Expansion Draft Three Thoughts

The NHL Expansion Draft is now complete. The Vegas Golden Knights have their initial roster. They selected 30 players and traded for a few more. By the end of the night Vegas ended up with 12 picks in the 2017 draft. Five of those picks are in the first two rounds. Here are some quick thoughts on what took place tonight.

  • Why on earth did Florida give up Reily Smith just to lose a 30 goal scorer in Jonathan Marchessault? I get that Florida is not a cap team, but in my mind you cannot justify giving up a player who is just a year removed from a 50 point season in a third line role. Smith will bring some needed depth scoring to Vegas right away. To me this was the worse trade of the night for a team losing a player to the Golden Knights. While yes, the Panthers gained five million dollars in cap room, they lost two promising players who can score with some regularity. The Panthers still have a bright outlook next year, but they now need a bit more out of their up and comers and have to hope Jaromir Jagr comes back for another season. Florida just gave up 88 points between the two from last season to rid themselves of five million dollars in cap room.
  • Look for Vegas to pick up another goalie or more shortly. Tonight they selected Calvin Pickard, Marc-Andre Fleury, and J.F Berube. Berube was selected as part of a deal with the Islanders where Vegas also took on the contract of injured forward Mikhail Grabovski, and Jake Bischoff. The former Isles goalie has an expiring contract, and Vegas needs multiple goalies for its AHL and ECHL teams. Pickard is a serviceable backup that can start when called upon. Look for the Golden Knights to draft multiple goalies as well. Jake Oettinger out of Boston University would be one possible choice for them. He could move through their system quickly and start for them in three years.
  • Vegas has a lot of options with some of the players it picked up. Teams are willing to pay a premium for quality defenseman like Marc Methot, and Vegas wants more picks and assets to help them build for the future. Dallas has let teams know they are looking at moving their third pick and need help on their blue line. The Golden Knights have plenty of options and could put together a package to get that pick.

 

 

San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers: Round 1, Game 1

After taking time to process through the emotions from the Sharks overtime win over the Oilers.

1st: The game started and I was so excited for playoff season to be underway!! It started off really good, SJ recorded the first three shots on net. I was thinking Okay, they got this!  Then all hell broke loose!! Everything fell apart from two minutes in till Caggiula’s hooking penalty at 19:45. Things started to pick up in those 15 seconds. Sharks made it out of the first, down 2-0

2nd:  1:43 minutes in the second Joel Ward gets it started with a power play goal! Making it 2-1. I am always hard on Ward. I am defiantly not his biggest fan! I made a beat with Oliver that if SJ pulled out a win. I would not say anything bad about him in game 2…I am glad I am eating my words…This would be the only goal of the second period. The Sharks dominated! I was on the edge of my seat!!

3rd: Started off just as well as the second. Tomas Hertl working hard behind the net to kick it out to Paul Martin who crushes into the back of the net making it his first playoff goal as a San Jose Shark at 14:38, 2-2…Tied…in the 3rd… So, now my heart is pounding and I swear I was going to be going to the ER with how hard my heart was working. San Jose continued to keep control of the game and it would stay that way. Jones didn’t allow a single puck to get behind him. Now, into overtime!! I seriously think I am going to die…I am on my feet and I don’t think I sat down at all during the intermission.

Overtime: 3 and 22 seconds in Vlasic makes a pass that hits right on Karlsson’s tape beating Talbot glove side corner. Over time ends!! Rogers Place falls dead silent for the first time all game. The sea of orange slowly turns into a slow-moving stream up the stairs…

A few thoughts: Hertl was unstoppable last night. He took the spot of Thornton and didn’t look back. Having Hertl on the power play is a huge advantage and I think that he is going to be the future of the San Jose Sharks! To be honest I have only been a Sharks fan since last April, when I got back into watching hockey. Vlasic is so understated as a player. He is a play maker!

 

I am looking forward to biting my nails to watch game 2!!

 

Thoughts on the New NHL Hawks

With UND’s season ending multiple players have signed NHL deals over the past week and a half. Here are some thoughts about what each player brings to their new squad.

Brock Boeser-Vancouver Canucks

Canucks fans, do you like having a consistent sniper on the wing who can score more than 30 goals a season and out skate the other team? If so Brock Boeser could one day soon be the answer to the eternal, ‘who plays with the Sedins’ ?, conundrum. The Minnesota native had wrist surgery and missed the World Juniors. When he was out, UND’s scoring fell off as its more physical players instantly faced tougher match ups. When Brock is on he can score goals at a blistering pace. He also has the capacity to be a consistent defensively responsible forward depending on how he is used. If you have a tough goal-scoring winger that can back check,well, ask any Capitals fan about how rare it is to have a player like that on your team.

Tucker Poolman-Winnipeg Jets

The East Grand Forks native is recovering from multiple shoulder injuries. When healthy he will be the Jets’ fifth or sixth defenseman next season. Tucker Poolman has a booming point shot and knows how to not get caught trying to do too much. Pairing Poolman with an offensive minded left shot defenseman would give the Jets the best of both worlds. They would get a reliable defender who can score when needed, which would allow another one of their defenseman to take more chances. This could benefit someone like Josh Morrissey who , so far, has not come close to matching his WHL output.

Tyson Jost-Colorado Avalanche

Tyson Jost leaving is the biggest blow to UND. He is a complete player who has broken Connor McDavid’s scoring record in the U-18 World Championship. Tyson is a dominant two-way forward that will be at the core of Colorado’s rebuild. In his brief time at UND, Jost has routinely scored highlight-reel goals and made strong plays defensively. The new Avalanche forward can produce a point per game as well as be a future Selke trophy candidate if he continues to play his strong defensive game. Jost had an integral part getting Canada to the semifinals in the U18 World Championships in April, a key role in getting UND back to the NCAA tournament, and will be asked to do the same thing for the Avalanche as he develops.

Hawks Fly to Minneapolis in 6-5 OT Thriller

GRAND FORKS, ND

In front of a raucous crowd of 10,540 fans at Ralph Englestad Arena, UND pulled out a series win over the St. Cloud State Huskies 6-5 in overtime. the game was a back and forth affair throughout as neither side had a lead of more than one goal. Trevor Olson got the game winner in overtime on a shot that went in and out so fast it had to be reviewed.  He now has three game winning goals in the past four games.

St Cloud State opened the scoring with a deflection goal from Nick Poehling 15:11 into the first period. 18:06 into the first period , Robby Jackson put the puck past Cam Johnson however, after a lengthy review, the goal was overturned due to St Cloud having too many men on the ice .During the play, Blake Winiecki took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to give UND a power play.

The Hawks would  capitalize on the ensuing power play thanks to a strong wrist shot from St. Louis Blues prospect Austin Poganski 19:16 into the first period to tie the game.

53 seconds into the second period, Poganski whipped a perfect pass from the goal line to  a wide open Tyson Jost on a shorthanded chance who did not miss his chance to stake UND to its first lead of the evening.

A bit later in the period, Blake Winiecki won a puck battle with multiple UND skaters below the UND goal line, got the puck to Robby Jackson, who then fired the puck to Patrick Newell. He made no mistake with his wide open chance and tied the game with 8:46 left in the second period.

Soon after the Newell tally, Brock Boeser would find a loose puck at the side of the net and tap it home to return UND to the lead 10:37 into the second period. The Hawks would take a 3-2 lead into the locker room after two periods.

The Huskies would battle back as 7:11 into the third period, John Lizotte fired a puck past a slip-sliding Cam Johnson to tie the game. Then shortly afterwords, Shane Gersich would capitalize on a three on zero breakaway to put UND up 4-3.

That lead did not last long, as John Lizotte would pot an unassisted tally to tie the game 1:02 after the Gersich Tally. Not much later, Nick Poehling would give St. Cloud its second lead of the night after numerous UND attempts to clear the puck. As the seesaw game continued, Christian Wolanin fired home a point shot to tie it up 15:58 into the third period.  The score would remain this way till Olson ended it 07:38 into overtime.

UND will take on either Denver or Minnesota Duluth in Minneapolis next week in the Frozen Faceoff. Their opponent is contingent on the winner of the Western Michigan- Omaha series. Should Omaha win, the Hawks will take on Minnesota Duluth. Should Western Michigan win, UND will take on Denver.

 

 

 

 

The Hawks Pyramid to the NHL

Well, a few days ago, blogger and YouTube Star extraordinaire Steve Dangle invented a new way to rank each team’s NHL prospects. He used a pyramid system to group prospects rather than listing them one through whatever arbitrary number is used. (click his name for a video with a primer on the pyramid idea)

This system is excellent in my view because it gives more flexibility and because it removes pointless dogmatic arguments. I am using this system in college hockey. I will write about a few teams. The main one of course is going to be the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The tiers will be separated by the chance to play at least one game in the NHL at some point in each players’ pro career upon leaving UND.

The highest tier is the highest chance of playing even one game in the show. Each tier decreases in probability.

Tier One

75 percent or greater

Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost

Well, most UND fans have seen the scoring prowess of Brock Boeser. His shot is NHL ready now and he has one more year to work on his speed before making the jump to Vancouver. He will play an NHL game as soon as this year.

Jost is another first round pick that plays a responsible two way game and has a knack for making plays all over the ice. His mere presence on the ice made his Canadian team better at the U18 World Championship this past April . Tyson will kill penalties and play key special teams minutes this year. If he can develop his shot a bit and generate say a point a game he could make the jump this year as well. The Avalanche do not have a better unsigned center prospect in their system than Tyson Jost.

Tier Two

50-74.9 percent chance

Tucker Poolman, Austin Poganski, Christian Wolanin, Cam Johnson, Rhett Gardner

This is where some of the more developed players reside. Poolman could have jumped to the Jets this year but stayed to play with his brother Colton among other reasons. Gardner earned a late round pick from the Dallas Stars thanks to his stellar work in all three zones. He has a role now as a faceoff specialist. Rhett reminds me of Corban Knight. He can win a faceoff any time and can play in all three zones. Cam Johnson earned a development camp invite to the Penguins based on his superb play this past season including Midwest Regional MVP in Cincinnati on the way to backstopping UND to its eighth National Championship. Poganski has a strong presence on the ice as a reliable net-front presence and is UND’s best penalty killing forward going into the season.

Tier Three

25-50 percent chance

Gage Ausmus, Matej Tomek, Chris Wilkie, Shane Gersich

All four of these players will have roles on this team. Ausmus is UND’s first two year captain since Chay Genoway. Gage reminds me of Andrew MacWilliam. He is a great stay at home defenseman that does not do much offensively. His defensive skills allow his partner to jump up into the rush more knowing that they have a strong backup.

Tomek did not play at all during the regular season last year due to both being injured and then being outplayed by Cam Johnson and Mat Hrynkiw. If Tomek earns ice time he will have a chance to elevate his ranking,however the Flyers drafted another goalie this year in the first round. That goalie is Carter Hart. The Everett Silvertip will be ready for the NHL before Tomek may even be a starter here. The Flyers have six other prospect goalies and all of them but Tomek played last year. Matej has a lot of work to do to improve his stock in the Flyers organization but has the potential to do just that.

Wilkie and Gersich remind me of Rocco Grimaldi. They are both smaller players who are strong on the puck and need to score constantly to be considered valuable to their team. Both can improve their spots with the increased time they will get on the higher lines this year.

 

Tier Four

0-24.9 percent

Everyone else

The most likely person in this tier to play an NHL game at some point Johnny Simonson. He has improved each year and has gotten better on the puck. His goal scoring is catching up to his speed. Simonson still has two more years to showcase himself for an NHL team.

Ranking college players is even more imperfect than ranking pro prospects. Someone in tier four could make the league before someone in tier one. This is just a snapshot in time based on expectations and past performance. What are your thoughts on this system.What are your tiers? What are your tiers for some other teams? We will write about more teams as the season goes on. Also let me know what I missed in the comments.

 

 

Season Review/Look Ahead:Johnny Simonson

Last season, Johnny Simonson had an expanded role with the Fighting Hawks. He played a third line role and improved from his freshman season.In his second season Simsonson generated 17 points in 43 games playing a third line depth scoring role. Simonson is a 5′ 10″ forward who relies on speed and grit to help UND win. While Simonson had more chances last year, we look for him to have a breakout season this year. Since the Grand Forks native will have a bigger role, we expect him to double his total points in the season this year playing either a top nine or top six scoring forward role. His play will determine if he earns any significant special teams time. I expect Simonson to have at least 20 points due to his increased ice time and higher skilled linemates.

This past year, Simonson improved some areas of his game like his playmaking. He still has work to do to make getting knocked off the puck harder. If he has a good rest of the offseason, Simonson could be a breakout star for the Fighting Hawks this season. Like Drake Caggiula before him, we think an NHL team could be waiting to sign him if he produces. We hope Simonson has a difficult decision to make next offseason regarding turning pro.

Grade: 7/10

http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=118020

 

Another Reason to Love Hockey: The Future

One reason I absolutely love hockey is because of how prospects develop. Let me use this entry to showcase that point.

Hockey is a unique animal when it comes to drafts. Most players are drafted when they are 18 or 19. A tiny fraction play in the NHL the year after they are drafted. Most head off to college, or return to their respective clubs be they junior or international. While there they are developing and improving daily and trying to earn a contract.

Earn a contract? That is right. All hockey prospects have to earn a contract based on skills and performance after being drafted. If not, and your rights with the team run out, you may find yourself out of a chance to ever play NHL hockey. Plenty of first rounders go unsigned and never see the NHL. For instance, from the 2007 NHL Draft, five first rounders have never played a single NHL contest. Three more have played 20 or less games. This goes to show that drafting is an inexact science. Imagine if Edmonton picked P.K Subban that year instead of Alex Plante in the first round. Plante played 10 games in the NHL and Subban has played 434 games so far. Subban was picked  43rd by Montreal. Plante was picked 15th by Edmonton.

Let’s also discuss what happens for players who are not drafted. Plenty still get a chance to play. Torey Krug went from Michigan State to earning a pro contract with the Bruins. Recently Drake Caggiula and Troy Stecher have earned chances to play at the next level with the Oilers and Canucks.

All of this shows that the draft is an imperfect art. Just because you are drafted high does not mean you will succeed. On the other hand, those that go undrafted often have better careers than some players picked in the first round of both of their draft years.

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2007e.html

Reasons to Love Hockey:Reboot

Sorry Guys, Life happens and I haven’t been able to be post as quickly as I normally would.

Today there are less than 100 days left till the puck drops at the Shark tank against the LA kings. This post is not really a reason more just a review of what has happened in the last two weeks.

We had some crazy trades and an amazing first day of free agency.   The San Jose Sharks have signed four players so far and on the first day. David Schlemko is one of the two high profile players that SJ picked up. I would have to say the Schlemko is going to be a good addition to the team. I am interested to see how this plays out. He has a tendancy to either be really good or really bad, either way, he will be a good replacement for Roman Polak. Which I personally feel was a major liability for the Sharks on defense this past season. Mikkel Boedker, I am not so sure how I feel about him, it honestly will depend on what line they end up placing him on. I think he might play well with a player like Donskoi and Hertl, but only time will tell. The two re-signs are Aaron Dell(G) and Micheal Haley (C). I am looking forward to see what Haley does this season. I think it was smart to bring him back.

Now Dell, I have been watching this player for six years and I have a good feeling about this upcoming season from him. I am was ecstatic when I saw that SJ resigned him, like literally jumped up and down (sorry downstairs neighbors), I think he will be a great backup option to Jones. They have very similar playing styles and I believe Dell has earned his shot to play on NHL ice. I know a lot of you are thinking about how untested he is on a professional rink, but you will never know how well any player can handle the pressure of the “big” time, with over 6,500 minutes of playing time between the ECHL,CHL and AHL, It is in my honest thoughts that he can handle it and I am really looking forward to seeing were it all heads for him.

Free Agency Thoughts

Here are some thoughts on the first few days of free agency.

1.Tampa Bay has to be the early Cup favorite for this season. With Headman and Stamkos locked up long term, the sky is the limit for that team. Look for one of Tampa’s goalies to be traded or picked by Las Vegas in the expansion draft next season. The Bolts will have some more cap issues, however they are trying to win it all now. They have come so close within the last two years that General Manager Steve Yzerman is doing everything he can to win it all now while not mortgaging the future.

2. Kudos to Aaron Dell. The talented man of few words signed a two year pact to remain with the Sharks.Dell will have a chance to become the full time backup with the team.He has done nothing but earn everything he has ever gained in pro hockey. He went undrafted and won a CHL championship.Then he played well in Utah in the ECHL. After that he went to and from the AHL and ECHL as needed. Last year he was the full time starter for the San Jose Barracuda. Now Dell, who has done nothing but produce at every level, will have the chance to be the backup and play 15-20 games while Martin Jones plays the balance for the Sharks.

3.The Capitals did well signing Brad Malone. The former UND standout will probably serve as a depth center at Hershey. He has constantly shown his grit and earned everything he has gained. A few years ago he carved out time as a fourth line center in Carolina. Hershey gains an AHL first liner that can generate offense and help younger players like Jakub Vrana progress and develop into their full potential. Do not be surprised to see Malone earning some time on the Capitals’ fourth line throughout the year.

A lot has happened during free agency. We will publish three thoughts every so often as a way of discussing as much of what has happened as possible. We use General Fanager for contract and stats info unless otherwise noted.