GWMHL

Sawchuk Preview – West (Hieronymus P. Martin)

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

NASHVILLE KNIGHTS
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: Kevin Hayes
Notable Subtractions: Ray Whitney

Forwards:
This Nashville team boasts superstars in Claude Giroux, Patrick Kane, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Zetterberg. There’s no shortage of goals or points on this team as the Knights were the highest goal scoring team this past season with 3 of the top 10 goal scorers and 5 in the top 25 for total points. The forward position is stacked for the foreseeable future for this club. Having Jakub Voracek and newly drafted Kevin Hayes should help lessen the blow of declining and aging stars in Zetterberg and Sedin as the team continues its push for a title.
Grade: A

Defense:
This team is stacked with stud D as P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, T.J. Brodie, and Tyson Barrie are as formidable a top 4 as any club. With elders Streit and Stuart on the backend as well, this team will once again compete for a championship as the youth is going to serve this team for a good number of years.
Grade: A

Goaltending:
If your two starting goalies in Mike Smith and Cory Schneider are in the top 10 in wins, you can expect to take a lot of games. Schneider was top 4 in SV% as well. Can’t ask for a better stat line from your goalie keeping the biscuit out of the net. The jury is still out on Mike Smith and consistency but Nashville may look to newly drafted Keith Kinkaid if he falters in the coming years.
Grade: A- (the minus ’cause you can’t get straight As in these reviews)

Expectations:
Don’t worry, Nashville will be in the playoffs once again trying to get that elusive Gump Cup. Expect them to lead in goal scoring and points this season.

PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS

Notable Additions: Jaroslav Halak, Tobias Reider
Notable Subtractions: Kari Lehtonen

Forwards:
You can call it a pretty good one-two combo at center with Thornton and Spezza at the helm but this team will need to look for a successor soon as these two start their predictable decline. Not helping is Iginla who is on the wrong side of 35. The previous loss of defector Ilya Kovalchuk is still being felt by Portland and this team needs to bring in some young talent through draft or trade. A bright future is ahead for Ondrej Palat but beyond that this forward group is going to need some help. Tobias Reider was a start at drafting youth but much more needs to be done for this group of forwards to contend.
Grade: B-

Defense:
Brent Seabrook and Matt Niskanen lead the way in this average D group that really needs some depth in order to continue to compete. Ryan Murray is the hopeful youth with potential but more is needed from this backend group. Kyle Quincey and Brayden Mcnabb round out the second pair which isn’t striking too much fear in opposing forwards.
Grade: C

Goaltending:
With a series of trades to shake up the goaltending position, the Winterhawks jettisoned Kari Lehtonen and picked up Jaroslav Halak that netted them an upgrade in goal. Now Halak and Reimer must hold down the fort this season to get some increased wins for this team.
Grade: C

Expectations:
Should be more of the same from this team for middle of the pack placement. When they upgraded in net they used their #1 pick to entice their trade partner. Only time will tell if that was a smart decision, as that pick turned into Andre Burakovsky.

DELTA STURGEON

Notable Additions: Aaron Ekblad, Damon Severson, Andrej Nestrasil
Notable Subtractions: Martin Brodeur

Forwards:
This Delta squad is starving for points and goals and not much will change this coming season. The bright spots on this team are future superstar Nathan Mackinnon where he will attempt to get over the sophomore slump. Nugent-Hopkins, Andrew Ladd, and Nikita Kucherov should continue to shine for this club. Depth is going to be an issue at the forward position as Delta continues this on the fly rebuild. Expect Delta to look for that depth at next year’s draft.
Grade: C

Defense:
The draft started off this year with the Sturgeon taking Aaron Ekblad #1 overall. Continuing with that trend in the first round with a trade from Vancouver, they picked up Dan Severson, shoring up the D for the future. Goligoski, Braun, and Ceci round out a top 5 that could be quite competitive in the coming years. Not a bad haul from this year’s draft which should make focusing on forward depth a priority for next year.
Grade: A

Goaltending:
Delta deepened their goalie depth by drafting Hutchinson in the second round. Potentially a starter in the near future, that leaves Delta with several 1B goalies that will fight for games as they try to assert themselves onto their current rosters. Watch out for Gibson as Anaheim’s prized goalie who was recently sent down to the AHL to continue to prep for NHL stardom one day. The logjam in Anaheim means they aren’t going to rush their future star, which doesn’t bode well for Delta to get him asserted as a #1 goalie.
Grade: B

Expectations:
A draft that saw Delta find 2 cornerstone defensemen has to be ruled a success. Build from the back out is the motto here and Delta is following it to a T with Ekblad and Gibson waiting in the wings to assert themselves on their respective clubs. Don’t expect Delta to climb the rankings just yet but the future is going to be bright if this club keeps making these good draft decisions.

VANCOUVER NIGHT TRAIN
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: Chris Tanev, Dan Boyle
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
A flurry of trades during the year left Vancouver with only one pick in this year’s draft in the 4th round. Not to worry as Toews and Kessel are the superstars of this team with young future studs in Bjugstad and Lindholm continuing their climb up the forward ranks. Only time will tell if Vancouver’s decision to trade most of their picks in this years draft was the right move. But the message is clear; this team wants to compete now for that elusive title after reaching the Sawchuk final narrowly losing in 7.
Grade: A-

Defense:
Vancouver upgraded via trades in lieu of draft picks and it appears that this move has solidified an already strong group. Shea Weber, Ekman-Larsson, and Edler are a strong top 3 rivaling any club in the Gump league. Rounding out the D core is recently acquired Dan Boyle and Chris Tanev. With greybeards Markov and Timonen soon to be golfing versus lacing up the skates, look for Zadorov to solidify this D group in the near future.
Grade: A

Goaltending:
Arguably the most valuable player to his respective team, Pekke Rinne will continue to lead Vancouver’s goalie starts with a sprinkling of Eddie Lack to round out this goalie tandem. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. This team is set in goal for the foreseeable future.
Grade: A

Expectations:
A narrow loss to Farmington in the Sawchuck Final has Vancouver chomping at the bit to get back to the playoffs for redemption. Not much to tinker with here as evidenced by the lack of picks in this year’s draft. Assure yourself that Vancouver will once again be a top club vying for that Gump Cup title.

ICE HARBOR STORM

Notable Additions: Sam Reinhart, Malcolm Subban, Josh Bailey
Notable Subtractions: Ryan Smyth

Forwards:
A tough year for the Storm saw them in near the bottom of the overall standings. But don’t fret the future is getting bright as the Storm picked up cornerstone center Sam Reinhart. Not a bad haul to solidify your center position. With youngsters Huberdeau and Eberle that’s a nice base for a forward group needing some additional center depth to make the next step. Veterans Wheeler and Brouwer provide nice veteran support but more depth is needed if this club is going to complete in the near future.
Grade: B

Defense:
Tops on this club are Erik Johnson, Kris Letang, and Tyler Myers. Some depth is needed behind these 3 top pairing Das the next top D in the list is Adam Larsson. This team has some needs for additional depth and may look to the trade route to get those pieces.
Grade: C

Goaltending:
It will be a struggle this year with Bernier and Pavelec splitting net duties. Two average goalies with a penchant for high GAA is a recipe for losing games. It’s yet to be seen if Subban can make the jump as a full time regular. Only time will tell but that is a number of years away from happening, if at all.
Grade: B-

Expectations:
Sam Reinhart appears to be the real deal but expect there to be some time before he grows into the #1 C that he is projected to be. There are still needs all over the roster and forward and defense positions. Expect the same from the Storm this year and hope the club can build around Reinhart as their future star.

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