• Accuscore Olympic Ice Hockey 2018 Preview & Prediction

    Winter Olympics 2018 - Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

    The Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea are well on their way and men’s ice hockey starts rolling today. With no NHL players involved, and bunch of Russian athletes banned, it will be an intriguing tournament mostly with players earning their pay in European leagues.

    Participating countries include the usual big six Canada, Olympic athletes from Russia, Sweden, USA, Finland and Czech Republic, who are once again the favorites even without their NHL players. The challengers Switzerland, Germany, Slovakia and Norway are perhaps lacking international big names, but have gathered their teams from mostly domestic league players who know each other well. The dozen is completed by Slovenia, who are unlikely to pose any challenge this time around and hosts South Korea, with a team including only players from Asian leagues and hence definite pushovers.

    The tournament format has been widely criticized but at least it emphasizes participation in Olympic spirit. The 12 teams are divided into three groups, within which four teams play once against each other. The winners of the group and the best no.2 head straight to top-8, while the rest play a knockout round for the four remaining spots. While the system is fair and guarantees at least four games to each team, the group stage games are, in fact, pointless since all of the teams head to playoffs anyway.

    Accuscore’s simulations on Olympic Ice Hockey tournament are based on team and player statistics from past national tournaments and adjusted player statistics from different national leagues. While the science is complex as comparison between the leagues is all but straightforward, the simulations are quite close to those predictions set by the betting companies. However, there are a couple of surprises as always! Here’s how Accuscore’s simulations predict the Olympic Ice Hockey 2018 tournament to go:

    Accuscore's Olympic Ice Hockey 2018 Preview & Prediction

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    Expert Analysis

    As previously stated the table is set for the big ice hockey nations to take advantage of their excellent depth in competitive European leagues. It’s no surprise that Canada and the Olympic athletes from Russia are likely to take their groups by storm. While Canada has often trusted NHL-players in World Championships, their European quality has increased significantly as of late. Russia, playing without national banners, have a well gelled team with players only from three top clubs in KHL and featuring such names as Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vadim Shipachyov. Sweden’s player production to NHL has been out of this planet lately, so no surprise they’ve massive amount of quality in Europe as well. While the Finnish team seems a bit dull from the edges, they’ve proved to be always competitive in international level and have great depth which might come in handy with extremely tight schedule. Czech Republic and USA have quite similar teams, with quality on top but probably little bit lacking in depth – same goes with Switzerland, icing a squad solely from their domestic league, which arguably still pales in comparison to Swedish and Russian (Kontinental Hockey League) leagues.

    Surprises in the simulations come from lower in the tables. While Germany’s domestic league DEL is competitive, it’s still mostly because of foreign players. Their loss to Norway – in overtime – is still a shocker, since Norwegians come mostly from not-so-great domestic league. The difference is tiny, though and Germany then goes on to beat Switzerland in the playoffs, if only after overtime. As predicted by many, South Korea joins in only for show and Slovenia can’t do much better. Slovakiais competitive at first, but can’t match USA in group stages and then run out of gas against the surprisingly feisty team Norway in the playoffs.

    Quarterfinals are not likely to provide any shockers and the top four is as quite normal. In the semifinal, though the Russian team surprisingly stumble to the Swedes who then head to even matched final with Canada. Their encounter is – once again – close to a coin toss, but Canadians eventually prevail. In bronze game Russian’s overcome the Finns by small margin and make history by winning the first ice hockey medal for fabricated “Olympic athletes from Russia” team.

  • Accuscore's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship 2019 - Knockout Stage

    The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships 2019 have reached the playoff-stage after two intense weeks of preliminary round hockey. In our pre-tournament prediction we had the correct eight teams to progress to the knockout-stage, albeit it was not that difficult pick this time around.

    First time since forever, however, the newly promoted teams did not head straight back down. Both Italy and Great Britain managed to beat their counterparts in the final game of the preliminary round and sent down Austria and France respectively. That was the biggest surprise of the World Championship hockey so far.

    In the quarterfinals we see some huge matchups already. Russia is facing their lifelong nemesis USA, while Finland takes on their neighboring Sweden. Canada will face Switzerland and last but not least, Czech Republic will battle it out against Germany.

    Russia won each and every one of their seven preliminary round games without much trouble and is the only team to do so in this year’s tournament. They scored 37 goals and only allowed seven. In the last group stage game they beat the reigning double-champion Sweden, boasting a hefty 21 NHL-players, by a score of 7-4. Needless to say the Russians are clear favorites to take the trophy home.

    In the other group, Canada captured the 1st spot despite losing to Finland in the opening affair. Gradually improving, Team Canada only allowed one goal in their final three games and recorded a 36-11 goal difference in seven games. Canada is, as always, serious contenders for the trophy.

    Czech Republic and Finland took the 2nd place in their respective groups – a feat not expected from either of the teams. Both teams were solid in the back, while the Czechs scored 39 goals as compared to Finland’s 22. Czechs lost to Russia and Finland suffered an overtime loss to USA and were dumbfounded 2-4 by the relentless Germany in the last game of the preliminary round, costing them the top spot.

    Sweden fell to third in their group after a loss to Czech Republic and a disastrous display to leaders Russia, where they lost the second period 6-0. However, the Swedish team is close to as strong as ever, with NHL players filling the roster. The best is yet to be seen from the Swedes and on paper the team is as good as Russia and Canada.

    While Switzerland showed some entertaining ice hockey throughout the tournament, their effort in the end left some questions in the air. They took narrow losses from all the top-3 teams of the group and were left fourth once again. There’s talent and speed in the team, but will it be enough to take down the likes of Canada? Probably not.

    Same goes for Germany, who made a magnificent comeback against the hosting Slovakia to oust them from the knockout-spot and then went on to beat Finland to climb over USA to 3rd spot - and dropping the Finns from the top of the group. Germany has a strong and relentless team, headlined by NHL’ers Leon Draisaitl and goalie Philipp Grubauer. They already surprised many in the Olympics and have nothing to lose once again.

    With not too many surprises so far, it looks like the quarterfinals might have some – especially compared to the oddsmakers views. Here’s how Accuscore’s simulation engine predicts the probabilities until the very end of the tournament:

    Accuscore's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship 2019 Knockout Stage

    Championship Odds

    Even if Russia is the team to win it all according to Accuscore’s simulated bracket, the tournament format allows Canada to be the actual favorites to take the trophy! Canada has a lot easier opponent in the first and the second game in the knockout stages, as they face Switzerland and then potentially Czech Republic. Russia will have their work cut out for them already against USA, not to mention Sweden in the semi-final. They are, however, likely to beat Canada if only by a slim margin.


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  • Accuscore's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships 2018

    The ice hockey world championship tournament starts on Friday in Denmark. The best 16 nations in the world are divided to two groups of eight in the hunt for World Championship 2018. Tournament mode is simple: the teams play one game against each other within the groups and four best teams of each group advance to quarter final stage. In the playoff-stage it’s do or die: win to advance, lose to go home, best of one game.

    Accuscore has been extremely profitable in the past international ice hockey tournaments. For the Olympic Games 2018 the overall profit with 100 unit even stake for all the side value bets was a massive +1470 after all 30 games played. Last year in the World Championships, Accuscore made a solid profit of +1016 out of 64 games played. Needless to say, it’s only likely to get better this time around!

    The Olympic year usually means the quality of the players for the following World Championship tournament is not exactly top notch. This year makes an exception though, because the NHL didn’t participate in the Olympics and also the Russians had some involuntary and voluntary exclusions to their team. It looks like there’s more quality in each and every roster compared to many previous years.

    Accuscore Analysis

    As usual, Accuscore has analysed each and every game of the tournament beforehand to determine the outcome of 2018 IIHF World Championships. The previews and predictions to all the games can be found from Accuscore.com for the subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, JOIN NOW for limited time offer of -25% all the memberships with a code NHL25!

    It is not a surprise that the setup for the tournament is as usual: there’s Canada, Russia and Sweden, followed by Finland, USA and the Czechs. The others play a supporting role, causing an upset here and there (Germany in the Olympics, anyone?) but in the long run the big guns are the big guns. This year doesn’t make a big exception, but there could be a couple of interesting changes in the status quo this time around. Here’s how the simulations determine the group stage to finish up:

    Accuscore's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships 2018 Group Stage Predictions


    The top dogs

    No, Canada is not going to lose. According to Accuscore simulations, Canada is unbeatable in the tournament. This can be explained by just peeking at the roster they ice in Denmark. Led by Conor McDavid, the team is full of talent, speed and especially hunger after short NHL season. The only questionable part is the goaltending, but with such talent all over the ice it doesn’t really matter, does it? The Canadians are by far the biggest favorites to win the World Championship, after losing in the final last year to the Swedes, with a hefty 43% probability.

    After taking the Olympic gold with “the Olympic Athletes from Russia”, the current team Russia’s roster might look less impressive – a dangerous misconception. Even if the biggest names like Kovalchuk and Radulov might be absent, the Russian team is full of younger and perhaps even better talent. Already making their name in the Olympic stage, Kirill Kaprizov and Nikita Gusev are back, with addition of NHL household names like Evgeni Dadonov, Artem Anisimov and defender Nikita Zaitsev. And Pavel Datsyuk is back. The Russians will challenge once again and are 17.5% probable to win the World Championship, according to the simulations.

    The reigning champions Sweden have once again managed to attract a plethora of top-notch NHL players to join the ranks in World Champs. Especially the defence is loaded with star players and there’s no question which team boasts the best defensive core in the tournament - Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Adam Larsson and John Klingberg are just the tip of the iceberg. Their goaltending is not that good though, but again, it doesn’t matter with that rock-solid defense. Up front Sweden is perhaps lacking the absolute star power quality, but Rickard Rakell and teenage sensation in Sweden, Elias Petterson have enough to be clutch when needed. The quality down the line is excellent and there are no weak links anywhere in the offense either. The Swedes challenge Russians for the second place even keel, with almost precisely same percentages: Accuscore simulations give Sweden a 17% probability to repeat their last year’s feat.

    Back in the day the Americans came to Europe after the NHL season to have fun and see the sights. Not so much anymore. The hungry youngsters have come through the national team system and are in the games for real. Team USA is filled with young talent and led by such names as Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreu. The big ice in Denmark offers some space for fast and furious Americans and this team has to be taken seriously – is it even possible to stop them if they find their stride? Once again, it’s a young and inexperienced team for the most part, but usually it has only meant good things for Team USA. In Accuscore simulations, they are quite far behind the top trio but hanging right there to go for the jugular when the time comes. In Accuscore simulations, team USA will be hoisting the trophy with 8.9% probability.

    Finland has been the biggest disappointment in the past couple of international tournaments, with not much to show for against the top teams. This time around it’s bound to change. Their roster is massively better than in the Olympics, with many of the top players joining in from the NHL. Usually the weakness of Finnish team, the offensive production, is now taken care of by Carolina’s super-duo Teuvo Teräväinen and Sebastian Aho, as well as Mikael Granlund and on-fire Mikko Rantanen. It’s rare to see such talent in the Finns offensive lineup and with additions from European top level players their offense competes that of the other top teams. Alas, the defense and goaltending is not even close to that standard this time around. Not in European level and definitely not in NHL level. Their D is young and inexperienced, albeit potential and skilful with the puck – It remains to be seen if it’s a threat or an opportunity. The goalkeepers have done a good job in AHL, but not much else. In Accuscore simulations, team Finland has the potential to upset the top three, but are still underdogs even against US. Their probability to win the World Championship is 8.8%.

    Outsiders with a hunch

    The team usually counted into the “big six” of the international ice hockey, Czech Republic is now crudely left outside the contenders’ booth. Reason is that they simply don’t have the roster to match the strength of the other big boys. Consisting mostly of European players and perhaps not even the top level at that, Czech Republic gives too much leeway to their biggest competitors. They do have a fantastic goalkeeper in Pavel Francouz and interesting players such as Martin Necas, but the overall quality somewhat lacks behind. They do have the potential to mix it up though and with a bit of overachievement can beat any of the teams. Accuscore’s simulations indicate a mere 3% probability for the Czech to win the World Championship.

    Germany and Switzerland are the closest challengers after the big six, but despite the Germans magnificent run all the way to the finals in the Olympics, the quality of the other teams is now from a different planet. Germany got Leon Draisaitl and Denis Seidenberg to boost their roster, but overall might be worse team than in the Olympics. Switzerland features NHL players Nino Niederreiter, MIrco Muller and Sven Andrighetto but it has not helped before and is not likely to do much now – the overall level of the national team players is still behind. In Accuscore simulations, Germany and Switzerland both have approximately 0.5% probability to win the World Championship.

    Also rans

    Everyone is definitely rooting for the hosts Denmark. They have a good thing going for the ice hockey and the fans are, well, fantastic. The home games have attracted NHL players to join, with Frans Nielsen and goalkeeper Fredrik Andersen providing a top-notch duo. They also have a string of good European level players, but the level declines sharply after that. The Danes could compete if the game was played with one line, but since it’s not, even the fanatic home crowd can’t help the redshirts further than group stage. Denmark has meagre 0.2% probability to win the World Champs on their home ice.

    France, Latvia and Slovakia should be safe from the relegation battle, but stand absolutely no chance in contest for the playoff spots. Unless one of the better teams has a disastrous tournament, it is seven games and go for golf. By far the worst teams this year are Norway, Belarus, Austria and South Korea. Norway has had some decent teams in the past, but now they are entirely dependable on other teams being even worse. Same goes with Belarus, whose decline has been fast after a handful of quality players are out and their imports getting older. Their luck could be that Austria and South Korea are simply worse, with not much to mention in international level.

  • Accuscore's Winter Olympics Ice Hockey - Playoff predictions

    2018 Winter Olympics Ice Hockey – Playoffs

    The round robin of Olympic Ice Hockey tournament has run its course and the seeding for the playoffs is complete. All the 12 teams continue their tournament, with the winners and the best 2nd of groups progressing straight to semifinal phase. The certain top-8 teams include no surprises, as Canada, Russia, Sweden and Czech Republic gained the advantage of one extra day of rest and one less opponent to plow through.

    Accuscore’s simulations for the group stage of Olympic Ice Hockey tournament predicted the 2/3 group winners correctly, with Czech Republic overcoming Canada in overtime the only miss. Slovenia was the black horse of the group stage this time, rising up to the second place in their group by beating USA in overtime and Slovakia in the shootout. Group B was the most evenly played as the winners Olympic Atheletes from Russia took 6 points, while all other teams ended up with four each.

    In betting predictions, Accuscore’s simulations made a hefty side value profit from the first 18 games. Side value predictions went 13-5 and a profit of +1689 with even 100 stake on each pick.You can find the whole archive of Olympic Ice Hockey tournament HERE (IIHF_ARCHIVE.xls)

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    The playoff games are played tomorrow, Tuesday the 20th February and the semifinals already on Wednesday. The bracket is pre-set so that we can already simulate the tournament until the end and see how it’s most likely to turn out. All the games are simulated 10 000 times and the winner is determined by the average percentage of wins. Here’s how the tournament plays out according to Accuscore simulations:

    Accuscore's prediction for 2018 Winter Olympics Ice Hockey Tournament playoffs stage

    Expert Analysis

    The first playoff round seems wide open except for Finland almost certain winners against South Korea. However well the hosts have played considering their level, the first game that really matters in this tournament will prove Finland way too good.

    The other pairings are much more evenly matched. USAalready beat Slovakia in the group stage, albeit with slimmest of margins, 2-1. Team USA is likely to improve when the stages get higher, while Slovakia has already proven their quality by opening the tournament with a shocking win over OAR. There’s not much room for improvement for Slovakians though and it’s likely that USA will prove too tough the second time around as well.

    The Swiss took a beating from Canada, but then ran over Korea and put up a good fight against the Czech, only being down by a goal heading to the final minutes. Their opponents Germany have been unimpressive in their losses to Sweden and Finland, but managed to climb past Norway after the shootout. With their individual skill, the Swiss are more likely to score one more goal than the Germans.

    Slovenia has shown some remarkable grit after beating USA in overtime to open the tournament. While they did take a beating from OAR, Slovenia imminently bounced back to beat Slovakia in a shootout. Their opponent Norway has not been so lucky, despite hanging on for a while against superior Sweden and Finland. It’s an all-in game for both and according to simulations Norway – especially their top line – still has some room for improvement. Surprisingly Norway is the more likely team to progress.

    Further down the line it’s a rather unsurprising tournament according to simulations. The big nations are still on top, with Czech Republic adding to trio of Canada, OAR and Sweden. Finland and USA are the biggest challengers – as usual – but seem to run out of gas after playing one extra game before the semifinals. The Canadians were upset by Czech Republic in the group stage but still have the edge over any other nation. The difference between the top-4 teams is quite small and can still change as the tournament progresses.

    So far the most likely winner is Canada, with OAR hot on their tail. Sweden and Czech Republic are likely to decide the bronze medal, while Finland and USA are considered challengers. The likelihood of any other team making the top-4 are next to non-existent.

  • Accuscore’s NHL 2018/2019 Season Preview and Predictions

    The winter is coming and so is the brand new NHL season. We’re looking at another 1271 regular season games, starting from tonight and lasting until early April 2019. There’s been some major movements in the league, but the strong teams are still strong and the weak are still weak – or are they?

    The summer was riddled with big name transactions, as John Tavares finally quit New York and headed back home to Toronto. Ottawa’s turmoil continued as arguably the best defender in the league, Erik Karlsson has left the Canadian capital for what can only be described as a ridiculous return from San Jose Sharks.

    Last season finally saw Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup – and it’s been a summer of celebration for the Caps fans and players alike, as we’ve witnessed through various channels over the internet. Will the Capitals recover from the hangover to challenge once again?

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    With the training camps over and rosters set for the opening night, Accuscore’s supercomputer has worked its magic once again and pre-determined the outcome of the NHL regular season 2018/2019 by simulating each and every game for 10 000 times.

    This is how the regular season standings are most likely to look after it’s all done and dusted on April 6th 2019:

    Accuscore NHL 2018/2019 Season Forecast

    Accuscore’s Regular Season Outright Total Picks

    In the Western Conference there’re not a lot of surprises. According to the simulations, both Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames manage to gather three more wins than the Vegas line would suggest. The line is rather high for the Jets at 106.5, but considering they already posted 114 points last season, it’s worth a shot. Flames on the other hand missed playoffs last season with a meager 84 points, but they’re a stronger group this time around and likely to make the playoffs. The line of 93.5 means that if they’re in the battle for the playoffs, it should be a piece of cake.

    The other end of the table sees Colorado Avalanche collapsing again far out of the playoff position. There are several question marks over the team, especially depth-wise but their young core might also surprise. Even if Accuscore’s numbers indicate they only reach 79 points, the line of 90.5 is a tad too low to go for the under – in case they are able to hang in for the playoff battle, there could be some moves to further enhance their chances.

    In the Eastern Conference the top looks very familiar and the bottom is quite as expected as well. Tampa Bay ended up with 113 points last season, and they’re not any less convincing this time around. Gathering more points than last season from their weakened Eastern Conference bottom feeders should not be a problem and the line of 107.5 points seems reachable. At the other end of the queue, there’s New Jersey Devils who are in a somewhat problematic rebuilding phase. Superstar Tayler Hall is likely to win a couple of games for his team, but otherwise the young core is unlikely to be able to push for playoffs and the line of 91.5 is a tad high. To add insult to injury, no.1 goalkeeper Cory Schneider is out for indefinite amount of time to start the season. Sorry Devils, this is not your season yet.

    Western Conference Picks

    Winnipeg Jets 106.5 points: OVER

    Calgary Flames 93.5 points: OVER


    Eastern Conference Picks

    Tampa Bay Lightning 107.5 points: OVER

    New Jersey Devils 91.5 points: UNDER

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  • NHL Free Agency 2017: Winners & Losers

    Written by AccuScore Staff
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    NHL Free Agency 2017

    NHL free agency is not match with a free spending in NBA, but there has been interesting developments with trades, expansion draft, entry draft, re-signs and free agent signings during last few weeks. Accuscore uses its own player analytics to evaluate winners and losers since start of June. As this advanced player analytics cover only NHL players, we don’t take into consideration entry draft impacts.

    Las Vegas Golden Knights starts first season in NHL. As there is no historical record of the team, we have excluded them from this analysis. However, all players that have departed from other teams during expansion draft, impact in their last season teams.

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    The table below shows top teams that have improved most during last weeks. This includes also their current players that they have re-signed during this period.

    NHL Free Agency winners

    As goalies are the most important single players in every team, those changes are clearly part of many top teams transactions. Anaheim signed one of the top goaltenders, Ryan Miller that is greatly improving their position when looking purely numbers. Re-signatures of Patrick Eaves and Cam Fowler are other remarkable transactions to raise Ducks to top of our list.

    Montreal made one move that reflects here above anything else. Carey Price extended his stay in Montreal with 8-years contract. Without this, Montreal’s combined rating would be -1.78 and considered not so great result of first days of free agency.

    Carolina and San Jose are on the list mainly due to many core players’ new contracts. Carolina added Justin Williams and Trevor van Riemsdyk which will improve team at least for the next season. San Jose couldn’t keep Patrick Marleau, but all other key members stay with the team.

    Dallas has been splashing over 11 millions of the next season’s cap hit to jumpstart the offense that was not able to keep up with the pace year ago. Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal would provide needed boost for Stars. Dallas is basically improved most when we concentrate only on free agent signings.

    Winnipeg and Tampa Bay are in top10 only due to contracts of goalies - Steven Mason and Peter Budaj respectively. Without those additions, that many don’t consider great goalies, these teams combined rating would hover around zero.

    Toronto has done reasonably good job since end of the season. They have acquired players that are all above “threshold” player. This “threshold” player is generally player that can be signed from free agent pool during the season. Sounds trivial that you would sign better players during off-season, but that hasn’t happen for many teams.

    Another team that has done good job is New Jersey. With the re-signed goalie Keith Kincaid and recent trade of Marcus Johansson, they can expect much better result from the upcoming season than we have seen during last season when Devils have been in the basement of their division.


    As the free agency is at the end more or less zero sum game, there must be some teams that have not improved, but regressed when we are looking for advanced player analytics from the last season.

    NHL Free Agency Losers

    Minnesota is doing partial house cleaning after quick exit from the playoffs first round. Even though they recorded best regular season results in franchise’s history, there are notable core players that have been traded or let to go during last weeks. Moreover, the nucleus of the team is still in place and the expectation is that this team will fight in the playoffs during upcoming season as well.

    Florida’ season was a disappointment already in regular season. The biggest setback for them is the departure of young center Jonathan Marchessault who was their best player (except goalies) during the last season according to Accuscore’s advanced player analytics. Thomas Vanek and Jaromir Jagr will be missed from Panthers offense in the next season as well.

    In Chicago there has been some departures of relatively good players, but only the return of Brandon Saad from Columbus can be considered as an improvement. As Chicago has been Stanley Cup contender year after year, this small regression during last weeks won’t have big impact to the next season’s target. That would be bringing Stanley Cup back to the windy city.

    Arizona’s number is impacted by the departure of the goalie Mike Smith. They have added only one player that can be consider below “threshold” player and by that they actually have improved their team. It would be interesting to see how well one of the best backup goalie Antti Raanta will do in the desert.

    Columbus added russian magician Artemi Panarin from Chicago, but that won’t cover all departed core offensive players. Saad, Hartnell and Gagner will be missed in Columbus. Especially if team is not repeating the great run of the dark months of the regular season like they did this year.

    Nashville and Pittsburgh seem to have normal traffic of the team that has been fighting in Stanley Cup finals. Both teams lost good players in expansion draft, but returning to finals next season won’t be any surprise for these teams.

    Colorado has been quiet during free agency. That is a bit surprise for a team that won only 22 games during last season and hasn’t won playoffs series in 10 years. Signing Nail Yakupov is not answer for the future. As the free agency continues, some teams may improve their positions before the start of the season. Also development of the young players and top draft picks will influence on teams that are relying more on junior scouting and drafting than improving the team through free agency.

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