2013 NHL Draft: Taking A Look At The Top 5

The draft is finally over and everyone can finally sleep a little bit better at night. At least until Free Agency starts up. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here though. We’re going to take a look at the top 5 picks who got selected in this years draft.

1. Colorado Avalanche – Nathan MacKinnon

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

Of course to no one’s surprise MacKinnon went first overall. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy had been saying for weeks that they weren’t going to draft defensemen Seth Jones. That led for lots of speculation of “will they” or “won’t they”. Well, as we can see they weren’t bluffing. Mackinnon was the first player from the QMJHL to be drafted first overall since Sidney Crosby in 2005. After putting up outstanding numbers with the Halifax Mooseheads and capturing a Memorial Cup championship title, MacKinnon will be a no brainer in training camp and should make the cut. See him on the first line with Landeskog and O’Reilly but no lower than the second where Matt Duchesne could offer great veteran support.

2. Florida Panthers – Alexander Barkov

aleksander-barkov-finlandWith the first shocker of the draft, the Florida Panthers also declined to pick up Seth Jones and went with Finnish-Russian powerhouse Alexander Barkov. Coming out of SM-Liga with Tappara in Finland, Barkov collected 48 points in 53 games. A massive man at 6’2, Barkov shows a great amount of hockey sense and should add depth to the Panthers squad.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jonathan Drouin

Halifax Mooseheads v Shawinigan CataractesAs expected, Steve Yzerman and company selected MacKinnon’s Halifax teammate Jonathan Drouin. Fast feet and good hands, Drouin is a great pick to fill in the void that was left with Vincent Lecavalier’s buyout. Drouin seems to know what’s going on around him on the ice at all times. He was an integral part of Halifax’s Memorial Cup win.

4. Nashville Predators – Seth Jones
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What a steal for the Nashville Predators! American defencemen Seth Jones was choosen 4th overall and could not have gone to a better team. Imagine him and Shea Weber on your blue line. This year with Portland, Jones racked up 56 points in the 61 games he played. Should be interesting to see how his career first starts out.

5. Carolina Hurricanes – Elias Lindholm

Elias-LindholmA jack of all trades, Lindholm is a great addition for the Hurricanes and the Stall brothers. A stick handler with lots of leadership skills in him, Lindholm could go a long way in the Carolina system. Providing he doesn’t head back to Europe, he’s a rising star on the east coast.

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The View Of The Draft From The Peanut Gallery

As the draft rolls on before our eyes I would like to point some what of an observation…

What strikes me as odd is that for many of these kids and their families, this is the happiest day of their lives and some of these GMs are skulking up to the podiums and just nonchalantly announcing names..Washington’s seemed outright rude.

Is it their intention to make it seem as if they don’t give a crap about these kids..? Cause it certainly comes across that way.

Anyway its great to see these young kids and their families looking so proud and excited. The coming years will be pivotal for all them, some will join the elite and others may disappear into obscurity. However this has to be the proudest day of their lives.

Behind Bars: Summer of the Goaltender

March’s Note: Kavan Young is a new contributor to the blog. Stationed out of Vancouver, British Columbia and a die hard Habs fan, Kavan will give us his fresh take on all things hockey! Welcome bud!

Welcome, and thank you for checking out my post! This is my first attempt at starting a blog and can’t wait to see what kind of reaction I will get. I have an extreme passion for hockey; perhaps an obsession. Regardless, I love this game and all the discussions and debates that come with it. So without further ado, let’s get started! Growing up playing goal, I thought, “What better way to start a blog than to talk about my favourite position.”

Last offseason in the NHL saw little action in regards to goaltender movement, with only Al Montoya, Sergei Bobrovsky, Anders Lindback, Jonas Gustavsson and Chris Mason re-painting their masks.

Teams were looking more for top line forwards and top 6 defensemen, with players like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Rick Nash, Jordan Staal, James van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn bringing in the highest demand.

This season, however, is a much different monster; there are a number of goalies who will be shipped out, bought out and paid handsomely, as many teams, such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, have been exposed at the position.

This article will take a look at available goaltenders and their potential destinations.

Roberto Luongo:

Roberto-Luongo-1024x777Gotta start with Bobby Lu. Living in Vancouver, I hear a lot about this guy, and for good reason. The man is a true professional, an elite goaltender and still has lots left in the tank. He has dealt with rumors and potential trades for nearly 3 years now and GM Mike Gillis and the Canucks owe it to him to have him moved by the time next season starts. Whether it be via buyout or trade, look for Luongo to end up somewhere southern. He resides in South Florida so the Panthers seem to be a likely destination, but don’t rule out Tampa Bay either. Anders Lindback has the potential to be a stellar number one goaltender, but dropped the ball last season and could really benefit from a proven veteran and leader like Luongo.

Ryan Miller

8399972885_db7bf03c76What oh what do we do with Ryan Miller? The current Sabres starter has been in the Buffalo system since being drafted in 1999 and has suck with them through thick and thin. Nowadays, however, the Sabres seem to be unable to decide whether to rebuild or try to add pieces for another push. I think it makes sense for GM Darcy Regier to shop Miller actively.

At only 32 years of age, Miller is still in his prime, but doesn’t have a lot of time left, so a cup contender with plenty of firepower makes sense as a destination for Miller.

With the Philadelphia Flyers recent buyout of the sometimes eccentric Ilya Bryzgalov, its not a stretch to visualize miller in orange and black next season. Knowing that Philly is the NHL’s graveyard for goalies would normally be a deterrent, but with only a year left on his contract, it is a low-risk, high-reward deal for all parties involved. Philly gets a proven starter with experience on his resume, Miller can re-establish himself in a new city while giving the Flyers a chance to win and Buffalo gets assets and/or picks to help build the future of the team.

Ilya Bryzgalov:

Ilya Bryzgalov. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr)
Ilya Bryzgalov. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr)

Speaking of the Flyers, how good of a move was it to buyout possibly the biggest headache in the NHL. Besides Roberto Luongo, I can’t see any other team with as much drama surrounding them as Philadelphia had with Bryz, besides Phoenix, but that’s a whole other story.

Realizing that his client is somewhat of a headcase, Ilya’s agent Ritch Winter has gone public stating that Philadelphia’s goaltending system is awful and that their goalie coach has no authority. Whether these words are fact or an opinion is somewhat irrelevant, as this seems like a marketing ploy to let interested teams know that Bryzgalov can still stop a puck or two and that it’s actually the team’s fault that Bryz sucked it up for 2 years. Right.

Either way, after names like Luongo and Miller are dealt with, teams who missed out may take a chance on the former Vezina finalist since there won’t be much left afterwards.

Edmonton is a team that Bryzgalov has expressed interest in playing for, but i can’t see that interest being mutual. Devan Dubnyk seems to be the future between the pipes in oil country, so they may look closer at a proven backup such as Ray Emery or Dan Ellis to help mentor him and shape him into a guy who can steal a few games.

Sitting on the cusp of being a playoff team, the Winnipeg Jets may want to give Ritch Winter a call to inquire about his client’s services. Ondrej Pavelec is supposed to be the clear-cut number 1 in Winnipeg, but his career numbers are mediocre at best (2.98 GAA, .907 SV%). If GM Kevin Chevaldayoff can talk Bryzgalov into dealing with Winnipeg’s weather, he could be exactly what the team needs to get Pavelec going. Bringing in Bryz on a one-year deal as a 1B shows Pavelec that the organization is less than pleased with his performances and creates a healthy competition for the starting job.

Marc-Andre Fleury:

3621604412_57016e5b18The Flower is an interesting name to have on this list, as he has backstopped Pittsburgh to the playoffs in each of his 7 full seasons with the team, posting career numbers of 249-151-2-39, 2.66 GAA and 0.910 over 467 games.

It is his efforts in the postseason that have left Penguins brass scratching their heads. After winning it all in 2009-2009, Fleury has choked in the postseason to the point of being pulled and benched.

The question mark is whether Fleury is a legitimate elite goaltender or if he can’t handle the pressure come playoffs. This, surely, has made GM Ray Shero consider the option of moving his long-time starting goaltender who has 2 years left at $5 million per season on his current contract.

One team who may shoot Mr. Shero a text message is the St. Louis Blues. With Jaroslav Halak apparently displeased with his playing time, he could use a change of scenery to get back on track. With a record of 109-67-21(1.23 winning percentage compared to Fleury’s 1.31), GAA of 2.43 and SV% of .918 during the regular season, his numbers are not all that different when put up against Fleury’s.

It’s the playoffs that tip the scales in Halak’s favor. Fleury’s playoff numbers are average at best (2.73 GAA, .903 SV%). Halak’s numbers, meanwhile, are definitely not Conn Smythe-worthy; they are, however, substantially better than Fleury’s at 2.48 GAA and .923 SV% over his career.

Both goaltenders are in need of a change and could excel on opposite teams. Halak plays well and can carry his team (as he put on display during Montreal’s magical 2010 run) should defence be lacking (see: Pittsburgh Penguins) and Fleury could benefit from a team with any type of defensive structure (see: St. Louis Blues).

Although I believe Halak to be the better goalie, Fleury’s cup ring and All-Star nomination may increase his market value; therefore, St. Louis may have to toss in a defensive prospect or draft pick. Let’s try this:

PIT gets:Jaroslav Halak, Kris Russell or Ian Cole

STL gets:Marc-Andre Fleury, 3rd round pick

This deal gives both goalies a fresh start while benefiting both teams with Russell/Cole and the Pens 3rd rounder being swapped.

Other goalies who may be on the move:

Jonas Hiller – With the emergence of Victor Fasth and one of John Gibson or Igor Bobkov making the jump to the show, the crease in Anaheim seems to be a little crowded nowadays. Phoenix needs a starting goalie and has the young defensive help that Anaheim needs. Oliver Ekman-Larsson may be untouchable, but the Coyotes have secretly been fielding questions about Keith Yandle for some time now and he may be a great fit in SoCal.

Mike Smith – With the confusion surrounding the Coyotes’ ownership, expect Smith to test the market and take his talents elsewhere come July 5th.

James Reimer – Some may be surprised to see this name up here and, I admit, it is a bit of a longshot, but with the recent acquisition of Jonathan Bernier and many quality backup tenders available, Reimer may finally grow tired of the lack of confidence the Leafs have put in him and it may be best for both teams to split. I don’t foresee this happening in the offseason, but if Bernier has a strong start to the season, don’t be surprised to see Reimer’s name come up in trade rumors.

Goalie Mask Sunday: Ondrej Pavelec And His Salute To The RCAF

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This week we take a look at Winnipeg Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec and his 2013 lid. Whether or not this actually is indeed a tribute to the Royal Canadian Air Force; I have no idea, but I’m going to look at it that way.

8444507761_b2b34ae999In keeping with a slight WW2 theme that we had last week with Antti Niemi’s mask, this one shows the old WW2 fighter jet that was so commonly seen. The fighter jets were painted on their fronts to instill terror among the opposing soldiers/civillians.

Painted one again by David Gunnarsson of Sweden, you can see how he took his time to make sure all the details were just right including a giant maple leaf on top of the head. Either way, the veterans of the RCAF can look at this mask and salue it with pride.

I hope Pavelec continues wearing this mask for next season, it sure is a beauty.

The Current State Of Officiating

I have read a lot of talk on the inter webs this year from fans the league about poor officiating.  Many point out unfair or just flat out stupid penalties being called. I’m not sure if I’m inclined to support that statement entirely..

I do think officiating has slipped in recent seasons. My argument has been more the fact that games are not allowed to flow as they should at times. Every game before a face off, players are kicked out for arbitrary infraction reasons, sometimes two or three guys are thrown out in a row.

troy

DROP THE FREAKIN’ PUCK ALREADY !

I have heard the hockey media say things like ‘Well referees have a way of evening things out..’ I do not like these statements at all. It’s something soccer commentators talk about. Being someone who has watched soccer my whole life, I know how flat out appalling refereeing can be. My hope is that it will never slip to that degree . These guys aren’t machines, mistakes will be made. Apart from a few big games such as Dallas’s Brett Hull 1999 goal, (which was more because of a poor rule than poor officiating), the NHL still fairs as being some of the best in sports. In my opinion anyway.

One can also argue that views on officiating are often where your allegiances lie. Which I can honestly say is true. I mean if referees call an awful penalty on the Penguins for example are Philidelphia fans really going to care? Then again Flyers/Pens games are like a bar brawl down in southwest Philly. So what do you expect?!

I sense myself starting to ramble here so I’m going to cut this short.

In closing, if people have issues with officiating. Easy solution. Bring this man back.

bill

Nuff Said.

x

A Tribute To Jay Onrait And Dan O’Toole

jan13-Send-in-the-Clowns-TSN-Sportscentre-Jay-Onrait-Dan-OToole-intro2 of Canada’s most beloved sports anchors have left our home and native land for greener pastures down south. It was nothing short of a tradition or ritual to wake up every morning and turn on Sportscentre with Jay and Dan to start your day. We are jealous that the Americans now get to bask in all of their hilarious glory but, they’ll be back. We know it. Let’s tap into some of the emotions that made us ride every morning.

We danced……

We got angry….

We grew old….

We had a dart….

And most importantly, we Bobrovsky’d.

And for that Jay Onrait and Old Man Toolsie…..WE SALUTE YOU.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Leafs/Kings 1993 Conference Finals

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston BruinsWe left off last Friday with Doug Gilmour’s double overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues. The Leafs took the series and headed to the conference finals against Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings.

Belive it or not, this was the first conference final to not have either Calgary or Edmonton shine in it since 1982. Both teams were at an all time high, especially the Leafs. This was the first team that had gelled together for a Stanley Cup run in a long time. (Think 1967 long).

With the Kings down 4-1, Game 1 started off the controversy and rivalry when Marty McSorley decided to just flatten Dougie Gilmour on open ice with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd period. Wendel Clark, never one to shy down from anything, decided to take matters into his own hands.  And this one is a beauty of a fight.

Coach Pat Burns was furious and was adament that Los Angeles coach Barry Melrose ordered McSorley to take out the Leafs star player. But the controversy was just getting started.

Fast forward to game 6 where the Leafs were ahead 3 games to 2 and one win away from the Stanley Cup finals. Playing on home ice, the Leafs were pumped, angry and just raring to go. Not to mention the fans. The game went back and forth similar to a few games Chicago and Boston played in the finals this year. With the score knotted at 4 a piece, the Leafs and Kings head to overtime.

Maybe you’ve heard of this guy Wayne Gretzky. The league’s star (and for intents and purposes could be down right dirty) player, decided to give ol’ Dougie a little stick tap to the face which resulted in cutting Gilmour’s chin. Right in front of the official. Perfect. 5 minute major right?

WRONG.

BECAUSE Gretzky was the league’s star player and ultimate money making machine, he could do no harm. Gilmour was left bloody and Gretzky was left unpenalized.  Ok, no worries. The Leafs still got this.

Wrong again. Peter Zezel takes a stupid penalty and you know who decides to show up and play….

It was all over but the crying folks. The Kings went on to win the whole series. The Gilmour incident remains on the most controversial plays in NHL history.

 

Hockey Links Of The Week

icerink3.jpgHere’s a weekly round up of some of the things that are going on in the hockey world:

Tampa Bay Lightning Buyout Vincent Lecavalier

Alex Tanguay Heads Back To Colorado In 4 Player Swap With Calgary

Philadelphia Flyers Buyout Ilya Bryzgalov

Andrew Ference Shaves Off His Playoff Beard In Style

Mark Messier Leaves New York Rangers Organization

Mike Modano Tries To Rap Over In Da Club By 50 Cent

Brent Sutter Is Back With Team Canada Junior Squad

LNAH 2013 Draft: Thetford Mines Isothermic

isothermicIsothermic de Thetford Mines is next up as we take a look at the LNAH Draft.

The first player to become property of Thetford Mines is Kevin Veilleux. Wanted by almost every team in the league, Veilleux as draft 51st overall in the 2nd round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by non other then the Pittsburgh Penguins. Veillieux played with Pittsburgh’s affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scanton and also spent some time in the East Coast Hockey League with the Wheeling Nailers. (Yes, that’s a real team.) A 6 foot right winger, Veillieux is a great pick up for the Isothermic.

A great pickup came in the 6th round when Thetford selected goaltender Gabriel Girard. Girard has played the last 5 season in the Q with Shawinigan, and even has a Memorial Cup title under his belt.

(Photo: texasstarshockey.com)
(Photo: texasstarshockey.com)

Hubert Labrie also became property of Thetford Mines in the 7th round. This guy is a huge defensive pickup. He’s spent a lot of time in the Dallas Stars system and I’ve kept track of his record while writing for the Texas Stars last year. (Shameless plug: head to http://www.blackoutdallas.com) He finished out the season with the Idaho Steelheads and I’m thrilled at the chance to be getting to see him.

From my standpoint, Thetford Mines has gotten a lot of experienced players in their draft. Their scouts did something right.