The Blue Line

Rebuilding the Devils

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Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:23 pm

Alright, so the game is already started, but I realized I really like writing about this stuff, so here's a little recap of how I got where I am right now. I will try and keep this story alive for as long as I can.

Wanted a good challenge, so I started off with the Devils and played the 2016-17 season. Boy, are their prospects weak. Even McLeod is already looking like a bust and couldn't get manage ,75 PPG in the OHL... Only Rykov and Speers look half decent and my scouts hate both.

Fired Hynes sometime in February when the Sens fired Boucher, so that I could hire Scarface.

Finished the first season 13th in the Eastern conference and before the lotery, I'm set up to pick 7th OV. I won my last game in a SO, which dropped me from 4th OV to 7th OV. Oh well.

Got 2 extra first round picks (SJ, 30th OV and DAL, 18th OV) from trading Cammalleri++ and Lovejoy+Parenteau++ at the beginning of the year. Post deadline lineup had about 20M$ in cap relief from other teams (Iginla, Bickell, J.Hayes, Kindl, Burrows, King) that allowed me to acquire multiple picks (got 3 in each of the first 4 rounds) as well as another 2018 first.

Dealt Palmieri+ during the season for Pesce. Snagged Skjei from NYR when they put him on the block (they were playing him AHL, still). Also got Vrana for cheap from WAS when I saw other teams were all targeting him.

Scoring from my top 6 went like this. Bottom 6 was a revolving door except for Sergei Kalinin who did manage 18 pts from the 4th liner.

Taylor Hall : 53 in 77
Adam Henrique : 52 in 82
Devante Smith-Pelly : 48 in 80 (24 goals)
Pavel Zacha: 46 in 82
Reid Boucher : 38 in 82
Petr Vrana : 30 in 65 (17 goals)

Defense didn't do much (10 goals total from the D). Andy Greene led the way with 27 pts while Severson got 25.

Schneider was amazing (8,04 rating) all year and kept us in games we had no business winning.

Acquired Soshnikov early in the year to boost my farm team (which still sucked) and he got 57 pts in 61 games. As of now, he's playing in the WC for Russia and is all but a lock for my top 9 next year.

Re-signed Kalinin 2 years at 1M each, Boucher same deal and Severson 6 year deal at 3,7M per.

Looking forward to the draft where I will try and move up a bit with all those picks. I really need to help that poor prospect pool, though.

Weak UFA crop, but I might try to bolster my D and bottom 6. As of now, my building blocks are Severson, Skjei and Pesce on D, Vrana, Hall, Henrique and Zacha up front and Schneider in nets. Both Vrana and Henrique project more as 2nd liners, though.

Pretty excited about the lotery coming up and building a better roster for next season.
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Re: Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:25 pm

Had my first draft with the Devils yesterday, also my first using Shindigs' draft guide. We were slated to pick 7, 16, 30 and 37, but after some wheeling and dealing, ended up with picks 10-16-24-26. That 7th OV almost got us Draisaitl, but the Oilers kept wanting us to add even though they seemed really interested at first. Quite the disappointment, because even if he only had 39 pts last year, we think Draisaitl could have been our long term 1st line center.

On the draft itself, we traded back from 7 after our top 6 targets went 1-6 (Vilardi went 6th). Tippett was 7th on our list, on par with Pettersson. After the trade, Pettersson went at 7, Vesalainen at 8 and Rasmussen at 9, leaving us with Tippett, still there at 10. He has high consistency and is compared to a better Bobby Ryan. RW being our weakest position, this is a huge get for our future, even though I don't like him as a prospect IRL.

At 16, every member of the staff had his opinion on what we should do with the pick, but I trusted my instinct and drafted for need, picking up Heiskanen, who, while he only has medium consistency, is being compared to a better Trevor Daley and has incredible skating ratings and pretty good mentals. No other Dman rated in the first round came close to his package, so we took a shot here.

We had Jason Robertson and Nick Suzuki high on our list, then, the first being compared to a better Daniel Sedin, with high consistency, the second to a better Henrik Sedin, with high consistency. We had to overpay to get 24th OV, but snagged Robertson there, before getting Suzuki at 26, completing our first round haul with 4 players we had in our top 12.

2nd round we did not have much left, but did pick up Ryan Poehling at 40 who projects as a solid 3rd line two-way center (and a Habs pick to boot!) and Henri Jokiharju, a consistent two-way defenceman who was on our radar around our pick at 58, but we decided to trade up to 45 to make sure we got him. Also got Joni Ikonen (Habs draft pick ) early in the 3rd. Still don't understand how he fell that far, both in real life and in my save. He has the consistency trait and pretty solid ratings all around for an offensive forward.

Rest of the draft, we had multiple picks in every round, almost too many actually, so we traded a few for picks next season. Picked a bunch of guys we liked at different points during the season, mostly forwards as it was not a great year for D-men. After trading a few 7th rounders for next year picks, I realized 3-4 players I had interest in did not appear on our list during the draft for whatever reason (probably some filter I didn't see), so I'll have to try and sign them after the draft/invite them to our camp and see what comes out of it. At least one of them was college bound, though, so we might have lost our shot at getting him because signing him now wouldn't be a wise move for his development. Oh well, lessons learned.
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Re: Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:30 pm

Alright, so my last post was right after the 2017 draft. A lot has happened since.

Last summer has been a huge one for the Devils. Starting summer wishing to improve the D, we went all out trying to acquire some big fish, only to come up short, despite some pretty solid offers. We decided to be a bit active on the UFA front, signing Erik Haula as our 4th line center as well as Nate Thompson (LW-C-RW) as a 13th forward, but our biggest signing was the acquisition of Nick Bonino on a cap-friendly 3 year, 9M$ deal. Funny thing is, Bonino was gonna sign for 5 years in Nashville before we came in and swooped him. Kalinin had played 3rd line centre during the first season along with a revolving door of wingers we tried there. Bonino was exactly the type of player we needed to fill that hole. Also signed Evan Rodrigues for our AHL squad.

It's at that point that Tampa Bay announced that Ondrej Palat was available. We weren't sure why as he is locked to a solid 6 x 6,5M contract, but decided to try our luck at acquiring him. It took us 2 prospect and 3 picks, including a 2018 1st rounder (EDM) to get the deal done, but we managed to acquire him, giving us a 2nd very solid LW. Summer went by and a few good RFAs weren't getting signed by their teams. We offersheeted Xavier Ouellet at 4 years, 2M$ a year and Detroit didn't match so that cost us a 2nd rounder for a young 3rd pair defenceman with potential (our scouts loved him). Before Detroit could decide if they'd match or not, we saw yet another interesting name on the trade market in the person of Jonas Brodin. Those trade talks went fast and smooth and shortly after, we had our hands on a youngish top 4 LD-RD.

Still having a hole on RW with Vrana-Soshnikov-Smith-Pelly slated to be the 3 top-9 RW, we offered a 1 year contract to veteran Radim Vrbata who didn't hesitate and signed it (5M$ in August, he would have been a fool not to!). Pretty happy with our lineup, we were ready to start the season that way until a week before camp, we got news that Leon Draisaitl hadn't signed in EDM yet. Coming off a disappointing 39 pts season, his demands were probably too high for the Oilers, yet we felt like the timing was better than at the draft to acquire the German centerman. After a few calls back and forth, the deal went like this: Émile Poirier, Blake Speers, Jon Merrill, a 2nd rounder in 2018, a first rounder in 2019 along with a newly drafted prospect (4th rounder I think) for Draisaitl and a cap dump (Mark Fayne and his 3,6M). It was a lot to give up, but with his low consistency, we figured we'd trade Speers ASAP while Poirier was pretty much locked in an AHL role given our depth and future at RW. Merrill was a top 4 Dman for us, but the prospect of acquiring Draisaitl made that deal an easy one to accept. We immediately signed Draisaitl to a 4 year, 16M$ contract that should be quite the bargain very soon.

A new problem had then appeared… We had too many players and too few spots. Facing that challenge, we put Pavel Zacha on a new training regime to get him to learn the RW position, by far our weakest. We want him in our top 6 and there is just so much room when you have Hall-Palat on the left and Draisaitl-Henrique (who improved tremendously and is now a borderline 1C) at centre.

Our lineup to start 2017-2018:

Extra : Thompson, Vrbata

Extra : McNabb


Soshnikov had a 7,69 rating in the AHL last year, going PPG and he had a solid camp according to our coach, but being waiver exempt, we figured we'd just let him dominate a bit more, because there just isn't any room for him on RW at the moment. Other worthwhile story is a guy by the name of Garret Cockerill, who we signed out of Northeastern University over the summer and ended up being the last cut at camp. His technicals are pretty weak, but his mentals are very solid and he might have been our best Dman at camp (ended up playing 5 pre-season games, tops on the team). Hopefully this guy can muster some kind of NHL career in my save as that would be a pretty neat story. As of now, he's clearly the 8th D and will be better served in the AHL.

2 games into the season, Draisaitl injures himself at practice (sigh), meaning Zacha reverts back to centre while Vrbata draws in on RW. First game, Vrbata scores 2 goals, including the GWG and we win. Second game, he's 1-1 and nets the game winner in the shootout. Stopped playing with our record at 3-1 and already thinking about what to do when Draisaitl comes back. Gonna be tough if Vrbata keeps it up. The veteran definitely came to play!
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Re: Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:39 pm

Some stuff that's happened around the league:
-Kucherov won the Art Ross. Fleury won the Vezina with an absolutely dominant season. Norris went to Josi. Kessel scored 52 goals, which got him the Richard trophy, leading the Penguins to a Presidents trophy and Stanley Cup appearance, where they got swept by the Sharks who won the Cup, losing only 2 games in all of the postseason. Martin Jones won the Conn Smythe, with former Devil Mike Cammalleri finishing 3rd in voting.
-Matthews won the Calder with Laine and Marner rounding out the top 3.
-Fletcher (MIN) and Dorion (OTT) were fired after the season
-Lamoriello, Poile, Rutherford all retired after the year, so 5 GM spots are open right now in the NHL
-Alex Tanguay and Dany Heatley are going to the HHOF... that feature is definitely broken in EHM
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