• THN’s top 200 fantasy players for 2015-16

    Matt Larkin
    (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Sport)

    It’s never too early. Not even in the middle of summer.

    The ideal image of fantasy hockey prep at this time of year might be curling up on a dock with THN’s Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide. That’s a great idea. It’s loaded with useful information, it projects the NHL’s top 300 scorers and it hits newsstands any day now.

    But what happens when you’ve read that paper edition cover to cover? As the summer inches closer to fall and training camps start up, you’ll want another update in hockey pool expertise. That’s what this specialized list of rankings is for. I will update my top 200 players periodically, and with increasing frequency, until opening night of the 2015-16 season.

    Think of this ranking set as a companion piece to the pool guide. The former focuses on points, while this list blends goalies and skaters into a master breakdown tailored for anyone drafting in leagues with multiple stat categories. The rankings below are based on a standard Yahoo head-to-head format with the following categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power play points, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

    Did last year’s list steer you right? It helped me win both my pools, so hopefully that buys your trust. Remember, these rankings are about fantasy, not real life, so a few stars will be listed lower than you might expect. Enjoy, and feel free to debate the rankings – and let me know about any glaring omissions – in the comment section below.

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  • The five least effective trade deadline deals of 2014-15

    James Wisniewski (Debora Robinson/Getty Images)

    For the past week, the Toronto Blue Jays have owned the sports news cycle thanks to the club’s big time acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price ahead of the MLB trade deadline. There’s one problem, though: there’s a possibility that neither trade will actually help get the Blue Jays into the post-season.

    The Blue Jays currently sit two games back of a wild-card spot, and, even then, they may find themselves ousted in the one-game playoff between the wild-card teams. If that happens, they will have made two major trades and, especially with regards to the Price trade, have mortgaged their future in a non-playoff year.

    This isn’t a problem specific to baseball, however. Every year, teams wheel and deal at the NHL trade deadline with hopes of getting that final piece to put them over the top. This season was a rarity, in that the Chicago Blackhawks’ key addition, Antoine Vermette, actually performed admirably throughout the post-season and helped bring another Cup to the Windy City. In other cases, though, the deals went bust. Such is the case when there can only be one champion.

    Here are five deadline deals from the past season that fell flat: Read more

  • A Toronto-Philadelphia rivalry primer for Drake and Meek Mill

    Tie Domi (far left) and Donald Brashear  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    One of the biggest pop culture stories going around right now involves rappers Drake and Meek Mill, former friends turned enemies. The beef between the pair began over hurt feelings and escalated into several freestyle diss tracks…you don’t care about this. We’re The Hockey News. But since Drake used the Blue Jays’ World Series victory over the Phillies as ammo against Meek Mill (guess which two cities these guys are from?), I thought we should hockey this thing up, just in case the rappers need more material (and after hearing Meek Mill’s “Wanna Know,” they do).

    Here’s a brief history of the bad blood between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers:

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  • Gary Bettman testifies in concussion lawsuit against NHL

    Jared Clinton
    Gary Bettman (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gave a sworn testimony in a New York City court Friday morning as part of a concussion lawsuit brought against the NHL by several former players.

    According to ESPN.com’s Katie Strang, Bettman was scheduled to give a sworn testimony to U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson at 10 a.m. ET Friday. Strang reported Bettman was due in court to, “face questions about the ongoing litigation filed on behalf of several NHL players alleging the league was reckless and negligent about informing players on the risks of long-term damage as a result of head injuries suffered while playing the game.”

    Bettman was ordered to testify in May, when Judge Nelson ruled that the commissioner possessed, “unique or special knowledge,” pertaining to the lawsuit. Read more

  • Futures Mailbag: Michael Dal Colle, the realness of Auston Matthews and more

    Michael Dal Colle (blue sweater) of the Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Welcome back to the Futures Mailbag, where I will answer any prospect and draft-related questions you the readers may have. If you have a query, hit me up on Twitter (@THNRyanKennedy) and use the hashtag #thnfutures to make sure I scoop it up. If you don’t see your question this week, stay tuned – there’s always some overflow. Let’s get to it:

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  • Flyers cap situation could make for tough choices in 2016-17

    Jared Clinton
    Vincent Lecavalier

    Whether you’re a fan of Jakub Voracek’s new contract or not, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: the Philadelphia Flyers are going to be in some serious cap trouble.

    While this season’s cap situation looks like it could cause some difficulties, what with the Flyers having less than $600,000 in available cap space, it has nothing on what the outlook for the 2016-17 campaign will be if Flyers GM Ron Hextall is unable to make some savvy moves to free up room.

    The biggest concern for the Flyers isn’t necessarily the money they’ve spent or the contracts for their top players — Voracek and Claude Giroux would be worth $8-plus million on the open market. What is worrisome, however, is that when 2016-17 begins, unless Hextall makes some moves before then, the Flyers will have only 15 players under contract. That could make the 2016-17 season an incredibly trying one in the City of Brotherly Love. Read more

  • Canadiens re-sign Alex Galchenyuk to two-year, $5.6 million deal

    Jared Clinton
    Alex Galchenyuk (Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

    There won’t be any contract drama between Alex Galchenyuk and the Montreal Canadiens when the 2015-16 season begins.

    Montreal announced Thursday evening that the club has re-signed Galchenyuk, 21, to a two-year deal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the club, but TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reported Galchenyuk will make $5.6 million over the course of the deal — $2.5 million in 2015-16 and $3.1 million in 2016-17.

    Heading into this off-season, Galchenyuk was one of the Canadiens players who most needed to be taken care of in terms of signing a new deal. The contract, which is a great bridge deal for the Canadiens, gives Montreal some flexibility heading into the 2015-16 season as they’ll have roughly $2.9 million in cap space to work with. Read more

  • Shane Bowers was never going to play for Cape Breton

    Ryan Kennedy
    Shane Bowers (photo courtesy Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Media)

    There was a great deal of drama at this year’s QMJHL draft and the fall-out is still making headlines. Officially, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles just announced on Wednesday that fourth overall pick Shane Bowers would not be attending training camp. But as I first reported minutes after the selection was made, Bowers was never going to be a Screaming Eagle.

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