Every year around this time, hockey poolies convene in annual drafts to select their players who will earn them bragging rights for hockey pool supremacy. Also during this time, hockey fans and so called hockey experts throw their two cents in and make their pre-season NHL predictions. Well the new NHL season is days away from starting. The Hockey Fanatic again joins the mass array of hockey fans predicting the best of the best and who will be the also rans of the next NHL season. Here’s our educated guess as to who will finish at the top of each division, and ultimately who will win the Stanley Cup.
First off, the Hockey Fanatic feels that we will again see dominance in the West and unlike previous seasons, we expect some unexpected falls from grace with a couple NHL teams who have dominated in recent years. Here is our predictions for how each of the NHL divisions will finish.
Pittsburgh needs goaltending, they could be one of the teams that begins their fall from grace although a healthy Sidney Crosby may say otherwise. We expect the Washington Capitals to perform much better under new head coach Barry Trotz. Has Ovie checked out? Columbus and Philly are two teams that cold fluctuate the most. The Islanders could have a nice season with a healthy John Tavares and a good start to the season.
We think that this is the year that Detroit misses the post season in like forever. Many are liking how Tampa Bay looks, but it remains to be seen how Stamkos will perform without Marty St. Louis by his side for a full season. This could be the year that Montreal brings a Cup back to Canada. This will be the year of Carey Price and PK Subban. Toronto will be better but we think Randy Carlyle will be fired by December. Ottawa will play tough but just doesn’t have all of the pieces they need to contend with the big boys. Boston is just a hardworking team that may surprise some by offering up Zdeno Chara as trade bait at some point in the next couple of seasons. Florida should be better but won’t, even Booby Lu won;t help them win enough games to get into the post season.
The Blackhawks are awesome. If they stay injury free they will have a tremendous season and we’ll be hearing a lot of Cheslea Dagger. Could this finally be the year of the St. Louis Blues? They have a lot of the key components of being a contender. For our money the team that made the greatest improvements in the off season were the Dallas Stars. We think that Jamie Benn is still underrated. Dallas could be a dark horse come playoff time. On paper the Avs look stacked, however we think that their goaltending will be less than stellar this season. Jarome Iginla is a nice addition but he played on a good Bruins team last season, hard to say how much he’ll help the Avs this season. Minnesota will be tough to play against but goaltending could be an issue. The poor Jets will be a hardworking bunch but they simply lack the superstar player and top notch goalie top get them to the post season. The Preds will not score a lot of goals and with Barry Trotz gone may be in a transition year.
Man the Canadian teams are in tough in this Division. The Anaheim Ducks are going to be a tough team to beat this season as are the defending champions the Los Angeles Kings, but when you are the Stanley Cup champs everyone is gunning for you every night. This is a do or die year for the San Jose Sharks, not only do they have to get into the playoffs but they have to win at least two rounds. They were our pick to win it all last year but their colossal collapse to the Kings in round one last spring put an end to that. Do they have something to prove or will they dismantle by mid-season? Will Joe Thornton be a Ranger by the trade deadline? Vancouver could finish as worse as sixth if they get off to a slow start. How will Ryan Miller perform in the fishbowl? He’s not Roberto Luongo. What has Miller won in his pro career? A couple of silver medals? Will it be enough. No Kesler means less grit. You have to think that the Sedins will have a better year but they will again need to be point per game players if the Canucks are to make the playoffs, which we are predicting they won’t. We are a long-time fans of the Edmonton Oilers but the management team in that town is terrible. The Oilers have better goaltending and have gotten a little bigger, but they have a porous defense and lack a bonafide #2 centerman. This could be another long season. They should be a little better and at least shouldn’t be out of the playoff picture five weeks into the season, but it will take a minor miracle for these boys to make the playoffs this season. In fact I am so superstitious that this is the first time in 8 seasons that I am not getting the Center Ice package to watch all of the Oiler games. I can’t stand to watch a team lose so much. The Flames are on the downswing and although they are a hard working bunch they will have little fizzle this season. Could be in the running for the Connor McDavid sweepstakes come June.
As for Stanley Cup predictions. Our final four picks are: From the East: Tampa Bay and Montreal, From the West: Chicago and Los Angeles. Out pick for the Stanley Cup winner: Chicago Blackhawks.
Enjoy the season hockey fans.
With training camps set to open later this week and with rookie camps under way, we thought that we would evaluate some of the players to watch this upcoming NHL season. Being based in the West we get a little tired of hearing about the Eastern based teams all of the time so our list may be a little biased towards players based on Western teams. Quite honestly the West has provided the greatest entertainment value in recent years with multiple Stanley Cup championships for both the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks.
There is some great young talent in the game. Here is a look at some of the players to watch in the 2014-2015 NHL season. For all of you hockey poolies out there, these are the players you might want to take a risk on if they are available in your hockey pool.
There you have it, a look at 20 players to key an eye on this NHL season. Of course we expect to see some surprises, and we hope we see some positive things happen for the Canadian NHL teams. At the start of the season all 30 teams are in first place, then again all 30 teams are also tied for last place. In a couple more weeks the season will begin and the quest will begin anew for Lord Stanley’s Cup
As always the July 1st date is becoming a date that hockey fans a re circling on their calendars. It marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period where there tends to be a lot of activity with teams. Here is a look at the activity the past month.
So far the free agent that has cashed in the most is Steve Ott who signed with the St. Louis Blues for two years for a total of $5.2 million. There are still a handful of free agents out there who are available but with the tight cap space for some team, GMs and owners are going to have to get creative when dropping salary.
|Jul 19||Stempniak, Lee||RW||Pittsburgh||NY Rangers||$900K||1||$900K|
|Jul 17||Curry, John||G||Minnesota||Minnesota||n/a||1||n/a|
|Jul 16||Ferriero, Benn||RW||Vancouver||St. Louis||$600K||1||$600K|
|Jul 16||Butler, Chris||D||Calgary||St. Louis||$650K||1||$650K|
|Jul 15||Roy, Derek||C||St. Louis||Nashville||$1M||1||$1M|
|Jul 15||Ribeiro, Mike||C||Phoenix||Nashville||$1.005M||1||$1.005M|
|Jul 11||Moss, David||RW||Phoenix||Phoenix||$800K||1||$800K|
|Jul 11||Morrow, Brenden||LW||St. Louis||Tampa Bay||$1.55M||1||$1.55M|
|Jul 10||Smith, Trevor||C||Toronto||Toronto||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 10||Hannan, Scott||D||San Jose||San Jose||$1M||1||$1M|
|Jul 10||Lerg, Bryan||LW||Colorado||San Jose||$575K||1||$575K|
|Jul 10||Haley, Micheal||C||NY Rangers||San Jose||$600K||1||$600K|
|Jul 10||Cleary, Dan||LW||Detroit||Detroit||$1.5M||1||$1.5M|
|Jul 10||Ott, Steve||C||St. Louis||St. Louis||$5.2M||2||$2.6M|
|Jul 9||Heatley, Dany||LW||Minnesota||Anaheim||$1M||1||$1M|
|Jul 8||Grant, Alex||D||Ottawa||Ottawa||$700K||1||$700K|
|Jul 8||Corrente, Matt||D||Carolina||Tampa Bay||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 7||Volchenkov, Anton||D||New Jersey||Nashville||$1M||1||$1M|
|Jul 5||Cannone, Pat||C||St. Louis||St. Louis||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 5||Sutter, Brett||LW||Carolina||Minnesota||$1.2M||2||$600K|
|Jul 5||Piskula, Joe||D||Nashville||Nashville||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 5||McNeill, Patrick||D||Columbus||Phoenix||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 4||Bodie, Troy||LW||Toronto||Toronto||$600K||1||$600K|
|Jul 4||Legwand, David||C||Detroit||Ottawa||$6M||2||$3M|
|Jul 4||VandeVelde, Chris||C||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||$575K||1||$575K|
|Jul 4||McCarthy, John||LW||San Jose||St. Louis||$600K||1||$600K|
|Jul 4||Newbury, Kris||C||Philadelphia||Washington||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 4||Kennedy, Tim||LW||Phoenix||Washington||$550K||1||$550K|
|Jul 4||Holmstrom, Ben||C||Philadelphia||Carolina||$600K||1||$600K|
|Jul 3||Tarnasky, Nick||C||Montreal||NY Rangers||$1.15M||2||$575K|
The Florida Panthers select…. from the Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad. Are we going to hear these words in a few hours as the NHL draft gets under way in Philadelphia? Lost of buzz around the draft and rumors persist that Ryan Kesler has just been traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks, so hockey fans, GMs, coaches, players and teenagers waiting to be drafted are all anxious.
As it stands right now, the first round draft order looks like this:
|5||New York Islanders||-||-||-|
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs||-||-||-|
|15||Detroit Red Wings||-||-||-|
|16||Columbus Blue Jackets||-||-||-|
|19||Tampa Bay Lightning||-||-||-|
|20||San Jose Sharks||-||-||-|
|21||St. Louis Blues||-||-||-|
|28||Tampa Bay Lightning***||-||-||-|
|29||Los Angeles Kings||-||-||-|
|30||New Jersey Devils+||-||-||-|
However anything can happen on draft day and during the draft weekend. Remember last year when the Canucks dealt Cory Schneider in a surprise move to the New Jersey devils? Last year’s NHL draft featured some surprise moves. This year we can expect to see some as well. Many suggest that this is no a super strong draft year yet there is a lot of discussion about team trading up into the top three to get centerman or perhaps the hulking lone defenseman expected to go in the top 5 in Eklbad.
Here is a look at potential predictions for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Of course trades could be made, players could fall as did Seth Jones last year, but here is a look at where some of the top draft picks may end up tonight.
|PICK||NHL TEAM||PLAYER||POSITION||2013-14 TEAM|
|1||FLA||Aaron Ekblad||D||Barrie (OHL)|
|2||BUF||Sam Bennett||C||Kingston (OHL)|
|3||EDM||Leon Draisaitl||C||Prince Albert (WHL)|
|4||CGY||Sam Reinhart||C||Kootenay (OHL)|
|5||NYI||Michael Dal Colle||LW||Oshawa (OHL)|
|6||VAN||Jake Virtanen||RW||Calgary (WHL)|
|7||CAR||Haydn Fleury||D||Red Deer (WHL)|
|8||TOR||Nick Ritchie||LW||Peterborough (OHL)|
|9||WPG||Nikolaj Ehlers||LW||Halifax (QMJHL)|
|10||ANA*||Kasperi Kapanen||LW/RW||KalPa (FIN)|
|11||NAS||William Nylander||LW||Modo (SWE)|
|12||ARZ||Brendan Perlini||LW||Niagara (OHL)|
|13||WAS||Julius Honka||D||Swift Current (WHL)|
|15||DET||Jared McCann||C||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)|
|17||PHI||Anthony DeAngelo||D||Sarnia (OHL)|
|18||MIN||Robert Fabbri||C||Guelph (OHL)|
|19||TB||Travis Sanheim||D||Calgary (WHL)|
|20||SJ||Kevin Fiala||RW||HV71 (SWE)|
|21||STL||Ryan MacInnis||C||Kitchener (OHL)|
|23||COL||Adrian Kempe||LW||Modo (SWE)|
|24||ANA||Jakub Vrana||RW||Linkoping (SWE)|
|25||BOS||Nick Schmaltz||C||Green Bay (USHL)|
|26||MTL||Ivan Barbashev||C/LW||Moncton (QMJHL)|
|27||CHI||Marcus Pettersson||D||Skelleftea (SWE)|
|28||TB||Nikita Scherbak||LW||Saskatoon (WHL)|
|29||LA||Roland McKeown||D||Kingston (OHL)|
|30||NJ||Brendan Lemieux||LW||Barrie (OHL)|
There has been a lot of discussion as to whether Hockey Night in Canada’s Bob Cole will be calling his last game this Spring in the NHL Playoffs. Since 1952, Bob Cole who was born in 1933 in St. John’s, Newfoundland as Robert Cole has been a part of Hockey Night in Canada. Bob Cole is a play-by-play legend.
This past December, in what we feel is a terrible move for hockey fans in Canada, Rogers acquired the television rights for NHL hockey in Canada with a $5.7 billion dollar deal which will mark the end of the NHL on TSN as we know and marks the end Hockey Night in Canada (what is CBC thinking anyway?). Yes HNIC will be on for four more years but Rogers has complete control over the programming and the advertising revenues. When the deal was announced, Bob Cole was left wondering what the future would hold. Even at this stage, details have been sketchy.
I’m a little young to remember the great Danny Gallivan and I grew up with the as great Jim Robson calling a lot of the great Oilers games of the early to mid-eighties. Hockey Night in Canada has had the best of the best when it comes to announcing NHL hockey games. Bob Cole is another of the greats from HNIC. Bob Cole’s voice is a masterpiece as this article from the star.com illustrates. When it comes to the smooth skating game of hockey there is no bigger master of the mic than Mr. Cole.
Here is a look at his best over the years at Hockey Night in Canada
Calls in Chronological Order:
Gretzky Breakaway goal vs NYI 1984
Mario Lemieux vs. North Starts “Oh Baby!” 1991
Russ Courtnall Game 7 OT winner Montreal vs. Hartford 1992
Doug Gilmour behind the net goal vs. St. Louis 1993
Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Final vs. LA Kings 1993
Steve Yzerman vs St. Louis 1996
Oilers shock Starts – Cujo and Marchant 1997
Steve Thomas vs. Senators 2000
Joe Sakic Golden Goal 2002 (Audio Only)
Fernando Pisani Short Handed OT Goal vs. Carolina 2006
Awesome stuff! Here is a little more of Bob’s great calls. All videos courtesy of YouTube.
And who can forget this?
Bob Cole: “They’re Going Home!” The Soviet Red Army leaves the bench after the Flyers’ Ed Van Impe hits a Russian player in the first period.
A broadcasting legend all the way. He Scores!!!! Tonights’ three stars as chosen by hockey fans everywhere:
Tonight’s first star from St. John’s: Bob Cole.
Tonight’s second star: Bob Cole
and tonight’s third star from announcing all of those great Leafs games: Bob Cole.