2014 NHL Mock Draft 5.0

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This is the final exam!  No turning back now.  I’m kind of glad I have the other mock drafts all up this year rather than re-doing the same page like I had done the previous 2 years, that way I can look back at how I got scared at the last second, went against my beliefs, and got burned.  Had the Kings going to the final against the Rangers at the start of the playoffs and at the last second I thought “you know, I just have a gut feeling the Sharks will beat the Kings….”  I hate myself…

 

A little info before I start up.  First off, this draft is loaded with undersized, highly skilled wingers.  Half of most scouting services top 30 are these players.  I expect most of those types of players to go later, maybe much later, than their rankings suggest.  This league is all about strength down the middle and on the blueline.  You don’t win with small, skilled wingers.  They’re a dime a dozen.  So if you’re wondering why I have some kids much higher than others, that is likely why.

 

And pretty much anywhere I have one of those wingers what I am saying is that a team is in a spot where they either have to take one of those types, or it fits their needs.  For example I have Sonny Milano going 22 to Pittsburgh.  But what I’m really saying is that they’ll take one of the kids like Milano, who knows if he’ll be the guy out of that group that they’ll like.  Maybe it’ll be Nikita Scherbak, or Jakub Vrana, or David Pastrnak, or anyone of those kids.

 

In the last few years I’ve become less of a believer in simply taking the best player available.  So many fans scream “just take the BPA!”  But the fact of the matter is that it has just become so damn hard to make a trade these days that you have to take the guy who is the best fit sometimes, and then of course you have teams like Detroit, LA, and Boston who have a specific type of kid they love and they’ll keep drafting those guys until it stops working.

 

I simply had to do a trade in this one as it looks like there is zero chance the Panthers are staying at 1.  Who it’ll be with, I have no clue but I took a shot and guessed.

 

As always I haven’t seen a lot of these kids play, I just try to compile as much information on them as possible and then look at what the organizations have either on the team and in the system about 25 or 26 and under.  And just before I start again I stress, the comparisons are not who I think these guys will become, just who their games are similar to.  “Before we begin, we have a trade to announce….”

 


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1. Vancouver Canucks via Florida

Sam Reinhart  Kootenay  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonathan Toews

I’m not moving off the Canucks being the team that trades up for this pick, I see a lot of different things the Canucks could send the Panthers, but the fact of the matter is who knows.  I just think I know the Panthers aren’t keeping their pick.  They seem enamoured (don’t know if that’s the American way to spell it…what do you mean I’m Canadian?) with Willie Nylander and I honestly won’t be shocked if they took Nylander at 1 as crazy as that may seem.  But Reinhart for the Canucks is perfect.  He would replace Kesler, is a local kid, and would be sheltered by Henrik Sedin.  Again though, so many possibilities as to whom could trade with the Panthers.  I don’t buy that Tallon is “70% certain he’ll make the pick”.  He seems to be telling the media a lot about how he’s getting these great offers yet he’s still wanting to pick instead….give it up man, you’re trading the pick and everyone knows it.

 

 

i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo2. Buffalo Sabres

Sam Bennett  Kingston  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 178  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Richards

Same as last time.  Think Richards circa 2008, not today.  The Sabres really need a center and so with Reinhart off the board they take Bennett but don’t think Draisaitl isn’t possible here as well.  It all depends on the type of kid Tim Murray prefers.  If he wants size, he goes Draisaitl.  If he wants more grit, he goes Bennett.  Tough not to LOVE Bennett’s game and his intangibles.  And no, the chin up BS won’t matter.

 

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h3. Edmonton Oilers

Aaron Ekblad  Barrie  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 215  Shot: R

Comparison: Shea Weber

Same as last time and again this is all dependent on who trades up to 1.  If it’s the Leafs for example, then I think they take Ekblad although they need a high end center as well.  If it’s the Canucks like I have it, then it’s Reinhart.  Still a tough choice for the Oilers if Draisaitl is still there.  Don’t kid yourself, moving forward the Oilers are much more desperate for a center and center is where you need to be great to win in this league, just look at the team that has won 2 of the last 3 Cups.  But Ekblad is the better prospect and would give the Oilers ridiculous depth on the blueline moving forward.

 

 

504. Calgary Flames

Michael Dal Colle  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 184  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrick Sharp

Same as last time and the mystery of do they or don’t they like Leon Draisaitl continues.  They didn’t have him to Calgary to show him around like they did other kids, but now rumors (I don’t believe they’re reports) are that they’ve met with Draisaitl a lot.  But…maybe that is the smoke screen?  I love him for the Flames but I just have a hunch they won’t take him.  Instead they go with Dal Colle who should be a great sniper and will have good size once he fills out, but the last thing this team needs is another winger.

 

 

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Leon Draisaitl  Prince Albert  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: L

Comparison: Joe Thornton

I have, as you can see, no clue who the Islanders will end up trading with.  But I’m guaranteeing that they trade this pick and if Draisaitl gets to 5 then I think they’ll get something real good for the pick.  I mentioned last time I believe the Oilers would give up Yakupov for the chance to take Draisaitl (who they absolutely love), I’ve heard the Jets would love a center so maybe Evander Kane goes to the Isles although the Jets would likely want more than the 5th pick back.  Maybe the Leafs offer Jake Gardiner for this pick.  I wouldn’t sleep on the Ducks inquiring about it, the Preds, the Stars, the Sharks, lots of teams will be making offers to the Islanders.  It remains to be seen what they will get, but I can’t see the team trading up passing on Draisaitl should he get to 5.

 

 

946. Florida Panthers via Vancouver

William Nylander  Rogle  SWE

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 169  Shot: R

Comparison: Ray Whitney

Same pick here and same trade down obviously.  Nylander and Nik Ehlers are apparently the kids they love.  I’ve heard Nylander a lot more often so I’ll say it’s Nylander.  I would go with Nick Ritchie, but they are the Panthers for a reason.  This new ownership just sounds awful, and I have my doubts that Dale Tallon will stick around to see how it plays out.  One positive I will say for them however is that they could use more help up front than people think, so Nylander helps there.  But Kyle Woodlief from the Redline Report called him a diva.  That’s a pretty big red flag.

 

 

fotih31tn5r345nufo5xxayh37. Carolina Hurricanes

Haydn Fleury  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 207  Shot: L

Comparison: Mark Giordano

Not much has changed from my previous mock drafts with this pick.  Jim Rutherford has ran this organization right into the ground (and somehow lands as the GM in Pittsburgh for doing so), and so it is now up to Ronnie Franchise is save this team again.  He needs to load up the back end that Rutherford completely ignored over the last 15 seasons, so Fleury is a great fit here.  Don’t be shocked if they like Travis Sanheim more though, and don’t be shocked if they move back.  If they could move back to 11 or 12, still get Fleury or Sanheim, and add a 2nd round pick I think it would be a shrewd move by Francis.

 

 

1998. Toronto Maple Leafs

Nick Ritchie  Peterborough  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 218  Shot: L

Comparison: Jamie Benn

It’s the same as last time, but man the more I think about it, the more I think teams are going to debate between Ritchie and Jake Virtanen.  Virtanen is less of a risk, but Ritchie has a much bigger upside.  But if Virtanen grows up he’ll be a pretty valuable top 6 winger.  But if Ritchie gets more consistent he becomes a 1st line power forward.  Such a tough choice.  I do think Ritchie could go as high as 4 still, although while people want to say he’s a “Burke type”, Brian Burke’s history is that he doesn’t select many “Burke types” in the 1st round.  Ritchie is inconsistent but he’s a beast who is much more suited for the pro game.

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk9. Winnipeg Jets

Jake Virtanen  Calgary  WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 213  Shot: R

Comparison: Raffi Torres

The more thought I’ve given this….which is never good….Kevin Cheveldayoff loves size and toughness and so I am now thinking he and his staff go with Virtanen who is more of a Western conference type over Nikolaj Ehlers who is much more skilled than Virtanen or most of these kids for that matter.  The good news for Jets fans is that this would be a great problem to have to choose between these two kids.

 

 

fbh4jfr7lwbpuezjx0xbktfmo10. Anaheim Ducks via Ottawa

Dylan Larkin  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Kesler

Like Haydn Fleury to the Canes, I just refuse to move off this pick…being a center.  No longer McCann though.  Remains to be seen if the Ducks will still own this pick come 6:00 or so GMT on June 27th.  I think they will, it’ll be the 24th pick they’ll move in a deal for a center, but they still need depth down the middle and so Larkin makes a ton of sense here.  If not Larkin, maybe this pick does still end up being Jared McCann

 

 

lvchw3qfsun2e7oc02kh2zxb611. Nashville Predators

Nikolaj Ehlers  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 162  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrik Elias

The Preds have amassed a pretty nice young blueline yet again, but they don’t have much offensive talent up front and with Peter Laviolette now behind the bench you can bet they’ll start to focus a bit more on having a team who can score.  I don’t know that he falls this far, but this is just kind of where he ended up, which happens.  2 years ago, Filip Forsberg, now a Pred ironically, was going to be a top 5 pick and just happened to fall to, again ironically, the 11th pick.  Same draft, Teuvo Terravainen was a late riser and was looking like a top 8 pick, he fell into the Blackhawks laps at 17 and is an early candidate for the Calder in 2015.  So in other words sometimes kids don’t fall because they aren’t great prospects, they simply fall because of circumstances.  Someone will, remains to be seen if it’s Ehlers.

 

 

8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmki12. Arizona Coyotes

Alex Tuch  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 213  Shot: R

Comparison: Bryan Bickell

So the West gets bigger and tougher yet again.  Tuch and Travis Sanheim are two of the bigger risers this season and I love Tuch to go ahead of Brendan Perlini who has a similar skill set and size, but Tuch plays with a little bite and Perlini simply doesn’t.  As I said last time, he is kind of a cross between Bickell and Blake Wheeler because he is a real good skater for a kid with this size.  Who knows if the Coyotes like him or not, but I do like Tuch to go top 12.

 

 

llrs2zxi127vkqgcsvfb13. Washington Capitals

Jared McCann  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrice Bergeron

I have said the Caps really need to find a legitimate 2nd line center for a few years now, yet they’ve never picked one.  Well I guess we will find out if things have changed from the George McPhee era to the Brian MacLellan era (side note, when I think of MacLellan I think of Terry Crisp going ape sh*t on the bench in LA and him just standing there calm and cool as can be leaning against the bench just watching Crisp).  McCann would fit so perfectly with Barry Trotz too.  This is the type of center who Trotz has loved during his time as Preds coach.  You damn well better play 200 feet if you’re going to be a center for Trotz and McCann does just that.

 

 

107917201414. Dallas Stars

Travis Sanheim  Calgary  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Roman Josi

As I said a little earlier, Sanheim is a big riser and I believe he could go as high as 7th overall (remember, going into the 2012 draft Hampus Linholm was a riser but nobody had him ranked near 6th).  All he has done all season is improve.  Good size, good skater, moves the puck well, he’s what most teams covet.  The Stars need to build up their blueline so this is a great fit.  Remember, Jim Nill is their GM and he came from Detroit where they really coveted puck moving D-men.

 

 

yo3wysbjtagzmwj37tb11u0fh15. Detroit Red Wings

Robby Fabbri  Guelph  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 166  Shot: L

Comparison: Saku Koivu

Speaking of the Wings…the question is weather or not Fabbri will be able to stay at center in his career or if he’ll move to the wing.  The Wings don’t have a need for yet another small, skilled player, but Fabbri has versatility and grit that they’ll covet.  I think they need to take Julius Honka or Travis Sanheim if he is still on the board, but they haven’t selected a D with their top pick since Brendan Smith in 2007.

 

 

jhepegs329pc7ugyypebl28wg16. Columbus Blue Jackets

Julius Honka  Swift Current  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Mark Streit

I think Honka is pretty close to Travis Sanheim, but as we enter draft week I would say Sanheim and Fleury are in the same category (very similar players) and Honka is just a little outside of that group.  He’s a pure PP QB and while there isn’t much size, he can really mix it up.  The Jackets have a nice young blueline but they could stand to add to it, they didn’t with their 3 first round picks last year.

 

 

16117. Philadelphia Flyers

Ivan Barbashev  Moncton  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: T.J. Oshie

Bad spot now with no D-men worth taking in sight, but IF they pick I think this is one that makes a lot of sense.  A player out of the Q which they love, versatile, plays with energy, he feels to me like a Flyers kind of guy.  But they need to make sure they find a way to upgrade their D moving forward.  Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg just are not enough.  Trade down and take Roland McKeown?  Trade the pick for a D prospect?  Trade up?  Hextall and Holmgren have to find a way.

 

 

0kcehji928suy4ckk1pdo8s7l18. Minnesota Wild

Brendan Perlini  Niagara  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

Another team that could use a D-man, but they more so could use a guy via UFA.  Dumba and Brodin are going to become good running mates for Suter.  So with that being said they take Perlini who in this scenario has fallen a bit but again he’s considered pretty soft and that is a huge red flag.  Unreal shot though.  Great wheels, pretty good vision, as long as the organization and fans of the team who take him don’t expect him ever to be more than a finesse player they should be good.

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz19. Tampa Bay Lightning

Conner Bleackley  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: C/RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Brooks Laich

We’re talking about a kid who scouts won’t love as much as GM’s will because he doesn’t have that elite skill that scouts covet, he has all the intangibles that GM’s covet.  So while who knows if he lands here, he’ll go higher than most scouts have him which is between 30-22 or so.  I don’t like to call a kid a C/W but in this case most seem to think he will see time at both spots.  Tampa needs D, but could use a character kid up front like this with nice size.

 

 

dmo1xf3z4pph27vmg3gf20. San Jose Sharks

Kasperi Kapanen  Kalpa  FIN

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: R

Comparison: Sami Kapanen

I don’t dislike Kapanen at all, but I don’t get the hype around him that some scouts have.  So I’m saying he falls and this would be a pretty big fall as some have this kid as a top 10 prospect.  But having said that, what a team to fall to.  The Sharks develop their kids as good as any team in the league.

 

 

18721. St. Louis Blues 

John Quenneville  Brandon  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyler Bozak

So last time I had Kamenev.  I really like what I’ve been reading on Kamenev.  But despite not having Quenneville in a mock draft until now, I’ve liked this kid all year as well.  A friend of mine who knows his Wheat Kings hockey was telling me about how underrated he was earlier this season.  The only thing here is that while I really believe the Blues need a center (even if they land Jason Spezza), Ryan MacInnis is also ranked 34th and of course Al’s kid will be heavily considered by the organization he workds for.  They have the 33rd pick thanks to the David Perron deal with Edmonton.  Do they wait until that pick?  For either guy?  I’m saying they go get their center now, and you can always shift a center to the wing if they ended up with 2 in the top 33.  Might be a good move for them to trade back to make this pick and get more assets, especially since they might pay big for that front line center this summer.

 

 

17422. Pittsburgh Penguins

Sonny Milano  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

Get some running mates for Crosby.  I don’t care if it’s Milano, or Scherbak, or Vrana, or Pastrnak, or Fiala, or any of these smaller skilled wingers, but there are a billion of them in this draft so all you have to do is take one of them.  This should fit perfectly with Jim Rutherford because he’s obsessed with undersized skilled kids.

 

 

6423. Colorado Avalanche

Roland McKeown  Kingston  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 186  Shot: R

Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk

Really like this pick and I know McKeown has stumbled down a lot of rankings in the 2nd half, but in a draft that doesn’t have a lot of talent on the blueline I still believe he goes a little earlier than expected.  I have read too much good about this kid to think he’ll bust, a character kid who is effective at both ends.

 

 

fbh4jfr7lwbpuezjx0xbktfmo24. Anaheim Ducks

Kevin Fiala  HV71  SWE

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: Cliff Ronning

I would bet this won’t be their pick come selection time.  So I’ll guess it’s the Canucks, although I wouldn’t deal Kesler in division.  The Canucks get this pick in a Kesler deal, take Fiala who has been a riser this season but I have a tough time placing a kid who is so small.  The league is moving back towards size.  Maybe not the giants who were slowly patrolling around in the early 2000’s, but the smaller teams are getting killed in the West, as did most of the Eastern teams by the West this season.  LA is heavy, Boston is heavy, St. Louis is heavy, Anaheim is heavy, San Jose is heavy, it’s heavy man…but heavy wins in this league.  Fiala is not but we will see if I’m wrong on him.  Awesome skill set and drive.  Won’t lie, the comparison came to me while thinking about the Canucks, but Ronning was a really small guy that wouldn’t back down to anyone and had a very long and productive career.

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf25. Boston Bruins

Adrian Kempe  Modo Jr.  SWE

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Sean Bergenheim

A big winger who isn’t afraid to go to the tough area’s on the ice and play with an edge, does that sound like a Bruins type of guy?  He might be Swedish, but Kempe plays a North American style and I believe would be a great fit for the B’s.  The President’s trophy winners don’t have a lot of holes, so they can sit back and take the best guy on their board and Kempe fits their bill, and if their patient with Kempe he may become something special.

 

 

12426. Montreal Canadiens

Brendan Lemieux  Barrie  OHL

Pos: LW   Ht: 6’0  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Claude Lemiuex

Now, will he become the ultimate pest and clutch performer his old man was?  Probably not.  But he finds ways to be effective just like the old man and people forget that Claude had some toughness when things got nasty and he needed to throw down.  96 World Cup he had a great tilt with Keith Tkachuk who was far from a pushover.  Anyway, the Habs could use more players like this and Claude likely still has some ties to the organization which always help in hockey.  The Habs have killed it in 2 drafts thus far under Marc Bergevin.

 

 

5627. Chicago Blackhawks

Jakub Vrana  Linkoping  SWE

Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Ales Hemsky

The more I thought about this pick, the more I thought a winger might actually make sense for them.  Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa aren’t done, but they’re on the back 9 of their careers.  The Hawks will need to supplant them probably within the next 3-4 years, which would be the right amount of time for a kid like Vrana to develop.  And again, Vrana falls into that large group of smaller, highly skilled wingers who could go anywhere from 15-30 in my opinion.  But having said all this, the bigger need for this organization moving forward is D and they still could use a goaltender in the system so perhaps Thatcher Demko goes here.

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz28. Tampa Bay Lightning via NY Rangers

Vladislav Kamenev  Magnitigorsk  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 198  Shot: L

Comparison: Travis Zajac

I had them taking DeAngelo but after thinking it over I just have serious doubts that Steve Yzerman would take a kid with such questionable character.  They might have to as this team simply isn’t looking good on D moving forward.  But they haven’t been afraid of taking Russian players and again, I really love what I read on Kamenev.  And while this isn’t the D-man the Lightning need, I don’t ever feel you can go wrong with size down the middle and smarts down the middle and Kamenev has both.  They don’t end up with a D-man taking Bleackley and Kamenev, but they get bigger and pretty good defensively down the middle.  They’re obviously a candidate to package up the 2 picks and move up.

 

 

71jepx81eqzz1l6q9g1g5j1lh29. Los Angeles Kings

Hunter Smith  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’7  Wt: 208  Shot: R

Comparison: Brian Boyle

Man is this EVER a Kings pick!  They’ve had a lot of success with kids out of the OHL (Brown, Doughty, Simmonds, Pearson, Toffoli, etc), and they love size up front and as you can read this kid has boat loads of it.  Tough to compare him to anyone because I believe the only regular forward (so not John Scott) in the league who is over 6’5 is Brian Boyle.  But while Boyle is a center, they do have similar games.  Top 9 guy with grit, maybe develops into a top 6 guy.  It is a reach I know, but he is so rare that I think he ends up going in the 1st round.

 

 

32tfs723a3bes0p0hb4hgcy1u30. New Jersey Devils

Nikita Scherbak  Saskatoon  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 172  Shot: L

Comparison: Martin Erat

I’m not getting over them being awarded this pick anytime soon and I’m guessing the league will regret doing so when the fans in Philly go ape sh*t on tonight when it’s their pick.  Anyway, Scherbak is yet another guy in this draft who isn’t that big but skilled.  Being a Saskatoon Blade I obviously have heard a lot of great things on this kid, didn’t see him more than about twice this season but know he’s a great playmaker.  He could work on his foot speed, but nothing that isn’t fixable.  I hope for the Devils sake he is a complete bust should they select him.

 

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

World Cupdate

World Cup Soccer

FOOTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can’t get enough of this thrilling action!!!  But there always has to be SOMEONE to ruin the fun.  Let me tell you, as a footy diehard if there is one thing I can’t tolerate is people who don’t “get it”.  If you don’t get footy, then get out of my country!!!

 

So today my man Lou Sweezy who as we all know plays for Marvingaye, was in a hard fought battle with Italian Georgey Tortellini.  And if there is one thing we all know it’s that this is a game for MEN.  These are TOUGH, PHYSICAL battles out there that simply aren’t for the faint of heart.  In fact, here is a perfect example of how ruthless the game can get:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3qpE8WZMt8

 

Just BRUTAL.  But that’s how footy can be.  So sometimes being the mensch that Lou Sweezy is, you have to be more mensch than the rest.  And when punches and kicks just won’t do, you go to the bite!  Hey, is it Sweezy’s fault that Tortellini sounded delicious at that time?!  Yet everyone wants to BLAME Sweezy.  IDIOTS, you just CLEARLY don’t get footy!!  So annoying!

 

Ethan and Mario with their friends Noah and Lucas

My buddy Gavin and I were talking about it the other day with our new friends we met in an online footy chat, Ethan and Mario, about how stupid these bandwagon fans are and how they don’t get footy and they never will!  And like we were all saying it isn’t just footy!  Domestic beer, Radiohead, using your Segway without wearing a helmet, like why are these things so tough for people to understand?!

 

But they’re stupid and they’ll never understand!  They don’t get why it is so tough for the Americans and the Portuguese to play in a blistering hot 84 degrees and why it is so vital to take a water break.  They don’t get why it is so difficult for my man Crissy Ronaldo to come within 15 of the net on a breakaway.  Like lay off him IDIOTS he hardly had anywhere to place the ball, the American goaltender had no holes!  I mean it was BASICALLY like a whale in front of doggy door.

 

But I can’t let these IDIOTS and MORONS ruin my footy for me.  Diving is just a part of the culture.  Water breaks in the middle of a game is just a part of the culture.  Cannibalism is just a part of the culture.  But all these IDIOTS from athletic countries just don’t get it.  Stop watching our sport, IDIOTS!  Ok, chill.  I better go kick back with Gav and a domestic and talk about what different players transfer fees will be.

 

Follow me on twitter IDIOTS @TJ_Soups

These Penguins Can’t Fly

 

David-Morehouse-1

The joke being that Penguins can’t fly anyway despite having wings.  The best jokes are the ones you need to explain and TRUST ME, you needed that one explained….idiot….

 

What a difference a few years can make.  Like take me for example.  2 years ago, I started this website, seemingly wasn’t going anywhere in life, no steady girlfirend, and my career was working for my dad and uncle.  But now, I do this site, I haven’t gone anywhere, no steady girlfriend, I’m working for my dad and uncle, AND I did the color commentary for about 10 Bobcats games this season.  So kids, stick with it and you could have THIS!

 

Things have also changed a tad for the Pens too.  Remember going into the 2012 playoffs?  The Pens were unbeatable and were a virtual slam dunk to win the Cup that season.  Then the Flyers made the Pens look like tools in the playoffs and the shine slowly started to wear off.

 

Last year it was the same thing.  A loaded Pens team, they made it to the Eastern conference final this time (not before a scare vs the lowly Islanders) and they got humiliated even worse this time around against the Bruins.  All the star power in the world both years, but nobody will see those stars shine if it’s cloudy out (giving myself a nice hearty pat on the back for that line).

 

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Fleury bounced back strong this season weather fans and media want to admit that or not

The clouds were both on and off the ice.  Most want to point the finger at Marc-Andre Fleury, but while in 2012 and 13 he was bad, he had no help.  People have trouble remembering that this goaltender stole game 7 of the Stanley Cup final on the road against a superior Red Wings team.  2011 he carried the Pens to 4th in the conference, and I wonder how many of you are screaming right now that it would have been Sid and/or Malkin who did that?  Crosby and Malkin were out the entire 2nd half of that season.  .918 Sv%, 2.32 G.A.A., 36-20-5 on the season.

 

Now, this goes out the window if he hasn’t shown flashes of getting his game back, but he has!  Outside of game 4 vs Columbus when the guy caught a horrible bounce on a puck that sent that particular game into OT, when exactly was the guy even average?  He lost game 7 against Henrik Lundqvist 2-1.  The Rangers had a much more balanced team and the Penguins supposedly great offense went completely dry.  You only allow 2 goals, THAT team should win.

 

Anyway, that was my “Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t near as bad as people say he is” rant for the day.  Done it before, I’ll likely do it again.

 

But while the roster was incredibly flawed, the front office seemed solid with Ray Shero as GM, but man was that opinion wrong!  Shero wasn’t without his mistakes.  I mean I pointed out yesterday how he didn’t get off his ass and move one of Staal or Malkin after the 2010 season and instead waited until his hand was forced by Staal and he ended up with virtually nothing for him.

 

But for the most part Shero had done a solid job since arriving in the summer of 06.  And yet the Penguins canned him and according to some insiders the reason wasn’t job related.  The reason was because Shero on his old contract didn’t have to report to Pens CEO/President David Morehouse, only team owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle.  When Shero signed his new deal in the fall of 2010, it was included that he had to report to Morehouse, which Shero wasn’t a fan of (although the new deal wasn’t to start until after the 2011 season).

 

So the front office turmoil, if that is in fact the case, has been ongoing for 3 seasons now.  The firing of Shero, the fact that they refused to fire head coach Dan Bylsma (instead leaving that firing for the incoming GM), these were both very odd front office moves.  But Jim Rutherford coming in as GM was the oddest of them all.

 

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Despite a Cup ring in 06, Rutherford has a horrendous track record

Rutherford never gets shit on by hockey people or media because he apparently is one of the best people in the game.  But I don’t know Mr. Rutherford, and I try to be a guy who calls it as I see it.  Jim Rutherford was AWFUL as the GM in Carolina.  Not bad, awful.  Yes I know he had a Cup winning team, and another team that went to the final.  Let’s break those down.

 

The Cup winning team in 2006 is pretty unanimously known as the luckiest Cup win in NHL history.  Players had been off for a full season, a bunch of new rules were in place, 2006 was a very odd season.  Then in the playoffs, they were down 2-0 to the Habs going to Montreal for game 3.  Then, Saku Koivu takes a stick in the eye and knocks him out for the series and completely changes the series.

 

In the conference final against Buffalo, the Sabres were the better team.  But throughout the series the Sabres kept losing D-men and by game 7 they were without 3 of their top 4, and 4 of their 6 regulars on the blueline.  And then you had game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, and this is Northern Alberta so I don’t think I need to remind anyone what happened in that game to give the Canes a huge advantage in that series.

 

Jim Rutherford wasn’t some genius GM, he simply threw together the best team he could and got extremely lucky.  Martin Gerber had a career year, Eric Staal broke out, they got the absolute best out of a very average defense made up of guys like Brett Hedican, Mike Commordore, Frank Kaberle, Aaron Ward, Niclas Wallin, and an aging Glen Wesley.  They could score, but the Edmonton Oilers have been built like this for the last 7 years and can’t even come close to the playoffs.

 

As for 2002, it doesn’t really need explaining.  They caught the Devils in a down season, Montreal upset the 1st place Bruins, Ottawa upset the 2nd place Flyers, and when they got to the conference final they faced a Leafs team who had gone through 2 absolute wars with the Islanders and Sens and simply had nothing left.  Again, an extremely lucky run.

 

Outside of those 2 seasons the Hurricanes were just horrendous under Jim Rutherford.  He completely ignored building up the Canes blueline, I believe players were much too comfortable in that organization, and when you can’t win in a division that was so bad for so long like the Southleast division was, it isn’t a very good sign.

 

So THIS guy is who the Pens selected to run their team moving forward.  Ok….

 

But the telling sign for me and most of the hockey world came on Friday when it leaked out that Willie Desjardins had turned the Penguins down to go coach in Vancouver instead.  The Canucks who look as though they’re about to rebuild and are currently in no man’s land as an organization over Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Letang.  Yikes!  As I said on twitter, “the cat is out of the bag, this team is a shit show”.

 

So the coaching hunt continues and Rutherford must be terrified because both Paul Maurice and Peter Laviolette are employed so he can’t go back to them like he usually does.  And this roster needs to be drastically overhauled, but Rutherford won’t do that.  Heck, this team is already built identical to the teams he built in Carolina!

 

It takes some serious balls to reshape this team.  I talked about this yesterday, most GM’s simply lack the balls to make big moves in the game today believing that this will prolong their jobs.  But to me it is clear what the Pens need to do.  They need to trade both Malkin and Letang.

 

I know the first thing you may think is “well isn’t this guy always preaching being great down the middle?  Why are you wanting to trade a top 5 center in the league?”  It’s a good question.  The reason is because I don’t like the fit with Sid.  Crosby doesn’t need a 2nd 100 point guy playing behind him.  He needs a 50-60 point guy who wins draws and can be matched up against anyone.  Malkin is terrific, but he can be soft and doesn’t want to play a 200 foot game and is only 48% in the dot.  At least he finally made it to 48% this season, but it’s still not good enough.

 

To build a team that can really contend, moving Malkin and Letang might be necessary
To build a team that can really contend, moving Malkin and Letang might be necessary

In the playoffs, Crosby had a goal and 8 assists in 13 games.  He said he wasn’t hurt.  I don’t know if that was true, but what is true is the fact that this guy is asked to do FAR too much for this team.  He doesn’t have great defensive support down the middle and especially on the back end.  You need to build a team with great depth and shore up the team (not just the blueline) in their own zone.

 

Here is what I would do if I can play armchair GM for a moment….I would offer Malkin to the Panthers for the 1st pick and Sasha Barkov.  Dale Tallon would do that deal (well, the Panthers desperate new ownership would), and likely give another piece if he had to.  But the top pick and Barkov would be the key pieces.

 

Then I would move Letang to the Avs for Ryan O’Reilly.  Maybe you add to it by throwing Brandon Sutter in the deal and getting Colorado to add in a kid like Stefan Elliott.  It is a move that I believe makes a lot of sense for both sides because things are getting ugly again between the Avs and O’Reilly, and Letang would fit perfectly into Roy’s up tempo system in Denver.

 

So let’s say the Pens do these 2 moves, all of a sudden you’re running Crosby, O’Reilly and Barkov down the middle which is much better defensively, much better in the dot, and more gritty.  Malkin and Sutter were both under 48.1% in the dot, while O’Reilly has been over 51.5% (in the West) since his 2nd year in the league when he was 19.  Barkov as an 18 year old this season was already better than Malkin at 48.8%, so it won’t be long until he is 50-55%.

 

You draft Ekblad with the top pick and he joins Olli Maatta, likely Derrick Pouliot, and look to sign a few veteran UFA’s like Derek Morris, Dan Boyle, or maybe Anton Stralman.  I would let Matt Niskanen walk for sure as I really believe he will end up as a guy with a horrific contract, and look to bring back Brooks Orpik but only for the right price (nothing over 3.75 mil per).

 

With what they had this season, they had a couple of guys who could move the puck, and a couple of stay at home guys who couldn’t skate.  This group would be much younger, but it would be a much better mix of guys who can move the puck, skate, play on the PP, and play in their own zone.

 

In all this, they maintain the 22nd pick in the draft and as I’ve said in the mock drafts all the Pens have to do is sit back and pick the small, highly skilled winger they like most.  This draft is flooded with them so they should land a good kid they could develop for a few seasons and should turn into another solid top 6, 50-60 point type of guy for them.

 

Finally I would bring in a goaltender to join Fleury between the pipes, not necessarily replace him.  For them I’ve liked the idea of Brodeur for a few years now.  He can still play 30 games a season, was a guy who Fleury grew up idolizing, and I really believe he could help Fleury a lot.  But again, Fleury got his game back last season and would now have an improved defensive squad in front of him.

 

Now, in doing all this I fully understand that it doesn’t get the Penguins closer to a Cup.  It’s a step back.  But they don’t look like they’re going anywhere with the way this team is assembled right now.  So take a step back, you’ll still be a playoff team, and in 2 or 3 years they’ll be an elite team that is better suited for playoff hockey.  And also, a team built like that would free Crosby up to get favorable matchups at home to take full advantage of, and lighten up his minutes a bit so he would be more fresh late in the season and the playoffs.

 

But that’s me, that won’t be Jim Rutherford.  And because the front office wanted a nice guy rather than a good hockey guy, this team looks as though they’ll be in no man’s land through the prime of Sidney Crosby’s career.  How can you screw that up, I’m not sure.  But the Pens certainly look to be on a path to nowhere.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

2014 NHL Mock Draft 4.0

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Just 1 more to go after this one.  I always like getting a mock draft in before Bob MacKenzie comes out with his rankings (tonight at 5:30 GMT) just to see where I stack up.  Don’t put too much into this one, as it is more just to compare.  Friday morning’s  mock will be my final one and HOPEFULLY I can get it pinned down better than my final ones the last 2 seasons.  How do I nail my NFL mock draft better than my NHL ones?!

 

A little info before I start up.  First off, this draft is loaded with undersized, highly skilled wingers.  Half of most scouting services top 30 are these players.  I expect most of those types of players to go later, maybe much later, than their rankings suggest.  This league is all about strength down the middle and on the blueline.  You don’t win with small, skilled wingers.  They’re a dime a dozen.  So if you’re wondering why I have some kids much higher than others, that is likely why.

 

And pretty much anywhere I have one of those wingers what I am saying is that a team is in a spot where they either have to take one of those types, or it fits their needs.  For example I have David Pastrnak going 22 to Pittsburgh.  But what I’m really saying is that they’ll take one of the kids like Pastrnak, who knows if he’ll be the guy out of that group that they’ll like.  Maybe it’ll be Sonny Milano, or Josh Ho-Sang or Jakub Vrana, or anyone of those kids.

 

In the last few years I’ve become less of a believer in simply taking the best player available.  So many fans scream “just take the BPA!”  But the fact of the matter is that it has just become so damn hard to make a trade these days that you have to take the guy who is the best fit sometimes, and then of course you have teams like Detroit, LA, and Boston who have a specific type of kid they love and they’ll keep drafting those guys until it stops working.

 

I simply had to do a trade in this one as it looks like there is zero chance the Panthers are staying at 1.  Who it’ll be with, I have no clue but I took a shot and guessed.

 

As always I haven’t seen a lot of these kids play, I just try to compile as much information on them as possible and then look at what the organizations have either on the team and in the system about 25 or 26 and under.  And just before I start again I stress, the comparisons are not who I think these guys will become, just who their games are similar to.  “Before we begin, we have a trade to announce….”

 

 

2xd2efir5fdew26px6kx1. Vancouver Canucks via Florida

Sam Reinhart  Kootenay  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonathan Toews

The trade in my opinion that makes sense for both sides is Alex Edler along with the 6th pick for the 1st pick.  Tanev is the rumor right now but that just isn’t enough.  That’s a steal if the Canucks only have to pay that.  Edler gets destroyed by the media out here but the fact of the matter is that he’s a top 4, 6’4, 215 pound, puckmoving D-man with a cannon from the point.  Canucks shed his ticket and the Panthers get immediate help plus the 6th pick where they can take their boy.  As for Reinhart, the Linden-ing of the Canucks continues (more likeable, more character).  He won’t be Toews but he won’t be far off.  The type of kid you want leading your team.  As for other possibilities to trade up, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Anaheim, Philly will try hard and don’t sleep on Chicago.  Dale Tallon LOVES his boys he picked in Chicago.

 

 

i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo2. Buffalo Sabres

Sam Bennett  Kingston  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 178  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Richards

Think Richards circa 2008, not today.  The Sabres really need a center and so with Reinhart off the board they take Bennett but don’t think Draisaitl isn’t possible here as well.  It all depends on the type of kid Tim Murray prefers.  If he wants size, he goes Draisaitl.  If he wants more grit, he goes Bennett.  Tough not to LOVE Bennett’s game and his intangibles.  And no, the chin up BS won’t matter.

 

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h3. Edmonton Oilers

Aaron Ekblad  Barrie  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 215  Shot: R

Comparison: Shea Weber

This is all dependent on who trades up to 1.  If it’s the Leafs for example, then I think they take Ekblad although they need a high end center as well.  If it’s the Canucks like I have it, then it’s Reinhart.  Still a tough choice for the Oilers if Draisaitl is still there.  Don’t kid yourself, moving forward the Oilers are much more desperate for a center and center is where you need to be great to win in this league, just look at the team that has won 2 of the last 3 Cups.  But Ekblad is the better prospect and would give the Oilers ridiculous depth on the blueline moving forward.

 

 

504. Calgary Flames

Michael Dal Colle  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 184  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrick Sharp

The Flames didn’t even have Leon Draisaitl in town last week when they had all the other top prospects in.  Draisaitl didn’t go to Edmonton because of flight issues, but the Flames simply didn’t invite him so that is pretty telling that they aren’t interested.  Too bad for Flames fans because Monahan and Draisaitl would be such a great 1-2 down the middle.  Instead they go with Dal Colle who should be a great sniper and will have good size once he fills out, but the last thing this team needs is another winger.

 

 

79520qbne58r9i71zhuggbff05. NY Islanders

Leon Draisaitl  Prince Albert  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: L

Comparison: Joe Thornton

If things fall this way, I would bet a lot of money that Craig MacTavish would be on the phone with Garth Snow offering Yakupov for the pick.  The Islanders, much like the Panthers, aren’t keeping this pick.  Unlike the cats though, they aren’t looking to move down.  They want immediate help.  So while this pick says Draisaitl to the Islanders, that won’t happen.  What will happen is a team will move in here and select Draisaitl at 5 if he’s still on the board.

 

 

946. Florida Panthers via Vancouver

William Nylander  Rogle  SWE

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 169  Shot: R

Comparison: Ray Whitney

Nylander and Nik Ehlers are apparently the kids they love.  I’ve heard Nylander a lot more often so I’ll say it’s Nylander.  I would go with Nick Ritchie, but they are the Panthers for a reason.  This new ownership just sounds awful, and I have my doubts that Dale Tallon will stick around to see how it plays out.  One positive I will say for them however is that they could use more help up front than people think, so Nylander helps there.  But Kyle Woodlief from the Redline Report called him a diva.  That’s a pretty big red flag.

 

 

fotih31tn5r345nufo5xxayh37. Carolina Hurricanes

Haydn Fleury  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 207  Shot: L

Comparison: Mark Giordano

Not much has changed from my previous mock drafts with this pick.  Jim Rutherford has ran this organization right into the ground (and somehow lands as the GM in Pittsburgh for doing so), and so it is now up to Ronnie Franchise is save this team again.  He needs to load up the back end that Rutherford completely ignored over the last 15 seasons, so Fleury is a great fit here.  Don’t be shocked if they like Travis Sanheim more though…

 

 

1998. Toronto Maple Leafs

Nick Ritchie  Peterborough  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 218  Shot: L

Comparison: Jamie Benn

You’re loving me now aren’t you Leaf fans?!  Chris Roberts, Shane Tomayer, Tyson Lowrie, Robb Fenton, Malcolm Radke, Daniel Q. Haygarth, you’re all loving me now aren’t you!!?  Well, I don’t think any of you had an issue with me before, but point is that Leaf fans should love this pick.  Ritchie falls no further than this spot, could go as high as 4.  He is inconsistent but he’s a beast who is much more suited for the pro game.

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk9. Winnipeg Jets

Nikolaj Ehlers  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 162  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrik Elias

Do you remember Elias when he was young?  The guy was one of the highest skilled kids in the league, now he’s  just a shell of what he was but when the Devils were winning Cups he was awesome.  I love this pick for the Jets because they need more skill in their top 6, although I do have my doubts about Ehlers.  Mainly that it’s easy to tear it up in the Q which lacks grit as a league, and playing with Jonathan Drouin.  But scouts adore this kid.

 

 

fbh4jfr7lwbpuezjx0xbktfmo10. Anaheim Ducks via Ottawa

Jared McCann  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrice Bergeron

Like Haydn Fleury to the Canes, I just refuse to move off this pick.  Remains to be seen if the Ducks will still own this pick come 6:00 or so GMT on June 27th.  I think they will, it’ll be the 24th pick they’ll move in a deal for a center, but they still need depth down the middle and so McCann still makes a ton of sense here.  If not McCann, maybe Dylan Larkin is the pick.

 

 

lvchw3qfsun2e7oc02kh2zxb611. Nashville Predators

Brendan Perlini  Niagara  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

The Preds have amassed a pretty nice young blueline yet again, but they don’t have much offensive talent up front and with Peter Laviolette now behind the bench you can bet they’ll start to focus a bit more on having a team who can score.  Perlini isn’t physical, but he can fly, has good hands and can really shoot.  I could see Alex Tuch going here, but the Preds draft history suggests they take the CHL kid over the USHL kid.

 

 

8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmki12. Arizona Coyotes

Jake Virtanen  Calgary  WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 213  Shot: R

Comparison: Raffi Torres

So the West gets bigger and tougher yet again.  I don’t know if Virtanen gets to the Yotes, a big, physical, fast kid with a great shot is a rare commodity.  But I’m sure the Coyotes would be thrilled if he fell to this point.  The biggest question mark with Virtanen is his hockey sense, but physically this kid has it all.

 

 

llrs2zxi127vkqgcsvfb13. Washington Capitals

Dylan Larkin  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Kesler

Might be a bit of a reach here for Larkin but again center’s aren’t all over the place in this draft like last season.  I feel like the Caps could either go with Larkin to add a great skating 200 foot center to play with all that offensive skill, or add to the blueline but I don’t see the D-man that fits their specific need.

 

 

107917201414. Dallas Stars

Travis Sanheim  Calgary  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Roman Josi

I mocked Honka here the last two times.  But Travis Sanheim is this year’s riser and I believe he could go as high as 7th overall (remember, going into the 2012 draft Hampus Linholm was a riser but nobody had him ranked near 6th).  All he has done all season is improve.  Good size, good skater, moves the puck well, he’s what most teams covet.  The Stars need to build up their blueline so this is a great fit.  Remember, Jim Nill is their GM and he came from Detroit where they really coveted puck moving D-men.

 

 

yo3wysbjtagzmwj37tb11u0fh15. Detroit Red Wings

Robby Fabbri  Guelph  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 166  Shot: L

Comparison: Saku Koivu

Speaking of the Wings…the question is weather or not Fabbri will be able to stay at center in his career or if he’ll move to the wing.  The Wings don’t have a need for yet another small, skilled player, but Fabbri has versatility and grit that they’ll covet.  I think they need to take Julius Honka or Travis Sanheim if he is still on the board, but they haven’t selected a D with their top pick since Brendan Smith in 2007.

 

 

jhepegs329pc7ugyypebl28wg16. Columbus Blue Jackets

Julius Honka  Swift Current  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Mark Streit

I think Honka is pretty close to Travis Sanheim, but as we enter draft week I would say Sanheim and Fleury are in the same category (very similar players) and Honka is just a little outside of that group.  He’s a pure PP QB and while there isn’t much size, he can really mix it up.  The Jackets have a nice young blueline but they could stand to add to it, they didn’t with their 3 first round picks last year.

 

 

16117. Philadelphia Flyers

Ivan Barbashev  Moncton  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: T.J. Oshie

Bad spot now with no D-men worth taking in sight, but IF they pick I think this is one that makes a lot of sense.  A player out of the Q which they love, versatile, plays with energy, he feels to me like a Flyers kind of guy.  But they need to make sure they find a way to upgrade their D moving forward.  Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg just are not enough.  Trade down and take Roland McKeown?  Trade the pick for a D prospect?  Trade up?  Hextall and Holmgren have to find a way.

 

 

0kcehji928suy4ckk1pdo8s7l18. Minnesota Wild

Alex Tuch  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 213  Shot: R

Comparison: Bryan Bickell

Another team that could use a D-man, but they more so could use a guy via UFA.  Dumba and Brodin are going to become good running mates for Suter.  So with that being said they take Tuch and I love this kid as a surprise top 12 pick because of his great size, but I can’t find a spot where I like him to go prior to this.  I say Bickell but he is kind of a cross between Bickell and Blake Wheeler.  He can really move for a guy his size.

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz19. Tampa Bay Lightning

Conner Bleackley  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: C/RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Brooks Laich

We’re talking about a kid who scouts won’t love as much as GM’s will because he doesn’t have that elite skill that scouts covet, he has all the intangibles that GM’s covet.  So while who knows if he lands here, he’ll go higher than most scouts have him which is between 30-22 or so.  I don’t like to call a kid a C/W but in this case most seem to think he will see time at both spots.  Tampa needs D, but could use a character kid up front like this with nice size.

 

 

dmo1xf3z4pph27vmg3gf20. San Jose Sharks

Kasperi Kapanen  Kalpa  FIN

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: R

Comparison: Sami Kapanen

I don’t dislike Kapanen at all, but I don’t get the hype around him that some scouts have.  So I’m saying he falls and this would be a pretty big fall as some have this kid as a top 10 prospect.  But having said that, what a team to fall to.  The Sharks develop their kids as good as any team in the league.

 

 

18721. St. Louis Blues 

Vladislav Kamenev  Magnitigorsk  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Travis Zajac

Last time I had Thatcher Demko and that still makes a lot of sense.  But so does Kamenev.  This isn’t just a center, it is a center with a big frame who plays a Ken Hitchcock style of game.  It is likely they go get that center they need either at the draft or on July 1st, but they still could use another guy in the system.  They also haven’t been afraid of Russians in the past, Tarasenko has definitely worked out for them.

 

 

17422. Pittsburgh Penguins

David Pastrnak  Sodertalje  SWE2

Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 167  Shot: R

Comparison: Martin Havlat

Get some running mates for Crosby.  I don’t care if it’s Pastrnak, or Scherbak, or Vrana, or Ho-Sang, or Milano, or Fiala, or any of these smaller skilled wingers, but there are a billion of them in this draft so all you have to do is take one of them.  This should fit perfectly with Jim Rutherford because he’s obsessed with undersized skilled kids.

 

 

6423. Colorado Avalanche

Roland McKeown  Kingston  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 186  Shot: R

Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk

Really like this pick and I know McKeown has stumbled down a lot of rankings in the 2nd half, but in a draft that doesn’t have a lot of talent on the blueline I still believe he goes a little earlier than expected.  I have read too much good about this kid to think he’ll bust, a character kid who is effective at both ends.

 

 

fbh4jfr7lwbpuezjx0xbktfmo24. Anaheim Ducks

Nikita Scherbak  Saskatoon  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 172  Shot: L

Comparison: Martin Erat

I would bet this won’t be their pick come selection time.  So I’ll guess it’s the Canucks, although I wouldn’t deal Kesler in division.  The Canucks get this pick in a Kesler deal, take Scherbak who has a ton of skill and while he isn’t a smooth skater, he’s an effective skater.  And again with the comparison, Erat while in Nashville, not what he’s become since.

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf25. Boston Bruins

Adrian Kempe  Modo Jr.  SWE

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Sean Bergenheim

A big winger who isn’t afraid to go to the tough area’s on the ice and play with an edge, does that sound like a Bruins type of guy?  He might be Swedish, but Kempe plays a North American style and I believe would be a great fit for the B’s.  The President’s trophy winners don’t have a lot of holes, so they can sit back and take the best guy on their board and Kempe fits their bill, and if their patient with Kempe he may become something special.

 

 

12426. Montreal Canadiens

Brendan Lemieux  Barrie  OHL

Pos: LW   Ht: 6’0  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Claude Lemiuex

Now, will he become the ultimate pest and clutch performer his old man was?  Probably not.  But he finds ways to be effective just like the old man and people forget that Claude had some toughness when things got nasty and he needed to throw down.  96 World Cup he had a great tilt with Keith Tkachuk who was far from a pushover.  Anyway, the Habs could use more players like this and Claude likely still has some ties to the organization which always help in hockey.  The Habs have killed it in 2 drafts thus far under Marc Bergevin.

 

 

5627. Chicago Blackhawks

Nick Schmaltz  Green Bay  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: R

Comparison: Mike Ribeiro

Schmaltz might not go in the 1st round.  But as I said last time, if he goes to the right organization like Boston, Chicago, or LA he might become a legit star player.  He has so much skill, but disappears far too often for a lot of people’s liking.  The Hawks could stand to upgrade their blueline but with the way they develop forwards I believe a kid like this could be huge value here, and then look to move a forward for a D-man down the line.

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz28. Tampa Bay Lightning via NY Rangers

Anthony DeAngelo  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 175  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Murphy

The Lightning need D-men in their organization.  Last time I had DeAngelo going to the Hawks a pick before, this time he gets to them.  But who knows who they’ll like.  A lot of USHL kids ranked right around here.  But their head scout is Al Murray who prior to this job was the head scout for Hockey Canada.  DeAngelo’s comparison pretty much says it all.  The difference is that DeAngelo doesn’t try to win a game 1 on 5 like Murphy does.

 

 

71jepx81eqzz1l6q9g1g5j1lh29. Los Angeles Kings

Hunter Smith  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’7  Wt: 208  Shot: R

Comparison: Brian Boyle

Man is this EVER a Kings pick!  They’ve had a lot of success with kids out of the OHL (Brown, Doughty, Simmonds, Pearson, Toffoli, etc), and they love size up front and as you can read this kid has boat loads of it.  Tough to compare him to anyone because I believe the only regular forward (so not John Scott) in the league who is over 6’5 is Brian Boyle.  But while Boyle is a center, they do have similar games.  Probably a top 9 guy with grit, just don’t expect him to be Lucic.

 

 

32tfs723a3bes0p0hb4hgcy1u30. New Jersey Devils

Sonny Milano  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

I’m not getting over them being awarded this pick anytime soon and I’m guessing the league will regret doing so when the fans in Philly go ape sh*t on Friday when it’s their pick.  Anyway, Milano is yet another guy in this draft who is small but skilled.  He is expected by most to go higher than this and easily could, tough to say what the order of the small wingers will be.  I hope for the Devils sake he is a complete bust should they select him.

 

 

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Believe It When I See It

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I actually had no intention of doing a piece like this.  Then I accidentally stumbled upon a piece I did 23 months ago about how all these deals we’re without a doubt going to happen around the draft and July 1st, and not one of them happened.  Now, in the following days, Shea Weber signed an offer sheet with Philly and Rick Nash got dealt I believe the next week.  But it was still nothing like what was expected.

 

Let’s not forget last year at the draft.  Cap going down, teams MUST shed salary…right?  “There is so much talk right now, expect an endless amount of trades.”  Of course I’m paraphrasing, but it was basically said in some form by all the top insiders.  Yet what happened?  Schneider was interesting, but it wasn’t some huge deal.  Dave Bolland?  Ok, it was something of interest.  But really Bobby Ryan was the only big trade that went down between both the draft and July 5th last year.

 

So here we are, same time next year.  O…M….G….it is going to blow your mind how many trades get made right?!  Save it.  Sure, it might happen.  It does seem this season with Thornton, Spezza, Kesler and O’Reilly that there is a little more meat on these bones, but I’ll believe it when I see it (I said that already).

 

GM’s are terrified to make a deal these days.  Oh they’ll tell you “it is just SO difficult to make a trade these days with the cap and trying to fit guys under the cap, and on and on and on”.  It is just an excuse and code for “I can’t take the heat if I make a bad move, so I don’t want to do a thing until I have no other choice”.

 

Ray Shero is a perfect example of this.  Now this in no way is why Shero lost his job, but Shero should have been moving one of Malkin or Jordan Staal after the 2010 season.  That was the perfect time to do that move.  Both of their value was through the roof and he needed to cash in.  But he instead chose to just sit on what he had until he was backed into a corner and finally had no choice but to move Staal to Carolina for what they were willing to give up.

 

If I were their new GM, I would be looking to move both Malkin and Kris Letang and surround Crosby with much more depth, size, and 2 way ability so he didn’t have to do so much on his own.  But Jim Rutherford won’t do that.  Heck, I would be shocked if Rutherford hardly touched the team the next few seasons.

 

In some ways I don’t blame these guys, I wouldn’t want to lose my job either.  But as a fan it drives me insane.  There are so many potential trade partners out there and moves to be made, but GM’s are simply scared to death.  This is why I’ve always at least had respect for Brian Burke because he was never one of these guys.  The Kessel deal was a killer for the Leafs, but at least he had the balls to go out and get a guy he wanted.  It was incredibly stupid to give what he gave in their position for a 1 dimensional winger, but he wanted his guy so he went out and got him.

 

There are WAY more Steve Tambellini’s out there than Brian Burke’s.  And where does it get you?!  Tambellini still got fired from a team that won’t fire anyone in their front office!

 

I hope these guys prove me wrong this weekend.  The fan in me definitely wants to see a boat load of guys on the move and teams looking to really improve their organizations.  But I have seen this script before.  The Canucks don’t HAVE to move Kesler, the Sharks don’t HAVE to move Thornton, the Avs don’t HAVE to move O’Reilly, so they probably won’t.  I would guess Jason Spezza gets moved, and then Florida will trade down from the 1st pick, the Islanders will move the 5th pick, and then maybe 2 or 3 more flips of picks and 2 or 3 small moves.

 

Is that a flood?  More so feels like 10-20 mm of rain.  Moves will be made, but don’t buy the hype.  I have no doubt that there is a boat load of talks going on around the leagues and that the insiders aren’t misleading anyone.  But when it comes time to make a move, I would bet most of these GM’s get cold feet….like always.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

World Cup Report

World Cup Soccer

Yesterday on twitter I talked soccer….footy, if you will.  It was a resounding success as the Soupaholics ate it up like my best bowl of chicken noodle.  Well I’m not the type of guy who leaves his audience wanting more.  You ask for more?  YOU GOT IT!!!!!

 

Man if there is one thing that hooks my attention, it is the World Cup.  I can’t get enough of watching these guys play.  It is simply magical.  The best athletes from none athletic countries matching up against countries who have no other sports, and then the kids picked last in gym class from the States….it truely is a special time on the sporting calender.

 

It really caught my eye on Sunday.  I don’t know who was playing.  I THINK it was the Netherlands, and they were playing someone who couldn’t score….so that narrows the field down to 31 possibilities, hopefully one of you is a big enough Netherlands supporter who can tell me.  Guy named Gavin, I know you know!

 

Anyway, the Netherlands were playing and their top player Filthy, Nasty, Messy, whatever his name is.  Anyway he scored.  Big snipe, apparently he is one of the best in the world and it was his 2nd goal in World Cup play.  I believe they said it was his first since 2006.  So now 2…in however many games that would be, I’m assuming more than 4 or 5.  Gavin, shoot me a text and let me know how many.

 

Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
My boy Filthy came up big, giving the Netherlands an insurmountable 2-0 lead with ONLY 34 minutes remaining

While that was just amazing that Dirty got this goal, it ended the match!  Yep, talk about coming up clutch….my man Dirty came up huge and put those arrogant 3rd Worlders on the ground!  Pretty much Alec Martinez all over again just 2 days later.  I mean sure, Martinez was in double OT and this one was scored with like 35 minutes left in the game, but the commentator for this game said it was over so I was taking his word for it!

 

If you’re like me, ain’t no WAY you turn the channel.  No, you’re watching that final 35 minutes because OBVIOUSLY it is going to be riveting stuff.  Sure, the 3rd Worlders were apparently unable to recover from such a large deficit of 2-0 in only 34 minutes.  But the crowd is chanting “Ole”!  Don’t see that everytime you watch footy!

 

I could go on and on for days here because if there is one thing I love it’s my footy.  But I don’t want to burn myself out, there is so much more footy to watch, my man Gavin and I have to pace ourselves.  Nothing like hanging with Gavin though, knocking down some import beer, watching footy, what can I say….it’s my deal.

 

Nobody like Gavin follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Centre of the Hockey Universe

KeslerSpezza-640x427

I can’t use “Centre of Attention” because I used it earlier this season when talking about how Phil Kessel and Alex Ovechkin were actually far less valuable than anyone will admit….so anyway, what the heck is going on?!  Centre has become THE position in the NHL.  It is no coincidence that the Kings have won 2 of the last 3 Cups and are the best team down the middle in the league.

 

But now we have a plethora of high end pivots who could be, in most of these cases WILL be, on the move in the next month.  Ryan Kesler, Joe Thornton, and Jason Spezza will likely be dealt, I don’t think anyone believes otherwise.  Then you have Eric Staal in Carolina who COULD be moved.  Darren Dreger reported this back in March and it didn’t get near as much attention as I believed it would.  But the Canes are looking to dump salary and if they aren’t looking to win anytime soon then why would he or his brother Jordan want to stay on a loser despite the chance to play with each other?

 

I will ignore Jordan Staal for this piece, but I will add in Ryan O’Reilly as a 5th guy because according to Bob MacKenzie on I believe Sunday, the O’Reilly situation has got cloudy in Denver yet again with the Avs taking him to arbitration and so teams are paying CLOSE attention to see if things will implode between the 2 sides.

 

So we have 5 high end centres (and yes, O’Reilly will be a centre again).  One of my favorite things to do is to play GM on here.  So I’m going to put on my GM cap yet again and get these guys dealt!  I’ll kick it off with Jason Spezza.

 

To Ottawa: Luca Sbisa, Stefan Noesen, and the 24th overall pick

 

To Anaheim: Jason Spezza

 

This wouldn’t look too good on Bryan Murray.  A year after the Bobby Ryan swap, it is essentially the same trade coming back to the Sens for Spezza, and I don’t have them getting their own 1st back either.  But Spezza won’t get a big return.  He has only a year left on his deal, a 10 team NTC, and the combination of him asking for a trade and the Sens not wanting to deal him within the East leaves their options limited.  But at least you get a young top 4 D-man, reacquire a kid you drafted in Noesen, and in the end will have a 1st round pick in this draft.

 

The Ducks have been desperate to land an elite 2nd line center to play behind Getzlaf for a long time now, and I fully expect them to land one of Spezza, Kesler or Staal this summer.

 

To Philadelphia: Ryan Kesler

 

To Vancouver: Braydon Schenn, Scott Laughton, and the 17th overall pick

 

This is just something Philly will do.  I just know it.  This would be as dumb as sh*t if Philly did this, and they absolutely will.  There is 100% zero need for the Flyers to go after a centre.  They’re real deep and strong down the middle with Giroux, Couturier and Schenn…..just like they were last year when they signed Vinny Lecavalier.  OOPS!!!

 

You can love Kesler or you can hate him like most do, but the guy is going to fetch Jim Benning and Trevor Linden a great return.  2 years left on a sweetheart contract for an elite 2nd line centre is impossible to find.  Of course if you already have that guy no names mentioned Paul, Ron, Bob, and Ed….you don’t need to go get that guy, ESPECIALLY when you have a terrible blueline.

 

To Florida: Joe Thornton

 

To San Jose: Ian McCoshen and Quinton Howden

 

I have a lot of reasons for this being a great fit.

 

1. Thornton has a NTC and I can’t see him wanting to go to a spot where he’ll face a lot of pressure

2. The Panthers have made no secret about wanting to improve in a hurry.  Their new owners aren’t going to be patient, nor should they be in an awful market like that.

3. Even though the Panthers are a losing organization they now have Luongo who is great friends with Thornton and could help recruit the big man.

 

I don’t expect the Sharks to get a big return on Thornton because that is a big ticket for a guy who is on the back 9 of his career.  The big thing is to simply get him off the books and change the culture in that room.  Howden is a former 1st round pick who still hasn’t broke through to the next level, and McCoshen is coming off a great season at BC who the Panthers got at 31 in last year’s draft, but my thought is that should they stay at 1 and pick Ekblad they then can afford to part with a young D.

 

To Nashville…yes, Nashville: Eric Staal

 

To Carolina: Colin Wilson, Michael Del Zotto, Austin Watson, and the 11th overall pick

 

Before you call me nuts…the Preds have some money.  I doubt they’ll be a cap team, but they have some money.  They can afford to bring in a big ticket guy and they’ve been DESPERATE for a 1st line center.  Other than a brief Peter Forsberg sighting in 2007, this franchise has never seen a 1st line center.  Enter, Eric Staal.  So why would Staal waive his NTC for the Preds?  His former coach is now the bench boss in Nashville in Peter Laviolette.  Also he is good buddies with Shea Weber.  With Staal in the fold, the Preds could become a playoff team again next season.

 

As for the Canes, this would give them a lot of what they need.  2 young roster players, a good prospect, and a pretty high draft pick.  But more importantly, A LOT of salary relief.

 

Would I bet on Staal waiving his NTC to go to Nashville?  No I doubt he would because they’ve never really proven they’ll spend the money.  Sure David Poile tells everyone how they have the money, and it’s true they do!  But they’ve never spent it, and until they really spend it players don’t buy that you will.  But as I said, Laviolette would be appealing for Staal, as would Weber, and let’s not forget some great young pieces like Seth Jones, Roman Josi, and Filip Forsberg.

 

To Pittsburgh: Ryan O’Reilly

 

To Colorado: Kris Letang

 

A good old 1 for 1.  Fits for both teams.  I know there has been talk of the Pens shedding Letang to re-sign Niskanen, but the fact of the matter is that who knows what new GM Jim Rutherford is thinking about doing with this roster?  But my thought process here is that the Pens can do this, and next season they’ll have Derrick Pouliot stepping into the lineup, not to mention have some money saved to spend in free agency.

 

O’Reilly would only be the 3rd line center for the Pens, so why would they want him?  Well, they had success with 3 big time centers before when Jordan Staal was there.  Also, Jim Rutherford is a guy who seems to believe he can win with garbage on his blueline.

 

As for the Avs, while Letang isn’t exactly what they need, we all saw how effective they were with Tyson Barrie on the ice late in the season.  Well Letang plays that same game and I think he would fit great with the Avs.

 

Look, are these deals I’m expecting?  Not really.  Kesler, Spezza and should Eric Staal be willing to waive, they will have the same suitors.  Anaheim, St.Louis, possibly Chicago, Nashville and then teams who have no shot at these guys like Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto, and Winnipeg.

 

This is more so just an idea of what to expect in terms of what you can expect these guys to fetch in a trade.  And like I said off the top, I love playing GM.  All these guys being available should make for an interesting summer, but then again we expect a ton of trades every summer in the NHL.  Let’s be honest, there are far too many GM’s who lack balls for a lot of trades to happen so I’ll believe it when I see it.

 

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Lacking Heat

hi-res-6715784_crop_650x440

Man it is just so easy to come up with the pun title for the Heat!  The gift that keeps giving.  So hats off to the Spurs.  I wrote a few years back that the Spurs had gone from being as unlikeable as can be, to loveable.  It is just like wrestling when a heel just reaches a point where he is so good at being a heel that fans start to love him for it.

 

But this isn’t going to be about the Spurs, and that’s the way they want it.  What is a sexier write up, talking about how great the Spurs are run and have been run now for 20 years (people forget they have been a contender since the 94 season), or how the Miami Heat and all their superstars got destroyed in the finals and are now on the brink of breaking up?  Yeah, it’s the latter.

 

So let’s begin.  Will they break up?  I really don’t know now.  I didn’t think they would all year long.  But the way the finals just shook down, how does James go back to that?  Because much like I just wrote about the NY Rangers, the Heat have to be honest with themselves about this.  They destroyed an awful Eastern conference.  But the West is far and away tougher than the East in the NBA just like it is in the NHL.

 

The key to all of this in my mind is Dwayne Wade.  I think Wade has to be the guy to sacrifice here.  Now, maybe Bosh and James do too, but Wade should take a huge pay cut simply because he’s fading and is nowhere near what he was.  He is going to be coming off the bench before too long.  If he wants to keep winning titles, he can either take a massive pay cut, or take a massive pay cut and go to San Antonio or OKC.

 

Should he take that pay cut though, then the Heat will have a great chance to put a team together capable of winning more titles.  Maybe they bring in a Kyle Lowry in free agency (let’s hope not hey Raps fans?) or Zach Randolph to give them a serious presence down low because it has been more than proven in the 4 seasons that Chris Bosh gives them next to nothing under the hoop.  They’ll be able to re-shape their bench because we’ve seen plenty of guys willing to go there for less money to come off the bench and win a title.

 

Vince Cater would be a candidate for that, as would Shaun Livingston, Shawn Marion could replace Shane Battier as their lock down defender off the bench, Channing Frye, Kirk Hinrich, there are plenty of guys available who could give the Heat great depth off the bench.

 

But again, that hinges on Wade.  If he isn’t willing to take that big pay cut, I think the big 3 are done.  Because if you’re Lebron James why would you come back to what is a fading team?  You can go to Toronto for example and play with an up and coming team in a world class city with world class facilities, be close to home, play in a very weak Eastern conference, and grow your brand even more so and honestly I don’t think people should scoff at this.  Not saying the Raps will be any kind of favorites for his talent….like that?….but they’ll get a serious look from the James camp.

 

And look, the rumor of all 3 guys taking pay cuts to bring in Melo isn’t the answer.  It sounds sexy, but there is only so much ball to go around.  These guys need depth.  Look at who just beat them.  The Spurs obliterated the Heat, and did it because they had so much depth.

 

Another possibility is that they all simply don’t opt out of their contracts.  They aren’t free agents yet, they all have options for 1 more season.  It is possible that they don’t opt out and just see how next season goes.  I’m far from any kind of expert on the NBA cap so I can’t say what they then could or couldn’t bring in, but I do know that owner Micky Arison doesn’t want to pay the luxury tax next season and there for Pat Riley likely won’t have much flexibility.

 

The NBA is good, but off the court it might be better and this summer is going to be as intriguing as ever before.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

King Sized Overreactions

 

Henrik+Lundqvist+NHL+Stanley+Cup+Final+Media+B4hyiN3XsPQl

So some of you I’m certain are asking “what the f*** is he talking about?!”  Good question.  What I’m talking about is the massive overreaction that the media has to a team winning a championship, and I have found it to be out in full force.

 

I’ll start with P.J. Stock, during game 5 of the final, not after.  I can’t recall now which intermission it was in, I want to say it was during the 1st OT intermission.  Stock, who is good on TV, but absolutely horrendous as an analyst if that makes any sense, overreacted just a TAD to how well the Carter/Toffoli/Pearson line was playing…otherwise known as “that 70’s line” (which may not be true next season, because both Toffoli and Pearson will likely shed their training camp numbers unless they love the nickname that much).

 

ANYWAY…Stock says he thinks that each of those players will get 80 points next season.  Not that they have that ability, not that they have that potential, no…he thinks each player on that line will get 80 points next season.  Sure.  Probably hasn’t happened since about the mid 90’s, but now a teams 2nd line is going to go off like that are they?  7 guys in the entire league this season had 80 points, but now 3 guys on the same line on one of the lowest scoring teams in the league are going to get 80 each?

 

It’s a good line, they played well in the playoffs but for the love of Christ…ian Ruuttu can we settle down?!  Jeff Carter has evolved from happy to be there to relentless and it is awesome to see.  We all wish more guys would find that intensity in their game.  But when was the last time every guy on the same line had a point per game?  96?  So nearly 20 years, a line that had 2 of the greatest offensive players in league history (Lemieux and Jagr).  The other guy was Petr Nedved who was the 2nd overall pick in 1990 and had a pretty damn good career even if he never lived up to expectations.

 

That might not be the last time, but the point is that Carter isn’t anything near Lemieux, and Pearson and Toffoli are good young players but that’s it.  By Stock’s logic, Justin Williams will be the league MVP next season.  They all had great playoffs, but that’s it.  The team got hot offensively in the playoffs, but over Daryl Sutter’s tenure behind the Kings bench they have been one of the worst offensive teams in the league.  I’ll say it right now, Jeff Carter won’t even hit 80 points next season let alone Toffoli or Pearson.

 

Next up I’m going to include all Conn Smythe voters in this piece.  Can we please learn to differentiate between great scorer and great player?  I know Williams was clutch all playoffs long and since 2006 has just had a knack to turn it up in big games.  But Drew Doughty was far and away the best player for the Kings in the playoffs and it wasn’t close.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to trash Justin Williams at all!  But look at the entire picture.  The weakness on the Kings is the blueline.  Not that it’s bad, but it’s just not that great.  Doughty is Mr.Everything for that team on the blueline.  He logged nearly 29 minutes a night for this team.  ES he is facing every teams top line, PP, PK, he does it all and on top of it all he has 18 points in 26 games as a D-man.  Williams was a great story, but he wasn’t the best player in the playoffs, Drew Doughty without a doubt was.

 

Finally we have Steve Simmons.  I’m sure few will disagree with this because Simmons is as unlikeable of a reporter as you’ll find.  He is geeky, he is arrogant, maybe he’s actually a great guy but the way it comes across on TV and in print is that he’s a tool (although I’m nowhere near the writer he is, especially when the only word I could come up with was tool).  Regardless, what happened was on the Reporters Sunday morning he said that he believes we will see the Hawks vs the Kings in the WCF for the next 4 seasons.

 

To steal a line from the great Cris Carter….C’MON MAN!  So they’ll go 6 straight years in the WCF?  Detroit and Colorado only met back to back times in the WCF, 3 times overall and that was when there was no cap and they were clearly the top 2 teams!  I love both the Hawks and Kings, and do think we will see them meet up again a couple times in the next 5 years, and that could be extreme.  4 more years?!  6 straight years?!?!?!?!?!

 

Finally, Steve had another.  Same segment, he claims that Kopitar and Carter are the best 1-2 punch down the middle in the league and there isn’t another duo close.  Well….I’m not a smart man, but I could have sworn a team in the league had 2 guys who had each won a Hart and Art Ross EACH….but what do I know?

 

And I mean I’m a guy who thinks Malkin gets pretty overrated in this league.  The guy is purely an offensive player.  His biggest downfall is that he refuses to play a 200 foot game.  But neither does Carter, and offensively Carter isn’t in the same league as Malkin, as much as I love what Carter has become.

 

Kopitar is still one of the most underrated players in the league.  He’s a top 5 guy (my top 5 would be Toews, Crosby, Getzlaf, Kopitar, Datsyuk).  But he isn’t Sid, and even though Kopitar might be better defensively….it isn’t by much, just watch the Olympics if you want to see how great Sid is defensively.

 

So I guess I’m saying to all these guys….SETTLE THE F*** DOWN!!!

 

What a paradox.  I want to be one of these guys, yet I can’t stand how most of them look at the game…or better yet don’t look at the game, just read the stats and overreact to everything.  Anyway, it’ll be done after today.  Next thing is they’ll start overreacting to draft picks, trades and free agent signings and in 3 weeks Stock, Simmons, and others will be telling us all how the Blues are now the best team in the West because they’ve signed Paul Stastny or traded for Jason Spezza.

 

At this point all you can pretty much do is ignore these guys.  Elliotte Friedman, Bob McKenzie, Tyler Campbell, there are only a few people who you can really trust to give you a good analysis of things anymore.  What?!  What do you mean I don’t belong with those 2?!  Combined we break most of the news in the league and combined we have over a million followers on twitter.

 

Follow me on twitter along with my good friends Friedge and Mac @TJ_Soups

Be Honest About It

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That was a heck of a run by the New York Rangers.  They are one of the most balanced teams in the Eastern conference.  But that’s the East.  If you’re Glenn Sather and the Rangers brass you have to compare your team to the elite teams in the league, not in the East.  And if you do that, while you made it all the way to the final, you have to own that you still are just an ok team.

 

So what can they do to get better?  This team is now without their 1st round picks in the next 2 drafts thanks to the Martin St.Louis trade.  Well I guess the first thing is Brad Richards, they’re likely to announce today that they’re buying him out, but I’m not sold on the fact that Richards should be the guy bought out.

 

NashRichards
Richards will be bought out, but the Rangers need to get Nash off the books as well

Does anyone else notice that Rick Nash is awful?  Well…awful for 7.8 mil per.  So he’s 1.2 more a season than Richards, though has 2 less years than Richards does.  They need to rid themselves of both these deals.  But what if Richards is willing to go to a team that may want him and Nash says no to going anywhere?  They need to take as much time as they can figuring this out because a team like the Rangers don’t have any problems drawing UFA’s but they need the cap space to do so.

 

Now if they could find the cap space, Paul Stastny would be an awesome add for this team.  Stastny proved himself in the West this season, especially in the playoffs.  Nathan MacKinnon got a lot of the glory but it was Stastny who was driving that bus.  He’s the 1st line center this team really needs.

 

They also could look into Joe Thornton or Jason Spezza and see if either of them are interested in Broadway.  I have my doubts that Thornton would be.  I believe he’ll want to go to a more quiet market where he won’t face the pressure (Columbus, Florida, the only one he might like is Chicago because he wouldn’t have to be “the guy”).  Spezza is much mroe likely, but the Sens have said they don’t want to see Spezza a lot which means they want to deal him out West.

 

There is another center out there who was reported to be available before the end of the regular season and that was Eric Staal.  Right now all the attention is on Kesler, Thornton and Spezza but it was said that the Canes will look to shed salary this summer and it could mean that Eric Staal gets dealt.  I believe without a doubt he would waive to play with the Rangers, play with another brother, play with a team with a lot of good young talent and a team that just won the East.

 

Then to replace Nash I don’t believe they need to go after a big flashy replacement.  Carl Hagelin proved during this playoff run that he is capable of being a top 6 guy, they have J.T. Miller who was already on the cusp all season ready to step in next year, and Chris Kreider is on the verge of passing Nash as a player.

 

If they really want to get rid of Rick Nash the best way might be to eat 2 mil of his salary.  That would open up a lot more spots for him to play and that he would be willing to go to.  I would guess Ken Hitchcock would be interested in coaching him again, but the Blues can’t take on 7.8 per.  5.8?  Maybe.  But then does that make sense for the Rangers?  Maybe the Blues send you Magnus Paajarvi in return, who would fill Benoit Pouliot’s spot when he walks on July 1st.  Just a thought.

 

But most of this is speculation on my part.  The point of this all is that when teams go on these runs they tend to get complacent and refuse to acknowledge who they really are.  If the Rangers are honest about it, they’ll admit that they’re good but they’re still far from winning a Cup.  The good news is though that they do have a window and a lot of key pieces in place and trade chips to get back to that point and actually compete.  It’ll be interesting to watch what they do.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups