- In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes that the Canadiens continue to be on the lookout for a left-shot defenseman and suggests they’ve checked in on Pittsburgh blueliner Juuso Riikola. The second-year rearguard has been caught in a numbers game this year and only made his season debut tonight where he was deployed as a left winger. Meanwhile, Kevin Kurz of The Athletic adds (Twitter link) that Montreal has been closely scouting San Jose. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brenden Dillon are presently their top two left-shot defenders and while Vlasic likely isn’t on the table at this stage, Dillon, a pending UFA, could be a speculative target if they’re keeping an eye on their defensemen.
It’s been a rough few seasons for Montreal Canadiens prospect Noah Juulsen, but hopefully things are starting get back on track. The team announced today that Juulsen has been medically cleared to return to action and will be joining the Laval Rocket of the AHL tonight in Milwaukee.
The 22-year old defenseman had been dealing with ongoing headaches this summer, after a vision-related injury kept him out for much of last season. Juulsen took two pucks to the face last November and ended up playing just 24 total games between the Canadiens and Rocket in 2018-19. Originally selected 26th overall in 2015, the young defender has looked promising whenever he gets on the ice, that just hasn’t ever lasted very long. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Juulsen has only played in 78 games at any level.
His return to the ice comes at a good time for Montreal, who are struggling to find much consistency on defense. The team has obvious talent among their NHL group, but have now given up 20 goals in their first five games and gotten off to a 1-1-2 start. Even that sole win was in a shootout, meaning things could have easily looked even worse had it not been for some Carey Price heroics against the Toronto Maple Leafs. While there’s no telling what kind of impact Juulsen will have right away, he’ll certainly be in the mix for NHL minutes if he can prove he is healthy again.
Thursday: Both players have cleared waivers. McCarron was immediately sent to the minor leagues.
Wednesday: According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the San Jose Sharks have placed Jonny Brodzinski on waivers today and he’ll be joined by Montreal Canadiens forward Michael McCarron. The Sharks needed to make room for Patrick Marleau, who is coming in on a one-year deal, while McCarron must be healthy enough to get back into game action after starting the year on season-opening injured reserve.
Brodzinski, 26, was brought in on a one-year, two-way contract after he became a Group VI unrestricted free agent this summer and allowed to compete for a job with the Sharks. He ended up landing one and played in the team’s last two games, but rarely saw the ice and is now likely headed for the minor leagues. Brodzinski has dominated the minor leagues throughout his young career, but can’t seem to find much opportunity at the NHL level. Through 56 career games, he has 11 points.
McCarron meanwhile has been down this road before with the Canadiens, as he cleared waivers at the end of the 2018 training camp as well. The 2013 first-round pick has suited up in 70 games for Montreal over the years, but has just eight points and has had a tough time even securing a fourth-line role. Standing 6’6″ he would provide the diminutive Canadiens group with some size down the middle if he could ever figure things out, but at 24 years old time is running out for McCarron to become an impact player.
Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and wonder “what could have been.” Though perfection is attempted, scouting and draft selection is far from an exact science and sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way teams – or players – intended. For every Patrick Kane, there is a Patrik Stefan.
We’re looking back at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and asking how it would shake out knowing what we do now. Will the first round remain the same, or will some late-round picks jump up to the top of the board?
Here are the results of the redraft so far, with their original draft position in parentheses:
1st Overall: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (1)
2nd Overall: Jamie Benn, Philadelphia Flyers (129)
3rd Overall: P.K. Subban, Phoenix Coyotes (43)
4th Overall: Logan Couture, Los Angeles Kings (9)
5th Overall: Max Pacioretty, Washington Capitals (22)
6th Overall: Jakub Voracek, Edmonton Oilers (7)
7th Overall: Ryan McDonagh, Columbus Blue Jackets (12)
8th Overall: James van Riemsdyk, Boston Bruins (2)
9th Overall: Wayne Simmonds, San Jose Sharks (61)
10th Overall: Kevin Shattenkirk, Florida Panthers (14)
11th Overall: Jake Muzzin, Carolina Hurricanes (141)
12th Overall: Kyle Turris, Montreal Canadiens (3)
13th Overall: David Perron, St. Louis Blues (26)
14th Overall: Mikael Backlund, Colorado Avalanche (24)
15th Overall: Evgenii Dadonov, Edmonton Oilers (71)
16th Overall: Alec Martinez, Minnesota Wild (95)
17th Overall: Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers (168)
18th Overall: Lars Eller, St. Louis Blues (13)
19th Overall: Alex Killorn, Anaheim Ducks (77)
20th Overall: Nick Bonino, Pittsburgh Penguins (173)
21st Overall: Pat Maroon, Edmonton Oilers (161)
Another sixth-round pick jumps up to the first, showing just how much of a lottery the NHL Entry Draft really is. Perhaps if Maroon started his career in Edmonton it would look even better than it does now, given the success he experienced once he finally did land there.
In 2007, Maroon was already 6’4″ 225-lbs, but concerns about his conditioning and level of competition dropped him to 208th overall among North American skaters on the NHL Central Scouting rankings. He had just played two years in the NAHL, most recently scoring 95 points in 57 games with the St. Louis Bandits to lead the league and earn a Most Valuable Player award. When he left the Bandits for the London Knights the following year and topped all OHL rookies with 90 points, the Philadelphia Flyers got an inkling that they might have a late-round steal on their hands.
In 2008, when Maroon started his pro career with the Philadelphia Phantoms, he was a monstrous winger that could push around even grown men. He scored 23 goals and 54 points in his rookie AHL season, and proved any doubters wrong about his ability to contribute at a high level. In 2010, after he failed to make the leap to the NHL for a second year, Maroon was traded to the Anaheim Ducks where he would once again dominate for their AHL affiliate. Though it took him a while, he would eventually get to the NHL as a full-time option for the Ducks in 2013, where he started what has been a successful career.
Setting a career-high with 27 goals in 2016-17 with the Edmonton Oilers, Maroon eventually found himself back in his hometown of St. Louis just in time to participate in their Stanley Cup run. Though his regular season wasn’t anything to write home about, the “Big Rig” would score one of the most memorable goals in the 2019 playoffs when he ended game seven against the Dallas Stars in double overtime. He’s now with the Tampa Bay Lightning where he’ll try for a repeat performance. In 452 career regular season games Maroon has 208 points, putting him 21st among all players drafted in 2007.
Finally, we get back to a pick that was well worth it back in 2007. The 22nd overall selection belonged to the Montreal Canadiens back then, and with it they would pick future captain and All-Star Max Pacioretty. Looking back, Pacioretty should have been off the board well before Montreal walked up to the podium for their second pick of the night (Ryan McDonagh at No. 12 wasn’t too shabby either). This time around he won’t be, as our community selected him in the top-five.
Without Pacioretty on the board, who will Montreal go after? Cast your vote below!
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*Tragically, 17th overall pick Alexei Cherepanov died at the age of 19 and would never get a chance to suit up in the NHL. He has not been included in this vote.
The Ottawa Senators announced that they will be retiring the number of longtime defenseman Chris Phillips on Feb. 18, 2020 when the Senators host the Buffalo Sabres. Phillips played his entire 17-year career with Ottawa between 1997 to 2015.
“Chris Phillips personifies all the wonderful things about being an Ottawa Senator,” said Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. “He was drafted first overall in 1996, and we all watched him grow into a legendary competitor on the ice and a community leader and family man who has made Ottawa his home. I’m very pleased to announce that the Senators Player Honouring Committee has decided to retire Chris’ legendary number 4. I’m happy that generations of Senators fans both present and future will be able to learn and appreciate one of the greatest players and people in this team’s history.”
Phillips, who was the first overall pick in 1996, played 1,179 games with Ottawa in the NHL, scoring 71 goals and 288 points and served as alternate captain from 2006 until he retired. Phillips will be just the third player in Senators’ history to have their number required. Frank Finnigan and Daniel Alfredsson were the other two.
- NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs reports the good news that Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur was discharged from a Montreal hospital Friday, following quadruple bypass surgery on Sept. 26, and has returned home and is resting in comfort. “My thanks to everyone for their incredible support,” said the 68-year-old Lafleur.
- The Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre writes that with the way Ville Heinola is playing, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will be able to bump him out of the rotation any time soon. The 18-year-old blueliner, who was the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft, can play up to nine games with the Jets before it burns the first year of his entry-level contract. Many believed the Jets were just using Heinola for the first nine games to help fill the void on Winnipeg’s defense while they wait for Dustin Byfuglien to decide on whether he wants to return and the return of injured Sami Niku. However, Heinola is playing so composed on the ice that it could be very possible that he’ll remain with the Jets indefinitely.
- While most players that go the college route plan to be there for a few years, that doesn’t appear to be the case for Canadiens winger Cole Caufield. The 2019 first-rounder told Guillaume Lefrancois of La Presse that he’s hoping to turn pro at the end of his freshman season at Wisconsin and join Montreal for a potential playoff push. If that was to happen, he would still be eligible to have his contract slide a year as long as he played in nine games or fewer.
Friday: Olofsson has cleared waivers and can be assigned to the AHL.
Thursday: The Montreal Canadiens have placed Gustav Olofsson on waivers, indicating that the defenseman is now healthy enough to return to action. Olofsson was originally placed on season-opening injured reserve, but will likely be sent to the minor leagues if he clears waivers.
Olofsson, 24, was acquired from the Minnesota Wild exactly a year ago, but after playing just two games with the Laval Rocket re-injured his shoulder and needed surgery. That ended his 2018-19 season and after suffering another upper-body prior to training camp this year, the young defenseman hasn’t been able to get into any action.
Originally selected in the second round of the 2013 draft, it’s been tough sledding so far for the 6’2″ Swede. If he can get healthy again and start contributing for the Rocket there’s a good chance he would be one of the first few call-ups for Montreal, but at this point it’s hard to know what kind of an impact he could make. In 56 NHL games for the Wild, he has 11 points.
Following their professional and junior counterparts, the college hockey season is about to get underway this weekend. With each passing year, the NCAA’s influence on the world of hockey grows. The NHL boasts more than a few top rookies fresh out of the college ranks this season and many elite prospects still in school in 2018-19 will soon join them. This year’s crop of talent is sticking with the trend, with several players in need of watching:
The Recent Draft Picks
G Spencer Knight, Boston College (FLA): When Knight was selected by the Panthers 13th overall in June, he became the highest selected goaltender this decade after Jack Campbell went No. 11 overall in 2010. Considered the best prospect goalie in an NHL pipeline – at least until Yaroslav Askarov hears his name called next year – Knight is a special prospect and easily a top name to watch in the NCAA. It’s hard to know just how well the USNTDP product will perform right out of the gate for a strong BC squad, and on top of that how long it may take for him to be pro-ready. However, if he can translate his junior game to the college level, Florida will want to test that same progression in the pros sooner rather than later.
F Matthew Boldy, Boston College (MIN): Speaking of the Eagles, they nabbed another top pick in this year’s recruiting class in the dynamic winger Boldy. A rare combination of skill and finesse with size and strength, the Wild landed a gem at No. 12. A teammate of Knights with the USNTDP and now at BC, Boldy stands a better chance of making an immediate impact at the college level. The pairing of his stature and his talent – both above average – should give him a leg up against some older, more experienced NCAA competition. Expect he and fellow first-rounder Alex Newhook (COL) to get off to a hot start.
F Trevor Zegras, Boston University (ANA): Across town, Zegras and six other 2019 NHL Draft selections are set to take the ice for the rival Terriers. Zegras is a dynamic play-maker who few expected to fall to the Ducks at No. 9. Zegras brings a high-energy game in all three zones that his bound to create chances for he and his BU teammates. After losing much of last year’s talent to the pros, the Terriers need Zegras to step into a lead scoring role right away and he is likely up for the task. The USNTDP standout has already showed that he can put up big numbers against tough competition.
D Cam York, University of Michigan (PHI): Rounding out the top four recent draft picks to watch in the NCAA this year is yet another USNTDP product, but the first defenseman on the list. York is a skilled blue liner who sees the ice extremely well for a player his age. His skating allows him to be omnipresent on the ice and an asset in all three zones. Highly-drafted defensemen have excelled at the college level of late, namely Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes. The Wolverines hope lightning strikes twice by replacing Hughes with York. Fellow first-round pick John Beecher (BOS) will also be around to help out in Michigan this season.
The Soon-To-Be Draft Picks
F Dylan Holloway, University of Wisconsin: A string of years with at least one top draft prospect coming out of the NCAA came to a screeching halt last year, with the college level having nearly no current players of note in the early rounds. That will change this year, as Holloway begins the season as a consensus top-ten pick in 2020. The polished winger dominated the Alberta Junior Hockey League last year, posting 88 points in just 53 games. He brings a complete arsenal of skill, speed, and aggression, but will need to use his college campaign to work on increasing his positional awareness. If he can replicate his scoring success and improve his hockey IQ, Holloway could enter top five territory next summer.
D Yan Kuznetsov, University of Connecticut: Kuznetsov is not the same caliber player as Holloway, but an exciting talent nonetheless for the Huskies. The Russian defenseman came over to North America last season and made a strong first impression in the USHL. Not one to put up lots of points, Kuznetsov is instead a solid shutdown defender who also moves the puck well. At 6’3”, 200 lbs., Kuznetsov has menacing size for a 17-year-old and isn’t afraid to play a tough game, but is also a smooth skater and an asset in puck possession. While not a flashy prospect, Kuznetsov could surprise with his confidence as a freshman in the NCAA and move up draft boards.
The Soon-To-Be NHLers
F Evan Barratt, Penn State University (CHI): One of the best players at the college level last season, Barratt took a major leap forward in his development. The third-round prospect had a quiet freshman year but exploded for 43 points in just 32 games as a sophomore, among the top five per-game scorers in the NCAA. Barratt’s ability to think the game is matched only by his ability to act on those thoughts. A great play-maker with an eye for creating scoring opportunities, Barratt doesn’t need to be the fastest or strongest player on the ice to make a difference. He seems ready to test his hockey sense at the pro level already and almost certainly will be signing with the Blackhawks after this season. Penn State can enjoy one last season with their star center.
D Ian Mitchell, University of Denver (CHI): Chicago nearly convinced Mitchell to leave school early this summer, but he’ll return to the Pioneers for one last season. A smart, two-way defenseman, Mitchell plays a largely mistake-free game. He contributes on offense, but rarely at the cost of defensive liability and uses his skating to get up and down the ice with ease. He pairs a good shot with a strong outlet pass to both start and finish offensively. A modern-day NHL defenseman in many ways, Mitchell truly plays the position well and will be a regular at the top level in no time.
D Scott Perunovich, University of Minnesota-Duluth (STL): A two-time NCAA champion has to be doing something right. While plenty of talented players have moved on from Duluth over the past two years, Perunovich is still there and still making an impact. A dynamic offensive defenseman, Perunovich is a power play magician and a creative play-maker at even strength as well. A talented puck-mover who doesn’t let his size deter him from jumping into a play and taking battles in tough areas, Perunovich is undoubtedly a fun player to watch. An added benefit of catching some Bulldogs action is fellow blue line prospect Dylan Samberg (WPG), who brings the smash to Perunovich’s dash as an elite NCAA pairing.
F Mitchell Chaffee, University of Massachusetts: At the top of the list among potential NCAA free agents is the sharp-shooting Chaffee. A member of the UMass team that made a run to the NCAA Finals last year, Chaffee was better than a point per game scorer, finishing in the top-20 in goals and points and amassing a top-ten plus/minus rating. Chaffee plays a mature, intelligent game but not without some grit and energy as well. He does whatever it takes to put himself in scoring position. With the Minutemen losing several core players to the pros, look for Chaffee to take on an even bigger role as he tries to establish himself as an NHL-caliber prospect. Bowling Green ace center Max Johnson and veteran North Dakota defenseman Colton Poolman are other potential premier college free agents to watch for.
The University of Wisconsin
Every year there is one team whose NHL pedigree jumps off the page. Sometimes those teams don’t necessary put it all together, but they’re still fun to watch. Wisconsin is that team this year, and frankly it’s not that close even with the influx of talent to the likes of BC, BU, and others. You already heard about Holloway, but take a look at who else is suiting up for the Badgers this year:
F Alex Turcotte (LAK): The highest-drafted player in the NCAA, Turcotte was the No. 5 overall pick by the Kings in June and considered by some to be the most complete player in the draft class. Injuries slowed down his season with the USNTDP last year, but he still accounted for 62 points in just 37 games. A two-way skill set and intelligence, play-making ability and elite offensive instincts, and a competitive, hard-nosed style are just some of the elements to Turcotte’s game that should make him the most talented player in college hockey this season.
F Cole Caufield (MTL): Caufield is coming off a record-setting campaign with the USNTDP. While he spent most of his time skating alongside Jack Hughes, he is more than familiar with Turcotte which should make his adjustment to the NCAA smoother. Caufield’s size can be a liability, but it’s a risk that Wisconsin will gladly take in exchange for his natural goal-scoring ability. Caufield potted 72 goals as part of a 100-point campaign last year that established him as one of the most dangerous shooters in hockey – yes, all of hockey. Caufield works hard, skates fast, and puts himself in a situation to score with great frequency. An electrifying talent, Caufield will almost certainly follow Turcotte to the NHL next season (the Canadiens can hardly wait) but until then the duo should do some damage in the NCAA this year. Unbelievably, fellow USNTDP teammates Owen Lindmark (FLA) and Ryder Donovan (VGK) also join Turcotte and Caufield with the Badgers this year.
D K’Andre Miller (NYR): It doesn’t stop there, either. Wisconsin has top NHL talent on the blue line as well, primarily in first-round defender Miller. A big, strong defender who also has the tools to contribute on offense, Miller is a special player. Considered a raw talent when drafter, Miller immediately showed last year that there was more to his game than just athleticism. Miller plays an instinctual style of hockey, which allows him to excel with defensive positioning as well as awareness of when to jump in on offense. He truly has a presence on the ice and there is still room to improve into an elite prospect, especially with so much ability surrounding him this season. He could very well join the Rangers right away next season if he continues to progress. Look for pair-mate Ty Emberson (ARI) to take a step forward in his own development this year as well.
Even with the season starting tomorrow, teams still have some final cuts to make today. Rosters have to be cap compliant by the end of the day. though with so much talent on waivers there might still be some last-minute moves. We’ll keep track of those right here. Keep checking back throughout the day for updates.
Arizona Coyotes (per team release)
D Ilya Lyubushkin (to Tucson, AHL)
Buffalo Sabres (per team release)
Calgary Flames (per team release)
Carolina Hurricanes (per team release)
F Clark Bishop (to Charlotte, AHL)
F Julien Gauthier (to Charlotte, AHL)
F Brian Gibbons (to Charlotte, AHL)
D Gustav Forsling (to Charlotte, AHL)
D Roland McKeown (to Charlotte, AHL)
G Anton Forsberg (to Charlotte, AHL)
F Max McCormick (placed on injured/non-roster)
D Trevor van Riemsdyk (placed on injured/non-roster)
Chicago Blackhawks (per team release)
Columbus Blue Jackets (per team release)
Colorado Avalanche (per team release)
Detroit Red Wings (per team release)
Edmonton Oilers (per team release)
F Sam Gagner (to Bakersfield, AHL)
Minnesota Wild (per team release)
F J.T. Brown (to Iowa, AHL)
Montreal Canadiens (per team release)
F Ryan Poehling (to Laval, AHL)
Nashville Predators (per team release)
New Jersey Devils (per team release)
Pittsburgh Penguins (per team release)
Vegas Golden Knights (per team release)
Washington Capitals (per team release)
Winnipeg Jets (per team release)
D Sami Niku (to Manitoba, AHL)
We’ve finally reached the end of the offseason and things kick off this week around the NHL. Exhibition games are underway in Europe and final cuts have come down all around the league. The excitement for the upcoming season is palpable, with even the most minor transactions generating plenty of interest among hockey fans.
With that in mind we’re going to ask you, the PHR reader, to give us your thoughts on the upcoming season. We start with the Atlantic Division, which last season gave us just three playoff teams but each of them recorded at least 100 points. The Tampa Bay Lightning led the way—just as our community predicted at this time last year—taking home the Presidents Trophy as the league’s best regular season team. Tampa Bay recorded 128 points but were stunned in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets and will be looking for revenge.
Tampa Bay is the odds-on favorite to win the division once again in 2019-20, but both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins don’t trail far behind. Not only will those three powerhouses battle it out for positioning at the top of the group, but the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers are both expected to compete for playoff spots and potentially improve on their respective 96 and 86-point seasons. The Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators will all have to make large improvements to get into that playoff race, but as we saw last season with the St. Louis Blues, nothing is impossible in the NHL.
Who do you think will come out on top of the Atlantic Division in the regular season? Can Toronto really come out on top after handing so much of their salary cap to a handful of forwards? Will Boston reach the same level even with Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron another year older? Does the feisty young forward group in Montreal have what it takes to dethrone one of the top three? Cast your vote below and explain how you think the season will play out in the comments!
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