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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

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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

Hischier, Dubois, McAvoy Headline 2018 Rookie Draft

In GLP, IHS, PWH, SJH, SSR, Transactions on September 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm

The 2018 GWMHL Rookie Draft is over, and 20 Gump franchises are returning to headquarters to count their winnings.

The draft got off to a stunning start with the announcement of several big trades (more on that to come), and then teams got down to business. South Side, owners of 4 first round picks after a dramatic sell-off extending through last season, picked Swiss phenom Nico Hischier first overall, while Portland also went for a future impact forward in Pierre-Luc Dubois. Charlie McAvoy was the first defenseman taken, by San Jose at #3, while Nolan Patrick (Great Lakes) and Alex DeBrincat (Ice Harbor) rounded out the top 5.

A goalie wouldn’t be taken until 24th overall, when the Pilots nabbed Thatcher Demko.

Along with Hischier, the Renegades scooped up forwards Anthony Cirelli at #9, Filip Chytil at #16, and Alex Formenton at #20.

Here are the full round-by-round results:

Round  1
 #     Overall #  Orig. Team  Curr. Team   Pick
 1             1         SSR         SSR   F Nico Hischier
 2             2         PWH         PWH   F Pierre-Luc Dubois
 3             3         SJH         SJH   D Charlie McAvoy
 4             4         GLP         GLP   F Nolan Patrick
 5             5         IHS         IHS   F Alex DeBrincat
 6             6         CHA         CHA   F Casey Mittelstadt
 7             7         PIT         PIT   F Eeli Tolvanen
 8             8         FFS         FFS   F Henrik Borgstrom
 9             9         EDH         SSR   F Anthony Cirelli
 10           10         DEL         WVR   F Owen Tippett
 11           11         WVR         SJH   F Kailer Yamamoto
 12           12         WPG         WPG   D Will Butcher
 13           13         ADI         ADI   F Jake DeBrusk
 14           14         HAM         HAM   F Lias Andersson
 15           15         VAN         VAN   F Martin Necas
 16           16         DEN         SSR   F Filip Chytil
 17           17         BAL         GLP   F Ryan Donato
 18           18         SAL         SAL   D Samuel Girard
 19           19         BOS         BOS   F Jordan Greenway
 20           20         PAR         SSR   F Alex Formenton

Check out rounds 2 through 4 after the jump!

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Great Lakes Deals Hartnell

In BOS, DEL, DEN, GLP, Transactions on July 2, 2016 at 10:10 am

The Great Lakes Pilots have shipped veteran winger Scott Hartnell to the Delta Sturgeon. In exchange, the Pilots get Brad Richards and Delta’s 4th rounder in 2016. Hartnell is coming off a surprise 52-goal, 92-point season.

From Delta GM Andrew Martin:  “This has nothing to do with Brad Richards. He filled the role we asked him to fill, and was a consummate professional. However, the coaching staff has decided to move Nathan Mackinnon to Center for the upcoming season. This really necessitated us looking at our roster and seeing if we had adequate big bodies to fight in the corners. The answer is a resounding no, and so we have been on the lookout to obtain someone to help dig pucks out for our talented Centermen. We’re happy to have added Scott to our club, and look forward to him helping us in our bid for a playoff spot in the upcoming season.”

In other news, the Boston Banshees sent depth centre Boyd Gordon to the Denver Spurs for Great Lakes’ 4th, previously acquired in the deal that sent Joffrey Lupul to the Pilots.

Pilots Acquire Getzlaf

In GLP, NAS, Transactions on February 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

In one move, the Great Lakes Pilots may have solved their woes up the middle. The Pilots have acquired centre Ryan Getzlaf from the Nashville Knights in exchange for defenseman Barret Jackman and a second round pick in next year’s rookie draft.

Getzlaf likely slots right into the Pilots’ first line with Martin St. Louis – his 55 points for the Knights last season would have had him second among team forwards. Jackman, meanwhile, skated to an abysmal -25 last year but is still considered one of the league’s best stay-at-home blueliners. The Knights will hope he can stabilize a defense led by youngsters PK Subban and Justin Faulk.

Teams Load Up at 2012-13 Rookie Draft

In BOS, DEL, EDH, GLP, IHS, News, SFS, Transactions on January 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm

There were few big surprises on draft day in terms of players selected, but several GWMHL teams still managed to make ripples with some bold trades.

The Delta Sturgeons kicked things off by selecting dynamic centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall, but then the Boston Banshees – who had moved up several spots in the draft lottery – decided to make some noise. Boston dealt the second overall pick to the San Francisco Seals for the Seals’ first rounder (7th overall, Ryan Ellis) and power forward Milan Lucic. To no one’s surprise, the Seals took Gabriel Landeskog with the pick.

Other moves included Delta dealing forward Valtteri Filppula to the El Dorado Lynx for El Dorado’s first rounder (15th, Brendan Smith), Boston flipping a third rounder to the Lynx for steady defender Matt Greene, and the Ice Harbor Storm  trading some picks to the Great Lakes Pilots for a selection next year.

Round 1
1. Delta – F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2. San Francisco (from Boston) – F Gabriel Landeskog
3. Charleston – F Sean Couturier
4. Ice Harbor – D Adam Larsson
5. Pittsburgh – D Slava Voynov
6. Baltimore – F Mark Scheifele
7. Boston (from San Francisco) – D Ryan Ellis
8. Winnipeg – F Sven Baertschi
9. Farmington – F Ryan Johansen
10. Great Lakes – D Jake Gardiner
11. Denver – F Carl Hagelin
12. Saint Louis – F Jaden Schwartz
13. South Carolina – F Matt Read
14. Nashville – D Justin Faulk
15. Delta (from El Dorado) – D Brendan Smith
16. Portland – F Brett Connolly
17. West Virginia – F Andrew Shaw
18. Sterling – F Mika Zibanejad
19. Vancouver – F Zack Kassian
20. Salem – F Gustav Nyquist

Round 2
21. Delta – F Marcus Foligno
22. Ice Harbor – D Erik Gudbranson
23. Pittsburgh – D Stefan Elliott
24. Baltimore – F Cam Atkinson
25. San Francisco – F Cory Emmerton
26. Winnipeg – D Jared Cowen
27. Farmington – F Craig Smith
28. Charleston – F Cody Eakin
29. Great Lakes – F Tommy Wingels
30. Denver – D Tim Erixon
31. South Carolina – F Gabriel Bourque
32. Saint Louis – D Simon Despres
33. Boston – D Alexei Emelin
34. Nashville – D Roman Josi
35. El Dorado – F Brandon Saad
36. Portland – D David Rundblad
37. West Virginia – D David Savard
38. Sterling – D Dmitry Orlov
39. Vancouver – F Devante Smith-Pelly
40. Salem – G Allen York

Round 3
41. Delta – G Matt Hackett
42. Ice Harbor – F Peter Holland
43. Pittsburgh – F Reilly Smith
44. Baltimore – F Scott Glennie
45. San Francisco – D Raphael Diaz
46. Winnipeg – G Thomas Greiss
47. Farmington – F David Ullstrom
48. Charleston – D Brayden McNabb
49. Great Lakes – D Erik Gustafsson
50. Great Lakes – (from Denver via Ice Harbor) – F Marcus Kruger
51. South Carolina – F Louis Leblanc
52. Saint Louis – D Alexander Urbom
53. El Dorado (from Boston) – D Mattias Ekholm
54. Nashville – F Tyson Barrie
55. El Dorado – F Dwight King
56. Portland – D Matt Donovan
57. West Virginia – F Roman Horak
58. Sterling – F Carter Ashton
59. Vancouver – F Corey Tropp
60. Salem – D Dylan Olsen

Round 4
61. Delta – D Paul Postma
62. Great Lakes (from Ice Harbor) – F Anton Lander
63. Pittsburgh – F Akim Aliu
64. Baltimore – F Tomas Vincour
65. San Francisco – G Ben Scrivens
66. Winnipeg – D TJ Brennan
67. Farmington – F Carl Klingberg
68. Charleston – G Anders Nilsson
69. Great Lakes – F Joakim Andersson
70. Denver – D Calvin de Haan
71. South Carolina – F Aaron Palushaj
72. Saint Louis – F Nick Johnson
73. Charleston (from Boston) – D Marc-Andre Bourdon
74. Nashville – G Richard Bachman
75. El Dorado – F Jason Zucker
76. Portland – G Anton Khudobin
77. West Virginia – F Kaspars Daugavins
78. Sterling – D Matt Taormina
79. Vancouver – F Jimmy Hayes
80. Salem – D Cade Fairchild

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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Season Preview: Plante

In BAL, CHA, DEN, EDH, GLP, PIT, SAL, SCA, STE, Uncategorized, WIN on November 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The Sawchuk Conference has its powerhouses – and the last five cups. But the Plante is where all the intrigue is.

Apart from a strong Salem squad fresh off a trip to the Gump Cup Finals, the entire conference is full of dark horses – young teams, growing teams, sure, but few that are in flat-out rebuilding mode. That kind of parity makes the conference incredibly tough to call.

In – D Ryan McDonagh, F Nino Niederreiter, G Jacob Markstrom, D Michael Sauer, F Blake Geoffrion, F Teemu Hartikainen, F Brandon Prust
Out – F Evgeni Malkin, F Cal O’Reilly, D Bryan McCabe, F Darroll Powe, D Anton Stralman, F Rob Schremp, F Jamie Langenbrunner

Baltimore made the boldest move of the off-season, unloading Evgeni Malkin for all of Pittsburgh’s draft picks. That meant a pretty big personnel turnover – 7 guys in and 7 out, not counting poor Steven Kampfer, released before he even got a sniff. It’s hard to look as this as anything but a small step backwards in the short term, but any team with Anze Kopitar is poised to compensate for the loss of a player of Malkin’s calibre, and the team still has a strong core in its prime.

In – F Luke Adam, F Matt Halischuk, F Matt Calvert, D Jason Garrison, F BJ Crombeen, F Mike Knuble
Out –  G Michal Neuvirth, F Alexander Frolov, F Benoit Pouliot, F M-A Pouliot, D Kurtis Foster, D Oskars Bartulis

Charleston should be a playoff team, there should be little doubt of that. After a surprising trip to the finals led to two straight years of mediocrity, the Chiefs started rounding back into form when Steven Stamkos hit the scene. Now that they have a marquee scorer, they have a roster with few glaring weaknesses, and with Miikka Kiprusoff and Jonathan Quick splitting duties in goal, they should be one of the Plante’s better teams.

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6 Biggest Free Agent Steals Since 2006

In BAL, EDH, GLP, IHS, Special Features, STE on October 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

The Free Agent Draft. Used by most teams to fill out bottom-end depth and injury insurance, it’s also a chance for the occasional Hail Mary – take a wild swing (sorry, “intelligently allocate your scouting resources”) and you never know, you might get something good. Even the worst free agent class, especially at the notoriously shallow mid-season signing period, can yield a diamond in the rough.

Almost every Free Agent Draft has a few consensus top picks – players that every team vies for. Stephen Weiss and Martin Hanzal in 2009. Ryan Malone in 2008. Niklas Backstrom in 2007.

But let’s look past those gimmes, the obvious choices, the first rounders, and peer into the darkest depths of recent Free Agent Drafts in search of some of the biggest heists.

6. D Jan Hejda, Ice Harbor (2nd round mid-season in 2007-2008)

Hejda’s not flashy, but he’s a blueline rock on a rebuilding Ice Harbor team – a guy who’s not bad with the puck and excels defensively. And when your D is as young the Storm’s, you need players like Hejda.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
07-08  Ice Harbor Storm           39    0   12   12   -8   14
08-09  Ice Harbor Storm           59    1    6    7   -5   50
09-10  Ice Harbor Storm           82    4    9   13   -9   30
10-11  Ice Harbor Storm           62    2    8   10  -10   34
                  Totals         242    7   35   42  -32  128

5. D Dennis Seidenberg, El Dorado (5th round pre-season in 2006-2007)

El Dorado has an impressive up-and-coming defense corps and Seidenberg, a late-late-late-round steal in 2006, is a big part of it. He was taken one pick before Kris freaking Beech, but now he’s one of the Lynx’s leaders in ice time and will be for at least a few more seasons.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
03-04  Chesapeake Icebreakers     52    5    8   13  -20   12
04-06  Did Not Play
06-07  El Dorado Lynx             64    3   41   44   11   34
07-08  El Dorado Lynx             25    2    3    5    0   12
08-09  El Dorado Lynx             33    0   10   10    0   18
09-10  El Dorado Lynx             41    1   28   29    2    8
10-11  El Dorado Lynx             57    4   24   28   14   37
                  Totals         272   15  114  129    7  121

4. D Mark Streit, Colorado (2nd round pre-season in 2006-2007)

Another defenseman, it’s true, and for good reason – this 2nd round free agent draftee by Colorado (now Baltimore) is his team’s best defenseman by a wide margin, leading all Crab players in ice time and hovering around the 50-point mark for three straight seasons.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
06-07  Colorado Wildfire          39    4   13   17  -16   36
07-08  Kenora Thistles            76   13   19   32   -2   28
08-09  Kenora Thistles            79   10   38   48   -1   26
09-10  Baltimore Crab             73   16   40   56  -26   72
10-11  Baltimore Crab             82    8   41   49  -31   34
                  Totals         349   51  151  202  -76  196

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