Season 8 profile: Zurich Lions

pro zURICH

Farm Club: Venice (Italy) Griffins Venice Griffins

GM: Dennis Sullo (4th GM in team’s history)

Coach: Peter Laviolette (replaced Paul MacLean after Season 4)

Last season: 18th overall; out of playoffs

Ins and Outs (Season 7 to Season 8)

Out: Brad Richards (free agent), Drew Stafford (free agent), Patrick Sharp (free agent), Jussi Jokinen (free agent), Marc Staal (waivers), Matt Bartkowski (free agent), Braydon Coburn (free agent), Nick Palmieri (free agent), Jori Lehtera (free agent), Dwight King (free agent)

In: Ryan Suter (waivers), Radko Gudas (waivers), Adam Pelech (free agent), Charlie Coyle (free agent), Philip Danault (free agent), Brayden Point (draft), Derek Forbort (draft), Matt Benning (draft)

In Place (Key players signed past Season 8)

Patrice Bergeron, C; Jakub Voracek, RW; Anthony Duclair, LW;  Jacob Trouba, D; John Gibson, G





Three Questions

1. What went wrong in Season 7? Zurich seemed to be good enough to at least make the playoffs last season and then do some damage once they got in, but it didn’t work out that way at all. A slow start hurt the team badly because it never really recovered. And even in the last month of the season it looked like the Lions could slide into the playoffs, but they failed. Goalies Cam Ward and John Gibson weren’t great, but we’re not ready to lay the blame at their skates. It’s tough to pinpoint any specific goats on the team, but the older, more experienced guys who were either retained or brought in to provide the right kind of leadership didn’t get the job done, especially down the frustrating stretch. Since that time, Zurich General Manager Dennis Sullo has cut ties with veterans Patrick Sharp, Brad Richards, Drew Stafford, Braydon Coburn, Jussi Jokinen and a couple of other veterans. The team will see some young players step into starting roles, but Zurich isn’t discarding everyone of legal drinking age. A key player from the beginning of the franchise – Patrice Bergeron – signed a long-term contract that might keep him in Lions blue and red until he is 37 years old. Bergeron is still a premier two-way center, faceoff expert, and the number one center for the Lions. Veteran defenseman Ryan Suter was acquired to steady the defense corps, mentor Jacob Trouba, and hopefully provide some of the leadership that was missing last season.

2. What is the Lions’ best attribute? They have two, really: depth and balance. Sullo comes out of the economic crisis with good OV numbers everywhere. The fourth line is made up of a 73OV player and two with 70 OV ratings. That line will hold its own in the limited time it gets. The third line features three sure-fire puck possession players in Tomas Tatar and newcomers Charlie Coyle and rookie Brayden Point. This trio may not light it up, but they will help the Lions get into a good structure often because they will get to and hold onto pucks. The top two lines, centered by Bergeron and Ryan Strome, are just about what you would expect number 1 and number 2 lines to look like, although Zurich and Sullo obviously want players in those spots who are willing to come back and help on defense.  All of the top six forwards know how to play D.   The defense looks good because the weakest link – the third pair – isn’t that weak. This group is missing a little in the experience category but five of the six will grow together and the group should get better next year and the year after. As for balance, the Lions have a few good passers, some shooters, some hitters, many who play good defense … you get the picture, they are balanced. They are deficient in one area, though, and that’s size. It remains to be seen if a lack of tonnage will affect the team.

3. Who could break out this season? Actually, there are a few players who seem ready to bloom this season. Tyson Barrie is 26 and playing top minutes for the Lions while being partnered with Trouba, at least currently. Last season, for the first time in his short career, Barrie had more takeaways than giveaways and that’s a good sign. He also scored more points in Season 7 than in any of his previous three seasons. The same can be said for Alexander Weiss, the 25-year-old German who is currently on the third pairing with Maxim Noreau, 24. Up front, Ryan Strome’s numbers are going in the right direction, he’s proven to be careful with the puck, and he will get more ice time this year. Look for him to put up a personal best point total of about 60. Charlie Coyle will get more ice time in Zurich than he did in Stockholm the last two seasons, and he should put up decent points even with his defense-first mindset. He and Point might even help Tatar get his mojo back. The young Slovak has seen his production decrease two seasons in a row. Goalie Gibson will settle into the number one spot and be a huge asset, but maybe not this season. He is only 23 and fans have to be patient with him for that reason.


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

Season 7              18       71        14.8         78.9       29.33     29.34        2.96    3.44       8.50

Season 6              14       86         16.6        79.4      28.63     30.74        3.11     3.30      7.83

Season 5              15        82          20.2        80.4    29.66      30.71        3.29    3.38        7.39

Season 4              9          96          19.0        81.3      31.60     28.98        3.60    3.22      9.71

Season 3             15         85          15.8        81.3      31.13      29.44        3.52    3.54    11.99

Season 2              8          97           17.7        83.1      30.04    28.27       3.26    2.91    11.27

Season 1             22         58           17.1       81.9       28.72     31.37       2.83     3.88    10.55

Top Draft picks

Season 1: Patrice Bergeron, C, currently age 33. GP 565, Pts 592, -104

Season 2: Alexander Radulov, RW, age 26. GP 458, Pts 375, -16

Season 3: Tyson Barrie, D, age 26.  GP 317,  Pts 139,  +4

Season 4: Tomas Tatar, LW, age 27.  GP 325,  Pts 192,  -19

Season 5: Alexander Weiss, D, age 25.  GP 139,  Pts 44,  -22

Season 6: John Gibson, G, age 23. GP 16, Save Percentage 88.2

Season 7: Anthony Duclair, RW, age 21.

Season 8: Brayden Point, C, age 20.

Trade History

Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)

Traded Brad Richards to St. Petersburg for Patrick Kane

Traded Michael Ryder to Prague for Jussi Jokinen

Season 4

Traded Brian Elliott to Copenhagen for Roberto Luongo

Traded Alexander Radulov to Helsinki for Jacob Trouba

Traded Martin Thornberg to Copenhagen for 2016 Round 3 pick (Michael Keranen)

Traded Patrick Kane to Minsk for Jakub Voracek, Nathan Beaulieu and 2016 Round 1 pick (Sandro Zurkirchen)

Traded 2019 Round 3 pick to Belfast for Devan Dubnyk

Season 5

After Season 5 started Signed Ondrej Roman (free agent), signed Jimmy Hayes (free agent)

Season 6

After Season 6 started: Traded Janne Niskala to Minsk for Dmitrij Jaskin

Signed Nick Palmieri (free agent); claimed Mark Giordano (waivers), claimed Jori Lehtera (waivers), lost Jimmy Hayes (waivers)

Season 7

Traded Ilya Kovalchuk to St. Petersburg for Artem Anisimov, Brad Richards and 2019 Round 3 pick

after season 7 started: Claimed Jesper fast (waivers), Joonas Donskoi (waivers); lost Ben Smith (waivers)

Season 8

After Season 8 started:

Claimed Mikael Granlund (waivers)

Lost Michael Keranen (waivers)

Signed Jaroslav Halak (free agent)

Bought out Cam Ward



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