Tuesday, February 28, 2017

NHL trade review: Habs trade Desharnais to Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have acquired center David Desharnais from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Brandon Davidson. Let's get into details.
      The Oilers have been rebuilding for about a decade. They had first overall picks many times but didn't win really big ever. But finally, the Oilers drafted center Connor McDavid with the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, and McDavid is already a top player in the league. Now the Oilers are playoff contenders. They sit 3rd in the Pacific division with 74 points (a record of 33-22-8). Adding center depth in Desharnais can help them if they make the playoffs. They have defensive depth, and Davidson was probably going to be taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL expansion draft, so trading him rules that out. Desharnais, 30, has 10 points (4 goals and 6 assists) in 31 games this season. He has 250 points (79 goals and 171 assists) in 435 career NHL games, all with the Habs.
       The Habs are looking to beef up a weak defensive core. They have all-star Shea Weber, but the rest isn't that good. GM Marc Bergervin acquired defenseman Jordie Benn Monday, and is probably going to make more moves at the trade deadline. Getting Davidson gives them defensive depth, which is good. Davidson, 25, has 1 point (an assist) in 28 games this season, all in the NHL. He has 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists) in 91 career NHL games.

NHL trade review: Oduya headed back to Hawks for McNeil

Oduya (above) with Stanley Cup as a member of the Hawks
   The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Dallas Stars in exchange for center Mark McNeil and a conditional 4th round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.
     The Blackhawks are in the middle of a current day dynasty. They have won 3 Stanley Cups in the last 7 years. For two of those Cup wins (2013 and 2015) Oduya was on the team. But Cap issues forced the Hawks to trade both Oduya and winger Patrick Sharp (who also could be dealt soon) to Dallas. To get back Oduya is key, and can help their defensive core. Oduya can play with Niklas Hjalmarsson, whom he played with on the Cup teams. The Hawks have shaky depth, but with the acquisition of forward Tomas Jurco recently, GM Stan Bowman could trade McNeil. A 4th round pick isn't much. Depending on the Hawks playoff success this year, the pick can turn into a third rounder, but it would be worth it. Oduya is an upcoming UFA, but might re-sign with the club. Oduya, 35, has 7 points (a goal and 6 assists) in 37 games this season. He has 180 points (36 goals and 144 assists) in 783 career NHL games for the Stars, the Hawks, the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers and the New Jersey Devils. In his time with the Blackhawks from 2011-12 to 2014-15, Oduya had 43 points (9 goals and 34 assists) in 219 games.
         The Stars are sellers this season. They traded winger Patrick Eaves to the Anaheim Ducks. Defenseman Jordie Benn was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. It's not a surprise that the 35 year old Oduya, who is can also be a UFA on July 1, was traded. They received a solid center in McNeil. GM Jim Nill knows about the Hawks' playoff success, and could get a 3rd rounder out of it. McNeil, 24, has 1 career NHL game. He had an even rating that game, 0 PIM and no points. That game was also last year, so he hasn't played in the NHL this year. He has 28 points (6 goals and 22 assists) in 58 games for Rockford (AHL) this season.   

NHL trade review: Stalberg traded from Canes to Sens

   The Ottawa Senators have acquired winger Viktor Stalberg from the Carolina Hurricanes for a third round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.
       The Canes have been rebuilding for years now. They are not the same team that won the 2006 Stanley Cup. Goalie Cam Ward has dropped off and former star Eric Staal is now a member of the Minnesota Wild. A winger like Stalberg, who can be a UFA on July 1, was definitely trade bait. Getting a 3rd round pick was an ok return, and the Canes did not lose this trade.
        The Sens' forward depth has been haunting them this season. Prospect Curtis Lazar has been a major bust, and might be traded in the next day. They went out and acquired forward Tommy Wingels in January. A day before this trade broke, the Sens acquired winger Alex Burrows from the Canucks. Adding another depth guy (Another rental guy too) in Stalberg is good. A 3rd round pick isn't a humongous forfeit. I think GM Pierre Dorion did a great job with this deal. Stalberg, 31, has 12 points (9 goals and 3 assists) in 57 games this season. He has 164 points (80 goals and 84 assists) in 470 career NHL games for the Canes, the New York Rangers, the Nashville Predators, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL trade review: Rangers acquire Smith from Wings

The New York Rangers have acquired defenseman Brendan Smith from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2017 second round draft pick and a 2018 3rd round pick. Let's get into details.
       The Rangers are looking to bolster their defensive core. New York native Kevin Shattenkirk was a target for the Rangers, but the Washington Capitals stepped in and got him. Getting a guy like Smith helps their core. Smith can be a UFA on July 1, but so is Shattenkirk, and the Rangers seem confident they can sign him. They are buyers, and buyers always give up picks at the trade deadline. A second round pick and a third rounder isn't a hefty price. I'm not surprised they agreed to this trade. Smith, 28, has 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) in 33 games this season. He has 67 points (15 goals and 52 assists) in 291 career NHL games, all with the Wings.
        The Wings have made the playoffs in the last 25 years, but that streak is coming to an end, it looks like. They have shopped center Riley Sheahan and were shopping Smith, a future UFA. It's not a surprise they traded him, because they are dead last in the Eastern conference with 58 points (a record of 24-26-10). Two picks, especially in the top 3 rounds is nice. They are starting a rebuild, and there's no doubt about it.

NHL trade review: Caps acquire Shattenkirk from the Blues for prospect, pick

  The Washington Capitals have acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and goalie Pheonix Copley from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forwards Brad Malone, Zach Sanford, a conditional 2019 second round pick and a first round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.
       Ever since the Capitals drafted left winger Alex Ovechkin with the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, their team has been great. He's scored 50 or more goals in a season 7 times. He has won 4 consecutive Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophies (most goals in a season). The only thing that Ovechkin can't do is make it to the Eastern conference finals in the playoffs. It seems like every year they're out in the second round.
       Getting an amazing defenseman in Shattenkirk can really help their defensive core. The Caps don't even need Shattenkirk. They have last year's Vezina trophy winner (best goalie) in Braden Holtby. They also have all-star defenseman John Carlson. But getting Shattenkirk can still make them a way better team. "We felt it was important to acquire another defenseman to strengthen and add depth to our blue line," Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said. "Kevin is a skilled, puck moving defenseman who we think will help our team at even strength and on the power play."
       They gave up a first round pick that will probably be a late pick, because the Caps currently are the best team in the NHL with 89 points (a record of 41-13-7). Sanford is a solid prospect but nothing major. Malone is also a depth player.
       The other guy the Caps got, Copley, was in their organization until a trade with the Blues struck, sending winger T.J. Oshie to the Caps. "We are also pleased to welcome Pheonix back to the organization. We feel his addition solidifies our goaltending tandem in [AHL] Hershey," MacLellan also said.  
        Shattenkirk, 28, has 42 points (11 goals and 31 assists) in 61 games for the Blues this season.
        Copley, 25, has 1 start for the Blues this season, with a 5.09 GAA and a SV% of 0.828. In 25 games for Chicago (AHL), Copley has a GAA of 2.31 and a SV% of 0.920.
        I personally don't like this trade for the Blues. Even though he could be a UFA on July 1, Shattenkirk was a big part for the Blues, who currently sit in the second wild card spot in Western conference with 67 points (a record of 31-25-5). They are in the playoff race, but the Los Angeles Kings trail just 2 points behind them with a great goalie tandem of Jonathan Quick and the newly acquired Ben Bishop. The Blues seem to want to tank now. They received a decent prospect in Sanford, a first round pick which is always good and a depth player in Malone.
        Sanford, 22, has 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist) in 26 games for the Caps this season. He has 16 points (11 goals and 5 assists) in 25 games for the Hershey Bears (AHL) this season.
         Malone, 27, hasn't played in the NHL this season. He has 20 points (7 goals and 13 assists) in 52 games for Hershey this season. He has 30 points (13 goals and 17 assists) in 176 career NHL games with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Colorado Avalanche.  

Monday, February 27, 2017

NHL trade review: Sens acquire Burrows from Canucks


The Ottawa Senators have acquired winger Alex Burrows from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Jonathan Dahlen. Let's get into details.
      The Sens are back in the playoff race after a disappointing 2015-16 season. They sit second in the Atlantic division with 72 points (a record of 33-21-6). They have 2 games in hand on the Montreal Canadiens (who are in first) and are just 2 points behind the Habs. The Habs are making moves, acquiring defenseman Jordie Benn. After that trade, GM Pierre Dorion was looking to beef up his roster. One hole in their team was depth forwards. Prospect Curtis Lazar is having an awful season, and the team already traded for Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks. Acquiring Burrows can help their team in the playoffs if they make it. The worst part about it is that they gave up a top prospect in Dahlen, who's father, Ulf Dahlen played for the Minnesota North Stars when they existed. But trading Dahlen shows how desperate they are. Burrows, 35, has 20 points (9 goals and 11 assists) in 55 games this season. He's a scrapper, with over 1,000 career PIM in 822 career NHL games. He has 384 career points (193 goals and 191 assists). Burrows was supposed to be a UFA on July 1, but soon after being traded, the Sens signed Burrows to a 2 year $2.25 million deal.
         The Canucks are rebuilders. They've had Burrows for 12 years now, but he was entering a UFA year, it was time for him to go. The Canucks were always going to be sellers, but a mumps outbreak almost changed it. GM Jim Benning was probably quick to accept this deal, because getting a top prospect for an old 4th line grinder. Dahlen, 19, is yet to play pro. He has 70 points (39 goals and 31 assists) in 99 games over 3 seasons in Sweden.

NHL trade review: Habs and Stars make swap of defensemen

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired defenseman Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Greg Pateryn and a 4th round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.
       The Habs were the top team in the league at one point, but have dropped off since. They fired head coach Michel Therrien, replacing him with Claude Julien. They sit first in the Atlantic division with 72 points (a record of 33-21-8), but the Ottawa Senators, who have two games in hand on the Canadiens, trail by just 2 points. Making this move upgrades this defensive core. Benn is slightly better than Pateryn (in my opinion) and the 4th round pick isn't much. Benn, 29, has 15 points (2 goals and 13 assists) in 58 games with the Stars this season.
        The Stars are sellers. They sit 9 points out of a playoff spot with 58 points (a record of 24-28-10). They recently traded winger Patrick Eaves to the Ducks. It makes sense why they would trade Benn, but Jordie's brother, Jamie Benn, is the Stars captain and best player. It could affect Jamie's play without Jordie, but GM Jim Nill made a solid move. Pateryn will replace Jordie Benn for the rest of the season, and the 4th round pick is an extra selection. Jamie Benn was a 5th round pick, so a 4th can turn out to be a star. Pateryn, 26, has 6 points (1 goal and 5 assists) in just 24 games with the Habs this season.     

NHL trade review: Leafs acquire Boyle for Froese and a pick

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired center Brian Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a second round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft and forward Byron Froese. Let's get into details.
     For the first time in what seems like forever, the Leafs are in the playoff chase. They currently sit in the second wild card spot in the Eastern conference with 69 points (a record of 28-20-13). They have many depth players in both the NHL and the AHL, but most of them are younger players/rookies. Getting a proven veteran who's been to the Cup finals twice in Boyle can really supercharge their lineup. The second rounder is a fair price for Boyle, and Froese isn't needed with Boyle on the roster. Boyle, 32, has 22 points (13 goals and 9 assists) in 54 games this season.
      The Lightning made the Stanley Cup finals in 2015 and the Eastern conference finals in 2016, but went WAY downhill in 2017. Superstar center Steven Stamkos has been injured practically the entire season, and winger Ryan Callahan is out for the rest of the season. With 62 points (a record of 27-25-8), the Bolts are 7 points out of a playoff spot. They already traded goalie Ben Bishop, and now that Boyle's gone, they are in a rebuild. A second round pick is a solid pick, and Froese is depth for this year. Boyle could be a UFA on July 1, so it's not a surprise he was dealt. Froese, 25, has no points in 2 games for the Leafs this season. He has 39 points (24 goals and 15 assists) in 48 games for Toronto (AHL) this season. 

NHL trade review: Coyotes acquire Pulkkinen from Wild

The Arizona Coyotes have acquired forward Teemu Pulkkinen from the Minnesota Wild for future considerations. Let's get into details.
       This trade comes a day after these two teams pulled off a blockbuster trade, sending center Martin Hanzal and right winger Ryan White to the Wild. Since then, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has cleared up roster space for Hanzal and White. He placed C Zac Dalpe on waivers (he was then claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets). Pulkkinen, another depth guy, wasn't needed on the roster. He recently cleared waivers, but the Wild wanted to get some value out of him, because there was no use of him in the NHL. The future considerations is probably going to be a late draft pick.
        The Coyotes are in a rebuild. They traded defenseman Michael Stone. Like I mentioned before, they also traded Hanzal and White. This is the third straight day GM John Chayka has traded for an AHL player. He traded for winger Jeremy Morin, and winger Grayson Downing (he was the only player they got in the Hanzal trade). He's obviously trying to beef up both the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) and the Coyotes depth. Pulkkinen, 25, has 1 point (a goal) in 9 games for the Wild this season. He has 36 points (18 goals and 18 assists) in 47 games for the Iowa Wild (AHL). He has 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) in 79 career NHL games with the Wild and the Detroit Red Wings.    

Sunday, February 26, 2017

NHL trade review: Coyotes trade Hanzal, White to Wild

The Minnesota Wild have acquired center Martin Hanzal, right winger Ryan White, and a 4th round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft from the Arizona Coyotes for a first round draft pick in 2017, a second rounder in 2018, a conditional 4th rounder in 2019, and F Grayson Downing. Let's get into details.
      The Wild are Cup contenders. They are first in the Western conference (second in the NHL) with 84 points (a record of 39-14-6). A guy like Hanzal could help them hopefully make the first Stanley Cup final appearance in franchise history. But they gave up WAY too much for him. He's a rental player, and an upcoming UFA, and it's not like he's a superstar. But GM Chuck Fletcher knows what he's doing. Hanzal is a solid top 6 center, and White can be a 4th line grinder. Hanzal, 30, has 26 points (16 goals and 10 assists) in 51 games this season. He isn't afraid to take penalties, with 43 PIM this year. White, 28, has 13 points (7 goals and 6 assists) in 46 games this season, his first in the desert.
         The Coyotes are obviously rebuilders. GM John Chayka has already traded defenseman Michael Stone this season, and it's not a surprise Hanzal is gone too. The Coyotes will also retain 50% of Hanzal's contract, but he's a rental player so it doesn't hurt their future. They received a bundle of picks, including top ones, for a player who they probably wouldn't have next year. The lone player they received, Downing, is more of an AHL player than a NHL one. Downing, 24, has never played in the NHL before. He has 21 points (7 goals and 14 assists) in 46 games for Iowa (AHL) this season. He will join Jeremy Morin as new acquisitions for Tucson (AHL).  

NHL trade review: Kings acquire Bishop from Bolts

The Los Angeles Kings have acquired goalie Ben Bishop and a 5th round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for goalie Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, a 7th round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft, and a conditional pick in the same draft, but the round hasn't been announced. The Lightning will also retain 20% of Bishop's contract. Let's get into details.
       The Kings' starting goalie for the past couple of years, Jonathan Quick, was injured on opening night, and just returned yesterday. They have a tough schedule ahead, with many back-to-back games. With 2 reliable starters with great playoff experience (Quick won 2 Cups with LA, and Bishop has played in the finals before), the Kings can now make a serious run for the playoffs. They sit fifth in the Pacific division with 64 points (a record 30-27-4), and 3 points out of the 2nd wild card spot in the Western conference. Budaj has played great this season, but with both Quick and Bishop, he wasn't needed. Cernak isn't close to the NHL, and a 7th round pick isn't much. Bishop, 30, has a GAA of 2.55 and a SV% of .911 in 31 starts this season.
        The Lightning reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2015, but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2017, they were missing star Steven Stamkos, but still made it to game 7 of the Eastern conference finals, before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They've dropped off a lot this season, though. Stamkos was injured again, and the club sits 7 points out of a playoff spot (they have 62 points, with a record of 27-25-8). Bishop has been the Bolts' number 1 goalie for years now, but he's an upcoming UFA, and Andrei Vasilevskiy seems to be the goalie of the future for them at 22 years of age. Bishop was major trade bait. Budaj can be Vasilevskiy's backup for the next couple of months. Cernak was drafted in the second round just 2 years ago, so he can be a solid prospect for Tampa Bay. Budaj, 34, has a GAA of 2.12 and a SV% of .917 in 51 starts this season in Quick's absence. Cernak, 19, has never played professional yet. He'll probably play for the Syracuse Crunch (the Lightning's AHL affiliate) next season, when he's 20.

NHL trade review: Bolts send Morin to Coyotes for Fournier

The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired F Stefan Fournier from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for F Jeremy Morin. Let's get into details.
     The Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, have a problem. There's an AHL rule that states that at least 13 of the 18 skaters in a game need to be development players. To be a development player, you need to have less than 260 professional games played. There can be just 5 skaters (goalies don't matter) with more. If a player has from 261 to 320 professional games played, he is qualified as an intermediate player. One of the 13 development players can be an intermediate player. Morin has 349 professional games played, so he counts as a veteran. The Crunch have a lot of veterans on their team, so they needed to get rid of one. Fournier is classified as a development player, so the Lightning made the swap. (for more info on this rule, click on this). Fournier earns over $100,000 less than Morin. Fournier, 24, has 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists) in 29 games for Tucson (AHL) this season he's never played in the NHL in his career. Fournier is a big time scrapper. He has 95 PIM in just 29 games this year. He might not start in Syracuse, but will be protecting prospects when he does play.
       Coyotes' GM John Chayka is probably happy after completing this deal. Morin is probably a better player, and has NHL experience, unlike Fournier. He can be an AHL call up if needed. Morin, 25, has 21 points (9 goals and 12 assists) in 43 games for Syracuse this season. He hasn't played in the NHL at all this year, but has 22 points (10 goals and 12 assists) in 82 career NHL games for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Lightning signed him to a one year deal this offseason, and will be a RFA at the end of the season. Fournier will be a UFA.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

NHL news: Canucks' Stecher diagnosed with mumps, others show symptoms

The Vancouver Canucks are in a very questionable situation. Their two best players- Daniel and Henrik Sedin, are both 36 years old, and could decline soon. If you look at the rest of their team, you'd probably say they need a rebuild to help the franchise. But GM Jim Benning refuses to do that method, thinking his team is good enough. The Canucks currently sit 6th in the Pacific division with 58 points (a record of 26-28-6). They're also 9 points out of the second wild card spot in the Western conference. Signs show that they'll be sellers at the trade deadline, but an upcoming issue could stop that.
         Recently, defenseman Troy Stecher was diagnosed with the mumps, a virus that causes swollen and tender glands, as well as flu-like symptoms. Four other players have also presented symptoms. "We're taking this very seriously given how easily mumps can spread," Benning said. "At this point Troy Stecher is the only player with a confirmed test result. Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund have each presented symptoms. We'll continue to follow all protocols in accordance with Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines in order to prevent further infection."
          All five players (Stecher, Tanev, Tryamkin, Chaput and Granlund) will not play in Saturday's matchup vs the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks have recalled defensemen Jordan Subban, Joe Labate and Evan McEneny from Utica (AHL). Forward Alex Grenier was also recalled.
          Stecher, 22, is in his first NHL season. He has 18 points (2 goals and 16 assists) in 51 games.
           Tanev, 27, has 6 points, (a goal and 5 assists) in 36 games this season.
           Tryamkin, 22, has 7 points (a goal and 6 assists) in 50 games this season.
            Chaput, 24, has 6 points (3 goals and 3 assists) in 48 games this year.
            Granlund, 23, has 26 points (15 goals and 11 assists) in 60 games this season.
            Subban, 21, has 29 points (13 goals and 16 assists) in 46 games for Utica. He's been called up before, but hasn't played for Vancouver.
            Labate, 23, has 9 points (2 goals and 7 assists) in 25 games in the AHL. He has 3 points less games for Vancouver this year.
             McEneny, 22, has 17 points (6 goals and 11 assists) in 43 NHL games this season.
             Grenier, 25, has 38 points (15 goals and 23 assists) in 51 games for Utica this season.

Friday, February 24, 2017

NHL trade review: Wings deal Jurco to Blackhawks for a third

The Detroit Red Wings have traded winger Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.
       The Blackhawks are in the middle of a dynasty, lifting the Stanley Cup 3 times in the last 7 years. This year, they should make the playoffs again. They have 81 points (a record of 38-18-5), good enough for second place in the Central division. They do have cap issues, though. They've traded away stars in Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell (who was diagnosed with MS, but is luckily recovering quickly). Their depth isn't in the greatest shape. They've gotten lucky on deadline acquisitions Michal Handzus and Richard Panik in recent years, and GM Stan Bowman is probably thinking Jurco can be another great acquisition. Jurco, 24, has no points in 16 NHL games with Detroit this season. He's also a -8 and has 2 PIM. He has 2 points (a goal and an assist) in 2 games with Grand Rapids (AHL) this season, with an even rating. He has 39 points (15 goals and 24 assists) in 159 career NHL games. He also has 46 PIM in the NHL.
         When the Wings drafted 35th overall (second round) in the 2011 NHL draft they probably thought he'd be at least ok in the NHL. He became a faded prospect, though. The Wings have made the playoffs in the last 25 years, but that streak seems to be coming to an end. They're 10 points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern conference (they're also the second worst team in the conference), and are shopping guys like Brendan Smith and Jurco (before he was traded). "Things haven't worked out. He wanted to be elsewhere," Wings G Ken Holland said. Jurco, who's a RFA at the end of this year, should stay with Chicago next year.

NHL trade review: Patrick Eaves to Ducks

  The Anaheim Ducks have acquired RW Patrick Eaves from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a conditional second round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. The condition is if the Ducks reach the Western conference finals, and Eaves plays in 50% or more of the games in the first two rounds, then the Stars will receive the Ducks' first round pick instead of their second. Let's get into details.
       The Ducks are in the playoff race in the Western conference. They have 74 points (a record of 32-20-10), good enough for third in the Pacific division. Getting a guy like Eaves, who can be a UFA on July 1, can be a solid rental player. Although he was waived twice and was signed to one year deals in consecutive years, Eaves is having a career year alongside stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in Dallas. Eaves, 32, has 37 points (21 goals and 16 assists), a -10 rating on a terrible Stars team, and 16 PIM in 59 games this season. He's played for the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators earlier in his career. The biggest thing about him that makes teams want him is his cap hit. For a guy with 20+ goals, Eaves has a very small cap hit of just $1 million, a steal. He can play with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell or Ryan Kesler in Anaheim.
         The Stars were the best team in the Western conference last season. But goalie problems have set them back this year. They are 10 points out of the second wild card spot with 56 points (a record of 23-27-10). GM Jim Nill did a great job to get a draft pick in the first 2 rounds for Eaves. They are officially sellers, and a guy like Johnny Oduya could be the next one to go.

Around the NHL: Bickell set to make comeback in AHL

Bryan Bickell has already had a remarkable NHL career. In 2013, he scored an important goal in game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. That goal led to his Blackhawks winning the Cup. He has 3 Stanley Cup rings: in 2010,'13, and '15 (but his name was only inscribed on the cup twice, because he was called up for a small portion of the playoffs). When he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2016-17 season, some issues stepped in.
       The issues, weren't related to the Canes, though. On November 12, the Hurricanes announced that Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (or MS), and was placed on IR. He hasn't played since.
        When a team places a player on waivers, he is probably not happy. But when the Canes placed Bickell on waivers Thursday, it was a very good thing for Bickell. Bickell cleared, and was sent to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), to play for the first time since his diagnosis.
        "[I'll] get my feel back, get some minutes, get some good practices in and then hopefully everything feels good to come back up," Bickell said via CarolinaHurricanes.com.
         Bickell, 30, has 1 point (a goal) in 7 games with the Canes this season. He's missed the last 48 games. He also has a -1 rating and 4 PIM.
          He has 136 points (66 goals and 70 assists) in 391 career NHL games (he also has 192 PIM) with the Canes and the Blackhawks. We don't know when Bickell will return to the NHL, but it seems to be when GM Ron Francis sees that he's ready after his stay with Charlotte.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Around the NHL: Bolts' Callahan likely out for season

The Tampa Bay Lightning's 2015-16 season was great. Although they started off bad, they made game 7 of the eastern conference final without captain and superstar center Steven Stamkos. They then signed Stamkos to a 8 year extension, and prospect Jonathan Drouin, who previously requested a trade, rescinded his request.
    But the 2016-17 season has been rough. They sit 6th in the Atlantic division with a record of 27-24-8 (62 points), and are 4 points behind the New York Islanders, who currently sit in the second wild card spot in the eastern conference. Stamkos is averaging over a points per game this season, with 20 of them (9 goals and 11 assists) in just 17 games. He last played on November 15, and just started to practice today. Star goalie Ben Bishop is an upcoming UFA, and has a GAA of 2.55 and a SV% of .911. He's also a possible trade target for other teams as the trade deadline looms.
     More injury problems have occurred. Winger Ryan Callahan has 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists) in just 18 games this season, last playing on January 7. The 31 year is now marked out for the rest of the 2016-17 season after undergoing hip surgery to repair a labral tear. He had the exact same surgery done on his hip last year. Bolts GM Steve Yzerman said that the injury is expected not to be career threatening.
     Forward Cory Conacher was recalled from Syracuse (AHL). Conacher, 27, has 2 points (a goal and an assist) in 7 NHL games this season. He has 44 points (12 goals and 32 assists) in 42 games this season in the AHL. He's played in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders previously. He played 35 games with the Bolts in 2012-13, before going to those three teams. He had 24 points (9 goals and 15 assists) that year.

NHL trade review: Pens acquire Hainsey from Canes

  The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired defenseman Ron Hainsey from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a second round pick in 2017 and forward Danny Kristo. ESPN's Pierre Lebrun reports that the Canes will retain 50% of Hainsey's $2.83 million contract. Let's get into details.
    The Pens were Stanley Cup champs in 2016, and look poised to at least make the playoffs in 2017 with 82 points (a record of 37-14-8), and are in second place in the Metropolitan division. But they have injury problems with their defenseman. It was recently announced that defenseman Trever Daley will miss 6 weeks, and underwent knee surgery. Another defenseman in Olli Maatta will also miss 6 weeks. The second round pick is the main thing they surrender, and the prospect, Kristo, is the cherry on top of the deal. Hainsey, 35, has 4 goals and 10 assists (14 points), a -17 rating, and 17 PIM in 56 games this season.
      The Canes are currently in a rebuild. They are currently last in the eastern conference with 56 points (a record of 24-24-8), and GM Ron Francis is looking to make trades this deadline, already making a trade for defenseman Phillip Samuelsson. Hainsey is an upcoming UFA, and was major trade bait for teams. Hainsey has the record for most games played without a single playoff game (891 career games). Being on Pittsburgh can end that streak. The Canes now have 10 picks in the 2017 draft, 6 in the first 3 rounds. Kristo, the prospect has never played in the NHL, but has been in the St. Louis Blues organization until this year, when he went to Pittsburgh. The 26 year old has 11 points (6 goals and 5 assists) in 32 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) this season. He also had a +2 rating and 10 PIM for them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Around the NHL: Isles' Cizikas out with injury


  The New York Islanders' first half of the 2016-17 NHL season was horrendous. In late December/early January, the Isles started to play better. Then on January 17, 2017, the Isles fired head coach Jack Capuano, naming assistant coach Doug Weight interim head coach. Since then, the Isles have been VERY hot (they have a record 11-4-2 for 24 points). Now they sit in a three way tie for the second wild card spot in the eastern conference with the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins (all three teams have 66 points). The Panthers have a game in hand on both the Bruins and the Isles, so they sit in that spot. There's two problems that plague the Isles in their run for the playoffs. The first is their struggles on the road. This season, they have a putrid 8-13-4 road record (20 points). They're currently on a 9 game road streak, so they need to play better away from home. A 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings (in Detroit) Tuesday could show that they're better at road then they were a month ago, but a recent 7-1 loss in Toronto shows their road jitters aren't over quite yet. The second problem is injuries. Defenseman Travis Hamonic hasn't played since January 7, with a knee injury. In the game against Detroit, forwards Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck sat out the third period. Clutterbuck is expected to miss Thursday's game against Montreal, but no further injury has been announced (he played for the first time since February 3rd Tuesday, due to injury). The bad news is that Cizikas has a broken hand, and is expected to miss about 4 weeks or a month. Forward Shane Prince was placed on IR Wednesday (retroactive February 12), and F Bracken Kearns was recalled from Bridgeport (AHL). Cizikas, 25, has 7 goals and 16 assists (23 points), a +9 rating and 28 PIM in 53 games this season. Prince, 24, has 5 goals and 11 assists (16 points), a -7 rating and 18 PIM. Cizikas, along with Clutterbuck, are two elite forwards on the Isles PK unit. Being without both of them, even if it's only for a single game, would be a disaster for the Isles' penalty kill.

Around the NHL: Isles call up Kearns; Kings place Zatkoff on waivers

The New York Islanders were once completely out of a playoff spot. Things changed on January 17, 2017 when the Isles fired head coach Jack Capuano, naming assistant coach Doug Weight interim head coach. The Isles are now tied with the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the eastern conference, but the Panthers are technically in the spot with a game in hand on the Isles and Bruins. Recent injuries might plague the Isles, though. Forwards Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck both sat out the third period of their 3-1 win Wednesday vs the Detroit Red Wings. Clutterbuck had been out since February 3rd (when the Isles played the Wings) with another injury. Both players might skate tomorrow. Forward Shane Prince had also been out some games with an injury, and has been placed on IR (retroactive February 12). Forward Bracken Kearns has been recalled from Bridgeport (AHL). Kearns, 35, hasn't played in the NHL at all this season. He has played in 33 career NHL games with the Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks and the Isles. He has 3 goals and 3 assists (6 points) in those games, and 20 PIM. He is Bridgeport's leading scorer this season with 18 goals and 22 assists (40 points) in 51 games this season. He also has 28 PIM.
         The Los Angeles Kings have had some goalie problems this season. Star goaltender Jonathan Quick went down with an injury on opening night, and hasn't played since. G Peter Budaj has stepped in nicely, with a GAA of 2.12, a .917 SV% and 27 wins in 50 starts. His backup has changed throughout the season. Goalie Jeff Zatkoff was placed on waivers Wednesday. It's not official, but goalie Jack Campbell might be recalled from Ontario (AHL). Zatkoff, 29, has a SV% of .879, and a GAA of 2.94. Not exactly great numbers. We'll see if Campbell does get the call. Quick is expected to be back in March, so Campbell should get the call. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NHL trade review: Canes trade Lowe to Habs for Samuelsson


The Montreal Canadiens have acquired D Keegan Lowe from the Carolina Hurricanes for D Philip Samuelsson. Let's get into details.
      Both teams didn't really have a major reason to make this trade. Neither of the defensemen have played in the NHL this season.
      Lowe, 23, has only played two career NHL games, both in 2014-15 as a member of the Canes. He had no points, a -2 rating and 10 PIM in those games. He was drafted 73rd overall (3rd round) in the 2011 NHL draft. He has 12 points (3 goals and 9 assists), 53 PIM and a rating of +4 in 49 games for Charlotte (AHL) this season.
     Samuelsson, 25, has played in 13 NHL games with two teams. He played 4 games in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 as a member of the Arizona Coyotes and 5 games in 2013-14 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has no points and 2 PIM in his career. The Pens drafted him 61st overall (second round) in the 2009 NHL draft. He has 5 points (a goal and 4 assists), 21 PIM and a rating of -7 in 40 games for St John's (AHL) this season.
         The interesting part of this trade is that Samuelsson's father, former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, is the head coach Charlotte Checkers, the Canes AHL affiliate. Both Samuelsson and Lowe will report to the AHL. Samuelsson will go to Charlotte, and Lowe will go to St. John's.

Monday, February 20, 2017

NHL news: Avs' Zadorov out for season with injury; Johnson practices for first time

The Colorado Avalanche just can't catch a break. They've lost starting goalie Semyon Varlamov for the rest of the season. They are also dead last in the NHL with 35 points (their record is a lousy 16-38-3). Another injury has occurred for the Avs. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov collided with teammate Mikko Rantanen in a Monday practice, and will miss the rest of the season. The Denver post's Mike Chambers reports that the injury is a fractured ankle. Zadorov, 21, was a big part of the return the Avs got when they traded C Ryan O'Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres on June 26, 2015. The Sabres drafted Zadorov 16th overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Zadorov has 10 points (all assists) in 56 games this year. He's also a -20. Zadorov has a hobby of sitting in the penalty box. In 145 career NHL games, Zadorov has 140 PIM. In the 56 games he played this season, he had 73 PIM. "I think I fell first then he fell on me," Rantanen said after the practice. But I don't know what happened exactly. He's a heavy guy." Rantanen was also hurt in the collision, but seems fine now. "He got tangled up with Mikko and actually fell on top of Mikko but his leg got trapped underneath Mikko and [he] fell awkwardly," Avs head coach Jared Bednar said on the collision.
       The Avs did get some good news though. Defenseman Erik Johnson practiced for the first time since December 6th, when he broke his leg. "We'll just see what tomorrow brings," Bednar said of Johnson. "He's had some days where he's felt real good and others not. [He] Seems to be on the right path." Forward Rene Bourque, who is recovering from a concussion, also practiced today. Johnson, 28, has a goal and 10 assists (11 points) in 23 games this season. Bourque, 35, has 9 goals and 4 assists (13 points) in 43 games this season.
        The Avs have looked for defensemen. They acquired D Mark Barberio and D Cody Goloubef earlier this season, and are shopping stars Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, and will probably only deal them if a top 2 defenseman, or prospect d-man, is in the trade. Zadorov is just 21, and is still getting better. The Avs are hoping that this injury doesn't affect his future.

NHL trade review: Flames acquire defenseman Stone from Coyotes

The Calgary Flames have acquired defenseman Michael Stone from the Arizona Coyotes for a 3rd round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft, and a conditional 5th round pick in the 2018 NHL draft. Let's get into details.
     The Flames have defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dennis Wideman, who are playing top 4 minutes. Last year, the Flames traded another top 4 guy in Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars (he now plays for the Edmonton Oilers), losing a big part of their defensive core. They get a guy like Stone, to go into the top 4 and move Wideman to the third pairing with Jyrki Jokipakka or Deryk Engelland. Stone can go alongside Brodie or Giordano on the second defense pair, and help the Flames to a playoff run. The Flames are currently in the second wild card spot in the western conference (4th in the Pacific division) with 62 points (they have a record of 29-26-4), but teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks trail closely. All they gave up is a third round pick and possibly a 5th rounder as well (the condition on the pick is if the Flames re-sign Stone this offseason, because he can become a UFA on July 1). Stone, who has a goal and 8 assists (9 points) in 45 games this season, (he's also a -5 on a terrible team) can help the Flames for the rest of the season.
      The Coyotes are 2nd to last in both the western conference and the NHL (they are last in the pacific division) with a record of 20-30-7 for 47 points (the Colorado Avalanche are in dead last with a record of 16-38-3 for 35 points). They have 2 main players who are an upcoming UFA, and have been trade targets for other teams. Those players are Stone, and C Martin Hanzal, who could be dealt soon. They did the smart move to get value out of Stone. They are in a rebuild, and Stone being a UFA doesn't help that. They could sign Stone on July 1st, though. The Coyotes will also retain 50% of Stone's $4 million contract.
       Stone has spent all of his six year NHL career with the Coyotes, with his rookie season being 2011-12, when they were called the Phoenix Coyotes (they changed to Arizona, though they didn't relocate, before the 2014-15 season). He has 24 goals and 72 assists (96 points) in 324 career NHL games.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

NHL news: Sens' Ryan out indefinitely with injury

The Ottawa Senators are having an amazing 2016-17 season. They are second in the Atlantic division with a record of  31-19-6 (68 points), and have 3 games in hand on the Montreal Canadiens, who are in first place with 70 points (just 2 higher than the Sens' 68). Guys like Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel and Zack Smith are having great seasons. But something that occurred today could bring them down a step. Forward Bobby Ryan was injured in Saturday's win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is marked out indefinitely. The injury is on his right index finger, after taking a shot off of it Saturday. Ryan missed 5 games earlier this season with an injury to the same finger. It seems to be broken. "He got a shot on the hand," Senators' head coach Guy Boucher said via the Ottawa Citizen. "He finished the game but he's out indefinitely. It could be [broken]. They're checking today again but it could be [broken]. He'll be out for awhile. If it's broken, we're talking three-to-six weeks." Ryan has 12 goals and 12 assists (24 points) in 50 games this season. He's been hot lately, with 3 points in the last 2 games. It looks like winger Curtis Lazar will play in Ryan's place Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets. Ryan isn't having an amazing year this year, but he once put up 71 points in a season (2010-11). He has 63 goals and 158 points over 3 seasons with the Sens, not including this year (that 71 point season was when he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks).

NHL news: Blues claim Rattie of waivers from Canes

The St. Louis Blues have claimed RW Ty Rattie off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. Let's get into details.
   The Blues had Rattie from 2011 (when they drafted him 32nd overall) to this January, when the Canes claimed him off waivers from them. Back then, the Blues didn't need him. But after that, forward Robby Fabbri went down with a season ending injury, and the Blues wished they still had Rattie. Forwards like Kenny Agostino and Wade Megan were called up (they're both playing for Chicago (AHL) now). When the Hurricanes placed Rattie on waivers, GM Doug Armstrong knew he had to make a move. Rattie, 24, has 10 points in just 35 career NHL games. He has no points in 4 NHL games this year with the Blues, and 2 assists in 5 games for the Canes. He was sent to Chicago (AHL) right after he was claimed.
     I'm a little surprised that Rattie was placed on waivers by the Canes. Rattie is a RW, and now their only RW on the roster is Lee Stempniak. The guy who they called up to replace Rattie, Phillip Di Giuseppe, is a LW, one of 7 on their roster. Di Giuseppe, 23, is a year younger than Rattie so the Canes might have liked him more for that reason (probably not). Di Giuseppe has 2 points (a goal and an assist) in 18 NHL games this season.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

NHL trade review: Leafs acquire Kalinin from Devils for Loov

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired C Sergey Kalinin from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for D Victor Loov. Here's why it happened.
    The Devils placed Kalinin on waivers earlier this week, and now have 13 forwards on their roster. Coach John Hynes might want all 13 to split games, and LW Michael Cammalleri will be a healthy scratch Saturday vs the New York Islanders. They cleared out more roster space earlier this season, when they traded away RW Vernon Fiddler. There was no point to have Kalinin, 25, who has 2 goals and 4 points in 43 NHL games this season. They got Loov, 24, who's a defenseman, which is a positional need for New Jersey. Loov will report to Albany (AHL). Loov has 6 points (2 goals) in 41 games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) this season. He has just 4 games of NHL experience, all last season.
      The Leafs have many rookie forwards like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander,
Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Nikita Soshnikov, so it's a little questionable why they acquired Kalinin. Loov, who is currently hurt, was about their 10th or 12th defenseman on their depth chart, so they didn't need him. Toronto scouts must have seen things about Kalinin that they liked, so they traded for him. Kalinin will report to Toronto (AHL).

Around the NHL: Devils' Cammalleri a healthy scratch

   The New Jersey Devils have had a very up and down season. They traded D Adam Larsson for LW Taylor Hall this offseason, and despite injuries, Hall has 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 47 games this season. Right before the season started, the Devils claimed RW P.A. Parenteau off waivers from the New York Islanders. Parenteau has taken off, with 13 goals and 25 points in 55 games. But the Devils are in 7th place in the Metropolitan division with 58 points in 57 games. Some negative news came out of the locker room Saturday when it was announced that LW Mike Cammalleri will be a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Islanders. Cammalleri, 34, can be considered a star by some. He has 10 goals and 30 points in 51 games this year, but hasn't scored in 18 games. "I've been, in my opinion, committed to we're trying to do all over the ice," Cammalleri said. "The puck just hasn't gone in, and I'll try to continue to search for solutions. It's something I'm confident changes." The Devils might need Cammalleri to play better, as they have him signed for the next 2 years, owing him $5 million per season, and drastic drop-offs could come. If the Devils want to compete for a playoff spot, they'll need to make trades. That kind of contract can affect a team's salary cap, especially if that player is not preforming well. I don't think the Devils will make the playoffs, but will be sellers at the trade deadline instead. It's not certain if Cammalleri will play Sunday against the Isles, but I expect Hynes will play him. In case your wondering, RW Beau Bennett will start in Cammalleri's place Saturday.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

NHL news: Penguins' Maatta out 6 weeks

   Ever since December 12, 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the best hockey team in the NHL. That day marks when the Penguins fired head coach Mike Johnston, replacing him with Mike Sullivan. The Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, and are doing really nice in 2016-17, with a record of 36-13-7 (79 points), good enough for 2nd place in the Metropolitan division. They have that record even though stars Evgeni Malkin, Matt Murray and Kris Letang have missed significant time due to injury. Another injury has come across their roster, as it was announced that defenseman Olli Maatta will miss the next 6 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a hand injury. The 22 year old is in his 4th season in the NHL (all with Pittsburgh), and has 1 goal and 6 assists (7 points) in 54 games this season. He's also a +17. The injury occurred when Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry hit him in Thursday's 4-3 OT winner. Penguins center Sidney Crosby scored point #1,000 in the game. Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz sat out the 3rd period Thursday, but no word on him has been announced yet. To replace Maatta (and maybe even Schultz), the Penguins recalled defensemen Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL). The 26 year old Gaunce has 2 assists and is a +3 in 3 games earlier this season for the Penguins. In 47 games in the AHL, Gaunce has 13 points and is a +15. Oleksy, 31, has an assist, a +2 rating in 9 NHL games this season.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

NHL news: Jets will lose Enstrom with injury

The Winnipeg Jets have had many pluses and minuses in the 2016-17 NHL season. A plus would be that rookie Patrik Laine has been nothing short of sensational, with 26 goals and 47 points in 51 games this year. He's also the youngest player in NHL history with 3 hatricks (2 against the Dallas Stars). Some minuses is that defenseman Tyler Myers has been out the last week, and should miss the next 5-7 weeks as well. Another minus is that the team is 5th in the Central division with points, and every other team has games in hand on them. The Nashville Predators, who are in 4th place, have 3 games in hand and 6 more points. Their defensive core took another big blow, when defenseman Toby Enstrom had surgery for an existing lower body injury, and will miss the next 2-3 weeks to recover. In 55 games this season, Enstrom has 1 goal and 13 assists (14 points) and is a -3. Enstrom, 32, has played his entire career with the franchise, making his debut in 2007-08 with the Atlanta Thrashers (who then relocated to become the Jets). With the injuries of Myers and Enstrom, the Jets have made a lot of call ups, and guys like Ben Chiarot, Paul Postma and Julian Melchiori have gotten chances with the big club. "We just got to the point that we thought the rehab on it would be at least that long and at the end, we still wouldn't know if we would have a healthy player," head coach Paul Maurice on said on the injury.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MLB news: Cards top prospect Reyes to miss 2017 with injury

The St. Louis Cardinals had high hopes for prospect Alex Reyes in 2017. Those hopes are entirely gone, because an MRI showed that Reyes will need Tommy John surgery, and will miss the entire 2017 season. Reyes is ranked as the league's 14th best prospect overall, and 3rd pitching prospect by MLB pipeline. "Hopefully he'll be back better than ever. It's obviously very disappointing," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said. "[We] had high expectations for him. But I guess if you're going to look at it from a timing standpoint, now he has a year to do his rehab and get everything he's dealing with under control." Reyes, 22, showed lots of promise in his first stint in the MLB, with an ERA of 1.57, a WHIP of 1.21, and 52 Ks in just 46 innings last season. It's a little of a surprise that Reyes dominated in the MLB last year, because in 2016, Reyes also made his AAA debut, with a putrid 4.96 ERA and 1.45 WHIP with 93 Ks (which is REALLY good) in just 65.1 innings, but the Ks did point out a positive spot with Memphis (AAA).
     Reyes was supposed to be in the starting rotation in 2017, joining with SPs Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Mike Leake. The injury opens up a spot for Lance Lynn, who is recovering from Tommy John himself. Lynn was very good last time he played in the majors (2015). He had an ERA of 3.03, won 12 games, and struck out 167 batters in 175.1 innings that year. Prospect Luke Weaver, struggled late last season (it was his first stint in the majors) with an ERA of 5.70. He struck out 45 in just 36.1 innings in the majors. We'll need to wait and see if the Cards can still have a solid 2017 campaign, and if Reyes can return to his form in 2018.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NHL News: Habs fire Therrien, replace him with Julien

   The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Michel Therrien, and have replaced him with former Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien. It is also the second time the Habs have fired Therrien and replaced him with Julien after the same thing happened in 2003. Julien coached Montreal until 2006. Two current Habs were on that '06 team Julien coached: D Andrei Markov and F Tomas Plekanec. It is exactly one week after Julien was fired by the Bruins. "I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over eight seasons behind the bench," Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin said. "Including the last 5 seasons when we worked together. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him." Therrien was head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-2009, but was fired on February 15, 2009, and replaced by Dan Bylsma, who led them to a Cup win vs Detroit later that year.
    The Habs started off 13-1-1 this season, but are 18-18-7 since. Even after Sunday's 4-0 shutout loss to the Bruins, the Habs still remain first in the Atlantic division with a record of 31-19-8 (70 points). Julien won the Jack Adams award in 2009 (while Therrien was fired) and the Stanley Cup in 2011, both with the Bruins, during his tenure in Boston. "I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. Claude Julien is an experienced and well respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track," Bergervin also stated.

Monday, February 13, 2017

MLB offseason update: Royals rebuilding rotation after tragedy, sign Wood

  On January 22, 2017, tragedy shook the world, especially the Kansas City Royals organization with the death of 25 year old pitcher Yordano "ace" Ventura. It also drew a big hole in the Royals' starting rotation. They have left hander Danny Duffy as their number one guy, and made a few moves to bolster their depth.
     First, they signed 34 year old RHP Jason Hammel to replace Ventura. Hammel, who won the World Series last year with the Chicago Cubs, had an ERA of 3.83 and a WHIP of 1.20 with 144 Ks in 166.2 IP last season to help the Cubs on that run. The deal is reported to be about 2 years, with a total salary of $16 million.
      Hammel wasn't the only former Cubs' pitcher who signed with Kansas City. Reliever/starter Travis Wood signed a 2 year, $12 million deal with KC, and will be expected to start this season after playing a reliever role in the windy city. Wood posted a 2.95 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 47 Ks in 61 innings (he made 77 appearances last year, all in relief) last campaign. Last year was also the first in his 7 year career he didn't start a single game.
       The Royals rotation also has depth. I expect Duffy to be their number one guy (like I said earlier), with Ian Kennedy filing in at the number 2 spot. I think Hammel will be the number 3 guy, and Wood at 4. Jason Vargas, who had a 2.25 ERA in just 12 innings, last year should slot in at number 5. Guys like Nathan Karns, Mike Minor and Chris Young will probably start in the bullpen in 2017, or at AAA Omaha. But, spring training is almost underway, and Karns, Minor or Young (or maybe someone else) could overtake Vargas or Wood for those last 2 rotation spots. The Royals have a top 100 pitching prospect in Kyle Zimmer, but he's never pitched above double A. The Royals might trade one of the 8 starters on the roster (but definitely not Duffy, Kennedy, Hammel or Wood) to clear a roster spot for other relievers, or position players. Until opening day, we'll have to wait and see how the Royals handle this situation.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

MLB trade alert: Reds send Phillips to Braves

   The Cincinnati Reds have traded 2B Brandon Phillips to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Andrew McKirahan and RHP Carlos Portuondo. Let's get into details.
    The Reds are obviously in a rebuild, trading for younger players, and shipping out stars Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Jay Bruce in recent years and SS Zack Cozart seems to be on the trading block. They also have prospects, like SS/2B Jose Peraza, who haven't had a starting job. Trading the 35 year old Phillips clears room for Peraza, and gets them 2 relievers (although they aren't big prospects) who can help them with minor league depth.
     The Braves have a top 3 2B prospect in Ozzie Albies, but he's isn't MLB ready. They signed utility man Sean Rodriguez to platoon at second with Jace Peterson. During this offseason, Rodriguez was injured in a car crash, and may require surgery in his shoulder. Braves wanted some insurance in the switch hitting Phillips. Phillips has 1 year left on his contract, and the Reds will eat up his $14 million that he's owed this season. They must have not had much confidence in 2B Micah Johnson. The 2 pitchers weren't relevant to their system, so it was worth giving them up if Phillips performs solidly. The Braves are starting to exit their rebuild, improving their rotation earlier this year. The Braves are opening a new stadium this season (Sun Trust Park), so they wanted Phillips to help bring in more fans with his 291/320/416 slash line last season. He also hit 11 HRs, 34 doubles, drove in 64 runs and stole 14 bags in that campaign.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

NHL/MLB news: Tigers, Wings owner Ilitch passes away

Ilitch (middle) with Stanley Cup.
  Today we mourn the death of Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Ilitch was born on July 20th, 1929. In 1952, he became an infielder for the Jamestown Falcons, a Tigers affiliate. While playing for Single A Charlotte (an affiliate for the then Washington Senators), Ilitch injured his knee, ending his career. In 1959, he founded Little Caesars Pizza, making him a billionaire. In 1982, Ilitch acquired the Wings, and did the same with the Tigers 10 years later in 1992. The Wings currently have a 25 year streak of making the playoffs, lifting the Stanley Cup four times. The Tigers made the playoffs 5 times with Ilitch as owner, but no matter how hard he tried, Ilitch failed to bring a 5th World Series to the city of Detroit. "I worked for Mr. I as both a player and as a manager. I can honestly say it was an honor to work for a man who made winning the priority," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Baseball is a business, but Mr. I was a baseball player who became a businessman. He loved baseball, and my memories will always be centered around the passion with which he talked about." Many Red Wings and Tigers players tweeted out their condolences to the Ilitch family. The Red Wings are going to play in a new arena next season - Little Caesars arena. Ilitch was 87 years old.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Around the NHL: Caps' Burakovsky to miss time with injury

  The Washington Capitals have been rolling this season. They are first in the NHL with 82 points. They have a 11 game home winning streak, and have scored 5 or more goals in the last 10 of those 11 games. But in their 6-3 win against Detroit, LW Andre Burakovsky was hit in the hand from a slap shot by Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, and left the game and never came back. Coach Barry Trotz confirmed that Burakovsky will be out until late March, or 4-6 weeks. "It's part of the game," Trotz said. "It's part of the process. You can't control that. People get hurt in this game. We've been very fortunate not to have a lot of injuries. It will be a good test." Burakovsky, who turned 22 Thursday (the day of the injury), has 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points in 52 games this season. He is a +15 this year also. After being a healthy scratch for 3 games in December, Burakovsky has 19 points in 25 games.
    The Wings also had an injury in the game. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will miss an approximant 6-8 weeks after center Niklas Backstrom hit him.
     Rookie Zach Sanford will get the chance to play Saturday vs Anaheim. He has 1 assist in 20 NHL games this season and 14 points (9 goals, 5 assists) in 24 games with Hershey (AHL). Trotz also said it's possible that the Caps will recall rookie Jakub Vrana from Hershey. Vrana has 1 goal and 2 assists (3 points) in 13 NHL games earlier this season.

Around the NHL: Wings lose defenseman Ericsson to injury, receive good news on Howard

The Detroit Red Wings' streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances looks to be coming to an end. With 54 points, the Wings are in a 3 way tie for last in the Eastern Conference (and in the Atlantic division) with the Buffalo Sabres and the Tampa Bay Lightning. D Jonathan Ericsson will also miss the next 6-8 weeks with a fractured wrist, head coach Jeff Blashill said. "I don't have a total timetable, but I know it's a fractured wrist so to me that would put him in that frame," Blashill also said. Ericsson was injured in the Red Wings' 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday on a boarding hit from Center Niklas Backstrom. Ericsson has 1 goal and 8 assists for 9 points and is a -2 this season. The goon also has 63 PIM in that span.
    Good news for the Wings did occur Friday, though. Goalie Jimmy Howard was rehabbing for Grand Rapids (AHL) on Wednesday, when he tweaked his sprained right knee (which was the original injury). Luckily for the Wings, he is listed as just day to day currently. "I don't think it's anything serious. It's still day to day right now. We'll see where it's at," said Blashill after Howard was re-evaluated Thursday. He hasn't played for the Wings since December 20th, vs Tampa Bay, where he injured the knee.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

NHL Trade Deadline: Sneaky trade targets for March 1st

   Every year on NHL trade deadline day, we see many, many trades league wide. You might see guys who you expected to be dealt change sweaters, but also players who you didn't expect to be swapped traded. These players are guys who scouts track a lot, and if they like that specific player, they'll give the club who they work for feedback. Here are some sneaky trade targets for the next couple of weeks.
    1. Devante Smith Pelly. The 24 year old winger was traded both in 2015 AND 2016 deadlines, going from the Ducks to the Canadiens, and now with the Devils. The Devils are in that wild chase for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 56 points, but if the club drops off, GM Ray Shero should consider trading DSP, who is owed $1.3 mil at the end of this year and next year.
    2. Patrik Berglund. The Blues seem to be sellers, and if they are, Berglund should be dealt. A Berglund trade is overshadowed by the rumors of all star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk leaving town. Berglund is owed about $3.7 million this season, and can fit nicely into a contender's lineup, like the Columbus Blue Jackets.
     3. P.A. Parenteau. Like Smith Pelly, the only reason this trade would be a thing is if the Devils drop off. Parenteau signed with the New York Islanders on July 2nd, a 1 year deal worth $1.25 million. Shockingly, the Isles placed him on waivers, where New Jersey claimed him. Since then, he's had a good season. Like Berglund, a contender can trade for him.
     4. Ron Hainsey. The Carolina Hurricanes are last in the Metro division, but are still in the playoff race. If they drop off even more, they can deal the 35 year old. When Hainsey signed a 3 year deal with Carolina in 2014-15, the deal included a modified NMC, which had Hainsey submit a list of 15 teams he could be traded to. If you think the Hurricanes couldn't pull a deal off, they did ship off 36 year old John Michael Liles to Boston last deadline.
      5. Jordan Martinook/Michael Stone. This one includes 2 Coyotes, because I think they could be packaged in the same deal. Martinook will be a RFA on July 1st, and could be solid depth for another team. This deal can work out like the Shane Prince deal worked out for the Islanders last season. Stone can be a solid top 4 defenseman for any team, and a solid rental player, as he is a UFA this July. He can be moved to the 3rd d-pairing if his team is good enough.
       6. Tyler Johnson. The Bolts are suffering a disappointing season, and Ben Bishop, their no. 1 goalie for many years, will probably be gone soon. Johnson is a UFA this July, and could win a different team a Cup. The Bolts can get some solid prospects in return. Johnson can fit well in Nashville.
       March 1st is only about 3 weeks away, so if these players are traded, it will be soon. (I'll probably write about the trade, if there is one).

NHL news: Coyotes make apparent tour of Portland, Seattle for new home

   The Arizona Coyotes have apparently toured new arenas in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, according to the Glendale Star. The Coyotes have faced criticism for being an ice hockey team in the desert ever since the Winnipeg Jets relocated there in 1996. In 2015, the Glendale City Council voted to end their lease agreement with the Coyotes at Gila River Arena, their home since 2003. Arizona State University tried to move the team to Tempe, stirring up more relocation rumors. "Recent reports by the Glendale Star that the Coyotes ownership group has explored arena options outside the Arizona market are completely false," team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc stated Wednesday. "The Star referenced an anonymous arena source and an anonymous Coyotes source, and these are a fabrication. The Coyotes are focused on creating one of the most taxpayer-friendly facilities in the country here in the Valley. This new arena will pay for itself, create jobs and generate millions of dollars of revenue for the state, county and municipality where it's built. We are fully committed to Arizona." The Coyotes are second to last in both the Western Conference and the National Hockey League (they are dead last in the Pacific division) with 40 points (and a record of 17-28-6).    

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

NHL news: Havlat calls it a career

   Forward Martin Havlat has announced his retirement from the NHL after 14 seasons. He played 2 games in 2016 with the St. Louis Blues, his last in the league. In the offseason and during the season, Havlat fought for a contract offer from a team, but never received one. The 35 year old played for the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils, and the Blues in a career that started in the '00-'01 season. He was drafted 26th overall by the Sens in 1999. He was also part of the Czech Republic team that won gold in the 2000 IIHF world championship. He had 242 goals and 352 assists for 594 points in 790 NHL games. "That was fast. I feel like I was just getting started in the NHL a short while ago," Havlat said. "I would love to continue playing but my body will not allow me to play at the level I expect from myself. I feel very fortunate to play in the NHL for 14 years. Rest assured, I am retiring as a grateful man. I will miss playing in the game I love so much. It is time to start a new chapter in my life." Havlat was a Calder trophy finalist in '00-'01 and was recently named to the Sens 25th anniversary team, which was decided by fans. His best season might of been '08-'09 with the Blackhawks, where he set career highs in assists (48), points (77), and plus-minus (+29). He was named team MVP that season for his efforts. .