Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers: Signing Buy-Low Contracts On Day One

July 1st is easily the busiest day in the NHL, with free agents becoming available to sign contracts with new teams. The Flyers certainly added to that ‘busy’ conception, although not how I had initially expected.

Below I have provided stats and bios on all of the Flyers acquisitions made on July 1st.

Andy Andreoff (1 year @ $750k)

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POS: LW

Age: 28

18-19 Stats: (SYR-AHL) 75 GP-26 G-55 P-150 PIM

Career AHL Stats: 232 GP-56 G-127 P-0.55P/GP-409 PIM

Career NHL Stats: 159 GP-13 G-24 P-0.15 P/GP-214 PIM

Andreoff is a fine depth signing in my opinion. For $750k the Flyers add a grittier two-way forward that can produce in the AHL. Andreoff is unlikely to make the Flyers, although he brings some NHL experience with him that makes him a fine callup option. Nothing more to really say here, depth signing.

Kurtis Gabriel (1 year @ 700K)

POS: RW

Age: 26

18-19 Stats: (NJD) 22 GP-2 G-4 P-59 PIM-7:22 ATOI-37.1 CF%-104.5 PDO

Career NHL Stats: 38 GP-2 G-5 P-0.13 P/GP-98 PIM-6:37 ATOI-35.5 CF%-105.5 PDO

Gabriel is easily the most confusing signing of the day, as the 26 year-old is entering his prime with no real history of strong production or long-term upside. First and foremost, Gabriel is a fighter, probably known most for his fight with then-Blues prospect Vince Dunn in the hallway of a rink in the middle of a game. Gabriel was formerly a Wild prospect and thus has a history with Fletcher, which is likely why he got this deal.

You can watch the fight here:

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/jpwqg3/on-ice-ahl-brawl-continues-outside-of-locker-room

Nate Prosser (2 years @ $700k per)

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POS: RD

Age: 33

18-19 Stats: (MIN) 15 GP-0 G-0 P-2 PIM-10:13 ATOI-51.1 CF%-101.0 PDO 

Career NHL Stats: 354 GP-10 G-47 P-231 PIM- 13:45 ATOI-45.3 CF%-100.5 PDO

Prosser, another Minnesota connection, is yet another depth signing. Unlike Gabriel and Andreoff however, Prosser may spend significant time in the NHL, given that he is a right-handed defender. Prosser’s analytics are not amazing, but better than expected given his depth role. He possesses an adequate ability to move the puck (pass, rush, etc) and has nailed a solid shutdown play style. This is fine for a depth signing, especially at a league-wide weakness.

Jean-Francois Berube (1 year @$700K)

POS: G

Age: 27

18-19 Stats: (CLE-AHL) 43 GP-21 W-.896 SV%-3.01 GAA

Career AHL Stats: 168 GP-99 W-.909 SV%-2.48 GAA

Career NHL Stats: 34 GP-9 W-.898 SV%-3.39 GAA

The Berube signing was one I was initially fine with, but upon further research into his numbers, I’m a little concerned. Berube’s best AHL stats came in a 5 game stint with Bridgeport in 2016, where he posted an impressive .960 SV% and 4 wins. Moreover, his best NHL stats came in 7 games with the New York Islanders, also in 2016, where he posted a .914 SV% and 3 wins. This means that he is going to be 4 years, and 3 organizations, removed from his career best AHL and NHL numbers. Surely, with the plethora of solid free agent goaltenders out there, the Flyers signed Berube to strictly be ECHL depth, right?

Tyler Wotherspoon (2 years @ 700K per)

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POS: LD

Age: 26

18-19 Stats: (SAN-AHL) 70 GP-4 G-22 P-0.31 P/GP-28 PIM

Career AHL Stats: 355 GP-22 G-120 P-0.34 P/GP-146 PIM

Career NHL Stats: 30 GP-0 G-5 P-0.17 P/GP-4 PIM-13:36 ATOI-45.9 CF%-95.5 PDO

Wotherspoon, a former 2nd round pick of the Flames, is known for his heavy defensive play style. Much like Prosser, Wotherspoon can move the puck fairly well, although it’s not a focus of his game. At 26, Wotherspoon is about as good as he’s gonna get, a two-way depth defender with below average analytics. I think that Wotherspoon will do fine in a depth role for a few NHL games here and there, expect some solid production and playing time in the AHL.

Kyle Criscuolo (1 year @ $700k)

POS: C

Age: 27

18-19 Stats: (ROC-AHL) 43 GP-6 G-20 P-0.47 P/GP-14 PIM

Career AHL Stats: 174 GP-38 G-95 P-0.55 P/GP-62 PIM

Career NHL Stats: 9GP-0 G-0 P-47.0 CF%-88.2 PDO-8:01 ATOI-4 PIM-46.3 FO%

This signing is not exactly inspiring. Criscuolo is 2 seasons removed from a solid 34 point/ 51 game season (0.67 P/GP) with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. This past season however was less than ideal, as the New Jersey native posted just 20 points in 43 games (0/47 P/GP). At 27, this past season was really one where he needed to prove his value to the Sabres organization, who gave him a 9 game stint the year prior. Unfortunately for Criscuolo, injuries and inconsistent play hit his NHL chances fast and hard. Solid when healthy, Criscuolo certainly helps add depth to a rather weak centre core (Please God sign Marcus Johansson I’m begging you).

Chris Bigras (2 years @ $700K)

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POS: LD

Age: 24

18-19 Stats: (HFD-AHL) 52 GP-3 G-22 P-0.42 P/GP-36 PIM

Career AHL Stats: 179 GP-17 G-83 P-0.46 P/GP-103 PIM

Career NHL Stats: 46 GP-1 G-4 P-0.09 P/GP-42.7 CF%-99.6 PDO-13:31 ATOI-18 PIM

Personally, I really like this signing. I was a big fan of Bigras when he was with the Avalanche, the team that drafted him 32nd overall in 2013. The Ontario native plays a fast-paced, aggressive shut down role. Bigras has solid puck moving ability and defensive awareness that make him an interesting bet at 24. Bigras is creeping out of prospect territory and will really have to impress to earn a full time NHL spot, thus, Bigras will likely add a coveted defensive presence in Lehigh Valley.

Andy Welinski (1 year @ $750K)

POS: RD

Age: 26

18-19 Stats: (ANA) 26 GP-1 G-4 P-0.15 P/GP-49.4 CF%-98.8 PDO-16:02 ATOI-8 PIM

Career NHL Stats: 33 GP-1 G-6 P-0.18 P/GP-47.6 CF%-99.4 PDO-16:04 ATOI-8 PIM

Welinski is another solid depth signing. At 26 years old, he’s as good as he’s going to get as a depth defender. Welinski can really move the puck and has solid passing ability, which make him extremely versatile as a right-handed defenseman. There’s really not much else to say here other than that it’s a solid depth move.

Conclusion

The Flyers decided to add some much needed depth over the traditional overpayment of mediocre players, which is nice to see. I would like to see the Flyers nab a Ryan Dzingel, Marcus Johansson, or Ben Hutton on July 2nd, but with both Konecny and Provorov still unsigned it seems unlikely.

Stats and other info retrieved from www.sportsforcaster.com, www.tsn.ca, www.nhl.com, www.hockey-reference.com, www.eliteprospects.com, and www.vice.com 

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

 

 

 

 

Wayne Simmonds

New Jersey Devils: Can Simmonds Have A Resurgence In Newark?

featured image photo credit – Dinur Blum

The New Jersey Devils have continued their resurgence from last place in the Eastern Conference to looking like a more prominent force in a very difficult division. In an offseason highlighted by drafting Jack Hughes and trading for P.K. Subban, they now add to that by bringing in another former Nashville Predators in Wayne Simmonds.

The Devils brought in Simmonds on a 1-year, $5.5 million contract in a free agency. Simmonds lost some value on what was considered a down year for the 30-year old winger. The Scarborough, Ontario native tallied just 17 goals and 13 assists last season between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators after having 2 seasons with 60 points and another 2 with 50+ points with the Flyers. His defense and intensity level has still been something that Simmonds has brought season in and season out. However, with him getting older and speed/pace of the game changing, he isn’t the same forward that he once was. That was evident last season even in a Nashville Predators defensive system which has always been phenomenal throughout their franchise history, but even better recently.

Devils Got A Great Deal 

Despite the drop in production and slight decline skillset wise, the Devils still got him on a favorable deal at $5.5 million. The Devils need all the offensive depth they can get. They are a very young team and need supporting cast for their two young centers in Hughes and 2017 #1 pick Nico Hischier. Simmonds is a sniper that can definitely help one of those centers’ playmaking ability and elevate their assist totals if he’s on his game like he was from 2013-17 with the Flyers.

The Devils need other guys to be 20-goal scorers to create two strong lines. For their third line, the Devils will need to use the young players with upside. Both, Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall are trustworthy options on the wing spots for the Devils to score 20+ goals, and they also got a surprising 22-goal year out of Blake Coleman last year. So most likely, Simmonds will have to start out on the second line, maybe the third line in some head-to-head matchups. However, if chemistry starts to evolve with certain players, Simmonds is definitely capable of being a first line contributor if he fits the system.

Confidence In Simmonds?

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However, his tenure with Nashville last year doesn’t really show promise in terms of having confidence that a rise would happen. He only scored 1 goal and 2 assists in 17 regular season games, and as a result he only played in 2 playoff games where he was scoreless. He was decent defensively in those games and in that Nashville system as a whole, but the struggle to score definitely was concerning. But like I said earlier, there are certain teams that have to take those kinds of chances to rebirth a player, and I think it makes sense for the Devils to do that, especially in a Metropolitan division where a lot of teams have improved and was overly deep to begin with.

The Washington Capitals won the cup last year, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders were big surprises, the New York Rangers just signed Artemi Panarin and traded for Jacob Trouba, the Pittsburgh Penguins just traded for Alex Galchenyuk despite losing Phil Kessel, so it seemed evident that the Devils needed to do something else to keep up. Plus, it didn’t seem like a panic move either, because it was only $5.5 million, on a Devils team that isn’t terribly cash-strapped with the exception of P.K. Subban’s contract. Therefore, it made sense for the value, and the Devils will just have to hope that Simmonds can rebound after a poor campaign.

Is A Rebound Realistic?

How realistic is it that he finds his groove again like he did in 2013-17 with the Flyers?

One factor is that the Devils’ overall offensive depth is not nearly as strong as that of the Flyers or the Predators. While Jack Hughes can be a next big thing type player and Nico Hischier has strong upside as well, they aren’t at the same level as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. Hughes will definitely get there and Hischier can get there, but the question will be how much it will work this season. In any sport, there have been situations where weaker rosters have worked with certain players due to chemistry. But, that’s a wild card situation. It looks to be more of a slight negative with the Devils having some unknowns, especially if Taylor Hall can’t stay healthy like he couldn’t last year, playing in only 33 games.

Advanced Possession Metrics

The other factor I looked at is how the game has changed through the analytics that scouts and general managers judge players on now. These metrics have been something that might illustrate his small drop in production last year, and even in years where his raw point production has still been good. Both, his relative Fenwick and Corsi metrics have been in the negatives the last 3 seasons, including a -2.4% relative Corsi and -3.2% relative Fenwick rating with the Nashville Predators. Also, in terms of puck possession metrics, both his Fenwick percentage and Corsi percentage have been under 50% each of the last 4 seasons. Part of that has to do with the Flyers’ very physical style of play with their forwards and him playing with that style throughout his career even with the Kings and Predators. However, some of that also has to do with the speed of the game and Simmonds not being an overly fast skater and great overall puck handler, which is important in a puck possession game today. On the positive side, Simmonds’ physicality can help get guys off the puck very effectively, especially with the way he hits. Not to mention, the Devils have always been more of a defensive team both historically and recently, so I think he should have a smoother transition into that system than others.

Good Signing For The Value

So overall, the Devils signing Simmonds at $5.5 million should be a good signing for that value. It’s hard for me to believe that his overall production will be 30 points again like it was last season. It will be a prove it contract for both Simmonds and the Devils. But, Simmonds needs to find chemistry quickly with Hischier or Hughes, otherwise he might be a fringe player after this season.

stats from hockey-reference.com

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes: Congratulations and Concerns

July 1st is always a busy day for clubs and it was no different for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Canes Broadcast team returns

Much to the delight of Caniacs worldwide, the broadcasting trio will return. Play-by-Play Announcer John Forslund (@JohnForslund), Color Analyst Tripp Tracey, and television/web host Mike Maniscalco (@MikeManiscalco) have all been re-signed by the Carolina Hurricanes. This will mark the 21st season that Forslund and Tracey will have worked together for Carolina. Additionally, it will be Forslund’s 25th season as the play-by-play voice of the Hurricanes. This posting dates back to 1994-95 season when the franchise was still located in Hartford, CT. Tracey, a former goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, has been with the club since his retirement in 1998. Maniscalco enters into his fourth season with the club as the host of Hurricanes LIVE! on FOX Sports Carolinas and host of the popular podcast CanesCast.

Hurricanes find a primary – Return of the Mrazzle Dazzle

 

In true cardiac cane fashion, the Carolina Hurricanes re-sign the 27-year old Czech phenom on UFA-day. The new contract is a 2-year, $6.25M deal that will last through the 2020-21 season. The deal pays out a respectable $3M in the upcoming 2019-20 season, and follows with a $3.25M payout in 2020-21. The Ostrava, CZE native was originally drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Selected 141st overall (5th rd, 21s pk). In the year Petr Mrazek has spent with the Carolina Hurricanes hockey club, he’s hammered out quite the reputation. Both within franchise records, and in fan’s hearts. Following the 2017-18 season, Philadelphia did not tender a qualifying offer to Petr, which opened him up to the free agent market.

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Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, on July 1st 2018, extended a contract offer. A 1-year, $1.5M contract, and an opportunity to redeem himself after the season in Philly. Now, a year later, Petr has registered a 23-14-3 record, a 2.39 goals-against average, and a .914 save percentage that includes four shutouts. This tied his career high in shutouts. It addition, put him squarely in fifth place in franchise records for lowest single-season goals-against average. He sports a career record of 101-78-26, a 2.61 goals-against average, and a .911 save percentage spanning 223 NHL games. The Hurricanes Twitter account puts it best.

Controversy and concern – Sebastian Aho receives an offer sheet

Then the day got interesting. GM Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent and Hurricanes superstar, Sebastian Aho.

It was not entirely unexpected, considering that multiple teams had called Carolina. The shock came more in the form of the offer itself. Surprising enough that the Hurricanes GM made mention of it during a press conference addressing the offer sheet.

Carolina’s on a 7-day clock, on whether to match the offer, or to take the draft pick compensation. The compensation would come in the form of a 1st Round pick, a 2nd Round pick, and a 3rd Round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. It had been previously said that the club would match any offer. Not to worry, though, Caniacs.

Stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL and Cap Friendly

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Dubas Gets A Right Handed Defenseman

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made an upgrade on the right side of their defensive unit. 

Earlier today, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced via twitter that they had brokered a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. The Maple Leafs have traded Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third round pick to the Avalanche for Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth round pick.

With the addition of Barrie, the Toronto Maple Leafs have successfully upgraded the right side of their blue-line.

But, there is even more news. Per Dan Rosen of NHL.com (see above), the Colorado Avalanche retained 50% of Barrie’s AAV in the deal. With that being said, Barrie will only eat 2.75 million in cap space for the Maple Leafs.

The Hunt For A Right Handed Defenseman

Toronto Maple Leafs fans have been waiting a while for this day. Over the past two seasons, we’ve heard names such as Brett Pesce, Colin Miller, P.K. Subban, Erik Karlsson, Justin Faulk and others be thrown out as potential options on the right hand side. Finally, the rumours are put to bed. The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche and now Barrie is their top right handed defensive option. He’ll likely replace Ron Hainsey on the top line and play alongside Morgan Rielly. While Barrie is far better than Hainsey, it’s still worth showing a comparison between the two defensemen.

In the below visual from CJ Turtoro, you’ll see an in-depth comparison of the two defensemen.

visual from CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Barrie is a lot better than Hainsey. There is no doubt about it. As you can see from the visual, Barrie is far more efficient at shot contributions, possession entries and possession exits than Hainsey. The only category that Barrie is worse than Hainsey in is entry defense. But, just because Barrie is worse at entry defense then Hainsey doesn’t mean that the trade for Barrie makes no sense. It’s the opposite. Barrie is more consistent across the board and is far better suited to play top line minutes in the NHL than Hainsey. 

Kerfoot

In addition to Barrie, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Alexander Kerfoot in the trade. Kerfoot provides the Maple Leafs with solid centre depth and will compete with Jason Spezza for the the third line centre spot. 

Kerfoot has a tremendous amount of upside and has been rather efficient in his time with the Avalanche. But, the challenge for Kerfoot has been his line-mates. Aside from the top line in Colorado, forward depth has been a concern, especially on the wings. Kerfoot didn’t have consistently strong wingers in Colorado and that will change in Toronto. He could end up playing with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, Ilya Mikheyev and/or Trevor Moore. 

The only immediate issue with Kerfoot is that he’s a restricted free agent. He’ll need to be paid quite quickly and if he demands too much, the Maple Leafs could be forced to trade his rights as they still need to lock up Mitch Marner.

Losing Kadri & Rosen

Unfortunately, Maple Leafs fans are losing a fan favourite. Nazem Kadri has been with the organization for a long time. If you remember, former general manager Brian Burke and former Ottawa Senators Bryan Murray had a minor confrontation at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft prior to Burke selecting Kadri. Burke went up to Murray, asked him who he planned on taking and then he informed Murray that he was going to be taking Kadri off the board. It was evident from the exchange that Murray had his eyes on Kadri and had to go to plan B.

Sadly, Leafs Twitter has been up in arms about Kadri’s role in Toronto. Since the two altercations against the Boston Bruins this past playoff series and in the year prior, Kadri has been put on the hot seat in Toronto. His character in the playoffs has been alarming and it’s clear that Dubas wasn’t prepared to give him another chance.

In addition to Kadri being dealt, the Maple Leafs also part ways with depth defenseman Calle Rosen. Rosen, since coming to Toronto has spent the bulk of his time with the Toronto Marlies, but was looking prime to play on the third defensive pairing next season. Instead, he’ll fight for a third pairing spot in Colorado.

Recap

All-in-all, the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally improved their right side on the blue-line. Barrie is quite the upgrade over Hainsey. Plus, they add a centre with a ton of offensive upside in Kerfoot. With that being said, it’s extremely hard to hate this trade.

stats from hockey-reference.com and Corey Sznajder

visual from CJ Turtoro

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

New York Islanders

New York Islanders: Struck Out on Panarin, What’s Plan B?

The New York Islanders have lost out on the Artemi Panarin sweepstakes and quickly need to move to plan B. 

The New York Islanders went all out for coveted free agent Artemi Panarin this past week, but yet, it was not enough. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, The soon to be 28 year old Russian born star has agreed to terms on an $81.5 million dollar deal over the next 7 years with cross-town rivals the New York Rangers. The question now for the Islanders is “where do they go from here?”

Re-signings

The first thing that was expected and has seem to be finalized is a deal with the captain of the team, Anders Lee. Lee is coming off of a strong season, in which he tallied 28 goals and 23 assists in 82 games played. The Islanders needed to keep Lee on Long Island. If they failed to do so, the Islanders would have been in far worse shape.

According to The Athletic, the deal will be a seven year deal worth seven million per year. This is a good first step in trying to improve a team that desperately needs help in their top 6.

Aside from Lee, the Islanders have two free agents left. Anthony Beauvillier and Michael Dal Colle are restricted free agents and need to be re-signed. You can expect Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello to look to get those contracts done in the next few days.

Trades

The next thing that eventually will go through the head of Lou Lamoriello is to use the trade market. The Islanders are not going to find much more offensive power through UFA’S so working a trade revolving around either Nick Leddy or Thomas Hickey to help the offense seems to be the best route to go. Players such as Jason Zucker and/or Mike Hoffman, seem to be skaters on the market that could instantly boost the top 6 of the team.

Offer Sheet

The final route Lou can take is the one that is more risky than any other route, the offer sheet. There are many RFAs that are out on the market.

With one offer sheet already being thrown out today by the Montréal Canadiens in an attempt to lure Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes) to the Habs, we could see more coming in the next few days.

The one player everyone has linked the Islanders to is Mitch Marner, but after the signing of Lee that seems to be nothing but a thought. Patrik Laine is another one out there that has not made too much progress with the Jets, but, as with Marner, he will be asking for a price that the Islanders do not have the cap space for. The only way that the Islanders can potentially pull it off is by making some trades and free some cap space up.

Lamoriello has a lot of decisions to make in the next couple of days, and slander fans will be eagerly waiting the news.

Stats from hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

You can follow the author of the post, Abin Boris on Twitter @abin_boris