Posts Tagged ‘NHL’

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If you are Canadian, I do not think anything in the sporting world tops the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. My friends and I do not say Merry Christmas to each other in December; we say it when the first puck is dropped in the round of 16. This first round had it all: a laughable sweep, line brawls, fat walrus accusations, Alex Ovechkin immediately flying overseas to play for Russia after another early exit (again), and of course, game sevens.

For most of us, our hockey teams run for Lord Stanley is over and we must accept, move on and pray that next year will be the year. There is another thing that you should be focusing on for the start of the 2013-14 season, and that is the future of your fantasy hockey teams. Chances are that you will not remember the second half Mats Zuccarello performances, but for your future fantasy purposes, you should. If you have been a fantasy GM for a while now, you know that it is the late round picks that will win you championships and even more importantly, ultimate chirping rights.

Eight teams were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, let’s take a look at what players could serve as a potential fantasy break out for the 2013-14 NHL season.

Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals: Johansson saw his productivity increase this year in the shortened season, posting 22 points in 34 games and +3 rating. He was essentially invisible for the first two months of the season, but let’s be serious, so were the Washington Capitals. Take a look at his March and April; the kid recorded 21 points in 25 games. He is only 22 years old and will now head into the prime years of his career.  He should be considered as a late round add to your roster for next year.

Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild:  Before the season began, I highly doubt anyone could name the starting six defensemen for the Wild. I do not even think Mike Yeo could. There was nothing sexy about Brodins stat line this year (11 points in 45 GP), but there are fantasy implications that need to be considered going forward for the 10th overall pick in the 2011 entry draft. For starters, he is only nineteen. Secondly, look at the box scores in the first round. If we forget about Ryan Suter for a moment, Brodin led the way in ice time and on the man advantage showing how much trust the Wild have in the youngster. If an NHL organization can trust the kid with that much workload, so should you.

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues: I make this pick because everyone has already heard of Vladimir Tarasenko and know that he is going to be a force. Schwartz posted 13 points in 45 GP this year, but really found his stride in the second half (10 pts in 29 GP). I am not expecting Schwartz to break out to begin the season next year, but once the annual injuries of Andy McDonald and Alex Steen occur, Schwartz could spring into a top six role and shine. Go check out Hockey’s Future, he’s got game.

Kyle Palmieri, Anaheim Ducks: He did not really play in January and had a lackluster March, but his February and April have me intrigued. When you are playing under Bruce Boudreau’s system, you are going to have chances to put up points in bundles. His fantasy status for next year will depend on whether or not he can crack the top six. If he can, draft him late in deep leagues and enjoy the return.

Raphael Diaz, Montreal Canadiens: Chances are you picked Diaz to start the season as he and Andrei Markov tore it up on the man advantage. I laughed when I saw him 100% owned in ESPN leagues, but hey, production is production. If he did not suffer a concussion, then I do not think we would be having this discussion. Diaz will head the 2nd unit for the Canadiens going forward, who seemed to re-kindle their power play success after last season. Diaz’s upside here will depend on whether or not Markov can stay healthy, which is always in question. Diaz should be a fifth or sixth d-man on your team next year with upside to be a potential top four.

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders: If we learned anything from the Penguins and Islanders series,  it is that the Isles might actually be for real for the first time since… Alexei Yashin? Was he relevant? Who knows. They will not be worth noting for long, as they have too many vital pieces that are just too old (Streit, Visnovsky, Nabokov). Bailey has always had the talent but has been known to have attitude issues. He is now 23 and headed into the prime of his career. The isles looked good this season, I expect that to continue for a season or two with Bailey providing the secondary scoring they so desperately need.

Zack Kassian, Vancouver Canucks: Kassian was a nice surprise to start the season, racking up five goals in seven games in January. As for the rest of the season, well, you would probably rather have Scott Gomez over him. The 13th overall pick in the 2009 entry draft has everything that the Canucks need: size, grit, skill and scoring potential. The Sedins need a player like Kassian to protect them, as we all know Jannik Hansen does not fit that profile. With Alex Burrows seemingly on the second line for good, a lackluster pool of prospects, and the need to get stronger, I see Kassian getting every possible chance to break out, which I believe he will. Draft him late and laugh at those who didn’t.

Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs: I should not have to tell this to any Maple Leafs fan, but for the rest of you I will be blunt: this guy is legit. He is patient, smart with the puck, breaks into the offensive zone with ease and finally won over Randy Carlyle. Wherever he is projected to go next year in the fantasy rankings will more than likely be low, and thus a gift for those who wait on him to take him late. For keeper leagues especially, get him.

That is it for now, enjoy the second round and always be alert for possible fantasy surprises, it is what makes all the difference.

By: Alex Rodgers – Hockey Writer

Photo Credit: http://www.NHL.com

The P.K. Problem

Posted: January 27, 2013 by ajaysharma18 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

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To pay or not to pay?  That is the question concerning the Montreal Canadiens and their star defenseman P.K. Subban.  The  Canadiens are winning games, yet all the buzz is still around if and when a deal will be reached with the stubborn defenceman.  We here at The Sports Posse have had numerous discussions within our group as to what will ultimately stem from this root problem in Montreal.  Here’s something from our minds to yours.

Is P.K. Subban an all-star? Yes.  Is P.K. Subban an upgrade to the Montreal Defense? Yes.  Does P.K. Subban deserve the money he thinks he is worth?  We don’t think so.  That is where our debate kicks off.

Subban has shown some brilliance during his tenure in Quebec.  He lays the smack down on his hits, and has one of the hardest shots from the point in the league.  The Sports Posse are avid fans of players who play with a lot of passion.  Subban is arguably one of the most passionate players when he steps on the ice.  There are however many flaws to his game.  He often jumps into an offensive rush, leaving his defense partner out to dry.  He goes for a lot of big hits, which might make the TSN honor roll, but at the same time risking a missed a hit and being caught out of position.  P.K. is at a point in his career where many other players would be signing bridge contracts.  He deserves a raise,  but not to the extent he is hopeful for.  If you look at the most recent defensive Restricted Free Agent (RFA) signing, it is Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers.  Del Zotto was drafted one year after Subban, and is a first rounder.  Del Zotto was offered a 2 year deal worth 2.5M per.  I think this was an absolute steal for New York.  Del Zotto is an intricate part of New York’s power play and he logs major minutes.  The reason I bring Del Zotto up is that the contract he signed is a bridge contract.  At the end of his two years he will be signed for much more than 2.5 per season.  Subban is demanding in excess of 5.5 per year.  It reminds me a lot of the Drew Doughty situation of last year.  Doughty held out until he got the pay cheque that he wanted.  Subban seems to be following the same path.  Since P.K. is an RFA, it is tough to see him moving to another a team, but lets not sell that idea short.

Montreal’s management faces a tough situation.  Do they give into Subban’s demands, or do they shop him?  I don’t see any team in the league putting in an offer sheet for him.  I think everyone learned a lesson from Philadelphia’s offer sheet for Shea Weber last year.  The only option is to resign or trade.  There are many teams out there looking for upgrading their defense.  A team that jumps out is the Edmonton Oilers.  The Oilers have an abundance of youth, but they still lack a strong defensive corps.  They could trade a prospect plus a roster player and maybe even a pick to get Subban.  I came across an interesting article that proposed the idea of Los Angeles being interested.  Now that’s crazy talk.  But it just might work.  The Kings have the luxury of trading a first round pick.  They also have Jacob Muzzin.  Crazier things have happened in the past.  There are plenty of teams that might call for Subban’s services, but I don’t believe Montreal is ready to let Subban go.

The following statement will generate some discussion…Subban is not Montreal’s franchise player.  I know many will disagree, but I feel that tag belongs to Carey Price.  Alex Galchenyuk will be their number one centre for years to come.  If P.K. Subban wants, he can negotiate fairly and continue building a contender in Montreal. The Montreal hockey market is a pressure cooker.  The fans will turn on a player one night, and the next night they will be chanting his name.  Does anyone remember the Patrick Roy incident?  This writer believes that ultimately Subban will resign for a wage of 4.25m-5m per year. Even 5 seems a bit much.  The key here is that Andrei Markov is healthy and playing phenomenal.  As long as Montreal is winning, Subban will take a back seat.  Don’t be surprised if the stalemate continues and at the end of the negotiations Subban is wearing a different jersey.  I just hope to see him on the ice as soon as possible, as many other fans do as well.  He is a dynamic young player and the game is more exciting when he is on the ice.

By: Ajay Sharma – Hockey Writer

NHL-Central-Division

The Central Division joins the Pacific as one of the tougher divisions in Hockey.  The Central was once dominated by the Detroit Red Wings which saw the Wings capture many division titles.  Over the past few seasons, the other teams have started making a case for themselves.  Chicago has won a Stanley Cup recently.  Nashville has solidified itself as a playoff bound team year after year.  More recently, the St. Louis Blues have exploded onto the scene, falling just shy of the Presidents Trophy and top seed in the West a year ago.  If the first couple of games of the season are any indication, there will be a serious dogfight to see who comes out on top.  Lets see if we can establish a winner.

Detroit Red Wings

The main question surrounding this team is how do they react to the loss of their legend.  Nicklas Lidstrom is a staple of this franchise and it will be the first time since 1991 that the Wings will be without his services.  To put that into perspective, I was only 2 years old at the time Lidstrom made his debut.  Lidstrom will still be a presence for this team, however he will be watching from the press box instead of leading on the ice.  That job will fall in the hands of the veterans, Pavel “the magician” Datsyuk,  Defensive horse Niklas Kronwall, and newly appointed Captain Henrik Zetterberg.  It will be interesting to see whether newcomer Damien Brunner can repeat the success he had playing over in Europe with Zetterberg during the lockout.  Brunner will be counted on to offer secondary scoring.  Pavel Datsyuk will continue to be Pavel Datsyuk.  The experience on this team trumps that of any other team in their division.  Detroit will have another solid campaign.

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago is one of the most offensively gifted teams in the league.  They have in my opinion the top 2 offensive lines in hockey.  The biggest question mark for this team lies between the pipes.  Corey Crawford and Ray Emery compose a sub par goaltending tandem compared to other teams in the division.  The Blackhawks fate will ultimately rest on goaltending.  On the defensive side of things, the Hawks are better than some give them credit for.  They have a good mix of offensive puck movers as well as stay at home defenseman.  The health of Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews will be intricate to the success of the team, as both are coming off concussions this past season.  Youngsters Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw will most likely play the entire season in the majors, as they played excellent when called up last year.  The bottom line is that the Hawks have way too much talent to be struggling for a playoff spot, which has been apparent since their Stanley Cup triumph just a few seasons ago.  Look for Patrick Kane to have a bounce back year and the Hawks to reach the post season once again.

Nashville Predators

Barry Trotz has done an excellent job developing players and bringing the best out of them.  Nashville has a Vezina candidate goalie, a Norris candidate defenseman, and an abundance of playoff experience.  Of course the biggest question mark is how does the team cope with the loss of Ryan Suter.  Suter played top line minutes with Shea Weber, widely considered one of the best pairings in all of Hockey.  Youngster Ryan Ellis will be called upon to replace Suter, a roll I think he is fully capable of.  Ellis is a smooth skating, offensive defenseman, a perfect fit along with Shea Weber’s brute force and booming shot from the point on the powerplay.  Upfront, Nashville has four deep lines.  You wont see a point per game player on this team, but you will see a balanced attack.  Nashville plays a hard nose, grinding out style of Hockey.  “Garbage goals” are what this team thrives on.  Pekka Rinne, although shaky in Europe, is an elite goaltender.  Look for this team to still feel the effects of the Suter loss, as they move down the rankings in this division.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The start of the season brings a new era in Columbus.  The team traded away former franchise player Rick Nash to the Rangers in the off-season.  Unfortunately, Rick Nash was never surrounded with enough talent in Ohio to make a difference for this team.  The addition of Jeff Carter did absolutely nothing last season, as he got injured and was later traded to Los Angeles. If the jackets did not trade for Carter, they would still have Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier, you welcome Philly.  Newcomers Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Nick Foligno will be counted on for sustained offense.  Youngsters Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson will get opportunities to show their skill on this depleted roster.  Defensively, Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski will log major minutes as the Jackets defense is fairly young and inexperienced.  Goaltending, like Chicago, is also an issue.  Steve Mason just a few years ago appeared to be on the road to greatness. Oh how things change.  Mason has become a shell of his former self, forcing the front office to acquire Sergei Brobovsky in the off-season.  I feel sorry for the fans of Columbus.  They can’t hold on to their one star, and ultimately have a team far less superior to the competition.  Another season in the basement for the Jackets.

St. Louis Blues

There are too many good things to write about when it comes to St. Louis.  They are simply put a complete team.  From coaching staff through to the dressing room, this team is loaded with talent and incredible potential.  Ken Hitchcock is the perfect coach for this team (just look what he did last year).  Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot showed what they were made of as they were far and away the best goaltending tandem in the league last season.  I don’t see that changing.  Defensively, St. Louis has my pick for the Norris trophy this year.  Ontario native Alex Pietrangelo had a breakout season last year, and will continue to improve this season.  Kevin Shattenkirk is often overlooked, but is an essential part of Pietrangelo’s success.  With the recent acquiring of veteran Wade Redden, it will give the Blues some much valued experience on the back-end.  Upfront this team is scary good.  They are big, fast, strong, and skilled.  The blues have more depth than any other team in the division.  Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko is a Calder candidate, and he is off to a quick start with two goals in the season opening massacre of the Detroit Red Wings.  David Perron will look to bounce back after missing the majority of last season due to injury.  If the opening night game between St. Louis-Detroit is any indication of what is to come, the Blues will be the team to beat.  Too much talent all the way through.  They are my pick to win the division.

Predictions: 1. St. Louis Blues 2. Chicago Blackhawks 3. Detroit Red Wings 4. Nashville Predators 5. Columbus Blue Jackets

By: Ajay Sharma – Hockey Writer

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For the past few seasons, the Pacific Division has been touted one of the toughest divisions in hockey, alongside the Atlantic. The Pacific consistently has 3-4 teams representing them during the playoffs, and has bought two Stanley Cups home to California since 2007.  There are no clear-cut favorites in this division. The Los Angeles Kings may have won the Stanley Cup last year, but they struggled to find a playoff spot until Darryl Sutter provided the wake up call. With more inter-division games due to the shortened season, only a few points will separate these 5 teams.  Lets examine each team more closely to see if we can predict a winner in this “toss-up” of a division.

Phoenix Coyotes

This team gets more publicity for its lack of ownership than it’s on-ice product.  It should be the other way around.  The Coyotes have consistently made their way into the playoff’s over the past few seasons. Stellar goal tending and strict team defence has made this team very difficult to play against.  After the success of last season, I believe the Coyotes will slip down slightly in their division.  Losing Ray Whitney to Dallas will definitely hurt the team, even with the addition of Steve Sullivan.  Mike Smith will have to recreate his magical season from a year ago, which will be tough in a 48 game schedule.  Look for defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to build on his stellar campaign a year ago, along with forward Mikkel Boedker.  Keith Yandle will continue to log major ice time and will be called upon allot more during the shortened season.  The addition of Zbynek Michalek from Pittsburgh should also help bolster an already impressive defensive core.  Lets see how the team can cope with all the off ice distractions. They were not a problem last year

Dallas Stars

Dallas was one of the more active franchise’s this past year.  They added one of the greatest players of all time in Jaromir Jagr, veteran Ray Whitney, and play-maker Derek Roy.  Kari Lehtonen enjoyed a breakout year in goal for the Stars last season, and was a major reason for their early season success.  This team has an abundance of talent upfront. Along with the new additions, they also have Brendan Morrow, Michael Ryder, Loui Eriksson, and RFA Jamie Benn.  This teams achilles heal is their defence.  They will need immense help from their forwards if they are to make their way back to the playoffs. For a team that has not made the post season in 4 years, they will have to work extra hard in this division if they are to compete.  The re-signing of Jamie Benn is crucial to this team.  They have a stellar goalie, and many options upfront, but ultimately their defence will have to show up.

San Jose Sharks

Has time run out for this aging team?  The Sharks are consistently one of the top teams in the Western Conference.  The talent is there, and has been for many years.  The Sharks need Martin Havlat to be healthy.  A healthy Havlat will add just one more offensive weapon to an already stockpiled repertoire.  Look for Logan Couture to continue his rise as a premier scorer in the NHL.  The Addition of Brad Stuart to the back-end should fill some gaps that were very evident last year. Goaltender Antti Niemi has yet to play at the level that saw him help the Blackhawks win the cup in 2009, so he will need elevate his game for the Sharks to have a good season.  Joe Pavelski will have to go above and beyond to take the pressure off Jumbo Joe and the top line.  This teams downfall could potentially be their age in this shortened 48 game season.  Experience and talent should carry them through the year however.  Another stellar regular season for the Sharks

Anaheim Ducks

The worst team in the Pacific last year.  Depth is a major concern with this team.  Outside of a few players, the team lacks secondary scoring.  It will be interesting to see whether youngsters Peter Holland, Kyle Palmieri, and Devante Smith-Pelly get called up from Norfolk where they have enjoyed much success.  I think Bruce Boudreau should utilize these young players to help out the top guns of the Ducks.  The hiring of Scott Niedermayer as Assistant Coach should do wonders on the back-end.  Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa should benefit greatly from Nidermayer’s expertise at the defensive position.  Team defence was a serious issue for the Ducks last year, but look for it to improve this year.  Jonas Hiller will have to get back to his pre-vertigo ways if this team has any shot of competing.  Hiller is an all-star goalie when he is on his game.  It will be interesting to see how the season goes for the ducks, especially with the pending unrestricted free agency of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Los Angeles Kings

From 8th in the conference to Stanley Cup triumph.  The Kings had one of the most roller coasters seasons last year.  At the end however, they finished on top.  They are the best team in the division.  They have it all.  From front to back, this team is built for sustained success.  Will a Stanley Cup hangover damage this team? I don’t think so.  Darryl Sutter will have his men motivated and ready to go come the start of the season.  Jonathan Quick solidified himself last year as one of the top goalies in the league.  Drew Doughty highlights a very good back-end for the Kings.  There is so much talent upfront I don’t even know where to begin.  With the return of Simon Gagne, it just adds one more threat. Anze Kopitar, my personal favorite, has a knee injury that will most likely prevent him from entering the lineup for at least the first few games, but the Kings have the luxury of slotting Mike Richards into that first line centre roll if need be.  Jonathan Quick had back surgery in the off-season so it will take some time for him to get back to game shape.  Even if Quick is given a lighter workload, they have a more than capable backup in Jonathan Bernier.  Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have settled into life in California and will be counted on to provide the team with the elite scoring that we all know they are capable of.  Look for them to answer the call.  It took until the start of the playoffs this past season for the kings to put it all together, but now they have.  Los Angeles takes the crown.

Predictions: 1. Los Angeles Kings 2. San Jose Sharks 3. Dallas Stars 4. Phoenix Coyotes 5. Anaheim Ducks

By: Ajay Sharma – Hockey Writer