Ryan Kennedy

Ryan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.

Is Vladimir Tarasenko the missing piece in the Blues Stanley Cup puzzle?

Ryan Kennedy
Vladimir Tarasenko (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

The 2010 draft turned out to be pretty fruitful overall, but on the first day of the actual selections, St. Louis went in with a specific plan of action: take Jaden Schwartz with the 14th pick overall and, if possible, trade for another selection to land Vladimir Tarasenko. The first part went off without a hitch. With the 15th pick, Los Angeles tabbed big blueliner Derek Forbort, paving the way for Blues GM Doug Armstrong to swing a trade with Ottawa that saw the Sens grab defenseman David Rundblad in exchange for pick No. 16, which Armstrong used to snap up Tarasenko. Had the Russian right winger been off the board, St. Louis would have kept Rundblad, forever altering history.

Armstrong admits Tarasenko was the riskier pick, due to the fact the KHL offered a perfectly decent career path for the Russian kid whose father coached him with Sibir Novosibirsk. But Tarasenko made his way over to North America after the 2012-13 lockout and has been endearing himself to the organization since. “He’s the type of kid who has a lot of respect for the guys on his team and he really wants to play well,” said goalie Brian Elliott. “Sometimes you don’t see that in young guys, but he’s a team guy to the max.”

Adjusting to life in North America wasn’t easy, but Tarasenko was willing to put in the work. Some NHL teams have softened the cultural blow for young Russians by bringing in a veteran from their homeland (it almost always seems to be Sergei Gonchar), but the closest St. Louis has come is Dmitrij Jaskin, who was born in Omsk but was raised in (and plays internationally for) the Czech Republic. The Blues did hire retired defenseman Sergei Zubov for a year to help facilitate coaching messages during practice, but otherwise it was adapt and survive. “It was basically, throw him in the deep end and let him figure it out,” Armstrong said. “He worked hard on his own, and he wanted to be part of the team.” Read more

Auston Matthews just broke Patrick Kane’s NTDP record for points in a season

Ryan Kennedy
Auston Matthews (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

With a power play assist in the first period against Slovakia, Team USA’s Auston Matthews put himself in the history books. The elite center and top prospect for the 2016 NHL draft had himself his 103rd point of the season, breaking the National Team Development Program record of 102, set by Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane in 2005-06.

In a year where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel have ruled the prospect world, it’s time to give Matthews his due.

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Couture and Thornton sound off; what happens next in San Jose?

Ryan Kennedy
Joe Thornton (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

When San Jose GM Doug Wilson referred to his Sharks as a “tomorrow team” in the summer, he certainly tempered expectations as to what the ceiling of the 2014-15 squad was. But how many people thought the Sharks would miss the playoffs altogether? Can’t say I predicted that.

And clearly some of San Jose’s best players didn’t anticipate it either, as they had strong words for the organization before heading out for the summer. Several of these ripostes have been collected by the San Jose Mercury News. First, we have two-way center Logan Couture, talking about the team’s overall culture:

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How Winnipeg’s Drew Stafford re-invented himself

Ryan Kennedy
Drew Stafford (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Stanley Cup playoff hockey has returned to Winnipeg and if the Jets are going to upset the potent Anaheim Ducks, they’ll do it with depth, not through one line or one superstar. One of Winnipeg’s most dangerous players since the trade deadline is right winger Drew Stafford, who came over from Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal. Stafford, a 30-goal scorer with the Sabres in 2010-11, had fallen on hard times offensively in more recent days. But thanks to a couple of high-profile friends, he has rediscovered his game.

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