NHL Week in Review (March 18-24)

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There isn’t much time left in the NHL season and most of the big questions are being solved as the days go on with more teams solidifying their spots in the playoffs.

As the season comes to a close and more teams begin preparing for the second season there are also a number of teams looking to something entirely different.

The teams that struggled throughout the year are now sitting at the bottom of the league and with the bottom of the league comes a focus on the off-season.

They are looking to their free agents to try to see who they can keep or who they want to keep.

These teams are also looking for the other free agents that will be out there when free agency begins.

More than any of that though is the focus on the upcoming draft that can make a massive change in a franchise.

More than almost any other league a great draft pick can truly change everything for a team like it did to the Pittsburgh Penguins or Toronto Maple Leafs.

Both of those teams were able to get some very good players in the draft and for the Penguins it has resulted in two Stanley Cups while the Leafs continue to be a consistent playoff team.

These players seem to be out there in almost every draft but they are not available to every team.

The best teams in the league will never get a shot at taking those players that can change everything for them in a few short years.

For the worst teams, they only get those chances every now and then and that reality has led to a phenomenon in any of the major leagues.

With the way that the draft is for every league, the worst teams get the chance at the best talent in the amateur ranks.

It has to be this way as the draft helps bad teams get better by providing them with the chance to get better talent.

It has also led to an issue with the issue of teams reportedly mailing it in to get the best of those players.

Since the draft was established tanking has been in the conversation with many seeing teams perform terribly and the franchise doing little to help.

There obviously is no proven issues with tanking as nobody has technically been proven to be doing it in any of the major leagues.

It doesn’t stop the fans and analysts from claiming it though as they see teams selling off their best talent in what seems like an effort to be the worst team in the league.

More often than not this theory comes up when there is a truly franchise-changing talent ready to be drafted.

Being the worst team gives that team a chance to take that player and potentially shift their fortunes for the future.hockey-sidebar

It is a tempting thing for teams who are always looking to be the best and are trying to sell tickets with talented teams.

They could blow it for one season and find themselves in the playoffs the next season by making a few moves to take the talent away.

It is a tough thing to do though because there are few people in sports that actually like to lose.

Most of the people in professional sport are in that industry because they are good at winning.

Losing ensures people are finding new jobs sooner rather than later and so it can be a risky strategy.

It is even riskier with the NHL’s draft lottery as the worst team isn’t necessarily guaranteed to get that top pick.

Anyone can get that pick and although the last place team has a much better chance there have been times where better teams have been able to grab the top player.

This year the tanking theory is going to continue to float around as the draft provides one of the rarest rewards, a top-flight defenceman.

Rasmus Dahlin seems like a sure thing for the draft’s top pick as the young Swedish defenceman looks like he can start right away and make an impact.

The team with the first pick will get their chance to take him and so there will always be that theory about teams tanking to get to that pick.

Teams in the running are not considered to ever be some of the best though as the Arizona Coyotes have struggled for years while Buffalo and Vancouver have not had the best few years.

These teams might have tanked but most likely were just not good enough to compete and are now hoping that they can compete with a new star.

 

Overtime

Nashville’s New Weapon

The Nashville Predators have been one of the best teams all year rising to the top and hoping to make another deep run. They may get some help in that run as the KHL season winds down and prospects are beginning to free up. For the Predators that means that one of their top prospects is now eligible to sign in the NHL as Eeli Tolvanen has finished his KHL season and can now sign. When he signs and what future they have in mind for him is yet to be determined.

Something Has Changed

Fans and analysts around the league have noticed a troubling trend this year in the goalie interference rule. The inconsistency in the calls for this penalty has caused a demand for change in the league and how it is called. The NHL showed that they are listening after making a change to the way that these calls are reviewed. Starting immediately the NHL would begin ruling goalie interference challenges through Toronto rather than allowing the referees on the ice to make the decisions.

Another Medal

The Americans did not have the greatest Winter Olympics and that included on the ice with the men missing a medal altogether. The women did finish the job though as they took their first gold medal since 1998 in beating their long-time rivals in the Canadians. The Americans added to their total in the Paralympics as well winning the Sledge hockey gold this week. It was their third straight medal and it was a thriller against the Canadians.

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