Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Well, that task will fall to Barry Trotz and Brian MacClellan, who will be the head coach and General Manager, respectively, as of right now. Trotz was the head coach of Washington's minor league affiliate prior to becoming the head coach of the Nashville Predators beginning with the 1998-99 season. His time ended after this season, but he has a reputation for building defensively solid teams that have almost always been hurting for offense. However, his teams have always been competitive, something that that Capitals sorely need. What will be interesting is how Trotz handles Alexander Ovechkin, a mercurial superstar that can score goals (a lot), but has also been under intense scrutiny lately for being lackadaisical on defense. More importantly, it remains to be seen if he can get Mike Green, among other blue liners on the team, to finally commit to playing both ways.
MacClellan was an assistant General Manager with the Capitals the previous seven seasons, and this is a move while it does keep a sense of familiarity with the Caps, it also invites heavy criticism. The man he replaced, George McPhee, had made questionable moves in recent years (Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat), and the criticism stems from the fact that MacClellan was too familiar with the Caps to be seen as a viable replacement. Whether MacClellan learns from the mistakes of his predecessor remains to be seen.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Long before either Dan Hamhuis or Eric Brewer made the jump to the NHL, they were toiling away in Prince George, BC in the hopes of getting to the next level. Both former first round picks (Hamhuis in 2001 and Brewer in 1997) are still playing in the NHL (Brewer in Tampa Bay and Hamhuis in Vancouver), and both are an important part of the group that hopes to turn around the Cougars' fortunes. One of the first things that they hope to do in the immediate future is to hire a General Manager. However, it is a long list of things that they need to, most notably, find a way to get fans back into the CN Centre. At worst, the stability in ownership should give the Cougars a little more time in Prince George.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
|Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images|
With the win, the Oil Kings will be bringing back the Memorial Cup to the WHL for the first time since Spokane did it in 2008.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Montreal over the New York Rangers in 6
Chicago over Los Angeles in 6
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Gone for sure: Corbin Boes, Adam Rossignol, Garrett Haar, Matthew Dumba
Boes, Rossignol, and Haar are overagers that will be moving on. Boes was a mid-season acquisition that provided a veteran presence for Brendan Burke and proved to be a leader in the locker room. Rossignol was an energy guy and Haar provided a dependable presence on the blue line. Dumba is heading to the pros, as he has used up his first year of the entry level contract with Minnesota.
Likely gone: Derrick Pouliot, Taylor Leier, Brendan Leipsic
Pouliot has nothing left to prove in the WHL and will either start next season in Pittsburgh or the AHL. Leier and Leipsic could return as two of the overagers, but there is a possibility that both could be in the AHL next season to start their pro careers.
Overage possibilities: Leier, Leipsic, Josh Hanson, Adam De Champlain
Hanson and De Champlain are the likeliest to return next season, as they would fill the need for a veteran presence on the blue line and third-line player that can drop the gloves when needed, respectively. The third spot could be filled by Leier, Leipsic, or someone that the Winterhawks have an eye on for a trade with another team.
Import players: Oliver Bjorkstrand, Anton Cederholm
With the Import Draft coming up, the Winterhawks may very well stand pat here, as Bjorkstrand was an offensive force that could use another year of junior to gain a little weight, and Cederholm provided a physical presence from the blue line.
Goalies: Brendan Burke, Adin Hill
Currently, this is the duo that will be in net next season, and while Burke has had bouts of inconsistency, he has also shown flashes of brilliance, as well. Hill played well in a handful of games, winning them all. He will step into the back-up role, with a chance to start when Burke needs a rest.
Defense: Hanson, Blake Heinrich, Keoni Texeira, Cederholm, Justin Greer, Layne Viveiros
This is the group that has a chance of coming back, and they will be a fairly veteran bunch, with Greer and Texeira being the kids of the group. Texeira will be expected to provide more of an offensive presence with his shot from the blue line, but finding a way to replace the production that both Pouliot and Dumba had will be a tall task.
Forwards: Ethan Price, Paul Bittner, Chase De Leo, Keegan Iverson, Tyson Predinchuk, Nic Petan, Alex Schoenborn, Dominic Turgeon, Bjorkstrand, Skyler McKenzie
The names listed here are the most likely to return. Petan still has a year of junior eligibility left, and it is unlikely that the Jets will rush his development. Bjorkstrand also has a year of eligibility left, and the Blue Jackets don't have an immediate need for him, which means the top two scorers are likely to return. Like the defense, this will be a unit that has experience, with most of the forwards listed having been a part of the WHL Finals the last two years. De Leo and Bittner are likely to be asked to step up their games next season.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Friday, May 2, 2014
Prediction: Winterhawks in 6
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Not too far away, the WHL's Vancouver Giants are also looking for a new head coach after Don Hay decided to return to the Kamloops Blazers, the team he led to consecutive championships in 1994 and 1995. Hay was the Giants' head coach for ten seasons, one that saw them claim five BC Division titles, one WHL title, and a Memorial Cup. Last season, he broke the 600 career win mark in a game against the Blazers. Hay's departure was somewhat unexpected, but he will get to return home to a franchise that he has achieved considerable success with and to be closer to his family.
(1 Atlantic) Boston Bruins vs. (3 Atlantic) Montreal Canadiens
The Bruins put on a display of defensive power against the Detroit Red Wings on the way to winning that series in five games. Tuukka Rask is playing as well as he did last season, and now, the Bruins are once again finding clutch goals from different players. The Canadiens powered past the Tampa Bay Lightning in a sweep and are led by Carey Price. For Montreal to claim this series, they will have to outwork the Bruins and Price will need to continue to be the difference maker.
Prediction: Canadiens in 7
(1 Metropolitan) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (2 Metropolitan) New York Rangers
The Penguins had a little harder time than one anticipated against the Blue Jackets, but Evgeni Malkin found the net in time to close the series out in six. He will need to continue to score, as Sidney Crosby has yet to find the back of the net. Overall, the Penguins need someone to step up and score, as Marc-Andre Fleury still remains inconsistent. The Rangers needed all seven games to finally dispatch of the Flyers, and like the Penguins, finding someone that can score consistently is an issue. That falls on Rick Nash, who has not done the job he has been asked to do in the playoffs. Even when he is at his best, Henrik Lundqvist needs offensive help.
Prediction: Penguins in 6
(4 Wild Card) Minnesota Wild vs. (3 Central) Chicago Blackhawks
The Wild pulled off a mild upset when they took down the top seeded Colorado Avalanche in seven games. Finding the right chemistry has been something of an issue, but the Wild seem to have their goaltender for the playoffs and the future in Darcy Kuemper. Zach Parise has stepped up in a big way, leading the offensive attack. The Blackhawks were down 2-0 to the Blues at one point, but they did what championship teams always do: they found a way to win, even with Brent Seabrook out three games due to suspension. They're getting healthy in time for a possible deep run, and they have a history of coming through when it counts the most.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
(1 Pacific) Anaheim Ducks vs. (3 Pacific) Los Angeles Kings
The Ducks made the next round despite some rather shaky goaltending, especially on the road. Offense is not much of a problem, though, but for the Ducks to take that next step, they do need to keep up the intensity from the last series. The Kings found something deep within to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to make it to this point. Offense was long an issue, and until they can consistently score like they did in the last four games, it will remain a question mark. Until game four, goaltending was also a question mark, but Jonathan Quick has shown that he is truly one of the premier goalies in the NHL.
Prediction: Kings in 6