Pastrnak Trade? Slam The Panic Button

I consider myself to be a stand up guy. I follow the rules, keep my nose out of other people business. But my patience is constantly worn thin by one thing, the Boston Bruins. The only franchise in Boston that truly tests its fans dedication.

In the least surprising break in recent sports history. The Boston Bruins may very well be on the brink of trading yet another superb young talent for what I can only imagine to be pennies on the dollar. Which is more annoying than any one thing because I finally memorized the correct way to spell Pastrnak.

I mean why not? Their track record for such things since I’ve been alive has been stellar. Who could forget Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart? Phil Kessel for two first round picks (Tyler Seguin/Dougie Hamilton) and a second round pick (Jared Knight). Dougie Hamilton was ousted for three picks because who the hell wants Freddie Hmailton on their team? Tyler ‘I like to party’ Seguin was later swapped for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser.

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To be perfectly fair, by the time you reach 21 years old your potential is practically maxed out and a trade is the only sensible solution. Which explains why Kessel and Seguin were traded when they were. Uncoincidentally that is how old Pastrnak is, so I guess this is the best thing for the franchise moving forward.

The cherry on top will be Don Sweeney’s in depth press conference post deal which will undoubtedly give extreme insight as to how contract talks went sour. How far off they were from the number/term Pasta desired. Why they picked the team they traded with (Colorado Avalanche), and how they will use the garbage they received (Gabriel Landeskog) to win 29 games.

Time to get irrationally upset.

Boston’s Options For Free Agent Frenzy Day

First of all happy 150th birthday to Canada.

Now that that is out of the way lets profile Kenny Agostino real quick. The former Blues prospect was the AHL player of the year last season. Scored in his Blues debut and now is going to be the next best thing in Boston. Signing him to a one year $850,000 deal is a good hockey move.

Showcasing his high cheese ability at the AHL’s skill competition last year.

Some people will look at this and say “4 for 7!? Ray Bourque went 4/4!!”. To which I say, listen up sally the only thing Kenny Agostino knows is bar Mexico, point to the rocket in the first row then skate to the bench. #CalderKenny is yet to unleash his skills, and opposing goalies *cough* Carey Price *cough* best beware.

Alright, so with it being the official opening of free agency a lot of speculation has been flying on who is going where. A quick glance over Bob McKenzie’s twitter account will show you that Boston hasn’t landed a single free agent I previously picked them for.

So. Boston will sign,

 

nobody.

You heard it here first.

 

 

For Boston Their Past Is A Painful Reminder

Well, in case you need another brutal reminder of the magnitude 10,000 dumpster fire that is the Boston Bruins organization as a whole. The Stanley Cup Final was an exquisite reminder of just that.

Phil Kessel, Joe Thornton, Martin Jones,  Joel Ward, Patrick Marleau and finally Mike Sullivan. What on gods green earth do all of these men have in common you might ask? I’m elated to tell you!

Hold your hearts Bruins nation, its about to get agitating in here.

Phil Kessel and Joe Thornton were both products of separate draft years, both going in the top 10 and having a significant impact on the ice. It physically cannot be stressed enough that you whole heartedly owned both of these men, with the means of holding on to them for years to come.

After a horrific, actually no an atrocious start to the 2005 season Joe Thornton, for reasons still unknown to mankind. Was traded to San Jose for pennies on the dollar. Ready? Here comes the names of those pennies from worse to “acceptable”. Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart and finally Marco Sturm.

Feeling light headed yet?

Purple elephant in the room, Wayne Primeau who clearly was a piece to the deal that then Bruins GM Mike O’Connell muttered “uhh sure? You can add him”. Primeau was a formidable player in the NHL, under the right circumstances. However, Primeau and Boston was not a match made in heaven.

Brad Stuart, okay we’re getting warmer here. Look, this guy has played a ton of meaningful hockey. An above average, top four defensemen. He’ll for better or worse be remembered in Boston for the trade with Calgary along with my good buddy Wayne Primeau for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew.

Last but certainly not least we have the German sensation Marco Sturm. Saving the best for last, as long as  ‘best’ and ‘last’ is visualized as a relative terms of course. Marco played the most hockey for the Bruins out of the trio they received for Thornton. Leading the Bruins in goals one year, winning the Winter Classic in overtime the next. While he didn’t last long enough to be on the Cup winning roster, he left a significant foot note in Bruins recent history. If you actually wish to recall it.

Phil the thrill, Phat Phil, Phil Kessel he goes by many sir names. Say what you will Phil is a clutch player, just Google his playoff stats. While he’s sort of hobbled around since his departure from Boston in 2009. I swear that wasn’t intended to be a fat joke. He’s left little doubt that Pittsburg probably will be his final resting spot. Honestly though who the hell calls house parties “shakers”?

Resembles a pretty Disney like success story doesn’t it? Phil Kessel gets traded. Finds a home. Fans love him. Happily ever after!

Well, it depends which side of the fence you stand on. Toronto wanted a goal scoring wing so badly that they gave up their 2010 first round pick which became Tyler Seguin, a second rounder Jared Knight and finally a 2011 first which materialized into Dougie Hamilton. To Boston, only to make the post season once, we’ll get to that later.

Any who.

Noticing a trend? If you guessed “none of them are currently Boston Bruins” then go get a cookie because you’re absolutely right.

Life truly is crazy.

Onward we go. Martin Jones, it’s okay if you’ve never heard of him before.

The ex Los Angles King spent the vast majority of his career wedged between “I like winning Stanley Cups” and “I don’t really want to backup Jonathan Quick anymore”. Last season Jones was set to become a free agent come July first. Los Angeles wanted Milan Lucic and at the time the Bruins needed a backup goalie. A first round pick, Colin Miller and Martin Jones was all it took to land Lucic. Four days later Jones was property of the San Jose Shark, in return the Bruins landed another draft pick.

Colin Miller possess a high ceiling and a desire to join the offensive rush but played a miniscule amount of games for the Bruins this past season because Claude Julien hates offense.

Jones, on the other hand has backpacked San Jose to the Stanley Cup Final. Despite the deficit Jones has played fantastic throughout. Would have been nice to have him in regular season game 82 when Rask threw in the towel, eh?

26th head coach in Bruins franchise history was the wonderful Mike Sullivan. His first season was a success, 41 wins and over 100 points. It’s one tarnished spot was that loss in the playoffs to Montreal. Yup, like so many before him Sullivan couldn’t get the B’s over mount Montreal. After the lockout Sullivan’s Bruins were a vomit inducing 29-37-16 record. Thornton was traded, Sullivan was fired and x amount of years later he’s two wins away from winning a Cup.

How wondrously reoccuring thus far.

Up to this point the mantra of this passage has remained steadfast. All of the previous names have at one point or another been Bruins, except for the final two.

Joel Ward was the guy who knocked out Boston in the playoffs back in 2012 with the Capitals. Following his goal all you lovely people took to social media and berated the poor man on his ethnic background.

Bravo Boston. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Anyways the guy oozes clutch in the playoffs. A danger to score in every minute he played as a member of the Predators, that clutch gene stabbed the Bruins hopeful, as already mentioned in 2012 when Ward was a member of the Capitals. Again he shined in game 3 of the Cup Finals, pulling up and taking a hefty, unscreened slaps hot from the blue line. Which he scored on.

You have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good, some stiff named Patrick Roy or something said that.

Hey Thomas Vanek we’ve found our new Bruins killer.

Parick Marleau, I bring him up only because its an interesting story. Rumors flew across social media last summer that a trade between Boston and San Jose might be in the works. Brad Marchand for Patrick Marleau straight up.

Off the bat…

All jokes aside Marchand is significantly younger than Marleau. Adding on to that Marchand scored more goals in the past two seasons than Marleau. Thirdly, Brad is far and beyond a better playoff performer than Marleau could dream of being. So, yeah, revert back to the meme.

While Boston most likely won’t be targeting Ward or Marleau in the near future. I’ll do what every D league blogger would do, entertain the idea if they had followed through on those trade rumors discussed above.

Thank Christ they didn’t.

Brad Marchand is that player you love to have on your team, because you don’t have to play against him. Recently he’s decided he enjoys scoring a lot of goals along side his ability to agitate, that’s okay by me.

While its more than evident the sting of the Thornton and Kessel trades hasn’t subsided much. Bruins fans can find comfort in the fact that Kessel is a member of that Leaf team that had a 4-1 lead in the third period and still lost.

Granted Boston has won a Cup before either of them, its come at a significant cost. The effects of which are being felt today.

Sympathy can be found with Thornton who barring a miracle is on the verge of losing the only Cup Final he’ll most likely take part in. Truly a sad occurrence, I understand most hockey fans love Crosby. But how can you dislike Joe Thornton? In a perfect world “Jumbo Joe” gets his ring, in this year or the next.

To the grieving Bruins fan its as close to a Ray Bourque send off as you’re going to get.

Go Sharks.

 

Dumb But Not Dumbfounding 

Partially I feel somewhat moronic for coming so late to the party here, but at least I’m not late to my defensive spots on the ice. That was reserved specifically for Mr. Miller.

Let me get this out of the way, Kevan Miller comes directly as advertised.

What I mean by that is when you play him as a bottom 6 defensemen all season he’ll thrive.

Despite a statistical career high which included 5 goals and 13 assists for an obvious 18 points in 71 games. Kevan Miller was anything but spectacular in his own zone all season.

A plus 15 doesnt accurately reflect how topsie turvey he was. Similar to the entire team play, there was nights where Miller appeared Norris trophy worthy. While others had me questioning why he was suiting up for a professional hockey game.

I distinctly remember on multiple occasions he would have his back turned to the play unfolding behind him. Lone and behold a stellar offensive opportunity would formulate for the opposition that he was utterly oblivious to.

Only reasonable thing you could possibly do in this situation was pay the man 2.5 million dollars over the span of four years, right?

*sigh*

If you agree with that ideology, you wont agree with the next thing I’m going to say.

The man isn’t worth more than 1.5 over three years and even that is generous. Literally not a penny more.

Lets be fair though, the Bruins have completely mouse trapped themselves when it comes to defensemen, so they had to do it. Matt Irwin wasn’t given sufficient ice time before brass shipped him to Providence after he had, in my opinion an above average preseason. Colin Miller, remember him? The major prospect in the Lucic trade with LA? He actually had a clue out there but it apparently wasn’t enough and he, like Irwin was sent southbound down 95.

Allow me to interject here, I don’t hate Kevan Miller, even though up to this point it looks like I do.

Miller is a bottom 6 defensemen. He’ll kill penalties, crunch minutes and beat the sand out of guys if called on. We Bruins fans love that stuff. But, Claude wanted to make him something he’s not. Deep into the season Millers minutes drastically increased. I fear Claude imagines Miller as Johnny Boychuk 2.0, drawing the comparison is almost insulting. I’ll apologize to Mr. Boychuk for even bringing it up.

Sorry Johnny.

Makes you wonder what kind of payday Krug is going to receive, eh?

Personally the game plan should be “devise a locker room that allows for Chara to be off the ice as much as possible” not because I don’t believe he should play. But if you’re going have a chance at sniffing hockey in April next year that man needs unlimited rest.

Which, subsequently he wasn’t allowed because Claude didn’t trust a soul that sat to his right on the bench in 2016.

Miller fits the bill, but not for 20 minutes a night and certainly not for 2.5 million dollars a year.

Upside? Yes there actually is an upside here. At least we aren’t paying 9 million dollars to a guy who was a measly plus four this year. Dagger Montreal.

Keep a close eye on the horizon, free agency is going to tell us a lot on what to expect come October.

See you in the second wild card spot!

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Classic Claude “I’m going to ungracefully brush off that comment” face to send you off on your Thursday commute.

 

Tampa Is Better Than You, And They Know It

Okay, lets get a few things straight before we dive in here.

I know the Penguins evened the series last night. I am also fully aware the Lightning were absolutely dominated in the third period, grasping on to overtime for dear life.

Cool. Yup, I know all of that… I watched the game.

All things aside Tampa is as sound a hockey team as you’ll find, truth be told I’m stating the relative obvious here.

Before you all get upset and formulate ways to defend your team consider this. Tampa is in the playoffs and unless you’re a Penguins, Sharks or Blues fan you don’t have the privilege of saying so.

Now, without further ado here are my 5 reasons the Tampa Bay Lightning are better than your team.

Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with his teammate Ryan Callahan #24 after scoring a goal in the second period against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1. The triplet line; Tyler Johnson, the undrafted free agent has solidified himself as one of the most dangerous play makers in modern playoff hockey. Alex Killorn the former Harvard Crimson opened the scoring in game one by virtue of a brilliant stretch pass from Victor Hedman (spoiler he comes later). Ondrej Palat the glue that binds the two previous stated players together, he wears the ‘A’ for a reason.
While this line has been used sparingly thus far in the playoffs, when they are together opposing defenses best come prepared.
2. Their back up goalie is probably better than your starter. Formally a first round pick, hes been patiently awaiting his opportunity to make a splash. Andrei Vasilevskiy 6 foot 4 inches may not be as colossal in size as Ben Bishop but he certainly holds his own. Forced into the starting position due to Bishop’s unfortunate lower body injury, there was reason for concern. Well, from everyone not affiliated with the Lightning.
Typically the backup goaltender is such because, well they’re the backup goaltender but Vasilevskiy is a different breed. Positionally sound, square to his shots, and visually confident he’s kept them in this series. Remember when he was forced to start a game in Bishop’s absence in last years Cup final? Long story short he won the game, and it wasn’t by accident.
3. Jonathan Drouin.
Steven Stamkos? Don’t need that guy, they have Jonathan Drouin.
Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on May 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Disregard all the bad mojo and drama that seemingly followed him anywhere he went, he was worth every headache.
All roads appeared to lead Tampa to trading the young superstar in the making, perhaps they took history into account? Patrick Kane for instance. NHL premiere talent, irreplaceable, yet being a party boy of sorts has made Chicago sweat at times in the off season. Yet they have stuck by him, which hindsight will tell you was for the best. Same applies for Drouin, an investment that as of right now is paying for itself. Just look at his goal last night to tie the game late in the first period, talk about talent.
4. Victor Hedman. Aside from a handful, and I truly mean handful, that’s like 5 players people. I would take Hedman over every guy in the league absolutely no hesitation.
Talk about a guy who quite literally does it all, every night. He plays nearly half a game in the playoffs, quarterbacks the power play, and backbones the penalty kill. He gained invaluable knowledge in the 2011 Eastern Conference final and the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, both with Tampa, both were losses. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, losses in big moments often times spell redemption for young players. That is however if you don’t expect things to simply be handed to you, the way this kid has played this year?
That’s no issue. In the absence of Anton Stralman the pseudo number two guy in Tampa, Hedman’s play hasn’t faltered at all. Which is a perfectly unplanned foray into my next point. It wasn’t all that long ago that Hedman’s game appeared to falter. Regardless Tampa stuck by their guy, good choice.
5. The fifth and final reason Tampa is better than you is the most impressive by far. All of this is possible without Steven Stamkos.
We have been overwhelmed with the prospect that this is primarily Stamkos’ team. Live and die by that fact. However, when you remove him from the equation you gain a different perspective. Tampa is littered with young talent.
Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.
When you take a step back and examine the Tampa Bay Lightning they’ve had one bizarre year. Drouin their best young talent had a temper tantrum that needed some attending to, Stamkos favorited a tweet from a Canadian reporter linking him back to the Maple Leafs, all of this on the back of a Finals loss last season.
All the while they have persevered aside from as rocky a start as a talented team could have. But what makes a championship caliber team, championship caliber is not just its top two lines, you need depth. Even more simply put, depth that works cohesively.
Tampa has had that especially in 2011, 2015 and now again in 2016. What separates the latter two years is superb drafting. 13 draft picks suited up for Tampa last night. While not every team in the league is made up entirely of guys drafted by the team they represent, Tampa is the blue print that a ton of teams want to emulate.
Building within the draft, it isn’t always pretty, in fact it often times leaves you to copy and paste forgotten players amongst your ranks. In the end you may have some pitiful finishes statistically. Those days are long gone, Tampa has narrowed their sights on a championship. A hunger that won’t be simply satisfied.

Royal Rumble

Marian Gaborik #12 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with Alec Martinez #27, Vincent Lecavalier #44, Dwight King #74 and Drew Doughty #8 after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on February 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.After spending 8 seasons with the Boston Bruins. Milan Lucic made his anticipated return to the Boston Garden lastnight as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Aside from the standing ovation and heartwarming video montage, there wasn’t much to get excited about from a Bruin fans perspective as the Kings cruised to a 9-2 victory.

Boston continued their suspect play at home. Which included stingy defense in front of their own net, shots without a purpose, and nearly no energy whatsoever after falling behind quickly following Marchand’s early tally.

Last night was oddly similar to their collapse against the  Maple Leafs at home on February 2nd in the sense that there was nothing to get excited about. “You know we use to have a killer instinct when we were up two goals in the third”. Krejci commented after blowing a two goal lead in the third period. “But today was a frustrating game”. He’s right, this is the most inconsistent I’ve seen the Bruins play in about a decade. Their Achilles heel? Defense, something the Bruins of years past have dominated.

The Leafs put up 35 shots on the Bruins last Tuesday, all of their goals were tipped shots inside or just outside of the slot. Which again proves they aren’t strong enough, or willing enough to move bodies in front of their goalie.

Which, is unacceptable.

One week later the Kings amassed 57 shots on net scoring on 9 of them. Again, the Bruins could not defend the front of their net. Which is a personnel issue.

Simply put, there’s been too much drastic change to the locker room since the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. Its had a catastrophic effect on the team, and organization as a whole. Causing even the most historically reliable defenseman to appear like chickens who were recently decapitated.

Following up on that I don’t have much faith in managements ability to make a trade by months end that will change the dynamic of the season. Nor do I fall in line with the idealism that trading Colin Miller and David Pastrnak is the answer, at all.

This team seldom wins trades involving young talent. So that’s the last thing you should want.

The Kings gave you a taste of your own medicine.

What you use to be is a far cry compared to what you are now.

Watching the Kings play hockey reminds me a lot of what the Bruins used to be. Strong, scary, simplistic breakout plays, running four lines, lockdown defense, and transitioning the play north to south effortlessly. Last night was a grand example of just how far away the Bruins truly are from being relevant again.

Joe Haggerty tweeted quotes postgame that carry some significant weight. “I feel like we got absolutely embarrassed” Zdeno Chara.

“Everyone is pissed off. Anyone that’s got any kind of pride knows that this is embarrassing. We should be pissed off about it” Brad Marchand.

At its core its truly sad to see how this team matches up against the leagues top tier talent. Considering where they use to be not too long ago.

My fear is that this problem is going to linger as the “ideal move” wont present itself by the trade deadline. Coupled with the reluctance to make a deal that will cripple them any further.

Until then you can continue to dazzle us with shootout victories against the Sabres (which required every ounce of effort you possessed) and salvaging a point in a demoralizing OT loss to the bottom feeder Maple Leafs. But the team that mopped the floor with you for 45 straight minutes lastnight should be the team you strive to become again.

I digress.

One thing is for sure the Kings jerseys weren’t the ugliest things on the ice last night. Which is difficult to imagine.

 

Big Buf signs a big deal but where does this leave the Jets?

Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets speaks to Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders during the third period at the Barclays Center on October 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Jets 4-2.
“Big Buf” is all smiles after coming to an agreement with the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon.

 

 

Following months of speculation Dustin Byfuglien finally inked a new deal, and boy did he get paid.

The shinny 5 year deal assures he’ll be paid at least 7.6 million dollars a year. Which again is great news, for Mr. Byfuglien, as well as the Winnipeg Jets.

With a couple choreographed flicks of his wrist Byfuglien just made himself top 5 highest paid defensemen in the NHL. Along with that Byfuglien may have made himself very attractive to teams willing to sell high to acquire his talents. What I mean by that is this, with the uncertainty of Byfuglien being a free agent this coming off season it put Winnipeg in an awkward position. Do we trade him? Or attempt to sign him long term and wait for the phone calls to come?

Constantly mixed into persistent trade rumors Byfuglien is a game changer at 6 foot 5 inches and 260 pounds. Philadelphia had absolutely no answer for his rough and tough play as a member of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. Which is exactly why teams have been drooling over him since September.

Los Angeles and Boston have been mainstays in the rumor mill, and on paper are perfect fits. But Buf’s new deal will make it difficult to keep their core of players and acquire him, under the current salary cap.

No doubt in my mind teams will certainly begin to devise a plan to free up space in the future by the trade deadline at months end. But will it be enticing enough for the Jets to part ways with Big Buf?

Not to mention the Jets are yet to sign current team captain Andrew Ladd (30) who has been linked to the Florida Panthers. Ladd was also a member of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, and has spent every season since playing alongside Byfuglien. Currently on pace for yet another 20 goal season Ladd could warrant a pay day tickling 6 million AAV.

Toby Enstrom (31) is yet another Jet defensemen who has been “quietly” shopped to teams in need of defensive help. Unlike Byfuglien, Enstrom is only 5 foot 10 inches and makes 5.75 million a year. A known power play weapon, Enstrom skates with a lot of confidence and makes crisp breakout passes coming out of his zone.

If the Jets were to move Enstrom they would have no difficulty signing Ladd to a monster deal. Solidifying their veteran core.

With seemingly nothing to play for at this point, and with the deadline drawing closer the Jets have an opportunity to make or break next season. If they stay put it’ll be difficult to sign Ladd and keep your established nucleolus in the locker room.

Moving Enstrom seems like a safe alternative to trading Byfuglien. That being said, if you’re the Jets you should go into deadline day with everyone being a potential trade target. With the mentality shifting to draft day immediately following.

After all the Auston Matthews sweepstakes has no definitive front runner as of right now.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Jets manufacture a contract for Ladd prior to the trade deadline. In fact it should be expected, players under contract offer GMs a lot more pull during the negotiation period. Contract or not Ladd, Byfuglien, and Enstrom will all be hot topics on deadline day.

Grab your popcorn folks, someone’s day will be made in a couple weeks time.

Tampa Turnover?

Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning gets set to fire a shot against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Lightning defeated the Leafs 5-4 in overtime.
Stamkos’ future as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning hangs in the balance as a struggling franchise may be attempting to narrow in.

 

This June marks the 12th anniversary of the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning squad. Their first and only Championship.

Four seasons later they won an NHL worst 31 games and owned the first overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Steven Stamkos annihilated his competition as a member of the Sarnia Sting making him the top tier center available in his draft class. Tampa made no mistake an proudly selected him first overall, while the pay out was gradual he possessed the makings of a franchise player.

Playing along side mainstays like St. Louis and Lecavlier, Stamkos netted 45 goals during the 2010-2011 campaign. Good enough to help catapult his team to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. The grueling 7 game series saw the Bruins win a heart breaker 1-0 in the final instalment, sending Tampa home empty handed.

In the off season Tampa awarded Stamkos with a 5 year 37.5 million dollar contract. He was beginning to eclipse Vinny Lecavlier as the face of the franchise even if he didn’t realize it.

Following the 2012-13 abridged season Tampa bought out Lecavlier’s contract. The longest standing member of the organization was not only their captain but at one point was Tampa’s most versatile player.

Mid way through the 2013-2014 season, the NHL enjoyed the Olympic break. Only a select few of the NHLs best were awarded the opportunity to partake in the games. Notably Marty St. Louis was left off team Canadas roster by then GM of the Tampa Bay Steve Yzerman.

It would be the last opportunity for St. Louis to don the Canadian Leaf and represent his country.

In response St. Louis approached GM Yzerman and requested a trade out of Tampa Bay. His no trade clause allowed him to choose a list of teams he would entertain a trade to. Ironically the injury to Stamkos would allow St. Louis to compete, and win gold as a member of team Canada. However the damage was done and on March 5th 2014 St. Louis was a member of the NY Rangers. In exchange the Lightning received then Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and a flurry of draft picks.

Stamkos was awarded captaincy of the Lightning and was now the sole face of the franchise. Along side a new cast of young and talented players bred from within the minor league things were looking up for Tampa.

So much so that in 2015 they made it back to the Cup Finals for the first time since the 2004 season. Although they would lose in 6 games to the Blackhawks it was widely speculated that Tampa would own the east for years to come.

Midway through the 2015-2016 season that Stanley Cup Finals appearance seems miles away.

Slow out of the gate the Lightning seemed to lose against any team they played.

Stamkos struggled to find the back of the net and the overall team chemistry seemed to be off.

On top of that Stamkos becomes a free agent once again after this seasons conclusion.

One might think there is no way he doesn’t resign for huge bucks this time around. We’ll one may be wrong.

Earlier this season amidst Tampa’s sluggish start, Stamkos favorited a tweet that linked himself to potentially retuning to Toronto (his home town) behind a mega contract. Stamkos immediately unfavorited the tweet and addressed the media saying it was purely an unfortunate accident.

Regardless it makes you wonder.

Following the loss to Chicago, young super star in the making Jonathan Drouin requested a trade out of Tampa Bay. The news wasn’t made public until a few weeks ago. In response Yzerman sent the struggling star to the minor league for a conditioning stint. Drouin, put on a clinic of dazzling moves and highlight reel goals, which is sure to stir the interest of many teams in need of his talents.

Drouin is only 20 and if Tampa wishes to move forward in trading him he’ll attract a fire storm of attention. No doubt the return could be monstrous but Yzerman should be hesitant to make a move too early.

Tyler Seguin was shipped out of Boston for what seemed at the time to be a fair return. Hindsight may be 20/20 but as of right now that deal was completely lopsided in favor of Dallas.

Yzerman should take a page out of Boston’s book and be extremely cautious when handling Drouin’s fate.

Losing Drouin may be the reason Stamkos takes his talents north of the boarder. While the supporting cast was talented enough to help elevate Stamkos all last season losing a pure talent like Drouin may be more devastating than initially thought.

In order to understand one must take a step back and gauge the overall talent at the skilled positions.

Ben Bishop is a towering goaltender who takes up nearly 100% of the net when down in the butterfly position. But is he your franchise goaltender? No doubt last seasons success is a confidence booster, but how long can he sustain his success? Considering he was a relative unknown, and a journey man until fate landed him in Tampa Bay. Could we be witnessing the second coming of Mike Smith or Cam Ward?

Defensively Tampa Bay is weak when it comes to their forwards. They’re built to turn a defensive turnover into an offensive opportunity in a flash. But who is causing those turn overs? Matt Carle who was fantastic last season has been a ghost this year. Healthy scratch for a couple of games this season he’s known for producing offense, which he hasn’t.

The onus falls then, entirely on Victor Hedman. Now Hedman is a beast, standing 6 foot 6 inches and possessing the ability to rush the puck and blast bullets from the blue line. He seemed to find himself as the playoffs rolled on last season and boy did he open some eyes.

So just how stable is the Tampa Bay lightning? Would you be shocked if Drouin and Stamkos both left Florida for new horizons?

What if Stamkos left for Toronto? New coach Mike Babcock needs a half wall guy on the power play ever since Phil Kessel left for Pittsburg. So perhaps this is the perfect wedding.

But what if the Lightning enjoy tremendous success in the second half of the season?

What if Yzerman can’t find the right dance partner for a trade involving Drouin?

What if by this time next season the Lightning are defending Stanley Cup Champions?

If the latter is correct there is no way Stamkos doesn’t resign with the Lightning. Drouin or not I believe they have the weapons right now to win this year, somebody has to knock off the Blackhawks eventually and I believe this team to be it.

While the possibility of a Tampa turnover will hang over everyone’s head all season it certainly should be a sense of internal motivation. Play like hell so you don’t lose out on this generations most valuable player.

Lets Make A Deal

Ryan Johansen #19 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is illuminated by spot lights while being introduced to the crowd prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on October 9, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The Ryan Johansen era in Columbus is over, but the Seth Jones tenure has just begun.

 

Due to no trade clauses, the salary cap and hesitation to acquire known veterans with costly contracts, the trade mill has been relatively quiet.

That was, until yesterday.

Three big moves by five teams spiced up your Wednesday.

For starters Los Angeles acquired former first overall pick Vinny Lecavalier and reliable defenseman Luke Schenn from the Flyers for a 3rd round pick and prospect Jordan Weal. A 3rd round pick comes as advertised and if the Kings go deep in the playoffs it’ll be more like a 4th round pick, but building within the draft seems to be the trend for Philly. Weal, has found his game at the minor league level. A change of scenery could translate large for his ability to find himself in the city of brotherly love.

From both sides this trade makes sense, but the obvious benefiter is Los Angeles. Last off season the Kings lost the services of Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards. Both were dependable presences down the middle of the ice. Consequently out of the gate this year the Kings struggled to keep up with their opponents in the faceoff dot. Lecavalier has seen better days and admitted this is his last season, which better explains the abrupt deal. However Vinny fits much smoother into the Kings game plan than he ever did in Philadelphia. Similar to Weal perhaps the bright lights of Hollywood will bring him back to his days skating alongside St. Louis in Tampa Bay.

For Schenn the hope is that he can take some of the load off Drew Doughty and do what Christian Erhoff was never able to do. That is move the puck north to south on the power play. In order to beat those pesky Blackhawks in the playoffs you’ll need guys on the backend that can skate like the Balckhawks and this deal addresses that very need. On top of all of this Philly has agreed to retain half of Lecavalier’s contract which means the Kings win in a steal, at least for right now.

Across the country in our nations capital a unique contract was handed out. Mike Richards, yup same guy I mentioned earlier, received a one year contract from the Capitals. Richards has been out of a job since being busted at the Canadian boarded for possession of “narcotics”. However Richards is still a guy who can play damn hard hockey. Instrumental to the Kings runs at the cup, the Capitals hope he can harness some of that old magic as they attempt to manufacture a run of their own.

When the Blue Jackets started their season winless through the bulk of the month of October they stunned a lot of fans by signing John Tortorella as their new head coach. Immediately Torts and Blue Jacket star Ryan Johansen bashed egos. Tortorella critiqued Johansen’s inability to come into the season “in shape” bashing his young center in press conferences and post game interviews.

Often times you would find Johansen sitting on the bench during the games tightest moments, something he isn’t used to. Although Johansen never truly retaliated you could tell the two were anything but a match made in heaven.

The straw that broke the camels back was in the Jackets loss to the Minnesota wild. In the dying moments of the game down by a goal Johansen was sent out to take a faceoff against Mikael Granlund. Instead of making a total effort to win the draw, Johansen instead decided to attempt a poke check to get around Granlund. It failed, and resulted in an empty net goal for the Wild.

Following day, Johansen was traded to Nashville for up and coming defensemen Seth Jones.

Both Jones and Johansen were former fourth overall picks in their draft years. Jones (13) and Johansen (10).

Columbus needed a reliable mainstay on the backend and Nashville desperately needed a number one center. However, Nashville is the winner and I’ll tell you why.

For starters they have been battling for a playoff position all season long, Columbus is fighting for the number one pick in the draft.

Acquiring a center who can score highlight reel goals isn’t a bad addition. Johansen takes significant pressure off guys like Mike Fisher and Mike Ribero who were carrying a large load of work in the latter half of their careers. Also it gives head coach Peter Laviolette wiggle room if need be to spread out his offense.

Jones is a hell of a young puck moving shifty defender and the depth on the blueline that Nashville possessed played directly into this deal. Immediately Jones will fix a lot of the Jacket’s problems. Many of which don’t show up on the score sheet.

What both teams will be happy about is that they get players with minor playoff experience. Which is invaluable for a team looking to rebuild or remain a contender.

Yesterday was an anomaly for the NHL. Usually for this type of excitement you have to wait for the trade deadline but the stars seemed to align perfectly for a select few. Don’t get use to it hockey fans, I don’t expect this type of momentum to continue.

See you again at the deadline.

Eyeing Hockey’s Ultimate Prize

Jarome Iginla (12) of the Colorado Avalanche waits for the puck drop during the 1st period at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on January 4, 2016.
Iginla is chasing more than just personal records.

 

At 38, there isn’t a whole lot Jarome Iginla hasn’t accomplished in his illustrious career. Gold medals, twice was the leagues highest goal scorer, and as of last night 600 goals since entering the league in the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.

Dallas selected Iginla 11th overall at the 1995 NHL entry draft. However, a trade with Calgary saw Iginla switch places with Joe Nieuwendyk. Immediately the trade paid dividends for both squads. Nieuwendyk helped Dallas reach two Stanley Cup Finals and Iginla in his third season led the Flames in goals at 28.

The biggest loss of Iginlas career came on June 7th 2004 while captaining his Flames. That of course was the game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Finals at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightening. Hockey’s ultimate prize eluded him.

In 2012-13 he was in the final year of his contract, the Flames weren’t in a playoff position and it was widely speculated he would be traded in the hopes of finally hurdling that last obstacle.

In one of the wackiest outcomes in trade deadline history Iginla was heading for Pittsburg. In the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins, the Penguins were swept by the Bruins four games to zero. Iginla left Pittsburg’s locker room feeling befuddled but confident he could still reach the promise land.

Free agency was kind for Iggy as he signed an incentive loaded deal with Boston. His efforts helped him score 30 goals and saw the Bruins win the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best team. Despite his best efforts the Bruins lost in the second round to the Montreal Canadians in seven games.

Again Iginla was able to chose where he would take his talents. He chose the Colorado Avalanche and they reciprocated with a 3 year 16 million dollar contract. Failing to make the post season his maiden year in Colorado, Iginla was still able to score 29 goals. Hopeful for a quick turn around the following season

Nestled deep in a deadly Central Division the Avalanche have put up pedestrian numbers thus far. Holding on for dear life as the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Which means a date with the NHLs best Dallas Stars, hardly a victory of sorts.

Last night Iginla patrolled the half wall and sent a back door pass that was deflected off a King defensemen and found its way to the back of the net. Not nearly as he probably envisioned it happening, but that was number 600 for Iginla in his career. The expression on his face was a mix of pure joy and a bit of astonishment.

It was hard not to get a little choked up watching it. For those who know Iggy he’s enjoyed a spotless career, well respected in all cities and any GM in the league would love to have him on their roster.

However the hardest critic to prove wrong is Father Time, and he’s creeping up on Iginla. One thing that should motivate the AVs is that at 38 Iginla is running out of time to accomplish his life long mission.

With the new playoff format they have to play within their division until the conference finals. That means they need to play all Central Division opponents which is basically a death sentence. Colorado to me is streaky, but too inexperienced to make the run they need to win it all. Self motivation within the locker room could elevate them higher than I predict but even then its a snow balls chance.

I love you Iggy and congratulations on becoming 19th all time in goals scored. I want to see you win it all, I just don’t believe it will happen in your current position.