If NHL teams were stocks, here are my early buy/sell tips for the 2016-17 season. Many thanks to GeneralFanager.com for the roster/salary info.
BUY: Nashville Predators
The Preds shocked the hockey world last January when they traded defenceman Seth Jones to Columbus for center Ryan Johansen. It appears that move was just a warm-up for the even-bigger blockbuster swap of captain Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. Nashville GM David Poile just might have assumed the title from Lou Lamoriello as wiliest executive in the League, as he has stealthily assembled a young core of Filip Forsberg (21), Johansen (23), James Neal (28), Subban (27) and Roman Josi (26) that is one of the best, if not THE best, in terms of ability/upside. If Pekka Rinne can bounce back from his “off” 2015-16 campaign and return to his career save percentage numbers, then this team could very well be playing into June next year.
SELL: LA Kings
The Kings won 2 Stanley Cups on a formula of stingy defense and a large, bruising forward group that wore down opposing defence corps. While this group still has an elite core in Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick, the cracks that inevitably appear in Cup-calibre teams are starting to get bigger. Slava Voynov is gone forever to Russia. Marion Gaborik, Jeff Carter, and ex-captain Dustin Brown are all on the back nine of their careers. And in a league that continues to trend younger and faster, the older and slower Kings off-season moves to date are free agents Teddy Purcell and Tom Gilbert.
WATCH: Florida Panthers
Last season’s surprise Metropolitan Division champions have combined big long-term projection bets on a group of players with a relatively small sample size of performance (Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Vincent Trochek, Reilly Smith and Aaron Ekblad) with free agency signings of players with a history of performance consistency risk (Keith Yandle, Jason Demers and James Reimer). The Panthers are a ‘Watch’ for me because the team with the 2nd highest PDO in the NHL last season (1.016) has assumed large performance risk at high dollar amounts and term. Teams that have top 3rd spending and bottom 3rd revenues historically have difficulty sustaining that roster model, and this risk is further compounded by their reliance on the sustained level of excellence from 37 year old goaltender Roberto Luongo.