TSP Podcast: 2016 NHL Draft thoughts- the non-Bruins-centric edition

For those who aren’t that keen on the Boston Bruins, this podcast is for you!

In it, I break down some of the top talents in this year’s class- where they’re probably going and also discuss some risers (Luke Kunin, Dennis Cholowski are just two).

We’re about 2 weeks out and the combine is in the books, so more and more info will start to leak out. Is it legit? Is it deception operations from teams looking to distract away from the guys they want?

Check it out and pass it on.

TSP founder on TSN 1260 (EDM) to talk Memorial Cup and 2016 Draft

TSN 1260 radio (Edmonton) host and friend Allan Mitchell aka “Lowetide” had yours truly on today to talk about the Memorial Cup.

We covered 2016 draft eligibles from the London Knights powerhouse Matt Tkachuk, Jesse Puljujarvi and Olli Juolevi, then segued over to B’s prospects Jake DeBrusk and Jeremy Lauzon, before going back to the draft. Covered the bases on: USA NTDP d-men Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren, plus a little on Trent Frederic, Will Lockwood and then closed out on UConn freshman Tage Thompson. Also was asked about Oilers prospect and Bay Stater (North Easton, Mass.) D John Marino (who just won a Clark Cup with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm and is Harvard-bound), and answered. Boom.

Here’s the audio…I come on at about the 8:15 mark. Thanks as always to Al and his producer Lieutenant Eric for having me on.

PODCAST: Lauzon & DeBrusk Memorial Cup update and 2016 NHL Draft observations

It’s a nice Sunday afternoon…USA fell to Russia for the bronze medal (but Frankie Vatrano netted both USA goals in a 7-2 loss, so there’s that) and Canada captured goal with a rousing win over Finland, denying the Finns the international hockey sweep of World Jr., Under-18 and Men’s World championship in 2016. But, as Meatloaf used to say- “Two outta three ain’t bad!”

I did an audio podcast on the Memorial Cup, which has two Bruins prospects competing for Jr. hockey’s ultimate prize.

In it, I discuss Jeremy Lauzon’s triumphant return to action with the Quebec League champ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies after taking a skate to the neck during the QMJHL playoffs. I also talk about Jake DeBrusk and go on a bit of a rant defending him to the critics. I’m probably doing a little Bill “Thou Doth Protest Too Much” Shakespeare here, but some things just need to be said. With Boston’s goal-scoring woes, it’s surprising the level of criticism he gets from the team’s own fans, many of whom haven’t seen him much outside the occasional highlight. Well, with the Memorial Cup games on NHL Network, you can get an idea. Right, wrong or indifferent- just calling it like I see it.

I touched on how dominant the London Knights have been, even making a Hrkac Circus reference. One thing I didn’t mention in the context of Tyler Parsons’ play this year (he’s a 2016 NHL draft eligible btw) is that even if you get the puck and transition it the other way, without icing it, you have to face him. Fighting Sioux opponents had to go up against none other than Eddie Belfour in net during that magical championship season.

If you manage to make it through my self-indulgence with DeBrusk, I do a Jakob Chychrun-Dante Fabbro analysis of their performance as a D pairing at the World Under-18 tourney last month. Windsor Spitfires star D Mikhail Sergachev also gets a mention, and I share one example of his sublime skill set and hockey IQ for your listening pleasure. I also talk about 2017 draft eligible Eeli Tolvanen (and yes- he played for Sioux City of the USHL this year).

With the bulk of my draft work done for Red Line Report and New England Hockey Journal, I can now devote more time to the blog. Thanks for hanging in there…

Here’s the 30-minute audio file:

Requiem for the Bruins: the Podcast

Oops- I did it again.

I wrote extensively on the demise of the Boston Bruins yesterday on this space and there was a lot (even after that near 3,000-word opus) I did’t say.

So, here’s the audio companion to that post. I know, I know, I have not yet put these podcasts on iTunes. I’m a bad blogger. But, you can click on the “Podcasts” category to catch up on anything you missed.

Expounded on each of the 4 points about the B’s talent (mainly on defense), Claude Julien, management (to include ownership and thoughts on el Presidente- Cam Neely) and the B’s core, including a bit of a rant on Tuukka Rask. I’m sure that some folks won’t be happy about that, but I just call it like I see it. When Rask has played well, I’ve been sure to single him out to provide balance. But, enough is enough with the extremes.

Finally, I closed out with what needs to come next for the Bruins (in my view).  Talked a little about the defense and who they might go after in the coming weeks, including local (Milton, Mass.) product Keith Yandle, one of the top unrestricted free agents hitting the market on July 1.

1 podcast. 50 minutes. If you get through it all, more power to you, but as always- appreciate the support.

It’s going to be a long offseason, but here’s to change and doing something different.

TSP Podcast: “Don’t Cry For Me Music City”- the Vesey Report

Jimmy Vesey’s decision to not sign with Nashville this week has created some legitimate hockey buzz.

Rather than write a big post about my own connection and background with Jimmy, one that goes back to his high school years when he was being seriously scouted for the USHL, and address some of the key issues around this situation, I figured I’d do a podcast on it.

It’s 50 minutes, but if you make it through- you’ll know a lot about Vesey’s past and some of the factors that might have played into his decision to part ways with the Predators. I address that team’s reaction and how they essentially burned the bridge with him…assuming he didn’t Alec Guiness the thing over the last week or so (Bridge on the River Kwai reference- check it out if you’ve never seen it). I also talk about the current NCAA loophole that allowed Blake Wheeler to choose his destination in 2008 after being Phoenix’s fifth overall pick four years earlier. Others have followed suit- Vesey certainly wasn’t the first, and if the NHL doesn’t close the avenue available to certain NCAA players that qualify, he won’t be the last.

I take a look at how the Bruins’ players under similar circumstances have fared- Zane McIntyre, Rob O’Gara and Matt Grzelcyk– Vesey’s close friend and minor hockey teammate. He’s on track to sign with the Bruins as well, so this gets to the heart of the premium the organization has placed on developing relationships and the success the team has had in signing its draft picks. Danton Heinen is next. But, if the NHL doesn’t act to provide some kind of compensation, eventually, the B’s could find themselves in a similar spot. So long as we understand that this is the way of life that the current collective bargaining agreement allows for. Don’t blame Vesey- it’s not about compensation with him, it’s about choice and the ability to decide his own NHL destination.

If you can’t get enough of Vesey analysis and news- I covered similar ground today on TSN1260 in Edmonton with Allan Mitchell. You can listen to that much shorter segment here.

Enjoy the audio commentary.

For a bonus, here’s the capsule I wrote on Vesey in the June 2012 New England Hockey Journal NHL draft preview article for the region:

1. Jimmy Vesey, LW South Shore (EJHL) 6-1, 195 Shoots: L (North Reading, Mass.)GP- 45   G- 48   A- 43 PTS- 91 PIM- 43            Central Scouting Final Rank: 77 NA

The skinny: Vesey used the draft snub as powerful motivation to shatter EJHL scoring records with the Kings under Scott Harlow (Bridgewater, Mass.). His skating continues to get better, but his high-end instincts and soft hands mean he won’t get skipped this time. The 2012 John Carlton Memorial Trophy winner as the top area scholar-athlete in hockey has also added about 15 pounds of muscle to his frame thanks to hard work with noted trainer Brian McDonough (Easton, Mass.).

Quotable: “He’s such a strong skater and was a lot more aggressive with the puck this year, taking advantage of his good hands and hockey sense. With his added strength and conditioning, he’s been so much more effective in all areas of his game.”- Gary Eggleston, regional scout, Central Scouting Service

TSP SPD Podcast: Bruins road trip update, Frank Vatrano & 4 guys for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Hi, gang-  been a little under the weather, but feeling improved, so I cut a podcast early this morning in time for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Focus is on the Boston Bruins during their West Coast road swing after dropping the first game to San Jose by a 3-2 score. Things get no easier with matches against L.A. and Anaheim. They go back east and get a little time at home before going to the Big Apple and Madison Square Garden to play the NY Rangers next week. This is a pivotal six points up for grabs.

We also go into Frank Vatrano and the fantastic season he’s having. The Springfield Rifle has 31 goals in 31 AHL games and while B’s fans are clamoring to get him on the big roster and playing again, I attempt to explain why that hasn’t happened yet. Hint- it’s not always a simple talent swap between Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes and/or Brett Connolly.

Finally- I close out the 40-minute podcast with some thoughts on four players I think are on Boston’s 2016 draft watch list: three defensemen and one impressive forward. It’s still difficult to narrow the focus, but I think if the B’s could get any one of these guys let alone two with their multiple first-round picks, they’ll be in good shape. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out who I’m talking about, though.

So, thanks for listening and I do promise to get these posted over at iTunes so you can download and listen to them on other formats. I’ll carve out time to do that and post a notice on the blog. As always- appreciate the support and feedback.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day and enjoy the podcast!

2016 NHL Trade Dud-line

It wasn’t so much what February 29, 2016 was with all of the buildup, but what it wasn’t.

Loui Eriksson, a player this blog declared a foregone conclusion that he would be moved, stayed put.

Jonathan Drouin, the former third overall pick in 2013 and an electrifying talent who opted to sit home and wait for a trade out of Tampa Bay was not granted his wish, so will have to decide between staying home and missing an entire season (and thereby delaying his eventual arrival to unrestricted free agency) or coming back to work with his tail between his legs in hopes of salvaging some value for an offseason deal.

Veteran defender Dan Hamhuis had a lot of attention surrounding him going into the final day to wheel and deal, but Vancouver couldn’t make anything work. GM Jim Benning wasn’t able to move Radim Vrbata either, for that matter.

Most of what happened today was spare parts and aging assets exchanged for futures (picks and prospects), and on that score, the Boston Bruins and GM Don Sweeney were firmly in the middle. For whatever that’s worth.

The team gave up four picks- two each in 2016 and 2017 and a bust prospect in Anthony Camara to acquire veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles and right wing Lee Stempniak, 35 and 33 years of age respectively. Both represent an upgrade to the current Bruins roster, but how much of an upgrade is the source of contentious debate.

Even if you’re okay with the addition of Liles and Stempniak for what the B’s gave up for them (some folks aren’t but that’s often what happens when assets are exchanged for marginal improvements in the form of aging veterans), the real issue of the day from the Boston perspective is the fact that Sweeney was not able to move Eriksson.

In his post-deadline press conference, Sweeney said the following:

“I’ve always valued the type of player that Loui is. The season he’s having I think is important for where our club is and if the deal wasn’t going to be right, that we were going to maintain our position. If you look around the league, I don’t think any team currently in a playoff position traded a player of Loui’s magnitude.”

That may be true.

It also ignores the fact that Eriksson provided the Bruins with a rare out- a chance to take a step backwards to perhaps build towards a more substantial leap ahead in the coming offseason or beyond.

Now, Sweeney is faced with the unenviable task of either re-signing Eriksson to an extension that he’s already proven he won’t cut the team any slack on (unless he has a change of heart between now and June 23- which is around the draft when the B’s can at least flip his rights to a team desiring exclusive negotiating rights for a fifth- or sixth-round pick. Whoopee.) or watching him ride off into the sunset with a big barrel of cash and a new team come July 1.

Sure- this Bruins club is a better team with Eriksson on it than not, but nobody is lining up to put lay odds on them to win a Stanley Cup and put money on it. So, while he and Liles and Stempniak do have a better than average chance of keeping the Bruins on glide path to one of eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the team diminished its chances a little in stockpiling the assets needed to go out and get that legitimate, in-his-prime or younger top-4 defenseman and maybe more.

It’s hard to fault Sweeney for wanting to give his team, which has worked hard to stay in the thick of things this season, a reasonable chance to reach the postseason, when anything can happen. Unfortunately, the fans are in no mood to see the Bruins simply make the playoffs only to bow out quickly, or get trounced by the clear contenders of the conference.

Here’s a 35-minute podcast that capture my thoughts on Eriksson and the new acquisitions, but it’s hard to be excited over what happened today. There are always those fans that are eternally optimistic and will look for the positives. More power to them. Alas, the majority of folks I’ve heard from aren’t on board, so if Boston fans start voting with their feet, there will be even more pressure on management to make more substantial changes.

Let’s just hope that doesn’t amount to throwing good money after bad.

Scouting Post podcast: pre-NHL trade deadline

I solicited questions on Twitter and got a lot of solid queries about various topics, much of them related to the Boston Bruins, but some of them not.

The podcast is a little over an hour long, and in it- I address the chances of the B’s landing a younger, higher-end defenseman at the trade deadline, what will happen with Loui Eriksson going forward, whether the team should bring Frank Vatrano back, a few questions about the 2016 NHL draft, and other topics. I close out by answering who I would keep if the Bruins could have just one prospect at every position, which is a much tougher question to answer than you might think.

So, settle in, grab some popcorn and check it out. Or not. An hour is a lot of anyone’s time to give up, but I appreciate the support this blog has gotten since I launched it back in July.

2016 NHL Entry Draft Podcast: View from the Top

I want to thank everyone who gave feedback about the first podcast I posted on the blog, covering the top 10 Boston Bruins prospects. I enjoyed doing it, so I figured it was a good time to go back to the well and do some extended coverage on the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, which will be here before we know it.

This particular podcast is designed to be the first in a series, where I will share observations on the various players in the late ’97/prior to September 16, 1998-born guys eligible for the 2016 NHL draft.

These are *not* players I am identifying just as options for the Bruins- the draft series should appeal to all fans who have an interest in the draft class. The way the B’s are performing at least up to the beginning of February, they aren’t serious contenders for Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, but you never know. Perhaps the fans of clubs who are in position to come away with those two will find this audio informative.

As for the 2016 draft as a whole- it’s not all that deep, at least compared to a year ago. It’s superb at the top- and I talk about that to start the podcast, but there’s probably a big drop-off once you get out of the first round, and that means that a lot of the pre-draft rankings will see a lot of variance and movement once you get into the 40’s.

Well, enough of an intro- here’s the podcast.

I plan to do an audio mailbag in the future- a podcast version of what I was doing over the summer when I solicited questions over at Twitter, so if you have some questions that spin out of this post, fire away and I will try to address them on the next podcast.

 

Scouting Post Podcast: New England Hockey Journal top-10 Boston Bruins prospects

Just in time to (just)  beat the faceoff between the Bruins and Leafs…

Click to listen to my very first podcast- a 40-minute recap of the Boston Bruins top-10 prospects article I wrote for the January issue of New England Hockey Journal. In addition to the top-11 (I threw in Jake DeBrusk for good measure), I also talk about a couple of guys who were close but who didn’t make the cut on the pro side (Peter Cehlarik) and amateur ranks (Jesse Gabrielle, Brandon Carlo).

It took me a while to figure it out, and this was recorded last week (hence the All-Star weekend comment at the end) BUT- I plan to do more of these not only on Bruins prospects but on key NHL draft players for 2016 as well.

Enjoy and be sure to share it around if you like it.