Tag Archives: Washington Capitals

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 Two- Central 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 Central Division Standings

  1. NSH 78 pts. (36-12-6) 54 GP
  2. STL 74 pts. (35-15-4) 54 GP
  3. CHI 69 pts. (33-18-3) 54 GP
  4. WPG 66 pts. (28-18-10) 56 GP
  5. MIN 59 pts. (26-20-7) 53 GP
  6. DAL 58 pts. (25-21-8) 54 GP
  7. COL 55 pts. (22-21-11) 54 GP

Unknown Nashville Predators (1st in the Central Division, 54 GP 36-12-6 record, 78 points)

The Nashville Predators are having themselves a remarkable season with a healthy goaltender, Pekka Rinne, in their lineup and everyone else playing their position fluidly. Filip Forsberg has been a tremendous surprise as a rookie with 18-30-48 totals in 54 games played. What might be more impressive is that their young defense has been able to step up to the task on most nights.

The Predators are holding up on the injury front, with only Ryan Ellis currently on the injured reserve, and lead the Central Division standings. While last season proved to be a bit shaky, their consistency this year should come as no surprise given their elite goaltending in Rinne and their head coach, Peter Laviolette’s, brilliance.

Nashville, surprisingly, has yet to see a long playoff run, though. This year is no exception to their hunger for more and they could be active in trying to acquire that one last key piece or two in order to perfect their roster and bolster up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then again, the age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could work well for the Predators when it comes to deadline day.

However, going into the stretch run of the season, it might be smart for the Nashville to pick up a depth defenseman or two, as well as a possible depth forward. Especially with the moves their division rival, Winnipeg Jets, have made acquiring Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford- both of which will likely be regular components to their lineup, but in both cases, the Jets added to their plethora of options. That is just about the only thing advisable to the Nashville Predators organization heading into the trade deadline and I’m sure they are already well aware.

Unknown-1 St. Louis Blues (2nd in the Central Division, 54 GP 35-15-4 record, 74 points)

Despite some recent struggles, the St. Louis Blues are rolling along this season. Brian Elliott and Jake Allen have held up strong in goal, Vladimir Tarasenko emerged as one of the league’s most prolific scorers, and their defense has been solidifying their presence on the ice on a nightly basis.

Much like the Nashville Predators, though, the St. Louis Blues could use some depth. We are reaching the point in the season where any injury could make or break your chances of a deep run in the playoffs. With only Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Porter on the injured reserve, the Blues have found a way to remain healthy at this point in the season.

There really are no holes in their roster that contains an excellent mixture of youth and experience, so there’s nothing that immediately needs filling or getting rid of. Sure, Saint Louis could go with this roster moving forward, but I think their best bet would be to try to add without subtracting in order to avoid yet another early playoff exit.

As it is right now, the Blues would be playing the Chicago Blackhawks and I’m pretty certain history would show that Saint Louis wouldn’t fare too well against Chicago. That is why the Blues must focus on depth skaters to combat injury and give them options heading into the playoffs.

Unknown-2 Chicago Blackhawks (3rd in the Central Division, 54 GP 33-18-3 record, 69 points)

The Chicago Blackhawks, in recent years, are annual contenders for the Cup. Their legitimacy is what keeps the rest of the Western Conference teams trembling and stockpiling as much bang for their buck on their rosters.

Currently the Blackhawks are just trucking along in 3rd place in Central Division standings. With a roster that includes superstars, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and (when it really counts) Corey Crawford, how could Chicago A) have any more room for talent and B) be able to keep them all with the uncertainty of next year’s salary cap figure?

Regardless, nothing is plaguing the Blackhawks in the current state of the league. So it comes as no surprise that I don’t expect Chicago to be wheeling and dealing at the deadline. Could they bring in a depth skater or two? Certainly. I think most successful teams looking to make a deep playoff run operate on a basis of trying to get a depth rental player if they can- in order to have a dependable player to fall back on if an injury were to occur.

To summarize, it’s a keep on keeping on mentality in Chicago at this point of the year. As long as they have home ice in the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter where they end up in the standings, although I’m sure they’d prefer to be at the top anyway.

Unknown-3 Winnipeg Jets (4th in the Central Division, 56 GP 28-18-10 record, 66 points 1st Wild Card in the Western Conference)

The Winnipeg Jets have made the biggest splash in both the terms of being a delightful surprise this season, as well as on the trade market so far with the acquisition of Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, and Branden Lemieux from the Buffalo Sabres.

The Jets are currently the first wild card representative from the Western Conference and are situated in a tight battle for the Central Division. With the Buffalo deal, Winnipeg stockpiled on talent and could even still make further moves come March 2nd.

There are no guarantees, but then again, there also doesn’t seem to be that much needed within Winnipeg’s roster (at least on paper). Michael Hutchinson has played some stellar goaltending and the league’s smallest market has certainly been heard all season as one of the loudest voices talking serious about playoff hockey hopes, chances, and a potential run for the Cup.

But cool your jets before you get too far ahead of yourself. While the entire Central Division may be the NHL’s strongest division in the league, only a couple of teams from the division may even advance far enough into the playoffs.

Based on recent playoff experience and success alone, the Jets have a mountain to climb to overcome the playoff dominant Chicago Blackhawks and the annual playoff contending St. Louis Blues, in their division alone. If either team stays quiet on the trade front, then I’d expect Winnipeg to make at least one more move to get them over the hump- and trust me, they’re already getting plenty of calls.

 Unknown-4Minnesota Wild (5th in the Central Division, 53 GP 26-20-7 record, 59 points)

The Minnesota Wild are one of those teams you just got to feel bad for this season. Despite their recent growth in depth and playoff experience, the injury bug continues to plague the Wild organization.

No one is certain what the future in goal holds for Minnesota. How much older can Niklas Backstrom get and still be considered their starting goaltender? Has Devan Dubnyk finally found a stable place to play? And then there’s always Darcy Kuemper and whatever the future brings for his goalie career.

While the Wild might not be able to pull off a deal at the deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them shopping around Backstrom, given his age and the uncertainty of how he’ll hold up, injury wise (one can’t forget his recent injury struggles).

But the problem for Minnesota may not reside in their goaltending. Perhaps their roster could get younger, at least among the forwards. A player like Stephane Veilleux might be expendable enough to bring in something fresh. The Wild have a young, largely unexperienced defensive core and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to take away from it. I tend not to think that Minnesota is in dire need of anything really (much like the rest of the Central Division), however if they could acquire some healthy players, that would be a good thing.

The strength of the Central Division is so strong currently, that if your roster even has one or two players on the injured reserve, you could be in for a dismal season. Minnesota has four players on the injured reserve, meaning that hope is likely gone for this season (by no means, technically, is their season a complete lost cause), but their future may be brighter. I’d expect the Wild to continue doing what they’ve been doing recently- building from free agency.

Unknown-5 Dallas Stars (6th in the Central Division, 54 GP 25-21-8 record, 58 points)

Fans of the Dallas Stars are riding a rollercoaster of emotion for the last couple of seasons. After finally getting back to the playoffs last season for the first time since the Detroit Red Wings knocked the Stars out of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Dallas finds themselves on the outside looking in.

While none of the Central Division teams are mathematically out of contention for a playoff run, the jury remains on recess in the spiritual and realistic manners. Dallas only has two players on the injured reserve currently (Patrik Nemeth and Valeri Nichushkin) and they just acquired some much needed backup goaltending in their trade with Buffalo this week for Jhonas Enroth- finally ridding themselves of the overhyped Anders Lindback.

Yet with stars on the Stars, such as Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Alex Goligoski, and Kari Lehtonen, how is it possible for Dallas to be situated 6th in the division? The answer may reside in their forwards, who surprisingly can provide enough of a spark some nights, but other nights lack consistency.

A player like Vernon Fiddler may be very attractive to a team looking to make a playoff run and would probably fit well with a team like the Washington Capitals or the Pittsburgh Penguins with the way he currently is playing, especially as a valuable second or third liner (something that at least the Penguins could use). Come to think of it, perhaps the Boston Bruins could find a way to fit in a guy like Vernon Fiddler into their roster. Either way, if Dallas is forced to sell at all on the deadline, the phone lines should remain open on Fiddler.

Another forward worth dangling on the fishing line for a potential trade is Erik Cole. The veteran has found a way to find the net again with the Stars and at the very least would bring in a veteran presence to any playoff inexperienced team looking for some locker room stability in the long run.

Last but not least- well, maybe least- Shawn Horcoff is 36 and definitely has got to be on the move from the Stars. The center has proven to be inconsistent and an injury waiting to happen in recent years. If the Stars seek to improve, they’d at least move Horcoff and either Fiddler or Cole for a younger player to compliment the likes of Spezza, Patrick Eaves, and Ales Hemsky in their currently over thirty-years-old lineup.

If the magic works out and the Stars start to go on a tear with their veterans leading the charge up in the Central Division standings, then go ahead and prove me wrong and don’t trade anyone. But if inconsistencies continue to plague the organization, then it might make sense to move on in the right way.

Colorado Avalanche Logo Colorado Avalanche (7th in the Central Division, 54 GP 22-21-11 record, 55 points)

The Colorado Avalanche have taken a page from the book of the Boston Red Sox apparently, as they have gone from one of the worst teams in their division to first in the Central Division last year- back to their current status of last in the division so far this season. Their rise and fall in divisional standings has been one of the most perplexing situations this season.

While injury has troubled last season’s Vezina Trophy finalist, Semyon Varlamov, in goal, surely an offense with the likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jarome Iginla (a thirty goal scorer last season with the Boston Bruins) would’ve be able to compensate for the carousel of goalies earlier in the year and the young defensemen.

Yet, here they are with six players on the injured reserve (Patrick Bordeleau, Jamie McGinn, Borna Rendulic, Jesse Winchester, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Wilson) at the bottom of the Central Division. Johnson’s absence certainly would send shockwaves through the Avalanche’s defensive unit, as it would to any team that loses their number one defenseman for any extended period of time.

Given that Daniel Briere clearly isn’t working out in Colorado, wouldn’t it make sense to try to move him by the deadline in (if not a desperate attempt to save the season) an attempt to bring in some talent youth that could build on whatever success is left in this season for next season? With the Colorado’s plethora of prospects coming up in the rankings, would it be crazy to think that they could work out a deal with Toronto for Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Daniel Winnik (a former Av), or Cody Franson?

Any one of those players would be an attractive option for the Avalanche organization, as well as an attractive destination for Toronto to send some or all of those players. Colorado meets several aspects of the Maple Leaf’s trading partner’s checklist. The Avalanche are a non factor this year, they’re in the Western Conference, and if the Avalanche turn things around at all, while the Maple Leafs continue to fall- the odds are that Toronto would end up with a higher draft pick than the Avalanche.

Among Cody McLeod, John Mitchell, Maxime Talbot, Alex Tanguay, and Jesse Winchester, the Avalanche should only commit to two or three of them. Given that Winchester is currently on the IR, a trade involving an injured player won’t happen. With Talbot having mild success in Colorado, he’s one to keep. Tanguay, on the right line, fits the Avalanche style of play (especially since they are the team that drafted him, after all).

But what kind of offers could the Avalanche get in return for the 30 year old Mitchell, who plays center, but could also probably play wing for a playoff contending team? This has to be something that Colorado is at least willing to listen to. And as great as McLeod has been for the Avalanche as an enforcer, perhaps it’s time for someone younger to step into his role and carry the team’s energetic side.

Jan Hejda, Brad Stuart, or Nate Guenin could be valuable older defensemen for any contending team in search of a depth defenseman or someone to get them to the Cup Finals. But the consequences of trading any of their veteran defenseman could be dire, unless Colorado is able to acquire a veteran defenseman or guarantee a veteran defenseman in free agency.

While the Avalanche aren’t quite in the same position as say the Minnesota Wild when it comes to young inexperienced defensemen, Colorado should continue to tread the waters carefully as Johnson and Wilson get back from injury and the rest of the defensemen develop.

Ultimately, Colorado is faced with the choice to buy or sell. Right now, it looks like they’ll be doing some clearance rack shopping, and used merchandise sales.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith returns to the Down the Frozen River scene with this season preview of the Pittsburgh Penguins. 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.

Pittsburgh Penguins (51-24-7, won division, second in conference)

After yet another early exit from the playoffs (fourth time kicked out of playoffs in first or second round of playoffs since winning the Cup in the 2008-’09 season), Mario Lemieux & Ronald Burkle have pulled the plug on the entire coaching staff & GM Ray Shero (2006-’14). Since then, the Penguins have hired Jim Rutherford to replace Shero, Mike Johnston to replace Dan Bylsma, & Rick Tocchet to replace Tony Granato & Tood Reirden.

Mike Johnston 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 New Brunswick for five seasons (1989-’94). After being hired by the Canadian men’s team in 1994 as an associate coach, he took the head coaching job in 1998 for a season. He departed Team Canada for an assistant position with the Vancouver Canucks, followed by being an associate coach of the Los Angeles Kings. His most recent position is with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), from 2008 until last season as coach & GM.

His first season witnessed the Winterhawks going 19-48-3-2, second to last in the league. The following season, Johnston’s Winterhawks (44-25-2-1) finished fourth in a competitive division for fifth in the conference, losing in the second round of the playoffs. In his third season, his team led the conference at 50-19-0-3 for third in the league. The Hawks made it all the way to the finals before losing to Kootenay. In 2011-’12, his team again made it to the finals, losing a deciding game seven.

Of course, the year the Winterhawks finally won their championship, Johnston was suspended for recruiting violations. As his violations were more connected to his GM position in a junior league, I don’t predict that he will have similar problems in Pittsburgh. He has proven that he can make rapid growth in only the course of one season, which may be exactly what the Pens need to cross the bridge between strong & elite.

Jim Rutherford is an ex-goalie (potential influence on future goalie signings, either this season or the near future?), playing for Pittsburgh from 1971 until traded to Detroit in the middle of January 1974. For the past 20 years, he has been the General Manager of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise, winning a division championship in 1998-’99, 2001-’02, & 2005-’06, a conference championship in 2001-’02 & 2005-’06, & winning the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in the 2005-’06 season. So far with the Penguins, he has signed six free agents & traded James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist & Nick Spaling.

Of course, the biggest question Penguins have is their goaltending. Based on moves made so far, Marc-Andre Fleury is still Pittsburgh’s starting goalie. He had a save percentage of 91.5% for the regular season, averaging 2.47 goals against per game. As much as everyone likes to get on Fleury during the playoffs, he didn’t have the meltdown people like to associate with him. In fact, in his 13 playoff games, he matched his regular season save percentage exactly, as well as giving up .07 less goals in those playoff games. He also had two shutouts over the postseason (almost 29% of playoff wins were shutouts), in addition to the five he had in the regular season (13% of his wins were shutouts), tied for fourth in the league.

The Pens also retained Jeff Zatkoff, who played in 20 regular season games last year for a 20-12-6, including a shutout. His save percentage in those games was 91.2% & he allowed 2.29 goals per game.

In addition, the Penguins also signed Arizona’s backup of a season ago in Thomas Greiss. In 25 games last season, he amassed a record of 10-8-5 (two shutouts, equaling Fleury’s eight percent of games played where the opponent was held scoreless) with a save percentage of 92% (better than both Penguin goalies, but with a smaller sample than Fleury), allowing only 2.29 goals per game (lower than both Pittsburgh goalies). Based on last year’s stats alone, he may take the backup position from Zatkoff.

The Pens come into the season having lost some big names, most notably Jussi Jokinen (signed with Florida), James Neal (traded to Nashville), & Matt Niskanen (signed with Washington).

They lost two of the top four players with most regular season games with the Penguins last season in Matt Niskanen & Jussi Jokinen both playing 81 regular season games last year. Additionally, they lost seven of the top 19 players with the most playoff games with the Penguins last season in James Neal, Jussi Jokinen, Matt Niskanen, Lee Stempniak (signed with the Rangers), Joe Vitale (signed with Arizona) (all played in all 13 games), Brian Gibbons (signed with Columbus), & Tanner Glass (signed with the Rangers) (both played eight games). The Penguins are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Christian Erhoff (Buffalo) & Patric Hornqvist (Nashville), who both played 75 games last season.

The Penguins are not bringing back half of their top six shot takers this year as James Neal (238), Jussi Jokinen (172), & Matt Niskanen (162, led defensemen) are not returning. These three players accounted for over 23% of the Penguins’ shots last regular season. Looking at only postseason numbers, eight of the top 19 shot-takers are not returning, as James Neal (49, led team), Jussi Jokinen (31), Matt Niskanen (24), Lee Stempniak (22), Joe Vitale (13), Brian Gibbons (11), Tanner Glass (10), & Brooks Orpik (eight, signed with Washington) are not returning. These shooters accounted for over 38% of the shots taken in the postseason.

Almost 20% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as James Neal (27) & Jussi Jokinen (21) are with other teams. The Penguins have added Patric Hornqvist (22) to try to make up for the missing goals, but he only makes up for Jokinen’s, meaning other players including new addition Nick Spaling (13 last season, acquired from Nashville) & returner Brandon Sutter (13) will need to step up their goal scoring.

Three of the leading five assisters will not be with the Penguins this season as Jussi Jokinen (36), Matt Niskanen (36, led defensemen), & James Neal (34) are not returning. To make up for this, the Pens have signed Patric Hornqvist (31), Christian Erhoff (27), & Steve Downie (20, signed from Philadelphia). These new additions don’t match the talent lost in this stat column, but they also didn’t have Sidney Crosby (36 goals), Chris Kunitz (35 goals), James Neal (27 goals), & Evgeni Malkin (23 goals) on their team.

Six of the top 11 +/- guys in the regular season have been lost, including Matt Niskanen (33, led team), James Neal (15), Jussi Jokinen (12), Brian Gibbons (five), & Lee Stempniak (five). Included in that, the Penguins also lost eight of the top 17 +/- players during the playoffs. Combined, Brooks Orpik (six), Jussi Jokinen (five), James Neal (two), Brian Gibbons (two), Tanner Glass (zero), Joe Vitale (zero), & Matt Niskanen (negative two) all total to 13, greater than the rest of the remaining team’s score of 12. To make up for these lost numbers, Pittsburgh has signed Nick Spaling (two), Patric Hornqvist (one), & Steve Downie (one). The three of them, though, only rival Jussi Jokinen’s contributions last season, so they will need to improve in that aspect.

The Penguins lost five of the top nine penalty minute earners in Tanner Glass (90, “led” the Penguins last season), Deryk Engelland (58, signed with Calgary), James Neal (55), Matt Niskanen (51), & Brooks Orpik (46). Sadly, the Pens picked up Steve Downie, who had minutes (106) equal to Neal & Niskanen combined. New hire Nick Spaling only served 14 minutes in the sin bin last season, which averaged out to almost 12 seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Penguins from defending the power play.

Present roster consists of 12 forwards, six defensemen, & three goalies (21 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).

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.

NHL Free Agency 2014

Be on the lookout for updates on our Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) and our analysis right here on Down the Frozen River!

Analysis:

Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal, worth $4 million, with the Pittsburgh Penguins and kicked things off for free agency this year. This is a great deal for both sides as Ehrhoff won’t be tied down to PIT, should things not improve, and PIT won’t be tied down to Ehrhoff in this, the salary cap world.

Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal, worth $28 million ($7 million cap hit), with the St. Louis Blues. Stastny returns home to STL and becomes the third Stastny to play with STL (his brother Yan and his father Peter both played for St. Louis at one point in time). This is a lucrative deal for Stastny, who gets what he wants and the terms he wants it on, and for St. Louis, which adds strength down the middle in a solid veteran.

Dan Boyle signed a 2 year, $4.5 million per year, contract with the New York Rangers. Strength on the blue line continues for the blue shirts, however, with Rick Nash still on the team as a forward, this proves their offensive strength stills needs to be worked on.

Ryan Miller signed a 3 year, $6 million per, contract with the Vancouver Canucks today and led the charge for free agent goalies, both in the sense that he was the best available and in the fact that several goalies then followed and signed with many teams immediately after Miller’s announcement. The irony in Miller going to Vancouver, of course, is that 2010 wasn’t very kind to him in the Olympics that were held there. The fact that it is a short term deal does not surprise me, but rather makes a good point of if things don’t work out, VAN doesn’t have to hold on as long as they did with Roberto Luongo.

Brooks Orpik crossed enemy lines and went to the Pittsburgh Penguins rival, the Washington Capitals on a 5 year contract, worth $5.5 million a year. Just think, Brooks Orpik and Mike Green, well that’s just like Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang. Defensive defenseman with an offensive defenseman.

Thomas Vanek signed  a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million, per year, with Minnesota and reunites with Jason Pominville (like what everyone expected in the past). Look for many more wrist shots coming from Minnesota now.

Jarome Iginla went to Colorado on a 3 year, $16 million, deal and left better chances of winning the Cup with Boston for the Av’s who appear to be at least two to three years out of being a serious Cup contender- ironically the length of his contract. Or basically, Iginla said to the Bruins, “I like you, but I don’t like you, like you (again).”

Everyone has been waiting on what Matt Niskanen would do all afternoon, so it came as no surprise when a deal was announced. Niskanen and the Washington Capitals came to an agreement on a seven year contract worth $40.25 million and the Capitals bolstered their blue line. It is tough to choose from which is the bigger signing for the Capitals between Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, regardless, they should have no trouble at all getting used to one another in Washington and facing their rival, and former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins next season. If you asked me, though, and I were starting a team and could only pick one of them, I’d take Orpik.

Other big signings will appear shortly. Check out the newest post for a recap of all the deals.

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.

2014 Mock NHL Entry Draft

1. Florida Panthers      D Aaron Ekblad          Barrie (OHL)

Florida needs what Florida needs- defense. Sign a few free agent forwards, or make a good trade, and they have the potential to do a lot more now that they have a solidified goaltender in net.

2. Buffalo Sabres                     C Sam Reinhart            Kootenay (WHL)

Sabres have some good depth on defense with young players and whatnot, but they need to focus on growing offensively with Grigorenko and Girgensons.

3. Edmonton Oilers                 C Leon Draisaitl          Prince Albert (WHL)

6’1”, 208 pound, center that beefs up the Oilers down the middle. Just might be the miracle that Edmonton needs, or is that said every year? It’s time to develop a real plan and get active in the trade market if free agency isn’t going to work out for the Edmonton Oilers.

4. Calgary Flames                   C Sam Bennett            Kingston (OHL)

Calgary steals a good one that’ll do well alongside Sean Monahan.  He’s a two way center that everyone has had their eye on in the Sam and Sam battle between this year.

5. New York Islanders            LW Michael Dal Colle            Oshawa (OHL)

This power forward seems like he could be the key alongside Tavares. Then again, these days anyone could be the key with the Islanders because of the revolving door management has made so attractive. Their youth will improve, but they need a solid veteran that actually wants to be there. Doug Weight would you consider playing again, Gordie Howe or Chris Chelios style?

6. Vancouver Canucks            LW Jake Virtanen       Calgary (WHL)

In the expected aftermath, Kesler goes and Virtanen arrives. Vancouver’s got to find a goaltender as well. Hello Cam Ward? Or if the right moves are made, Ryan Miller? Anyone? Anyone?

7. Carolina Hurricanes            LW Nicholas Ritchie   Peterborough (OHL)

Carolina needs size in their lineup and at 6’2”, 226lbs, Ritchie packs a punch. What they also need is a new third jersey, but I’ll reserve that for another time.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs         C Jared McCann         Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

If they can’t acquire a good center, why not draft one? Either that or defense! Honestly, though, how can anyone in management focus in Toronto with all that is surrounding Dion Phaneuf, Nazim Kadri, Dave Bolland, and anyone else that I might have missed.

9. Winnipeg Jets                     RW Kasperi Kapanen KalPa (Finland)

Jets resolve some issues (Evander Kane) and work on building around Mark Scheifele. Better goalie needed- this is the market to get someone.

10. Anaheim Ducks (from OTT) LW Brendan Perlini           Niagara (OHL)

Talent runs deep in Anaheim, as noted by their season and GM of the year, Bob Murray. Another power forward drafted in the first round and another reason why the Ducks will improve their physicality to take on their rivaling California teams.

11. Nashville Predators           RW William Nylander            Sodertalje (SWE-2)

Seth Jones and Shea Weber need someone to score- they can’t do everything people. Nashville is going to be going through an interesting time now without Legwand and based on their last couple of seasons. This year will be a test as to whether or not they need a shakeup or something else.

12. Arizona Coyotes              D Haydn Fleury                     Red Deer (WHL)

Unsure of whether or not Keith Yandle may be trade bait the Coyotes pick a defenseman just in case. Also, another case for a new third jersey, only it should be retro and classy.

13. Washington Capitals         D Anthony DeAngelo                        Sarnia (OHL)

Washington takes a D-man because he’s an offensive defenseman (& offense wins, right Ovi). This year the Capitals learned that you can have the leading scorer and the worst plus minus in one player. Regardless, the Winter Classic will look cool in DC, right?

14. Dallas Stars                       C/RW Alex Tuch                    USA U18 (USHL)

He’s no Mike Modano, but he’s big (6’4”, 213) and can play a Western Conference style game. Youth movement continues in Dallas, and maybe they can land a big Star or two in a trade or free agent signing (oh and, yes, that pun was completely intended).

15. Detroit Red Wings            D Julius Honka                       Swift Current (WHL)

Defense wins championships. That’s been the mantra since, forever, for the Red Wings.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets     D Jack Dougherty                   USA U18 (USHL)

Columbus adds youth to their blue line and make moves this summer to become a contender. Bet on it. Admit it, you didn’t think they would be as competitive as they were against the Penguins. A healthy Nathan Horton and a leader in the locker room in the form of Scott Hartnell are the kind of veterans that you need and want to be involved with not only the team, but the surrounding community as well.

17. Philadelphia Flyers           LW Sonny Milano                  USA U18 (USHL)

The Flyers take a winger with good hands and hope to do better than this year. Isn’t that what everyone thinks every year? I’m not sure what else to say other than, Lecavalier. Irony comes in the form of Daniel Briere’s contract being bought out and then the same monstrosity being taken on by the Vincent Lecavalier signing, but you probably already knew that. Sorry to inflict pain.

18. Minnesota Wild                G Thatcher Demko                 Boston College (Hockey East)

We have the first goaltender of the draft! He had an impressive year at BC and is the best goalie in draft. Backstrom, Harding, Bryzgalov, Kuemper, someone make up their mind because Demko looks promising. In the meantime, hey BC, keep up with producing good goaltenders, okay?

19. Tampa Bay Lightning       LW Nikolaj Ehlers                  Halifax (QMJHL)

Ehlers falls unexpectedly but Tampa sticks to the Q (& Halifax- Jonathan Drouin last year, Ehlers this year) and gets a steal at 19th overall pick. 19 was also a good number for another reason, but I’m sure GM Steve Yzerman already knows.

20. San Jose Sharks                 C Dylan Larkin                       USNTDP (USHL)

Jumbo Joe or Marleau, which one will be the one to go? Larkin replaces them eventually. And I promise not to talk about the Kings in front of you, okay? Oh. Sorry.

21. St. Louis Blues                  C Ryan MacInnis                   Kitchener (OHL)

As in Al MacInnis’s son. Great skater that can play in any situation. Fits the Western Conference mold. By the way, are new jerseys on the way, because I bet they’d look awesome. St. Louis has a thing for making good looking jerseys.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins          LW Nikita Scherbak                Saskatoon (WHL)

Pittsburgh wanted Demko, but settles for a winger instead. He’s unselfish and great teammate. And the team needs a gold third jersey, but might I recommend one that is fresh and not a carbon copy of the nineties or eighties. I’m thinking rearranging the color palette on the home jersey and changing it to gold would look cool. But wear black helmets, because I’m not so sure gold helmets are a cool thing in hockey, unless you’re Notre Dame.

23. Colorado Avalanche          D Rolan McKeown                Kingston (OHL)

While Brendan Lemieux (Claude Lemieux’s son) drew interest from Jack Adams winner, Patrick Roy, the Av’s need another young defenseman to offset all of their young offense men from the last few seasons.

24. Anaheim Ducks                LW Brendan Lemieux             Barrie (OHL)

So the Ducks take him instead (see comment above). He’s scrappy and fits the rivalry with San Jose & Los Angeles. He compliments the Ducks roster nicely, especially if they do what everyone thinks they might do.

25. Boston Bruins                   C Nick Schmaltz                     Green Bay (USHL)

It was either a Swede, a Czech, or an American- and he’s good. At least, NHL Network told me he is. Either way, there’s no need to rush him in, the Bruins have enough down the middle for now.

26. Montreal Canadiens          LW Adrian Kempe                 Modo Jr. (SWE- JR)

So the Canadiens take the Swede I was thinking of instead (again, see the comment above). 6’1”, 187, finally brings some size to Montreal.

27. Chicago Blackhawks         C Brayden Point                     Moose Jaw (WHL)

If this guy turns out to be a gem, then somebody better start working on finding the Blackhawks horseshoe. I mean, really, Saad, Kane, Toews- they’ve stolen from the draft before and they’ll do it again if you’re not looking.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR) LW Ivan Barbashev  Moncton (QMJHL)

This playmaker has hands, is Russian, and ushers in a new beginning for the Lightning.

29. Los Angeles Kings            C Jakub Vrana                         Linkoping (SWE-2)

Vrana slides down the ladder in the draft and the Kings get a steal. Skilled Czech= Cup clincher (if you need him to be). Oh and time for the obligatory congratulations to the 2014 Stanley Cup champions, maybe you can share the comeback wealth with everyone else next year, okay?

30. New Jersey Devils                        C Robert Fabbri                      Guelph (OHL)

I’m still unhappy with how the NHL handled the Kovalchuk contract, but anyway, Fabbri rounds out top 30.

*Barring any trades, this is how I see it progressing, but I’d like to see a lot of trades just to destroy my mock draft picks, like how someone always destroys my bracket during March madness.