Season 5 profile: Bratislava Eagles

ProfileAd Bratislava GM: Chuck Massaro (only GM in team’s history) Coach: Brent Sutter (replaced Bruce Boudreau after Season 3) Last season: 11th overall

Ins and Outs

(Season 4 to Season 5)

Out: Zdeno Chara (retired), Craig Anderson (free agent), Kyle Brodziak (free agent), Tomas Kopecky (free agent), James Wright (buyout)

In: Marc-Andre Fleury (free agent), Troy Brouwer (trade), Chris Kunitz (trade), Matt Frattin (trade), Morten Madsen (draft), Kristian Kuusela (draft), Diego Kostner (draft), Evgeny Solomonov (draft), Juraj Valach (free agent), Siim Liivik (free agent), Mark Garside (free agent)

In Place

(Key players signed past Season 5) Jonathan Toews, C; Tyler Myers, D; Tyler Ennis, LW; Marc-Andre Fleury, G; Milan Gulas, C 3qs

Three Questions

1. How much will Bratislava miss Chara? The only captain Bratislava ever had, the hometown hero, Zdeno Chara retired after Season 4 and General Manager Chuck Massaro didn’t see it coming. Chara’s play had gone downhill in recent years, but in Season 4 he had a career-best 95 blocks, as well as an impressive 240 hits and 113 shots on goal. He was also third among all EURO defensemen with a plus-minus rating of +39. His numbers didn’t scream that retirement was the next step. Chara and Paul Martin had been reliable pillars on the Eagles defense for four years and when Chara retired, Martin decided to test the free agent market, dealing a second gut shot to the Eagles. Bratislava rushed the development plan for its younger defensemen and Michael Stone and Patrick Wiercoch were declared starters. Then Martin could’t find another employer and the veteran returned to Bratislava for much less money than the $5 million he earned the previous four seasons. The end result is that the Bratislava defense corps is unsettled. Tyler Myers had a breakout year last season and scored more goals than any defenseman in the league, and he will be the team’s best defenseman for sure. Chara’s leadership and experience will be hard to replace but Coach Brent Sutter is going to give Jonathan Toews the chance to show what kind of captain he can be.

2. Is Fleury the answer to the goaltending question? Bratislava fans and management always felt their goaltending left a lot to be desired. Craig Anderson was alright in that position for three seasons, but he never reached a high gear. A year ago, Corey Crawford landed in the Slovakian city as a free agent and optimism ran high. But he was only marginally better than Anderson. This year, confidence in the crease is higher than it’s ever been in Bratislava after former London Don Marc-Andre Fleury agreed to a two-year deal. “Flower” is 31 and only has 5 games of playoff hockey in his past. But he has twice had save percentages over 90 and his worst save percentage was 89.1, which is still higher than Crawford’s best year.

3. They were really the third-highest scoring team? Yes, only Paris and Edinburgh scored more goals than the Eagles did last year, which came as a surprise to many, including Massaro. Tyler Ennis led the team in goals and he only had 37. Bratislava had good secondary – and tertiary – scoring. Thirteen players reached double figures in goals and Lauri Korpokoski would have made it 14 had he been claimed off waivers any earlier. He scored 9 goals in just 26 games played. Coach Sutter has done something predecessor Bruce Boudreau never really did with Bratislava: he has settled on forward lines. Ennis, Toews and Marian Hossa make up the no-brainer top line with newly acquired Troy Brouwer joining big bodies Wei Yang Zhang and Martin Hanzal on the beefy second line. Korpikoski, Milan Gulas and Andreas Jamtin had tremendous chemistry last season and Bratislava fans hope the months off didn’t spoil that, and the fourth line features Frans Nielsen centering rookie Tyler Toffoli and either former minor leaguer Luke Adam or veteran Chris Kunitz.

History

Season                 Place        PTS        PP %      PK %      SPG        SAPG     GPG     GAPG    PIM

Season 4              11          93         17.3         77.1       33.94     27.01     3.71        3.50                11.93

Season 3              11          91          15.4        83.8        30.82     26.94     3.51        3.35                11.12

Season 2              6          101         18.3        82.7        31.43     26.76     3.57        3.28                11.67

Season 1              8          95          16.4        81.0        30.17     29.01     3.45        3.22                9.22

Top Draft picks

Season 1: Jonathan Toews, C, current age 27. Games played: 307; points: 369; +72

Season 2: Milan Gulas, C, age 27. GP 237, Pts 110, +51

Season 3: Michael Stone, D, age 24. GP 9, Pts 2, -1

Season 4: Zemgus Girgensens, C, age 20.

Season 5: Morten Madsen, C, age 22.

Trade History

Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)

Traded Round 5 pick (used to draft Kimo Timonen) to Bern for Round 8 pick (Martin Erat) 2013 Round 1 (Weiyang Zhang) and 2013 Round 2 pick (Leonardo Genoni)

Traded Round 8 pick (David Desharnais) and Round 19 pick (Greg Zanon) to Geneva for Round 17 pick (Tomas Kopecky) and 2014 Round 1 pick (Michael Stone)

Traded 2013 Round 2 pick (Oleg Podyedonostsev) to Milan for Round 20 pick (David Steckel)

Traded David Steckel to Edinburgh for Round 21 pick (David Moss)

Season 2

Traded Lee Stempniak and 2014 Rd 3 (Steve Olesky) to Paris for Philip Larsen

Season 4

Traded 2016 Round 1 pick (Bud Holloway) to Geneva for Chris Kunitz and 2016 Round 1 pick (later traded to Copenhagen – Simon Hjalmarsson)

Traded 2016 Round 1 pick (Simon Hjalmarsson) to Copenhagen for Matt Frattin and 2016 Round 1 pick (Morten Madsen)

Traded 2017 Round 3 pick to Belfast for 2016 Round 3 pick (Evgeny Solomonov)

Traded 2017 Round 2 pick to Copenhagen for Troy Brouwer

After Season 5 started

Signed Marek Daloga (free agent)

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