Season Preview: Sawchuk (part 2)

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2021 at 11:26 am

We conclude our four-part preseason preview with a look at the rest of the Sawchuk Conference. Missed the rest? Here they are: Plante part 1 and part 2; Sawchuk part 1.

Ice Harbor Storm

Last season: 42-37-3 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: G Spencer Knight (9), F Dylan Cozens (12), F Arthur Kaliyev (34), D Wyatt Kalynuk (78)

Notable additions: F Trevor Moore, F Victor Rask, F Sam Carrick

Notable subtractions: F Boone Jenner, F Nazem Kadri, F Kyle Turris, F Justin Williams, D Calvin De Haan, G Malcolm Subban

Analysis: Ice Harbor’s excellent depth up front — led by Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, with Alex DeBrincat, Matthew Tkachuk, Brayden Schenn, Blake Wheeler, and Sam Reinhart filling in the ranks — helped to absorb the fairly heavy losses of Nazem Kadri and Boone Jenner in the expansion draft. The team has yet to address its glut of righthanded defensemen, however, which puts perhaps unfair pressure on lefties Nick Leddy and Mike Matheson, and the team made waves by drafting Spencer Knight, which many saw as a vote of non-confidence in Carter Hart. Knight is a season away, and the team is hoping to shelter Hart with Jonathan Bernier and Linus Ullmark. The gambit could pay off. On paper, this is a playoff-caliber team — but that was true last season as well.

Player to watch: The Storm have a pretty good defensive group, but only one dynamic offensive presence in the form of Kris Letang. The Storm’s fortunes have often risen and fallen with Letang’s health. If he can play most of the season, it bodes well.

Outlook: Playoffs

Portland WinterHawks

Last season: 20-46-16 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: F Yegor Sharangovich (5), D Mikey Anderson (25), G Vitek Vanecek (47), D Jacob Bryson (69)

Notable additions: F Ryan Hartman, F Alexander Barabanov

Notable subtractions: F Blake Lizotte, F Jake Virtanen, D Matt Niskanen, D Brent Seabrook, G Jaroslav Halak

Season Preview: Sawchuk (part 1)

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2021 at 11:06 am

We now turn our attention to the 11 teams in the Sawchuk Conference. Whose turn is it to rise out of the basement to contend for the cup? If you missed them, read the previews for Plante (part 1) and Plante (part 2).

Adirondack Aces

Last season: 22-53-7 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: F Kirill Kaprizov (1), D Alexander Romanov (23), D Alexandre Carrier (45), F Wade Allison (67)

Notable additions: F Drew O’Connor, D Gustav Forsling

Notable subtractions: F Alexander Kerfoot, F Marcus Sorensen, D Dennis Cholowski, D Danny DeKeyser, D Ron Hainsey, G Devan Dubnyk

Analysis: One year after a 46-25-11 season, the Aces totally collapsed and finished with the league’s worst record. It almost defies explanation. It seems likely, then, that a rebound is on the way. For one thing, first overall pick Kirill Kaprizov is poised to step right into the top of the lineup and make an immediate impact. For another, they didn’t lose much in expansion and also managed to grab Gustav Forsling in free agency to shore up the D. Assuming Patrice Bergeron still has gas in the tank (spoiler: he does) and Roope Hintz can stay mostly healthy, they also have a formidable group down the middle, with William Karlsson and Sean Monahan in the bottom six. On paper, this team should be playoff-bound, but considering last season’s woes, calling them a bubble team is the safer bet.

Player to watch: An exceptional year from Semyon Varlamov could be enough to get Adirondack back in the postseason conversation.

Outlook: Bubble

Boston Banshees

Last season: 46-28-8 (lost in 1st round)

Draft picks: G Ilya Sorokin (17), F Michael Bunting (39), D Logan Stanley (56), F Jonah Gadjovich (70), D Niko Mikkola (82), G Stuart Skinner (83)

Notable additions: F Filip Chytil, F Robert Thomas, F Nicolas Roy, G Matt Murray

Season Preview: Plante (part 2)

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2021 at 12:56 pm

For the second of our four season previews, we take a look at the second half of the Plante Conference as we get ready to begin our 2021-22 season. Read part 1 here.

Parry Sound Orrsmen

Last season: 24-52-6 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: F Tim Stützle (4), Vitali Kravtsov (24), D Cal Foote (46), F Alexander Chmelevski (68), G Dan Vladar (79)

Notable additions: F Ivan Barbashev, F Kyle Okposo, F Rem Pitlick, D Brian Dumoulin, D Haydn Fleury

Notable subtractions: F Miles Wood, F Nick Paul, F Brendan Lemieux, F Nicholas Merkley, D Kevin Shattenkirk, D Patrik Nemeth, D Christian Djoos

Analysis: The fall and rise and fall of the Parry Sound Orrsmen is unlike anything else in GWMHL history, from the bad years that yielded Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews in consecutive drafts, to the contending years as Matthews and McDavid became dominant superstars, and now here we are again. The wheels fell off the Parry Sound wagon last season, as they finished with the conference’s worst record and allowed 382 goals, by far the most in the league. With a goaltending tandem of Thomas Greiss and Martin Jones, things might not get that much better this season. The addition of fourth overall pick Tim Stützle should add a nice dimension to the forward core of McDavid, Matthews and David Pastrnak, yet the team will also be without Alexander Radulov for the majority of the season. Expect another rough year.

Player to watch: The slow decline of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s play of late has also hurt the Orrsmen’s chances. The team will need someone else to step up if he can’t play like a #1 — can it be Justin Faulk?

Outlook: Rebuilding

Pittsburgh Hornets

Last season: 40-33-9 (lost in 2nd round)

Draft picks: G Jeremy Swayman (16), F Ty Dellandrea (38), D Zac Jones (60)

Notable additions: F Sam Gagner, G Anton Khudobin, G Ville Husso

Notable subtractions: F Nick Bonino, F Vinnie Hinostroza, F Brett Connolly, D Brady Skjei, D Travis Hamonic, G Matt Murray

%d bloggers like this: