The Beasts Of The West

The NHL playoffs are approaching quickly. With less than 20 games to go until the battle for the Stanley Cup begins, teams are starting to get chimed in and refine their game. We’re going to take a look at a few of those teams, specifically the top contenders in the Western Conference.
There’s five main beasts in the West: Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Anaheim, and of course, the Los Angeles Kings. Chicago and LA are the consensus favorites, as per usual, to make it to the West final. That being said, Anaheim, Dallas and St. Louis will all have something to say about that. Let’s take a closer look at all five of these teams and a couple of their strengths and weaknesses.
Chicago Blackhawks
The defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. What’s there to say? They are a very well rounded team that got even more dangerous at the trade deadline. They are the clear cut favorite to come out of the West, and undoubtedly the deepest team in the NHL. The additions of Ladd, Fleischmann and Weise at the deadline pushed this team over the top. I don’t believe there is a weakness on this team. Their third pairing on defense might be a minor concern with Van Riemsdyk and Gustafsson, but the Hawks tend to ride Seabrook and Keith come the playoffs.
Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars will go as far as Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn take them. Dallas isn’t a particularly deep team, and they will run into trouble against teams like Chicago and LA that run a four line attack. That being said, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have shown they can put up some goals in a hurry. Dallas is a fun team that can score in bunches, but in a playoff series against a grinding team, they will be in some trouble. I don’t like their forward depth, and I am not a huge fan of their defensive core. Hamhuis would have been great shutdown defenseman for them, but they chose to go with Russell.
St. Louis Blues
It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for this team to finally break out and go on a playoff run. Will this year be that year? They have the defensive core to challenge any team in the West on any given night, and they do have the game changers in Tarasenko and Steen. St. Louis is one of those teams that just needs to click at the right time. Jake Allen seems to have cemented himself as the #1 goalie they have always needed. We won’t know till April when it counts. I’m looking at depth on this team, can Jaskin, Lehtera and Fabbri contribute in a tight 1-1 game in the third period?
Anaheim Ducks
They have been the best team in the NHL since Christmas. The Ducks have looked like a team on a mission in 2016, and they’re a scary proposition for any team heading into the playoffs. Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler are all playing their best hockey and if they keep it up, they’re a frightening foe to face in the first round. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen seem to have the net on lockdown, the young defensive core could be the make or break come April.  Lindholm and Vatanen will be key pieces if the Ducks are to go far, are they experienced enough?
Los Angeles Kings
If there’s any team specifically built for the playoffs, it’s the LA Kings. They grind, grind, grind and grind some more. Anytime I want to prove a point when discussing this team, I look at the series with San Jose when they were down 3-0. They grinded the Sharks down and by the time game 4 rolled around, the Sharks were done. They were up 3-0 in the series, but they were exhausted. The Kings rolled through them the next four games onto a series win. This is a very heavy, and deep team, built for a grinding war. They added Lucic in the summer, they also added Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier via. trade during the season. Any team facing them in the playoffs better be ready for a grinded out war. A minor concern of mine would be the fire power against a team like Chicago. Kopitar, Carter and Lucic are very capable of scoring, but the Hawks have a bit more offensive talent deep into the line-up.

I hope you enjoyed the analysis.

Trade Bait: 8 Players Potentially On The Move

The trade deadline is only a couple days away and fans of all teams are on the edge of their seats. There’s teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets that will be huge sellers. There will be plenty of contending teams looking to land some rentals and push themselves over the top to make a deep Stanley Cup run. We’ll be taking a look at the top 8 player’s available going into the deadline.
Eric Staal
This isn’t the old Eric Staal, but he can still be a very effective player on the right team. The price may be steep, but he would help teams such as Nashville and the New York Rangers greatly.  I can also see Anaheim having some interest as he’s a big body and some more scoring depth.
Potential landing spots: Nashville, New York Rangers, Anaheim
Mikkel Boedker
With the Coyotes and Boedker seemingly not being able to get a deal done, all signs point to him being traded by the deadline. He’s a young, quality forward that could fit on a contending team’s second line. I see the Los Angeles Kings as clear front runners for Boedker, with Gaborik out with an injury.
Potential landing spots: LA Kings
Dan Hamhuis
Hamhuis has a no trade clause in Vancouver, but it is expected he will waive to a contending team. There was speculation about his abilities earlier in the year, but he just came back from an injury and has looked quite good. There will be a lot of offers for Hamhuis but I can only see him waiving to a true contender. It has been speculated that there’s lots of interest from the Blackhawks, but I can see Pittsburgh making an offer as well.
Potential landing spots: Chicago and Pittsburgh
Loui Eriksson
Loui is flying under the radar as a potential player on the move. He’s a very skilled forward that can play up and down a line-up. The price shouldn’t be all that steep, and he could put one of the contenders over the top to help on a Cup run. I see Anaheim and Los Angeles having great interest.
Potential landing spots:  Anaheim and LA
Radim Vrbata
It has been a rather underwhelming year for Radim Vrbata in Vancouver. The price won’t be high because of his lackluster play, but he’s still a very useful player. He could slide onto a second line right wing position on the majority of NHL clubs. I’d be shocked if Vrbata was still a Canuck by the end of the deadline. I can see the Blues being interested in him.
Potential landing spots:  St Louis
Kris Russell
Russell is a reliable defenceman that will be a cheaper alternative than Dan Hamhuis for a lot of teams. I expect Pittsburgh to be the front runners, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the New York Rangers were interested.
Potential landing spots: Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers
Jonathan Drouin
Drouin is the only player who isn’t an unrestricted free agent on my list. I expect him to move by the deadline and go to a Canadian market.  Montreal has some pieces to offer for Drouin, and he would help their offensive problems going forward. I can see Vancouver and Toronto having interest, but I don’t believe either of them have the right assets to offer.
Potential landing spots: Montreal, Vancouver + Toronto (?)
Jiri Hudler
Hudler has had an abysmal year in Calgary. The Flames will be shipping him out and could fetch a decent return. I would expect Detroit and Florida to be interested. Detroit could use him greatly during the playoffs, while his experience would be of great use in Florida with all those kids. Maybe it would give Jagr a bit of a break.
Potential landing spots: Detroit and Florida

I hope you enjoyed the read, Christmas is only a couple days away.

Five Potential Landing Spots For Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos will not be traded at the deadline, those are Steve Yzerman’s words, not mine. Steve Yzerman went public with a statement on Monday, February 15th and announced that Steven Stamkos will not be traded by the February 29th trade deadline. It’s quite rare to see a star of Stamkos’ calibre go this deep into a season as a pending UFA, but here we are, and many don’t think he will re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. We’ll be taking a look at five possible destinations for Steven Stamkos.
Vancouver Canucks                                    
Vancouver lacks a true number one centre going forward. The Sedins are slowing down and the Canucks will have a ton of cap space to work with this summer. I can see the Canucks throwing the bank at him. Will Stamkos even entertain the offer? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Nashville Predators
Nashville has always lacked the game changer offensively. They picked up Johansen this season in the Seth Jones trade, but I see them making a significant offer for Stamkos. Nashville is an underrated American hockey market, and Stamkos as the number one centre with Johansen as the number two would fix their offensive problems.
Detroit Red Wings
Datsyuk and Zetterberg are nearing the end of their careers. If the Red Wings can get their hands on Stamkos, it fills the void that Datsyuk and Zetterberg will leave. Dylan Larkin is not suited to jump into a top centre role this early in his career. Stamkos would slide in and keep the Red Wings a contender while they build up Larkin behind him.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s hard to see Stamkos going to Toronto, but I wanted to address it. Toronto is four to five years away from even contending for a playoff spot. That exact reason is why Stamkos will not sign in Toronto. He’s entering his hockey prime and will want to win in the next four to five years, not just begin to battle for a playoff spot.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Stamkos staying with Tampa Bay seems quite probable. The team is poised to be a cup contender for the next five years. There are rumblings that Stamkos and coach Jon Cooper don’t see eye to eye, but winning fixes everything. If Tampa Bay can make a solid run and make it back to the Cup final, I see Stamkos re-signing without a doubt.

I hope you enjoyed the read, where do you think Stamkos will land?

The Vancouver Canucks Heading Into Deadline Day

The Vancouver Canucks are heading to the February 29th trade deadline with a plethora of players who are unrestricted free agents as of July 1st. Most people expect them to be a very active club on deadline day, and I happen to be one of them. Let’s take a look at who they could be shopping and what they could potentially receive back for them.
The most notable UFA on the Canucks roster is defenceman Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis just returned from a gruesome injury to his jaw and has looked terrific in his last few games since returning. Hamhuis is a rock on the back end and will be coveted by many contending teams, which could end up striking a bidding war for the defenceman. Hamhuis could very well fetch a first round pick and a midlevel defensive prospect from a team going all in for a Cup run. Hamhuis does have a no trade clause, but I can’t see him declining a trade to a top contender and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
The second most notable UFA is right winger Radim Vrbata. Vrbata has had a very mediocre year in Vancouver, this after a tremendous season last year. He has really lost his stride in Vancouver this season and I’d consider him to be a lock to move by deadline day. Vrbata simply needs a new start and I could see the Canucks fetching a second round pick for him, or a project prospect who isn’t working out with his current team. I don’t believe Radim will fetch a first rounder due to his current play and lackluster playoff performances, but you never know.
I would be shocked if Chris Higgins is not traded by the end of deadline day, although he is not a UFA. He still has the capabilities of being a third or fourth liner on a lot of NHL teams, but he didn’t fit the direction the Canucks are going. He is currently playing for the Canucks AHL team, the Utica Comets. I believe Higgins could be traded for a 4th rounder, but the Canucks will have to retain a decent amount of his salary.
A few more less notable UFA’s the Canucks will be shopping around are Brandon Prust, Adam Cracknell, Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber. Prust could fetch a 5th from a contending team as a depth player for them heading to the playoffs. The Canucks could very well hold onto Cracknell with the injury to Brandon Sutter, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lasted through the deadline day. Bartkowski and Weber are very much in the same boat, they have both had fairly mediocre seasons, Bart has been a bit better than Weber. I can’t see the team getting much for either though.

I hope you enjoyed the read, and may deadline day be a great day for your team.