The reigning Western conference champions failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals, but now they are better with the acquisitions of LW Mikkel Boedker and D David Schlemko. Boedker adds more scoring to an already filthy top 6. Schlemko adds more defensive depth after they lost Roman Polak (TOR) and Matt Tennyson (CAR). Backup goalie James Reimer signed with Florida, so Aaron Dell will get the chance to be the backup.
C/RW Joe Pavelski, C Joe Thornton, C Logan Couture, and LW Patrick Marleau lead an offense that shouldn\’t have trouble scoring goals. Brent (chewbacca) Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic lead a solid defense. Goalie Martin Jones\’ playoff run last season showed people that he\’s an elite goaltender. Time will tell how Aaron Dell plays in a backup role for someone who hasn\’t played in the NHL yet.
The Sharks didn\’t have a first round pick in the 2016 NHL draft because they traded it to Boston to acquire Jones.
The Sharks\’ projected lines look like this:
Tomas Hertl- Logan Couture- Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker- Joe Thornton- Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau- Tommy Wingels- Joel Ward
Melker Karlsson- Chris Tierney- Matthew Nieto
On defense is:
Paul Martin- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic- Justin Braun
Brendon Dillon- David Schlemko
In net is Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. LW Michael Haley and D Dylan DeMelo are scratched.
Finally, for my prediction, the San Jose Sharks, a team with both elite old and young players, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions didn\’t change up their team too much in the off-season. And really, if you just won the Cup, would you do anything? Their roster is amazing and they are poised for another cup run.
The face of the NHL, C Sidney Crosby is starting the year on the IR (injured reserve) due to a concussion but with RWs Patrick Hornqvist and Phil Kessel plus C Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins shouldn\’t struggle too much. Defenseman Kris Letang leads a solid defensive core. Pittsburgh\’s \”problem\” is that they have 2 elite goalies. Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray have both proven to be really good. Murray was diagnosed with a broken hand during the world cup so Fleury will be the starter. The Penguins didn\’t have a 3rd goalie because Jeff Zatkoff signed with the Kings so when Montreal placed Mike Condon on waivers, Pittsburgh picked him up to be a temporary backup.
The Penguins didn\’t have a first round pick in the 2016 NHL draft because they traded it to Toronto to acquire Phil Kessel. (Toronto then traded it to Anaheim).
The Penguins\’ projected lines look like this:
Conor Sheary- Evgeni Malkin- Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin- Nick Bonino- Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz- Bryan Rust- Scott Wilson
Tom Kuhnhackl- Matt Cullen- Eric Fehr
On defense is:
Brian Dumoulin- Kris Letang
Olli Maata- Trevor Daley
Justin Schultz- Derrick Pouliot
In net is Marc-Andre Fleury and Mike Condon. Ian Cole is scratched and C Sidney Crosby and G Matt Murray are injured.
Finally, for my prediction, the Pittsburgh Penguins, a winning team, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.
The Philadelphia Flyers weren\’t a huge team this off-season but they made some moves. They lost forwards Sam Gagner (CBJ) and Ryan White (ARI) but replaced them with the signings of Dale Weise and Boyd Gordon. Both are solid penalty killers with Gordon being an amazing faceoff man and Weise can also add some scoring to the table. When defenseman Evgeny Medvedev signed with the KHL, the Flyers didn\’t need to sign anybody because former first round pick Ivan Provorov is going to make the team.
Forwards Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds lead a solid offense. Forward Travis Konecny, 19, is looking to have a dominate rookie season playing with Voracek. Also, Calder finalist (best rookie) and powerplay specialist Shayne Gostisbehere leads a defense that can use work. Provorov, also 19, adds youth to an aging defensive core. Goalies Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason are both in their prime at age 28 and are solid goalies.
In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, the Flyers selected C German Rubstov with the 22nd overall pick. Rubstov can be a solid second line center behind Claude Giroux or he can be moved to the wing.
The Flyers projected lines look like this:
Brayden Schenn (Supended)- Claude Giroux- Wayne Simmonds
Travis Konecny- Sean Couturier- Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl- Pierre-Edouard Bellmare- Dale Weise
Chris VandeVelde- Nick Cousins- Matt Read
On defense is:
Shayne Gostisbehere- Andrew MacDonald
Ivan Provorov- Radko Gudas (Suspended)
Brandon Manning- Mark Streit
Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth are in net. D Nick Schultz and F Boyd Gordon are scratched and F Scott Laughton and D Michael Del Zotto are injured.
Finally, for my prediction, the Philadelphia Flyers, a team slowly on the rise, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.
The Ottawa Senators were involved in the NHL\’s 3rd biggest trade in the off-season when they sent C Mika Zibanejad to the Rangers in exchange for C Derick Brassard. Brassard is a better player right now but Zibanejad should have a better future than Brassard being the younger player. Besides that, not much happened. The only notable player they lost was defenseman Patrick Wiercoich who signed a 2 year deal with Colorado. They also added C Chris Kelly, who signed a one year deal.
Defenseman Erik Karlsson is definitely the most offensive defenseman in the league and arguably the best all-around defenseman in the league. C Kyle Turris, RW Bobby Ryan, LW Mike Hoffman and RW Mark Stone lead a potent offense which should not have trouble scoring this year. Behind Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Mark Methot and Cody Ceci are all solid defensemen. Goaltenders Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond are aging which means that Ottawa needs to win now.
In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, before the New Jersey Devils were about to select someone with the 11th overall pick, Ottawa then traded the 12th overall pick (which was theirs) and a third round pick for the 11th pick. Ottawa then drafted C Logan Brown with the 11th pick. Brown\’s a big center (6.6) and can go along with some of Ottawa\’s wingers.
The Senators\’ projected lines look like this:
Mike Hoffman- Kyle Turris- Bobby Ryan
Ryan Dzingel- Derick Brassard- Mark Stone
Jean-Gabriel Pageau- Zack Smith- Curtis Lazar
Matt Puempel- Chris Kelly- Chris Neil
On defense is:
Dion Phaneuf- Erik Karlsson
Marc Methot- Cody Ceci
Thomas Chabot- Chris Wideman
In net is Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond. C Tom Pyatt, C Phil Varone and D Mark Borowiecki are scratched and LW Clarke MacArthur is injured.
Finally for my prediction, the Ottawa Senators, a win now team but a team on the rise will not make the playoffs in 2016-17.
The New York Rangers were involved in the NHL\’s 3rd biggest trade this off-season when they sent C Derick Brassard to Ottawa in exchange for C Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad only had a few less points last year than Brassard and is much younger. The Rangers also acquired former Hobey Baker winner (best college hockey player) Jimmy Vesey when Vesey signed an entry level deal with the Rangers in August. They acquired depth players in defenseman Adam Clendening and Nick Holden. They also acquired forwards Michael Grabner, Josh Jooris and Brandon Pirri.
RW Kevin Hayes, LW Chris Kreider, C J.T. Miller and C/LW Oscar Lindberg are all looking to have solid years this year. Also, LW Rick Nash is looking to have a rebound year after scoring 42 goals in 2014-15 and only getting 15 last year. Captain Ryan McDonagh, Dan Giradi, Marc Staal and Kevin Klein lead an aging defensive core. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is still a top 5 goalie but at age 34 the question is if he can still perform like a top 5 goalie. Backup Antti Raanta is in his second season with the Rangers after a decent first year. The Rangers did not have a first round pick in the 2016 NHL draft.
The Rangers\’ projected lines look like this:
Chris Kreider- Derek Stepan- Mats Zuccarello
J.T. Miller- Mika Zibanejad- Rick Nash
Jimmy Vesey- Kevin Hayes- Jesper Fast
Josh Jooris- Oscar Lindberg- Michael Grabner
On defense is:
Ryan McDonagh- Dan Girardi
Marc Staal- Kevin Klein
Nick Holden- Dylan McIlrath
Henrik Lundqist and Antti Raanta are in net. F Brandon Pirri and D Adam Clendening are scratched.
Finally, for my prediction, the New York Rangers, a win now team with an uncertain future, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.