Hurricanes’ youth movement continues as Lindholm signs two-year extension

Jared Clinton
Elias Lindholm (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

There stands to be a lot of change in Carolina over the next few seasons, but Elias Lindholm will be along for the ride thanks to a new contract extension.

The 20-year-old winger signed a two-year, $5.4 million extension Thursday that should keep him with the franchise until at least the 2017-18 season. The extension comes in the off-season following a stellar sophomore campaign in which Lindholm notched 17 goals and 39 points while playing second line minutes on a Carolina team that needed the glimmer of hope Lindholm offered.

“Elias played well last season, nearly doubling his offensive numbers from his rookie year,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis told the team’s website. “We expect he will be a very important part of the Hurricanes as he continues to develop as a professional.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Big names set to hit open market next season

Steven Stamkos (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

This summer’s pool of unrestricted free agent talent was the shallowest in recent memory, but next summer’s crop promises to be considerably deeper. Here’s a look at several NHL stars who could be available by July 1, 2016.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s assumed the Lightning will re-sign Stamkos, but it’s been over a month since his agent, Don Meehan, told TSN talks had yet to commence. Re-signing Stamkos could cost the Bolts over $10-million annually on an eight-year deal. If they can’t or won’t pay top dollar, another club will gladly do so next summer.

Both sides give the appearance a deal can be reached. However, the longer the Lightning captain is unsigned, the more speculation will grow over his future in Tampa Bay. Read more

Futures mailbag: best of the 2015 draft’s defensemen, Scott Laughton and more

Noah Hanifin (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Thanks to summer world junior camps, prospects have been in the spotlight this week and for some, that meant reinforcing decisions on where they will play next season. Calgary’s Brandon Hickey says he’s going back to Boston University, Leafs pick Jeremy Bracco confirmed his commitment to Boston College and Zach Werenski is indeed headed back to Michigan. And speaking of Werenski, he’s part of our first mailbag question this week. As always, if you have a draft or prospect-related question, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy, using the hashtag #thnfutures with your question.

Let’s get to it.

Which of the first round 2015 defensemen has the biggest upside? And who is closest to being in the lineup?

– Tomas Djupsjobacka (@tdjupsjo)

In terms of upside, I’d go with either Carolina’s Noah Hanifin or Columbus’ Zach Werenski. Both have great size and skating ability, plus they can play in all situations. If you had asked me right after the draft who was closest to being in the lineup, I would have said Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov, since he has the hockey IQ and physical edge to compete right away. But then Carolina signed Hanifin to his entry-level deal, ending his Boston College career after one stellar campaign. Perhaps he goes to the AHL this season, but given Carolina’s lack of depth on the back end, Hanifin may end up being the answer to both questions (Provorov also has more competition in Philly).

 

Very curious about your opinion on Sean Day’s development in Mississauga

– Alex Sloan (@Alex_Sloan)

Funny how that question became a flashpoint this week, what with Day missing the cut for Canada’s under-18 Ivan Hlinka squad. But I can also expand on the defenseman’s trajectory here. I think Day has been good so far in Mississauga, but this will be a huge year for him – and not just because he’s up for the draft. Conditioning was reportedly a factor in his national team cut, so that should be a priority. The Steelheads are also growing around him, so I need to see good offensive numbers, but also improvement in his own end. With his natural physical gifts, Day has great potential as an NHLer, if he can harness it and become a student of the game.

 

Which five NHL teams do you feel are in the best position when it comes to prospects and which five are in the worst position?

– Keenan Clarry (@KeenanClarry)

Here’s my best:

Edmonton – The high end of Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse vaults the Oilers to the top since McDavid is such a sure thing. I’m also a big William Lagesson fan.

Buffalo – Jack Eichel is the Sabres’ McDavid equivalent, plus you have Sam Reinhart, Justin Bailey and some nice long-term catches in Will Borgen and Christopher Brown.

Winnipeg – The deepest pool. Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Connor Hellebuyck, Eric Comrie, Kyle Connor, Erik Foley…it’s almost unfair at this point.

Arizona – Another great assembly with Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, Max Letunov, Brendan Perlini and Nick Merkley,

Anaheim – Already a great team, the Ducks have reinforcements ready in Nick Ritchie, Nic Kerdiles, Shea Theodore and Kevin Roy, plus longer-term gems such as Julius Nattinen and Jacob Larsson.

And my worst, with the caveat that some of these teams are in a win-now window and have therefore sacrificed prospects:

San Jose – Timo Meier and Nikolay Goldobin are solid, but not much depth behind them.

Pittsburgh – Derrick Pouliot used to be surrounded; now he’s one of the last elite prospects in the pipeline.

New Jersey – Pavel Zacha will help, but there isn’t much more scoring coming otherwise.

Toronto – Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington have all really helped the Leafs’ outlook recently in this category, but they were thin before.

New York Rangers – Just don’t have the critical mass of prospects since they’re in their Stanley Cup window right now. Adam Tambellini and Pavel Buchnevich are good, though.

 

It’s been three years since he was drafted, but what can we expect from Scott Laughton?

– Vincent Mongrain (@vincentM10)

If the Flyers move out Vincent Lecavalier, Laughton is in a great position to make an impact on Philadelphia’s third line – which may not sound impressive for a first-rounder, but it’s a good role because Laughton can handle the responsibility. With Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier ahead of him, Laughton won’t be getting the big assignments in the early parts of his career anyway, but he can be a solid contributor and a two-way player.

 

Five players who could have bounce back seasons in 2015-16

Kari Lehtonen (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Thomas Vanek hit the free agent market following the 2013-14 season, there was little doubt he was going to end up with the Minnesota Wild, but the club was hoping for a better campaign than what they got from the 31-year-old left winger.

Sure, Vanek turned in 21 goals and 52 points in 80 games with the Wild this past season, but at a $6.5 million salary, that wasn’t quite what Minnesota was looking for. The 52-point total was the second-lowest of Vanek’s career and his 21 goals were the fewest he had scored in a non-lockout year.

In the post-season, Vanek’s troubles continued, as he stumbled to four points — all assists — in 10 games. He didn’t score once for the Wild in the playoffs and, in a second-round series against Chicago that had three one-goal games, Minnesota desperately could have used Vanek finding the back of the net.

But there’s hope for next season. Vanek recently underwent surgery to repair two hernias in his left groin and he said he, “feels great,” and should be ready for training camp, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo. If he can bounce back, there’s hope that Vanek’s three-year, $19.5 million deal can start to look like a good one.

Vanek won’t be the only player looking to recover from a poor season, however. Read more

Memorial Cup hosts land Michael Spacek, chase Brandon Hickey

Michael Spacek (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The way Red Deer finished the 2014-15 campaign – a five-game, first-round loss to Medicine Hat – you’d be forgiven for wondering how they would turn things around in time to be tough hosts of the Memorial Cup this year. But in a flash of activity, GM and coach Brent Sutter has begun to shake the foundations.

Read more

Eddie Lack’s new Hurricanes gear is a thing of beauty

Jared Clinton
Eddie Lack revealed his pads for 2015-16 on his Instagram account. via Instagram)

Eddie Lack has worn some amazing equipment throughout his career, but it’s hard to say if any of his gear has looked as clean or as crisp as his brand new set for his 2015-16 campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes.

In a photo posted by Lack to his Instagram page – which he runs under his nickname, EddieTheStork – he showed off the new gear. The pads feature the Hurricanes logo split across the left and right pad, which is something Lack has previously done while playing for the Vancouver Canucks and for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Trading Sedins would spark Vancouver rebuild

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin  (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

NBC Sports’ Jason Brough notes Daniel and Henrik Sedin were recently asked by a Swedish newspaper if they felt they might be traded. The twins replied they had no intention of finishing their NHL careers with another team, even if it meant another shot at a Stanley Cup.

Brough observes, however, the Sedins didn’t outright reject the notion of waiving their no-movement clauses by the final season (2017-18) of their contracts. Should the Canucks miss the 2016 playoffs or become a first-round casualty again, Brough suspects calls for a major rebuild in Vancouver could increase.

Such a rebuild would mean shipping out the Sedins. Their no-movement clauses, however, aren’t the only impediment. It’s no stretch of the imagination to assume the twins will only accept a deal in which they’re moved together to the same team. With both earning $7-million per season, takers for their combined $14-million annual salaries could be scarce. That especially if the salary cap doesn’t significantly increase for 2016-17. Read more