Tag Archive | Avalanche

Central Division 2014-15 Preview

By Brett Malamud

Wednesday is finally here! All day long, Dabuzzza will be bringing you the NHL coverage as we approach tonight’s games. If you missed the Metropolitan Division Preview, click here. If you missed the Atlantic Division Preview, click here. Now we move to the Western Conference.  The Central division hopes to be a good battle all the way to the end. The Avalanche won the division last season, but it seems that almost everyone in the division has improved. Let’s take a look at this season’s Central Division:

Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks opted to sign Daniel Carcillo instead of keeping Nick Leddy, and sent Leddy off to the New York Islanders. In return, they got Ville Pokka, Anders Nilsson and T.J. Brennan. The 20 year old defenseman Pokka was sent down to the AHL along with Brennan. You’d have to feel for T.J. Brennan though. Brennan has bounced around the NHL a bit, contributing mostly in the AHL. He signed a contract with the Islanders over the summer, and was finally ready to make that jump to become a full time NHL player. Instead, he was part of a salary based trade to Chicago and the Blackhawks sent Brennan back down to the AHL. That has to be a bad feeling. Nilsson will play in the KHL this year and is a non-factor. On the active roster, the Blackhawks look to get over the fact that they were a game seven overtime goal away from heading back to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in five seasons. They added Brad Richards to their offensive weapons, and he’s expected to start the season as their third line center. 25-year-old Patrick Kane sees himself on the second line with 21-year-old Brandon Saad and 23-year-old Andrew Shaw. Not bad for youth. The top line consists of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. The attack will be hoping to continue the success of last season, when they ranked second in the league in goals per game. Duncan Keith leads the defensive unit. He’ll be paired with Brent Seabrook. The two are a huge threat from the blue line in the offensive zone, combining for 13 goals and 89 assists last season. Corey Crawford will be in net for the Hawks. Crawford struggled early last season but got it together, and hopes to maintain more consistency this season.

 

Colorado Avalanche
Are the Colorado Avalanche really back? The Avs came out of nowhere and stormed to the front of the Central Division standings, after seeing themselves in the basement of the league. A year after winning the division, they’ll have a target on their backs. They suffered a first round loss in seven games to the Minnesota Wild, allowing 22 goals over the seven game span. That can’t happen if Colorado wants to compete farther into the playoffs this season, or to be honest, any season. Adding Nathan MacKinnon in the draft helped, and he finished his rookie campaign with 24 goals and 39 assists, claiming the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Adding to the youth of the Avalanche is Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, who netted 23 and 26 goals, respectively. These three young guns will continue to grow. Joining Duchene and Landeskog will be veteran forward and future hall of famer Jarome Iginla, who was signed as a free agent over the summer. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season and will try to help the defense out. Speaking of defense, that seems to be the issue over in the Mile High City. They’ve got Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie, but after that, they don’t really have much. Keep your eyes on that defense, because there could be a midseason trade to bolster the back line.

 

Dallas Stars
The Stars jumped into the playoffs last year with a wildcard spot, but saw their season fall at the hand of the top seeded Anaheim Ducks. This season, they saw their offense, which ranked 10th in goals per game, improve with a few major moves. Dallas traded four players for Jason Spezza on July 1. Later in the day, they signed Ales Hemsky to a three-year contract. Both moves immediately impact the offense. Hemsky and Spezza are expected to  be line mates on the second line. Second year forward Valeri Nichushkin will hope to make an impact this season, and jump up from the fourth line wing. Alex Goligoski leads the defense, one that can be described as average. Kari Lehtonen will stay in goal and comes off of a good season in which he had 33 wins. In terms of stats, the Stars find themselves in the middle of the pack in every major category. That’s were they’re expected to end up this season- in the middle of the pack.

 

Minnesota Wild
The worst kept secret in hockey this season is finally out. Thomas Vanek has signed with Minnesota. Vanek comes off of a season in which he was bounced in trades from Buffalo to New York to Montreal. Many expected Vanek on the first line with Zach Parise, but instead finds himself on the second line with Mikko Koivu. Parise, meanwhile, comes off of a 29 goals, 27 assists season. Ryan Suter continues his mega deal and will be paid 11 million dollars this season and will carry a cap hit of 7.54 million dollars annually through 2024-25. Niklas Backstrom will be the starting goaltender and will stand behind the fifth ranked defense in terms of shots against, and seventh ranked in goals against.
It took a three year, $19.5 million contract to land Thomas Vanek in Minnesota (Via Star Tribune)

It took a three year, $19.5 million contract to land Thomas Vanek in Minnesota (Via Star Tribune)

 

Nashville Predators
Former Preds Barry Trotz heads out to Washington D.C. to coach the Caps. Nashville opted for Peter Laviolette. Laviolette brings in the up-tempo attacking style. They’ll have depth at the center position, bringing in Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribero and Derek Roy. They also brought in James Neal in a trade for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Neal should bolster the power play stats, coming from the experience of the Penguins’ power play unit. The defense should be great as they’re led by Shea Weber and Seth Jones. The Predators hope that goaltender Pekka Rinne can stay healthy, after missing most of last season.

 

St. Louis Blues
The Blues watched as their 2-0 series lead evaporated in the first round of the playoffs, and the Blackhawks won four straight games to end St. Louis’ season. The Blues added Paul Stastny, a player that should help change the offense. There are many names that should help the offense: David Backes, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, and T.J Oshie just to name a few.Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk anchor the blue line once again, and Brian Elliott will man the net.

 

Winnipeg Jets
Devin Setoguchi and Olli Jokinen left to greener pastures and it might hurt the Jets a bit. Last season the Jets ranked Mark Scheifele will be up on the first line with Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane. Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba lead a defense that ranked 22nd in the league in goals against. Ondrej Pavelec must improve in goal if the Jets plan on coming close to the playoff race.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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2014 NHL Free Agency Preview

By Brett Malamud

Forwards

Thomas Vanek- 30 Years Old- LW (2013-14: 27 G, 41 A, 68 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Wild

Vanek has narrowed his list to “4 or 5 teams” and I’d be shocked if the final decision wasn’t Minnesota.

 

Jarome Iginla- 36 Years Old- RW (2013-14: 30 G, 31 A, 61 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Bruins, Wild, Canucks, Red Wings, Lightning

Unless Iginla decides that he’ll take a pay cut to return to Boston, I’m not quite sure how the Bruins will find salary cap space to sign him. This should be an exciting bidding war.

 

Paul Stastny- 28 Years Old- C (2013-14: 25 G, 35 A, 60 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Blues, Predators, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Avalanche

Speaking of bidding wars, the most pursued free agent out there is none other than Paul Stastny. Stastny grew up in St. Louis and so the Blues are certainly intriguing. I think that they’ll make a good offer. Colorado would like to keep him but could very well be outbid by a team that’ll overpay for him.

Paul Stastny will be reeling in the offers when free agency opens (Via Getty)

Paul Stastny will be reeling in the offers when free agency opens (Via Getty)

 

Matt Moulson- 30 Years Old- LW (2013-14: 23 G, 28 A, 51 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Sabres, Senators, Stars, Predators

Let’s get this out of the way: Don’t doubt a Moulson return to Long Island. The 30 year old still remains close with one of his best friends John Tavares. Moulson loved being an Islander. Isles GM Garth Snow made his mistake when he dealt Moulson to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek, who told the team a few months later that he wouldn’t re-sign. I’m sure Tavares will be chirping in Snow’s ear.

 

Mike Ribeiro- 34 Years Old- C (2013-14: 16 G, 31 A, 52 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Flames, Blackhawks, Predators

The Coyotes bought out Ribeiro for his behavior off the ice. Should be interesting to see who will take a chance on him.

 

Daniel Alfredsson- 41 Years Old- RW (2013-14: 18 G, 31 A, 49 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Red Wings

Alfredsson has indicated that his two options are the Detroit Red Wings and retirement.

 

Defensemen

Matt Niskanen- 27 Years Old- (2013-14: 10 G, 36 A, 46 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Wild, Islanders, Capitals, Lightning,

Niskanen is the top all around defenseman on the market in my opinion. The Lightning cleared a ton of cap space and I think signing Niskanen is the reason why they did.

 

Dan Boyle- 37 Years Old- (2013-14: 12 G, 24 A, 36 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Lightning, Rangers, Canadiens, Red Wings, Maple Leafs

Boyle’s rights were traded to the Islanders, but they couldn’t nail down a deal so he’ll hit the FA market. His age will effect his contract so don’t expect anyone to break the bank on Boyle.

 

Christian Ehrhoff- 31 Years Old- (2013-14: 6 G, 27 A, 33 Pts.)
Possible Destinations: Islanders, Lightning, Red Wings

Ehrhoff was bought out of his remaining seven years of his 10-year deal with Buffalo. Detroit showed a lot of interest at the trade deadline, so keep an eye on them.

 

Michael Del Zotto- 24 Years Old- (2013-14: 3 G, 13 A, 16 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Maple Leafs

Del Zotto was not given a qualifying offer by the Nashville Predators, making him an unrestricted free agent. The question with Del Zotto is: can this be a good value pickup? He won’t get paid as much as the others, so a low spending team like the Islanders may take a good look at him.

 

Brooks Orpik- 33 Years Old- (2013-14: 2 G, 1 A, 13 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Capitals, Blues, Sabres

If you notice, the Islanders were listed on each of the defensemen’s free agents possible destinations. Yes, they need a defenseman and so they’ll look at each one. I believe that they should sign Orpik but don’t think they will. He has a blistering shot and is a force on defense. A hard hitter, Orpik will be a good fit wherever he goes.

Goaltenders

Jonas Hiller- 32 Years Old- (2013-14: 29-13, 5 SO, 2.48 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Lightning, Jets, Canucks

This is a rough spot for Hiller here, sharing the market with Brodeur, Miller and Nabokov. But he could go to a team such as the Lightning and Jets who have a shaky situation when it comes to a plan B in net.

 

Martin Brodeur- 42 Years Old- (2013-14: 19-14, 3 SO, 2.51 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Maple Leafs, Devils, Lightning, Bruins, Blackhawks, Penguins

Instead of retiring, Brodeur will explore his options outside of New Jersey. I don’t expect him to be signed on the first day of free agency.

 

Ryan Miller- 33 Years Old- (2013-14: 15-22, 3 SO, 2.72 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Canucks, Sharks

Miller already met with Vancouver officials and my belief is that he’ll be signed by them.

 

Evgeni Nabokov- 38 Years Old- (2013-14: 15-14, 4 SO, 2.74 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Capitals, Flyers

Another interesting signing will be Nabokov. He wasn’t close on a deal with the Isles and so he’ll go out to free agency. The Capitals need a backup for Braden Holtby. Philly is over the cap and so I think Nabokov will end up with the Caps.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy