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.
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.
The Los Angeles Kings need to tighten up, because they just set a record they shouldn’t be too excited about.
With their 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, the Kings became the first NHL team to win three straight Game 7s on the road in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Obviously, the record is a clear indicator this team knows how to win when everything is on the line, but consider the reasons for playing all those Game 7s.
In the first round, they went down three games to none against the San Jose Sharks while getting outscored 17-8. Then Jonathan Quick started playing like his Conn Smythe-winning self and the Kings essentially gutted the Sharks, outscoring them 18-5 over the final four games. An impressive comeback, to be sure, but one that wouldn’t have been necessary if the Kings were dialed in from the outset.
L.A. almost let it all get away again in the second round against the Anaheim Ducks. After winning Games 1 and 2, the Kings lost three straight, albeit in tight contests each time. Again, they clawed back from the brink of elimination to win Game 6 before exploding for a 6-2 victory in Game 7 and advancing to the West final.
Earlier this week, THN’s Brian Costello raised a great question: What makes a dynasty in this salary cap era? Brian defined it as three titles in five years – at least, before the salary cap was instituted – but admitted maybe that standard needs to be relaxed in the face of today’s flattened NHL playing field.
It’s a timely discussion, what with the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks – Cup champs from the last two seasons – heading into Game 7 of the Western Conference final tonight. One team will go on to the Stanley Cup final as a favourite to win another championship. The other will have to deal with the sting of falling just short of dynasty-level success.
Both teams are as close as it gets to dynasty-calibre potential in the NHL right now, but we simply haven’t seen a team win three Cups in five years since the salary cap was imposed. With salaries spiking at a younger age now and roster turnover inevitable, teams simply can’t stay on top as long. In a league built on parity, staying at the top of the pile and consistently making the playoffs is an impressive feat in its own right.
So which teams have managed that best? Which teams have the most playoff appearances and Stanley Cup wins since the 2004-05 lockout?
These 10 teams have had the most post-season success, counting up the number of playoff rounds they’ve appeared in since 2005, and adding any Stanley Cups on top.
Thomas Vanek has been the gift that keeps on giving this season.
Not for his three teams, of course, but from an observer’s standpoint, that little #20 domino has spawned more storylines this year than during his entire tenure in Buffalo.
First, he was the sacrificial lamb (one of them) for the rebuilding Sabres. Then, he was expected to help John Tavares put the New York Islanders over top and get them into the playoffs. Next, after the losses and the contract offers piled up on Long Island, he was the guy they just couldn’t pay to stay. And off he went to Montreal, where he would help them to the playoffs before earning the goat horns in the Habs’ third-round elimination.
Vanek wasn’t terrible in Montreal. He wasn’t the reason they lost. But he didn’t help much when it mattered, either. The Austrian put up five goals and 10 points in 17 games. That’s OK, but nowhere near his 27-goal, 68-point regular season pace. And with just two points in his final seven playoff games, there’s no denying he pulled a disappearing act. Maybe his mind was in Minnesota, but more likely (he’s a professional, after all) he suffered an injury that we’ll hear about in the coming weeks.