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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose close one to Wild on home ice, 3-2

Two quick power play goals on a 5-on-3 advantage turned Thursday night’s action 180-degrees in favor of the Minnesota Wild in their eventual, 3-2, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Wild goaltender, Kaapo Kähkönen (5-2-1, 2.60 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in nine games played) made 36 saves on 38 shots against in the win.

Boston netminder, Jeremy Swayman (8-6-2, 2.26 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 16 games played) turned aside 27 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 17-11-2 (36 points) overall, but remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the 2nd wild card in Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Minnesota improved to 20-10-2 (42 points) on the season and in control of the 1st wild card in the Western Conference, while sitting in 4th place in the Central Division (behind the Colorado Avalanche only in tiebreaker, as the Avs have four more regulation wins than the Wild).

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Tomáš Nosek (COVID protocol) and Charlie McAvoy (lower body) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask signed a PTO (player training operative) with the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday in an attempt to play at least one game before signing an NHL deal with Boston and returning to action after rehabbing offseason hip surgery.

Providence’s weekend matchups against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were postponed, which could put a wrench in Rask’s return to Boston plans if the B’s aren’t quite ready to go with three goaltenders for the time being.

That said, they did recall and assign Urho Vaakanainen, Steven Fogarty and Troy Grosenick from Providence to the taxi squad– the latter being a goaltender ahead of Thursday night’s loss to Minnesota.

With McAvoy and Nosek out of the lineup, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor tweaks to his lines and defensive pairings.

John Moore returned to action alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the first pairing, while Trent Frederic went from playing wing to centering the fourth line in place of Nosek with Anton Blidh in his usual role at left wing.

Vaakanainen, Fogarty and Grosenick served as healthy scratches on the taxi squad against the Wild.

Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi made their National Hockey League debuts for the Wild, while defender, Jonas Brodin returned to Minnesota’s lineup after a stint in the league’s COVID protocol.

Less than half a minute into the action, Mike Reilly tripped up Rossi and cut a rut to the box– presenting the Wild with the first power play of the game 23 seconds into the first period.

Minnesota failed to convert on their first skater advantage of the night, but it wouldn’t be long before Boston’s undisciplined play came back to bite them.

Early in the action, Kevin Fiala slashed Brad Marchand before Matt Dumba hooked David Pastrnak while falling and attempting to clear the crease as the Bruins forward crashed the net.

Boston went on a 5-on-3 advantage at 4:36, but couldn’t muster anything past Kähkönen before Patrice Bergeron tripped Frederick Gaudreau at 6:11– yielding a 4-on-3 power play for the Bruins for about 26 seconds before the Wild earned an abbreviated advantage.

It didn’t take the B’s long to capitalize on all of the open ice as Erik Haula worked the puck back to Reilly in the high slot diamond formation prior to feeding Taylor Hall (7) with a perfect pass for a one-timer power-play goal off of Brodin’s leg and through Kähkönen’s five-hole.

Reilly (4) and Haula (6) tallied the assists as Hall’s goal put Boston on top, 1-0, at 6:35 of the third period.

The Bruins managed to escape Bergeron’s minor unscathed thereafter.

Late in the period, however, the tides began to turn as a surge in momentum featured dominant possession and rising shot totals for Minnesota.

As the Bruins trailed the play, Marchand yielded a holding infraction, while Brandon Carlo interfered with Mats Zuccarello at 14:49.

The Wild went on a two-skater advantage and didn’t waste time on the 5-on-3 power play– capitalizing on both opportunities they were presented with.

First, Zuccarello sent a pass through the slot to Kirill Kaprizov (14) for a one-timer blast on the power play reminiscent of Washington Capitals forward, Alex Ovechkin, or even Pastrnak’s craft.

Zuccarello (18) and Fiala (15) were credited with the assists on Kaprizov’s power-play goal that knotted things up, 1-1, at 15:25 of the first period.

About a minute later, Nico Sturm (6) deflected a shot from the point by Brodin as Connor Dewar and other traffic screened Swayman.

Sturm’s deflection rose over Swayman’s glove side and put the Wild ahead, 2-1, at 16:48 of the first period.

Brodin (12) and Dewar (1) recorded the assists. Dewar’s secondary assist marked his first career NHL point in the process.

Late in the period, after a stoppage in play Kaprizov and Blidh got into a bit of a shoving match– exchanging pleasantries and picking up roughing minors– while Trent Frederic tried to engage Zuccarello before pulling Zuccarello’s helmet off and yielding an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

Minnesota, as a result, went on the power play at 18:12 of the first period and would start the middle frame on the skater advantage as the special teams action blended through the first intermission.

After one period, the Wild led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Minnesota also held the advantage in hits (13-10), while Boston led in blocked shots (2-0), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).

Both teams managed to have one giveaway each entering the first intermission, while the Wild were 2/5 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2.

Alex Goligoski picked up an interference infraction at 4:27 of the second period, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside without tying things up.

Midway through the period, Kaprizov tried to free the puck from near the boards out of his own zone before bumping into Grzelcyk, causing Kaprizov to fall into a vulnerable position before Frederic came along and made a check that was a bit too strong to cash.

Kaprizov crashed into the boards awkwardly and skated off with the help of a trainer while his right arm remained pretty limp. He would not return for the night with an upper body injury, as the Wild PR team later tweeted.

Frederic was assessed a boarding minor (that Craig Smith ended up serving) and a five-minute major for fighting as Dmitry Kulikov stood up for his fallen teammate and exchanged fisticuffs in what was Boston’s seventh fighting major of the 2021-22 season.

The Bruins’ penalty kill stood tall until they were caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Marcus Foligno and Boldy played a little catch as Boldy (1) dished the puck to Foligno entering the zone before receiving a pass back and burying a shot on Swayman’s blocker side to extend Minnesota’s lead.

Foligno (8) and Brodin (13) tallied the assists on Boldy’s first career NHL goal with lots of family and former Boston College teammates in attendance at TD Garden.

The Wild led, 3-1, at 12:26 of the second period as a result.

Less than a minute later, Bergeron made his way to the box for the second time in the game– this time for interference at 13:03.

Shortly after Minnesota’s power play came to an end, however, the Wild ended up shorthanded as Dumba caught Reilly without the puck and picked up an interference minor of his own at 15:10.

This time, the Bruins capitalized on the ensuing power play.

Marchand sent a shot attempt towards the net that was blocked before the B’s continued to work the puck around the attacking zone.

Suddenly, Bergeron made a no-look pass from the slot to where he expected Marchand to be and Marchand (12) buried a one-timer from the dot to bring Boston to within one goal.

Bergeron (14) and Grzelcyk (7) nabbed the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 15:35 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, the Wild led on the road, 3-2, and held an advantage in shots on goal, 24-21, despite trailing, 11-10, in the second period alone.

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (6-2), hits (25-16) and faceoff win% (58-42), while both teams had four takeaways and three giveaways each.

Minnesota was 2/7 on the power play and Boston was 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

After injuring Kaprizov and drawing the ire of the Wild, Frederic had to confront Minnesota’s Foligno brother in an exchange of fisticuffs at 1:12 of the third period.

The trouble is that Frederic couldn’t help himself in making his case any easier for him as he also drew a high sticking minor in addition to the five-minute major– totaling minutes in penalties on Thursday.

It was the second fight of the night and decisively shorted than the first with Foligno getting the takedown and five minutes worth of a fighting major of his own.

Minnesota’s ensuing power play was cut short when Rossi tripped Carlo at 1:24, but Boston couldn’t score during the ensuing abbreviated power play.

In fact, neither team could put one up on the scoreboard in the third period as time ticked away, Cassidy pulled his goaltender with about 1:28 to go, used his timeout after a stoppage with 1:23 remaining, then the final horn sounded– signaling a Wild victory.

Minnesota won, 3-2, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-30, as Boston amassed a, 17-6 advantage in shots in the third period alone.

The Wild exited TD Garden leading in blocked shots (10-9), while the B’s left their own building with the advantage in giveaways (7-5), hits (33-23) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Minnesota finished the night 2/8 on the power play, while Boston went 2/5 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins dropped to 11-5-0 (5-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 3-6-1 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 3-8-2 (3-4-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Wild improved to 7-8-1 (3-5-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 13-0-1 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 12-0-1 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for a quick two-game trip through Tampa, Florida against the Lightning on Saturday and Washington, D.C. against the Capitals next Monday (Jan. 10th). 

Boston will return home to host the Montréal Canadiens in a game that was originally slated to be at Bell Centre prior to the rise of the Omicron variant prompting the NHL to move up Boston and Montréal’s March 21st game scheduled at TD Garden to Jan. 12th– kicking off a seven-game homestand for the B’s as a result.

Tickets for March 21st will be honored on Jan. 12th and the original game that was slated to be in Montréal is postponed to a later date (TBA).

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Battle of the behemoths in the West set after Vegas downs Wild, 6-2, in Game 7

For the first time in Las Vegas, T-Mobile Arena played host to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2021 First Round matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild did not disappoint.

Both teams swapped chances early and often before the Golden Knights pulled ahead in the second period and did not look back in their, 6-2, victory over the Wild to clinch the series 4-3 and advance to a Second Round matchup with the 2020-21 Presidents’ Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche.

Trade deadline acquisition, Mattias Janmark, notched a hat trick in the series clinching game, while Marc-Andre Fleury (4-3, 1.71 goals-against average, .931 save percentage in seven games played) made 18 saves on 20 shots against in the win for the Golden Knights.

Cam Talbot (3-4, 2.45 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in seven games played) stopped 28 out of 33 shots faced in the loss for the Wild.

Vegas was without Brayden McNabb (COVID protocol) on Friday, while Max Pacioretty made his series debut after missing some time due to injury.

The Golden Knights improved to 2-1 all time in Game 7s, while the Wild fell to 3-1 overall in Game 7s. Minnesota has never hosted a Game 7 on home ice.

Vegas head coach, Peter DeBoer, improved to 6-0 in Game 7s in his National Hockey League career behind the bench.

Friday night also marked the first Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens heading to a Game 6 in the only remaining First Round series, leaving the door open for another Game 7 on Monday if the Canadiens can beat Toronto in Montréal on Saturday.

Midway through the opening frame Janmark (1) got a breakaway and drove to the net with two-hands corralling a forehand wrap around Talbot reminiscent of “the Forsberg” if Peter Forsberg had used both hands on the stick and stuck with his dominant shot instead of his backhand.

Nicolas Roy (1) and Nick Holden (4) tallied the assists on Janmark’s first goal of the night as the Golden Knights grabbed a, 1-0, lead at 5:09 of the first period.

Moments later, Roy checked Jonas Brodin along the wall and sidelined the Wild defender for the rest of the night in the process with an undisclosed injury.

Midway through the opening frame, William Karlsson was sent to the box for boarding against Jared Spurgeon at 10:32.

Minnesota did not convert on the ensuing power play– their first skater advantage of the night on Friday.

Moments later, Zach Parise (2) sent a no-look backhand shot between his legs and through Fleury’s five-hole to tie the game, 1-1, at 16:49 of the first period.

Joel Eriksson Ek (1) and Ryan Suter (1) had the assists on Parise’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite Minnesota leading in shots on goal, 10-8.

The Wild also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-6), giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (56-44), while the Golden Knights led in takeaways (5-2) and hits (24-21).

Minnesota was 0/1 on the power play, while Vegas had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Nicolas Hague (1) sent a shot from the point through traffic– beating Talbot clean on the short side over the blocker– off of an attacking zone faceoff to put Vegas ahed, 2-1, at 2:05 of the second period.

Karlsson (3) had the only assist on Hague’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.

A couple minutes later, Ryan Reaves cut a rut to the sin bin for interference after he sent Suter face first into his own crossbar at 4:22 of the second period.

It didn’t take the Wild long to capitalize on the resulting power play as Kirill Kaprizov (2) sent a one-timer past Fleury while crashing the net as Mats Zuccarello fed the Minnesota rookie with a pass while skating through “Gretzky’s office” (no, not TNT) behind the net in the trapezoid.

Zuccarello (3) and Spurgeon (3) recorded the assists on Kaprizov’s power-play goal as Minnesota tied things up, 2-2, at 4:35 of the second period.

About a few minutes later, Pacioretty (1) put the Golden Knights in front for good– scoring the eventual game-winner on a one-timer from the slot after Shea Theodore sent the puck around the boards on a dump-in before Chandler Stephenson worked it to No. 67 in a Vegas uniform.

Stephenson (4) and Theodore (1) had the assists on Pacioretty’s goal as the Golden Knights took a, 3-2, lead at 7:44.

Midway through the middle frame, Ian Cole was penalized for interference, presenting Vegas with their first and only skater advantage of the night at 10:32.

Though the Golden Knights didn’t score on the power play, they did happen to catch the Wild in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Zach Whitecloud (1) sent a catch and release shot over Talbot’s blocker on the far side from the faceoff dot to the left of the Minnesota netminder at 13:38.

Theodore (2) and Stephenson (5) notched the assists on Whitecloud’s goal as the Golden Knights extended their lead to, 4-2.

Moments later, Hague and Nick Bjugstad got tangled up and exchanged pleasantries, resulting in coincidental minor infractions for roughing at 17:09 of the second period and two minutes of ensuing 4-on-4 action to close off the first 40 minutes of action.

Through two periods of play, Vegas led, 4-2, on the scoreboard and, 25-16, in shots on goal, including a, 17-6, advantage in second period shots alone.

The Golden Knights led in takeaways (10-6), giveaways (5-3), hits (38-34) and faceoff win% (63-37), while the Wild led in blocked shots (17-12) entering the second intermission.

As there were no penalties that resulting in any skater advantages in the final frame, Minnesota finished the night 1/2 on the power play, while Vegas went 0/1.

Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault got involved in a bit of a scrum and each received matching roughing minors at 6:00 of the third period.

The four penalties were the final calls of the night and resulted in no skater advantages for either club.

Midway through the third, Janmark (2) redirected his second goal of the game past Talbot as Roy’s forecheck on Suter freed the puck for Vegas, leading to the goal.

Roy (2) had the only assist on the marker as the Golden Knights took a, 5-2, lead at 12:36.

With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Wild head coach, Dean Evason, pulled Talbot for an extra attacker.

It did not go as planned for Minnesota.

Janmark (3) casually swiped at the puck with a one-handed backhand stroke while diving for possession and buried it into the empty net to give Vegas a, 6-2, lead at 16:53 of the third period– sealing the deal on a Game 7 win, as well as the series victory.

Alex Tuch (2) and Alex Pietrangelo (3) had the assists on Janmark’s hat trick goal– the first career postseason hat trick for Janmark, as well as the first hat trick in a Stanley Cup Playoff game in Golden Knights franchise history.

At the final horn, Vegas had won, 6-2, and eliminated the Wild in seven games, clinching the series 4-3 in the process.

Vegas also became the third franchise to win a playoff series in three of their first four seasons, joining the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues in the NHL history books.

The Golden Knights finished Friday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 34-20, including a, 9-4, advantage in the third period alone.

Minnesota finished the night leading in blocked shots (20-18) and hits (53-49), while Vegas led in giveaways (10-5) and faceoff win% (66-34).

The Golden Knights are now 2-1 in all time Game 7s after defeating the Wild on Friday and advanced to the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result.

Vegas will face the Colorado Avalanche in the next round with Game 1 scheduled for Sunday night at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Wild hold off elimination in Game 5 win on the road

The Minnesota Wild only had 14 shots on goal Monday night, but they sure made the most out of them, beating the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-2, at T-Mobile Arena in Game 5 and forcing a Game 6 back in Minnesota Wednesday night.

Vegas leads the series 3-2 and can close things out on the road or the Wild can force a Game 7 later in the week in what would be a first for the Golden Knights– hosting a Game 7 in Vegas.

Minnesota goaltender, Cam Talbot (2-3, 2.42 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in five games played), made 38 saves on 40 shots faced for the win.

Marc-Andre Fleury (3-2, 1.40 goals-against average, .946 save percentage in five games) had 10 saves on 13 shots against in the loss for Vegas.

Once again, the Golden Knights were without Max Pacioretty in the lineup, while Minnesota made one change– replacing Carson Soucy with Calen Addison, who made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the process.

Midway through the opening frame, Nick Holden sent the puck up through the neutral zone where Alex Tuch botched completing a pass, but instead tipped the rubber biscuit towards Mark Stone for Stone to retrieve and take into the attacking zone himself.

Stone (4) slipped through the defense and sent a shot under Talbot’s glove to give the Golden Knights the first goal of the game and an early, 1-0, lead at 8:14 of the first period.

Tuch (1) and Holden (3) had the assists on the effort.

Less than a minute later, however, the Wild responded.

Kirill Kaprizov forced a turnover in his own end, sent the puck to Mats Zuccarello, who then carried the rubber biscuit through the neutral zone, cut left and passed the puck back to Kaprizov in the slot.

From there, Kaprizov (1) wired a shot past Fleury’s glove side to tie the game, 1-1, and score his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal in the process.

Zuccarello (1) had the only assist on Kaprizov’s goal at 9:06 of the first period.

Almost three minutes later, Zach Parise (1) banked a wild carom from the endboards off of Fleury and into the twine to put Minnesota on top, 2-1.

Jonas Brodin (3) and Matt Dumba (2) tallied the assists on Parise’s goal as the Wild took the lead at 11:57 and later completed a span of three unanswered goals in the first period after giving up the game’s first goal.

Jordan Greenway (1) carried the puck into the attacking zone, through Vegas’ defense and followed up on his own rebound to make it, 3-1, Minnesota at 16:34.

Addison (1) had the only assist on Greenway’s goal in the process.

After one period in Vegas, the Wild led, 3-1, on the scoreboard despite both teams having mustered seven shots apiece.

The Golden Knights led in blocked shots (8-6), hits (22-20) and faceoff win percentage (57-43), while Minnesota led in takeaways (5-4) and both teams had three giveaways each.

Neither club had seen any action on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Dumba sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction at 7:52 of the second period and presented the Golden Knights with the first power play of the night.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, Vegas defender Alex Pietrangelo setup Alec Martinez (1) for a goal from the faceoff dot over Talbot’s glove side.

Pietrangelo (2) and Chandler Stephenson (4) had the assists on Martinez’s power-play goal as the Golden Knights pulled to within one, 3-2, at 9:43.

Late in the period, Brodin hooked Reilly Smith and cut a rut to the sin bin at 16:33 as a result, but Vegas failed to convert on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Wild led, 3-2, on the scoreboard, but the Golden Knights dominated in shots on goal, 29-8, including an astounding, 22-1, advantage in the second period alone.

Minnesota led in blocked shots (16-9) and takeaways (8-7), while Vegas held the advantage in giveaways (6-4), hits (34-31) and faceoff win percentage (51-49) entering the second intermission.

The Wild had yet to see a power play through two periods and the Golden Knights were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

There were no penalties called in third period as the Golden Knights continued to dominate possession and generate shot after shot.

As the game clock counted down, Vegas head coach, Peter DeBoer, pulled Fleury for an extra attacker with about 1:46 remaining in the action.

Shortly thereafter, Nico Sturm (1) used the power of mathematics to angle the puck off the boards, deep into the attacking zone and into the empty net to provide an unassisted insurance marker, 4-2, at 19:21 of the third period.

At the final horn, Minnesota had won, 4-2, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 40-14, in shots on goal, including an, 11-6, advantage for Vegas in the third period alone.

The Wild exited the building leading in blocked shots (23-13) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Golden Knights led in giveways (11-6) and hits (48-44).

Only the Golden Knights had ever seen any action on the power play on Monday– going 1/2 in the process– while the Wild hadn’t seen any action on the skater advantage in Game 5.

Vegas leads the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Golden Knights can eliminate the Wild on the road with a win and viewers looking for national coverage in the United States can tune to NBCSN, while fans in Canada can catch the game on SN or TVAS.

Puck drop is expected to be a little after 9 p.m. ET.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Vegas’ five unanswered goals lead comeback victory in Game 3

The Vegas Golden Knights gave up two goals in the first period, then scored five unanswered goals over the remaining 40 minutes to complete a, 5-2, comeback victory on the road at Xcel Energy Center in Game 3 of their 2021 First Round series with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Marc-Andre Fleury (2-1, 1.32 goals against average, .951 save percentage in three games played) made 14 saves on 16 shots faced in the win for Vegas.

Minnesota netminder, Cam Talbot (1-2, 2.32 goals-against average, .936 save percentage in three games played), turned aside 35 out of 39 shots against in the loss.

The Golden Knights were once again without Max Pacioretty as they took a 2-1 series lead in their first road game of the 2021 postseason as Fleury posted his 12th consecutive win with two or fewer goals allowed in the playoffs en route to his 83rd career Stanley Cup Playoff win on Thursday.

Kirill Kaprizov fed Ryan Hartman (1) for a one-timed redirection in the slot to give the Wild a, 1-0, lead at 2:16 of the first period.

Karpizov (1) and Jonas Brodin (2) had the assists on Hartman’s goal as Minnesota got off to a quick start.

Less than a minute later, however, Wild defender, Matt Dumba, was sent to the penalty box for holding, presenting the game’s first power play to Vegas at 2:43 of the first period.

The Golden Knights couldn’t get anything going on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Almost midway into the opening frame, Joel Eriksson Ek (2) made it a, 2-0, game for Minnesota as Marcus Foligno (2) and Dumba (1) picked up the assists on Eriksson Ek’s goal at 8:30 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Jonathan Marchessault interfered with Kevin Fiala and handed the Wild their first power play of the night at 9:14, but Minnesota couldn’t capitalize on the 5-on-4 advantage.

Moments later, Hartman slashed Golden Knights defender, Shea Theodore, and cut a rut to the sin bin at 13:31, but Vegas was unsuccessful on the power play.

Heading into the first intermission, the Wild led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 7-4, in shots on goal.

Minnesota also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), takeaways (3-2) and hits (13-12), while both teams had two giveaways each and were, 50-50, in faceoff win percentage after 20 minutes of action.

Vegas was 0/2 on the power play while the Wild were 0/1 on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.

Mark Stone (1) caught a pass in the slot from Chandler Stephenson and released a shot in catch-and-release fashion as the Golden Knights cut Minnesota’s lead in half, 2-1, at 8:39 of the second period.

Stephenson (2) and Brayden McNabb (1) notched the assists on Stone’s goal.

About half a minute later, Ian Cole tripped McNabb and presented Vegas with another power play that ultimately went by the wayside for the Golden Knights at 9:09.

Nick Holden sent an intentional shot wide of the net as the puck caromed off the endboards to Patrick Brown in the slot whereby Brown (1) hacked away until he sent the rubber biscuit floating behind Talbot to tie the game, 2-2, at 15:19 of the middle period.

Holden (1) and William Carrier (1) tallied the assists on Brown’s goal.

About two minutes later, Vegas took the lead for the first time of the night and never looked back as Reilly Smith (1) got a deflection, then his own rebound to make it, 3-2, Golden Knights at 17:33.

Holden (2) and William Karlsson (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively.

Karpizov then finished the second period with a tripping infraction as Alex Tuch went for a fall at 19:49. Vegas’ ensuing power play would spillover into the final frame.

After 40 minutes, however, the Golden Knights led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 26-12, in shots on goal, including an astounding, 22-5, advantage in the second period alone.

Minnesota still dominated in blocked shots (15-12), takeaways (8-4), hits (23-20) and faceoff win% (53-48) despite the Vegas onslaught.

Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Golden Knights were 0/4 and the Wild were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

After the Wild successfully killed off Kaprizov’s minor, they got a chance on the power play when Tuch interfered with Cole at 2:42 of the third period.

Minnesota, however, couldn’t get anything going as the Golden Knights continued to dominate the game flow.

Vegas couldn’t convert on a power play at 11:18 of the third period when the Wild were handed a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice, but it was of no matter to the Golden Knights as they simply scored later in the period.

First, when Karlsson (1) sent a wrist shot under the bar on the short side with assists from Smith (2) and Fleury (1) at 17:36 and again when Stone (2) pocketed his second goal of the game on an unassisted effort into the empty net at 19:01 of the third period.

The pair of goals had made it, 5-2– giving Vegas five unanswered goals as the final horn sounded and the Golden Knights had won, securing a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Saturday in Minnesota.

The Wild wrapped up Thursday night’s loss leading in hits (31-29), while the Golden Knights dominated in shots on goal, 40-16, including a, 14-4, advantage in the third period alone.

Vegas also held the lead in blocked shots (20-18) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams managed three giveaways aside in Game 3.

The Golden Knights finished 0/5 and the Wild went 0/2 on the power play on Thursday.

Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Viewers in the United States can watch on NBC, while those in Canada can choose from SN360 or TVAS2.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Tuch ties series against former team in, 3-1, Vegas victory

Alex Tuch had a pair of goals– including the game-winner– as the Vegas Golden Knights tied their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup with the Minnesota Wild in a, 3-1, win at T-Mobile Arena in Game 2.

The series is now tied 1-1 as Marc-Andre Fleury (1-1, 0.98 goals-against average, .969 save percentage in two games played) made 34 saves on 35 shots faced in the win for Vegas on Tuesday.

Wild goaltender, Cam Talbot (1-1, 1.48 goals-against average, .957 save percentage in two games played) turned aside 25 out of 28 shots against in the loss.

Once more, the Golden Knights were without the services of Max Pacioretty on Tuesday.

No goals were scored in the opening frame, but there was one thing on the event sheet thanks to Alec Martinez’s hooking penalty at 4:13 of the first period.

Minnesota did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

After 20 minutes of action, the score still read, 0-0, while the Wild led in shots on goal, 17-10.

The Golden Knights held the advantage in takeaways (4-2), giveaways (3-2), hits (20-14) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Minnesota led in blocked shots (6-5).

Only the Wild had seen any time on the skater advantage, though they were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Midway through the middle frame, Matt Dumba (1) opened the game’s scoring with a shot from the point that beat Fleury over the blocker while Marcus Foligno acted as a screen in front of the crease.

Jonas Brodin (1) and Jordan Greenway (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Dumba’s goal as the Wild jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 12:07 of the second period.

It wasn’t long before Vegas evened things up, however.

In fact, just 18 seconds after Dumba notched his fourth career Stanley Cup Playoffs goal, the Golden Knights shifted momentum their way as Reilly Smith fed Jonathan Marchessault while entering the zone.

Marchessault (1) snapped a shot over Talbot’s glove, off the post and into the back of the twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 12:25.

Smith (1) and William Karlsson (1) had the assists on Marchessault’s goal.

Less than a few minutes later, Ian Cole tripped William Carrier and presented the Golden Knights with their first power play of the night at 15:04 of the second period. Vegas did not convert on the resulting skater advantage, however.

Minnesota was caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, though, as Alex Pietrangelo kickstarted a rush, whereby Mattias Janmark found Tuch (1) for his first goal of the night– giving the Golden Knights their first lead thus far in the series.

Janmark (1) and Pietrangelo (1) had the assists as Vegas took the lead, 2-1, on Tuch’s first goal of the game at 17:19.

Heading into the second intermission, the Golden Knights led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 27-22, in shots on goal (Vegas had the advantage in second period shots on goal alone, though, 12-10).

The Wild led in blocked shots (21-10), while Vegas dominated in takeaways (8-4), giveaways (8-5), hits (44-32) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame Tuesday night.

Dumba and Pietrangelo got tangled up almost midway through the third period and received roughing infractions at 7:50 of the final frame, yielding 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes.

With 1:53 left in the action, Wild head coach, Dean Evason, pulled Talbot for an extra attacker only to lose the 6-on-5 advantage shortly thereafter when Kirill Kaprizov got a stick underneath Marchessault and tripped up the Golden Knights forward at 18:30 of the third period.

It didn’t take Vegas long for Chandler Stephenson to to pinch along the boards, work the puck below the goal line, then send a pass to Tuch (2) in the low slot for a one-timer off of Talbot’s pad and through the short side.

Stephenson (1) and Mark Stone (1) tallied the assists on Tuch’s power-play goal and the Golden Knights led, 3-1, at 19:07.

Talbot vacated the crease once again with 52.3 seconds left but it was to no avail as the seconds ticked down until the final horn sounded and Vegas had officially sealed the deal on a, 3-1, win in Game 2– tying their best-of-seven series with Minnesota 1-1.

The Wild finished the night leading in shots on goal, 35-28, including an, 8-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Minnesota also held the advantage in blocked shots (26-20), while the Golden Knights dominated in just about every other category, including giveaways (11-7), hits (63-46) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Vegas finished 1/2 on the power play, while the Wild went 0/1 on the skater advantage on Tuesday.

The series is tied 1-1 heading into Minnesota for Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 9:30 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while those in Canada can catch the action on SN360 or TVAS2.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #182- Back In A New Year Groove

The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #171- 2019-20 Season Preview: Central Division

All of the (good) RFAs have been re-signed, the Carolina Hurricanes keep making moves, 2020 Winter Classic logos have been revealed and DTFR’s season previews conclude with the Central Division.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #159- Battle For Gloria (Part One)

Nick and Pete recap the Ottawa Senators coaching hire, two extensions, the latest rumors and the 2019 Western Conference Final while teasing their 2019 Stanley Cup Final preview.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

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NHL Nick's Net

2018 Mock Draft: The Complete First Round, Final Edition

It’s time for the last minute changes and mad scramble that is a General Manager and his/her scouting team’s draft selections as one player after another slowly gets taken off the board.

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Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas is home to the 1st round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (Saturday plays host to rounds 2-7).

All the mock drafts in the world have been released– until now. Here’s one more before you sit in front of your TV and maybe get, what, like one of your own mock draft picks right?

It’s time, once again, for completely arbitrary nonsense predicting and projecting the rest of the professional careers and lives from a group of teens.

Unknown-21. Buffalo Sabres –> D Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (Sweden)

Both Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin have spoken without presuming the Sabres will select the Swedish defender 1st overall, but there is no other choice in this Draft– as deep as it is. Dahlin is a game-changer for a franchise that so desperately needs his new-age defense and Nicklas Lidstrom qualities.

The 6-foot-2, 181-pound two-way defender is the perfect fit in blue and gold. He’ll shutdown opponents and transition the puck up the ice, greatly increasing the speed of Buffalo’s top lines in the midst of a fast paced, rough and tough Atlantic Division.

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2. Carolina Hurricanes–> RW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie (OHL)

Just like there’s no substitution for the 1st overall pick, the same goes for the 2nd overall pick. Andrei Svechnikov will be a member of the Hurricanes Friday night and fans attending Carolina’s draft party will have more than one reason to celebrate in addition to the unveiling of their new third jerseys.

Svechnikov’s a pure goal scorer and just might help the Canes leap back into the postseason picture in 2019 for the first time since 2009. He had 40-32–72 totals in 44 games with the Barrie Colts this season in his first season of Junior hockey. It’s been a decade in the making, but new General Manager Don Waddell and new owner Tom Dundon are ready to make a big impression.

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3. Montreal Canadiens–> C Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat (Finland)

General Manager Marc Bergevin didn’t trade away Alex Galchenyuk to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Max Domi for nothing. He did it with Jesperi Kotkaniemi in mind.

It’s a fresh slate for Claude Julien‘s lineup, with the projected top-6 forward centering in on the second line. Kotkaniemi had 10 goals and 19 assists (29 points) in 57 games this season with Assat and he’ll grow into stardom in Montreal.

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4. Ottawa Senators–> RW Filip Zadina, Halifax (QMJHL)

A dynamic scorer and underrated forward, Filip Zadina is a light at the end of one tunnel leading to the next as the Senators look to close the chapter on one book and open the next in the midst of their dumpster fire of an organization.

Zadina had 44 goals in 57 games for the Halifax Mooseheads this season and should translate well into a lineup looking for a goal scorer in the wake of dumping Mike Hoffman outside the division (oops, he’s back). The 6-foot, 195-pound winger has a sharp shot that should ease Ottawa’s minus-70 goal differential in 2017-18.

Unknown-35. Arizona Coyotes–> LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University (H-East)

Brady Tkachuk packs intensity and grit in his game along with some offense. The Boston University Terrier had 31 points in 40 games this season and is the younger brother of Calgary Flames forward, Matthew Tkachuk. Both are sons of Keith Tkachuk and played pond hockey in the same neighborhood as– sorry, don’t know how Pierre McGuire got in here for a moment.

Anyway, the younger Tkachuk is 6-foot-3, 196-pounds and will fit in alongside Galchenyk, Clayton Keller and the youth movement in Arizona that could result in a 2019 postseason appearance by the Coyotes.Unknown6. Detroit Red Wings–> D Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

Noah Dobson was the best defender and a huge part in the reason why the Acadie-Bathurst Titan are your 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup champions– and that’s already on top of his breakout season with the Titan that saw 17 goals and 52 assists (69 points) this season.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound, right-shot two-way blueliner fits the bill as a new-age solution to an aging problem in Detroit.

imgres-27. Vancouver Canucks–> D Evan Bouchard, London (OHL)

One of the best things about drafting in the NHL is simply taking the next best available player on some scouting list, whether it’s from Central Scouting itself or your own department. In this case, Evan Bouchard is the next best available defenders on a list– my list.

The Canucks can use his 6-foot-2, 193-pound frame and right-shot to boost their transition game as Vancouver deals with the loss of Daniel and Henrik Sedin due to retirement and puts an emphasis on getting the puck up the ice to Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. Bouchard had 25-62–87 totals in 67 games for the London Knights this season.

imgres8. Chicago Blackhawks–> RW Oliver Wahlstrom, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

All-in-all everything’s working out pretty well for the Chicago Blackhawks in their rebuild. Yes, it’s a rebuild. Landing the once viral, 9-year-old, sensation as part of TD Bank’s Mini-1-on-1s years ago, Oliver Wahlstrom is ready to graduate to the big leagues and fill in for Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp along the wing in Chicago.

He’s used to high expectations and has a wrist shot like no other, having amassed 47 goals in 60 games this season with the U.S. National U-18 Team, as well as seven goals in seven games at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound, right wing will likely go ahead and play a season with the Boston College Eagles before going pro in a Blackhawks uniform.

download9. New York Rangers–> C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Finland)

Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton welcomes new head coach, David Quinn, to the Big Apple with a star in the making in Rasmus Kupari. He’s the best Finnish forward in the draft and could land a spot on the roster as New York retools on-the-fly and must re-sign or trade pending-RFAs Ryan Spooner, Vladislav Namestnikov and Kevin Hayes this summer.

The 6-foot-1, 183-pound center has a lot of skills to work with and brings a bright future down the middle with Rangers 2017 first round selection, Lias Andersson, already in the fold.

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10. Edmonton Oilers–> D Quintin Hughes, Michigan (BIG10)

The Edmonton Oilers have $21 million combined locked up in cap space to star forwards, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, starting in 2018-19. General Manager Peter Chiarelli has already experienced what salary cap hell is like firsthand from his time with the Boston Bruins and is bound to move some pieces in addition to Thursday’s buyout of Eric Gryba.

Whether the Oilers use the 10th overall pick or trade it, Quintin Hughes is the perfect fit on the blueline for a team that has said they’d like to add a young defener. Hughes is drawing comparisons in his game to Torey Krug, someone Chiarelli should be familiar with, since he brought Krug to Boston in his tenure as Bruins GM.download

11. New York Islanders–> D Adam Boqvist, Brynas (SWE-JR)

After relieving Garth Snow and Dough Weight of their duties and replacing them with new General Manager Lou Lamoriello and new head coach, Barry Trotz, respectively, the Islanders are ready to cash in on back-to-back picks in the first round.

First up, 5-foot-11, 168-pound, Swedish born defender, Adam Boqvist, who’ll need another year in the SHL to come into his own before launching his two-way blueliner career in Brooklyn.download

12. New York Islanders (via Calgary Flames)–> C Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

With their second consecutive pick in the first round (as long as they don’t trade one of them or both), New York would be wise to select the center from the Sault Ste. Greyhounds, Barrett Hayton.

Hayton had 21-39–60 totals in 63 games this season and might need a year or two more in Juniors before becoming a centerpiece in Trotz’s lineup on Long Island (or Brooklyn or wherever the Islanders are planning on playing home games– they’re splitting them next season).Unknown-2

13. Dallas Stars–> D Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL)

General Manager Jim Nill can do new head coach in The Big-D, Jim Montgomery, a bit of a favor by tweaking the defense this offseason and there’s no better way to tweak the blueline than by planning for the future of the blueline.

Ty Smith brings depth to the transition game in Dallas, as John Klingberg and Marc Methot are already relied upon to do with the Stars, but he also brings a higher level of effectiveness on the power play. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound defender likely won’t see any time with the NHL club this season, but should make some leaps in the depth chart heading into 2019-20.

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14. Philadelphia Flyers (via St. Louis Blues)–> LW Joel Farabee, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Joel Farabee is one of those rare NHL-ready first round prospects that gets taken in the mid-to-late part of the opening round of the draft. He has a tremendous hockey IQ as a 5-foot-11, 164-pound left winger with a lot of speed, but he’ll be using all of that to attend classes at Boston University this fall.

It’s possible, though, that he’ll go pro after one year with the Terriers.

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15. Florida Panthers–> RW Vitali Kravtsov, Chelyabinsk (Russia)

6-foot-3, 184-pound Russian right wing, Vitali Kravtsov carries the puck well and creates chances in the slot with a good shot and silky smooth passes. General Manager Dale Tallon can take a year or two to let Kravtsov develop as the Panthers sort themselves out with about $8.000 million to spend on free agents this summer– including their own pending-RFAs in Jared McCann and Frank Vatrano.

Kravtsov had 6-5–11 totals in 16 games in the Kontinental Hockey League this season playing against men and former NHLers like Pavel Datsyuk.Unknown-1

16. Colorado Avalanche–> C Joseph Veleno, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic has his work cut out for him in drafting 6-foot-1, 193-pound center Joseph Veleno. He had 22 goals and 57 assists (79 points) in 64 games as a playmaker with Drummondville this season and should work his way into the revamped Colorado lineup in the next year or two.

Past Nathan MacKinnon, Sakic has to work on finding the next best forward down the middle in the lineup of the top-6 caliber. Veleno fits that role in time.

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17. New Jersey Devils–> LW Grigori Denisenko, Yaroslavl 2 (Russia)

Devils General Manager Ray Shero lands a sneaky good winger with the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft, but there’s a catch. Grigori Denisenko’s going to need two-to-three years to work his way up in the MHL/KHL rankings to elevate his game to NHL status.

The 5-foot-11, 172-pound forward had nine goals and 22 points in 31 games for Yaroslavl this season.download

18. Columbus Blue Jackets–> RW Serron Noel, Oshawa (OHL)

Serron Noel is a 6-foot-5, 205-pound behemoth of a right wing with comparisons to Blake Wheeler. Despite all the rage over Artemi Panarin‘s long-term plans with the Blue Jackets organization 1) his contract expires in 2019– that’s still a year away and 2) Noel is just the guy to compete for a top-6 spot in that time span.

He had 28-25–53 totals in 62 games for the Oshawa Generals this season and should develop into a prolific forward with another year in the OHL.

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19. Philadelphia Flyers–> C/LW Isac Lundestrom, Lulea (Sweden)

With their second pick in the first round, the Flyers lock up 6-foot, 183-pount forward, Isac Lundestrom. In a year or two– after more seasoning in the SHL– he’ll start to make a name for himself wearing Philadelphia orange.

Lundestrom had 15 points in 41 games in Sweden’s top professional league this season.

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20. Los Angeles Kings–> RW Dominik Bokk, Vaxjo (SWE J20)

Los Angeles General Manager Rob Blake has a plan in place to stick to the plan. Unfortunately, the core of his roster is aging and, despite an almost $5 million increase in the salary cap ceiling, the Kings are in a bit of a bind knowing they’ll have to re-sign 2019 pending-UFA Drew Doughty in the time between now and next year.

German-born, 6-foot-1, 176-pound right wind, Dominik Bokk had 14 goals and 27 assists (41 points) in 35 games for Vaxjo in his rookie season in Sweden’s Junior league. He went on to have 5-6–11 totals in eight playoff games along the way to winning the league championship and has all the finesse that makes him comparable to that of current Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar.Unknown

21. San Jose Sharks–> C/LW Ryan McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)

Ryan McLeod notched 26 goals and 44 assists (70 points) with the Steelheads in 68 games this season, slightly more than doubling his offensive production in 2016-17– his sophomore year in Junior. He might be one of the more NHL ready prospects, in terms of playing experience, but the Sharks don’t have to rush him unless he makes a lasting impression at training camp.

The 6-foot-2, 206-pound forward has just the right frame for San Jose’s liking.

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22. Ottawa Senators (via Pittsburgh Penguins)–> D Bode Wilde, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Ottawa’s second pick in the first round should help restock the lackluster defensive depth if General Manager Pierre Dorion doesn’t make any moves to shake things up.

Bode Wilde’s 6-foot-2, 197-pound frame stands tall on the blueline as a potential shutdown top-4 role given time– and the Senators could use that to balance Thomas Chabot once the Erik Karlsson saga figures itself out (the extending/re-signing or trading him part, not anything else related to the dumpster fire going on in the Sens front office).Unknown-123. Anaheim Ducks–> RW Martin Kaut, Pardubice (Czech Republic)

The possibilities are endless this offseason for the Ducks. No really, there isn’t a true gut feeling on which way Anaheim will go– up or down in the standings, older or younger, more skilled and less focused on taking penalties or, well, you get the point.

Meanwhile, Czech forward, Martin Kaut is a solid selection with 2-5–7 totals in seven games for Czech Republic at the 2018 World Junior Championship. The 6-foot-1, 176-pound right wing had a much better second half of the season in the top professional Czech league after his confidence boosting WJC performance.Unknown-2

24. Minnesota Wild–> D Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Rasmus Sandin’s offensive style fits right in the new-age Minnesota Wild now that new General Manager, Paul Fenton, is in charge. Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and some combination of Ryan Suter or Jared Spurgeon and Sandin just might be the Wild’s top-4 defensive core in the near future.

The 5-foot-11, 186-pound defender had 45 points in 51 games for the Greyhounds this season.Unknown25. Toronto Maple Leafs–> C Ty Dellandrea, Flint (OHL)

At 6-feet, 184-pounds, Ty Dellandrea’s frame is perfect to make some great first impressions at training camp this fall. General Manager Kyle Dubas continues to showcase his skill in his promotion as one of the best evaluators of talent in an analytically driven mind.

Flint finished second-to-last (19th out of 20 teams) in the OHL this season, but Dellandrea was a bright spot and Dubas has a knack for finding those and making something out of it.

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26. New York Rangers (via Boston Bruins)–> D Jared McIsaac, Halifax (QMJHL)

Jared McIsaac is a burly, 6-foot-1, 195-pound, defender that amassed 47 points in 65 games with Halifax this season. His size and skill alone should be enough to compensate for the beating and battering in the battle for the Metropolitan Division lead over the next few seasons.

McIsaac isn’t ready now, but he should flourish under Quinn and the Rangers– if Gorton doesn’t trade the pick.

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27. Chicago Blackhawks (via Nashville Predators)–> D Ryan Merkley, Guelph (OHL)

An offensive defenseman, Ryan Merkley had 13 goals in 63 games for Guelph this season. At 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, he’ll need some time to develop his physical presence to an NHL grade, but he’s shown some feisty two-way play in his time in Junior.

Regardless, Chicago needs to start planning for the post-Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith days.

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28. New York Rangers (via Tampa Bay Lightning)–> RW Akil Thomas, Niagara (OHL)

As long as the Rangers hold on to all three of their first round picks, Akil Thomas is a steal at 28th overall. Thomas had 81-points with the Niagara IceDogs this season. He’ll need another year or two to develop into the forward New York will want him to be in the NHL, though.imgres-1

29. St. Louis Blues (via Winnipeg Jets)–> C Jay O’Brien, Thayer Academy (USHS)

Jay O’Brien has the chance to turn a fantastic year in high school into a professional career, having amassed 43-37–80 totals in 30 games for Thayer Academy in Massachusetts.

Doug Armstrong and the Blues would be smart to find a versatile scorer to match Vladimir Tarasenko‘s style of play, even if it takes another year or two for O’Brien to develop, since St. Louis has some spots on the roster to overhaul this summer and next.

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30. Detroit Red Wings (via Vegas Golden Knights)–> C Jack McBain, Toronto (OJHL)

Jack McBain’s a gifted playmaker that should pan out in a couple of years really well alongside the likes of Anthony Mantha and the rest of the Red Wings. He had 5-19–24 totals in 39 games for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens this season and will be attending Boston College this fall.Washington Capitals Logo

31. Washington Capitals–> D Mattias Samuelsson, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Winning the Stanley Cup means the Capitals will pick last in the first round, but General Manager Brian MacLellan is fine with it– it means you had a successful season, after all. While Washington’s front office finds their next head coach, MacLellan snags 6-foot-4, 218-pound defenseman, Mattias Samuelsson, from the U.S. U-18 National Development Program and lets him grow into a top-4 role with the Caps.

Samuelsson had 11-20–31 totals in 58 games this season. Not only can he shutdown opponents, but his two-way game’s pretty good too.

Other Players To Watch For in the Top 62 

In no particular order:

C Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Halifax (QMJHL)

LW Albin Eriksson, Skelleftå (SWE J20)

D Adam Ginning, Linköping (SHL)

C/LW Fillip Hallander, Timra (Sweden)

C David Gustafsson, HV71 (SHL)

D Alexander Alexeyev, Red Deer (WHL)

C Liam Foudy, London (OHL)

D K’Andre Miller, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

D Jett Woo, Moose Jaw (WHL)

C Jacob Olofsson, Timra (Sweden)

Top Goalies

Olivier Rodrigue, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Olof Lindbolm, Djurgarden (SWE J20)

Jakub Skarek, Jihlava (Czech Republic)

Lukáš Dostal, Brno (Czech Jr.)

Justus Annunen, Karpat (Fin-Jr.)

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NHL Nick's Net

2018 Mock Draft: First Round Revisions

Nearing the end of the month of May there’s only two teams remaining in contention for the Stanley Cup– the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals. As a result, we now have a better picture of how the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft should go based on the lottery and where all the other teams fell out of the postseason.

Without having the advantage of a) being a professional scout for a living or b) having whatever kind of TV package/time-space continuum that would allow me to see every prospect play, this is the next best thing we’ve got– completely rudimentary “expert” opinion on mostly teenagers and what just might become reality from the dream of one day becoming an NHL player.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

While the Golden Knights and Capitals decide who’ll be eating cereal, drinking their favorite beverage or literally doing whatever they want with the Cup all summer, 29 other franchises are preparing for the Entry Draft right now.

“29”, you say, “but there’s not even that many teams that still have picks in the first round!”

That’s correct, but there’s seven rounds of hell to sit through while 30 other GMs make their picks before yours and every now and then Gary Bettman interrupts with a trade to announce, getting everyone excited only to reveal that a team has swapped one draft pick for two or three or a bag of pucks drafting players that all GMs have to sit through, so while not everyone may have a first round pick (because they traded it away or whatever) all 31 clubs have to prepare for the Draft anyway because depth can come from anywhere.

And yes, we went from “29 other teams are preparing” to “all 31”, but come on, you know Vegas and Washington have done their homework too, right?

Everyone– even Hockey Men who only need their own eyes once– has at least glanced over the list of prospects to choose from this June.

Anyway, this is just the second of three editions of my mock draft from earlier this month until draft day (June 22nd), so as not to confuse you, bore you or– by some miracle– humor you some more, here we go.

This year’s NHL Entry Draft is being held at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas from June 22nd-23rd.

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1. Buffalo Sabres –> D Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (Sweden)

Jack Eichel hedged his compliments surrounding Dahlin as the Draft technically hasn’t occurred yet and the Sabres could shock the world and choose anyone they want not named “Rasmus Dahlin.” However, Buffalo, New York is shaping up to be the capital of the world for people with the first name “Rasmus” as of the last week or so.

It only makes sense that they land the best player in this year’s draft and, oh yeah, he’s a two-way defenseman that can get Buffalo back on track. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound blueliner is the perfect fit in blue and gold as someone who can shutdown and get the puck out of the zone in what’ll be another fast paced, rough and tumble Atlantic Division in 2018-19.

2. Carolina Hurricanes–> RW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie (OHL)

Second-best isn’t an indication of being “first worst” by any means when it comes to Andrei Svechnikov in his draft class. The Hurricanes already have a plethora of youth and skill on the back end, so while they won’t be adding the talent of the 1st overall defender, it’s not really like they need it.

They need a pure goal scorer, a gifted top-six winger who just might land Carolina inside the postseason picture in 2019 for the first time since 2009. What a difference ten years [could] make. Svechnikov had 40-32–72 totals in 44 games with the Barrie Colts this season– just his first season of Junior hockey.

3. Montreal Canadiens–> RW Filip Zadina, Halifax (QMJHL)

Montreal’s spent a lot of time focusing on bigger and burlier players the last few years, but after finding themselves in an unusual position (a rebuild!) the Habs are ready to reload. A dynamic goal scorer and underrated as a forward, Filip Zadina fits right in with the Canadiens.

His 44 goals in 57 games for the Halifax Mooseheads this season should translate well into a lineup looking to improve their minus-55 goal differential in 2017-18. The 6-foot, 195-pound winger can change the course of a game with his sharp shot.

4. Ottawa Senators–> D Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

Noah Dobson can get pucks up the ice with ease while maintaining stellar two-way play. He’d be a great fit alongside Thomas Chabot, especially in what could become a post-Erik Karlsson era in Ottawa either this offseason via a trade or next offseason via free agency.

Dobson is a safe, smart, best available pick at 6-foot-3, 180-pounds. The right-shot defender had 17-52–69 totals with Acadie-Bathurst Titan this season in the QMJHL.

5. Arizona Coyotes–> RW Oliver Wahlstrom, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Since going viral as a 9-year-old in one of the TD Bank Mini-1-on-1s years ago, Oliver Wahlstrom has had high expectations to live up to– and he’s met them. His wrist shot is among the best and he amassed 47 goals in 60 games this season with the U.S. National U-18 Team, as well as seven goals in seven games at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

He’s a complete package of speed and skill– something the Coyotes have been stockpiling as they center their offense around Clayton Keller. At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, Wahlstrom’s size is already that of an NHLer, but he’ll likely go ahead and play a season with the Boston College Eagles as he intends to before going pro.

6. Detroit Red Wings–> D Quintin Hughes, Michigan (BIG10)

The Red Wings have a need for young, quality, defenders (aside from Xavier Ouellet). Luckily for them, Quintin Hughes is available as a decent skater with excellent puck skills (hands and a heavy shot). Like Torey Krug, Hughes can control the game by moving the puck and firing off an accurate shot.

7. Vancouver Canucks–> LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University (H-East)

Losing the Sedins to retirement doesn’t hurt as much when you add the brother of one of your biggest rivals. Brady Tkachuk is equally as intense and gritty as his brother Matthew is with the Calgary Flames, but the younger Tkachuk has more of an offensive upside to his game– pure scoring ability. At 6-foot-3, 196-pounds, he’ll fit in well with the Canucks core players, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

8. Chicago Blackhawks–> D Evan Bouchard, London (OHL)

The Blackhawks have quite a few cracks in their roster since they lost Trevor van Riemsdyk in the Vegas expansion draft, Marian Hossa to a skin condition and Patrick Sharp to retirement. They traded Ryan Hartman, Michal Kempny and Tommy Wingels at the deadline and desperately need to replenish their defensive depth. They’ve also got an aging problem, with Duncan Keith (34) and Brent Seabrook (33) signed for a long time.

Luckily for Chicago, Evan Bouchard is one of the best new-age defenders that had 25-62–87 totals in 67 games for the London Knights this season. Bouchard is a 6-foot-2, 193-pound, right-shot defenseman that can be a leader from the back end. His transition game is phenomenal and should help get the puck up the ice to core guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

9. New York Rangers–> C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Finland)

New York state’s “Rasmus” population increases yet again– though this time in New York City, not upstate in Buffalo– as the Rangers welcome new head coach, David Quinn, with Rasmus Kupari’s skill set to add to the fold. Kupari is the best Finnish forward in the draft and with Ryan Spooner as a pending-RFA and more to sort out this offseason, New York’s looking to make smart picks in both the now and down the road.

A 6-foot-1, 183-pound center isn’t the worst place to start as they continue to transition their game with the likes of Lias Andersson, Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov.

10. Edmonton Oilers–>D Adam Boqvist, Brynas (SWE-JR)

Edmonton Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli, would like to find a stable, young defenseman this offseason without overpaying. If Chiarelli is fine giving Adam Boqvist a little time to come into his own, then Chiarelli shouldn’t have to look any further than the 10th overall pick that he’s got.

The 5-foot-11, 168-pound, Swedish born defender could use another year in the SHL before becoming a two-way power on the Oilers defense.

11. New York Islanders–> C/LW Isac Lundestrom, Lulea (Sweden)

In the first of back-to-back picks, the Islanders look to round-out a group of young forwards that can develop and work together. A 5-foot-11, 178-pound forward, Isac Lundestrom should play a role in the Islanders top-six forwards after another year or two of SHL play.

12. New York Islanders (via Calgary Flames)–> LW Joel Farabee, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Lou Lamoriello’s welcome to New York comes in the form of two solid back-to-back draft picks with Joel Farabee being the more NHL-ready of the two at the moment thanks to his knowledge of the North American game compared to Lundestrom. The 5-foot-11, 164-pound left winger has a lot of speed and tremendous hockey IQ that he’ll be bringing to Boston University this fall.

Meanwhile the Islanders are busy trying to re-sign John Tavares right now, probably.

13. Dallas Stars–> D Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL)

The Stars need to rework their defense a bit while new head coach, Jim Montgomery figures out how to fire up Jamie BennTyler Seguin and Alexander RadulovTy Smith adds to the transition game that’s already pretty strong (and reliant) on John Klingbergwhile the return of Marc Methot from injury should really anchor the blueline in Dallas.

Smith’s effective on the power play and has some room to grow as a 5-foot-10, 175-pound defender.

14. Philadelphia Flyers (via St. Louis Blues)–> D Bode Wilde, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Bode Wilde’s a 6-foot-2, 197-pound behemoth on the blue line. An underrated defender, he should develop nicely into a top-four role– and that’s even among an already stacked group of defensive prospects in Philadelphia.

15. Florida Panthers–> C Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Florida turned a lot of heads almost making the playoffs despite trading Reilly Smith to the Vegas Golden Knights and leaving Jonathan Marchessault exposed at the Expansion Draft last June. Despite their obvious setbacks, the Panthers picked up Frank Vatrano in a deal with the Bruins back in February, so they’ve kind of rounded out their top-six forwards.

Barrett Hayton’s a smart pickup with 21-39–60 totals in 63 games this season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He might need a year or two more in Juniors to develop, but for a “best available” grab, he’s the real deal.

16. Colorado Avalanche–> C Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat (Finland)

The Avalanche had quite a run in 2017-18 and so did Jesperi Kotkaniemi with Assat this season in Liiga. The young center had 10 goals and 19 assists (29 points) in 57 games in the Finnish league. Despite a postseason collapse in production, Kotkaniemi’s talent development projection looks fine with another year in Europe while Colorado looks to make more noise in the Central Division in 2018-19.

17. New Jersey Devils–> C Joseph Veleno, Drummondville (QMJHL)

6-foot-1, 193-pounds, an incredible work ethic and a decent hockey IQ, Joseph Veleno is hard to overlook, but somehow he lands in the lap of the Devil(s). He had 22 goals and 57 assists (79 points) in 64 games with Drummondville this season.

New Jersey recognizes talent when they see it under Ray Shero’s reign and Veleno should fit well as the roster continues to transition to a younger game alongside Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets–> C Jack McBain, Toronto (OJHL)

Jack McBain’s a gifted playmaker that should pan out in a couple of years really well alongside the likes of Artemi Panarin and the rest of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He had 5-19–24 totals in 39 games for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens this season and will be attending Boston College this fall.

19. Philadelphia Flyers–> LW Grigori Denisenko, Yaroslavl 2 (Russia)

Philadelphia snags a sneaky good forward in Grigori Denisenko as the winger is crafty and should come into his own in two-to-three years as he works his way up in MHL/KHL prominence.

20. Los Angeles Kings–> RW Serron Noel, Oshawa (OHL)

Los Angeles is getting younger, faster and more skilled than ever before in franchise history– adapting as the game has evolved to its current form– and Serron Noel brings all facets of the current game into the Kings organization. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-winger could likely go well ahead of 20th overall as he’s been compared to the likes of Blake Wheeler.

21. San Jose Sharks–> D Jared McIsaac, Halifax (QMJHL)

Jared McIsaac is a burly, 6-foot-1, 195-pound, defender that amassed 47 points in 65 games with Halifax this season. His size and skill alone should be enough to compensate for the beating and battering in the battle for California between San Jose and their rivals in SoCal.

22. Ottawa Senators (via Pittsburgh Penguins)–> D Ryan Merkley, Guelph (OHL)

An offensive defenseman, Ryan Merkley had 13 goals in 63 games for Guelph this season. At 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, he’ll need some time to develop his physical presence to an NHL grade, but he’s shown some feisty two-way play in his time in Junior.

23. Anaheim Ducks–> C Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Halifax (QMJHL)

Anaheim likes big and brash forwards. Benoit-Olivier Groulx’s 6-foot, 192-pound frame fits the bill (get it, because they’re the Ducks) quite well, but Groulx brings more than just a big body– he had 55 points in 68 games with the Mooseheads this season, proving he’s more than just a power forward down the middle.

24. Minnesota Wild–> D Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Sandin’s offensive style fits right in the new-age Minnesota Wild now that new general manager, Paul Fenton, is in charge. Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and some combination of Ryan Suter or Jared Spurgeon and Rasmus Sandin just might be the Wild’s top-4 defensive core in the near future.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs–> RW Akil Thomas, Niagara (OHL)

Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas makes his big-time debut by snagging Akil Thomas with his first pick in the draft. Thomas’s impressive 81-point performance this season with the Niagara IceDogs shows promise as he’s got some time to focus on growing more into the NHL game. His offensive potential is just waiting to be tapped into in its full form.

26. New York Rangers (via Boston Bruins)–> LW Albin Eriksson, Skelleftå (SWE J20)

With their second pick of the first round, the Rangers pick up a player with 22-18–40 totals in 38 games for his Junior team in Sweden this season. That player is Albin Eriksson and fans in New York better get used to hearing his name in a couple of years. He’s a work in progress in terms of making the jump to the SHL, but with a plethora of youth and a solid core built at Madison Square Garden, there’s no need to rush perfection.

27. Chicago Blackhawks (via Nashville Predators)–> C/LW Ryan McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)

McLeod notched 26 goals and 44 assists (70 points) with the Steelheads in 68 games this season, slightly more than doubling his offensive production in 2016-17– his sophomore year in Junior. He might be one of the more NHL ready prospects, otherwise the Blackhawks can expect more of the same if he rounds out his Junior career in 2018-19. Unless he pencils his name on Chicago’s roster this fall.

28. New York Rangers (via Tampa Bay Lightning)–> D Adam Ginning, Linköping (SHL)

The Rangers have some decent depth along the blueline with Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek looking to emerge as NHLers this upcoming season, but they’re about to see some serious competition for one of the top-6 jobs, if not now, then definitely in another year. Adam Ginning is capable of growing into a more prominent shutdown role.

29. St. Louis Blues (via Winnipeg Jets)–> C/LW Fillip Hallander, Timra (Sweden)

St. Louis could use some tweaks and a plan down the middle this offseason. Thankfully, Fillip Hallander might be able to ease the worries of some Blues fans if they can be patient with Hallander spending another year in the SHL. He had nine goals and 11 assists (20 points) in 40 games with Timra this season, which shows he’s young and has time to develop.

30. Washington Capitals–> D Mattias Samuelsson, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

With ample certainty, Samuelsson will be the 30th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, however, whether he’ll be going to Washington or Detroit (or elsewhere) is dependent upon the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final (and/or any potential trades).

31. Detroit Red Wings (via Vegas Golden Knights)–> C David Gustafsson, HV71 (SHL)

Ditto.