New Jersey Devils Surprising 2015-16 Campaign

The 2015-16 New Jersey Devils team were projected to have one of the worst records on the NHL. As of February 21st, New Jersey has a winning record of 29-24-7 (65 points), and are 1 point shy of a Wild Card position.

The Devils acquired New Jersey raised, forward Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks for two draft picks,  at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in Florida, on June 26th. Palmieri had career highs of 14 goals and 31 points in 71 games in the 2013-14 season, his third of four years in Anaheim. As of February 21st, in 60 games, Kyle already has career highs in goals, 22, and in points, 39. He has been a great addition for New Jersey, and will likely to resign with the team in the off-season, for his 3 year contract will end, making him a restricted free agent (RFA).

There are a lot of young, fresh bodies in the Devils locker room. A few of those young players are forwards Joseph Blandisi and Reid Boucher, and as well as defenders Damon Severson and Adam Larsson. Blandisi was called up from Albany in mid December, and in 21 games, Joseph has had 5 goals and 12 points. Boucher, on the other hand, in 18 games, has 4 goals and 9 points. On the blue line for New Jersey, Damon Severson has 12 assists and 13 points in 54 games. 2011 4th overall pick Adam Larsson has 11 assists and 13 points in 60 games.

Cory Schneider has been one of the hottest goalies in the league. As of February 21st, he is tied for first with St. Louis Blues net minder Brian Elliot, for Goals Against Average (GAA), with 2.06. He is 5th in the league for Save Percentage (SV%), with .928. Cory is also tied for 4th in the league with Shutouts with 4. If he keeps on doing his job, he can definitely be a Vezina Trophy candidate.

If New Jersey keeps on playing with there success, they can find themselves in a Wild Card spot, and possibly even a Divisional Playoff spot.

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.

Potential Rookies that Could Play For the Canadiens Next Season

Jacob De La Rose:
*LW, 6’3 and 20 years old.*
 Jacob was drafted in 2013, 34th overall. He played 33 regular season games in which he scored 4 goals and 2 assists, along with 12 playoff games with the Canadiens last season. It’s a safe bet that he’ll be on the 3rd or 4th lines this upcoming season. Because Montréal is one of the smallest teams in the NHL, they could use a big body that can bring some good two-way play. While he’s not the most fancy or unique player, he does have a good relationship with his coach, which can also be a factor.
Michael Mccarron:
*RW, 6’6 and 20 years old.*
Michael was also drafted in 2013, but went 25th overall. While he is not expected to become a star, Mccarron has great intensity and determination. He isn’t very fast, but plays with an edge and had 68 points in 56 games for the Oshawa Generals and London Knights (OHL). He won the memorial cup 2 months ago, and a silver medal in the IIHF World U18 Championship in 2013.
Jarred Tinordi:
*D, 6’6 and 23 years old.*
 Drafted 22nd overall in 2010, Jarred will hopefully be a 3rd pairing defenseman next year. Tinordi was moved between Montréal and Hamilton (AHL team) this season and played 13 games in total, and was a -5. He’s a solid defensive defenseman that doesn’t have much to his offensive game. There are also rumours of Alexei Emelin getting traded, so that could potentially open up a spot for Jarred Tinordi.

Top 5 Calgary Flames Prospects

#5 Andrew Mangiapane was selected in the 5th round of the 2015 NHL draft.  He could be a potential steal. Andrew finished in the top 10 for OHL points.  The only reason he fell so low is because of his size.  At 5′ 10″, weighing 170 lbs, this guy’s a sniper! With 43 goals and 104 points in 68 games,  you don’t see this kind of player every day.

#4 Emile Poirier spent the season with the Adirondack Flames (AHL).  He played six games, only getting one assist. Poirier may may not be NHL ready but is a speedy power forward who can drive the net and  score very easily. He put up 19 goals and 42 points in 55 games with Adirondack. Emile was selected 22nd overall by the Flames in 2015. (RW)

#3 Mark Jankowski has taken some time to develop, but it looks like it will be worth it. In the 2014-15 season, Jankowski won the national championship with Providence. Jankowski has 28 goals and 70 points in the 110 games played with Providence where he will be going into his senior year.  Mark was the 24th overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft. (C)

#2 Hunter Smith is a very good two-way forward.  With his 6’6″ 210 pound body, he can hit, screen, tip in and block. He also has a offensive upside to him.  In the 2014-15 season, with the Oshawa Generals, Smith had 23 goals and 49 points in 57 games played. He does have some discipline issues to work on; he racked up 122 penalty minutes throughout the season. The Flames drafted him 54th overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft, and signed him to a entry level deal this off-season. (RW)

#1 Oliver Kylington is a smart, fast skating defenseman that plays a two way game. Oliver split the 2014-15 season between Farjestad, of the Swedish Hockey League, and AIK, of Sweden’s second division. He also suited up for ten games with Farjestad’s junior team.  Internationally, Kylington has played for Sweden at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He couldn’t  to play in the 2015 World Junior Championship because of injury. (LD)

*My Opinions

Flyers Resign Mason

        The Philadelphia Flyers have decided to resign starting goaltender Steve Mason for a 3 year deal worth 12.3 million dollars which averages to about 4.1 million dollars a year.  The deal seems fair enough for Mason but this deal might not be the best if Mason becomes like Ilya Bryzgalov who was bought out this offseason and then acquired by the Edmonton Oilers.  The Flyers finally seem to have found their number one goalie after questioning on whether Mason can be consistent with goaltending.  Realistically, this deal isn’t too risky but does put some pressure on Mason to not have any slumps in his game.

Kings Trade Scrivens & Oilers Trade Dubnyk

        The LA Kings have traded backup goaltender Ben Scrivens to the Edmonton Oilers for a 3rd round draft pick.  Scrivens was acquired to replace Devan Dubnyk who was traded earlier today for Matt Hendricks from the Nashville Predators.  I personally think the Kings may have lost out on this deal because Scrivens has played pretty well so far this season and a 3rd round pick isn’t that much of a return and puts more pressure on Martin Jones to step in permanently.  As for the Dubnyk deal I believe that the Predators have won this trade because Dubnyk has played with a mediocre defense and almost definitely will improve in a new start.  Maybe the Oilers have even more moves to make considering that Scrivens isn’t a proven starter. 

This Offseason’s Top Unrestricted Free Agents

This offseason will definitely be a busy one for many teams with top unrestricted free agents (UFA).  Among these names includes the following:

RW Marian Gaborik

C Michael Cammalleri

C Patrick Marleau

D Dan Boyle

C Paul Stastny

LW Thomas Vanek

G Ryan Miller

C Joe Thornton

D Andrei Markov

G Martin Brodeur

RW Ryan Callahan

G Jaroslav Halak

G Jonas Hiller

D Joni Pitkanen

LW Matt Moulson

D Brooks Orpik

C David Legwand

D Dan Girardi

RW Radim Vrbata

RW Jaromir Jagr

RW Jarome Iginla

Those names mentioned above are only a taste of what’s available on the market.  This offseason will be a time for lower end teams to get some solid veterans on contracts and for playoff contenders to stock up for a deep run.  Free agency is for top teams to lose and bottom teams to win.

Ranking The Best Young Goaltenders In The League This Year

Well this season has been quite chaotic with all the new adjustments to the rules and the realignment caused by the CBA made last year during the lockout period.  Overlooking this however shows you the differences in the way certain teams and players have played.  You see new up and coming star forwards, some new stellar defenseman, some new coaches and general managers but one position most people forget about is the goaltending on a team.  I’d like to rank the rookie goalies who entered the league this year and played great.

8.) Jeff Zatkoff Pittsburgh Penguins.  In 9 games so far this season he is going 7-2 with a 2.52 GAA (goals against average) and a .910 save percentage.  He currently has one shutout in this nine games.  Overall Zatkoff isn’t really a goalie with much potential because he’s well past the general rookie’s age being 27 and was drafted by the Kings 74th overall in 2006.  It looks like Zatkoff will provide quality backup goaltending for the Pens in the future.

7.) Marek Mazanec Nashville Predators.  In 23 games in this season currently Mazanec has an 8-9-3 record with a 2.84 GAA and a .903 save percentage.  Marek also posted two shutouts.  These numbers aren’t particularly amazing but for a 22-year-old it’s pretty good.  Mazanec will likely serve as Pekka Rinne’s backup when he returns to their lineup.

6.) Antti Raanta Chicago Blackhawks.  The undrafted 24-year-old has played very well this season for the Blackhawks.  In 16 games he has a record of 11-1-3 including a 2.27 GAA and a .911 save percentage.  Raanta will be a very valuable backup to Corey Crawford in the future and maybe even become the starter eventually.

5.) Frederik Andersen Anaheim Ducks.  The Ducks had shown the NHL last year their immense goaltending depth with the emergence of Viktor Fasth and solid play from Jonas Hiller but this year the Ducks have yet another up and coming goaltender in Frederik Andersen.  A 3rd round draft pick in 2012, Andersen has participated in 12 games so far and is going 10-2 on a very successful Ducks team this season.  He has a 2.07 GAA and a .923 save percentage this season.  The outstanding play from all 3 goalies makes one of them expendable for trade.

4.) Philipp Grubauer Washington Capitals.  Grubauer, a 22-year-old German goaltender has played very well for the Caps who haven’t been able to find definite starter and backup positions with variation of play from Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth. I expect Neuvirth to be traded and the Caps will end up using Holtby and Grubauer as their one-two-punch for goaltending.  Grubauer has piled together a 6-2-3 record in 12 games including a 2.27 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

3.) Cam Talbot New York Rangers.  After an unexpected retirement by Martin Biron earlier this season, Rangers’ fans were not sure who’d fill in for him.  It turns out Cam Talbot got called up from the AHL to backup elite goalie Henrik Lundqvist.  So far Talbot has gone above all expectations posting a 9-3 record with a 1.66 GAA and a 9.38 save percentage and 2 shutouts.  Talbot has really played outstanding for the Rangers this season and there is only room for improvement.

2.) Eddie Lack Vancouver Canucks.  With Cory Schneider being traded to the Devils Eddie Lack was given the call to the NHL.  He responded to the call-up by going 8-3-3 with a 2.19 GAA and a .923 save percentage in 17 games so far this season.  As Lu0ngo ages, Lack will get better and better and maybe take the starting position from Luongo.

1.) Martin Jones Los Angeles Kings.  With Jonathan Quick going down with a groin injury in November, Jones was there to take over.  Many fans were thinking the Kings would struggle to win games but they got just the opposite.  Jones put up the best numbers out of any of the other goalies on this list with a 8-3 record and a 1.41 GAA as well as a .950 save percentage.   To top it all off Jones got 3 shutouts in his 11 total games.  Jones was sent back down to the minors after to further improve his skill and get more starts.

Ultimately, all of these goaltenders are very talented and will propel each of their respective franchises forward in the future when some become starters themselves.

Brian Rafalski Back To The NHL?

Remember Brian Rafalski?  You know the guy who retired after Detroit’s playoff exit in 2011?  Yeah that guy.  Well guess what?  He’s coming back.  Rafalski an American born defenseman signed a contract with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL to prepare for a return to the NHL.  In his career Brian boasts of being a three-time Stanley Cup Champion and winning two silver medals in the Winter Olympics.  Apparently Brian was reminded of his extensive love of hockey after playing the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown a couple of weeks ago.  “I’m just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey,” Rafalski said.  All hockey fans alike should be glad to see a familiar face reenter the league again after a brief retirement.  “He played in the Winter Classic alumni game and got the bug,” said Everblades’ coach Greg Poss.  I wonder where Rafalski will go once he reaches the NHL.  Will he return to the Red Wings or go elsewhere?  We’ll have updates on Rafalski’s case when anything happens.

Murray Officially Named GM Of The Sabres

        Yes, the rumors on yesterday’s blog are now confirmed.  Tim Murray was hired as Buffalo’s general manager.  To work as an assistant to him, Craig Patrick was also hired by the Sabres.  Murray said in his press conference that “This team is in last place, anyone can be traded”.  Now that Murray is hired, the Sabres must decide on what to do with their star goaltender Ryan Miller, whose contract expires at the end of this season.  The Sabres have only two positive options with Miller; to trade him or give him a contract extension.  Murray is a firm believer that teams must build through the draft to make a good team and that you must sign free agents to make it an over-the-top team.  Murray said he isn’t afraid to spend money which is a good thing for the team considering former general manager Darcy Regier never signed many high caliber free agents.  Expect Buffalo to be busy as we transition toward the NHL Trade Deadline.