1: Exceeding expectations. A new coach, COVID, like 9 months of no play, Division of death. Not sure why you would think this season would be anything but a dumpster fire in general with hopeful improvements from young players. Having a fun first 10+ games was already a marked improvement from last season. a dismal return from COVID break; At least it gives us something to blame the growing pains on. The past few seasons have seen the slow influx of youth onto the team but this one truly feels like the first big youth movement. Sharngovich, Maltsev, Ty Smith, Bastion, McLeod, Merkley are all getting major chances in the big club and have shown some real promise. Realistically we are probably out of the picture but the standings are close enough right now where a good stretch of wins could have them back in the conversation and I am hoping that is pushing these guys to really fight for wins. There is a glimmer of hope, unlike Buffalo.
2: Gotta go with Ty Smith. The hype was real. The kid can play. Offensively gifted and has been playing defense well enough where I am not really seeing too many glaring mistakes. Who is really carrying the Sevo-Smith line? I'm going to roll with both of them being good. Ty smith looking like a possible candidate for a real top pairing D-man is basically all I could have asked for this season in the first place.
3: Gusev. The goose is cooked. I know Palms has struggled but at least he has put up some points (0.5 pts per game). Gusev can't even pass for a ghost of his previous season self. He is somehow even less corporeal than that. Truely a shame after what he showed last season. Glad we didn't extend him from his previous contract at all cause he isn't even worth league minimum.
4: Zacha is the big surprise. Can't believe how much more confident he looks this year. Don't know if Ruff is the catalyst or what but its like night and day.There has been this lingering talk about maybe trading Zacha for the past year or two and I think this season is showing exactly why you don't trade away young players with promise for no reason.