Brian Costello joined The Hockey News in 1990 when the likes of Bruce Boudreau, Randy Carlyle and Joel Quenneville were players, not coaches. Costello covered major junior hockey for five seasons before getting called up to THN. He likes to focus his attention on pre- and post-NHL careers, following closely the progress of the draft, up-and-coming prospects and fancying himself a Hall of Fame expert.
The NHL’s revamping to the draft lottery format will probably backfire this year when the league’s bottom feeders make a concerted effort to sink to 30th place. There’s just too much to gain from finishing last overall.
First, some background.
In August, the league announced changes to the draft lottery to be phased in over two years. The changes for 2015 are small adjustments to the odds of winning – they’re more evenly balanced now and the last-place team has a 20 percent chance of winning rather than 25 percent under the old format.
The real change doesn’t happen until 2016 when the lottery will be used to determine the top three selections in the draft.
By not making these sweeping changes right away for 2015, the NHL inadvertently will encourage the league’s worst teams to tank it in an effort to secure 30th place. That’s because for the 2015 draft, there are two generational prospects available. Connor McDavid has been called the stud of the 2015 draft for close to three years now. He’s been incredible this season. And in the past year, Jack Eichel has emerged as a close second option to McDavid. They’re head and shoulders better than the rest of a deep draft class.
The Calgary Flames locked up the game’s top-scoring defenseman for another five seasons, and by the time the deal kicks in next season, it might look like a huge bargain.
T.J. Brodie, who is tied with Victor Hedman and Brent Burns atop the NHL defensemen scoring parade with seven points, signed a five-year contract with the Flames worth $4.65 million annually ($23.25 million total). Brodie, 24, is in the second-year of a two-year bridge-deal that pays him $2.125 million. He would have been a restricted free agent next July.
For those who don’t watch the Flames on a regular basis, Brodie and defense partner Mark Giordano have been the team’s best players the past couple of seasons. ‘Brodano’, as they’re referred to, match up against the opponent’s top line, are on the first power play unit, play upwards of 25 minutes per game and boast strong possession and zone entry numbers.
One great part of another NHL season is the launching of a few dozen careers in the next few days. No matter how well you think you follow the game – and prospects in the development system – there are always some names that arrive from left field.
In perusing the 30 season-opening rosters this morning, there were a handful of names that were Greek to me – and we’re not talking about the Gyros of Hockey team. There were some other names that I didn’t anticipate arriving on the scene, either so soon or this season. (I’m not including young top prospects such as Sam Reinhart and Alexander Wennberg because the probability was high they’d make it.)
Without further adieu, here’s my list of 30 NHL player names you, too, may not be that familiar with.
Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to pay the highest ticket price in the NHL, according to a report by TiqIQ, a leading resale ticket market aggregator.
The average listed resale ticket price of a Maple Leafs game at the start of this season is $373.50 (U.S.). That’s just a 3.87 percent increase over this time last season ($359.60). Canadian teams make up five of the top six spots in this report – Vancouver, Edmonton Calgary and Montreal are the others. The Chicago Blackhawks are the only American team in the top six.
Here’s the average posted resale ticket price for all 30 NHL teams, according to TiqIQ.
Teemu Selanne may not have a hockey card depicted of himself this year, but a Finnish man had created a large Lego piece of art of the retired NHLer.
Check out this terrific 5-by-8 foot rendition of the Finnish Flash. It’s a sepia tone close-up of Selanne’s face in an Anaheim Ducks jersey after taking a slapshot. The two-dimensional Lego board (see video) was created by 22-year-old artist Timo Ranto and made from 10,000 pieces of Lego over the course of one month.
Sam Bennett has been Calgary’s best player in the two NHL pre-season games he’s played. Despite that, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft is likely headed back to the Ontario League’s Kingston Frontenacs for the bulk of the season.
Here are five reasons why he should stick with the Flames as an 18-year-old and five reasons why he’s destined to go back.
Stay. He’s quick enough and skilled enough to make an impact. In the two pre-season games – both losses to Vancouver – Bennett dazzled with his speed, moves, and creativity and assisted on Calgary’s lone goal. He generated nine shots and was pretty much the team’s lone reliable scoring threat in the two games.
The NHL is making changes to its draft lottery ostensibly to discourage teams from tanking in order to get a higher pick. What that means for the 2015 draft is the team finishing 30th now has just a 20 percent chance of winning the lottery and getting first overall pick. That’s down from 25 percent the past two drafts and down from 48.3 percent since the creation of the draft lottery in 1995.
What’s more, starting with the 2016 draft, the league will now have a lottery to determine the top three picks in the draft, not just the top pick. In past years, if the 30th-place team didn’t win the lottery, it slipped just one spot to second pick. Starting next year, the 30th-place team could conceivably slip to fourth pick if its number doesn’t come up during the draws for the first three picks.
Here are some other new facets of the adjusted lottery odds.
Right winger Kevin Hayes has bid adieu to one of the league’s strongest franchise and signed instead with the New York Rangers. The deal is a two-way contract, as per CBA guidelines for entry-level contracts, and is expected to be worth the rookie maximum salary if he makes the NHL.
The Modus operandi was all about getting to the NHL sooner for the Boston-area native. The Hayes watch has been on high alert since the NCAA graduate rebuffed the Chicago Blackhawks and became a free agent Aug. 15. Social media has been abuzz this week speculating where Hayes may sign. At one point today, the Kevin Hayes Wikipedia page showed him a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The next minute he was a Ranger. Then he was a free agent again as rational heads prevailed leading up to his announcement.
Some wondered, tongue in cheek, if his Hall of Fame announcement would precede his NHL destination of choice.
So how good is this Kevin Hayes?