It was a glorious weekend of Michigan hockey for me, as I took a road trip to Ann Arbor to take in games featuring the National Team Development Program (NTDP) and University of Michigan. The NTDP got two wins over United States League opponents while the Wolverines capped off a weekend sweep of American International on Saturday. All three games gave me a great look at some top prospects and here are a few of them below, plus more kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day.
Since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005, early-season NHL trades have become rare. Even the ability for teams to absorb part of a player’s salary failed to spark an increase in player movement during a season’s opening weeks.
That partially explains why it took a month for this regular season’s first trade to occur, when the Dallas Stars shipped aging defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Since that deal there’s anticipation over when the next NHL trade will take place. Read more
For several weeks trade rumors have dogged Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal and defenseman Andrej Sekera. There was talk several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, inquired into Staal’s availability. Sekera’s eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July fuelled speculation he could be dealt at some point this season. Read more
The Arizona Coyotes entered their Nov. 2 game against the Washington Capitals having lost six of seven games. That poor performance generated speculation of big roster changes.
Sportsnet’s Damien Cox notes the Coyotes lack a true superstar. Taking into account their sputtering start and the possibility of missing the playoffs, he wonders if the new owners and GM Don Maloney might blow up the roster. Read more
What does a slow start mean in the NHL? In some cases, it’s a harbinger of more poor play. Other times, it’s bad puck luck, which is correctable. Regardless of the cause, however, poor starts make heads roll every year. The advanced stats tell us GMs are often too hasty to axe their coaches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The most common victims are bench bosses who ended the season prior on thin ice. They often get the boot as soon as they give their GMs an excuse to do so.
Here are five coaches who have to think about updating their resumes in the near future.
After going winless in October, the Carolina Hurricanes opened November with their first two victories of the season, downing the hapless Arizona Coyotes and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. This recent bout of success, however, won’t stem the growing tide of trade speculation dogging the Hurricanes this season.
ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is getting phone calls from other clubs interested in making deals with him. Francis claims none of them are willing to make a hockey trade which that makes sense for his club, as they’re attempting to dump bad contracts upon the Hurricanes. Read more
Finally, the day has come. The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first win of the season Saturday in a 3-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes.
Maybe it was the return of forwards Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer or maybe making Alexander Semin – a player earning $7 million – a healthy scratch was the smartest move of the season so far, but something looked different about the Hurricanes in the first period. They had a different kind of energy, almost a swagger on the ice, and it certainly transitioned over to their play.
The Hurricanes burst out of the gate, scoring early after Lindholm pounced on a rebound, putting it by a helpless Mike Smith. Lindholm followed that goal with another at 17:22, grabbing another rebound opportunity and wristing it by Smith.
After securing the lead, it was all Ward. The goaltender had the best performance of recent memory, shutting down the Coyotes offence, who didn’t play poorly. They had opportunities to keep the game close, but Ward wasn’t having any of it. He looked locked in. His most impressive save of the night came in the second period when he robbed Antoine Vermette, who broke in on a two-on-one.
The group looked fresh and they played well, but was it a stroke of good luck? Or are things going to change as the season moves on?
Sitting Semin could indicate that they’re willing to make some changes. When asked about Semin possibly being a healthy scratch for Saturday night’s game head coach Bill Peters told the Hurricanes website that “Right now, he’s not in the lineup.”
“We’ve got a couple guys back from injury so we’ve got the ability to take some guys out.”
Sounds like a harmless response, but teams don’t normally sit a player making $7 million a season if unless they’re unhappy. It’s not like Gerbe or Dwyer are stud prospects who are being given a chance to show the Hurricanes’ brass what they can do. This move reads that the organization is not satisfied with Semin and rightfully so. The Russian forward had two points in eight games and already a plus-minus of -7. Add in the fact that a poor attitude and work ethic have always been attached to him and it’s clear that an issue arose somewhere. Maybe Semin is reverting back to having a bad attitude, or maybe he’s not as healthy as the Hurricanes are letting on, but something is up and it’s certainly not his point totals. The Capitals cut ties with the talented winger because of a terrible attitude and work ethic, despite the talented play maker having seasons of 40, 38 and 34 goals, so maybe Carolina is thinking the same thing, or maybe this is the kick in the pants that Semin needs to turn things around.
Speculation aside, the Hurricanes won Saturday and the group effort was a refreshing site to see. They should stick with what worked against Arizona, ignore all of the Connor McDavid talk, and try and win some hockey games because the fans deserve it. The goose egg is gone, it’s time to move on.
SI.com columnist Allan Muir observes it was around this time a year ago the first significant trades of 2013-14 took place, most notably the Buffalo Sabres shipping Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and two draft picks. Muir, Sarah Kwak and Brian Cazeneuve speculated about which NHL teams could be the first to swing a significant trade this season.
Cazeneuve notes “a lot of teams” would love to land Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. Though he doesn’t recommend it, he believes moving Myers could fetch a return to address several areas on the Sabres requiring short-term help. Kwak points out injuries to the respective defense corps of the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers could force them into the trade market, though the market is currently thin for blueliners. Read more