Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vancouver Canucks 2018-19 season preview



              As the 2017-18 season ended, the Vancouver Canucks saw their team get even worse, as Henrik and Daniel Sedin announced their retirement. But, it gives them a chance to look towards Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and others to expand their farm system. It's a dark time in Vancouver. Let's look at some fast facts for the Canucks.

Head Coach: Travis Green
General Manager: Jim Benning
Arena: Rogers Arena
AHL Affiliate: Utica Comets
2017-18 record: 31-40-11 (73 points)
2017-18 placement: 7th
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Brock Boeser (29)
2017-18 assists leader: Henrik Sedin (47)
2017-18 points leader: Brock Boeser, Daniel Sedin (55)
2017-18 points leader (defensemen): Alex Edler (34)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Brandon Sutter, Michael Del Zotto
2018 first round pick: Quinn Hughes


Offseason additions: Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Tim Schaller

Offseason subtractions: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Jussi Jokinen, Derek Dorsett, Nic Dowd, Darren Archibald, Patrick Wiercioch

Forwards: With Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Brock Boeser moving up to the first line, Elias Petterson and Nikolay Goldbin take their spots on the second line. Veterans Loui Eriksson and Brandon Sutter need to step it up, as they combined for just 21 goals last year. The fourth line is tight, with Jake Virtanen, Tim Schaller, Adam Gaudette and Markus Granlund fighting for two spots.

Forward lines:

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser
Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Loui Eriksson
Markus Granlund - Brandon Sutter - Sam Gagner
Antoine Roussel - Jay Beagle - Jake Virtanen
Other: Adam Gaudette, Tim Schaller, Brendan Leipsic

Defensemen: Alex Edler and Chris Tanev combine for the league's worst top pair. Olli Juolevi might finally make the team. Erik Gudbranson is actually fighting for his job, with Derrick Pouliot. It isn't a good core.

Defensive pairs:

Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto - Olli Juolevi
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Other: Derrick Pouliot, Troy Stecher

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom is still the starter, but Thatcher Demko is coming for him. It will be Demko's job next year.

Goalie alignment:

Jacob Markstrom
Anders Nilsson
Other: Thatcher Demko

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Brock Boeser
Bo Horvat
Sven Baertschi
Elias Pettersson
Sam Gagner

Playoffs: No
Division: 8th

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Toronto Maple Leafs 2018-19 season preview



             After blowing game seven in the first round of the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded, signing John Tavares, but losing James van Riemsdyk. Finally a good team, ket's look at some fast facts for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Head Coach: Mike Babcock
General Manager: Kyle Dubas
Arena: Scotiabank Arena
AHL Affiliate: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 record: 49-26-7 (105 points)
2017-18 placement: 3rd
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: James van Riemsdyk (36)
2017-18 assists leader: Mitch Marner, Jake Gardiner (47)
2017-18 points leader: Mitch Marner (69)
2017-18 points leader (defensemen): Jake Gardiner, Morgan Reilly (52)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Patrick Marleau, Morgan Reilly, John Tavares
2018 first round pick: Rasmus Sandin

Offseason additions: John Tavares, Tyler Ennis, Josh Jooris

Offseason subtractions: James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Roman Polak, Matt Martin, Tomas Plekanec, Dominic Moore

Forwards: John Tavares and Auston Matthews form one of the best center duos in the league. Mitch Marner and William Nylander play alongside both of them. Andreas Johnsson and Carl Grundstrom are two rookies making their rookie seasons. There is a lot of good, young players that can score.

Forward lines:

Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - William Nylander
Andreas Johnsson - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Josh Leivo - Carl Grundstrom - Connor Brown
Other: Par Lindholm, Tyler Ennis

Defensemen: Jake Gardiner and Morgan Reilly both finished with 52 points, but with Gardiner entering a contract year, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Ron Hainsey is fighting with Andreas Borgman for a spot. Nikita Zaitsev and Travis Dermott seem to be pretty safe.

Defensive pairs:

Morgan Reilly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Travis Dermott
Nikita Zaitsev - Connor Carrick
Other: Andreas Borgman

Goalies: Entering his third year as starter, Frederik Andersen is arguably a top 15 goalie. Curtis McElhinney is still his backup, but Garrett Sparks isn't far behind.

Goalie alignment:

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney
Other: Garrett Sparks

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Auston Matthews
John Tavares
Mitch Marner
William Nylander
Morgan Reilly

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 3rd
I think the Maple Leafs will be eliminated in the first round.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Tampa Bay Lightning 2018-19 season preview



           In what ended up as one of the best regular seasons in team history, the Tampa Bay Lightning ended up going to the third round of the playoffs, but fell to the Washington Capitals. They followed that up by not doing anything in the offseason. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Head Coach: Jon Cooper
General Manager: Julien BriseBois
Arena: Amalie Arena
AHL Affiliate: Syracuse Crunch
2017-18 record: 54-23-5 (113 points)
2017-18 placement: 1st
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Nikita Kucherov (39)
2017-18 assists leader: Nikita Kucherov (61)
2017-18 points leader: Nikita Kucherov (100)
2017-18 points leader (defensemen): Victor Hedman (63)
Captain: Steven Stamkos
Assistant Captains: Ondrej Palat, Ryan Callahan
2018 first round pick: None, picked Gabriel Fortier 59th overall

Offseason additions: Andy Andreoff

Offseason subtractions: Chris Kunitz, Andrej Sustr, Matthew Peca, Peter Budaj

Forwards: Nikita Kucherov broke out in 2017-18, showing that he is a superstar. He and Steven Stamkos combined for 186 points on the top line. Brayden Point also broke out, showing he could be a second line center. Yanni Gourde scored an impressive 25 goals as a rookie. JT Miller returns, after being nearly a point per game player after a trade from New York. Anthony Cirelli makes his rookie season, after an impressive 18 games last year.

Forward lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
JT Miller - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Yanni Gourde
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Andy Andreoff
Other: Cory Conacher
Injured: Ryan Callahan

Defensemen: Victor Hedman is coming off a Norris winning season. He's also got Anton Stralman and Ryan McDonagh with him. Mikhail Sergachev is looking to avoid a sophomore slump. With vets Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn on the bottom pair, this is one good core.

Defensive pairs:

Victor Hedman - Mikhail Sergachev
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Dan Girardi - Braydon Coburn
Other: Slater Koekkoek

Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy had an amazing 2017-18 season. The Lightning believe in Louis Domingue to be his backup.

Goalie alignment:

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Louis Domingue


Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos
Ondrej Palat
Victor Hedman
JT Miller

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 1st

I think the Tampa Bay Lightning will be eliminated in the Stanley Cup finals.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

San Jose Sharks 2018-19 season preview



             In another successful season, the San Jose Sharks hit 100 points for the first time since 2013-14. The followed that by trading for the league's top defenseman, Erik Karlsson, making them cup contenders. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the San Jose Sharks.

Head Coach: Peter DeBoer
General Manager: Doug Wilson
Arena: SAP Center
AHL Affiliate: San Jose Barracuda
2017-18 record: 45-27-10 (100 points)
2017-18 placement: 3rd
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Logan Couture (34)
2017-18 assists leader: Brent Burns (55)
2017-18 points leader: Brent Burns (67)
2017-18 points leader (defensemen): Brent Burns (67)
Captain: Joe Pavelski
Assistant Captains: Logan Couture, Joe Thornton
2018 first round pick: Ryan Merkley

Offseason additions: Erik Karlsson

Offseason subtractions: Mikkel Boedker, Chris Tierney, Jannik Hansen, Joel Ward, Dylan DeMelo, Eric Fehr, Paul Martin, Rudolfs Balcers

Forwards: Joe Thornton comes off an injury riddled season, and Joe Pavelski scored just 22 goals in 2017-18. Now playing with Evander Kane full-time, the Joes could see an improvement. Logan Couture is coming off a 34 goal season, and will play alongside Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, who both survived the Karlsson trade. Joonas Donskoi is coming off a down year.

Forward lines:

Evander Kane - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl - Logan Couture - Timo Meier
Joonas Donskoi - Melker Karlsson - Kevin LaBanc
Marcus Sorenson - Antti Suomela - Barclay Goodrow

Defensemen: Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson are arguably the two best defenseman in the game. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is top 20. This is a top 2 defensive core in the league.

Defensive pairs:

Joakim Ryan - Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Erik Karlsson
Brendon Dillon - Justin Braun
Other: Tim Heed

Goalies: Martin Jones is coming off a down season. But, Aaron Dell is sneakily one of the better backups in hockey. This is one of the league's more interesting tandems.

Goalie alignment:

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell
Other: Antoine Bibeau

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Joe Pavelski
Erik Karlsson
Brent Burns
Evander Kane
Logan Couture

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 1st
I think the San Jose Sharks will be eliminated in the third round of the playoffs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

St. Louis Blues 2018-19 season preview



                After a disappointing season where they missed the playoffs by one game, the St. Louis Blues went out and had one of the best offseasons any team had this year. They fixed their center problems, and didn't mess up their good defensive core. Before we look at their roster, here's some fast facts for the St. Louis Blues.

Head Coach: Mike Yeo
General Manager: Doug Armstrong
Arena: Scottrade Center
AHL Affiliate: San Antonio Rampage
2017-18 record: 44-32-6 (94 points)
2017-18 placement: 5th
Division: Central
2017-18 goals leader: Vladimir Tarasenko (33)
2017-18 assists leader: Brayden Schenn (42)
2017-18 points leader: Brayden Schenn (70)
2017-18 points leader (defensemen): Alex Pietrangelo
Captain: Alex Pietrangelo
Assistant Captains: Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen
2018 first round pick: Dominik Bokk

Offseason additions: Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron, Patrick Maroon, Tyler Bozak, Chad Johnson, Jordan Nolan

Offseason subtractions: Carter Hutton, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, Kyle Brodziak, Scottie Upshall, Beau Bennett

Forwards: Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz already formed a good first line. But, the team always lacked in center depth. Enter Ryan O'Reilly and Tyler Bozak, plus the awaited debut of Robert Thomas, and now it's one of the league's best cores. David Perron and Patrick Maroon are two good top-9 wingers that were brought in. After missing 18 months, Robby Fabbri finally returns.

Forward lines:

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrick Maroon - Ryan O'Reilly - Alexander Steen
Robby Fabbri - Tyler Bozak - David Perron
Ivan Barbashev - Robert Thomas - Dmitrij Jaskin
Other: Nikita Soshnikov, Oskar Sundqvist

Defensemen: Alex Pietrangelo had a great start, and looked like a Norris contender at times in 2017-18. Colton Parakyo has established himself as a good top-4 defenseman. While Jay Bouwmeester fell off, Joel Edmundson arose last year. Carl Gunnarsson and Vince Dunn fill out the last two spots.

Defensive pairs:

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parakyo
Carl Gunnarsson - Vince Dunn
Other: Robert Bortuzzo, Jordan Schmaltz

Goalies: Losing Carter Hutton after his breakout season hurts, but they trust Jake Allen. They even trust Chad Johnson to be his backup, over Steve Mason and Kari Lehtonen. This is their biggest weakness.

Goalie alignment:

Jake Allen
Chad Johnson
Other: Ville Husso

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Vladimir Tarasenko
Ryan O'Reilly
Brayden Schenn
Jaden Schwartz
Alex Pietrangelo

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 3rd

I think the St. Louis Blues will be eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Pittsburgh Penguins 2018-19 season preview



          After two consecutive Stanley Cup victories, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally lost to the Washington Capitals in the playoffs. But this year, the Penguins look to create a dynasty, if they can win three cups in four years. Before we look at their roster, let's look at some fast facts for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Head Coach: Mike Sullivan
General Manager: Jim Rutherford
Arena: PPG Paints Arena
AHL Affiliate: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins
2017-18 record: 47-29-6 (100 points)
2017-18 placement: 2nd
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Evgeni Malkin (42)
2017-18 assists leader: Sidney Crosby (60)
2017-18 points leader: Evgeni Malkin (98)
2017-18 points leader (defensemen): Kris Letang (51)
Captain: Sidney Crosby
Assistant Captains: Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang
2018 first round pick: None, selected Calen Addison 53rd overall

Offseason additions: Jack Johnson, Matt Cullen, Jimmy Hayes, Derek Grant

Offseason subtractions: Conor Sheary, Matt Hunwick, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney.

Forwards: the Penguins will keep on winning with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the top two centers. They even have Phil Kessel and Derick Brassard on the third line. Don't forget about Jake Guentzal and Patric Hornqvist. Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese are two young players who will get a big chance. This is a really good group.

Forward lines:

Jake Guentzal - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Bryan Rust - Evgeni Malkin - Daniel Sprong
Carl Hagelin - Derick Brassard - Phil Kessel
Zach Aston-Reese - Matt Cullen - Riley Sheahan
Other: Dominik Simon, Derek Grant

Defensemen: Kris Letang is a first pairing defenseman, but needs to stay healthy. Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Olli Maatta are top-4 guys. They paid Jack Johnson a lot, but I think he's a third liner at best. The Pens saw good things out of Jamie Oleksiak after getting him midseason from Dallas.

Defensive pairs:

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Justin Schultz
Jack Johnson - Jamie Oleksiak
Other: Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies: Matt Murray is entering his second season of being a full time starter. Now, he has number two prospect Tristan Jarry backing him up. Casey Desmith played a little last year, but is an AHL goalie.

Goalie alignment:

Matt Murray
Tristan Jarry
Other: Casey Desmith

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Sidney Crosby
Evgeni Malkin
Phil Kessel
Derick Brassard
Patric Hornqvist

Playoffs: Yes
Division: third
I think the Pittsburgh Penguins will be eliminated in the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Philadelphia Flyers 2018-19 season preview



            In a surprise season that saw Claude Giroux regain his identity, the Philadelphia Flyers made it to the playoffs, only to be eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1st round. They followed that by signing the second best free agent out there in James van Riemsdyk. Before we look at their roster, here's some fast facts for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol
General Manager: Ron Hextall
Arena: Wells Fargo Center
AHL Affiliate: Lehigh Valley Phantoms
2017-18 record: 42-26-14 (98 points)
2017-18 placement: 3rd
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Claude Giroux (34)
2017-18 assists leader: Claude Giroux (68)
2017-18 points leader: Claude Giroux (102)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Shayne Gostisbehere (65)
Captain: Claude Giroux
Assistant Captains: Wayne Simmonds, Andrew MacDonald
2018 first round pick: Joel Farabee, Jay O'Brien

Offseason additions: James van Riemsdyk, Christian Folin

Offseason subtractions: Valtteri Filppula, Petr Mrazek, Brandon Manning, Matt Read, Johnny Oduya

Forwards: After great seasons from Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, this is a good offense. Adding James van Riemsdyk helps a lot too. Wayne Simmonds can score another 35 goals when healthy. Nolan Patrick moves into the top six, but Travis Konecny is still really good for the third line. Morgan Frost and German Rubtsov are coming, but are still a year away. Oskar Lindblom is another name to look out for.

Forward lines:

Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk - Nolan Patrick - Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom - Jordan Weal -Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl - Scott Laughton - Dale Weise
Other: Jori Lehtera

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere finished fourth in defensive points in a comeback season. Ivan Provorov took big strides as well, with 17 goals. Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim will get a full year this year, as Phillipe Myers and Sam Morin look towards 2019-20. Radko Gudas and Andrew MacDonald are the vets of the group.

Defensive pairs:

Shayne Gostisbehere - Ivan Provorov
Robert Hagg - Radko Gudas
Travis Sanheim - Andrew MacDonald
Other: Christian Folin

Goalies: Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott are both coming off surgery, and in a contract year. This will probably be their last year in Philly, as Carter Hart and Alex Lyon are knocking on the door for 2019-20.

Goalie alignment:

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth
Other: Carter Hart, Alex Lyon

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Claude Giroux
Jakub Voracek
Sean Couturier
James van Riemsdyk
Shayne Gostisbehere/Wayne Simmonds

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 4th
I think the Philadelphia Flyers will be eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ottawa Senators 2018-19 season preview



             After trading their first round pick, Kyle Turris and Shane Bowers as part of the package for Matt Duchene, the Ottawa Senators fell. They ended up finishing 30th overall, and would have been last in every division except their own. To top things off, their best player Erik Karlsson's wife filed a case against second best player Mike Hoffman's girlfriend for harassment, which ended in both being dealt to the San Jose Sharks, only to have Hoffman being traded back to their division. Their best player now, Mark Stone, reportedly requested a trade. It's a very dark side in Ottawa. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the Ottawa Senators.

Head Coach: Guy Boucher
General Manager: Pierre Dorion
Arena: Canadian Tire Centre
AHL Affiliate: Belleville Senators
2017-18 record: 28-43-11 (67 points)
2017-18 placement: 7th
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel (23)
2017-18 assists leader: Erik Karlsson (53)
2017-18 points leader: Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone (62)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Zack Smith, Mark Stone
2018 first round pick: Brady Tkachuk, Jacob Bernard-Docker

Offseason additions: Mikkel Boedker, Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Rudolfs Balcers, Mike McKenna

Offseason subtractions: Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Alexandre Burrows, Frederik Claesson, Chris DiDomenico

Forwards: Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Mark Stone are good, but form one of hockey's worst first lines. Chris Tierney will get boosted to second line center, and play alongside 4th overall pick Brady Tkachuk. Drake Batherson and Logan Brown didn't make the team, but Alex Formenton likely will. Jean-Gabriel Pageau's injury hurts. Colin White will get a fourth line center gig, as Formenton fights Tom Pyatt and Magnus Paajarvi for the wing spot.

Forward lines:

Ryan Dzingel - Matt Duchene - Mark Stone
Brady Tkachuk - Chris Tierney - Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith - Filip Chlapik - Mikkel Boedker
Magnus Paajarvi - Colin White - Alex Formenton
Other: Marian Gaborik, Tom Pyatt, Max McCormick
Injured: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Clarke MacArthur

Defensemen: It doesn't look pretty at all. Cody Ceci is their only top-4 defenseman, but Thomas Chabot has the potential to be one. So does Christian Wolanin. Chris Wideman and Dylan DeMelo are two right side bottom pair defensemen playing. Mark Borowiecki is highly liked by owner Eugene Melnyk, and will only be a bottom pair guy.

Defensive pairs:

Thomas Chabot - Cody Ceci
Christian Wolanin - Chris Wideman
Mark Borowiecki - Dylan DeMelo
Other: Ben Harpur

Goalies: At 37, Craig Anderson is not as good as he used to be. Or close to that. Mike Condon saw regression as well. Like last year, it's very dark time in Ottawa.

Goalie alignment:

Craig Anderson
Mike Condon

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Mark Stone
Matt Duchene
Ryan Dzingel
Filip Chlapik
Bobby Ryan/Cody Ceci

Playoffs: Hell no
Division: 8th

Saturday, September 22, 2018

New York Rangers 2018-19 season preview



           In a lost season, the New York Rangers traded Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Nick Holden, Rick Nash and Michael Grabner at the trade deadline, buffing their farm system, adding Brett Howden, Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren. They also entered the draft with three first round picks. This is now a dark time in New York, as the Rangers and Islanders are both very bad. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the New York Rangers.

Head Coach: Dan Quinn
General Manager: Jeff Gorton
Arena: Madison Square Garden
AHL Affiliate: Hartford Wolf Pack
2017-18 record: 34-39-9 (77 points)
2017-18 placement: 8th
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Mika Zibanejad (27)
2017-18 assists leader: Mats Zuccarello (37)
2017-18 points leader: Mats Zuccarello (53)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Ryan McDonagh (26)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Marc Staal
2018 first round pick: Vitali Kravtsov, K'andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist

Offseason additions: Frederik Claesson, Adam McQuaid, Dustin Tokarski

Offseason subtractions: David Desharnais, Ondrej Pavalec, Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer, Ryan Sproul

Forwards: Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello form a decent top line on an otherwise lackluster group. Vladislav Namestnikov, Jimmy Vesey and Ryan Spooner have lots to prove. Pavel Buchnevich showed he was a top-6 winger in 2017-18. Their two first round picks in 2017, Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil will receive big chances this year at 19.

Forward lines:

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Vladislav Namestnikov - Kevin Hayes - Pavel Buchnevich
Jimmy Vesey - Filip Chytil - Ryan Spooner
Vinni Letteri - Lias Andersson - Jesper Fast
Other: Peter Holland, Cody McLeod

Defenseman. Lackluster left side, strong right side. The right side has their three best defensemen, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei, and Neal Pionk, who impressed with 14 points in 28 games last year. Guys like Tony DeAngelo, Rob O'Gara and Frederik Claesson will get hurt by Marc Staal and Brendan Smith's big contracts, and will need to fight them off.

Defensive pairs:

Neal Pionk - Kevin Shattenkirk
Marc Staal - Brady Skjei
Rob O'Gara - Tony DeAngelo
Other: Brendan Smith, Frederik Claesson

Goalies:

Now 36, Henrik Lundqvist isn't as good as he used to be. The future is 22 year old backup Alexander Georgiev. Dustin Tokarski and Marek Mazanec fight for the third goalie role.

Goalie alignment:

Henrik Lundqvist
Alexander Georgiev
Other: Dustin Tokarski, Marek Mazanec

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Mats Zuccarello
Mika Zibanejad
Pavel Buchnevich
Chris Kreider
Filip Chytil

Playoffs: No
Division: 8th

New York Islanders 2018-19 season preview



              In a very disappointing season, the New York Islanders lost big, made big management changes, had a great draft, only to have the worst offseason in the league, losing John Tavares and Calvin de Haan. Before we look at what is left of the team, here's some fast facts for the New York Islanders.

Head Coach: Barry Trotz
General Manager: Lou Lamoriello
Arena: Barclays Center, NYCB Live
AHL Affiliate: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
2017-18 record: 35-37-10 (80 points)
2017-18 placement: 7th
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Anders Lee (40)
2017-18 assists leader: Mat Barzal (63)
2017-18 points leader: Mat Barzal (85)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Nick Leddy (42)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Cal Clutterbuck, Andrew Ladd (will change)
2018 first round pick: Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson

Offseason additions: Robin Lehner, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Jan Kovar, Valtteri Filppula, Tom Kuhnhackl, Luca Sbisa

Offseason subtractions: John Tavares, Calvin de Haan, Jaroslav Halak, Chris Wagner, Nikolay Kulemin, Brandon Davidson, Alan Quine

Forwards: with 85 points, Mat Barzal won the 2017-18 Calder trophy. Anders Lee scored 40 goals, and Anthony Beauvillier made big strides with 20. Jordan Eberle played great alongside Barzal, adding 25 goals and 59 points. Josh Ho-Sang and Valtteri Filppula should play, but since they are paying Andrew Ladd, Leo Komarov, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin so much money, they have to play over them. Jan Kovar was almost a point per game player in the KHL. He could be the third line center. Now really overpaid, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin are reunited.

Forward lines:

Anders Lee - Mat Barzal - Jordan Eberle
Brock Nelson - Anthony Beauvillier - Josh Bailey
Leo Komarov - Jan Kovar - Andrew Ladd
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Other: Valtteri Filppula, Josh Ho-Sang

Defensemen: The worst group from last year, the Isles were the worst in the league in goals against a game, with 3.57. They were also the worst penalty killing unit, with a lousy 73.2% success rate. Nick Leddy can be a good player offensively, but his defense is questionable. Ryan Pulock had a great rookie season, but Johnny Boychuk is falling off. Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield wouldn't play on most teams, and are blocking Sebastian Aho and Devon Toews.

Defensive pairs:

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey - Ryan Pulock
Adam Pelech - Scott Mayfield
Other: Sebastian Aho, Luca Sbisa

Goalies: Jaroslav Halak is out, Robin Lehner is in. Lehner needs to prove he can be a starter in the NHL. While Thomas Greiss is the backup, Christopher Gibson was impressive at the end of 2017-18. He could overtake Greiss at some point in the year.

Goalie alignment:

Robin Lehner
Thomas Greiss
Christopher Gibson

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Mat Barzal
Jordan Eberle
Josh Bailey
Anders Lee
Anthony Beauvillier

Playoffs: No
Division: 7th

Friday, September 21, 2018

New Jersey Devils 2018-19 season preview





          One of the league's most surprising teams, the Jersey Devils ended off 2017-18 with 97 points, and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12, only to fall to the Tampa Lightning in five games. But, big strides were made as Taylor Hall won the first Hart trophy in team history, 23 year old Will Butcher had a great rookie year, as did 19 year olds Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the New Jersey Devils.

Head Coach: John Hynes
General Manager: Ray Shero
Arena: Prudential Center
AHL Affiliate: Binghamton Devils
2017-18 record: 44-29-9
2017-18 placement: 5th
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Taylor Hall (39)
2017-18 assists leader: Taylor Hall (54)
2017-18 points leader: Taylor Hall (93)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Will Butcher (44)
Captain: Andy Greene
Assistant Captains: Travis Zajac, Brian Boyle, Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri
2018 first round pick: Ty Smith

Offseason additions: Eric Gryba.

Offseason subtractions: Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, John Moore, Brian Gibbons and Jimmy Hayes.

Forwards: Taylor Hall is one of hockey's best players. Nico Hischier is still growing. Kyle Palmieri can score 30 goals. They need Pavel Zacha to be top-6 center. He's a 3rd liner at best. Brian Boyle and Travis Zajac need to stay healthy. They have a decent winger core with Marcus Johansson, Jesper Bratt and Miles Wood. Michael McLeod and Joey Anderson will get some experience.

Forward lines:

Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Marcus Johansson - Travis Zajac - Jesper Bratt
Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - Stefan Noesen
Blake Coleman - Brian Boyle - Drew Stafford
Other: Blake Speers

Defenseman: they have a decent, young core led by Sami Vatanen, Will Butcher and Damon Severson. It's a big year for Mirco Mueller and Steven Santini. They could be gone by 2019-20.

Defensive pairs:

Andy Greene - Sami Vatanen
Will Butcher - Damon Severson
Mirco Mueller - Steven Santini
Other: Ben Lovejoy, Eric Gryba

Goalies: Cory Schneider is never healthy. That's why they need two backups, Keith Kinkaid and Eddie Lack. The organization trusts Kinkaid, who won a career high 26 games in 2017-18.

Goalie alignment:

Cory Schneider
Keith Kinkaid
Eddie Lack


 Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Taylor Hall
Kyle Palmieri
Will Butcher
Nico Hischier
Marcus Johansson

Playoffs: No
Division: 5th

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Nashville Predators 2018-19 season preview



            In a season where they finished with 117 points and a Presidents trophy, the Nashville Predators failed to win the first Stanley Cup in team history. They followed that up by having a boring offseason, not making many changes. Before we look at the few moves they made, here's a look at some fast facts for the Nashville Predators.

Head Coach: Peter Laviolette
General Manager: David Poile
Arena: Bridgestone Arena
AHL Affiliate: Milwaukee Admirals
2017-18 record: 53-18-11 (117 points)
2017-18 placement: 1st
Division: Central
2017-18 goals leader: Viktor Arvidsson (29)
2017-18 assists leader: PK Subban (43)
2017-18 points leader: Filip Forsberg (64)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): PK Subban (59)
Captain: Roman Josi
Assistant Captains: Ryan Ellis, Ryan Johansen, Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg
2018 first round pick: None, selected Jachym Kondelik 111th overall.

Offseason additions: Dan Hamhuis

Offseason subtractions: Scott Hartnell, Mike Fisher, Alexei Emelin

Forwards: Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson both failed to hit 30 goals, and Ryan Johansen had just 54 points. The defense carried them. Their depth on the wings is great. Viktor Arvidsson, Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman on the right side is pretty good. The highest scoring teenager in KHL history, Eeli Tolvanen comes to America looking to score. He'll get top-6 minutes.

Forward lines:

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson
Eeli Tolvanen - Kyle Turris - Kevin Fiala
Calle Jarnkrok - Nick Bonino - Ryan Hartman
Colton Sissons - Frederick Gaudreau - Craig Smith
Other: Mikko Salomaki
Suspended: Austin Watson

Defenseman: PK Subban and Roman Josi may not be the league's best defensive duo anymore (Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson), but they are both great players and all-stars. Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm are also really good players. Welcome to Nashville, where defensemen grow on trees.

Defensive pairs:

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - PK Subban
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Other: Matt Irwin, Anthony Bitetto

Goalies: Pekka Rinne is 35 and in the last year of his contract, but for now, he's still a great goalie. Juuse Saros is a young backup that can play 30 games if needed, if Rinne happens to go down.

Goalie alignment:

Pekka Rinne
Juuse Saros

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Filip Forsberg
Ryan Johansen
Roman Josi
Viktor Arvidsson
PK Subban

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 2nd
I think the Nashville Predators will be eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Montreal Canadiens 2018-19 season preview



          Following a 103 point 2016-17 finish, the Montreal Canadiens hit rock bottom in 2017-18, finishing with 32 less points. Many not so great trade are now shaping the team, and Carey Price's new contract is horrible. So is Shea Weber's. Brendan Gallagher is the squad best player. It's a dark time for the Habs. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the Montreal Canadiens.

Head Coach: Claude Julien
General Manager: Marc Bergevin
Arena: Bell Centre
AHL Affiliate: Laval Rocket
2017-18 record: 29-40-13
2017-18 placement: 6th
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Brendan Gallagher (31)
2017-18 assists leader: Jonathan Drouin (33)
2017-18 points leader: Brendan Gallagher (54)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Jeff Petry (42)
Captain: none
Assistant Captains: Brendan Gallagher, Shea Weber
2018 first round pick: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Offseason additions: Max Domi, Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, Tomas Plekanec, Joel Armia, Matthew Peca, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Suzuki

Offseason subtractions: Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Ales Hemsky, Dan Carr, Logan Shaw, Adam Cracknell

Forwards: Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk are out,  Max Domi and Tomas Tatar are in. Yes, that is very disappointing, but they are going to give younger players more chances. Phillip Danault is the second line center. Joel Armia will a second line winger/ Artturi Lehkonen and Nikita Scherbak are going to get a chance. Same with Charles Hudon. Matthew Peca will have to fight his way in, but could play 50 games this year.

Forward lines:

Max Domi - Jonathan Drouin - Brendan Gallagher
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danualt - Joel Armia
Artturi Lehkonen - Paul Byron - Andrew Shaw
Charles Hudon - Tomas Plekanec - Nikita Scherbak
Other: Jacob de la Rose, Matthew Peca, Nicolas Deslauriers

Defensemen: Shea Weber is overpaid, but can still be a top-2 defenseman. Jeff Petry is a top-4 defenseman. They are hoping that Victor Mete can be one too. Karl Alzner is a big disappointment, and is job is in jeopardy.

Defensive pairs:

Victor Mete - Shea Weber
David Schlemko - Jeff Petry
Karl Alzner - Jamie Benn
Other: Xavier Ouellet, Noah Juulsen, Mike Reilly

Goalies: Carey Price can not stay healthy. In 49 games last year, he was horrible, with a GAA over 3.00. Antti Niemi is the backup, but Charlie Lindgren is coming.

Goalie alignment:

Carey Price
Antti Niemi
Charlie Lindgren

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin
Tomas Tatar
Max Domi
Phillip Danualt

Playoffs: heck no
Division: 7th

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Minnesota Wild 2018-19 season preview



           After reaching the playoffs for a sixth straight season, GM Chuck Fletcher was booted, changing the way the Minnesota Wild run. But, the Wild didn't make any significant moves, nothing even close to trading away Marco Scandella for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno last offseason. Let's look at some fast facts for the Minnesota Wild.

Head Coach: Bruce Boudreau
General Manager: Paul Fenton
Arena: Xcel Energy Center
AHL Affiliate: Iowa Wild
2017-18 record: 45-26-11 (101 points)
2017-18 placement: 3rd
Division: Central
2017-18 goals leader: Eric Staal (42)
2017-18 assists leader: Mikael Granlund (46)
2017-18 points leader: Eric Staal (76)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Ryan Suter (51)
Captain: Mikko Koivu
Assistant Captains: Ryan Suter, Zach Parise
2018 first round pick: Filip Johansson

Offseason additions: JT Brown, Greg Pateryn, Eric Fehr, Matt Hendricks, Andrew Hammond, Matt Read, Matt Barkowski

Offseason subtractions: Tyler Ennis, Daniel Winnik, Matt Cullen, Kyle Quincey

Forwards: Eric Staal's rejuvenation was key for the Wild. Mikael Granlund had another great year. Jason Zucker's 33 goals surprised many. Unfortunately, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise were hurt and disappointed. Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin are three young players ready to play. Though, Kunin tore his ACL and is questionable for the start of the season, thus is why he isn't in the lines below.


Forward lines:

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Jason Zucker
Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
Jordan Greenway - Charlie Coyle - Joel Eriksson Ek
Marcus Foligno - Eric Fehr - JT Brown
Other: Matt Hendricks, Kyle Rau, Matt Read
Injured: Luke Kunin

Defensman: Ryan Suter: Ryan Suter is aging, but still playing half the game. Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba are still good top-4 defenseman, and all are in their prime, with Dumba and Brodin under 25, and Spurgeon at 28 years of age. Nick Seeler is a young, psychical defenseman coming up. Greg Pateryn will be his partner.

Defensive pairs:

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Nick Seeler - Greg Pateryn
Other: Nate Prosser

Goalies: Devan Dubnyk isn't as good as he used to be, but is still a good starter. Alex Stalock is a serviceable backup, and Andrew Hammond was once great, but now just a third goalie.


Goalie alignment:

Devan Dubnyk
Alex Stalock
Other: Andrew Hammond

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Mikael Granlund
Eric Staal
Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker
Ryan Suter

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 4th
I think the Minnesota Wild will once again, be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Los Angeles Kings 2018-19 season preview



              In a big bounce back year, the Los Angeles Kings finished made the playoffs again, but they scored just three goals in four games, and were swept by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. Bounce back years for Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown were huge for the team. This offseason, the Kings went to Russia and signed star Ilya Kovalchuk. Before we look into their team, here's some fast facts for the Los Angeles Kings.

Head Coach: John Stevens
General Manager: Rob Blake
Arena: Staples Center
AHL Affiliate: Ontario Reign
2017-18 record: 45-29-8
2017-18 placement: 4th
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Anze Kopitar (35)
2017-18 assists leader: Anze Kopitar (57)
2017-18 points leader: Anze Kopitar
2017-18 points leader (defensman): Drew Doughty (60)
Captain: Anze Kopitar
Assistant Captains: Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter
2018 first round pick: Rasmus Kupari

Offseason additions: Ilya Kovalchuk, Peter Budaj

Offseason subtractions: Tobias Rieder, Torrey Mitchell, Andy Andreoff, Scott Wedgewood, Christian Folin, Kevin Gravel.

Forwards: Anze Kopitar is a top five center in hockey, maybe even a top 10 player. If Ilya Kovalchuk can transfer nicely back to the NHL, and Dustin Brown repeats his 2017-18 campaign, than that is a lethal first line. Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson form the legendary 70s line. Alex Iafallo, Mike Amadio and Jonny Brodzinski can be underrated bottom six players, alongside veterans Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis.

Forward lines:

Ilya Kovalchuk - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Alex Iafallo - Adrian Kempe - Jonny Brodzinski
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Mike Amadio
Other: Nate Thompson

Defenseman: Drew Doughty is the third best defenseman in the league. Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez are both top 20 left defensemen. Dion Phaneuf can play top-4. Derek Forbort is really underrated. This is a good core.

Defensive pairs:

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez - Derek Forbort
Dion Phaneuf - Paul LaDue
Other: Dan Brickley, Oscar Fantenberg

Goalies: Jonathan Quick, when healthy, is among hockey's best goalies. Back again, Peter Budaj will back up Quick, with former first round pick Jack Campbell as the third goalie.

Goalie alignment:

Jonathan Quick
Peter Budaj
Other: Jack Campbell

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Anze Kopitar
Drew Doughty
Ilya Kovalchuk
Tyler Toffoli
Jeff Carter/Dustin Brown

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 4th
I think the Kings will be eliminated in the 2nd round of the postseason.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Florida Panthers 2018-19 season preview



            After missing the playoffs by one point in 2017-18, the Florida Panthers seek revenge in 2018-19. Knowing they have a good team, the Panthers didn't lose any key pieces, and acquired another top-6 winger in Mike Hoffman. Before we look into the roster, let's look at some fast facts for the Florida Panthers.

Head Coach: Bob Boughner
General Manager: Dale Tallon
Arena: BB&T Center
AHL Affiliate: Springfield Thunderbirds
2017-18 record: 44-30-8 (96 points)
2017-18 placement: 4th
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Vincent Trocheck (31)
2017-18 assists leader: Aleksander Barkov (51)
2017-18 points leader: Aleksander Barkov (78)
2017-18 points leader (defensman): Keith Yandle (56)
Captain: Derek MacKenzie
Assistant Captains: Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Keith Yandle
2018 first round pick: Grigori Denisenko

Offseason additions: Mike Hoffman, Troy Brouwer, Michael Hutchinson, Mark Letestu.

Offseason subtractions: Radim Vrbata, Harri Sateri, Connor Brickley.

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov was a point away from a point for game last year, cementing himself as a top-10 center in the league, at just 23. Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad return, both of whom have had injury issues in the past, before playing in their first 82 game season ever. Henrik Borgstrom will debut, as the third line center. Derek MacKenzie will be the only captain in the league to be a healthy scratch. There is a lot of potential in this team, as they might have the best forward depth in the league. Denis Malgin and Jared McCann especially. It's a fun group to watch.

Forward lines:

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Nick Bjugstad
Mike Hoffman - Vincent Trocheck - Evgenii Dadonov
Frank Vatrano - Henrik Borgstrom - Denis Malgin
Jamie McGinn - Jared McCann - Colton Sceviour
Other: Troy Brouwer, Derek MacKenzie, Maxim Mamim.

Defenseman: Keith Yandle's 56 points were very surprising, as he might have overtaken Aaron Ekblad as the top D on the team. Michael Matheson and Mark Pysyk are solid middle pair guys. They are relying on MacKenzie Weegar and Ian McCoshen to play bottom pair.

Defensive pairs:

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson - Mark Pysyk
MacKenzie Weegar - Ian McCoshen
Other: Alex Petrovic

Goalies: Roberto Luongo is 39, and may not be able to play at a high level for much longer. James Reimer is a good backup, and was a starter in Toronto.

Goalie alignment:

Roberto Luongo
James Reimer
Other: Michael Hutchinson

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Alexsander Barkov
Vincent Trocheck
Jonathan Huberdeau
Mike Hoffman
Nick Bjugstad

Playoffs: Yes
Division: 4th

I think the Panthers will be eliminated in the first round.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Edmonton Oilers 2018-19 season preview



         When Connor McDavid was named captain and lead the Oilers to a playoff spot in 2016-17, things were looking good for Edmonton. But, in 2017-18, Taylor Hall won the Hart in New Jersey, while Adam Larsson scored 13 points in 63 games, while the Oilers finished with a wimpy 78 points. They are hoping some players can get past their struggles in 2018-19. Let's look at some fast facts for the Edmonton Oilers.

Head Coach: Todd McLellan
General Manager: Peter Chiarelli
Arena: Rogers Place
AHL Affiliate: Bakersfield Condors
2017-18 record: 36-40-6 (78 points)
2017-18 placement: 6th
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Connor McDavid  (41)
2017-18 assists leader: Connor McDavid (67)
2017-18 points leader: Connor McDavid (108)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Darnell Nurse (26)
Captain: Connor McDavid
Assistant Captains: Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson
2018 first round pick: Evan Bouchard

Offseason additions: Tobias Rieder, Alex Chiasson, Kyle Brodziak, Mikko Koskinen, Jakub Jerabek

Offseason subtractions: Michael Cammalieri, Laurent Brossoit, Iiro Pakarinen, Eric Gryba, Yohann Auvitu

Forwards: Kailer Yamamoto might make the team. Connor McDavid is hockey's best player. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl are pretty good, and could be could top-6 players. Jesse Puljujarvi has things to prove this year. Ryan Strome does too, but I think he's already a bust. Milan Lucic had a really bad year, and needs to do more. This is a group that has a lot to work on.

Forward lines:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Connor McDavid - Drake Caggiula
Milan Lucic - Leon Draisaitl - Jesse Puljujarvi
Tobias Rieder - Ryan Strome - Kailer Yamamoto
Pontus Aberg - Kyle Brodziak - Ty Rattie
Other: Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Alex Chiasson

Defenseman: Another injury to Andrej Sekera will keep him out of the lineup for the beginning of the season. Adam Larsson, Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom could really use a bounce back year. Matt Benning is a solid bottom pair defenseman playing middle pair. Ethan Bear, Ryan Mantha, Jakub Jerabek, Kevin Gravel and Evan Bouchard are among those fighting for a spot. Darnell Nurse still hasn't come to camp, and is in need of a contract. It's an interesting situation to watch.

Defensive pairs:

Adam Larsson - Darnell Nurse
Oscar Klefbom - Matt Benning
Kris Russell - Ethan Bear
Other: Jakub Jerabek
Injured: Andrej Sekera

Goalies: Like his team, Cam Talbot had a really disappointing 2017-18 after a Vezina contending 2016-17. If the Oilers want to reach 80 points, Talbot needs to rebound. Mikko Koskinen signed a two year deal to return from the KHL. He hasn't seen NHL action since 2010-11, where he played in the only four games of action he's ever seen in the league.

Goalie alignment:

Cam Talbot
Mikko Koskinen
Other: Al Montoya

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Connor McDavid
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic
Kailer Yamamoto

Playoffs: No
Division: 6th

Friday, September 14, 2018

Detroit Red Wings 2018-19 season preview



           For the second straight season, the Detroit Red Wings failed to eclipse 80 points, and ended up drafting Filip Zadina 6th overall. But, they didn't make too many changes, adding veterans, without losing any. Let's look at some fast facts for the Detroit Red Wings.

Head Coach: Jeff Blashill
General Manager: Ken Holland
Arena: Little Caesars Arena
AHL Affiliate: Grand Rapids Griffins
2017-18 record: 30-39-13 (73 points)
2017-18 placement: 5th
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Anthony Mantha (24)
2017-18 assists leader: Dylan Larkin (47)
2017-18 points leader: Dylan Larkin (63)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Mike Green (33)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Justin Abdelkader, Niklas Kronwall
2018 first round pick: Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno

Offseason additions: Thomas Vanek, Jon Bernier, Harri Sateri.

Offseason subtractions: Henrik Zetterberg, Xavier Ouellet, David Booth.

Forwards: An injury forcing Henrik Zetterberg to retire will hurt them. Zadina will be placed in a top nine spot. Tyler Bertuzzi is an underrated player for the Wings. Andreas Athanasiou is one of the league's fastest skaters. Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha are a solid duo. Gustav Nyquist has lost some value, but is still a top nine winger.

Forward lines:

Gustav Nyquist - Dylan Larkin - Anthony Mantha
Tyler Bertuzzi - Andreas Athanasiou - Filip Zadina
Thomas Vanek - Frans Nielsen - Martin Frk
Justin Abdelkader - Luke Glendening - Darren Helm
Other: Evgeny Svechnikov
Injured: Johan Franzen

Defenseman: This is a real struggle for them. They should have picked Quinn Hughes, but they couldn't pass up Zadina. Still, they needed Hughes. Danny DeKeyser and Mike Green lead a deflated, aging core, with Trevor Daley, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson. Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek are the future, and could get some playing time this year, but maybe not on opening night.

Defensive pairs:

Danny DeKeyser - Mike Green
Trevor Daley - Jonathan Ericsson
Niklas Kronwall - Nick Jensen
Other: Filip Hronek, Joe Hicketts.

Goalies: Jimmy Howard won out Petr Mrazek, as he was traded to Philly at the trade deadline. Howard could be traded, but for now is the starter. Jonathan Bernier was brought in as a backup, but a guy that might need to start. Harri Sateri has been a backup in Florida before, but is now the third goalie.

Goalie alignment:

Jimmy Howard
Jonathan Bernier
Other: Harri Sateri

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Dylan Larkin
Anthony Mantha
Andreas Athanasiou
Gustav Nyquist
Tyler Bertuzzi

Playoffs: No
Division: 6th


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dallas Stars 2018-19 season preview



      With big expectations, the Dallas Stars missed the playoffs for the second straight year, and didn't even make any moves. While their first line isn't the issue, depth is. Before we look into that, here's some fast facts for the Dallas Stars.



Head Coach: Jim Montgomery
General Manager: Jim Nill
Arena: American Airlines Center
AHL Affiliate: Texas Stars
2017-18 record: 42-32-8 (92 points)
2017-18 placement: 6th
Division: Central
2017-18 goals leader: Tyler Seguin (40)
2017-18 assists leader: Jamie Benn (43)
2017-18 points leader: Jamie Benn (79)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): John Klingberg (67)
Captain: Jamie Benn
Assistant Captains: Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov, Jason Spezza
2018 first round: Ty Dellandrea

Offseason additions: Blake Comeau, Roman Polak, Anton Khudobin

Offseason subtractions: Kari Lehtonen, Dam Hamhuis, Antoine Roussel, Curtis McKenzie, Greg Pateryn.

Forwards: Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are among the best duos in hockey. Alex Radulov is also a good player on that line. Coming back from Russia, Valeri Nichushkin is looking for a good return. Radek Faska is an underrated player on that line. So is Mattias Janmark, who will either be a third line winger or fourth line center. Martin Hanzal needs to figure it out and stay healthy this year. He played in just 38 games last year, with 10 points. For sure, it's an interesting forward core.

Forward lines:

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov
Martin Hanzal - Jason Spezza - Valeri Nichushkin
Devin Shore - Radek Faska - Tyler Pitlick
Blake Comeau - Mattias Janmark - Brett Ritchie
Other: Gemel Smith, Remi Elie.

Defenseman: John Klingberg was one of the league's best defenders in 2017-18, putting up 67 points, and was a Norris contender. I think he can contend for the Norris again this year. Esa Lindell is underrated as his partner. Julius Honka is a good powerplay guy. Miro Heiskanen, the 2017 third overall pick, will get a shot in the top-4 this year.

Defensive pairs:

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Julius Honka
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Other: Roman Polak

Goalies: Ben Bishop had a down in his first time in Dallas, but I'd expect him to be better. While a lot less paid, Anton Khudobin isn't as good as Kari Lehtonen but is still a serviceable backup.

Goalie alignment:

Ben Bishop
Anton Khudobin

Predictions:

Top five scorers

Tyler Seguin
Jamie Benn
John Klingberg
Alex Radulov
Radek Faska

Playoffs: No
Division: 6th

NHL trade review: Sharks get Karlsson



           In a blockbuster trade, the San Jose Sharks acquired D Erik Karlsson and F Francis Perron from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for F Chris Tierney, D Dylan Demelo, F Rudolfs Balcers, F Josh Norris, a 2020 conditional 1st round pick, and a second rounder in 2019 and 2021.

           For the Sharks, Brent Burns and Karlsson are arguably the top two defenseman in the game, at least offensively, and both are on their team. This is a great trade for them, and will be reflected on for years.

           Karlsson, 28, scored nine goals and 53 assists for 62 points in 71 games for the Sens in 2017-18. In his NHL career, all for the Senators, Karlsson has scored 126 goals and 392 assists for 518 points in 627 games.

          Perron, 22, scored four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 44 games for the Belleville Senators of the AHL in 2017-18.

            For the Senators, they need to rebuild, at that started with trading their captain, Karlsson. But, since he's just a rental, they didn't get as much as they should of. But, they still should've gotten more. Maybe Timo Meier or Tomas Hertl should have been in the package.

            Tierney, 24, scored 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points in 82 games in 2016-17. In his NHL career, all in San Jose, Tierney has scored 41 goals and 63 assists for 104 points in 284 games.

             DeMelo, 25, scored 20 points, all assists, in 63 games for the Sharks last year. In his NHL career, all for the Sharks, DeMelo has scored three goals and 29 assists for 32 points in 133 games.

             Balcers, 21, scored 23 goals and 25 assists for 48 points in 67 games for the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, after scoring 40 goals in the WHL's Blazers in 2016-17.

             Norris, 19, was the Sharks' 2017 first round pick. He scored eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 37 games for the University of Michigan in 2017-18.

             I think the Sharks win this deal. Karlsson is a superstar, and this isn't a superstar's return. The Sens really should have gotten more.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Columbus Blue Jackets 2018-19 season preview



            After finishing with 108 points in 2016-17, 32 points higher than their 2015-16 finish, the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped a little, but still made the wild card, setting a franchise record for most consecutive playoff appearances, though the 18 year franchise's record is know at just two. But were knocked out by the Washington Capitals in the first round. Let's look at some fast facts for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Head Coach: John Tortorella
General Manager: Jarmo Kekalainen
Arena: Nationwide Arena
AHL Affiliate: Cleveland Monsters
2017-18 record: 45-30-7 (97 points)
2017-18 placement: 4th
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Artemi Panarin (27)
2017-18 assists leader: Artemi Panarin (55)
2017-18 points leader: Artemi Panarin (82)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Seth Jones (57)
Captain: Nick Foligno
Assistant Captain: Boone Jenner
2018 first round pick: Liam Foudy

Offseason additions: Riley Nash, Anthony Duclair, Adam Clendening, JF Berube.

Offseason subtractions: Thomas Vanek, Jack Johnson, Matt Calvert, Ian Cole, Mark Letestu, Jordan Schroeder, Jeff Zatkoff.

Forwards: Artemi Panarin has a contract issue, and could be traded. Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Nick Foligno, Alex Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky all had down season last year. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand had optimistic rookie years, and could each reach 50 points this year. Sonny Milano is looking to show why he was a first round pick. Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner are at rock bottom, and need to climb up. Same with Anthony Duclair, who comes in from Chicago after disappointing in Arizona.

Forward lines:

Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nick Foligno - Alex Wennberg - Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano - Riley Nash - Josh Anderson
Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Anthony Duclair
Other: Lukas Sedlak, Markus Hannikainen

Defenseman: Seth Jones had another great year, and was second on the team in points. While the race will be tighter, I think Jones will be a top three scorer in Columbus again. Ryan Murray and David Savard need to be productive on the middle pair. Zach Werenski needs a bounce back year. Next to Markus Nutivaara, there is a fight for the sixth D spot. It will be interesting to see who wins.

Defensive pairs:

Zach Werenki - Seth Jones
Ryan Murray - David Savard
Markus Nutivaara - Gabriel Carlsson
Other: Adam Clendening, Scott Harrington.

Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky is perhaps the leagues best goalie. Joonas Korpisalo is a top 10 backup. This here is their strength, by far.

Goalie alignment:

Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Other: JF Berube

Predictions:

Top five scorers: 

Artemi Panarin
Pierre-Luc Dubois
Seth Jones
Cam Atkinson
Oliver Bjorkstrand

Playoffs: Yes
Division spot: 1st
I think the Columbus Blue Jackets will be eliminated in the 2nd round.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Colorado Avalanche 2018-19 season preview



           After a historically bad season, the Colorado Avalanche surprised everyone, finishing 4th in the tight Central division, and made the playoffs, led by Nathan MacKinnon's insane season, nearly winning him the Hart. They didn't change too much, but that's for the better. Let's look at some fast facts for the Colorado Avalanche.

Head Coach: Jared Bednar
General Manager: Joe Sakic
Arena: Pepsi Center
AHL Affiliate: Colorado Eagles
2017-18 record: 43-30-9 (95 points)
2017-18 placement: 4th
Division: Central
2017-18 goals leader: Nathan MacKinnon (39)
2017-18 assists leader: Nathan MacKinnon (58)
2017-18 points leader: Nathan MacKinnon (97)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Tyson Barrie (57)
Captain: Gabriel Landeskog
Assistant Captains: Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson
2018 first round pick: Martin Kaut

Offseason additions: Phillip Grubauer, Matt Calvert, Ian Cole.

Offseason subtractions: Blake Comeau, Jonathan Bernier, Duncan Siemens, Nail Yakupov, Andrew Hammond.

Forwards: MacKinnon might not have a season like 2017-18, but he should put up at least 80 points, Mikko Rantanen could eclipse 30 goals. Alex Kerfoot, Tyson Jost and JT Compher are looking for good sophomore years. Vladislav Kamenev is entering his rookie season. Sven Andrigetto is an underrated winger.

Forward lines:

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alex Kerfoot - Sven Andrighetto
Vladislav Kamenev - JT Compher - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert


Defenseman: Tyson Barrie had a great 2017-18, with 57 points in 68 games. Erik Johnson is still a decent top-4 defenseman. Sam Girard is young, but leads a shaky left side on defense, which Ian Cole was brought in fix. It's still a work in progress here.

Defensive pairs:

Sam Girard - Tyson Barrie
Ian Cole - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Patrik Nemeth
Other: Mark Barberio

Goalies: Semyon Varlamov is an underrated goalie when healthy, but that's the issue. They brought in Phillip Grubauer, knowing that Varlamov might go down. It was a smart move.

Goalie alignment:

Semyon Varlamov
Phillip Grubauer

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Nathan MacKinnon
Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog
Sven Andrighetto
Tyson Barrie

Playoffs: No
Division spot: 5th

NHL trade review: Rangers get McQuaid



          The New York Rangers have acquired defenseman Adam McQuaid from the Boston Bruins in exchange for defenseman Steven Kampfer, a 4th and 7th round draft pick.

           For the Rangers and Bruins, this is a depth defenseman trade. Kampfer wasn't needed by the Rangers, and won't be needed by the Bruins, but they get picks too. McQuaid could be a starter for the Rangers, which is an upgrade to being the Bruins 8th defenseman.

           McQuaid, 31, scored one goal and three assists for four points in 38 games for the Bruins in 2017-18. In his NHL career, all in Boston, McQuaid has scored 13 goals and 53 assists for 66 points in 462 games.

           Kampfer, who will be 30 in two weeks, had one point, an assist, in 22 games for the Rangers in 2017-18. In his NHL career for the Rangers, Bruins, Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers, Kampfer has scored 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in 166 games.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season preview



            As their core ages, and their depth gets even worse, the Chicago Blackhawks are no longer the team they used to be. They aren't even playoff contenders. Before we look into the team, let's look at some fast facts for the Blackhawks.

Head Coach: Joel Quenneville
General Manager: Stan Bowman
Arena: United Center
AHL Affiliate: Rockford Icehogs
2017-18 record: 33-39-10 (76 points)
2017-18 placement: 7th
Division: Central
2017-18 goals leader: Alex DeBrincat (28)
2017-18 assists leader: Patrick Kane (49)
2017-18 points leader: Patrick Kane (76)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Duncan Keith (32)
Captain: Jonathan Toews
Assistant Captains: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook
2018 first round pick: Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin

Offseason additions: Cam Ward, Brandon Manning, Chris Kunitz, Marcus Kruger, Jordan Schroeder.

Offseason subtractions: Patrick Sharp, Cody Franson, Jeff Glass, Lance Bouma, Anthony Duclair, Tomas Jurco, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle, Marian Hossa.

Forwards: Jonathan Toews is still a 50 point scorer, but is now better defensively than offensively. Patrick Kane is still a superstar, and Alex DeBrincat had a promising rookie year, along with Nick Schmaltz. Dylan Sikura and Victor Ejdsell are now those two, looking for good rookie seasons. Artem Ansimov, Chris Kunitz, Marcus Kruger and Jordan Schroeder are veterans that can chip in a little bit.

Forward lines:

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alex DeBrincat
Nick Schmaltz - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Chris Kunitz - Marcus Kruger - Dylan Sikura
Jordan Schroeder - Victor Ejdsell - John Hayden

Defenseman: Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are aging, and overpaid. Connor Murphy is also overpaid. Jan Rutta and Gustav Forsling are their best hopes for the season, and that isn't a good thing.

Defensive pairs:

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Brandon Manning - Connor Murphy
Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta
Other: Erik Gustafsson

Goaltending: When healthy, Corey Crawford is a great goalie. Unfortunately, that seems to never be the case. Cam Ward was brought in, and he's not a bad backup. Neither is Anton Forsberg, the third goalie. If Crawford is healthy, this will be their strengh.

Goalie alignment:

Corey Crawford
Cam Ward
Anton Forsberg
Other: JF Berube

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Patrick Kane
Jonathan Toews
Alex Debrincat
Brandon Saad
Nick Schmaltz

Playoffs: No
Divison spot: 7th

NHL trade review: Knights get Pacioretty




             The Vegas Golden Knights have acquired winger Max Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for winger Tomas Tatar, center Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second round pick.

            For the Golden Knights, I don't like this trade. They traded a first round pick in 2018 (Joe Veleno), a 2019 second and a 2020 third for Tomas Tatar at the trade deadline, and now flip him with Suzuki, a 2017 first rounder, and another 2019 2nd for Pacioretty, who only scored three more points than Tatar last year, despite injuries. It's a 20 goal scorer, a big prospect and a second for a 35 goal scorer. But, when healthy, Pacioretty is a star.

            Pacioretty, 29, scored 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in 64 games for the Habs in 2017-18. In his NHL career, all in Montreal, Pacioretty has scored 226 goals and 222 assists for 448 points in 626 games.

           For the Canadiens, they are rebuilding, and this helps. Suzuki can be a top-6 center in the future, and Tatar can be one now. The second can also come in handy, should they draft right.

           Tatar, 27, scored 20 goals and 14 assists for 34 points in 82 games for the Knights and Detroit Red Wings in 2017-18. In his career only for those two teams, Tatar has scored 119 goals and 109 assists for 228 points in 427 games.

           Suzuki, 19, scored 42 goals and 58 assists for 100 points in 64 games for the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL in 2017-18.

            I think the Habs win this trade. Pacioretty is good, but the return could be way better. I guess we need to wait and see what becomes of Suzuki and the 2nd, but for now, I think they'll be better.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 season preview



            After a mediocre season, the Carolina Hurricanes lucked out and won the 2nd overall spot in the NHL draft, and they picked Andrei Svechnikov. But, they traded away Jeff Skinner and Noah Hanifin, adding Dougie Hamilton. They still have work to do. Let's look at some fast facts for the Carolina Hurricanes.


Head Coach: Rod Brind'Amour
General Manager: Don Waddell
Arena: PNC Arena
AHL Affiliate: Charlotte Checkers
2017-18 record: 36-35-11 (83 points)
2017-18 placement: 6th
Division: Metropolitan
2017-18 goals leader: Sebastian Aho (29)
2017-18 assists leader: Teuvo Teravainen (41)
2017-18 points leader: Sebastian Aho (65)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Noah Hanifin (32)
Captain: Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk (team will cut it down to one captain, and the one stripped will probably be an assistant captain)
Assistant Captains: None
2018 first round pick: Andrei Svechnikov

Offseason additions: Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland, Calvin de Haan, Petr Mrazek, Jordan Martinook.

Offseason subtractions: Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Cam Ward, Derek Ryan, Lee Stempniak, Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom, Klas Dahlbeck.

Forwards: The duo of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen can only get better. Valentin Zykov will be a rookie, but their linemate. Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas will probably be linemates at some point, but maybe not the beginning. Necas might push Victor Rask to the 4th line, but he is above average for a 4th line center. Justin Williams is a vet that can put up 50 points again.

Forward lines:

Valentin Zykov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Michael Ferland - Jordan Staal - Andrei Svechnikov
Warren Foegele - Martin Necas - Justin Williams
Phillip Di Giuseppe - Victor Rask - Brock McGinn
Other: Jordan Martinook

Defenseman: Hamilton is an upgrade over Hanifin. Justin Faulk is still a top-2 defenseman. Jaccob Slavin is one of the most underrated d-man in the league, and so is the oft-injured Calvin de Haan. Brett Pesce and Trevor van Riemsdyk make up the bottom pair, but Haydn Fleury is coming.

Defensive pairs:

Jaccob Slavin - Justin Faulk
Calvin de Haan - Dougie Hamilton
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Brett Pesce
Other: Haydn Fleury

Goalies: Scott Darling is the worst starting goalie in the league. He will split time with Petr Mrazek, but this is their biggest issue by far.

Goalie alignment:

Scott Darling
Petr Mrazek

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Teuvo Teravainen
Sebastian Aho
Dougie Hamilton
Valentin Zykov
Justin Williams

Playoffs: No
Division spot: 7th

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Calgary Flames 2018-19 season preview


      
     
            After goalie Mike Smith got hurt, the Calgary Flames completely fell, and ended up missing the playoffs again. They fired Glen Gulutzan, and brought in Bill Peters. But, they then traded star defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Michael Ferland after his breakout season, plus one of their top prospects, Adam Fox, to Peters' old team, the Carolina Hurricanes, for young defenseman Noah Hanifin and disappointing forward Elias Lindholm in this summer's biggest trade. Before we look at their team, here's some fast facts for the Calgary Flames.

Head Coach: Bill Peters
General Manager: Brad Treliving
Arena: Scotiabank Saddledome
AHL Affiliate: Stockton Heat
2017-18 record: 37-35-10 (84 points)
2017-18 placement: 5th
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Sean Monahan (31)
2017-18 assists leader: Johnny Gaudreau (60)
2017-18 points leader: Johnny Gaudreau (84)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Dougie Hamilton (44)
Captain: Mark Giordano
Assistant Captains: None
2018 first round pick: None, picked Martin Pospisil 105th overall

Offseason additions: James Neal. Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Austin Czarnik, Derek Ryan.

Offseason subtractions: Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland, Troy Brouwer, Matt Stajan, Kris Versteeg, Nick Shore, Matt Barkowski, Tanner Glass.

Forwards: The dynamic duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan is back, and they have James Neal on the first line along with them. Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik make up a scrappy, two way second line. Sam Bennett is officially a bust, but Mark Jankowski scored 17 goals in his rookie year, and can easily get 20 as a second line center.

Forward lines:

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - James Neal
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Elias Lindholm
Austin Czarnik - Derek Ryan - Curtis Lazar
Other: Garnet Hathaway

Defenseman: Dougie Hamilton is gone, and stepping in is the not as good but younger Noah Hanifin. They went from a top-2 defenseman to a top-4 guy. Captain Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are good top-4 guys as well. At 21, Rasmus Andersson will get a starting shot.

Defensive pairings:

Mark Giordano - Travis Hamonic
TJ Brodie - Michael Stone
Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson
Other: Brett Kulak

Goalies: At age 37, Mike Smith is still a good goalie. Behind him is youngsters David Rittich and Jon Gillies. If Smith goes down, so does the team.

Goalie alignment:

Mike Smith
David Rittich
Other: Jon Gillies

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Johnny Gaudreau
Sean Monahan
James Neal
Matthew Tkachuk
Mikael Backlund

Playoffs: No
Division spot: 5th

Friday, September 7, 2018

Buffalo Sabres 2018-19 season preview



          Finishing in last place in today's NHL could sometimes fail, and you could get the 4th overall pick with the lottery system. But, the Buffalo Sabres lucked out, and got the first overall pick, adding top NHL prospect Rasmus Dahlin. But, the team still has a lot of work cut out for them. Before we go into detail, let's look at some fast facts for the Buffalo Sabres.

Head Coach: Phil Housley
General Manager: Jason Botterill
Arena: KeyBank Center
AHL Affiliate: Rochester Americans
2017-18 record: 25-45-12 (62 points)
2017-18 placement: 8th
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart (25)
2017-18 assists leader: Jack Eichel (39)
2017-18 points leader: Jack Eichel (64)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Rasmus Ristolainen (41)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Kyle Okposo, Zach Bogosian
2018 first round pick: Rasmus Dahlin

Offseason additions: Jeff Skinner, Conor Sheary, Carter Hutton, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, Scott Wedgewood, Matt Hunwick, Tage Thompson.

Offseason subtractions: Ryan O'Reilly, Robin Lehner, Benoit Pouliot, Chad Johnson, Victor Antipin, Jordan Nolan, Seth Griffith, Josh Gorges, Justin Falk.

Forwards: The team that scored the least amount of goals in the league in 2018 has lost second line center Ryan O'Reilly, but added firepower on the left side with Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary. There are Believing in rookie Casey Middelstadt to be their second line center. When winger Kyle Okposo is healthy, he's a great top 6 winger. The problem is, he hasn't been that since joining the Sabres. Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka are two veterans from the O'Reilly trade that are expected to be key third liners. The big part of the trade, Tage Thompson, will fight for a 4th line spot.

Forward lines:

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Conor Sheary - Casey Middlestadt - Kyle Okposo
Vladimir Sobotka - Patrik Berglund - Jason Pominville
Evan Rodrigues - Zemgus Girgensons - Tage Thompson
Other: Scott Wilson, Johan Larsson

Defenseman: The first overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin will be a force both offensively and defensively. Pair him with the other Rasmus, Rasmus Ristolainen, and you got a really good and young top pairing. If Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe stay healthy, then there's two more quality defenseman.

Defensive pairings:

Rasmus Dahlin - Rasmus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella - Zach Bogosian
Jake McCabe - Nathan Beaulieu
Other: Casey Nelson, Matt Hunwick

Goalies: Robin Lehner is gone, Carter Hutton is in, and is a big upgrade, if he can put up a season similar to 2017-18 in his first full time starting gig. They are trusting Linus Ullmark to be a full time backup, and I think he can do it.

Goalie allignment:

Carter Hutton
Linus Ullmark
Other: Scott Wedgewood

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Jack Eichel
Jeff Skinner
Sam Reinhart
Casey Middlestadt
Kyle Okposo

Playoffs: no
division placement: 6th

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Boston Bruins 2018-19 season preview



         Consistency has been pretty big for the Boston Bruins in the 2010s. They've eclipsed 90 points every year. They've won a Presidents trophy (2013-14), They've appeared in two Stanley Cup finals in 2011 and 2013, and they won it all in 2011. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and Tuuka Rask are still there, but there is a crop of new Bruins ready to take the reigns. First, let's look at some fast facts for the Boston Bruins.

Head Coach: Bruce Cassidy
General Manager: Don Sweeney
Arena: TD Garden
AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins
2017-18 record: 50-20-12 (112 points)
2017-18 placement: 2nd
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: David Pastrnak (35)
2017-18 assists leader: Brad Marchand (51)
2017-18 points leader: Brad Marchand (85)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Torey Krug (59)
Captain: Zdeno Chara
Assistant Captains: Patrice Bergeron, David Krecji
2018 first round pick: None (Took Axel Andersson in 2nd round)

Offseason additions: John Moore, Jaroslav Halak, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner.

Offseason subtractions: Rick Nash, Riley Nash, Nick Holden, Anton Khudobin, Tim Schaller, Tommy Wingels, Brian Gionta, Paul Postma.

Forwards: Even though he played in just 68 games, the pesky Brad Marchand scored 85 points in a great season. At age 21, David Pastrnak added 80 points. Patrice Bergeron had 63 points in 64 games. At ages 21 and 20 respectively, Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk combined for 90 points. David Krejci and David Backes missed a lot of games, combining for just 77 points. Ryan Donato scored nine points, including five goals in 12 games after returning from the Olympics. Him and top prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson are expected to have good seasons on the third line, but they'll have to make the team first. Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner, the two offense additions, are fourth liners who will be healthy scratches a lot.

Forward lines:

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Danton Heinen
Ryan Donato - Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson - David Backes
Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari - Anders Bjork
Others: Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom

Defenseman: After scoring nearly 60 points, Torey Krug showed why he is a top 20 blueliner in the league. Charlie McAvoy produced a solid rookie season, with 32 points in 62 games. Now over 40, Zdeno Chara is aging, but is still playing top 2 minutes for them. John Moore is an addition they didn't need, as Matt Grzelcyk is pushed out of the lineup.

Defensive pairs:

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Kevan Miller
Other: Matt Grzelcyk, Adam McQuaid

Goalies: With a .917 SV% and 2.36, Tuuka Rask is not exactly elite. But, he is still above average among the other starting goaltenders. After starting with the Islanders, Jaroslav Halak is now settling into a backup role with the Bruins.

Goalie alignment:

Tuuka Rask
Jaroslav Halak
Other: Zane McIntyre

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Brad Marchand
David Pastrnak
Patrice Bergeron
Torey Krug
Ryan Donato

Playoffs: Yes
Division spot: 2nd
I think the Bruins will be eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Arizona Coyotes 2018-19 season preview



       After not winning a regulation game in the first 21 games of 2017-18, the Arizona Coyotes ended up finishing 29th overall, and failing to eclipse 80 points for the 4th straight season. They haven't made the playoffs since 2011-12, and have only made it past round one once, when they reached the Conference finals in 2012. A young team that seems to get younger each year, let's look at some fast facts for the Arizona Coyotes.

Head Coach: Rick Tocchet
General Manger: John Chayka
Arena: Gila River Arena
AHL Affiliate: Tucson Roadrunners
2017-18 record: 29-41-12 (70 points)
2017-18 placement: 8th
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Clayton Keller (23)
2017-18 assists leader: Clayton Keller, Derek Stepan (42)
2017-18 points leader: Clayton Keller (65)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Oliver Ekman-Larsson (42)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski, Brad Richardson, Derek Stepan
2018 first round selection: Barrett Hayton

Offseason additions: Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Grabner, Jordan Oesterle, Vinnie Hinostroza.
Offseason subtractions: Max Domi, Jordan Martinook, Luke Schenn, Zac Rinaldo.

Forwards: At age 19, Clayton Keller lead the team in goals and points, and tied for the lead in assists, en route to finishing third in Calder voting. Fellow rookies Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer totaled 15 goals each, plus 17 from Brendan Perlini. Max Domi and Anthony Duclair were both traded away within the last year, as Richard Panik and Alex Galchenyuk entered. Galchenyuk will be a much better second line center than Domi would have been. Grabner is a speedy third liner that can easily score 20 goals. 2015 third overall pick Dylan Strome could actually have a full season in the NHL. Nick Merkley and Lawson Crouse are also fighting for spots.

Forward lines:

Clayton Keller - Derek Stepan - Richard Panik
Brendan Perlini - Alex Galchenyuk - Christian Fischer
Michael Grabner - Christian Dvorak - Nick Cousins
Lawson Crouse - Dylan Strome - Vinnie Hinostroza
Other: Brad Richardson, Nick Merkley, Mario Kempe.
Injured: Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland.

Defense: After signing a new mega deal with the team, Oliver Ekman-Larsson will likely be named captain. He scored 42 points in 2017-18, but that was a down year for him. This is a defenseman who scored 44 goals in his age 23 and 24 seasons. He's a top 10 defender in the league. Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers are veteran presences all playing top 4 roles. Injuries limited Jakob Chychrun to just 50 games as a 19 year old, but he will come back strong. The sixth defenseman, Kevin Connauton sneakily scored 11 goals.

Defensive pairings:

Oliver Ekman Larsson - Jason Demers
Alex Goligoski - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jakob Chychrun - Kevin Connauton
Other: Jordan Oesterle.

Goalies: Antti Raanta had a very good 2017-18, with a .930 SV% and 2.24 GAA. He will once again start most games for AZ. Darcy Keumper comes back to back up Raanta.

Goalie alignment:

Antti Raanta
Darcy Keumper
Other: Adin Hill

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Clayton Keller
Alex Galchenyuk
Derek Stepan
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Richard Panik

Playoffs: No
Division spot: 7th