Anaheim’s Most Underrated Player

    The Ducks, led by star players Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, are one of the best teams in the West.  Having an abundance of talent such as the aforementioned pair and others such as defenseman Cam Fowler, some key supporting players go unnoticed.  This player on Anaheim is none other than Jakub Silfverberg.
    The Swedish winger did not post very noticeable regular season numbers, totaling 13 goals, 26 assists and 39 points in 81 games.  However, he still did find himself fourth on the team in scoring.  The main reason he was chosen was his breakout playoff performance.  Jakub found himself behind only Ryan Getzlaf in production during the Ducks’ postseason ventures notching 18 points in a mere 16 games.
    Only 24 years old, Silfverberg has plenty more to prove and I would say it’s not far-fetched to see him as a legitimate top six winger scoring 50+ points in a season.  He, along with Stefan Noesen and Nick Ritchie, have proved to be excellent young acquisitions to make up for the 2013 trading of winger Bobby Ryan.

Thanks for reading.  Tomorrow I will cover the Arizona Coyotes.  Make sure to follow the The Hockey Scoop on Twitter @hockeyscoopblog.

What Should a Devils Fan Expect for Next Season?

If you’re a Devils fan, you might not like this, but next year will likely not be a good one. New general manager Ray Shero’s moves this offseason have pointed to one answer: The Devils are rebuilding. From a fan’s perspective, this comes with a few years of losing and frustration, but it pays off.

Ray Shero is not only trying to create a younger Devils, but he is also establishing a new culture in New Jersey, rather than Lou Lamoriello’s trademark defense-first style of play. He has hired new coach John Hynes, who was previously the head coach of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and was very successful. He reached the Calder Cup Playoffs each of his 5 seasons, and reached the conference finals twice. Shero and Hynes are familiar with each other, as Shero first hired Hynes in Wilkes-Barre. Hynes also coached the US Developmental Program, UMass Lowell, and the University of Wisconsin.

The Devils have gotten younger by not re-signing veterans Scott Gomez, Steve Bernier, Mark Fraser, Bryce Salvador, and Peter Harrold. The Devils also bought out aging winger Dainius Zubrus’s contract to make room for another forward spot. The Devils traded for 24 year old right wing Kyle Palmieri at the NHL Draft, who finished last year with 14 goals and 15 assists, despite only playing in only 57 games. The Devils also signed 24 year old defenseman John Moore, who has 40 points in 230 career games with the Blue Jackets, Rangers, and Coyotes. The Devils also drafted Pavel Zacha 6th overall. He is an offensive powerhouse who we will probably not see in the NHL next season for purposes of developing him further in the OHL. We should see him in the 2016-2017 season.

Next year we might see the Devils trading away veterans like Andy Greene, Patrik Elias, and Tuomo Ruutu near the trade deadline to stockpile draft picks, like we saw multiple teams do last year. Both Elias’ and Ruutu’s contracts expire after next season, but Andy Greene’s might be hard to move since it has an AAS of 5 million and expires in 2020. The Devils also have two of the NHL’s worst contracts in Zajac’s and Clowe’s. Zajac is getting paid an AAS of 5.75 million and doesn’t expire until 2021. When he signed the contract his future looked promising, but he has performed well below expectaions. Clowe’s contract was simply a bad idea, as it looks like he may never play again due to concussion problems, and will earn 4.85 million dollars every year until 2018.

Now for predictions. I think we can see the bottom 3 in the league in our future for next season. If Greene gets traded, there isn’t another leader on the defense corps yet, and if it buckles, last place looks like a fitting spot for the Devils, mainly because we don’t have enough offense to lead the team to consistent victories. But, look on the bright side. Next year’s top prospect, Auston Matthews was ineligible for this year’s draft because he was born two days after the cutoff. Some have said he could’ve been drafted before Eichel. If everything works in our favor, that could be nice for us, right?

Every NHL Team’s Most Underrated Player

Starting today, I will begin a 30 article series selecting a team’s most underrated player.  I’ll only count players with over 50 NHL games played in their careers.  Both skaters and goaltenders are eligible to be chosen.  Feel free to share your opinion on each of your personal choices.
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Prediction of the Minnesota Wild’s season

The Minnesota Wild’s 2014-15 campaign went as many people had expected it to go. While there is certainly great talent and potential on the roster, there has always been room to improve. Until Devan Dubnyk was traded to the team, they showed their need for a new goalie. Their depth with their forwards was shown to be a swing or a miss due to the fact that many of them are still developing players who have not yet hit their stride. They were able to produce goals and were better at not allowing goals, especially on the penalty kill. After acquiring Dubnyk, they rocketed themselves up the Western Conference and found themselves landing a spot in the playoffs. However, as many expected, they were shown the door out by the Chicago Blackhawks for the third straight season, again leaving the team as well as the fans wondering what can be done to get over that hump. My first guess would be to shake things up within the organization and make bold moves. If a big name has to be traded off for some prospects to keep the window open longer, so be it. If making any more progress requires a new coach or a new GM, then do what it takes. So far, the Wild have not made any big splashes or very many moves for that matter, and that might hurt them in the upcoming season.

As far as the upcoming season goes for Minnesota, I can see a lot of potential but not much guaranteed in the success department. They should have consistent and solid goaltending if Dubnyk does what he needs to do and having a good backup like Kuemper. Their defense shouldn’t disappoint either considering that not much was lost in free agency and the 6th defensive spot is still left open to one of the many young defensemen. Not only does that create competition that the from office would love to see, but it also reminds the Wild of the promise left in their defense. The offense is where I see problems forming for the team. Stewart left for Anaheim, Brodziak left for St. Louis, and Bergenheim is still floating in free agency. While the loss of these forwards will not destroy the team, it does take out depth that the team could certainly use. There isn’t much left in Iowa for great promise, so until they have reloaded it with more prospects they are left with free agency and what they currently have on the team. I still see Minnesota as a playoff team, but there is a doubt about being a Cup contender. I see the Wild having another solid year and landing a spot in the playoffs. I can see them landing a wild card spot much like they did this previous season. How far they make it in the playoffs will be a luck of the draw. If the Blackhawks happen to cross their path, the result of previous matches could easily expected to be the same. I would absolutely love to see them finally have Chicago’s number, but they didn’t make the sort of changes that they would need to in order to beat them, which mainly seems to be getting the puck in the net.

Jersey Concepts 3!

So the Hawks got a corn maze, Quebec and Las Vegas applied for expansion teams, Holtby resigned, and Semin went to the Habs. That’s about all the news recently, so let’s get into the jerseys!

Las Vegas Aces – Expansion

Home Jersey

With a Las Vegas group applying for an expansion team in the NHL, it’s fitting that they need jerseys. Personally, I think the Las Vegas Aces would be a good name and identity, so I made these jerseys for the team. The logo brings together the gambling the city is known for and the sport it’ll play.

Quebec Nordiques – Expansion

Main Jersey

A group in Quebec applied for an NHL expansion team as well, and they actually used the name ‘Nordiques’ in their application. I think it’s inevitable that the Nords return to hockey.

Hartford Whalers – Expansion

Home Jersey

The Hartford Whalers, although less than stellar, had a lot of fans, who have been wanting a hockey team in the NHL, after the original team packed up and moved to Carolina. Although a group in Hartford hasn’t applied for a team, I think the Whalers are due for a return.

Seattle Admirals – Expansion

Alternate Jersey

Seattle has been wanting an NHL team too, and they’re expected to make a bid for one. But until that happens, I’m hoping for a team called the Seattle Admirals wearing these beauts to play in the Emerald City.

Did the Ducks actually make a good move by not signing Beleskey?

Matt Beleskey broke out last year scoring 22 goals in 65 games with the Ducks. This year he’s cashing in with Boston on a 5 year, 19 million dollar deal leaving a major whole in the Ducks top line. Now that’s not saying the Ducks don’t have a replacement for Beleskey, but the main question is why did the Ducks let him go?

The answer comes in the form of his shooting percentage. Why shooting percentage? The casual fan doesn’t think much about shooting percentage, but it is incredibly important. Lets say a player takes 500 shots in a season and scores 50 goals, the player scored on 10% of his shots. The league average is 9%. Beleskey shot 15.2% last year which is a insanely high number. His career average going into last year was 8.1% and now is 9.9% due to last year. The main reason he shot so well last year is because he played on the same line as all-stars Corry Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Opposing teams would focus their defensive efforts more on Getzlaf or Perry rather than focusing on Beleskey. That allowed him to get open shots. Beleskey’s numbers were also not overly impressive outside of his scoring as he only had 10 assists and a mediocre 32 points.

Meanwhile the Ducks have two left wings who could fit the bill, Carl Hagelin and Patrick Maroon. Hagelin had 35 points last year for the Rangers and the young winger is only getting better. The other option is veteran winger Patrick Maroon who had 34 points last year for the Ducks. His only negative stat was his minus five rating, but even that can be explained. Maroon played with the Ryan Kessler line and they were on the ice for more defensive zone face-offs therefore taking the hardest defensive assignments. He also spent some time with the 1st line during the post season last year.

Who goes on the 1st line is really preference, whoever plays with Perry and Getzlaf should be successful. You can opt for a veteran who has chemistry with the two or the speedy Hagelin. From any view point letting go of Beleskey was a good move for the franchise as the Ducks will not be overpaying him and it kept cap space open for the signings of Hagelin and Silfverberg who are both restricted free agents. (Hagelin was traded by the Rangers due to the their cap space issues) Maybe the Ducks will be looking for a left wing at the trade deadline, but letting go of Beleskey gets an A.

 

Cam Talbot Review

Coming into this off season, the Oilers needed a stud starting goalie, and they think Cam Talbot is their answer. They acquired him in a trade with the New York Rangers, that involved no other players, but it did involve 4 picks. The Oilers traded picks 57, 79 and 184, while the Rangers traded pick number 209, and Talbot.

Talbot was a great backup for the Rangers last year, as he went 21-9-4, with a .926 save percentage, and a 2.21 goals against average. So the Oilers are in for either an expected stud, or a one season wonder with Talbot. Although, Talbot might have been successful just because of the Rangers strong defense. The have great players such as Staal, McDonagh, Girardi, and Boyle. The Oilers have one of the worst defenses in the league, but they did pick up veteran d-man Andrej Sekera in free agency. Edmonton also has Justin Schultz, who is projected to be one of the best offensive defenseman in the league in a few years. The Oilers also have great young defense with Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom.

There is tons of potential for Talbot to be a one season wonder, but we will have to wait and see.

Wild Player Performance Predictions

5 player performance predictions:

5.Zucker
Zucker had a great year this year he scored 21 goals in just 51 games and I think he easily could’ve been a 35+ goal scorer had he not gotten injured. My prediction is that he will be a 30+ goal scorer with 40+ points.

4.Koivu
He had 48 points in 80 games as a second 2nd line center (14 goals, 34 assists) amd I think that’s good numbers for him. He is good offensively and defensively and a great leader for our young team. My prediction is that he will have a 50 point year and remain on the second line with Zucker and Niederreiter.

3.Dubnyk
There is no doubt that he played amazing last year going 27-9-2 with a 1.78 GAA. Although he could be just another version of Kuemper, I predict that he will have around 45 wins, 2.30 GAA and a .920 S%

2.Suter
Suter is a way above average defenseman but not as talented as Keith or Doughty. He played well for a defenseman racking up 38 points in 77 games and being a +7. He will have solid offensive numbers and his +/- should go up this season while playing in front of G Devan Dubnyk.

1. Parise
Parise had 62 points (33G,29A) and was a +21 in 74 games. His performance should improve this year because C Mikael Granlund is getting better and Pominville is a consistent point production player. I predict that he has 30+ goals and 65+ points.

Jersey Concepts 2!

Here are some more jersey concepts!

Grateful Dead – Just for Fun

Dead Jersey

As a Deadhead, I decided to make a jersey for the 50th anniversary of the band, and this one adds a lot of aspects of the band into one hockey jersey. The main logo, in the center of the jersey, is called ‘Steal Your Face’, or a Stealie. (I have one as my profile pic) and it was an album cover, that has now become a symbol of the band. There’s also tie-dye shoulder yokes, as the Dead spearheaded the tie-dye shirts. There’s also lightning bolts on the arms and waist separating red and blue, as a reference to the Stealie. There’s also a little bit of grey in the armpits as a reference to one of the Dead’s most popular songs, ‘Touch of Grey’.

Washington Capitals – Flying the Flag

Jersey

Let’s be honest – Aside from the Caps’ alternate jerseys, the Capitals have one of the worst jersey sets in the league. As a part of a contest on Hockey Jersey Concepts, I had to use two colors for the jersey, and I went with a modified Winter Classic logo aside the DC flag. The jersey highlights the red and white of the flag, and puts the flag (See it here) on the shoulders.

Dallas Stars – Think Outside the Green

Home Jersey

When the Dallas Stars introduced their current victory green and black jerseys, they were a huge step forward. But in a video released by the Stars, they reveal concepts that didn’t make it on the ice, and one of them was a blue and gold color scheme. I decided to run with that, and put a star back on the jersey, so here’s a gold and blue Stars jersey.

Anyways, that’s all for now! Let me know what you think of these concepts in the comments below, and I’ll see you whenever I get around to posting again!

Did Ryan Kesler’s Extension Make his Deal the Worst in Hockey?

Ryan Kesler, a Selke winner in the 2010-2011 season, an Olympic Silver medalist, a Gold medalist in the World U18 championship for junior hockey, is now the proud owner of one of the worst contracts in the National Hockey League (Actually the Ducks are the proud owner). Ryan Kesler will be 31 by the season opener and will be signed through 2021-2022. Ryan Kessler will be 37 years old turning 38 when the deal expires.

Ryan Kesler will not be a good hockey player by the time his deal expires. Ryan Kesler will not be a Selke winner caliber player, and that’s assuming he still is, which is seriousley doubtful. Ryan Kesler will not be a top two center, and I doubt he will be at 35, much less 38.

However, Ryan Kesler will have a 6.875 million dollar cap hit according to Spotrac. The Anaheim Ducks will be heavily criticized and ridiculed for this signing. The one thing we can all know for certain is Ryan Kesler will be  a very rich man.

But that’s enough about the future, lets talk about his highly mediocre current state. Kesler had 20 goals and 27 assists last year which combined for 47 points. Kessler is well known for being good defensively as he won the Selke, the award for best two way forward, but at the same time this was 5 years ago. In hockey, 5 years is very long time.

But back to Kesler, he hasn’t broken 50 points since 2010-2011 season, and hasn’t had a positive plus/minus since 2011-2012. The reason I am going to focus on his plus/minus is due some basic laws of hockey. If you don’t score, you can’t win and if you don’t play defense you can’t win. Your plus/minus is a reflection of if you out score, are out scored, or are even, when you are on the ice. A player wants to have a positive plus/minus because that means you are outscoring your opponent. If you have a negative plus/minus , that means you are being out scored. Now obviously plus/minus is affected by the team around you, but the Anaheim Ducks were a good team. They made it to the Western Conference Final . So you can let it slide that his plus/minus was bad in Vancouver last year, but in 2012-2013 the Canucks made the playoffs and he was still minus. Being minus is one of the worst things teams can see on your stat sheet, which makes the fact he’s getting 6.875 million dollars insane. You can do a lot of things with 6.875 million dollars, but I don’t recommend giving it to Ryan Kesler or any aging player, in decline, with a mediocre stat line.

Kesler is known for being good on the penalty kill, but according to NHL.com the Ducks penalty kill was 15th of 30. Now again its not all his fault, however,  you would think a player getting as paid as much as him, a defensive specialist no less,  should help more than that. Now I’m not going to say Kesler shouldn’t have gotten an extension, but it should have been more like 3 years and 18 million.

So someday Anaheim fans will boo him on the ice and we will have to remember 3 things. First, this is a business so a player will try and make as much money as possible. Second, it’s Anaheim Ducks’ general manager Bob Murray’s fault he is overpaid. But most importantly, remember this mistake, and learn from it not to overpay players by massive amounts just to keep said player.

So, while Bob Murray, the Ducks general manager, did get an extension done, it was a poor deal for the Ducks and the deal will ultimately hurt the franchise. Maybe next year he will help and the year after next, maybe even the next 3 years, but there will be a reckoning and the Ducks will pay the price of giving so much money.

(All player stats are provided by hockeydb.com, all contract info is courtesy of spotrac.com, and penalty kill rankings are from nhl.com)