New York Rangers

New York Rangers: Jacob Trouba Moving To Broadway

The New York Rangers have made a trade with the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba.

Cheveldayoff Making Another Move With NYR

Trouba will be a restricted free agent on July 1st and he hasn’t been open to signing a long-term deal in the past with Winnipeg. With Trouba’s interest levels of remaining in Winnipeg being very low, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff called his friends in Manhattan to work out a trade.

It wasn’t very long ago that the Jets made a trade with the Rangers. Prior to trade deadline, Cheveldayoff acquired Kevin Hayes from the Rangers. Hayes was added at the deadline to help provide the Jets with some centre depth, but he’s now in Philadelphia. Just to note, Hayes isn’t technically a Philadelphia Flyer just yet. He’ll be a free agent like Trouba and the Flyers had acquired his signing rights.

Who The Jets Are Getting

Per the New York Rangers twitter handle, the Rangers dealt Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Oddly enough, the Jets previously owned the pick, but coughed it up in the deadline trade for Hayes. With the trade, the Jets now have a first round pick and have five picks in total for the draft.

They also inked Pionk. Pionk has been a serviceable defenseman for the Rangers. He’s a solid 4th/5th defenseman. In the past, he’s shown to fans that he’s capable of putting up solid power-play numbers. But, he’s not spectacular in his own zone nor the neutral zone. His defensive corsi-for and his expected goals against aren’t great. 

In the visual below from Sean Tierney, you’ll see just how awful Pionk was on the Rangers’ blueline. Pionk’s break-up percentage and possession exit percentage were both quite low. He’s not a puck mover and can’t be trusted in critical situations.

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder

Jacob Trouba

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On the flip side, Trouba is a stellar two-way defenseman. But, he’s much better in the offensive zone.

In the chart below (created by CJ Turtoro), you’ll see that Trouba was more efficient at shot contributions/60, shot assists/60 and shots/60 than Pionk. He’s also a lot better in the defensive zone as well. But, the only area where Pionk has him slightly beat is zone entries.

visual created by CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

All-In-All

At the end of the day, this was a great trade for both sides. It’s been rumoured for a while that Trouba has no interest in playing in Winnipeg and it’s evident that Cheveldayoff gave up on his mission of making Trouba feel more at home. He was able to net his first round draft pick back and a solid depth defenseman.

For the New York Rangers, they’ve been adding young defensemen left and right. Earlier this year, they acquired Adam Fox from the Carolina Hurricanes and they are back at it again. With Trouba and Fox moving to Broadway, the Rangers defensive unit has quickly become a pretty good unit. Their opponents in the Metropolitan Division won’t have a lot of fun next season.

data from Corey Sznajder, hockey-reference.com

visuals from CJ Turtoro and Sean Tierney

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

 

 

 

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins: The Jerks Are Coming

The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes will battle for the right to play for one of the most prestigous trophies in all of sports. The Stanley Cup. 

 

Eight more wins for the Boston Bruins and the duck boats will be ready once again.

As no surprise to any hockey fan, the Carolina Hurricanes have been nails the entire National Hockey League post-season. An historic seventh game took place in Washington at Capitol One Arena in round one, and yet again it was “Mr. Game 7” himself, Hurricanes forward Justin Williams, assisting on the winning goal to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. 

His nickname talks for him. He doesn’t need the media, the fans, the hype, or the glory. Williams makes things happen when he’s on the ice, and there’s no secret he’ll be doing the same in Game One Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston. He wins. Plain and simple. 

Williams, like any athlete, will tell you that the media can sometimes stir the pot. Have you ever heard of Don Cherry? Well earlier this season Cherry, the voice of Hockey Night in Canada, took it upon himself to go out of his way and call the Hurricanes a “Bunch of Jerks”.

Hurricanes Not Jerking Around

If you follow the NHL, their videos went viral. After each win, the Hurricanes plan some sort of “play” or “act” on the ice. We’ve seen them play basketball, have boxing matches and we’ve even seen them cast a line or two to try and catch some fish. All in the name of celebrating a win. The fans loved it.

Which brings us to the point of “Oh wait, the Hurricanes have fans?” I’m not one to bash an organization, but the fans didn’t start showing up until the Hurricanes started winning. Call my bluff, but it’s true.

However, I believe with any team that if a slump was occurring attendance would be down. And when they start winning it’s “Oh look, we have fans!”

As for Cherry? I have no opinion on “The Jerks”. It got people into the building, buying merchandise, and having a good time inside PNC Arena. No disrespect whatsoever. Come Game One tomorrow, the storm surge better be ready for a Bruins team that can smell the inside of the Stanley Cup.

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The Hurricanes are no joke. They’ve played good hockey all season long, giving them a playoff birth, and they find themselves four wins away from the Stanley Cup Final. They’re loaded with talent. That talent is lead by the 21-year-old Finnish forward Sebastian Aho.  The Hurricanes selected Aho with the 35h overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry draft. How does that kind of talent fall so late in the draft? Oh yeah, Bruins forward David Pastrnak fell to 25th,  Patrice Bergeron was a second-round pick, and goaltender Tuukka Rask was the “prospect” involved in the Andrew Raycroft trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Guys slip through the cracks. It happens.

Battle of the Blue Lines

A huge factor I want to mention in this series will be on the blue line. I absolutely love the back end for the Hurricanes, Personally, maybe not so much Dougie Hamilton, but guys like Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, and Jaccob Slavin all have such bright young futures in the NHL. They recently just lost Adam Fox,who was traded to the New York Rangers. He was projected to be a top player within the organization. It just didn’t work for what Carolina was trying to build. So it’s no secret the Hurricanes can draft and develop.

A story line circling the news this week is the return of former Bruins draft pick Hamilton. He was the ninth-overall selection in the 2011 draft, the year after Boston had selected Tyler Seguin with their second-overall selection.

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We thought we had it. Our franchise forward, then our franchise defenseman. Things didn’t work out for either of them. Boston traded Seguin to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson and Hamilton to the  Calgary Flames for draft picks. Not to mention Bruins general manager Don Sweeney totally struck out with the picks. Not one has been an established NHL player. Yeah, we’ve seen some call-ups but nothing permanent. 

In 2016 though, Boston selected defenceman Charlie McAvoy, who’s very much taken over the role of the “pride and joy” on the Bruins blue line. BUT, the Boston Bruins will be without their stud defenseman for Game One. McAvoy is due to serve a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson that occurred in Game Six of their last series. Thankfully it isn’t any longer, but the loss of McAvoy to the Boston blue line will definitely be a factor tomorrow night.

Before the NHL trade deadline, Carolina general manager Don Waddell acquired Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild. Niederreiter has always been a high-end talent in the league. This move has shown dividends. Immensely. He looks amazing, re-energized, and clearly has his eyes on the prize. He’ll be a handful, as will many other Hurricanes if Boston wants to play for the Cup.

Bruins Rounding Into Form

We’ve seen adversity strike this Bruins team through their run to the final. Pastnrak and Bergeron were not scoring, and everyone else just seemed to be “out there”. Since Game Seven of round one, the Bruins look like a better team. I won’t say much better, but better than they did against the Maple Leafs.

Bruins veteran defenceman Zdeno Chara needs to call it quits. During the Toronto series, you could tell he was as slow as anything. The media and fans thought “Oh well, maybe it’s just the speed of the Maple Leafs”.

Wrong.

Chara looks like he’s lost. He’s driving the turnover wagon and creates costly scoring chances every game for the opposition. I know he just signed an extension for one more season, but Chara may seriously consider calling it a career when this season is over. 

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Through Games 5 and 7, we’ve seen Boston’s top line find their game. Brad Marchand has been better. Bergeron and Pastrnak (who I think is fighting an injury) have been much better. But, they wouldn’t be playing tomorrow night without their ELITE goaltender in Tuukka Rask.

I’ve written about Rask before, and as hockey fans we know the criticism he’s taken, but my goodness he’s taken everything to a whole new level this postseason.

Goaltending can win you games, and it can absolutely steal you games. Rask has done that. He’s shown up every night, and has answered the bell when called upon. He’s allowed a fluke goal here and there, but overall Rask is the reason why the Bruins are eight wins aways from hockey’s ultimate goal.

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Fans in Boston can smell, see, and taste what might come in June, which is a Stanley Cup victory.  However, the Hurricanes are the next victim on the menu. They stand in the way of the Bruins reaching their goal.

Even with their backup goalie, the Hurricanes are going to answer the door no doubt. It’ll be interesting to see who takes the city of Boston and this team on their back, for one more run at The Stanley Cup.

The time is now.

Statistics provided by hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

New York Rangers

New York Rangers: Adam Fox acquired from Carolina Hurricanes

The New York Rangers acquire D prospect Adam Fox from Carolina for 2019 2nd and 2020 conditional 3rd.

The 2020 3rd round pick becomes a 2nd rounder if Fox plays 30 NHL games next season. 

What it means for Carolina?

The Hurricanes really had nothing to lose here. It was widely assumed that Fox was never going to sign with them. He made those rumors a fact a few weeks ago. So instead of letting the talented offensive defenseman walk for nothing, the Hurricanes got maximum return from the only team that had a realistic shot of signing him. 

It was likely to be a difficult path for Fox to make Carolina’s roster, anyway. They have a very talented defense core, especially on the right side. With Dougie Hamilton and Justin Faulk occupying the top 2 pairings on that side. Brett Pesce and Haydn Fleury have also proven to be capable defenders in the playoffs this season. 

For Don Waddell to get this kind of return for a player that was going to walk to the team that traded for him is very impressive. 

Grade: A+

What it means for New York Rangers? 

Adam Fox was going to be a New York Ranger, regardless of the trade. He had made that abundantly clear since he was drafted by Calgary a few years ago. He asked to play on the biggest stage, and the spotlight got a whole lot brighter considering the route that he took to get there. The Eli Manning comparisons will be commonplace among sports pundits, and living up to the expectations will be difficult. 

His skills should make for an easy transition from college to the NHL. He averaged over 1.50 points per game at the NCAA level, the most ever for a defenseman. Assuming that he signs his ELC and joins the Rangers in time for next season, the two 2nd round picks could be a cheap price to pay for a generational defenseman. If he does return to Harvard next season, the payment would seem like a reach for a guy they could have gotten for free. 

Grade: B if he signs, C- if he goes back to Harvard.

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

 

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Prospect Profiles, Andrei Altybarmakyan

Andrei Altybarmakyan could be a solid forward for the Chicago Blackhawks down the road.

To start off I just want to say that I hope for this to be a multi-part series where I go over many Chicago Blackhawks prospects in-depth. Hoping it sticks! And with that let’s get right into it.

Andrei Altybarmakyan

Andrei Altybarmakyan (Alta-Bar-Mah-Can) is a Russian winger. He currently is playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the top league in Russia. He has spent much of his time with HK Sochi. He also played with SKA-Neva St. Petersburg in the VHL and SKA-1946 St. Petersburg in the MHL. He recorded five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 14 games.

Altybarmakyan, was in need of a change of scenery, and he was traded from SKA-St. Petersburg to HK Sochi and has found some playing time for their KHL team. He has since recorded two goals and four assists in 38 KHL games. While he is getting more ice time with HK Sochi, he has been given less than 10 minutes of ice-time per game.

Andrei, really made a name for himself at the World Juniors last year with Russia. He scored a goal and assisted on two others in five games. He has done really well at the international level as a whole recording four goals and five assists in 15 games in U20 competition.

Here you can see Altybarmakyan, uses his speed and his strength to get around top defensive prospect, Adam Fox, at last year’s World Juniors.

Altybarmakyan, is one of the most unknown Blackhawks prospects, but has shown skill and potential to be an NHL player.

Altybarmakyan’s Future

As a player playing in Russia, you never know if you that player will ever come over to the NHL. The Blackhawks took that chance and it looks like it’s a smart move.

Altybarmakyan plays with high intensity and is hard to knock off the puck. He has great vision, which allows for him to be an excellent playmaker. He has great speed. He may need to work on his shot and his physical game in the defensive end.

Here’s an example of his work ethic and his strength.

He has really shown what he can do in the KHL playoffs. He has been absolutely superb. He has produced two goals and an assist in five games. He averaged just 12 minutes of ice time per night. Altybarmakyan can make an impact every game, even though he may not put up the most points he is a great two-way forward.

I project Altybarmakyan to be a two-way forward. He will most likely be a middle six forward and have a role on the penalty kill.

At only 20 years old, he has plenty of developing to do. He can come over as soon as next year, but will probably stay in the KHL for a few more years. I for one am excited to have a player like this in the system.

stats from – Elite Prospects

special thanks to – Pete Blackburn and Second City Hockey

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Should They Look Into The Adam Fox Situation?

It was reported on Tuesday that Carolina Hurricanes prized defence prospect Adam Fox will not sign with the Carolina Hurricanes, opting instead to return to Harvard for his senior year, after which he will be granted free agency. But, what does this mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Adam Fox was one of the main pieces going to Carolina in the draft-day deal that sent Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Fox, Dougie Hamilton, and Micheal Ferland. Fox was, and still is, highly coveted by the Hurricanes. The Flames selected the young defenseman in the third round of the 2016 draft out of the U.S. National Development Program, but after incredible freshman and sophomore seasons at Harvard, he shot up prospect rankings. The Flames tried to get him under contract before the 2018 draft, but Fox declined in favour of going back to college for his junior year. This December, prohockeyrumors.com reported that the Hurricanes were “very confident” that he would sign with them at the end of the season. Now, Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal says that he may shun them as well.

Why would he not sign with the Hurricanes?

The Hurricanes are a team with lots of defensive talent. This is evident in a quick look at their statistics this season. The Hurricanes rank top-10 in goals allowed (T-8), shots on goal allowed (3), CF% (shot attempts for) (2), and xGF% (expected goals for) (1). Their defensive pairings are so stacked with talent that they have to leave a prospect like Jake Bean in the AHL. Their pairings are as follows:

Jaccob SlavinDougie Hamilton
Brett PesceJustin Faulk
Calvin de HaanTrevor van Riemsdyk

Their fifth and sixth defensemen, de Haan and van Riemsdyk could play higher in the lineup on most other teams. Thus, this logjam of defensive talent could block a prospect like Adam Fox from receiving lots of minutes. This may be why he chooses to forego signing his contract this year and wait to sign with a team of his choice.

Precedent for the Leafs

Jimmy Vesey

Leafs fans have seen a situation like this before. The Nashville Predators selected Jimmy Vesey in the third round of the 2012 draft. Vesey, like Fox, played for Harvard. However, when GM David Poile offered him a spot for the end of the 2015-16 regular season and playoffs, Vesey declined, wanting to pick his own team instead. The Leafs spoke with Vesey and were finalists in the sweepstakes. Unfortunately, Vesey ultimately chose the New York Rangers—a team that undoubtedly had less talent than the Leafs, but significantly more minutes and a larger opportunity.

This example shows that the Leafs could have a realistic shot at signing the young defender when he reaches free agency for reasons I discuss below.

Zach Hyman

The Florida Panthers selected Zach Hyman in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Amid concerns regarding the Panthers’ chances of signing him, the Leafs traded for Hyman’s rights, giving up AHLer Greg McKegg in return. Of course, Hyman’s situation is different from Fox’s because Hyman was born in Toronto. This situation could be indicative of Fox going to a team other than the Leafs. Fox is a native of Jericho, New York, and it is rumoured that he may be interested in signing with the New York Rangers.

The Leafs and Adam Fox

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Fox, a 21-year old, is a right-handed-shot—an organizational need for the Leafs. In 32 games this year, he has tallied 9 goals and 39 assists for 48 points. He is a serious contender for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the best NCAA player. In 2017-18, he scored 6 goals and got 22 assists for 28 points in 29 games. He has played in the last two World Juniors with Team USA, the last one coming as an assistant captain.

The Leafs, unlike the Hurricanes, have very little talent on their blue-line, and all of it comes from left-handed shots. This summer, Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey’s contracts will expire, leaving two open spots in the lineup. Additionally, Nikita Zaitsev is often a target of trade rumours, and will likely be gone if Kyle Dubas can get a team to take his $4.5 million contract off his hands. Martin Marincin, Justin Holl, and Igor Ozhiganov are nowhere close to having guaranteed spots in the lineup next year. This leaves only Morgan Rielly, Travis Dermott, and Jake Muzzin—all left-handers—with the only guaranteed spots in the lineup for next season.

If Adam Fox signed with the Leafs, he would join an instant contender. Given the lack of talent on the right side, Mike Babcock would give him lots of minutes, likely in the top four. Calle Rosen, who is expected to be called up to the Leafs this week, Rasmus Sandin, and Timothy Liljegren, who may still need more work in the AHL are the only other legitimate candidates to make the roster next year. Simply put, the Leafs and Adam Fox are great fits for each other, and they would be silly to not consider agreeing to a contract should the defender reach free agency.

Fox is also good friends with two American Leafs prospects, who could influence his decision in free agency.

Of course, the Leafs will be very close to the salary cap after this summer. However, Fox’s first contract would be an entry-level deal, which is less than $1 million per year. For example, Jimmy Vesey’s contract with the Rangers was a two-year ELC worth $925,000 annually against the cap. It’s not guaranteed that Fox will reach free agency, or that Fox and Dubas will be in contact with him, but it would be prudent for Dubas to at least try, whether it be through free agency or a trade to acquire his rights. On the surface, at least, the two seem like a perfect fit.

 

All stats are from theScore, Corsica Hockey, and Elite Prospects.
Salary information obtained from CapFriendly

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler