With the game getting younger, a greater focus is being put on the restricted free agent market. In the NHL, players are bound to their original franchise until they turn 27 or accumulate seven years in the league. But in today’s game, players are reaching elite status and becoming core pieces of their franchises well before they can become unrestricted free agents.
The school year is winding down, and this is my final Games of the Week column of the semester. So instead of doing a normal Games of the Week article, I thought I would make my predictions for both the Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA Finals, which will be upon us in just a few weeks. The playoffs are well underway now, and there are eight teams remaining in each of the tournaments. Yet there can only be one winner, so I will do my best to pick out who will make it to the finals and who will be the champions for each sport.
Basketball vs. Hockey. NBA vs. NHL. With two seasons and sports that have basically the same exact schedule, the arguments are inevitable and both sides certainly hold water. As both the NBA and NHL playoffs are now in full swing, there is no better time to break out the age-old debate about which one is better, so that is exactly what we did this week.
The Capitals had an eerily similar season this year as they did last year, finishing with 104 points compared to last year’s 105 and winning the Metropolitan Division again. Alex Ovechkin somehow improved on last year’s season by winning the Maurice Richard Trophy again, but this time with even more goals (51 to 49). The Capitals are in a great position to repeat, as they have the best scorer in the league, and three other guys with over 70 points this season: Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson.
In July, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed superstar center, John Tavares, stealing him away from the New York Islanders, the team that drafted him first overall in 2009. Tavares flourished with the Islanders, establishing himself as one of the premier forwards in the league. With the move, he abandoned his NHL beginnings, looking towards his childhood home team.
Mathematically, the modern system does not add up either as some games become physically more valuable than others. On some nights, a total of three points are bestowed upon the competing teams in a game, rather than the usual two points. This skews teams’ records, as each game should yield the same total number of points.
The jubilation from the puck finding the back of the net. The satisfaction of witnessing dazzling moves and skating precision. Instead of this utter excitement, fans now often feel uncertainty when their team scores a goal because coaches can challenge for potential goaltender interference or offsides.
General managers are a lot like college students. They have all year/week/day to make trades, but they wait until the final minutes before the deadline to submit their transactions and improve their team. At the NHL trade deadline specifically, multiple moves came in within the final minutes before the clock hit 3 p.m. on Feb. 26.
Expanding to a non traditional hockey market, the NHL wanted to make sure their experiment would work. They did not want the Golden Knights to be in the league’s basement like most expansion teams of the past. After all, they were taking a major risk adding a team in a city that symbolizes gambling, something that sports have tried to avoid immensely throughout history.