Monday, September 4, 2017

My Kingdom for a Defenceman

The title speaks for itself doesn't it?  The Maple Leafs lost too many one-goal games last season. The Leafs blew too many big leads simply because of nervous defencemen not sure of their responsibility.

The signing of Ron Hainsey will help, but he should not be a top defender. Ron will help with his experience and with a Stanley Cup ring. He will help the young kids and lead them by example.

His stats: four goals and eight assists with a minus eight. The Leafs need him to become an inspirational leader. A stay-home defender who is relentless at what he is expected to do. What is he supposed to do? Ron has to be the defencemen that say the puck stops here. He has to be the repairman in a house that is full of leaks.

It is common knowledge that the Maple Leafs need to trade some scoring. The Leafs are quietly shopping JVR, which may very well become louder and louder. The Bozak to the Pens trade no longer seems possible.

There have been whisperings of Bozak to the Rangers. The Rangers are in dire needs of a second-line center. Bozak fits the bill; the Rangers do have some young defense who might just fit the Leafs' needs.

I expect Nick Holden will be available, but again, I am not sure he fits the bill either. Nick would help he is not the repairman either. The Leafs have to consider shopping JVR. Like I said earlier, louder and louder. They are going to have to make it known.  Maybe they can discuss a deal with the Ducks. I am just spitting out names right now, but they need the help soon.

My kingdom for a defenceman.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Leafs: what to look forward to

Looking ahead to this season, what is there to look forward to? When it comes to the Maple Leafs, most of us think of the exciting forwards. So what do we have to look forward to this season?

Auston Matthews #34

We can be comforted by having Matthews for a very long time.  We can look forward to another 30-goal season from Matthews. I suspect a 70-point season from him. I think he will develop into a playmaker who makes him an overall better player. Matthews will be the leader of this team and will mature into a better player this season.

Mitchell Marner #16 

Mr. Marner blossomed into a dangerous playmaking player.  Mitchell will continue to produce. He is one of the smartest players in the League and will continue support Matthews as the leaders of this team. We can look forward to a 65-point season.

Connor Brown #12

Connor will be the player that will do the little things right. He will continue to develop into an all-around better player.  He will get his 35-45 point season.  Anywhere to a 17 to 20 goal season. He is capable of becoming a top-6 forward.

Ron Hainsey (Not assigned a number)

Ron brings a major cog into this team. He brings a Stanley Cup ring into the room. Hainsey will lead by example and bring stability into the defensive core. Will finally have some leadership in the defense.

Morgan Rielly #44

Morgan will be a better defenseman because of the emergence of Ron Hainsey. His load might be a little less and maybe less load equals fewer mistakes. This will make Morgan a better-rested dman in the playoffs.

The Leafs will have a bright future with a solid core. They will be a better team with more talent. They will be a smarter because of grizzled vets who will stop mistakes.  They still have a great security blanket in the net with Frederik Andersen.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

One-on-One with Ken Schott

Randy's comments in italics

What did you think of what Gaudreau said? Do you think he could be a Flyer some day?

1) I can understand Gaudreau's sentiments. He grew up in the Philadelphia area and rooted for the Flyers, so it's natural to think about what it would be like to play for the team you rooted for growing up. But since he's in year two of a six-year contract with the Flames, I don't see him donning an orange and black jersey anytime soon.

I was upset at the comments. But I also understand the sentiment.  I mean, I have been a Maple leaf fan from day one. I would love to play for the Leafs. Johnny will not play for any other team for some time. But I do believe he won't be a Flame at the end of his contract. 

2) I know you cover Union hockey. Can you name a player who stands out on the team?

It's going to be a transitional year for the Dutchmen, having lost their top two scorers in senior Mike Vecchione, who signed with the Flyers, and junior Spencer Foo, who signed with the Flames. Among the returning players, I'm going to keep my eye on junior forward Sebastian Vidmar. He was on the line with Vecchione and Foo for most of the season and had 14 goals and 27 assists. Will he be able to keep that production going with out Vecchione and Foo?

Foo is going to be solid forward. Simon will be given every opportunity to make the team. He looks like a solid prospect with a chance of being a top-six forward. Vidmar if he is close to Foo,  will be a good one.

One player who was under the radar last season was forward Cole Maier. He had a quiet, yet good season, collecting 15 goals and ten assists, and was second on the team in game-winning goals with four. A junior, Maier was named team captain. He has some big skates to fill in that role from Vecchione.

He sounds like a solid two-way leader with some punch. I look forward to seeing him. 

One incoming player to keep an eye on is Parker Foo, Spencer Foo's younger brother. Parker Foo helped the Brooks Bandits win the Alberta Junior Hockey League title last season and had 34 goals and 33 assists. He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fifth round of June's NHL draft. Can he follow in his brother's skate strides? We shall see.

He has good bloodlines. He looks like he has all the tools his brother has. I will keep an eye on him.

3) Which Flyer will stand out this season?

It would easy for me to say defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who I covered at Union. But it's not him. It will be right winger Wayne Simmonds, who has been emerging as a leader for the team. He was their top goal scorer last season with 31. He plays a tough, physical game and he's not afraid to drop the gloves. Runner-up would be defenseman Ivan Provorov, who was very impressive in his rookie season last year. His skill level and his calmness showed me he will be a top-notch defenseman in the NHL for many years.

I love Wayne Simmons, always have. He is a leader who always seems to be around the puck. He knows how to win and does what it takes.  A proven sniper who is capable of scoring 30 goals every year.

4) Are you talking scouting as in recruiting players or scouting as an advanced scout?

I believe scouting has changed over the last few years. Instead of looking for that hot-shot forward or a rugged player, scouts are looking for the "200-foot player," one that can be strong in the defensive zone as well as the offensive zone. It's not enough to just be a scorer. I'll use Mike Vecchione as an example. He only had 29 points his junior year and was just a plus-3 because the coaching staff wanted to be a better 200-foot player. That junior year proved to be invaluable, In his senior year, Vecchione had 63 points, had a plus-19 and was a Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist.

An all around hockey player, the one who can play both ways.  The League is no longer in need of an offensive specialist. There is more to the game than just scoring goals.  The League is not what it used to be.

5) Do the Flyers make the playoffs?

That is the million dollar question. They are in an extremely tough division in the Metropolitan. The four teams that made the playoffs from the division, the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, all had over 100 points. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup. For the Flyers to make the playoffs, it will be easy to say it comes down to goaltending. Brian Elliott replaces Steve Mason, and they still have Michal Neuvirth. But it's more than the goalies. They need consistency from players like Jakob Voracek and Claude Giroux. They need bounce-back seasons from Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere, both of whom struggled at times last year. And their defensive corps will be young.

My prediction: They sneak in as a wild card.

I figured they would be a challenger for a playoff spot. Their Captain, Giroux, does not quit and symbolizes their heart.  The Flyers will never quit, their style will keep them in most games.

6) Lastly, tell us about yourself.

I have been a sportswriter for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y., just outside of Albany, for 27 years. I covered Union College hockey for 25 years, starting from their transition to NCAA Division I hockey from Division III in 1991. I chronicled their struggles trying to make it in Division I to their pinnacle of winning the NCAA hockey title in 2014 in my hometown of Philadelphia. For 20 years, I co-hosted a college hockey show on various radio stations in the Capital Region. I produced and hosted the "Slap Schotts Hockey Show" on Facebook Live last season.

Before joining The Daily Gazette, I started my sportswriting career in Nov. 1983 while in college at the York Daily Record in York, Pa. I covered the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears for five seasons (1985-90) when they were affiliated with the Flyers. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and our family had season tickets to the Flyers for over 30 years. My most memorable moment was watching the Flyers win the Stanley Cup in the Spectrum on May 19, 1974.

Ken is one my most favorite people I follow on Twitter. He is always willing to help people when he can. He is one of the best. You can follow Ken on Twitter at @slapschotts.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Blog Questions With Paul Kreischer

(Randy's comments in italics)

1. Is John Tavares committed to the Islanders?

Yes! Some believed that if a contract extension could not be reached by now, that John Tavares may, in fact, be traded to get the most value. That thought process will continue as the season moves along, especially close to the trade deadline. However, Tavares has stated many times that his desire is to remain with the Islanders and that the Islanders want him back as well. Tavares will get the max 8-year deal, and as of this writing, let’s assume it’s worth 80-88 million. That’s a contract the Islanders can easily afford and Tavares has an excellent relationship with both Isles gm Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight.

What’s the hold up then? For all of their existence, the Islanders have been tenants in either the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum or their current home, the Barclays Center. The Isles have a golden opportunity to finally become owners of an arena that they can make and call their own near the Belmont race track. For those who do not know, Belmont is the third stage of horse racing’s triple crown event, and the Islanders want to build an arena in that surrounding area.

What the Islanders (and Tavares) are waiting for is the state approval from New York to permit the construction. It’s one thing to know you’ll be getting the security of being with one team and the money is always good, but it’s another thing entirely on where you want to LIVE. Tavares loves Long Island, but if the Islanders continue to have arena issues during the next eight years, it may be something he could walk away from before it begins. Tavares is very loyal to the Islanders and it would be the perfect story for a player who resurrected a dynasty franchise, won a Stanley Cup (or two, maybe three), helped build an Islanders arena to literally call home for good retired as an Islander and locked himself in as a hockey Hall of Famer. Many of the answers will come during the season, so there is nor rush for Tavares to sign right now.

I just can't see him in any other uniform. John bleeds New York Islanders plain and simple.

2. Which Islander is due for a breakout season?

Josh Ho-Sang. The Islanders off-season actually started last March when they called Josh up to give him a taste of the NHL after winning player of the month in the AHL in February. So let me reiterate that part, he earned his call-up to the Islanders.

In the minors, Ho-Sang learned how to be a pro,  committed himself to the team, and gained an incredible work ethic. When the results showed in the minors, he earned his call-up, and it showed at the NHL level. That made the trading of Ryan Strome easier and getting a player like Eberle only improves the Islanders. So what am I looking for from Ho-Sang? Well, he scored 10 points last year and Strome only produced 30. I firmly believe that Ho-Sang can put up more than 40 points. I think you’re looking at a young man becoming a core player in this franchise and more.

I am looking forward to seeing Ho-Sang progress this season.

3.  A lot of Islanders fans are worried. Give us one reason to be excited this season.

First, off they shouldn’t be. Yes, Tavares not resigning will be a distraction, but only to the fans. I’ll give you three reasons why Islanders fans should be excited: the aforementioned Ho-Sang, Ryan Pulock, and if he makes the team, western Canada’s Mathew Barzal.

As Randy will attest, I follow the draft since the Islanders began the rebuild back in 2008 and I watch as many minor league games (AHL & ECHL) as possible due to my home in northeast Pennsylvania.  I’m just under 2 hours from 5-7 of them. I predicted the Isles would draft Pulock back in 2013 and have watched his progression since then. He’s ready for the NHL, and that’s why Calgary was blessed to get a player like Travis Hamonic from the Islanders.  Pulock has been working on his all-round game, including his playmaking skills last year, his defensive game may not win him the Norris just yet, but after getting some help from players like Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg, he’s going to be a top-four defenceman this year and will not look out of place.

Oh yeah, he’s got a pretty hard slap shot too.

Paul is an elite hockey mind. He has many contacts in around the NHL. He has been close to the Islanders for years. I will attest to his credibility. He is one of the best.

Mathew Barzal is a real catalyst. He’s a playmaking center who has a chance at being this years number two center behind Tavares. Are 40-50 points out of the question for him? After talking to some people in Western Canada and depending on his line mates, he could very well produce such numbers.  For now, I’d like to be cautiously optimistic about him, but I’m liking his potential as an Islander.

I have seen Matthew play; he can skate his way through a phone booth. The kid is probably one of the most gifted players in the WHL last year. A skilled passer with the best of them. I feel that he is going to be in the NHL for years to come.

Speaking of potential, what I really like about Ho-Sang and Pulock is that their potential starts this year. The future is now; it’s time. Barzal would simply be the icing on a very big cake for this franchise moving forward.

Mr.  Pulock is going to help a Islanders' powerplay immensely. He has a terrific shot, with a high hockey IQ.  Ho-Sang is a sneaky power forward, with tons of potential. A terrific playmaker who makes things happen. 

4.  Whacky prediction: Name one thing about the Isles that will shock people.

The Islanders will reach the Conference Finals this year. That, however, is for another article. Speaking of future articles…

I have always said to Paul is a top-six forward from being a contender.  I still feel that way they have some very good talent. 

5. Tell us about yourself sell us your site.

My name is Paul Kreischer, and I’m a ten-year blogger on the New York Islanders. I follow the draft, the minor leagues including the Isles prospects across the pond, and of course the Islanders. The site I work for is called IslesTalk, and you can follow that on Facebook. You can also follow me on twitter at @P_Kreischer.  I will follow back, and I do watch all of the other teams so if you have any questions and would like an “out-of-area” opinion, I’m always around to talk hockey.

I would like to thank my friend Randy for the opportunity to come here and build some great connections with all of you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Leafs' all-time moments

Since this is the off season, I thought I would be sentimental. Today, I would like to blog my favourite moments in Maple Leafs history. Since I am extremely old, I will not be offended that most of you will think I am an old coot.

January 2, 1992 - The Day Dougie Arrived


Or as I call it, the day that Doug Risebrough lost his brain.  The moment that Doug arrived in Toronto, it saved the Leafs' season. Many people call the trade the most lopsided trade in history.  Doug Gilmour, Rick Wamsley, Rick Nattress, Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville went to the Leafs. Going to the Flames, Greg Berube, Alexander Godynyuk, Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, and goaltender Jeff Reese. To this day, many people feel it cost Risebrough his tenure in Calgary as the GM.

Leafs vs. Isles 1978 Playoffs


Lanny Macdonald's goal in game seven vs. the Isles was awesome.  The series itself was billed as David vs. Goliath. But it turned into a classic, each team taking momentum back and forth. What made it so awesome for me was the fact that I gave the Leafs no chance to win it. What made it sweeter for Lanny was that he struggled most of the season. Coming up with the winning goal was an emotional moment.

1967 - Leafs vs. Habs for the Cup


The series was the perfect Cinderella story. Everyone was making fun of the old farts. The Leafs had the oldest team in the League, led by their goaltending tandem of Bower and Sawchuk. Terry Sawchuck was 38 years old. Johnny Bower was 42.  Red Kelly being changed from a defenceman into a centre was bad enough, but he was also in his forties. Watching these underdogs defeat the untouchables was priceless. Dave Keon was in his prime leading the Leafs in scoring in the regular season, and he was the leader of the Leafs in the playoffs. Dave Keon was the MVP and recipient of the Conn Smyth trophy.

Dougie Gilmour Playoff Goal vs. Blues


A fantastic game played between two equally-matched teams. The highlight was a goaltender battle between Curtis Joesph and Felix Potvin. Curtis Joseph was not human that game, facing 60 shots in the double overtime loss of 2-1. Gilmour made dipsy-doodle from behind the net and Joesph could not recover in time for the winning goal.

I have plenty more, but those are my best moments as a Leaf fan.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Flames Then and Now

Originally blogged at Flames Scratch Pad

I dare say the Flames'  defense has never been so highly vaunted since 1989. Most people are putting the Flames defense in the top four in the League. Some say as high as second in the League just behind the Preds blue line.  How good is this defense? I think excellent, but only time will tell how good they are.

So, I thought I would compare the 1989 team with this year's defensive corps. Which defense is better? This is obviously subjective, but let's have a look:

1989 Flames Defence

Al MacInnis

Maybe the best dman on the Flames ever.  Al had three 20-goal seasons as a defenceman.  Although this was in a different era of hockey, twenty goals is comparable to fifty goals as a forward.  Al was a consistent all-star while with the Flames.

Gary Suter    

A terrific playmaking defencemen who would have been number one on most teams. But because Al, Gary never got any of the limelight. That suited Gary just fine.

Jamie Macoun

A steady stay home defencemen who you could always rely on. Jamie knew his limitations and rarely got caught out of place. Jamie was the player who blocked the shot when needed.  He was a stable influence on the defense to calm things down.

Brad McCrimmon

Brad was a solid defenceman with some offensive punch. Mostly on the ice to cover up mistakes.  An excellent penalty killer with a no nonsense mentality.

Rob Ramage   

His best years were with the Blues. By the time he got traded to the Flames, he was a service defenceman.  He was mostly there to fill a hole on the defense.  And he did. A solid dman who could be relied on in the defensive zone.

Dana Murzyn

A number six defencemen who played limited minutes.  Nothing more nothing less. He did what was expected of him. The only thing was, there not much expected of him.

Flames 2017

Mark Giordano 

The leader, the heart, and soul of the team.  Mark has been so steady for so long. When the Flames needed a hit, goal, or play, Mark is their man. He does everything well on the powerplay and penalty kill.  Most offensive dmen lack the defensive play. Mark does not.

TJ Brodie

TJ is a gifted young defenceman who can distribute the puck with accuracy. He is a solid, playmaking defenseman who can cover up his mistakes with his speed.  He could be as high as a number two on most teams. In Calgary, he is a three or four guy.

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie can do it all for the Flames.  An excellent, all around defencemen.  Dougie is involved in all aspects of the game, his slapshot highly underrated. He is used as the number one powerplay unit with Gio.  He is a slick, playmaking defensemen who can pass with the best of them.

Travis Hamonic

The highly-touted ex- New York Islander will fit right in.  The key point is Travis does not have the pressure of being the man.  He is a second pairing defenseman. He will flourish in his role. No pressure, and all the glory in the lineup this season.

Michael Stone 

In ninety percent of the League, Michael would be the second pairing defencemen. Unfortunately for him, he is on the Flames, which puts him as a number five defencemen.  Michael is not a flashy player, but he is consistently playing with in his strength. Rarely does he play out of his game, which is the main reason the Flames re-signed him.

Matt Bartkowski/Rasmus Andersson 

Whichever one gets the job will have Stone as a teacher. Matt is the most stable.  Meaning more experienced and more predictable.  Andersson is the more talented but maybe makes more mistakes. Either way, you get what you get in sixth defensemen.

Conclusion

There you have it. I feel the "now" defense is very close to any team in the League.  The only reason I would be leaning toward the "then" team is Al Macinnis.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Leafs — Decision Time

Everyone but the kitchen sink knows the Leafs will be shipping Bozak or JVR.  The most obvious choice is Pit for Bozak. The Penns have plenty of young prospects on the defense for the Leafs to chose from.

The name we keep hearing from the Penns in the Bozar rumors is Olli Maatta. Olli is a young dman who has tons of potential. Olli is a solid defenceman who can help with the defensive leak.

What leak? Let me show you my thinking. The Leafs are in dire straights for defencemen. Especially all around one, who chips in with the odd goal. The Leafs lost too many close games down the stretch. The Maple Leafs have to address the defensive breakdowns. There are too many scoring chances in the defensive zone.

They need a veteran dman who can settle things down. The Leafs' lack of leadership in the defense lead to much panicking; i.e. running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

I would go far as picking up two defencemen; one defensive stay-home, and one puck-mover. Their main obstacle is 50 contracts, which are the maximum number of contracts allowed. Then there is the simple issue of cap relief.  

So there is some work to be done. Lots of maneuvering of moving bodies to make the cap work and the number of contracts. Expect the Leafs to be making some moves. That is vital for them to take the next step to becoming a contender.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book review: Endless Change

Endless Change, by P.D. Workman

How far would a teenager go to keep a girl?  How much would he do to impress a girl?  Parker is a shy, typically awkward guy who has never attracted a girl. He is just in his own little world; he does not dare to leave his own little circle.

Enter Dakota, a secretive bad girl. Every teenage boy's dream-come-true. In a choice between a forbidden fruit or a boring fruit, a teenage boy will reach the forbidden fruit every time. The more Parker asks, the more Dakota hides.  The more Dakota resists, the more she strings him in for the kill.

Dakota is a girl who refuses to give away anything about herself. Nothing in life is free, right? But how expensive will it get for Parker? How much is he willing to pay? No matter what barriers Parker's mother puts up, he continues to find ways around them.  What is a mother to do? Can anyone save Parker from himself?  Parker is not thinking with his head. He becomes very valuable to Dakota. She is willing to entice, and Parker is more than willing to partake.

P.D. Workman draws you in to see how easy it is to brainwash a young man who has never had any attention before. How far will a teenage boy go? When comes to matters of the heart, there is no barrier.

Hop over to pdworkman.com to check it out!

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.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Flame trade deadline

Reblogged from Flames Scratch Pad.

I understand how everyone looks at the deadline as insignificant.  I can completely understand that it was, well, pretty boring.  But dare I say that if we take a deeper look, it was significant for the Calgary Flames players. What I am getting at is the message it gives the players: "We believe in you."

Most people seem to think that if you don't bring in a stud, you are sending the wrong message. But I think if it's not broke, why fix it? The Flames management believes in this team and its chemistry.   Chemistry is vital to a team's success.

So what do we get in Lazar? We get a young forward with tons of potential. What I like most about Curtis is his speed. He will fit right in. Curtis has a quick release and is an excellent passer. His weakness is in the faceoff circle. For that reason, I think he will be on the wing.   He is worth the gamble. A second rounder plus a dman who never plays is not too steep of a price. This year's draft is pretty weak.

The other thing I am pleased with is the acquisition of Stone to fill a weak spot in the line-up. Before the Stone trade, the Flames were extremely weak on number 4-6.  Think I am overestimating him? Look at their record since he was acquired!  Bringing in Stone to solidify the defense might just have saved their season.

Friday, March 3, 2017

World Book Day - Grab a copy of EDS, by P.D. Workman

Today is World Book Day, and as I've done a couple of times, I thought I would post a review of one of my wife's recent books, EDS, Medical Kidnap Files #2. You can find a review of book #1 of the series here.

Once you meet Katt, you'll never forget her. She has a way about her. That is because the only people who seem to meet her are in the medical field. And they appear to get to know her too well.  

Katt is a  clumsy, awkward teenager. She has awful time fitting in with her classmates. She spends more time with the school nurse than in her classes. She lands in the emergency room a little too often. While the world sees her as a clumsy, awkward teenager, the medical world sees her as a typical abused child. Either way, Katt's life is no picnic. And just when it seems like it cannot get any worse, she is told her mother is unfit to raise her.

Her only hope is Gabriel and his Merry Band of Misfits.  Who, as luck would have it, have had their share of misdiagnosed bloopers. As Katt fears the worst, can Gabriel and his helpers bring tranquility into her life?  All Katt wants is the life of a normal teenager. But there is nothing normal about this remarkable young woman.

P.D. Workman brings you an all-too-familiar torn-from-the-headlines drama. As you dive into this novel, you will forget it is a fiction story and not a biography. You will not be able to put it down. Do yourself a favour; pick up your copy today.

You can find free samples, descriptions, and buy links for P.D. Workman's other books at pdworkman.com.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Leafs' last two games bring a new perspective

Have the Leafs come back down to earth? The last two games in Dallas and St. Louis, the Leafs were running like a chicken with its head cut off. Or if you prefer, like the Keystone Cops.

The defense looked tentative, unsure of themselves. They looked like a young, clumsy defense. Obviously, I am not saying it's time to blow the team up. I am saying maybe we should cool our jets.

The Leafs are a young team still trying to find their identity. They are a fast young team who have the ability to play with the big boys.

Babcock has to bring in the troops; he has to get back to where they were. He will have to figure out what went wrong. The last two games were helter skelter. All of a sudden, the Leafs have shown their youth.

We have to get back to the basics. Defense first; the offense will take care of itself. Stop passing the puck blindly and start thinking ahead. The defense is a task done by committee. It is everyone's responsibility. There are way too many breakaways and two-on-ones in the game. Anderson might have been weak in the Stars game, but the Blues game he had no support. For this team to be successful, that has to stop.

Babcock has to put his ship back in order.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Calgary Flames: there are no words

Reblogged from Flames Scratchpad

There have to be changes made to this team soon. Goaltending is awful. They are not making the saves when needed. The defense is bad at best, and that is being kind. Gio, Brodie, and Hamilton have to be better and play smarter.

They have allowed too many blind passes in their own zone. They have to play smarter and pinch at the right times. Too many two-on-ones. And, of course, stop the merry-go-round with the sixth dman. The Flames need to make up their minds who is in and who isn't.

As for the forwards; don't get me started. We are basically a one-line team. Monahan and Johnny are not interested, and of course, we don't have a  third-line winger. The Flames never faced the issue of getting another top-6 forward and are paying for it now.

Bennett is looking like a confused puppy who has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. Stajan has been pretty good. The problem is the fourth-line centre forward showing no push-back. Where is the emotion? This team looks like they have packed it in for the season and are making plans for the summer vacation.

There has to be urgency in the Flames' play.  Once the first bad goal goes in, the team looks like 'here we go again!'

True, the goaltending has to be better, but the team has to show more heart. I am the first to admit the goalies have given up their share of bad goals. But it is hard to win when you cannot score and do not bother to show up until the third period. There is no emotion once this team falls behind. It's like they say, 'well, that's it. Time to pack it in.'

The management has a whole bunch of holes to fix and a coach that no one likes. Players will not listen to him, and he does not have the guts to make them. Players have to have repercussions for the way they play. They have no one to answer to. Or should I say, the stars have no need to listen, but if you're not the star, that is a different story? The third- and fourth-liners have a whole different standard to live up to than the stars.  And yes, that is adding to the problem. There have to be consequences for everyone, including the leaders.

Oh yes, there are a lot of holes in this ship that cannot be fixed with duct tape.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Leafs stand pat

I am excited to see this Maple Leafs team play this season. I am worried, though, that there will be pressure to add at the deadline. The future looks bright; I just don't want to darken it with a silly trade for a win-now moment.

We have plenty of skilled forwards who will continue to give us a surplus of scoring. The Leafs will always have no trouble scoring. What  Toronto needs is a number four defencemen who is reliable in his own end.

Too many times this season, we have let big leads slip away. The Maple Leafs have to play smarter and more responsible in their own end. Too much panic in their own zone. A solid, versatile, dependable defenceman would be the perfect add.

Now at this moment, we cannot in good conscience trade the veteran forwards. As long as the team remains in the playoff hunt, management has to give the team a chance of making the playoffs. As long as the team continues to win, management can not in any way discourage that.  A rebuild too early would clearly give the wrong message to the team and their fans.

So I as have at it, enjoy the experience and the ride. As long as the team stays close, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Go Leafs go.

Flames Needs

Originally blogged at Flames Scratch Pad


Have you seen this person? If seen, please contact the Calgary Flames organization! Okay, it's not that bad, but Shawn Monahan has struggled this year.

Is it the pressure of a big contract? Or maybe it's the system? Either way, Shawn seems to have lost his way to the yellow brick road. I do not know the reasoning, but it sure looks like he has lost his mojo. He has been struggling with the puck, fighting it like a hot potato.

The other elephant in the room that the Flames need to address is the top six forward. It is no secret the Flames are in dire need of a scoring right winger.

I suspect the Flames are mocking the asking price. It seems the sellers are very greedy; there simply are not enough sellers. There are slim pickings right now; this issue might not get filled until the deadline.

So let's try to address the issue of who the Flames should have as the targets. In no particular order:

Brock Nelson 

The Islanders are in trouble, being in the toughest division. Brock is a skilled young cheap forward.  It is no secret that Bennett has been struggling. Maybe moving him to the wing could help.  And penciling in Nelson there.

Patrick Sharp

Might be the best option. Patrick is not exactly having a great year, but he has a ton of skill. His expiring contract makes him expendable; he might be the power right wing the Flames so desperately need.

Martin Hanzal



A skilled young center who is a UFA at the end of the season. Martin is a big skilled forward for the Coyotes who has a ton of potential. He has never lived up to the hype. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good. Again, I like the idea of moving Bennett to the wing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review: Mito Medical Kidnap File #1



This is a review of Mito, Medical Kidnap Files #1, by P.D. Workman (my wife.)

If you want real insight into disease, you can come to the right place. Pam gives you a perfect insight into the life of a teenager you do not want to be. Gabriel has been one sick puppy all his life, and trial after trial. The only person he can trust is his mother. All medical advice be damned, she goes against the recommended treatment plan. Who can trust the medical system now anyway? It is a medical system that is governed by one motivating factor: the almighty dollar.   

Gabriel refuses to give up.  He has no idea to who he can trust until he meets a crazy girl named Renata. She fills his head with conspiracy theories. She is the only friend he has, as he has lost his mother to the system.   

Follow along with them through every crazy adventure, Gabriel and Renata elude the law, doctors, and social workers as they try to make their voices heard. Where can they find an understanding ear? Will anyone believe them?  

More importantly, can they find a judge to listen or a nurse to stand up for them? How far will the doctors go to stop them from talking? This book takes you into the reality about a medical disorder that few people know about that affects far too many kids. They need to be heard and seen. It is a book that you hope is based more on fiction than on reality. Your heart will ache for the kids who actually suffer from mito. As a parent, it will make you pray for a cure. I grew closer to Gabriel with each chapter. A truly classic book that needs to be read. My wife Pam continues to amaze with each novel she writes. 

This book scares me and makes me want to find ways to help Gabriel succeed. You will find yourself standing on your feet yelling for the injustice to these kids. An inspiring book that makes me thirst for more. A true adventure for the underdog. 




Leafs Update

The kids continue to play lights-out this season. In fact, they continue to keep the Leafs in the playoff hunt. Who would have believed the Leafs would be still in the hunt this late in the season? Here comes the golden question one more time: Who deserves the credit for the Leafs being positioned as they are? I have a theory on that.  Here is my list, besides the obvious kids this season.

James van Riemsdyk

James has been rock solid, on track for another 20-goal season. In fact, he is closer to a 30-goal season.  He is a contributor to the powerplay unit as well, adding five powerplay goals so far this season.  He has been a stable influence on Marner plays. JVR has used his strength to his advantage. It is hard to take off his skates. He has been a force all season.

Matt Hunwick

I know it seems odd that I have included this name.  Matt has been very good this season; he has been a solid support to Morgan Rielly in the defensive zone coverage.  He is a rock in the defensive zone, and his +5 backs that up. He is a vet and is a great leader to the young kids. Matt is a valuable asset to the Leafs. Without him, Morgan Reilly would that much more in trouble. You have to love this kid's heart.  His courage is second to none. A great leader on the Leafs' blue line.

Frederik Andersen

The real Anderson has shown up and been consistent of late. He continues to hold the Leafs game-in and game-out. He continues to block that next goal. He has rarely has taken the night off. It might have taken take him time, but Anderson has emerged as the top goaltender the Leafs believed him to be.

Conclusion

The Leafs made a management decision no one thought possible.  If they continue to battle the odds and stay in the playoffs, do they actually buy at the playoff deadline or continue to hold the fort?

To add to the drama, everyone knows the Leafs could use a steady vet on the defense, a number four no-nonsense guy who can add to the toughness. Will they add at the deadline? Or do they fill the need in the offseason? Only time will tell.




Flames progress

I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. So tell me, why?  What is making the Flames a better team? I have a theory on that; well, at least, on elements which may have been in play. 

Flames Powerplay 

It looks like Mr. Cameron has all the players on board with him. Monahan has been especially good in the slot. He has been quite the sniper of late. The resurgence of Dougie Hamilton has been a major factor in the powerplay success. One could say the Flames have found their powerplay quarterback. Dougie has finally filled a desperate need, which the Flames have not had in years. The final factor: Mr. Johnny is back; I finally see the fire in his eyes. I don't know where he has been lately, but it so nice to see signs of the old Johnny of late. 

Flames Penalty Kill 

Mr. Stajan has been a workhorse. At times, he has been the best forward on the ice. But he has had help this season on the penalty kill in Deryk Engelland. The steady defender has been the biggest surprise this season. He has been consistent this season, doing everything that has been expected of him. Mr. Mikael Backlund has stepped up his game in the kill; his speed has been an intimidating force in the success of the kill. The major success is Flames are sticking to the box.  There not being caught out of position, keeping an eye on the puck at all times. 

Best line all season: Backlund, Frolik, Tkachuk. 

The heading says it all.  This line combo is really a line three in name only.  The three have been working together like a well-oiled machine. It's like they have been best friends for life. Backlund has found a new lease on life with his mates. He is the perfect distributor for two power forwards. Tkachuk is a beast, the power forward the Flames have been missing since some guy named Iggy. His strength in the corners is amazing. Frolik and Backlund have chemistry, together seems like Frolik knows exactly what Backlund is thinking.  Here is hoping this line continues to carry this team for the rest of the season. 

Conclusion 

Troy Brouwer injury has brought up an interesting inquiry.  Do the Flames jump in and fill a need right away? Or do they dare stand pat? Which leads me to the fan poll question this week: Do we dare bring Iggy back for one last hurrah?