Because It's the Cap: Washington Capitals Offseason Preview

Megan Kim
June 20 2017 10:39AM

It's a familiar script, at this point, isn't it? Capitals dominate regular season. Capitals dispatch first round opponents with relative ease. Capitals run into Pittsburgh Penguins in second round. Capitals slink to the golf courses and/or to the IIHF World Championships in defeat.

Watching Alexander Ovechkin and company lose like this isn't fun for anyone except Pittsburgh Penguins fans, but who cares about them? They have back to back Stanley Cups, they don't need this too. 

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Because It's the Cap: Winnipeg Jets Offseason Preview

Megan Kim
June 01 2017 11:00AM

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© Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: The Winnipeg Jets were (and are) a better team than their 2016-17 record indicated. Unfortunately for them, you don't make the playoffs by being better than your record indicates. You make the playoffs by... posting a good enough record. And the Jets? They did not do that.

It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Jets, though. There were plenty of bright spots in an underwhelming season, and we all know what the brightest spot of all was. 

By the grace of the hockey gods, Winnipeg ended up with the second overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft, and voila -- a Patrik Laine, goal-scorer extraordinaire, at their disposal. That went better than anybody could have hoped, and if the season didn't go exactly as planned, at least the Jets can tally up a Calder Trophy finalist to their name. The bottom line? Barring a Laine sophomore slump and factoring in the rest of the talent on the roster, Winnipeg fans can look forward to the future with hope in their hearts. 

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Because It's the Cap: Arizona Coyotes

Megan Kim
May 24 2017 10:02AM

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© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody really expected the Arizona Coyotes to come out of the gate flying, although they took something of a step forward in 2015-16. If you've forgotten: They finished the year fourth in an admittedly weak Pacific Division, but strong seasons from rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair and Oliver Ekman-Larsson's best campaign to date gave Coyotes fans plenty of hope for the future. On top of that, the Coyotes firmly planted themselves on the analytics side of the fence when they named 26 year-old John Chayka general manager. 

Chayka went on to make some canny moves in the offseason, including taking on some deadweight in salary cap and drafting two first-round picks in Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun. 

You can't blame Coyotes fans for being a bit optimistic coming into the year. Not to be dramatic, but they were let down by some catastrophic sophomore slumps, a disjointed roster, and a down year by Oliver Ekman-Larsson's standards. Look -- Coyotes fans can still be optimistic. The best is ahead. Looking ahead is the way to go, because looking into the rearview mirror for this season? Not so pleasant.

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NHL First Round Preview: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators

Megan Kim
April 13 2017 01:04PM

This is part of a playoff preview series based at NHLNumbers.com

While some of the playoff landscape is not quite what we've been used to -- welcome back, Leafs and Oilers -- we're at least in familiar territory with the Central Division. Stop me if you've heard this before: The Chicago Blackhawks coasted to a first place finish in the Central (and the Western Conference) and will face the second wild card in the first round. This year, the second wild card happens to be the Nashville Predators.

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A NAHL Playoff Primer

Megan Kim
April 11 2017 04:02PM

NAHL Primer

Here it is, folks!

The NAHL playoff primer that none of you asked for, but are getting anyway.

If you're not familiar with the NAHL -- and it's okay if you're not, most people aren't -- here's the rundown: The North American Hockey League is the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior A league in North America. (In terms of talent, it's fair to say that the top NAHL players would be perfectly capable of competing in the USHL.) The ceiling for the majority of NAHL players is a good NCAA career, although it isn't uncommon for NAHL alumni to go on and play professionally. 

With over 1000 NCAA commitments in the past five years, the NAHL is genuinely a terrific route to take if you want to play college hockey. 

Recently, the NAHL has garnered some interest for being a goalie development hotbed -- shoutout to Connor Hellebuyck and Anthony Stolarz, who have both played in the NHL this year, and to Latvian goaltender prospect Mareks Mitens (we'll get to him soon).

Now that I'm finished sounding like an advertising reel for the NAHL, we can get to business. Because available statistics are limited and the integrity of said statistics vary from team to team depending on the off-ice officiating crew, take everything with a grain of salt. 

As Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney once said, the NAHL be a little bit "off the beaten path," but there's good hockey to be had, and the playoffs are as good a time as any to check in on a league you haven't watched before.

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