Monday, October 7, 2019

NHL Trade Review: Senators acquire Namestnikov

From Newsday
        The Ottawa Senators have acquired forward Vladislav Namestnikov from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Nick Ebert and a 2021 4th round draft pick.

        The Senators likely will be at the bottom of the league this season. But in Namestnikov, they see a player that can be traded later. A pending UFA, Namestnikov has a lot to play for this season. If he has a good stint with the Senators, he can be flipped for picks at the trade deadline. He didn't have a good two games for the Rangers this year, with no points and a -2 rating. He has struggled since joining the Rangers at the 2018 trade deadline. The Rangers retained 18.8% of Namestnikov's contract ($750k).

        Namestnikov, 26, has no points in two games this year. He scored 11 goals with 31 points in 78 games for the Rangers last season. In his NHL career for the Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, Namestnikov has scored 66 goals with 92 assists for 158 points in 362 games.

        Namestnikov had fallen out of favor in New York, and with valuable youngsters Filip Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov in the AHL, the eyes were on Namestnikov to play well. He didn't, and now he is gone. Trade talks surrounding him took place throughout the offseason, with his contract soon expiring. They get a defenseman in Ebert that came back to North America after a stint in the Swedish League.

         Ebert, 25, has no points in 1 AHL game this season. He scored 11 goals with 22 assists for 33 points in 49 Swedish League games this past season.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Winnipeg Jets 2019-20 season preview

From Getty Images

      The offseason was very eventful for the Jets, and almost all of it was bad. They lost three of their top five defensemen, without gaining anyone better. It took them until there was a week left until the season started to sign their two star RFAs, and now one of their best defenseman is considering retirement. Things are crashing down in Winnipeg.

       Additions: Neal Pionk, Anthony Bitetto, Gabe Bourque, Mark Letestu

       Subtractions: Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, Kevin Hayes, Ben Chiarot, Brandon Tanev, Matt Hendricks, Marko Dano, Par Lindholm, Joe Morrow

Even though he is now 33 years old, Blake Wheeler remains a star. While his 20 goals in 2018-19 were lower than average, a career high 71 assists led to a second consecutive 91 point season. Mark Scheifele got even better. He scored a career high 38 goals and 84 points, leading the team in the former category. Yesterday, Kyle Connor signed a seven year deal worth $50 million. The winger is coming off a season where he scored a career high 34 goals and 66 points. Patrik Laine had a down season. As the calendar turned to 2019, Laine had scored 24 goals with three hattricks, included a five goal night. However, he scored just six more goals throughout the rest of the season, finishing with 30 goals and 50 points, both career lows. His -24 rating was the worst on the team, 12 points higher than the next worst player. Nikolai Ehlers played in just 62 games, resulting in 21 goals and a career low 37 points. Bryan Little had a rough season. Not including the lockout 2012-13 season, Little's 15 goals and 41 points were his lowest since 2009-10. Mathieu Perreault scored 15 goals, but his 30 points were his lowest in a season where he played in at least 50 games. In just 69 games, Andrew Copp scored a career high 11 goals, and was a +20. 6'5'' center Adam Lowry scored 12 goals with 23 points. In his first full season, Jack Roslovic scored nine goals with 24 points. The last two spots are up for grabs. Mason Appleton is the favorite for one of them. He had 32 points in 40 AHL games, earning himself a 36 game NHL trial. Gabe Bourque had eight points in 55 games for the Avalanche last season. Depth center Mark Letestu has 560 games of NHL experience, though only two of those games came last year.

Josh Morrissey is under contract for the next nine seasons after signing an eight year extension recently. Playing in just 59 games, Morrissey finished with a career high 31 points in 2018-19. The Jets season could depend on if Dustin Byfuglien retires or not. Byfuglien has been the backbone of the Jets defense over the years. He played in just 42 games last year, resulting in a career low four goals with 31 points. Nathan Beaulieu returns after scoring five assists in 18 games for the Jets after being acquired at the trade deadline. Coming back for Jacob Trouba was Neal Pionk. The offensive defenseman had 26 points in his first full NHL season. Sami Niku had four points in 30 games last year, with 12 points in 20 AHL games. Dmitry Kulikov is in the last year of a three year deal. He had six points, all assists, in 57 games last season. The Jets signed depth defenseman Anthony Bitetto. In 36 games for the Predators and Wild last season, Bitetto had three points.

After finishing 2nd in Vezina voting in 2017-18, Connor Hellebuyck had a down season. He allowed a league high 179 goals, but his 1,872 saves led the league. He had a .913 SV% and a 2.90 GAA. Laurent Brossoit had a good season as backup. He had a .925 SV% and a 2.52 GAA.

          Deep Depths
Tucker Poolman spent all of 2018-19 in the AHL after playing in 24 NHL games the season before. He had 25 points in 43 games. Seth Griffith had 57 points in 69 AHL games last year. He has 19 points in 79 career NHL games. Logan Shaw scored 27 goals in 63 AHL games. He has 180 games of NHL experience.

          Up and Coming
Kristian Vesalainen had a good shot at a fourth line role, but a weak camp cost the 2017 1st rounder that opportunity. He had 17 points in 31 KHL games, 13 points in 22 AHL games, and one assist in five NHL games, all last season. 2016 first rounder Logan Stanley didn't impress in his first AHL season, with 22 points in 73 games.

           2019 draft class
Round 1, 20th overall: Ville Heinola
Round 2, 51st overall: Simon Lundmark
Round 4, 113th overall: Henri Nikkanen
Round 5, 134th overall: Harrison Blaisdell
Round 5, 144th overall: Logan Neaton

Paul Maurice is entering his 22nd season as NHL head coach, and his 7th with the Jets. Overall, his teams have a .525 winning percentage. While the Jets have been good under him, he could be fired if they don't start off well. The same could be said for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who had a losing offseason.

             Projected Lineup
Kyle Connor - Mark Schiefele - Blake Wheeler
Nikolai Ehlers - Bryan Little - Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault - Adam Lowry - Jack Roslovic
Gabriel Bourque - Andrew Copp - Mason Appleton
Extras: Kristian Vesalainen, Mark Letestu

              Josh Morrissey - Neal Pionk
              Nathan Bealieu - Dustin Byfuglien (if he doesn't retire)
              Dmitry Kulikov - Sami Niku
Extras: Anthony Bitetto, Tucker Poolman

                           Connor Hellebuyck
                           Laurent Brossoit
Extras: Eric Comrie

The Jets have been very good recently, but they are coming off a terrible offseason. Still, with Connor and Laine signed, they have a strong offense and goaltending. If Byfuglien comes back, then their defense can hold up, and propel the Jets into 4th in the Central Division and a playoff birth.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Washington Capitals 2019-20 season preview


            The theme of this past NHL playoffs was that anyone can beat anyone. All four division winners were eliminated in the first round, applying to the Metropolitan Division winning Capitals. The offseason saw the unloading of some 2018 Stanley Cup champions, and they also signed three depth players to four year contracts. However, the Capitals are still favorites for the 2020 Stanley Cup.

             Additions: Radko Gudas, Richard Panik, Garnet Hathaway, Brendan Leipsic

             Subtractions: Matt Niskanen, Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky, Devante Smith-Pelly, Brooks Orpik, Dmitrij Jaskin, Nathan Walker, Riley Barber

It was another amazing season for Alex Ovechkin. Arguably the greatest goal scorer ever, Ovechkin scored 51 goals with 89 points. It was his 8th 50 goal season, and he was a point away from his first 90 point season since 2009-10. He won the Rocket Richard trophy for the 8th time in his career, and for the sixth time in the past seven seasons. One of the best pending free agents is Nicklas Backstrom. The center scored 22 goals with 74 points. In his 10 seasons with at least 70 games played, Backstrom has reached 70 points eight times. Evgeny Kuznetsov is expected to serve a minor suspension to start the season. He scored 21 goals with 72 points, and might now be the best number two center in the league. TJ Oshie had a great season, with 25 goals and 54 points in 69 games. Jakub Vrana had a big breakout season, as the now 23 year old scored 24 goals with 47 points with a +20 rating, all career highs. Tom Wilson played in just 63 games after being suspended for parts of the season. He scored a career high 22 goals with 40 points. Lars Eller had another solid season, with 13 goals and 36 points. The Capitals signed Richard Panik. For the Coyotes last year, Panik scored 14 goals with 33 points. Carl Hagelin had 11 points in 20 games after the trade deadline from the Capitals. However, he had just eight points in 38 games for the Penguins and Kings earlier in the season. The Capitals signed Garnet Hathaway to a questionable four year deal. In a career high 76 games for the Flames last year, Hathaway scored 11 goals. Nic Dowd scored a career high eight goals with 20 points in 64 games. He competes with Travis Boyd for the fourth line center role. In his first full season, Boyd had 20 points in 53 games. Boyd could move to the wing, pushing out either Chandler Stephenson or Brendan Leipsic. Stephenson played in 64 games with 11 points and a -13 rating. In 62 games for the Canucks and Kings, Leipsic scored seven goals with 23 points. The Capitals are already Leipsic's 5th team, and he has played in just three seasons.

In the first year of a new deal with an $8 million AAV, John Carlson scored 13 goals with a career high 70 points and a +21 rating. Dmitry Orlov had 26 assists with 29 points. Michal Kempny had a career season, with six goals and 25 points. He missed the playoffs after tearing his hamstring. The physical Radko Gudas was acquired via trade. He had 20 points with a +6 rating. He also had 63 penalty minutes. The Capitals acquired Nick Jensen at the trade deadline, and he had five assists in 20 games. Christian Djoos played in 45 games, with 10 points. It was a step down from a solid rookie season. In his rookie season, Jonas Siegenthaler played in 26 games, with four assists.

Not only is Nicklas Backstrom a pending free agent, but Braden Holtby is too. The former Vezina winner had a .911 SV% and a 2.82 GAA. In his first season as Holtby's backup, Pheonix Copley had a .905 SV% with a 2.90 GAA.

                 Deep Depths
Tyler Lewington made his NHL debut, and had a goal and an assist in two games. He also had seven penalty minutes. Liam O'Brien scored 15 goals in the AHL, with 118 penalty minutes. Michael Sgarbossa scored 30 goals with 65 points in the AHL.

                 Up and Coming
Ilya Samsonov had a weak first season in North America after dominating in the KHL. He had a 2.70 GAA and a .898 SV% in the AHL. 2018 first rounder Alex Alexeyev had 10 goals with 43 points in 49 WHL games. 2016 first rounder Lucas Johansen had 14 points in 45 AHL games.

                 2019 draft class
                 Round 1, 25th overall: Connor McMichael
                 Round 2, 56th overall: Brett Leason
                 Round 3, 91st overall: Aliaksei Protas
                 Round 5, 153rd overall: Martin Has

After losing the eventual Jack Adams winner, Barry Trotz, the Capitals hired his assistant, Todd Reirden to be their Head Coach. The Capitals had another great season under Reirden. Brian MacLellan returns as GM. The Stanley Cup victory probably keeps him his job for a couple more seasons.

                  Projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - TJ Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Garnet Hathaway - Nic Dowd - Travis Bowd
Extras: Brendan Leipsic, Chandler Stephenson

                  Michal Kempny - John Carlson
                  Dmitri Orlov - Nick Jensen
                  Christian Djoos - Radko Gudas
Extras: Jonas Siegenthaler

                             Braden Holtby
                             Pheonix Copley

The Capitals are a very good team. They have a great core, and even though they are aging and some are reaching free agency, they will still be very good in 2019-20. I predict a first place finish.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

NHL Trade Review: Blues acquire Faulk

from Getty Images

       The St. Louis Blues have acquired defenseman Justin Faulk and a 2020 5th round draft pick from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Joel Edmundson, forward Dominik Bokk and a 2021 7th round pick. The Blues immediately signed Faulk to a seven year extension with a $6.5 million AAV.

       Even after winning the Stanley Cup, the Blues could use some defensive help. Captain Alex Pietrangelo will be a free agent after the season, and Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnarsson are aging. Faulk is a big addition to the defensive core, even though he could be on the third pairing, behind Pietrangelo and Colton Parakyo. Faulk was entering a contract season, and will have a $4.83 million cap hit for his first season in St. Louis from his previous contract. The new contract for Faulk is hefty, and overpays him, and seven years is a lot, plus the extra year the Blues get him before the extension kicks in. They also traded Edmundson, one of their current starters, and Bokk, a recent first round pick.

        Faulk, 27, scored 11 goals with 24 assists for 35 points in 82 games for the Hurricanes in 2018-19. In his NHL career, all in Carolina, Faulk has scored 85 goals with 173 assists for 258 points in 559 games.

        The Hurricanes have a boatload of defensemen. With Faulk entering a contract year, it looked like he wasn't going to stay in Carolina. There were rumors of a trade with Anaheim, but Faulk reportedly blocked that deal (he has a no-trade clause). By acquiring the left handed Edmundson for the right handed Faulk, the Hurricanes balance out their defensemen; three lefties (Jaccob Slavin, Jake Gardiner and Edmundson) and three righties (Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Trevor van Riemsdyk) with Haydn Fleury and Gustav Forsling as extras. They also get Bokk, who was drafted 25th overall in 2018. The German is currently playing in the Swedish League.

         Edmundson, 26, scored two goals with nine assists for 11 points in 64 games for the Blues last season. In his NHL career, all in St. Louis, Edmundson has scored 13 goals with 39 assists for 52 points in 269 games.

         Bokk, 19, has no points in four games for Rogle BK Angelholm of the Swedish League this season. In his SHL career, Bokk has scored nine goals with 16 assists for 25 points in 66 games.