Is Rene Bourque the new Dustin Penner? Wake me in the spring?

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three

Nobody could sleepwalk through a season the way Dustin Penner did the past few years in California. Then come the Stanley Cup playoffs in the springtime and Penner would come to life.

Is Montreal’s Rene Bourque the Dustin Penner of this year’s playoffs? With three goals in three Canadiens wins – and probably nary a mention in a hockey pool from coast to coast – Bourque is up from his season-long slumber.

If the Canadiens are to do any damage in the second round of the playoffs (yes, this is getting ahead of things slightly, but it’s just postulating), they’re going to need secondary scoring and physical play from the big body of the big man from Lac La Biche, Alta. At his best, Bourque can be Milan Lucic. Problem is, Bourque has rarely been at his best in recent seasons.

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The Phoenix Coyotes win the 2014 Stanley Cup…of Hope

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport)

Here’s an easy way for the NHL to make even more money: hold a post-season tournament for all non-playoff teams to determine the Stanley Cup of Hope.

The inspiration for the idea comes from the Kontinental League, which started the Nadezhda Cup (a.k.a. Cup of Hope) last season for teams that missed the playoffs. The, er, “winner” takes home around $600,000 and gets a top pick in the KHL draft.

It’s an out-there idea, for sure, and I’m not necessarily endorsing it, but let’s indulge it for a moment.

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Rumor Roundup: How will the Toronto Maple Leafs change?

#34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stands by the net during a break in action in a game against the Edmonton Oilers on October 29, 2013 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs hiring Brendan Shanahan as their new president isn’t the only off-season change expected for the club in the coming weeks. Amid rumors coach Randy Carlyle could be fired, speculation persists over potential off-season roster moves.

James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail believes goaltender James Reimer along with defensemen Cody Franson and Tim Gleason could become trade candidates. Reimer and Franson are restricted free agents while Gleason has two years (at an annual cap hit of $4 million) left on his contract. Mirtle also thinks forwards Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul could be dealt for the right price.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons also believes Reimer and Franson could be moved, but feels their trade value is lower than it was a year ago. Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star adds his voice to the growing speculation over Reimer’s trade status, and thinks defenseman Jake Gardiner could be dealt for a top forward. Read more

Ryan Kennedy’s Lottery Mock Draft

Aaron-Ekblad

Florida won the draft lottery last night, meaning the Panthers get the first crack at an interesting field with a lot of variation in it. A lot goes into a draft list and the final results are always thrown into chaos by trades and reaches. As the draft gets closer and teams decide who they like the most, I’ll get a more accurate picture of how things might shake down. But for now, here’s a quick-and-dirty look at what could happen come draft day in Philadelphia, based on the teams’ current situation.

1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad, Barrie Colts, D

Yeah, yeah, defensemen never go first overall anymore (Erik Johnson was the last in 2006), but the Cats are loaded up front with Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau. Their best ‘D’ prospects are still in college, whereas Ekblad can step in right away and play a top-four role.

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Florida Panthers win lottery. Will they keep top pick or deal it?

2013 NHL Draft

Turnabout is fair play for the Florida Panthers. At last year’s draft lottery, the second-to-last Colorado Avalanche leap-frogged the Panthers to win first overall pick. This year, it was the Panthers who did the leap-frogging.

Florida moved up one spot in the draft and won the right to select first overall in the 2014 NHL draft June 27 in Philadelphia. The Panthers had an 18.8 percent chance of winning the lottery, held Tuesday night in Toronto. The last-place Buffalo Sabres had the best chance of winning – 25 percent – but will slip to the second overall spot.

The remainder of the top 13 picks follow in reverse order of NHL standings. Edmonton picks third followed by Calgary fourth and the New York Islanders fifth. Vancouver is sixth, Carolina seventh, Toronto eighth, Winnipeg ninth, Anaheim (from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade) 10th, Nashville 11th, Phoenix 12th and Washington 13th. The New Jersey Devils slip to the 30th spot as league penalty for trying to circumvent the NHL salary cap.

Winning the lottery is nice for the Panthers, but it doesn’t mean as much in a draft that is considered very equal among the top three, four, even five prospects according to most scouts. Florida is weakest on the blueline and will surely be tempted to select Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad first overall.

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Why injuries should factor far more in suspensions

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images Sport)

According to at least one report, Paul Byron may avoid suspension after ending the NHL regular season on an ugly note.

There have been worse hits, for sure, but that shouldn’t lessen any disciplinary action he receives for his hit on Daniel Sedin Sunday evening.

That’s because an injury caused by a penalty should be the primary factor when determining a suspension.

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Draft lottery odds: See the most likely outcome for your team

Nathan MacKinnon

Canadian teams will be well-represented in Tuesday’s NHL draft lottery.

Hey, we have to find something nice to say as the Montreal Canadiens are the only team north of the border to make the playoffs. The other six Canadian cities are among the top 10 teams vying to win the lottery and earn the right to select first overall.

Below you’ll see a listing for the 14 non-playoff teams and their chances to select first overall in the June 27-28 draft in Philadelphia. Most interesting is the likely outcome column which shows the varying percentage chances your favorite team will place.

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Sedin’s health, Tortorella’s future & suspension among questions following scary hit

Jason Kay
Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks

It didn’t take long for Stephane Quintal to be thrust into the spotlight.

On the same day Brendan Shanahan is officially introduced to the Toronto media, his successor as NHL chief disciplinarian – at least for the time being – will have to review and decide how much supplemental punishment is in order for Calgary’s Paul Byron following his dangerous hit on Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin.

Most importantly, however, let’s hope the Canucks star, who missed time earlier in the campaign with a concussion, didn’t suffer serious injury. He lay motionless on the ice briefly following the hit from behind and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. He appeared to move his fingers on the video replay and early reports were that he had movement in his extremities and his prognosis was good.
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