Monday, August 29, 2011

2012 Champions: The Mavericks Quest for the Cup Starts With Scoring

The Missouri Mavericks will win the Central Hockey League Championship this year.  No, they will.  Why?  Because they have bought all of the good players.  No, no, it's not what you're thinking.  It's not like the Yankees, Heat, or Eagles.  No, how childish of you.  But, yeah, it's totally kind of like that almost.  That's just what the good teams do.  Have good players that win games.

Jump to see how this will happen.

Having recently won the CHL's franchise of the year in 2010-11, the Mavericks are looking to add the Ray Miron President's Cup to their growing trophy case.  Now, it's easy to say that the team has been to the playoffs both of their years of existence, but we all know that's not really that impressive.  But, the Mavericks are looking to make it count this year by adding a little offense.

First, they signed forward Ed McGrane, recently off of a stint in Sweden.  McGrane joins the team with 512 points in 440 career games (1.16pts per game).  As the press release states, the biggest plus for McGrane is that he "played four full seasons with the CHL’s Colorado Eagles where he averaged 1.33 points per game and finished in the top ten in the CHL in scoring every season he was with the Eagles...(he) led the entire CHL with 44 goals during the 2009-10 season, his last season in the CHL."  He played in three championship series, winning the cup once.  He has also spent time in the ECHL and AHL.  Since losing 2010-11 point leader Nick Sirota and Todd Griffith who scored 25 points in 24 games, McGrane should be able to fill the role of a top six forward nicely.  Although there has no mention of last season's leading scorer Mike Berry resigning with the team, McGrane has the experience needed.  Plus, 45 goals in a season is more than 27 last time I checked.

But, it may not matter because they also signed last season's CHL leading scorer Sebastien (Sea Bass) Thinel.  He only had 110 points (35-75=110) last year, so, yeah.  He is also a CHL vet, spending all nine of his professional seasons with the now Junior A Odessa Jackalopes, acting as the captain last season.  "(He) has eclipsed 90 points in each of his last three seasons and has a total of 647 points ( 235-412=647) in 502 games played in the CHL...Thinel is a six-time CHL All-Star and two-time winner of the Joe Burton Award as the league’s scoring champion. He was awarded the CHL’s Most Valuable Player Award following the 2008-09 season when he led the league with 97 points and tied for the league lead with 38 goals."  So, he will probably help improve the 12th ranked powerplay (of 18 teams).  Odessa had the 5th best, scoring 19 more goals than the Mavericks.  He could fit well with McGrane, and with assist leaders Sirota and Toby LaFrance gone and a question mark respectively, maybe the two newbies will be forced to gel together.

Along with the announcement of Thinel's signing, the Mavs picked up former Calgary Flames fourth round pick Kris Hogg.  Only 25, he spent five years in the WHL, scoring 69 points (30-39=70) in his final season, and four years playing at Lakeland University.  He has lofty penalty minute totals (which could be a reason for his NHL demise), 495 minutes in the WHL, but at 5-11 180lbs, he will have to find a place in the top six, or maybe act as an energy guy on the third line.  Maybe the Chester the Terrier to Carlyle Lewis's Spike the Bulldog.

The Mavs add even more top sixers to the lineup with the signing of one familiar face and three new guys.  Derek Pallardy returns, and despite having his best pro season last year, may get shuffled to the bottom six depending on who returns.  But, at +13, he is a valuable source to have on a penalty kill that was ranked 2nd last year.  He won't take an obscene amount of penalties, an example of the depth and discipline of this team.  Plus, he knows coach Scott Hillman's system and knows the IEC ice well.

23 year old Matt Dias also joins the team straight from the Italian League where he averaged a goal per game.  A scorer first, he had 21 goals in 22 games in Italy, and was 90-88-178 during a four season, 258 game stint in the OHL.  At 5-11 195lbs, he fits a similar mold of guys recently joining the team to provide goal scoring.  As Hillman says, "We have been pursuing him for a few seasons and are very happy to have him joining the Mavericks,” which makes it appear he will fill multiple roles on the team.  Definitely look for him on the powerplay, definitely look for him in the top six in some way.

And finally, the Mavs also grabbed 5'11, 185lbs (!) Lachlan MacIntosh and 6-3 214 pound John-Scott (J.S.?) Dickinson who played together at the University of New Brunswick and won three CIS Championships.  MacIntosh, a points guy, went 38-57=95 while in school and 112-115-227 in 156 games in Tier II.  Maybe a top six, but with so much depth, he may get pushed to a very effective third line.  Dickinson has played at the AHL and ECHL levels.  He doesn't score much, but he will provide the size and physical presence Lewis already desperately provides...

The top nine could look something like this:

Lewis-Hogg-Nathan O'Nabigon/Dickinson

So, with a new look top six (potentially) this team can provide a little skill to go with the aggressive play of guys like Lewis, Cole Ruwe, and Mike Wakita.  Also, it's important to note that all defenders were positive in the plus/minus column except Dominic D'Amour who was -1 and is no longer on the team.  Take that!   Five have yet to be resigned, though.  Buy your season tickets now if you want to see the first Kansas City-area pro sports championship since the KC Sporting Wizards won in 2000.  Remember that?  No?  Oh.

Next up, a post on the goaltending situation that will only get better when they sign Michael Leighton or something ridiculous.

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