The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft is still two full seasons away, but the Seattle expansion team is not messing around in the meantime. If early indications hold true, Seattle will make their presence felt in the NHL long before they actually become an official club. On Thursday night, the second night of the new campaign, Seattle is already out scouting the competition – or more likely the 2021 free agent class and possible Expansion Draft offerings. The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reports that, presumably for the first time, a Seattle scout is at a game in an official capacity. Former NHLer Stu Barnes is set to watch the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars square off, two talent-laden teams who will likely have tough decisions to make come expansion time. However, this is likely just the beginning. Expect Barnes and company to be a fixture at games for the next two years.
- With the Hurricanes’ Jordan Staal and Maple Leafs’ John Tavares recently joining the elite group that is NHL captains, the number of teams without a captain has shrunk even further. The Vegas Golden Knights have yet to name the first captain in franchise history, while the New York Rangers have also been without a captain since 2017-18. Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks have holdover vacancies from last season. However, this group is about lose yet another member. Canucks head coach Travis Green has stated that the team will formally announce their new captain ahead of their home opener on October 9. Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini confirmed as much today, stating that he, Green, and GM Jim Benning saw leadership begin to develop last season and feel they are ready to name a captain. Vancouver has already named four alternates – Alexander Edler, Bo Horvat, Brandon Sutter, and Chris Tanev – and the odds are that the new “C” will be one of the current “A”’s. If the team wants to reward loyalty and establish a veteran leader, Edler is the likely choice. If they want to anoint a young core player as the man to take the team into the future, Horvat will be the selection. Those two have a better chance than Sutter or Tanev, both of whom have seen their roles on the team questioned over the last year or so, but anything is possible.
- Speaking with Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes in his latest “31 Thoughts” column that it is his impression that the team is simply waiting and hoping for a better return on disgruntled prospect Jesse Puljujarvi. Puljujarvi followed through on his threat and signed in Europe this off-season when the Oilers wouldn’t trade him. Since then, Edmonton has shifted their focus solely to moving out the young winger, but only at a fair price. Friedman writes that Holland can only hope that Puljujarvi’s trade stock gets a boost from his performance in Finland. Thus far, Puljujarvi has seven points in eight games for the Liiga’s Karpat, which puts him in the top-20 scorers early on, but not exactly at the top. Friedman does mention some actual names – for the first time – that came up in trade talks this summer but were seemingly dismissed by Edmonton: a trio of forwards including the Carolina Hurricanes’ Julien Gauthier, the St. Louis Blues’ Klim Kostin, and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Alexander Volkov.
- Another NHL prospect staying in Europe for a while longer is the Canucks’ Petrus Palmu. After news emerged on Wednesday that he was likely to be officially loaned to JYP of the Liiga, the Finnish club confirmed the transfer today. Palmu, a 2017 sixth-round pick who signed his entry-level contract in 2018 and played briefly in the AHL to begin last season, will continue to develop overseas for another year at least. Now officially signed with JYP, Palmu is set to make his season debut this weekend.