Archive for Around the League
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
Key subtractions: Kasperi Kapanen, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Thomas Greiss, Nick Spaling, Daniel Winnik, Craig Adams, Maxim Lapierre, Scott Harrington
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.
So how did the other former Blueshirts do this year? Let’s take a look:
One Team’s Trash Is Another Team’s Treasure
Jaromir Jagr – 77 gp, 17 g, 30 a, 11 ppp, 17:34 ATOI
He just won’t quit! The 43-year-old was having a relatively quiet season in New Jersey before exploding for almost a point per game with Florida after coming over at the trade deadline. Jagr re-signed with the Panthers immediately following the season because Florida was so thrilled with Jagr’s positive influence on the Panthers’ young stars.
Ryan Callahan – 77 gp, 24 g, 30 a, 16 ppp, 17:44 ATOI
His limited playoff productivity notwithstanding, Callahan has earned endless praise from Lightning coach Jon Cooper for his trademark work ethic and leadership. Callahan did most of his scoring flanking Steven Stamkos this season, but found himself in more of a checking role during the playoffs. Tampa Bay has plenty of cheap talent, but you wonder if the Lightning is going to be thrilled to pay Callahan $5.8 million a year moving forward. Read More→
In case you missed it, the city of Glendale voted to revoke the Arizona Coyotes lease with the Gila River Arena, meaning that the Yotes will have to find another building for next season. Yotes ownership will fight this, of course, but the fact remains they need to find a building.
The first thought is that they will go to Quebec City, which makes no logical sense because the whole point of realignment was to keep all Western Conference teams west of the Eastern time zone. Quebec is Eastern time zone. So, while it could work for a season, it doesn’t make sense long term. Plus, the NHL is going to expand to 32 teams at some point, my guess is they want the $500 million in expansion fees from a city/ownership group ready and willing to pay it.
It’s easy to get lost in the playoffs when games come thick and fast but there’s been a few other things going on in Ranger-land aside from the absorbing Tampa – Rangers series. Shocking I know. Let’s have a quick catch up.
Glen Sather was nominated for the GM of the year award this week. Deservedly so. The Rangers have played the most playoff games (73) in a four year stretch and this is the third year in that period they’ve gone to at least the Conference finals. Sather has his faults (a lot of them) but he’s done a great job in recent years, perhaps none more recently than this year that included the Presidents Trophy.