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NHL 21 Season Opening Roster Deep Dive (Part Two)

NHL 21 roster update mistakes

NHL 21

NHL 21 Season Opening Roster Deep Dive (Part Two)

In part two, I tackle the Scotia North and MassMutual East divisions. Here is part one, where I discuss the theme of this deep dive and the way I’m looking at it overall.

NHL 21 Season Opening Roster Deep Dive

MassMutual East Division

Philadelphia Flyers

  • Claude Giroux – no longer elite

The Flyers’ captain possessed elite potential, but Giroux no longer is the engine that drives the Philadelphia Flyers offense as he was in years prior. Last season, Giroux finished fourth in points on the Flyers and has only produced a points per game average of 1.00 or greater twice in the past six seasons. The new rosters would be more accurate if Giroux was appropriately given top 6 potential.

  • James van Riemsdyk – not a true sniper

Perhaps splitting hairs here, but JVR really isn’t a sniper in the traditional sense like his designated player type labels him. Yes, JVR is a proven goal scorer, but at 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, van Riemsdyk does a majority of his damage from right in front of the net. The new rosters would be more accurate if JVR was appropriately given the power forward player type.

  • Shayne Gostisbehere – no longer elite

Gostisbehere burst onto the scene in 2015 scoring 17 goals as a rookie. However, since then Gostisbehere has seen his production decline, and even worse, his playing time has also taken a hit. He has even spent a good amount of time in the press boxes. The elite potential given to Gostisbehere is far from accurate as last year Gostisbehere only managed 12 points. The new rosters would be more accurate if Gostisbehere was appropriately given top 6 potential.

  • Nolan Patrick – not elite

Patrick, the former second overall pick in 2017, missed the entire 2019-2020 NHL season for the Flyers. The elite potential he’s been given in NHL 21 seems like a massive reach for a player whose career highs are 13 and 31 for goals and points. The new rosters would be more accurate if Patrick was appropriately given top 9 potential.

  • Scott Laughton – not top six 

Over the last couple of seasons, Scott Laughton has proven to be a valuable utility player for Philadelphia. However, Laughton is not is a legitimate top 6 forward. Laughton is almost exclusively slotted in the bottom six for Philadelphia barring any injuries. The new rosters would be more accurate if Laughton was appropriately labeled as a bottom 6 forward.

  • Connor Bunnaman – not top nine

A former fourth round draft pick who never even really succeeded at the AHL level. In 21 games last season for the Flyers Bunnaman dressed in twenty one games recording two points while exclusively playing on the fourth line. The new rosters would be more accurate if Bunnaman was appropriately labeled as a bottom 6 forward.

  • Nicolas Aube-Kubel – not a sniper

A second round pick in 2014, NAK quietly had a very strong rookie season last year for the Flyers scoring at almost a 0.50 points per game pace, which is very respectable for a bottom six forward. However, his seven goals from last season far from qualify him as a sniper. Furthermore, his career high of 18 goals in the AHL wouldn’t even classify him as a sniper there. The new rosters would be more accurate if Aube-Kubel was appropriately labeled as a two-way forward. Additionally, his 75 overall rating is too low.

  • Brian Elliott – no longer a fringe starter

Affectionately known as “Moose” and a 35-year-old backup, Elliott is firmly just a backup at this stage of his career. The new rosters would be more accurate if Elliott was appropriately labeled as a backup instead of fringe starter.

New York Islanders

  • Cory Schneider – Hasn’t been in elite in maybe five years!
  • Jordan Eberle – One 60 point season in the last six seasons. Not elite.
  • Nick Leddy – 21 and 26 points in the last two seasons. Not elite.
  • Scott Mayfield – Has played almost every game over the last two season. Not a seventh defenseman.
  • Cal Clutterbuck – Not a top nine forward.

Washington Capitals

  • Tom Wilson – Probably more appropriately should be a power forward.
  • Conor Sheary – Not a top six forward.
  • Richard Panik – 14, 14, 9 are his goal totals from the last three seasons. Not a sniper or a top nine forward.

New Jersey Devils

  • P.K. Subban – No longer elite.
  • Ryan Murray – Never elite.

Boston Bruins

  • Ondrej Kase – Not a sniper.
  • Nick Ritchie – Not a top six forward.

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Jake Guentzel – Not elite.

New York Rangers

  • Pavel Buchnevich – Not a sniper. Only once has finished a season with more goals than assists.
  • Brendan Lemieux – Not a top nine forward.
  • Jack Johnson – No longer a top four defenseman.

Buffalo Sabres

  • Taylor Hall – Not a sniper. Has only topped 30 goals once in his career.
  • Kyle Okposo – Not elite. Has only totaled 48 points over the last two seasons.
  • Tobias Rieder – Has only managed to score four goals over his last 100-plus games, including a 67 game season where he never scored.
  • Zemgus Girgensons – Not a top nine forward. Career fourth liner.

Scotia North Division

Montreal Canadiens

  • Jonathan Drouin – Has yet to put it all together. Has only reached 20 goals once in his career. Not elite or a sniper.
  • Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Still young but not proven to be elite yet.
  • Michael Frolik – Regularly plays on the bottom six. Not a top six forward.
  • Artturi Lehkonen – Has never scored 20 goals in an NHL season. Not a sniper.
  • Corey Perry – At 35 years of age, Perry is no longer elite or a sniper. Perry only has 11 goals over his past two seasons.
  • Jake Allen – Regular backup. Not a starter
  • Charlie Lindgren – Career minor leaguer, not a fringe NHL starter.

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Jake Muzzin – Dependable defenseman but not elite.
  • T.J. Brodie – Dependable defenseman but not elite.
  • Wayne Simmonds – No longer an elite power forward.
  • Jason Spezza – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top nine.
  • Travis Boyd – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top nine.

Winnipeg Jets

  • Trevor Lewis – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top nine.

Calgary Flames

  • Noah Hanifin – Has underperformed during his career, not an elite defenseman.
  • Dominik Simon – 19 goals in 176 NHL games. Not a sniper
  • Milan Lucic – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top six.

Edmonton Oilers

  • Tyson Barrie – Good, but not elite.
  • Kyle Turris – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top six.
  • James Neal – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top six.
  • Tyler Ennis – Has only registered double digit goals twice in the last five seasons. Not a sniper.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi – Has not shown to be elite yet.
  • Josh Archibald – 33 goals in 190 NHL games. Not a sniper

Vancouver Canucks

  • Braden Holtby – A good but no longer elite NHL goaltender.
  • Tyler Myers – A good but not elite defenseman.
  • Travis Hamonic – A good but not elite defenseman.
  • Loui Eriksson – If not getting scratched altogether, regularly finds himself on the fourth line and not in the top six.

Ottawa Senators

  • Alex Galchenyuk – Has bounced around the league the last few years and has barely produced when he plays. Not an elite forward at all.
  • Artem Anisimov – Regularly relegated to bottom six minutes not top six.
  • Austin Watson – Regularly relegated to fourth line minutes not top nine.
  • Matthew Peca – 13 assists in 73 NHL games. Not a playmaker.
  • Erik Gudbranson – A fifth or sixth defenseman not a top four defenseman.

What type of errors or incorrect information stood out to you? Did you notice anything I didn’t touch on?

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Discussion
  1. I think the most glaring issue, as has been raised many times, is the small range of ratings used for the NHL players (perhaps because there are other leagues in the game). Lumping all of the players so close in ratings makes it hard to detect the difference between a first line guy and a fourth line guy.
    To your point directly, I agree with most of your quibbles, though I disagree with "potential" being incorrect for a young guy. For example, Nolan Patrick (who is, I think, 22). Who's to say what his "potential" is at this point? I don't think it is wrong to say he has Elite potential. The key is whether he can reach that point. Maybe the more important issue is the player progression - if players do not always reach their potential, that would mirror real life better (than just changing the potential). That said, I absolutely agree with a more veteran guy. Elite status is not coming back then. So an older veteran who is no longer elite should not have "Elite" potential anymore.

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