Rumor Roundup: Will tanking be a problem in 2014-15?

Jordan & Eric Staal (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is no fan of the current NHL draft lottery system, believing it rewards teams that perform poorly. He suggests some teams could attempt to tank the season in order to better their odds of landing the first overall pick.

Brooks wonders if the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes decide at the NHL trade deadline to trade their best player for a seventh-round pick if the league would reject such a deal. Given how lopsided that trade would be, one suspects the league would reject it based on proportionality. Read more

Canes lose Jeff Skinner to another concussion – and NHL’s cannibal mentality continues

Adam Proteau
Jeff Skinner (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

For a few years, Carolina left winger Jeff Skinner has been one of the game’s more marketable up-and-coming players – a photogenic, well-spoken young man whose on-ice skills can be a difference maker.

That is, when he’s well enough to play the game. Unfortunately for Skinner, he’s involved in a game where headshots are still far too acceptable, and athletes’ health far too negotiable. That’s one of the reasons why Skinner has lost parts of two of his four NHL seasons to concussion-related injuries – and now will miss parts of a third straight year for the same reason. The Hurricanes are poorer for it, the league is poorer for it – and Skinner is poorest for it, both now, as an athlete unable to perform, and later, as his cognitive abilities are threatened further into his lifetime.

In the two years Skinner has been healthy, he’s averaged 32 goals and nearly 59 points per season. But he lost 16 games to a head injury in his sophomore campaign, and another five games to a concussion in February of 2013. Now, he’s sidelined indefinitely with another concussion after this blatant headshot Sunday from Washington’s Matt Niskanen:

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Niskanen’s brutal elbow on Skinner is grounds for suspension

Jeff Skinner (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

As if the pre-season hadn’t been horrid enough for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Raleigh squad already lost Jordan Staal to a long-term injury when he broke his leg in an exhibition game and now there’s concern over 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, who was walloped by Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen in the opening minutes of the Canes’ final tune-up. Here’s the play in question:

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Electrifying Jeremy Bracco leads off Ryan Kennedy’s Hot List

Team USA's Jeremy Bracco (Photo courtesy of Tom Sorensen/USHL)

Welcome back to another season of The Hot List, my weekly update of who is making noise in the world of prospects. Players are eligible for the list as long as they haven’t stepped on the ice for a regular season NHL game; otherwise, they come from all different leagues and development points. Some will be on hot streaks, others will be new names you’ll want to bank in your memory. All will be potential NHLers one day. Hockey’s back, so let’s take a look at this week’s roundup.

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Carolina Hurricanes prospect scores near-impossible goal

Ryan Kennedy
Canes GM Ron Francis and Josh Wesley (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Erie Otters goaltender Devin Williams is looking for someone to blame after he was victimized by Josh Wesley, perhaps he should write a terse letter to Colin Muldoon.

See, defensemen don’t usually have moves like the ones Wesley pulled off against Erie, but there’s an explanation for that.

Muldoon was Wesley’s coach with the under-14 Carolina Jr. Hurricanes and the reason the son of retired Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Glen Wesley went from playing forward to back on the blueline. Soon after, Wesley joined the Ontario League’s Plymouth Whalers as a rearguard, but as you can see here, his offensive instincts are still pretty honed:

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Pavel Datsyuk injury in pre-season money grab a bad omen for Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Well, this is just a lovely start to the pre-season, isn’t it? They’ve barely begun the series of games that determine one or two roster spots and make the owners more money and already the body count is rising.

And we’re not talking about fourth-liners here. Pavel Datsyuk, the player the Detroit Red Wings can least afford to lose, is out at least four weeks with a second-degree separation to his right shoulder after taking a hit along the boards from Rob Scuderi of the Pittsburgh Penguins late in a game Monday night

Speaking of the Penguins, none of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Chris Kunitz is ready for action. The nature of the injuries is clouded in secrecy, but it doesn’t bode well when three players who have had all summer to rest and heal basically aren’t ready for training camp.

Add to that a broken bone in Jordan Staal’s right leg in a Carolina Hurricanes pre-season game, a broken left leg for Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers, a possible concussion for Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators, a broken nose for Darren Helm of the Red Wings and a fractured tibia for Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha and it looks as though you have a fully blown injury epidemic on your hands with two weeks still to go before the puck drops for the real games.

The Datsyuk injury, which looks as though it will keep him out of the first two weeks of the season, is disturbing. Four minutes left in a meaningless pre-season game and Datsyuk is on the ice and gets taken into the stanchion. Now the Red Wings, who face an uphill climb even with Datsyuk in the lineup, will have to try to get through the first two weeks without him. Making matters worse is the fact that the Red Wings play seven games in the first 14 days of the season.

(If I were running an NHL organization, I’d keep my star players out of these money-grab games and play them in perhaps the last one or two of the pre-season. Let the third- and fourth-line guys fill out the quota of NHL players each team must ice for these games. Sure, fans don’t get to see the stars in the exhibition games and they might grumble about that, but you’d have to think Red Wing fans would have rather seen Datsyuk suit up for the start of the season instead of playing in a meaningless game in September.)

Datsyuk has never before missed the start of the season and has, with the exception of last season, been a pretty durable player for them. Even when you factor in the fact that he missed 37 games last season, he has still played in 75 percent of the Red Wings games over the past four seasons.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland said during the team’s prospect tournament in Traverse City last week that the Red Wings will be a contending team if two things happened. The first is if Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combine for 140 games between them and the second is Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar combining for 50 goals. The third, which was unstated, is if goalie Jimmy Howard can return to the form he displayed in 2012-13, not the one he displayed in ’13-14.

A healthy Daniel Alfredsson would also help. Alfredsson has made it clear to the Red Wings that he will either play this season for Detroit or he will retire from the NHL. Out of respect for the veteran, Holland is giving Alfredsson the duration of training camp to figure out whether his wonky back will be able to handle the rigors of another season of NHL competition. If not, the Red Wings start the season without their leading scorer from 2013-14.

So if Datsyuk misses seven games, that means the most for which he and Zetterberg could combine would be 157. That doesn’t leave much room for two veterans who combined to miss 74 games last season. If that happens again, the Red Wings can forget about making the playoffs for a 24th straight season and will have to concentrate on rebuilding, not reloading, for the first time in more than two decades.

Jordan Staal suffers broken leg in pre-season game

Jordan Staal. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

If the Carolina Hurricanes are going to make the playoffs this season, a lot of things need to go just right for them. On Tuesday, things went very wrong when Jordan Staal suffered a broken leg in a pre-season game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Th injury occurred when he was hit by Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges in the third period of Buffalo’s 2-0 win. Staal left the game and was using crutches afterwards. The team said Staal will return to Raleigh to be evaluated and no timetable for recovery has yet been determined. Read more

Hurricanes owner values franchise at $420 million, would feel sorry for second Toronto team

Ron Francis with Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos.  (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

As speculation persists on where the NHL could expand or move to next, rumors of relocation have been swirling around some of the league’s southern markets. Arizona is safe at least for the next few years, but Florida became a topic when one of their owners said the “current business model is not sustainable.” And there’s even been speculation that the Carolina Hurricanes lose piles of money, putting the North Carolina franchise at risk.

On Monday came news that Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos is looking for an investor to put down money on the team and buy out his controlling interest over time. The catch is, that investor has to value the Hurricanes franchise at $420 million – Forbes values the franchise at $187 million.

From Rick Westhead at TSN: Read more