GWMHL

Plante Preview – East (Hieronymus P. Martin)

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

SALEM SABERCATS
Defending 3-time champions
Notable Additions: Jason Demers, Bo Horvat, Andre Burakovsky, Scott Darling
Notable Subtractions: Dan Boyle (D), Eric Gelinas, Jaroslav Halak

Forwards:
Salem has been a powerhouse for years, and they still have tremendous depth at the Center position boasting Nicklas Backstrom, Logan Couture, Jeff Carter and Pavel Datsyuk. However, the rest of the wingers while experienced are starting to drop off a bit..notably Patrick Marleau, Patrick Sharp and Loui Eriksson. The only notable youngster at wing who is making a splash is Gustav Nyquist, but the rest of the forward corps is not real strong. However, they did draft Bo Horvat and Andre Burakovsky – which significantly upgrades the bottom 6 in their lineup.
Grade: B


Defense:

The defense on the other hand has a great combination of offensive skills, experience and youth. Leading the way is the quartet of Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, Anton Stralman and Torey Krug. As solid a top 4 as you will find in GUMP. The 5-6 spots are a bit rough, but newly acquired Jason Demers, Eric Gryba and James Wisniewski look to fill those in pretty well. Overall this is a high scoring defense, able to spread the minutes around and create a true shutdown tandem when necessary.
Grade : A-

Goaltending:
Carrying 4 goalies on the roster, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they moved 1 to try and shore up their forwards. But, with the Trio of Frederik Anderson (solid), Craig Anderson (good but injured often) and Scott Darling (above average backup) they certainly have the bodies in place to be solid at goal. Not top tier, but very respectable. One of the future ‘tenders, Niklas Svedberg will be fighting for icetime if Salem carries 4 goalies into the season.
Grade : B

Expectations:
Salem has been a powerhouse for years, but this looks like a year where they will have to fight harder for a playoff berth. While Salem made some aggressive moves, other teams in the division have made upgrades or player development is on the upswing. When the last weeks of the season are upon us, Salem will be in the mix for a playoff spot, but it will be a toss-up whether they get in or not. If they do, it will because their Defense played outstanding hockey – and they will be dangerous!

PITTSBURGH HORNETS
Made Conference Final
Notable Additions: Anthony Duclair
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
Evgeny Malkin and Bryan Little lead the club up front, giving a powerful 1-2 punch at the Center position. Lots of young players are starting to mature, making their mark in the league including Alex Galchenyuk, Nik Bonino and Ryan Strome. This club has good offensive punch through the first 3 lines, but not truly elite scoring. Still when Evgeni Malkin is on your club, it’s hard not to be above average.
Rounding out the club are some very solid 2-way wingers (Joel Ward, Brandon Sutter). Anthony Duclair has yet to prove himself at the NHL level, but has strong upside.
Grade: B

Defense:
This could be the last year together for this group. Victor Hedman is the cornerstone of the club and along with Slava Voynov provides a solid first pairing. Andy Greene provides veteran leadership and a physical edge to the club. After them, there is a much younger group of players trying to fit their way into GUMP and make an impact. Dmitri Kulikov and Travis Hamonic lead that group, but overall the defense lacks scoring punch and shutdown ability.
Grade: C

Goaltending:
With Ben Bishop and Petr Mrazek splitting duties, this is a very solid and consistent pairing for the club. It’s not the best in the league, but is very solid and will do well this season. Can they provide that consistency with a mediocre defense? If so, this is a playoff team.
Grade: B

Expectations:
Really hard to say how this team will do this year. They’re a middle of the pack scoring team, middle of the pack Goaltending team, and a defense that probably won’t keep the puck out of the net enough. In some divisions that wouldn’t be as big an issue, but there are some seriously top notch scorers in this conference, and they will be exposed. Playoffs?

SOUTHSIDE ICE RENEGADES

Notable Additions: Alexei Emelin, Melker Karlsson, Jyrki Jokkipakka, Darnell Nurse
Notable Subtractions: Dmitry Orlov

Forwards:
Southside has only a few established NHL’ers with high offensive skill. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Hornqvist lead the way with up an coming Mika Zibanajed providing most of the offensive punch. Unfortunately, beyond that the cupboard is a bit bare. Ryan O’Reilly is established as a solid 2-way player, but will his offense ever become enough to be a first line player? Same with Rickard Rackell. The Ice Renegades will struggle to put 2 solid scoring lines on the ice night after night, let alone 3. This team will need some help via trades or draft to challenge for a playoff spot.
Grade: C-

Defense:
The defense on the other hand has a VERY good core of defensemen, with all under 30. Jonas Brodin, Mike Green, Seth Jones and Jake Muzzin are reliable defenders and have good offensive skill. Klein and the recently acquired Emelin will round out the top 6, making this a very capable defense corp that will help keep them in games.
Grade: B+

Goaltending:
With Braden Holtby as the main man, the Ice Renegades are set for years to come with a top 10 GUMP starter. Carter Hutton is not your ideal backup, but since he will only play a fraction of games, it’s not a large concern for a club that looks to have Holtby start over 70 games this year. Overall, this has to be seen as the strength of the club, and Holtby can steal 5+ games per year for them.
Grade: A

Expectations:
There is much to like on this team Defensively, but can they score enough goals? Usually in GUMP, you need to roll at least 2 lines that can pot 60+ goals to have a chance for the playoffs. In this respect they fall short. But the defense and Goaltending is certainly above average and will help mitigate that. Ultimately, it looks like it’s too much to ask of them to drag this team to the playoffs. They will be competitive, but it doesn’t look like the playoffs are in the cards.

WINNIPEG FALCONS
Notable Additions: Adam Lowry, Calvin Pickard
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
With Tyler Seguin (quack!) & Jamie Benn the Falcons boast one of the premiere 1-2 punches in the league. Mike Hoffman, Michael Frolik, young Zemgus Girgensons and (still good) setup man Mike Ribeiro make sure that there is secondary scoring AND people to get the puck to Seguin and Benn. After that, there is a pretty steep falloff in offense, although the other forwards are all defensively responsible, and they shouldn’t be a hindrance to the club. Overall a solid group and age is not that much of a problem at this point. Adam Lowry adds grit and some potential to rise to a 2nd line scoring winger.
Grade: A-

Defense:
A top 3 of Dan Girardi, Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba is very good indeed. After that there is a significant falloff though as Zidlicky, Lovejoy and Mark Stuart look to round out the top 6. Zidlicky is still an effective PP QB, but needs to be protected defensively at this point in his career. The top 3 need to eat a lot of minutes to cover for the others though. Overall, some fine pieces in play, but this league has a long history of exposing weak defensive pairs, and that will be a problem for the Falcons.
Grade: C+

Goaltending:
Steve Mason comes in on a bounce back year, and looks to put up VERY good numbers. Jake Allen is the up and coming Goalie every club likes to have. Thomas Greiss is a solid backup for insurance, but they drafted Calvin Pickard to push him in camp. Unfortunately, it looks like Josh Harding will no longer be able to play, but their depth at the position renders that point moot. Overall this is a top tier group, and will be asked to bail out the weak 3rd pair all season long. They can do it too!
Grade: A

Expectations:
This is a tough call. Year in and year out, clubs with a weak bottom 2 are exposed, and this club has a weak bottom 3. But the goaltending is so, so solid. With a top 6 that can score as well as anyone in the league, they have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs. In this division, I think they have enough and will squeak in.

DENVER SPURS
Notable Additions: Roman Polak, Scottie Upshall
Notable Subtractions: Josh Bailey

Forwards:
This is a team with a split between veterans : Matt Duchene, Lecavalier, Briere and Zach Parise and the up and comers (Carl Hagelin, Lindon Vey, Riley Nash, Benoit Pouliot). Between the groups, there is reasonable scoring potential, and the drop off from there is large, but still productive. This is a team with a scoring by committee approach as they only have a single 30 and single 20 goal scorer. All the others will need to have above average seasons to give this team the scoring punch they need. That being said, the forwards will be hard to play against, but just won’t be able to muster the pop they need. There’s a good chance this will end up being the lowest scoring team in the league.
Grade: D

Defense:
The Spurs boast 2 of the top offensive D-Men in the league in Kevin Shattenkirk and Keith Yandle. If Shattenkirk can stay healthy, they will have a very good top PP unit. The problem comes after those 2 players as the remaining guys (aging Jan Hejda, Willie Mitchell, Brian Campbell) are not top 4 players at this juncture of their careers. Olli Maatta has huge potential, but his early career has been marred by injuries.
Grade: D

Goaltending:
Goaltending is a strength of this club, with arguably the best in the league. Semyon Varlamov, Jonas Hiller and Cam Talbot will fight it out and the coach will tend to go with the hot hand. Having any of these 3 in net will give the Spurs a chance to win every night. That’s good – because they’re not going to score a ton of even strength goals.
Grade: A

Expectations:
In this division, they simply do not have the scoring to keep up with their rivals. No matter how good the offense is, you have to score sometime. In addition, they look to have a somewhat porous defense, and will have difficulties keeping the puck out of the net even with their goaltending. Nothing is impossible, but the playoffs seem out of reach this season.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s