GWMHL

Plante Preview – West (Hieronymus P. Martin) (Prior to 10/1 trades)

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm

S CAROLINA FIRE ANTS

Notable Additions: David Pastrnak
Notable Subtractions: None.
Forwards:
Overall, this is an older group with some youngsters sprinkled in. Jiri Hudler, Tyler Ennis and Alex Tanguay will be asked to shoulder much of the scoring burden while the younger players continue to improve. Kuznetzov, Johansson are moving in the right direction and could be the future offensive stars of this team. Most of the forwards are rounded out with physical players (Milan Lucic), and more good but not great scoring punch (Oshie, Hansen, Boyes). While they don’t have the top end guys, their 9-12 guys provide more overall offense than most clubs. David Pastrnak (just drafted) provides a potential top line forward for the future.
Grade: B
Defense:
The Fire ants have some serious problems on the blueline. Trevor Daley brings some offensive punch, and Justin Faulk provides top level 2-way play, but beyond that only the aging Zbynek Michalek is a legitimate Top 4 defenseman (good shutdown guy). The rest of the defense is really suspect with perhaps Braydon Coburn being the best of the remaining. This club seriously needs to upgrade their defense as Salo looks like he’ll be retiring, Gonchar is far from a spring chicken and Fistric is really not an NHL caliber player.
Grade: D
Goaltending:
Marc-Andre Fleury is the undisputed #1, and provides solid goaltending for the Fire Ants. However, Evgeni Nabokov as the backup no longer is a workable proposition. South Carolina will need to address the backup role at some point in the year, but at least they’re starting with Fleury – which isn’t bad.
Grade: B-
Expectations:
This team will score a lot of goals, and be competitive in a lot of games. However, unless they seriously upgrade their defense, a playoff berth seems far-fetched.

EL DORADO LYNX
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: Jay Bouwmeester, Victor Rask
Notable Subtractions: None.

Forwards:
Alex Ovechkin, James van Riemsdyk and Brandon Saad are established scorers on the wing. However, where most teams have strength (Center) there are many question marks for El Dorado. Ryan Kesler and Valteri Filpulla are the top 2 pivots, but neither is a #1. Behind them are some solid 2-way players, but other than Teuvo Teravainen and Viktor Rask, there don’t appear to be any other potential top 6 scorers on the club. There is no question that the Lynx are going to struggle to score. The way things look now, the top line will end up scoring maybe 40% of the team total.
Grade: C

Defense:
The defense is solid, but unspectacular – although the addition of Jay Bouwmeester makes them much tougher to play against. While they did score a respectable number of goals as a group, they just don’t get enough pucks on net, and their shooting percentage seems unsustainable. Only Jack Johnson can be considered an offensive threat at this point in time. Still, Johhny Oduya, Marc Stall, Eric Brewer, and Jeff Petry round out a nice blend of speed and size. They will certainly be tough to score against.
Grade: B+

Goaltending:
The ultimate 1a/1b in GUMP. Carey Price and Tukka Rask are an insane duo in net for the Lynx, and will keep them close even if they can’t score as much as in the past. For that reason, and the defense, this is definitely a team that will be hard to score against. Low scoring games with special teams will rule the day for the Lynx.
Grade: A+
Expectations:

While they do not possess the goal scoring talent they once did, the Lynx are still a formidable club on the backend and in Net. They will be hard to play night in and night out, and will manage to get into the playoffs due to their defense and goaltending. Good luck anyone on taking a season series from these guys.

CHARLESTON CHIEFS
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: Dion Phaneuf,
Notable Subtractions: None
Forwards:
The team as constructed boasts 2 of the Top Goal scorers in GUMP like the Chiefs do with Steven Stamkos and Rick Nash. Helping dish the puck is Anze Kopitar, a top all around pivot and David Backes who is also an excellent 2-way player. Those 4 provide the main punch for the club, with the rest of the lineup really being a supporting cast including the ageless Jaromir Jagr. Lots of veterans with a few youngsters sprinkled in, this is a much better defensive forward corps than most clubs, but they still have punch with 11 players with 10+ goals (excluding their big 4). They will expose teams with a weak defense as they can score up and down the lineup.
Grade: B+

Defense:
The addition of veteran Dion Phaneuf adds an edge – and yes offense! However, the group is loaded with veterans that know how to defend, and still have a physical edge. There are also a LOT of them, and likely to be some hard fought battles for icetime. Boasting veterans Matt Carle, Brooks Orpik, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Michael del Zotto they are deep and solid. This will allow them to keep the youngsters to limited time and let them develop without hurting the team now. The only theing this group lacks is the blueline tandem to really make the Power Play work. Jason Garrison and Del Zotto look to be the powerplay quarterbacks, but beyond that there really isn’t a top notch puck mover.
Grade: B
Goaltending:
A very good tandem here with Sergei Bobrovsky and Johnathan quick. Between the two of them, they will have solid play night in and night out, and if either one hits a cold streak, the other can easily step in. With the blueline as constructed, and the goalies they have, they will certainly be in the top half of the league in GAA.
Grade: B+

Expectations:
This is a playoff calibre team – but can they do it in this division. It feels like it will come down to their series against the Lynx, as I expect them to be neck and neck. It doesn’t seem possible that the Baltimore offensive juggernaut can be stopped, and that makes it harder for another team to make the playoffs. Close, but I think they will get edged out unless they get a few bounces.

GREAT LAKES PILOTS

Notable Additions: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Notable Subtractions: Roberto Luongo
Forwards:
Overall, the Pilots have some good pieces here. Ryan Getzlaf is one of the premier Centermen in the leadue, and Scott Hartnell, Taylor Hall, and Tyler Bozak can be considered top 6 material. However, beyond that there is potential, but the next wave of scorers just isn’t there yet. Derek Roy, Riley Sheahan and Tommy Wingels will try to hold the fort while the youth infusion tries to make an impact. Tomas Hertl and Ryan Spooner are probably the next best potential scorers, and Vladislav Namestikov also has potential. Overall though, they’re light on scoring , and I don’t think Getzlaf can make more than 1 line good here.

Grade: C

Defense:
The defense is solid overall, but they will need to eventually replace the aging Stephane Robidas. They have some established veterans with Ryan Suter, Danny Dekeyser , Jake Gardiner and Nick Leddy providing a legitimate top 4. However, things drop off after that as the only established players left are not really great 3rd pair material (Marco Scandella – good, Stephane Robidas – bad). This is an area that will need to be addressed, but Ryan Suter eats minutes like Phil Kessel eats hot dogs, so that should allow them to shield the 3rd pair somewhat.

Grade: B

Goaltending:
With only Brian Elliott and rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy in the fold, it’s likely that the Pilots will need to make a move for another goaltender at some point. While the current pairing looks good on paper, Elliot has had injury issues off and an and Vasilevskiy is not yet ready for a lot of starts. So, it’s OK now, but we’ll have to see what happens to really get a gauge on the goaltending situation.

Grade: C
Expectations:
This is a team that will be competitive night in and night out, but the defense is good, not great. The scoring is OK, not great and the goaltending (what’s here) is good, not great. All in all they won’t get enough of the wins they need in the division, and they’ll likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

BALTIMORE CRAB

Notable Additions: Karl Alzner, Johnathan Drouin, Marian Hossa, Ryan Callahan
Notable Subtractions: None
Forwards:
This is a team that has built an enviable amount of talent through the draft. With almost superstars, young players ready to burst out, and almost all reasonable 2 way players, this is the premier scoring team in the league. It’s an almost All-Star team: Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg, Tomas Tatar, Jaden Schwartz, and veteran 2-way wizard Marian Hossa round out a lethal top 6 that is young, and will get better as someone makes a push past Hossa. While only Tarasenko and Johnson are considered top players in the league now, it won’t be long for others to join them.
Grade: A+

Defense:
This is also a strong group with some young players ready to break out and become elite players. They’re not there yet but they will be soon. There is a good blend of speed, passing and skating ability, and they’ll be able to trot out a legitimate 6 skaters that can be top 4 on most clubs. Ryan McDonagh and Johnny Boychuk are the anchors. Recently acquired Karl Alzner, and Zach bogosion will help out, but the biggest remaining pieces, and potential stars are the pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. Overall, they’re not a huge group, but they can really move the puck and skate. They will have 2 lethal Powerplay units.
Grade: A

Goaltending:
Antti Niemi and Jonas Enroth are currently in net. A bit pedestrian (neither is an average GUMP goalie), but with Niemi getting the bulk of the starts, and an offense that is off the charts, they should overcome the weakness here. Still it certainly is a tandem that can be better.
Grade: D

Expectations:
Although their goaltending is weak, it would be a shock if the Crab did not make the playoffs. The offense (forwards and defense) is just too lethal. They can’t all slump all year long – and it’s talented scoring up and down the roster. This team will be almost impossible to stop offensively and that will carry them into the playoffs.

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