The magnitude and volume of trades during draft weekend and the first few days of free agency has been impressive. Big names such as Phil Kessel, T.J. Oshie and Milan Lucic were all given new addresses and in all three cases, prospects were part of the return.
In fact, many teams acquired future NHL hopefuls recently, so let’s take a look at some of the more prominent kids involved in this summer’s trade crop.
In the move from the ECHL to the AHL, the Bakersfield Condors kept their name, but after a slight alteration to the logo comes a brand new set of threads for next season and the Condors nailed it.
As with many AHL clubs, the Condors jerseys for the 2015-16 season will reflect their parent club’s jerseys, as Bakersfield will be wearing jerseys resembling those of the Edmonton Oilers. Much like Edmonton’s jerseys, the blue, white and orange combination pops, but where the Condors’ new sweater really stands out is on the shoulders. Read more
The 2015 draft has largely focused on North America, what with twin terrors Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel dominating headlines, with Dylan Strome, Noah Hanifin and Mitch Marner not far behind.
But there were some excellent prospects plying their trades on the other side of the Atlantic this season and they’re ready to let their skills do the talking.
The eventual adoption of 3-on-3 overtime for the NHL is a step forward, not to mention a crowning achievement for one of the sharpest minds in the game today. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland has been advocating for this for five years and finally got his wish when the GMs recommended that the league go to 3-on-3 overtime, effective next season.
The rule change still has to be ratified by the NHL’s board of governors, but once something passes the muster of the GMs, that’s considered a rubber stamp.
“I’m happy,” Holland said. “I think 3-on-3 overtime is going to be very exciting for our fans.”
For years, the Detroit Red Wings had based much of their success on their ability to find late-round gems, almost always from Russia or Sweden. But that paradigm is shifting. The Wings’ top prospects are Canadians and Americans, and two of them – Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin – were first-round picks. That’s not to say the Wings have lost their magic in the late rounds. Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen was drafted 111th overall in 2010 and defenseman Alexey Marchenko was taken 205th overall in 2011. Center Axel Holmstrom is now considered a steal, going in the 196th spot in 2014.
The Dallas Stars were supposed to join the NHL’s elite this season. They made the playoffs last year on the strength of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn’s sublime chemistry, and an off-season Jason Spezza trade made them a one-line team no more. Instead, Dallas regressed, missing the playoffs. Its offense remained outstanding, but few teams struggled as much preventing goals.
The Blue Jackets will draft players from any and all circuits, but those kids tend to wind up in either major junior or the AHL. Sonny Milano chose Plymouth over Boston College, Peter Quenneville left Quinnipiac for Brandon, Markus Soberg went from Sweden to Windsor and Marko Dano dumped the KHL for the AHL. Will the trend continue?
The Summer of Coaches continues, as former Edmonton Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson was expected to take over the bench in Grand Rapids with the AHL’s Griffins. Detroit’s top farm team had been run by Jeff Blashill, who graduated up to the NHL squad when Mike Babcock left for Toronto recently.
In Nelson, the Griffins get a coach who began his post-playing days in Grand Rapids – he was an assistant for one season before taking the head coaching job with the now-defunct United League’s Muskegon Fury, winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
The former journeyman defenseman, who had a cup of coffee with the Washington Capitals, has also been an NHL assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers and had a good run with the Oilers’ AHL squad in Oklahoma City, losing in the conference final two years in a row. Current Capitals coach Barry Trotz was a big influence on Nelson early on.
Nelson was part of Edmonton’s shaky transition after the mid-season firing of Dallas Eakins this season, taking over on an interim basis alongside GM Craig MacTavish. He was reportedly given an interview for the full-time position by new GM Peter Chiarelli, but the franchise went with the more experienced Todd McLellan in the end.
Landing in Grand Rapids is a nice situation for Nelson. The Griffins made it to the conference final this year before losing to Utica and many of the top players will be back. While leading scorer Teemu Pulkkinen may be a full-time NHLer, he will replaced by another sizzling prospect in center Dylan Larkin, who left the University of Michigan after an excellent freshman campaign and even won bronze at the World Championship with Team USA, holding his own against NHL competition.
Other notable names in Grand Rapids include Tyler Bertuzzi, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. Perhaps the most important player now under Nelson’s command however, is left winger Anthony Mantha.
The rookie pro, who was a gifted goal-scorer in junior, was called out by Detroit senior VP Jim Devellano for a lack of production, though Mantha was also coming off a broken leg that cost him valuable time at the beginning of the campaign.