Tag Archives: hockey

Views From The First Overall Pick

Besides abysmal regular season records and fan bases that have endured cruel and unusual punishment year after year. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers don’t have many similarities.

As was the case in 2010 with Edmonton, who will they select? Tyler Seguin? Or Taylor Hall?

Six years later.

Two different players.

A different organization.

Same situation.

Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine?

Fortunately for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the World Championship of hockey offers one last opportunity for a scouting report. Both Matthews and Laine were selected to represent their respected countries, the United States and Finland.

For the United States, pool play was an up and down battle. There were times where they appeared unstoppable, but just as easily they seemed outmatched. Unsurprisingly, the one constant was Auston Matthews. 

Without a doubt Finland has been the most dominate team in the entire tournament. Patrik Laine has been instrumental to their success. The projected number two pick in this summers draft has played among men and flourished.

In a game against Canada, known agitator Brad Marchand targeted the talented youngster. Between whistles the two had a minor gentlemanly disagreement, Marchand barking at Laine. The 18 year old wasn’t afraid to give the business right back at Marchand, laughing while doing so.
Laine may have just qualified to vote, but he by no means is a kid anymore. Standing 6 foot 4 inches and weighing in at 205 pounds, he has the frame to play big time NHL minutes come October.
Winnipeg fans rejoice. If Laine slips to number two, as expected, you’ll have yourself one hell of a player.
While the NBA draft appears to be a two player draft, the NHL draft initially seems different. For Columbus, owning the 3rd overall pick in the draft seems to have an interesting decision to make themselves.
As for now, you’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the playoffs and the remainder of The World Championships.

Drafting Some Hope

Admit it, you were nervous that Edmonton was going to win the draft lottery again, weren’t you?

Nobody, and I truly mean absolutely no human being outside of the Edmonton Alberta region actually wanted the Oilers to draft Auston Matthews. Luckily, they don’t own that luxury, Toronto, the second saddest Canadian born franchise does.

Whats the difference between them? Toronto made major leaps of improvement this past season. Despite the horrific record and the countless number of jerseys sickened fans tossed on the ice near the conclusion the season. Mike Babcock and Brendan Shanahan put their hockey wits together, changes to the game plan, and roster paid instant dividends.

Petr Mrazek #34 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a first-period save on a shot by William Nylander #39 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena on March 13, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan.
At just 20 years old William Nylander leads the youth movement established by Toronto this past season. Much to the enthusiasm of management, but more importantly the fans.
What was most impressive was the confidence instilled in the youth of their organization. Following the trade deadline when it was more than evident the playoffs were a snow balls chance, the youth movement officially began. Cream of the crop? William Nylander, 6-7-13 in 22 career games against the big boys. Yeah, he’s also only 20 years old, and definitely passed the eye ball test.

What I’m trying to hammer home is how far and beyond a better organizationally sound team Toronto is when compared side by side to Edmonton. While their numbers aren’t all that different, Toronto’s ceiling is much higher and prosperous. When they draft Matthews, he’ll immediately solve their most glaring issue, the lack of a number one center.

No doubt there will be crazy Leaf fans predicting an appearance at this years Cup final. Similarly to how Red Sox fans reacted to the David Price signing. Truth be told they aren’t crazy, they’re just starving for hope.

Remember the hype surrounding Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel last year? Matthews deserves just as much if not more hype than they received. Don’t believe me? YouTube a highlight clip then proceed to read.

Lightning fans can probably take a deep breath, with Matthews going to Toronto they no longer need that bonafied number one center. So favorite all the tweets you’d like Mr. Stamkos, odds are you’re staying put.

Speaking of whom, Matthews has been compared to elite centers such as Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. Slightly outside the realm of a Sidney Crosby type player, but by no stretch of the imagination, Matthews remains a player you build a franchise around.

What is without a doubt the best part of the draft is the fact that Edmonton won’t even be selecting in the top 3. While picking fourth isn’t a bad consolation prize, it’s something that GM Peter Chiarelli called “disappointing”. Rumor has it Edmonton is flirting with the idea of trading the pick for an established top four defensemen.

Whomever decides to do business with Edmonton could look towards another promising American, Matthew Tkachuk. Amassing 107 points last season, 5th in OHL scoring.

Bet the farm that Toronto will waste no time selecting Matthews number one, unless Tampa signs Stamkos long term then ships him off moments later. Even then I’d expect Toronto to turn that deal down, Matthews is an exciting proposition. Especially for a franchise that has endured so much hostility and scrutiny from just about everyone.

Hold off on planning those parade routes Leaf nation. Your depth chart has some gaping holes in it, enough that one, 18 year old kid, couldn’t possibly fix on his own.

However, it appears as though you just drafted yourself some hope.

The West Is Won

Ever since Chicago reclaimed hockey supremacy back in 2010, the Western Conference has continued to evolve into hockey’s preliminary conference. The same cannot be said for the East. They on the other hand have appeared to take a noticeable step back from its business associate.

To the right of the Mississippi river there is a lot of disparity.

The playoff picture is far from completion; in fact the remaining few games on the season could make or break a teams season. Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit hold the unfortunate title of bubble teams. A crucial match up between Boston and Detroit tonight in Boston is shaping up to be must watch television. With a loss, Boston can plan their golf weekend early. With a win for Detroit, their incredible playoff streak will continue.

With all do respect to both teams, the chance that either of them will make a significant amount of noise in the big dance is minor.

That being said, who can you expect to make it out of the East and successfully match up with hockey’s superiority?

How about that city connected by three rivers?

Since their title in 2009, the Penguins have been massive underachievers. That’s right, Sidney Crosby resembles more of a Mike Modano than a Wayne Gretzky at the moment. In order for Pittsburgh to regain its footing, they need ‘Sid’ to be the superstar he has always been predicted to become. That, and for Fluery to cease letting everything under the sun in the net.

That’s not to say they can’t catch a conveniently well times hot streak, but that road travels through Washington and New York.

Lightning, as the saying goes, can’t strike in the same place twice correct?

Well the circus act that has been the Lightning’s season thus far has continued. Stamkos needs surgery to repair a blood clot in his arm and is expected to miss upwards of three months. Victor Hedman also suffered an upper body injury which could sideline him for the start of the playoffs. Hedman was the undisputed backbone of the Lightning last post season, so life without him will be difficult to say the least.

Don’t fret, they recently recalled Jonathan Drouin from the minors. For those who don’t know Drouin, wanted a trade from Tampa earlier in the season. His insubordination landed him in the minors, which he never reported to. Nice kid.

Regardless, Tampa didn’t have much of a choice: they needed to replace the massive gap Stamkos’ injury left behind. Drouin? He was the next best thing.

Florida, well isn’t this a pleasant surprise? For the first time since 2012 the Panthers are back in the playoffs. This time they have a beautiful nucleolus of young and veteran players who have played a ton of meaningful hockey. Roberto Luongo in the process also makes his return to the playoffs, and they’re going to need him. In order for Florida to advance, they need superb goal tending from a less than likely source. Luongo felt the extreme heat from playing in Vancouver, when he couldn’t withstand it they did away with him.

Life doesn’t offer very many chances to succeed a second time. He, has that.

Your safest bet? Washington.

If history truly is doomed to repeat itself then, well, history isn’t on Washington’s side. The last time they enjoyed this much success was 6 years ago: the same year they lost to the 8th seeded Montreal Canadians in 7 games. If the regular season ended today, the Capitals would be facing off against the 8th seeded Philadelphia Flyers.

Philly has been playing with a ton of purpose as of late, and it has helped propel them past Boston in the playoff race. However, Washington has always found a way to choke in the playoffs in historical fashion.

I’d love to sit here and tell you this is Washington’s year to take a cup home, but I can’t. But I can tell you that they’re the favorite to come out of the east.

While I’m not entirely convinced Washington can pull it off, I’m convinced they can end an annoying stigma. That being the West is far superior to the East, that gap is far more narrow than most would like to admit.