Archive for Around the League
Last year: 42-35-5, fifth in the Metro Division. Missed the playoffs by nine points.
Key additions: Brandon Saad, Gregory Campbell, Zach Werenski, Gabriel Carlsson, Mike Paliotta, Paul Bittner
Key subtractions: Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu, Jeremy Morin, Jack Skille
Offense: A team already loaded with young talent pulled off the shocker of the offseason by landing the 22-year-old Saad from Chicago. In the process, Columbus identified its three pillars up front to build around, with Saad joining superstar in the making Ryan Johansen and new captain Nick Foligno. Former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky was a critical cog as recently as 12 months ago, but he’ll be in more of a depth role going forward and will be expected to provide a tremendous example for the younger players. David Clarkson’s contract sticks out like a sore thumb and Scott Hartnell might join him before long, but it hardly matters. The aforementioned trio along with Boone Jenner, Alex Wennberg, Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson and Matt Calvert represent the present and future for Columbus, with top prospects Sonny Milano, William Karlsson, Kerby Rychel and Oliver Bjorkstrand following close behind. The Jackets have an embarrassment of riches and just need to take some time to determine who else is part of the core alongside Johansen, Foligno and Saad.
Last year: 33-31-18, sixth in the Metro Division. Missed the playoffs by 14 points.
Key additions: Sam Gagner, Evgeny Medvedev, Michal Neuvirth, Colin McDonald
Key subtractions: Chris Pronger’s contract, Zac Rinaldo, Nicklas Grossmann
Offense: The Flyers had no choice but to reward Jakub Voracek with a massive extension after he finished fourth in the league in points last season. Between him and Claude Giroux, the Flyers have the start of a dynamic offense. Unfortunately, they’ve had trouble filling in holes around that duo, not dissimilar to the Penguins’ struggles to find running mates for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. There were high hopes for Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, but while both fill valuable two-way roles, neither has proven capable of posting big offensive numbers. The next-best scoring threat remains power forward Wayne Simmonds, who is virtually unmovable in front of the net, especially on the power play. Perhaps newcomer Gagner will finally blossom, or someone like Michael Raffl or Matt Read will really emerge, but Schenn and Couturier remain the two players squarely in the spotlight. 2015 first-round pick Travis Konecny could be the answer before long. Read More→
Last year: 30-41-11, eighth in the Metro Division. Missed the playoffs by 27 points.
Key additions: Noah Hanifin, Eddie Lack, James Wisniewski
Offense: The Staal brothers are still serviceable players, but they are no longer stars capable of carrying an offense. The present and future lies with junior Elias Lindholm and 23-year-old Jeff Skinner, whose quick rise has been thwarted by a myriad of injuries. Lindholm, Skinner and Eric Staal are really the only players that should even be sniffing top-six roles on a decent club. There are few players with upside like Victor Rask, but for the most part Carolina’s anemic attack is comprised of recycled parts. Read More→
Its Thursday so time for another dose of around the league, with some Rangers thoughts scattered in for good measure. While we have some hockey back on tap (rejoice!) the dog days are clearly here.
In news that will surprise absolutely no one, the NHL ‘invited’ both Las Vegas and Quebec to participate in the second round of the expansion application process. Of course, given the non refundable bonds put up to begin the process this is really just a formality and both groups were always going to enter this round.
Skapski sighting: The Hockey News check out Rangers goaltending prospect McKenzie Skapski’s new mask. It’s pretty cool.
Last year: 47-28-7, third in the Metro Division. Lost to Washington in seven games in Round One.
Key additions: Thomas Greiss, Matt Barzal
Key subtractions: Griffin Reinhart, Tyler Kennedy, Lubomir Visnovsky, Michal Neuvirth, Colin McDonald, Matt Carkner, Eric Boulton
Offense: The Islanders’ fourth-ranked offense returns every key contributor and could see significant jumps in production from young forwards like Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson. It’s a testament to the team’s depth up front that the extended absences of projected key contributors Kyle Okposo and Mikhail Grabovski didn’t cripple the attack last season. The Islanders are finally not completely reliant on superstar John Tavares to create offense and are equipped to roll multiple scoring lines. In some ways, their lineup construction is similar to the Lightning’s, with Tavares and Steven Stamkos drawing the attention of opposing shutdown pairs, allowing a secondary line of talented youngsters to rack up points by the bundle. Read More→
Last year: 32-36-14, seventh in the Metro Division. Missed the playoffs by 20 points.
Key additions: Ray Shero, John Hynes, Pavel Zacha, John Moore, Kyle Palmieri
Key subtractions: Lou Lamoriello, Bryce Salvador, Michael Ryder, Scott Gomez, Steve Bernier, Mark Fraser, Martin Havlat
Offense: The Devils may have finally landed a true blue chipper to build around with the drafting of Zacha, but their group of forwards is still at the bottom of the league. New Jersey chose to let several of its over the hill veterans depart as free agents in a clear attempt to discover what the team has in youngsters like Stefan Matteau, Jacob Josefson and Reid Boucher, but it is abundantly clear that New Jersey needs a total overhaul up front. Still, Zacha and Palmieri may be keepers, and along with Adam Henrique they are the early pieces of a long-term offensive rebuild. Read More→
In news that pretty much surprised everyone, Lou Lamoriello has resigned as President of the New Jersey Devils, and has joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as their General Manager. Lamoriello stepped down as Devils GM this summer, paving the way for Ray Shero to take over that role. Toronto had been without a GM all summer, with Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter performing most of the work.
My guess is that Lamoriello will be serving as a mentor for Dubas and Hunter until they are ready to take over the role full time. They’ve both done a great job with free agency and the draft, so I doubt Lamoriello messes with that.
Last year: 43-27-12, fourth in the Metro Division. Fell to the Rangers in five games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Key additions: Phil Kessel, Sergei Plotnikov, Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon, Steve Oleksy
Offense: The Penguins finally decided that inserting random wingers alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin might not be the best recipe for success and flipped their salary allocation from the blueline to the flanks. In doing so, they brought in five-time 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel, who could challenge for the Rocket Richard Trophy next season. They also acquired the talented Russian Plotnikov, who figures to get an early chance alongside Malkin. Though this might sometimes be the perception of the Penguins’ forward group, it will be far from the case in 2015-2016. A top-nine including Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Plotnikov, Patric Hornqvist, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, David Perron and Brandon Sutter will be very difficult to match. Read More→
There has been a flurry of activity today around the league ahead of the pending free agency madness.
Chicago trades F Brandon Saad and prospects to Columbus for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round pick. 22-year-old Saad is a RFA and, according to reports, is looking for a long-term contract in the ballpark of 6M per year. Chicago, who are in a bit of a cap bind, got a good return for the power forward. Dano tallied 21 points in his rookie season after being a 2013 first round pick and Morin makes his return to Chicago after a trade to Columbus last season. Saad is a big, powerful forward with good scoring ability (23-29-52 during the regular season, 8-3-11 during the Cup run, winning his second Stanley Cup) who may grow to be a nuisance in the Metropolitan Division for years to come.
Vancouver trades D Kevin Bieksa to Anaheim for a 2016 second-round pick. Bieksa has spent his 10-year career as a Canuck, and is set to make $2.5M next year in the last year of his contract. This may be the writing on the wall for Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, one of the few unrestricted free agents who was expected to make moves beginning tomorrow.
Anaheim names Paul MacLean an assistant coach. MacLean was relieved of his duties of head coach in Ottawa in December. MacLean was with the Senators for three and a half seasons before being fired. He had a 114-90-35 record with the Senators and was 8-9 in the playoffs.
Some quick notes to round out your day:
- The Rangers will open the season on October 7 in Chicago, then will play on October 9 in Columbus, and have their home opener on October 10 against Columbus. All teams play 3-in-4’s, and I’d rather have it in October than in March.
- The NHL is set to drop the 4-on-4 overtime rules, and instead will play 3-on-3 overtime for those five minutes. The NHLPA rejected the idea of four minutes of 4-on-4 and three minutes of 3-on-3. If there is a penalty in overtime, it will be a 4-on-3 advantage.
- The idea here is to end games in regulation/overtime and diminish the effect the shootout has on the standings. Here’s a hint: Go to a 3-2-1 point system, and you’ll have games ending before the shootout. But hey, what do I know?
- The NHL is going to officially open up the expansion process, per Sportsnet. Formal announcement is expected today.