Tag: NHL Draft 2019

Rangers Drop All Four Road Games…Great For Rebuild

The New York Rangers embarked on their four-game road rip starting Monday. They kicked off the four-game series in Alberta with the Edmonton Oilers. After Edmonton the Rangers traveled to Vancouver, Calgary and finished it off Saturday night with the Minnesota Wild.

Rangers last four-games

The Oilers, were the closest and most evenly matched opponent for the Rangers in the four-game series. A team very similar in talent compared to the Rangers and close in the league standings. The Rangers ended losing the first game of the four game road series 3-2 in overtime vs Edmonton. Alexander Georgiev stopped 30-33 shots, Brendan Lemieux scored and showed Rangers fans why they are going to love him after fighting Jujhar Khaira. Also Brett Howden got the monkey off his back scoring his first goal in 35 games.

The Rangers traveled to Vancouver to face an extremely young but talented Canucks team. A game in which the Rangers held off the Canucks in the first period, but managed to allow three 2nd period goals. That was the deal breaker in the Rangers 4-1 loss Wednesday night. In hindsight, Pavel Buchnevich found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the year and his 5th goal in eight games.

After a days rest it was off to Calgary for New York. The Rangers took on the top team in the Western Conference and one of the best/most consistent NHL teams this season the Flames. After leaving the first tied 1-1 off a Neal Pionk rocket from Ryan Strome. The Rangers allowed two second period goals as that would be the dagger in the game. Resulting in a 5-1 lose.

The Rangers went back to back, Friday and Saturday night. Traveling from Calgary to Minnesota to play a game within a 24-hour notice was not easy and it clearly showed Saturday for New York. The Rangers were out shot heavily 46-28 in the game and left Henrik Lundqvist out to dry. The Wild took advantage of a tired Rangers team as they controlled the pace of the game and used their speed to get on the Rangers early. The Wild scored two 1st period goals from Ryan Donato and two 3rd period goals from Jared Spurgeon and J.T. Brown for a 5-2 Wild win. On the bright side Buchnevich scored his 17th of the season for his sixth goal in 10 games.

Why is it good for the rebuild?

Well the Rangers are allowing these young guys like Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Brett Howden, Neal Pionk to play a little more freely, see how important it is to play consistent every night and what late season, playoff push hockey looks like. Although the Rangers have lost 10 of their last 11 games it really is not as big as some of us may be making it. The Rangers were playing .500 hockey all season and around the 22nd mark in the NHL, well they have dropped three spots and are getting closer to the bottom of the league. AND a better 2019 draft pick. The Rangers are in no shape to win.

The consistent losing is never easy to handle but the games have been close besides for 10-12 minutes of every game where the opposing team gets an advantage. The Rangers are competing, their young players are able to play more loosely, make mistakes and learn from them. Plus we are 10-games away from the end of the 2018-19 season, there is no need to win. Compete, yes but Rangers fans would rather a top-5 draft pick than number 12, 13 draft pick. There is no benefit in winning right now. Plenty of years to come when the Rangers will need to push for the playoffs but right now Rangers fans know that is not advantageous for the big picture.

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Ottawa Senators And Their Off-Season Plans

Over the next month or so I will be covering (or attempting) to cover every NHL team and their off-season plan. Day by day as the season continues on there will be a new team out of playoffs.

The Ottawa Senators are officially out of the place, we all knew they were toast about 3 months ago but they are now officially declared out. Therefore it is back to the drawing board once again for the Senators.

Before we get into the mess in Ottawa, we have to look at the positives and negatives they do have though.

Negatives: A LOT

The Ottawa Senators currently have an interim head coach. With the firing of Guy Boucher, they are the 7th club to fire a head coach this season. Therefore the Senators laundry list of issues carry on. Who do they go after, or better yet who would want to come to Ottawa? The NHL is infamous for recycling coaches so we can expect to see a familiar name in the position perhaps.

A huge thorn in Ottawa’s side is that they do not own their first round pick this season, in which their first round pick is looking to be the first overall pick. Who may be Jack Hughes a projected top-3 forward in the making. Ether way if it is not first overall it will be a top-3 by the way things are looking and that will go to Colorado.

Bobby Ryan’s contract at 7.25 million a year for another three-years after this one definitely hurts. Ryan may be a good veteran for the team but clearly the direction the Senators are moving they seem to not care about experience in the locker room. A waste of 21+ million is never ideal in a rebuild situation.

The Senators may be losing Cody Ceci and as well know they have already lost Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene. Their three best players and the brightest spots on their roster. They have essentially an AHL team with 4-5 professionals and there roster does not look appealing to free-agents, rookies or fans for that matter.

Craig Anderson, sure the defense in front of him has not been great for the last two seasons but he is only getting older and worse it seems. And the Senators do not have anyone besides Andres Nilsson to really come in the goalie slot. Aside from the 20-year-old Filip Gustavsson, who is having a medicore year at best in the AHL and Marcus Hogberg, the Senators will need to trade for a goalie.

Senators management were in talks to receive a new facility in Ottawa downtown, that got put on hold and is now looks to be a slim chance they do receive one. The rink Ottawa plays at is 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa and 56 minutes by train. With the product they are putting on the ice, who would want to make that drive?

Positives: Young Defenseman & 2020 Draft

Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, Colin White, Brady Tkachuk, Chris Tierney, Alex Formenton, Logan Brown, Jonathan Davidsson, Maxime Lajoie, Rudolf Balcers. These are players on the Senators current roster or AHL roster that are realistically the only bright spot for the team at the moment and moving forward. Chabot + Brannstrom on the back end is exciting. Lajoie develops into a potential top-four defenseman you have a legitimate d-core now. Tkachuk is already showing he can be and will be a top-three forward in the NHL. Colin White is seeing regular minutes and when healthy and playing consistently has been a huge positive for this team.

Ottawa supposedly has the 13th ranked farm system in NHL (Aug 2018) rated by theathletic.com. That was rated in August 2018 and they received Brannstrom and other prospects so the Senators could be a potential top-10 farm system in the NHL which is a plus.

Aside from seven draft picks in 2019 the Senators do have a truck load in the 2020 draft as they currently have 12 picks. Seven of those 12 picks come in the first three rounds. Two in the 1st, three in the 2nd and two in the third.

Off-season plan: New coach, Free-Agents, New facility

Based on how the lottery works and where the Senators sit they could possibly not even have a first round pick this draft. The Senators do indeed get either the 1, 2, 3 overall pick the 1st round pick they got from Columbus will be a 2020 first round pick. Therefore, what is the Senators off-season plans?

  1. Sign Colin White. Lock him up to a good contract and keep him in Ottawa. Sign Anthony Duclair too, you have nothing to lose. He is young, and will cost nothing but will provide a good outlet for younger players too.
  2. Trade Cody Ceci, he is a 25-year-old defenseman who has registered 20+ points three times in his career. He has value and his better off on the block they coming back on 5 million dollar deal.
  3. Go after low-risk free agents. Players like Gustav Nyquist, Cam Talbot, Andre Burakovsky, Michael Del Zotto, William Karlsson, Derek Brassard. Guys who you can bring for 2-3 years to help mentor and teach these young kids until they are ready for the NHL.
  4. Start working on a new a facility for the 2020 season. The Senators will have 12 ( thirteen potentially) draft picks and 7 (eight potentially) in the first three rounds. Make sure you have something for those draft picks and next crop of talent coming into the organization to look forward too.
  5. Get a young coach, take your time hiring a coach and find a coach like the New York Rangers did with David Quinn. Get a coach who is great with young players, possibly another top NCAA coach who can come in be a new face for the young players on your team.

Jake Muzzin Is A Piece Of The Puzzle In Toronto But Not The Whole Puzzle

The trade we have all been waiting for occurred Monday night around 6:00 PM (EST). Jake Muzzin was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2019 1st round pick, Sean Durzi and Carl Gundstrom. The Leafs have been fishing for another top four defenseman for nearly two years. With this addition of Muzzin it allows the Leafs to play Morgan Reilly-Jake Muzzin, Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev with a third pair of Travis Dermott-Ron Hainsey. Which makes this Leafs team a deeper team on the back end.

More so looking at the trade, the headline makes it seem like Muzzin is not a good addition, by no means should it come off like that. Anytime you add a Stanley Cup winner, a veteran defenseman and someone to pair with Reilly on a consistent basis is always a plus.

Muzzin is a piece to the puzzle not the whole puzzle, hear me out…

What I mean by Muzzin is not the answer. The Leafs are shaping up to play the Canadiens or Bruins. Now if the Bruins end up being the #3 seed and the Leafs stay at #2 it will be the Leafs worst nightmare, in the past decade it seems the Bruins have had the Leafs number, therefore reason one Muzzin is not the answer is because, well will he propel the Leafs over the Bruins? Probably not, so he does not make a huge difference in that regard.

Reason number two Muzzin may not be the complete answer. My concerns about Frederick Anderson still loom, and I am talking playoff Anderson. In years past and hinting on last year Anderson posted a 3.76 goals against (GAA) in 7 games, .896 save percentage and allowed 23 goals on 198 shots. The previous year Anderson posted a 2.68 goals against in six games, the second year he was in Anaheim he posted a 2.34 GAA in 16 games started after a 3.10 GAA in 7 games started the year before. My point is what Anderson will show up in the playoffs this time around? Yes, getting Muzzin does help on the back end but the goalie still needs to stop the puck.

Concern number three with the Leafs is their very young roster of players coming to play in the playoffs, they have Nazem Kadri, John Tavares, Patrick Marleau and Ron Hainsey with playoff experience but Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander have little playoff experience and I know some people say that means nothing but playoffs is a different game. Getting a team like the Bruins, a team that is young but has so many very well seasoned players and a different team when it comes to the playoffs is no easy feat for the Leafs. If the Leafs get the Canadiens than I would feel more confident in their chances of winning.

Can Muzzin be what Shattenkirk was to Washington two years ago?

I believe Jake Muzzin adds a great dimension to the Leafs defense, it allows Morgan Reilly to play more of an offensive game, it allows Jake Gardiner to play more of an offensive game. Therefore it gives these two offensive minded d-men to go out and play their game. It gives Travis Dermott the experience of playing with a veteran like Ron Hainsey. But the Leafs offense still needs to produce. If the Leafs cannot find a way for William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nazem Kadri to be CONSISTENT than adding Muzzin does not make them automatic cup contenders. The Leafs need to find a way for these young forwards to get into a groove from now throughout the playoffs. If the Leafs cannot get their top-six to be a consistent top-six then they will not be automatic cup winners. Therefore that is why I don’t think Muzzin solves the problem, he is a piece of the puzzle. Look at what happened in Washington two years ago when they added Kevin Shattenkirk to the mix the Capitals needed a offensive-defenseman and they added that but still got bounced early in the playoffs, one player does not make or break a team, they help but the other 17 guys in the line up need to show up too.

NHL 2019 Draft Prospects Watch

As reported by Sports Net the 2019 NHL draft prospects are being scouted heavily as the year goes on. This years draft again seems to be a heavy forward draft in the first round. The top-10 are very interchangeable like many drafts before this. Example was last years draft when the Montreal Canadiens took Jesperi Kotkaniemi before many other highly sought out prospects the draft was shocked but it seems like the first twenty or so picks can be anywhere from 1-20, meaning the 20th ranked guy can be a potential one and one can be a potential twenty. 

Either way looking at the top-10 for this 2019 upcoming draft seem to look like…

  1. Jack Hughes: The brother of Vancouver’s 2018 draft pick Quinn Hughes. Jack though play defense compared to his defenseman brother. At 17-years-old Hughes is already being seen as the sure number one the draft. He really emerged on the scene when he scored 159 points, 101 assists and 58 goals with the Toronto Marlboro Midget AAA, before heading over to the U.S. Developmental program which has been the hot bed for developmental and the home for many former USA draft picks. Hughes played 27 games with the USNTDP Juniors team scoring 54 points in that span, he recently played in the World Juniors U18 were he scored 7 goals and 12 points in 7 games. Hughes has 13 points in 8 games for the USNTDP this season. Seemingly like a favorite for the #1 pick this year. 
  2. Vasili Podkolzin: Has been ranked within the 4-7 range by many other hockey scouts. Due to the talent in the draft he can easily be a #2 draft pick. Vasili emerged during the international play of the World Juniors U18 where he scored 15 points in 8 games. At every major international tournament Vasili has been an impactful player. Playing for the SKA St. Petersburg team will be a solid developmental time for the 17-year-old forward, the only concern is in years we have seen the many Russian superstars get drafted and not come into the league for a years due to the KHL. 
  3. Kirby Dach: There was definitely some concern on this kids ability to stay consistent and score. He has the whole package of a great forward, great hockey IQ, great skating ability, plays both sides well and can score. While he only scored 7 goals for the Saskatoon Blades in 2017-18 he is off to a 13 goal performance through 25 games with 39 points thus far. Dach emerged on the scene in Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Right now his NHL potential is unsure, eh could be a top six forward if consistent but will fall in the top-five range for sure in the 2019 draft.
  4. Dylan Cozens: This kid has fallen in the top four range and even the #2 ranked prospect by McKeen’s hockey. Cozens has spent his time in the WHL for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Before coming to the WHL he spent one year with the Yale Hockey Academy Prep where he scored 27 goals and 57 point sin 30 games. This year already Cozens has 31 point sin 24 games in the WHL right now, he has good size for the forward position at 6’3 he does not need to worry about being questioned on his size. He can sure bury the puck, his potential falls in the top-six forward role depending on the team.
  5. Kaapo Kakko: Another Finland prospect, Kakko has been another big thing developing in Finland. He is playing in the Liiga right now where he is off to a hot start, he has been ranked in the number two to three range. Has a desire for the puck, plays in the offensive end extremely well, protects the puck well, skates well and is not afraid to get physical. Kakko has 13 points in 20 games right now. For a younger forward in the Liiga he uses his hockey IQ and smarts to be ahead of the play, playing at the international level this upcoming year for the Finland U20 teamwill be the final test to Kakko’s NHL potential.