Tag Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Colby’s Corner: Bold Predictions Part 1

Bold Predictions will be a two-part series where I, Colby, will discuss who I think will and won’t make the playoffs this season and why. The first part will be the teams who will make the playoffs and the order I think we will see them in. Now remember, these are my opinions. If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment; we always appreciate feedback.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic                                   Metropolitan                                        Wild Cards

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning           1. Washington Capitals                 1. Columbus Blue Jackets (M)
  2. Montreal Canadiens             2. Pittsburgh Penguins                 2. New York Islanders (M)
  3. Ottawa Senators                    3. New York Rangers
The real surprises in my predictions for the Eastern Conference playoff teams are first, choosing five teams from the Metropolitan, and secondly, Ottawa having the number three division spot.
Five teams from Metropolitan- I chose these five teams because I believe these teams have improved dramatically. With the Capitals and Penguins’ additions this off-season, they will be top two in this division without a doubt. The Islanders’ sliding down to the last wildcard spot was a tough choice of mine; I looked at the teams left from both divisions and felt like the Islanders were the best team left of both divisions.
Ottawa at number three- The Senators deserved to make the playoffspic ottawa bold predictions 1 last season and no one can debate the fact that they were good enough even with their 3rd string (at the time) goalie. This season, with Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond healthy, they should be able to add more points than last season and take that division spot away from the other teams in the NHL.
                                        Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Western Conference

Pacific                                   Central                                    Wild Cards

  1. Anaheim Ducks                1. Dallas Stars                   1. Chicago Blackhawks (C)
  2. Calgary Flames                 2. St Louis Blues               2. Colorado Avalanche (C)
  3. Los Angeles Kings            3. Minnesota Wild

The major surprises I feel in my Western predictions are Dallas at the top of the Central and Colorado getting a wild card spot.

Dallas to the top- Dallas is at the top because of one word: OFFSEASON. The additions of two multiple Stanley Cup pic dallas bold predcitions 1champions—Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya—not to mention another Stanley Cup champion in Antti Niemi between the posts, leaves Dallas with an advantage. So with two number one goalies with experience paired with the young talent of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, there is no way Dallas doesn’t make the playoffs. If Dallas tops their division, I know that GM will be getting a raise, and he’s got an A in my book.

Glenn James/NHLI/Getty Images

Colorado as a wild card- I like Colorado and I like how they have built up their organization. This offseason pic colorado Bold perdictions 1they knew an upgrade was needed at the blue line and they got this with young kids Nikita Zadorov and Brandon Gormely along with veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin. I think with these additions they will be able to protect Semyon Varlamov better and get the puck to bounce in the right direction, giving them a chance at the playoffs again.

                                                                                                      Joe Mahoney / AP

Down the Frozen River Podcast #9- 2015-2016 Season Preview: Atlantic Division

The Down the Frozen River crew analyzes the offseason moves made by all of the teams in the Atlantic Division and provides their outlook for the 2015-2016 season. Cortana makes a special guest appearance (kind of) in this week’s episode. We’ve got some spaces available in our Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey league. If you’re interested, send us an email to downthefrozenriver@gmail.com, within the next day or two. We’ll be able to squeeze you in.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter- your thoughts might make it on our show!

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Buffalo Sabres

By: Nick Lanciani

My exploration of what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future continues. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

Buffalo Sabres LogoBuffalo Sabres

Current Retired Numbers- 2 Tim Horton, 7 Rick Martin, 11 Gilbert Perreault, 14 Rene Robert, 16 Pat Lafontaine, 18 Danny Gare, 39 Dominik Hasek

Recommended Numbers to Retire-

81 Miroslav Satan

It might be a hard case to make for Satan, but he did have impressive numbers coincide with being one of the faces of the franchise for the Sabres in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Thomas Vanek will always have a special place in Buffalo- respect is mutual between him, the fans, and Sabres management. (Photo: USATSI)
Thomas Vanek will always have a special place in Buffalo- respect is mutual between him, the fans, and Sabres management. (Photo: USATSI)

26 Thomas Vanek

Vanek has spent the majority of his career with the Buffalo Sabres so far, so it would make sense for the first Austrian in the NHL to have his number retired by an organization that did so much for his career (and that he did so much for in general).

He graciously left Buffalo in a trade with the New York Islanders- seeking a career move, before spending a brief stint with the Montreal Canadiens. Now a member of the Minnesota Wild, Thomas Vanek is still one of the most popular players in upstate New York.

Vanek is a true ambassador of the game and surely should be recognized as such by the Buffalo community some day.

30 Ryan Miller

Despite how he left the Sabres, Ryan Miller’s number is certainly up for consideration in the future to be retired by Buffalo. Then again, it seems as though with goaltenders you have to be truly extraordinary (like Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, or Martin Brodeur extraordinary) to have your number retired by an organization.

Miller was once loved by Sabres fans all around. Now he is loathed for how he left, the return on the trade to St. Louis, and for signing with the Vancouver Canucks when there was much hype over a possible return to Buffalo.

Now it seems his prime is behind him, while the Canucks are in a turbulent position. Perhaps the only thing he has left to hold onto are his good memories with the Sabres.

29 Jason Pominville

Much like Thomas Vanek, Pominville spent the majority of his career so far with the Sabres before moving on to the Minnesota Wild. Retiring his number might be a long shot someday, but he played his way into the hearts and minds of many Sabres fans, especially longtime Buffalo play-by-play announcer, Rick Jeanneret, who likened the number of goals Pominville scored to “the population of Pominville” increasing.

Other Notes

Zemgus Girgensons without a doubt will see his number retired by the Buffalo Sabres someday if he spends his entire career with them. Maybe even Jack Eichel too.

Talk to me in twenty years about this one, okay?

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Boston Bruins

By: Nick Lanciani

I continue to explore an important element of the game and what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

UnknownBoston Bruins

Current Retired Numbers- 2 Eddie Shore, 3 Lionel Hitchman, 4 Bobby Orr, 5 Dit Clapper, 7 Phil Esposito, 8 Cam Neely, 9 John Bucyk, 15 Milt Schmidt, 24 Terry O’Reilly, 77 Ray Bourque

Recommended Numbers to Retire-

16 Derek Sanderson

Honestly, there’s got to be somebody out there wondering why the Bruins haven’t retired Sanderson’s number 16 yet, despite his short tenure with the Bruins (and overall short NHL career). If anything, his off the ice story is the ultimate combination of tragic and inspirational- and the work he does now is remarkable. Wouldn’t it be great to say one day to your kids at the TD Garden “and there’s number 16, which was worn by Derek Sanderson, a man who overcame many things, just like how you can overcome anything and make your dreams come true if you work hard enough and never give up hope.”

Sanderson was sensational on the ice, having won two Stanley Cups with the Bruins in 1970 and 1972. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1968 and had a career high 146 penalty minutes in his 2nd season with Boston in the 1968-1969 season as the ultimate definition of tough in the spoked-B.

His fast track to success was marred by his equally fast track to nearly destroying his life. If it weren’t for his new found faith and good friend Bobby Orr, Sanderson would be a distant memory in a tragic loss of superstar talent.

Since he turned his life around, Sanderson has become a financial advisor and a mentor to many young athletes in the sport as well as an immortal legend in Boston for his time spent with NESN alongside Fred Cusick in the mid ’80s to the mid ’90s.

It’s time the Bruins truly honored Sanderson for the remarkable man that he’s become off the ice. Sanderson and Orr defined not only a decade in hockey, but an entire era and playing style. It’s only fitting that they are equally honored by Boston.

37 Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron just turned 30- hard to believe- and has already spent a little over a decade in the league. It’s looking like Bergeron will be another legendary player in the category of “spent all of his time with one organization,” so it will be deserving of the current definition of what it means to be a Bruin.

Patrice Bergeron is the current definition of what it means to be a Bruin and what it means to be part of Boston sports lore. (Getty Images)
Patrice Bergeron is the current definition of what it means to be a Bruin and what it means to be part of Boston sports lore. (Getty Images)

While he’s not Milt Schmidt, Bergeron could share the “Mr. Bruin” nickname with Schmidt by the end of his career.

Bergeron became the 25th member of the Triple Gold Club, having completed the trifecta in 2011 after having won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins. He’s won three Selke Trophies, a King Clancy Memorial Trophy, and the NHL Foundation Player Award in his career thus far.

The two-time member of Team Canada in the Winter Olympics has also won two gold medals in 2010 and 2014. The only question for Bergeron someday will be, what hasn’t he done or been a part of?

Bergeron is adored by Boston fans for every little thing he does in what could otherwise be best summed up as perfection.

The perfect leader, the perfect teammate, the perfect two-way center, and even the perfect well respected rival- when it comes to facing the Montreal Canadiens. His impact on the franchise is insurmountable, considering he was barely penciled in on the roster, at 18 years old, for the 2003-2004 season.

33 Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara should see his number 33 raised to the rafters of the TD Garden as one of the best defensemen and leaders in the locker room in franchise history. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Zdeno Chara should see his number 33 raised to the rafters of the TD Garden as one of the best defensemen and leaders in Boston’s locker room in franchise history. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Chara often gets a bad rap for no reason from some Boston fans. The fact of the matter is that Chara is one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s a six-time Norris Trophy Finalist (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014) having won in 2009.

If it weren’t for Niklas Lidstrom’s swan song season, Chara would have at least another Norris Trophy. Do I need to mention he’s the current record holder of the Hardest Shot competition with a blistering 108.8 mph slap shot?

Aside from being able to speak seven languages and sell real estate in the State of Massachusetts, Chara was the first player born inside the Iron Curtain to captain his team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.

Without a doubt, there is no question surrounding his leadership off the ice and in the locker room. On the ice he’s well respected by league officials, perhaps supplemented by his 6’9” (7’0” on skates), 255-pound, stature.

He’s aging, yes, but what player doesn’t age after every season? He’s still insanely fit and athletic and capable of holding his own as a top-2 defenseman for the Boston Bruins. While it might take some convincing of Boston fans currently, Zdeno Chara absolutely deserves to have his number retired by the Bruins someday. He remains an influential piece to their turnaround and run to the Cup from 2006 to 2011 and leadership in their current roster and front office transition.

Tim Thomas will be best remembered for chasing a dream and reaching its mountaintop. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Tim Thomas will be best remembered for chasing a dream and reaching its mountaintop. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Gerry Cheevers backstopped some legendary teams in Boston and had the mask to match their toughness. Photo: Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images
Gerry Cheevers backstopped some legendary teams in Boston and had the mask to match their toughness. (Photo: Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Honorable Mention

30 Gerry Cheevers/Tim Thomas

By this point, it’s probably a long shot for the Bruins to retire number 30 out of respect for Gerry Cheevers. He played remarkably well for a dominate Boston team in the 1970s and if it weren’t for the World Hockey Association having diluted the NHL’s talent pool, probably would’ve led the Bruins to some more greatness.

Likewise, Tim Thomas overcame a lot of doubt to be at the top of the NHL mountain as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and 2011 Stanley Cup champion. It would certainly be a classy move by the organization, but one that likely will never happen for either (or both) former sensational Boston goaltenders.

Other Notes

Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to setting aside Mark Recchi’s number 28. Not necessarily retiring it, but only using it for special players, which I guess is kind of the reason why nobody has been assigned number 28 on the Bruins since Recchi retired. Same goes with Marc Savard’s number 91.

It’s a shame that good players don’t always get to have extravagant careers. Players like Savard or Norm Léveillé will always be remembered for how they played on the ice by diehard Boston fans.

2015 NHL Free Agency- July 1st Signings Recap

– Nick Lanciani

This post will be updated throughout the day as signings are officially announced. Be sure to check out Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) for all of the latest signings, news, and analysis throughout the day.

Free agency begins at noon (12:00 PM EST) on July 1st. All that is known is shown and will be updated throughout the day. More analysis will come later as the day wraps up.

F Artem Anisimov signed a 5-year, $22.75 million extension with the Chicago Blackhawks worth an AAV of $4.5 million.

D Kevin Bieksa signed a 2-year, $8 million extension with the Anaheim Ducks.

F Mike Ribeiro signed a 2-year, $7 million extension with the Nashville Predators.

G Kari Ramo signed a 1-year $3.8 million extension with the Calgary Flames.

F Patrick Eaves and the Dallas Stars agreed to a 1-year, $1.15 million contract extension.

The Detroit Red Wings resigned F Andy Miele to a 1-year, $575,000 contract.

The Minnesota Wild announced that they have resigned F Mikael Granlund to a 2-year, $6 million ($3 million AAV) contract.

F Stanislav Galiev signed a 2-year, $1.15 million, contract extension with the Washington Capitals.

D Yannick Weber signed a 1-year, $1.5 million extension with the Vancouver Canucks.

G Tom McCollum resigned with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed D Matt Hunwick to a 2-year deal, $2.4 million contract worth an AAV of $1.2 million.

The New York Islanders signed G Thomas Greiss to a 2-year, $3 million deal.

D Francois Beauchemin signed a 3-year, $4.5 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

D Taylor Chorney signed a 1-year deal, worth $700,000 with the Washington Capitals.

D Adam Pardy and the Winnipeg Jets agreed to a 1-year, $1 million contract extension.

F Matt Halischuk signed a 1-year, two-way, $750,000 deal with the Winnipeg Jets.

The New York Islanders and D Thomas Hickey agreed to a 3-year contract (resign).

D Nate Prosser signed a 2-year extension with the Minnesota Wild.

D Paul Martin and the San Jose Sharks agreed to a 4-year contract worth $4.85 million AAV.

The Edmonton Oilers signed D Andrej Sekera to a 6-year deal worth $5.5 million in AAV.

F Blake Comeau signed a 3-year, $2.4 million AAV deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

NYI signed 2008 draft pick, Kirill Petrov, to an entry-level contract.

Edmonton also signed F Mark Letestu to a 3-year, $5.4 million contract.

The Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to a 2-year deal with G Michal Neuvirth.

D Chris Butler resigned with the St. Louis Blues, 1-year, $675,000.

F Brad Richardson signed a 3-year, $6.25 million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Chicago Blackhawks and F Viktor Tikhonov agreed to a 1-year, $1.04 million deal.

The Arizona Coyotes agreed to a 1-year, $1.75 million deal with F Steve Downie.

D Matt Bartkowski signed a 1-year, $1.75 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Carolina Hurricanes resigned F Riley Nash to a 1-year, $1.15 million deal.

D Zybnek Michalek signed a 2-year, $6.4 million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Calgary Flames signed F Michael Frolik to a 5-year, $4.3 million AAV contract.

G Anders Lindback signed a $875,000 contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

Jori Lehtera signed a 3-year, $14.1 million contract extension with the St. Louis Blues.

D Rasmus Rissanen resigned with the Carolina Hurricanes on a 1-year, two-way contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed D Jaccob Slavin to a 3-year entry-level contract.

G Jhonas Enroth agreed to a 1-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings worth $1.25 million.

D Barrett Jackson agreed to a 2-year, $4 million contract with the Nashville Predators.

The Montreal Canadiens signed D Greg Pateryn to a 2-year, $1.6 million contract extension.

F Alexander Burmistrov and the Winnipeg Jets agree on a 2-year contract extension worth $1.55 million AAV.

G Mike McKenna signed a deal with the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers signed D Sena Acolatse to a contract.

F Shane Harper signed a deal with the Florida Panthers.

F Ryan Carter signed a 1-year, $625,000 contract with the Minnesota Wild.

D David Warsofsky signed a 1-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D Raphael Diaz signed an extension with the New York Rangers.

The Vancouver Canucks signed G Richard Bachman to a contract.

F Erik Condra signed a 3-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth an AAV of $1.25 million.

F P.A. Parenteau signed a 1-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $1.5 million.

The New York Rangers signed F Jayson Megna to a contract.

F Matt Lindblad signed a deal with the New York Rangers.

F Cody Hodgson signed a 1-year, $1.05 million, deal with the Nashville Predators.

F Cal O’Reilly signed a 2-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, worth $700,000 per year.

The Ottawa Senators agreed to a 1-year, two-way, contract with F Eric O’Dell worth $700,000 at the NHL level, $300,000 in the AHL.

The Buffalo Sabres signed D Matt Donovan to a 1-year contract.

The Dallas Stars signed F Curtis McKenzie to a 2-year contract extension.

D John Moore signed a 3-year deal with the New Jersey Devils.

F Zach Stortini signed a 2-year, two-way, contract with the Ottawa Senators.

F Blake Coleman signed an entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils.

The Vancouver Canucks signed D Taylor Fedun.

F Derek Grant and the Calgary Flames agreed to a two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level.

The New York Rangers agreed to a contract with F Viktor Stahlberg worth $1.1 million.

F Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres agreed to a 3-year entry-level contract.

F Ruslan Fedotenko agreed to a two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild.

The Montreal Canadiens signed D Joel Hanley to a 1-year, two-way, contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed D T.J. Hensick to a 1-year, two-way contract.

F Sergei Plotnikov agreed to a 1-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D Mike Kostka agreed to a two-way deal with the Ottawa Senators.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed F Richard Panik to a 1-year extension worth $975,000.

The New York Rangers signed F Brian Gibbons.

F Conor Sheary agreed to a 2-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

F Kael Mouillierat and the Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to a 1-year contract.

The Minnesota Wild resigned F Jared Knight to a 1-year, two-way, $761,000 contract.

D Mike Green signed a 3-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings worth $6 million AAV ($18 million total).

F Kevin Porter signed a 1-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Boston Bruins resigned F Ryan Spooner with a 2-year, $1.9 million contract.

D Cameron Gaunce agreed to terms with the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers also signed D Brett Regner.

The Arizona Coyotes signed D Dylan Reese to a 1-year, two-way contract.

F Mark Arcobello agreed to a 1-year deal, worth $1.1 million, with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Minnesota Wild signed F Zac Dalpe to a two-way contract.

D Steven Oleksy signed a 1-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

F Paul Thompson signed a 2-year, two-way, extension with the New Jersey Devils worth $575,000 a year.

The Minnesota Wild signed F Marc Hagel to a contract extension.

F Brad Richards signed a 1-year, $3 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

The St. Louis Blues agreed to terms with F Pat Cannone.

The Buffalo Sabres signed F Jason Akeson to a two-way deal.

The Minnesota Wild signed G Steve Michalek to a two-year, entry-level contract.

In a bundle of signings, the Washington Capitals signed F Carter Camper, F Sean Collins, D Mike Moore, and D Aaron Ness to 1-year, two-way, contracts.

The Anaheim Ducks signed G Matt Hackett to a 2-year contract and F Chris Mueller and D Joe Piskula to 1-year contracts in a bundle of their own.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed Tim Brent and D Davis Drewiske to 1-year, two-way, contracts and Chris Conner to a 2-year, two-way contract.

F Gregory Campbell signed a 2-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets worth $1.5 million AAV.

The Montreal Canadiens signed D Mark Barberio to a 1-year, two-way, $600,000 contract.

The Tampa Bay Lightning agreed to terms with D Matt Taormina on a 1-year, two-way, contract.

F Matt Beleskey and the Boston Bruins agreed to a 5-year, $19 million ($3.8 AAV) contract. NMC on the first 2 years.

D Kevin Gravel signed an extension with the Los Angeles Kings with a 2-year deal.

The Montreal Canadiens and F George Halloway agreed to a 1-year, two way contract.

F Daniel Winnik returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a 2-year deal, with an AAV of $2.25 million, after splitting time with Toronto and Pittsburgh in 2014-2015.

The Arizona Coyotes signed D Dakota Mermis to an entry-level contract. Arizona also signed F Dustin Jeffrey to a 2-year contract.

F Antoine Vermette and the Arizona Coyotes reached an agreement on a 2-year contract, worth $3.75 million AAV.

The New Jersey Devils signed F Jim O’Brien to a 1-year, two-way contract.

F Shawn Horcoff signed a 1-year, $1.75 million, deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

G Nathan Lieuwen signed his qualifying offer from the Buffalo Sabres, agreeing to a 1 year, $605,000, two-way contract.

The San Jose Sharks signed John McCarthy to a 1-year, two-way, $600,000 contract.

G Jeremy Smith and the Boston Bruins agreed to a 1-year, two-way, $600,000 extension.

The New York Islanders signed Joe Whitney to a 1-year, two-way, $750,000 contract.

F Justin Williams signed a 2-year deal with the Washington Capitals worth $6.5 million ($3.25 million AAV).

Trades made on July 1st:

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded F Phil Kessel, F Tyler Biggs, D Tim Erixson, and a conditional 2016 2nd round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for F Nick Spaling, D Scott Harrington, F Kasperi Kapanen, a 2016 3rd round pick and a conditional 2016 1st round pick. Toronto retained 15% of Kessel’s salary ($1.25 million a year).

The Vancouver Canucks sent F Zack Kassian to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for F Brandon Prust and a 2016 5th round pick.

F Max Reinhart was traded to the Nashville Predators by the Calgary Flames in exchange for a conditional 4th round pick.

The New York Rangers acquired G Magnus Hellberg from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2017 6th round pick.

The Boston Bruins sent F Reilly Smith and the contract of F Marc Savard to the Florida Panthers in exchange for F Jimmy Hayes.

The First Round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (a Recap)

By: Nick Lanciani

2015 NHL Entry Draft

  1. Edmonton Oilers C Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL)
  2. Buffalo Sabres C Jack Eichel, Boston University (Hockey East)
  3. Arizona Coyotes C Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)
  4. Toronto Maple Leafs C Mitch Marner, London (OHL)
  5. Carolina Hurricanes D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (Hockey East)
  6. New Jersey Devils C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia (OHL)
  7. Philadelphia Flyers D Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)
  8. Columbus Blue Jackets D Zach Werenski, Michigan University (BIG10)
  9. San Jose Sharks RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)
  10. Colorado Avalanche RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS (FIN)
  11. Florida Panthers LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston (OHL)
  12. Dallas Stars RW Denis Guryanov, Ladia Togliatti (MHL)
  13. Boston Bruins (from LA) D Jakub Zboril, Saint John (QMJHL)
  14. Boston Bruins LW Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current (WHL)
  15. Boston Bruins (from CGY) RW Zach Senyshyn, Sault St. Marie (OHL)
  16. New York Islanders (from PIT via EDM) C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)
  17. Winnipeg Jets LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)
  18. Ottawa Senators D Thomas Chabot, Saint John (QMJHL)
  19. Detroit Red Wings LW Evgeny Svechnikov, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
  20. Minnesota Wild C Joel Eriksson Ek, Farjestad (SWE)
  21. Ottawa Senators (from NYI via BUF) C Colin White, USA U18 (USHL) 
  22. Washington Capitals G Ilya Samsonov, Magnitorgotrsk (MHL)
  23. Vancouver Canucks RW Brock Boeser, Waterloo (USHL)
  24. Philadelphia Flyers (from NSH via TOR) C/RW Travis Konecny, Ottawa (OHL)
  25. Winnipeg Jets (from STL via BUF) F Jack Roslovic, USA U18 (USHL)
  26. Montreal Canadiens D Noah Juulsen, Everett (WHL)
  27. Anaheim Ducks D Jacob Larsson, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR)
  28. New York Islanders (from NYR via TB) LW Anthony Beauvillier, Sherwinigan (OHL)
  29. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TB via PHI and TOR) D Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping, Jr. (SWE-JR)
  30. Arizona Coyotes (from CHI) C/RW Nicholas Merkley, Kelowna (WHL)

Pre Draft Trades

  • The Buffalo Sabres acquired G Robin Lehner and F David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators for the 21st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
  • The Boston Bruins traded D Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for the 15th, 45th, and 52nd overall picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
  • The Los Angeles Kings acquired F Milan Lucic from the Boston Bruins for the 13th overall pick, G Martin Jones, and D Colin Miller. Boston retained $2.7 million of Lucic’s salary.

Trades Made During the Draft

  • The Buffalo Sabres acquired F Ryan O’Reilly and F Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche for F Mikhail Grigorenko, D Nikita Zadorov, and F J.T. Compher and the 31st overall pick.
  •  The Edmonton Oilers trade the 16th and 33rd overall picks to the New York Islanders for D Griffin Reinhart.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs sent the 24th overall pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the 29th and 61st overall picks.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning swapped the 28th overall pick with the New York Islanders for the 33rd and 72nd overall picks.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs sent the 29th overall pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 34th and 68th overall picks.
  • The Anaheim Ducks acquired the 41st overall pick and a 2016 draft pick from the New Jersey Devils for Kyle Palmieri.

2015 Mock NHL Entry Draft

By: Nick Lanciani


1. Edmonton Oilers
                                                  C Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL)200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg

Peter Chiarelli’s reign as GM of the Oilers begins with one of the most hyped turnarounds in hockey. Chiarelli’s leadership, combined with whatever decisions he makes in the offseason and drafting McDavid has talk of the Oilers making the playoffs, if not next season, then in the near future. A lot nearer than before. McDavid’s the best, period.

2. Buffalo Sabres                                                       C Jack Eichel, Boston University (H-East)Buffalo Sabres Logo

Eichel forgives Sabres GM, Tim Murray, on the stage with a professional handshake and is reunited (?- although they were never separated in the first place) with Evan Rodrigues. It’s possible that both make the roster on the same line.

3. Arizona Coyotes                                                    C Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)Arizona_Coyotes.svg

Big, strong, great skating abilities- Strome is NHL ready as the plethora of talent youth in the desert continues to grow, that is unless they trade this pick. No matter the owner of the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Strome is a first choice franchise changer. While McDavid and Eichel overshadow him in the leadup to the Draft, Strome finds his niche and competes next season for the Calder.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs                                             D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (H-East)Unknown-3

Mike Babcock and Noah Hanifin make their Toronto debuts as legendary head coach, and potential NHL superstar defenseman, respectively in none other than the biggest market in the NHL. Hanifin is the best defenseman in the draft and Maple Leafs fans are going to love him (more than Dion Phaneuf!).

5. Carolina Hurricanes                                              C Mitchell Marner, London (OHL)Carolina Hurricanes Logo

This guy is a really skilled playmaker with 128 assists and 185 points in 127 career OHL games. He’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane and Jordan Eberle, with great vision and passing skills. Not a steal of the draft, but a great player to draft.

6. New Jersey Devils                                                 C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia (OHL)New Jersey Devils Logo

He effortlessly transitioned from the Czech Republic to North America. He’s 6’3”, 210 pounds, and can play a two way game. Think of him as this year’s bigger version of Boston’s David Pastrnak, if that suffices your hopes. Zacha could be the centerpiece to the Devils rebuild and Ray Shero’s master plan.

7. Philadelphia Flyers                                                 LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston (OHL)Philadelphia Flyers Logo

6’4”, 211 pounds, and a physical force on the ice, Crouse brings a much needed power forward caliber to the Flyers lineup and adds size to their roster. Actually, he fits the Philadelphia style perfectly, big and tough.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets                                         D Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)Columbus Blue Jackets Logo

Extraordinary at the 2015 World Junior Championship for Finland- 6’4”, 209 lbs, effective on the power-play, and difficult to move off the puck. Has hockey sense and hands that supplement his shot. Next to Hanifin, he’s one of the best defensemen of the draft. Columbus fans should get used to seeing Jack Johnson pair up with Provorov in the future.

9. San Jose Sharks                                                     D Zachary Werenski, Michigan (BIG10)Unknown-3

The youngest player in NCAA history joins the youth movement in San Jose. He can block shots and adjust on the fly. He’s got some size to work with at 6’2”, 206 lbs. Werenski was named to the All-Big Ten Hockey First Team and the All-Big Ten Freshman Team this season.

10. Colorado Avalanche                                             RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS (FIN)Colorado Avalanche Logo

He’s a big power forward that will provide some oomph in the Avalanche’s otherwise soft lineup. Rantanen’s a decent skater for his age and should be a part of Colorado’s retooling, as they gear up to avoid another disappointing season like this past season. Signing Carl Soderberg and trading Ryan O’Reilly for valuable parts will help put them in position for being a playoff contending team in 2015-2016.

11. Florida Panthers                                                   C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)Unknown-2

Offensively minded, Barzal was injured for a lot of WHL action. The Panthers luck out on a player that just may be able to make those around him better. He’s a 5’11”, 175-pound right shot forward with vision, playmaking skills, and had 12-45-57 totals in 44 games. Barzal also scored 4 times in 6 WHL playoff games.

12. Dallas Stars                                                           RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)Unknown-5

Scored 44 goals in 61 games for Halifax this season. He can also be a playmaker as he had 46 assists this year too. Oh and he’s 6’1”, 209 lbs. Meier is exactly the player you want to covet if you are the Stars looking for substantial youth to build around.

13. Los Angeles Kings                                                LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)Unknown

6’1”, 177 pounds, led the USHL in scoring with 80 points. His 34 goals ranked fourth in the USHL, with 9 game-winning goals and 32 points on the power play. Connor’s got quickness and hands that can do things with the puck on his stick.

14. Boston Bruins                                                        C Travis Konecny, Ottawa (OHL)Unknown

His second half of the regular season in the OHL really displayed his skill level. With that said, his size isn’t much of an issue as his compete level and willingness is unmatched- and so is his work ethic. Had 29-39-68 totals in 60 games with the 67’s this season. Despite needing defense, the Bruins go with something else they need- offense.

15. Calgary Flames                                                      D Jakub Zboril, Saint John (QMJHL)Calgary Flames Logo

Zboril plays a willingly physical game despite only being 6’1”, 184 lbs. His shot from the point could come in handy on the power play. In general, he adds versatility to Calgary’s defense and the Flames walk away filling exactly what they need, some future youth on the blueline.

16. Edmonton Oilers (from PIT)                                    D Oliver Kylington, AIK (SWE-2)200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg

Kylington is a two-way defenseman that with proper development can fully utilize his skill set. Edmonton adds valuable youth to their blue line as their forwards continue to gain experience and begin carrying more of their weight. Likewise, they need a replacement for the deadline deal that sent Jeff Petry to Montreal. Looks like Peter Chiarelli’s still looking for a defenseman after all.

17. Winnipeg Jets                                                         C/RW Nicholas Merkely, Kelowna (WHL)Unknown-3

Merkely’s a great playmaker that knows how to crash the net with precision and skill. He also has a great hockey IQ that makes up for some lacking physical qualities in his game. Strong on the power play and spectacular on the penalty kill, Merkely brings a tremendous compete level and had 20-70-90 totals in Kelowna.

18. Ottawa Senators                                                     C Colin White, USA U18 (USHL)Unknown-2

Can’t go wrong with one of the best skaters in the draft. The Senators pick a forward that can move with the puck and carry it defiantly out of his own zone with ease. It also helps that he’s physically difficult to knock off the puck. He’s been compared to Patrice Bergeron and might be this year’s steal of the draft. White pays excellent attention to detail and wearing the opponent down by out playing his opponent all over the ice.

19. Detroit Red Wings                                                   LW Evgeny Svechnikov, Cape Breton (QMJHL)Unknown-1

He’s a big power forward that will bring some physicality to the Red Wings lineup. Svechnikov made a seemless transition to North American play, leading QMJHL rookie’s with 78 points in 55 games. This 6’2”, 199-pound left-winger is too tough to pass on and draws comparisons to another Evgeni- Malkin, that is.

20. Minnesota Wild                                                        D Brandon Carlo, Tri-City (WHL)Unknown-4

The 6’5”, 196 lb. defenseman brings size and athleticism as a shutdown defenseman. He’s definitely more defensive minded, but that fits with Minnesota given the mindset behind Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin, among others. Did I mention he’s huge? Again, shutdown. Adds enough of a physical element to go deeper in the playoffs.

21. Buffalo Sabres (from NYI)                                        G Mackenzie Blackwood, Barrie (OHL)Unknown-3

The Sabres are daring enough to take a chance at drafting a goalie in the 1st Round, given their numerous selections. While they skip over Ilya Samsonov, they go with the 6’4”, 215 lbs, Colts starter who had a 3.01 GAA in 51 games played with Barrie. The upside is that Blackwood’s a big goalie, fitting recent trends, the downside is that Buffalo still needs a goalie for the looming season.

22. Washington Capitals                                               LW Paul Bittner, Portland (WHL)Washington Capitals Logo

At 6’4”, 205 lbs. this LW adds some much needed size on a transitioning Capitals roster. He’s a power forward that’s willing to be the first to rush in on a dump and chase, which fits in well with Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Adding his size and aggression makes Washington a tougher team to play against.

23. Vancouver Canucks                                                D Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping Jr. (SWE-JR)Unknown-1

6’4”, 183-pounds, this left-shot defenseman is big and intelligent for his position. He’s a stay at home defenseman. Carlsson uses his size and strength as well as you need him to. He’s not an immediate replacement for Dan Hamhuis or Kevin Bieksa, but is ready to be the plan for the Canuck’s life after one or the other. Carlsson also has a reliable reach, given his height and nature of play.

24. Toronto Maple Leafs (from NSH)                             D Thomas Chabot, Saint John (QMJHL)Unknown-3

6’1”, 181 lbs. Smart transitional skating defenseman that can handle pressure in getting the puck out of his own zone- he’s a natural fit in Toronto’s energetic, young, roster. Mike Babcock will be able to manage his defensemen just fine with the Maple Leafs stockpiling on the blueline as a result of this draft.

25. Winnipeg Jets (from STL via BUF)                           C Joel Eriksson Ek, Farjestad (SWE)Unknown-3

Eriksson Ek is a 6’2”, 180 pound, left handed shot that is strong on faceoffs and plays a two way game. He brings size down the middle for the Jets, a much-needed commodity, and has great vision. Eriksson Ek was ranked 4th overall on the NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of European skaters.

26. Montreal Canadiens                                                D Jacob Larsson, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR)Unknown

6’2”, 191 lbs. Sweden knows how to make solid defensemen and Montreal begins to replenish their defensive prospects, given how their current blueline is aging. Larsson reads situations well and controls the puck excellently. While he transitions well, Larsson will need to put a bit more muscle on him before seeing full time NHL action.

27. Anaheim Ducks                                                        RW Brock Boeser, Waterloo (USHL)Unknown

Boeser is a two-way forward that was tied for first in the United States Hockey League with 35 goals and 32 points on the power play in 57 regular season games. The 6-foot, 191-pound, winger was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team and All-USHL First Team. Boeser will need to refine some elements of his game, but looks to continue to develop appropriately at the University of North Dakota this fall.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR)                            RW Daniel Sprong, Charlottetown (QMJHL)Unknown-1

Sprong is a nifty playmaker with good hands and great speed, but he’ll need to get stronger to make the transition to the NHL and add grit to his already impressive offensive game. His 270 shots on goal were the 10th most in the QMJHL, so he likes to shoot with impressive accuracy and a quick release.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (from TB)                                   LW Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current (WHL)Philadelphia Flyers Logo

DeBrusk is always following the puck, whether it’s on the forecheck or forcing turnovers. He can be excellent on the power play, focused on moving the puck where it needs to go and scoring. DeBrusk had 120 points in 144 games over two seasons with Swift Current and his tenacity is astounding. He might also bring some physicality to Philly, at 6’4”, 174 pounds, which is much appreciated by their fans who cherish hard working, tough, players.

30. Arizona Coyotes (from CHI)                                     C Filip Chlapik, Charlottetown (QMJHL)Arizona_Coyotes.svg

Positioning is one of Chlapik’s best assets, whether it’s with or without the puck, he goes to the right places. Smooth skating, with vision, he’s pretty decent all around as a 6’1”, 196-pound center. He was tied for the lead among QMJHL rookies with 33 goals in 64 games played. His impressive 33-42-75 totals help supplement his case as a first rounder. Chlapik also won 48.8% of his faceoffs in a solid transition from the Czech Republic to the North American style of the game.

*Barring any trades, this is how I see it progressing, but I’d like to see a lot of trades just to destroy my mock draft picks, like how someone always destroys any bracket I’ve ever made for any sport.

Other Prospects To Watch For

RW Michael Spacek, Pardubice (CZREP)

C Nicolas Roy, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)NHL Logo

C Jansen Harkins, Prince George (WHL)

LW Jordan Greenway, USA U18 (USHL)

D, Jeremy Roy, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

G, Ilya Samsonov, Magnitorgorsk (MHL)

RW, Denis Gurianov (MHL)

It’s Time for a Second Look

By: Nick Lanciani

It’s mind boggling that the NHL wouldn’t want to continue being a leader in sports and entertain the notion of having more than 30 teams in a league, for once, in North American sports. Okay, the NFL has 32 teams, I get that- but there’s this fascination for some odd reason that a successful sports league can only max out around 30 teams, given how the NHL, NBA, and MLB all have 30 teams in their leagues. Quite frankly, that’s a load of bull. The National Hockey League is old enough to still be young and reinventing itself, as was the case after the 2004-2005 lockout with the addition of new rules (the trapezoid) and the removal of old ones (two line passing).

What I mean is, the NHL is not Major League Baseball, which beats the “heritage” card to extinction year after year as to lamely explain why the MLB doesn’t change. While the MLB would never consider entertaining a franchise in Las Vegas (which would be a first in professional sports), the NHL could be a front-runner for professional sports of the future in North America. At least, given the eye of the young fan base that’s been keeping track of the league for the last few years, there’s a chance to really make a splash. Major League Soccer and the NHL’s interest in Las Vegas and other markets are good for their leagues and sports in general.

Peter Stastny center, flanked by brothers Marian (left) and Anton. All three played for the Quebec Nordiques in the 80s. Photos: HHoF
The Stastny brothers (from left to right, Marian, Peter, and Anton) were some of the first European superstars in the NHL back in the 80s. Photo: HHoF

While the MLS is adding a team in Atlanta in 2017, the NHL will likely stay away from Atlanta for eternity after two failed attempts at a hockey presence in Georgia. However, given the recent rate of expansion in the MLS, there’s a good chance that they too, will end up having 30 teams at some point. Soccer’s popularity in the United States is on the rise and it’s backed by the recent viewership of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, beating some traditional hockey markets, like Philadelphia, while a 2015 Stanley Cup Final game was being shown on TV at the same time. The two leagues are innovative and should work together as both sports gain popularity. As it is, hockey is becoming more mainstream by removing some of the importance once stressed on fighting, resulting in just as entertaining games as ever before.

Soccer is a sport best played with many teams and some form of relegation, like in Europe. While that model would not translate well with hockey, at some point the MLS is going to have to absorb many of the popular teams in developmental leagues, in order to make their game more exciting. The NHL should consider something similar when it comes to the minor league markets that are untapped, or have worked in the past. Expansion and relocation fees aside, both leagues should go for breaking the 30-team barrier.

The NHL as it exists right now, would be on the verge of going for it much sooner than the MLS and could act as an example of what to do and how to go about things. I’m in favor of 34 teams in 2017, the NHL’s 100th season. But first, let’s get back to Quebec (and the basics).

(Denis Brodeur/Getty)
Joe Sakic in his Quebec days, before the Nordiques moved to Denver (Denis Brodeur/Getty Images).

If the league is intent on adding franchises, a return to Quebec City, the inevitable Las Vegas team, an expansion to Seattle, and whatever else may come their way is exactly what the NHL needs. After watching the Winnipeg Jets play in their first playoff game at home since the original Winnipeg Jets left for Arizona 19 years ago, I cannot help but think that the NHL needs to return to another small market, where hockey has already worked, and everyone loves the game. There’s a place that is more readily equipped for a National Hockey League return- Quebec City.

Whereas a former member of the NHL, Hartford, doesn’t have an adequate arena to play in and potential spotty ownership, Quebec City has the 18,482 seat Videotron Centre- set to open this September. The brand new arena will have all the top-notch amenities and will be NHL move-in ready, should the league wish to expand or a team relocate, such as the Coyotes in their dreaded current state. Fear not, Arizona and Gary Bettman nay-sayers, the league’s experiment is just starting to see results in the growth of the game in the Southwestern region of the United States.

The Videotron Centre (Centre Vidéotron) sits in the background of the Pepsi Coliseum (Colisée Pepsi). DIDIER DEBUSSCHERE/JOURNAL DE QUEBEC/AGENCE QMI
The Videotron Centre (Centre Vidéotron) sits in the background of the Pepsi Coliseum (Colisée Pepsi). DIDIER DEBUSSCHERE/JOURNAL DE QUEBEC/AGENCE QMI

And don’t get me wrong, Connecticut, you guys love hockey and still love the Whalers to this day. It’s not realistic in Hartford’s current state, for an NHL return anytime soon. Yet, I’ll still be one of the first to help you demand a return and shout, “Bring back the Whalers!” should there be a more immediate and reasonable plan. But there’s a place that is more readily equipped for a National Hockey League return- Quebec City.

But what’s holding everyone back? Canada is able to sustain at least eight franchises, if not more, and hockey is Canada’s game after all. The league made the best of a hurtful breakup in its return to Winnipeg back in 2011, surely NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and crew can make due on Quebec’s aching heart since 1995 when the original Quebec Nordiques fled the struggling Canadian dollar and the lack of a locally interested owner and went west to become the Colorado Avalanche. Perhaps the league will find enough heart to forgive the Nordiques from almost rebranding with awful looking 90s teal on an otherwise decent looking jersey.

I mean, if the league is serious about adding a team in Las Vegas, which might not carry longevity, then why not look for a place with more staying power than whatever Vegas would become. The original Nordiques survived in the league from 1979 to 1995. Despite some down years, Quebec was on an impressive turnaround at the end of the 1994-1995 season. The team that moved wound up winning the Stanley Cup in their first season in Colorado.

The whiteout was in full force in Winnipeg in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo By: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images
The whiteout was in full force in Winnipeg in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo By: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Among teams that no longer exist, Quebec Nordiques merchandise ranks second to the Hartford Whalers in sales. Still not convinced about the staying power of a new Quebec Nordiques franchise? Look at the return of the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s a small hockey market, but they sell out every seat in the 15,004 seating capacity MTS Centre for every home game, despite missing the playoffs from the 2011-2012 season to last season. In their first game back to the postseason, the MTS Centre was rocking at 124 dB from time to time as reported by Sportsnet.

Imagine how loud it would be in the Videotron Centre for the Nordiques return or their first provincial rivalry regular season meet-up with the Montreal Canadiens since 1995- in any case, it’d be awesome. As an aside, Boston Bruins fans would gladly welcome another team that despises the Habs. They’ll even forgive Ron Tugnutt for his extraordinary 70 save performance on 73 shots on goal en route to the Nordiques 3-3 tie against the Bruins on March 21, 1991, even though some of their modern day fans were not even alive then.

The NHL obviously has issues with adding another team to the Eastern Conference before adding anything to the Western Conference due to its current imbalance with 16 teams in the East and 14 in the West. The easiest way to solve the original realignment problem created when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg four years ago would have been to simply swap the Jets with the Nashville Predators in their respective divisions. Winnipeg would have gone to the Central, while Nashville would have gone to the Southeast in a geographically sensible maneuver.

However, the league decided to consolidate the divisions from six to four and swapped Winnipeg for Detroit and Columbus. In the process, each conference makes geographic sense, with a focus on cutting travel expenses and reducing a carbon footprint league-wide. Yet, while the Central and Pacific Divisions are perfect, the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions are somewhat flawed. Yes, with all of the teams from the old Northeast Division, plus Detroit, somehow the Atlantic Division also has the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Division has both the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers.

It’d make sense to swap both New York City teams with both Florida teams, citing the exact same reasons the NHL came up with in the first place, but for whatever reason, that is frowned upon. It’s not like it wouldn’t saturate the market or anything, because as it is, New York already has three teams (four if you count the New Jersey Devils in Newark, New Jersey). While, yes, the Buffalo Sabres and both the Rangers and Islanders have a little distance between them, it’s nothing compared to Florida and Tampa.

And speaking of the Florida Panthers, it’s only a matter of time- no matter how good the product on the ice may get- before they have to relocate. The Panthers and Sunrise, Florida may find themselves at odds much like how Glendale, Arizona is in legal upheavals with the Arizona Coyotes. A hockey team in the suburbs of a non-traditional market isn’t proven to profit. But where should the Panthers end up without causing much fuss over realignment?

REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

You guessed it- Quebec City. They’re already in the Atlantic Division, so absolutely nothing would have to be changed except for all franchise trademarks and whatnot regarding the transition from the Panthers to the, newly returned, Nordiques. In foresight, it’s not hard to fall in love with the furthest north professional sports franchise after all of the neglect it saw in one of the most southern nontraditional hockey markets.

Oh and if New Jersey had to move for whatever reason, given their recent downturn and less than stellar attendance, then Quebec is a prime destination. Realignment would still be simple, swap Quebec with one of the Florida teams and maybe then the NHL would have to realize it should kick the other Florida team to the Metropolitan Division and insert the New York Rangers (or Islanders) into the Atlantic Division. Then again, relocation of either the Panthers or the Devils could just mean that the league would send them west to Seattle or Las Vegas and call it a day, having a balanced fifteen teams in both conferences, but that wouldn’t be any fun, wouldn’t it?

Look, I’m all for a team in Seattle, so here’s what you do. Add an expansion franchise to Seattle and force Detroit back to the Western Conference; because we all know two matchups a year between longstanding rivals, the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks, really aren’t enough. Then add a team in Quebec City to make it a nice thirty-two-team league with sixteen teams in each conference. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see a reincarnation of the Nordiques after the beautifully aesthetic appeal of the current Jets installment?

That’s right, I’m saying that when the NHL goes back to Quebec City, it’s not a bad idea to modernize the franchise. The igloo with a hockey stick that somewhat formed the shape of an “n” with its tricolor scheme and fleur-de-lis all over the jerseys was great- timeless even, a classic for traditionalist vintage hockey fans- but there are some great concepts on the Internet for glorious designs in the event of a rebirth of the Nordiques.

This is my favorite of all the Quebec concepts on Icethetics.
This is my favorite of all the Quebec concepts on Icethetics.

I think a darker shade of navy blue would suffice, with maybe a snowy owl and the city skyline or something that is distinctive of Quebec City, and of course sharp looking fleur-de-lis prominently featured on the bottom half of the sweater and along the pants. If you have the time, go check out some great designs on Icethetics.co, some great concept artists have really gone all out on creating the perfect symbol for what should be a return to the true north strong and free- Quebec City.

In this day and age, with the billion dollar industry that is the sports world, it shouldn’t be hard to find an owner and work with the largely French speaking fan base. Back in the days of the original Nordiques, English speaking fans flocked to the Quebec City team over the much more hardcore French speaking franchise over in Montreal. Obviously it must have been the warm and inviting ­fleur-de-lis calling them to the light side of The Force in the battle of Quebec. Either that or it was because of the great players that once graced the ice at Colisée Pepsi, such as the Stastny brothers, Mats Sundin, Guy Lafleur, Owen Nolan, Peter Forsberg, and my favorite- Joe Sakic.

The bottom line, folks, Quebec City has an important mark on the history of hockey. It was once home to the Quebec Bulldogs who spent one season in the NHL (1919-1920) before moving to Hamilton, Ontario to become the Hamilton Tigers and it was once home to the 1977 Avco World Trophy champions as the World Hockey Association’s top team before joining the NHL in the WHA-NHL merger in 1979- the Quebec Nordiques. Isn’t it time that someone brought the game back where it belongs for all of us to enjoy? Even in the face of the uncertainty of the salary cap situation currently and the issues that are once again surrounding the Canadian dollar, I mean, hockey is for everyone, after all.

Kruger Ends Longest Game in Blackhawks History, Series Tied 1-1

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 2 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2After a 4-1 loss in Game 1, the Chicago Blackhawks made sure they started Game 2 with a bit more intensity- and that they did. After leading 2-0, the Blackhawks almost let the Anaheim Ducks take a 2-0 series lead after Anaheim tied the game in the 2nd period. But it would take three overtimes before Game 2 was settled.

Marcus Kruger scored just his 2nd of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, clinching the 3-2 win and tying the 2015 Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece, in what had started as Tuesday night on the East Coast and spilled over to shortly after two in the morning on Wednesday. It was Chicago’s longest game in franchise history, surpassing a 3-2 triple overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens back on April 9th, 1931.

Corey Crawford, the winning goaltender, made 60 saves on 62 shots against, while Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen made 53 saves on 56 shots. Combined, both teams had 118 shots on goal. Game 3 of the series shifts to the United Center in Chicago on Thursday night.

At 2:14 of the first period, Chicago’s Andrew Shaw, got the Blackhawks on the board on a power play goal assisted by Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews. About four minutes later, the Blackhawks scored another power play goal, this time on a deflection from Marian Hossa, assisted by Bryan Bickell (who tipped it towards Hossa in the first place) and Brad Richards. It was the first two goal deficit that the Anaheim Ducks faced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As things looked more and more like the game was going to be all Chicago, the Ducks found their way on the scoreboard with a deflection of their own off of the skate of Andrew Cogliano, assisted by Nate Thompson and Cam Fowler. The Honda Center crowd was right back in the thick of things as momentum pulled a 180 and began favoring Anaheim.

By the end of the 1st period, the Blackhawks were outshooting the Ducks 12-7- much like how they outshot the Ducks for the entirety of Game 1- while hits were 24-15 in favor of Anaheim, and faceoff wins were 12-9 in favor of Chicago.

The 2nd period saw the familiar domination we’ve come to expect from the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anaheim played a more physical game than the Blackhawks in Game 1 and continued to play a more physical game in Game 2, leading 35-23 in hits at the end of forty minutes of play.

UnknownCorey Perry scored his 8th goal of the playoffs on what was yet another deflection on the night and tied the game 2-2 for the Ducks. Perry’s goal was assisted by Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen.

In total, three penalties were called in the 2nd period (one more than the 1st period), as the period came to a close with some 4 on 4 action. For the first time in the series, Anaheim led Chicago 26-19 in shots on goal. Both teams were 24-24 in faceoff wins at the end of two periods.

The third period saw some action, but neither team was able to score, sending the game into overtime. The first overtime witnessed some great chances early on from both the Ducks on Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks on Frederik Andersen, however fatigue soon set in around the ten-minute mark and both teams lost the rhythm of the game. Ducks fans, however were still loud and thumping as the clock struck midnight on the East Coast (alas, it was only 9:00 PM PT).

Anaheim couldn’t capitalize on a great opportunity when Crawford was down and a bit too far out of the crease- Simon Despres just couldn’t settle the puck enough on a backhand, empty net, opportunity. Andersen had 8 saves in the first overtime, while Crawford had 9 saves in the same time span. The shots on goal total at the end of the first overtime were 43-36 in favor of Anaheim. The Blackhawks continued to trail in hits, 58-38, and faceoff wins, 44-35.

Andrew Shaw thought he had scored about midway in double overtime, but the goal was waved off after review determined that he had head-butted the puck into the net- resulting in a direct, umm, heading motion that was not controlled by his stick, nor unintentional, hence it was an illegal goal. The second overtime then saw even more fatigue (although the fans were still loud and chanting “Let’s Go Ducks!”) and an ever increasingly tired writer, so I’m just going to skip to the third overtime, if you don’t mind.

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Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

At 16:12 of triple overtime, Marcus Kruger scored on a bit of a floppy play and subsequently celebrated with the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks after winning the longest game in franchise history. In all, Anaheim led the night in hits with 71 compared to Chicago’s 45, faceoff wins (59-53), and blocked shots (35-29). For the second game in a row, the team that had fewer shots on goal won the game.

Blackhawks defenseman, Duncan Keith, led time on ice totals for the night, spending nearly fifty minutes (49:51 to be exact) skating around. Kruger’s game winning goal was assisted by Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya.

It is assumed that after some much needed rest, neither team will really feel up to practicing much before Game 3, understandably. Likewise, for the disappointed Anaheim fans that went home unsatisfied and beaten for the first time on home ice in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a day off from work sounds pretty good right about now.

Statistically speaking, the team that wins Game 3 in any series is more likely to go on and win the entire series, so Ducks fans should be able to take comfort in knowing that it’s only a 1-1 series currently and there’s always Thursday night in Chicago to take back control. Likewise for the Blackhawks that means they’ll be looking to ride the momentum of this epic win.

Game 3 can be caught on NBCSN at 8 PM EST on Thursday, May 21st, 2015 live from the United Center in Chicago.

2015 Western Conference Finals Preview

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2                                         2015 Western Conference Finals

Unknown1) Anaheim Ducks vs. 3) Chicago Blackhawks

Game 1 Sunday, May 17 3 PM EST on NBC

ANA- Round 1- defeated WPG in 4 games. Round 2- defeated CGY in 5 games. First WCF appearance since 2007 (the same year they won the Cup).

CHI- Round 1- defeated NSH in 6 games. Round 2- defeated MIN in 4 games. Fourth WCF appearance in six years (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015). 

Anaheim Ducks have home ice advantage.

Frederik Andersen and Corey Crawford, two goalies that you probably wouldn’t expect to hear about in the same conversation, but they’ve made it anyway- all the way to the 2015 Western Conference Finals, in fact. It might not be as much to do with goaltending, as it has been to do with dominance all around for both the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks so far in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Ducks have had plenty of offense from their star forwards Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, and others, and so have the Blackhawks in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa. Perry is the leading point scorer of the playoffs so far with 7-8-15 totals in 9 games played. Kane is second with 7-6-13 totals in 10 games.

Anaheim has the best power play completion percentage, 31.0%, while Chicago ranks 5th in the playoffs. Both teams have scored 3.20 goals per game or more (Anaheim again leads with a slight advantage, 3.89 goals per game, compared to Chicago’s 3.20 goals per game). Meanwhile, the Ducks also have an advantage in goals against per game, 2.00, compared to the Blackhawks 2.80, which ranks 11th out of the 16 teams in the playoffs.

Of the teams that have played at least 8 games in the playoffs, Anaheim has 5 skaters ranked in the top 10 in Corsi %, with Hampus Lindholm the highest ranking Duck in 2nd with a 58.84 Corsi%. The Ducks also have four players ranked between 11th and 20th in Corsi% with the same parameters as above. Chicago, on the other hand, has four players in the 11th through 20th range, leaving only Montreal’s Brandon Prust, and the New York Rangers, Dan Boyle, as the other representatives from other teams 11th-20th in Corsi%.

While Corsi is usually a good indicator of offensive production, in terms of shot attempts for, and defensive ability, in terms of lowering shot attempts against; Corsi has rendered all but useless thus far in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Seriously. The Calgary Flames made it as far as they did with the worse Corsi as a team (41.73 Corsi%) compared to the best in Corsi%, the St. Louis Blues (60.49)- and they lost in the First Round.

The bottom line- this series will be wide open and highly competitive. We’re in for some great hockey. Anaheim has a plethora of defensemen to enhance their stellar goaltending from Andersen and offensive ability from Perry, Kesler, and just about anyone else on any given night as they’ve shown since Game 1 against Winnipeg back in the first round.

Chicago has Kane, Toews, Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Crawford, and oh yeah- other clutch players- Johnny Oduya and well, practically everyone else on their roster. If needed, Scott Darling has proven that he can hold his own in times of trouble (or basically anytime Crawford gives up a lot of goals, high, glove side).

This series really won’t be about who is the better team, but rather, who has the puck luck at the right time. At the end of the day, whether it’s Anaheim or Chicago, either team has a much better chance of winning the Stanley Cup than the New York Rangers or the Tampa Bay Lightning.

If the Ducks are going to win this series, it’s going to be because everything kept clicking; Perry, Kesler, and Co. need to keep the ball rolling. If the Blackhawks are to win this series, it’ll be because Kane and Toews began putting on a show all on their own and controlled the Ducks.