NHL zeroing in on expansion decision so stay tuned

Marc-Andre Fleury (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – The time is nigh, which means there won’t be too many more sleeps before we find out whether the NHL will expand to Sin City or Quebec City, or both, or neither, in time for the 2017-18 season.

In his pre-Stanley Cup final state of the union address, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he expects the executive committee will make an expansion recommendation to the board of governors at least a week before it meets June 22. That takes us likely to June 15. Neither Bettman nor deputy commissioner Bill Daly would say when the executive committee will meet to decide expansion, but said it will be held in early June. There is speculation that meeting could take place as early as next week.

Bettman said there will be one of three scenarios by June 22 – no expansion, expansion to one of the two cities or expansion deferred to a later time. “I am not going to handicap what’s going to happen,” Bettman said, “but when the board meets in Las Vegas on June 22, I am fairly certain that we will know more than we do today.”

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Matthews defies odds to crack Team North America lineup

Auston Matthews  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

So just how good is the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft, Auston Matthews? Well, he’s so good that apparently he can skate uphill.

When Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman, the two men most responsible for putting the North American roster for the World Cup of Hockey together, announced their initial selections for the 23-and-under team less than three months ago, Chiarelli declared that Matthews had an “uphill road” in his attempts to be on the roster. But with an impressive World Championship to his credit where he was one of the best players in the tournament, Matthews bucked the odds and will find himself part of what will easily be the most intriguing team in the tournament.

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More Patrik Laine! Finland gives us what we want with World Cup roster

Patrik Laine (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)

Given how important the youth have been to Finland this year, it’s probably not a shocker that the final seven roster spots for the nation’s World Cup of Hockey team skew young. But it is nice to see the kids rewarded.

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Sharks avoid losing prospect Sadowy for nothing, ship him to Red Wings for third-round pick

Jared Clinton
Dylan Sadowy (Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks had until June 1 to sign prospect Dylan Sadowy. If they didn’t, the 20-year-old winger was set to re-enter the upcoming draft and the Sharks would lose Sadowy, a two-time 40-goal scorer in the OHL, for nothing.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson solved that problem Thursday afternoon, however, by working out a deal with Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.

It was announced by the Red Wings Thursday afternoon that they have acquired Sadowy from the Sharks in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft, and, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Sadowy has signed an entry-level deal with Detroit. That means he won’t be re-entering the draft, and he’s officially a Red Wing. Read more

Finland’s international golden era has just begun

Finland's Jesse Puljujärvi (Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

Call him The Narrative Slayer.

When Connor McDavid charged the net for what turned out to be the game-winning goal in Canada’s 2-0 golden performance at the World Championship in Russia, the young Oilers star punctured a pretty good storyline in the making. That being, of course, that a Finland victory would have given Suomi all three major IIHF men’s titles this year.

But while Finland may have lost at the worlds, the country’s gold medals at the world juniors and world under-18s were reason enough to believe that Finland is entering a golden era of hockey.

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Memorial Cup players to watch for all 30 NHL teams

Ryan Kennedy
Ivan Provorov (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The Memorial Cup begins today in Alberta, with the hosts from Red Deer taking on the OHL champs from London. Along with the Rebels and Knights, fans will be treated to performances by the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings and QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. These teams didn’t get here by employing a bunch of scrubs, so there are many players to get excited for.

A lot of those kids have already been drafted by NHL teams and for franchises that don’t have any prospects in the tournament, there is also a raft of talent eligible for this summer’s draft in Buffalo. With that in mind, here’s my list of who to watch, no matter which NHL team you follow.

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Auston Matthews’ heroics sets up semifinal between United States and Canada at World Championship

Ian Denomme
Auston Matthews.

The No. 1 overall draft pick from 2015 will go head-to-head with the (almost certain) No. 1 pick in 2016 on Saturday. Auston Matthews helped the U.S. upset the Czech Republic on Thursday and setup a North American showdown with Connor McDavid and Team Canada.

Matthews was the hero for the U.S., scoring in regulation to tie the game, then scoring the only goal in the shootout in their 2-1 quarterfinal win. Both goals showed off his quick hands and slick moves. Here’s the shootout winner, a sneaky filthy move where he fakes the goalie then deftly goes five-hole.

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Super teen Patrik Laine hobbled in World Championship by ‘garbage play’

Patrik Laine.

To these eyes, it was difficult to determine exactly what Corey Perry’s level of intent was when he clipped Patrik Laine of Finland with his left leg when he was coming off for a line change in today’s World Championship game.

So I will defer to the observations of two former NHL players who have more than 2,000 games between them. And the fact that both Ray Ferraro and Bob Errey are analysts for the Canada-centric TSN broadcasts and lambasted Perry for his skullduggery provide further perspective on the situation.

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