Each season players leave their respective teams via free agency or trades, or they come up through the ranks from the draft to the minors and finally the NHL. There’s a constant change to rosters league wide to find the right combination of players. But one thing that hasn’t changed for awhile now until recently is the rules of overtime. In an attempt to reduce the number of shootouts the NHL is making overtime 3-on-3 starting in this upcoming 2015-2016 season. If a team gets a powerplay they will play 4-on-3; if a team gets a two man advantage they’ll play 5-on-3. Essentially, the league wants to open up the ice utilizing less players and create a lot more natural scoring chances rather than defaulting to the “skills competition” or “gimmick” that players have referred to the shootout as.
So this leads us to a very interesting question; with all the current roster changes what could be the scariest team to face in the new NHL overtime? And 3-on-3 hockey can be scary for goaltenders and defensive minded players a like. It frees up countless passing lanes, players will have room to gather up speed, and long stretch passes will be abundant. Let’s take a peek at who could take advantage of this scenario the most:
The obvious pick; the Chicago Blackhawks. They’ll have multiple combinations to throw at teams that could be borderline unstoppable. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Tuevo Teravainen, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Artem Anisimov, Brent Seabrook (if he’s still a Hawk at the start of the season), Kris Versteeg, Trevor Daley, and more. Any rotation of three of those players is scary.
Columbus Blue Jackets will love the new 3-on-3 overtime scenario. Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, newly acquired Cup winner Brandon Saad, and Cam Atkinson should be salivating. Or puck moving defenseman like David Savard or Ryan Murray could send those guys free with the stretch pass.
Sneaky scary team Dallas Stars, despite not knowing where their defensive zone is will have plenty of options to throw at teams. There’s Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp, Valeri Nichushkin, John Klingberg, Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky at Lindy Ruff’s disposal. There is a ton of speed and offensive punch in their lineup to steal an extra 4-6 points this season by avoiding the shootout.
The Pittburgh Penguins are already built for playing 3-on-3. Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, and Phil Kessel could stay out there the full 5 minutes as far as I’m concerned. They could be the scariest offensive trio in the NHL. And if they want to pair two of them with a different third wheel they still have Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis as the supporting cast.
The St. Louis Blues, for obvious reasons, will be dangerous 3-on-3. Super sniper Vladimir Tarasenko will take center stage alongside Jaden Schwartz, David Backes, Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and on and on. They’re also a team that could probably still maintain a bit of physical presence even with ample open ice.
Tampa Bay… my hands may cramp up if I type all the names. Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Ryan Callahan, the beast that is Victor Hedman, and Anton Stralman fill out the options. This team had an unreal powerplay last year and even though 3-on-3 doesn’t give either team a man advantage the skill and speed on this roster might as well be one with more open ice. I want to see a Pittsburgh/Tampa overtime game bad.
And lastly, the Washington Capitals. The obvious ones are Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and now they can add T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams to that combo. Or back it up with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen with Braden Holtby shutting the door and this team will rob their opponents of the extra point.
Regardless of how it breaks down there is no question that the new 3-on-3 overtime is going to allow for a lot more goal scoring. I feel by seasons end fans and analysts league wide will unanimously agree that it’s the most exciting thing going in the NHL. Who is your favorite trio for the new overtime? Did I miss your team? Go ahead and comment below.