If you’re an NHL GM constructing a roster from the ground up, your most difficult task is installing top-end talent. A top defense pairing, an elite goaltender, and a top line comprised of true first-liners. Plenty of teams around the league, even those who call themselves contenders, are missing one or more of these pieces. The most difficult piece to acquire? A No. 1 center. And finding a young one? If you’re not planning to pick in the top five of the draft, good luck. Read more
About a third of the way through 2013-14 and we’re starting to get a fix on what we have when it comes to this year’s rookie crop. Poolies around the world draft unproven youngsters late in hopes they scoop a nice sleeper, to varying degrees of success. In keeper leagues things are easier, as you can often afford to wait several years on a rookie, but one-year leagues need the help here and now.
Let’s take a look at the 15 best from a fantasy perspective (sorry, Morgan Rielly and Seth Jones fans) so far.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
Although in a three-way tie for second in scoring among rookies, MacKinnon will be tops in the end if he stays healthy. He’s getting his points regardless of linemates and other than a five-game slump in late October he has been steady. His ice time has been great and he should pick up the pace to finish in the 60s for points.
2. Torey Krug, Boston
Tied with MacKinnon among rookie scorers, Krug has been a savior for fantasy owners. Defensemen are so hard to acquire once the season starts, so drafting Krug late or even getting him off the wire is a fantasy coup. He’s on pace for 48 points and frankly I don’t see him deviating from that, making it one of the best seasons for a rookie defenseman in years.
Chicago fired 50 pucks on goal last night in their 4-3 loss to Dallas, but the biggest shots came courtesy Stars left winger Antoine Roussel.
The, umm, spirited 24-year-old fought Andrew Shaw, elbowed Jonathan Toews, then scored a pretty goal on a penalty shot to help his team to victory. Not exactly the Gordie Howe hat trick, but a busy, productive and effective night’s work.
But his loudest moment came when he taunted the United Center crowd following his goal, waving his arms in celebration and giving them the Hulk Hogan “I can’t hear you” gesture. Read more
For THN’s new Rookie Issue, we spoke with two rookies of the league. But they’re not players. One is a new owner and the other a new GM.
George Gosbee is one of nine co-owners of the Phoenix Coyotes, as well as its executive chairman and governor.
The Hockey News: When the ratification process ends and you’re confirmed as the Coyotes’ new owners, do you celebrate?
George Gosbee: We were more excited when we (agreed to) the deal with the NHL, because it was a long process with many ups and downs. The end of that grind was what we were looking forward to. Once that was completed, it became about hockey, which was what we always wanted.
THN: In my experience covering the Coyotes’ ownership story over the years, a number of people refer to the fact the arena isn’t in Phoenix proper as an issue. How do you see that being a factor?
GG: We’ve always been cognizant of it. One of the great things is the arena. And there’s a large metropolitan base and a huge number of Canadians there. We’re not going to be able to change the distance; we’re going to be able to do a bunch of things, maybe look at some transportation. But it’s about building a winning organization. If we’re successful, we’ll get more fans out to see other Coyotes games and not just their favorite old hometown team’s game. And we’re starting to see that.
Growing up in Canada and being part of hockey and seeing how successful the Flames have been since they came over from Atlanta, we realized that what we do as owners off the ice is a partnership with what the team does on the ice. We have to both win on that. So we have to look at a lot of revenue areas, a lot of building aspects of what we do off the ice. And I think once we do all that, we’ll see more fans out during winning seasons and losing seasons. I’m confident of that.
Want to know what keeps NHL coaches up at night? It’s simple, really: There is a minimum of 3,600 seconds in every NHL game. That’s a lot of time that things need to go your way in order to win – and a lot of time in which you can lose yourself a game.
Such was the case Tuesday night in Dallas. For the first 2,400 seconds of the game between the host Stars and the Ducks, Anaheim controlled the pace and led 2-1 as the third period began. But in a 53-second span early in the final frame of regulation time, the visitors lost their composure, surrendered three goals and essentially lost the game. (It ended in a 6-3 Stars win that ended a two-game Dallas losing streak and was only Anaheim’s seventh loss of the season.)
In today’s NHL, it doesn’t matter that the Ducks entered Tuesday’s game with a 12-0-2 record when leading after two periods, or that Dallas had a 1-6-2 mark when trailing after 40 minutes. What matters is focus – unrelenting, withering focus – and springing out to capitalize when your opponent’s focus falters.
We have a few giants in our midst and it’s nice to see the hockey world appreciate the careers of three legends, all in their final season or two. Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur define a generation of hockey excellence.
But there’s another trio of hockey personalities who are in the midst of distinguished careers that will surely take them to the No. 2, 3 and 4 positions of all-time. Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff are gradually moving up the chart of NHL coaching wins and by the time they’re ready to settle into retirement will sit next in line behind the great Scotty Bowman.
Battle of the Blades wrapped up its fourth season Sunday with former NHLer Scott Thornton skating away with the title alongside his professional figure skating partner Amanda Evora.
When the season began, I didn’t have Thornton and Evora in my personal top three. Their first skate together was mostly about lifts and lacked the creative element. But as the competition wore on, they picked up their game and were full credit for the win.
The New York Rangers seem to have overcome their poor start, but the same cannot be said for defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
The 23-year-old blueliner is still struggling under new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. With only four points in 16 games, he’s on pace for 20 points this season, well short of his career best (41) in 2011-12. Read more