GM: Marcel Kuchta (2nd GM in team’s history)
Coach John Tortorella
Last season: 7th overall, (lost to Bratislava in Round 1)
Ins and Outs (Season 5 to Season 6)
Out: David Backes (trade), Dustin Byfuglien (free agent), Cam Ward (free agent), Kyle Palmieri (trade), Chris Phillips (retired), Tim Gleason (free agent), Michael Ryder (free agent), Theo Peckham (free agent)
In: Andrew Ladd (trade), Jaroslav Halak (trade), Brandon Sutter (trade), Trevor Daley (free agent), Ladislav Smid (free agent), Tanner Pearson (draft)
In Place (Key players signed past Season 6)
Ryan O’Reilly, C; Vadim Shipachyov, LW; Jaro Halak, G; Andrew Ladd, LW; Alex Goligoski, D
1. That was a huge trade with Moscow. What does it do for the Greeks? New GMs Marcel Kuchta of Athens and Ronnie Walker of Moscow got going in the EURO league quickly by constructing a big deal that helps both clubs. Athens traded captain David Backes, Kyle Palmieri and a 2018 Round 1 pick to Moscow for Andrew Ladd, Jaroslav Halak, Brandon Sutter and a 2018 Round 2 pick. Kuchta lost a number one center and a captain in Backes, but those holes were amply filled immediately. Ryan O’Reilly, who was MVP of the Season 5 All-Star game, is the undisputed top center now, a season after he scored 100 points and had 300 shots on goal. Ladd immediately went from captain of Spartak to captain of the Greeks. The first round pick that Kuchta parted with has a lot of value, but it brought the team a new number one goalie in Halak to replace Cam Ward. The other players in the trade, Palmieri and Sutter are quality forwards who play different brands of hockey and still have a lot of life in their skates and sticks. Athens has a nice set of forwards and an excellent top 6, They also had the league’s second best power play in Season 5. The addition of Ladd might make Scott Hartnell expendable if the team isn’t challenging for the lead by the trade deadline. The assistant captain will start on the third line of a team that is playing slightly over the salary cap and he earns more than $4 million. The change in leadership styles – from Backes to Ladd – should breath some new energy into the team and we’ll see in a couple of month if that translates into more wins.
2. How much does Big Buff’s departure hurt ? Dustin Byfuglien decided to test the free agent market during the off season and smooth-talking Bryan Camara coaxed him into a $9 million one-year deal in Lisbon. We’re not going to lie, that’s a huge loss for the Greeks in more ways than one. First off, Byfuglien is a huge guy with a lot of physical strength and toughness. He also scored 20 goals last season, was the team’s top scoring defenseman and delivered 239 hits. Tough to replace that kind of guy. Trevor Daley and Ladislav Smid were signed in the off season and they will see regular shifts. Smid is now the biggest and strongest defenseman in Athens but he’s no Byfuglien. Daley, 33, can still fly, and he’s experienced, but the Greeks now have a pop gun instead of a cannon on the point during power plays. The Kronwall brothers are back, as are Alex Goligoski and Ian White, so there is good chemistry and talent on the top two pairs of D. The Greeks might have the best skating defensemen in the league.
3. Are they better with Halak in goal than they were with Ward? If you look at the numbers, it’s a virtual wash. Ward played in 70 playoff games and Halak saw action in 55. They both had similar save percentages in the playoffs but Halak has a 1 in the Cups won column. That excites teammates and fans. Halak should benefit from the fact his Moscow teammate Brandon Sutter came along in the trade. Sutter will make the team’s penalty killing better as he teams with Erik Condra, T.J. Oshie and O’Reilly as the PK forwards when the other teams have man advantages.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 5 7 102 21.8 83.2 32.76 28.89 3.74 3.15 9.74
Season 4 4 107 21.4 85.3 31.91 29.00 3.62 2.72 11.50
Season 3 6 100 20.7 85.4 33.82 27.72 3.72 3.00 13.16
Season 2 9 97 20.5 82.2 30.07 29.89 3.52 3.17 12.48
Season 1 20 63 16.4 76.7 28.20 31.60 2.54 3.61 9.77
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Ryan O’Reilly, C, current age 25. Games played: 382; points: 316; +88
Season 2: Staffan Kronwall, D, age 22. GP 320, Pts 121, +53
Season 3: Samuel Morin, D, age 21.
Season 4: Artturi Lehkonen, LW, age 21.
Season 5: Miks Indrasis, LW, age 20.
Season 6: Tanner Pearson, LW, age 22.
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Round 9 pick (used to draft Nick Foligno) to Geneva for Round 13 pick (Marcus Kruger) and Round 14 pick (Mark Scheifele)
Traded Round 15 pick (Stefan Elliott) to Minsk for Matt Cullen
Traded Evander Kane and Alexander Sulzer to Dublin for Scott Hartnell, Tim Gleason, 2013 Round 1 pick (traded later) (Nail Yakupov), Round 2015 Round 1 pick (traded later) (Matt Nieto) and $5 million
Traded Tomas Vokoun to Madrid for Michal Neuvirth, Nick Johnson and 2013 Round 1 pick (traded later) (Martin Ruzicka)
Traded 2013 Round 3 pick (Magnus Johansson) to Milan for Brad Boyes
Traded Michal Rozsival and 2014 Round 1 pick (Justin Schultz) to Prague for Nick Kronwall
Traded Nazem Kadri and Round 2 pick (lost track of this one; might have been Brendan Pirlini in 2014) to Belfast for 2013 Round 1 pick (Vadim Shipachyov)
Traded Nathan Horton and 2014 Round 2 pick (Brian Flynn) to Berlin for Miikka Kiprusoff
Traded Miikka Kiprusoff and Michal Neuvirth to Stockholm for Cam Ward
Traded Marcel Hossa to Prague for Michael Ryder
Traded Jared Spurgeon and Nick Johnson to Prague for Michal Rozsival and Kyle Palmieri
* seem to missing 3 trades that occurred in this general period.
Traded Mark Scheifele to Prague for Joel Armia
Traded Johnny Boychuk to Milan for Dimitrios Kalyvas
Traded Brooks Orpik, Bryan Bickell and 2017 Round 1 pick (Ivan Provorov) to Copenhagen for Alex Goligoski
Traded David Backes, Kyle Palmieri and a 2018 Round 1 pick to Moscow for Andrew Ladd, Jaroslav Halak, Brandon Sutter and a 2018 Round 2 pick
After Season 6 started:
Traded Ryan O’Reilly to Moscow for Anze Kopitar
Signed Christian Folin (free agent), Jack Hillen (free agent)
Lost Mike Indrasis (waivers)