Today’s 5: Panthers fire sale, Leafs and Liles, Calder race, and more.

1. Florida Panthers trade rumours circulate after slow start to season

Shawn Matthias of the Florida Panthers. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Shawn Matthias of the Florida Panthers. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Early season trade rumours are running rampant, with the Florida Panthers standing out as one team garnering attention. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun published an article Saturday, October 19, claiming Panthers’ forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Shawn Matthias, Scottie Upshall, Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc, as well as, defencemen Tom Gilbert and Dimitry Kulikov may all be on the trade market. Read Garrioch’s Ottawa Sun article here.

In total, Garrioch’s article lists eight names as potential trade bait. With so many high end prospects in the system, the future is ‘not’ now in Florida, thus, shedding salary in return for future assets seems a good strategy moving forward.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal says the Oilers “might be all over that,” if Shawn Matthias is in fact available for trade. Read full blog posting by Matheson here.

It stands to reason that many NHL teams could be interested in Matthias, a 6’4″ centreman, only 25 years of age. However, as is usually the case every season, the rumours heat up in October, and little to no action is taken until the final weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline near the end of the campaign. While several current Florida Panthers may actually be on the trading block, don’t expect a fire sale this weekend.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs may eat salary to move John-Micheal Liles

Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are willing to retain a portion of defenceman John-Michael Liles‘ contract if another team is willing to acquire the 32 year old. Read Dreger’s article here, courtesy of TSN.ca.

Liles’ cap hit is a little high and a little long considering his production and redundancy on a Leafs team with several puck mover types.

One thought here, is that the Leafs made a mistake when they chose to compliance buyout Mike Komisarek instead of Liles. The former was entering his last season under contract, thus ensuring after this season they could have been free of both defencemen. Liles, who is exactly where Komisarek closed out last season, is playing on the Marlies. He is under contract with the Leafs until the end of the 2015-16 season. His contract counts toward the salary cap this year, next year, and the year after.

3. J. S. Giguere takes goaltending advice from Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Patrick Roy as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Thirty-six year old Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner, J. S. Giguere is off to an incredible start this season for the 2nd overall Colorado Avalanche. It’s early, and most of us aren’t sure how he or his young Avs will hold up through 82 games, however, to this point, Giguere’s numbers are remarkable. Through 3 games played, the Avs netminder has a 0.67 GAA and 0.981 SV%.

Dave Davis of Kukla’s Korner tweeted today that the Avs greybeard has received helpful goaltending advice from head coach Patrick Roy. See the tweet:

 

 

Davis’ tweet is courtesy of insight earned from Sportsnet’s Hockey Central.

Roy’s Avalanche have received sound goaltending from both Giguere and Semyon Varlamov to begin the season. The team’s current 5 on 5 goals against average is a lowly 1.33, which leads the NHL at the moment.

4. Early Calder Trophy assessment

Brunis defenceman Torey Krug. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Brunis defenceman Torey Krug. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The NHL season is a young three weeks old, yet, many exciting rookies are making noise across the league. Of course, we all remember Sharks’ 19-year old Tomas Hertl’s magical 4 goal game against the New York Rangers. Hertl leads rookies in points with 10, but he has some stiff competition moving forward.

Assuming he isn’t sent back to junior, Flames’ rookie sensation Sean Monahan is off to an impressive start that could last all season. The Flames 1st round selection from the 2013 NHL entry draft has tallied 6 goals and 3 assists through 8 games, contributing to his team’s surprising start to the season. And, 1st overall Nathan MacKinnon has cooled off slightly after compiling 7 points in his first 6 NHL contests, however, his immediate future looks very bright.

Rookie defencemen are shining around the league, as well. Hurricanes’ Ryan Murphy leads all first year blueliners in points with 5. Meanwhile, 2013 4th overall pick Seth Jones is turning heads in Nashville and every arena he visits around the NHL. Jones scored a late game winner in Montreal Saturday night, ensuring his team a very important road win. Penguins Olli Maatta and Leafs Morgan Rielly are attracting a lot of praise and attention for their tremendous upside displayed early on. Also, Bruins playoff sensation Torey Krug looks right at home on the B’s back end through the first three weeks of action.

5. Surprise, surprise

There have been a few really interesting surprise teams through the first near full month of the NHL season. The Colorado Avalanche are on fire, their record, a commanding 8-1-0. The Avs hold top spot in the Central over the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues who are considered favourites to finish 1 and 2 in the division by season’s end. The Avs 16 points earned slots them into 2nd overall in the NHL for the time being.

The Avs enjoyed another impressive win last night, beating the Penguins in Pittsburgh 1-0. They not only won the game, they shutout Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who could not capitalize on their chances, which is rare.

The Avs are a nice story. However, most of the NHL’s intriguing surprise teams are shocking because of their early season failures, not successes. Five of last season’s 16 playoff teams currently sit outside of the post season picture. The list of slow starters includes the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild, and Vancouver Canucks.

The Philadelphia Flyers are the worst team in the league, winning only one game so far for a total of 2 points after 8 games played.

The Edmonton Oilers who were supposed to break out this year, only claim 2 victories through 9 games.

A long season usually allows the cream to rise to the top once 82 are in the bank. Things will undoubtedly change drastically over the coming weeks and months, but for some of these slow starters, their fate is already sealed.