Brian Costello

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.

2015 Draft Preview – Vancouver Canucks making up for lost time

Brian Costello
Jake Virtanen (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

There’s a 10-year chasm of futility in the Vancouver Canucks draft record that explains why the development system has been a world of hurt in recent seasons. Between the selections of Alexander Edler and Jannik Hansen in 2004 and the choice of Bo Horvat ninth overall in 2013, the Canucks don’t have a single draft pick playing for them. Sure, Cody Hodgson yielded Zack Kassian, and Frank Corrado is still a good prospect, but that’s nowhere near good enough.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 23
Round 4, pick 114
Round 5, picks 144, 149
Round 6, pick 174

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
Secondary scoring has always been an issue in Vancouver. Sooner or later, the Sedin twins will start lagging. The issue will become more acute if Shawn Matthias, tied for third on the team with 18 goals, moves elsewhere as a UFA. Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Is it too early for San Jose Sharks to turn back?

Brian Costello
Nikolay Goldobin.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Years of frustration have come crumbling in on the Sharks. Despite a top-four group of forwards that’s as good as any other team in the league, the Sharks fell apart in the second half and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. It’s only the second time in the 17-year career of homegrown talent Patrick Marleau that he’s gone home in early April without playing any post-season games.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 9
Round 2, pick 39
Round 4, pick 106
Round 5, picks 130, 142
Round 6, pick 160
Round 7, picks 190, 210

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
San Jose needs a top-flight goalie in the worst way. Antti Niemi has had some good seasons and some very good seasons in his five years with the Sharks, but he never rose to the occasion in the playoffs, and the team is sure to let the 31-year-old Finn walk as a UFA. The Sharks also need depth among the D-corps.

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Los Angeles Kings needed the break

Brian Costello
Adrian Kempe (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The analytics crowd are quick to point out the possession-dominating Kings missing the playoffs was a stats anomaly. The purists say possession stats mean nothing if you don’t possess a playoff spot after 82 regular season games. What can’t be argued is Los Angeles played a league-high 64 games the past three playoffs. The time off this spring will do their bodies good.

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Edmonton Oilers strike gold once again

Brian Costello
Connor McDavid (Adam d'Oliveira Photography on McDavid head, Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images on Edmonton body, manipulated by Erika Vanderveer)

It didn’t seem that long ago the Oilers made the proud choice selecting Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin with the first pick in the 2010 draft. That was supposed to be Edmonton’s first step forward after bottoming out in 2009-10. Hard to believe, then, that next season will be Hall’s sixth in the NHL, and the anchor is still caught among the seaweed. Selecting first overall for a fourth time in six years is bound to pay huge dividends this time. Have you heard of Connor McDavid?

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 1
Round 1, pick 16
Round 2, pick 33
Round 2, pick 57
Round 3, pick 79
Round 3, pick 86
Round 4, pick 117
Round 5, pick 124
Round 6, pick 154
Round 7, pick 184

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
In no particular order, the Oilers need more reliable goaltending, a good base of top-four defensemen and scoring depth in the middle six. But because few big-name players reach unrestricted free agency July 1, it’s improbable Edmonton can fill those needs in a single off-season. It’s a better bet the Oilers hire a coach who can push the right buttons and find a way to snap the losing culture.
Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Calgary Flames putting size on the agenda

Brian Costello
Calgary's Sam Bennett (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Flames vowed to get bigger last summer and did with the acquisitions of Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland. But president of operations Brian Burke and GM Brad Treliving wanted to beef up the system as well. Three of the five skaters drafted in 2014 are big boys getting bigger. Hunter Smith, Adam Ollas Mattsson and Austin Carroll average 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. Don’t expect that mandate to change.

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Arizona Coyotes pound sand in desert rebuild

Brian Costello
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

It looks fishy that Arizona traded Devan Dubnyk just 19 games into the season and he went on to become a Vezina Trophy finalist for the Minnesota Wild. Almost as though the Coyotes were making a run for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. But few could have predicted Dubnyk would maintain his spectacular play. After all, he was a bargain-basement signing by Arizona last off-season.

PICKS
Round 1, pick 3
Round 1, pick 30
Round 2, pick 32
Round 2, pick 60
Round 3, pick 63
Round 3, pick 81
Round 5, pick 123
Round 7, pick 183

SHORT-TERM NEEDS
Only the pop-gun offense of Buffalo was worse than that of the Coyotes. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23 goals) was the lone player with more than 17 goals. Arizona needs better goaltending as well, but that will have to come in-house from Mike Smith, who’s signed long-term.

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Anaheim Ducks on cutting edge of development

Brian Costello
Hampus Lindholm (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

No team does a better job being competitive and well positioned for the future than the Ducks. They’ve been at or near the top of the NHL and Future Watch standings the past few seasons under the direction of GM Bob Murray and top talent assessor David McNab. The Ducks are parsimonious with picks and prospects, not willing to give up much in the way of future players just to get a playoff boost.

PICKS
Round 1, pick 27
Round 3, pick 80
Round 3, pick 84
Round 5, pick 148
Round 6, pick 178

SHORT-TERM NEEDS
Anaheim has a fine assortment of talented forwards in their early 20s who are regular contributors. They’d love for at least one of Kyle Palmieri, Rickard Rakell, Emerson Etem or Jakob Silfverberg to break through and become the 25- to 30-goal secondary scoring threat the team has lacked since Teemu Selanne moved on.
Read more

Hall Monitor: Hossa still has work left to make the grade

Brian Costello
Marian Hossa Cup fans Bill Smith

You heard it as much as I did the past few weeks. Future Hall of Famer Marian Hossa this…. Future Hall of Famer Marian Hossa that… Did the Chicago Blackhawks’ right winger officially add that moniker to his passport?

Hossa has had a terrific 16-year NHL career, but he’s hardly a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Hearing so many hockey analysts calling him one is both premature and dangerous. He’s a very good player entering the final few seasons of a very good career. But a lot of very good players have retired in the past decade and not made it to the Hall of Fame. Here are some names: Mark Recchi, Owen Nolan, Adam Foote, Paul Kariya, Rod Brind’Amour, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Gary Roberts, Curtis Joseph, Trevor Linden, Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Keith Primeau.

And that’s just the past decade.

Read more