The IIHF World Championship gets underway in just a few weeks and USA Hockey has announced the first group of players that will be suiting up for them. GM Chris Drury released 17 names that will be taking part, including captain Patrick Kane. The group is an impressive list of NHL stars that could very well bring home the country’s first gold medal at the tournament in nearly 60 years. The roster so far is as follows:
The Carolina Hurricanes are down a depth option with the playoffs approaching, but the bigger hit will be to the Charlotte Checkers, the top team in the AHL. Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci has revealed that forward Janne Kuokkanen is done for the year. The top prospect has missed more than a month now with an upper-body injury, but both the ’Canes and Checkers hoped he would be able to return. Instead, Kuokkanen is scheduled for surgery in two weeks that will end his season. The 2016 second-round pick is in his second pro season and had been on pace to put up major numbers in the minors. Prior to his injury, Kuokkanen had 38 points in 48 games, close to his 60-game total from last year, and remains second on the team in per-game production. Kuokkanen has also played eleven games with Carolina, including seven this season, and likely would have been a top injury replacement consideration. The talented forward will instead have to focus on his recovery and will likely be given a chance to break camp with the Hurricanes next season.
- On one goal last night, history was made for two players in the U.S. National Team Development Program writes NHL.com’s Mike Morreale. Facing the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, presumptive 2019 first-round picks Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield connected for a goal late in the third period of a lopsided blowout; it was yet another of countless the duo have combined for in their time with the program. The assist to Hughes, the favorite to go No. 1 overall in June, was his 190th point in his two-year stint with the program, passing Clayton Keller for the most all-time. It was his fifth assist of the game and his 130th as a member of the USNTDP. Hughes now tops a list that includes Keller, Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Jeremy Bracco, and Auston Matthews next in line. The goal for Caufield was his sixth of the game and somehow more impressively his 105th for the USNTDP, the new all-time high. Caufield takes the overall title away from Kessel and is just four goals away from passing Matthews for most goals in a single season. Although just 5’7″, Caufield is an elite sniper whose game has been complemented nicely by Hughes’ next-level play-making abilities. Questions about his size and ability to produce when not surrounded by top talent persist, but the University of Wisconsin-bound forward is still expected to be picked in the first half of the first round this spring. Hughes and Caufield are now names for the USNTDP record books, but soon they’ll be topping charts as NHL prospects and even NHL scorers sooner rather than later.
- A recent University of Wisconsin standout had a nice night of his own. Seamus Malone, who wrapped up an impressive four-year career with the Badgers last week, signed a tryout deal with the AHL’s Utica Comets. In his pro debut, Malone also picked up his first career goal. An undersized, but capable center, Malone was a model of consistency at Wisconsin, recording 23+ points in 35+ games in each of his four seasons. However, his senior campaign also showed that he has developed into a more well-rounded two-way contributor. Malone was a player that some were surprised to see go undrafted during his years of eligibility, but now the 22-year-old may end up in the NHL after all. He is bound for far more than just a tryout deal and will likely land an AHL contract, if not an entry-level contract for next season, especially if he keeps scoring in his current stint with the Comets.
In his most recent 31 Thoughts column earlier this week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned that now-former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli was close to making a blockbuster trade back in 2016, just days before he traded Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. Friedman, however, had no knowledge of the details of that blockbuster. However, New York Post’s Larry Brooks got a confirmation from multiple sources that the trade would have been with the New York Rangers.
Brooks reports that just before pulling the trigger on the Hall-Larsson deal, Chiarelli was close to a deal that would have sent the 2016 fourth-overall pick (used to take Jesse Puljujarvi) to the Rangers for defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The belief is that New York was interested in drafting Clayton Keller of the U.S. National Development Team with the fourth pick to begin the rebuild process then. Brooks adds there were other pieces to the deal, but points out that after the team’s first-round exit to Pittsburgh that year, the team felt it needed to re-tool their team with McDonagh being the most marketable player on the Rangers at the time.
Instead, Chiarelli turned the deal down, took Puljujarvi and sent Hall to New Jersey for Larsson, while the Rangers instead packaged Derick Brassard to Ottawa in a deal to get Mika Zibanejad. The team did discuss McDonagh with other teams at that time, including a deal with Colorado for either Nathan MacKinnon or Gabriel Landeskog, but the Avalanche weren’t that high on McDonagh’s value.
Considering how Puljujarvi has turned out in Edmonton thus far and how successful Hall has been since leaving the Oilers, the trade could have altered the outcome for Edmonton as well as Chiarelli, as McDonagh could have helped stabilize the team’s defense. However, there is no guarantee that Chiarelli still wouldn’t have moved Hall later on anyway.
Of course, the Rangers team may look quite a bit different with Keller on their team now as the 20-year-old put up a 23-goal, 65-point campaign in his rookie season last year and currently has 11 goals and 35 points this year and would have been a great piece to build around. Instead the franchise held onto McDonagh until last year’s trade deadline when they sent him and J.T. Miller to Tampa Bay in exchange for Vladislav Namestnikov, propects Libor Hajek and Brett Howden as well as a 2018 first-round pick (Nils Lundqvist) and a conditional 2019 second-rounder.
The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is scheduled for this evening, and though Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon have both pulled out due to illness and injury there are still an incredible amount of talented players taking part. Most notable however may be the final entrant in the fastest skater competition: Kendall Coyne. A member of the US Women’s National Team, Coyne will take MacKinnon’s place after the Colorado Avalanche forward suffered a foot injury this week. The Olympic gold medalist is known for her speed and posted a 14.226 yesterday during event testing according to Emily Kaplan of ESPN. Though that wouldn’t have been enough to dethrone Connor McDavid last year, it would have put her ahead of Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin and Josh Bailey in the competition. We’ll see what Coyne can do tonight, along with the rest of the competitors:
The NHL has announced the four rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game today, scheduled to be held on January 26th in San Jose. Earlier today, Alex Ovechkin, who was elected captain of Metropolitan Division squad, told the league that he wouldn’t be attending and will accept the punishment of missing one game either before or after the break. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews will represent the Pacific, Central and Atlantic respectively, as the other captains. A replacement Metropolitan captain for Ovechkin has yet to be named.
The full rosters are as follows:
*Denotes team captain
One final skater spot on each roster has yet to be announced, as it will be determined by the “Last Man In” fan ballot, a concept borrowed from Major League Baseball. The format of the current All-Star Game, which requires one representative from each team on these smaller 3-on-tournament rosters, was bound to cause some confusion with the initial selections. Seven top-twenty scorers were not selected – Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, Leon Draisaitl, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Phil Kessel, and Gabriel Landeskog – and several will inevitably remain out of All-Star participation even after the fan ballot additions. Morgan Rielly, the league’s top-scoring defenseman, and Mark Giordano, enjoying an elite season on both sides of the puck, are two surprising omissions on the blue line. Several of the league’s top goalies are also going to miss out, ineligible for the fan ballot, including Ben Bishop, Frederik Andersen, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The “Last Man In” will be an intriguing new addition to the All-Star process, with nominees to be named shortly, but more than a few notable names will be left out regardless. Meanwhile, the health of players like Price and Chabot for Team Atlantic and Hall for Team Metropolitan will bear watching, as those players may opt to skip the All-Star festivities, opening up more players to selection.
Though it had been confirmed for some time, the Arizona Coyotes couldn’t officially sign Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an extension until today. Now that they can, they quickly announced the eight-year extension for their star defenseman. The team did not release the financial details, but several reports have it totaling $66MM. The salary will be paid as follows:
- 2019-20: $8MM
- 2020-21: $8MM
- 2021-22: $10.5MM
- 2022-23: $10.5MM
- 2023-24: $10.5MM
- 2024-25: $8MM
- 2025-26: $5.25MM
- 2026-27: $5.25MM
After spending a full season listening to trade rumors about Ekman-Larsson as the team wasn’t sure it could sign their superstar defenseman, Arizona managed to lock him up. Part of the reason was the team’s second-half success as the team started winning in the second-half. That sign the team is heading in the right direction was a key reason Ekman-Larsson wanted to return. That doesn’t include all the changes that general manager John Chayka has made, ranging from bringing in veterans like Derek Stepan, Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Grabner and Antti Raanta, not to mention the influx of youth to the team like Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun, Brendan Perlini. and 2018 first-rounder Barrett Hayton.
The team also brought in veteran countryman Niklas Hjalmarsson in a offseason trade last year, who has mentored the young 26-year-old. Now even Hjalmarsson has re-signed with Arizona for another two years, keeping the two together even longer.
With the recent acquisition of Alex Galchenyuk, the Arizona Coyotes are well on their way to taking another step towards building a winning team in the desert. If you add the players Arizona acquired last year at this time, a full year under the belt of coach Rick Tocchet and the continued development of their young players, the team seems to be heading in the right direction and the team is starting to get excited.
Throw in franchise defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson as someone who sees the changes. Many thought Ekman-Larsson might spurn the struggling franchise, yet he agreed to sign an eight-year, $66MM extension last week. Just last year, the team went out and traded their first-round pick (seventh overall) to the New York Rangers and picked up two key pieces to their team in center Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta. Stepan has continued his solid play, while Raanta put up a solid second half of the season after an injury-plagued first half, putting up a 2.24 GAA and a .930 save percentage in 47 games. He has also been rewarded with a three-year, $12.75MM extension, which kicks in this year. Chayka also went out and traded for veteran defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers in separate deals last year.
While many people felt that after a flurry of moves a year ago, the Coyotes would make a huge jump in the standings, that didn’t happen, especially after starting the season with an 11-game losing streak. However, their second half showed more of that improvement as the team had a stretch towards the end of the season in which it went 17-8-3.
Regardless, there seems to be a lot going right for the Coyotes right now, according to NBC Sports’ James O’Brien. The scribe points out some key facts, including the initial reaction to the Galchenyuk deal has been positive. While it’s too early to tell, Galchenyuk’s chances of becoming a solid player is quite a bit higher than Max Domi, who the Coyotes sent back to Montreal. Assuming that Galchenyuk can make the conversion to center, that would relieve some stress from the team’s lack of depth at that position. Now if the team wants to move Dylan Strome or Christian Dvorak to the wing position, there won’t be extra pressure to keep him at center due to their lack of depth.
One other key factor is the team still has an enormous amount of young players who could be ready to take that next step. Clayton Keller scored 23 goals in his rookie year and could improve on that exponentially. Other players like Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun, Strome, Brendan Perlini and Christian Fischer could also take that next step. And don’t forget the sixth pick in next week’s draft.
The team also still has plenty of cap space available with more than $18MM in space waiting for them to use. They could dip into the free agency market or continuing to add players through trade. However, with the way Chayka is constantly tweaking this team, there are likely more changes to come.
The finalists for the Calder Trophy were announced yesterday, with Mathew Barzal, Brock Boeser and Clayton Keller landing in the top three. You can’t really argue with the nominations for any of the three after their outstanding seasons, but they certainly weren’t the only ones.
Kyle Connor in Winnipeg led all rookies with 31 goals, scoring at an incredible pace in the second half of the season. 21 of those goals came in his final 45 games, as a huge part of the Jets offensive attack.
Defenseman Charlie McAvoy registered just 32 points for the Boston Bruins, but logged more than 22 minutes a night as part of their top pairing. The 20-year old was tasked with playing against some of the best players in the league, and is hard matching against Auston Matthews and company in the playoffs.
Perhaps the most overlooked is Yanni Gourde, the undersized forward who finally made it to the NHL and showed why he should have been there all along. The 26-year old undrafted Gourde was an outstanding offensive player in junior, and registered 64 points—third most by any rookie—while playing in all 82 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
What about goaltenders? Juuse Saros played in 26 games for the Presidents Trophy-winning Nashville Predators, posting a .925 save percentage. That put him ninth in the entire league among goaltenders who made at least 20 starts, and would put him in Vezina contention had he played more games—teammate Pekka Rinne’s .927 has him as one of the favorites to win the award.
So who do you think should win the Calder? Cast a vote for not who you think will win, but who should win, and explain your reasoning in the comments below. We’ve listed several players as options to see if our readers at PHR end up with the same three finalists.
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The NHL released the names of the 2018 Calder Trophy nominees as the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser and the Arizona Coyotes’ Clayton Keller were named as the league’s top rookies. The award will be voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association with the winners to be announced on June 20 in Las Vegas.
In a year in which there were a large amount of talented rookies, several good players didn’t get nominated, including the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Yanni Gourde, Boston Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy, New Jersey Devils’ Nico Hischier, Chicago Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat and Winnipeg Jets’ Kyle Connor.
Barzal is the likely hands down winner after putting up a great rookie year with 22 goals and 83 points, centering the Islanders’ second line for most of the season. He was the only rookie to average more than a point per game (1.04) and had three five-point performances throughout the season. His emergence could lessen the blow if teammate John Tavares opts to leave via free agency as Barzal could easily take over as the team’s franchise player.
Boeser’s chances are slimmer after only playing in 62 games when he was lost for the season with a back injury. However, in that time, he put up 29 goals, 55 points and was named MVP of the 2018 All-Star Game. He should be a constant presence along with Bo Horvat with the young core of forwards that are coming in as the team’s rebuilding project begins to come to fruition.
Keller led all rookies in ice time (18:05) and put up 23 goals and 42 assists in his freshman campaign and also led the team in goals, assists and points. He provides the franchise with another core piece as the Coyotes begin to build their team back to contending status.
NBC Sports’ Sean Leahy was the first to report the news.
With the team comfortable at both goaltending and defense, the Arizona Coyotes are expected to be add to their forward lines this offseason. Don’t be surprised if Arizona looks into the free agent market this summer and attempts to grab itself a top-six forward, according to AZCentral’s Richard Morin.
A team with ample cap space, Arizona has spent the last few years building through the draft and then this past season made multiple trades to upgrade its roster, acquiring the likes of Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Richard Panik. The scribe writes the franchise, especially after an impressive second-half run, might look to dip its feet into the free agency market. While acquiring center John Tavares is not a likely scenario, the team might be able to snag an elite winger such as James van Riemsdyk, Patrick Maroon or Rick Nash.Â The team will have a couple of their own free agents they must sign, including veteran Brad Richardson, Zac Rinaldo, Kevin Connauton and Luke Schenn (as well as try to extend defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson), but the team should have the assets to upgrade their offense.
Morin does also admit that general manager John Chayka might also go back to the trade route as well, but at the same time, the team believes they will see an uptick in production from rookie Clayton Keller and now believe that prospect Dylan Strome is ready to handle full-time duties in the NHL.
- While the Los Angeles Kings are expecting back defenseman Jake Muzzin from injury, the Vegas Golden Knights might get back an injured player of their own as head coach Gerard Gallant said winger David Perron is a game-time decision, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s David Schoen. Perron, who has been out since Mar. 26 with an undisclosed injury is expected to return and start on the team’s third line if he returns to the game. “There’s a chance he might play tonight,” Gallant said.
- Adam Vingan of the Tennessean writes the Nashville Predators might be getting Calle Jarnkrok back from injury soon. The forward hasn’t played since Mar. 13 due to an upper-body injury. He scored 16 goals this year as a bottom-line forward.
- Orange Country Register’s Eric Stephens reports that Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is not expected to go on the team’s road trip to San Jose. Fowler has been out with a shoulder injury since early April.