Friday, February 26, 2016

My Flyers Trade Deadline Wish List Part 2

If you missed part one of my wish list, here's a link. I can break it down for you pretty simply:

  • I think we should keep Sam Gagner
  • I think we should keep Radko Gudas
  • I think we should trade Evgeny Medvedev, and he should net at least a second round pick
  • If we can take on an expiring contract in the Medvedev trade to create some cap room for the other team, that would be worth it if we can get more picks or prospects
Did I miss any big names that are in the Flyers' pool of players that might be shipped out this weekend? 

Is there anybody that you guys can think of?
Oh yeah, it's our veteran puck-moving defenseman that we've been talking about trading for like a full calendar year at this point.

I wanted to break Streit out into his own post, because it's a lot more complicated than just comparing his measurables to other defensemen that were recently traded. Because all of them - Harrison, Larsen, Weber, and Polak - have contracts that expire this summer.

Streit, as we know, is due $4 million cash next year on a $5.25 million cap hit.

That complicates things, and it probably craters Streit's return for Ron Hextall. But, as they tend to do this time of year, teams are calling to inquire about the offensively-gifted blueliner.
So if the plan is to try to dump Streit's money from the books next year, Hexy should be able to make moves. But there are a lot of questions surrounding the deal, so let's go a little more in depth:

Should We Just Keep Him Around?

There's something to be said for a steady veteran presence in the locker room, especially when the blue line may include rookies Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Sam Morin next year. Look at Edmonton - you can't just have a bunch of young talents in a room and expect them to succeed.

Because the Flyers' cap issues will be somewhat alleviated next year, it might be worth the $5 million to keep Alternate Captain Streit around to help mold the youngsters.

Why The Fuck Would We Keep Him Around??

I can, however, see the case against keeping Streit. He's old, he's noticeably slower, and we're going to be stuck with a huge cap hit next year for an old, slow defenseman as he limps to retirement. He's also going to take a roster spot from one of our five blueline prospects.

Can We Get Anything For Him?

Based on the comparables from the past few days' trades, if Streit was expiring this summer he'd be worth a second or third round pick.

But that's not the case, and the cap hit next year means he's worth less than if he was expiring.  Is it worth losing Streit for something like a fourth or fifth round pick?


I'm deferring to Hextall here. I think their are pros and cons on both sides, and I really just trust Ron's judgment.

If I had to pick a side in the fight, I'd say we keep him. Hockey, like a lot of sports, seems to require a veteran locker room presence. That's why Kimmo Timonen fetched a pair of second round picks even though his legs were broken.

And it's why we should keep Mark Streit on as an alternate captain and a mentor for the Big Five.

My Official Flyers Trade Deadline Wish List

Today is the last work day before the NHL Trade Deadline Day. There are a lot of question marks for the Flyers going into this weekend, and there are a few comparable trades we can look at to gauge the market. To recap:
Blackhawks receive: F Andrew Ladd, two warm bodies to stash in the minors
Jets receive: F Marko Dano, 2016 1st round pick, conditional 2018 3rd round pick
That was the big trade for yesterday in the forward rental market. Guys like Loui Eriksson, Radim Vrbata, and Sam Gagner will fetch less of a return. But with Ladd's trade setting the bar so high, any high-level forward rental should fetch a decent return in terms of picks and prospects.
 Canucks receive: D Philip Larsen
Oilers receive:  2017 5th round pick
 This is about as meaningless a trade as anyone can possibly make. Larsen doesn't even have a HERO chart on HockeyViz (editor's note: because he plays in the KHL), and a 5th round pick in next year's draft is about as worthless as draft picks come. To put on my analyst hat, I imagine this is just Vancouver acquiring a warm body to fill Dan Hamhuis' skates when the trade him (editor's note: nope, probably just taking a flier on a Euro prospect).

Capitals receive: D Mike Weber
 Sabres receive: 2017 3rd round pick
This is a step up from the Larsen trade, but it's definitely not a big step. A third rounder, while it may turn into Shayne Gostisbehere, will more likely turn into nothing. Mike Weber is pretty much nothing, he gets paid $2 million with a cap hit of $1.6 million, and his contract expires this summer:

And that's it for the past few days. Obviously, you would expect the activity level to skyrocket now that Ladd has found a new home. This is the time of the year where Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger earn their keep (and their Twitter followers). 

We have comparables for cheap bottom-pairing defensemen and for top-six wingers, so let's take a look at what we can expect for some names that are on the block in Philly. 

Forward Sam Gagner

Gagner is the closest the Flyers can come to Andrew Ladd in the forward rental market. He's clearly not as talented or as experienced, but - as we've seen the past week or so - he has the skill to contribute as a top-nine winger. 

It would be extremely unrealistic to expect a return like Winnipeg's. If I were a Maple Leafs fan, maybe I'd suggest we trade Gagner to the Devils for prospect Pavel Zacha and a first round pick. 

But since I'm not an idiot, I'd expect less than half of Ladd's return if Hextall shipped Gagner out. He's not proven in the playoffs, he's a significantly smaller player, and the playoffs tend to value size over hands. 

That potential return, coupled with the recent emergence of the Schenn-Gagner duo, makes me question if we should trade Gagner at all. Yes, it'd be nice to net another second- or third-round pick. But he's contributing as a top six forward now, and he's going to provide a lot of lineup flexibility when Claude Giroux returns from his concussion. 

Verdict: Don't trade him. Let's ride out the year, make a push for the Wild Card, and see if Sammer (new nickname) will take a hometown discount to play with his boy Brayden for a few more years. 

Defenseman Radko Gudas

My biggest point with Gudas is the NHL's RFA compensation rules - if someone tries to sign him away from us this summer, they have to send a draft pick back:
  • $1.2 - 1.8 million = 3rd round pick
  • $1.8 - 3.6 million = 2nd round pick
  • $3.6 - 5.5 million = 1st and 3rd round picks
  • $5.5 - 7.3 million = 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks
Gudas probably would net at least a third rounder, but I wouldn't be shocked if he squeezed a contract in the second rounder range. So, at a minimum, we're looking to get more than a second round pick for him. 

People seemed shocked that he was apparently almost traded for a pair of second round picks. He's a cheap, physical, valuable blueliner. He obviously needs some work around the edges (okay, fine, a lot of work around the edges), but he was a legitimate top pairing defenseman when he played with Michael Del Zotto. 

His three-year HERO chart paints the picture of a defenseman who is plays high-event hockey and generates a lot of primary assists. Toss in the fact that he's a restricted free agent and his value is probably even higher than those two seconds. 

Verdict: Don't trade him. As my Twitter friend Bill Matz always says, you need a thumper. Gudas is cheap, mean, and he complements our top d-man nicely. Let's look for a 2-3 year deal in the $2-3 million range this summer. 

Defenseman Evgeny Medvedev

Meddy doesn't have a HERO chart because he's a rookie and he's use so sparingly (sigh). So I traveled to Corsica  to look at some numbers (all numbers at 5v5 to factor out Ghost's powerplay numbers): 
  • Of Flyers defensemen sans Andrew MacDonald, Medvedev has the highest Corsi For Percentage (52.68%) and the second-highest Fenwick For Percentage (51.79%) 
  • Of those same regular Flyers defensemen, Medvedev's Expected Goals For Per 60 is the highest (2.82), even ahead of Shayne Gostisbehere (2.53)
  • To demonstrate that he's not just a high-event defenseman, I will also add that Medvedev's Expected Goals For Percentage (50.84%) leads all regular Flyers defenseman. To reiterate: Meddy's play would lead you to believe the Flyers should outscore opponents when he's on the ice, even though the team has a goal differential of -15 for the year. 
  • Medvedev's Actual Goals For Percentage (55.32%) is second on the team behind Gostisbehere (59.57%)
  • In his own zone, Meddy's  Fenwick Against Per 60 (41.70) is smack in the middle of the Flyers blueliners
Let me make my own HERO chart:
  • Usage: criminally underused, both in terms of healthy scratches and ice time
  • Point generation: about as good as it gets on the Flyers
  • Possession: about as good as it gets on the Flyers
  • Suppression: decidedly not as good as his generation
Verdict: Trade him. It's really easy to see that his defensive zone issues aren't going to work for coach Dave Hakstol, and at 33 he's old enough to not really develop his game any further. I think the list of NHL teams who could use an offensively-gifted blueliner is just about all of them, and I'd think the return for Weber means Medvedev is worth at least a second round pick. 

The other big piece of  Medvedev trade: the Flyers have about $4.8 million in cap space, and Medvedev's $3 million would bump that number up to $7.8 million. Obviously, we don't want to take on any long-term money. But if a team in the hunt needed to dump an expiring contract to bring on Medvedev, Ron Hextall is in a position to take some salary back to sweeten the pot. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Jonathan Drouin To The Avs Might Make Sense

In honor of the upcoming Avalanche-Red Wings alumni game, I thought it would be interesting to see if Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman - who captained those teams for quite a while - would be able to make a blockbuster deal at the NHL trade deadline.

Sakic, of course, played his entire career in the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise and captained the Avs for the first fifteen years of their existence. Yzerman, similarly, played his whole NHL career in Detroit, where he served as captain from 1986 to 2006.

The Sakic-Yzerman era Avs-Wings rivalry is among the best in sports history. As far as my sports-watching lifetime goes, it's up there with Yankees-Red Sox and Duke-UNC.

And now, in 2016, Sakic and Yzerman find themselves in prominent roles in NHL front offices. Sakic is the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Avalanche, and Yzerman is the General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Yzerman has been dealing with the much-publicized Jonathan Drouin situation, and has recently expressed a desire to move Drouin before next Monday's deadline. That makes sense to me - with Steven Stamkos' future in the air, the Lightning are best served making an all-out push for this year's playoffs.

Lots of teams seem to be in the market for Drouin, naturally, because he's a former third overall pick who very plainly just needs a change of scenery. I'd imagine that Yzerman has his choice of just about every team in the league as a trade partner.

Why wouldn't he consider doing business with his old rival in Colorado, and shipping Drouin out to the Western Conference Avalanche?

The move would seem to make sense for the Avs. Drouin, age 20, would project to hit his prime around the same time as forwards Gabriel Landeskog (23), Matt Duchene (25), and Nathan MacKinnon (20). Granted, the Avs could definitely use some reinforcements on defense beyond Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie. But another blue-chip offensive talent like Drouin would turn their top two forward lines into a nightmare. 

So, how could the Avs acquire Drouin? 

Tampa has made it clear that they want help on defense, specifically someone who is offensively-inclined and can contribute on the powerplay. Here's who Colorado has available, and how they might fit in Tampa (numbers via General Fanager and Corsica):

NameAgeCap HitYears LeftAvg TOIRel CF%Points/60PPP/60
Erik Johnson273.75 / 67 (UFA)16.8-0.650.932.43
Francois Beauchemin354.52 (UFA)17.8-1.880.753.38
Tyson Barrie242.60 (RFA)17.90.350.855.72
Nick Holden281.652 (UFA)17.71.320.750.91
Chris Bigras210.8432 (RFA)12.4-1.220.25-
Zach Redmond270.750 (UFA)11.82.370.73-
Andrew Bodnarchuk270.650 (UFA)12.6-3.700.62-
Nikita Zadorov200.8942 (RFA)15.5-0.330.48-

For reference, Tampa's two best defensemen are Victor Hedman (1.61 P/60, 3.67 PPP/60) and Anton Stralman (1.22 P/60, 3.03 PPP/60). 

Barrie is clearly the Avs' best defenseman, but he's also their future on the back end and so he's probably off-limits for any sort of trade. That's a shame, because any sort of Drouin trade would have to include him going to Tampa. 

Let's pretend, for one second, that Tampa is really desperate for another defenseman that can handle the puck and contribute on the power play. Does Francois Beauchemin make sense if it would allow them to get out from under Matt Carle's $5.5m AAV? Beauchemin and Carle both expire after the 2017-18 season, but Carle contributes almost nothing offensively (0.17 P/60). 
Colorado receives: Jonathan Drouin, Matt Carle
Tampa Bay receives: Francois Beauchemin, Colorado's 2016 1st round pick 
Which team says no?

Tampa improves their blue line and gets (a little bit) less expensive, all without increasing anyone's long-term money. They get a veteran presence that fits a big need for this year's playoff run. They also net a mid-first round pick, which should allow them to nicely restock their prospect pool post-Drouin. They also keep Drouin out of the Eastern Conference, which can't be understated - could you imagine how heartbreaking it would be for Boston fans to have to play against Tyler Seguin four times a year?

Colorado gets the prize of the trade in Drouin, but loses their second- or third-best defenseman in the process and gets a warm, overpaid body to replace him. To me, this deal would hinge on how Avs fans and management feel about young defensemen Bigras, Zadorov, Duncan Siemans, Brandon Gormley, Nate Guerin, and Mason Geertsen. Maybe Tampa could send back a mid-level defensive prospect like Anthony DeAngelo or Slater Koekkoek to balance the scales for Sakic.

Will this happen? Absolutely not.

Did I successfully just waste most of the morning? You bet your ass I did.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Leafs Fans Have Some Interesting Trade Deadline Predictions

I think this Platinum Seat Ghosts is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and his name is not in any way a Shayne Gostisbehere reference. That's a little weird because the word "Ghost" in any sort of context should be referencing the Flyers' rookie blueliner. But, for whatever reason, he's using the word to mean something other than what we care about. Fine, live your own life I guess.

The responses to his tweet this morning are an interesting cross-section of Hockey Twitter. Obviously, the vast majority of people who follow PSG (and would be responding to this tweet) are crazy hockey fans. They come from different cities and root for different teams, but all of Hockey Twitter shares a love for crazy, senseless, boiling hot takes.
Twitter in a nutshell. No reasoning behind it, no logical way for it to happen, nothing the Leafs can offer St. Louis to make it worth their time. But let's bring the best potential defenseman on the market  (who is actually probably off the market at this point) to my home team and fucking make a run!

God I'm going to hate the Leafs so much in two years when they're good.
I guess the logic behind this kind of makes sense. Chicago could add Parenteau to their middle six, then add Ladd/Staal to their top line, and be a prohibitive favorite to win the Stanley Cup this year.

But come the fuck on, Leafs fans, they aren't going to give up their best prospect and two solid picks for a crappy winger on a one year contract. This trade would also leave the Hawks without anything left to trade to actually acquire Ladd or Staal.
This is a much more reasonable return for Parenteau. Good job, Max.

God damnit! Does this person think that New Jersey would send their goalie of the future back to Toronto - who is now managed by the man who ditched NJ - for a rental in a year where they have no realistic shot of making any noise in the playoffs?

I mean, yeah, obviously it'd be nice to turn an aging player on an expiring deal into a goalie prospect to replace the hot mess they currently have in Toronto, but this guy might as well have suggested a Parenteau for Lundqvist swap.
The trend I'm seeing out of Maple Leafs Twitter is they're supremely overvaluing P.A. Parenteau. He's 32. He's never scored more than 20 goals in a season. He's been declining since 2011.

JVR is a much more interesting candidate. He's just 26, he's under contract until 2018, and he'd be a 30 goal/60 point guy if he could stay healthy. I just don't think he's a good fit for the Hawks because his cap hit is upwards of $4 million. He's probably more valuable to the Leafs if they keep him for their rebuild, to be honest.

The one big intangible with JVR is the fact that he's a #FormerFlyer. That's something that can't be measured on the ice during the actual game, but it carries a lot of weight with the Hockey Gods, and it means he's probably going to eventually win a Cup.
Yes please, I would like to see this happen.
Elliotte Friedman mentioned the idea of Kadri to St. Louis yesterday in his Reddit AMA. Kadri is 25, and a restricted free agent this summer. He figures to get an offer sheet that's in the range of compensation which awards a 1st and 3rd round pick. So, at a minimum, he should net a first and a third at the deadline.

Throwing Parayko into the mix is interesting - he was drafted in the third round and has developed almost as well as a third-round defenseman can (see #53 in Philadelphia). I'd guess there's no chance that the Blues give up both picks plus Parayko - but what if the offer goes to Parayko and the 3rd rounder?
 This is along the same lines, and if St. Louis wants to really challenge Chicago this year, I think they should consider upgrading Fabbri. It'll hurt long term when Fabbri is a stud on a cheap deal in Toronto, but there's no doubt Kadri could slide nicely into their top six.
This is an option that most Leafs fans are not considering.
I will bet you one million dollars that David is a Rangers fan.

(Checks his timeline)

Well consider my mind blown, because it looks like he's a Jets fan. What? How? Why would he be content with a late first round pick, a thug defenseman, and a Russian prospect whose KHL team has expressed desires to extend his contract and keep him there? Ladd is the best rental chip available on the market, and they'd be getting like a 50% chance at nothing for him.

Reminder: hockey fans everywhere are the worst. I love reading through the CrossingBroad comment section for all of the hot takes, but sometimes I question if people are actually as dumb as they seem online.

This blog alleviated that a bit for me, because Leafs fans might even be dumber than Flyers fans.


(Update: PSG tweeted a link to this blog, so this will likely be our most-viewed post in months - please let me know how you initially found it, if you're reading this. I feel like I should just clarify one point:

This wasn't a Leafs fan hit piece, just more of an observation that every fan base has the "Trade Giroux" or "Trade Subban" or "PA Parenteau Is Worth A First And Dano" or "Crosby Is A Good Captain" group. Not everyone can be the type of fan that focuses on possession and exit/entry metrics and things that we generally associate with "smart" hockey fans. 

The question in the original tweet was posed from a Leafs blog, and obviously most of the responses were Leafs-centric. It was nice to see that it's not just Flyers fans that may not have realistic hopes or opinions on the internet - but it's also not just Leafs fans, either. That's the takeaway, I guess. We're all kind of dumb. 

But I still hate you, though, Leafs fans. And I hope Stamkos signs with Buffalo this summer.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cheap Trick Is Playing The Wild-Blackhawks Stadium Series Game

I am usually super critical of the decisions that the NHL makes about musical performances at their major events. It's not just hockey really, because I do it for basically every sporting event because I'm an asshole.
So basically, we get a main show of I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, Dream Police, and maybe The Flame?

I'm not going to say that show will suck, but I'm sure we're all thinking it. That's what we're left with then they insist of using hometown musical talent - we get Dierks Bentley and a bunch of no-name country singers at the All-Star Game, and we get a 40 year old band from a suburb of Chicago for the outdoor Wild-Blackhawks game. Typical NHL bias, including the 'Hawks in every outdoor game every played and also giving them home field advantage during the halftime show.

 Who could the NHL have gotten instead? I mean, they basically had their pick of every band from the whole state of Minnesota and chose Cheap Trick - from Rockford, Illinois - instead.

The nominees, with four-song set lists that should all be at least as good as Cheap Trick:

Semisonic (from Minneapolis)

Set list: Closing Time, Closing Time, Closing Time, Closing Time

This would be the best intermission show of all time. How freakin' incredible would it be if Semisonic came out and just played their only song four times in a row?

They could mix in some guest artists, like maybe a Travis Barker drum solo or a Skrillex guitar solo, and the whole thing would generate so much buzz that hockey twitter would probably implode.

Motion City Soundtrack (from Minneapolis)

Set list: ???

For some reason, I thought this was a band that had some popular songs. I was mistaken, and they would without a doubt be worse than Cheap Trick or Simple Plan or anyone else that was considered. Sorry, let's move on.

Haley Bonar (from Duluth and St. Paul)

I'm not even going to pretend to know any of her songs, but she was on the list of Minnesotan musicians that I found, and her last name is enjoyable. Plus just look at this girl, know that she's a talented musician, and tell me why she landed on being a folk singer instead of going the Taylor Swift/Katy Perry route and becoming a superstar.

Haley Bonar - remember the name (as long as she fires the shit out of her agent and rebrands herself).

Bob Dylan (born in Duluth)

Set list: The Times They Are A-Changin' (Radko Gudas tribute montage), Like A Rolling Stone, Tangled Up In Blue, All Along The Watchtower (with a Tim Reynolds solo to close it out)

One of the best of all time, and he'd be performing in his home state. I think the one knock on Dylan here, besides the fact that he's like 1000000% above the NHL's budget, is he's more mellow than the usually-intense game of hockey.

Prince (born in Minneapolis)

Set list: Let's Go Crazy, Kiss, Purple Rain, When Doves Cry

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Prince would make for the best halftime show in history? Wait, what's that? He already did rock out the best halftime show ever?

Prince is the greatest. 

Freakin' Michael Del Zotto Blocked Me On Twitter

As far as I can consciously remember, I have never said a negative thing about Michael Del Zotto. This year especially, he's been an absolute stud on the Flyers' blueline.

He's allowed Shayne Gostisbehere to take over the role of  Defenseman Who Contributes On Offense and he's stepped into the role of Number One Defenseman. He turned Radko Goddamn Gudas into a first pairing player. He's planted himself firmly in the team's long-term plans, and I can't wait to see him chug beers on his float in the Cup parade. And he's done it all on a team-friendly contract, which is huge for a team with some salary cap issues.

To put it simply, he's been better - in every conceivable way - than we ever could have hoped for.

And then he went and did this shit:


I don't think he ever followed me - actually, scratch that, I know he never followed me because I would have made a tee shirt of that screengrab.

So how did this happen? Did he search his name in between liking models' pictures on Instagram from the press box? Is that how he found me? Did I ever even tweet anything bad about him?

That all seems pretty positive.

So where did I go wrong?
Ah, maybe tweeting that he stinks and trying to trade him did the trick.

Well damn, I definitely deserved that block. If you or someone you know is friends with Michael, please tell him that I'm sorry and that I wish I could take it all back. I just want things to go back to the way they were before, when he was sniping bardown and I had the ability to view his page on Twitter dot com. 

I miss you, Mike. Please give me a second chance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

These NHL Prospects Will Be The Reward For This Year's Sadness

Sadness, in an NHL context, is when you miss the playoffs and also miss out on a top draft pick. My Twitter friend Micah takes a variety of statistical figures into account to generate his daily Sadness Index projection. Here's where that stands as of today:
Obviously, 16 teams make the playoffs. Micah's cutoff for missing out on "a top draft pick" is anyone lower than fifth. So,  there are going to end up being 9 teams that are #sad at the end of the year. Yet, somehow, 11 teams have a better-than-fifty-percent chance of ending up in one of those spots. Move past that.

Puljujarvi and Laine at the World Junior Championships
The top five picks, in some order, will be Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljuvarvi, Matthew Tkachuk, and one of defensemen Olli Juolevi or Jakob Chychrun.

Let's take a look at the guys that are going to likely fall just outside the top five, because it seems like there's a pretty good chance the Flyers will end up drafting one of them. I use Eliteprospects for stuff like this because they compile several different scouting sites in one place.

Canadian defenseman Jakob Chychrun
Juolevi or Chychrun, whichever is not drafted fifth

Both of these defensemen project to be solid NHL talents, and no fan base would be upset to land either of them. They may not be a franchise-changer like Matthews, but they should both be blueline contributors for the better part of a decade.

Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, who is substantially more attractive than his younger brother
Michael McLeod, Center
Alex Nylander, Winger

Currently teammates in Mississauga, they have been tearing up the OHL. McLeod is described as a "power center", which is an asset for any NHL team to be able to ice on any of its four lines.

Nylander is probably best known for being the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, but the younger Nylander lit up the World Juniors for 9 points in 7 games.

Future Philadelphia Flyer Julien Gauthier
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winger
Tyson Jost, Center/Winger
Julien Gauthier, Winger

Let me throw some more Canadians at you, because there are obviously a lot of them available because hockey. These three (plus McLeod) are Canada's four best forward prospects. Eliteprospects has quite a bit of info for each, and it's easiest to summarize it like this:
  • Dubois has an unreal hockey sense and he's the prototypical "better than his physical attributes" kind of hockey player
  • Jost is an incredible playmaker and I keep seeing the word "crafty" used to describe him. I see shades of Travis Konecny in his game
  • Gauthier is a power forward, but he also has a surprising amount of skill with the puck on his stick. He might end up being the best forward in this draft behind Matthews and The Fins
Future Philadelphia Flyer Max Jones
Clayton Keller, Center
Max Jones, Winger
Kieffer Bellows, Center/Winger
Luke Kunin, Center
Alex DeBrincat, Center

There is a good chance that seven American forwards get drafted in the first round this summer. The two big names (Matthews and Tkachuk) should go within the first four picks, and it would be a mild upset if any of these five made it to the second round. 

Jones and Bellows are both described as "power forwards" with puck skills that match their projected draft positions. They both also play with pretty high-quality teammates; Jones is a London Knight with Tkachuk, Juolevi, Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak, Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner, Bellows is a BU Terrier along with Ahti Oksanen and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, who played for Finland and Sweden respectively in the World Juniors.

Keller is, almost across the board, projected higher than Jones or Bellows. But I can't find any information on him. He's a center, he's in the USHL development league, he's going to BU next season with Bellows, and he's on the smaller side at 5'10/170. Is he a playmaker or a scorer or an energy guy? I have no fucking clue. About the best I can find is this SB Nation story that talks about his "keen eye, soft hands, and creative mindset." He sounds kind of like Christian Grey, to be quite honest. 

Kunin, who plays at the University of Wisconsin, is decidedly a step below Keller/Jones/Bellows. But anyone who is a first-round talent should eventually turn into a top-nine forward unless something goes wrong. Luke (who apparently also goes by Lane, idk) has unquestionable skills in the offensive zone, but will have to develop the other 2/3 of his game to be a real elite player. 

I hate DeBrincat. He cheapshotted Travis Konecny in the World Juniors and he looked like crap every other time I watched him play. He has 179 points in 113 games between last season and this season, so obviously he's not bad, but he's just such a little shit that I can't see him being a player I ever actively root for. To be honest, I hope he falls to New Jersey (they're currently in spot 18, he's projected in the 20-24 range), He'd be a great Devil in that he's a son of a bitch and I hate him. 

Future Flyers defensemen Jake Bean and Travis Sanheim
Mikhail Sergachyov, Defenseman
Charlie McAvoy, Defenseman
Dante Fabbro, Defenseman
Jake Bean, Defenseman

How about we add some more blueliners into our pool? This group is one Russian, one American, and two Canadians. Serge plays in the OHL, Bean plays in the WHL, and McAvoy and Fabbro both play in college in the US. Suck on that, Canada.

Sergachyov is someone I haven't read much about, but he's a Russian and their style of play generates high-risk, high-event defensemen. His physical talent and his head seem to be able to justify his risk-taking, but I keep thinking about Evgeny Medvedev's defensive zone turnovers and I worry about how his game would translate to the NHL.

McAvoy currently plays for Boston University, and Fabbro will join him on Commonwealth Ave next year. As is the case with most defensive prospects, they are vaguely described as good in their own zone with offensive upside. That doesn't mean a whole lot, but playing together in one of the country's premier college programs should certainly benefit them both.

Jake Bean probably doesn't quite belong in this post. He's probably going to get drafted by a team that made the playoffs, which should suit him that much better. I see his name quite a bit because he plays with Flyers prospects Travis Sanheim and Radel Fazleev, and by all accounts Bean is just a shade below Sanheim for the Calgary Hitmen. Someone like Dubois or Gauthier or Jones would make a lot more sense for the Flyers, but I wouldn't be mad at all if Hextall decided to throw Beaner into the prospect pool of defensemen in Philly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let's Look At The NHL Trading Block

As everyone in the world of hockey media turns their attention to the February 29th NHL trade deadline, loads of information will be flying in all directions. Trading blocks, team needs, injuries, and losing streaks will all lead to hundreds of blogs and columns about possible roster moves.

TSN's Frank Seravelli conveniently examined every team's current roster looking to find needs and surpluses for each NHL team. I'm going to classify everything into pools, and then we'll try to see how we can get Andrew MacDonald or RJ Umberger out of Philly before the end of the month.

(Spoiler alert: we won't, but let's take a look anyway.)

Pool A: Not Going To Make Any Significant Moves

Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues

Whether because they're pretty set for the future (Arizona) or they just need their current team to be healthy and click (New York and St. Louis) or they have the best goalie in the world but he's hurt (Montreal), Frank doesn't expect these four teams to make too much noise in the coming weeks.

That's a bit surprising, as the Blues were always thought to be a player in the Jonathan Drouin sweepstakes and the Islanders' Travis Hamonic requested a trade earlier this year.

Pool B: Selling Off Assets 

Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets

Just going off of the names Seravelli listed, here's the pool of players that are available to our potential buyers. I organized them based on HERO Charts (forwards here and defensemen here), so yes Mark Streit is most certainly a top-pairing defensemen and your favorite team should absolutely give up a first round pick for him.
Top Line Forwards: Scott Hartnell, Radim Vrbata, Andrew Ladd 
Depth Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Jamie McGinn, David Legwand, David Jones, Jiri Hudler, Teddy Purcell, PA Parenteau, Shawn Matthias, Alex Burrows 
Top Pairing Defensemen: Cody Franson, Mark Streit, Dan Hamhuis, Jacob Trouba 
Depth Defensemen: Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Fedor Tyutin, Justin Schultz, Eric Gryba, Evgeny Medvedev, Roman Polak
I won't lie, it'd be tough to sell a fan base on Vrbata, Franson, or Streit being the starting-caliber reinforcement necessary for a deep playoff run. But behind Hartnell, Ladd, and Hamhuis there isn't going to be a ton of talent available.

The first chip to fall is Ladd - Winnipeg wants to get as much as possible for him, and that will set the market for Vrbata and then Hartnell. Hartsy, to be honest, has a horrible fucking albatross contract and will probably be impossible to move.

Should the Ladd trade never happen, a Trouba trade probably would. That would set the market for the rest of the defensemen that are available.

So the ball's in Winnipeg's court for now, and then I'd expect Vancouver to sell their pair of assets shortly thereafter.

Pool B2: Haven't Realized They Have To Sell Off Assets Yet

Carolina Hurricanes

Hey 'Canes, you have two great potential trade assets in Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, and you have a killer defensive core on the horizon. Ship Staal/Skinner out to some of the teams in the next category and bring back some young talent for the next ten years.

Pool C: Looking To Add Forwards

Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins

Here's who Frank expects to be in the Ladd discussion (and then, after that, the Vrbata and Hartnell discussions and so on down the line): Ducks, Hawks, Panthers, Preds. The idea of Ladd going to any of the first three would terrify me if I had to play against them in the playoffs. They're already three of the 6-8 best teams in the league, and they actually have the room to add a player like Ladd? Gosh, that must be an incredible feeling.

As for the Wild, Rangers, Senators, and Penguins, I get the sense that they're looking to make smaller, less-splashy moves to retool their current cores and maybe add some young depth.

The most interesting piece of Seravelli's post to me was the idea that Columbus might try to ship Hartnell to (their partner in the Ryan Johansen-Seth Jones deal) Nashville. The front office familiarity is there, Hartnell has played well for Nashville coach Peter Laviolette in the past, and anything Columbus could take back to alleviate their cap situation would be beneficial.

Pool C2: Haven't Committed To Buying Yet, But Will

New Jersey Devils

After they beat the Flyers tonight, the Devils will leapfrog the Islanders for the third Metro playoff spot. They don't have a ton of assets to work with, but according to Seravelli, GM Ray Shero would look to add some forward depth to replace some of the elderly players he currently has.

Pool D: Looking To Add Defensemen

Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals

The teams that are in play for the Hamhuis/Trouba/Streit/Franson class of blueliners seem to be Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Tampa. I can see a situation where Trouba goes to Boston, Hamhuis goes to LA, Franson goes to Dallas, and the Flyers are stuck with Mark Streit for another year.

As for the teams that are looking for less flashy defensive help, see above - there is a ton of blueline depth available at the deadline, and it's a good time to need a second- or third-pairing type of player. There's a ton of supply, and so teams like Washington and Detroit should be able to get even better.