Thanks to Grantland hockey writer Katie Baker, I got a shoutout today. Very excited about this. Here is the link - read the rest of her post here.
"Here's a really great piece by Jeff Angus on how the Dallas Stars franchise is primed for a turnaround under its new owner, Tom Gaglardi. One of his biggest jobs this summer? Re-signing the wonderful Jamie Benn, who will be a restricted free agent come July 1."
For the Canucks Army, I took a look at three trade targets for Vancouver this offseason - Nikolai Kulemin, Kyle Beach, and Zac Dalpe.
Brandon Dubinsky made his return to the lineup last night - one assist and three hits in 15 minutes of ice time. He replaced John Mitchell.
New Jersey got out to a 3-0 lead, aka the worst lead in hockey, before letting the Rangers get back in the game.
Mark Fayne, who I write about more below, had two helpers. He and Andy Greene have been solid for the Devils on the back end.
Bryce "Bobby Orr" Salvador had another point.
Salvador now has 11 points in 16 playoff games. He had nine points all season, and his career high at the NHL level is 16. Pretty impressive stuff.
Bryan Boyle won 13 of 14 faceoffs he took.
Great quote from Ryan Carter, the GWG scorer. Someone took his jersey and said that it was going to sell for $5k on EBay. Carter shot back, "My mom's bidding?"
The Marlies are now a win away from a birth in the Calder Cup Final against Norfolk. They beat OKC 3-0 last night. Ben Scrivens continues his stellar play.
Scrivens stopped 30 of 30 for a shutout, and now has a .942 save percentage in the AHL playoffs.
That sound you hear, James Reimer, is breathing down your neck. Get ready for a battle at camp (assumingg the Leafs don't trade for or sign a veteran goaltender).
Matt Frattin had three shots on goal and an assist - I am expecting big things from him next season.
Jerry D'Amigo, a candidate to stick with the Leafs, scored another goal.
Caught some of the Sea Dogs/Cataractes game.
Jonathan Huberdeau was impressive - the Cataractes were taking runs at him all game long, and he didn't wilt under the consistent physical play. He's going to be a very, very good player for the Panthers for a long time.
Sea Dogs forward and Blues draft pick Ryan Tesinik played a great game - he's the resident pest on the team, and he went up against Kirill Kabanov all game long.
Full marks to the Sea Dogs - by far their best game. They showed why they were the class of the CHL all season long.
Kovalchuk had two helpers, but finished with zero shots on goal. Before tonight, Kovalchuk had been held shotless only once in the postseason (game one against the Flyers).
Thanks for the support from the Dobber community for my new blog - wrote a piece on Justin Schultz and his potential options as he nears free agency. Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, and a few other teams were discussed. Was a popular read and most of that came from you guys. Thanks again.
My personal guess – Edmonton or New York.
The Canucks have re-signed Alain Vigneault to a two-year extension (he had only one year left on his current deal). I like the move, some don't. You have any coach for six/seven years and you are bound to have some doubters. I like what he has done, by and large.
I am off to the States for their long weekend, and Ryan and Chris will be covering my ramblings for Friday and Saturday. Thanks gents!
I will be at the Sasquatch Music Festival near the Washington-Oregon border. Will be rocking my sleeveless Dobber tee in 26 degree weather (or 85 for our American followers).
Nathan Horton is on track for a healthy start to next season, according to his agent Paul Krepelka.
"In other words, no matter how much time he spends with the "top-six" forwards on the team, he's really blossomed into an important checking line-type player. He was being used as such (along with Jamie Benn) as this last season raced to a close because the Stars were killed by matchup problems if they tried anything different."
Mikael Granlund has signed with the Wild. He is a lock to make the team and should center the team's second line. Granlund is the top fantasy prospect in the world right now (in my humble opinion).
They have some young guys ready to play, especially Gustav Nyqvist. Holmstrom could be a guy who is scratched every so often and put in certain games.
On the back end, even if Lidstrom returns, the Wings are likely losing Brad Stuart. Brendan Smith is ready for prime time minutes, and Jakub Kindl is good enough to skate a regular shift in the NHL too.
Pretty amazing how dominant the Norfolk Admirals have been this season in the AHL. They swept the IceCaps (mmm) a few days ago, on the back of a Dustin Tokarski 29 save shutout. Tokarski and Jarloslav Janus have been splitting the goaltending duties for the Ads.
"The future is bright for Faulk and the Hurricanes blue-line. This season was a huge step forward for Faulk as most people thought that he wasn’t even going to be in the NHL this year and he ended up playing in 66 games while logging big minutes. Faulk exceeded in many areas but the underlying numbers show that Faulk’s defensive game is still a work in progress, but he is still only 20 years old and has plenty of time to improve there. He is going to be a key piece of the Hurricanes rebuild and it was good to see him such an early start going forward. It’s tough to say what Faulk’s ceiling will be as an NHL-er but after his impressive rookie season, I am sure that it is higher than what most people had previously thought."
How good was Oliver Ekman-Larsson this past season? Thanks to advanced stats, we know the answer: very.
"Since the first puck was dropped in an NHL rink only 33 defensemen 20 or younger have scored 13+ goals. Phil Housely,
Scott Stevens, Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Larry Murphy all did it twice. Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, Dion Phaneuf, Glen Wesley, Denis Potvin, Drew Doughty, Craig Hartsburg, and Erik Karlsson also accomplished the feat. Since the lockout only Doughty, Karlsson, Phaneuf, and Ekman-Larsson have been able to pull it off.
What makes Ekman-Larsson's season so special is that he was able to produce positive results without playing defensively sheltered minutes like so many young defenseman."
Claude Giroux, with casts on both wrists, still playing beer pong. Doesn't get much more Canadian, does it?
I was going to write a profile on Mark Fayne, the little-known top pairing blueliner for the Devils. Dan Rice from the Hockey Writers beat me to the punch.
"Fayne’s contribution may not always show up on the scoresheet but his value (and all of the defensemen for that matter) to the team’s success is definitely appreciated and noticed inside the locker room. “I can’t say enough about the defensemen playing in front of me this playoff series and all year,” said Brodeur after winning his 109th postseason game. “They’ve been battling really hard and Greeney and Fayner are a great example. They’re getting some important ice-time and they’re getting the job done. It’s a big value to our team; people maybe don’t recognize them as much as other defensemen in the league, but we’re really comfortable having them in front of me and the net.”
Fayne won't be a fantasy relevant defenseman, but with ice time the offensive game could develop a bit more. Even the most defensive of defensemen can be 25-30 point guys provided ice time and some PP time, too. Look at Willie Mitchell in Los Angeles.
I have landed a new writing gig with Overtime, a spinoff of the Hockey Writers site. More long-form writing, and a focus on macro hockey issues. The site has the clean and minimal look of Grantland, if you are familiar with that site. I posted my Tom Gaglardi/Dallas piece on there.
The Panthers have the best prospect group in hockey. Nick Bjugstad is one of their best. Does he stay in college or go pro? Daily Gopher takes a look:
"Losing goalie Kent Patterson obviously hurts, as he was not only otherworldly in his two seasons in which he started every game, but their goaltending without him is entirely unproven and could go to a freshman (hello Adam Wilcox!). However, when you not only return your ENTIRE defense, but also add a couple of really good recruits that could jump into your top 4 right away, well, it softens the blow. And while the leadership of departing captain Taylor Mattson and wingers Jake Hansen and Nick Larson will be missed, if Bjugstad returns that means so does six of their top seven scoring forwards from last year. Basically their top two lines would return pretty much intact."
I think Toronto showed last season the difference a goaltender can make. They had confidence in Reimer before he went down with the concussion, and it reflected in their play. They were scoring goals, taking chances, and Reimer was bailing them out. With Gustavsson in net, and when Reimer returned, it wasn’t the same. The team played tight, and both the offense and defense suffered.
I think Toronto would be foolish to head into next season with a Reimer/Scrivens tandem. Perhaps bring a veteran in (if they want to go big for Luongo, or small after Josh Harding, there are options), and then let the young guys battle it out for back up.
Ryan Carter with the GWG - great pass from Gionta Jr: