Going into the offseason, I predicted two players leaving: Zane McIntyre and Jordan Schmaltz. Sadly, I did not predict Hakstol leaving. More on that in a bit.
Schmaltz, a former first round draft pick of the Blues, officially signed per Brad Schlossman. The signing itself, to me, comes as no surprise, though some of the comments on Brad's blog, for some reason, did. Some "fans" seem to think poorly of Schmaltz and his readiness for the NHL. The thing is, I don't think anyone, Schmaltz included (my opinion anyways), expects him to jump right to the NHL. But Schmaltz did do very well for himself at North Dakota. He showed improvement every year in Grand Forks and he decided to begin his trek to the NHL as a pro one year early. I'd expect nothing less for a first round pick.
It's a loss, but not an unexpected one.
The same is true for Zane. What else, other than a National Championship, could Zane accomplish? Hobey Baker? No. In my opinion, Ryan Miller winning the Hobey Baker is more an exception to the rule rather than anything else. True, Robb Stauber (87-88 for UMN) also won the award as a goaltender but in today's NCAA, it's not going to happen. Good luck to Zane in the pros. He's got a logjam ahead of him in net with Boston, but you never know. After all, I thought Boston found an excellent backup in Svedberg but he bolted for the KHL instead. Malcolm Subban is ahead of McIntyre and I'm sure there's at least one other vying for time in the NHL (no one is unseating Rask at the moment tho).
This leaves UND with Hrynkiw (sp?), Cam Johnson, and 2015 NHL Combine invite Martej Tomek in net. It will be interesting to see what happens.
UND has incoming freshmen D that will be interesting to watch as well. I've watched Wolanin and Hayden Shaw play in the USHL last season and I'm no evaluator of talent, luckily for UND. Shaw split the year in the USHL between Waterloo and Dubuque. Stats aside, I didn't notice much of him during the year. That's not good for a puck moving defenseman (which in the USHL means offensive-defenseman).
As for Wolanin, he was Captain this year of the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL. This speaks to his role in the lockerroom, even though my experience with watching him was highlighted mostly by him spending an awful lot of time after the whistle and after each period arguing with the officials. He was solid defensively, but not dynamic in my opinion.
How will this pair out with the returnees (and I'm assuming Keaton Thompson is returning as well). Who knows?
As for Hakstol...
I'm interested to see what Hakstol does in the NHL. It will definitely be an adjustment. Player attitudes are different. The game is a bit different as well. But most notably, Hakstol's "power" is different too. In Grand Forks, Hakstol is the coach, GM, Director of Player Personnel, Head of Player Development, Head Scout (even if recruiting is split between him and his assistants), and all that. In the pros, he's just the coach. He has input on the other aspects but no real power. It's like a higher profile, higher paying, demotion in a way.
I hope he does well and that his experience isn't as (apparently) unpleasant as Blais' was with the Blue Jackets. The Flyers aren't exactly playoff ready but they're close. They're lacking scoring, a 2nd line center, depth at all positions except defense, and goaltending. The NHL Radio on Sirius suggests that the Flyers only need a backup goaltender. Uh... Chris Mason is their backup goaltender. Emery was a has been that could've been and Zepp is a neverwas who is living the dream. As far as I'm concerned, they're desperate for a #1 after giving up on Bobrovsky (Columbus) only to see him turn around and get the Vezina 2 years later.
Heh. Chicago has to practically disband after this year due to salary cap. Corey Crawford is a name that has been popping up as someone Chicago will have to trade. Philly is stacked to overflowing with defensive prospects. Perhaps Crawford for a prospect and cash? It's not like Chicago can't find another goaltender. I mean, they signed an overage UDFA named Antti Niemi and won their first Cup in 60+ years. Crawford was at the point of becoming a bust when he finally stuck and won their second. Chicago remains a hot place for undrafted players to sign.
What do I know though?
Friday, May 29, 2015
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This is probably the first of many early departures by underclassmen that are sure to come in the next few weeks as college hockey team’s season’s end. Jake Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul were traded before the trade dead from the Duck organization to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Francois Beauchemin and there were rumblings that the Maple Leafs were anxious to get Gardiner into the Leafs system so this isn’t a big shock to anyone.
Russo's Rants ---- Lastly, according to multiple NHL sources, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed University of Wisconsin junior defenseman Jake Gardiner to an entry-level contract tonight. The former Minnetonka Skipper star had a fabulous final season with the Badgers with 10 goals and 41 points and was a mainstay on Wisconsin's second-ranked WCHA defense.
Gardiner can skate like the wind and will get a heck of a chance in Toronto. Brian Burke, who traded for him in the Francois Beauchemin deal, drafted Gardiner in Anaheim.