A Halloween edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs newest signings

Kyle Dubas has been busy over the last couple of days working to get two players signed to contracts. One is Joey Anderson, who was the other piece in the Andreas Johnsson trade. The other was Michael Hutchinson, who most recently was on the Colorado Avalanche, playing playoff hockey.

Are the signings good and what do they mean for the future of the Maple Leafs? Well, both likely won’t be on the Leafs unless Anderson makes it next season. Hutchinson will likely be sent down to the Toronto Marlies and will play there next season, if there is one.

These are two interesting signings though. And here’s why (Happy Halloween!):

2019-20 Flames Report Cards Defence

With the NHL in a holding pattern until the floating start of next season, let’s start evaluating the 2019-20 season position by position. Today we’ll jump in on the blueline and grade the four players currently under team control that spent significant time with the Flames last year. While the marks aren’t as strong as they were the season prior, there were a couple notable performances.

Mark Giordano: B+

GP G A PTS CF% HDCF% OZS%
Regular Season 60 5 26 31 52.8 52.2 48.8
Playoffs 10 0 3 3 47.2 46.9 43.6

Coming off a Norris Trophy, Giordano was bound to take a step back from his A+ 2018-19. Posting a career season, especially one of that caliber, at the age of 35 is unheard of. Doing it twice in a row was too tall an ask. What wasn’t unreasonable, though, was for Giordano to remain a high-end defenceman and the best guy on Calgary’s blueline. I would suggest he did that…in the regular season.

For me, there was no question: Giordano was the team’s best blueliner prior to the pandemic pause. Sure his points were down from 74 the year prior, but 31 over 60 games is nothing to sneeze at. Giordano’s underlying outputs above (courtesy Natural Stat Trick) were strong, specifically considering he faced elite competition every night. Averaging more than 23 minutes per game, Giordano was still one of the league’s better d-men. Additionally, he and TJ Brodie formed a top-ten pairing by many metrics.

All of those things would suggest Giordano’s final grade should be higher than a B+, I agree. The problem is, things dropped off dramatically in the NHL’s Return to Play, which carries heavier weight. Much like the 2019 postseason, Giordano went from being an elite blueliner to, well, not. Statistically, everything took a step back, and that correlated with the struggles we saw while watching him in Edmonton. As such, an A regular season grade drops back a couple steps to B+.

Rasmus Andersson: B+

Rasmus Andersson

GP G A PTS CF% HDCF% OZS%
Regular Season 70 5 17 22 51.5 53.2 56.4
Playoffs 10 3 2 5 46.9 34.0 54.8

Andersson’s game keeps on progressing in the right direction, and the 80 games he played last season kept that trend going. Because of the interchangeable nature of Calgary’s deep blueline during the regular season, Andersson wasn’t a “top four” defenceman all season. Instead, we’ll put him in the “top five”, because five players were all within a minute of one another in average even strength ice time.

On merit, Andersson was a top four defenceman, though. His on-ice possession rate was third among Flames blueliners, trailing Giordano and Brodie. Andersson’s high danger scoring chance rate was best at his position and ranked fourth on the team. The guy is starting to impact the game positively everywhere on the ice and his rapid progression in part allowed Calgary to say goodbye to Brodie, Travis Hamonic, and others this fall.

Like many other Flames players, Andersson’s playoffs numbers don’t look anywhere near as good. While I didn’t think he looked particularly bad in ten postseason games, his pairing with Noah Hanifin spent a lot of time defending. Part of that was due to Hanifin struggling, no question, and I will say I really liked Andersson’s ability to step into the attack the way he did in August.

Noah Hanifin: C+

Noah Hanifin

GP G A PTS CF% HDCF% OZS%
Regular Season 70 5 17 22 50.3 53.1 47.1
Playoffs 10 0 4 4 48.1 37.5 53.8

When doing this report card on Sportsnet 960 radio, I gave Hanifin a C, but I’m upgrading it to a C+ a couple days later. I thought Hanifin was right there with Giordano when talking about disappointing playoff performances; I thought Brodie propped up Gio on one pairing, while Andersson did the same with Hanifin on the other. That said, Hanifin was definitely the more consistent half of his regular season duo.

Much like 2018-19, Hanifin spent the majority of his five-on-five time (647:13) with Travis Hamonic, although the latter’s injury issues meant a little more time was spent with Andersson (391:40). While Hanifin-Hamonic was very steady in year one, it wasn’t anywhere near as automatic last season. Both my eye and the numbers would suggest, however, that was more due to Hamonic’s struggles than anything else.

What keeps Hanifin in the C’s is the frustrating defensive miscues and bad pinches that remain a consistent part of his game. I do like a number of things: he’s a very strong skater, which helps the team’s transition game, and  tends to jump into the rush at the right time. I thought Hanifin had a solid regular season and a bad playoffs.

Oliver Kylington: C

GP G A PTS CF% HDCF% OZS%
48 2 5 7 48.1 47.1 60.3

The only body of work we have for the as-of-yet unsigned Kylington is the 48 regular season games he got into. Perhaps a C is too generous, because he really did struggle more often than not. But I’ll admit I’m grading on a curve, because we’re still talking about a 23-year-old with just 87 NHL games to his name. That said, continued results like last year will become more and more discouraging.

Kylington still struggles immensely on the defensive side, as evidenced by his mediocre shot and chance rates compared to a high zone start ratio. Among Flames regulars, no one started in the offensive zone more than Kylington, yet he did very little with that high ground. Sheltering a young, developing defenceman is normal, but Calgary needs to start seeing more progression.

Kylington’s raw skills are outstanding: he’s an elite skater, has good offensive upside, and has produced at a high level in the American League. Kylington remains a liability defensively, which is why the Flames are understandably uncomfortable pencilling him in as a regular next season. There’s still something there with Kylington and I don’t think it’s time to give up. In saying that, it’s hard to justify anything more than a C for last season, even on a sliding scale.

Vancouver Canucks re-sign defenceman Guillaume Brisebois

The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed defenceman Guillaume Brisebois to a one year, two-way contract. If he plays in the NHL, Brisebois will get $700,000, and will receive $125,000 in the AHL.

Brisebois is a left shot defenceman who has been solid on the Comets’ blue line. The Canucks have called him up in the past when the injury bug has hit, but because the blue line managed to stay healthy, his services weren’t needed this season.

Now it’s time for some fun facts about Brisebois’ advanced stats! His 5-on-5 goal differential was the highest on the Comets this season. He controlled 65.6% of the goals scored with 44 GF and 22 GA. And since it’s spooky season, it’s interesting to note he was on the ice for 666 5-on-5 shot attempts this season.

Brisebois tallied four goals and 11 assists with the Comets last season.

The Nation Roundup

Remembering Joey Moss; What teams have money to spend; Grading Kyle Dubas and the Leafs offseason; Flames report cards; Will the Canucks take a step back; When will hockey really be for everyone and more in this week’s Nation Roundup brought to you by Sumo Jerky.

In the Roundup, we go around the Nation Network and give you some of the best articles of the last couple weeks. Every once in a while it’s good to know what other teams are doing, or maybe you find an interesting article you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

LEAFS

Grading Kyle Dubas and the Leafs offseason (Nick Barden)

Zach Bogosian by the numbers (Jon Steitzer)

Where will Nick Robertson play? (Jon Steitzer)

NHL All-Canadian division could be for not with pilot project (Nick Barden)

CANUCKS

The best defensive pairings on the Canucks last season (Stephan Roget)

Even if the Canucks defense takes a step back this season it won’t be for nothing (Jason Jhutti)

Why the Canucks 7th round pick in the 2020 Draft was a great choice (Chris Faber)

14 bottom pairing defensemen still available for Canucks (Stephan Roget)

JETS

10 most impactful Winnipeg Jets: Dale Hawerchuk (Craig Jones)

10 most impactful Winnipeg Jets: Tie Domi (Craig Jones)

RED WINGS

New signing: An in depth look at Troy Stecher (Craig Jones)

New signing: An in depth look at Bobby Ryan (Craig Jones)

FLAMES

Report cards for the 19-20 Flames defence (Pat Steinberg)

Flames looking to add another right shot D (Ryan Pike)

Where does Mark Giordano rank among Flames Captains? (Ryan Pike)

Flames prospect update: October edition (Ryan Pike)

OILERS

Joey Moss made us all better (Jason Gregor)

Real Life Podcast: Joey Moss (NationHQ)

One game at a time (Robin Brownlee)

Hockeyfights.com – Scrap of the week

More from around the NHL

When will Hockey really be for everyone? (MerOutLoud)

What teams still have money to spend? (Tyler Yaremchuk)

The Fantasy offseason is Here

Prepare for next season with up to date summer transactions, line combinations and player projections for 20-21 at Dailyfaceoff.com

NHL 21 predicts the rest of William Nylanders career

It seems that every other day on social media, part of the fan base shares a post about how they really want the Leafs to trade away William Nylander. Each time that happens, his name pops up on the trending tab and the other half of the fans that recognize his value moans and groans about it happening yet again. I lean towards keeping the eighth pick in the 2014 NHL draft on the team and believe his presence helps the Leafs out a ton, even though it looks like he’s “not trying.”

So instead of complaining for the millionth time that not everyone in the fanbase agrees on Nylander’s importance to the team, I decided to turn this into an opportunity to look into the glass ball and see how his career will turn out according to EA Sports. That’s right, we’re doing another career simulation!

I last did this two months ago by simming Mitch Marner’s career with NHL 20 (spoiler alert, he turned out alright). Since that article has come out, a new game was released and I knew it would soon be time to do another one of these articles.

For those who didn’t read the previous article or forgot how this works, here are the guidelines that I will be following:

  • I can’t control the Leafs at all during the simulation. Before I started, I randomly selected a team that I will not touch at all throughout the duration of this experiment. I also turned on Auto-Sign so I can’t influence free agency.
  • Injuries will be on.
  • The simulation lasts as long as William Nylander is in the NHL
  • I’ll give brief updates on the season, mention if he wins any individual awards, and provide a five-year update breaking down his stats
  • If there are any noteworthy updates regarding the Leafs and the NHL, I’ll bring it up.

Before I begin, I’m not the first person to use an NHL game to simulate Nylander’s career. TendyBros on YouTube did it first and you can click here to watch the video after you finish my article.

Heading into the 2020-21 season, here is how the Leafs forward lines stack up:

Here are Nylander stats at the beginning of year one:

Without further delay, let’s begin the simulation!

The simulation

Year 1 (2020-21)

The Leafs start things off by posting a decent regular-season record of 43-29-10, which is good enough for third in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the NHL. Not bad considering the Leafs were not able to sign Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Joey Anderson for some reason.

Because Auston Matthews missed significant time due to injuries, Nylander stepped up offensively and finished third on the team in scoring with 66 points with 48 of them being assists (spoiler alert, this is going to become a common trend). While he was nowhere near the league lead in scoring, the Leafs are not complaining about that offensive output.

The same can’t be said about the team’s performance in the playoffs as they failed to advance past the first round yet again, this time by the Buffalo Sabres in six games. Nylander was only able to put up three assists during that series, while the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup during Alexis Lafreniere’s rookie season.

Year 2 (2021-22)

In the offseason, the Leafs were finally able to sign both Mikheyev and Dermott but saw Frederik Andersen depart for free agency and sign with the Carolina Hurricanes. Instead of looking to improve the goaltending position, Toronto decided to sign Chirs Tierney, Ryan Hartman, and Dmytro Timashov. (Side note: I laughed when I saw that Timashov was brought back) The Leafs are going with the bold strategy of a Jack Campbell and Joseph Woll tandem, let’s see if it pays off.

It does, as the Leafs finish the season with 101 points and sit third in the entire league behind only the Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning. Nylander also saw improvements in his regular-season totals, as he played the whole year and registered 79 points.

Too bad that didn’t translate to the playoffs as they were swept by Buffalo, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. Move over Boston Bruins, the Sabres are now the Leafs’ playoff demons. Nylander’s two points in three games did not do Toronto any favours in that series.

Year 3 (2022-23)

Morgan Rielly wasn’t able to re-sign with the Leafs and ended up with the Minnesota Wild in free agency. Toronto finally upgraded their goaltending by signing Thatcher Demko to a two-year contract.

For the third straight season, the Leafs finished third in the Atlantic Division and saw Nylander (who is now up to an 89 overall) have a productive campaign with 76 points. While they were able to avoid the Sabres in the playoffs, Toronto was once again bounced out of the first round of the playoffs. This year saw the Florida Panthers rake the Leafs in six games. Although Nylander played well in that series with four points in six games, it simply wasn’t enough.

To make matters worse, the Leafs watched Nazem Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche hoist the Stanley Cup.

Year 4 (2023-24)

Entering Nylander’s contract year, the Leafs looked to further upgrade the blueline by signing Adrian Kempe and Evgenii Dadonov. They also traded away Alexander Kerfoot to the Vancouver Canucks to help free up some cap space.

It was a down year for the team during the regular season as they barely squeaked into the playoffs with 93 points, finishing third in their division. Nylander also saw a slight dip in production with 70 points on the year. The playoffs were a different story as the Leafs finally made it out of the first round and got as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. But in a dramatic turn of events, they blew a 3-0 series lead and were eliminated in seven by the Carolina Hurricanes who went on to lose the Cup to the Avalanche.

Nylander’s 14 points in 17 playoff games saw him finish third on the team in scoring at a time they desperately needed it. He entered the offseason with his future in Toronto up in the air.

Year 5 (2024-25)

In a shocking turn of events, the Leafs decide to let him and Matthews walk despite having almost $30 million in cap space(!). I’m not sure who the GM of the Leafs team is in this simulation, but I’d imagine part of the Leafs fanbase wants him fired while the other is celebrating that Nylander is finally gone. He ended up signing with the Philadelphia Flyers on a seven-year deal and will look to help the city of Brotherly Love hoist the Cup.

In his first season with the Orange and Black, Nylander struggled offensively by posting just 57 points, his lowest output so far. Philadelphia made it in as a Wild Card team with 97 points but was outed in six games by the eventual Stanley Cup winners in the Lightning. Meanwhile, Matthews (who signed with the Winnipeg Jets) helped his team to a berth in the Finals.

Five years into the simulation, let’s see how Nylander’s stats fare:

Year 6 (2025-26)

In the offseason, the Flyers saw Blake Wheeler retire and take up a coaching gig. They also added the ageless wonder in Ilya Kovalchuk on a two-year deal.

Nylander had a bounce-back season as his point totals jumped up to 69 (nice) and played the entire year healthy. The same can’t be said for the Flyers who missed out on the playoffs by a few points due to a stacked Metropolitan Division. As he sat at home, the Lightning won their second consecutive Cup by outing the Avalanche in seven games.

Year 7 (2026-27)

Instead of looking to make major upgrades to improve the team, the Flyers decided to run it back and only make Craig Smith their biggest splash of free agent frenzy. Somehow, the lack of a cosmic shift worked as the Flyers won the President’s Trophy with 112 points.

It was also the best year of Nylander’s career thus far as he posted an impressive 94 points on the season, which was good enough for eighth in the entire league and the team lead. This translated into the playoffs where he led Philadelphia in scoring, but they were unable to advance past the first round as the eighth-seeded Rangers (who went on to win another Cup) ousted them in seven games. Poor Willy, he just can’t seem to catch a break in the postseason.

At seasons end, former teammate John Tavares decided to call it a day on his playing career.

Year 8 (2027-28)

Carter Hart departed for free agency and signed with the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers decided to sign a bunch of depth pieces to their roster rather than find a replacement, with Sean Kuraly being the most notable. Weeks later, the Flyers scrambled to add goalies and settled on Alex Nedeljkovic and Malcolm Subban. Although I’m not following them, the Leafs brought back Connor Brown and signed Sidney Crosby during the free-agent frenzy.

Nylander is in the prime of his career and his overall has jumped up to 91 overall, making him Philly’s defacto best player. It was reflected in his offensive output, as he finished tied for seventh in the NHL scoring race with 91 points (and a career-high 42 goals). He also led his team in points during the playoffs with 16, en route to a second-round exit at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. They went on to lose in five games to the San Jose Sharks in the Finals. I’m starting to think the Leafs made a mistake in letting Nylander walk back in 2024.

Year 9 (2028-29)

Shayne Gostisbehere may have walked in free agency and signed with the Anaheim Ducks, but the Flyers improved their depth by signing Evgeny Svechnikov, Lucas Wallmark, and Nic Petan.

Nylander saw his offensive numbers take a hit with just 80 points, while Philadelphia barely made it into the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the East. How close? Only one point separated them from the Panthers. That seemed to be a good luck charm as the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals led by Nylander’s 26 points in 26 games. This story does not have a happy ending as the Golden Knights eliminated them in six games.

Want to take a wild guess who won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year? I’ll give you a hint, it was a former Leaf. That’s right, it was Auston Matthews Dmytro Timashov!!! God, I love this game.

Year 10 (2029-30)

Philadelphia decided to stay the course and only made modest upgrades, with Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey being their biggest splashes on July 1st.

The moves seemed to pay off as the Flyers finished second in the entire league and sat atop the Eastern Conference with 108 points. Nylander had another strong scoring season as he led his team in points with 87, along with 12 points in the playoffs. Philly was unable to replicate the success from the season prior as they were couldn’t get past the second round in six games by the Hurricanes, who took home the Cup over the Edmonton Oilers.

We are now a full decade into the simulation, and Nylander has yet to earn any sort of hardware.

Year 11 (2030-31)

Ulf Backstrom was the Flyers’ major acquisition during the offseason, while the Leafs brought back an ageing Andreas Johnsson on a one-year deal.

Philly has some decent pieces here but their goaltending appears to be their weakest link. I’m not feeling too confident with this roster but let’s see if it works out.

As is the case with EA NHL games, this team goes on to have a solid campaign and crashes the postseason party with 101 points. Nylander is in his contract year and saw his numbers continue to dip with only 67 points. It was a completely different story in the playoffs as he finished second on the team in scoring with 22 points (behind Conn Smythe Trophy winner Pavel Buchnevich) as Philadelphia snapped a 56-year drought to capture the Stanley Cup!

Your eyes are not deceiving you, he really did go through his old team on route to capturing his first piece of hardware at age 35! The hockey gods continue to make the Leafs their punching bag. Free agency awaits the former eighth overall pick who probably has a preference for where he wants to be.

Year 12 (2031-32)

Instead of testing the market, Nylander decided to remain in Eastern Pennsylvania for two more years on a $16.47 deal. Additionally, the Flyers added Niklas Petersson and Carson Lambos to massive contracts to bring in some youth. The Leafs decide to sign Max Domi for one-year, making fans of Tie Domi very happy.

Philadelphia had a decent year but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs as they missed on the final Wild Card spot by six points. Individually, Nylander rebounded for 72 points in spite of failing to surpass the 20-goal plateau. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup in five games over the Oilers. Because of course they did.

Year 13 (2032-33)

After a mediocre year, the Flyers were busy on July 1st as they brought in Noah Dobson, Robert Nordqvist, and Shane Bowers on multi-year deals.

The signings helped big time since they improved during the regular season and returned to the playoffs. But the story of the year was Nylander who exploded for a career-best 101 points, which tied him with Andrei Svechnikov for the NHL scoring leader (!!!). While he didn’t win the Art Ross Trophy for some reason, he did capture the Hart Memorial Trophy, Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award. It took him a while, but he finally got his hands on some individual hardware.

Unfortunately for Nylander and the Flyers, this success didn’t carry over into the playoffs as they were taken out in the second round by the Rangers. To add further salt to the womb, the Bruins won their second consecutive Cup. He did finish his contract with 10 playoff points, so take that suckers!

Year 14 (2033-34)

Nylander agreed to remain a Flyer for another two seasons on a $19.39 contract, avoiding the open market for the time being. Tage Thompson, Simon Holmstrom, and Danny Bohinski were also brought in to help give the team more firepower.

It was a mediocre season for the Flyers as they regressed down to 90 points and missed out on the playoffs by a single point, with the Montreal Canadiens edging them out for the final spot. Nylander regressed hard from his career-year as he only potted 74 points and saw his overall drop to 84. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins denied the Bruins of a three-peat and went on to win the Cup.

During the offseason, Nylander unexpectedly decided to hang up the skates and retire from hockey at age 38.

As he returns home to Sweden to enjoy post-NHL life, let’s take a look at his career totals:

Takeaways

Like the last time I did this experiment, I think William Nylander did alright in the simulation all things considered. While he struggled to find much playoff success for the majority of his career, he came through in the end and picked up a bunch of hardware as well. There were a lot of funnier moments compared to Marner one (still not getting over Timashov winning the Conn Smythe Trophy) and his team success was not fully consistent, but I don’t think sim Nylander is complaining too much.

If you’re wondering how the Leafs did in the simulation, the third-round appearance in Nylander’s last season there was their best showing and settled into mediocrity the rest of the way. On one hand, I fully place the blame on the GM for failing to retain him and Matthews despite having more than enough cap space to do so. But I also get why he decided to head elsewhere considering how both teams did by the end of the sim.

By no means should you take the results as an accurate prediction of what will actually happen in Nylander’s career, because the sport of hockey is super unpredictable. Let this be a reminder to appreciate him and recognize his value to the Leafs. You may not want to admit it, but Nylander is one of the better players in the game right now and Toronto is incredibly lucky to have him.

So instead of coming up with yet another post clamouring for the team to trade Nylander away for a top-four defenceman, show him the respect that he deserves. Because if he leaves the team one day, he may just become one of the top scorers in the NHL and you’ll be shaking your fist clamouring “Why did we let him go? They should have held onto him!”

You have no idea what you have until it’s gone. Or you can just tune out everything I wrote and return to your pastime of trying to trade him again. Whatever floats your boat.

Jets Loan F Skyler McKenzie to EHC Freiburg of Germanys 2nd-Tier League

Continuing the league-wide trend, with the NHL’s 2020-21 campaign expected to begin sometime in December or January, the Winnipeg Jets have loaned another one of their top prospects overseas, allowing him to participate in live games over the next couple of months.

Despite spending his entire career in North America up to this point, the Jets announced forward Skyler McKenzie has been granted permission to play with the EHC Freiburg Wolves of the DEL2 for the 2020-21 campaign. But as part of this agreement, the 22-year old must return to Manitoba when hockey returns this winter.

Selected by the Jets in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, McKenzie returned to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL during the 2017-18 season and backed up his stellar results from his draft-eligible 2016-17 campaign where he produced 42 goals, 84 points, 0.58 goals per game, and 1.17 points per game through 72 contests.

Over his 72 games in 2017-18, the 5-foot-9 left-winger served as a crucial member of his team once again, recording 47 goals, 87 points, 0.65 goals per game, 1.21 points per game, along with 268 shots on net. Helping his club reach the conference semi-finals, the left-hander scored three goals, eight points, 0.25 goals per game, and 0.67 points per game through 12 postseason games.

Thanks to his strong showing with the Winterhawks, McKenzie was promoted to the Manitoba Moose for their 2017-18 playoff run, producing one goal through three games. Proving he was ready for the next level of competition, the Alberta native opened the following season in the AHL but struggled to replicate his strong production from his junior career.

Through his 47 games in 2018-19, the youngster generated just eight goals, 16 points, 0.17 goals per game, 0.34 points per game, 60 shots on net, along with 28 penalty minutes – easily the worst performance of his young career.

Despite the woes he faced in his first campaign with the Moose, McKenzie was able to perform a little more effectively during this past season and even enjoyed some success on the team’s power-play unit. As a result, the undersized forward witnessed a slight increase in his overall production during his second season in blue and white.

Over his 58 games in 2019-20, the goal-scoring winger created nine goals, 23 points, 0.16 goals per game, 0.4 points per game, 95 shots on net, a pair of power-play goals, and 18 penalty minutes.

Considering EHC Freiburg’s regular season doesn’t begin until Nov. 6, McKenzie still has some time to adjust to his new surroundings before taking part in his first live game since Mar. 8. But when he returns to North America, it’s expected the young winger will begin the 2020-21 campaign back in the AHL with the Moose.

Flames loan Glenn Gawdin to EHC Visp Lions in Switzerland

The Calgary Flames have found a place for one of their most promising prospects to play. The club has announced that forward Glenn Gawdin has been loaned to the EHC Visp Lions of the Swiss League, Switzerland’s second level of pro hockey.

In a weird coincidence, former Flames forward Vesa Viitakoski is an assistant coach for Visp.

Gawdin, 23, was signed by the Flames a couple seasons ago after going unsigned by the St. Louis Blues after his selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. He was a superb two-way junior player, but had an offensive explosion in 2017-18 and has since emerged as one of the Flames’ most NHL-ready forward prospects. He was named to the AHL’s All-Star Game last season and was called up to Calgary, but didn’t play a game.

Gawdin joins a bunch of Flames-contracted players currently staying busy in Europe while they wait for the 2020-21 NHL season to begin:

  • Finland: Juuso Valimaki (Ilves)
  • Sweden: Eetu Tuulola (Vasterviks)
  • Russia: Dmitry Zavgorodniy (SKA St. Petersburg), Artyom Zagidulin (Metallurg Magnitigorsk)
  • Slovakia: Martin Pospisil (HC Kosice)

(Johannes Kinnvall is under contract, but on loan for the full 2020-21 season.)

Sven Baertschi wants to find his way back into the NHL, but can he do it with the Canucks

After an acrimonious departure from the Vancouver Canucks out of training camp last year, Sven Baertschi spent the season in Utica, which left a bad taste in his mouth.

Baertschi felt that he belonged in the NHL, but the Canucks thought differently.

It became clear that the Canucks didn’t feel Baertschi — or Nikolay Goldobin, for that matter — were defensively responsible enough to justify keeping in the lineup. They never really looked back, either.

Sure, they called Baertschi up when Micheal Ferland went down with an injury in November, but he appeared in just six games before being sent back down to Utica.

Whether you agree with it or not, the club made their decision and didn’t go back on it.

But could Tyler Toffoli and Josh Leivo departing in free agency, along with a plethora of concerns around Ferland’s future make the Canucks rethink their stance on Baertschi?

Jake Virtanen is likely going to get a long look on the first line alongside Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller, which theoretically means a spot will be open on the third line.

A large part of whether Baertschi fits on the third line depends largely on how the Canucks want to structure their lines when it comes to matchups. If they take the same approach that they did for the majority of last season and construct the third line with the intention of allowing them to reap the offensive rewards of playing against weaker matchups, Baertschi makes sense.

Losing Toffoli and Leivo hurts the Canucks’ forward group, and as the Canucks continue to look to shift their roster construction away from a set top six and bottom six (which got hemmed in their own end far too much) into more of a top-nine forward group, the opportunity could be there for Baertschi.

“Sven will come to camp,” said general manager Jim Benning a couple of weeks ago. “We’ll see where he’s at, where he fits, and if he deserves to be on the team, he’ll be on the team. If not, he will be depth for us. But that will be up to Sven.”

That makes it sound like the Canucks are indeed open to the idea of Baertschi on the NHL team, but only if he shows a commitment to the defensive side of the game, which is where they see the most issues.

That being said, when he was in Utica, Baertschi showed well on that side of the puck.

“Sven looked to me like a player who wanted to get back to the NHL level,” said former CanucksArmy contributor Cory Hergott. “He didn’t look like a player who was mailing it in. I think that over the course of the season I might have thought that his effort level lacked a bit in maybe a game or two, but I think that can be said for most players toiling at the AHL level. He was used on the PK off and on during the season, so I don’t think that the coaching staff was concerned about his defensive game.”

Another issue commonly cited as a reason for the organization keeping him in the minors is his past history with concussions. It’s important to note that Baertschi wasn’t shying away from contact. He had no concussion-related issues this season, and his effort level wasn’t something to be concerned about.

“He suffered a high ankle sprain and only missed a few games. That’s an injury that he could have easily spent the rest of the season milking on IR, getting paid and not riding busses if his attitude was in the wrong space,” added Hergott. “He came back quickly and played hard. I made a point of mentioning throughout the season that he wasn’t just not shying away from physical contact, but was indeed seeking it out at times and getting his nose dirty. He took a few big-time hits this year and bounced right back up and kept playing.”

That sure sounds like a guy hellbent on proving to NHL GMs that he’s far from finished.

The question now is, can he prove it to the Canucks?

Oilersnation Radio Episode 110 Remembering Joey Moss

It’s Friday afternoon and that means a brand new episode of Oilersnation Radio is wrapped up, edited into a masterpiece, and here to get you set for the weekend. This week, we looked back at the amazing life of Joey Moss and what he meant to the Edmonton sports scene and the community at large.

To start off today’s podcast, we jumped in with a look at what the Oilers might do to honour the late Joey Moss after news broke of his passing earlier in the week. Seeing as Joey meant so much to so many people, there is little doubt that the team will do something amazing to honour him, and we tried to help out by batting around a few ideas about what types of tributes may happen. From there, we got back to hockey and discussed the AHL announcement that February 5th would be their target date for the new season to get started, and wondered what that meant for the NHL’s next campaign. Seeing as there are plenty of questions that remain unanswered, we discussed whether or not those unknowns could result in the start of the season being pushed back. Sticking with hockey, we celebrated Leon Draisaitl’s 25th birthday by discussing how good he can be and how far away from his ceiling he actually is. Is it possible that the reigning MVP can actually get better? Lastly, we looked at Northlands Coliseum which is slated to be demolished sooner than later and shared some of our favourite memories from the old barn.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

Subscribe to Oilersnation Radio for FREE on Soundcloud here, on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you get your podcasts from! Oilersnation Radio is proudly brought to you by our friends at Sherwood Ford, Skip the Dishes, and Oodle Noodle and without them, this podcast would not be possible.

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Maple Leafs sign Joey Anderson to three-year contract extension

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Friday that they have signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract extension with an AAV of $750,000.

Anderson was acquired from the New Jersey Devils earlier this month in exchange for Andreas Johnsson. The Devils selected Anderson with the 73rd pick in the 2016 NHL draft and he played in 52 games for New Jersey prior to being traded, including 18 games last season in which he tallied four goals and two assists. He also recorded 15 goals and 19 assists in 44 games with Binghamton in the AHL last season.

The Minnesota native has represented the United States internationally on several occasions, and captained the US team to a bronze medal at the 2018 World Juniors where he picked up seven points in seven games.

 

(Statistics from eliteprospects.com)


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