Inspired by Zepp, the top five players who have debuted after age 30

Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, Slava Kozlov (Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport)

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Rob Zepp’s incredible journey to the NHL was capped off yesterday with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets, but he isn’t the first player to make their NHL debut after the age of 30.

Goaltender Viktor Fasth is one such player, as he made his debut with the Ducks at 31 and 171 days. Nearly a year later, he’s signed himself a big money deal, been shipped from Anaheim to Edmonton, and has 50 NHL starts under his belt. Though he doesn’t make the top five, he’s part of the new generation of first-year players that could be considered elder statesmen.

Here are the top five players to make their NHL debuts after their 30th birthday: Read more

Top 10 Norris candidates: Letang the leader?

Kris Letang (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Year in and year out, one of the most heavily debated awards is the Norris Trophy.

The award given to the NHL’s most outstanding defenseman has, in recent years, had a tendency not to go simply to the best defenseman, but rather the one with the most points. At times, it feels as though the trophy should be split in two, with one award going to the defenseman with the most points and another to the best overall defenseman.

However, in our ranking of the top 10 Norris candidates, we did our best to take into account all facets of defense in hopes it gave us a true picture of the Norris race. By using the standard statistics like points, average ice time and shorthanded time on ice – a key defensive situation – mixed with advanced statistics like Corsi for, quality of competition, and defensive zone starts, the things that can help tell us which players are driving play and not just benefitting from sheltered minutes.

There are a few surprises, but for the most part, it’s the usual suspects. Read more

Flames inexplicable run comes to an end, but it was never going to last

Jared Clinton
Calgary Flames v Florida Panthers

Losers of six straight games, the numbers game has finally caught up to the Calgary Flames.

Let’s not mistake this for grave dancing. It’s anything but. What it is, however, is yet another example of a team playing over their collective heads simply coming back to earth. And though the Flames may still be able to right the ship and fight for a playoff spot, it’s far more likely that the slide will continue and the team will simply start playing sub-.500 hockey. After all, it’s what has been coming all along. Read more

Flames reward coach Bob Hartley with new contract, but tough times are still ahead

Adam Proteau
Bob Hartley (Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames announced Wednesday a multi-year contract extension for head coach Bob Hartley and nobody in their right mind was going to argue with the move. The 54-year-old has exceeded all expectations this season, taking a young group near the top of the NHL standings out of the gate. He’s been a crafty tactician with a keen sense of the personalities in his dressing room, and he’s been able to sell his high-energy approach to his players with a virtually 100 percent buy-in rate. He’s earned a new deal.

However, once the warm feelings associated with Hartley’s contract die down, it’s more than a little likely Flames fans will come to know the pace their team has established this season was going to be unsustainable. There’s so much to like about the future in Calgary – the play of captain Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie; their skill and youth at forward (including Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Markus Granlund); the prospects who’ve yet to play an NHL game (Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski) – that it’s easy to look past the problems that still exist with this team.

And they do exist. Forget the Flames’ current six-game losing streak, and look at the advanced stats: they’re 20th in Fenwick; their Corsi-For is 18th overall; and their Corsi-Against is 29th overall. As well, their overall team depth is lacking: if the injury bug that’s already taken a fair bite out of them continues to feast, Calgary simply doesn’t have a deep enough farm system from which to restock the NHL roster.

Despite the losing skid, Flames fans have every right to be stoked for Hartley’s achievement and the good times ahead. But with the high level of competition in their conference – and so many lessons still to be learned for their dynamic youngsters – Calgary is still bound for some stretches that will push Hartley’s best days to the back of people’s minds.

Top 10 Calder Trophy candidates: Can anyone catch Filip Forsberg?

forsberg2

There’s been no shortage of great stories this season, but one of the most surprising things is the cast of rookies who have quickly made names for themselves in the league.

The thing with rookies is they’re one of the most difficult groups of players to accurately forecast. With little known about how well adjusted they’ll be to the NHL, they can either boom or bust, and in some cases an injury or unfavorable situation can send the early Calder Trophy favorite to the bottom of the ballot.

Take Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, for instance, who some people thought would run away with the award but doesn’t even appear on our list. Or John Gibson, the THN consensus pick for the Calder, who had a shot at leading the Ducks this season before injury derailed his season.

These are the top 10 Calder Candidates at this point in the season: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Stewart still available, Blues and Jets may look for deals before trade freeze

Patrik Berglund Blues featured

With the NHL holiday trade freeze slated for midnight on Dec. 19, there’s increasing focus on Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart in the rumor mill. SI.com’s Allan Muir reports Sabres GM Tim Murray is reportedly willing to move the 27-year-old winger for the right price but so far he hasn’t found any takers.

Muir claims the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators are said to have interest in Stewart. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson adds the Pittsburgh Penguins to that list, while the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Calgary Flames are also among the interested parties. Read more

Who is the NHL’s scariest fighter and bodychecker?

Ryan Kennedy
Brian McGrattan (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

For our Nov. 3 Issue, We polled NHLers and hockey insiders to find out who are the NHL’s scariest in various modes of the game. When it came to punching and hitting, two men quickly rose to the fore.

SCARIEST FIGHTER: Calgary’s Brian McGrattan isn’t just the best fighter in the NHL. He’s quickly becoming a parent pugilist. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Several teams looking at moves leading up to holiday trade freeze

Buffalo's Tyler Myers (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the NHL’s holiday trade freeze beginning at midnight on Dec. 19 there’s growing speculation over possible moves leading up to the deadline.

ESPN.com’s Craig Custance reports Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray is willing to be creative after noting a recent decline in trade talks, leading Murray to acknowledge his asking prices could be too high.

Winger Chris Stewart, a recent healthy scratch against the Los Angeles Kings, is considered most likely to be dealt. The Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports the 27-year-old winger’s poor play could affect his trade value, as well as his chances for a lucrative contract via free agency in July. Vogl claims the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators could be interested in Stewart. Read more