The Edmonton Oilers lost 5-0 to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night in what was the final matchup of the Battle of Alberta at Rexall Place before they move into their new downtown arena in the fall.
And Todd McLellan couldn’t have been steamed about it.
The first-year Oilers coach blasted his team after the game, calling the players’ lackluster output “frickin’ embarrassing.”
When Tobias Lindberg steps on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Buffalo Sabres tonight, he’ll be part of a team record that hasn’t been matched in almost 100 years.
Lindberg, one of the prospects acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Dion Phaneuf trade, will become the 12th player to make his NHL debut for the Leafs this season, joining William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Byron Froese, Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Rinat Valiev, Frederik Gauthier, Garret Sparks and Viktor Loov. It’s actually 13 if you include goalie Antoine Bibeau, who dressed as a backup for 11 games this season, but didn’t see any action.
It’s official: no Canadian NHL teams will be making the playoffs this season. We knew this in our hearts for at least a month, but now it’s written in stone. And other than the Rogers TV execs trying to remember which of their molars contains the cyanide capsule, there’s no need to worry if you’re a Canadian.
For shame, Great White North. For shame. A year after five of seven Canadian NHL teams booked tickets to the big playoff dance, 0.0 will participate in the post-season. Monday night’s results pretty much nailed the nation’s collective coffin shut. The Ottawa Senators would have to win their final six games, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings would have to lose out aside from their remaining head-to-head matchup. So, yeah, Ottawa won’t pull off a miracle two years in a row.
It seems most fan bases and local pundits accepted that fate several weeks ago, however, as no Canadian squad was anywhere near a playoff berth. The Sens still sit 10 points back. It’s time to move on and start asking about next year. Which Canadian team, if any, has the most realistic odds of returning to the post-season in 2016-17? It’s time to rank their chances, from worst to best.
As the NHL regular season winds down, we like to reflect on what has happened since October. Teams and pundits go into each season with certain expectations and each season comes with surprises, both good and bad.
So this week, we’re looking at the biggest surprises from the regular season. No surprise, there’s more bad than good.
I was all in on Phil Kessel enjoying his first 40-goal season. A player still in his prime (a) leaves what, for him, was a hellish media crush in Toronto to join Pittsburgh, a team where he’d be the third-most famous person at best; and (b) is guaranteed to play with a future Hall of Fame superstar center still in his prime, be it Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. And yet, the goals haven’t piled up for Phil the Thrill. The uninspired Kessel we saw last season somehow crept onto the flight to Pittsburgh and returned for this season – with even worse numbers. The problem to me is Kessel’s lack of versatility. He has that tremendous wrist shot he likes to snap on the short side, but he can’t do a whole lot else. Kessel one-timer goals or slap-shot goals are rarities. I have to give credit to the pundits who predicted Kessel wasn’t a natural fit with Crosby or Malkin because Kessel likes to carry the puck more than most snipers. I figured it wouldn’t matter – come on, it’s Crosby and Malkin! – but I was wrong, evidently. (Matt Larkin)
Johnny Gaudreau is going to get P.A.I.D. as a restricted free agent this off-season. The Calgary Flames would be wise to forget about a bridge contract. He’s established himself as their most dynamic young player since Jarome Iginla first burst on the scene.
Calgary’s front office does have an unusual amount of leverage for a player in Gaudreau’s situation, as he’s exempt from offer sheets. But Gaudreau has earned a good-faith gesture at this point. A contract akin to Vladimir Tarasenko’s eight-year, $60-million pact seems spot-on. Tarasenko was 23 when he signed his extension and had played 179 games, racking up 66 goals and 135 points. ‘Johnny Hockey,’ who turns 23 in August, has 52 goals and 136 points in 153 games. He’s been more productive on a weaker team. Even if the lack of an offer sheet creates a slight discount, we should book him for a Tarasenko-esque deal.
The much tougher contract situation to read this off-season? That of Gaudreau’s centerman and fellow RFA Sean Monahan. Will he cash in as big as Johnny Hockey?
The Flames have yet to come to terms with restricted free agent-to-be Johnny Gaudreau, but there’s no reason for Calgary GM Brad Treliving to worry about a potential offer sheet coming down and forcing the Flames’ hand.
During TSN’s Insider Trading, Bob McKenzie reported that Gaudreau, 22, will not be eligible to ink an offer sheet this off-season as he has not played the necessary amount of games. Though Gaudreau will have completed his three-year, entry-level deal at the end of 2015-16, the first year of his deal ticked off when he appeared in one game at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Because Gaudreau went from the NHL to the World Championship — not the AHL — and failed to play 10 professional games in his first season, it did not count as a year of professional experience. In order to earn one year of experience, Gaudreau would have had to play 10 games total between the NHL and AHL. Gaudreau signed his entry-level deal as a 20-year-old, meaning he needs three years experience to become eligible for Group 2 Free Agency and also earn arbitration rights. Read more
Par Marts has a dream and it involves the Toronto Marlies getting shocked in the first round of the American League playoffs. Because that’s the only way the Swedish national team coach is going to get his hands on William Nylander for the World Championship.
With Marts and Swedish GM Peter Popovic on hand Monday night, Nylander gave them reason to salivate, registering his second multi-point game with a three-point effort in a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames. It gave Nylander five points in his past two games and established Nylander, the No. 2 prospect in THN’s annual Future Watch edition behind future Arizona Coyote Dylan Strome, as a future go-to offensive force for the Leafs. (Future Watch can be purchased on-line by going to: https://secure.thehockeynews.com/online-store/?&utm_source=thehockeynews.com&utm_medium=digital_edition&utm_campaign=mag_site_links)