Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Get Excited For Maxim Cajkovic

The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Maxim Cajkovic, with the 89th overall selection in the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft

 

I had actually selected Cajkovic (pronounced Chi-Ko-Vich, not Catch-Ko-Vich as I initially thought) when I was the Lightning GM in the Puck77 Mock Draft from a little while ago, and I really liked my selection then, so you can probably guess how I feel now. I love this pick, and I genuinely think he could be a steal in the future.

 

Basics

The Bratislava, Slovakia native stands at 5’11, 185 pounds, and played for the St John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

For those that don’t follow the QMJHL, the Sea Dogs finished with a 13-49-2-4 record this season. That is really, really bad. Regardless, the Slovakian right winger scored 22 goals and added 24 more assists for 46 points in 60 games played. While those numbers are unspectacular, he played for a team that finished second-to-last, so you can do the math and expect no one to put up a ton of points.

The best place to look for his production was when he played for the Slovakian U18 team in the World Junior Championships and scored three goals and four assists for seven points in seven games. That’s a point-per-game pace, against other draftees including Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. But let’s breakdown his game, using ProspectShifts.com, where we can watch his film.

 

Scouting Report

I’m sorry, I have to say it: Cajkovic is a better skater than the Lightning’s first round pick, Nolan Foote. He’s quick, able to dart in and out, with fantastic edgework. He can make tight turns and stop on a dime in order to stick with the play wherever it goes. However, he does get knocked off the puck, and often times down to the ice, fairly easy, and needs to work on his balance.

Cajkovic has an outstanding motor, too. He’s constantly moving, trying to get open for a teammate when he doesn’t have the puck. That makes it hard for defenders to keep track of and contain him. He often finds himself getting in the middle of board battles, as he is a feisty player, and isn’t afraid of a good scrum. When he does have a shot, he’s always looking for a spot to unleash his wrist shot. His shot is a bullet, but does lack accuracy at times.

He has great vision too, with very underrated passing ability, but he does force a lot of passes into dense areas, and the puck seemingly never gets from point A to B, and leads to turnovers. He played on the powerplay with St John, working the half-wall and point areas. That’s where he displayed his movements without the puck the most, and showed off his underrated playmaking abilities. On the forecheck is where he displays his feisty game the most. He lays the body whenever he can, playing an uber-aggressive game. But this is a shady area for him.

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He plays with a ton of emotion, which can be a positive, but this emotion does lead to dirty hits and penalties. For example, in one of the games I watched, he was shoved hard to the ice as he turned and sent the puck in deep. He then got up and skated full speed to the corner where the puck went, and boarded the guy that hit him. One of the dirtiest hits I’ve seen, in a dangerous area, at a high speed. He can also be seen getting in the faces of opponents after the whistle. This is an area of his game that he needs to tone down, a lot.

Regardless, his forechecking is exceptional and displays his high motor. He also backchecks hard, showing his full compete level. In the defensive zone, he is very rarely caught puck watching or puck chasing. He knows where to be at all times, showing good defensive awareness. His feet are always moving in the defensive end as well, staying with his man at all times. He is quick to transition up ice as well, but never “cheats” by leaving the zone early.

 

Future Role

Cajkovic plays a very well-rounded, feisty game. I can see him as a potential top-six winger, with power play and penalty kill time, but more than likely a middle-six winger. He already has good skating abilities, that could become great over time. He has good awareness in all three zones, that he could build on to be great. He has good passing, but lacks consistency, which if he fixes, could pair lethally with his already really good shot. Fantastic third round selection, in my opinion.

 

All stats via eliteprospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

Puck77

2019 NHL Mock Draft: Picks 21-25

Part 5 of my 2019 NHL Mock draft is here, and this will feature picks 21-25. For a quick refresher, click here for part 1, here for part 2, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

 

21st Overall Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins select Moritz Seider, Right Handed Defenseman, Adler Mannheim, DEL

The 6’4, 198 pound German from Zell (Mosel), Germany, is one of the rare commodities to come out of the German elite league, DEL. Although German hockey has been on the rise, very few 17/18 year olds have been selected as early as Moritz Seider likely will. His ranking has varied from as early as 10th and as late as 21st, with his average ranking being placed at 16.2.

 

For his size, he moves fast, with a very technically sound stride. He’s not easily knocked off the puck, and doesn’t often get out-worked along the boards or in front of the net, but could still get better with more strength. His transitional game is very strong as well, thanks in part to his handling of the puck, along with his skating. He also has a very good up-ice pass. He has great shooting ability, with an accurate wrist shot, and smart slapshots (low on net for deflections or rebounds).

 

What he isn’t exactly good at and should look to improve is his mobility at the blueline, in order to open up more passing and/or shooting lanes. When the opposing team is moving the puck up ice on his side, he looks to throw big hits, but he doesn’t quite have the awareness to know when he should/shouldn’t step up, often times drawing himself out of position. He isn’t very good in his own end either, as he is not exactly positionally sound, but he has the size to win netfront battles as well as battles in the corner, which gives him a base for defensive coaches to build on at the next level.

 

He did not produce at a high level in the DEL (two goals, four assists for six points in 29 games) but it was his first real test against competition outside of his age group. Where he did shine, however, was at the international stage. He first played on the German U20 World Junior Championship D1-A (one step below the WJC) where he put up a goal and six assists (seven points) in five games, leading the German’s to qualify for next seasons WJC.

 

After that, he cracked the German IIHF World Championship roster, where he faced off against NHL competition, as well as top prospects Kappo Kakko and Jack Hughes. He scored two goals in five games before being injured by Ladislav Nagy of the Slovakian team. It’s important to note that he has had injury problems, mainly being with his shoulder, outside of the concussion he sustained at the IIHF World’s.

 

Pittsburgh hasn’t had a great defensive core for a few years now, and the recent trade involving defenseman Olli Maatta makes their defensive needs jump off the page even more here. Right handed defensemen are hard to find as well, and Seider is a very intriguing selection for them.

 

Future Role: He is a long-term project, according to multiple evaluations on him, but I think otherwise. While his defensive coverage isn’t the most attractive, he was getting a first taste of playing against men, and I believe that next season, he will get his feet set there and stand out. I expect him to be a top-four defenseman, with the offensive abilities to play top powerplay minutes.

 

22nd Overall Pick: Los Angeles Kings select Nils Hoglander, Left Winger, Rogle BK, SHL

Hoglander is another one in the group of undersized skaters, as he stands at just 5’9, and 185 pounds. He has been ranked as early as 19th and as late as 41st, with his average ranking at 28.2.

 

Hoglander is one of my favorite prospects, and here’s why. He is a really, really good skater, burning defenseman time and time again. He also has the edgework to dart wide, and then quickly cut towards the net for a great scoring chance. Despite being undersized, he has strong balance, and can battle along the boards just as good as everyone else, which is a major plus for teams who are looking into him. He can dice up defenders too, as he has great stickhandling abilities. He can make a move while going full speed as well, making him unpredictable and difficult to defend one on one.

 

Because of all that, defenders tend to back off a bit more, as to not get burned wide, which opens passing lanes for him to exploit. And he is a good passer, too. He has a great shot, very accurate, though it does lack the necessary power to find success in the NHL. Beyond that, he is an excellent forechecker, and despite his size, does not shy away from playing physical.

Similar to Torey Krug, he can throw heavy hits at times.

 

He is a hard working player at both ends of the ice, mixing his aggressiveness with his positioning in the defensive zone to create turnovers. Transitionally, he uses his speed to blast into the offensive zone and get to work. But despite all of his great qualities, he lacks offensive production. It astonishes me how a guy who is such a fantastic skater, with a very aggressive play style, along with creative offensive instincts to pair with great passing abilities and an accurate shot, lacks production. Playing against men in the SHL last season, he managed to only put up seven goals and seven assists (14 points) in 50 games. He’s also one of the older guys eligible in the draft, due to his late December birthday.

 

Future Role: His ceiling is becoming a top-six winger at the moment, but he has all the offensive tools, and if he can turn the production up to where he should be with his talent, he could very well be a future elite winger. Why’s that? Because he plays a very complete game, and only needs to mature, fine tune the smaller details, and bulk up. Even if his production remains underwhelming, he has third line capabilities. He’s a safe pick in the late stages of the first round.

 

23rd Overall Pick: New York Islanders select Raphael Lavoie, Right Wing/Center, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

While Hoglander is one of my favorite prospects, Lavoie is my favorite, outside the top-10, that is. The Chambly, Quebec native has great size (6’4, 198 pounds) with room to grow. He may not have blazing speed, but he can beat defenders wide with his very strong strides, and solid acceleration. He also has arguably the best balance in this draft, as he is very difficult to knock off the puck and beat in board battles, as well as in front of the net.

 

Lavoie is a sniper in the offensive zone. His wrist shot is fantastic, and his slapshot packs a ton of power. Going back to his ability to win positioning in front of the net, he is a master at scoring in tight in those areas, whether it’s off a deflection or he gathers the rebounds. His stickhandling also allows him to make a quick move near the goaltender to beat him and score that way. He is dangerous in the cycle, and when he sees a lane, he takes it. He can also be a playmaker, as he sees the ice well and puts the puck on the tape of a teammate.

 

Before his draft season, Lavoie was known to be a lesser defensive zone player, and looked at as mainly an offense-only forward. However, this season, he showed a nose for the puck, and backchecked with authority to get it on his stick. He battles hard along the boards for the puck, helping defensemen down low. He is willing to block shots, basically anything to help his team win, he’s up for the task. He is an effective transitional player as well. With Halifax, he was able to post 32 goals and 41 assists (73 points) in 62 games played. He has the versatility to play all three forward positions, but is more likely to play wing due to his still questionable defensive capabilities.

 

Future Role: If he can continue to show his improvements in the defensive zone while maintaining and improving upon his offensive skills, he could be a top 6 winger, with the ability to play both powerplay and penalty kill minutes.

 

24th Overall Pick: Nashville Predators select Philip Tomasino, Center, Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL

The 6’0, 180 pound center for the Niagara Ice Dogs, Tomasino was a former fifth overall selection in the Ontario Hockey League draft. Tomasino’s rankings vary, as do many of the late first rounders, and has been ranked as early as 18th and as late as 34th, with his average at 23.7.

 

Similar to Hoglander, Tomasino is an incredible skater, which often leads to defenders backing off and granting him space to either shoot or pass. However, he doesn’t quite have the balance that Hoglander has, and he is more easily knocked off the puck. His stickhandling is superb, and he can make quick plays with his stick and skates to open up a teammate for a pass. He has a more developed shot than Hoglander, but he still has more room to improve with his power. He isn’t afraid to push his way to the front of the net or the corners to battle for a screen or the puck. He is a very effective forechecker, forcing lots of turnovers, but doesn’t play the body too often in those scenarios. He is always moving in the offensive zone, never stopping even for a second. That energy is tangible, and lots of teams would love to have that kind of guy on the ice for their team.

 

However, with that playing style, he frustrates opponents, and if he runs into a Brad Marchand, or a Dustin Byfuglien (dirty player or big, physical player) he could be on the tail end of something awful. He must bulk up, more so than most other prospects.

 

Defensively he struggles. Because he is outmatched physically, he tends to reach for the puck often, which makes it too easy for the opponent to make a move to get by him. He also doesn’t read the play effectively enough, and isn’t always in the right position. However, he does try and support the defense down low, and with that effort, coaches can help him with everything else.

 

The reason why I continued to bring up Hoglander multiple times is because these two players play an eerily similar style, with a near identical skill set. Both are creative offensively, whether it be stickhandling, passing, or shooting. Both are hardworking, and constantly trying to get the puck on their sticks. However, where Hoglander has him beat is in his more physical and aggressive play, looking more for the body and not the puck. That’s why Hoglander is a more effective player in the defensive zone.

 

But, while Hoglander struggles to produce offensively, albeit in a tougher league, Tomasino does not. He put up 34 goals and 38 assists (72 points) in 67 games played. He produces more than Hoglander, which tells me he uses his offensive skills more effectively. But he has more holes in his game, which is why he is a couple spots lower.

 

Future Role: If he bulks up, it should fix a few of his developmental hurdles. He will have to be coached well to be a reliable player on the defensive end, but it’s mainly positioning that is the issue. All minor flaws, meaning he will likely make it, and slot in, at the worst, as a middle six center, with the chance to play first line if needed. Certainly good enough to play on the powerplay once he makes it.

 

25th Overall Selection: Washington Capitals select Thomas Harley, Left-Handed Defenseman, Mississauga Steelheads, OHL

Harley was highly thought of by several other contributors on Puck77, recently being ranked 21st overall by those writers. Overall, the 6’3, 183 pound, Syracuse, New York native Harley has been ranked as early as 18th and as late as 24th, with his average being 20.5. So, why does he drop to 25?

 

Let’s get into it. He gets to his to speed very quickly, due to his strong first steps. He is quick with his edges, allowing him to change from defense to offense with rapid pace. That also makes him effective when moving across the point area, opening up passing and shooting lanes. Harley reads the play very quickly on offense, and he’s able to find teammates with a quick and accurate pass. He keeps his shots low and on net, and has greatly improved his shooting abilities from last season, which widens his potential scoring down the road. He is great in transition, with the ability to make a great first pass. He, at times, acts like a fourth forward on the rush, which also boosts his potential offensive output down the road.

 

But what he is most known for is his defensive game. He is very rarely out of position, and knows where to be at almost all times. He shows good strength despite being just 183 pounds, and tends to win board battles as well as net-front battles. But here is why I have him being selected a bit lower than many expect him to. He struggles against faster, shiftier forwards on the rush, and with the way the game is evolving, he could be left in the dust. His worst nightmare would be facing Johnny Gaudreau, Connor McDavid, Brayden Point, Mikko Rantanen, Patrick Kane, etc., the list goes on and on. Even some lesser known guys like Carl Hagelin could make him look bad. He has to improve that area of his game to be effective at the next level.

 

As for his production last season, Harley had 11 goals and 47 assists (58 points) in 68 games for Mississauga. He also played for Team Canada at the U18 WJC, where he posted one goal and three assists (four points) in seven games.

 

Future Role: He is a safe pick in a sense that he will very likely crack an NHL roster down the road. He is a complete player, with maturity and high hockey IQ. His problem is he can’t handle what the game is becoming. At best, he will be a second pair defenseman with powerplay time, but at worst, a third pair journeyman defenseman, still with powerplay time. That being said, if he doesn’t fix that glaring hole in his game, he will really have to milk his offensive abilities to keep an NHL spot.

 

All stats via Eliteprospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

New York Rangers

New York Rangers: Who Should They Select At Pick #20?

The New York Rangers have two first-round picks in the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the second overall pick and pick #20.

 

The second overall selection will be obvious, as everybody knows. They will take whomever the Devils don’t between Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko. As for Pick #20, they could go in a multitude of different directions, obviously based on who falls to them.

My personal preference is for them to target defense or center help, because their defense is still an issue and their center depth could be better, with Vladislav Namestikov and Ryan Strome not being long-term options. In terms of wingers, I think they have enough young wingers, especially with them likely getting Kakko at #2, so I wouldn’t pursue a winger unless somebody who was supposed to go top-10 falls. Here are some options at those two positions that I think could be realistic to fall to #20.

Moritz Seider, Defenseman, Mannheim Adler Mannheim

With the Rangers needing defense and needing some size on this team in general, I think a perfect guy to fit that mold is German defenseman Moritz Seider. At 6’3″ and 208 pounds, he has the size and physicality that is needed on this team and in the league, even with it shifting to a speed and skill game. Seider has the strength, physicality, and instincts to be a good defensive defenseman.

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His offensive game won’t wow anybody at this level, but he did have 11 assists in 12 games at the most recent international junior competition, showing some potential there. His goal-scoring ability will likely be small, as his highest goal total at any level was six in 2017-18 in the Deutsche Nachwuchs Liga. However, I think an improvement in his offensive game would come if being drafted and developed by the Rangers, who have always done well with making guys that weren’t previously offensively-minded or two-way defensemen more productive offensively.

However, if he is drafted by the Rangers, I still would want Seider to prioritize being a stay-at-home defenseman first, because I think the Rangers do lack that right now, especially one that is physical and one with defense-first instincts.

Raphael Lavoie, Center, Halifax Mooseheads

If the Rangers target any more offense in this draft, I think it should be at the center position. One guy that could realistically be there is the Quebec Junior League’s Raphael Lavoie. Lavoie is a guy that could have risen into the Top 10 if he took a major leap, but is still a dominant offensive player.

He scored 32 goals and 41 assists during the regular season for Halifax, and added 20 goals and 32 assists in their playoff run leading the Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup finals.

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Skill wise, he is a very good, straight forward skater that is tough to get off the puck and is good in terms of creating chances for teammates. Today’s game has evolved into young centers having this high end speed, and while I don’t think Lavoie has that, he still has good speed for his size (6’4″ and 200 pounds). His side-to-side speed and agility are one of his major issues he has to work on, especially in the defensive end of the ice. However, that is something that can be developed with good coaching.

His stick skills, vision, and speed for his size make him a good mold to be an NHL center, if he can improve the other aspects of his game. If the Rangers were to draft him, I think he would stay in Hartford for two or three years. But down the road, when guys like Namestikov and Strome probably will be gone, a player like Lavoie could be a decent second or third line center if developed properly, and with his size and skill I wouldn’t mind them taking a chance on him at 20 if he’s there.

Cam York, Defenseman, USNTDP Juniors

From a big-bodied defenseman in Seider to a smaller but quicker defenseman in Cam York, the Rangers could also take a chance on a guy who is more of the modern mold of the NHL, defensemen that can skate and join the rush on offense. At 5’11” and 172 pounds, I would imagine he’d have to bulk up a little bit to compete at the NHL level, but at 18 years old, he still has time to grow into his body more.

However, for that type of defenseman, he can be very good. Offensively his numbers have proven that, with 14 goals and 51 assists on the U.S. National U18 team. In 2015-16, he also had a season with 18 goals and 51 assists for Shattuck St. Mary’s Bantam.

Defensively, he skates well both straight forward and side to side, which is important against more athletic forwards in today’s NHL. He will need to work on his stick skills as a defender as well as his physicality due to not having a lot of size, but those are instincts that can be developed in the American Hockey League and in college hockey.

Whoever drafts York will have him as more of a project anyway. Like I said, he still has to grow into his body, plus he has already committed to the University of Michigan for this season. So between that, growing into his body ,and proving himself in the AHL, he will have a long way to go. However, his speed and offensive ability certainly make him similar to a lot of the new mold of NHL defensemen, and I would not mind if the Rangers decided to put a Cam York in New York.

Alex Newhook, Center, Victoria Grizzlies

One of the faster centers in this draft, Alex Newhook makes the final spot on this list. The Rangers have always loved faster centers, so Newhook could be a perfect fit. He has very good straight forward speed but even better side-to-side speed that would help out wingers that like to spread the ice and switch a lot in head coach David Quinn’s system.

Skill wise, his stick handling and moves are good in front and around the net too, and help for both passing and shooting. Statistically, Newhook had a great year in the British Columbia Hockey League with Victoria, totaling 38 goals and 64 assists in 53 games, proving those skills.

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The question surrounding Newhook is whether he can do it at tougher levels, as the BCHL isn’t thought of to be as strong of competition as other development leagues, so he would likely need more time to develop. He is committed to Boston College next year, where I would imagine he would stay for more than one year unless he makes a huge leap, and then I think he would transition to the AHL level.

Not to mention, at 5’10” and 190 pounds, he may need time to grow into his body too. Therefore, I think between that and him needing to improve his defense and his decision-making both with and without the puck, he will need time.

However, his speed and skill level show that he could fit as a sophisticated offensive center if he proves he can do it against tougher competition throughout college and the AHL. This pick would be a gamble if the Rangers make it, but he can be an ultimate boom if he can handle that higher competition with that kind of speed both straight forward and side-to-side.

Statistics provided by Eliteprospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

 

Clearing the Puck! Your Weekly Look at the World of Hockey

Welcome back to Clearing the Puck for the week of May 24th to 31st! This week we take a look at the Stanley Cup Finals, a Washington Captials legend hangs up the skates and how the Hurricanes season will impact the community for years to come!

Incase this is your first time, here is the rundown. What we’re going to be doing at Puck77 is putting out a weekly recap. There are going to be observations, summaries and some cool things that we noticed around the web from the NHL and the world of hockey from the last week. There will be 10 points every Saturday morning. Included will be links to articles from our website as well as many others to help fill you in on some of the best hockey and NHL content from around the web. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week!

“The Jerks” Make a Lasting Impact

There is no doubt that the Carolina Hurricanes had a season that will be remembered by hockey fans for years. Whether its the Eastern Conference Finals run or the “Storm Surge”, the Hurricanes were a blast to watch this season. How long will the impact last? Will the ‘Canes fever persist? How much has the organization benefited from the outstanding run? How much has the community grown into becoming a “hockey market”? Sara Civian of the Athletic did an excellent job taking a look both behind the curtain and into the community for the tangible benefits of the Hurricanes season. Will the Storm Warning continue into next season? Check it out below.  

Tweet courtesy of @SaraCivian

Capitals Legend Erat Calls it Quits

Martin Erat is finally hanging up the skates. He’s been playing his last three years in Czech Extraliga for HC Kometa Brno. While Erat was a really good NHL player, what he’s most known for is the most one-sided trade in NHL history. Then Washington Capitals GM George McPhee traded blue-chip prospect Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. This was the day where Erat became a Washington Capitals legend. All jokes aside, his time with the Capitals was a bit of a disaster. So much so that Forsberg has six goals against the Capitals in his career whereas Erat and Latta scored six total in their 175 games with Washington. Forsberg is a legitimate top-six winger and has two 30-goal seasons and five with at least 25. For a better look at the entire Caps career of Erat, check out our friends over at Russian Machine Never Breaks below!  


Tweet courtesy of @RussianMachine

Quebec goes Back-to-Back!

The QMJHL has back-to-back Memorial Cup Champions. After last season when Acadie-Bathurst Titan captured the CHL’s title, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies took the title back to the beautiful province of Quebec. The Huskies were the best team in the entire CHL during the regular season and they did what the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t, they won the whole damn thing. Led by Noah Dobson and Joel Teasdale, the Huskies fought through adversity in the tournament losing to the Guelph Storm and then having to go through them again in the semi-finals before facing the host Halifax Mooseheads again. Tyler Kuehl at Puck77 did an outstanding job covering the Memorial Cup and you can read his piece on the Huskies first championship here.

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NWHL Sends NHL a Message

The landscape of women’s hockey is at a tipping point. This season, or lack there of, could be the reason that women are paid fairly for their all-world skill, at least earning enough to make a living. The NWHL is the only currently active professional league in North America and they released a statement this week that seems to have put the ball in the NHL’s court (or rink?)

Tweet courtesy of @NWHL

The full statement from the NWHL can be found in the tweet above. The interesting part of the statement came in the quote below where the NWHL seems to insinuate that they are hoping the NHL decides to step up, 

If any individuals or groups come forward and declare they are ready to start and invest in a new league where women can receive a substantial full-time salary and medical insurance, we would be ecstatic to have a conversation about a partnership or passing the torch. 

 

Zaitsev asks out of Toronto

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev has requested a trade for personal reasons. We don’t know exactly what those are but its probably safe to assume that the criticism of his play and the pressure that comes with playing in Toronto may have understandably gotten to Nikita or his family. There have been some absolutely vicious comments made on twitter and social media in general that could have contributed to the request. While this could help Toronto out in the long-run with their salary cap situation, its unfortunate that its come to a head because of the anger of people who claim to be fans. While no one is suggesting that fans can’t be critical, attacking a player on their personal social media or their families social media is disgusting and unacceptable. Even if this has nothing to do with Zaitsev asking out of Toronto, its a good time to remind everyone that the players are people. You wouldn’t say an athletes face, so don’t hide behind your monitor or phone. Be kinder to people, we all need more kindness in the world. 

As for the hockey side of things, this could be a complicated deal and its been expressed that Toronto is unlikely to retain much, if at all. Zaitsev has term and a decent sized dollar  figure attached to him so any team acquiring him will likely need to be looking for exactly the type of defensive, penalty killing game that Zaitsev brings. Toronto isn’t in position to take back a contract of significance so where we go from here will be interesting. I encourage you to read the thread of tweets below from the king of hockey insiders, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, where he goes through the entire situation. 

Tweet courtesy of @TSNBobMcKenszie

Oilers tab Tippett to be their Bench Boss

The Edmonton Oilers finally hired their new head coach to hopefully lead them back into championship contention. Dave Tippet, former coach of the Arizona Coyotes, takes the mantle of man on the bench for the Connor McDavid led team. The hiring seems like another step in the right direction for the Oilers. Since Ken Holland became the GM, they have started to clear out the “old boys” group of the ’80’s Oilers and they’ve begun to bring in off-ice talent, not the least of which was Tippett. Firing most of their coaching staff, only retaining Glen Gulutzan, the Oilers are beginning to take the necessary steps back to respectability after years of being the laughing stock of the NHL for years despite having the best player in the world.  

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Puck77 Final Draft Rankings!

Jack Hughes vs. Kaapo Kakko! Who’s the top ranked player on the board? Who is on the rise? Who dropped? The team here collaborated and put together NHL Draft rankings together. Submitting our lists, we combined all the rankings, averaged the numbers out and figured out exactly how the draft is going to go! No? We didn’t do that? Okay, well we at least did our homework and worked our way from 1-31 for you to consume! You can check that out here!

https://twitter.com/ThePuck77/status/1134795135982682112

Tweet courtesy of @thePuck77

Finland wins Gold!

0 NHL goals. The Finnish national team featured 0 NHL goals. The Fins were led by draft eligible Kaapo Kakko and a scrappy group of Liiga players all the way to the gold medal. Defeating Canada in the finals, the Finnish team was a great story in the IIHF World Hockey Championship. Timely goals from their captain Marko Anttila, outstanding performances in net by Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kevin Lankinen and capping of the tournament the same way that they started, beating Canada when most people expected them to win. 

Video courtesy of the IIHF Youtube account

The tournament did an excellent job putting the Finnish program among the top programs in the world. To be able to take players from Liiga and win a tournament filled with NHL players was outstanding fro the Fins. The job done by the management team, the coaching staff and the players can’t be talked about enough. Team Finland are the World Champions!

NHL Players cheering on the Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are in the NBA Finals! I know, not hockey. There were NHL players at the games though, including the former Oilers duo of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and a group of current Toronto Maple Leafs. So congratulations to the Toronto Raptors on winning game one of the NBA finals over the heavily favored Golden State Warriors and here is some NHL players at the game to justify talking about the Raptors in a hockey blog!

Tweet courtesy of @TSN_sports

Tweet courtesy of @MapleLeafs

A trip to the john predicts the OT Game Winner

When the third period of game two of the Stanley Cup finals came to an end, a couple of the St. Louis Blues decided to hit the washroom which is likely not a rare situation. At this point, one of the biggest bathroom rules were broken. Carl Gunnarsson decided to talk to his head coach Craig Berube at the urinal. Gross… What he said to him though was the interesting part. He told his bench boss that he just needed “one more chance”. He rang the puck off the post in the third and he felt like he missed his chance. Could he have known what was to come next? Could he have known that he would score his first playoff goal since he was a 13-year-old playing minor hockey? The veteran Swede put the game away, tying the series at a game a piece. Carl Gunnarsson could be a Stanley Cup hero if the Blues pull off the series win. 

Tweet courtesy of @StLouisBlues

Thank you as always for joining me this week to clear the puck and find the news for the week! Tune in next week when we finally have some more Stanley Cup games and we could even have a champion! Until next week, have fun with the draft coverage coming up, enjoy the hockey in the Cup final and GO RAPTORS!

Stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, Elite Prospects, the IIHF, the NHL and the CHL