The CHL Top Prospects Game and AHL All-Star weekend are both in the rearview mirror for the season, while the Beanpot tournament in Boston is now half-over. Boston College and Boston U. will duel for the city’s trophy, with Northeastern and Harvard in the consolation game. In other development news, the Los Angeles Kings have partnered with the United States League to put on a Pacific Region Showcase at the NHL team’s practice facility in El Segundo. It takes place in late March and will feature players from the 2000, 2001 and 2002 age groups. These are exciting times for the growth of the game. Let’s get caught up in the world of prospects.
How the Edmonton Oilers address their longstanding need for a top-two defenseman remains an ongoing topic of interest among NHL pundits. The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples cites 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer claiming the Oilers could try to upgrade at right defense by replacing Justin Schultz, listing the New York Islanders’ Travis Hamonic and the Anaheim Ducks’ Sami Vatanen as possible targets.
Stauffer’s guest, Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman, didn’t doubt the Oilers could pursue the 25-year-old Hamonic, who requested a trade to be closer to his Manitoba home last summer for family reasons. Friedman believes the Oilers could soon reach the point where they shop one of their good young forwards, like right wing Jordan Eberle or center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for a blueliner.
While John Scott was being carried on the shoulders of his all-star teammates in Nashville (I can see the reports now: Joe Pavelski, day-to-day, hernia. Brent Burns, day-to-day, hernia…), the American League’s finest were having their skills competition at their all-star festivities in Syracuse. And there were some pretty nice performances for fans of a couple NHL franchises.
The Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning stoked more speculation of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos joining the Leafs in the near future. Stamkos, who turns 26 in February, is eligible in July for unrestricted free agency. While he and Lightning management decline to discuss contract talks with the media, his future in Tampa Bay remains a hot topic.
While some Leafs fans are imagining Stamkos coming to Toronto via trade or free agency, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector wonders if the Markham native is doing the same. The Leafs are a rebuilding club, which was painfully evident at times during that loss to the Lightning. If Stamkos was sizing up the Leafs in that game, Spector suggests he didn’t see much of a comparable to his current club.
Fans will be watching Nashville this weekend as the some of the world’s greatest players gather for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, but hockey fans looking to watch some great up-and-coming talent can tune into AHL’s skills competition Sunday and All-Star Challenge Monday.
The events, which will in large part mirror those of the NHL, will give fans the opportunity to see talents who could be breaking into the big league in a few season’s time. Best of all, there’s no reason not to be able to watch the game, either, as Canada’s Sportsnet and 25 regional networks in the United States will be carrying both Sunday’s skills competition and the mini-tournament Monday evening. And for fans without access, the league is offering a free stream of the All-Star Challenge. By going to AHLLive.com Monday evening, fans can access the broadcasts by entering in ‘ASC2016’ as a promotional code.
Unlike the NHL, which has gone full 3-on-3 for its All-Star Game, the AHL has decided to change the format up to increase action at the tail-end of the games. Four teams — one from each the Atlantic, North, Central and Pacific divisions — will play a six-game round-robin. Games will last nine minutes with play switching from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 at the midway mark of each game. The top two teams when round robin play concludes will square off in the final — a six-minute, 3-on-3 game.
The AHL all-star weekend has, in the past, featured players such as Patrice Bergeron, Logan Couture, Tyler Johnson, Gustav Nyquist, Tuukka Rask, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp and P.K. Subban, so if you need more reason to watch, it could be your chance at watching a few future NHL all-stars before they make their climb to the NHL. Read more
The Anaheim Ducks laid several types of beatings on the Boston Bruins last night. The most obvious was on the scoreboard, where The Flock came away with a 6-2 road victory. On a more individualized basis, there was also the mismatched fight between Anaheim’s Chris Stewart and Boston’s Torey Krug.
Stewart comes in at 6-foot-2, 231 pounds. Krug, an offensive defenseman, is 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds. Here’s what happens when those combinations of atoms collide:
Anaheim Ducks winger Shawn Horcoff has been handed a 20-game suspension by the NHL for violating the NHL/NHLPA’s performance enhancing substance program.
The NHL released a statement Tuesday adding that Horcoff’s suspension is “accompanied by mandatory referral to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment.” Horcoff’s suspension will be without pay, and the 37-year-old will lose $357,526.88 in salary. Read more
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s suspension of unhappy left wing Jonathan Drouin has observers wondering about the effect this will have upon his trade value. Prior to suspending the 20-year-old over his refusal to play in the AHL until his trade request is honored, between 12 to 15 clubs reportedly had varying degrees of interest in the youngster.
Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh claims the Lightning informed them a trade was close to completion, prompting their request that he no longer participate in AHL games to avoid injury. According to The Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson, that drew an icy denial from GM Steve Yzerman. “We never said that there was a pending deal or a deal close,” said Yzerman.
The Lightning GM still claims trading Drouin is a priority, but it doesn’t put additional pressure upon him to get a deal done. Yzerman didn’t rule out a reconciliation, but that appears remote right now.
Staging a holdout is the only card the Drouin camp has to play. He’s in the midst of an entry-level contract through 2016-17. However, his actions could hurt his trade value, raising questions about his character. Read more