Monday, January 4, 2010

Pacific Division Review/Outlook


What Are My Players Worth?

This is what most GM’s are probably mulling over right now. Buotte’s blog yesterday got me thinking about the trade deadline. Though we are still a few months away from that deadline, trades in hockey can happen at any time. Take the Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina for Jason Chimera trade from last week for example. Extremely random players, teams, and time of trade. But that is what makes the second half of the season so exciting, anything can happen. Over my next few posts I am going to analyze a division each day regarding where they stand and what they can bring to the table as far as trades go.

PACIFIC DIVISION:

ANAHEIM DUCKS

While Anaheim might not be having a dismal season just yet, they certainly are underperforming as a whole. Outside of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan, no one is really turning heads. Undrafted and unknown (as of yet) prospect Dan Sexton has come into Anaheim and posted 6 goals and 5 assists in 15 games. Already having made a few trades early on in the season, the Ducks have given up on the most of their veteran defensemen. While they do have some solid dman prospects, for the Ducks to make any push towards the playoffs may need a veteran offensive defenseman at the helm. Bobby Ryan has been trade bait for quite some time now, but this year it doesn’t appear the Ducks can afford to lose him. There are not many NHL-ready prospects kicking at the door in the minors.

DALLAS STARS

Though posting a solid record, the Stars are having the same issue the Ducks are with scoring. Brad Richards, James Neal, Loui Eriksson, and Mike Ribeiro have done most the scoring up-front. All of posted great numbers thus far, but there is a serious depth issue up-front. Like Neal and Eriksson, Jamie Benn is making good strides at becoming a solid third liner at the NHL. However, Fabian Brunnstrom and Steve Ott might see their time in Dallas dwindling. Brunnstrom, a highly touted prospect from Sweden had a solid rookie campaign last season. Dallas fans have yet to see any of that carry over to this season as he has only posted 1 goal and 6 assists in 23 games. He was recently sent to the minors and it will be interesting to see how he performs there. While Ott may not be the worst player ever, he certainly is not the 1st round caliber prospect the Dallas brass saw in him. He plays a lot like Sean Avery, maybe even more of an instigator nowadays, but struggles to find any sort of consistency. Playing his 7th season in the Dallas system, a team in need of a pest with some mediocre skill may have some interest. Last season it looked as if Marty Turco needed a replacement. This season however Turco has rebounded and returned to his old form. Though one could suggest Dallas move back-up Alex Auld and a prospect for a young goalie down the road.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Having a perfect blend of youth and experience has paid off thus far for the Kings. Posting 51 points to this date is above average for the Kings. With Jonathan Quick carrying the load at goaltending, he has posted a tremendous 22-13-3 record with a 2.57 GAA and .910 save percentage. While no one is going to say back-up Erik Ersberg is anything special, he hasn’t really been needed, only playing in 5 games. Should Quick go down, Jonathan Bernier playing for the King’s AHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs should be more than capable of coming up and stepping in. It is tough to say what the Kings would be willing to ship out and what they need to bring in. Stacked with solid prospects in Manchester, they may be willing to cut ties with some of the older prospects in order to bring in some extra grit. Though the Kings do indeed have a tough guy in Raitis Ivanans, he is not going to put up any points.

PHOENIX COYOTES

Through all the ownership problems and the franchise having a constant question mark over it, the players have not let that bother them. No one expected anything good to happen in Glendale this season. Boasting a roster of mostly unknown prospects and players to be considered washed up (Adrian Aucoin and Robert Lang), everyone is contributing. Not one player has 15 goals yet, in fact the team leader in points is Shane Doan at 26. But they are getting help from most the players on the roster, something the Ducks and Stars wish they could get as well. Looking at the standings you see a 24-14-4 record. Then you look at the stat sheet, something doesn’t add up. But scroll down that list to the goaltending and you may get a better perspective. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has had more than a standout season. Posting 5 shutouts through today, he is most likely head of the Vezina competition right now. The Coyotes could benefit from having some better 5th, 6th, and 7th defensemen on the roster. Obviously it isn’t hurting them, but it can only help them from adding a young defenseman that can contribute immediately. However the Coyotes are operating with a limited budget.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Never afraid to deal at any point in the season, many wondered how the Heatley trade would work out; well it has worked out just find. There are not many holes in the San Jose lineup, and their 27-8-7 record proves that. I’m curious to see if Marc-Edouard Vlasic is dealt at some point. After having a good season last year, he has only 2 goals and 8 assists to count for this season. Supposed to be an offensive defenseman, those are not staggering statistics. It will be up to the brass to decide if they want to keep him and use him in a more stay at home role, or ship him out for someone who can fill the offensive minded role more.



In a few days I will move to the Eastern Conference and look at the Atlantic Division. Fresh off the Winter Classic, the Bruins are back in action tonight vs. the Rangers which should be an intense game. The Bruins just signed Miroslav Satan to a one-year deal. That left many people scratching their heads, but perhaps they wanted a more reliable player than Byron Bitz. Good day all.

8 comments:

  1. also the fact that the trade deadline is like two days after the olympics end means that there are three weeks before that were NHL GM's won't see NHL teams play, which may mean that if there isn't a transactions freeze we could see a lot of deals go down early.

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  2. Very good point. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I forget how the trades were during the 2006 winter olympics. May have to go back and look at that.

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  3. Dunno how eager Dallas should be for a young goalie as a backup. Turks is still going string, and will probably be a lifer there in Dallas. He's not going anywhere anytime soon, and should something horrible happen to him (injury), they'll probably want a vet like Auld able to step in, not some greenhorn.
    The Kings are a pleasant surprise this year. Seems like they managed to shed all their dead weight and are getting production from some serious unknowns. They won't win a Cup this year, but are poised for a couple years of playoff appearances. I'd say they could use a mid-aged leader who's seen some playoff time, to serve as a backup mentor for Ryan Smyth. Like a wise old uncle to Smyth's wise old granpa.
    Vezina for Bryz? Hmm, we'd have to see how the rest of the season pans out. If the 'Yotes don't make the second round of the playoffs, I'd be tempted to say "No."
    The Sharks choke in the postseason every year. At least they've been good for my Fantasy team though.

    Satan feels like a cattle-prod for the B's. He's that guy who the staff can point at and say "This dude gets your spot on the roster if you don't start producing points." I can't really think of anyone I'd ship out in favor of him. He's a healthy scratcher, IMO. The one-year deal is proof of that. They won't resign him unless he starts throwing up hatties every night, which will be tough to do in that scratcher role.
    Satan isn't a banger like Bitz, so he doesn't fill the same role. Sobotka has spark, and it'll be interesting to see if he goes back down to the P-Bruins when Lucic gets healthy again.

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  4. I know he isnt the same role as Bitz, but when Lucic is back they will rely on him for that. But I dont see the Bitz I saw last year. Last year when he got called up he played the rough style he did in Providence. BUt this year he seems almost toned down? I dont know. I dont watch all the Bruins game, but I have watched enough to see his play. I actually like when Hunwick played up front.

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  5. Satan is a soft pussy, Wheeler is on his way out.

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  6. Wheeler blows. Most overrated on the Bruins roster in the recent years. At first, I enjoyed him, now I could care less where he goes. I've heard rumors floating around that the Thrashers are shopping Ron Hainsey in return for Mikko Lehtonen and Andrew Ference.

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  7. Wheeler had two goals and an assist last night. Any thoughts anybody? Satan also played 14+ minutes. I didn't watch the game, does anybody know how he looked?

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  8. Satan has actually looked decent (A hell of a lot better than I thought he would). Wheeler is a streak scorer kinda of a couple lucky goals and the puck sitting just right for him. As opposed to another streak scorer Ryder where the pucks are just not sitting right at all, and nothing is going right. I'm not a big Wheeler fan but I think he would excel in a system like Atlanta's that is more offense friendly than the Bruins defense first. He doesn't really fit in in Boston's scheme IMO.

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