Tag Archives: Bob McKenzie

DTFR Podcast #134- Slinging First Round Picks

The Board of Governors meeting gets underway next week involving the Seattle expansion vote, Bill Peters took a puck to the jaw and Rick Middleton and Vic Hadfield are having their numbers retired this week.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes made another trade with each other, Karl Alzner is being Wade Redden’ed, Ron Hextall got ousted as the Philadelphia Flyers GM, the Buffalo Sabres win streak reached double digits and the Winnipeg Jets brought back their Heritage Jerseys.

Nick and Connor also encourage all of Long Island to go to the New York Islanders game at NYCB Live (it’s the Nassau Coliseum) this week and quickly plan a hopeful trip to see Sporting KC play in Atlanta.

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DTFR Podcast #129- Top Line Stars

Nick and Connor talk Alex Tuch’s extension with the Vegas Golden Knights, superstars Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, as well as Charlie McAvoy extension options, the New York Rangers, Boston’s first line vs. Colorado’s top line and the week’s biggest matchup.

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DTFR Podcast #124- 2018-19 Pacific Division Season Preview

Erik Karlsson finally got traded, NHL 19 came out and our official 2018-19 Pacific Division Season Preview just so happened to be this week too. Nick and Connor place their bets on the San Jose Sharks and more.

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Boston Bruins 2018-19 Projected Lineup

If you wait long enough into the summer things start to look more concrete– until you really look at the nitty gritty.

The 2017-18 Boston Bruins were ahead of schedule. They exceeded expectations. They weren’t even supposed to have the kind of season they had until at least this season or next season (if that makes sense), depending on how you broke down General Manager Don Sweeney‘s master three-year plan.

Like everything, however, this offseason has had some ups and downs.

Without getting too much into the nonsensically named (okay, it was named after some videogame, read Bob McKenzie’s book Hockey Confidential— shameless plug) advanced stat “PDO”, let’s just say that whenever a team does really well for a season, they usually come back to reality the following season.

Hockey logic has indicated this in the past, what with the Chicago Blackhawks almost evenly spaced out Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015 (notice, 2011, 2012 and 2014 did not result in Cups– kind of makes you think)– let alone all of hockey history.

A long season, while rewarding with a championship run (sometimes), is a grind.

Not trying to be Debbie Downer here, but let’s just try to look at things with a slice of realism for this season especially.

Last season they were “too young, too, too young”, but they amassed 50 wins and made it to the Second Round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season they’re more experienced, but with an unknown and untapped source of depth in both their free agent signings and expected rookie debuts and sophomores.

Gone are Tim Schaller and Riley Nash— two quality bottom-six forwards who left for Vancouver and Columbus respectively in July. In their place we find Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom. Lateral– but necessary– moves.

The expectations coming into Schaller and Nash’s two-year deals in the 2016 offseason were that they’d contribute in some way, but nobody could predict Schaller becoming a legitimate fourth liner and Nash amassing 41 points (a career best) in a contract year.

While Wagner and Nordstrom aren’t your bottom-six fan favorites yet, they share similar parallels of the unknown and are expected to rise to the occasion– whatever that may be as Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will see fit.

Wagner’s your tough guy and Nordstrom’s a solid penalty killer. The latter will likely see some time with Sean Kuraly on a PK-unit a la Nash and Kuraly from this past season.

Also departed this offseason are defenseman, Nick Holden (signed with Vegas), and goaltender, Anton Khudobin (signed with Dallas).

In their place the Bruins signed blueliner John Moore and backup netminder Jaroslav Halak.

Moore’s five-year deal may seem like a bit much, but at $2.750 million per season, he’s making as much as Adam McQuaid for likely a bottom-pair role that’ll transform into McQuaid’s replacement, should Sweeney look to move the career-long Boston defender or not re-sign him in July 2019.

Despite being one-year older than Khudobin, Halak is an upgrade as a stable backup goaltender who’s numbers should improve in a more limited role with a better group of skaters in front of him than his now former New York Islanders teammates were the last few seasons.

Pointless arguments can be made all day (Halak is better than Khudobin), but let’s move on with the actual lineup projection, shall we?

Actually, let’s digress for another moment. Rick Nash remains undecided about whether or not he’d like to return to the game, so that could always mess everything up.

Anyway, here’s a look at how the Boston Bruins 2018-19 lineup should shape up:


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Forward Line 1

63 Brad Marchand — 37 Patrice Bergeron — 88 David Pastrnak

Isn’t it obvious? The best line in the NHL from 2017-18 rolls right into 2018-19 intact with the same level of chemistry as before. Sure, you could spread out the points a bit by putting Pastrnak on the second line with David Krejci, but you really don’t have to unless you’re looking to shake things up a bit from time to time.

Boston’s first line is set for at least the remainder of Patrice Bergeron’s existence– ignoring contracts altogether. Brad Marchand is inseparable from Bergeron and Pastrnak has joined that royalty in his own right, as he continues to emerge as a star.

Forward Line 2

74 Jake DeBrusk — 46 David Krejci — 10 Anders Bjork/17 Ryan Donato

Jake DeBrusk and Krejci go together like Milan Lucic once did on the Czech center’s left side. Except there’s a bit of a difference in DeBrusk’s game– it’s more offensive. The bigger question on Boston’s second line shouldn’t be “what top-six forward will they try to acquire to fill a ‘hole'”, but rather “who will win the job between Anders Bjork and Ryan Donato?”

For the sake of testing things out in the wake of Bjork’s return from a season-ending injury in 2017-18, Cassidy could insert No. 10 on the second line. Then again, if the Bruins are set on giving Donato a big-time role for a full season, well, then it’ll be Bjork sliding down to line three or line four.

Donato could be like Pastrnak once was early in his development and be sent to Providence for some seasoning in his game and offensive capabilities at the professional level. However, one difference between Donato’s development and Pastrnak’s development is that Donato stood out on an Olympic level, not just in an international World Junior Championship competition.

But if you’re looking to give props to Pastrnak, it’s worth mentioning (albeit due to international/minor league transfer rules) that No. 88 in black and gold went pro before Donato while No. 17 in the spoked-B finished his bona fide duties at Harvard University.

Or just to mess everything else up, perhaps Bjork starts 2018-19 with a stint in Providence.

Forward Line 3

43 Danton Heinen — 52 Sean Kuraly — 42 David Backes

Whoever doesn’t win the second line right wing job (Bjork or Donato) should likely end up on the third line in Boston alongside Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly. Kuraly, you say?

Yes, Kuraly will be tested out as a third line center as had been planned since he was part of the Martin Jones trade with the San Jose Sharks. Just how far will his bottom-six forward potential go? Time well tell and the time is now.

Otherwise Joakim Nordstrom slides right into Riley Nash’s old job much like how he’s already slid into the No. 20 sweater in the Hub.

Forward Line 4

14 Chris Wagner — 20 Joakim Nordstrom — 55 Noel Acciari

Then again, if Bjork or Donato slide just enough, they might end up taking a job from Noel Acciari on the fourth line. Or just maybe Sweeney can console armchair GMs enough with some level justification for having Backes on the fourth line at $6.000 million per season through the 2020-21 season.

For fans and armchair GMs alike that like a lot of hitting, Chris Wagner is your man. He’s basically the new Matt Beleskey, but without the expectations that ran rampant after Beleskey’s incredible 2015 Stanley Cup Playoff run with the Anaheim Ducks.

Otherwise, it’s pretty much status quo on the fourth line, despite some new faces in Wagner and Nordstrom– provide a spark. Whatever that is.

Defensive Pair 1

33 Zdeno Chara — 73 Charlie McAvoy

Zdeno Chara wants to play forever (basically) and Charlie McAvoy is the closest thing Bruins fans have seen to a modern-day Ray Bourque in his development and potential.

On a serious note, Chara intends to play for at least another four years (by then he’ll be 45) and signed a one-year extension (at a $5.000 million cap hit) this spring for the 2018-19 season. McAvoy, on the other hand, seeks to continue his rise to stardom on the blue line moving on to his sophomore season.

Defensive Pair 2

47 Torey Krug — 25 Brandon Carlo

There’s an impetus among armchair GMs to trade Torey Krug for a second line wing and/or other assets, but the fact of the matter is Sweeney and Co. have no legitimate rush to move on from Krug. He might be their biggest piece of trade bait for speculative purposes this season, yet he’s also still part of the top-four defensive core in Boston.

Meanwhile, Brandon Carlo looks to rebound from a bit of a sophomore slump in which he failed to score a goal. Carlo and Krug had a chemistry that– at best of times– worked well in 2017-18. Like any defender, though, mistakes are usually noticeable, because there’s a puck in the net behind them.

Defensive Pair 3

27 John Moore — 86 Kevan Miller

You’re not going to pay John Moore $2.750 million for the next five seasons to not play him, whereas a guy like Matt Grzelcyk or Brandon Carlo could be at risk of becoming a healthy scratch– and that’s assuming Adam McQuaid who also has a $2.750 million cap hit this season already will be a healthy scratch most nights.

In the meantime, Kevan Miller has solidified himself as the 5th or 6th defenseman in Boston– for his physicality and impressive play alone– and could further take on McQuaid’s fighter role this season as a deterrence from the waning role of the enforcer around the rest of the league.

Extra Skaters

48 Matt Grzelcyk, 54 Adam McQuaid

Following suit with last season, Grzelcyk will have to win his full-time role out of the gate once again, while McQuaid’s future status with the organization remains cloudy past 2019. So cloudy, in fact, that he’ll be a pending-UFA as of July 2019.

In the system

Zach Senyshyn (potential second line RW/bottom six contender), Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (bottom six contender), Jesse Gabrielle (fourth line option at camp), Trent Frederic (bottom six contender), Jack Studnicka (bottom six contender at camp), Jakub Zboril (bottom pair defensive contender), Jeremy Lauzon (bottom pair defensive contender), Zane McIntyre (backup goalie contender at camp), Dan Vladar (backup goalie contender at camp)

Goalies

40 Tuukka Rask

Tuukka Rask is your starting goaltender as he has been since Tim Thomas decided to take a gap year (and was subsequently traded to the Islanders). There is no goaltending controversy, though Jaroslav Halak should provide more consistency in net on the night’s Rask gets to rest.

In addition to finding the right mix of rest and play, fewer shots against for the third consecutive year since facing a career high 2,011 shots in 70 games in 2014-15 has helped Rask’s focus throughout the season as the Bruins look to go further as a team.

You win and lose as a team– not solely as a goaltender.

41 Jaroslav Halak

Yes, Anton Khudobin bounced back from a disappointing 2016-17 season to an exuberant 2017-18 season, but let’s get this clear– he’s a backup. Khudobin bounced around a bit from the NHL to the AHL and back again in 2016-17, posting a 2.64 goals against average and .904 save percentage in 16 games played.

He then had a 2.56 GAA and .913 SV% in 31 games as Boston’s backup in 2017-18, which was good enough for his third best season in GAA and SV%, dating back to his first real taste of being a backup NHL goaltender in 2012-13 with Boston (Khudobin appeared in seven NHL games from 2009-12 with Minnesota and the Bruins in dire situations).

The thing here is a 2.56 GAA is not starting netminder material, no matter how you break down Khudobin’s overall improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18.

In the meantime, Jaroslav Halak is poised for career-reset. He’s got a change of scenery from Brooklyn to Boston and with that he won’t be playing in nearly as many games.

Halak had a 3.19 GAA and .908 SV% in 54 games as New York’s starting goalie, keeping in mind the Islanders suffered a lot of injuries on the blue line last season. He also nearly doubled his workload from a dismal 2016-17 (28 games played) to 2017-18 (54 GP).

In 2015-16, Halak had a 2.30 GAA and .919 SV% as the Islanders backup netminder in 36 games played. Khudobin, on the other hand, appeared in nine games for the Anaheim Ducks that season, amassing a 2.69 GAA and .909 SV% before being sent down to San Diego (AHL).

The moral of the story here is that the Bruins have been about giving backups second chances in recent history, whether that’s Chad Johnson, Jonas Gustavsson, Khudobin and now Halak– they’re willing to take that gamble.

Okay, end Halak vs. Khudobin rant.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #95- Call The Ex-Sturm-inator

Nick and Connor recap the 2018 trade deadline, 2018 Winter Games and 2018 overall even though it’s only March. Marco Sturm is worthy of an NHL coaching job, but will anyone take the risk? Hint: They should. Also, more thoughts on the Erik Karlsson saga.

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TRADE: Flyers add depth in net, acquire Mrazek from Red Wings

After losing both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth to injury, the Philadelphia Flyers were looking to do something to help them down the stretch.

On Monday night, the Flyers acquired G Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a conditional 4th round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional 3rd round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Detroit retained 50 percent of Mrazek’s salary in the trade.

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The conditions on the picks involved are as follows:

If Philadelphia makes the playoffs and Mrazek wins five games for the Flyers in the regular season, then the 4th round pick in 2018 becomes a 3rd round pick. If the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and Mrazek wins six playoff games, the 3rd round pick becomes a 2nd round pick.

If Philadelphia re-signs him, Detroit receives a 2019 3rd round pick from the Flyers.

Or as TSN’s Bob McKenzie so wonderfully put it after reporting the conditions on the draft picks involved:

download-1Mrazek, 26, had an 8-7-3 record in 22 appearances with the Red Wings this season for a 2.89 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.

He spent the last two seasons playing in the majority of games for Detroit after unseating current starting goaltender for the Red Wings, Jimmy Howard, from the number one spot in goal and had a career best 2.33 GAA and .921 SV% (in at least 10 games played) in 54 games played in 2015-16.

The native of Ostrava, Czech Republic is back in a backup goaltender role after amassing a career worst 3.04 GAA and .901 SV% in 50 GP last season for the rebuilding Red Wings. In 150 career NHL games, he has a 72-58-20 record with a career GAA of 2.60 and .912 SV%.

He won a 2013 Calder Cup championship with Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins and appeared in three career Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2016 amassing a 1.36 GAA and a .945 SV%.

Mrazek was drafted by Detroit in the 5th round (141st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and is a pending-RFA this July.

This trade comes as no surprise for the Flyers as they look to maintain momentum down the stretch and make the playoffs for the first time since 2016 with both Elliott and Neuvirth injured and out of commission.

Since Detroit retained 50% of Mrazek’s salary, the goaltender will only carry a $2.000 million cap hit for Philadelphia through the end of the season.

The Red Wings are expected to move forward with Jared Coreau as their backup, while the Flyers look to rely on Mrazek and Alex Lyon to hold the fort down until Neuvirth and Elliott recover.

Colby’s Corner Defenseless Devils

The New Jersey Devils had a huge highlight this summer with the New Jersey Devils Logoblockbuster trade that saw Adam Larsson go to Edmonton Oilers for left wing Taylor Hall. Now everyone, including Devils fans, were excited by this deal. They had a right to be; Hall is an elite winger who has produced in the league for years now.

Many people believe the Devils stand a chance to make the playoffs this year. But something went overlooked: who is supposed to play defense now?

This is where I began digging and realized that the Devils don’t really have a defense now. Their best defender is Andy Greene. Now in my opinion, Andy Greene isn’t playing on a top pairing in any team, except maybe Edmonton.

You may think I’m being crazy, so let me show you the defenseman on their roster.

Andy Greene

Ben Lovejoy

Damon Severson

Kyle Quincey (signed Wednesday)

Jonathon Merrill

John Moore

Brandon Gormley

They have a few young players in there with decent potential like Damon Severson and Jonathon Merrill. However, I don’t see any of these guys shut down guys. Talking with other people about this, many believe this team is filled with top-six defenseman (3rd line Defense) with a few top-four defensemen (2nd line defense).

Yes, players can grow and get better, but are any of these players ready to step up this season. Adam Larsson was the only top two defenseman (1st line defense) they had last year and they sent him away.

Ben Lovejoy and John Moore are both top-6 guys. However on this Devils roster they are asked to play bigger roles. This could come back to cost the Devils and make you wonder if the trade was really as good as people thought.

I am not denying the team will be better offensively. But I think questions need to be asked on the back end and I don’t think Wednesday’s afternoon signing of Kyle Quincey was the answer.

I do not seeing the Devils making the playoffs unless they have another move up their sleeve.

So what are possible solutions?

There is Kris Russell still on the free agent market. They could make a move for him, although there are questions if Russell is good enough for the money he wants. Signing Russell would also give them a lot of defenseman and not enough spots to play them.

I think the best plan of attack would come via trade. Jacob Trouba is a big name on the market. He has requested a trade out of Winnipeg because he wants to play right side defense according to his agent. This deal would require a big return, though. The Devils would probably be forced to move one of the young defenseman plus extra. This may be worth it for a more established defenseman in Jacob Trouba.

Other trade targets could be Hampus Lindholm or Travis Hamonic. Lindholm is an RFA without a contract in Anaheim. The return would be comparable to the possible Trouba trade. Then the Devils would have to get him to sign. According to Bob McKenzie, Lindholm is looking for a long-term deal around $6-6.5 million AAV.

Travis Hamonic requested a trade during the year last year. The Islanders were unable to move him. Still could be shopping him still, but again, more than likely he will be an Islander at the start of the season.

Overall this is a tough position to be in. I do not believe this defense is good enough for an 82-game season resulting in the playoffs.

TRADE: Edmonton’s Nilsson dealt to St. Louis

By: Nick Lanciani

The St. Louis Blues began their Saturday by acquiring Edmonton Oilers goaltender, Anders Nilsson, in exchange for goaltender Niklas Lundstrom and a fifth round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Unknown-1Nilsson is a 25-year-old who has played in 26 games this season for the Oilers. His 10-12-2 record, along with a 3.14 GAA and .901 SV% provide a little depth for the Blues in net given their recent injury prone run in goal. Nilsson will be assigned to St. Louis’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.

The 6’5″, 229-pound goalie is a native of Lulea, Sweden and was drafted by the New York Islanders in the third round (62nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 49 career NHL games for the Islanders and Oilers, amassing a 19-21-4 record and a 3.10 career GAA, as well as a .900 career SV% and one shutout.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svgLundstrom is a 23-year-old goalie who was drafted by St. Louis in the fifth round (132nd overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He split this season between the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals and the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Lundstrom is a native of Varmdo, Sweden and is 6’1″, 194 pounds.

He has an 8-3-0 record in 13 games with Elmira and a 1-1-0 record in four games with the Wolves this season.

Late on Friday night/early Saturday morning (if you’re on the East coast), TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that it was believed that the St. Louis Blues had acquired 25-year-old goaltender, Anders Nilsson, from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a mid-round draft pick.

The Blues, of course, just regained the health of their goalie, Jake Allen, but lost Brian Elliott due to injury in the span of about 24 hours apart from one another. St. Louis was just one of a few teams looking to add a goalie down the stretch (with San Jose having added James Reimer on Saturday and Buffalo in search of another net minder and/or trading partner for Chad Johnson).

Neither the Edmonton Oilers, nor the Blues, had officially announced a trade involving Nilsson following Friday night’s action.

Shortly before 3 AM on the East Coast, Anaheim tweeted some sort of cryptic message shown below just to cause anguish for those of us still up at the crazy hour of almost three in the morning (aside from the fact that the Ducks beat the Oilers 2-1 in overtime, of course).

 

This post has been updated to reflect the official announcement of the trade.