Tag Archives: prediction

456356318_slide

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Change of Scenery Players

This off-season roughly 90 full time NHL players have switched teams. That is a lot of players to change scenery. So why not profile which ones will benefit the most? That sounds like fun. Who is going to make the biggest leaps forward or regain their form in their new city?

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Honourable Mention: Olli JokinenDerek RoyMike Ribeiro - Nashville Predators, Centers
royribsolli
I was considering giving a couple of these guys their own spots, but decided to lump them together since they are all on the same club and will be stealing minutes from each other. Makes it tricky to predict who will boom.

It’s safe to assume that at least one of them will be the new first line center and will play with James Neal. Likely one of Roy or Ribiero, and they stand to get a lot of minutes and opportunity to produce. The other two centers will likely anchor the second and third lines in some capacity, with some time on special teams.

New Predators coach Peter Laviolette has been known for more of an open system, and anything in comparison to Barry Trotz’s system will be more open, so you can expect to see some more offence coming out of Nashville. Ribiero and Roy should have extra motivation as well considering they are on one year contracts.

5. Radim Vrbata, RW, Vancouver Canucks

Things that the Canucks have desperately needed: right handed right winger with shooting ability.
Things that Vrbata, 17, brings to the table: being a right handed right winger with shooting ability.

The gameplan in Vancouver is to play him alongside the Sedin twins which should bode well for him. He’ll also get every opportunity to help improve Vancouver’s dreadful powerplay that was missing right handed options last season.

If he was able to score 20+ goals in Phoenix, he should be able to flirt with 30 this season. He just needs to learn to keep his stick ready and in preseason he has been doing just that.

He’d be higher on this list if he wasn’t coming off an okay offensive year.

Read the full article at Talking Baws

top5stepback

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Players to Take a Step Back

Continuing the NHL Preview Series, I bring you the top five players that are likely to take a step back this season. Every season a number of players over perform, and fans grossly inflate their expectations for that player. Then when that player “under performs” to their previous season, fans and fantasy owners alike are up in arms over that “bust”.

So to save your arms going up, you should check yourself before you wreck yourself with these players who are almost certainly going to put in far more pedestrian seasons than last year.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Tyler Bozak sucks. I’m not wasting 300 words on him.

Honourable Mention: Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla
falloff
Now, Jagr doesn’t quite meet the criteria above, as in he didn’t burst onto the scene, which is why he is only an honourable mention. Not because I think he’s a bad player, he most certainly isn’t. He’s about half a billion years old and still a top 20 scorer in the league.

His treads have already fallen off, and they’ve been gone for quite some time, which makes me wonder just how close the rest of his game is to tailing off too. Even if he’s “bad” he’ll still probably top 45 points which is quite good. At 42, he’s pretty well older than any other NHL player has been and still produced except Gordie Howe. But like I said, he’s gotta drop off at some point.

For Iginla, just read this. Poor Iggy no Iggy no!

5. Ryan Johansen
johansen
If he potted 26 goals and 57 points I’m sure some people would look at that rather favourably. But there are a lot of people who think that his 33 goal season is a huge sign of things to come, and he’ll only build off it. Which it is likely true, but a little premature.

The big thing for me is that his shooting percentage was 16.45% at even strength last season accounting for 25 of his 30 non empty net goals. The league average shooting percent is around 8.2% and his previous seasons were both about 8.5%.

Also, his shooting percentage and shots generated per 60 minutes numbers at 21 place him in elite company with Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, Eric Staal and Steven Stamkos, among elite others, and that is some pretty snazzy company. Nothing against Johansen, but I wouldn’t quite put him on those players levels. Not yet.

So did he become twice as effective at shooting the puck last year? Unlikely. He probably got better, but you have to believe a fair bit of luck was involved. He’s probably more a 11-12% shooter, and that is some cause for concern because it would drop him to about 20-24 goals on the season if he generates shots similar to last season.

Its good production, but not the elite level many people in Columbus will be hoping for.

4. Ben Bishop
bishop
There was a lot to like in Tampa Bay last season, and Bishop was part of it. He finally seemed to emerge as the starting goaltender that many had hoped he would be since his time in St. Louis. He had a Vezina calibre season and posted 37 wins.

But, that was his first full season and while he posted Vezina calibre numbers for much of the season, he began to taper off after the trade deadline before getting injured. Now, was the dip because he was coming back to being an above average but not great goaltender? Was it fatigue because he never played more than 13 games in a season before appearing in 63 last year? Was he playing through his injury at the end?

I have no idea, but I’m leaning more towards the first option. I don’t think I’d pencil him in for another .924 SP and 37 wins. A .919 or .920 doesn’t seem like a huge dip, but that is easily the difference between home ice and missing the playoffs across a starting goaltenders workload.

Unfortunately for him, he won’t have much help at the backup position with the old and not-good Evgeni Nabokov slotted in behind him.

Read the full article at Talking Baws

traded

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Players Likely to be Traded

Everyone loves trades in the NHL. They’re so exciting. Everyone gets to judge who won and who lost? “Oh that team is so stupid!” “Wow that team is so smart!” “Why couldn’t my team do that trade?” If you cheer for a team involved you get strangely defensive of the move regardless of how good or bad it was. So why not profile the top five players that could be traded this season?

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Just going to stick to some of the bigger names out there.

5. Dustin Byfuglien, Defence, Winnipeg Jets Byfuglien This is a weird situation. He hasn’t asked out and he’s been the perfect soldier publicly, but there have always been rumblings. His relationship with new coach Paul Maurice is also a little wonky.

He wants to play defence. Maurice continues to play him at forward, but only on the third line. The team seems to have no idea what to do with him, despite the fact he’s probably their greatest weapon. With another losing season on the horizon, you have to wonder if things come to an amicable end.

He’d have no shortage of suitors on the trade market and Winnipeg could get a solid return.

Suitors: New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings

4. Johnny Boychuk, Defence, Boston Bruins Boychuk is a good player on a contending team on a very reasonable contract. Why would he be traded?

The Bruins are in a cap crunch and are desperate for some scoring in their top-six and general forward depth that is good and not bad. Things are so thin up front their most recent draft pick, 25th overall, has been talked about as making the team.

With the emergence of the depth defenceman on the Bruins beginning to break through and Boychuk’s upcoming UFA status, he makes for the kind of trade chip a team would use to push for a championship in a mid-season trade.

Suitors: Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche

Read the full article at Talking Baws

central1

NHL 2014 Preview: Central Division

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,  welcome to part three of the flawless 2014 NHL preview. We find ourselves in the Central Division today. Who’s new to the mid-West? Who has playoff hopes? What about Stanley Cup chances? This is by far the best conference in hockey after all the real teams in the division went and made themselves better.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Holy moly is Conference III ever the best conference in hockey.

Winnipeg Jets
jets
Needs: Staring goaltender, bottom-six depth players
In: Mathieu Perrault, T.J. Galiardi
Out: Olli Jokinen, Al Montoya, Devin Setoguchi

The team: This team is so mediocre its bad.

The forwards have potential. Evander Kane and Mark Scheifele could be something special together one day, but after that it is only five players deep: Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little for offence and Michael Frolik and Mathieu Perrault as quality depth players.

The rest of the forwards are pretty embarrassing though. Galiardi could be a decent depth forward.

The defence actually isn’t that terrible but it depends where Byfuglien plays. If he’s on defence, he’s a difference maker and they have a great top four. If he isn’t on D then its a little thin. Jacob Trouba and Tobias Enstrom are studs.

The goaltending is awful though. Just abhorrent. Ondrej Pavelec is an embarrassment to the city of Winnipeg and anyone who likes hockey. He single-handed cost the Jets the playoffs every season.

Will they make the playoffs? Not a chance.
They’re in a deep division and an equally deep conference. They’d need a godsend of a goaltending performance to make the playoffs. Almost by default they’ll find themselves in the McEichel sweepstakes.

Nashville Predators
predators-web
Needs: First line center, first line winger, second pairing defenceman
In: Derek Roy, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribiero, James Neal, Peter Laviolette (coach)
Out: Patrick Hornquist, Nick Spaling, Michael Del Zotto, Mike Fisher (injury), Barry Trotz (coach)

The team: How many NHL teams do you know that have nine centers? Because the Predators do, and you don’t go anywhere in this league without quality centermen. And they have some skill now with Roy, Ribiero and Jokinen.

Neal gives them a talented finisher on the wing. Filip Forsberg will likely make the team in a scoring role. The top six in Nashville might actually be able to reliably score for a change.

The defence can’t be bad. It has Shea Weber. Roman Josi is a solid top four option and Seth Jones is dripping in potential. The d-core is rounded out nicely  by Mattias Ekholm in the remaining minute eating spots.

A new coach and a new system is going to be something to pay attention to in Nashville. After the adjustment period, a lot of guys could have some serious offensive numbers and you have to assume they’re breakout will be less garbage.

A full season of Pekka Rinne is a full season of Vezina goaltending.

Will they make the playoffs? Yes.
They’ve got the deepest set of offensive players since the days of Paul Kariya. The only issue is how quickly it takes the team to adapt to a new coach and system.

Dallas Stars
Dallas-Stars-AP-Image
Needs: A second line,  top-three defenceman
In: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback
Out: Alex Chaisson

The team: GM Jim Nill has done an excellent job. He’s taken a team without a top six set of forwards and built one of envy in two off-seasons.

First it was Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin to play with Jamie Benn. This year he has Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky to back them up as the Stars have a second line for the first time in ages. They already had a dynamite third line and a respectable group of grinders on their fourth line. Nice offence.

Kari Lehtonen gives Dallas the goaltending to win games every night. He’ll have to be as good as ever with the non-existent puck stopping abilities of Lindback in the backup position.

The defence is okay, but Brendan Dillon needs to be signed to give their top four any oomph. They’ll be looking to acquire another player to take some minutes from Goligoski. He played the role of a #1 defenceman well, but you want to support him. If Sergei Gonchar can regain any sense of previous form then offence from the defence won’t be as big an issue.

Will they make the playoffs? Yes.
They’ve addressed one of their two glaring weaknesses by having an actual second line. The defense still needs work but they can quite possibly slide up a spot in the standings with these moves and GM Jim Nill won’t be scared to make another move improve the team.

Read the full article at Talking Baws

Atlantic

NHL 2014 Preview: Atlantic Division

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you part two of the the flawless 2014 NHL preview, now for the Atlantic Division. Who’s came and gone? What does the playoff picture look like? Well, its a four tiered division of good, alright, okay and garbage teams. It makes things simple.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

So who will rule the Flortheast? Lets start at the bottom of last year…

Buffalo Sabres128753008_slide
Needs: Everything
In: Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Andrei Meszaros, Sam Reinhart
Out: Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff

The team: This is a bad hockey team.

They’re rebuilding, so being bad is to be expected. And they have a host of promising young players working their way up: Sam Reinhart (C), Mikhail Grigorenko (C), Marcus Foligno (LW), Joel Armia (RW), Mark Pysyk (D), Nikita Zadorov (D), Rasmus Ristolainen (D), and Matt Hacket (G) are the core of their future. If even half those players can reach their potential then Buffalo will eventually have one heck of a team.

Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Myers lead the veteran-youth movement. Hodgson and Girgensons both have futures in the NHL as number two-three centermen, Ennis can play in the top-nine, and Myers looked to be reclaiming some of the form he showed earlier in his career.

But the rest of the roster is just so bad. Gionta, Moulson and Gorges are still capable hockey players, but many of the other “veterans” and players filling out the roster aren’t much above replacement level players. And the goaltending looks like it could contend for worst in the NHL.

Will they make the playoffs? Lord no!
This team sucks. They have some marginal improvements, but they’re really counting on a whole bunch of recent draft picks to complete the roster. That isn’t a recipe for success – at least not this season.

Florida Panthers
pantherspre
Needs: Everything but goaltending and more bad players
In: Al Montoya, Shawn Thornton, Derek MacKenzie, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Willie Mitchell, Aaron Ekblad, Gerard Gallant (coach)
Out: Tom Gilbert, Peter Horacheck (coach)

The team: Well, it’ll be hard to be worse than last year so I guess they have nowhere to go but up.

Roberto Luongo, despite what anyone says, is an elite goaltender and the best goaltender of his generation. He’s still excellent and should be able to steal more than a few wins this season on top of providing wins just by being better than what the Panthers called goaltenders last year.

The defence and forwards aren’t much improved, which means they’re hoping for development progression. Last years first overall Ekblad stands to make the roster out of camp and will learn the NHL in a bit of a trial-by-fire situation, but he should have enough rope to make mistakes. Brian Campbell will continue to be one of the best and most ignored NHL defenders.

Sasha Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathon Huberdeau are all going to have to take leaps forward to help the team. They’ll be cushioned by Jussi Jokinen and Brad Boyes, who are both criminally underrated. Thomas Kopecky isn’t terrible either.

All of their other fancy new signings suck.

Will they make the playoffs? No.
They have actual NHL level goaltending. Thats important. If their younger players can continue development and Gallant doesn’t play big minutes to all the bad players he was given, maybe they aren’t completely hopeless. But they look pretty hopeless.

Toronto Maple Leafs
kessel
Needs: New coach, first line center
In: Leo Komarov, David Booth, Daniel Winnik, Mike Santorelli, Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas
Out: Nikolai Kulemin, Dave Bolland, Mason Raymond, Carl Gunnarsson, Tim Gleason, Mason Raymond, Jay McClement

The team: This is a team that should be better than it is on paper. They’re pretty well sunk by terrible coaching and systems play that amplifies their deficiencies instead of hiding them.

Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri make up 2/3rds of a really solid top-six. Komarov, Booth, Winnik, Santorelli, Matt Frattin and Peter Holland make for a strong bottom half of the roster. But David Clarkson makes anyone he plays with awful, and Tyler Bozak had a career year and still was only average.

The defence made a lot of lateral moves. If the top-four this season is Dion Phaneuf, Cody Franson, Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardner then the Leafs will be able to play fast hockey, and actually get out of their own end. Neither Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak are as good as Carl Gunnarson, but they should be better than Tim Gleason.

They’ll be relying heavily on James Bernier having another near Vezina season and James Reimer continuing to be one of the best “back ups” in the NHL. The Leafs got some of the best goaltending in the NHL last year, but couldn’t do anything with it. I’d be worried about things in Leafland if things don’t improve defensively and the goaltending falls off even a little.

Will they make the playoffs? No-ish.
If they can bring in a coach that is good to replace their bad one then they stand a solid chance at the playoffs. The pieces are there, but they need someone who knows how to use them.

Continue reading the full article at Talking Baws