The Nation Notebook: Florida rising, Toews isn’t bad, and unsure sellers

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 12:48 am by Christian Pagnani

The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning are facing the reality of having to sell at the deadline, while their neighbors in down south Florida have rocketed up the standings after finally getting fully healthy. Also, Jonathan Toews is doing his best to put to bed the narrative that he’s over the hill. 


The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith talks about the complicated decisions ahead for Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman the following week. Smith notes help on defence is amongst the biggest needs for the Tampa Bay Lighting, but they won’t be in the market for a rental according to Yzerman. The Lightning have serious cap concerns and need to sign all three of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin this summer. The Lightning have Ben Bishop and Brain Boyle to potentially move as rentals, with Toronto, Edmonton, and Columbus showing interest in Boyle. Bishop is playing some of his best hockey as well, but Smith also ponders if keeping Bishop might be the Lightning’s best hope to make the playoffs. 


Sam Carchidi of argues general manager Rox Hetall needs to emphatically sell before the March 1st trade deadline. The Flyers have some interesting pieces too. All of Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto, and Mark Streit are unrestricted free agents that Carchidi doesn’t see in Philadelphia’s plans for next year. He also says they need a backup to expose in the expansion draft as that will allow the Flyers to protect Anthony Stolarz. Both Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason would draw interest, and Edmonton is specifically mentioned as a team looking for a backup.


Newsday’s Arthur Staple might be the most connected person to the New York islanders, and he discusses their options as the deadline approaches. Staple says general manager Garth Snow is in full control and with their recent turnaround has him thinking to add. The Islanders appear to be happy with their goalies and defence according to Staple, and that includes Jaroslav Halak in the minors. The Islanders reportedly want to use some of their depth of defence to bring a forward, preferably at centre, to help their middle-six. Staples lists Patrick Sharp, Radim Vrbata, and Martin Hanzal as rental options, but with varying degrees depending on their price. Under longer-term additions, Matt Duchene and Anthony Duclair appear, although Duchene’s price remains high and Duclair’s is more muddy as he’s had an up-and-down professional career. 


They were always a team to play the long game with. The Florida Panthers got off to a terrible start this season, and many were quick to blame their front office analytics renaissance for the disappointment. But realistically, the Panthers were struggling with injuries to key players and the adaptation to multiple new players and a brand new system, and now that they’re healthy and firing on all cylinders, they’re rocketing up the standings. Not too long ago the Panthers seemed like a write off, but now, at the rate they’re going, they could challenge for the best record in the Atlantic Division. 


It wasn’t too long ago that hockey Twitter was convinced that Jonathan Toews was over the hill. The “Toews is bad” and isn’t anything more than a middle-six centre anymore made their rounds as the three-time Cup champion had a slow start to the season in terms of production. I mean, to be fair, Toews’ production had been dipping over the span of a few seasons, so there was reason to believe he was declining, but since coming back from injury, Toews has been excellent. Now he’s got 42 points in 51 games, good for 26th among centres. Sure, it isn’t good for somebody who costs $10.5 million annually, but I think we can pump the breaks on Toews being over the hill.