If you ever need a case study in the stark contrasts that sometimes exist between on-ice perception and off-ice personality, you needn’t go much further than Marcel Pronovost. As rambunctious and dramatic as he was on the ice, he was as humble and respectful off it.
The man Ted Lindsay once called, “the most underrated defenseman every to play in the league,” Pronovost died Sunday in Windsor at the age of 84 after a series of illnesses. And the hockey world is a little less for having lost Pronovost, a man who devoted his life to the game and whose tentacles touched almost every aspect of it, from playing to coaching to scouting. And Pronovost enjoyed an enormous amount of success in all three. Read more
Once the Edmonton Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft lottery, it didn’t take long for pundits to begin speculating over the effect this would have upon the club’s off-season plans. With the Oilers all but certain to select Erie Otters wunderkind Connor McDavid first overall, GM Craig MacTavish will have some intriguing options to work with to address his other roster needs.
TSN’s Darren Dreger believes MacTavish will go “big-game hunting” this summer via trade or free agency. The Oilers are in need of a starting goaltender and a top-three defenseman.
With the addition of McDavid, the presence of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander’s improvement, the Oilers now have considerable depth at center. They’ll have even more if they re-sign veterans Derek Roy or Boyd Gordon. Dreger suggests promising center Leon Draisaitl could become a trade chip this summer.
NBC Sports’ Jason Brough notes that MacTavish recently said Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle wouldn’t be dealt. With the anticipated addition of McDavid, however, he wonders if that might change. Read more
Was the NHL’s draft lottery presentation the pinnacle of television entertainment? Of course not. But, admit it, your heart pounded through your chest every time Bill Daly flipped over a rectangular team card in his hellish Rorschach test. It was quite the emotional ride, and that was just for fans and journalists. Imagine how team executives felt.
That’s why we should forgive Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray for his downtrodden reaction in the immediate aftermath of seeing the Edmonton Oilers land the first overall pick for the fourth friggin’ time in six years. Sure, Buffalo’s “plan” for Connor McDavid consisted of a mere 20 percent chance of winning the lottery, preceded by what may or may not have been an elaborate season-long tank operation. But in the moment, with a generational talent of McDavid’s ilk closer to Murray’s fingertips than to any other GM’s, who could fault him if his emotional, human side really wanted No. 97 in Western New York?
So Murray’s remark, “I’m disappointed for our fans,” deserves a pass. Who wouldn’t be disappointed? It could’ve been perceived as an affront to prospective No. 2 selection Jack Eichel, but that’s not what it was. Murray also said, “We’re disappointed not to get first, but we’re happy with second. Two franchise-changing guys in this draft.”
Despite the sting of losing McDavid, Murray and the Sabres realize they still very much have a franchise pillar waiting for them on draft day. Sabres fans should do the same. Especially considering how many other pieces the team has amassed in recent seasons.
There are some coaches who, after losing or leaving an NHL job, need time to decompress and recharge their batteries before they start working again. Todd McLellan is clearly not one of those people. This Friday he’ll leave for Prague to coach Canada in the World Championship, then sit back and field offers the way Brad Richards did four years ago.
And those offers will come. From Toronto, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Edmonton and, depending on what his mentor Mike Babcock decides on his own future, perhaps Detroit. But Todd McLellan, who mutually agreed with the San Jose Sharks to part ways with one year left on his deal, will coach in the NHL next season.
“I’m a coach,” McLellan said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I want to coach.” Read more
It’s heartache in Buffalo and jubilation in Edmonton as for the fourth time in six drafts, the Oilers will pick first overall. This time, they’ll get a chance to draft generational talent Connor McDavid. And if they have any sense at all, they will swing some big deals either before or after the draft.
Spoiler alert: The Buffalo Sabres will win tonight’s NHL draft lottery with the numbers 11, 5, 6 and 7. Your trusty correspondent knows this because he went to this really cool website that simulates the NHL draft lottery and it told him so.
Then he did it 99 more times because, like a certain potato chip, you can’t do it only once. The website, http://nhllotterysimulator.com/#/official, took on a new life on Friday when the NHL made public the lottery number combinations for each of the 14 teams in the event. Suddenly, fans everywhere could, with the click of a keyboard, determine where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will end up next season. Read more
It’s amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son’s adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel.
(And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.)
The NHL’s draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid’s most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here’s how it works.
Stanley Cup playoff hockey has returned to Winnipeg and if the Jets are going to upset the potent Anaheim Ducks, they’ll do it with depth, not through one line or one superstar. One of Winnipeg’s most dangerous players since the trade deadline is right winger Drew Stafford, who came over from Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal. Stafford, a 30-goal scorer with the Sabres in 2010-11, had fallen on hard times offensively in more recent days. But thanks to a couple of high-profile friends, he has rediscovered his game.