GM: Chris Patton (only GM in team’s history)
Last season: 4th overall; (In playoffs: defeated London, Moscow and then lost to Minsk in seven games)
Ins and Outs (Season 6 to Season 7)
Out: Matt Moulson (trade)
In: Brett Howden (draft)
In Place (Key players signed past Season 6)
1. Do we detect a downhill lean to the Giants? In Season 6, Belfast put together its third great season in a row. Giants’ General Manager Chris Patton has to hate the league’s salary cap, because it’s breaking up his team and might have been the reason Belfast tailed off slightly in most statistical categories and eventually missed out on a chance to win its third EURO Cup in a row. They went down fighting, however, with an exhilarating Conference Finals series with Minsk that saw Belfast fight its way back from a three-games-to-none deficit to force a Game 7. It would have been difficult if not impossible for Coach Alain Vigneault’s boys to improve upon their stellar Season 5 statistics … and they didn’t. Goals for were down slightly, goals against were up slightly, and the shots per game averages went in the same directions. Cap room juggling led to two trades that brought in Claude Giroux and Sergei Mozyakin at the expense of talisman Sidney Crosby, Nazem Kadri, prospects Mikko Rantanen and Vladislav Kamenev, as well as two first-round draft picks and a second-rounder. It’s possible that when Crosby departed, so did some of the sheen on the Giants.
2. How important is Jonathan Quick to this team? The Giants have incredible depth and talent throughout the lineup, but it could all go for naught without a good goalie. Jonathan Quick – with a 91.1 save percentage last year and six seasons over 90 percent – is arguably the best and General Manager Chris Patton apparently considered him to be the most important piece of the Belfast machine, giving the highly sought after free agent a 3-year, $9 million per year contract with a player option. That contract will prevent Belfast from resigning a young player or three next year at this time. Sergei Mozyakin, Mikko Lehtonen and Justin Faulk are all on the final year of contracts that have them being paid $1.367 million or less. Patton may opt to trade or buy out veterans to give himself room to keep one or more of the young players.
3. Who are the Giants’ top players? If you are an opposing coach, you can’t think of it that way, because Belfast has enough fire power to hurt you all over the ice, all game long. Their balance shows in the stats. All six members of the top two lines earned between 62 and 77 points last season, and there was not a lot of difference in the performances of the top four defensemen (P.K. Subban, Justin Faulk, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Victor Hedman) either. The trading of Matt Moulson in the off season gives Gabriel Bourque a shot at more ice time, but this team is so deep that Vladimir Tarasenko is still slotted in as a fourth-liner. The most interesting stats line from last season has to be that of faceoff specialist and fourth-line center Nardo Nagtzaam. The Dutchman had wonderful takeaway-giveaway numbers for a rookie, but in 82 games, he contributed just 2 goals and no assists. It’s reminiscent of Nino Niederreiter’s 1-point-in-55-games debut season in the NHL with the Islanders.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 6 4 111 20.9 84.7 31.76 28.84 3.72 2.77 11.22
Season 5 1 129 20.7 86.4 32.55 27.71 3.79 2.54 11.99
Season 4 3 108 16.7 85.1 32.99 28.99 3.60 2.74 12.63
Season 3 19 76 20.2 82.9 30.17 31.26 3.20 3.41 11.18
Season 2 20 72 15.6 79.1 29.17 33.04 3.20 3.61 12.57
Season 1 21 61 10.1 77.9 23.85 37.40 2.33 3.67 10.29
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Cory Schneider, G, current age 31. Games played: 288; Save Pct. 90.7
Season 2: Tony Martensson, C, age 31. GP 402, Pts 269, +28
Season 3: Nathan MacKinnon, RW, age 22. GP 244, Pts 189, +79
Season 4: Ondrej Palat, LW, age 25. GP 246, Pts 211, +113
Season 5: Vladislav Kamenev, W, age 20.
Season 6: Jacob Larsson, D, age 19.
Season 7: Brett Howden, C/LW, age 18
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Round 12 pick (used to draft Sami Salo) and Round 24 pick (Douglas Murray) to Bern for Round 10 pick (Devan Dubnyk)
Traded Round 11 pick (Roman Josi) and Round 15 pick (Andrej Sekera) to Minsk for Round 10 pick (Mikael Granlund)
Traded 2013 Round 1 pick (Vadim Shipachyov) to Athens for Nazem Kadri and Round 2 pick (lost track of this one; might have been Brendan Pirlini in 2014)
Traded Rick Nash to Stockholm for Mikko Lehtonen and 2014 Round 1 pick (Jonathan Drouin) *Not 100 percent positive about the pick or if there was another part to the trade, but pretty sure.
Traded Tony Martensson, Olivier Roland, Ondrej Pavelec and Adam Larsson to Edinburgh for James Neal and Oliver Ekman-Larsson * one trade missing that occurred around here
Traded Tony Martensson, Olivier Roland, Ondrej Pavelec and Adam Larsson to Edinburgh for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and James Neal
Traded Filip Forsberg and Cory Schneider to Munich for Jonathan Quick
Traded Joe Pavelski, Jonathan Drouin and 2016 Round 1 pick (Ville Vahalahti) to Copenhagen for Alexander Ovechkin
Traded 2016 Round 3 pick (Evgeny Solomonov) to Bratislava for 2017 Round 3 pick (Julius Nattinen)
Traded Devan Dubnyk to Zurich for 2019 Round 3 pick
Traded 2017 Round 1 pick (Lawson Crouse) to Bern for Cam Talbot
Traded Mathieu Perreault to Copenhagen for Dennis Rasmussen
Traded Alexander Ovechkin and Cody Hodgson to Dublin for Evander Kane and nardo Nagtzaam
After Season 6 started
Traded Rob Fabbri and 2019 Round 3 pick (formerly Zurich’s) to Milan for Mikko Rantanen
Traded Sidney Crosby, Mikko Rantanen, 2018 Round 1 pick (Jake Bean) and 2018 Round 2 pick (Andreas Athanisiou) to Edinburgh for Claude Giroux
Traded Nazem Kadri, Vladislav Kamenev and 2020 Round 1 pick to Geneva for Sergei Mozyakin
Lost Mattias Tedenby (waivers)
Traded Matt Moulson to Lisbon for 2020 Round 3 draft pick
After season started: Traded Andrey Vasilevskiy, Julius Nattinen, 2019 Round 1 pick, and 2020 Round 3 pick (Lisbon’s) to Prague for Niko Hovinen
Traded Cam Talbot to Dublin for 2019 Round 2 pick
Lost Jesper Fast (waivers)