Tag Archives: Jordan Eberle

It’s time for random NHL predictions

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Andrew McGilligan | Out of WriteField

Reading all of the NHL predictions can leave you wondering what to believe. Some predictions are conservative, others completely off the wall. What it comes down to is no one has a magic 8-ball, it’s basically educated guess work – some more educated than others.

With that in mind, here are some predictions for the 2013 NHL season, both conservative and going out on a limb.

Stanley Cup Champion:

Who I think will win – Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve got arguably the two best players in the NHL in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, another top 10 scorer in James Neal and a potential Norris candidate with Kris Letang. The Penguins were ousted in the first-round of last season’s playoffs by the Flyers, thanks, in large part, to horrendous goaltending.

Marc Andre Fleury cannot be that bad again, a full season of Crosby and Malkin, and a strong supporting cast including new addition Brandon Sutter will be too much for any team to handle.

Dark Horse – St. Louis Blues. On paper the Blues might be the most balanced team in the league. A strong core of forwards will be bolstered with the addition of Vladamir Tarasenko. The rookie Russian winger was averaging a point-per-game in the KHL before coming to Blues training camp.

The biggest question for the Blues is if the goaltending duo of Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak can repeat last year’s brilliance in the crease. There’s got to be some regression, but if one of them gets hot heading into the playoffs, the Blues could be in the Cup final.

Hart Trophy:

Who I Think Will Win – Evgeni Malkin. The Russian sniper will make it back-to-back MVP campaigns. He’s in game shape having played in the KHL and will reunite with Neal on Pittsburgh’s top line. The duo had great chemistry last year and that should continue.

Dark Horse – Jordan Eberle. Of all the players in the NHL, Eberle strikes me as the one ready to breakout and advance to the superstar level with the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Claude Giroux. Eberle will be the captain of the Oilers in a few seasons and the undisputed leader of the team. I think he has a legitimate chance to win the scoring race this season. He’s been playing in the AHL alongside linemates Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the trio will start the season together. I think the Oilers ascendance back to NHL relevancy will coincide with Eberle’s rise to dominance.

Norris Trophy:

Who I Think Will Win – Shea Weber. A season like Erik Karlsson’s in 2011-12 doesn’t happen very often, which is the reason he won’t be repeating as the Norris Trophy winner. Instead, Nashville’s Weber will take the honour as the league’s top D-man. Playing without Ryan Suter, Weber will take on an even bigger role in Nashville and prove the Predators were right in matching the offer sheet Philadephia signed him to in the offseason.

Dark Horse – Alex Pietrangelo. The St. Louis blue-liner had an excellent season in 2011-12 and had some pundits talking about a Norris nomination. He will continue his emergence as a top tier d-man and cement himself as a franchise cornerstone for the Blues. A shiny new trophy would help in contract negotiations.

Other predictions:

  • Despite having heard Roberto Luongo’s name pronounced correctly, Don Cherry will continue to call him La-Longo.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs fans will continue a decade’s long tradition of believing this is the year their team wins the Stanley Cup – it most certainly is not.
  • Pierre McGuire’s head will explode on air after getting too excited about a big Dion Phaneuf hit. NBC will get him put back together for the second period.
  • TSN’s Gord Miller will continue to talk about goaltenders being in the midst of a shut out during games, bucking the hockey tradition of not mentioning a goalies shut out while the game is happening. Several old men will threaten to never watch TSN because of Miller’s antics, then realize they’re in a room by themselves and no one is listening.
  • The smile on Rick Nash’s face will remain for an entire season as he keeps looking at his jersey and realizing it has no Blue Jackets.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers will continue to pursue ginger-haired players via trade to compliment Giroux and Scott Hartnell. It’s all part of GM Paul Holmgren’s plans to weird everyone out with a team of Epic Gingers.
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Consider this before you draft

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Andrew McGilligan | Out of WriteField

With a little more than a week to puck drop, there’s no shortage of interesting story lines for the shortened NHL season. Poolies are busy cramming in advance of their hockey pool drafts, so here are a few things to keep in mind as your draft date rolls around.

Young Guns in Edmonton

Two factors to consider when drafting players in a shortened season is age and conditioning. Age is obvious as there won’t be as many off days in a condensed schedule and younger legs should be able to handle the wear and tear better than those of a 10-year veteran.

Conditioning really means have they been playing during the lockout either in the KHL, other European leagues, junior hockey or AHL. Three Edmonton Oilers meet these criteria perfectly: Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The trio have been skating together this season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL and Nugent-Hopkins also played for Canada at the World Juniors.

The trio is in game shape and should have a leg up on a lot their competition – even the ones who have been playing during the lockout – as they’re skating, often times, on the same line in Oklahoma City. Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov also meet the criteria, but being rookies lends a bit of uncertainty to their game, however, they could be good players to gamble on in your draft.

The key player for Edmonton is Eberle, he’s coming off a great year and looks poised to be the top star on this young, exciting Edmonton team.

Staal to the top six

The numbers Jordan Staal can potentially put up as a top six forward with the Carolina Hurricanes should be enough to make poolies drool. As a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the past few seasons, he was behind all-world centres Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

In Carolina he will get a chance to be a top six forward and benefit from first-line power play duties and increased ice time. The opportunity gets even better when you realize he could be flanked by the likes of his brother Eric, Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin. Jordan Staal has the chance to have a breakout season even in an abbreviated 49-game schedule. He could be the steal of the draft if you can score him after the second round.

Rookie to Watch

While most of the eyes will be trained on the Edmonton duo of Yakupov and Schultz, one guy to gamble on having a solid rookie campaign is Mikael Granlund. When it looked like the lock out was coming to an end, the Wild pulled him from the lineup of the AHL’s Houston Aeros to ensure he’d be healthy and ready for camp.

Granlund has adapted well to the North American pro game registering a point-per-game pace with 21 points in as many games this season with Houston. He’s well versed in playing against older competition as he’s competed against much older players the past few seasons in the top pro league in Finland. The forward should find a home in Minnesota’s top six.

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