GM: Dennis Sullo (4th GM in team’s history)
Coach: Paul MacLean
Last season: 15th overall
Ins and Outs (Season 3 to Season 4)
Out: Brian Elliott (trade)
In: Roberto Luongo (trade), Tomas Tatar (draft), Mark Bartkowski (draft), Jeff Zatkoff (draft)
In Place (Key players signed past Season 4)
Patrice Bergeron, C; Roberto Luongo, G; Alexander Radulov, RW; Ilya Kovalchuk, LW; Patrick Sharp, RW
1. Can the power play improve? It is surprising that with the amazing talent Zurich has up front, the Lions power play ranked only 19th in the league last season. Defenseman Joni Pitkanen mans one of the points on the top unit and he has finesse and is cool under pressure, but if improving the PP efficiency is a concern, coach Paul MacLean might try a different power play strategy or he might give young speedster Tyson Barrie a look-see there. Substituting the forwards would seem folly because Zurich boasts one of the best top 6 forward lineups in the league, perhaps the very best, in Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron, Alexander Radulov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrick Sharp and Drew Stafford.
2. Can Luongo lift the Lions? The Lions found they could not live on offense alone and made a trade with Copenhagen to bring Roberto Luongo to Switzerland at about $1.3 million more than they were paying Brian Elliott, their goalie since Day 1. Luongo is 35, which is 6 years older than Elliott, but he is also technically superior and has better endurance. Luongo was able to regularly get Copenhagen deeper into the playoffs than Zurich has ever been. More playoff hockey is what Lou was brought to town for and the pressure will be on him to deliver.
3. What free agents will they try for? GM Dennis Sullo has plenty of options on the roster and should be about $5 million under the salary cap right now with three unrestricted free agents to worry about. It appears Jiri Hudler is expendable, but two Finns have contributed greatly to the team in the past and both could get good offers this week. Jussi Jokinen scored 34 goals and 71 points in just 15 minutes of ice time on average for Zurich in Season 2 after a year of playing in Paris. He is skilled and is in great shape and he at one time was renowned for his ability to score on shootout attempts. Pitkanen is the only experienced blueliner on Zurich’s roster classified as an offensive defenseman. (Update: Jokinen resigned with the team Monday. Pitkanen did not).
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 3 15 85 15.8 81.3 31.13 29.44 3.52 3.54 11.99
Season 2 8 97 17.7 83.1 30.04 28.27 3.26 2.91 11.27
Season 1 22 58 17.1 81.9 28.72 31.37 2.83 3.88 10.55
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Patrice Bergeron, C, currently age 29. GP 241, Pts 270, -34
Season 2: Alexander Radulov, RW, age 22. GP 152, Pts 127, +29
Season 3: Tyson Barrie, D, age 22.
Season 4: Tomas Tatar, LW, age 23
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Brad Richards to St. Petersburg for Patrick Kane
Obtained Tomas Kaberle, who had been with Moscow, but not sure if it was a trade or free agent signing
Traded Brian Elliott to Copenhagen for Roberto Luongo