GWMHL

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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)

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Plante Preview – West (Hieronymus P. Martin) (Prior to 10/1 trades)

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm

S CAROLINA FIRE ANTS

Notable Additions: David Pastrnak
Notable Subtractions: None.
Forwards:
Overall, this is an older group with some youngsters sprinkled in. Jiri Hudler, Tyler Ennis and Alex Tanguay will be asked to shoulder much of the scoring burden while the younger players continue to improve. Kuznetzov, Johansson are moving in the right direction and could be the future offensive stars of this team. Most of the forwards are rounded out with physical players (Milan Lucic), and more good but not great scoring punch (Oshie, Hansen, Boyes). While they don’t have the top end guys, their 9-12 guys provide more overall offense than most clubs. David Pastrnak (just drafted) provides a potential top line forward for the future.
Grade: B
Defense:
The Fire ants have some serious problems on the blueline. Trevor Daley brings some offensive punch, and Justin Faulk provides top level 2-way play, but beyond that only the aging Zbynek Michalek is a legitimate Top 4 defenseman (good shutdown guy). The rest of the defense is really suspect with perhaps Braydon Coburn being the best of the remaining. This club seriously needs to upgrade their defense as Salo looks like he’ll be retiring, Gonchar is far from a spring chicken and Fistric is really not an NHL caliber player.
Grade: D
Goaltending:
Marc-Andre Fleury is the undisputed #1, and provides solid goaltending for the Fire Ants. However, Evgeni Nabokov as the backup no longer is a workable proposition. South Carolina will need to address the backup role at some point in the year, but at least they’re starting with Fleury – which isn’t bad.
Grade: B-
Expectations:
This team will score a lot of goals, and be competitive in a lot of games. However, unless they seriously upgrade their defense, a playoff berth seems far-fetched.

EL DORADO LYNX
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: Jay Bouwmeester, Victor Rask
Notable Subtractions: None.

Forwards:
Alex Ovechkin, James van Riemsdyk and Brandon Saad are established scorers on the wing. However, where most teams have strength (Center) there are many question marks for El Dorado. Ryan Kesler and Valteri Filpulla are the top 2 pivots, but neither is a #1. Behind them are some solid 2-way players, but other than Teuvo Teravainen and Viktor Rask, there don’t appear to be any other potential top 6 scorers on the club. There is no question that the Lynx are going to struggle to score. The way things look now, the top line will end up scoring maybe 40% of the team total.
Grade: C

Defense:
The defense is solid, but unspectacular – although the addition of Jay Bouwmeester makes them much tougher to play against. While they did score a respectable number of goals as a group, they just don’t get enough pucks on net, and their shooting percentage seems unsustainable. Only Jack Johnson can be considered an offensive threat at this point in time. Still, Johhny Oduya, Marc Stall, Eric Brewer, and Jeff Petry round out a nice blend of speed and size. They will certainly be tough to score against.
Grade: B+

Goaltending:
The ultimate 1a/1b in GUMP. Carey Price and Tukka Rask are an insane duo in net for the Lynx, and will keep them close even if they can’t score as much as in the past. For that reason, and the defense, this is definitely a team that will be hard to score against. Low scoring games with special teams will rule the day for the Lynx.
Grade: A+
Expectations:

While they do not possess the goal scoring talent they once did, the Lynx are still a formidable club on the backend and in Net. They will be hard to play night in and night out, and will manage to get into the playoffs due to their defense and goaltending. Good luck anyone on taking a season series from these guys.

CHARLESTON CHIEFS
Made Playoffs

Notable Additions: Dion Phaneuf,
Notable Subtractions: None
Forwards:
The team as constructed boasts 2 of the Top Goal scorers in GUMP like the Chiefs do with Steven Stamkos and Rick Nash. Helping dish the puck is Anze Kopitar, a top all around pivot and David Backes who is also an excellent 2-way player. Those 4 provide the main punch for the club, with the rest of the lineup really being a supporting cast including the ageless Jaromir Jagr. Lots of veterans with a few youngsters sprinkled in, this is a much better defensive forward corps than most clubs, but they still have punch with 11 players with 10+ goals (excluding their big 4). They will expose teams with a weak defense as they can score up and down the lineup.
Grade: B+

Defense:
The addition of veteran Dion Phaneuf adds an edge – and yes offense! However, the group is loaded with veterans that know how to defend, and still have a physical edge. There are also a LOT of them, and likely to be some hard fought battles for icetime. Boasting veterans Matt Carle, Brooks Orpik, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Michael del Zotto they are deep and solid. This will allow them to keep the youngsters to limited time and let them develop without hurting the team now. The only theing this group lacks is the blueline tandem to really make the Power Play work. Jason Garrison and Del Zotto look to be the powerplay quarterbacks, but beyond that there really isn’t a top notch puck mover.
Grade: B
Goaltending:
A very good tandem here with Sergei Bobrovsky and Johnathan quick. Between the two of them, they will have solid play night in and night out, and if either one hits a cold streak, the other can easily step in. With the blueline as constructed, and the goalies they have, they will certainly be in the top half of the league in GAA.
Grade: B+

Expectations:
This is a playoff calibre team – but can they do it in this division. It feels like it will come down to their series against the Lynx, as I expect them to be neck and neck. It doesn’t seem possible that the Baltimore offensive juggernaut can be stopped, and that makes it harder for another team to make the playoffs. Close, but I think they will get edged out unless they get a few bounces.

GREAT LAKES PILOTS

Notable Additions: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Notable Subtractions: Roberto Luongo
Forwards:
Overall, the Pilots have some good pieces here. Ryan Getzlaf is one of the premier Centermen in the leadue, and Scott Hartnell, Taylor Hall, and Tyler Bozak can be considered top 6 material. However, beyond that there is potential, but the next wave of scorers just isn’t there yet. Derek Roy, Riley Sheahan and Tommy Wingels will try to hold the fort while the youth infusion tries to make an impact. Tomas Hertl and Ryan Spooner are probably the next best potential scorers, and Vladislav Namestikov also has potential. Overall though, they’re light on scoring , and I don’t think Getzlaf can make more than 1 line good here.

Grade: C

Defense:
The defense is solid overall, but they will need to eventually replace the aging Stephane Robidas. They have some established veterans with Ryan Suter, Danny Dekeyser , Jake Gardiner and Nick Leddy providing a legitimate top 4. However, things drop off after that as the only established players left are not really great 3rd pair material (Marco Scandella – good, Stephane Robidas – bad). This is an area that will need to be addressed, but Ryan Suter eats minutes like Phil Kessel eats hot dogs, so that should allow them to shield the 3rd pair somewhat.

Grade: B

Goaltending:
With only Brian Elliott and rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy in the fold, it’s likely that the Pilots will need to make a move for another goaltender at some point. While the current pairing looks good on paper, Elliot has had injury issues off and an and Vasilevskiy is not yet ready for a lot of starts. So, it’s OK now, but we’ll have to see what happens to really get a gauge on the goaltending situation.

Grade: C
Expectations:
This is a team that will be competitive night in and night out, but the defense is good, not great. The scoring is OK, not great and the goaltending (what’s here) is good, not great. All in all they won’t get enough of the wins they need in the division, and they’ll likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

BALTIMORE CRAB

Notable Additions: Karl Alzner, Johnathan Drouin, Marian Hossa, Ryan Callahan
Notable Subtractions: None
Forwards:
This is a team that has built an enviable amount of talent through the draft. With almost superstars, young players ready to burst out, and almost all reasonable 2 way players, this is the premier scoring team in the league. It’s an almost All-Star team: Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg, Tomas Tatar, Jaden Schwartz, and veteran 2-way wizard Marian Hossa round out a lethal top 6 that is young, and will get better as someone makes a push past Hossa. While only Tarasenko and Johnson are considered top players in the league now, it won’t be long for others to join them.
Grade: A+

Defense:
This is also a strong group with some young players ready to break out and become elite players. They’re not there yet but they will be soon. There is a good blend of speed, passing and skating ability, and they’ll be able to trot out a legitimate 6 skaters that can be top 4 on most clubs. Ryan McDonagh and Johnny Boychuk are the anchors. Recently acquired Karl Alzner, and Zach bogosion will help out, but the biggest remaining pieces, and potential stars are the pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. Overall, they’re not a huge group, but they can really move the puck and skate. They will have 2 lethal Powerplay units.
Grade: A

Goaltending:
Antti Niemi and Jonas Enroth are currently in net. A bit pedestrian (neither is an average GUMP goalie), but with Niemi getting the bulk of the starts, and an offense that is off the charts, they should overcome the weakness here. Still it certainly is a tandem that can be better.
Grade: D

Expectations:
Although their goaltending is weak, it would be a shock if the Crab did not make the playoffs. The offense (forwards and defense) is just too lethal. They can’t all slump all year long – and it’s talented scoring up and down the roster. This team will be almost impossible to stop offensively and that will carry them into the playoffs.

Plante Preview – East (Hieronymus P. Martin)

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

SALEM SABERCATS
Defending 3-time champions
Notable Additions: Jason Demers, Bo Horvat, Andre Burakovsky, Scott Darling
Notable Subtractions: Dan Boyle (D), Eric Gelinas, Jaroslav Halak

Forwards:
Salem has been a powerhouse for years, and they still have tremendous depth at the Center position boasting Nicklas Backstrom, Logan Couture, Jeff Carter and Pavel Datsyuk. However, the rest of the wingers while experienced are starting to drop off a bit..notably Patrick Marleau, Patrick Sharp and Loui Eriksson. The only notable youngster at wing who is making a splash is Gustav Nyquist, but the rest of the forward corps is not real strong. However, they did draft Bo Horvat and Andre Burakovsky – which significantly upgrades the bottom 6 in their lineup.
Grade: B


Defense:

The defense on the other hand has a great combination of offensive skills, experience and youth. Leading the way is the quartet of Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, Anton Stralman and Torey Krug. As solid a top 4 as you will find in GUMP. The 5-6 spots are a bit rough, but newly acquired Jason Demers, Eric Gryba and James Wisniewski look to fill those in pretty well. Overall this is a high scoring defense, able to spread the minutes around and create a true shutdown tandem when necessary.
Grade : A-

Goaltending:
Carrying 4 goalies on the roster, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they moved 1 to try and shore up their forwards. But, with the Trio of Frederik Anderson (solid), Craig Anderson (good but injured often) and Scott Darling (above average backup) they certainly have the bodies in place to be solid at goal. Not top tier, but very respectable. One of the future ‘tenders, Niklas Svedberg will be fighting for icetime if Salem carries 4 goalies into the season.
Grade : B

Expectations:
Salem has been a powerhouse for years, but this looks like a year where they will have to fight harder for a playoff berth. While Salem made some aggressive moves, other teams in the division have made upgrades or player development is on the upswing. When the last weeks of the season are upon us, Salem will be in the mix for a playoff spot, but it will be a toss-up whether they get in or not. If they do, it will because their Defense played outstanding hockey – and they will be dangerous!

PITTSBURGH HORNETS
Made Conference Final
Notable Additions: Anthony Duclair
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
Evgeny Malkin and Bryan Little lead the club up front, giving a powerful 1-2 punch at the Center position. Lots of young players are starting to mature, making their mark in the league including Alex Galchenyuk, Nik Bonino and Ryan Strome. This club has good offensive punch through the first 3 lines, but not truly elite scoring. Still when Evgeni Malkin is on your club, it’s hard not to be above average.
Rounding out the club are some very solid 2-way wingers (Joel Ward, Brandon Sutter). Anthony Duclair has yet to prove himself at the NHL level, but has strong upside.
Grade: B

Defense:
This could be the last year together for this group. Victor Hedman is the cornerstone of the club and along with Slava Voynov provides a solid first pairing. Andy Greene provides veteran leadership and a physical edge to the club. After them, there is a much younger group of players trying to fit their way into GUMP and make an impact. Dmitri Kulikov and Travis Hamonic lead that group, but overall the defense lacks scoring punch and shutdown ability.
Grade: C

Goaltending:
With Ben Bishop and Petr Mrazek splitting duties, this is a very solid and consistent pairing for the club. It’s not the best in the league, but is very solid and will do well this season. Can they provide that consistency with a mediocre defense? If so, this is a playoff team.
Grade: B

Expectations:
Really hard to say how this team will do this year. They’re a middle of the pack scoring team, middle of the pack Goaltending team, and a defense that probably won’t keep the puck out of the net enough. In some divisions that wouldn’t be as big an issue, but there are some seriously top notch scorers in this conference, and they will be exposed. Playoffs?

SOUTHSIDE ICE RENEGADES

Notable Additions: Alexei Emelin, Melker Karlsson, Jyrki Jokkipakka, Darnell Nurse
Notable Subtractions: Dmitry Orlov

Forwards:
Southside has only a few established NHL’ers with high offensive skill. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Hornqvist lead the way with up an coming Mika Zibanajed providing most of the offensive punch. Unfortunately, beyond that the cupboard is a bit bare. Ryan O’Reilly is established as a solid 2-way player, but will his offense ever become enough to be a first line player? Same with Rickard Rackell. The Ice Renegades will struggle to put 2 solid scoring lines on the ice night after night, let alone 3. This team will need some help via trades or draft to challenge for a playoff spot.
Grade: C-

Defense:
The defense on the other hand has a VERY good core of defensemen, with all under 30. Jonas Brodin, Mike Green, Seth Jones and Jake Muzzin are reliable defenders and have good offensive skill. Klein and the recently acquired Emelin will round out the top 6, making this a very capable defense corp that will help keep them in games.
Grade: B+

Goaltending:
With Braden Holtby as the main man, the Ice Renegades are set for years to come with a top 10 GUMP starter. Carter Hutton is not your ideal backup, but since he will only play a fraction of games, it’s not a large concern for a club that looks to have Holtby start over 70 games this year. Overall, this has to be seen as the strength of the club, and Holtby can steal 5+ games per year for them.
Grade: A

Expectations:
There is much to like on this team Defensively, but can they score enough goals? Usually in GUMP, you need to roll at least 2 lines that can pot 60+ goals to have a chance for the playoffs. In this respect they fall short. But the defense and Goaltending is certainly above average and will help mitigate that. Ultimately, it looks like it’s too much to ask of them to drag this team to the playoffs. They will be competitive, but it doesn’t look like the playoffs are in the cards.

WINNIPEG FALCONS
Notable Additions: Adam Lowry, Calvin Pickard
Notable Subtractions: None

Forwards:
With Tyler Seguin (quack!) & Jamie Benn the Falcons boast one of the premiere 1-2 punches in the league. Mike Hoffman, Michael Frolik, young Zemgus Girgensons and (still good) setup man Mike Ribeiro make sure that there is secondary scoring AND people to get the puck to Seguin and Benn. After that, there is a pretty steep falloff in offense, although the other forwards are all defensively responsible, and they shouldn’t be a hindrance to the club. Overall a solid group and age is not that much of a problem at this point. Adam Lowry adds grit and some potential to rise to a 2nd line scoring winger.
Grade: A-

Defense:
A top 3 of Dan Girardi, Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba is very good indeed. After that there is a significant falloff though as Zidlicky, Lovejoy and Mark Stuart look to round out the top 6. Zidlicky is still an effective PP QB, but needs to be protected defensively at this point in his career. The top 3 need to eat a lot of minutes to cover for the others though. Overall, some fine pieces in play, but this league has a long history of exposing weak defensive pairs, and that will be a problem for the Falcons.
Grade: C+

Goaltending:
Steve Mason comes in on a bounce back year, and looks to put up VERY good numbers. Jake Allen is the up and coming Goalie every club likes to have. Thomas Greiss is a solid backup for insurance, but they drafted Calvin Pickard to push him in camp. Unfortunately, it looks like Josh Harding will no longer be able to play, but their depth at the position renders that point moot. Overall this is a top tier group, and will be asked to bail out the weak 3rd pair all season long. They can do it too!
Grade: A

Expectations:
This is a tough call. Year in and year out, clubs with a weak bottom 2 are exposed, and this club has a weak bottom 3. But the goaltending is so, so solid. With a top 6 that can score as well as anyone in the league, they have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs. In this division, I think they have enough and will squeak in.

DENVER SPURS
Notable Additions: Roman Polak, Scottie Upshall
Notable Subtractions: Josh Bailey

Forwards:
This is a team with a split between veterans : Matt Duchene, Lecavalier, Briere and Zach Parise and the up and comers (Carl Hagelin, Lindon Vey, Riley Nash, Benoit Pouliot). Between the groups, there is reasonable scoring potential, and the drop off from there is large, but still productive. This is a team with a scoring by committee approach as they only have a single 30 and single 20 goal scorer. All the others will need to have above average seasons to give this team the scoring punch they need. That being said, the forwards will be hard to play against, but just won’t be able to muster the pop they need. There’s a good chance this will end up being the lowest scoring team in the league.
Grade: D

Defense:
The Spurs boast 2 of the top offensive D-Men in the league in Kevin Shattenkirk and Keith Yandle. If Shattenkirk can stay healthy, they will have a very good top PP unit. The problem comes after those 2 players as the remaining guys (aging Jan Hejda, Willie Mitchell, Brian Campbell) are not top 4 players at this juncture of their careers. Olli Maatta has huge potential, but his early career has been marred by injuries.
Grade: D

Goaltending:
Goaltending is a strength of this club, with arguably the best in the league. Semyon Varlamov, Jonas Hiller and Cam Talbot will fight it out and the coach will tend to go with the hot hand. Having any of these 3 in net will give the Spurs a chance to win every night. That’s good – because they’re not going to score a ton of even strength goals.
Grade: A

Expectations:
In this division, they simply do not have the scoring to keep up with their rivals. No matter how good the offense is, you have to score sometime. In addition, they look to have a somewhat porous defense, and will have difficulties keeping the puck out of the net even with their goaltending. Nothing is impossible, but the playoffs seem out of reach this season.

3 Winners from Draft Day 2015

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2015 at 1:16 pm

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And with Draft Day 2015 now behind us, it’s time to look at the big winners of the day. Sure, this is the GWMHL – we’re all winners in our special way. Except not really. Not at all.

1) San Jose
More isn’t always better, and it might seem strange to call a team that jettisoned several key veterans a “winner”, but the San Jose Hosers needed a change and made it happen. The Hosers had nine picks in the draft, including five in the top two rounds, and made them count. Sure, the loss of Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester will hurt, but San Jose reloaded with bluechippers like John Klingberg and Derrick Pouliot and could afford to take a chance on some long shots in the later rounds.

2) Salem
Stop winning already, Salem! Fresh off a Gump Cup threepeat, the Sabercats made a splash in the first round, picking up the 10th overall pick from Portland for pieces that were mostly redundant on its deep roster and using it to draft Andre Burakovsky. Then Bo Horvat fell all the way to Salem’s 17th pick. The rest of the draft? Doesn’t even matter. A strong team just grabbed two pieces that will be key as its veterans begin to retire.

3) Denver
Nope, not Delta! While the Sturgeon pretty much solved its defense problem in one go with the first-round acquisitions of Aaron Ekblad and Damon Severson, the Spurs didn’t have the benefit of the 1st overall pick and yet filled out its thin ranks with forwards like Curtis Lazar, Cedric Paquette, Josh Jooris, Jiri Sekac, and more. Time will tell if there are any world-beaters there, but for a team that could well be asking Joffrey Lupul to do first line duty, it was a big day.

San Jose Kicks Off Rebuild, Deals Phaneuf and Bouwmeester

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm

The trade-happy Boston Banshees got things started on draft day, but the San Jose Hosers did most of the work, dealing arguably its top two defensemen and making four trades as kicked off a rebuild.

2015 draft day trades

  • Boston dealt a 3rd rounder and faceoff specialist Manny Malhotra to San Jose for defensive centre Paul Gaustad. The Hosers took Phillip Danault with the pick.
  • San Jose traded its longtime blueline anchor Dion Phaneuf to Charleston for a 1st rounder, using it to draft young defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
  • – Minutes later, San Jose also moved Jay Bouwmeester to El Dorado for a 2nd, which would become Shayne Gostisbehere.
  • – Salem added Portland‘s 1st rounder in exchange for goalie Jaroslav Halak, defenseman Eric Gelinas and a 3rd. Salem used the 1st to get Andre Burakovsky while Portland drafted Petteri Lindbohm with the 3rd.
  • – After grabbing Aaron Ekblad and Damon Severson in the first round, Delta sent Jason Demers to Salem for a 2nd, which it used to draft Nikita Nesterov.
  • San Jose added Nikita Nikitin from Vancouver for a 4th rounder (Ronalds Kenins).