Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Wish List

TigerTurf's Super Arm-Chair Wish List

The top 10 goaltenders in the league have an average age of 19.1. It is extremely rare to see a starting goalie that is younger than 17.

The big weakness here is that the Tigers don't have a solid backup. I'm not knocking McGovern here. 16's with limited experience in today's game are simply too young to handle the experience and shot strength of 19's.

They will be forced to rely on Schneider for the majority of their games and their is a degree of risk of injury or being overplayed.

    Next Year
    Schneider will be an overage. Normally 20's under contract for more than a year don't return. Nick Schneider is signed by the flames and their goalie situation looks volatile for next season.  Quite often NHL team will place a player in  the AHL/ECHL or junior based on how many contracts they have in their system. It's not often what's best for the player, but what's best for their own system.

    If we look to next year; Schneider coming back is up in the air with the Flames volatility. Even so McGovern would still be hard pressed for the starters role being only 17.  If Schneider doesn't come back their is a high chance the Tigers will need to look for a temporary starter before McGovern comes into form for his 18yr old season.

    If the Tigers remain with the status quo; their are 2 scenarios that equal trouble.
  1. Schneider is injured this season. 
  2.  Schneider is plucked off to the Pro's next year and they don't have a goalie is starter material.

        If they acquire a backup
        If the Tigers acquire a goalie for this season, they would likely send McGovern down.  Then when Schneider finally moves on they can call up McGovern whether that is next year, or the year thereafter. 

        Worse case scenario, next year McGovern comes into form, and they have 2 goaltenders fighting for the starters job, while new prospects also compete for a spot. For the Tigers it seems like a win-win scenario. The only caveat here is the price that potentially comes with and their has been some goal-tending movement this season already. Even though Schneider will be the #1 guy and play the majority of games I think they should look for backup alternatives as long as the price isn't ridiculous.

I have full confidence in Schneider as he is capable of making the big breakaway stop or a big save in critical times of the game. The Tigers defensive capabilities are underwhelming so his .897 save percentage is ok, despite the Tigers winning a lot of games.

An upgrade over Schneider would cost a lot and it would be a relatively minor upgrade in the bigger picture. Schneider is playing the bulk of the games, and goal-tending is big on mental sharpness and technique.  He looks a bit mentally tired at times.

Whenever we talk about defense we should get away from "defenceman" and talk about the defensive play from the whole group.

 The Tigers forwards are offensively minded. They rely on fast transition and sometimes take off early, which means that turning the puck over in the neutral zone is a death sentence. They have to make sure they limit those turnovers. Their offensive players are sometimes not defensively aware.  One of their big weakpoints is that their forwards are out of position often and it leaves big gaps and puts more pressure on the defenceman.

    Elite Defenceman Vs a Good Defenceman
In the WHL elite and good forwards will own good and average defenceman. It takes an elite defenceman to stop elite and good forwards consistently. Defenceman peak later than forwards  why?

Keeping things extremely general, Forwards are the higher speed players. It takes experience and smarts for someone who is slower to stop someone who is faster while skating backwards.

        Defensive Scale

The group they have now in my opinion are mostly great skaters, but defensively average. 
I could create a scale, but this post is already getting long

Assuming everyone is healthy.....

In a nutshell an opponents top line has a minuscule advantage over the Tigers top defensive coverage.
However if we take into account the Tigers powerful offense as a whole, that swings the advantage into the Tigers favor. Still their is a bit of volatility and in the short-term anything can happen.

2nd line is where the Tigers have a gap. A strong team with strong players on line 2, will take advantage of the Tigers average defensive capabilities.  Right here is where the Tigers need their offense to overpower the opponent. If they don't or can't the opponent has a natural advantage.

3rd - Here is where the Tigers shine. The opponents offense and depth  isn't as great as the Tigers. The Tigers 3rd line can score and they create a massive advantage.  The Tigers essentially have near PPG forwards facing off against average  players. So for 15 minutes of a hockey game the Tigers get an automatic big advantage

4th - Similar to the 3rd line. Tigers have more depth offensively, and have good forwards playing against below average defenceman.  Here is another 6-8 minutes a hockey game where they have the edge.

When everyone is healthy they have 3 scoring lines, and a 4th line that probably a 3rd line on most WHL teams. They overpower a lot of opponents, as a team that doesn't have a strong top 4 defensive group doesn't stand a chance.

Right now with Fischer/Dahlstrom out, their offensive output has kinda shrunk to 2 lines. They really need some depth players like the Jevne's Hamblin, to step up. They also need the vets like Bradley to take pressure off players suck as Butcher and Shaw.

With their defensive gaps, the group needs to take care of their own zone first. Occasionally a player will get a bit selfish and take off risking their position for a chance. They really need to limit that to maybe 1 a game, and ensure their own zone is looked after.

Prior to the injury to Rubins, and Fischer suspension, the Tigers were going into hockey games with 22 minutes or 1 period worth of matchups that are overpowering opponents.Combine that with a 30% PP, a top ranked PK, that is a significant advantage.

With Rubins and Fischer out, the Tigers  shrink to 2 scoring lines, as well as average defensive capabilities. That means the Tigers offense is good, but not overpowering, so the line 2 gap is now a disadvantage, the Tigers defense can be taken advantage of, and they become an average team.

 Even though it is only 2 players, it shrinks the overpowering nature the Tigers had. They need to try and get the opponent to utilize their 3rd/4th lines because the Tigers have a natural edge in play there.

When the Tigers offense over-powers they will win. Win their offense doesn't overpower they will loose. Edit: Fischer has since returned, but Dahlstrom will be leaving to go to the world juniors for Sweden.

Where to go
So they have a lot of good skaters on defence, but I think they need a 2 or 3 tiered approach to eliminate the bigger defensive gaps. Just one guy will help but won't magically solve their average defensive team play.

They need a 2 way defensively sound defenceman who can make great first passes out of the zone. Someone who can break up a cycle. A Burroughs/Stanton type.  Finding someone who is not just another great skater, but who is incredibly smart and defensively sound. It pushes their depth down, and suddenly a "good" defenceman like Kirichenko is playing more against the opponents 2nd line

Projected Lineup
Rubins New Guy
Kirichenko Schultz
quenneville  macphee/gally/forrest/macpherson

Then if an injury occurs to one of their top 4, they will will still have great depth. The only problem is that multiple teams will likely be looking to add a top defenceman so the cost may be really high.

A defensively sound forward. They are 1 guy short up front, but  they could use a guy like Dylan Bredo. A smart guy with speed, who has insane defensive instincts.  Someone who takes care of their own end first.

Fischer Butcher Owre
Bradley Shaw Dahlstrom
Rassal Defensively forward Gerlach
Jevne Hamblin   Prezusio/haden/chyzowski

Also they need to work on their D-Zone coverage. Too many times they bunch together in straight line formations which are terrible as it leaves a lot of open space.

My Christmas Wish List
Top line smart Defenceman
Defensively Sound smart forward
Backup goaltender

I think if they can fill those 3 holes, they have a very solid chance of playing for a memorial cup, as long as they can remain relatively healthy.

A defensively sound forward could be  cheaper to grab. a player like forrest would be more than enough value. A backup goaltender is a "nice to have" but with their other 2 needs may be the last thing on the plate to get.

Players that I think could be available
Dalton Gally - Bigger Dman. Tigers have a lot of depth, but may want to keep for next year
Gary Haden - Tigers have a lot of depth and he isn't getting much playing time. Could be worth a lot
Brad Forrest - A very good skating 19yr old Dman. Could easily play 2nd line minutes on most teams
Dylan Macpherson - good smart skating Damn, depth issues limit playing time.



TigerTurf said...

I regards to schneider last night he had 2 bad goals out of the 7, but it looked like his confidence was getting pretty low by the end of the night.

5 of the goals were odd-man situations, or situations where the lead up to the goal offered prime scoring chances. Like shaw trying to shovel away a rebound and put it on a kelowna's players stick at the top of the crease.

Schneider may need a break. A bit funny though that if Mcgovern steps in for next game it will be his 3rd game against kamloops

longtimefan said...

I would agree with your assessment of what the Tigers need to add to their lineup. I think they need another Zach Fischer type of forward and another defenceman although I believe They need a second pairing guy. Before Rubins got injured he and Kirichenko were more than adequate as a top pair.

Nick Schneider is struggling right now. Even before last nights game his last few starts have been spotty. His positioning hasn't been good, he's been overplaying his angles and he's been giving up a softie every game. He's played the second most games in the league, 29, and to me it looks like fatigue has set in. If they don't have confidence that McGovern can play more games then they need to bring in someone that can give Nick some days off in the second half.

Anonymous said...

The Tiger's desperately need a goalie. Schneider was shaky last year and is again this year. They lose to other teams goalies all the time. Recent games against Red Deer, Lethbridge and their southern road trip show this. Schneider had a good run late last year, but in 2 years of following the Tiger's very closely, that's all I've seen from him. He loses them a lot of games and with the defense they have in front of him, he has to be able to step up and make some key saves.

Anonymous said...

I have confidence in Schneider. He hasn't been great lately but I believe that as the season progresses he will find his mojo and become a very solid goaltender for the playoff run. In regards to the defence I think we need to get a solid top 4 guy that can push some other guys down the depth chart. If they add that I believe a top 4 of Rubins, Kirichenko, Schultz and X would be solid.

longtimefan said...

I also have confidence in Schneider, as I stated above I think he is getting fatigued. He was probably their best player down the stretch last year and almost got the team into the playoffs.

This is a think offence first team right now and as a result they give up a lot of great scoring chances against. Take a look at the +/- of the top scorers on the team. The top three are a +3, +5 and +7. Considering they all at or near the 50 point mark those numbers aren't very good. If they are going to contend at all their team defence, not just goaltending is going to have to improve drastically.

Anonymous said...

I agree they need to do some defensive work. Bad plays in their end are costing them. They started out great against Kelowna last night... quick to gain possession in their zone and move it out. They started to falter after about twelve minutes and most of Kelowna's goals were due to preventable defensive lapses.

TigerTurf said...

I wouldn't mind a power forward type either, but they have to excel in their own zone. Someone to cement the 3rd line centre role. Hamblin is showing his skill, and anything but a championship team he fills that role easily.
I think this year the Tigers have soo much going for them.

2 centers on the top line. A strong faceoff winning 2nd line. 3 scoring lines, a strong goaltender. A PP quarterback. excellent PK and PP At least 1 bigger bodied guy on each line that can stand in front.

They only thing they can't do is withstand pressure from an attack. Momentum in junior hockey can and will shift, and when it does they need to be independent from their offense in their ability to whether the storm.

If they can grab 1-2 pieces and when they get rubins back, they should evolve from a pretty good team, to an elite top tier team. I'm praying for a very strong 2 way defenceman, that excels in taking care of his own end by breaking up cycles, and making a good first pass out of his zone. They need to push down that depth. I feel that if they don't get that guy it won't be enough to push them over the top.

Anonymous said...

John Dahlstrom was cut this morning. Sometimes things like this happening lights a fire under there them.

Anonymous said...

KWhat would Calgary want in return for Bean. He would be a great addition.

TigerTurf said...

I would love bean on the backend. Issue is that his value would be extremely high because of world junoirs and he is only 18. Next year outside chance of being plucked into nhl but any team that aquires him would have to pay for 2 seasons.

He would cost like a hamblin 1st and maybe something else like haden and that may not be enough.

longtimefan said...

Chad butcher suspended one game for his hit last night. Called a "hit to the head" on the ice which it wasn't. League changed it to charging and handed out the suspension. Frigging joke!

Anonymous said...

I think the Tigers need to flip Schultz to a new team to see if it works better for him, he's been awful this year and hasn't improved so why not give him a chance to spark his career in return for a bruiser defenseman. I think a defensive forward would be good but at that spot it's hard to find someone effective, I would give Seattle a hard look with Kolsear and have him and fisher as your dirty areas players that can stand in front.
Things I would do is salvage the future for Bean, he is in division ontop of just being an elite player so he will cost so much and with Regina and PG already as good as they are it's a lot to give up with still a hard playoff run to make and I think Regina could look at barzal. I also wouldn't trade for a goalie till off season. McGovern is 16 and pretty steady for that age in net and you know a signed Schneider is gone next year so why not trade for a 18 or 19 year old goalie next year and have a solid rotation and continue to develop McGovern.

All in all this is a crazy good team who should add some size for a playoff run as it's the only element they can't play and if any team can slow them down (I.e. Everett, Regina, Lethbridge) they can't play any style other than north/south. Would be nice to see a team like the memorial cup runs. They could out skate you all game and if you want ed to play physical they had the players to protect the talent.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Schnieder hasn't been in his prime recently but what can you do when your teammates decide to pass the puck to the other team right infront of the net? Butcher shouldn't be making mistakes like that. Time for Tigers to trade up.

Anonymous said...

Worst game I have seen in so long against Leth. No one played defence, we turned the puck over to Leth constantly including right in front of the net for the GWG. And Schneider barely flinched on so many of Leths goals. Did not look like we wanted to play tonight.

Anonymous said...

We should have played the Cubs tonight. Tigers were terrible!!! Goaltending was shocking.

Anonymous said...

Check your facts - Schultz has been one of the more consistent players this season. He's noticeably been more aggressive on the ice and has continued to increase his points earned over the past seasons with the tigers. I agree with tiger turf when it comes to the tigers offence having no defensive edge. Looking at the turn overs today, especially the one from Butcher right infront of our own net. You see players like Schultz on the ice with him obviously not able to react to such unpredictable mistakes. Schultz along with Kirichenko are undoubtedly huge defensive assets to the Tigers.

CatFan said...

I am very disappointed in Schneider the last few games. Yes the defence has sucked but he really should have made saves on half of the goals scored against him in the last 3 games. Sometimes your goalie has to win some games for you and when was the last time he has done that. I hate to say it but this team needs a shake-up. They have become too complacent and have won some games they probably didn't deserve and have gotten lazy.

TigerTurf said...

When their offense doesn't overpower they loose, because defensively as a team they are below average especially with rubins out.
Schneiders' confidence seems pretty low. He is better than what he's showing. He needs to battle through it. I know the Tigers just had a break but he looks mentally tired.
I like Schultz. He won't be the #1 stud everyone was hoping for, but he's a solid 2nd line defenceman.

Anonymous said...

I appreciated your analysis, Turf, but having watched the 9-7 mauling, you may have been too charitable on your generic defense run down... I hope the Tigers haven't peaked and are settling to average/mid-pack for the second half - but even with Quenneville's offensive skill, he remains a big liability overall. Tigerturfers should watch the opponents goal replays... About 1/2 the time they show Q out of position and curling around Schneider before heading to the bench. And aside from his bullet shot a few times per game, he doesn't display the speed or (even more importantly) effort to warrant 2nd line D. Radical thought - trade Q to a western or US conference team for a big, mobile d-man... The Tigers have enough O to do without him and he is likely valuable trade bait... I wish him no ill, but jeez!

Anonymous said...

Should have put McGovern in for the third...

longtimefan said...

Cat Fan you asked the question "when is the last time Schneider won a game for us" The answer is Wednesday against Calgary when he was named the first star. He wasn't great tonight, nor was Skinner but honestly he got hung out to dry by some awful defensive play multiple times. The team as a group has to be more responsible defensively and they need to upgrade the blueline. Rubins will certainly help but another solid player is needed.

Have to wonder if the league will review the Wong hit on Owre. Pretty similar to the hit that got Butcher suspended for a game.

Anonymous said...

I have watched 4 Tiger practices. They practice offense, offense and more offense. They practice the power play 5 on 4 and 5 on 3 (for offense). This is perhaps why they can move the puck in the offensive zone like there is no tomorrow but struggle in their own zone. I dont think they need to make a trade, I think they have to start teaching and practicing some defense.

CatFan said...

So what would we have to give up to get Jake Bean??

TigerTurf said...

11:05 anon

I think many people including me agree Q's defensive game isn't that great.
I think he looks bad when he isn't utilized effectively. He isn't in a position to succeed when he is on the ice in his own zone against an opponents top 6 forwards.

His powerful shot and quick windup is a very rare talent. He is also an elite powerplay QB. I think he is best used on the 3rd line, PP, 4v4, and select 2nd line spot duty in the O zone when the Tigers have momentum or need a goal.

His value would be very high in trade, a thought to put away until next season when he is 19.
In terms of peaking, IMO it's extremely rare to have the depth of 3 scoring lines, as well as a top PP, and PK.

The Tigers came back down to earth after Rubins was injured and off to the wjc.
What happens if that happens again with Kirichenko, Rubins, or even schneider in the playoffs?

It equals a year wasted on one potential freak injury.

I feel that with a #1 type Dman a Caleb Jones type player, I think they have a small edge over any team in the league. I feel that with their current roster, beyond round 2, and perhaps even round 2 is a 50-50 shot if everyone is healthy.

I feel that they are so close this season. They also have 2 extra 2nd round picks, and 1 extra 3rd round puck in 2018.

I am unsure if that is the direction they will take though.

Anonymous said...

Man people need to relax. We get treated the most exciting game of the year and all I hear is people complaining. Does the defence have problems, of course they do but if you guys didn't realize we dominated that game. Which clearly means that their defence was just as much of a problem as ours was.
I agree that Quenneville has defensive issues but this a guy who has provided us 20 goals this year from the backend. I think any team would gladly take a pp Qb who can shoot the puck like him.
In regards to Schultz, the people that complain about him are crazy. We have some week defenders who aren't even close to as good as Schultz is. I agree with TT that he isn't a top pairing guy but a very solid 2nd liner.
Schneider has had some rough games and needs to be better but it happens and down the road I could see him coming up big for us.

Anonymous said...

Schultz is playing extremely well. He is the top plus minus player on the team and I like how he jumps up in the play in the O zone. He isn't scoring but is getting his looks. I was a wasn't fond of Q for a time but he is what he is. The best O dman in the league and we are lucky to have him. My concern is with Schneider. For a signed player he needs to play way better game in and game out. Not counting the Butcher brain cramp goal, there were 2 others that Schneider looked like a fool on. The one off the faceoff the beat him blocker side. He wasn't even square to the faceoff at the drop of the puck. That has nothing to do with his mental game but totally to do with lack of effort. The other goal was one that beat him short side off a rebound of a shot that was just put on net and schneider got to the post too late. He was way to slow to get there. He is 29th in save % and like 15 in GAA. Who do we give credit to for our special teams play. Is it Fox or Frazer. Without special team play we might be fighting jus for a playoff spot. Watchout for Lethbridge, they have the horses and will be making a climb second half. Will we slide or remain in first by years end. Right now we would be lucky to win 2 rounds in the playoffs.

longtimefan said...

The problem I'm having with the defensive play is it's becoming the norm and not an occasional occurrence. Since December 1 they've played 12 games and given up 55 goals which is an average of more than 4.5 per game. There's no league that teams can get away with that and be successful.

Anonymous said...

Tigers have acquired 97 goalie Mike Bullion from Portland.

Anonymous said...

What about Forrest? If you are going to discuss d-men, he is one that is over his head in this league. Why doesn't McPhee play more? He is good for a big physical hit per game I've seen and is better defensively than Forrest and Gally.

Anonymous said...

Kind off topic...The Pats are loading up for what they hope is a long postseason... have heard they have acquired Adam Muslim. Trade can't be announced until he's back from the World Juniors.

TigerTurf said...

Their depth to start the season was very high.
They have traded 4 forwards and 2 defenceman away trying to create a 3rd scoring line, as well as balance their defenceman for next season.

My math says that they have no extra forwards up front, so that will likely change by the end of the trade deadline.

I imagine thwy might have some callups in their lineup when they visit tuesday

Anonymous said...

McGovern sent down to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings

Anonymous said...

Everett picked up Irving from Edmonton. Scary looking backend

Anonymous said...

Clouston is lucky to keep his job the way he has been taken by the pats in the Hobbs trade. Regina gave up 19 yr old Hunt and 20 year old Burroughs. We gave them Hobbs a second and third round bantam pick terrible.

Anonymous said...

Deal fell through from what I've heard. Pouteau was in the rumoured deal, and was traded to Lethbridge.