If you hadn’t been beaten over the head with the news already, the top prospect in the NHL draft this year is Connor McDavid of the Ontario League’s Erie Otters. But will the stellar center’s team win the title? He’ll have to do a lot, since there’s no guarantee left winger Andre Burakowsky will be back in town – the Swede could go to the Washington Capitals or even the American League. Similarly, Kingston may get Sam Bennett back, but he might end up in Calgary, while Darnell Nurse could be in Edmonton. But even without Nurse, the Soo Greyhounds will be strong. I surveyed a group of experts to find out how strong, then added a player to watch on each team.
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.
So it seems like former NHLer Ryan ‘Hollywood’ Hollweg is having himself a tricky start to the year in the Czech Republic. The physical winger for Plzen has raised the ire of the hockey nation with his play, which has sometimes gone over the line and garnered extra discipline, including a 10-game suspension for kneeing Slavia Praha’s Tomas Vlasak.
But this post is not about that hit, which you will see below. No, this post is about the reaction, where Vlasak’s linemate, Michal Poletin, feigns as if he is going to defend his buddy, then drops like a rock when Hollweg takes a swing at him. But watch the video, specifically at the 40-second mark: Hollweg misses him with the punch!
The excitement is palpable. Even before the 2014 draft had taken place, folks were already talking about 2015, when phenom centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel would be eligible for selection. But it goes far beyond those two pivots – there is also Noah Hanifin and Oliver Kylington on the back end to consider, plus a host of skilled forwards and burly power forwards. Here’s my initial take on the top 30 picks for 2015:
Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos is on the cover of the latest issue of The Hockey News. I was tasked with getting ‘Stammer’ on the phone for the article, which also included interviews with teammates, family and others who know the captain.
And as it happens, Stamkos has impeccable timing that stretches far beyond his goal-scoring prowess. The day Stamkos was supposed to call me, he was given my office number and my cell phone number, since I would be commuting home at one point. In Toronto, the subway line is almost entirely underground, with only a handful of stops offering daylight – and therefore, cell phone signal. Just as my train pulled into one such stop, my phone rang. I pulled one earbud out and with my iPod still blaring into the other side of my head, answered the phone as I jumped onto the station platform. It was Stamkos.
No one has ever understood goaltenders. From Hall of Fame puker Glenn Hall to wall-kicking Josh Harding, they’re a breed apart and considering the dangerous occupation they chose, perhaps they can be forgiven for their eccentricities. Recently, it’s been very difficult to figure out who will dominate the Vezina Trophy race. But with some help from Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract, here’s a look at 10 goalies who might have down years. Quality Starts percentage refers to games in which a goalie had a .917 save percentage when facing more than 20 shots (.885 when facing 20 shots or less). Vollman averaged out the past three seasons to get his results.
Last season, the Western League’s Edmonton Oil Kings toppled Guelph of the Ontario League to win the Memorial Cup. Can the Oil Kings get back on top, despite losing a bunch of players and coach Derek Laxdal? Their old foes from Portland are still dangerous, while some new names are rising up, too. I consulted with a crew of experts from the region to put together power rankings for the league, then added one name to know for each team:
If you like a good scrap, you might find yourself a bit under siege lately in the hockey world. Regulations are tightening up, though the powers-that-be still maintain that organic fights, rather than staged bouts, are still part of the game. And even though enforcers such as Paul Bissonnette and Colton Orr appear to have uphill battles in returning to the NHL this season, there are still plenty of scrappers to watch. With a shout-out to hockeyfights.com as a research tool, here are the best:
The shootout is one of the most controversial aspects of today’s hockey game and I get the feeling its approval rating continues to dwindle. On top of the people who always hated it, you have a new faction of folks who are bored of the spectacle. Thankfully, 3-on-3 overtime can save us all.