(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)
The Bakersfield Condors have lived up to their billing as one of the most fun teams in all of professional hockey over the past few seasons, but the on-ice product hasn’t exactly been as successful. That could all change with 2015-16’s jump to the AHL, however.
In the four years prior to 2015-16, the Condors were an ECHL club of the same name and only made the playoffs once in the past four campaigns — albeit that was a run to the third round of the post-season. Only once have they eclipsed the 60-point plateau. But they’ve never ceased to be entertaining.
For 2015-16, the year the team becomes the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors thanks to the league’s shift to the West Coast, things look promising. Bakersfield is inheriting an Oklahoma City Barons club that has made the post-season in each of the past five seasons and hasn’t seen many major changes to the roster this off-season.
It’s gotta be a fun time to be an Edmonton Oilers fan. I mean, not 1980s fun, but still pretty good. Bob Nicholson, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan have brought respectability back to the suits section, while a certain No. 1 draft pick hasn’t even made his highly-anticipated debut yet. Connor McDavid is in Toronto right now at the annual BioSteel summer training camp, run by guru Matt Nichol. Taylor Hall is also at the camp and the two got to hit the ice together on Monday for drills and scrimmage action.
So here’s a delightful game if you’re an Edmonton fan: guess which one of the No. 1 draft picks said the following:
While there’s no award given for finishing as the best Canadian team in the NHL, it’s always a point of pride for the seven clubs north of the border.
In 2014-15, the Montreal Canadiens were practically carried by the incredible play of Carey Price, finishing atop the Atlantic Division and just three points back of capturing the Presidents’ Trophy. In addition to leading the charge in the Atlantic, though, the Canadiens also ended the campaign as the best Canadian club in the league — and, it just so happened, as the Canadian team with the best shot at capturing Canada’s first Stanley Cup since 1993.
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.
Following one season away from the game, Ryan Smyth is ready to return to the NHL. But don’t expect him to be strapping on the blades.
In an interview with the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, Smyth, 39, said that he’s ready to be involved with hockey again, but he’s unsure how exactly he’ll fit in. One thing is for sure, though: he’d love to make his return as a member of the Oilers organization.
“I would like to sit down with (Oilers Entertainment Group chief executive officer) Bob Nicholson and see what they’re thinking,” Smyth told Matheson. “I want to be involved in hockey but I don’t know in what capacity.” Read more
Nothing puts Cam Talbot’s new life in a nutshell like the simple act of trying to speak with him.
He’s easy enough to find at Smashfest, Dominic Moore’s charity ping-pong tournament. Talbot, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, towers over most of the NHL players, journalists and fans in attendance. He’s a game interview subject, too, polite as can be and suggesting we find a quieter part of the building to hear each other better.
Every step Talbot takes, however, he’s mobbed. Fans cling to each of his appendages, begging for photo ops, and he obliges each with a smile. Every time it appears he’s home free, three more people grab him.
He apologizes, but I just shake my head.
“Don’t worry about it. Welcome to life on a Canadian team.”
Last summer, there was interest in Lecavalier from the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, prompting speculation Hextall might find a taker this year. However, the combination of Lecavalier’s ongoing decline and his $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2017-18 makes him a tough sell, even to clubs which have the cap space to absorb. it.
Panaccio reports Hextall was hoping interest in Lecavalier might increase after the Flyers paid his $2-million signing bonus on July 1, but received no offers. Without freeing up cap space, Hextall could find it difficult promoting a promising defensemen next summer. Read more
Portzline suggests a deal between the Blue Jackets and the 33-year-old Ehrhoff is possible, provided the latter remains on the free-agent market long enough to drive down his asking price. Despite missing 33 games last season due to head injuries, the puck-moving rearguard could help the Blue Jacket’s power play.
The Jackets only have around $3.6 million in cap space for 2015-16, which Portzline believes is why they’re willing to be patient in their dealings with Ehrhoff. He also notes several other defensemen, including Andrej Meszaros, Cody Franson and Marek Zidlicky are available, but hasn’t yet confirmed if the Jackets are interested in them. Read more