Admittedly, I don’t smoke pot and I never have. But I listen to a lot of music made by marijuana enthusiasts and since today is 4/20, I thought it would be fun to come up with the best hockey jerseys for potheads.
We did have the idea of posting the article at 4:20 Eastern time, but then thought folks should have some time to read before the mythical hour was upon them. We also figured we shouldn’t post it in the morning because none of the target audience would be awake yet.
So let’s get to it now.
It’s heartache in Buffalo and jubilation in Edmonton as for the fourth time in six drafts, the Oilers will pick first overall. This time, they’ll get a chance to draft generational talent Connor McDavid. And if they have any sense at all, they will swing some big deals either before or after the draft.
Spoiler alert: The Buffalo Sabres will win tonight’s NHL draft lottery with the numbers 11, 5, 6 and 7. Your trusty correspondent knows this because he went to this really cool website that simulates the NHL draft lottery and it told him so.
Then he did it 99 more times because, like a certain potato chip, you can’t do it only once. The website, http://nhllotterysimulator.com/#/official, took on a new life on Friday when the NHL made public the lottery number combinations for each of the 14 teams in the event. Suddenly, fans everywhere could, with the click of a keyboard, determine where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will end up next season. Read more
Heading into the off-season, Dallas Stars management face a difficult decision regarding the state of their goaltending. Depth between the pipes was a serious issue, as the Stars failed to find a suitable backup for struggling starter Kari Lehtonen. As a result, they finished the season 27th in goals against.
In a recent chat with Stars fans, the Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News speculated over Lehtonen’s future. While acknowledging the 31-year-old is a “35-win, .917 goalie” who would be difficult to part with, Heika is wavering on whether Lehtonen can regain his form with the Stars.
Heika’s concern is understandable. While Lehtonen won 34 games for the Stars, his goals-against average (2.94) and save percentage (.903) was among the worst for NHL starting goalies. It didn’t help that Lehtonen’s backups (Jhonas Enroth, Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas) fared little better, though Enroth improved in his final games of the season.
Perhaps Lehtonen would benefit from a fresh start, but moving him won’t be easy. In addition to his woeful stats, he’s got three years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. He also has a no-trade clause, though that becomes a limited one starting in 2015-16. Heika wonders if the Detroit Red Wings would be interested in a swap of Jimmy Howard or if Carolina would want to trade Cam Ward straight up for Lehtonen. Read more
It’s amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son’s adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel.
(And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.)
The NHL’s draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid’s most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here’s how it works.
The Czech Republic is all set to host the 2015 World Championship later this month, but what should be a happy time in the hockey nation has been overshadowed by a strange allegation involving national team coach Vladimir Ruzicka.
The Edmonton Oilers aren’t ready to give up on Nail Yakupov just yet. The club put their good faith in the 2012 draft’s first overall selection on display Monday afternoon inking Yakupov to a two-year, $5 million extension.
In 81 games this season, the 21-year-old scored 14 goals and 33 points on an Oilers team that once again sunk to the bottom of the standings. While he has had his detractors since entering the league as an 18-year-old, Yakupov showed some promise in his second 82-game campaign.
Yakupov’s deal, a bridge contract that will keep him locked up until the culmination of Edmonton’s 2016-17 season, gives the Oilers the chance to continue to watch over his development before deciding whether or not they want to buy in long-term. And, should Yakupov break out in the next two seasons, it will allow Edmonton to have a better sense of what their financial situation looks like while still retaining rights to Yakupov as a restricted free agent. Read more
Watching the NHL’s action play out Thursday night was kind of like covering a political election and seeing the polls come in and herald a new leader for a new era. In one polling station, you had the Boston Bruins – the league’s top regular-season team last year – falling to the Florida Panthers and putting their playoff fate in the hands of the surging Ottawa Senators and wobbly Pittsburgh Penguins (who, like the Bruins, won a Stanley Cup not too long ago); In another station, you saw the Calgary Flames hold off the desperate Los Angeles Kings and register a 3-1 win, eliminating the defending Cup champions from the post-season and securing a playoff berth for the Winnipeg Jets.
Change was everywhere, and more change could be coming. Depending on what happens Friday and Saturday, the Eastern Conference playoff picture could have three teams (the Sens, Capitals and Islanders) who weren’t in the 2014 post-season, and the Western Conference will have four teams (Vancouver, Nashville, Calgary and Winnipeg) in this year’s playoffs who weren’t there last year. A 43.75 percent playoff turnover rate is one thing, but it’s not just the fact there are potentially seven new post-season teams this year that’s so intriguing; it’s the great distance teams are falling that has NHL executives clenching their teeth and always worrying about what’s ahead. Read more