Kavan’s Crease: 2014 NHL Prospect Profile: Sam Reinhart

So lately I haven’t really posted anything, and the reason for that (besides having a 60-hour work week) is because I have been working on preliminary rankings for next year’s draft. Yes, I know that’s a bit ahead of schedule, but few people realize the importance of the draft and what these kids mean to the future of our sport. I want to profile certain players; some for their ridiculous talent level and hype, and some who are lesser known who I believe will jump up the standings pretty quickly.

The first player I chose to profile, is the current standout for No. 1 overall in 2014: Sam Reinhart.

sam-reinhartBackground

Reinhart was born in North Vancouver, British Columbia and was raised there with his 2 brothers, Max and Griffin, who are also NHL draft picks (Max: 3rd rd, 64th overall in 2010. Griffin: 1st rd, 4th overall in 2012). His father Paul also played over 600 games with the Flames and Canucks.

Sam started playing youth hockey at a at a young age and would eventually play with the Hollyburn Huskies, from the Hollyburn Minor Hockey Association. From there, he would suit up for the Vancouver NW Giants of the BCMML, posting 80 points in 39 games before being drafted by the WHL’s Kootenay Ice.

Awards are something Reinhart is probably already used to receiving. In 2011-12, he won the Jim Piggott awars as WHL rookie of the year,
Skills

Having bloodlines in the NHL isn’t the only reason Reinhart is a highly touted player; in two seasons with Kootenay, he put up a staggering 147 points in 139 games scoring 63 goals. What makes him such a special player is his ability to play both sides of the puck. Offensively, he has great vision and can shoot or pass, as well as draw defenders to him. He knows when and where to shoot and if he gets open in front of the net, chances are the puck is going in. Defensively, he’s a hard backchecker and can strip the puck from you just as quick as he can fire it off.

If there’s a downside to Sam Reinhart, it is his size. Standing at 5’11” and weighing in at 165 lbs, he is not the biggest guy on the ice and will need to put on around 20 pounds before making any NHL team.

Teams

At this point in the offseason, predicting which teams will end up where in the standings is tough, but if we’re judging by the current rosters and team outlooks, expect Calgary, Colorado and Buffalo to have a real chance at Reinhart.

That concludes the first prospect profile! Check back real soon for a sneak peek at Barrie Colts blueliner Aaron Ekblad. As always, thanks for reading, cheers!

2014 NHL Entry Draft Overlook: Picks 1-10

Welcome to the third and final instalment of my 2014 NHL Entry Draft Prospect Overlook. We have already taken a look at picks 11-30 and are now in the final stretch to see what players could possibly be in an NHL uniform at the start of the 2014-15 season. Picks 11-30 are:

11. Leon Draisaitl
12. Chase De Leo
13. Joni Tuulola
14. Michael Dal Colle
15. Alex Nedeljkovic
16. Tyson Baillie
17. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda
18. Haydn Fleury
19. Ryan Falkenham
20. Jared McCann
21. Nikolaj Ehlers
22. Shane Gersich
23. Nick Ritchie
24. Jack Ramsey
25. Kyle Jenkins
26. Sonny Milano
27. Josh Ho Sang
28. Jakub Vrana
29. Pierre Engvall
30. Spencer Watson

Now, on to the top 10!

10. Vladimir Tkachyov, LW, Omsk (KHL)
5’9″, 132 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-12 stats:
47 GP, 13G, 22A, 35 pts, +32, 20 PIM

Tkachyov is a small winger with great speed and skill. Russians are starting to disappear from the NHL draft, and selecting them is usually sketchy, but Tkachyov is full of talent, makes players around him better and is a confident skater. He will need to bulk up to make an NHL in the future.

9. Matt Mistele, LW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
6’2″, 172 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
68 GP, 34G, 26A, 60 pts, +32, 69 PIM

Mistele is big, mean and full of skill. He’s a natural goal scorer and drives to the net, running over anyone who has anything to say about it. He plays the defensive side of the game very well and will make significant strides this season.

8. Oskar Lindblom, RW, Brynas (Sweden)
6’1″, 192 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
22 GP, 20G, 21A, +40, 4 PIM

Lindblom is not a name I have seen even close to this high on any other scouting report so far, and I can’t fathom why. He is over a point-per-game player for his career, plays the defensive game better than any other player in this draft (another defensive swedish forward, imagine that) and is already 6’2″, 192 lbs at 16 years old (birthdate: Aug. 15, 1996). He has won multiple junior medals and point/goal awards and comes out of the great Brynas program. If he doesn’t crack the top 10 next year, I will be surprised.

7. Ivan Barbashev, LW, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
6’0″, 181 lbs
Shoots: L

(Photo: windsorstar.com)
(Photo: windsorstar.com)

2012-13 stats:
68 GP, 18G, 44A, 62 pts, +9, 36 PIM

Barbashev is another big winger from the QMJHL. He is more of a passer than a shooter, but can do both and is still as complete a player as you can find. He’s big, but not too big that he can’t skate if he works on conditioning, but he will be worth the work.

6. Blake Clarke, LW, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
6’2″, 196 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
68 GP, 19G, 32A, -2, 42 PIM

(Photo: northbaybattalion.com)
(Photo: northbaybattalion.com)

Year of the big power forward continues with Blake Clarke from the North Bay Battalion. Clarke has excellent vision and hockey sense and can pass the puck pretty much anywhere on the ice. He has no problem playing on the edge and making sure other players know he’s on the ice. He goes hard to the net and makes opposing goalies hate him. Still looking into whether or not he is related to former Philadelphia Flyer Bobby Clarke.

5. Nikolai Goldobin, LW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
5’11, 165 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
68 GP, 30G, 38A, 68 pts, -7, 12 PIM

One of the few russians in the draft, Goldobin looks to be this year’s Valeri Nichushkin. He has the skill level to go top 5 and the points to back it up, but may slip just because teams are leery about having Russian players with the current spike in KHL popularity. Nonetheless, the team that drafts Goldobin will be getting a speedy winger who can both score and pass. He will be big and strong enough to make an NHL roster next year.

4. William Nylander, C/RW, Sodertalje (Sweden)
5’10”, 170 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
27 GP, 15G, 28A, 47 pts, +14, 14 PIM

Son of former NHLer Michael Nylander, William has just as much, if not more offensive potential than his father. Scoring almost 2 points per game in the ever-defensive Swedish league is no easy task, but Nylander managed 43 points in 27 games last season, while still employing the Swedish defensive game. Well-disciplined with a big frame, Nylander should see NHL time not long after his drafting.

3. Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts (OHL)
6’3″, 212 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
54 GP, 7G, 27A, 34 pts, +29, 64 PIM

(Photo: barriecolts.com)
(Photo: barriecolts.com)

What isn’t there to like about Aaron Ekblad? Besides his PIM, which are to be expected from such a monster of a 17 year old, Ekblad does it all. He’s 6’3″ and 212 lbs, but he’s a strong skater and can shoot the puck like nobody’s business. He hits hard and will make you regret even looking at his goalie, then he’ll take the puck up ice and fire it through the back of your net. Additionally, Ekblad was considered an exceptional player and was bumped up to the OHL a year early. The only other player to have that honor this year was…

*2. Connor McDavid, C, Erie Otters (OHL)
5’11”, 170 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
63GP, 25G, 41A, 66 pts, -24, 36 PIM

(Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
(Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Connor McDavid was another player granted exceptional status at the start of last season so he could be drafted into the OHL a year early. Before all this, McDavid put up 281 points in 121 AAA games, scoring a ridiculous 112 goals. His productivity dipped a little bit at the OHL level, but he still put up 66 points in 63 games to be voted the OHL’s best first year player. His defensive play needs to improve, but he still has another season to work on that, and will most certainly be ranked 1 or 2 going into the draft.

1. Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
5’11”, 165 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
72 GP, 35G, 50A, 85 pts, +8, 22 PIM

(Photo: kootenayice.com)
(Photo: kootenayice.com)

Sam Reinhart is the son of Paul Reinhart, who played nearly 20 years in the NHL with Vancouver and Calgary, and the brother of Max and Griffin, who were drafted in 2010 and 2012, respectively; Max was picked in the 3rd round, 64th overall by the Calgary Flames and Griffin was selected in the 1st round, 4th overall by the New York Islanders. Sam, however, has quickly made his own name in the WHL and is the current favorite to go 1st overall in 2014. The kid is a dynamic, fiery centreman with explosive speed and a bullet of a shot. When he isn’t burning the mesh with his laser beams, he’s dishing passes out that shouldn’t even be thought of. It will be tough for anyone on this list to knock Reinhart out of No. 1, but as we saw with this year’s draft, anything can, and most likely will happen.

Personally, the draft is the one thing I look forward to most out of the hockey year (besides playoff beards, of course) and after researching these players, my stance has definitely not changed! Let me know what changes you would make in the comments section below! i look forward to seeing what everyone thinks! Check back soon for another prospect profile and, as always, thanks for reading. Cheers!

Kavan’s Crease: 2014 NHL Entry Draft Overlook: Picks 11-20

Welcome back! Last time we looked at prospects 21-30 for next year’s NHL Entry Draft. Just as a recap, those picks were:

21. Nikolaj Ehlers
22. Shane Gersich
23. Nick Ritchie
24. Jack Ramsey
25. Kyle Jenkins
26. Sonny Milano
27. Josh Ho Sang
28. Jakub Vrana
29. Pierre Engvall
30. Spencer Watson

This time we’ll be taking a look at picks 11-20, starting at 20 and working down.

20. Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
6’0″, 174 lbs
Shoots: L

McCann-was-injured-in-Sault-Ste.-Maries-playoff-opener-Claus-Andersen-Getty-Images
(Photo: soogreyhounds.com)

2012-13 stats:
64 GP, 21G, 23A, 44 pts, -6, 35 PIM

McCann is a big centreman who protects the puck well, has a good shot and great vision. Extra muscle will be expected, but that will come with time.

19. Ryan Falkenham, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
5’10”, 172 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
45 GP, 10G, 11A, 21 pts, +17, 14 PIM

Ryan Falkenham is a shorter, stocky forward who doesn’t have a problem heading to the dirty areas in front of the net and plays with a style similar to Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens. Playing alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin didn’t hurt his development, but it will be interesting to see how he plays without them this season.

18. Haydon Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL)
6’3″, 203 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:

66 GP, 4G, 19A, 21 pts, +4, 21 PIM

Fleury is a big bodied, hard-nosed blueliner with an offensive upside. He is a plus player on a minus team, has a howitzer of a shot and is disciplined in his own end. His agility may come into question, but defensemen take longer to develop and his skating should come around.

17. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda, LW, Modo J18 (Sweden)
6’1″, 198 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
20 GP, 16G, 16A, 32 pts, +30, 32 PIM

tVjO9p8I7REy6lnJc1QXA hulking winger, Muzito-Bagenda is a big sniper who has no trouble finding the back of the net. Another Swede who plays a great defensive game, but will have to work on discipline, since almost a penalty per game average won’t be acceptable at the NHL level.

16. Tyson Baillie, C, Kelowna Rockets, (WHL)
5’11”, 190 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
67 GP, 26G, 30A, 56 pts, +36, 53 PIM

One of, if not the smallest player in the draft, Baillie lets his on-ice play do the talking for him. A Martin St. Louis-type forward, he is a passer first, but can still find the twine pretty often. Size will be a concern for sure, but if his point production stays consistent and he can put on some pounds, there will be a team that will feel lucky that this guy was still available.

15. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
5’11”, 190 lbs
Catches: L

2012-13 stats:
26 GP, 19-2-2, 2.28 GAA, .923 SV%, 2 SO

Nedeljkovic straight up4248
(Photo: plymouthwhalers.com)

Nedeljkovic is the first and only goalie in the top 30, and he is here for a reason, backstopping his team to the conference finals before bowing out to eventual champions, the London Knights. Nedeljkovic’s Whalers led the OHL in goal differential, scoring 90 more times than they let in. He is not the tallest goalie, but is a big boy at 190 lbs. and has good movement in spite of that. Only 5 goalies had a better save percentage, 3 of whom have already been drafted by NHL teams (Malcon Subban, Boston; Jordan Binnington, St. Louis; John Gibson, Anaheim) and only 3 goalies had a better goals against average (Subban, Binnington and Kitchener’s Franky Palazzese). If Nedeljkovic can improve his puck handling and rebound control, he should be a solid starter one day.

14. Michael Dal Colle, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
6’2″, 170 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
63 GP, 15G, 33A, 48 pts, +19, 18 PIM

Michale Dal Colle is your typical big, power forward centreman. He can shoot, pass, hit and skate and plays just as well on the other side of the puck. He still needs to put on some weight, but once he fills out, he should turn out to be a number 1 or 2 centreman, depending on the team that drafts him.

13. Joni Tuulola, D, HPK U-18 (Finland)
6’1″, 165 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
41 GP, 10G, 21A, 31 pts, 26 PIM

Tuulola is a big offensive defenseman who has a hard shot and a good first pass out of his own zone. He can move opposing forwards away from his goaltender and takes few penalties. As many others, he will have to gain some weight before hitting his full potential, but should round out a top 4 nicely.

12. Chase De Leo, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
5’7″, 130 lbs

2012-13 stats:
71 GP, 18g, 38A, 56 pts, +28, 24 PIM

srx_chiefs2_t940
(Photo: portlandwinterhawks.com)

Chase De Leo is currently the smallest player who is draft eligible. At 5’7″, he will need to gain at least 30 pounds before he can safely play in the NHL. If he does, however, this kid will be dangerous. He uses his small size and speed to squeeze through defenders, essentially blazing a trail through other players. He has soft hands and good vision and should be a solid top 6 forward one day.

11. Leon Draisaitl, C/LW, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
6’2″, 198 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
64 GP, 21G, 37A, 58 pts, +22, 22 PIM

Draisaitl is another player in the growing trend of big power forwards at next year’s draft. The 6’2″, 198 lb versatile forward is the whole package. Soft hands, wicked shot, sees the ice well and plays well in his own zone. Needs to work on his speed a little but still an effective top 6 guy nonetheless.

That’s a wrap on picks 11-20. I feel some players in this third of the first round may climb a bit by the time the draft rolls around, but the surprise is part of the fun! Check back soon for picks 1-10; the good stuff!

As always, thanks for reading and, Cheers!

2014 NHL Entry Draft Overlook: Picks 30-21

Now that this year’s draft is done and the lunacy that was the free agency has subsided, I wanted to get a head start on scouting prospects. At this point in time, placing players is not an easy task, as many who are draft eligible are fresh out of high school and need next season in either university or with a CHL team to show off their true skills. Regardless, these kids are the future of our sport and it is never too early to get a sneak peek.

Since I don’t want to cram this all into one blog, I’m going to split it into 3, starting with picks 21-30 and working towards number 1. Each pick will include a little blurb about each player and what he brings. Without further ado:

30. Spencer Watson, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
5’10”, 157 lbs
Shoots: L

Spencer-Watson-is-the-second-leading-scorer-among-the-OHLs-incoming-draft-class-OHL-Images
(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)

2012-13 stats:
63 GP, 20G, 23A, 43 pts, E, 18 PIM

Watson is a small scoring winger who uses his speed to his advantage. He is an even player, is sound defensively and takes minimal penalties.

29. Pierre Engvall, LW, Frolunda J18 (Finland)
6’4″, 201 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
20 GP, 11G, 9A, 20 pts, +17, 16 PIM

Engvall is a big power forward who is hard to knock off the puck. His size is a big asset, as he drives hard to the net without taking many penalties. Engvall is the type of player who will make everyone around him better.

28. Jakub Vrana, C, Linkoping (Sweden)
6’0″, 165 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
32 GP, 20G, 12A, 32 pts, +3, 49 PIM

Vrana comes from the Swedish system, which has produced some of the best defensive hockey players in the history of the league. Vrana possesses great defensive skills while still putting up points. He needs to get bigger to reach his full potential.

27. Josh Ho Sang, C/RW, Windsor Spirfires (OHL)
5’11”, 159 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
63 GP, 14G, 30A, 44 pts, -23, 22 PIM

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Josh Ho Sang comes from the club that spit out (no pun intended) 2010 NHL first overall pick Taylor Hall. He is a speedy playmaker and his versatility is desirable, but he needs to bulk up to improve his defensive game.

26. Sonny Milano, C, Team USA U-17 (USHL)
5’10, 159 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
56 GP, 20G, 27A, 47 pts, 20 PIM

Not the smallest forward on the list, but at 5’11”, 159 lbs, it wouldn’t hurt for Milano to gain some muscle. Despite his small stature, Milano plays big and is entertaining to watch.

25. Kyle Jenkins, D, Oakville Blades, OJHL
6’0″, 161 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:

46 GP, 9G, 20A, 29 pts, 47 PIM

Jenkins is a big boy, can shoot the puck and isn’t afraid to move bodies away from his own net. As a defender,
it wouldn’t hurt to hit the gym if he wants to crack an NHL roster any time soon.

24. Jack Ramsey, RW, Minnetonka High, USHS
6’2, 165 lbs
Shoots: R

2012-13 stats:
24 GP, 9G, 18A, 27 pts, 6 PIM

A big power forward, Jack Ramsey has a smooth set of hands and can pass just as effectively as he can shoot. 27 points in 24 games is impressive, but a full season at that rate will significantly increase his stock.

23. Nick Ritchie, RW/LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
6’2, 205 lbs
Shoots: L

Nick-Ritchie-2-590x472
(Photo: peterboroughpetes.com)

2012-13 stats:
41 GP, 18G, 17A, 35 pts, -10, 50 PIM

Ritchie is another big power forward who uses his size to his advantage. Despite weighing in at over 200 pounds as a 17 year old, the kid can move, and anyone who gets in his way will learn the hard way.

22. Shane Gersich, C, Holy Family Catholic, USHS
5’11”, 163 lbs

2012-13 stats:
20 GP, 30G, 30A, 60 pts, E, 21 PIM

Chances are that Gersich will be drafted in 2015, but some teams will take a chance on high school kids anyways (Ahem, Jay Feaster). The kid scores at an unbelievable rate, all while staying an even player. With 21 PIM in 20 game, it’s clear that Gersich plays with an edge to his game, so discipline may be an issue in the future, but.. 60 points in 20 games!

21. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Biel (Swiss)
5’10”, 176 lbs
Shoots: L

2012-13 stats:
32 GP, 26G, 23A, 49 pts, 34 PIM

Ehlers is a solid body, despite measuring up at 5’10” and can fly. He tore up the Swiss league last season and can help a team in need of speedy snipers.

Kavan’s Crease: Is the NHL done with the All-Star Game?

Upon perusing the 2013-14 NHL schedule, there were a number of things includes that caught my attention. 6 outdoor games, the Olympic break, re-aligned divisions/conferences and an earlier start date were some of the first things I noticed. The one thing that really stood out to me, though, was actually an exclusion: the All-Star game.

59th_NHL_All_Star_Game_LogoEvery year since 1947, the NHL has held an official All-Star game; even the 30 years prior to those official games held some sort of east vs. west all-star event. This year, however: nothing.

I realize that this is in large part due to the NHL sending its players to the Olympics, but nobody has made a peep about this yet. You would think that some sort of blurb would have been made just to let the public know that it was thought about.

The lack of comment on the matter leads me to believe that the NHL is slowly going to eliminate the All-Star festivities. There have been talks in that past couple years that players, teams and fans have all been tiring of the spectacle.

I understand what attracts people to the All-Star festivities, don’t get me wrong. I love seeing the best players from each team all playing together and having fun, leaving the seriousness and business of the game behind for a couple days. My problem is that many, myself included, feel that the novelty has just worn off.

In my own personal opinion, the game is boring. Sure, there are a lot of pretty goals and nice passing plays, but is anybody really trying? The goalies are basically pointless, and are only there so the players aren’t firing on open nets and defensemen aren’t going to start laying down and blocking shots for a game that means virtually nothing. Some would argue that having the proceeds go to the players’ pension fund is a good reason to continue, but even the players don’t seem interested in going anymore. Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne, Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin all opted to sit out to either rest or spend time with family. Ovechkin was suspended, and cited that as his reason, but one would have a hard time believing that the players just don’t want to waste their time and energy on a pointless game.

Let’s be clear here, the All-Star game is all about the fans; mostly the younger ones who wanna see “sick dangles” and “cheddar shootout dekes”, but a true fan knows that the more these guys play, the harder it is on them and they already have to worry about playing 82 games that are all crucial to their teams’ success. I would personally rather have no All-Star game, but have my favorite teams’ players all healthy and focused on the season.

Additionally, the league is running out of creative ways to keep the festivities entertaining. It used to be just the All-Star game, speed skating and some accuracy shooting. Recently they’ve added a fantasy draft in which players select each other, a relay challenge, a shootout tournament and a breakaway challenge. After a few years of this, I still don’t see this difference between the shootout competition and the breakaway challenge. It’s like Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and whoever else is in charge sat down and said, “Well, guys, we’re out of good ideas, so I guess we’ll just have a SECOND shootout challenge and call it a breakaway event. It’s perfect!” Not fooling me guys.

The point is, the league, the players and the organizers expel a lot of time, effort and money for this little affair when it seems as though it’s a little overrated and overdone, and now they have completely neglected to even mention the All-Star game in the press release announcing the schedule.

Call me crazy, but I see the NHL All-Star game as a fad that’s fading rather quickly. Your thoughts?

Kavan’s Crease: Should the New Jersey Devils trade Martin Brodeur?

After letting the dust settle on Ilya Kovalchuk’s “retirement” and reading different stories and opinions, I have made some conclusions.

90957766JM030_TORONTO_MAPLEFirst, both team and player are better off with Kovalchuk moving on. The Devils no longer have to deal with Kovy’s heavily front-loaded contract and cap hit, and Ilya can make huge dollars in the KHL and be with his family.

Secondly, although the Devils now find themselves with cap space, finding someone to replace the holes left by Kovalchuk and Zach Parise last summer is a whole new challenge on its own.

GM Lou Lamiorello has limited options in terms of what he can do to improve his hockey club. The free agent market has all but dried up unless you want to overpay for one of Jaromir Jagr or Brendan Morrow, or take a chance on guys like Damien Brunner, Mikhail Grabovski or Brad Boyes. All of these players would be nice additions, however none will bring nearly as much to the table offensively as Kovalchuk did.

Additionally, the trade market has lost some steam, as many teams have made their big moves and are now waiting for training camp to start before re-evaluating and tweaking their rosters. This makes life tough on Uncle Lou, since acquiring a high-scoring forward in a tapped out and idle market can be somewhat of a challenge. Obviously, by saying “somewhat of a challenge” I mean damn near impossible, especially with the prospect pool (or lack thereof) that the Devils have to dangle as trade bait. The only young players that will bring in any significant return are Adam Henrique, Andrei Loktionov and Adam Larsson. Loktionov might be movable if packaged, but Henrique and Larsson are the future in Newark and it would take a pretty penny to pry them fro Lamiorello’s fingers.

So, what do the Devils do? Amidst all this talk of Kovalchuk, people seemed to forget that New Jersey has 2 starting goaltenders. One has stopped more rubber than any goaltender in the last 5 years and one has stopped more than any goaltender of all time. This makes for a problem that any GM would love to have.

After crunching some numbers, I compared both goalies’ stats to those of other elite goalies of the last 5 years. The results are in order as follows:

GAA:

1. Cory Schneider, 2.20
2. Henrik Lundqvist, 2.24
3. Jonathan Quick, 2.31
4. Antti Niemi, 2.34
T4. Martin Brodeur, 2.34
6. Pekka Rinne, 2.36
7. Roberto Luongo, 2.38
8. *Corey Crawford, 2.39
9. Marc-Andre Fleury, 2.49
10. Ryan Miller, 2.51
11. Carey Price, 2.56

SV%:

1. Cory Schneider, 0.927
2. Henrik Lundqvist, 0.923
3. Pekka Rinne, 0.919
T3. Roberto Luongo, 0.919
T3. Ryan Miller, 0.919
6. Antti Niemi, 0.917
7. Jonathan Quick, 0.915
8. *Corey Crawford, 0.913
T8. Marc-Andre Fleury, 0.913
10. Martin Brodeur, 0.910
11. Carey Price, 0.908

*I put Crawford in here because he recently won the Stanley Cup and is comparable in age and style to Schneider; however, he has only played 4 seasons in the NHL.

Please note that these are not the top ranked goaltenders total, they are the top ranked goalies who are supposed to be elite and have all seen playoff action at least once in the past 5 seasons.

Obviously, Schneider tops these lists, and in GAA has distanced himself from the pack. The only netminder with numbers even close to his belong to Henrik Lundqvist, and we all know what Lundqvist brings to the Rangers.

What I’m trying to prove with all of this, is that the Devils really don’t need to hang on to Marty Brodeur if they can find someone who could use a veteran goalie and can spare some firepower.

(Photo: sports.msn.ca)
(Photo: sports.msn.ca)

There are a couple of teams who come to mind, but the highest bidders, should Marty become available, should be Edmonton, Florida and Philadelphia. It wouldn’t hurt for Colorado or the New York Islanders to get in on Brodeur as well. So now that we have a small number of possible teams, what could each of them send to New Jersey in order to acquire the legendary future hall-of-famer?

Before we start, it should be noted that Martin Brodeur carries a NTC and would have to be consulted before a trade could be approved.

Here goes:

Edmonton:

It’s no secret that the Oilers have serious forward depth, since they’ve used multiple recent first overall picks to select only elite scorers. This year, they’ve changed their ways a bit and drafted Darnell Nurse and signed former Bruin Andrew Ference to solidify the back end. The biggest question mark? Goaltending. Oil brass has believed in Devan Dubnyk and see him as the future in goal. However, He has struggled to find his game with a lack of defensive support and a revolving door of backup goaltenders, none of whom have been able to steer him in the right direction. This is where Marty comes in. I don’t need to sit here and list Brodeur’s accomplishments to convince anyone he would be a good choice, but Edmonton seems like a perfect fit. He would be considered a 1b, similar to his current status and would be able to help a young team make the playoffs. So, what do the Oilers send to Jersey?

Edmonton gets:

G Martin Brodeur

New Jersey gets:

C Sam Gagner
G Olivier Roy
2014 2nd round pick

This trade gives Edmonton a legendary goalie to win some games and increase Devan Dubnyk’s development, while New Jersey provides Sam Gagner a place to be the go-to guy.

Florida:

It is no secret that the Panthers are desperate to upgrade in goal, after spending the last 2 years in and out of negotiations to bring in Roberto Luongo. Jacob Markstrom is the future, but just isn’t quite there yet and Jose Theodore is not only over the hill, but he’s made it to the bottom on the other side. With the free agent market tapped of goaltenders, the Panthers will need to explore trade options if they intend to put someone in front of Markstrom. Here is my hypothetical deal:

Florida gets:

G Martin Brodeur

New Jersey gets:

C Drew Shore
LW Sean Bergenheim
2014 1st round pick

Brodeur in a Panthers uniform makes them a playoff team again. Shore is expendable with the recent drafting of Alexsander Barkov and Bergenheim provides some secondary scoring, while the first round pick provides some insurance should Bergenheim go down or Shore not amount to his potential.

Philadelphia:

Another team who has been trying to upgrade the goaltender position for quite a while is the Philadelphia Flyers. GM Paul Holmgren went out and signed Ray Emery to fill the hole, but many question Emery’s ability to play a whole season as a starter. If he gets off to a rocky start, Brodeur could be on Broad St before too long. It is well known around the league that Philly would be a serious contender if their net wasn’t a black hole for pucks, and Brodeur could help fix that problem. The Flyers are deep at centre and could give up a prospect and a pick without sacrificing their future. This is the exchange I would propose:

Philadelphia gets:

G Martin Brodeur

New Jersey gets:

C Brayden Schenn
2014 1st round pick.

Schenn is a player that Lou Lamiorello could build his team around and would immediately boost the team’s offense. Bringing Brodeur in takes the pressure and workload off Emery and give Flyers fans peace of mind knowing they have a goalie who can and will stop pucks for them, whether there are bears or not.

As for the other 2 teams, Colorado is expected to start shopping Ryan O’Reilly now that they have drafted Nathan Mackinnon. There could be a deal swung there. Additionally, the Islanders have a talented young core that could give up one or two of Ryan Strome, Casey Cizikas or Kirill Kabanov without putting the future of the franchise is danger.

Obviously, Brodeur is a monster in goal and the thought of trading him probably makes Devils fans throw up in their mouth a little, but with Cory Schneider in town, free from drama or distraction, the Devils should explore moving him to bring in some much-needed firepower. All of this, of course, is hypothetical and purely made up, but I would like to see how people react to the thought of Brodeur playing somewhere besides New Jersey.

Kavan’s Crease: Salary Arbitration

With the recent release of the list of players going to salary arbitration, I’ve noticed lately that a few people are having trouble grasping the concept of it. I know it sounds confusing, but it really is quite simple.

Basically, a player or team opting to go to arbitration is like 2 young siblings arguing over who should get the last cookie.

When a player becomes a restricted free agent, that player has finished his entry level contract and is still property of his NHL team. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a player cannot become an unrestricted free agent until he is 27 years of age or has been in the NHL for 7 years. Therefore, players who finish their entry-level contracts are without a contract but cannot sign with whichever team they like.

Everyone who follows player movement and contracts knows that negotiating is not simple and quite often can be a lengthy process. Occasionally, somewhere in these negotiations, the player or team says, “Alright, we’re clearly not in the same page whatsoever, so this needs to be resolved.” In the case of unrestricted free agency, the team or player would simply walk away from the negotiations and that would be it. However, restricted free agents still belong to the team and take up a spot on the roster, so if a deal cannot be reached, the player sits out and cannot be replaced externally. A couple recent examples of this are Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban, and Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly. In these cases, both players eventually re-signed with their teams and had good seasons (especially Subban, who would go on to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman).

If a deal cannot be agreed upon, however, there are 2 options available. The team can seek out a trade and both parties can go their separate ways, or one can opt to file for arbitration. Arbitration has to be filed by a certain date (July 5th this year), but teams and players can still negotiate up until their hearing date.

If a team chooses to take a player to arbitration, that player cannot be taken to arbitration again in his career and he cannot receive less than 85% of his previous year’s salary.

After arbitration has been filed, team and player each compile their respective arguments and make their case to a neutral party: the arbitrator. After reviewing each party’s case, the arbitrator then makes an informed decision about how much salary the player is entitled to.

At this point, one of 2 things can happen:

1. Both parties accept, the contract is signed and it’s off to the rink.

2. The team can choose to walk away from the deal, resulting in the player becoming an unrestricted free agent and being allowed to sign with whichever team has a mutual interest in him.

Another possible scenario is an RFA being proposed to by another team with an offer sheet. What this means, is that the player can sign with that team, but his current team first has the opportunity to match the offer. If the team decides to match, the player remains with his current team and the contract is signed. If, however, the team believes the contract is too much and does not want to pay, they can decline to match and receive draft pick compensation in return for the
player leaving. The draft pick(s) the team receives depends on the size of the salary the player signs with his new team. The limits are as follows:

$1,110,249 or below – No Compensation

Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 – 3rd round pick

Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 – 2nd round pick

Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 – 1st round pick, 3rd

Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 – 1st round pick, 2nd, 3rd

Over $6,728,781 To $8,410,976 – Two 1st Round Picks, 2nd, 3rd

Over $8,410,976 – Four 1st Round Picks

It’s not often you see teams present a player with an offer sheet, but it does happen every now and then. Its even more rare that a team decides to walk away from that player, but when it does happen, it generally creates animosity between people. Whether it’s between the player and former team or former team and new team, GMs generally feel robbed when they lose a player to an offer sheet. Just look at the case of Kevin Lowe/Brian Burke/Dustin Penner. We all know how much Burke and Lowe now love each other.

In any case, salary arbitration is not usually a good thing for anyone, but unfortunately, is a necessary evil. Hopefully that clears up any confusion, and if there are any questions, comments or if i’ve missed something, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below! As always, thank you for reading and keep checking back!

Cheers!

Vancouver Giants Season Preview

With the new WHL season not too far off, I figured I would step out of my comfort zone of NHL-only writing and do a preview for the local WHL team here in Vancouver, the Giants.

VancouverGiantsLogo250.jpg-797190Perpetual winners, the Giants had a rare off-year last season, finishing last in not only the BC division, but the WHL as a whole with just 44 points in 72 games; 6 behind their next closest competitor, the Prince George Cougars.

Despite the dismal team performance, there were certain individual bright spots that could be seen.

17-year-old Jackson Houck lead the team in scoring with 23 goals and 34 assists for 57 points in 69 games played. The sophomore winger scored 15 more goals and put up more than twice as many points than his rookie season, while adding 68 PIMs. Next season should be a breakout season for Houck after being drafted in the fourth round, 94th overall by the Edmonton Oilers. He will have something to prove if he one day hopes to crack the Oilers’ young lineup.

Another positive for the Giants is D Brett Kulak. Despite being a -34, the 2012 4th round pick of the Calgary Flames scored 12 goals and 46 points in 72 games played; good enough to earn him a call-up to the AHL’s Abbottsford Heat.

Being a minus player on last year’s Vancouver Giants isn’t a fair reflection of most players on the squad. All 4 goalies who suites up for the Giants this season seemed to have trouble stopping pucks, as Peyton Lee, the team’s leader in just about every category, still let in an average of 3.51 goals a game and only stopped 87.9% of the shots he faced. His backup(s) were no better and often the team was left high and dry coming back from 2-3 goal deficits.

Having one off year and finishing last in the league is never what you strive for, but it does have its positive. For example, coming in last means picking first at the bantam draft, which is exactly what the Giants did and selected LW Tyler Benson from the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.

Benson was unreal in the AMBHL, breaking the league record for points by putting up 57 goals and 89 assists for 146 points in only 33 games played. The 15-year-old plays hard along the boards and will provide a huge offensive boost. He should be a key part of the Giants offense for the next few years.

The Giants open next season at home on Friday, September 20th, against the Victoria Royals. Fans are sure to pack the Pacific Coliseum that night in hopes of seeing their team start their bounce-back season with a vengeance.

Some dates to look out for are as follows:

Friday, October 18th:Giants play the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers had the Giants’ number last season, beating them 7 out of 8 times. The worst was a 6-0 beatdown which saw 4 fights throught the course of the game. The Giants will be poised to avenge that one.

Wednesday, January 14th: CHL Top Prospects game. Giants players Peyton Lee and Jackson Houck have a chance at making it, so watch their development throughout the season.

Saturday, March 15th: Final game of the regular season against none other than the Kelowna Rockets. Depending on standings, this could be a barn burner.

So, as I said before, junior hockey is not my area of expertise, but I will continue to do my homework and provide more in-depth coverage as I go along! As always, thanks for reading, leave me some comments and come back soon!

Cheers!

Kavan’s Crease: Western Conference Free Agency/Draft Recap

Welcome back, and thank you for checking out the second part of my Draft and Free Agency recap! Last time, we looked at the Eastern Conference; today, we’re going to have a gander at the West. So, same as last time, all recaps will be in this format:

Team Name,Winner/Loser/Lateral
Notable Ins: Player name, N/A
Notable Outs: Player name, N/A
In Limbo: Player name, N/A

Without further ado:
Anaheim Ducks, Lateral
In: Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen
Out: Bobby Ryan
Limbo: Teemu Selanne, Radek Dvorak, Toni Lydman, Dave Steckel, Matthew Lombardi

Bobby  RyanAfter 2 years of being pestered about his name in trade rumors, former 30-goal scorer and 2005 2nd overall draft pick Bobby Ryan was finally dealt by the Anaheim Ducks. The flashy, American winger was traded to the Ottawa Senators just hours after the free agent window opened last Friday. In exchange, the Ducks received Swedish rookie Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and Ottawa’s first-round pick in the 2014 entry draft. Silfverberg is coming off a season in which he scored 10 goals in 48 games for the Senators. Over an 82-game season, that works out to 17 goals. Not awful for a rookie who is still trying to adapt to the North American style of play. Noesen was Ottawa’s first-round pick (21st overall) in 2011 and is a high-scoring prospect who has been tearing up the OHL in recent years. In the last 3 seasons, Noesen has played 182 games, scoring 97 goals and 135 assists for 232 points and should turn out to be a difference maker for the Ducks within the next 5 years. Teemu Selanne has yet to decide if he will return for another season and showed signs of slowing down last year. If he comes back, I doubt it will be with any team besides Anaheim.

Calgary Flames, Lateral
In:
Kari Ramo, Sean Monahan, Kris Russell, TJ Galiardi, David Jones, Shane O’Brien
Out:Miikka Kipprusoff, Anton Babchuk, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich Limbo: N/A

Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)
Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)

I put the Flames down as a lateral movement, but they easily could be classified as losers if it weren’t for Sean Monahan and Kari Ramo. Leading up to last season, Calgary had 3 things going good for them: Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff. However, Iginla and Bouwmeester were given away at the dead line, and Kipprusoff has expressed his intent to retire. Now, GM Jay “What the hell is going on in Calgary” Feaster has done his best to replace those departed players with younger, core players like Ramo and Monahan. There are a few issues with this plan. Problems A and B are that Ramo has had a hard time finding work in the NHL And will never be Kipprusoff, and Monahan is still a year or 2 away from being an impact player in the NHL. Problem C is that Bouwmeester was dealt and Babchuk was allowed to walk without any real replacements. Kris Russell is a lateral swap for Anton Babchuk with a slight offensive upside but won’t put up Bouwmeester’s minutes and Shane O’Brien is a younger, cheaper version of Cory Sarich. Having 3 first overall picks should have been Feaster’s opportunity to jump on a top defensive prospect like Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov or Josh Morissey, but instead he elected to take 3 forwards. I’m a fan of Monahan but the decision to, yet again, go off the board and select Emile Poirier is a decision not too many Flames fans were fond of, especially with Hunter Shinkaruk dropping so far. Either way, unless there are some big surprises coming from Calgary, it seems as though it will be another long season at the Saddledome.

Chicago Blackhawks, Losers
In: Nikolai Khabibulin
Out: Ray Emery, Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik, Rostislav Olesz, Steve Montador
Limbo: N/A
1-chicago-blackhawks-toews-hossa-2013-stanley-cup-playoffsOnce again, the post-Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks had a little bit of dismantling to do to their core. The last time the Hawks won the cup, numerous players such as Brian Campbell, Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky, among others, were either traded or allowed to sign elsewhere due to cap constraints and player bonuses. This time around, the players that were sent packing were Ray Emery (Philadelphia), Michael Frolik (Winnipeg), Viktor Stalberg (Nashville) and Dave Bolland (Toronto). Other depth players are still un-signed but it is unlikely the Hawks will bring them back since they are already right up against the cap. With these players gone and no cap space, Chicago will have to continue to explore the trade market or fill their roster from within the organization.

Colorado Avalanche, Winners
In: Nathan MacKinnon, Cory Sarich, Alex Tanguay
Out: David Jones, Shane O’Brien, Milan Hejduk Limbo: N/A

Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: puckingopinion.flickr)
Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: puckingopinion.flickr)

As sad as it is to see the Avalanche walk away from Milan Hejduk, you can’t help but be excited for the future in Colorado. Adding Nathan MacKinnon to an already talented group of young forwards including Matt Duchene, captain Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly, makes September seem a lot more than 2 months away. Although the depth at centre is nice, one has to wonder whether they will all still be playing in Denver next season. Ryan O’Reilly struggled to find his game after a contract dispute last season and has already been involved in trade discussions, so he could be expendable if he starts the season slowly. The Avs could use some help on D so it would make sense to deal O’Reilly to fill that need. If not, you can bet on seeing some high-scoring games involving Colorado next year.

Dallas Stars, Winners
In: Tyler Seguin, Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley, Valeri Nichushkin, Dan Ellis
Out: Loui Eriksson, Richard Bachman, Eric Nystrom tyler

The Dallas Stars have failed to make the post-season 5 straight years now, and it appears as though GM Jim Nill and owner Tom Gaglardi have had just about enough of that trend. Knowing full well that changes needed to be made, Nill made arguably the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button from the Boston Bruins for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser. He also brought in Shawn Horcoff from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade and signed G Dan Ellis and 10th overall draft pick Valeri Nichushkin. Signing Nichushkin means that Stars brass has faith that the kid will be able to crack the lineup at some point next season and provide offensively. Seeing Nichushkin on a line with Seguin and Jamie Benn gives me goosebumps. With Kari Lehtonen and Dan Ellis between the pipes, the defense core already in place (Goligoski, Daley, Robidas) and young guns Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton and recently acquired Ryan Button waiting patiently for their shot, the Stars seem primed to be a playoff contender once again.

Edmonton Oilers, Lateral
In: Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Jason LaBarbera, Jesse Joensuu, Richard Bachman, Darnell Nurse, David Perron
Out: Shawn Horcoff, Nikolai Khabibulin, Eric Belanger, Magnus Paajarvi Limbo: Theo Peckham, Colton Teubert, Ryan Whitney

Defence!! Finally, an Oilers GM who understands the importance of the defence position. After drafting nothing but forwards the last 4 or 5 years, Craig MacTavish selected Darnell Nurse with the 5th overall pick in hopes that he can step in next season or in 2014-15 and make a difference. Nurse is a nimble skater and makes a great first pass which is sure to help Edmonton’s speedy snipers find the twine. In addition to Nurse, MacT signed former Bruins defender Andrew Ference to a 4 year, $13 million contract hoping that he can finally bring some defensive stability to the Oilers’ blueline. Ference is a strong, mean defensive defenceman that will make it difficult for opposing threats like the Sedins or any one of the Colorado Avalanche centremen to make it to the net. Having Nathan MacKinnon added to their conference must have had something to do with the decision to bring in Ference. Additionally, MacTavish made a big splash in the hockey world by dealing under-achieving forward Magnus Paajarvi and a second round puck to the St. Louis Blues for winger David Perron. Perron immediately brings 20-25 goals to the 2nd line and is a great player to bring in to help continue development on young superstars Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Yakupov. Goaltending is a bit of a question mark, as Devan Dubnyk has yet to prove he has what it takes to be a number one goalie in the NHL. It is believed that the Oilers are trying to complete a deal for Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller, but if that doesn’t happen, it will be up to Dubnyk to try to carry this team into the playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings, Lateral
In: Jeff Schultz
Out: Rob Scuderi, Luke Richardson
Limbo: Dustin Penner
After bowing out in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual Cup winners in Chicago, the Kings seemed satisfied with their roster, opting to make minimal moves. Their only signing from the free agent market comes in the form of Jeff Schultz, who is older, but will do essentially the same thing Rob Scuderi did, for less coin. After re-signing defensemen Slava Voynov and Keaton Ellerbu, GM Dean Lombardi finally made Jonathan Bernier‘s request come to fruition by dealing him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a second round pick in either 2014 or 2015. Frattin will be a solid 3rd line scorer and is a nice depth addition; however, with Bernier gone in favor of Scrivens, the pressure is on Jonathan Quick to maintain his elite status and deal with the possibility of playing even more games.

Minnesota Wild, Losers
In: Matt Cooke, Nino Neiderreiter, Keith Ballard
Out: Devin Setoguchi, Matt Cullen, Justin Falk, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Call Cluttebuck, Tom Gilbert
Limbo: N/A

Last season the Minnesota Wild were the talk of the offseason, signing the 2 biggest names on the free agent market in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This time around, not so much. The Wild either lost or traded some quality pieces from their club, and the replacements they brought in are not of the same caliber. First, GM Chuck Fletcher traded Cal Clutterbuck and a third round pick to the Islanders for prospect Nino Neiderreiter. Nino is a very skilled player with a ridiculous offensive upside, but never felt as though he was valued or would ever get a shot with the Isles. For that reason, he was obtained relatively inexpensively, but Clutterbuck plays a style that you can’t just replace with anybody. Just wait until you watch Matt Cooke’s first game in St. Paul. Cooke claims to have changed his ways from the guy who “accidentally” cut Erik Karlsson‘s Achilles tendon and nearly decapitated Marc Savard a few years back, effectively ending his career. Cooke has been suspended by the NHL 5 times and still, teams are paying this guy. Until he proves he can do something other than hurt people, Wild fans must be throwing up in their mouths a little knowing Matt Cooke will be on their teams starting roster. Also out are Justin Falk and Tom Gilbert. Now I’m not saying these guys are defensive stalwarts who should never be let go, but between the 2 of them, they’re better than Keith Ballard. There’s a reason he was bought out by a team lacking defense. After acquiring Niederreiter from New York, Fletcher then decided he had no more use for Devin Setoguchi, so he was shipped to Winnipeg for a second round draft pick. Really? A second round pick? He has had injury problems in the past, but this is a player who once scored 31 goals and 65 points. On top of that, he had two 20-plus goal seasons without even playing that whole season. And he was got for a second rounder. Well done Kevin Chevaldayoff.

Nashville Predators, Winners
In: Seth Jones, Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks Out: Sergei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill
Limbo: Jonathon Blum

If there was a trophy for the best offseason, my vote would be for the Nashville Predators this year. GM David Poile was active at the draft and throughout free agency solidifying his roster, starting with Seth Jones. Poile didn’t have much to do with Jones slipping to fourth overall, but he is definitely not complaining. Expected to go first or, at very least, second overall to teams who need defense, Jones was snubbed not twice, but 3 times as Colorado selected MacKinnon, Florida selected Barkov and Tampa Bay chose Jonathan Drouin. Jones is a huge addition to an already stable Predators blueline, and is expected to make the team out of training camp. If he does and plays with Shea Weber, the chances of the puck ever going into Nashville’s net again are slim to none because if opposing teams can manage to get past Jones, Weber, Kevin Klein, Ryan Ellis or any other Preds’ d-men for that matter, they still have the near-impossible task of beating Pekka Rinne. On the offensive side of things, Poile’s biggest addition was recent cup-winner Viktor Stalberg. This is a great move for both player and team since Nashville is desperate for scoring and Stalberg, who is a natural scorer, was stifled in Chicago because of their offensive depth. Additionally, Matt Cullen will provide some offense and win a few draws, and Matt Hendricks will put his heart on the ice every shift. One interesting note is unsigned RFA D Jonathon Blum. At one point, Blum was expected to be a pivot in Nashville’s top 4 but now he won’t even be receiving a qualifying offer from the team. The kid is only 24 years old and still hasn’t had a chance to make a name for himself. Any team who can get Blum for a reasonable price will be making a huge steal.

Phoenix Coyotes, Winners
In: Mike Ribeiro, Thomas Greiss, Max Domi
Out: Boyd Gordon
Limbo: N/A 498

The Phoenix Coyotes are one of the teams who won by being relatively idle throughout the offseason so far. Their biggest accomplishment comes off the ice as there has been a deal put in place that will keep the Coyotes in Glendale for at least another 15 years. What this means is that the team, from the players to the ownership group, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, can go forward focusing on solely their on-ice product. It’s about hockey in the desert now, and with ownership in place it gives the players the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and win some games. To start the new era of the Coyotes (soon to be re-named the Arizona Coyotes), GM Don Maloney drafted former Toronto Maple Leaf Tie Domi‘s son, Max, and signed free agent forward, Mike Ribeiro to a 4 year, $22 million deal. Even before being drafted, Max Domi had stated many times that his style of play is nothing like his father’s. Possessing great hockey smarts and incredible vision, Max has smooth hands and can put the puck on your tape in almost any situation. He should be ready to step in and help within 1-2 years. Having drafted a guy to get pucks in the opposition’s net, the next step was to keep them out of their own net. With the market for goaltenders drying up relatively quickly after Jon Bernier and Cory Schneider were traded, Maloney didn’t hesitate to throw cash at incumbent starter Mike Smith before another team had a chance to pounce. The deal is worth $34 million and will keep Smith in Arizona until 2019-2020.

San Jose Sharks, Lateral
In: Tyler Kennedy
Out: Thomas Greiss, Scott Gomez
Limbo: N/A

The Sharks were another Western team who were relatively inactive this summer, their 2 moves being rather minor ones. The first was a deal to bring in Tyler Kennedy from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2nd round pick. The second was sending TJ Galiardi to his hometown Calgary Flames for a fourth round pick. Kennedy is a slight upgrade from Galiardi and should provide decent secondary scoring.

St. Louis Blues,Lateral
In:
Derek Roy, Magnus Paajarvi, Maxim Lapierre, Keith Aucoin
Out: David Perron, Kris Russell, Andy McDonald, Jamie Langenbrunner Limbo: N/A

Initially, I had the Blues down as winners; that was until the Perron for Paajarvi trade was announced. If I’m GM Doug Armstrong, I can understand why you would need to trade Perron, since the Blues are mighty close to the salary cap; however, I personally don’t see Magnus Paajarvi and a second round pick as fair compensation. Paajarvi has struggled in Edmonton and has been back and forth between the Oilers and their AHL affiliate, the Okalahoma City Barons ever since being drafted. While he is definitely a talented and skilled player, until he can show that he can put those talents and skills to good use, I think Edmonton wins this trade. One move I thought was smart was to bring in C Derek Roy. Roy is a 10-year NHL veteran with playoff experience who can shoot, pass, skate and lead by example. He is a great guy to have in your dressing room and will be a great help bringing along youngsters like Vladimir Tarasenko, TJ Oshie and Patrick Berglund. The Blues have somewhat of a traffic jam in their crease, so expect a goaltender to be moved before the season starts as well. Jaroslav Halak has expressed his displeasure with coach Ken Hitchcock, so it is not unreasonable to believe he will be donning a new sweater come October.

Vancouver Canucks,Losers
In:
Luke Richardson, Yannick Weber
Out: Keith Ballard, Max Lapierre, Cory Schneider, Cam Barker
Limbo: Mason Raymond Roberto-Luongo-1024x777

Oh boy.. If I am the only who thinks the Canucks are heading in the wrong direction, please let me know. After 2 and a half years of drama, controversy and “sucky contract” talks surrounding Roberto Luongo, GM Mike Gillis made the genius decision of trading Cory Schneider instead, to New Jersey for the 9th overall pick in this year’s draft. They then chose Bo Horvat with that selection. So, Schneider straight up for Horvat. Wow. Now, I’m not knocking Horvat; he’s a talented kid and should score a few goals for the Canucks in the future, but one can’t help but think that the return could have been much larger had Gillis jumped on the deal the Maple Leafs had offered. At least that deal included roster players. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and what’s done has been done. Now, Luongo has to deal with the fact the he may very well have to play out the next 8 years of his wonderful contract in Vancouver. Hey, at least he’s starting again…. right? Furthermore, since someone decided David Booth and Alex Burrows are worth $4.25 million and $4.5 million, respectively, the team has little cap room to work with, leaving Mason Raymond without a job. Personally, I love Mason Raymond. I’m the furthest thing from a Canucks fan (despite living in Vancouver), but Raymond is a gritty forward who has hands and loves to to the net. The guy can shoot and has potential, but has always had to fight for a job with Daniel Sedin, David Booth and Chris Higgins ahead of him on the ‘Nucks depth chart. I’m perplexed at how he is still unemployed and will be had at a steal for any team willing to take a chance on him. Defensively, the Canucks are so clogged they are basically sending out flyers and coupons for every one of their blueliners not named Chris Tanev or Jason Garrison. Alex Edler carries a $5 million cap hit, and Kevin Bieksa‘s is $4.6 million so those 2 names are being actively shopped, assumedly for draft picks and prospects, since Vancouver can not really afford to take back any salary. So that’s a wrap on the Western Conference offseason recap. I want to know what you guys think, so leave a comment in the box below and let me know where I went wrong! Thanks for reading, come back soon, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @younggunshockey!