2005 NHL Re-Draft

What would happen if the 2005 NHL draft happened today with the same order? A look at what could have been if general managers knew what each player in the draft would turn out to be. 

(Based on best player available, not need)

1. PIT: Sidney Crosby

2. ANA: Carey Price 

3. CAR: Anze Kopitar

4. MIN: Tuukka Rask

5. MTL: Ben Bishop

6. CBJ: Jonathan Quick

7. CHI: Kris Letang

8. SJS: James Neal

9. OTT: Bobby Ryan

10. VAN: Paul Stastny

11. LAK: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

12. NYR: Keith Yandle

13. BUF: TJ Oshie

14. WSH: Niklas Hjalmarsson

15. NYI: Martin Hanzal

16. WPG: Patric Honrqvist

17. ARZ: Anton Stralman

18. NSH: Matt Niskanen

19. DET: Andrew Cogliano

20. FLA: Jack Johnson

21. TOR: Kris Russell

22. BOS: Cody Franson

23. NJD: Benoit Pouliot

24. STL: Marc Staal

25. EDM: Justin Abdelkader

26. CGY: Darren Helm

27. WSH: Ondrej Pavelec

28. DAL: Mason Raymond

29. PHI: Nathan Gerbe

30. TBL: Adam McQuaid

You can see the 2004 NHL re-draft on our site. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

2004 NHL Re-Draft

What would happen if the 2004 NHL draft happened today with the same order? A look at what could have been if general managers knew what each player in the draft would turn out to be. 

(Based on best player available, not need)

1. WSH: Alex Ovechkin

2. PIT: Evgeni Malkin

3. CHI: Cory Schneider

4. CAR: David Krejci

5. ARZ: Pekka Rinne

6. NYR: Blake Wheeler

7. FLA: Andrew Ladd

8. CBJ: Alex Edler

9. ANA: Mike Green

10. WPG: Mark Streit

11. LAK: Brandon Dubinsky

12. MIN: Travis Zajac

13. BUF: Ryan Callahan

14. EDM: Alex Goligoski

15. NSH: Andrej Sekera

16. NYI: Carl Soderberg

17. STL: Troy Brouwer

18. MTL: Drew Stafford

19. NYR: Johan Franzen

20. NJD: Kris Versteeg

21. COL: Jannik Hansen

22. SJS: Devan Dubnyk

23. OTT: Mikahil Grabovski

24. CGY: Blake Comeau

25. EDM: Thomas Greiss

26. VAN: Karri Ramo 

27. WSH: David Booth

28. DAL: Tyler Kennedy

29. WSH: Daniel Winnik

30. TBL: Bryan Bickell

For those who have followed this blog for a while, you know this was a segment on our old site. This is a new version of it, and it will be continued in the upcoming days with 2005 and so on. 

As always, thanks for reading. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

2016 NHL Mock Draft: Edition II

2016 Mock Draft
The format is as follows…

Pick number: player, position 

Listed as: height, weight 

Probability of pick being traded 

1. Toronto: Auston Matthews, C

Listed as: 6’2, 198

Probability of trade: low to impossible

2. Winnipeg: Patrik Laine, W

Listed as: 6’4, 210

Probability of trade: low to impossible 

3. Columbus: Jesse Puljujarvi, W

Listed as: 6’3, 196

Probability of trade: low

4. Edmonton: Jacob Chychrun, D

Listed as: 6’2, 194

Probability of trade: high 

5. Vancouver: Pierre-Luc Dubois, C

Listed as: 6’1, 181

Probability of trade: low

6. Calgary: Matthew Tkachuk, W

Listed as: 6.0, 188

Probability of trade: low 

7. Arizona: Tyson Jost, C

Listed as: 5’11, 190

Probability of trade: low 

8. Buffalo: Mikhail Sergachev, D

Listed as: 6’2, 205

Probability of trade: medium 

9. Montreal: Alex Nylander, W

Listed as: 5’10, 160

Probability of trade: high 

10. Colorado: Michael McLeod, C

Listed as: 6’1, 183

Probability of trade: low 

11. New Jersey: Clayton Keller, C/W

Listed as: 5’9, 183

Probability of trade: low 

12. Ottawa: Olli Juolevi, D

Listed as: 6’2, 185

Probability of trade: low 

13. Carolina: Kieffer Bellows, C

Listed as: 6’0, 185

Probability of trade: low 

14. Boston: Dante Fabbro, D

Listed as: 6’0, 172

Probability of trade: medium 

15. Minnesota: Jake Bean, D

Listed as: 6’0, 176

Probability of trade: medium 

16. Detroit: Charles McAvoy, D

Listed as: 6’0, 206

Probability of trade: low 

17. Nashville: Logan Brown, C

Listed as: 6’5, 215

Probability of trade: low 

18. Philadelphia: Julien Gauthier, W

Listed as: 6’3, 220

Probability of trade: low 

19. Islanders: Max Jones, W

Listed as: 6’2, 180

Probability of trade: medium 

20. Arizona (via NYR): Logan Stanley, D

Listed as: 6’6, 210

Probability of trade: medium 

21. Carolina (via LAK): Luke Kunin, W

Listed as: 6’0, 192

Probability of trade: medium 

22. Winnipeg (via CHI): German Rubtsov, W

Listed as: 6’1, 175

Probability of trade: medium 

23. Florida: Riley Tufte, W

Listed as: 6’5, 210

Probability of trade: medium 

24. Anaheim: Rasmus Asplund, C/W

Listed as: 5’11, 176

Probability of trade: medium 

25. Dallas: Kale Clague, D

Listed as: 5’11, 179

Probability of trade: low 

26. Washington: Brett Howden, C

Listed as: 6’1, 191

Probability of trade: low 

27-30 TBD
-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

7 players the Islanders could target this offseason 

The 2016 offseason is the most important offseason in general manager Garth Snow’s career. On top of trying to re-sign Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin, and Frans Nielsen, he needs to find a top line forward for John Tavares, or at the very least someone to bolster their forward group. Here are some options he could look at. 

1. Jeff Skinner

There have been a few rumors in the past about Jeff Skinner’s departure from Carolina, most recently in June of 2015, but still nothing has budged. The seventh overall pick in 2010 dealt with concussion issues early in his career, but has since gotten healthy and played all 82 games last year. He put up 28 goals and 51 points in 2015-2016, 5 goals and 12 points off his career high. The Hurricanes are loaded on defense which plays into the Islanders’ strength. The Islanders don’t have many defensive chips to trade, but can mortgage a few pieces up front in exchange for a dynamic player like Skinner. Carolina’s weak offense would have a major hole in it if Skinner departs, meaning the Islanders would have to give more. Skinner may not be the most feasible option, but he’s one of the best fit for the job. 

2. Jamie McGinn

McGinn has bounced around on a few teams in recent years but is still a consistent provider of both offense and defense for the bottom six. McGinn was 56th in the league in hits last year, sitting right behind Anders Lee. If Matt Martin departs, McGinn would be a nice addition to the fourth line. 

3. Troy Brouwer

Brouwer would also fit well with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck should Matt Martin not return. Brouwer, along with his tenacious physical play, would bring Stanley Cup experience to the Islanders, a trait they severely lack. Brouwer has hit 20 goals three times in his career and had 18 this year with St. Louis. Brouwer does take a lot of penalties, but that’s nothing that the team should not be used to thanks to the way Matt Martin tends to play. 

4. James van Riemsdyk

The Toronto forward had an off year last season with 14 goals in 40 games played but would still be a valuable addition to John Tavares’ wing. He hit 30 goals one year, but hasn’t played with the type of skill in the middle in Toronto as he would with the Islanders and John Tavares. The excess amount of prospects the Isles have would be valuable to the rebuilding Leafs as well. 

5. Jordan Eberle

Much like Skinner, Eberle has been in trade talks for a while. However, the Oilers need immediate help on defense, something the Isles cannot give to them. A trade, in fairness, could still happen, but I wouldn’t hold your breath in anticipation of Jordan Eberle playing in Brooklyn. 

6. Andrew Shaw

Shaw could be the casualty of Chicago’s cap crunch this summer, although GM Stan Bowman says he is still working out the numbers. Shaw would add a net front presence to the Isles’ second powerplay unit, and like Brouwer would bring Stanley Cup experience. Shaw’s versatility in being able to play in multiple lineup spots would also help the Islanders. 

7. Teddy Purcell

If the Islanders want an interim middle-six man while Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, and Michael Dal Colle develop, Purcell could work on a two year deal. Not a flashy player, but someone that can get it done offensively. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Colorado’s Barrie generating tons of interest 

Recently, reports came out from Elliotte Friedman that Tyson Barrie is likely to be moved by the Colorado Avalanche this summer. 

“Knowing the way they finished their year, I’ve got to think it’s very likely he moves on.”

          -Elliotte Friedman

The 24 year old defenseman was a third round pick in 2009 and has spent parts of five seasons with Colorado, accumulating 264 total games. 

The swift, two-way defender will have no shortage of suitors if he does decide to move on. Being a restricted free agent, Colorado holds the power, but Barrie is still in a good situation. Most of the teams with the most interest in him will be lower-level teams looking for another top four defenseman to help them breakout (both on the ice and in the standings). Buffalo, Edmonton, and Arizona all will be heavily in the running. However, some teams at the top, such as Dallas and the Rangers, will look at him as well. 

Barrie would fit nicely into all of these squads. He posted relatively good possession numbers on an abysmal Avalanche team, and a large majority of his teammates were better with Barrie than without. For teams like Arizona, Buffalo, and Edmonton, Barrie becomes an instant game changer. The immediate effect of Barrie may be more subtle on a team like Dallas or the Rangers, but he would still do wonders for any. 

In the end, there will be more than two handfuls of teams with serious interest in Tyson Barrie. His contract demands will be high, but defensemen like him do not hit the open trading market very often. This is a fantastic chance for teams to speed up their ascent to the top with a young, top defenseman. 

There will be talks over the next few weeks, but I wouldn’t expect anything to get done until the draft. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Drouin, Backes proving worth  

There was a certain level of uncertainty in regards to Jonathan Drouin and David Backes this summer, but it seems to be dispelling more and more as the days go by. Both players are on teams in the conference finals and both are playing fantastic. Drouin is second on Tampa Bay in assists and Backes is second on St. Louis in goals. 

Jonathan Drouin faced a tough season, which included a trade request and a holdout, but has excelled in an increased role he obtained when Steven Stamkos got hurt. Drouin’s vision, speed and offensive capabilities make him a threat whenever he is on the ice. He has slotted in nicely in the top-six, but would still be a likely candidate to move down if Stamkos came back. 

Drouin has proved his worth to Jon Cooper. However strained the relationship still may be due to the events earlier this season is unknown, but it is very possible Drouin has re-found his home in Tampa Bay. He can help make up the young core if Stamkos leaves, or he could add to the blistering speed the Lightning bring night in and night out in a middle six role with Stamkos above him. 

The time to trade Jonathan Drouin has come and gone. Although his value has increased drastically, the Lightning would prefer to keep him, as they always have. Drouin needs to put this whole situation in the past and move on as a professional, which he in all likelihood will. 

David Backes, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is a unrestricted free agent this summer. Under his reign (and many others’), the Blues have not done much in the playoffs. However, this year is different. The Blues advanced to the conference finals and have a real shot at the Stanley Cup. Backes is playing at the top of his game and is proving how valuable he is to St. Louis. 

It may not be far fetched to think that both team and player would have been ready to move on after another first or even second round exit. Backes would be a top target of many teams around the league. 

To lose Backes while blowing up the core after another playoff disappointment would have been a regret in the long run, but it is out the window now.

Many would call David Backes overrated, but that is not the case. He is irreplaceable to St. Louis in multiple ways, both on and off the ice. I think you’ll see Backes in the blue and yellow for a long time coming. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

State of the Islanders II: Change 

The Islanders season ended on Sunday afternoon with a matinee loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the first time in over two decades, the loss came in the second round as the Islanders had previously broken their 23 year playoff drought against the Florida Panthers.

The season was a rollercoaster ride for the team and their fans, riddle by inconsistent play and lineup struggles. However, you could call it a success. The Islanders did not play bad on their tour of America’s most southern state. They lost two back-breakers at home against Tampa Bay in overtime which turned the tide of the series and season. 

The playoffs are in the past now, regardless of how far in the past they actually are in. The offseason brings upon a lot of questions for Garth Snow and the new management group set to take over on July 1st. The work that needs to be done this year exceeds anything Snow has had to deal with in the past. Travis Hamonic’s trade request will potentially be fulfilled, three long-tenured Islanders in Martin, Okposo, and Nielsen need to be re-signed, and Jaroslav Halak’s future in New York is all but certain. 

Travis Hamonic has long been the heart and soul of the Islanders defense since he was drafted in 2008. The Manitoba native asked for a trade earlier in the season due to “personal reasons”, but the request was not able to be granted by Snow during the year. The offseason brings more opportunity. The list is limited for Hamonic — somewhere in western Canada or certain places in the middle of America.

The Oilers or Jets seem like the most likely options. Edmonton holds the fourth overall pick this year and Winnipeg holds the second. No chance the Jets give up their pick, but what would it take to get the fourth from Edmonton? Obviously there would be a lot of pushing and pulling between general managers on who needs to add and who doesn’t. The Oilers are running on a decade of now playoff appearances and need a solid defenseman on a good contract like Hamonic. 

Jaroslav Halak can also be on the move this summer. After an impressive 2014-2015 campaign, Halak was average at best before being injured late in the season. Will the Islanders go with Greiss and Berube or Greiss and Halak? Only time will tell. It could go either way. 

Free agency wise, the decisions are no easier. Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Martin all need contracts. 

Nielsen seems like an almost lock to come back. The Denmark native has been one of, if not the, most consistent player for the Islanders since he arrived. He slots in nicely behind John Tavares and is a veteran presence in the locker room. 

On the flip side, Kyle Okposo’s return is uncertain. Currently on a contract worth less than three million of cap space, Okposo is due for a big raise. While showing flashes of brilliance at times, Okposo is often inconsistent and a turnover machine. Can the Islanders afford to give him upwards of seven million per year? I believe the answer is no. 

There will be plenty of teams with interest in Okposo and he will in the end be given what he wants. Okposo has given his all to the Islanders since being a first round pick in 2006. It’ll be tough for the organization to see him go, but in respect to cap space and the future of the team it may be the right choice. 

The other tricky situation is Matt Martin, who has lead the league in hits for the past five years in a row. Martin is also set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He makes up one-third of the Isles’ pivotal fourth line and his physical presence would be missed. However, the best interest of the club must be kept in mind while dealing with Martin. Fighting is being slowly phased out of the NHL and Martin has been in less and less fights over the past few years. He also has not scored a playoff goal since Game 2 of the 2013 Pittsburgh series. The fourth line was also obsolete against the big, bruising Panthers team, showing they do have weakness and can be improved. Cizikas and Clutterbuck can both provide offense, so a more skilled player next to them, who can also check, could work wonders. 

Matt Martin, much like Kyle Okposo, will be getting a lot of attention from other teams around the league. Martin needs to decide between his heart and his wallet this upcoming offseason. It’ll be an interesting scenario worth keeping track of. 

There are a few names to keep an eye on for the Isles this offseason. Snow needs to be aggressive and add a supporting cast for John Tavares. One player that would be nice, and long rumored, is Jordan Eberle. It’s possible a deal with him in it for Hamonic could happen. 

Teddy Purcell could be a nice addition to the middle six via free agency. Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn are potential candidates to fill in on the fourth line if Matt Martin leaves and Nikolay Kulemin does not take his role. 

The lines for next year could shake out in a few ways. First, let’s set the defense aside. 

Nick Leddy & Ryan Pulock

Adam Pelech/X & Thomas Hickey

Calvin de Haan & Johnny Boychuk

Five of six are a given to be here. Thomas Hickey was the best defenseman for the Islanders all postseason and has earned his keep. Leddy, Boychuk, de Haan, and Pulock aren’t going anywhere. 

Adam Pelech did not see much time after his scary injury, but was a solid stay-at-home defender when called upon. His calmness on the blueline would be a nice asset. However, that leaves the Isles without a big physical presence on the back end. Whether or not the Isles go with Adam Pelech as the sixth defenseman or someone else, it should not be hard to predict what next year’s defense corps will look like. 

The forward lines are not as easy to formulate. There amount of factors playing into it are absurd. Instead of trying to predict lines, I’ll leave a few sets of twelve men that could make up the team up front next year. 

A: Tavares, Nielsen, Nelson, Strome, Quine, Lee, Cizikas, Martin, Clutterbuck, Kulemin, Prince, Bailey

B: Tavares, Nielsen, Okposo, Nelson, Strome, Lee, Cizikas, Martin, Clutterbuck, Kulemin, Prince, Bailey

C: Tavares, Nielsen, Nelson, Strome, Quine, Lee, Cizikas, Eberle, Clutterbuck, Kulemin, Prince, Bailey

D: Tavares, Nielsen, Nelson, Strome, Brouwer/McGinn, Lee, Cizikas, Eberle, Clutterbuck, Kulemin, Prince, Bailey

E: Tavares, Nielsen, Nelson, Strome, Purcell, Lee, Cizikas, Eberle, Clutterbuck, Kulemin, Prince, Bailey

As you can see, there are endless combinations and routes the Islanders can take. Mathew Barzal could also make the team, but he is considered a long shot and will likely return to juniors. 

Mikhail Grabovski is excluded from these lists due to health reasons. It is unclear if he will ever play another NHL game, and even if he does, he should be slotted in a role as the thirteenth forward to be brought in from time to time. 

Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome are on each list, but both can be gone in an instant. Nelson struggles with severe inconsistency and Ryan Strome is perpetually in Jack Capuano’s dog house. Both had below average playoff runs this year. In my opinion, Nelson would be the better option to trade if you had to ax anyone, but Ryan Strome is more likely. It’s a complicated situation that may never even come to fruition. 

Looking past trades and lineup possibilities, the draft looms as well. The general consensus seems to be taking a small, skilled played like Alex DeBrincat or Vitali Abramov, but personally I would lean towards a big forward like Riley Tufte or Max Jones. 

This offseason will define who the Islanders are for years to come. Being a professional sports team means making hard decisions and instituting change, and change is exactly what will happen in Brooklyn over the course of the next few months. It will be a guessing game for fans, but in the end no one will know how it will shake out until the puck drops in October. 

Until then, we wait. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Toronto wins lottery, Jets move up to No. 2 

The annual NHL draft lottery was held on Saturday night and for the first time in six years the team that finished last in the league won the lottery. That team was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will have the chance to choose either Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine with the pick. 

There will be internal debate, but Auston Matthews is Toronto’s man. The center, currently playing in the Swiss league, will be ready to jump straight into the NHL in sheltered minutes behind Nazem Kadri (at least to start). 

Interest will be there from teams to move up, especially Arizona, but I do not foresee it happening. The Maple Leafs endured a tough season and waited a long time for this to happen, and to relinquish the ability to make the first overall selection would come at a high price. 

In other news and notes, the Winnipeg Jets moved up from #6 to #2. They’ll likely get the chance to take Patrik Laine, the Finnish winger that has drawn comparisons to Alex Ovechkin. 

I think there was a shot that someone like Buffalo or Calgary would have taken Laine first overall, but I don’t think it’ll happen now. 

Most of the teams remained in the spots they were originally at. 

Edmonton is picking at #4 and Jacob Chychrun or Matthew Tkachuk would be nice fits. 

Montreal got the #9 pick and will have a number of options to look at. Can things shake out so that Alex Nylander falls down to them? Entirely possible. 

New Jersey is at #10. Clayton Keller would be good for them. 

The months leading up to the draft will be full of preparation for the fourteen teams involved in the draft lottery plus many more as they are eliminated from the playoffs. The top three players in this year’s draft makes it an exciting one. With things like the salary cap and the expansion draft in play, there’s a lot to look forward to in terms of player movement come June. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The Rangers have questions to answer this offseason 

The Rangers were eliminated in five games by Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, and the season brings upon a lot of questions to general manager Jeff Gorton and the entire Rangers organization. 

The Rangers made a big splash at the trade deadline by sending two second round picks and top center prospext Aleksi Saarela to Carolina for Eric Staal. In hindsight, the trade proved to be as disastrous as it looked on paper with Staal mustering only six points in 25 games in the Big Apple. 

Now comes the long and winding offseason for the Rangers. They face the possibility of having a completely new-looking roster next year with Eric Staal, Keith Yandle, Dominic Moore, and Dan Boyle all being unrestricted free agents. Boyle, a healthy scratch in the 6-3 loss, could possibly retire. Keith Yandle has long been a source of controversy and it is uncertain the route the Rangers will take with him. Dominic Moore has bounced from team to team but he and the organization seem to have a good relationship, so expect that to continue. 

The likes of Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and JT Miller all need new contracts as well, although they are restricted free agents. Miller came into his own in the regular season but did not have a strong playoffs and did not score. That’s not to say Miller was bad, because almost every Rangers player did not have a strong playoffs. 

Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes both struggled with inconsistency this year. The culmination of all that was Alain Vigneault healthy scratching Hayes in the last two games of the playoffs. 

The Rangers need to undergo a serious re-evaluation of their roster this offseason. Letting go of Eric Staal and doing all they can to re-sign Keith Yandle is a must. The Rangers cannot afford to mortgage any more of their future, but a re-tool is in order. 

Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t have much time left in the league, and if the Rangers want to see him win it all in their colors, serious actions have to be taken. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The NHL will miss Pavel Datsyuk 

With the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Detroit Red Wings last night, the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs and legendary center Pavel Datsyuk’s NHL career is in all likelihood coming to an end. The “Magic Man”, as he came to be known, provided us with many spectacular goals and memories and will leave a large hole in Detroit and in the league itself. 

Datsyuk took the long road to the NHL. A sixth round pick in 1998, he didn’t make his NHL debut until 2001-2002. Datsyuk made the playoffs with Detroit in all 14 years of his NHL tenure. In the process, they won two Cups. He is also a recipient of four Lady Byng trophies and three Selke trophies. In his career, which was just under 1000 games, Datsyuk finished with .96 points per game. 

The NHL will miss Pavel Datsyuk’s presence. It’s hard to put into words his impact on Detroit’s franchise and the league itself. His mystifying, unique moves are something that we may never see again, at least not in the same sense. This is almost like writing an obituary, but that’s the impact Datsyuk had. The league will lose a great player next season. 

There’s not much else to say, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words.   (Photo from: thedetroithustle.com)

Good luck back home, Pavel. 
-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Sharks, Islanders, Panthers and Capitals have chance to erase ugly history in 2016 playoffs 

The 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs have provided a number of teams with a chance to change their past. The Sharks, Islanders, Panthers, and Capitals all have a shot at a redemption of sorts, but the road getting there won’t be easy. 

The Sharks have gotten a chance to face bitter foe Los Angeles in the playoffs once again, and more importantly for the first time since the historic 2014 collapse. In that series, as we all know, the Sharks were up 3-0 before the Kings stormed back on their road to their second Stanley Cup in three years. The Sharks yet again are up 2-0 this year with a chance to make it 3-0 tonight. 

Both rosters have changed and evolved since the 2014 bout, especially San Jose’s. Players like Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi are new to the mix as well as head coach Peter DeBoer behind the bench. 

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau don’t have much time left in the NHL unfortunately. The Sharks have a chance to do something special this year and erase the 2014 meltdown from memory and finally move on.  

The Islanders and Panthers are two teams going head to head that have some disappointing history within their respective franchises. The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since 1996, however they are outdone by the Islanders who haven’t won one since 1993. Both are young, hungry teams looking to make the leap to legitimate contenders. 

Garth Snow and the Islanders are certainly closer to the threshold for change than the Panthers are, despite Dale Tallon’s trade deadline extravaganza. One team will undoubtedly go home empty handed and disappointed, but one will head back to their home city with a changed history. 

The Capitals have some ugly history to vex also. They had the most points in the league again this year, a feat they also accomplished in 2009-2010 when the Montreal Canadiens eliminated them in round one. The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup and have only advanced to the finals once in their history. That year, 1998, was also the last year the Capitals made it past the second round. 

Ovechkin and company have their best chance at making a run at the Cup this year for the first time in far too long. The first step is getting to the third round, though. 

Plenty of teams have the chance to re-write history in the first round (or beyond) this year. The playoffs are a new animal and there’s never any rhyme or rhythm with how things will shake out. The fate of these four teams can only and will only be decided on a game to game basis. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a mixed bag filled with ebbs and flows and many surprises. It can be tough to predict who will win it all, although Chicago and Los Angeles have made that fairly easy over the past few years. Who will take it all this year? My predictions:

ROUND 1

#1 Washington vs WC2 Flyers 

Verdict: Capitals in 6

The resilient Flyers will certainly put a beating on the Capitals, and vice versa, but the Capitals are likely to prevail. It’ll be a battle of superstar against superstar in Ovechkin and Giroux. The series will be won or lost on defense, which Washington has the upper hand. Ovechkin and company will have fun tormenting Nick Schultz and Andrew MacDonald for four of the seven (possible) games of the series. 

#2 Pittsburgh vs #3 NY Rangers

Verdict: NY Rangers in 7

Just like last year, the Rangers will defeat the Penguins in Round 1. The Penguins are the hottest team heading into the playoffs, but you can’t count out a team with Henrik Lundqvist backstopping them. I feel the Rangers will kick it into overdrive, at least for this series, and squeak out a win. 

#1 Florida vs WC1 NY Islanders 

Verdict: NY Islanders in 7

This series is a toss-up. Both the Panthers and Islanders, in my mind, are evenly matched. It’ll come down to goaltending and injuries. If Jaroslav Halak can make it back by the end of the series, that’ll be a gamechanger. Still, I think the Isles take this one. Barely. 

#2 Tampa Bay vs #3 Detroit

Verdict: Tampa Bay in 6

Another rematch from last year, I give the upperhand to Tampa Bay once again, even without Anton Stralman and Steven Stamkos. The Bolts have better goaltending and better depth in my opinion, plus will be hungry to return to the finals. 

#1 Dallas vs WC2 Minnesota 

Verdict: Minnesota in 6

The Wild have faced and triumphed over some tough opponents over the past few years and that does not change here. The Wild have a better overall game in my opinion, especially on defense. Devan Dubnyk can steal some games as well. This will be a high flying, goal fest of a series. 

#2 St. Louis vs #3 Chicago

Verdict: Chicago in 6

The Blues will continue their playoff woes as they fall to Chicago in six games. The battle tested Blackhawks will try to solidify their dynasty, and it starts by taking down the Blues. Goaltending health will play a big factor in this series. 

#1 Anaheim vs WC1 Nashville

Verdict: Ducks in 5

The Ducks battled back from a horrendous start and found their way atop the Pacific Division, but still face a tough Predators opponent. Pekka Rinne hasn’t been stellar this year, so his abilities will factor in largely in this series. The Ducks also have fantastic special teams with both their powerplay and penalty kill being #1 in the league. 

#2 Los Angeles vs #3 San Jose 

Verdict: Los Angeles in 6

Facing Californian rival San Jose as well as former goalie Martin Jones, the Kings are in for a tough series. That goes for the Sharks as well. This series could go either way, but the edge has to be given to the Kings given the history. 

ROUND 2 

#1 Washington vs #3 NY Rangers

Verdict: Washington in 6

The Capitals cannot be contained, even with Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Their offense and defensive core sate too lethal. The Rangers back end with Boyle, Girardi, and Staal will have a tough time containing them. 

#2 Tampa Bay vs WC1 NY Islanders 

Verdict: Tampa Bay in 6

The Lightning continue on their quest to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals by edging out the New York Islanders. Ben Bishop returns to form and leads Tampa Bay to the next round. 

#3 Chicago vs WC2 Minnesota 

Verdict: Chicago in 6

Another year, another Chicago versus Minnesota series. The Blackhawks prevail again. The quad-threat of Toews, Kane, Panarin, and Hossa is too much for the Wild to handle as they lose yet again in disappointing fashion. 

#1 Anaheim vs #2 Los Angeles 

Verdict: Anaheim in 7

Now, wouldn’t this be an amazing series? The Ducks and Kings meet in the semi-finals and beat each other to a pulp, however the Ducks get the series win. 

ROUND 3

#1 Washington vs #2 Tampa Bay

Verdict: Washington in 6

Tampa’s bid to return to the finals falls short at the expense of the President’s Trophy winners. The Capitals remain a force to be reckoned with. Steven Stamkos could return by this point, but it’s up in the air. Still, I don’t see him being enough to turn the tide of the series in Tampa’s favor. 

#1 Anaheim vs #3 Chicago

Verdict: Anaheim in 7

A rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, however this time Anaheim takes home the win. The Ducks get an added boost from their superb special teams to win the series. The weak bottom half of Chicago’s defense will have a tough time keeping up with Anaheim’s depth. 

STANLEY CUP FINAL

#1 Washington vs #1 Anaheim 

Verdict: Anaheim in 6

The Anaheim Ducks are your 2016 Stanley Cup champs!

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

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