Category: NHL Off-Season

Vegas cap space, John Tavares watch, Oliver Ekman Larsson extension

Vegas big spenders this offseason? 

Vegas is at an all-time high right now with $52 million in projected cap space, coming off the best inaugural season for a first-year franchise and coming out of the Stanley Cup final. But the big news here is what are the Golden Knights going to do with the $52 million in cap they have, well for one they are going to sign James Neal, and David Perron well offer them contracts at least, as well as their four expiring defensemen. Then after that is said and done they are for sure going to throw something at John Tavares, Max Pacioretty, and any big name free agent out there. The owner, general manager and head coach of the Knights are all on board to go out and do something this offseason and said they are no afraid to throw money around. A rumor even came out the Golden Knights were close to acquiring Erik Karlsson but Cody Glass was the piece they were unwilling to part with. Well now it has come around again this trade rumor, and we are close to hearing something about Erik Karlsson and Vegas soon. The Knights will also be bringing back Marc Andre Fleury as he said he wants to stay with Vegas the rest of his career. the Knights are going to be causing a lot of havoc this offseason so stay tuned.

Johnny T and OEL talk

John Tavares may be coming back to New York for sure now, after the Lou Lamoriello signing, and Garth Snow and Doug Weight firing, things are on the up for the Islanders. The scary part is nothing has even come out about Tavares in terms of what is going on with his contract extension, like at least the Coyotes and Oliver Ekman Larsson have come to agreements verbally and have told people so they do not need to continue to entertain teams about Ekman Larsson. Tavares and the Islanders not doing anything is a bit concerning this now almost a full year the Tavares watch continues on and nothing has even happened. Maybe behind closed doors but if you are the Islanders, don’t you want to finalize this and get your franchise player aboard? A bit odd to me this has still continued. While the Coyotes have supposedly verbally agreed to a contract extension with Oliver Ekman Larsson, it is supposed to be around 8-years with an unknown AAV at the moment, that is probably why it is a verbal agreement because no money has been said yet. But the Coyotes start the offseason in the right direction signing back their #1 defenseman a top-20 defenseman in the NHL.

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10 Thoughts Entering a New Season

  1. Who controls the east?

The eastern conference has taken over control within the past few years but entering the 2017-2018 season who will control it? The Capitals have controlled the regular season for a couple years now. Following this offseason, the Caps appear to have lost some key pieces. The past couple of seasons there were many who would say the Capitals or the Penguins. Entering this season it is more of a toss-up then ever.

  1. Can California bounce back?

There is no issue with the Anaheim Ducks however, the other two Californian team’s had a season to forget last year. The Sharks were knocked out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the inexperienced Oilers. The Sharks struggles came from players who underperformed. If the production resurfaces, the Sharks will have success. As for the Kings, The Kings had a rough season last year as well. A lot could be to blame including and injury to top goaltender Jonathan Quick. The Kings will have trouble again this upcoming season due to lack of depth on both ends of the ice.

  1. How will the rookie class compare?

Entering the previous NHL entry draft, there was a reason to believe that this was a draft class without a Connor McDavid or an Auston Matthews. There are some other rookies not drafted from this recent draft year who will be making debuts also but how will they compare to the previous years? Can Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick evolve into an Auston Matthews? There will be a significant difference in the rookie class this year and it will be noticeable.

  1.  What team is under the radar?

The Carolina Hurricanes are a team to watch out for this season. The Canes have been in a rebuild mode for the past couple of seasons. Following this offseason, they have included more depth to complement their bottom six forwards. The D-core is also fun to watch as they are a young group with a lot of talent. Many predict the Canes to be a playoff bubble team. The Hurricanes will make the playoffs squeezing into a wild card spot.

  1. How will the new rules affect the game?

The 2017-2018 NHL season will be different indeed with the addition to new rules. New rules including the faceoff rule, the challenging offsides can lead to a penalty, and there are other minor rules that go unnoticed like the visor rule where the visor must protect the eyes. It will be very interesting to see how these rules will affect the league and flow of the game.

  1. Tampa Bay’s season?

It is the year for the Tampa Bay Lightning to finally take home Lord Stanley. With a healthy group, they have one of the deepest teams in the east. Solid goaltending in young gun Andrei Vasilevskiy will provide the bolts with a steady net presence. The D-core is healthy and young adding Mikael Sergachev to the depth of the blue line. A healthy Steven Stamkos is the biggest plus to the lineup. Watch out for Tampa this year.

  1. New contract players

Keep in mind that this was a big offseason in terms of contract extensions. With all of the extensions what to look out for are all of these players who were recently inked up. Players including Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little, etc. It will be interesting to see how these players perform following their contract extensions.  

  1. Third time’s a charm?

The spotlight is on for the Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in a row. The Penguins have lost some depth and big-time playoff performers in Nick Bonino and Chris Kunitz. These two put a hole on the Penguins depth. The defense is lacking as well. The main question on defense is can Kris Letang stay healthy. Letang has battled many injuries over the years but when he is on the ice he is a force. Look out to see if Letang can stay healthy this season.

  1. Suspensions

Another thing to watch for this season is how the league will handle suspensions. There have been multiple suspensions handed out during the pre-season for dirty play. How will the league handle player safety this year with a new face in charge of it?

  1. Jagr

Finally, after waiting all off-season and until the end of pre-season, Jaromir Jagr has been signed by an NHL team. The Calgary Flames have signed Jagr to a one year deal worth 1 million dollars. The Flames are coming off last season making the playoffs with their young roster. Jagr adds age and experience to the lineup and will be interesting to see what type of impact he makes right from the get-go.

What is next for the Detroit Red Wings?

This past season was the first year the Detroit Red Wings missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 1989 season. Everyone knew they were going to miss the playoffs eventually, but this could be the beginning of the end for the immediate future. Detroit is beginning to trend downward for sure.

The Upside…

Although Detroit is in a tough situation, there are a few things they can look forward too. Anthony Mantha looks like he could be the face of the franchise in the coming future. He was able to post 36 points in 60 games in Hockeytown last year. Look for him to increase his numbers this year and be a bright spot for this Detroit team for years to come alongside Dylan Larkin. Another bright spot is the opening of their new arena downtown, Little Caesars Arena. Any time a new arena opens there is always a lot of attention to be drawn to it, and the same goes for this situation. The new arena will bring in the fans and the money, but it all depends on the product on the ice.

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The Cons…

Where do I begin? This Detroit team has more holes than Swiss cheese. Both Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek have been given opportunities to be the number one goalie and neither has taken the bone to this point. From a defensive standpoint, they have some big names but all of them are players out of their prime. Trevor Daley signed a three-year deal in the offseason, but the problem is he is 33-years-old and turns 34 in October. Both Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall used to be solid defenseman in this league, but both are fading and fading fast. Detroit puts out a solid first line with Zetterberg in the middle, Mantha on the right and Larkin on the left. After that, what is left? Detroit is full of guys who have underperformed and have never been able to take the next step in terms of an offensive standpoint. For Detroit to have any chance of competing for Lord Stanley, let alone make the playoffs, they need everything to go perfectly, which almost never happens. Look for an array of first round picks in the top ten for the Red Wings in the coming years.

New York Rangers Off Season in Review

The 2016-2017 season was full of high hopes for the New York Rangers. A team predicted to not only contend for a division title but also contend for Lord Stanley’s Cup. A year in which they finished with 102 points, fourth in the league and goals, and a spot in the playoffs is no laughing matter. Unfortunately, they were unable to reach their goal. After a thrilling series win in six games against the Montreal Canadians, they underperformed in the second round and were eventually ousted by the Ottawa Senators in six games. General manager Jeff Gorton promised a “rebuild on the fly” going into the offseason. He promised there would be changes to this team coming into this season.

GORTON’S OFFSEASON PROMISE

General manager Jeff Gorton and the Rangers began the process with a blockbuster trade right before the NHL draft. Gorton parted ways with his number one center and a backup goaltender, sending longtime Ranger Derek Stepan and Anti Raanta out to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a 2017 first round pick and a right-handed defenseman in Anthony DeAngelo. DeAngelo, a former first-round pick by the Lightning back in 2014, comes to New York after splitting time last year between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners. DeAngelo is expected to be thrown right into the mix and compete for a roster spot this season. A right-handed shot that is good at moving the puck and can lead the power play is just one of the reasons why the Rangers went and got him. In the trade, the Rangers received a 2017 first round pick. That pick, which was seventh overall in the draft, the Rangers used by drafting an eighteen-year-old Sweden product named Lias Andersson. Andersson, who scouts gave the nickname “Swiss army knife” because of his ability to do just about anything, is another player like DeAngelo who can compete for a roster spot on this years team. With the Rangers losing their top center in Stepan, they immediately tried to address that hole with the drafting of Andersson. In addition to the pick acquired in the trade with the Coyotes, the Rangers also had their own first-round draft pick, 21st overall, in which they used on a young Czech named Flip Chytil. Chytil, who just turned 18 years old, is a pick for more of the future than the now, but still a highly skilled prospect nonetheless.

 

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NYR: Lias Andersson goes 7th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft

 

With Raanta being shipped off to the desert, the Rangers had to address the backup goaltender position and they did so by signing former Winnipeg Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec to a one year contract to bring him to Broadway. The 29 year old comes to New York to replace Raanta, who was stellar in his time in New York as the backup. The Rangers believe Pavelec is capable for the job behind the now 35 year old Henrik “King” Lundqvist. The biggest move made by the Ranger’s front office this offseason was without a doubt signing the prized free agent in this year’s offseason, Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk, who was contacted by multiple teams in the league chose to take less money and less term to come to New York. The New Rochelle native cited the chance to play for his childhood team and the realistic chance to win a Stanley Cup was just some of the reasons he wanted to a New York Ranger. Gorton and his brass finally got their stud defenseman to pair with Ryan McDonagh and got their guy to lead the power play which has struggled mightily over the last five or so years. A win-win situation for the Rangers and Shattenkirk as he makes the team instantly better.

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NEW YORK RANGERS DESTINE FOR MORE 

The New York Rangers are primed for a Stanley Cup run once again this year. A team that has made the playoffs seven straight years, last missing in the 2009-2010 season, has only made it to a cup final once in the past seven years. The clock is ticking on King Henrik with his age and play. A new look at the Rangers roster coming this season, hopefully it fares well. Only time will tell.

NHL News: A Look at NJ, CAR, PHI Off Season and 2017-2018 Expectations…

Let’s take a look at some of the Metropolitan division teams, that do not per se “get the accreditation” being in this division and not being a top tier team recently. But with these off season moves these three teams can be making a push to the top in the Metropolitan. New Jersey, Philadelphia and Carolina all had pretty eventful off seasons.

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Carolina Hurricanes(36-31-5, 7th East Metropolitan)- Carolina was one of the more busier teams this offseason after back to back five games above .500 records, and some key players producing more efficiently, it seemed as if Carolina wanted to buy into their youth and take a run at the playoffs next season. With the addition of former and now current Carolina Hurricane Justin Williams. Williams will add a ton of leadership and Stanley Cup presence mentality in the locker room, along with being a 20-25 goal scorer and helping the youth in Carolina. Trevor Van Riemsdyk(TVR) helps mold the top four in Carolina and will more than likely be paired with Justin Faulk, TVR has a won Stanley Cup before so again adding another Stanley Cup winner is a great tool to have for Carolina. Marcus Kruger another depth veteran who will fit in nicely to the bottom six here in Carolina. Carolina has a done a great job at improving their forward needs and defensive needs, along with adding Scott Darling. Darling has not faced full-time minutes his whole career but when Corey Crawford was absent, Darling filled in nicely, hoping the 28-year-old goalie can handle full time, Carolina can turn some heads in the Metro next season, don’t sleep on these guys.

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New Jersey Devils(28-40-14, 8th East Metropolitan)- After signing Taylor Hall last season, New Jersey fans thought their prayers were answered, but they seemingly forgot their defense is still in shambles and their offense minus Hall and Henrique was nothing special. With the off season acquisition of veteran, Brian Boyle helps add a third line center to the mix and build this bottom six depth the Devils need. Along with signing another 20 plus goal scorer Marcus Johansson to help Taylor Hall the Devils offense looks to be coming together nicely for next season. Also with the drafting of Nico Hirscher instead of Nolan Patrick was a big help for New Jersey. Hirscher has the ability to play in the NHL next season and make an impact right away, although he is not much compared to past 1st overall draft picks Hirscher will be a nice top line center for the Devils and paired with the right players can see some major upside. On top of Pavel Zacha the highly talked about forward prospect for the Devils, who will more than likely play full-time minutes next season the 20-year-old center will be paired with the Devils top end guys. Next season will provide Devil fans a good picture of what is to come in New Jersey’s future. Although the Devils defense is still a question mark right now, if one or two low end buys come in for the Devils like Will Butcher or perhaps a veteran, may help bolster the Devils defense. The Devils may not see the post season next season, but we can expect them to finish better than 12 games below .500, within a year or two and the right defenseman added to their roster the Devils can become a threat in the Metropolitan.

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Philadelphia Flyers(39-33-10, 6th East Metropolitan)- The Flyers have to be one of the more inconsistent teams in the NHL when it comes to stringing together wins throughout the season, they always seem to go on hot streaks then drop a few games or go back and forth lose one, win one, so on, so on. The Flyers sent off Brayden Schenn this off season and received Jori Lehtera in return. Plus the addition of Valtteri Filppula this past trade deadline was a good addition to the team. Lethra played alongside one of the better goal scorers in the NHL, hoping he can help Voracek and Giroux get their scoring touches back would be a huge upside in Philadelphia. Filppula is a proven veteran and has a ton of playoff experience plus being a proven playmaker will help the lacking offensive production in Philadelphia. The Flyers top six ranks up well with other top six’s in the league, if they can just stay consistent and produce all year round and not just in one month the Flyers can possibly be on the brink of playoff chances for next season. The two big question marks for the Flyers are their defense and starting goalie, we can assume the two goalies Brian Elliott and Michael Neuvirth will split time and just go with whoever is hottest at the moment, but as far as defense goes Shayne Gostisbehere better bounce back next season and the Flyers youth on the back end has to step in nicely. Ivan Provorov has shown signs of being a solid NHL defenseman but Andrew McDonald being in the top 5 is never a plus. If the Flyers offense can make up for their subpar defense then this team has a legitimate shot at making a run at the playoffs next season, but if they continue to play inconsistently during the year and see some goalie issues(because Brian Elliott and Michael Neuvirth are not the best options per se), next season will just be a repeat of the Flyers 2016-2017 season.

NHL Off Season: Where Will Univ. of Denver Will Butcher Land?

Another Jimmy Vesey has hit the market this summer, and as of August 15th, 2017, Will Butcher the former Hobey Baker winner and NCAA University of Denver native looks to test the free agency market in just two weeks. Butcher completed four years at Denver, playing all four years, along with playing for the USA-U20, U18 team while at Denver as well. Butcher has contributed 158 games, 28 goals, 75 assists, 103 points during his time at Denver. The 22-year-old, former fifth round draftee of the 2013 NHL draft has opted out of signing with Colorado Avalanche, and some teams have begun to show interest in him already, but what team is most likely to sign Butcher?

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New Jersey Devils- Butcher has demanded to be put on an NHL roster right away and wants to play full time minutes his first year, New Jersey has nothing to lose gambling on Butcher, their defense is not the best and could use some youth and Butcher could be that guy.

Boston Bruins- Only reason Butcher may not land here is that he wants to play immediately but Boston has a ton of youth on their defensive end and some proven NHL ready defenseman so Butcher may not see full-time minutes if joining the Bruins. But another young defenseman would not hurt the Bruins, plus an array of NCAA players like McAvoy and Butcher would not hurt the Bruins.

Detroit Red Wings- The Red Wings have expressed some interest in Butcher and definitely could use him, their defense is very shaky and Butcher may add some explosiveness and youth on the Red Wings back end, along with his low cost the Red Wings would not have to break the bank on Butcher. They really have nothing to lose Detroit, as they are in the middle of a rebuilding stage.

Pittsburgh Penguins- The Penguins already have some former NCAA players rostered and have shown that their development of NCAA players has been great, Butcher could land in Pittsburgh due to his low cap buy, and Penguins recent success, Butcher wants to come into a winning environment obviously and the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions are just that.

Chicago Blackhawks- Butcher has expressed some interest in Chicago being a USA native and Chicago’s holes on the back end next season, Butcher can come in and play an immediate role for Chicago, along with Chicago having a few successful youth prospects in the making and currently on their roster.

NHL: Is 2017-2018 Finally the Capitals Year? No.

For the past two years Capital fans and players have claimed it to be their “year”, after back to back President trophy season’s and no Stanley Cup to walk away with, plus not reaching an Eastern Conference final in 19 years, along with being knocked out in the 2nd round three years in a row after claiming it to be their “year”. The famous Alex Ovechkin sporting a golf bag over his head haunts many Washington fans, the city of Washington longs for a Stanley Cup and some sport in the area to be successful. Being that the Capitals have finished first in the NHL the last two years and been a top 10 NHL team in the last five years, with nothing to prove leaves many fans heartbroken and fans wondering if maybe it’s the Capitals year again this year?

The simple answer is, NO.

 

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Heading into this off season the Capitals were faced with major questions regarding cap space and player resigning issues. After allowing Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams walk, the Capitals roster will look very different, to say the least. A projected line set up for Washington(contributed by Fishbowl Fantasy via Instagram), prospect Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey will be cracking the Capitals line up next season.

It appears signing T.J. Oshie for 8 years $46 million at age 30, Evgeny Kuznetsov for 8 years at $62.4 million, Dmitry Orlov for 6 years at $30.6 million and last but not least back up goaltender Phillip Grubauer for 1 year at $1.5 million, was more important to the Capitals than having a possible shot at the Stanley Cup next season. The only contract I can condone is the Kuznetsov one due to his age, production, and relationship with Ovechkin, but the other three don’t make too much sense to me.

With Ovechkin aging and the Capitals losing three very big pieces to their playoff success and regular season success in past seasons, it will be extremely difficult for the Capitals to stay afloat the top the NHL with the Rangers, Devils, Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Lightning, Islanders, and Penguins in contention with them. When a team loses three guys who combined for 244 games played, 51 goals, 71 assists and 119 points while only gaining a player who has contributed nearly nothing to NHL line ups during his career(Devante Smith-Pelly), it’s tough to say who will fill that void, can Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky score 25 plus goals next season, possibly? Can Brooks Orpik or Matt Niskanen play the minutes Karl Alzner saw plus more due to the rookies slotted in the roster, possibly?

The theme is Washington has a lot of questions to be answered heading into next season with every surrounding team only getting better and Washington taking a step back this offseason, many if not all fans can confidently say next year is not the Capitals year, nor is the next year or the year after that or after that.