All posts by Ryan

Ive loved pittsburgh sports from the 1st day and will till my last day. Current PSU student for sports journalism

Olympic Hockey Update

The Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea are in full swing. Both men’s and women’s hockey for Team USA have played games. And both have mixed results. The women’s team has lived up to expectations as usual. Now the men’s team well…. not so much success.

The men’s team went into these Olympics with no real expectations with no NHL players competing in them. But they are who they are and who they are is a competitive team that’ll challenge for a medal. After the 4-0 loss to the gold medal favorite Russians, a medal seems like a tough task. But this team seems resilient and a defensive team.

They’re not gonna wow you on offense but with the men’s tournament wide open it’s possible a medal could be gained by USA. Time will only tell if they can finish strong.

The men’s team is gonna need to go the long way when it comes to achieving what they want to. They’re gonna fight tooth and nail through rounds of grueling playoff like hockey. They’ll verse more rested teams and have to overcome a lot of adversity.

With young talent and some veteran depth fans should be carefully optimistic. If their defense holds other teams to 2 goals per game like they have been for most of the tournament then their chances should be strong.

Now onto the main attraction the ladies for USA hockey. They are coming off a Silver medal from the 2014 Olympic games after falling to Canada.

USA has its star studded lineup once again and have been dominant thus far in the competition. Even though they lost 1 game (to Canada 2-1) they have dominated when it’s come to play. They have out shot their opponents and used their speed very effectively.

It’s expected for another USA vs Canada in the gold medal game. If USA plays like they did last time I don’t expect them to leave that building without anything but gold. They’re driven and motivated to get that gold and beat Canada for once. That is gonna be a must watch game.

Let’s not forget Phil Kessel’s sister Amanda is on the team so team USA is easy to root for if they were not already. Phil Kessel is a 2 time Stanley Cup Champion and I think it’s time his sister Amanda can call herself an Olympic champion.

These ladies should be able to get a Silver at the very least if they play up to their potential. But upsets happen and maybe they get upset or Canada never makes it to the golden game. But team USA should succeed and they seem to be the best team in the tournament so a gold should be a realistic possibility.

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Trade Deadline Preview

The trade deadline is February 26 and many names are rumored to be on the move. Some big names and some role players that will be on the move. The trade deadline has not been as active as past seasons due to teams getting deals done before. But this year it seems like teams could be waiting till the last possible moment to make a deal and get the best value in return.

The trade deadline is always exciting in the NHL because teams that are struggling will sell off players that will provide assets for their future. Also playoff contenders add for their hopeful cup run.

This article will be looking at names swirling around the league as we head towards the 26th. We will look at some places where these players could possibly end up

Evander Kane, Winger

Kane is an extremely talented winger who is on an expiring contract after this season. Odds are no matter where he’s traded to he will end up signing somewhere else when July 1st hits. His asking price is rumored to be expensive. Buffalo wants assets back that include picks and prospects.

Fits: Pittsburgh, St.Louis, San Jose

Kane is an issue when it comes to his character for a team. But if he produces at a high level for a team and a team believes that the reward outweighs the cost then a deal will be done. Kane will be moved by the deadline for sure.

Mike Green, Defenseman

Green is enjoying a great season in the final year of his contract. He adds good offense and power play ability. He’s a rental player odds are as he is a free agent after the season. So odds are when he’s dealt he could sign elsewhere. But in the meantime he could be a great addition for a team looking to make the next step in their roster.

Fits: New York Islanders, Washington, Toronto, Tampa Bay

Green would be a great add for any playoff team. He adds a right handed defenseman which seems rare anymore. He will be sought after until he is eventually dealt.

Patrick Maroon, Winger

Maroon is having one of his best years this season. He’s producing on a struggling Oilers team and adds a solid penalty kill. He would be a great depth acquisition for any playoff team. Especially if that team needs help on the penalty kill.

Fits: Anaheim, Boston

Anaheim is struggling up to this point in the season, where Boston has been successful. Either way Maroon would add scoring depth and the ability to take away scoring when they’re serving a penalty.

Mark Letestu, Center

Letestu is what he is and he is a 4th line center. He wins faceoffs and adds some scoring touch. He is a veteran leader who could add some penalty kill ability. He should be cheap to acquire but you get what you pay for. If a trade goes down the team acquiring him will be getting a reliable and textbook fourth line center.

Fits: Pittsburgh, Boston, Columbus, New Jersey

Letestu is likely on the move before the deadline passes. He adds good depth and at a cheap price. A good rental player for almost any playoff team.

Max Pacioretty, Winger

Pacioretty is currently in the struggling Canadiens franchise. Their captain has started to circulate in trade rumors but will have a huge price tag. Although the price hasn’t been leaked like Kane’s was, it’s said to be huge. He adds a top 6 winger and bolsters almost any lineup. Also he adds an immediate leadership impact.

Fits: St.Louis, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Philadelphia

He would add scoring to either of these teams. I really like him with the Islanders. Shows Taveres you’re serious about contending and adds to your club.

Michael Grabner, Winger

He adds great depth to any lineup. He adds skill and scoring ability for the bottom six on any team. He is a great two way player as he also plays well defensively.

Fits: Winnipeg, Anaheim, Columbus, St.Louis

With his affordable cap hit and ability to produce in small amounts of ice time will make him saught after. With the Rangers being sellers this year, Grabner is sure to be traded.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Center

A young and talented kid with a cheap cap hit. He would be expensive and in high demand for a lot of teams. He would be a great 3rd line center for any team looking for a cup run.

Fits: Pittsburgh, Columbus, New Jersey

Pageau is connected with the Penguins often. He has also been rumored to the Blue Jackets. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Senators sell if at all. But if they are sellers look for Pageau to be moved.

Thomas Vanek, Winger

Vanek has been some what of a journeyman in the league over the past few seasons. It’s a wonder why because he has produced well for every team he has played for. He is on an expiring contract but is producing at a great rate again this season.

Fits: Boston, New York Islanders, Winnepeg, Vegas

Vanek won’t command a huge price tag to trade for. He would be a great addition to any lineup looking for offense in its lineup.

Aaron Dell, Goalie

Dell is enjoying his best season of his career. He’s helping the Sharks stay in the playoff hunt. But with Thornton out with a knee injury and the likelihood of them dropping out of the playoffs, Dell could be dealt.

Fits: New York Islanders, New Jersey, Chicago

Dell should be a cheaper player to acquire. He hasn’t proven that he can be a teams number 1 goalie yet but he is a solid backup. You could count on him to start some playoff games if need be.

James Neal, Winger

Neal is one of the top goal scorers in the league and has been since he entered the league. The question is, will Vegas sell? If they stick to the long term plan then they will sell the high value Neal at the deadline unless they’re 100% sure they can resign him long term.

Fits: Nashville, Philadelphia, St.Louis

If Neal is traded it’ll be to a team in need of a top 6 winger. He will provide instant production to any lineups goal scoring column. Ps: put Nashville in there because maybe there is still a connection there with Neal still having a house there.

David Perron, Winger

Again it is unknown if Vegas will sell or not. But between the two of Neal and Perron, Perron is more likely to be dealt. I expect Perron to be dealt as I don’t see any effort for someone to resign.

Fits: St.Louis, New York Islanders, Philadelphia

Perron is enjoying his best season of his career. He is almost registering a point per game. He would help a struggling team that can’t produce offense. But would he still play this well on another team?…..That’s to be determined.

Jack Johnson, Defense

Johnson is a solid defenseman. He isn’t going to wow you in any part of his game but he is well rounded. He can be a decent top 4 defenseman addition to a struggling defense.

Fits: Toronto, New York Islanders, Dallas

Johnson requested a trade a few weeks ago to get out of Columbus. After having financial issues in the past Johnson needs a new deal. Johnson would be a upgrade to many defensive cores.

Tyson Barrie, Defense

Barrie is a good defenseman for Colorado. I’m unsure as to why they would want to part ways with him. Rumors have been swirling that his names are in trade rumors.

Fits: Toronto, New York Islanders

He is a skilled defenseman on a cheap deal with term. He provides a good shot with defensive ability. The cost is rumored to be top 6 forward for Barrie at the very least…..So the cost is high.

Derick Brassard, Center

Brassard was a common name in trade rumors a month ago but has gone away. He was connected to a few teams but mainly with the Penguins.

Fits: Pittsburgh, Columbus, New York Islanders

Brassard is a great 2 way center and provides good faceoff ability. It’ll be interesting to see if his name resurfaces over the next month. If Ottawa sells like how they rumored to be then Brassard will be dealt.

Petr Mrazek, Goalie

Mrazek has only played 17 games this season. It was rumored last season that he has fallen out of favor with the franchise that currently employs him. He’s a decent young goaltender with good starter potential.

Fits: New York Islanders, Carolina, Dallas, Chicago

Mrazek is a good goaltender with untapped potential. If he comes available he will get some looks. I’d be curious to see the price to acquire him would be.

Sum up

The trade deadline looks to be a busy one for most, if not all, general managers around the league. Hopefully the asking prices around the league drop so some deals can be done. I believe as the deadline nears and teams with rental players to sell still have them will sell towards the last moment. It’ll be interesting to see how everything shakes out over the next month. The waiting game is getting tuned up for the teams around the league. Now is the time for players to change sweaters .

Trade Target: Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Elliotte Friedman said recently on SportsNet “Think that the Penguins are one team that is looking hard at [JG] Pageau and it would make a lot of sense“.

This would be a great addition and immediate solution to the Penguins’ 3rd line center woes. With these recent rumors (by a reliable source) comes with the question, who is Pageau?

Pageau is 25-years old and carries a cap hit of $3.1 million AAV for the rest of this season and two seasons following that. That’s a great price for a producing third line center that still can grow his game. Also it allows you to sure up that center depth for at least another 2 years after this season.

He is currently in Ottawa and his name should sound familiar to Pens fans. He played in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. In last year’s playoffs, he had 8 goals and 2 assists in 19 games. That is great production for center depth.

He’s been struggling this season after getting 43 points two seasons ago. He currently has 15 points in 42 games. His faceoff percentage hasn’t lacked this season with it currently at 53%. But the lack of offensive contributes to the whole Senators team struggling this season.

He would be a great change of scenery guy. The change of scenery could help his production change for the better by joining a surging Penguins team.

Adding a young piece like Pageau with control of his reasonable cap hit would be huge for the Pens. How much would it cost? Well that’s a great question.

No one knows except for the general managers making the trade calls. But the Pens will make a offer for sure if the Senators have Pageau available. With Rutherford liking to make trades earlier then the deadline, a trade could happen within the coming weeks. The deadline is February 26 so this time next month will be full of speculation and non-stop rumors.

The Penguins should be and odds are will be highly active during this month when it comes to trades. They need a 3rd line center and some more depth for the team. Rutherford has lots to do in order to make this team real contenders to three peat. Rutherford will make moves that’s for sure, let’s just hope Pageau is one of them during this time of solving that puzzle that each one of these 31 teams are trying to do.

Is Sheahan The 3rd Line Center?

Will the 3rd line center position be found via trade or will it be found “in house”? That is the question surrounding the team. If the Penguins have anything to do with it then they’ll make a trade before the deadline. But questions have been raised about whether other teams are trying to not do deals with the Pens.

Elliotte Friedman said recently in his 31 thoughts that one GM told him “I hope no one helps the Pens with a trade”. We shall see if Jim Rutherford can find a trade partner eventually which is more likely then not. But if other general managers want to shut off the Pens entirely and a trade can’t happen then maybe they already have the solution.

Riley Sheahan has played 35 games for the Penguins thus far. He has been stationed in that ever famous 3rd line center position for the team. The 3rd line center position has been the focus of attention ever since Nick Bonino left the team via free agency in the offseason.

Bonino was a great 3rd line center and role player for this team. He brought scoring ability and a great penalty killer. But he signed with the Nashville Predators over the offseason.

Now in comes Riley Sheahan early in the season. Another reclamation project for the Pens to fix. He only had 13 points in 80 games last season. So far with the Pens, he has 14 points in 35 games played.

So why do I bring this up you might ask. When comparing him to Bonino during their playing time in Pittsburgh, it doesn’t have many differences. Sheahan is on track to have one of his best seasons in his career with around 30 points. Over 2 seasons with the Pens, Bonino averaged 33 points per season.

When it comes to the face off circle, Sheahan gains the edge in that department. Bonino has only averaged a career 48.1% face off win percentage. Where as Sheahan has a career 49.9%. But he is having his best year in the circle with the Pens having a 56.46%.

Bonino is getting paid $4 million per year over the next 4 years, which is very pricey especially for a cap strapped Penguins team. But Sheahan makes $2.08 million and is a RFA (restricted free agent) this off-season.

When it comes to who has the best deal with how they’re playing this season…it’s obvious. When comparing their stats thus far Sheahan is the best bang for their buck. Bonino has only 8 points in 31 games. He is a -8 in the plus/minus department.

Sheahan has almost double the points of Bonino with 14. Those 14 points have come in 35 games and is a -1 in the plus/minus department.

When it comes to the 3rd line center, the Pens will want to address it via trade. But if general managers decide to not do deals with the Pens then the Pens will need to stand pat. I think the Pens will eventually be able to swing a deal but who knows when. Until then Sheahan is the 3rd line center and will be able to help this team win during that time.

Team USA: Band of Misfits 

The winter Olympic team for USA has been released. The roster is full of old players, young players, and players that play over seas. To look at the team here’s the link:http://teamusa.usahockey.com/page/show/3858372-2018-owg-u-s-men-s-roster#

This year’s winter Olympics is the first in a long while that won’t include NHL players. All the European leagues including KHL players will be able to participate. Also some younger players in the collegiate level and some AHL players.

Forwards

Mark Arcobello

Arcobello should be a familiar name as he played for the Penguins before. He was a journeyman in the NHL. But since going to Europe he’s flourished as a great scorer.

Chris Bourque

Bourque is an AHL star for the Hershey Bears. He has been in the AHL and KHL for almost all of his career. He has flourished throughout his career and currently has 30 points in 24 AHL games.

Bobby Butler

Another journeyman who spent a lot of time in the AHL and KHL. He provides depth but not a ton of scoring ability.

Ryan Donato 

He is one of the youngest players on the team at only 21 years of age. He is currently playing at Harvard in which he’s enjoying a good career there thus far. He had 40 points over 36 games last year and has 15 points over 10 games this year.

Brian Gionta (C)

Gionta is the captain of this team. He provides leadership, experience, and an NHL caliber scorer. He hasn’t played hockey since he played with the Sabers last season. He scored 35 points over 82 games that year. He will add scoring depth to this team.

Jordan Greenway

Another young player at only 20 years old he had a great world juniors with team USA last year getting 8 points in 7 games. He is currently playing at Boston College where he has 68 points over 93 games.

Chad Kolarik 

He has been moving from league to league over in Europe. He currently plays in the DEL for the Adler Mannheim. He has played in 73 games for them in which he has 62 points.

Broc Little 

Another league changer over in Europe. He’s changed teams going from the AHL over to Europe recently. In the last 3 years in Europe he’s recorded 114 points in 123 games.

John McCarthy 

He is a AHL forward for the San Jose Barracuda. In the past 3 years for them he has 88 points in 159 games played. He will provide some scoring depth to the team.

Brian O’Neill 

He went from an AHL player to the KHL over the past few years. He has played for Jokerit (KHL) for the last 2 seasons. He has 59 points in 82 games played for them.

Garrett Roe

He currently plays in the NLA for the EV Zug in which he has 31 points in 25 games. The two seasons before that he played in the SHL in which he recorded 78 points in 90 games played. Roe adds some good scoring ability to the team.

Jim Slater

He was in the NHL for 8 seasons playing for the Thrashers and the Jets until he went over to the NLA. During his time in the NHL, he recorded 99 points in 439 games. He’ll provide some depth to the team but not a ton of scoring ability.

Ryan Stoa 

He has played in the KHL for the past 4 seasons. He has recorded 116 points in 207 games. Another depth scoring forward for this team.

Troy Terry

Another 20 year old joins the team here. He has played for Denver University for the past 3 years. He currently has 53 points in 90 games played. But this year he has recorded 16 points in 14 games. So he’s really coming on so far this season.

Defense

Chad Billins

He adds good puck moving ability. He can score himself and help others score. He’s short at just 5’10” but can help as a lower pairing defenseman.

Johnathan Blum 

He’s played in the KHL for the past 3 years recording 70 points over 130 games. He adds great offense for a defenseman. He can really skate and move the puck. He’s one of the best defenseman.

Will Borgen 

Another youngster at 21 years of age, he currently plays at St. Cloud State at the collegiate level. He’s recorded 32 points in 83 games played. At 6-2 He adds some size to the blue line.

Matt Gilroy

He adds size at 6’2 and almost 200 lbs. He has been playing in the KHL for the past 3 seasons racking up 86 points over 166 games.

Ryan Gunderson 

He has been playing with the Brynas IF for the past 5 seasons. He has recorded 122 points over 186 points. Another fast moving guy standing at 5’10”, 174 pounds. He adds a offensive ability to the defense.

Bobby Sanguinetti 

He hasn’t played the past 2 seasons but he last played for the Rochester Americans in the AHL. He recorded 15 points over 40 games foir them. But he is wrecking ball at 6’3″, 190 lbs. He will add a physical aspect to the team.

Noah Welch

Currently playing over in Europe, this guy is a goon . You look up his penalty minutes and you see it. He recorded 100 in 52 games played in 2015. He plays very physical and why wouldn’t he. He crushes people since he’s 6’4″ 220 lbs.

James Wisniewski 

The name should look familiar as he played a lot in the NHL. He currently plays over in Europe and has 31 points in 19 games played. He adds experience and offensive skill to the blue line.

Goalie

Ryan Zapolski

He is currently the only goalie on the roster up to this point. He has played in the KHL for the past 2 seasons. Over 32 games this year, he has a .935 save percentage and a 1.68 goals against average. He has great numbers over his career playing in different European leagues. He has to be this teams best player.

Prediction

This team has some bright spots on it. They’ve got experience and depth. But the question is where are the “guys”. You know the star players. Who are the players you will count on most? I think that’ll be a lot of these Olympic teams questions going in. Team USA could challenge for a medal but this ain’t no miracle on ice. That is unless…..there is another miracle!

Sheahan Better Option Than Cullen?

RileySheahan definitely is no Sidney Crosby or a solid 3rd liner but he’s improving. He would be a viable option at 4th line center for the Pens after they gain a solid 3rd line center as he’s been playing solid hockey for the Pens of late.

But when compared to Matt Cullen he is having a better season. Sheahan has 6 points in 25 games and Cullen has 5 in 24 games. So points are about the same but faceoff percentage is up. Sheahan boasts a 54.38% in the face off circle compared to Cullen’s 50.4%.

The largest desperation between the two is +/-. Sheahan has a +2 and Cullen has a -9. That is huge for the teams success. They both add some solid penalty kill abilities and Sheahan costs more but he has a bigger upside with his younger age and speed.

Sheahan will be a great role player for this team like Cullen was as soon as the 3rd line center situation is resolved. Like Cullen, he isn’t a 3rd line center and shouldn’t be expected as one. But he will be a great player for the playoffs especially with his faceoff ability.

So the hype on Sheahan will never be too high but the role he will play on this team will be about the same as Cullen’s was. Minus the “dad” presence that Cullen brought with him. But the Pens will be in good hands at 4th line center as soon as they get that 3rd center to solidify this team.

Pens Right Where They Want To Be

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a concern right now when it comes to their play but looking back to previous years they are on track for another great run.

There are several things to support this thought. One is just looking back at the standings and stats of the team and players. The standings are basically the same as last year and close to the 2015-2016 start.

When you look at the numbers up to the games played up to this point they are extremely similar. In the 2015-2016 season the Pens had 28 points through November which isn’t a impressive number at all and was the lowest in the three seasons thus far.

The 2016-2017 season had some more success but still only finished November with 29 points. It is only 1 point more then their previous year in which they won the cup.

Now moving onto this season where they haven’t finished November entirely when writing this article. But as of today they have 25 points but assuming that they win another game or so then that number goes to 27 points. So even though it might not seem that the Pens are in a great situation don’t forget that they’ve been here before. And in those situations they’ve won back to back cups.