May 27, 2014

Dobber Sports

2014-05-27

The New York Rangers are in a unique situation with their forward group at the moment. Currently, they have just two players signed past the 2014-15 season in Brad Richards and Rick Nash, with a group that includes Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot, and Dominic Moore as unrestricted or restricted free agents that need tending to this summer.

 

I think Brassard, Kreider, and Zuccarello have to be kept, which means guys like Pouliot, Boyle, and Moore could be on the way out after the campaign.

 

Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin will also need to be locked up after next season, so don't be surprised if Glen Sather starts shopping someone like Richards in the offseason. Given that he's 34 his contract will be hard to move, but there is never a shortage of teams lining up in the summer looking for a No. 1 center.

 

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Chicago finds themselves down 3-1 after dropping a 5-2 decision to Los Angeles on Monday. The Hawks actually outshot the Kings 24-21 but Jonathan Quick outdueled Corey Crawford in this one.

 

Speaking of Crawford, he has struggled since Game 1 and has given up at least four goals in every contest since. The Kings are taking advantage of point shots as Crawford really seems to be fighting the traffic in front right now. 

 

Patrick Kane got an assist to finally break his goose egg in the series. He’s still had two shots or less in three of the four games against the Kings, though. It just goes to show you that even on a team as deep as Chicago if your stars don’t perform, you will find yourself in major trouble. 

 

Marian Hossa is another Hawk that needs to pick it up. He hasn’t gone completely silent as Hossa is still picking up assists here and there, but he hasn’t found the back of the net since Game 1 of the Minnesota series. 

 

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Marian Gaborik notched his first goal of the series to give him a playoff leading 10. As an unrestricted free agent this summer, Gaborik’s playoff run is going to give him a huge payday somewhere. 

 

Anze Kopitar with a pair of assists to extend his lead in playoff scoring. I’m not sure there is a more quiet superstar than Kopitar. 

 

The Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin pair carried the Kings to victory on Monday, posting a combined four points and eight blocks. Just doing it at both ends of the ice right now. With Slava Voynov’s slight regression in points this season, maybe Muzzin steps up next year and takes a jump after a strong playoffs. 

 

Tanner Pearson’s goal gives him a five-game point streak and probably has officially destroyed any chance of taking him as a sleeper next season. Something tells me everyone will be on that bandwagon at this point. 

 

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With Barry Trotz becoming the next head coach of the Washington Capitals, will that spell a fantasy nightmare for Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and company? Check out Dobber's analysis of the hiring.

 

One point that Dobber made which I really agree with is the impact Trotz should have on Braden Holtby. Trotz's defensive style doesn't always bode well for offense and playmakers, but it certainly does help those between the pipes. The Caps should see a drastic change in their goals against next season, thus benefitting the netminders.

 

However, I'm still not convinced Washington is 100 percent confident in Holtby and view him as the goalie of the future, and showed as much with the moves they made last season. Unless they believe Trotz's magic will turn Holtby into an elite goaltender, don't be surprised if they decide to go after someone like Ryan Miller in free agency.

 

Whoever is in net next year for the Capitals figures to see an upswing in numbers because of Trotz and likely a boost in wins, too. With the former Nashville bench boss running the show, I fully expect Washington to climb the standings in the Eastern Conference.

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