Between injuries to star players, an erratic front office, and long stretches of subpar on-ice play, the Florida Panthers simply couldn't get it going in 2016-17.
Just a season prior, the Cats reached new heights, claiming their second-ever division title with a franchise-best 103-point output. Now, eager to put last season's troubles behind them, Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle believes Dale Tallon's return to his role as general manager will help the club get back on track.
"Having Dale back in charge, I think that was the main thing that got everyone going," Yandle told Dan Rosen of NHL.com earlier in July. "You sense the power over the locker room that Dale can have. It's such a positive thing when you have a guy like Dale Tallon. Everyone respects him and everything he does for the team. Going into the season knowing he has our back, he has the team, and obviously that he hired great coaches too, it's a great thing."
Tallon occupied Florida's GM seat from 2010-16, but was bumped up to president of hockey operations as Tom Rowe took over the gig. Rowe also served as Panthers head coach last season after the acrimonious firing of Gerard Gallant just 22 games into the campaign.
After all, the deal temporarily made Price tied for the league's highest paid player at an annual average value of $10.5 million. He was surpassed by Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid shortly after.
According to Steven Nechay of Canadiens.com, the Habs have another strategy in mind which could allow them to get the best out of Price in order to maximize his value to the club.
"I don't believe your starter can play 65 to 70 games a year anymore. It's too tough - physically and mentally - and that'll catch up with you in the spring, for sure," said Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
Price's .923 save percentage last season was his worst since 2012-13. He started in 62 games.
Here's a breakdown of his starts and save percentage by month.
The lessening of Price's workload would lead to an increase of usage of backup goaltender Al Montoya.
"(A) good backup can start 20, 22… even 24 games a year, and give your No. 1 goalie a break while still helping you make the playoffs," said Waite.
Montoya made 18 starts last season, posting a save percentage of .912 and goals-against average of 2.67 while recording two shutouts. He posted a record of 8-6-4, earning credit for the Canadiens' playoff berth as the Atlantic Division's top seed.
"He gives us a chance to win every time he plays, and that's huge when your backup has to start an average of 20 games in today's NHL. We needed him to play at least .500 hockey if we were going to make the playoffs, and that's exactly what he did. He's a very big part of our team," said Waite.
The Canadiens re-signed Montoya to a two-year, $2.125-million contract this offseason.
The 2018 Winter Olympics could set the stage for the next Miracle on Ice.
The hockey phenomenon, when a ragtag group of U.S. collegiate players captured gold in 1980 in Lake Placid, N.Y., could be the storyline once again when the Olympics heads to Pyeongchang next year.
"We look at it like we will be able to compete with anybody there," Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, told Kevin Allen of USA Today. "We are going to be a very competitive team, regardless of who we are playing."
The American team could have a distinct advantage, though, as it could dip into its pool of talent in the U.S. development system, where many up-and-comers have moved through the ranks with the national development program and now play in the NCAA.
"No other country has that type of player available to them," USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher told Allen. "This tournament could highlight each country's depth, and we think we have greater depth than we've ever had."
While it's not known which players will make up the American squad, Johansson noted USA Hockey could also recruit veteran defensemen playing in Europe to create a team that defends well and is difficult to play against.
"Most of the dynamic offensive players are in the NHL," Johansson added. "I think it's going to be low-scoring hockey. We are going to try to keep games under control."
If the upcoming U.S. edition wins gold in Pyeongchang, they'll be the first American squad to do so since the collegiate talent won it all in 1980. The Americans have medalled twice since, taking home silver in 2002 and 2010.
Arivdsson turned 24 years old in April and is coming off a breakout year in which he scored 31 goals, added 30 assists, and was a major reason why the Preds made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
There is some risk for Poile and the Predators as they're locking up a player with just one good season under his belt, but by watching Arvidsson play and looking deeper into the numbers, it's clear this is a very calculated risk.
Numbers don't lie
Arvidsson came out of nowhere to score 31 goals last season, but he did so with a shooting percentage of 12.6 percent, which is only slightly above the league average of 10.753 percent for forwards.
The speedy forward wasn't one-dimensional either. He scored 22 of his 31 goals at even strength, four on the power-play, and a league-leading five while shorthanded. Having a first-line player who can kill penalties is a huge asset.
Speaking of the first line, Arvidsson found great chemistry alongside Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg on the team's top unit, but it took him some time to grow into that role.
He averaged 17:09 minutes per game last season, but only 15:13 in the first 20 games. He played 18:10 in the final 20 games of the season, which probably provides a better idea of what his ice time will look like next season.
On a per 60-minute basis, Arvidsson ranked third among NHL forwards in shot attempts by one's team while said player was on the ice (at five-one-five), trailing only Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Essentially, if an entire game was played at five-on-five and Arvidsson was on the ice for all 60 minutes, the Predators would have averaged 68.4 shot attempts per game.
Sticking with rate stats, Arvidsson also ranked exceptionally well in scoring chances for per 60 minutes (SCF/60), which tracks how many scoring chances a team generated while an individual player was on the ice. Arvidsson ranked 14th among NHL forwards with 32.79 SCF/60. In comparison, Sidney Crosby led the league with 37.96 SCF/60.
What all of this means is that Arvidsson's breakout season doesn't appear to be a fluke.
The good people at Cap Friendly put together a list of contracts that compare to Arvidsson's. Here are some names who matched up:
No player on this list has ever reached the 60-point plateau, and only Rakell and Henrique have scored 30 goals, but both did so with inflated shooting percentages.
Predators are sitting pretty
The Predators have just under $15 million in cap space remaining after re-signing Arvidsson. They still have to re-sign restricted free agents Johansen and Austin Watson, but that should still leave them with plenty of wiggle room.
More importantly, Arvidsson joins a list of key Predators players who are vastly underpaid. Take a look:
Arvidsson, Forsberg, Josi, Ekholm, and Ellis have a combined cap hit of just $20.5 million. These bargains significantly extend Nashville's window of competing for the Stanley Cup.
It was the Blackhawks' and Stan Bowman's attempt to bulk up and change the complexion of the roster, but Kane will miss the chemistry he and Panarin had developed over the last two seasons.
"I'd be lying to you if I was sitting up here saying I wasn’t disappointed when it first went down, no doubt about it,’" Kane said, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘Artemi's a great kid, someone I got along with really well off the ice and had that chemistry with on the ice. It was just fun to play with him every night. I'll miss him, for sure."
With Panarin now out of the picture, the question is who will Kane play with next season and going forward? Early indications are that Saad will reunite with captain Jonathan Toews, but as for Kane, he doesn't seem too worried about who will take Panarin's spot.
"Who knows what's going to happen?" Kane said. "I could have better chemistry with a guy like (Nick) Schmaltz or better chemistry with someone like (Ryan) Hartman. And I know I played well with (Patrick) Sharp in the past, too. I’m looking forward to the season and the next challenge."
Over the last two seasons, Kane has paced the league with 195 points, while Panarin sits seventh with 151 points. So, whoever Kane indeed plays with, there's no denying it won't be the same without Panarin.