Owners – Two of Northern Ireland’s most famous sons: actor James (Jimmy) Nesbitt (probably best known internationally for his part as one of the dwarves in the Hobbit trilogy); and model/actor/’GLAMOUR sexiest man of 2017′ Jamie Dornan of ‘Fifty Shades’ fame.
Farm Club: Belfast Bruins
GM: Chris Patton (only GM in team’s history)
Last season: Cup Champion; (In playoffs: defeated Stockholm, Copenhagen, Moscow and then Lisbon in the Finals)
Ins and Outs (Season 7 to Season 8)
Out: Victor Hedman (trade), James Neal (trade), Sergei Mozyakin (trade), Vladimir Tarasenko (trade), Gabriel Bourque (trade), Dennis Rasmussen (free agent)
In: Jonathan Huberdeau (trade), Jaccob Slavin (trade), David Pastrnak (trade), Tobias Rieder (trade), Yasin Ehliz (trade), Jakob Chychrun (trade), Cal Foote (draft), Robert Thomas (draft), Brock McGinn (draft)
In Place (Key players signed past Season 8)
1. Will this great group stay together? Chris Patton’s Belfast Giants are the most successful franchise in EURO League history, having won three of the last four Cups, doing so by acquiring young, promising players who could contribute a lot while still on their first contracts. Most players on this team can skate like the wind, there’s plenty of toughness and nowadays, they are loaded with experience. There is a good leadership core in Belfast, the forwards play defense regularly and the defensemen are a big part of the offense. It’s a masterpiece. But Patton will have to put on his wizard hat again the retain that amazing kind of power because if you go to the Player Management page you will see that the Giants are nearly $11 million over the suspension cap (as of July 28, 2017 real time). How will Patton manage this problem? Will he shop around an expensive current superstar like Claude Giroux or P.K. Subban for young superstars, or will he cut ties with a younger, middle-of-the-team skater like Justin Faulk or Mikko Lehtonen and replace them in the lineup with a much lesser player?
2. Do they have a weakness? Yes, the Giants’ fourth line was pitiful last year … but Vladimir Tarasenko, Mikael Granlund and Nardo Nagtzaam all had a week with the EURO Cup, so they couldn’t have been that bad, we guess. Coach Alain Vigneault kept the trio on the bench most games and none scored in double figures. Nagtzaam had 5 goals and 4 assists all year and he was the best scorer of the line. Tarasenko scored a goal and had 8 assists and was traded in the off season to St. Petersburg, where he will get the ice time to show what he can really do. Granlund managed just 5 assists. At first glance, one would assume the third defense pairing might be a possible weak link on the Giants, but Cody Franson and Micki Dupont were far from it. Far from it. Franson managed to score 30 points and was a plus 50. That’s all-star territory. And Dupont, the team’s policeman called on often to do the dirtiest work, was nearly as good.
3. Who meant the most to the Giants in Season 7? All Giants contributed to the Cup win, but Matt Duchene, 27, blossomed in Season 7 to become … well, the best player in the league because he won the Player of the Year trophy. In 20 minutes per game, Duchene scored 48 goals and 106 points, an improvement of 41 points over his previous season high. He also set a league record for plus/minus rating with a plus 75 season. And don’t discount the work of the most successful EURO goalie of all time, Jonathan Quick. He’s 32 years old now and coming off his best-ever season. His 2.12 goals against average and 91.7 save percentage won him the Best Goalie trophy for the second time in his career, and when his numbers all got better in the playoffs, he netted his third Playoff MVP trophy. All told, he now has 11 trophies to his credit if you count the three Cups the team has won. It would seem that at this point, the team would be hard-pressed to challenge without Duchene and Quick. If changes need to be made, die-hard Giants fans are hoping the two heroes from last season remain.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 7 2 120 17.1 86.0 34.89 25.95 3.74 2.22 12.29
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 32. Games played: 341; Save Pct. 90.7
Season 2: Tony Martensson, C, age 32. GP 484, Pts 322, +12
Season 3: Nathan MacKinnon, RW, age 23. GP 326, Pts 262, +138
Season 4: Ondrej Palat, LW, age 26. GP 328, Pts 287, +163
Season 5: Vladislav Kamenev, W, age 21.
Season 6: Jacob Larsson, D, age 20.
Season 7: Brett Howden, C/LW, age 19.
Season 8: Cal Foote, D, 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)
Traded Sergei Mozyakin and Vladimir Tarasenko to St. Petersburg for Jonathan Huberdeau, Tobias Rieder and Jakob Chychrun
Traded Gabriel Bourque to Madrid for Yasin Ehliz
Traded Victor Hedman to Copenhagen for Jaccob Slavin
Traded James Neal, Michael Dal Colle, Robert Thomas, 2021 Round 1 pick, 2022 Round 1 pick and 2021 Round 2 pick to Prague for David Pastrnak
After Season 8 started:
Lost Mikael Granlund (waivers)
Signed Kevin Porter, Nick Lappin and Sergei Plotnikov (free agents)