As you may have heard, John Tavares makes his first return to the Nassau Coliseum as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs visiting Thursday night (at 7:00 pm Eastern Time, streaming on ESPN +). To help preview all angles in and out of the game against the New York Islanders, we have gathered our panel to answer five questions (click on each question to directly access the corresponding answers):
What should Island fans make Thursday night?
Greg Wyshynski, Senior Writer of the NHL: Boo the snake. Here are the facts, as we know them, about John Tavares from last season: he did not, at any time, indicate in advance of the trade deadline that he wished to be elsewhere than Long Island. ("I had no desire to play for another team," he told MSG Network.) Look at the result that the Ottawa Senators got for Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, and consider how Tavares is better than both. Then, when the free agents arrived, Tavares returned (and, in the jargon of the struggles, turned on his heels) and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, because Brendan Shanahan charmed him and that he did not go away. he was sleeping under the sheets of the Leafs when he was a child in Ontario. most ferociously, he thought Toronto would give him a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup. Again, unable to consider himself an Islander, he turned his back on his fans and sought a title with the Maple Leafs in about four months.
Thursday night, after returning from Tavares, I wish the catharsis to Islanders fans. They like a franchise that far too many feel unworthy of love, that too dismiss as inferior, and John Tavares emphasized this feeling. There will be a time when Tavares will be appreciated and celebrated again – and I say it as a Devil fan who made this trip when Zach Parise returned home to Minnesota as a free agent without restriction. The time of appreciation is not now. Now it's time to make fun of your throat, to point the stands with placards referring to treacherous behavior, to put Tavares stickers on urinal cakes, as they did before the Capitals fans for Sidney Crosby when the Penguins went to DC He made his choice. It does not matter, for one night, to express out loud that you believe that he did the wrong thing.
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Emily Kaplan, NHL National Reporter: John Tavares will be booed every time he touches the puck. I understood. I am more concerned about what happens during the tribute video (that created by the team, and not the viral message "Dear John / Pajama Boy" that circulated this week). I know that there is a faction of Islanders who understands the Tavares decision, if not respects it. Others may shame him all the game if they wish, but I hope that the 90 seconds after playing the video on the jumbotron – the elegant gesture of the organization to thank Tavares for his services – may be a reprieve or a recognition of feelings. can be complicated, and it does not matter. Appreciation and pure venomous rage can coexist.
Chris Peters, Editor-in-Chief and NHL prospect: It does not matter what they feel. I think John Tavares is one of the biggest franchise players in a franchise that has had a lot of incredible players. He has been the show for too long in his career, and I know that many people feel that he has been wasted by mismanagement or missed opportunities along the way. There are others who will never forgive him for leaving, and I can not blame them. The passion for his team will often outweigh any allegiance to an individual, especially when the end is as informal as it was. I hope that cheers mingle with the boo birds because Tavares had a very special career and that he did his best on the ice every night, no matter the position of the islands.
Dimitri Filipovic, Hockey Analytics Editor: I am usually on the side of the players, because I feel that they really do not owe anything to the team. This is a case, and when the shoe is on the other foot, the team does not hesitate to turn its back on a player who does not use it enough anymore. But it is the rational vision, emotionally detached, and fanaticism is anything but. Islanders fans at the game should do what they want to do. I am all for them having fun with snark and vitriol, because it is an excellent theater and an experience of increased viewing. It would have been a bit sad if the team had been as bad as most people thought it would be after he left. But given the success they've had without him, it's actually a great opportunity to come up with creative songs, hilarious posters and, of course, to hoot him loudly every time he touches the puck. .
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: Should? In the spirit of personal interest, Islanders fans should politely applaud for their former captain and Hart Trophy finalist in their first introduction, for their nine years of commitment and effort, as this qualified team of the Maple Leafs plays better when it is tricky. This has been especially true of the club lately. The heated vocal abuse sent by their dear teammate will only reinforce the incentive. With the prospect of finishing at his current position at the top of the Metro division, Barzal & Co. should strive to win as many games as possible, including a match against a tired team after a win. 6 to 2 on the Oilers less than 24 hours earlier. Why light a useless fire? But there is no chance that this will happen Thursday night, because the fans of Isles, like those who are devoted around the world, are more passionate than they are sensible. Expect a flood of misfires every time Tavares is so shaken.
Ben Arledge, deputy editor of the NHL: He will be booed all night. Whenever he touches the puck, every time he makes a room, every time he goes past the glass and that he jumps over the boards. It would be a major problem if it happened otherwise. Yeah, it would be nice to see Islander fans remember the good days, but they will not remember it, and that is what it is. Tavares is a superstar who has chosen to leave his team for greener pastures and he will hear about it. And it's quite good. But hey, everything is better than some Rangers fans would have grassed Ryan McDonagh recently, while he was carrying the puck for the Lightning (he was traded, people, go, go) or as the Columbus faithful ranted the madmen on Artemi Panarin because it's could leave after the season. (OK, yes, he'll probably leave.)
Sachin Chandan, ESPN magazine researcher: Islanders fans need a party like this to let everything out of their system. Having a good team helps, but it's the game that has been circled since the schedule. The fans will hound Tavares every time he touches the puck and will probably throw him some sharp songs. The Coliseum will be, and should be, the loudest it has been in years. Future meetings with the Maple Leafs will not have the same level of venom (unless they meet at the conference finals …), but it's the only night to get romp. And for Islanders fans who have been jostled for years, they deserve their catharsis.
Who wins the Cup first: the islands or the Leafs?
Greg Wyshynski, Senior Writer of the NHL: The Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup in the next five years. It's a fatality. The team is rich in young talent, added key veterans in Tavares and Jake Muzzin, and I am confident that general manager Kyle Dubas will add the right elements to bring his blue line closer to the championship level. I'm going to regret the loss of jokes "plan the parade" and "1967", but I really want the Leafs to be drought-resistant (and, frankly, to see an Arizona desert American taking them there). Of course, the dream is that the Leafs and Islanders continue to improve and meet in playoffs at some point for the Tavares referendum.
Emily Kaplan, NHL National Reporter: Disclaimer: I have too long underestimated the Islanders this season. I did not think the guard would hold out. I have miscalculated the impact that a coach could have on setting up a defensive structure (with essentially the same group that had allocated 3.57 goals per game, a top in the league, last season). That said, the Maple Leafs are better positioned to win now (as in the next two years). For me, this is the double they have in the center with Auston Matthews and Tavares, and the overall depth. New York has a deeper pool of prospects and is better prepared for a dynastic period, although it may not start for a few more seasons.
Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan call Chris Peters, NHL Appointment and Hope Analyst at ESPN, on the occasion of the closing show. The three discuss all transactions completed, including the acquisition of RW Mark Stone by Vegas (13:02). In addition, Wayne Simmonds heads to Nashville (24:56). Listening »
Chris Peters, Editor-in-Chief and NHL prospect: I think Toronto is still two or three players in the Cup, and as good as the islands have been this season, I think their depth does not fit enough for the next few years. Assuming Toronto is not cursed, I will take their depth and the good season from Frederik Andersen, who will bring the Stanley Cup back to Ontario before she is hoisted up over Long Island.
Dimitri Filipovic, Hockey Analytics Editor: The Leafs, simply because they are closer to the current construction. They have a brutal roadmap ahead of them to get there this season, as they will likely have to go through the Bruins and Lightning to get to the conference finals. But they also have an absolutely devastating offensive firepower and a high-level goalkeeper who covers a good deal of what they give up on each other. It is quite possible that they get hot and make a serious noise in the playoffs. Although the future is bright for the Islanders and their history has been fantastic this season, there is still work to be done before legitimately starting this discussion.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: On paper, Toronto is one of the top four right-handed defenders and one of the biggest forwards. The Islanders are not so close. The Leafs also have the advantage over New York in terms of talent, as well as lasting reliability at the net with Andersen. And the cream of this advanced harvest sticks again for a few years.
Ben Arledge, deputy editor of the NHL: Toronto. It's fun to watch the Islanders climb to the top of the division this season. They have very good basics for the future, both within the team and in the system. However, Toronto is built to win now, with probably the best 1-2 in the middle, a plethora of threats, one of the most underrated stars in the league in Mitch Marner, a Norris Trophy candidate to Morgan Rielly and stout goalkeeper Andersen. The islands are heading in the right direction in the post-Tavares era, but the Maple Leafs have the right edge in the Cup. Now it only remains to beat Tampa Bay.
Sachin Chandan, ESPN magazine researcher: Listen, it's probably Toronto because of the amount of dynamic talent they've locked up in the next few years. However, islanders might have a chance to fly a few laps this year. The playoff system gives the subway teams an advantage, as two of the Toronto-Boston-Tampa Bay teams will be knocked out (and exhausted) by the conference finals. Secondly, the Islanders had the league's top goalkeepers with a 0.939 overkill percentage and a significantly improved team defense, yielding only 30.9 shots against match per game, compared to 35.6 the worst in the league last season. Both could be ingredients for a surprise playoff race.
Who is the X factor for each team's playoff success?
Greg Wyshynski, Senior Writer of the NHL: For islanders, I go with the man behind the bench, Barry Trotz. He is the coach of the year and probably the greatest asset of the team not to have named Mat Barzal. Trotz did a great job for the Capitals as the final playoff bench, nicely recovering from a bad decision to sit. Braden Holtby at the start of the playoffs and erasing years of criticism for previous failures in the post-season. He has the Islanders playing such a defensive and effective basic hockey brand and needs to keep them on that playoff track.
For the Leafs, this is the aforementioned American desert of Arizona, Auston Matthews. Remember from his disastrous playoff series against the Boston Bruins last year, in which he has followed a season of 34 goals in 63 games with a goal and a pass in seven games, thus obtaining a loss of memory and not making the difference. Since the Bruins seem to be on the horizon again in April, Matthews must exercise his will on this series and all the others in which the Leafs are registered – provided they advance, of course.
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Emily Kaplan, NHL National Reporter: As long as the goalkeepers hold on to New York – and at this point, I have no reason to believe that it will not happen – my X factor for New York is Mat Barzal. The Islanders have been a pleasant surprise with equal production (they have eight players with a total of double-digit goals), but they will need their star center to set the tone. Barzal has only 10 points in his last 20 games, which will not be reduced this spring.
For Toronto? Their defense as a whole scares me a little. I know that they would have liked to have another right-handed advocate at the trading deadline, and I wonder if it could cost them dearly.
Chris Peters, Editor-in-Chief and NHL prospect: For the Maple Leafs, I think William Nylander is the guy who can really help them get to a higher level if he manages to get out of his post-contract funeral dispute. It should be hoped, at least in his interest, that he is at the cutting edge of technology and that he is producing at this point of the season. The more players you can have, the better, and when Nylander is at his best, he can contribute.
For the Islanders, it is goalkeepers. can Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss to bring this team through the playoffs? Lehner played a total of 49 minutes in the playoffs at the NHL level. Thomas Greiss has played in 12 Stanley Cup Playoffs and none since 2016. They have been the X Factor throughout the year for the Islands, and the only chance the team has is so these two residents can maintain their .928 save percentage in the playoffs.
Dimitri Filipovic, Hockey Analytics Editor: I am tempted to go with the goaltenders, especially for the Islanders, who are currently leading the standings in terms of both 5-on-5 and in general. Let's go with the young wingers of both teams. For New York, it is almost unacceptable that they deliberately choose not to have at least one of them (but really both). Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang in the range right now. It's no coincidence that the team's underlying strengths soared when they were in place in December and January and that they have dropped further since their demotion – Especially since it is not as if this team was on the lookout for talent, seen Mat Matzal is inexplicably obliged to lug around like Leo Komarov, Andrew Ladd and Tom Kuhnhackl.
Although the Leafs do not have such a problem, I will be curious to see what combinations they will choose afterwards. It's a great stretch of games for guys like Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi KapanenBoth players are extremely talented players on which the Leafs will rely for goals in the playoffs, but who could possibly afford the starting price of Toronto if they keep the current trend.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: Defender Jake Gardiner must be healthy and effective. In good health, first of all, since the Leafs defender is currently waiting for weeks with bad backs. With a little luck, this equates to three or four in recovery, and not indefinitely until spring. And although he is widely (often wrongly) criticized on the market, Gardiner is a key part of Toronto's blue line, a magnified state of affairs when he was so terrible in the loss of Team 7 against the Bruins. The games of Igor Ozhiganov, Justin Holl and Martin Marincin will not be enough to lead the Leafs away, especially with Travis Dermott, now stuck in the shoulder. They need Gardiner at his best.
On the Islanders side, it's about keeping goals. In the last third of goals, they are the most stingy of all goals (2.32). We can not expect this offense to spill over into difficult cases involving several games against the best in the East. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss need to be superb. Any one of them, anyway.
Ben Arledge, deputy editor of the NHL: This is definitely the goalkeeper for New York. At the end of the day, the Islanders will go as far as Lehner and Greiss can take them. They combined their efforts to achieve a .939 equal savings this season, the highest in the NHL. If they are ready to rock in April, the sky is the limit. If they are not, there are too many quality teams from the Eastern Conference who are waiting to capitalize.
For the Maple Leafs, I'm in between Frederik Andersen and Morgan Rielly. Obviously goalies are all in the playoffs. If you do not have it, you'll go nowhere. But Rielly is an important part of what motivates this team. Only Brent Burns has more points than Rielly's 61 out of 61, and he is currently tied for defensemen, with 15 – despite averaging about two minutes less per night than other leading defenders.
Sachin Chandan, ESPN magazine researcher: When I think of the X factor, I think of someone other than a star, that the other team knows how to make the difference. The Islanders did not trade on the day of the deadline, but became wingers Andrew Ladd back of an ankle injury. Ladd, who has played 64 playoff games as a member of two winning teams in the Cup, is expected to devote significant minutes to the Barzal line, as he did on Tuesday night against Calgary.
Acquisition of the Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin will have to increase its production. After a quick start, Muzzin has scored just three points in his last 10 games. However, the Maple Leafs were 4-1-1 behind the current playoff teams. In terms of possession, Muzzin has a 53.71% Corsi percentage in tight situations, the third best performance among Leafs defensemen, and also has the winning experience during his career with the Kings.
Who is the next "traitor" level Tavares?
Greg Wyshynski, Senior Writer of the NHL: As a Devils fan, I hate to say that … but there's a reasonable chance that Taylor Hall heads elsewhere in 2020 when his contract with New Jersey is in effect. I want to believe that his relationship with coach John Hynes, the way the organization adopted it after dropping by the Oilers, and what we hope, it 's like. is the upward trajectory of the franchise with players like Nico Hischier, Ty Smith, Jesper Boqvist and who they select this summer. are enough to make him sign long-term. Once again, he may have a picture of his childhood sleeping, like Boston Bruins bed sheets. No matter, he's going away, he'll have Parise's, if not Tavares', in Newark.
Emily Kaplan, NHL National Reporter: I do not see any shock in the class of free agents this summer. Joe Pavelski will want to stay in San Jose if they have it. Erik Karlsson was not a shark long enough to call him a traitor if he succeeded. Same William Karlsson (Vegas) and Jeff Skinner (Buffalo), although I know both players are comfortable with their current teams. The next possibility I see is Taylor Hall in the summer of 2020. The Devils desperately want to build around him, but the question is whether he believes in New Jersey.
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Chris Peters, Editor-in-Chief and NHL prospect: Sergei Bobrovsky, although I wonder how much Jackets fans would be vitriolic if he left for free agency this year. Bobrovsky may not have been selected by the Blue Jackets, but he has been with the club for seven seasons, won two Vezina trophies and helped the franchise achieve its greatest success. If the team does not manage to win this year after being full at the trade deadline – it is basically forced to do so because their two biggest stars, Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin, did not want to make the commitment long-term – be a contempt directed against the guy who had been with the team the longest time. Bobrovsky has not been as good this season. It would be a particularly bitter end if it ended without a title. I could see a lot of hurt feelings when he managed without money in the Blue Jackets trophy cabinet.
Dimitri Filipovic, Hockey Analytics Editor: I hope it will be one of those high priced restricted free agents that will go ahead and finally sign an offer sheet with another team this summer. I've been programmed to be skeptical as to what this will actually happen, given all the false hopes of the past few years, but savvy people seem to sincerely believe that we will really see one this summer, given the current landscape. There are so many young players ready to win obscene money, and many of them are part of teams that may be facing a salary constraint. I think it would be particularly amazing to see what would happen if the Islanders signed Mitch Marner to a poison pill pill, just to try and get back to the Leafs this summer.
Pierre Becquey, Associate Editor: We are in 2026. Connor McDavid returns to his Ontario roots as an unrestricted free agent. In this scenario, Toronto has plenty of places available due to the departure the previous year of a … John Tavares.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: 2022 is still far away, but Aleksander Barkov Sunrise, Florida, is sure to break hearts when he chooses to play in a more publicized NHL market. Earning an average annual salary of $ 5.9 million before that date, which is disappointing given all that the 23-year-old captain brings to the ice, he will end up winning. great. Those who are loyal to the team will undoubtedly feel betrayed by the talented center player, ranked second overall in 2013. The goodness of forbidding the Panthers to come forward, infusing extra acid to the break inevitable after nine years? – on duty.
Ben Arledge, deputy editor of the NHL: Well, I do not expect it to come next year. This is not the kind of thing that happens every year in the NHL. Yes, Bobrovsky and Panarin may both have left, and it's going to hurt – even if they already have a foot in the door – but if you want to talk about some real quilting, Taylor Hall immediately comes to mind. He will be the next star on the run to really seduce a fan base and straighten the franchise a bit in his absence. At the end of next season, the par excellence player of the 2017-2018 season will be a free agent, assuming he does not sign again before. He could sign this agreement, given the high priority of the Devils to keep him in town, but given the direction the Devils will take, I would be surprised that Hall is not testing the open waters. And it could be almost the same. The fans are hoping their star will come back. An aspirant to the aspirations of the Cup in the short term makes his entry. The team's prospects collapse. The fan base avoids the guy who has worn them in recent seasons.
Sachin Chandan, ESPN magazine researcher: Artemi Panarin with Columbus fans. Panarin is a maker of difference for the Blue Jackets, but he had already heard some rumors in January when his agent had announced that Panarin would be a free agent this summer and that the Blue Jackets had decided not to trade anything against him. It's his right to be a free agent, I do not attack that, but it's easy to see why Blue Jackets fans will have bad feelings right there.
How should Islanders spend all this ceiling space this summer?
Greg Wyshynski, Senior Writer of the NHL: By handing out the biggest bid possible, Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner can. For reasons.
But seriously, if Artemi Panarin is not ready to go to South Beach with his talent and really wants to play in New York, the Islanders will find a way to put it on this list in the long term, which would be worth it, but this investment is worth it. you know, Barry Trotz has not been spoiled by his compatriots Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.
Emily Kaplan, NHL National Reporter: I imagine that the priority is to re-sign Captain Anders Lee, and there is no reason for this agreement not to be concluded. The Islanders should keep at least one of Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle (both UFAs). They can sign both, provided neither of them breaks the bank. The Islanders contacted some of the big names on the deadline, but they were not willing to give up their future assets. Well, two of these names will be available again this summer: Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene. The one or the other player would be a sensational fit. I would definitely prefer Duchene to Nelson in addition to Barzal in the center.
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Chris Peters, rédacteur en chef et prospect de la LNH: Passez prudemment. Le plus gros poisson digne d'intérêt est Artemi Panarin en raison de son âge et de sa production. Il pourrait être un changeur de jeu pour eux et vaut absolument le gros ticket qu'il est sûr de commander. Sinon, certaines modifications internes pourraient ne pas être aussi coûteuses. Obtenir que Robin Lehner signe une extension, de préférence à court terme, est un début. Je pense aussi que le club a besoin de reconstituer le capitaine Anders Lee. Il est un bon personnage pour l’équipe et a vécu des moments difficiles avec la franchise tout en y apportant un effort constant et constant. En dehors de cela, les îles n'ont pas besoin de se lancer sur le marché libre. C’est là que les choses peuvent devenir un peu délicates, et je préférerais les voir cultiver une réserve de prospects très solide, se concentrer sur le développement de talents et laisser certains de ces gars s’inscrire naturellement sur la liste au lieu de dépenser toutes sortes d’argent pour les grands noms, Agents libres à long terme – à moins que cet agent libre soit Artemi Panarin.
Dimitri Filipovic, rédacteur en analytique de hockey: Ils doivent se frayer un chemin vers les barrières et essayer d'ajouter un autre joueur vedette pouvant donner à Mat Barzal un second candidat légitime. Panarin est le nom le plus logique, car il est le joueur le plus qualifié sur le marché libre. Il a déjà manifesté son intérêt pour ses talents à New York et il représente le type exact d'infusion de talents dont ils ont si désespérément besoin. Je sais que dépenser beaucoup d'argent en agence libre est risqué car vous payez généralement des joueurs âgés pour ce qu'ils ont déjà fait et non ce qu'ils vont faire à l'avenir, mais le cas de Panarin pourrait être l'exception. Même s'il aura 28 ans le premier mois de la saison prochaine, ce qui signifie que son contrat de sept ans le mènera à l'âge de 30 ans. Son corps ne présente pas l'usure typique à laquelle on pourrait s'attendre. d'un joueur de son âge. Il est dans la LNH depuis seulement quatre saisons et auparavant, il jouait un programme de la KHL beaucoup plus léger, qui se situait généralement dans la fourchette approximative des 40-50 parties. Combinez cela avec un style de jeu insaisissable qui le protège de prendre trop de châtiments corporels, et il n'y a aucune raison de croire qu'il ne vieillira pas de manière élégante et productive avant l'âge de 30 ans.
Victoria Matiash, analyste de fantasy: Commencez par signer Anders Lee. Non seulement parce qu'il convient bien, mais aussi parce que perdre un capitaine lors d'un deuxième été consécutif aurait pour effet de dégonfler à plusieurs degrés. Relancer avec l'UFA en suspens Brock Nelson, sous-estimé à l'extérieur de Long Island, marque un autre geste solide. Au-delà de cela, une approche attentiste pourrait être la solution. Les Islanders ont dépassé les attentes cette saison – ce n'est pas un coup dur pour le club; plus encore, notre faute pour sous-estimer l'impact de Lou, Trotz, Lehner, etc. Il est utile de laisser les choses mariner. Donnez à la direction l'occasion d'évaluer ce qui se passe réellement à bord. Cela étant dit, si Artemi Panarin veut signer, vous ne le repoussez pas.
Ben Arledge, éditeur adjoint de la LNH: Je m'attends à ce que les insulaires apportent au moins un élément clé. Comme indiqué ci-dessus, Panarin vaut son prix et fournirait un excellent ailier pour Mathew Barzal et cette infraction. Jeff Skinner est une autre option intéressante. Un joueur de type Gustav Nyquist avec un bon contrat pourrait également fonctionner. Peuvent-ils obtenir au moins deux de Lee, Jordan Eberle et Brock Nelson sous contrat? Et puis il y a le gardien de but. Barry Trotz et les îles doivent-ils acheter à long terme sur Lehner ou peuvent-ils signer un autre accord à court terme? Il y aura beaucoup de choses en jeu en juillet.