Author: SFDI

The Edmonton Oilers sign Jake Virtanen, Jason Demers to PTOs


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By Jordan Laroche

With the NHL season drawing closer, teams are looking to fill in the last few spots on their rosters before October 7.

In a slew of Professional Trout Contracts (PTOs) signed around the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers signed Jake Virtanen and Jason Demers to PTOs. Both Virtanen and Demers played in the KHL last year after being unable to find NHL contracts prior to the 2021-2022 season for very different reasons.

Demers spent his last four NHL seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, the last was during a shortened season where he had 4 points in 41 games and was a -4.

Demers only appeared in five games for AK Bars Kazan registering one assist during the stint, the team was swept in the first round of the KHL Playoffs by Avangard Omsk. Demers also played for Team Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics where he had two assists in five games before the team was knocked out.

Demers turned 34 this offseason, and with the Oilers defensive group looking complete heading into the season, Demers will likely be the 7th defenseman on the roster.

Virtanen, a former 6th overall pick by the Vancouver Canucks, never quite turned into the elite player many thought he would have. Despite that, he has shown promise to be a top-9 forward in the NHL when he had 36 points in 69 games in 2019-2020.

Virtanen had a less-than memorable departure from the NHL in 2021 after being charged with Sexual Assault, he was bought out by the Canucks shortly after. However, in July a British Columbia jury found him not guilty of the charges.

While many have written Virtanen off, he has always played a physical game throwing over 150 hits in consecutive seasons in 2017-2018, 2018-2019. Virtanen could challenge for a fourth line role, but being around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl could reinvigorate Virtanen much like they did for Jesse Puljujarvi.


What are realistic expectations for the Calgary Flames?

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By Jordan Laroche

This has been a roller-coaster of an offseason for the Calgary Flames. The team lost two of their cornerstones when Johnny Gaudreau left and Matthew Tkachuk requested a trade, the Flames seemed to be totally lost.

Flames GM Brad Trievling was able to flip the script on the Flames hopes when the team announced they got Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar in return for Tkachuk. And the team announced later in the summer that they signed the biggest name on the Free Agent market in Nazem Kadri.

Another addition that shouldn’t be overlooked is Kevin Rooney. Rooney spent the last two seasons with the New York Rangers anchoring the fourth line during his tenure.

While his numbers may not jump off the page, he was a crucial part of the Rangers bottom six when they went to the Eastern Conference Final. Rooney averaged just under 14 minutes of ice time per game, often playing the penalty kill and in late-game situations for the Rangers.

Last year, the Flames left the playoffs after a five game series where they never really felt in control. It took a four goal comeback for the Flames to win game one against the Edmonton Oilers, before losing four in a row. The Flames haven’t moved past the second round since 2004, but with a new look this team is poised to do big things.

With these new pieces, the Flames are expected to do big things this year and with the sixth best odds to win the Stanley Cup (+1500) they are going to be a fierce contender out of the West.

New York Rangers name Jacob Trouba the 28th Captain in Franchise History


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By Jordan Laroche

It has been a long four seasons since the New York Rangers have had a captain, and rumors have been circling who it could be since last offseason. Adam Fox and Chris Kreider’s names were thrown around as potential suitors, and some fans wanted to see Mika Zibanejad wear the “C”. But the team announced on Monday night that Jacob Trouba would be the 28th captain in franchise history.

The Rangers acquired Trouba in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets in the 2019 offseason, sending Neal Pionk and the Jets’ first round pick that the Rangers acquired in a trade during the season. While Trouba has yet to find his offense since moving to New York, but he has become one of the most feared defensemen in the league finishing 27th in the NHL in hits this season. However, his leadership traits are what led Chris Drury to naming him captain “Since he joined the Rangers, Jacob has consistently displayed all the qualities we want in a leader on and off the ice.”

Trouba still has four years left with an $8,000,000 cap hit, while some may argue that he is overpaid, they can’t deny that his impact on the second pairing ripples throughout the team. Skating with 22 year old K’Andre Miller the pair has been matched against some of the top lines in the NHL while logging over 20 minutes a night each.

The Rangers have not had a captain since the team traded Ryan Mcdonagh to the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2018. They also traded former captain Ryan Callahan to the Lightning in 2014.



Offseason Moves That Will Have the Biggest Impact Next Season


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By Jordan Laroche

It’s been a month since the Colorado Avalanche were named Stanley Cup Champions and since then we’ve seen some franchise changing moves that can have drastic impacts on the 2022-2023 season. Teams like the Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators have made numerous moves and signings taking them from lottery teams to true playoff contenders.

While there are some big names still on the free agent market and some players still hoping to move, we’re going to take a look at some moves that have the potential to make the biggest impact next season.

Johnny Gaudreau

Johnny Gaudreau shocked the Hockey world when he announced that he was signing a seven year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Many people are still questioning the signing as the Blue Jackets have not been in the playoffs since 2020, and they face the issue many Ohio based sports teams face when trying to bring in big names.

Columbus finished the 2021-2022 season 19 points out of a playoff spot in a pretty lopsided Eastern Conference. This team is not far off from being a playoff contender and they addressed their need for consistent offense by bringing in Gaudreau.

Patrik Laine and Boone Jenner missed some time this season and had they been in the lineup this could have been a very different season for the Blue Jackets. With their new star, the Columbus Blue Jackets could very well be in the hunt for the playoffs again next season.

Darcy Kuemper

It was a hard choice for Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche to let their Stanley Cup winning goaltender walk this offseason, but he did and is joining the Washington Capitals. While this is a great move for the Capitals, it left the Avalanche with some tougher choices.

With Kuemper gone, the Avs re-signed Pavel Fracouz and traded for Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. The defending Stanley Cup champions are now going into this season without a true number one goaltender.

However, for the Capitals, this is a great move. They knew they had to address goaltending this offseason after lackluster performances by Vitek Vanicek and Ilya Samsonov and they brought in the biggest fish on the market.

Vincent Trochek

While this signing didn’t make a ton of noise and it may not be the sexiest, hear me out. The New York Rangers let Ryan Strome, who is coming off a 50 point season walk, hoping to get an upgrade at the 2C spot. When joining the Rangers, Strome was a 30 point player but when put on a line with Artemi Panarin he instantly became a consistent 50 point player.

While Trochek has never been able to reproduce his 75 point season in 2017-2018 the Rangers are hoping that skating with Panarin can open up his offense once again.

There may be some doubts about Trochek given his dip in points, but this has the potential to be one of the most impactful moves this offseason.

Claude Giroux/Alex DeBrincat

This was a tough choice as both Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat will make a lot of noise for the Ottawa Senators last season so I decided to put them together. Giroux, the longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain, will provide a strong voice in the locker room while still being able to produce offensively. Giroux had a great season with 65 points 75 games with 8 points in 10 playoff games, he will fit in very nicely with this young group and can help players like Tim Stutzle find their games.

While Giroux is a nice piece for a few years, Alex DeBrincat will have a long lasting impact on this Senators team. The 24 year old sniper is still developing, which is scary considering he had 41 goals last season. This will be a big test for DeBerincat to see if he can match that production without his former line mate Patrick Kane.



Has Jesse Puljujarvi played his last game as an Edmonton Oiler? Copy


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By Neil Becker
Jesse Puljujarvi’s time with the Edmonton Oilers may be coming to an end.

This hulking right winger, who stands at 6 foot 4 inches and 201 pounds became an Oiler when he was drafted 4th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Since then, he’s had a polarizing tenure with the Oilers which has consisted of some great play along with bouts of inconsistency.

Puljujarvi, who scored 14 goals and a career high 36 points in 65 games this year, started the season extremely well as he produced six goals in the first 11 games. He averaged about a point per game in the first 15 games and was becoming extremely popular until suddenly the wheels fell off. Unexpectantly, he endured some long scoring slumps which had him moving to different lines. Over the final 54 games of the season, he scored only eight goals and this past spring only two in 16 playoff games.

“Certainly, he played really good the first quarter of the season and then he kind of came off it, and I think it was a struggle for him, I think the last half,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said. “I think he lost his confidence. Then he lost his confidence, he obviously was in the top-six and he worked his way into the bottom-six.”

Back in 2016, when Puljujarvi was drafted, Oilers fans and management were extremely optimistic and excited about the future. In fact, approximately a month after the draft, he inked a three-year entry level contract and Oilers nation welcomed him with open arms.

That fall, looking to make a mark as a teenaged rookie, Puljujarvi badly struggled as he scored only 1 goal and 8 points in 28 games before getting sent down to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors where in 39 games he tallied a respectable 12 goals along with 28 points.

In his sophomore season, Puljujarvi’s stats showed a slight improvement as he played 65 games with the Oilers and produced 12 goals and 20 points. Once again, he saw some time in the AHL as he dressed for 10 games with Bakersfield where he scored 1 goal and 5 points.

Puljujarvi’s development took a major hit in his third season which saw him play only 46 games in the 2018-2019 campaign where he scored only 4 goals and 9 points. He also played four games in Bakersfield and totaled 2 goals along with 4 points.

At this time, fans and media alike were starting to get a little impatient with Puljujarvi’s lack of production and inconsistent play.  

Having lost confidence and frustrated with his lack of playing time, it looked like his days as an Oiler had come to an end when Puljujarvi decided to hold out and spent the 2019-2020 season playing for Oulun Karpat in the Finish Elite League League.

Looking at the time for the Oilers to trade him, both sides eventually made peace and on October 7, 2020, they agreed to a two-year $2.35 million dollar deal with the Oilers.

Whether it be maturity or a new found confidence, Puljujarvi showed some modest improvement starting in the 2020-21 season where he played in 55 games and scored career highs of 15 goals and 25 points.

That as already mentioned was followed by this past season where Puljujarvi again showed slight improvement but was prone to long frustrating goal scoring droughts.

During his time with the Oilers, Puljujarvi has shown glimpses of his strong potential. An example of this was on January 20, 2018, when against the Vancouver Canucks, he scored a goal and for the first time in his career had three points. He also experienced another NHL first, being named the game’s first star.  

Still, it’s not a certainty that this restricted free agent who has a nickname “The Bison King” will be wearing Oilers colors next fall.

In Holland’s post-season media release, he stated at one point,

“I’ve got to sort out Jesse.” When asked if he was part of the equation for an Oilers team looking to get better and compete, Holland said, “That’s what I’ve got to find out.”

In his career Puljujarvi has played 259 games where he has scored 46 goals and 98 points.

The Oilers, who were swept in the Western Conference Finals by the Colorado Avalanche, have some tough decisions to make this summer.