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Season Preview: Plante West

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2020 at 7:03 pm

Our fourth and final division preview covers the Plante West, one of the league’s more intriguing divisions. Can El Dorado match its success from last year (before losing in the cup final, that is)? Will Parry Sound finally get over the hump and turn regular season success into a championship? Can Baltimore turn its big 2020 draft lottery win into a resurgence?

You can read the other three previews here: Plante East, Sawchuk West, Sawchuk East.


Parry Sound Orrsmen

Last season: 45-26-11 (lost in second round)

Draft picks: F Emil Bemstrom (18), F Egor Korshkov (81)

Notable additions: F Emil Bemstrom, F Nick Paul, D Christian Djoos, D Christian Jaros

Notable subtractions: F Micheal Ferland, D Andy Greene, D Andrej Sekera, G Ryan Miller

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Season Preview: Sawchuk West

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Welcome to the Sawchuk West, home of the contending Delta Sturgeon and then a big blob of teams that are all pretty good with very little to separate them from each other. But we’ll try anyway.

Missed the first two previews? Read them here and here.


Delta Sturgeon

Last season: 44-26-12 (lost in second round)

Draft picks: F Liam Foudy (22), F Yakov Trenin (53), F Matthew Highmore (65), F Alexander True (88)

Notable additions: F Nick Foligno, F Colton Sceviour

Notable subtractions: F Dylan Strome, F Nate Thompson, F Valentin Zykov, F Kyle Okposo, D Alex Goligoski

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Season Preview: Plante East

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2020 at 2:20 pm

This is the second in our series of division-by-division season previews. Read the preview for the Sawchuk East division here.

The Plante East is a division in flux, as it may soon be time for longtime powerhouse Salem to pass the torch to one of its up-and-coming rivals. But which team is the most ready to take that step in 2020-21?


Salem Sabercats

Last season: 44-26-12 (lost in first round)

Draft picks: D Kale Clague (50), D Martin Fehervary (60), F Mitchell Stephens (82)

Notable additions: F David Perron, F Mitchell Stephens

Notable subtractions: F Nicklas Backstrom, F Anders Bjork, G Oscar Dansk

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Season Preview: Sawchuk East

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2020 at 7:32 pm

What better way to start our series of division-by-division season previews with the Sawchuk East, home of the defending champs, the Boston Banshees? This division is tough to predict, with a jumble of bubble teams out of which any one or two could emerge. It also features one team we predict rising from the basement to contender status.


Boston Banshees

Last season: 57-17-8 (won Gump Cup)

Draft picks: G Cayden Primeau (34), D Timothy Liljegren (42), D Nicolas Beaudin (44), F Julien Gauthier (47)

Notable additions: F Erik Haula, F Radek Faksa, F Danton Heinen, F Colton Sissons, D Matthew Dumba, G Anton Khudobin

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Trade Deadline: Falcons Add Perry

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Corey Perry is the latest victim of the West Virginia River Rats’ rebuild. The winger, who has 12 goals and 27 points in 40 games so far this season, is off to Winnipeg in exchange for a first round pick in 2017.

It’s the second big deadline move for the Falcons, who are in the thick of the playoff hunt. Perry will likely join Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on a potent top line. Meanwhile, the River Rats now have three picks in the first round of the next rookie draft.

5 Earth-Shaking Deals of the Off-Season

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2016 at 9:48 am

It was an active trade season for Gump GMs, with many minor deals (see them all here) and several huge ones.

What the always-active Boston Banshees had in sheer volume, the West Virginia River Rats made up for with impact. Unloading core players was a risky gamble, but one the Rats needed to make. And, as you’ll see, several of those moves could have a lasting effect on the GWMHL.

5) Charleston trades Jaromir Jagr, Rick Nash, and a ’16 4th rounder (which Charleston would eventually reacquire) for Jason Zucker, Luke Schenn, and a ’16 3rd (Nick Paul)

Mere moments after Baltimore capped off its championship run, the Boston Banshees stepped back into the limelight. Jagr and Nash don’t exactly make Boston younger, but they solidify the Banshees’ top six in a big way — and, of course, the move paved the way for an epic series of Boston deals to come.

4) Boston trades Max Pacioretty and a ’17 2nd rounder to El Dorado for a ’16 1st (Matt Murray) and ’16 2nd (Radek Faksa)

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The 6 Biggest Surprises at Midseason

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2016 at 9:40 am

With 40 games in the books, here are the 6 stories of the season so far that really turned our heads.

6) Ryan Ellis (Boston Banshees)

While he plays in the shadow of Erik Karlsson, Ellis leads all blueliners with 15 goals.

5) Nick Foligno (Boston Banshees)

While we’re on the subject of the Banshees, Nick Foligno – a bottom-sixer for most of his Gump career – leads the league in points with 57.

4) Mark Stone (Vancouver Night Train) and Mike Hoffman (Winnipeg Falcons)

The two highest scoring rookies so far this season were both 4th round picks – Mark Stone at 61st overall in 2013 and Mike Hoffman at 62nd a year later.

3) Max Pacioretty (Boston Banshees)

Another Banshee? Boston leads the league in goals, so it’s no surprise they’re well-represented, but what’s amazing about Pacioretty is that all but two of his league-leading 31 goals have come at even strength.

2) Steve Mason (Winnipeg Falcons)

Alongside Vancouver’s Pekka Rinne, Steve Mason has some of the best stats among goalies so far this season. With a GAA of 1.99 and save percentage of .940, this 2012 free agent draftee has gone from the lost-and-found bin to starter status. Which leads us to…

1) The Winnipeg Falcon

Led by Mason, and Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn up front, the Falcons are currently second in the Plante Conference. After 10 straight seasons of failing to qualify for the playoffs, could this be their year?

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.

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.

Lehtera Kicks Off Preseason Free Agent Draft

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2015 at 9:18 am

The 2015 Preseason Free Agent Draft, consisting of unsigned veterans and prospects, has drawn to a close.

This year’s draft was led off by Finnish centre Jori Lehtera, who was chosen first overall by the New England Whalers, where he joins a deep group up the middle highlighted by Henrik Sedin, Sean Monahan, and Patrice Bergeron. Goaltender Andrew Hammond went second (to South Carolina) while winger Kris Versteeg rounded out the top three (to Delta).

Notably, not a single defenseman was chosen until pick #11, with just three blueliners finding new teams in the entire first round.

Also of note, both goaltenders chosen in the first round – Hammond and Reto Berra – have already been traded.

See the complete results here.