Monday, October 28, 2013
Friday was a trip to Cranbrook, BC, where the Winterhawks would get their only look of the season at a Kootenay Ice team that features Sam Reinhart and newly acquired Tim Bozon, noted thorn in the Winterhawks' side from his Kamloops days. Petan would open the scoring and De Leo would net the next two goals in the first period for the Winterhawks, but Reinhart would pull Kootenay within two after one period. No scoring in the second period would give way to an Austin Vetterl goal to make it 3-2 early in the third period. However, Derrick Pouliot and Josh Hanson would score for the Winterhawks, and not even a Zak Zobrosky goal could get Kootenay back in the game, as Iverson would end any hope of a comeback with his third goal of the week. Jarrod Schamerhorn would earn the win in his only appearance this week, and Oliver Bjorkstrand assisted on four goals this game.
Saturday was the last game of the road trip and against division rival Spokane, first place was at stake in an early season match-up that also saw the Chiefs try for revenge for an earlier loss. Leier and Leipsic would sandwich a Liam Stewart goal to make it a 2-1 advantage for Portland after one. Bjorkstrand would put Portland up 3-1 early in the second period, but goals by Mike Aviani and Jason Fram would tie things up until the 16:11 mark, when Leier would score what became the deciding goal for the Winterhawks. Brendan Burke was outstanding in three contests, and his confidence is growing with every game.
The Winterhawks return home for a game against Brandon on Wednesday before hitting the road for rivalry games against a revamped Seattle team on Friday and a return engagement with Spokane on Saturday.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
From his rookie year in 2005, Vanek as scored at least 20 goals a season, and that includes the lockout shortened season last year. He has managed to score 40 goals twice, and is a likely threat to reach that total this season should he be on a line with Tavares. Moulson emerged as an offensive threat in the 2009-10 season, notching the first of three 30-goal seasons while lined up with Tavares during Tavares' rookie year.
Where this trade could go wrong is that both are unrestricted free-agents after the season, and the Islanders could be the ones that lose the most, as they did give up two draft picks in what stands to be potentially deep drafts, and if Vanek walks away, it could be ugly when the team moves to Brooklyn. For the Sabres, while they finally have some semblance of peace, if only for a little while, they do have to hope that Moulson's numbers are not just a mere product of being a linemate of John Tavares. The draft picks help, but the feeling here is that the Sabres could have gotten just a little more.
SKA finishes out this home stand with games at division rivals, with CSKA on Monday, Lev Praha on Wednesday, and Slovan Bratislava on Friday.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
It's a long way from the days when he was given the most ludicrous contract in NHL history (He wasn't alone, as the Islanders had a habit of doing such things. Just ask Alexei Yashin), but for DiPietro, any chance is better than none, and he would be wise to make the most of this chance in Charlotte.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Trading Ryan Miller
Yes, his GAA stinks, but it only scratches the surface of the problems of the team, and like all of the other problems, could have been prevented in the off-season. Miller's value is not going to get any higher, and clearly, the days when he almost lifted the U.S. to olympic gold in 2010 seem like a lifetime ago. That said, the market for a goalie wasn't particularly kind, as the Vancouver Canucks found out when they attempted to trade Roberto Luongo, where they ultimately ended up trading Cory Schneider instead. Right now, the Sabres don't have much in the way of options for trade partners, but given the injury issues that both Carolina and Nashville are facing in goal, Miller could step in and contribute for the right price, especially with Cam Ward's recent injury history in Carolina.
Trading Thomas Vanek
Vanek was named captain for the team's home games, which effectively put an end (for now) to the rumors of him getting traded. He is the team's second leading scorer with seven points, behind only Cody Hodgson, and appears to be producing his expected numbers. He would carry far more value than Miller at this point, but given his production right now, it is likely the Sabres could hold on to him until closer to the trade deadline, as there will be teams likely lining up at the Sabres' door in an effort to get Vanek as the missing piece for a Stanley Cup run. If the Sabres play it right, they can get maximum return for Vanek here.
The Sabres foolishly did not exercise the compliance buyouts this past off-season, which means the bloated contracts of Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff, and Tyler Myers are still on the books. Unsurprisingly, none of them are even producing anything close to 0.50 points per game, and Leino has not been able to find the ice much in his time with the Sabres. The compliance buyouts are still available for next off-season, and the Sabres would be wise to use at least one of those two buyouts. Leino should definitely be given one, and while it appears to be a long shot that Myers would be given one, as he's still young enough to be given a chance to turn it around, time may be running short. Ehrhoff's size of contract makes him a target, as well, though he did produce numbers closer to his Canucks days (prorated).
Handling of rookies
The mishandling of Grigorenko last year resulted in the Sabres having to burn a year on his entry-level contract, which made his demotion to the juniors after 25 games sound pointless. Sometimes, you just never learn from your mistakes, and that is exactly what is happening with Nikita Zadorov this season. Yes, he has not reached the threshold for number of games played before the decision needs to be made, but it is obvious that the Sabres may very well be making the exact same mistake again, as Zadorov can use another year in juniors. Both Girgensons and Ristolainen can be sent to the AHL, as neither played in the Canadian juniors prior to their draft year despite their age, with Girgensons already spending a year in the AHL. How well the Sabres handle both players will be telling, as neither has made an impact with the team yet. The key will be putting the players in position to succeed, something that hasn't happened with Grigorenko and may very well affect the other three players.
Where to begin? Let's begin with the two players they HAD to trade: Jaimen Yakubowski and Sam McKechnie. Last week, it was mentioned that both requested trades and were sent home as a result while the team was trying to find a trade partner. Last night, they found one in the Seattle Thunderbirds, as they sent to Lethbridge Riley Sheen, Carter Folk, and a third round pick in the 2015 Bantam Draft in order to get rid of both Yakubowski and McKechnie. Both players were behind only Russell Maxwell in scoring last season, yet both also had their struggles this season. There is no doubt that the new start, combined with playing alongside Shea Theodore and top rookie Matthew Barzal, should energize both players. As for what Lethbridge gets in return, Sheen was seen as one of the hardest working players on the Thunderbirds while Folk is a younger player that should be integral to the team's future. For the Hurricanes, they also had a game that evening, as they played Moose Jaw, and for a while, it looked like the turnaround that began with a spirited (albeit one that fell short...again) effort against Portland that saw them nearly come back would carry over into the Moose Jaw game, as they were up 3-0 after two periods. Unfortunately, an average game of hockey is three periods, and Moose Jaw would score three unanswered goals to force overtime, where they would score the game-winner and hand Lethbridge another defeat.
In total, the Hurricanes are 2-11-1-1 and are clearly the worst team in the league right now. The days of nearly winning it all seem like an eternity (it was actually 2008, where they lost to Spokane in the WHL finals that year), and unless they magically find a goaltender that won't wilt in the face of a toxic atmosphere, it figures to be a while before they can ever compete again.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
SKA concludes the road trip on Tuesday at Neftekhimik before coming home for a game against Dinamo Riga on Saturday.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
The Saturday tilt at Kennewick, WA was the first of five games on the road, and for one period, things were even, as Chase De Leo and Jessey Astles exchanged goals. Two periods later, the Winterhawks finished their demolition of the Tri-City Americans, as Keegan Iverson, Taylor Leier, De Leo, and Petan scored in the second period and in the process, chased Eric Comrie from the game. Paul Bittner, Bjorkstrand, and Kopeck scored in the third, finishing a dominating win for the Winterhawks 8-1. Burke finished the week a perfect 3-0-0-0.
The Winterhawks continue the road trip with games against a struggling Lethbridge Hurricanes team on Tuesday, Medicine Hat on Wednesday, a stop in Cranbrook, BC for a matchup at Kootenay on Friday, and Spokane on Saturday.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Both players through their agents and families have requested a trade, so we have sent the players home to wait for a deal to be done.This turn of events underscores the team's struggles in recent seasons, and with recently floundering squads such as Prince George and Seattle finding success early on in the season, Lethbridge's troubles are magnified. Certainly, it was going to be a transition year, as they brought in Drake Berehowsky to be the new head coach and Robson is also in his first year with the team, as they replaced Rich Preston after last season in their respective roles (Preston was both head coach and GM). However, the eventual trades of both Yakubowski and McKechnie mean that only Russell Maxwell will be left of the team's offensive options. Add to the mix the fact that their first round pick in this year's Import Draft Kristian Khenkel is not coming over to play with the Hurricanes due to some paperwork issues with the IIHF, and this season is one that the Hurricanes would like to forget...and it's only 12 games into the season.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Metallurg Novokuznetsk was the opponent on Friday, and this time around, things were never in doubt for SKA, as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two on goals by Alexei Semenov, Kevin Dallman, and Martensson. Ansel Galimov scored for Metallurg Novokuznetsk, but a Kalinin goal made the final score 4-1 and made a winner of Ezhov. Sunday, SKA hosted the expansion Admiral Vladivostok and Admiral proved to be too much this game. Evgeny Grachyov and Artyom Ternavsky pushed Admiral out ahead 2-0, but Tikhonov would pull SKA within one at the end of one. However, Evner Lisin would score for Admrial, and that would be all the scoring in the game, as Admiral won 3-1, with Salak taking the loss.
SKA hits the road again this week, with games on Wednesday at last year's Gagarian Cup finalists in Traktor Chelyabinsk, a Friday game against Metallurg Magnitorsk, and on Sunday at Salavat Yulaev.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
As for the game, the Winterhawks opened the scoring in the first period when Adam Rossignol put one past Taran Kozun, but Kamloops would tie it on an Aspen Sterzer goal to end the period. Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic would put the Winterhawks up two to begin the second frame before Chase Souto would bring the Blazers within one. However, Presten Kopeck would put the Winterhawks back up two before an Oliver Bjorkstrand penalty shot ended Kozun's night and in would come Bolton Pouliot. Souto and Alex Schoenborn would exchange goals to end the period with the Winterhawks up 6-3. Cole Ully would pull the Blazers within two, but that's as close they would get the rest of the way, as Derrick Pouliot added an empty net goal to end the scoring in favor of the good guys 7-4.
Next week, the Winterhawks welcome Tri-City on Wednesday and Swift Current on Friday before hitting the road to Kennewick, WA to face the Americans on Saturday.
And as promised, here are a few pictures from the game in what amounted to the nosebleeds.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Friday and Saturday were not so kind, as the Winterhawks were run over by Kelowna in Prospera Place. Schoenborn opened the Friday game with a goal, but Myles Bell responded with a goal to even things up after one. Bell and Nick Merkley scored to make it 3-1 Kelowna after two periods. Riley Stadel added a goal, but Taylor Leier would make it 4-2 before the Rockets scored on goals by Merkley and Colton Heffley to make it a 6-2 final. Things looked good at first on Saturday, as Bjorkstrand and Brendan Leipsic put the Winterhawks ahead to start the game. However, it was all Rockets, as Stadel, Cole Linaker, and Bell scored to end the first period. Things didn't get better, as Damon Severson scored in the second period, and despite a Leier goal to get the Winterhawks within one, the Rockets closed the game with goals by Ryan Olsen and Stadel.
The Winterhawks have a light week, as their only game is on Saturday for a Pink the Rink promotion at home against Kamloops.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Salak would get redemption, as SKA took on Ak Bars in Kazan, Russia today. A scoreless first period gave way to the two teams exchanging goals, with Evgeny Skachkov scoring for SKA and Artyom Lukoyanov evening things for Ak Bars. SKA would take over in the third period, with Dmitry Yudin and Alexei Ponikarovsky scoring, giving SKA a much needed win to close out the road trip.
SKA comes home next week for games on Monday against Amur, Sibir Novosibirsk on Wednesday, Metallurg Novokuznetsk on Friday, and a Sunday game against expansion Admiral Vladivostok.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
- Jonathan Drouin will spend at least one more year in Halifax after he was sent down by the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the close of training camp. The move gives a struggling Halifax their leading scorer from last season and Zach Fucale, two players that will be expected to shoulder the load with Nathan MacKinnon, Martin Frk, and Konrad Abeltshauser all no longer on the team. MacKinnon could be back if the Avalanche do decide to send him down, but don't bet on it.
- The Buffalo Sabres named their captains, and no, that is not a typo. Home games will see Thomas Vanek wear the C while Steve Ott dons the C for away games. This isn't the first time Buffalo has gone with this arrangement, as Chris Drury and Daniel Briere did it in 2007, the last time Buffalo won a playoff series. This move is an indicator that the Sabres are willing to keep Vanek around for at least this year and should he be traded, it means the Sabres won't have to go far for a captain, as Ott has been a community fixture since he arrived last season.
- Tampa Bay named a new captain, and it is Martin St. Louis. In 12 years with the Lightning, St. Louis has been the face of the franchise, and though his career is winding down, he can still contribute, as evidenced by his Art Ross Trophy last season. He has been a leader in his time with the Lightning, and now, he has the C to prove it.
- In KHL news, Ilya Kovalchuk will miss a month after colliding with teammate Alexei Ponikarovsky during the win at Vityaz last Sunday. More on that in the SKA report coming soon, as their last game of the week is tomorrow at Ak Bars.
- In a development that has surprised few, the Saskatoon Blades are the worst team in the WHL right now, as they are the only winless team as of this writing. It was known that half of the lineup wasn't coming back, and with the likes of Lukas Sutter contributing for Red Deer, Dalton Thrower appointed captain of the Vancouver Giants, and new ownership, the Blades are headed for a long winter.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
- The Calgary Flames have named Mark Giordano captain, and Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross will serve as alternate captains. Giordano's appointment is an indication that the Flames want to be a tougher team to play against, and Giordano has the work ethic to make it work.
- Dallas made official what everyone knew was coming and named Jamie Benn the new captain. Stephane Robidas and Ray Whitney will serve as alternate captains. Benn has been the face of the franchise for the past few years, and as the team's best offensive weapon, he has a chance to match what Mike Modano did in his time as a Star.
- The Edmonton Oilers pulled a mild surprise by naming Andrew Ference the 14th captain in franchise history. Signed in the off-season, Ference brings a championship pedigree and grit to a team that needs both. His off-ice work since joining the team also figured into the equation, as he was heavily involved in the community and is looking to join the likes of Mark Messier, Kelly Buchberger, and Craig MacTavish as the next player to exemplify the "Oiler Way." The alternate captains' role will be rotated amongst players.
- The Portland Winterhawks have named Taylor Leier captain. The Flyers' prospect replaces Troy Rutkowski, who has moved on to Binghamton, where he will play for the Ottawa Senators' minor league affiliate to start the season.
- The Florida Panthers' quest for respectability goes through the Player Tryout Option route, as they have in a matter of weeks, signed Tim Thomas, Brad Boyes, and Tom Gilbert after signing them to PTOs. They also signed Ryan Whitney after he was released from his PTO with St. Louis.