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thejazz97

If you haven’t noticed, the Vancouver Canucks have a glut of centermen both now and for the future.
They sent young guns Dmitry Zhukenov and Joseph Labate down to Chicoutimi and Utica respectively, but for some reason there’s still a gazillion centers – okay, 11. 11 centers – vying for the jobs down the middle on the big club.
Out of those 11, three of those are Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat, and Brandon Sutter, who will presumably take the top three spots. Another spot can be removed for Brendan Gaunce, who’s good, consistent game will grab him a spot on the team while veteran Chris Higgins is out with a fractured foot. He’ll be filling in as left wing on the third line.

That brings us down to seven. Seven guys vying for one, maybe two spots. It were as if the depth chart was hosting its own Bachelor(ette) TV show. So who are these potential bottom-liners?

We’ll start off first with Linden Vey. He’s the only one on the team that is victim (or in this case, Vey-ctim. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) to more hate than Luca Sbisa. Brought in because Bo Horvat’s NHL status was questionable at the time, Vey started on the third line, then dropped down to the fourth line, and slowly became a rotation player who spent a fair bit of time in the press box. He worked on his conditioning over the summer, but his face-off game still seems a little weak.

Alex Friesen is next. He’s small – smaller than Vey, even. He has good skill, as he was a solid contributor in different ways to the Comets’ Calder Cup run this spring. But it is his size that sets him back. If he can show to play bigger than he is as well as win face-offs, Friesen shouldn’t have a problem making the cut. As opposed to being cut. From the team.

Adam Cracknell has looked nice in a Canucks jersey so far – scoring the game-winning goal in the Kraft Hockeyville game against the Sharks – but he’s a depth addition. He’s likely meant to take over Cal O’Reilly’s role as top centerman and leader in Utica along with Blair Jones.

Speaking of which, it’s Blair Jones! Jones has an absolute blast of a shot, and he’s not a half-bad skater either. He’s looked good (or at least, better than others) in the preseason games he’s played in. He’s a fairly good skater and could handle the fourth-line role if given to him. However, it depends on the play of others to see if his name will land in the fourth center role on the depth chart.

Making a name for himself as a Canucks top prospect, Cole Cassels gained a whole lot of fame this spring by shutting down Connor McDavid, playing through injury, and leading his team to a Memorial Cup championship. He’s got skills, no doubt about it. But in the preseason games he’s been in so far, he’s showed he does need experience in the minors. Although he’s shown promise, he’s also shown he needs a bit more time and experience in the minors. He’ll do nicely on a Utica team trying to outdo last year’s Western Conference championship. He’ll make the NHL next year, perhaps?

Jared McCann is standing out among the competition right now. He’s working hard, showcasing his skills, and is playing like a real NHLer. To boost his skills, playing in the AHL would be ideal. Unfortunately for management, McCann would have to be sent down to his OHL team because of his age. McCann does look like he could handle an NHL role, however, and if he’s consistent in the next three games or less, he’ll get at least the nine game tryout and potentially an NHL role.

Finally, there’s Brandon Prust. An acquisition in a controversial trade, Prust has looked somewhat decent in place of Zack Kassian. He brings toughness and leadership in the dressing room, which is what GMJB is looking for. He also happens to be pretty good at face-offs, boasting an average last year of 51.6%, a career average of 49.8%, and a career high of 60%, according to faceoffs.net. He’ll likely be 13th or even 14th forward, as he has to compete with Ronalds Kenins, Jake Virtanen, and McCann for a spot on the ice

Who would I place my money on for the role? As bad as it could be, Linden Vey. He’s got big-league experience and Coach Willie Desjardins loves him… for some reason. He’s not a bad prospect, but should not play center and would not look good as Horvat’s replacement. I’d love to see McCann or even Jones steal the spot. It would at the very least give the Canucks some new blood in the lineup.


Original article can be found here.

thejazz97

It’s been a pretty interesting pre-season so far for the Vancouver Canucks. So who’s done what?

Well, the Canucks have scored one goal in two games against the San Jose Sharks. Goaltenders Jacob Markstrom and Richard Bachman have looked stellar in their game in Colwood, BC, while verteran Ryan Miller and prospect (is he still a prospect?) Joe Cannata were decent but let in a pair each in Game #2 at Rogers. It’s expected that Bachman and Cannata will be sent down to the Utica Comets.

As for the rookies, almost all of them surprised. Jake Virtanen, the Canucks’ 1st pick (6th overall) in 2014, has had a couple good shifts thus far, but has been almost invisible for the rest of his play. Hunter Shinkaruk and Jared McCann are pushing hard for spots on the team, and with the way McCann is playing, he may even get nine games. From what I’ve seen of Cole Cassels – he’s really unnoticeable – he has shown flashes of being a great top 9 one day, but needs a season or two in Utica to get, er, seasoned. Nicklas Jensen is showing flashes of his potential, as always. Meanwhile, Brendan Gaunce and Ben Hutton have just continued to improve people’s perceptions since the YoungStars tournament. Gaunce has gotten quicker and is getting to the puck more – complimenting his cerebral game nicely – and with Chris Higgins out for at least three weeks with a fractured ankle, there’s a good chance Gaunce will be tapped to fill his spot to start the season. Meanwhile, Hutton is edging himself up the depth chart with crafty and creative play. So much so that he got fellow YoungStar standout Jordan Subban sent off to Europe to participate in training camp with the rest of the Comets without Subban playing a game!

Speaking of Subban and getting sent down, a total of 15 players have been sent down since training camp in Prince George: Anton Cederholm, Travis Ehrhardt, Dane Fox, John Kurtz, Evan McEneny, Ashton Sautner, Mackenze Stewart, Subban, Clay Witt, and Mike Zalewski were all sent to play for Utica, while Guillame Brisebois, Carl Neill, Tate Olson, Kyle Pettit, and Dmitry Zhukenov were all sent to their respective CHL teams.

As for roster players, none of them have looked bad, per se, but certainly no one has stood out to me. Linden Vey is showing he could be someone, but he’s not there yet. Chris Higgins looked great until he took a shot to the leg. The Sedins are playing with Ronalds Kenins, which seems to be working – if by working, you mean looking good but scoring no goals. Jannik Hansen is still speedy as ever. Bo Horvat has had a couple good chances to score, but has looked both good and not-so-good off the puck as well, although that will improve as the season goes on. Brandon Prust and Derek Dorsett have been okay.
Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber, and Dan Hamhuis are back at it and looking better than ever they have in the past. Meanwhile Luca Sbisa is forever trying to find himself a new partner in either Matt Bartkowski, Andrey Pedan, Alex Biega, Frank Corrado, or Ben Hutton. It will likely be Bartkowski and Corrado taking up the 6/7 D spot on the depth chart, but Hutton is there and could move past a few defenders if management likes what they see.

Players like Adam Cracknell (the lone goal-scorer against the Sharks) and Blair Jones have also exceeded my expectations. Jones has a great shot and Cracknell seems to be the replacement for Cal O’Reilly that Utica needs.

Again, it’s only pre-season, so the sky isn’t falling and the Stanley Cup doesn’t hinge on the next two games. But anything could happen in these next couple weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see who plays with who and what moves take place.

Original article can be found here.

thejazz97

There’s been a lot of questioning of Jim Benning’s decisions lately.

First with the Eddie Lack trade, then with the Kevin Bieksa non-trade to San Jose, then the Zack Kassian trade, and then most recently with the Bonino trade (which I addressed in my last post). Benning’s been beginning to clean house, no doubt about it.

Here is the Canucks’ lineup, from last year to this year:

screen-shot-2015-08-11-at-6-18-52-am.png?w=300&h=264 screen-shot-2015-08-11-at-6-19-12-am.png?w=300&h=282


The first line and the top two defensive pairings would be the exact same, the second line would be faster and youth-infused, the third line’s defensive responsibility with the addition of Brandon Sutter, and the fourth line would just be a smash show. Hits, hits, hits, baby.

While the team’s average age has jumped almost a year (which, it makes sense if you think about it), Benning has done his best to replace his older vets with younger players such as Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Linden Vey, Frank Corrado, and Sutter if you count him as younger – he’s 26. This year’s group looks faster, grittier, and definitely scorier than last year’s group.

The forwards will consist of much of the same group as last season: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Horvat, and Derek Dorsett are all locks to start the season on the Canucks. Meanwhile, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, and Alex Burrows are pretty much guaranteed to start the season in the NHL – however, if a prospect outdoes them in camp, they could very much find themselves on another team to start October. Finally, a seeming upgrade on Bieksa, Kassian, Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias, and Nick Bonino is the aforementioned Baertschi, Corrado, and Sutter (who provide depth and scoring), as well as other newcomers Brandon Prust and Ronalds Kenins, who will each look to secure a spot on the fourth line.

As a prelude to the defensive analysis, here are the bottom defensive pairings become the ones with the best possession numbers from last year:

screen-shot-2015-03-18-at-2-25-31-pm.png?w=300&h=191
Via Pass It To Bulis.

Interestingly, the defensive pairings this year coordinate with the the top three pairings in Corsi-For %. As giveaways were noticeably a problem last year (I see you, Sbisa), you have to wonder if perhaps Benning let Bieksa, Adam Clendening, and Ryan Stanton go for a reason – however, Matt Bartkowski’s fancy stats numbers aren’t all that impressive either. Alex Edler will look to improve on his last few seasons, and perhaps reclaim the D-man scoring crown from surprising Yannick Weber, who only two years ago was being used as a fourth line forward. On the other end of that pairing, defensive stud Chris Tanev will once again anchor his offensive counterpart. Luca Sbisa showed signs of being a decent defender last year, but will end up on the bottom pairing or even the trade block if he hasn’t improved his game during the offseason. And then there’s Dan Hamhuis. Probably the most mature member of the Canucks’ defense, Hamhuis will likely step into a leadership role now that funnyman Bieksa is gone – if he hasn’t already. He’ll likely be on the second pairing with Weber, as those two worked somewhat well together last year.

In the goaltending area, Ryan Miller has a new, young goalie to mentor – Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom absolutely torched the AHL last year with a remarkable 1.88 GAA and saved 93.4% of the shots taken on him, earning him the starter’s spot in the AHL All-Star Game. While Markstrom’s numbers were less than decent in his NHL games last season, Benning believes that he’s ready to at least play backup in the big league. Meanwhile, Miller will try to repeat last season – without getting injured, that is. Barring any more surprises, Richard Bachman and Joe Cannata will tend net in Utica although they have signed Clay Witt to give more competition and perhaps backup if an NHLer is injured and triggers the line of call-up dominoes.

Now, which prospects have a chance to upset the balance and earn a roster spot?

Hunter Shinkaruk, for starters. He’s almost made the roster two years in a row, and if he can out-muscle Chris Higgins (doubtful with those abs, but nothing’s impossible), Brendan Gaunce is another forward in the same position, having really found himself last season with Utica. The 6’5, 200 lb Alexandre Grenier and the somewhat smaller but more forceful Jake Virtanen will be competing for jobs on the right wing, while Cole Cassels, Alex Friesen, and Jared McCann will all push for a job at center. McCann and Virtanen will be sent back to junior if they don’t make the team.

On defense, names like Jordan Subban, Andrey Pedan, and Ben Hutton come to mind as to which prospects have the best chance to make a move to the big leagues – however, while they are all skilled players, it’s highly unlikely any of them will start the year other than in Utica.

The extremely-doubtful-but-really-cool-if-they-made-it pack also includes 2015 draftees Guillame Brisebois and Dmitry Zhukenov, who have loads of potential but need time in the minors. While they may end up getting some pre-season games, they both have a 99% chance of getting sent down to the QMJHL.

Of course, the YoungStars tournament is still a few days away (September 11), and we could see some surprising prospects there, but there likely won’t be too many if any changes at all to the current roster.



Original article published here.

thejazz97

As most Canucks fans know by now, Jim Benning has shipped Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a 2nd round pick to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter and a conditional 3rd round pick.

To say this was an unexpected move would be an understatement.

Some might look at the preliminary facts and grumble, saying “Oh, Benning doesn’t know what he’s doing”.

And yes, Nick Bonino provided more offense than Brandon Sutter did last season.

But what Benning is doing here is restructuring his lineup. Bo Horvat had all but won the No. 2 Center job for this season by April, as many note that Bonino was becoming slow and a bit of a non-factor for the Canucks. And with Matthias and Richardson gone, it’s now his to lose.

Sutter will likely take the 3C duties as he is bigger and more defensively sound than both Bonino and Horvat and will provide a more physical presence to the game. Sutter was 51% on draws (as opposed to Bonino’s 47%) and overall is a better 2-way player. Another viewpoint of this trade is that Sutter, being a UFA at the end of the season, will have a value to playoff teams, if the Canucks are not one themselves.
6-foot-3 and a faceoff winner is definitely something teams look for in the spring.

Where the trade gets a bit shaky is at Adam Clendening. Someone that looked really good in both the
NHL and the AHL and who Benning praised as a Top-4 defenseman is suddenly a throw-in in a deal for size. But no worries. Not only is the roster continuing to be shaped here (Corrado no longer has to fight for a spot with Clendening), but we got him for a 5th round pick in the first place – and if Chicago is giving him up for a 5th, then something’s up – meaning that there’s not much value lost. For Vancouver, this deal ends up being Nick Bonino, a late 2nd, and a 5th for Sutter and a 3rd… not a terrible deal – on paper, at least.

As always, we can only watch and see how this one plays out. I wish the best of luck to Nick and Adam in Pittsburgh, and hope that Brandon Sutter can be the player we need him to be.

And you never know, that pick might turn into something special, too.


Article originally posted here.

thejazz97

Original article can be found here.

Let me forewarn, er, myself – this is kind of a taboo topic to be on. However, it’s one we’ll need to end up coming to eventually.

I choose to let go of what Mark Messier did. Granted, 99.99% of my memories happen during or after the West Coast Express era. And granted, most if not all Canucks fans would like to see him in a position constantly in the position he’s in here. And granted, again, his signing resulted in the trading of fan-favourites Trevor Linden and Gino Odjick, among many others. But it’s been 15 years since the so-called “bad” man left, and I, for one, choose to give up the animosity towards him that automatically comes with being a Canucks fan.

So where do we start?

The truth in this whole matter is that he just wasn’t fit for the contract he was given. Mark Messier was a great leader at times during his career (Six Stanley Cups, Two as team captain), but he had also completed 19 seasons of gritty NHL play – not to mention one year in the WHA – before he came to Vancouver’s team. Was that worth $6,000,000? Not in hindsight, but to Canucks’ management at the time, it was brilliant. Here was a multi-time Cup champ who had been a Point-Per-Game all but three seasons in a long and storied career signing with a team that, while stacked, was underachieving and needed a jumpstart.

Unfortunately for the Canucks and their fans, Messier was not the same player he was before, nor did he seem to put in enough effort. Player after player was traded as the Canucks dug their way to the bottom of the league in the three seasons Messier existed on the team.

What people need to know is that his first season on the Left Coast was the beginning of the end. Messier never again reached PPG levels, and in his first season back with the New York Rangers, he took more PIMs than he did in any season with the Canucks and had the worst +/- rating (-25) of his career. Messier was obviously declining. And thank God for that.

If Messier had never been signed, Linden, Odjick, Bure, Mogilny, and others wouldn’t have been traded at the times they were. The Canucks wouldn’t have sunk so far so fast, and they never would have gotten in a position to draft the Sedin twins. As far as the West Coast Express era, the Luongo era, the 2011 Cup run, and currently the Jim Benning era goes, you can imagine what they’d be like without the Sedins – if they’d even have existed at all. The Canucks might not even be in Vancouver today if it wasn’t for the signing of Messier. Even Markus Naslund claimed to have benefitted from playing with him.

Don’t get me wrong – it was a tough era for Canucks fans everywhere, and still is painful to look back on for a lot of us. But when you see all the great things that came out of it, à la the domino effect, it really makes me want to appreciate all that Mark Messier did (or didn’t do) for this franchise.
If people choose to hold a grudge against Mark Messier, that’s perfectly understandable. Hey, maybe I’ll even join in on the jokes sometime. That bubble helmet deserves some humorous recognition.

But Messier was, and still is, a legend. He’s helped out every team he played for – it just so happens that his involvement with the Canucks didn’t end in them winning a Cup. While his stat lines with Vancouver may have been some of the worst of his career, the benefits of his being on the Canucks are still felt on the team today. If we can remember him not for how he played, but for what his tenure here brought to the team, we might be able to look back at the late 90s with a sense of gratefulness, rather than a sense of shame.

thejazz97

A lot of people seem to be disappointed with this year's draft. Why?

We'll start off with the players picked in the draft using picks the Canucks traded:

Rasmus Andersson, D (CGY)
Deven Sideroff, F (ANA)
Jack Sadek, D (MIN)

Rasmus Andersson, a Barrie Colts defenseman who performed extremely well and captured the hearts of many a Canucks fan, was the return Calgary got in the Sven Bärtschi trade.

Deven Sideroff is a speedy right winger who had a few Canucks fans intrigued, but most wanted another player at his position. The pick used on him was acquired by Anaheim in the Ryan Kesler trade, where the Canucks received Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and two picks: one was used to draft Jared McCann, while the other was traded to New York for Derek Dorsett.

Jack Sadek is a defenseman who I myself wanted the Canucks to draft (I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointed that Jim Benning picked Adam Gaudette over Sadek). The pick originated in the Jason Garrison trade (Along with Jeff Costello) and headed to Tampa Bay, where Lightning GM Steve Yzerman moved up to Minnesota's spot to select Moose Jaw Warrior Brayden Point. The 2nd round pick coming back from Tampa was used to acquire Linden Vey from the LA Kings.


Our selections from the draft include:

Brock Boeser, F
Guillame Brisebois, D
Dmitry Zhukenov, F
Carl Neill, D
Adam Gaudette, F
Lukas Jasek, F
Tate Olson, D

Brock Boeser, Dmitry Zhukenov, Carl Neill, and Lukas Jasek were all picked using draft picks that originated with the Canucks. All 4 look like they could make the Canucks one day. Boeser looks like he could be an elite scorer, Neill needs to improve and is a wild card, and Jasek has Top 9 potential. The one that could change the way people look at this draft is Zhukenov, as Benning has said he's seen Datsyuk in the young gun. Everyone hopes he reaches that potential.

Guillame Brisebois was acquired along with Carolina's 7th Rd. Pick in 2016 from the Hurricanes in exchange for Eddie Lack. He's a decent defender who needs to work on everything a bit more, but definitely has a shot at making the roster.

The pick used to select Adam Gaudette was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers where the Blueshirts acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz (who is now with Calgary). Gaudette is a project, but could have some rewards.

Tate Olson was selected with Tampa Bay's 7th rounder, which was acquired by the Canucks in a deal with San Jose for Patrick McNally. McNally, while showing promise, was deemed redundant in the Canucks' system by Benning and others on the management team.


In summary, here's a look at all the players involved in this draft both coming to the Canucks and leaving it:

Players we gave up that were involved in the 2015 NHL Draft:
Rasmus Andersson, F (CGY)
Jeff Costello, F (TBL)
Raphael Diaz, D (CGY)
Jason Garrison, D (TBL)
Ryan Kesler, F (ANA)
Eddie Lack, G (CAR)
Patrick McNally, D (SJS)
Jack Sadek, D (MIN)
Deven Sideroff, F (ANA)

Players we acquired involved in the 2015 NHL Draft:
Sven Bärtschi, F
Nick Bonino, F
Brock Boeser, F
Guillame Brisebois, D
Derek Dorsett, F
Adam Gaudette, F
Lukas Jasek, F
Jared McCann, F
Carl Neill, D
Tate Olson, D
Luca Sbisa, D
Linden Vey, F
Dmitri Zhukenov, F
7th Round Pick, 2016 (CAR)

Of course, it will be years until a definitive answer can be given regarding this draft. However, looking at what we got compared to what we gave up, I can say, without a doubt, that the future does indeed look bright in Vancouver following the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

thejazz97

With less than 10 days to go before 30 new players graduate into pro hockey, here is my final mock draft projecting where I think the top young guns may go. As I did with my last mock draft, I'll include honourable mentions for the Top 10.

1. Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid, C

Why pass on the number one talent in the draft? McDavid has decent size, an insane amount of speed, and a great shot with high scoring capabilities.



Eliteprospects.com: "A generational talent, Connor McDavid is a catalyst for positive plays in all three zones. Thinks the game analytically and recognizes scoring chances before they have even happened. Blessed with good size and an elite-level skillset, which includes nimble skating and deft puckhandling. All-in-all, a dominant center with all of the will, power, and intangibles to become a successful hockey luminary."

Hockeysfuture.com: "McDavid is considered to be one of the best players available for the NHL Draft since Sidney Crosby was chosen first overall back in 2005. His skating, shot and hockey IQ are all at an advanced level, and he has the ability to make other players around him better. Although more noted for his offensive skills, McDavid can be used in any situation. He is certainly the most NHL-ready prospect from the 2015 class."

Honourable Mention: Jack Eichel, C



2. Buffalo Sabres - Jack Eichel, C

To further their rebuild, a 1-2-3 punch of Eichel, Reinhart, and Girgensons will be extremely tough to beat over the next several years. There is the concern that Eichel may return to college, but he's still the #2 consensus pick nonetheless.



Eliteprospects.com: "When Jack Eichel is on the ice, the pace of the play shifts; if players can't keep up, they are left behind. A consistent scoring threat on the ice, Eichel possesses next-level hockey-IQ, an elite-level skillset, and the natural size and work ethic to let him play his role as a scoring power center. All-in-all, Jack Eichel is that uncontainable, dynamic center that can make other players look out of place in his wake."

Hockeysfuture.com: "While Eichel may not be quite the high-end talent that Connor McDavid is, he is very close. Eichel has the ability to control the game with a high hockey IQ, a good, powerful skating stride, and offensive skills that are second to none among American prospects for the 2015 draft. Eichel has good strength, allowing him to win battles for the puck and control it in space. He may be guilty of trying to do too much at times, but there is little doubt that he will be a top player once he arrives in the NHL."

Honourable Mention: Dylan Strome, C



3. Arizona Coyotes - Mikko Rantanen, R

While some may have picked Marner or Strome here, I think the 'Yotes will go with the top Euro skater in the draft. He's said to be NHL-ready and could help Arizona out with scoring difficulties as soon as the 2015-16 season.



Eliteprospects.com: "An exceptionally talented playmaker and always a consistent threat on the ice; Rantanen is a combination of elite-level hockey sense, silky smooth hands, and nimble skating. Needs to improve his shot and physical play, as he doesn't take advantage of his size in many situations. All-in-all, an intelligent, big-bodied forward that oozes skill."

Hockeysfuture.com: "Rantanen has the size of a power forward, but plays like an energetic and enigmatic skilled winger. He has incredible hands for his size, darting in-and-out of traffic with ease. Rantanen has been regarded as potentially ready for NHL action right away, a testament to his superb skill and complete game."

Honourable Mention: Mitch Marner, C



4. Toronto Maple Leafs - Dylan Strome, C

Another center that's tough to pass on, let alone a homegrown one. The Mississauga, ON native was the top scorer in the OHL this past season, and looks like he could be one in the NHL one day soon as well.



Eliteprospects.com: "It's hard not to think of someone like Ryan Getzlaf when you watch Dylan Strome. His large frame, industrious work ethic, erratic shot, and powerful skating ability are all characteristics shared with the Anaheim Ducks captain. While it remains to see if he ever reaches such a level, Dylan Strome certainly has the potential to be a cornerstone-type player."

Hockeysfuture.com: "At 6’3” and 185 pounds, the Mississauga, ON native is capable of using his body to maneuver into good scoring position. And once he’s there, he knows what to do with the puck as he finished the year with 45 goals and a league-leading 129 points in 68 games. His performance waned a bit in the playoffs (if you can call a mere PPG performance as waning), but Strome’s an intriguing mix of size and skill."

Honourable Mention: Mitch Marner, C



5. Carolina Hurricanes - Noah Hanifin, D

As the top-ranked d-man in this draft by many people, it should come as no surprise that he doesn't leave the top 5 spots. While Carolina does need scoring, Hanifin is a prospect that is tough to pass on.



Eliteprospects.com: "Noah Hanifin is a star in the making. A true two-way player that coaches want to leave on the ice as long as they have juice left. His game is reminiscent to that of the NHL player Drew Doughty: a truly versatile defenseman and a catalyst for positive happenings at both ends of the ice."

Hockeysfuture.com: "Hanifin is a smooth-skating defender with good size and acceleration who can generate some offense from the blueline but is also solid defensively. Although not a truly physical defenseman, he does not shy away form contact and will initiate it when necessary. Hanifin also has leadership qualities that could make NHL captain material down the road. Overall, he is an elite defender with few holes in his game."

Honourable Mention: Mitch Marner, C



6. New Jersey Devils - Mitch Marner, C

Marner has the potential to be a top-line center, something that New Jersey needs desperately. While small, Marner still has excellent scoring capabilities, and is a future 1C who may be put into the Devils lineup as soon as October. However, if Arizona or Toronto pick Marner, I fully expect to see NJD pick Strome.



Eliteprospects.com: "A dynamic offensive forward that backchecks hard and establishes his presence through playing smart, puck-possession hockey. A very quick skater gifted with great hands and hockey sense. Battles hard in all three zones and shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the puck to the back of the net; an unselfish player. Embodies the definition of a dynamic number-generating machine who makes the players around him better."

Hockeysfuture.com: "Marner has other-worldly vision and offensive gifts that just can’t be taught."

Honourable Mention: Pavel Zacha, C



7. Philadelphia Flyers - Lawson Crouse, L

Crouse is this year's Jake Virtanen. While the prospect has size and speed, he's not scored maybe as much as was expected and looks to translate into a strong power forward at the major league level.



Eliteprospects.com: "A big-bodied power winger with the ability to physically dominate, making him a prominent forechecking presence every night. Possesses good hands that can be used to make crisp passes or to let loose accurate, NHL-level shots; paired with his strength and skating ability, his skill set allows him to contribute offensively, as well as create space for teammates."

Hockeysfuture.com: "At 6’4” and 215 pounds, Crouse has an NHL-ready body right now. And he’s shown a willingness to play whatever role it takes to get him to the next level. His work with Team Canada as a fourth-liner was an important part of the team’s gold-medal performance...He’s not a finished product yet, but if that size and talent can be effectively harnessed, he’s going to be a solid power forward prospect for some NHL club."

Honourable Mention: Timo Meier, L



8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ivan Provorov, D

Many, many, many teams are coveting Ivan Provorov, and for good reason: He is likely the top offensive defenseman in this draft. He has NHL size, and, depending on the roster, could likely step in right away.



Eliteprospects.com: "An offensively gifted defenceman who can direct the game's pace when the puck is on his stick. Provorov is a quick and agile skater with an accurate release on his shot, which he can get off anywhere below the blue line; creates many chances on the power play and can even create offense during the penalty kill. Is an adroit and creative passer who knows how to use his teammates well. All-in-all, a complete defenceman who knows how goals are scored and executes accordingly."

Hockeysfuture.com: "Provorov demonstrates composure at both ends of the ice. He can find teammates effectively with outlet passes, but is confident and capable when carrying the puck out of his own end. He is physically capable of delivering punishment, but often tends to use smarts and positioning to separate opponents from the puck."

Honourable Mention: Zach Werenski, D



9. San Jose Sharks - Timo Meier, L

Meier is a big, young forward who could potentially take over for Joe Thornton once he retires or moves on. Meier has both size and scoring capability, something the Sharks are looking for.



Eliteprospects.com: "A physically dominant winger with the ability to play in a skill or character role. In the offensive end, Meier is very aware and gets himself into spaces where he can easily make seeing eye passes or snap hard, accurate shots. Can impact the game in a number of different ways, and is very consistent in his efforts. All-in-all, the kind of versatile player that you can put on a skill line, and trust to create dangerous chances, or on a shutdown line, and trust to help stop pucks from going into your net."

Hockeysfuture.com: "Unlike any player currently in the system, Timo Meier offers a unique blend of size, skill, and smarts that make him a worthy first round pick. Among the heavier forwards available in the draft, Meier puts his 6’1”, 210 pound frame to good use, often finishing checks and engaging in physical battles in all three zones."

Honourable Mention: Matthew Barzal, C



10. Colorado Avalanche - Zach Werenski, D

With all the forwards Colorado has taken early in recent years, it may be time to draft a great defenseman. Werenski is regarded by some to be the most NHL-ready defenseman in the draft. He's got good size, too.



Eliteprospects.com: "A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman that has a strong understanding of the game. Excels in key situations and is able to execute under pressure. Possesses good vision and awareness on the ice; uses his abilities to put offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. All-in-all, a very strong all-around defenceman that consistently brings his game every night."

Hockeysfuture.com: "While the Eagles have had a more difficult season than is normally the case, the play of Hanifin has not contributed to this down season. The Norwood, MA native has played as advertised, showing few holes in his game while taking care of business at both ends of the ice."

Honourable Mention: Evgeny Svechnikov, L



------------------------------------------------------------

11. Florida Panthers - Evgeny Svechnikov, L
12. Dallas Stars - Matthew Barzal, C
13. Los Angeles Kings - Kyle Connor, C
14. Boston Bruins - Pavel Zacha, C
15. Calgary Flames - Jake DeBrusk, L

------------------------------------------------------------

16. Edmonton Oilers - Matej Tomek, G
17. Winnipeg Jets - Travis Konecny, C
18. Ottawa Senators - Nick Merkley, R
19. Detroit Red Wings - Denis Guryanov, C
20. Minnesota Wild - Jansen Harkins, C

------------------------------------------------------------

21. Buffalo Sabres - Thomas Chabot, D
22. Washington Capitals - Paul Bittner, L
23. Vancouver Canucks - Jeremy Roy, D
24. Toronto Maple Leafs - Oliver Kylington, D
25. Winnipeg Jets - Jakub Zboril, D

------------------------------------------------------------

26. Montreal Canadiens - Joel Eriksson Ek, C
27. Anaheim Ducks - Brock Boeser, R
28. Tampa Bay Lightning - Noah Juulsen, D
29. Philadelphia Flyers - Daniel Sprong, R
30. Arizona Coyotes - Alexander Dergachev, C



Now, to address some things:

#3 - I took Rantanen over Strome, Marner, and Hanifin because he fits into the bona fide player category. In reality, they all do, but I think Rantanen has the best opportunity to jump to ARZ out of anyone, with CAR taking the next spot.

#11 - Svechnikov goes a bit early because the big 3 D-men are all taken (in my previous mock draft I had the Panthers selecting Provorov) and he will be able to replace Jagr's scoring when the Czech retires or moves on.

#14 - Can you imagine Zacha and Pastrnak playing on a line together one day? Zacha could replace Krejci on the second line in the nearish future.

#15 - DeBrusk goes a little bit high, as Calgary doesn't really have any pressing positional needs at the moment. DeBrusk isn't a terrible pick, and he'll fit right into Calgary's style.

#16 - Matej Tomek over Mackenzie Blackwood and Ilya Samsonov. It's been rumoured for a while that the Oilers will pick a goalie with their mid-round pick. While Blackwood and Samsonov should both transition quite well, it's Tomek that stood out to me, thus why I put him here. He seems to have more game-breaker potential than the other two.

#23-#25 - Roy vs Kylington vs Zboril. While none are bad picks, and any one of these three could go at any of these positions, I feel Jeremy Roy suits Benning's style more. Kylington will suit Babcock's system of processing prospects, and Zboril will look good in a Jets jersey.

thejazz97

The last few drafts have been extremely generous to the Canucks' prospect pool. While Bo Horvat (#9, 2013) has already graduated to the big club, names like Alexandre Grenier (#90, 2011), Brendan Gaunce (#26, 2012), Ben Hutton (#147), Hunter Shinkaruk (#24, 2013), Cole Cassels (#85), Jordan Subban (#115), Jake Virtanen (#6, 2014), Jared McCann (#24), Thatcher Demko (#36), and others are looking to push for spots in the coming years, and have started to show promise already.

The one problem with the list above? Only two (Hutton and Subban) are defenseman, and neither were taken during the first three rounds.

1. The Canucks first and foremost need is a game-changer on defense. With the defensive core growing older and slower, fresh blood is required to keep the team going without having to give up offensive talent. While trading up for Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov, or Zack Werenski may be an option, it is more likely that Jim Benning keeps the 23rd overall pick.

A few blueline options the Canucks' GM could take are:
Thomas Chabot: A reliable two-way defenseman who works hard shift in, shift out.
Jakub Zboril: A pretty complete blue liner who's not afraid to get physical.
Oliver Kylington: An average-sized defenseman with a good shot and good hockey sense.
Vince Dunn: An offensive d-man who does well with puck possession.
Jacob Larsson: Another two-way defender - patterns his game after OEL.

And even a couple more for the later rounds:
Caleb Jones: Seth's little brother is versatile, aggressive, and hard-working. Has a good shot too.
Loik Léveillé: Is a good skater with good eyes, and has some good offense too.


2. The next position the Canucks need to fill is on the Right Wing. Other than the aforementioned Virtanen, Grenier, and Nicklas Jensen (#29, 2011), the Canucks have zero right wing prospect depth. While the Left Wing is stacked with the likes of Shinkaruk, Gaunce, Sven Baertschi and others, the other side is not as blessed.

A few options Benning could take for RW in the 1st round are:
Brock Boeser: Is a natural goal-scorer and has quick release.
Denis Guryanov: A fast player on the right side, Guryanov could be a big scorer in the future.
Christian Fischer: A big, skilled winger with speed and the tools to turn into a power forward. A 1st may be a bit early for him though.

And in the later rounds:
Spencer Smallman: Is a gritty player, has size, and can handle the puck well.
Roope Hintz: Can be both a scorer and a playmaker, and has insane hockey-IQ.


3. Finally, Vancouver could choose to secure their future in net. It's not a terrible situation for the Canucks in net, as they have one or two of Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom, and last year's top-ranked goalie Demko in net for the next 15 years. However, if they wanted to, there is a goalie who stands out among the rest:

Ilya Samsonov: This Russian goaltender has size and models his game after Sergei Bobrovsky.

It's not ideal, as there are other needs to be filled first, but it's certainly possible and I'm sure it's something that Canucks fans wouldn't mind a few years down the road.

thejazz97

1. Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid, C McDavid is the obvious choice here, as he has absolutely destroyed the OHL and has garnered more hype than any other prospect over the last 10 years. Really not too much to say here. HM: Jack Eichel

2. Buffalo Sabres - Jack Eichel, C Again, Eichel is another obvious choice. Almost the McDavid of the NCAA, the BU centerman has a passionate fanbase and even a college linemate waiting for him in upstate New York. HM: Dylan Strome

3. Arizona Coyotes - Mitch Marner, C While Dylan Strome may have size, Marner has had the fortune to play with two other Coyotes prospects: Max Domi and Christian Dvorak. Marner has had fantastic success with the latter this past season, and if and when Arizona does indeed pick him, that success should continue on to the NHL. HM: Mikko Rantanen

4. Toronto Maple Leafs - Dylan Strome, C Not only is Strome a big centerman (something the leafs seem to be lacking), he's offensively skilled. Not to mention that the Otters center is from Mississauga, just south of the Maple Leafs' home. While Kadri and Bozak may have shown flashes of being a 1C, neither have truly acted the part, and Strome can fill that position in a year or two. HM: Noah Hanifin

5. Carolina Hurricanes - Mikko Rantanen, RW Rantanen is a big, skilled winger who fits nicely into the 'Canes' very weak RW prospect pool. Not only will he provide size, but he's an extremely skilled playmaker who is always a threat on the ice. A very covetable prospect indeed. HM: Noah Hanifin

6. New Jersey Devils - Pavel Zacha, C Zacha is big and skilled and a centerman - the exact type of player that the Devils need. However, he's had some troubles adapting to the North American game, and that could be something to watch out for. HM: Matthew Barzal

7. Philadelphia Flyers - Lawson Crouse, LW Crouse has huge upside and huge size, two things that the Flyers will be salivating over if he drops to their position. He was Kingston's top scorer and has a game that should translate well to the NHL. HM: Timo Meier

8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Noah Hanifin, D With top defensive prospect Mike Reilly leaving the organization, the Jackets will have a pretty gaping whole to fill. Who do they pick? The best defenseman in the draft, BC's Noah Hanifin. Hanifin shapes his game after Drew Doughty. HM: Ivan Provorov

9. San Jose Sharks - Timo Meier, LW Once again, this is a pick filling a positional need. San Jose has good prospect depth in all non-goalie positions, except for the left wing. Meier is a big forward who can score, something that will be relied on heavily in Pacific Division matchups. HM: Ivan Provorov

10. Colorado Avalanche - Zach Werenski, D Werenski is a big, solid defender who is able to play with men, as he's done very well playing in the NCAA with Michigan this year. The d-man will help out on the back end in future seasons. HM: Ivan Provorov

11. Florida Panthers - Ivan Provorov, D The Panthers gain an excellent puck-moving defenseman who can put up lots of points.

12. Dallas Stars - Kyle Connor, LW Dallas needs wingers, and Connor is decently sized and can score.

13. Los Angeles Kings - Jakub Zboril, D After the whole Slava Voynov incident, it might be time to pick a player who can replace him.

14. Boston Bruins - Evgeny Svechnikov, LW Svechnikov is a winger with great size and scoring ability.

15. Calgary Flames - Jake DeBrusk, LW Not physical and needs to bulk up but can definitely pot some goals for the youth movement in Cowtown.

16. Edmonton Oilers - Thomas Chabot, D After getting yet another forward with yet another 1st overall pick, Edmonton would be wise to choose the top defender.

17. Winnipeg Jets - Jansen Harkins, C The kid has heart, a lot in fact. He'll fit in perfectly with the raucous crowds at the MTS Centre.

18. Ottawa Senators - Nick Merkley, RW Merkley fills a lacking Ottawa RW prospect pool.

19. Detroit Red Wings - Denis Guryanov, W Guryanov is fast and big and has a knack for the net.

20. Minnesota Wild - Matthew Barzal, C The Wild snag a major dropper that was a point-per-game in the WHL.

21. Buffalo Sabres - Jeremy Roy, D Roy is a two-way defenseman that will add skill to the Buffalo system.

22. Washington Capitals - Travis Konecny, C Can play anywhere on the ice and can be a game breaker for whoever gets him.

23. Vancouver Canucks - Brock Boeser, RW Shoring up their RW prospect depth, Boeser is a goal-scorer by nature and is a great pick for a team that could use a few more goals.

24. Toronto Maple Leafs - Oliver Kylington, D Taking a chance on a player whose stock has dropped tremendously this season, Kylington could turn out to be the steal of the draft.

25. Winnipeg Jets - Daniel Sprong, RW This forward showed off his offensive skill in the Q, and has some defensive skill, too.

26. Montreal Canadiens - Alexander Dergachev, C Montreal adds another big center to their system.

27. Anaheim Ducks - Filip Chlapik, C Not the flashiest prospect, but should fit in well in Anaheim.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning - Noah Juulsen, D Tampa drafts a player who has quietly worked his way up the list.

29. Arizona Coyotes* - Vince Dunn, D Dunn is an offensive defenseman who works hard along the boards. Should work well with the Coyotes' system.

30. Philadelphia Flyers* - Joel Eriksson Ek, C A bigger player that has a good shot could add a useful tool to the Flyers' belt of centermen.

thejazz97

2015-scf-matchup-tbl-chi.jpg


Schedule:


Game 1: Chicago @ Tampa Bay | June 3, 2015

Game 2: Chicago @ Tampa Bay | June 6, 2015


Game 3: Tampa Bay @ Chicago | June 8, 2015

Game 4: Tampa Bay @ Chicago | June 10, 2015


Game 5*: Chicago @ Tampa Bay | June 13, 2015

Game 6*: Tampa Bay @ Chicago | June 15, 2015


Game 7*: Chicago @ Tampa Bay | June 17, 2015


*- May not be necessary


Journey to the Finals:



Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have dispatched the Detroit Red Wings (7 games), Montreal Canadiens (6 games), and the New York Rangers (7 games) while scoring 55 goals over the last 20 games (2.75 PPG) to enter into the final round of the playoffs with a record of 12-8.

Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks have sent the Nashville Predators (6 games), Minnesota Wild (4 games), and the Anaheim Ducks (7 games) packing, hitting the net a total of 55 times over the last 17 games (3.24 PPG) and leave the third round with an impressive 12-5 record.


Points Leaders:


1. Tyler Johnson

(12-9-21)


2. Patrick Kane

(10-10-20)


3. Nikita Kucherov

(9-10-19)


4. Jonathan Toews

(9-9-18)


5. Duncan Keith

(2-16-18)




How They Win:


Tampa Bay: For the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup, Steven Stamkos needs to score. The team captain didn't have a goal at all during the series against the Red Wings, and only has 7 in 20 games played. This team needs their top regular-season scorer to contribute in a big way if they're going to be bringing the Cup back to the Sunshine State.

Chicago: For the Blackhawks to win their third Cup in six seasons, Keith, Seabrook, and the rest of the supporting cast need to keep "The Triplets" (Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat) in check. The line has been brilliant all playoffs and their production in this series will make or break the Hawks' chance at the Stanley Cup.


Players to Watch:


Tyler Johnson (F, TBL): This has been Johnson's season. Tying Stamkos for the Lightning's points lead and then lighting up opposing goaltenders in the spring have catapulted the undrafted centerman to almost a household name. Even though #9 is small, he sure knows how to get the puck in the net and will be trying to every shift this series.

Brad Richards (F, CHI): Closer to the end of his career than the start of it, Richards is gearing up to take on the team he won the Cup with last in this year's Cup final. While it should be an emotional series for the veteran, it's whether or not he can turn that emotion into points that will help his team the most.

Jason Garrison (D, TBL): Garrison, a former Vancouver Canuck and Florida Panther, has a massive cannon of a shot that can rip pucks right to the net. If he can step up and deliver some heavy slappers, he could give his team the advantage.


Prediction:


Tampa Bay in 6 games. While Chicago is coming in hot after a big win against Anaheim, Tampa Bay has the right depth and toughness to make it through a gritty series with a solid and proven playoff team. With players like Killorn and Callahan making up some of the supporting cast, the Lightning have plenty of talent to call upon should they need to.

thejazz97

2015 Mock Draft: V2

I think this goes without saying for any mock draft, but if there's any trades during the draft, th just goes out the window. I tried to fit the player with the need, but I'd love to hear your guys' feedback!

1. Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid, C

2. Buffalo Sabres - Jack Eichel, C

3. Arizona Coyotes - Mitch Marner, C

4. Toronto Maple Leafs - Dylan Strome, C

5. Carolina Hurricanes - Noah Hanifin, D

6. New Jersey Devils - Lawson Crouse, LW

7. Philadelphia Flyers - Pavel Zacha, C

8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ivan Provorov, D

9. San Jose Sharks - Mikko Rantanen, RW

10. Colorado Avalanche - Timo Meier, LW

11. Florida Panthers - Zach Werenski, D

12. Dallas Stars - Matthew Barzal, C

13. Los Angeles Kings - Jakub Zboril, D

14. Boston Bruins - Kyle Connor, LW

15. Calgary Flames - Evgeny Svechnikov, LW

16. Edmonton Oilers - Thomas Chabot, D

17. Winnipeg Jets - Daniel Sprong, RW

18. Ottawa Senators - Nick Merkley, RW

19. Detroit Red Wings - Travis Konecny, C

20. Minnesota Wild - Jake DeBrusk, LW

21. Buffalo Sabres - Jacob Larsson, D

22. Washington Capitals - Filip Chlapik, C

23. Vancouver Canucks - Oliver Kylington, D

24. Toronto Maple Leafs - Ryan Pilon, D

25. Winnipeg Jets - Jeremy Roy, D

26. Montreal Canadiens - Alexander Dergachev, C

27. Arizona Coyotes* - Joel Eriksson Ek, C

28. Philadelphia Flyers* - Noah Juulsen, D

29. Anaheim Ducks* - Brock Boeser, RW

30. Tampa Bay Lightning* - Jansen Harkins, C

thejazz97

CGY-VAN Recap

Game 1: CGY 2-1

Game 2: VAN 4-1

Game 3: CGY 4-2

Game 4: CGY 3-1

Game 5: VAN 2-1

Game 6: CGY 7-4

Canucks' Three Stars of the Series

1. Bo Horvat (1-2-3, +1)

2. Daniel Sedin (2-1-3, +1)

3. Alexander Edler (0-3-3, +3)

Bo Horvat led the Canucks' charge in this year's first round exit against the Calgary Flames, scoring the first goal as well as quietly creating chances. Bo was noticeably Vancouver's best (and most consistently good) player.

Daniel Sedin lead the Vancouver Canucks in goals and shots, tied for the lead in points, and scored the Game 5-winning goal to keep this series alive.

Alexander Edler had three assists, creating many chances for the Canucks with a couple massive hits and a few nice passes.

Series Overview:

Ultimately, the Canucks didn't show up when they need to. Referee non-calls and a relative lack of fan energy didn't help, but the facts that the Canucks gave the puck away too often and they didn't capitalize on scoring chances are what dug them their grave. Vancouver was outhit and outplayed, and they weren't able to retaliate well.

What Went Well:

- Horvat showed why we traded Schneider for him

- Lack won a playoff game

- Miller won a playoff game in the West

- McMillan scored a goal!!!

What Went Wrong:

- Luca's Pizzas sold like hotcakes

- Ferland got into our boys' heads

- Lack (and Miller) couldn't handle the pressure of playing in Calgary

- Vrbata and the Sedins almost dropped off the face of the earth

Of course, there's more to each list, but these were the things that stuck out to me the most. There were lessons to be learned, issues to be addressed in the offseason, and valuable experience gained for the likes of Horvat, Baertschi, and Lack.

thejazz97

2015 Mock Draft: V1

Sorry, this won't be as exciting or punny as my power rankings, it'll just be the picks straight up. Edmonton getting 1st overall really took it out of me.

1. Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid, C

2. Buffalo Sabres - Jack Eichel, C

3. Arizona Coyotes - Mitch Marner, C

4. Toronto Maple Leafs - Dylan Strome, C

5. Carolina Hurricanes - Noah Hanifin, D

6. New Jersey Devils - Lawson Crouse, LW

7. Philadelphia Flyers - Matthew Barzal, C

8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ivan Provorov, D

9. San Jose Sharks - Pavel Zacha, C

10. Colorado Avalanche - Zack Werenski, D

11. Florida Panthers - Mikko Rantanen, RW

12. Dallas Stars - Oliver Kylington, D

13. Los Angeles Kings - Yevgeni Svechnikov, LW

14. Boston Bruins - Jordan Greenway, LW

15. Calgary Flames* - Jansen Harkins, C

16. Edmonton Oilers* - Timo Meier, RW/C

17. Winnipeg Jets* - Travis Konecny, C

18. Ottawa Senators* - Nicolas Meloche, D

19. Detroit Red Wings* - Nick Merkley, RW

20. Minnesota Wild* - Colin White, C

21. Buffalo Sabres* - Thomas Chabot, D

22. Washington Capitals* - Paul Bittner, LW

23. Vancouver Canucks* - Jeremy Roy, D

24. Philadelphia Flyers* - Joel Ek-Eriksson, C

25. Toronto Maple Leafs* - Kyle Connor, C

26. Tampa Bay Lightning* - Alexander Dergachev, C

27. Winnipeg Jets* - Jakub Zboril, D

28. Anaheim Ducks* - Brock Boeser, C

29. Montreal Canadiens* - Daniel Sprong, RW

30. Tampa Bay Lightning* - Noah Juulsen, D

* denotes draft position is subject to change

thejazz97

As of April 12.

1. New York Rangers

PR Pts: 76.3 | Avg Rank: 6th

The Rangers got their game back as a Christmas gift and have been performing amazingly ever since.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

PR Pts: 58.8 | Avg Rank: 1st

The Lightning have been the best team all year, and they look to thunder into the playoffs against the Red Wings.

3. St. Louis Blues

PR Pts: 51.6 | Avg Rank: 4th

No one's singing the Blues in St. Louis. In fact, they'll be watching them later this week.

4. Washington Capitals

PR Pts: 47.4 | Avg Rank: 12th

Ovechkin and Holtby cap off a great year for Washington.

5. Minnesota Wild

PR Pts: 43.2 | Avg Rank: 10th

The State of Hockey is in a state of frenzy after Minnesota clinched a spot in the first round.

6. Calgary Flames

PR Pts: 39.6 | Avg Rank: 13th

Lost to the Jets in the season finale, but still had a hot end to a great season.

7. Montreal Canadiens

PR Pts: 37.5 | Avg Rank: 11th

Les Habitants finished off an amazing season with a tight shootout win over arch-nemesis Toronto.

8. Vancouver Canucks

PR Pts: 37.2 | Avg Rank: 14th

In a whale of a finish against the Oilers, the comeback kids showed they still have it a couple years down the road.

9. Ottawa Senators

PR Pts: 36.0 | Avg Rank: 17th

They're having a Hull of a time down the stretch. (Oh wait, it's Gatineau now?)

10. Winnipeg Jets

PR Pts: 33.6 | Avg Rank: 18th

Landed in the playoffs with a Los Angeles loss. Should have fun against the Ducks.

11. Anaheim Ducks

PR Pts: 31.8 | Avg Rank: 7th

The Ducks waddled into the playoffs without much competition. Unfortunately for them, they'll be in a physical series against the Jets that might make them quack.

12. Chicago Blackhawks

PR Pts: 31.6 | Avg: 3rd

Lost some steam in the last ten, but still going strong against a weak Predators team.

13. Dallas Stars

PR Pts: 26.6 | Avg: 21st

The Stars' captain has won the Art Ross with a dominant finish. Now he can say, "Benn there, done that."

14. Los Angeles Kings

PR Pts: 26.5 | Avg: 15th

The reigning Cup champions have been dethroned. And apparently it's now total anarchy in the Kings' dressing room, too.

15. Nashville Predators

PR Pts: 26.0 | Avg: 2nd

The hunters are slowly becoming the hunted.

16. New York Islanders

PR Pts: 21.2 | Avg: 17th

The Islanders almost missed the playoffs, but managed to hang on and clinch a spot. No one Nassau that coming.

17. Detroit Red Wings

PR Pts: 21.2 | Avg: 8th

The Red Wings are hoping their game takes off in a potentially brutal series against the Lightning.

18. Boston Bruins

PR Pts: 19.5 | Avg: 19th

The Bruins are looking to paws for a moment and evaluate what went wrong.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets

PR Pts: 17.1 | Avg: 25th

Columbus sure came on strong down the stretch, it's just too bad that they lost so much before.

20. San Jose Sharks

PR Pts: 16.0 | Avg: 16th

There's always more fish in the sea for a Sharks franchise that's struggled all season for a playoff spot.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins

PR Pts: 15.0 | Avg: 5th

The Penguins managed to escape being seal'd out of the playoffs.

22. Colorado Avalanche

PR Pts: 12.6 | Avg: 26th

This season was a landslide of bad memories, buried under an avalanche of injuries and losses.

23. Florida Panthers

PR Pts: 6.5 | Avg: 23rd

What about Bob? If he hadn't been injured, this season might have been a different story. Now that he's back, they've won 9 of their last 10.

24. Philadelphia Flyers

PR Pts: 4.4 | Avg: 22nd

Philadelphia needs some brotherly love right now. And probably a hug.

25. Carolina Hurricanes

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 28th

Wasn't a totally stormy finish for Carolina, as they won 4 out of their last 10.

26. Edmonton Oilers

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 29th

Tried to be slick in their last game versus the Canucks, but couldn't clean it up.

27. Toronto Maple Leafs

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 20th

The Leafs and their staff are just a pile of wood and sticks right now: you know someone's going to get fired.

28. Arizona Coyotes

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 27th

The Coyotes will gladly desert this season.

29. Buffalo Sabres

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 30th

Less Sword in the Stone and more Dunder Mifflin Sabre.

30. New Jersey Devils

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 24th

Even the Sabres won more than one of their last 10 games of the season.

thejazz97

This year's playoffs, according to one writer from theScore, are going to be a gong show. And he's not wrong. With teams in the playoffs this year that weren't last year, such as Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Nashville, Washington, Ottawa, and the New York Islanders, it really is quite open as to who could take the Stanley Cup this year.

Now, while there might be a little bit of bias, There's a lot of bias toward my pick, as I think this could be Vancouver's year to win it all. Yes, I am a Canucks fan. But yes, the Canucks can definitely win the Cup this year, and here's three reasons why:

1. Our Coach

9967845.jpg

This last summer, John Tortorella, forever known (to me, at least) as "Hallway Invader John", was let go. Canucks fans everywhere were pleased, as last season was one wasted. His replacement? A man named Willie Desjardins from Climax, SK. This moustachioed coach wasn't any old coach, however. He'd just finished a Calder Cup run with the Texas Stars. And his winning record doesn't stop there. In fact, he's won in every league he's coached in. Now he's with Vancouver in a wide-open horse race for hockey's ultimate prize. Willie's record of winning should only spill over into the NHL, where he's done an excellent job not only with veterans like the Sedins, but young guns such as Bo Horvat and Zack Kassian as well. If he can carry this on into the playoffs, there's no doubt about the fact we'll go far.

2. Our Depth

Frank-Corrado.jpg

Our depth this year has been fantastic. Not only have we been able to supplement our oft-injured roster with the likes of Ronalds Kenins, Frank Corrado (above), Alex Biega, Brandon de Fazio, Sven Baertschi, Jacob Markstrom, and Adam Clendening, but the Utica Comets themselves have enough depth to carry on without them.

At goalie, we have two NHL starters in the NHL and two NHL backups in the AHL. With Ryan Miller out with a knee strain, Eddie Lack stepped up to the challenge and gave us plenty of wins, building up a better stat line almost than Miller. Markstrom came up to be Eddie's backup, and while he wasn't exactly stellar, he did manage a win and has been lights-out as a Second Team All-Star in Utica. While Markstrom was up with the big team, Joacim Eriksson kept the Comets afloat near the top of the AHL standings.

At defense, there were tons of injuries this year. Tons. Playing at least nine defensemen this year, all have stepped up and have been able to contribute with goals and hits to help the Canucks back to offense. While some started terribly (I'm looking at you, Luca), the defensive unit as a whole has improved to help keep Vancouver in games. With young guns Ben Hutton and Ashton Sautner signing PTOs with the Comets, this should provide the Canucks with sufficient depth in the playoffs, should they need it.

At forward, we haven't needed much depth, but when we have, guys like Kenins were able to step up and contribute hits and goals. A lot of his production has tapered off, but he still delivers big hits when needed. With Baertschi called up, and Shinkaruk and Conacher still in Utica scoring goals, our depth at forward is nothing to turn your nose up at. Once we get guys like Brad Richardson and Kassian back, our depth will help us get through a rough playoffs.

3. Radim Vrbata

VrbataFeatured-640x427.jpg

Likely the most underrated signing of the summer, Radim "The Dream" Vrbata (31-30-61,+4) has been a revelation for the Canucks. Playing with the Sedins for the first half of the season, Vrbata became a first-time all-star. Now playing on the second line, he has continued to provide offense for Vancouver.

The star right winger has not only performed on the power play with 12 goals, but even draws up plays for man-advantage situations as well. Reigniting the Sedins' magic and a friendship with junior teammate Alex Burrows, Vrbata has become well-loved by Canucks fans. If he can continue his scoring touch, he might just end up as the Conn Smythe winner if the Canucks win it all.

So what about you? Do you think there are any more reasons the Canucks could win the Cup?

And as always,

Go Canucks Go! :towel:

thejazz97

As of April 4.

1. New York Rangers

PR Pts: 61.8 | Avg Rank: 6th

At this time, a comparable would likely be the 2011-12 Canucks.

2. Chicago Blackhawks

PR Pts: 60.2 | Avg Rank: 3rd

Hossa seems to be getting along fine without his Kane.

3. Washington Capitals

PR Pts: 56.0 | Avg Rank: 12th

50! 50! 50!

4. Minnesota Wild

PR Pts: 51.8 | Avg Rank: 11th

The Wild have certainly lived up to their name these past few weeks. Dubnyk has been a pleasant surprise.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

PR Pts: 47.5 | Avg Rank: 1st

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Unfortunately, that hasn't been true for over half the teams they've played against.

6. St. Louis Blues

PR Pts: 43.5 | Avg Rank: 4th

While the Blues' fans have been yelling "TARASENKO!!!" this season, the teams the Blues have played against have been yelling "TARASENK-NO!!!"

7. Anaheim Ducks

PR Pts: 42.0 | Avg Rank: 7th

The only California team to have actually clinched a spot in the playoffs with a week left in the season.

8. Ottawa Senators

PR Pts: 39.2 | Avg Rank: 18th

The Hamburglar might have been stealing games for them the past few weeks, but it seems like now that it could have just been a flash in the pan.

9. Nashville Predators

PR Pts: 39.0 | Avg Rank: 2nd

Music City wasn't doing too well for the first few weeks after the trade deadline, but they've been able to change their tune since.

10. Vancouver Canucks

PR Pts: 33.6 | Avg Rank: 14th

The Canucks have been doing real good.

11. Winnipeg Jets

PR Pts: 30.0 | Avg Rank: 19th

These Jets better have some gas left in the tank, or else they'll crash and burn in the race for a playoff spot with the Kings and Flames.

12. Montreal Canadiens

PR Pts: 29.2 | Avg: 10th

Doing better in the standings than in my power rankings, Quebec's only team is looking to separate from the competition.

13. Los Angeles Kings

PR Pts: 29.0 | Avg: 15th

Once thought to be out of the playoffs just last week, the Kings have surged back and are looking to be crowned with a spot in the 1st round.

14. Calgary Flames

PR Pts: 25.2 | Avg: 13th

With captain and team MVP Mark Giordano gone for the season, Calgary is doing all they can to ensure they don't flame out.

15. San Jose Sharks

PR Pts: 22.0 | Avg: 16th

Too little, too late? While the Sharks are smelling blood against other teams right now, locker room issues seem to have taken a bite out of their season.

16. Boston Bruins

PR Pts: 21.2 | Avg: 17th

No one in Boston can bear the thought of their team missing the playoffs.

17. Pittsbugh Penguins

PR Pts: 18.3 | Avg: 5th

The race to the playoffs continues in March of the Penguins: The NHL Sequel.

18. Detroit Red Wings

PR Pts: 17.7 | Avg: 8th

The Wings sure wish they could fly their way out of losing 7 of their last 10.

19. Dallas Stars

PR Pts: 15.0 | Avg: 21st

They might not make the playoffs, but that doesn't mean opposing teams aren't getting Star-struck.

20. Florida Panthers

PR Pts: 12.5 | Avg: 23rd

The Panthers would have loved to finally pounce on a playoff spot again, but it slipped out of their grasp like a baby... whatever Panthers eat.

21. New York Islanders

PR Pts: 12.4 | Avg: 9th

These Islanders seem to be stranded with a bad record as of late.

22. Colorado Avalanche

PR Pts: 11.0 | Avg: 26th

Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

23. Columbus Blue Jackets

PR Pts: 8.1 | Avg: 25th

What about Bob? If he hadn't been injured, this season might have been a different story. Now that he's back, they've won 9 of their last 10.

24. Philadelphia Flyers

PR Pts: 6.0 | Avg: 22nd

Next year might be a better year to take a flyer on Philadelphia as a playoff team.

25. New Jersey Devils

PR Pts: 3.2 | Avg: 24th

For the most part, this has been a season from hell for the Devils.

26. Edmonton Oilers

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 29th

They've won five out of their last 10, but that won't stop this season from being another costly Oil spill.

27. Carolina Hurricanes

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 28th

The Hurricanes got rained out from playing in a tough division.

28. Toronto Maple Leafs

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 20th

They took hometown boy Drake's song and remixed it. It's now "Started from the Top and Now We're Here".

29. Arizona Coyotes

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 27th

They're howling out for a hero. McDavid? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

30. Buffalo Sabres

PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 30th

train-reck-gif-sandbox-1114369.gif

thejazz97

Hi all, I just wanted to take the time to introduce you to my style of Power Rankings. It's not perfect, but it does work out pretty well except in some instances.

The formula for Power Rank Points (or PR Pts. as I have it in my spreadsheet) is this:

(ROW+Goal Differential)*Last 10 Win %.

For the teams that have 0 or less PR Pts., it becomes somewhat skewed (such as when Edmonton and Buffalo had a 0 W% for a while this season), so I have to either evaluate it myself to rank the subpar teams.

I am currently working on getting the week-by-week rankings up to date (which should be completed by this next Sunday), and when that happens, I will post the week's rankings of March 29-April 4 here.

Sweet! Hope you all enjoy!

- Jazz

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