Archive for June 2012

2010 WCHL Entry Draft in the books

Surprise picks; plummets name of draft

Patrik who? A few draft fans wonder the same thing about Patrik Nemeth after the New York Islanders took a chance on the young Swede.
The 2010 WCHL Entry Draft concluded yesterday, with the final pieces of the seventh round falling into place. While the bigger names were long gone by that point, teams were still eager to round out their prospects pool and recounting a draft gone by where everyone felt like a winner.
"We did good, real good," proclaimed Los Angeles Kings General Manager Ryan Tilley. "We were excited to see some of the players still available at our selections and we feel we came away with a better outlook for the future."
With Alex Burmistrov falling to the Kings at 17 after having been forecasted as a top 10 selction, the Kings were right to be pleased, but Burmistrov wasn't the only player who seen his stock jump wildly at the draft.
Brandon Gromley, once thought of as a darkhorse top three pick, fell to Ottawa at 20, while Mark Stone rode a wave of momentum from a late round pick all the way to a surprising first round selection, ironically also by Ottawa.
While Stone's pick did raise a few eyebrows, it was the New York Islanders who once again were swivelling heads with their selections. While top prizes Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler did go early to Long Island, it was the middle first round picks tha generated a lot of buzz.
With three straight picks from 12th to 14th, Islanders GM Jimmi Bornstrom, who has always shown a strong penchent for European players, went off the board and selected Calle Jornkrok, Johan Larsson and Patrick Nemeth.
"We had Jarnkrok and Larsson in the first round, so we weren't as shocked as some others were apparently, but Nemeth was really out of left field. We had him mid-third round," explained one GM.
The moves really shook up a draft which was anything but ordinary. One team, the Florida Panthers, dealt away their first round pick and ended up not even making a selection at all.
"I think for some of our lower teams from last year, it was a good draft, especially if you look at Dallas," said Commissioner Trent Allen. "They made a few moves and picked up some help now in players like Marian Hossa and Rob Scuderi, but they also drafted two really good defensemen in Justin Faulk and Eric Gudbrandson. They took a big step forward today and you'll see the dividends of that starting next year. They will be a better team next year."

Justin Faulk (left) and Eric Gudbrandson are the wave of the future for the Dallas Stars.
Now the eyes of the scouting world have turned towards 2011, when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog will battle it out with Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier, Jonathan Huberdeau and a host of other aspiring young hopefuls for top spot and a chance to lead the next wave of talent into the WCHL.

Expect to hear Jonathan Hubereau's name called early at next years' Entry Draft.

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Doubling down on the crown

Avalanche once again go the distance for WCHL Cup

Colorado celebrates its second straight (and counting...?) WCHL Cup title, in retro jerseys no less.

For the first time in the modern era (that being under the STHS simulator) the WCHL Cup champions have repeated.

The Colorado Avalanche are needless to say on cloud nine after winning their second straight WCHL crown, four games to two over the New York Rangers.

"This is like drinking a chocolate milkshake without the brain freeze," said Avalanche General Manager Ryan McClanahan. "It's scrum-didily-umtious."

The Avanlanche battled back from deficits in round one and three and won all three road games in the finals to claim victory. There win in game six turned out to be the only victory for a home team in the entire series.

"I'd like to say the Rangers were worthy opponents, but my mom told me not to lie or she'd wash out my mouth with soap," proclaimed defenseman Brayden Coburn. "I hate the taste of soap, especially that Dial stuff my mom likes. So I won't lie. The Rangers were terrible and (Henrik) Lundqvist is a bum."

Even the Conn Smythe-worthy play of Henrik Lundqvist couldn't save the Rangers.

Not all Avalanche players were so cocky in victory.

"It was a great series and a great playoffs," said winger Patrick Sharp who led the Avalanche in playoff scoring. "My hat goes off to the Rangers, they are the best losers of the bunch."

This series could be featured again and again as the years go by, with the Avs and Rangers constant darkhorse threats to win the WCHL Cup. Boasting well stocked, deep and talented rosters with as much youth as veteran leadership, the runs these two teams put together was no fluke.

The idea of a three-peat has not escaped the mind of Avalanche fans, but they know it will be extra hard to do so. Not only has no team won three straight titles, the Avalanche will also have to do it without the services of Niklas Lidstrom. The all-world blueliner hung up his skates after skating away with the WCHL Cup.

"What a way to go," said Lidstrom. "To win two straight cups and to do it in front of these fans, this is increadible. Words can't describe it."

"These fans deserve this and I'm glad to be able to give it to them. I hope they cherish it as much as I do."

Avs fans cheer on their team in Game 6.

The only other team to win two straight WCHL Cups was the San Jose Sharks, who did it prior to the sim change to the STHS model. While San Jose was unsuccessful in their bid to win three straight cups, San Jose would go on to win their third -and last- WCHL Cup the year after.

"I'm not thinking about a three-peat now," said McClanahan. "I just want to go get (expletative deleted)-faced and wind up face down in some hot chicks rack. IT'S MOTORBOATING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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And it comes down to this...

Do the Avalanche repeat, or do the Rangers finally win it all?

It's game on for the Avalanche and Rangers as the WCHL Cup finals start tonight.
For the past 10 WCHL seasons, a new team has been crowned as champion. Only the San Jose Sharks have ever claimed more than one WCHL Cup, and the Sharks are also the only team to do it in back-to-back years, winning it all in Season 2 and 3.

With four more wins, the Colorado Avalanche could move into those ranks as well, as the defending WCHL Cup champions have returned to the WCHL finals the year after winning the cup, the first team to do so since the Sharks.

The New York Rangers meanwhile are seeking to finally claim their first elusive WCHL Cup. Three years ago, the Rangers and Calgary Flames met up in the finals, pitting two teams that had begun extensive rebuilds at the same time against one another. In that series the Rangers dropped four straight games, but to many, they expected the Rangers to return next year.

The Rangers would love to capture a bit of the Moose's magic to try and bring the cup back to New York for the first time in 18 years.
Three years later, the Rangers have returned, albeit after a very narrow escape in round one from the Philadelphia Flyers, who pushed the Rangers to overtime in game seven before falling. Both teams have been tested and bent these playoffs, but neither broke and is now four hard-fought wins away from a WCHL crown.

(4 in West) Colorado Avalanche vs. (3 in East) New York Rangers- The Avalanche have shown great resiliency in these playoffs, much more than would be expected from a team which is fresh off a Cup title. The Avalanche fell behind 1-0 in their first round series and 2-0 in the third round against the high-powered Calgary Flames. In both cases, they replied with four straight wins to move on. In round two they didn't even let the Anaheim Ducks get started, sweeping the youthful and talented Ducks in four straight games. After posting 111 points in the regular season, Colorado is a very impressive 12-3 so far this post season, 12-2 in their last 14 games.

Probably it will come down to Henrik Lundqvist on whether or not the Rangers win the cup.

For the Rangers, they are also on a great roll lately. After watching the Flyers battle back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series at 3-3, the Rangers have gone 9-2 since then, losing just a pair of games to the upstart Buffalo Sabres in the third round. This follows an underrated regular season in which the Rangers coasted behind the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference much of the season and still managed to pick up 116 points. The Rangers have shown some stutters in the playoffs, and have lost back-to-back games twice in the post-season. Needless to say a similar mistake in the finals could cost them everything.

While the matchup pits two of the game's best netminders against one another in Colorado's Ilya Bryzgalov versus the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers offense has been outstanding this post-season, led by the duo of Tomas Fleischmann and Johan Franzen, who have scored 24 goals so far between them, 15 of which are on the powerplay. For the Avalanche meanwhile, this cup finals just took on an entirely new demeanor, as all-world defenseman Niklas Lidstrom just announced yesterday he will be retiring after the finals, ending a sure-fire Hall of Fame career. The blueliner is going out with a bang, as he is currently leading all playoff defensemen in scoring with 16 points in 15 games, including one of only four shorthanded goals scored in the playoffs, while sitting second in shot blocks with 31.

Arguably the greatest defenseman in WCHL history, Niklas Lidstrom is hoping to go out with a bang in leading the Colorado Avalanche to back-to-back WCHL Cup titles.

This series could come down to Lidtsrom himself. The blueliner will most likely be matched up against his former teammate Franzen and if he can limit Franzen's offense, it could be what swings this series in favor of the Avalanche. If not, and the Rangers can get a few past Bryzgalov, it could be tough for the Avalanche to comeback considering they have a line up filled with good, solid, but not star level forwards who would need to trump Lundqvist. Prediction: New York Rangers in seven games.

ACHL Finals

(1 in West) Abbotsford Heat vs. (6 in East) Norfolk Admirals- Abbotsford in six games.

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