Hawks sign RW Panarin to extension, will still face cap issues

     Something that really makes the NHL different from most professional sports leagues is its salary cap. It prevents teams that have a lot of money (which they all have) from signing a lot of superstars when free agency time rolls around. The way it works is that a team can not have a combined cap hit of all the signed players on their team over the cap, which is usually around $78 mil. Other sports, say the MLB, don\’t have a salary cap, leading to overpowering teams consistently. Today, I\’ll talk about one team in the NHL, and how the cap has affected them.
     In the 2010s decade, the Chicago Blackhawks have won 3 Stanley Cups, (2010, 2013, 2015) a dynasty. But more often than not, the Cup winner will be pushed up against the cap, leading to problems. This applies tremendously for the Hawks, who were forced to trade stars Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp after their cup win in 2015. A younger star in Teuvo Teravainen was also forced to be dealt after the 2016 season. But you do need to keep some stars, right? The Hawks needed to sign last year\’s calder trophy winner (best rookie) Artemi Panarin at the end of the season with Panarin becoming a RFA at the end of the season. The Hawks wanted to get that done during the regular season, and got Panarin on a 2 year, $12 mil extension. But, it could lead to even more trades. Here\’s why:
       The 2 highest paid players in the entire NHL are both on the Hawks (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews), with a cap hit of $10.5 mil. Other forwards with a high cap hit would be LW Marian Hossa (owed $5.275 mil), C Artem Anisimov ($4.55) and C Marcus Kruger (3.08 mil). Same goes for defense with Brent Seabrook ($6.87 mil), Duncan Keith ($5.53 mil), Niklas Hjalmarsson ($4.1 mil) and Brian Campbell ($2.25 mil) having big cap hits, plus a little more with Michal Kempny\’s cap hit of $1.1 mil. Goalie Corey Crawford\’s cap hit is $6 mil, just to add on some more cap hit. Also, the team has 2 former hawk defenseman in Rob Scuderi and David Rundblad\’s cap hit of about $1.1 mil apiece. You can see how they have some big cap hits nagging them for now.
          With the new Vegas Golden Knights team to play next season, Vegas needs a roster. So, each team will lose a player in the expansion draft to Vegas. Each team will get to protect 7 forwards, 3 defenseman and 1 goalie (they can also do 4 forwards and 4 defenseman) so they don\’t fall to Vegas. A couple of players I already mentioned who might be left unprotected would be Kruger, Campbell and/
or Kempny. Campbell\’s 37 years old, so he\’s out. For some reason, signs aren\’t pointing towards Vegas taking the 25 year old Kempny, and they probably don\’t want to take the a little too expensive Kruger, with a lot of forwards who\’d be left available by other teams. So, it looks like Vegas will actually take the 24 year old Trevor van Riemsdyk, who has a cheap cap hit of $825K.
        So, we\’ll see if the Hawks do elect to move someone, particularly at the trade deadline, and who Vegas actually takes. Then, will the Hawks be able to win another cup?    

Jackets, Wild surge to double digit win streaks

     In sports, teams are always looking to go on a win streak. Eventually, a team in any sports league will break out on a streak, some good, some bad. For example, last year in the NHL, the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks tied for the longest win streak, with each team winning 12 straight, at different parts of the season. Currently in the NHL, 2 others teams have been hot lately, setting franchise records. Let\’s get into the details.
      First, the shorter one with the Minnesota Wild, starting on December 4th, have won 11 consecutive games. The main reason? The goaltending. With about 1.9 goals scored against per game this season, the Wild lead the NHL in that category. On the streak, the Wild have only allowed 3 or more goals once, surrendering 4 against the New York Rangers, but even then the offense stepped up, scoring 7 goals, lead by a 4 point night by center Charlie Coyle for the win. Coyle leads the team in goals (with 12), and newcomer/veteran Eric Staal leads the team in assists (18) and points (29). Star goalie Devan Dubnyk has lead the team with his outstanding GAA of 1.58 and SV% of .947. The Wild\’s next game is against the New York Islanders on Thursday, December 29th, 2016.
         For the longer streak, starting on November 29th, the Columbus Blue Jackets have won their last 13 games. Like the Wild, the Jackets have received an amazing performance from the back end. With 2.0 goals against per game, the Blue Jackets are only behind… You guessed it, the Wild for least goals against per game in the NHL. The Jackets have allowed 3 goals twice in the past 11 games, but obviously prevailed in both. They are also second in goals scored per game (3.4) and the NHL in PP% (27.1%). Like the Wild and Dubnyk, the Blue Jackets have been getting a nice performance from starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a GAA of 1.91 and a SV% of .934 this year. RW Cam Atkinson leads the team in goals (15) and points (35), plus center Alex Wennberg is the team leader in assists, with 24 helpers. The Jackets next game is also on December 29th, with their opponent being the Winnipeg Jets.
            If I told you it was impossible that both these teams would have their streaks still intact by the new year, but one team could still have their streak going, you might say \”Why not?\” The answer to that question would be that the Jackets and Wild will face off in a probably intense interleague game of double digit win streaks, assuming both teams win on 12/29. But for now, we\’ll have to wait and see if both streaks are still intact by the time that game starts, so if you want, place your bets in the comments below.     

The top 5 players on each NHL team

    In each and every sports leagues, all of the teams should (and will) have a star. He (or she) might not be outstanding due to league standards, but to their team they are stars. Here, I\’ll list who I think are the top 5 players on every NHL team.
    Anaheim Ducks: 1. Ryan Getzlaf, 2. Corey Perry, 3. Cam Fowler, 4. Ryan Kesler, 5. Rickard Rakell.
    Arizona Coyotes: 1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 2. Max Domi, 3. Martin Hanzal, 4. Michael Stone, 5. Anthony Duclair.
     Boston Bruins: 1. Brad Marchand, 2. Patrice Bergeron, 3. David Backes, 4. David Pastranak, 5. David Krejci.
     Buffalo Sabres: 1. Jack Eichel, 2. Ryan O\’Reilly, 3. Kyle Okposo, 4. Rasmus Ristolainen, 5. Evander Kane.
      Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau, 2. Mark Giordano, 3. Sean Monahan, 4. Dougie Hamilton, 5. Matthew Tkachuk.
       Carolina Hurricanes: 1. Justin Faulk, 2. Jeff Skinner, 3. Jordan Staal, 4. Victor Rask, 5. Sebastian Aho.
       Chicago Blackhawks: 1. Patrick Kane, 2. Duncan Keith, 3. Artemi Panarin, 4. Jonathan Toews, 5. Corey Crawford.
        Colorado Avalanche: 1. Matt Duchene, 2. Gabriel Landeskog, 3. Nathan MacKinnon, 4. Tyson Barrie, 5. Erik Johnson.
        Columbus Blue Jackets: 1. Brandon Saad, 2. Cam Atkinson, 3. Nick Foligno, 4. Seth Jones, 5. Sergei Bobrovsky.
         Dallas Stars: 1. Jamie Benn, 2. Tyler Seguin, 3. John Klingberg, 4. Jason Spezza, 5. Jiri Hudler.
         Detroit Red Wings: 1. Dylan Larkin, 2. Frans Nielsen, 3. Henrik Zetterberg, 4. Tomas Tatar, 5. Justin Abdelkader.
         Edmonton Oilers: 1. Connor McDavid, 2. Milan Lucic, 3. Jordan Eberle, 4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 5. Leon Draisaitl.
          Florida Panthers: 1. Aaron Ekblad, 2. Aleksander Barkov, 3. Jaromir Jagr, 4. Jonathan Huberdeau, 5. Nick Bjugstad.
          Los Angeles Kings: 1. Drew Doughty, 2. Anze Kopitar, 3. Tyler Toffoli, 4. Jake Muzzin, 5. Jeff Carter.
          Minnesota Wild: 1. Zach Parise, 2. Ryan Suter, 3. Devan Dubnyk, 4. Eric Staal, 5. Nino Niederreiter.
          Montreal Canadiens: 1. Carey Price, 2. Shea Weber, 3. Max Pacioretty, 4. Tomas Plekanec, 5. Alex Galchenyuk.
           Nashville Predators: 1. P.K. Subban, 2. Filip Forsberg, 3. Roman Josi, 4. Ryan Johansen, 5. James Neal.
           New Jersey Devils: 1. Cory Schneider, 2. Taylor Hall, 3. Kyle Palmieri, 4. Adam Henrique, 5. Michael Cammalleri.
            New York Islanders: 1. John Tavares, 2. Brock Nelson, 3. Nick Leddy, 4. Anders Lee, 5. Johnny Boychuk.
             New York Rangers: 1. Henrik Ludqvist, 2. Ryan McDonagh, 3. Mats Zuccarello, 4. Derek Stepan, 5. Chris Kreider.
            Ottawa Senators: 1. Erik Karlsson, 2. Bobby Ryan, 3. Kyle Turris, 4. Mike Hoffman, 5. Mark Stone.
            Philadelphia Flyers: 1. Claude Giroux, 2. Jake Voracek, 3. Wayne Simmonds, 4. Brayden Schenn, 5. Shayne Gostisbehere.
             Pittsburgh Penguins: 1. Sidney Crosby, 2. Evgeni Malkin, 3. Kris Letang, 4. Phil Kessel, 5. Patric Hornqvist.
             San Jose Sharks: 1. Brent Burns, 2. Joe Thornton, 3. Joe Pavelski, 4. Logan Couture, 5. Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
              St. Louis Blues: 1. Vladimir Tarasenko, 2. Alex Pietrangelo, 3. Kevin Shattenkirk, 4. Paul Stastny, 5. Alex Steen.
               Tampa Bay Lightning: 1. Nikita Kucherov, 2. Steven Stamkos, 3. Victor Hedman, 4. Ondrej Palat, 5. Jonathan Drouin.
               Toronto Maple Leafs: 1. James van Riemsdyk, 2. Auston Matthews, 3. Morgan Reilly, 4. Nazem Kadri, 5. Fredrik Andersen.
               Vancouver Canucks: 1. Daniel Sedin, 2. Henrik Sedin, 3. Loui Eriksson, 4. Alex Edler, 5. Bo Horvat.
                Washington Capitals: 1. Alex Ovechkin, 2. Braden Holtby, 3. Niklas Backstrom, 4. John Carlson, 5. Evgeny Kuznetsov.
                 Winnipeg Jets: 1. Dustin Byfuglien, 2. Blake Wheeler, 3. Mark Scheifele, 4. Patrik Laine, 5. Bryan Little.
         So that is who I think are the top 5 players on all 30 (for now) NHL teams. If you disagree, leave your opinion in the comment section below. For today, goodnight.

Clutterbuck signs 5 year extension with Isles, Yotes acquire center Holland in minor trade

   It might not be the offseason yet, but the New York Islanders and GM Garth Snow crossed off a big thing on their to do list this season, and that was to re-sign RW Cal Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck was signed to a 5 year deal, worth $17.5 mil in all, with Clutterbuck earning $3.5 yearly. He was part of the Islanders\’ infamous 4th line last season before Matt Martin signed with Toronto in July. So far this season, Cal is 5th in the NHL with 89 hits, and has 9 points, (2 G, 7A) in 25 games. He is an alternate captain ( he\’s splitting with Travis Hamonic for the A) for the Isles, being named at the start of the season.
     Until the trade deadline starts rolling around, not many big trades come up in the NHL. But minor trades happen every now and then. One of those trades happened today, when the Arizona Coyotes acquired 4th line center Peter Holland from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. \”Peter is a big, solid centerman with good NHL experience. We look forward to having him join our team,\” Coyotes GM John Chayka said of Holland. Holland\’s only point with the Leafs this year in his 8 games was an assist. While his linemates are uncertain, until Brad Richardson comes off the IR, Holland should center in the bottom 6, particularly on the 4th line in a small amount of games.

Winter meetings update: Outfielders Desmond, Fowler find new homes

 Every year, the winter meetings are a fun time for us fans. A time to criticize each team by signing that guy, not signing that guy, trading away that guy, trading for that guy, not trading for or not trading away that guy. It\’s a big circle. During the winter meetings, 2 of the many outfielders on the market got PAID. Here is how I recap how and why these 2 outfielders got PAID.
     First, a story about a natural shortstop, who signed a cheap one year, $8 mil deal (and that\’s cheap in baseball, I know) to be tested at center field, an unfamiliar position for him, for a contending team, to then hit for a BA of .285, hit 22 HRs, plus 86 RBIs, and swipe 21 bags, then gets a 5 year, $70 mil deal to play at the most hitter friendly park in the MLB, and play another position he\’s never played before- first base. A baseball fairy tale right, wrong. That\’s the story of Ian Desmond, who signed a cheap deal with the Texas Rangers to play a position he\’s never played before, and be an all-star, just to sign a big deal (with the Colorado Rockies) to play another unfamiliar position. Though the signing sparked trade rumors for CF Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies seem to want to have Desmond at first. The Rockies, who already had one of the league\’s best offenses, now has an outfield of stars Carlos Gonzalez, Blackmon, and 22 year old David Dahl, who was potent for the the Rox in 63 games last year. Plus an infield of Desmond, D.J LeMahieu, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, and will hope 25 year old Tom Murphy can be a solid catcher after a short stint in the MLB last season.
        Flashback to last offseason. The Chicago Cubs steal 2 good players from their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, (Jason Heyward and John Lackey) followed by a world series championship. This year, the Cards returned the favor by signing CF Dexter Fowler to a 5 year, $82.5 mil deal. Signing Fowler can move Randal Grichuk over to left, to replace Matt Holliday, who recently signed with the New York Yankees, and filling in Fowler between Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty. For the Cards, it\’s a word called payback.