Tag: colorado avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Lack Of Depth Scoring Proves They Need To Make A Trade…

The Colorado Avalanche currently sit in the first wild-card spot by one point. They are one point ahead of Minnesota, Anaheim and Vancouver and just three points ahead of Edmonton. They have lost 7 of their last 10 games, are on a current three-game losing streak and to put it lightly have stunk over the last month and a half. It is bizarre because the Avalanche were nearly a top-three divisional team and looking like another shoe-in to the playoffs just a little over a month ago. Now, they have won only 5 games in their last 18 games (over December and now into January). What has been the Avalanche’s biggest issue, well aside from Semyon Varlamov going down with an injury, their depth scoring has been nearly non-existent.

Avalanche lack of depth scoring

Looking at the Avalanche’s top scorers, Mikko Rantanen (68) , Nathan MacKinnon (66) and Gabriel Landeskog (51) the Avalanche’s next top scoring forward is Carl Soderberg with 25 points. After Soderberg the next in line is Alexander Kerfoot with 24 points. Therefore from the top Rantanen’s 68 points to Soberberg’s 25 points there is a 43 point difference. From Landeskog to Soderberg there is a 26 point drop off. That will for sure cause some loses and a rough period of hockey for any team. Anyways not to highlight only Soderberg here (which 25 points for him is not too shabby) but guys like Tyson Jost, with 15 points in 41 games, Matt Nieto with 14 points in 41 games, Colin Wilson 13 points in 36 games and Matt Calvert with 14 points in 45 games is a major reason the Avalanche have struggled greatly. All the players mentioned above are either second liners or third liners, lines that should produce. The Avalanche have a major depth scoring issue and it is not only apparent on the front end, it is apparent on the back end as well. Aside from Tyson Barrie’s 32 points in 41 games the next defenseman up is Erik Johnson with 14 points in 45 games, Samuel Girard with 13 points in 45 games, the Avalanche’s top-three have not been all that productive as well.

Avalanche need to find a top-6 forward ASAP!

Which leaves us to the only solution for the Avalanche go out and get a forward. The Rangers are looking to move, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestikov, three guys that will be in your top six right away plus if you add one of those three you move MacKinnon or Rantanen down and even out the production a little. Or even go after Wayne Simmonds someone who can play with MacKinnon so Landeskog and Rantanen can play together or Gustav Nyquist, or Michael Ferland, Tyler Toffoli their are players out there that can be added to add some depth and the Avalanche need to do something sooner or later before they are really out of it. They need to break up MacKinnon and Rantanen or add another top-six winger as soon as possible!

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Where Wayne Simmonds Can Land At The Trade Deadline

It confirmed the Philadelphia Flyers are moving on from Wayne Simmonds. The reasons, we do not know. Speculation could be, he is going to be a UFA come the off-season expecting 5.5-7 million a year for a longer term deal. Simmonds has been in a little of a funk lately, only producing 46 points in 75 games last season and only 19 points in 44 games. Either way the Flyers are looking to actively shop Simmonds and are looking for a goaltender, top-six forward and fifth defenseman. Therefore where can we see Simmonds land?

  1. Edmonton Oilers: They need a top-six forward and that’s what Simmonds is plus paring him with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl is a no-brainer for the Oilers. Plus the Oilers can trade Cam Talbot or Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell type defenseman and they have a few picks to give. Simmonds would pair well in Edmonton even though Milan Lucic has been rather unsuccessful recently and Lucic, Simmonds play similar games. Simmonds is a little more used to scoring goals and playing a goal-scoring role.
  2. Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche have a ton of suitable prospects, Semyon Varlamov and fifth defenseman. Yes, Varlamov, he is a UFA in the off-season, the Avalanche trade Varlamov, get Simmonds and go after Bobrovsky, crazy but a possibility. Either way Simmonds would be a suitable partner for Philadelphia, the Avalanche can give up Samuel Girard or Alexander Kerfoot and Patrick Nemeth, plus a pick for Simmonds and something else.
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Word on the street is Sergei Bobrovsky wants to be traded… well the Flyers and Bob can reunite and swap Simmonds for Bob. The only concern is the Flyers will need to give more like a second and Bobrovsky for Simmonds, maybe more. Also Bob is going to cost 7.5 million same as Simmonds so what would be the point? Unless the Flyers are willingly to spend money on a goalie, which they should.
  4. Carolina Hurricanes: If the Hurricanes are interested in trading Faulk, Hamilton or Frolik this could be fit. Again the issue is the Hurricanes need to resign a few players and Sebastian Aho therefore Simmonds will be costly for them. This could be a possibility and Simmonds would actually fit well in Carolina basically a better Justin Williams.
  5. Calgary Flames: A small possibility, the Flames have a ton of defenseman on their backend and Mike Smith and David Rittich to trade if they wanted to shed a goalie it would probably be Mike Smith. Either way the Flames can move Travis Hamonic and Michael Frolik for Simmonds. Although the Flames are hot right now and I would not mess with their roster, the Flames are a suitor.
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins: When are they not in the running? They contacted Carolina about their two defenseman on the block and Ferland. Therefore why not entertain this conversation with Philly and see the offer sheet for Simmonds. He would basically another Patric Hornqvist just younger. Also the Penguins can move Casey DeSmith, Derek Brassard and Jamie Oleksiak. Simmonds would be a great fit in Pittsburgh honestly…

My Top Buyers and Sellers For The NHL Trade Deadline

The NHL Trade Deadline is about seven weeks away, therefore usually around this time, 40+ games, teams making pushes for the playoffs and other teams doing the opposite. A lot of trade talk is about to approach so let’s get you ready for what can be a pretty exciting 2019 NHL trade deadline.

Top Buyers: 

Pittsburgh Penguins: It is no surprise here that the Penguins are again buyers. They continue to be a top-10 team in the NHL that have the tools to be a Stanley Cup team therefore around this time they usually always are involved in trade talks. There most recent trade talk has been with the Carolina Hurricanes for either Michael Ferland or defenseman Justin Faulk or Dougie Hamilton, not all three or two probably just one of the three. Either the Penguins could use another top-six winger but more importantly can certainly use a top-four or even number five defenseman. The Penguins by no surprise can score goals but they struggle to defend consistently, with a defense of Kris Letang (injury issues) Jack Johnson, Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maata they need to add another tool back there.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Much like the Penguins the Leafs are going to be buyers come the deadline, they really do not need any more forward depth due to the fact William Nylander is a third liner almost. The Leafs would have no reason for a forward. The thing the Leafs could use is a top-four defenseman, Ron Hainsey may not cut it much longer for Toronto, Morgan Reilly is proving number one capability and Jake Gardiner is a solid number four but they still another d-man, someone who is a good two-way defenseman. A Dougie Hamilton or Justin Faulk would be perfect but as of now there has not been much from Toronto. The Leafs could also use a potential back-up/fringe starter to help Frederick Anderson before the playoffs come around. Someone who can play at least half the games remaining in the year to get Anderson 100% healthy for the playoffs.

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers need to make a move for a forward if they want to be a playoff team their current offensive roster is not going to cut it for the playoffs or a playoff run. They need one top-six forward and a borderline top-six/bottom-nine forward soon. The Oilers have tried line scheme after line scheme this season and not much is working consistently. They will probably look to the Rangers for Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, Vladislav Namestikov or the Senators for a few of their bottom-six forwards, the Blues have a slew of forwards, the Hurricanes Michael Ferland. Either way they need to be inquiring about someone.

Colorado Avalanche: With their 11 million in projected cap space the Avalanche should be shopping for a top-six, bottom six forward. They have the two best players in the NHL right now but someone else needs to supplement those two when the playoff run comes around and playoff time comes. The Avalanche have a lot of young potential but they will need some more proven success. Out there is as mentioned above, the Avalanche will be doing some necessary shopping over the next two weeks or so.

Top Sellers:

New York Rangers: Not a shock to many, the Rangers are definitely over performing considering the roster they have but they are still not a great team. Plus it does them no good to win games right now or not consider being big sellers. They have a few players to shed as well but with Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello current UFA’s in 2019-2020 they will more than likely be trading those two. They have 2 million in cap space and with those two gone it will free up about 9.6 million making them a true contender for Artem Panarin this offseason.

Los Angeles Kings: They have no reason to buy and they do have a few names that can be useful elsewhere. I.e. Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, and some bottom six forwards. Not a great year for L.A. but they have around $89,000 in cap space right now with three free agents in 2019 summer and Brown/Carter on unfavorable contracts.

Carolina Hurricanes: I did not expect the Hurricanes to be sellers but it seems their GM is in favor to shed Faulk, Hamilton and Ferland. Therefore making sellers for sure, they have 16 million in cap space and getting rid of two of those three would leave them with a nice dollar amount to sit on in the offseason. Plus they need to free up cap for Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordin Martinook, and possibly Justin Williams. The Hurricanes have a ton of UFA/RFA to consider in the offseason and they cannot afford Faulk, Hamilton and Aho therefore we can see these guys selling heavy come the deadline.

St. Louis Blues: I almost want to say why not sell for this team. You have Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, David Perron, Patrick Maroon, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Bozak, etc. At least two of these guys or even one can go and will provide a decent return. The Blues have rumored to be in talks to shed Vladimir Tarasenko, which I mean sounds ridiculous but realistically this team is not going to win anytime soon, get a good return on the guy sooner than later.

 

A Look At The New York Rangers Upcoming Road Trip

The New York Rangers have touched down in Denver, Colorado to begin their three-game road trip. The Rangers are coming into this road trip having dropped three of their last ten in regulation but another four in overtime/shootout. The Rangers have won just three games in their last ten games and to make matters worse they are not a favorable road team. Posting a 6-10-2 record on the road, and of their last ten games four have come on the road, in which they have lost two and won two (Nashville, St. Louis). Despite a big win in Nashville the other week, the Rangers have not done a great job in terms of scoring. In their last ten they have averaged, 2.3 goals per game, while allowing 3.3 goals per game. Sure, Penguins scoring seven Wednesday night does not help the case but even so they still have allowed 2.89 goals per game.

The Rangers head to Colorado Friday night, a team that is struggling greatly, on a six-game skid, 2-5-3 in their last ten and not playing the Colorado hockey we saw earlier in the year. They then travel to Arizona Sunday for an afternoon game vs a team that is subpar at home (7-12-1 at the moment) and cap the trip with one of the better home teams and best team of the three in this trip, Vegas Tuesday night. Vegas has lost three games at home this season (at the moment 13-3-3) and is starting to become the team we saw go on a immaculate run last season.

The big takeaway for this Rangers team and this road trip is be better than last road trip which they lost 2 of 3 and two of those games lost were to the leagues worst. Point two, how this young team responds to a rather difficult task at hand. This is not bizarre to see a team travel for three-straight away games but they get rest and a day in between each game yet with this young line up we will see how they fair in the thick of the schedule.

I would honestly expect the Rangers to take 2 of 3 this trip, the Avalanche struggling a win Friday is possible, a win in Arizona is more than possible and a loss to Vegas is likely. But at the same time the Rangers could lose all three, get a struggling Colorado team that needs a win badly, an Arizona team that is no cake-walk and the best home team in the NHL in Vegas. It will be interesting, that is why as writers we just sit here, drink a beer, relax and let the players do the playing.

Players to watch…

Kevin Hayes, Hayes is coming off a 8-point streak that was snapped vs St. Louis December 31st but this season Hayes has been one of the Rangers overall best players. He has 10 goals, 23 assists in 39 games and has honestly been the most noticeable and all around best player for the Rangers this season.

Neal Pionk-Marc Staal combination, the Rangers number one d-pairing has been to the test this season and it has been very surprising to see Staal’s game elevated this season and Pionk rise to the occasion. Pionk has 5 goals and 14 assists on the season with a -2 plus/minus rating and 12 power play points While Staal has 3 goals and 7 assists (already surpassed his total of 8 pts from last year) with a +1 plus/minus and zero power play points.

Chris Kreider, the 20 goal scorer has been involved in every Rangers scoring play it seems this year. Kreider has finally started to use his speed and quick shot to his advantage this year and keeping his game a little simpler than he has in years past. It will be interesting to see how Kreider comes out this trip.

Dan Quinn, the Rangers new head coach and former college coach has taken this team above expectations thus far, posting a 17-15-7 (41 points) record, eight points behind the last wild card spot and not dead last in the division or conference. He has head-scratching moments when he constantly shifts lines, dresses Cody McLeod more often than not, plays Filip Chytil on the fourth line, etc. But overall he has done a good job but this road trip will be a nice test for the young head coach and we’ll see how he can rally the troops to play on the road for three-straight.

Rangers upcoming schedule after road trip before All-Star break: 

New York Islanders @ MSG

New York Islanders @ Coliseum

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Nation Wide Arena

Carolina Hurricanes @ MSG

Chicago Blackhawks @ MSG

Boston Bruins @ TD Garden

 

 

How Mikko Rantanen leads Colorado (and himself) to the top of the NHL

How could a very young guy unexpectedly lead mediocre team to the top and make himself the best point producer in the league?

It was almost three years ago, when Finland became junior world champions. That Finnish team was highlighted mainly by Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi or Sebastian Aho. Well, all those guys are still great, but there is one other guy, who currently leads the NHL in points and that´s Mikko Rantanen. Not many experts were focused on Rantanen that time, but he was the captain and main leader of golden team of Finland.

The trio Rantanen formed with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog is the best in the franchise history after relocation from Québec. Rantanen was born in just a small town in Finland, which has approximately 5000 habitants. His first year in the NHL was that year when Avalanche ended dead-last in the competition with only 48 points, but it was a great learning experience for the young Fin.

Last year there was a lot of buzz around Matt Duchene’s trade and his trade after all made a very positive impact on the team. MacKinnon-Rantanen-Landeskog line has been created and the rest is history. Avalanche finished last season with 95 points and shockingly making the play-offs. It was one heck of a turn-around for Rantanen and his Avs.

Mikko Rantanen picked up 84 points in the process. This season he already has 46 in just 26 games. The Finnish forward is on pace for a year we may remember for an eternity. Second in the league in points is his teammate MacKinnon with 41 points. It was last year when MacKinnon ended up with 97 points and was strong candidate for the MVP award.

This time around, Rantenen has come out stronger than MacKinnon. MacKinnon is one of the most quickest guys in the NHL, Landeskog is the captain and a great two-way player and he is the catalyst between them, who is a playmaker, said Rantanen what he thinks about chemistry built between three stars.

Besides Rantanen’s great individual play, he leads Colorado to the very top. Really a 48-point team traded such a star like Matt Duchene and then they can reach 48 points by Christmas nowadays? Give a huge credit to Mikko Rantanen. Avalanche´s GM Joe Sakic will have plenty of work to do next summer, when Rantanen becomes a restricted free agent. But there should be no doubt about his extension, he is a generational talent and a franchise leader.

Take note NHL! Buffalo and Colorado climb to the top from the bottom in 19 month

The Buffalo Sabres are at the top of the league. And it is not a joke. Colorado Avalanche went from the worst team in hockey to one of the best in just few months. We take a look at the standings and looking back just to the April of 2017… It is quite unbelievable.

When the regular season 2016/17 ended in the April of 2017, the Avalanche were dead-last in the standings, posting only 48 points, being -112 in the process. The Sabres were not much better, they finished fifth from the bottom with 78 points. In just 19 months circumstances have changed drastically. Buffalo is leading NHL and Colorado has 30 points to sit sixth overall in the standings.

Buffalo has missed every play-off opportunity since 2010, the Avs had miserable year in 2016/17 being 21 points short of 29th place overall. Now Colorado is a play-off team from last season and it seems like they are not stopping anytime soon. The Sabres have won 9 straight games in attempt to battle their franchise records. A team not being a play-off team for eight years is leading the league and it is beyond Thanksgiving.

From bottom-pit to the very top in a flash

It is always so nice to see new teams with fresh young players dominating the game. But these stories are nearly jaw-dropping. You may be very honest with yourself and admit, that whenever your team plays the Sabres or the Avs, you say ´Oh, come on! We have to win, it´s just Buffalo!´.

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But it has been quite opposite so far this season. Sabres are firing on all cylinders, leading the standings, winning NINE games in a row, scoring ton of goals… They are used to play exciting style of games, they scored 76 goals and gave up 66, it is not like Buffalo dominates hockey, but they never give up and always seem to find a way. Like yesterday in Detroit, Sabres won that one in 7th round in the shootout.

Colorado is being led by its´ terrific top line. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have combined for 99 points during current campaign. Rantanen is leading the league race in points with 38 points, just three points ahead of… Nathan MacKinnon. Gabriel Landeskog leads the league field in plus-minus with +16, his linemate Rantanen is +14.

mikko-rantanen-nathan-mackinnon-gabriel-landeskog

Everything has been like in one sweet dream for Colorado and Buffalo so far this season. Will it continue? Will they always find a way? How will they respond to tough challenges like injuries or bad luck? One thing is for sure – they are young and here to be self-confident and courageous enough to overcome any kind of trouble.

NHL Power Rankings: From 20th on up…

20. Dallas Stars: 38-36-8

The Division is too competitive right now, sure the Stars have a lot of good options on their front end, they have two superstars in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn but lack offensive depth Martin Hanzal has been a bust and Jason Spezza is on the way out. Past the Stars top 3 forwards who else is chipping in? Jason Klingberg is a now solidified number one d option, losing Dan Hamihus is a blow and they have not gained much offensive depth this offseason and their defense is very young. Ben Bishop is a solid goaltender but seems to not be himself since his departure in Tampa Bay. Missing the playoffs is reasonable for Dallas.

Key acquisitions: Valeri Nichuskin, Blake Comeau, Marc Methot, Miro Heiskanen

19. Calgary Flames: 40-33-8

Calgary Flames 18-19 previewThe Flames definitely improved in the offseason and this may come back to bite me but taking a look at the Pacific division it is going to be a dog fight once again the Golden Knights, Sharks and Ducks did not get worse, the Kings got better and the Flames are the team battling for that final wild card spot at the moment. The Flames have James Neal to add some insurance in the goal scoring department, with already Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, but after Matthew Tkachuk and the second line what are the Flames going to do? Same on the back end, losing your top scoring defenseman is tough luckily adding Noah Hanafin is a plus but Hanafin and Hamilton are at different points in their career where Hamilton may have the upper hand right now. Flames have to hope Travis Hamonic finds his way this season and Mike Smith stays healthy and remains a solid number one option. For me I don’t see the Flames ending anywhere that much better than last year.

Key acquisitions: James Neal, Noah Hanafin, Elias Lindholm, Troy Bouwer

18. Colorado Avalanche: 45-30-7

The Av’s finished way above and beyond than what anyone thought they were going to, but with St. Louis has done this offseason there is a slight chance the Avalanche finish above St. Louis this season. The Avalanche and Flames will be the two battling for that final wild card spot in the West, or even missing it. The Avalanche have a superstar in Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Ratanen coming off an unbelievable year with a ton of young talent surrounding these two with Tyson Jost, Alex Kerfoot, Sven Andrighetto and some other solid veterans in Matt Calvert, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Nieto. With a solid back end in Tyson Barrie and Erik Johsnon with some great tools in Ian Cole, Nikita Zadorov and Samuel Girad this won’t be the end of the Avalanches playoff years but like I said St. Louis has improved drastically they won’t miss the playoffs this season.

Key acquisitions: Matt Calvert, Ian Cole, Phillip Grubauer

17. New Jersey Devils: 39-33-10

New Jersey Devils 18-19 previewThe Devils had a fantastic and unimaginable run last season sparked by Taylor Hall and some small additions in some young forwards but to do it again will be very difficult for the Devils. With an aging goalie in Corey Schneider, Keith Kinkaid not being a viable number one option and losing John Moore on the back end the Devils have a lot of holes in their line up. Without the same year by Taylor Hall, the Devils will be missing the playoffs in my opinion. The Devils do not have much forward depth nor do they have a study blue line. The Devils could possibly make a run at the wild card with the Islanders, Rangers and Hurricanes not being great but I think Florida bumps them for that final wild card spot.

Key acquisitions:

16. Florida Panthers: 45-30-7

The Panthers have now Mike Hoffman a 30-goal scorer, on top of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evegnii Dadanov, Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad with a solid number four defenseman and the only question mark remains in the crease for the Panthers sure, Roberto Luongo is a solid goaltender but at this age what can he do more? Jonathan Reimer going to be able to withstand the pressure and be a solid 1-2 option for the Panthers. The two will split time for most of the year but the Panthers had a hot run at the end of the year last season and with the addition of Mike Hoffman it will give a ton of fire power to this already solid Panthers defense. If the Panthers back end and Luongo can stay healthy they will make a playoff run, a short lived one but a run at least.