Playoff races take shape heading into final quarter

In News on February 23, 2020 at 7:50 pm

With three-quarters of a season behind us and just 18 games left to play, the playoff races are heating up in both GWMHL conferences. A quiet mid-season trade deadline saw few moves, mostly from teams out of the playoff picture, but some contenders might wish they’d swung a deal or two now that the playoff picture is looking tight.

In the Plante Conference

With Parry Sound, El Dorado, and Salem all but inked in for the postseason in some order or another — El Dorado seized 1st this quarter — Baltimore was just two points back of Pittsburgh heading into Q3. And while the Crab’s record was mediocre (13-10-1), Pittsburgh’s was worse (11-12-1), giving Baltimore the fourth playoff berth for now. The Hornets are just two points back, though. Should be a nailbiter.

In the Sawchuk Conference

Boston’s road dominance continued in Q3 (8-2-2) and they kept their stranglehold on 1st. The big riser was Vancouver — the Night Train had a very strong quarter, going 9-1-2 on the road and leapfrogging not just Ice Harbor but Delta as well for 3rd place behind Adirondack. Delta only trails by a point and will likely make up that ground in Q4, but it leaves the Storm 7 points back and in need of a stellar Q4 to steal the final playoff spot.

San Jose’s stars leading the way

Although they’re all but out of the playoff picture, San Jose’s top forwards are dominating the individual categories. John Tavares and Steven Stamkos are 1st and 2nd in scoring with 93 and 92 points respectively, just ahead of Ice Harbor’s Sasha Barkov (91), fellow Hoser Gabriel Landeskog (90), and Parry Sound’s Connor McDavid (90). Tavares (46), Denver’s Cam Atkinson (45), El Dorado’s Alex Ovechkin (44) all seem poised to join the 50-goal club. Boston’s Mark Giordano (65) has a 9-point lead over Denver’s Keith Yandle (56) for the defenseman scoring crown, while South Side’s Brady Tkachuk still leads the rookie race with 49 points. Boston’s Ben Bishop leads all netminders in wins with 27, and is 1st in GAA (2.50) and 2nd in save percentage (.919).

Mid-Season Claims Headlined by… Ryan Graves?!

In News, Transactions on December 29, 2019 at 4:35 pm

The Mid-Season Free Agent Draft, that annual extravaganza where Gump GMs, belts already straining against holiday overindulgence, get to gorge on the league’s castaways and also-rans. This year’s draft saw the Charleston Chiefs take a flyer on defenseman Ryan Graves with the top pick. Also selected in the top five: winger Valeri Nichushkin to South Side (who had released him at preseason), Zack Kassian to Winnipeg, and defensemen Matt Roy and Brad Hunt to Denver and Hamilton, respectively.

Denver was, in fact, the only team to draft in more than two rounds, making four claims in all. Likely spurred by the acquisition of Jordan Binnington at the expense of its first round rookie pick in 2020, the Spurs loaded up on vets with the hope of climbing a few spots in the standings. Joining Denver for the remainder of the season are winger Tyler Ennis, centre Frans Nielsen, and winger Thomas Vanek.

You can find the complete list of 2019 mid-season claims here.

Denver Acquires Binnington, Ships Out Holtby

In DEN, SJH, SSR, Transactions on December 26, 2019 at 9:49 pm

They’re tied for third fewest goals for, and if you can’t put pucks in nets, you’ve gotta keep them out. That seems to be the theory behind the Denver Spurs‘ splashy Christmas Eve trade, which saw them acquire young goaltender Jordan Binnington, along with versatile forward Colton Sissons, from the South Park Renegades. In return, Denver shipped out wingers Mathieu Joseph and Auston Watson, along with its first round rookie pick in 2020.

In a separate deal, and with four goalies on the active roster, the Spurs sent one-time starter Braden Holtby to the San Jose Hosers for a 2nd rounder.