Nick and Connor breakdown the news and notes from the latest week in the NHL leading up to the 2018 NHL All-Star break. Mike Smith is going back to the All-Star Game and we’re celebrating with #DTFRMissionAccomplished.
The Original Trio reunite for a very fun-filled podcast. The Carolina Hurricanes were sold, Jaromir Jagr is soon to be unsigned, All-Star Rosters were scrutinized, US and Canada men’s national teams were analyzed and more in this action packed episode. #HealthBeforeHockey
Nick and Connor discuss the hullabaloo regarding the fallout of the Ottawa Senators and whether or not they should trade Erik Karlsson (thereby tanking and rebuilding). A quick look around California reveals contenders and pretenders, while All-Star talent and rookies are also reviewed.
Nick and Connor recap the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series, talk transactions and go long about the Boston Bruins. Additionally, the guys discussed the Radko Gudas incident and never actually say how much time he should be sitting out for his shenanigans.
The Down the Frozen River crew takes a look at the impact of the 2016 All Star Game, John Scott, Connor McDavid, and NHL.com’s rebrand. Oh, and, Nick totally meant John Tavares when he said Jonathan Toews early in the podcast. Stay tuned for more next week, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.
Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!
By: Nick Lanciani
Granted, I’m always excited to watch a game and for new seasons to begin, but am I not the only one who is excited for this offseason? The high quality playing talent might not be on the market, but just about everything else will be and this is great for people like me that like to talk about all aspects of hockey. Plus it gives me something to write about and things to consider discussing in future podcasts, but that’s beside the point.
Second Round Bore
Yes last second goals are exciting; no 2-0 and 3-0 series leads for everyone are not. (Okay fine, I know that Calgary finally decided to make things interesting, for now and technically the Rangers and Capitals series is now going to a Game 6, but for the lack of a better part, things have been one sided across the Second Round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs).
Anaheim has been a dominant force in the Ducks versus Flames series. The Capitals and Rangers have had low scoring games that have shown puck possession domination and lots of zone time for Washington. Tampa Bay nearly blew Montreal out of the water and for God’s sake, Chicago went all Chicago on the Minnesota Wild and swept them.
Calgary’s quick methods of scoring in Game 4 proved to be something that they might be able to maintain in the series against the Ducks considering how they came back to win Game 3 as well, it’s not crazy to think that if they can respond to Anaheim’s strong roster and presence in the playoffs so far in Game 5- there will at least be a Game 6.
Then again, in keeping with the dominance trend of this round, the Ducks can’t be stopped on home ice. Thanks for trying Calgary, you were great to watch and will probably be making a long run in the playoffs within the next few seasons if you keep it up.
For a team that added so much talent around the trade deadline and went on a rampage to the top of the league standings, laying claim to this year’s President’s Trophy title, the New York Rangers have been pathetic in offensive production in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They should know from last year, you can’t win the Cup if you can’t score goals. Or defend 2-0 leads, but at least Los Angeles isn’t in the playoffs this year to ruin New York’s hopes and dreams.
Instead, Braden Holtby, and the Washington Capitals look to do that. In somewhat anticlimactic fashion, given the oddities of every game in that series so far, might I add.
The Lightning have manhandled the Canadiens, with the exception of Game 4. But for all intents and purposes, the Bolts look like they will wrap this up before a Game 7 becomes necessary.
Front Office Changes, Peter Chiarelli, Ray Shero, and the Boston Bruins possibilities
Peter Chiarelli instantly makes the Edmonton Oilers better. Drafting Connor McDavid makes them even better and actually provides a speck of hope for the future of that organization. Chiarelli’s familiarity with some of the guys on the Oilers roster, such as current Edmonton captain and former Bruin, Andrew Ference, as well as former Boston forwards, Matt Fraser and Benoit Pouliot, will at least provide Chiarelli an opportunity to ease into the organization with comfort.
Edmonton’s outlook is finally hopeful. While they might not make the playoffs again next season, there’s a good chance they’ll make it in 2017. McDavid will have had a little time in the league and the attractiveness of Chiarelli as a GM (and the front office he puts together) will bring talented players to the Oilers organization in free agency. Assuming Chiarelli keeps up his recent trend of drafting well, Edmonton will finally have a foundation to build on in their minor league affiliates.
As long as Chiarelli can operate his strategies and tactics that worked well in Boston with Edmonton in the Western Conference, where the style of hockey tends to be radically different from the Eastern Conference currently, then he will have great opportunities for freedom to do as he pleases with the Oilers reigns.
In New Jersey, Ray Shero brings quality expertise as a general manager for the New Jersey Devils. The architect of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup Championship is poised to make a quicker than expected turnaround out of the rebuilding Devils organization.
Shero understands that a team needs a mix of youth and veterans on a roster and will clearly have enough cap space to work with to attract the best that he can from free agency. Shero also has assets to trade, unlike Chiarelli in Edmonton, where other teams might be weary of what they’re getting in return.
A team looking for a veteran to complete their third line in an effort to make a deep playoff run, and successful regular season, would easily poke around at New Jersey’s roster for options. While he might be a shell of his former self, Michael Ryder comes to mind as someone that could use a fresh start in an organization that doesn’t expect that much from him, but just enough, and is looking for a long run.
Last but not least, the Boston Bruins are narrowing down their selection for their next general manager. It is rumored that Jeff Gorton and Don Sweeney are leading candidates for the position, especially after New Jersey hired Shero.
Gorton was a former assistant GM for the Bruins and had a stint as the interim GM in between the firing of Mike O’Connell and the hiring of Peter Chiarelli, in 2006. And yes, technically it was Gorton’s genius in the execution of the Andrew Raycroft for the rights to Tuukka Rask trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry Toronto).
While a return for Gorton to Boston would be pleasing for everyone involved with the organization, the New York Rangers have not let him speak to the Bruins for the open general manager position. Gorton is for now and likely will continue to be, the assistant GM for the Rangers.
So what’s realistically going to happen, unless an unnamed individual appears out of nowhere, is the promotion of current Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney to the position. Sweeney already has an inside track of knowledge within the organization and is more than capable of taking control of the upper management decisions, having served as the assistant GM since July 2010.
It’s not a matter of who the Bruins hire to be their next general manager, but rather what do they do with their current roster that has clearly lost some of its touch. While the core of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and David Pastrnak won’t be disturbed, questions remain around forwards Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith, Chris Kelly, and defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller.
The Bruins look to resign Carl Soderberg and should definitely pass on resigning Matt Bartkowski, but as to whether they need to move Lucic, Smith, Kelly, Seidenberg, or Miller for some asset remains to be unsolved.
Todd McLellan, Mike Babcock, Craig Berube, Dan Bylsma, Guy Boucher, and possibly Claude Julien all could be actively in the market for a new head-coaching gig. And hey, Paul MacLean and his glorious mustache is still out there too.
McLellan has been interviewing with the Edmonton Oilers, who have in fact, have even spoken with the coach they just fired. While Edmonton is a prime fit for McLellan if he is looking to remain in the Western Conference, he might be better suited for an Eastern Conference team in need of something to anchor the development of their players for even a few seasons, say the Buffalo Sabres or the Philadelphia Flyers for example.
Babcock is free to speak with anyone, given he’s at the end of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings. There is high speculation that he will end up in Toronto, and quite frankly, that might be the best fit for him. If the Maple Leafs can’t move Dion Phaneuf or Phil Kessel and continue to have disgruntled players on their roster, maybe Babcock can calm things down.
He can’t turn them into Cup winners in one season, but he can make a methodical procedure work for even the annual laughingstock of the NHL. If not, expect Edmonton, Buffalo, and other bottom feeders to be all over him. Realistically, he could deny them all and go to Philadelphia where things are just enough in shape to get better a lot sooner, if he doesn’t have the patience for Toronto.
The now ex-Flyers head coach, Craig Berube, is destined to end up with a team. San Jose, Buffalo, or Edmonton seem like he might make a good fit behind the bench and in the locker room. The Sharks could be Berube’s best fit, given their similarity to Philadelphia in that both teams have an array of youth and veterans that are capable of making the playoffs, but missed out this year.
Two coaches that might be making returns (and thereby playing spoiler this offseason) are Dan Bylsma and Guy Boucher. Bylsma has previously worked with Ray Shero in Pittsburgh and could end up back under his authority in New Jersey, however the Devils look to be set on keeping Adam Oates or Scott Stevens on board. Boucher on the other hand, is looking for a fresh start after having last been fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013. He most recently served as the head coach of SC Bern of the Swiss National League A and is signed on through their 2015-2016 season- pending the terms of that deal, he could attempt to jump ship.
Finally, as the Bruins near a decision on their next GM, it looks as though Claude Julien’s job is safe. Although there are a few names floating around for Boston’s next general manager, all signs are pointing towards Don Sweeney landing a promotion and Julien remaining in charge on the bench. But to think, the Bruins could have participated in the roulette of talented coaches if they wanted to- not that Julien isn’t already highly talented at what he does.
When others were on the witch-hunt for Chiarelli and Julien after the Bruins missed the playoffs this year, I sat back with a realistic view on things. You can get rid of one and that’ll be okay. It’ll hurt, but it’s manageable. Again, what really needs a second look is Boston’s roster and I’m sure they know that.
And oh yeah, this year’s draft is still one of the most hyped up Entry Drafts in a long time, so there’s always that to look forward to.
IMAGE: “Stanley Cup Playoffs logo” via NHL.com
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.