Monday, August 24, 2009

Five teams to shake your head at

First of all, sorry for the lack of updates. Here are two reasons why I havent been updating as much as I usually do.

a) Work has been crazy for me the last two months, but things should finally slow down starting next week, so thats good news for all of us.

b) there really isn't much going on in the rumour mill. I go on twitter everyday and see "wannabe" insiders spewing rumour garbage everywhere. Unfortunatly, as good as twitter can be, it has been taken over by people with no insight at all and thus we are being spammed with false rumours. I advise you to stick to sites that have been around for longer than just this summer, as they've been around this long for a reason. Spectors, The Fourth Period, Kukla's, ourselves and even Eklund (you cant deny that every once in awhile he nails something nobody else was talking about) are the sites I recommend, as they've been around for years (we're in our fifth year) and they have more cred than most of these "new" websites.

So on to the blog, which is about the five teams that I really think took a step backwards this offseason. Whether they let big UFA's walk without replacing them, or whether they made moves that just didnt make sense, here are the five teams that I believe simply are not as good as they were four months ago.

Anaheim, New Jersey, Florida,Buffalo, Washington

5) Washington Capitals: While they still have a great shot at winning their division (as they play in the weakest of them all), I feel the Caps have taken a minor step back this offseason. This team has made no real improvements since last season, while they lost two of their biggest leaders in Kozlov and Federov. Yes, Mike Green and Alexander Ovechkin are two of the best players in their position in the league, but Washington's supporting cast is extremely lacking. In net, while Varlamov had a great post-season, the kid has played less than 10 regular season games in his career. If he faulters, Theodore surely isn't the goalie to carry this team should the offense or defense take extended time off. One injury to Green or Ovechkin and this team could be in trouble.

4) Buffalo Sabres: A few years ago, this team was in the top five in the league, with stars like Briere and Drury, and while post those players have taken a step back since leaving Buffalo, the Sabres have faltered just as bad. The team has lost Afiniganov and Moore, while Drew Stafford is still an un-signed RFA. On defense, the team lost their most experienced defender in Teppo and replaced him with hit-or-miss defenseman Steve Montadore. Ryan Miller is going to have to play like a possessed man for the Sabres to have any chance at the playoffs, but in my opinion, it's going to be a long season for Sabres fans.

3) New Jersey: A quick playoff exit for the Devils meant the team was bound to hire another coach, and they did. With that said, I don't believe a new coach will solve the decline that is the New Jersey Devils. Last year, Scott Clemenson led this team into the playoffs with his amazing play while Brodeur was injured. This year, if Brodeur should get injured or falter (both seem likely), the task will be up to Yann Danis, not someone who is capable of carrying a team or really evening keeping one in the game. While the team has one of the most underrated D in the game, they still are not that great. Up front, the team's offense remains generally the same, though you have to assume the loss of Gionta will sting a little. Every year I pick the Devils to miss the playoffs, and this finally may be the year I am right.

2) Florida Panthers: At last year's trade deadline, the team had the opportunity to trade Bouwmeester for a package that would set the team up for future success. Instead, they decided to keep him for a playoff run that failed miserably. Now with Bouwmeester gone, the Panthers seem a sure bet to finish near the bottom of the league. The club also lost Craig Anderson, who was by far the best goalie the Panthers had last season. These two big losses, and no real replacements, mean the Panthers are 100% going to miss the playoffs and are likely draft-lottery bound.

1) Anaheim Ducks: This is a team that faught all season long to make the playoffs, and it appears they will be even in more of a fight to do so this season. At the beginning of last season, I called Anaheim's defense the league's best. This season, it's near the bottom. Without a bounce-back season by Giguere, or another breakout run by Hiller, I believe this team will find themselves in the bottom seven in the West. Pronger and Beauchemin are huge subtractions for this team, and while a full season of Ryan Whitney will help, he's not the answer, nor is Sbisa. Up front, the additions of Lupul and Koivu will help, but it's clear that both men's best seasons are behind them. Rob Niedermayer also doesn't appear to be back, which will hurt the team's third-line depth. The Ducks best years are behind them and it may be time for the team to take a step back and evaluate where they are.

Drop me an email at with your thoughts on my list, and feel free to provide me with your own.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And The Winner Is...

The majority of the offseason is complete and the NHL landscape has changed a lot since we last saw on-ice action in June. A lot of players have changed teams, rookies will enter the league and several familiar faces have left the game behind. While players like Tanguay, Zherdev (maybe?) and Prospal still remain available, I feel confident in naming the following five teams as the most improved.

5. New York Rangers:

A lot of teams probably deserve to make this list over the Rangers, maybe Calgary with the addition of Jay Bo, or Atlanta by picking up a supporting cast for Kovalchuk, but I'm going to give spot #5 to the Rangers. There is defense is suspect and overpaid, but when you have Lundqvist in net you can take those chances. The Rangers shocked everyone and added Gaborik, who when healthy is the most skilled player in the NHL. The team also found a way to get rid of Gomez and get a lot back for his overpriced contract (way to go sather!). Higgins will excel in NYR, where he wont be relied upon to score as much as he was in Montreal. The Rangers are much improved, and I still think they'll add another body to replace Zherdev before the puck drops.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs:

The Leafs finished 10th in the league in goals scored last year, which would surprise you when looking at their roster. They lost Antropov and Moore up front, but improvements from a lot of the young offense should help replace those totals. The Leafs finished the year with awful defensive and goaltending stats and thus chose those areas as the ones to address. Komisarek, Beauchemin and Exelby make this team's defense one of the league's best, while Toskala's groin surgery and the addition of "The Monster" should make the Leafs much better between the pipes.

3. New York Islanders:

While you won't see the Islanders go from worst to first, the Islanders made big steps on moving towards a winning record. We start in the crease, where the team added not one starting goalie, but two, giving them a grand total of three. When all three are healthy and playing well, the Isles will be able to trade one of them (not Dipietro of coarse) for even more pieces to their puzzle. The team drafted future superstar John Tavares first overall, giving them the franchise player they desperately needed, while Andy Sutton should make their backend significantly better.

2. Montreal Canadiens:

After what can only be viewed as a failed centennial, the Habs needed to shake things up in a bad way. The team swapped their entire first line of Higgins, Koivu and Kovalev for Cammalleri, Gomez and Gionta, and while I don't know if the team is any better, they changed the chemistry of the team enough to earn them second spot on my list.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning:

A year after the team attempted to build a team around Stamkos, they've done it again. A lot of exits, a lot of enters, but I think in the end this year will be different. The team entered the season last year with a dangerous looking offense, a very weak defense and questionable goaltending. Hedman, Ohlund and Foster are huge additions on the blueline, while a healthy Mike Smith should be good enough for this team to make the playoffs.

Agree? Disagree? Drop by the forums and let me know who you think are the most improved teams. This weekend part two of this will come out, when I decide which five teams have taken a turn for the worst this offseason.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

One Week For Kaberle

Seven days from now Thomas Kaberle's no-trade-window will end, and we will know for sure if Thomas Kaberle will remain a Toronto Maple Leaf. Sources say it is likely he will remain in Toronto, but expect a few last minute offers to come in this week. One should be from the Buffalo Sabres, whose defense is thin and will be relying in a young Tyler Myers to play big minutes should the team not address it's biggest weakness. Other teams still with interest include Atlanta, Florida, Vancouver and St. Louis.

The feel good story of Theo Fleury has taken a bad turn, as reports are coming out today that his comeback is purely based on financial need. Fleury is broke, and a comeback would do wonders for his bank account. Either way, I'd love to see him come back and give it one more shot. I know a lot of Calgary fans want this guy back in red.

Detroit is done their off-season shopping and I can't help but wonder if their cup final streak could be in jeopardy. Hudler replaced with Williams, Hossa replaced with Patrick Eaves, Osgood another year older, without Ty Conklin backing him up. The Wings will need big years from Leino and Abdelkader if they want to stay atop the Central, those Hawks are going to be hard to beat.

Heatley to San Jose rumour still float about, and I do believe he will end up their at some point this offseason. San Jose needs a shakeup and Heatley needs a new home. It's all down to figuring out each sides pieces.

Zherdev, Prospal, Bertuzzi and Tanguay all remain at large, with Zherdev still likely KHL bound. Prospal had been rumoured to the Wings, but that seems unlikely after the Willaims signing. Bertuzzi I'm still hearing will end up in Philly, while Tanguay to Phoenix is still the hot rumour, though Minnesota and Tampa are very much in this.

With Shanahan signed by the Devils, the team has apparently shifted their attention to UFA d-man Martin Skoula.

Thats all for now, check, our twitter, and our forums for all the latest.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Is Mats Sundin the Hockey World’s Most Skilled Card Player?

One of Sweden’s best hockey players ever, Mats Sundin, recently became a poker ambassador for and has been seen in numerous TV ads all around the world, but is he as talented on the green felt as he is on the ice? Well, his live tournament stats aren’t that impressive. In fact he hasn’t won a dime! When it comes to winnings, Sundin is far behind another Vancouver resident and former hockey player, Greg Mueller, who has won close to $2 million in tournaments and must be considered the best hockey/card player ever. Sundin, play video poker for recreation and hockey for a living, that’s our suggestion

Monday, August 03, 2009

Zherdev to the Leafs?

Steve Zipay of Newsday reports that the Leafs and Rangers are talking of a deal that would send Zherdev to Toronto for Stempniak and White. I love this deal, as you'd be shipping out another spare d-man and a useless 2.5 million (Stempniak) for a guy who can play on the top line. The best part of this deal is that we get our top-line guy without moving Kaberle, who A) could stay and anchor the PP or b) still be moved for another top-line player. Read Zipay's article here:

Did you get excited over the three-way rumours floating around yesterday? Don't get too ahead of it all, as I've been told by sources that Montreal has not been approached by anyone regarding a Heatley deal. With that said, I still believe San Jose and Ottawa should make a deal that would send Heatley to the Sharks.

The Rangers are looking for a #1 centre, and Mats Sundin could be that answer. The Rangers could also once again get into the Heatley sweepstakes should Zherdev be let go / traded. If the Rangers can get another puck moving d-man (say white?), I'm hearing Rosival could be bought out or sent down.

I'm hearing Bertuzzi is in deep talks with the Fylers, who would be a lot meaner with him and Pronger on the ice.

Prospal and Tanguay remain the two biggest names available. Tanguay to Phoenix continues to float around, while Pittsburgh and Ottawa are other teams said to be joining the chase. As for Prospal, it's been quiet on his front, but I'm hearing LA and Washington have inquired about his services already.

For all the latest rumours, check the Hockeyleaks twitter (@Hockeyleaks), and make sure to check the forums daily!