Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings Draft Analysis

The Detroit Red Wings turned the draft on its head with the sixth pick. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman provided the first “Hold my Beer” moment of the draft by taking the high rising, high-upside, right-handed defender Mortiz Seider from the DEL. The “Yzerplan” was fully underway.

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The Picks

Moritz Seider, RHD, Alder Mannheim (DEL), Round 1, 6th overall

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The big right-handed blue liner has been rising on draft boards over the last three months. Seider was often ranked as the second or third best defender in the draft come June, usually in the top-15. Taking the German born and trained Seider at sixth overall may have been a bit of reach at the draft time but in a few years we may realize Wings general manager Steve Yzerman’s genius. He’s a mobile, 6’4″ right shot defender who excelled in latter half of the year playing against men in the DEL (top German league). Seider possesses the ability to defend with efficiency. He uses his long reach and stick to disrupt plays and isn’t afraid to close out and engage physically. Offensively, he showed promise at the junior level and on the international stage, including during his men’s World Championship with the German national team. Although this may seem like a reach at the time of the draft, even Moritz Seider looked surprised to hear his name so early, but could end up being looked back upon in a much more positive light. Grade C+

Antti Tuomisto, RHD, Ässät U20 (Jr A SM-Liiga), Round 2, 35th overall

Another big, right-handed rearguard for Detroit. Another pick that may have been slightly higher than anticipated but a good player nonetheless. An interesting fact about Antti Tuomisto is that he was set to be promoted to the Liiga but declined the promotion because he wanted to preserve his NCAA eligibility. This led to his stock not being as high as it could have been. He has a big shot from the blue line and makes a good first pass in transition. More of a passer to transport the puck than a puck carrier but he’s a strong skater at 6’5″, 198lbs. Defensively he is solid and creates separation with his large frame. He doesn’t seek out big hits, rather he engages physically with purpose. He does have a bit of an edge to his game, being suspended for crossing the line at the U18s with a knee-on-knee. With the likelihood that he fills his large frame out and his advanced hockey IQ, his defensive positioning is likely to improve over time. Grade B-

Robert Mastrosimone, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL), Round 2, 54th overall

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The first forward taken by the Red Wings was a smaller winger (5’10”, 170lbs) who was a goal scorer at the USHL. He is a decent skater but not could work on it. Robert Mastrosimone has a good first step but his top speed isn’t anything to ride home about. He has a good shot and excellent hands. He will need to learn when and when not to use his go-to move, the toe drag, to get around players. He uses the toe drag on shots as well which is an excellent skill to have as it changes the angle on the shot and deceives goalies with the shot. He will need to get stronger but the skill is there. Defensively, he’s inconsistent but shows a good ability to get his stick on passing lanes. He isn’t going to be a physical presence in the defensive zone but his stick work helps make up for it. Grade B+

Albert Johansson, LHD, Färjestad BK (SHL), Round 2, 60th Overall

A 6’0″ defender who skates well, see the ice and makes good crisp passes. Albert Johansson has a good first step, accelerates quickly and has good top-speed. He carries the puck well and has good hands as a blue liner. He has a good hard shot thats accurate from the point. Seems to get the puck through traffic more often than not. He isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and may need to hone in when to shoot it and when to pass it off. He’s very poised in his own end and does a decent job defending but could definitely work on his positioning when the opposition gains the zone and sustains pressure. He has very high hockey sense and the poise allows him to make good passes under pressure. He has a strong overall game but doesn’t “wow” anyone. Grade B

Albin Grewe, RW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL), Round 3, 66th Overall

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Graded by most as a late-first/early-second round pick, Detroit getting Albin Grewe (pronounces Gre-vah) in the third round is a steal. The Swedish winger plays like a bulldog. He is built like a truck at just 6’0″ tall, 195lbs. He is a combination of grit and skill. Grewe has the ability to turn the momentum of a game on its head. He can get a big hit on he defensive end, get the puck through the neutral zone before dangling a defender and putting the puck top shelf. He’s often been compared to Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi stylistically and if he falls anywhere on that spectrum this third round pick will be a steal. Grade A

The Lottery Tickets: Round 4 and Beyond

Ethan Phillips, C, Sioux Falls (USHL), Round 4, 97th Overall

Good two-way center who is quite undersized. At just 5’9″ and 146lbs, Phillips will be a project. He excels defensively and could be a good penalty kill player at the next level. He was a big factor in the Sioux Falls’ USHL title this past year. He will be attending Boston University in the fall.

Cooper Moore, LHD, Brunswick High School (USHS-Prep), Round 5, 128th Overall

High school players are hard to project because the level of competition is generally low. This is a home run swing late in the draft. In a game where his team was down 6-3 with three minutes left in the third period, he put the team on his back and scored three goals, as a defenceman, to tie the game. He almost scored again in overtime which would have been his SIXTH goal of the game. This was a late round flyer that could pay off big time later. Moore is going to play in the BCHL next year and then at the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

Elmer Söderblom, RW/LW, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 159th Overall

The massive winger is an excellent stick handler. Although intimidating at 6’7″ and 220lbs, there seems to be more skill than grit in his game. Plays on the perimeter for the most part but likes to take the puck to the net with his stick handling prowess. Taking a flyer on a forward of this size and skill set is the perfect 6th round pick.

Gustav Berglund, RHD, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 177th Overall

A right-handed defender who progressed through the junior ranks in Sweden through the year. Good size and talent but had a rough start to the year. He was living on his own and had a hard time adjusting initially but once he was sorted out by his team and coaches in Sweden he began to excel.

Kirill Tyutyayev, RW/LW, Avto Yekaterinburg (MHL), Round 7, 190th Overall

Tyutyayev dominated the MHL, the Russian junior league, this year. He was his teams leading scoring in the regular season and playoffs. A long-term project, he possesses good puck skills, a decent offensive game and potential to get better with time. A good 7th round swing for the fences.

Carter Gylander, G, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), Round 7, 191st Overall

A goalie in the seventh round. He’s big, 6’5″, but needs to fill out his frame as he sits at 172lbs. Good numbers in a second tier Canadian junior league. He will return to Sherwood Park next season before he attends Colgate University in 2020-21.

Draft Summary

The Detroit Red Wings draft was a bit controversial. Taking Seider with players such as Trevor Zegras and Dylan Cozens still available. Seider is a good blue liner who could be a solid 2/3 defenceman who could be a strong defender and underrated offensive contributor. Based on public lists and rankings, it was a bit of a reach with the sixth overall pick.

The value that the Red Wings got in round two and three was good. Tuomisto, much like Seider, is a good player and excellent addition to the defensive pipeline for the Wings but may have been take slightly ahead of where he should have been. Mastrosimone and Johansson were high-upside picks who need to work on areas of their game but if they can harness the obvious skills they have and build on their weaknesses, they could be solid contributors with some time. Grewe may have been the steal of the draft. With many rankings and talent evaluators putting a late first round grade on him, getting the high-motor Swedish pinball could pay huge dividends within a few seasons.

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Overall, Steve Yzerman began the “Yzerplan” with a high-risk, high-reward 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He took the guys that he, along with his scouting team in Detroit, seems the best player available in Seider and then continued to stock pile defenders who play a good two-way game and highly competitive forwards who have never ending motors. Yzerman had a directive of the type of players that he felt the Detroit organization needed and he did an excellent job sticking to his guns and filling them when he say fit.

 

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Florida Panthers: Evaluating Their 2019 Draft

The Florida Panthers went into the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Vancouver with the 13th overall pick and came out with nine new names in their depth chart. 

 

Overall, the best word to describe the Panthers’ performance in Vancouver is: okay. Just okay.  Nothing phenomenal, nothing crippling.  Just… okay.  Personally, I am a big proponent of drafting the best available talent, but General Manager Dale Tallon and co. clearly went into the draft with team needs on their minds.  A team that struggled defensively and in net invested heavily in their own end with this draft; the Panthers only used one of their first five picks on a forward but tried to stock the cabinets in the later rounds.  So how did they do with each pick?

 

Round 1, Pick 13: Spencer Knight, G (US National U18 Team)

 

Spencer Knight was not just the top goalie prospect in this year’s draft, but one of the best goalie prospects the NHL has seen in a long time.  That said, drafting goalies is a very tricky business, as goalies are much harder to evaluate and generally take longer to develop. 

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The Panthers clearly wanted a defenseman with their first-round pick, but by the time they stepped up to the podium, Victor Soderstrom, Philip Broberg, and Moritz Seider were all off the board.  Tallon allegedly had some discussions with other GMs about trading down, but they proved fruitless and the Panthers ultimately used their given pick on Knight.  With the big-three defensemen off the board, I understand and am generally okay with the Panthers reaching a little bit for Knight.  Hopefully, he turns into every bit the franchise goalie that the analysts are projecting and the Panthers don’t regret passing on the likes of Cole Caufield and Peyton Krebs.

 

Pick feel: fine, given the circumstances

I would’ve picked: Cole Caufield

 

Round 2, Pick 52: Vladislav Kolyachonok, D (Flint Firebirds, OHL)

 

Drafted by the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and traded to the Flint Firebirds, Kolyachonok had 30 points in 54 games as a rookie defenseman in the OHL, in addition to scoring five points in five games as Belarus’ captian at the World U18 Championship.  The Panthers may have lost out on Broberg, Seider, and Soderstrom, but Kolyachonok, described as a responsible, two-way defenseman who excels at moving the puck and moving himself, immediately becomes the best defensive prospect in their system.

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Pick feel: great

I would’ve picked: Mikko Kokkonen

 

Round 3, Pick 69: John Ludvig, D (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)

 

Undrafted in 2018, John Ludvig’s second Western Hockey League season, while an improvement on his first, still left much to be desired.  The 6’1” defenseman is known more for fighting than scoring, having recorded more penalty minutes than points in each of his seasons with Portland so far.  Many mocks had him going in the seventh round, if at all, and nothing I have seen in any stat sheet or highlight reel justifies this pick to me either.  This was easily the worst pick the Panthers made in Vancouver and possibly one of the worst overall picks of the entire draft.

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Pick feel: not nice

I would’ve picked: nearly anyone else, but especially Mikko Kokkonen, who was STILL on the board.

 

Round 3, Pick 81: Cole Schwindt, W (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL)

 

The Panthers followed up their worst pick in the draft by making one of their better picks in the draft. The 17-year-old 6’2” forward Schwindt might not have lit the OHL up himself, but he is a very effective play driver at five-on-five.  In significant minutes, Schwindt had a massively positive impact on his teammates’ (including fellow Panthers prospect Owen Tippett) possession stats, which is a very good sign moving forward.

 

Pick feel: much better than the last one

I would’ve picked: STILL MIKKO KOKKONEN

 

Round 4, Pick 106: Carter Berger, D (Victoria Grizzlies, BCHL)

 

The last of the defensemen with whom Florida left Vancouver, Berger is a skilled, though over-aged, defenseman.  He notched 27 goals and 36 assists (63 points) in his second draft-eligible season and is set to move up to the NCAA and play for UCONN this coming season.

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Pick feel: no strong feelings one way or the other

I would’ve picked: Antti Saarela

 

Round 5, Pick 136: Henrik Rybinski, W (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

 

If any of the Panthers’ draft picks is eventually described as a diamond in the rough, it will be Hank Rybinski.  Rybinski began this season very slowly with the Medicine Hat Tigers, but exploded onto the scene after a trade to the Seattle Thunderbirds.  The 17-year-old finished his WHL season with 40 points in 47 games, but was a point-per-game player for Seattle.  Rybinski is strong on the puck, but is certainly more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer himself.  If Seattle continues to use him in more significant ice time, his development could be a pleasant surprise.

 

Pick feel: unreasonably excited for a fifth-rounder

I would’ve picked: Henrik Rybinski too.  Good job, team.

 

Round 5, Pick 137: Owen Lindmark, C (US National U18 Team)

 

The second American-born player that the Panthers drafted over the weekend will follow up a 14-point USHL and 25-point USDP campaign by playing at the University of Wisconsin this coming season. A reasonably sound winger, Lindmark did not particularly wow anybody in any facet of the game, but he didn’t cause much disruption either.

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Pick feel: good enough, he just seems happy to be involved

I would’ve picked: Mason Primeau if you really twisted my arm about it.

 

Round 6, Pick 168: Greg Meireles, C (Kitchener Rangers, OHL)/Round 7, Pick 199: Matthew Wedman, C (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

 

I am going to lump Meireles and Wedman in with each other because the things I have to say about both are strikingly similar.  Both Meireles and Wedman are 20 years old and just completed their third season of draft eligibility.  Both outperformed their previous career highs by significant margins.  Meireles finished 10th in points in the OHL and Wedman 20th in the WHL, but that should be expected, given their age, development, and experience.  I certainly don’t hate taking a flyer on a pair of potential late-bloomers in the sixth/seventh round.

 

Pick feel: *shrug emoji*

I would’ve picked: Michael Gildon both times

Statistics provided by hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

2019 NHL Draft: Potential Gems Part 1 – Atlantic Division

Welcome to a new series I’m starting here on Puck77. Hidden gems in the NHL Draft.

 
If you couldn’t tell already, I’m an absolute draft nut. And I was starting to get antsy with me not having done a prospect series of some sort in a while. One of my favourite weekends of the year just wrapped up, and as a result, all 31 NHL teams have a new crop of young talent in the pipelines. Some of them could be hall of famers, some of them could be NHL mainstays, some of them might not even see a game of professional hockey. But that’s the beauty of the draft. And to give you all a little more information on who to look out for, I’m going to start a series going over one potential hidden gem from each team’s 2019 draft class. Without further ado, let’s kick things off with the Atlantic Division.
 

Boston Bruins – Matias Mantykivi (D, 6th Round, 185th Overall)

 
The Bruins went slightly off the board with their first round pick and drafted forward John Beecher, a dynamic centre who has good size and great offensive tendencies to make it a good selection overall. Because they didn’t have a second or a fourth round pick, they ended up picking four more players on day two, with one of them being Matias Mantykivi.
 
Mantykivi is a small Finnish defenseman who spent the majority of this season palying for SaiPa U20 of the Jr. A SM-Liiga, which is essentially Finland’s junior league. He was very good offensively this season, putting up 36 points over 34 games for the team while also seeing some ice time with Kettera of the Mestis league (Finland’s version of the AHL) and Saipa of the SM-Liiga, their top league. It’s unknown where he will be playing next season, but the most likely scenario is that he remains in Finland to further develop his game until the Bruins believe he’s ready to come to North America.
 

Buffalo Sabres – Filip Cederqvist (LW, 5th Round, 143rd Overall)

 
Without a doubt, the Sabres’ most hyped up pick was forward Dylan Cozens, taken at seventh overall. The big centre from the WHL could look to provide a really solid one-two punch with Jack Eichel eventually. They also selected a solid two way defenseman at 31st overall in Ryan Johnson. After these two were selected, the Sabres went on to make four more picks, three of them being forwards and one of them being a goaltender. If I have to pick one of these guys to be a potential hidden gem, I’m going with Filip Cederqvist.
 
After getting passed over last year in his first year of eligibility, the Sabres took a flier on Cederqvist in the fifth round and it looks like a pick that could pay off for them. The Skara, Sweden native is a 6’1 winger who spent most of this season playing for the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL and had a pretty solid campaign, putting up eight points in 33 games. He also spent time with the Lakers’ J20 team where he put up 32 points in 26 games. As of now, it seems like Cederqvist will spend most of his development in Sweden, but he could turn out to be something for the Sabres.
 

Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe (LW, 3rd Round, 66th Overall)

 
The Red Wings had one of the busiest days at the draft of any team, leaving Rogers Arena with 11 new prospects under their belts. Their first pick was off the board, but not surprising to me at all, taking German defenseman Moritz Seider at sixth overall. I firmly believe Seider could turn out to be a gem for the Wings, seeing that he wasn’t getting much coverage playing in Germany. But that’s a post for another time.
 
Instead, I’m going with Albin Grewe as the Wings’ hidden gem (his last name is pronounced Gree-vay. Don’t make the same mistake I did). He’s said to be a gritty winger who can also put the puck in the back of the net. Through 25 games with Djurgardens IF J20 of the SHL’s junior league, he put up 34 points. He’s under contract with Djurgardens IF of the SHL, and will more than likely start next season on the main squad rather than in the minors. I personally had Grewe going mid-second round, so the fact that they took him in the third round strikes me as a potential steal for the Red Wings.
 

Florida Panthers – Cole Schwindt (C, 3rd Round, 81st Overall)

 
With Roberto Luongo on the brink of retirement and James Reimer entertaining the possibility of getting bought out, it’s not at all surprising that the Panthers went with the top goaltending prospect in Spencer Knight as their first round pick. They had a busy day on day two, leaving with eight more draft picks. Out of all of the Panthers’ mid-to-late rounders, Cole Schwindt was the one that stood out to me.
 
The 6’2 Kitchener native spent this season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, and finished a solid campaign with 49 points in 68 games. He has good size and he’s only 18 years old, so another year or two in the OHL could do wonders for him until the Panthers are ready to bring him to the pros. There’s a great chance we could see Schwindt turn into something.
 

Montreal Canadiens – Arsen Khisamutdinov (LW, 6th Round, 170th Overall)

 
The Habs got one of the first presumed steals of the draft in the first round, selecting forward Cole Caufield at 15th overall when he was projected to go as high as seventh overall. Like the Red Wings, the Canadiens had a busy day at the draft and left with ten new prospects. One of these ones was Arsen Khisamutdinov.
 
Khisamutdinov (I feel bad for the announcer who has to say that name) is an overage forward who was born in 1998 and spent this season playing back home in Russia. The 6’3 winger spent the majority of this season playing for Reaktor Nizhnekamsk of the MHL (Russia’s version of the CHL) and also impressed in a small sample size with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the KHL, putting up five points over nine games. There always seems to be a number of overage Russians that go in the mid rounds of drafts, and Khisamutdinov looks like he could become a solid pickup for the Habs.
 

Ottawa Senators – Mads Sogaard (G, 2nd Round, 37th Overall)

 
The Senators could have had the fourth overall pick in this draft but sacrificed it in the deal that brought them Matt Duchene (who isn’t with the team anymore). Regardless, they ended up getting a first round pick back from the Columbus Blue Jackets in an ironic deal that sent Duchene to the Jackets. Either way, one first round pick is better than none, and they used theirs to select Lassi Thomson, a solid Finnish defenseman from the WHL. While they only selected six players this past weekend, they might have found a gem in Mads Sogaard.
 
It might be hard to call Sogaard a gem considering he’s a second round pick who was picked right around where he was projected to be, but he has potential to become a really good starting goalie in the league. The 6’7 Danish goalie spent this season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and finished with a record of 19-8-2 with a GAA of 2.64 and a save percentage of .921 to go with it. He will likely head back to the WHL for at least one more season, but he could turn out to be something special for the Sens.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning – Max Crozier (D, 4th Round, 120th Overall)

 
After drafting defenseman Cal Foote in the first round a couple of years back, the Lightning went with his younger brother in 2019, drafting forward Nolan Foote. The Bolts drafted a total of seven players in 2019, and one player in particular that sticks out as a potential gem is Max Crozier.
Crozier spent this season playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, putting up 43 points in 60 games from the back end. Being 6’1 and right-handed, he already has an edge in terms of value over some other players. He’s committed to play for Providence College of the NCAA next year, and it will be interesting to see how he develops over a couple years of college hockey.
 

Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikko Kokkonen (D, 3rd Round, 84th Overall)

 
The Maple Leafs didn’t have a first round pick in 2019, but kicked things off in the second round by selecting skilled forward Nick Robertson at 53rd overall. They only made six picks this year, but their potential gem might have come in the third round in the form of Mikko Kokkonen.
 
After reading some scouting reports on his game, he was described as the type of defenseman who won’t blow you away with any one aspect of his game, but plays a steady all around game. He put up 16 points in 59 games for Jukurit of the SM-Liiga and is known to be good defensively as well. If his development goes according to plan, it’s possible he could cap out as a good top four defenseman at the NHL level.
 
Thanks for reading. Tune in next time when we’ll be going over a potential gem from each Central Division team.
Puck77

Top 10 Bounce Back Candidates for the 2019/20 NHL Season

Which players in line for a bounce back season?

Every season there is always a couple great players that have a bad season where you go, “What Happened??” (Looks at the career of Scott Gomez and cringes).

Now sometimes it is because of injury, some because of going to a new team and some just get old. Point is these players can’t always have perfect seasons unless you’re Nicklas Lidstrom and your nickname is the “Perfect Human.” So I am here today to give these players and you some optimism for some players that I think can have a bounce-back season!

For this list, I won’t be including Rookies, because they have just one season on record, or players over 35 because of the likelihood they bounce back is very low. Also will not include goalers because guessing what goalie is going to be “good and bad” from season to season is like trying to find Brad Marchand‘s tears on the ice after game 7. (Too soon?) Anyway let’s get into it

10. Ondrej Palat (28 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 64 Games Played, 8 Goals, 26 Assists, 34 points, +4

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Remember the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015 when they had that cute triplet line of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat? It looked like all three would be the new cornerstones of the team. Since then the Lightning has seen Kucherov become a perennial candidate for the Art Ross Trophy, Johnson hasn’t had over 50 points since that 2015 season and Ondrej Palat just hasn’t been healthy. Over the last 3 seasons Palat has only played 195 possible games out of 246 and prior to that hasn’t played a”full season” since the 16/17 season when he only missed 7 games. I am choosing him as a bounce-back candidate because the Lightning are going to need him to step up with the possible shedding of players following the rapture that was the sweep in this year’s playoffs and the likelihood of Brayden Point sitting out looming because of a contract dispute. Palat will get every chance on Tampa to get back over 60 points only if he stays healthy.

9. Derick Brassard (31 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 70 Games played, 14 G, 9 Assists, 23 Points, -19

When you get traded 2 times during one season usually that isn’t a good sign. A decent 3rd/ 2nd line center that can get you 40-50 points regularly Brassard had a rough time last year getting traded twice from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Florida Panthers after only getting 15 points up to the trade, then finished his season with the Colorado Avalanche with a combined 8 points during his time with the Panthers and the Avs’. So safe to say he had a rough year. As a UFA this summer he could end up being a great addition for a team looking for center depth and could surprise a lot of people after what was one of the worst seasons of his career.

8. Ryan Getzlaf (34 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 67 Games Played, 14 Goals, 34 Assists, 48 Points, -19

With only playing 67 games and 56 the season prior, combined with the team around him eroding quickly, the Anaheim Ducks Captain has been under some tough times. Being very close to my age cut off for players it made choosing Getzlaf a somewhat difficult choice but seeing now that he has a new head coach and a whole summer for him and his teammates to get healthy (The Ducks only had one player play the full 82 games last season) this could be a season that sees not only Getzlaf get high point totals but the Ducks team as a whole could rebound.

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7. Rickard Rakell (26 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 69 Games Played, 18 Goals, 25 Assists, 43 Points, -13

This is the only time I will be putting two players from the same team on this but it had to be said. As one of my favorite players in the NHL, watching Rakell struggle with injuries and just look tired last season sucked for me as a fan. Maybe it was the factor a lot more stress was put on him with Getzlaf and Perry being out for major stretches of the season or even him dealing with his own injuries it just didn’t look like the Rakell I was used to seeing the last couple seasons and I believe with a strong healthy season out of him and his teammates he will be back over 60 points next season.

6. Alexander Wennberg (24 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 75 Games Played, 2 Goals, 23 Assists, 25 Points, -1

Prior to the 2017/18 season, it looked like Wennberg was going to be a core member of the up and coming Jackets core having come off of 59 point season and had just signed a 6 year, 29 Million Dollar deal. This deal looked like a steal because he was going to get 60-70 points the rest of this contract and was going to be the 1st line center that they needed due to them trading Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones. Fast forward 2 seasons, 141 games, healthy scratches and only 60 points combined later it looks like a contract the Jackets want to get rid of. I believe that next season is a make or break season for Wennberg with the Jackets not signing Matt Duchene the 2nd line Center position is his to take. If he continues to struggle though he will find himself on another team pretty quick.

5. Max Pacioretty (30 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 66 Games Played, 22 Goals, 18 Assists, 40 Points, -13

How quickly people forget a player’s struggles if they have a great playoff. During the playoffs having only played 7 games he scored 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points and all was forgiven. I was one of those people until I looked at his point outputs the last 2 seasons. During his last season with the Montreal Canadiens, he had only 17 goals along with 37 points (a full 30 point drop from the season prior) and had only played 64 games. He was then traded to Vegas the following summer and was promptly signed to a 4 year 28 Million dollar (7 Mil Average) contract not even playing a game yet with the team. This season he got over 20 goals again but had only 40 points and was injured. He started to get going later on in the season having gotten used to his linemates (Was often Paul Stastny who was also injured)  and it looked good and thus lead up to his playoff performance. Now, this season lets see if he can put it all together and get back to his 35-40 goal self having had a full season in a new system and hopefully better injury luck.

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4. Drew Doughty (29 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 82 Games Played, 8 Goals, 37 Assists, 45 Points, -34

Bet you thought I wasn’t going to do any defensemen! For most defenders, this stat line wouldn’t be terrible (Besides the +/-) but for Drew Doughty who is considered one of the best of his kind, this was not a great year for him or the Kings. Having only been a minus player twice in his career this -34 stat sticks out. The point totals were there but the play all around seemed to lack. For Doughty, it isn’t like he just forgot how to play hockey but his level of play was not of that of his Norris Caliber of a couple year ago. When Doughty plays like one of the best D’s in the league the Kings do well. And while it may be a long shot for the Kings to get back into playoff contention a Bounce back year from Doughty will bring them that much closer.

3. Jordan Eberle (29 y/o)

Season Stats 2018/19 – 78 Games Played, 19 Goals, 18 Assists, 37 Points, -6

If you’re Canadian you’ll remember Jordan Eberle’s run in the world Juniors 2009 where he was an absolute monster. (Go look up his highlights from then you won’t be disappointed) If you’re anybody else then you will remember him being a cog of a very broken Edmonton Oilers team that traded him after one bad playoff performance. Which was his only playoff experience considering the team hadn’t made the postseason since 2006. Flash forward to now and you have a player who just signed a 5-year deal after having a great playoff. Eberle can get you 25-30 goals and 50-60 points. Last season didn’t go well for him and I expect after signing a nice deal, having a great playoff (9 Points in 8 games) and having gotten used to playing under Barry Trots, Ebs’ will be back as one of the leading scorers on this New York Islanders squad.

2. William Nylander (23 y/o)

2018/19 Season Stats – 54 Games Played, 7 Goals, 20 Assists, 27 Points, -4

The most hated, evil Villain Toronto has ever seen. As a Toronto Maple Leafs fan who is on Twitter, I can say for certain that if you like the Leafs and you’re on Twitter you either A.) Hate Nylander and want him off the team B.) Really LOVE Nylander and will defend him till death. There is no middle ground on Twitter. In real life, I believe in Willy and think that having a summer of training with the Leafs, a training camp and preseason with the Leafs and starting the Season with…. the…. LEAFS…. will do him better than chilling in Switzerland wondering if he getting a contract till December and not playing or practicing with NHLers.

1. Jaden Schwartz (26 y/o)

2018/19 Season Stats – 69 Games played, 11 Goals, 25 assists, 36 points, -6

So you see those 11 goals he scored in 69 games up there? Yea he scored 12 in the playoffs on his way to winning the Stanley Cup and nobody says one thing about the season he had. I don’t blame them. When you’re an integral part of a team that won a Cup you don’t talk about the horrible season he had but heading into these playoffs that were the question. Prior to this season, you could have guaranteed that Schwartz would give you 55-60 points a season when healthy. During the 2017/18 season prior to getting hurt, he was on pace for a career year in points with 59 in 62 games and there was no reason to think he wouldn’t break it this season. In saying that all the Blues had very bad seasons prior to the beginning of January to it is safe to say with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger and a reinvigorated sense of accomplishment, Schwartz is one the main guys I  believe will have a huge comeback season.

 

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Garret Sparks on the Trade Block

Sparks are about to fly! But to where?

The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have come to a conclusion and with no time wasted it’s already noted that the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kyle Dubas, already has his phone to his ear in an effort to move back-up goaltender, Garret Sparks.

Sparks, at 25, is still relatively young and could fetch a fairly decent return for Dubas considering his successes and albeit his recent performance in the National Hockey League.

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Garret put up a measly .903 save percentage, with a 3.15 goals against average, and an underwhelming 8-9-1 record in 20 games just this past season with the Maple Leafs.

Underwhelming indeed, especially when you look at just a season prior, where in 2018 he helped the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies win the Calder Cup as league champions, and also win the Baz Bastien Award serving as the best goaltender of the year. Maybe that’s why Dubas decided to give Sparks a one-year contract extension back in March of 2019?

Perhaps Dubas was hoping Garret would bounce back and inked him to ensure the backup role to top Maple Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen. Unfortunately that bounce back never happened, as Sparks ended up losing eight of his last 11 starts with the Maple Leafs. Two of those last starts included losses to the dead-last Ottawa Senators where Sparks let in a combined nine goals. This ultimately led to the change of heart from Maple Leafs management.

Sparks is still young, has success under his belt, and comes in only at a cheap salary cap hit of $750,000 per season. This should be enough to entice a team to take a chance on him regardless of the dreadful 2019 season, but the questions for now remain to where and for what?

Statistics provided by hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals