Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators re-sign Anthony Duclair

The Ottawa Senators have inked forward Anthony Duclair to a one-year contract extension worth $1.65 million.

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Duclair was first acquired by the Senators last season on February 23rd, along with two second-round draft picks of 2020 and 2021, from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Ryan Dzingel and a 2019 seventh-round pick.

The trade came after just a few days when Blue Jackets Head Coach, John Tortorella, publicly criticized Duclair in saying “he doesn’t know how to play.”

Last season, the 23-year old tallied up 19 goals and 33 points, which includes 14 points in 21 games with Ottawa. He ended playing a decent amount of time on the third line with Chris Tierney and Bobby Ryan. While Ryan and Tierney have been a bit shaky at times, Duclair developed a strong rapport with his linemates. He managed to have the highest expected goals for a Senators player at even strength.

His performance with the Senators paid off as he seems to have found a home in Ottawa. He’s bounced around from team to team throughout his NHL career. Since being drafted in 2013, he’s been part of the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets. For a while it seemed like he was becoming the next Thomas Vanek, Jaromir Jagr or Kenny Lofton, but after a good showing in Ottawa, he seems to have put the breaks on the moving trucks.

Duclair has totaled up 287 games played, 56 goals, and 122 points in his National Hockey League career.

The Laval, Quebec native’s most productive season came in 2015-16 with the Coyotes where Duclair registered 20 goals and 44 points in 81 games.

stats from hockey-reference.com, moneypuck.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

 

Detroit Red Wings

Deadline Dealings of the Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings went into the deadline knowing full well that the team wasn’t competing for a playoff spot and they decided that they would sell off some of their expendable contracts.

While they weren’t able to sell all of their expiring or undesirable deals they were able to collect a good set of assets for the players they were able to deal.

Before getting to the trades, let’s look at the players that didn’t get moved and why they remain members of the Detroit Red Wings.

Thomas Vanek (UFA 2019)

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Thomas Vanek is the player that has “saved” trade deadline coverage in the past in the words of TSN hockey host James Duthie. This year was a bit different. They were still able to talk about him because teams were interested and it’s been reported that he denied a trade to the Boston Bruins, exercising his no trade clause in order to stay in Detroit and avoid the deadline move. Vanek didn’t move this year because he didn’t want to. Not for lack of trying on Ken Holland’s part.

Jimmy Howard (UFA 2019)

The Wings goalie Jimmy Howard was rumoured to be going to different teams but ended up doing what most thought he would, staying in Detroit. In the end Ken Holland said the interest wasn’t there because there wasn’t much of a goalie market at the deadline. The veteran goalie will likely sign a short term extension in Detroit in the coming months and remain their goalie through the rebuild until one of their younger goalies is ready to come and play. Howard could end up being the perfect mentor to one of the prospects. Expect a 3 year deal in the range of $5-$6 million for Howard at some point in the coming months as the season winds down.

Niklas Kronwall (UFA 2019)

Did anyone really expect this to happen? The long time Red Wings defensemen was rumoured to be of interest to the Columbus Blue Jackets but the conversation didn’t seem to go far. The talks never made it to the stage of asking Niklas Kronwall to waive his limited no movement clause. Holland said after the deadline passed that he and Kronwall would talk closer to the end of the season and if Kronwall wants to play another season, he will play another season but he’s not sure that’s the case.

The Bad Contracts

The pipe dream of Red Wings fans was that the team could move one or more of the bad contracts. This was not the case. There was no action for Trevor Daley, Justin Abdelkader or Danny DeKeyser and there was very little action on Luke Glendening. All of which are signed for at multiple years after this season except for Daley who is up after next season. These are more likely offseason moves and could require a creative resolution to help absolve the Red Wings of the contractual burdens that they’ve become.

Who left? Nick Jensen and Gustav Nyquist

The only two players that the Wings were able to trade were defensemen Nick Jensen and playmaking winger Gustav Nyquist. Both players fetched the team some good assets. Both players were free agents at the end of the season so they were sold as purely rentals.

Nick Jensen

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Nick Jensen was dealt three days prior to the deadline in a deal which seen the Washington Capitals send Madison Bowey and a 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft to the Wings for the puck moving defensemen.

A solid player in his own zone and a darling analytically in transitional play, Jensen goes to the Capitals to help shore up their defence much like their acquisition of Michal Kempny did last season. Within an hour of the trade, the Capitals had announced a 4 year, $10 million extension for Jensen.

The return for Detroit is a bit of magic beans. A 2nd round pick next year that can be used to either being in a young player through the draft or as an asset in a trade. Madison Bowey could be the key to the trade.

A young defencemen that was drafted in the second round, 53rd overall in the 2013 draft, Bowey showed offensive upside in his junior career. He has good size and speed, he is considered a very “toolsy” player who hasn’t had a chance to catch up to the speed of the NHL game. With some further development, Bowey could turn into a good, reliable 4-5-6 defensemen with some upside.

Gustav Nyquist

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Gustav Nyquist is headed to play for the team that the Red Wings played the eve of the deadline in the San Jose Sharks. The veteran winger is said to only have one team on his no trade list but it was never revealed who that one team was. Needless to say, Holland didn’t feel restrained by the no trade clause and took the best deal available.

In return for the shifty playmaker the wings received a 2nd round pick in 2019 as well as a conditional 2020 3rd round pick. The condition being that should the San Jose Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup final or Nyquist re-signs with the Sharks.

The deal is comparable to the Mats Zuccarello deal that went down the day before the deadline between the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars. The difference being that each pick in the Zuccarello deal could become a first based on similar conditions to the Nyquist pick. Similar deals but the Zuccarello deal comes with a bit more upside for the Rangers. Overall the return for Nyquist is more than reasonable, but Holland didn’t hit this one out of the park by any means.

What’s Next For The Wings?

The Red Wings are currently sitting third last in the NHL ahead of only the Ottawa Senators and the Los Angeles Kings. This means that they should be getting a top 5 pick at minimum and have an 11.5% chance at the top overall pick and will most likely end up with a top 3 pick in the upcoming draft.

This pick will be a building block for the future of the franchise along with young players such as Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Flilip Hronek among others. Adding a player of Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko through the draft would put the Red Wings line-up would accelerate the rebuild to a much better position.

Giving The Kids Ice Time

The rest of the regular season will be all about getting the young players some ice time. Whether it’s the continued development of Larkin, Mantha or Hronek or getting a short glimpse of 2018 6th overall pick Filip Zadina in his nine game stint that began on Sunday, the young kids time to shine is now.

Playing the rest of the season out the way they’ve been playing their last 5 games should be key. They have been fighting, making comebacks and committing to playing fast, fluent and consistent hockey. The Wings are a young team who’s development will be number one for the coaching staff while the management team focuses in on the draft in June where the Red Wings have 10 draft picks and 5 in the first three rounds.

The Red Wings fanbase may be looking towards the future and wanting the next big prospect to come into the lineup, but the future has started and the team is almost finished transitioning to the new generation of Red Wings stars led by the likely next captain, Dylan Larkin.

For more Red Wings and NHL content follow me on Twitter @theTonyFerrari

All stats and information is from Hockey-Reference.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com and TSN.ca

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

 

Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals: Make Thomas Vanek A Priority

The Washington Capitals should make another trade with the Detroit Red Wings.

Yesterday, the Capitals acquired defenseman Nick Jensen and a 2019 fifth round draft selection from the Red Wings. In exchange, the Red Wings acquired a defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2020 second round draft selection. This trade certainly helped the Capitals as they were able to add a solid puck moving right-handed defenseman. 

While they were able to add some depth on their blue-line, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan should be looking to add another forward. In particular, they should look at adding Baden bei Wien, Austria native, Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek

In his career, Vanek has played with many teams including the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens. In terms of career statistics, Vanek has tallied 369 goals, 413 assists, 231 power-play goals, 130 power-play assists, 14.3 shooting percentage and a 48.4 corsi-for percentage in 1,019 games. Overall, those are solid numbers. 

This season, he’s posted 12 goals, 17 assists, 8 power-play points, 14:03 average time on ice, a 47.9 corsi-for percentage and a 69.4 offensive zone start percentage. Those numbers could be better, but due to center depth issues, he’s being paired with below-average talent. Vanek’s line-mate, Luke Glendening hasn’t been effective in Detroit and isn’t someone who you should rely on in the offensive zone. He’s a typical bottom six grinder. The other option would be to play Vanek alongside Michael Rasmussen. But, the 19 year-old center hasn’t looked very solid and seems to need more time in the minors or in the CHL developing.

At this point, most folks around the league are speculating that Vanek will be dealt. He’ll become a UFA on July 1st and he’s playing for a squad that won’t be making the playoffs. There is absolutely no incentive for the Red Wings to hang onto Vanek. The only curveball is that Vanek has a no-trade-clause, but you have to imagine that he’d be open to waiving it for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.

So, perhaps, if the Capitals traded for Vanek and paired him with Lars Eller, the Austrian national might have more success and could potentially win his first Stanley Cup.

How Vanek Can Help Burakovsky?

In addition to Vanek having more success in Washington, he might be able to help Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky. While Burakovsky’s national team might be Sweden, he was born in Austria and could maybe use some inspiration from an Austrian voice in the locker room. 

Throughout this season, Burakovsky has looked pretty abysmal at times. If you compare Vanek’s production to Burakovsky’s production this season, you’ll see that all-around Vanek has been more effective. Also while Vanek’s corsi-for percentage might not look so great in the diagram below, keep in mind that playing with players like Glendening haven’t necessarily helped Vanek post solid possession stats. 

The most noticeable difference in the comparison has to be in the offensive zone. Vanek blows Burakovsky out of the water in points, primary points, goals, primary assists, secondary assists and shooting percentage.

diagram – SKATR Comparison Tool (Bill Comeau)

Plus, I can’t see the Capitals giving up on Burakovsky. Sure, he’s been in trade rumors, but he’s got a tremendous amount of upside and my assumption is that MacLellan wouldn’t receive that much in a trade for him right now. If the offers that are coming in aren’t up to par, I would give Burakovsky more time in a Washington sweater. Worst case, he doesn’t get better and he walks on July 1st. 

Recap

Overall, there are a lot of bonuses to acquiring Vanek. But, the best part is that the Capitals wouldn’t have to cough up that much. It’s hard to believe that the prospect of acquiring Vanek, wouldn’t intrigue MacLellan.

stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com and Bill Comeau’s SKATR

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins: How To Get Home Ice In Round One

It Will Go Down To The Wire, But The Boston Bruins Have Second Place In Sight 

For hockey historians, the battle in the National Hockey League’s Atlantic Division this year is a blast from the past. Three “Original Six” clubs battling it out for coveted home-ice in the playoffs. 

After play this past weekend, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadians sit within two points of one another. Only one of those three will be fortunate enough to start the NHL playoffs at home in early April. 

All three teams are a virtual lock to make the playoffs. The Canadians had the lowest odds of the trio heading into play yesterday at 88.4% according to MoneyPuck.com. Safe to say these three teams are going to the playoff dance. 

Alas, they are not battling for first place in the Atlantic. The juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning, with only 11 regulation losses on the season, have an insurmountable 15-point lead over second place Toronto. At home and cooling as they say. 

Despite a season-long battle with (in)consistency, the Bruins find themselves in the thick of the fight for home-ice in the first round of the playoffs. A 4-0-3 mark since the All-Star break has given the Bruins the necessary cushion to focus on playoff positioning in their division, and minimize the sound of the footsteps behind them from the wild card pack. 

To grab and maintain the all important second place spot in the Atlantic, many things must go the Bruins way. With three teams bunched so close together in the standings, luck and good fortune is always necessary in getting a leg up on a division rival. A perfect example is the Maple Leafs running into a hot goalie in Alexandar Georgiev Sunday night against the New York Rangers. Georgiev made 55 saves in helping the Rangers down the Leafs 4-1, allowing the Bruins to remain one point behind following their afternoon win over the Colorado Avalanche. 

It Takes More Than Luck 

Luck is great, but the Bruins will need more than that in order to take over second place. Here is a closer look at what the Bruins can do to help themselves down the stretch. 

1. FIND SECONDARY SCORING

Outside the Bruins dominant top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, there has been little in the way of secondary scoring. The threesome have combined for 44.4% of all the Bruins goals this season. Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci have chipped in with 14 and 12 goals respectively, but the rest of the roster has underachieved. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has tinkered with the line combinations throughout the year hoping to spark a fire under some of the lightweights, but with little luck. 

It’s no doubt Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will vigorously explore the trade market, hoping to acquire a rental or two in hopes of boosting the teams firepower. While the likes of Artemi Panarin and Wayne Simmonds have been linked to the Bruins, some other names Sweeney will likely inquire about include Thomas Vanek, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Dzingal and Derek Brassard. 

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2. HEALTHY AND CONSISTENT GOALTENDERS

For the most part this season, the Bruins have been solid between the pipes. Like the rest of the team, both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have endured inconsistent stretches, although not at the same time. Boston is tied for second in the league in goals against, allowing only 2.55 per game. The strength of the Bruins is certainly their backend, with as strong a top-six defensive core as you will find in the league.

After Rask and Halak, the goaltending depth within the organization drops dramatically, and it would not be a surprise if Sweeney also doesn’t kick tires looking for some insurance in net. Some notable goaltenders of interest could include Cam Ward, Cam Talbot or Keith Kinkaid

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3. MAKE THE SCHEDULE WORK 

After a home game Tuesday night against the red-hot Chicago Black Hawks, the Bruins will embark on a tough five game road trip over nine nights to the west coast. Anything less than five points during that trip could be costly to the Bruins in the standings. 

The reward for such a difficult trip is a six-game home stand waiting for them when they return to TD Garden. If the Bruins can take care of business out west, they look to be in great shape as the calendar turns to March for the stretch drive. 

4. PAGING DAVID BACKES 

If anyone in the Boston area has seen David Backes, please let Sweeney or Cassidy know as soon as possible. 

Backes, 34, has endured being a healthy scratch on occasion this season, including the Bruins’ last game against the Avalanche. Noted in the past for his aggressive nature and two-way game, Backes has been a shell of himself most of this year. A six-time 20-goal scorer in his career, Backes finds himself on pace for less than ten goals this season, while barely averaging ten minutes of ice-time per game recently. Should the Bruins be unable to add players prior to the trade deadline on February 25th, it will be vital for the Bruins to get Backes on track and prove the teams current commitment to him of $6.0 million a season (Average Annual Salary) through 2021. 

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The Bruins should be considered Stanley Cup contenders. With strong defence and goaltending, they are one of a handful of teams that have a legitimate shot of going all the way to the finals. With a couple of upgrades to the offence, the Bruins will find themselves hosting the first two games of the playoffs at TD Garden in Boston, most likely against an age-old rival in Toronto or Montreal. 

Follow me on Twitter @cbradley2928

Statistics provided by hockey-reference.com, MoneyPuck.com and theScore 

Feature Photo Image Credit: Nikos Michals

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers: Thinking Outside the Box

The Edmonton Oilers have a big problem with Ryan Spooner.

That’s not news. The sky is blue, Connor McDavid is the most skilled player in the NHL, and you can still find me in the stands cheering on this team. Some things, unfortunately so in some cases, never change.

My weird love/hate relationship with this team aside the Edmonton Oilers find themselves trapped by one of Peter Chiarelli’s final moves (man does typing that feel good!). However now is the time to start correcting those mistakes and I think there’s an outside solution to the Spooner problem.

Buried in the AHL

It was announced on January 23, 2019 that both Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Spooner were assigned to the AHL:

The former being there makes sense in the short term, as Yamamoto can play a few games in Bakersfield over the all star break or in the long-term. Personally I feel like Yamamoto should stay the rest of the season on the AHL so he can be a key cog in Bakersfield’s playoff push/run. The latter on the other hand is a different story. Spooner has failed so spectacularly in Edmonton that they no longer feel he is anything but a detriment to the team.

My first ever post on ThePuck77 was on Ryan Spooner and in it I stated that Edmonton needed to find a lineup spot for Spooner that works for him. I won’t go into too much detail on him here but my main points were:

  1. Ryan Spooner is not an offensive driver
  2. Ryan Spooner was, at his most successful, a good 3rd piece of a top 6 line.
  3. He benefited greatly from being on top power-play units
  4. He is a really ineffective possession player.

If you want more in depth analysis on Spooner check out my first piece on him here.

Someone Similar?

You would think this situation would be rare in the NHL. Not many teams employ 3+ million dollar men in the AHL…

But there is another…

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Yes that’s right I’m talking about Sam “8 points in one game” Gagner.

Gagner has been a very nice addition to the Toronto Marlies roster since being sent down. In 36 games thus far Gagner has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points. He definitely isn’t letting his demotion slow him down any. Even when he has played in the NHL he was not that poor. In 7 NHL games Gagner had 3 points, 1 goal, 2 assists. He has also been very good in terms of possession at the NHL level, posting a surprising 59.9% Corsi rating, and a 15.2 Corsi relative for rating. This, along with his 59.9% Fenwick for rating and 17.4 Fenwick relative for rating, paint a picture of a player who has more to give at the NHL level.

Gagner does a lot of things well that mesh with the Oilers needs right now. While he does have some warts to his game in regards to defending Edmonton at current needs a guy who is an offensive weapon. Gagner is a power-play, overtime, and shootout specialist. Put in the right situation; i.e on the left side of a Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl power-play, should result in increased success for Edmonton’s power-play.

Power-play Prowess

For example in 2016/17 he had 50 points, 18 of which came on the power-play. In 2017/2018, in his first year with Canucks (way lower teammate quality), he had 31 points, 11 of which were on the power-play.

In 2016/17 Gagner played on a unit with Zach Werenski, Nick Foglino, Cam Atkinson, and Alex Wennberg. on a much less successful Vancouver power-play Gagner played with a mix of Alex Edler, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Sven Baertschi, and Thomas Vanek. Vancouver struggled to find the right mix of players and eventually Gagner got lost in the shuffle. He ended up struggling to the point where he was demoted to the AHL at the beginning of this season.

Wherever Gagner goes he always finds a way on to that team’s power-play because that is where he excels. He is an extremely gifted offensive player who has a good shot and is extremely creative with the puck. The thing that he is the best at on the power-play is MOVING. The Edmonton Oilers power-play right now has stagnated. This is mainly due to the same issue that plagued them last year. They are too slow. they do not move the puck around enough to properly open up seams and lanes in an opposing team’s penalty kill. This kills them and they need a player like Gagner that can keep the puck moving on the power-play.

Is This Trade Realistic?

This is always the huge question with the hypothetical articles. It’s why I don’t enjoy making these speculation articles in general, do it wrong and you immediately can ruin your credibility as a writer. 

However in this case I think there’s a realistic possibility a trade like this could work. Right now at left-wing the Canucks employ Nikolai Goldobin, Sven Baertschi, Josh Leivo, Loui Eriksson, and Antoine Roussel. Goldobin has 23 points, Eriksson has 20, Leivo has 7, Baertschi has 13, and Roussel has 19. It’s safe to say they could use a boost. Edmonton currently employs Alex Chiasson, Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Tobias Reider, and I could go on at wing. Outside of Chiasson none of those players have 20 points, outside of Khaira, none have 15 points. Edmonton needs wingers bad.

So a swap of two players that both make almost exactly the same amount of money, that could potentially re-spark their careers makes a lot of sense. Gagner makes 50k more than Spooner at 3.15 million over the same amount of term. At current neither of Spooner or Gagner are going to see the light of day back in the NHL with their respective teams. It makes sense, at least to me to try to swap the two players in the hopes that they could re-find their offense elsewhere.

Wrap Up

The main reason this probably won’t happen is Vancouver and Edmonton are teams both currently in a dog fight for the last wildcard spot. While it would be an interesting trade as it would create a potential double rental situation if both Spooner and Gagner bounce back, the risk involved nixes that trade.

What do you think? is this trade realistic for both sides? leave a comment or find us on twitter at @ThePuck77 and me personally at @chayzdj.

All stats used in this article came from HockeyReference.com, Capfriendly.com, and HockeyDB.com.