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Different goalie, different results?

Sep 23, 2017

Goaltending is a premium position in hockey.  At the final buzzer, no matter how well a team plays in front of him/her, if the goalie isn’t solid, a loss will be the outcome.  That’s why teams make every effort to have a high level tandem in between the pipes, and they’re willing to pay dearly for it.  This year there were some big names shifting about, mostly via free agency, but also through trade, and it stands to reason that the acquiring teams believe they improved at the position by making their transaction.  Let’s break it down:

Ben Bishop | TB to DAL | UFA – 6yrs | $29.5m | $4.92m/yr cap  Things certainly are bigger in Texas these days!  Ben Bishop comes in on a nice deal that will see him through to retirement.  Dallas desperately needed an upgrade over last year’s duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen.  Although blame for Dallas’ terrible season can’t be squarely excused away by blaming the Finnish red light re-treads, they weren’t singlehandedly winning any games either.

Bishop buys the team time to grow a prospect into a position to take over after the then 37-year old Bishop retires.  I see his injury history stopping him from playing beyond that.  Now, I believe the Stars would have been much better even without this move, but it won’t hurt them!  I believe the Stars are a top-3 team in the Western Conference this season, having made a fistful of significant additions (Bishop, Hanzal, Radulov).  Bishop won’t be winning any Vezinas, but he may enter the top-5 in voting!


Scott Darling | CHI to CAR | UFA – 4yrs | $16.6m | $4.15m/yr cap  The Hurricanes had a past-prime Cam Ward and a disaster aptly named Eddie Lack tending net for them last year.  Scott Darling earned his step up to a starting job in the NHL with repeatedly solid performances stepping in for Corey Crawford in Chicago.  This seems like almost a perfect fit!

Carolina will provide Darling with a pretty good, young defence, so he can ease into the heavier workload with a little more confidence.  Despite this addition, I believe Carolina will be a long way from making the playoffs, and think a better landing spot for Darling may have been the Arizona Coyotes, but alas, revisionist history…  Good value signing for the Canes, and a good start for Darling to showcase himself for his next big payday.


Mike Smith | Trade – ARI | 2yrs. rem. | $5.67m/yr cap  Calgary gave up a lot to acquire the veteran out of the desert.  Chad Johnson (who played well enough last season, but not elite starter level), prospect Brandon Hickey and a third-round pick (cond.) were the parts sent to Arizona, and Calgary thinks they have the missing piece to get them deep into the postseason.  I have a really hard time putting my finger on this one, because Arizona is one of the toughest teams to figure out.

You can bet that Smith will face fewer shots per game, which can be good or bad, depending on the goalie.  Dominik Hasek was lights-out when he faced 40+ in a game, but was fairly pedestrian when he was facing 20-25 per game in Detroit.  How will Smith be with one of the most airtight defences in the NHL in front of him?

My belief is that the expectations are too high, and that the Flames will be fighting for wild card positioning from the word “go”.  Smith won’t be the reason if they do end up in the playoffs, it will be improved scoring (should that happen).

GRADE: C- (I believe this is the most likely to be a non-difference-maker)

Marc-André Fleury | Drafted – VGK | 2yrs. rem. | $5.75m/yr cap  The Vegas Golden Knights actually have a very good goaltending duo in Fleury and Calvin Pickard.  Well drafted by GM George McPhee, Fleury will be the reason the Golden Knights win on most nights when they do.  Fleury wasn’t left exposed by Pittsburgh because he is not a good goalie.  He was left available because they had too much money tied up in Fleury to let him be their backup to upstart Matt Murray.  Vegas is not the worst team at this position by any stretch, and I think Fleury will have a very good year (skewed to the talent in front of him).



That’s all for now!



THN’s 2017-18 Season Preview: New York Rangers

Sep 23, 2017
The Rangers’ signing of Kevin Shattenkirk was one of the summer’s biggest splashes and followed it up with some roster shuffling. New York’s hope is that a busy off-season allows them to keep their window open.

The Hockey News is rolling out its 2017-18 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of Stanley Cup odds, until the start of the season. Today, the New York Rangers.

Stanley Cup odds: 24-1

Key additions: Kevin Shattenkirk, D; David Desharnais, C; Anthony DeAngelo, D; Ondrej Pavelec, G; Neal Pionk, D

Key departures: Derek Stepan, C; Oscar Lindberg, C; Antti Raanta, G; Dan Girardi, D; Kevin Klein, D


Is this Rick Nash’s final season on Broadway?

The veteran power forward is on the final year of a contract that carries a $7.8 million cap hit and a modified no-trade clause. With the Rangers in position to make another playoff run, there probably isn’t much fear in him being approached about a trade during the season, but whether Nash returns to New York in the future is obviously an important debate point.

By all accounts, the big sniper wants to remain in New York, but his performance this season will go a long way in determining whether it’s feasible from the Rangers’ point of view. Nash’s production has slowed down and considering he’s 33 with a lot of NHL miles on him, that’s not surprising. Possession numbers weren’t great last season either, so there is definitely all the motivation in the world for Nash to come back and make a splash in his contract year.

While the Rangers do have some nice young forwards pushing up on the roster (Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich, Lias Andersson), they also didn’t have a single player crack the 60-point mark last season. If Nash can somehow return to earlier form, he’ll help his team – and perhaps earn himself another run in Manhattan.

The last time we saw Henrik Lundqvist, he was backstopping Sweden to a gold medal at the World Championship, defeating Canada in a shootout. This was a good omen, assuming ‘Hank’ has recovered from William Nylander’s celebratory tackle. If Lundqvist can get back to his perch in the top echelon of NHL goalies, New York is in a great position. The Rangers landed the biggest free agent of the summer in puck-moving defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and, along with his own talents, he’ll help captain Ryan McDonagh unlock another level to his blueline game. With Brady Skjei and Nick Holden coming into their own, the Rangers have a very strong and diverse blueline, with veteran Marc Staal and Brendan Smith rounding things out. In short, New York will be tough to score on.

Up front, the Rangers have an array of weapons, led by Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash. If youngsters Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich can continue the trajectory they established as rookies, New York will give opponents all kinds of matchup problems thanks to its depth of talent.

The Rangers traded away Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona in the summer, and both moves could stagger the franchise. Lundqvist showed big cracks in his armor last season, and if that happens again, the team no longer has Raanta to clean up the mess. Is Ondrej Pavelec the answer as backup?  No. He was Winnipeg’s third-string goalie in a non-playoff year. In a division featuring the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Artemi Panarin, goaltending cannot be a weakness.

Losing Stepan also exposes a hole in the depth chart at center. Can Zibanejad take on enough responsibility to mitigate the departure of the two-way stalwart? The only pivot addition was David Desharnais, and he’s a depth guy at best. Perhaps Hayes and J.T. Miller can step into bigger roles, but again: there are some fantastic centers in the Metro, and New York can’t afford to be outgunned. The offense was dynamite last season – fourth overall – but did so by committee. No player hit 60 points, so the ceiling is low with this group. In a tough division, the Rangers could struggle to make the playoffs.

THN’s PREDICTION: 4th in the Metropolitan. The Rangers have enough talent to be one of the top-end teams in the division. Once they get to the playoffs, the fun really begins: can Lundqvist make one more magical run, or has that window closed?

Previously: Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Carolina Hurricanes | Colorado Avalanche | Detroit Red Wings | Florida Panthers | Los Angeles Kings | Montreal Canadiens |New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | Ottawa Senators | Philadelphia Flyers | San Jose Sharks | St. Louis Blues | Vancouver Canucks | Vegas Golden Knights | Winnipeg Jets 

From The Hockey News |


The 2017 NHL China Games

Okay, Mr. Bettman, what did we learn?  That travel for Western Conference teams is bad enough as it is without compounding it with random excursions to the Far East?  I can’t imagine how badly jetlagged the players will be upon their return back to North America, but I know I’m pooped from it all, and I only traveled a few hours to Victoria, BC!  Crossing the international date line to play meaningless hockey (although at a very meaningful time) doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment to me, and I think anyone who watched these two games would agree.  Now that the novelty is gone, I doubt I’ll stay or get up at past-midnight (PT) to watch any more of it should the league extend the initiative.

Mr. Bettman, while I understand the financial benefits of enticing the world’s most populated nation into becoming NHL fans, I believe you create the impression of being two-faced.  You are trying to make inroads with the hosts of the 2022 games in Beijing, while denying NHL participation this upcoming February in Korea.  Are you worried about the North, Mr. Commissioner?  Nuclear fallout from all those failed tests contaminating your players, who will then spread radiation throughout the ranks, destroying your precious league?  Really, explain the  mixed messages here…

With all due respect, Gary, if I can call you that, I’m not sure the Chinese were all that stoked about it anyway!  The first game, in Shanghai, was played in front of a reported 10,000+ people, which makes me think they counted a few spectators twice.  It was a smattering of fans comparable to what you see at a Canadian Junior game.  Not the worst, but certainly not overwhelming.  There was no bitching and moaning about not being able to get tickets!

The second game’s head count was reported as a sellout 15,000, which again is a generous count if you watched the game and saw all the empty seats (in all areas of the rink).  So, while I call BS on the attendance figures, I can also point to the overwhelmingly unenthusiastic looks on the crowd’s faces, unless the camera happened to fall on what I assume were either North American or European fans, just judging by appearance).  Even the cheerleaders made it look like an ordeal to be active participants in what was a nicely presented welcoming of NHL hockey.  The acqueil in China is always grand, but even this was somewhat subdued by contrast to the fanfare surrounding things like the world volleyball or ping-pong championships.

All this to say that I am not in support of growing the game in China this way.  Drop your dictatorial stance on the upcoming Olympics and I’ll consider the China experiment a fair (albeit misguided) attempt at establishing the NHL as China’s premier “Big 4” sports league for viewer consumption.  But, you can’t play these preseason games over there anymore!  I beseech you to stop the madness!  It’s gimmicky and counter-productive (split squads too, yeesh!) and I won’t watch any more of it.  Do it in the middle of the summer if you absolutely must, or wrap it into your World Cup tourney.  Nobody pays mind to that anyway, so it won’t interfere with the Occidental sleep schedule.

Gary, again, if I may call you that, somehow you manage to retain your Commission.  Despite all the idiotic things you’ve done along the way, I hate have to admit the NHL has grown in both size and strength under your leadership.  I can’t explain it!  So, I guess this is just a fancy way of giving you a heads up that I won’t be watching this junk any longer.

6:30am (PT)




Habs, Bruins, injuries…

Sep 21, 2017

There’s no secret that the Habs and B’s aren’t the best of franchise friends.  But during the preseason, where rosters are largely filled up with players who have yet to participate in the heated rivalry, so there should be expectations of a lower-impact game, right?  WRONG.

This week, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins squared off in Quebec City (to a shockingly only half sold-out crowd).  Boston had played the Red Wings on Tuesday.  The game in itself was not a violent affair, but that didn’t stop the pre-season injury count from rising by one more.

The casualties of these meaningless contests were Montreal’s defenceman Noah Juulsen and Boston’s Torey Krug.

Krug took a nasty puck to the face against the Wings on Tuesday, leaving him in a crumpled heap on the ice.  He will miss the rest of the preseason with a non-displaced fracture of the jaw.  He should be cleared to play when the regular season officially begins on the 4th of October.

Juulsen will miss the rest of camp and some extra time, as he is out for six weeks with a broken foot.  It is a shame, as he was on the fast track to making the big team after two seasons with Everett Silvertips of the WHL, where last season he tallied 12 goals and 12 assists in a career-low 49 games.

“We like the way he skates and his transition game,” [Claude] Julien told reporters after the game in Quebec City. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”

All of the injuries piling up in these meaningless games makes me question whether the NHL should reduce the number of games played, or perhaps add two games to each team’s regular season and wipe out the exhibition schedule altogether.

Speedy recovery to both players!



Hockey (Night?) In China

Nothing better to do at 4:30 am?  Tune in for some Vancouver Canucks hockey, live from Beijing!  The Los Angeles Kings face the ‘Nucks in the first game of an NHL awareness project hoping to promote the game in China, who has an active program encouraging the uptake of winter sports.

1.3 billion people.  That is a large market to try to tap into, and the NHL likely didn’t do itself a great service by withdrawing from the upcoming games in South Korea.  But, they are (in my opinion) basically committing to 2020, when China will be the host.

The Chinese are already attempting to grow their hockey program, called “Red Star “.  In games against more established Red Star gets pounded into the ground, but that might be set to change, as they are offering incentives to North American Chinese players who come over to play on their team and in their program.  Notably, their women’s program has already tried to make inroads by adding a team which will play in North America.  Not sure about the status of all that…

All in all, I think growing the game is always a good thing and this is no different, even if it is a communist country.  The new Soviet?  NAH…

Anyway, this game will feature some top-line players, as the Canucks already played the other half of their split-squad against the Flames earlier in the night.  I know Doughty is playing for the Kings as is Muzzin, but it’s early yet.  Oh, there’s Kopitar!

Anyway, it’s late, so I won’t get into this too much save to say it feels strange being up this early watching non-Olympic hockey.


  • In the earlier game, we saw some great play from Brock Boeser, who I think is an amazing prospect.  He has great instincts for a young defenceman, and can back it up with the skills to finish.  His goal tonight, while likely different against real NHL defencemen, was a thing of beauty, exhibiting great patience, a nose for open-ice, and the poised finish you see from the greats.

  • But the highlight of the night was a save by Calgary goalie, Jon Gillies.

  • The Ottawa Senators have lost center Colin White for 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist.  White looked like he was due to crack the opening night roster.
  • Jonathan Drouin made his long-awaited debut with the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, grabbing an assist.  He looked right at home.
  • Blues forward Alex Steen will miss the rest of training camp with a hand injury.  Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, also of the Blues, will have his leg injury re-evaluated in three weeks.  Finally, forward Zach Sanford will be out a good 4-6 months rehabbing a dislocated/separated shoulder.
  • Erik Cole signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trochek will miss some time with an injury.

Things I missed – catching up

Sep 18, 2017

I can only watch, read and write so much, so periodically I fall behind.  I’m sorry, but I do have some extra time coming up, so expect me to be posting up a heck of a lot more stuff and far more regularly.  Anyway, here’s what I think is important stuff that I have missed:

  • Bryan Little agrees to 6-year extension with Jets | I really think Bryan Little is a very over-looked and under-rated player.  He consistently puts up solid numbers and has been a solid leadership presence on what was once a very young Jets team.  From the Jets’ perspective, I think they know what they are paying for, and got reasonable value for their money here.  I believe a bit of it is a payment for past performance, but repaying loyalty is something I applaud.
  • David Pastrnak signs 6-year, $40 million deal with Bruins | Boston got great value here.  I am stunned that it took so long, as the Bruins had been offering pretty much this package from the very beginning.  Either way, they needed to get this done, as Pastrnak is their most gifted offensive talent and a complement to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.  Pastrnak’s camp showed class by accepting significantly less than the Leon Draisaitl numbers that had been bandied about in the press.  He’ll still get a shot a bigger money as a UFA while he’s still in peak playing years.
  • Clarke MacArthur fails medical test after concussion plagued seasons With the Ottawa Senators saying that they don’t know why he failed, some have suggested they are trying to bury him on injured reserve a la Joffrey Lupul.  I have a hard time believing that, as MacArthur has always been known as a good team guy, well liked and coach-friendly.  Hopefully he gets better soon.
  • Wild agree to terms with LW Foligno on 4-year, $11.5M deal | I think again, Minnesota got good value for an every occasion player who still has untapped upside.  Foligno is nothing flashy, but fits in well as a third line winger who can move up if needed.
  • Avalanche agree to 2-year deal with defenseman Nikita Zadorov | Second most urgent thing on Joe Sakic’s to-do list is now in the books.  This in no way impacts the much discussion Duchene situation.  Zadorov is one of those guys who I think could still bolt to Russia if he doesn’t see the Avalanche improving.  He is too good of a player to waste of a team being run into the ground by an incompetent GM.  This is really Sakic’s proving ground.  If he mishandles Zadorov, he will be removed as GM.  Write that down!
  • Wild, captain Mikko Koivu agree to 2-year, $11 million deal | I think Koivu’s on the down-slope of his career, but out of respect for their captain, they paid more in order to pay him for less years.  He will continue to be extended like this in perpetuity until he can play no longer.  It is a decent value extension for both sides, and I think the next one will be around the $4.5 million mark.

Well, that’s the important stuff.  I’ll be back to posting tomorrow, so until then, be safe and be sane!  Well, at least safe!



Panthers send Demers to Arizona for McGinn

Do the chainsaw!

Training camps are underway, and teams are starting to sort out what they have and what they still need.  Early into preseason, the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes made a deal they hope will help their fate in 2017-18’s quest for the Cup.

The Panthers have sent defenceman Jason Demers to the desert in exchange for left winger Jamie McGinn.

A native of Dorval, Que., the 29-year-old Demers appeared in 81 games for the Panthers a season ago, scoring nine times and adding 19 assists. Demers was heading into the second year of a five-year, $22.5 million deal signed with the Panthers in the summer of 2016. TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the Panthers will retain 12.5 per cent of Demers’ salary.

Demers has played in 504 career NHL games over eight seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Panthers.

McGinn, 29, joins his sixth organization. A veteran of nine NHL seasons, McGinn appeared in 72 games for the Coyotes last year, scoring nine times and adding eight assists.

A native of Fergus, Ont., McGinn has appeared in 522 NHL contests for the Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks and Coyotes.

He has two years remaining on his current deal.  I really don’t know what the Panthers are doing.  Starting with the unceremonious dumping of Jaromir Jagr, to the odd move of leaving a 30-goal scorer (Marchessault) exposed for the expansion draft, to cleaning house behind the bench and in the front office, to thinking that Jamie McGinn is going to provide more offence than even Demers!  I sincerely hope they are setting up for a major move (Duchene?) or something.

It seems like last season’s high expectations turned into such a let-down that the bar is now being buried in the sand.  

As for Arizona, I believe they won this deal in spades.  Demers isn’t flashy, but he outscored McGinn nine to eight, and that tells me all I need to know.  For some reason, the Panthers are eating 12.5% of the cap hit Demers has, which is a reasonable $4.5 million for another three seasons.  Looking at their depth chart, I’d say he slots in at the four or five position and I believe his salary is in line with players of the same role.


Monday Musings – Sept. 18/2017

Sep 18, 2017
Oh, it's in! Tyler Wong scores leading Vegas to a 9-4 win over Vancouver | Photo: The Province

First off, did anyone else overdose on lackluster pre-season hockey?  Thought so!  Anyway, at least we know there isn’t going to be a lockout or other form of work-stoppage, and real hockey is just around the corner!  That said, I won’t bore you with any real “game analysis” or the like, rather, let’s just peek at some highlights of the weekend.

So, Friday was pretty tame, with only anticipation of hockey to come.  Dialed in some TV pre-season shows, and generally had a stress-free day (well, after I got back from the hospital for a checkup).  Saturday is always hockey day in this Czech-Canadian household, so needless to say I was up at the crack of dawn, eager and ready to turn on the television and take in my heroine-like fix of the greatest game on ice!

The joke was on me, however, as I had completely forgotten that I had moved to the West coast, and that we were three hours behind the action.  Even though it was only 4:30am, it meant I would have to shuffle my viewing schedule to omit some soccer.  Not a big sacrifice, right?  DONE!  Now, come on time – please fly by and get me to my game of the day:  Vegas at Vancouver.

I had watched an almost complete Canucks team play against an almost complete Kings team the night before (not really worth going into much detail about it), and it was nothing but a parade to the penalty box, as the officials are apparently going to crack down hard on faceoff infractions and stick taps around the hands (slashing?).  The players, apparently, had not been properly informed or instructed or even told what the criteria for the call would be, and thus ended up really giving both coaching staffs a chance to view what might well end up being 8th liners at best.

But this would be different, right?  Because it’s the first opportunity to see what the motley assortment Vegas GM George McPhee cobbled together in Sin City.  To see how many defencemen one team could actually ice in a given game!  So many new things!

It went pretty much as expected.

17 total power plays were called, and I would estimate about 65% of infractions would not have been called last season.  The penalties were evenly doled out, with Vegas enjoying nine man-advantage situation’s to Vancouver’s eight.  The Golden Knights converted three times, while the Canucks potted two.

The standout players were all on Vegas, as part of the Canucks was likely either packing or on their way to China (Boeser was good, with a goal and an assist, Jordan Subban was also solid).  The biggest notable was likely Tyler Wong, an undrafted right winger, who is a tad undersized but very determined.  He scored three goals and added a helper, but his tenacity and nose for the puck…  The drive he showed (and the scoring touch) make me believe he has very good chance of breaking camp with the big club.

Another player who really showed some promise was right winger Tomas Hyka, who was drafted in 2012 by the Kings in the sixth round.  He had a previous sniff in North America, but never found traction, went back to Europe to develop, and now wants back in to the NHL.  I think Vegas presents just the perfect opportunity for him to play useful minutes, and entrench himself into a full-time NHL job.

Finally, only because I could blurb a bit about everyone which would be painfully uninteresting, Cody Glass is someone who is a high-risk/high-reward player that I think will emerge a masterstroke for McPhee.  If he ever fills out his 6-foot-2 frame, he has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of this franchise moving forward.  Great skating ability, good view of the game and smart decisions was all I saw from him.  Scrappy, if not feisty at times during the game, we can only hope he develops into at least a second line center.

The game was borderline hockey, but it did the trick in terms of hearing the commentary, the arena sounds, the fans…  At least you wouldn’t get looked at funny if you called it hockey in public.

Duh – Golden Knights win 9-4.

Sunday is always awkward, with football being another household religious affair.

Football won out the day (CFL first, then NFL), so I won’t bore you with anything but the fantastic news that the Falcons beat the Packers!

Monday is still going on, and I’m watching the “Battle Of Ontario“, part 0.1 (pre-season notation).

The Senators look really good, despite missing captain and defenceman supremo, Erik Karlsson, who is now expected to be out until possibly late November, early December.  All eyes are on 20-year old defensive stud prospect Thomas Chabot, who looks solid, but unspectacular on a pairing with Dion Phaneuf.  I think the reality is that Phaneuf is simply not the right fit, and we won’t be able to properly evaluate Chabot’s immediate role on the team until we see him with Karlsson.  Shame that it won’t be until later in the season.

Among forwards, Mike Hoffman looked like he’s ready to go, with two nice goals.  He had a comedic moment that you hope is only a preseason thing though…  (Not posted to youtube yet, will update hopefully!)

The Leafs don’t look quite right, although they are icing a deep forward corps.  Curtis McElhinney was a sieve, and is now in peril of losing the backup job to Garrett Sparks, who didn’t look much better.  But this team isn’t going anywhere if Frederik Andersen goes down for any length of time.

Matthews seems like he’ll pick up where he left off last season, and I believe he will benefit from Patrick Marleau‘s presence on the powerplay, where he scored an astonishingly low eight goals last season.  The rest of the contingent looks impressive, and I believe the Leafs may well win their division this season.

The Senators, once fully configured, will have a slight setback from last season.  It is just my belief, but when a team over-achieves one season, they often come crashing back to EArth the following year, and that involves cratering – i.e going further down than the surface.

Anyways, one last thing to touch on is Joffrey Lupul‘s Instagram post insinuating that the Leafs are cheating the cap system by keeping him (and others in the same boat) buried on Injury Reserve, while he has declared himself fit to play.

First off, if he’s fit to play, he can go get that confirmed by his own doctor, and apply for reinstatement.  Secondly, he should stop accepting paycheques to make a point.  He wants to play, not just be paid.  The Leafs, of course, don’t want his ridiculous contract on the books, in case they need to fill up at the trade deadline.  $5.25 million is a deadline-type budget, so unless the Leafs can find a trade partner (Duchene?), Lupul should quit his bitchin’ and not make things worse for the NHL.  You can’t have this type of discussion publicly as it detracts from both sides.  First, the Leafs aren’t going to accommodate a trouble-maker.  Do Lamoriello and Babcock strike anyone as the type of men who respond well to allegations of improper behaviour in the pubic eye?  Me neither!

Secondly, Lupul is a veteran, and as such should know the basics of the business.  If you want to be traded, make yourself an attractive commodity.  Lupul’s actions do not accomplish that at all, again because teams don’t want to be part of the court of public opinion when it comes to cheating or circumventing the rules.

Next time slam a cheeseburger in your cyber mouth Joffrey!

See you all again next Monday!  Enjoy your week!



Prospect Victor Mete opening eyes at Canadiens camp

Sep 16, 2017

BROSSARD, Que.— The whistle blows and Victor Mete pivots backwards, collects the puck, turns 180 degrees on a dime and fires a cross-ice bank pass off the boards to Max Pacioretty to start a 3-on-2 rush drill. In another sequence, he straddles the blue line at full speed, playing pitch and catch with his defence partner before taking a one-timer, and then he sneaks down into the crease and finishes off another pass—this one into the opposing corner of Michael McNiven’s net.

On breakout drills, Mete’s motoring, his skates crossing over frenetically as he transitions the puck efficiently to the forwards. On break-ins, when the puck’s coming towards him, he’s well-positioned to defend the rush, punching his stick into the passing lanes, his head swivelling to ensure he’s marked his opponents.

Two days into Montreal Canadiens camp, the 19-year-old defenceman from Woodbridge, Ont., who has shown considerable improvement in each of his three seasons with the OHL’s London Knights, is offering everyone in attendance a glimpse of why he’s become one of the team’s most intriguing prospects. He has an NHL skating stride, makes confident decisions with the puck, and he hasn’t looked remotely out of place on a pairing with superstar Shea Weber.

It’s not a stretch to say that there isn’t another defenceman in attendance at this camp that fits Mete’s profile, and therein lies the rub. While this kid may very well prove over the next three weeks that he’s prepared to be an NHL-calibre player, the chances that he’s prepared to log over 20 minutes a night, play in all situations and play against the best opposing forwards on every shift—as he’d have to do as Weber’s partner—are astronomical.

“It’s really good to play with him for the reason of being able to compete against top guys on other teams and see how I can do against them,” said Mete after Saturday’s workout.

But no simulation—not an intra-squad scrimmage like the Canadiens will have on Sunday, or an exhibition game like they’ll have on Monday—will give Mete a true sense of what that challenge will resemble when the puck drops on the regular season and the games begin to matter. And while Canadiens coach Claude Julien said after the team’s first on-ice session Friday that you always want to evaluate a player by putting him in a position where you can best evaluate him, it seems apparent that part of the reason Mete’s stationed where he currently is has to do with the fact that his skills fit well (probably better than anyone else’s) with what Weber brings to the table.

“Ideally, if you had a player who’s a puck carrier, that’s always nice to pair with a guy like Shea, who’s capable of moving the puck well and is capable of being so reliable that his partner won’t be scared to start the rush because he knows Shea is there,” said Julien.

Mete might be the Canadiens’ best fit to skate alongside Shea Weber. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

You look at David Schlemko, who the Canadiens acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights, and it’s hard to say he fits that description—even if his advanced statistics suggest he’s a reliable puck mover. Ditto for Karl Alzner, who signed as a free agent and will likely serve as a defensive anchor for the more offensive Jeff Petry.

Joe Morrow was signed to be a depth puck mover and is currently practising alongside Brandon Davidson. Both of them appear to be on the fringe of the roster.

Eric Gelinas is on a tryout and is currently paired up with Zach Redmond, who spent the majority of last season as a member of Montreal’s AHL affiliate. And Jakub Jerabek, a prolific offensive defenceman who signed out of the KHL this summer, has also been paired with an AHL regular in Brett Lernout.

And while Mark Streit was signed to show he can still be a valuable contributor at this level, it would be inconceivable that his 39-year-old body could handle the rigours of being a top-pairing defenceman on a nightly basis. That’s probably why he’s started camp on what most have presumed would be the team’s third pairing, alongside Jordie Benn.

“We want to see different players play with [Weber] and we’ll go with the best combination,” said Julien.

When Weber was asked on Saturday who the ideal fit would be, he smirked and said, “Bobby Orr.”

Ryan Dixon and Rory Boylen go deep on pucks with a mix of facts and fun, leaning on a varied group of hockey voices to give their take on the country’s most beloved game.

Picking arguably the greatest defenceman to ever play the game is obviously a comment made in jest, but in picking Orr, who was known for his explosive skating and his elite and unique decision-making ability, Weber reveals that he’s well aware of what made his previous partnership with Nashville’s Roman Josi such a success.

He can see how Mete could be a fit.

“He’s good,” said Weber. “I didn’t realize how young he was. He’s really good with the puck, he’s mobile, and at that age it’s pretty good. I thought he was older than he was. For him to be that young, he should have a good career ahead of him.”

Perhaps it’ll start sooner than anyone expected.

But if Mete isn’t ready for all that comes with playing as Weber’s partner, it seems clear the Canadiens are going to have to find someone with a similar profile who can handle that duty. And even though they have $8.4 million available to spend under the salary cap, they have no guarantees such a player will be available anytime soon. |


Penguins sign forward Jordy Bellerive to entry-level deal

Sep 16, 2017

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Jordy Bellerive to a three-year, entry-level deal, the team announced on Saturday.

The 18-year-old led the Penguins at the 2017 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo with four goals and three assists in the three games, including a hat trick against the New Jersey Devils.

The five-foot-10, 194-pound native of North Vancouver, B.C., put up a combined 92 points in the last two seasons with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, including 27 goals in 2016-17. Bellerive contributed 14 points in 20 games during Lethbridge’s run to the 2017 WHL championship.

September 16, 2017


Takeaways:  The Penguins have a few holes to fill, especially the third line center not sure this does anything to address that, but may as well give your prospects a sniff of the big leagues, if only for nine games.  The reality is that it is an entry-level deal with no guarantee of making the team, but it does start the contract ticking.

Jordy Bellerive


AGE: 18


3 Years


Entry-Level Deal




N/A |

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