Since it wouldn’t be fair to rank each teams’ standings after only two days of games, in addition to there being some teams that haven’t even hit the ice, this week we will be taking a look at each teams’ most questionable final roster decision. This is based on the most notable, head scratching, or controversial decision that each team made heading into the Tuesday deadline and afterwards.
These teams are not ranked based off of their decisions, but rather off of their previous ranking in the TWC Power Rankings Week 1.
31. Colorado Avalanche
Roster Choice: Joe Colborne
After signing a two year $5M contract, which was viewed as a solid bargain buy at the time, Joe opened the 2016-2017 season with a hat trick of goals. In the following 61 games he only mustered 5 points (1G 4A), albeit on a terrible team. He found himself on waivers Wednesday and was unable to make the opening night lineup.
30. Vegas Golden Knights
Roster Choice: The whole team?
I applaud GMGM for his efforts in the expansion draft, as at the time it did seem as if retaining as many defencemen would be a smart idea. This has quickly backfired. While Shea Theodore and Vadim Shipachyov didn’t require waivers – they could be two of Vegas’ strongest players this season. The addition of Malcolm Subban now requires Calvin Pickard to go on waivers. As of this writing, VGK doesn’t have enough forwards to ice on opening night. That is sure to change, but this is turning into a mess quickly.
29. Vancouver Canucks
Roster Choice: Jake Virtanen
After making the jump to the NHL two seasons ago, Virtanen found himself in the dog house last season and was quickly sent down to Utica. Even in the AHL he continued to have sub par output numbers and some even started labeling him as a “bust”. For the time being, that status can be put on hold, as after a strong rookie tournament and camp, he finds himself back on an NHL roster. In all fairness though, the Canucks are not a very deep team.
28. New Jersey Devils
Roster Choice: Will Butcher
The Devils won the Butcher sweepstakes this summer and were able to sign the former Hobey Baker winner to an ELC. I was skeptical to see if he would make the opening night roster, even with NJ’s lack of defenceman depth. While currently slotted on the third pairing with John Moore, it will be fascinating to see how far up the depth chart this guy can go.
27. Detroit Red Wings
Roster Choice: Martin Frk
Andreas Athanasiou still goes unsigned and PA Parenteau suprisingly earned a contract after his PTO, but Martin Frk gets our pick here. After playing waiver tag with the Red Wings last season and uncertain as to where he would play this season, he made the opening night roster (and contributed 1G 1A no less). Fun fact: Martin Frk is the first NHL player to start a season that does not have a vowel in his last name.
26. Florida Panthers
Roster Choice: Owen Tippett
Florida needs goals and apparently the Cory Schneider look-a-like will help contribute them. After taking Tippett in the first year of this year’s draft, he has the opportunity to stick with the team for a full season. It’s your spot to lose, kid!
25. New York Islanders
Roster Choice: Matthew Barzal
I hate to sound like a broken record here, but yes it is amazing to see another rookie make the opening night roster. While Josh Ho-Sang made waves last season, I expect Barzal to do the same. We already mentioned this in last weeks TWC Power Rankings, but this could be a sleeper Calder pick – if he sticks with the team the whole season.
24. Arizona Coyotes
Roster Choice: The Rookie Duo
Since the majority of off season moves surrounded on obtaining veterans via trade, it was interesting to see which rookies would crack the Coyotes lineup. Apparently most of them. The fans in the desert will be treated to the talents of Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller for this season, and years to come.
23. Buffalo Sabres
Roster Choice: Jack Eichel’s Contract
There was a lot of ire from Sabres fans over last weeks rankings and I truly do not need to continue the trend, but 10 years at $80M is going to reshape everyone’s lineup come the next few years. I love Eichel and being a franchise number one center gets you paid, but for a guy who hasn’t played a full season it inspires some hesitation in me. I’m not saying I hate his contract at all, I truly hope that this ends up being a “bargain” in the future. This will allow the team to build around him easier than say the Oilers, but this contract is going to impact the RFA market going forward either for better or for worse (I see you Toronto).
22. Philadelphia Flyers
Roster Choice: Matt Read
Yes the Flyers have five rookies in their starting lineup, but this one was more confusing to see. Matt Read, at a $3.625M cap hit, was assigned to the minors to make way for the youth in the lineup. While his cap hit provides some relief, it was surprising to see Read be the one that was sent down (Here’s looking at you Dale Weise)
21. Los Angeles Kings
Roster Choice: Younger and Faster
If I had a dollar for every time the Kings said “We want to get younger and faster” I could probably retire right now. That being said they held true to their word with young guns such as Alex Lafallo, Oscar Fantenberg, Jonny Brodzinski, and Kurtis MacDermid making the opening night roster.
20. Ottawa Senators
Roster Choice: Thomas Chabot
This is one of the few instances where the rookie star did not make the lineup. We here at TWC we were sure that Chabot would be starting on the back end on opening night. Yes he didn’t require waivers, but to see him sent down a day before the opening night rosters were set was disappointing to say the least. Of course Senators fans, Karlsson looks like he will be back sooner than later so no need to fret for too long.
19. San Jose Sharks
Roster Choice: Mikkel Boedker
Lets be clear here, this choice doesn’t mean that he was ever doubted to make the lineup, it simple comes down to where in the lineup. Since the biggest shakeup in the offseason was losing Patrick Marleau to free agency, there needed to be a replacement of sort for him in the lineup. Through training camp and the first game of the season, Boedker seems to be that guy. Signed to a lucrative contract two summers ago, the Sharks are putting him in a position to succeed. Does he take his chance and make a big contribution or will he find himself back in the dog house?
18. Boston Bruins
Roster Choice: Malcolm Subban
I think it was difficult for a goaltender to be drafted in the first round, especially coming from a well known hockey lineage. Both games that Subban started he was pulled in and was never really given the chance to play full time with the Bruins. With solid AHL numbers, and now a prime opportunity behind MA Fleury in Vegas, he should be able to finally stick. That being said, tough to see your team lose a former first rounder for literally nothing, especially after losing Colin Miller the same exact way.
17. St. Louis Blues
Roster Choice: The Replacements – Part 1
Lots of names in this lineup that won’t be there come December. While the team is without a majority of their starters, there is lots of opportunity for some younger depth players to make a statement. While their demotion is inevitable, making the decision harder for Doug Armstrong is icing on the cake.
16. Winnipeg Jets
Roster Choice: uhm….no one?
Looking at the opening night roster for the Jets I paused and realized that outside of Dmitry Kulikov and Steve Mason, not much has changed since the end of last season. The only name to note is Tucker Poolman, a 2013 5th rounder, who should eventually make his debut this season (hopefully, maybe?). With a developing forward group, not much change is expected, but sorry Jets fans, nothing really to debate here (besides Wednesday’s game).
15. Carolina Hurricanes
Roster Choice: Assigning Co-Captains
Players and positions aside, the most confusing aspect of the Hurricanes lineup would have the be the Co-Captains of Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk. It’s admirable to show some love to the two main leaders on the team, but isn’t that what Alternate Captains are for? Both are excellent choices, but to switch between who wears the “C” during home and away games is a bit weird. Lots of Canes fans wanted Faulk as the sole captain, and hopefully this won’t have an effect on either’s on ice production.
14. Montreal Canadiens
Roster Choice: Victor Mete
Unexpected would be the best word to describe Mete’s rise to the NHL this year. If you had him slotted in with Shea Weber before training camp, you’re obviously lying. The rookie has impressed and with a potential offensive upside that the Habs so desperately miss, Mete could be one of the most surprising stories of the season.
13. New York Rangers
Roster Choice: Filip Chytil
While he should really only last 9 games, seeing 18 year old Chytil make the opening night roster is a nice story. Picked in the first round of this years draft, there are no expectations for him at this point and these first few games could come as a welcomed surprise for the team. Plus you never know what happens, he’s got a chance to stick if he can exceed expectations.
12. Minnesota Wild
Roster Choice: Joel Eriksson Ek
What a fantastic name. The young Swedish forward made his way onto the opening night roster. While having an audition last season, a full campaign with Eriksson Ek on the roster could lead to a surprise breakout campaign. The wild have some talent and he will only add to that pool.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs
Roster Choice: Andreas Borgman
The only real question the leafs had this season was who was going to be the guy on the blue line to make the team. While Martin Marincin seemed like an obvious choice, he is headed to the minors and 22 year old Borgman has made his way onto the team. While the Leafs still need another top four defenceman, it is good to see Borgman rewarded for a strong training camp.
10. Washington Capitals
Roster Choice: Alex Chiasson
I’m sure you Caps fans are confused why I didn’t select one of your prized new rookies, but hear me out. While Chiasson isn’t a star, he should be able to contribute with an absolute bargain of a contract this season. Able to play on the PK and contribute offensively, he could end up surprising the team. While you should temper your expectations, for a guy who had 24 points last year, this could be one of the depth veteran players that Washington desperately needs.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
Roster Choice: Josh Anderson
The holdout no longer. The RFA forward waited until the 11th hour to sign his three year deal with the team and is on the opening night roster. Will his missed training camp affect his performance or will a younger player, like Sonny Milano, jump him in the lineup if his numbers go down?
8. Calgary Flames
Roster Choice: Mark Jankowski
If the feature image didn’t spoil it for you already, you knew this was coming. The decision to sign Tanner Glass and demote Jankowski to the minors is one that upsets a lot of people – including myself. While Glass was signed for obvious grit, no forward had a better training camp than Jankowski. If the whole mantra of training camp is “earn a spot”, you’ve gotta be wondering how this happened. Yes he was waiver exempt, but look at the other teams that made room for their rookies. Jankowski better be back in the league soon.
7. Chicago Blackhawks
Roster Choice: The Injured Reserve
The Hawks did some serious wheeling and dealing before the roster deadline, which should warrant Stan Bowman some sort of participation medal. With Marian Hossa, Michal Rozsival, and Jordin Tootoo going on IR, and Alex DeBrincat and Gustav Forsling being assigned and then recalled the next day, it was a very confusing few days for the Hawks and us fans.
6. Anaheim Ducks
Roster Choice: The Replacements – Part 2 – Back With a Vengeance
Anaheim was struck by the injury bug early and hard. While some of the replacements’ names may appear intriguing, they are simply seat fillers waiting for the real stars to return. The second their vets hit the ice, the replacements will be on a bus so fast to San Diego they haven’t even been told to unpack.
5. Nashville Predators
Roster Choice: Samuel Girard
Cut off one head, three more will appear. Not exactly the case for hockey, but when one Nashville defenceman goes down, another one appears almost immediately. Being one of the best blueline prospects in the Predators’ system, Girard will get a look while they wait for Ryan Ellis to return. Looking down the road, this defense corps just keeps looking better and better.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning
Roster Choice: Mikhail Sergachev
While not unexpected, it is amazing to see Sergachev in the opening lineup for the Bolts. He looked good in his Montreal preview last season, and he’s looked even better during the preseason in Tampa. I don’t expect him to be sent down anytime soon.
3. Edmonton Oilers
Roster Choice: Kailer Yamamoto over Jesse Puljujarvi
Last season Jesse Puljujarvi made the opening night lineup, and even scored in his debut, but was quickly assigned to the minors. He looked fantastic in the preseason, as did Yamamoto, but to see him sent down in favor of Yamamoto was surprising. Is Yamamoto really more NHL ready than Puljujarvi? Time will tell to see how long Kailer stays with the team, but his opening night TOI doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year.
2. Dallas Stars
Roster Choice: Patrick Nemeth
This lineup was pretty much set before the season started, so no real surprises here. With the acquisition of Marc Methot, someone had to go, and while losing Nemeth to waivers may not be the most upsetting for Stars fans – it’s the only real “shocking” roster move, other than the boatload of FA signings this summer.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
Roster Choice: Antti Niemi
On paper this seems like a smart move, former Stanley Cup winning goaltender coming in to solidify the backup position, but Antti Niemi just isn’t a good goalie anymore. While Murray needs a veteran backup to support him, Niemi just has not produced the past few seasons. Spoiler Alert: his first start did not go so well. With Tristan Jarry waiting in the wings, you wonder how long Niemi will last as the backup.
What are your thoughts? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below.