A WAY Too Early Playoff Projection – 2017-2018

To be honest, I’m just bored waiting for hockey season to finally start again. What better way to pass the time than making longshot projections. There should be a few changes to who makes the playoffs this upcoming season, let’s see how close I can get to what really happens this season.

Eastern Conference

Let’s start with how I see the Eastern Conference playing out. Here’s who I have making it, in no particular order, and a quick hit on why:

Returning Teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins – The defending Champs are a lock to be near the top of the standings again. There are some people predicting a three-peat, which I think is a bit of a stretch, but they should be in contention at the very least.

Montreal Canadiens – Carey Price will have his work cut-out for him again this year, as the blueline takes a big hit in my opinion. They added some much needed scoring with Drouin, but still didn’t fix for me to consider them a contender for the Cup at this point. They should still make the postseason, but likely another early exit.

Washington Capitals – The Caps are poised to take a step-back this year, but not far enough to drop them out of the playoffs. Ovechkin is still a goal scoring force, but has slowed in recent years. Can Kuznetsov take that next step? Is Oshie really as good as he was last year? They also lost both Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt this offseason on the backend, but with Braden Holtby arguably the best goalie in the past two seasons, they should be fine.

Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs took a major step forward, with big seasons from their rookies, and great seasons from their veterans. They upgraded on forward this year adding Patrick Marleau, and you can definitely put Ron Hainsey as an upgrade over both Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak. They added some size to the backend in Hainsey, something they lacked big time this past season. They should compete for a top spot in the East this year.

Columbus Blue Jackets – The Jackets had a better year than most expected, and they’ll likely take a step-back this year. They traded Brandon Saad and brought in Artemi Panarin, which is an upgrade in scoring for them. They’re still a young team, but should find a way to make the playoffs.

Boston Bruins – The Bruins, in my opinion, are a bubble team. Their defense corps is weaker than it’s been in years, and while they still have Rask to man the crease, and the likes of Marchand and Bergeron up front, they’ll be in a battle all year to make the playoffs.

Teams Jumping In:

Tampa Bay Lightning – No one would have predicted Tampa to miss the playoffs last year, but with the amount of injuries they suffered, it wasn’t a surprise. The two question marks going into this season for Tampa are the health of Stamkos, and is Vasilevksiy truly a number 1 netminder. They’re built deeper than almost any other team in the East, and should find their way back into the playoffs this year.

Carolina Hurricanes – The Hurricanes are built deeper on the blueline than maybe every other team, save maybe Nashville. They have a good group of young forwards, and should continue to improve next year. The biggest question for Carolina is goaltending, and while the acquisition of Scott Darling helps, is it enough? Time will tell.

Falling Out:

Ottawa Senators – For Sens fans, they’ll argue “We were one game away from the Cup finals last year!”, but that was a big over-achievement for the Sens. They lost Methot on the backend, and while rookie Thomas Chabot should see a lot of ice time, they don’t have a deep enough group on the backend to push their way back into the playoffs. Up front, they lack goal scoring more than most teams going into next season. They’ll be on the bubble, but likely on the outside looking in.

New York Rangers – I picked the Rangers to fall out of the playoffs last year, and they ended up winning their first round matchup against Montreal. Signing Shattenkirk will help, but losing Stepan down the middle will also hurt. I think it’s about time King Hank starts to show decline, and if that does happen, the Rangers are screwed.

Western Conference

Not as much movement in the West, a lot of teams remain strong, while some didn’t do enough to change their fortunes. Here’s who I have making it, in no particular order:

Retuning Teams:

Chicago Blackhawks – The Hawks are a perennial powerhouse, and should continue to make the playoffs. Losing Hjalmarsson will hurt them defensively, and they’re likely to drop down the standings a bit. They added good depth scoring in Patrick Sharp, while shipping out Kane’s bestfriend and linemate Panarin to bring Brandon Saad back in. Losing Hossa for the season will hurt them as well, but not enough to make them fall out of the playoffs.

Nashville Predators – Last year’s runner-ups are almost as sure of a pick as any team at this point, stacked with the best blueline in the NHL. Adding Scott Hartnell and Nick Bonino up front helps improve their depth scoring as well. Nashville will continue to be one of the better rounded teams in the NHL today.

Minnesota Wild – The Wild had a big season from Eric Staal and Mikael Grandlund, as well as another good season from Devan Dubnyk. They added Marcus Foligno, which improves their bottom 6 forward group, and should have a full season from Eriksson-Ek, which is a big bonus. The Wild should be a lock to make it again next year.

San Jose Sharks – The Sharks were a toss-up for me this year. They lost Marleau and his 27 goals, which I think impacts them more than they think it will. How much does Jumbo have left in the tank? Can he still be the number 1 centre they need? We shall see, but they’re a team I’d keep an eye on early in the season.

St. Louis Blues – The Blues made some good additions this offseason, adding Brayden Schenn into their top six, as well as Beau Bennett as a good depth addition. Jake Allen proved he can be the goalie they need, and their blueline didn’t look any less formidable after removing Shattenkirk at the deadline. The Blues have a good shot at coming out of the West.

Edmonton Oilers – McDavid will continue to carry this team forward, backed-up by the likes of Leon Draisaitl and Cam Talbot. This team still is not deep enough to make a serious run, and their blueline isn’t built like a champion by any means. If McDavid happens to get injured for a long period of time, I can’t see this team making the playoffs.

Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks have a great blueline, and still have a decent forward corps. The question mark for them resides in goal, as Gibson has never been able to stay healthy. They brought in Ryan Miller, but he’s nothing more than a backup at this point in his career. They should still be able to push their way in, but it will be a battle.

 Teams Jumping In:

Dallas Stars – Losing Patrick Sharp doesn’t help Dallas, but adding in Martin Hanzal, Marc Methot, Alexander Radulov and most of all Ben Bishop pushed them further up the standings than anyone else going into next season. Their top-9 forward group is great, and adding in Methot gives them more stability on the backend as well. Look for the Stars to be one of the better teams this year in the West.

 Falling Out:

Calgary Flames – Mike Smith is hardly an upgrade in goal, which was a big issue for the Flames for most of last year. They’re still not good enough up front to be considered a lock for the playoffs, but they did upgrade their backend with Travis Hamonic. Adding someone like Jaromir Jagr would help their biggest need, so if they can add some additional scoring, they could make the push.

 

There are a few bubble teams in each Conference that could push their way into the playoff picture and should be in the fight to the bitter end. In the East I could see Buffalo, both New York teams, and even Philadelphia making a push. In the West, there are less teams I can see genuinely making an impact. Winnipeg could improve enough to stay in the hunt all year, but past them, other than Calgary I don’t see any other team with a legitimate shot at making a big enough impact.

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NHL: Worst Trades of the Salary Cap Era

Worst Trades of the Salary Cap Era

The Salary Cap Era began with the 2005-06 season, and so much attention lately has been on some awful trades being made, particularly highlighted by the Oilers and Chiarelli in particular. There have been a lot of trades that have worked out well for both teams and some that have been very one-sided. I’ve been seeing a lot of people talking about certain trades on Twitter the last little bit, which made me want to dive into a lot of them and see exactly how they’ve worked out for both teams. I’m excluding any trades that were simply picks for picks, too many of those to sort through. These are not ranked in any specific order of which one is worse, but here we go. I found a great site listing all of the trades I’m talking about here http://www.nhltradetracker.com/user/trade_list_by_season, check it out:

June 24th, 2006 – Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins

Toronto Acquires – Andrew Raycroft – GM was John Ferguson Jr.

Boston Acquires – Rights to Tuukka Rask – GM was Peter Chiarelli

Raycroft won the Calder trophy is his first full year in the NHL in 2003-2004, with 29 wins in 57 games played. He followed that up with a lackluster 8 wins in 30 games played, which for some ridiculous reason tempted Toronto to trade for Raycroft. They had 2 goalie prospects in Justin Pogge and Tukka Rask, and clearly the Leafs valued Pogge more, keeping him and shipping out Rask. Since the trade, Raycroft played 173 games, winning only 70 of them. Pogge played in a total of 7 NHL games, winning 1 game! Rask, on the other hand, has played 395 NHL games, won a Stanley Cup in 2011, and a Vezina Trophy as the top-goaltender in 2014. This could easily be one of the more lopsided trades in Leafs history. This is one of the rare instances where Peter Chiarelli has come out on top in a trade.

Winner: Bruins fans are probably still laughing at this one, while Leafs fans are likely still crying.

Feb 25th, 2007 – Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks

Montreal Acquires – Josh Gorges & 1st round pick in 2007 (Max Pacioretty) – GM was Bob Gainey

San Jose Acquires – Craig Rivet & 5th round pick in 2008 (Julien Demers) – GM was Doug Wilson

Rivet was a much more established defender at that time, but only went on to play 91 games for the Sharks in just over 1 season. The Sharks didn’t make it past the 3rd round of the playoffs that year when they made this trade, but Rivet played well for them. The flip side however is what Montreal acquired from this trade. Gorges played a whopping 457 NHL games for the Canadiens, before they then traded him to Buffalo for a 2nd round pick. The pick San Jose gave to Montreal turned into Max Pacioretty… who’s currently the captain of the team, and has 411 points in 562 games since being drafted. He’s scored over 200 goals, and been the Canadiens go-to player for offensive since 2011. This trade is looking worse and worse as the days go on.

Winner: Montreal, by a mile

June 18th, 2007 – Philadelphia Flyers & Nashville Predators

Philadelphia Acquires – Scott Hartnell & Kimmo Timonen – GM was Paul Holmgren

Nashville Acquires – 2007 1st Round pick (Jonathan Blum) – GM was David Poile

Hartnell is your ideal power-forward – big body, hits & fights, and can score. After coming off of back-to-back 20+ goal seasons, Nashville decided it was time to ship him out of town. To make matters worse, Nashville also added in Kimmo Timonen, who at the time was a top-pairing d-man in his own right. Timonen would go on to play in 8 more NHL season, before injuries derailed his career. Either one of this players would be better than what Nashville ended up with, as the pick turned into Jonathon Blum, who played in a measly 110 NHL games.

Winner: Flyers come out on top in this one

August 11th, 2007 – Phoenix Coyotes & Chicago Blackhawks

Phoenix Acquires – Radim Vrbata – GM was Don Maloney

Chicago Acquires – Kevyn Adams – GM was Dale Tallon

Adams played his final year in the NHL with the Blackhawks after this trade, scoring 2 points in 27 games. On the other side of the trade, Vrbata has played 10 more seasons, scoring 204 goals and 439 points. Vrbata is one of the rare consistent goal scoring wingers in today’s game, who has averaged 24 goals/82 games played since this trade, while Adams had a whopping 8 points in the year prior to be traded. It’s hard to imagine that Tallon couldn’t have gotten more for Vrbata.

Winner: Phoenix wins this one, easily.

June 24th, 2008 – Boston Bruins & Colorado Avalanche

Boston Acquires – Johnny Boychuk – GM was Peter Chiarelli

Colorado Acquires – Matt Hendricks – GM was Francois Giguere

This was back when Chiarelli appeared to know what he was doing, as he traded career-4th-liner Matt Hendricks for Johnny Boychuk, who played in the top-4 for Boston for 5 seasons. Hendricks has never been more than a 4th line player in his career, and has actually been outscored by Boychuk throughout his career.

Winner: Rare Chiarelli win for Boston

June 30th, 2009 – Montreal Canadiens & New York Rangers

Montreal Acquires – Tom Pyatt, Scott Gomez, Michael Busto – GM was Bob Gainey

Rangers Acquire – Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko, Doug Janik, Chris Higgins

It’s hard to imagine what Bob Gainey was thinking when you look back on this trade, as yes Gomez was coming off a 58 point campaign, but that was for a much better New York Ranger team. To say he struggled in Montreal would be a vast understatement, as after one good season, he fell off a cliff in terms of production, never scoring more than 7 goals in a season for the remainder of his career. Meanwhile, Busto never played an NHL game and Pyatt is nothing more than a bottom-6 depth forward. For New York, they received future captain and top defender Ryan McDonagh. Janik and Valentenko did not pan out as hoped, but Higgins played in 711 NHL games after being traded, and was more productive than Gomez alone. This could be one of the worst trades in this article.

Winner: There once was a website tracking how long it had been since Gomez scored a goal, which eclipsed a year. So yeah, New York is the clear-cut winner here.

July 21st, 2009 – Arizona Coyotes & Tampa Bay Lightning

Arizona Acquires – Radim Vrbata – GM was Don Maloney

Tampa Bay Acquires – Todd Fedoruk & David Hale – GM was Brian Lawton

Another trade for Vrbata heading to Arizona/Phoenix that is a solid win for that organization. I’ve already spoken about his scoring prowess over his career, and he definitely is much better that the combined two players he was traded for. Fedoruk played one last season after being traded, scoring 6 points in 50 games. Hale played in two more NHL season, only totaling 64 games over those two years, and 9 points.

Winner: Vrbata again the best part of a trade to Arizona.

June 25th, 2010 – St. Louis Blues & Ottawa Senators

St. Louis Acquires – 2010 1st rounder (16th overall – Vladimir Tarasenko)

Ottawa Acquires – David Rundblad – GM was Bryan Murray

Ottawa decided they wanted to go after a young, recently drafted player in Rundblad, after he had 13 points in 47 games in the SEL. Rundblad did not develop into an everyday NHL player, topping out at a career-high 49 NHL games in 2014-2015. The pick the Sens gave up turned into one of the most feared goal-scorers in today’s game – Vladimir Tarasenko. One goal shy of back-to-back 40 goal seasons, Tarasenko has scored 70+ points in 3 straight seasons, and looks like he has no plan to stop. At only 25 years old, Tarasenko will be a dominant force in the NHL for years to come.

Winner: Tarasenko is arguably the second-best scoring winger in today’s NHL. Sorry Sens fans.

February 9th, 2011 – Toronto Maple Leafs & Anaheim Ducks

Toronto Acquires – Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, conditional 4th rounder – GM was Brian Burke

Anaheim Acquires – Francois Beauchemin – GM was Bob Murray

Beauchemin was a good defender for Anaheim, as he played in the better part of 4 seasons for Colorado, scoring 20 points 3 times. Lupul had two good seasons for the Leafs after being traded, but has since succumbed to injuries. The kicker in my opinion is giving up Jake Gardiner, as he has developed into a great puck-moving defenseman. He played more than any other defender for the Leafs in their playoff appearance this year, and looked great while doing so. Anaheim was a team trying to win now, and didn’t want to wait on Lupul and Gardiner, but looking back they should have been able to get more had they waited on Gardiner just a little while longer.

Winner: Leafs, as Murray was trying to win a Cup when bringing in Beauchemin, but he gave up a little too much to do so.

February 18th, 2011 – Boston Bruins & Atlanta Thrashers

Boston Acquires – Rich Peverley, Boris Valabik – GM was Peter Chiarelli

Atlanta Acquires – Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler – GM was Kevin Cheveldayoff

Blake Wheeler has developed into one of the best wingers in the game today, and one is usually highly under-appreciated by most. He’s hit 60+ points in 4 straight seasons, including 2 at over 70 points. He’s a big-man, and uses that size to dominate possession for the now Winnipeg Jets. Stuart has been a serviceable d-man since the trade, playing parts of 7 straight seasons for Winnipeg. On the other side of the trade, Peverley had his career cut short due to a scary incident in 2014 in which he collapsed on the bench, while Valabik never played another NHL game. Even if it weren’t for the incident with Peverley, this trade would be incredibly lopsided. Wheeler is a top-10 winger in today’s NHL, and the captain of the Jets alone.

Winner: The beginning of the end for Chiarelli in Boston, as this is a brutal trade.

February 21st, 2011 – Pittsburgh Penguins & Dallas Stars

Pittsburgh Acquires – James Neal, Matt Niskanen – GM was Ray Shero

Dallas Acquires – Alex Goligoski – GM was Joe Nieuwendyk

After scoring at least 20 goals in his first 3 NHL season with Dallas, Nieuwendyk decided it was time to trade him to the Stanley Cup hopeful Penguins. He went on to score 40 goals in his first full season there, and has hit at least 20 in every season since. The other piece sent out by the Stars was Matt Niskanen, who has developed into a top-pairing defender. He himself has surpassed Goligoski in terms of value, who is actually older than Niskanen, which makes this trade even more bizarre. Goligoski is by no means a bad defenseman, he’s just not worth either of Neal or Niskanen in terms of trade value, let alone BOTH.

Winner:  Shero gets the best of Nieuwendyk and the Stars

June 23rd, 2012 – Toronto Maple Leafs & Philadelphia Flyers

Toronto Acquires – James Van Riemsdyk – GM was Brian Burke

Philadelphia Acquires – Luke Schenn – GM was Paul Holmgren

What on earth was Holmgren thinking?! Luke Schenn was rushed into the NHL, likely hurting his development, but he was NEVER an offensive d-man. He was drafted too high back in 2008, but the fact that Brian Burke was able to trade him straight-up for James Van Riemsdyk is mind-boggling. JVR is hands-down the better player in this trade, and it’s not even close. Schenn was barely a 3rd pairing player in Arizona this year, one of the worst teams in the league, meanwhile JVR is a key piece of a strong, young Toronto team.

Winner: Brian Burke pulls of magic for the Leafs.

April 3rd, 2013 – Tampa Bay Lightning & Ottawa Senators

Tampa Bay Acquires – Ben Bishop – GM was Steve Yzerman

Ottawa Acquires – Cory Conacher – GM was Bryan Murray

Conacher scored 24 points in 35 NHL games in his rookie year, prompting Bryan Murray to jump ALLLLL over him, trading out one of the best goalies in today’s NHL in a one-for-one deal. Since the trade, Conacher has fallen all the way to the AHL, over to Switzerland, and back to the AHL before suiting up in 11 NHL games this year, for the team that traded him back in 2013. Bishop, since being traded, has won 133 NHL games, with 17 shutouts. Ottawa had Craig Anderson in the fold at the time, but should have gotten much more for a goalie like Ben Bishop.

Winner: Another loss for Bryan Murray and the Sens.

April 3rd, 2013 – Washington Capitals & Nashville Predators

Washington Acquires – Michael Latta, Martin Erat – GM was George McPhee

Nashville Acquires – Filip Forsberg – GM was David Poile

This, in my opinion, could be one of the worst trades in recent history. Erat was sitting at 21 points in 36 games when he was traded for, and managed al of 2 goals, 25 points in 62 games for Washington in his 1.5 seasons there. Latta is now playing in the AHL, after putting up even smaller numbers for the Capitals. Forsberg has since developed into an elite winger for the Predators. Trading an 11th overall pick for two players who lack offense is always a risky move, but this turned out to be far worse than expected.

Winner: Poile is likely still laughing at this one, as are Preds fans.

July 4th, 2013 – Boston Bruins & Dallas Stars

Boston Acquires – Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser – GM was Peter Chiarelli

Dallas Acquires – Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Ryan Button – GM was Jim Nill

Chiarelli has had some bad trades on his resume, but this one is the worst for me. In the 4 seasons since being traded, Seguin has scored 306 points. He’s one of the best young centres in today’s NHL, and doesn’t look like he’ll slow down anytime soon. Smith played well in his two years in Boston, but was shipped out for Jimmy Hayes, who was disappointing for Boston. Eriksson had 1 good year for Boston, but still never hit the numbers Seguin did, before they lost him to free agency. Morrow hasn’t established himself as an NHL d-man, playing 65 games stretched over 3 seasons, and has since signed in Montreal. Fraser was waived after playing 28 games for Boston. All of this means, Boston traded away a true number 1 centremen, at the age of 21, and have nothing left to show for it.

Winner: Seguin is a core building block for Dallas, an exciting young team. Boston has nothing to show for it. Tough call…

July 8th, 2013 – Ottawa Senators & Anaheim Ducks

Ottawa Acquires – Bobby Ryan – GM was Bryan Murray

Anaheim Acquires – Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, 2014 1st round pick (Nick Ritchie) – GM was Bob Murray

Bob Murray continues his streak of bad trades. Not only is this trade awful for Ottawa, but Murray then signed Ryan to a massive 7 year extension, with an AAV of $7.25 million. He managed “OK” in this first few seasons in Ottawa, in-and-around the 50 point mark, but Silfverberg himself has already established that kind of production, not to mention the remaining pieces they received in Noesen (now in New Jersey), and Ritchie (more points than Ryan this year).

Winner: Ottawa loses another.

July 1st, 2014 – Ottawa Senators & Dallas Stars

Ottawa Acquires – Alex Chiasson, Alexander Guptill, Nicholas Paul, 2015 2nd rounder – GM was Bryan Murray

Dallas Acquires – Jason Spezza, Ludwig Karlsson – GM was Jim Nill

It must seem like I’m picking on the Sens here, but I swear I’m not. Everyone thought the Sens would trade Spezza in this offseason, but the Sens got basically NOTHING for him. Chiasson was a dud, with 30 points totaled over 2 seasons. Guptill has yet to play an NHL game, and Paul has played all of 25 games. The pick was traded to the Devils in an exchange of picks, with no promising prospects coming from them. Spezza has continued to thrive in Dallas, scoring 30 goals in his second year there, while hitting 60+ points twice, and 50 in the other.

Winner: Surprise, surprise – Ottawa loses another trade.

January 14th, 2015 – Minnesota Wild & Arizona Coyotes

Minnesota Acquires – Devan Dubnyk – GM was Chuck Fletcher

Arizona Acquires – 2015 3rd rounder – GM was Don Maloney

I questioned putting this one in, because Dubnyk was struggling at this point in his career. He was coming off a season in which he only played 19 games, with a 9-5-2 record. After the trade however, he put up a record of 27-9-2, with a SV% of 0.936 and a GAA of 1.78. Those are remarkable numbers. He’s become one of the best goalies playing in today’s NHL, and the fact that the Wild were able to get him for a 3rd round pick is phenomenal.

Winner: The Wild win this one

June 26th, 2015 – Edmonton Oilers & New York Islanders

Edmonton Acquires – Griffin Reinhart – GM was Peter Chiarelli

New York Acquires – 2015 1st rounder (Matt Barzal), 2015 2nd rounder (Mitchell Stephens) – GM was Garth Snow

Yes, the Oilers desperately needed NHL defensemen at this point in time. The problem is, they gave up 2 great draft picks for an AHL defenseman. Griffin Reinhart was widely viewed as a bust, after failing to live up to his 4th overall selection in 2012. Whatever prompted Chiarelli to trade a 16th overall pick, plus a 2nd rounder, in what was a deep draft for Reinhart will never make sense to me. The two players who were taken with this picks are likely going to have much better NHL careers than Reinhart. To make this trade look even worse, Reinhart played a total of 37 games for Edmonton and was then claimed by Vegas in the expansion draft.

Winner: The Oilers are still looking for defenders…

June 26th, 2015 – Colorado Avalanche & Buffalo Sabres

Colorado Acquires – Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, 2015 2nd rounder – GM was Joe Sakic

Buffalo Acquires – Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn – GM was Tim Murray

O’Reilly has been a leader on Buffalo since being acquired, and been consistently near the top of their leader board for points. McGinn had a good year for Buffalo in 2015-2016, before being traded for a 3rd round pick. Coloardo has wound up with much less in this trade, with Grigorenko scoring less than 30 points in his two seasons, and has departed for the KHL now. Compher made his NHL debut this year but struggled, while they traded away the 2nd round pick. The lone bright spot is Zadorov, and the jury is still out on him, if he truly is a top-4 defender or not. This is one Sakic would like to take back, and likely while he’s being cautious with trying to trade Duchene.

Winner: Buffalo wins this one

July 18th, 2016 – Ottawa Senators & New York Rangers

Ottawa Acquires – Derick Brassard, 2018 7th rounder – GM was Pierre Doiron

New York Acquires – Mika Zibanejad, 2018 2nd rounder – GM was Jeff Gorton

LOL Hi Sens fans! The picks have yet to be made, but let’s look at the two players’ 2016-2017 seasons. Brassard had 14 goals, 39 points in 81 games. Zibanejad had 14 goals, 37 points in 56 games. The fact that the Rangers got the better player, and upgraded a 7th rounder into a 2nd round pick is just hilarious. No clue what Ottawa was doing here, as the two had basically identically points in the previous season. Brassard is 6 years older as well, so not like they upgraded for youth.

Winner: Looks like Doiron really did learn everything he knows from Bryan Murray. Good trade by the Rangers.

July 27th, 2016 – Edmonton Oilers & New Jersey Devils

Edmonton Acquires – Adam Larsson – GM was Peter Chiarelli

New Jersey Acquires – Taylor Hall – GM was Ray Shero

Ohhhhh Chiarelli. How is this man in charge of an NHL team!! Yes, Larsson is an upgrade to what they had on defense, but you gave up Taylor Hall! For Larsson! 1 for 1!! Oilers fans could be the worst in the league, as they have been defending this trade since it happened. How you can possibly do that is beyond me. Hall is one of the best wingers in the NHL, while Larsson isn’t a true number 1 defender. This is bad, really bad.

Winner: Not even close, Devils win by a mile.

June 22nd, 2017 – Edmonton Oilers & New York Islanders

Edmonton Acquires – Ryan Strome – GM was Peter Chiarelli

New York Acquires – Jordan Eberle – GM was Garth Snow.

It might be a little early to have this one in here, but here’s another instance where Chiarelli did not get full value for the player he was trading away. You can’t keep trading away players and not getting full value back and expect it to all work out, even if your team has McDavid. Sure Eberle struggled in the playoffs this year, but he still scored 20 goals in the regular season, which was actually his lowest total since 2012-2013. Strome’s career best is 17, and then he followed that up with 8 the following season. The kicker here is that Edmonton was making this trade to free up cap space, or so they say. What did they do with this cap space? They signed Kris Russell to 4 years at $4 million per…

Winner: Edmonton will continue to hope McDavid saves them from all of these disastrous trades.

 

2017 NHL Playoffs Predictions – Round 1

Cup 2017

Let’s take a stab at predicting round 1 of the 2017 NHL Playoffs

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington Capitals vs (WC2) Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto snuck into the playoffs in the second last game of the season and are set to take on Goliath. Can they play the role of David? I don’t think so. Washington is battle tested and hungry. Many have picked them to win the Cup in the past few seasons and they always seem to falter on the big stage. Will this be their year? They have possible the strongest team they’ve had yet. They will be too much to handle for the Leafs d-core, which is the weakest of all 16 playoff teams. I believe Toronto will steal at least one game, especially if they have a healthy Frederik Andersen. Auston Matthews and co will do their best to play the role of spoilers, and stranger things have happened. If Andersen gets hot, Toronto has a powerful offense, which has made up for their weak d-core most of the season.

Series Result: Capitals in 5 games

(2) Ottawa Senators vs (3) Boston Bruins

Boston comes into the playoffs playing extremely good hockey. Ottawa limps into the playoffs. Is that enough to decide the series? No, but Ottawa will be in serious trouble with the red-hot Bruins. The big/mean Bruins will be handful for the Senators, who have been dealing with multiple injuries on their backend over the past couple of weeks. The big matchup to watch will be Patrice Bergeron and Erik Karlsson. Only 3 other defensemen log more minutes than Karlsson, and surely Bergeron can’t play upwards of 26 minutes each game. If Karlsson is healthy, he could be the deciding factor in this series. I still think the Bruins will be too much for Ottawa to handle.

Series Result:  Bruins in 6 games

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (WC1) New York Rangers

This was a tough one for me to pick ending so early, as the Rangers have been a powerhouse on the road this year. That being said, Montreal has been the better team all year. Carey Price has been playing well, and looks to carry the team again. Radulov has provided some extra offense for the Habs, and even with the Rangers high-powered offense they have to be considered heavy favourites. King Hank has been struggling lately to say the least. In his 6 starts since coming back from injury, he’s gone 1-3-2 with a combined SV% of just 0.886. They’ll need Lundqvist to be a lot better than that if they hope to win this series.

Series Result: Canadiens in 6

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (3) Columbus Blue Jackets

There aren’t many players who get under Sidney Crosby’s skin more than Brandon Dubinsky, and you better believe he’ll be a thorn in Crosby’s side all series. The Jackets surprised everyone this season, they were a bubble team for a lot of people, and ended up 4th in the entire league in points. They draw the unfortunate luck of playing the defending champs in the first round. Crosby looks to have taken his game to another level this year, which looks like disaster for Columbus. I feel their luck will run out early in the first round.

Series Result: Penguins in 5

Western Conference

(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (WC2) Nashville Predators

A lot of people are picking the Hawks to win the Cup, or at the very least come out of the West. They draw a tough matchup in the Nashville Predators in round 1. This is one series that could change the entire results of the playoffs. Chicago has that winning pedigree, and stars like Kane and Toews who live for these big game moments. Nashville doesn’t have nearly the star power up front, but they sure do on D. PK Subban, Roman Josi , and company will look to shut down the Hawks top 2 lines, and hope to get continued goal scoring from Filip Forsberg. Can they upset Chicago? Absolutely.

Series Result: Predators in 7

(2) Minnesota Wild vs (3) St. Louis Blues

I’ve picked the Blues in each of the past 2 seasons to win the Cup, and have come up empty. I truly believe this team has what it takes to make a run. They have a tough test in the first round in the Minnesota Wild. Many view the Wild as a defensive team, however only the Penguins scored more goals than the Wild in the regular season. Couple that with the likes of Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and friends on D, and Devan Dubnyk in net? This is a Stanley Cup team if there is one. They are built with both veterans and youngsters. They are built deep. The Blues have a great team themselves, led by one of the best pure goal scorers in Vladimir Tarasenko, and they will give the Wild a tough fight – I just don’t think it will be enough.

Series Result: Wild in 7

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs (WC1) Calgary Flames

Another interesting matchup, with the younger Flames taking on the seasoned Ducks. Both have great goaltending, which neither can really take the advantage from. The Flames have struggled at times this year, while Anaheim has remained consistent, despite injuries to John Gibson. They’re battle-tested in the playoffs, whereas the majority of the Flames core are not as experienced. They matchup well in terms of offense, but the Ducks have one of the deepest d-cores in the league today. They will have their hands full with Johnny Hockey, but I like their chances of shutting down the Flames big line.

Series Result:  Ducks in 6

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) San Jose Sharks

Connor McDavid is arguably the best (second in my opinion) player in the world today. That being said, he hasn’t yet experienced playoff hockey at this level. His first matchup will likely be dealing with the brute that is Brent Burns. He’ll have his moments, but Burns has shut-down the best of them. He is a beast, and will impose his will as he pleases. The Sharks are hungry to avenge their Stanley Cup loss last season, and the team is too experienced to get bounced in round 1. The Oilers have some toughness of their own in Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon to name a couple, but they aren’t deep enough to fully challenge the Sharks. This will be a good experience for the young Oilers, but the Sharks are the favourite here in my eyes.

Series Result: Sharks in 6 games