Lets take a look at a number of items I see around the NHL.
The New York Islanders are off to a much needed strong start with a record of 6-2-0 and are in 1st place of the Metro division. The Islanders play the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow night (Tuesday Oct 28th) at home and then go on a tough 5 game West Coast swing. The Isles go to Colorado, San Jose, Anaheim, LA & Arizona). Be interesting to see where the Islanders are at after that trip. Having said that the Islanders early schedule has been tough in it’s own right. They have already played the Rangers, Sharks, Penguins, Bruins and Stars. The Islanders are 4-1-0 in those games.
Big opportunity for the New York Rangers starting tonight at home (Monday October 27th) at MSG versus the Minnesota Wild. Tonight starts a stretch where the Rangers play 9 of their next 11 games at home.
It appears the two worst teams by a country mile this year are Carolina and Buffalo. But due to the new NHL lottery rules for the upcoming 2015 NHL draft there is only a 33.5% percent chance that if both teams finish with the two worst records will pick 1 & 2 in the draft. Which translates to (assuming they will finish with the two worst records) that most likely only one of Conor McDavid and Jack Eichel will wear one of these two team sweaters. Continue reading
GM Chuck Fletcher has had some busy offseasons the last couple of years. He made a big splash by signing Parise and Suter a couple of years ago. He made another splash this offseason by signing Thomas Vanek. GM Chuck Fletcher knows superstars can’t bring home the cup alone. Every team needs a core of young talent and a group of role players to become a Stanley Cup contender. Fletcher loves the young talent the Wild have on their team right now and lately has been rewarding them with new contracts, more money, and establishing the Minnesota Wild as a quality team that will be talented for many years to come.
The Minnesota Wild have gained superior talent throughout the drafting process and by executing trades to add players that fit the Minnesota Wild ways of winning. The young talent for the Wild may not get all the attention from the media but they are getting recognized by the coaching staff and the front office. The young guns Niederreiter, Kuemper, Brodin, and most recently Coyle, have all been rewarded with new contract extensions.
The signing for the youngsters started with the Switzerland native, Nino Niederreiter. The Wild signed Nino in Sept. to a three year extension worth 8 million dollars. The Wild got Nino from the New York Islander. They traded fan favorite Cal Clutterbuck for Nino but I think Wild fans forgot about Clutterbuck quickly after Nino’s game winning goal against Colorado last year in the playoffs. Finding Nino niche has become a reality, the Islanders couldn’t do it but the Wild sure have.
With all the goalie problems the Wild had last season, they needed to get a deal done with their goalie of the future, Darcy Kuemper. In mid-September, GM Fletcher got the deal done. Continue reading
A look at what’s happening in the world’s best Jr. hockey league, the OHL.
Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome are 1-2 in the league in points through 10 games. That is hardly a surprise to anybody, McDavid is likely going to be the #1 selection in the 2015 NHL Draft and Strome will probably end up in the top 5 too. However, the leading goal scorer for the Erie Otters is an American rookie Alex DeBrincat. When DeBrincat decommitted from U-Mass, there were definitely some doubters. It’s not like DeBrincat was a top 10 recruit, or top 30 for that matter. Wouldn’t his career be better served by spending four years developing in the NCAA? Apparently not ! DeBrincat has 13 goals and 6 assists for 19 points in 10 games played.
For those of you not familair with DeBrincat (97′), he’s an undersized (5’7-160) speedy, skilled center who came up with the Victory Honda (Michigan) program. Last season he played for Lake Forest Academy where he had 54 goals and 57 assists for 111 points in 50 games. Great stats for sure, but Lake Forest Academy isn’t a very well known program and the competition is “eh”. DeBrincat wasn’t ever drafted by an OHL team. He committed to U-Mass as a 16 year old in 2013.
DeBrincat isn’t the only American off to a hot start in the OHL this year. Cole Cassels(95′) son of Andrew and a Vancouver Canucks draftee (round 3/85) is fourth in the OHL in points with 4-18-22 points in 10 games. Continue reading
The NHL, as a league, has a bright future. They have stars like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos, shining bright and making the game of hockey fun to watch but the future of the NHL is even brighter. Young stars are taking the hockey world by storm. There are stars that are 20 and under that are making noise and making their case on becoming the NHL’s next superstar. Here are my top 8 players in the NHL, who are 20 and under
- Nathan MacKinnon #29 Center Colorado Avalanche 19 years old
MacKinnon was the number one overall draft pick in the 2013 entry-level draft. The Halifax native, played his junior hockey with the Halifax Mooseheads and had 77 points in 44 games before getting drafted in 2013. All he did in his rookie campaign in the NHL was score 24 goals and have 39 assists on his way to winning the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. The Avs have so much faith in MacKinnon that they got rid of Paul Stastny and moved MacKinnon back to his natural position of center. The Avs are asking a lot from this 19 year old but it is nothing he can’t handle. This kid has extraordinary talent and could be the next face of the NHL.
2014 Stats: 7 GP 0 G 3 A
- Olli Maatta #3 Defensemen Pittsburgh Penguins 20 years old
The 2012, 22nd overall draft pick has taken the NHL by surprise. Maatta was supposed to develop a little more before becoming such an impact player but he has been magnificent for the Penguins, as they have been struggling to deal with injuries on their blueline. Maatta made the best of his opportunity in 2013 playing in 78 games, scoring 8 goals, and adding 20 assists, in his rookie year. The Finland native also participated in the Sochi Olympics and had 5 points for team Finland. The Penguins will look for Maatta to contribute more minutes in 2014, with departure of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.
2014 Stats: 4 GP 0 G 3 A
- Valeri Nichushkin #43 Right Winger Dallas Stars 19 years old
Every week to 10 days I will do an article called Around the NHL. I cover numerous items going on in the NHL as well as my thoughts on then matter. With that being said let’s get this party started.
New deals for Calgary‘s defenseman TJ Brodie (5 yrs 23+ Mil) & Kings D-Man Jake Muzzin (5 yrs 20 Mil) accentuates the point that the NHL Player salaries are rising at a much faster rate than the NHL salary cap. As long as this trend continues you will see more teams against the cap lose really good players as cap casualties, as we saw with the Bruins in Johnny Boychuk and the Blackhawks with Nick Leddy.
It is abundantly clear that 1st round draft picks for the upcoming 2015 NHL draft are being treated like gold. If a team at this point and time is willing to surrender their 1st round pick, it will be because they think they can win the cup and land a difference maker.
It’s the worst kept secret it seems that the Oilers are shopping Nail Yakupov. It seems to me the Oilers should try and get Yakupov game and confidence back otherwise they will be selling him for 50 cents on the dollar. Remember he just turned 21 and was the #1 overall pick for a reason. The kid has a lot of talent. Continue reading