Season 8 profile: London Saracens

 

 

Team Owner: C. Montgomery Burns, owner, Springfield Nuclear Power Plant

Farm Club: Tottenham TemplarsTottenham Templars

GM: Mike Suk (4th GM in team’s history)

Coach: Barry Trotz (replaced Darryl Sutter after Season 7, who replaced Ken Hitchcock after Season 6)

Last season: 23rd overall; did not make the playoffs

Ins and Outs

(Season 7 to Season 8)

Out: Dion Phaneuf (traded), Marco Scandella (re-acquired via waivers), Michael Grabner (traded), Ryan Miller (free agent), Mark Arcobello (free agent), Justin Braun (free agent), Theo Peckham (free agent), Tim Erixon (free agent)

In: Damon Severson (trade), Marco Scandella (waivers), Jon Merrill (waivers), Daniel Pietta (waivers), Ryan Murphy (waivers), Jean-Francois Berube (free agent), Joni Ortio (free agent), Jake Guentzel (draft), Martin Necas (draft), Urho Vaakanainen (draft)

In Place

(Key players signed past Season 8)

Taylor Hall, RW; Jeff Skinner, C; Brandon Saad, LW; William Nylander, LW; Martin Jones, G;

3qs

 

 

 
Three Questions

1. Where does London need the most help? The Saracens can skate and move the puck around as well as anyone. What they are lacking right now more than anything is leadership and experience. The new General Manager Mike Suk is is rebuild mode, so there is no urgency to sign a bonafide captain. In fact, Suk already traded one guy with leadership qualities (Dion Phaneuf) and waived another (Rick Nash). It’s obviously out with the old and in with the new in Olde London Towne. Even the longtime nickname and team colors are out in favor of the new Saracens red and black. London is very young and the plan is for much of the current team to grow up with each other and gel at around age 30 together. Of all the kids on this squad, Taylor Hall, 27, seems to be the one most likely to wear a C on his sweater eventually, if not this year. About four seasons ago, the Belfast Giants proved that experience points are not essential to a successful EURO Cup run, but the young Saracens are in danger of being mistake-prone and if they lose a lot early, they might lack the experienced guidance to right the ship.

2. If this was team speed skating instead of hockey, how would they do? They would be champs. London has blazing speed all over the ice. Jake Gardiner on defense can fly and you won’t see Kevin Shattenkirk or Damon Severson lose many races to pucks dumped into the corners. The only other two Dmen on the roster currently – Rasmus Ristolainen and Dylan Olsen – and more physical, but they can also get around the ice surface in a hurry. Up front, the Saracens have simply amazingly colossal speed. London is to forward speed what Jamaica is to sprinting. Jeff Skinner has twice finished in the top 3 in the league’s Fastest Skater event in the All-Star Skills Competition. They have so many speedsters, in fact, they don’t even need Michael Grabner, who was runner-up to the event winner in Season 6 and this year was traded to Lisbon. The slowest forward out of 14 on the current roster is Frenchman Gregory Beron, who is listed as a 79 in Speed rating. That’s not slow, by the way. London will be able to out-skate any team they face. The big question for this team is how is new Coach Barry Trotz going to use his incredible team speed? Will he remind his forwards that they can skate just as fast without the puck as they can without it, and just as fast into the D zone and they skate into the opponents’ zone? Will they dump and chase? If any team has the speed to succeed at that game, it’s London. But they also have enough skilled forwards to work the puck into the zone and make some plays. The accumulation of so many greyhounds over the years has left London short in Great Danes. Anders Lee is the biggest, strongest forward, but no forwards other than Rick Nash and Lee can consistently hold their spot very well in a board battle or in front of the net.

3. What is their downfall? Between Seasons 6 and 7, ownership neglect stripped the team of a couple of good players and failed to replace them adequately in free agency. It’s similar to what many teams are facing now in what many are calling an economic crisis in the league. Last season, turmoil at the top of the organization seemed to leave the team floundering in search of stability and success. Coach Darryl Sutter could do nothing with the youngsters. The talented forwards were impotent, and London scored just a goal more than the 24th-best scoring team in the league. Likewise, they appeared confused on defense, allowing the second-most number of goals in the league, although the youthful defense corps and goalie (Martin Jones) were expected to struggle early in their career together. But London should have been better on offense and Trotz and his staff will have to unravel the mystery of scoring goals. They seem to have the offensive talent to put up a lot more tallies than they have in the past 12 months. And their powerplay could be much better. London may still give up scoring opportunities due their inexperience, but this team has a bright future and the sooner the speed merchants up front start clicking, the sooner the playoffs and bright days will dawn in England.

History

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

Season 7              23          62            13.5    81.0    27.48   32.38    2.60    3.66   7.59

Season 6              11          89           20.2   81.0   28.93   31.40      3.33    3.33   8.35

Season 5              10          93          16.6     79.4  28.82   30.26    3.26   3.00    7.99

Season 4              16           81         16.2    81.5   29.68    31.62     3.12    3.40     8.61

Season 3              21           75         16.3    75.7   30.24    30.94     3.09    3.51    11.10

Season 2              23           56         16.2    77.2    26.96    34.29    2.66    3.84    11.24

Season 1              15           88        14.9    83.5    30.79    29.77    3.07    3.13    10.79

Top Draft picks

Season 1: Marc-Andre Fleury, G, current age 34. Games played: 414; Save Pct: 89.7

Season 2: Jimmie Ericsson, LW, age 25. GP 280, Pts 107, +7

Season 3: Braden Holtby, G, age 28. GP 320, Save pct: 90.4

Season 4: Martin Jones, G, age 27. GP 183, Save Pct. 90.1

Season 5: Artemy Panarin, RW, age 27. GP 190, Pts 62, +8

Season 6: Anders Lee, LW, age 26. GP 95, Points 25, +4

Season 7: Ryan Spooner, C, age 24. GP 41 Points 6, -15

Season 8: Jake Guentzel, LW, age 22.

Trade History

Season 2

Traded Semyon Varmalov to Berlin for Andrey Bykov, Tim Erixon and 2014 Round 2 pick (Robert Hagg)

Traded 2016 Round 3 pick to Minsk for Tobias Stephan

Traded Tobias Stephan to Minsk for 2016 Round 3 pick

* missing two trades, one which sent Bykov to Oslo.

Season 3

Traded Tyler Seguin and Luca Sbisa to Oslo for Pavel Datsyuk and Shea Weber

Traded Braden Holtby to Stockholm for Sam Gagner, Michal Neuvirth and 2015 Round 1 pick (Nikita Kucherov)

Traded Shea Weber to Copenhagen for Kevin Shattenkirk, Teddy Purcell and Carl Gunnarsson

Season 4

Traded Zach Bogosian to Stockholm for Dmitri Orlov and Jake Muzzin

Season 5 

Season 6

After Season 6 started:

Traded Erik Forssell and 2018 Round 3 pick (Adam Mascherin) to Berlin for 2018 Round 2 pick (Bern’s – Joonas Donskoi) and 2019 Round 2 pick (Stockholm’s)

Season 7

After season started: Traded 2019 Round 2 pick to Berlin for Dion Phaneuf; signed Theo Peckham (free agent), Justin Braun (free agent), lost Ryan Spooner (waivers), lost Joonas Donskoi (waivers)

Season 8

Traded Dion Phaneuf and Michael Grabner to Lisbon for Damon Severson and 2021 Round 3 pick

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