Rumor Roundup: Philadelphia Flyers shopping for blueline beast?

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The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a scare last week when defenseman Braydon Coburn was sidelined by a lower-body injury. It raised speculation they might go shopping for blueline help if the injury was long term, but it appears he could return to action in a matter of days, rather than weeks.

For a defense corps still lacking a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury three years ago, and with Kimmo Timonen sidelined with career-threatening blood clots, the possibility of losing Coburn long term was a genuine cause for concern. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will the Sabres part with Tyler Myers?

Tyler Myers

Buffalo Sabres defenceman Tyler Myers remains a fixture in the NHL’s early-season rumor mill. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Myers’ name is “out there,” though the Sabres are downplaying it. Dreger suggests moving the 6-foot-8, 227-pounder blueliner could improve the Sabres’ chances in the 2015 NHL draft. He claims the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks expressed interest in the big defenceman.

Teams hoping to land Myers, however, should be prepared to pay a steep price. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims the Detroit Red Wings made inquiries this summer, but the talks ended when the Sabres asked for prospect forward Anthony Mantha.

Myers has struggled since his Calder Trophy-winning debut in 2009-10, but he’s only 24 and still has sufficient time to blossom into a blueline star, especially with a talent-laden club. While Sabres management is willing to listen to offers for Myers, it doesn’t mean they’re keen to move him.

Anyone can be dealt for the right price, but by demanding Mantha as part of the return from the Red Wings, it’s clear the Sabres won’t just give him away, even to improve their opportunities to land the first overall pick in the 2015 draft. If Myers shows improvement this season, don’t be surprised if the Sabres retain him.
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Rumor Roundup: Leafs not shopping Kadri, but they’ll never say never

The Leafs believe Nazem Kadri can be a big part of their future, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't listen if they received a tempting offer. (Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner were subjects of trade speculation throughout last season. In a recent interview with the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger, Leafs GM Dave Nonis claims he never actively shopped the pair.

Nonis did say if the right deal came along for a player like Kadri he would trade him. “But there’s a big difference between being willing to trade a player and trying to trade a player. We were never trying to trade Jake or Naz,” he said. Nonis said the Leafs re-signed Gardiner to a long-term deal this summer because they believe in him, and Nonis expects Kadri will also be a special player.

Given the rumors flying around last season about Kadri and Gardiner, Nonis was probably getting calls from rival clubs expressing interest in the pair.  If the Leafs struggle again this season, or if Kadri and/or Gardiner fail to improve as projected, the speculation could resurface, but Nonis made it very clear last season he expected to get a comparable young player in return for either guy.

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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

How can the Oilers possibly get out of the mud with this group of centers?

Ken Campbell
Leon Draisaitl (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers enter this season with five centers who have combined for 814 career NHL games and a stats line that reads 95-203-298. For those of you keeping score at home, there are 13 centers in the league who have played more career games all by themselves. A total of 57 have more career goals, 37 have more assists and 43 have accumulated more points.

Here’s how bad it is. Manny Malhotra, who has spent his career as a checking center and missed almost a full season with an eye injury, is 20 career goals ahead of Edmonton’s centers and trails them in points by just seven. Read more

Edmonton loses a prospect while Dallas beats the system

Dallas pick Julius Honka (LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Dallas Stars assigned offensive defenseman Julius Honka to the American League’s Texas Stars. As an 18-year-old experiencing his first NHL training camp, it was no surprise that the Finnish blueliner wouldn’t make the cut. What surprised many observers was that Dallas was allowed to assign Honka to the AHL in the first place.

After all, Honka played in the Western League for Swift Current last season and conventional wisdom held that players drafted out of the CHL who still had major junior eligibility (such as Honka) had to be returned to junior; they couldn’t go to the AHL.

This is the rule that has vexed sometimes-Buffalo Sabre Mikhail Grigorenko for a couple years now, since he was drafted out of the Quebec League. But the Stars were confronted with a glitch in the system.

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Is it fair to compare the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl to the Kings’ Anze Kopitar?

Ryan Kennedy
Leon Draisaitl (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Player comparisons are fraught with peril, especially when teenagers who have yet to see their first NHL shifts are part of the equation. On top of the age gap, there’s also a hype factor because it’s much more fun to say a smaller skilled player is the next Patrick Kane versus the next Steve Sullivan or David Desharnais, no matter which is most accurate. But when scouts saw Leon Draisaitl play for the Western League’s Prince Albert Raiders this past season, names such as Joe Thornton and Anze Kopitar came up. Keep the latter in mind, because there’s more than just one similarity between the stupendous Los Angeles Kings pivot and the growing Raiders teenager.

When the Edmonton Oilers tabbed Draisaitl with the third selection overall at the draft, they made him the highest German pick ever. Not that it was a long list, but Germany has produced a decent amount of NHLers, from Marcel Goc (the former record holder, who went 20th in 2001) to Christian Ehrhoff and Jochen Hecht. But none of those players lacerated the landschaft the way Draisaitl did. As a 15-year-old in Germany, he put up a staggering 97 goals and 192 points in (wait for it) just 29 games. He kept the same six-points-per-game pace up in the playoffs. And keep in mind, that’s not as fun as it sounds when you’re serious about your sport.

“It was never easy,” Draisaitl says. “It’s not easy to get ready for those kinds of games when you know you’re going to score a lot of goals. It’s not easy to concentrate when you know it will be a high-scoring game. I just wanted to get better every game and work hard.”
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Top 10 Art Ross Trophy candidates for 2014-15

John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

In the 21 seasons between 1980-81 and 2000-01, a total of three players won the NHL scoring championship. Perhaps you’ve heard of them – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

In the 12 seasons since then, nine players have won it and nobody has taken home the Art Ross Trophy in successive seasons. We at thn.com predict that trend to continue. And if our crystal ball isn’t defective, there will be another first-time winner this season.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 choices for the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15, in descending order. Read more