Hot Takes – Feb. 27th, 2018

Held off a day to do this.  Well, I actually just forgot to do it on Sunday night.  But then when I remembered I had forgot on Monday morning, I thought it would actually be fine since it was the trade deadline so it would make more sense to do post trade deadline.  I’ll hit on all the teams and what I thought of their moves or lack of moves, but as always, I must talk a lot…maybe far too much…about the Oilers, and once again Peter Chiarelli’s failure’s as a GM.

 

Let’s go over the whole weekend.  The Brandon Davidson trade, I hated it.  Now, some really liked it.  They liked it because they viewed it as “you can’t pay a number six/seven 1.6-1.75 million a season in a cap world”.  Others liked it because “you turned a waiver pickup into a third round pick in what’s projected to be a terrific draft”.  Real strong points.  Here’s why it was ridiculous though: Brandon Davidson shouldn’t be this teams six/seven, he should be their number five.  He’s proven under Todd McLellan that he’s a capable number five defenceman.  I would have felt extremely comfortable going into next season with Davidson as their five.  Maybe you’ll want to upgrade on this at next year’s trade deadline, but he was full value to get that chance.  Instead, going into next season as the number five guy?  Kris Russell, at four million per.  THAT’S my problem with it.  And you know that Chiarelli won’t even explore getting rid of Russell.

 

Next up, Letestu.  And this was actually a terrific deal.  I had to look at it twice.  Pontus Aberg, as I said on Twitter, I’m a big fan of!  Great wheels, plays with some balls, was looked at as a possible first rounder in 2012 because of the skill he possessed, and is only 650K next season.  So I really liked it!  How did Peter Chiarelli, a man who has lost so many deals lately crush this one?!  I could have heard this wrong, but it sounded like in his presser yesterday that Chiarelli said that the Preds approached him about doing it.

 

Finally, Patrick Maroon.  This was my major concern around Friday or so, when watching “Insider Trading” on TSN, Pierre LeBrun talked about the Oilers possibly being able to receive a first round pick for Maroon, but then went onto say that Peter Chiarelli wanted a prospect who was NHL ready.  From that minute on I really felt like Chiarelli was going to drastically drop the ball here and boy did he ever deliver on that!  Reading between the lines of what Chiarelli said at his press conference, it really felt like had they just wanted picks, they could have got something like a 2018 second and a 2019 third, or a 2018 first, or maybe even a 2019 first (guaranteed it would have been lottery protected), which as I said earlier is projected to be a much better draft.  Any of those would have been tremendous value for Maroon.  But Chiarelli just HAD to get that prospect.  Couldn’t not get a prospect.  And it couldn’t be any prospect, it had to be an older prospect.  Preferably a “ready” prospect.  Who did he get?  J.D. Dudek, who is being outproduced at Boston College this season by Oilers 2016 5th and 6th rounders Graham McPhee and Aapeli Rasanen…who are also two years younger than Dudek…and if you added either one of them to a trade offer you’d likely get laughed out of the room (although I personally like both and do believe they were great picks for where they were picked).  It’s just so FUCKING typical of Chiarelli.  He gets fixated on getting a certain return, and he can’t adjust that.  He doesn’t have a plan B, C, D, E, well you know the alphabet!  And if you’re going to be a good GM in this league, you need to have about 25 different plans ready to go, so you can adjust when things don’t go exactly as you have planned.  I shouldn’t be able to tell you exactly how a GM is going to completely fuck up a trade, but last week, I did!

 “Now, having said this, as I said the other day, this is where Peter Chiarelli fucks himself.  He has something he’s willing to deal, and he doesn’t seem to adjust his price and ensure he gets the best value.  Taylor Hall brought back Adam Larsson, when it should have been Larsson and probably two other assets.  Brandon Davidson brought back David Desharnais, when it should have been Desharnais and a mid round pick.  Jordan Eberle brought back Ryan Strome when it should have been Strome and a 2nd round pick.  But he seemingly gets the prototype of what he wants in his head, he just simply does the deal.  He wants a RH shot defenceman for Hall, he wants a veteran centre for Davidson, he wants a centre/winger with a cheaper cap hit for Eberle, and for Maroon there is some belief that he wants an older prospect who can play next season.  It would be so very much like Chiarelli to do Maroon for a kid like Ivan Barbashev or Adam Erne.”

Man, do I EVER wish he’d have been able to get one of Barbashev or Erne right now!!

 

How many more moves is this man going to get to make before Bob Nicholson and Daryl Katz wake the fuck up and get rid of him?  He’s ruining this franchise.  He could not have been given a better situation when he arrived in 2015, and it is shocking the way he has both pissed away their top assets for pennies on the dollar AND completely screwed up their cap situation.  Do they think Connor McDavid will put up with this horse shit forever?  Another year of THIS, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if McDavid is going to Jeff Jackson (his agent) and saying “get me out of here.”  In fact, it would be in everyone’s best interest if Jackson placed a call to Nicholson stating as much.

 

As for the rest of the league, I’ll try and keep this short (won’t for some), so I’ll just do a bit on everyone in the league.

 

Anaheim – Didn’t like it.  Feel like the Pacific is wide ass open and this team is about to have their window slam shut.  Can’t believe they weren’t going hard on Erik Karlsson seeing they had all the resources imaginable to pull it off.

Arizona – If one of you care, let me know.  I’m betting nobody gets a hold of me.

Boston – I’m not big on Rick Nash, he has an awful history of not showing up in the playoffs and specifically in big moments, and feel like this wasn’t much of a need for the Bruins.  So to pay what they did (and yes, I know part of it was shedding the Belesky deal…although they only shed half of it) is possibly going to be a case of them pissing away assets.  Their play right now suggests they’re a contender, but I’m not sure they’re making it out of the first round.

Buffalo – They did ok for Kane, but likely overplayed their hand by setting too high of an initial price on him.

Calgary – Treliving did what he could, which was next to nothing, because he pissed away his first and second round picks on a shot defenceman that he didn’t even have a need for.  That Hamonic trade…YIKES!

Carolina – Little surprised that Francis did NOTHING.  They’re in the hunt for the second wildcard spot in the East, they have deeper pockets with a new owner on board, and a lot of assets.  Maybe Francis is thinking “I’ll see if this group can do it and if not I’ll have my bullets saved for the summer”.

Chicago – Stan Bowman with a heist for Ryan Hartman.  I like Hartman, but you can’t turn down that deal.

Colorado – Kind of in it, but have really fallen off lately and because of that I agree with the move to just stand pat.  This season is a win for them already in my mind as I thought without a doubt they’d have the top odds to land Rasmus Dahlin.

Columbus – Liked it a lot.  They need some help to get in the playoffs, and they didn’t break the bank to get what they needed.  Letestu, Cole and Vanek are all cheap pickups, but make them better.

Dallas – Did nothing, don’t get it, but they feel like a hell of a dark horse pick come playoff time.

Detroit – Ken Holland, in likely his last deadline as Wings GM, did incredible in one deal, but then dropped the ball on Mike Green.  And hey, you might talk about Green’s neck injury hurting his value.  But A) they still could have done something, make everything conditional if you have to, or B) have done something about a month ago because they shouldn’t have been messing around with a rental who has a massive injury history.  Having said that, what a freaking heist for Tomas Tatar.  That was just stupid…but terrific for Detroit.

Edmonton – Read the opening.

Florida – A little surprised they didn’t do much (Frank Vatrano) with how they’re playing.

Los Angeles – Dion Phaneuf?  Ok.  I guess they were able to shed Marian Gaborik while doing it, but that’s not much of anything.  This team reminds me right now of the 2015 Vancouver Canucks.  After years of being good, they had fallen off in 2014, made some changes, made the playoffs, but really just lived off a great start.  By the time the playoffs rolled around, nobody took them seriously and they couldn’t even get by a Flames squad who fluked their way into the dance.  They were in no man’s land, which is where the Kings are today.

Minnesota – Speaking of no man’s land…it’s not like Chuck Fletcher could do much, but they’re just waiting to die so to speak.  No chance at being a serious contender, need to tear it down but have yet to do so.

Montreal – I was fine with what Bergevin did.  Plekanec got them a good return, and I liked getting Mike Reilly for cheaper than what they gave up Joe Morrow for.

Nashville – Their big trade was Turris.  I don’t like what they paid for Hartman, but I get the attraction.  I think that kid is going to flourish there playing less of a puck possession game and a lot more chip and chase and harder forechecking.  He’s a Laviolette type guy.

New Jersey – Most underrated team at the deadline.  I worry that Pat Maroon won’t fit, but they paid next to nothing for him and he gives them some size and toughness that they don’t have at all.  And I love the fit of Grabner with the speed they play with.  Combine those moves with the Sami Vatanen/Adam Henrique swap, and I really like how the Devils look both now and moving forward.

NY Islanders – I love Brandon Davidson, but he’s fixing nothing with that club.  They don’t play in their own zone and have weak goaltending.  I know Craig Anderson isn’t having a good season, but I’d hope they at least looked at him.  I’m just don’t get why John Tavares would go back to this mess.

NY Rangers – They’re tearing it down to the studs, and I applaud the move.  I’m not sure they got enough for McDonagh AND Miller, but they definitely got a good haul.  As I said earlier, they won the Rick Nash deal (especially with Nash likely going back as a UFA), and they did well for Grabner (especially with Grabner likely going back as a UFA).  They’ll likely sink in the standings now, have a shot at a top three pick, and are doing a good job at re-stocking the cupboard.

Ottawa – What more needs to be said about them?  What a shit show, and what a shame.

Philadelphia – Not surprised that Ron Hextall just stayed the course.  They’re playing with house money likely getting in the playoffs this season.  Now wasn’t the time to push all their chips to the middle.  Washington is falling off, Pittsburgh won’t be great for much longer, their time is coming.

Pittsburgh – Loved the Brassard trade.  If you’ve read my stuff, then you know what a big believer I am in having three centres.  Now, Mike Sullivan can put Phil Kessel back on the third line, this time with a better playmaker than Nick Bonino was.  I guaranteed they weren’t winning the Cup this season due to the grind being too much, but I don’t know now.  This was a hell of a move.  I do laugh though when the media drools all over Jim Rutherford’s dealings.  He missed the playoffs 15 of 20 seasons in Hartford/Carolina and was running the Penguins into the ground before he made a coaching change from Mike Johnston to Mike Sullivan.

San Jose – Sneaky deadline by Doug Wilson.  The only problem here is that they maybe should have done more.  But they got Kane for a bit cheaper than he probably should have gone for, and as a rental I believe Kane is going to be on his best behaviour and be a beast for them.

St. Louis – Doug Armstrong….WELL DONE!!!  The man refused to buy the bull shit.  He recognized that this is what his team actually is and ignored the standings which claimed they were an ok team.  The haul for Stastny was great, but more so the balls he had to pull the pin on the season.  No reason they still couldn’t get in the playoffs, but should they now miss they are even better setup than they were.  This could be a terrific rebuild on the fly by Armstrong when it’s all said and done.

Tampa Bay – Good job by Steve Yzerman once again.  It’s tough to believe that it was only two years ago I was writing a blog about how the media seemed to refuse to acknowledge that Yzerman was a bad GM.  And at that time, it really appeared to be the case!  But now, he got Stamkos to sign an extension that made sense for the team, did a terrific trade for Jonathan Drouin (didn’t piss him away for pennies on the dollar no names mentioned Peter Chiarelli…), and now has acquired McDonagh AND J.T. Miller (forgotten in the deal, good player), and didn’t blow up his system.  Sure, he dealt a 1st, Howden, Hajek, and Namestikov, but just go look at what is still in their system.  Easily could afford it.

Toronto – I like what they did.  I know they needed a defenceman, but this team isn’t ready yet.  Hell, they’re at least a year ahead of schedule.  And as of late, I’ve really noticed the need this team might have moving forward down the middle.  Now, they might move Nylander to centre again which would nullify that, but then why didn’t they do that instead of getting Plekanec?  They don’t want to.  So it’s best they hang onto that first round pick for now, and best they maintain a pick in every round as they did.  They look great for years to come, but the build isn’t complete so now isn’t the time to go all in.

Vancouver – The Vanek return was awful.  So that alone made me hate their deadline.  Jim Benning learned under Peter Chiarelli in Boston, so….yeah.

Vegas – That Tatar trade was embarrassing.  I don’t know what it is with the mentality of GM’s in this league where they believe that if they own a lot assets then they better start pissing them away.  George McPhee, you ACTUALLY think your team is going anywhere this spring?  This season is already a massive win, taking a series seven would be amazing, winning a series would be unimaginable, what in hell does an overpaid winger do to enhance any of that?!  What a garbage move.  If they had acquired Karlsson, that would have been impressive, but I wonder if they’re going to figure out that it’s best to maintain a winner rather then looking to go for a Cup and piss away their assets on average players?  Three chips that would have been much better used to get a Karlsson this summer.

Washington – Didn’t do anything, couldn’t do anything, won’t make it to the conference finals yet again.

Winnipeg – Best for last?  I don’t know if that’s the case, but Stastny sure gives them three quality lines.  This might be the deepest team in the league right now, and are primed for a run.  I wouldn’t take them to beat Nashville, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they beat Nashville.  And I think whoever comes out of the Central is winning the West.  So they’re a legitimate contender, at least to win the West.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NHL Picks – February 24th, 2018

I can’t believe I’m saying this right now…I’ve gone 7-3 in my last two weeks!!!  Seriously, DOUBLE-YOU TEE EFF as the children say!!!  That’s it, that’s all I have to say for my opening.  It’s awful, but sometimes you just have writers block and a bit of a hangover, so this is all you’re getting…other than the picks…which are 7-3 the last two times out…not to brag or anything…

 

Boston at Toronto

Leafs +100

No Matthews tonight and I still like the Leafs to win?!  Well, yeah.  First, they have guys they can move to centre from the wing.  Marleau and Nylander can both be put in the middle and they’ll be fine for a few games.  Babcock with last change can control the matchup to limit any matchup advantages the Bruins may get.  Plus, the last time Matthews was out they seemed to rally around it rather than fold.  With this being a possible first round preview, I believe we’ll get the Leafs at their absolute best tonight and there for at +100 I really like taking the Leafs.

 

Tampa Bay at Montreal

Lightning -1.5 (+155)

Top team in the Atlantic with their Vezina candidate in goal vs one of the worst teams in the Atlantic with their backup in goal who they’re trying to showcase for a trade.  Niemi has actually been real good for the Habs (when I’ve seen him anyway, and especially compared to how his season started), but I can’t not take the Bolts -1.5 here.

 

Chicago at Columbus

Blackhawks +150

The standings suggest that this game is massive for Columbus, and nothing for Chicago.  But the Blackhawks are starting to turn it on, while the Blue Jackets have been slipping down the standings for a few months now and are in real danger of missing the playoffs.  At +150, I’ll take a Hawks team who seemingly haven’t yet quit on the season.

 

Pittsburgh at Florida

Panthers +105

I’m sky high on the Panthers these days.  The Pens have been scorching hot as well, but the Panthers feel like a team who is going to the playoffs despite appearing to be a long way out of things at the moment.  Three games in hand on everyone, but they have to win these games in hand.  Luongo back, momentum coming off the comeback win vs the Caps Thursday night, they’re rallying around the shootings at Parkland, they’re going to be a difficult team to beat right now.  And before you say “the Pens just got Brassard though”, he won’t be there until at least Tuesday because of work visa issues.

 

Edmonton at Los Angeles

Kings -1.5 (+190)

Without a doubt this is what’s happening tonight.  The Oilers can’t win in LA, the Kings are desperate for points, the Oilers seem to be much more distracted heading into the deadline than most teams right now, and it all adds up to a blowout win for the Kings tonight.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2018 Trade Deadline Preview

Here is the problem with this piece: whenever I decide to put it out, there is a fear that it’ll be outdated.  Anyway, here it is, hopefully not outdated by the time you read it.  We are just five days away now, and while I’ve learned to be extremely skeptical when the insiders start talking like all hell is going to break loose on the trade front (2014 draft, crickets), I don’t believe there has been a trade deadline since 2004 with this many big names being talked about and teams with legitimate reasons to deal them.

 

Before I start, can I make a plea to all GM’s?  I guess this doesn’t just apply to the deadline, but can you guys start thinking of ways to be creative?  Before the Matt Duchene trade, when was the last time we saw a three way trade?  Have we ever seen a four way deal?  Trades are all over the place to be made!  One blog I’d like to do sometime is sit down and look at a big trade (six or eight player deals) that all 31 teams could do.  Because they are there, but so few of them are willing to make trades unless they feel like there is no way they can lose the deal.  And fellas, don’t be afraid to simply find ways to make the cap work in your trades.  “It’s just so tough to make trades these days because of the cap” is the biggest bunch of bull shit that NHL fans get dealt, and we get dealt a LOT of bull shit!  I can imagine the NTC’s and NMC’s making it tough, but not the cap.  The NBA cap is more restrictive than the NHL’s, and they now make more deals.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, GM’s these days don’t want to do trades because it draws a lot of attention to the job they’re doing.  If they don’t do any big deals, then it makes it tougher and delays any analysis on the job they’re doing and there for prolongs their tenures.

 

Now that I got that off my chest, and not one GM will read it making it a total waste of time….let’s take a look at some of the big names who’ll possibly be on the move.

 

Erik Karlsson

This is going to take a while to get through all the possibilities here, as this is the big one as of yesterday afternoon.  And despite people calling it 50/50, it sure sounds like it’s going to happen.  The theory in league circles is that you wait until the draft to get more teams involved.  But my belief is that teams at the draft put a much higher value on their future, where at the deadline it is all about making the big push for the Cup now and teams get more desperate.  You only need a few teams to create a bidding war, so it’s really quantity over quality.  I want quality, and really believe (especially with a guy like Karlsson) that you’ll get the best quality now because a team is getting him for potentially two playoff runs.  So what should the price be?  Extremely high.  In my mind, it’s in the ballpark of two first round picks, a second round pick, a top prospect (doesn’t have to be the teams best prospect but definitely a high end guy), and still another B-/C+ level prospect.  Apparently they would like someone to take Bobby Ryan’s boat anchor contract in the deal, so that for me would take one of the first round picks off.  So with Ryan, I would say a 2019 first (since the Sens will likely give their 2019 first to the Avs), a 2018 second, and two prospects.  In addition to this, any team is going to have to send some money back to Ottawa.  So for example let’s say that the Jets make an offer, and the Jets might be in the best spot of anyone to do this deal yet nobody is talking about them (maybe nobody believes Cheveldayoff would do it, or maybe it’s assumed they’re on Karlsson’s no trade list).  They would send money back (although they have an incredible 26 million in cap space come trade deadline), and the perfect fit to do that is Tyler Myers who only has a year left on his deal and is one of three RH shooting D the Jets already have.  2019 first, 2018 second, Kristian Vesalainen, and Tucker Poolman maybe is a deal the Sens would jump at.  It’s just an example.  Might be too rich for some, but imagine Karlsson with the Jets.

 

But let’s look at the other teams who can do it.  Tampa is of course the most talked about team right now.  That’s a possible tough move for Yzerman however if you really think about it.  You very likely aren’t re-signing Karlsson after next season.  And they’ve got a Cup contender with what they currently have.  The centrepiece to the deal probably has to be Mikhail Sergachev.  Do you seriously want to give him up?!  That kid is already close to being a stud and he’s only on the first year of his ELC.  If you don’t have Sergachev or Brayden Point in the deal (and Point is a none starter for them from the sounds of it), outside of taking on the Bobby Ryan contract (which is real tough for Tampa to do) or giving up 3/4 of your farm system….like where’s the deal here?  I think we all love the idea of him with Tampa as a fit, and the fact that he would make them the clear cut favourites for the Cup, but I just don’t know if it’s wise for Yzerman to do.  Go all in for a Cup the next two years, or trust your system which looks as though it can produce a consistent Cup contender?  It’s a tougher call than most are making it out to be.

 

I’m guessing the Pens will try hard with how desperate they are to get the three peat.  They own their next three first round picks, their next two second round picks, they have some kids who are worth looking at like Daniel Sprong and Tristan Jarry.  The key would be Kris Letang being willing to waive his NTC.  They could put Schultz in the deal instead of Letang to make it work, but for the Pens I’m sure they’d much rather Letang.  But don’t put it past them to blow up their next two drafts to do this.  If you can have one of Crosby, Malkin or Karlsson on the ice at all times, you’re likely going to win another two Cups.

 

Speaking of this, yes Oilers fans I’ve thought of them and do believe they can pull it off.  For the Oilers, you have to be sure moving forward that you can extend him after the season though.  The obsitacle is the ability to clear out at least two of the three big contracts which have NMC’s (Lucic, Sekera, Russell) than being assured by Karlsson that a deal can be reached.  So what would the Oilers have to give?  Lowetide talked about it a few days ago and he believed they only needed to do Klefbom if they take back Ryan and that they would add Lucic to do it.  Disagree.  They aren’t taking on Ryan even with Lucic going the other way, that eliminates a chance to re-sign Karlsson.  So in my mind you’d be looking at RNH, one of Larsson or Klefbom (preferably Klefbom), your 2019 first, and probably Ethan Bear.  The Sens might not be interested in RNH though thanks to that deal adding four million a season, so perhaps it then becomes a three team deal and the package for RNH then gets flipped to Ottawa.  But I fully believe they can do it if the desire is there, but the key is knowledge that you can then shed Lucic, and one of Sekera or Russell.

 

My dark horse team in all of this….can I have two?  One in the East, one in the West.  In the East, I love the idea of Jersey.  They’ve needed to upgrade their blueline for a few years now and have done a good job doing so this season.  But Karlsson?  That’s next level, and he fits so perfectly with how they play.  They have a boat load of assets, and they can definitely take on the Bobby Ryan contract if need be.  Sami Vatanen, Kyle Palmeri, Mike McLeod, Jesper Boqvist, and their 2018 first.  And that might be too much with the Sens shedding the Ryan contract, but he Devils could pay that much.  They’re very well setup and with Karlsson in the fold they’d become a contender.  In the West, I love the Ducks to jump in this.  Their window is closing fast.  They’ve done a terrific job of drafting and stockpiling young talent, they have a lot of cap room, and I believe they’d be very open to taking on the Bobby Ryan contract with how successful Ryan was in Anaheim (although it’s not lost on me the relationship Ryan had with Randy Carlyle….wasn’t good for those who don’t recall).  Again, you’re looking at a 2018 first (or 19, whichever the Sens prefer), a 2018 or 19 second round pick, Jacob Silfverberg (who was ironically a key piece in the last Ryan deal), and Jacob Larsson.

 

There are going to be SO many options.  It might be easier to list off the teams who wouldn’t have interest than would.  The only teams I can think of who wouldn’t have the appetite for it or else the Sens wouldn’t deal with would be Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Florida, Carolina, Washington, Nashville and Arizona.  That’s about it.  Don’t sleep on the Islanders with how desperate they are right now and holding two first rounders (the Calgary pick is currently a lottery pick).  The Blackhawks might be done this season, but Stan Bowman could take the chance to load up for one more run with that core next season.  As Elliotte Friedman said on his 31 Thoughts podcast, Colorado could maybe give back the package they got for Duchene.  Talk about Tampa all you want media, I believe this one is wide ass open because we are talking about a superstar player and with the way he skates he’s going to be a superstar for many years to come.

 

Evander Kane

Here’s the surest player to go by Monday afternoon.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of where.  Just from an on ice POV, Kane is terrific, and I believe whoever gets him at the deadline is going to get a hell of a player.  The concern for me would be for whoever signs him, but short term I believe Kane would be on his best behaviour.  Pittsburgh, Calgary (tough without their 2018 first), Boston and perhaps Philly (though Ron Hextall is very calculated and might not feel it’s the right time for them) would be my choices.  St. Louis might have been in on him a few weeks ago, but the Blues all of a sudden are fighting for a playoff spot and if Doug Armstrong is smart then he knows his team simply isn’t a contender.  Whoever wants Kane is likely looking at giving up a first rounder, their second or third best prospect, and a young roster player with limited upside.

 

Rick Nash

He’s almost as big of a lock to go as Kane.  Only thing that gives Kane the edge is there is no chance he re-signs in Buffalo, where Nash MAYBE (highly doubtful) signs an extension.  He’ll do it, just probably not until July 1st when he becomes a UFA….anyway, it sounds like the Preds are all in on him.  He’s not what he used to be, but he still has great wheels and is real good in his own zone.  The best use for him is on a soft minutes line with a real good two way centre to do the dirty work.  And that’s exactly how Peter Laviolette could potentially use him.  I think the Leafs will be in on him, but I believe they’ll be smart enough to be very cautious on what they pay.  A Columbus reunion is very possible here as well.  If you want Nash, it sounds like the Rangers are looking for a first round pick.  I don’t think anyone should pay more than that, but perhaps to seal the deal a team will add a B level prospect to their first.

 

Max Pacioretty 

Not a guy who has to go, and it seems as though the noise surrounding him as cooled off a bit.  I don’t think he’s going to have the value that some believe he will.  He’s a one dimensional guy who will potentially command a monster contract extension this summer.  A lot of people want to link him to the Oilers for RNH, but if Chiarelli does that he then REALLY needs to be fired because that is an awful trade.  Three years left of Nuge as a terrific two way centre for a one dimensional winger who doesn’t even bring the RH shot the Oilers badly need for their PP.  If you’re going to trade RNH for a winger, it best be the exact guy they need coming back.  As for more serious options on “Patches”, I’d say mostly the same teams who could be in on Evander Kane.  I know…I want to say Elliotte Friedman, said Florida would be in on Pacioretty.  They definitely have the assets to get it done.  What I’d watch for here though is the Habs packaging Pacioretty with some other assets in an attempt to land Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Jackets.  I know I’ve heard that they want Dubois pretty badly, and perhaps giving the Jackets Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec at half the price, and Ryan Poehling?  Maybe instead of Poehling, two of their three second rounders in this draft (their own and then Chicago’s which should both be in the 30’s)?  Steep price, but that might be getting to the point where it would be worth it for Columbus.  Otherwise, I believe Pacioretty is going to cost someone something similar to Evander Kane, but if you aren’t getting a little more than Buffalo does then there isn’t much point in moving him now.

 

Mike Hoffman

This is starting to sound boring, but it’s the same market for Hoffman as it will be for Kane and Pacioretty.  With two years left on his deal instead of one or in Kane’s case none, you might find a bigger market.  Obviously his name has been linked to the Oilers a lot, but I’ve also read that the Sens don’t see a fit with the Oilers.  Pure shooter, not the best skater, isn’t physical, he’s more one dimensional than Pacioretty.  But he’s not far off Pacioretty offensively.  Because he’s a poor man’s Pacioretty, I don’t believe it should be a first rounder for him if we’re talking about a three piece deal.  A second rounder, a B level prospect and a roster player.  So let’s just take Dallas for example.  Maybe for them it’s a second, Denis Gurianov and Brett Ritchie.  Maybe the pick is a conditional and becomes a first if the team acquiring Hoffman makes the Conference final this season.  Something along those lines anyway.

 

Ryan McDonaugh

It sure sounds like this isn’t going to happen unless the Rangers are able to hit a home run here.  The Lightning and the Bruins are the two teams we’re hearing who are hot for McDonaugh, but of course the Lightning situation is now muddied because of the availability of Karlsson.  Still, he won’t cost near what Karlsson will, and is still a top pairing defenceman.  But the Rangers will need to get their money worth here, so it’s without a doubt a first, it’s a top level prospect, and it’s a good roster player….perhaps add in another conditional pick on top of all that.  So for yet another example, if it’s Boston then you’re looking at the pick, Urho Vaakanainen, and Matt Grzelcyk.

 

Patrick Maroon

It’s an Oilers bias on this blog, at least in terms of the content, so I have to touch on what they might do, yet I did this already the other day.  It’s pretty simple FOR ME with Maroon.  What you’re looking for is a first round pick.  If you can get it, you take it and run!  I’m looking at the Blues, and beyond Maroon being a St. Louis kid, beyond Maroon fitting their style, the Blues don’t have much space going into the deadline and I’m not sure who has the contract they’d want to move out to bring someone in.  So Maroon at next to no cap hit would be extremely intriguing for them I’m sure.  Still, I think the best the Oilers could do for Maroon on the first rounder front would be a conditional first.  Should the team make the conference final (which ensures it’s pick 28-31) or if Maroon is re-signed by the team.  Otherwise, a second and a B prospect.  Maybe with the Blues it could be a second (would have to be if it’s 2018 as they don’t have their first) and Robby Fabbri with another condition being that it becomes another second round pick in 2019 if Fabbri plays less than X amount of games.  I mentioned Dallas and Denis Gurianov earlier.  I’d really like to know what he might cost, or Val Nichushkin might cost.  Obviously you would need to ensure that Nichushkin is interested in coming back to North America, but those are two real intriguing pieces the Stars have.  Now, having said this, as I said the other day, this is where Peter Chiarelli fucks himself.  He has something he’s willing to deal, and he doesn’t seem to adjust his price and ensure he gets the best value.  Taylor Hall brought back Adam Larsson, when it should have been Larsson and probably two other assets.  Brandon Davidson brought back David Desharnais, when it should have been Desharnais and a mid round pick.  Jordan Eberle brought back Ryan Strome when it should have been Strome and a 2nd round pick.  But he seemingly gets the prototype of what he wants in his head, he just simply does the deal.  He wants a RH shot defenceman for Hall, he wants a veteran centre for Davidson, he wants a centre/winger with a cheaper cap hit for Eberle, and for Maroon there is some belief that he wants an older prospect who can play next season.  It would be so very much like Chiarelli to do Maroon for a kid like Ivan Barbashev or Adam Erne.

 

Mark Letestu

It was real simple for him when I spoke about him the other day.  I think a third and a fifth is possible because of how valuable coaches would believe a player like Letestu is despite the shitty season.  I don’t see it being for a prospect, but perhaps there is a deal out there which brings back a fifth and a similar player who has a little term.  Maybe a kid like Lukas Sedlak from the Blue Jackets interests them (no idea if that’s anything, just an example of a young guy who is being used on a fourth line).

 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The value now might be greater than in the summer.  And I’ve looked hard at this.  As much as it sucks, they have to either buy down on Nuge or else they already have the guy in Strome and need to move Nuge for a D-man.  It doesn’t have to be for that specifically right now.  If you can get a killer package of futures for him now, why not do it, and then use those pieces in the summer?  RNH is probably going to be worth more at the deadline, and a package of picks and prospects will be worth more at the draft.  One thing that does make sense if they go the route of keeping Strome in that soft minutes role is RNH for Justin Faulk.  The Hurricanes can afford to move Faulk, they’ve supposedly had big interest in RNH in the past and need an upgrade down the middle, the Oilers need a top four RH shooting D-man (STILL….) and that could very well make sense for both sides.  It’s going to suck to see him go, but at this point it just makes too much sense to not deal him at some point before next season.

 

Kris Russell/Andrej Sekera

Teams are always looking for D-men at the trade deadline.  Of course with both it’s a matter of being willing to go, but if one or even both of them are willing to waive for a team, in my opinion the Oilers HAVE to pull the trigger.  Darnell Nurse needs a fat new contract this summer, and as I just discussed this team really needs a top four RH shooting D.  This is 9.5 million of dead cap space for the Oilers moving forward.  Not because they aren’t useful players, they very much so are!  Russell has been well worth the contract he signed this summer, it just shouldn’t have come with a NMC.  Sekera will be back to his old self next season I have no doubt.  The other move they could make is Oscar Klefbom moved for a top flight winger, and then use Sekera with a Justin Faulk.  But man, if they went that route, Klefbom better be getting close to what Larsson cost them!!  Max Domi wouldn’t be cutting it.

 

Obviously all the UFA’s are on the block at this deadline that I just don’t have time to hit on.  But there is one UFA in particular who I will take the time to hit on, and he’s highly unlikely to go anywhere.

 

John Tavares

So why am I mentioning him?  Because Garth Snow should trade him.  Unless he knows something nobody else knows, but if he does then why hasn’t Tavares been signed yet?  And so many people want to point to the Steven Stamkos situation, and believe he’s going to re-sign.  Stamkos was in a place where the team had just gone to game seven of the East final, won the East the year before, didn’t have major arena issues, and oh yeah…it’s Florida.  Steve Yzerman knew that he could wait out Stamkos because he was unlikely to find a better situation then that one.  Tavares, there are probably seven or eight different situations where he could go and they’d be better than the Islanders.  They aren’t a contender, they haven’t been a contender, they may have finally solved their arena issue long term but they won’t be in it for another three seasons, I just don’t know why he stays.  I hate the idea of Tavares going to Calgary, but why wouldn’t you sign in Calgary where they might not have a new rink on the way, but they’ve got one!  Add to that, they’re probably a better team than the Islanders without Tavares, and wouldn’t have to move anyone vital out to fit him in next season if they’re giving him a 10-12 million a year deal.  San Jose, St. Louis, Columbus, Carolina, Philadelphia, Colorado, and don’t sleep on Vegas who not only have a great thing going on and loads of cap space, but George McPhee was with the Islanders prior to the Vegas job.  If you’re Garth Snow, you seriously want to play this game when your team looks more likely than not to miss the playoffs, and you got a new star in Matt Barzal?  Seems like the perfect time to rebuild it around Barzal.  If you lose Tavares, you’re rebuilding anyway, minus about three key assets you could get for Tavares at the deadline.

 

Obviously, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Something else to watch for though, Elliotte Friedman keeps hinting about expecting an out of left field trade.  “I think we get one bomb…one bomb that just throws us in a stunning way” is what Friedman said last night on his podcast.  I could write all night about what those could possibly be.  I do love the fact that it’s now Thursday morning and nothing big has happened yet, as it gives us a lot to chew on over the next five days.  I’m not sure if it’ll be good, but it should be real intriguing.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Enough Bitching…Let’s Talk About How to Fix It

Did someone say 8,500 word blog?!?  Because that’s what you’re getting today!  Seeing it’s Family Day, I figured it would be best to keep you reading this shit all day rather than having to spend time with your families, you’re welcome!  I’m going to tell you right now, don’t read this if you don’t want to read extensively about what the team can do to fix some of their issues here at the trade deadine, at the draft, on July 1st, and later in the summer.  If you DO want to dig into that, read on!

 

Any other Oilers fans had enough of the bitching?  I have.  Analytics guys going on and on and on and on and on and on…and on and on and on some more about how Peter Chiarelli has fucked this thing up.  And I totally agree…obviously.  Peter Chiarelli had a gold mine of elite talent and assets when he first came onto the scene.  He has completely pissed at least 1/3 of it away, has the team in cap trouble thanks to careless contracts and buyouts, and has turned what was seemingly a home run situation when arriving in April of 2015 into a sinking ship.  It’s not the Titanic, it doesn’t have to sink.  They can hit this bitch with a ton of Flex Seal and it’ll be floating better then that truck on the ad’s.  But as of now, this season has been one big shit storm of hell for Oilers fans who were thought to be at least done with being a contender for the number one pick in the draft.  Most knew that the Reinhart and Larsson deals were absolutely disgusting over payments, and the Lucic contract was going to be a boat anchor, but did a team with more than enough talent to at worse still make the playoffs have to completely crumble while we saw these things occur?!

 

At some point here, we need to stop dwelling on what’s been done.  And hey, that very much so includes me.  I don’t know if I’ll ever let the Reinhart for 16 and 33 trade die.  At least Hall brought back Larsson who we all now know why he struggled this season and when he’s on, he’s a top pairing defenceman.  I don’t care if the Oilers were going to take Eriksson Ek had they kept the picks.  If you’re using that as the excuse for doing the deal you’re a moron.  Eriksson Ek is likely going to be a very good two way centre in this league, and oh yeah they would have got Brandon Carlo at 33 who is in the league….unlike Griffin Reinhart.  See, I need to stop dwelling on things like this!  Let’s focus on what needs to be done.

 

Now, let’s just get the obvious out of the way, yes.  Yes, they need to clean house.  Peter Chiarelli needs to go, Todd McLellan and his staff need to go.  I’ve tried to make the case for continuity within the organization being important, but the job Chiarelli has done to this point has been horrific, and the job McLellan has done this season has been as bad if not worse.  I love the idea of continuity, who doesn’t crave that?  But hell man, how do you in anyway believe these two are ever going to figure it out when you look at the jobs both have done, not just in Edmonton but throughout their careers?

 

I can say for me, I was never that high on McLellan as a hire.  I was basically Babcock or bust in the spring of 2015 and kind of got talked into McLellan as being a great fit by the media whom as I do this more and more realize that most of them are normally talking out their ass, and that aside from a few of them, really don’t know what they’re talking about.  The Sharks never improved much from Ron Wilson (who is looked at as a joke of a coach) to McLellan, and then from McLellan to DeBoer the Sharks went to the Cup final the next season.  Albeit, DeBoer had a goaltender McLellan never had in Martin Jones, but it’s not as though McLellan didn’t have a pretty good guy in Evgeny Nabokov for two years.  And I gave this guy a true chance.  I felt good in 2016 despite the team not improving in the standings (they had an insane amount of injuries that season).  Obviously last season the coaching looked solid (though not terrific despite the great year).  But this season, oh man.  No idea when to push any of the right buttons.  He’s been far too soft on his team, he’s seemingly never had his teams back publicly when they’ve been screwed, and he either refuses to adjust or refuses to give anything a chance (Darnell Nurse on the top unit PP is the perfect example).  Then of course we all know about the nightmarish special teams.  It’s just become painfully obvious that while Peter Chiarelli hurt this teams chances to be a Cup contender like they should have been this season, he’s still given McLellan a squad capable of making the playoffs and they aren’t going to come anywhere close to it.  In the words of Mike Commordore, pack your shit.

 

So if you’re going to gut the GM and coaching staff, who do you bring in?  I’ll start with upstairs, and there are a lot of ways this could go.  One guy who I would look to bring in at all costs is Tampa’s director of amateur scouting Al Murray.  Give him a new title so it’s a promotion, and back the Brinks truck up to his door.  Before going to the Lightning, his boss was Bob Nicholson, so that’s a pretty strong tie to the organization.  But I wouldn’t name Murray GM.  Perhaps a title of assistant GM, or Vice President of Hockey Operations, but ensure that he’ll still be overseeing the scouting and running the draft.

 

You still need a GM.  My guy would be wunderkind Kyle Dubas.  Whether you like them or not, analytics are here to stay.  And while I don’t want someone in charge who lives and dies by them, I want someone in charge who has big respect for them…unlike Chiarelli.  But will the Leafs let him go?  You have to assume they won’t considering he wasn’t given permission last summer to speak to the Avalanche.

 

So next on my list would be Paul Fenton from the Predators.  Fenton is a major part of the Preds front office who have performed flat out heists in the last three seasons.  Jones for Johansen was a great trade from the Preds POV.  Weber for Subban was ballsy considering how big of a piece Weber was to that organization, but was also a total steal.  And then the Turris trade this season….how they gave up so little compared to what Ottawa did in that trade I’ll never understand.  So Fenton has been a big part of that, not to mention has also seen the Preds do tremendous on draft day just like Murray has done with the Lightning, and he seems like a tremendous candidate.  The key here though is Fenton would have to be ok working with Murray and vice versa.  Also, Fenton is next on MY list.  I don’t trust Bob Nicholson to even bother looking at a guy he doesn’t know.  Go listen to Nicholson do an interview on Prime Time Sports sometime.  He has that country club/old boys club mentality that is terrifying to hear as an Oilers fan.  “I don’t need to look at other people, I know people who can do the job”.  Yikes.

 

I fear “his guy” would be Ken Holland who has an expiring contract with the Red Wings.  Holland has done some good things over the years, but not in the last six or seven.  He seems to be stuck in the pre cap world where he just waits for UFA’s to hit the market and then sell them on playing for his squad.  In today’s NHL you absolutely have to do two things: draft extremely well and find value.  He hasn’t done either for a long time now.

 

Next up we have the coach.  Most Oilers fans would likely say to bring back Todd Nelson.  And guess what?  I agree.  You look at how well the team responded when he stepped into the role in 2015, so many players began to play to their potential.  Yakupov, Lander, Schultz played much better, Petry if you recall looked phenomenal, Eberle, so much talent was being elevated.  That was the best hockey Nail Yakupov or Anton Lander ever played.  I would also give Nelson the resources to ensure he can put together the best staff possible.  There is no cap restrictions on coaching staffs, front offices, or scouting, so if Katz is going to give you the green light on spending, then spend big on those areas.

 

Another possibility is Dave Tippett who I would be real good with, but the one thing with Tippett is that you aren’t going to see an exciting team.  He would get the most out of Cam Talbot for sure, as that’s what his system does is builds up the goaltenders confidence by really limiting scoring chances.  Would he be different coaching a player like McDavid?  Tough to say.  Darryl Sutter would definitely be tougher on these guys and demand excellence, but the way the Kings couldn’t score was troubling and the way the Oilers do things offensively under McLellan with a lot of point shots and not much creativity offensively is really similar to how the Kings were under Sutter.  Barry Trotz currently is coaching without a contract for next season.  Much like Tippett, Trotz has a system built around ensuring his goaltneders confidence is sky high.  One thing that worries me with Trotz however is the whole theory of jamming all your top end talent into your top six.  When he spread out his fire power once down 3-1 to Pittsburgh last season, they thrived.  He just seems to hate doing this, despite it proving to be the best way to deploy a lineup.

 

Onto the changes that need to happen on the ice, and they are plenty.

 

First of all, they MUST do something about the three bloated contracts which are Lucic, and to a lesser extent Sekera and Russell.  The biggest reason at this moment I would like to see Chiarelli shown the door is because I don’t believe he can bring himself to go to any of these players he signed and ask them to waive their NMC.  A new GM who didn’t sign any of them to those deals would have a much easier time doing it.

 

Despite the tough season, I believe Andrej Sekera might be the easiest of the three to move out.  I could see him after three seasons in Edmonton, two of them being so miserable, being open to moving on.  Maybe I’m nuts, but I believe there might be a trade to be made with him between the Avs and the Oilers (I believe there might be a ton of moves to be made between these two as you’ll read).  The Oilers badly need a RH shooting puck mover who can also play on the top unit PP, and the Avs seem willing to part with Barrie so they’d get a guy like Sekera who has the exact same cap hit as Barrie.  The Avs get a much more trustworthy/stable defencemen that they need (not to mention make room for Cale Makar), and the Oilers get the type of guy that they need.  It’s a win/win deal, as long as Sekera would waive, and I think he would to go to the Avs.  They’re in the playoff hunt, Denver is an unreal city, the trade deadline could be a great time to inquire about this type of deal.

 

If something like that can’t be done for Sekera, then perhaps you go bigger?  I’ve thought about a deal between the Oilers and Sabres seeing Klefbom go to Buffalo for Rasmus Ristolainen might make sense for both?  I don’t love it, but I believe Sekera will be back strong next season, so would be a fine number three, and Nurse has emerged as a top pairing guy meaning the Oilers could afford to part with Klefbom (though again, I’m not in love with this idea).  Ristolainen is the type of D-man who the Oilers really need (big, mobile, RH shot, puckmover with a big shot too).  Essentially he’s a bigger version of Tyson Barrie.  I know his possession numbers haven’t been great, but playing second pair with Andrej Sekera would be a whole hell of a lot different than first pair in Buffalo.  It’s very similar to the Justin Schultz situation two years ago.  What shelter has Ristolainen had?  He’d look damn good as the point man on the Oilers PP.

 

But a move like that obviously isn’t going to clear up any cap, just improve the team.  They need to dump Kris Russell.  The irony here is that if he didn’t have a NMC (and for the record, I’m still unsure about his NMC because he has both an NMC and a modified NTC in the last two years of his deal, so why would he need both unless the NMC in the deal is strictly to ensure he is not put in the minors?) he would fetch the Oilers something decent, he’s had a decent season!  But they now need this money to go to Darnell Nurse who they seem destined to also royally fuck up his contract extension just like they did with Leon Draisaitl.  Right now, I believe you’d be looking at 8 years, 5.5 mil per season for Nurse which with how he’s played and how he’s trending looks like a great deal moving forward.  But there is no talk of an extension….and he’s an RFA this summer….with the Oilers rubbing right against the cap already….anyway, I wouldn’t be shocked if Russell could fetch them one of the Islanders first round picks IF he’d waive (if he has to).  They’re desperate for some help on defence, and Garth Snow has said he won’t move either of those picks for a rental, where Russell has three years left on the deal.  Having said this, if he has to waive, I can’t see him being willing to waive for a team out East.  It would likely have to be a Calgary or Winnipeg in my mind AKA still close to home and in the hunt.

 

But much like Sekera, Russell going isn’t saving money.  The reason being that they need to now get Darnell Nurse locked down.  And I’m not moving off the point I’ve been making for two months or so now: Nurse is going to get a massive pay day.  Seven or eight years, and 5-5.5 per season.  Mike Matheson got eight years, 4.875 per.  Jacob Slavin got seven years, 5.3 per.  Nurse has very comparable numbers to those two, and will be the same age when signing.

 

So they need to shed those two big contracts possibly just to make the blueline fit together better.  Which brings us to the albatross deal, Lucic.  I’m a massive Lucic fan, but it’s been clear in the last month and a half that it just ain’t working.  Even when he’s been scoring, he’s not creating much.  It’s no surprise the physicality isn’t what it was (in part because he can’t get to guys, in part because he’s likely too beat up from playing that style despite the fact that he has stayed in the lineup since 2010).  More so than that, his contract isn’t going to work.  And we all knew it was too long to begin with.  Even at five years (which is likely all it will be thanks to the CBA expiring in three more years), it was at best a four year contract.  He was thought to be a guy who would work well with McDavid, and he really hasn’t.

 

So how do you ditch the big man?  It won’t be easy at all.  In my mind you have to A) find a place who would take him.  B) be willing to waive his NMC for.  C) add a valuable asset to him.  D) take back a contract that isn’t as bad.  I got a couple of places in mind that MIGHT work.

 

The first is Boston.  He was beloved in Boston, the organization moved him out of fear they couldn’t re-sign him, they aren’t the fastest team which could really help him out, it wasn’t ever his choice to leave, and they (somehow) are a legitimate threat to win it all this season.  The contract the Oilers would need to take back is Matt Belesky.  The asset the Oilers would have to add in my mind would be either Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear.  So…would you do this?  For Boston you turn a guy who is just three million of dead cap space into a guy who is six million, but can play, along with a real good prospect on the blueline.  For the Oilers, you open up 2.2 mil on the cap for next season, but more likely they could then buy out Belesky, which isn’t ideal, but buying him out would then save over five million on Lucic for next season, four million in 2020, and back up to five million for the last two years.

 

Then the other team I had in mind was Vancouver.  The Sedin’s will get new, more team friendly contracts next season and will have well over 30 million in cap space.  Jim Benning had him in Boston (obviously with Chiarelli).  As most of you know, Lucic is from Vancouver.  They had interest in him in the summer of 2016.  And they probably would like an enforcer to play with their kids, as we saw with the Oilers from 2010-2015 they were badly bullied by teams (which is what led to Chiarelli over doing it/overpaying while adding toughness and character).  The bad contract to take back would be Sam Gagner.  Now I was NEVER a big Sam Gagner guy past about 2009.  It became clear to me early on that he didn’t have the speed or strength to ever be the second line player the Oilers needed.  However, as a very expensive fourth line centre who could go in the bumper role on the top PP unit as he was in Columbus last season (look at the difference this season to last for them on the PP) and also play up in the lineup if/when injuries occur.  Again, you’d have to attach one of Jones or Bear in my mind to get the Canucks attention, but the Oilers look pretty set on D in the system and could afford to move out one of them.  The Oilers would be saving nearly three million on Lucic in this deal.  If the Oilers were to then buy out Gagner, it would be approximately one million a year against the cap for the next four years, so it opens up five million a year much like Belesky would in all but one season.

 

You have other options that are perhaps less likely, but possible.  If the Coyotes had a “hockey guy” as their GM, they’d perhaps be a pretty good target.  However I can’t see John Chayka doing it (even with a prospect like Bear or Jones attached), and Lucic likely wouldn’t accept a deal to one of the worst teams in the league.  Colorado maybe works?  The Oilers would need to take back Colin Wilson who is nearly a four million cap hit for next year….but only next year….or maybe Carl Soderberg who has two years left at 4.75 million along with a past relationship with Peter Chiarelli.  But that front office just ditched their slow guys, so would they go back to that well with Lucic?  I can’t see it.  Vegas will have something like 35 million in cap space, it remains to be seen if they’ll re-sign James Neal, and could really use some prospects who are close to playing.  The biggest flaw in that plan I see is that they play much quicker than Lucic is right now.  San Jose is one I looked at, and that one feels like it’s workable for the Sharks, but the scenarios I came up with probably wouldn’t work for the Oilers unless Doug Wilson was willing to simply do Boedker for Lucic straight up which saves the Oilers two million a year, Boedker’s deal is done in two years, and he brings a lot more speed to the table.  Minnesota could give the Oilers Tyler Ennis.  Hometown kid, only a year left on his deal, but it’s a 4.6 cap hit, and while he’s undersized and skilled, he isn’t that fast.  Would Lucic go to Minny?  Would the Oilers be willing to eat 4.6 million for one more season on a guy who is essentially producing like Mike Cammalleri?

 

You aren’t getting out from under the Lucic deal without some kind of penalty.  But I actually feel a lot more confident after taking a long look at this that the Oilers can work around the Lucic deal, especially if they are willing to attach a piece that they can afford to part with.  And one of Bear or Jones, it hurts…a lot…but if you look at their prospect pool and look at the depth they currently have on D, the organization can afford to lose one of them.  Adding a guy like Lucic and a good prospect or draft pick for two to three million on a rising cap I believe would be very attractive for a team looking to make a deep run this spring.

 

Now, assuming they can move that albatross contract out, it will obviously be a big help.  But it’s still likely not going to be enough.  I love Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that they’ll need to buy down on him.  It SUCKS, but it’s the reality of the situation.  But just because you have to buy down, doesn’t mean you can’t get a centre who is still a great guy to have as your third line centre.

 

The team to look at is the Hurricanes.  Their interest in Nugent-Hopkins hasn’t exactly been a secret.  Apparently Rod Brind’Amour is a massive fan and knows Nugent-Hopkins very well, and the Hurricanes really need to improve on what they have down the middle.  They got two guys I would be heavily interested in.  One is Elias Lindholm.  Now you might look at the stats on the season and say “why would the Canes do that, Lindholm has one more point”.  Well, yes, but he’s played in 11 more games than RNH this season, and RNH has put up his points while not playing on the top PP unit in Edmonton, nor is he playing with the top wingers (not that the Oilers have a lot of good wingers).  Lindholm is also an RFA, so a lot of this depends on what Lindholm would cost.  If you can do a two or three year bridge with Lindholm at 3.75-4.5 per, then it makes sense for the Oilers.  If it’s going to be more rich than that, then you have to look elsewhere.  But it’s an interesting deal for both if the numbers will work, and even at only 1.5 mil in savings for the Oilers, you’re saving while maintaining tremendous depth down the middle.

 

The other, might be a little more far fetched, but could they possibly get Martin Necas?  And some of you might be asking “who?”  Martin Necas is one of the best prospects not in the NHL right now.  The Hurricanes got him 12th in the draft last year, and the kid just has tremendous skill.  Getting a kid like Necas would be a home run for the Oilers.  You would have him on an ELC, and it would really open things up for whoever the GM might be to upgrade on the wings.  In my opinion, he’d be the guy I’d chase, and if I had to add to the deal to land him I would.  Not a lot, but something.

 

Another one I actually have been thinking of is the Avs.  And you might say “why would the Avs want Nuge?  They just dealt Duchene and have been better.”  Yep, they sure have.  But they have over 25 million in cap space for next season (probably over 30 million once we find out what the cap will be), no vital players to re-sign, and they have a kid in Tyson Jost who has yet to take off.  It’s not just point totals, he doesn’t have good possession numbers either.  So straight up, this would be viewed as a huge gamble by a lot of people.  But for me, I was sky high on Jost going into the 2016 draft, and really believe he is going to really pop sooner rather than later.  You get a third line centre who has elite second line centre upside with two years left on his ELC, that’s a gamble I’m willing to take.

 

Don’t sleep on the Blues in a potential deal for RNH.  They got Paul Stastny’s seven mil coming off the books this summer and really could use a centre if they’re going to contend.  They got Robert Thomas who I believe would be a perfect compliment to McDavid and Draisaitl.  They also have Robby Fabbri who has been injured now for the last two seasons, but still shouldn’t be slept on as a kid with big potential.  I would ask for both, as neither is a sure thing.  Now I don’t know if you can get both if you’re Peter Chiarelli, I don’t know if you can simply add a piece to that to make the deal work, I don’t know if the Blues want to add another big ticket once they shed one in Stastny.  But I would target the Blues and see if you couldn’t make something work.  Like Jost, I was sky high on Thomas last year leading into the draft and believe he has enormous potential.

 

Other teams with possible interest in my mind would be Montreal, but I just don’t know what they could offer (and PLEASE don’t say Max Pacioretty, one year left on his deal and you’re going to have to give him a gross extension).  They don’t have much in the system, and don’t have a cheaper centre option who would fit.  Columbus is another team that hasn’t really been quiet about wanting to improve down the middle in a hurry, but would they possibly give up a kid like Pierre-Luc Dubois?  I doubt it, not without the Oilers adding to the deal with perhaps as much as a 2019 first rounder.  Then the next best option would be Boone Jenner, who has completely fallen apart the last two seasons.  Jenner could be a guy a team can land this summer without having to give too much seeing he’s an RFA who’ll get over three million on a QO and he’s only got 16 points this season.  Would the Minnesota Wild part with Charlie Coyle?  I can’t see it, plus adding nearly three million to their cap probably isn’t feasible without dumping a guy like Ennis who I spoke of already, or Marcus Foligno.

 

Of course when speaking of RNH, everyone believes you need to use him to land a high end winger.  And that could easily be done, no doubt.  You use him for that, and you still have a kid in Ryan Strome who would probably be ok as your third line centre.  He’s got good possession numbers, and next season with an upgrade on his wings like a Yamamoto or Puljujarvi as well as a knowledge both in the off-season and to start next season that he’s set in stone as a centre could see increased production.  For me, I don’t like Strome much and would prefer RNH be used to land a centre with a cheaper deal, then use that money to land a winger in another way, but both are good options to have.  If they decide to go my way, I do have a list of guys to target for the wings.  They aren’t sure things, and they aren’t big money guys.  But I believe they’d work.

 

Max Domi – Best of this bunch for sure.  He’s a winger who they’ve attempted to convert into a centre.  It’s not as though Domi is incapable to play centre, but he is just plain as day a winger.  A winger with a ton of skill.  The Oilers have to take a run at Domi.  What could they offer?  Well let’s assume for a minute that the Oilers get a centre in return for RNH.  Would a package built around Ryan Strome get it done?  At first blush you’re likely the same as me, thinking “hell no, not even close”.  But look deeper at it.  Strome has only four less points (26-22) as of writing this.  Strome has more size.  Strome is much more so a natural centre.  Both are RFA’s after the season and I believe you could argue that Domi will be looking for more money than Strome.  Could there be an attraction/desire from the Coyotes to pair the Strome brothers together?  And remember, I said Strome package, not straight up.  Ryan Strome and….Matt Benning for Domi?  Maybe a prospect like Cam Dineen comes back with Domi in that scenario?  I believe the Oilers have the pieces to give for Domi, and it shouldn’t have to be (notice I didn’t say doesn’t have to be…) big pieces.

 

Brett Connolly – I’ve been fascinated by Connolly as a potential fit for the Oilers for a year and a half now.  A pure shooter with size and underrated wheels.  He’d be an answer to that RH shooting bullet they crave on the off wing on the PP, and I also believe he could potentially be a terrific fit with McDavid five on five.  He has 14 goals as of writing this for the Caps this season playing mostly in the Caps bottom six, and only seeing time with the second PP unit.  Why Barry Trotz doesn’t look to use him more with Backstrom and put Ovechkin elsewhere five on five is completely lost on me.  But he’s having a good season, so he wouldn’t cost nothing, however he wouldn’t cost a lot either and he has one more year at just 1.5 million next season.  I believe you’d be look at two pieces, perhaps an Anton Slepyshev (even though I don’t like the idea of dealing him) and maybe a 3rd round pick or so.  Connolly doesn’t drive offence, so his cost might come down a bit from now until the draft (which is when you’d look to acquire him, this wouldn’t be a trade deadline move) should he cool off a bit.

 

Andreas Athanasiou – He had a long, drawn out contract squabble with the Wings last season, and he was recently a healthy scratch.  But this kid is one of the fastest skaters in the league, with real good size to go with it.  And on top of this, the Wings are in cap hell still and could stand to buy down on him.  So perhaps a flip of Athanasiou for Caggiula would work?  I like Caggiula, but he’s had trouble getting it going here and is still a bit of a mess in his own zone.  Athanasiou would be looking for a long term deal, but I could see something like 5 years/18 million (3.6 cap hit) getting it done.  I could see him working tremendous with Draisaitl more so than McDavid.  I know the theory is that they need speed to play with McDavid but I believe while they need more speed to play with McDavid, having a guy who can stay with him isn’t essential.  But having that speed with Draisaitl, that could be REAL good.

 

Nic Petan – I have to throw this in off the top, and even though I’ve been writing this piece since last Thursday and had Petan in mind, Lowetide came out with a piece for the Athletic yesterday which featured (I guess you could say) Petan as a potential get for the Oilers.  So while I’m not just taking what he said and making it my own, we definitely agree on the idea.  This is a kid who has never got a real opportunity in Winnipeg.  There was never a great spot to fit him in.  I have no doubt that Petan can thrive in today’s NHL.  He was the same type of player and a better player than Brayden Point was in the WHL, and I’m not knocking Point, I’m praising Petan.  The only thing with Petan that worries me is if the wheels are good enough for his size.  He’s not a poor skater, but at 5’9 you need a guy to be close to an elite skater.  He’s a guy who I wouldn’t pay a lot to get, but definitely have interest in for the right price.

 

Arturri Lehkonen – He only has 11 points on the season in 41 games, so you might think he’s useless.  He is playing with no centre, and his CF% is the best on the Habs (minimum 400 minutes) at 54.88%.  I’ve followed Lehkonen since his draft year, this is a HIGHLY skilled and speedy kid.  We know Marc Bergevin isn’t a big analytics guy, so could you perhaps get Lehkonen on the cheap?  Another bonus is he’s got another season on his ELC.  As much as I believe Bergevin would move him, I’m not sure he’d move him for real cheap seeing he does have a season left on his ELC.  Caggiula and a future pick get it done?  Maybe Caggiula and Benning for Lehkonen and a D prospect like Noah Juulsen?  Josh Brook?  You could do a deal.  It’s risky.  Hell, any of these guys I’m talking about trading for are risky to roll with, but you have to find guys like this.

 

Denis Gurianov – Drafted just three years ago mainly because of a terrific shot.  Gurianov was viewed as a better version of Brock Boeser when he was taken.  Today, he’s been struggling in the minors.  You wouldn’t want to pay much, and it’s suspect that the Stars would give up on him while he still has two years remaining on his ELC.  But he’s interesting, because snipers need guys to get them the puck.  I’d want to really dig into the film on Gurianov to determine whether his lack of production has been a lack of playing with guys who can get him the puck, or if he’s just yet another in a long line of underachieving Russian players.  Like with Petan, I’d want Gurianov on the cheap.  I think of guys like Curtis Lazar and Sven Baertschi who netted second round picks when they were in similar situations.  I’d maybe do a 2019 or 2020 second for him, not a 2018 second, even if they land an extra one at the deadline as I believe they really need to look to keep their picks this year and stock the cupboard, especially seeing that I have them moving three or four prospects to load up the system.

 

Sam Bennett – I just can’t see the Flames letting this kid get to the Oilers, so don’t get me wrong here.  If he finally popped and was wearing an Oilers jersey while doing so, that would be a nightmare for the Flames brass.  BUT….Bennett’s time with the Flames does appear to be coming to an end as he just can’t gain much traction.  It’s well known that he’s close with Connor McDavid, and the Oilers need help on the wing (left side specifically) or possibly a third line centre.  Again, I HIGHLY doubt the Flames would allow him the Oilers to take a chance on him, and the other thing is the only guy the Oilers would have who possibly would interest the Flames is Patrick Maroon, so I doubt there is a fit.  Still….my guess is they’d have a lot of interest if Bennett could now be made available.  Maybe if Chiarelli was shrewd enough to orchestrate a three way deal it could be done?

 

Of course in a few of these deals, I’ve suggested dealing away Matt Benning.  I don’t have anything against Benning by any means, but he’d have decent value on the trade market, and feels to me like one of the odd men out if they’re looking to change the look of their blueline and add more pure puck movers to the fold.  So with him out, who do you then go get?  I got one guy I really like the idea of:

 

Tim Heed – I don’t know if the Sharks would be too eager to part with a puck moving defenceman who will go into next season with a cap hit of 650K.  But they haven’t used him as I suspected they would this season.  When he is up with the big club, he does see quite a bit of PP time, and his analytics look good to my eye (though despite constantly looking at them I can never tell if I’m reading them properly).  If the Sharks were willing to move him, I have a tough time figuring out what he would even cost.  But I do know this: in today’s NHL, this guy should be on some teams bottom pairing.

 

 

Ok, you had enough yet?  Well I’m probably only about half done….time to move onto the first round pick.

 

Obviously we are a LONG ways off, but the more I give this thought, the more I feel that it’s vital they be in a spot to get one of the two top LW’s in this draft.  I wouldn’t be against trading back in pretty much any situation because of how well this organization has started to draft.  But in my mind it’s just vital that they win a top three pick.  If you win a top three pick, you’re guaranteed one of Filip Zadina or Brady Tkachuk.  Either player will be able to step into the Oilers lineup next fall and produce.  Maybe not on the top line, but definitely in the top nine.  My preference is Zadina because he’s going to tilt the ice similar to how Taylor Hall does.  Similar size, doesn’t quite have Hall’s North/South speed, but brings more pure skill to the table then Hall did.  Zadina with McDavid, Draisaitl, and Puljujarvi moving forward I believe would be insanely difficult to handle.  However, Tkachuk would bring the size and toughness that they will lose with Maroon, and lose with Lucic if they are sharp enough to attempt to unload him, while being a solid skater (not great, but much better than either of them) and also being more of an instigator which the Oilers badly need more of in their lineup.  As for Andrei Svechnikov, I admit that with the Oilers that idea is intriguing.  But if you read my prospect rankings last week you’ll know I’m not as intrigued by the kid.  Russian kids taken high in the draft have busted a lot in the last ten years, and he gets a ton of goals thanks to his physical maturity.  Doesn’t have to think the game too much.  Having said all that, I get the intrigue with him.

 

Of course winning Rasmus Dahlin would change so much of this blog.  It’s highly unlikely as much as everyone loves to joke about the Oilers winning the lottery, but it is possible.  You would need to make sure a spot on your bottom pairing is open, and you let him get his feet wet there.  You don’t put him in your top four until year two, and by year three you possibly are putting him on your top pair.  But it’s so tough to say because a generational defencemen is so extremely rare.  He might be ready to be a teams number three guy next season, and a number one by year two.  But obviously, nobody will be crying if the Oilers win the Swedish defenceman.

 

Of course I have yet to touch on what the deadline could bring.  First off….PLEASE Peter Chiarelli, DO NOT RE-SIGN PATRICK MAROON PRIOR TO THE TRADE DEADLINE!!!!!!!!!!!  And I am such a massive Patrick Maroon fan, but this is a business, especially in the cap world, and he is not worth what he’s going to command at the moment.  Trade him.  Second off (is that a thing?  Second off?), DO NOT DO WHAT YOU DID WITH HALL!!!!!!!!!!!!  What does that mean exactly?  It means that he better not go in with a plan to simply add any guy who fits his bill no matter how badly he loses in value.  And it wasn’t just Hall.  He did that with Davidson and Eberle also, it’s ridiculous!  For example, on Insider Trading last week they spoke of the possibility of Maroon possibly fetching the Oilers a first round pick.  If you can get that, you absolutely must take that deal.  But they also talked about Chiarelli wanting a prospect who is close to playing, and the popular theory is that he has eyes for Adam Erne.  23 year old prospect from the Lightning who is close to playing to the league and not close to being worth your time.  He’s a lot more of a heavy player than quick, and it would just be more Chiarelli bull shit that’s gotten him into trouble in past deals he’s done.  Take the first if you can get it, and go from there.  If you can’t get a first, then a second and a prospect would still be a good haul, and if you can then get say Adam Erne as the prospect with that second, then ok.  And that’s more so what I’m expecting for Maroon.  Second rounder and a B type of prospect or young player.  Maybe a second round pick and a guy like Ivan Barbashev (ironically drafted using the Oilers draft pick in 2014) if the Blues are in it.  But don’t FUCKING settle!!!

 

Mark Letestu is really the only other piece who is sure to go.  You may ask “what about Mike Cammalleri?”  Well, yeah, if anyone wants him.  But someone will want Letestu (suckers).  Letestu is done.  He was a damn good signing, played tremendous last season, but he’s shot.  He doesn’t have the speed to make up for his lack of size anymore.  So he’ll go, and I would be looking for a 3rd and a 5th round pick for him.  It could even be a 2019 3rd.  But why the added 5th?  Because it recoups what they lost for Al Montoya.  So if you can get a team to pay that price, and I really believe someone would pay that for a perceived elite 4th line centre.  Last year Brian Boyle was that guy, and Boyle fetched the Lightning a 2nd round pick.  Weaker draft, so you must keep that in mind, but I believe a 3rd and a 5th is possible for Letestu.

 

Of course this summer they will still need to look at the UFA market to plug a few holes.  Even if you clear up a lot of space, you can’t go pissing that cap space away.  I already talked about Nurse, already talked about upgrading on the wings and with a top four RH shooting defenceman, you got Jesse Puljujarvi as a candidate to get a long term deal on an extension (which I would look to do this summer), and you can’t assume the cap will continue to rise…even though it should.

 

Derek Ryan – Love him, but so will a lot of teams.  I worry that he could get a big pay day.  He’s got real good numbers across the board.  But he will be 32, and he is a bit of an unknown still.  If you could get him in to be your fourth line centre for three years and two million per, I’d do it.  And that might seem like a gross pay day for your fourth line centre, but looking at the needs of this team (especially the PK), I believe Ryan would be a major asset much the way Letestu was last season.

 

Tyler Bozak – Similar theory to Ryan, and I wonder if Bozak won’t be cheaper than Ryan.  He’s looked at as declining where Ryan is looked at as rising, even though they are as similar as can be!  Age, size, shot, position, point totals, etc.  I have to assume that both Ryan and Bozak are getting more money than I’m hopeful the Oilers can get them at, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  The NHL world can be so odd in the way they under and overvalue players, and it wouldn’t shock me if one of Ryan or Bozak look for home run deals and if they don’t get it, they’re left out in the cold much the way Kris Russell was in the summer of 2016.

 

Marcus Kruger – This one is pending, but the belief is that the Hurricanes are going to buy him out this summer.  Darcy McLeod had some good stuff on him last week showing that he’s really been hurt playing with Joakim Nordstrom this season.  Away from Nordstrom, the guy has really tilted the ice!  So as a fourth line centre/13th forward possibility he could be a tremendous option.

 

Greg McKegg – I actually didn’t know where to put McKegg, because this isn’t a guy who would cost much at all via trade, nor in free agency if the Pens don’t give him a qualifying offer.  But the point here is to land a 13th forward who plays the middle.  There are a lot of guys like McKegg, but I’m using him as the example of this.  I told you this was extensive…

 

Michael Grabner – I don’t know.  He’s going to get a big pay day.  Maybe the same type of deal that we saw Benoit Pouliot and Michael Frolik get.  But no doubt he would be a terrific get for the Oilers if they can afford him.  Speed to burn and a total sniper who creates a ton of his scoring chances on his own.  I love the guys game, and have since the Islanders first plucked him off waivers years ago thinking “why in the hell did the Canucks let this kid go on waivers?!”  But again, a 4×4 type of deal is what I think he’s looking at.

 

Patrick Maroon – YEP!  I just talked about trading him, now I’m talking about signing him!  But some ground rules here.  No more than a two year deal, no more than 2.5 million a season, and you sign him to be in a bottom six role.  If he works his way back up the lineup next season, then awesome!  But otherwise, he’s still a perfect guy to have in the bottom six for the right price.  As of now, I believe that Maroon isn’t going to get the pay day that most thought he would get about four months ago.  Now, he’ll likely need a big playoff run to get that, so he’s another guy I could see getting left out in the cold on July 1st and if that’s the case then whoever the Oilers GM is could swoop in and grab him on the cheap.

 

Yohan Auvitu – Obviously this one would be a re-signing, but I really want to see him back as the seventh D-man.  When given the chance, he’s played ok.  And he can make the jump up front if need be.

 

Ok, I think I’m on the home stretch now!

 

When all this is said and done, something like this would be completely ideal going into next season for the Oilers:

Max Domi – McDavid – Brett Connolly

Andreas Athanisiou – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi

Khaira – Elias Lindholm – Yamamoto

Maroon – Marcus Kruger – Kassian

Greg McKegg

Pakarinen

 

 

Nurse – Larsson

Klefbom – Tyson Barrie

Davidson – Tim Heed

Auvitu

 

Talbot

Montoya

I can’t wait to see who is the bigger schmuck, Chiarelli or Darren Dreger.  Because either Chiarelli is going to get a goaltender to “push Cam Talbot” right after he went out and acquired Al Montoya, or else Dreger is once again caught talking out his ass.  I would say it’s a complete coin flip at the moment, either man could win.  Both of their reputations are pretty terrible at this time.  Of course, who the hell knows if it’ll be Chiarelli making any trades.  Anyway…this would be a massive overhaul, and I’m not saying that all this is necessary.  The three reasons this team is in the spot their in are the PP, the PK, and the goaltender.  So it’s tough to say how anyone, no matter who the GM is will view this.  I’m sure there are an insane amount of options out there that I didn’t even hit on.  But the point is that they have to clear out the shitty contracts, they have to get a lot faster, and they have to get more skilled on the wings.  Now with that last one, let’s keep in mind that they will have an even better Puljujarvi next season along with Yamamoto coming up.  They SHOULD be better just with that (though they SHOULD have been a playoff team this season…).  But more is needed without a doubt.

 

After doing this, and going through things with a fine tooth comb as I did, I do feel confident that with the right management in place that this thing is very salvageable.  But I don’t trust Peter Chiarelli in the least.  The man doesn’t know how to make deals, that is CRYSTAL CLEAR now.  He’s a poor negotiator whether he’s negotiating with a fellow GM, or if he’s negotiating with an agent.  He caves easily.  Leon Draisaitl should have been signed in early October to a deal worth 1-1.5 million a year less than what it was.  Nope, he gave in.  Just like he did with Reinhart, Larsson, Desharnais, Strome, etc.  It’s not just a new GM that’s needed, it’s the right GM that’s needed.  Along with not just a new coach, but the right coach.

 

The biggest issue of all though is that this organization very literally has one of the worst owners in pro sports who is much more worried about getting his buddies jobs than he is with winning hockey games.  He is an absolute DISGRACE to this fan base who have supported this team more than any other fan base would over the last eleven seasons, and of course that ineptitude has trickle down throughout the organization.  Like for example, leave your fucking kid at home when you go to Dallas this year would you?!?!  Or if he HAS to come, then he can sit his ass down at the table!!!  He doesn’t need to be up there with management and scouts who while might be inept because you won’t find competent people, still do all the work and your son does none of it…you jack ass.  Maybe you could at the very least shell out for Harrison to get an adult hair cut?  Hell, even the teams daily radio show has become a complete joke and not worth anyone’s time to hear Bob Stauffer attempt to spin things as if they aren’t as bad as we can all see they are and hint at sweetheart trade possibilities which are purely wishful thinking on his part.  Even Stauffer is a guy who has gone from respected voice calling it like it is, to coming off as being overzealous with his social standing in the city and the league thanks to being given a job by a DISGRACE of an owner (tell us more about Pub 1905 and how your boys with Dan Baker, I don’t think people have heard that before, and fuck do we ever care).

 

Woah.  I kind of went off the rails in this last part.  And didn’t I say to stop bitching about things in the title?!  Shit.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NHL Picks – Feb. 17th, 2018

I flat out forgot to do this last week.  I should have just left it at that after my performance two weeks ago, where I laid out the picks I’d normally make and stating that they’d go 1-4 (they did) and then laid out the picks I wouldn’t normally take (but telling you to use those) and stating that they’d got 4-1 (3-2).  So that should have been a walk off, but it wasn’t….because I’m a sucker.

 

 

Edmonton at Arizona

Coyotes +110

Afternoon game (starts shortly, so get your bet in now if you like this one), season is done, the Oilers will completely mail this game in against a team that is actually playing really well lately.  The Coyotes have accepted that their season has been done for a while now, where the Oilers are still seemingly in shock about it and they still are on pins and needles about who may or may not be going at the trade deadline.  Like the Coyotes a lot in this game. #disgustingforDahlin

 

Montreal at Vegas

Golden Knights -1.5 (+115)

It’s only +115, but I really believe being the first time at Vegas for the Habs, and the Golden Knights playing every game like it’s the 7th game for the Cup, it’s just unlikely that the Habs keep this game within a goal.  And though this might comeback to bite me in the ass, now is the time of year that I’ve had a much easier time betting hockey.  There is now some separation in the teams and you have teams like Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, etc. starting to play out the string, so you can some what safely bet against them every night.

 

New Jersey at Tampa Bay

Over 6 (-110)

Eddie Lack vs what has been a currently very inconsistent Andrei Vasilevskiy.  Plus, the pace both teams play with, the scoring ability on both sides.  This isn’t the Devils of old, they’re a fun team to watch.  So I see this game being a shootout tonight.

 

Boston at Vancouver

Bruins -1.5 (+155)

The Bruins are just on another level right now.  I very much so don’t get it.  I know they have some quicker kids then they once did, but they’re still a pretty slow team overall, yet they are just simply getting great offensive production and terrific goaltending….pretty simple formula.  A team like the Oilers, if they get one, the other lets them down.  Yet for Boston, they’re just getting both every night.  Anyway, maybe the best in the league at the moment against one of the worst, so don’t over think it.  Bruins -1.5 at +155 is the right bet to make even if it loses.

 

Florida at Calgary

Panthers +120

DO NOT SLEEP ON THE PANTHERS!!!  This team is starting to roll.  I liked them before the season began, felt too many people were over looking them.  And hey, to this point they were very right and I was very wrong.  But now they’re on the rise, and even though they’re eight points out of a playoff spot at the moment, they have an unreal six games in hand on the Islanders!  Four in hand and seven back of the Blue Jackets who is the team they’re chasing in reality.  So that’s a point up if they happen to win their games in hand.  This team according to the standings look done, yet they’re VERY much in the race in the East!  And as I’ve already said, they’re starting to roll, and now tonight will be Roberto Luongo’s return between the pipes.  The Flames are playing great too, definitely not here to be a bitter Oilers fan and piss on how they’re doing right now.  I have big time respect for the resilience of the Flames.  But first game back off a road trip is the toughest.  Add to this, the Flames haven’t been too good at home this season, and they’ll be without Mike Smith (even though David Rittich has played great all season).  With the Panthers rolling, I believe they’re a sneaky good play.

 

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2018 NHL Draft: Top 32 Prospects (2.0)

You would think that since I did a top 32 list in early October that it would cut down the time it would take me to put this one together.  This took me something like three weeks to write up!  So if you see some stats or some information in here that’s a week or two old, I apologize in advance.  I always try to proof read my stuff, but I’m about as good of a proof reader as I am writer, so I end up missing a lot of shit.

 

I left it as a top 32 again this time around.  I just still don’t have enough information on enough guys to do a top 50 or 62 right now.  Eventually I will, but not this time.  And I make no bones about it, I’m not a scout, I compile information.  I look to what Craig Button, Bob McKenzie, Hockey Prospect, Future Considerations, Jeff Marek, ISS, Red Line Report, and even to a much lesser extent CSS (man they are dinosaurs with how they do things) have to say, not to mention searching for any videos I can find on these kids to get a better feel for the type of game they play, but I’m in no way a pro with this.

 

It’s a very odd draft class.  You have a kid who most want to call a generational talent, but most are scared to do so (including me) because of the track record defencemen who go first overall have.  There isn’t that standout, sure fire, top five pick centre in this draft.  A lot of real good ones, and who have potential to be number one guys, but much more likely that they are 2nd and 3rd line guys.  A lot of wingers who’ll tilt the ice.  I don’t like wingers, but it’s tough to not get real excited about what some of these wingers bring to the table.  And of course the calling card is the defencemen.  After Dahlin there is still a plethora of D-men who have legitimate number one ability, and elite puck moving D-men, and D-men with tremendous upside.

 

It’s very much shaping up to be like the draft of ten years ago where we saw eight of the 12 D who went in the first round either be solid or home run’s (and I considered both Bogosian and Luke Schenn disappointments despite playing over 500 games…in fact, Schenn is almost at 700 which is second for D in that draft behind Doughty).  If you go into the second round, good defencemen were still being taken (Voynov before he destroyed his career, Josi, Justin Schultz, and Hamonic).  Meanwhile, 12 of the 16 centres or wingers taken were either big disappointments or outright busts.  So keep that in mind, as this draft has an extremely similar look to it.

 

Something to know with my rankings, and that is the tiers are much more important than the actual ranking.  With tiers (which in my mind is how everyone should do their rankings), you’re taking the need for your hockey team, and if a player from a higher tier should fall to you, then you take him over the player in the next tier (think Matthew Barzal falling to the Oilers in 2015, you take him in that scenario because he’s going to worth a whole lot more than the player you take, you can use him later on to fill your need worst case scenario).  To me, you shouldn’t be passing on a need to take a player you have a spot or two higher and essentially equal with the player who can fill that need.  It’s damn near impossible to trade in this league anymore, so if you’re going to pass on a need for a guy you deem to be clear cut better, you best be damn sure!

 

I also put a lot of stock into upside.  What I look for is upside combined with IQ, work ethic/coachability.  If there’s a kid I’m lower on with a big ceiling, it’s likely because I’ve read something negative on the players IQ or work ethic.  But if there’s a kid with a big ceiling and I see or read that he’s got the makeup to realize that upside, I’m going to be sky high on him.  I also put more value on centres than anyone, and tend not to be real high on wingers (centres can play wing, wingers can’t play centre, you’ve heard it a million times).  Defencemen are a bit of a crap shoot, but they carry more value than any other position in the NHL so in my opinion it’s vital for teams to load up with them.  In only rare instances would I take a goaltender in the first round.  Round two is ok, but preferably in rounds three through seven are when I would do it.  And finally, I now put a ton of stock into skating ability.  Obviously it’s always been important, but with how much faster the league has gotten in the last three seasons, skating ability is simply at another level now and you need players who can play with and keep the pace.

 

Again, as always, I’m going to point out that my comparisons, like most others, are mostly just in terms of style.  I do try to matchup things like position, stature, shooting hand and lastly the upside.  I’ll try to fit in what I’m thinking for the comparisons on all these players, but when I don’t just keep in mind that if the comparison seems too lofty, I’m very likely just comparing the style and stature of the player, maybe a couple other things that may remind me of the comparable, but not necessarily that he’ll get to the same level as the comparable player did.

 

I think I’ve set the table enough, and it won’t matter as some of you are guaranteed to still tell me how dumb things are and why player A should be ahead of player B.  That’s cool, those are your rankings bro…these are mine:

 

Tier One

1. Rasmus Dahlin  Frolunda  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Drew Doughty

Back in October I was worried about how people would take this comparison when I made it.  I don’t think anyone is going to have a problem with it after seeing Dahlin anchor the Swedes blueline all the way to the gold medal game at the WJC.  He’s as elite of a talent on the blueline as there has been perhaps since Chris Pronger.  I know the other day Craig Button said he’s been the best since Denis Potvin, but guys like Pronger, Doughty and Hedman were ELITE guys.  They just happened to all come out in years where there were elite centres available as well.  At this point, he’s better than Hedman, better than Doughty.  I find it odd that I seem to be the only person alive who is making the comparison of Dahlin to Doughty.  He doesn’t HAVE to be compared to other Swedes you know….TSN….

 

Tier Two

2. Filip Zadina  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

Comparison: Nikita Kucherov

I can’t believe I have wingers in the two and three slots in my rankings, but here we are!  This draft is a very odd one.  Either one of these wingers could be ranked 2nd, but I like Zadina a tad more.  I just feel his skill is on such an elite level that while others will put up great numbers, it’ll be Zadina who is putting up monster numbers year after year, making everyone around him better, and can do anything for a hockey team.  He’s got the speed and smarts to play on the PK, he’s as good of a playmaker as he is a finisher, and he’s incredibly quick with the puck.  I’m just really high on this kid.

 

3. Brady Tkachuk  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Keith Tkachuk

It’s tough not to love this kid and badly want him on your team.  And I said this in the fall but will say it again, he’s much more like the old man than his brother.  Matt is a pest, Brady is a power forward.  Not to say Brady can’t play that game as well, but Brady will put guys through the boards, and I’m guessing he’ll be a pretty good fighter once he’s playing in a league where he can drop the gloves.  He’s the slowest skater of the big three wingers (not that he’s slow, just not real fast), but he might be the smartest, and his overall package makes him such a rare type of player to find in today’s league.  For me, if a team took Tkachuk over Zadina I would have no problem with it at all.  Hell, if the Oilers took Tkachuk over Zadina, even with the Oilers needing more speed on the wings, I still wouldn’t have any issue with it.  It’s more so just a preference between the two.

 

Tier Three

4. Adam Boqvist  Brynas  SWE-U20

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 168  Shot: R

Comparison: Brian Leetch

This kid had scouts drooling at the Hlinka.  I don’t think you can call a D-man who is 5’11 undersized anymore.  Last year, six of the nine D-men taken in the first round were only 6’0 or shorter.  Some of that was a result of it being a weaker draft year, but there is zero doubt that the league is trending towards smaller, higher skilled D-men.  Going with Leetch as the comparison rather than Erik Karlsson…some of that is looking to avoid what others are going to say.  Either way, we’re talking about a potential elite offensive defenceman.

 

5. Noah Dobson  Acadie-Bathurst  QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Seth Jones

So I put Dobson and Boqvist in their own tier.  I was more inclined to put Boqvist in the same tier as the two wingers, but I personally have him and Dobson so close together, and I wasn’t quite ready to rank Dobson alongside guys like Zadina or Tkachuk.  But having said that, I’m sky freaking high on this kid.  The comparison to Jones I feel is spot on.  Even the way Dobson skates and holds his stick reminds me of Jones, they’re just extremely similar kids and Dobson has very similar upside.  The mobility combined with the frame (and obviously what the size will likely be 195-215 lbs) and the vision.  He’s not too physical, but in today’s game there aren’t many who are.  That edge is always nice to have, but now days it’s much more vital to have that reach and use it effectively.  I think he’s got legitimate number one defenceman written all over him.

 

Tier Four

6. Joe Veleno  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Brad Richards

Call me nuts, but I’m not quitting on this kid as a top 10 guy, not yet anyway.  And I was going to.  I had him a lot lower than this for most of the time I spent doing these new rankings.  But he’s been on fire of late.  QMJHL player of the week not this passed week but the one before, capped by a tremendous three assist performance on the road against the top team in their division Blainville-Boisbriand.  And then in his next game (after I had that part written) he recorded a hat trick in a 3-1 win, and then on Friday night he had a goal and two assists.  So he could be very well be hitting his stride here.  And it’s tough to ignore a very poor St. John squad holding him back in the first half of the season, and that he’s likely now getting comfortable with his new squad and in the beginning of really busting out and having run for the rest of the season most expected of him.  But it’s not because of a little hot streak that I put him back up this high.  I can’t get past the fact that he without a doubt has the biggest upside of any centre in this draft, and scouts rave about his work ethic.  The IQ, the speed, the playamking, good size, and he has shown a commitment to playing a 200 foot game.  He has a little Connor McDavid in him in that he won’t shoot the puck, Connor’s only kind of/sort of flaw.  Another guy like that is Matt Barzal.  A very similar game to Veleno’s and he’s thriving in his rookie season after not looking overly great in junior as a 19 year old last season.  I believe that if/when Veleno starts to shoot the puck, his game will go to another level and we could be all wondering why people ever had him to go in the 15-30 range of the first round.

 

7. Bode Wilde  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: R

Comparison: Dougie Hamiltion

Already committed to Harvard for the 2019 season.  Harvard.  So it’s safe to assume he’s got a high IQ, to go with real good size and a RH shot, how could I say anyone else for the comparison?  Actually, everyone else will say Jacob Trouba (guarantee it), but the knock on Trouba has always been his IQ.  Wilde is smart, good size, good skater, big shot, righty, willing to play nasty, and plays with some swagger.  Probably goes without saying, but this ranking is a lot about upside.  Wilde has very legitimate number one potential.  Only reason he’s not with Boqvist and Dobson in the next tier is simply because as of writing this I feel like he’s just a little more raw than those two.

 

8. Ty Smith  Spokane  WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

He’s got the speed, IQ, work ethic, leadership and coachability to be a legitimate number one defenceman someday.  And I fully admit, some of this is bias.  I’ve watched this kid play a ton over the years.  He used to make me want to pull my hair out when he was in Atom hockey because he’d never pass the puck.  Well, he learned how to pass the puck!! (probably was much more on the coaching…)  I got him ranked about where most have him, but I’m sure some of the D-men I have him ranked higher than will be puzzling for a few compared to other lists.  But I know Smith has both the skill set and the mental makeup to potentially thrive at both ends of the ice.  I love how solid his game is on the defensive end.  The biggest knock I’ve heard on Smith is that he’s not “dynamic”, which has been a word I’ve despised from scouts.  It’s as though they truly believe you get extra points for style.  Smith is damn near a PPG player this season, I don’t care if any of those were highlight reel quality.  Another knock is his prospects game performance.  That was a one off.  Shitty night, no doubt, but don’t let that distract you from how good this kid is going to be.  The prospects game is littered with great performances from average players and poor performances from great players.

 

9. Andrei Svechnikov  Barrie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: L

Comparison: Vladmir Tarasenko

My rankings, not yours, and in my rankings I don’t trust Russian forwards.  Prejudice?  Well, since 2008 there have been six Russian forwards taken in the top 15 of the draft.  0 for 6 (I guess you could argue 1 for 7 if you consider Alex Galchenyuk Russian, I don’t seeing he was born in the States and represents the States in international competition).  Filatov, Burmistrov, Yakupov, Grigorenko, Nichushkin, and Gurianov.  Of those players, Filatov, Yakupov, and Nichushkin were getting close to the same type of hype that Svechnikov is.  Now, I do really like that Svechnikov has been over in North America playing in the USHL last season and now Barrie.  And I compare him to Tarasenko who has been tremendous (by the way, notice I went top 15, had I said top 16 there would be one guy who was a home run….)  And obviously the talent is ELITE.  Skating, shot, size, he’s got the tools to be an elite sniper.  But can he think the game?  That always seems to be a question that’s never asked on prospects like this.  How’s his vision?  I keep hearing people rave about it, and then you look and the kid only has 18 assists this season.  If his vision is so great, shouldn’t he be finding his teammates more often than 18 times in 32 games?  And again I’m going to harp on the fact that wonderlic testing should be done at the combine.  If Svechnikov tested good, then I’d be much higher on him.  But so many of these Russian kids have the size, speed and shot and just don’t get close to what they’re hyped to be.  But let’s not get it twisted, I got him 9th, not 39th.  I’m not saying he’ll without a doubt be a bust, but I just question even if he does stick in the league will he score at the elite level to justify being selected in the top five, or top three?  And I’m fully aware of how dumb I’m going to potentially look here with Veleno still that high and Svechnikov this low.  Whatever, this is how I feel.  You’re probably going to roll your eyes or call me a dip shit for who I have next too, that’s cool.  I feel Veleno will make his teammates better, where Svechnikov will need guys around him to get the most out of his game.  And no, this isn’t done for shock value.  None of my stuff is because I’d much rather get it right than be right.

 

10. Serron Noel  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 200  Shot: R

Comparison: Blake Wheeler

I find this to be such an intriguing comparison from Svechnikov to Noel.  I probably like Noel better, but I’m just not quite ready to have him ahead of Svechnikov.  Hey let’s not lie, it’s not easy to go against everyone else!  It’s not easy to have Svechnikov as low as nine and Noel as high as ten, because people will tell you what a moron you are.  But Noel has to think the game right now while his game develops, where Svechnikov doesn’t.  In five years, when Noel is fully developed physically, who will be better off for that?  I love how smart and mature Noel comes off as.  Obviously you’re drawn to that size, but for me it’s the smarts and maturity which suggests he’s going to be coachable with a great work ethic that will help him put it all together and thrive at the next level.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a project.  If you’re drafting him, you best plan to give this kid three years before you’re trying to fit him in the lineup.  Rushing any player is a mistake, but especially a project like this.  And be prepared for some heat if you take him up here, because kids like Wahlstrom, Farabee and Thomas are all likely going to be better than him for the next few seasons.  But you can see when you watch him play that his strength doesn’t come close to matching his size at this point.  So the combination of size, skating ability, shot, skill, work ethic and IQ would make me feel completely comfortable taking him this high.  I have a good track record of being right on guys I’m higher on.  2013, Darnell Nurse.  I had him as a number one defenceman someday, liked him better than Seth Jones, and he’s now trending that way.  2014, Dylan Larkin, couldn’t understand why he wasn’t going top 10.  2015, Matthew Barzal, I had him 5th in my rankings ahead of Dylan Strome, ahead of Mitch Marner.  Last year, Robert Thomas, I think the kids going to be a 1st line centre and the only thing I’m upset about is that I didn’t trust myself enough to put him in my top 10.  As of right now, Noel is this guy for me.  Someone else may emerge, some new information on Noel may sour me on him, but right now I just think the kid is going to be a star as long as the team drafting him can be patient.  As for the Wheeler comparison, I’m thinking both of what Wheeler was like in his draft year, and what he’s become.

 

Tier Five

11. Isac Lundestrom  Lulea  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 178  Shot: L

Comparison: Henrik Zetterberg

I think if there’s a centre who is going to shoot up these rankings that scouts will eventually drool all over Lundestrom.  He gets a lot of comparisons to Lias Andersson whom the Rangers took 7th last year, while most had him going in the 15-20 range.  Centres are more vital than wingers, I don’t know how many times I have to say it.  And I think right now Lundestrom has some knocks that people are paying more attention to than his tremendous game.  He’s a late 99 birthdate, he’s sub 6’0 which for a centre isn’t the best size, and he’s still pretty thin on top of that.  Now, shall I go over the boatload of attributes he brings to the table which make me believe he’s going to be a tremendous centre?  Speed, vision, shot, 200 foot game, frame (he might be under 180 lbs now, but simply looking at his frame I’d say he’ll be close to 200 lbs in a few years), strength, puck protection, compete level.  I just love this kids game and can’t really see why he’s getting underrated by some.

 

12. Jesperi Kotkaniemi  Assat  Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikko Koivu

I say I always try to avoid the “stereotypical comparison”, and then with these last three guys I’ve had a stereotypical comparison.  But I’m not sure how anyone could think of another player than Koivu when watching Kotkaniemi.  Big, good skater, plays a very responsible and understated game.  Will he be a legitimate first line centre?  He could be, but he looks like a kid whom if he’s your second line centre then you’re going to be a Cup contender.  Another Fin whom he may you remind you of is Sasha Barkov, and you would say that same thing about him.  The Panthers love him, and he can play the tough minutes.  But if he were there second line centre, they’d be right there with the Leafs and possibly the Lightning in the Atlantic.  He might not be a flashy or fan favourite type of pick, but I feel he’ll be a very safe and solid pick for someone.

 

13. Jack McBain  Toronto  OJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Jason Spezza

Most are down on him because he has impressed to the level expected of him this season.  He’s in his second season in the OJHL, the Jr. Canadiens are kind of in no man’s land as far as the standings go, and he’s already committed to Boston College.  So it has to be REALLY tough to get up for some of these games.  Come playoffs, if he’s still failing to live up to expectations, then maybe it’s cause for concern.  But not now.  Plus, who knows if the kid is trying to play through an injury, it could easily be the case because him not dominating like was expected doesn’t really add up.  The one thing I keep coming back to when I read up on McBain is scouts rave about his work ethic.  So with the skill set he has I’m not going to allow myself to be scared off because others don’t even have him in their top 31.  To me his skill set/work ethic combination means he has the second biggest ceiling of any of the centres in the first round discussion.  Not the best skater in the draft, that’s for sure, but it’s come a long ways from what it was even at this time last year, and I would at least now say it’s above average.  Even though I have put him down to 13th, I still won’t be surprised if he shoots up others rankings before the season is done and goes top 10.  I believe NHL scouts will like him a lot more than independent scouts do.

 

14. Barrett Hayton  S.S. Marie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 186  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan O’Reilly

You’ll hear this endlessly from now until the draft, but Hayton is a complete centre.  Tough to see him becoming a first line centre at this point, but definitely has potential to be one of those elite second line centres who a coach can use in any situation.  Of course when most other people say that, it’s looked at as a second line player.  In my mind, your second line centre should be at least your third best forward, and probably your second best.  When I think 2nd line centre, I think of a guy who can be a second line centre on a Cup winning team, not a Derek Roy/Sam Gagner type for example.  He’s never going to stand out with his skill, but he’ll do everything right to constantly put himself in the best position possible to produce for his team.  Stat that I love: as of writing this he has 46 points in 49 games, with only 13 of the 49 points coming on the pp.

 

15. Rasmus Kupari  Karpat  Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: Matt Duchene

I have trouble putting him above any of this group of centres mainly because I’m not sure his skills translate to playing centre in the NHL or if he might be better on the wing (a lot like the debate for years with Duchene).  And Kupari is a kid who is more about the upside than about the current production.  I seen a debate about this with a kid last year: Casey Mittelstadt.  Analytics guys were down on Mittelstadt, while more traditional scouting services loved him because of the skill set.  For me, I can’t get past the skill set with Kupari (for now), but am intrigued to see more of the kid.  He’s got the type of skill that could make him the best centre to come out of this draft.  I don’t know if I’d call him a boom or bust guy, but I’m cautious of him.

 

16. Quinn Hughes  Michigan  NCAA

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Dan Boyle

Lower than most have him, I realize that.  But I also feel as though we’re maybe starting to lean too heavily towards undersized D-men that can wheel offensively and simply ignoring their faults.  He’d be considered tiny for a forward, and he has such a long ways to go in his own zone before he can ever be more than just a PP specialist in the show.  He is never going to be that legitimate number one defenceman, so right off the bat his upside is limited.  And to that you might say “well he’s only an inch smaller than Smith and you think he can be one”, and that’s fair.  But Smith is already showing a commitment and ability to handle things in his own zone, where Hughes would have to change a lot of his game to be that guy.  He’ll need to be on a blueline like Pittsburgh’s or Toronto’s where it’s simply more vital to have five or six guys who can get the puck up to their high end forwards who can dominate possession, because I think he’ll have a hell of a time not getting exposed in his own zone.  I like Hughes, I’m not saying I wouldn’t draft him in the first round or anything along those lines, I just wouldn’t take him where others are currently ranking him (5-10 range).

 

17. Joel Farabee  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 152  Shot: L

Comparison: David Pastrnak

These next three are really odd rankings, because I love all three kids.  But my rule on wingers is that you don’t go for one in the first round unless you’ve got your centre and blueline situations in real good shape, or of course if you have the kids that we have at the top this season who are just so unique that you have to take them.  So if you’re a team that is picking high yet has everything in order, no reason these kids can’t be in your top 10.  But if you don’t, you need to be looking at bigger needs because skilled wingers aren’t difficult to find. And again, this is why I do tiers, and this 5th tier is large for a reason.  Anyway…Farabee can FLY, one of the best skaters in the draft.  He has elite puck skills and vision to go with those wheels, and a high motor on top of it all.  The high motor is what gives him the edge in my opinion over the next kid, but it’s really close between the two of them.  Not a lot to dislike other than the current weight, but once he’s up around 175 or so it won’t be much of an issue.

 

18. Oliver Wahlstrom  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: R

Comparison: Nick Schmaltz

A boat load of skill.  He’s listed as a C/RW for most, and the large majority of the time I just say “well then he’s a winger because it’s nothing for a centre to move to the wing”, but with Wahlstrom, going to Harvard next year, if you hear him interviewed he’s a pretty intelligent and mature kid, I wouldn’t be shocked if he is a full time centre at Harvard and thrives doing so, which in turn would make him a much more valuable prospect.  The one flaw though that I kind of hit on while discussing Farabee is that Wahlstrom really lacks consistency.  When he’s on, he’s electric.  But he has an off switch that is a bit concerning for me.

 

19. Akil Thomas  Niagara  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Mitch Marner

I don’t get why Thomas is ranked so much lower than Farabee and Wahlstrom for some.  Because when I watch Thomas I see a very similar player to those two.  And Thomas has played centre most of the season.  I got him as a winger because I wonder how the 200 foot game will be, but he’s been the second line centre in Niagara all season.  High end skater with silky smooth hands and tremendous vision.  I wonder if he’ll be a kid that some organizations shy away from?  Reason being that while I don’t know what he’s like off the ice, on the ice he plays with a lot of swagger (which I personally love), and I know “hockey men” usually have a problem with.  As for the comparison, consult what I said in the opening, it’s much more about style.  Having said that, I don’t see why Thomas can’t rival what Marner does.  I could be wrong about this, but I don’t believe Thomas sees much five on five time with Kirill Maksimov, instead is on the Ice Dogs second line with essentially nobody.  In his draft year, Marner was playing with Max Domi and Christian Dvorak most of the season.  So it might not be just the style and stature that’s similar with the two players.

 

Tier Six

20. Evan Bouchard  London  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Whitney

I simply don’t like him as much as others do.  Now this easily could change, but it’s where I stand at this time, even after a terrific prospects game.  I’m seeing some terrific stats, but I’m seeing a lot of jumping in the play, which he won’t be able to do near as much in the NHL because his wheels are just good enough to do it in the OHL, not the NHL.  His shot to my eye looks accurate, which is good, but he’ll have to add a lot of power to it (I seen Jeff Marek call it a bullet, maybe I haven’t seen it enough but to my eye it didn’t look that powerful).  I actually like his wrist shot a lot more than his clapper.  And this might seem odd, but I worry that only a third of his points are on the PP.  Normally, I’d love this stat.  With Bouchard, I’m really not sure if it’s a good thing because again with his speed being a bit of an issue he’ll have trouble jumping in the play.  If he was torching everyone on the PP, then I would say his game could be fine the way it is.  But I just really believe he’s going to have to change a lot of his game to be a top four defenceman in the NHL.  Here’s another thing to remember: who have the London Knights produced on D who met expectations after being taken high in the draft?  Olli Maatta might be the only one (don’t give me John Carlson, he only spent a season there, post being drafted).  They’ve had a some guys succeed whom were basically afterthoughts while in London, but the track record of their guys picked in the first and second rounds isn’t pretty.  Now, let’s not get it too twisted here.  I have him 20th in a good draft.  It’s not like I’m saying he won’t make it or that he doesn’t have upside.  He has the tools to be a top four D-man.  I just think there is a lot more risk with him than most are realizing right now and that his stats could be blinding some.  Brock Otten who covers the OHL made a comparison in his mid-season rankings to Cody Franson (more so just asking if he’s going to be more like that), and that really hit with me.  Franson became a dominant defenceman in his final year of junior and big things were expected once he turned pro, but has never had that next gear he needed to be a regular top four guy in the NHL.

 

21. Jacob Olafsson  Timra  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Alex Wennberg

Another stereotypical comparison I know, but I couldn’t avoid it.  Solid two way centre.  It’s not anything that anyone will get excited over, and Olafsson doesn’t seem like an excitable guy out on the ice.  Just plays 200 feet, good size, skates well, high IQ, good shot, good vision, I think he’s worst case scenario a terrific third line centre, best case scenario he’s an elite second line centre.  He’s a lot like Kotkaniemi, but I feel as though Kotkaniemi has a higher ceiling offensively.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Not really really a flaw in his game, just does nothing at an elite level which is something I like a first round pick to have is that one elite quality to work with.

 

Tier Seven

22. Grigori Denisenko  Yaroslavl  MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 163  Shot: R

Comparison: Alexander Radulov

Lower than some scouting services have him, but again, my trust in Russian hockey players is really low right now.  Denisenko reminds me a lot of Denis Gurianov three years ago in that so many people were talking as though Gurianov was different from other Russians, and to this point Gurianov is exactly like other Russians…anyway, they are completely different players so who knows.  Like Bokk, talent is zero question here.  And I’m not anything afraid to admit that if he were Canadian, American, Swedish, etc. that he would be up there with my second group of wingers, and maybe with Zadina, I feel he’s got that level of talent.  But how do you trust drafting a Russian forward right now?

 

23. Dominik Bokk  Vaxjo  SuperElite

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Martin Havlat

As Chris Berman would call him “Dominik Bokk like an Egyptian”.  Maybe the fastest riser in the draft right now?  He’s definitely gaining traction, and the kid has ridiculous one on one skills which can help make a kid an online sensation.  But I have seen people questioning his play away from the puck.  He puts up points and he can make beautiful plays, but if you’re much more of a liability out there than an asset, you’re not going to see the ice.  Skill set is without a doubt there for this kid to become a front line player though.  Speed, hands, vision, are all real high end, and the size will be good too once he fills out.  It won’t surprise me if I’m putting him in that Farabee/Wahlstrom/Thomas group on the next rankings, but I’m hesitant to put him up there just yet.

 

24. Jet Woo  Moose Jaw  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 205  Shot: R

Comparison: Travis Hamonic

It’s funny, a lot of people really like Woo, but everyone has him ranked around this spot.  Doesn’t have the offensive upside which guys like Dobson, Wilde, Hughes, and Smith have.  But having said that, he really gives you nothing to dislike.  Size is fine, RH shot, great skater, plays confident, very willing to get his nose dirty, just a damn good and in my opinion he’s a very safe kid to roll the dice on.

 

Tier Eight

25. Benoit-Olivier Groulx  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Yannic Perreault

A very similar guy to Barrett Hayton.  Similar size, similar game, similar skating issues, just maybe doesn’t have the offensive game and/or quite the same bite to his game that Hayton has but I’d suggest that if your team has eyes for Hayton and they can’t get him then Groulx would be a damn good alternative.  Groulx probably isn’t as weak of a skater as Perreault was, and some might be scoffing at this comparison because Perreault is strictly remembered for his face-off ability.  Go back and look at his numbers.  There were a lot of seasons where Perreault was a very solid and skilled second line centre.  If he had the speed his offensive numbers likely would have been in the 70 point range for a few seasons.  This is how I see Groulx.  Talented, and highly intelligent kid who can play in any situation and put up some good numbers, but his skating will hold him back a bit.

 

26. Ryan McLeod  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Cassels

McLeod has everything you need to be a number one centre, except he just doesn’t show that he’s very willing to do what it takes.  I don’t know if that’s the case off the ice, but on the ice it is in that he’s a perimeter player and really doesn’t like the traffic.  But he’s a great skater, has great vision, and actually plays a pretty solid two way game.  Maybe it’s a case of a kid who is trying to play too cautious?  I doubt it, but you never know.  I put Andrew Cassels as the comparison, but the guy I worry that he’s exactly like is Peter Holland who had a very similar scouting report coming out of the OHL.

 

27. Calen Addison  Lethbridge  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

Pretty standard analysis with Addison.  Small, fast, quick, right handed shooting puck mover.  He’ll never be a number one defenceman, but he could thrive in the right situation and be a solid second pairing kid.  As of right now, he has a long ways to go in his own zone.  But with his offensive abilities, as long as he gets it to a level where he’s not a liability, he’ll be ok.

 

28. Jared McIsaac  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Brayden Coburn

I worry about his IQ.  Now, in saying that, I really don’t know.  It’s just an opinion formed off a couple interviews I’ve seen him do.  That could be 100% wrong!  But to me I think he’s going to be a nice D-man, maybe a number four, but I have my doubts he’ll be anything more than that.  He’s mobile, and he’s got good size (especially by today’s standards for D-men), but I’m just not sure he’s going to put up much for offensive numbers, which when you add all that up is that not what Brayden Coburn has been?  I think he’ll play in the league, I just worry about the ceiling.

 

29. K’Andre Miller  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Ed Jovanovski

Don’t tweak about the comparison and just keep in mind that I’m talking about the style, not necessarily the ceiling.  Having said that, it wouldn’t shock me if someday Miller got near the level that Jovo was in his prime.  Currently, he’s very raw.  And a lot like Serron Noel, the warning has to be there that he needs time to develop.  He’s a kid whom I’d LOVE to interview and figure out his smarts, because he’ll definitely get the label of “low hockey IQ” being raw and talented.  If the IQ is there with him, he would rocket up my rankings.  One thing that will need work though is the explosiveness.  He has great top end speed, but the first steps need work.

 

30. Mattias Samuelsson  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Luca Sbisa

Son of Kjell, not Ulf, which I’m sure will be asked by plenty of 30+ year old readers.  He’s on the rise in a lot of rankings.  Hockey Prospects has him 13th!  For me, I need to see more of him.  Being a kid with great size and being the son of a guy who was a very intelligent NHL defenceman, I can see myself shooting him up these rankings come June.  But to my eye when I’ve seen him I really don’t like the skating ability.  Not that he’s a poor skater, but I personally am looking more for kids now with high end skating ability, especially on the blueline.  As of now I’m not seeing the upside (which is why I give Miller a very slight edge over him at this time), but he could be a kid I grow a lot fonder of as we go along here.

 

31. Jonathan Tychonick  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 166  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyson Barrie

He’s exciting.  Terrific skater (the first step in particular is what I love), terrific passing ability, terrific shot (more so talking about his wrist than clapper), and unlike a kid like Ryan Merkley who is very similar, all reports are that Tychonick is a great kid who has a great attitude.  It’s tough, just like with Jack McBain he’s playing in the CJHL and not the CHL or even USHL so some will be hesitant.  But I think this kid is going to turn heads at North Dakota next season and leave everyone wondering why he wasn’t taken much sooner than he was.  Definitely a candidate to move up my rankings, and if the Vees get bounced early like they did two years ago when they had Jost and Fabbro, a trip to the U-18’s could be massive for his draft stock.

 

32. Rasmus Sandin  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Paul Martin

It’s a long list down here of the D-men, but it’s the year of the D-man in the draft so what do you expect.  Not in love with the skating.  He does everything else offensively better than the five D-men I have in front of him, but the skating is just good not great so he ends up behind them.  He’s a lot like Evan Bouchard for me.  Vision is high end, IQ is high end, but what is the upside?  He should play, but without that ability to cut and stop and start being at an elite level it makes me wonder if he can go beyond a number five guy.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2018 NHL Draft: Mock Draft 2.0

Don’t take a mock draft in February too seriously, ok?  This is an exercise to see where teams sit in regards to their system and what kind of player they might be looking at in the first round.  That’s it.  I realize things aren’t going to shake down anything close to where they are today.  I use this to talk organizations and talk prospects, and maybe a little prognosticating how things may shake down in the months to come.

 

Something new I’m going to do is put the tier the player is in along with the ranking.  So normally beside a players name in the mock drafts I have the players ranking.  Now, I’m going to put his tiering first, followed by his ranking.  So Filip Zadina for example is in the second tier and is second ranked.  So he’ll be listed as 2-2.  Akil Thomas is another example, and he’s in the fifth tier and is 19th overall.  So he’ll be listed as 5-19.  Got it?  Good.  Let’s get going then.

 

*Standings as of 2/11/18.  Based off points percentage, however the last four picks are the four division leaders, and playoff teams will be ahead of non playoff teams despite a better points percentage in the overall standings.

 

1. Rasmus Dahlin (1-1)  Frolunda  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Drew Doughty

With the possibility of one Swedish superstar ready to exit, another one would be entering.  Of course if they did win the Dahlin sweepstakes then it might factor into Ekman-Larsson’s decision to stay or walk.  Anyway, there really isn’t much to talk about here.  Whoever lands the top pick in this draft is going to be over the moon to draft Dahlin.

 

2. Adam Boqvist (3-4)  Brynas  SWE-U20

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 170  Shot: R

Comparison: Brian Leetch

Jason Botterill absolutely has to walk out of this draft, not just with a D-man in the 1st, but a boatload in a draft which is rich with defencemen.  Would you take Boqvist at two?  Probably not as of right now, but it is possible he jumps back up into the two, three, four discussion by the end of the year again as he was in the fall.  If they go with one of these wingers, I might drive to Dallas right after the pick, hopefully get there just before the Sabres brass fly’s out on the Saturday afternoon and tell Jason Botterill that he’s fired.  “Did Mr. Pagula say that?”  “Nope, but you’re fired, because you are terrible.”

 

3. Filip Zadina (2-2)  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

Comparison: Nikita Kucherov

Of course it still remains to be seen if the Sens will transfer this pick to the Avs.  Normally you’d say “of course”, but if this team does a full on rebuild now, they might be better off blowing this pick, despite being high, and ensuring that they have a shot at Jack Hughes in 2019 (or someone else because I know it’s real early, but 2019 is looking like a special draft already).  We’ll see where it lands though, obviously they won’t be giving the Avs the top pick should they win it.  As for Zadina, he’s just simply the pick for them.  I believe they’ll take the best of what most have as the big three wingers (only two for me), and to me that’s Zadina.  The kid is ridiculous.

 

4. Noah Dobson (3-5)  Acadie-Bathurst  QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Seth Jones

Things don’t seem to be falling right for the Canucks as they rebuild. Back to back years they fell three spots in the draft, and there hasn’t been an easy/obvious pick for them in either.  Now they’ve done ok.  Horvat wasn’t this regime’s pick but he’s a stud, Boeser has been a home run so far, and I’m a big Pettersson fan.  Virtanen and Juolevi….they might end up wishing they had those picks back, but it still remains to be seen.  Anyway, here, they really don’t need another winger, and there isn’t a centre in this range, and they have shown they aren’t afraid to go need.  So I like them to take Dobson, who I feel has number one potential and a RH shot on top of it.  Might not be everyone’s pick, but I feel would be a great pick for them.

 

5. Andrei Svechnikov (4-9)  Barrie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: L

Comparison: Vladmir Tarasenko

If they did this, I would probably try to justify it and turn myself into a Svechnikov fan, all the while knowing full well that they should have taken Tkachuk or someone else.  Obviously the lure of having a sniper to play with McDavid would be the intrigue here, but also the speed is a major need for the Oilers, and the size (probably 210 once he fills out) would be the added bonus for a guy like Peter Chiarelli.  I would personally go with Tkachuk here if they felt they had to pick, but first and foremost I would look to trade back.  Get more picks for this scouting staff who have actually done the draft right since Chiarelli has taken over (the one thing Chiarelli has done right).  This team should be a playoff team for all it’s mistakes, so the need for a top five pick isn’t really there.  Trade back, give the scouts more bullets, and make sure this system is stocked as they (hopefully) move forward.

 

6. Brady Tkachuk (2-3)  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Keith Tkachuk

This is in no way a need, and very much so a BPA.  And at six, you just can’t pass up the chance to take Tkachuk.  They badly need a centre and they almost as badly need D-men.  Would they possibly have the balls to take home town boy Joe Veleno here?  I probably would, but I don’t think I could with Tkachuk on the board.  And I know, I put massive stock into centres over wingers, but Tkachuk is a tough type of winger to find in today’s game.  He’s going to be an absolute BITCH to play against, even more so than his brother because I believe he’ll not just chirp you and play dirty, he’ll kick your ass too while putting up 30 goals a season.

 

7. Quinn Hughes (5-16)  Michigan  NCAA

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Dan Boyle

This is just oh so simple for the Wings.  They badly need D, and if Hughes is still on the board when they pick, I can’t imagine them passing on a need who would likely be their BPA and plays at Michigan.  Not much else to say.  I don’t like Hughes as much as others, but that’s the direction I believe the Wings would go.

 

8. Evan Bouchard (6-20)  London  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Whitney

I obviously am not too high on Bouchard, but most are.  It’s difficult to say where the Panthers would want to go.  They actually have quite a few young RH shooting D on the roster at the moment, but they definitely could stand to add to the depth on D in the organization, especially since they have taken so many centres and wingers high in the last three drafts.

 

9. Ty Smith (4-8)  Spokane  WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

I really believe that many scouts are going to regret their theory that Smith isn’t “dynamic” enough.  Evan Bouchard isn’t dynamic either, yet because Bouchard is having a better season statistically so it apparently doesn’t matter that he’s not dynamic nor nearly as good of a skater as Smith is…anyway…I think the Hawks would be thrilled to land Smith as they continue to rebuild their blueline.  Started with trading for Connor Murphy and drafting Jokiharju and Mitchell at last year’s draft.  I expect them to continue to do so this year with how much high end talent they have up front.

 

10. Oliver Wahlstrom (5-18)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: R

Comparison: Nick Schmaltz

A lot of different ways the Rangers could go here.  As of writing this they don’t have much in the system.  Obviously they got the two centres last year, so you wouldn’t expect them to go that route again, but they easily could.  Wahlstrom is so highly skilled that I just think it would be too difficult for the Rags to pass up this kind of talent with the 10th pick.  For most, this would be a fall for Wahlstrom as he’s in the 5-10 range and seemingly climbing for a lot of scouting services.

 

11. Barrett Hayton (5-14)  S.S. Marie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 186  Shot: L

Comparison: Bo Horvat

A lot of ways the Isles could go here, and the tricky thing is that this pick is based off what I think they’ll do with Calgary’s pick which they also own (and could be a lottery pick), yet I don’t believe they’ll have both picks post trade deadline.  I have to go with the information I have today and that is the Islanders with both picks.  Hayton is a kid who coaches will adore, really fits the makeup of Doug Weight’s team, and would fit tremendously behind Matt Barzal and hopefully for their sake John Tavares as well.

 

12. Rasmus Kupari (5-15)  Karpat  Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: Matt Duchene

I hate suggesting this, because people see that I have a Fin going to the Blue Jacekts and they believe it’s because the Jackets have a Fin as their GM.  “Without a doubt Puljujarvi is going to be picked by the Blue Jackets”.  Remember that?  I was dead set against that by the way, go back to June of 2016 and read my mocks.  Anyway, this is not about that and everything about the Blue Jackets looking to continue to build up their depth down the middle.  Alex Wennberg pre injury was having a rough year, and while I wouldn’t and they won’t give up on him being that productive two way centre, I think it puts a little more emphasis on the position for the Jackets.  Add to that, Kupari has the skill to be a first line centre someday.  A long ways to go, but the kid is highly skilled.

 

13. Joel Farabee (5-17)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 152  Shot: L

Comparison: David Pastrnak

Bob Murray has done an incredible job at keeping the system stocked.  The one thing you might say the Ducks could use is a little more skill, no matter where you look.  Not to say that they don’t have any, look at Sam Steel for example.  But they could use more of it, so for me either Farabee or Akil Thomas would be a tremendous pick.  Not sure you could go wrong with either, but I have Farabee ranked higher at the moment, so at the moment I’ll put him to the Ducks.

 

14. Akil Thomas (5-19)  Niagara  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Mitch Marner

That’s right, I’m giving them a forward!  Hell, I’m giving them a winger!  No D-man here, even in a tremendous draft for D-men!  And you know what?  I’d like this pick for them if things fell something similar to this.  Joe Sakic has actually done a good job with this team and getting things back on track.  With Samuel Girard already on the team, Cale Makar and Conor Timmins on the way, the Avs look pretty good on D moving forward.  Hell, even Nikita Zadorov looks like he might still develop.  The other thing is that they can turn Tyson Barrie into another young D-man should they move him, and they can always load up more on D in rounds two through seven.  But if you look at the organization, they actually don’t have much depth up front, and really lack high end skill past MacKinnon and Rantanen.  So a kid like Thomas would really be a terrific fit.

 

15. Bode Wilde (4-7)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: R

Comparison: Dougie Hamiltion

Formerly belonged to the Flames, acquired in the trade for Travis Hamonic.  And nobody is talking about this, a lot of hockey to play, but if the Flames pick is a lottery pick combined with what a bust Travis Hamonic has been in Calgary, they’ll actually end up being the team with a worse season than the Oilers.  Don’t get me wrong, the Flames are a much better run organization than the Oilers, but wow.  They’re lucky the Oilers shit show has been THE story, because if they were playing well the Hamonic disaster would be front and centre.  Anyway…Garth Snow has shown he doesn’t really like to take defencmen in the first round.  But should he keep both picks, and this being the second of those picks, you’d have to assume that in a D rich draft that one of them would be used on a D-man, and for me this would be Wilde falling to 15th.  All the tools, and a very intelligent kid.  He’s got everything to become a legitimate number one defenceman.

 

16. Joe Veleno (3-6)  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Brad Richards

I really don’t think Veleno will make it to 16.  He’s coming on right now, playing on a great team in Drummondville, I think he’ll end up back in the top 10.  But having said that, I don’t know where at this point, and oh yeah….I’ve been wrong before!  Even if all he ever becomes is another Marc Savard (which by the way would be awesome!), the Canes badly need that kind of setup man for their forward group because there is a lot of talent up front in Carolina, but they really lack a disher.  Martin Necas was a great pick last year, but more will be needed.  I could see Ron Francis absolutely loving a cerebral kid like Veleno.

 

17. Jesperi Kotkaniemi (5-12)  Assat  Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikko Koivu

I would guess the Pens won’t own this pick by the time it’s made.  They likely won’t own it by March 1st.  But for now they own the pick, and if they do pick this high then I believe they need to look at solving the third line centre spot, at least in the system.  If you have a kid like Kotkaniemi as your third line centre, things look pretty good for your organization moving forward.

 

18. Jared McIsaac (8-28) Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Cody Ceci

I realize they invested three first round picks in a row to improving the D.  But they’ve also invested heavily into centres and wingers in the last two drafts.  Couple that with a kid like Samuel Morin not progressing as they’d hoped, they aren’t as stocked on D as they maybe looked a year or two ago.  So they go back to the Q yet again which this organization loves doing and take McIsaac.  I’m not nearly as high on McIsaac as others are, but he has the raw tools to be a terrific top four D someday.

 

19. Ryan Merkley (NR)  Guelph  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 170  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Murphy

I don’t like him, all because I’m hearing he’s got red flags all over the place.  However, he’s so talented that someone will likely take a big swing on him, and why not Jersey?  They need to add to their blueline even though Ray Shero has done a terrific job addressing it this season having added Mirco Mueller, Will Butcher and Sami Vatanen.

 

20. Serron Noel (4-10)  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 200  Shot: R

Comparison: Blake Wheeler

Clearly I love this kid more than most, and like Joe Veleno I believe he’ll end up going much higher than this.  But for now, I like the idea of him to the Kings.  They love size, and they love the OHL, so it’s a pretty simple fit.  As I wrote about on the top prospects list, any team who land Noel will need to take there freaking time with him.  The Kings without a doubt would do just that, so this really would be a tremendous fit for the kid.

 

21. Dominik Bokk (7-23)  Vaxjo  SuperElite

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Martin Havlat

Doug Wilson seems to really love skill.  I think of some of the kids he’s taken over the years like Tomas Hertl, Nikolay Goldobin, and Timo Meier.  Bokk would be the most talented of that group.  Don’t confuse that with him being the best, but just pure skill.  He’s rapidly moving up draft boards so it won’t be a shock if come draft day Bokk goes nowhere near where the Sharks pick.  But for now, I’d love the fit.

 

22. Isac Lundestrom (5-11)  Lulea  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 178  Shot: L

Comparison: Henrik Zetterberg

With some guys, I make sure that I have them going in the ballpark where most others have them, not where I have them.  But with Lundestrom I sure didn’t mean to have him fall this far, it was just circumstances.  The Wild have invested in centres with their last two first round picks (Eriksson-Ek, Kunin), but Lundestrom is just too good to pass up at this point in my mind.

 

23. Jet Woo (7-24)  Moose Jaw  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 205  Shot: R

Comparison: Travis Hamonic

Formerly belonged to the Blues, acquired in the trade for Brayden Schenn.  Again, I feel like they will look to go heavy on D in this draft with it being such a tremendous year for D-men and seeing they haven’t invested much in defencemen since taking Ivan Provorov with the seventh pick in 2015.  Woo plays a game that really fits the classic Flyers mold too.  He would be a fan favourite in Philly.

 

24. Jacob Olafsson (6-21)  Timra  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Alex Wennberg

You might not think of centre as a big need for the Leafs, but I sure do.  Matthews is great, but you need more.  So you go to Kadri, and he’s real solid, but moving forward wouldn’t you rather him as your third line centre than second?  Even if you’re ok with him as your second line centre, who is the third line centre moving forward if Bozak is going to walk this off-season?  Willie Nylander going to move to centre?  I think they would prefer him on the wing (my opinion anyway).  So I believe they’ll look to take a centre with their pick barring someone falling into their lap.  Olafsson is going to be a very safe pick for someone.  Worst case scenario I believe he’s a high end third line centre, and best case he’s an elite second line centre.

 

25. Grigori Denisenko (7-22)  Yaroslavl  MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 163  Shot: R

Comparison: Alexander Radulov

Jim Nill has actually done a real good job of stockpiling the Stars system while building a very strong team.  And he’s shown that he’s unafraid to take a swing on a Russian kid.  They could use a little more skill on the wings, and obviously this is where Denisenko would come in.  I’m not sure how much Ken Hitchcock would like him, but chances are that Hitch won’t ever be his coach anyway!

 

26. Calen Addison (8-27)  Lethbridge  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

I said it a lot last year but I’ll say it again: a sneaky need for this team is RH shooting D.  Everyone looks at the roster and says they don’t need one because they got Byfuglien, Trouba and Myers.  But the reality is that Byfuglien is on the decline, Trouba is an RFA this summer who may still want out of Winnipeg, and Myers is a UFA after next season.  Tucker Poolman is the only kid they got on the way who is close, but they’d be foolish to put all their eggs in that basket.  But also, this is an organization without many holes.  So before you say “you’re nitpicking dude”, I know.  You have to with the Jets, because they’ve done that good of a job in drafting and developing.

 

27. Jack McBain (5-13)  Toronto  OJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Jason Spezza

A) They really need some centres in the system, at least in my opinion.  I’ve said this for a few years now, and they did take Trent Frederic a couple years ago (ironically, also at 29), but it isn’t enough.  Bergeron is going to be 33 in the fall, Krecji isn’t too far behind him, they to start developing their replacements.  B) after the success of Charlie McAvoy, are they ever going to pass on a BC kid again?  They essentially took McAvoy over Dante Fabbro in 2016 because they passed on Colin White, the home town kid, in 2015.  McBain isn’t a Boston kid (Toronto), but he’s going to BC just like McAvoy who isn’t a Boston kid either (Long Island).  And I don’t think you can ignore the skill set McBain has, not to mention that the Bruins aren’t afraid of players who aren’t the most fleet of foot, though I feel the knock on McBain’s skating is overblown.

 

28. Alexander Alexeeyev (NR)  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 184  Shot: R

Comparison: Damon Severson

They’ve had more success drafting Russian players since the 2005 lockout than anyone.  Obviously Ovechkin is the key to that, but if you are having so much success with drafting out of a certain region or a certain type of player, then why not keep doing it.  They also have taken nine kids out of the WHL since 2012, so they seem to be high on the dub also.  A lot of raw talent with Alexeeyev and he’s putting up some real good numbers on a very weak Red Deer Rebels squad, so there is a lot to like about this kid.  He’s in the top 31 for most.

 

29. Benoit-Olivier Groulx (25)  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Yannic Perreault

He’s a Preds type of player.  Plays gritty, plays 200 feet, has some skill, David Poile hasn’t been shy about upgrading things down the middle, he’d be a good guy to step in for Nick Bonino once his contract expires (still has three years left which would leave lots of development time for Groulx).  Again, obviously we are so far away from the draft, so many things are going to change, but I do love the idea of the Preds taking a two way centre like this.

 

30. Martin Kaut (NR)  Pardubice  CZECH EX

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparsion: Alexander Frolov

Allow me to guarantee that the Vegas Golden Knights draft pick will not be 30th in this draft.  Actually, I’ll guarantee it’s going to be 27th or lower.  It is a tremendous story, and impossible not to at least somewhat like this team and what’s going on down there.  But they aren’t going anywhere in the playoffs when teams go to another level.  A million different ways the Golden Knights could go here so I’m not even going to BS anyone here, this is just a shot in the dark saying Kaut would be the pick.  But it does give me a chance to talk a little about a kid who I didn’t have ranked.  He’s got a ton of skill and had a real good WJC tourney that got him back into first round discussion.  The motor is questionable though.

 

31. Rasmus Sandin (9-32)  Rogle  SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Dimtry Orlov

Sandin feels like a kid Steve Yzerman and Al Murray would love.  Highly skilled, pure puck moving D-men.  They could stand to stockpile the D a little more, though truth be told they’re loaded and we’ll have a better feel post trade deadline what might be their needs and whether or not they’ll still have this pick (I would guess not, teams would rather deal a pick then a prospect they’ve put development time into).  But if they own this pick, and Sandin is still on the board, you’d have to think they’d look at him.

 

 

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NHL Picks – Feb. 3rd, 2018

I’m not sure why I do these anymore, and I’m sure when I go 1-4 or 0-5 again tonight, my buddy Chris will pile on….who doesn’t love the guy who piles on….I’m just kidding Roberts you’re a beauty, but seriously if you pile on again I’m flying down there and only one of us is living to talk about it.  Too far?  Seriously though, new approach this week.  I’m going to give you games that I’d normally pick, and games that I’m actually suggesting to bet, and I’m guessing my picks go 1-4 and the picks that shouldn’t win go 4-1.

 

What I would bet:

Columbus at NY Islanders

Blue Jackets +110

Both teams have been struggling the last month or so, but while the Jackets have been struggling, the Islanders have completely imploded.  Columbus at +110 is just too good of value to pass up.

 

What you should bet:

Toronto at Boston

Bruins -1.5 (+215)

The Bruins have been beaten by the Leafs a lot over the last two seasons, because they can’t keep up with them.  So naturally they’ll win this one going away….

 

What I would bet:

Colorado at Winnipeg

Jets -1.5 (+150)

The Avs don’t have Nathan McKinnon and they’re playing the best home team in the league, so it’s very simple.  Without a doubt the Jets -1.5 is a terrific bet to make.

 

What you should bet:

Detroit at Florida

Under 5.5 (-110)

I hate the goaltending for both of these teams, this one should be a shootout, which is why of course it’ll be a defensive struggle….

 

What I would bet:

Pittsburgh at New Jersey

Penguins -1.5 (+210)

The Pens are getting RED HOT.  I know they just played the Caps last night, but the back to backs in the East aren’t nearly as tough as the ones in the West, and while the Pens are getting back to normal, the Devils have been putting points in the bank, but not winning much of late.  So the Pens at -1.5 with those odds is a good bet to take.

 

What you should bet:

NY Rangers at Nashville

Rangers +180

The Preds are maybe the best team in the league, at least at the moment with Forsberg back healthy and Hedman out for Tampa, and the Rangers have been really struggling and appear as though they’ll fall out of it soon.  Obviously the Rangers win…

 

What I would bet:

St. Louis at Buffalo

Blues -1.5 (+170)

This one is easy.  The Sabres are one of the worst teams in the league, so just sit back and take anyone who plays them -1.5, especially paying out this kind of money.  Easy pick here to take the Blues, duh.

 

What you should bet:

Chicago at Calgary

Flames -1.5 (+190)

The Flames have lost five straight, have blown leads in I believe all of those games, and in the last two in particular they’ve imploded.  So naturally they come out tonight with a terrific game against a desperate Blackhawks squad and win by two or more…

 

What I would bet:

Tampa Bay at Vancouver

Under 5.5 (-110)

When the Canucks are on, they play an air tight, low scoring hockey game.  2-1, 3-2 type games.  Combine that with it being Vasilevsky vs Markstrom, and it should go under.

 

What you should bet:

Tampa Bay at Vancouver

Over 5.5 (-110)

I just laid out why it should go under, so at -110 those are great odds.  Meaning go with the over, which I in no way expect to happen tonight.

 

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