Should Phil Kessel continue his personal assault on the playoffs and be named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP, fans in Toronto and Boston should feel nothing but happiness for him. Wasting their time and emotional energy lamenting what might have been would be an exercise in futility.
And that’s largely because it never would have been. You see what Kessel is doing in the playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins? Never would have happened in either Toronto or Boston. Fans in Boston can be thankful for what they got in return for Kessel – Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton for a while – then Jimmy Hayes and three prospects they got when they dealt the players they got for Kessel. Fans in Toronto can watch as Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington try to win a Calder Trophy for their minor league team and hope the first- and third-round picks turn into something nice.
There’s not yet any official word on whether or not an expansion team will be granted to Quebec City for the 2017-18 season, but NHL hockey will be played at the Videotron Centre as early as next season.
The Montreal Canadiens announced Tuesday that they will head to Quebec City on Oct. 4 for a pre-season game against the Boston Bruins. The contest will mark the second-consecutive season the Habs have hosted an exhibition game at the Quebec City arena, and the seventh such time since the 2009-10 season. It’s become a pre-season tradition for the Canadiens to head to Quebec City for at least one game of their exhibition schedule. However, that tradition could be coming to a close and the October 2016 pre-season contest could potentially be the final time the Canadiens are the home side at a game played in Quebec City.
If the NHL decides to expand to Quebec’s capital, the Videotron Centre will become the home of the new Canadian franchise and a place where the Canadiens are one of the most despised visiting teams. Read more
With the New York Islanders eliminated from the second round of the 2016 playoffs, they head into the offseason facing the possibility of some significant roster changes.
Newsday’s Steve Zipay reports pending unrestricted free agents Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin face uncertain futures with the Isles. Of the trio, the 28-year-old Okposo stands to cash in the most. He’s completing a five-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.8 million, though he earned $4.5 million this season in actual salary.
Since last summer, contract talks between Okposo and the Isles have been almost non-existent. It’s assumed he won’t be back, meaning the Isles need a suitable replacement at right wing.
Citing defenseman Travis Hamonic’s request last year to be dealt to a Western-Canadian team, Newsday’s Mark Herrman suggests shipping the 25-year-old blueliner to the Edmonton Oilers for one of their good young wingers. ESPN.com’s Craig Custance recommends acquiring Jordan Eberle to replace Okposo. Read more
The NHL and NHLPA recently agreed upon the rules for a potential expansion draft that could be held following the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Though these rules haven’t been officially released, TSN’s Gary Lawless reported sources claim players carrying no-movement clauses must be protected from the draft, while those with no-trade clauses won’t be exempt and can be exposed.
NBC Sports Ryan Dadoun notes that could create an interesting dilemma for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Should an expansion draft be held, existing NHL teams can only protect one goaltender. With rookie netminder Matt Murray filling in very well for sidelined starter Marc-Andre Fleury in the 2016 playoffs, Penguins management could face a difficult decision over which one to protect.
Boston struggled down the home stretch and fell three points short of landing themselves a post-season berth, but the extended off-season might pay dividends for three key members of their roster. The Bruins announced Tuesday that Torey Krug, David Krejci and Matt Beleskey have all undergone off-season surgeries that will keep them out of action for significant periods of time.
Beleskey, 27, will see the shortest recovery time with only six weeks needed for him to get back to action. He had surgery to repair his left hand in mid-April, and the timeline for recovery will give the first-year Bruin more than enough time to get healthy in time for the regular season. In his first campaign with Boston after signing a five-year, $19-million deal, Beleskey netted 15 goals and 37 points.
The more worrisome injuries, though, are those to Krug and Krejci, who are expected to miss six and five months, respectively. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been attempting to rebuild the right way under the Brendan Shanahan/Lou Lamoriello/Mike Babcock regime and in winning Saturday night’s draft lottery, the most important piece has become available to them.
Anze Kopitar was nominated for his second 2016 NHL award on Saturday.
The Los Angeles Kings center was named one of the three finalists for the league’s Lady Byng Trophy, given to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Kopitar is also up for the Selke Trophy for the top defensive forward.
Joining Kopitar among the final three are Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and Boston Bruins left winger Loui Eriksson.
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron will have a shot at the Selke Trophy three-peat — and his fourth nod as the league’s best defensive forward — but Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler will stand in his way.
The NHL announced the Selke finalists Thursday night with Bergeron, Kopitar and Kesler as the top three vote-getters for the award given to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” Both Bergeron and Kesler have won the award before, but Kopitar, who has been a finalist in each of the past two seasons, has never taken home the hardware.
Unlike other awards that can be judged off of pure statistics, the voting for Selke can be a lot more vague. Really, each of the three have good cases for the award. Read more