Thursday, August 16, 2018

Recent Contract Extensions (Aug 16)



I think the Nashville Predators are going to get themselves a pretty good season out of defenseman Ryan Ellis and that was before he signed an 8-year, $50 million extension on Tuesday.  Maybe some job security will make the guy play a whole lot better, but the Predators brass will certainly feel much better, now that the deal is done and dusted, before the story gets out of hand.

The now 27-year old got a late start to last season, thanks to a preseason knee injury, so he only played in 44 games, scoring 9 goals and 32 points.  That is certainly an impressive scoring rate for the blueliner, one that he would certainly like to keep up in the coming year.

Next up on the list for the Predators, deciding on what to do with Pekka Rinne, the next UFA of concern for next summer.

Oilers Lose Sekera Long-Term Again



Of course, the day before I actually had my projection posts set to publish, news came down of a major injury and I didn't find the time or the wherewithal to post about it before my schedule picked up that night.

The Edmonton Oilers announced that defenseman Andrej Sekera, who was already working himself back to 100% health after a knee injury finished his season off early and there was likely some extra work to work out the kinks... he suffers an Achilles injury, one that requires surgery.

The timetable for a return sets him back into the New Year, so he will be no good to anyone at the draft in September, which is a big hit for the Oilers and the hockey pool, as he has been a pretty good offensive player, when he has been healthy.

This injury now becomes an opportunity for someone to step up and take some minutes, but the most likely of the candidates is still unsigned in Darnell Nurse.  Right now, I've bumped Kevin Gravel into the healthy 23-man roster and given him another handful of points, but Nurse would be the guy to get some minutes and post some points, but the negotiations are still ongoing.  Sekera's projected number now gets cut in half, down to 15 points, well out of hockey pool range for an entire season.

Ducks and Kase Agree to Terms



The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed restricted free agent forward Ondrej Kase on Wednesday, giving him a 3-year deal, reportedly carrying a salary cap hit of $2.6 million in each season.

The 22-year old finished his second complete season with the Ducks in 2018, playing in 66 games, scoring 20 goals and 38 points, well within the hockey pool conversation.

The small-ish winger has found a good home with the Ducks, after being drafted late in 2014.  He has had some injury problems in the past and some up and down streaks, but he appears to be a regular roster player now, so you can certainly have him in your lists.

Looking forward, the young forward is certainly trending in the right direction and I could see him having a good third season in Anaheim, so I am boosting his projections up to the 45-point range, likely where I would be wanting to take him.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2019 Pool Projections

Well, it's quickly becoming a middle of August tradition on the blog, getting the pool projections out, taking yet another stab at publishing my numbers ahead of time.

So, let's go over the scoring system that I work with in my hockey pool draft... 1 point for a goal/assist, 2 points for a win/shutout.  I also like to base my numbers on 5-point ranges, because arbitrarily giving odd numbers just seems crazy, you can certainly be happy with ranges, kind of picking and choosing where you think you're going to see players.

As for considering who is pool worthy and who isn't... I like to base the worthiness on last year's pool participation, which was 25 teams of 8 forwards, 4 defensemen and a pair of goalies.  The top 200 (and ties) forwards, the top 100 defensemen and the top 50 goalies.  The forwards will be pool worthy into the 35-point range and up, the defensemen start at 25 points and head up, while the lowest goalie will be at 20 points.

Okay, so there you have it... you can click on the logos below to get to each team's specific post, if you'd like or the links on the right hand side of the page will also help you out.  Please enjoy and share, if you'd like.  I suppose, if you wanted to leave feedback, the comment section is always open too.

2019 Pool Projections: Anahem

In Anaheim, the Ducks had been pretty busy in the off-season, tinkering with their roster in the depth positions, trying to find some improvement that will match that pesky newcomer to the division, which plays in Vegas.  The biggest move of them all might have been bringing back the Mighty Ducks logo to their current jersey lineup, as they will have a retro look to their 25th NHL season.

The Ducks were a strong team in the 2018 season, relying heavily on the team game and a strong system, in front of a top quality goaltender.  Health played such a big part of that, since many of their top players spent some time on the shelf with injury, so the rest of the team really had to step up and work even harder to get the job done.  Anaheim finished 2nd in their division, because of all that hard work and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened, if everyone was healthy all year.

Moving on to 2019, the outlook is pretty good for healthy bodies, but there is some skepticism, as to whether or not they could actually stay healthy.  If there was some sort of guarantee that most of these guys would play 75+ games in a season, the numbers might be a little bit better, but I think I am more willing to hedge my bets and project the numbers that we'll actually see, more than the numbers that could happen with an unblemished season.  The numbers still aren't too bad, there are plenty of guys worth taking on this team, but it does come with a 'Buyer Beware' sticker slapped on.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
John Gibson G 75 N
Ryan Getzlaf F 70 N
Rickard Rakell F 65 N
Corey Perry F 55 N
Adam Henrique F 50 N
Jakob Silfverberg F 50 N
Cam Fowler D 45 N
Ryan Kesler F 40 N
Hampus Lindholm D 40 N
Andrew Cogliano F 35 N
Brandon Montour D 35 N
Troy Terry F 35 Y
Patrick Eaves F 30 N
Josh Manson D 30 N
Ryan Miller G 30 N
Brian Gibbons F 25 N
Sam Steel F 25 Y
Joseph Blandisi F 20 N
Carter Rowney F 10 N
Luke Schenn D 10 N
Andrej Sustr D 10 N
Korbinian Holzer D 5 N
Ben Street F 5 N

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

In the rookie watch department, I'm looking at Troy Terry to possibly step up and make an impact with the Ducks this season.  The well-decorated collegiate athlete has a national title under his belt, not to mention a World Juniors gold medal around his neck as well.

Before joining the Ducks last season, he finished his NCAA career with 14 goals and 48 points in 39 games and he played for USA at the PyeongChang Olympics.  This 20-year old seems to have a lot of the tools needed for play in the NHL, so it will definitely be interesting to see where he fits in.

First Round Picks

The initial round of projections did seat any Ducks in the 80+ point range for the designation of a possible opening round pick this year, but that isn't to say that the run of goaltending, which usually occurs early at the draft won't see a guy like John Gibson go that early.  I do have him right on the cusp of the role, but with a good backup behind him, there's no use in really over-extending the number one guy, if they don't have to.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The current count of pool worthy forwards for the Ducks is eight, but there is still some tinkering to be done there, where we could probably see that go a little bit higher.  It's much of the usual suspects, led by Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, asked to lead this group through another long grind of a season.  Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, Andre Gogliano and the rookie Troy Terry round out my worthy forwards on the list, as this squad should be pretty deep, when it comes to scoring again this year.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

I think the Ducks' blueline is still somewhat underrated today, as it continues to develop and produce at the top level.  Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm have been mainstays for a few seasons now for the Ducks and we all know them quite well, but both Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are emerging as very reliable hockey pool options as well.  All four of these guys really could add some pop to your pool team this year.

Goaltending Situation

Ryan Miller is set to be the backup for a second straight season in Anaheim, as the 38-year old winds down his NHL career in California.  I think he'll definitely be a worthy keeper and if all goes according to plan, the split should be much of the same as last season, where he pulled 28 appearances, winning 12.  He'll be among the worthy backups this year.

Team to Pick From Late?

If you've missed out on the pool worthy players early on in the draft and you're just looking for a reputable team to pick from late on in the draft, looking for that last forward or last defenseman, you might want to look past the Ducks, as the depth beyond is very questionable.  There could be a sleeper rookie in Sam Steel, if he can make the club on a regular basis, but that's certainly up in the air today.  You might be better suited elsewhere.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The Ducks are still short on pool worthy restricted free agent and another fringe player, in Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, both unsigned at the time of writing this post.  Neither should be looking for too big of contract this summer, but they just need to get a deal done.  My current projected 23-man roster does come in with $5.5 million in cap space to spare, so both should fit in there, no problem, but it will be a matter of what kind of deal do either of them expect.

Injuries

There were some reports out there in May, that Ryan Kesler and his wonky hip could be close to being done in the NHL, but some recent tweets from the agitating centre seem to suggest that he should be ready to go at training camp.  I would lean towards the player in this case and I'll keep my projection where it is for him, until he says otherwise.  Patrick Eaves is another player on the health bubble, after undergoing shoulder surgery before the end of the regular season.  His status remains unclear in the middle of the summer, but there does appear to be a chance that he'll arrive to the Ducks' lineup after the season gets started.

2019 Pool Projections: Arizona

Third jerseys are back!  There's nothing more exciting than the Arizona Coyotes bringing back the Kachina logo from their first season down in the desert.

With something old rolling into town, it may not have been a better time to drive some hype, than now, with a bunch of new faces and a little bit more excitement surrounding this club, moving into the 2019 season.

The Coyotes have been busy again in this off-season, still cleaning up some other team's messes here and there, but overall, they've seemingly found players that give the impression that they could be a little bit quicker and a little bit grittier on the ice, not very far off the initial model of the Vegas Golden Knights.  The Coyotes have had a lot longer to prepare, they have a number of draft picks in their system that are jumping at the chance to finally make it, but will they?

We've been writing off the Coyotes for a long time, some of had a little bit more hope than others at the start of some years and I'm not going to say that I will be one of those people right here and right now, but I will offer up the thought that it could be a possibility.

Maybe the better perspective would be, I think that they have improved their team, but dare I say how much?

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Alex Galchenyuk F 55 N
Clayton Keller F 55 S
Derek Stepan F 55 N
Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 50 N
Antti Raanta G 50 N
Jakob Chychrun D 35 N
Christian Dvorak F 35 N
Alex Goligoski D 35 N
Dylan Strome F 35 N
Jason Demers D 30 N
Michael Grabner F 30 N
Vinnie Hinostroza F 30 N
Darcy Kuemper G 30 N
Richard Panik F 30 N
Brendan Perlini F 30 N
Nick Cousins F 25 N
Lawson Crouse F 25 N
Christian Fischer F 25 S
Barrett Hayton F 25 Y
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 20 N
Jordan Oesterle D 20 N
Brad Richardson F 20 N
Kevin Connauton D 15 N
Josh Archibald F 10 S
Mario Kempe F 10 N
Adin Hill G 5 Y
Dakota Mermis D 5 Y
Trevor Murphy D 5 Y

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

The fall of Alex Galchenyuk in Montreal has been well-documented and arguably, fair in some points. Like, for instance, living up to expectations.  The 3rd overall pick in the 2012 entry draft has been far from living up to those high expectations in Montreal, but the counterpoint is that Montreal is a tough market to play in.

There in lies the intrigue of the move down to the desert, a much softer market to play in, but a market desperately in need for some flash and dash, something that Galchenyuk could certainly offer.  I think he could do really well in Arizona and he could have the players to play with too.

First Round Picks

As exciting as the Coyotes may or may not be this season, they still just don't seem to be the team that will harness the scoring abilities of some of their top players to their peak potential.  So, I wouldn't be looking for these guys in the opening round of the draft quite yet.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

There is real potential in these Coyotes to break through some of these projections that I have on them at the moment, as they are reasonably conservative today.  Clayton Keller's sophomore season does slide his numbers a little bit, but if there was a guy that could avoid the slump, it could be him.  Derek Stepan, Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome all have the potential to be reasonable forwards in the hockey pool, but the latter two might be better served as later picks.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The Arizona blueline, however, that does have some good pickups on it and these are the guys that might drive the bus, when the season is all said and done.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson was rewarded with a big contract extension in the off-season and he'll lead the way, for a group that includes Jakob Chychrun, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.  This group could be fairly impressive this season and a good one to pick from, if you can sneak them on late.

Goaltending Situation

The goaltending tandem of Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper still leaves a lot to be desired for me.  The belief is that Raanta can emerge as a number one guy and if he does stumble, Kuemper can be an adequate number two to fill in the gaps.  Both reputations come across as two career number two guys and there hasn't been much in either game to suggest that they can lift themselves or their team up to a winning level.  They'll win some games, but how many will they steal?

Team to Pick From Late?

There are certainly some guys on this team, which could have been considered sleeper picks on more established teams, like a Michael Grabner, Richard Panik or Niklas Hjalmarsson, but the Coyotes are still trying to find their identity in the league and in an exceptionally difficult division.  These guys could be the players that you might be looking for to sneak out some extra points, but they might be better left to the Waiver Draft, if you're going to pick them.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The strongest indicator about where the Coyotes are, in terms of a franchise, is that they are still taking on contracts to acquire future assets in the building process.  They just don't have the feel of a team that is ready to make that leap yet.  With a couple of injury deals on the books, I have them at a 25-man roster and they still are over $9.9 million away from the cap ceiling.  If they can start winning now, that would be quite the feat.

Injuries

One way to avoid the sophomore slump is to be injured through most of that season and that was how Jakob Chychrun got through his second year, undergoing major knee surgery before the end of the year.  Chychrun has some real upside to his game and his projected number is very positive, so we're keeping a close eye on his return to the ice, which should have already happened in the summer, as he makes his way to 100% health. 

2019 Pool Projections: Boston

The 2018 version of the Boston Bruins were somewhat of a guessing game at this point last season, but I thought there were some big positives to their inner-workings, their small signings and the prospects that were moving through the system.  Some of that really paid off for them, as they were a very difficult team to play against last season and they worked their way into a very solid playoff run.

The team is still turning over the guard a little bit, as there are still some names hanging around from days gone by, but that isn't to say that a guy like Zdeno Chara still isn't going to be a serviceable player at 41 years old.  Thankfully for the Bruins, they have done well to add some pieces on their blueline, to make sure that Chara isn't over-worked or over-exposed, and that keeps this team very viable, heading into the 2019 season.

The team's leadership is in pretty good shape, they are certainly not short on players that can lead in the dressing room and by example.  The downside, however, is that they do have a lot of young pieces on the projected roster below and if you have been following along with this blog or hockey pool for a number of years, you'll remember my consternation about sophomore players, especially for use on hockey pool teams.

For that very reason, I have added the "S" in the rookie column, to show sophomore players, noting them as possible risks.  The Bruins have a lot of these this year and as much as they could possibly band together, like Toronto's last season, there is an equal chance that the experiment may fall flat.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
David Pastrnak F 80 N
Brad Marchand F 75 N
Tuukka Rask G 70 N
Patrice Bergeron F 65 N
Torey Krug D 55 N
David Krejci F 55 N
Ryan Donato F 55 Y
Jake DeBrusk F 45 S
David Backes F 40 N
Danton Heinen F 35 S
Jaroslav Halak G 30 N
Charlie McAvoy D 30 S
Zdeno Chara D 20 N
John Moore D 20 N
Matt Grzelcyk D 20 S
Sean Kuraly F 20 S
Noel Acciari F 20 N
Kevan Miller D 15 N
Chris Wagner F 15 N
Brandon Carlo D 10 N
Adam McQuaid D 10 N
Anders Bjork F 10 S
Joakim Nordstrom F 10 N
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson F 10 Y
Jordan Szwarz F 5 N
Peter Cehlarik F 5 N
Colby Cave F 5 Y

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Of course, my intriguing player will be a rookie, not a sophomore in this case, as Ryan Donato will be expected to make this team out of training camp and have a pretty big impact on things moving forward.

At the end of the 2018 regular season, Donato came out of college and put on a show, playing in 12 games, scoring 5 goals and 9 points.  I'm not sure we could expect that kind of production for an entire 82-game season, but it's going to be some good numbers.  He'll definitely be one to watch this season.

First Round Picks

I think the Bruins have a few candidates that could be opening round picks in the hockey pool draft, but right now, there's only one player that I would feel comfortable with taking that high and that is forward David Pastrnak.  There isn't any other element to his game, other than scoring, which leads me to believe that his focus can keep him as high as a point-per-game pace.  The others just have something about them, that suggests that maybe they could give up some points to being a pest or not getting as many starts as usual, which has them down a bit on my list.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The Bruins are not short on forwards that could make an impact on your team, beyond the two that I've already mentioned here.  Brad Marchand has 1st round potential, but that's a horse you may not want to bet too much on too early, while Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are definitely good, but do have roles to play on the team.  The kids, that's where you could make some money.  Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen really came into their own last season and they might be able to sneak through a little bit, good ones to keep your eye on.  Oh yes, don't forget about David Backes, he only played 57 games last year and may slip down the list too.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

Due to the aging of captain Zdeno Chara and the stay at home nature of most of the other defenders for the Bruins, the only two I would be confident in choosing for my hockey pool team, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.  These two will likely have to carry the offensive load from the back end for the Bruins, probably hoping that they get a little bit more help from the others, but I would look for these two on the Boston power play.

Goaltending Situation

There's a new face in the Boston crease tandem, veteran keeper Jaroslav Halak, who will likely be the number two behind Tuukka Rask.  Halak was carrying the better part of the load for the Islanders last season and will be used to keep Rask fresh and healthy for the season.  It's an interesting tandem on paper and if it's used effectively, both should play a big role in the team's success.

Team to Pick From Late?

I have the Bruins scoring quite a few points, but it is spread out pretty thin down near the bottom, where quite a few players will be sharing the load, which makes them a pretty good team on the ice, but maybe not a great team to pick from late on in the draft, purely on their team game.  There could be a sleeper or two in this bunch, but they'd probably need a few things to happen in their lineup to get that to work out for them.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The Bruins are working with a solid projected roster, with a number of bubble players that could go in and/or out and they have about $4 million in cap space left to work with.  They don't have any outstanding restricted free agents left on their list, so they are likely to be done for the summer, in terms of signings.

Injuries

The Bruins were a hurting squad through the playoffs in the spring, but it doesn't sound like there was anything too pressing.  Nothing that some time off through the summer couldn't sort out anyways.  Looks like everyone has the all-clear heading into camp right now.

2019 Pool Projections: Buffalo

If you're here looking for last year's Buffalo Sabres, you won't find them.  Although there are some familiar faces, there are a lot of new ones kicking around and it will probably have a lot of people excited about the coming season... and so it should!

Not only were the Sabres so poor last year, that they did get the 1st overall pick in the draft, they've also been fortunate to see other kids in their system move closer to an everyday spot, they signed some key free agents to help shore up some soft spots and they were making trades, like it was nobody's business.

The trades probably had the bigger impact on the club, key deals with the Penguins, Blues and Hurricanes saw some key names come to town and as you'll see below, this truly is a much different team on paper.

When the summer is all said and done, the big question will be whether or not the management team has taken this last place team from 2018 and transformed it into something much better and that can possibly make a run for the playoffs.  Playing in the Metropolitan Division is already pretty difficult, overhauling the roster to have so many new faces could need a period of adjustment and there are so many other unforeseeable events that can occur in the long regular season as well.  I would say that the odds are stacked against the Sabres this year, but they'll definitely be making some strides in the right direction.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Jack Eichel F 75 N
Casey Mittelstadt F 60 Y
Jeff Skinner F 55 N
Rasmus Ristolainen D 50 N
Kyle Okposo F 45 N
Evan Rodrigues F 45 N
Rasmus Dahlin D 40 Y
Carter Hutton G 35 N
Jason Pominville F 35 N
Vladimir Sobotka F 35 N
Patrik Berglund F 35 N
Conor Sheary F 30 N
Linus Ullmark G 30 Y
Marco Scandella D 25 N
Johan Larsson F 25 N
Zemgus Girgensons F 20 N
Matt Hunwick D 20 N
Tage Thompson F 20 S
Scott Wilson F 15 N
Jake McCabe D 15 N
Nathan Beaulieu D 15 N
Zach Bogosian D 15 N
Alexander Nylander F 10 Y
Nicholas Baptiste F 5 S
Danny O'Regan F 5 Y
Matt Tennyson D 5 N
Matt Moulson F 5 N

Table last updated on August 13th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Everyone is going to be so enamored with Rasmus Dahlin, and rightfully so, that they will likely overlook a kid like Casey Mittlestadt, who is poised for big things in his NHL career.

The kid dazzled us all at the World Juniors, playing for the US, while not really putting up amazing numbers in college, which gives me the feeling that once he can establish himself firmly with some top end players, his talent will make everyone he plays with better and his numbers will be shooting up to the stars.

First Round Picks

The Sabres are close to having one, according to these projections, and if you felt so inclined, you could probably take the gamble on Jack Eichel nice and early, because he does have the talent to get there, his health has been a bit of a wild card in the early part of his career.  He was just under a point-per-game last year and with some more help around him, maybe he can get there.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The some more excitement probably comes from the pool worthy new faces that the Sabres have acquired at the forward position, the likes of Jeff Skinner, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund and Conor Sheary should all add a bit more flair to this side.  They join players already there, like Kyle Okposo, Evan Rodrigues and Jason Pominville, creating quite a formidable side and believe it or not, there's still more to come (see free agents below).

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

On defense, it's looking quite promising there as well.  They've already had Rasmus Ristolainen in place for some time and he's really hitting his stride now, but he'll be helped out with the wonder kid from the draft, Rasmus Dahlin and they should also get some good minutes from Marco Scandella as well.  Even the guys on the bubble have some upside, maybe if the Sabres start to play out of their skin, those guys will be worthy by the end of the year too.

Goaltending Situation

It's a brand new tandem in the Sabres crease this season and this could be the shakiest ground on the team.  Carter Hutton was added as a free agent and he has been close to being a number one and he'll get a good shot at it this year with the Sabres, but the team is also quite high on 25-year old keeper Linus Ullmark too.  I would say that Hutton will likely have the reins out of the gate, but keep an eye on Ullmark, he could surprise many with a late season push for the job.

Team to Pick From Late?

I probably won't recommend buying heavily into the Sabres at the draft this year, just because there are a lot of unknowns to this team.  It's pretty high risk with some uncertain rewards, which makes them better qualified to pluck players from at the Waiver Draft in the mid-season swaps.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

There is still a big name not on the list, restricted free agent forward Sam Reinhart, who has yet to see a new deal out of his entry-level contract, which expired in July.  Reinhart was a big part of the offense last season and the discussion is likely whether or not to bridge him, which could be the biggest reason why the deal isn't done yet.  I am showing the team with a $5.4 million cap buffer with their current 23-man roster, so there is money there, but the Sabres might need most of it.

Injuries

One of the fringe defenders on the team, Jake McCabe, saw his 2018 regular season end early to shoulder surgery in February and his timetable was upwards of six months.  Thankfully, that would be about now, giving him some time to prepare for training camp and the regular season.  He should be a roster player this year, so just keep an eye out for any setbacks.

2019 Pool Projections: Calgary

The Calgary Flames were not sitting idly by in this off-season, waiting for their team to gain experience and be a better unit that way, rather they've opted to make some moves to try and improve their side the old fashioned way.

First, the Flames were one of the first teams to change up their coaching staff after their season had concluded in April, as recent results likely dictated a change and a very qualified candidate in Bill Peters emerged.

The summer really kicked off with a huge deal that saw the Flames and Hurricanes engage in a blockbuster deal, which took some issues out of both dressing rooms and gave some players a new start in fresh surroundings.  Free agency was good to the Flames, adding a little bit more scoring depth, veteran leadership and a couple more roster-worthy grinders to the mix.

Now with all of those changes done and in the mix, the Flames will have to answer the bell on the ice, because their market and their fan base are in desperate need of some playoff hockey and more answers than questions.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Johnny Gaudreau F 80 N
Sean Monahan F 65 N
Mike Smith G 65 N
Matthew Tkachuk F 55 N
Elias Lindholm F 55 N
Mikael Backlund F 50 N
Mark Giordano D 50 N
James Neal F 45 N
TJ Brodie D 45 N
Derek Ryan F 35 N
Mark Jankowski F 35 S
Sam Bennett F 30 N
Michael Frolik F 30 N
Spencer Foo F 25 Y
Curtis Lazar F 20 N
Travis Hamonic D 15 N
Jon Gillies G 15 Y
Austin Czarnik F 15 N
Michael Stone D 10 N
Brett Kulak D 10 N
Alan Quine F 10 N
Dalton Prout D 10 N
Rasmus Andersson D 5 Y

Table last updated on August 14th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

We're definitely going to go with one of the new faces from the summer in Elias Lindholm for the Flames, under the most intriguing player, likely to break out with his new team.  Of all the additions, Lindholm, acquired in the trade with the Hurricanes, has the speed and skill, which they have not really had for their top line, to play with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

The 23-year old Swede's contract situation was making him ripe for the picking in a new deal from Carolina and I think the Flames had really come out well with this deal.  They get a guy that they've desperately needed, adding more speed and scoring punch to the mix.  I would be expecting some big things from him this year.

First Round Picks

Right now, I would say that Gaudreau is the only 1st round pick on this team, but if the top line indeed adds Lindholm to it, that could mean some big things for Monahan as well, but it's just too early to tell.  Gaudreau finished 23rd in pool scoring, just inside the top 25, and that's based on just his skill alone.  He's a point-per-game producer, no problem.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, Mark Jankowski and newcomers James Neal and Derek Ryan should all be considered to be worthy as well.  The addition of Neal and Ryan certainly fits the mould of where the Flames want to go with this roster and that's to the net, quickly.  There's going to be a fair bit of excitement surrounding the Flames at the draft and it all leads back to the new faces.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

The defense did see a bit of an overhaul, which isn't quite complete yet, but out went Dougie Hamilton in the Carolina deal, leaving much of the big minute duties to Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie right now.  There very well could have been a power struggle with so few minutes to work with on the blueline and too many guys that could give the Flames those minutes, so now that it has thinned out a bit, you could see some improvement there.

Goaltending Situation

It will be Mike Smith's second season as the number one with the Flames and he'll get a new backup partner, which is likely to be Jon Gillies, but the job remains on the bubble with a guy like David Rittich in the mix as well.  Currently, we're leaning towards Gillies.  Either way, the goaltending will need a little bit more help in front this season or else it could be much of the same.  Smith should do well enough to make a big push for points, but he'll eat so many minutes, that the backup might not see enough.

Team to Pick From Late?

There is a bit more depth on the forward side of the ledger, which could offer up a sleeper pick or two, but you might want to wait and see how much excitement the top part of the lineup generates, before you invest in the bottom. 

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The other big acquisition in the Carolina trade is defenseman Noah Hanifin and he is in need of a new contract as well, one of the reasons why he was included in the trade.  Hanifin is a restricted free agent, just out of his entry-level deal, and has shown some good upside to his NHL game.  The Flames have a shade over $6 million in cap space with a full 23-man roster today, so they have some money to play with still.  The team remains positive that a deal will get done, it's just a matter of when.

Injuries

The Flames had some concussion issues at the end of last season with both T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic, but there hasn't been any reports on any lingering issues through the summer, which is definitely some good news.

2019 Pool Projections: Carolina

It's the dawn of a new age in Carolina, as the Hurricanes are still getting pounded by the rubber stamp of approval from their new owner and things have certainly changed in this off-season.  Management has been swapped out, there's a new coaching staff in place and there's a "you're either with us or against us" mentality within the organization, which saw a number of players exit through trades and free agency.

Of course, with some exits, that brings in some players, especially via the trade route, there is some encouraging signs from the youth of this organization and that all gets stacked up on a fairly decent existing blueline.

The downside for the Hurricanes is the division that they play in.  Having being situated in the Metropolitan Division, this team really does get overshadowed easily and maybe for good reason.  The superstars that rein atop of the scoring tables that they play against almost every night and goaltenders that are at the top of their class also tend creases in their division makes it hard for this team to gain much traction.

The Hurricanes are building an organization that starts from the blueline and it's already starting to look pretty good, but they will need both their forwards and goaltending to catch up and soon, if they are going to take advantage of this excellent blueline window.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Rookie
Sebastian Aho F 60 N
Teuvo Teravainen F 60 N
Dougie Hamilton D 55 N
Justin Faulk D 45 N
Petr Mrazek G 45 N
Jordan Staal F 45 N
Andrei Svechnikov F 45 Y
Justin Williams F 45 N
Scott Darling G 40 N
Martin Necas F 40 Y
Victor Rask F 35 N
Micheal Ferland F 25 N
Brock McGinn F 25 N
Brett Pesce D 25 N
Jaccob Slavin D 25 N
Calvin de Haan D 20 N
Haydn Fleury D 20 S
Trevor Van Riemsdyk D 20 N
Julien Gauthier F 20 Y
Jordan Martinook F 10 N
Janne Kuokkanen F 10 Y
Phillip Di Giuseppe F 10 N
Warren Foegele F 5 Y
Greg McKegg F 5 N
Roland McKeown D 5 Y
Valentin Zykov F 5 Y

Table last updated on August 9th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

I think it could be very easy to get excited about the 2nd overall pick in this year's draft, Andrei Svechnikov, and probably you should be.  Myself, personally, like what Martin Necas brought to the table in last year's World Junior Championship, play-making ability and some good vision, which has me intrigued about how he'll fit into the Hurricanes system in the 2019 season.

I thought that this 19-year old would have made for a great reason to draft Filip Zadina in June, since their chemistry was so good, but the Hurricanes opted with a Russian instead.  Necas should have a few good options to play with, if he can make the team and if he can, I think he can put up some points.

First Round Picks

The Hurricanes are not showing a lot of top end talent on my list, but they are the youngest of all the projected rosters that you'll see in these projection posts, with the average age well under 25 years old.  They might still come around in the years to come, but they'll have to grow into it first.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

There is a good collection of forwards in Carolina, including a couple of rookies, that could make a positive impact on your pool team.  The Svechnikov/Necas freshman connection could be fun to watch, if they make it to the opening night roster, while Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen now have a year of experience together on the team, which should only help their connection grow.  Jordan Staal, Justin Williams and Victor Rask round out the pool worthy forwards on my list.

Other Pool Worthy Defensemen

Over the past few seasons, the Carolina blueline has been surprisingly good for the hockey pool and they have only improved it with the acquisition of Dougie Hamilton from the Flames and he'll now lead a very qualified group, including Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin, for those worthy of mention on my projection list.

Goaltending Situation

In net last season, Scott Darling was the new face, who was supposed to bring his potential to a number one role, but that didn't quite pan out as well, as many may have hoped.  This year, Petr Mrazek will be the new guy and he will provide quite the battle for the number one job and I think these two could split the time, so they could be goalies worth taking a little later, more likely to be your second choice keeper.

Team to Pick From Late?

If you're looking for those sleepers late on in the draft, you might not find many in Carolina, unless one of the team's other rookies were in to make a big impact out of the gates.  Julien Gauthier or Janne Kuokkanen up front would be in consideration at that point.  Otherwise, I might look to one of the more prolifically scoring teams for a late round sleeper pick.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Even with new ownership in place, the Hurricanes remain a budget team.  My current 23-man projected roster is coming in only $4.8 million above the cap floor, leaving well over $15 million in cap space.  The team has no restricted free agents left to deal with, so they could be in to take on more assets for bad contracts.

Injuries

It doesn't sound like there is anything too pressing for the Hurricanes in the injury department.  Not making the playoffs gives the guys some extra time to heal.