Quick Hits- Sabres

Hey readers, looking to give an assortment of updates and opinions on the Sabres here.

  1. Evander Kane and Jack Eichel attend WWE Monday Night Raw together, sitting front row.  Nothing big here, but it may be of interest to some that they are friends.  I happened to be there too.
  2. Jack Eichel runs away with his opportunity.  Ever since the preseason commenced for the Sabres with a win over the Minnesota Wild, Eichel has truly impressed Sabres fans.  Night in and night out, he’s found his way onto the scoresheet, making it seem as if he isn’t the 18 year old kid without experience that he is.
  3. Evan Rodrigues is looking to be a pretty nice signing by the Sabres.  He potted two goals against the Leafs on Tuesday and may very well find himself in blue and gold full time in the future.
  4. Ryan O’Reilly missing the first five games of the season due to court is frustrating.  After the buzz of his crime finally is silenced, it comes back to haunt the Sabres faithful.  How much will it hurt the team?  Likely not that badly as Eichel’s aforementioned performance can hold up the top line slot.  I think this guarantees Reinhart a start in the NHL.  Either Reinhart, Girgensons or possibly Johan Larsson could fill in the gaping hole in their top six.
  5. I’m going to put my faith in Lehner that he is at least the level of a goalie such as Corey Crawford.  In my opinion, Crawford is not a bad goalie by any means, but is undeniably at least partially a product of his defense.  Anyways, Lehner looked shaky against the Senators, but improved quickly.
  6. Brendan Guhle has been terrific.  If he can keep up his impressive performances, there could be a chance he lands on the top pairing with Ristolainen in the future!  Looks like Murray hit on this pick.

Well, that’s about it.  Thanks for reading!

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.

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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Analyzing Sabres Forward Lines

Now that the dust settles on a roller-coaster of a season that saw young talent such as Tyler Myers and Nikita Zadorov moved, it’s time to see what new head coach, Dan Bylsma, has available.

LINE 1

Evander Kane – Ryan O’Reilly – Tyler Ennis

After recovering from surgery, Kane is poised to make his Sabres debut this October.  I expect him to notch at least 20 goals with the quality line-mates he is playing with.  Until Jack Eichel is ready, Ryan O’Reilly will likely hold down the top line.  The Lady Byng winner led the league in takeaways and is known for his elite two-way game reminiscent of Patrice Bergeron.  Expect him to be around the 50-60 point range.  Finally comes Tyler Ennis.  Ennis is short on size at 5’9 165lbs, but defies his size by playing like a player of a 6′ 200lb frame.  He posted his third 20 goal season while leading the team in scoring at only 25 years old.  I believe Ennis has the talent to pot 30 goals and 60 points this season.  Watch out for this top line.

LINE 2

Matt Moulson – Jack Eichel – Zemgus Gigensons

Moulson has left a lot to be desired after being acquired in the Thomas Vanek trade back in 2013.  His regression can likely be credited to the lack of competent players to play alongside.  On this line, however, he does have two players with extremely high ceilings to have me expect him to hit 20 goals.  Jack Eichel has the chance to make a giant impact with the team this season.  The team should start him out here and come Christmas time if he’s ready, swap him with O’Reilly,  I think he will be a Calder trophy finalist; finishing somewhere around 50 points.  Zemgus Girgensons already has made an appearance in the NHL All-Star Game at only age 21.  Last season, an injury toward the end had him out until the end while prior to injury, he was poised to lead the team in scoring with 15 goals and 15 assists in 61 games.  I think the Latvian Locomotive has it in him to reach 20 goals and 45 points this season.  This could be a very solid line if the players develop chemistry.

LINE 3

Jamie McGinn – Sam Reinhart – Brian Gionta

McGinn was regarded by many as a “throw-in” to the Ryan O’Reilly trade.  In my opinion, he is much more.  Injuries hampered his 2014-15 season, but previously, he recorded 19 goals on the Colorado Avalanche.  Jamie can slot anywhere on this line-up whether it be the top line or fourth line and not look out of place.  Assuming he gets some time in the top 6, 15 goals would be reasonable.  In this scenario, I have Reinhart making the team.  His performance in the scrimmage suggests he’s a different player than he was in his nine game stint last season as he put on more weight and stands at 6’1 190lbs.  I think with his elite hockey sense, he can notch 10 goals and 40 points here possibly.  Captain Brian Gionta is steadily declining, but can be a compliment to Reinhart and McGinn.  He is very undersized at 5’7, but could notch 10 goals and 45 points here.  It’s a pretty solid third line if Reinhart performs well.

LINE 4

Nicolas Deslauriers – David Legwand – Marcus Foligno

Nic Deslauriers led all rookies and ninth overall in hits while also being one of the few on the team to suit up in all 82 games.  He brings physicality to the line-up while also not being afraid to drop the gloves.  I don’t expect much offense from him so 5 goals and 15-20 points seems accurate.  David Legwand was acquired from the Robin Lehner trade and as of now is the only player on the roster with over 1,000 games played in his career.  I think he’ll be a great influence on Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart to teach them how to be a pro.  If he is on the fourth line, I would expect numbers slightly higher than Deslauriers’.  Marcus Foligno rounds out the line-up here.  He has a lot to prove still at a young age.  I think the team should put him here to start and let him work his way up the roster.  He is another strong physical presence who can put up decent numbers.  If he does in fact move up, 10 goals and 35 points would be a good bounce-back season for him.

EXTRAS

Johan Larsson, Cody McCormick, Jerry D’Amigo

I really liked what Larsson had shown last season and wouldn’t place him in a fourth line role.  I would give him some time on Rochester’s top line and have him as the team’s first forward call-up.  D’Amigo could also get some AHL time but it wouldn’t hurt the team to have him up here as a healthy scratch.  I’d say McCormick stays with the team the whole season as a healthy scratch.

Ultimately, this is the strongest Sabres team on forward since our 06-07 team.  Thanks for reading.  Make sure to leave your thoughts down below and follow us on Twitter @hockeyscoopblog.

Sabres Nearly Sell-Out Scrimmage

Tonight, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the annual prospect scrimmage as part of their Development Camp.  After a disappointing season to say the least, the franchise was awarded with blue-chip prospect, Jack Eichel.  Combined with other highly touted prospects including the 2014 second overall selection, Sam Reinhart, Sabres fans had a lot to look forward to in the scrimmage.  However, not many expected attendance figures to be quite this high…  There were 17,115 fans in attendance of the 19,070 that could have possibly been there.  Sam Reinhart finishes with 2 goals and 1 assist as the game’s best player.

Gonchar Traded To Habs

Defenseman Sergei Gonchar was traded today from the Dallas Stars in exchange for the Canadiens forward Travis Moen. Gonchar, now 40, has 1 point (an assist) in 3 games and -1 rating. Gonchar is rapidly on the decline and his best years are behind him. Moen, on the other hand, at age 32 has no points in 10 games with 4 penalty minutes and an even +/- rating. Gonchar is making a hefty $5 million USD and is eligible for Unrestricted Free Agency this offseason. Moen is earning $1.85 million USD and still has 2 years left on his current contract. “We’re open to [another move],” Dallas’ GM Jim Nill said. “But my first thought process here, and [coach] Lindy Ruff, sitting down with him and our management and coaching staff, is that we have to find out internally what we have first. That’s what this trade allows us to do now. … We have some young defensemen coming up and they’ve earned the right for the opportunity. These are guys that have been playing the last two or three years, they won the Calder Cup. I needed to start opening up some doors and some opportunities for them.” Dallas may not be done with making some big moves after dropping 7 straight games in a row.
Gonchar also shared his thoughts on the situation as well. “I’m going to play in one of the great hockey cities, and that’s fantastic,” Gonchar said to the Dallas Morning News. “I didn’t fit in here, so this is an opportunity for me to go and see if I fit in there. It’s a great team and a great city and I might have a chance to play for the prize.”
More news and updates to come as they happen.

The Hockey Scoop is Back!

Hello all viewers, I’m happy to confirm that the Hockey Scoop is back up and running!  Thanks for sticking with me throughout my rather long “vacation”.  I’m very excited to get this website back up and running with more features than ever before including some coverage on other hockey leagues other than the NHL.  A forum and transaction section may also be in the works too if I can get that all worked out.  Also, the Rumors section will be coming back yet again with the latest buzz around the NHL regarding trade talks.  Thank you all so much for your continued support!

EDIT: The Transactions page is up to date with all notable moves made in the NHL.

USA Suffers Disappointing Loss To Finland

        Team USA was shutout yet again today against Finland.  The final score was a huge 5-0 win by Finland to capture the bronze medal.  I thought the first period was quite exciting and showed value of an entertaining game including the penalty shot by Patrick Kane coming off of the play in which Kimmo Timonen (FIN) shot part of a broken stick at TJ Oshie while he was controlling the puck.  I found it quite surprising that Bylsma chose Kane to shoot rather than shootout hero TJ Oshie.  Kane had quite the attempt, getting Rask down low but was at too bad of an angle and couldn’t lift the puck and bury it in the net.  In the second period Finland scored a pair of goals early into the period and began to dominate.  USA took 12 penalty minutes which lead to some key powerplay time for Finland.  The third period lead to even more domination and USA just wanted the game to end.  “They played like they had something to win, and we just kind of shut it down. … It wasn’t a good effort by us.” – Zach Parise’s comments after the game.  Here are the stats for the game.

 

Shots On Goal

USA-27  FIN-29

 

Penalty Minutes

 

USA-12  FIN-4

 

Powerplay Goals

 

USA-0 FIN-2

 

Time On Powerplay

 

USA-4:00  FIN-9:30

 

        Teemu Selanne had a game to remember with 2 goals.  If he had gotten one more goal he would have tied for the most career goals by any hockey player in the Olympics with 25 goals.  Tuukka Rask also had a great game with 27 saves to record a shutout.  Finland has medals from the past 3 Olympic games with a bronze here in Sochi, a bronze in Vancouver and a silver in Torino.  Finland ultimately deserved the medal and had a great Olympics this year.  Is Bobby Ryan intense enough for Team USA now?  I think so.

Finland vs. USA Game Preview

Today we get to see the bronze medal match-up between Team USA and Team Finland.  Both teams were eliminated yesterday and will want to at least bring home the bronze for their countries.  For Finland, Tuukka Rask will be starting in-goal after being out for their game against Sweden with an illness.  For USA, Jonathan Quick will earn yet another start.  After the heartbreaking loss to Canada USA might be too distracted to focus on the game and may lose as a result.  That’s why if I were Dan Bylsma I’d be starting Ryan Miller, who is most likely in a better state than Quick.  Finland may also be shaken up from their loss to Sweden.  Rask however, wasn’t participating in that game and should play with his ordinary dominance.  A key to USA winning this game is for players who just haven’t been able to score like Patrick Kane to step up and contribute.  For Finland they must keep solid defense and learn to play the way Canada did to shutout the U.S. previously.  Another note is that this is Finland’s captain, Teemu Selanne’s last Olympic hockey game he will ever play in.  I’ll have a post with the scores and an analysis after the game.