The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was announced, a major shakeup in the Board of Governors may be ahead, extensions were signed, Jake Gardiner joined the Carolina Hurricanes and it’s time for our DTFR Podcast season previews (starting with the Pacific Division).
It’s the third day of our 2018 offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams and today kicks off with the Vancouver Canucks.
Nobody expected the Vancouver Canucks to be a mid-pack team in 2017-18 and well, what do you know, they weren’t. The Canucks finished 7th in the Pacific Division this season with a 31-40-11 record and 73 points on the season.
Vancouver was second-to-last in Western Conference standings, behind the Chicago Blackhawks by three points in the standings and just ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.
Chicago was the only team in the Central Division to not reach the 90-point plateau, while Vancouver was one of three teams in the Pacific Division to amass less than 80 points on the season.
Other than that, Vancouver still has two fringe starter/backup goaltenders, 32-year-old Loui Eriksson under contract with a cap hit of $6.000 million through the 2021-22 season and a lack of apparent depth throughout the lineup.
At least Bo Horvat is part of the core and the team has gotten younger (due, in part, to the Sedin’s retiring).
2018 NHL Entry Draft
There’s no reason to sound all doom-and-gloom regarding the Canucks, because they’ve managed to establish a small pool of productive prospects in Thatcher Demko, Michael DiPietro, Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlén.
Another down year can be expected, but there’s plenty of room to grow and turn a lot of heads in 2018-19.
Thankfully, in the deep draft that is the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Vancouver won’t miss out on a decent top-10 prospect with the 7th overall pick as long as General Manager Jim Benning doesn’t mess things up.
It only makes sense that Benning goes with the best available player by the time the Canucks are on the clock– whether it’s (not listed in any particular order) Brady Tkachuk, Oliver Wahlstrom, Evan Bouchard, Quintin Hughes, Adam Boqvist, Rasmus Kupari or Joel Farabee– since there’s no immediate need on the NHL roster that can be filled by a player in this year’s draft.
Pending free agents
What it all comes down to for Vancouver is sticking to the plan. Now is the time to implement more youth with the likes of Demko, Juolevi, Pettersson and Dahlén in expanded or new roles altogether on the NHL club.
However, Demko’s path to stealing a job in net for the Canucks is currently crowded by Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson as 1A and 1B solutions to the fact that Vancouver does not have a true number one, starting goaltender.
Markstrom, 28, has two-years remaining on his current contract with a $3.667 million cap hit. That’s a friendly value for any team that’s looking for a temporary placeholder in net as a low-cost, potentially high-reward, starting goaltender– as long as that team has a defense to limit shots against.
Nilsson, 28, has one-year left on his contract and a $2.500 million cap hit. Again, also a bargain in the grand scheme of things, where top-notch goaltenders run organizations around $7.000 million in cap space.
Both are in their goaltending prime, which is different from a skater’s prime in that it’s usually delayed in comparison by a few years, but neither Markstrom nor Nilsson have shown they are going to get better than their 2.71 and 3.44 goals against averages in 60 and 27 games played, respectively.
That’s not just a case of a bad defense.
Average is still average and below average is still below average. For the Canucks to get better, they almost have to get worse, which sounds horrible to diehard fans, but might not actually be that bad.
Sure, Demko doesn’t have the level of experience that Markstrom and Nilsson have, but for a team that’s truly committed to a rebuild, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let him get more playing time to help bring his NHL game up to speed.
Aside from goaltending, Vancouver has six pending free agent forwards to assess. Three of them (Jussi Jokinen, Nic Dowd and Darren Archibald) are pending-unrestricted free agents and three of them are pending-restricted free agents (Jake Virtanen, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi).
Of their pending-UFA forwards, Dowd should get a callback, while the priority remains on re-signing the 21-year-old Virtanent and 25-year-old Granlund this summer.
Baertschi has only passed the 30-point plateau once in his career, but fills a role as a third line forward that the Canucks desperately need. Anything more than a bridge deal for the 25-year-old forward could come back to bite the organization if his offense doesn’t improve.
Once expected to change the course of Pittsburgh’s blueline, Pouliot was the 8th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and only just played his first full NHL season with Vancouver in 2017-18. Plus/minus aside (he was a minus-22 in 71 games played), Pouliot is worthy of keeping around, so long as Erik Gudbranson is considered expendable.
Stecher, on the other hand, has shown signs of being a puck-moving defender with flashes of a decent transition game, but had 1-10–11 totals in 68 games played as part of a sophomore slump.
While the Canucks may have higher expectations for Stecher, given his homegrown development, Pouliot outplayed his teammate with double the production (22 points).
If Vancouver is serious about moving Gudbranson and convinces Alexander Edler to waive his no-trade-clause for a transaction, then both Pouliot and Stecher have bigger roles and a proving ground to make the most of what should be bridge contract extensions.
The Canucks have a little more than $22 million to work with in cap space this summer.
Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:
Joseph Labate (UFA), Anton Cederholm (RFA), Cole Cassels (RFA), Griffen Molino (RFA), MacKenze Stewart (RFA), Patrick Wiercioch (UFA), Jayson Megna (UFA), Richard Bachman (UFA), Reid Boucher (RFA), Michael Chaput (RFA)
30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.
The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
To recap, here’s all of the protected players:
Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette
Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm
Goaltender: John Gibson
Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder
Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn
Goaltender: Chad Johnson
Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller
Goaltender: Tuukka Rask
Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo
Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen
Goaltender: Robin Lehner
Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan
Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton
Goaltender: Mike Smith
Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen
Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy
Goaltender: Scott Darling
Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews
Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook
Goaltender: Corey Crawford
Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto
Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov
Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov
Columbus Blue Jackets
Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg
Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard
Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky
Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza
Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell
Goaltender: Ben Bishop
Detroit Red Wings
Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg
Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen
Goaltender: Jimmy Howard
Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera
Goaltender: Cam Talbot
Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck
Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle
Goaltender: James Reimer
Los Angeles Kings
Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli
Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin
Goaltender: Jonathan Quick
Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker
Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter
Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk
Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw
Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber
Goaltender: Carey Price
Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen
Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban
Goaltender: Pekka Rinne
New Jersey Devils
Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac
Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson
Goaltender: Cory Schneider
New York Islanders
Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares
Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock
Goaltender: Thomas Greiss
New York Rangers
Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello
Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal
Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist
Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris
Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf
Goaltender: Craig Anderson
Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek
Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning
Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz
Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin
Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz
Goaltender: Matt Murray
San Jose Sharks
Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney
Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Goaltender: Martin Jones
St. Louis Blues
Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko
Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo
Goaltender: Jake Allen
Tampa Bay Lightning
Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos
Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman
Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Toronto Maple Leafs
Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk
Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly
Goaltender: Frederik Andersen
Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter
Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev
Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom
Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson
Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov
Goaltender: Braden Holtby
Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler
Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba
Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck
Welcome to Tuesday hockey, one of the seven best days for the sport in the week. There’s nine games on the schedule this evening, starting with two at 7 p.m. (Dallas at the New York Rangers [SN/SN1/TVAS] and Carolina at Columbus) and Buffalo at Toronto half an hour later. 8 p.m. marks the puck drop of another pair of contests (Ottawa at St. Louis [RDS] and New Jersey at Minnesota), and another pair get underway an hour later (Chicago at Colorado [NBCSN] and Florida at Calgary). The final pair of games – Nashville at Vancouver and Tampa Bay at Anaheim (SN/SN1) – drop the puck at 10 p.m. All times eastern.
- Buffalo at Toronto: It’s the Battle of the QEW this evening, one of the Sabres‘ fiercest rivalries.
- Nashville at Vancouver: For the last three seasons, Yannick Weber played for the Canucks, but he returns tonight wearing a white sweater.
Since I highly underestimated Cody McLeod‘s debut for Nashville, I feel I owe the Predators a feature. Looks like Weber 2.0 is our lucky guy.
After playing the first five seasons of his professional career with the Canadiens, Weber made like a pioneer of old and headed west for brighter futures. He landed in Vancouver before the 2013-14 season.
His first season with the Canucks was not one that turned league heads, but it was important for him personally. He had a goal of proving to Montréal that he was worthy of being kept, and he made that known by notching a then career-high of six goals.
He followed that up in 2014-15 with his most impressive campaign to date, lighting the lamp 11 times and notching a career-best 21 points.
With last season being a significant step back for the defenseman, Weber once again found himself looking for a new club. He found his way to Nashville, where he’s playing on the third blueline pairing and notching a season +8, easily the best mark of his career.
Yannick and his Predators come into tonight’s game with a 20-16-7 record, the fourth-best mark in the Central Division and ninth in the Western Conference thanks to winning their last three games. On the outside looking in, the main concern for the Preds has been their offense that has scored only 118 goals, the 13th-fewest in the league.
Ryan Johansen has been the biggest weapon in Nashville, as he has a team-leading 30 points. That being said, it’s been James Neal that has been the most dangerous to goaltenders with his club-leading 14 goals.
Nashville‘s offensive struggles aren’t for a lack of effort. They’ve averaged 31 shots-per-game, the seventh-most in the NHL. Unfortunately Roman Josi, the man who accounts for nearly three shots per night, has a miserable 4% shot percentage – easily the worst mark of his successful career. If and when he finds his rhythm again, the Preds will surely be able to make some noise as they try to qualify for the postseason.
Playing host this evening are the 20-19-6 Canucks, the sixth-best team in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference, and it’s almost funny that the Canucks‘ last three games have ended as overtime losses.
Just like the Predators, Vancouver has struggled to score the puck this season, accounting for only 107 goals in 45 games – the sixth-worst scoring rate in the league.
Bo Horvat has tried his hardest to keep the Canucks alive in the playoff race, as both his 30 points and 13 goals lead the club. Unfortunately, that goal total only ties for 50th against the rest of the NHL, which is probably most telling of Vancouver‘s situation.
Much of the reason for the Canucks‘ struggles is due to their miserable power play. Successful on only 13.4% of attempts, they rank fourth-worst in the league. Both Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin lead the team with a whopping nine power play points. D. Sedin has been the most dangerous with the man-advantage, as he also tops the club with five man-advantage goals.
The struggles continue on the penalty kill, where the Canucks‘ 79.8% success rate is ninth-worst in the NHL. Even though he’s only played 31 games, Alexander Edler has been the leading shot blocker when down a man, with 18 shorthanded blocks to his credit.
For those like me who are already keeping tabs on the playoff races, this is certainly an important game – if only for a night. The biggest impact occurs if Nashville earns a victory. In that case, they for sure move into eighth place in the Western Conference and surpass Los Angeles for the second wildcard. But, if the Panthers win in regulation in Calgary, the Predators take control of seventh in the conference and the top wildcard.
Although the Canucks can’t move into playoff position tonight, they can certainly continue their climb up the standings. A regulation win moves them past Nashville into ninth place and into a tie with Los Angeles, but the Canucks lose the games played tiebreaker to remain on the outside looking in.
These clubs have only met once so far this season, and it was only a week ago in Nashville. Although the Predators did pull away with a 2-1 victory, they needed to overtime to do it.
Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Nashville‘s Matt Irwin (+15 and 83 hits [both lead the team]) and Johansen (23 assists among 30 points [both lead the team]) & Vancouver‘s Horvat (13 goals among 30 points [both lead the team]) and Nikita Tryamkin (84 hits [leads the team]).
Home ice does not always result in favoritism by Vegas, as Vancouver is the projected underdog a +110. Given the nice run the Predators are on right now, I have to side with the oddsmakers.
- Busher Jackson (1911-1966) – Although he may not have been a role model off the ice, he was certainly one of the better players of his day. The Hall of Famer played 15 seasons in the NHL, most of which in Toronto where he hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1932. By the time his career was through, he had scored 241 goals.
- Jacques Plante (1929-1986) – The man of hockey legend, this goaltender had difficulty keeping control of all the hardware he earned over his career. Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978, he was an eight-time All Star, seven-time Vezina winner (record for the trophy), six-time Stanley Cup winner (all with Montréal) and the 1962 Hart Trophy winner.
- Sylvain Turgeon (1965-) – Hartford selected this left wing second-overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, and he quickly produced. He scored 72 points his rookie season, the second-best campaign of his career. He played most of his dozen seasons with the Whalers and played in one All Star game.
- Jeremy Roenick (1970-) – Everyone’s favorite center-turned-analyst was drafted eighth-overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by Chicago, where he played most of his career. By the time his 20-season career was through, the nine-time All Star had scored 1216 points.
- Aaron Ward (1973-) – Although drafted fifth-overall by Winnipeg in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, he never suited up for the Jets. Instead, this defenseman played most of his 15 seasons in Detroit where he won one of his two Stanley Cups.
If offense is your thing, you missed the game of the season in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day. A combined 15 goals were scored in 60:34 of play, with Conor Sheary earning Pittsburgh an 8-7 victory over the Capitals.
With so many goals, it’s going to be much easier just giving the game summary in list form.
*Warning: Be prepared for an obnoxious second period.*
- 7:06 – Andre Burakovsky (Daniel Winnik) – Caps lead 1-0
- 17:09 – Nicklas Backstrom (T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin) – Caps lead 2-0
- 1:17 – Justin Williams (Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson) – Caps lead 3-0
- 6:28 – First Star of the Game Evgeni Malkin (Trevor Daley and Justin Schultz) – Caps lead 3-1
- 7:12 – Sheary (Second Star Sidney Crosby and Daley) – Caps lead 3-2
- 8:55 – Nick Bonino (Schultz and Phil Kessel) – Tied 3-3
- 13:47 – Bryan Rust (Daley and Olli Maatta) – Pens lead 4-3
- 14:37 – Malkin (Jake Guentzel and Schultz) – Pens lead 5-3
- 15:07 – Brett Connolly (Taylor Chorney and Andre Burakovsky) – Pens lead 5-4
- 16:54 – SH – Third Star Lars Eller (Nate Schmidt and Oshie) – Tied 5-5
- 17:19 – PP – Malkin (Patric Hornqvist and Crosby) – Pens lead 6-5
- 5:55 – Crosby (Sheary and Rust) – Pens lead 7-5
- 9:29 – PP – Oshie (Ovechkin and Matt Niskanen) – Pens lead 7-6
- 14:38 – Eller (Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen) – Tied 7-7
- :34 – Sheary (Crosby and Schultz) – Pens win 8-7
Matthew Murray holds on for the victory after saving 21-of-28 shots faced (75%), leaving the overtime loss to Philipp Grubauer, who saved eight-of-11 (72.7%). He came into the game in relief of starter Braden Holtby, who saved 21-of-26 (80.8%) before being pulled following Malkin’s second goal. Holtby obviously earned no-decision.
In addition to ending their own losing skid and Washington‘s winning streak, Pittsburgh also broke the three-game trend of road victories in the DtFR Game of the Day series. The series record now favors the home squads by five points with their 50-32-14 record.
You did it. You made through your first week back to work after the long holiday. You deserve some hockey.
Fortunately, the NHL has you covered with six contests this evening, starting with two at 7:30 p.m. (Toronto at New Jersey and Nashville at Florida [TVAS]) and Carolina at Chicago (NHLN) an hour later. 9 p.m. marks the puck drop of the New York Islanders at Colorado, followed 60 minutes later by tonight’s co-nightcaps: Calgary at Vancouver and Arizona at Anaheim.
- Carolina at Chicago: Teuvo Teravainen played 115 games over three seasons in the United Center. Tonight, he wears white facing off against his old club.
- Calgary at Vancouver: It’s rivalry night in British Columbia!
As badly as I want to feature the Hurricanes for the first time this season, Teravainen is not enough to pull me away from the rivalry taking place this evening in the ever-tightening Pacific Division.
The Flames relocating from Atlanta to Cowtown in 1980 fulfilled a rivalry that needed only Canada’s best arena to be made complete: a hockey rink. The Rocky Mountains used to be the only thing separating these differing cultural and political hubs of Western Canada, but the NHL has joined Calgary and Vancouver with the opportunity to claim superiority in the most definitive way possible.
Both all-time and as of late, Calgary has had the upper-hand in this matchup. In all regular and postseason meetings, the Flames have a 132-93-26-13 record against the rival Canucks, including a 111-76-26-13 record during the regular season.
Seven times these clubs have met up in the playoffs, and almost every time it has gone the Flames‘ way. Most recently, Calgary won their 2015 Western Conference Quarterfinals series in six games to improve their postseason-series record against the Canucks to 5-2.
Calgary enters tonight’s game on a two-game winning streak and with a 21-17-2 record, good enough for fourth place in the Pacific Division and, more importantly, seventh in the Western Conference. They’ve found that by playing a steady offense, scoring 107 goals – tied for 15th-most in the league.
Fourth-year player Johnny Gaudreau has been at the head of that effort, notching 26 points for the highest mark on the club. He beats Mikael Backlund by a lone point, but the center has something the left wing hasn’t: a dozen goals, the most on the squad by two tallies.
Part of that offensive success is due to a solid power play. The Flames are 10th-best with the man-advantage, burying 20.7% of their attempts. Gaudreau continues his excellent season in this department, with 10 power play points. Similarly, Backlund’s five extra-man goals is also still tops on the team.
Don’t overlook the Canucks this season. Blessed (#blessed?) with a weak Western Conference, 19-18-3 Vancouver sits only a point out of playoff position, thanks in part to their current five-game winning streak. What’s held them back so far this season has been some slightly leaky defense and goaltending that has allowed 115 goals, tying them for sixth-most tallies given up.
Although he’s seen only six more starts than Jacob Markstrom, 11-10-1 Ryan Miller has been the netminder of choice in Vancouver. In 23 starts, he’s notched a .912 save percentage and 2.65 GAA, the 29th-best effort in the league compared to the 47 other goalies with a dozen or more appearances.
While those numbers are far from exemplary, Miller can’t take full responsibility for the Canucks‘ struggles. The defense playing in front of him hasn’t given him much help, allowing 30.5 shots-per-game to reach his crease – tied for the 11th-highest average. It’s not that Vancouver doesn’t have good defensemen. In fact, Alexander Edler, Ben Hutton and Luca Sbisa all tie for the team lead in shot blocks, with 61 to their credit (Edler has been especially impressive, playing only 26 games compared to Hutton and Sbisa’s 40 appearances), tying them for 58th in the league.
Instead, it’s been the other three skaters that haven’t contributed. Combined, Troy Stecher and Nikita Tryamkin have blocked only 64 shots. Chris Tanev gets a pass, as tonight’s game will be only his 18th of the season. When he’s on the ice, Vancouver has an 11-4-2 record.
Now that Edler and Tanev are back on the ice, Vancouver hopes to improve their lackluster penalty kill that ranks 10th-worst after neutralizing only 80.3% of opposing power plays. Even after missing so many games, Edler’s 16 shorthanded blocks are still best on the team by a wide margin.
If I’m Vancouver, I’m more concerned about my power play, or lack thereof. The Canucks are fourth-worst in the NHL with the man-advantage, potting only 13.9% of their opportunities. Both Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have eight power play points to the their names, which is just fine. It’s the fact that who’s scoring the goals – Loui Eriksson, D. Sedin and Brandon Sutter – are predictable. Combined, their 11 power play goals account for 65% of the man-advantage tallies. More skaters need to take responsibility for lighting the lamp, and in doing so, they’ll help increase the numbers of their established scoring stars.
These clubs have already met twice this season, and Calgary already has a slight 1-0-1 advantage. They most recently met two days before Christmas at the Saddledome, where the Flames 4-1. Tonight’s game is the first-half of a home-and-home series that completes tomorrow night.
Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Calgary‘s Chad Johnson (three shutouts [tied for fifth-most in the league]) should he play and Vancouver‘s Bo Horvat (12 goals among 27 points [both lead the team]).
Vegas has given a slight edge to the Flames, putting a +102 next to Vancouver‘s name. I’m going to side with Vegas on this one. Even if the Canucks‘ defense starts to buckle down and prevent Calgary from finding any rhythm, the Flames‘ defense should still be able to prevent their rivals from scoring.
- Dickie Moore (1931-2015) – You know you’re good when you have won the Stanley Cup six times. That’s the case with this Hall-of-Fame left wing, who also has just as many All Star selections. A 12 season-alumnus of Montréal, the Art Ross Trophy collected dust on his mantle, as he won it two-straight seasons with a combined 180 points.
- Scott Ferguson (1973-) – Although undrafted, this defenseman played in seven NHL seasons before calling it quits. Most of that time was with Edmonton, the team that gave him a chance out of juniors. He ended up playing in 201 games for the Oilers, earning 288 penalty minutes.
- Richard Zednik (1976-) – A 10th-round pick by Washington in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing proved to have a very good career given his draft position. Although he played seven seasons with the Capitals, he played most his 745 games with Montréal. He notched 379 points before he took his sweater off the last time.
- Adam Burish (1983-) – Drafted in the ninth round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by Chicago, this right wing played a nine-year career. Spending most of his time with the club that drafted him, he was finally rewarded in 2010 with a Stanley Cup.
With two goals in the third period, the Oilers were able to escape Boston with a 4-3 victory in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.
They got off to a hot start, capped by First Star of the Game Patrick Maroon‘s (Third Star Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) wrister that lit the lamp only 1:08 into the game. That lead lasted only 6:08 before Colin Miller (Austin Czarnik and Torey Krug) leveled the score with a slap shot.
They remained tied until 9:17 remained in the second period. Second Star Patrice Bergeron (David Pastrnak and Kevan Miller) is charged with breaking the draw with a solid snap shot. Just like earlier, that lead did not last long. Maroon (Eric Gryba and McDavid) waited only 3:26 before burying another wrister, once again knotting the game at two-all.
That was the first of three-straight goals by the Oilers. 14 seconds into the final period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Matthew Benning) gave Edmonton a 3-2 lead, followed 8:48 later by Maroon’s hat-trick and eventual game-clinching shot. Edmonton tried their hardest to let the Bruins back into the game, sending both Gryba and Benoit Pouliot to the penalty box to give Boston a five-on-three power play, but David Krejci (Bergeron and Brad Marchand) could only manage one goal on the opportunity.
Edmonton‘s victory sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 46-26-13 in favor of the home sides, who have a 12 point lead over the road sides.
Welcome to the weekend. It’s been waiting for you.
I know you have big plans for these 48 hours, but make sure to make some room for hockey. There’s quite a selection of games today, starting with Dallas at Philadelphia (SN1) at 1 p.m., followed three hours later by Ottawa at Los Angeles (RDS). Five games start at the usual 7 p.m. time (Toronto at Boston [CBC/NHLN], Colorado at Montréal [CITY/SN360/TVAS], Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, Vancouver at Florida [SN] and the New York Islanders at Columbus), trailed an hour later by Nashville at Arizona. The West Coast gets involved at 10 p.m. with Winnipeg at Calgary (CBC/SN) and tonight’s nightcap – Carolina at San Jose – drops the puck half an hour after. All times eastern.
- Toronto at Boston: Everybody loves an Original Six matchup!
- Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay: Last season, it took seven games for the Penguins to best the Bolts in the Eastern Finals.
- Vancouver at Florida: The first five seasons of Erik Gudbranson‘s career was spent in Florida, but since this offseason he’s called British Columbia home.
- Winnipeg at Calgary: Tonight’s contest is the first meeting of the season between these rivals.
Since Gudbranson will only make one trip to the Sunshine State this season – barring an improbable Canucks–Panthers Stanley Cup Finals – we’ll follow Vancouver to the BB&T Center.
Welcome home Gudbranson. The defenseman was the third-overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and he made his NHL debut only a season later. It was a quick introduction to the senior club, as skipping an introductory stop in San Antonio, Florida‘s AHL side.
Gudbranson made an immediate impact on the club, always playing 64 or more games for the Panthers (barring, of course, the 2012-’13 lockout). Over the course of his tenure in Florida, Gubdranson was known as a violent player – the most physical in the dressing room. He threw an impressive 754 hits while playing for the Panthers (the 11th-most among the 484 eligible over that time-span), including a hit season in 2014-15 where he landed 2.8 hits per game.
He also performed his primary duties well, blocking 344 shots before catching a plane to Canada, the third-most for the franchise during his tenure.
He found his way to Vancouver this summer in a trade that included a total of three 2016 draft picks (evenctually becoming Jonathan Ang and Adam Mascherin for Florida and Cole Candella for Vancouver) and Jared McCann joining the Panthers.
He joins a 12-13-2 Canucks club that currently occupies sixth place in the Pacific Division. Much of the reason his team hasn’t found success is not his fault, as it is the offense that has not been producing. Vancouver has notched only 62 goals so far this season, the fourth-fewest in the NHL.
As usual, the Sedins are doing all they can to keep the Canucks alive. Daniel Sedin leads the squad with 18 points, but brother Henrik Sedin is right behind with 17. Bo Horvat joins D. Sedin for the scoring lead, as they both have lit the lamp eight times.
Unfortunately for Vancouver, neither 18 points nor eight goals breaks the top-50 in scoring this season – yet those are the numbers leading their team. That’s not a good sign for the other forwards expected to produce scoring.
Much of those struggles can be attributed to a lackluster power play. Vancouver ties for the fifth-worst power play in the league, converting only 14.1% of opportunities. Once again, who else to lead the Canucks but the Sedins? They both have six man-advantage points for top in the clubhouse, but D. Sedin probably deserves more credit as he has three power play goals.
Impressively, Vancouver has certainly buckled down on their own end when facing the man-advantage. Their 84.9% ties for seventh-best in the NHL, and was led by Alexander Edler and his 10 shorthanded blocks before he broke a finger. The man of the hour is right behind, notching nine for second-most, and has been expected to assume the role Edler left behind.
Playing host this evening are the 12-12-4 Florida Panthers, currently the sixth-best team in the Atlantic Division. Similarly to Vancouver, it has been their offensive struggles that have held them back from greater success. The Panthers have notched only 64 goals this year, tying for fifth-fewest in the game.
Jon Marchessault has been the man in charge of that offense, as he’s notched 19 points this season and 10 goals – already the best mark of his NHL career after only 25 games – to lead the squad. Unfortunately for the Panthers, he has been sidelined for the past week, and his status is unknown for tonight’s game. In his stead, Florida turns to Aleksander Barkov, who has 18 points on his campaign, and the three goalscorers (Aaron Ekblad, Jaromir Jagr and Vincent Trocheck) that tie for second-most goals on the team with six apiece.
If the Canucks‘ power play is bad, the Panthers‘ is much, much worse. They tie for worst in the league, successful on only 13.5% of their attempts. Once again, that was Marchessault’s responsibility before he got hurt, as his seven points and three power play goals both led the team. Florida is left with Barkov (five power play points), Jagr (three goals among five points) and Keith Yandle (five power play points )to pick up the slack while their breakout star is healing his lower-body injury.
Fortunately, the penalty kill has been outstanding, negating 85% of their infractions for the sixth-best mark in the league. Michael Matheson has headed that department with seven shorthanded blocks to his name.
Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Florida‘s Barkov (13 assists [leads the team]) and Trocheck (72 hits [leads the team]) & Vancouver‘s Gudbranson (61 hits [leads the team]) and D. Sedin (18 points [leads the team]).
Vegas has marked Florida a -205 favorite this evening, but I think that’s a little strong given both teams play a similar style. If Marchessault can go, I think the Panthers can win, but without him I think the Canucks can pull off the road victory.
- Rob Blake (1969-) – Los Angeles drafted this defenseman in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, and he played 805 games over 14 seasons for the Kings. He was a member of the 2000-’01 Colorado club that hoisted the Stanley Cup, as well as on the coaching staff for the 2013-’14 champion Kings. His number 4 hangs in the Staples Center rafters for being a seven-time All-Star and winner of the 1998 Norris Trophy.
- T.J. Hensick (1985-) – A 2005 NHL Entry Draft selection by Colorado, he’s appeared in 112 senior-level games. His longest stint in the NHL was in 2008-’09, when he played 61 games for the Avs.
When your first goal of the season is a game-winner, you’re going to have a good night. Ask the Ducks, who beat San Jose 3-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.
Anaheim got the scoring started relatively quickly, as Rickard Rakell‘s (Third Star of the Game Shea Theodore and Corey Perry) wrist shot found the back of the net only 4:44 after beginning play. With 4:54 remaining in the frame, the Ducks doubled their score with a wrister from Second Star Antoine Vermette (Theodore and Nick Ritchie), but Brent Burns (Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski) and San Jose reeled them back in with six ticks remaining in the frame, setting the score at 2-1 going into the first intermission.
The Sharks knotted the score at two-all 8:40 into the second period with a Kevin Labanc (Logan Couture and Joel Ward) snapper, only his third tally of the season. That score held to the end of the frame, setting up an exciting third and final period.
This entire business week has been dominated by the home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series, as their fifth-straight victory gives them an 11-point advantage over the roadies for a 34-19-8 record.
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 Pacific Division Standings
- ANA 83 pts. (38-17-7) 62 GP
- VAN 73 pts. (35-23-3) 61 GP
- LA 70 pts. (29-19-12) 60 GP
- CGY 70 pts. (33-24-4) 61 GP
- SJ 68 pts. (30-24-8) 62 GP
- ARI 47 pts. (20-35-7) 62 GP
- EDM 46 pts. (18-34-10) 62 GP
What could the- 2nd place in the Western Conference- Anaheim Ducks possibly want or do at the trade deadline on March 2nd? The tremendous acquisition of Ryan Kesler in the offseason has flourished in impact with the Ducks. It’s a fresh breath of life in Kesler’s career as he is on pace to better his performance of the last few seasons.
Only Matt Beleskey, Sami Vatanen, and Frederik Andersen are on the injured reserve currently. Beleskey would have been the Ducks most viable asset to move should they have made an offer or seen an offer than would enhance their roster.
There seems to be no sense in worrying about the injured Vatanen as the rest of the defense is solid and Andersen’s injury, while it sets the Ducks back a bit in goal, is certainly not a challenge for John Gibson and Jason Labarbera to handle.
So the only thing that the Ducks really had to do to make their team better was Thursday’s placement of Ilya Bryzgalov on unconditional waivers for the mutual termination of his contract. As long as the Ducks stay healthy and focused, they’ve got great chances of seeing a second or third round (or maybe longer) playoff run.
The Vancouver Canucks have been a pleasant surprise in the Western Conference standings this season. With that said, their place near the top of the Pacific Division podium has come with a bit of a price.
With Ryan Miller out four to six weeks the Canucks are likely to face a bit of shakiness in goal with Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom defending the twine. But Miller isn’t the only injured player on Vancouver’s roster currently.
Brad Richardson, Kevin Bieksa, Frank Corrado, Alexander Edler, and Christopher Tanev are all on the injured reserve with Ryan Miller. The Canucks have faced crushing blow after crushing blow to their defensive aspect of their lineup and would likely seek to acquire a depth defenseman out of fear of more injuries heading into the long run.
Otherwise, in terms of forwards Vancouver could look to move Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian, and Shawn Matthias. Kassian and Matthias are obvious skaters to send elsewhere as Kassian has struggled to live up to anything since being brought in for Cody Hodgson (but then again, Hodgson is practically a fourth liner in Buffalo, so maybe the Canucks won that trade).
Kassian brings some size to any lineup and would be suitable for a fresh start in an organization looking to turn things around, such as the Ottawa Senators or the Toronto Maple Leafs. If Vancouver dealt with Ottawa they could try to get Patrick Wiercioch or Jared Cowen in return, but in either case a package offer would have to make the deal worthwhile for Ottawa, given Kassian’s track record. By no means am I saying that Wiercioch or Cowen are tremendously better, but they are worth more than Kassian alone.
Likewise, if the Canucks struck a deal with Toronto a suitable package offer including Tyler Bozak could favor Vancouver’s chances of getting a deal done. Then again, at this point Toronto might make just about any deal, so why not? The Canucks could use a guy like Higgins as the right kind of a player to sweeten a package deal without damaging their roster too much.
Meanwhile, Vancouver is continuously on the search to find a home for goalies it seems these days. Eddie Lack could be moved at the deadline, although where I am not sure. A Lack for Anders Lindback deal with Buffalo would help solidify the Sabres backup goaltending and wouldn’t be that much of a hassle for the Canucks to send Lindback to Utica if they insist on going with Ryan Miller (once he’s back from injury) and Jacob Markstrom as it appears they do.
In any case, Vancouver must carefully construct without subtracting too much of a good thing. Unlike the past couple of seasons, the Canucks actually have a ray of hope on paper, heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let’s face it, the Los Angeles Kings will find a way like they have since 2012. They’ll find a way to get into the playoffs, they’ll find a way to come out as big winners at the deadline, and they’ll find a way to break the hearts of San Jose Sharks fans- again.
One of the more interesting storylines for the Kings that has settled down a bit heading into the deadline is that of Mike Richards. He’s currently in Manchester (AHL) and wasn’t claimed when he was on waivers, so it’ll be intriguing to see if he ends up traded or not.
But what might be even more perplexing is that one of the variables for the Kings is the future of Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll. Stoll is a pending free agent and unless Los Angeles tumbles down a mountain over the weekend before Monday, then he’s probably not going anywhere. Unless the Kings get an offer they can’t refuse- a younger player, with less of a cap hit, for a longer period of time under contract, potential, and points to prove currently.
Hypothetically, it’d be impossible for the Kings to trade defending Conn Smythe trophy winner, Justin Williams, but it could happen. If a team like the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, or the Winnipeg Jets were offering Los Angeles an offer they can’t refuse, consider him as good as gone (albeit still producing Game 7 miracles wherever he goes). If not, then Williams’s job is safe and secure in LA.
The bottom line is, go back and reread the first paragraph of this little tidbit about the Kings until it sets in and ignore the rest.
The Calgary Flames have been a pleasure to watch this season and it seems like their patient process is has turned into progress and results. Johnny Gaudreau has emerged as one for the rest of the league to keep an eye on while the rest of the team is built on youthful forwards and strength on defense.
Jonas Hiller has provided some much needed stability in net for the Flames and as it turns out Karri Ramo isn’t too bad of a backup either (at least based on his larceny of a save the other day against the New York Rangers).
But for Calgary one thing is certain approaching the deadline, it’s time for life without Curtis Glencross as the organization looks to maintain a grip on the 2nd wild card in the Western Conference. Moving Glencross with the right trading partner could be beneficial to the Flames and help them regain control of third in the Pacific Division, giving them just enough of a leg up on the Los Angeles Kings.
The Flames have been one of the only teams to corral the Kings this season. Whether that translates into the playoffs is yet to be seen, as both teams have got to make the playoffs first. Trading Glencross with a valuable team such as the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, or the Winnipeg Jets would bring in a tremendous return for Calgary.
And perhaps there isn’t a plan for Sven Baertschi in Calgary’s rebuild anymore, so maybe the Flames could dangle him over the competition as a chance to take on a young player who could use a fresh start in different scenery. A combination of Glencross and Baertschi in a package deal with Buffalo for Chris Stewart and some other asset could be all the Flames need in the long run for a decent playoff run to build off of in the coming seasons.
Regardless, I’m glad to see at least one team in Alberta is heading in the right direction.
The San Jose Sharks have been turning things around from some low parts of the season, however, things have to improve in order to actually get better. Los Angeles is starting to heat up as they always tend to do at this point in the year and that annoys Sharks fans deeply. It’s not that the Sharks haven’t been able to maintain in years past during the regular season, but it is that the floor falls out from underneath them when it comes time for the playoffs.
Given the ultimate disappointment of last year (Los Angeles came back from being down three games to none in the series to eliminate San Jose in seven games- sorry to remind you Sharks fans) it’s no surprise to see that this year’s roster has a bit of a different look to it.
San Jose has done a respectable job of building from within and quietly adding versatile pieces to their roster, but it’s time for more than just a minor deal at the deadline to supplement the Sharks in the long run.
The Sharks are a young team and I get that, but some of their young “talent” isn’t working out and could be moved. Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins have largely been underperforming for the Sharks when they need it the most. A fresh opportunity for Kennedy and Desjardins would likely benefit both San Jose and the club they trade with.
I won’t discredit the value of Kennedy or Desjardins as both players would be vital depth forwards for playoff bound or playoff seeking candidates, such as the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, or the Vancouver Canucks. James Sheppard could become an expendable asset for San Jose is they are offered something worthwhile, if they decide to move either just Kennedy or Desjardins.
On defense, San Jose could move Scott Hannan given the substantial interest in older defenseman for teams looking to make a push for the playoffs or a deep playoff run, yet that would leave the Sharks with their next oldest defenseman, Brent Burns, becoming their oldest- at only 29 years old. Then again, the Sharks could try to move Hannan for a depth defenseman older than thirty but younger than thirty-six.
The bottom line is that maybe San Jose doesn’t have to move Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton after all (or at least, not yet).
The Arizona Coyotes have nothing-attractive going for them. Plain and simple they’re playing ugly hockey given where they are in the standings. They haven’t hit Edmonton Oilers hockey- oh wait, they’re only a point ahead of them.
The Coyotes will undoubtedly be sellers at Monday’s trade deadline with the rest of the league chomping at their bits over Antoine Vermette, Zybnek Michalek, and Keith Yandle. Arizona has the right parts and pieces to control the asking price and drive up competition among teams aiming at landing the solid third liner, Vermette, and or shut down defenseman Yandle or Michalek.
If Vermette and Chris Stewart are the hottest commodities available on the trade market this year, then that doesn’t reflect too well by any means. However, Vermette could at least be promising as rental player for any playoff looming organization.
Vermette has drawn interest from the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, and Colorado Avalanche. The least likely of those teams to land Vermette in the short run between now and the end of this year is Colorado. However, if the pending unrestricted free agent decides to test the waters of free agency, then by all means, throw the Avalanche back into consideration on July 1st.
Boston, New York, and Detroit have assets to offer in return, with perhaps all three teams also taking an interest in a package deal that includes either Michalek or Yandle. However, Montreal could steal the deal of the day for the second year in a row at the deadline if they landed Vermette in a move similar to their acquisition of Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders last year.
If the Coyotes are at all to be like the Toronto Maple Leafs, then they would not be open to sending any player to a Western Conference team, perhaps ruling out Anaheim’s hopes.
As for Michalek and Yandle, had Los Angeles not acquired Andrej Sekera on Wednesday the Kings would have been more inclined to be on the hunt for a Coyotes defenseman. With that, many teams in the Eastern Conference, especially, are looking to bring in talented blueliners. Boston, Montreal, New York, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington, Florida, Ottawa, and the New York Islanders could all be looking for fresh defenders.
But in reality, aside from moving Vermette, Michalek, and Yandle, Arizona should look to dump a player like David Moss, Martin Erat, or Lauri Korpikoski for a younger forward that could bring a little rejuvenation to the roster.
And perhaps the Coyotes could be on the charge for a backup goaltender, with the likes of Eddie Lack potentially being shopped around by the Vancouver Canucks. In any case, Arizona has a long road ahead both on the ice and off the ice still.
It is clear that nothing is working in Edmonton. It is also clear that something needs to be done. Jeff Petry, Derek Roy, and Viktor Fasth are all options to trade at the deadline for the Oilers.
Petry could be moved to a team like Detroit, Tampa Bay, Montreal, or Pittsburgh with the target of a prospect and a draft pick in return for the Oilers. Roy could fit in with a team like the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, or (would it be crazy to think) the Chicago Blackhawks. And Fasth could be a quick short term fix for the New York Rangers behind Cam Talbot while Henrik Lundqvist is out with an injury.
But as for the rest of Edmonton’s roster…
Boyd Gordon, Jordan Eberle, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Hamilton, Matt Hendricks, Benoit Pouliot, and Nail Yakupov are all forwards that could be relocated. Edmonton needs to rid themselves of the God awful Matt Hendricks.
One would think that Edmonton would recognize a bad player if the saw one, but they have Hendricks in their lineup. Gordon and Pouliot were failed attempts at bringing in the wrong kind of experience and veteran leadership in the locker room (just because Pouliot had a great playoff run last year with the New York Rangers doesn’t actually mean he’s good). And Eberle, Gazdic, and Yakupov are all young players that if Edmonton had to, they could move in a package for some tried and tested hockey ability.
Overall, the Edmonton Oilers are a mess that is beyond me. Frankly, I’m not sure what they need to do, other than burn everything to the ground and start over. The front office has messed up as many times as their players do on a nightly basis, and coaching is just left in the middle of it.
Good luck Edmonton.