Well, that’s a wrap, folks. The Tampa Bay Lightning closed out the Stanley Cup Final at home, securing back-to-back titles with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 (I elected to forgo the “Lightning strikes twice” joke here). Now, all attention shifts to the offseason and October.
With the hoisting of the Cup came an outpouring of news and notes from around the league. Headlining it all: Vladimir Tarasenko. There are less than two weeks to go until the Seattle expansion draft, with free agency shortly after.
That being said, let’s get caught up on the state of hockey.
- First-year coach Peter Laviolette experienced ups and downs through his first year behind the Washington bench. Here are some takeaways and grades from his 2020-21 campaign. (Japers’ Rink)
- Longtime Capitals forward and Potomac, Maryland native (shoutout to my former high school Churchill Bulldogs) Jeff Halpern won his second straight Stanley Cup as an assistant coach for the Lightning. Ian Oland has more. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
- Axel Jonsson-Fjallby showed a lot of skill on the PK and beyond with Hershey to close out 2020-21 and could compete for a roster spot soon in Washington. Jon Sorenson takes a look at the prospect’s play and potential. (NoVa Caps)
- Off the ice, the Capitals joined the NFT party and now have their own collection. (Washington Hockey Now)
- The Lightning repeated, but for David Savard, it was a first that meant everything. Stephen Whyno discusses the forward’s journey, what he means to Tampa’s locker room and how he triumphed to finally raise Lord Stanley. (Associated Press)
- Per reports, Tarasenko requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues. Jeremy Rutherford has more on why he wants out, potential destinations and more. (The Athletic)
- Meanwhile, in Vancouver, former Capitals blueliner Nate Schmidt is reportedly looking to be moved as well. Harsunder Singh H examines what a potential Schmidt trade could look like for the Canucks. (Nucks Misconduct)
- It was an interesting Stanley Cup Final, and the Pittsburgh Penguins can learn a lot from it. Dan Kingerski details what the Pens can take away from the Habs-Bolts series. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Savard and a healthy Steven Stamkos are probably my favorite narratives from this year’s Cup run. But seeing Andrei Vasilevskiy become the first goalie since Jonathan Quick in 2012 to win the Conn Smythe was something special. Also, Patrick Maroon is now the fourth player in NHL history to win three straight titles, an impressive feat for the Big Rig.
- I’m seeing a lot of suggestions that Washington should consider dealing Evgeny Kuznetsov for Tarasenko in a 1-for-1 deal. I don’t think it’s the best idea; Tarasenko provides secondary scoring on the wing, but that move would leave a major hole down the middle that would be incredibly difficult to fill, especially with Washington lacking cap space. Perhaps finding another top-6 center would be the way to go.
- Speaking of top-6 players, and looking at the play of players like Cole Caufield, the Capitals need to continue to build their scoring depth for the future. It may be wise for them to consider trading for a draft pick or seeing if any young talent is out there.
- Now that the Stanley Cup is awarded, the buyout window will kick off tonight. This just baffles me: how quickly time has flown and how time itself isn’t even truly a concept to me anymore. But boy, the offseason came quick.