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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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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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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Rumor Roundup: Semin buyout, Vanek remaining a Canadien, and the Devils’ off-season plans

Alex Semin

Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will reportedly step down at season’s end, handing the management reins to Ron Francis, the club’s current vice-president of hockey operations.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the biggest decision facing Francis is deciding whether to buy out the remaining four years and $28 million of winger Alexander Semin’s contract. The 30-year-old has had a poor showing this season, with 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games. Garrioch claims if the Hurricanes fail to buy out Semin this summer they won’t get another chance.

Garrioch appears to be referring to a compliance buyout, as this June will be the last time NHL teams can make use of that option. Such buyouts, however, only apply to players under contract on or before September 15, 2012. Semin signed his current deal last March and is therefore ineligible. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Evander Kane, Eric Staal and the struggling Canucks

Winnipeg Jets v Phoenix Coyotes

Trade rumors dogged Winnipeg Jets’ winger Evander Kane throughout this season. Speculation over his future resurfaced after he was a healthy scratch during last Saturday’s match between the Jets-Maple Leafs in Toronto for arriving late for a team function.

Kane subsequently declined to discuss the incident with the media and was evasive when asked if he wants to be traded.The Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe mused over the 22-year-old’s future in Winnipeg. While noting “to our knowledge” Kane hasn’t sought a trade, Wiebe believes that doesn’t mean Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff isn’t entertaining offers.

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Top 10 second overall picks show there’s plenty to win after losing the draft lottery

Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton celebrate a goal for the San Jose Sharks

For 14 NHL teams, next year begins now. In a little over a week, fans of the NHL’s non-playoff teams will eagerly look to the future as the league runs its draft lottery to determine the owner of this summer’s first overall draft pick. This year, unlike years past, all 14 teams will have a shot at that top slot, meaning the league’s worst franchise has a better chance to lose the lottery, too.

But despair not, Buffalo Sabres fans: as one look around the league shows, second place isn’t so bad.

This list of active second overall picks is hardly second-rate.
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Fantasy Pool Look: Goalies, who to buy and who to sell

Anton-Khudobin-and-Cam-Ward (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Many coined Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick as the “Big 3” when it comes to goaltending last summer. After all, in fantasy hockey the goaltender is the most difficult position to project, so it’s good to know there are at least three you can rely on every year to post good numbers. Do everything you can to acquire one of those three, because then you won’t have to worry about that roster spot.

Or so the theory goes.

That theory sure went out the window quickly. Rinne and Quick missed almost the entire first half, while Lundqvist probably wishes he did. This is one season in recent memory where depth goaltenders and quick thinking on the waiver wire with backup netminders saved the season for many poolies.

Let’s take a look at the biggest questions fantasy owners have about that area between the pipes for 2014-15.
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