Signing Johnson, and who makes the playoffs

Well, let's get to the big news first.
The Los Angeles Kings made another big boost towards their future, as they signed prospect Jack Johnson, 37 points in 35 collegiate games, to an entry level contract. Johnson is expected to make his NHL debut against Vancouver, and will likely have his first full year next season. Johnson was selected 3rd overall in 2005 by the Carolina Hurricanes, and was traded to L.A. with Oleg Tverdovsky for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger. Interestingly, one of the reasons that Carolina traded him was because they thought he would be difficult to sign. Wrong! I won't brag how I was right about the Kings bringing him up for a late cup of coffee. Instead of Johnson joining the Manchester Monarchs (AHL) for the playoffs, he will play for the United States against other NHLers.
For my own subject, I decided it's finally time to look at the standings.
So far, Buffalo, Anaheim, Nashville, Detroit, and Ottawa have all clinched a spot, of course. That is what I can currently find for clinches on NHL.com, although I believe now Pittsburgh, San Jose and Vancouver have clinched as well. It's a big playoff race in each conference. In the east, the following teams are fighting for either seventh or eighth place; Tampa Bay, Montreal, Carolina, NY Islanders, and Toronto. In the West, it is lest competitive, although Colorado was trying to make a late rush. Many teams can finish with 100 points or more, and it could be the most competitive season yet.

Goal of the day- Today, I chose a video that's one of my favorites, it is someones list of the top 20 goals in NHL history, and shows some other ones at the beginning as well. Actually, you'll get to see Bobby Orr scoring a famous goal, but it is hard to catch.

Pretty nice, huh.

That's all today, it's almost playoff time!



Well, it's time I finally talked about one of the NHL's most heated subjects.
Should it be banned? Does it take away from the game? Do only skill-less players fight?
My answer to all those questions is no.
Should it stay? Do skill players fight as well? Could it get better?
My answer to all those questions is yes.
People are wasting their time arguing about this. Fighting is a key area of the game. Players such as Sean Avery, Chris Neil, and even Jarome Iginla are some of the most famous fighters. Here are is one video of a pretty good hockey fight.
"video of Unbelieveable Hockey Fight on YouTube" will get you a nice bout between Donald Brashear and Rob Ray.

Ok, sorry, that was my first attempt to embed a video.
Continuing on...
Fighting like that video really brings out the competition in both players and teammates. While it can get too ugly, it doesn't happen regularly. Most fans love fighting, and I am one for seeing about one a game.
Now, let me deal out some facts. Fighting does bring a lot of injuries. Nick Kypreos was a scary example. So was Todd Fedoruk. Sometimes the injury is less visible. Steve Ott fractured his ankle this year, during a fight with Tom Kostopoulos. Also, fighting leads to many suspensions, and could end a players career.
This does add a bad rap to fighting in hockey. But think of all the things we would lose if we didn't have fighting. The Caps-Rangers rivalry, and the Flyers-Senators rivalry, and so many others were built up out of fighting.
It's not as if every fighter in hockey is just a goon that gets carried by their respective team so they can beat up on people. Sure, maybe Brian McGrattan, Derek Boogard, and Darren McCarty fit that description, but look at the skill guys who fight. Jarome Iginla had a chance to lead the league in scoring. Chris Neil could reach 30 points this year. Sean Avery has been a key scorer with the Rangers.
Overall, fighting should really stay in the NHL and shouldn't be built up or played down. Just keep it how it is.

Goal of the day- Well, since I figured out how to embed stuff, there is no need for me to say " well you search so-so's awesome fantasmo goal on Google, then click the fourth link, find the link on that page..." etc. etc. Instead, here's a nice goal from Sid the Kid, or should I say King. It's actually pretty Ovechkin-esque.

Okay, it worked again. As you can hear the announcer say, that was absolutely "sidsational." What a move.

- It's gotta be true. Why else would the players believe it? Sid the Kid is the best! Really, two back to back 100-point seasons? Not to mention he's going to lead his team to the playoffs after they finished 29th last year? Most of the time it would take around 4 years for that to happen, not one!
- Everyone is watching Vincent Lecavlier to score his 50th goal of the year. Me too. Please do it Vinny? Please? I don't want it to go back to 03-04! Please score!

Posting tomorrow!


Short notes, and a cool video

Well, like I always do when I miss a few days, here are some notes around the NHL.

- While they do have a chance, it's likely that the Minnesota Wild will not win the Stanley Cup this year. However, don't expect the same result next year. If the Wild keep all three of their goalies, then they will be unbeatable. Manny Fernandez, the original starter, was going strong, having played in 44 games, going 22-16-1. Then he was injured, and Nicklas Backstrom stepped in. Backstrom has since gone 20-8-5 through 36 games. Behind those two is Josh Harding. Stuck in the AHL after losing the back-up job to Backstrom, he went 17-16-4 with the Aeros. However, as Backstrom's back-up, Harding is 3-0-1 in 5 appearances. The Wild could set a record for least losses next year if they alternate the three regularly.

- There are a lot of guys in the NHL who can't get enough coverage because their stats are low. Guys like Ryan Johnson (StL), Blair Betts (NYR), Patrick Rissmiller (SJ), Jiri Hudler (DET), and even Dean McAmmond (OTT) are all guys who fit the description. The most points out of any of these players is McAmmond, with 28. The lead for goals is 15 by Hudler. But each of these guys are key for their team, and need to get more coverage.

- Looks like I'll still be right about Ottawa having the most scoring depth. Joining the first 12 30-point scorers are Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves. Corvo actually has moved ahead of Andrej Meszaros, an original 12, with 34 points compared to Meszaros' 32. Eaves has 31. Also, Dean McAmmond has 28 and Chris Neil has 27. Those guys could soon give Ottawa 16 different 30 point scorers. Of those possible 16, only two players (Mike Comrie, Oleg Saprykin) were acquired in trades during the season. However, Comrie still scored 18 points with Ottawa, and Saprykin has scored 2 points in just 7 games with the Sens.

- I have to heap praise after praise upon Kristian Huselius. Really, he is just awesome. Still going at a point-per-game, and he has only missed one for his team. Career highs everywhere you look. If you want some humorous Huselius, search "video of Kristian Huselius on YouTube" and the third link, someone made a fan video of him. It's just pictures put to music, and words, but it is pretty funny.

Goal of the Day- Well, I'm going to have a tough choice. I'll choose a nice compilation of Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund goals. Type "video of Markus Naslund awesome goal" and at the bottom of the first page (if you use Google) there will be a YouTube link called Forsberg Naslund. That one will be pretty good.


The Ducks are the Oilers, and EHM

This year's Anahiem Ducks could be last year's Oilers.
Think about it. Everything fits. The Oilers had struggling goaltending until they made a good trade. The Ducks have had one goalie struggle and another one oft-injured. But now, both are back in shape. The Oilers had a couple of studs on defense, with Chris Pronger and Jaroslav Spacek. The Ducks have Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, a slightly better pair. The Oilers had a thick offense, from Hemsky, Horcoff, and Smyth to Stoll, Pisani, and Peca. The Ducks have Selanne, Andy Mac, and Kunitz, to Penner, Getzlaf, and Perry. It all fits together, except the Ducks have more experience. But everyone who has money on the Ducks winning the Cup better watch it, and maybe take less of a risk.

Washington- Improved to 7-7-1, and am seeing a large improvement of the defense. Anton Volchenkov, Bryan Muir, and Brian Pothier are especially good.
Norfolk- Team still struggling, currently at 3-6-2. Signed Brian White in hopes of a more consistent defense.
Alaska- Doing well, sitting at 3-4-1. Haven't made any significant moves yet, but put goalie Isaac Reichmuth up for grabs.
Drummondville- Going through a rough streak, record down to 15-8-0. Can't make any moves, but will just rough it out.
Everett- Doing great, sitting at 14-7-2, got Mueller back from injury, he scored in first game back.
Sudbury- The Wolves are doing fine, still at 12-6-1. Nick Foligno having injury troubles. Still looking for a good back-up goalie, may recall Rowlandson from Junior Wolves.

Goal of the Day- I have to limit it to one, but I will make a good one. You can type "video of Manny Malholtra goal", and that will give a link to a lot of diving goals in the NHL. They are all great, but it showcases Malholtra's diving shot, A Valeri Kamensky spinoramma through the air, Tyson Nash diving through a pile-up, and, of course, Alexander Ovechkin scoring 'The Goal'. It's really great and has cool music.

- For the third time this year, a frightening event happened on ice. This time, it was Colton Orr, or more specifically his right hand, knocking out Todd Fedoruk during a fight. While Fedoruk claims that it was just part of the game, it is still scary. Orr was charging up his dangerous right hand, and when he saw an opening in Fedoruk, he swung. It connected with Fedoruk's jaw and knocked him out cold.
- Ruslan Fedotenko's 20-goal surprise last year hasn't shown this year. The Lightning left-winger has only 12 goals and 31 points this season.

That's all for today.


Mostly EHM notes

Got a lot of stuff for EHM. I actually started a different name for want of never being fired.
So now, these are the teams;
Washington- The Capitals are my new NHL team, and actually, they are at 5-6-1 to start the year. I acquired Chris Drury again, and Stu Barnes from Dallas in trades. I improved the defense, getting Anton Volchenkov and Greg Zanon from waivers. I also signed Alex Semin, and he has helped. Recalling Kris Beech over Rico Fata was a great choice. Jeff Hamilton was a sound waiver claim as well.
Drummondville- Unwilling to have another losing QMJHL team, and liking the sound of Derick Brassard, Guillame Latendresse, Per-Oliver Pelettier, and Alexandre Demers, I chose the Voltiguers. To start the season, we are 13-8-0.
Everett- Again, unwilling to have a losing WHL team, I chose the Silvertips due to Peter Mueller, Zach Hamill, and Leland Irving. I also found out that Brady Calla was a great player. I acquired Martin Hanzal for, essentially, a player way below his standards. Hanzal hasn't exploded with offense, but is doing well. We started with an 11-6-1 record.
Sudbury- Unable to resist Nick Foligno, I chose the Wolves for my OHL team. They also have Marc Staal, Benoit Pouliot, and Mark Versteeg-Lywn. We have been excellent at the start, going 13-6-2.
Norfolk- Expecting them to be successful, the Admirals haven't performed to my expectations. However, with players Martin Tuma, Reed Low, and Duncan Keith, we have time to improve upon a 2-6-1 start. Expectations are high for this AHL team.
Alaska- I went to a new level, choosing the Aces for my ECHL team. We are doing fine, with Derek Gustafson, Joe Talbot, and Mike Stuart leading the way to an acceptable 2-3-1 start.

Goal of the Day- Since I didn't link to it when I first wrote about amazing goals, I will link to Alexander Ovechkin's 'The Goal'. It's really amazing, and if you see it on YouTube then you can see some of his other great goals as well.

That's all today.


You're probably wondering why we called this meeting

Recalls. The guys who come up from the minors for 5-10 games at a time, and even if they do good, they get sent back down at some point. Here are some guys who have made as much of an impact as they can.

- Ryan Shannon. While his 50 games seems to say that he has been a regular, Shannon has been sent down to the minors a few times. But Shannon is one of those energy line guys, who can shake up a game and provide a little offense. He had 2 goals and 11 points through 50 games. He also looked pretty exciting when he tried a Shannonian Spinoramma, although he couldn't lift the puck into the net. You can search "video of Ryan Shannon shootout attempt" on Google to see some good footage of it on YouTube.

- Drew Stafford and Nathan Paetsch. Because I want to add other players, I'm going to combine these two. For Stafford, he is defintely the kind of guy you want to be able to call up. Through 33 games, Stafford has 9 goals and 18 points. For Paetsch, is he a 7th defenseman who gets a lot of time? Or a 6th defenseman who is unrecognized? Either way, Paetsch has played 56 games and scored 23 points.

- Ramzi Abid. As long as this guy only plays like 6-10 games a season, then they could name a trophy after him. The "Abid Trophy", for best guy in short stints. Overall in his career, Abid's stats are merely average, and possibly mediocre. He only has 14 goals and 27 points in 61 games. However, the most games he has played in one season is 33. He scored 10 goals and 18 points during those games, but has since only averaged 10 NHL games a year. This season, Abid has played 6 games for the Predators and scored 1 goal and 2 points.

- David Clarkson. Here's where Clarkson gets to shine. He has played 3 games in his current call-up to New Jersey, and scored 2 points. He also had his first two-point game in his second game. He had a first-period goal against Carolina, and then made a great no-look pass to Travis Zajac for an assist. He also has 4 PIM's, showing he's not afraid of roughing it up.

- Jussi Timonen. This young defenseman has given Philadelphia peace of mind about its future defense corps. Timonen played well in a short call-up, scoring 4 assists in 14 games. He also only had a few penalties, showing that he can play a smart game.

That's some guys there.

Goal of the Day- How about......Robbie Schremp's lacrosse-style goal(s). You can search "video of Rob Schremp lacrosse goal" and there are several great YouTube videos for it.

Posting tomorrow.


Was it that bad?

Another frightening event happened recently when Jordin Tootoo punched Stephane Robidas in the face to knock Robidas out cold. However, the three players involved in that play each had an equal chance to get injured. Mike Modano, who Tootoo initially hit, could have easily landed the wrong way. When Robidas charged after Tootoo, it could have turned into a hit from behind like Ovechkin on Briere. Of course, there was the swing-around-glove-still-on punch that knocked Robidas out. Then, Modano got up and gave a one-handed slash across Jordin Tootoo's back. That could have been serious.
So, everyone, was the event as bad as it could have been? I'm not downplaying the fact that it was a nasty thing to do, but it doesn't need to cause as much worry as, say, the Bertuzzi-Moore incident. Although, I have not received full word on how bad the injury to Robidas is. To watch this incident yourself, search "video of Jordin Tootoo punching Stephane Robidas" on Google and use the YouTube link.

Goal of the Day- I'll choose a goal Jaromir Jagr, a true star in the league, scored against the New Jersey Devils back when Jagr was playing for Pittsburgh. It's pretty nice, he receives a pass, and, while being hooked from behind, carries the puck with one hand, frees himself from the defenseman and takes a nice shot. Search "video of Jaromir Jagr awesome goal" and click the YouTube link that says Jagr's awesome OT goal.

- The Dallas Stars have gained even more defensive depth. They signed youngster Matt Niskanen, the team's first draft pick in 05, to a 3-year deal. This could potentially allow Niskanen to finish college, and then play one year for either the Stars or a minor league affiliate. However, Niskanen may wish to join the Stars early, and that would give him more true development time.
- Joe Thornton has quietly made a late season scoring surge, and is tied with Vincent Lecavalier for 2nd place in scoring. If these two were to both lead, and still be tied, however, Lecavalier would likely be given the title due to his 48 goals compared to Thornton's 20.
- Speaking of goals, Teemu Selanne has become a main attraction in the NHL. He had a major change in recent years, going from a player on his way down, to one of the most consistent performers in the new NHL. Each of the past two seasons, he wasn't expected to carry so much of the load in Anahiem's scoring. However, he pulled through, and has scored at least 40 goals and 40 assists in the past two seasons.


Great Goals

There was 'The Goal' last year, but there are pretty good ones besides that in the 'new' NHL years (late 05-March 07).

- Mike Green. He may only have two goals, but this guy scored a very impressive goal early in the season. Playing against the Colorado Avalanche, he picked up the puck in his own end, skated through center ice, fought off a check, and pushed the puck with one hand past the goalie.
You can see this goal on YouTube if you search "video of Mike Green hockey goal" in Google.

- Kyle Okposo. I'm going beyond the NHL this time, and I'm including Okopso's nice goal in NCAA play. Okposo's teammate gets the puck from the corner, and passes it to, who Okposo gets the puck, and reminiscent of Jonathan Cheechoo's 2004 playoff goal (which I will try and find a link for), he tucks it in shortside between his legs past the goalie. Type in "video of Kyle Okposo amazing goal" into Google and a YouTube link will appear.

- Jonathan Cheechoo. as previously mentioned, Cheechoo scored his second goal of the 2004 playoffs in a rare style. I actually have this one on my own tape, and it is quite amazing. Off a pass from Brad Stuart that can be called good and bad at the same time, Cheechoo was in front of the net with goalie David Aebischer and Rob Blake blocking him. However, it seemed to befuddle the goalie when Cheechoo caught the puck between his legs, and deflected the puck into the net. Type "video of Jonathan Cheechoo between the legs goal" into Google for a YouTube link.

- Evgeni Malkin. During his 6-game goal-scoring streak, Malkin scored a goal against the New Jersey Devils that got Mario 'Le Magnifique' Lemieux on his feet. Malkin took a long pass from Sidney Crosby into the New Jersey zone, got past two defensemen, spun a 180, and backhanded the puck past Martin Brodeur. Search for "video of Evgeni Malkin goal against New Jersey" for a YouTube link.

- Sidney Crosby. 'Sid the Kid' scores some nice goals himself, not just some good passes. Back in December of 06, he made a great individual play against the Florida Panthers. Going down the middle, Sidney Crosby was checked by two defenders and still managed to get a shot off. It almost looks like he's flying. Search "video of Sidney Crosby goal against Florida in December" for a result off of YouTube.

Check out those, and I might end up getting a new 'feature' of my blog. Hockey goal of the day. Yeah, that sounds good. I will post either a link or the words to search in Google to a goal that I think is really awesome.


The "who is he?" rookie

Here are some key rookies that are all but unknown to the NHL.

- Joe Pavelski. All but lost in the Calder race because he came in mid-season, Pavelski has never the less managed to be a great NHL player so far. In 40 games on almost every line, he has 14 goals and 25 points. He also does well on the power-play, with 5 goals, and has 3 game-winning goals. He also has a 13.6 shooting percentage.

- Travis Zajac. Not that Zajac is unknown, but ever since Paul Stastny came to life and Evgeni Malkin continued his dominance, Zajac has been wiped off the Calder nominee list. But he will certainly be the rookie of his team. Zajac has 15 goals and 35 points, and has shown awesome chemistry with Zach Parise and fellow Devils rookie David Clarkson. Clarkson is another significant Devils rookie, but he will still be Calder eligible next year since he can only play a maximum of 12 games.

- Ladislav Smid. Due to the fact that Mathieu Carle, Ian White, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Nathan Paetsch are way ahead of him in scoring and get much more notice since they are on a winning team (although White's Maple Leafs aren't in the playoffs), Smid has a lot less of a chance in the Calder race. However, Smid is a reliable defenseman on a team that could rival last year's Capitals and Penguins as the worst defensive team. He has especially been able to step up when Daniel Tjarnqvist, who has only managed to play 37 games, goes down. Smid has scored 2 goals and 9 points in 67 games.
- Andrei Kostitsyn. This Canadiens rookie has performed well in a limited role. Through 13 games, he had 1 goal and 7 points. His goal was a game-winner.
- Tomas Fleischmann. Another rookie with a limited role, Fleischmann has nevertheless performed well. Through 20 games, he had scored 4 goals and 8 points. He had 2 assists in 14 games last year. His first goal, scored against Martin Broduer, was a combination of Rick Nash (batting the puck out of the air) and Alex Ovechkin (while being checked and off balance).
That's all of the rookies for now.


Doing what I do best

And that is keeping my hockey coverage mostly on the positive side. I won't talk about how disappointing the Rangers, Leafs, and Flyers have been. I'm going to stay on the bright side. How about some power-play specialists.

- Teemu Selanne. Despite being nearly 37, the 'Finnish Flash' has been a modern Gordie Howe. Selanne was brought to the Ducks last year thinking that he would be a 20-goal scorer and a veteran leader. Instead, Selanne has scored at least 40 goals in each of the past two seasons. This year, he has 43 goals, and 23 of them have come on the power-play. He also has 19 power-play assists, proving he isn't just about scoring.

- Dion Phaneuf. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, Phanuef has slightly faded into the background after being touted as one of the 'big three' rookies last year. Despite his small(er) coverage, Phaneuf is still one of the Flames' best defenseman. After scoring 20 goals and 49 points last year, he could reach that again. He has 17 goals, including 14 on the power-play, compared to last year's 20 goals with 16 on the PP. He also has 13 PP assists out of 27, for a total of 44 points and 27 power-play points.

- Sheldon Souray. Another D-man with a big shot, Souray is second in the league for power-play goals. The Canadiens defenseman is set to be a UFA this summer, and tons of teams will be after him. His overall stats, 25 goals and 59 points, are outstanding, but the defenseman is especially key on the power-play. He has 17 PP goals, and 26 PP assists for 43 PP points.

- Sidney Crosby. Honestly, it would be a crime to not include Sid the Kid in this category. Despite his low power-play goals total (10), he has instead given players such as Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Mark Recchi, Michel Oullet, and Jordan Staal plenty of power-play opportunities. He has 42 power-play assists to lead the league. His PP points total of 52 also leads the league.
That's all that I will list for now, more to come later.
- Guess who is in second place on the NJ Devils in scoring. Brian Gionta? Scott Gomez? Maybe youngster Zach Parise? None of the above. Strong defensive veteran Jamie Langenbrunner has now posted a career high 56 points, has played in all 71 games, and counting. Consider that before the Devils acquired him from the Dallas Stars, Langenbrunner was a 35-45 point scorer who had one year of 20 goals and 50 points. Since joining the Devils, however, Langenbrunner has had no lower than 26 points in an injury filled year. Other than that year, he has had around 54 points a season, and has been one of the stronger defensive forwards on the team.
- Sure, you talk about guys like P. J. Axelsson and Petteri Nummelin as being the most underrated, but where is all the attention David Vyborny needs to get? Vyborny is well on his way to his third season as leading scorer of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he came in second the year that Rick Nash had his Rocket Richard season. He has averaged around 40-45 points in his career, and appears to be the main setup man for Nash.
That's all today!


"I'm glad I got him."

That is the noise you can hear from many GM's this year. Similar to yesterday's list, I have a list of players who haven't exactly passed expectations, but have done something that makes coaches and GM's feel lucky.

- Taylor Pyatt. This power-forward was thought to be on his way down by the end of last season. However, signing with a new team (Vancouver) may have changed everything. He was expected to be a 50-65 point guy who could score 30 goals, but until this year, his career high in points was 28 and his career high in goals was 14. This year, he hasn't reached 40 points and probably won't, but their has been a new fierceness to his play. He already has 18 goals and 30 points, and has provided Vancouver with another offensive player.

- Mike Green. This was supposed to be kind of a transition year for Green, a rookie who had only played 22 games before. Instead of being a third-pairing guy who would play with veterans to help his game, he has been a reliable defenseman with offensive force. Through 59 games, Green has scored twice on 10 points, including a nice middle-to-end rush that resulted in a puck pushed past the goalie.

- Dustin Penner. Everybody would agree that Penner has passed expectations. Another rookie, Penner's offensive talent was obvious, but thought to be undeveloped. Despite that, he has put a together a quiet but great rookie year. Through 71 games, he has 25 goals and 16 assists for 41 points, and unless he goes on a slump, he will set a new Ducks record for points by a rookie. Chris Kunitz set it with 41 last year.

- Petteri Numelin. Although this may seem confusing, Nummelin has received a lot of non-coverage coverage. Everyone talks about how the guy is so underrated and not talked about. Well, I'll talk about his actual skill. Through just 49 of about 70 possible games, Nummelin has 3 goals and 20 points. That's good all by itself. But while he isn't credited with any individual game-winning goals, check out his shootout stats. Seven shots, six goals, 85.7% shooting percentage, 1 game-decider, 4 for 4 at home, 2 for 3 on the road. Talk about reliable. Nummelin has kept his team in 6 games and even decided 1 of them.
Those are the ones on my list for now.
- Ray Emery may be well-known for fisticuffs, but he's not that bad of a goalie either. Watching the entire second period of the recent Islanders/Senators games, Emery made some nice saves at key times to give his team a good lead.
- Buffalo has 4 shooting percentage leaders in the top 30. Chris Drury, Jason Pominville, Maxim Afineganov, and Thomas Vanek all have scored on at least 16% of their shots. What's more, the least amont of goals those 4 have scored is 23 out of Afineganov. Pominville has 29, Vanek has 34, and Drury leads with 35.
- Even if the bright spots in L.A. are few, they are pretty darn good. Alexander Frolov and MIke Cammalleri, each of whom were expected to struggle this year, have each put together 60-points seasons, with Cammalleri on pace for 73. Also, Anze Kopitar has proven himself time and time again as a great NHLer. Kopitar is third in team scoring with 56 points and 18 goals.
- Similar to last year's Sabres, the Ottawa Senators could lead the league unofficially in scoring depth. They have 12 players over 30 points, with two more (Corvo and Eaves) sure to reach that point.
That's all for now.


Would you have guessed that?

There are quite a few happenings in the NHL that few could have predicted. I've come up with a list.
- Jordan Staal's rookie performance. 28 goals, including 7 short-handers (and counting)? Who would have guessed. Actually, quite a few people believed that Staal would crack the SuperPens lineup this year. But almost no one would have thought Staal could lead the NHL in anything, much less a tough subject like short-handed goals. Despite that, Staal has shined. In my mind, he could be another Mike Bossy, with some small changes. Staal has 28 goals but only 10 assists, and should reach 35 by season's end.
- The Philadelphia Flyers total collapse. With all the big names (Gagne, Knuble, Pitkanen, Rathje, Nittymaki, Forsberg), and last year's success, the Flyers had large predictions on their shoulders at the start of the season. The Flyers merely shrugged, yawned, and said, "Forget about it." With a current NHL worst performance of 19-40-11 through 70 games, the Flyers have done the complete unexpected. Pretty much any change would improve the team next season.
- The Capitals have scoring depth and defensive players. Wait, defense? Yes, the Washington Capitals have a much better defense this year than last year. The names show all the difference. Last year, the top seven were (in order of scoring totals): Ben Clymer (who spent some of the year on wing), Jamie Heward, Bryan Muir, Steve Eminger, Shaone Morrison, Mathieu Biron, and Ivan Majesky. They also used Nolan Yonkman and Mike Green in call-ups. This year, they have used the following: Brian Pothier, Ben Clymer, Steve Eminger, Shaone Morrison, Mike Green, Lawrence Nycholat, Milan Jurcina, John Erskine, Bryan Muir, Jeff Schultz, Jameson Hunt, and Timo Helbling. That is a huge improvement. As for scoring depth, the following names have at least 20 points: Alexander Ovechkin (duh), Alexander Semin, Chris Clark, Matt Pettinger, Kris Beech, Brian Pothier and Boyd Gordon. While that isn't much, check out last year; Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus, Jeff Halpern, Brian Willsie, Clark, Pettinger, Ben Clymer, Brian Sutherby, Jamie Heward, and Brooks Laich. Only Ovechkin, Clark, Pettinger, Clymer, Sutherby, and Laich are still on the roster. Either way you look at it, this team is good (better than last year, at least).

- Ryan Smyth gets traded. Honestly, nobody at all thought this was going to happen except for Kevin Lowe. I saw a comic example, where it was a big Oilers logo with a hole through the middle. Smyth was the heart, soul, muscle, scoring, leader, and just about everything else of the Oilers. He was 'Captain Canada' for crying out loud! And simply because of a glitched contract extension, the next thing you know, he's in the wrong kind of blue and orange. Despite this, Smyth hasn't slowed down a bit. He's going at a point-per-game in NY, with 2 goals and 6 points in 6 games. Smyth will be a UFA this summer. He has the biggest team spirit of modern hockey players, but after that treatment from Lowe, Smyth will almost certainly sign with either the Islanders or another team besides Edmonton.

- Jeff Hamilton has a five-point game. Jeff who? The 29-year old Hamilton was an Islanders prospect stuck deep in the system when he was called up for 13 games last year. He scored 8 points, and, while that isn't very big, drew the interest of the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton slid right in, playing anywhere from the point on the power-play, to right wing on the fourth line, or left wing on the second line. He has 17 goals and 33 points through 58 games, but drew a lot of attention when he scored a hat-trick and 2 assists during a 7-5 Hawks win over the Phoenix Coyotes. Not to mention, that was his second hat trick of the year, and it had his team-leading 4th game-winner. Could he have big things to come? Or will he be a one-hit wonder?

- Kristian Huselius becoming consistent. I hope you don't get annoyed by my coverage of Huselius so much, but he is one of my new favorite players. Prior to the lockout, Huselius was a promising player with a lot of inconsistency. He had a good rookie year in 01-02, scoring 23 goals and 45 points. The next year, he fell a little, only scoring 20 times on 43 points. Then, the year before the lockout, he especially struggled, only scoring only 10 times on 31 points. This showed signs 0f a flop. However, Huselius regained his scorer status in 05-06 by scoring 20 goals and 47 points. This year, he is proving to the Calgary Flames that he was a good pick-up. Playing behind Alex Tanguay, Huselius has still been a point-per-game player. Tanguay has controlled top line time because he gives Jarome Iginla a true playmaker (see 50 assists), but Huselius provides all the goals from the left side. He currently has 30 goals and 69 points in 69 for the Flames. The points are only the start though. Before this season, Huselius' career high in plus/minus was +2, and he had been as low as -11. But now, Huselius is at a respectable +19. He also has a great shooting percentage, scoring on 20.8% of his 144 shots.
Wow, that was a lot of writing. Hope you enjoyed it!


What happened to the big names?

Before the lockout, you could look at the names on each roster and predict who has a great season. Seriously, I'll go name by name for the 03-04 season. Anaheim had Sergei Fedorov, Atlanta had Heatley and Kovalchuk, Boston had Thornton and Samsonov, Buffalo had Drury, the list goes on and on. Here are some "big-name, big year" players who aren't following expectations.
Todd Bertuzzi- Well, Bertuzzi's reason for struggling is obvious, he has had back injuries that limited him to 7 games. But last year, despite 71 points in 82 games, he still didn't show that trademark mean streak. Now with the Detroit Red Wings, he must have a comeback year to prove that he is still good for the NHL.
Jani Rita- This guy was big-name in terms of prospects, but after 66 NHL games and only 14 points, I wonder if he will ever get a full time job. He could become another Alex Daigle, but I think he's a big flop.
Roman Hamrlik- Formerly one of the Islanders' big four defensemen, Hamrlik seems to have lost his touch. After being a 35-65-point scorer in Tampa Bay, Edmonton, and New York, Hamrlik went down to 27 points in 05-06. An while he could reach 35-points again, he has overall been a disappointment.
Tuomo Ruutu- Injuries? Bah, Ruutu still hasn't lived up to his hype when he is healthy. Projected as a 50-60 point scorer after a 23-goal, 44-point rookie year, he has succumbed to the injury bug, and that has severly hurt his production. Limited to 5 points in 15 games last year, and 35 in 58 this year, where did the almost-Calder winner go?
Jeff Halpern- As much as I hate to downplay Halpern, the former Capitals captain is way below expectations. Halpern was signed to the Stars expected to be a third-line offense booster with second-line capability if Lindros went down. Instead, he has only 6 goals and 22 points in 65 games, and hasn't even displayed that much leadership. Unless he does well in the playoffs, he might be let go next season.
Mike Comrie- Another player who has had a disapointing season, Comrie is well below predictions. After last year's 30 goals and 60 points, many saw Comrie as a 1st-line center for Phoenix and a strong player overall. However, Comrie had only 7 goals and 20 points in 24 games to start the year with the Coyotes, and was traded to Ottawa. He did have a strong start with the Senators, scoring 2 assists in his first game, but has since tailed off to have a total of 8 goals and 14 points in 29 games with Ottawa.
These players are just a few among many who haven't delivered to their names.


First NHL Game

Well, believe it or not, I finally went to an NHL game. It was probably the most thrilling experience of my life, since riding The Titan at Six Flags theme park.

I got to watch one of the better played games by the New York Islanders, and against one of the most famous players in the NHL, Alexander Ovechkin and his Capitals. The final score was 5-2, hinting that the Islanders dominated the game, but there was more to it than just numbers.

The Capitals actually tried to make a comeback, going from 4-0 to 4-2 in 5 minutes. But, it didn't help enough. The Isles truly dominated the first 10 minutes, scoring 2 goals on 3 shots, while the Caps were scoreless on 5. A true team support was felt, because every two minutes or so a fan would start a "Let's go Islanders (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap,)" cheer. It seemed to have a good effect on the team, because there was a lot of hard, clean hits.

In the first period, I saw my first goal on a nice game of catch that turned into a Mike Sillinger goal.

Then, after a flurry of great saves by Rick 'DP' DiPietro, the Isles struck again, after Andy Hilbert blasted the puck so hard, it made him fall over. Then, the physical play got serious when an Islander knocked a Capital in mid-ice, and it appeared to injure him. Islanders fans were screaming "Dive!", but the referee called a penalty.

The second period was also exciting, as the Islanders got a highlight-reel goal from Jason Blake. Blake received a good pass from Ryan Smyth, and Blake made an amazing deke around Brent Johnson for the third goal. That got everybody on their feet for about two minutes, and almost got rid of my voice. Then, Marc-Andre Bergeron complied to fans shouts when he blasted the puck from the point. The Islanders had been passing on several good attempts, but when everybody screamed "SHOOT!" when Bergeron got the puck, he did, and the Isles got ahead by 4-0.

In the 3rd period, I got to see Ovechkin score a nice goal, catching up to a loose puck, turn sharply, and score on the rebound after DiPietro made the initial save. On the next Capitals goal, Donald Brashear caught DP at a bad angle and scored, but then added his traditional mean streak by punching Brendan Witt in the face. Witt left the ice with a trainer, appearing to favor his right leg, but returned later in the game and even made a nice hit on Ovechkin. In a last ditch effort, Brent Johnson was pulled for an extra attacker, but Jason Blake sent a puck between a Capital defender's legs to get his second goal of the night, and 35th of the year.

Of course, after the game I wanted to get a player's autograph. I joined a large crowd to wait for Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals, but surprisingly, they decided to take a fan-proof exit and get on the bus that way. Despite that small setback, I joined a crowd that waited for the Islanders players to drive out in their cars and stop to sign autograph. I watched as 4 cars, including Randy Robitaille and two other unidentifiable players, drove by without stopping. Then, the hero of the game decided that he would save the day for some hopeful fans. Jason Blake and his sports car drove up and Blake got out to sign autographs for at least 50 fans. It was as if Elvis were to pull over in a small Nashville town. Blake was practically mobbed with T-shirts, pictures, and anything else an autograph could get on. My Dad quickly grabbed the piece of paper I had especially saved for autographs, and held it up where Blake could reach. I was also holding out my hat, just as a back-up, but once I saw Jason Blake grab that piece of paper the hat was on my head so I could hold on to that autographed piece of paper as tightly as possible.

This experience was the best thing that could happen to any young hockey fan. I found my passion for hockey rising and rising, and now I can't wait to go to another game.


Simon-Hollweg is the new Bertuzzi-Moore

Last night's Rangers/Islanders game was actually turning out great. There was very little nastiness, and each team was doing good on the power-play and penalty-kill. Paul Mara showed his team that he truly would help them more than Aaron Ward did, and Chris Simon scored a good goal.
Then, it happened.
In the Islanders defensive zone, Ryan Hollweg and Chris Simon chased the puck towards the corner. Hollweg, making a smart play, made a nice, clean hit on Simon and proceeded to follow the puck. Simon was a bit shaken by the hit, but should have have left it alone. Instead, Simon found Hollweg, skated up, and two-handed Hollweg in the face/neck. Hollweg immediately went down, clutching his face with both hands. As the trainer rushed over and talked to Hollweg, checking to see that he was still conscious, blood could be seen dripping from his lower-face area and on to the ice. Hollweg was rushed to the dressing room as soon as he could walk, while Simon was given a five-minute match penalty and thrown out of the game.
Reporters found Simon, and he said only that he was disappointed that he let his team down, and would speak to the league about his bound-to-come suspension before talking to Hollweg. It made ESPN radio at all hours, from the time of the game, to 3:00 AM, to 6:00 in the morning. Everyone was either disgusted, shocked, horrified, or something along those lines. It was inevitably compared to the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore debacle, and, ironically, came on the 3rd anniversary of that same event.
I, for one, am extremely terrified that such things can happen out of a hard, clean hit. How can you justify that at all? Unless there was some hidden comment by Hollweg, a severe insult, then there was no reason to go after him like that. It was ruthless, and really worse than the Bertuzzi event. In the case of Bertuzzi, it was a punch that can slightly be justified because of Moore's less harmful hit on Markus Naslund a week before. It was still awful, but it had more of a reason. Watching the Hollweg hit, it was absolutely ruthless. Simon was hit cleanly in to the boards, was a little dazed, he did fall down and grabbed his head a little, but then to just wait until Hollweg came near and smack him in the face? That was terrible, I'm absolutely disgusted. I say it should be a suspension for the last 15 regular season games, probably the playoffs too, and in to next season. It was absolutely outrageous.


EHM Updates

Well, here's something you haven't heard about lately.
Pittsburgh- The SuperPens are doing okay. I now regret the signing of Yanic Perrault, he has only scored 10 points. I put both my goalies up for grabs, but it didn't work in time. I will probably make some big moves in the offseason.
Rimouski- Oh wait, I was fired form this one.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton- Oops, fired again.
Prince Albert- Actually, I wasn't fired from this one, although my board of directors has sometimes not been pleased. I am trying to move Ryan DePape, but the trade deadline has passed.
Oshawa- Not gone yet, however, thanks to John Tavares being gone on international play for a long time, I went down below .500 for a while and might not make the playoffs.
St. Louis- This team is actually looking good for next year if I keep most of my players. I signed Martin Rucinsky recently, and he has scored 25 points in 27 games. Even better, I picked up Ryan Smyth off of waivers, and he has scored 21 points in 16 games, including 13 goals. Fernando Pisani and Bobby Holik were also claimed from waivers, and while their offensive output (12 points for Holik in 24 games, 9 points for Pisani in 17 games) hasn't been as spectacular as Smyth and Rucinsky, they still provide good play. I did lose Peter Senja to waivers to clear cap space.
Phoenix- This team is doing way better than the real one. I am currently at 39-29-7, or something close to that, and only needed 2 waiver pick-ups. Trent Whitfield came for a draft pick, and Peter Senja came from waivers. Hannu Toivenen has been great in a long emergency call-up, going 11-7-3 in 25 games, and I will probably keep him and send Phillip Suave down to the minors, because he has a 3-4-2 record in 10 games.
That's all of EHM for now.
- Craig Conroy is having one of the best turnaround seasons in the NHL. Don't think so? Try 5 goals and 16 points in 52 games with the Kings, but now 5 goals and 14 points in 16 games as a Flame. That goes with being -13 as a King, but +4 as a Flame, a 6.8 shooting percentage with the Kings but a 23.8 percentage with the Flames. Other Flames that are really one fire; Dion Phaneuf (just 5 points away from career high in 17 less games, no sophomore slump to be found), Kristian Huselius (The way I've covered him, you've got to know how good he is), Alex Tanguay (Good thing he didn't go to center, left-winger once again over a point-per-game), Jarome Iginla (without an injury, he would be at 85-90 points, still has 76 in 55 games).
Got to go, I'll get back to publishing regularly tomorrow.

Final Deadline Analysis

I will give a team-by-team analysis for each trade performed, and how it has/how I predict it turn out.
Anahiem- The Ducks were relatively quiet during the actual regular season. They shipped off Stanislav Chistov and Todd Fedoruk in minor deals, acquiring draft picks. They also acquired George Parros from Colorado. Parros added relatively nothing to the Ducks, other than replacing Fedoruk as resident fighter. Due to injuries, they added Ric Jackman from Florida for a 7th round pick in 07. They switched prospects with Nashville, sending Chris Durno for Shane Endicott, but that had no impact either. Mark Hartigan and Joe Motzko were acquired from Columbus for Zenon Konopka and Curtis Glencross, but each of the incoming players were sent to Portland (AHL). Endicott was sent to the Stars for future considerations, so we will have to see who they end up receiving. Then, in a small shocker, they sent talented rookie Shane O'Brien to the Lightning for goaltending prospect Gerald Coleman. So far, it has weakened the 3rd defense pair, but shouldn't be too bad. On deadline day, they sent Michael Wall, an obscure goalie prospect, to Colorado for Brad May, apparently thinking that Parros doesn't fight enough. They also shipped Joe Rullier to the Lightning for Doug O'Brien, a minor-league player who won't help much. Overall, the Ducks stayed quieter than expected, and it may reflect poorly in the playoffs.
Atlanta- The Thrashers made some pretty good deals to boost them into the playoffs for the first time this season. They first upgraded there depth, sending prospect forwards Kyle Wanvig and Stephen Baby to the Lightning for defenseman Andy Delmore and center Andre Deveaux. A smart deal they made was to boost their two-way play by acquiring Eric Belanger from Nashville for Vitaly Vishenvski. Belanger has helped the penalty-kill a good deal, and tries to provide offense. Then the Thrashers really got started, replacing Vishnevski with Alexei Zhitnik from Philadelphia. They did have to give up Braydon Coburn in that deal, but Zhitnik will help.
The next day, they received scoring winger Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis for Glen Metropolit and a herd of draft picks. Depending on who the Blues draft, and where Tkachuk signs next year, this could be the best or worst move the Thrashers ever made. Then, on deadline day, they shipped top prospect Alex Bourret to the Rangers for Pascal Dupuis, who will replace Metropolit. If the Thrash don't go deep in the playoffs, fans will be unhappy.
Boston- This team probably expected to make the playoffs back in November, when they shipped a couple of draft picks to Anahiem for depth player Stanislav Chistov. Chistov only provides low scoring, and didn't help the Bruins go anywhere. They also tried to help the goaltending, acquiring Phil Suave from Phoenix, but he never helped either, and it cost them Tyler Redenbach. So, the Bruins became sellers. Yan Stastny was sent to St. Louis for a 5th round pick in 07, while depth defenseman Wade Brookbank went to Pittsburgh for future considerations. Young D-man Milan Jurcina went to Washington for a 4th rounder in 08. Then, the B's made a small switch to buyers when Brandon Bochenski was received from Chicago for Kris Versteeg and a conditional draft pick. Bochenski has brought some offense, but is still young. But, they resumed to selling when Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau went to the Calgary Flames for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew. Ference has come up with some solid play, but can't be relied upon so heavily. Kobasew is out indefinitely with injuries, but is signed through next season and could help then. The B's made two big moves on deadline day with the acquisition of Aaron Ward from the Rangers for Paul Mara, and Ward should provide consistency, although a lack of offense, to the B's defense. They also sent highly touted Brad Boyes to St. Louis for Dennis Wideman. Wideman is a nice young defender with the ability to give 20 minutes a night, so he should help. Overall, the Bruins are looking to the future, and they hope it will be bright.
Buffalo- The Sabres were inactive for most of the season, but made several big deals on deadline day. First, they acquired goaltender Ty Conklin from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 5th round draft pick in 07. Conklin will be a good backup, but hasn't had much experience and flopped largely in last years playoffs. That deal was apparently in preparation for dealing Martin Biron to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2nd round pick in 07. These two trades combined together are kind of neutral, because while essentially swapping a 5th round pick for a 2nd round pick helps, Conklin for Biron is sending inexperienced youth for experienced youth. But the Sabres weren't done there. The next trade was to send Jiri Novotny and a 1st round pick to Washington for Dainius Zubrus and Timo Helbling. Zubrus was a good acquisition, and he always plays well when surrounded by skill, and the Sabres have skill. Helbling is a potential 3rd pairing defenseman who might help in later years. They also sent a 4th round pick to Nashville for Mikko Lehtonen. Lehtonen will provide good insurance while Spacek is down, and will stay as an extra when he returns. Clearly, the Sabres want to win now, and they probably won't get a major player in the draft unless a late gem appears.
Calgary- The Flames bolstered up this year, and could make a good playoff run. They stayed quiet until making a trade with Los Angeles. The Flames re-acquired Craig Conroy from the Kings for Jamie Lundmark and several picks. Conroy has since boosted the offense and paired with Kristian Huselius to provide a strong second line. Next, the Boston trade. Acquiring Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew is a big upgrade. Stuart has given them quality minutes so far, and has some playoff experience in his books. Primeau, expected to be the kind of 'other' player in the deal, has provided some extra unexpected offense, and has served the team well. The team then made one small deal, acquiring David Hale and a 5th round pick from New Jersey for a 3rd rounder. The Flames are looking good.
Carolina- The Canes have picked up a few pieces in order to return to the playoff hunt. They started off loud, trading over-paid Oleg Tverdovsky and top prospect Jack Johnson to Los Angeles for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger. Gleason has provided some solid defensive play, but Belanger has moved elsewhere. Brad Isbister and Derrick Walser were moved in minor deals involving prospects and draft picks. They did make an interesting move due to injuries, acquiring Dennis Siedenberg from Phoenix for Kevyn Adams. Siedenberg has since become an extra after everbody got healthy, but was good while he was used. Then comes the Belanger deal, kind of a three-way that involved Eric Belanger being sent to Nashville for the return of Josef Vasicek. Belanger was then sent to Atlanta. Vasicek is okay, he has scored 2 points 8 games. The Canes made one last big deal, stealing Anson Carter away from the Blue Jackets, and only giving up a 5th round draft pick in return. Carter was expected to help score, but has yet to get a point in two games with Carolina. Overall, the Hurricanes want to make the playoffs this year, but are ready for the future if that goal can't be reached.
Chicago- The Hawks have been sellers almost all year. There first deal was to send Sebastien Caron, Chris Durno, and Matt Keith to Anaheim for Pierre Parenteau and Bruno St. Jacques. Parenteau has been useful as a call-up, but not much has come from St. Jacques. They then sent Brandon Bochenski to Boston for prospect Kris Versteeg and a conditional pick in 08. Then, at the deadline, they became more active. They sent Bryan Smolinski to Vancouver for a 2nd round pick, and made a three-way deal with Philadelphia and Detroit. They re-acquired Kyle Calder from the Flyers for Lasse Kukkonen, and then sent Calder up to Detroit for Jason Williams. Williams will provide more scoring than Calder, but otherwise brings the same role. Then they sent Karl Stewart and a 6th-round pick to Tampa Bay for winger Nikita Alexeev. These deals are good for the future, although they didn't get anything on D to replace Kukkonen. Colorado- The Avs mostly made minor deals this year, and didn't upgrade a whole lot. George Parros was sent to Anaheim for some draft picks, but then stayed silent until the deadline. There they sent oft-injured Brad May to Anahiem for prospect Michael Wall, and acquired minor-league player Scott Parker from the Sharks for a 6th round pick in 08. Overall, the Avs stayed relatively the same, and won't make the playoffs unless a large run comes.
Columbus- The Blue Jackets weren't specifically sellers or buyers. Their first deal involved minor-league players, as they sent Eric Boguniecki to the Islanders for Ryan Caldwell. They also recieved Derrick Walser from Carolina for Mark Flood in an exchange of relatively unused players. They received 2 youngsters, Zenon Konopka and Curtis Glencross, from Anahiem in exchange for Mark Hartigan and Joe Motzko. Konopka and Glencross have proved good for the future. They received a 5th round pick in 2008 for Anson Carter, but that deal will probably turn against them. Ty Conklin, the 3rd string goalie, went to Buffalo for a 5th rounder this year. If they have a good draft, the Jackets will be okay, but they added almost nothing for next year.
Dallas- The Stars have made some moves, but not many. The first trade they made, at the beginning of the year, was to ship Janne Niinimaa and a 5th rounder in 07 to Montreal for Mike Ribeiro and a 6th round pick in 08. So far, Ribeiro is one of the leading playmakers on the Stars, and has stayed healthy despite lots of time. They then stayed silent until mid-February, sending youngster Mathias Tjarnqvist and the 1st round pick in 07 to Phoenix for Ladislav Nagy. Nagy hasn't had a lot of time with Dallas, but should prove to be a nice player. They picked up prospect Shane Endicott from Anaheim for future considerations, but didn't do anything else major until the deadline. Then, on the 27th, they made a blockbuster. They sent Jaroslav Modry, Johan Fransson, and 3 draft picks to Los Angeles for Mattias Norstrom, prospect Konstantin Pushkarev, and 2 draft picks. This trade has yet to show results, as it is only 2 days after the trade, and Norstrom is injured. Pushkarev is in the AHL, and will do great no matter which team he is on. He is extremely versatile and that is just what the Stars need. The Stars will make the playoffs unless a huge slump occurs, but if there is a Sidney Crosby in the next 2-3 drafts, the Stars won't get him.
Detroit- The Wings have made several deals this year, and some are sure to have large impact. The first trade they completed was to send prospect Drew McIntyre to Vancouver for a conditional draft pick. They also sent Jason Williams to Chicago for Kyle Calder on the day before the deadline. But it was on the deadline that they made the biggest move. They sent two conditional draft picks to Florida for winger Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi is injured right now, which is why the picks are conditional. But if Bertuzzi re-becomes Big Bert of old, then the Wings made a steal. Although the moves are few, they should have big impact.
Edmonton- This team pulled of some shockers and blanks on its way out of the playoffs. They stayed quiet for a while, trying to determine their standing in the playoffs. Once they realized they were out, the selling started. First, offensive D-man Marc-Andre Bergeron to the New York Islanders for prospect Denis Grebeshkov. Hopefully Grebeshkov will come to the Oil soon, because he is projected as a 50-60 point blueliner. Then, in a last minute earth-shaking trade, emotional leader Ryan Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders for prospects Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, and a first-round pick in 07. This sent a message to the world saying, the Edmonton Oilers are solely focused on the future.
Florida- This team was an active seller throughout the year, especially at the deadline. First, they sent defenseman Ric Jackman to Anaheim for a 7th round pick in 07, but that was the only move before February. Then, Gary Roberts was sent to Pittsburgh for prospect Noah Welch, and long-injured Todd Bertuzzi went to Detroit for two conditional draft picks. They made on last deal with Pittsburgh, sending young defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski for 4th round pick in 07. The Panthers, realizing that a playoff berth is no longer in sight, are relying on the draft to help them.
Los Angeles- Another team bent towards selling rather than buying. They first sent Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason to Carolina for Oleg Tverdovsky and prospect Jack Johnson. Tverdovsky has since been an extra for L.A., occasionally being sent to Manchester (AHL). Johnson is currently playing for a national development team, but could be NHL ready next year. Then, they sent goalie prospect Ryan Munce to Tampa Bay for a 4th rounder in 08. Then they sent center Craig Conroy, who appeared to be struggling, back to Calgary for Jamie Lundmark for a 4th round pick in 07 and a 2nd rounder in 08. Then, after recently re-signing him, they sent the ever-heard Sean Avery along with prospect John Seymour to the New York Rangers for Jason Ward and prospects Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek. They sent away blueliner Brent Sopel to Vancouver for an 07 or 08 draft pick, and another 08 pick. Then came the blockbuster, sending away captain Mattias Norstrom and prospect Konstantin Pushkarev, and 2 draft picks, to Dallas for Jaroslav Modry, prospect Johan Fransson, and 3 draft picks. Modry has yet to play a game for L.A. this year, but was a key D-man in his last stint with the team. They sent Jason Ward to his 3rd team this year, receiving a 5th round pick from Tampa Bay in return. They made one last deal, replacing Sopel with Jamie Heward from Washington, giving up a 5th round pick in 08. The Kings should have a strong future.
Minnesota- Compared to last year, and the off-season, the Wild were about as loud as a sailboat in the middle of an aircraft carrier platoon. The first trade they made was to send winger Pascal Dupuis to New York for Adam Hall. Hall has helped a penalty-kill that was already spectacular, and tries to add offense. They also added Dominic Moore, another key player for the PK, from Pittsburgh for a draft pick. That would prove to be the only deal they made. However, this team is already strong and should go at least as far as they did in 2003.
Montreal- The Canadiens have made several moves this year, yet continue to move in and out of playoff contention. Their first move was to send underachieving center Mike Reibero to Dallas for defenseman Janne Niinimaa. Niinimaa isn't bad, but he hasn't helped the way he should have. Then, in a depth deal, they acquired defenseman Patrick Traverse from San Jose for defenseman Matheiu Biron. The next move was to go for youth, as veteran defenseman Craig Rivet and a 08 5th round draft pick was sent to San Jose for youngster Josh Gorges and a 1st round pick in 07. Gorges has not yet played for Montreal, and struggled in San Jose, but perhaps new scenery will re-track hi promising career. Those were the only moves the Canadiens dared to make, but they will help once the draft comes around.
Nashville- This team has made some major roster improvements that should lead to a Cup run. First, a small prospect deal sent Shane Endicott to Anahiem for Chris Durno. Then, struggling center Josef Vasicek back to Carolina for Eric Belanger. Having previously told Belanger that he wouldn't be staying, they dealt him straight to the Atlanta Thrashers for defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski. Through six games, Vishnevski has kept up his crushing hits and even managed to register an assist. Then came the biggest move of the 'new' NHL. The Predators sent winger Scottie Upshall, prospect D-man Ryan Parent, and 1st and 3rd round draft picks in 07 to Philadelphia for Peter Forsberg. So far, Forsberg has helped out reasonably well, scoring 1 goal and 3 points in 6 games, but he received huge criticism for falling flat on his face during a shootout. That would prove to be all the Preds needed to do this year, and they should have a great rest of the year.
New Jersey- The Devils mostly made small moves this season, because their roster is tight. they made a small deal, sending Vladimir Malakhov and a conditional draft pick to San Jose for Alexander Korolyuk and Jim Fahey. Korolyuk stayed in Russia, and Fahey is in the minors. Then, they attempted to trade Korolyuk back to San Jose, but it was voided because Koroyluk stayed in Russia. They were also quiet at the deadline, making just one deal. They sent defenseman David Hale, a young player who didn't fit in, to Calgary along with a 5th round pick in 07, for a 3rd rounder in 07. The Devils will likely have the same results as last year. They were a strong team surrounded by stronger ones.
New York Islanders- This team made several good deals that few people expected. First, GM Garth Snow made a smart move by dumping veteran Alexei Zhitnik to the Flyers for promising youngster Freddy Meyer and a conditional draft pick. So far, Meyer has proved to be a consistent youngster with big potential. Then, four days later, the Flyers and Islanders swapped again when underachieving Mike York went to Philly for Randy Robitaille. Robitaille has since become one of the best two-way forwards on the Islanders. The Isles swapped minor-leaguers with Ottawa, sending Matt Koalska for Tomas Malec. Malec has yet to play for the big club. In February, the big trades started coming, with Marc-Andre Bergeron being acquired from Edmonton for Denis Grebeshkov. Bergeron has done well, scoring 3 assists in 4 games with the Isles. Garth Snow also added Richard Zednik from Washington for a 2nd round pick in 07. Zednik has played just one game, but managed 3 shots and a plus-1 rating. Finally, in a last minute, trrade-deadline shocker, Ryan Smyth was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, and the 07 1st round pick. While this move is risky (O'Marra and Nilsson were 2 of the best prospects, and Smyth is a UFA this year), it shows Garth Snow's want of winning. Smyth should make his debut tonight. The Isles could make the playoffs this year, and are doing great.
New York Rangers- Compared to the Islanders, the Rangers are at the other end of the spectrum. They started out well, but most of these deals were forced by losing. Sean Avary and prospect John Seymour were acquired from L.A. in return for prospects Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek. Avery has helped some, but not a whole lot. They also received Pascal Dupuis for Adam Hall, but that didn't work too well. They acquired Paul Mara for Aaron Ward in a trade with Boston. Mara has not debuted yet, but could tonight. Dupuis was sent to Atlanta for to prospect Alex Bourret, so the Rangers do realize that they need the future. The Rangers are rebuilding once more.
Ottawa- The Sens didn't make a whole lot of deals, but some of them will make a difference. They first made a simple trade, sending Tomas Malec to the New York Islanders for Matt Koalska, in a deal that wouldn't do anything. They acquired Mike Comrie from Phoenix for lost prospect Alexei Kaigorodov, and Comrie has done fine. They also made a small move on deadline day, acquiring Oleg Saprykin and a 7th round pick in 07 from the Phoenix Coyotes for a 2nd round pick in 08. That would be all for the Sens, who did almost nothing to help their roster. The Sens are on pace for the playoffs, but might not go far.
Philadelphia- This Flyers team were sellers if there ever were sellers. Right off the bat, they re-acquired Todd Fedoruk from Anahiem for a 4th round pick in 07. Fedoruk has done ok as a Flyer, when you compare him to the rest of the team. Then they let youngster Freddy Meyer and a conditional draft pick be swept up by the Islanders for veteran Alexei Zhitnik. They also recieved Mike York for Randy Robitaille in a second swap with the Islanders. Then, they performed the Forsberg trade with Nashville, recieving Scottie Upshall, prospect Ryan Parent, and 1st and 3rd round draft picks in the upcoming draft of 07. Upshall has done ok, scoring 2 goals and 4 points in 6 games as a Flyer. Parent will be a good defenseman soon, and, depending on when the 1st rounder comes in, could help the Flyers snag two of the best players in the upcoming draft, such as Logan Coutoure or Alexei Cheraponov. The Flyers built up their future even more when they acquired Braydon Coburn from Atlanta for Zhitnik. Coburn did ok in 1 game as a Flyer so far. Also, the Flyers sent Kyle Calder back to Chicago for young Lasse Kukkonen and another 3rd round pick. Kukkonen also played just one Flyers game, and did fine. Still, the Flyers weren't done. They sent a 2nd round pick in 07 to Buffalo for Martin Biron, which is kind of a surprising deal. Biron is a possible rental, but only someone blind and deaf couldn't tell that the Flyers are out of the playoffs. Either way, Biron is already starting to help. He one his first game in net for the musical-chairs-of-goalies Flyers. With all the moves that Philadelphia made, they are sure to make a strong, far away future.
Phoenix- Another seller that knew they wouldn't make it. They first traded goalie Phil Suave to Boston for prospect Tyler Redenbach. Then, they acquired a better goaltender in Mikael Tellqvist from Toronto for winger Tyson Nash and a 4th round draft pick. Tellqvist has a 10-8-2 record in 21 games for Phoenix. They also sent Mike Comrie to Ottawa for Alexei Kaigorodov. Kaigorodov is still a prospect, and has some bad history with the NHL. Next, they sent defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to Carolina for veteran center Kevyn Adams. Adams has helped some, with 3 assists in 16 games, but is often injured. They also sent scoring-winger Ladislav Nagy, who had fallen foul with the team due to a lack of defensive play, to Dallas for Mathias Tjarnqvist and a 1st round draft pick. Tjarnqvist has 1 goal and 3 points in 8 games with the Dogs. They also sent winger Oleg Saprykin and a 7th round pick in 07 to Ottawa for a 2nd round pick in 08. Then, tough guy Georges Laraque went to Pittsburgh for a 3rd round pick in 08 and prospect Dan Carcillo. The last move was to send veteran center Yanic Perrault and an 08 5th round pick to Toronto for youngster for Brendan Bell and a 2nd rounder in 08. Bell has done ok, but only in 1 game. Phoenix is building towards the far future.
Pittsburgh- A team originally expected to be in the Flyers position, the SuperPens are on their way to the playoffs. They stayed quiet until deadline day, but then made a plethora of moves. They first acquired Gary Roberts from Florida for D-man Noah Welch. Roberts has scored a goal and two assists in 3 games with Pittsburgh. Then, Domininc Moore was sent to Minnesota for a 3rd round pick in 07. This was kind of a confusing move, as Moore was a key defensive player for the Pens. But, they did add a needed piece when Georges Laraque was added from Phoenix for a 08 3rd round pick and prospect Dan Carcillo. Laraque hasn't scored in his 3 games with Pittsburgh, but he provided his signature toughness against other teams. Joel Kwiatkowski was added from Florida to essentially replace Welch, and he cost a 4th rounder in 07. He hasn't played for Pittsburgh yet. Nolan Schaefer was added as a 3rd goalie in case Jocelyn Thibault goes down. The SuperPens should be in the playoffs this year.
San Jose- The Sharks are on their way to the playoffs once again. They traded Alexander Korolyuk and Jim Fahey to New Jersey for Vladimir Malakhov and a conditional pick. They then tried to get Korolyuk back from NJ for a conditional pick, but that trade was voided. They added Bill Guerin from San Jose for Ville Nieminen and prospect Jay Barriball, plus a 1st round pick in 07. Guerin has since played 3 games for San Jose, hasn't scored, but has a plus-4 rating and 7 shots. In response to losing the first-rounder, they dealt away prospect Nolan Schaefer for a 7th round pick in 07, and sent minor-leaguer Scott Parker to Colorado for a 6th rounder in 08. Despite a lack of moves, the Sharks are playing strong.
St. Louis- The Blues dealt away big names in order to build up for the future. Two days before the deadline, the Blues dealt Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta for Glen Metropolit, a 1st round draft pick in 07, a 3rd rounder in 07, a 2nd rounder in 08, and a conditional first rounder in 08. That's one heck of a draft the Blues will have. Metropolit has played 4 games for the Blues and gotten 1 assist. Then, Bill Guerin was dealt to San Jose for Ville Nieminen, a 1st rounder in 07, and prospect Jay Barriball. Neiminen has played 3 games without a point in a Blues uniform. Finally, Brad Boyes was added from Boston for young D-man Dennis Wideman. Boyes has 2 points in 3 games with the Blues. The Blues were shrewd, adding a lot of draft picks, but also adding players in case the draft failed.
Tampa Bay- The Lightning were restricted by the cap, but made small moves that should help. They traded Darren Reid, a depth player, to Philadelphia for prospect Daniel Corso. Corso is in the minors, and should make the jump soon. They also recieved two forward prospects from Atlanta, Kyle Wanvig and Stephen Baby, for depth players Andy Delmore and Andre Deveaux. Wanvig was in the minors with Atlanta, but has played four scoreless, but well played, games with Tampa. They traded goalie prospect Gerald Coleman and an 07 first round draft pick for Shane O'Brien and a third round pick. O'Brien has provided some much needed offense from the blueline, with an assist in 4 games. He also has 16 PIM's for an average of 4 per game with Tampa, so he helps on the physical side. They added Karl Stewart and a 6th round pick in 08 from Chicago for Nikita Alexeev. Stewart has been a energy guy on the fourth line, playing 3 games and getting 2 PIM's. Stewart could've tied an NHL record if he had played any games for Anahiem, as this is his 4th franchise that he is on the roster, but only the third team he has played games for. They sent minor league defenseman Doug O'Brien to Anahiem for Joe Rullier, but that move has yet to make an impact. A last trade sent a 5th round pick in 07 to L.A. for Jason Ward. Ward has also played for three franchises, and hasn't scored in three games with the Lightning. Tampa is in the push for a playoff spot, but a mistake could be costly.
Toronto- The Leafs didn't make a whole lot of moves. They sent goalie Mikael Tellqvist to Phoenix for Tyson Nash and a 4th round pick in 07, but Nash has remained in the minors. They made just one other move, acquiring Yanic Perrault and a 5th round pick in 08 from Phoenix for Brendan Bell and a 2nd round pick in 08. Perrault has provided some nice play, scoring one goals in 3 games. He also has a shootout goal. Will the Leafs ever be the same franchise?
Vancouver- The Canucks are doing a lot better than last year. They acquired prospect Drew McIntyre from Detroit for a conditional draft pick in 07, but their goaltending is already strong. They swapped prospects with Anahiem, sending Joe Rullier for Colby Gennoway, but that shouldn't make an impact for a while. They re-acquired Brent Sopel from Los Angeles, in return for a 2nd round pick in either 07 or 08, and a 4th round pick in 08. Sopel took the move in stride, getting his 20th assist for a point in four Canuck games. Bryan Smolinski was also added from Chicago for a 2nd round pick in 07, and he has also done well in his new uniform, getting 3 points in 4 games. The Canucks decided that they were tight after that, and they are on their way to the playoffs.
Washington- The Capitals made some surprising moves this year, in order to build up their future. They added youngster Milan Jurcina from Boston for a 4th round pick in 07. Jurcina has made a clear improvement to the blueline, scoring more points (4) in 15 games with Washington than he had (3) in 40 games with Boston. Oft-injured and under-producing winger Richard Zednik was sent to the New York Islanders for a 2nd round pick in 07. D-man Lawrence Nycholat was sent to Ottawa for prospect Andy Hedlund and a 6th round pick in 07. Dainius Zubrus, one of Alexander Ovechkin's good friends, was dealt to Buffalo with Timo Helbling for Jiri Novotny and a 1st round pick in 07. Novotny has a point in 3 games. They also sent defenseman Jamie Heward, an extra since John Erskine was signed by free agency, went to Los Angeles for a 5th round pick in 08. The Caps will have a good draft, but people might want results sooner rather than later.
This report was done over several days starting on the trade deadline, so the stats might be all different. I will write more later today, because I missed so much.