Josh Elliott is a stay-at-home web editor for Post-to-Post on weekends and a contributor to The Hockey News magazine. From drafts to contracts to trades, he loves the business of hockey and plays nothing but Dynasty Mode in EA’s NHL video games. He’s a Western Journalism grad, a hockey addict and a closet comic book junkie.
It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today, so in honour of that, here’s a look at what each team can be thankful for from the off-season.
It’s incredible how quickly Leafs Nation hits the panic button. Only in Toronto will a 0-2 start to the season become cause for concern – and cause for throwing a jersey on the ice.
But blow out the New York Rangers 6-3 – with a three-point night from Phil Kessel, no less – and the tone in Leafs Land changes pretty quick.
After the Leafs dropped a hard-fought opener to Montreal 4-3 and fell apart in a 5-2 loss to the guns-blazing Pittsburgh Penguins this week, some were talking like the sky was falling in Toronto. Heck, one panic-stricken fan was so hopeless that he threw his jersey on the ice in Saturday’s loss to Pittsburgh.
That guy probably regrets chucking his sweater now, because Sunday’s team looked nothing like the one in Toronto on Saturday.
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen starts this season with a new contract and a new challenge: he’ll have to hit the ground running and justify his three-year, $12-million contract without the benefit of a full training camp.
Johansen used what leverage he had as a restricted free agent to battle the CBJs for more money, but he had to compromise if he was going to get back on the ice. He may have missed training camp, but now that he’s signed, Johansen will have to get up to speed quickly and prove he’s worth every dollar he asked for in negotiations.
RFAs like Johansen haven’t had a lot of negotiating power under the last two collective bargaining agreements. Their greatest leverage is their value to their team, and as we saw with Johansen, that leverage only goes so far. Read more
The underachieving San Jose Sharks tried a new sort of rebuild this summer: they juggled a few letters and called it a day.
They took the ‘C’ off Joe Thornton and gave him an ‘A,’ changed Brent Burns from an ‘RW’ to a ‘D,’ waved bye-bye to blueliner Dan Boyle and declared their off-season work complete.
The Sharks talked big and did little this summer, After flaming out against the Los Angeles Kings and blowing a three-game lead in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
There were plenty of free agent goaltenders on the market this summer, and a number of decent options remain unsigned as the regular season gets underway. Most teams have a clearly-defined No. 1 goalie or are happy to go with a strong tandem at this point, but players disappoint and injuries happen (just ask Nashville and Pekka Rinne).
There are some serviceable veteran goalies waiting for a contract right now, and a few young prospects in the minors who could get a look if a backup gets injured somewhere.
Here are some names you might see back on an NHL ice surface before the end of the season.
It’s tough to believe in the Carolina Hurricanes this season. Their faint optimism for the new year was swept away in a flurry of injuries in the pre-season, after Jordan Staal went down with a broken leg and Jeff Skinner sustained his third concussion before age 23. To add insult to injury, most people – including THN – have the Canes pegged to finish dead last in the Metropolitan Division.
The Canes certainly looked headed that way Friday night in dropping the first of back-to-back games against the New York Islanders, 5-3. They fell behind 3-0 by the middle of the second period and couldn’t get back in the game, despite a valiant effort led by captain Eric Staal. If that’s how they play this season, they’re going to have problems.
New Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson is sharing his promotion with his fans.
The dynamic Swedish blueliner says he’s purchased 1,000 ‘C’s for fans who’ve already bought his jersey.
The ‘C’s will be available at the Sens store in Ottawa on Tuesday.
Karlsson is the ninth captain in Sens history and the second Swede to hold the position. The 24-year-old is in the third year of a seven-year, $45.5-million contract that pays him $6.5 million annually.
Defenceman Henrik Tallinder probably wouldn’t mind finishing his career like Derek Jeter, but most pro athletes don’t get to retire the way they want to.
Their careers wind down in a quieter way.
Tallinder, a 35-year-old free agent, suffered a separated shoulder while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs on a professional tryout Friday night. Tallinder sustained the injury in a game against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, when ex-teammate Mike Weber slammed him into the boards and fell on top of him.
Tallinder’s injury could put him out of contention for a Leafs roster spot, and may kill his last shot at an NHL contract before he retires.
It would be a less-than-auspicious end to Tallinder’s 12-season career, which began with the Buffalo Sabres 678 NHL games ago. Tallinder was drafted by the Sabres and spent nine seasons in Buffalo, including last year. But this season he was trying to crack the rival Maple Leafs’ roster, and he sustained his shoulder injury as a visitor in the Sabres’ arena.
If this is the end for Tallinder, you’ve got to feel for the guy.