Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Maple Leafs Draft

Who will the Leafs pick in the draft? The Maple Leafs' priority has to be a puck-moving defencemen.  We must fill up the cupboard.

With the first round pick, I predict the Toronto Maple Leafs select:

Nicolas Hague

A big defender, who is very mobile and moves quickly from side to side.  Hague is a very responsible defencemen who very good in the defensive end.  Nicolas has tons of strength. He will take out the trash when there is a need. Love this kid's guts. He will play with an edge. I am really excited about this defencemen.

With the second round pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs select:

Aleksi Heponiemi

I was told to watch out for Aleksi, a small, talented who can skate with the best of them. He is a pinpoint passer, who has eyes in the back of his head. Aleksi might be the most skilled forward in the draft, simply because of his hockey IQ.  He is like the Energizer Bunny. Everyone wants to hit him, but nobody can. He makes people miss and intimidates defensemen with his ability and speed.   Defense tends to back up when he rushes into the offensive zone.

The Leafs may very well be looking to grab a dman to help this year.  They realize that their weakness this season is the defense. They will attempt to shore up the defense with this draft. They are also looking to trade from strength to a weakness.  Meaning trading one of their skilled forwards for a top three defenceman.

On to the next picks:

Fourth round, Jack Rathbone defense.

Fifth  round, Dylan Ferguson Goalie

Sixth round, Kirill Maksimov RW

Seventh round, Josh Patterson C

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Calgary Flames and the Expansion Draft

Reblogged from Flames Scratch Pad

Are you excited about the Vegas team?

The only thing that excites me is losing Bouma. The Flames will either lose one of their young defenders or a third line forward. I desperately don't want to lose Alex Chiasson. His offensive contributions come in handy.  I hope it will be Lance Bouma; he is an easy replaceable fourth line forward. But unfortunately, the only way that happens is if the Flames arrange a deal for that to happen. Who do you think the Flames are going to lose in the expansion?

Next, who are my picks? There are many options. I feel it is down to four players. I am sure the experts will give you more options, but they are wrong!  That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

My picks, or who I think the Golden Knights will consider:

Matt Stajan

The Golden Knights may choose Matt for his experience.  He is an excellent penalty killer, who gets the job done.  Matt is a solid fourth line Centre. In fact,  he might be the third line Centre.  He will be a great example for the younger kids.

Alex Chiasson 

Alex was a pleasant surprise in my eyes. I was not expecting his twelve goals.  His size will help the Golden Knights on the powerplay, and he will not let the smaller players get pushed around.  His best quality is the garbage goals he can get in there with the best of them.  He could be a second line winger on the expansion team.

Brett Kulak

A solid chance in the NHL. I honestly believe that Brett will be in the NHL on a regular stint. He is a solid defender who has some spunk.  With the Flames, he is probably a fifth to seventh defencemen.   He could pitch in with some offense skill.  There is lots of time for Brett to develop the perfect fit for expansion team who can be patient with him.

Tyler Wotherspoon

Wotherspoon never truly developed into the offensive defencemen people thought he would. But if you do not make Tyler into something he isn't, you still have a young defenseman with some defensive smarts.  If the Knights are looking for a young, stay-home defenseman, Tyler is their man.

The Flames will be making some changes in the off-season.  So I thought I would pick Dearen's brain to see what some of the solutions could be:

Q: Who will be the Flames starting goaltender next season? 

A: I want to answer this question with two answers. No one will be the Flames legitimate starting goaltender next season and Mike Smith. I would love to say a young goalie like Grubauer or Raanta, but those two goalies are not proven goalies and may not even be available. Treliving and Brian Burke appear to like veteran goalies, and for that reason, I believe Mike Smith will be the Flames next attempt at a #1 goaltender. Smith is 35 years old and has a cap hit of $5,666,667 for the next two seasons. Mike Smith has had some injury woes, and that is why the Flames will bring back Chad Johnson as the backup. You don't like my answer? I don't like my answer either. However, the acquisition cost likely makes more sense than an M.A. Fleury, who may not accept a trade to Calgary. Another name that I will mention is Jaroslav Halak (he showed well in the World Cup). I know he was waived last year and I know the majority of people will tell you he is not a #1 goalie. And they are right. I hope you realize that I am telling you that the Flames will not acquire a #1 goaltender. The Flames will either have to make a trade and take a risk on a goalie like Grubauer, Raanta, or Condon, or acquire/sign a guy like Mike Smith, Steve Mason, Jonathan Bernier or Ryan Miller and hope they find their past success. I predict that Treliving goes with familiarity and acquires Mike Smith and signs Chad Johnson to back him up.

Q: Who will fill the void at Right Wing next season for the Flames?

A: Brouwer!! Oh, wait that was last year when Brad Treliving overpaid a third line winger and expected him to fill in our top 6 roles. I love Ferland, but he does not belong on our top two lines.

If we look at Free Agency, we see names like Radulov, TJ Oshie and after that, it drops to names like Vrbata, Justin Williams, and Patrick Eaves. Radulov and Oshie are both 30 years old and are going to want term and money. I am not convinced Calgary has a realistic chance to land either guy. Radulov will end up back in Montreal while rumors suggest Oshie goes back to Washington. Eaves had a crazy good year and is going to wait for that one team that will overpay him on a 3-4 year deal. I hope Calgary is not that team. I just don't see a legit top two line right winger that can help the Flames in free agency.

The Flames may need to get creative and look outside of the NHL. How about Valerie Nichushkin? I am not entirely sure if he can opt out of his final year with CSKA Moscow, but perhaps you can speak to his agent and work out a deal with Dallas. Nischushkin made it clear he was not happy with Dallas and returned home. Maybe a new coach in Dallas changes that? Nischushkin shoots left but plays the right wing. The 22-year-old has the size and the skill. Other names that I will throw out there are Nikita Gusev and Evgeny Dadonov. The Flames will have to get creative and take a risk, and perhaps they look in Europe to find a crafty winger to play with Gaudreau and Monahan.

Q: Should the Flames consider signing Jarome Iginla?

A: No. I love Jarome just like any other Flames fan. Jarome Iginla will be 40 years old and although he had a little success in LA, his best days are far behind him. The Flames want to play an up-tempo puck possession style game, and Iginla does not fit that style.

As much as we can use a right winger and need a goaltender, I am curious to see what the Flames do on defense. Brad Treliving and Brian Burke have recently been quoted saying that you need to have six very capable defensemen to be successful. Right now the Flames have three legitimate NHL defensemen under contract in Giordano: Hamilton and Brodie. A lot of work needs to be done on the back end.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review part 3, Proxy, by P.D. Workman

Proxy, Medical Kidnap Files #3

Meet Seth Wilcox, a typical fourteen-year-old boy who wants to get better. Nothing more or less; Seth has spent most of his days in the hospital.

Seth wants to be happy, but how can he be happy, when he is constantly feeling ill? Seth lands in hospital once again, and Social Services becomes suspicious of the situation. When a child is consistently in the hospital, it raises a red flag.

Gabriel knows what it is like to be an underdog.  All Gabriel wants is for kids to be safe.  A happy Seth would make a happy Gabriel. But what does that entail?  Why is Seth so sick?

As Gabriel and his soulmate Renata sift through the red tape, they find there is more to it than meets the eye. When Gabriel and Renata get involved in the mess,  chances are, they have bitten off more they can chew. Every step they take seems to further endanger Seth's life.

As you get involved in this thriller, you won't be able to put it down.  Watch as Gabriel and Renata go through this maze of intrigue. Can they get it right and get Seth to safety? His life depends on the answer.

Read a sample or jump to buy links.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Maple Leafs: The Year that Was

If I had bet you before the season started that the Maple Leafs would be a playoff team, would you take it?  I predicted the Leafs would get around 70 points, 80 points max. Instead, the Leafs made the playoffs with 95 points.

The Awesome 

Auston Matthews

Mathews, with his 40 goals and 29 assists, was clearly the best rookie all year.  Auston was used in all aspects of the game. He was deadly on the power plays. He was the complete player with a plus two on the season.

Mitchell Marner 

Mitchell would have been the best Rookie on most teams.  His 19 goals and 42 points for 61 points were impressive.  By far, the most impressive playmaker on the team.

Nazem Kadri 

The best pest in the game! Kadri 32 goals were a shock to me. That completely blows my mind. He plays with his heart on his sleeve. He has to control his emotions and start playing with his head.  Kadri was the complete player, often played against the number one centre on the opposition team.  In fact, he outplays Mc-everything, when they played the Oilers twice.

The Good 

William Nylander

William has the skills of someone twice his age. Nylander is a skilled, playmaking forward, who gained more confidence with each game.  He matched Marner's points, with more goals and fewer assists. William is the fastest skater on the team. He might very well be the most exciting player on the team.

Morgan Rielly

Morgan is probably the best defencemen on the roster.  He is the best in defensive zone coverage. He has a great shot and covers up others mistakes with his speed. He saved a lot of players' bacon, with his excellent defensive skills

Those are the few examples of how we can be excited about this teams future. And I didn't mention the goalie, Frederik Andersen.  He is very bright, and like Matthews, Marner, and Nylander, will only improve.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Calgary Flames: The Questions, the Answers

Now that the season is over; we can sit back and ask ourselves what is next. What are the Flames priorities? Obviously, the Flames have a wish list. Guess what? I have one too.  Since this is my party, my list is more important.

So here is my list in no particular order, of what I would do if I were the General Manager. Watch out Brad; I am gunning for your job.

NUMBER ONE GOALIE

Antti Raanta

The Rangers backup is a steady goalie who ready for more responsibility. Antti is a steady goaltender who plays the angles and will give the Flames a chance to win every game.

I love Antti. He is consistent. He is who he is.  You know what you are getting—a starting, capable goalie.

TOP SIX RIGHT WINGER

Patrick Eaves

Patrick is a sniper who would fit in perfectly with Johnny and Sean.  Eaves is a smooth skater who thinks with his head. He would be a perfect stop-gap. Flames could probably, sign him for a 2-year window, long enough for prospects to come in. The native Calgarian should be brought home.

NUMBER FOUR DEFENCEMAN

Kyle Alzner

Kyle is the best option for the Flames. He is a steady, dependable stay home dman. Kyle would cut down on the defensive mistakes.  He would bring a stable veteran influence in the dressing room.  He leads by example. He would a great help to the top three in the lineup.

These players would not fill all the holes, but they would go a long way to making the Flames a better hockey team next season.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Leafs down the Stretch

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a couple of trades at the deadline.

Bringing in Boyle will only help the team down the stretch. The rookies will look to him for leadership. He should be able to help the kids relax and keep level-headed. His leadership will help the young guns nerves. I know mistakes will happen, but Boyle will try to keep those to a minimum.

Eric Fehr was merely doing the Pens a favour of freeing up some cap space. But Eric can do some good here. He is a  solid fourth-liner who can be useful down the stretch. He is a solid penalty killer and is a good spark plug who can help the Leafs' spirits. He will help the team with his hustle and example. He will do whatever it takes for his team, which will only motivate the rookies to higher heights.

As the Leafs continue to stay in the playoff hunt, this will only help the young players' development. The big three: Mitchell Marner,  Auston Matthews, and last but not least, William Nylander, will become better players for being in the playoff hunt. They will learn how to deal with high pressure situations and will learn to do what it takes to win.

Regardless of whether the Leafs make the playoffs, they will be a better team in the future.

State of the Union - General Manager Review

The other day, Eklund discussed a topic which I found very fascinating. I normally do not do general NHL blogs, but bear with me, because this topic intrigues me.

Who are the cream of the crop of the General Managers? What criteria should we base it on?

Who is to say who is good and who is bad? This is based on my own gut feelings, so blast if you will.

The Toast to the Best

Tampa Bay Steve Yzerman

Steve is a class by himself for a few reasons. The first one is from the past for Jonathan Drouin incident. He did not let the player control the situation; he didn't trade him for the sake of trading him.  He stuck to his guns, and Jonathan has been a force in the team's success because of it. The second is for using the trade deadline to find a way to get rid of an eyesore contract. Convincing Ron Hextall to take Valtteri Filppula off of his hands was a miracle in itself.  And then recognizing the state of the injury woes of the Pens' defense and shipping Mark Streit out to Pittsburg was pure genius. This had a twofold effect; getting rid of the Filppula cap space and, far more important, freeing up the team to protect another player in the expansion draft.

Chicago  Stan Bowman

I chose Stan simply because of his ability to keep the Hawks competitive year after year. He manages to find players who are coal and turn them into diamonds. And then to fit them into the cap. It is mind boggling. How he does it year after year, I will never know.

The Pass

Calgary Flames Brad Treliving 

The trade that went mostly unnoticed was bringing in Michael Stone from the Coyotes. This move, along with the signing of Matt Bartkowski, has solidified the defense. The jury is still out on the acquisition of Curtis Lazar.

What were you thinking?

Los Angeles Dean Lombardi

The Kings must be grasping at straws at the deadline. The trade of Ben Bishop reeks of trading just to show people you mean business. But the main reason for "what you were thinking" is all the bad contracts Kings have done. Kings have a lot of bad contracts to get rid of. The worst one being  Marian Gaborik.

New York Islanders Garth Snow

Putting all his eggs in one basket on Matt Duchene and backing out on a trade with the Oilers, the Isles desperately needed a top-six forward, and they came up with bupkiss. Convincing JT to stay was victory in itself.