EIHL Weekend in Review: Sheffield Steelers and More

The Steelers were in for a mixed weekend in the EIHL, traveling up to Braehead for a Friday night league challenge, and then having a Saturday off and back to the arena on Sunday to take on the Belfast Giants.

Braehead Clan vs Sheffield Steelers 08.12.17
Friday saw the Steelers take two points from Glasgow, with Toby Craig having a decent game refereeing and despite the traveling team being down a forward and defenseman in Kieran Brown and Zack Fitzgerald, both through injury, while the Clan were just down on Ryan Potulny.

eihlA 4-1 scoreline was a brilliant result, goals coming from four different goal scorers in Matheson, who is just on fire lately, O’Connor, Marquardt, and Westerling. It was good for the Steelers to have four different men on the scoresheet.

The lone goal for the Clan came from Tyler Scofield, which tied the game at one until the Steelers took over the next 40 minutes.

Lots of penalties came throughout the night, however, it didn’t stop either side from playing to their full potentials and making the respective netminders work.

Match Statistics:

Man of the Matches~
Clan: Ryan Nie
Steelers: Mark Matheson

Tyler Scofield 1+0, Tyler Shattock

Matt Marquardt 1+0, Mark Matheson 1+0, Ben O’Connor 1+0, Mathieu Roy 1+0, Scott Aarssen, 0+1, Miika Franssila 0+1, Jonathon Phillips 0+2, Andreas Valdix 0+1, Jonas Westerling 0+1

Sheffield Steelers vs Belfast Giants 10.12.17

On a Sunday night at the Sheffield Arena, the Steelers fell to a 3-2 loss to the Belfast Giants. With Tom Darnell in charge, and it should’ve been a strong content of refereeing. The Steelers were down yet another two men in addition to the two who were missing on Friday night. Liam Kirk and Cole Shudra were off on a Great Britain expedition.

Belfast was without Spiro Goulakos through a suspension, which was a convenience for the Steelers as they had no big enforcers out there.

With a 1-1 first period, neither team had a chance to get back in it, Shields the scorer for the Giants and Fretter for the Steelers. It was going to be a Giant task for the Steelers to get past Whistle however they managed to do it one more time. The only goal of the second period came from Brendan Connolly, putting the Giants 2-1 up inside 40 minutes.

Penalties were flying in left, right and center, Belfast scored again to make it 3-1, Darcy Murphy the one credited with the goal. Sheffield did manage to bring it within one before the end of the game, Dowd and Nelson’s hard work paying off once more, Dowdy shooting blocker side from an impossible angle, sending it rocketing past Whistle to give the final score of 3-2 on a Sunday night, giving the Steelers a 2 point weekend.

Match Statistics:

Man of the Matches:
Giants~ Jackson Whistle
Steelers~ Fretter

Robert Dowd 1+0, Colton Fretter 1+0, Scott Aarssen 0+1, Mark Matheson 0+1

Brendan Connolly 1+0, Darcy Murphy 1+0, Sebastian Sylvestre 0+2, Colin Shields 1+0, Blair Riley 0+1, David Rutherford 0+1, Jim Vandermeer 0+1

The Steelers are to move onward and upward to a Challenge Cup Road game in Dundee on Wednesday, followed by a road trip to Cardiff on Saturday and then a home game against the Flyers from Fife on Sunday night.

Sheffield Steelers

Sheffield Steelers vs Milton-Keynes Lightning 03.12.17

After a tough 4-1 loss in Nottingham on Saturday night, the Sheffield Steelers were to take on the Milton-Keynes Lightning, who currently stand with 3 points against Sheffield’s 2 in the series so far, after losing in overtime 5-4 at Ice Sheffield, and then smashing the Steelers 7-2 in Milton-Keynes last weekend. It was going to be another tough one for the Steelers, but didn’t they half make Milton-Keynes look average!

With the Steelers lineup remaining the same as Saturday night, the Steelers were still down an import, and Ramsay was the one missing despite warming up. Mike Hicks was in charge once more, in pretty good favor of the Steelers, with Danny Beresford and Paul Staniforth on the lines.

The loudest cheer of the night had to be as Rönnberg returned yet again for the ‘final’ time, round number 3. It must have equaled the cheer for Levi Nelson, and that is a pretty loud cheer if you ask me, especially being on center ice!

For the second night in a row, the Jamtin, Wallace, Fretter line started, causing mayhem for Mikka Wiikman and the Lightning. (Now it feels weird to not be saying Panthers!) Early pressure from either side came, especially a couple of chances for apprentice Liam Kirk.

The first penalty of the night wasn’t until 6:44 when Francis Verreault-Paul was called for holding. Another penalty came for the Lightning not long after, where the first gorgeous goal of the night came.

At 9:01, a stunning long shot came from John Armstrong, which I initially thought was tipped in from someone closer to the net, however, John absolutely roofed it, putting life into the Steelers fans and players.

Armstrong was by far my player of the period, constantly trying to put the puck to twine and overall being a hindrance for the Milton-Keynes defense.

Penalty minutes came flying in for the Lightning in the last 5 minutes, Karlsson taking two for slashing, Nickerson for hooking and a two-minute misconduct, however, the period ended with the Steelers only 1-0 up like last night.

Sheffield started with 1 minute and 14 seconds of powerplay time, and just off that, the Steelers doubled their lead, Fretter scoring, with Wallace and O’Connor taking the assists. Also one of the last penalties of the night, Davey Phillips taking four minutes combined of holding and cross-checking.

On a one-man breakaway, on the penalty kill, Kyle Esserey managed to score the only Lightning goal of the game, bringing them within one for a short amount of time. None the less, the Steelers powered on and made it 3-1 with 41 seconds to go, Matheson with a gorgeous shot, Wiikman having no clue the puck was coming.

The third and final frame wasn’t really underway until the bash brothers were at work once more, a gorgeous drop-pass from Nelson to Dowd, who slipped it right through the 5-hole, and by Rob’s celebration, you could tell the goal meant a lotS

This saw an MKL timeout and a change of goaltender to Jordan Hedley. Another goal came for the Steelers after Kearney was penalized for charging on Roy which left him absolutely furious. However, Roysy got his own back scoring his first of two in the night, putting the Steelers 5-1 in front.

Liam Kirk was another stand-out during the game. He was unlucky to not score on a wraparound attempt, but a goal will come eventually for the kid.

The final goal of the game came on yet another power play, giving Mathieu Roy his second of the night, with 3:23 to go. It ended the game at 6-1 to the Steelers, a much more convincing scoreline for the fans and an all-around performance.

Next week, the Steelers will travel to Braehead for yet another Friday night game, and they are back home Sunday to face the Belfast Giants, both in EIHL action. It shouldn’t be a difficult road game, but the home will be a challenge with Goulakos’ penalty minutes on the rise and Sheffield’s enforces on the decrease.

Match Statistics:

Man of the Match~

Milton-Keynes Lightning: Kyle Essery

Sheffield Steelers: Joonas Rönnberg


Sheffield Steelers: Mathieu Roy 1+3, Colton Fretter 1+2, Robert Dowd 1+1, John Armstrong 1+0, Mark Matheson 1+0, Ben O’Connor 0+2, Tim Wallace 0+2, David Phillips 0+1, Jonas Westerling 0+1

Milton-Keynes Lightning: Essery 1+0, Isackson 0+1, Pompi 0+1

Trade Block: Alex Galchenyuk

If you need an example of how to not treat a first round pick then look no further than the Montreal Canadiens. Alex Galchenyuk has been moved all over the lineup from first to the third line, from center to wing, and back again. It finally appears the all-star forward has landed on the trade block.

alex galchenyuk

Clearly Galchenyuk has all the talent in the world, however, at the first sign of a rough stretch, he is moved down the lineup, playing with different players, or even moved to a different position. Montreal is off to a very rough start to this season and is currently out of a playoff spot which is never a good place to be after both the Canadian and American Thanksgivings. Realistically Montreal has struggled in all facets of their game; spotty goaltending, a lack of talent and depth on defense, and sporadic goal scoring have all been headlines this season. While fans and the media are raving as to who is to blame or what the fix is most all speak of gloom and doom for the winningest franchise in NHL history. As management, coaching staff, and player search for answers we may see the end of the ‘Chucky’ era in Montreal.

This is Galchenyuk’s first season in his three-year deal which carries a cap hit of $4.9 million and can limit his potential destinations. However at only 23 the immensely talented forward can already plug into a number one center role for more than half the teams in the league and is only going to grow as a deadly goal-scoring presence. The future of this franchise hangs in the balance as GM Marc Bergevin needs to gauge if Coach Claude Julien can turn things around with what he has, if it is time to embrace the idea of a rebuild, or if they are only one piece away from becoming cup contenders yet again.

If Montreal wants to win with what they have now it is time to clearly define Galchenyuk’s role. While moving lines around is part of the NHL coaching staff and management have taken this too far and it is time to let him settle in a role and only move things around if they continue to be dire. Montreal seems to be righting the ship to an extent as the season progresses; we are finally seeing a healthy Carey Price play to the level he has been capable of and the scoring has begun to turn it itself around, however, a lack of team defense will continue to handcuff this team for the remainder of this season and for the immediate future which is why it may be time to embrace a rebuild.

There is no reason why Galchenyuk couldn’t be a cornerstone for a rebuilding franchise however with one of the highest trade values on the team number 27 would most likely be one of the first player moved. While there are not too many teams that are one top end forward away from being a contender and have $4.9 million in cap space there are plenty of teams who appear to be coming to the end of a rebuild. The Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, and possibly the Buffalo Sabres, are all teams in the realm. The Sabres are a little more interesting as their rebuild seems to have stalled right as it was getting going but the injection of a talent such as Galchenyuk might be just what they need. These teams may gamble in throwing away future assets begin focusing on winning right now. Other teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers or the San Jose Sharks are showing signs that a rebuild is imminent and would need to shed some salary but Galchenyuk can be a cornerstone for both their futures. Both these teams have talented defensemen that could be the one or two pieces Montreal needs.

It is never easy to see an unbelievably talented player depart a franchise but Bergevin, if he can keep his job, has a lot of tough decisions to make and as the rumors continue to swirl Galchenyuk could be on his way out the door.

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.