Spinorama Hockey

Will the Jets be singing the Blues? Are the AVS for real?

Hellebuyck will need to be the difference in this series

This NHL playoffs are so unpredictable. Every year their is an upset in the first round. Not to mention its rare feat for many to pick the eventual Stanley Cup Champion. See Washington last year. We love making predictions so here we go again…

First Round:

WINNIPEG VS ST LOUIS

Will the Winnipeg Jets be singing the Blues? As many are picking the Blues to keep on trucking through their opponents with their spectacular 2019 (they have the second most wins in the league since January). Can Winnipeg overcome their locker room issues and stop the Blues machine as they did in the season series in which they won 3 out of the 4 games? We realize the last game was played in December. We just think that the Jets are too deep, have some playoff experience and clearly the better goaltender. Not to mention big Buff and Josh Morrissey healthy (if that’s indeed the case) will make all the difference in this series. Can St Louis continue their winning ways? Even though they are only 2 wins better than the Jets after that incredible 11 game winning streak that ended in February that turned their season around. I know they finished the season strong but just a few short months ago rumours were going on that a fire sale was about to happen. Can Craig Berube out coach Paul Maurice? Can Jordan Binnington outduel Connor Hellebuyck? Will Vlad Tarasenko disappear in the payoffs like playoff’s of past? Will the Winnipeg Jets top line actually outplay another line this year? Stay tuned. Besides the eventual Stanley Cup champion nearly always has to overcome huge obstacles or some sort of near death experience before they go on to win the Stanley Cup. Playing this team in the first round is may be what the doctor ordered. Jets in 7

NASHVILLE VS DALLAS

Let’s start off by saying the good news is the Preds never won the President’s trophy. The bad news, their offence seems to have disappeared. Can anyone tell me what league Kyle Turris is playing in? The Preds are 19th in the league in goals for but 3rd in goals against. Their top offensive players of Ryan Johansson and Filip Forsberg have been underwhelming at best. To top this off the playoffs are coming for Pekka Rinne which is never a good thing. Who knows maybe that backing into first place by the Jets collapse will give them confidence. On the other hand, the Dallas Stars and their stifling defence and their brick wall named Ben Bishop are 2nd in the league in goals against. Can this mark the end of Pekka Rinne in Smashville? Back to the Stars. Is there a better collection of big game, emotionally gifted offensive players that we find in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov and the not much talked about Matt Zucarello? It’s about time that Dallas finally wins a playoff series. They must be due finally! Stars in 6

CALGARY VS COLORADO

So Colorado didn’t get that first overall draft pick in the NHL draft lottery. Pierre Dorion is rejoicing. Instead they get the first place Calgary Flames and their mediocre goaltending. The Avs going down the stretch have been one of the hottest teams in the league. We like Calgary’s depth at forward and especially on defence. It really seems like they are full of playoff type players starting with Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano and some guy named “Johny Hockey”. Goaltending is another question entirely. As much as we like what the Flames have done this year. We really like the pace that this energetic, young crop of players bring to the Rockies. In Nate & Mikko we trust… Colorado in 7

LOS VEGAS VS SAN JOSE

Probably the toughest series to pick. Vegas seems like the obvious choice. The Sharks are slumping. Martin Jones has been average at best. The Knights added many new veteran players to a team that had already went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018. They have an endless list of big game players in Marchessault, Karlsson, Smith, Stastny, Stone and Tuch. But no bigger than the game’s biggest “big game” goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury. The Sharks are deep, well coached, driven by a good crop of veterans that have been there before. Many players including Pavelski, Couture, Burns and maybe the biggest game changer in Erik Karlsson is quietly in the background. When a series is truly a coin toss, I usually go with the goalie I like more and Marc Andre Fleury would be the certain choice. Strange hunch but for some reason I think the Knights will not survive in Shark infested waters. Or maybe I was remembering how dominant the Sharks had been before the last 10-15 games of the season when they really were not playing for anything. San Jose in 7

TAMPA BAY VS COLOMBUS

How can anyone upset the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning? Clearly the leagues best team and the winner of the dreaded President’s Trophy. No team is deeper and they are facing a team that was basically put together at the NHL trade deadline. The Jackets do have star power, Panarin, Duchene, Jones, Bobrovsky and who can forget John Tortorella (Tampa’s ex-coach). It would be a shocker if the Jackets won this series but we don’t see it as lopsided as much as the league standings would show. The way Colombus lost last year, up 2 games and in OT with the eventual Stanley Cup champion could provide motivation. We just think this team that seemingly has no weaknesses will be too much for the Jackets. Lightning in 6

BOSTON VS TORONTO

Just on principle I can not pick the Maple Leafs to win this series. But let me tell you something, when everyone in the NHL world is picking the Bruins this is when the upset happens. The Leafs can score with the best of them and for this writer this is the route to win this series. Deep at center they will need to overpower and open up this series and try to surprise the stingy veteran Bruins squad. Freddie Andersen will need to stand on his head or at least carries this team on his shoulders. As much as we are tempted to take the Leafs we will stick with Bergeron, Marchand, Chara and Rask to do them in again. But for some reason I am picking with my head and not my queasy stomach. Bruins in 7

WASHINGTON VS CAROLINA

It’s about time that someone takes these bunch of jerks and put them out of their misery as Don Cherry will be sure to say. This magical season has to come to an end and no one better to put an end to it than the brash and off season boozers found in the nations capital. I really like what Rod Brind’amour has done with this Nascar loving state but really, how much more can the frozen pond traditionalist take. Post game celebrations? Hockey is not fun people. It especially won’t be fun agains the hi tempo bruising defending Stanley Cup champions. This is all I need is to see Ovi jumping up and down putting away one timers against the “great to be here” Hurricanes. Caps in 5

PITTSBURGH VS NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Is anyone picking the Islanders in their hockey drafts?  I guess anything is possible but you got to love what the Islanders have done this year with sweet Lou and Trotz at the helm. But I have a few names that will never let this happen. Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and a playoff Matt Murray. Enough said.Penguins in 5 

Second Round Winners:

Winnipeg over Dallas in 7, San Jose over Colorado in 6, Pittsburgh over Washington in 7, Tampa Bay over Boston in 5

Third Round Winners:

Winnipeg over San Jose in 7, Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh in 6

Stanley Cup Champion: Winnipeg over Tampa Bay in 6

by Frank Zappia @frankzappia1 @Spinohockey

The following are Picks by @Mass_Insight

TB over CLB 5, WSH over CAR in 6, PIT over NYI in 7, BOS over TOR in 6

NSH over DAL in 7, COL over CGY in 7, WPG over STL in 6, SJS over VGK in 6

Round 2: TB over BOS in 6, PIT over WSH in 6, COL over SJS in 6, NSH over WPG in 7

Round 3: COL over NSH in 7, TB over PIT in 6

Stanley Cup Champion: TB over COL in 6

Your comments are welcome @spinohockey, @frankzappia1 and @Mass_Insight

IS THE STANLEY CUP IN THE WINNIPEG JETS DNA?

The science of cloning sheep is controversial at best.  Sheep you ask?  Deep in thought I was wondering how would you go about cloning an NHL Stanley Cup champion? The acknowledged method is to copy the last couple of cup champions.  Like most professional sports league it is a copycat league.  The Blackhawks and Penguins laid out the foundation of a smaller faster-type team would be the method on how to win the holy grail and they did.  The LA Kings of the past were big, tough and grinding and this method also won.  The Washington Capitals of last year were a combination of both and in 2018 they were drinking out of Lord Stanley’s cup (a little too much this past summer in our view).

Nonetheless we can try to analyze the Hockey News’ 2019 pick to win the Stanley Cup. Along with DNA, a little luck will go a long way…

Here is a list of the signs of a Stanley Cup Champion and how the Winnipeg Jets meet that DNA criteria without any controversial cloning:

President’s Trophy – first off play the odds and don’t win the President’s Trophy:

  • This won’t be a problem.  Check.

Get on a Roll just before the playoffs.

With the exception of 2015 Blackhawks, all the others champions came into the playoffs winning.  The Jets are on a currently 5-2-0 in their last 7 games:

  • 2018 Caps 9-3-0
  • 2017 Penguins 6-4-2
  • 2016 Penguins 10-2-0 
  • 2015 Hawks 5-7-0 
  • 2014 Kings 7-3-2 
  • 2013 Hawks 9-2-1 
  • 2012 Kings 7-5-0 
  • 2011 Bruins 7-4-1 
  • 2010 Hawks 7-3-2 
  • 2009 Penguins 9-3-0

Goaltending has to be really good in the playoffs:

  • Prior to the Dallas Stars game where he was left to fend for himself, Connor Hellebuyck won his last 4 starts, allowing a total of 4 goals, recording 2 shutouts with an average save % of .972.  This would be Marc-Andre Fleury playoff-like numbers. 

When the experts don’t pick you to win this is when you finally win:

  • The last thing you want to be in the NHL playoffs is the favourite.  You can pretty much count on, if most reporters pick you to win, it isn’t happening.  You can call the NHL a lot of things but predictable isn’t one of them. The Jets being pre-season favourites are currently far from it.  Maybe this is a good thing.

You usually face some adversity in the playoffs:

  • Like the Caps last year, we wrote a column on why the Vegas Golden Nights prior to the final would not beat the Caps.  Why you say?  Because the Blue Jackets should have knocked out the Caps in the first round.  The Blue Jackets were up 2-0 and tied in overtime in game 3 only for the Caps to come back and not only win the series but eventually the Stanley Cup.  Vegas pretty much had an easy time the whole way.  This is a strange one but it seems to happen every year.  No team can coast to a Stanley Cup.  Look at the old dominate Oilers teams that always seemed to be down 3-1 to some team (Jets one year) only to come back and take the cup.

Somebody in the bottom 6 come up big and it’s totally unexpected:

  • In 2018 the Washington Capitals had Lars Eller and Devante Smith-Pelly tied for 4thon the team with 7 goals in the playoffs.  DSP had 7 goals all season.  Eller & Pelly came up with some bigtime key goals when the team needed it most.
  • In 2017 Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel lead the team in playoff goals with 13.
  • In 2016 Phil Kessel dominated for the Penguins (but he isn’t considered bottom 6), but Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin had 18 & 16 points in 24 games.
  • Do I even mention Dustin Byfuglien’s 11 goals in the 2010 playoffs for the eventual champion Blackhawks?  You get the point.

Coaching:

  • Coaching decisions are key in the playoffs.  We have written before no one has the pulse of this team better than coach Maurice but he will need to pull the trigger and not second guess before it’s too late.  In last year’s series against Vegas, we know he ran into a red hot goalie but he needed to make adjustments to try to change the outcome that looked inevitable early on. He waited until game 5 to insert a few players but we think he needed to do something earlier to change the course of that series.  

Need to lose before you win:

  • They did lose last year in the conference final to the above mentioned Vegas Golden Knights.  This seems to happen to every eventual champion.  The only question is, have they done enough losing?  See the Washington Capitals of last year.  After years of being the favourite and losing, their time finally came.

Special Teams:

  • In playoff hockey, goals are hard to come by but more importantly they seem to be major momentum changers.  Tight games mean the teams that executes is usually the team that wins. Statistically the Jet’s powerplay has been good but we think that this will be a big factor (more than normal) in order for the Jets to go all the way.

Best players need to be your best players:

  • Goaltending is a separate category because it is the most important position in hockey. Like Mark Scheifele last year who tore up the playoffs with goals will need some help.  Patrik Laine needs to be a difference maker.  They can not win without him scoring.  The other obvious player is a healthy Dustin Byfuglien. Center ice depth is what every team needs in order to win.  Scheifele, Hayes, Lowry & Copp (at the moment) need to dominate play in order to win.

For the record, we hate the idea of cloning though scientifically it is very interesting and scary all at the same time.  This will be the Winnipeg Jets third and best shot since coming back to the NHL to drink their faces off in an Ovechkin type manner.  Coming up with the DNA of past champions in order to win the most coveted prize in hockey would be beneficial.  But then again, winning a Stanley Cup is no exact science.  

Comments @spinohockey

NHL TRADE DEADLINE EXCLUSIVE – MATCH GAME

With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, playoff-bound teams need to decide whether they will go into the playoffs with their existing roster or if they will try to add one or two pieces to help them make a long run. Teams that are out of the playoffs are looking to get the most they can for players on expiring contracts or even major deals to unload some contracts. Then there are the teams in the middle, who might decide to both buy and sell.

There are some teams who have been out of the playoff picture for quite some time and teams in the Western Conference that have recently climbed back into the playoff picture. While most fans love to see the big blockbuster player deals, all it could take is a minor deal to put a contending team over the top. Buyers will be looking for that difference maker that will put them over the top.

Here are my predictions the destination of players who have been rumored to be traded and match them up with the teams who I think will be the buyers.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Calgary

The surprise team of the West are contending for top spot in the Pacific with a rookie goalie.  They may want to trade for a proven goalie, as Mike Smith continues to falter. If they also land a solid top 6 forward, it could make them an even more dangerous team in the playoffs.

Possible Options:James Reimer (FLA), Cam Ward (CHI), Matt Zuccarello (NYR), Kevin Hayes (NYR)

Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Jimmy Howard (DET)

Chicago

GM Stan Bowman has done a great job of trading already this season, especially since they face such a tight cap situation. The acquisition of Dylan Strome has helped the Blackhawks claw their way back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Still, Bowman likely has his eyes set on trying to dump some salary.

Possible Options:Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)

Long Shot:Artemi Panarin (CHI)

Colorado

After a quick start, the Avs have recently been in a free-fall. GM Joe Sakic may need to find some secondary scoring help in order to help keep their playoff hopes alive. They could be both buyers and sellers.

Possible Options:  Kevin Hayes (NYR), Gustav Nyquist (DET), Andrei Burakovsky (WSH)

Long Shot:Eric Staal (MIN), Charlie Coyle (MIN)

Dallas

It seems like CEO Jim Lites lit the horses behind since his crass comments about Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The Stars have been winning and will likely be shopping for some secondary scoring to help the stable.

Possible Options:Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Artemi Panarin (LAK)

Long Shot:Matt Duchene (OTT), Micheal Ferland (CAR)

Minnesota

The Wild are a bubble team in both making the playoffs and whether they will be buyers or sellers. Earlier this season, word was Charlie Coyle was on the trade block, with new GM Paul Fenton looking to make some changes to the roster. Other teams are also salivating at the possibility of upcoming UFA Eric Staal possibly becoming available.

Possible Options: Kevin Hayes (NYR), Matt Zuccarello (NYR)

Long Shot:Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA)

Nashville

David Poile always seems to have something up his sleeve when it comes to pulling off a surprise trade. The Preds are built to win now and it may take one more move to accomplish that. Team to watch to make first big move.

Possible Options:Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Jakob Silfverberg (ANA)

Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Matt Zuccarello (NYR)

San Jose

The Sharks already made their big move when they acquired Erik Karlsson at the beginning of the season. Now it may just be a matter of adding some character and depth to their lineup for a possible long playoff run.

Possible Options:  Alex Chiasson (EDM), Carl Hagelin (LAK), Drew Stafford (NJD)

Long Shot:Charlie Coyle (MIN)

St. Louis

It wasn’t long ago that the Blues were last place in the Central, but they have since turned things around and are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Despite this, it is not likely that GM Doug Armstrong will make a big splash. 

Possible Options: Marcus Johansson (NJD), Jakob Silverberg (ANA)

Long Shot:Ryan Dzingel (OTT)

Vegas

After a slow start, the Golden Knights were quickly back in to their first year expansion form, but have recently tailed off again. After reaching the finals last season, GM George McPhee will likely be looking to hit a homerun with a big deadline acquisition.

Possible Options:Mark Stone (OTT), Matt Duchene (OTT)

Long Shot:Jeff Carter (LAK), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA), Duncan Keith (CHI)

Winnipeg

After their surprising acquisition at the deadline last year, the biggest question being thrown around is “Who is the next Paul Stastny?” After being thwarted a couple of times, Chevy pulled a rabbit out of his hat by trading with a Central rival. This season their needs appears to be up the middle. What does Chevy do for an encore?

Possible Options:Kevin Hayes (NYR), Mark Stone (OTT) 

Long Shot: Eric Staal (MIN), Marcus Johansson (NJD)

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Boston

The Bruins are in a similar position as the Preds are in the West. With the veterans they have in their lineup, they are in a win-now mode. If they want to get past the Lightning and Capitals, they will likely need make some key additions.

Possible Options: Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Derick Brassard (FLA)

Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Wayne Simmonds (PHI)

Buffalo

One of the surprise teams of the East, the Sabres find themselves in an unusual position of not being a Trade Deadline seller. However, I don’t expect GM Jason Boterill to be very active unless it is for a player with term. 

Possible Options:Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM), 

Long Shot:Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)

Columbus

Next to Ottawa, the Blue Jackets are the team to watch to see whether they will trade or keep both upcoming UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. 

Possible Options:Matt Duchene (OTT), Vlad Namestnikov (NYR)

Longshot:Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA), Artemi Anisimov (CHI), Duncan Keith (CHI)

Montreal

One of the biggest surprises in the East this season, the Habs have quickly turned things around thanks to some healthy bodies, trades that have panned out, and the play from their rookie forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. 

Possible Options:Niklas Kronwall (DET), Nikita Zadorov (COL), Patrik Nemeth (COL)

Long Shot:Cam Fowler (ANA), Derick Brassard (FLA)

New York Islanders

The biggest surprise in the NHL this season, Head Coach Barry Trotz has done the unthinkable after the Isles lost their franchise player. They have a few players who will become UFAs at the end of the season, but that may not stop GM Lou Lamareillo from adding a few key pieces to try and continue their surprise run into the playoffs. Is there another David Volek moment in the cards?

Possible Options:Matt Duchene (OTT), Gustav Nyquist (DET)

Long Shot: Sergei Bobrovsky (CLB), Micheal Ferland (CAR)

Pittsburgh

You never know what Jim Rutherford has up his sleeve as he is not scared of making a big move. Sid and Geno are not getting any younger and like he did in the beginning of the season, Rutherford may want to kick-start the Pens again as they are fighting for a playoff spot.

Possible Options:Eric Staal (PIT), Gustav Nyquist (DET), Alex Martinez (LAK)

Long Shot: Ryan Dzingel (OTT), Jeff Skinner (BUF), Micheal Ferland (CAR)

Tampa Bay

The Lightning have been the runaway team during the regular season. However, as we all know, that goes out the window as soon as the playoffs start. Pressure is on for this team to go all the way after some disappointing results in the last couple of playoff runs. Likely looking for some help on the back end.

Possible Options:Adam McQuaid (NYR), Alex Martinez (LAK)

Long Shot:Cody Ceci (OTT), Justin Faulk (CAR)

Toronto

The Leafs already made a big splash when they acquired highly coveted defenceman Jake Muzzin from the LA Kings. They could still add a forward or a depth defenceman, as they were originally looking for a RHD.

Possible Options: Jakob Silfverberg (ANA), Ben Lovejoy (NJD)

Long Shot: Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Micheal Ferland (CAR)

Washington

Just like last season, I don’t expect the Caps to make a big splash at the trade deadline. They may make a few minor moves to shore up their depth.

Possible Options: Troy Brouwer (FLA), Patrick Maroon (STL)

Long Shot:Alex Chiasson (EDM), Marcus Johansson (NJD)

@Mass_insight

Trade Deadline: What players will put the Winnipeg Jets over the top!

If the Wild continue to falter, the Winnipeg Jets should make Center Eric Staal their number one focus

            Last season, the Winnipeg Jets were in an unfamiliar situation during the NHL trade deadline. Instead of being on the fence as to whether they would be buyers or sellers, their position in the standings clearly reflected that of being in a position to be a buyer. For GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, this was uncharted territory. Coming off a franchise best Season (no matter which franchise you are talking about – Winnipeg or Atlanta). The pressure to win is fast approaching.

            Fast forward to this season and the Jets are currently looking good at the top of the Western Conference and Central Division. While things can change quickly, it looks as though the Jets are ready to make another playoff run in 2019. With that being said, we’re taking a look at what players the Jets could possibly target, on or before the upcoming trade deadline. What has mostly been suggested (as we suggested very early last year) is for the team to try and find another centre, like last year’s Paul Stastny, to once again help galvanize the top lines. As we have said numerous times before centre depth and goaltending is a must to win the Stanley Cup. We realize the key to any playoff run is to ensure you have enough depth in your organization, as with the long grinding season and the intensity of the playoffs, there are going to be injuries.

            Here are the players we believe the Jets should target at the deadline. Keep in mind, in most cases players would most likely be from teams who are out of playoff contention and either preferably be an upcoming UFA or they would need to have little term remaining on their contracts.

Forwards

C Eric Staal (MIN)– This a player we had identified when he first became an UFA three seasons ago. No one checks off the boxes more than this player. He is a big strong center, can take face offs and play power play or can penalty kill. Not to mention a proven winner who has been there before. Staal has rejuvenated his career in Minnesota, after previously spending his entire career with Carolina. He has once again found his scoring touch and has also played for Paul Maurice when he was with the Hurricanes. Staal could be a perfect fit in a top six role and could even be better than Stastny was last year. Minnesota started off strong but are now currently out of a playoff spot. This would need to continue in order for the Jets to possibly acquire him. But if he is, we are all in on him.

C Marcus Johansson (NJD)– So far, things haven’t quite worked out for the New Jersey Devils like it did last season. Johansson, an upcoming UFA who originally played for the Capitals, was a good pickup for the Devils, but was injured most of last season. A great skater, playmaker and setup man, Johansson could be just what the Jets need to help feed Laine the puck. They could also use a good Swede, as they currently do not have a Swedish player on their roster.

C Derrick Brassard (PIT)– Here we go again! As mentioned before, the Jets were interested in trading for him at last year’s deadline, but they were thwarted by Vegas. Brassard hasn’t quite worked out for the Penguins and even though Pittsburgh will likely be playoff bound, we all know how Jimmy Rutherford likes to wheel and deal. Brassard has put up some real good stats in the playoffs before when playing for Ottawa and the New York Rangers and could be a key cog for the Jets for a long playoff run. Chevy may end up circling back on Brassard.

C Kevin Hayes (NYR)– With the NYRangers rebuilding, Hayes name has already been in the rumor mill earlier this season with the Jets reportedly showing interest. Hayes, who is scheduled to become an UFA, is a 6’5 centre who has good hands and can also play all three forward positions. There is also a previous connection with Chevy as he was originally drafted by Chicago in 2010. His play has picked up recently with the NYRangers and being a former Boston College player, he could fit in nicely with the current US-heavy Jets roster.

C Matt Duchene (OTT)– Duchene is a long shot as the Senators are actively trying to sign him to an extension. If he does become available, he will be the most expensive rental players as GM Pierre Doiron will try to recoup as much as possible based on what they gave up when they acquired him last season. Duchene would make the Jets even more dangerous than they already are, but we don’t think Chevy will want to give up the assets it will take to obtain his services.

W Micheal Ferland (CAR)– While he is not a centre, Ferland has a great combination of being a scoring power forward and is tough as nails, which is always great to have for a long and grueling playoff run. One thing we think was missing in their series vs Vegas was a rugged tough forward to combat against the likes of Scott Hartnell and Ryan Reaves. Ferland is a local boy (from Swan River), which is also a nice bonus too. 

W Matt Zuccarello (NYR)– Another player the Jets were reportedly eyeing during last season’s deadline, Zuccarello is now even more attractive as a rental, as he too will become an UFA at the end of the season.  He is considered to be somewhat of a Marty St. Louis-type player due to his size, quickness, and having a nose for the net, and like St. Louis, he could be the difference-maker for the Jets in the post season.

Other possible forward options – C Jori Lehtera (PHA), W – Wayne Simmonds (PHA), C Marcus Kruger (CHI), C/W Brian Boyle (NJD), C Brock Nelson (NYI), W Michael Raffl (PHI), W Gustav Nyquist (DET), W Patrick Maroon (STL)

Defence

Jake Muzzin – LD (LAK) – Muzzin is a hard-nosed, mobile d-man who can score, and comes with a winning pedigree as a result of his two Stanley Cup wins with the Kings. With LA out of the playoff picture, Muzzin, who has 1 year remaining in his contract, could be exactly what the Jets need to add some toughness on the blue line and solidify their d-core. If the Jets were to be interested 1) Muzzin won’t come cheap and 2) the Jets will likely need to send a contract back as they will have a few high-priced players to re-sign in the offseason.

Alex Edler (VAN) – LD – An upcoming UFA, Edler will likely be the most sought after rental on defence this season. A solid all-round defenceman, Edler would add another dimension to the Jets back end. He also has valuable playoff experience with some long playoff runs with the Canucks.

Niklas Kronwall – LD – (DET) – While Kronwall is getting up there in age (37), he is still a key cog on the Red Wings blue line. Kronwall can add some toughness and, while not recent, also has great playoff experience with his previous Cup wins with Detroit. Imagine teams having to lineup against Kronwall and Big Buff.

Adam McQuaid – RD – (NYR) – On the right side, the Jets would be a good position depth-wise if it weren’t for the injury to Tucker Poolman, who is currently out indefinitely with an injury. McQuaid could be a solid acquisition as he is a good shot blocking, defensive defenceman and could replace the spot normally occupied by Poolman.

Ben Lovejoy – RD – (NJD) – Like McQuaid, Lovejoy is a right handed d-man who could be a good depth add. Lovejoy also had playoff experience under his belt in playoff runs with the Penguins.

Other possible options – Michael Del Zotto (VAN), Jan Ruuta (CHI), Luca Sbisa (NYI), Nate Prosser (MIN), Robert Hagg (PHA), Jay Bouwmeester (STL)

            

           

           

NHL COACHING JOBS! WHO’S UP NEXT?

Can you imagine showing up at work one day and your boss tells you that we don’t like how our business is performing and we need to let you go.  You were great last year but this year isn’t working out.  Oh and by the way we are replacing you with your assistant.

It may be early in the NHL season, but already there are rumblings as to which current head coach might be close to being replaced. Last season was the first time since 1996-97 that a coach was not fired during the hockey season. However, there were a few teams that made changes in the offseason, including Calgary, Carolina, Dallas, and the New York Rangers.

It’s no secret that head coaches of professional sports teams have a limited life span. In the NHL, head coaches have one of the highest turnover rates in major sport, averaging about 3.4 years. With the high turnover, successful coaches can maybe get 3-4 chances of being hired by a new team (or even the same team that once fired them). One coach who has, until now, seemed to have bucked that trend is Joel Quenneville, who has been the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks since 2008. Also, the new up-and-coming coaches from other leagues like the AHL or college ranks put in their time and wait for their chance for a job in the major league. 

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Granted teams that have recently hired a new coach will not likely be candidates for making any changes. It’s the teams who have had a coach for around three years or more and their team is not meeting expectations that may possibly be looking to make a change.

Teams that are more likely to make a coaching change during the season include: Chicago, Detroit, Edmonton, LA, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. If I were to choose dark horse team to make a change it would be Tampa Bay. Expectations are high for this team to win the Cup and with Julien BriseBois recently taking over from Steve Yzerman, he may want to bring in his own coach. 

Here are a list of some of the top coaching candidates that you might see behind an NHL team bench this coming season:

The Recycled

  1. Alain Vigneault – he’s had two strong runs with the Canucks and NY Rangers, coming within a game of winning the Stanley Cup with Vancouver. Excellent regular season track record with 648 wins and his teams have only missed the playoffs twice in his 12 seasons as head coach. Has to be considered the front-runner for teams looking for a replacement, but he won’t come cheap.
  2. Michel Therrien – in what seems like ages ago, Therrien led the Montreal Canadiens to a 50-win season back in the 2014-15 season.  Surprisingly, he was fired by the Habs when their record was 31-19, which they’ve had difficulty getting back to since his departure. You think that was rough, this is the same guy that got fired from the Pittsburgh Penguins only to see his team go on to win the Stanley Cup!  Currently a scout for Montreal, a proven winner,  he should get another shot at leading a team.
  3. Dave Tippett – the former longtime coach of the Arizona Coyotes is now working as a special advisor for the Seattle group looking to land the next NHL expansion team. Shrewd move by him, as this will likely land him a permanent job with Seattle either in management or as their first ever head coach. 
  4. Paul MacLean – while probably a dark horse, the former Jack Adams Trophy winner surprisingly has not been given another HC opportunity after his short stint with the Ottawa Senators. The long-time NHL assistant coach most recently worked in that position with the Anaheim Ducks could get one more shot at being head coach.
  5. Darryl Sutter – I know, I know, he’s retired. But the last I checked Stanley Cup winning coaches do not grow on trees. Two Stanley Cup wins and a great regular season track record may entice a team like the Edmonton Oilers, if they decide to move on from Todd McLellan. While often criticized for his tough coaching style, it very well could be what the Oilers need to get them back on track. The chance at coaching a player like Connor McDavid and with the team so close to home, might be the only job Sutter will ever consider.

The New Kids on the Block 

  1. Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies (AHL) – has been a top candidate for head coaching jobs for about the last two seasons. Considered the Jon Gruden of hockey, putting in long hours in order to perfect his craft. Led Marlies to Calder Cup win last season.
  2. Pascal Vincent, MB Moose (AHL) – entering his third season as coach of the Moose, Vincent has been with the Jets as an assistant coach before that.  Led the Moose to a big turnaround last season and a playoff berth after team had third worst record in the AHL the season before. Has been talked about as one of the top up-and-comers in the coaching ranks.
  3. Jay Leach, Providence Bruins (AHL) – Leach is a fast rising young star in the coaching ranks. He has had success leading the Bruins both as an assistant and as their HC since the start of the 2017 season. Previous to that he was an assistant with Scranton-Barrie. 
  4. Nate Leaman, Providence Friars (NCAA) – odds are good that Leaman joins the growing list of college coaches making the jump to the NHL. He has spent the last 7 season as coach of the Providence Friars, winning the NCAA championship in the 2014-15 season, and his college head coaching career dates back to 2003.
  5. John Madden, Cleveland Monsters (AHL) – the former 3-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils has been the head coach of the Cleveland Monsters since 2016, after taking over from Jared Bednar.   Previous to that, Madden spent 3 seasons as an assistant for the Florida Panthers.

The Over-the-Shoulders 

  1. Dan Bylsma, DET – with Jeff Blashill entering his fourth season and with Red Wings continuing to struggle, he could be next in line if team decides to make a change.
  2. Kirk Muller, MON – also a former head coach of the Hurricanes, Muller has been an assistant with a couple of teams while waiting for his next opportunity.
  3. Jack Capuano, FLA – former Isles bench boss should get one more chance as a HC after a long tenure with the Islanders. In his previous two seasons before getting fired, Capuano led the Isles to 47 and 45 win seasons. He should get another shot.
  4. DJ Smith, TOR – like Keefe, Smith has been mentioned as possible HC candidate during the last round of coaching hires. With Mike Babcock entrenched behind the bench in Toronto, DJ will likely need to take his music elsewhere in order to become a head coach.
  5. Kevin Dineen, CHI – as an assistant coach with the Blackhawks, he might be in the perfect spot for an opportunity, due to Coach Q’s long and seemingly endless tenure. Rumors had Quenneville parting ways with the team during the 2017 draft, and being fired at end of last season. He could be a losing streak away of being replaced.
  6. Todd Nelson, DAL – spent a short stint as head coach of the Oilers, until Todd McLellan became available. Since then he’s had a successful run coaching in the AHL and now in his first year an assistant in Dallas. He will probably get another chance as head coach after having the plug pulled prematurely during his first season.
  7. Marc Crawford, OTT – veteran coach who previously had four NHL head coaching jobs and a stint overseas, he helped bring the Sens within one game of SC Final. This season, with seemingly nothing to work with, the team if off to a surprising start. Could be due for one more chance.
  8. Luke Richardson, MON – once considered the heir to the Ottawa Senators HC job, Richardson was snubbed and he left the organization for other opportunities. Currently, he is in his first season as an assistant in Montreal, he spent last season in same position with Isles. 
  9. Lane Lambert, NYI – Lambert has been a Barry Trotz mainstay since 2011 as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators. He helped Trotz lead the Capitals to their Stanley Cup victory last season and has since followed him to the Island. His coaching career dates back to 2002 in the WHL. Lambert’s name has been brought up quite a bit as candidate for a HC job and he has definitely put in his time. 
  10. 10.Ian Laperriere, PHI – Ian’s career ended abruptly after suffering from concussion symptoms in 2010. Now entering his 6th season as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers, he could be the future Flyers HC if the rumours of firing David Hakstol ever end up becoming true.

Coaching in any league is a tough business especially when everyone is gunning for your job in a results based environment.  Point of advice, if you things aren’t looking good the next morning, call in sick.

@Mass_insight

@spinohockey

 

NHL 2018-2019 Spinorama Hockey Preview…

Glad the NHL is back?  So are we.  We thought we would start with our yearly predictions and things that we are most likely to see in this upcoming season:

Most overrated teams: Bruins, Blue Jackets, Vegas

Teams most likely to surprise: Sabres, Habs, Islanders

Best Offseason Acquisition: J Tavares – Leafs, M Pacioretty – Vegas, J Skinner – Sabres, E. Karlsson – Sharks (if he can hack the Western Conference), M. Hoffman – Panthers

Worst Offseason Overpay: Paul Stastny – Vegas

A Star is Born: M. Rantanen – Avs


Young players not being talked about enough:
T. Chabot – Sens, R Donato – Bruins, I Provorov – Flyers, T Jost – Avs

Breakthrough years: B. Horvat – Canucks, J Eichel – Sabres, A. Mantha – Wings, C. White – Sens, N Patrick – Flyers, PL Dubois – Blue Jackets

Most unlikely team goaltending to surprise: Wings – J Howard & J Bernier, Islanders – T Greiss & R Lehner

Stanley Cup Champion: Winnipeg defeats Toronto

Conference Semi Finalists: Winnipeg vs Los Angeles, Toronto vs Pittsburgh

 

NHL AWARD WINNERS:

Calder Trophy: E. Petterson – Canucks

Vezina Trophy:  F Andersen – Leafs, A. Vasilevskiy – TB, J Quick – Kings

Rocket Richard: Tie 48 Goals: A. Matthews – Leafs, P Laine – Jets

Art Ross: C McDavid – Oilers

Norris: J Carlson – Capitals

Hart: N McKinnon – Avs

Jack Adams: John Hynes – Devils, Honourable Mention: Travis Green – Canucks

Lady Byng: V Tarasenko – Blues

Frank J Selke: A. Barkov – Panthers

 

My 2018-19 NHL Standings Predictions:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Metropolitan Division

@frankzappia1:  New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, WC-Washington, Out: NYI Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Carolina

@Mass_Insight:  Washington, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, WC-Philadelphia, Out: Columbus, NY Rangers, Carolina, NY Islanders

Atlantic Division

@frankzappia1:  Toronto, Tampa Bay, Boston WC-Florida Out: Montreal, Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa

@Mass_Insight:  Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, WC-Florida Out: Buffalo, Montreal, Detroit, Ottawa

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Central Division

@frankzappia1:  Nashville, Colorado, Winnipeg, WC-St Louis Out: Dallas, Minnesota, Chicago

@Mass_Insight:  Winnipeg, Nashville, Colorado, WC-Dallas,  Out: Minnesota, St Louis, Chicago

Pacific Division

@frank@zappia1: LA, San Jose, Edmonton, WC- Calgary:  Out: Vegas, Vancouver, Anaheim, Arizona

@Mass_Insight:  San Jose, Vegas, Calgary, WC-LA, Out: Edmonton, Anaheim, Vancouver, Arizona