Top-5 wingers in the Western Conference?
August 9, 2017, 11:36 AM ET [117 Comments]
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In this edition of the hotstove, we rank the top-5 wingers in the Western Conference.
1. Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)
Tarasenko has the power, speed, and skill combination teams dream about and is one of the most dynamic players in the league. As good as he is, I think he may still have another gear.
2. Blake Wheeler (WPG)
Wheeler is one of the NHL's most underrated stars. He consistently piles up points at a high-end rate, plays in all situations, drives possession, and gets little talk despite that. He may not be as flashy as a guy like Kane, but he's a far more well-rounded player.
3. Patrick Kane (CHI)
I don't think Kane is great without the puck, and he has benefited from sheltered zone starts, but it's pretty hard to argue with 195 points over the last two seasons.
4. Jamie Benn (DAL)
Benn is the total package. He's physical, he has a big shot, he scores goals in bunches, and he's a very effective playmaker. By his standards, 2016-17 was a down year but I have no doubt he'll bounce back.
5. Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
He's extremely skilled and tough to contain because of his speed and elusiveness, which leads to a lot of magical plays. Like Benn, his counting totals weren't as good as expected in 16-17 but he is a good bet to bounce back.
Honorable mentions: Filip Forsbergand Patrik Laine. Forsberg is only 22 and has averaged 30 goals and 62 points over the last three seasons while posting remarkably good possession numbers. Laine's defensive game needs work but he is just 19 and already one of the best pure goal scorers in the NHL.
The best wingers in the Western Conference:
1. Blake Wheeler - Between 60-80 points for six straight years, never misses a game, guarantee between 20-30 goals, tons of 5v5 points.
2. Patrick Kane - Art Ross winner, consistent scoring, one of the best players in the league.
3. Patrik Laine - he probably doesn't deserve to be this high, but his potential is insane and I'd probably want him as the corner stone of my franchise over anyone on this list.
4. Nino Niederreiter - Elite defense and scores at a 5v5 clip worthy of any first line. Signed to arguably the best team-friendly contract in the NHL.
5. Vladimir Tarasenko - One of the most exciting players to watch. I would not argue against ranking him higher. All these guys are so awesome that you could probably rank them in whatever order you wanted, and you could even put in Jamie Benn or Johnny Gaudreau and I wouldn't much care.
Well, this is group seems far more interesting to me than the Eastern Conference because I know them better. That being said you will probably see a very obvious bias.
#1 Patrick Kane- There might be players people prefer more than Kane but he's been at the top for too long to ignore. Consistently consistent and such a pain to play against.
#2 Vladimir Tarasenko- Guy is an elite scorer who led the western wingers in goals.
#3 Blake Wheeler- what does Wheeler have to do to get some respect from across the league? He's missed 5 games in the last 6 years too not scoring less than 60 points.
#4 Nik Ehlers- coming off his sophomore season he was second for points for LW behind Benn- given his age that's impressive.
#5 Patrik Laine- sure it's full homer mode here but that rookie season on a team that has as many challenges as the Jets was incredible. Laine showed more talent than most gave him credit for and blew past all expectations as an 18-year-old.
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HockeyBuzz Hotstove - Wed 09 Aug 2017, 7:37 pm
The Canadian Dollar Review - Fri 04 Aug 2017, 1:37 pm
Thank you for your recent post on the private blog on July 12th.
Socrates had identified the week of July 24th as a key week for a potential high with the two key target areas of resistance at 80.50 and 81.75.
The actual high was 80.62 on July 26th. I am sure that there are some very happy Canadians trading this market with a recent print today at 78.995.
Again, thank you for all that you are doing and we look forward to the future release of the Trader version of Socrates.
COMMENT #2: Mr. Armstrong. You have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have tapped into something very important. You forecasts on everything pans out and your computer picks turning points astonishingly. No wonder the big boys call upon you. Nobody else can do this. Your latest call on the Canadian dollar has been stunning.
All the best
REPLY: There is a hidden order the computer can see. It is time to stop the opinions. There is a hidden order out there if you are willing to listen.
Toronto Maple Leafs - Thu 15 Jun 2017, 5:07 pm
Leafs cannot rely solely on free agents signing as a path to improvement
June 15, 2017, 1:56 PM ET [109 Comments]
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have been down the road more than a few times of looking for a missing piece or even a savior in free agency.
The pursuit of a #1 center took them hat in hand to the offices of Newport Sports in 2011 to try to get Brad Richards to sign in Toronto and the year-long speculation about wooing Steven Stamkos back to the GTA resulted in the Markham native re-signing with Tampa Bay for eight years.
The selection of Auston Matthews appears to have remedied the need for a top line center for the next 10-15 years, but now the Leafs have to address the hole in their lineup on the blueline. The 2017 free agent class is rather thin after Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner, so that has teams like Toronto, Buffalo and Edmonton looking to the trade market or to the next two free agent classes for defensive help.
In July 2018, Cam Fowler, Mark-Edouard Vlasic, Mike Green and John Carlson could conceivably reach free agency. The following summer, the contracts of Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ryan McDonagh expire.
The problem is that between now and then, those big names could potentially get locked up to extensions or dealt to teams that have the resources to sign them, so the odds of getting to the open market are remote and even if they reach free agency, there is no guarantee that they will want to sign with Toronto or that the Leafs will have enough cap space to sign them.
.@43_Kadri and @CarltonTheBear are helping raising money and awareness at today's @JoeCarterGolf Classic. #TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/GiFUl1jWRs
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) June 15, 2017
While the lure of playing for the up-and-coming Leafs may help break down some barriers, there are hurdles that they still need to clear to make Toronto a preferred destination.
“I think all of us Southern Ontario players, we secretly want to play for the Leafs. We have that kind of soft spot.” Doughty said on TSN’s Leafs Lunch. “We would all want to play here, especially with the team getting better and stuff like that, but I think it just always comes down to how hard it would be to live in a city being that big of a celebrity.
I’m spoiled in L.A.,where I walk anywhere I want and not one person’s going to recognize me. If, say, I did for some reason play for the Leafs, I don’t know if I could get used to (the attention) or not. I think that’s the problem why guys don’t sign here.”
It will be the task of Shanahan, head coach Mike Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello to sell
Toronto to players who have control over their destiny the next few years. Adding a couple key players and complementary pieces could be the difference between being a playoff team and a Stanley Cup contender, otherwise the Leafs will have to rely mostly on developing their own players and acquiring via trade to improve.
ew Montreal Canadiens Writer Candidate #1: Brandon Smillie - Wed 07 Jun 2017, 7:52 pm
New Montreal Canadiens Writer Candidate #1: Brandon Smillie
June 7, 2017, 12:27 PM ET [78 Comments]
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Ek's Note: Hey Habs fans! We are once again holding a contest to find the "Next Great Montreal Canadiens Writer" for Hockeybuzz. This is such a passionate fanbase, and so far we have had great success finding Habs writers out there with great new voices...Eric Engels came from an email sent to me...and now he is full time at Sportsnet. That could be you!
Below you will find the first submission for your consideration. Please make your opinions known in the poll and the comment thread regarding if you would like the writer to be your new reporter. Please be respectful to all writers. It takes guts to put yourself out there. We are looking for unique and interesting voices...people with personality to go along with their knowledge....and also of course, consistency.
Today we start with Brandon Smillie. If you want to be considered, email a sample blog to: eklund at hockeybuzz.com. Put "Canadien (or Habs) Writer Submission" in the subject of the email...Thanks! and enjoy today's piece from Brandon...
Canadiens Draft Preview + Memorial Cup Finals observations
Welcome fellow dejected Canadiens fans. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is right around the corner and I, just like you, am very interested in who the Canadiens will be selecting. It would be too easy to slide in some jabs at Timmins and his crew of scouts performance in the first rounds lately but let's save that for the comments section and jump right into this!
The odds of grabbing an immediate impact player in the draft is typically remote outside of the top 5 picks and downright impossible at the Canadiens current draft position of 25th. So, the importance of the clubs scouting and player development departments is paramount to maintaining a competitive roster and avoiding overpaying through Free Agency.
With these things in mind let's have a look at some of the players that could be available at 25th this summer. I will be using the I.S.S. list provided by Eliteprospects.com for my source of information (http://www.eliteprospects.com/draftcenter.php?year=2017&layout=&ranking=Rank3).
Let's start with #25 on the ISS list, C/LW Lias Andersson. This left side shooting, 18 year old prospect potted 9 goals and 19 points in 42 games for HV71 of the SHL. Typically, the kids don't get big minutes in the SHL so his numbers are actually quite good.
He is listed at 5'11" and 198 lbs so while he's not a towering presence he has a solid frame to build on. His stats in international play is also very encouraging at a showing of 6 goals and 15 points in 17 games.
At 5'11" Andersson is not a huge C but there's always the possibility he gains an inch or so in the next year so he could still be a quality sized C, just not a Jumbo Joe sized C. But when you consider his age and point production in the SHL he could be a sleeper in this draft.
In my opinion, if this player is available at 25 he is a gift.
The next prospect that could be available for Bergevin and Co. could be the 18 year old, right shooting Defenceman Conor Timmins of the Soo Greyhounds. Timmins is ranked at 28 on the ISS list of prospects.
Timmins is a decent sized D man at 6'1" and 183 lbs. He will need to bulk up for NHL duty but 18 year old D usually don't hit the NHL until they are 20 or older anyways so he has more than enough time to work in the gym.
In his second season in the Soo Timmins put up 7 goals, 54 assists in 67 games to lead the team in D scoring. These are very respectable numbers and they stand out even more when you see that the Soo wasn't an overly dangerous offensive team.
Timmins could go anywhere from late first to early second round but if the best offensive options appear to be off the board, picking Timmins would be huge to an already loaded group of Canadiens D prospects (Sergachev, Mete, Juulsen).
The last player I will mention is the 18 year old, right shooting RW from Kelowna Rockets, Kole Lind. Ranked number 24 on the ISS list this prospect led his team in scoring in his second full WHL season with 30 goals, and 57 assists in 67 games. Listed at 6'1" and 187 lbs he's another good sized prospect that needs to fill out but his offensive potential should be enough to look past what he currently lacks in size.
While he isn't the coveted C that the CH have been searching for in the last 20 years, he would be the best forward prospect available, aside from Andersson, and right shooting RW's with skill are also a very valuable commodity.
I would be happy with Bergevin and Timmins selection of any of three listed above as they all represent a mix of good size and great skill. While this draft isn't considered flush with elite talent according to the talking heads on tv and some scouts it's good to remember that the same people recently thought Nail Yakupov was the best prospect available so there can be some surprises.
Realistically, we can all pretend to predict what kids will do with the great opportunities afforded to them after they are drafted but the only ones who have any control over the matter is the kids themselves. The interview portion of the combine is vital as that's the only way a management team can try to understand the intellect and motivations of the prospect and to see if they align with the culture the team is cultivating. It plays a huge part into judging the maturity level of the prospect as well. Underrated part of the process but only to those of us on the outside.
Do you agree with my options for the Canadiens at 25 or do you have your own opinion on who they should select at 25? Please, wrote it in the comments and explain why. This should be a great conversation for this community and I look forward to seeing the comments.
I recently attended two games in the Memorial Cup tournament in my hometown of Windsor, Ontario and would like to congratulate the 2017 Memorial Cup Champions, the Windsor Spitfires.
I had the pleasure of attending the first game of the tourney, a 3-2 Spitfires win over the St John's Sea Dogs led by top Ottawa Senators D prospect Thomas Chabot.
It was a game mostly controlled by Windsor with Sea Dogs G Callum Booth keeping the Dogs from being blown out. I was impressed by Booth's play as the score could have easily been 6-2 but the kid made some huge saves. There was some good flashes of skill by 2018 draft prospect Joe Veleno as well. There is talk he could be a top 10 pick in 2018 so his next season will be worth a follow. The game was mostly controlled by Windsor until the Sea Dogs made it close by scoring 2 in the final few minutes but it was too little too late. The Spitfires roster features a couple of good Canadiens prospects in Mikhail Sergachev and Jeremiah Addison. Sergachev looked like a man amongst boys in this game and was clearly the Spitfires best player. Addison played a strong game, and had a fantastic tournament, and the Spitfires iced a very competitive (and healthy) roster that included Gabriel Vilardi (shout out to his friendly mother that me and some friends were chatting with while tailgating), Sean Day, Jeremy Bracco, Logan Stanley, Logan Brown, and goaltender Michael Dipietro.
The next game I was able to see live was the Memorial Cup final where the host Windsor Spitfires played the stacked Erie Otters club led by top prospects Dylan Strome, Alex Debrincat, and the Raddysh brothers Taylor (F) and Darren (D). This was a hockey game to remember. The play was back and forth with full skill on display. Each team scored once in the first and twice in the second but it was a clutch 3rd Period goal by Aaron Luchuk that sealed the eventual win for the host Windsor Spitfires. This was a high end game that should go down as one of the best finals in recent memory. Both teams left it all on the ice that night and the Windsor crowd showed their appreciation for the display. Sergachev had his work cut out for him that night as Erie had a forward group that could score at will and while he made a couple bad giveaways in the game he was easily the cornerstone of the Spitfires defense and played a great game.
I think it's reasonable to expect Sergachev to begin his 2017-2018 season with a CH on his jersey and I don't think any Canadiens fan should be too upset with that.
Signed as Law: Nevada Legalizes Commercial Hemp Production, Despite Federal Prohibition - Fri 02 Jun 2017, 7:27 pm
Signed as Law: Nevada Legalizes Commercial Hemp Production, Despite Federal Prohibition
Published: June 2, 2017
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Source: 10th Amendment Center
Today, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill into law to legalize commercial industrial hemp production in the state, despite a federal ban on the same. Passage into law sets the foundation to nullify federal prohibition in practice and effect within the state.
A bipartisan coalition of 12 legislators introduced Senate Bill 396 (SB396) in March. The legislation would authorize the cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial purposes and the production of agricultural hemp seed in Nevada. The new law expands current law that only allows an institution of higher education or the Nevada Department of Agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes conducted under an agricultural pilot program or for other agricultural or academic research. Under the new law, the state will create separate licensing programs for growers, handlers and producers of hemp seed.
The federal government currently restricts the acquisition of seed. Encouraging seed development within the state will also incentivize the hemp market. The legislation, however, will give the Department of Agriculture wide latitude in its rule-making authority. How the program will operate in practice will ultimately depend on how the department formulates the rules.
The Senate passed the bill by a 20-0 vote. Last month, the Assembly passed it by a vote of 34-5.
FEDERAL FARM BILL
Early in 2014, then-President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
In short, current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions, or within state pilot programs – for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. SB396 ignores federal prohibition and authorizes commercial farming and production anyway.
By rejecting any need for federal approval, SB396 sets the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. Nevada could join with other states – including Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, California and Vermont – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.
While prospective hemp growers would still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal permission, the proposed Nevada law would clear away a major obstacle to widespread commercial hemp farming within the borders of the state.
Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. On Feb. 2, 2105, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group. As more people engage in hemp production and the market grows within these states, more people will become emboldened creating an exponential wave, ultimately nullifying the federal ban in effect.
HUGE MARKET FOR HEMP
According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. is the only developed nation that hasn’t developed an industrial hemp crop for economic purposes.
Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $600 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.
During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”
SB396 will go into effect on Jul. 1, 2017
Radz n Dadz Sales & Consulting - Mon 22 May 2017, 8:54 pm
well folks....been such a crazy crazy last 2 weeks!! I got lucky AGAIN!! I was the #1 Salesman in the State Of Missouri for the 1st quarter!! and #5 out of 175 in 5 States in Portable Building Sales!! now can't wait till we blow the lid off of our NEW side business Son and I have started!! (Radney has a BRIGHT future as long as he keeps working hard at it, barely 20 and is rollin hard) we are still getting our website tweaked but it's coming along!! I feel really blessed to have such a awesome family and fabulous friends!! our website is getting CLOSER!!
Can the Nashville Predators still win without Ryan Johansen? - Sat 20 May 2017, 7:58 pm
Can the Nashville Predators still win without Ryan Johansen?
May 20, 2017, 10:32 AM ET [20 Comments]
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In this edition of the hotstove, we discuss whether the Nashville Predators still have a legitimate shot at getting by Anaheim and beating Pittsburgh or Ottawa without Ryan Johansen.
It would suck to see a great run end due to injuries but I think the Predators are in trouble.
During the playoffs, Johansen has been a point per game player and the Preds have been downright dominant with him on the ice. At 5v5, they have out-chanced their opponents 121-74 (62%) and outscored them 16-5 (76%). Obviously having elite players on his wing helped but I have a very tough time believing the Preds won't miss a beat with Calle Jarnkrok taking his spot.
Center is arguably the game's most important position and, with Mike Fisher also banged up, we could see something like Jarnkork-Wilson(if he shifts to center)-Sissions-Fiddler vs Getzlaf-Kesler-Vermette-Thompson. I know which side I'd prefer.
The Preds have a great defense and Peter Laviolette is an excellent coach so I won't rule them out completely, however, I don't expect a happy ending for this year's cinderella story.
I think it always sucks to lose your best centre and your top scorer, there's no real way to spin this into a positive. The odds of the Preds winning certainly went down.
But, if there is a silver lining, it's that Nashville's strength is defense and depth of lineup. They aren't reliant on their #1 C as much as some other teams. So it sucks, but it shouldn't be a fatal blow. I mean, Pittsburgh is still here and a Letang injury is a bigger deal to them than an RJ injury is to Nashville - they at least have other NHL centres!!!
And, it's a pretty weak final four. Pittsburgh has the pedigree and everything, but their defense is a joke, Anaheim has hands-down the worst coach in the NHL, the Senators are the weakest team to make it this far in years.......so Nashville can still win the Cup, and, arguably, should still be the favorite.
It got a whole lot tougher to do so. What team would not want a best of three with home ice and the opposition's number centre out?
It's an ideal situation for the Ducks and the adversity the Preds need to prove they should be able to take the next step. Isn't that how good narratives go?
Probably but it means little to the Preds who have to make some serious adjustments and find ways to compensate for the loss of Johansen. Levy is going to have to get creative and the game plan will have to reflect that and a little luck is needed too. This should be fun but the pressure is now squarely on the Preds and it won't be easy.
It All Starts in Net - Fri 19 May 2017, 7:51 pm
It All Starts in Net
May 19, 2017, 1:50 PM ET [13 Comments]
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Building a success starts from the pipes on out. A goalie is the backbone of any hockey team, and you can't win without a good one. The merry-go-round has already started to run with both Scott Darling and Ben Bishop traded to new teams and signing contract extensions.
A majority of the players drafted by the Golden Knights won't be with the team by the time its competing for a playoff spot. Most of them probably won't be there for more than a year. Except for goalies.
One of the good things Las Vegas has going for them is that they can put a goaltending pipeline in place and establish a line of succession for when they do get good. In my mind, the Knights should take at least five goalies in the expansion draft.
#1 Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings
Howard is known to hockey fans as top performer for the Wings and as a member of team USA. He can be the first face of the franchise which is why he will get the nod over Cam Ward. He was injured for part of the season, but still played in 26 games and posted a 2.10 GAA and .927 Save% for a bad team. At 33 years old, he still has a few years left in the tank. Howard will be a good mentor to the younger goalies in the organization.
#2A Antti Raanta – New York Rangers
The 26 year-old responded to an increasing workload with a 16-8-2 record, 2.26 GAA and .922 Save%. At times during the season it looked like he could usurp Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers number one goalie. He is the perfect guy to ride shotgun along side Howard as he has proven that he can carry the load when the main man is out. If things work out, he could inherit the top job in a year or two.
#2B Calvin Pickard – Colorado Avalanche
Pickard took over for injured incumbent Semyon Varlamov as the Avs starter in mid-January. Although his stats weren't great, they were respectable on a horrible Colorado team. Backstopping an expansion team can't be much different. He just turned 25, so he still has time to hone his game. He would compete for the backup job with Raanta until one of them gets traded. *** Phillip Grubauer from the Caps is also an option here, He hasn't faced as much rubber as Pickard at the NHL level.
With no players in the system, Vegas can take a few prospects to develop along the way.
Malcolm Subban – Boston Bruins
Not yet 24 years of age, the former 2012 first round draft pick looks like he might need a change of scenery. Tuuka Rask isn't leaving Boston for a few more years and the B's prefer going with a veteran in the number two spot. His minor league numbers with Providence have been better than average, but thus far he failed to win over the organization during his cameos with the big club. He could certainly compete in camp for the backup job, but another year in the AHL would be good for him.
Jordan Binnington – St. Louis Blues
Drafted the year before Subban, Jordan Binnington has been stuck behind some good goalies in the Blues organization. As of now, the Blues job belongs to Jake Allen and he should be around for quite some time. Binnington has talent will eventually be an NHL goalie. In the meantime, he can give Subban a run for his money with the Wolves.
I can see a scenario where the Golden Knights take a sixth goalie. They can act as a conduit for a netminder to change teams. For example, maybe a team can't work out an acceptable deal with Carolina for Ward or Florida for James Reimer. That team can make a deal with Vegas GM George McPhee for more acceptable terms.
Next time around , we'll look at some of the back door deals that could be happening around the draft.
Carolina Hurricanes - Mon 08 May 2017, 6:10 pm
Part I: Looking at Hurricanes Goaltending Depth and NHL Draft 2017
May 8, 2017, 1:01 PM ET [9 Comments]
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The signing of Darling for four-years at $16.6M appears to be an indication that Darling is the intended starter for the 2017-18 season. Now that the Canes have found their starter and addressed the goaltending, there are three questions: Who will be the next goalie coach, what happens with Lack/Ward and what does the depth in the AHL/ECHL look like?
I will be doing this in three parts to try and keep the articles shorter. Today is part one and will focus on what the goaltending depth looks like for the Hurricanes. Part two will look at the top-four goalie coach candidates that I believe GMRF should be interviewing. Finally, part three will evaluate how to approach Ward/Lack.
Alex Nedeljkovic was set to be a promising prospect this year; some ranked him as one of the top ten goaltending prospects coming into this season. Unfortunately, the now 21-year old goaltender struggled to find his game, as he transitioned from the OHL to his first professional season.
Looking at his AHL numbers, in 25 GP he posted a 3.40 GAA and .881 SV% which was one of the lowest in the league. He ultimately was sent to the ECHL at the end of December and remained there for most of the season. His statistics for the Florida Everblades were not much better, as he had a 2.97 GAA and .903 SV% in 12 GP. Despite not having the best season, his playoffs in the ECHL showed promise and he posted a .930 SV% and 1.97 GAA in seven games.
The likely goalie tandem for the Checkers next season would be Nedeljkovic and Altshuller. This hinges on whether GMRF decides to bring back 22-year old goalie Daniel Altshuller. He has posted very good numbers the past two seasons in the ECHL. Also, he spent a decent amount of time in the AHL and didn’t post bad enough numbers to warrant not bringing him back.
Another potential candidate for the Checkers is recently signed 19-year old goalie, Callum Booth.
The Hurricanes drafted Booth in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL draft. While I anticipate the goal is to get him plenty of time next season in the ECHL, he may surprise the coaching staff.
Currently, looking at the QMJHL playoffs, Booth is posting a 1.92 GAA and .910 SV% in fifteen games. He has helped lead the Sea Dogs to a 2-0 series lead in the President Cup Final and an overall record of 14-2, sweeping the first two rounds 4-0.
The Hurricanes also have two unsigned goaltending prospects with Jack LaFontaine and Jeremy Helvig. Both goalies are 2016 draft picks; Lafontaine was a third round pick, and Helvig was a fifth round selection. LaFontaine had a strong freshmen year at the University of Michigan and Helvig had a bit of a disappointing year in the OHL.
Looking at Booth, LaFontaine, Helvig and Altshuller, all four of them are listed as being between 6’3 and 6’4. Also, Lack is 6’4, and Darling is 6’6. Most signs point to the Hurricanes moving towards bigger framed goalies, and I think they are one more strong draft pick from having a very strong goaltending prospect foundation.
If the Hurricanes were to select the 18-year old goalie from Boston University, I think they could make another statement for their goaltending landscape and future. He is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second. I’ve seen recent mock drafts with him going early in the second round. I was surprised by Steve Kourianos with The Draft Analysis on his May 1st mock, as he had Oettinger falling into the third round. I think the prediction of early in the second round is pretty accurate, as some believe it is risky drafting goalies in the first round in recent drafts.
Jake Oettinger is 6’4 and ranked as the #1 NA goalie by NHL Central Scouting. He had an amazing freshmen year at BU and won the starting job. He put up stellar numbers in 35 GP with a 2.11 GAA and .927 SV%. Don’t forget that he also turned 18-years old in mid-December; he was the second youngest player in the NCAA putting up all-star numbers.
If he is available at the start of the second round, it might be wise of GMRF trade up to get him. He most likely will play at least two more seasons at BU, so this would give the Hurricanes a good long-term asset. It allows him plenty of time to develop, and after two more seasons in the NCAA, Oettinger would only be 20 years old going into the 2019-20 season.
Also, the Hurricanes would have plenty of time to determine the strength of Altshuller, Booth, Nedeljkovic, LaFontaine and Helvig. All six goalies would get strong opportunities for playing time throughout the two years at their respective levels as well.
LaFontaine and Oettinger would get work in the NCAA, while the other four would get to compete in the ECHL and AHL, and potentially for the Hurricanes back-up position in 2018-19. Please note, based on the NHL/CHL agreement, Helvig most likely wouldn’t play professionally until the 2018-19 season, as he will be 19 years old next season.
Ultimately, GMRF has plenty of picks to make this move a reality. Looking at the 2017 NHL draft, GMRF has a first round pick, three second round picks, and two in the third round. One should note that both the third round picks are somewhat early, as the Hurricanes pick 67th and 72nd overall. In addition to having six picks in the top 72 selections, GMRF still will have a fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh round pick too. Don’t forget the Hurricanes also have all of their 2018 and 2019 draft picks as well.
I would have zero issue if GMRF used any combination of a second and third round pick to draft Oettinger early in the second (current or 2018/2019 picks). The Hurricanes are loaded with D prospects, and this strategy still allows them to draft three promising forwards in the top 72, as they still would have the 12th overall pick, one in the second, and another in the third round remaining. The final four picks in each of the remaining rounds could be used or traded away as GMRF determines best suited.
GMRF has done a pretty good job of deepening the goaltending system in Carolina. This is one area that the Hurricanes organization didn’t do a great job with before GMRF took over. Now with five goalies under the age of 22, GMRF has cast a wide net to help secure the future of the crease.
I would expect that even if GMRF doesn’t draft Oettinger, he will still use one of his three second round picks on a goalie. This draft has about five or so goalies rumored to go in the second round or early in the third. Given this, some may say it is smarter to hold the picks and wait it out, as opposed to drafting up.
Thanks for taking some time to read, your comments are always welcomed. We will be looking at the top-four goalie coach candidates that GMRF should be calling tomorrow.