GWMHL

Sawchuk Preview – East (Hieronymus P. Martin)

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2015 at 11:43 am

BOSTON BANSHEES
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: TOO MANY TO NAME!
Notable Subtractions: TOO MANY TO NAME!

Forwards:
After an offseason filled with (seemingly) a billion moves, GM Ted Geoffrion has virtually remade the entire forward corps. Featuring top end scoring from Marian Gaborik, Joe Pavelski and Max Pacioretty, they should ice one of the better power play teams in the league. They also have a good supporting cast with Helm, Okposo, Zucker, Gaustad, Coutrurier, Jenner and some up and coming players – they look to be able to win now, and continue in the future. A very solid core for the Banshees at Forward.
Grade: A

Defense:
Erik Karlsson and Mark Giordano anchor the Banshee Blueline…and what anchors they are. They not only can play against the top players on other clubs, but bring elite level puck movement and scoring ability. The top 4 are rounded out by aging (but still effective) Zdeno Chara and Brian Campbell, with some dropoff beyond those 4. While the remaining players are legitimate NHL’ers, they won’t exactly strike fear into opponents. Bogosian, Ryan Ellis and Luke Schenn will probably take the majority of the starts in the 3rd pairing as Josh Gorges gets spot starts only from injuries.
Grade: B

Goaltending:
Braden Holtby has joined the ranks of the top puck stoppers in the league, and should get the bulk of the starts. To back him up, the Banshees acquired Andrew Hammond in the off season. And while Hammond has a short track record, he seems to be solid and could be the long term backup behind Holtby. Between the two of them, they could rival the Lynx goaltending duo as best in the league.
Grade: A+

Expectations:
With 14 total trades, it remains to be seen how the team will gel. They have enough pieces in place, and superior goaltending that should make up for their Defense. It’s certainly not a bad defense, but if you were to point out a weak link on this Boston club, it would be the 3rd defensive pair. It would not be a surprise at all to see the Banshees make a deep run in the playoffs.

SAN JOSE HOSERS

Notable Additions: Alex Chiasson, Manny Malhotra, Nikita Nikitin, John Klingberg (draft)
Notable Subtractions: Marian Gaborik, Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf, Paul Gaustad, Karl Alzner, Rob Scuderi.

Forwards:
San Jose has a good young core of forwards, led by John Tavares and Gabriel Landeskog. These will be the key players as the Hosers look to re-tool their club. Brock Nelson, Jakob Silfverberg, and Mathieu Perreault give them a nice set of complimentary scorers. After them though, there are not too many more scorers unless someone like Beleskey or Chiasson can build on their previous seasons. All in all, the forwards aren’t bad, and certainly there is enough scoring punch here.
Grade: B

Defense:
Here is where the club will have troubles. While man vets were moved out in an attempt to improve the top end talent on the blueline, none were brought in. The blueline is fillied with inexperienced players except stalwart Cam Fowler. Jordie Benn has experience, but honestly should be a 7-8 D-man, and not asked to play top 4 minutes as he will this season. Rookie John Klingberg had a great camp, and may play on the top pairing with Fowler. Connor Murphy will probably round out the top 4, which is very weak. Beyond that, the young players (Pouliot, Gostisbehere, etc.) will need to develop for the future. But it won’t happen this year.
Grade: D

Goaltending:
Jimmy Howard looks to get most of the starts, with Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens filling in. Viktor Fasth looks like he won’t be in the long range plans of the Hosers, and if he doesn’t have a tremendous season, Ben Scrivens could be the next one out the door. This is NOT a strong set of goalies in net, although Jones has some upside potential, and Howard could rebound. Overall, this is one of the weakest goalie groups in the league.
Grade: F

Expectations:
This is going to be a rough season for the Hosers. They’re obviously in rebuild mode, but they also have some very nice pieces already at forward. If their defense prospects pay off (they have some good young potential players), this could be one of the faster rebuilds. That being said, they may need to pick up some veteran D-men at some point to mentor the youngsters, and a serious upgrade in goal will need to happen as well. This will not be a playoff team this year, but they look to have ‘unstuck’ the franchise and should be on their way to their first playoff since the 1999-2000 season. 

W VIRGINIA RIVER RATS

Notable Additions: Leon Draisatl (Draft)
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
Sydney Crosby, Eric Staal, Corey Perry , Tomas Vanek and Radim Vrbata are proven scorers in the league, but beyond that the scoring is going to be sparse. And while players like Andrew Shaw and Sam Gagner are good in their roles, the future scorers on the club just haven’t developed. They will roll 2 reasonably solid lines, but there will be a steep dropoff after the top 6. Overall it’s a good group as Crosby and Perry are as good as anyone in the league.
Grade: B

Defense:
With Brent Burns and Dougie Hamilton leading the way, the Rats will have a potent power play this year. David Savard and Matt Greene round out the top 4 with a bevy of youngsters making the jump to the big leagues. Offensively, they will be as good as most defensive groups in the league. The big question mark will be: Can they shut down the premier scorers in the league? They don’t have that shutdown pair, but otherwise it’s a solid group with a good blend of size speed and passing ability.
Grade: B

Goaltending:
With Henrik Lundqvist and and aging (but still effective) Ryan Miller in the nets, the River Rats should be fine at the goaltending position. While Lundqvist and Miller have been having injury troubles of late, between the two of them they should be able to get the job done. Overall, and fine tandem.
Grade: B

Expectations:
This is going to be a tough call. The River Rats certainly have the overall talent to make the playoffs, but this division is stacked. I think their goaltending will need to play better than average for them to make it into the playoffs. If either Lundqvist or Miller gets on a roll – they’re in.

NEW ENGLAND WHALERS

Notable Additions: Sam Bennett (draft), Oscar Lindberg (draft), Jori Lehtera (FA Draft)
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
With Henrik Sedin, Patrice Bergeron, Sean Monohan and Carl Soderberg the Whalers have a terrific combo at Center, and plenty of depth. They also have some great potential on the wing with Johnny Gaudreau, Jimmy Hayes, Alex Steen, Chris Kreider and the aging but still effective Erik Cole and Alex Burrows. A very very solid top 9, and lots of potential scorers beyond the top 9 including Sam Bennet. This will be one of the premier scoring teams in the league.
Grade: A

Defense:
Anchored by Drew Doughty and Paul Martin and Christian Erhoff, this looks to be a capable group – although they don’t have a premier puck mover on the club. Still, Kris Russel and young Simon Depres could be the additional puck movers they need. Keving Bieksa and Nicklas Grossman provide stability and toughness and round out the top 6-7 nicely. The Whalers need some of their younger players to step up and prove they can be everyday players, but until then, they have the horses they need now.
Grade: B

Goaltending:
Devan Dubnyk will be the undisputed #1 goalie and Kari Ramo and Cam Ward will provide the backup. As long as Dubnyk can get on a roll, the team will probably have one of the lower GAA in the league. They should be able to apply lots of offensive pressure with their forwards, and their goalies will need to make sure they don’t give away games. They may need to move a goalie at some point, but going into the season this is a solid group.
Grade: A

Expectations:
This looks to be a playoff team.
Strong goaltending? Check!
Solid defense? Check!
Scoring up and down the lineup? Check!
Playoffs? CHECK!

FARMINGTON FIGHT SAINTS
Made GUMP Cup Final

Notable Additions: Kevin Fiala (Draft), Reto Berra
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
Ryan Johansen, Paul Stastny and Bobby Ryan anchor the Farmington forward core, bringing speed and scoring ability to the club. Seemingly ageless Martin St. Louis, and Michael Cammaleri bring solid scoring and experience. Beyond that there are some good up and coming wingers (Jaskin, Pirri, Toffoli, Pearson, Craig Smith) and experienced vets like Mikko Koivu, Domininc Moore to take on other clubs’ top scoring threats. Overall they will roll 3 lines with good scoring ability, and should have a nice mix of scoring and defensive play. They also have some good young players who are still on their way up. It’s a very nice blend of Forwards and they’ll have plenty of scoring.
Grade: B+

Defense:
This is a very potent defense with many players that can move the puck in the top 6. They are deep and solid defensively with Byfuglien, Carlson, Kronwall, Wideman, Hjalmarsson leading the way. Sekera and Beauchimin are also effective defenders and it will be difficult for them to get significant ice time on this club. This is the deepest Defense in the league. Additionally, they have some youngsters in Van Riemsdyk and Nemeth with high upside potential.
Grade: A+

Goaltending:
Corey Crawford is a good #1 goalie, but the backup situation may not be quite as good as Robin Lehner so far has not fulfilled the promise expected of him. However, in what may be a very good shrewd move, the Saints have added Reto Berra to the roster which may give them the upgrade they need here. It’s still possible that Lehner excels, but until that happens, the net belongs to Crawford.
Grade: B

Expectations:
This will definitely be a playoff team. While they don’t have the top end scoring of some of the clubs, their Defensive depth and scoring should be able to make up the difference. Crawford is a very capable starter, but they will need Lehner or Berra to have some good games to make sure they don’t give up too much on Crawford’s off nights.

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