It’s the Christmas Eve version of Five Thoughts!
The Rest of the Way
With dozens of games getting postponed within the last week and the NHL completely shutting down for a few days due to COVID outbreaks, things are looking bleak for the league right now. It’s frustrating having to still talk about COVID, but the omicron variant has other plans. The reality is that the league will have to navigate the rest of the season extremely carefully if they want to get a full 82-game season in.
Heck, maybe they even have to go into a semi-bubble for the playoffs in the worst-case scenario. Yes, most of these cases are mild or asymptomatic, but not all of them are, plus these players are also passing it on to their family members and the general public, so this isn’t something we can just ignore. I don’t have all of the answers for this and nobody does, but at the very least, the NHL needs to have a plethora of backup plans.
One silver lining for the NHL in regards to these postponed games is that they now have a few extra weeks to fit them in—the only problem is it’s at the expense of Olympic participation. Not sending NHL players to the Olympics was the only rational decision to make due to COVID concerns and games to make up, but it’s extremely unfortunate because it’s one of the few times we get to see the best players in the world represent their countries. The World Championships can be fun, but they don’t feature the best players, and only Europeans care about them. And the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 was something different, but it was hard to manufacture strong feelings towards it.
Maybe the NHL can make the World Cup a more regular tradition, which would somewhat make up for the lack of Olympic participation, but there’s something to be said for having all Canadian athletes compete at once. Even if the NHL goes to the 2026 Olympics in Milan, that’ll be 12 years between visits.
Bathtime: Steal of the League?
Before the season began, Drake Batherson signed a 6-year contract extension with a $4.975M AAV. In 23 games since then, Batherson has scored an incredible 28 points. That puts him on pace for 100 points in a full season and 94 in 77 games (since he missed 5 games). He’s tied for 9th with Auston Matthews in points per game (amongst players with 20+ GP) too. That kind of production for such a small amount of money easily puts him amongst the most team-friendly contracts in the league.
Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Nazem Kadri, Alex Ovechkin, Brad Marchand, Mikko Rantanen, Sebastian Aho, Gabriel Landeskog, and Auston Matthews make up the nine players ahead of Batherson in points per game. Here are their respective cap hits: $8.5M, $12.5M, $4.5M, $9.5M, $6.125M, $9.25M, $8.46M, $7M, $11.64M. The only player who even comes close is Kadri, who is having an uncharacteristically elite season.
Marchand is somewhat close at $6.125M, but that’s another incredibly team-friendly contract. If Batherson signed a one-year deal, he’d be well within his rights to be asking for at least $8M, but the Senators are lucky they have him locked up for the next 5.5 seasons.
Most Annoying Fanbases
There were some fascinating polls last week by the ever-polarizing @JFreshHockey, with this one getting the most traction:
It’s hilarious and predictable that the Toronto Maple Leafs “won” this in a landslide, with Ottawa’s next biggest rival finishing second. Two interesting results that pertain to the Ottawa Senators include a nice one first where they finished 4th amongst fans from other teams who like the Sens fanbase:
Lastly, Ottawa fans ranked first (or last?) in thinking both their prospects and their team is underrated/under-covered:
Here's one I was interested to see. Something that often annoys people is when fanbases claim their team or prospects don't get enough positive attention.— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) December 17, 2021
Interesting but not exactly unexpected results here. pic.twitter.com/Xu5CBWkP8U
That doesn’t surprise me at all, as Senators fans certainly have a chip on their shoulder, particularly with their prospects.
Lastly, we here at Silver Seven just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holidays! Whether you celebrate something this month or not, we hope that you’re able to safely spend some time with loved ones! It’s a second straight strange holiday season, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom to finish the year. In terms of on the ice, the Senators have looked horrendous at times in 2021 but have also shown lots of promise from their young core. I think 2022 can and will be better, so there is still hope moving forward.
And off the ice, this time of year is one of my favourites, as there are lots to be thankful for, and we hope the same goes for you. The readers are what keeps this site going, so we wish everyone the best this holiday season! Thanks as always for reading.