Saturday, August 31, 2019

Los Angeles Kings 2019-20 season preview

From Getty Images

        The story of the Kings can be told be just one stat. Only two returning players had a plus/minus over zero in 2018-19. Those two players, Austin Wagner and Kyle Clifford (Nate Thompson and Jake Muzzin were traded midseason), are fourth liners. A quiet offseason that really only saw the Kings get a new coach looks to be the start of a rebuild.

         Additions: Joakim Ryan, Mario Kempe, Martin Frk

         Subtractions: Dion Phaneuf, Brendan Leipsic, Jonny Brodzinski, Peter Budaj, Nikita Scherbak

A two time Selke winner, Anze Kopitar had a career season in 2017-18, but he fell in 2018-19. His -20 rating was a career worst, and while his 22 goals and 60 points weren't as bad as his 2016-17 season, it's still disappointing for a player getting paid $10 million. Dustin Brown has actually gotten better as he has aged, with 50 goals and 112 points over the last two seasons. Ilya Kovalchuk's return to the NHL was a dud, as the former Rocket Richard winner scored just 16 goals with 34 points in 64 games. Kovalchuk is now 36, and earning $6.25 million a season. In his prime, Tyler Toffoli has been more inconsistent than ever. After scoring 31 goals as a 23 year old in 2015-16, Toffoli has scored 16. 24 and 13 goals in the three seasons since. His 13 goals in 2018-19 and 34 points, plus a -16 rating was very disappointing, and he is a trade target. Jeff Carter had the worst season of his career, with career worsts in plus/minus (-20), goals per game (.17) and points per game (.43). Alex Iafallo had a nice 15 goal season, but like everyone else, his plus/minus was terrible (-17). Adrian Kempe had a promising 2017-18 season, but fell a little bit in 2018-19, with 12 goals and 28 points. He is currently an RFA. Austin Wagner had a good rookie season, with 12 goals, even though he averaged less than nine minutes a game. Kyle Clifford's previous career high in goals was seven entering 2018-19, then he scored 11 goals. Trevor Lewis played in just 44 games, and scored 12 points. Over the last two seasons, Michael Amadio has 21 points in 80 games. Nikolai Prokhorkin comes to North America after scoring 20 goals and 41 points in 41 KHL games.

The Kings had just two defensemen with 70 games played, and just three returning defensemen with more than 40. Just after signing an $11 million deal, Drew Doughty had a terrible season. His points went from 60 in 2017-18 to 45 in 2018-19, and for the third time, he was a minus player. His -34 rating was the second worst in the league. Alec Martinez missed 22 games, leading to just 18 points, his lowest total since 2012-13, when he played in just 27 games. Former first rounder Derek Forbort saw his plus/minus drop by 31 points. He averaged 20 minutes a night for the third consecutive season. Paul LaDue played in a career high 33 games, and had five points. Joakim Ryan signed after playing in 106 games for the Sharks over the last two years, with 19 points. Sean Walker had 17 points in 22 AHL games, and 10 points in 39 NHL games. Matt Roy and Kurtis MacDermid combined for seven points in 36 games.

Jonathan Quick had his worst season in 2018-19, and it is not up for discussion. His previous career lows were a 2.54 GAA and .902 SV%. In 2018-19, he had a 3.38 GAA with a .888 SV%. If the Kings want to be relevant, Quick needs to be better. While Quick was inconsistent and battling injuries, Jack Campbell stepped up. Drafted 11th overall in 2010, Campbell played in his first full season, and had an impressive 2.30 GAA and .928 SV%. Cal Peterson had a .924 SV% in 11 games.

            Deep Depths
Martin Frk signs with the Kings after scoring six points in 30 games for Detroit in 2018-19. He was good in 2017-18, with 11 goals and 25 points in 68 games. Adrian Kempe's brother, Mario, comes to L.A. after scoring 13 points in 70 games over two seasons in Arizona. Matt Luff scored eight goals in 33 games, which is a 20 goal pace. He will fight for an NHL starting job.

            Up and Coming
Carl Grundstrom, a part of the Jake Muzzin trade, had 39 points in 55 AHL games, and scored five goals in his first 15 career NHL games. Blake Lizotte made his NHL debut after 42 points in 37 games at St. Cloud State. Gabe Vilardi made his pro debut in the AHL last year, playing in four contests. He missed the rest of the season with a back injury. Jaret Anderson-Dolan played in five NHL games. He had 43 points in 32 games in the WHL. Defenseman Kale Clague had 29 points in 52 games in the AHL.

            2019 draft class
Round 1, 5th overall: Alex Turcotte
Round 1, 22nd overall: Tobias Bjornfot
Round 2, 33rd overall: Arthur Kaliyev
Round 2, 50th overall: Sam Fagemo
Round 3, 87th overall: Lukas Parik
Round 4, 95th overall: Jordan Spence
Round 4, 119th overall: Kim Nousianinen
Round 6, 157th overall: Braden Doyle
Round 7, 188th overall: Andre Lee

Just 13 games into the season, the Kings fired John Stevens, in Stevens' second season as coach. They hired Willie Desjardins, who had a rough track record in Vancouver. The new coach is former Oilers bench boss Todd McLellan. With the Sharks and Oilers, McLellan teams have a .594 winning percentage. An NHL hall of famer and a King for 14 seasons, Rob Blake remains as GM, but he may not for long if the Kings continue to go downward. The third coach over the last two years that Blake has hired, Blake played under McLellan in San Jose in Blake's last two NHL seasons.

              Projected Lineup
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Alex Iafallo - Jeff Carter - Carl Grundstrom
Nikolai Prokhorkin - Adrian Kempe - Ilya Kovalchuk
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Austin Wagner
Extras: Michael Amadio, Matt Luff, Jaret Anderson-Dolan

              Alec Martinez - Drew Doughty
              Derek Forbort - Paul LaDue
              Joakim Ryan - Sean Walker
Extras: Matt Roy, Kurtis MacDermid

                            Jonathan Quick
                            Jack Campbell
Extras: Cal Peterson

The Kings aren't a good team. Their core has aged, and their young players are still a year away from being regulars. The Kings will have an L.A./Anaheim rivalry with the Ducks, but that rivalry will be for last place in the Pacific Division.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Florida Panthers 2019-20 season preview


         With a lot of cap space and no state tax, it seemed like the 2019 off-season would be the one where the Panthers spent a lot. And they did. They got themselves a goalie, a top four defenseman, a scoring winger and a fourth line forward, using all but $781k of their cap space. With a new legendary Head Coach, 2019-20 could be the Panthers' year.

         Additions: Sergei Bobrovsky, Anton Stralman, Brett Connolly, Noel Acciari, Dominic Toninato

         Subtractions: Roberto Luongo, Troy Brouwer, James Reimer, Riley Sheahan, Jamie McGinn, Jacob MacDonald

The long underrated Aleksander Barkov finally got recognition as a top 10 player in the league. He scored a career high 35 goals and 61 assists for 96 points in his first career 82 game season. He got Hart votes, finished top 5 in Selke voting again, and won his first trophy, the Lady Byng. He was named captain before the season started. Former Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau scored 30 goals for the first time, and a team leading 62 assists led to 92 points. Mike Hoffman had a great first season in Florida, with a career high 36 goals and 70 points. He is a free agent after 2019-20. In his second season since returning to the NHL from Russia, Evgenii Dadonov scored 28 goals again, this time with 70 points. Vincent Trocheck scored 31 goals and 75 points in 2017-18, but an ankle injury cost him 27 games, and he scored just 10 goals with 34 points. But Frank Vatrano helped fill in for Trocheck's offense. In his first full season in Florida, Vatrano scored 24 goals. Former sixth overall pick Brett Connolly finally broke out. In his last season in Washington, Connolly had career highs in goals (22), assists (24), and points (46). The offense gets a little murky after that. Henrik Borgstrom, a former first rounder, had 18 points in 50 NHL games, and 22 more in 24 AHL games. He is aiming to be a third line center. Noel Acciari was a part of the fourth line that was amazing in the playoffs in Boston's run to the Stanley Cup final. He had a career high 14 points, and scored two goals in the playoffs, while playing on the penalty kill. Denis Malgin had a bad season, with 16 points and a -10 rating in 50 games, after a promising 11 goal 2017-18 season. He is still just 22. After being a point per game player in the AHL, Jayce Hawryluk made his NHL debut, with seven goals in 42 games. Colton Sceviour took a step back, with just five goals in 59 games. Dryden Hunt scored 23 goals in 51 AHL games, and had 10 points in 31 NHL games.

At age 32, offensive defenseman Keith Yandle scored a career high 62 points, aided by a 53 assist campaign. But he was a terrible -17. The first overall pick in 2014, Aaron Ekblad has regressed from two good seasons to start his career. Sure, he has double digit goals in each of his five seasons, but he is yet to take his game to the level of other recent first overall picks. In the first year of an eight year deal, Mike Matheson struggled. He had 27 points again, but his -24 rating was a career worst. Anton Stralman enters on a questionable three year deal. Playing on a powerhouse Tampa Bay team, Stralman is a +41 over the last two seasons, with 35 points combined. Mark Pysyk had his worst season in Florida, with 11 points in 70 games and a -1 rating. MacKenzie Weegar had a career high 15 points and 64 games in 2018-19. Josh Brown played in 37 games, with two points. Ian McCoshen took a step back, playing in just 19 NHL games, with two points.

After not having a goalie with a GAA under 3 and James Reimer's .900 SV% leading the team in 2018-19, the Panthers went into the offseason looking to spend big on a goalie. Even after drafting top goalie prospect Spencer Knight in the first round, the Panthers signed Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven year, $70 million deal. The two time Vezina winner struggled early on with Columbus in 2018-19, but finished strong,with a .913 SV% and 2.58 GAA, and he led the league with nine shutouts. His .925 playoff SV% was lethal. Rookie Sam Montembeault figures to be the backup. He had a .894 SV% and 3.04 GAA in 11 NHL games last year.

              Deep Depths
Speedy winger Anthony Greco had a better fastest skater competition time in the AHL than NHL champion Connor McDavid. He made his NHL debut, and scored 30 goals in the AHL. Dominic Toninato has played in 39 NHL games over the last two seasons, but only two of them came last year.

              Up and Coming
Owen Tippett has a great chance of making the team after scoring 33 goals and 74 points in 54 OHL games. Grigori Denisenko is in the KHL, and scored four goals in 25 games. Aleksi Heponiemi dominated in the Finnish league, with 46 points in 50 games. Brady Keeper played in one NHL game after signing from the University of Maine.

             2019 draft class
Round 1, 13th overall: Spencer Knight
Round 2, 52nd overall: Vladislav Kolyachonok
Round 3, 69th overall: John Ludvig
Round 3, 81st overall: Cole Schwindt
Round 4, 106th overall: Carter Berger
Round 5, 136th overall: Henrik Rybinski
Round 5, 137th overall: Owen Lindmark
Round 6, 168th overall: Greg Meireles
Round 7, 199th overall: Matthew Wedman

Bob Boughner didn't seem to be the right fit as Head Coach, and after two seasons, he was dismissed, and went back to being an assistant in San Jose, where he was before getting the Panthers job. In comes legendary Head Coach Joel Quenneville, who has won three Stanley Cups with Chicago. One of those Cups was with Dale Tallon, the GM of the Panthers. Unless all of this offseason's acquisitions fail in their first year, Tallon's job should be safe.

              Projected Lineup
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Mike Hoffman - Vincent Trocheck - Owen Tippett
Frank Vatrano - Henrik Borgstrom - Brett Connolly
Jayce Hawryluk - Noel Acciari - Denis Malgin
Extras: Dryden Hunt, Colton Sceviour

              Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
              Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman
              Mark Pysyk - MacKenzie Weegar
Extras: Ian McCoshen, Josh Brown

                        Segrei Bobrovsky
                        Sam Montembeault
Extras: Chris Dreidger

The Panthers are a good team, but they have had trouble historically getting over the hump and into the second round. They haven't won a playoff series since 2011-12. But this could be the year they get into the playoffs. I think they'll finish fourth in the Atlantic Division, and make the playoffs.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 season preview

From Sportsnet

           The Oilers have been a consistent team over the last decade, but it isn't the type of consistency you want. They are consistent on being bad, missing the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons. Even with two 100 point players, including the best in the league, the Oilers still couldn't make the playoffs. Another new Head Coach is in, and Peter Chiarelli isn't the GM, so there is finally a beacon of hope in Edmonton.

            Additions: Mike Smith, Markus Granlund, James Neal, Josh Archibald, Joakim Nygard, Tomas Jurco

            Subtractions: Andrej Sekera, Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder, Alex Petrovic, Ty Rattie, Anthony Stolarz

Connor McDavid tied his career high in goals with 41, and had a career high 116 points, finishing 3rd in Hart voting, and he missed four games. He was also fifth in Lady Byng voting. He has scored 1.3 points per game in his career. That would put him sixth all-time, behind Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Bobby Orr and Marcel Dionne. And on some very bad teams, he's a +49 in his career. McDavid finally got some help in the form of Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl scored 30 goals for the first time, and didn't just score 30, he scored 50, and had 105 points. But his shooting percentage of 21.6 led the league, so don't be surprised if he regresses. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a career high 28 goals and 69 points, but was a career worst -13. Career third liner Alex Chiasson come in on a PTO and scored a career high 22 goals, then re-signed in the offseason. Grinder Zack Kassian had 102 penalty minutes, and scored a career high 15 goals. The Milan Lucic era is over in Edmonton, and in comes James Neal. Neal scored 20 goals in each of his first 10 seasons in the NHL, but scored just seven in his first season in Calgary. After a change of scenery, Neal can get back to his scoring ways. Joakim Nygard comes from the Swedish league, where he scored 21 goals in 52 games. In his return to Edmonton, Sam Gagner scored five goals with five assists in 25 games. Markus Granlund was non-tendered by Vancouver, and comes to Edmonton after scoring 12 goals in 77 games. Jujhar Khaira went from 11 goals in 2017-18 to just three in 2018-19, but he did have a career high 15 assists. Kyle Brodziak scored just six goals and was a -14, but was frequent penalty killer. Colby Cave had just three points in 33 games in Edmonton. Josh Archibald scored 12 goals in Arizona.

Darnell Nurse was a -5, but scored 10 goals with 41 points, becoming Edmonton's top defenseman. The oft-injured Oscar Klefbom played in just 61 games, but scored 28 points. Adam Larsson will always be disappointing after being traded for Hart winner Taylor Hall, and he was a career worst -28 last season, with 20 points, his most with Edmonton. Kris Russell isn't worth his $4 million cap hit, but his +5 rating and 16 points aren't terrible. Matt Benning scored 17 points, and was a +11. Joel Persson comes to North America after scoring 31 points in 50 games in Sweden.

Mikko Koskinen was signed by former GM Peter Chiarelli right before he was fired. It probably isn't a coincidence. Koskinen's three year, $4.5 million per year contract is terrible. He is 31, and had a .906 SV% with a 2.93 GAA in 55 games. To be Koskinen's 1B, Mike Smith was signed. Smith has a history of being a good goalie on bad teams, but last year was the opposite. While Calgary surged to the playoffs, Smith had a .898 SV% and 2.72 GAA, and was passed over by David Rittich.

              Deep Depths
Tomas Jurco, a former high second rounder, signed a one year deal. In 201 career NHL games, Jurco has 50 points. Brandon Manning was terrible in Chicago, and then was traded to Edmonton in a questionable mid season trade. He was bad in 12 games, then was placed on waivers. Keegan Lowe has played in four NHL games, and had 20 assists in 67 AHL games in 2018-19.

              Up and Coming
Drafted 10th overall in 2018, Evan Bouchard started the season in the NHL, scoring one goal in seven games, before going back to the OHL. He scored 16 goals and 53 points in 45 games, impressive for a defenseman. He had 21 points in 11 games, and got to play in the AHL playoffs, with eight points in eight games. He should make the team this year. Former first rounder Kailer Yamamoto had a rough season, with one goal in 17 NHL games, and 10 goals in 27 AHL games. Tyler Benson scored 15 goals with 66 points in 68 AHL games, and should get an NHL look.

               2019 draft class
Round 1, 8th overall: Phillip Broberg
Round 2, 38th overall: Raphael Lavoie
Round 3, 85th overall: Ilya Konovalov
Round 4, 100th overall: Matej Blumel
Round 6, 162nd overall: Tomas Mazura
Round 7, 193rd overall: Maxim Denezhkin

Since the start of 2008-09, the Oilers have had eight Head Coaches, including interim coaches Ken Hitchcock and Todd Nelson. Three of those coaches (Todd McLellan, Dallas Eakins, Ralph Krueger) got new Head Coaches gigs this offseason. Dave Tippett will make in nine Head Coach. The former Head Coach of Dallas and Phoenix/Arizona for 14 seasons, Tippett has a career 553-413-28 record as a Head Coach. Ken Holland replaces interim GM Keith Gretzky. The longtime GM in Detroit, Holland has won multiple Stanley Cups.

                 Projected Lineup
Leon Draisaitl - Connor McDavid - Zack Kassian
James Neal - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Kailer Yamamoto
Joakim Nygard - Markus Granlund - Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira - Sam Gagner - Josh Archibald
Extras: Kyle Brodziak, Colby Cave

                 Darnell Nurse - Adam Larsson
                 Oscar Klefbom - Evan Bouchard
                 Kris Russell - Matt Benning
Extras: Joel Persson, Brandon Manning, Caleb Jones

                               Mikko Koskinen
                               Mike Smith

The Oilers have some talented players in McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Nurse, but their overall team is lacking. I predict the Oilers to finish 6th in the Pacific Division in 2019-20.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Detroit Red Wings 2019-20 season preview


         In a way, the NHL has been drifting away from former players as GMs, though some do remain. One of the best general managers in the game was a former player, and he's now hired by the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman spent his entire 22 season hall of fame career in Detroit, and now he's back in the front office after a stint in Tampa Bay. Yzerman built a powerhouse there, and now Detroit hopes he can do it again.

          Additions: Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Nemeth, Adam Erne, Calvin Pickard

          Subtractions: Thomas Vanek, Niklas Kronwall, Luke Witkowski, Martin Frk

Dylan Larkin finally broke out, with his first 30 goal season, with 32. His 73 points and .96 points per game were career highs. Another very fast and young forward, Andreas Athanasiou scored a career high 30 goals with 54 points. Anthony Mantha has proven himself as a quality linemate for Larkin. He has scored 49 goals with 47 assists over the last two seasons. In his first full season, Tyler Bertuzzi scored 21 goals and was a +11 player. Valtteri Filppula played his first eight NHL seasons in Detroit, and now returns. He left after 2012-13. His 17 goals this past season was his highest since 2013-14, but an extremely high 21.8 shooting percentage is to blame. He is a very good defender and penalty killer. Two-way center Frans Nielsen has fallen since coming to Detroit. His 10 goals last year was his lowest in a non lockout season since 2008-09, his first full season. Luke Glendening was re-signed, coming off a career high 23 points. Darren Helm has fallen off, with just 17 points last year, and a career worst -11 rating. The same could be said for Justin Abdelkader, whose 42 goal two year stretch from 2014-15 to 2015-16 looks like a fluke, after his six goals and 19 points in 2018-19. He's a terrible -42 in his career. Adam Erne comes from Tampa Bay, where Yzerman drafted him. He had 20 points in 65 games in 2018-19. 2017 9th overall pick Michael Rasmussen had 18 points in his debut season. Jacob de La Rose had nine points in a career high 60 games, as did Christoffer Ehn.

Former 31 goal scorer Mike Green doesn't score as much nowadays. he had five goals with 21 assists, which isn't bad considering he played in just 43 games. At age 21, Filip Hronek had an impressive rookie season, with 23 points in 46 games. Detroit native Danny DeKeyser is a decent top four defenseman. He missed thirty games, but he did have 20 points still. Trevor Daley missed nearly half the season. He was a minus player for just the sixth time in his 15 year career. Patrik Nemeth comes to Detroit, after he was a +32 player in two seasons for Colorado. Former first rounder Dennis Cholowski was a terrible -20 in his first season, but he had 16 points in 52 games. Jonathan Ericsson is most likely in his last season in Detroit, and if he has a bad year, it could be his last NHL season. He has been injured a ton, and was a -10 with five points in 52 games. Madison Bowey had four points in 17 games after a trade from Washington.

Jimmy Howard was somehow an all star over Larkin. Howard had a terrible .909 SV% and 3.07 GAA. He has struggled since Petr Mrazek left. Jonathan Bernier was bad in his first season in Detroit, with a 3.16 GAA and .904 SV%. Goaltending is a big issue for Detroit. They signed Calvin Pickard, who was good as the Avalanche's backup for three seasons, but was never the same after he was picked in the expansion draft.

             Deep Depths
Matt Puempel played in eight NHL games in 2018-19. He has scored 11 goals in 87 career NHL games. Joe Hicketts played in 11 NHL games, and scored 27 points in 64 AHL games. Enforcer Dylan McIlrath played in seven NHL games. He had 98 penalty minutes in 52 AHL games.

             Up and Coming
2018 6th overall pick Filip Zadina had three points in nine NHL games, and 35 points in 59 AHL games. After scoring 50 points in 36 college games, Taro Hirose came to the NHL, with seven points in 10 games. Ryan Kuffner didn't have the same success. After dominating at Princeton, he didn't have a point in 10 games. Evgeny Svechnikov had four points in 14 NHL games, and 23 points in 57 AHL games. Joe Veleno fell to 30th overall in 2018, and made every else pay, with 42 goals and 104 points in 59 games in the QMJHL.

              2019 draft class
Round 1, 6th overall: Moritz Seider
Round 2, 35th overall: Antti Tuomisto
Round 2, 54th overall: Robert Mastrosimone
Round 2, 60th overall: Albert Johansson
Round 3, 66th overall: Albin Grewe
Round 4, 97th overall: Ethan Phillips
Round 5, 128th overall: Connor Moore
Round 6, 159th overall: Elmer Soderblom
Round 6, 177th overall: Gustav Berglund
Round 7, 190th overall: Kirill Tyutyayev
Round 7, 191th overall: Carter Gylander

Since taking over for Mike Babcock as Head Coach, Jeff Blashill made the playoffs in his first year, but hasn't made it in the three seasons since, ending a 25 year playoff streak. With a new general manager in Yzerman, Blashill could be on the hot seat.

                Projected lineup
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Anthony Mantha
Andreas Athanasiou - Valtteri Filppula - Filip Zadina
Adam Erne - Frans Nielsen - Michael Rasmussen
Justin Abdelkader - Luke Glendening - Darren Helm
Extras: Taro Hirose, Ryan Kuffner, Jacob de La Rose, Evgeny Svechnikov

                 Danny DeKeyser - Mike Green
                 Dennis Cholowski - Filip Hronek
                 Patrik Nemeth - Trevor Daley
Extras: Jonathan Ericsson, Madison Bowey
                               Jimmy Howard
                               Jonathan Bernier
Extras: Calvin Pickard

The Red Wings are still in a rebuilding phase that doesn't seem like it will end soon. With Yzerman in the front office, it may end quicker, but not now. The Wings will finish 7th in the Atlantic Division in 2019-20.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dallas Stars 2019-20 season preview

         Good goaltending proved to be the answer to the Stars' issues. Ben Bishop was nothing special in his first year, but was a Vezina finalist in his second year, and Anton Khudobin had a good season as a backup. Getting inconsistent goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi out of the crease over the last two seasons helped, even though the two led a 109 point team in 2015-16, even though they were terrible. The Stars made it back to the playoffs in 2018-19, and took down Nashville in the first round, before losing a heartbreaking game 7 in the second round to the eventual champs, the Blues. The team had a good offseason, as they hope to make it back to the playoffs.

          Additions: Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, Andrej Sekera, Scottie Upshall (PTO)

          Subtractions: Mats Zuccarello, Jason Spezza, Tyler Pitlick, Brett Ritchie, Ben Lovejoy, Valeri Nichuskin, Marc Methot

Tyler Seguin had 80 points for the second time in his career, and scored 33 goals, while signing an extension mid season. He is centering an elite first line. Alex Radulov scored 72 points for the second consecutive season, and scored a career high 29 goals, and in just 70 games. Jamie Benn had the worst season since he was a rookie in 2009-10, with 53 points. His .68 points per game were the second lowest in his career, to 09-10. After the first line, the offense tailed off. That's why Joe Pavelski was brought in. Even though he is 35, the former Sharks captain scored 38 goals last year, and is one of the, if not best, puck deflectors in the league. Radek Faksa has had 30 points three seasons in a row, with 15 goals and 15 assists last year. Former Hart winner Corey Perry arrives in Dallas after a 14 year tenure in Anaheim ended with a buyout. Perry had a career worst 10 points in 31 games last year. He's a six time 30 goal scorer. Roope Hintz scored 22 points in a 58 game rookie season, and was impressive in the playoffs, with eight points in 13 games. Mattias Janmark went from 19 goals in 2017-18 to six in 2018-19. His 19 assists were a career high. Andrew Cogliano was terrible after a trade from Anaheim, with six points in 32 games, averaging just 11:39 a night. Jason Dickinson had 22 points in 67 games, and was a +9. In his first season in Dallas, Blake Comeau scored seven goals in 77 games, and averaged over two minutes on the penalty kill. A high draft pick in the outstanding 2015 draft, Denis Gurianov has yet to prove himself at the NHL level. He has just four points in 22 career games. He scored 20 goals in 58 AHL games, and has improved defensively. This could be Gurianov's year.

Perhaps the biggest two snubs at the NHL Awards this year were both from Stars. The first one was that Miro Heiskanen wasn't a Calder finalist. Heiskanen was hurt by his -14 rating, but he scored 12 goals with 33 points and was a great defender. He was very impressive in the playoffs, averaging 25:31 minutes a game. And he was just 19, and was a defenseman, a position that doesn't see many teenagers. Proven number one defenseman John Klingberg had 45 points, and that was a disappointment, coming after a 67 point season. But he played in just 64 games, and his points per 60 minutes of 1.72 was 12th among defensemen with 60 games played. Esa Lindell scored a career high 11 goals and 32. He was also a +14, averaging over 24 minutes a night, finishing 18th in Norris voting. The oft-injured Andrej Sekera comes to Dallas on a one year deal. He hasn't scored a goal over the last two seasons, and has missed more games (104) then played in (60). He was good in his last full season, 2016-17. Stephen Johns will hopefully return from head injuries. He missed all of 2018-19. He scored a career high eight goals and was a +10 in a promising 2017-18. Jamie Oleksiak returned to Dallas, and played in 21 games that didn't stand out. Roman Polak re-signed. He was a +6 in 77 games last year. At age 30, Taylor Fedun had a career season after a trade from Buffalo. He had a career high 11 points in 54 games.

The other big snub from the Awards was that Ben Bishop didn't win the Vezina Trophy, finishing second instead. He had a .934 SV% and a 1.98 GAA, the former leading the league. He had a career high seven shutouts. Anton Khudobin served as a good backup, with a .923 SV%.

              Deep Depths
Justin Dowling has three assists in 20 career NHL games. Julius Honka, a 2014 1st rounder, has fallen in the depth chart, and has been very disappointing. He had just four assists in 29 NHL games last year. Joel Hanley played in 16 games for Dallas last year. He had 28 points as a defenseman in 60 AHL games. Dillon Heatherington played in five NHL games last year, and one in the playoffs.

              Up and Coming
A 2017 second rounder, Jason Robertson has excelled up to the top prospect spot thanks to an outstanding OHL season. He scored 25 goals with 79 points in just 38 games after a trade to Niagara, and 48 goals overall. He should make his NHL debut this year. Riley Tufte, a former 1st rounder, had a rough season at Duluth. Top goalie prospect Jake Oettinger enters his first full pro season in the AHL after posting a .926 SV% at Boston University. Ty Dellandrea was a point per game player in the OHL, and played in 11 AHL games. Defenseman Gavin Bayreuther scored five points in 19 NHL games.

              2019 draft class
Round 1, 18th overall: Thomas Harley
Round 4, 111th overall: Samuel Sjolund
Round 5, 142nd overall: Nicholas Porco
Round 6, 173rd overall: Benjamin Brinkman

Jim Montgomery had a good first season as Stars' Head Coach, dealing with many injuries. Former nine year NHL veteran Jim Nill has made some good moves, trading for Tyler Seguin and the rights to Ben Bishop, signing Alex Radulov and Bishop, and drafting Jamie Benn, Miro Heiskanen and  John Klinberg.

              Projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov
Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski - Denis Gurianov
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Corey Perry
Jason Dickinson - Andrew Cogliano - Blake Comeau
Extras: Justin Dowling, Jason Robertson
             Esa Lindell -  John Klingberg
             Miro Heiskanen - Stephen Johns
             Andrej Sekera - Roman Polak
Extras: Jamie Oleksiak, Taylor Fedun, Gavin Bayreuther

                         Ben Bishop
                         Anton Khudobin
Extras: Landon Bow, Jake Oettinger

The Stars may not appear to be a powerhouse, but they are a very underrated team, with two of the top defensemen in the league and a very good one in Lindell. I predict the Stars to finish first in the Central Division in 2019-20.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Columbus Blue Jackets 2019-20 season preview


          Major success in the NHL normally means the Stanley Cup, but the Blue Jackets will take a second round appearance. They hadn't won a playoff series in their nearly two decade existence, until 2018-19, when they took down the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning, who tied the record for most wins in a season. The Blue Jackets did that by trading a whole lot of picks at the trade deadline, then saw a ton of good players leave in free agency.

           Additions: Gustav Nyqvist, Marko Dano

           Subtractions: Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuiad, Keith Kinkaid, Mark Letestu

The main loss for the Blue Jackets was winger Artemi Panarin, whose 59 assists and 87 points were both single season franchise records. Speaking of single season franchise records, Cam Atkinson tied the one for goals, with 41. When Pierre-Luc Dubois was drafted 3rd overall in 2016 over expected pick Jesse Puljujarvi, there was outrage. But while Puljujarvi wants out of Edmonton and very likely could go to Europe, Dubois scored 27 goals with 61 points, and hasn't missed a game in his two year career. Gustav Nyqvist was their big forward acquisition. He had a career high 60 points last year, and scored 22 goals. Captain Nick Foligno has never come close to his 73 point 2014-15, with just 68 over the last two seasons combined. Josh Anderson scored a career high 27 goals, but his goals per game was similar to his 19 goal 2017-18 season. Boone Jenner has never lived up to his 30 goal 2015-16 season, with 29 over the last two seasons. Oliver Bjorkstrand had 16 less assists than in 2017-18, but he scored 12 more goals, up to a career high 23. Alex Wennberg has always been a pass-first center, scoring a career high 13 goals in 2016-17, but he had 46 assists that season. He had just two goals in 2018-19, and his 23 assists were his lowest since his rookie season. Brandon Dubinsky has completely fallen off, with 12 goals and 30 points over his last 123 games. At age 19, Alex Texier had 41 points in 55 games in the Finnish League (against men), five goals in seven AHL games, and played in two NHL games, and eight playoff games, and was impressive. He should get a starting role. Riley Nash enjoyed a 15 goal, 41 point season in Boston, then came to Columbus and had just 12 points in 78 games. Markus Hannikainen has gotten limited action over four seasons. He has 15 points in 91 career NHL games. With all the offensive losses, he could fill in as a starter. Marko Dano was a first round pick by the Blue Jackets back in 2013, and was traded for Brandon Saad. He returns this year, and he has never reached his potential. Eric Robinson has no points in 14 NHL games, but had 24 points in 45 AHL games last year. 23 goals in 47 games in Sweden could earn Emil Bemstrom an NHL shot this year.

Seth Jones has matured into one of the top defensemen in the league. He had 46 points last year, and averaging nearly 26 minutes a night. He finished 9th in Norris voting. Zach Werenski was a terrible -12 last year with 44 points. He is currently an RFA, and while he had bad defensive numbers, he should be the only Blue Jacket with a cap hit of at least $6 million. Former second overall pick Ryan Murray hasn't lived up to the expectations, mainly because of injuries. In just 56, he scored a career high 29 points, with all but one of them coming from assists. David Savard scored eight goals, the second highest in his career, and he was a +19, also the second highest in his career. Markus Nutivaara has settled in as a nice bottom pair defenseman, with 51 points and a +23 rating over three seasons. Scott Harrington's career high games played in a season was more than doubled, up to 73, leading to a career high 17 points and +6 rating. Swiss defenseman Dean Kukan was mainly in the NHL for the first time last year, with five assists in 25 games, and scored his first career goal in the playoffs. Adam Clendening has played in just 90 NHL games, but he's played for seven (!) teams. If he plays in one game for the Jackets this year (he played in four last season), it'll be the first team he has played for in two separate seasons.

With star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky off to Florida, the Blue Jackets will turn to two 25 year old in the crease. To start the season, Joonas Korpisalo should be the starter. As Bobrovsky's backup, Korpisalo has a .907 SV% and a 2.89 GAA over four seasons. Top prospect Elvis Merzlikins will likely take over the starting job by the end of the season. Merzlikins comes to North America after a 2.44 GAA and .921 SV%  in the Swiss League.

               Deep Depths
Zac Dalpe has played in 141 games in his NHL career, included one in 2018-19. He scored 33 goals with 55 points in 55 games in the AHL this year. Kole Sherwood made his NHL debut in 2018-19. He scored 16 goals in the AHL. Nathan Gerbe has nearly 400 games of NHL experience, but is now an AHLer. He had 32 points in 41 AHL games last year.

               Up and Coming
Liam Foudy, a 2018 1st rounder, scored 36 goals in 62 OHL games, and could be NHL ready by 2020-21. Vladislav Gavrikov came over from the KHL, and played in two NHL playoff games. He had 20 points in 60 KHL games. Gabriel Carlsson, a former first rounder, has dealt with injuries, but could be a sneaky late developer.

                2019 draft class
Round 4, 104th overall: Eric Hjorth
Round 4, 114th overall: Dmitri Voronkov
Round 7, 212th overall: Tyler Angle

John Tortarella is already the longest tenured head coach in team history, and despite his wacky ways, he should be around for at least 2-3 more season unless 2019-20 goes catastrophically wrong. GM Jarmo Kekalainen doesn't seem to be on the hot seat, even after everyone left in free agency.

                Projected Lineup
Gustav Nyqvist - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Alex Texier - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Boone Jenner - Alex Wennberg - Josh Anderson
Markus Hannikainen - Brandon Dubinsky - Riley Nash
Extras: Marko Dano, Eric Robinson

                Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
                Ryan Murray - David Savard
                Markus Nutivaara - Scott Harrington
Extras: Dean Kukan, Adam Clendening

                           Joonas Korpisalo
                           Elvis Merzlikins

The Blue Jackets had a good core pre Panarin, and while losing him and your goalie will hurt, I don't think the Jackets will be as bad as everyone thinks. I still think they'll miss the playoffs, but finish 7th in the Metro Division.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Colorado Avalanche 2019-20 season preview

From USA Today

      A skilled Avalanche team always had the chance of making the playoffs for the second consecutive season. But with just 90 points? Thanks to a terrible Western Conference, the Avs were able to capture the second wild card spot, and face the Flames, who had 17 more points than them. But in the crazy 2019 playoffs, the Avalanche were able to beat the Flames, but they were eliminated in the second round by the Sharks.

      Additions: Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, Andre Burakovsky, Kevin Connauton, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Valeri Nichuskin, Calle Rosen, Jacob MacDonald

      Subtractions: Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot, Semyon Varlamov, Carl Soderberg, Derick Brassard, Sven Andrighetto, Patrick Nemeth, Gabriel Bourque, Dominic Toninato

Nathan MacKinnon continues to prove that he is a top five player in the NHL. After finishing second in Hart voting in 2017-18, MacKinnon finished sixth in 2018-19, but scored a career high 41 goals, plus a career high 99 points, but he did play in eight more games than his 97 point 2017-18. He's also just 24. MacKinnon is centering arguably the best line in hockey, with wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen having great seasons. Rantanen had eighty points for a second season, with a career high 87, plus a career high 31 goals. He is currently an RFA, and with all the other RFAs out there, Rantanen hasn't gotten much attention. Captain Landeskog, drafted second overall in 2011, finally was a point per game player, with a career high 34 goals and 75 points in 73 games. The Avs traded top defenseman Tyson Barrie and young forward Alex Kerfoot to Toronto for second line center Nazem Kadri. Kadri scored 16 goals, a 50% drop off from his 32 the two seasons prior. He had 44 points last year, but has averaged 48 points over the last seven seasons, including the shortened 2012-13 season. Joonas Donskoi enters on a four year deal with a $3.9 million AAV. Donskoi is coming off a season with a career high 37 points, plus 14 goals for the Sharks. Center JT Compher scored a career high 16 goals with 32 points. Andre Burakovsky comes via trade. He scored 17 goals as a 20 year old in 2015-16, but has scored 12 goals in each of the three seasons since, including two consecutive 25 point seasons. Colin Wilson re-signed instead of leaving as a UFA. He has been inconsistent in his career, with 27 points last season, and has averaged 31 points over his eight full seasons. Tyson Jost has one more year left on his entry level deal, and looks to elevate his game after a career high 26 points in 2018-19. In his first season in Colorado, Matt Calvert scored a career high 26 points. After scoring a career high 15 goals in 2017-18, Matt Nieto scored just four in 2018-19, but he did have a career high 19 assists. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was signed to a two year deal, even though he robs a young player of a shot. He's better defensively than offensively, and he should help out the penalty kill that finished 25th in the NHL. Vladislav Kamenev, part of the highly successful Matt Duchene trade, had five points in 23 games. Valeri Nichuskin, a former 10th overall pick, returned to the NHL, and didn't score a goal with 10 assists in 57 games for Dallas.

While Barrie and his 59 points will be missed, the Avalanche believe they have a top pairing defenseman in Cale Makar. Makar, maybe the top prospect in the entire league, hasn't played in a regular season game, but debuted in the playoffs, with six points in 10 impressive games. He had 49 points in 41 games at U Mass. Erik Johnson was the first overall pick in 2006, and while he hasn't lived up to that hype, he has been a solid second pairing defenseman in Colorado after flaming out in St. Louis. Sam Girard signed a seven year, $35 million extension that will kick in for 2020-21. He has been impressive in his two NHL seasons. The 21 year old had 27 points and finished 7th in Lady Byng voting. Nikita Zadorov scored seven goals for the second straight season, and had a career high +19 rating. In his first year in Colorado, Ian Cole took 115 penalty minutes, and dropped off to 15 points and a -1 rating. Kevin Connauton comes from Arizona for 49 point man Carl Soderberg. A year removed from an 11 goal season, Connauton had just eight points in 50 games in 2018-19. Mark Barberio was passed over, and played in just 12 games. Calle Rosen, part of the Kadri trade, has dominated the AHL (46 points in 54 games), but doesn't have much NHL experience.

Inconsistent starter Semyon Varlamov left in free agency, handing the job over to Phillip Grubauer. Grubauer had a .917 SV% and 2.64 GAA in his first year in Colorado. He was very successful as Braden Holtby's backup in Washington. Pavel Francouz had a very successful career in the Czech league and KHL, and stopped 33 of 35 shots in two NHL games. He had a 2.68 GAA and .918 SV% in the AHL, and will now be the backup.

              Deep Depths
The Avs have a deep forward and defense core. AJ Greer has just six points in 37 NHL games in his career, but scored 19 goals in 54 AHL games in 2018-19. Sheldon Dries played in 40 NHL games, but with the addition of Bellemare, it will be hard for him to crack the lineup. Logan O'Connor played in five NHL games, and had 42 points in 64 games in the AHL. Defenseman Jacob MacDonald played in two NHL games for Florida last year. He has 34 goals over the last two AHL seasons.

              Up and Coming
Fourth overall pick Bowen Byram had a great WHL season, and as a defenseman, scored 26 goals with 71 points in 67 games, plus 26 more points in 22 playoff games. He could start the season with the team, but probably won't be a starter until 2020-21. Shane Bowers, a 2017 first rounder, played in four AHL games last year and is entering his first full pro season. His offense dropped in his last college season. Martin Kaut come to America, and as an 18 year old in the AHL, had 26 points in 63 games. Conor Timmins was a promising prospect, as he was a point per game player in the OHL as a defenseman, but he missed the entire season with a concussion.

              2019 draft class
Round 1, 4th overall: Bowen Byram
Round 1, 16th overall: Alex Newhook
Round 2, 47th overall: Drew Helleson
Round 3, 63rd overall: Matthew Stienburg
Round 3, 78th overall: Alex Beaucage
Round 5, 140th overall: Sasha Mutala
Round 6, 171st overall: Luka Burzan
Round 7, 202nd overall: Trent Miner

Jared Bednar was criticized after his first year as head coach was a disastrous 48 point season. But after shockingly making the playoffs in 2017-18, and shockingly beating the Flames in the first round, that criticism doesn't exist anymore. The greatest player in franchise history, Joe Sakic has done a good job as general manager, and the Avs are reaping the benefits of the Matt Duchene trade, with top defenseman Sam Girard, plus prospects Bowen Byram, Vladislav Kamenev and Shane Bowers part of it.

               Projected Lineup
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi
Andre Burakovsky - JT Compher - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Matt Calvert
Extras: AJ Greer, Vladislav Kamenev, Valeri Nichuskin

               Sam Girard - Erik Johnson
               Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
               Ian Cole - Kevin Connauton
Extras: Calle Rosen, Mark Barberio

                         Phillip Grubauer
                         Pavel Francouz

The Avalanche are a promising team coming off two consecutive playoff berths. That normally means a deep playoff run could be in the making. I predict the Avs will win at least one round, after finishing third in the Central Division.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Chicago Blackhawks 2019-20 season preview

         It has been five years since the Blackhawks last won a playoff series. That playoff series happened to be the Stanley Cup finals, as Chicago won their third cup of the decade. In 2018-19, they missed the playoffs for the second straight season, but they moved in the right direction. Their two superstars from the Cup winning teams had an unexpected career season, they saw a young player develop into a lethal scorer, and while their defense struggled, one defenseman broke out.

         Additions: Robin Lehner, Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta, Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith, Ryan Carpenter, Alex Nylander, Aleksi Saarela, John Quenneville

         Subtractions: Dominik Kahun, Artem Anisimov, Henri Jokijarju, John Hayden, Cam Ward, Gustav Forsling, Chris Kunitz, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Davidson

The Blackhawks saw an increase in goal for, as Patrick Kane had an age 30 season to remember. His career low for points is 55, but that came in the shortened 2012-13 season. He has scored at least a point per game in eight seasons, including 2018-19, when he scored a career high 110 points, with 44 goals, the second most in his career to his Hart winning 2015-16 season. Jonathan Toews, always a Selke candidate, had career highs in goals (35), assists (46), points (81), and time on ice (21:00). Alex DeBrincat scored 28 goals in his rookie season, and never endured a sophomore slump, with 41 goals and 76 points. Dylan Strome was perceived as a bust, as the third overall pick in a star studded 2015 draft had 16 points in 48 games for Arizona. He was traded to the Blackhawks, and was an instant success. He scored 17 goals and 51 points in 58 games. Brandon Saad hasn't come close to the production of the player he was traded for, Artemi Panarin, but he scored 23 goals with 24 assists, improving on a terrible first season back in Chicago. Andrew Shaw returns to Chicago, after a career high 47 points in 63 games for Montreal last year. The Blackhawks traded 15 goal scorer Artem Anisimov to Ottawa for Zack Smith. Smith had just 28 points in 70 games last year. After a trade from Edmonton, Drake Caggiula scored five goals with seven assists in 26 games. Dylan Sikura played in 33 games, but failed to score his first NHL goal, with eight assists. Brendan Perlini scored 12 goals in 46 games after being part of the Strome trade. David Kampf scored 19 points in 63 games, and has settled in as a nice 4th line center and penalty killer. Ryan Carpenter comes from Vegas, coming off a career high 18 points. Dominik Kubalik comes from the Swiss league, after recording 57 points in 50 games.

Erik Gustafsson was one of the most surprising defensemen in the entire league last year, scoring 17 goals with 60 points in 79 games. It has been two years since Duncan Keith last got Norris votes, but while his 70 penalty minutes were his most since 2006-07, he was a 40 point scorer and +13 again. The Blackhawks traded for reinforcements on the left side, acquiring Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta. de Haan doesn't rack up many points, but he's a lock for a ton of blocked shots, a lot of hits, normally at least 100 of each, and great defensive play. Maatta is coming off a down year, with his point total cutting in half from 2017-18. He was also a healthy scratch in Pittsburgh's first round series, after returning from injury. He's still just 25. Connor Murphy, the only notable Connor M. in hockey, had a career high .25 points per game this past season, not including his 30 games in 2013-14. The Blackhawks traded young and promising right hander Henri Jokijarju, which doesn't make sense with Murphy as their top right handed shot defenseman. Brent Seabrook is one too, but he has completely fallen off. He was a -6 last year with 28 points, and at 34, his contract, with five years left with a $6.875 million cap hit, is arguably the worst in hockey. Former 10th overall pick Slater Koekkoek didn't get many chances in Tampa Bay, and after a trade to Chicago, he scored five points in 22 games. Carl Dahlstrom was decent in 38 games last year, with six assists and a +9 rating.

Corey Crawford is 34, and will be a free agent after 2019-20. He is coming off his worst career season, with a 2.93 GAA and .908 SV% in 39 games. Cam Ward was terrible as a backup last year, so the Blackhawks brought in Vezina finalist Robin Lehner on a one year deal. Lehner, who also won the Jennings and Masterton Trophies, had a .930 SV% and 2.13 GAA last year for the Islanders. If Crawford is injured, which he has been many times over the last few seasons, Colin Delia will back up Lehner. He had a .908 SV% in 16 games last year, earning himself a three year deal.

            Deep Depths
John Quenneville, a former first rounder, comes from New Jersey after scoring just one goal in 19 games last year, but he did have 39 points in 37 AHL games. Aleksi Saarela, part of the de Haan trade, made his NHL debut in the playoffs this past season, and scored 30 goals in 69 AHL games, plus seven more in 17 playoff games. Anton Wedin comes from the Swedish League. He had 27 points in 32 games last season. Alexandre Fortin scored three goals in 24 NHL games last year.

            Up and Coming
Alex Nylander, acquired for Jokijarju, was selected eighth overall in 2016, but hasn't hit his stride. He has six points in 19 career NHL games, and 31 points in 49 AHL games last year. He's still just 21. Kirby Dach, drafted third overall this past draft, had 73 points in 62 WHL games this season. He could start the season with the team. Adam Boqvist transitioned well into the OHL, with 60 points in 54 games, and he's a defenseman. Another offensive defenseman, Nicolas Beaudin, continued to dominate the QMJHL, with 56 points in 53 games. Both have chances to play in the NHL this year, but they aren't great.

            2019 draft class
Round 1, 3rd overall: Kirby Dach
Round 2, 43rd overall: Alex Vlasic
Round 4, 105th overall: Michael Teply
Round 4, 123rd overall: Antti Saarela
Round 6, 167th overall: Dominic Basse
Round 7, 194th overall: Cole Moberg

After 15 games, the Blackhawks fired legendary head coach Joel Quenneville, and hired unsuccessful player Jeremy Colliton, who wasn't bad. Colliton is 34, younger than starting goalie Corey Crawford (by 13 days), and lead defenseman Duncan Keith. Stan Bowman is still the GM, and while he has made some questionable moves in the past, he's job security seems good.

             Projected Lineup
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Dylan Sikura
Alex DeBrincat - Dylan Strome - Patrick Kane
Drake Caggiula - Zack Smith - Brendan Perlini
Ryan Carpenter - David Kampf - Andrew Shaw
Extras: Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, John Quenneville

             Duncan Keith - Calvin de Haan
             Erik Gustafsson - Connor Murphy
             Olli Maatta - Brent Seabrook
Extras: Slater Koekkoek, Carl Dahlstrom

                           Corey Crawford
                           Robin Lehner
Extras: Colin Delia

The Blackhawks are promising, but they are still aging, and they don't have the tools to go to the playoffs, even in a weak Western Conference. I predict they'll finish 6th in the Central Division.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 season preview

       Going to the playoffs in the NHL means nothing if you can't win when you get there. The Carolina Hurricanes don't make it to the playoffs often, they've made it just five times in the 21st century, but when they qualify, they make it count. They made the Conference Finals in 2018-19, their first time in the playoffs since 2008-09, which was the longest drought in the NHL. When they did make it in '09, they made it to the Conference Finals. The time before that was in 2006, when they won the Stanley Cup. Before that, they lost in the Cup finals in 2002. And in 2001, they made it to the second round. In the 21 year history of the Hurricanes, they have never lost in the first round. Their problem is getting there. They have a good chance of making the playoffs in 2019-20, but they have made the playoffs in consecutive seasons once.

         Additions: Ryan Dzingel, Erik Haula, James Reimer, Gustav Forsling, Anton Forsberg, Brian Gibbons, Chase Priskie

         Subtractions: Michael Ferland, Calvin de Haan, Curtis McElhinney, Greg McKegg, Scott Darling, Adam Fox

Sebastian Aho became the first player since Ryan O'Reilly in 2013 to be offer sheeted, as Montreal offered Aho a five year, front loaded, $42 million contract, which he accepted. Carolina quickly matched. It was a no-brainer. A $8.454 million cap hit for a player coming off a 30 goal, 83 point season is way worth it. Aho finished 10th in Hart voting and 12th in Selke. Teuvo Teravainen has gotten better in every season, especially since a trade from Chicago. He had a career high 76 points last year. Nino Niederreiter had just nine goals and 23 points in 46 games for the Wild when they traded him to Carolina for Victor Rask. After the trade, Niederreiter scored 14 goals with 30 points in 36 games. Rask had three points in 23 games for Minnesota, and his contract is looking terrible. Niederreiter would have had his best season by far on an 82 game pace for the Canes. While Justin Williams and his 53 points remain unsigned as a UFA, there is still a very good chance he returns to Carolina. The Canes could use Williams. They have a strong core of left wingers but their right wingers are lacking. They'd be playing multiple lefties on their off wing. Michael Ferland left, but they replaced him by getting a better player for less money. Ryan Dzingel had a career season in 2018-19, with 26 goals and 30 assists. But he didn't fit in well in Columbus after a trade deadline deal from Ottawa. The second overall selection in 2018, Andrei Svechnikov, had an underrated age 18 season, scoring 20 goals, though he only finished 7th in Calder voting. Jordan Staal got Selke votes for the 11th time in his 13 year career, but he only played in 50 games, amounting to 28 points, breaking a three year 45 points streak. Erik Haula comes from Vegas, where a gruesome injury ended his 2018-19 season after 15 games. He broke out in 2017-18, with 29 goals and 55 points. In his first season in Carolina, Jordan Martinook scored a career high 15 goals. Lucas Wallmark played in just 19 games entering 2018-19, but missed just one regular season game last year, scoring 10 goals with 28 points. Brock McGinn scored 10 goals after a 16 goal season, but was a +10, and averaged over two minutes on the penalty kill a game. He led Carolina forwards in that category. Warren Foegele scored two goals in two games in 2017-18, and earned himself a 2018-19 opportunity, scoring 10 goals in 77 games. Saku Maenalanen scored four goals in 34 games in a depth role.

The Hurricanes have a crop of young defensemen. Dougie Hamilton scored double digit goals for the fifth consecutive season, with a career high of 18. He lead Carolina defensemen with 39 points. Hamilton probably isn't their best defenseman. Jaccob Slavin's eight goals and 31 points aren't special, but he is an amazing defender, getting Norris votes. He averaged over 23 minutes a night. Justin Faulk could be trade bait. He scored 11 goals and 35 points last year, but he has regressed as he has hit his prime. Brett Pesce had a career high 29 points, averaged 20:29 a night, and was a +35. He finished 18th in Norris voting. The main issue with the Canes is that Pesce, Faulk and Hamilton are all right handers, and so is Trevor van Riemsdyk. The Canes don't have a great option as a lefty. Haydn Fleury will likely jump in. After playing in 67 games in 2017-18, Fleury played in just 20 last year, recording one assist, averaging 12:32 minutes. The team did trade Calvin de Haan, so they trust Fleury. Gustav Forsling, acquired for de Haan, could be an option to step in.

Petr Mrazek re-signed, which was monumental for Carolina. Mrazek got his career back on track, with a .914 SV% and 2.39 GAA after a rough two year stretch in Detroit and Philly. Curtis McElhinney left for Tampa Bay, but the team traded Scott Darling for James Reimer. Reimer has had good seasons and bad seasons in his career, and the last two have been bad. He had a .900 SV% and a 3.09 GAA for Florida last year. Alex Nedeljkovic has played in two NHL games, and has been impressive in both of them. In the AHL last year, he had a 2.26 GAA and .916 SV%. He will compete with Reimer for the backup role.

            Deep Depths
Clark Bishop debuted in a depth role, with three points in 20 games. Due to many injuries, he got to play in two playoff games. Brian Gibbons scored 29 points in 56 games for the Devils in 2017-18. He struggled last year in Anaheim but after a trade to Ottawa he had 14 points in 20 games. Anton Forsberg, a goalie that was a part of the de Haan trade, has a 3.21 GAA with a .901 V% inn 45 career NHL games. He had a 2.64 GAA and .919 SV% in the AHL last year. Max McCormick has 10 points in 71 career NHL games.

            Up and Coming
Martin Necas, drafted 12th overall in 2017, had a goal in seven NHL games last year. He had 52 points in 62 games in the AHL last year. Carolina's two first rounders in 2016, Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier, have combined for two NHL games, both coming from Bean. He had 44 points in 70 AHL games. Gauthier scored 27 goals in 75 AHL games. Both should be starters by 2020-21. Janne Kuokkanen, a 2016 second rounder, has 11 scoreless NHL games of experience. He has 78 points in 108 AHL games.

             2019 draft class
Round 1, 28th overall: Ryan Suzuki
Round 2, 36th overall: Pyotr Kochetkov
Round 2, 44th overall: Jamieson Rees
Round 3, 73rd overall: Patrick Puistola
Round 3, 83rd overall: Anttoni Honka
Round 3, 90th overall: Domenick Fensore
Round 4, 99th overall: Cade Webber
Round 4, 121st overall: Tuuka Tieksola
Round 5, 152nd overall: Kirill Slepets
Round 6, 181st overall: Kevin Wall
Round 6, 183rd overall: Blake Murray
Round 7, 216th overall: Massimo Rizzo

Under all new owner Tom Dundon, the Canes got a new GM and Head Coach, while firing Ron Francis and Bill Peters. While Peters was a Jack Adams contender in Calgary, and Francis will be running the Seattle expansion franchise, the Hurricanes are happy with how it turned out. Former Carolina great Rod Brind'Amour became Head Coach, and was an instant success. Like Peters, he was a Jack Adams contender, but not a finalist. New GM Don Waddell was a finalist for the GM of the Year award.

              Projected lineup
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Staal - Nino Niederreiter
Warren Foegele - Erik Haula - Brock McGinn
Martin Necas - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Extras: Brian Gibbons, Clark Bishop, Saku Maenalanen

               Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
               Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk
               Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Extras: Jake Bean, Gustav Forsling

                           Petr Mrazek
                           James Reimer
Extras: Alex Nedeljkovic, Anton Forsberg

The Hurricanes are a good team, but their history shows inconsistency and inability to make the playoffs. I predict they'll finish 5th in the Metropolitan Division, but still make the playoffs, potentially in a tie.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Calgary Flames 2019-20 season preview

From USA Today

       Consistency is a thing NHL teams strive for. Recently, the Calgary Flames have had none. Since 2013-14, here are their point totals, by year: 77, 97, 77, 94, 84, 107. That's an average point difference of 18 points. Their 23 point jump from 2017-18 to 2018-19 made no sense, as they traded away Dougie Hamilton and Michael Ferland, and while Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin were pleasant surprises, their biggest acquisition, James Neal, was a colossal bust. They were first in the Pacific Division, but were eliminated in the first round. A quiet offseason that saw the Flames ship out Neal for Milan Lucic, another failure of a contract, shouldn't hurt the Flames too much, but with their recent history, it isn't wild to predict a playoff miss, even in a terrible Pacific Division.

        Additions: Cam Talbot, Milan Lucic, Brandon Davidson

        Subtractions: Mike Smith, James Neal, Garnet Hathaway, Oscar Fantenberg, Curtis Lazar, Dalton Prout

The Flames' first line of Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm produced big time. Gaudreau had a career high 36 goals and 63 assists for 99 points, finishing fourth in Hart voting. Sean Monahan was finally a point per game player, with career highs in goals (34), assists (48 assists) and points (82) in 78 games. Elias Lindholm had 51 assists, and his previous career high in POINTS was 45. He also reached 20 goals for the first time, with 27. Matthew Tkachuk is currently an RFA, and wants more than the $7.75 million the Flames have in cap space. He had a career high 34 goals and 77 points, while annoying opposing players. In 224 career games, he has 228 penalty minutes. Mikael Backlund scored 21 goals with 26 assists, matching his production in 2015-16, but in five less games. It was his second best offensive season to 2016-17. Michael Frolik improved from a horrid 2017-18 season, but with one more year left until hitting free agency, he could be dealt to free up cap space. Derek Ryan had another good season at 32, matching his career high 38 points. Former 4th overall pick Sam Bennett is still a bust, but his 27 points were his highest since his rookie season. Milan Lucic is earning $6 million a year (Flames are paying $5.25) but has scored just 16 goals over the past two seasons, missing just three games. He had six last year. The Flames are hoping a chance of scenery helps. Mark Jankowski produced a career high 32 points. Not amazing for a former first rounder, but good bottom six production. In 54 games, Austin Czarnik had a career high six goals and 18 points. In his first big NHL shot, Andrew Mangiapane had 13 points in 44 games.

Entering 2018-19, Mark Giordano's career high in assists was 37. He obliterated that, with 57 assists, plus 17 goals for a career high 74 points, and a league leading +39 rating. He won the Norris trophy, capping off a career season at age 35. In his first year in Calgary, Noah Hanifin had a career high 33 points, and had a career high +18 rating. His previous career high was an awful -14. TJ Brodie has been unable to build on an 86 point stretch from 2014-15 to 2015-16. His nine goals in 2018-19 was his most since 2014-15. The Travis Hamonic trade hasn't been kind to the Flames, but he did have a career high seven goals and plus +21 rating last year. Both Hamonic and Brodie are free agents after 2019-20. The Flames likely can't afford both of them, so one could be dealt. Due to some depth on the left side, my guess would be that Brodie leaves. At 22, Rasmus Andersson had a good rookie season, with 19 points and a +17 rating. Oscar Kylington had eight points in a 38 game rookie season. He's primed for a starting role.

With Mike Smith leaving for Edmonton, the Flames signed a former Oiler in Cam Talbot. Talbot had a terrible .892 SV% and 3.40 GAA in 35 games for the Oilers and Flyers last year. He was top 5 in Vezina voting in 2016-17. He was overworked in Edmonton, with 140 games over the two year stretch from 2016-17 to 2017-18. He'll split time with David Rittich, who had a .911 SV% and 2.61 GAA last year.

In his first season with Calgary, Bill Peters was a Jack Adams candidate. GM Brad Treliving has made some questionable moves in the past, and the Lucic trade could be one of them.
          Deep Depths
Alan Quine had five points in 13 games for the Flames last year, which is a 31.5 point pace in 82 games. Enforcer Ryan Lomberg has played in 11 games over the last two seasons, with 32 penalty minutes. Byron Froese didn't play in the NHL last year, but he had 11 points in 48 games for Montreal in 2017-18. Brandon Davidson was signed after a bad run in Chicago last year. He has 162 games of experience over five seasons. Jon Gillies didn't play in the NHL last year, and was passed over by Rittich. He has a .903 SV% and 2.71 GAA in 12 career NHL games.

           Up and Coming
Dillon Dube is NHL ready. The question is whether he'll make the team. He had just five points in 25 NHL games last year, but he scored 15 goals with 39 points in 37 AHL games. Juuso Valimaki, the 16th overall pick in 2017, was primed for a starting role this year, but he tore his ACL earlier this month, which has him out indefinitely.

            2019 draft class

Round 1, 26th overall: Jakob Pelletier
Round 3, 88th overall: Ilya Nikolaev
Round 4, 116th overall: Lucas Feuk
Round 5, 150th overall: Josh Nodler
Round 7, 214th overall: Dustin Wolf

            Projection lineup
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Mikael Backlund
Milan Lucic - Mark Jankowski - Sam Bennett
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Austin Czarnik
Extras: Dillon Dube, Alan Quine

             Mark Giordano - Rasmus Andersson
             Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
             Oscar Kylington - TJ Brodie
Extras: Brandon Davidson

                         David Rittich
                         Cam Talbot
Extras: Jon Gillies
The Flames are a good team, but have shown in their past to be totally different year to year, but in a weak Pacific Division, the Flames are one of the better teams. I predict they'll finish second in the Pacific Divsion, and win one playoff round in 2019-20.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Buffalo Sabres 2019-20 season preview

         One good month in an NHL season doesn't mean anything, as Buffalo Sabres fans found out the hard way in 2018-19. As November concluded, the Sabres were tied with the Lightning for first in the NHL, with 37 points. One team would finish with 128 points. The other would finish with 76, extending a playoff drought to eight seasons. With the Hurricanes making the postseason, the Sabres' drought is now the league's longest. The Sabres made some cheap moves in the offseason, spending up to (and $1 million over) the salary cap.

         Additions: Marcus Johansson, Colin Miller, Henri Jokijarju, Jimmy Vesey, Andrew Hammond

         Subtractions: Jason Pominville, Alexander Nylander, Matt Tennyson, Danny O'Regan

The Sabres are over the cap right now, and they have 12 notable forwards that will either by a UFA or an RFA after 2019-20. Jack Eichel had his healthiest season since he was a rookie, and was a point per game player for the first time, with 82 points in 77 games, including 28 goals. He didn't need to score all the goals, since his new linemate, Jeff Skinner, broke out with 40 goals. Skinner received a very nice payday in late June. Sam Reinhart had a career high 65 points, but the former second overall pick still hasn't lived up to expectations. Conor Sheary was dumped to the Sabres as the Penguins needed cap room, then scored a career low 14 goals (not including 2015-16, when he played in 44 games). Marcus Johansson enters on a two year deal. He dealt with many injuries in his two seasons in New Jersey, but scored 11 points in 22 games for the Bruins this postseason. Jimmy Vesey hasn't lived up to expectations after the Hobey Baker award, and the Rangers dealt him for cap room for Artemi Panarin. He has scored 17 goals in two straight seasons. Rookie Casey Mittelstadt was hyped up heavily before the season, but scored just 12 goals with 13 assists in 77 games. Kyle Okposo was healthy, but posted his worst full season numbers ever. Evan Rodrigues had a nice 29 point season playing decent minutes. Zemgus Girgensons scored a career low five goals, but was a big part of Buffalo's penalty kill. Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson and Patrik Berglund, the three players acquired for 2019 Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly, combined for 29 points in 157 games, and Berglund was eventually released. Thompson is still 21, so there is hope. Scott Wilson was a -8 in 15 games last year, so don't expect him to get much action. Johan Larsson rebounded from a -30 2017-18, but he still had a weak season.

The Sabres have 11 defensemen who could legitimately get a shot this year, so it's a surprise that they haven't traded one yet. Rasmus Ristolainen probably should have been dealt already, as the team acquired Brandon Montour last February, plus Colin Miller and Henri Jokijarju in the offseason. All three players are right handed, like Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian and Casey Nelson. Ristolainen was a league worst -41, but he did hit the 40 point mark again. Reigning first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin was a Calder finalist, and at 18, he had 44 points while playing 21 minutes a game. Colin Miller had 29 points in 65 games for Vegas last year, but he was passed over as their cap crunch hurt. Brandon Montour ended up costing them a first and prospect Brendan Guhle, but he had 10 points in 20 games after the trade. Zach Bogosian might see less time as the Sabres added defensemen, and he is one year away from free agency. Henri Jokijarju was good as a 19 year old in 38 NHL games for Chicago last year. Jake McCabe has been unable to be anything better than a third pairing defenseman. Lawrence Pilut was good in 33 games. Matt Hunwick played in just 14 games, and his playing days are ending fast. Casey Nelson had a good season, but is another player that will be hurt by this offseason's additions. Marco Scandella has been a -28 in two seasons as a Sabre.

Carter Hutton was amazing for St. Louis in 2017-18, but was terrible as a starter last year, with a 3.00 GAA and .908 SV%. Linus Ullmark had similar numbers as his backup. Andrew "The Hamburgular" Hammond enters as the third goalie.

               Deep Depths
Remi Elie was claimed off waivers from Dallas, then had an assist in 16 games. CJ Smith scored two goals in 11 games, but was nearly a point per game player in the AHL. Former 17th overall pick Curtis Lazar is on to his 3rd organization after failing to break through in Ottawa and Calgary. JS Dea had six points in 23 games for New Jersey and Pittsburgh last year.

               Up and Coming
The Sabres drafted Dylan Cozens 7th overall, and while he has already had thumb surgery, the big forward could be a starter by 2020-21. He had 84 points in 68 WHL games. Victor Olofsson scored 30 goals in 66 AHL games, then scored four goals in six NHL games. He is in line for a starting role. William Borgen was gifted a four game NHL cameo last year. The Sabres own the top goalie prospect in Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who had a great OHL season as he transferred to North America.

                 2019 draft class
Round 1, 7th overall: Dylan Cozens
Round 1, 31st overall: Ryan Johnson
Round 3, 67th overall: Erik Portillo
Round 4, 102nd overall: Aaron Huglen
Round 5, 143rd overall: Filip Cederqvist
Round 6, 160th overall: Lukas Rousek

Jason Botterill is still the GM, but if the Sabres struggle again, he might be gone. Ralph Krueger is the new head coach. Since Lindy Ruff's 14+ season tenure as Sabres' bench boss ended 17 games into 2012-13 season, Krueger is Buffalo's 5th head coach.

                  Projected Lineup
Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Conor Sheary - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson
Jimmy Vesey - Evan Rodrigues - Marcus Johansson
Johan Larsson - Zemgus Girgensons - Kyle Okposo
Extras: Vladimir Sobotka, Scott Wilson, Tage Thompson

                 Rasmus Dahlin - Rasmus Ristolainen
                 Henri Jokijarju - Brandon Montour
                 Jake McCabe - Colin Miller
Extras: Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella, Casey Nelson, Lawrence Pilut

                                     Carter Hutton
                                     Linus Ullmark
Extras: Andrew Hammond

The Sabres have gotten better from 2018-19, but the changes aren't drastic. They are playing in a tough Eastern Conference. I predict they will once again miss the playoffs, finishing 6th in the Atlantic Division again.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Boston Bruins 2019-20 season preview


      Over the course of an 82 game NHL season (and more including playoffs), a team is bound to a have a bad game. For the Boston Bruins, it happened at the worst time. Game seven of the Stanley Cup finals saw the Bruins get dominated at home by the Blues, as Boston lost their second Cup final of the decade, but at least they won one. On the bright side, they tied for second in the NHL, they had a lethal power play throughout the regular season and postseason, and each member of their first line was well over a point per game, even missing a lot of time. While they aren't the youngest team, and they have cap issues, the Bruins are still in a very good position.

       Additions: Brett Ritchie, Par Lindholm, Maxime Legace, Brendan Gaunce

       Subtractions: Marcus Johansson, Noel Acciari, Gemel Smith, Zane McIntyre

Probably the second best line in all of hockey, the Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak line each scored 30 goals, and combined for 260 points in 210 games, or 1.24 points per game. For perspective, the leading scorer in 2018-19, Nikita Kucherov, scored 1.56 points per game. While Bergeron will be 34 and Marchand 31, Pastrnak is just 23, and all three are signed for at least three more seasons each at a steal of a cap hit under $7 million. Second line center David Krejci chipped in for 53 assists, plus 20 goals, making his $7.25 million cap hit worth it. The infamous 2015 draft had many superstars, and while the Bruins had three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round, and missed on two of them, Jake DeBrusk did score 27 goals, a career high. Charlie Coyle was acquired in a February trade, and while he was terrible in the regular season, with six points in 21 games post trade, he became a post season hero, with nine goals and seven assists in 24 games. He can center or play right wing. Danton Heinen took a step back, but 11 goals and 34 points isn't terrible third line production. The David Backes contract is a disaster. Backes was a healthy scratch in the final two games of the Stanley Cup final, and had just seven goals and 13 assists in 70 regular season games. Karson Kuhlman, who replaced Backes in those final two games, had five points in 11 regular season games, then had three points in eight playoff games. The Bruins' fourth line was strong in the playoffs, lead by Sean Kuraly, who had a career high 21 points, including 10 more in the playoffs. In his first year as a Bruin, Joakim Nordstrom scored seven goals, and three more in the postseason. He was also a big part of their penalty kill. While the final member of that line, Noel Acciari, left for Florida, Brett Ritchie replaces him. Ritchie scored 16 goals in 2016-17, but had been passed over in Dallas the last two years. Chris Wagner was hurt in the playoffs, but had a career high 12 goals and 19 points. Par Lindholm is extra insurance, though the Bruins don't need it.

Captain Zdeno Chara is back for another season. He is now 42, but still playing top minutes. He averaged 21:05 minutes a game, plus 3:02 on the penalty kill. If it is Big Z's last season, he'll be a first ballot hall of famer. Chara's partner, Charlie McAvoy, became Boston's best defenseman, leading them in average ice time (22:10), while scoring 28 points in just 54 games. He is currently an RFA, so it will be interesting to see how much money he gets. Another current RFA, Brandon Carlo, only had 10 points, but averaged nearly 21 minutes a night, and was tied with Chara for second on the team with a +22 rating. Torey Krug is a UFA after the season, and the team will want to lock him up. He had a career high 47 assists in 2018-19. Matt Grzelcyk missed time in the Cup finals due to a concussion, but he had a second consecutive solid season, with 18 points, getting more than a two minute jump in ice time. Connor Clifton had just one point in 19 regular season games, but earned the trust in head coach Bruce Cassidy in the playoffs, playing in 18 games, and scored his first two NHL goals. Kevan Miller had a very unlucky season, dealing with multiple injuries that saw him miss the entire postseason. He's now likely been passed over by Clifton. John Moore signed a questionable five year deal in the offseason, dealt with injuries, and was a healthy scratch in multiple playoff games. He's the 8th defenseman. Steven Kampfer had his highest goal total since his rookie season, but he's far back in the depth chart on a healthy team.

Tuukka Rask is now 32, and has been very inconsistent. The former Vezina winner had a .912 SV% and 2.48 GAA in the regular season, but was sensational in the playoffs, with a .934 SV% and a 2.02 GAA. In 89 playoff games, he has a .927 SV% and a 2.19 GAA, but hasn't won a Stanley Cup as a starter (he was Tim Thomas' backup when they won in 2011). Jaroslav Halak enjoyed a nice bounce back season, adapting to life as a backup. He had a .922 SV% and 2.34 GAA.

             Deep Depths
Paul Carey started the season by playing five games for the Senators, then finished it playing two more for the Bruins. For the AHL Providence Bruins, he scored 22 goals in 30 games. Anton Blidh had another mediocre AHL season, as he has fallen on the depth chart. Maxime Legace enters as the third goalie.

              Up and Coming
The Bruins have ton of young players ready for NHL action by 2020-21. Anders Bjork entered the season eyeing a starting role, but he struggled in 20 NHL games, and injuries cost him a season, and a place on the depth chart. Former first rounder Trent Frederic was gifted a 15 game cameo, and while he averaged a penalty minute a game, he was  -4 and failed to get his first NHL point. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson had nine points in 28 NHL games, but he's not in line for an NHL job. Part of that 2015 bust of a Bruins draft class, Zach Senyshyn scored his first NHL goal in a two game season, but hasn't even scored 15 goals in two AHL seasons. Jack Studnicka goes to the AHL after scoring 24 goals in 30 OHL games. Top prospect Urho Vaakanainen made his NHL debut, and was decent in 30 AHL games. The last Bruins' first rounder in 2015, Jakub Zboril debuted, but hasn't been able to get past four goals and 15 assists in two AHL seasons.

                2019 draft class

Round 1, 30th overall: John Beecher
Round 3, 92nd overall: Quinn Olson
Round 5, 154th overall: Roman Bychkov
Round 6, 185th overall: Matias Mantykivi
Round 7, 192nd overall: Jake Schmaltz

Bruce Cassidy has received Jack Adams consideration the past two seasons, and unless the Bruins endure a terrible season, he'll stay behind the bench for the next couple of seasons. Don Sweeney won the GM of the Year award.

                Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Chris Wagner
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Brett Ritchie
Extras: David Backes, Par Lindholm, Anders Bjork

               Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
               Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
               Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton
Extras: Kevan Miller, John Moore, Steven Kampfer

                                Tuuka Rask
                                Jaroslav Halak
Extras: Maxime Legace

The Bruins are a really good team, which was demonstrated by them making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018-19. They may not make it back there in 2019-20, but they have a really good chance of winning it all, even with the Lightning in their division. I predict the Bruins will finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division, making the playoffs, and winning at least one round.