Monday, February 19, 2018

Flyers Get a Goalie in Mrazek

2018 Season July 1st, 2018
To Philadelphia POS Age GP Wins Points Cap Years Cap
Petr Mrazek G 26 22 8 22 $4 mil 0 RFA
To Detroit POS Age GP Goals Points Cap Years Cap
2018 Conditional 4th Round Draft Pick
2019 Conditional 3rd Round Draft Pick

As soon as Michal Neuvirth found his way to the injured list this weekend, the pressure was on for the Philadelphia Flyers to find an everyday NHL goalie to help guide this team into the playoffs, where the Flyers sit somewhat comfortably... at the moment.  The Flyers sit 3rd in the Metropolitan Division and without two top goalies, the rumblings were out there that they were kicking the tires on Petr Mrazek in Detroit and sure enough, the deal got done on Monday night.

Mrazek, a restricted free agent this summer, likely ensures that those two conditional draft picks are pegged to whether or not he re-signs with the Flyers, maybe some kind of playoff conditions on one of them as well.

The 26-year old Czech doesn't have stellar numbers this year, but he was playing on a Detroit team that is in the middle of retooling, maybe even rebuilding, these days, so it is forgiven to a point.

With two mid-round picks going the other way, the Flyers are not giving up a lot to stay in the playoff race and they also have made the goaltending situation a lot more competitive, once Brian Elliott and Neuvirth return from injury.

This is a pretty big gain for Mike's team, as I am to believe that there are some side bets going on, which are not posted on the webpage, that would suggest that he's in a race with table mate Troy and their proxy partner, Stacey C..  Mike has a small advantage over Troy's team and now he gets an immediate starting goalie out of this deal, which could concrete any side bet, if the Flyers continue to play well.

Avs' Johnson Out Indefinitely

The Colorado Avalanche may have some decisions to make here and quickly.  This weekend, the Avalanche lost two key defensemen, including pool defender Erik Johnson, for an indefinite period of time and now they have to ask themselves whether or not they are really in the mix for a playoff spot, 5 points out of the wild card, 6 points out of 3rd in the Central Division, as the trade deadline rolls up.

Johnson is the most significant loss, as he ranks high among the league leaders in ice-time, not to mention having 7 goals and 22 points in 56 games.  Johnson was lost in the game against Edmonton on Sunday, suffering an upper-body injury, and there is no timetable for his return at the moment, which has to have some significant doubts rolling through the team's management.

For Grant, midway through Monday's action, has dropped down to 7th place, but only 1 point out of 5th, 33 points out of the money.  Grant's defense hasn't been very good this season, ranking 22nd in the pool with only 72 points this year, so he'll have to count on his forwards to pull the weight, if his team is going to secure any money this season.

Olympic Pool Preview (Day 6, Feb 20)

The men's ice hockey tournament resumes tonight in PyeongChang, with the qualification round, which is made up of the eight teams that didn't earn a bye into the quarterfinals and the tournament has now become a win and you stay in format, bracketed down the line.

With that being said, now the game-winning goals gain an extra bonus point, so not only do you get a point for the goal itself, it's now 2 points for a game-winner.

The USA will get the Slovakians in the early game of the day in Korea, our 8:10pm start tonight.  Both teams were 1-0-1-1 in Pool B and they'll face each other once again in the qualification round.  The Americans won their round robin game, 2-1, so it was close enough not to sleep on it this game being one-sided.

The hockey pool would prefer the Americans to go through, as their picks outnumber the Slovaks, 15-3, but the pool leader, Chris, doesn't have any Americans and he has one Slovak, Ladislav Nagy.  If you could call a Slovak win an upset, Chris would be okay with it.

The winner of this one will go on to face the Czech Republic in the quarters.

The midnight game in the Mountain Time zone will feature Slovenia and Norway, the 2nd-best team in Pool B against the last place team in Pool C.   Slovenia had a record of 0-2-0-1, winning both their games in overtime, while Norway didn't register a win, but did get an overtime loss, going 0-0-1-2.  This match-up clearly favours the Slovenians, since Norway only scored a couple of goals in their round robin games.

Only two players in this game are featured in the pool, Patrick Thoreson of Norway, belonging to Don, and Jan Mursak of Slovenia, belonging to Steve.  Don starts the night only 2 points out of the lead, while Steve is 8 points back.

The winner here gets Russia in the quarters.

Finland will get the host team from Korea in the qualification match, as the Finns held the best record, not to get a bye, and the Koreans scored one goal in their round robin games.  The expectation here is that this game won't be close.  Finland has been very good, so far, scoring 11 goals in three games, but just fell short of the bye, while Korea allowed 14 goals.

This is the best represented qualification game, thanks in large part to the mandatory Korean rule, where everyone is now expected to lose a player after this game, and this could be a game where a few teams make some hay on the leaders, since Chris only has one Finn... but it is the best Finn, Eeli Tolvanen.

Canada awaits the Finns... errr, I mean, the winner of this game.

The last of the four qualification games is between Switzerland and Germany and much like the USA and Slovakia game, this could be a evenly-matched game here too.The Swiss were 1-0-0-2 and the Germans were 0-1-0-2, with the Swiss having the better of the two goal differentials too.  This could be well played and if you had to pick a favourite, it could be the Swiss and the Germans could very well upset this one.

The two countries each have three players taken in the pool, six pool teams spread out the wealth in this one and Chris doesn't own one of those teams.  I'm sure the six teams represented in the pool are hoping for a barn burner!

Sweden is the lucky recipient of the winner in this game.

There you have it!  Tune in... there could be some good games!

Isles' Greiss Lands On IR

The New York Islanders faced off against the Minnesota Wild in today's early game and they did so without goaltender Thomas Greiss dressed and in the lineup, as he was placed on the Injured Reserve on Sunday morning, due to a lower-body injury.  As we all know by now, the IR means that Greiss will miss at least a week, but the Islanders coaching staff didn't seem overly optimistic that their German keeper would only miss the absolute minimum.

Greiss has been splitting the net with Jaroslav Halak for the better part of this season and things have gone pretty well, as the 32-year old has made 24 appearances this season, posting 11 wins and 1 shutout for 24 points, ranking 279th overall in pool scoring.

Dale B. had taken a big chance with Greiss in the draft, taking him in the 2nd round, so by his numbers, he has been a bit of a dud pick, ranking at the 24th player taken in the 2nd round out the draft.  Nevertheless, Dale's team still holds a money spot, despite the shortcomings of Greiss' season, but if this injury is a long-term thing, he will miss out on starts for an Islanders team, which is in a playoff spot and playing pretty well.  That's points taken off the board at a bad time of year.

Noon Player Notes in the Draft (Feb 19)

It was slightly touched on in the goalie announcements earlier this morning, but Robin Lehner was held out of today's game against the Washington Capitals with a lower-body injury and just to confirm a little bit more, the coaching staff for the Sabres are saying that they don't believe that this injury is too major, rather it's just a day-to-day issue. It could be a good excuse not to dress the number one guy in an early afternoon game, but for now, it sounds like Lehner is going to watch from the press box and Linus Ullmark will back-up Chad Johnson.  Oh, let's not forget... Lehner's name has been floating around as trade bait, so we can have that morsel to chew on too.

For Kristy & Don, they are not quite out of the money race just yet.  Their team opened the week in 7th place, only 35 points out of 3rd, which isn't impossible, but it does get rather difficult, if their number two goalie can't go.

The dreaded 'c' word has been tossed around in Colorado and it does appear to be floating around in the Avalanche crease.  Jonathan Bernier has reportedly been diagnosed with a concussion and since the word doesn't carry the same kind of overwhelming fear that it used to, not very long ago, it's still something to keep an eye on.  Bernier had helped the Avalanche to a pretty good run, trying to climb their way into the Western Conference wild card, but now that job may be left to Semyon Varlamov for a stretch, which isn't a bad option.

Scott's team has been trying it's best to work its way out of 24th place, but it can't quite seem to put enough points on the board.  A bit of his recent success, like getting out of 25th, was largely in part to Bernier's run in Colorado.  Without him in a semi-regular start now, might put him back in the conversation for last place again.

The New Jersey Devils have been playing pretty well of late and the coaching staff wants to make sure that everyone is on the same page and working at their optimum level.  On Sunday, against the Hurricanes, the Devils coaching staff opted to make rookie defenseman Will Butcher into a healthy scratch, as his numbers have really tailed off in recent weeks.  The Devils have still played well, but Butcher had been identified as someone who could probably do a little bit more.  No word on how long this hiatus will be, but he's day-to-day for now.

Cam's team dropped from 1st to 3rd in the rookie scoring race this past week, the only real mention that his team has left this season.  Butcher's lack of scoring is certainly a part of the reason why his team has faltered here, but it isn't to say that he can't get it back.

The Philadelphia Flyers now appear to be in the market for a goaltender, since Brian Elliott is already down for weeks and on the weekend, Michal Neuvirth went down with a lower-body injury of his own and now the Flyers, who are in the midst of a playoff race, are in need of a solid goaltender option, since it sounds like Neuvirth could be out a while too. It's not good news for either goalie in the Flyers organization, but those are the perils of the business.  There's no official word on the extent of the Neuvirth injury, but we're not optimistic.

It wasn't a good weekend for Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks, as the scoring defenseman appears to be dealing with an injury of his own.  Reports have surfaced that he had left practice on Saturday with his suspected issue and he couldn't finish Sunday's game against the Dallas Stars, because of the injury, so now we're waiting to see what the injury is.  If it is anything serious, you could be fairly confident that it will end up on the blog before too long, but we'll consider him day-to-day for right now.

So, for Troy and his 16th placed team, these injuries to Neuvirth and Burns will really put a damper on all the head way his team was making up the standings.  Last week, his team jumped up a couple spots, from 18th place, and is still eyeing up Mike's team in 15th, but can it happen still?

Goalie Announcements (Feb 19)

Early hockey games are the worst, especially when you sleep in on a holiday Monday!  Somehow, however, I might actually get a goalie post done today too, which would be remarkable... especially, if it's on time.

The early nature of these games seems to mean that there will be some guessing done here today, so bear with me some more!

Devan Dubnyk (Brenda & Seward) versus Jaroslav Halak (Benson)
With some injury news on Long Island this morning, which will be touched on after this post is finished up, the New York Islanders don't have much choice than to go with Jaroslav Halak this afternoon against the Minnesota Wild.  It remains unclear who the Wild will go with, until they hit the ice for warm-ups, but one could still lean towards the number one, while the backup in an early afternoon game is always a safe move too.

Philipp Grubauer (Grant) versus Chad Johnson (N/A)
Word out of the Sabres camp is that Robin Lehner is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury, so he won't be participating in today's afternoon tilt between the Capitals and Sabres at KeyBank Arena.  This sounds like an all-backup affair, as the Capitals will give a start to Philipp Grubauer, which doesn't seem to matter too much to Grant's team, as it's a start either way.  Grant has one of those teams that is chasing down 3rd place at this point in the season and his team opens the week 32 points back.

Tuukka Rask (Clayton) versus David Rittich (N/A)
The Calgary Flames have an early start against the Boston Bruins on Family Day in Alberta and it still doesn't sound like Mike Smith is ready to go for the Flames, leaving the undrafted David Rittich to tend to the Flames net.  The Bruins have confirmed that it will be Tuukka Rask today and Anton Khudobin tomorrow in Edmonton, suggesting that the Flames are now the stronger of the two Alberta teams these days.

Craig Anderson (Tony) versus Pekka Rinne (Dale B.)
I can't see any reason why this wouldn't be the match-up, but I don't think there will be any confirmation in time, before the early game gets going here shortly.  Craig Anderson against Pekka Rinne, as the Senators are playing for pride and trying to give an argument not to dissolve this team at the deadline, while the Predators are chasing down the Central Division title, 2 points back of the Jets with two games in hand.  If both teams had something to play for, this one may be more exciting, but Nashville just has the strength these days and it's kind of scary.

Jonathan Quick (Chris) versus Anton Forsberg (Derek B.)
It's a regular evening game in Chicago, so there should be no real dancing around with the starters between the Kings and the Blackhawks.  The Kings are trying to make a run, so they will be more than likely going with Jonathan Quick tonight, while the Blackhawks have confirmed early on today that it will be Anton Forsberg tending their net tonight.  It isn't much of a match-up in the pool, but it isn't to say that this isn't an important game, one way or the other.

John Gibson (Tony) versus Marc-Andre Fleury (Scott)
Under the glitter and the bright lights of Vegas, it will be a prime time match-up between the Ducks and the Golden Knights and both teams should be, albeit unconfirmed, going with their top keepers tonight.  John Gibson to go for the Ducks, while Marc-Andre Fleury has been red hot for the Knights, both teams possibly meeting in the 2nd round of the playoffs, if the bracket goes their way as it stands today.

Week Twenty Newsletter

It's Family Day in most of Canada and it's President's Day down in the US and the latter will mean that there is some early hockey going to today and I generally like to finish these Newsletters ahead of the action, so I will likely be abbreviating this one a little bit, since I'm running late. These Olympics have my sleep schedule all over the place and I was able to play catch-up this morning, if only a little bit. Bear with me, it will be the bare minimum here today.

And of course, when you're in a bit of a rush, there is always going to be some tie-breakers, right? Thankfully, the Player of the Week for Week Twenty isn't too difficult, as three players finished with 8 points, but two of them were goalies and since the first tie-breaker is goals scored, Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning was always going to be Antti Raanta of the Coyotes or Keith Kinkaid of the Devils.

The Tampa Bay forward played in four games this week, potting a goal and an assist against in Toronto on Monday, another assist in Buffalo on Tuesday, then headed home for a goal and 3 assists against the Red Wings on Thursday and capped it off with an assist against the Devils on Saturday.  2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points and there we have our Player of the Week nod.

Given that he leads all skaters in scoring, 2nd overall in pool scoring, it does seem somewhat surprising that this is only his first Player of the Week nod of the season, but it is.  His 31 goals and 77 points in 56 games has his name firmly entrenched in the NHL's MVP award race, but he still trails teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy for the hockey pool MVP race, still behind by 6 points.

Neil had some pretty good picks this year, but not quite enough in the grand scheme of things, but he can be proud of his 1st round pick, taking him 8th overall, as he certainly got great value for his selection this season.

Two teams were able to crack the 40-point mark in Week Twenty and we almost had three teams, when it was all said and done.  Four was even a possibility, if the pucks were bouncing the right way just a little more.  In the end, a pretty good race ended with one team really getting out there and pulling away a bit, as Stuart's team finished with 48 points, a season-high this year, topping Dale B.'s 41 points in Week Six.  This is also Stuart's second Mover & Shaker nod in the last three weeks and he's firmly holding onto 1st place, because of it.

Undoubtedly, one of the leading reasons for Stuart's ascent up to the top of the standings (and arguably, Jeremy's descent) was the injury to Cory Schneider in New Jersey, as Keith Kinkaid, already mentioned as one of the candidates for Player of the Week, has been great in his absence.  Kinkaid was a Waiver Draft pickup for Stuart's team and he has cashed in well of late.  His 8 points in Week Twenty was great, helping to guide the way to another Mover & Shaker nod.

Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins finished with 7 points, while Taylor Hall of the Devils and Tyler Myers of the Jets each had 6 points, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins and Brayden Point of the Lightning each had 4 points.  Somehow, Stuart really packed his team with a huge number of good scorers this season and really hit the jackpot, when the injury prone players like Malkin, Hall and Crosby haven't been hurt much this year.

It all seemed really unlikely, but there you have it.  Still, there are seven more weeks to go and the races are not over quite yet.

Speaking of Jeremy's descent in the standings, it continued in Week Twenty, thanks almost entirely to the injury bug, as his team spent a great deal of time on the news page and not on the score sheets, finishing with 12 points in the week and dropping another four positions, from 15th to 19th.  If this pool ever needed someone else to make some other teams feel better about themselves, it would be Jeremy's this year.

Corey Crawford and Gustav Forsling of the Blackhawks were on the news page all week, due to injury and demotion, respectively, and another Blackhawks player, Vinnie Hinostroza, was a healthy scratch for a game as well.  Red Wings players Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green missed a combined three games this week, illness and injury in these cases.  We all know about Cory Schneider and his injury situation and then Ottawa forward Ryan Dzingel needed the latter part of the week to handle some personal matters away from the team.

Do these guys not know that they are the life blood of a hockey pool team, collectively?  Unfortunately for Jeremy, this is his second Basement Dweller nod in the last three weeks and his season has no real redeeming qualities to it now.

The race for 1st place is quickly becoming a two-Greenley race, both are far from horses, but they'll continue to just count their lucky stars that their players are performing at a ridiculous level.  Stuart leads Benson by 11 points and now Benson is 17 points clear of 3rd place, which is not insurmountable, but it's seemingly growing, week over week.

Dale B.'s team still holds the 3rd place position, but his team is starting to sputter and the the gap between 3rd and 4th place is now shrinking, as Clayton's team is coming on strong.  The gap between the two sides is still 23 points, but it already shrunk by 16 points in this last week and that's a trend that Dale's team can ill-afford to continue.

Clayton's team isn't alone either, as 5th through 9th, is only 9 points back of Clayton and separated by only 4 points.  One good week and any of those teams are right back in the mix too.

The plus/minus leader, Steve, took a bit of a tumble in Week Twenty, like the volatile nature of this mini-game will have for his side.  In Week Twenty, Steve's team was a combined -7, dropping his overall rating down to +77, 28 points over two teams now, Cam's team and Dale B.'s, Dale's team making a bit more headway in the week here, instead of getting more points in the overall race.

Stuart's team had the big week in Week Twenty here too, finishing with a combined +17, but his team was very poor defensively earlier in the season and they had a lot of ground to make up.  His team currently sits in 10th with a +20 rating overall, well back of the leader.

I wasn't really going to make any mention of the PIM pool, until I saw that Wes' goon squad did tie the weekly record for penalty minutes in Week Twenty with 47, tying Eric's Week Eighteen effort.  I don't generally have the specifics in the weekly race, but I can say, Wes has done it without any contributions from one of his goon pickups in the last player swap, Zack Kassian of the Oilers, who hasn't been to the box, since being activated from the swap.  Weird, right?


I will cap off the weekly recap with the stats, which are remarkably good again this week, the pool has really stepped up and started to collect some points.  The record number of points last week, in 53 NHL games, was followed up quite nicely in a 51-game week, only 15 points shy of last week's record.  The pool collected 681 points, which was a better game-by-game average, thanks to some great participation levels across the board.  Sure, the injury board filled up (thanks Jeremy!), but we're going to wipe a bunch of names off at the beginning of play today, so that's good too.

We're going to be busy down the stretch, most weeks will finish with 50 or more games in the schedule, so there will be plenty of points to be had.  Enjoy the week, everyone!