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.
If all goes according to plan, right winger David Clarkson will be in the lineup Saturday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets take on one of his former teams, the New Jersey Devils. But it’s not his time in Newark that folks like to pontificate on, it’s his brief tenure in Toronto after Clarkson signed a big free agent deal with his hometown team.
Now that the dust has settled on the shocking trade that sent him to Columbus in exchange for injured winger Nathan Horton, Clarkson has revealed his thoughts on the turbulent times he had as a Maple Leaf, and they’re not as bad as you might think.
When the Boston University Terriers needed Jack Eichel the most, he was there. For the first 60 minutes of the Beanpot final against Northeastern, the consensus No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft was crazy dangerous, but had yet to make his mark on the scoresheet. But seconds into overtime, Eichel swooped towards the Northeastern net, drawing a controversial penalty on Huskies defenseman Matt Benning.
“His speed is intimidating; teams know when he’s out there,” said Terriers coach David Quinn. “He gives us a swagger and it’s infectious. But it’s a respectful swagger.”
Less than a minute later, Eichel helped set up Matt Grzelcyk’s winning goal on the power play and the Terriers were celebrating.
Mobbed by reporters after the morning skate on Tuesday, Ryan Spooner walked into the spotlight. David Krejci would be missing at least a month of action due to an MCL tear in his knee and with the Bruins tenuously holding on to a playoff spot, wins were of the utmost importance.
Spooner, who has now appeared in 34 NHL games spread over three seasons, was well aware of the stakes.
There is no doubt that the Western Conference playoff race is going to be a dogfight down the stretch, particularly since a couple of elite teams are still vying for a foothold. The Vancouver Canucks are in a good place right now, holding down second place in the Pacific, but with starter Ryan Miller out weeks with a lower body injury, the crease is now property of Eddie Lack.
BOSTON – Matt Grzelcyk’s dad has been a Boston arena worker for decades, covering up ice for basketball games, uncovering it for hockey or prepping the building for concerts. Grzelcyk (pronounced “Grizz-lick”) was also drafted by his hometown Boston Bruins, so of course the city’s famous college hockey trophy would be decided on the blade of one of its own.
BOSTON – The Beanpot tournament is a bit of a big deal in Boston. Pitting the four NCAA schools in the city against each other over two weekends, the showdown features blood rivals Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University. Defenseman Noah Hanifin grew up around the tourney, so he was amped to play in it this year and helped Boston College win third place after an opening round loss to Northeastern.
“I pretty much went every year since I was five years old,” Hanifin said. “To be able to play in it this year and experience it was unbelievable even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”
Like fellow 2015 NHL draft phenoms Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (a friend of Hanifin’s), it’s not hard to run out of superlatives when talking about the gifted Hanifin.
High school hockey is still popular in traditional American markets and is beginning to take hold in other states. The Anaheim Ducks, for example, have grown a great league in California in a very short amount of time. Those teams should be applauded for their efforts, but they do have some catching up to do. Not just in producing college players and NHLers, but also in their names (no offense to all the Eagles and Wildcats out there). Check out the best high school hockey names I’ve come across, mining admittedly from traditional hotbeds:
Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award goes to the state’s most outstanding senior in high school hockey and a perusal of the past winners churns up some pretty impressive names. Ryan McDonagh, Nick Leddy and Nick Bjugstad all earned the honor and each one of them was then taken in the first round of the NHL draft. For years, a Minnesota high schooler always went in the top 30, but those days are gone. Since 2011, the first names called have been second-rounders, but sometimes fifth-rounders. In 2014, a Wisconsin high schooler (Matt Berkovitz, Anaheim) was actually taken before any Minnesota kids, which, traditionally speaking, is insane.
The “State of Hockey” is still producing lots of talent, but those kids are no longer sticking with their schools. Team USA, the United States League, the Western League and prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s have all taken chunks out of the high school circuit, which still holds its vaunted state tournament at the Minnesota Wild’s XCel Energy Center and packs the house. It’s getting to the point where some scouts are less than enthusiastic about watching the games and a fierce protectionism has frayed relationships at the local level.