SUNRISE – Every NHL draft pick has a support network, but for Andong Song, that group could be one billion strong some day.
The 2015 draft has largely focused on North America, what with twin terrors Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel dominating headlines, with Dylan Strome, Noah Hanifin and Mitch Marner not far behind.
But there were some excellent prospects plying their trades on the other side of the Atlantic this season and they’re ready to let their skills do the talking.
You have to hand it to Daniel Vladar: he didn’t let anything stop him from starting his career in North America early.
When the braintrust for Canada’s World Cup of Hockey team met Monday to begin the task of assembling the Canadian team for the tournament, each member of the management team was asked to present a mock roster based on the playoffs and recent World Championship. And the way GM Doug Armstrong sees it, everybody’s first list probably has the same 15 or 16 players on it.
We’re not giving anything away when we say that list almost certainly includes Carey Price in goal, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Alex Pietrangelo on defense and Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at forward.
It’s a crisp autumn morning in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the front office of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program is jammed with teenagers. Two NHL teams have sent scouts to interview the players, who are getting their schedules for the day from ace manager of communications and marketing Jake Wesolek.
It doesn’t take long before the smack talk about video games begins. The night before, I’d asked Jordan Greenway, a 6-foot-5, 223-pound battleship power forward, which member of the squad was best at NHL 15. He slyly demurred and said to ask two-way center Colin White. Now it’s time to unleash the snare. “So who did Colin say was the best?” Greenway asks in front of the whole crew. White, who admitted the night before that Greenway rules the sessions, nevertheless returns serve as everyone smiles and chuckles: “I never play, but I bet I could grind you out!”
The din grows as the teens shuffle about, until uber-skilled Jeremy Bracco spots the mom of fellow right winger Jack Roslovic entering from outside and runs over excitedly to give her a hug. Behind him is a trophy case featuring almost every championship chalice from the past six world under-18 tournaments, plus a couple from the world juniors.
These aren’t your standard goofy teenagers: they’re the best prospects in the nation. And every year a new cohort signs up for battle. In less than two decades, the NTDP has become a force, counting at least 10 NHL draft picks per year in recent times and helping Team USA go from also-ran to constant threat on the international stage.
And it all started with failure. Read more
Team USA was almost shockingly young at the world juniors in 2015, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the Americans lost to Russia in the quarterfinal, mainly due to a rash of unnecessary penalties. But the wound of that loss could become vital scar tissue for the 2016 squad.
Because USA Hockey just released its preliminary summer camp roster and it is heavy on experience.
Despite his six-foot, 183-pound frame, Mitchell Stephens answers to the nickname ‘Chubby.’ And the origin story behind the moniker is pure hockey culture, right or wrong.
It has officially been 35 years since the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in Lake Placid, N.Y., wherein an upstart squad of U.S.-born hockey players defeated a mighty Soviet Union team that was seen as gold medal favorites at the 1980 Olympics. To pay tribute to one of the most incredible Olympic sports stories and one of the most iconic hockey moments, the AAA Rochester Red Wings, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, are hosting a ‘Miracle on Ice’ night on Aug. 1.
The evening, of course, will include brand new threads for both Rochester and their opponents, the Syracuse Chiefs. Rochester, the home team for evening, will wear the classic white jerseys that the American team wore during their defeat of the Soviets, while Syracuse will suit up in the blue visitors sweaters. And what hockey-themed night would be complete without the umpires wearing referee jerseys? Read more