That Damn Hockey Blog

The potential 2015-16 roster for your Atlanta Thrashers

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The Atlanta Thrashers. Everybody knows about the Thrashers. The franchise which debuted in the 1999-00 season, and was relocated to Winnipeg before the 2011-12 season.  Atlanta are more known for being rubbish and not having much success in the NHL (only one playoff appearance in their lifetime). This was Atlanta’s second foray in the league, after the Atlanta Flames were active from 1971, until 1980, where they relocated to Canada and became the Calgary Flames.

However, with most NHL franchises, the players they could have had usually makes a better story than those on their current roster. Or, in the Thrashers’  case, who they could have on their current roster if they had not have relocated. Here is the list, of goalies and defensemen, that could potentially still be an Atlanta Thrasher.

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Edmonton Oilers, That Damn Hockey Blog

Is an average season enough for Connor McDavid?

What if Connor McDavid has an average rookie season in the National Hockey League?

I know the idea is unthinkable, considering every person associated with hockey, has had him touted as the next big thing, since his early days with the Erie Otters in the CHL. McDavid is expected to break the 70 point barrier in his first season, making him the first rookie since Patrick Kane (72pts in 07-08), to achieve the feat.

The average point total, for the highest scoring rookie, over the last five seasons, is on average rounded up to be 55pts. Over the last ten, the average total rounded, is 65pts. These totals include the shortened season of 2012-13, and Ovechkin’s ridiculous 105 point rookie season in 05-06.

What if McDavid only gets to 65 points this season? Mark Stone and Johnny Gaudreau, scored the most points for a rookie last season, with 64 pts. That’s a good season for veteran NHLers, let alone first year players. But McDavid is predicted to be better than this. He is rated to be at the same level as Sidney Crosby, when he came into the league. Fun fact, even though Crosby scored 102pts in his rookie season, he still finished second behind Alex Ovechkin’s 105 point total. If McDavid was to score 65 points in his rookie season, then for most rookies, playing on most teams, that would be considered a good start.

However, Connor McDavid, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers.

The same Edmonton Oilers, that have had four number one draft picks, in the last seasons. The same Edmonton Oilers that have been to blame, for not nuturing their young talent, and throwing them into the fire, before they are ready. This Edmonton Oilers, is different from seasons past. Sure, they won the first overall pick in the draft lottery, but they have a new GM in Peter Chiarelli, a new coach in Todd McLellan, and a collection of amateur and pro scouts relieved of duties in the Oilers organization, which means that the Oil has been changed in Edmonton. But will this new Oil change help the engine run better? Or will McDavid just be another young stud, dragged down in Edmonton, before their career can really get going?

If the start of the season is anything to go by, then it looks like that McDavid will help break the mould and push the Oilers off the bottom of the National Hockey League. The Oilers and McDavid currently match games played and points totals this season (7 GP, 6 PTS). Does this mean that the Oilers will only be as good as Connor McDavid? Perhaps. Does this mean that Connor McDavid will help the Oilers this season? The likelier option of the two.

There’s no saying that McDavid won’t improve the Oilers this season, but will he get to that magical 70 mark, that he is expected to bypass? The Oilers ended up with 62 points last season and are expected to improve, with the additions they have made. But, with all these additions, can the Oilers get 70 points this season, and if they do, will McDavid match it?

You can follow me on Twitter if you like, it’s @ThatDamnDoubleC.

Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars 2015-16 Bored Hockey Fan Season Preview

In two years, Jim Nill has turned the Dallas Stars, from a team always on the outside looking in, to a franchise on the up and up, with the potential of a deep Stanley Cup run.

Not since the 1-2 punch of Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk, have the Stars had the talent down the middle of the ice. Tyler seguin and Jason Spezza, give Dallas the centres needed, to compete in the Western Conference, where strength down the middle of the ice is paramount to success.

Add to Seguin and Spezza, three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp. Sharp was traded to the Stars, alongside defensive prospect Stephen Johns, for forward Ryan Garbutt and stalwart of the Stars D, Trevor Daley. The trade was Nill’s third blockbuster trade, in as many seasons, since leaving Detroit to become GM.

Nill’s recruitment drive for the upcoming season, started at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, when Dallas traded only a 7th rd pick, to the San Jose Sharks, for the rights of Goaltender Antti Niemi. Niemi was signed at 3yr-13.5 million, before his contract expired on July 1.

With a top 6 boasting Sharp, Seguin, Spezza and reigning Hart Trophy winner, Captain Jamie Benn, the Stars top forward core, match those of any top 6 in the National Hockey League. Add to that, a young defensive core, bolstered by another multi-Stanley Cup winner with Chicago in Johnny Oduya, give the Stars, on paper at least, a very strong chance of making their first Stanley Cup finals since 2000.

But not everything in Dallas, is full of sunshine and lollipops. The new recruits have to gel with their new team-mates quickly, to avoid falling behind early in a strong Conference. Sharp in particular, will need to hit the scoresheet early in the season, to be the support for Benn and Seguin, the Stars desperately need.

The main problem with the Stars, especially last season, was at the back end. Once known for having a very stingent defense during the days of Zubov, Sydor, Hatcher and then-GM Bob Gainey, in recent days, Dallas have been more known as the Allas Stars, due to the lack of D being played inside the American Airlines Center. Some of that could be put down to a young, inexperienced defense, still learning the trade of playing at a consistent level in the NHL, however, the major part of the Stars’ flaws in D, is their starting Goalie, Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen, and his merry band of backups, had a season in which most people would describe as a shocker. Outside of Ben Scrivens at Edmonton, Lehtonen had the worst SV% (.903) of all Goaltenders who played at least 40 games or more, conceded the second most amount of goals (181), with Lehtonen’s backups last season, gathering a total of just eight wins.

Enter Antti Niemi. Ironically, another previous Cup winner with the Blackhawks. Niemi answers the problem that the Stars have had for years, solid goaltending to help Lehtonen, or to jump in when Lehtonen’s groin decided it doesn’t want to work anymore. Even though last season, was the first in many, where’s Lehtonen’s groin didn’t play up, he was still nowhere near his best.

So, where will the Stars end up next season?

With franchises such as Chicago, and the Los Angeles Kings, looking like taking a step back this season, and the likes of Winnipeg and Calgary, looking to prove to the world that they aren’t one-hit wonders out West, Dallas will be looking to be back in the playoffs, after missing out last term. Sharp should add to the scoring depth from the top 6, but they are still missing a top 6 right wing, which would allow Ales Hemsky to go on the third line and add more depth alongside Cody Eakin.

Scoring wasn’t the issue last season, nor will it be in the upcoming season. However, defense and goaltending will have two big question marks hovering over it the entire season. If the young core doesn’t take the next step in 2016, I don’t see Oduya or Alex Goligoski or Jason Demers becoming that elite guy, that the Stars are hoping John Klingberg becomes. If there are still struggles on the back end, then they need to hope that Niemi is the solution to their problems in net, otherwise Jim Nill will have to pull out another blockbuster, in order to bring in that elite top 2-4 defensemen that the Stars will need to be successful in the Western Conference.

If the Stars can have more 4-1 victories, as opposed to scraping away with a 5-4 win, the confidence of the young Stars will skyrocket, which will take the pressure off the front end to score, allowing them to relax and do what they do best, then they will be contenders in the West. A lot of things have to gel and go right straight away in order for the Stars to contend, but there is no reason to believe that the Stars won’t miss the playoffs. Perhaps even a Cup run.

 

Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, New York Riveters, NWHL

Introducing the NWHL

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NWHL(2015) logo” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

A recent sponsored Facebook post alerted me to the fact that the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League had just signed their first player, team USA goaltender Brianne McLaughlin.  Well that’s awesome and all, but who are the Buffalo Beauts and what in the world is the NWHL?

I decided to dig deeper.  I learned that the NWHL is a brand new women’s professional hockey league, with the inaugural puck drop scheduled for this October, and that the Buffalo Beauts are one of the first four teams, along with the Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale, and the New York Riveters.  The Beauts will be playing their home games at the brand new HarborCenter, directly across the street from First Niagara Center where the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres call home.

The first NWHL Draft took place last month, and the teams are in the process of signing players to contracts.  This is a milestone for women’s hockey as this is the first paid professional women’s hockey league in North America.  The original idea Dani Rylan had was to bring a Canadian Women’s Hockey League team to New York, but ultimately she created the NWHL instead.

“We’re thrilled to be launching the first-ever paid professional women’s hockey league and creating a platform for these talented women,” says Rylan. “We look forward to helping the sport for the best players in the world, and giving these women a place to shine.”

The NWHL season will consist of 18 games per team, nine home and nine away, with the season lasting from October until March, including pre-season, an All-Star weekend, and the playoffs.  The regular season starts October 17th with each team playing one game each weekend.

For more information on the NWHL, check out their website at NWHL.co.

Winnipeg Jets

2015 NHL Entry Draft – Winnipeg Jets

INS: Kyle Connor (Pick 17, Youngstown, USHL), Jack Roslovic (Pick 25, USA U18, USHL), Jansen Harkins (Pick 47, Prince George, WHL), Erik Foley (Pick 78, Cedar Rapids, USHL), Michael Spacek (Pick 108, Pardubice, CZREP), Mason Appleton (Pick 168, Tri-City, USHL), Sami Niku (Pick 198, JYP 2, FIN 2), Matteo Gennaro (Pick 203, Prince Albert, WHL)

OUTS: NIL

No losses and two big gains in Connor and Roslovic. Winnipeg’s prospects just keep getting stronger and stronger.

2015 DRAFT RATING: B+

Washington Capitals

2015 NHL Entry Draft – Washington Capitals

INS: Ilya Samsonov (Pick 22, Magnitogorsk 2, RUS-JR), Jonas Siegenthaler (Pick 57, Zurich, SUI), Connor Hobbs (Pick 143, Regina, WHL), Colby Williams (Pick 173, Regina, WHL)

OUTS: NIL

Drafting Samsonov, allows them to give him the time to develop, whilst thet still have Braden Holtby. Not the best of drafts, considering they only had four picks. But then again, not the worst either.

2015 DRAFT RATING: B-

Vancouver Canucks

2015 NHL Entry Draft – Vancouver Canucks

INS: Brock Boeser (Pick 23, Waterloo, USHL), Guillaume Brisebois (Pick 66, Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL), Dmitry Zhukenov (Pick 114, Omsk 2, RUS-JR.), Carl Nevill (Pick 144, Sherbrooke, QMJHL), Adam Gaudette (Pick 149, Cedar Rapids, USHL), Lukas Jasek (Pick 174, Trinec, CZREP), Tate Olson (Pick 210, Prince George, WHL)

OUTS: Eddie Lack (Carolina Hurricanes)

Didn’t get nearly enough for Eddie Lack and now all hope lies with Jacob Markstrom as the next Goaltender behind Ryan Miller. Not the most impressive of drafts.

2015 DRAFT RATING: C-

Toronto Maple Leafs

2015 NHL Entry Draft – Toronto Maple Leafs

INS: Mitch Marner (Pick 4, London, OHL), Travis Dermott (Pick 34, Erie, OHL), Jeremy Bracco (Pick 61, USA U18, USHL), Andrew Nielsen (Pick 65, Lethbridge, WHL), Martins Dzierkals (68, Riga 2, RUS-JR.), Jesper Lindgren (Pick 95, Modo Jr., SWE-JR.), Dmytro Timashov (Pick 125, Quebec, QMJHL), Stephen Desrocher (Pick Pick 155, Oshawa, OHL), Nikita Korostelev (Pick 185, Sarnia, OHL), Martin Marincin (Edmonton Oilers)

OUTS: Brad Ross (Edmonton Oilers)

Mike Babcock’s first draft as Leafs head coach has turned out ot be very successful. Dermott is a steal at 34 and gives the Leafs a nice prospect D and Marner is a great pick at 4. Add in Marincin to your prospect D core and fans in Toronto have reason to get excited about their back end future.

2015 DRAFT RATING: A-

Tampa Bay Lightning

2015 NHL Entry Draft – Tampa Bay Lightning

INS: Mitchell Stephens (Pick 33, Saginaw, OHL), Matthew Spencer (Pick 44, Peterborough, OHL), Dennis Yan (Pick 64, Shawinigan, QMJHL), Anthony Cirelli (Pick 72, Oshawa, OHL), Janne Tammela (Pick 118, Kalpa, FIN), Mathieu Joseph (Pick 120, Saint John, QMJHL), Ryan Zuhlsdorf (Pick 150, Sioux City, USHL), Kristiian Oldham (Pick 153, Omaha, USHL), Bokondji Imama (Pick 180, Saint John, QMJHL)

OUTS: NIL

The Stanley Cup finalists have their squad pretty much set, so there was no need to trade for anything. A solid enough draft, without too much hassle.

2015 DRAFT RATING: C

St. Louis Blues

2015 NHL Entry Draft – St. Louis Blues

INS: Vince Dunn (Pick 56, Niagara, OHL), Adam Musil (Pick 94, Red Deer, WHL), Glenn Gawdin (Pick 116, Swift Current, WHL), Niko Mikkola (Pick 127, Kalpa Jr., FIN-JR.), Luke Opilka (Pick 146, USA U18, USHL), Liam Dunda (Pick 176, Owen Sound, OHL)

OUTS: NIL

No first round picks and nothing exciting on the trade front. With Tarasenko and Jake Allen needing contracts in Free Agency, it seems they had other matters on their mind.

2015 DRAFT RATING: C