GM: Michael Banker (2nd GM in team’s history)
Coach: Joel Quenneville (formerly Glen Gulutzan)
Last season: 1st overall
Ins and Outs
(Season 4 to Season 5)
Out: Andrei Markov (free agent), Aleksey Morozov (trade), Kevin Dallman (trade), Nicolas Ehlers (trade), David Jones (free agent), Brandon Bochenski (waivers), Benoit Pouliot (waivers)
In: Ryan Suter (trade), Blake Wheeler (trade), John Mitchell (free agent), Adam McQuaid (free agent), Steve Bernier (free agent), Sam Godfrey (draft), Ryan Donato (draft), Matthias Bieber (free agent), Erik Andersson (free agent), Mike Brown (free agent), Jyrri Marttinen (free agent), Cale Tanaka (free agent)
(Key players signed past Season 5)
Anze Kopitar, C; Max Pacioretty, LW; Dustin Brown, RW; Brandon Sutter, C; Jaroslav Halak, G
1. Did Moscow need to make any off-season moves? Spartak won the President’s Trophy as the top team during the regular season, but they didn’t win it all last season. That is the goal this year. One would think a team like Moscow would not have to conduct too much of a make-over to be presentable for Season 5. Brush up a left wing here, straighten a right wing there … and voila, the belle of the ball, right? Not General Manager Mike Banker. He engineered three trades in which two starters were excised, let two other starters leave via free agency and signed on eight free agents. Ryan Suter was the main target of the trades. The defense now looks quite different. Last season it was Duncan Keith and Jason Garrison, followed by Andrei Markov and Kevin Dallman, and the Marc-Andre Bourdon and Anton Stralman. This year, the middle set of D-men, which underperformed in the playoffs, is gone. Now Keith gets to play with Suter to make one the league’s most enviable defense pairings. Garrison got demoted and Stralman got promoted and they have met in the middle to become the second pairing, and the third duo features underrated Bourdon and free agent signing Adam McQuaid. This year’s group should be collectively better at playing defense. They have exceptional hockey sense and experience and they have better defensive instincts. They won’t move the puck around the rink nearly as well as last year’s 6-man unit did, however.
2. What’s their weakness? We asked the same question a year ago in this spot and questioned coach Joel Quenneville and the Spartak penalty killing units, suggesting the PK was the weak link on the Moscow team. They responded by leading the league in penalty killing with a percentage of 86.4. Last year, Moscow was the most difficult team to score on with a goals against average of 2.34, a EURO record. If the new defense corps is indeed better defensively than last year’s, as stated above, then that 2.34 average should go even further down. Moscow didn’t come by its record defensive numbers by playing Katy bar the door, though. Spartak also led the league in shots per game with 35.01 per contest. So why didn’t they win it all? What can they do to make sure they do this time? The simple solution would be to buy Dublin’s Brian Elliott, the goalie who swept them out of the playoffs when he was with Copenhagen. They should also make it illegal for Dustin Brown to be injured during the playoffs. That problem also hurt them.
3. Who drives the offense? Moscow has three good lines and a brand new fourth line whose job will be to just not get scored on while giving the top lines a rest. Dustin Brown was a vicious monster last season and he set an example the remainder of forwards just found themselves following. He had the best season of his career with 86 points, 340 shots, 100 hits, 125 takeaways and a +23 rating. Having Anze Kopitar (93 points) on the line didn’t hurt and the two will be paired again this year with Max Pacioretty on the left side. It doesn’t get any easier as you work your way down the depth chart. Captain Andrew Ladd, Brandon Sutter and trade-acquisition Blake Wheeler will make up the second line; while Alexei Kalyuzhny (+15) centers the third line with Kris Versteeg and Jannik Hansen on his wings. Without Markov and Dallman throwing pucks up to them this year, point production could stagnate, but as a unit, the forwards are good defensively, giving Moscow goalies Jaroslav Halak and Alexander Salak tremendous team defense in front of them.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 4 1 113 18.6 86.4 35.01 27.01 3.44 2.34 8.62
Season 3 4 (cup) 106 20.9 80.4 32.61 29.48 3.56 3.15 9.45
Season 2 5 101 18.4 83.4 32.62 28.21 3.38 2.8 11.21
Season 1 18 77 15.9 81.1 31.00 29.88 3.10 3.20 8.48
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Anze Kopitar, C, current age 28. Games played 311; Points 353,+7
Season 2: Alexander Salak, G, age 24. GP 34, Save Pct. 91.2
Season 3: Darnell Nurse, D, age 20
Season 4: Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, age 19
Season 5: Sam Godfrey, D, age 24.
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Round Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan to Dublin for Alxeander Ovechkin and 2014 Round 1 pick (used to draft Darnell Nurse)
Traded Alexander Ovechkin and Dave Bolland to Copenhagen for Andrew Ladd, Brandon Sutter and Kevin Dallman
*Three trades missing from this period. Tomas Kaberle seems to have been traded in one of them.
Traded James Van Riemsdyk and Marcus Johansson to Stockholm for Dustin Brown
Traded 2015 Round 1 pick to Berlin for Kris Versteeg
Traded Darnell Nurse, 2016 Round 1 pick (traded later to Copenhagen and then Bratislava – Morten Madsen) and 2017 Round 1 pick to Frankfurt for Max Pacioretty
Traded Nicolas Ehlers to Helsinki for 2016 Round 1 pick (later traded to Gothenberg)
Traded Kevin Dallman and 2016 Round 1 pick (formerly Helsinki’s – Olli Palola) to Gothenberg for Ryan Suter and Blake Wheeler
Traded Aleksey Morozov to Gothenburg for 2018 Round 3 pick
After Season 5 started
Signed Rich Peverley (free agent)
Traded Alexei Kalyuzhny to Lisbon for a 2017 Round 3 pick