Tag Archives: Alex Tanguay

Down the Frozen River Podcast #115- Welcome to Arby’s

Nick, Connor and Pete decide Connor should name his first kid “Tkachuk” while revealing their top-10 left wingers of their lifetimes. Also, Ray Emery, Arby’s and Marian Hossa.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify.

TBT: 2016 Trade Deadline Recap

Can’t seem to recall what happened at last year’s trade deadline? Fear not, because we remember everything.

Below is a recap of all the trades made the day of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline.

2016 NHL Trade Deadline- February 29, 2016

UnknownAnaheim Ducks

Acquired: F Jamie McGinn from Buffalo.

F Brandon Pirri from Florida.

F Corey Tropp from Chicago.

D Martin Gernat and a 2016 4th round pick from Edmonton.

Traded: A 6th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to Florida

A conditional 2016 3rd round pick to Buffalo.

F Tim Jackman and a 2017 7th round pick to Chicago.

F Patrick Maroon to Edmonton.

Arizona_Coyotes.svgArizona Coyotes

Acquired: F Sergei Plotnikov from Pittsburgh.

F Alex TanguayF Conner Bleackley and D Kyle Wood from Colorado.

F Matia Marcantuoni from Pittsburgh.

Future considerations from Arizona.

Traded: F Matthias Plachta and a 7th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to Pittsburgh.

F Mikkel Boedker to Colorado.

F Dustin JeffreyF Dan O’Donoghue and D James Melindy to Pittsburgh.

D Corey Potter to Nashville.

UnknownBoston Bruins

Acquired: D John-Michael Liles from Carolina.

F Lee Stempniak from New Jersey.

Traded: F Anthony Camara, a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and a 5th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to Carolina.

2017 2nd round pick and 2016 4th round pick to New Jersey.

Buffalo Sabres LogoBuffalo Sabres

Acquired: A conditional 2016 3rd round pick from Anaheim.

Traded: F Jamie McGinn to Anaheim.

Unknown-4.pngCalgary Flames

Acquired: D Jyrki JokipakkaD Brett Pollock and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft from Dallas.

G Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 6th round pick from Minnesota.

Traded: D Kris Russell to Dallas.

F David Jones to Minnesota.

Carolina Hurricanes LogoCarolina Hurricanes

Acquired: F Anthony Camara, a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and a 5th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Boston.

D Dennis Robertson from Chicago.

Traded: D John-Michael Liles to Boston.

G Drew MacIntyre to Chicago.

Unknown-2Chicago Blackhawks

Acquired: G Drew MacIntyre from Carolina.

F Tim Jackman and a 2017 7th round pick from Anaheim.

Traded: D Dennis Robertson to Carolina.

F Corey Tropp to Anaheim.

Unknown-1.pngColorado Avalanche

Acquired: F Taylor Beck from New York (I).

F Mikkel Boedker from Arizona.

D Eric Gelinas from New Jersey.

Traded: Marc-Andre Cliche to New York (I).

F Alex TanguayF Conner Bleackley and D Kyle Wood to Arizona.

2017 3rd round pick to New Jersey.

Columbus Blue Jackets LogoColumbus Blue Jackets

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

CJhyiLmKDallas Stars

Acquired: D Kris Russell from Calgary.

Traded: D Jyrki JokipakkaD Brett Pollock and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to Calgary.

Unknown.pngDetroit Red Wings

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svgEdmonton Oilers

Acquired: F Patrick Maroon from Anaheim.

Traded: D Martin Gernat and a 2016 4th round pick to Anaheim.

Unknown-2Florida Panthers

Acquired:6th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft from Anaheim.

Traded: F Brandon Pirri to Anaheim.

Unknown-3.pngLos Angeles Kings

Acquired: F Brett Sutter from Minnesota.

Traded: F Scott Sabourin to Minnesota.

Unknown-2.pngMinnesota Wild

Acquired: F Scott Sabourin from Los Angeles.

F Michael Keränen from Ottawa.

F David Jones from Calgary.

Traded: F Brett Sutter to Los Angeles.

D Conor Allen to Ottawa.

G Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 6th round pick to Calgary.

UnknownMontreal Canadiens

Acquired: F Stefan Matteau from New Jersey.

Traded: F Devante Smith-Pelly to New Jersey.

UnknownNashville Predators

Acquired: D Corey Potter from Arizona.

Traded: Future considerations from Arizona.

New Jersey Devils LogoNew Jersey Devils

Acquired: 2017 3rd round pick from Colorado.

2017 2nd round pick and 2016 4th round pick from Boston.

F Devante Smith-Pelly from Montreal.

Traded: D Eric Gelinas to Colorado.

F Lee Stempniak to Boston.

F Stefan Matteau to Montreal.

New York Islanders LogoNew York Islanders

Acquired: F Marc-Andre Cliche from Colorado.

F Shane Prince and a 2016 7th round pick from Ottawa.

Traded: F Taylor Beck to Colorado.

2016 3rd round pick to Ottawa.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Rangers

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-2Ottawa Senators

Acquired: D Conor Allen from Minnesota.

2016 3rd round pick from New York (I).

Traded: F Michael Keränen to Minnesota.

F Shane Prince and a 2016 7th round pick to New York (I).

 

Philadelphia Flyers LogoPhiladelphia Flyers

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoPittsburgh Penguins

Acquired: F Matthias Plachta and a 7th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Arizona .

F Dustin JeffreyF Dan O’Donoghue and D James Melindy from Arizona.

Traded: F Sergei Plotnikov to Arizona.

F Matia Marcantuoni to Arizona.

Unknown-3San Jose Sharks

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-1St. Louis Blues

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-1Tampa Bay Lightning

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-3Toronto Maple Leafs

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-1Vancouver Canucks

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Washington Capitals LogoWashington Capitals

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-3Winnipeg Jets

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

November 21 – Day 40 – If you get stuck in an Avalanche, I recommend more than a Jacket

Hey buddy, how’s it going? Oh, first day back at work this week got you down? I know how to fix that: watch hockey.

We’ve got a decent little selection to choose from this evening, starting with three at 7 p.m. (Calgary at Buffalo, the New York Rangers at Pittsburgh and Colorado at Columbus), followed by Tampa Bay at Nashville (TVAS) an hour later. Minnesota at Dallas finds its start at 8:30, with Chicago at Edmonton (SN/SN1) dropping the puck at 9 p.m. Finally, New Jersey at San Jose – this evening’s nightcap – gets green-lit at 10:30 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Colorado at Columbus: Fedor Tyutin spent eight seasons in central Ohio, but returns tonight wearing different colors.
  • New York at Pittsburgh: Last season, these clubs met up in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, where the Pens won in five games.
  • Minnesota at Dallas: Another quarterfinals rematch, but from the Western Conference. Dallas won in six games.

Since Colorado makes only one trip to Nationwide Arena a year, we’ll catch Tyutin’s homecoming.

Unknown-1Columbus Blue Jackets Logo

 

Tyutin joined Columbus during the off-season preceding the 2008-’09 season after being traded by the New York Rangers for Dan Fritsche and Nikolai Zherdev.

While playing for the Jackets, the defenseman notched 185 points in 553 games. Then again, that wasn’t his primary objective. Ohioans remember him most for his physical, selfless play, sacrificing himself 788 times to prevent a puck from finding the net, and another 735 times hurling himself at opposing skaters.

Certainly not quite as momentous, Rene Bourque is also making a return to Columbus. He played 57 games over two seasons with Columbus. Why his return is special will be revealed shortly.

These days, they’re wearing burgundy sweaters – Tyutin  after being the odd-man out in Columbus cap-space moves, and Bourque after not getting his contract renewed. Their Avs are 8-9-0 for last place in the Central Division, due almost entirely to a flailing offense.

Colorado has only managed 36 goals so far this season in their 17 games to average 2.12 per game. Nathan MacKinnon has led the charge (if you can call it that) with 12 points to his credit, but it has been Matt Duchene finishing the plays with six tallies to his credit.

Herein lies the Avalanche‘s first issue: their leading goalscorer hasn’t seen the ice in over a week after suffering a concussion on November 12. This is where Bourque comes in: with five goals to his credit, he is the leading active goalscorer for the club.

Even though defense is what has kept the Avalanche somewhat competitive, they have one fatal flaw: the penalty kill. Successfully nullifying 78.9% of their infractions, Colorado ranks seventh-worst in the NHL. Their poor success rate is due almost entirely to committing too many penalties. The Avs have faced 71 power plays already this year, tying for fourth-most in the league.

The 10-4-2 Blue Jackets play host this season, currently laying claim to fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. That position goes well with their four-game winning streak, which ties with Carolina and Tampa Bay for longest-active in the NHL right now.

They’ve gotten there with strong goaltending. With a .931 save percentage and 2.19 GAA, Sergei Bobrovsky for his 10-4-1 record, ranking sixth and ninth-best in the league, respectively, among the 37 goalies with eight or more appearances to their credit.

What makes Bobrovsky’s efforts more impressive is the fact that the blueline in front of him hasn’t been exactly impressive. Jack Johnson leads the club with 28 blocks.

28.

Let that set in for a minute.

For a team having the success the Jackets are this season, they allow 31.5 shots on the cage per game, the eighth-highest average in the NHL. Should Columbus want to really be a threat this postseason, they’ll need to add something to their defensive corps.

Offensively, Columbus‘ forte has been nothing but their power play. They’ve been successful on 31.8% of their extra-man attempts, tops in the league. Alexander Wennberg has been the man-in-charge on the power play with 10 power man-advantage points to his credit. That being said, it’s been Cam Atkinson completing most of those plays, potting four power play goals.

Some players to keep an eye on include Colorado‘s Erik Johnson (46 blocks [leads the team]) and MacKinnon (12 points [leads the team]) & Columbus‘ Bobrovsky (three shutouts [tied for second-most in the league] of his 10 wins [tied for third-most in the NHL]) and Wennberg (14 assists [tied for the league-lead]).

For the second night in a row, bets are off for our Game of the Day. That being said, I don’t have anywhere near the expectations I had for yesterday’s Florida at New York contest. Columbus should easily handle the visiting Avalanche.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Alex Tanguay (1979-) – This left wing played 16 NHL seasons, most of which with the club that drafted him 12th-overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft: Colorado. He was a part of the 2001 Avalanche team that hoisted the Stanley Cup.
  • Ben Bishop (1986-) – No time to celebrate, this goaltender has a game tonight in Nashville.

It took a shootout, but Florida was able to earn two points in the World’s Most Famous Arena by beating the Rangers 3-2.

Only one goal was scored in the first period, and it brought the home fans to their feet. With 6:45 remaining in the frame, Chris Kreider (Derek Stepan and Marc Staal) buried a wrister to set the score at 1-0.

Third Star of the Game Keith Yandle was the whole reason we featured this game, and he came through in a big way for Florida, scoring (Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov) with 5:17 remaining on a power play slap shot to level the score going into the second intermission.

Only 1:45 after returning to the ice for the final frame, Mika Zibanejad (Mats Zuccarello and Jimmy Vesey) scored for the Rangers, but that lead lasted only 6:09 before Aaron Ekblad (Jakub Kindl and Trocheck) tied the game at two-all, the score that held not only to the end of regulation, but also through the three-on-three overtime period.

  1. Zuccarello went first for New York, but was saved by First Star James Reimer.
  2. Trocheck went next and gave the Panthers a 1-0 shootout lead.
  3. Next up for the Blueshirts was Brandon Pirri, who was also saved.
  4. Barkov ends the shootout for the Panthers with a goal.

Reimer saved 33-of-35 (94.3%) for the victory, forcing Second Star Henrik Lundqvist to take the shootout loss saving 28-of-30 (93.3%).

Florida‘s shootout victory only pulls the road teams back within a dozen points of the home sides, as the DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 24-12-6.

Chayka-ing things up

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-3Since the Arizona Coyotes follow us on Twitter (shouts to you, Coyotes social media department), I’m going to do my best to keep track of some projections for how their players will perform next season.

And since the season’s not even here yet and I’m not quite as organized as I would like to be to formally present these numbers to you, the reader, I’m just going to leave you with a look at how things might go next season for Arizona.

But that’s not all, I’m not just leaving you with one chart for now, but two charts! One is before John Chayka was hired as the Coyotes general manager and the other incorporates all of the moves Chayka’s made since becoming Arizona’s GM.

Just by giving Chayka’s roster a quick glance it is evident that the Coyotes will be much better this season. Continuous improvement among their youth will be evident as they develop in time, but a huge thing for Arizona next season will be the addition of Alex Goligoski on the blue line.

In fact, nearly all of the defensemen that Chayka picked up for the club will have a solid impact on keeping the score close and limiting the amount of work Mike Smith and Louis Domingue have to put in on a nightly basis.  Closing the gap on the scoring differential is essential to give your offense room to grow, if you’re building from the back-out.

Analytics aside, Chayka has made very tactical moves.

The Coyotes model is clear on building up their defense where necessary, while allowing their young forwards to develop. They aren’t rushing to add any young blue liners, but they did draft Jakob Chychrun, so it’s not like it’ll be too long before Arizona inserts a highly coveted, tactical, young defenseman. Besides, Anthony DeAngelo should be good enough for now, in terms of rotating some youth on the back end this year.

Needless to say, the Coyotes won’t be a number one team, but they’ll certainly be a competitive team that’ll be exciting to watch come February and March (and maybe deep into April too). And there’s a good chance a rookie or two could still surprise us all and crack the roster.

A note about my projections: For each stat, I amass the totals of every season in a player’s NHL career onto a spreadsheet in Excel and simply use the Forecast function, so some stats might not line up with one another in the projected outcome (i.e. shots and shooting percentage). Likewise, if I find something cooler than just using Excel, I’ll figure that out and make changes accordingly. For a better look at the charts, I advise that you zoom-in or click on each chart, thanks.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 6.16.13 PM.png
Expected performances for the 2016-2017 season of every player on the Arizona Coyotes 2015-2016 roster (regardless of where they are now).

If last year’s team came back to play this year (above), it doesn’t appear they’d be much different than the current roster (below) heading into the 2016-2017 season, except for the fact that Chayka’s a genius on paper so far (contract wise, in relation to performance, that is).

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 1.54.55 AM.png
Expected performances for the 2016-2017 season of every player currently on the Arizona Coyotes roster (including Radim Vrbata, who signed with the team on Tuesday and made me have to adjust more than I had to at first).

2016 NHL Trade Deadline Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

The Down the Frozen River team quickly recapped all the details of every trade made on the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline as they could in-between classes and things. Our “Deadline Deals” page will be updated with all of this information later in the day for your archiving needs. This post will be updated throughout the day. What is known is shown.

Players and teams are bolded for your convenience/easy recognition and all trades that are pending and/or have not been officially confirmed are italicized.

Last year, 24 trades were made at the deadline. This year, 19 trades were made at the deadline.

The Arizona Coyotes kicked things off at the trade deadline this year by sending F Matthias Plachta and a conditional 7th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for F Sergei Plotnikov.

In the second trade of the day, the Carolina Hurricanes traded G Drew MacIntyre to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for D Dennis Robertson.

F Mikkel Boedker was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. The Arizona Coyotes acquired F Alex TanguayF Conner Bleakley, and D Kyle Wood in return.

New Jersey Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 3rd round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

The Calgary Flames sent D Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars for D Jyrki JokipakkaD Brett Pollock and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

The Boston Bruins acquired D John-Michael Liles from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft5th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and F Anthony Camara.

Boston also sent a 2nd round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and a 4th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to the New Jersey Devils F Lee Stempniak.

The Buffalo Sabres traded F Jamie McGinn to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

F Brett Sutter was traded from the Minnesota Wild to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for F Scott Sabourin.

The Arizona Coyotes traded F Dustin JeffreyF Dan O’Donoghue and D James Melindy to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for F Matia Marcantuoni.

The Montreal Canadiens acquired F Stefan Matteau from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for F Devante Smith-Pelly.

F Marc-André Cliche was traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the New York Islanders for F Taylor Beck.  

The Ottawa Senators traded F Michael Keränen to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Conor Allen.

In another move, the Ottawa Senators sent F Shane Prince and a 7th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to the New York Islanders for a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry.

The Florida Panthers traded F Brandon Pirri to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 6th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

The Anaheim Ducks acquired F Corey Tropp from the Chicago Blackhawks and sent F Tim Jackman and a 7th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in return.

In another trade, the Edmonton Oilers acquired F Patrick Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for D Martin Gernat and a 4th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

G Niklas Backstrom was traded from the Minnesota Wild along with a 6th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to the Calgary Flames in exchange for F David Jones.

The last trade of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline witnessed the Arizona Coyotes trade D Corey Potter to the Nashville Predators for future considerations.

 

 

Viable Trade Options- Part Two- Central Division

By: Nick Lanciani

The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, is your team ready for this year’s fire sale? I take a look at some reasonable ideas for deals, as well as the overall consideration of buying or selling for each team in the league in this month long series. Buyer beware, all sales are final on March 2nd, 2015.

Current Central Division Standings

  1. NSH 78 pts. (36-12-6) 54 GP
  2. STL 74 pts. (35-15-4) 54 GP
  3. CHI 69 pts. (33-18-3) 54 GP
  4. WPG 66 pts. (28-18-10) 56 GP
  5. MIN 59 pts. (26-20-7) 53 GP
  6. DAL 58 pts. (25-21-8) 54 GP
  7. COL 55 pts. (22-21-11) 54 GP

Unknown Nashville Predators (1st in the Central Division, 54 GP 36-12-6 record, 78 points)

The Nashville Predators are having themselves a remarkable season with a healthy goaltender, Pekka Rinne, in their lineup and everyone else playing their position fluidly. Filip Forsberg has been a tremendous surprise as a rookie with 18-30-48 totals in 54 games played. What might be more impressive is that their young defense has been able to step up to the task on most nights.

The Predators are holding up on the injury front, with only Ryan Ellis currently on the injured reserve, and lead the Central Division standings. While last season proved to be a bit shaky, their consistency this year should come as no surprise given their elite goaltending in Rinne and their head coach, Peter Laviolette’s, brilliance.

Nashville, surprisingly, has yet to see a long playoff run, though. This year is no exception to their hunger for more and they could be active in trying to acquire that one last key piece or two in order to perfect their roster and bolster up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then again, the age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could work well for the Predators when it comes to deadline day.

However, going into the stretch run of the season, it might be smart for the Nashville to pick up a depth defenseman or two, as well as a possible depth forward. Especially with the moves their division rival, Winnipeg Jets, have made acquiring Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford- both of which will likely be regular components to their lineup, but in both cases, the Jets added to their plethora of options. That is just about the only thing advisable to the Nashville Predators organization heading into the trade deadline and I’m sure they are already well aware.

Unknown-1 St. Louis Blues (2nd in the Central Division, 54 GP 35-15-4 record, 74 points)

Despite some recent struggles, the St. Louis Blues are rolling along this season. Brian Elliott and Jake Allen have held up strong in goal, Vladimir Tarasenko emerged as one of the league’s most prolific scorers, and their defense has been solidifying their presence on the ice on a nightly basis.

Much like the Nashville Predators, though, the St. Louis Blues could use some depth. We are reaching the point in the season where any injury could make or break your chances of a deep run in the playoffs. With only Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Porter on the injured reserve, the Blues have found a way to remain healthy at this point in the season.

There really are no holes in their roster that contains an excellent mixture of youth and experience, so there’s nothing that immediately needs filling or getting rid of. Sure, Saint Louis could go with this roster moving forward, but I think their best bet would be to try to add without subtracting in order to avoid yet another early playoff exit.

As it is right now, the Blues would be playing the Chicago Blackhawks and I’m pretty certain history would show that Saint Louis wouldn’t fare too well against Chicago. That is why the Blues must focus on depth skaters to combat injury and give them options heading into the playoffs.

Unknown-2 Chicago Blackhawks (3rd in the Central Division, 54 GP 33-18-3 record, 69 points)

The Chicago Blackhawks, in recent years, are annual contenders for the Cup. Their legitimacy is what keeps the rest of the Western Conference teams trembling and stockpiling as much bang for their buck on their rosters.

Currently the Blackhawks are just trucking along in 3rd place in Central Division standings. With a roster that includes superstars, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and (when it really counts) Corey Crawford, how could Chicago A) have any more room for talent and B) be able to keep them all with the uncertainty of next year’s salary cap figure?

Regardless, nothing is plaguing the Blackhawks in the current state of the league. So it comes as no surprise that I don’t expect Chicago to be wheeling and dealing at the deadline. Could they bring in a depth skater or two? Certainly. I think most successful teams looking to make a deep playoff run operate on a basis of trying to get a depth rental player if they can- in order to have a dependable player to fall back on if an injury were to occur.

To summarize, it’s a keep on keeping on mentality in Chicago at this point of the year. As long as they have home ice in the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter where they end up in the standings, although I’m sure they’d prefer to be at the top anyway.

Unknown-3 Winnipeg Jets (4th in the Central Division, 56 GP 28-18-10 record, 66 points 1st Wild Card in the Western Conference)

The Winnipeg Jets have made the biggest splash in both the terms of being a delightful surprise this season, as well as on the trade market so far with the acquisition of Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, and Branden Lemieux from the Buffalo Sabres.

The Jets are currently the first wild card representative from the Western Conference and are situated in a tight battle for the Central Division. With the Buffalo deal, Winnipeg stockpiled on talent and could even still make further moves come March 2nd.

There are no guarantees, but then again, there also doesn’t seem to be that much needed within Winnipeg’s roster (at least on paper). Michael Hutchinson has played some stellar goaltending and the league’s smallest market has certainly been heard all season as one of the loudest voices talking serious about playoff hockey hopes, chances, and a potential run for the Cup.

But cool your jets before you get too far ahead of yourself. While the entire Central Division may be the NHL’s strongest division in the league, only a couple of teams from the division may even advance far enough into the playoffs.

Based on recent playoff experience and success alone, the Jets have a mountain to climb to overcome the playoff dominant Chicago Blackhawks and the annual playoff contending St. Louis Blues, in their division alone. If either team stays quiet on the trade front, then I’d expect Winnipeg to make at least one more move to get them over the hump- and trust me, they’re already getting plenty of calls.

 Unknown-4Minnesota Wild (5th in the Central Division, 53 GP 26-20-7 record, 59 points)

The Minnesota Wild are one of those teams you just got to feel bad for this season. Despite their recent growth in depth and playoff experience, the injury bug continues to plague the Wild organization.

No one is certain what the future in goal holds for Minnesota. How much older can Niklas Backstrom get and still be considered their starting goaltender? Has Devan Dubnyk finally found a stable place to play? And then there’s always Darcy Kuemper and whatever the future brings for his goalie career.

While the Wild might not be able to pull off a deal at the deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them shopping around Backstrom, given his age and the uncertainty of how he’ll hold up, injury wise (one can’t forget his recent injury struggles).

But the problem for Minnesota may not reside in their goaltending. Perhaps their roster could get younger, at least among the forwards. A player like Stephane Veilleux might be expendable enough to bring in something fresh. The Wild have a young, largely unexperienced defensive core and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to take away from it. I tend not to think that Minnesota is in dire need of anything really (much like the rest of the Central Division), however if they could acquire some healthy players, that would be a good thing.

The strength of the Central Division is so strong currently, that if your roster even has one or two players on the injured reserve, you could be in for a dismal season. Minnesota has four players on the injured reserve, meaning that hope is likely gone for this season (by no means, technically, is their season a complete lost cause), but their future may be brighter. I’d expect the Wild to continue doing what they’ve been doing recently- building from free agency.

Unknown-5 Dallas Stars (6th in the Central Division, 54 GP 25-21-8 record, 58 points)

Fans of the Dallas Stars are riding a rollercoaster of emotion for the last couple of seasons. After finally getting back to the playoffs last season for the first time since the Detroit Red Wings knocked the Stars out of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Dallas finds themselves on the outside looking in.

While none of the Central Division teams are mathematically out of contention for a playoff run, the jury remains on recess in the spiritual and realistic manners. Dallas only has two players on the injured reserve currently (Patrik Nemeth and Valeri Nichushkin) and they just acquired some much needed backup goaltending in their trade with Buffalo this week for Jhonas Enroth- finally ridding themselves of the overhyped Anders Lindback.

Yet with stars on the Stars, such as Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Alex Goligoski, and Kari Lehtonen, how is it possible for Dallas to be situated 6th in the division? The answer may reside in their forwards, who surprisingly can provide enough of a spark some nights, but other nights lack consistency.

A player like Vernon Fiddler may be very attractive to a team looking to make a playoff run and would probably fit well with a team like the Washington Capitals or the Pittsburgh Penguins with the way he currently is playing, especially as a valuable second or third liner (something that at least the Penguins could use). Come to think of it, perhaps the Boston Bruins could find a way to fit in a guy like Vernon Fiddler into their roster. Either way, if Dallas is forced to sell at all on the deadline, the phone lines should remain open on Fiddler.

Another forward worth dangling on the fishing line for a potential trade is Erik Cole. The veteran has found a way to find the net again with the Stars and at the very least would bring in a veteran presence to any playoff inexperienced team looking for some locker room stability in the long run.

Last but not least- well, maybe least- Shawn Horcoff is 36 and definitely has got to be on the move from the Stars. The center has proven to be inconsistent and an injury waiting to happen in recent years. If the Stars seek to improve, they’d at least move Horcoff and either Fiddler or Cole for a younger player to compliment the likes of Spezza, Patrick Eaves, and Ales Hemsky in their currently over thirty-years-old lineup.

If the magic works out and the Stars start to go on a tear with their veterans leading the charge up in the Central Division standings, then go ahead and prove me wrong and don’t trade anyone. But if inconsistencies continue to plague the organization, then it might make sense to move on in the right way.

Colorado Avalanche Logo Colorado Avalanche (7th in the Central Division, 54 GP 22-21-11 record, 55 points)

The Colorado Avalanche have taken a page from the book of the Boston Red Sox apparently, as they have gone from one of the worst teams in their division to first in the Central Division last year- back to their current status of last in the division so far this season. Their rise and fall in divisional standings has been one of the most perplexing situations this season.

While injury has troubled last season’s Vezina Trophy finalist, Semyon Varlamov, in goal, surely an offense with the likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jarome Iginla (a thirty goal scorer last season with the Boston Bruins) would’ve be able to compensate for the carousel of goalies earlier in the year and the young defensemen.

Yet, here they are with six players on the injured reserve (Patrick Bordeleau, Jamie McGinn, Borna Rendulic, Jesse Winchester, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Wilson) at the bottom of the Central Division. Johnson’s absence certainly would send shockwaves through the Avalanche’s defensive unit, as it would to any team that loses their number one defenseman for any extended period of time.

Given that Daniel Briere clearly isn’t working out in Colorado, wouldn’t it make sense to try to move him by the deadline in (if not a desperate attempt to save the season) an attempt to bring in some talent youth that could build on whatever success is left in this season for next season? With the Colorado’s plethora of prospects coming up in the rankings, would it be crazy to think that they could work out a deal with Toronto for Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Daniel Winnik (a former Av), or Cody Franson?

Any one of those players would be an attractive option for the Avalanche organization, as well as an attractive destination for Toronto to send some or all of those players. Colorado meets several aspects of the Maple Leaf’s trading partner’s checklist. The Avalanche are a non factor this year, they’re in the Western Conference, and if the Avalanche turn things around at all, while the Maple Leafs continue to fall- the odds are that Toronto would end up with a higher draft pick than the Avalanche.

Among Cody McLeod, John Mitchell, Maxime Talbot, Alex Tanguay, and Jesse Winchester, the Avalanche should only commit to two or three of them. Given that Winchester is currently on the IR, a trade involving an injured player won’t happen. With Talbot having mild success in Colorado, he’s one to keep. Tanguay, on the right line, fits the Avalanche style of play (especially since they are the team that drafted him, after all).

But what kind of offers could the Avalanche get in return for the 30 year old Mitchell, who plays center, but could also probably play wing for a playoff contending team? This has to be something that Colorado is at least willing to listen to. And as great as McLeod has been for the Avalanche as an enforcer, perhaps it’s time for someone younger to step into his role and carry the team’s energetic side.

Jan Hejda, Brad Stuart, or Nate Guenin could be valuable older defensemen for any contending team in search of a depth defenseman or someone to get them to the Cup Finals. But the consequences of trading any of their veteran defenseman could be dire, unless Colorado is able to acquire a veteran defenseman or guarantee a veteran defenseman in free agency.

While the Avalanche aren’t quite in the same position as say the Minnesota Wild when it comes to young inexperienced defensemen, Colorado should continue to tread the waters carefully as Johnson and Wilson get back from injury and the rest of the defensemen develop.

Ultimately, Colorado is faced with the choice to buy or sell. Right now, it looks like they’ll be doing some clearance rack shopping, and used merchandise sales.

Colorado Avalanche 2014- 2015 Season Preview

2014 Offseason
Losses: (Free Agency) D Andre Benoit, F Bryan Lerg, D Matt Hunwick, F David Van Der Gulik, F Brad Malone, F Paul Stastny (Trades) F PA Parenteau (Retirement) G J.S. Giguere

Additions: (Free Agency) F Jesse Winchester, D Zach Redmond, F Ben Street, D Bruno Gervais F Jarome Iginla, D Brad Stuart (Trades) F Daniel Briere

The Colorado Avalanche certainly had a busy offseason, leaving some with mixed feelings. While the addition of Jarome Iginla seems great, it comes with the price of the subtraction of Paul Stastny- who had helped play a key role in the Av’s ultimate defeat to Minnesota in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nathan MacKinnon is ready to lead the second line as a center and the Calder Trophy winner is capable of putting up plenty of points this coming season, but how will he perform as the number two center alongside guys like Alex Tanguay, Iginla, Ryan O’Reilly, or Gabriel Landeskog? Head coach, Patrick Roy, has the flexibility to play around with his top six forwards for the first couple of months.Iggy is back in the Western Conference, something he may prefer, however, how must his game evolve given that a lot has changed in the Western Conference during his short time in the East with Pittsburgh and Boston- that and being on a younger team in general. The Daniel Briere for PA Parenteau trade with Montreal looks like it will be a solid in retrospect, however, Briere is nowhere near the scoring capability that he once was. Strength down the middle might concern the Av’s fourth line, but can be resolved with the addition of Jesse Winchester. Perhaps a bigger question of the Avalanche prospects regards Joey Hishon- is he finally ready for the NHL? If he is, is he the one that fits the missing piece to the puzzle on the third or fourth line? The only thing that concerns Av’s fans with regards to Iginla is whether or not they will be able to realistically make a deep Cup run within his three year contract. Let’s face it, Iginla is nearing the end of his career, and as of right now, Colorado appears to be at least three years out of a potential Stanley Cup.

On the blue line, the Av’s have a solidified defense in Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Brad Stuart, and Jan Hejda, but whether Nick Holden and Nate Guenin can successfully complete the top six defensemen remains to be seen. Despite the success of last season, there are plenty of question marks for the Colorado Avalanche in the 2014- 2015 season. The Av’s have a little flexibility with excess defenseman that could be utilized from Lake Erie, but their depth at the blue line remains shallow in comparison to other teams. However, given the fact that the Avalanche have rid themselves of the Matt Hunwick atrocity, significant gains have been made. A lot of questions will be asked of the Avalanche this season, but with good intentions. Nobody doubts Roy’s- Jack Adams winning- ability to coach, however some may recall the last time the Av’s made the playoffs and the subsequent years in between playoff runs. To get to the top of the league, this young, relatively inexperienced playoff roster must remain a consistent force in both making the playoffs and lasting for longer than a round or two. Failure to make it back into the playoffs this season and the Avalanche organization suddenly looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry Leafs fans). Consistent final bows in the first round and the Av’s will look like the San Jose Sharks (sorry Sharks fans). To win a Cup, a team has to go through a few losses first, but it cannot take forever to do so.

Semyon Varlamov looks to improve on his Vezina Trophy finalist season and will take on more minutes with Reto Berra as his new backup. Quick question, whatever happened to all of that hype about Calvin Pickard? Is he still just a few years off? Varlamov is a clear starter in Colorado, potentially erasing all recent memories of the roulette of goalies and struggles in the crease in the forms of Peter Budaj, Andrew Raycroft (interesting fact, I still have his rookie card somewhere), Brian Elliott (before he was good in St. Louis), Craig Anderson (not that he really struggled, just the team that was in front of him), and whatnot. No matter what anyone says, Berra is a weak backup until proven otherwise. Sure he had that impressive save last year in Calgary, but sometimes it just happens. Regardless, the Avalanche need another year or two of making it into the playoffs and getting to the second round. First of all, they have to avoid the Minnesota Wild; something tells me the playoffs are not kind to the Av’s when they play the Wild. Secondly, the have to see how they can pit themselves up against perennial powerhouses such as Chicago or Los Angeles. Only then will they be ready to take on a Western Conference Final battle and perhaps even a Stanley Cup Finals run. Their number one goal for 2014- 2015 season, though, must be to continue to improve and aim for the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.