2013-14 record: 21-51-10, 16th in East, 30th overall
Acquisitions: Andre Benoit, Tyson Strachan, Andrej Meszaros, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Cody McCormick, Matt Moulson
Departures: Matt D’Agostini, John Scott, Kevin Porter, Cory Conacher, Christian Ehrhoff, Alexander Sulzer, Ville Leino
Top five fantasy options: Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Brian Gionta, Sam Reinhart
Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario:
Boom: Just when we all thought the Sabres were going to “McSuck for McDavid” or “Play like Robert Reichel to get Eichel” they went out on a spending spree that should at least make them a tougher out than they’ve been in the past. Read more
By Michael Musalem
The next generation of NHL stars was on full display in Toronto this past Saturday, as 33 of the league’s most promising recent draftees gathered at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre for some serious face time.
The event put on by Upper Deck, the league’s official trading card partner, and the NHLPA is held each year with the purpose of photographing the prospects in their official NHL team gear for the first time, giving them all the opportunity to live out any pro’s lifelong dream of having their very own hockey card. Read more
By Richard Kamchen
Fans of Allan Bester can be forgiven if they assumed the ex-Toronto Maple Leaf netminder had become a twitching mercurial recluse in retirement. Who wouldn’t after experiencing the trauma of being a fish under siege in the Leafs’ barrel during Toronto’s dark days in the 1980s? Don Cherry wasn’t exaggerating much when he quipped Bester had seen “more rubber than a dead skunk on the Trans-Canada highway.” Bester rountinely faced 40-plus shots a game as his introduction to the NHL.
“For years I’d been stopping pucks in my sleep and punching my wife in the face,” Bester jokes.
By Randy Schultz
Following his graduation from West Point in 1959, Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins received an invitation to participate in a Detroit Red Wings practice.
Dawkins had played hockey growing up in Michigan and was good enough to make the West Point varsity team. He got the invite through a friend, went to practice, warmed up with the Wings and then played in a scrimmage.
“When I lined up to take the faceoff,” Dawkins says. “I looked to my right and Gordie Howe was my right winger.”
From blockbuster trades to harrowing human dramas, there was a lot to remember in 2013-14. And that’s not even counting the fact the schedule got a bit squished thanks to a
little ol’ tournament called the Olympics. Here’s a look at the top 20 moments that defined the greatest hockey league in the world this year.
Tomas Hertl’s four goals vs. New York, Oct. 8, 2013
In just his third NHL game, the rookie Tomas Hertl put up his statement performance with four goals in 11 minutes of playing time against the Rangers. Hertl’s final goal was a breakaway between-the-legs instant classic that drew gushing reviews from most of the hockey world and the occasional dissenter, such as then-Washington coach Adam Oates, who said the move was disrespectful. Nonetheless, Hertl became a frontrunner for the Calder Trophy from that game until mid-December, when he required knee surgery after being hit by L.A.’s Dustin Brown. Marty Biron, the goaltender who gave up Hertl’s famous goal, would play just one more NHL game before retiring.
2. T.J. Oshie’s shootout heroics vs. Russia, Feb. 15, 2014
It was the most anticipated matchup of the Olympic round-robin, a Cold War classic starring the United States and the host Russians. Controversial Russian President Vladimir Putin was even in the building as the two rivals went at each other for 65 minutes without resolving matters. So with the score tied 2-2, the game went to a shootout where, under IIHF rules, only the first three shooters had to be different. So with the score still tied, Team USA sent out Blues winger T.J. Oshie five additional times in a row, while Russia countered with Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk. Oshie finished with four goals to win the match for America and earn the nickname ‘T.J. Sochi’. Read more
BY MATT COSMAN
Hockey is a game of numbers, with a little luck mixed in, and nowhere is that more evident than at the NHL draft. Lottery balls determine which team gets first dibs on the player they think is the best available. Randomness is heavily incorporated into the system, and while it’s fair, it leaves us with an endless string of possibilities of who could have ended up where.
From 1995 to 2013, all 14 non-playoff teams were entered into a lottery and had the chance of moving up a maximum of four spots in the draft. Thus, only the top five teams had a shot at the first-overall pick. But as of the 2013 draft, all 14 teams have a shot at it. The last-place team has the best chance (25 percent) at the first-overall pick, while each following non-playoff team has decreasing odds.
In the 18 draft lotteries, the pick has been robbed from the last-place team 10 times. These are the players they chose, and the other teams they almost went to.
1998 – Vincent Lecavalier
While the San Jose Sharks were the victors of the 1998 draft lottery, the Tampa Bay Lightning had previously acquired the right to swap picks with them. With hyped-up prospect Vincent Lecavalier within their reach, the Lightning pulled the trigger and claimed him with the first-overall pick. As close as he was to becoming a Shark, it was originally the Florida Panthers’ pick the Sharks had picked up. Unfortunately for the Panthers, that’s just one of the plethora of bad decisions they’ve made with high draft picks. Read more
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By Michael Musalem
If you didn’t already know, the Detroit Red Wings are pretty good at sniffing out elite talent at the draft. In the case of first-rounder Anthony Mantha, the Original Six franchise may have just done it again.
Selected 20th overall in 2013, Mantha was far from a household name in the hockey community until the following December, when he was chosen to represent Canada at the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. The Longueuil, Que., native would go on to lead Canada in scoring with 11 points while being named to the tournament all-star team. And for a young unknown like Mantha, that was huge.
“It helped me a lot,” Mantha said. “It started off the year before when I had a good season. Then I came in last year and had a great first half, so when I went up the world juniors my confidence level was already way higher. From there I just kept pushing, and it went great.”
The Val-d’Or alum heads into Wings camp this September with the goal of making the team outright, and according to a May interview with The Hockey News, GM Ken Holland wants to give Mantha every opportunity to do just that.
“We’re going to give him a real chance in camp,” Holland said. “We’d be pretty stupid if we just gave him two exhibition games and then sent him to Grand Rapids.”