Category Archives: Phi. Flyers

Predicting Protected Lists: Philadelphia Flyers 

The Flyers have one or two forwards too many heading into the expansion draft, but other than that, they face no real challenges. Nine out of the ten skaters spots are easy to predict for Philadelphia. 

For forwards, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, and Sean Couturier will 100% be protected. After that, the last spot comes down to Jordan Weal, Michael Raffl, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. 

Weal was acquired a few seasons ago by the Flyers in the Vincent Lecavalier trade with Los Angeles. He has shown flashes of brilliance offensively and his numbers have been outstanding. Last season, he posted 12 points in 23 NHL games and 47 points in 43 AHL games. 

If the Flyers feel confident that they can sign Weal to an extension prior to or after the expansion draft, they will most likely be protecting him. But, that means that Weal has to make the team next year and make an impact. It would be a high-risk, high-reward selection.  

Raffl, 28, and Bellemare, 32, both did not post great numbers for the Flyers last season, but both are valuable in their own right to the team. 

Jordan Weal still seems like the most likely option, though. 

On defense, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas are locks to be protected. 

With many of their other core defensemen heading into next season, like Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, being exempt, the Flyers do not really have much of a choice for their last defensive spot. It will be going to Brandon Manning, as Andrew MacDonald will be used to fulfill the exposure requirement. 

In goal, the decision is tricky. Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz, albeit under different circumstances, are both worthy of protection. 

However, with all things considered, I believe the Flyers will go with Neuvirth as their protection pick. He is slated to be their starter next season, or at least their 1A, and losing him and Steve Mason in one offseason would be crippling. 

In total, the Philadelphia Flyers could have a protection list that looks like this:

Forwards: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jordan Weal 

Defense: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goalie: Michal Neuvirth

A forward, whether it be Weal, Raffl, Bellemare, Cousins, or Laughton, is probable to go to Vegas. 

Next team: Pittsburgh Penguins 

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

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2017 NHL Mock Draft: Edition II (May 2017)

2017 NHL Mock Draft: Edition II (May)

*Order of last four picks not yet determined 

The 2017 NHL Draft has gotten an unfair shake. Just because it pales in comparison to the high level talent of the 2015 and 2016 drafts, it should not be looked upon as a throwaway draft. 

At the top, Nolan and Nico are two very, very good players. They are not on the same stature as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, but that is not a slight by any means at the two young players. Rather, it serves as a testament to how brilliant and unique McDavid and Matthews are. 

Making a mock draft for this year is incredibly difficult. After the first two picks, it is a total guessing game. There are players that could go as high as the top ten or as low as the bottom five of the first round. From pick five and onward, the draft is a cluster of talent that has not separated enough to make an accurate read. 

Furthermore, the expansion draft plays a large role in this entry draft. Many first round picks may be in play, specifically dealt for players who may be otherwise exposed by his current team. There is no way to predict who and which picks go where, so rather a probability of a pick being traded was added here. 

So, without further ado, here is a 2017 NHL Mock (Entry) Draft: 

1. New Jersey: Nico Hischier (F)

Chance pick is traded: very low 

Analysis: Personally, I believe New Jersey is one of the few teams that fits Nolan Patrick better than Nico Nischier, however I still think they go with Hischier. The dynamic Swiss forward, who made his name primarily at the 2016 World Juniors, will add a necessary speed to the middle of New Jersey’s lineup. 

2. Philadelphia: Nolan Patrick (F)

Chance pick is traded: very low 

Analysis: The Flyers were the big winners of the draft, moving up over ten spots to the #2 selection. No matter who falls, be it Patrick or Hischier, the Flyers are getting a fantastic player. Patrick has had injury concerns, but this is not the first time a top prospect has had these concerns. Patrick should find a home nicely in the middle six of Philadelphia for the upcoming years. 

3. Dallas: Casey Mittlestadt (F)

Chance pick is traded: high 

Analysis: Rumors are already swirling that Dallas is looking to trade the #3 pick, which in all reality makes sense. Aside from Heiskanen, all the top prospects in the drafts are centers. That does not fill a need for Dallas, even though it’s a bad idea to draft based on immediate team need (see Dubois and Columbus in 2016). Dallas moving this pick would surely be down a few spots for Heiskanen, Makar, or Liljegren, or for an NHL-ready defenseman. A trade with this pick could come before the expansion draft as well if a team cannot protect a high-end defender. Options include Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Sami Vatanen, Jacob Trouba, and Olli Maatta among others. 

4. Colorado: Miro Heiskanen (D)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: The Avalanche got hit hard by the draft lottery, but it may not all be for naught. If three centers go in the top three, which is highly likely depending the teams selecting there, Miro Heiskanen could fall right into Joe Sakic’s (or Kyle Dubas’) lap. The Finnish defenseman shined at the Under-18 Championships. 

5. Vancouver: Gabriel Vilardi (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The Canucks are picking at #5 for the second straight year and are expected to keep their draft pick. Vilardi is an above-average sized center that can do it all. 

6. Vegas: Cody Glass (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: For Vegas’ first ever selection in an NHL draft, a lot of factors will be put into place. The primary one is the expansion draft which will take place a few days prior to the entry draft. How the team shakes out will have a large impact on who Vegas decided to take on June 23. But, judging off of projections, they will likely need forwards instead of defenseman. Glass averaged just under 1.5 points per game for the Portland Winterhawks last season and would be a welcomed addition to Vegas’ center pipeline.  

7. Arizona: Cale Makar (D)

Chance pick is traded: low

Analysis: After a few years of drafting forwards high (Strome and Keller), it appears it is time that Arizona takes a (much needed) defenseman in the top-ten. Makar, a right-handed defenseman, still needs time to round out his defensive game, however he is strong offensively. Despite the growing pains that would be involved, Makar would be a great investment for John Chayka. 

8. Buffalo: Timothy Liljegren (D)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Liljegren was once slated to be a top-two pick with Nolan Patrick in this year’s draft, however he has fallen out of favor for multiple reasons. One of the main causes is that early in the season, he underwent a case of mono which took him out of action for a few weeks. Due to inactivity, his strength and conditioning dropped off and may have scared some teams away. Liljegren, though, still remains an enticing defenseman for the top-ten. As a good puck mover, he could slide in to Buffalo’s defensive core within three years. He would provide a lot of help for a seriously depleted group. 

9. Detroit: Nicolas Hague (D)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The Red Wings took place in the lottery for the first time in a quarter of a century this year and wound up with the ninth overall selection. They have a bunch of options available, as the draft board gets pretty clustered at this point. Hague, 6’5/216, is a big and bruising defenseman. Adding an elite prospect from early in the draft is something out of the ordinary for Detroit, but it will be highly difficult to screw up this pick — Hague or not. 

10. Florida: Michael Rasmussen (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium

Analysis: Florida flopped this year under new management, so Dave Tallon and company are back at the helm. Rasmussen is a typical forward for this group, as he possesses size and a scoring touch. His 5v5 scoring has been put into question, but it is unlikely that that alone will turn teams away. 

11. Los Angeles: Elias Pettersson (F)

Chance pick is traded: low

Analysis: The Kings need to get younger and quicker, and the 11th overall selection helps them do just that. Pettersson can play all facets of the game and would a slot in nicely behind Anze Kopitar and/or Jeff Carter in the future. 

12. Carolina: Owen Tippett (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The dynamic scoring winger Tippett is exactly what Carolina needs up front. Few players in this draft can match Tippett’s natural scoring ability, as he potted 44 goals in 60 games this season for the Mississauga Steelheads. 

13. Winnipeg: Callan Foote (F)

Chance pick is traded: low

Analysis: An assist machine in the WHL, Foote, son of Adam, is slated to go high in the draft this year. The offensive nature of Foote’s game may not translate completely to the NHL, but regardless he is slated to be a NHL mainstay and solid two-way guy. The addition of Foote would complement the strong forward prospect core of Winnipeg nicely. 

14. Tampa Bay: Nick Suzuki (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Although his smaller stature may deter teams away, Suzuki is one of the most complete players in the draft. He can play on all special teams and excels at even strength as well. 

15. New York (I): Eeli Tolvanen (F) 

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Tolvanen, coming out of the USHL, has above-average shot and offensive instincts for his age. His defensive game needs work, but it is nothing that cannot be rounded out. The Isles have had some good picks in the mid-first round in the past, but whether they keep the pick remains to be seen. 

16. Calgary: Kristian Vesalainen (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Veslainen is a young and large forward that broke out this past season in Finland. His all around ability will help bolster Calgary’s subpar forward pipeline. 

17. Toronto: Juuso Valimaki (D) 

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Valimaki was above point-per-game this past season for Tri-City in the WHL. Toronto may trade this pick before the expansion draft (hello, Anaheim), but if they keep it, Valimaki is a good addition to their farm system. 

18. Boston: Kailer Yamamoto (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Yamamoto dropping to this spot would be a blessing to Boston. Although a dynamic scoring forward, he strays from the Big Bad Bruins model as he sits at 5’9/160. 

19. San Jose: Shane Bowers (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Bowers is good at a lot of things but not overly great at one thing. Not that that’s a bad notion. He’s a nice center for San Jose to cope for when Joe Thornton eventually leaves or retires. 

20. St. Louis: Martin Necas (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Necas has a lot of ability to slide up and down the draft board. He could go as high as the top-ten or slide down to near this position with St. Louis. The Czech center is brilliant offensively and brings to the table exactly what the Blues need. 

21. New York (R): Connor Timmins (D) 

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: A bit of a jump for Timmins, however he would be a good addition to the Rangers defensive core. He could make an immediate impact if Staal, Girardi, and/or Holden need to be replaced. 

22. Edmonton: Robert Thomas (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Edmonton is picking outside of the first 14 in a long time in this draft. Thomas is a do-it-all kind of guy. 

23. Arizona (via MIN): Erik Brannstrom (D)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Arizona could move this pick for immediate help, but Brannstrom is a safe bet if they keep it. A quick and offensive defenseman, he’d add to their blueline prospects nicely. 

24. Columbus: Klim Kostin (F) 

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: From the KHL, Kostin brings skill and talent to the ice every single night. Columbus isn’t afraid to pick Russians, either. But the questions that begs is: when is he planning to come (if at all) to North America? 

25. Montreal: Ryan Poehling (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Similar to Robert Thomas, the 6’2 Poehling can play in all areas of the rink. Being a natural center helps Montreal as well. 

26. Chicago: Lias Andersson (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Although not immediately ready for the NHL, Andersson has a high ceiling. His defensive game stands out, but he can put up a good amount of points as well. 

27. St. Louis (via WSH): Pierre-Oliver Joseph (D)

Chance pick is traded: high 

Analysis: It is likely that Doug Armstrong moves this pick for offensive help before the expansion draft. However, for purposes of this mock draft, if he keeps it Joseph is a solid bet. He broke out in the QMJHL this season with 39 points in 63 games.

28. Ottawa: Uhro Vaakanainen (D)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The smooth-skating Finnish defenseman has the ability to play on all special teams and in all 5v5 situations. 

29. Dallas (via ANA): Isaac Ratcliffe (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Dallas got this pick from Anaheim in the Patrick Eaves trade. Ratcliffe is a big power forward listed at 6’6/195. He potted 28 goals in 67 games with OHL’s Guelph this past year. 

30. Nashville: Kole Lind (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Lind has the potential to be a good penalty killer and middle-six scorer in the future. Nashville could go with a more dynamic presence here though. 

31. Pittsburgh: Maxime Comtois (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Comtois is an energy player who brings a lot of offense to the table. He’s the type of guy that could be able to slot into Pittsburgh’s lineup sooner rather than later. 

Other notable names that could go in Round 1: Jonah Gadjovich (F), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (F), Grant Mismash (F), Jake Oettinger (G), Nikita Popugaev (F), Morgan Frost (F), Dylan Samberg (D), Jason Robertson (F)

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

The outcome of the NHL draft lottery complicates roster decisions for Hextall, Nill 

The NHL draft lottery has come and gone for yet another year. This time around, however, it was quite controversial and unexpected amongst many fans and league management alike. 

Colorado, Vancouver, and Arizona, who were the three worst teams in the league, all do not have top-three picks this year. Instead, New Jersey moved up from 5 to 1, Philadelphia moved up from 13 to 2, and Dallas moved up from 8 to 3. 

The NHL lottery system is designed to prevent tanking, and that is exactly what it did last night. Colorado, Arizona, and Vancouver were all trying to ice competitive teams at the start of the season, but it did not work out. It just so happened that these three teams became casualties of a system that was put in place after the Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel draft. 

As for who won the lottery, it will have a significant impact on certain players being on the market come draft day. The top prospects in the draft — Patrick, Hischier, and Mittlestadt — happen to all be centers. 

To be fair, New Jersey does not so much fit into this category as well as Philadelphia and Dallas do. The Devils need a bonafide center desperately as they lack star power down the middle. Whichever road they go of the three aforementioned prospects, they will be in good shape. Adding one of them to Taylor Hall (and potentially Ilya Kovalchuk) puts them in a solid place moving forward with their rebuild. 

As for Philadelphia and Dallas, things are not as simple. Both teams already had a logjam of centers heading into this offseason and the outcome of the draft lottery does not make it any easier. Albeit, Hextall and Nill likely aren’t complaining. 

For the Flyers, down the middle they previously had Giroux, Filppula, Couturier, with a combination of other players including Bellemare, Vecchione, Cousins, and Weal playing on the fourth line. Along with the group of previously mentioned fourth liners, Boyd Gordon and Scott Laughton can also play in that role. Travis Konecny is a natural center as well but saw a large majority of his time on the wing last season and will likely continue to see so moving forward. 

In the end, the Flyers have some choices to make over the summer if they want to bring one of Patrick, Hischier, or Middlestadt on to the team next season. 

The player that could be in limbo throughout this whole situation is Sean Couturier. The 24-year-old center was already in trade speculation following the Filppula acquisition at the trade deadline, but now things are even more complicated. Couturier posted 14 goals and 34 points in 66 games last season and is more regarded as a defensive center. 

A handful of teams would love to get their hands on Couturier. It would be a tough sell for the Flyers and Hextall, but they made be forced into a move due to the outcome of the draft lottery. Regardless, the price on Couturier would not be cheap. 

In fairness, however, the Flyers could keep one of Hischier/Patrick/Mittlestadt or Couturier on the fourth line and work things out from there. Or, they could return their second overall pick to Juniors/the USHL. The latter is a lot more unlikely but not out of the question. 

The Dallas Stars are in a similar situation. The original plan heading into next season, according to Stars reporter Mike Heika, was to have Seguin, Spezza, and Faksa play at center. Devin Shore or Mark McNeill could fill in at fourth line center. 

This plan leaves out Cody Eakin, who Heika speculated could be traded before the expansion draft. Much like Couturier, Eakin is a defensive oriented middle-six center that a lot of teams would have serious interest in. 

Moving forward after the expansion draft, a lot of questions need to be answered for the Stars. They did not want to drop Radek Faksa down the depth chart for Cody Eakin, but will they think the same way for a bonafide center prospect? Only time will tell, but it is certainly up in the air. 

This situation with Dallas may unfold differently than people expect. Due to their already quality center core, they could look to trade down in the draft. A team like Colorado, Las Vegas or Vancouver would definitely be interested in one of Patrick, Hischier, or Mittlestadt. 

The Stars could go the root of taking a defenseman too. Cale Makar and Miro Heiskanen are both slated to go in or near the top-five of the draft. 

Also set to go high are Gabriel Vilardi and Michael Rasmussen, both of whom play center. 

There will rightfully be a lot of speculation in the upcoming months on behalf of the teams selecting within the top-three in June. The stunning outcome of the draft lottery has changed the outlook of the league and will show its true effects very soon. 

Stay tuned for more draft coverage coming soon. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Three teams that could claim Andrew Hammond off waivers

After failing to trade him, the Ottawa Senators placed 28-year-old goaltender Andrew Hammond on waivers earlier today.

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Trade Possibility: Jonas Brodin

Chuck Fletcher and the Minnesota Wild are looking to get better for next season, and they may have to deal one of their defensemen to do so. With Ryan Suter eating big minutes and Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba, and Jonas Brodin falling behind him, the Wild certainly have an abundance of NHL caliber defensemen. This does not include Mike Reilly, Nate Prosser, and Christian Folin either.  Read the rest of this entry

Shayne Gostisbehere for Calder 

I am officially on the Shayne Gostisbehere for Calder train. 

The rookie Flyers defenseman has been making headlines ever since his call up on November 12th. His résumé this season includes 38 points, including 15 goals, in 49 games, highlighted by the fact that he had a fifteen game point streak in the middle of the season. 

Don’t get me wrong, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Artemi Panarin, and others are all fantastic choices in their own right, but few players have had the impact on their team like Gostisbehere has had on the Flyers. Before his re-call, the Flyers were 5-8-3, a points percentage of .406. Since then, they have gone 27-15-9, good for a points percentage of .618. 

If he were to win, Gostisbehere would be the first Flyers player ever to win the Calder Trophy. 

As of now, I’d pin my Calder candidates as Connor McDavid, Artemi Panarin, and Shayne Gostisbehere. McDavid was injured for a large portion of the year which will hurt him in this race, but he has still been such an impactful player that it is hard to turn away. Panarin may lose some voters due to his age being 24 and his prior professional experience in the KHL. 

On top of all the goals, assists, and crazy stat-lines, Shayne Gostisbehere has also propelled the Flyers, almost single handedly, back into the playoff race. If they do wind up kicking out the Penguins or Red Wings for that final spot, it will be hard to argue against him. You have to wonder what would have been made of the Flyers season if he did not get the call-up when he did or even at all. 

Ghost Bear for Calder. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: one more month until the NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and is now about one month away. Teams are beginning to see whether or not they want to sell their players at the deadline meaning the speculation will continue to increase. 

The Buffalo Sabres are still shopping Tyler Ennis but to no avail yet. He has been disappointing this year and with a crowded top-six of young players in Buffalo, he may not have a spot. Due to his high salary, some will have to be retained. Jamie McGinn is also being looked at around the league, but Buffalo likes him. Could he pull a Matt Moulson and sign back with Buffalo in the summer after being traded? We’ll see. 

The Canucks have been looking around the league for potential suitors for Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis. The latter has had injury problems this year, however Vrbata would be a nice pickup for a team in the playoff hunt. Someone like Florida, Nashville, or one of the New York teams could have interest in the forward. 

The Coyotes are very reluctant to move Mikkel Boedker although nothing is impossible. The Danish left winger is due for a big pay increase from his current 3.75 million.

You wonder what the deal is with Yevgeni Medvedev and the Flyers is. He is a good defenseman and would be great for a playoff run for any team but the Flyers are still in the thick of the playoff race themselves. The Flyers also have an influx of young defensemen coming up through the system which could make Medvedev expendable. 

Keith Yandle continues to be shopped but nothing as of yet. It might be in best interest for the Rangers, given their closing window, to get this playoff run out of him. 

Columbus is expected to be very aggressive at the trade deadline. Although they have no big unrestricted free agents, certain names could be moved out such as Kerby Rychel. The David Clarkson contract has been thrown out there but to no takers. 

The Islanders seem to be at a gridlock with Travis Hamonic and Kyle Okposo. Hamonic’s trade won’t come until the offseason and the Islanders don’t want to give up Okposo for futures so they may end up keeping him and risk losing him to free agency. 

The Jets have equally looked around for Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Nothing is out of the question for the deadline for either player. Ladd is the more feasible option for the team, however. 

Don’t be surprised if the Anaheim Ducks make another move prior to February 29th. Likely a defense for offense move. 

More to come as the trade deadline draws nearer. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Flyers, Kings pull off unexpected trade involving large contracts 

The Flyers have unloaded two more of their bad contracts by trading Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the Los Angeles Kings. In return, the Flyers got back Jordan Weal and a third round pick. 

The trade winds were first thrown out there by Bob McKenzie and a few minutes later the trade was announced. 

Elliotte Friedman and Darren Dreger simultaneously reported that the Flyers would be keeping 50% of each salary. Even thought that is a large chunk of change, Luke Schenn’s contract ends after this season and Vinny Lecavalier’s current plan is to retire after the season. The Flyers clear just over four million dollars in cap space with this move, and also give themselves an extra roster space by acquiring a pick instead of an additional player. 

Ron Hextall again proved himself to be a competent and seemingly miraculous general manager with this deal. He has now traded away four bad Paul Holmgren contracts — Grossman, Pronger, L. Schenn and Lecavalier. 

From the Kings’ perspective, they get a much needed defenseman that is only on a one year deal. Lecavalier is on a multi-year deal, but his plans to retire make the burden extraordinarily less. 

This was a weird and unexpected trade, but it has the possibilities to work out for both teams. Time will tell for Los Angeles, but Philadelphia definitely has a winner. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Five players who haven’t lived up to early season expectations 

Thanksgiving has generally been the measuring stick for NHL teams on where they stand for their race to the playoffs, but this year may be different due to how close everyone is and how easily a spot can be stolen. However, the holiday is also a good spot to see where the players who make up your team stand. For some, this is a good sign. For many other players though, the time to turn it around is now. 

Jeff Skinner, Carolina

5 goals, 1 assist, -1 rating 

Skinner’s name has been surfaced in trade tumors over the past couple of years and his production has consistently dropped in that time. After an outstanding rookie year with 63 points, Skinner has only hit 50 points once in his three full seasons since. Albeit playing on a lackluster Hurricanes squad, the team still needs more out of their former seventh overall pick. Skinner is 23 and still could be moved before seasons end, and is currently on pace for 18 goals. 

Dougie Hamilton, Calgary

2 goals, 3 assists, -4 rating 

Many people were shocked when Boston traded the 22 year old defenseman to Calgary for a trio of picks this summer, but the transition hasn’t been smooth for Hamilton. An analytical atrocity last season, the Flames looked to shore up that issue in part with this acquisition, but not much has changed. Hamilton has struggled in both ends of the ice, and his offensive output simply hasn’t been on par with the .50 PPG pace he had last season. 

Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia 

0 goals, 3 assists, -11 rating

After a resurgence in his career last season with 32 points, Michael Del Zotto has seemingly fallen back into regression, although he still has 3/4th of the season to make amends. The 20th overall pick in 2008 by the Rangers found his game with Philly last year after a stint in Nashville, but like most other Flyers defensemen he has been unable to keep up in both ends of the rink. The Flyers are dead last in the NHL for goals for and eighth in goals against, and they need contributions from their defense to get out of both of those slumps. 

Michael Raffl, Philadelphia 

1 goal, 2 assists, -3 rating 

After notching 21 goals last year, Raffl has flopped like most other Flyers forwards this year. Currently on pace for four goals on the year, the Austrian native needs to desperately pick his game up. 

Zegmus Girgensons, Buffalo

1 goal, 1 assist, -1 rating

Much like Raffl, Girgensons is only on track for four goals this year. Girgensons had 30 points last year, good enough to get voted into the all-star game by his Latvian countrymen. Not flashy numbers, but good for a defensively minded forward. Girgensons, like Hamilton and Skinner, is young (22 in January) and still has plenty of time to turn it around. 

This stretch at the beginning of the year is not the end all and be all for any of the players on this list or that could have made this list. With such close standings, many of the teams with players here can easily turn it around and make themselves into a contender. Three fourths of the season remain. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: Defensive Addition 

It’s hard to find a solid, NHL defenseman on the trade market before the deadline, let alone this early in the year. However, some options are there. Teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carolina Hurricanes are looking for help on the blueline amongst others. None of the names available are flashy, but they can get the job done for any team desperate for help. 

The “biggest” name on the market as of today is Dennis Wideman. The 32 year old can still put up points with 56 last season and 6 assists in 12 games this season, but his contract is scaring other teams off. His teammate Kris Russell has also been linked to trade talks. Russell lead the league in blocked shots last year and is on good pace to do so this year again. Whether that’s indicative to Calgary’s play or Russell’s individual play, nobody will know unless a trade happens. 

Bob McKenzie also reported the other day that the services of Luke Schenn, Roman Polak, and Matt Carle are available for the right price. Schenn and Polak could be moved later in the year, but Carle is an interesting name. He’s been brutal this year for the Lightning but they are still a win-now team so the price could fluctuate for a guy like him. It’ll be interesting to see how his storyline progresses over the year. Carle has two season left on his contract after this year at 5.5 million per, which will significantly decrease his value if he doesn’t pick up his game. 

The Jets also have an abundance of defensemen. Dustin Byfuglien won’t be traded until later this year, but players such as Paul Potsma and Grant Clitsome (although he is currently hurt) may be in play. Clitsome is entering into the final year of his deal and Potsma has one year remaining after this season at a reasonable price. Neither player has seen any in game action this year which could scare some teams off. If it comes down to it, the risk would be worth taking because they don’t have the contractual issues some other options do. 

As the season progresses, we’ll get a clearer look at the standings to see who needs help and who doesn’t. Although it might not be for a defenseman, also keep an eye out for Anaheim and Ottawa to be exploring on the trade market soon. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Winners and Losers of Day One of the 2015 NHL Draft

It was an exciting first day of the 2015 NHL Draft, one of the most exciting in years. It saw played such as Robin Lehner, Dougie Hamilton, and Milan Lucic traded before the draft even started, and a bunch of other deals during the draft. Some deals left us scratching our heads, but others were great and out of the blue for teams. Here are our winners and losers of day one. 
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Jakub Voracek: Advanced Stats Warrior

Flyers fans have grown accustomed to the lethal tandem of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the top line. Giroux’s success and talent are apparent to all hockey fans, but Voracek’s contributions are not as well known. Voracek broke out in a big way in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, scoring 46 points in 48 games. He followed that up with 62 points in 82 games this past season; he did this while posting his lowest shooting percentage since 2010. Voracek’s production ability is very strong, and it is reasonable to see him be just short of a point per game pace next season (think 75-80 point range). Read the rest of this entry