Tag Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Viable Trade Options- Part Three- Metropolitan 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 Metropolitan Division Standings

  1. NYI 79 pts. (39-19-1) 59 GP
  2. NYR 74 pts. (34-16-6) 56 GP
  3. WSH 74 pts. (32-17-10) 59 GP
  4. PIT 73 pts. (32-17-9) 58 GP
  5. PHI 59 pts. (24-23-11) 58 GP
  6. CBJ 55 pts. (26-27-3) 56 GP
  7. NJ 53 pts. (22-26-9) 57 GP
  8. CAR 47 pts. (20-29-7) 56 GP

New York Islanders LogoNew York Islanders (1st in the Metropolitan Division, 59 GP 39-19-1 record, 79 points)

The New York Islanders need not worry about adding assets at this year’s trade deadline. While they do need to maintain their focus and avoid peaking too early, the Islanders appear as thought they are serious playoff contenders.

Their early acquisitions of defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy have really paid off. Coupled with Jaroslav Halak’s stellar goaltending- the New York Islanders have been nothing short of fantastic this season in the Eastern Conference. It appears as though for once the Islanders have just the right combination of youth and experience in their entire roster.

So with all of that in mind- there’s really nothing that New York needs in the long run. Sure the Islanders could pick up a depth forward or defenseman. The Islanders could move Lubomir Visnovsky or Matt Donovan to pick up that missing piece that might get them completely over the hump that is the first round of the playoffs (in recent memory for the Islanders).

Again, however, the Islanders might as well be perfectly content if they don’t do anything at the deadline. After all, it’d be better for them to get the experience and fail than get no experience at all. Regardless, they are going to be a fun team to watch heading into the playoff run.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Rangers (2nd in the Metropolitan Division, 56 GP 34-16-6 record, 74 points)

The New York Rangers are shaping up to be a delightful team to watch heading into the playoff run. Provided a healthy Henrik Lundqvist is able to work his way back in the lineup- although, in all honesty, a little time off for Lundqvist might be the most dangerous wild card for the rest of the league.

Think about it. In a typical season, Lundqvist tends to play in upwards of 65 to 70 games before the playoffs begin. Both in 2012 and in 2014 the Rangers ran out of gas in deep playoff runs (including the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals). Regardless of how you feel the Rangers ran out of gas, a goalie that has played nearly 100 games at the end of the day probably doesn’t help your chances- no matter how elite the goalie is.

All I’m saying is, if the Rangers can keep up with momentum and Lundqvist gets right back in it, then New York becomes that much more of a serious contender. Aside from the fact that the Rangers have figured out a balance of youth and experience in their lineup and that Rick Nash is having a stellar season.

Both J.T. Miller and John Moore are really the only assets the Rangers could possibly move. Miller could be in play in the player from the Arizona Coyotes that every team is trying to land, Antoine Vermette. But it wouldn’t be an easy one-for-one swap between the Rangers and the Coyotes. New York would have to offer a draft pick or something to make the deal a little more worthwhile for Arizona.

New York has also been in the hunt at acquiring Carolina Hurricane’s defenseman, Andrej Sekera. Moore is one of New York’s expendable defensemen that they could use as part of a deal to land Sekera. In any case, any deal has to be just right for both sides engaged in negotiations.

If the Rangers can’t address all of their needs, then the least they should do is focus on their defensemen. They are a fast skating team with skilled forwards. Adding a depth defenseman or adding a player of Sekera’s caliber would complete New York’s lineup and become a force to be reckoned with.

Washington Capitals LogoWashington Capitals (3rd in the Metropolitan Division, 59 GP 32-17-10 record, 74 points)

The Washington Capitals are in a commanding spot having jumped from the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference to the last divisional spot currently in playoff position. While Washington has been keeping in contention this season, they’ve been doing so oddly quiet. The Capitals are keeping pace with their dominant division rivals and are comfortably in the option of buying and selling constructively.

Braden Holtby is having a great season as the Capitals starting goaltender, certainly providing a spark of hope for the victory each night that he takes to the net. Alex Ovechkin an the rest of the Capitals offense continues to produce and it turns out signing Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik is working out well for Washington (for now- Orpik’s contract is still a horrible claim to infamy from a general manager’s perspective).

Speaking of defense, however, it appears as though something is about to drop in Washington, as Mike Green appears to be the biggest asset the Capitals are looking to move at the trade deadline. The 29-year-old defenseman is exactly what any playoff lurking team with room for Green on their roster in the future is looking for. Conversely, any retooling team would gladly take him as well. But it’s going to take the right package for Washington to rid themselves of Mike Green without any regrets.

In terms of interchangeable parts that the Capitals are looking to use to improve, Joel Ward, Aaron Volpatti and Jay Beagle are striking options to move with the intent of picking up a much needed right wing scorer.

Alas, all of them are pending unrestricted forwards and Green would likely see the best return in the form of a winger, unless Washington is able to pull off a miracle package deal with Ward, Volapatti, and/or Beagle.

In terms of moving Mike Green, the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Detroit Red Wings are appealing options. Although if you’re going to mention two California teams, you might as well mention the Los Angeles Kings as dark horses that could add to their defensive strength with a Green acquisition.

Regardless, Washington has to keep gaining momentum at this part of the season in order to head into the playoffs at full strength and no mercy. Enough is enough from a talented organization that has only been able to get so far in the playoffs before faltering- it’s a deep playoff run or bust for the Washington Capitals given their current lineup and their quest for constant improvement.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoPittsburgh Penguins (4th in the Metropolitan Division, 1st Eastern Conference Wild Card, 58 GP 32-17-9 record 73 points)

No surprise here, the Pittsburgh Penguins talented roster has kept them afloat after their offseason front office transition (this being their first year with new GM Jim Rutherford and new head coach, Mike Johnston).

Only Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta are on the inured reserve for the Penguins, who are a young team that is sprinkled with talent and experience. Marc-Andre Fleury looks to be reliable this season, but only time will tell if he can maintain throughout the playoffs. None of the offseason maneuvers have upset Pittsburgh’s defense and the Penguins have been able to build their roster throughout the season pretty well so far.

With that said, the Penguins have got plenty of free agents coming up at the end of the season in an already tight salary cap situation. Pittsburgh could try to lessen this problem at the deadline by moving pending restricted free agents Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Dumoulin. The two defensemen could be a decent package for either Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry or Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera.

Bortuzzo appears to be the more attractive defenseman the Penguins could offer and would fit any team looking to retool and rid themselves of a potential rental player defenseman, which makes teams like Edmonton, Carolina, New Jersey, or Buffalo viable trading partners, as Pittsburgh could look for Petry, Sekera, Marek Zidlicky, Bryce Salvador, or Tyson Stratchan in return. Dumoulin might take a little convincing for any team to acquire.

Needless to say, if the Penguins don’t make a move, they’re still readily prepared for a playoff run based on how the roster is currently shaped. They might not be the talk of the town right now, but they can skate with some of the better teams in the Western Conference, which certainly makes Pittsburgh one of the favorites as Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Finals representatives (at least on paper).

Philadelphia Flyers LogoPhiladelphia Flyers (5th in the Metropolitan Division, 58 GP 24-23-11 record, 59 points)

While the Philadelphia Flyers continue to cause frustration among their fan base, this season certainly has been better than the last few years. For once, it doesn’t appear as though the Flyers are having as much of a goaltender struggle that they usually have.

Instead, this year, the focus tends to be more on a lack of offense and a ho-hum defense. The best asset Philadelphia has to offer at the trade table on deadline day are their versatile defensemen. That’s right, I just went from calling their defensemen “ho-hum” to “versatile”.

That’s because the system doesn’t appear to be working very well for Michael Del Zotto and Carlo Colaiacovo in Philadelphia, however they are quality top four defensemen that are valuable to a team looking for a deep run. Pending the status of Kimmo Timonen, certainly the Flyers could feel offers out on the blood clot recovering defenseman. If not, then Del Zotto and Colaiacovo remain their main focus.

Del Zotto appears to be the more attractive defender, with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vancouver Canucks being a good fit as teams that are in solidified standings. Boston and Buffalo seem to be the only other teams that come to mind as organizations that are unsure of what the future holds, but could benefit from the services of Del Zotto as well.

Colaiacovo on the other hand, would be a great addition for any of the above-mentioned teams. He would likely do better with a Western Conference organization, given that Colaiacovo has spent time in St. Louis and Detroit (prior to realignment). In that case, would even St. Louis be willing to pass up on him, if Anaheim is close to acquiring his skillsets, or would there be a welcome back parade through the streets of St. Louis leading to the Scottrade Center.

In any case, the Flyers have some developing to do and retooling in free agency with their forwards (it might be next to impossible to move Vincent Lecavalier’s contract at the deadline, or ever, for that matter). But the overall outlook of the organization is getting better as they are finding a direction to head in.

Columbus Blue Jackets LogoColumbus Blue Jackets (6th in the Metropolitan Division, 56 GP 26-27-3 record, 55 points)

Sadly, one of the biggest surprises of last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets, have been unable to keep their Cinderella story momentum going this season with the injury bug plaguing most of their chances. It seems that when one player is ready to return to the Blue Jackets lineup, another player goes down (or a player returns to the injured reserve, because that has happened too).

Right now Boone Jenner, Jeremy Morin, Ryan Murray, and Sergei Bobrovsky are on the injured reserve for Columbus. Nick Foligno is having a career year, despite all of the negative detractors from the Blue Jackets this season.

But come March 2nd, the Columbus Blue Jackets should be looking to move Mark Letestu, Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Curtis McElhinney. Letestu, Atkinson, and Calvert are all attractive to playoff looming organizations- so the ones you’ve already heard about thousands of times by now, Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Anaheim, and even St. Louis or Chicago.

McElhinney on the other hand, is not a solid backup goaltender and cannot hold the team over when Bobrovsky is out of the lineup.

If Columbus gets the chance to pull a move similar to how Buffalo brought in Anders Lindback for Jhonas Enroth, then nothing will be costly for the team that is not likely to make this year’s playoffs. Columbus could benefit from a rental backup goaltender that might bring some stability to the organization in the short term in effort to allow the front office to get things together and go after a solid backup in free agency.

With that in mind, maybe its worth exploring Eddie Lack’s availability. If injuries aren’t a problem next season and the Blue Jackets aren’t able to get going, then things are going to get worse before they get better from the looks of things.

New Jersey Devils LogoNew Jersey Devils (7th in the Metropolitan Division, 57 GP 22-26-9 record, 53 points)

The New Jersey Devils might be the new nursing home of the NHL (previously held by the Florida Panthers). With that in mind, the Devils should come as no surprise as one of those teams that needs to sell at all costs if they want to improve in any aspect.

Jaromir Jagr, the ageless wonder, is a pending unrestricted free agent that could be a top bargaining piece as a rental player for any team looking to make the playoffs. The Devils need look no further than their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders as viable options to swap Jagr with. The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, and practically any other team should come as no surprise to be in on the Jagr sweepstakes as well.

But aside from Jagr, the Devils have a plethora of pending UFA forwards in Martin Havlat, Michael Ryder, Jordin Tootoo, Steve Bernier, and Scott Gomez. While some are nowhere near what they used to be, namely Tootoo, Bernier, and Gomez, others may be more attractive.

Havlat and Ryder are attractive options for teams looking for roleplaying forwards that can also bring a decent forechecking game and two-way aspect in their play on a second or third line. I get it, Ryder has really faltered at this stage of his career, but he still has a good wrist shot and a fresh change of scenery, combined with a little stability would be good for him.

New Jersey defensemen, Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador could also be moved at the deadline. Zidlicky is a right-handed defenseman that could fill the hole in Anaheim or Detroit, given that neither the Ducks nor the Red Wings were able to land Tyler Myers last week. Zidlicky wouldn’t cost that much and is a pending UFA. Then again, Zidlicky might be what a team like the Boston Bruins are looking for, in terms of experience and stability for the short term.

Salvador is also a rental player defenseman that could fit in with practically any team on the outside looking in, such as Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, or Minnesota, but then again, he could also work well on a team on the cusp on the playoffs or well on their way to a deep run. Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Montreal, and St. Louis all seem to be decent fits for Salvador’s play and cost.

In any case, it comes down to sell the players, or sell the team for New Jersey, because the ownership is clearly not expressing a commitment to winning in the team’s current state.

Carolina Hurricanes LogoCarolina Hurricanes (8th in the Metropolitan Division, 56 GP 20-29-7 record, 47 points)

Plain and simple, the Carolina Hurricanes have been bad. Defensemen are in demand at this year’s trade deadline, and Carolina has a couple to offer in Andrej Sekera and Tim Gleason. The Hurricanes could also move forwards Jiri Tlusty or Jay McClement at the deadline.

The obvious landing positions for the hot commodities- Sekera and Gleason- would likely be teams looking to make a successful playoff run, such as the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and even the Pittsburgh Penguins, if it means they can get their hands on a package deal that would include either Tlusty or McClement.

Taking a look at Carolina’s roster, one can easily see that moving one of the Staal brothers really might not make sense after all. Nor would moving a player like Alexander Semin be a smart idea. The Hurricanes made an investment in Semin and they might as well get as much as they can out of him. Looking down the line, Patrick Dwyer is another forward over thirty that could certainly use a change of scenery for the better (not just for his own career, but Carolina’s future as well).

So if the Hurricanes are unable to move at least Tlusty, McClement, or Dwyer by the deadline, then all is not lost on the front end of their roster. Some definite retooling is in order for Carolina come July 1st. One of the things that the Hurricanes must explore is a better balance between youth and experience. Right now, they have an abundance of youth, but they have a stale group of experienced players that have spent too long in Carolina.

On the point, the Canes are looking to move Sekera and Gleason, but it would also do them service to look for a potential suitor for John-Michael Liles. It would be worthwhile for Carolina to move Liles for a player of equal status or experience, or perhaps a few years younger to help balance their blueliners.

The future in goal for Carolina is moving past Cam Ward, but Anton Khudobin is no long-term solution. Sure, Khudobin is projected to be a decent (backup) goalie, but the Canes must avoid too much of a similar situation as Buffalo was having with Jhonas Enrtoh and Michal Neuvirth. Who’s the starter? Who’s the backup? And why aren’t either of them clear cut starters or backups? At least Buffalo now has more hope in making Neuvirth their starter and Anders Lindback their backup, by definition.

For Carolina, though, neither Ward nor Khudobin are fitting any definition in goal. A trade involving Ward must be coming, albeit likely in the offseason. But if the Staal’s are hanging around, then certainly Ward’s got to go in the midst of a little roster shake up. Perhaps the Hurricanes have gotten too comfortable with the way things are, but that only makes actions need to happen more.

The outlook for Carolina is tough to envision, since not much direction has been or is being set presently for the organization.

Viable Trade Options- Part One- Atlantic 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 Atlantic Division Standings

  1. TB 71 pts. (33-16-5)
  2. MTL 69 pts. (33-15-3)
  3. DET 69 pts. (30-12-9)
  4. BOS 63 pts. (28-17-7)
  5. FLA 56 pts. (23-17-10)
  6. TOR 50 pts. (23-27-4)
  7. OTT 49 pts. (20-22-9)
  8. BUF 35 pts. (16-34-3)

Unknown-1 Tampa Bay Lighting (1st in the Atlantic Division, 54 GP 33-16-5 record, 71   points) Not buying or selling.

Have you heard about the Tampa Bay Lighting recently? No? That’s okay, neither   have I- with the exception of some of the highlights from Steven Stamkos on any  given night. The Lightning are cruising along a successful season currently as the first place team in the Eastern Conference. Tampa’s putting up points consistently this season in one of the most inconsistent divisions (if not conference) in the league, yet they haven’t taken the talk of the town by storm.

Despite their young goaltending in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevsky, the Lightning seem ready for a playoff run. I question their goaltending based on their youth alone. Bishop is a solid starter that can at least be good on any given night with shut down defense in front of him and blazing offense producing goals (two things Tampa Bay has nailed this year). Some might consider Vasilevsky too young to be a backup.

After being swept by the Montreal Canadiens in last year’s playoffs, this Lightning roster gained valuable playoff experience that can only help them approaching this time of the season. However, the Lightning are currently short a regular lineup defenseman, or two, due to injury.

Their best option this year at the trade deadline is to go out and acquire a veteran defenseman with rental player status. Their best asset in doing so would be to trade Brett Connolly for a defenseman. If we’re talking matching age for age, the other plausible option would be to trade Brenden Morrow for an older defenseman. Otherwise, a straight up defenseman for defenseman swap could hamper the integrity of the Lightning’s current roster.

Unknown Montreal Canadiens (2nd in the Atlantic Division, 51 GP 33-15-3 record, 69 points) Buying on sale.

The Montreal Canadiens are having themselves a decent run so far, currently  seated in the last divisional spot in the Atlantic Division for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They haven’t had any major bumps in the road in the injury department or in the any player severely lacking in performing their job.

With that said, the Canadiens look to improve upon their Eastern Conference Finals run in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet the Habs don’t exactly have any players they’re looking to trade and they certainly don’t have that much that they are in dire need of acquiring. Their forwards are young for the most part, and their goalies are young as well- aside from being untouchable given that Carey Price is their starter and how Dustin Tokarski has lived up to his role as the Habs backup.

So what could Montreal do to better their team? For starters, there is always the age old saying “defense wins championships”. For a twenty-four-time Stanley Cup winning franchise that hasn’t seen hockey’s holy grail since 1993, one would think that the Canadiens would be pressing for some type of complete roster. Only three of Montreal’s defensemen are under the age of 32.

Mike Weaver and Andrei Markov are both 36 years old, Tom Gilbert is 32, and Sergei Gonchar is 40 years old. Only P.K. Subban (25), Alexei Emelin (28), and Nathan Beaulieu (22) are under the age of 32. The Habs could certainly use Weaver as trade bait for a younger rental defenseman that could help ease time on ice duties, relieving Markov and Gonchar on the blueline.

The Canadiens are also interested in the hunt that everyone seems to be in right now- the quest for landing Antoine Vermette. While the versatile center- that can also play wing- would fit in with the roster, the asking price might be a bit much for the Habs to cough up. Could it be possible that Montreal moves Manny Malhotra and another forward and/or a draft pick for Vermette, certainly, but Vermette seems a bit out of reach for the Canadiens, given their status and outlook heading into the playoff run.

Another highly touted player currently being shopped around is Jaromir Jagr, though it seems next to impossible to envision Jagr in bleu, blanc, and rouge. But it wouldn’t be the first time the Canadiens pulled off a surprising steal at the deadline, given how they acquired current Minnesota Wild forward, Thomas Vanek, last year from the New York Islanders. The New Jersey Devils would probably do better rebuilding with someone like Manny Malhotra, who is a bit younger than Jagr and has a few more years left in him (although the ageless wonder that is Jaromir Jagr does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon).

One thing is for sure; Michael Ryder probably isn’t going back for a third stint in Montreal.

Unknown-1 Detroit Red Wings (3rd in the Atlantic Division, 51 GP 30-12-9 record, 69 points) Buying on sale.

There’s not that much to worry about this season for the Detroit Red Wings. Their scorers are scoring, their checkers are checking, and their goaltenders are goaltending- which has pretty much been the Red Wings system for eternity it seems. Like the Lightning, the Red Wings are quietly producing.

None of this should come as a surprise really, with guys like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall, and Jimmy Howard on the team. Thus none of it should come as a surprise to say that the Detroit Red Wings don’t really need anything.

The lack of a right handed shot on defense hasn’t shot the Red Wings in the foot this year, unlike preseason speculations feared. Could the Red Wings try to land a right-handed defenseman in a deadline deal? Yeah sure, but then again, anyone could if they wanted.

Despite their early playoff exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins last year, the Red Wings don’t need that much to stockpile for a playoff run this year. They’ve got plenty of playoff experience in the depth of their lineup and they’re on top of things (for the most part) right now. I’m not suggesting that Detroit should take the rest of the season lightly (and the playoffs, for that matter). I am merely stating that from a management perspective, they’ve got the team they want to go with for a successful outlook in terms of a playoff run.

Unknown Boston Bruins (4th in the Atlantic Division, currently 2nd Eastern Conference Wild Card, 52 GP 28-17-7 record, 63 points) Buying and selling.

Despite the recent turnaround, there is no doubt that the Boston Bruins so far this year have been a disappointment compared to recent years. After a dismal December, the Bruins found themselves on the brink of a drastic identity change. Now after the month of January, the Bruins, while still not perfect, are trending in the right direction, especially considering that they are in playoff contention.

Patrice Bergeron has been Boston’s most consistent player, as usual, and Tuukka Rask has kept them in games. During the opening months it appeared as though the Bruins were shooting themselves in the foot. They aren’t as much of a Jekyll and Hyde team currently, although some aspects are still lacking. It would be in Boston’s best interest to patch some holes in their roster- they still need a winger and could probably use a defenseman. Especially after some of the small holes in their game pestered them and ultimately plagued them in last year’s playoffs leading to their demise to their archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

Everyone wants Antoine Vermette. He could be the solid addition the Bruins are looking for in the short term, but they’d need a little more of a guarantee in the long term. However, could a rental player be enough to suffice for this season with Ryan Spooner and Seth Griffith about a year away from making the roster on a nightly basis? And what would it take to get Vermette?

Certainly if the Bruins wanted to work on a deal for Vermette and Keith Yandle, they’re going to have to offer the Arizona Coyotes something worthwhile. This is where Chris Kelly may be expendable for Vermette and Yandle if the Bruins throw in someone like Matt Bartkowski and a draft pick. As always, though, there’s the salary cap to consider.

In terms of other potential forwards the Bruins could chase after, there’s the whole Chris Stewart or Zack Kassian dilemma. Any deal for Kassian would make the Bruins worse (that’s all you need to know about my position on Kassian). Even if Boston offered the Vancouver Canucks Matt Bartkowski and something else that might sweeten the deal. The Buffalo Sabres have all the advantages in the world given their situation and trying to move the potentially useful Stewart.

They could be demanding and not budge from a high asking price, meaning that the Bruins would have to part with a piece from their core, which isn’t an ideal situation for Boston (yes, even if it were a one for one Milan Lucic for Chris Stewart trade. Take a look people, Lucic is a better player). Besides, Buffalo wouldn’t want someone they hate anyway, right?

But along the lines of Buffalo, I can only wonder how much a guy like Cody Hodgson runs for. Hodgson doesn’t solve the first or second line (depending on the night) right wing that the Bruins need, but he does carry some value as a third or fourth liner- which also an area the Bruins could use some retouching.

While it’s a stretch, Cody Franson would look like a good replacement for the months departed Johnny Boychuk, however Franson would be a next to impossible piece to land, especially if the Toronto Maple Leafs insist they only move him to a Western Conference team. But if the Bruins are looking for an extra, young, defenseman (and believe me, they are) Edmonton Oilers defenseman, Jeff Petry, might solve that problem.

Then again, general manager, Peter Chiarelli, might see adding another veteran blueliner as an easier option for the short term. Someone like Andrej Sekera or Marek Zidlicky. Sekera wouldn’t take much to pry from the Carolina Hurricanes and Zidlicky would probably require even less from the New Jersey Devils, who will no doubt be forced to sell like there’s no tomorrow, considering the dividends the race to the bottom will pay out in this year’s Entry Draft (Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel).

Given Chiarelli’s track record, the Bruins could very well go out and try to strike a deal with the Ottawa Senators for Marc Methot. Methot is a versatile defenseman that could bring an edge to Boston’s blueline without tampering with it too much.

Whatever the Bruins end up doing, they’re well aware they need to do it now (or by/on March 2nd).

Unknown-2 Florida Panthers (5th in the Atlantic Division, 50 GP 23-17-10 record, 56 points) Selling used parts.

The Florida Panthers are average. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d write this year (or ever). Last year’s deadline deal brought stability in net in the form of Roberto Luongo. Their youth is starting to come around and general manager, Dale Tallon, has made moves that have begun to payoff on defense.

Yet there is still a major overtone hampering the Panthers from getting any better. A friend once told me that a player only goes to Florida when they know their career is pretty much over. While the Panthers have done a decent job riding themselves of many 35+ club players, Florida has some moveable parts in that demographic.

In order for their youth movement on the blue line to improve, Brian Campbell has got to be swapped for a mid-aged defenseman that brings in the right amount of youth and experience- Cody Franson, perhaps? Again, the problem lies with mid-aged defenseman being a hot commodity and the Panthers being a less than ideal trading partner.

In terms of forwards, Brad Boyes, Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, and Derek MacKenzie are all available options for working out a decent trade. If the Panthers could pull off a move by trading any one of these players for a younger player or two, they could continue to build their roster from within (youth) and bring in young players from outside of the organization (experience, be it elsewhere or in the playoffs). No matter what, Florida has to keep chasing after the right combination of a youthful, energetic, and experienced roster if they want to crack the code to the playoffs.

If anything, for once they don’t have to worry about goaltending heading into the deadline, draft, free agency, off-season, and well pretty much for the next couple of seasons.

Unknown-3 Toronto Maple Leafs (6th in the Atlantic Division, 54 GP 23-27-4 record, 50 points) Sell, sell, sell.

The Toronto Maple Leafs need to commit once and for all to something. That something is the process of a rebuild. I’m not saying they dump their entire roster around the league, but moving players like Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri, Daniel Winnik, Dion Phaneuf, Cody Franson, and James Reimer just might be part of the answer in the long run. Especially if it means that the Maple Leafs would have a chance at landing the next Connor McDavid, presuming that they don’t obtain the 1st overall pick in this year’s draft, but rather the 2016 draft.

Life without Phil Kessel in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform seems to be getting all the more real as every minute passes. As the rumors swirl around Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson, Phil Kessel’s name is bound to be tossed around in serious consideration as well.

I’m not saying that we’d be looking at a monster deal involving Kessel, Phaneuf, and Franson heading to the same team, but then again, I’d find it hard to imagine that it wouldn’t make sense if the right conditions were in place. If Toronto feels like dishing the trio to the same place and out of harm in the process of their rebuild, then the Edmonton Oilers must look like a golden opportunity for a seemingly farfetched deal.

The likes of Kessel, Phaneuf, and Franson being swapped for Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, and Jeff Petry might be exactly what Toronto is looking for, but just out of reach. Likewise, a trio deal to Dallas wouldn’t be able to attract the right return either. Or would it? Perhaps a trade with the Stars wouldn’t give the Maple Leafs immediate replacements for Kessel, Phaneuf, or Franson, but rather a defenseman, a forward, and a 2015 first or second round draft pick.

The options for the Maple Leafs run dry in trying to get Mike Richards from the Los Angeles Kings, considering how Richards is slumping and bringing in the another David Clarkson wouldn’t be optimal for Toronto at this time. While Phaneuf, or Franson alone, might be enough of an asset for the Kings to consider, they’d surely pass on any package that offered either defenseman and Phil Kessel.

What’s likely to happen for Toronto is three separate deals where they can disperse the talents of the players among Western Conference teams (after all, Toronto desires a deal with any Western Conference team).

Nazem Kadri and Daniel Winnik, on the other hand, would be the typical deadline trades to be made for any team looking to improve for a playoff run. Winnik isn’t as valuable in the long run as Kadri might be, but he might be the perfect fit for a playoff contender’s third line.

And one last thing, good luck trading James Reimer, Toronto. Unless they’re thinking a one for one swap with Vancouver for Eddie Lack seems like a good idea, although the Canucks seem intent on making Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom their go to netminders.

Unknown-2 Ottawa Senators (7th in the Atlantic Division, 51 GP 20-22-9 record, 49 points) Selling used, buying new.

As much as the Ottawa Senators could be sellers at this trade deadline, it is my belief that they won’t be selling out and cashing out on this season entirely. There isn’t that much hope for making the playoffs this season for the Sens who last made the playoffs in 2013. However, the pieces are in place for success with their roster, all they need is a little time.

That’s where taking advantage of the most they can get out of this season comes into play. Ottawa probably isn’t going to attract the best deal at the deadline this year, but they’ll more than likely be active in the offseason trying to figure out who’s worth signing and who isn’t.

It is plausible to see the Senators move Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Chris Phillips, or Marc Methot by March 2nd. Condra is one of those players that could be attractive to a team looking to make a run at the playoffs and needs to add some depth in forwards. The same goes for Greening. Both Condra and Greening have spent their time well in Canada’s capital, yet moving them could make room for a prospect or the right young player brought in a deal.

Marc Methot is an attractive option for any team that needs a defenseman. At 29 years old, he fits the mid-aged defenseman status with the right combination of experience in the league and hint of youth left. Chris Phillips, on the other hand, is 36 years old and would likely become a sixth or seventh defenseman on a team looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. But then again, that might just be what he wants and exactly what the team looking to get him needs.

The Dallas Stars are exactly the kind of team that could prosper from either Methot or Phillips (or both). Given their interest in Cody Franson and Dion Phaneuf, however, the possibilities of working a deal with Ottawa might be hampered. Then again, the Sens and Stars are trading buddies, having completed the Jason Spezza deal this offseason. Maybe it’s time both GM’s get on the phone with one another again.

Regardless, things aren’t as dire in Ottawa as other Canadian markets (Edmonton and Toronto, namely). An effective run to the end of the season that builds on learning and gaining experience should put the Senators on track for a possible playoff run next season or a 4th or 5th place finish in the Atlantic Division next year.

Unknown-3 Buffalo Sabres (8th in the Atlantic Division, 53 GP 15-34-3 record, 33 points) Selling unwanted parts.

The Buffalo Sabres are without a doubt likely to land Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Pairing either player with any of their players in the fountain of youth is sure to make them a legitimate contender within one to three years as not only a productive team, but a destination for veterans looking to bring the right amount of experience to a youthful team longing for success.

The Sabres have been in serious talks recently with the Anaheim Ducks concerning a move that would involve Tyler Myers. Trading Myers while knowing the future outlook is a risky move. Myers is still one of Buffalo’s youngest defenseman and is one of their largest (1st in height, tied for 2nd in weight- 6’8”, 219 lbs).

If the Sabres are to move a defenseman, trading Andre Benoit, Mike Weber, or Tyson Stratchan would be better options. Benoit is by far, their worst defenseman. Weber could be a key asset for a playoff looming team and the right price for the Sabres to get something valuable in return. Stratchan, likewise, could bring back something of use for the Sabres- a draft pick if anything.

Chris Stewart is nowhere near the player that he “used to be” if that term can even loosely be used. However, he is drawing significantly enough interest for the Sabres to bargain effectively in both terms of trying to bring something in return and providing security for the future (a second round draft pick, for example).

While the Boston Bruins seem like a prime suitor for Stewart in that they have a plethora of forwards that they could swap and a second round draft pick from October’s Johnny Boychuk trade with the New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres could use that knowledge as enough of a factor to drive up Stewart’s selling price.

Among forwards that the Sabres could move, Matt Ellis, Torrey Mitchell, Cody Hodgson, and Drew Stafford seem like reasonable assets to offer to other teams. Ellis and Mitchell are getting in the way of potential roster developments. Likewise, Hodgson is slumping too much to hold onto for the future.

If the Sabres and Stafford think it would be a good idea to reunite former teammates Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville with Drew Stafford in Minnesota, then by all means, there is enough to pick and choose from the Wild organization.

Had Cody McCormmick not been on the injured reserve, then by all means, the Sabres might have been able to do something with him. Although, perhaps the fourth liner could stick around another year or two solidifying four lines in Buffalo.

The only other debate is between Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth in goal, with Matt Hackett and the long list of developing goaltenders in mind for the Sabres. Neuvirth could be worth dealing for the right goalie. Then again, he could be exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning need for added security in net heading into this year’s playoffs.

The Sabres best bet at improving in goaltending is through free agency and the entry draft, despite the time required to develop the next best starter that they could go with. Finding a solid backup goalie in free agency shouldn’t be a hard thing to do for a team that has a bright future just on the verge of the horizon, despite what many say about the currently at the bottom of the standings organization. At the very least, Buffalo is not Edmonton, where surely the light of day isn’t showing for the next million years.

Buffalo has a tough road ahead, but fortunately it can be navigated properly with the development of either McDavid or Eichel in this year’s draft, coupled with young stars like Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Gregorenko, and Nikita Zadorov.

New Year, New Beginnings (or Revivals)- Part 3 Lone Wanderers

With the dawn of the New Year upon us I decided to explore the possibilities of relocation and expansion. In this excessively informal post, I’ve taken a look at what some of the best concept jerseys are for teams that no longer exist, but should (or possible expansion teams). In each case, I’ve looked at numerous designs, courtesy of Icethetics.co and the forums over at Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net, and highlighted the ones that I would pick if I were the owner of a new franchise looking to establish its identity.

If you missed any of the action so far, here’s part 1 and part 2.

MONTREAL MAROONS/ MONTREAL WANDERERS

Granted the addition of a second Montreal franchise would never happen nowadays, there are a few excellent ideas for former Montreal teams. Montreal used to be home to two hockey teams, one marketed for the English speaking population and the other (the Montreal Canadiens) geared for the French speaking population. The last two team effort in Montreal began in 1924 and ended in 1938 with the failure of the Montreal Maroons, having suspended operations in 1938 and officially canceling the franchise in 1947. The Montreal Wanderers were one of the original NHL franchises in the 1917- 1918 season, but disbanded after having played 4 games in the regular season and forfeiting 2 more due to a fire that burned down their arena.

This design for the Maroons is substantial for the foundation of an aesthetic design that incorporates hockey history, where as the Wanderers jersey simply modernizes a uniform that barely saw the light of existence in the dawn of the National Hockey League. I chose to focus on a second Montreal team, instead of a second Toronto team, simply because I found better concept jerseys for them. If you’ve seen a great Toronto idea, let me know, or simply be the one to design it.

Personally, I’d use the Maroons third jersey as the basis for home and road uniforms. If you don’t like the words inside of the “M”, just get rid of them and you still have a good logo. I am attracted to the rest of the uniform because of its unique stripping pattern and use of maroon- a color that could be utilized more often on the ice.

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The Wanderers, on the other hand, would have a classy jersey that sets them apart from others in the league. Depending upon its visibility, the home uniform might see the numbers on the back change from red with a white outline to being just white numbers. I am very much a fan of this design. Since it is unrealistic to think that a second Montreal team would be feasible these days, I’d hope some hockey team would take advantage of the concept ideas featured in this jersey. The stripping would look very classy on say, a high school team’s uniform.

As you can tell by now, I’m a fan of stripes that set apart a franchise from all the other franchises and generic “traditional” hockey jerseys. I think that you can have a traditional looking jersey in your own modernized fashion. Maybe not quite what the Carolina Hurricanes have strived for, but with the same good intentions in mind. When done right, it can make all the difference between your team and someone else’s.

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So with this two for one special in mind, I hope you’re going to enjoy part 4 of this series, because it’s going places where the NHL has never gone before.

Florida Panthers 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith returns to the Down the Frozen River scene with this season preview of the Florida Panthers. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Florida Panthers (29-45-8, seventh in division & second to last in conference)

After the second straight year of missing the postseason since winning the division in 2011-‘12, Dale Tallon pulled the plug on almost the entire coaching staff. Since then, the Panthers have hired Gerard Gallant to replace Peter Horachek (who was on interim basis after the firing of Kevin Dineen). Mike Kelly, John Madden, & Mark Morris will serve as assistant coaches in addition to Robb Tallas as the Goaltending Coach & Paul Vincent coaching skating & skills.

Gerard Gallant’s only NHL head coaching experience came with Columbus from 2004-‘06. He was promoted from his position as assistant coach following Doug MacLean stepping down due to a miserable record of 9-21-4-3. Under Gallant’s leadership, the Jackets finished 25-45-8-4 (Gallant responsible for the Jackets going 16-24-4-1), failing to make the playoffs. The following seasons offered no new results, as Columbus went 35-43-4 in 2005-’06, again missing the playoffs. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a terrible opening 15 games for Gallant & the Jackets. They went 5-9-1 before MacLean pulled the plug on Gallant.

In the 2007-’08 season, Gallant joined the Islanders in an assistant coaching position before becoming the head coach of Saint John. In every season of his three year tenure at Saint John, the Sea Dogs made the playoffs, winning the President’s Cup twice & the Memorial Cup once. Following the 2011-’12 season, he was hired by Montreal as an assistant coach, a position he held until this summer.

The Panthers’ goaltending situation looks to be already in place. Although the goalie with the most games played & wins from last season, Tim Thomas (16-20-3), was traded to Dallas on March 5th, the Panthers had received Roberto Luongo in a trade with Vancouver the day before. Moving forward with Luongo (6-7-2), the Panthers found their goalie with the best save percentage (92.4%) & fewest goals against average (2.46) over the course of 14 games. I would be very surprised to see Luongo lose his starting position.

In addition to retaining Dan Ellis (0-5-0), who played six games with the Panthers last season, Florida also has Sam Brittain, Michael Houser, & Al Montoya within their organization. Brittain was drafted by Florida in 2010 & last played at the University of Denver, where he posted a 19-14-6 record in 39 games. A particularly striking stat he has to his name coming into this season is posting five shutouts & only allowing 2.22 goals per game last season in the NCHC. Al Montoya posted a 13-8-3 record last season in Winnipeg, saving 92% of all shots on his goal (leads new acquisitions) & only allowing an average of 2.3 goals per game. I expect him to take the backup role from Ellis with Sam Brittain getting the opportunity to develop in the AHL this season.

The Panthers come into the season having lost some important players, most notably Tom Gilbert (signed with Montreal) & Marcel Goc (traded to Pittsburgh).

They lost one of the top seven players with most regular season games with the Panthers last season in Tom Gilbert, who played 73 games last year. The Panthers are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Jussi Jokinen (81, signed from Pittsburgh), Willie Mitchell (76, signed from Los Angeles), & Brett Olson (75, signed from Abbotsford).

Florida is not bringing back two of their top 10 shot takers this year as Marcel Goc (105) & Jesse Winchester (100, signed with Colorado) are not returning. These two players accounted for over eight percent of the Panthers’ shots last regular season. They’ve added Mackenzie Weegar (173, 2013 draft pick), Jussi Jokinen (172), & Brett Olson (150) to the present roster, who should produce more offensive opportunities.

Almost six percent of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Marcel Goc (11) is with the Penguins. The Panthers have added Aaron Ekblad (23, 2014 draft pick), Jussi Jokinen (21), Steven Hodges (21, 2012 draft pick), Brett Olson (17), Rocco Grimaldi (17, 2011 draft pick), & Mackenzie Weegar (12) to more than make up for the missing goals, provided they can acclimate to the NHL when they join the team.

One of the leading two assisters will not be with the Panthers this season as Tom Gilbert (25) is not returning. Florida has more than made up for this, as they have signed Mackenzie Weegar (47), Jussi Jokinen (36), Aaron Ekblad (30), Brett Olson (27), & Steven Hodges (26). These new additions will hopefully provide for more options on offense when the players get acclimated to the NHL.

One of the three positive +/- guys for the Panthers has been lost in Bobby Butler (one). Florida has made many excellent additions to build on a miserable season in this regard by adding Mackenzie Weegar (56), Steven Hodges (20), Willie Mitchell (14), Jussi Jokinen (12), Aaron Ekblad (nine), Brett Olson (eight), John McFarland (three, 2010 draft pick), Shawn Thornton (three, signed from Boston), & Connor Brickley (one, 2010 draft pick). The Panthers hope that these players can continue to be as efficient as they progress through the organization.
The Panthers lost one of their top two penalty minute earners in Krys Barch (99). Sadly, Florida picked up Mackenzie Weegar (97), Aaron Ekblad (97), Shawn Thornton (74), Steven Hodges (65), Willie Mitchell (58), Rocco Grimaldi (48), & Derek Mackenzie (47, signed from Columbus). New hire Jussi Jokinen only served 18 minutes in the sin bin last season, which averaged out to 13 1/3 seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Panthers from defending the power play.

Present roster consists of 26 forwards, 13 defensemen, & five goalies (44 men).

Carolina Hurricanes 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith continues to display his hockey sense and analytic insight with his preview of the Carolina Hurricanes. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season kind of came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor, posting things. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Carolina Hurricanes (36-35-11, seventh in division, 13th in conference)

After missing the playoffs for the seventh time since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2005-‘06, Peter Karmanos and new GM Ron Francis, promoted by virtue of Jim Rutherford leaving the Hurricanes organization & being hired by Pittsburgh, pulled the plug on almost the entire coaching staff. Since then, the Canes have hired Bill Peters to replace Kirk Muller. Steve Smith has been signed as an assistant coach & David Marcoux as a goaltending coach, replacing assistant coaches John MacLean & Dave Lewis.

Bill Peters has yet to record a game in the NHL as a head coach, but he does have experience in head coaching. His first head coaching position was in the college ranks when he coached Lethbridge for three seasons (2002-’05). Spokane provided him his first professional head coaching job the following season, which he held for three seasons (2005-’08). In his first season with the Chiefs, he posted a 25-39-8 record, followed next season by a 36-28-8 record, worthy of a playoff spot in the WHL. The Chiefs fell in the first round to Everett, two games to four. His best season in Spokane was his last, as the Chiefs recorded a 50-15-7 record, a franchise record for wins in a season. This season witnessed the Chiefs hoisting both the Ed Chynoweth & Memorial Cups.

Following the 2007-’08 season, Peters joined Rockford, where he found immediate success. In his first two seasons, the IceHogs qualified for the playoffs twice, but were swept in the first round each time (Milwaukee & Texas, respectively). His final season in Rockford was a disappointment as his team amassed a record of 38-33-9 for last place in the division, t-12 in conference.

In 2011, Peters was hired by Detroit as an assistant coach, where he served for three seasons before being hired by Carolina.

Luckily for the maturing Canes, the goalie with the most starts last season is returning in Anton Khudobin (36). Cam Ward, who had the second-most games played last season (30), may also return pending his preseason success. The Canes have also acquired Daniel Altshuller and Drew MacIntyre, bringing their goalie count to four. Based on moves made so far, Khudobin & Ward are still Carolina’s lead pair. Khudobin had a save percentage of 92.6% for the regular season (led Carolina goalies last season), averaging 2.3 goals against per game (also led team). Last season, Ward saved 89.8% of all shots (worst on team), averaging 3.06 goals against (worst on team). He may have strong competition for the backup spot from the two new acquisitions, especially from Macintyre.

The Canes signed Drew Macintyre from the Toronto organization. He played in only two regular season games last year in the NHL for a 0-1-0 record. His save percentage in those games was 92.2% & he allowed 2.53 goals per game. He spent most of last season with the Marlies, who made it to the AHL playoffs. In the Marlies’ 14-game quest for the Calder Cup, he posted a 10-4 record, allowing only 2.08 goals a game with a save percentage of 94.1%. One-fifth (20%) of his playoff wins were shutouts.

In addition, the Canes also signed 2012 draft pick Daniel Altshuller. He spent the entire season with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, where he posted a 31-13-3 record in 52 games played. He recorded two shutouts (over 6% of wins were a result of a shutout) with a save percentage of 91.7%, allowing 2.56 goals per game. Oshawa made it to the playoffs, where Altshuller played 11 games for an 8-3 record. He only allowed 1.89 goals per playoff game for a save percentage of 93.1%, both greatly higher than his regular season numbers. This is the second time in three playoff seasons that he has been able to accomplish this feat, suggesting that he may perform well in the future under pressure.

The Canes come into the season having lost some big names, most notably Drayson Bowman (signed with Montreal), Manny Malhotra (signed with Montreal), Tuomo Ruutu (traded to New Jersey in March).

They lost two of the top 11 players with most regular season games with the Hurricanes last season in Drayson Bowman (70) & Manny Malhotra (69). The Canes are adding other players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Jay McClement (81, signed from Toronto), Victor Rask (76, 2011 draft pick), Justin Shugg (75, 2010 draft pick), Ben Holmstrom (75, signed from Philadelphia), Trevor Carrick (70, 2012 draft pick), Haydn Fleury (70, rookie), Michal Jordan (70, 2008 draft pick), & Brody Sutter (69, 2011 draft pick). These durable bodies should be able to create efficiency through consistent playing time together to continue to grow.

The Canes are not bringing back two of their top 14 shot takers this year as Drayson Bowman (80) & Tuomo Ruutu (79) are not returning. These two players accounted for over 6% of the Hurricanes’ shots last regular season. They have added many players who more than make up for these lost numbers in Ben Holmstrom (168), Victor Rask (160), Justin Shugg (160), Danny Biega (114, 2010 draft pick), Michal Jordan (94), & Brody Sutter (89).

Only 7% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Manny Malhotra (seven) & Tuomo Ruutu (five) are with other teams. The Hurricanes have made a strong push for offense as they have hired multiple 10+ goal scorers from last season, including Brock McGinn (43, 2012 draft pick), Carter Sandlak (24, signed from Plymouth), Trevor Carrick (22), Victor Rask (16), Justin Shugg (16), Patrick Brown (15, undrafted free agent from Boston College), & Ben Holmstrom (13).

The 12th leading assister from last season, Tuomo Ruutu (11) will not be with the Hurricanes this season. To more than make up for this, the Canes have signed Brock McGinn (42), Haydn Fleury (38), Trevor Carrick (29), Carter Sandlak (24), Victor Rask (23), Justin Shugg (22), Michal Jordan (21), Brody Sutter (20), Ben Holmstrom (19), Patrick Brown (15), Danny Biega (15), and Greg Nemisz (12, signed from Calgary).

The only positive +/- player from last season not returning is Radek Dvorak (three, led defensemen, unsigned free agent). To improve upon both the loss and the fact that the Canes only had one player with a number greater than five, Carolina has acquired Brock McGinn (46), Haydn Fleury (15), & Greg Nemisz (nine).

The Hurricanes lost one of the top six penalty minute earners in Radek Dvorak (41). Sadly, the Canes picked up Ben Holmstrom (146), Trevor Carrick (117), Carter Sandlak (95), Rasmus Rissanen (91, 2009 draft pick), Keegan Lowe (86, 2011 draft pick), Haydn Fleury (46), & Brock McGinn (45). These players will need to continue to grow in their discipline to have a truly positive effect in Raleigh. New hire Greg Nemisz only served 13 minutes in the sin bin last season, which averaged out to almost 17 seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Canes from defending the power play.

Present roster consists of 24 forwards, 15 defensemen, & four goalies (42 men).

Anaheim Ducks 2014- 2015 Season Preview

The wonderful, Connor Keith, has joined the Down the Frozen River family, and shares his talented writing, insight, and analysis for everyone to enjoy. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season kind of came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor, posting things. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Anaheim Ducks (54-20-8, won conference)

After yet another early exit from the playoffs (fifth time kicked out in first or second round of playoffs since winning the Cup in the 2006-’07 season), Henry Samueli & reigning NHL General Manager of the Year Bob Murray intend to build on last year’s strong regular season & once again be the team to beat in Los Angeles. Although they’ve made many additions to stake this claim, the Ducks will need to circumvent the retirement of Saku Koivu & Teemu Selanne & find new leadership in the locker room.

The only front office news to come out of Anaheim this season was the four-year contract extension signed by Murray in May. He made quick work of the expressed confidence from Samueli by signing two trades. On June 27, he agreed to terms with the Vancouver Canucks that Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, & two draft picks were to be sent up I-5 in return for Ryan Kesler & a pick in next year’s draft. Three days later, he sent two picks in next year’s draft to Tampa Bay in return for Nate Thompson.

One of the major question marks for the Ducks is their goaltending. Jonas Hiller (29-13-7), who played in 50 regular season games last season (22 more than Frederik Andersen) between the pipes, is now playing for Calgary. Andersen (20-5-0) played in 28 games for the Ducks last, the most of the remaining goalies on the Anaheim staff (also lost Viktor Fasth to a trade in March with the Edmonton Oilers). The Ducks have since signed Ryan Faragher (20-9-4-1, played at St. Cloud State) to an entry-level contract, who played seven more games than Andersen last season, but in college. Based on all of this, I would assume that Andersen will be starting in the crease.

The Ducks come into the season having lost two big names in Nick Bonino & Daniel Winnik (signed with Toronto).

They lost only two of the top seven players with most regular season games with the Ducks last season in Nick Bonino (77) & Daniel Winnik (76) both playing 75+ regular season games last year. Additionally, they lost only two of the top 10 players with the most playoff games with the Ducks last season in Nick Bonino & Saku Koivu both playing in all 13 games. The Ducks are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Nate Thompson (81), Louis Leblanc (78, signed from Montreal), & Ryan Kesler (77) who all played 77+ games last season.

The Ducks are only losing one of their top four shot takers this year as Nick Bonino (159) joins Vancouver. He alone accounted for over 6% of the Ducks’ shots last regular season. Looking at only postseason numbers, two of the top five shot-takers are not returning, as Teemu Selanne (24) & Nick Bonino (22) are not returning. These shooters accounted for over 13% of the shots taken in the postseason.

Over 15% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Nick Bonino (22) & Mathieu Perrault (18) are with other teams. The Ducks have added Nick Ritchie (39), Ryan Kesler (25), & Shea Theodore (22) to more than make up for the missing goals.

Three of the leading six assisters will not be with the Ducks this season as Nick Bonino (27), Mathieu Perrault (25, signed with Winnipeg), & Daniel Winnik (24) are not returning. To take their vacant spots, the Ducks have signed Shea Theodore (57, drafted last season), Kenton Helgesen (41, drafted last season), & Nick Ritchie (35, drafted this season). These new additions have the potential to greatly exceed the numbers of the players they are replacing based on their stats from last season in lower leagues & could have a strong influence on the already potent Anaheim offense.

Only one of the top five +/- guys in the regular season have been lost in Dustin Penner (22, traded to Washington in March). With him, the Ducks also lost two of the positive +/- players during the playoffs. Nick Bonino (3) & Daniel Winnik (1) were two of only five Ducks to post a number higher than zero for the 13 playoff games. To make up for these lost numbers, Anaheim has signed Kenton Helgesen (31). His regular season statistics greatly exceed Penner’s, albeit in a lower league, & Anaheim hopes that he continues his growth in the Honda Center.

The Ducks lost two of their top seven penalty minute earners in Saku Koivu (46) & Luca Sbisa (43). Sadly, the Ducks picked up Nick Ritchie (136), John Kurtz (112, played in Norfolk last two seasons), Clayton Stoner (84, signed from Minnesota), Ryan Kesler (81), Andrew O’Brien (74, drafted in 2012), Christopher Wagner (68, drafted in 2010), Louis Leblanc (67), Kenton Helgesen (67), Joseph Cramarossa (59, drafted in 2011), & Max Friberg (55, drafted in 2011). This is one of the main spots where Anaheim lost a lot of ground. The new players, especially the young guys, will need to refine their discipline from taking so many penalty minutes, or Anaheim’s defense will be too exhausted to get back to the dressing rooms between periods.

Present roster consists of 27 forwards, 15 defensemen, & six goalies (48 men).

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.

Boston Bruins 2014- 2015 Season Preview

2014 Offseason
Losses: (Free Agency) F Jarome Iginla, F Shawn Thornton, G Chad Johnson, D Andrej Meszaros (Trades) D Johnny Boychuk

Additions: (Free Agency) G Jeremy Smith (Trades) No one

While the Boston Bruins knew they would lose Chad Johnson, Andrej Meszaros, and Shawn Thornton heading into free agency, the Bruins treaded uncharted waters on the Jarome Iginla front. Within hours of free agency opening, Iginla decided to jettison Boston for Colorado and thus opened a hole on Boston’s first line. GM Peter Chiarelli did not have that much to deal with given the relatively weak RW free agents available and looked around the trade market, to the dismay of Bruins fans, nothing was gained on the right side in the offseason. Iginla’s thirty goals will instead have to be split among several players in the Bruins 2014- 2015 lineup, which is likely to see its core (when healthy) perform on a regular basis.

The questions remain as to who will be the replacement on the third and fourth line right wings, with Loui Eriksson moving up to the first line centered by David Krejci and anchored on the left side by Milan Lucic, and the other first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Reilly Smith still in tact (finally, after the lengthy holdout on resigning Smith and Torey Krug). Both Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner have made their cases for a roster spot, given their time in Providence last year and this preseason, however, with the plethora of centers in Boston, it is likely that someone like Spooner will end up playing a role on the wing, similar to what Carl Soderberg is doing already. With Jordan Caron appearing to be on his way to Providence, the only wild card from within the Bruins organization is this year’s first round selection, David Pastrnak. Pastrnak has the option of playing in Providence or back in Sweden should he not make the team- where he plays would be a collaborative decision between him and the Bruins front office staff. Simon Gagne was signed to a professional tryout agreement and remains as the only wild card, outside of the organization, pertaining to the 2014- 2015 Bruins roster.

On defense, the Bruins remain to look solid, despite the heavy loss of Johnny Boychuk in a trade with the New York Islanders. A healthy Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid will ease the roles and implementation of young defensemen such as Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller, Krug, and in the event of injuries, David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman. Notice, I’m not saying the Bruins defense is perfect. Without Boychuk the Bruins are much weaker in that they now do not have a solid group of top four defensemen. In time, however, Chiarelli might prove otherwise and be able to pull off a move for a defenseman Bruins fans have been waiting to see every year on their team, Keith Yandle. The rest of the outlook for the Bruins defense yields caution for Bartkowski, who is likely to be under heavy scrutiny (like he isn’t already) with Miller and Warsofsky ready to take the sixth and seventh defensemen spots. Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton continue to look like the strong defensive pair that they are.

In goal, defending Vezina Trophy winner, Tuukka Rask looks to continue his stellar career and strong numbers, with Niklas Svedberg the expected backup goaltender. The overall season outlook for the Boston Bruins carries high expectations that demand none other than at least an Eastern Conference Finals journey. Anything short of that is reason enough to be pulling hair out of your head in Boston, with the Bruins looking to be the only successful team in the Hub for at least the next couple of seasons (we won’t talk about the Red Sox, Celtics, or Patriots, okay?)- and given last year’s frustrating series loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Although, it’s not so much about losing to their rivals that ruined the Bruins, it was a lack of compete level and complete amnesic short-term memory loss about how to play hockey in the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals. So with regards to Chiarelli’s moves (and lack thereof) this offseason, I will reference NHL 14’s Be a GM mode, where my owner once told me “[w]elcome back to the regular season. I’m surprised by your moves- or lack thereof- this offseason. I hope you know what you are doing…”

2014 NHL Free Agency Recap

Recapping all of the signings from the entire day. Updated as necessary when newer deals are signed. Everything that is known is shown.

Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal worth $4 million with PIT.

Manny Malhotra signed a 1 year deal worth $850,000 with MTL.

Jori Lehtera signed a 2 year deal with STL.

Mark Fayne signed a 4 year deal worth $3.625 million a year with EDM.

Benoit Pouliot signed a 5 year deal worth $4 million a year with EDM.

Chad Johnson signed a 2 year deal worth $1.3 million a year with the NYI.

Milan Michalek signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with OTT. (Resigned)

Petr Mrazek signed a 1 year deal with DET. (Resigned)

Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal worth $7 million a year with STL.

Mike Camalleri signed a 5 year a deal worth $5 million a year with NJ.

Justin Peters signed a 2 year deal with WSH.

Tom Gilbert signed a 2 year deal worth $2.8 million a year with MTL.

Brad Malone signed a 2 year deal with CAR.

Jussi Jokinen signed a 4 year deal worth $4 million a year with FLA.

Mason Raymond signed a 3 year deal worth $3.167 million a year with CGY.

Dan Boyle signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 a year with NYR.

Jiri Sekac signed a 2 year deal worth with MTL.

Dave Bolland signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with FLA.

Clayton Stoner signed a 4 year deal worth $3.25 million a year with ANA.

Mike Weaver signed a 1 year deal worth $1.75 million with MTL. (Resigned)

Joe Vitale signed a 3 year deal worth $1.117 million a year with ARI.

Ryan Miller signed a 3 year deal worth $6 million a year with VAN.

Al Montoya signed a 2 year deal worth $1.050 million a year with FLA.

Anders Lindback signed a 1 year deal with DAL.

Ales Hemsky signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with DAL.

Blake Comeau signed a 1 year deal worth $700K with PIT.

Thomas Greiss signed a 1 year deal worth $1 million with PIT.

Jeremy Gregoire signed a 3 year deal with MTL.

Brian Gionta signed a 3 year deal worth $4.25 million a year with BUF.

Brooks Orpik signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with WSH.

Keith Aulie signed a 1 year deal worth $800,000 with EDM.

Mathieu Perreault signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with WPG.

Shawn Thornton signed a 2 year deal worth $1.2 million a year with FLA.

Jonas Hiller signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 million a year with CGY.

Adam Larsson signed a 1 year deal with NJ (Resigned).

Thomas Vanek signed a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million a year with MIN.

Stephane Robidas signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with TOR.

Dominic Moore signed a 2 year deal worth $1.5 million a year with NYR. (Resigned)

Tanner Glass signed a 3 year deal worth $1.45 million a year with NYR.

Mike Kostka signed a deal with NYR.

Bruno Gervais signed a 1 year deal with COL.

Nick Holden signed a 3 year deal worth $1.65 million a year with COL. (Resigned)

Derek Mackenzie signed a deal with FLA.

Brett Sutter signed a two way deal with MIN.

Matt Moulson signed a 5 year deal worth $5 million a year with BUF.

Martin Havlat signed a 1 year deal worth $1.5 million with NJ.

Phil McRae signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.

Brett Regner signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.

Cody McCormick signed a 3 year deal worth $4.5 million with BUF. (Resigned)

Nick Drazenovic signed a 2 year deal worth $550K with PIT. (Resigned)

Marcus Foligno signed a 2 year deal with BUF. (Resigned)

Jarome Iginla signed a 3 year deal worth $5.333 million a year with COL.

Leo Komarov signed a 4 year, $2.95 million contract with TOR.

Jiri Tlusty signed a 1 year, $2.95 million deal with CAR. (Resigned)

Peter Regin signed a 1 year $650K deal with CHI.

Anton Stralman signed a 5 year deal worth $4.5 million per year with TB.

Steve Bernier signed a 1 year, $600K deal with NJ. (Resigned)

Mike Angelids signed a 1 year, two way, contract with TB. (Resigned)

Chris Mueller signed a deal with the NYR.

Deryk Engelland signed a 3 year deal, worth $2.9 million a year with CGY.

Cody Bass signed a 1 year contract with CHI.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie signed a 1 year deal with CHI.

Scott Darling signed a 1 year with CHI.

Steven Kampfer signed a two-way contract with the NYR.

Kevin Porter signed a two-way contract with DET.

Jesse Winchester signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Scott Clemmensen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal with NJ.

Mike Blunden signed a two-way deal, worth $600K, with TB.

Andrej Meszaros signed a 1 year, $4.125 million, contract with BUF.

Ray Emery signed a 1 year, $1 million, contract with PHI. (Resigned)

Ron Zepp signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with PHI.

Matt Hunwick signed a 1 year deal, worth $600K, with the NYR.

Devan Dubnyk signed a 1 year deal, worth $800K, with ARI.

Luke Gazdic signed a 2 year deal with EDM. (Resigned)

Adam Cracknell signed a 1 year contract with LA.

David Van Der Gulik signed a 1 year contract with LA.

Brad Richards signed a 1 year, $2 million, deal with CHI.

Cedrick Desjardins signed a contract with the NYR.

Matt Niskanen signed a 7 year contract worth $40.25 million ($5.75 million a year) with WSH.

Willie Mitchell signed a 2 year deal, worth $4.25 million a year, with FLA.

Patrick Eaves signed a 1 year deal with DAL.

Joey MacDonald signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with MTL.

Brian Boyle signed a 3 year contract, worth $2 million a year, with TB.

Jon Landry signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

Mike Moore signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

Chris Breen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal (worth $600K NHL/$175K AHL) with BOS.

Stu Bickel has signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with MIN.

Marcel Goc signed a 1 year, $1.2 million, deal with PIT. (Resigned)

Matt Frattin signed a 2 year deal with TOR. (Resigned)

Evgeny Nabokov signed a 1 year deal with TB.

Taylor Chorney signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with PIT.

Drew MacIntyre signed a 1 year, two-way, (worth $600K if in the NHL) contract with CAR.

Harry Zolnierczyk signed a 1 year, two-way, $600K deal with the NYI.

Guillaume Gelinas signed an entry level contract with MIN.

Cory Conacher signed a 1 year contract with the NYI.

Jason LaBarbera signed a 1 year contract with ANA.

Zach Redmond signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Ben Street signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Kyle Quincey signed a 2 year, $4.25 per year, deal with DET. (Resigned)

Jack Skille signed a two-way deal with the NYI.

Chris Conner signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

For a complete and official list of Free Agent signings, check out this.

The First Round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft

                                  2014 NHL Entry Draft

  1. Florida Panthers                                  D Aaron Ekblad
  2. Buffalo Sabres                                    C Sam Reinhart
  3. Edmonton Oilers                                 C Leon Draisaitl
  4. Calgary Flames                                   C Sam Bennett
  5. New York Islanders                             LW Michael Dal Colle
  6. Vancouver Canucks                            LW Jake Virtanen
  7. Carolina Hurricanes                             D Haydn Fleury
  8. Toronto Maple Leafs                            C/LW/RW William Nylander
  9. Winnipeg Jets                                      LW Nikolaj Ehlers
  10. Anaheim Ducks (from OTT)                 LW Nick Ritchie
  11. Nashville Predators                             C/RW Kevin Fiala
  12. Arizona Coyotes                                  LW Brendan Perlini
  13. Washington Capitals                           C Jakub Vrana
  14. Dallas Stars                                         D Julius Honka
  15. Detroit Red Wings                               C Dylan Larkin
  16. Columbus Blue Jackets                       LW Sonny Milano
  17. Philadelphia Flyers                               D Travis Sanheim
  18. Minnesota Wild                                    C/RW Alex Tuch
  19. Tampa Bay Lightning                           D Anthony DeAngelo
  20. Chicago Blackhawks (from SJ)            C Nick Schmaltz
  21. St. Louis Blues                                     C Rob Fabbri
  22. Pittsburgh Penguins                             RW Kasperi Kapanen
  23. Colorado Avalanche                             C Conner Bleakley
  24. Vancouver Canucks (from ANA)           C Jared McCann
  25. Boston Bruins                                       RW David Pastrnak
  26. Montreal Canadiens                             LW Nikita Scherbak
  27. San Jose Sharks (from CHI)                 LW Nikolay Goldobin
  28. New York Islanders (from TB via NYR) C/RW Josh Ho-Sang
  29. Los Angeles Kings                                LW Adrian Kempe
  30. New Jersey Devils                                C John Quenneville

Trades Made

(Pre Draft)

– VAN traded Ryan Kesler and a 2015 3rd round pick to ANA for Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, and this year’s 1st and 3rd round picks (24th and 85th overall).

– VAN traded Jason Garrison, the rights to Jeff Costello, and a 2015 7th round pick to TB for this years 2nd round pick (50th overall).

– VAN traded this year’s 3rd round pick (85th overall) to the NYR for Derek Dorsett.

(During the Draft)

– PIT traded James Neal to NSH for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

– SJ traded the 20th overall pick and the 179th overall pick to CHI for the 27th overall pick and the 62nd overall pick.

– TB traded the 28th overall pick to the NYI for the 35th overall pick and 57th overall pick.

Congrats to all the players selected in the first round of this year’s draft! Tune into NHL Network tomorrow at 10 AM EST for rounds 2 through 7. Good luck to all of those being drafted in their future careers and endeavors.