Sens Close in on Final Roster, Auston Matthews Charged, Justin Faulk Traded

It’s the Thursday edition of Links, News, and Notes

Partway through last night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, it hit me: I’d waited all summer for NHL hockey to come back, and I’m already tired of the pre-season. I’ve reached the end of my rope with the rosters littered with AHL and ECHL-level players. Gimme the real stuff — no matter how painful that might be this season as an Ottawa Senators fan.

  • Speaking of the regular season, DJ Smith said he would be making the final cuts before Saturday’s pre-season finale so that the squad will have a chance to play a full game together. The choice of which youngsters are going to crack the opening night roster has been perhaps the most intriguing subplot so far, but yet another one has been felled by injury: Rudolfs Balcers was injured in the second period of the Wednesday night game against the Canucks and did not return. He joins Vitaly Abramov on the shelf — this will probably make Smith’s job a bit easier in the short run but you have to feel for Balcers and Abramov who seemed to be making strong cases for themselves.
  • As you may have possibly heard, Auston Matthews has been charged with disorderly conduct stemming from an incident in Arizona in late May. He is accused of being heavily intoxicated, attempting to enter a security guard’s car, then dropping his pants and grabbing his ass after she confronted him and his friends. There’s been a lot of ink spilled on the topic, but this piece from Hemal Jhaveri over at USA Today is worth a read. When women say that groups of drunk men can be threatening, and not just “funny”, we should listen.
  • After a lot of rumblings and deals that seemingly fell apart at the last minute, Justin Faulk was finally traded by the Carolina Hurricanes. On the surface this feels like a win-win for both teams: the Hurricanes have quite possibly the best defense corps in the league even after dealing Faulk, and the St. Louis Blues are very deep up front; giving up a quality forward prospect in Dominik Bokk is a lot more palatable given the rest of their group. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to find much value in the massive seven year extension that the Blues  immediately gave Faulk. He’s a power play quarterback, but his value at 5v5 isn’t that great and the deal will go all the way through his age 35 season. St. Louis has a Stanley Cup to defend and this will probably help them do that. In a couple years, though, look out!
  • Lastly, one of our favourite prospect gurus recently re-drafted the 2018 class. Corey Pronman had some awfully nice things to say about Brady Tkachuk, taking him 4th and pegging him as an “Elite NHL Propsect”. A snippet from the piece:/

Then: Tkachuk was very good as a freshman at Boston University and had a great world juniors. He showed elite physicality and sense, but I had minor questions about if his skill and speed were dynamic enough to be a top-5 pick.

Now: Tkachuk was excellent as a rookie in the NHL, as a driver who was very tough to deal with in the tough areas of the ice, even as a teenager. His skill and speed still aren’t what I would call elite but they’re good, and he’s so smart and competitive that he projects as a top of the lineup player.

The whole thing is very much worth a read, as it’s all too rare to see draft experts look back on their past work to assess their hits and misses.

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