Tag Archives: NHL

Should he stay or should he go? (feat. Loui Eriksson)

By: Nick Lanciani

The Boston Bruins have a big decision to make leading up to this year’s trade deadline. If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a lot of speculation surrounding Boston’s RW Loui Eriksson and his future with the franchise.

UnknownBased on the latest trades in the NHL, the market value of someone of Eriksson’s stature could yield more than enough to satisfy the Bruins front office for the next few years. Just think, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to get two 2nd round picks (and Raffi Torres) from the San Jose Sharks for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling.

If the Maple Leafs could get two 2nd round picks for their fire sale, think of what the Bruins could get for a player on the verge of his best season since at least the 2011-2012 regular season and on pace to reach the 70 point plateau.

The fact of the matter is that Loui Eriksson is a very versatile player. Three years removed from the infamous Tyler Seguin trade with the Dallas Stars, Boston has finally seen what they expected all along from Eriksson on the ice. He goes to the right places, can be found on the rush and is dependable on the power play, if not deadly on special teams on a night-to-night basis.

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Could it be the end of Loui Eriksson in Black and Gold? (Photo via author)

Eriksson has 23-25-48 totals so far in 60 games played this season; already besting his 22-25-47 totals last season over 81 games played and significantly improving upon his 10-27-37 total production in an injury plagued 61 game season in his first year in Boston during the 2013-2014 run that culminated in a Bruins second round playoff exit to the rival Montreal Canadiens. In 12 career playoff games with the B’s, Eriksson has put up two goals and three assists.

The offensive upside to Eriksson’s game is crucial to his role as a top six forward. Yet, the 30-year old is on the final year of a six-year, $4.250 million AAV deal and is only expected to earn more, much more, in comparison to what the Bruins might be able to offer in an extension. Had the two sides discussed a deal much earlier in the season (prior to Eriksson’s rampage on the scoresheet), Boston might have been able to secure Eriksson to a similar deal to the one that is soon to expire.

He is a dependable forward that brings a lot more to the table than Nick Spaling will bring to San Jose. By comparison, Eriksson makes Spaling look like a fourth liner (if not a depth forward) on just about any NHL roster.

Compared to a player of similar caliber, but only a couple of years younger, Loui Eriksson could be raking in a well deserved raise similar to the 28-year old Anze Kopitar’s $80 million over 8 years extension with the Los Angeles Kings. Somewhere in the ballpark between $6.000 to $8.000 million AAV for any amount of time is well worth the chance for Eriksson to take the money and run.

And the Bruins don’t have the room for that. Granted, their salary cap crunch days are much better than last year’s numbers.

In the next two free agency cycles the Boston Bruins will have to resign a plethora of young stars including, Ryan Spooner ($950,000), David Pastrnak ($925,000), Brett Connolly ($1.000 million), Brad Marchand- who by the way is having a career year himself this year- ($4.500 million), Torey Krug ($3.400 million), Colin Miller ($600,000), Seth Griffith ($750,000) and quite possibly Alexander Khokhlachev ($800,000) assuming the Bruins don’t try to package the disgruntled Providence Bruin who has hinted at jettisoning the spoked-B for the KHL.

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Will the Bruins give up on second chances for Alexander Khokhlachev? (Photo via author)

At least for Boston, they have some comfort in knowing that Milan Lucic’s retained salary of $2.750 million is coming off the books after this season and that forwards, Chris Kelly ($3.000 million) and Max Talbot ($900,000) may not be resigned. Kelly for sure will likely be forced to search for a job elsewhere in the league or face retirement in his comeback from a fractured left femur just 11 games into the season.

So it all comes back down to what is here and now- Loui Eriksson.

Without a doubt, Eriksson has a long future left in the NHL with any team in the league. Where he might end up is not necessarily clear, but the Bruins should seek to land a 1st round pick, a prospect, and a solid forward or top-4 defenseman at the very least in an exchange for just Loui Eriksson.

The more pieces you add to the puzzle, the more things appear to stack up in favor of Boston (at least from a negotiating side). The Bruins have plenty of chips to put on the table with Eriksson, Khokhlachev and even Kevan Miller (who’s superb on the physical aspect of defense and shot blocking) to offer to a team that’s on the border or well within the cutoff of the playoff picture. Bruins GM Don Sweeney also has a couple of 1st round picks that he could dangle in front of an attractive trading partner.

So while it might be sad to see such a productive player go in one of his best seasons, it just might be one of those classic examples of a “good hockey trade”- something reminiscent of when the Bruins brought in Phil Esposito or the like. Who knows, it just might be enough to put them in Cup contention for 2016.

(And as requested by our in-house music guru, Connor, he wouldn’t let me get away with the title without alluding to this).

TRADE: Toronto ships Polak and Spaling to San Jose

Early on Monday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded D Roman Polak and F Nick Spaling to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for San Jose’s 2nd round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, San Jose’s 2nd round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, and F Raffi Torres one week before this year’s trade deadline.

Unknown.pngPolak is a 29-year old defenseman who had one goal and 12 assists in 55 games with Toronto this season. He is in the final year of a five year contract with an AAV of $2.75 million.

The 6’1″, 236-pound native of Ostrava, Czech Republic has played in 535 career regular season NHL games with the St. Louis Blues and the Maple Leafs, posting 19-82-101 career totals and 423 career penalty minutes. Polak has a +8 rating and 56 penalty minutes thus far in the 2015-2016 season, ranks 5th in the league in hits (220) and averaged 19:44 TOI per game with Toronto.

He was drafted by the Blues in the sixth round (180th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and has represented the Czech Republic internationally, including the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.

Spaling is a 27-year old forward who was in and out of the Maple Leafs lineup this season, amassing 1-5-6 totals in 35 games. He is a pending UFA with a cap hit of $2.2 million.

He played in 414 career NHL games with the Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto, amassing 50-68-118 totals and 114 penalty minutes. This year alone, Spaling had 18 penalty minutes over his 35 game span with the Leafs.

The 6’1″, 201-pound native of Palmerston, Ontario was drafted in the third round (58th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators and has previously played under current San Jose Sharks head coach, Peter DeBoer, during his time in Juniors with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

Polak bolsters San Jose’s blueline, while Spaling provides some much needed depth heading into the long run before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With about $107,000 left in cap space, the Sharks are likely done making trades until June at the earliest, unless they come up with a massive salary dump (thereby tanking in the process).

Unknown-3Torres, a 34-year old forward, has appeared in six games this season for the San Jose Barracuda (AHL) and will spend the rest of the season on loan from Toronto with the Barracuda.

Raffi Torres was previously acquired by the Sharks from the Arizona Coyotes on April 3, 2013 and played in 16 regular season games, scoring five goals and producing six assists. Torres had served a 41 game suspension this season for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg in a preseason game on October 3rd and has yet to see any NHL action.

No salary was retained in the deal.

This is now just the third trade prior the 2016 trade deadline on February 29th and all three have involved the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are in action on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators on home ice at the Air Canada Centre, while the San Jose Sharks square off with the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on Monday night. Polak and Spaling may join the Sharks at the latest on Wednesday night when San Jose travels to the Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Avalanche.

TRADE: Maple Leafs send Matthias to Colorado

 

By: Nick Lanciani

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded F Shawn Matthias to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for F Colin Smith and a 4th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on Sunday.

 

Unknown-1Matthias is a 28-year old forward who has played in 51 games this season for Toronto. He has 6-11-17 totals currently and signed with the Maple Leafs as a free agent on July 6, 2015.

The 6’4″, 231 pound center spent the 2014-2015 season with the Vancouver Canucks. He had a career high 18 goals and 27 points last season in 78 games. Matthias also took part in all six playoff games for Vancouver in their first round exit to the Calgary Flames, where he had a goal and an assist in the series.

The Mississauga, Ontario native has won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic and was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round (47th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Matthias made his NHL debut with the Florida Panthers in the 2007-2008 season and went on to amass 148 points in 459 career games with the Panthers, Canucks and Maple Leafs. He has 1-2-3 totals in 15 career playoff games.

Unknown-3Smith is a 22-year old product of the seventh round (192nd overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, where he was selected by the Colorado Avalanche. The 5’10”, 175 pound center has appeared in one career NHL game last season.

He had 13-21-34 totals in 54 games played with the San Antonio Rampage this season prior to the trade, and will likely spend time with the Toronto Marlies moving forward. Smith had 8-26-34 totals in 76 games played in the 2013-2014 season with the Lake Erie Monsters and 12-19-31 totals in 53 games last season with Lake Erie.

No salary was retained in the trade by either team. The Maple Leafs are in the process of clearing house and were able to take advantage of Colorado’s full roster to pry a prospect and a draft pick in exchange for the lack luster Shawn Matthias. Matthias is a pending UFA with a cap hit of $2.3 million and will likely fill the role of a third or fourth liner for Colorado as they embark on the push for a wild card spot for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche are in action on Sunday night in Vancouver to take on the Canucks while the Maple Leafs resume play on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre as they welcome the Nashville Predators. It looks like Matthias will join Colorado in time for their Wednesday night matchup with the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

 

Down the Frozen River Podcast #25- Joe Vitale is not like Michael Ryder

The Down the Frozen River crew takes a look at whether teams in the Western Conference should sell, sell, sell or buy, buy, buy this year at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. Connor doesn’t mess up a name for once, although he does confuse the position of a player or two. Next week the DTFR gang tackles the Eastern Conference with the trade deadline getting closer and closer.

Stay tuned for next week’s show, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

 

Down the Frozen River Podcast #24-Let’s Check the Standings

The Down the Frozen River crew talked about the standings and a little move that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators made earlier in the week. Also, Stamkos. Stay tuned for more next week, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

TRADE: Phaneuf sent to Sens in nine player deal

By: Nick Lanciani

With the trade deadline approaching on February 29th, I figured it’d be a good idea to recap the deals that are made before then and give you my two cents. So to start, thank you to the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs for giving me the first major trade before the deadline to write about while I’m in between classes.

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On Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs sent captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators in a large nine-player trade. Toronto also sent forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert, as well as defenseman Cody Donaghey to the Senators in exchange for defenseman Jared Cowen and forwards Milan Michalek, Colin Greening and Tobias Lindberg. The division rival Sens also included their 2nd round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as part of the deal.

This trade seemed inevitable, but comes as a bit of a surprise in its quick occurrence. The Senators have been known to have inquired about Phaneuf’s availability in the past, however given how the Phaneuf trade rumor mill had been relatively quiet in the public eye this season, it’s not surprising to be surprised.

That all might sound like a bunch of nonsense, and in a way it was supposed to not make sense, but listen folks, the Maple Leafs don’t have much hope for the rest of this season. They’ve got room to wheel and deal and have plenty of pieces to offer this season approaching the trade deadline.

While Toronto shipped Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the offseason, many were left wondering when the next domino to fall would come in a potential Phaneuf trade, given how Kessel and Phaneuf were high priority assets to move.

Now the time has come.

Dion Phaneuf joins the 25-23-6 overall (56 points) Ottawa Senators who are currently sixth in the Atlantic Division, trailing the New York Islanders by four points in the race for the second wild card position for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Phaneuf is expected to be paired alongside Cody Ceci on Wednesday night as the Senators take on the Detroit Red Wings.

Phaneuf, 30, has a lengthy term left on his contract at $7 million AAV through the 2020-2021 season. He’s had 3-21-24 totals so far in 51 games with Toronto this season. Given the youth movement in Ottawa over the last few seasons, he should start picking up more assists and see plenty of time on ice, easing the pressure on the Senators largely young presence on the blue line.

It’s not that the Senators are inexperienced on the back end of the game, with captain Erik Karlsson leading the charge as the Sens best defenseman (even if he is an offensive defenseman). Plus Ottawa has strength in Ceci, Marc Methot, and Patrick Wiercioch (notice, I didn’t say skill, I just said strength- as in these guys can push around the opposing team, but might not be superstars on their own or when they’re caught on a rush).

Ottawa has a developing presence on the blue line that’s seen some impressive performance at times from Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman, Erik Claesson and company and Phaneuf is only going to bring in more experience to help mold the youth movement into a force to be reckon with.

Phaneuf was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in the 2007-2008 season, a member of the NHL All-Star Rookie Team in 2006, an NHL First All-Star Team member in 2008, and has been part of three All-Star Game appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2012. He was a ninth overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames where he scored a career high 20 goals as a rookie in the 2005-2006 season.

On January 31, 2010, Phaneuf was traded to Toronto in a seven-player trade. He had 120 goals and 424 points in 801 regular season games in his career split between Toronto and Calgary.

Frattin is a 28-year old forward who has spent the entire 2015-2016 regular season with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League, scoring nine goals, 13 assists and 22 points in 47 games. He had 22-26-48 totals in 59 AHL games last season. In 135 career NHL games, Frattin has 17-18-35 totals split between the Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets.

If a change of scenery can help him now, then what went wrong before?

Bailey is a 24-year old forward who has 4-14-18 totals in 38 games for the Marlies this season. He has one career NHL goal in six games with the Maple Leafs last season.

Rupert is a 21-year old forward who has split the year between the Marlies and the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, combing for 9-8-17 totals in 36 games.

Donaghey is a 19-year old defenseman who has spent the year with the Halifax Mooseheads and the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He has 5-17-22 totals in 36 games this season in the Q.

Perhaps the more surprising elements of the deal were what the Senators gave up in Cowen, Michalek and Greening. Cowen is yet to enter his prime as a defenseman, however had a chance to become the leader of the younger blue liners in Canada’s capital. Cohen’s 6’5″, 238 pound build could prove to be a crucial part to Toronto’s defense if they can find a way to better utilize his size than the Senators did.

He’s 25-years old and has just four assists in 37 games this season, but could see time with Morgan Rielly or other younger defenseman and turn out to be a puck moving, shut-down, pair. It seems as though the Senators tried to rush his development too quickly before fully understanding what they had before them.

With Mike Babcock as Toronto’s head coach and his plethora of knowledge from the way he ran Detroit’s brick wall defense over the years, Cowen might finally get his chance to come into his own and shine.

Cowen was the ninth pick overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft for Ottawa and had 15-31-46 totals in 249 career games with the Senators.

Michalek is a 31-year old forward who can contribute both directly on the scoresheet and indirectly with his presence and puck movement on the ice. His 6-4-10 totals in 32 games this season mirror those of a typical glue guy on any NHL roster.

Michalek had a career high 35 goals for Ottawa in the 2011-2012 season and was a 20+ goal scorer in four consecutive seasons for the San Jose Sharks and Senators from 2006-2010. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and had 206-232-438 totals in 729 regular season games for San Jose and Ottawa.

Greening, 29, is another glue guy that had been buried in the AHL this season, having scored seven goals and 13 points in 41 games for the Binghamton Senators. He had 38-49-87 totals in 256 games for Ottawa over appearances in the last six seasons.

Lindberg is a 20-year old forward who has 5-17-22 totals in 34 games for the baby Senators his first professional season in the AHL. He was the 102nd overall pick of the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He had 32-46-78 totals in 67 games last season for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League.

Again, the Senators face the Red Wings on Wednesday in what will be Phaneuf’s debut with his new team. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs play the Flames on Tuesday night.

 

Down the Frozen River Podcast #23-Grab Some Popcorn

The Down the Frozen River crew takes a look at the impact of the 2016 All Star Game, John Scott, Connor McDavid, and NHL.com’s rebrand. Oh, and, Nick totally meant John Tavares when he said Jonathan Toews early in the podcast. Stay tuned for more next week, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

A Few Thoughts…

By: Nick Lanciani

Hello, it’s me- okay I promise I won’t get Adele stuck in your head. I’m back again (kind of) and I’m here to share a few thoughts with you on the state of the National Hockey League as we wrap up the 2016 NHL All Star Break and get ready for tonight’s games. Thank you for reading (and hopefully enjoying) my “Look to the Rafters” series last year. I had a lot of fun writing most of them before the season started, then making minor changes to them before posting them throughout the last several months as I tried to cram them into my busy schedule.

This is my first “real-time” post in a while that hasn’t just been a podcast, because I’ve had other commitments on weekends. Having said that, I’ll resume a regular column role after the Super Bowl because, well, I’ll be working this weekend (go Panthers! – Carolina Panthers, that is).

Anyway, how about the league parity this year? Every division is pretty close unless you’re the Columbus Blue Jackets, then there’s pretty much no hope (I’m sorry, good people of Columbus, Ohio).

Plenty of teams are in spectacular standings battles as we begin the rest of the season after the All Star Break (it’s not really the second half of the season, since every team has played over 41 games already ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). I’ll be taking a look at some trade deadline previews in the next week or two, as the trade deadline is looming over the horizon, but first here’s a few thoughts for your pleasure…

First, good for the NHL for finally stepping up to the plate and embracing John Scott at the All Star Game- that and the new 3 on 3 All Star Game format made it perhaps the best All Star Game since at least 2004. I won’t go into the hypocritical nuances and overtones from the entire All Star Weekend regarding the storylines the league was drumming up about John Scott, but I digress.

Second, John Scott has a way with words (and I mean it). If you still haven’t had the time to read Scott’s column in The Players’ Tribune go ahead and read it now, I’ll wait. You good now? If you’ve already read it, read it again. Scott’s piece is exceptional. It’s well crafted, well written, and well, better than anything I ever did/aim to do here on this site. Seriously, Mr. Scott, if you ever consider becoming a hockey blogger after you retire from the game someday, please write for us, as long as we’re still around however many years into the future.

Third, there’s plenty of speculation mounting regarding league expansion once again- then again, when hasn’t it been this season? I’m sure the league is doing everything in its power to carefully review and construct all the details that would be necessary to work out for any cautious business ventures that may or may not ultimately be made.

Again, however, not much has changed in the discussion at the end of the day. Québec City is still a beautiful city and deserves an NHL team, however, history may be repeating itself in that the Canadian dollar has been showing signs of the ultimate demise of the 1990s Quebec Nordiques. In other words, it’s not good.

You might ask, “what about revenue sharing?” and the answer is that the league already has a system in place that significantly boosts its smaller market Canadian teams (Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and even Ottawa- these are “small” in the sense that their financial backing is nothing compared to the Toronto Maple Leafs and/or the Montreal Canadiens).

Bottom line, it’s important to remember that 1) any sports franchise is expensive as heck to own and operate, especially if any public funding comes into play and 2) all Canadian teams generate revenue in Canadian dollars, but must pay their salaries in American dollars per the terms and conditions of the current CBA.

So, yeah, umm I’d like to see the Québec Nordiques resurrected, but not if it means that they’ll end up folding or relocating only a few years into a rebirth.

With regards to Las Vegas, T-Mobile picked up the tab on the naming rights for the new Las Vegas arena, so that’s promising for something, whether it’s hockey or just another entertainment venue ultimately. The league seems to have a special interest in the Las Vegas ownership group given its strong backing and the tremendous amounts of support that local Vegas residents have shown in hopes of landing an NHL gig.

And for you, good people of Las Vegas, Nevada, I am hopeful. Just as hopeful as I am for the wonderful citizens of Le Ville de Québec. Indeed, it would be a shame if this is all for nothing for now, but at least the serious level of the discussions is out there, are tangible, and within reach of hopefully putting something together.

As for Seattle, remember they are not part of the formal expansion application/discussion process at this time because they still cannot come to terms on building a new NHL/NBA ready arena in the Seattle metropolitan area.

Which, hey, if you wonderful people of Seattle, Washington got on that, we could be talking about another possible expansion team and almost being able to balance the conferences again (and that right there, lies another issue potentially holding expansion back- the imbalance of the conferences as they are and as they would be by adding teams in Québec and Las Vegas).

All I know is that I’m glad I’m not the one that is responsible for making all of these decisions. I’d much rather be a GM right now that’s having to debate trading a major component of a franchise or not and praying he doesn’t leave in free agency if he doesn’t resign (I’m looking at you, Mr. Yzerman). It seems as though at the end of the day, dealing with player contracts that don’t yield $500 million in expansion fees is much easier to crunch than well, what I just said about expansion fees.

Finally, thank you to the NHL, NWHL, CWHL, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Pride, and hockey fans everywhere for joining forces and continuing to support Denna Laing. It’s incredible to see the outpouring of compassion by the hockey community and helps make the world a better place.

I’ve seen some bad injuries in person before and I never want to have to see another stretcher on the ice again, but it’s nice to know and see how positive Denna Laing has remained through the last month and has given a newfound hope for us all to see that anything is possible and dreams may come true.

Let’s let our professional women’s athletes play another outdoor game as part of the Winter Classic festivities, let’s let our player’s play, and let’s have it televised, because there’s no reason to believe that women’s hockey is any less thrilling than men’s hockey.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #22- All Star Weekend

The Down the Frozen River crew tackles the All Star break in stride with thoughts on the relevance of the All Star Game, John Scott, and Dennis Wideman. Stay tuned for more next week, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

Down the Frozen River Podcast #21 (that’s right we skipped #20)

The Down the Frozen River crew kicks off 2016 with their first podcast of the year (well, that actually made its way onto the site, that is- we may resurrect #20 someday). This week the DTFR crew discusses Montreal, Jonathan Drouin, injuries, and guitar? Hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!