After the acquisition of Ben Bishop from the Butches for a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a conditional 4th round pick in 2022 is there a goalie controversy for the Mounties? GM John Salerno assured us there is not. "Let me be clear. Ben is our clear cut number 1 and we acquired him for the stretch run to take us to where we want to go. I'm not blaming Jacob (Markstrom) but something just wasn't clicking with him this year".
Markstrom, who is in the first year of a 3 year deal that pays him $3.5 million a season had this to say: "Look man, if I play or I sit I still get paid. Whether you like it, or you don't like it, learn to love it! Wooooo!!!" This reporter had no idea Markstrom was such a bit fan of WWE Legend, 2x Hall of Famer and 16x World Champion Ric Flair.... When asked asked what he plans to do for next season Markstrom said, "I'll work as hard as I can to have a better season next year and live up to expectations"
All eyes are now on Bishop as the fan base hopes he can turn around what has surely been a disappointing season for the Mounties so far. "I look forward to challenge of bringing the Cup to Orlando. Its a passionate fan base and seems to be a great group of guys" Bishop said. "I feel for Jacob. It is never my intention to take someone's job. Hopefully we can work together and make each other better"
Orlando hasn't has the best luck with goalies recently. From the departed Cam Ward, to Carter Hutton and now Markstrom. The franchise can't seem to get that position right. Even though Bishop is a UFA after this year, hopefully he can settle things down. Earlier in the season the Mounties traded for Marc Staal and Roman Polak to help out their porous defense and help out Markstrom, but to no avail. Will Bishop be the missing piece to the puzzle? Time will tell.
Speaking of Hutton, who is currently over paid at 2.1 million for this year and next year. He was asked how he felt about Bishop and his current standing with the team. "Wait, I still I have a job? YES!"
Grinders General Manager Scott Davies has been quite busy making trades this season. Lots and lots of trades. In recent days, significant additions have been made to the team in hopes of giving his team a chance at a decent run in the upcoming UHL playoffs. Additions include:
Zdeno Chara: The behemoth shutdown defenseman joins the team to add experience, leadership, size and toughness to the Grinders squad;
Zack Smith: The former Grinders UHL Cup Champ returns to Ottawa in hopes of shoring up the teams' success in the faceoff dot and on the penalty kill;
Josh Manson: Again, more toughness and more help for the Grinders awful penalty kill; and
Artem Anisimov: Because everyone needs an Arty Party
The Grinders are finally done revamping their team for UHL season 38, which emphasis put on better defensive play (especially on the PK). The Grinders have also worked to improve its prospect base for upcoming seasons, and GM Davies seems fairly happy on that front: "I think our prospects on the back-end are quite strong, with the likes of Thomas Harley, Ian Mitchell, Calen Addison, Scott Perunovich, Sean Durzi & Declan Chisholm. Goaltending prospect Joey Daccord was recently added to provide depth. I'm hopeful that this offseason we can look to strengthen our forward prospects, as several of our higher draft picks haven't developed so far to our liking" said Davies on Thursday morning.
Zdeno Chara, 77 OV with only a $2.5 million contract including next season, is rumoured to be headed to the Canadian Conference sometime in the next day or two.
Jaroslav Halak, 82 OV (7th-highest rated goaltender this season) with only a $2.375 million contract for this season, has requested to be traded to a contender.
Ryan Getzlaf (81 OV) can help give a contending team an advantage in their playoff run. Comes with a big contract though ($8 million including next season), but if you've got the cap space, he could make the difference for your team!
Mikael Backlund (78 OV) can play on one of your top two lines, and comes with only a $4.7 million contract through to the end of this season.
GM John Salerno made 2 moves the other day to try to stop the bleeding, with regards to the amount of goals allowed. Currently the Mounties are tied for 6th worst in GAA. Salerno was quoted as follows: "I couldn't keep sitting idly by and watch goal after goal go in. I had to do something". That" something" was a shake up to the defensive core.
In seperate trasnactions Salerno traded their 2021 5th round pick to the Bisons for Marc Staal and then later traded this years 4th and 7th round picks to the Trappers for Roman Polak. What did this mean for the current crop of Mounties dmen? Cale Makar who has struggled at times was sent down to the minors and Ben Harpur will now be a 7th defensemen, to provide depth along with Cameron Gaunce.
"Hopefully Marc and Roman bring some experience to our blueline as we try to secure a playoff spot. They both have some defensive grit, have been there before and know what it takes', said Salerno. When questioned why he made the moves Salerno explained, "I just felt we have left Markstrom out to dry more than once. This is not to blame Cale and Ben, both have bright futures with our team, but the time many not be right for them at this moment."
When asked about he felt, Cale Makar responded, "It hurts. I tried my best, but I understand where the team is now. I will go down to the Oh Snaps and do my best and get better. John assured me I will be a big part of this organizations future".
Ben Harpur was less diplomatic about the situation. "It is what it is. They want to blame me, fine I guess."
There is a risk with these aquisitions. As of now 5 of the defensmen on the Mounties roster will be UFA after this season. When pressed what he plans to do about that Salerno just said, I'm focused on the playoffs right now. I can't worry about next year yet". Should Salerno have tried to trade for players who were signed beyond this year, knowing the UFA position he would be in? Maybe, only time will tell if he was right nor not.
In other Mounties news, the rumor is they are still in the market a top 6 forward, who can play left wing and possibly a starting goalie. When asked about these rumors, Salerno said no comment.
GM Julien makes its first transactions as director of the Great Whites.
It all started on Friday May 29 when the Great Whites contacted GM Michael Moniz of the Hitmen to talk about goaltender Mikko Koskinen. The discussion between the two men did not last 5 minutes. The asking price for Koskinen? Another goaltender named Julius Hudacek as well as a draft pick. GM Julien offers his choice of 4th round for this year's draft to accompany Hudacek. GM Moniz immediately accepts the offer.
Before the trade, Koskinen was the goaltender for the London Assasins in the American League. In 40 games, he had 25 wins, 11 losses and 3 overtime losses.
Yesterday he played his first official game in the Great Whites uniform and allowed GM Julien to savor his first victory in the UHL. The 6 foot 7 inch goaltender made 35 saves on 38 shots to win 4-3 against the Meteors.
Following this exchange, the Monsters needed a new goaltender to compensate for the loss of Julius Hudacek. GM Julien then contacted Timur Bilyalov's agent to offer a contract to his foal. The 2 clans finally agreed on a 1 year contract for $ 450,000. The 24-year-old Russian goaltender played his first game with the Monsters yesterday as well. Unfortunately, he gave in 4 times on 31 shots to fall by the 4-2 mark against the Senators.
Speaking of the Senators, GM Julien's second transaction was concluded on Sunday afternoon with team general manager Scott Davies. Again, the discussion was not very long. The Great Whites were interested by Stéphane Da Costa and the young defender Artyom Zub. The team then offered another defender, Tucker Poolman and a 3rd round pick for next year's draft. Mr. Davis obviously accepted this offer.
Stéphane Da Costa was one of the Senators' most productive players before the transaction. In 56 games, he had sparkled the red light 30 times in addition to collecting 37 assists for a total of 67 pts.
Born in Paris in France, he was also in the lineup during the first victory of GM Julien.
As for Artyom Zub, he had not played a game with the Senators this year. It has been used for the last 2 with the Monsters. He did very well with 1 assistance and a positive differential of +5.
To conclude, according to some rumors, GM Julien would have made its first big transaction in the past hours ... Unfortunately we have no more details at the moment.
He would also have signed a contract to a giant format defender. Again, the details are missing ...