The 2013 DobberHockey Fantasy Prospects Report… two days away.
Game 7 OT, baby!
Another low scoring but exciting Game 7 last night. Some quick thoughts on the Hawks and Wings:
The penalty call at the end of the third - wow. Not really sure what to say there. Jimmy Howard was sensational once again. Corey Crawford let out a few leaky rebounds but he made the stops when he needed to in regulation.
Brian Bickell is going to get a nice contract this summer. Great combination of skill, speed, size, and grit. Not many UFAs on the market like him (assuming he gets there).
Niklas Kronwall put in another heroic effort – what he has done this season helping to mitigate the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom has been tremendous. He’s played like a true number one defenseman. Getting that opportunity is one thing, but taking advantage of it and earning it is something completely different.
Kronwall was the goat on the OT winner (gave up a huge gap, and the shot tipped off his stick), but he played a tremendous series otherwise.
He won 12 faceoffs and played 20 minutes, but Toews was a no-show offensively last night. Kane was good. Sharp was good. Shaw and Bickell were great. No sign of Toews for much of the game.
Gustav Nyquist is going to take over for Datsyuk and Zetterberg. The kid is an absolute stud – smart, crafty, not a liability defensively, and he always makes the right play with the puck on his stick.
Oh, and we told you about him four years ago:
Henrik Zetterberg has scored at least one goal in all 21 NHL postseason series’ he has been a part of. Not too shabby.
Jonathan Quick is, once again, proving why he is one of the best goalies on the planet. He was sensational in Game 7 on Tuesday night for the Kings (Antti Niemi also had a great game).
Goaltenders suck the scoring out of hockey. It’s their job. But there’s a difference between preventing the puck from entering the net and sucking the fun out of the game. Jonathan Quick didn’t allow a goal in the final two minutes of Game 7, but I defy you to tell me that the saves he was making – confidently, emphatically and athletically – weren’t as thrilling as any Pavel Datsyuk stick-handling move or Sidney Crosby cross-ice pass.Niemi has solidified himself as an elite goalie after his performance in 2013 (regular season + playoffs). He’s always had the talent, but he has never been as consistently spectacular as he was this past season.
San Jose’s big guns were great, too. The Kings are simply a really, really good hockey team, and San Jose’s depth was outscored and outplayed by LA’s.
These guys may not matter much in fantasy leagues, but the Kings are winning because of versatile forwards like Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis, and Dwight King. Being able to play these guys 12-15 minutes a night makes things easier for the top line stars.
And speaking of top line stars – Justin Williams steps up once again in a Game 7. He is now 4-0 in Game 7’s, with at least one goal in each of them (one with LA, one with Philly, two with Carolina).
He gets out there in Game 7’s because of his defensive play, for the most part. Even as a proven scoring winger, arguably his best attribute is his responsible two-way play. Coaches trust him in big games.
Oh, and he’s locked up at $3.6 million per for another two years.
Kyle Clifford had an impactful game – six hits in 10 minutes of ice time. I like his upside in multi-category leagues – he is a pretty skilled guy, and of course he will get a lot of PIM and hits.
The Flyers are hoping to sign 24-year-old Michael Raffi. He projects as a gritty third line winger, and spent last season playing in Sweden’s second best league (just below the SEL).
Raffl, who scored 24 goals with 46 points in 49 games this season in Sweden, is 6-feet, 192 pounds.
“He’s a pretty good body who has to work on his footwork,” Brown said. “But his hands and his head are right there,” adding that Raffl showed he was very competitive on the puck at the World Championships.
A very extensive and comprehensive look at Jhonas Enroth. Can he be the starter for Buffalo?
Can he be a No. 1 starter? That question is still difficult to answer because there simply isn't enough information to say definitively he'd make an above average No. 1. There is no position harder to project than goaltender – and by a mile.
That being said, his statistics and performance in 2013 say he has a good chance at being capable – even very good.
If the Sabres are forced to trade Ryan Miller this summer, Enroth may be very effective as part of a goalie tandem in 2013-14. It would be unwise to throw a goalie who's never played more than 58 games in a pro season into a 60-plus game NHL season. It would also be unwise to put huge statistical expectations on a netminder who will be backstopping a rebuilding club.
Sticking with the Sabres – here is an extended offseason look at the team. I don’t see them going this young or with this many prospects on the roster, even if the are “rebuilding.” Just doesn’t happen nowadays.
Aaron Ness is the 24th best player under the age of 25 in the Islanders organization, according to Lighthouse Hockey. Small offensive defenseman – does he have what it takes to make the NHL? Thomas Hickey plays a similar game, so that may be the roster spot Ness needs.
I like Cole – he could replace Jordan Leopold on the Blues back end for next season. Good skater, makes a good first pass, decent offensive upside.
Blues fans, for the most part, have soured on Cole. For a 1st round pick, his development has been very up and down. But the Blues obviously recognize his talent, and a two-year one-way deal ensures he will get more opportunities to prove himself.
My look at Dallas Eakins, who is one candidate to replace Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
Before serving as the head coach for the Marlies for the past four year, Eakins was a fringe NHLer who had a long playing career in professional hockey. He was the captain of the Manitoba Moose during the 2003-04 season - a roster which also featured a few fresh-faced players named Ryan Kesler (33 games), Kevin Bieksa (four games), and Alexandre Burrows (two games). So right off the bat, there is some familiarity between Eakins and three of Vancouver’s core players.
From Ian Mendes:
“[Bryan] Murray admits that offense is the team's top priority in the off-season. He may pursue via free agency or trade.”
Thomas Vanek, anyone? The Senators could put together quite the enticing package for him, to say the least.
Caps prospect Stanislav Galiev has won a league championship in three straight seasons (QMJHL, QMJHL, and now ECHL).
From a few days ago – a good luck at some of the Lightning’s best young guys:
Tortorella is out in New York. One guy who wasn’t too upset:
Everything happens for a reason...— Marian Gaborik (@MGaborik10) May 29, 2013
My latest fitness post – learning how to front squat properly (and why it is a safer and more effective variation of the squat).
Today’s team to profile: the Ottawa Senators
2013-14 sleeper pick: Mika Zibanejad
Zibanejad isn’t a household name outside of Ottawa or Sweden, but he is primed for a monster breakout season. He’s a terrific two-way forward, and he plays with an edge that reminds me of Henrik Zetterberg. Comparing players to country mates makes for an easy narrative, but the Zetterberg-Zibanejad comp has a lot of merit. He will force Kyle Turris down to line three (giving Ottawa three really balanced two-way units). And you can probably get him late in your one-year draft, as 20 points in 43 games doesn’t jump off the page to most poolies.
If you are in a keeper, he is a must-own.
Long term sleeper pick: Shane Prince/Matt Puempel
Two boom-or-bust prospects. Both Price and Puempel are very gifted offensive wingers, but both need to get bigger, stronger, and more consistent if they want to be NHLers. Price scored 18 goals as a rookie in the AHL in 2012-13 (solid), and Puempel had 35 goals in 53 OHL games (although only 12 helpers).
Ottawa has a very good and very deep prospect pool, and both of these guys are worth watching if you are in a keeper and need some future goal scorers.
As I reported last week, goaltender Jeff Frazee, a potential UFA, has received an offer to play in Sweden next season, but his agent said his intention is to re-sign with the Devils. Lamoriello said today “we have every intention of bringing Jeff back.”
That would mean that Frazee, Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont would all remain in the organization. Lamoriello said he is comfortable with that. Only two of them would be able to play in Albany.
Can you say… logjam?
San Jose’s 2012 1st round pick, Tomas Hertl, has signed a rookie contract. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him replace Marty Havlat in the top nine next season.