Archive for Around the League

'Cleared': Zuke. Image: Getty

‘Cleared’: Zuke. Image: Getty

Slowly but surely the oh-so-long hockey-less summer is coming to an end. Traverse City is around the corner, prospects are back in action and news is starting to filter through. Without further delay, let’s hit up Around the League one more time.

It’s the time of the year when we start to hear about try-out offers for veterans ahead of training camps. One that could offer some intrigue is the Blues inviting Scottie Upshall to camp. Upshall has flirted with 20 goals on a few occasions and at 31 could be a decent short term fill-in for the injured Patrick Berglund.

Prediction time: The Rangers will have three centers break fifty points. Kevin Hayes will build on his fine rookie year and scrape past the half-ton.

Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has been ‘cleared for the new season’. With the time Zuke has had to heal I’m sure most people will not see this as a surprise but regardless, it’s good to hear. Zuccarello has become an increasingly integral part of the Rangers. His importance will only increase as the Rangers have gotten younger up front and have lost Marty St Louis.

New Jersey Devil veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador has retired after a solid 14 year career. Injuries robbed Salvador of almost all of his final year in the NHL.

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to ‘search’ for new owners. Really, this franchise hasn’t deserved to be littered with legendary talent like Lemieux, Jagr and Crosby because it’s only been kept in the city by hook or by crook over the years. Multiple ownership, finance and arena issues; the Pens have never been a model of stability despite being in a strong sports market and boasting a regularly high quality on-ice product.

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Sep
02

Washington Capitals offseason recap

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The addition of Evgeny Kuznetsov to a power play that already features Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom is a scary development for Washington's opponents

The addition of Evgeny Kuznetsov to a power play that already features Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom is a scary development for Washington’s opponents

Last year: 45-26-11, second in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Key additionsJustin Williams, TJ Oshie

Key subtractions: Mike Green, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Tim Gleason

Offense: The Capitals usually high-flying offense added shootout guru Oshie and Mr. Game Seven Williams this summer, giving Washington the most talent up front its had during the Ovechkin era. The two veterans will give coach Barry Trotz all kinds of options, but the biggest reason for excitement is the continued growth of forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Kuznetsov seized control of the No. 2 center role as the season progressed and looks poised to become an opposing coach’s nightmare after focusing matchups on Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. 20-year-old Burakovsky demonstrated flashes of his explosiveness against the Blueshirts in the playoffs, and has the luxury of being brought along slowly thanks to Washington’s impressive depth. The Capitals did lose 59 goals with the departures of mainstays Brouwer, Ward and Fehr, but Washington shouldn’t have any difficulty replacing that production with increased roles for younger players and the aforementioned Oshie and Williams. And don’t forget about 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana, who could hit the ground in the NHL with two feet running.
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Pavel Buchnevich

Uber prospect?

It bears repeating. We’re in the dog days folks. If you’re into your European soccer, or NFL training camps/meaningless preseason shenanigans then I’m sure you’re coping. If you’re not then I hope we’re keeping you sane here at Blueseatblogs. Without further delay, on to the latest Around the League post.

Christian Ehrhoff signs for LA 1.5m 1 year

Christian Ehrhoff has finally found a home this offseason. The veteran German defenseman has signed a relatively paltry one year deal with the Kings for $1.5m. Ehrhoff had a pretty disappointing year with the Pens last season, struggling to stay healthy and putting up almost career worst numbers. However, this deal represents almost no risk for the Kings and makes you wonder why no other contending team jumped on Ehrhoff if he was available at this kind of cap commitment. If Ehrhoff can get back to his 30-40 point form he would represent a major steal for the Kings.

Carolina getting analytical

The cellar dwellers that are the Carolina Hurricanes have become the latest franchise to hire a blogger to help with their increased focus on analytics (maybe Dave has a future in hockey as well?…). Former blogger Eric Tulsky joined the ‘Canes as ‘Hockey Analyst’ last week. Hockey continues to move more and more towards analytics. Maybe it’s time I started to understand a bit more about all these fancy numbers…

Yahoo name Kreider as a fantasy sleeper

More and more fantasy posts are coming out now, looking ahead to the new year (‘tis the season) and Yahoo have suggested Chris Kreider could be a breakout candidate; something we’ve discussed numerous times. It’s a list worth looking at if you’re fantasy inclined.

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Aug
25

Columbus Blue Jackets offseason recap

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Brandon Saad has tallied 14 goals across the last two postseasons

Brandon Saad has tallied 14 goals across the last two postseasons

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.
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Aug
19

Philadelphia Flyers offseason recap

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Jakub Voracek inked an eight-year, $66 million extension this offseason

Jakub Voracek inked an eight-year, $66 million extension this offseason

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→

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Aug
12

Carolina Hurricanes offseason recap

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First-round pick Noah Hanifin joins a talented group of young defensemen

First-round pick Noah Hanifin joins a talented group of young defensemen

Last year: 30-41-11, eighth in the Metro Division. Missed the playoffs by 27 points.

Key additions: Noah Hanifin, Eddie Lack, James Wisniewski

Key subtractions: Anton Khudobin, Alex Semin, Patrick Dwyer, Brett Bellemore

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→

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halverson

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.

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Aug
05

New York Islanders offseason recap

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Secondary scoring options like Ryan Strome have alleviated the pressure on John Tavares

Secondary scoring options like Ryan Strome have alleviated the pressure on John Tavares

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→

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Jul
29

New Jersey Devils offseason recap

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First-round pick Pavel Zacha is New Jersey's next great hope on offense

First-round pick Pavel Zacha is New Jersey’s next great hope on offense

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→

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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.

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