Smith, left, after one of his five points in 16 games with Tampa.
Trevor Smith is 28-years-old and entering his first season with a one-way NHL contract after touching six AHL teams since 2007-08. The Toronto Maple Leafs picked him up for a league minimum $550k which has to be a pretty great feeling for the guy, because as I understand it, that means you get 550,000 dollars.
Entering the 2009-2010 season, he was on the cusp of making the New York Islanders, and I (wrongly) wrote as much for Islanders Point Blank based on my time spent playing with him during the 2007-2008 season, and my assessment of the Isles team that year. It’s really quite difficult to make the NHL, you’ll be shocked to learn, and Smith just needed a little more time.
My biggest compliment for Trevor’s game is the same now as it was then, and leads me to believe that if given the right opportunity, he could be someone like PA Parenteau who breaks into the league a little older after some AHL seasoning, and becomes a quality contributor. (Frankly, I think had he received the opportunities of someone like Joey Crabb over the years he’d already be there, but I’m pretty biased in that view.)
That compliment: whether he realizes it or not, his ability to shoot the puck accurately and hard from seemingly anywhere in his stance was better than anyone else I’ve ever played with.
In baseball, they use “heat maps” to show where in the strike zone (or out of it) a hitter tends to have the most success. Some guys like their pitches belt-high, and some guys would rather golf it out of the dirt. The same is true for hockey. When you stay out after practice to work on one-timers with guys you learn where they like their passes: off their front foot, mid-stance, off their back foot or otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »
(Andy Marlin, Getty Images)
In 2012, the New Jersey Devils made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final and were the only team to win more than one game in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings. What makes the run particularly surprising is that the Devils missed the playoffs in the previous and subsequent seasons.
The Devils finished the 2010-11 season with 81 points, jumped up to 102 points in 2011-12, then dropped down to 48 points in 2012-13, an 82-point pace. It’s a remarkable trio of seasons, as the Devils jumped from 11th up to 6th in the Eastern Conference, then dropped right back down to 11th.
It’s enough to make you wonder exactly what happened in those three seasons and what will happen in the future, with the Devils losing both Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, while also adding some significant pieces. To go from well out of the playoffs to the Stanley Cup Final and right back to being well out of the playoffs is a stunning reversal of fortune, and it’s fortune itself that I want to investigate.
Read the rest of this entry »
It was one of the best stories on draft day earlier this summer: the New Jersey Devils traded a 7th round pick in 2015 to the Los Angeles Kings for theirs this year – the fourth last pick in the draft – so New Jersey could select Martin Brodeur’s son Anthony.
The internet (and humans with lives everywhere), collectively did this:
Anthony had a decent year playing for Shattuck St. Mary’s last season, posting a .923 save percentage, so it wasn’t that ridiculous that his name would be called. Buuut if we’re being honest, and we are, he almost certainly wouldn’t have been selected if his Dad’s name wasn’t Marty. Even he wouldn’t deny that. But still, neat story, no harm no foul, there was a cool moment with the father/son hug…you can read all about it here. In sum, neato spadeato.
Only…I’m not so sure his Dad and the Devils did him any favors. They may have actually done the opposite.
I could very well be wrong, but from what I’ve seen getting drafted in the late rounds seems to handcuff a player trying to skate his way to the NHL more than it does propel him. It’s limiting.
Obviously, there are some perks to getting drafted. First, let’s look at the pros of getting selected versus not for your average non-superstar NHL hopeful. Read the rest of this entry »
The NHL has released the 2013-14 NHL schedule, which means a couple things: one, it’s July, and July is a stupid sports-less month so this is very important, and two, some fanbases have cause to get upset about getting screwed by the league, which they’ve been dying to do in the absence of real hockey.
Nobody breaks the schedule down better than Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck, a great Nashville Predators blog. Hoag tracks the mileage of each NHL team and compares it to their miles traveled from previous seasons, while also noting the amount of times each team plays back-to-back games. Understandably, the winning percentage of teams in the second half of back-to-backs isn’t great, so that’s a pretty relevant note to make (we’ll talk a little more about those situations farther down).
First, the most interesting things of note from Hoag’s work:
The San Jose Sharks.
That’s a massive increase for the Sharks, who were hurt more by League realignment than any other team. That’s over 13,600 miles more than they traveled during the previous full season. The Boston Bruins saw the second biggest increase in travel, adding over 8,600 miles to their 2011-12 total. Read the rest of this entry »
How much weight do you place on a good playoff performance?
If you look back through the Chicago Blackhawks players between 2009 and 2012, Bryan Bickell is 13th out of 28 players (min. 10 GP) in points per game with 0.47. Bickell had 17 points in 23 games in the most recent postseason and is probably going to parlay that into a significant UFA contract.
It won’t be a smart deal, but it’s not like Bickell is a slouch of a player. Over a 5-year period, he’s sixth on the Blackhawks in even strength points per 60, and is 115th in the league, right around Artem Anisimov, Martin Erat and Pierre Parenteau.
There are some teams that won’t have too much hesitation signing Bickell to a few years with a fat paycheque as one of the more productive depth players in the league.
Read the rest of this entry »
The headline’s a bit dramatic, if only because who the hell knows what happens going forward with injuries and the potential for terrifyingly bad luck, but if everything stays the same as it currently sits, I feel like the Stanley Cup is waiting to be dropped from it’s dunk tank-like perch into Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks’ hands…if he can just throw a couple strikes at the target.
Last night was huge for Chicago. If Boston scores the OT winner they head back to the Windy City with three cracks to beat Chicago once. The Blackhawks would be in full second-guessing themselves mode, having blown multiple leads and having given up six. Quenneville might tinker with the lines, or the lineup as a whole. Crawford is strung up from a sturdy branch. Ray Emery starts answering more questions. The whole thing starts to unravel, because that’s how the reactionary world of sports works.
But winning heals everything, and in the process, the Blackhawks had a barrel full of back-monkeys jump off, which will entirely free their stars up mentally to play the game as they can again. Jonathan Toews starred as The Beast in the Crease and scored for the first time since May, a span of 10 games dating back to the Red Wings’ series. Patrick Kane scored his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final. Patrick Sharp got his second of the Final. Hell, they even scored a powerplay goal.
And further, Marian Hossa made it all the way through the game and now doesn’t have to play again until Saturday, which means he gets an extra day to heal up, and will definitely play in Game 5. Those of you who’ve played through injuries know just how valuable that extra day can be – where the one day off in between contests means you wake up going “Ughhh f*************k, everything hurts,” there’s the potential to feel human with the bonus day in there.
Now they’ve got two of three games in the Madhouse on Madison. Everything would be peachy and perfect if it weren’t for this one large, scary elephant hiding behind the dresser:
The hell is up with all those low-glove goals on Corey Crawford? Is this a thing? Is shooting there like using The Cheat Move in NHL ’94? Read the rest of this entry »
After the first period of Game 2, the Boston Bruins must’ve filed into the dressing room, plunked down in their stalls and exhaled a sigh of relief like a tornado had cruised through their town yet somehow skipped their neighborhood (fittingly, an actual tornado had done something similar during the first game). They had been outshot by a whopping margin, 19-4, but only found themselves down a goal thanks to the splendiferous goaltending of one of the league’s best, Tuukka Rask (“Two u’s, two k’s, two points,” as Bruins’ announcer Jack Edwards likes to say in the regular season).
As the Bruins emerged from their storm cellar to play the second period, something started to happen. The clouds thinned and parted a bit, and the play started to shift. The Bruins out-shot the Blackhawks 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6 respectively in the 2nd, 3rd, and overtime period, and eventually left the state of Illinois with a satisfying split.
If Generic Goalie A is in net for Boston, that likely doesn’t happen.
I have no idea if the phenomenon I’m about to describe happened to Chicago, because speculating on the mental state of an entire hockey club from my desk in another country is borderline ridiculous, but it did cross my mind when watching: Tuukka Rask might’ve “stopped” some shots in 2nd, 3rd and OT by discouraging players from ever taking them with saves earlier in the game. Read the rest of this entry »