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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:

Hall-Henrique-Zacha
Palat-Draisaitl-Vrana
Boucher-Bonino-Smith-Pelly
Kalinin-Haula-Wilson
Extra : Thompson, Vrbata

Greene-Severson
Brodin-Pesce
Skjei-Ouellet
Extra : McNabb

Schneider
Korpisalo

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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Re: Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:43 pm

It's the end of 2017 and the Devils have bounced back pretty well from a tough first season under me as a GM. As of December 30th, the team is firing on all cylinders and is ranked second in the Eastern conference behind the surprising Red Wings.

Taylor Hall is fighting for the league lead in points, with 45 through 35 games, two more than Stamkos. Adam Henrique is having an exceptionnal season centering Hall and Zacha and is 7th in the whole league in points, although his average rating strangely hovers barely above 7.00. Zacha has missed a bit of time to injury, but is running at about a 0,8 PPG clip on RW, a position he became accomplished at 2 weeks in the season. On the 2nd line, Palat and Vrana form another solid duo with both of them having at least 27 pts each. Surprisingly, Draisaitl has been the weak link on that line, especially at the beginning of the year when he got 3 assists in his first 10 games. He has been better since coming back from injury, though. Smith-Pelly and Bonino are both playing really well on the 3rd line, too, especially defensively.

On defense, we do not really have one real number 1, but Brodin, Pesce, Severson and Skjei are all playing well with at least 15 points, while Andy Greene is solid as they come on the defensive side of things. Xavier Ouellet has been a good number 6, too, while Brayden McNabb has only had to draw in for 4 games since the beginning of the year. Cory Schneider has been an absolute monster in nets, ranking 3rd in average rating at that position, behind Holtby and Lundqvist. His GAA is under 2 and his 5 shutouts are 2nd in the league, behind King Henrik.

Not a lot of movement since the beginning of the year except injuries to Draisaitl, Zacha, Severson and Vrbata who have all missed a handful of games (more in the case of Draisaitl). Vrbata is an interesting case as he was signed to a 1 year, 5M$ deal this summer, but trades forced him out of the lineup. When he's drawn in, though, he's been excellent, scoring 7 goals and 5 helpers for 12 points in 11 games. With everybody healthy, he's not going ahead of the youngsters Vrana and Zacha or the versatile Smith-Pelly, meaning he's riding the press box. We might consider trading him near the deadline or hanging on to him as an insurance policy. He might also get a shot at LW on the third line since Boucher has cooled off a lot after a solid start (started with 8 pts in 10 games, now has 14 in 35 games or so).

We have made two minor trades, sending Tom Wilson, who had been playing on the fourth line with not much results as we've been using the overload tactics except for back to back games, meaning he's been playing less than a minute a game on average. 2M$ is a bit hefty for that and with our logjam on RW, he was an easy cut when we managed to get a 2nd pick this year and 6th next year from the Predators, who wanted depth on RW. Nate Thompson played a few games after the trade, until we picked up Byron Froese on waivers. He has since been the regular 4th RW, completing a line with Haula and Kalinin. Not sure that line has been in for a goal against yet, which is exactly what we're asking from our 4th line.

Second trade is a bit of a headscratcher for us as the Senators had been playing Logan Brown sporadically on their 4th line (he had 8 GP on December 10th, with no point to show for it). His value was all the way down to ** according to our AGM, so we made a move for him, sending Mark Fayne (acquired as a cap dump in the Draisaitl trade) and a 4th round pick to Ottawa for Brown, who we immediately sent back to Windsor (OHL), where he has lit up the league with 21 points in 12 games since.

Since it's also that time of the year, Brown has been named to the U20 American team, along with fellow Devils prospects Joey Anderson, Ryan Poehling and Jeremy Bracco. We also have Joni Ikonen, Henri Jokiharju and Miro Heiskanen playing for Finland; Michael McLeod, Nick Suzuki and Owen Tippett for Canada; and Matej Chalupa for Czech Republic. Hopefully, a few of our prospects manage to win the tournament, gaining valuable experience from it.

With the Olympics and then the trade deadline coming up, we will be looking at adding a competent backup goaltender (Korpisalo has been inconsistent as hell), along with some experience on defense. We have 2 first round picks (ours and FLA) and 3 2nd rounders (ours, FLA and NAS) in the upcoming draft, so we do have a bit of leeway in terms of assets to trade, especially with the number of picks we had in the last draft (keeping the reserve list in mind).
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Re: Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:15 pm

2017-18 season is in the books!

Taking off where I left at the last post, we decided Vrbata was too good of an insurance policy after he got up to 18 pts in 16 games. He had also announced his intentions to retire at the end of the year. We made him a happy man by trading him to his favorite team, the Coyotes, so that he could end his career there. Nikita Soshnikov, who at that time had 52 pts in 40 games in the AHL was called up and ended up providing more than we could expect from a rookie, scoring 8 goals in 12 games, along with 3 assists, before being sent back down.

Then came the Olympics, with us firmly in first place, and 6 players got the call to represent their country: Hall (Canada), Schneider (USA), Soshnikov (Russia) and a full line of Palat-Zacha-Vrana (Czech Republic). Injured, Draisaitl did not get the call (even though he had healed up in time for Germany's first game… weird. Canada ended up winning gold against the US and none of our players getting injured.

At the trade deadline, we made 2 minor moves, sending prospect Max Gildon to Florida for Jussi Jokinen who we felt would help with our LW depth. We also added defenceman Brendan Manning from the Flyers because of his versatility (LD/RD) for a 2019 5th round pick. Manning arrived as the first sub at RD while Jokinen was inserted on the 3rd line, where he only played 7 games (managing 1 assist) before giving Reid Boucher his spot back. Boucher finished the season on a good streak, scoring 7 goals in the last 15 or so games. Oddly enough, 3rd line center Nick Bonino had a fine season, managing 8 goals and 23 assists, but not scoring a goal in his last 40 games. This is strange because his linemates (Boucher and Smith-Pelly) were scoring just fine.

We closed out the season on top of the overall standings with the best offense in the whole league and 2nd best defense. Taylor Hall led the league in goals and points (54 goals, 107 pts) while Adam Henrique was the only other player who crossed the 100 pt mark (102 pts). Jakub Vrana finished 10th in scoring with an impressive 33-44-77 season while Ondrej Palat and Leon Draisaitl also crossed the 70 pts mark. Our other top 6 player, Pavel Zacha, missed a good chunk of the year because of various injuries, but still managed 59 pts in 60 games. We are pretty happy about it, especially since he is now accomplished at all 3 forward positions, giving us options looking forward.

On defense, Skjei and Pesce were huge revelations, both getting 35 pts while playing solid defence. Veteran Andy Greene led the league in +/- at +40 and in the end, our D contributed a lot more to the offense than in year 1. We signed Skjei to a 3 year bridge contract worth 1,5M a year while Pesce re-upped for 4 years at a 2,7M average, meaning our top 6 D are all under contract for at least 2 extra years for a total of 19 millions, nice position to be in.

Cory Schneider led the league in average rating for goalies, finishing 1st in wins and 2nd in GAA, save % and shutouts, another fine year for him and hopefully, a Vezina nod. Joonas Korpisalo disappointed again, ending with a sub-900 save % while often giving up early goals in his starts. In an olympic year, we had to play him more often than we would have liked and that proved costly at times. We did look for a better backup goalie, but that's probably something we'll address in the summer.

In the AHL, Soshnikov cemented his spot for next season as, along with his impressive call up stats, he closed the year with 76 pts in 60 games. Season one NCAA signing Spencer Foo scored 34 goals and 70 points, while MacKenzie Blackwood enjoyed some level of success in his first pro season between the pipes. Starting next year, we should see an influx of homegrown talent with the Albany Devils, especially on D, which should help tremendously as the current lineup is mostly made up of career AHLers, even amongst the younger players (except for the aforementioned 3).

2017-18 PLAYOFFS

We got what we thought would be a tough draw, facing the Red Wings in round 1. They had beat us twice in 3 games during the season and were actually in front of us in the standings up until Christmas or so. They had faltered down the stretch, though and barely made the playoffs as the 8th seed. Our fears were quickly put away as we won the first 2 games 4-0 each, dominating both times as the shot counts show (48-20 and 51-18). Game 3 was on another level as the Wings were humiliated 9-1 on their home ice. They did manage to win game 4 2-1 on the heels of an incredible showing by Mrazek, but we returned the favour and closed the series with a 3-1 win on home ice. On to the Islanders for round 2. While the extra rest days gave time to Brodin, Ouellet and Henrique, all injured at some point in round 1, to come back for round 2, Schneider injured himself in practice, putting our hopes in the hands of Korpisalo (or more likely: our offense).

We knew Korpisalo would play at least 2 games, so we were hoping to be 1-1 after those 2 games, but it turned out even better as the offense bailed the Finnish goalie out multiple times on our way to a 2-0 lead in the series. That's when Schneider came back, giving us a full lineup, which could not be topped by the Islanders. In the end, this series was not close. Actually, scratch that. Games were closed, but the results all went to our side as we sweeped New York and waited for our round 3 opponent.

As we expected, Tampa Bay beat Toronto in round 2, meaning we would be facing them in the conference final. If a team can give us trouble, it's Tampa Bay. They had 2 scorers in the league's top 10 (Stamkos and Kucherov) and they boast a strong team all around. This is where I stopped for now, but hopefully, we manage to get through them and on the final against the winner of a Canucks-Predators Western conference final. Looking forward to it.


To close it out, a few interesting/weird things that happened around the league this year:
-Prospect Brett Seney foregoing his last 2 years in the NCAA to go play in France for 70K$ a year. Come on man, school is more important than that!
-Bruins firing Claude Julien early and replacing him with Bobby Carpenter. Even weirder? GM Don Sweeney fired Carpenter a few weeks before the end of season… before being fired himself 2 days later. I guess ownership were not informed of Carpenter's upcoming firing.
-Colorado's Joe Sakic continues to burn through coaches at an alarming rate. After firing Jared Bednar last summer and Patrick Roy earlier this year, he fired Joe Kocur before the end of the year, marking his 3rd coach firing in 2 years.
-Mikhail Sergachev led the OHL in points with 87, as a defenceman. That's impressive.
-The Blues were contenders in the Western conference up until Jake Allen tore his UCL a week before season's end. St.Louis was then bounced out in the first round. Tough break.
-Canadiens entertained very solid offers for Shea Weber all season long, but held on to him, on their way to a 13th place finish in the East. Hopefully, Marc Bergevin knows what he's doing there.
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Re: Rebuilding the Devils

Postby yoteshot » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:31 pm

Last time we left off after the 2nd round of the 2017-18 playoffs and I'm now beginning training camp for season 3 (2018-19). Here's what has happened in the meantime (BTW, if you guys are reading this, feel free to comment in the general talk thread (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13587):

Round 3 against TB. We won the first game, then lost the 2nd, which was only our 2nd loss in the whole playoffs. I thought for sure this meant the rest of the series would be hard, but we ended up winning 3 in a row, all 3 capped by Palat empty netters giving us 2-goal leads (I guess that made him happy haha!)

Round 4 would be against Nashville and would be a cakewalk as we won all 4 games, capped off by a 3-0 game 4 shutout to become Stanley Cup champions for the first time in my career (Hello superb GM ranking :) ). Surprisingly, Cory Schneider, who was not as dominant as in the regular season, won the Conn Smythe over his teammates Taylor Hall (20 pts in 18 games) and Jakub Vrana (19 pts in 18 games). I guess that 14-2 record with 4 shutouts meant a lot to voters!

Unsurprisingly, we completely dominated the league awards this year, yet missing one the Calder, Hart and Norris in terms of major hardware. Hall won Art Ross and Rocket Richard award, Henrique won Lady Byng, Masterton and Selke, Andy Greene got the top +/- in the league and Schneider swept the Vezina, Jennings and Crozier trophies. Strangely, Hall and Schneider were both only selected to the 2nd team all-stars and Henrique (league's 2nd leading scorer) wasn't named at all.

Having already signed Pesce and Skjei to extensions during the year, the only major player left needing a new contract was 3rd line winger Devante Smith-Pelly. We recognized his important checking role on the 3rd line, where he actually matched his stats from the first year (when he played 1st line with Hall and Zacha), while still maintaining his top notch defensive play and signed him to a 5 year contract worth 3,9M$ a year. Other important signature was Nikita Soshnikov who we see as a 3rd line winger this year after 2 solid seasons leading our AHL team in scoring. We signed him a to 3 year contract worth just under a million dollars a year.

Next step was the draft, where the Panthers' pick ended up 3rd overall on virtue of them finishing 28th in overall rankings. That was the pick we got from trading them Travis Zajac before the 2017-18 season. Looking at our team report, we had needs at RD and on the wings in terms of future assets, especially at LW and we intended to address those needs. With Andrei Svechnikov and Rasmus Dahlin slated to go 1 and 2, we started looking at our options in terms of trading down, having no need for a forward and liking Halifax's Jarec McIsaac a lot. Then came the draft and a huge surprise happened as Montreal, who had won the lottery and were awarded the first overall pick, picked local boy Joe Veleno, changing the landscape of the draft. Boston went with the logical Andrei Svechnikov pick at number 2, leaving us our top prospect in the draft in Rasmus Dahlin, the Swedish 2-way defenceman.

Also owning our own 30th OV pick and the 33rd (Panthers 2nd rounder) and 57th, we decided to move up to select a player we had our eyes on, packaging picks 30 and 57 for pick 25 and a 2019 6th round selection, allowing us to select Sudbury LW David Levin, who our scouts compare to Marian Gaborik and we can see why, looking at his skating skills. With no other interesting pick in this range, we then traded down from pick 33 to net the 41st selection and a 2019 3rd rounder. With the 41st pick, we chose hulking Russian winger Grigori Denisenko who could become a solid checking forward, but also has some offensive skill. The draft also saw us trade winger Reid Boucher to Montreal for future 2nd round picks. This trade was made possible by the emergence of Soshnikov. The rest of the draft saw us pick mostly wingers and d-men, along with a centre and finally, a goalie, with the last overall pick. Considering that Swedish goalie was drawing interest from other teams in the league at that point, we are looking forward to seeing how he develops over time.

After the draft, a new issue showed up (and it was to be expected after those 2 loaded entry drafts): our reserve list was over the limit (84/80). It was June 25 and we had about a dozen players becoming UFA on July 1st, so I thought we were alright, but the game insisted on us cutting some weight off. Not knowing we could simply put those players on waivers, we decided to cut our ties with 4 players, starting with our worst prospect, Russian winger Mikhail Maltsev, who had not showed any kind of progress in 2 years. We then traded Sergey Kalinin for 2 mid-round picks. Final move was a big decision for us, but knowing many teams were looking for a goalie and having not been impressed at all by Korpisalo in his 2 years here, we shopped him around a bit, getting good offers from the Wild and Flyers. The best offer came from division rivals Islanders who, after some tweaks, ended up giving us their next 3 1st round picks in return for Korpisalo, who we had picked on waivers at the end of the 2016 training camp. The Finnish goalie was showing promise, but he was capped in a backup role here so we took advantage of his value and got something great for him. 21 year old MacKenzie Blackwood will handle backup duties next year.

The rest of our summer was rather quiet. We signed Slovak goalie Dennis Godla to an ELC, but couldn't get him to sign it before the end of the transfer window, meaning he will only report to our team next June. Tough blow as we wanted him to be our AHL starter as soon as this year. Erik Condra was signed to play on our 4th line along with mid-season waiver claim Philip Danault, leaving one spot open for an AHL veteran who will impress at camp. Considering our 4th line averages less than 2 minutes of icetime a game, we are content with not paying close to 4M$ for it this year. An under the radar signature might be defenceman Cameron Heath from small Atlantic Hockey's Canisius College. Our scouts already see him as a depth defender and he should start the year either as our number 7 or, most likely, on the top pair in Albany, probably with Rasmus Dahlin, who we signed to an ELC and who will get a shot at cracking the NHL lineup.

Looking at this year's lineup, Smith-Pelly and Soshnikov are both already training to learn the LW position and both should play alongside Nick Bonino who, despite not scoring in his final 61 games including the playoffs, was still an important player for us, scoring 31 pts in the season and adding 9 assists in the playoffs.

Likely lineup:
Hall-Henrique-Zacha
Palat-Draisaitl-Vrana
Smith-Pelly-Bonino-Soshnikov
Condra-Danault-??? (likely Miles Wood, Blake Coleman or John Quenneville, who will all fight it out at camp, along with camp invitee Josh Jooris)

Greene-Severson
Skjei-Pesce
Brodin-Ouellet

Schneider
Blackwood

Top prospects to watch at camp are Owen Tippett, Miro Heiskanen, Logan Brown, Michael McLeod, Rasmus Dahlin, Jack Ahcan and Blackwood, but with so few spots available with the top team, none should end up getting a spot, aside from Blackwood, unless he struggles hard.

I'm really loving this team and I hope to keep it alive for a good while still, espcially having added Dahlin who represents exactly what we lacked in our prospect pool/team. Hopefully, Blackwood can slowly develop into a decent starter who can step in Schneider's shoes at some point, but for now, Schneider is still a premier goalie in this league and should be for the foreseeable future.

Around the league:
-After burning through 3 coaches in 2 years, Joe Sakic got the boot in Colorado
-Peter Chiarelli was fired in Edmonton, too
-Phil Kessel won the Hart trophy this year
-Our assistant coach Geoff Ward was not resigned as he was instead named as the new head coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets (love that this happened as it is quite realistic for teams to poach ACs from cup winning teams)
-As a Habs' fan, I was happy to see Andrei Markov get induced to the HHOF. He ended his career with 1010 games (20 more than he has now IRL)
-Brent Burns was not resigned by the Sharks and as of September 1st, is still a free agent.
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