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Salem, Parry Sound, Delta Lead the Charge at the Halfway Mark

In BAL, DEL, News, SAL on December 20, 2018 at 10:01 am

The 2018-19 season is half over, and with 40 games in the bag, defending champ Salem sits atop the league standings with a scintillating 29-8-3 record. On their heels: Parry Sound (26-8-6) and Delta (27-10-3). Salem’s success comes at the expense of its division rivals, all of whom are in the bottom 10.

In the Plante Conference
After a disappoint start, the Baltimore Crab scrabbled back into the race on the back of a stellar 9-1-0 home record in Q2. Salem, Parry Sound, and El Dorado may all be out of reach at this point, but the Crab seem poised for a postseason berth barring a major bounceback from a sub-.500 team.

In the Sawchuck Conference
Delta has the conference all but sewn up, but there the second half should see a lot of jockeying further down the standings, as Boston and Ice Harbor continue to play well, and Farmington (who faded in Q2, going 7-11-2), Adirondack, and West Virginia are all in striking distance for the fourth or even third seed. Hamilton bounced back from a weak Q1 with 11 wins in Q2 so they could be in the mix as well.

The Leaders
Salem’s Anze Kopitar, acquired just before the season, leads all scorers with 59 points (and 24 goals, two behind leader Patrik Laine).

Parry Sound’s Pekka Rinne boasts the league’s best numbers among starting goaltenders (2.08 and .940) but has played just 20 games so far. His GP totals will pick up in the back half of the season as his Orrsmen look to take some momentum into the playoffs.

Farmington’s John Carlson has a healthy lead for points by defensemen, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace with 39 in 40.

Vancouver’s Mat Barzal still leads all freshmen with 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists), just 3 ahead of unheralded Salem rookie Yanni Gourde (8 goals, 29 assists).

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Season Preview: Plante West

In BAL, CHA, EDH, GLP, PAR, Special Features on October 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Welcome to part 2 of our season previews: a look at the Plante’s West division, which includes not one but two bonafide cup contenders. You can read our preview of the Plante East here.


Baltimore Crab
Last Season’s Finish: 47-29-6 (3rd in conference); lost in 1st round
Notable Arrivals: F Sidney Crosby, D Kevan Miller
Notable Departures: F Jonathan Drouin

After being stunned in the first round, the 2017 champs must have known they needed something to keep up with the Joneses. And they did it in a big way, flipping three draft picks and young forward Jonathan Drouin for Sidney Crosby. Already a powerhouse up front, Crosby instantly becomes the Crab’s best player and will likely centre a first line with Vladimir Tarasenko and one of Filip Forsberg or Jaden Schwartz on his wings. No team scored more in 2017-18, and the goals should flow freely again this season. Add to that a strong top-4 D, headlined by Brent Burns and Ryan McDonagh, and you have a contending recipe. The only wild card is in goal, where Roberto Luongo and Philipp Grubauer will duke it out for the starting role. Can either of them be the go-to guy over a long season and playoffs?

Verdict: Contender


Charleston Chiefs
Last Season’s Finish: 29-45-8 (8th in conference); missed playoffs
Notable Arrivals: D Haydn Fleury, D Andreas Borgman
Notable Departures: F Anze Kopitar, F Cody Eakin, F Chris Kunitz, D Luke Schenn, G Kari Lehtonen

The Chiefs’ promising season was totally undone by injuries to Jonathan Quick and Steven Stamkos. But with both vets back in the saddle, fans’ expectations may have been high — until the team unloaded Anze Kopitar. Talented prospects Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Sikura aren’t quite ready to make the jump, outside of Viktor Arvidsson there isn’t much to get excited about on the wings, and the blueline is a bit thin after Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Morgan Rielly. Even with Stamkos and Brayden Point still patrolling the middle, the Kopitar deal took the Chiefs from a bubble team to a rebuilder.

Verdict: Rebuilding


El Dorado Lynx
Last Season’s Finish: 37-34-11 (6th in conference); missed playoffs
Notable Arrivals: F Ryan O’Reilly, F Darren Helm, D Jonas Brodin, D Alexander Edler
Notable Departures: F Teuvo Teravainen, F Torrey Mitchell, D Johnny Oduya, D Dennis Seidenberg

The Lynx have been living life on the bubble for what seems like forever now. Shrewd drafting has stocked the forward ranks with a host of exciting talent around Alexander Ovechkin: Clayton Keller, Kyle Connor, Mikael Granlund… the list goes on. It’s one of the most exciting winger groups in the league. And the Lynx can usually count on one of Tuukka Rask or Carey Price to have an “on” year. Most notably, El Dorado went out and addressed its two biggest weaknesses through trades, grabbing a top-line centre to step in for injury-plagued Ryan Kesler (Ryan O’Reilly) and acquiring Alex Edler and Jonas Brodin to fill out a less-than-stellar defense corps. The Lynx still don’t have a star puck-mover on the back end and that may cost them, but now have the pieces to make a serious run. This is squarely a playoff-bound team.

Verdict: Playoffs


Great Lakes Pilots
Last Season’s Finish: 28-49-5 (9th in conference); missed playoffs
Notable Arrivals: F Jonathan Drouin, F Nolan Patrick, F Jason Pominville, D Madison Bowey
Notable Departures: F Sidney Crosby, F Ryan Getzlaf, F Jussi Jokinen, F Brian Gionta, F Nail Yakupov

The writing was on the wall for the Pilots after a very disappointing season: It’s rebuild time. They jettisoned Crosby for Drouin and picks, then parted ways with Ryan Getzlaf too, and grabbed highly touted Nolan Patrick in the first round. It’s a promising, if painful, start. But progress will be slow. While the Pilots’ D, led by Jacob Trouba, Jake Gardiner, and Erik Johnson, is pretty solid, and the team expects Andrei Vasilevskiy to be a high-end starter for years to come, much of the team’s young talent — Patrick, Ryan Donato, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyson Jost — is at least a season or two away from contributing to a competitive top 6. Led by Tomas Hertl, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Drouin, the Pilots will find goals and wins hard to come by in 2018-19. Especially in this division.

Verdict: Rebuilding


Parry Sound Orrsmen
Last Season’s Finish: 52-24-4 (1st in conference); lost in 2nd round
Notable Arrivals: F Evgeni Dadonov, F Blake Comeau, F Brandon Dubinsky D John Moore, D Thomas Hickey, G Pekka Rinne, G Curtis McElhinney
Notable Departures: F T.J. Oshie, D Braydon Coburn, D Ben Lovejoy, G Jimmy Howard

The league’s best team during the regular season was left reeling after being bumped in the conference finals by Salem. One reason may have been a distracting goalie platoon. The Orrsmen nipped that in the bud early in the offseason when they acquired veteran Pekka Rinne from Vancouver to take sole possession of the starter’s job, and then signed veteran backup Curtis McElhinney. Parry Sound still has the best top 9 in the entire league, led by Connor McDavid, Evgeni Kuznetsov, and Auston Matthews down the middle, and David Pastrnak‘s emergence as a top sniper makes it a truly deadly group. The Orrsmen went big at the Free Agent Draft, picking up several roleplayers who should contribute to a cup run. The defense is still lacking oomph, especially if rumours of health issues for Kevin Shattenkirk are true. But that won’t be enough to stop this powerhouse. This team wants the cup.

Verdict: Contender

Trade Roundup: Getzlaf, Oshie, Howard on the Move

In BAL, BOS, GLP, PAR, Transactions, WVR on September 20, 2018 at 12:41 pm

The Great Lakes Pilots‘ rebuild continues. After parting ways with Sidney Crosby on draft day, the Pilots have shipped out pivot Ryan Getzlaf to the Boston Banshees for a 2nd round pick in 2019.

But that was just one of a flurry of post-draft roster moves as teams solidify their lineups. The West Virginia River Rats picked up winger T.J. Oshie from Parry Sound in exchange for defenseman John Moore and a third round pick. And the Orrsmen followed that with a pair of trades with Boston, first acquiring Brandon Dubinsky for a third, then sending goaltender Jimmy Howard to the Banshees for a trio of Free Agent Draft picks. Finally, Boston shipped steady blueliner Kevan Miller to Baltimore for a 4th round pick in 2019.

Sidney Crosby a Pilot No More

In BAL, GLP, Transactions on September 17, 2018 at 10:22 am

As previously reported, the Great Lakes Pilots ended their Sidney Crosby experiment once and for all, sending the superstar centre to cup contending Baltimore for Jonathan Drouin and a trio of draft picks.

With 937 career points, Crosby is the 23rd all-time scorer in the GWMHL and 8th among active skaters. He’s poised to join the exclusive 1000-point club as early as this coming season.

It was a bold move by the Crab and a needed one by Great Lakes. The Pilots paid a pretty penny to acquire Crosby from West Virginia on Draft Day 2016, namely two first rounders (who would become Pavel Zacha and Sebastian Aho). And Crosby performed as advertised, putting up two straight 40-goal seasons for the Pilots. But his new team struggled to surround him with enough talent to win. In Drouin, they get a proven 23-year-old forward they hope to build around. Add to that the two 2018 picks, which they parlayed into winger Ryan Donato and defenseman Noah Juulsen.

With the Crab, Crosby will have talented linemates to spare, potentially including Vladimir Tarasenko, Filip Forsberg, and Jaden Schwartz. Barring more trades, he’ll combine with Mark Scheifele and Tyler Johnson to make a formidable 1-2-3 down the middle. Despite some question marks in goal, the Crab seem ready to try to recapture the Gump Cup.

Crosby, Sidney
Year	Name	                  GP	G	A	PTS
06-07	West Virginia River Rats  81	17	62	79
07-08	West Virginia River Rats  79	25	71	96
08-09	West Virginia River Rats  47	15	30	45
09-10	West Virginia River Rats  77	28	62	90
10-11	West Virginia River Rats  81	52	84	136
11-12	West Virginia River Rats  41	28	47	75
12-13	West Virginia River Rats  18	6	15	21
13-14	West Virginia River Rats  36	17	24	41
14-15	West Virginia River Rats  77	35	65	100
15-16	West Virginia River Rats  73	33	61	94
16-17	Great Lakes Pilots	  80	44	35	79
17-18	Great Lakes Pilots	  75	40	41	81
Totals	                          765	340	597	937

Baltimore Crab Win the Gump Cup!

In BAL, News on April 16, 2016 at 10:06 am

The Baltimore Crab have won the 2016 Gump Cup!

Sami Vatanen’s goal with 5:48 left in game 5 against the Nashville Knights gave them a lead they would not relinquish. And so, in their first playoff appearance in 14 years, after many seasons of rebuilding, the Crab are your new GWMHL champs.

En route to the cup win, the Crabs beat Winnipeg in five and then knocked off the defending three-time champ Salem in a four-game sweep.

Nashville’s Patrick Kane led the league in postseason scoring with 21 points. Knights starter Cory Schneider also led all the goaltending category except the one that matters most in the playoffs — wins. That distinction belonged to the Crab’s Roberto Luongo, who put together a sensational run on the way to his second career championship.

Prospect Trade, Goalie Cuts Highlight Reopening of Transaction Period

In BAL, STL, Transactions on September 5, 2013 at 10:55 am

With the 2012-2013 season in the books, teams made their off-season cuts today – and while the list features the usual assortment of fourth-liners and bottom-pairing defensemen, two cuts – Jaroslav Halak and Anders Lindback – are likely to be snapped up by goalie-starved team once free agency opens.

In other news, Saint Louis and Baltimore swapped young wingers, with Nino Niederreiter heading to the Blues in exchange for Jaden Schwartz.

2013 Cuts
Ice Harbor – Maxim Lapierre
South Carolina – Jason Blake, Mike Komisarek, Louis Leblanc
Portland – Brett Connolly
Sterling – Yannick Weber
Denver – Cory Sarich, Anders Lindback
Baltimore – Jaroslav Halak
San Francisco – Cory Emmerton, Raphael Diaz, Bobby Butler, Alec Martinez, Ryan Shannon
Saint Louis – Ian White, Patrick Dwyer, Jacob Josefson
Winnipeg – Chris Tanev
Great Lakes – Tim Brent, Tom Wandell, Darren Helm, Anton Lander, Matt D’Agostini, Jack Skille
Vancouver – Mathieu Garon

Bobrovsky Dealt to Baltimore in Deadline Blockbuster

In BAL, NAS, News, Transactions on May 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm

It finally happened.

Just one hour before the trade deadline, the Nashville Knights finally found a taker for Sergei Bobrovsky. With a logjam in goal and the specter of losing Bobrovsky’s rights at the end of the season, Nashville pulled off an eleventh-hour blockbuster, sending the netminder along with their first round pick in 2013 to the Baltimore Crab for winger Daniel Sedin and defenseman Mark Streit.

It’s a clear commitment for a total rebuild for the Crab, who also shed Alex Burrows two weeks ago. For the Knights – already laden with high-end offense – it’s a major push for a playoff spot, with division leader Vancouver falling off its first quarter pace.

Baltimore Deals Burrows and Salvador

In BAL, News, STL, Transactions on April 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm

The Baltimore Crab‘s struggle in the standings has prompted them to ship some veterans to a contender. On their way to the new-look Saint Louis Blues are Alexandre Burrows and Bryce Salvador, while Jakub Kindl and Kyle Okposo join the Crab.

Burrows – one of the Crab’s most dependable wingers who once shocked the league with a 49-goal campaign – brings scoring and experience to the Blues’ top six while Salvador join new acquisition Nicklas Grossmann in settling down the D. Kindl and Okposo aren’t as reliable as point-producers, but both are in their mid-twenties, meaning Baltimore’s just shed 18 years off its roster.

Chiefs Make Two Huge Deals Up Front

In BAL, CHA, NAS, Transactions on January 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

After a quiet draft, the Charleston Chiefs made a big splash in the trade market today with two moves, dealing away – among others – 3rd overall selection Sean Couturier to reel in centre Anze Kopitar from the Baltimore Crab.

Chiefs management had made it known they wanted to shore up on the left wing, and the team’s first move did just that – sending Wayne Simmonds to the Nashville Knights for Clarke MacArthur and a 3rd rounder.

That deal was quickly overshadowed by news that Charleston had acquired Kopitar from Baltimore in exchange for Couturier and longtime Chief Nathan Horton.

Kopitar endured a somewhat disappointing 2011-2012 season, scoring just 15 goals. He joins a formidable Charleston group at centre, highlighted by Steven Stamkos and David Backes.

Rookie Race: Backlund, Grabner Among the Best So Far

In BAL, GLP, IHS, NAS, Special Features on December 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

We might be just 20 games into the 2011-2012 rookie race, but there’ve already been some flat-out stunners. With several marquee freshmen handed plum jobs in their teams’ top-sixes, it’s boom-or-bust time. Here are four of the biggest surprises – good and bad – so far.

Mikael Backlund, Ice Harbor Storm

Backlund is a 2009 draftee who saw 23 games last year (0 goals, 4 assists). This season, with a young Ice Harbor team that’s thin up the middle, he’s had a chance to play a big role. And while the Storm have struggled (6-13-1), Backlund’s played well with second-line minutes, notching 8 goals and 6 assists on the quarter.

Taylor Hall, Great Lakes Pilots

First overall Jeff Skinner has had a decent start for 8-11-1 Nashville, with 12 points in his first 20 games. But where’s second overall Taylor Hall? He’s playing big minutes for the Great Lakes Pilots but has managed just 3 goals and 3 assists so far, is being outscored by teammates like Darren Helm, and sits at a team-worst -11.

Michael Grabner, Baltimore Crab

The fleet Austrian was drafted in 2010 by Vancouver and immediately dealt for a second rounder in 2011, who would become winger Kyle Palmieri. After spending all of last season on reserve, Grabner has started this season well with the Baltimore Crab, with 11 goals in his first 20 games.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Nashville Knights

Bobrovsky was taken 21st overall in 2011 and the expectation was that he’d step in and backstop a young but very talented Nashville team to playoff contention. But no one’s going anywhere with numbers like his: a 4.30 GAA and .887 save percentage. Bobrovsky has been soundly outplayed by Cory Schneider (4 games, 1.76, .927).

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