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Old 12-31-2017, 02:37 PM   #1
dannibalcorpse
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No Sleep Til Belmont: A New York Islanders Dynasty

August 30th, 2017: Late-breaking news out of Brooklyn tonight, as a front office power play has resulted in owner Jon Ledecky relieving Garth Snow of his GM duties, and head coach Doug Weight resigning in protest. Rumors are swirling as to what caused this rift, but the winner in all of this is assistant GM Dan Hampton - Ledecky has announced that, for the time being, Hampton has been elevated to GM and will also run the team behind the bench, with the help of assistant Scott Gomez.


-fast forward a few weeks-



Hampton has set to work quickly, hiring former Maple Leaf and Islander Wendel Clark as an additional brain behind the bench, and signing a few players to add depth to the Isles organization. Firstly, he reached into the Canadian collegiate ranks to pluck center Jay Merkley. Merkley went undrafted out of the WHL in 2015 and has been biding his time in the CIS since; Hampton apparently thinks with the right coaching that Merkley can become a steady contributor.

Also joining the organization were goalie Blake Weyrick, a 21 year old product of the US National Development Team. Weyrick was set to play for Canisius College this year before joining the Islanders. Former 5th round draft pick Viktor Crus Rydberg, last seen in the Swedish leagues, was also signed to an ELC, as was 20 year old defenseman Wyatt Aamodt. These four players are expected to start the season in Worcester, for the Islanders’ new ECHL affiliate.

This tumult all comes on the eve of the season, and Hampton announced at a hastily-assembled press conference his plans for the team. The Islanders were just shy of a playoff spot last year, and pressure is on for them to make some noise in the spring. The rookie coach has tentatively set his lines for the season opener, where he’ll get his first taste of the rigors of an NHL season.

The depth chart shook out as such:

LEFT WING
1 - Anders Lee
2 - Andrew Ladd
3 - Brock Nelson
4 - Nikolai Kulemin

CENTER
1 - John Tavares
2 - Mat Barzal
3 - Casey Cizikas
4 - Anthony Beauvillier

RIGHT WING
1 - Josh Bailey
2 - Jordan Eberle
3 - Cal Clutterbuck
4 - Josh Ho-Sang

DEFENSE PAIRS
1 - Nick Leddy & Johnny Boychuk
2 - Calvin de Haan & Ryan Pulock
3 - Thomas Hickey & Dennis Seidenberg

GOALIES
1 - Thomas Greiss
2 - Jaro Halak

IN THE PRESS BOX
D Adam Pelech, C/LW Alan Quine, LW/RW Jason Chimera

“The one thing we know coming into the year is that this team has plenty of depth at the NHL level. Guys like Adam and Jason are definitely going to get cycled into the lineup on a regular basis - I’d rather have guys get some rest during the regular season than worry about playing through injuries just to play in all 82. We’re gonna need fresh legs come April, because we want to make some big noise” the new coach was quoted as saying. “Same goes for the goalies - just because Greisser is listed first doesn’t mean Jaro’s gonna be sitting all the time. They’re both great in net in their own ways, and I think we can keep them both fresh and at the top of their games all year long.”

While most eyes around the league have been focused on Brooklyn, there has been some news elsewhere around the league. Vancouver made some moves to get younger, flipping Thomas Vanek & the rights to Tanner Brown to Arizona for youngster Lawson Crouse & the rights to prospect Rhett Holland; Jim Benning quickly turned around and sent Michael Del Zotto to Florida in exchange for 20 year old center Denis Malgin. Kevin Cheveldayoff made a rare trade for himself, flipping extra goalie Michael Hutchinson to Minnesota in exchange for a 5th rounder. The 2017-18 season is off to a tumultuous start - who knows where it’ll go from here!
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Old 01-02-2018, 12:29 PM   #2
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The first quarter of the Dan Hampton Era has unfolded very similarly to the way in which the Islander’s GM/Head Coach rose to power- that is to say, quite turbulent. 20 games into the 2017-18 season, the Isles find themselves at 10-9-1, in a three-way tie for fifth in the Metropolitan Division.

The uneven campaign has much to do with the struggles in goal for the Islanders - both Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have struggled mightily. Halak has come up on the winning side more often, going 7-4-1 with a 2.98 GAA and a .898 SV%. Greiss has similar numbers - 3.03 GAA and .896 SV% - but has struggled to a 3-6-0 record in his 9 starts. “Let’s be honest, one of these guys needs to start showing some consistency,” Hampton was quoted as saying after a 5-4 shootout win over Carolina on November 19th. “We’re happy to get a win, but I know both Jaro and Tommy want to be playing at a higher level.” It looks like the goalies will continue in a fairly even timeshare until one of them steps up their quality of play.

Offensively, the team finds itself in the lower third of the league in goal scoring. Andrew Ladd and Jordan Eberle lead the team with identical 5-8-13 lines, with John Tavares (4-8-12), Nick Leddy (1-11-12), and, surprisingly, Johnny Boychuk (3-9-12) right behind them. The biggest disappointment so far has been Mat Barzal - the rookie has struggled on the second line with only one goal and three assists in 20 games thus far.

DOWN ON THE FARM
Across the Long Island Sound in Bridgeport, the Sound Tigers have had similar fortunes, going 7-7-2 to start the year. Islanders fans hoping for help in goal will have to look elsewhere, as Chris Gibson (3-3-1/2.76/.894) and Kristers Gudlevskis (4-4-1/2.97/.891) haven’t had the most auspicious starts to their year. An unexpected bright spot has been tough guy Ross Johnston - in addition to his 5 fighting majors in his first 16 games, the 6’5” LW has also put up an admirable 2-7-9 scoring line. Late signee Viktor Crus Rydberg has shown some flashes in the ECHL, with 5 goals and 11 points in 14 games for Worcester. Overseas, Ilya Sorokin shows some hope for a future goalie, with a 1.78 GAA and .932 SV% in the KHL.

Around the NHL, the dominant storyline has been the Washington Capitals’ blistering 17-2-2 start. The Caps owe a lot of that record to Braden Holtby, with the 28 year old tender throwing up a 15-1-2 record with a 1.38 GAA, .940 SV%, and 5 shutouts in his first 18 games. Patrick Kane leads the league with 15 goals scored, while Sidney Crosby leads the league in overall scoring with 29 points (14 of them goals, putting him right behind Kane).

The trade wire has been quiet, as could be expected for this early on in the year. Only one deal of note has gone down - the Canadiens flipped Jordie Benn to the Penguins in exchange for pending UFA Ian Cole. Transactions are sure to start picking up as we head towards the midpoint of the year - Marian Gaborik’s name has been floated around, as the 35 year old is off to a very slow start in LA.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:50 PM   #3
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The midway point of the year has come, and there’s no two bones about it: the New York Islanders are struggling. After 41 games they find themselves 18-20-3, 3 points behind the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The team’s struggles were most notable in December, when they went 4-10-0 and gave up 4 different third period leads.

Goaltending continues to be the weak point for the team. Jaroslav Halak has the better numbers of the two goaltenders, going 11-8-0 with a 2.99 GAA and .889 SV%. Thomas Greiss, meanwhile, is 7-12-3 with a 3.09 GAA and .892 SV%. In positive news, the team’s offense has stepped up. John Tavares leads the team in scoring with a 14-19-33 line, with Jordan Eberle (12-17-29) and Andrew Ladd (11-13-24) next behind him. Nick Leddy (4-20-24) and Johnny Boychuk(4-19-23) have provided a punch from the blue line, but beyond them there’s not much cause for celebration. Anders Lee has scored 12 goals despite missing a chunk of time earlier in the year, and Brock Nelson has found the back of the net 10 times despite limited minutes. Mat Barzal has adapted to the NHL game more over the last quarter of the year, going 3-10-13 in the last 21 games.

League-wide, almost every team seems to be having problems keeping the puck out of the back of the net, especially when playing against Sidney Crosby. The Kid leads the league in goals (28), assists (36), and obviously points (64). The runner up, Nicklas Backstrom, is far behind him with 51 points. And despite strong performances from wins leader Braden Hotlby (21-3-3, 1.99, .917), goals against leader Jonathan Quick (19-7-1, 1.71, .923), and save percentage leader Aaron Dell (5-5-0, 2.19, .931), goalies across the league have seen a significant downturn in their fortunes. The average goals-against average is 2.73, and the average save percentage is down to .901, a far cry from the .913 the league put up in 2016-17. Pundits point towards the crackdown on slashing leading to higher quality scoring chances, but it remains to be seen if this is a blip on the radar or the new normal.

A few trades have been made as we head towards the new calendar year, most notable in Nashville as the Predators sent Pekka Rinne and a 4th round pick to the Candiens in exchange for Jonathan Drouin. Drouin apparently wore out his welcome quickly in Montreal, and surely his 5-8-13 line in his first 29 games did not help. He’ll assumedly slot into the top line in Nashville with Calle Jarnkrok and Viktor Arvidsson. Needing a new goalie to back up Juuse Saros, Nashville then flipped a 5th rounder to Pittsburgh for Antti Niemi; Niemi reported to Milwaukee to get some reps on the ice before heading up to the big club. The sell-off in Vancouver continued, as Jim Benning sent D Erik Gudbranson to the Preds for the rights to 2016 3rd round pick Rem Pitlick; the Canucks picked up another 2016 3rd rounder playing in college by sending Ben Hutton to Buffalo in exchange for Casey Fitzgerald. The Blue Jackets made a few moves to strengthen their depth as well - picking up Jay Bouwmeester from St. Louis in exchange for David Savard, and getting Troy Brouwer from the Flames in exchange for Jordan Schroeder. Finally, tough guy Micheal Haley found his way back to the San Jose Sharks, with Aaron Dell being shipped off to Sunrise and the Florida Panthers.

DOWN ON THE FARM

The Sound Tigers have broken out in a good way, running up their record to 18-12-2 behind the strength of wingers Stephen Gionta (7-16-23) and Tanner Fritz (10-11-21). Ross Johnston continues his strong campaign, with an 8-12-20 scoring line through his 32 games. The Isles have to be pleased with their future on the blue line: 2017 5th round pick Sebastian Aho has worked his way into the lineup with a strong 3-11-14 line in 16 games, while 2014 4th rounder Devon Toews (8 assists in 17 games) and 2015 3rd rounder Mitch Vande Sompel has put up a 1-9-10 line in 22 games. Goalie Kristers Gudlevskis has picked up his play as of late, running his record to 10-7-1 with a 2.48 GAA and .913 SV% and throwing his name into the conversation as a potential call-up.

In Worcester, the Railers have struggled mightily, going 5-22-3. Viktor Crus Rydberg has done what he can (9-12-21), but the goalie situation has been dragging the team down. Hampton actually traded Worcester’s starting goalie, Eamon McAdam, after an 0-5-0 start with a 3.96 GAA and .880 SV%. The Isles GM was able to extract a 3rd round pick from the Coyotes for the 2013 3rd rounder, so most see this as a positive for the Islanders. McAdam will try to resurrect his career in the desert and show he was worth the investment to John Chayka.

Overseas, Islanders fans have their eyes on two goalies from the 2014 class. Linus Soderstrom, playing for HV71 in the SHL, has gone 12-3-2 with a 2.03 GAA and .924 SV% as a 21 year old. In the KHL, Ilya Sorokin has put up even more mind-numbing numbers; in 13 starts, Sorokin is 10-3-0 with a 0.94 GAA and .958 SV% with 8 shutouts! The 22 year old Sorokin recently signed an extension with CSKA Moscow through the 2019-20 season, however; Soderstrom will be available to come over after this season and may be a more realistic target for the Islanders to focus on.
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Old 01-03-2018, 03:39 PM   #4
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The Islanders disappointing season continues as we roll towards the trade deadline for the 2017-18 season. The team stands 27-31-5, with their 59 points putting them 5 points back of the last playoff spot in the East. As January turned into February, new GM Dan Hampton started to make his first NHL trades, moving some older and more expensive pieces for potential future returns. First to go was winger Jason Chimera, scoreless in 7 games and a healthy scratch for the much of the year. Chimera finds himself in Edmonton now, with the Oilers sending back a 6th round pick. Shortly afterwards, Dennis Seidenberg (51 GP, 3-8-11) was sent to Ottawa in exchange for a 4th round pick in the upcoming draft. Finally, on deadline day, the Isles found themselves involved in three deals. Goalie Jaroslav Halak (15-14-1, 2.88, .897) was sent to San Jose for a 6th; Nikolai Kulemin (4-12-16 in 59 GP) was packaged along with a different 6th in exchange for LA’s 4th; and in the biggest deal made, Hampton packaged a 2nd, a 4th, and former 6th round pick Kyle Schempp(8-14-22 in 54 AHL games) and sent them along to Anaheim in return for defenseman Sami Vatanen. The 26-year-old Finn has 6 goals and 25 points total for Anaheim and will slot next to Calvin de Haan in the Islanders’ second d-man pairing. “We’ve got to be realistic - making the playoffs is still our goal, but with that becoming a steeper and steeper task, we wanted to set ourselves up for next year and beyond,” Hampton spoke to assembled reporters on the morning after the deadline. “Sami gives us someone that not only improves us this year, but an important cog for the next few years.”

Meanwhile, a couple of current Islanders have confirmed they’ll be here for a few more years. The aforementioned Calvin de Haan, a pending UFA, resigned for 3 years and $13.35M. de Haan has 5 goals and 14 assists thus far this year in almost 21 minutes of ice time each night. And, in the biggest transaction so far in Hampton’s career, he re-signed John Tavares to a 6 year, $49.6M deal. The captain and face of the franchise surprised many by only signing for 6 years - he’ll be 33 at the end of the contract, so there will be a chance for one more significant payday if Tavares keeps his production high.

This year has been no different than the last several for Tavares - he was named to the All-Star team, and at the deadline, he leads the team with his 24-30-54 scoring line. Jordan Eberle, recently moved up to the first line, has 17 goals and 41 points thus far, and Andrew Ladd has bounced back from a down year last year to put up a 17-18-35 on the scoresheet. The Islanders other All-Star Nick Leddy leads New York’s defensemen in scoring with 9 goals and 26 assists, and Anders Lee has done a good job finding the back of the net 18 times so far this year. Josh Ho-Sang has also put up a solid 10-11-21 line while showing strong possession numbers and a defensive game that many did not anticipate him developing so early in his NHL career.

Around the league, the Washington Capitals have slowed down a bit but still own the league’s best record at 42-17-5. In the Central, Chicago and Dallas are battling for the division crown; at the deadline Dallas holds a slight edge at 39-16-7 to the Blackhawks’ 41-20-2. Minnesota is lurking right behind them at 39-21-2 as well, so this battle should be very interesting the rest of the way. The Kings seem to have wrapped up the Pacific with their 39-18-6 record; Arizona is currently second in the division at 32-23-7 and 13 points behind LA. No one in the Atlantic seems to want to pull away - Boston (33-24-4) and Toronto (33-28-4) are currently tied, and Buffalo is 5 points behind at 31-29-3. Sidney Crosby has cooled off slightly; while he still leads the league in scoring (34-50-84), he’s been passed for the goals lead by Patrick Kane (36) and in the assists race by Jonathan Toews (52). Braden Holtby missed some time earlier in January, allowing Corey Crawford to overtake him for the league lead in wins (35). Jonathan Quick is positioning himself nicely for a possible Vezina win; Quick is 30-13-5 with a .916 SV% and a league-leading 1.84 GAA. Sergei Bobrovsky is right there with him at 29-11-5, 1.98, and his .920 SV% tops the NHL.

Meanwhile, the Islanders weren’t the only team shaking things up. Ottawa fired Guy Boucher in January after starting out 18-22-1; Dave Lewis, last seen behind the bench of the 2006-07 Boston Bruins, stepped up to helm the team the rest of the way. An even bigger name found their way to the unemployment line shortly after, as Anaheim cut ties with former GM of the Year Bob Murray and hired Tom Fitzgerald away from the Binghamton Devils. Players were on the move as well, with the most interesting case being Jaromir Jagr. In his quest to apparently appear for every team in the league, Jagr was traded (along with Tanner Glass) by the Flames to the Canadians for Charles Hudson and the rights to Arnaud Lazzaroni - but it didn’t stop there! After two games (and one goal scored) for the Canadians, Montreal sent Jagr to the Penguins with Matt Taormina in exchange for winger Scott Wilson. Pittsburgh had also flipped winger Carl Hagelin to the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick a few weeks earlier, and wound up moving Chad Ruhwedel to the Flyers and received Brian Elliott back in return. The Flyers were also involved in the biggest (in terms of name value) trade of the season, sending Sean Couturier and Mike Vecchione to Dallas in exchange for John Klingberg and the Stars’ 5th round pick.

DOWN ON THE FARM

Bridgeport continues its strong play, heading into the final weeks of the season with a 30-23-2 record. Chris Gibson has been stellar in goal for the Sound Tigers (16-11-1, 2.64, .914) and many thought he was deserving of the call to the majors over Kristers Gudlevskis, the Islanders' new backup goalie. When asked, the GM was quoted “Chris has been doing exactly what we want him to, and he’s found a great rhythm that we didn’t want to mess up. Kristers has been playing less over the past few weeks with Gibby’s hot streak, so we thought it would be best to leave Chris to do what he’s doing.” Former Rangers draft pick Mackenzie Skapski, 23, was signed to backup Gibson the rest of the way. The brass has also noticed that Michael Dal Colle has started to make strides. Still just 21, Dal Colle recently scored his 12th goal of the year and is currently 5th on the squad in scoring. Deeper in the prospect pool, both 2016 first rounder Kiefer Bellows (24-32-56 in the WHL) and 2017 6th rounder Arnaud Durandeau (29-32-61 in the QMJHL) have made a strong case to be a part of the organization next year, while the overseas goalies Linus Soderstrom (22-6-3, 1.97, .930 in the SHL) and Ilya Sorokin (16-5-0, 1.00, .953, 12 shutouts in 21 starts) have continued to give the team hope for the future.
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Old 01-05-2018, 05:31 PM   #5
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The Islanders’ 2017-18 season has come to a close. It seems safe to say that the upheaval at the beginning of the season led to a very uneven year for the team, as they finished 33-42-7, 14th overall in the Eastern Conference. Not to say that all was bad in the Barclays this year; fans were treated to yet another stellar season from captain John Tavares (33-39-72). Offseason acquisition Jordan Eberle scored 22 goals and his 54 points were second on the team, and 2016’s big free agent signing Andrew Ladd had a nice bounce back year, scoring 21 goals and 42 points in the 2nd year of his 7 year deal. Anders Lee had another 20 goal season, potting 21 to go along with his 15 assists. Mat Barzal had a strong rookie year, with 8 goals and 26 assists, and Josh Ho-Sang put up a 12-14-26 line in limited minutes. Nick Leddy led all Islanders defensemen with an 11-30-41 line, and trade deadline acquisition Sami Vatanen had 4 goals and 12 points in 17 games after coming over. Devon Toews had a late season cup of coffee and showed some strong offensive presence, with 6 points in 17 games on the third defensive pair. Thomas Greiss struggled in the first year of his 3 year, $10M contract, going 14-22-4 with a 3.17 GAA and .892 SV%. More encouraging was the play of Kristers Gudlevskis, who went 4-6-2 with a 2.31 GAA and .927 SV% after being called up at the deadline.

League-wide, there was predictably not much news after the trade deadline. The biggest moves came behind the bench - the Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Jon Cooper on March 18th. Cooper had Tampa Bay on the fringes of the playoff race at 32-34-5; many speculate that Steve Yzerman felt the flames beneath his seat and looked for a scapegoat. Longtime WHL coach Don Hay, last seen in the NHL as Calgary’s coach in 2000-01, was tabbed to finish the year out and almost pulled off a miracle, going 9-2-0 down the stretch as the Lightning finished 3 points out of a playoff spot. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill also felt the axe fall on March 30th - despite only 4 games being left in the season, Ken Holland wanted to get a jump start on next year’s coach getting to know the room. Dan Bylsma took over the 26-47-5 Red Wings and won’t he last 4 games, leaving the year off on a high note.

The scoring race held pat the rest of the way - Sidney Crosby (47-62-109) picked up the Art Ross, while Patrick Kane’s 49 goals won the Rocket Richard. Kane, Jonathan Toews(league leading 71 assists) and Corey Crawford’s 48 wins helped lead the Blackhawks to the President’s Trophy at 55-24-3. Crawford’s wins weren’t enough to get him into the Vezina race though, as the three finalists are Braden Holtby (39-16-5, 2.13, .913), Sergei Bobrovsky (39-17-9, 2.04, .917), and Jonathan Quick. Quick led the league with a 1.79 GAA, and tied with Roberto Luongo for the best save percentage at .920 while going 40-16-6 for the Kings, so he’s the favorite out of the gate. Crosby is joined by Connor McDavid (38-58-96) and Erik Karlsson (14-47-61) as Hart Trophy nominees; strangely enough, Karlsson was not nominated for the Norris Trophy. Instead, the Kings’ duo of Alec Martinez (15-31-46) and Drew Doughty (17-50-67) were nominated along with Chicago’s Duncan Keith (14-35-49). Rookies Clayton Keller (23-35-58), Nico Hischier (30-25-55), and Owen Tippett (22-25-47) are finalists for the Calder, and Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Jason Zucker are nominees for the Selke Trophy.

PLAYOFF PREVIEW: EAST


Washington Capitals (51-25-6, 1st Metro) vs. Montreal Canadiens (42-35-5, 4th Atlantic)

Alex Ovechkin (44-46-90), Nicklas Backstrom (30-60-90), and TJ Oshie (25-38-63) combined for 114 points on the power play, so the Canadiens need to avoid penalties. Pekka Rinne (13-13-0, 2.41, .906) will need to step up in Game 1 since Carey Price (33-27-4, 2.38, .917) is still nursing an elbow injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets (47-23-12, 2nd Metro) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (50-28-4, 3rd Metro)

Sergei Bobrovsky will have his hands full with a Penguins lineup featuring five different 20 goal scorers: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (32-46-78), Phil Kessel (28-39-67), Jake Guentzel (22-35-57), Conor Sheary (28-28-56), and Patric Hornqvist (22-27-49). The key might actually be Matt Murray - the goaltender showed some signs of regression this year, with his 38-19-5 record and 2.58 GAA being undercut by a .897 SV%.

Toronto Maple Leafs (47-31-4, 1st Atlantic) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (41-33-8, 4th Metro)

The youth movement in Toronto pays its first major dividends with a division win, and now Auston Matthews (35-37-72) and company take on a deep Philly team led by Claude Giroux (30-60-90), John Klingberg (22-37-59), and Michael Neuvirth (37-23-7, 2.83, .902)

Florida Panthers (40-32-10, 2nd Atlantic) vs. Boston Bruins (41-34-7, 3rd Metro)

Boston comes in missing both Zdeno Chara (8-25-33) and Brad Marchand (17-23-40 in 43 GP), and Florida comes in riding a resurgent Roberto Luongo (28-21-9, 2.32, .920) and a strong top line of Sasha Barkov (34-35-69), Vincent Trocheck (20-31-51), and rookie Owen Tippett.

PLAYOFF PREVIEW: WEST


Chicago Blackhawks (55-24-3, 1st Central) v. St. Louis Blues (41-34-7, 5th Central)

The Blues are going to need to find a way to control Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews (34-71-105), and Brandon Saad (32-57-89). Vladimir Tarasenko (45-36-81) will try and match Chicago’s firepower, while Jake Allen (23-18-4, 2.39, .909) will have his work cut out for him.

Minnesota Wild (50-29-3, 3rd Central) v. Dallas Stars (48-25-9, 2nd Central)

Devan Dubnyk (42-23-2, 2.14, .908) is looking for a signature series to cement his status as an elite goalie, while Jamie Benn (28-55-83) and Tyler Seguin (42-41-83) will try to continue the Stars’ resurgence.

Nashville Predators (42-35-5, 4th Central) v. LA Kings (52-23-7, 1st Pacific)

Last year’s Western Conference champs struggled at times this year, sneaking in as the last wild card. Jonathan Drouin (28-28-56) leads the offense, while Peter Laviolette has not announced whether Juuse Saros (15-15-2, 2.32, .902) or Anders Lindback (18-13-3, 2.57, .904) will be starting. They’ll be facing the league’s stingiest defense and penalty kill, led by Jonathan Quick and the surprising Tanner Pearson (26-44-70)

Arizona Coyotes (42-31-9, 3rd Pacific) v. Edmonton Oilers (46-30-6, 2nd Pacific)

This year’s biggest surprise, the Coyotes rode the strength of their young first liners Max Domi (27-27-54), Dylan Strome (12-30-42), and Clayton Keller (23-35-58) & new starting goalie Luis Domingue (24-13-4, 2.44, .910). Cam Talbot (42-26-5, 2.43, .915) continues to be a workhorse for the Oilers, who look for strong contributions from Connor McDavid, Leon Draisatl (37-40-77), and a player considered to be the best free agent signing of 2017, Jussi Jokinen, who scored 17 goals and dished out 38 assists in his age-34 season after signing a $1.1M contract on the eve of the regular season.

DOWN ON THE FARM
Bridgeport finished the AHL season on the outside of the playoff race, finishing 37-37-2. There were some bright spots - Connor Jones led the team in scoring (18-31-49), and Tanner Fritz had 25 goals to lead the squad. Michael Dal Colle showed a lot of improvement in his second year in the AHL (16-19-35), and undrafted college free agent John Stevens held his own in his first professional season (13-25-38). Worcester, meanwhile, suffered through a disastrous 12-53-7 season. There weren’t many highlights, but midseason addition Matt Gaudreau (4-6-10, 33 GP) and offseason signing Viktor Crus Rydberg (9-17-26, 50 GP) showed some potential to become key depth pieces for the organization in the future. Kieffer Bellows put up a 32-41-73 line for Portland in the WHL, and was named the WHL’s player of the month for March along the way. D prospect David Quenneville scored 16 goals and had 57 points for Medicine Hat in the same league. The most intriguing prospects in the organization finished their years as strong as they started - CSKA Moscow’s Ilya Sorokin went 17-5-0 in his 22 starts, had a 0.96 GAA, and an otherworldly .954 SV%; HV71’s Linus Soderstrom had a 26-8-3, 2.05 GAA, and .930 SV% in what many think is his last year before coming over from Sweden.
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:12 AM   #6
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Good work! Two questions:

1) What happened to Josh Bailey? He seems to have gone invisible in your reports.
2) How did Kulemin do in LA? Useful cog, or spare part?
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:17 PM   #7
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Hey sorry! I took some much needed time off work and am getting back in the swing of things.

Josh Bailey definitely regressed - he went 11-22-33 for the year. Didn't do a whole lot on the top line so I wound up bouncing him around a bit, he wound up on the 3rd line. If you're curious, the lines at the end of the year wound up being Lee-Tavares-Eberle, Ladd-Barzal-Ho-Sang, Nelson-Cizikas-Bailey, Prince/Quine-Beauvillier-Clutterbuck.

Kulemin wound up in pretty much the same role in LA - had a goal and 4 points in 15 games with almost identical ice time (11:22 in LA vs 11:06 in NY). He then got hurt in LA's first playoff game and missed their playoff run.
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