Grand Larseny! Bobcats Netminder Leads them to an Upset Win Over the Top Team in the Nation

Back on January 17th, the Bobcats hosted the then number 1 ranked team in the CJHL, the Brooks Bandits. The Bobcats came out on top of that one for their biggest win of the season by a score of 4-3. 27 days later, they once again played host to the top ranked team in the CJHL, but this time it was the Sherwood Park Crusaders, a team that had beat up on the Bobcats the last time they were in town by a score of 8-1. But this was not the same Bobcats team that the Crusaders faced back on December 22nd.

Alex Danis got things started for the Cats at 13:06 of the 1st period…sort of. Former Crusader Cam Aucoin gained the zone and dished off to Brendan Morrow who put the puck on goal. Danis in front got a stick on it, the save was made by Crusaders starter Jordan Frey, but then deflected off Will Zapernick and into his own net. It doesn’t matter how, it’s how many and the Bobcats had 1. They got a 2nd just before the 1st period ended as Ty Mosimann sent a pass over to Aucoin and he found the back of the net from the slot and the Cats went to the dressing room with a big 2-0 lead.

The Bobcats momentum would carry over to the 2nd period as just 1:54 into the frame as Frey would rob Sam Carper with the initial scoring chance, but then Jared Miller was able to find the rebound and put it in for a 3-0 lead. That would be the end of the night for Jordan Frey who was the recipient of some very bad bounces, and the Crusaders would turn to Carter Gylander for the rest of the night. But it would be the starting netminder at the other end of the ice who was the story in this game, and at 3-0 the game turned into the Garrett Larsen show. Larsen, who was rewarded with his 2nd straight start after one of his finest performances of the season in the Cats win on Saturday, was even better on this night making several tremendous stops to keep it a 3-0 game. Before the period was done, Brendan Morrow would make it a 4-0 game as Gylander had trouble with the Tegan Skehar point shot, and Morrow was there to put it in. 4-0 Cats after 40 minutes, and Larsen was up to 36 saves on the evening.

Even at 4-0, I don’t believe that anyone on the Cats bench assumed the game was done facing the top team in the nation, and as expected the Crusaders came at the Cats hard. It wasn’t until 12:50 of the period, their 45th shot, Gylander out and the Crusaders on the power-play that the Crusaders finally broke through on Larsen as Reid Irwin put in a rebound. Sherwood Park got another quick one off the stick of the leading scorer in the AJHL Arjun Atwal to make it 4-2. The Crusaders continued to put the pressure on, but the Bobcats did a good job from that point defending the 2 goal lead and finally at 18:19 it would be Tanner Mack putting it into the empty net for the Bobcats and putting the game on ice. The Crusaders ended up putting 53 shots on Garrett Larsen by the end of the night, but they could only get two of those pucks past the Wisconsin native, who needless to say was spectacular for the Cats this evening.

I caught up with Bobcats head coach after the game who had these thoughts on his teams performance. “I thought that our guys came prepared to work, and it continued on from last week. I thought we got out shot at the start, but we didn’t give up great chances and we stuck with it. And we’ve talked a lot about throwing pucks towards the net, and we did that and we found ways to convert on their turnovers and score some goals.” I asked Dube specifically about Larsen’s performance. “The tandem that we have back there with JD and Larss is huge, and for Larss to come in again was a big test to go back to back and he came through. Both goalies have everyone’s confidence throughout the room. Tonight Larss came up with some big saves at big times and guys rallied around that.”

The Bobcats will go for their 3rd straight win this Saturday as they head up to Fort McMurray to take on the Oil Barons. Puck drop for that one at the Casman Centre will be 7:30 and you can catch all the action on Hockey TV as Taylor Pope will have the call on that one. The Cats are only in action one more time at home for the 2019-2020 season, that being on Wednesday February 26th as they play host to the Olds Grizzlys. That one will get underway at 7:30, however if you are unable to make it down to the Civic Centre, Shane Tomayer and myself will have the call for you both on Hockey TV, and on the MixLR app!

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The Come Back Cats: Bobcats Rally to Down Drayton Valley

There was 8:52 to play in the 3rd period when Brendan Morrow gained the zone on Saturday night at the Centennial Civic Centre against the Drayton Valley Thunder.  The Thunder had a 2-0 lead.  Shots were 39-24, also in favour of the Thunder.  And Morrow was on his own as the rest of his line-mates were making a change, so he was 1 on 4.  This game simply had a feeling that it just wasn’t going to be the Bobcats night…

 

After a fast paced 1st period between the two teams produced zero’s on the scoreboard, the Thunder got it rolling in the 2nd.  Colson Gegenbach, after hitting the crossbar early in his shift, and then getting stopped point blank by Cats starter Garrett Larsen, refused to be denied as he one-timed a puck that bounced off the boards perfectly for him to hammer home and the Thunder had a 1-0 lead.  The Thunder continued to tilt the ice and finally were rewarded with their 2nd goal of the frame as Bailey Tomminga drilled one past Larsen from the right dot that was in off the back crossbar, wouldn’t be shocked if it made a dent, and the Thunder not only had a 2-0 lead but were all over the Cats.  Shots in the 2nd were 19-9 for the Thunder in the period, and the scoring chances were likely more lopsided than that for Drayton Valley.  Following the game Bobcats head coach Nigel Dube said of the period “I thought in the 2nd period we were awful, and there’s no other way to put it.  We didn’t compete hard, we cheated the game, and they got 2.”

 

As things got going in the 3rd, the Bobcats weren’t able to generate much.  They were executing better, but the ice was still tilted in Drayton Valley’s favour as Larsen was doing everything he could to keep it a 2-0 game, and he did just that making two or three excellent saves, and finished the evening with an outstanding 38 saves on 40 shots sent his way by the Thunder.  Then came that Morrow zone entry…

 

As I said, 1 on 4 didn’t give Morrow many options and the Thunder were able to corral the puck, but couldn’t get it out past Cats defenceman Cole Jungwirth who threw the puck to the slot.  With Morrow having worked his way into the slot, he had the presence of mind to find Chance Adrian, fresh off the bench and all alone behind him in the slot and Adrian buried it to not only make it a 2-1 game but completely ignite his hockey team.  I asked Dube after the game about the impact that goal had on the team.  “I think you would have felt like the game could have been a 4 or 5-0 game before that goal, and then when you cut the lead in half it revives everyone and that was what we said at the media time out.  And then a big power-play.”  That big power-play Dube referenced came with 6:37 to play as the Cats, already with a 5 on 4 advantage caught a break when Drayton Valley got caught with too many men on the ice.  It didn’t take the Cats long as Ty Mosimann cashed on the 5 on 3 and all of a sudden it was a tied game.  But the Cats weren’t done there as just 3:12 later and with only 3:00 to play the Cats won a big draw in the Thunder zone and it would be a shot from the point off the stick of Gunner Kinniburgh finding the back of the net, and the comeback was complete.  The Cats locked things down in the final 2:55 after the Kinniburgh goal and walk out of the Centennial Civic Centre a VERY happy group after the 3-2 victory.

 

“I was proud of our effort and what we did to come back in the 3rd period.  We persevered, and found a way.  It was a gutsy effort and proud of how they responded to the 2nd, and the effort throughout this week was pretty good” Dube said following the game.  1-1-1 record against 3 of the top 5 teams in the AJHL North absolutely is a heck of an effort by the Bobcats.  And not only a good effort, but the one thing that has become very noticeable with this hockey club as the season has moved along is the resiliency.  Early in the season, I don’t believe they come back from a 4-1 deficit in Bonnyville as they did Wednesday night.  Early in the season, I don’t believe they give the Spruce Grove Saints the fits that they did on Friday night.  And early in the season, I don’t believe they fight back from the 2nd period that they had Saturday night to pull out a victory.  They’re really starting to grow as a group.

 

The next time you have the chance to see that growth will be Wednesday night at the Civic Centre when the number one ranked team in the CJHL, the Sherwood Park Crusaders come to town to take on the Bobcats.  The last time the Bobcats took on the number one ranked team in the CJHL was just a little over 3 weeks ago when they defeated the Brooks Bandits by a score of 4-3.  Will history repeat itself?  Puck drop at the Civic Centre will be 7:30 PM, and of course if you can’t make it down to the arena, Shane Tomayer and myself will have all the action for you on Hockey TV, and on the MixLR app!

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Soups Rankings: All-Star Break, 2020

I’ve written so damn much today, rushing to get three different blogs out by the time you’re reading this (with three more on the way, hopefully this week), I’m not going to waste much time on this opening.  Jumping the gun by a week on these rankings with everyone off this past weekend for the All-Star break, much easier to do them when I’m not having to adjust on a night to night basis.

Quickly before I start, I’m essentially ranking my Cup favourites here, and at a certain point (this time around it’s 22) I go from ranking Cup chances to where they are as organizations.  So then it becomes more about where their rebuild is at because those teams aren’t making the playoffs.

 

31. Detroit Red Wings

Last month: 31st

What did I say about them in the previous months?  Go back and read that, I don’t feel like typing it again!

 

30. San Jose Sharks

Last month: 23rd

I gave them this last month, and then Couture got hurt and their season was DOA.  What a fucking mess!  No assets in the system, enormous cap issues, Doug Wilson is a good GM but he got flat out stupid with the Erik Karlsson trade, and then was even more dumb with the Erik Karlsson signing.  You need to go for it when your window is open, but you need to stay calculated and Wilson didn’t, and it may have crippled this organization.  Reminder: The Sens own their 1st round pick this season.

 

29. Los Angeles Kings

Last month: 29th

Same as Detroit, I’ve wrote the same thing on them all season, I’m sure you get it by now.  Things are bleak!

 

28. New Jersey Devils

Last month: 30th

Keep your eye on that Arizona pick as it’s only top 3 protected.  With Kuemper out they’ve been in free fall, and the Devils may end up hitting a home run with the Hall trade thanks to that.

 

27. Anaheim Ducks

Last month: 28th

Congratulations to the Ducks who move up a spot in my rankings thanks to me giving up on the Sharks.  A proud day for Bob Murray and company, no doubt…

 

26. Montreal Canadiens

Last month: 21st

Until they rebuild properly, I’m going to be down on them.  Now is the time to move on a big time rebuild for the Habs, and I’m TERRIFIED that Geoffry Molson won’t do it.  He’ll keep Marc Bergevin employed and they will just keep beating their heads against the wall as an organization.  Some might see this as “shitting” on the Habs, I’m actually pulling for the Habs because I want to see them get back to where they should be which is being a Cup contender.  They aren’t going to do that until they rebuild and not a dip their toe in the water type rebuild they’ve attempted.  Blow it the fuck up.

 

25. Minnesota Wild

Last month: 22nd

Dropped a little this month, that loss to the Panthers right before the break was a backbreaker.  They refuse to rebuild it, and the longer they try to put that off, the years I believe they are adding to the rebuild.  There is still a chance they make the playoffs, but even if they got in they aren’t going anywhere.

 

24. Ottawa Senators

Last month: 24th

I’m sure this one will be the most controversial, but the fact of the matter is that I love where this team is sitting with their rebuild.  As it currently stands, they have a 17% shot at winning the top pick, and I believe they have a chance to have as much as a 21% chance.  To put that in perspective, 31st only gets you 18%.  But just put that aside, this draft is amazing and they’re looking at owning two top 10 picks, and five in the top 62 in what is one of the deepest drafts we’ve seen in the last decade.  Combine that with all the quality kids they already have in the organization and this team is completely loaded moving forward.  They’re not good at the moment, but who cares?!

 

23. New York Rangers

Last month: 25th

I’m not in love with what they have moving forward.  They are ok, they have some decent pieces, but the one guy they have who might have superstar type ability is Kakko, but I’m not sure he can get to that level either.  Now, they can draw UFA’s as well as any team in the league so that has to be factored in, but I don’t know if they are set up right now to be anything more than just a perennial playoff team down the line.

 

22. Buffalo Sabres

Last month: 19th

I really believe that even though they won’t make the playoffs this season, they are finally on the rise.  Bittersweet for Sabres fans perhaps, but I see this as a massive step and perhaps next season they take another one where they’re in the playoffs.

 

21. Chicago Blackhawks

Last month: 27th

They’re coming.  2nd straight season they are making a strong push after looking like they were done.  I still don’t know though.

 

20. Arizona Coyotes

Last month: 16th

This is very dependent on Darcy Kuemper’s return…or lack thereof.  I didn’t buy into Kuemper having the numbers he had, but since he’s gone down so have the Coyotes.  This at least has the potential to get interesting with Taylor Hall.  The way they’re going, they could fall out of it if they don’t get out of this tailspin and if they do, I’m sure John Chayka would visit the possibility of cutting his losses.

 

19. Edmonton Oilers

Last month: 20th

I’m staying reserved on their success despite looking MUCH better in January.  But they also have the most potential to jump up all the way to the top 10 because they are 10 games away from being a buyer.  If they are in it by the deadline (it’s actually 13 games until the deadline, but you get what I’m saying), they’ll buy and then they can add some depth.  If they get depth upfront, this could be a scary team come playoff time.  But they have to make it until the trade deadline and their schedule is pretty tough in the next 10.  One encouraging stat is that they’re 3rd in the West/8th overall in regulation points percentage at .541.  No 3 on 3 or shootouts come playoff time.

 

18. Vegas Golden Knights

Last month: 8th

A big fall down my rankings.  I have to say, I hate this coaching change.  And I worry that this is a rare coaching change that will actually hurt the club rather than help.  I’m not seeing what Peter DeBoer can adjust to make them better.  Gerard Gallant had a system in place that hid their flaws.  The blueline is awful and they are too slow, which Gallant countered by having them play a style where they were constantly moving.  Add to all this, Marc-Andre Fleury’s career year of 2018 isn’t what he is.  This season falls in line more with what he really is.  And Malcolm Subban has never really progressed, so combined it’s not a very good combo.

 

17. Calgary Flames

Last month: 18th

I believe they are the 2nd best team in the division, if not the top team.  But they only have 17 wins in regulation right now.  That’s tied for 22nd in the league.

 

16. Columbus Blue Jackets

Last month: 26th

It is such a GREAT story.  But I just simply don’t buy that they are truly legitimate.  Having said that, this is the value of a great blueline and they perhaps have the most underrated ones in the league.

 

15. New York Islanders

Last month: 12th

I’m not a big believer in them either despite loving what they’ve accomplished with what they have.  Slowly, they are coming back to earth after an incredible start.

 

14. Winnipeg Jets

Last month: 14th

It’s odd.  I shouldn’t like them more than Vegas as right now it’s essentially the same roster, but I like the Jets speed better and I believe the break could be huge for Hellebuyck to get back on track.  But it goes without saying that they better get it together soon.  I don’t want to hear about the Byfuglien situation handcuffing them, they just don’t want to part with one of their top forwards to upgrade the D.  Do it and chase a forward once the Byfuglien situation is resolved, not that hard.

 

13. Philadelphia Flyers

Last month: 15th

I really don’t know what to make of this team.  They’re good, they look like a playoff team, but I wonder if this is what they are built to be is a perennial playoff team and nothing more, which would be pretty disappointing after going through their rebuild.  At least it looks like they’ve FINALLY found their goalie, only took 30 years or so.

 

12. Vancouver Canucks

Last month: 17th

I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the best of this team yet.  The one thing I’d like to see is for them to upgrade the blueline, but I’m not sure what they can do with it.  But they’re really deep up front, good blueline, good goaltending.

 

11. Nashville Predators

Last month: 9th

I’m still not quitting on them, but I’m very close to doing so.  One of the best 5 on 5 teams in the league though so if they can get their special teams figured out under John Hynes then they’ll be a force.

 

10. Toronto Maple Leafs

Last month: 7th

Again, really no different from the Jets and Knights.  They are getting Muzzin back this week which will be massive.  IF they can get in the playoffs (which unfortunately for Leafs fans, it is far from a certainty), then the Morgan Rielly injury could end up being a blessing in disguise as they could put him on LTIR until the end of the season and use that cap money to make a big addition.  But we’ll see if they choose to go that route.  Badly need to upgrade on Michael Hutchinson to give Andersen some rest and get back to the level he’s capable of playing at.

 

9. Colorado Avalanche

Last month: 11th

I love this team and they are going to be a Cup contender VERY soon, I just don’t see them as one quite yet.

 

8. Florida Panthers

Last month: 13th

I am very up and down on this team.  On one hand, if Bobrovsky gets back to form, they’re good enough to win it all.  On the other hand, Bobrovsky has been putrid this season and it isn’t as though they can move him out and upgrade between the pipes.  For now, I’ll go with the former.

 

7. Carolina Hurricanes

Last month: 4th

I don’t really love having them this high to be honest, but they’re a goaltender away.  And this team is LOADED with assets and movable contracts.  So if Eric Tulsky (I mean Don Waddell…) wants to, they can go get a goaltender.  Robin Lehner is apparently their first choice, but Chicago is now in the hunt.  I would bet they are the team that ends up landing Georgiev, who might not seem like a big get but with that team in front of him he could be a game-changer.

 

6. Dallas Stars

Last month: 10th

This team is built for playoff hockey, and they appear headed for a 1st round matchup with the Avs who I love, but I would bet everything I could on the Stars in that series.  The question I have for the Stars is whether or not they can handle the Blues.

 

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

Last month: 5th

Here they come.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you I’ve been saying this all season.  And they’ve overcome adversity this season, overcome the 1st round sweep, they’re a legit contender once again.

 

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Last month: 6th

I’ve probably said this every month this season, I thought they were done.  They’re not done.  And now, that Crosby injury will actually help them as he’ll be fresh as we get into the playoffs.  I believe Jim Rutherford will load up too.  At first glance, they don’t have much cap room, but Alex Galchenyuk is expiring so they can dump his 4.9 million, and there are other things they can also do to free up a lot of money and really load up.  This might be their final shot.

 

3. Boston Bruins

Last month: 2nd

They’re bored.  I’ve debated still having them 1st, but in thinking about the playoffs, they are going to have a tough road even if they cruise into the postseason.  I believe Tampa will catch them for the division crown, but as we know the Bruins are built for the playoffs.

 

2. Washington Capitals

Last month: 3rd

It’s really just the same old, same old for the Caps.  I do wonder if Brian MacLellan will get aggressive at this deadline though with Holtby’s contract being up and the Backstrom extension kicking in next season, this might be their last chance.

 

1. St. Louis Blues

Last month: 1st

At this point, I don’t know who can beat them in the West.  Dallas is maybe best suited to do so, but

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2020 NHL Draft: Mock Draft V.1

Wow.  I was worried this season would be like the last where I had no time to do a top 32 list, and no time to do any mock drafts which are probably what I do best.  So I have to admit, I’m pretty pumped I managed to get a mid-season one out!

You have to understand one thing when reading this: It’s just for fun.  It’s a fun read, lots of people love the draft and love reading mocks.  It also helps fans who blindly say “trade a pick” to put a face to that pick.  All of a sudden, fans aren’t so eager to “trade a pick”.  This is the perfect time to do one though as we’re a little under a month away from the trade deadline.

Be sure to check out my top 32 rankings that I’m also releasing today to read up more on how I feel about each player.

***Standings as of Jan. 27th, 2020 based off points percentage

Logo courtesy of sportslogos.net

1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 24  A: 60  P: 84

Born: 10/11/01, Saint-Eustache, QC

SOH Rank: 1st

There is no other choice at this point.  Others have been intriguing, but Lafrenière is the pick for whoever wins this pick.

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2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 29  A: 41  P: 70

Born: 08/19/02, Newmarket, ON

SOH Rank: 2nd

This pick isn’t the slam dunk that Lafrenière is.  The Kings don’t have much in the system on the blueline and took Alex Turcotte last spring, so Jamie Drysdale would get a long look at this point.  Still, I believe if the draft happened today, Byfield would be the pick as that potential is going to be too tough for NHL teams to pass up.

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3. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 7  A: 31  P: 38

Born: 04/08/02, Toronto, ON

SOH Rank: 3rd

This team badly needs to build up their blueline.  Ty Smith is about it.  I know they got Kevin Bahl as well, but I’m not sold on Bahl being a guy to get too excited about.  Drysdale is going to be a stud, you can’t pass him up if you’re the Devils.

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4. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 37  G: 28  A: 53  P: 81

Born: 09/23/01, Feldkirch, AUT

SOH Rank: 4th

Not the guy I’m sure they’ll truly desire, but you aren’t going to be upset about getting a high end centre who is already in the market.

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5. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 4  A: 4  P: 8

Born: 03/28/02, Göteborg, SWE

SOH Rank: 5th

This is maybe the biggest need for the Ducks right now, skill up front.  They have some very good young pieces, but more skill is needed and Raymond brings a ton of that.

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6. Tim Stützle

Team: Adler Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 01/15/02, Viersen, GER

SOH Rank: 6th

Originally San Jose’s pick, sent to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade.  Again, they will badly want Drysdale in my opinion (outside of Lafrenière), but there is no other D worth taking here (at this point).  The Sens aren’t going to be too upset with a Friday night haul of Rossi and Stützle.

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7. Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 46  G: 28  A: 54  P: 82

Born: 01/01/02, Whitby, ON

SOH Rank: 11th

There are others who I would pick if I were the Habs in this position.  But the Habs have a knack for being poor team builders.  I really like Perfetti, but he wouldn’t be my pick in this spot and for this squad.  This is 100% a gut feeling as to what they’d here.

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8. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg  League: VHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 163  Glove: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G.A.A.: 2.36  Sv%: .923

Born: 06/16/02, Omsk, RUS

SOH Rank: 9th

A perfect pick for a team that has admitted they need to rebuild yet, but will be forced to soon.  When they do, it’ll be a big help to have it started with a stud between the pipes.

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9. Anton Lundell

Team: HIFK  League: Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 13  P: 19

Born: 10/03/01, Espoo, FIN

SOH Rank: 7th

Casey Mittlestadt already looks like a miss (I know it’s super early, I’m not counting him out but it’s how they have to look at it), and they don’t have that guy right now who can help Eichel out with the heavy lifting.  Lundell could fill those shoes.

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10. Dylan Holloway

Team: Wisconsin  League: NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 3  A: 5  P: 8

Born: 09/23/01, Calgary, AB

SOH Rank: 10th

This team really needs to upgrade down the middle, but the question here would be whether or not they’d see Holloway as a centre?  They’d get to see him a lot this season though being the teammate of 2018 1st rounder K’Andre Miller.

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11. Alexander Holtz

Team: Djurgårdens IF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 25  G: 7  A: 5  P: 12

Born: 01/23/02, Saltsjö-Boo, SWE

SOH Rank: 8th

The Jets big need is on D, but Holtz would be too big of a talent to pass on.  Add to that, the Jets would then be able to afford shipping out a guy like Ehlers or Connor for the D-man they so badly need.

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12. Noel Gunler 

Team: Luleå HF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

Born: 10/07/01, Luleå, SWE

SOH Rank: 12th

They’re all about just taking what they view as the most skilled guy on the board.  It seems in the last few years they’ve gone all in on that philosophy, so Gunler fits them perfectly.

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13. William Wallinder

Team: MODO J-20  League: SuperElit

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 29  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

Born: 07/28/02, Sollefteå, SWE

SOH Rank: 13th

Their blueline is now getting old.  They aren’t old yet, but by the time the 13th pick arrives no matter who it would be, they’ll be pretty hard up for someone to emerge and they don’t have a sure thing in the system at the moment.

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14. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 5  A: 25  P: 30

Born: 09/20/01, Prince Albert, SK

SOH Rank: 31st

Not a doubt in my mind here.  Kelly McCrimmon will know Schneider better than most and there is a massive hole in the Golden Knights organization at the moment on the right side of the blueline.

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15. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 47  G: 8  A: 20  P: 28

Born: 01/18/02, Sherwood Park, AB

SOH Rank: 14th

Originally Arizona’s pick sent to New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade.  I’m a massive fan of Guhle’s and can’t wait for others to catch up.  If the Devils walk out of this draft with Dyrsdale and Guhle to join Ty Smith in the system, there we go.  Now the Devils rebuild would be going somewhere.

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16. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 41  G: 26  A: 37  P: 63

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

SOH Rank: 15th

At the moment, they really crave talent on the right side.  I might look to the blueline here as they don’t have anyone coming, two UFA’s, an ageing star, and then Valimaki’s injuries are concerning too.  But, they seem hell-bent on addressing the right side up front and Jarvis would do that.

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17. John-Jason Peterka

Team: EHC München  League: DEL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 6  A: 4  P: 10

Born: 01/14/02, München, GER

SOH Rank: 19th

Originally Toronto’s pick sent to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau trade.  Much like the Blackhawks, the Canes just love to go after skill and Peterka fits the bill here.

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18. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 40  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

SOH Rank: 26th

It’s maybe not the centre out of the dub who I would select here (at this time), but I have Zary right behind Finley and would have no issue with the pick.  The Oilers badly need to address the middle in their system, which is what I’ve been screaming for them to do for a few years now.  It’s enhanced now with RNH going into the final year of his deal next season.

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19. Jake Sanderson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 49  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 07/08/02, Whitefish, MT

SOH Rank: 23rd

From 2013-15 they aggressively looked to address their blueline.  Last year, they went back to that and I don’t believe they should be done or will be done.  He was only there for one season, but Jake’s dad Geoff did spend a season in Philly.

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20. Dawson Mercer

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 18  A: 29  P: 47

Born: 10/27/01, Bay Roberts, NL

SOH Rank: 17th

A lot of different ways the Stars could go with their 1st rounder, but the big thing I wonder is if they’ll own it come February 25th.  I doubt it.  But if they do, I’d just take the top skill on the board which I believe Mercer would be.

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21. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 10  A: 26  P: 36

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

SOH Ranking: 25th

They drafted Ryan Johansen, and the more this season rolls on the more Finley’s draft year reminds me of Johansen’s.  The size, the skating, the ascension, the production, and I just wonder if their scouts would see it the same way.

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22. Vasili Ponomaryov 

Team: Shawinigan  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 15  A: 22  P: 37

Born: 03/13/02, Zelenograd, RUS

SOH Ranking: 20th

Again, the Hurricanes love to take skill and Ponomaryov has a lot of skill, but also has a lot of the intangibles too.  Feels to me like the Canes wouldn’t pass on him.

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23. Tyson Foerster

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 26  A: 30  P: 56

Born: 01/18/02, Alliston, ON

SOH Ranking: 21st

This organization loves their skilled size, and they have gone heavy on OHL kids over the years.  So Foerster really fits the bill nicely for the Panthers.

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24. Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 28  A: 27  P: 55

Born: 04/15/02, Montreal, QC

SOH Ranking: 18th

The Avs are in a great spot.  That blueline is loaded moving forward, they are great up front, I’d probably look to stockpile forwards for the next few drafts.  Jacob Perreault is a forward, so take him!

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25. Justin Barron

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 4  A: 13  P: 17

Born: 11/15/01, Halifax, NS

SOH Ranking: 28th

They took a right shot D out of the Q in 2018, and I could see them going back to that well here.  Barron has had a tough season, but he could end up being a steal for someone because of it.

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26. Rodion Amirov

Team: Salavat Yulaev Ufa  League: KHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 0  A: 2  P: 2

Born: 10/02/01, Salavat, RUS

SOH Ranking: 32nd

With no Foote children on the board, the Lightning go back to the Russian well that has served them well over the years.

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27. Brendan Brisson

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 17  A: 19  P: 36

Born: 10/22/01, Manhattan Beach, CA

SOH Ranking: 27th

If you’re thinking to yourself “Soups, you’re just saying this because his dad is Crosby’s agent”…you are correct.  Well, that’s not the only reason, the Pens need to put as much talent in the bank as they can, but there is no doubt that this would make a ton of sense because of the Crosby-Brisson connection.  Having said this…I would guess the Pens won’t own this pick come late June.

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28. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 42  G: 8  A: 49  P: 57

Born: 01/05/02, St. Albert, AB

SOH Ranking: 24th

Originally Vancouver’s pick sent to Tampa Bay in the J.T. Miller trade.  Some might be asking why the Canucks pick would be 28th rather than 19th?  Because the four division champs (in the playoffs) will have the final four picks.  Since I’m not doing this based off my own projections, this is where they land.  I truly believe Benning is going in the 1st round, and the Lightning have had a strong presence in the West of late.

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29. Hendrix Lapierre

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 2  A: 15  P: 17

Born: 02/09/02, Gatineau, QC

SOH Ranking: 16th

I’ve said for years that the Bruins need to get ready for the decline of Bergeron and Krejci, and while they’ve somewhat looked to address it, they need to stockpile guys in my opinion until it looks as though a few of them may pop.  Lapierre has a ton of Bergeron in his game and only would fall to this point because of his injury issues.

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30. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 49  G: 16  A: 35  P: 51

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

SOH Ranking: NR

They’ve had a lot of success with skilled size, and while every team is going to be big on IQ, they seem to perhaps value it more than most do with the kids they take.  Neighbours fits both bills.

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31. Antonio Stranges

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 44  G: 17  A: 18  P: 35

Born: 02/05/02, Plymouth, MI

SOH Ranking: NR

They’ll know him very well.  Dale Hunter is still close with a lot of people in the Caps organization, plus they already have Connor McMichael there who they’ll be watching closely.  Stranges isn’t knocking it out of the park this season, but the skill is ridiculous with this kid.

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2020 NHL Draft: Top 32 Prospects (January, 2020)

I did it!  A top 32 list during the season!  Last year, I never got around to doing this, and only ended up having time to do a top 32 list right after the 2018 draft was done, and a top 62 list right before the draft occurred.  I’d say this is at least a sign that I might get 4 or 5 updated lists done by the time the draft rolls around in June.

As I always say around this point, I’m not a scout.  These rankings are much more like Bob McKenzie’s in that I’m not getting to see these kids as much as I need to declare myself a scout.  What I do is look through every quality and trusted write up I can find on these kids, every piece of video I can find, and then form my own opinion from there.  So I rely heavily on guys like Mark Edwards and Hockey Prospect (specifically the Black Book, if you’re a draft fan it is a MUST get, amazing every year), Future Considerations, even though I don’t normally agree with how he ranks his players I read and have big-time respect for the work Corey Pronman does, same goes for Steve Kournianous (who also does a good podcast that’s a great listen), specifically with the OHL kids a couple of great guys to follow are Brock Otten and my buddy Sean Patrick Ryan do great work and have great insight.  I couldn’t do my own rankings without these guys doing far better work than what I do.  But I will say I don’t simply take the averages of where these guys rank players and call it a day.  I have my own insights on what I’m looking for, so I take their reports more so than their rankings or opinions, couple it with what I’ve been able to see and create a list of my own (and as you’ll see, I definitely do MY OWN rankings).

What do I look for?  A lot.  First and foremost skating is most vital.  Skill is obviously extremely important.  IQ is huge though you won’t see me use “hockey sense” very much as I believe in IQ in general over “hockey sense” (theory being that sometimes players are so talented they might not have to think the game coming up, but if they have a high IQ that it will come).  I MUCH prefer playmakers to snipers.  Playmakers are often more intelligent players, and playmakers can play with other playmakers while it’s extremely rare that snipers work well with each other.  I’m not near the “sizest” that I once was, but still am likely more of a size guy than most seem to be.  One thing I will now value a bit more moving forward is players being NHL ready.  The reason being with ELC’s only being three years, a team shouldn’t be wasting the majority of the contract on developing a player, so I won’t be as hot as I’ve been in years past on a player who is much more of a project.  When I dig into the numbers, I want to know who the damage was done against, who were they playing with, and what the situation was (ES?  PP?  SH?).  Something I’m not as high on as most is “dynamic”.  I get why scouts love it, and I don’t disregard it, but you don’t get style points in hockey.  If you can toe drag a junior defenceman, it really doesn’t mean much because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that in the pros.

Is that enough for you?  Well, that is just what I like in my players.  After all that, I then look for five big things: Current production, ceiling/upside, downside, how the players game will translate, and acquireability (I’m making this a word).  I guess the most simple way to put it for “acquireability” is I put a higher value on assets or player types which are tougher to acquire mostly due to how difficult it is to make a trade in today’s landscape and how crippling UFA can be.  I don’t disregard wingers nearly as bad as I used to (2015, put Mitch Marner 7th in my rankings…OOPS…) but centres and defencemen are more difficult and more valuable pieces to land, so they get preferential treatment in my rankings.

Finally, normally I do tiering.  More people do it now thankfully, and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t quite frankly.  Do some scouts truly believe there is a definitive gap between every prospect?  There are so many cases where kids are so indistinguishable as prospects, that a team is bound to go with the biggest need within a tiering.  You don’t pick need over the best player available (BPA).  But you also can’t ignore team building, especially in a league where it is increasingly more difficult to make trades.  So you shouldn’t disregard which tier I have players in.  That is more vital in my mind then whichever number a guy is overall.  Having said all this, being this far away from the draft I decided not to do it at this time as once we’re past about the 12th prospect, I could have a tier from 13 all the way to 35!

One more thing before I get going, I don’t go in-depth on my prospects this time around as I’m hoping to do a podcast that will accompany this piece, so be sure to subscribe to my podcast feed and watch for that very soon!  Also, I’m putting this piece out simultaneously as my first mock draft of the season, so be sure to give that a look as well!

 

1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 24  A: 60  P: 84

Born: 10/11/01, Saint-Eustache, QC

I’m ashamed to say I had thought about putting him as low as 4th about a month ago.  Nothing at all he was doing wrong, I was just simply falling too far in love with others.  Then the World Juniors screwed my head back on straight.  One thing you’ll notice, I list him as a centre because I would draft him to be one.  Sid lined up on the wing his entire junior career too, so it’s not as though this is unheard of.

 

2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 29  A: 41  P: 70

Born: 08/19/02, Newmarket, ON

He continues to disappoint at big events (Hlinka/Gretzky, WJC, prospects game, etc.) but this kid is knocking it out of the park in Sudbury this season, and the combination of size, skating and skill is going to be damn near impossible for a team to pass up outside of the top pick.

 

3. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 7  A: 31  P: 38

Born: 04/08/02, Toronto, ON

I’ll keep it short and sweet, I see him as a franchise defenceman.  He has every tool to become a legitimate number one guy, which is damn near impossible to find.

 

4. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 37  G: 28  A: 53  P: 81

Born: 09/23/01, Feldkirch, AUT

I didn’t do comps again, but mine for Rossi is Sebastian Aho.  He is very small for a centre, but he’s a centre.  He plays a pro game, which I just LOVE.

 

5. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 4  A: 4  P: 8

Born: 03/28/02, Göteborg, SWE

As I said back in the summer, the guy Raymond reminds me so much of is Paul Kariya.  So much speed and so much skill.

 

6. Tim Stützle

Team: Adler Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 01/15/02, Viersen, GER

Much like Lafrenière, he’s playing the wing but I see him playing the middle in the pro’s, just because I feel you will max out his capabilities by doing so.  Phenomenal talent and solid away from the puck too.

 

7. Anton Lundell

Team: HIFK  League: Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 13  P: 19

Born: 10/03/01, Espoo, FIN

Complete 200-foot centres aren’t the sexiest picks, but they’ll always have a higher spot on my lists than most others.  I’m a big fan of Lundell’s complete game.

 

8. Alexander Holtz

Team: Djurgårdens IF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 25  G: 7  A: 5  P: 12

Born: 01/23/02, Saltsjö-Boo, SWE

We’ll see if a pure sniper like Holtz can stay this high in my rankings as I’m never too high on pure snipers, but Holtz also has big time wheels and I’m a big proponent of that.

 

9. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg  League: VHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 163  Glove: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G.A.A.: 2.36  Sv%: .923

Born: 06/16/02, Omsk, RUS

Man, I’m tempted to have him much higher than this.  I was tempted by Samsonov in 2015 and wouldn’t have cried had the Oilers kept their 16th pick and taken him.  Should have.  I know the fear with goaltenders high in the draft, but you also have to recognize when the exception to the rule comes around and Askarov might be that.

 

10. Dylan Holloway

Team: Wisconsin  League: NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 3  A: 5  P: 8

Born: 09/23/01, Calgary, AB

Again, if I had done comparisons this time around, I loved mine for Holloway which was Dylan Larkin.  Love his speed.  Stats in his first season at Wisconsin aren’t flattering, but he’s in tough to get quality ice time with the Badgers.

 

11. Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 46  G: 28  A: 54  P: 82

Born: 01/01/02, Whitby, ON

He is tearing up the OHL right now.  I find myself being torn on him.  I like the production, and I like the fact that he’s doing it as a centre given that I see him playing the wing down the road, but the skating isn’t great.

 

12. Noel Gunler

Team: Luleå HF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

Born: 10/07/01, Luleå, SWE

Another kid like Holtz and like Perfetti who I find myself saying “I wonder how much I’m going to like him as this process goes on” because it’s not like I have all the information yet just like everyone else!  For now, I’m ok having him here.

 

13. William Wallinder

Team: MODO J-20  League: SuperElit

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 29  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

Born: 07/28/02, Sollefteå, SWE

As you can see, this is a big kid.  But he is a terrific skater for his size which is why I’m a huge fan.  Isn’t going to impress you with his offensive game, but he is terrific in his own zone and moves it very well.

 

14. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 47  G: 8  A: 20  P: 28

Born: 01/18/02, Sherwood Park, AB

Ironically, Guhle is extremely similar to Wallinder, which really makes me scratch my head as to why so many people love Wallinder and don’t give Guhle more love.  If you want a more in-depth look at Guhle, check out my upcoming WHL rankings.

 

15. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 41  G: 26  A: 37  P: 63

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

He’s definitely the most exciting prospect coming out of the WHL this season.  Jarvis isn’t too big, but he’s highly skilled and plays bigger than his size.

 

16. Hendrix Lapierre

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 2  A: 15  P: 17

Born: 02/09/02, Gatineau, QC

Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

He was so good at the Hlinka/Gretzky that I just can’t forget it.  Obviously he has missed most of the season, but that performance was just too good and while Cole Perfetti stole the headlines, I felt it was Lapierre who was the MVP of that Canadian team.

 

17. Dawson Mercer

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 18  A: 29  P: 47

Born: 10/27/01, Bay Roberts, NL

He has been so good this season.  I like that he seems to be able to produce in every way.  The skill to find guys and snipe, and the willingness to go wherever he needs to on the ice to get the job done.

 

18. Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 28  A: 27  P: 55

Born: 04/15/02, Montreal, QC

Playing the middle in Sarnia, but I love him as a winger in the pros.  Less responsibility and a chance to utilize that big shot of his much more.

 

19. John-Jason Peterka

Team: EHC München  League: DEL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 6  A: 4  P: 10

Born: 01/14/02, München, GER

I really like this kids wheels.  He’s a safe pick based on that, but he has a lot of skill to go with that skating ability.

 

20. Vasili Ponomaryov 

Team: Shawinigan  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 15  A: 22  P: 37

Born: 03/13/02, Zelenograd, RUS

It isn’t often with Russian kids that one of the big things which stands out is the motor and the compete.  But last year that was what I liked about Podkolzin, and again this year with Ponomaryov.  Not crushing it in the Q as some may have expected him to this season, but I’m still a fan.

 

21. Tyson Foerster

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 26  A: 30  P: 56

Born: 01/18/02, Alliston, ON

Much like Perreault, playing the middle in Barrie but I like him a lot more as a winger in the pros.  My buddy SPR compares him to James Neal and even though I don’t know the OHL near as well as he does, I definitely agree with what I’ve seen of Foerster.

 

22. Jan Mysak

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 9  A: 4  P: 13

Born: 06/24/02, Litvinov, CZE

Those stats are a combination of what he’s done all season as he has freshly moved to North America and to the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.  So far so good with 3 goals in 4 games, but this will give everyone a much better chance to grade Mysak.  A lot of people like him but hadn’t seen him a ton, but now we all have our chance.

 

23. Jake Sanderson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 49  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 07/08/02, Whitefish, MT

Stats are a combination of his season.  Great skater just like his old man was.  Not following in the family footsteps in terms of position however.  A ton of raw talent with Sanderson.  It’ll be interesting to see where he plays next season.  Committed to North Dakota, but for the 21-22 season.  BCHL?  AJHL?

 

24. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 42  G: 8  A: 49  P: 57

Born: 01/05/02, St. Albert, AB

Keeping with the D-men, keeping with the bloodlines, keeping with kids going the college route.  I talk a ton about Benning both on Twitter and in my WHL write-up’s (where I also talk a lot about the AJHL kids), but the bottom line I keep coming back to is that so many people are missing that this kid is simply a 1st round pick.  He has the skating, the skill, the size is good enough, and the one I keep pointing out is his PPG numbers have been better than Cale Makar’s were in his draft year until this past weekend (which that was Makar’s 18 year old season, this is Benning’s 17 year old season).

 

25. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 10  A: 26  P: 36

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

He is being slept on at the moment.  He is a full year younger than Connor Zary, and he’s producing near the same even strength numbers as Zary despite seeing tough matchups, where Zary is on the top line in the WHL.  The more people dig in on Finley, the more I expect him to rocket up draft boards assuming the production levels stay the same.

 

26. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 40  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

Well I just got done trashing Zary, now let me build him back up…not trashing the kid at all, I’m a big fan of his.  I just simply can’t find much reason to have him ahead of Finley.  The wheels aren’t great, but should be good enough, and the kid is a coaches dream in that he can thrive in any situation.

 

27. Brendan Brisson

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 17  A: 19  P: 36

Born: 10/22/01, Manhattan Beach, CA

The son of super agent Pat Brisson, the younger Brisson has very good wheels and is very skilled.  He’s always making something happen on the ice.

 

28. Justin Barron

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 4  A: 13  P: 17

Born: 11/15/01, Halifax, NS

This kid has had one rough season with inconsistency and injuries.  But I’m still finding myself to be pretty high on him.  What might work to his advantage too is that this draft isn’t deep on the blueline, and even more thin in terms of offensively skilled blueliners.

 

29. Ty Smilanic

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 29  G: 9  A: 16  P: 25

Born: 01/20/02, Denver, CO

Like with Sanderson, stats are a combination of his season.  I love this kid’s motor.  He plays with a ton of energy and a ton of passion for the game.  His game reminds me a bit of Liam Foudy’s at this point where I’m not sure where he’ll end up fitting, I just think he’s a pretty safe pick for someone.

 

30. Ryan O’Rourke

Team: Sault Ste. Marie  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 6  A: 20  P: 26

Born: 05/16/02, Pickering, ON

O’Rourke is a kid who I might continue to win me over more and more as we go on here.  Again, not the undersized puck mover on the blueline we’ve seen so much of the last few drafts.  He’s terrific in his own zone, but he also has a bomb of a shot.  A lot to like here.

 

31. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 5  A: 25  P: 30

Born: 09/20/01, Prince Albert, SK

I’ve been much lower on him than most, but now I’m just a bit lower on him than most because I was too hard on his upside and ignoring the fact that he’s such a safe pick.  He’ll play in the league, it’s just a matter of whether he’ll be a Matt Benning type, or a Travis Hamonic type.

 

32. Rodion Amirov

Team: Salavat Yulaev Ufa  League: KHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 0  A: 2  P: 2

Born: 10/02/01, Salavat, RUS

Stats are misleading, as he’s had 19 points in 19 games combined VHL and MHL.  Another kid like Ponomaryov who isn’t the “prototypical” Russian forward.  Amirov has good speed and skill, but plays a very responsible game.

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Storm Surge: Grand Prairie Rides a Strong 10 Minutes to Victory Over Bobcats

The Lloydminster Bobcats were looking to build off of perhaps their most impressive weekend of the season on Wednesday evening against the Grand Prairie Storm.  A 1-1 weekend may not look like much of an accomplishment, but given the two games were against the top-ranked team in the CJHL in the Brooks Bandits, and the (at the time) 6th ranked Okotoks Oilers.  A 4-3 win and a hard fought 5-3 loss is a weekend any team in the AJHL would gladly take facing those two clubs.  However, despite another very good effort, the puck luck simply wasn’t there and the Cats came out on the short end of the stick by a score of 3-2.

 

The Cats had a lot of good jump early on and just 2:20 in it was Brendan Morrow taking the pass from Chad MacLean in the slot and finding the back of the net to make it 1-0.  MacLean then had a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 as he came off the bench while the Cats controlled the puck in the Storm zone.  As MacLean got in the play the puck rolled to him in the high slot which he was able to skate into and get everything behind a wrist shot.  Unfortunately for MacLean and the Cats, the puck went off the crossbar.  This may have been the turning point in the game, as the Storm seemed to get a lift from that break.  Juliano Santalucia would tie the game for the Storm as he beat Bobcats starter Josh Dias with a good wrist shot at 10:01 of the period.  Then after killing off the only man advantage of the period, the Storm would take the lead at 14:18 as the puck found the stick of Cade Mason who sent a rocket passed Dias.  Ethan Strang would make it 3-1 for the Storm before the period was through and the Cats were reeling after a period of play.

 

Josh Dias held the fort for the Cats in the 2nd period as the Storm were throwing everything they possibly could on goal, but Dias held strong.  Unfortunately for the Cats, the Storm’s starting netminder Kaeden Lane was just as good in this contest and he wasn’t going to make life easy for the Bobcats, including stopping Cam Aucoin who got in all alone short-handed in the frame.  Neither goaltender was beaten in the period and it remained 3-1 heading into the 3rd.

 

The Cats made a strong push in the 3rd period as they looked to cut the lead to 1.  A Jack Zayat cross checking penalty put the Storm down 5 on 3 for 49 seconds with 9:07 remaining in the 3rd.  Off the face off one of the Storm penalty killers would break his stick, essentially putting them down 5 on 2.  However “fortunately” for Lane…the net would be knocked off before the Bobcats could capitalize, and the Storm would be able to regroup and subsequently win the next face-off, clear the zone, and kill the rest of the 5 on 3.  The Cats would finally break through late in the 5 on 4 power play however as a Gunner Kinniburgh point shot found it’s way to the back of the net.  It appeared as though the shot was tipped in front by Nolen Coventry, but nevertheless the Cats were within 1 with 6:19 remaining.  In the dying seconds the Cats made a very hard push, but once again as the Cats looked like they may be ready to tie the game, Lane once again “caught a break” with the net coming off its moorings to stop play.  Credit where it’s due however, as Lane played a great game stopping 33 of 35 shots and made some big saves late in the game.  The Cats were unable to capitalize with the 6th attacker on the ice, the Storm held on for the 3-2 win.

 

 

I caught up with Bobcats head coach Nigel Dube after the game who had these thoughts.  “I thought we came out with a good start, we did some really good things early on, but then we got away from the hard work.  They put their work boots on, and it wasn’t pretty but it started ending up in the back of our net and we simply got outworked.  But we came back good and out chanced them in the 2nd, and then in the 3rd it was a nail biter right til the end.  I thought we fully controlled play in the 3rd and just didn’t come up with enough.  But when you don’t have your work boots on for a full 60, and we learned that the hard way tonight.”  I asked the coach what he thought of Storm starter Kaeden Lane knocking his net off its moorings going uncalled late in the game and Dube simply said: “We thought they should have been called, but they weren’t and we just have to move on.”

 

The Bobcats are on the road this weekend with two games in Drayton Valley and one in Whitecourt sandwiched between those two games.  All three games this weekend can be found on Hockey TV, puck drop for Friday’s tilt in Drayton Valley is 7 PM.  The Cats next home game will be Friday, January 31st as they’ll host of the Whitecourt Wolverines.  As always, if you can’t make it down to the rink, Shane Tomayer (though NOT myself as I will be out of town, much to the delight of our viewers I’m sure!) will have the call for you on Hockey TV, and on the MixLR app!

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David Slays Goliath: Bobcats Defeat Top Ranked Team in the CJHL

For lack of a better word, it was a special evening at the Centennial Civic Centre.  It’s Gold Horse Casino family weekend, so most of the parents of the Bobcats are in town.  Joining them in the Border City was the number 1 ranked team in the CJHL, the top team in the AJHL with a record of 38-3-1, the defending Centennial Cup champions, the Brooks Bandits.  In case you didn’t gather it from the brief resume I just gave you…they’re pretty good!  But on Friday night, the Bobcats were better as they stunned the Bandits by a score of 4-3.

 

The Cats showed early on that they were going to match the Bandits speed and managed to get on the board first at the 4:35 in as Cam Aucoin jammed a puck in front and Tanner Mack was Johnny on the spot to make it 1-0.  The Bandits got that one back however at 7:48 as Randy Hernandez stripped Ben Bygrove of the puck deep in the Cats zone and then setup Ryan McAllister to tie the game.  The Cats were not deterred though and at 13:39, after Alex Danis had a strong opportunity turned aside, Ty Mosimann showed off his patience and playmaking ability and found Brendan Morrow cross-crease who proceeded to put it in the empty net and it was 2-1 Cats.  Before the opening frame was complete, Tanner Mack would add his 2nd of the game as he sent a bit of a knuckler on goal that beat Bandits netminder Pierce Charleson, and when the buzzer went to end the 1st, the scoreboard read 3-1 in favour of the home team.

In the 2nd it was a different Brooks Bandits squad.  They looked to up their physical game and as you would suspect the intensity level of the game hit a peak.  A total of 10 minor penalties were assessed in the period.  Only one goal in the period however that came off the stick of Bandits forward Chris Pappas who made a great solo effort and then beat Josh Dias short side to cut the Cats lead to 3-2.

 

As great as the Bobcats effort was in the first 40 minutes of the game, the most impressive part of the evening was their 3rd period.  They didn’t sit back on their 3-2 lead but rather took the play to the Bandits.  Then a little over the midway point in the 3rd, Nolen Coventry took a nice outlet pass from Cam Aucoin right at centre ice and made a gorgeous…and I mean GORGEOUS flip/lead pass that Tanner Mack was able to skate into and put him in alone.  Mack went five-hole on Charleson to complete the hat trick and more importantly give the Bobcats a massive insurance goal.  Shortly after, Chance Adrian would be sent to the box for boarding.  But the Cats penalty kill was just as impressive as their 5 on 5 play all evening.  Several players sold out to block any shot they possibly could.  A great example came on this PK in particular as Brendan Morrow blocked a Bandits point shot, then dove and swung with one hand on his stick to knock the puck into the neutral zone.  And when the Bandits were able to get shots on goal, Josh Dias was there to make the stop, including an incredible pad save on Chris Pappas late in the Adrian penalty.  The Cats finally did give up a power play goal with just 20.6 seconds remaining as the Bandits had a 6 on 4, desperate to tie the game as Trey Thomas would finally put one behind Dias.  But that was as close as the Bandits would get as Dias stopped 23 of 26 shots, and the Bobcats snagged their biggest win of the season.

Going into the game, not only were the Bandits 38-3-1, they had only lost 6 games in regulation over the last two regular seasons.  To say it was an impressive win for the Cats is definitely an understatement.  Needless to say, Bobcats head coach Nigel Dube had a lot of thoughts on his team’s performance after the game.  “I think that group just showed what they’re capable of, and that’s the biggest part of it.  A full 60 minutes.  And it was amazing to see from the coaching standpoint, just to kind of sit back and let the guys do their thing.  And they rallied around each other throughout the entire game, executed, committed to the little areas of the game, and got rewarded in a very big way.”  I asked coach Dube to put into words how special of a win it was, not only because of who they beat, but with all the parents being on hand to witness it.  “When you have 17 or 18 of the 22 families here, that’s special.  There’s no doubt.  Brooks is a team that everybody gives their best against and hopes for the best, and we managed to get one on them.  And I think it’s big for our group right now to realize what we’re capable of”.

 

This wasn’t some fluke victory where Josh Dias had to play the game of his life, or the Bandits had the worst luck imaginable, the Bobcats were FULL VALUE for the victory Friday night.  Congratulations to the players and coaching staff who have worked their asses off all season, had a lot of brutal luck along the way (especially in tight games at the Civic Centre) and were very deserving of something good coming their way.  Great job boys!!

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Brand New Year, Same Brutal Luck

It’s one thing to get beat and know that you deserved it.  It doesn’t make anyone happy when that happens, but nevertheless…it happens.  But when you get beat and deserve a better fate, those are the games that are extremely difficult to take.  On Monday night at the Centennial Civic Centre, the Lloydminster Bobcats might have deserved better in their 5-2 loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs.  On Friday night, the Bobcats played an even better game against the Camrose Kodiaks and got the better of the play (5 on 5 in particular).  Yet it still went unrewarded, as despite outshooting the Kodiaks 35-25, the Bobcats fell 4-3.

 

The Cats came out flying in the 1st period, dominating the play early and got on the board first as Ty Mosimann got the puck off a won draw by Chance Adrian.  His first shot was blocked, but he got it back and rifled it top shelf on Kodiaks netminder Cole Tisdale to make it a 1-0 game.  The Kodiaks managed to get that one back at the 11:32 mark of the period as Damon Zimmer put what appeared to be a harmless shot from the left boards on Josh Dias, but the puck found its way to the back of the net to tie the game.  The Kodiaks gained a lot of momentum from that goal and made it 2-1 shortly after as Jarret Timmerman had a puck bounce perfectly to him in the slot off the backboards and all of a sudden the Kodiaks had the lead and would carry it into the intermission.

 

In the 2nd the Cats took back control of the game and were rewarded for it at the 11:24 mark of the period as Mack Stewart picked off a Kodiak pass and was able to walk in all alone and put a nice move on Tisdale to tie the game at 2.  The line of Adrian, Mosimann and Stewart were tremendous for the Cats all night long as they not only produced a couple of goals, they looked dangerous every time they were on the ice producing numerous scoring chances.  The Stewart goal was the only one we’d see in the 2nd, so the two teams headed to the 3rd all evened up.

 

In the 3rd, the Bobcats continued their strong play and you talk about getting rewarded for strong play, Jared Miller had been playing very strong hockey of late for the Cats and he finally got rewarded for that with his first AJHL goal to give the Bobcats a 3-2 lead.  A similar goal to Stewart’s in that he picked off a Kodiaks attempted zone exit and took a heavy wrist shot that found its way through Tisdale.  It looked as though it was the Bobcats night, but then a nightmare 3 minute stretch after the Miller goal did the Cats in as they ran into penalty trouble.  A Lane Brockhoff goal on one power-play would tie it for the Kodiaks, and then a Connor Brock tally on the other power play would put the Kodiaks up 4-3 with just 4:53 to play.  The Bobcats pushed hard, especially in the final minute of play, but were unable to get the equalizer and the Kodiaks escaped with the win.

 

“I thought we did a lot of good things, there’s a lot of positives you can take out of that game.  But the minor details cost us again tonight.  We out-chanced them, out-shot them, but we have to turn that into numbers on the scoreboard.  A lot of positives, but they’re stinging more and more when you’re that close but you’re not getting rewarded at the end of the day” coach Nigel Dube said after the game.  One of the brightest spots on the night was obviously Jared Miller getting his first AJHL goal and I got Dube’s thoughts on that.  “Millsy’s done a lot of good things.  He’s a sound, 200-foot player, and he’s been making some plays.  Systematic wise, it was a great read, broke it up, and has a good shot on goal which he’s capable of doing.  So it was good to see”.

 

The Bobcats are back in action next weekend as they hit the road for a Southern road trip starting in Calgary Friday night.  Start time for that one will be 7 PM.  If you’re unable to make the five hour trip for that one, all the action will be available on Hockey TV.  The Cats will be back in action at home exactly a week later on Friday, January 17th as they play host to the top-ranked team in the CJHL, the Brooks Bandits.  Puck drop for that one will be 7:30 at the Centennial Civic Centre.  As always, if you can’t make it down to the rink, Shane Tomayer and myself will have the call for you on Hockey TV, and on the MixLR app!

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Soups Rankings: January 2020

One of my “new years resolutions” is to write shorter blogs and maybe pair them with my podcasts.  I do these rankings and I dig WAY too much!  So far, not good.  I had these teams ranked when I sat down this morning, and I’m still nitpicking everything, write a ton on so many teams, it’s stupid on my part.

Anyway, what I’m looking to do here is rank these teams in terms of how close or far they are from winning a Cup.  It gets tricky around 20-25 because you have to balance their chances of getting in the playoffs this season coupled with where they are in their rebuild.  But keep in mind, this has little to do with how teams are playing lately as many power rankings do.  I rank where I have the teams today, and I talk a little bit about them.  Got it?  Doesn’t matter, because here we go.

 

31. Detroit Red Wings

They supplant the Kings at 31st because the Kings at this point might actually have a shot at a playoff spot.  I highly doubt they make it, but the Pacific is THAT weak.  Several have said it already but I still will, this is not a bad thing for the Red Wings.  Probably need a few years down here before they’re ready to go.

 

30. New Jersey Devils

I know they’ve been rebuilding it for a bit, this isn’t just starting.  What worries me is that I’m not sure they had 1st overall picks in the right years.  Hischier looks to me like he might top out as a high end 2nd line centre, and I personally see Hughes as a winger (a damn good one obviously).  So while they aren’t starting from scratch here, they still have a lot of big pieces still to put in place.

 

29. LA Kings

Similar situation as to what I’ve just laid out with Jersey.  The big thing I’d do if I were Rob Blake is move both Kopitar and Doughty out.  They aren’t much with them, so why keep them?  It is just prolonging things.  Trade them, clear out over 20 million, get some great young pieces, speed this process up.  They’re playing very well of late, but realistically where is that going to get them?  Finishing 31st every year without Kopitar and Doughty is better than finishing 25th with them.

 

28. Anaheim Ducks

I’m frankly stunned that they aren’t better because this organization has done such a great job at drafting over the years, but it’s as if just a couple of missteps have set them back a lot of years.  I believe you also have to start questioning Dallas Eakins all over again at some point.

 

27. Chicago Blackhawks

I wonder perhaps if they should look to move Kane just like the Kings should move Kopitar and Doughty.  I can’t see any of the three being moved because of what they mean to the organizations, but Kane would still have great value and clear 10.5 million.  Point being here that they aren’t going anywhere.

 

26. Columbus Blue Jackets

They have been playing extremely well lately, but they’ve had a ton of injuries including one now to Korpisalo.  I believe that right now will be as good as this season will get for Jackets fans.

 

25. NY Rangers

I’m very intrigued at what they might do in net.  I’d guess Georgiev would fetch them a pretty good player, because even though he only has a .908 Sv%, I really believe the kid is a damn good goaltender.

 

24. Ottawa Senators

I know what some of you are thinking.  “Has he lost his mind?!?!”  My rationale is this: They are currently holding TWO lottery tickets.  At this moment, this club is a serious threat to own TWO top five picks.  And this is a draft that in my mind has an all-time top five.  And it isn’t as though they aren’t on the right track without having high picks like those.  And then, add on to all of that, they have their own 2nd rounder, and the Jackets.  So you’re looking at four picks in the top 40 of one of the deepest drafts of all time!  People really need to start wrapping their heads around just how incredible of a situation this is starting to become.

 

23. San Jose Sharks

The ONLY reason they are this high is thanks to what started a year ago tomorrow with the Blues.  But I really don’t think Jordan Binnington 2.0 is walking through this door.

 

22. Minnesota Wild

They’re coming on strong.  It’s very likely the wrong thing to do, but then again I have to keep in mind that some of these organizations may want Cups, but they NEED playoff gates.

 

21. Montreal Canadiens

Brendan Gallagher is now out with a concussion, but they were already sliding.  I’m not a believer in what they are currently building.  Not what they’ve built, but what they are building.  They have the look of an organization that will be in purgatory for a LONG time.

 

20. Edmonton Oilers

Their confidence is completely shattered.  If they can get it back, ok.  MAYBE they get in the playoffs thanks to a weak division.  But I don’t believe they will.  I’m hearing a lot about how much their schedule eases up this month.  Yeah, it’s less of a grind.  Not many cupcakes on it though.  Remember Oilers fans: 25 mil in cap space this summer, Bouchard is going to be a terrific add on the blueline next season, Larsson is movable, Russell is likely movable after his bonus money is paid (only 1.5 mil in real dollars), this summer is huge for the Oilers, but this season really isn’t.

 

19. Buffalo Sabres

This team isn’t very likely to make the playoffs, but with the way Jack Eichel is playing and how improved their blueline is, they are at least pretty competitive.  If they can find a goaltender, they might have a shot.

 

18. Calgary Flames

I just don’t know what to make of them.  They look like they’re about to take off, and then they fall back into bad habits.  Winning the Pacific won’t surprise me, and a 2nd half collapse won’t surprise me either.

 

17. Vancouver Canucks

The only reason I’m not higher on them is I wonder if their kids can truly carry them.  But on paper, this to me is the best roster in the Pacific.  It’s just a matter of the kids being able to carry them.

 

16. Arizona Coyotes

Taylor Hall gets them in the playoffs, maybe wins them the division, maybe wins them a round in the playoffs.  But they’re looking to win playoff gates, not so much Cups.  So it’ll be a great season for the franchise, but unless another move is coming I don’t think they scare anyone.

 

15. Philadelphia Flyers

They’re very much so under the radar, bizarrely so being Philly!  In a terrific division, they’re holding up very well.  I like the depth both up front and on the back end, just a matter of how Carter Hart will hold up.

 

14. Winnipeg Jets

It is awesome how they’re holding up with hardly anything on their blueline, but we need to be honest and say it like it is: Connor Hellebuyck should be a Hart candidate.

 

13. Florida Panthers

I keep saying it, but if Bobrovsky gets back on track, this team is going to be a serious threat come the spring.  It’s funny, Barkov WAS the most underrated player in the league.  Now, it might be Huberdeau.

 

12. NY Islanders

Yeah, I just don’t buy it.  They’re having a tremendous regular season in maybe the best division in hockey, but does anyone truly believe they’ll go anywhere in the playoffs?

 

11. Colorado Avalanche

Moving forward, I think they’re set up to be the elite team in the West for years to come.  I think a lot of people are confusing that with them being Cup contenders THIS season.  I like them, but I can’t see this team seriously contending for a Cup THIS year.

 

10. Dallas Stars

The depth scares me up front, the lack of experience scares me a bit on the blueline, but this team is built for playoff hockey.  And Jim Nill is in a position where he will be able to load up at one of these trade deadlines.

 

9. Nashville Predators

I still believe they’re going to figure it out.  There is just too much talent on this squad, and we know that if there is a deal out there for them to upgrade, David Poile will pull the trigger.

 

8. Vegas Golden Knights

As far as being Cup favourites goes, they have a lot of work to do on their blueline.  But the key ingredient here is that they look like they’re the best team in the very weak Pacific.

 

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

They’re coming on really strong.  Kyle Dubas shouldn’t be half assing this.  He’s set them up to be in win now mode, so he better go all in come the trade deadline.

 

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

ANOTHER major injury, this time to Jake Guentzel.  The roster doesn’t look great at the moment, but as long as they continue to tread water they should be a force come the spring.

 

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

They’re going to figure it out, it’s just a matter of when.  I really believe this adversity is going to be a good thing for them come April and May.

 

4. Carolina Hurricanes

The depth of skill throughout this lineup is absurd.  It’ll be interesting to see if they go after the type of goaltender who could put them over the top.

 

3. Washington Capitals

This top three is clear cut in the league, both in the standings and in terms of being Cup contenders.  It’s the NHL, so it by no means is to suggest that only these three can win it all, but at the halfway point these three don’t just look the best during the regular season, but the best built to win in the playoffs.

 

2. Boston Bruins

They’re slipping a tiny bit here, but in reality, this team is fine.  Did we seriously expect this team to keep the accelerator down all season long?!

 

1. St. Louis Blues

So this is a little recency bias, a little because of how closely I watched them one game in particular, but they played the Oilers on December 18th and normally I’d be pissed about mistakes the Oilers made in a game.  Not that one.  The Blues were completely suffocating all night long.  I know it’s one game, but it’s just proof of how great they are right now because everyone is buying in.  Combine that with a roster perfectly constructed to play playoff hockey and I’m not sure if they can be beaten in a seven game series right now.

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Soups Rankings: December, 2019

Think about what has happened in hockey in the last month?  Talk about a seismic shift!  And the Don Cherry thing, that was controversial, but nobody is going to disagree with Bill Peters being gone, and the weeding out of just how awful the “old school” coaches were to play for.  That prehistoric way of coaching has been outdated for a while now, but it is still shocking to hear the extent it went to.  And we can debate all day about the motives of the players who are now coming out, in a lot of ways it feels like piling on which I hate, but at the same time it is important to hear the stories to help remove the possibility of these things happening again.

 

Ok, onto business.

 

I wish I had more a window to do these in.  Where I fudged up (I’m sorry guys, I fudged up) is not being ready to work on these on U.S. Thanksgiving.  That way I could have had time to calculate my own numbers for each team.  Special teams total, that’s an easy one and something the Oilers are making me look at more.  Percentage of wins in regulation is something I’ve started to look at (kind of like points percentage but I do believe we need to give more love to teams who take the two points cleanly).  And also five on five goals excluding empty netters.  There are lots.  PDO is one I’ve always found to be extremely reliable, simply regulation wins, points percentage (which I listed last time), etc.  I’ll hopefully have time during the Christmas break to add those things up and perhaps come up with some kind of formula to better explain my rankings.

 

Anyway, the point here is I’m looking at the teams who I believe are closest to the Cup.  I also look at how far into a rebuild a team is with the teams near the bottom of the standings.  With all this being said, allow me to roll out the rankings.

 

31. LA Kings

Last Rank: 31

It’s just not a fun situation, and again I’m not sure Rob Blake is the man for the job.

 

30. Detroit Red Wings

Last Rank: 30

Stevie Yzerman has a lot of work ahead of him.  They’ve lost 8 straight for the 2nd time this season.

 

29. Columbus Blue Jackets

Last Rank: 25

I really don’t like where this team currently sits.  They have some good pieces, but barring a big move out of nowhere they look like they’re in a rebuild.

 

28. Anaheim Ducks

Last Rank: 22

I’m done believing that their young talent is going to emerge.  Bob Murray is going to have to do a lot more.

 

27. New Jersey Devils

Last Rank: 27

Last night was rock bottom, and they’re about to trade Taylor Hall (and I’m guessing P.K. Subban could go too).  But they’ve been essentially rebuilding for three or four years now.  As bad as it is, they’re in a good spot moving forward.

 

26. Chicago Blackhawks

Last Rank: 26

They are trying hard to rebuild on the fly, but I’m not sure it’ll happen while Toews, Keith and Kane can still play at a high level.

 

25. Ottawa Senators

Last Rank: 28

This has to be incredible for Sens fans given where they were in early April.  Team is getting better, team is loaded with good young talent, and they own their 1st.  Good for them, no fan base deserves what they’ve gone through.

 

24. NY Rangers

Last Rank: 24

They’re in the hunt for a playoff spot as we speak.  Not sure they’ll get there, but considering how it was looking they’ve done a good job at steadying the ship.

 

23. Minnesota Wild

Last Rank: 29

One thing we’ve all slept on this season: They still have Bruce Boudreau behind the bench, and Bruce Boudreau wins in the regular season.  11 of their 12 wins have come in regulation, they aren’t doing it on smoke and mirrors.

 

22. Buffalo Sabres

Last Rank: 15

Last night’s game doesn’t technically count (though I don’t make a lot of it because the Devils goaltending was just horrendous even by their standards), but they are showing signs that they may get it going again.

 

21. Calgary Flames

Last Rank: 11

Last time around I said they would be the top team in the Pacific by now.  OOPS!!!  Peters mess aside, this team only has 7 wins in regulation.  To put that in context, it is the smallest percentage of their wins (13) in the league at 53.8%.  But they are very much a Jekyll and Hyde team so don’t count them out.

 

20. Montreal Canadiens

Last Rank: 17

I don’t actually think they are as bad as they’ve been lately.  But Carey Price is their superstar, so when he struggles then obviously they will too.

 

19. Vancouver Canucks

Last Rank: 13

I still like this team a lot, gave my Oilers fits this weekend.  I just worry that the leadership core isn’t ready yet, but this team is big time on the rise.  Oh, and I HATE their coach (because he’s smart).

 

18. Florida Panthers

Last Rank: 12

There point totals look real good, but if you look closer, this team is ahead of Calgary only for the smallest percentage of their wins being in regulation (61.5%).  So far, Sergei Bobrovsky has been a massive bust, yet they’ve withstood it.  If he can get his game back together, they should take off.

 

17. Nashville Predators

Last Rank: 3

The biggest slide of any team in my power rankings.  The night I wrote the last ones, Nashville had just blown a game against the Flames.  I thought that win was going to catapult the Flames and the Preds would be fine.  Instead, the Flames remained listless, while it was the Preds hit the skids.  It’s mainly goaltending, and I worry Rinne is shot and that Saros isn’t good enough.  We’ll see.

 

16. San Jose Sharks

Last Rank: 20

They look like they are figuring it out.  I still hate their speed and goaltending, and they aren’t going to win a Cup barring Doug Wilson severely f***ing over another GM (which is possible), but they are much better than this time last month.

 

15. Vegas Golden Knights

Last Rank: 4

I worry about that blueline for them, and I also don’t like their lack of speed up front.  But A) they were right around where they are at this time last season and B) I’ve learned to not bury this team because they love to humiliate me specifically!

 

14. Arizona Coyotes

Last Rank: 14

I’m not a big fan of nearly half their points being a result of games going to extra time.  But they are really deep and I’ve never been shy raving about the job John Chayka has done there.

 

13. Philadelphia Flyers

Last Rank: 23

They have a team Sv% of .908 as of last night, and yet they are 6th overall in points percentage this season.  That is IMPRESSIVE!

 

12. Winnipeg Jets

Last Rank: 18

If Connor Hellebyuck keeps this up, he might not just be in the Vezina discussion, we might be talking about him for the Hart.

 

11. Edmonton Oilers

Last Rank: 21

7-5-2 in the month might not sound overly impressive, but considering how tough the schedule looked last time around it is pretty impressive.  Even in defeat, you can see this team is right there.  Probably should have beat both St. Louis and Dallas, awful effort in LA, and in their words an awful performance in Denver vs the Avs. Big difference is they are keeping their confidence up when things don’t go well and in the process you can see that it has risen.

 

10. NY Islanders

Last Rank: 16

I don’t get it other than Barry Trotz is just that damn good of a head coach.

 

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

Last Rank: 9

They look great even without Sid.  This window is closing, but in saying that you know that Jim Rutherford will look to load up at the deadline.  Taylor Hall?

 

8. Colorado Avalanche

Last Rank: 10

How this team withstood the injury issues they had this month, I’m really not sure!  But it goes to show you how good they are.  My concern entering the season was Makar being given Tyson Barrie’s spot…I think he’s doing ok…

 

7. Carolina Hurricanes

Last Rank: 7

They have been pretty inconsistent.  The big thing to watch for is to add a stud between the pipes.  That guy could put them over the top.  But the problem is, who?!

 

6. Toronto Maple Leafs

Last Rank: 8

Not at all surprised that they look poised to go on a huge run now that Sheldon Keefe is behind the bench.  Won’t be shocked if they win the division.  But to be a true Cup contender, Kyle Dubas has to address the issues, which are being tough to play against (i.e. gamesmanship, size, grit, etc.) and a backup netminder to ease the workload for Andersen.

 

5. Dallas Stars

Last Rank: 19

Unlike the Leafs, this team is currently built for the post-season.  In the regular season, it looks like a three horse race for top spot in the Central.  However, come playoff time I believe it is only a two horse race to come out of the Central (at this point) and the Stars are one of those teams.

 

4. Tampa Bay Lightning

Last Rank: 2

Point totals still don’t look good, the team still hasn’t hit their stride, but they very literally have it all.  And don’t forget: they own the Canucks 1st round pick.  Lottery protected, but in this draft a 1st is gold and could fetch them something big at the deadline.

 

3. St. Louis Blues

Last Rank: 6

Last time I spoke about how I wasn’t the biggest Vladdy Tarasenko fan, and I’m not.  But I assumed they’d miss him more than THIS!

 

2. Washington Capitals

Last Rank: 5

We tend to forget if they’d put the Hurricanes away last spring, who knows how deep they could have gone yet again.  Much like Pittsburgh, the window is closing (Backstrom and Holtby both UFA’s) but they look pretty damn good right now.

 

1. Boston Bruins

Last Rank: 1

I will still maintain that I’m not sure how this team is THIS good, but they sure are!

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