Rumor Roundup: McDavid hopefuls could thin out roster in hopes of landing star

Connor McDavid (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The floundering Edmonton Oilers appear the favorites to win the 2015 NHL draft lottery and select OHL scoring sensation Connor McDavid as the first-overall pick. However, they could soon have some competition in the McDavid sweepstakes.

Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer notes the Carolina Hurricanes, basement dwellers of the Eastern Conference, lack the talent to compete with the league’s better teams. The Hurricanes last made the playoffs in 2009, and DeCock believes it’s time for a major roster overhaul, which includes improving their chances of landing McDavid. Read more

Don’t look now, but the Buffalo Sabres are in the playoff hunt

Adam Proteau
Jhonas Enroth and Brian Gionta (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

After their 18th game of the season, the Buffalo Sabres had a 3-13-2 record and were being talked about the way you talk about that cousin nobody in your family likes to talk about: in hushed tones, with faint hope that things will turn around for them.

One month later – and after Monday’s 5-4 shootout win over the division rival Senators – they’re riding a four-game win streak and a six-game home win streak, their longest since they won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2006-07. Their record in that time is 10-3-0, and they’re only two standings points behind the Sens, four points behind the Bruins, and four points out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

That’s correct. The Sabres could make the playoffs this season. This may give you the distinct sensation of being in a dreamlike state, but this is in fact occurring in real life. Read more

Reimer steals win for Leafs; where does he rank on list of goalies available via trade?

James Reimer (Getty Images)

Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer has lost the starter’s job to Jonathan Bernier, but despite not starting since Nov. 18, he stopped 41 of 42 shots Wednesday to steal two points in a 2-1 shootout win over Detroit:

That won’t change his status with the Buds, who are committed to Bernier for now and the future, and Reimer is well-aware his best chance to start on a regular basis again lies outside Toronto. But where does Reimer rank among goalies who are or might be available on the market between now and the March 2 trade deadline? Let’s have a look at who else is out there:

– Carolina’s Cam Ward has a winning pedigree, but the 30-year-old’s stock has plummeted in recent years and he still has another season left on his contract at a $6.3 million salary cap hit. He’s played decently at times, but that salary alone will make teams in need of netminding hesitant to take a chance on him when there are cheaper options available.

Read more

Cam Ward robs Blake Comeau with reach back stick save

Jared Clinton
Wardedit

Coming off a recent hat trick, you wouldn’t be wrong if you were to say that Blake Comeau had a hot hand. On Friday night, however, Cam Ward showed Comeau something of his own.

Midway through the first period with the score tied, Kris Letang cycled the puck back into the corner to Evgeni Malkin. In seconds the puck was off the stick of Malkin and deftly moved on to Comeau, who faked a forehand shot, swooped it to his backhand, and went to lift it into the yawning cage. Ward had a different idea: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blueliners plentiful in upcoming UFA crop

Marc Staal (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

ESPN.com’s Craig Custance recently listed his top-20 NHL unrestricted free agents for 2015. What’s notable about Custance’s list, apart from the lack of genuine superstar talent in next summer’s UFA market, is that it’s dominated by defensemen.

The notables include Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin, Boston’s Adam McQuaid, Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya, Pittsburgh’s Christian Ehrhoff and Paul Martin, Toronto’s Cody Franson,Washington’s Mike Green, the Rangers’ Marc Staal and the Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk. Read more

Roberto Luongo leaves game with injury; Panthers can’t afford to be without him for long

Adam Proteau
Roberto Luongo (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers are off to a decent start this season in large part thanks to the play of goalie Roberto Luongo. So you can’t fault their fans for getting worried when Luongo left Florida’s game Wednesday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes with an upper body injury. Without Luongo the rest of the way, the Panthers’ playoff chances are toast.

Luongo makes a brilliant save on the play that apparently injures him, stopping Hurricanes center Victor Rask midway through the second period and with the Panthers leading 1-0:
Read more

Blizzards and boxing: postponed games throughout the NHL’s history

SnowBuffalo

Inclement weather has led to the cancellation of the Buffalo Sabres home contest against the New York Rangers on Friday, turning a four game NHL slate into three. It’s not the first postponement the NHL has had, and it certainly won’t be the last.

With over five feet of snow falling earlier this week, it took few by surprise that Friday’s game was called off and rescheduled for Feb. 20. Even the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who wouldn’t have played at home until Sunday, will be taking their game to Detroit. Whether it be a terrible tragedy or something as trivial as a boxing match, postponements have halted league play several times. Read more

The top 10 schools that should join Arizona State in going D1

Penn State has been an early D1 success (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)

Ever since Arizona State announced that its successful ACHA club team would be making the leap to Division 1 hockey, coach Greg Powers has been fighting a war against his inbox. See, every time the Sun Devils bench boss finishes reading an email, five or six more pop up. Powers has received about 600 emails in the past day from potential recruits, family advisors (ie agents) and other ACHA coaches who want to know how his school did it.

“We expected it was going to be big news,” Powers said. “I’ve been pushing Arizona State as the most unique college hockey experience in the country for four years.”

Arizona State has national name recognition thanks to it affiliation in other sports with the Pac-12 conference, it’s a huge school (80,000 students) and it has that great Southwestern climate to boast. The Sun Devils also had a nice model in Penn State, a similar school (minus the weather) that went from the ACHA to Division 1 just a few years ago and is already thriving in the newly-formed Big Ten conference.

“Penn State is awesome,” Powers said. “Their blueprint for success has worked. It’s real, you can do it. We did it.”

In fact, when the Nittany Lions were in their transition season, they hosted Powers’ Arizona State team and the Sun Devils came away with a win. The victory put the school on the map and that’s when the rumblings began in the greater Phoenix area.

So if other club-level schools are calling Powers, we may not be done yet with college expansion in the near future. But which schools would bring the most buzz with them? Here’s a top 10 based on national prominence, geographical uniqueness (so if your state already has a team, too bad) and conference links, if any. As a bonus, I’ve included young local players from each area.

Read more