The New York Islanders\’ off-season was like no other. They lost 3 major free agents in C Frans Nielson (DET), RW Kyle Okposo (BUF) and LW Matt Martin (TOR). To replace them, the Isles signed LW Andrew Ladd to a 7 year deal and LW Jason Chimera to a 2 year deal. RW P.A. Parenteau returns to the Isles on a one year deal. Ladd might be a left winger but he\’s still a solid replacement for Okposo. Chimera is a solid replacement for Martin on the infamous 4th line with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. To replace Nielson, the Isles will need Ryan Strome to have a bounce-back year or C Matthew Barzal to have a good rookie season. LW Anthony Beauvillier is also making a push to make the team this year and prospects Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang are still coming up in the system.
Defenseman Ryan Pulock is looking to have a nice full season after playing a little of last season. Defenseman Brian Strait went to Winnipeg so the spot for Pulock is open. The Isles also acquired D Dennis Seidenberg. Captain John Tavares remains as one of the league\’s best players and Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk lead a solid defensive core. The goaltending is a little shaky with Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak fighting for a starting spot. In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, the Islanders selected LW Kieffer Bellows with the 19th overall pick. Bellows adds scoring and a little bit of grit to a future Islanders\’ lineup. Bellows should play with either Matthew Barzal, Ryan Strome or Brock Nelson in the future.
The Islanders\’ projected lines look like this:
Andrew Ladd- John Tavares- Ryan Strome
Anders Lee- Brock Nelson- Josh Bailey
Nikolay Kulemin- Matthew Barzal- Anthony Beauvillier
Jason Chimera- Casey Cizikas- Cal Clutterbuck
On defense is:
Nick Leddy- Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan- Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey- Ryan Pulock
Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss are in net.
D Dennis Seidenberg, C Alan Quine and C Shane Prince are scratched and Mikhail Grabovski is injured. Plus after 9 games G Jean-Francois Berube will be called up if Beauvillier and Barzal are sent back to juniors.
Finally, for my prediction, the New York Islanders, a team slowly on the rise, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.
The New Jersey Devils were involved in a huge trade this off-season when they acquired LW Taylor Hall in exchange for only defenseman Adam Larsson. Larsson was a solid defenseman for New Jersey but Hall\’s impact offensively should boost this New Jersey team. New Jersey had a lot of contracts up this year but the players they didn\’t sign were not that important. The notable ones are the losses of Bobby Farnham (MTL), Jordin Tootoo (CHI), and Stephen Gionta (PTO w/ NYI). Patrick Elias and Tyler Kennedy are all still available in free agency. RW Vernon Fiddler was signed to be a fourth liner. They also signed defensemen Ben Lovejoy (3 years), Kyle Quincey (1 year) and Brandon Gormley (1 year) for depth.
Captain Andy Greene and youngster Damon Severson lead a defensive core which can always be better. Hall, RW Kyle Palmieri and C Adam Henrique can make a pretty filthy line. New Jersey\’s all-time point leader Patrik Elias remains unsigned but might come back at age 41. Cory Schneider is undoubtedly a top 5 goalie while Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood will fight for a backup spot.
In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, the Devils selected C Michael McLeod with the 12th overall pick. They decided to move back a spot after trading the 11th pick to Ottawa for the 12th overall pick and a third rounder. By doing that, they missed out on C Logan Brown, who I think will have a better future but McLeod will be pretty solid soon.
The Devils\’ projected lines look like this:
Taylor Hall- Adam Henrique- Beau Bennett
Michael Cammalleri- Travis Zajac- Kyle Palmieri
Reid Boucher- Pavel Zacha- Devante Smith-Pelly
Sergey Kalinin- Jacob Josefson- Vernon Fiddler
On defense is:
Andy Greene- Damon Severson
John Moore- Steven Santini
Kyle Quincey- Ben Lovejoy
Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid are in net. G Scott Wedgewood, LW Luke Gazdic and D Jon Merill are scratched and C Marc Savard is injured.
Finally, for my prediction, the New Jersey Devils, a team slowly on the rise will not make the playoffs in 2016-17.
The Nashville Predators made a very surprising move in the off-season when they traded their captain D Shea Weber to Montreal in exchange for d-man P.K. Subban. Subban is younger and has a better contract than Weber. Subban\’s skill with the puck is unreal but the loss of Weber is big. Nashville\’s only other departures were when C Paul Gaustad and D Barret Jackman both announced their retirement. Also, backup goalie Carter Hutton went to St. Louis. Depth defenseman Yannick Weber (who oddly enough, took Shea Weber\’s no.6), Matt Irwin and Matthew Carle were signed to one year deals.
Behind Subban, the defensive core is really strong. Roman Josi is turning into an elite defenseman and Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm are nice top 4 defensemen to have. RW Filip Forsberg, C Ryan Johansen and LW James Neal are all legitimate first liners but might not play together a lot. G Pekka Rinne is 34 and not getting younger. With no Carter Hutton, Marek Mazanec and Juuse Saros will fight for a backup spot. In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, the Predators selected D Dante Fabbro with the 17th overall pick. It\’s questionable to pick a defenseman when your oldest defenseman is 27 but they have a fair amount of young forwards too.
The Predators\’ projected lines look like this:
Filip Forsberg- Ryan Johansen- Craig Smith
James Neal- Mike Fisher- Calle Jarnkrok
Colin Wilson- Mike Ribeiro- Viktor Arvidsson
Pontas Aberg- Colton Sissons- Mikka Salomaki
Roman Josi- P.K Subban
Mattias Ekholm- Ryan Ellis
Anthony Bitetto- Yannick Weber
Pekka Rinne and Marek Mazanec are in net. D Matthew Carle, F Austin Watson and G Juuse Saros are scratched.
Finally, for my prediction, the Nashville Predators, a team on the rise, will make the playoffs AND win the Stanley Cup in 2016-17.
The Montreal Canadians made a big splash in the off-season when they were possible losers of the biggest move this off-season trading d-man P.K. Subban to Nashville in exchange for D Shea Weber. Weber is older and has a way bigger contract. But Weber is amazing defensively but can\’t match Subban\’s offensive talent. Also, RW Alexander Radulov is back in the NHL after playing in the KHL. Depth player Chris Terry comes in to replace Michael Bournival, who went to Tampa Bay. They lost defensemen Victor Bartley (MIN) and Tom Gilbert (LAK) but signed D Zach Redmond for a replacement. LW Daniel Carr is looking to have a breakout year after having a nice rookie season last year. Goalie Carey Price was hurt almost all of last season but everyone still knows he\’s the best goalie in the game. Backup Ben Scrivens left for the KHL so Montreal brought in Al Montoya to back Price up. Captain LW Max Pacioretty has shown to be an elite player. On draft day, the Canadians traded LW/C Lars Eller to the Capitals and in a separate trade acquired RW Andrew Shaw. Shaw is a nice replacement for Eller and would fit in well along side Brendan Gallagher. In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, the Canadians selected D Mikhail Sergachev with the 9th overall pick. The Canadians need a guy like Sergachev because besides Weber, Montreal\’s defense is pretty abysmal. The Canadians\’ projected lines look like this:
Max Pacioretty- Tomas Plekanec- Alexander Radulov
Brendan Gallagher- Alex Galchenyuk- Andrew Shaw
Daniel Carr- David Desharnais- Sven Andrighetto
Paul Byron- Phillip Danault- Michael McCarron
On defense is;
Jeff Petry- Shea Weber
Andrei Markov- Nathan Beaulieu
Alexei Emelin- Zach Redmond
Carey Price and Al Montoya are in net. LW Artturi Lehkonen, LW Brian Flynn and D Greg Pateryn are scratched.
Finally, the Montreal Canadians, a team who are clearly nothing without their goalie, will make the playoffs if Carey Price can stay healthy.
If you look at the Minnesota Wild\’s off-season they didn\’t do too much. They did sign C/LW Eric Staal. But in Staal\’s 20 game run with the Rangers last season, he only had 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) and he\’s not the 100 point player he was 10 years ago. They also signed D Victor Bartley but he\’ll be lucky to make the team. Justin Fontaine left and is now on a PTO with Dallas. Chris Stewart is back after being with Minnesota for a part of 2014-15 then playing with Anaheim for 2015-16. Former first round pick Joel Eriksson Ek has a chance at making the team this year. Defenseman Ryan Suter leads a relatively young defensive core but Suter isn\’t young but is still a very good defenseman. In net is Devan Dubnyk but the question is who will be backing him up. They re-signed Darcy Kuemper but they also signed Alex Stalock. Personally, I think they will dress Kuemper on opening night but new head coach Bruce Boudreau will decide. In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, Minnesota drafted C Luke Kunin with the 15th overall pick. With captain Mikko Koivu at age 32 and at the end of his prime, Kunin is another center behind Eriksson Ek and Mikael Grandlund.The Wild\’s projected lines look like this:
Zach Parise- Eric Staal- Nino Niederreiter
Mikael Grandlund- Mikko Koivu- Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker- Erik Haula- Jason Pominville
Zac Dalpe- Joel Eriksson Ek- Chris Stewart
On defense is:
Ryan Suter- Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella- Jonas Brodin
Mike Reilly- Matthew Dumba
Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper are in net. D Nate Prosser, D Christian Folin and G Alex Stalock are scratched.
Finally, for my prediction, the Minnesota Wild, a contending team, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.