Huberdeau Out 3-4 Months


By Shawn Spatz

Florida Panthers Writer

 

Jonathan Huberdeau, fresh off a six-year extension with the Panthers, suffered a leg injury last night in West Point that will knock him out of action until at least January. This is a huge blow to a team that has also lost Nick Bjugstad to a broken hand for the first few weeks of the season.

 

It will be hard to replace the 59 points that Huberdeau had last season, good for 3rd on the team behind Jussi Jokinen and Jaromir Jagr. Possible replacements on the Panthers’ top line include team newcomers Jonathan Marchessault, who signed on in July for two years after showing flashes in Tampa Bay, and Jared McCann, who came over from Vancouver in the Erik Gudbranson trade. In addition, one of those two will have to see time on the power play. Marchassualt saw time last night on both the power play and first line after Huberdeau’s exit, notching two points in Florida’s preseason finale. Florida will most likely not want to break up the line of Jokinen, Vincent Trocheck, and Reilly Smith, who enjoyed success last year as a solid unit. Either way, it is a tough break for a young team trying to get back into the playoffs.

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Devils vs. Panthers Recap


By Sam Rabin

New Jersey Devils Writer

 

Devils head coach John Hynes hosted a very “old school” style of practice on Thursday in which he punished his players with 5 full laps around the ice for every penalty the team took during their scrimmage. Hynes did not like what he saw on Wednesday against the Islanders, in which his team committed 9 minor penalties en route to a 4-3 loss. Early reviews suggest that this harsh style of practice worked, as his team was largely able to stay out of the box against the Florida Panthers tonight at West Point. Unfortunately, that is one of the few positives to take from tonight as the Devils submitted a sloppy performance and had little to show for the extra 5 on 5 time their discipline granted.
The top line tonight was centred by rookie forward Pavel Zacha who was granted a chance to play with Taylor Hall and Devante Smith-Pelly due to Adam Henrique’s currently undisclosed illness. While both Zacha and Hall have looked promising in earlier pre season games, there was a noticeable lack of chemistry between the two as they both seemed to be fighting for the same areas of the ice. It can safely be assumed that Adam Henrique will be placed back on the top line upon his return. Another forward of note is 2015 3rd round draft pick Blake Speers, who has unexpectedly made it to the final round of cuts and has made a strong case for himself throughout the preseason. Though he remains pointless, he showed some great speed and hands as he attempted to set up his line mates tonight. There remains one more cut to be made and Hynes has said he hasent yet decided if it will be a forward or defensemen. Speers will likely be the final cut due to his eligibility to go back to his Jr team, but his extended time with the Devils likely puts him on the fast track to a permanent roster spot for next season.
On the defensive side, rookies Yohann Auvitu and Stephen Santini were given a final chance to impress the coaching staff before final cuts are made. While Santini was a favorite to make the team prior to the pre season, Auvitu has made a strong case for himself with 6 assists in 4 games while playing an effective quarterback role on the power play, something the Devils have missed since trading Marek Zidlicky back in the 2014-15 season. As this will be Santini’s first pro year after finishing his 3 years at Boston College, Auvitu(who has played the last 4 seasons in the Finnish Elite League) will likely start the season in the big club while Santini gains more experience in Albany.
The Devils started the game well as captain Andy Greene got the team on the board 4 minutes in by finishing a nice pass to the slot by Kyle Palmieri. Jaromir Jagr quickly tied the game by deflecting Johnathan Marcessault’s wrist shot on the power play. The Panthers went on to score 3 additional unanswered goals from Ekblad, Scievior and Trocheck before the end of the 2nd period, despite being outshot by the Devils for the majority of the game. Trochecks’s goal was the result of a mistake by Goaltender Cory Schneider as he turned the puck over to the Panthers forward while attempting to play the puck from behind the net. This continues a run of poor pre season form for Schneider which he insists will be corrected by the start of the regular season. Mike Cammilleri was able to get one back for the Devils on the power play midway through the third off of a pass from Auvitu, which ended up being the game’s final goal.
John Hynes will look to correct some of the mistakes made tonight and demand more of an effort from his team despite the games lack of importance. Defenseman Damon Severson was noticeablely hesitant to finish his checks which will hurt the team mid season. The Devils will look to avenge this loss at their regular season opener at the BB&T center on October 13th.

Coyotes Acquire Lawson Crouse


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

Coyotes GM John Chayka was back at it again this morning, making Arizona hockey a year-round spectacle. The Arizona Coyotes have traded their 3rd round pick in 2017 and a conditional 2nd in 2018 for Panthers prospect Lawson Crouse and veteran Dave Bolland.

 

Arizona possesses their own and Detroit’s 3rd rounder, the higher of the two by season’s end will be the one sent to Florida. The 2nd round pick in the deal becomes a 3rd in 2018 if Crouse does not play 10 games for Arizona in the 2016-17 season.

Lawson Crouse was the 11th overall pick in 2015 for the Panthers. Hoping to join his former gold-medal winning World Junior Championship teammates Max Domi and Anthony Duclair in Arizona next season, Crouse logged 23 goals and 62 points in 49 games for the Kingston Frontiacs of the OHL last year. A big, strong left winger, Crouse is more known for his size and puck protection than offense, but no slouch at scoring points either.

30-year-old center Dave Bolland is a veteran center, playing for Chicago, Toronto, and Florida in his nine years in the NHL. With a $5.5 million contract he inked after winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks still valid for 3 more years, and nowhere near as productive as he once was, the addition of Bolland seemed to be more of a cap subtraction for Florida. Although not worth the price tag, Bolland can still be a serviceable depth centerman for the Coyotes, bringing some extra experience to a ever-growing youth movement in the locker room. Bolland scored 5 points in his 25 games in Florida, also playing 2 games for their AHL affiliate Portland.

2016 Offseason Power Rankings


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Every month, Hockey Trade Central will be posting Power Rankings. They will be posted the 1st of every month during the regular season, and will reflect the previous month’s play.

 

The Power Rankings are voted on by the writers.

 

Offseason Power Rankings are based on how well the teams drafted, how well they did in Free Agency, and the trades the teams have made.

 

2016 Offseason Rankings:

 

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins /
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning +1
  3. San Jose Sharks -1
  4. Dallas Stars +1
  5. Washington Capitals +2
  6. Nashville Predators /
  7. Florida Panthers +4
  8. Chicago Blackhawks +2
  9. St. Louis Blues -5
  10. New York Islanders -2
  11. Anaheim Ducks -2
  12. Los Angeles Kings +3
  13. Philadelphia Flyers /
  14. Minnesota Wild -2
  15. Detroit Red Wings -1
  16. Boston Bruins +1
  17. New Jersey Devils +3
  18. New York Rangers -2
  19. Carolina Hurricanes -1
  20. Buffalo Sabres +3
  21. Ottawa Senators -2
  22. Montreal Canadiens /
  23. Calgary Flames +3
  24. Arizona Coyotes /
  25. Winnipeg Jets /
  26. Colorado Avalanche -5
  27. Edmonton Oilers +2
  28. Toronto Maple Leafs +2
  29. Columbus Blue Jackets -2
  30. Vancouver Canucks -2

 

Previous Rankings:

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. San Jose Sharks
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning
  4. St. Louis Blues
  5. Dallas Stars
  6. Nashville Predators
  7. Washington Capitals
  8. New York Islanders
  9. Anaheim Ducks
  10. Chicago Blackhawks
  11. Florida Panthers
  12. Minnesota Wild
  13. Philadelphia Flyers
  14. Detroit Red Wings
  15. Los Angeles Kings
  16. New York Rangers
  17. Boston Bruins
  18. Carolina Hurricanes
  19. Ottawa Senators
  20. New Jersey Devils
  21. Colorado Avalanche
  22. Montreal Canadiens
  23. Buffalo Sabres
  24. Arizona Coyotes
  25. Winnipeg Jets
  26. Calgary Flames
  27. Columbus Blue Jackets
  28. Vancouver Canucks
  29. Edmonton Oilers
  30. Toronto Maple Leafs

Atlantic Division Draft Day: Team Needs



By Bobby Bauders
Senior Writer/Editor

 

We’ll have four team needs stories highlighting the draft needs of the teams in every division. Written on June 23rd, any trades that happened after this story was written will not be mentioned in this story, therefore some draft spots may be outdated.

 

Our Updated Mock Draft

 

Boston Bruins:

1st Round Picks: 2

2nd Round Picks: 1

Total Draft Picks: 7

The Bruins have an aging defense. I expect them to try and replinish that in this year’s draft. Especially since Zdeno Chara’s days are likely numbered. Possibly Charles McAvoy or Jakob Chychrun if he’s available.

 

Buffalo Sabres:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 1

Total Draft Picks: 11

Buffalo needs to draft a defenseman here. They still don’t have their go-to number one defender. Expect them to take Mkhail Sergachev. He’ll fit in well with Buffalo’s system.

 

Detroit Red Wings:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 1

Total Draft Picks: 6

With the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, it’s clear Detroit needs to invest in their offense. Expect them to look at Kieffer Bellows, Max Jones, and Luke Kunin.

 

Florida Panthers:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 1

Total Draft Picks: 5

Florida has an aging forward core featuring the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen. They’ll likely draft a forward in this draft, maybe Alex DeBrincat or Brett Howden. Or maybe Rasmus Asplund or German Rubstov.

 

Montreal Canadiens:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 2

Total Draft Picks: 7

The Canadiens want a high-end scoring forward. Someone who handles the puck nicely, has good vision, and scores with ease. That player would be Pierre-Luc Dubois. He’ll unfortunately be gone before Montreal picks at 9, so they’ll have to trade up.

 

If they stay at 9, they’ll likely choose Clayton Keller or Logan Brown.

 

Ottawa Senators:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 1

Total Draft Picks: 6

Ottawa has a fairly old team all around. They could use a scoring winger or a shut down defenseman in this draft.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 2

Total Draft Picks: 9

I see Tampa going after defense this year. Their offense is good for a few years, and they likely want to strengthen their blue line’s future.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs:

1st Round Picks: 1

2nd Round Picks: 2

Total Draft Picks: 11

The Toronto Maple Leafs need Auston Matthews. Plain and simple. They’re going to select him, that’s obvious. In about 3 years, he will turn Maple Leaf hockey around. The Leafs will finally get their number one center.

 

They also have some holes on defense that they are expected to fill up with trades. Not to mention they’re actually quite cap-squeezed.

 

Islanders Moving on from Okposo: Landing spots


By Bobby Bauders

Senior Writer/Editor

 

Let’s face it, Kyle Okposo is not going to be a New York Islander anymore. This was all but confirmed when in an interview General Manager Garth Snow said they “wish him the best.”

 

Okposo who is now 28 is expected to draw huge interest on July 1st.

 

New York is having a difficult situation with the upcoming flat salary cap. Okposo has spent his entire nine year career with the Islanders organization.

 

In those nine year, Okposo played 529 games earning 139 goals and 369 points. This season he played 79 games, but came short of the 25 goal mark with 22 tallies. This was Okposo’s second most productive season with 64 points. With 11 games played in the playoffs he scored 2 goals and 8 points.

 

There’s always a chance that Snow could trade Okposo’s negotiating rights, but I don’t see that happening.

 

Okposo is going to be a highly scrutinized free agent given the interest coming from teams around the league and the salary he will likely command. Some teams he may end up with are the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, and Arizona Coyotes. Okposo is likely to garner a $5.5 – $6.5 million cap hit.

 

Minnesota Wild:

The Minnesota Wild are tired of having their hearts broken in the first round. Okposo could just be the combination of scoring and grit to get them to the second round and beyond. Although, Okposo will want a raise from his current contract with the Isles. Minnesota is projected to have about $7.5 million left in cap space. This could potentially leave Minny with only $1 million to sign other free agents.

 

Nashville Predators:

Nashville seems like the most likely option to me. The Predators are projected to have $11.5 million in their cap space. That’s impressive for a team that’s routinely competitive. With Okposo signing that would leave about $5 million to sign any other assets, or to keep on the books for a rainy day. Can you imagine the grit and scoring a line with James Neal, Kyle Okposo and Ryan Johansen? Sick. I could see the Preds in the Western Conference Final with a squad they would have.

 

Florida Panthers:

The Florida Panthers are another front-runner. They an even more impressive cap than Nashville: $20.8 million. That’s insane. Florida could use the extra production and grit to push them even farther through the playoffs. They also have the leadership of Jagr as a negotiation ploy. Not to mention a great young core that Okposo might be interested in signing long term with.

 

Arizona Coyotes:

The Coyotes have a new young 27-year-old GM in John Chayka. What does that mean? It means he’s going to look to make a splash. What better way to splash into the NHL pool than to sign one of the most coveted free agents on the market. Convincing Okposo to sign with the Coyotes may be difficult considering the club’s difficulties on and off the ice. But Chayka may find success in selling Arizona’s bright future to Okposo. Not to mention that he would be a fantastic fit with Head Coach Dave Tippett. Arizona’s cap space is a gigantic $37 million, so cap is not even close to being an issue here. Chayka definitely has spending room.

Looking at possible Patrick Sharp Trades


By Bobby Bauders

 

Obviously Patrick Sharp will not be on the Chicago Blackhawks next year. That’s no secret. They can no longer afford him. Let’s look at possible trades.

 

Florida gets:

Patrick Sharp – Winger

 

Chicago gets:

Derek MacKenzie – Center

2015 3rd Round Draft Pick – Pittsburgh

2017 3rd Round Draft Pick – Florida

 

Derek MacKenzie is a cheap replacement for Antoine Vermette. He’s not as good as Vermette, but it’ll do. Chicago asking price is a 2nd round and 3rd round. MacKeznie plus another 3rd in 2017 will have to do. Chance of happening: 35%

 

Washington is also targeting Sharp.

 

Washington gets:

Patrick Sharp – Winger

 

Chicago gets:

2015 3rd Round Draft Pick – Buffalo

2015 4th Round Draft Pick – Washington

2016 3rd Round Draft Pick – Washington

2016 7th Round Draft Pick – Washington

 

I don’t really see this trade happening. 30% chance. Washington doesn’t really want to pay this much, but it’s possible.

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the greatest chance of getting Sharp. 40% chance.

 

Pittsburgh:

Patrick Sharp – Winger

 

Chicago gets:

Chris Kunitz – Winger

2015 5th Round Draft Pick – Pittsburgh

 

The only problem I see with this is, it’s counter-intuitive. Kunitz is only slightly cheaper than Sharp.