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Moderator: Commish Team
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! At least one of the most wonderful times of the season. There are three days where a lot of action and excitement takes place: July 1st aka free agency, draft day and of course the trade deadline. It’s a fascinating time where GM’s either sell their fans/ownership on hope or admit that the season is a bust. The trade deadline is closing in and things are about to happen.
1. You can already tell the pressure is on some teams. The Florida Panthers traded for Anton Khudobin while Buffalo added two UFA’s to their roster. And of course the Anahiem Ducks making a big move for Radim Vrbata.
2. Neither of those are panic moves, but there’s no doubt there was a little bit of pressure involved. I’m sure we’ll see even more moves like that.
3. While there are three absolute sellers in the East, every other team could be a buyer. Buffalo is an example of being a buyer despite being out of playoffs though Buffalo best addition will be Ryan O’Reilly who is currently day-to-day and due to be back anytime soon.
4. Another bubble team is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who after trading for Giroux, have gone on a 4 game win streak. The best win streak in the Eastern Conference as of right now. The team is certainly skilled enough for playoffs but the question then becomes, is it too little, too late?
5. The Eastern Conference is as tight as ever. The last wild card team only has an 11 point advantage over the 11th/12th/13th teams in the East. And all three of those teams have games in hand which means that the gap could get very small, very quickly.
6. The West race is even tighter. The last wild card spot team will definitely be feeling the heat until the very end of the season. There are 5 points separating the last wild card team (Oilers) and the 11th place team (Coyotes) with the Stars and Wild both in the middle.
7. Like Tampa in the East, the Stars made a big trade that has pushed them in the playoff race. Patrick Marleau hasn’t been the best but 7PTS in 12GP is pretty good for a new addition. Stars GM Stephen has also added Mark Streit who is taking a bit of time to adjust but there’s still lots of time for him to become a factor.
8. The surprise team in the West is definitely the Edmonton Oilers. They are in a playoff spot, though holding it by a string, which is surprising considering the defense and goaltending. The reason for their current position is the recently strong play by Anders Nilsson and Rookie of the Month Connor McDavid.
9. And speaking of rookies, the rookie scoring race is slowly heating up. Duclair still holds the lead with 49 points but Max Domi, Jack Eichel, and Connor McDavid are all tied with 40 points.
10. On the topic of scoring can we just give Tarasenko the Art Ross trophy and the Maurice Richard Trophy? Heck might as well give him the Hart and Lester B. Pearson trophy as well. He leads the league in goals with a 10 goal separation. Along with leading the league in points with a 14 point separation.
11. Talking to WHL GM’s, some are watching the Detroit Red Wings very carefully. The Red Wings currently sit in the first wild card spot and are in a fight with the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic Division which is quite the change from when the Red Wings had planned on fighting for 2nd in the Atlantic.
12. They are also watching because one more bad stretch of hockey and the end of the longest playoff streak will be here. There’s no doubt the Red Wings will fight to the end but will Zack feel the need to add some more weapons to the squad?
13. It’s not crazy to see that the top 2 teams in the league could be Eastern Conference teams. The Panthers are 3 points behind the St. Louis Blues with 2 games in hand.
14. If we are handing out awards right away, might as give Carey Price the Vezina Trophy. He is the best goalie in the league and it’s not his defense doing work in front of him, it’s Carey Price.
15. Thinking on it again, it’s not hard to imagine seeing Carey Price win either the Hart or the Pearson. He is at 34 wins this season and is 12 away from tying the NHL record held by goaltending legend Martin Brodeur. Carey Price has 27 games to get 12 wins. Definitely not hard to imagine considering Price has only lost 9 games this season.
16. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly Loungo could get close to the record as well. Loungo currently sits at 31 wins on the season and is back from injury ready to go.
17. There have been some new GM additions around the league. Both the New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks have added new GM’s.
18. Word around the league is that the Blackhawks could make things very hard for the Blues in the playoffs now with the new GM.
19. The new Devils GM will be feeling some pressure. The trade deadline is the perfect time to start stealing assets from GM’s eager to be Stanley Cup contenders. Question is which assets should go and which should stay before time is up?
20. Here is some added pressure, the teams that don’t have their 1st round pick for the 2016 draft: San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators (possibly), and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
21. For those unable to count at home there are FIVE teams on that list that are currently not in the playoffs. The Nashville Predators have been having it rough recently and are in possible danger of slipping out of a playoff spot as well.
22. And of those five teams not in a playoff spot, four of those picks right now are top 10 picks. Some GM’s have some choices to make, either try and improve enough so their pick doesn’t do so well for the other team or forget about it completely.
23. Funnily enough the Blue Jackets only have two picks in the 2016 draft, a 6th and 7th rounder.
24. How about some early Norris trophy talk? Duncan Keith is the front runner for sure. The defenseman has 45 points in 57 games. He’s also currently the only defenseman with 40 points. Then there is a 4-way tie for 2nd in defensive scoring with 38 points each. And in that 4-way tie is 20yo Aaron Ekblad who is the youngest defenseman in the top 10 of scoring for defense.
25. Going back to draft talk for a moment, there’s been some debate over the top picks in the draft. Right now it’s a two horse race for the top pick between Auston Matthews and Jakob Chychrun. Both won the Bronze Medal with Team USA at the WJC.
26. It’s after those two picks that teams are debating on who to pick next. The two Finnish wingers are the prototypical forwards every team loves to have. Jesse Puljujarvi was 2nd in WJC scoring as a 17y/o. Patrick Laine is doing really well in his mens league.
27. Then there’s the two American’s playing in London, Max Jones and Matthew Tkachuk. Both players are helping London to a 2nd place finish in the OHL with 38 points each.
28. Either way this draft is filled with talent and many teams are going to be grinning when it’s their turn to pick.
29. Two thoughts left. I’ll use this one on thanking the commish and co. for putting this league together. It is booming and very enjoyable. Excellent work definitely deserves a raise. So take whatever you’re making and multiply it by 5. Add another thank you in for those who put together articles or stats and share them with the league. Hearing others opinions is always fun.
30. Last but not least, the possibility of three awards being given out at the award show, voted by the GM’s:
1. Best GM
2. Most improved
3. Best Trading GM
So start doing some research people.