Tuesday, June 25, 2019

2019 NHL Draft recap

Last weekend, the NHL Draft happened in Vancouver, and there were a few surprises and some trades, most of them happening on the second day. Let's see what each team did.

1. New Jersey Devils-Jack Hughes, C, US NTDP (USHL)

One of two things you could have predicted correctly, the Devils went for the dynamic US-born talent in Hughes. He does come with size concerns, but so did Patrick Kane when he came out for his draft year. He figures to slot in right away as a second-line center behind Nico Hischier, and has the potential to elevate the games of Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman.

2. New York Rangers-Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Finland)

The other thing you could have seen coming, the Rangers went for a player that raised his stock in the last year with clutch performances on the world's biggest stages. Had he played more center, it was possible that he could have gone first overall. As it is, Kakko falls into a good situation, playing alongside either Mikka Zibanejad or Chris Kreider.

3. Chicago Blackhawks-Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)

A mild surprise, since Dylan Cozens was seen as the better WHL prospect of the two, but Dach has skill and the potential is higher than Cozens'. A playmaker, he has a great chance to continue to develop his game while both Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome hold down the fort in Chicago down the middle.

4. Colorado Avalanche-Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL)

Having the luxury of picking the best player available since they have another pick at 16, the Avs decided to further bolster their blueline with the best defender in the draft. Byram has a few things to clean up, but his stock was helped considerably by his performance in the WHL playoffs. He won't be rushed to Colorado right away, since their defensive unit is good, even if they do decide to move Tyson Barrie.

5. Los Angeles Kings-Alex Turcotte, C, US NTDP (USHL)

Injuries this past year were a concern coming into the draft for Turcotte, but his skill was not. The Wisconsin commit will bring strong two-way play and a chance to shine without playing behind Hughes.

6. Detroit Red Wings-Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (Germany)

The first real surprise of the draft, Seider wasn't seen as a top 10 pick in most drafts, but his size and puck moving ability are starting points for why he was a worthy first rounder. He's a couple years away, but the potential is there to be at worst, a solid second pairing player.

7. Buffalo Sabres-Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL)

A power forward that has potential to be a top line center, he does need to gain a little weight, but that will come with time. Buffalo needed offense, and Cozens can provide that.

8. Edmonton Oilers-Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Sweden)

His stock took a bit of a hit as his team didn't trust him as much in the second half of the season, but that did not scare off an Oilers team desperate to cobble together a blue line. He has to answer questions about his puck-moving skills, but his size and skating are unquestioned.

9. Anaheim Ducks-Trevor Zegras, C, US NTDP (USHL)

Another center stuck behind Jack Hughes, Zegras is a playmaker that has the ability to shoot, but he will need to have a more prominent role to fully realize his potential, something that will happen at the next level, whether it is Boston University or Mississauga of the OHL.

10. Vancouver Canucks-Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA-Neva (Russia)

Thought to have been a top 5 pick, the fact that he will remain in Russia for two years scared off some teams. He has offensive potential, but he also carries a bit of a mean streak, something that Vancouver has needed for years.

11. Arizona Coyotes-Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (Sweden)

The Coyotes moved up to this spot by switching spots and giving up their second rounder to Philadelphia. He's not big, but he does have offensive skill that will translate to today's NHL.

12. Minnesota Wild-Matthew Boldy, LW, US NTDP (USHL)

Consistency was an issue with Boldy, but his goal scoring prowess is what caught notice of scouts. He is headed to Boston College, where he will have time to round out his game.

13. Florida Panthers-Spencer Knight, G, US NTDP (USHL)

Florida's goaltending situation is as close to dire straits as it gets, with Roberto Luongo undecided on what he wants to do, James Reimer being a shell of his former self, and Sam Montembault not ready for prime time. There's also nothing behind Montembault, which makes the Knight pick the only one they could have made here. Knight has the potential to be a starter within three years.

14. Philadelphia Flyers-Cam York, D, US NTDP (USHL)

The Flyers traded back from 11 to acquire an extra pick, which they sent to Nashville (that pick had been acquired in a trade with New Jersey) to move up in the second round to take Bobby Brink. On paper, the Flyers should have good defensive depth, but not many of them have developed as hoped. York is an offensive defender who can help on the power play.

15. Montreal Canadiens-Cole Caufield, RW, US NTDP (USHL)

Like Alex DeBrincat in his draft year, Caufield saw his stock drop due to his size. However, he scores a lot, and the Canadiens were desperate for a scoring winger, now that their center depth is now sorted out for the moment.

16. Colorado Avalanche-Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL)

The Boston College commit put up numbers in the BCHL reminiscent of now-current teammate Tyson Jost when he came into his draft year from the BCHL. He is skilled, but college is a jump from lower level junior. Still, the potential is there to be better than advertised.

17. Vegas Golden Knights-Peyton Krebs, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

Seen as a top-10 pick before an injury that occured a few weeks ago, Krebs already has the character, having played the majority of his WHL career on some bad Kootenay squads. His skill was on full display in the Prospects Game in January when given a shot to perform with better players.

18. Dallas Stars-Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL)

A solid two-way defender, Harley's offense is only going to get better. Seen as a safe pick, he has the potential to play in the NHL for many seasons.

19. Ottawa Senators-Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL)

His shot and puck moving ability are way ahead of his defense, and he is still acclimating to the North American game, but Thomson improved as the season went along, and there is reason to believe he will continue to develop the rest of his game.

20. Winnipeg Jets-Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (Finland)

Winnipeg got this pick back from the Rangers in the Jacob Trouba trade, and they addressed a potential glaring hole on the blue line with a solid puck mover in Heinola. Skating is an issue, but can be corrected, and his overall game reminds many of Miro Heiskanen.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins-Samuel Poulin, LW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

Pittsburgh needed to replenish their pipeline, and Poulin brings bloodlines and a power forward presence not seen in Pittsburgh in a while. He has scoring ability, but that is through work ethic more than skill, but his skill isn't something to overlook.

22. Los Angeles Kings-Tobias Bjornfort, D, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden)

Solid defender who has no standout abilities, he has the leadership capabilities, and can be on an NHL roster for years to come. Still, this seems like the Kings could have gone for better here.

23. New York Islanders-Simon Holmstrom, RW, HV71 Jr. (Sweden)

The Islanders went way off the board here, picking a player who has offensive ability, but also had injury issues. Yes, the Islanders have a deep prospect pool, but was Holmstrom a better pick than someone like Raphael Lavoie, who went 15 spots later and was a higher ranked prospect.

24. Nashville Predators-Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara (OHL)

This was a pick that I thought would happen, given that the Predators are forever in need of center depth. Tomasino didn't get as great of a look, given that Niagara went all in for a deep playoff run, thus pushing him down the lineup, but he's got playmaking skill and is willing to lineup wherever a team wants him. Effort is also unquestioned.

25. Washington Capitals-Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL)

Though he didn't have a major role this year due to the depth that London seems to boast every year, McMichael has the ability to be even better once he gets prime opportunites. He does need to bulk up, but his ability to put up points is something that happens thanks to his economic style.

26. Calgary Flames-Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL)

Size is an issue, as Pelletier needs to bulk up badly, but he has offensive skill and his hockey sense is one of the best in the draft class. Despite his size, he can also play a possession game.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning-Nolan Foote, LW, Kelowna (WHL)

The Lightning opted to go back to the Foote well, as they had drafted Nolan's brother Cal a few years earlier. He's a power play weapon with his shot, but does need to improve both his skating and consistency of effort.

28. Carolina Hurricanes-Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL)

A playmaker who does have questions to answer in terms of compete level, Suzuki is a candidate to be moved to a better OHL team and see if better players around him causes the light to turn on.

29. Anaheim Ducks-Brayden Tracy, LW, Moose Jaw (WHL)

Taken a little higher than most expected, Tracy has offensive skill, as his numbers show, but he will need to elevate his game with some of Moose Jaw's veterans moving on.

30. Boston Bruins-Johnny Beecher, C, US NTDP (USHL)

Another product of the US NTDP, Beecher is a big man. Consistency and hockey sense are questioned, but the Bruins do well with players like Beecher, who will have time to round out his game in Michigan.

31. Buffalo Sabres-Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls (USHL)

He has some bulking up to do, but his skill set reminds many of Kris Letang, meaning that he can start an offense from his own end without much effort.

As for trades, Toronto salary dumped Patrick Marleau to Carolina and Nashville moved PK Subban to New Jersey for draft picks, Steven Santini and prospect Jeremy Davies.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

NHL Mock Draft: picks 24-31

The last section of the NHL mock draft is here, and just like every other section, there is unpredictability abound.

24. Nashville Predators-Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara (OHL)

A solid all-around player that has elusiveness, Tomasino could be a sleeper in this year's draft, since the Ice Dogs were trying to load up on their OHL run, pushing Tomasino around the lineup. With some of those players graduating, he figures to have the same impact that Barrett Hayton and Morgan Frost did in their respective post-draft years.

25. Washington Capitals-Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL)

Size is an issue with Pelletier, who will need to gain a few pounds, but everything else about him grades out to the next level. Speed and hockey sense are what will get him into the NHL, but so too, will his possession game despite his size.

26. Calgary Flames-Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton (WHL)

More of a stay-at-home defender, Robertson has offensive potential that could be on the level of a Shea Weber. He already has the size and is surprisingly good at skating for a guy his size. Where Robertson could elevate his game is on the physical side, where his size will be a major factor.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning-Cam York, D, US NTDP (USHL)

Victor Hedman's injury that led him to being out of the first round against Columbus this season exposed a problem with the Lightning's blue line depth, as they didn't have the puck mover that was needed to push their offensive game. York isn't as big, but he has all of the ability to start the offense from his own end and can slot in on the power play.

28. Carolina Hurricanes-Brett Leason, C, Prince Albert (WHL)

Passed over twice, Leason appears to be taking the same route as another player that had been passed over twice in Tanner Pearson. Given a chance to shine on a loaded Raiders team, Leason put up great numbers en route to helping them win the Ed Chynoweth Trophy. He could be an immediate contributor on the Hurricanes right now, and at worst, may need a year in the AHL.

29. Anaheim Ducks (from San Jose via Buffalo)-Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Sweden)

Blue line depth, much like forward depth, is in need, as the Ducks will need to eventually rebuild there, especially since Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen are gone and Cam Fowler had injury issues while Hamphus Lindholm was not great. Broberg provides a big body that can skate, but will need work on puck moving.

30. Boston Bruins-Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL)

A work in progress in his own end, Thomson has the ability to let one go from the blue line, and his puck moving skills are above average, things that could play well once Zdeno Chara finally hangs it up and Thomson is ready for the NHL.

31. Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis)-Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

The offense is definitely there for Brink, who will head to Denver for college. His skating will need work, but he is a great playmaker who showed that he could score, too, ending the USHL regular season as the league's player of the week three times in a row.

Friday, June 14, 2019

NHL Mock Draft: picks 16-23

The NHL entry draft is officially one week away, and now, the final order is set, thanks to St. Louis winning the Stanley Cup. Though they won't have a first round pick, thanks to surrendering it to Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly trade, it does go to show that drafting wisely can reap its rewards, as Robert Thomas was a key contributor on the Cup-winning team.

16. Colorado Avalanche-Alex Turcotte, C, US NTDP (USHL)

This is another opportunity for the Avs to load up on forwards, and while Turcotte has had injury issues, he does boast some high-end talent. Where he ends up is unknown, since he played on the second line behind Jack Hughes, but putting up nearly two points a game is worth considering.

17. Vegas Golden Knights-Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (Germany)

The only team to not have had a homegrown rookie on their NHL roster thus far, the Golden Knights are likely to continue that trend unless Cody Glass makes the roster. As it is, their blue line could use some refreshing, and they go with a physical specimen that could stand to benefit from better competition, but has the size and potential to one day succeed Deryk Engelland as the stay-at home type.

18. Dallas Stars-Egor Afanasyev, RW, Muskegon (USHL)

The lack of scoring depth was ultimately the Stars' undoing, and there isn't likely an immediate option to help that outside of free agency. Afanasyev has the tools to be a scoring power forward, but does need refinement, something that will happen in Windsor of the OHL next season.

19. Ottawa Senators (from Columbus)-Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL)

A playmaker whose stock took a hit due to Barrie being in rebuilding mode, Suzuki is more of a playmaker at this point, but given the Senators' woeful center depth, combined with needing the help within a year or two, at the latest, Suzuki goes here instead of Alex Newhook.

20. New York Rangers (from Winnipeg)-Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (Finland)

Heinola has a similar skill set to Miro Heiskanen, but with less in the skating department at the moment. Given that the Rangers are fairly loaded with forward depth, it is possible that they choose to address defense here.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins-Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls (USHL)

The Penguins need a puck mover in their system, as Kris Letang is not getting any younger, and his ability in his own end is eroding along with the rest of the team getting slower. Johnson will have time to develop and gain some weight, but his ability to start the offense from his own end is already pro-level.

22. Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto)-Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL)

Smart, two-way player that has quibbles with level of competition, Newhook is seen as a Tyson Jost clone, in that he has the ability to lead a team one day, but will need time to develop, something he can do at Boston College.

23. New York Islanders-Samuel Poulin, LW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

The Islanders are loaded just about everywhere in the pipeline, but they do lack a big body that can at worst, play on the third line right away. Poulin is the prototypical power forward that the team lacks, and given the Isles just re-signed both Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle, they can take some time here and possibly just go with the best player available to them.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

2019 NHL mock draft: picks 9-15

Picks 9-15 are up, and like everything after pick three, it's anyone's guess where the teams will go.

9. Anaheim Ducks-Matthew Boldy, LW, US NTDP (USHL)

Skill is not the problem with Boldy, but the consistency in which he shows it is, which is why he is not mentioned among the top five. The Ducks will still need to replace their aging stars up front, particularly since prospects such as Sam Steel, Max Jones, and Isac Lundestrom don't appear to be ready for big roles right away and once they do crack the NHL roster, will need to replenish their pipeline.

10. Vancouver Canucks-Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay (WHL)

Krebs has played well on an Ice team that has largely struggled in the standings, and given that he has the prerequisite tools and work ethic, it is likely he could be drafted earlier than the tenth spot. As it is, the Canucks need more help up front, especially down the middle, and Krebs fits the bill here as a Bo Horvat clone.

11. Philadelphia Flyers-Raphael Lavoie, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

The Flyers have built themselves a nice pipeline, but not many of them have had an impact on the NHL thus far. Eventually, some of that talent is going to stick, and when it does, it will need to be refilled. Lavoie helped himself in the QMJHL playoffs and Memorial Cup tournament with Halifax after an okay regular season, and projects to be a power forward.

12. Minnesota Wild-Spencer Knight, G, US NTDP (USHL)

The Wild have little in the way of talent in the pipeline, as they were the only team without a representative in the WJC tournament in January. The other problem is that they need reinforcements everywhere and will likely need to trade out a player to pick up more draft picks. Where the Wild hurt the most in the system is in goal, where there is nothing behind Devan Dubnyk. Knight is the consensus top goalie in the draft, and it is possible that the Wild panic and draft a goalie earlier than they should.

13. Florida Panthers-Trevor Zegras, C, US NTDP (USHL)

If the Wild don't panic and take Knight, it is likely the Panthers will take him here, since their goalie situation is just as big of a mess, with Sam Montembeault not ready for the starting role and Roberto Luongo likely headed to long term IR. Forward depth was tested this season, and it was not good. Zegras is a few years away, but with Henrik Borgstrom ready for the NHL, he will be allowed to develop.

14. Arizona Coyotes-Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL)

Depth is still an issue on the blueline for the Coyotes, who will eventually see guys like Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski, and Jason Demers fall off a cliff, if they haven't already, from a skill set point of view. Harley is the most well-rounded defensive prospect of the class, and he could be a fringe top defender with definite second defender potential.

15. Montreal Canadiens-Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Hamilton (OHL)

Kaliyev excels at scoring goals, and the Canadiens were the second-worst team on the power play. The rest of his game isn't great, but that should come with experience. As it is, he would give the Canadiens the thing they sorely need: goal scoring.

Monday, June 10, 2019

2019 NHL mock draft: picks 1-8

The NHL entry draft is less than two weeks away, and the draft order is almost set, as the final game that will be played on Wednesday will determine the last two spots. As is the tradition of this blog, I will take a shot at who will be taking who. Today, it is picks 1-8.

1. New Jersey Devils-Jack Hughes, C, US-NTDP (USHL)

The Devils need offense in a bad way, and that fact was further exposed when Taylor Hall missed significant amount of time this season. The middle Hughes brother (Quinn is a defenseman in the Vancouver Canucks system and Luke is eligible in 2021) reminds many of Patrick Kane when he came out in his draft year, and if Hughes is anything close to his potential, the Devils will be happy to take it.

2. New York Rangers-Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Finland)

The other top candidate to go first overall, Kakko is a great consolation prize for a Rangers team that needs a flagship player that the team can sell their fans on in their rebuilding phase. While he's purely a winger, Kakko does just about everything well and has come up big in the clutch, scoring the gold-medal winner at the WJCs this year.

3. Chicago Blackhawks-Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL)

The Blackhawks would prefer a winger, but Cozens would be a great pickup here, as he has the size to be a power forward and the skill to eventually be a top line talent. It's uncertain where Dylan Strome's ceiling truly is, so picking Cozens makes sense in hedging their bets here.

4. Colorado Avalanche-Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA-Neva (Russia)

The Avalanche missed out on elite talent thanks to a few bounces of the ping pong balls, but they still get to draft a great talent here. Between Kirby Dach and Podkolzin, the Avs are getting a great talent to fill their forward depth. Given their depth in the pipeline that needs to come through, the Avs can afford to let Podkolzin develop, and when he is ready, they can be getting a Brad Marchand clone that plays more in control of his emotions.

5. Los Angeles Kings-Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL)

Without any real room for anything other than an immediate game changer, the Kings will need to play a little bit of a long game, and where the team has needs in the long-term is on the blue line. Byram is more of an offensive defenseman at this point in his development, but that is a spot where the Kings will need help down the line on the back end, especially since Jarret Anderson-Dolan and possibly Rasmus Kupari could crack the lineup up front within a year or two and there just simply isn't any cap room with eight players in their 30's on big deals and only Ilya Kovalchuk and Dion Phaneuf will have their deals expire in two years, which is the earliest that cap relief can come outside of a buyout.

6. Detroit Red Wings-Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)

The Red Wings still need an elite defender, but that isn't available in the draft this year. The good news is that the Wings still need help up front, and Dach will help out here. He may need a year or two in Saskatoon, but with Filip Zadina and possibly Joe Veleno being favorites to make the NHL next season, the wait may be a blessing for a team that simply needs all the help they can get, especially since they can be rid of Jonathan Ericsson's contract after next season.

7. Buffalo Sabres-Cole Caufield, RW, US NTDP (USHL)

Depth on the wings is terrible with the Sabres, and that has a trickle down effect on an offense that if it ever matched the potential of the unit on hand, would have not had this problem. As it is, potential still must turn into actual production, and only Jack Eichel has shown that of the forwards developed by the team. Caufield would be helpful as a second line winger with either Casey Mittelstadt or Sam Reinhart right now.

8. Edmonton Oilers-Victor Soderstom, D, Brynas (Sweden)

There's so many things the Oilers need, but with Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse needing pay raises and so little cap room, the Oilers desperately need to fill that hole in case they lose either or both. Soderstom would be a year away, but he would provide a puck moving defender that the team lacks in the system.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Two months of playoff hockey have whittled the field down to two teams. The final games begin Monday, and it's plenty of time to dissect the teams.

(2)Boston Bruins vs. (3)St. Louis Blues

The Bruins had to outlast Toronto, Columbus, and Carolina to get to their third final this decade. On the strength of Tuukka Rask in goal and a combination of veteran talent such as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Zdeno Chara, as well as youth such as Charlie MacAvoy and Danton Heinen, the Bruins are poised to bring another championship back to Boston. Where they need to succeed is with Brad Marchand, who frequently straddles the line on his play, but can also hurt you on the scoresheet.

The Blues survived Winnipeg, Dallas, and a blown call against the Sharks in game 3 to make the Finals for the first time since 1970. Ironically, it's against the team they last saw when they made the Finals. Jordan Binnington is the team's backbone in goal, but it is longtime stalwarts such as Alex Pietrangelo and Jaden Schwartz who have propelled them here, as well as newcomers Ryan O'Reilly and Tyler Bozak. The Blues need Vladimir Tarasenko to get untracked if they want to bring home a championship to St. Louis for the first time in hockey.

Prediction: Bruins in 6

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Handicapping the 2019 Memorial Cup

The 101st Memorial Cup Tournament begins tomorrow in Halifax, NS, and as is tradition, the host team will kick off the tournament in their special Memorial Cup themed uniforms. The tournament will also feature the QMJHL champion, OHL champion, and WHL champion, so who fills those roles? Let's look at the teams vying for the ultimate prize in major junior hockey.

Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)-The Mooseheads are the host team this year, which ensured their berth into this tournament. However, don't think of them as a pushover, as they actually made the QMJHL finals, falling in six games. Their NHL prospects to watch for include Jared McIsaac, Benoit-Oliver Groulx, and Antoine Morand. They are led by overager Samuel Asselin, and are backstopped by Alexis Gravel, who is a Chicago Blackhawks prospect. As with any host team, the Mooseheads are all in this year, and given that they made the league finals this year, have a great shot at skating away with the Memorial Cup.

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)-The QMJHL champion, they were the hottest team entering the league's playoffs, and this is their second appearance in four seasons, having fallen short in 2016 to London in the Memorial Cup final. Led by coach Mario Pouliot, who will look to win his second straight Memorial Cup (he accomplished the feat last year with Acadie-Bathurst), the Huskies rely on the overagers, with Peter Abbandonato Jacob Neveu, and Samuel Harvey leading the way. However, it is New York Islanders prospect Noah Dobson who is the team's best player, having also won with Acadie-Bathurst last year.

Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)-The Ed Chynoweth trophy winner, the Raiders actually had the most difficult path of the four teams, being challenged by Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Vancouver before claiming their spot in an overtime game 7 in the finals. Led by Ian Scott in goal and a glut of forwards such as Dante Hannoun, Noah Gregor, Parker Kelly, and Cole Fonstad, the Raiders are well-tested and will look to give the WHL their third Memorial Cup championship in 11 years.

Guelph Storm (OHL)-The most resilient team in the tournament, the Storm had to win three game 7s, needing to come back from a 3-0 series deficit against London and a 3-1 deficit to Saginaw in two of those series before ultimately overcoming a 2-0 series deficit to Ottawa in the finals to win the championship in 6 games. They have counted on a bounty from Owen Sound in Nick Suzuki, Sean Durzi, and Markus Phillips, as well as holdovers in Isaac Ratcliffe and Dmitry Samorukov to carry the team. The player to watch is Alexey Tropochenko, who has had a breakthrough year while impressing St. Louis Blues brass.