December 24 2015 01:42PM
Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff faces some big decisions.
The Jets currently sit tied for 2nd last in the Western Conference and last in the Central Division. Compounding their current struggles, the team is dealing with long-range uncertainty. They have two huge pending unrestricted free agents in Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien and restricted free agents Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba, two big pieces of Winnipeg's future, will be looking for significant raises this offseason.
With all that's on Chevy's plate this holiday season, we've decided to help him out. With this investigative series, we'll take a look on where the Jets are and where they could be.
In Part I we noted that the Jets' overall talent was not quite at the level of an NHL contender, especially as you moved toward the lower end of the roster. The Jets are, however, better than most bottom rung playoff teams (despite where their lowly current spot in the standings). In Part II we'll analyze which particular areas are afflicting the Jets at the moment, and try to quantify the extent of their issues.
December 23 2015 09:08AM
With the World Juniors right around the corner, it's about time we start sizing up some of the teams and some of the players. Today we'll be taking a look not at the Leafs prospects playing in the tournament, but the players that could one day ultimately end up being Leafs prospects. Let's take a look at the best players in this year's World Juniors eligible for the 2016 draft.
Canada is bringing a young roster to the World Juniors this year. And yet as young as the team is, there's only one player on the roster that's actually draft-eligible: Val d'Or's Julien Gauthier. The consensus 7th-best player for the upcoming draft as of right now, there's a lot to like about Gauthier's game. He's 6"4'. He has 29 goals in 30 games played in the QMJHL so far this season. He's got 109 shots on goal in those 30 games. He's got a strong combination of a myriad of different skills: he gets around the ice well for his size, he can handle the puck, he can dish it off to a teammate if that's the right play to make, and yes, he can really wire it. All of these factors combine to make Gauthier a likely top ten pick next June, and he'll probably be the second Canadian to have his named called at the draft, just after Sarnia's Jakob Chychrun, who was cut during Canada's selection camp process.
December 22 2015 07:00AM
Chuck Fletcher answered an important question that’s been surrounding the Minnesota Wild for months now by signing defenceman Jared Spurgeon to a four-year contract extension worth $20.75 million. The Wild now have the brunt of their defensive core locked up for the foreseeable future as Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, and now Spurgeon locked up until at least 2020.
With the 25-year old Spurgeon set to hit RFA status this summer, the Wild were faced with either opening up the bank and adding him to an already expensive D group, or dealing him to another team for younger and cheaper assets. Clearly they view him as an integral part of the team’s future, as his cap hit will make him the 34th highest paid defenceman in the league next season. So, was signing worth Minnesota’s money?
December 20 2015 07:00AM
It’s been a weird year in Tampa Bay. This time last year, the Lightning were firing on all cylinders. Steven Stamkos had an excellent season, Victor Hedman had emerged as an elite defenceman, the Triplet Line was taking the league by storm, and they rolled all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they were eventually taken down in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Then it all started falling apart. The team is sitting on the outside of the playoffs and they look like a shell of last year’s group and the dark reality that Lightning fans were repressing deep in the shadows on their soul has exploded into the limelight, as Stamkos inches closer and closer to free agency every day. And it doesn’t stop there, as Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and many, many others are in need of new deals over the next couple of years. Can Steve Yzerman make this thing work, or is the Lightning dynasty in Tampa over before it even began?
December 18 2015 02:00PM
Johnny Gaudreau is a special hockey player.
Way back when, in 2011, the Calgary Flames selected him in the fourth round and hoped that his speed, tenacity and puck-artistry from the United States Hockey League could someway, somehow translate to the collegiate level and that hopefully he'd turn into a decent professional someday. And here we are, roughly four and a half years later, and the Gaudreau selection seems like one of the most significant steals of the past few years of NHL drafting.
But now that Gaudreau has established himself as a bonafide, top-flight NHL scorer, the Flames will have to open up their pocket-book and pay the man. So what should we expect to see when Gaudreau's new deal is announced?