1. Mike Hoffman
As reported yesterday, Hoffman is saying all the right things about wanting to sign long-term with the Senators. And I'm not gonna lie, I'd love to see him sign long-term. I love watching Hoffman play. If he signs a seven-year contract, I'd probably buy his jersey. But here's the thing: he's also Ottawa's most tradeable asset. And Ottawa needs defensive help a lot more than offensive help. If Hoffman can bring in a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk, I think Ottawa should make that trade. If he can bring in Cam Fowler and a draft pick, I'd still be OK with that trade.
I had an interesting thought here about this past summer, when Ottawa was either going to trade Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner. I was hoping they'd trade Andy and keep Lehner, but expected Lehner was out the door. But then Lehner was traded (along with David Legwand!) for a first-round pick and I was impressed. I'm hoping that's what happens with Hoffman. If he's signed long-term, I'll be happy. If he's traded for a great defenceman, I'll be sad to see him go but happy about the return. I don't know which I'd rather have, so I'm happy I'm not a member of management who has to make the final decision.
2. Hoffman on the powerplay
Hoffman's back to PP2, but it doesn't bother me too much. The reason? You get some combination of Mika Zibanejad, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone, and Milan Michalek with Erik Karlsson and I'm pretty happy. Those are all players with offensive skill who deserve to be out on the powerplay. You could argue Michalek, but he's got good hands and he's a pretty good net-front presence. I was more concerned about the Sens subbing out Hoffman for Zack Smith on the top line, who is a good fourth-line player but in no way deserves PP time.
Of course, Smith is still on the second PP with Hoffman, which bothers me. For a team that has Cody Ceci, Patrick Wiercioch, and Chris Wideman on defence, I think the Sens could afford to play two d-men on their second powerplay unit. Honestly, I think it would lead to a much better umbrella on the second PP. But I'll take the small victories.
3. Karlsson not for Norris
Puck Daddy's halfway awards came out yesterday, and I'm disappointed to say that one of their writers didn't have Karlsson in his top three for the Norris. In a season in which Karlsson is fourth in the NHL in points, first in the NHL in time on ice, and is absolutely carrying his team in possession metrics, I don't see how anyone could argue he isn't a top-three defender in the league. It's 2016. He is an other-worldly talent. Another writer put him third, citing he was included only because it "is dictated by the CBA". I guess someone didn't notice that there are a lot of hockey writers who rail against him every single year when trophy voting comes out. It frustrates me that there are professional hockey writers in 2016 who refuse to recognize that Karlsson is one of the league's top defenceman. But hey if you want to put Shea Weber ahead of Karlsson when he's probably not even the best defenceman on his own team anymore, you do you.
4. Ottawa's media
Earlier this week I put out an interview I'd done with Bruce Garrioch. I was very happy with how willing he was to answer questions, and I'm hoping to get some other interviews as good. One thing I noticed though is that it's pretty hard to find diverse media people in Ottawa. Most people who cover sports in this city seem to be older white men. I think part of that has to do with the fact that many media types in this city have been covering the team for almost as long as the team has existed. There's not a lot of turnover in the "sports journalist" market. I don't think places should hire women for the sake of having women, but I think that there's a reasonable argument to be made that if there are no women hired at all it's probably because there's a bias toward men, rather than there are no women capable of doing the job. Ian Mendes on TSN's Advanced Chats with Michaela Schreiter and Shaila (aka @Fffeisty) pointed out that one of the biggest weaknesses he saw at the station was a lack of a regular female voice.
There were a lot of comments on that Garrioch interview, but I didn't see any suggesting future interview possibilities. I'd be interested to hear some input from this community, both for potential interviewees and potential questions. And if you have any minorities in the hockey community who you'd like to hear from, I'd especially be interested in that.
5. Alex Ovechkin at 500 goals
I know it's almost a week since he scored the goal (against the Sens!), but the ceremony the Capitals gave him was last night so I don't think I'm too late. What a dyanmic goal-scorer. I don't think there's been a more exciting player in the league to watch over the last decade. Sidney Crosby may have been better for many of those seasons, but Crosby's game isn't nearly as exciting. I love watching Ovi celebrate every goal like it's a completely surprise. There's something electrifying about watching a guy love to score that much. And when you get a tribute video with Mike Gartner, Phil Esposito, and Wayne Gretzky saying how much you impress them, you know you've probably been pretty good.
There's been some debate recently as to if Ovi is the greatest goal-scorer ever when accounting for era. I know people can adjust for eras mathematically, but I don't know how much stock I put in that. It's one thing to use stats to compare players in the same era. It's another thing to compare them when player equipment, goalie equipment, player training, and coaching systems have all trained so much. Sure, Gretzky never faced a 6'10" behemoth wearing today's pads, but he also never played with a composite stick. It's so hard to compare, and I think we should appreciate them both without wasting time on debates where no one's opinion is going to change but no one's going to get hurt.
One thought though: if Ottawa doesn't make the playoffs, I'm cheering for the Caps. I'm sick and tired of hearing people hate on Ovechkin because he hasn't won. I figure the only way he puts the haters to rest is by winning it all. I know it won't satisfy all his critics -- same way I doubt a Cup would satisfy all of Karlsson's critics -- but I think it will help some people come around. He is one of the top-two players of the last decade and I hope we get many more years of him being incredible.