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Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

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Old 01-16-2019, 09:34 AM   #41
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Sorry to hear about the early exit, but a great 1st season. Looking forward to seeing how the ‘chise goes next season.
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:36 AM   #42
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeattleBattleCat
Sorry to hear about the early exit, but a great 1st season. Looking forward to seeing how the ‘chise goes next season.
Thanks. I don't mind getting bounced -- going too far in Season 1 would've been kinda anticlimactic and left it nowhere else to go. The only thing I really mind is that it was Martinook with the winner -- the one trade I kinda-sorta regretted as I made it came back to bite me in the ***. Ah well.

I've got a "looking back/looking ahead" post coming to transition to the new season, but things are generally looking good for 2019-20. Lots of cap space, the guys leaving don't hit the core too hard... I think things should work out.
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Old 01-16-2019, 01:10 PM   #43
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Fire Brigade: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Brock Whitney here, bringing you another edition of the Fire Brigade. As always, I'm joined by Logan Marx, Stu Kennedy, and Sarah Shaw. The Stanley Cup playoffs are over, the NHL Entry Draft is days away, and we wanted to get together to take one last look at the season just finished, and to look ahead at what 2019-20 might hold for the Firebirds.

To tie both of those together into one jumping off question: what went wrong in the playoffs and how do they need to address it going forward? Stu, since you almost always have a strong opinion on things, we'll start with you.

Stu: Sure, Brock. Save me a few minutes at the end, and I'll tell you what I think about that tie you're wearing too. I think what you had with this team is a fixable problem, but one you have to be honest about, which is that about half this team was playing one line or one defense pair over their heads. Some of those guys did a good job stepping up in the regular season, but in the playoffs, you need difference makers, and I don't think the Firebirds had enough of those guys. They went out and got Kesler, he's solid. Nicky Sbruev is looking like he's going to be a player. Rick Nash was one on his good days. But they need more talent, pure and simple.

Logan: I'd maybe refine what Stu is saying a little. I think coming out of the expansion draft, their talent curve was kinda flat -- there wasn't a lot of difference between the guys on the top line and the guys on the 4th line or even the top line or two in the minors. Arguably some of those 3rd and 4th line guys were BETTER than the equivalent guys on other teams, and that worked for them over 82 games. But when they got to the playoffs, they didn't have that Steven Stamkos who could put the game on his back, and I think you need that.

Sarah: You particularly see that talent flattening with the group of defensemen they picked up. Other than maybe Adam Larsson, it never felt like there was much gap between, say, Mirco Mueller, who spent most of the year as a second-pair guy, and Adam Pelech, who spent the whole year in the minors. Pelech was probably better than minor-league talent and could've started for a lot of clubs; Mueller was maybe a little stretched compared to most other teams' #3 guy. I think it's a dynamic that came about because that's where the available talent in the expansion draft took them.

Stu: But Sarah, I think that's my frustration with this management team, they were content to collect chips and never cashed in. Imagine if they'd taken Pelech and Mueller and traded them for a real here-and-now second-pair guy. You saw it start to click in their heads a little bit with the Kevin Hayes trade, but I would've liked to see them be a little more aggressive once they realized they were a real contender.

Logan: But the flip side is "how do you recognize that moment when you've got no frame of reference?". They had a hot first month, but then they slowed down and played .500 hockey up through when they traded for Kevin Hayes. Sbruev started hot but then he had something like four points in December. At one point, second through seventh in the division was a gap of like 5 or 6 points. I don't think you can fault a brand-new organization for taking some time to evaluate what they've got before they start making large-scale changes.

Brock: So what do they need to do going forward?

Sarah: I think they're actually in a really good position for 2019. Most of the guys they're losing aren't core guys. Hagelin probably walks at 4 million. Bieksa at 1.7 is probably gone. Pominville was a rental to begin with. Maybe they bring Rick Nash back, but maybe not. Depending on what you do with some of the younger RFAs, you could be looking at 20, 25 million under the cap. That lets you add two, maybe even three difference makers without disrupting the core.

Brock: Any thoughts on specifically who they might be interested in?

Logan: I think you probably want to look at a true #1 defenseman, someone who can run the power play and maybe even generate some offense from the back. A month ago I would've said Drew Doughty, but winning a cup and winning the Norris might have blown up the market for him. The better play might be Erik Karlsson -- doesn't have the same buzz around him. There's also a lesser couple guys like Mike Green or Anton Stralman, if the price tag on the big guns got too high.

Stu (nodding vigorously in agreement): Now you're talking. These kids are nice and all, but you need a #1 guy holding down the fort.

Logan: I'd also want to add a forward or two. Center looks pretty solid -- Kesler, Hayes, Nash, Lowry... that's shaping up as a solid group up the middle. Left wing, you've got a nice top two in Perron and Sbruev, but then it drops off to Cogliano and... Helm?... if the season started today. Right wing, you've got Jesper Fast, Craig Smith, and Tyler Pitlick, and you could put Nail Yakupov in that conversation, but none of those are #1 guys. Fast was probably a miscast #2 at best. So if I were the GM, my first phone call when free agency opens is either Blake Wheeler or Mitch Marner. Heck, depending what sort of dollars they're asking for, maybe both!

Sarah: You could look at left wings as well, but it might make for some weird locker-room dynamics to have either your scoring leader or the kid who just won the Calder bumped down to the third line.

Stu: I don't think one year on the 3rd line would kill Sbruev's development. Or maybe you play him on the right side -- he did a lot of that in his rookie year and it worked out just fine. He had a great year, but let's remember that he's a 19-year-old kid and he can play where the team needs him to play.

Brock: Does anyone in the minors come into the conversation?

Logan: Probably not unless there are other moves in the pipe or somebody you wouldn't expect gets moved. I could see Yakupov pushing Pitlick for a roster spot. Dominik Simon had a good year in the minors last year, but would you start him over Adam Lowry or Riley Nash? Probably not, and I don't think you'd rather have him playing in the minors and working on his game rather than sitting on the bench as a scratch three nights out of four. Maybe one of the defensemen looks good in camp and you shuffle that bottom pairing or give DeAngelo a year in the minors so he can get more minutes. But there's no guy that's beating down the doors to claim a job.

Sarah: It also wouldn't surprise me if rather than go out and get a veteran replacement for Kevin Bieksa, they just promote one of those defensemen from the minors as the new swing guy. Pelech, Koekkoek, maybe Olofsson if they retain his rights.

Brock: Lastly, we have the draft coming up. Any thoughts there?

Sarah: This draft represents a bit of a tough position for them to be in. They're in kind of a middle ground where they're no longer in that rebuilding "stockpile as many picks" mode that Stu hates so much, but they're also not in that "one piece away from a Cup" mode where maybe you sell off your draft to add that one last piece. I think they just have to be patient and take what this draft gives them.

Stu: They do have a lot of picks in the second round. I would like to see them take one of those seconds and package it to try and move up and get a guy who's NHL ready. Even if it's just to make a statement that "we're competing now". It doesn't even have to be Top 10 or Top 5... just something that's a little more aggressive than collecting future bottom-six guys.

Logan: I wouldn't go there in the first round, but I was thinking they could use a goalie to develop. Right now Grubauer is your starter and Ullmark is your future guy, but in a couple of years Ullmark is going to reach a point where you have to play him or let him walk. Or make him the starter and let Grubauer leave. Either way, it would be good to identify a guy who could be the next guy once you hit that decision point. They picked up Austin Quincey in 2018 but he doesn't look like he's going to be the guy they hoped he'd be.

Brock: Well, we'll start getting answers to all these questions in just a few days, but that's all the time we have for today. Until next time, I'm Brock Whitney, and this has been the Fire Brigade. Thanks for joining us.

Last edited by PFellah; 01-16-2019 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 01-18-2019, 12:51 PM   #44
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

2019 Entry Draft

As a meta-point, I need better scouts. I'm looking at the draft pool and I don't have nearly enough solid leads. I do have pretty much A's or A+'s for region familiarity, but their overall talent just isn't that great.

CENTRAL SCOUTING TOP 10
  1. RW Viktor Kovalev (18, Ukraine) – 6’3”, 189 -- Franchise Med PLY
  2. D Ville Louhi (18, Finland) – 6’4”, 213 -- (unknown) DFD
  3. LW Topi Tuomanen (17, Finland) – 6’0”, 192 -- Top 6 High SNP
  4. C Mikael Oduya (18, Sweden) – 5’10”, 184 – (unknown) PLY
  5. LW Toni Haken (17, Finland) – 6’2”, 208 -- Elite Med PWF
  6. RW Matti Niinimaa (17, Finland) – 6’4”, 223 -- Elite Med PWF
  7. C Kirby Dach (18, Canada) – 6’3”, 175 -- Power Forward – Elite Med PWF
  8. C Raphael Lavoie (18, Canada) – 6’3”, 187 – Elite Med PWF
  9. LW Ali Nicholls (18, USA) – 6’0”, 193 – Top 6 Med TWF
  10. C Juha Viitanen (18, Finland) – 6’4”, 202 – Top 6 Med TWF

It's the Year of the Finns, as players from Finland occupy five of the top 10 picks. The top 10 picks unfold exactly per Central Scouting. Montreal gets the franchise kid, followed by Colorado (Louhi), NY Rangers (Toumanen), Calgary (Oduya), Philly (Haken), Vancouver (Niinimaa), Detroit (Dach), Vegas (Lavioe), Minnesota (Nicholls), and Viitanen to Washington.

As all this is happening, Atlanta explores some modest move-up deals into the mid-to-low teens, but nothing comes together. So we just do our draft au naturel. As mentioned above, in a lot of cases, I just had to rely on central scouting since my scouts really crapped the bed.

FIREBIRDS PICKS
1-25 – RW Matti Filppula (17, Finland) – 6’1”, 193 PLY – Elite Med, but not great scouting. I suppose it's also good to get in on that Year of the Finn action.
2-57 – D Michael Vukojevic (18, Canada) -- 6’3”, 205 TWD – His potential is Top 4, and he's fully scouted.
2-59 – LW Jakub Lauko (19, Czech Republic) – 6'1", 182 TWF – Top 9 TWF, Again, at least he's fully scouted.
2-61 – G Adam Forbes (18, Denmark) – 6’4” 200 HYB – he was the second-ranked goalie on the board, both had poor scouting, but he was showing Elite Med potential, which the other guy wasn't.
3-66 – D Thomas Harley (17, USA) – 6’3” 180 TWD – Well-scouted Top 4 Low (3 ticks) but not fully.
3-89 – LW Alexander Kondratiev (19, Belarus) – 5'11", 187 SNP -- Elite Low, but crappy scouting.
4-106 – C Brendan McMillan (18, Norway) – 6’2” 208 PWF – Top 6 PWF. This was a mild overreach since Central had him going in the 130s, but he was fully scouted as Top 6 Low talent, so why not?
5-153 – C Jan Jenik (18, Czech Republic) – 6’1”, 164 – Same story as McMillan, but Top 9 instead of Top 6.
6-185 - LW Reginald Silvester (19, USA) - 6'1", 192 PWF - From here on out, we're doing lottery tickets. Sort by potential, take someone who says Elite even if it's gray.
7-217 – D Jake Kustra (20, Canada) - 5'11" 172 OFD. OK I lied, this guy doesn't even have Elite potential, but I wanted an offensive defense prospect, and Central said this was the best guy left.
7-221 – LW Sergei Khabibulin (18, Russia) - 6'4" 211 PWF. As lottery tickets go, the thing I liked about this is his negatives were things that could be fixed like leadership or character. And that he's a big boi. But he's still a long shot.

To start, I only sign Filppula (3 years @ 925k) and Vukojevic (3 years @ 875k). I'll leave the rest at least until the main free agency period is over, possibly even training camp so I have a better idea of what I've got to work with.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:20 PM   #45
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Firebirds Go Big: Sign Karlsson and Wheeler, Break Bank For Johnny Hockey

OK, quick meta-thing. Somewhere along the line, I lost Tony DeAngelo to Calgary, though I never remember that happening. I assume the CPU tried to send him down as people returned from injury in April and Calgary got him on waivers. Irritating, but I'm not going to quit the whole franchise over it. We'll just call it a paperwork error at the league office and move on.

Looking first at our early targets:
  • Mitch Marner re-signed with Toronto
  • Drew Doughty wants over $10M a year. I want a #1 defenseman, but not that much.
  • Blake Wheeler’s dollar demands are tolerable (about $7M) but he’s asking for 6 years, which would take him out to age 38.

On defense, Erik Karlsson is asking for about 8.8, but he really is head and shoulders above any other free agent. There are some intriguing options down around $5M – Tyler Myers, Nate Schmidt, Anton Stralman, Mike Green. So… I think the question becomes – one of the best players on the board, or two incremental upgrades?

On the wings, if you take Wheeler out of the picture, the choice is between blowing the bank on Artemi Panarin – 8.3M but you’re getting a guy in his prime – or dropping to a second tier that includes guys like Jacob Silfverberg, Gustav Nyquist, James Van Riemsdyk, and others in the 5-6M range. Again, if I get fancy with salary, I could look at deals for two guys.

Dollarwise, I have about $20M, but I haven’t signed most of my draft picks. I could grab $20M worth of players and just blow most of them off, I guess. Or I could try to move some salary to make room – giving particular side-eye to Darren Helm’s 3.875M contract. That’s a lot of money for a depth forward.

Day One I start with lowball offers on Karlsson (7.5M) and Nyquist (4.5M) just to test the market and get things going. Then something interesting happens...

Calgary wants Riley Nash, and offers a second round pick. My first reaction is no, but then, I have an idea. They have almost as much cap room as I do, so I could dump Helm on them, and I could also try to get DeAngelo back (as a bodies thing, I'd probably be better off with the pick, but I liked what I saw of Tony D in his limited stay). So I offer Nash and Helm for DeAngelo, and... it's surprisingly close. I add my 6th round pick, and it's a deal.

TRADE: Firebirds trade C Riley Nash, LW Darren Helm, and their 6th-round pick to Calgary for D Tony DeAngelo.

So now I have even more money to play with, but I do have a hole in my depth chart. Orrrr.... now we can get in on Wheeler AND Nyquist. (In which case it would just be Lowry and Letestu moving up the depth chart at center). So I drop Wheeler to a four-year offer sheet at about 6.5M per and put it in.

For a few days, there's not much movement. Wheeler rejects, so I bump him back up to 6.75M, but still the 4 years. I also make a half-assed run at Mike Green since he doesn't have any offers yet.

Finally, Wheeler signs on July 11. 4 years, 6.75M. Slot him onto the top line with Kesler and Perron/Sbruev.

Nyquist and Karlsson both reject. I try both again, giving what they're offering. But then I notice something. NOBODY has offered on Antemi Panarin. I don't think I can go all the way to the 8M he wants, but I scrape together a 6M offer to get in the mix, and I'll probably bump it up if Nyquist rejects again.

A few days later, Karlsson and Nyquist reject again. Karlsson, I go OVER his dollars (9M) but cut his years back to 4. (Grumbling a little that I didn't save that much vs. Drew Doughty at this point). Nyquist -- done with his ****, I'll put a few million of his bucks toward a Panarin play.

On 7/16 Panarin rejects and signs with the Ducks. (I wish there had been a way to increase the existing offer when Nyquist bailed... I knew 6M wouldn't get it done and would've happily matched if given the chance.) I go back to Nyquist one more time, since he hasn't signed yet, but not sure what else I can do if he already rejected an offer AT his asking price.

On the 18th Karlsson signs. Four years, 9M per. We have a #1 defenseman!

On the 19th we lose Nyquist to Vancouver. A little disappointing -- would've liked to push Jesper Fast to the 3rd line -- but pass-fail, we accomplished our to 2 goals. And, I'm likely going to end up with $10M+ in cap space again. Argh!

ENDGAME
At this point, I'm looking for bodies for the minors who might have some room to grow -- some more Dominik Simons basically. So, guys in the age 22-25 range, decent scouting that says they have a chance to be Top 6/Top 4 starters, and hopefully reasonable salary demands (preferably a million or less, though if I found the Right Guy, I could go higher).

Looking around the league, I find the following guys to put offers on, and to cut to the chase, they all accept.
  • D Jake Dotchin (2 yr/1.75M) - the "Right Guy" I was willing to pay extra for
  • LW Oskar Sundqvist (1 yr/900k)
  • C Dominic Turgeon (1 yr/700k)
  • RW Michael McCarron (2 yr/750k)
  • G Ondrej Pavelec (1 yr/1.3M) -- OK, he doesn't fit the "young guys" motif, but for a starting-caliber goalie, he had ridiculous cheap salary demands. I figure he can be an upgrade on Halak as the backup goalie or a chip to trade later.

Ironically, Jordan Martinook also still fits the bill, but I can't. Bad memories, man.

There was also a half-hearted run at Patrick Sharp because he would've fit the bottom six, but it didn't go anywhere and he signed with Montreal.

ONE LAST LOOK AT THE TRADE BLOCK
I still feel a little guilty because have way too much money. I don't want to go right up to the cap, but I want to get a lot closer than I was last year. Looking at other team's trade blocks, I had a few ideas, one of which actually resulted in a trade.

CANDIDATE 1: Johnny Gaudreau. Calgary is going full rebuild and has Gaudreau on the block. He's kind of the perfect upgrade, and I love him in real life -- owning Gaudreau would make me happy on a more zen level -- but the asking price is through the roof and it would also suck up all my remaining cap space. I put Manny Greffe and my next two #1 picks in the deal just to see how it looked and and the bars said it MIGHT go through. I'm worried it would probably take Sbruev, and do I really want Gaudreau THAT much?

CANDIDATE 2: TJ Oshie. Washington is shopping T.J. Oshie, and it looks like Greffe could get it done straight up or close to it. May file that away as a potential all-in deadline deal.

CANDIDATE 3: David Backes. Boston looks like they're dumping salary has Backes on the block. Not as sexy as the first two names, but he's only a 1-year rental, and "backup goalie" is one of their needs. So I put Halak for Backes on the block and it's rejected, but fairly close. So I add parts -- expansion draft holdovers Gustav Olofsson and Curtis Lazar -- until they say yes.

TRADE: Firebirds trade G Jaroslav Halak, D Gustav Olofsson, and RW Curtis Lazar to Boston for C David Backes.

I think I'm done...

But it keeps picking at the back of my brain....

Ah, screw it...

TRADE: Firebirds trade C Manuel Greffe, RW Craig Smith, and their first round picks in 2020 and 2021 to Calgary for LW Johnny Gaudreau.

I decided to throw Smith in because it equalizes salary a little for this year and seems like a win-win. For the Flames, Smith is a starter-caliber player that will come off their books after the season. For me, it leaves me some cap room, and I can move Nail Yakupov up into a starting role. (Or maybe our #1 pick Filppula, though for the moment I assume he needs a year in the minors.)

Losing Greffe could be painful, and it'll be boring not having a first-rounder the next two seasons. But at the end of the day, it's Johnny F'ing Hockey. DO THE DEAL.

Last edited by PFellah; 01-18-2019 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:21 PM   #46
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Free Agency: Around The League

Signings through August 1. Anyone after that, I'm not going to worry about.

ATLANTIC
  • Atlanta: D Erik Karlsson (90), RW Blake Wheeler (89), D Jake Dotchin (82), G Ondrej Pavelec (82), LW Oskar Sundqvist (76), RW Michael McCarron (74), C Dominic Turgeon (74)
  • Boston: D Niklas Kronwall (79)
  • Buffalo: G Sergei Bobrovsky (91), D Dan Hamhuis (82), RW Leo Komarov (81), G Keith Kinkaid (81), C Jason Spezza (78), RW Drew Stafford (78)
  • Florida: D Niklas Hjalmarsson (84), D Nathan Beaulieu (80), RW K ris Versteeg (80)
  • Montreal: RW Jordan Eberle (85), LW Patrick Sharp (80)
  • Ottawa: RW Brian Gionta (75)

METRO
  • Carolina: G Marc-Andre Fleury (88), D Adam McQuaid (81), D Braydon Coburn (80), C Jacob Josefson (77)
  • Columbus: C Logan Couture (85), D Anton Stralman (84), LW Marcus Johansson (83), C Marcus Kruger (79)
  • New Jersey: C Tyler Seguin (90), LW Max Pacioretty (82)
  • New York Islanders: LW Carl Hagelin (80), D Deryk Engelland (79), LW Paul Byron (79), D Yannick Rathgeb (63)
  • New York Rangers: RW Justin Wiliams (82)
  • Philadelphia: D Tyler Myers (83), LW Scott Wilson (81), RW Tyler Ennis (77)
  • Pittsburgh: D Jay Bouwmeester (83)

CENTRAL
  • Chicago: G Anton Khubodin (82), D Mike Green (82), LW Thomas Vanek (81), LW Michael Raffl (78)
  • Colorado: D Nate Schmidt (83), LW Colin Wilson (81), C Charles Hudon (78), D Anton Lindholm (76)
  • Dallas: D Jake Gardiner (83), RW Jakob Silfverberg (83), LW Yanni Gourde (82), C Oscar Lindberg (81), D Jan Rutta (80), C Gemel Smith (78)
  • Detroit: G Mike Smith (86), RW Ryan Reaves (79)
  • Minnesota: C Derek Brassard (84)
  • Nashville: C Adam Henrique (85), D Ryan Ellis (84)
  • Winnipeg: LW Brendan Lemieux (79)

PACIFIC
  • Anaheim: LW Artemi Panarin (88), D Andrej Sustr (81), C Sean Kuraly (78), D Calle Sjalin (??)
  • Arizona: LW Anders Lee (84), LW James Van Riemsdyk (84), Nick Cousins (81), Robert Bortozzo (79)
  • Calgary: C Bryan Rust (79), RW Richard Panik (78)
  • Edmonton: G Pekka Rinne (88), D Dan Girardi (81), D Marc Methot (80), G Peter Budaj (78), RW Valentin Zykov (76)
  • Las Vegas: D Carl Gunnarsson (84), G Cam Talbot (83), D Ron Hainsey (80), LW Brandon Tanev (78)
  • Los Angeles: RW Mats Zuccarello (85), LW Rick Nash (82), C Pierrre-Edouard Bellemare (79)
  • San Jose: G Steve Mason (81), RW Jason Pominville (80), LW Barclay Goodrow (80), D Joakim Ryan (74)
  • Vancouver: D Drew Doughty (92), RW Gustav Nyquist (83)

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Old 01-18-2019, 11:29 PM   #47
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Some big moves across the leagu in Free Agency this off-season. Nice Pick ups with Eriksson, Wheeler & the Gaudreau trade. Should be a great season.
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Old 01-19-2019, 07:29 PM   #48
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Re: Third Time's The Charm(?) - Atlanta Firebirds

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeattleBattleCat
Some big moves across the leagu in Free Agency this off-season. Nice Pick ups with Eriksson, Wheeler & the Gaudreau trade. Should be a great season.
I actually forgot to check goalies on my first pass, so I whiffed on Bobrovsky to Buffalo, Fleury to Carolina, Pekka Rinne to Edmonton, and one or two others. So even MORE moves to process.
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