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.

Budding Swede Ludwig Bystrom headlines The Hot List

Ludwig Bystrom (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

With NHL rosters set, we will soon say goodbye to some Hot List favorites. Since as soon as players such as Curtis Lazar in Ottawa and Anthony Duclair of the Rangers make their big-time debuts, they will be considered graduates here. But while those players make their dreams come true, others are still on the path, so let’s take a look at some of the prospects making noise around the world right now.

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Referee focus more on goalie interference than goals in 2014-15

Ryan Kennedy
Ben Bishop. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Although a new season brings challenges for everyone in the NHL, perhaps no clan will be tasked with a bigger mental hill to climb than the referees.

“Historically, our focus has been on the crease,” said director of officiating Stephen Walkom. “This season our guys will look at the activity happening around the blue paint and the secondary focus will be on the puck.”

Simply put, determining if the puck crossed the goal line is no longer that important for refs. There are cameras – very good cameras – that are better equipped to take care of that task. Instead, the officials want to make sure the goalies are allowed to do their jobs in the crease, and that’s just fine for the men behind the masks. Read more

Hipsters love New York’s old “fish sticks” jersey, but what else?

Ryan Kennedy
They're baaaaack. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders are looking really good for this season. The roster is deeper than it has been in a long time and every position is accounted for. It almost…almost makes you forget about the old “fish sticks” logo and jersey that blighted the franchise in the mid-1990s.

But as it turns out, the team isn’t done with the uniform just yet. According to Newsday, the team will wear a version of the jersey during warm-ups for one game this season, then auction them off for charity. Why? Here’s the money quote:

“It’s part of our history,” said senior marketing manager Eileen Mathews. “I saw probably five to 10 people in Brooklyn wearing that jersey. I think it’s gotten a cult following.”

Brooklyn? Cult following? You know what that’s code for: Hipsters.

Which got me thinking, what other hockey gear will hipsters be rocking this season? Here’s a curated (and possibly artisanal) rundown:

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Guess what happens when Nathan MacKinnon races an Olympic speed skater

Ryan Kennedy
Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon is a fast dude. He has already made countless defensemen look silly with his skating prowess and promises to do more of the same in his sophomore season, but just how fast is he?

In a video produced by CCM (MacKinnon endorses their line of Tacks skates and wears them in the clip), the Avs pivot takes on Canadian Olympic speed skater Charles Hamelin, who has two golds and a silver medal to his name. The result? See for yourself:

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Niskanen’s brutal elbow on Skinner is grounds for suspension

Ryan Kennedy
Jeff Skinner (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

As if the pre-season hadn’t been horrid enough for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Raleigh squad already lost Jordan Staal to a long-term injury when he broke his leg in an exhibition game and now there’s concern over 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, who was walloped by Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen in the opening minutes of the Canes’ final tune-up. Here’s the play in question:

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Power ranking: The top 25 teams in college hockey

Ryan Kennedy
Can Minnesota win it all? (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

On Friday, I revealed my top 50 players to watch for in the NCAA this season. To complete the puzzle, I have now ranked the top 25 teams. More than any other circuit, college hockey has a strange duality. You have schools with rosters filled with NHL prospects, usually in their late teens or early 20s, and then there are other squads made up of 23 players who are 23 years old and have come together for one amazing season.

Some of the following teams had multiple entries on my top 50 players list, while others had none at all (and frankly didn’t come close). But they all have a shot at the national championship, so let’s give them their due.

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The 50 NCAA players you need to know this season

Ryan Kennedy
Vancouver pick Thatcher Demko (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

It’s gonna be a great year for college hockey. Not only will the usual array of prospects be on display as they build up their games at school, but there is a special bonus: The Fab Five Frosh.

A mixture of late birthdays, incredible skill and tantalizing opportunities have coalesced to produce a class of first-time draft eligible players rarely ever seen before. Who are these incredible teens? Check out the list below.

Along with the Fab Five, you will also find the most intriguing players for this year. My choices are largely based on NHL upside, so you won’t find a ton of upperclassmen, nor free agents. It was tough getting the roster down to 50, but here we go:

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Can Alexander Wennberg come to the rescue for Columbus?

Ryan Kennedy
Alexander Wennberg (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

It has been a trying month for Blue Jackets fans. First and foremost, there is the ongoing contract dispute with emerging star center Ryan Johansen. Then Nathan Horton was discovered to have a degenerative back condition and Boone Jenner broke his hand. So there goes the team’s entire top line. Oh, and defenseman Ryan Murray isn’t taking contact yet as he recovers from knee surgery.

So how about some good news, eh Columbus?

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