Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pre-Draft Thoughts

The first round of the NHL Draft will take place and will be televised at 7:00 EST on Versus Friday night. Rounds 2-7 will be the next day, but will only be on the NHL Network.

So let me just sprout some random thoughts:

The Top 5-7 picks are toss ups this year, just as they were last year year. There are however, two guys who are certain to go as the first two picks.

Kyle Turris has been scouted by the Philadelphia Flyers for years, and assuming the Blackhawks don't take him, Turris is sure to go #2. But then who goes #1? It could Cherepanov, but Russians have a history of laziness, and Cherepanov could be the biggest risk/reward pick in the draft. Expect the Blackhawks to take Patrick Kane, ranked #2 on the International Scouting Reports. He would be the second American in two years to be taken number one and even though he's a bit undersized, scouts are calling him the most gifted player in this draft.

So who comes after that?

Offensively, there's Jakub Voracek, Sam Gagner, Mikael Backlund, James VanReimsdyk, Logan Coture and lastly, Angelo Esposito. Esposito has had hype for about two-three years now and was always expected to go number one. But a down season has him ranked all the way to #9 on the International Scouting Report. Esposito could be the biggest value pick five years down the road.

AVALANCHE SHOULD TAKE...
With the fourteenth pick, the Avs aren't likely to see any of these offensive marvels. (Except possibly Coture) And that's a good thing, because the last thing we want is temptation. If the rumors about the Avs possibly signing Peter Forsberg or Chris Drury are true, we don't want any more offense. We had plenty of it last season and it definitely wasn't a problem. We need defense, and the top rated guys are Keaton Ellerby and Karl Alzner. If either of those guys were to, by a miracle, fall to #14, the Avs would snatch them up and consider them a major steal. If both are taken, a guy like Jonaton Blum, a defensemen who helped lead the Vancouver Giants to the Memorial Cup or Tommy Cross, a stay-at-home defenseman who also had 20 points in 25 games last year in college, would be great picks for the Avs.

As soon as Sunday Night rolls around, look for my draft recap and my winners/losers segment!

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Awards Show Tonight - Two Avs Involved

The NHL Awards Show airs tonight on Versus and CBC. And in America, I expect the ratings to be lower than dirt. Regardless, the NHL Award Show is a great night for fans and players alike.

The Candidates for the Major Awards and My Predictions:

Hart: Sidney Crosby, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo
My Prediction: While Brodeur and Luongo both had equally great seasons, how can you deny the 19-year-old face of the game who lead the entire league in scoring? Sidney Crosby takes it.

Vezina: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kipursoff, Henrik Lundqvist
My Prediction: You can cross off Kipper and Henrik from this list, as it is a two horse race. While Brodeur did set the wins record this year, Luongo had just one less and he did it in less games. Brodeur had the better team in front of him, so I'm going with Roberto Luongo.

Calder: Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Paul Stastny
My Prediction: Sure, Malkin was basically handed the award before the season started, and most Avs fans thought Wolski would be here instead of Stastny. But Paul has been incredible this year, knocking Anze Kopitar out of this race. He outscored Malkin in the second half of the season and set a new rookie scoring streak record. There's no way Staal will get it over Malkin, so it becomes a two horse race. My vote goes to Paul Stastny.

Selke: Jay Pandolfo, Rod Brind'Amour, Sammie Pahlsson
My Prediction: Pahlsson is a former Av, so I'm sort of pulling for him. If you watched the Ducks this season, you'd understand that Pahlsson is the runaway winner in this. Winning the Cup didn't hurt either :P

Jack Adams: Lindy Ruff, Michel Therrien, Alain Vigenault
My Prediction: Lets forget abut Ruff winning this award because of how much of a favorite his team was coming into this season. It's very rate that the Jack Adams goes to a coach whose team was SUPPOSED to do well. That leaves us with Therrien, who took a young Penguins squad with two rookies playing key parts, to the Playoffs. We also have Vigenault, who coached the Nucks to a division title in the toughest division in hockey. However, if not for the Sedins, who knows where they would be. Michel Therrien takes this one because of his ability to turn around a club that was in last place last year and he had the guts to put Jordan Staal on the penalty kill in his first game. Not bad.

Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger
My Prediction: A pair of ducks and one wing. Dinner anybody? All three are great candidates, and it's not surprised they come from the West, which was signifcantly better in keeping goals out this year. I think the Ducks had the stronger defensive club this year, but they also had stronger players. Lidstrom and Niedermayer will be pretty close, and in the slimmest of margins, voters will look at the ice time (a huge stat for d-men) and Scott Niedermayer will take it home.

Lady Byng: Joe Sakic, Pavel Datsyuk, Martin St. Louis
My Prediction: For no other reason than I want him to win, I choose Joe Sakic.

Other:
Lester B. Pearson: Sidney Crosby

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ducks Win - Let the Off Season Begin

First off, let me say my congratulations to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and their fans. They had an amazing season and definitely deserved to win it all.

Some thoughts I had while the Ducks were lifting the Cup:

-"Man, this should be the Avs."

-It's amazing how the Ducks were mocked and critisized for their new jerseys in the beginning of the year, but not one word has been mentioned since. Interesting...

And in other news, the Sabres, the other team to make a drastic change, got pretty far as well.

-Why would Scott Niedemayer not shave his beard? I understand the good luck/bad luck and the tradition of the playoff beard, but come on, you're the captain. He now has to live with that awful looking beard in every picture of him hoisting the Cup as a Duck.

-Teemu Selanne lifting it was my favorite by far. Jumping up on his skates as he FINALLY gets to drink from the best mug in the history of the world. A very touching moment with his wife, and if this is his last game in the NHL, it's been a great career and the Hall of Fame is his next stop.

-The call at the end was terrible. A monotone "and the Ducks win the Stanley Cup." Lacked the excitement. Maybe he had too much time to think about it.

-Conn Smythe should have gone to JS Gigure. Stole games for the Ducks all the way through and outdueled Hasek.

-NBC didn't cut the Cup off for a horse racing update or the local news! Woo Hoo!

-Gary Bettman is so full of crap. That smug little smile. ....

-"Man, this should have been the Avs."

It's been a great season, and I'll be back in a few days with some Avalanche free agent rumors and some draft info.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Sens Must Win Game 4

I hate when people say a game is a must win when a team won't be eliminated if they lose. But I won't practice what I preach, and I'll call Game 4 a must win.

Two reasons:

This year, Anaheim is 3-0 when having a chance to eliminate a team in their own building. If they win tonight, they'll have a chance to make it a perfect 4-0 in front of what will be an electric Anaheim crowd.

Momentum is also an issue, as Ottawa has all of it. They not only need to win this game, but score early to do so. JS Gigure just let up five goals. The Sens need to kick him while he's down. If the Ducks win this game, their confidence will be soaring on the plane ride back to Anaheim.

My Prediction:

Game fours are always the toughest to call. Anaheim IS the better team, but after being outplayed in Ottawa and having to play another game in Canada, it will take a lot out of them. Desperation will have to be there, but I think Ottawa will take this one at home.

3-2 Sens

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Avs Signings

I hope that no one has forgotten that this blog is STILL about the Colorado Avalanche. But of course, since the only thing to talk about is the draft, I figure that can wait until after the Finals.

The Avalanche have made a few signings over the past few weeks:

Jaroslav Hlinka: According to the Avalanche website and various others, he's 30-years-old, and a 5-10 185 pound playmaker who was the best player in the Czech League last year.

-He sounds like an insurance policy in case Tyler Arnason has a terrible year or if Svatos continues to struggle. The Avs certainly don't need anyone else who can set up goals, but he could be good on the third or fourth line if he is defensively responsible.

Jordan Leopold: The Avs need a top defensive pair and I truly believe Leopold can be part of it. Last year was a disaster, as he was injured for almost all of it, but hopefully he can rebound and make this one suscessful.

Kurt Sauer: I'm not crazy about it, even though Sauer played well towards the end of the season. The Avs have other guys who I can see filling his spot. Cumiskey being one of them. I was completely impressed with Cumiskey last year and hope he'll be given a bigger role this season.

Jeff Finger: How can you not be crazy about a guy named Finger? After his first two games, he looked like he was comfortable on the blueline and became a force near the end of the season. Very responsible and definitely has the capability of becoming a second or third defender, if not better. Last season, he played in 22 games and had a +10 rating. Not bad!

David Jones: I'll admit I don't know much about him, but according to the Colorado Avalanche website he was a unanimous selection for Ivy League Player of the Year and is a right winger, which will help with depth. More info to come as I learn more about him.

The Avalanche defense certainly needs to be stronger and these signings indicate that. Currently, here are the ines I would like to see be the guys:

1. Leopold
2. Liles
3. Skrastkins
4. Finger
5. Klee
6. Vannanen
7. Cumiskey

Last year, Quenville went to a seven guy system, and these are the ones who should be in this year. I think all Colorado fans are sick of Sauer and Breisbois, and hopefully, Breisbois is out of town by the start of the season.

Look out for the Avs to make a big move in free agency, possibly Sheldon Souray.

Stanley Cup Game 3 Preview coming up.

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