WOW-Thoughts on June 29,2016 NHL Deals

In case you missed it, three huge things happened yesterday. Adam Larsson went to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Taylor Hall. Next,  P.K. Subban went to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. Finally, Steven Stamkos, as i predicted  signed on for eight more years with the Tampa Bay Lighting. Wow, if only these moves happened, then this would be one of the biggest offseasons in NHL history and we are not even at July 1 yet. Free agency has not even opened up yet. The rest of this offseason promises to be fun and entertaining.

First, Taylor Hall was undersold in how good he is. Since he was drafted he has been the Oilers’ most reliable forward routinely putting up strong seasons in spite of all the losing. Hall does have defensive issues but is one of the best goal scoring playmaking forwards in the game. In coach John Hynes’ defensive system Hall’s defensive numbers will improve. Playing in front of Cory Schneider will certainly help as well. Adam Larsson is a solid defenseman but not worth Taylor Hall.

Second, the blockbuster trade of the day is the Subban for Weber swap. Both teams are getting elite defenseman. However, Weber is a few years older and has a long term contract that will see the Habs on the hook for a cap hit of nearly eight million dollars when he is forty years old. Subban will only cost the Predators nine million dollars against the cap for six more years. P.K will be 33 when his contract expires. Nashville won this deal handily. While both defenseman are elite, Subban will retain his value for longer than Weber will.

Finally, Steven Stamkos re signed with Tampa. In my original article, I suggested that if winning was his aim then Tampa was best for him. Tampa is a Stanley Cup winner waiting to happen for this upcoming season. They have great depth, great young talent, and superb goalies. All of these moves showed us one thing. We have no idea what is coming up this offseason, except that it will be outstanding to watch and see where other stars like Kyle Okposo end up.


Three Random Thoughts Before Free Agency

With three full days remaining until free agency, here are a few thoughts about some recent moves and the draft. Free agency itself will be an exciting time trying to figure out where star players like Steven Stamkos and Kyle Okposo will sign.

  1. Andrew Shaw should not carry a cap hit higher than Brendan Gallagher. While Shaw plays a great two way game, he does not produce offensively like Gallagher does. Shaw has never broken 40 points in any of his NHL seasons. Gallagher has scored 40 or more points the past three years. Last year, Brendan had 40 points in 53 games played. I understand that Shaw is worth a fair amount of money. He does an excellent job screening goalies,winning puck battles and killing penalties. Gallagher plays tougher minutes not paired with a linemate like Johnathan Toews than Shaw does and is worth more points per game than Shaw is. The Habs have the cap room however, this is a contract that will directly impact their future.How much remains to be seen. If this was a one or two year deal,it would make more sense to me.Six is too many years for Shaw.
  2. Well done Arizona Coyotes.The team was able to sign backup extraordinaire Louis Domingue to a two year pact.For just over one million dollars for two years the Coyotes have a strong goalie that can start for periods of time. Domingue won 15 games last year. Although he did not finish with a winning record (15-18-4), he saved over 91 percent of shots faced and kept the Coyotes in a lot of games they should not have been in at all. Domingue set himself up to be the starter next season if Mike Smith is selected in the Las Vegas Expansion Draft.
  3. My Stamkos prediction? Well, although Detroit traded the contract of Pavel Datsyuk for more cap room, and other teams want to talk to him, Stamkos will end up back with the Lightning. Tampa Bay does not have to offer him as much as the other teams courting him. Florida has no personal income tax. Beyond that, the Lightning are at the beginning of a potential dynasty. This team was two games away from another Stanley Cup in 2015. If the team can find a way to keep Victor Hedman it has the potential to make the Stanley Cup Finals every season over the next four to five years. Is that true of Buffalo? No, that squad is good but not there quite yet. Is that true of Detroit? Maybe, but what happens if Mrazek does not have another stellar year and Zetterberg is injured again? Is that true of Toronto? No, that squad will be at that level if everything goes right in four to five years. The Lighting made it to the Eastern Conference Final without a lot of help from Stamkos. He was injured. This squad has the depth to win now. None of his rumored suitors have what they do.






110 Reasons to Love Hockey: 107-The Players

Reason #107:

Today’s reason to love hockey is favorite players. During the course of the short time, we have been running this blog, I have had the honor to interview my favorite past University of North Dakota player, Aaron Dell. He played for UND when I was going to school at the university the first time in 2010. The reason he is one of my favorite players is because of how much work he has put in since college.Dell has succeeded and earned a contract in the NHL based on his hard work and outstanding play in the AHL. I am looking forward to seeing what is going to happens when free agency opens up on the first of July.

One of my current UND players, I would have to say is Austin Poganski. I remember my first game last season back at the Ralph Englestad Arena. It was such an exciting game that ended with a penalty shot. Everything was electric, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

We want to hear who your favorite players and why. Let us know in the comments!

Reasons to Love Hockey:108-The Fans

Today, with the NHL Draft now finished, it is a good time to talk about another reason why I love hockey. The fans. Hockey fans are some of the most intelligent, and passionate people I know. We are always looking for more knowledge. No matter your team you always want to learn more. When I first really started following hockey around the time I had decided to go to North Dakota, I saw the Stanley Cup between New Jersey and Los Angeles. It was awesome. Ever since then, I  have wanted to learn more about different teams,players,strategies,and so many other things from all around the world. I was incredibly lucky to go to college at UND. Seeing Derek Forbort’s point shot to tie the game against Alaska Anchorage with under one minute to play in the third period was my first great in person hockey moment. The Ralph Englestad Arena shook even louder than it did when Austin Poganski sent 12,000 fans home happy against Duluth with his game winning penalty shot in overtime.

Fans,today’s question is what was  your first hockey moment? It can be in person viewing, or watching on tv. Let us know in the comments.

Reasons to Love Hockey:109

Only 109 days until the San Jose Sharks try for their first Stanley Cup once again. Here is another reason why we love hockey.

The underdog stories!

Every year we see stories like Joe Pavelski lighting up the league. Pavelski is a seventh round draft pick from the University of Wisconsin. No one expected him to do this well. One of the best goalies in NHL history is Ed Belfour. Eddie the Eagle was not drafted and went on to have a great career. This year, two of UND’s best players in Troy Stecher and Drake Caggiula were not drafted. They both signed NHL deals.

UND’s third string goalie alum Tate Maris has won multiple games in the ECHL after not starting a game since his junior hockey days.We think Tate deserves a full time role somewhere in pro hockey this season.

His successor, Matt Hrynkiw won ten games for UND this year and saved their season once Cam Johnson and Matej Tomek could not play due to injury.

Comment below with some of your favorite underdog stories in hockey.The best part is, no one is wrong. The stars shine bright in hockey. Talent arises to the surface in the best players no matter their draft status.

NHL Draft-First Round Thoughts

Here are some brief thoughts after day one of the draft. Day two begins today at noon eastern.

1.Where were all those magical trades we were hearing about beforehand? Seems to me like the rumors were oversold as most are yearly.

2. I am surprised the Avalanche chose Tyson Jost over Logan Brown. Both are good players,however Brown seems ready to jump to the NHL now. Jost will play at least one year at North Dakota.

3.Why on earth did the Blue Jackets not take Jesse Puljujarvi? They selected a great player in Pierre-Luc Dubois, however Jesse could have helped them win sooner than Dubois. Jesse has proven himself in a professional league against players older than him. In addition, the Finnish forward showed he did not need Sebastian Aho to play well at the U18 Worlds in Grand Forks.

4. Edmonton still wins something at the draft. It’s Edmonton of course. They pick up an outstanding two-way forward with a rocket shot and precision passing. Imagine trying to stop a line with Puljujarvi, Connor McDavid,and Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. Good luck. Edmonton should look to bolster their defensive prospect pool on day two.

5. St. Louis got fleeced. I understand Elliot has one year left on his deal. He seemed to have a lot of cold streaks during the season. On the other hand, this guy lead the team to the playoffs multiple times and often was playing against teams like the Sharks that used physical play to wear down the Blues defense. Calgary has plenty of A- to B+ prospects the Blues should have asked for in addition to these two (3rd in 2018 is conditional) picks.

6. Props to the Washington Capitals. The team was able to pick up a draft pick from the Blues in the third round for losing a mere two spots. This trade evens out with the horrendous Mike Weber deal completed around the trade deadline. The Capitals used their pick to get a strong offensive defenseman from the WHL in Lucas Johansen.

7.The Johansen pick gives the Capitals a strong offensive defenseman that has some speed. Hopefully Caps fans see him in the AHL soon. Johansen could make the NHL in a few years if he finishes strong in the WHL and impresses at Hershey. The Capitals have a history with picking strong WHL defenders and they know what they are getting out of that league.

8.Dear Jets fans, I know Logan Stanley was not your first choice with your second first rounder. The tweets last night and today have made that quite clear. What if and stay with me, he becomes a top four defenseman? Would that justify the pick? Top two? What makes you happy here? In my mind the Jets drafted someone with the potential to provide a physical stay at home presence when paired with a guy like Jacob Trouba. Best case, in two years Stanley is pushing for NHL time and playing the stay at home yin to an offensive defenseman’s yang. There is a huge value to that. Worst case, career AHL player with a Joe Finley career path. Give Stanley time. I have no problem with the risk for the Jets because of the reward. Scoring wise it may not show, but the Jets will benefit if Stanley can improve his skating and movement. If he can’t  then all it means is you took a risk for a player and it did not turn out the way you wanted.That happens to teams every single year. The draft,regardless of sport, is an imperfect art. When drafting 18 and 19 year olds who will (minus the usual few) take at least a year and sometimes three to four to develop, this selection process becomes even more imperfect. If in four years Stanley does not play at least 20 games in the NHL feel free to let the bust label fly. Until then, enjoy watching him develop and seeing where his career goes.

UND Fighting Hawks Logo Thoughts

Let’s clear some things up first. I am a UND graduate writing this article. I do think that this whole nickname process with the committees, votes, and re-votes and all that went into it showed that this community cares about UND a lot. No one argued for or against the Fighting Hawks name and logo out of malice, we all care about the University of North Dakota first. This process lead to a series of votes picking a name a lot of people seemed to not like. I get that, no nickname to some can replace Fighting Sioux. To others, the name was considered to be offensive. The reason we are even looking at this logo and the Fighting Hawks name was a result of that group of others including the NCAA. If UND was still named the Fighting Sioux then UND would be playing under sanctions in the NCAA and not allowed to host events like the 2015 and 2017 West Regionals in Fargo. The 2015 version cast the entire state of North Dakota in a wonderful light and showcased top level college hockey. I have no doubts that this next regional will do the same thing.

All of that being said, the logo unveiled, to me is good. Is it the best logo? No. Is it horrible, no. I like the logo because it shows the bird pushing forward into the future. In addition, the eye is right about on where Grand Forks is in the state of North Dakota. It shows that this University values itself as the flagship school. Those are my main reasons for liking it purely on aesthetics. As we move forward, the Hawk will be the sole logo without the ND background. I am ok with this. We have spent a long time playing under just the ND. While the interlocking ND is great, it does not benefit our other teams in terms of distinct identity. The fact that our football team is going to wear this logo this year on their helmets shows that the coaches support this logo and want to get behind it.

Could the logo be better? Sure. Could it be worse? You bet. No matter how good or bad the hawk logo was some fans will not support it. That is understandable. Over time more and more fans will look at this logo and realize that, like me, they are UND fans first. I came to North Dakota in 2012,one year after the Fighting Sioux Jerseys were used for the last time. I have never known this school to compete with a distinct and unique logo more than script lettering on jerseys. Once the hawk head remains UND will have it.

Regardless of the logo, I agree with the way our football team is handling the logo and name change. They have embraced it head on, and will be the first UND team to wear something with the logo on it. Coach Schweigert’s passionate speech at the press conference was outstanding to watch. He wants to lead UND Football forward to the playoffs and eventually an FCS championship. Whatever logo UND competes under does not change that. We are all University of North Dakota fans. The Fighting Sioux name will always have a proud place at UND. Since November, the Fighting Hawks name is slowly getting to that level.

Will the same acceptance for this name and logo happen overnight? Of course not. How long will it take? Given how long the process took to get to this point, I would say at least 20-30 years. In the meantime, more students will come to campus, and more people will buy Fighting Hawks gear and show support for their school. Grand Forks is a special place full of wonderful people who contribute to a world class university and great people who support it. That has never changed and will not change because of a logo disagreement. I am proud to be a UND graduate and will support this school no matter the name choice. Could the process have been expedited? Sure. Should it have been? Probably not.

This process allowed nearly every constituent to have a say in the name. We had rounds of voting to choose the name. UND worked with a company in SME with years of experience building brands for sport properties around the nation. Let’s give the logo at least as long as we gave the process from the final North Dakota referendum to get here to see how it does. If the logo does not sell enough or needs to be changed, it will be.

UND changed the Fighting Sioux logo multiple times and fans still supported the school. In summation, all of this process showed me how passionate we all are about North Dakota and its athletics. Agree or disagree with the logo, let’s give it time and remember, we are UND fans before we are fans of any nickname.

110 Reasons to Love Hockey:110

Reason 110:

It’s unlike any other sport! Hockey is all about teamwork and knowing the other players on your team. To me, hockey is a beautiful ballet on ice that happens to get physical. Nothing in any other sport can match that sound when players are checked hard into the boards. The nice clean hits at center ice are poetry in motion! Nothing gets the heart racing than seeing your favorite player take the ice and score a goal or make incomprehensible save.

Grimaldi to Colorado-My Thoughts

Yesterday, Rocco Grimaldi was traded from Florida to the Colorado Avalanche in return for backup goalie Reto Berra. Grimaldi is a strong skating forward who was a second round pick for the Panthers in the 2011 NHL Draft. The  California native is a strong skating forward with high speed and potential. Grimaldi routinely shuttled in between the AHL and the NHL with the Panthers. A couple of years ago, he played two games in one day.

I agree with Ross Sellers of Mile High Sticking. This was a depth move for the Avs to make. However, one thing to note about Grimaldi, he has top end speed and was never given more than a cup of coffee  at one time in the big leagues with the Panthers. Florida has an outstanding group of forward prospects,and Rocco did not get enough of a chance to show his skills. Rocco is only suited to play either a top line forward,which he is not ready to do yet, or a third line scoring forward.

What Grimaldi lacks in physicality, he makes up for with goal-scoring potential,and a strong hockey sense of where to be on the ice at all times. The Avalanche now have a fair amount of cap room to make more moves this offseason. Depending on what moves they make, Rocco could finally find himself on the big club for a full 82 game season this year.

The UND alum deserves a chance to make the big club this season. Rocco has paid his dues in the minors. He will benefit the Avs tremendously on their third line this year.