NHL Overreactions: The First Month

Everyone knows the first month of the season is a perfectly reliable indicator of how the rest of the year will go. It’s time for overreactions to the first month of action in the National Hockey League (NHL). There are a select few teams that will sweep their way to the Stanley Cup, others that surely will never recover from their bad start, and teams that are themselves arguments for relegation to be implemented.

Vegas will win the President’s Trophy with more than 120 points

As of November 5, the Vegas Golden Knights have lost one game in regulation, to the Anaheim Ducks . Their other loss was to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime. William Karlsson leads the way in scoring for Vegas (6-9-15 in 12 games) with Jack Eichel (5-7-12 in 12 games) and Mark Stone, who just had two goals and two assists against Colorado, also spearheading the Knights offense.

Given the Knights’ hot streak to start the year, of course it means they will sustain this great play throughout the year. The Golden Knights will not only finish as the best team in the NHL, but they will join the 120-point club. The Knights were subject to several overreactions following the 2021-22 NHL season before winning the Stanley Cup, so it only stands to reason they will play out-of-this-world hockey.

The Penguins are lucky their first-rounder is protected

This Pittsburgh Penguins team is not a Stanley Cup contender. It has not been one for a while. Erik Karlsson has not changed that. What was Kyle Dubas thinking when joining the Penguins? This team is doomed to be mediocre until the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang hang up the skates. The Penguins will finally rebuild once they retire.

The Penguins got away with the Erik Karlsson trade, if anything. They sit at 4-6-0, good for last place in the Eastern Conference. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets have a better record, at 4-5-2. The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the East as bad as them.

The supporting cast for the Penguins may be in place, sure. Bryan Rust, Reilly Smith, and Jake Guentzel have all done well feeding or scoring off feeds from Crosby and Malkin. Aside from the players mentioned in this segment, though, only Radim Zohorna has scored multiple goals. The Penguins are in some trouble as is. They will be grateful their first-round pick is lottery-protected if two of those players are injured.

The San Jose Sharks are why the NHL should have relegation

This may be the most reasonable of the overreactions people may have for this NHL season. The San Jose Sharks may be the worst team the NHL has seen in a long time. They are 0-10-1, tying the record for longest losing streak to start the season. Here is a look at their current depth, via CapFriendly:

Hoffman – Hertl – Duclair / Eklund – Granlund – Zetterlund / Zadina – Sturm – Kunin / G. Smith – Carpenter

Ferraro – Burroughs / Vlasic – Knyzhov / Okhotiuk – Rutta / MacDonald

Blackwood / Chrona

Yes, there are injuries to key players such as Logan Couture, Alexander Barabanov, and Matt Benning. Here’s a counterargument, though: this team still should not allow 20 goals over two games. This team should not have an impossibly bad goal share at 5v5.

A part of a thread by JFreshHockey on X chronicling the Sharks’ goal share at 5v5.

The NHL, more than any other professional league, is upset-prone. A terrible team can pick off a great team any day. Not this team, though. Would anyone notice if the San Jose Sharks and San Jose Barracuda switched places? This season, the San Jose Sharks cannot be called an NHL team.

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