Draft day trades, intriguing free agency storylines, and more
1. The Cal Clutterbuck/Nino Niederreiter swap was an interesting one. It gives the Islanders arguably the two top hitting forwards in hockey (the alliteration line – Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck – perhaps?), and it gives the Wild a talented young winger who really rebounded well in the AHL this past season.
Niederreiter is a lock to make the Wild, but I'm not sure where. He was pencilled in by some Isles fans to play with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. However, his production did fall off a bit in 2012-13 down the stretch – only 14 points in Bridgeport's final 37 games. He was mad that the Islanders didn't even invite him to training camp. A fresh start will be great for him.
2. I wonder if Dallas knew they would be getting Valeri Nichushkin when they went out and traded for Sergei Gonchar? Gonchar is one of the most respected Russians in the hockey world, and he deserves a lot of credit for helping Geno Malkin get adjusted to the North American game and lifestyle. Expect him to have a similar impact on Nichushkin.
3. I'm not really sure why Hunter Shinkaruk slipped to pick 24. A lack of size, perhaps? He is 5-11 and 175 pounds – it isn't like he's really all that small. Shinkaruk is a guy who I am very familiar with (at least relative to the other 2013 top prospects). His game is equal parts Patrick Kane and Zach Parise. I'm not saying he is going to be better than either of them (nor am I saying he will be as good as either of them).
He skates and handles the puck in traffic like Kane, and he competes like Parise. The Canucks got a really good one. He'll likely spend one more year in the WHL before playing for Vancouver.
4. Can't think of a better place for Jonathan Drouin to start his career than Tampa Bay. He will get to see how hard Martin St. Louis works every single day, even at the age of 38, and he will get to feed one-timers to Steven Stamkos on a regular basis.
5. Is it finally Mathieu Perreault's time to shine on the second line? The Capitals won't be re-signing Mike Ribeiro, and they may opt to go much cheaper next season with Perreault in the two hole. Ribeiro was by far the best second line center Washington has had in the Alex Ovechkin era, but the team simply can't afford to meet his demands without hurting their ability to re-sign other important players (most notably Karl Alzner).
McPhee and the Caps could have glimpsed at Ribeiro's goals and assist count, considered their weakness at the center position, and then thrown wads of money at Mike Ribeiro. Instead, it appears they thought pretty carefully before making the decision to let Mike Ribeiro go to the open market. It's a bold move for a team already light on top-6 forward talent and facing what's shaping up to be a very competitive division next season, but ultimately it was the smart one.
So 2013-14 will be the year of the Great Matty P Second Line Center experiment. Game on.
6. Interesting draft day nugget – Dallas GM Jim Nill referred to Jamie Benn as a winger. Benn's offensive upside would be much higher if and when he moves back to the wing, but he has remained at center out of necessity. The Stars are very aggressively pursuing Vinny Lecavalier, and if they land him they may still be in the market for another center.
Expect the Stars to be very aggressive in pursuing Nathan Horton, as well.
7. From everything we have heard, it would be a surprise to see David Clarkson end up anywhere else than Toronto? Guesses on a contract? Four years and $20 million, perhaps?
Clarkson is a really good player – he does a lot more than hit and agitate, and he has incredibly hand-eye for creating deflections around the net. He would give the Leafs a different look in the top six, too:
James van Riemsdyk – Mikhail Grabovski/UFA – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Dave Bolland/Grabovski – David Clarkson
8. To those fantasy poolies hoping for Steve Mason to somehow emerge as Philadelphia's starting goaltender this fall – don't hold your breath. Tim Thomas wants to come back, and the Flyers seem like the perfect fit for him.
9. The Andrej Sekera acquisition frees up a spot on the right side for Ryan Murphy this fall. Jamie McBain has really struggled over the past two seasons in Carolina, and a fresh start in Buffalo will do him good. He's been a nightmare defensively, and his offensive game hasn't arrived yet. Sekera is a quality two-way defenseman who can play in all situations. For the Sabres, they are taking a chance on McBain in hopes that he can get his development back on track.
10. An interesting look at the Cory Schneider trade, and in particular how goaltenders are valued in today's NHL.
11. I'd expect Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur to split games 60/40 next season. Brodeur is a proud guy and still a good goalie, but Schneider is one of the best goaltenders in hockey. This trade was a great value move by the Devils, and a necessary one by the Canucks.
12. Patrick Roy has started to pencil together Colorado's top three forward units:
Ryan O'Reilly will move to the left wing on the top line along with Matt Duchene and his set-up man PA Parenteau. A good mix of offense and defense with this unit, and O'Reilly will likely have the defensive responsibilities of a center. He's a sneaky-good playmaker too – Duchene may hit 35-40 goals with these guys as his wingers.
Paul Stastny will center Alex Tanguay and Gabriel Landeskog. Both are natural left wingers, but one will shift over to the right side. This leaves rookie Nathan MacKinnon to center the third line with a lot of grit and physicality on his wings – Jamie McGinn and Steve Downie. These lines are far from set in stone, but they look really good on paper. Colorado just needs to add a defenseman or two who can move the puck up the ice with any sort of consistency….
13. As always, DobberHockey will be busy this Friday – Dobber and I will be breaking down every trade and signing, and there is sure to be a lot of discussion going on in the forums. Mike Amato will be jumping in to lend a hand as well, and you have all become familiar with his great insights and analysis over the past while as a writer and now an associate editor for the site.
14. The DobberHockey Fantasy Guide is out on August 1st – work is well underway. We are always looking to improve our product. With that being said, is there anything that has been lacking in previous guides? Any sections or columns or players you want covered? Comment away below.
15. My mailbag is open all week – ask your fantasy hockey questions here.