We’re only halfway through November and still have a long road ahead of us before hardware will be handed out to NHL players. However, everyone appreciates positive reinforcements and handing out a couple of stick taps is never too early. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the possible MVP’s as the 2018/19 NHL season reaches the first-quarter mark.

John Gibson – Anaheim Ducks

At first glance, it’s no surprise that you would focus on the fact that he only managed to win 6 times in 17 decisions, or the fact that his 2.55 goal average is barely on the top 20 of the league’s goalies. However, with a .928 save percentage and facing the second highest shots in the NFL, you quickly realise that the Anaheim Ducks could be a lot worse if it weren’t for Gibson.

Michael Grabner – Arizona Coyotes

Grabner is recognised for his part in the Coyotes extremely deadly penalty-killing unit. The Coyotes are currently ranked first overall when it comes to PK efficiency where they managed to score a total of 10 astonishing shorthanded goals. What makes Grabner so impressive is that he is currently leading the way with four shorties and managed to assist with a handful of others.

David Pastrnak – Boston Bruins

One cannot argue if you much rather prefer Patrice Bergeron. However, David’s almost goal-a-game pace is certainly a marvellous thing.

Jeff Skinner – Buffalo Sabres

Skinner is already boasting with 14 goals, placing him directly behind Pastrnak when it comes to goal scoring records in the NHL.

David Rittich – Calgary Flames

There’s no denying that Mark Smith is underperforming more than any other goalie in the NGL league which makes the breakout performance by backup Rittich that much more important

Sebastian Aho – Carolina Hurricanes

This sensational centre, who is only 21 years of age, kicked off the season with a remarkable 12-match point streak and he doesn’t seem like he is slowing down at all. He is certainly a star in the making.

Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks

Alex DeBrincat (9), Jonathan Toews (9), and Kane (12) have a combined score of 30 from the 53 goals by Chicago. Imagine where the offense of the Blackhawks will be without the incredible Kane?

Mikko Rantanen – Colorado Avalanche

Although MacKinnon is returning from a Hart Trophy nomination, its Rantanen that is currently leading the entire NHL league in both points and assists.

Artemi Panarin – Columbus Blue Jackets

He continues to rack in points for Columbus. However, how long will this continue as a pending UFA who recently indicated that he is not really interested in signing up with the team again?

Morgan Rielly – Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews was first, but then he got injured. Linemates Mitch Marner and John Tavares took over while Frederik Andersen continues to provide sensational netminding. However, its difficult to overlook the contributions by Rielly as he is currently leading all blueliners in the NHL in both points and goals.

HOW TEAMS UNNAPPRECIATE YOUNG TALENT

Hockey teams would not be the same without the young players. These young man sign entry-level contracts that keep them tied to the teams for at least 3 years. In this time they are supposed to develop their talent and then they will be ready to be promoted. Ideally, this cycle would be constant but this is not how it happens.

OLD IDEAS

Some organizations are stuck, as simple as that. They simply stay with what they consider familiar and do not move into new territories. This idea that the traditions should be kept are hurting the teams.

It is common to see the teams paying millionaire contracts for players that are not performing. They give them the franchise tag but the results do not match the team’s investment. Even if the fans express their concerns, the organizations are too stubborn to make the changes. This stubbornness will translate into poor results which is something you are trying to avoid by paying all those millions in the first place.

FRANCHISE TAG

At some point the organizations must ask themselves if the franchise tag is truly helping their case. The Montreal Canadiens put the tag on Carey Price. They signed the goaltender for more years but in the current season he took time off. The 14 games he missed hurt the standings of the Canadiens, although when he was defending, his record was poor.

By committing to these players only because they were stars at some point, the teams reduce the resources they could put somewhere else. The Canadiens need a change on their draft and yet the team keep on making the same mistakes.

SCOUTING

Teams like the Vancouver Canucks have amazing scouting teams. It is a known fact on the hockey community. They have a sharp eye for the outstanding players. Other organization also put some effort into finding the next stars.

The question is how to turn that great scouting into good results. Some players enter the organizations when they are barely 18. It is not until they are at least 22 that they reach their prime. Perhaps the team should start replacing players for rookies and try new strategies.

YOUNG TALENT

At 22 the players reach their prime. They are experienced enough to perform on a big stage but still have room for improvement. Some team owners see this group as the optimal draft and take advantage of the scouting. Other teams refuse to let the younger players take the ice. Eventually they must let those players since they are wasting that talent.

There are some clear advantages about younger players. They are healthier and less prone to injuries. On the financial aspect, it is cheaper to sign a younger player that a more experienced one. The lack of experience should not be a concern, these young men are more than willing to earn their places on the draft.

2019 could be the year when the NHL finally has some fresh faces on the ice.

CANANDIAN TEAMS IN THE NHL FOCUSED IN THE NEXT SEASON

No matter the sport, the teams must prepare for the upcoming seasons. A well-executed plan could be the difference between making it to the final and being stuck in the last place. The preparation has many steps and one of them is getting new talent. Eventually the star players will retire and give the opportunity to the rookies.

The 2017/2018 season has not been easy for some teams. Those that failed to meet the goals on this season have their eyes on the next one. They will not repeat the same mistakes and are ready to correct the issues.

EDMONTO OILERS

This team is working on a new roster. Young players like Kirill Maksimov joined the organization on an entry level. The three-year contracts are all signed and ready to go. The Canadian player will be 19 next summer, he is prospect that the Oilers do not want to let go.

Maksimov would not be on the ice next fall due to his age and inexperience. The Oilers want to work with him for some time first before giving him the green light. There are many expectations about this young player. Hopefully, he will see some game time in 2019.

OTTAWA SENATORS

The Senators recruited the star defenceman from the University of North Carolina. Christian Wolanin is the now the rookie in the Ottawa based organization. This remarkable young man has been playing for his university since 2015. At that moment, the Senators put their eye on him. Finally, they signed a three-year starting level contract.

This new addition comes in a great moment for the team. The Senators have been strongly criticized recently and the fans are screaming for something new. Some fresh blood could change the whole team.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

One of the most important teams on its division. The Canadiens are going through a rough patch. Every day they are forced to add new players to the injured list. The list grows and the problems for the team. The results are far from optimal and they are stuck in the bottom of the scoreboard.

The fans believe some adjustment is necessary. A clear option would be to bring new players but there has not been much discussion about recruitment. Perhaps the team will announce the changes in the summer but in the meanwhile everything remains the same.

NEW SEASON, NEW ME

If something is not working or is damaged beyond repair, it is time to get a new one. The same happen with the teams. If a roster is underperforming, the best option is to renovate wherever they can.

Some teams would rather keep the same players and keep on building the franchises. This is not a winning strategy and could end up hurting their image. Those teams that refuse to change are risking more than necessary.

It is time to take advantage of the younger players. They are healthy and more than willing to give their all in the ice. This is the attitude the teams play if they want to bring something new to the table.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Athletes are no strangers to injuries. More often than not a player misses important matches due to a physical condition. These issues usually come after a bad play or movement in game. It is possible to avoid them but sometimes the injuries are inevitable.

Hockey could be considered a violent sport. Despite the protections the players wear, they are exposed to all kind of damage. Ideally, the teams would be able to replace any player that has any affection. Unfortunately, the Montreal Canadiens do not seem to be ready for this situation and it is affecting their results in the NHL.

CAREY PRICE

The franchise goaltender is an icon for the Canadiens fans. He has been with the team for several years and will be wearing the red and blue for some more. The Montreal organization is willing to pay $84 million for this player but for the 2018 season, he missed a total of 14 games.

The goalie had a concussion, the team did not said how this happened. Seems like it took place during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Price was replaced by Antti Niemi but this change was not enough to help the Canadiens after a poor performance during the season.

SHEA WEBER

Another tragic loss for the Canadiens, the defenseman had to undergo a foot surgery. As a result, he will miss the rest of the season. Apparently, Weber’s injury happened in the beginning of the season but he kept playing for 20 more games.

In the end, the medical team could not do anything to improve Weber’s condition. He was put on the injured list and finally it was determined he had a long way to go before he could skate again.

A BAD RECORD

No matter the sport, it is not easy to make it to a professional team. However, there is a fine line that separates the starting players from the substitutes. Two or more substitutes immediately reduce the quality of the team and the results showed it. The Montreal Canadiens are a team known for their great performance and good scores. In 2017 and part of 2018 they had been struggling.

Even before he was injured, Carey Price had the worst record of the season and his entire career. Many questions were raised about the goaltender and if he really was worth the millions the team was paying for him.

WILL THEY BE ABLE TO RECOVER?

The players will eventually get better but the damage is already done. For the current season, not even a miracle would help the Canadiens. On their division, they are currently standing in the sixth place.

The organization has their eyes on the future. They are fully aware of the struggles the team is facing at the moment. Changes need to happen for the Canadiens to go back to the top of the scoreboards. This should be a lesson for the rest of the organizations, they need to be able to replace any player at any point.