John Tavares Contract

Breaking down the John Tavares contract debate

As the trade deadline on February 26th approaches, many teams have already begun sending players to new teams, but the Islanders have shown no interest in trading superstar forward John Tavares. Tavares’ contract is set to expire after this season, and he will be looking to land a deal that possibly pays out more money than Connor McDavid’s eight-year 100-million dollar contract. Either way you look at it, John Tavares just might be the biggest gamble in the sport right now. Tavares has shown he can play, but is he worth the money? And what happens if New York doesn’t trade him and he leaves? This offseason Tavares will change the trajectory of a team for either the better or, the worse, and no one knows which one it will be. The John Tavares contract debate will be the biggest storyline of the offseason for the NHL.

What Is Tavares Thinking?

Tavares has made it clear that he will look at factors before making a decision, and rightfully so. It is his life after all, but fans want to know at least a little bit about what he might want to do. Tavares and his team have done an excellent job of keeping things quiet.

However, Tavares has had a lot of positive things to say about the Islanders. One of those things being the building of their new arena in Belmont Park. In a quote by NewsDay.com Tavares touched on how the arena he is playing in factors into his decision.

“Like anybody would be, everything that goes into this decision, I’ll think about,” he said. “Obviously where you’re going to play is an important part of that. I don’t think anything’s been finalized or come out officially, so when the time’s right, that news of what’s going to happen will come out and will just be part of my thought process at some point. We’ll see what happens, I guess.”

One thing that may be a considerable factor for John Tavares is the loyalty the Islanders are showing to him. When asked about trading John Tavares by the Athletic General Manager of the Islanders Garth Snow simply told them “I’m not trading John Tavares.”

The loyalty New York is showing to Tavares could potentially end up being the main deciding factor for him. Tavares responded to Snow’s comments with this quote.

“It’s nice to hear that, but I had a good sense of that already. For me, I’m just trying to do my best to help this team. Everything else is out of my control. The goal is to get to the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup.”

Earning The Money

John Tavares likely won’t be on the move at the trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean he is staying in New York. Although, both sides are sounding like it is a possibility.

John Tavares Contract

(Photo: Getty Images)

But another thing both sides need to factor in is the contract that Tavares will command. Tavares has earned every penny he will get this offseason. Tavares is on pace for a career-high 88 points this season and this year is not a one-time thing. The 27-year old forward has scored 60+ five straight years now and has had two seasons where he eclipsed the 80 point mark.

Along with that, Tavares is the captain of the third best offense goals per game, but that is where the contract factors in. Can the Islanders pay Tavares and fix their defense at the same time?

The Islanders are the only team in the NHL to be scoring more than three goals per game while at the same time allowing more than three goals per game. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and probably will cost a lot of money.

Crunching The Numbers

New York will have 31.8 million dollars in cap space this offseason, and if they sign Tavares, he is likely to eat 12-15 million of that. So at worst that will leave them with around 16.8 million in cap space.

Along with Tavares, the Islanders notable free agents are forward Josh Bailey, defenseman Calvin De Haan, Defenseman Thomas Hickey and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

Bailey is having a career year and will be looking to cash out on it. Bailey’s contract will most likely command around a five to six million dollar cap hit. If Tavares stays, it is likely Bailey will be on the way out.

As for De Haan and Hickey, the Islanders have the upper-hand with how poorly the Islanders defense has been and because De Haan is coming off an injury. They potentially could return both of those players at favorable contracts costing around a combined five-million dollars.

Halak likely is on the way out as his goaltending performance this season has been average at best. The Islanders could also waive goaltender Thomas Greiss who is set to make just over three-million dollars this upcoming season.

So after signing all their notable free-agents and assuming they let Halak go and keep Greiss, New York would have to sign a decent defenseman or two, and a goaltender that can get the job done with about 11 to 12 million dollars in cap space.

This is doable, especially with the number of veteran free-agents that are setting up to find new teams this offseason. General Manager Garth Snow would have to be extremely efficient with his money, but with a group this close to contending it should make it easier for him.

What If He Leaves?

If a John Tavares contract doesn’t happen in New York this offseason, it is not the end of the world for them. The Islanders would then be able to afford Josh Bailey and would save roughly five to seven million dollars to spend on other free agents.

Their offense would take a considerable hit obviously, but they would also be able to patch up their holes on the defensive side much quicker; however, the goal for the Islanders is to avoid this doomsday scenario. Resigning Tavares is their number one goal.

What I Think

I think John Tavares will stay in New York. I also think he will be generous to the Islanders and sign for a million or two less than everyone projects. Both sides have shown loyalty to one another, and it is cool to see because it doesn’t happen often.

I think it would be the smart and safe move on both sides for Tavares to stay in New York. They are not that far off from being able to compete for a Stanley Cup. The Islanders just need two or three more defensive pieces to be an elite team. If Tavares signs for less money, the Islanders could be a legit threat in the Eastern Conference by next year.

Featured image courtesy of NHL.com

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Metropolitan Division

Things are very much congested in the Metropolitan Division

I have been slightly incorrect in the past. The central does have have the better collection of teams overall. However, the Metropolitan Division currently has the most traffic…

Prior to games on February 8th:

  1. Washington Capitals – 67 points – 29 games remaining
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins – 63 points – 27 games remaining
  3. New Jersey Devils – 62 points – 30 games remaining
  4. Philadelphia Flyers – 59 points – 29 games remaining
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets – 58 points – 29 games remaining
  6. New York Islanders – 58 points – 28 games remaining
  7. Carolina Hurricanes – 57 points – 28 games remaining
  8. New York Rangers – 55 points – 28 games remaining

This is not the most talented division, nor does it possess a top three team, but each club is in play for the postseason. Both wild card spots in the East are held by a member of the Metro. It is one hundred percent a three-man race in the Atlantic. This makes for just a 4-point separation between the number one wild card spot (held by the Flyers) and the last place Rangers. The margin for error gets smaller and smaller as every single game now has playoff implications.

So, we meet again…probably

The matchup everyone now looks forward to every season is most likely forthcoming again. It is always known that Sidney Crosby is a three-time Stanley Cup Champ while Alex Ovechkin has yet to reach a conference final…in fact, Crosby has served as Ovi’s kryptonite having never beaten him in the playoffs. The past two years each of their teams have met in the second round with the Penguins winning in six in 2016, then in seven in 2017. There is a very good chance we see this movie yet again this Spring…

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NHL.com

Washington Capitals: Why they will finish in the top three of the Metro

Alexander Ovechkin – 32 goals (leads league)/26 assists/58 points (11th in league)/+12

Depth – Four Players (Ovechkin/Kuznetsov/Backstrom/Carlson) with at least 40 points

Braden Holtby – 27 wins (tied for 3rd in league)

Pittsburgh Penguins: Why they will finish in the top three in the Metro

Trending upwards – 7-3-0 in their last 10 – 20-7-1 on home ice

Special Teams – Power play is 26.8% (leads league) – Penalty Kill is 82.5% (7th in league)

Experience – 15 of their 20 current players on roster have won a Stanley Cup together

We have the cast and crew ready to go. The two teams battled it out on the Friday before the Super Bowl in D.C. with Pittsburgh prevailing 7-4. Will we see the same ending to this trilogy as we have seen in the previous two??…or will the Washington Capitals finally breakthrough and compete for a Stanley Cup??

You gonna make a move or stand pat??

Philadelphia Flyers: Sell it seems like

The Flyers are too inconsistent to be true contenders in the East (5-4-1 in their last 10). Therefore, selling would be smart to keep adding prospects and draft picks to keep building for the future. Ron Hextall added a first rounder in the offseason for Brayden Schenn. Seeing what the market would bring for someone like Wayne Simmonds (which would be a bundle) would be smart. “It all depends on what’s coming back” Hextall says (The Inquirer).

Columbus Blue Jackets: Buy more than likely

The Jackets have scored the least amount of goals (139) of any team in the Metropolitan Division. They are -11 on the year and will look to bolster their roster offensively. Columbus is a league-worst 14.1% on the power play as well. Looking around the league, a reunion with Rick Nash may be the best option.

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NY Daily News

New York Islanders: Toss up

Star Center for the Isles John Tavares is on pace for a 40-goal/90-point season. He is in his prime at 27 and has an expiring contract and will become a free agent on July 1st. Islanders’ GM does not expect to move him before the deadline, but seeing what the market will offer may be in his best interest. The team also knows how to put the puck in the net better than any team in the Metro with 181 goals on the year, but gives up more than anyone in the division (197 goals against). Bolstering their defensive core will be on their minds one way or the other.

One point separates these three teams. All are in play for the postseason. If you have a shot to make the playoffs, the advice should always be to go for it. The parity is real…ask Nashville.

Close, but no cigar

The Hurricanes and Rangers round out the bottom two in this jam packed division. The Rangers have asked Rick Nash for his no-trade list, but GM Ron Francis has not ruled out buying before the deadline. Two different approaches, but similar team finishes if changes don’t soon occur…

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NHL.com

New York Rangers: Selling most likely

Trending downwards – 3-7-0 in their last 10 – 8-14-2 on the road (16 road games left)

No elite scoring – 0 players with 40+ points

Carolina Hurricanes: Buying??

Trending downwards – 4-5-1 in their last 10 – -20 goal differential (worst in division)

Elite scoring and depth – two players (Teravainen/Aho) with 40+ points – five players with 30+ points

As constructed, neither of these teams are dangerous come mid-April. However, if either GM decides that this year is worth giving up significant pieces for their future with how tight the standings are, this could be extremely interesting down the stretch.

Do it

Whether you’re buying, selling or standing pat on February 26th, do it. Very rarely do all seven-eight teams in a division have a clear shot at ending up in the playoffs. All you have to do is get to the dance and right now, the last place Rangers are just three points out of that last wild card spot…

The Hurricanes have a Stanley Cup-winning net minder in Cam Ward and the Rangers obviously have a hall of fame goalkeeper in King Henrik. You can win any playoff series with hot goaltending. Anything can happen. Whatever these teams are thinking, each have a shot…so do it.

 

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Calder

Calder Trophy race heating up

As we close in on the final quarter of the 2018 regular season, it’s time to take a look at the Calder Memorial Trophy race. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the award is given to the most proficient player in his first year in the NHL. Past winners of the trophy include some names you’ve probably heard before, such as Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin.

Lets take a look at this season’s current front-runners:

1. Mathew Barzal: C – New York Islanders

Calder

Photo from msgnetworks.com

Barzal was a first round pick of the Isles back in 2015 where they took him 16th overall. He currently sits 16th in the points race in the NHL with 53 points. He’s ahead of household names such as Patrick Kane, Brad Marchand and even Tyler Seguin.

Barzal is a large reason that the Islanders are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. He’s third in points on the team behind John Tavares (59) and Josh Bailey (57). He’s provided an additional spark to the Islanders as he’s cemented himself as a reliable second-line center between Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee. He leads all rookies in assists with 37, which is 10 more than the next rookie Will Butcher of the New Jersey Devils.

2. Brock Boeser: RW – Vancouver Canucks

Calder

Photo from Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press

Boeser was drafted 23rd overall in the same draft as Barzal, the 2015 draft. Boeser is one of the lone bright spots for the Canucks this season. He leads his team in points with 46, which is nine more than the veteran in second, Thomas Vanek. Boeser has five points over his last five games and participated in NHL All-Star weekend.

At the All-Star weekend he took home the MVP award after the All-star game and also won the accuracy-shooting competition. Boeser has closed the gap between himself and Barzal for the Calder with his play and accomplishments of late.

3. Yanni Gourde: C – Tampa Bay Lightning

Calder

Photo from lightningstrikehockey.com

Gourde is apart of the extremely efficient Tampa offense that leads the league in scoring with 3.56 goals per game. He went undrafted but signed a one-year AHL contract with the Syracuse Crunch in 2014. This is his first full season playing up with the Lightning and he hasn’t disappointed. They’ve re-signed him to a two-year contract worth $2 million.

He sits third in rookie points with 38 and sixth on the Lightning in total points. He leads all rookies with a +23 in the +/- category and is only +2 behind Victor Hedman (+25) for the team lead. His stellar +/- shows the positive impact he’s had when on the ice while contributing from the third line.

Calder Dark-horses:

In most years you’ll see the Calder Memorial Trophy be awarded to a forward, but in some cases that hasn’t been true. Three times in the last 14 seasons the award was given to a blueliner. Aaron Ekblad in 2014-2015 with the Florida Panthers, Tyler Myers in 2009-2010 with the Buffalo Sabres and Barret Jackman in 2002-2003 with the St. Louis Blues. Two rookie defenseman have turned heads this season and deserve a good, hard look before the award winner is decided.

1. Will Butcher: D – New Jersey Devils

Calder

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Butcher was drafted back in 2013 by the Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round, 123rd overall. This season he was given the chance to play in the big league with the Devils and has run with the job.

Butcher leads all Devil defenseman in assist (27) and points (29). The most astounding fact is that he’s done it while playing on the third defensive line and with only 16:09 average-time-on-ice (ATOI). His ATOI is the eighth least out of nine New Jersey defenders per espn.com.

 

2. Charlie McAvoy: D – Boston Bruins

Calder

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

McAvoy was taken off the board at 14th overall in the 2016 draft by the Bruins. He played last season for the team in the playoffs as they were shorthanded at the defensive position and was a pleasant surprise as he provided a huge spark to the team. In six games played last season, all in the playoffs, he tallied three assists and logged heavy ice-time.

This season he’s played in 46 of the team’s 50 games and has accumulated 25 points. He plays on the top defensive unit along side Zdeno Chara with 22:43 ATOI, which is over four minutes more than the next rookie skater. The Bruins have earned at least one point in 20 of their last 21 games. McAvoy’s stellar play on defense, indicated by his +19 rating (2nd best among rookies), has directly contributed to this astonishing streak the team is riding.

 

 

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Art Ross Trophy candidates

Three surprise Art Ross Trophy candidates

The Art Ross Trophy is presented to the player with the most points at the end of the season. Last season, the award went to Connor McDavid after he scored 100 points in his 2016 campaign.

The Art Ross Trophy is a very prestigious trophy, but every year there is one player that makes a surprise push for it. In my opinion, there are three surprise players that could give players like Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon and John Tavares a run for their money down the stretch.

For these three players to win the award, they are going to have to have a little bit of luck, but they will also have to keep up their great play.

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler has been a very productive forward the past few seasons. Last season, Wheeler scored 74 points in what was his second highest career total. Currently at 54 points, Wheeler is only seven points behind Kucherov’s 61 for the league lead.

Art Ross Trophy candidates

(Photo by Bob Frid)

Recently, Wheeler has found success scoring the puck, and that is a big reason why he can make a run at the Art Ross Trophy. In his last 11 games, he has scored 13 points, and when Wheeler scores, he scores in bunches. In the 48 games he has made an appearance in, Wheeler has scored multiple points in 15 of them.

Another reason Wheeler could make a push is the team he has surrounding him. Wheeler is playing alongside Patrik Laine, who is one of the best young scorers in the NHL. But Wheeler also has Kyle Connor, who is a very talented young forward as well.

Connor and Laine have combined for 36 goals so far this season, and a big reason for that is because they are playing with Blake Wheeler. Over his last 10 with this line pairing, Wheeler has five goals and seven assists.

For Wheeler to win the Art Ross Trophy, he is going to have to have a hot streak at some point this season. It doesn’t have to be too big, just something like a 10-game stretch. Wheeler is a fantastic scorer, and he is benefitting from the players around him. He’s on pace for a career year and could very well make a run at the Art Ross Trophy.

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand is the scoring leader on a Bruins team that is starting to hit its stride. Marchand currently has 50 points this year, sitting him 11 behind Kucherov for the NHL lead, but Marchand has been scoring in bunches lately.

In his last eight games, Marchand has scored 16 points. He is on an incredible hot streak, and if it continues, he will rocket up the point standings very fast. Marchand is my favorite of the three surprise players to win the Art Ross Trophy.

Art Ross Trophy candidates

(Photo by Christopher Evans)

One thing that separates Marchand from the NHL’s other top scorers is the efficiency that his team plays with while he is on the ice. His plus-minus rating is through the roof right now at +24. Marchand is playing on one of the top lines in the NHL in Boston. He is playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Both players can pass and score at will, and this is shown in the balance of Marchand’s stats. So far this season, Marchand has 21 goals and 29 assists, which are some of the most balanced numbers among all forwards.

For Marchand to win the Art Ross Trophy, it will all depend on how long this recent scoring surge lasts. If he can keep up this high level of play for another four or five games, he can put himself just a few points behind the league leaders. Marchand definitely has a genuine shot at winning the Art Ross Trophy in 2018.

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

Although he is not far behind Kucherov in points this season, it would still be a surprise if Bailey was able to win the Art Ross Trophy. Bailey plays alongside one of the best scorers in the game in John Tavares. Tavares is currently three points ahead of Bailey this season, but this is why I think Bailey can take it home.

Art Ross Trophy candidates

(Photo by Getty Images)

So far, Bailey has 54 points on the season, and a lot of that is because he is playing on a line with Tavares and Anders Lee. However, Bailey has not been able to surpass his linemate this season. Bailey is racking up an incredible amount of assists. He is second in the NHL right now with 42, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Bailey is in the running for the award right now. He just needs to stay on the pace he is on, and if he finds a way to score a few times without the help of Tavares, he might pass him up.

The Islanders have one of the best offenses in the NHL and are scoring 3.41 goals per game. The chances for Bailey will be there.

Recap

Anyone at anytime can start to feel it and start scoring points at a rapid rate. These are the three surprise players that I think will do that.

Wheeler, Marchand and Bailey are fantastic players that can score at any time. Their hard work and dedication to the sport is paying off for them, and it is enjoyable to watch.

 

Featured image NHL.com

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Stanley Cup Push

Three teams daring to make a Stanley Cup push

As the season trudges on teams, begin getting ready to make their Stanley Cup push. Every year there is one team that flies in under the radar and makes a run in the playoffs. Here are three teams that have the best chance of doing so as the season gets close to crossing the halfway point.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are currently playing in the toughest NHL division. At 44 points, the Islanders currently hold the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. This makes them the most promising of the three teams on this list to make a deep Stanley Cup push, but there are still many questions by experts surrounding New York.

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo from SB Nation)

Islanders offense

Forwards Josh Bailey and John Tavares lead the way for the Islanders as Bailey is second in the NHL with 50 points and Tavares is third with 49. Bailey and Tavares are very dominant and both find ways to take over games.

The offense is there for the Islanders. New York is third in the NHL in goals per game with 3.44. The Isles are also getting it done on the power play. They rank eighth among the NHL leaders, scoring on 21.2 percent of their chances.

The Islanders are the only team in the NHL with two players that have scored over 20 goals each. The emergence of the young forward Mathew Barzal has also played a significant factor in their success on offense. Barzal currently sits fourth for the Islanders in points with 36. Barzal’s contributions on the offensive side are promising for the Islanders to make a Stanley Cup push.

Islanders defense

For the Islanders to make a push, they are going to have to put more games together on the defensive side. New York currently ranks last in the NHL in goals against at 3.54 goals per game. They are the only team outside of the Colorado Avalanche that are presently scoring three or more goals per game while also giving up more than three goals per game.

The defensive struggles for the Islanders also spread to the penalty kill. The Islanders PK unit is the exact opposite of their power play. The Isles rank 30th in the NHL with a penalty kill success percentage of 73.9 percent. Defensemen Calvin de Haan, Adam Pelech and Thomas Hickey lead a unit that has been struggling the whole season. If these guys can put something together, it could do wonders for the Islanders.

Islanders goalies

A lot of these struggles can be linked to the play of the goalies as well. New York goalies currently have a .896 save percentage as a unit. This ranks them second to last in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak is currently starting at goalie for the Islanders, and he has been average at best. Halak is giving up a career-worst 3.15 goals per games. His backup, Thomas Greiss, has been a major disappointment, giving up a miserable 3.82 goals per game. His .884 save percentage is not much to look at either.

How to make it happen

The Islanders may need to think of making a trade at the deadline. Goalie play is what wins in the playoffs. New York should take a chance on finding one before it is too late. Whether it be a young, unproven hopeful, or a veteran desperate for a team, the Islanders should pull the trigger. The Isles offense has been great all year. They are one goaltender away from being an elite team.

Carolina Hurricanes

If the Hurricanes can get into the playoffs, they have an excellent chance at making a serious Stanley Cup push and possibly could win it. The Hurricanes are nothing special, but they are a team not to take lightly. Everyone on the team is starting to realize their role, and not one player is bigger than the team.

Carolina pushed this mantra so much that they even have two captains that alternate. If the Canes can put it together, they are a dangerous team going forward.

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo by Jamie Kellner)

Hurricanes offense

On offense, the Hurricanes are led by Jeff Skinner, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, but they also get some contributions on the defensive side of the ice. Defensemen Noah Hanifin is currently eighth on the team in points with 20. Justin Faulk’s point totals are down this season, but his presence is felt on the ice.

The offensive attack is very balanced for the Hurricanes. They have seven players with eight goals or more. They share the puck well and have eight players in double-digits for assists.

The Hurricanes offense does not wow anybody on paper, but clearly, they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Canes show up at the rink every night and play very well together. If needed, players like Skinner and Jordan Staal can take over, but so far they have not required that to happen. This balance on offense makes them very difficult to defend and can frustrate opponents at times.

Hurricanes defense

Carolina’s defense is very young, deep and talented. Players like Hanifin, Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin headline a defense that takes pride in playing sound fundamental defense. The Hurricanes D-men are allowing a league low 29.26 shots per game. This makes it easier on the team as a whole when opponents are not able to get the looks they want.

The signing of Trevor van Riemsdyk will go down as one of the most underrated signings in the offseason. Van Riemsdyk has a team-leading +11 in plus-minus and has eight points to go along with it. He is legging roughly 16 minutes of ice-time per game and he is making sure that it is productive. He will play a role in the Stanley Cup push for the Canes.

As stated earlier, Noah Hanifin is having a fantastic year on offense. 20 points from defensemen at 20 years old is very promising for the Hurricanes franchise. However, for the Canes to make a push, him and Faulk will have to find a way to get their plus-minus up. Goals against are not always their fault, but as defensemen, this is something they pride themselves on. Hanifin is currently -3 and Faulk is -7. For a Stanley Cup push, they will most likely have to get that trending in the positives.

Hurricanes goalies

The goalie play for the Hurricanes this season has been off and on. Scott Darling was acquired in the offseason to replace Cam Ward as the starter this season, but so far Ward has done everything he can to win his job back. Obviously, this is not a severe problem to have.

In 14 games, Ward is giving up 2.53 goals per game and has a save percentage of .917 percent. Darling is allowing 2.88 goals per game with a .896 save percentage in 25 games. It is worth noting that Ward is currently 10-2-1 as the starter.

Bringing in Darling has not gone as planned for the Hurricanes, but clearly, no one is complaining. Ward is reverting to his old ways and playing very well. As he starts to start more in the second half of the season, this team could become dangerous. A Stanley Cup push is not out of sight for the Hurricanes.

How to make it happen

The Hurricanes don’t necessarily have to break the bank in order to make their Stanley Cup push. All the tools are their for this team. They just have to put them together. Over the last month, they have begun doing just that. At most, the Hurricanes should try and trade for a low-budget scorer. But for the most part, the Canes’ best chance is to just ride their current roster out.

Anaheim Ducks

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks currently sit fourth in the Pacific Division. hold the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Ducks just have to find a way to get it all together.

Ducks offense

The Ducks are a lot like the Hurricanes in that they have a very balanced style of play. Anaheim currently has 14 players with 10 or more points and are led by young star Rickard Rakell.

Rakell has 14 goals and 15 assists on the season, giving him a team-leading 29 points. The Ducks have not been able to score at a consistent rate yet this season and currently are rank 25th in goals per game with 2.67.

Although the Ducks have a very balanced scoring attack, they need to get more pucks in the back of the net. This starts with players like Rakell, Corey Perry and Adam Henrique. All three of them have the highest point totals on the Anaheim roster. If they can play well, they can potentially open up more ice for other goal scorers.

Ducks defense

The Ducks defense has been average so far this season, allowing 2.77 goals per game. The defense all around plays sound and does their job. If they can get it together on offense, the defense could potentially turn around and be one of the better units in the NHL.

Josh Manson has had a terrific season so far for Anaheim. Manson has 17 points, but most importantly has a plus-minus of +12. His 17 points ties his total from all of last season, and his plus-minus is the same as last year as well. The play of Manson is helping with the development of Brandon Montour, who is playing his first full NHL season. Montour has 19 points so far and has a plus-minus of +7.

This Ducks defense is on the younger side, but are making giant steps in the right direction. They are majorly helping on the scoring front, and their defense has been pretty good this year. If they can keep this up, they will have a promising chance at a Stanley Cup push.

Ducks goalies

Goalie John Gibson is the primary starter for this Anaheim Ducks team, and he has done a pretty good job. Gibson is allowing 2.70 goals per game with a save percentage of .922 percent. These are promising stats for a young goaltender like Gibson, but unfortunately, he has not gotten help on the offensive side.

Gibson’s record is currently 13-12-4, a record you would not expect to see from a goalie with stats like his. Even when you look at Ryan Miller’s stats, you can see there is an issue. Miller has only played in ten games this season, but he has allowed 2.23 goals per game with a save percentage of .928 percent, but he is currently 4-1-4.

The goalie play from the Ducks is precisely what you need to make a Stanley Cup push. Like I said earlier, teams that have good goaltending in the playoffs tend to make big runs. The Ducks have all the making to be one of those teams.

How to make it happen

The Ducks need to get a scorer or two. Adding a scorer to their struggling offense could be the breath of fresh air that they need. They do not necessarily have to go for broke, because they do have a young team, but they need to add an offensive piece. The Ducks have all the parts defensively to make a playoff run, but they need guys to start putting pucks in the back of the net if they even want the chance at that.

 

Featured image by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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New York Islanders arena uncertainty still apparent

Suppose you lived in an apartment. It had its bumps and bruises, but it was yours, and you lived there your entire life. However, your landlord kicks you out because the landlord can’t agree on how to renovate the building. So, you move to another apartment.

This apartment, as new as it is, doesn’t exactly fit your family, plus your relatives live farther away. You can opt out of the building after a certain time, but where would you go?

Here’s the kicker: the landlord wants you to come back, but wants you to live in a complex that isn’t built yet. You could move back to your old apartment, but despite a renovation, it doesn’t accommodate you as well anymore.

This is a complicated situation, for sure. Welcome the New York Islanders arena conundrum. For a team that seeks a perfect fit, none of its options are without drawbacks, and the uncertainty is hurting the team’s look.

The Islanders Arena Predicament

The Islanders relationship with its home arena, Barclays Center, is not working out. According to ESPN, the Isles had the third-lowest average home attendance last season at 13,101 fans. Players and patrons have spoken out about the rough commute to Brooklyn. The ice is terrible; Cal Clutterbuck and former employees Kyle Okposo and Jack Capuano have all publicly criticized the playing surface.

With a perfect storm of issues, the two sides can opt out of the 25-year deal next January. Newsday’s Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky say the Islanders have a choice to leave after next season or in 2019. Barclays Center can evict the Isles if they initiate the opt-out.

The Islanders have other options for a new arena should they choose to leave Brooklyn. They could return to the Nassau Coliseum or build new arenas in Flushing or Belmont Park. The problem is, there are too many gray areas surrounding their options.

The new Nassau Coliseum is not in major contention yet to be the Islanders arena

NYCB Live, better known as the Nassau Coliseum. Photo courtesy of Goldstar Events.

Interestingly enough, Nassau and Suffolk County are urging the Islanders to return to the Nassau Coliseum. The county legislatures will hold a press conference on Friday to urge the team to return to its original home once they, according to Newsday, make “unspecified ‘modifications’”.

However, it’s unlikely the Islanders return back to a shrunken arena. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is adamant that the coliseum’s current 13,000-seat capacity isn’t sufficient for hockey games. The Islanders could’ve stayed years ago before the Nassau County government let them walk. This is already a long shot from the get-go.

They could build a new arena in the same area as Citi Field in Queens, but there is too much litigation surrounding the property to consider it a viable option.

At this stage, Belmont Park is the best option for a different Islanders arena. Even then, there are still many obstacles.

The Belmont Dilemma

On Monday, the town of Elmont held a Belmont Park redevelopment listening session for residents. Over 300 residents attended with a few dozen citizens expressing their interest.

While many were hoping for clarity after the meeting, it was a range of emotions. Some in the crowd, per Baumbach’s Twitter page, were in favor of the arena because it would bring the Islanders back, create jobs and possibly establish a year-round Long Island Rail Road station.

Others, however, believed that it would hamper the local economy long-term, contributing only minimum wage employment. One speaker said that it would also use too many law enforcement officials from the community.

When the dust settled on the meeting, there was only one consensus: there is a divide in support for a new Islanders arena at Belmont Park and is in no way a surefire deal.

The land around Belmont Park could be used for an Islanders arena

An aerial of Belmont Park. Photo by Newsday’s Kevin P. Coughlin.

The Islanders’ Next Home

The blue and orange are in a bind, with these three tangible options for a home arena presenting debilitating flaws. Barclays Center’s ice and location isn’t privy to the players and the fans. The Nassau Coliseum is too small and the NHL doesn’t support it. Belmont Park has critics, and a new stadium will take years to build anyway.

Surrounding all of this arena drama is the fate of the Isles’ franchise player, John Tavares. He has one year remaining on his deal before he hits free agency. The Islanders wish to extend him, but Tavares is reportedly willing to wait. One of the reasons, says Arthur Staple, is he wants to see where the Isles will play long-term.

While it’s impossible to say if that is a legitimate reason Tavares is waiting, it holds merit. Conventional wisdom is that a captain wants to know where he plays out the rest of his career. The uncertainty makes the franchise a tough sell. The Islanders are in a tight spot because of that, and if Tavares doesn’t sign, then expect a monumental revolt from the fandom.

The Islanders arena confusion is harming the team’s reputation. It is a shame that none of the realistic options for a home fit perfectly at the moment. If they stay in Brooklyn, Barclays Center improves the ice and the LIRR eases the commute. If Belmont Park gets approved, hopefully the public warms up to it and the arena gets built quickly with a better train station than it has now.

For a family, a home or apartment needs to benefit the tenants. The Islanders family needs the same from the arena it will play in three years from now.

 

Feature image courtesy of the NY Daily News/Photo by Bruce Bennett, Getty Images.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

What to Watch for in Round Two

With only one more series to wrap up the first round, the Anaheim Ducks will face off against the Nashville Predators in game seven. We will take a look at the round two match-ups.

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Alex Ovechkin takes on Sidney Crosby. Two of the greatest players in the NHL face off in this second round match-up. All hockey fans cannot wait to see these two go at it. Alexander Ovechkin, the hard hitting, hard shooting Russian, verses the quiet playmaker from Canada. Both captains of their respected teams are backed by hot goalies. Matthew Murray is normally the backup goalie to Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins, but Fleury is currently out with a concussion. Murray has not missed a beat only allowing two goals a game in the Rangers series. Braden Holtby, the goaltender for the Capitals, had two shutouts in the Flyers series and never gave up more than two goals in a game. Although these are two of the hottest goalies in the league, these are two high powered offenses that can score at any moment.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders

John Tavares (Extratime.uol.com)

Captain Clutch takes on the best playoff line in hockey. Are Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Alex Killorn for the Tampa Bay Lightning the best line in hockey right now? I think so. All three are +6 while on the ice, as they had three of the four game winning goals, and they are first, second, and third in points for their team. The Islanders upset the Florida Panthers in the first round on the back of John Tavares. In game six of the first round, JT scored a late goal to tie the game and then scored the game winning goal in OT. Anyone that follows the Islanders was not surprised by this, JT is as clutch as it comes.

Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues

Brian Elliot (Bleedinblue.com)

The St. Louis Blues took care of the former Cup champions in the first round, and goaltender Brian Elliot can take some credit for this. Elliot posted a .929 save percentage, not letting the Blackhawks get into a rhythm. Right winger Vladimir Tarasenko had the most goals for the Blues in the first round with four, and he always does great against the Hawks. Let’s see if he can do the same against the Stars. With the loss of Tyler Seguin, the Stars needed other players to step up, step up they did. Left winger, Jaime Benn, has scored 10 points for the Stars which tops the NHL. The Stars used two goalies in the first round, Antti Niemi, and Kari Lehtonen. I hope they use Kari Lehtonen for the rest of the way, as I like the way he has looked.

San Jose Sharks vs. (Anaheim Ducks or Nashville Predators)

The Sharks played really well against the Kings in the first round. I was waiting for the Sharks to fall apart towards the end of the series but it never happened. Whoever wins between Anaheim and Nashville has a tough series to come. Joe Pavelski scored five goals in as many games while shooting an astounding 35.70%. In net Martin Jones out played his former teammate Johnathon Quick. Since Frederik Anderson has taking over in net for the ducks they are 3-1 with his .955%. This is something to watch for in tonight’s game.

4/27 Games

New York Islanders @ Tampa Bay Lightning 7:00 ET

Nashville Predators @ Anaheim Ducks 10:00 ET