 million)

• Bryce Salvador's career legacy ($3.167 million)

• Marek Zidlicky for some reason ($3 million)

• Ilya Kovalchuk's cap recapture ($250,000 until 2025)

That's a lot of money being spent on total garbage, and it's not like Lou's balancing that out with, like, good drafting or anything.

But Lamoriello gets to keep making decisions because he put together one of the great teams of all time like two decades ago. Which doesn't make a lot of sense to me because two decades ago Wayne Gretzky was the best player alive and you wouldn't want him on your first power play unit here at the end of 2014. Maybe that's just me.

And oh, those Lamoriello decisions! “If one coach can't make this team good, how about three?” Three coaches! One of whom has literally no experience as an NHL head coach, and another who was an horrific failure in Washington and whose guts every one of his players seems to have hated. Plus an old guy who saw the game blow by him when the salary cap was introduced? What could go wrong? Oh right: Everything.

Everything could go wrong. And really, it already has.

4. The Jets' injury list

It's kind of sad, isn't it, that the Jets are finally making good things happen in Winnipeg under a fairly strong system put into place by Paul Maurice (never thought I'd say that), strong play from most of the roster, and the crazy coincidence of the team winning a lot when Ondrej Pavelec starts getting his TOI reduced.

Well, I mean, that's not the sad part. The sad part is that whatever was afflicting the Columbus Blue Jackets in the early part of this season — somehow, it wasn't the mumps? — seems to have migrated north.

Toby Enstrom's out indefinitely and has been for a month. Jacob Trouba's on the shelf. Mark Stuart's out as long as two months. Evander Kane won't be back until February. Zach Bogosian could be back in the next week or two.

It hasn't mattered too much, because Michael Hutchinson is finally getting more starts (seven appearances in December) and has been playing some excellent hockey, and the Jets keep on winning. They're fourth in their nails-tough division, but looking like a very solid playoff team nonetheless. And as long as Pavelec (.889 in five appearances in December) can be kept off the ice — expensive backup though he may be — the chances that this team will keep racking up points seem pretty good.

Getting a few defensemen back, though, would probably be pretty helpful.

3. Waiving Dany Heatley

I think we all saw this one coming.

The Ducks took a flyer on Dany Heatley, signing him for $1 million after he washed out of Minnesota. It was worth a shot, because if you can get 12 goals and 30 points out of a third-line guy for a million bucks that's probably a pretty good deal.

But Heatley's been injured basically all year, missing nine games with a groin injury in October and another groin issue causing him to miss 15 from mid-November to mid-December. And thus in a total of eight games between Anaheim (six) and AHL Norfolk (two) he has zero points and just 12 shots on goal.

So yeah, you gotta waive him. And it's no surprise that he cleared.

The thing is power forwards of Heatley's type don't really tend to age all that well and Heatley in particular has been on the downswing for a while. He's going to be 34 in mid-January, but he hit a wall right around his 30th birthday. Before that he was a regular top scorer, averaging 43.8 goals per season from 2005-06 to 2009-10, breaking 50 twice and never sinking to less than 39. But right after that he went from 26 to to 24 to 11 (in 36 games) to 12 to none, and that'll just about wrap 'er up.

Tough bounce for the f'n All-Star but hockey has made him rich and he was one of the better players in the league for a little while there. And if the NHL hadn't robbed him of a season in his prime, he'd probably have a lot more than 791 points in 869 games. He'd be an easy 400-goal guy.

2. The rules

Two very weird things happened this week that got everyone wondering what, exactly, NHL officials were thinking.

The more obvious one, the one that grabbed a few headlines and got a broadcaster's professionalism laughed at by a former ref, was Jack Edwards' freakout over a goal that came after 90 seconds of open play following the puck hitting the net. No surprise that this is a rule he didn't know because I think it's safe to say no one outside league offices knew it, but boy did that ever make for inadvertently entertaining television.

“THE SYSTEM IS CORRUPT!” he basically screamed, before someone let him know that he just didn't understand how it worked. Hilarious.

Even more hilarious? This tweet from Nov. 13:

 

Re: more video review & coaches' challenges? Against both. Slows the game down WAY too much. Humans make mistakes. We need to live with 'em.

— Jack Edwards (@RealJackEdwards) November 13, 2014

 

“Humans make mistakes” is right, Jack.

The other rule that I think more people probably knew about came in the Wild/Jets game a few nights ago: Ryan Carter played the puck as he was stepping out of the penalty box and was consequently sent right back in for interference. That's because he wasn't all-the-way out of the box, meaning that any attempt he makes to play the puck or impede an opponent is technically interference.

People were baffled, and it was a split-second decision by the refs to even spot it.

NHL officials get a ton of crap when they get it wrong and, apparently, when they get it right as well.

1. World Junior

I don't think I can adequately explain to you how wonderful I find World Junior to be. It is the best. Everything about it.

(Not ranked this week: Winter Classic “entertainment.”

Who makes the decisions on which musical performances get NHL gigs? A focus group of the dumbest, least hip people on earth?

The league announced the performers for the Winter Classic, and boy do they ever stink.

Billy Idol for the pre-game — “It's a nice day for a... white.... WINTER CLASSIC! Hello Washington!” Remember when Billy Idol was a punchline for out-of-touch '80s nostalgia in that movie the Wedding Singer? That came out 16 years ago!

Then there's Gavin DeGraw for the first intermission and good news folks he's a HOCKEY FAN!!!!!!!! Says so right in the damn press release. The league's obsession with getting the D-est of D-list celebrities because they have a passing interest in the sport is hilariously cloying as always, and digging up a guy who hasn't had a top-10 record since 2008 sounds just about right for this league.

And in the second intermission, hoo buddy it's Lee Greenwood to sing the only Lee Greenwood song anyone's ever heard, “God Bless the USA.” And everything you need to know about that steaming piece of fraudulent pro-America schmaltz is that this is the last line of Greenwood's credentials listed by the NHL: “It also was No. 1 on the pop charts after Sept. 11.” That's actually bad.

But not worse than how the NHL gets bands. Should have booked Bad Brains.)

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