Getting drafted is a dream for all high-end hockey prospects, but being selected by a team on the rise like the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the day even more sweet. Czech defenseman Dominik Masin was picked 35th overall by the Bolts this summer, capping off a season that saw his stock jump up after the world under-18s. Speaking through a translator, Masin was amped for the future.
Brad Richards has had a very good, well-decorated career. He’s won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and been paid richly for his efforts.
He’s also been the subject of some criticism, particularly in New York the past few years, and was bought out following the Blueshirts’ playoff run.
During his latter days in Tampa Bay, Richards was part of a triumvirate of stars, along with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis, who were eating up a healthy helping of the Lightning’s cap space and there was strong speculation one would be moved. The needle landed on Richards.
New Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston traveled to Russia this weekend to talk with star center Evgeni Malkin about the team’s new direction in the wake of sweeping change to management and the playing roster. The trip is a must for Johnston, because, now more than ever before, relationships can mean the difference between coaches winning and losing at hockey’s highest levels.
The days of autocrat bench bosses barking orders at their charges are long-gone. Just ask the short-gone John Tortorella and his former employers in Vancouver who can’t do enough to distance themselves from that awful experiment. The Canucks replaced Tortorella with Willie Desjardins, an affable, considerate man who paid his dues in the hockey world, but who also has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in social work. Desjardins may not succeed in his new gig, but his well-rounded background will serve as the template for NHL coaches in the years to come.
Seeing the continued evolution of the coaching profession brings to mind something former Leafs executive Dave Poulin told THN a few years back: he believed the label “coach” didn’t accurately describe what the men who served in the role did every day. He thought baseball had it right in calling their coaches “managers”, because so much of the average NHL coach’s job today is about managing: managing on-ice strategic adjustments – in-game and game-to-game – and, more importantly, managing the personalities of players as they attempt to form a cohesive unit. Read more
Status: NHL center/winger for St. Louis, Atlanta and the Rangers from 1970 to 1980. Resides in Maui, where he owns Hawaii Waterfalls, which creates rock ponds and waterfalls. He also works in real estate.
Career Accomplishments: Played college hockey at Brown University, where he was NCAA first-team all-American in ’70; selected 16th overall in the ’68 Amateur Draft by St. Louis; played in the NHL All-Star Game in ’75 and ’76; scored 152 goals in 580 NHL games; scored 34 goals for Atlanta in ’75-76; played two years of pro hockey in Japan in the early ’80s.
HT: 6-foot-3 WT: 195 pounds
DOB: March 27, 1948 IN: Regina, Sask.
First Hockey Memory: “When I was a little kid in Rhode Island, my dad was the goaltender for the Providence Reds. I went with him to practice. Back then I couldn’t get my skates tight enough and one of the players on the Reds tied them for me, nice and tight. I was about three.” Read more
While the state of Wisconsin has produced numerous excellent NHLers in recent years, from Phil Kessel and Ryan Suter to Joe Pavelski, it’s a rarity to see a player drafted straight from the dairy state’s high school ranks.
Long the domain of Minnesota, high school hockey in the Midwest was turned on its head at the 2014 draft when defenseman Matt Berkovitz of the Ashwaubenon Jaguars was selected 123rd overall by Anaheim. Later on in the fifth round, three Minnesota products went in a row when Luc Snuggerud, Tyler Nanne and Miguel Fiddler heard their names called. But for once, Wisconsin high school held the bragging rights, even if Berkovitz didn’t intend on using them.
“I don’t try to hold it over anyone,” he said. “I’m just happy to be picked.”
Sounds like “Midwest nice” is alive and well in the youngster. And it’s fine that Berkovitz doesn’t want to ruffle feathers off the ice, because he’s sure to make an impact on it in the future. During the season, one NHL scout told me that the Jaguars star reminded him of Ryan Suter thanks to the way he skates without wasting motion. Like Suter before him, Berkovitz has committed to the University of Wisconsin, but first the youngster plans on suiting up in the United States League for the Chicago Steel.
Berkovitz could have joined the Steel this past season, but felt the timing wasn’t quite right.
“I don’t think I was mature enough,” he said. “I didn’t like my situation there as much as I thought I would, so I thought the Elite League in Minnesota, with Team Wisconsin, was a good league to prove myself in. I wanted to dominate there before moving on to the USHL.”
The Upper Midwest High School Elite League takes place before the regular high school season and features all-star teams from around Minnesota, Shattuck St-Mary’s prep school and a few other entries, including Team Wisconsin, where Berkovitz led his squad’s defense corps with 13 points in 21 games.
“I’m a reliable two-way defenseman who can move the puck well,” he said. “I can play solid defensively and create a lot of offense.”
Needless to day, Berkovitz wouldn’t have been waiting until the fifth round of the draft if he was a finished product – the youngster does need to get stronger, in scouts’ minds. But he does have a good 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame to build on and that skating acumen is hard to teach. Chicago missed the USHL playoffs this past season, but will return young scoring ace Robby Jackson (2015 draft) and 2014 Blackhawks pick Freddy Olofsson, a left winger originally from Sweden.
After that, he’ll head back to his home state of Wisconsin to play for a Badgers program that has churned out NHL defensemen over the years, from Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz to Ryan McDonagh and of course, Ryan Suter.
The 2015 draft has been hyped for quite some time now and the crazy thing is, the season hasn’t even started yet.
Potentially franchise-changing names lie at the top with Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, but it’s also shaping up to be a deep draft.
Here’s a look at 10 players to watch for, but also keep in mind University of Michigan commit Zach Werenski, Chicoutimi’s Nicolas Roy and Ottawa’s Travis Konecny.
1. CONNOR MCDAVID
C, 6-0, 185 LBS, Erie (OHL), 56-28-71-99-20
Can create offense within the blink of an eye. Has been a phenom for years already.
2. JACK EICHEL
C, 6-1, 191 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 53-38-49-87-28
Big, fast and talented, the Boston University commit will keep McDavid on his toes.
3. NOAH HANIFIN
D, 6-2, 201 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 45-8-24-32-34
All-around force would be No. 1 in most draft years. Quebec or Boston College next.
4. OLIVER KYLINGTON
D, 6-0, 174 LBS, Farjestad (Swe.), 32-2-4-6-6
Incredibly fast skater was too valuable to send to under-18s. Farjestad needed him in playoffs.
5. MATT BARZAL
C, 5-11, 171 LBS, Seattle (WHL), 59-14-40-54-20
Brilliant playmaker skates well and made an impact for Canada at the under-18s.
6. PAVEL ZACHA
LW, 6-3, 201 LBS, Liberec (Cze.), 38-4-4-8-10
Incredibly, played most of the season against men. Power forward can wire the puck, too.
7. COLIN WHITE
C, 6-0, 179 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 47-33-30-63-81
Boston College commit is a complete player and leader who can really motor.
8. DYLAN STROME
C, 6-2, 178 LBS, Erie (OHL), 60-10-29-39-11
Great frame, excellent hockey IQ. He’ll produce even more once older Otters move on.
9. KYLE CONNOR
C, 6-1, 170 LBS, Youngstown (USHL), 56-31-43-74-12
Michigan commit is a preternatural scorer. Ranked second in league. Dazzled at under-18s.
10. DANIEL SPRONG
RW, 5-10, 177 LBS, Charlottetown (QMJHL), 67-30-38-68-20
Potent shot, strong on his skates and whip-smart. Sprong was a force for the Islanders.
FAVORITE FOR 2016: It’s not easy to fly under the radar when you play for Team USA’s National Team Development Program, but an early season injury had some folks missing out on Auston Matthews. Luckily, he did his best to jog their memories by putting a big stamp on 2013-14 at the world under-18s.
The Arizona native rang up seven points in seven games en route to the gold medal. Only Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano beat him among Americans. And Matthews did it from the third line.
“He’s unbelievable,” said one scout. “Smooth skating, incredibly skilled two-way guy. You notice him every time he’s on the ice.”
A late-born 1997, Matthews is one of the few major NTDPers yet to make a college commitment, making him a hot commodity coming out of his star turn in Finland.
TOP STUD IN 2017: Famous bloodlines continue to dot the prospect map and one name to watch for is big right winger Nolan Patrick of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.The nephew of former NHLer-turned-coach James Patrick, Nolan is already 6-foot-3, even though he doesn’t turn 16 until September. He was taken fourth overall in the 2013 bantam draft. He has already played 12 games (including the playoffs) for the Wheaties and prides himself on playmaking.
“I have pretty good vision out there,” he said. “I try to use that to my advantage.”
And when he needs advice, Uncle James is always available.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a phone call that wasn’t about hockey,” Nolan said.
By Matt Cosman
Players put down the sticks and picked up the paddles Thursday, as host Dominic Moore and a handful of other NHLers came together for a night of ping-pong at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto to raise money and awareness for two causes that have greatly affected Moore’s life.
This year’s Smashfest raised $140,000 for concussions and cancer research. That’s in addition to the $100,000 raised at last year’s event.
“Rare cancers are definitely underrepresented in terms of funding,” said Moore. “And concussions – there’s so much room to go in terms of understanding how they work, and treatments and awareness.”
Fans had the opportunity to interact with players, while some were lucky enough to play alongside an NHLer in the doubles tournament.
Money raised goes toward The Katie Moore Foundation for rare cancers and The Steve Moore Foundation, dedicated to Dominic’s brother Steve, who suffered a career-ending concussion in March 2004. Dominic’s wife, Katie, passed away last year from a rare form of liver cancer. Read more
The ink is still drying on James Reimer’s new two-year contract with Toronto, but the betting is Reimer won’t be a Maple Leaf in two years.
The two sides avoided an arbitration hearing Friday by agreeing to a two-year deal that will pay Reimer $2.3 million annually. That’s probably fair market value for the 26-year-old native of Winnipeg who had a cap hit of $1.8 million each of the past three seasons. The question remains, however, $2.3 million is a steep price tag for a position expected to be backup for Jonathan Bernier. It’s not a bad salary, however, for any team out there who partway through 2014-15 decides it’s not happy with its goaltending. Did we mention Reimer is a native of Winnipeg?