The Top 10 moments for 2014-15

Andrew Hammond  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

1. Hawks win the Stanley Cup – June 15, 2015

Thanks to the (literally) tireless efforts of Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith, the Chicago Blackhawks claimed their third Stanley Cup in six seasons, dusting off the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

Keith, who played an otherworldly average of 31 minutes per game in the post-season, scored the game-winning goal by following up his own rebound on Bolts goalie Ben Bishop. Patrick Kane, who always seems to come through in big contests, added the dagger on a beauty feed from Brad Richards.

In terms of sentiment, it was hard to beat captain Jonathan Toews passing the Cup off to Kimmo Timonen, whose career and life almost ended in the summer due to blood clots. Instead, the Finnish D-man ended his career a champion.

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Futures Mailbag: Michael Dal Colle, the realness of Auston Matthews and more

Michael Dal Colle (blue sweater) of the Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Welcome back to the Futures Mailbag, where I will answer any prospect and draft-related questions you the readers may have. If you have a query, hit me up on Twitter (@THNRyanKennedy) and use the hashtag #thnfutures to make sure I scoop it up. If you don’t see your question this week, stay tuned – there’s always some overflow. Let’s get to it:

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Futures Mailbag: Blueline prospects in Philly, Dylan Strome and more

Samuel Morin (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Welcome to my new mailbag, a spot where I will answers questions from readers who reached out to me on Twitter using the hashtag #thnfutures. The idea behind this space is to bring you info on prospects and the draft, so anything in that world is game. There was a pretty good crop of questions right off the bat, so if you don’t see yours answered this week, check back next Friday. Here we go:

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Three playoff teams who could miss in 2015-16, and three non-playoff teams who could get in

Sidney Crosby (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Parity in the modern-day NHL creates such a delicate balance between teams that one year’s powerhouse is the next year’s dud, and vice versa. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche, who went from Central Division champs to out of the playoffs, or the Calgary Flames, who went from rebuilding team to round 2 of the post-season.

In all, 2014-15 swapped Calgary, Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Washington, the New York Islanders and Ottawa into the playoffs, with Colorado, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Jose, Boston, Columbus, and Philadelphia falling out. That’s seven new teams out of 16, or 43.75 percent.

With that crazy stat in mind, which 2014-15 post-season qualifiers might slide out in 2015-16? And which teams might take their places? I’ve chosen three candidates in each category.

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Addition of Johnny Oduya gives Stars more Stanley Cup bling

Patrick Sharp (left) and Johnny Oduya (right). (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the players who finished last season for the Dallas Stars stuck out their hands, only three Stanley Cups were to be found. Two of them belonged to Tyler Seguin and Alex Goligoski, guys who played small roles in their teams winning championships.

With his moves this summer, Stars GM Jim Nill has tripled that number, with the most recent coming in the form of defenseman Johnny Oduya, a two-time Cup winner who signed a two-year deal with the Stars worth $7.5 million. Add to that Patrick Sharp’s three Cups with Chicago and Antti Niemi’s championship with Chicago in 2010, to go along with the Stanley Cup Travis Moen won with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

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Johnny Oduya signs two-year, $7.5 million deal with Dallas Stars

Jared Clinton
Johnny Oduya (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Johnny Oduya could only wait so long for the Blackhawks to clear salary cap room and, once it became evident Chicago GM Stan Bowman wouldn’t be able to, it didn’t take long for Oduya to find a new home.

Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas Stars announced they have signed the 33-year-old blueliner to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million, which includes a modified no-trade clause, according to War-On-Ice. The Stars were long-rumored to be interested in Oduya’s services, but it took two weeks before Chicago’s cap situation was such that Oduya moved on.

“Johnny is a steady, veteran presence on the blueline and he’ll complement our group nicely,” Nill said in a release. “He has achieved a great deal of success, winning the Stanley Cup twice, and his championship-mentality will be valuable in our room.” Read more

Are Bowman’s 2015-16 Blackhawks better than the Cup winners?

Trevor Daley (left) and Ryan Garbutt (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hall of Famer Steve Shutt once famously had this description of how Scotty Bowman’s players felt about him: “You hated him 364 days of the year, and on the 365th day you got your Stanley Cup ring.” Ken Dryden wrote in his book, The Game, that, “Scotty Bowman is not someone who is easy to like.” And Dino Ciccarelli had this evaluation: “He was a great coach and a rotten person.”

Chicago Blackhawks GM and Scotty’s son Stan Bowman does not generate the same kind of derision and admiration, but as a hockey executive, he is indeed proving that the apple does not fall very far from the tree. The moves he has made since the Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup, while dictated by salary cap constraints, are proving that, in many ways, the younger son has the same cold blood running through his veins when it comes to dealing with players.

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Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks still looking to clear salary after Sharp trade

Chicago Blackhawk Bryan Bickell

The Chicago Blackhawks made their much-anticipated trade of left winger Patrick Sharp on Friday, shipping him and prospect defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Trevor Daley and left winger Ryan Garbutt.

While the Blackhawks cleared Sharp’s $5.9-million annual cap hit from their books, they’re not out of cap hell yet. They took on Daley’s $3.3-million cap hit over the next two seasons, along with half of Garbutt’s $1.8-million cap hit through 2016-17. That puts the Hawks under the $71.4 million salary cap by less than $1 million.

The addition of Daley suggests the Blackhawks won’t be bringing back unrestricted free agent rearguard Johnny Oduya. CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers reports GM Stan Bowman isn’t ruling it out, claiming the situation remains fluid and “there are a lot of factors at play.” Read more