Category: Charles Packard

Chip Packard on the biggest NHL stories of the offseason

After an impressive and unexpected, yet ultimately unsuccessful Stanley Cup playoffs for the New York Islanders, players have traded in their sticks for golf clubs. While the offseason usually brings up social media posts from the golf course, the pool, orsimply hanging with family, front office action behind the scenes provides the drama needed to sustain fans until the next whistle blows in October. Chip Packard highlights the trades, transactions, and stories getting the most attention from fans all over the league.

‌‌The Expansion Draft

The newly minted Seattle Kraken take the ice this fall, so they spent the offseason making moves — notably, the expansion draft in July. Although most of the team-building strategy seemed to center around building depth, some key players will find themselves sporting Kraken sweaters this fall. Familiar faces include Calgary’s Mark Giordano and the Isles’ Jordan Eberle. The team also poached Yanni Gourde from the Stanley Cup champs, who scored an impressive 80 goals last season.

Vezina Trophy Finalists Traded

The Golden Knights’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and the Avalanche’s Philipp Grubauer may have been named finalists for the Vezina Trophy (which Fleury won), but that wasn’t enough to keep either of them in their respective clubs. Fleury is headed to the Chicago Blackhawks, shocking the hockey world after his stellar performance in the playoffs. Grubauer will now be playing between the pipes of the Seattle Kraken.

The Blue Jackets Suffer a Tragedy

Hockey fans were shocked and saddened when Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was killed in an accident on the Fourth of July. The Latvian hockey player was relatively new to the NHL, but had an impressive record in international play as part of team Latvia. His former teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois will reportedly change his number this season to honor his late friend.

The Isles Scored Raty in the Second Round

Once considered a potential top pick for the 2021 draft, AatuRaty was still available in the second round. With the 52nd pick of the draft, the Islanders picked up the young Finn. Despite showing promise, Raty struggled last year playing center for a professional league in Finland. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello likely still sees potential.

Dougie Hamilton Heads to the Devils

Known as one of the best available free agents of the 2021 offseason, several teams were vying for Dougie Hamilton. Ultimately, he signed with the New Jersey Devils. Hamilton joins P.K. Subban and fellow Devils newcomer Ryan Graves on New Jersey’s defense.

The Devils have been building their core around young, upcoming players, and Hamilton was signed to boost the defense and to help develop these players. He seems like a good fit, but we’ll know when the 2021-2022 puck drops.

‌‌It’s been an offseason full of expected and unexpected trades, highlighted by a new team. Will Seattle prove to be a manufactured dream team like the Golden Knights in their inaugural season? Will Aatu Raty help the Islanders reach the Stanley Cup Finals? These questions and more will be answered in two short months. 

Chip Packard Discusses His Thoughts on The Rest of the AFC West

The AFC West has seen many changes in the 2020 offseason — the Kansas City Chiefs are the returning champs and have made few changes, while the other teams have tried to answer various questions on both sides of the ball. But, will this be the year that they see competition for the divisional crown?

Chip Packard, a lifelong Las Vegas Raiders fan, thinks there are several factors that could see at least one team challenge the Chiefs or compete for a wildcard spot.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Everybody Else

The high-powered Chiefs are led by the MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes and bring a number of weapons back on both sides of the ball. They went 14-2 in 2020 and brought in free agents to help strengthen the offensive line. The rest of the division has been trying to play catch-up but with mixed results.

Chip Packard noted that the Chargers became the most entertaining team in Los Angeles, in large part due to the breakout performance of the rookie phenom Justin Herbert. This Oregon Duck quarterback made few mistakes as he entered the pro game, and the Chargers’ defense all played a key role in its success. In 2021, special teams will have to improve — they were the worst in the league in punting.

The Broncos have struggled since John Elway led them to two Super Bowls at the turn of the millennium. Outside of a few years from Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning, they have struggled to find consistent quarterback play. This year may feature more of the same — with the possible battle between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater exciting few fans.

Whither the Las Vegas Raiders This Year?

A lot of what we can expect to see this year will depend on how the Raiders progress compared to the Los Angeles Chargers.

A new defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley should see improvement on that side of the ball. The results will likely come based on Derek Carr’s ability to run Jon Gruden’s offense, with a special focus on deep threats like Henry Ruggs and new addition to the running game Kenyan Drake.

If the offense can gel together, then it’s possible for the Raiders to improve and put in a winning record in 2021. However, the upper limit of the team’s performance seems to continue to be the quarterback and the play-caller. It remains to be seen if Gruden and Carr can find a higher gear together.

Final Thoughts on the AFC West

The Kansas City Chiefs are the heavy favorites for good reason: they have shored up the areas where they were weakest and return a roster that helped them to the best record in the NFL last year and a Super Bowl berth.

We saw Justin Herbert explode onto the stage with the Chargers, but being consistent in all three phases will be critical for them. The Raiders have the talent to succeed but need consistency from their stars. Packard expects the Broncos to continue to have difficulties putting together wins.