May 27 2016 08:00AM
Samuel Girard likely has the most offensive potential of any defenceman in this draft class. He's the single most productive defender in junior hockey and he's accomplished that feat as a 17-year-old. Under normal circumstances, this would be enough to launch many a defenceman into the top ten of their class regardless of position.
We're not talking about a normal defenceman, though. Girard plays such a high risk, high reward game that one scout I spoke with at the CHL Top Prospect Game called him a fourth forward. That particular line of criticism is usually exaggerated or unfounded entirely when spent on high point producing junior defenders, but in this particular case it's grounded in reality.
Under the right circumstances, Girard can iron these wrinkles in his game, though. The tools readily available in Girard's toolkit, like his skating, vision, crisp passing and general slipperiness aren't so easily developed from the ground up. Those among countless other reasons culminated in Girard ranking 26th overall in our consensus rankings.
May 26 2016 05:00PM
Long the foundation upon which the Carolina Hurricanes built their franchise, Eric Staal was finally dealt this season at the trade deadline to the New York Rangers for a bevvy of prospects and picks. The move signalled Carolina's enthusiasm to rebuild from the bottom up, but also the relative decline of the once dominant Staal.
Now, at 31-years-old, the former second overall selection is staring down free agency for the first time in his 11 season career. Though Staal's offensive production waned to pedestrian levels this season, he remains a dominant two-way force down the middle of the ice -- capable of pushing the needle in less obvious, but nearly as relevant fashions.
Staal's performance as a Ranger (a modest six points in twenty games) indicates he might not be staring down the hefty pay-day we all spent much of this season anticipating. That fact, among others, puts Staal into a rarified class of free agents, likely in need of a short-term contract with which to bet on themselves, as they attempt to adjust the market for their services accordingly.
Should the Canucks throw their chips on the table?
May 26 2016 11:00AM
The Vancouver Canucks likely made the worst trade of the off-season a full month before it officially started, dealing Jared McCann and a pair of draft picks (their second and fourth round selections in 2016) to the Florida Panthers for Erik Gudbranson and a fifth round selection in the 2016 draft.
It will be McCann, a second and a fourth for Gudbranson and a fifth. All picks this year— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 26, 2016
May 25 2016 02:00PM
Over the next month, we at NHLnumbers are going to be taking a look at where each team in the league currently stands based on what we learned from them last season, and where they realistically can and should go this summer with the resources and cap space they have.
The Vancouver Canucks and their fan base just endured one of the worst, most drawn out and fruitless seasons in recent memory. That's no small order given that the Canucks are just two seasons removed from the John Tortorella era, in all its infamy. They set out to make the playoffs and failed. Miserably. They wound up finishing third last in the entire league and are now further in their halfway-rebuild to show for it.
Of course, one could hardly blame the Canucks or they're management team entirely. There was no accounting for the injuries to Brandon Sutter, Dan Hamhuis, Henrik Sedin, etc. that riddled the Canucks lineup at the most critical parts of their season. I don't think anyone expected Radim Vrbata to fall so far off from last season. The Canucks didn't help themselves last off-season, but it's not like they were loaned any by lady luck, either.
May 25 2016 01:00PM
Jason Botchford kicked a hornets nest yesterday when he invoked the season-long battle between hockey analysts over which defenceman reigns supreme. In the blue corner: Dan Hamhuis. Formerly in the red corner: Kris Russell.
It's the trade deadline all over again. Well, to some extent. I mean, nothing has actually happened just yet. It's strictly speculation, albeit terrifying all the same. Then again, I'm of a different, more analytically inclined hockey mind than most.
I'm curious... what are your thoughts on this debate? Would you rather the Canucks pursue Russell in free agency than re-sign Hamhuis?