NHL Buffalo Sabres

NHL Power Rankings: Teams projections from 25th on up…

25. Chicago Blackhawks: 33 wins, 73 points

NHL Chicago BlackhawksAfter missing the playoffs for the first time in what has felt like forever the Blackhawks really opened the eyes of NHL fans not in a good way though. Could the end of era be coming to an end? With Duncan Keith aging, Jonathan Toews not having that same jump to his game and Patrick Kane not having his counter part Artem Panarin, what is going on in Chicago? The Blackhawks struggled immensely on the backend, especially with Corey Crawford sidelined for a majority of the season, there was not much traction in Chicago. Brandon Saad is looking to be a terrible trade, Patrick Sharp is on his way out and it just seems the Blackhawks are too thin at the defensive position and lacking solid forward depth. They will be relying on Saad and Toews to climb out of their slumps, Alex Debrincat and Nick Schmaltz to be the two gunslingers along with the Patty Kane and rookie Dylan Sikura will get his shot at the professional level. I think the Blackhawks again finish outside the playoff race, a few games under .500 and with some major changes coming.

Key transactions: Brandon Manning, Chris Kunitz…

24. Carolina Hurricanes: 33 wins, 75 points

If anything the Hurricanes took a big step back this offseason, they took two step forwards to take a big step back. While the acquisition of Dougie Hamilton is great, the departure of Jeff Skinner hurts them a ton. They now have Martin Necas as their number two center, two rookies along side Sebastian Aho and not a ton of bottom six depth. They did add Calvin De Haan but he is not a deal break by any means. They will be asking Haydn Fleury and Brett Pesce to play a few more minutes and ultimately their goaltending is still a question mark. If anything the Hurricanes finish worse next season not better. A lot of pressure will sit on the shoulders of rookies Andrei Svechnikov and Valentin Zykov, and now third-year forward Aho. They Hurricanes may have a similar skill set compared to last year but it will be a different outlook for these Carolina players. I would guess a last place or 7th place Metropolitan finish, possibly a game under .500 or five games under .500.

Key transactions: Calvin De Haan, Michael Ferland, Andrei Svechnikov, Petr Mrazek…

23. New York Rangers: 37 wins, 77 points 

NHL New York RangersThe Rangers may not be expecting a better year than last year, and not many will be surprised by another missed playoff chance for the Rangers. But the Rangers are in a little bit of rebuild, they had some terrible offensive production last season and their blueline was very thin, as they had 3 rookies or defenseman with 50 games fewer NHL experience playing a lot of minutes. The Rangers did not add anything this offseason but with this will come more time for Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil the Rangers first round selections in 2017 to see more ice time. We will see a lot of young prospects making their appearances this season as the Rangers have a magnitude of youth waiting for their shot. The upside to the Rangers poor placing is a solid first round pick again and a new coach. As the Rangers will be running with Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Lias Andersson, Mats Zuccarello and Vladislav Namestikov as their top six, there could be bright spots but in the end this top six does not rank up too well against other teams top six’s. I’d say a 6th place Metropolitan division finish is realistic for the Rangers.

Key transactions: K’Andre Miller, Vitali Kravstov, Nils Lundkvist

22. Edmonton Oilers: 37 wins, 79 points 

The Oilers have come out and said that they are going to be better than last year but what has shown that to be true thus far? They added, Tobias Rieder, besides that their team is the same exact team as last year. Is Ryan Strome magically going to come out of his shell? Is Milan Lucic going to come back to his old form? Is Connor McDavid going to put up 120 points to make this a playoff team. Is their defense going to stay healthy and actually be a productive, reliable back end? Is Cam Talbot ready for another 60 plus starts, fatiguing the goalie more than he already is? A lot of what if’s and question marks in Edmonton. Too many to consider them to be a playoff team or even better than last year, they got the hot hand in 2016-17 and ran with it, came back down to earth and are right where they belong. Until they add some more forward depth, and someone besides Strome and Ty Rattie to play alongside Connor McDavid it will be a long year for Edmonton. Another missed playoff year and basement finish in the Pacific division for Edmonton. Sorry Edmonton but McDavid is not literally McJesus and rising this team to the top all on his own.

Key transactions:

21. Buffalo Sabres: 39 wins, 83 points

Carter Hutton Buffalo SabresThe Sabres are moving up a lot here, yes hear me out though. Very short and simple. Jack Eichel has years under his belt now, Rasmus Dahlin is projected to be an Erik Karlsson esq defenseman, Rasmus Ristolanen is already a top-30 defenseman, they added a 30-goal scorer in Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart is coming off a year, Skinner-Eichel-Reinhart are going to be a thing to watch, a very underrated line one. Casey Mittlestadt is making his transition into the NHL, after a strong World Juniors showing this kid looks ready. They added a ton of depth and veteran leadership in Patrik Berglund, and Matt Hunwick. Vladimir Sobotka and Conor Sheary will be solid bottom six players as well they have another top projected prospect in Tage Thompson. Carter Hutton has a chance to steal the show and prove his #1 goaltending worth, he showed it in St. Louis for flashes he can do it but consistency will be key. If Hutton pans out and the Sabres keep a healthy blue line, they should be a much better team. I’d say a 5th place Atlantic division finish is my guess.

Key transactions: Conor Sheary, Matt Hunwich, Patrik Berglund, Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, Carter Hutton, Vladimir Sobotka, Jeff Skinner


New York Islanders 2018-19

NHL Power Rankings: From 31 on up…

As the season comes around and we get started on predicting how teams will finish at the end of this season. Around this time is always a perfect time to go into some power rankings and team preview talk. For starters we will go over 5 teams each day until every team is covered. Therefore we will be starting with the 31st ranked team to the 26th.

31. Ottawa Senators: 

NHL Ottawa Senators

This team is a mess, they have very little going for them this season. Besides Brady Tkachuk who is still unknown if he is going to play major juniors or crack the roster, the Senators summer has been a disaster. Between the Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson tirade, Hoffman getting shipped out of Ottawa, Mark Stone contract issues, Cody Ceci contract issues, Craig Anderson saying he basically does not care for drama, essentially saying the team is all drama. And the worst of it all the future of Karlsson being clear as day that he does not want to remain a Senator. I would be surprised if the Senators finish anywhere higher than 29th place, I am going with 31st for Ottawa because based off their forward and offensive depth along with an aging goaltender. You cannot win games with the roster Ottawa has.

Their key acquisitions: Signed Paul Carey and acquired Mikkel Boedeker in trade.

30. Montreal Canadiens: 

Much like the Senators the Canadiens have nothing going for them. Shea Weber is out for 4-6 weeks, Max Pacioretty situation only seems to be getting worse. They lack a ton of depth on the wings and their draft pick this year raises some concern. Without Weber, this teams number one d-man is Jeff Petry. On top of that, Carey Price has been battling injuries for forever now, whatever it is, it seems the superstar goaltender just can’t fight it. Without Price 100 percent, Weber out for an extended period of time and Pacioretty seemingly on the way out, what does this team have going for them? Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi? They traded away Alex Galchenyuk this offseason for Domi so it is not like they upgraded by any means. They have very little offensive weapons and an aging blue line. This team is destined for an even worse finish than last year.

Key acquisitions: Xavier Ouellet signed, signed back Tomas Plekanec, signed Joel Armia.

29. Vancouver Canucks: 

NHL Vancouver CanucksThey are a young team, there is nothing to be worried about right now they have some of the best prospects in the league and plenty of talent on the roster right now. Due to the division they are in, their depth across the board and age level/experience the Canucks are just not there yet. They have a lot to look forward to in Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Quinton Hughes, Jonathan Dahlen and if their number one goalie prospect Thatcher Demko pans out they should be fine. The Canucks also have Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund and Sam Gagner. They have a lot of depth honestly it’s that their scorers and top guys are young, they have no goaltending and their defense is very weak.

Key acquisitions: Jay Beagle, Tim Schaller, Antoine Roussel.

28. Detroit Red Wings: 

The Red Wings are much like the Canucks they have a lot of young talent but, their defense is weak and their goaltending is too inconsistent. They have a ton of prospects ready to emerge in the league, with already some established young forwards in Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin, Matrin Frk, with Filip Zadina and Evgeny Svechnikov on the up the Red Wings just need to figure out their goaltending and defense. Niklas Kronwall has expressed this is his last year, they lost a defenseman to free agency this offseason and also Henrik Zetterberg will be out for this entire season and possibly forever it seems like. The Red Wings are 3-4 years away from being a solid team again.

Key acquisitions: Tomas Vanek signed, Jonathan Brenier signed, Chris Terry signed.

27. Arizona Coyotes: 

NHLImproving, but not there just yet, the Coyotes finished 29th last season, not the usual 30, 31st, which is good! They made a serious push at the end of the season last year and could possibly carry that momentum into this year. The Coyotes have a very young and inexperienced team on the front end, their back end is more veteran, solid guys who have been around awhile. The Coyotes have a lot to look forward to in Barrett Hayton, Pierre-Oliver Joseph, Lawson Crouse and goalie Adin Hill. As well hoping Dylan Strome can finally crack the roster this year and be on the team for good. With Strome, Clayton Keller, Alex Galchenyuk, Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner, Brad Richardson, Richard Panik, Vinnie Hinostroza the Coyotes have talent on the front end. With Oliver Ekman Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jakub Chychurn, Alex Goligoski they have the depth all around they just need a goaltender and some consistency.

Key acquisitions: Michael Grabner, Alex Galchenyuk, Vinnie Hinostroza.

26. New York Islanders: 

The Islanders are going to be without their captain and superstar for the first time in 9 -years that is going to be difficult to adjust to, we cannot expect this team to look to Matthew Barzal the same way they did in John Tavares. Tavares was the mold to this team and without him the first season will be rough. Plus the Islanders lack a great deal of defensive depth and goaltending consistency. They took a gamble on Robin Lehner but who knows with him. They have talent upfront and in the system but I just think anytime a top player and one of the best players in the league leaves his home the team struggles a bit. Barzal, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Andrew Ladd will have a ton more responsibilities. Luckily the Islanders did get a new coach in Barry Trotz and new General Manager in Lou Lamoriello, whom have signed a ton of veteran depth like Tom Kuhnhackl, Vlatteri Filppula, Matt Martin and Leo Komarov it will help but with little goaltending and Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock holding down the blue the Islanders are in for a different type of season.

Key acquisitions: Leo Komarov, Vlatteri Filppula, Tom Kuhnhackl, Robin Lehner, Matt Martin.

NHL Predicitons 2018-19

NHL predictions: McDavid go for another 100 plus points, Giroux for another 30 goal season, and more!

Connor McDavid 2018-19 predicitions
McDavid bound for his third 100 point season in 3.5 years?

Is Connor McDavid going to go back to back to back 100 plus point seasons? McDavid tallied 100 points in 2016-17, last season he topped the leaderboards with 108 points and now for his fourth year, third full year in the NHL, can McDavid go for 100 plus points? With where McDavid is coming from in Edmonton the situation may not be great but it was not great last season and not much has changed on the Oilers side of things. McDavid scoring 100 plus points is an easy thing to imagine, I mean he went from 31 to 40 goals scoring just 5 power play goals last season and he only had 20 power play points of his 108 points. His power play numbers will only increase as he becomes more selfish, if you notice on the powerplay he always looks to be the set up man, once he chooses to be the scorer we could see upwards of 30 power play points. McDavid was T-62 for power play points last year, yet 1st in points… sheesh. I think it is fair to say McDavid will go for another 100 point season, maybe not upwards of 108 but around 102, or so.

Claude Giroux for another 100 point year? Giroux had a monumental bounce back season and one that propelled the Flyers into the playoffs. Giroux came into the 17-18 season off a 58 point and 14 goal year, anything was going to be better than that year. Giroux sure showed his 16-17 season the way out quickly. 2016-17 was Giroux’s lowest point total in his career since 2009-10(his first full year in the NHL). For Giroux to come back and tally 102 points from 58 points is amazing, a 44 point increase in one year is unheard of. To go from 14 goals to 34 goals, 20 more goals in the same amount of games. Giroux surely had himself a year to remember, but can he do it again? I don’t think Giroux tallies 102 points and 34 goals, perhaps, 89-90 points and 28-30 goals.

Taylor Hall predicitons for 2018-19 seasonTaylor Hall going for 100 points this year? The Hart Trophy winner, had an unforgettable regular season and led the Devils into the playoffs for the first time in five years. Hall brought a breathe of fresh air to this New Jersey team and proved to be the most valuable player in the NHL for sure. Hall played in 76 games last season scoring 39 goals, along with 54 assists for 93 points. A lot of eyes will be on the MVP once again coming into the 18-19 year, and even worse Devils fans will be expecting Hall to do it once again and even better! The Devils have not done much this offseason, therefore it seems like Hall will be with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt as of now, so a lot hangs on those guys to continue their production as well. I don’t think we see Hall go for 100 points, maybe 85 points next year but 100 is a stretch.

Matt Barzal upwards of 85 points? This is going to be a tough one, without John Tavares Barzal will have all eyes and defensive one pairings on his tail next year. As elusive and shifty as he is, it is going to be difficult to move away from the opponents top players for 20+ minutes a game and be productive at it. Barzal had an unbelievable 85 point, record breaking rookie season. The positive is that, this will be the GUY for the Islanders, one man advantage, 5 on 3, even strength, in all facets of the game Barzal will be the guy. To say he cannot tally upwards of 85 points is just poor analysis, we have seen top players in the NHL have successful season with not many great player around them. Although Barzal does still have Josh Baily, Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, let’s not forget about these guys too, so he may not get all the attention. I’d go 80+ for Barzal next season.

William Karlsson upwards of 40 goals next season? To be quite honest, no chance! Karlsson sure had a great year, but two years in a row for 40 goals is tough, especially when his only bench mark before this season was 6 goals, something was a little fishy with his production last year. Overall a very good player when used correctly but for another 40 goal and 75 point season is tough. Karlsson only shot 184 times last year and scored 43 times, shooting at a 23.4 percentage is unheard of nowadays. If he shoots upwards of 20 percent next year, I’ll quit writing. I see a 28-30 goal season out of Karlsson next year.

Patrik Laine or Auston Matthews, who scores more goals? I am going with Laine, Matthews may have his production reduced a little next season. With Tavares in Toronto now, Matthews won’t have all the spotlight, but still, Matthews is good for a 30 plus goal season, I just think this is the year Winnipeg strings it together and Laine wins the Rocket. Very close last year missed by 5 goals to Ovechkin who shot 110 plus more times than Laine. If you think Laine shots a lot already wait until next year, we can expect upwards of 270 shots and a rocket trophy.

NHL: Ottawa Senators 2018-19 overview

Ottawa Senators: What is the plan for Stone, Karlsson and Duchene heading into the 2018-19 season

By now we all know Ottawa is a dumpster fire. After the whole Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson tirade, the Mark Stone signing and signing of Cody Ceci to 4.3 mil a year for one-year, just shows everything is out of sorts over there.

The bigger question though, it seems Karlsson is not going anywhere as of yet? It’s been nearly two months since we heard Karlsson rumors so it is fair to say with training camp approaching soon Karlsson will be on the Senators to start the season. Second, what is this Mark Stone deal? Stone is now the 35th highest paid player in the NHL with his contract comparing to players whose numbers reach in the upwards of 80 points year in and year out. Duchene, they have for 6 mil until next year.

Ok, we have not even mentioned the fact Ottawa has Bobby Ryan locked up until 2021-22 for 7.25 mil a year, Marian Gabriok for another three years at 4.875 mil a year, and Clarke MacArthur for 4.6 mil for two years. These are just some of the awful contracts in Ottawa. There is a zero percent chance they can afford Duchene, Stone, Karlsson at the end of 2019.

Here is my take on this and what I think will happen…

What I think Ottawa will do is trade Stone mid way through the year to a desperate playoff contending team, have them swallow some if not all of his contract, receive a mid-level prospect and high draft pick. Probably do the same with Duchene come trade deadline time and receive a first and some third or later round picks and some NHL ready players for Duchene. As well as Karlsson who will be dealt for a first, high level prospect and more. Therefore Ottawa will just walk into the 2019 NHL draft with a ton of first-round picks, a boat load of cap space and a totally different outlet on their team. Pushing youth development and trusting the process. Why? Well Stone, Duchene and Karlsson are all UFA(unrestricted free agents) therefore if Ottawa were to just let these guys walk for nothing that would potentially be the worst decision in Ottawa history since signing Bobby Ryan for 7.25 mil a year.


NHL Chicago Blachawks

What went wrong: Chicago Blackhawks 2017-2018

The Blackhawks had one of their worst seasons in 11 years, being one of the few NHL teams to win three Stanley Cups in the last 10 years they certainly did not have the season many expected. One of the teams in the NHL that constantly is #1 in attendance every year, built on years of success in Chicago the Blackhawks had a blunder of a season.

The Blackhawks posted a 33-39-10, 7th in Central with 76 points, ranking 21st in goals for(228), 9th in goals against(254), 28th in power play percentage(16.0), 20th in penalty kill percentage(79.1). The Blackhakws had a terrible season across the board and now have a ton of questions to answer. After acquiring Brandon Saad for Artem Panarin and to see the left winger Saad only produce 35 points in 82 games looks terrible for Chicago. On top of Artem Aminsov having a down year, Patrick Sharp scoring 21 points in 70 games and Jonathan Toews with 52 in 74 games the Blackhawks signings and top guns did not get the job done, nor did anything on the back end click this year.

NHL Chicago Blackhawks
The Blachawks posted a 33-39-10 record only the 5th time in the last 18 years they posted a below .500 record. 

The Blackhawks problems are relatively small, yet it was obvious as to why they did not do too well either. They lack defensive depth a ton, their forwards did not produce and Corey Crawford was out all year basically.

What went wrong with the Blackhawks?

(1) Defensive depth. At one point Brent Seabrook their once superstar and number two defenseman was left in the stands due to poor performance. They scratched Seabrook this year so right there we knew how this was going to go for Chicago. Duncan Keith is getting older(34) and maybe playing the 3-time Stanley Cup defenseman for 30+ minutes a game is not do able anymore, he struggled a bit this year, posting a -29 rating. Only the third time in his 13 year career he ever posted a negative +/-. After those two the Blackhawks had to rely on Jon Rutta, Erik Gustafsson, Jordan Oesterle and Connor Murphy combined these four players have played in a total of 547 games, without Murphy’s 334 the other three combine for 213 games, and two of these players, Rutta and Oestrerle played in their first full year as an NHL defenseman. Pretty clear as to why the Blackhawks had a down year.

(2) Saad was non existent, other veteran players and top six guys were not consistent. The whole Saad ordeal looks bad for the Blackhawks now especially after Saad’s 35 point year and Panarin’s playoff appearance and 82 point year. That is number one as to why the Blackhawks forward group ranked 21st in the NHL for goals for. Sharp was also not expected to do much but he still did not live up to his bargain, Aminsov was definitely expected to produce more than 31 points and without Marian Hossa it was obvious this top six lacked production. When Nick Schmaltz and Alex Debrincat, one first year player and the other in his second season produce 52 points as the next top producer it is obvious their is some in balance in the line up. Without Kane’s 76 points, no one on this roster besides Debrincat, Kane and Schmaltz had a solid year. Also acquiring Anthony Duclair to add some depth did not work out as he produced a total of 8 points in 23 games. They lacked consistency and depth on the front end, but have some young and up and coming players to look forward to.

(3) Corey Crawford was MIA. At one point they had their 9th string, mens league goalie play a game for them because they were hurting so much in the crease. Crawford played in 27 games missing 55 games, essentially the whole season. Not much needs to be said as to how this hurt the Blachkawks. To supplement Crawford was Anton Forsberg who posted a 10-16-4 record, a 2.97 GAA and .908 save percentage. Not great numbers to help a team be successful at least.

Will things better? 

Probably it is hard for things not to get better but the Blackhawks problems are easily fixable. Saad needs to step up, you now have young forwards that have seen time and played well so that’s good, Kane and Toews are always a solid mix, and adding one to two more forwards is not terrible. The defensive side of things basically adding one top four and one sixth defenseman is not a bad idea, but the other young guys did not have terrible years just inexperienced and young. They saw NHL time and will be ready for next year. Crawford stays healthy that is the key, if so they are destined to have a better season.

The positive though the Blachawks now have two 1st round picks and two 3rd round picks, and also 6 million in cap space. The negative their division is only getting better, Nashville, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Blues, Stars, Avalanche were all at one point battling for a playoff spot so this division is extremely tough it will be interesting to see what Chicago can do in this division next year. The only players they need to resign are Vinnie Hinostroza, others like Duclair, Tomas Jurco and Michael Rosival can all walk. The Blachawks have the 8th overall pick, hoping to get a defenseman as well as the 27th in the first round. That is a huge positive. Possibly trade the 27th if a top four defenseman hits the market.

Anyways we can expect around a 5th place finish out of Chicago next year and not making the playoffs, on the bubble but not making. The division is tough and not getting easier so I just cannot see this Chicago team out dueling Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg, Dallas or St. Louis next year.

NHL Vancouver Canucks

What went wrong: Vancouver Canucks 2017-2018

Vancouver yet again had another disappointing season I don’t think many people had high expectations for the Canucks, but the positive is that they have a bright future. With Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Jake Virtanen, Branden Leipsic, Troy Stecher the future is bright but right now the Cancuks have some work to do.

The Canucks finished 31-40-11, 73 points, ranked 26th in goals for(218), 9th in goals against(259), 9th in power play percentage(21.4), 21st in penalty kill(78.3). The Canucks have now to worry about filling the Sedin’s brothers spots now that they have retired but for now, the Canucks do have a bright future ahead. What went wrong for the Canucks though? Well, they did not have solid goaltending all year, some key injuries happened at a bad time, and lacked depth on both sides of the puck.

What went wrong with the Canucks? 

(1) Jakub Markstrom did not have a terrible season but when he was not in net Andres Nilsson did not fill the void well. Markstrom posted a decent record of 23-26-7 with a 2.71 GAA and a .912 save percentage, but Nilsson had a 7-14-4, 3.44 GAA and a .901 SV percentage. While Markstrom did not have a terrible season he only started 57 games, solid starting goaltender numbers but when Markstrom was not in net Nilsson did not do a great job, this is a small reason but one of the reasons the Canucks had a decent season.

(2) They had to deal with their top two forwards getting hurt at two different times with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser going down. When Boeser was in the line up the Canucks were at one point in a playoff hunt, once things hit the fan though they fell off quickly and things went south quick. Boeser their leading scorer had 55 points in 62 games and Horvat, whom when paired with Boeser was very siccessful played in 64 games with 44 points. Perhaps these two had been in the line up all year for 82 games they could have posted a .500 or a little above .500 record, but key injuries these two hurt the Canucks.

(3) The Canucks lacked the depth that is for sure. After the Sedin brothers who are aged forwards they did not have many players to fulfill their forward needs, such as Sam Gagner only scoring 31 points, Loui Eriksson with 23 points, and Branden Suter with 26 points, the Cancuks “veteran” players did not step up which hurt them. They acquired these players with different sights set on their numbers. Luckily the Canucks are transitioning to a younger model and developing younger players.

Will things get better?

Well like I said the Canucks are developing their younger players which is good because they have a ton of younger forwards coming up, like Pettersson, John Dahlen, Tyler Motte with established players like Boeser, Horvat, Sven Baerthschi, and more but the Canucks are definitely on the up and after this season it is a bright spot at least. They do have the 7th overall pick in this yeas draft definitely acquiring a top-level prospect yet again. Will they be back in a playoff hunt next season? Probably not they will be a 22-24th ranked team and finish around the same, maybe around .500 not above it by many games but definitely a better season is ahead. The problems heading into the offseason will be to resign, Markus Granlund, Beartschi, Virtanen, Stecher and Derick Poulit, not a huge burden but some things to consider with their 22 million in cap space and 6 picks out of the 7 rounds this season.