Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

Get ready for overtime goals, lots of ’em as GMs endorse 3-on-3

Ken Campbell
You'll be seeing more of this in overtime in 2015-16.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The eventual adoption of 3-on-3 overtime for the NHL is a step forward, not to mention a crowning achievement for one of the sharpest minds in the game today. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland has been advocating for this for five years and finally got his wish when the GMs recommended that the league go to 3-on-3 overtime, effective next season.

The rule change still has to be ratified by the NHL’s board of governors, but once something passes the muster of the GMs, that’s considered a rubber stamp.

“I’m happy,” Holland said. “I think 3-on-3 overtime is going to be very exciting for our fans.”

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Detroit Red Wings still the prospect kings

Ken Campbell
Dylan Larkin (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

For years, the Detroit Red Wings had based much of their success on their ability to find late-round gems, almost always from Russia or Sweden. But that paradigm is shifting. The Wings’ top prospects are Canadians and Americans, and two of them – Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin – were first-round picks. That’s not to say the Wings have lost their magic in the late rounds. Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen was drafted 111th overall in 2010 and defenseman Alexey Marchenko was taken 205th overall in 2011. Center Axel Holmstrom is now considered a steal, going in the 196th spot in 2014.

Read more

Want to make Team Canada? Play like Alex Killorn and Jake Muzzin

Alex Killorn Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the braintrust for Canada’s World Cup of Hockey team met Monday to begin the task of assembling the Canadian team for the tournament, each member of the management team was asked to present a mock roster based on the playoffs and recent World Championship. And the way GM Doug Armstrong sees it, everybody’s first list probably has the same 15 or 16 players on it.

We’re not giving anything away when we say that list almost certainly includes Carey Price in goal, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Alex Pietrangelo on defense and Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at forward.

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Buffalo Sabres take baby steps with their baby faces

Ken Campbell
Sam Reinhart. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

So how does a center ice corps of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Mikhail Grigorenko and Johan Larsson sound? Well, considering only two of the four can legally drink in New York State, pretty young. And considering the top end of that group, pretty darn promising. As a group, Buffalo will continue to take its lumps as the Sabres continue through a painful rebuild. When you finish 30th in the NHL in successive seasons, the rewards at the draft are potentially astronomical. Even with Eichel, the Sabres will still finish near the bottom, meaning they’ll be getting another gem in 2016.

Round 1, pick 2
Round 1, pick 21
Round 2, pick 31
Round 2, pick 51
Round 4, pick 92
Round 5, pick 122
Round 6, pick 152
Round 7, pick 182

Buffalo’s future on defense is tied to Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, but if the Sabres are going to come close to competing in the next few seasons, they’re going to need depth, preferably in the form of a player who can help show the young blueliners the way.

Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Boston Bruins shift focus to cubs

Ken Campbell
David Pastrnak. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

This season, Boston had the youngest player in the AHL and the NHL. They both just happened to be the same player. When the Bruins took David Pastrnak 25th overall in 2014, they didn’t envision him having the season he had for them. He played so well in the AHL and was such a standout at the world juniors that the Bruins had no choice but to call him up when they ran into injury trouble. Pastrnak thrived on a line with fellow prospect Ryan Spooner and veteran Milan Lucic. The Bruins pick in the first half of the first round for the first time since doing so in 2010 and 2011.

Round 1, pick 14
Round 2, pick 37
Round 3, pick 75
Round 4, pick 105
Round 5, pick 135
Round 6, pick 165
Round 7, pick 195

This team is aging quickly and not all that beautifully. An injection of youth is needed to shake up a group that looked rather lethargic in 2014-15. With the announcement Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell won’t return, the Bruins will need fourth-liners of the quality they’ve had in the past.

Read more

Connor McDavid will stand up for the little guy

Ken Campbell
Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

In the world of teenage fiction, J.K. Rowling created the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and installed Harry Potter as The Chosen One. In the world of teenage on-ice wizardry, Neil Doctorow created the Hogwarts of Hockey and installed Connor McDavid as The Chosen One.

If you marvel at McDavid’s skill level and wonder where it was nurtured, a good part of it can be traced to an airport hangar on an abandoned Canadian Air Force base in Toronto. That’s where the PEAC School for Elite Athletes is located and where McDavid spent three years honing his skills. For upwards of $30,000 a year, parents can send their aspiring hockey stars to an institution such as PEAC, one of a growing number of private sports schools in Canada, and place them in a high-end cocoon with like-minded kids.

It was there McDavid spent Grade 7, 8 and 9, combining a rigorous youth hockey schedule with the Toronto Marlies AAA team with life at PEAC, which included 90 minutes a day on the ice, plus dryland training with a full school day jammed in between. PEAC produced two first-overall picks in the OHL draft in McDavid (2012) and Travis Konecny (2013) and will have three NHL first-rounders in 2015 with McDavid, Konecny and Lawson Crouse. McDavid was special, however.

Read more

Pressing question for Wild: Is Devan Dubnyk a $5 million man?

Ken Campbell
Devan Dubnyk (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Devan Dubnyk gets something just north of $5 million a year on a long-term deal with the Minnesota Wild, he’ll be 19th in the NHL when it comes to salary cap hit among goalies. That doesn’t seem outrageous or unreasonable, considering his performance this season and the fact he’s 29 and this is the first time he hasn’t played behind a terrible team.

But if you’re Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, do you really want to offer a big-money, long-term deal to a player with such a checkered past when you’ve already got five contracts that have at least five more years remaining?

Read more

Lightning has to avoid Stamkos contract from becoming a circus

Ken Campbell
Steven Stamkos Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

We’re all about to find out exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning thinks of Steven Stamkos. And we’ll find out very soon. If the Lightning doesn’t have Stamkos signed to a long-term extension by July 1 or shortly after, let the fun begin. If this somehow drags into next season, it will become the Mike Babcock Saga all over again.

Teams typically like to have their superstars signed to extensions long before it becomes an issue. That’s what the Pittsburgh Penguins have done with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the Chicago Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. When Crosby signed his extension in 2012 and Malkin a year later, the deals were announced before July 1. Toews and Kane’s deals were announced July 9.

Right now everyone is saying the right things in Tampa. GM Steve Yzerman has said getting Stamkos signed to an extension is his No. 1 priority. For his part, Stamkos has said he wants nothing more than to stay in Tampa and win a championship with this group.

But let’s not forget, there was a time when the thought of Martin St-Louis not retiring in a Lightning uniform was a preposterous one. But the Lightning For Life was miffed about being passed over for the Olympic team by his own GM and forced his way out of town. The point is, it doesn’t take much and it doesn’t take long for these situations to go south.

Whatever happens, the Lightning is going to have to decide whether or not Stamkos will continue to be the face of the organization and the cornerstone of the foundation. If so, the team is going to have to offer him, at the very least, the eight-year, $84 million pacts the Blackhawks offered to Kane and Toews. Keeping in mind that the two of them would have received even more had they decided to split up and put themselves on the open market, it might even be more.

For the record, there have been no discussions between the Lightning and Stamkos on a contract extension yet. But that’s understandable, since the Lightning just finished its season. But the sooner this gets resolved, the better for everyone involved. If the Lightning truly wants Stamkos, get it done right away.

Of course, we wouldn’t be speculating about all of this if Stamkos had (a) not been the subject of an ice time issue, and/or (b) he had produced some goals with the ice time he had been given. Stamkos played just 17:17 in Game 1 despite being the best player on the ice, which was sixth among Tampa’s forwards for that game. By Games 4, 5 and 6, he was getting more ice time than any other Tampa forward, but there was still some concern around his deployment late in games. (By the way, there was nothing wrong with Cooper having Stamkos serve a bench penalty in Game 1. Stamkos doesn’t kill penalties and it makes sense to have your best non-penalty-killing forward in the box in the event you can spring him for a breakaway. Teams do it all the time.)

But we are. Both Cooper and Stamkos insist it was not an issue between them, but superstars want to be on the ice when the game is on the line. Coaches, on the other hand, feel compelled to put out the players out who give his team the best chance of winning. And any way you cut it, Cooper thought there were five players who gave his team a better chance of winning that game than Stamkos did in Game 1. In that game, Stamkos got 14:43 of even-strength ice time, just over a minute more than J.T. Brown. Stamkos’ linemate Alex Killorn got 17:09, while Tyler Johnson got 16:00, Ondrej Palat 16:30, Nikita Kucherov 16:12 and Valtteri Filppula 15:28.

It’s natural that Cooper might gravitate to the players he developed in the minors and have a level of trust with them. We get that. And with some of those same players – Palat and Johnson, along with Victor Hedman and Jonathan Drouin – coming up for contract renewals in two years, the Lightning will have to find cap room for them all. And that doesn’t even include Killorn, Brown, Kucherov and Cedric Paquette, whose contracts are up next summer.

Perhaps Cooper may think he’s a good enough coach to win in Tampa without one of the most dynamic scorers in the NHL. And if that’s the case, he might be right. And two years from now, with Hedman on the horizon, which player does the Lightning see as its franchise cornerstone. The way he played in the Stanley Cup final, it certainly wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest that player may very well be Hedman, and not Stamkos.

So many questions, so little time to resolve them. One thing is certain, the quicker the Lightning deals with Stamkos one way or the other, the more likely it will be to avoid a circus.