Hello everybody and welcome to another installment of The Neutral Zone. I once again am your host Sandin and today is puck drop. All the waiting and anticipation that had been building up for weeks is finally here. We have a great opening night with our headline matchup as the Casterly Rock Lions take on The Tottenham Trucks. Man if you are able to have some time I suggest you really check it out it is going to be a good one. We have talked about the teams and the players to the point of exhaustion but now I wanna talk to you guys and share my thoughts on what I believe are the top 5 stories heading into opening night. So with that introduction let us get this show started as round down from 1 to 5.
5. Who will walk away with the Vezina this season?.
As you already know our current and multiple time winner of the hardware in Tripacez has decided to take a season off. The consensus league favorite to be the front runner every season will have to get used to looking at another new name on the Trophy. There are so many new goalies as well as old faces who were in the running against Trip. Names such as Killswitch, Pens, J pizzle and Dethmaul to name a few it is anyone’s guess who will be the recipient but I for one hand am looking forward to seeing a fresh new face hoist the accomplishment this season. And whoever gets crowned out top netminder this season will definitely have worked hard and earned it with the firepower they will face on any night.
4. With set salaries on players and no retention this season. Teams will have to come up with creative ways to make deals.
Much of the talk in the off-season was the set salary on a certain player depending on the round they were drafted in. Many showed their approval or distaste for the idea but this is the way it is so teams will have to work with it. Now trades are a big part of virtual leagues. We know that, we love chaos, we can admit it, heck we already saw a trade that basically had teams trading two players each from the same round so the salary works out. What I am looking forward to are the deals that if a contending team is trying to acquire a top or second round player without removing too much of their top talent, what the packages will look like. It will be interesting to see a team who already has an 18 million dollar player to try and maybe add another 18 million or even 10 million to the team and make it fit in the cap. You have to pay something to get something. For once I am hoping to see some really cool trade packages this season and the creativity that is constructed at the negotiation table.
3. Which part will see a bigger incline in production this season. Offensive scoring or Better defensive stats?
Virtual hockey leagues will always praise the offensive side of the game and most of the awards are handed out to the players with the best offensive stats even Defenders which sometimes is criminal. No doubt there are a lot of bangers on the offensive side of the puck and this league will not have any shortage of top point men, maybe even more than last season with a lot of the newcomers that are known outside as elite players . What I would like to keep an eye on is will goal scoring on a team average based on the season before be up more or will team defensive numbers have a bigger jump. I believe that the number of quality defensemen have increased this season and could really help the defensive side of the game close the gap in the league. But it is not just defenders but more forwards as well who think the game 200 feet and take care of things on both sides of the ice are entering the league as well. This is something I am really going to monitor this season.
2. Will our current Calder winner upgrade his individual hardware to a possible Rocket or Art Ross?
All eyes will be on Shieldzzzy this season for sure I would think. After putting up an average of 4 points per game last season in only 8 games played last season as a part time player. Shieldzzzy finished with 20+ goals and just under 50 points. Easily the unanimous selection to win the Calder trophy. This season he is able to play more games and one would suggest he plays at least 4 a week. Adding 2 more games to him a week with the projection of him putting up an average of 4 points a game again this season is crazy too imagine and who knows maybe he is 6 of 6 on most weeks. Now I know I am speaking hypothetically here but is there anyone in this league that believes he can’t do it or doubts his ability to pull it off. With great expectation comes great pressure but after spending a whole season with him and getting to admire his play on the ice. Now I do not know who holds the record for most points or goals in a season as of right now but I would have to imagine that Shieldzzzy could threaten to knock on that door this season. You look at what could be. I see this being more of a probability than a possibility.
1. Is Brandon really the right guy for Joe’s first pick of the draft?.
Now I am not a guy who tends to beat a dead horse into the ground but this is definitely the top story of the season. To pass on a guy who I just talked about at number 2 and what he has proven already in his first season for a guy who I will admit is still a good player but I believe his best offensive production is behind him. Gators went with a guy that he has on his LG team and stated to me “ He is the right guy for how I want to build my team “ . As of right now as I speak Brandon has been traded away in LG this week so that is not a good sign of things to come. I see Brandon starting the season on the Joes and we will see what he brings to the table but if they start looking at moving him to another team it is a big cap to unload and I see them taking a hit on the return coming back. I do believe Brandon can bring some offensive production to a team and his numbers will not be terrible as people will think but right now given the recent actions of how things transpired already with Gator and Brandon outside the NZHL I would start setting a timer for how long this relationship comes to an end and where Brandons next destination will be.
Well once again that is my cue to wrap things up. I hope these stories are things that the rest of you members in the league will also be keeping an eye on as well. What is a hockey league without its headlines lol. Anyway don’t forget to check out our NZHL stream wall this season on our brand new website at NZHL.net is it is an awesome feature that really makes this league take a big step forward, wanna watch a game go to the stream wall and pick which one you want to watch, it is that simple. No subscriptions or logins needed just type and click.
Well It is now my time to go to bed so this has been your host Sandin signing but before I go I would like all you to remember “ Whatever you do in life, Always make sure to KEEP IT NEUTRAL 🙂” goodnight everyone.