NHL Mailbag: How does Tom Wilson redeem himself?

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Another big news week.

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A real trade, a suspension reduction, teams still failing unexpectedly, others succeeding where no one thought they could. I ask you: Who could possibly blame an NHL fan for having questions after a week like that?


Let’s have a dialog:

Aaron asks: “What does a player with a spotty discipline record — e.g. Tom Wilson — have to do to redeem himself in your eyes?”

Well let’s be clear that Tom Wilson’s discipline record is a lot worse than “spotty,” but the answer here is “basically nothing.”

Take Matt Cooke, right? When he got that last big suspension, he seemed to finally get the message, then played I think three more years of NHL hockey without getting a call from DOPS that I can remember. But he was always Matt Cooke, The Guy Who Tries To Kill People.

Tom Wilson’s younger than Cooke was at that time, but based on the fact that he “accidentally” hip-checked Devan Dubynk in the head while scoring in his return from a FOURTEEN-GAME suspension, he’s still Tom Wilson, The Guy Who Tries To Kill People. And forever he shall remain.

I know he says he doesn’t want that reputation, commenting on it before that Wild game like he was some observer without any influence over any of his predatory, but unless you work for the Washington Post, you can’t say he hasn’t worked hard to earn it.


Daniella asks: “Which do you think has had more of an impact on the Islanders year-to-date record: Trotz as manager or finally getting good goaltending?

Neither. Their all-situations PDO is 103.2 and they’re three games above .500.

This team stinks but it’s gotten insanely lucky at both ends of the ice.

Mr. BKK asks: “When and where are they trading Doughty?”

They aren’t.

I guess the Kings rebuild is now fully underway given that they took on an expiring deal for a 26-year-old who’s having a super-unlucky season and is signed for three more years. I’m not sure Tanner Perason would have been the guy I used to kick off my rebuild but okay sure, clear your cap space.

The problem with trading Doughty or Kopitar — which the Kings would ideally do tomorrow — is that Doughty and Kopitar both can’t be moved. They have full no-moves this year and next, after which Kopitar’s becomes a 24-team no-trade list (25 if you count Seattle, whenever that gets finalized). Doughty’s stays no-move until 2023, after which he also has a 24-team no-trade list.

Plus, who’s trading to take on those contracts anyway? Even if you’re in full-on Go For It mode, it’s a lot of money to take on long-term for guys who are 31 and almost-29.

Greydon asks: “What is a reasonable contract for a 62-point-per-season winger?”

This is obviously a William Nylander question and if you’re saying “What should William Nylander be paid?” the thing is he’s a 62-point 22-year-old with great relative numbers and whose teammates are all collectively about to get paid a whole hell of a lot of money.

A good number for Nylander, I’d say, is in the range of $7-7.5 million. I would never ask a player to take less money for the good of the team and he seems disinclined to do so. Good for him.

But more broadly, what’s a regular old 62-point UFA winger who’s, say, 27 worth? Something more like $6-6.5 million. Nylander gets the extra money because he’s still improving and probably wouldn’t only be on a 62-point pace with this Leafs offense.

Hurley asks: “Is Brett Howden the center the Rangers have been chasing for years or is this just a high shooting percentage mirage?”

The back end of that question kinda exposes the fact that you know the answer to this. He shoots the puck a little more than once a game, and it just so happens 20 percent of his 20 shots have gone in so far.

He has 10 points in 17 games with rather poor underlying numbers, and while he’s only 20, it’s important to not think the franchise is saved because a former No. 27 pick in his DY+3 has 10 points a fifth of the way through his rookie season getting sheltered minutes.

Like, you know that. Don’t get ahead of yourself and certainly don’t hold your breath on this guy being a high-end No. 1.

Duxfan asks: “How is Carlyle still a thing?”

Bob Murray loves him. That’s really the only explanation.

He showed in Toronto that he couldn’t coach his way out of a wet paper bag and the Ducks are basically giving their opponents shooting practice every night.

And yet, you’ve never heard that he’s on the hot seat from any real insider types. He definitely should be, but he isn’t. Life’s easy when you’re a Good Hockey Man, I guess.

Brandon asks: “Rank the following teams:

Team A: best first line in hockey, worst fourth line, average defense.

Team B: worst first line in hockey, best fourth line, best defense.

Team C: average first line, average fourth line, average defense.”

Well Brandon first of all this isn’t a question but okay I’ll play your little game. I’m gonna assume they all have standard goaltending since you didn’t specify, and it’s not gonna be like “SURPRISE TEAM C HAS DOMINIK HASEK IN HIS PRIME!!!!”

That said, gimme Team A. A bad fourth line really doesn’t affect you as much as you might think, especially if you have an elite top unit; you can just play them like eight minutes a night and who cares. An average defense also usually looks pretty damn good behind a great first line.

On the other hand, the worst first line in hockey, which Team B has, is gonna get you killed most nights because stars do the scoring in this league. A great defense helps a lot, sure, but if you don’t have the offensive talent, you probably end up playing a lot of 2-1, coinflip-type games.

As for Team C, we’ve seen time and again that you need star players to win in this league. This group doesn’t have any.

Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

All stats via Corsica unless noted otherwise. Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.

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