Trade Block: John Tavares

The New York Islanders had one of the most intriguing offseasons in the NHL and a lot of those pieces are leading to a John Tavares departure. The top-flight center has openly admitted to being disgruntled with the current state of the team and unless things change will no longer be a part of their future.

john tavares

The Islanders will be homeless at the end of 2019 as the owner of the Barclays center is reportedly exercising an opt-out clause in the original 25-year contract. The clause needs to be activated by Jan 31, 2018, and, if activated, the team would be forced to relocate at next seasons end. The new ownership group has reportedly been interested in a new arena near Citi Field or Belmont Park. However, a team that is notorious for struggling to turn a profit and struggling to secure public funding could possibly be looking towards a move to Quebec City.

None of this has sat well with the all-star center. He has done his best to quiet these talks, and his play has proven that this will not be an on-ice distraction but his feelings were well documented this off-season. GM Garth Snow has been working towards an extension as the season progresses, and Tavares has shown interest to stay, but it will be tough to convince number 91 to sign if they don’t have a rink to call home. While it would appear a free agent departure is the most likely outcome for this situation there is no reason to believe that if extension talks have come to a standstill Snow will not take an offer to recoup some of those draft picks they sent over to Vegas or a few top prospects.

Tavares’ current contract is extremely team-friendly with a current cap hit of only $5.5 million so much so even the Blackhawks could afford to bring him on. While he is expected to command around $12/year this offseason his current $5.5 million hit should have GMs preparing bids as we approach the trade deadline. While almost every team is reportedly interested in him this offseason teams GMs will have to gauge the risk vs reward of winning immediately and trading for negotiation rights. A center of Tavares’ caliber could command a king’s ransom in a trade situation, although he will most likely be departing at seasons end a blockbuster deal on deadline day is not out of the question.

adam henrique

Trade Block: Adam Henrique

The New Jersey Devils are off to the best start in franchise history. However, they are still very much in the middle of a rebuild and have some bodies that may be moved. Unfortunately for Devils fans one of the top names that could appear on the trade block is Adam Henrique.

adam henriqueThe 27-year-old center has rebounded after a very rough year and has impressed around the league with his ability to put up points and a rejuvenated defensive game. He will be an unrestricted free agent for the 2019-20 season making him 29 when he hits the market. At that age, he will most likely be looking for one more long-term deal, probably around 5 years, and of course market value for his play. Multiple things are working against the Devils resigning him during this time; they are going to have multiple young players to lock up, their system has a logjam of potential NHL centers, some of whom can play a very similar role to Henrique, and finally any money that could be allocated to bringing him back could, and should be spent on bringing in some NHL caliber defensemen. Unless he is willing to take a major hometown discount and a shorter “bridge” deal number 14 will most likely be departing the red and black of New Jersey.

Rather than lose him, dealing him when his trade value is at its highest would suit the team best. Even in the aftermath of the Matt Duchene trade, the Devils don’t need to be in any rush to make a deal now. If they truly are a playoff team that can make a good run in the playoffs then of course nobody will be moved and there may be some potential additions. A reassessment around deadline day will most likely decide the future for Henrique however if they make a playoff push a move during the offseason is a possibility as well.

One team that specifically comes to mind is the Carolina Hurricanes. A player like Henrique can take them from a bubble playoff team to a potential contender. He’s proven he can be a number one center when surrounded with talented wingers, as we saw during the 2012 playoff run with Parise and Kovalchuk, but can also be used to lengthen the scoring depth of a team as a number 2 or even 3 centers similar to his current role in New Jersey. Carolina has a plethora of young NHL defensemen which is a major need for the Devils. However, given the defensive depth of this upcoming draft, Ray Shero may be able to feast on any contending team if they lose a center and acquire an early round draft pick.

colorado avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Move Matt Duchene in Three-Way Trade

The Matt Duchene saga with the Colorado Avalanche has finally come to an end, the 26-year-old center was finally moved on Sunday as part of a big three-way trade involving the Ottawa Senators as well as the Nashville Predators.

Duchene was flipped to Ottawa for goaltender Andrew Hammond and prospect Shane Bowers. The other half of the deal seen Ottawa move Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators and in doing so the Preds sent prospects Vladislav Kamenev and Samuel Girard to Colorado as well.

Kyle Turris of the Ottawa Senators battles against Elias Lindholm of the Carolina Hurricanes during first period of NHL action at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, February 16, 2016. Photo by Jean Levac

Initially, the Avalanche wanted a top player, a top prospect, and a first overall selection in this year’s draft. With this deal, they have scored three prospects and a goaltender who can easily be a number three in the organization and number one in San Antonio.

Duchene was drafted third overall in 2009 by the Aves and played 585 games for the team scoring 178 goals as well as adding 250 assists for 428 points. It’s very likely he will go to Ottawa as the new number one center for the team.

Kyle Turris, on the other hand, won’t have as much pressure on him in Nashville as he will most likely play behind Ryan Johansen on the teams second line. Turris was selected third overall as well but in the 2007 draft by the Arizona Coyotes. But he wasn’t there long as he would soon be moved to Ottawa and in 544 career NHL games, Turris has scored 136 goals and 183 assists for 319 points.

Shane Bowers was a first-round pick this last entry draft and is a highly touted prospect that the Aves could use down the middle in the future. He already has great hockey skills as well as size. Samuel Girard is another key prospect of the deal, he’s played five games so far this year in the NHL with Nashville and in doing so put up three points.

Girard will most likely play in San Antonio for a bit before coming up to the Avalanche, the same would most likely happen with Vladislav Kamenev who already has pro experience with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL. Last season Kamenev scored 21 goals and added 30 assists for 51 points in 70 games. However, in two NHL games, Kamenev has yet to score a single point but he’ll have a ton of chances now in Colorado as the team is starting to rebuild.

Calgary Flames Sign Jaromir Jagr and Tanner Glass

The Calgary Flames have made a pair of signings the last couple of days starting with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, then finally Tanner Glass the following day. Jagr’s deal is for just a single year worth $1 million for the season. Tanner Glass on the other hand also received a one-year deal but he is worth $650 thousand.

calgary flamesGlass was drafted 265th overall in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in 2007-08 with the Florida Panthers and has played 511 career NHL games so far. In those games, Glass has managed just 24 goals and 45 assists for 69 points with 639 penalty minutes and a career minus 51 rating. Now, this isn’t surprising at all given that’s what Tanner’s role is. He’s a fourth line checking forward that will stand in front of the net for the dirty goals as well as dropping his gloves when need be.

Jagr, on the other hand, will go straight into the hall of fame when he retires, last season he captured second place in all-time scoring with 1,914 points in 1,711 games. Out of those points, he has 765 goals and 1,149 assists along with 1,157 penalty minutes and a career plus 317 rating. Jagr was originally drafted fifth overall in the first round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. And he would make his NHL debut that same year scoring 57 points in the process.

His best year offensively came in 1995-96 when he put up a total of 149 points in 82 games putting up more than an assist per game with 87. Now he may be quite old for a young man’s game but he can still contribute and will likely land somewhere between the 35-50 point range which is not bad for someone of his age. However, he could also fall extremely hard so there is still some caution.

florida panthers

Florida Panthers Sign Defenseman Ed Wittchow

The Florida Panthers have signed AHL defenseman Ed Wittchow to a one-year two-way contract worth $670 thousand. Wittchow made his pro debut last season when he was signed to an AHL one-way contract with the Springfield Thunderbirds. He played a total of 38 games for Springfield putting up two goals and two assists for four points with 58 penalty minutes and a minus-six rating.florida panthers

Ed also split the year with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL where in 14 games he put up one goal and eight assists for nine points with 17 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating. Before pro, however, Ed spent a total of four seasons in the NCAA with the University of Wisconsin appearing in a total of 123 games scoring just a single goal with 16 assists for 17 points.

The Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is also excited to have him join the organization as he had this to say.

“We are proud to have signed Ed, he earned this contract due to his impeccable character and dedication to the game. Ed has worked hard for this deal and we are excited to watch his continued progress with this new opportunity.”

It’s unlikely that Ed makes an appearance for the Panthers but having him down in the AHL for more growth and experience is great for him as a defenseman. And if things go right for the 24-year-old defenseman he could very well be re-signed at the end of the season or sometime during.

new york islanders

New York Islanders Sign Kieffer Bellows to Entry Level Deal

The New York Islanders have signed forward Kieffer Bellows to a three-year entry-level deal worth $2.775 million, the deal holds an annual average of $925 thousand per year. Bellows was a first-round pick by the Islanders selected 19th overall in 2016. He also had a very solid pre-season this year which is most likely what led to signing the young star.

new york islanders
AMHERST, MA – DECEMBER 18: Kieffer Bellows #22 of the USA National Junior Team warms up before NCAA exhibition hockey against the Massachusetts Minutemen at the Mullins Center on December 18, 2015 in Amherst, Massachusetts. USA won 4-0. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Bellows will be joining the Portland Winterhawks this year in the WHL rather than going back to the NCAA. This will be his first year in the WHL and so far he’s put up three points in just a single game. Last year Bellows played in 34 games for Boston University only scoring 14 points in the process. However, he really broke out in 2015-16 with the United States National U-18 Team in the US Development Program where he put up 50 goals and 81 points in only 62 games.

Bellows has the potential to be a top forward with the Islanders, he can dominate games due to his incredible puck handling skills and accurate shot. He’ll also take himself into the dirtier areas of the ice and win puck battles, this will help his team at the same time as he can make a nice pass from those areas to create scoring chances.

The Isles already have some solid prospects, especially Joshua Ho-Sang and if Bellows grows into the top six forward he is projected to become, those two can do some serious things for the Islanders in the future.

Bellows has also had some international success, in 2015-16 he won a U-18 World Junior Championship Bronze medal and would follow that up with a Gold medal at the U-20 World Juniors. He’s also a Clark Cup Champion in the USHL where he won Rookie of the Year awards the same season.

OHL Season Preview for 2017-18 Campaign

Welcome to our OHL Season Preview, the Ontario Hockey League or OHL, will be opening its 37th season as a league on September 21st, 2017. With all of the European leagues now underway (KHL, SHL, DEL, LIIGA, ELH, and NLA) as well as the NHL pre-season. Hockey has definitely started up for those desperately needing some puck action. But if you love the OHL the most, well they begin tomorrow!

Teams to Watch For:

Windsor will be the heavy favorites again this season, they loaded their team with offense and some solid defenseman and won themselves a Memorial Cup as the hosts of the tournament. The first time a team has done that since Shawinigan of the QMJHL in 2012. Another team that will be gunning for the top is the London Knights with the help of Cliff Pu and Victor Mete. A team that will definitely see a fall is the Erie Otters now that both Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat will be in the NHL this season. A team on the rise is definitely the Kingston Frontenacs as they have some key pieces, especially one entering his second season in Linus Nyman.

Offense:

ohlHere are some players poised to lead the league and their respective teams this year. If Nick Suzuki doesn’t stay with Vegas this season in the NHL, he could very well lead the entire league or come close with Sarnia’s Jordan Kyrou beside him in the statistics department. Cliff Pu of the London Knights will definitely be looking to increase his impressive play from last season that saw him post 86 points. Owen Sound’s Jonah Gadjovich will be entering his fourth season in the league and will most likely jump up from his 74 point campaign from a year before. Two players that will help Kingston climb back to the top 10 in the league are Linus Nyman who had a solid first year with 50 points and Jason Robertson who led the team with 81.

Defense:

If Mikhail Sergachev doesn’t stick with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year, he could very well lead the league for a defenseman in scoring with Connor Timmins of Sault Ste. Marie and Victor Mete from London close behind. Another Kingston rookie from last year who could have a better season than last is Eemeli Rasanen. Olli Juolevi will need to step up his play this year if he wants to stay with the Vancouver Canucks and be an NHL defenseman as he was scouted. Winnipeg is hoping Logan Stanley has himself a solid year after posting 17 points with Windsor last year. Nicolas Hague, Jordan Sambrook, and Keaton Middleton are other notable players that you should keep your eyes on.

Goalies:

Now goaltending is where things get sorta scarce this year in the OHL. Guys like Tyler Parson, Jeremy Brodeur, and Michael McNiven went on to pro. Goalies are more spread out now. Troy Timpano will still have a good year in Erie despite losing Strome and DeBrincat. Jeremy Helvig will continue to carry the number one job in Kingston. However, two elite goalies still remain in the league but could be gone next year. And I’m speaking of Dylan Wells and Michael DiPietro who will be looked at big time by their respective pro teams.

Other Notes:

It’s definitely going to be a different looking season with Strome and DeBrincat gone, but this also gives room for new players to take over the league as top scorers. Jordan Kyrou and Cliff Pu have the best odds of doing so with Kingston’s Jason Robertson not too far behind after an 81 point season a year ago. If Sergachev stays with Windsor somehow, they basically have the same core that won them the Memorial Cup last year. And if that’s the case, they could very well do it again this year.

What’s going to be interesting as well is how the teams who finished last and close to last will fair out this year with new players in the system. Teams like Barrie, Guelph, and North Bay. Either way it’s looking like an exciting 2017-18 season in the OHL and it all starts tomorrow.

Seattle Thunderbirds Acquire Liam Hughes for Draft Pick

The Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL have acquired netminder Liam Hughes from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. The 18-year-old Hughes will be playing his second season in the WHL this year.

seattle thunderbirds
Edmonton’s Liam Hughes shuts the door on Vancouver’s Ty Ronning during the Edmonton Oil Kings’ WHL hockey game against the Vancouver Giants at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. (Codie McLachlan/Postmedia)

Last season Hughes played only seven games for the Oil Kings and in doing so posted a record of 1-4-0 with a .895 save percentage and a 3.26 goals-against-average. Liam just missed the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by one month since he was born in July. So he will be eligible next year. And if he has a strong season with the Thunderbirds he could very well be a surprise pick in the middle of the draft or somewhere near the top due to the fact he has tremendous size at 6’1” and 190 pounds.

Hughes has played two games so far in the pre-season this year and has put up a 0-1-0-0 record with a 4.19 goals-against-average with a .889 save percentage. The Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell is also excited to have him join the club.

“We are happy to add Liam to our team, he had a good start in the league last year before being injured. He will be a solid addition at a very key position.”

Before joining the WHL, Hughes played 33 games in the OMAHA for the Pursuit of Excellence program. While he put up a goals-against-average of just 3.20 but his save percentage was amazing at .949. The following year he would play 12 games for the Yale Hockey Academy Prep in the CSSHL, the rest of the season he would spend with the Kamloops Storm in the KIJHL.

In 2015-16 season Hughes moved onto the BCMML for the Okanagan Rockets, but after 10 games he was off to the KIJHL once more for the Kamloops Storm. Liam’s second year in the WHL this season will definitely be a good one for him and his progression in hockey.

Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes Swap 29-Year-Olds

The Arizona Coyotes and the Florida Panthers gave us all a good old fashioned hockey trade when Arizona sent winger Jamie McGinn to the Panthers for defenseman Jason Demers.florida panthers

The 29-year-old Demers was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft 186th overall, he’ll easily step into Arizona and play a top five role with the club. He’s been a consistent 20+ point producer his NHL career that has is now going on its ninth year. And so far throughout 504 career NHL games, Demers has put up 37 goals and 134 assists for 171 points as well as 307 penalty minutes with a plus 25 rating. Demers holds a cap hit of $4.5 million for the next three seasons.

Another 29-year-old, Jamie McGinn was drafted in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft 36th overall in the second round by the San Jose Sharks, just like Jason Demers was. McGinn will most likely play anywhere from the second to fourth line with the second being the most possible. He still has some solid point producing left in him. McGinn will be entering his 10th year in the NHL and so far throughout 522 career games, he has put up 100 goals and 84 assists for 184 points with 228 penalty minutes and a minus 73 rating. McGinn will be giving the Panthers a cap hit of $3,333,333 million for this season and the next.

Arizona Defensive Depth Chart:

Oliver Ekman-LarssonNiklas Hjalmarsson
Alex GoligoskiJakob Chychrun
Jason Demers – Luke Schenn
Kevin ConnautonAdam Clendening

Florida Forward Depth Chart:

Jonathan HuberdeauAleksander Barkov – Evgeny Dadonov
Jared McCannVincent TrocheckRadim Vrbata
Denis MalginNick Bjugstad – Jamie McGinn
Micheal HaleyDerek MacKenzieColton Sceviour

So as you can see this is a deal that definitely helps both teams, the Coyotes get themselves another puck moving defenseman who will put up 20+ points. And the Panthers get themselves a bottom nine winger who will also score 20+ points, and the cap hits aren’t too far apart either which is a bonus.