2015 NHL Mock Draft 2.0

2015_NHL_DraftThe lottery has concluded and everyone is livid that the Edmonton Oilers have won it…outside of Oiler fans of course.  So with the 1st round order being set (from picks 1-14 anyway), it makes for the perfect time to roll out mock draft 2.0!

 

As always, a little insight to how I look at things.  I’m looking at what teams have 25-27 and under in their organization.  I look at need more than BPA (best player available) these days as do most teams because it is getting more and more difficult to make trades in the NHL.  Also I try and look for patterns with teams and their past 4 or 5 drafts.  Do they go CHL heavy?  Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids?  Maybe they’re head over heals for Europeans?

 

Remember, just because McKenzie or Redline report or ISS or CSS have one guy ranked higher than another doesn’t mean that he is the BPA for that particular team.  This is why they have their own scouting staffs people.  Ok, so that’s my little pre game speech that I copied and pasted from mock draft 1.0 and probably will for mock draft 3.0.  Let’s get to it.

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h1. Connor McDavid  Erie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Joe Sakic

Again, Sakic but better if that’s possible.  It was lucky, a fluke, whatever you want to call it.  The Edmonton Oilers after 9 years of humiliation caught a huge break that looks as though it’ll alter the franchise both on and off the ice.  I don’t need to say anything about McDavid, you all know about him.  The Oilers aren’t trading this pick, and McDavid is already an Oiler.  It just can’t be made official until June 26th.  This pick just may take the Oilers from the outhouse to the penthouse combined with the changes now going on in Edmonton.

 

 
i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo2. Jack Eichel  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: R

Comparison: Mike Modano

I’m sure most of you know the scouting report already.  Probably a bit more raw talent than McDavid.  Maybe a more explosive skater, better shot, not near the same level of vision and not as defensively polished either.  But that’s in comparison to McDavid.  He would be the top pick of the draft is just about any other year.  But don’t tell Tim Murray all those amazing things.  That’s twice now this offseason that he’s acted like a jack ass.  He did everything he could to finish 30th (and again, well within his right to do that), was disrespectful to Ted Nolan, and pouted about not getting the top pick.  Eichel, Reinhart, and Girgensons down the middle.  Hey Tim….as long as you aren’t a complete moron, you got a budding contender on your hands.  So chin up bud.

 

 

8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmki3. Dylan Strome  Erie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Niklas Backstrom

No doubt in my mind that if the Coytoes stay at 3 the pick is Strome.  BUT…Toronto might be more desperate for that big center than Arizona is.  What about this: Edmonton trades Arizona Draisaitl and 16 for Oliver Ekman-Larsson.  Then Arizona goes to the Leafs and work out a deal, lets say Jake Gardiner and 4 for 3.  That way the Yotes, while losing OEL, would go back to the hotel after day 1 with a potential 1st line center they need, take Hanifin or Provorov at 4, Gardiner can somewhat take over for OEL, save about 2 million, and also take a damn good player at 16.  Just a thought I’ve had, maybe one of the Yotes or Leafs don’t want Dylan Strome.  Anyway, Strome.  He is going to have questions around him basically because he’s had the luxury of being sheltered by McDavid, but he and McDavid hardly ever play together even on the PP.  A couple things scare me personally with Strome.  One is his skating.  Maybe the bigger one as of writing this is how hard he played to win the OHL scoring title, only to be a total dog in the playoffs.  To me, that’s a total red flag, although you never know if a guy could be playing injured. Regardless, he has 1st line center potential.

 

 

1994. Noah Hanifin  Boston College  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

This is just my opinion, but the Leafs must resist the lure of taking Mitch Marner who will likely be the fans choice.  I understand it.  Marner will step right in and he’ll put up big numbers in his career.  But remember when the Lightning took Jonathan Drouin over Seth Jones?  OOPS!!!!!!!!!!  The Leafs have a lot of holes, so you can’t go the “Oilers route” and build around wingers in my mind.  Take Hanifin, or if they prefer Ivan Provorov.  A D-man is a much more vital piece to the puzzle, and if he’s not working out he’ll have much more trade value.  Hanifin I believe has been over scouted a bit this season.  Look at the tools.  6’2, 205, amazing/effortless skater, dominant college player despite being a year younger than a normal freshman.  This kid has it all to be an elite D-man in the league.

 

 

fotih31tn5r345nufo5xxayh35. Ivan Provorov  Brandon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 200  Shot: L

Comparison: Hampus Lindholm

In the 2012 draft the big riser was Hampus Lindholm, ironically who I compare with this year’s big riser Ivan Provorov.  I usually go to Bob McKenzie’s list to see where he has guys, but we won’t see his final list until the week of the draft.  However, I have a strong feeling that Provorov will shoot up from 12 to at least 5, and maybe as high as the 3rd ranked player.  He just excels in all area’s.  He isn’t as good of a skater as Hanifin is, but he’s a very smooth skater, has a bomb from the point, moves the puck tremendously, walks the line well which will make him a great PP QB, he’s positionally sound, his hockey IQ is very high (as some of you may know when it comes to D-men I personally look to intelligence above all else), and he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty in the corners.  I love this kid as a top 5 pick.  Before the Oilers won the lottery, he was the guy I was eyeing with the 3rd or 4th pick for them.  The Canes would be lucky to get him at 5 as they need to continue to build on the back end.  Taking Fleury last year was a good start.

 

 

32tfs723a3bes0p0hb4hgcy1u6. Mitch Marner  London  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 164  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrick Kane

If Lou is such a genius, then he’ll start rebuilding his blueline already.  Adam Larsson is finally starting to flourish but they still have a long way to go.  Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson, these are just so-so kids.  MAYBE one of them takes a huge step and emerges as a top pairing guy, but you can’t just sit back and expect one of them to.  Never can have too many good D-men so start stockpiling them in my opinion.  But Mitch Marner might remind Lou of Parise.  Marner in this scenario is also likely the BPA.  I really like his game and the way I see it is he is the last of the group that makes up the 2nd tier of this draft.  So he could go as high as 3, or he could end up here at 6.  I don’t see him going any lower though.  Supreme skill that measures up to Pat Kane, he has more size than Kane, and is likely a much more mature kid than Kane was at 18.  Scary thoughts.

 

 

1617. Lawson Crouse  Kingston  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 212  Shot: L

Comparison: Dustin Brown

Same pick as last time despite being 2 picks higher.  The Flyers could go in a lot of directions here.  I’ve harped on how they needed to build up their blueline the last few years.  But they have.  They could still go with a kid like Zach Werenski here and it would be a good move.  Ron Hextall is a lot more of a conservative guy than Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren were and so that would be more his style.  But Hextall also was with the Kings, and the Kings had Dustin Brown who was extremely valuable to their 2 Cups, the 1st in particular.  Crouse to me is a lot like Brown, and Brown is a Flyers type of guy.  Crouse is a total wildcard for me though.  I believe a lot of scouts have overrated him.  Upside doesn’t appear to be great, but he brings so many great things to a hockey team that are tough to pass up.

 

 

jhepegs329pc7ugyypebl28wg8. Zach Werenski  Michigan  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 214  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Whitney

Tough year for the Jackets.  Just too many key injuries to overcome this season.  But they still look solid moving forward, however I really think they’re about a year overdue to rebuild their blueline.  Had a chance to grab Travis Sanheim last year and took Sonny Milano.  So maybe they’re all about just taking the BPA, but I can’t imagine they’re willing to overlook the blueline much longer with how the group on the big club looked so poor this season (with the exception of David Savard) and no help is on the way.  Werenski has a real nice all around game and has really shot up the rankings this season.  People might scratch their heads at a Ryan Whitney comparison because it’s not flashy, but remember what Whitney was before he got hurt.  Really solid at both ends of the ice, leaves people wanting more physically.

 

 

dmo1xf3z4pph27vmg3gf9. Mikko Rantanen  TPS  SM LIGA

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Marian Hossa

I could really see Doug Wilson trading back a few spots and taking Travis Konecny like I had last mock draft.  That just makes too much sense to me.  They have 7 picks in this draft, but only 2 in the top 100.  So maybe you trade back with a team like Calgary who have 6 picks in the top 100.  Sharks take Konecny at 15, Flames can grab a Werenski or Crouse.  But of course I have them both off the board.  ANYWAY, the Sharks.  After the disaster of last year’s mock drafts I REALLY don’t predict trades now.  So the Sharks just stand pat and snag Rantanen who I think is the 2nd best winger in this draft.  The Hossa comparison is pretty real.  Size, skill, great at protecting the puck, great 200 foot game, not a fluid skater but still generates a lot of speed.  Would be a great pick for the Sharks who need a bit of everything in their system.

 

 

6410. Thomas Chabot  Saint John  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: T.J. Brodie

While they have a great young team, the system is really weak.  When this organization starts taking defense seriously (just like Edmonton) they’ll start seriously contending, not just fluking out for a season here or there.  The thing that separates them from the Oilers is that their forwards don’t fly the zone and actually want the puck if they don’t have it.  But you still need a good blueline.  In this scenario, they aren’t in a great spot to get one.  Trade up with Jersey?  Trade back with Calgary?  I wouldn’t just sit there and take the BPA because eventually you have to start molding your team and it is easier to move picks than players in this league.  I’m going to guess they do the right thing here and end up with Chabot.  Might be trading back to do it, but this kid has shot up draft boards (Craig Button’s in particular).  He is a very active D-man, despite not being overly quick.  High IQ, good positionally, he would be a good get for the Avs.  I don’t care how they go about doing it.  Trade up, trade back, reach a little at 10, it doesn’t matter to me.  I just want to see these guys start building a blueline.

 

 

9411. Pavel Zacha  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 210  Shot: L

Comparison: Tuomo Ruutu

This kid had a tough season, but when he’s on he brings a style of game to the table that fans will love.  I believe he is without question a winger in the NHL, but he played the middle in Sarnia.  Would be a great add for the Panthers now that they appear to be set on the blueline and down the middle.  And just like last time, I’m cutting this short because nobody really cares about the Panthers.

 

 

107917201412. Travis Konecny  Ottawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 171  Shot: R

Comparison: Zach Parise

Here would be the issue with the Sharks trading back to 15 in hopes of still getting Konecny is that the Stars will likely be sitting on him, if a guy like Rantanen is gone.  I was big on the Stars needing more D, but Klinberg emerged this season, Oleksiak is still young, and of course they took Julius Honka in the 1st round last season.  I freaking love Konecny.  Sure he is small but speedy and fearless.  He’s a character kid with skill and that isn’t easy to find.  If he is still on the board at 16 and the Oilers still own that pick (highly unlikely scenario) I personally would be torn on whether they should still trade that pick or not.

 

 

71jepx81eqzz1l6q9g1g5j1lh13. Mathew Barzal  Seattle  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 177  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Barzal is a total wildcard for me in this draft.  I 100% believe the Kings are going to be looking for a center in this draft.  Kopitar is a UFA next year (would be shocked if he isn’t signed to a massive extension on July 1st), Carter is entering the back 9 of his career, Richards is done, Stoll is a UFA (and likes to party), and NOTHING is on the way at center so they need one pretty bad.  But Barzal could be gone by this point.  Great U 18’s after an injury plagued season.  Before the season was expected to be a slam dunk 1st rounder and kids like that usually go higher than projected as long as their medical’s check out.  I think he’s a potential 1st line center.  Has been compared to RNH since he was a prospect for the WHL Bantam draft.  Speed, vision, great wrist shot, willing to play a 200 foot game, it’s as similar as you’ll find one player to another.

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf14. Kyle Connor  Youngstown  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 182  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Turris

Much like the Kings, the Bruins could use more depth down the middle.  Now they could use a D-man too, but I think Connor’s value here is far too good to pass up.  It wouldn’t be too long before Connor could step into the 3rd line role in Boston and learn the ropes playing behind Bergeron and Krecji.  But as of writing this it is a bit of a mystery with the B’s.  Chiarelli is out, Don Sweeney SOUNDS like he’ll be the new guy but we still don’t know.  It was an organization that had a “type”.  Brandon Carlo would be a reach here, but he would definitely fit their “type” should that philosophy remain.  But people really love Connor.  Such a well rounded game, and while I’m not sure he can be that 1st line center who can carry a team to a Cup, he should be that elite 2nd line center that every contender needs.  Does nothing special, everything great.

 

 

5015. Jakub Zboril  Saint John  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Sergei Gonchar

Again as I’ve been stating, the Flames are a big threat to move up.  They have a stocked system, and it won’t take ALL 7 top 100 picks they own to move up.  If they can get up to 10 or even 6, they’ll be even scarier.  All the talk this week in Alberta is about how great the Oilers are looking once again with McDavid and Chiarelli now in the fold.  But the Flames are going to have a great team for a long time still.  The BOA is about to return and going to be amazing!  Anyway, Jakub Zboril.  He skates well, has a big shot, and is willing to engage physically.  Seems like that would be a perfect guy for them, but they have a lot of good young D on the big club and still have Wotherspoon and Kulak coming so could go with a big winger.

 

 

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16. Timo Meier  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Nail Yakupov

What a gift this pick became.  When they got it back in December, it looked to be a pick 27-30 as the Pens were rolling.  Then for a long time it was stuck at 22, so it had improved but there was lots of time for the Pens to get it back together.  It damn near gave the Oilers 10 more ping pong balls, but ending up 16th is pretty big for them.  I can’t imagine at all they’ll use it though.  It is perfect to package up with one of their 2nd rounders and one of their 3rd rounders to land a top 4 D-man.  Should they use it though, I like the idea of either a RH shot D-man (Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Roy) or Timo Meier who has rocketed up a lot of lists.  But why another winger for the Oilers?  Simple.  It frees them up even more to move out an Eberle or Hall.  Add to this, Meier has good size, is a sniper, great work ethic, and can really fly.  The league is getting ridiculously fast, so the Oilers better be able to keep up which they haven’t been able to do in addition to being soft and undersized.

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk17. Colin White  USA U-18  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrice Bergeron

What a season!  They got swept, but the future is very bright in Winnipeg.  Deepest system in hockey, well run, well coached, big, fast, physical and next season with the Hawks and Blues in cap trouble it could be there year to win the Central.  I will likely point this out in every mock draft now heading into the draft, but if there is one pattern I’ve noticed, it’s that the Jets don’t like going oversea’s for their draft picks.  2 of 30 picks under Kevin Cheveldayoff have been kids out of Europe.  So don’t bet on a Euro going here.  I like them taking a chance on Colin White.  This is a kid who was highly thought of to begin the season but has dropped because of his injury problems.  But he also was getting Jonathan Toews comparisons.  So while he had a bad year, to me he is worth the risk, especially for the Jets who are solid down the middle but not as good as you need to be to win a Cup.  The kid has a great all around game and is a terrific skater.

 

 

2bkf2l3xyxi5p0cavbj818. Jeremy Roy  Sherbrooke  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 189  Shot: R

Comparison: Dan Boyle

I had Jeremy Roy going 18 last time, but that was to the Canucks not the Sens.  Another awesome Canadian story.  As of doing their write up, game 6 is still 18 hours away.  But the fact that they’re in that position is incredible.  And while they don’t have any stars outside of Karlsson, they are just solid as any team in the league lines 1-4 up front, and 1-6 on the back end.  They don’t have a GLARING need that I can see (not one that they’ll fill here anyway), but the blueline could use another high end guy in the pipeline.  As for Roy, scouts seem to be torn on him much the way they were on Josh Morrissey two years ago.  And like Morrissey, Roy is a smaller but highly skilled D-man.  Hasn’t had the season some expected him to have, but still a very intriguing upside.

 

 

yo3wysbjtagzmwj37tb11u0fh19. Oliver Kylington  Farjestad  SHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

Comparison: Sandis Ozolinsh

Again I’m going to say this year they finally go after a D-man in the 1st round.  And we all know how much this organization loves their Swedish kids so this might be the perfect fit.  Oliver Kylington has had a bad season.  Midseason rankings for Bob McKenzie he was still ranked 11th, but he has just gone downhill in a hurry this season to the point where I wonder if he’ll be like a David Musil or John McFarland and fall completely out of the 1st round before it’s said and done?  But for now he’s still viewed as a 15-25 guy by most.  Elite skater, constantly jumping into the rush, remember Ozolinsh when he first came into the league?  That is exactly who Kylington reminds me of.  Ozolinsh would be revered today, but around 2000-2001 everyone was hell bent on changing the guys game rather than just loving having such a great offensive threat from the back end.

 

 

0kcehji928suy4ckk1pdo8s7l20. Jansen Harkins  Prince George  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: David Krecji

Might be a reach for Jansen Harkins here, but he is a bit of a riser this season and guys who rise a little in the eyes of the scouting services always seem to rise a lot for teams.  I still believe the Wild will want a center with Koivu being 32 and Granlund not looking like he will be much more than a solid 2nd line center.  Mind you, I don’t believe Harkins will become any better than that himself but if you don’t have legit number 1 guy down the middle, then you at least need a lot of depth.  Harkins is a very polished player already, really intelligent 2 way kid which will lead scouts to believe he doesn’t have much upside.  But once he puts on 10-20 pounds he could turn into an excellent 2nd line center.

 

 

2xd2efir5fdew26px6kx21. Brandon Carlo  Tri-City  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 185  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonathan Ericsson

Great bounce back year for the Canucks but once again playoff failure.  It’s tough because it kind of feels like they’re in no man’s land right now.  Sedin’s aren’t going anywhere, Bieksa is on the decline, Hamhuis didn’t seem like himself all year long.  Unless they get a huge year out of nowhere from a guy like Horvat, coupled with a rookie like Virtanen making a big splash or perhaps Miller just having 1 more spectacular/career year type season, it seems like there is no hope.  I like the idea of them going D with this pick.  They haven’t taken a D in the 1st round since selecting the late Luc Bourdon 10 years ago.  Everything I read on Brandon Carlo I love, a total throwback.  Great size, RH shot, physical, nasty, joins the rush, big shot, he has all the physical gifts you want in a hockey player.  He needs to be coached up and it’ll be a question of whether or not a team believes they can do that with this kid.

 

 

i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo22. Paul Bittner  Portland  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 202  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Malone

This is the pick the Sabres got from the Islanders, which still could be a later 1st as the Islanders are going to a 7th game with the Caps as of writing this.  I love Paul Bittner here as the Sabres could use some more size on the wings in the system after dealing Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux to Winnipeg.  But much like the Oilers it wouldn’t shock me in the least if Buffalo dealt this pick for immediate help to surround Jack Eichel with more proven players.  Bittner though has all the tools, and will play in the league.  But will he develop into an elite power forward?  He could, but he also could be Ethan Moreau.  Nothing wrong with Ethan Moreau, but you hope to do a little better than that in the 1st round of a deep draft.  Bittner is raw, but it’ll be his high end that may scare teams off not his low end.

 

 

llrs2zxi127vkqgcsvfb23. Erik Cernak  Kosice  SVK

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: R

Comparison: Eric Desjardins

Erik Cernak leaves a little to be desired in the toughness category, but plays a pretty complete game.  Smooth skater, moves the puck well, good postionally, good shot from the point, he’s slowly but surely worked his way up the rankings this season much the way Oscar Klefbom did in 2011.  The Caps have a pretty good blueline right now, but Mike Green is likely on his way out as a UFA and Dmitry Orlov can’t stay, or even get healthy.  So they’re not looking so set and with so many picks used on frowards the last 3 drafts the time is right to go get a solid D prospect.

 

 

8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmki24. Jacob Larsson  Frolunda  SWE

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Eric Brewer

Formerly the Blackhawks pick that came over in a deal the Hawks brass maybe wishes they had back for the playoff healthy scratch Antoine Vermette.  I would guess that with 6 picks in the first 3 rounds the Coyotes package 24 with a 2nd and 3rd and see how far up they can go.  But they’re at 24 right now and if things shake down like this I like them to grab a D-man here.  Jacob Larsson is a safe kid, plays a solid 2 way game and has some grit in his game too.  Very intelligent kid too which I always look for above all else in D-men.  Once he packs on 20-25 pounds he could be a real nice top 4 guy.

 

 

19925. Nick Merkley  Kelowna  WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 187  Shot: R

Comparison: Jiri Hudler

See Leaf fans, I told you in the first mock that the pick wouldn’t end up 30th.  And should the Hawks win the Central, Red Wings win the Atlantic, Islanders win the Metro and Flames win the Pacific, you’re looking at this pick being 4 higher than this!  But 25 is pretty good nonetheless.  So they went D with the 4th pick, have to go BPA here and Nick Merkley.  Big question with him is: winger or center?  If he plays the middle in the pro’s, this might be a total steal.  But I see him as a winger.  Doesn’t have elite wheels which scares me a little, but he has a great all around game.  Vision, shot, gritty, 200 feet, he does it all.

 

 

16126. Jake Debrusk  Swift Current  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Brendan Gallagher

Do you reach here and take a goaltender?  They need one pretty bad in the system.  Maybe trade back?  Unlikely as they have 7 picks in the first 4 rounds.  So do they use 26 to move up from 7?  I could see that, but I don’t know who would possibly trade out of the top 6, especially since nobody has since the Islanders in 08.  Anyway, I have them going with Jake Debrusk mainly because he is their kind of guy.  Yes, they already took a winger at 7, and both guys play similar games.  And the Flyers already have a lot of this type in their system.  But I just can’t see them not taking Debrusk and I can’t see Debrusk at this point not going in the 1st round.

 

 

17361651201427. Filip Chlapik  Charlottetown  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Cody Hodgson

Not a flattering comparison with the year Hodgson had, but it was a tough one to come up with.  The Ducks really need to start addressing center.  I’ve stressed this for a few years now, the Ducks are thin at best down the middle moving forward.  Yes, currently they’re one of the best in the league with Getzlaf and Kesler.  Both guys are 30 though and by the time the late 1st round pick for the 2015 draft is ready to go those guys will be 33 or 34.  Also, Kesler isn’t a picture of health so in 2 or 3 years he might not be able to log many minutes.  They’ve really stocked the cupboard with D-men the last 3 drafts, they’re loaded on the wings, they need some centers.  I kind of like the idea of Adam Musil here, but the fact that Craig Button has him 96th on his list scares me off.  But he fits the Ducks mold.  Filip Chlapik doesn’t at all.  Not a great skater, definitely not small but not a big kid, and they don’t like taking kids out of the Q.  But they need to take a center.  And he makes up for his shortcomings with excellent IQ, determination, plays hard in all 3 zones, and a great shot.  This was easily the most difficult pick I did, I simply had no clue where to go here.

 

 

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28. Nicolas Meloche  Baie-Comeau  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 200  Shot: R

Comparison: Mattias Ohlund

Ok…so this was the Sabres pick and might remain the Sabres pick but the standings as of writing this say that this would be the pick the Jets get from the Evander Kane deal.  Got it?  With this pick I’m going to suggest the Jets grab another D-man.  Possible that Chevy moves back to do this and grab another pick, but point being that he uses this pick to get another D-man.  Meloche is in this range.  He was just outside of McKenzie’s top 30, Button has him at 30, ISS has him 28th, so he’s not a reach.  He needs to work on his balance a bit, but he is a kid who loves to battle in his own zone.  Not a big hitter but he is more than willing to get his nose dirty, and at the other end he can get off a pretty heavy shot.

 

 

12429. Nicolas Roy  Chicoutimi  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 202  Shot: R

Comparison: Mark Scheifele

Same as last time.  And again I’ll state this pick isn’t much about the french Canadian kid being picked by Montreal, but rather them needing the big center still on the board who just happens to be french Canadian.  Roy has slid in the rankings this season, but still is a very intriguing prospect.  He isn’t just one of these big kids who only uses his size to protect the puck, but he engages physically too.  The issue?  His skill set is very raw.  But given the proper amount of time to develop he could become a dominant 2 way center.

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz30. Evgeny Svechnikov  Cape Breton  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Alexander Semin

This is obviously the Rangers pick that came over in the Marty St.Louis deal.  I just have to think with so few needs in Tampa’s system, they package up some of these picks and move up.  They have 9 picks, 6 in the first 4 rounds.  But again, I don’t do trades after the embarrassment which was my final 2 mock drafts last year.  I think they look to add size should they keep their two 1st rounders this year, and this is a good spot to do that.  They also haven’t been scared off by Russians, so this all adds up to them taking the big Russian.  This is WAY lower than a lot of people have Svechnikov, but I feel like people are getting wrapped up in his talent and forgetting that he has some red flags.  He has high end skill, but his skating is a bit suspect, he has no defensive game and he like a lot of Russians before him can be very inconsistent.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Why Would People Think There is an Eastern Bias?

blairsyWhat do you do on your lunch break?  Probably eat lunch hey?  Crazy idea, but I’m guessing most of you do that.  Me?  I write blogs that literally 5’s of people read.  But I had an itch to do this one after I came across one of the biggest trash articles I’ve read.  I’m feeding the beast unfortunately, but you have to read this:

 

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/nhl-should-have-thrown-the-maple-leafs-a-mcbone/

 

Oh poor old Jeff Blair.  MAYBE he should stick to baseball?  It’s pretty funny though.  I don’t even know where to start.

 

I’m a guy who really worries about being a fan boy for the Oilers.  This site is much more Oiler focused than anything else, no doubt.  But I try to be honest about the team and be more of a realist than an optimist or pessimist.

 

But for an actual adult, a guy who is supposedly a respected writer, to write THAT…WOW!  That’s just a new level.

 

I felt bad for the Leafs not winning that lottery.  I wanted the Oilers to win it, but I told people straight up that if it wasn’t the Oilers I wanted the Leafs to win.  I talk about fan bases “deserving” it.  And that takes a lot of backlash, one of my best buddies thinks that’s absurd.  But when I say it (and I can’t speak for everyone) what I mean isn’t that the Oilers fan base deserved McDavid so to speak, but they deserved to catch a big break and have something great go their way for a change which happened to be McDavid.

 

You talk about a franchise who over the last 9 years haven’t made the playoffs, had their top player demand a trade which led to the city being the butt of jokes for the entire time, incompetent management and ownership (which I will get to later), every single bounce go against them.  You know we all talk about how this team needs a top pairing D man, well in 2011 it looked like they had one.  Ryan Whitney had 27 points in 35 games.  Suffers a foot injury which basically ended his career.  I would say that’s a pretty shitty break!

 

So the Oilers caught their break.  The Leafs haven’t caught a break like McDavid….ever.  And I honestly don’t get the Leafs bashing that goes on.  I’m not saying you have to love the team, but everyone who isn’t a Leafs fan seems to take some sort of sick pleasure in kicking that dead horse.  It’s been happening with the Oilers too.  After Pronger left and ever since it has become fashionable to bash not just the Oilers, but the city of Edmonton.  Nobody can wait to talk about how no NHL player wants to go to Edmonton.

 

I guess with Toronto it’s because people dislike the city, but I still just don’t get it.  That fan base has gone through hell for at least 2 different decades now, and haven’t won in nearly 50 years now.  And this isn’t a new opinion of mine after the fact.  I said it about a month ago in one of my pieces.  I would love to see the Leafs return to being an elite team.  The league is better when the Leafs are thriving.

 

HAVING SAID THAT….Jeff Blair, Steve Simmons, Damian Cox, Dave Feschuk, they add to that Toronto hatred.  So while I feel for their fans, a piece like this proves the Eastern bias is very real, at least in this country.

 

Connor McDavid will be “wasted” in Edmonton hey?  Ok, we’ll see about that.  Same thing was said about Crosby in Pittsburgh.  Guess what?  All these superstars go to garbage teams, that’s how the draft works in all sports.

 

“But it’s about exposure”.  Ok, so nobody saw Gretz in the 80’s?  I could have sworn Edmonton was located in the same spot that it is today but maybe I’m wrong.  That was in the 80’s when you couldn’t see every game!  Marketing guys will tell you that when it comes to a generational talent like Crosby, Lebron James, etc. that it doesn’t matter what city they play in.  The marketing people will find them.

 

I will not hide for a second that even as an Oiler fan I do worry that our management group will screw this up.  They do too, which is likely why Bob Nicholson was given full control of the team yesterday.  Does Blair realize that?  Does he not trust Nicholson?  Kevin Lowe if he doesn’t “resign”, at worse has no power any longer.  Darren Dreger seems to think Nicholson will do an incredible job.  Dreger seems to know a thing or two about the league.  But who cares about all that, hey Jeff?

 

Also, while I bash Oilers management as much as anyone, and they should be better than what they’ve been, it seems to be forgotten during the bashing that this is an era of UFA’s and NTC’s.  So, especially the Toronto media, can’t wait to tell everyone about what a dump Edmonton is and how nobody wants to play there, yet they then bash management for not bringing in guys.  Well, you just said nobody wants to go there and anyone who is even decent in this league has a NTC.  So which one is it boys?

 

It is simply amazing what gets printed these days.  Shouldn’t stuff like what he wrote be on low level/meaningless blogs like this and not on Sportsnets website?!?  Blair suggests the NHL should have FIXED THE DRAFT!  I don’t want to write “LOL!!!”, but if there was ever a time for it….

 

From the league’s point of view, Toronto doesn’t need McDavid any more than Edmonton does!  You don’t gain anything financially from him going anywhere in Canada.  Arizona would have been a great spot for him to go from a league point of view, even though most of us believe it would do next to nothing for hockey in the desert.

 

But the fans are a lot more deserving in Canada to see a kid like this than in the US.  I believe it was Mike Brehm from USA Today wrote about how he needed to go to a US market.  Does EVERY great talent have to be in the States?  Canada is just supposed to get pissed on none stop?  GROW THE F*** UP BOYS!

 

I honestly get the sense that it is more of a fear thing than anything else.  The Oilers are loaded with talent without a doubt now, and IF management gets their act together, they have a chance to build a dominant team for the next 10-15 years.  That’s a big IF, but the ingredients are there.

 

Anyway, keep up the great work Jeff.  Your tears taste WONDERFUL!  You fit the mold of a Rogers employee perfectly.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

So What’s The Game Plan?

mcdavid_102214_672Ok, so the Oilers got Connor McDavid.  That is unreal they got so lucky to win that pick.  But the crowd that brought so much vitriol to twitter on Saturday night after the Oilers won weren’t all wrong.  The Oilers are a very flawed team still and have a lot of holes to fill.  What this pick does, is free’s them up to do that.  Management better be ready to get their act together.

 

Let’s start with the head coach.  I said it in a piece on Mike Babcock back on January 8th that IF he does in fact look to move on from the Red Wings that the Oilers would be a great spot to land him as head coach.  Bob Nicholson and Babcock are very familiar with each other from the Olympic teams, Connor McDavid will now be an Oiler, they are a year away from moving into a state of the art facility, and Edmonton is a 5 hour drive from Babcock’s home town of Saskatoon.

 

That’s a pretty intriguing spot for him to turn down you would think.  His entry point would be incredible as we all know the Oilers franchise has never been lower.  You always want to be the guy who follows about 12 guys who failed in the same spot.

 

But if not Babcock, maybe Ken Hitchcock?  Edmonton guy, ties to the organization, and could be on his way out of St.Louis should the Blues get bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs.  Hitch is a little different case.  He’s never really taken over such a young team.  But the Blues in late 2011 were very similar to the Oilers now.  An organization spinning their wheels, Hitch walked in the door and the Blues instantly became contenders.  In fact, the last game the Blues played without Hitch behind the bench, they got dominated by the Oilers.

 

Then Todd Nelson.  This makes it tough on Nelson to get the gig.  But while Nelson isn’t flashy, you can’t deny how great of a job he did and I believe would continue to do for this team.  Players seem to love him, and he knows the players in this organization very well.  That’s how he gets a guy like Anton Lander to go from prospect/suspect to penned into the 3rd line center role next season.  He’s not the flashy hire, but can do the job.

hi-res-185639418-head-coach-mike-babcock-of-the-detroit-red-wings_crop_exact hitchcock1_300 rsz_game_47_nelson

 

That would be my personal order.

 

I would guess with Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor already apparently having the Oilers high on his list of teams to go to that the McDavid factor guarantees he now will be.  And while he had a horrible moment in the Frozen 4 final, this kid does have all the tools to be a starter in the NHL, and the Oilers desperately need not just a number 1 on the big club, they desperately need depth in the organization which O’Connor would supply.

 

Then the draft.  If they do draft McDavid 1st…

 

But seriously, the Penguins pick is interesting.  Knowing these guys running this show, I think it’ll be difficult for them to part with that pick.  And honestly I don’t really blame them.  It’s a DEEP draft.  The 16th pick would give them a damn good defenseman.  Or a kid like Lawson Crouse or Travis Konecny could be there and while we all know a winger is far from what they need, the heart, grit and speed both of those kids provide is a lot of what this Oilers franchise really needs.

 

They don’t just have the 16th pick to dangle though.  Yakupov’s improvement to me makes Jordan Eberle an elite trade chip to play.  Despite Justin Schultz having a rocky couple seasons since a great rookie year in 2013 if a trade comes along that upgrades the team over him then he can be in play.  Also, with Klefbom emerging and Darnell Nurse maybe half a season in the AHL away, Martin Marincin has some value and would be a piece who could be moved.

 

I personally wouldn’t move Nugent-Hopkins because he still has incredible potential, character, and is developing a great 200 foot game, and top line center’s are nearly impossible to find.  I also wouldn’t move Hall.  No doubt Hall would bring back more than anyone else, but the game is getting faster and faster, and so I would think the Oilers would want a team that can put blueline’s on their heels all game.  McDavid, Hall, Yakupov all do that and the team needs more of that.  Which again, might be had at pick 16.

 

I’m not saying I wouldn’t move it though.  I just wouldn’t give it away.  I think it should be packaged along with Leon Draisaitl who is still an awesome prospect but would be wasted on either the Oilers 3rd line center spot or on the wing, and one of the kids (in this scenario likely Justin Schultz).  I would dangle that package for a D-man and I’m looking at you David Poile in Nashville.

 

You might have to pry one of Seth Jones or Shea Weber from Poile’s dead hands, but it does make a lot of sense for the Preds to jump all over a package like this and use one of the studs on D to do it.  Nashville is terrible up the middle, and have never had a real stud center to build around.  Weber is a huge ticket and will be starting the back 9 of his career, so I would THINK he would be the one to go.  But Poile seemingly gets very annoyed when Weber is brought up as a trade candidate, and while it might be juvenile on my part to suggest he would do it out of spite, I’m going to suggest that he rather trade Seth Jones out of spite.

 

Another possibility is the Arizona Coyotes.  16 and Draisaitl, does that fetch Oliver Ekman-Larsson?  You get the big center, then can use the 3rd pick to take Noah Hanifin (or MAYBE Ivan Provorov with the way he is shooting up draft boards), and you collect an extra 1st rounder.  Oh yeah, and Ekman-Larsson has a deal that next season sees him making more (6 mil) than his cap hit of 5.5 per season.  So for a cash strapped franchise like the Yotes, does it make sense?

 

Also I’ve said it before and will say it again: Dion Phaneuf.  He would be massive upgrade for the Oilers and wouldn’t cost much in terms of assets.  Is he a number 1?  No.  Does he bring a lot of what the Oilers need to the table?  Hell yes he does.

 

But then you still need a goaltender Oilers fans.  I like a few guys, but none of them are sure fire things.

 

wardzoom111813Cam Ward.  He would be like Phaneuf in that he would really only cost money, and he would be playing for a contract.  He’s used to not having a good defensive squad in front of him too, and still has tread left on his tires.

 

jonathan-bernier-nhl-arizona-coyotes-toronto-maple-leafs-850x560Jonathan Bernier.  He would cost assets for sure, but he was amazing for the Leafs in 2014, and while 2015 didn’t go well for him, it didn’t go well for any of the Leafs!  I believe you’re buying low with Bernier, even though he still wouldn’t be out and out cheap.

 

462687182_slideAntti Niemi.  He’s won a Cup!  He’s never really been BAD in San Jose, took them to the conference final in 2011.  And he literally only costs money as he’s a UFA.  But is he a legit number 1?  I’m torn on him to be honest.  I think he’s good, but the upside on others intrigues me more.

 

Craig AndersonCraig Anderson.  Speaking of upside, he’s on the decline.  But he is a lot like Cujo was in Edmonton in that the more work he sees, the better he is.  As soon as you gave Cujo 2 way forwards and steady D playing in front of him, he went from Terry Sawchuk to Dominic Roussel.  Injuries have bit him hard lately though so he is a risk.  Still, has a great track record of late and might be perfect for the situation.  Would Jordan Eberle get them Curtis Lazar and Craig Anderson?  I really don’t know, but if it did then from an Oilers POV I would be all over that (meaning Ottawa likely says hell no).

 

10827626And finally….Devan Dubnyk.  Would they really do it?  Would Devan seriously go back to Edmonton?!  I highly doubt it, BUT I would say that McDavid gets him thinking about it.  I’m guessing though he wouldn’t sign with MacTavish seeing how MacTavish pretty openly shopped around for his replacement in the summer of 2013.

 

You can’t walk out of this off season without a major upgrade both on the blueline and in net.  Absolute MUSTS for the Oilers.

 

Next up?  Buyouts.  Andrew Ference?  MAYBE.  But I have a tough time buying him out.  I do believe he’s a great guy to have in the room and can influence these kids off the ice with how hard he works and the charitable work he does.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just a sucker but I still think you need guys like him and Scrivens around such a young group.

 

But definitely Nikita Nikitn and definitely Teddy Purcell.  4.5 for each guy with 1 year left on their deals.  That would make each a cap hit of 1.5 million for the next 2 seasons.  I would rather go that route than have them take up 9 million again this season.  Maybe you get lucky and someone takes a 1 year chance on one of them.  I almost typed that without laughing…

 

What about UFA’s you ask?  Well, it isn’t a great pool this summer.  One guy that would intrigue me if I’m in Oilers management is Mike Green.  As my buddy Jonas said to me last night, Green is what the Oilers want Justin Schultz to be.  If you end up dealing Schultz and bringing in Green, that’s a win in my mind (depending on the cost of course).

zimbio
Green would be high on my list, but you can’t go overboard with the price or term trying to get him signed

Another guy I believe they’ll have interest in is Jeff Petry.  MacTavish basically said so on trade deadline day that he would be making an offer on Petry if he gets to July 1st.  Petry has all the tools to be a top pairing guy (not to be confused with a number 1 or even number 2 D-man).  He was becoming that guy under Todd Nelson and perhaps with McDavid added to the fold (getting sick of that yet?), it will help lure Petry back into the fold.

 

At the end of the day, there are a lot of different ways this could go.  I personally don’t care which direction is taken, just as long as a f***ing direction is finally taken.  It is time to put the accelerator down.  You have your stud to build around, you have an over abundance of talent that you can wheel and deal for the D and goaltending you desperately need.  Craig MacTavish has to finally deliver as a GM.  Oilers management was out of excuses going into THIS season.  Next season, if you miss the playoffs with a phenom in the fold…I don’t know if a word exists that could describe the incompetence that would be.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

 

You Mad Bro?

BX4Uv-iCUAAHPfzRemember when that line was sweet?!  I like to jump on trends a good year and a half after they have been beaten into the ground.  I would say that’s…wait for it…WINNING!  It’s 3:34 AM as I’m writing this, I may wake up to realize this is the worst opening I’ve ever written which would be saying something!

 

So last night I saw a lot of hate on twitter around 6:15 PM MST.  Saw some people lose their minds in a good way, but mostly just hate.  A lot of people talking about how the Oilers screwed up their other picks and they’ll screw McDavid up too.  A lot of how the fans and team didn’t deserve McDavid.  A lot how McDavid didn’t look happy.  Let me go through these.

 

“They’ll ruin McDavid just like they did Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Yakupov”.

 

I asked this yesterday to a buddy of mine on twitter, and I’ll ask it again…who did they ruin?  Taylor Hall was the highest scoring LW in the NHL in both the 2013 season (50 points in 45 games) and 2014 (80 points in 75 games).  I’m no math major, but I would say that’s a pretty good player.  Now granted, Hall’s overall game needs work.  But he’s a winger, and while that is no excuse for being poor in your own zone, most top 6 wingers aren’t that great defensively.  Needs to clean it up, but he’s 23 not 33.

 

Jordan Eberle?  One of the highest scoring players in the 2nd half of the season?  76 points in 78 games in 2012, 65 points in 80 games last season, 63 points in 81 games this season.  The 22nd overall pick in the 2008 draft was supposed to be better than a 60 point winger at a time where the top scorers in the league don’t even hit 90 points!?

 

Ah, but Nugent-Hopkins.  That’s where you got me, right?  Not really.  First thing you need to understand about Nugent-Hopkins is that when they drafted him he was expected to take time to reach his full potential.  He was as far from a finished product as you’ll see going 1st overall.  Maybe his rookie season (52 points in just 62 games) gave people much higher expectations?

 

But I’ll use this comparison so to speak: Sidney Crosby.  Not in ANY WAY suggesting Nugent-Hopkins is like Crosby or has that potential.  What I will say is that the lack of quality defensive center’s on the Pens hurts Crosby’s offensive game a bit.  Too much defensive responsibility hurts the offensive production, and the same can be said for RNH.

 

Back to back 56 point seasons matched up against the top lines in the West every night, and he’s 21.  Would he be putting up bigger numbers elsewhere?  Yeah, more than likely.  Ruined?  I’m sorry but he’s not.

 

As for Yakupov, well that’s your best case if you’re trying to tell everyone that the Oilers ruin everyone.  But Yakupov was the leading rookie scorer in 2013, and was back to that form when Todd Nelson stepped in as Oilers head coach.  So it really was only under Dallas Eakins where Yakupov underachieved, just like most of the Oilers did.

 

So I’m not really getting where that opinion is coming from.  They didn’t draft well and rushed players from 1995-2007.  That is what is hurting this franchise today, not the guys they’ve JUST drafted.  No supporting cast coupled with quality UFA’s not wanting to go to Edmonton and incompetent management who can’t make the right trades or coaching hires.  But they aren’t ruining the high picks that they’ve drafted and won’t “ruin” McDavid either.

 

Another thing that was said a lot, including by myself was that the Oilers fan base really deserved to win that lottery and have something good happen to them after so much absolute shit to put up with from June 19th, 2006 until April 18th, 2015.

 

But no, there were a few morons I came across on twitter trying to make the argument that they didn’t “deserve” to win it.  That nobody “deserves” anyone.  One guy in particular I seen making that argument I’m pretty certain has never bought a ticket to an NHL game in his life.

 

Had he ever bought one, or better yet had he ever bought season tickets, he would likely want to see a winner.  In Edmonton, you pretty much have to keep your season tickets.  There is a waiting list.  So if the team ever turns it around and becomes a great team again, good luck ever getting tickets let alone season tickets.

 

So these people were viewing season tickets as an investment.  Investing time and money in the team they love.  Those people DESERVED this.  You don’t pay the money, that’s your decision and that is fine.  I don’t pay the money and won’t as I’ve stated in the past until things start changing in some form.  But some people do and after 9 years of only coming close to the playoffs twice, they deserve to see one of the best prospects ever to come along live 41 times a season.

 

And finally, “McDavid didn’t look happy to go there”.  Do you really think the guy was going to be ecstatic about going to Buffalo?  Or Arizona?  Toronto?  Carolina?  None of these teams are good.  He hasn’t talked to anyone from any of these organizations, and while we know what’s going to happen with the pick, he wasn’t drafted last night.  That takes place on June 26th.

 

If he looks miserable that night, then ok you would definitely have something.  Last night though, had to be nothing short of awkward for him.  I thought it was a bit ridiculous that they brought him in for it, and was REALLY ridiculous that they had Hanifin and Strome there.  Why?  For what?

 

Basically what I’m saying with all of this, to quote what the kids say: “haters gon hate”.  If you don’t like the team, just say so!  Be honest!  Is it that difficult?  Its ok to dislike something for whatever your reason is.  I got a friend who doesn’t really dislike the Oilers but can’t stand overzealous Oiler fans (of whom there are naturally tons of in Northern Alberta) and that’s ok!  Quit looking to take some fabricated stance.  Canuck fans, Flames fans, or just people that don’t like the Oilers.  Just say so.  They got McDavid and you don’t like them so you’re pissed.

 

I’ll leave you with this: If you had these problems this year, than I’m sure you had the same issues last year with the always garbage Florida Panthers winning the lottery and getting Ekblad….Oh that’s right, none of you said a word.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Had To Catch a Break Sometime

c1b72e20-e62a-11e4-ac05-7b12ae10444b_CC6fReVUIAATCPjJune 17th, 2006.  Why is that date significant?  Well the fact is that most Oiler fans know that date very well.  That was the day that game 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final took place.  The Oilers flat out curb stomped the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 to tie the final at 3 games a piece.  What followed for the Oilers and there fans was 9 seasons of absolute dog shit.

 

I’m sorry I couldn’t come up with a better term than dog shit, but that’s what it’s been.  The misery of losing a game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.  Chris Pronger, just 10 months after signing a 5 year contract to play in Edmonton and just a week after nearly leading the Oilers to the Stanley Cup demands a trade.

 

A lot of guys left Edmonton via free agency after that season, but none of them were as bad as Pronger…or the guy who was dealt 8 months later.  Ryan Smyth, one of the most popular Oilers of the post Gretzky era was dealt to the New York Islanders.  The centerpiece of the return for Smyth was a kid named Ryan O’Marra who at the time looked like a can’t miss prospect.  He missed.  In fact he never came close.

 

Incompetent management might not even come close to describing how bad this franchise was run.  Kevin Lowe would tell everyone how things were about to change and a blockbuster trade was just around the corner, or else a huge free agent signing was coming on July 1st.  Nothing like overselling and under delivering.

 

Then Daryl Katz bought the team.  Finally, it looked as though the dark days were about to end.  Steve Tambellini was brought in as the new GM, Kevin Lowe was President of hockey ops, things looked up.  Who would have guessed that day things would get MUCH worse.  But they did.

katz16.jpg
What seemed like such a huge day for Oiler fans has actually produced an on ice nightmare

 

After just missing the playoffs in 2009, they went whale hunting again.  Marian Hossa and Jaromir Jagr had turned them down the year before, but this time it was through a trade and the target was disgruntled Ottawa Senator Danny Heatley.  Only problem was that Heatley had a no trade clause, and after it had been reported that he would be ok with going to Edmonton, he told the Senators no after they worked out a trade with the Oilers.  Management then proceeded to literally beg him.  They even went as far as to send Heatley a DVD on the city of Edmonton, like the whole thing hadn’t been humiliating enough for Oiler fans.

 

The 2010 season went as badly as chasing Heatley went.  Injury after injury after injury that crushed any hope of competing for a playoff spot after a 6-2 start.  Management finally admitted that they had been going about things all wrong and that a complete rebuild was needed.  They heavily invested into developing their draft picks and were going to take the draft a lot more seriously.  This was exactly what Oiler fans had been clamouring for.

 

Management has stayed true to their word.  But the problem with that is they have no clue of what players value is around the league.  So from the outside looking in, it appears that they’re terrified to make a trade and won’t pony up.  Tambellini is shown the door near the end of the 2013 season after failing to make a splash at the 2013 deadline with the Oilers actually in playoff contention.

 

Enter old boy clubber Craig MacTavish.  MacTavish comes in and basically says Tambellini didn’t have the balls to make a big trade and uttered those infamous words: “bold moves”.  So we are back to overselling and under delivering.

 

Dallas Eakins is brought in as head coach and after all the shit the fan base got put through, perhaps the most humiliating and darkest days in the franchise history was about to take place.  I personally wanted to give Eakins every chance, and it wasn’t all his fault, and I never forgot that Dallas, the Rangers, and the Canucks all wanted to hire the guy in the summer of 2013.  But it became clear after he was let go that he was an unbelievable disaster.  Stories leaked out about him taking away things like the players ping pong table in the dressing room, and many players started to perform either as many had expected them to, or back to the level they had been at.

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People forget, while the Oilers got Eakins they were far from the only ones looking to land the young Marlies coach

 

The Todd Nelson coached Oilers of 2015 had some character.  They played for each other and they played for their head coach.  They brought this every night they stepped on the ice.  The organization, as f***ed up as it was, didn’t look to tank while other organizations (perfectly within their rights) did so.

 

Karma.  As I say in one of the other pieces today, the fans really deserved this, and the team to an extent did as well by playing hard and not looking to accumulate better odds.  Does management deserve this after being clearly incompetent for so long?  No, and neither does the owner.  They have been a flat out disgrace and that won’t be lost on me in the weeks and months to come.

 

But after 9 horrific years, this die hard fan base that won’t quit buying season tickets and won’t quit watching the games (I think of a couple buddies of mine like Jeff Patterson and Nahreman Issa who support the team literally no matter what), karma finally kicked in and gave them something (in this case someone) to really get excited about.

 

The team caught a break.  Very likely the first real break since Cory Stillman fanned on this pass….

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2015 Stanley Cup Playoff Preview

2015-stanley-cup-smlSo is anyone else REALLY turned on about the playoffs starting?  I’m kidding, I’m not turned on….much….

 

5 Canadian teams, unreal.  At the start of the season it was likely 1, MAYBE 2 (Vancouver) that would get in.  I’m proud to say I had the Sens getting in, and I’m not afraid to say that I fully thought they were done like everyone on the planet did when they were 14 out on February 10th.  Shocking.  The Flames, shocking.  The Jets, shocking.  But they’re all in, and the playoffs are a even better when you have Canadian buildings getting their roofs blown off.

 

This has potential to be an incredible playoffs once again.  Door couldn’t be any more open than it is for just about anyone to win it all.  Some incredible first round matchups and it’s going to be another fun 2 months!

 

West

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Anaheim (1st in Pacific) vs Winnipeg (2nd wildcard)

Something just hasn’t felt right about the Ducks all season.  They ended up 3rd overall, they got that elite 2nd line center that they needed last summer, the D is a year older, I should like them against a franchise playing in only their 2nd playoff series ever and have yet to win a playoff game.  I SHOULD.  But I don’t.  I like the Jets to win maybe more than anyone else believe it or not.  They got a great blueline who could give Getzlaf and Perry a ton of problems.  They got the big bodies up front that will give the young Ducks blueline fits and wear them down.  And if Pavelec can keep up his play, they have unreal goaltending.  Oh and lets not forget, that crowd in Winnipeg is going to be INSANE.

Jets in 6

 

Vancouver (2nd in Pacific) vs Calgary (3rd in Pacific)

>Perhaps Pavel Bure's finest moment as a Canuck: Scoring against Flames goalie Mike Vernon during double overtime in Game 7 of 1994 Western Conference quarterfinal at Saddledome in Calgary. Bure's goal kick-started Canucks' run to Stanley Cup final. &#151

Like most, I’m still stunned the Flames are in this spot.  I don’t believe the Flames are SO much more hardworking than everyone as the media will have you believe, but I do think they work their bags off and everyone is having a career year…EVERYONE.  This is the Flames season.  If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Flames.  But I like the Canucks in this series.  I think making the playoffs was the Flames Cup, and I know the Canucks have loads more experience than Calgary does.  Doesn’t mean I don’t think the Flames can win this series, absolutely they can.  But I don’t believe they will.

Canucks in 7

 

St. Louis (1st in Central) vs Minnesota (1st wildcard)

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This is the toughest series for me to pick.  The Blues are the better team.  But the Wild are hotter.  The Wild also have the better goaltending.  But Dubnyk has zero playoff experience.  The Blues lost to the Hawks in 6 last year.  So did the Wild.  In the end, I believe what is going to happen is that they Blues will wear down the Wild.  While I really don’t like Brian Elliott or Jake Allen in goal and can’t figure out why the Blues didn’t address their goaltending, but I think this team is good enough and now experienced enough to over come that and get passed Minny, but this will be a tough series.

Blues in 6

 

Nashville (2nd in Central) vs Chicago (3rd in Central)

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I didn’t have much trouble picking this one, which probably means the opposite will happen.  But the Preds haven’t been good in the second half of this season.  Rinne has come back down to earth, so has James Neal, I like the blueline moving forward but I don’t like it that much right now.  And I HATE how the Preds matchup with the Hawks down the middle.  Quenville can throw out either of his top 2 lines and they’ll give any Nashville line fits.  Preds win the goaltending matchup, but I believe Rinne will have to stand on his head for the Preds to have any shot in this series

Hawks in 5

 

East

Montreal (1st in Atlantic) vs Ottawa (1st wildcard)

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Montreal is better pretty much across the board.  Experience, speed, between the pipes.  But the Sens own the Habs.  And Andrew Hammond is playing out of his skull right now.  Lets not BS anyone though, the Sens aren’t playing that well.  They’re an amazing story, but much like the Flames in the West the Sens seemingly got every single bounce possible to help them along.  I think they’ll make it a good series, but I don’t think they’ll pull the upset

Habs in 6

 

Tampa Bay (2nd in Atlantic) vs Detroit (3rd in Atlantic)

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Much like the Preds, the Wings haven’t been too good in the 2nd half of this season.  I just think so many of their key guys are old now and simply wear down over the course of the season.  Last year I had them to upset the Bruins but what happened was they emptied their tank to get in the playoffs.  I think once again their tank might be empty.  The only thing I don’t like about the Lightning is experience.  But they have the goaltending, have the offense, have the number 1 horse on the blueline, and they’re maybe the fastest team in the league.  Should be a good series.  Wonder if Steve Yzerman will get mentioned….

Lightning in 7

 

NY Rangers (1st in Metropolitan) vs Pittsburgh (2nd wildcard)

Henrik Lundqvist

No chance the Pens pull this off.  They are extremely flawed, beat up, limped into this playoff spot, rely on Sid to do far too much of the heavy lifting which limits his offensive abilities, and the Rangers might be the most well balanced team in the league.  Rangers got them in 7 last year, I don’t see it going nearly that long this time around, and it’s rare that there isn’t at least one sweep in the first round.

Rangers sweep

 

Washington (2nd in Metropolitan) vs NY Islanders (3rd in Metropolitan)

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This is going to be a damn fun series to watch!  I’m expecting it to be high scoring, physical and intense.  But having said that I just don’t like the matchup for the Islanders.  I’ve gotten burned a lot picking the Caps in the past, so they make me real nervous.  And as good of a coach Barry Trotz has been, his playoff track record isn’t great.  Still, I’ll take them at least to win this series, and unfortunately for fans, I think we’ll only get 2 games of the amazing Islanders crowd.

Caps in 5

 

Ok, so that’s the 1st round.  But who do I have winning everything?  I know you’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation…

 

Western Conference Champs

Even though Kane’s status remains up in the air, I love the Hawks.  Vermette is such a valuable player for them to have acquired, as they’ve never had a real good 2nd line center.  And it does sound like Kane will be back possibly in this first round.  So with no LA, and the Blues still with no goaltending, I think the door is open for the Hawks to get back to the final, but I’m leery of a team who have played so much hockey the last 2 seasons.  As a side note, I believe it’ll be the Jets they knock off in the conference final.

 

Eastern Conference Champs

I have no clue.  I can make the case against every Eastern team.  Habs don’t have much experience, Rangers made it through last year and are likely to wear down this year, Tampa is really inexperienced, Detroit is too old, Caps aren’t trustworthy, Isles are too flawed.  I’m going to say the Canadiens, but I don’t trust this pick at all.

 

Stanley Cup Champs

I’m going with the Blackhawks, but this year more than any I can remember I believe the door is WIDE ASS OPEN.  Here is literally the list of teams I believe can win it all: St. Louis, Chicago, Minny, Vancouver, Winnipeg, NY Rangers, Montreal, Tampa, Washington.  9 of 16 can win the Cup in my mind.  9.  So I’m basically picking from that group.  I do like the Hawks better than all of them, but I question how much gas they’ll have in the tank.

 

Hawks in 6 to win the Cup

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

2015 MLB Season Preview

ryan-vogelsong-commissioners-trophy-madison-bumgarner-mlb-world-series-san-francisco-giants-kansas-city-royals-850x560Spring time people!  NHL playoffs, NBA playoffs, NFL draft, the Masters, and of course the start of the MLB season.  Best time of the year to be a sports fan, tied with October.  So I’m not going to spend too much time on the opening, just a little preview on what I see going down in Major League Baseball this season, which I will regret making public about one month in.  One thing that makes me know I’m wrong: I have all 2014 division champs repeating.

 

AL East

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1. Baltimore Orioles

Defending division champs don’t have great starting pitching but their defense, bats, bullpen and manager more than make up for that shortcoming.

 

2. Boston Red Sox

They definitely spent a lot to improve, but I still don’t believe it is enough to take back the AL East crown.

 

3. Toronto Blue Jays

I’m in the minority, but I felt like this club hardly improved this off season, and now are without Marcus Stroman for the season.  Bullpen is a question mark too.

 

4. Tampa Bay Rays

Everyone is counting them out.  I’m not so sure about this.  This is a club that underachieved last season and still have a ton of great young talent.

 

5. New York Yankees

They would need a lot of grizzled vets to stay healthy all year, and I just can’t see it happening.  Swapping out the Captain for the A-hole doesn’t help either.

 

AL Central

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1. Detroit Tigers

This is likely the year they fall back, but until they do I just can’t pick against them.  Still have an incredible staff, still have the most feared hitter in the game.

 

2. Cleveland Indians

This year’s “sexy pick”.  Sports Illustrated has them winning it all.  For whatever reason, the “sexy pick” never meets expectations, so I can’t have them higher.

 

3. Kansas City Royals

The defending AL champs I believe will be hard pressed to have a repeat performance.  Ned Yost is a seemingly awful manager, but it works.

 

4. Chicago White Sox

Product of an improving division, the Chi Sox could easily finish 2nd in this division and should be in the playoff hunt.  Best off season in baseball.

 

5. Minnesota Twins

Ron Gardenhire is out as manager after 13 seasons.  Paul Molitor is in.  I loved Paul Molitor, but this is going to be a rough year for him.

 

AL West

angels-clinch-al-west-players-celebrate-with-fans-spray-crowd.vadapt.620.high.0

1. L.A. Angels

All that money spent finally started to pay off last season.  Great pitching, great hitters, best player in the game.  I might be

 

2. Seattle Mariners

Hasn’t “this is the year the M’s break through” been the slogan for like 5 seasons now?  Talent is there but I’m still not sold despite an amazing 2nd half last year.

 

3. Oakland Athletics

Tough to pick them to finish 3rd basically because Billy Beane seemingly works miracles every year.  Lost a lot, but I love what they still have.

 

4. Houston Astros

A lot of young talent has been amassed, and now is time to begin progressing.  I believe most Astros fans would be good with 75-80 wins.

 

5. Texas Rangers

No Yu Darvish this season…YIKES!  In 2012 it was looking like this was the elite franchise in all of baseball.  Now, they look like the AL version of the Phillies.

 

AL Wildcard Winners

Boston Red Sox

Seattle Mariners

 

AL Awards

MVP: Adam Jones, Baltimore

The guy puts up MVP numbers pretty much every year, and will again this season.

 

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle

He’s due for one.  The guy is insanely good and has been now for nearly 10 seasons.

 

Rookie of the Year: Daniel Norris, Toronto

I’m bias, sue me.  Unreal season for the Jays developing pitchers last year after it looked like the 2012 trades left the cupboard bare.  Norris is a stud.

 

Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay

This award always goes to the surprise teams manager.  I don’t believe they’ll have a big year, but the talent is there for it to happen.

 

NL East

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1. Washington Nationals

So much talent, but 2 early postseason exits in 3 seasons has some people wondering whether or not they can get it done when it matters.

 

2. Miami Marlins

Another sexy pick of many this season, but I’m on board with this one because the division is so weak.  I loved the Mat Latos trade for them.

 

3. N.Y. Mets

A lot of people really like this team, I think they’re a year away.  For their sake hopefully next season Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard will be ready to go.

 

4. Atlanta Braves

Rebuild time for the Braves.  No more Upton brothers, no more Craig Kimbrel, no more Kris Medlin, no more Jason Hayward.  It’ll be a rough season.

 

5. Philadelphia Phillies

There just seems to be no hope for this franchise in the near future.  Too many bad contracts that are unmovable, and now Cliff Lee could be done for good.

 

Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals

NL Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Same old, same old here.  The best organization in baseball just keeps doing their thing year in, year out.  It’s boring, and it wins.

 

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

Best young outfield in the game, really solid young pitching staff, and I think we can officially declare they’ve established a winning culture after years of losing.

 

3. Chicago Cubs

They’re probably going to take a big step this season, but they’re still likely a year or two away from contending.  Insane amount of high end talent coming though.

 

4. Milwaukee Brewers

I really don’t know what to make of the Brew crew.  One thing I know is they need to move back to their old symbol ASAP.  No World Series until then.

 

5. Cincinnati Reds

Rebuild mode for the Reds after a few years of contending.  Votto is wearing down, Phillips is old, Bruce has peaked, Cueto might be on the way out.

 

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NL West

1. L.A. Dodgers

Don’t have much doubt they’ll take this division again.  Biggest payroll and big talent still in the system.  One of the best organizations in the sport.

 

2. San Francisco Giants

Every 2nd year they miss the playoffs.  Everyone as caught on to this trend, so maybe this is the year they buck it and go back to back?

 

3. San Diego Padres

Vastly improved and added to that Sunday with the trade for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton.  They have the talent to compete with the Dodgers and Giants.

 

4. Colorado Rockies

This team just seems to be going nowhere after some successful seasons in 07 and 09.  But that was 6 years ago….#math.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Talk about a franchise going nowhere.  New leadership is great, but they have a lot of work to do to get back to where they were in 2001.

 

NL Wildcard Winners

Miami Marlins

San Francisco Giants

 

NL Awards

MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington

One of these years he’s going to break out in a big way.  This was my pick last year, and if he doesn’t do it this year he might be my pick NEXT year!

 

Cy Young: Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs

Now that he’s got the money, maybe he’ll take it easy.  But I doubt it, and going to the NL Central could be Christmas for this hardened AL East vet.

 

Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant, Cubs

Why fight it.  The kid is ridiculous.  He’ll be there in 2 weeks and with the way his spring went he may hit 30 out this season.

 

Manager of the Year: Mike Redmond, Marlins

They aren’t going to be a big surprise should they make the playoffs, but my thinking here is that he wins this if they win the NL East, which is possible.

 

World Series

Seattle Mariners vs St.Louis Cardinals

In the Post Season I would love the Mariners pitching, and another trend that runs with the Giants winning every other year is that the Cards make the World Series in those other years.  Something else I like about this pick…nobody else is making it.

 

World Series Champions

Seattle Mariners

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups