Taking another stab at NHL36 (v2.6) with my hometown Scouts...
Using the Expansion Draft Import file, here is my initial 2017-18 starting roster:
Austin Wilson - Torrey Mitchell - Brandon Tanev
Jussi Jokinen - Paul Carey - Marcus Sorenson
Troy Brouwer - Oskar Sundqvist - Jordan Nolan
Daniel Carr - Miro Aaltonen - Alex Chiasson
Barclay Goodrow - Domininc Toninato - Phil Di Giuseppe
Thomas Di Pauli - Christoffer Ehn
Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Petrovic
Brayden Coburn - Troy Stecher
Petteri Lindbohm - Radek Simek
Jake Walman - Brett Lernout
William Lagesson - Josh Jacobs
Cam Ward - Chad Johnson
- Up front, I have about three lines worth of 3rd/4th liners and a few interesting younger guys. I don't lack for grit or hustle but I'm having a hard time imagining where the offense is going to come from. Perhaps a guy like Jokinen if this were 5 years ago but he is getting very long in the tooth and not the player he once was. Daniel Carr is an interesting fellow - older prospect with a great AHL track record and some scoring touch. Likewise, Di Giuseppe has shown some flashes in Carolina but has yet to do enough to stick at the NHL level. And former Leafs prospect Aaltonen has a bit of flash to his game but it remains to be seen if he can adapt from the KHL to a more rough and physical NHL style.
- Defensively, things look a bit more solid if unspectacular. The veteran trio of Gunnarsson, Petrovic and Coburn gives me a good, reliable foundation to build upon. Sure - none of them are anything more than 4/5/6 defenders on a decent squad but they will be adequete for a brand new club such as the Scouts. Stecher has shown some promise in Vancouver and could lend a bit of offensive pop as could Czech import Simek. Walman is a pretty exciting prospect and listed as my overall #1 prospect in the system while Lernout, Lagesson and Jacobs all look to have some potential down the road.
- In net, expect veterans Ward and Johnson to see a lot of rubber. Ward may be getting old but he brings Stanley Cup experience and leadership and should be the #1 guy this year. Rittich is an interesting prospect who could be close to making his NHL debut.
2017-18 FRONT OFFICE SHAKE-UP
I've installed NHL veteran Lindy Ruff as Head Coach on a 3-year deal. Ruff has plenty of NHL experience and success with the Sabres and Stars and he's tough and will drill this squad into shape. He also won't suffer any fools so we shall see how some of the imports fair under his guidance. Chris Pryor will be assisting me as Assistant GM. The coaching staff is filled out with Bobby Carpenter, John MacLean, Joel Otto and Sam St. Laurent. I love the NHL experience as players that Carpenter, MacLean and Otto bring to the table. They know what it takes to suceed at the NHL level.
2017-18 OFF-SEASON SIGNINGS
With only a 30-man roster to begin with - it is imperative to make some depth signings to fill out the minor league system and to add insurance in case of an injury crisis. With that said, I signed the following players prior to the start of the season:
Forwards: Colin Smith (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton - AHL), Austin Cangelosi (Binghamton - AHL), Tyler Kelleher (Norfold - AHL), Tyler Wong (Chicago - AHL), Scott Eansor (Bridgeport - AHL), Mason Marchment (Toronto - AHL), Vladimir Tkachyov (Salavat Ufa - KHL)
Defensemen: Darren Raddysh (Rockford - AHL), Matias Cleland (Toronto - AHL), Artyom Zub (SKA - KHL)
Goalies: Daniel Altshuler (York - USports), Cam Morris (Notre Dame - NCAA)
- Both my KHL imports, Tkachyov and Zub, are expected to see NHL action from day one. Tkachyov brings a crazy level of skill and excitement - if he can adapt to North America, he could be the offensive leader for the Scouts right away. Zub is a non-nonsense defensive-minded blueliner. They rank #3 and #5 on my prospect chart initially. The big prize of the off-season may be netminder Cale Morris though. I had to fight off a lot of other NHL competition to sign the Notre Dame goalie who has big potential as my #1 prospect (surpassing Walman) and should see plenty of action as the starter for the AHL Oklahoma City Blazers. The rest of the signings are long-shots but help me fill out the Blazers' roster. Wong is an interesting guy with a great mental make-up and perhaps he could amount to something down the road.
2017-18 OFF-SEASON TRADES/WAIVERS:
Kansas City trades D Brayden Coburn, LW Jussi Jokinen, RW Alex Chiasson, LW Troy Brouwer, G David Rittich and RW Marcus Sorenson to San Jose for RW Joonas Donskoi, LW Mikkel Bodker, D Brenden Dillon, LW Brandon Bollig, C Tim Clifton and G Troy Grosenick.
- Ahhh the 'ol 6 for 6 swap. In quite a startling shifting of deck chairs, I completed quite an overhaul with the Sharks. Bodker was on the outs in San Jose as the Sharks regretted his contract. He's inconsistent and not physical at all but a speedy and versatile winger. But the main target was Donskoi whom I was surprised to see valued at only 3 stars by the Sharks. While his record of production has not been great - he's fast and skilled and I think I can see him unlocking some untapped upside with a big role in KC. Dillon is a solid physical defender and gives me somebody a bit younger than Coburn. Overall I lost some quality depth and a good goalie prospect in Rittich (Bollig, Clifton and Grosenick are complete non-factors as make-weights in the deal) - but I got faster up front and a bit younger in terms of the main components of the deal.
Kansas City trades LW Daniel Carr to Arizona for LW Jordan Martinook.
- Swap of 25 year-old left winger. Carr is more skilled but with Tkachyov and Bodker in tow now, I didn't really have room for him in my top 6 and wanted a better grinder/defensive type to fill out my bottom 6. Martinook is versatile and can kill penalties.
Kansas City trades LW Barclay Goodrow to Buffalo for C Jacob Josefson and Sabres' 4th round pick in 2018.
- Shifting some depth around - I am sorely lacking with NHL experience at center so while Josefson is nothing special, he can fill a spot in the middle of the ice plus I get a mid-round pick back.
Kansas City claims RW Jesper Fast from NY Rangers off waivers.
- Fast, as his name implies, adds even more speed to the line-up, though he will be best suited for a checking line role as he's not much of an offensive producer.
2017-18 OPENING NIGHT ROSTER:
Vladimir Tkachyov - Paul Carey - Joonas Donskoi
Mikkel Bodker - Jacob Josefson - Phil Di Giuseppe
Austin Watson - Torrey Mitchell - Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook - Oskar Sundqvist - Brandon Tanev
Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Petrovic
Brendan Dillon - Troy Stecher
Artyom Zub - Radek Simek
Cam Ward - Chad Johnson
- I feel like I've added a lot more speed and skill from the original roster and have enough grit with guys like Petrovic, Dillon, Watson and Nolan to keep teams honest. It's not a great roster but I really think Tkachyov and Donskoi could shine with big roles. My main issue is at center ice where I lack creativity and vision...it pains me to have to put guys like Carey and Josefson into top 6 roles and my only hope is that they don't drag down a decent group of wingers with some scoring upside. It'll be a rough initial season but of the 5 new expansion teams, I should easily be able to field the best of the bunch as I've got some firepower now that those other clubs simply don't have. My goal is to compete with the worst of the original 31 clubs - teams like Vancouver, Montreal and Buffalo.
2017-18 TRADE DEADLINE UPDATE:
As of February 23, 2018, the Scouts are sitting about where I predicted in the pre-season...we are by far the best of the "Expanion 5" and in competition with the likes of Vancouver, Detroit and Montreal for the spots right above Quebec, Milwaukee, Saskatchewan and Seattle. I sit in 15th place in the West but only a point behind Vancouver.
I have yet to make any in-season trades but was busy on deadline dy itself. My #1 priority was to find a decent playmaking center with top 6 upside to play with Donskoi and Tkachyov. Those two have been every bit as good as I thought - both should easily pass 30 goals this year but my motly assortment of centers could be preventing them from even bigger things. My #2 priority is to look for bargains - guys with talent and who are still fairly young who just haven't had a breakthrough on their current teams and could potentially be had in a trade. And #3 was simply to stock up on extra picks in the up-coming draft(s).
Kansas City trades C Colin Smith to Vancouver for C Brandon Sutter.
- This was a trade of opportunity as I had the chance to get a decent (if overpaid) NHL forward for basically a career minor leaguer as a salary dump. Sutter is purely a defensive guy and not the type of center I need more of but adding him gives me the flexibility to move another center or even Sutter himself in another deal.
Kansas City trades C Torrey Mitchell, C Jacob Josefson and RW Jordan Nolan to Boston for C Ryan Spooner, RW Noel Acciari and LW Kenny Agostino.
- And there's the deal I was looking to make. Spooner has his warts but is exactly the type of "buy-low" skilled center I was hoping to obtain. He'll add a greatly improved playmaking element to my top line and he's still young enough to get better/bounce back. The cost was solid veteran depth as the trio I am sending to Boston all played regular roles for me while the two other guys coming with Spooner are fringe guys at best but easily worth it.
Kansas City Trades G Cam Ward and C Brandon Sutter to NY Islanders for G Jaroslav Halak, C Casey Cizikas and NY Islanders' 3rd and 4th round picks in 2018.
- For me this deal was mainly about getting a couple of extra picks in the draft. Halak for Ward is basically a wash - both veteran goalies who can start but aren't great at this stage. What made it for the Islanders was that Halak was unhappy while Ward gives them a more stable vet in net for the remainder of the season. Cizikas for Sutter was a swap of checking line centers - Cizikas gets more physically involved so I liked him a bit better anyways. The picks were the main thing though.
Kansas City trades G Chad Johnson, D Radek Simek, D Petteri Lindbohm and C Tim Clifton to Los Angeles for D Paul Ladue, G Jack Campbell, C Andrew Crescenzi and LW Matt Roy.
- I targeted Ladue in this deal because he wasn't getting much run in the Kings' line-up but has some good tools and upside and I think he can play a top 4 role in my defense. Johnson gives the Kings a good veteran backup to Quick while gaining Simek and Lindbohm means they really don't lose any depth on the blueline. Campbell will likely backup Halak in my new-look goalie tandem but hopefully that is short-lived because he's simply not NHL material.
Kansas City trades D Carl Gunnarsson to Winnipeg for Jets' 1st and 2nd round picks in 2018.
- I wasn't looking to deal Gunnarsson specifically as the veteran Swede has easily been my best and most reliable defender but I thought I'd offer him up for picks and the Jets came in with an offer way too good to refuse. Those picks will be late in the round as Winnipeg is a powerhouse looking to win the Cup this season but it's still great value. After dealing contract trouble-maker Trouba to Montreal for Pacrioretty, the Jets were looking for a low-maintanence vet to round out their defense and Gunnarsson fit the bill for them.
2017-18 POST-TRADE DEADLINE ROSTER:
Vladimir Tkachyov - Ryan Spooner - Joonas Donskoi
Mikkel Bodker - Case Cizikas - Phil Di Giuseppe
Austin Watson - Paul Carey - Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook - Oskar Sundqvist - Brandon Tanev
Jake Walman - Alex Petrovic
Brendan Dillon - Paul Ladue
Artyom Zub - Troy Stecher
Jaroslav Halak - Jack Campbell
- Squad goals for the remainder of the season include developing some chemsitry with my new top line, continuing to integrate some younger guys into the line-up now that I've dealt away a bunch of veteran depth (Walman has been quite impressive in around 15 games in the NHL thus far) and ultimately, trying to beat at least one of the "Original 31" in the standings. And hopefully then having good luck at the draft lotto!
2017-18 NOTABLE TRADES AROUND THE NHL:
I'll forgo the minor deals here and try to put some focus on major league-wide happenings:
Ottawa trades C Matt Duchene to Nashville for D Alexandre Carrier and rights to D Jacob Paquette
- Hilarious! After obtaining Turris in the 3-way deal with Ottawa and Colorado, Nashville went ahead and added the other major piece in Duchene to their line-up! With the Sens tanking in the standings and looking at a long-term rebuild, they didn't hesitate to send Duchene packing. Carrier is a nice young defender but this seems to be a huge net loss for Ottawa when looking at what they gave up for Duchene in the first place. With Johansen and Turris already at center, we could see the Preds move Duchene to RW to add more firepower to an already impressive line-up.
Ottawa trades C Derrick Brassard to Colorado for LW A.J. Greer and rights to C Igor Shvyrov
- And here the Sens are dealing with the Avs again - this time trading away their other top center in Brassard who will solidify the #2 center spot in Denver behind MacKinnon. Greer is a rough-and-tumble young forward who the Sens can plug in right away while Shvyrov is a talented wild card playing in the KHL. Still - no Turris, no Duchene and no Brassard for Ottawa and they probably didn't get a true blue-chip prospect out of the entire ordeal. Sens fans are irate!
Montreal trades D Shea Weber to Anaheim for D Marcus Pettersson, rights to C Maxime Comtois and Ducks' 2nd and 4th round picks in 2018.
- The Habs, like the Sens, are completely tanking and Weber was the first major piece they moved. He's getting older but WOW...what a defense the Ducks will have heading into the playoffs with Weber, Lindholm, Fowler, Manson and Montour. That is just flat-out scary good. Pettersson has some upside for Montreal and likely will be plugged in to their blueline right away while the hard-working Comtois is a recent 2nd round pick - he's a young Francophone center prospect which fits the bill in Montreal. Not a great haul for the Habs but they got a couple decent young pieces.
Vancouver trades D Erik Gudbranson to Pittsburgh for rights to D Clayton Phillips.
- Some rugged reinforcement for the Pens' blueline for the playoffs.
NY Islanders trade D Calvin de Haan to Winnipeg for rights to G Mikhail Berdin.
- For Winnipeg, the addition of the solid de Haan portends another deadline day move listed below. CDH was not willing to re-sign in New York so the Islanders got a good goalie prospect to add to their imrpessive goalie prospect stable.
Montreal trades LW Max Pacioretty to Winnipeg for D Jacob Trouba.
- Trouba had let Winnipeg know that he was looking for big bucks and Winnipeg was not looking to invest that much so they dealt him to Montreal and added Habs captain and perennial 30+ goal scorer Max Pacioretty in the process. MaxPac joins an already deadly Winnipeg offense featuring the likes of Scheifele, Wheeler, Laine, Little, Connor and Perreault while having already obtained de Haan (and to a lesser extent, Gunnarsson) - the Jets had addressed the blueline hole Trouba would leave. As for the Habs - their fans rejoiced as he is exactly the type of blueline building block that franchise needed, especially after dealing Weber. The Habs immediately re-signed Trouba to a 6-year extension worth $7.75 million per year. Big trade for both teams here!
Buffalo trades LW Evander Kane to San Jose for D Jeremy Roy and rights to D Mario Ferraro.
- Kane was known to be a malcontent in Buffalo but for a Sharks squad that is in contention and lacking offensive firepower, he was the perfect deadline pickup. The cost was a pair of young blueliners, both 2nd round draft picks with good potential for the rebuilding Sabres.
Detroit trades D Mike Green and rights to D Jordan Sambrook to Toronto for RW Kasperi Kapanen, D Rinat Valiev and the Leafs' 1st round pick in 2018.
- The impressive Leafs get their precious RHD upgrade with the veteran Green, who is still excellent offensively and who will take a bunch of pressure of their young blueline star Morgan Rielly. The rebuilding Wings get a good return with Kapanen plugging right into their line-up and having top 6 upside and a valuable 1st round pick.
Edmonton trades LW Pat Maroon to Washington for C Tobias Geisser and rights to D Benton Maas.
- The burly Maroon was not re-signing in Edmonton so the Oilers got what they could for him. He'll be a nice addition to the Caps in their title run. The bigger piece in the return for Edmonton is New Hampshire blueliner Maas who is having an impressive freshman season in Hockey East.
Vancouver trades RW Thomas Vanek to Los Angeles for rights to G Matt Villalta, Kings' 1st, 3rd and 4th round picks in 2018.
- Vanek is still a dangerous offensive player and a logical pick-up at the deadline for the contending Kings. The Canucks...well, they suck right now so a bunch of extra picks look really good.