Hard to believe one of the top defensemen taken in the 2014 draft was playing center just a couple years ago, but that’s the story with Marcus Pettersson. Taken 38th overall by Anaheim, the lanky Swede was just the seventh D-man drafted in his class, yet scouts have been swarming him all year thanks to his upside.
When Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed their monster eight-year extensions this week, the reviews were generally very positive. The Blackhawks secured the services of two superstars, players who are integral to their core and who would be just 34 and 35 respectively when their contracts expire.
While the cap hit is $10.5 million per year, it’s not outrageous by today’s top-player standards. What’s not to like?
Not much, but there is some risk attached to the pacts. While most expect Kane and Toews to be elite players for years to come, plenty can happen in eight years.
On June 27, draft day, the Anaheim Ducks unveiled their new jerseys for the 2014-15 season. The home jersey is almost a copy of their third jerseys, except for the outline color around the numbers being orange instead of gold. Both jerseys went away from the lettering that spelled out “Ducks” and embraced the webbed “D” logo.
Ryan Kesler, Anaheim’s big off-season acquisition, landed in the city for the first time and threw out the first pitch at the Angels-Blue Jays baseball game Wednesday. Before that, he stopped by the Ducks’ team store to try on the new jersey.
Yesterday, we caught a glimpse of Jarome Iginla in his new jersey, albeit in video game form. And now we can stop imagining Kesler in Ducks colors and see what it looks like. Avert your eyes, Canucks fans.
Many NHL teams have prospect development camps going on this week, with some already underway. These sessions are a great way to teach new draft picks how the organization works and get them familiar with their peers from past draft classes who are also attending. Usually there’s some sort of tournament or scrimmage at the end.
But the camps aren’t just for draft picks. Along with previously signed free agents, teams bring in kids on tryouts. Not only does this fill out the roster, but it also gives the franchise an opportunity to get a longer look at some players they may have overlooked in the draft – or simply ran out of picks before they could snag. Here are some of the best names in that cohort.
Scott Savage, D – Boston College (San Jose, Anaheim)
The California native is double-dipping back home, taking part in camps hosted by the Sharks and Ducks. Coming out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Savage was a physical, defensive D-man without ideal size. But he’s always had mobility and put up decent numbers with the Eagles this past season.
Bobo Carpenter, LW – Austin Prep (Toronto)
The son of ex-NHLer Bobby Carpenter, ‘Bobo’ is short for Robert and he’s the third generation of that name. After his high school season ended, Carpenter put up nine points in nine games for Sioux City in the United States League and despite his obvious offensive talent, he didn’t hear his name called at the draft in Philly. Skating might be a factor, but the Maple Leafs are giving him a whirl.
Ken Appleby, G – Oshawa Generals (Arizona)
Appleby has excellent size, standing 6-foot-4 in the crease, but as a backup to Carolina prospect Daniel Altshuller, he didn’t see enough time to intrigue an NHL team. His .920 save percentage actually edged Altschuller’s .917 mark and perhaps that’s why the Coyotes would like to see more from the youngster.
Joe Hicketts, D – Victoria Royals (Detroit)
One look at Hicketts’ measurements – he’s 5-foot-8 and 186 pounds – and you can see why NHL teams may have been scared off at the draft. There was also a shoulder injury that truncated his season, but the blueliner can put up offense and he’s feisty out there; physical play is no issue. The Red Wings were intrigued enough to bring him along to their camp.
Sam Anas, LW – Quinnipiac Bobcats (Montreal)
Another smaller player, Anas will fit in perfectly in Montreal. Ha ha! Just kidding. But seriously, the 5-foot-8 winger is tremendously talented in the offensive zone and put up more than a point per game this past season while playing on Quinnipiac’s top line. The Habs are giving the college kid a chance to shine in the summer now, too.
Damian Bourne, LW – Mississauga Steelheads (Calgary)
At the other end of the spectrum is 6-foot-4, 209-pound Bourne, who never really got on track offensively this year. A big, powerful winger, Bourne can dish out the punishment and perhaps he’s destined to be a bottom-sixer. Whether or not he develops into a power forward, the Flames wanted another look.
Kevin Tansey, D – Clarkson Golden Knights (Ottawa)
Tansey has been to a camp before in Toronto, but now it’s the hometown Senators giving him a shot. The physical, defensive blueliner missed all of 2012-13 due to a concussion and injury to his ribs, but rebounded this season and put up solid numbers in the ECAC.
Blake Clarke, LW – Saginaw Spirit (Detroit)
Clarke went through a dreadful scoring drought this season and was traded from North Bay to Saginaw in between. The big winger also dealt with a shoulder injury that messed with the mental side of his game, but he’s been a scorer in the past and clearly the Red Wings want to see if he can rediscover that touch.
Jordon Cooke, G – Kelowna Rockets (Los Angeles)
At 5-foot-10, Cooke does not have ideal size for a modern netminder, but he did have great numbers for one of the best teams in the nation. Was that because of the players in front of him, or was he part of the reason the Rockets succeeded? Cooke was named CHL goaltender of the year, so there’s a pretty good clue there. At the least, the Kings are intrigued.
Jack Flinn, G – Owen Sound Attack (Toronto)
Again, we have opposites. Flinn comes in at 6-foot-7 with lots of potential but poor numbers. He was the backup in Owen Sound this year, but split the playoff workload with starter Brandon Hope. The Leafs are willing to test out Flinn’s huge frame at their camp this week.
Next season, the Anaheim Ducks are slated to have Frederik Andersen as the starter with freshly signed Jason LaBarbera as his backup. But John Gibson, who showed he’s pretty much ready for the big time with his play down the stretch and in the playoffs.
His numbers are good enough, but if style points count for anything, Gibson is definitely NHL ready. Read more
The 2014 draft had little consensus going into Philadelphia and it showed in the results on Day 2 as teams went all over the board with their picks. One thing that became very clear is that teams were valuing upside and potential, swinging for the fences instead of settling for safe selections.
But with the full draft in the books, some teams helped themselves more than others. Here are my winners and losers from Day 2.
PHILADELPHIA – There are probably only two people in the hockey world who were colossally disappointed with the return the Vancouver Canucks got for Ryan Kesler. One of them, we’ll call every single fan of the Vancouver Canucks. The other is Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray.
Now that is not to say that new Canucks GM Jim Benning swung and missed when he dealt Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Nick Boninio, Luca Sbisa and the 24th pick in today’s NHL draft. In fact, given the circumstances, Benning got as much as he could have hoped. He was in an untenable situation and made the best of it, so good for him. And if he turns that pick and the sixth overall selection into a higher pick in this year’s draft, then the deal becomes better. Read more
With the Vancouver Canucks having hired a new GM (Jim Benning) and coach (Willie Desjardins), the focus returns to center Ryan Kesler, who remains the target of recent trade speculation.
Earlier this month it was reported Kesler informed Benning he still prefers a trade. There’s been some recent confusion, however, over where the 29-year-old prefers to be dealt. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are Kesler’s only preferences, prompting The Globe & Mail’s Eric Duhatschek to note the difficulty that would create for the Canucks to move him.
The Blackhawks have limited cap space ($4.6 million) for 2014-15 and restricted free agents (Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin and Antti Raanta) to re-sign. They’ll have to either do a dollar-for-dollar swap with the Canucks or convince them to pick up part of Kesler’s salary to squeeze him under their cap. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp has been mentioned as a trade candidate, but Sharp has a modified no-trade clause, meaning he’ll have to agree to the deal. Read more