Five low-risk, high-reward free agents still on the market

Jared Clinton
Eric Fehr. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

If there’s anything the salary cap has made teams focus on, it’s the value of a dollar. So, when it comes to free agency, after the big fish are gone the league’s 30 GMs will do whatever it takes to find the most cost-effective players on the market.

After July 1, the biggest names were already gone, as defenseman Mike Green signed with Detroit, Matt Beleskey found himself a deal in Boston and Justin Williams inked a contract with Washington. Even the second-tier players, names such as Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Daniel Winnik, made their way to new destinations on the opening day of free agency.

This is where things get tricky, though, as the many of the sure-things are gone and GMs are looking to fill out their rosters with the best role players available at contracts that fit. For teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, there’s not much (or any) wiggle room, whereas budget teams like the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes aren’t going to be overpaying anybody. So, if they want to stay competitive, where can they look for help?

Here are five free agents that are low-risk, high-reward players that can be cost-effective this upcoming season: Read more

The 2015 Hockey News Awards: (Insert Carey Price pun here)

Matt Larkin
Carey Price. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

It’s NHL awards season, and we at The Hockey News want to join the party…with a twist.

We’ve voted on similar honors to what the NHL hands out, from the most valuable player to the best goaltender. We’ve renamed the (virtual) hardware, though, and we’ve expanded the trophy case. Hate it when offensive defensemen win the Norris despite mediocre shutdown skills? No problem. We’ve given defensive D-men their own category. Same goes for the MVP-versus-best-player debate. All that and a few other custom categories highlight the 2015 THN awards.

Our system gives five points for a first-place vote, three for second place and one for third place. We only factor in regular-season play. Enjoy, and share your agreements and disagreements in the comment section.

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Top 5 NHL stars-turned-coaches

Larry Robinson (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Members of the NHL’s coaching community come from a wide variety of backgrounds – some, like Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, have degrees in social work; others, like Dallas’ Lindy Ruff, are hockey lifers with a background as a worker bee NHLer – but, for the most part, very few of the game’s elite stars have found success as bench bosses. The reasons for it are complex, but by-and-large, the best of the best usually prefer to spend their time away from the type of high-pressure environment occupied by a coach in hockey’s top league. And that’s why news the Red Wings were close to naming Hockey-Hall-of-Famer Chris Chelios as an assistant to new head coach Jeff Blashill is interesting: you rarely see a former player of his calibre at ice level without his equipment on.

Who are the best modern-era players who have evolved into NHL coaches or assistant coaches? Here are the Top 5:

5. Adam Oates. Like the other players who made this list, Oates is a Hall-of-Famer who amassed 1,420 points in 1,337 regular-season games and is regarded as one of the better playmakers in league history. He began his post-career coaching days as an assistant in Tampa Bay and then New Jersey, before the Capitals made him their head coach in June of 2012. And although he failed to make the playoffs in two years guiding the Capitals before he was fired at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Oates quickly returned behind the bench with the Devils as a “co-coach” alongside Scott Stevens midway through this past year. He’ll likely get another shot, at least, as an assistant, with another NHL franchise. Read more

The 10 greatest photos from the Blackhawks’ 2014-15 Stanley Cup victory

Jared Clinton
The Chicago Blackhawks take a team photo following their 2014-15 Stanley Cup victory. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The Stanley Cup final – and the entire sport of hockey, for that matter – gives birth to spectacular images every single season. The 2014-15 Stanley Cup final was no different, either, and for the third time in six seasons, the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are the focus of some incredible photography.

Going through the photos from Chicago’s Game 6 victory, one gets a sense of the game’s biggest moments and the emotion captured is spectacular. And the post-victory celebration, with a number of Blackhawks winning their first career Stanley Cups, had more than its fair share of picture-perfect moments.

While it’s not easy to limit the greatest images of Game 6 to a mere 10 of what was thousands of photographs, the best photos tell the story of a game, and series, that was an absolute treat to behold: Read more

Five players who are top buyout candidates this summer

Vincent Lecavalier

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray made headlines Thursday afternoon when he said the team has considered buying out the contract of 25-year-old winger Cody Hodgson.

Hodgson signed a six-year contract in September 2011 valued at an average annual salary of $4.25 million, but his production slipped in a big way this past season as he managed just six goals and 13 points in 78 games. Hodgson, who was drafted 10th overall by the Canucks in 2008, hasn’t quite panned out to be the big star the Sabres were hoping for when they acquired him from Vancouver at the 2011-12 trade deadline.

While he did manage consecutive good in 2012-13 and 2013-14, including scoring a career high 20 goals and 44 points in the latter, the drop in play was cause for his name to be mentioned in buyout talks during the season. With Hodgson currently working out in Sweden with a skating coach, according to Murray, if he comes into training camp and his play doesn’t please the staff, it’s possible he’s a late addition to the free agent pool.

Hodgson isn’t the only player who could be headed for a buyout this summer, and here are five other notable players who could be getting paid by two clubs next season: Read more

Ryan Kennedy’s Prospect of the Year for all 30 NHL teams

Nikolaj Ehlers (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Prospects are the lifeblood of the NHL, especially in an era where free agency is dying thanks to talent retention of top stars. But who really stood out this season? Welcome to the first-ever Prospect of the Year awards.

To qualify, a player must still have Calder Trophy eligibility for next season, so excellent youngsters like Detroit’s Teemu Pulkkinen or Boston’s David Pastrnak don’t count. The winners below have impressed me with what they accomplished at their particular level of development – otherwise, it would just be a list of older prospects from the AHL who are on the cusp of NHL jobs.

Let’s do this:

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Five things to watch as Blackhawks, Lightning battle in Game 4

Steven Stamkos (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

By now, you’ve likely heard the odds that a team winning Game 3 in a 1-1 Stanley Cup final series goes on to win the Cup. And if you haven’t, they don’t look good for the Blackhawks, as the team losing Game 3 has only come back to win the series five times in 26 tries.

Here’s the thing, though: one of those five teams was the Chicago Blackhawks just two years ago against the Boston Bruins. What’s different, however, is that series against Boston didn’t have Chicago scrambling for the split on home ice. Tonight, in Game 4, that’s exactly what the Blackhawks will have to do: pick up a victory to make this series 2-2 going back to Tampa Bay. If not, it could be lights out much sooner than most expected.

As coaches will say, however, a series such as this has to be taken one game at a time. Tonight, for both the Lightning and Blackhawks, that will be exactly the case. Winning Game 4 would put Tampa Bay in complete control of their fate, while a Chicago victory would make this series as tight as the play on ice has been since the opening puck drop of Game 1.

Heading into Game 4, there’s a lot to focus on, but here are the five big things to keep an eye on: Read more

Familiar faces top list of Hawks’ frontrunners for Conn Smythe honor

Duncan Keith (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blackhawks beat the Ducks 5-3 in Game 7 Saturday to move on to the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay, and if they manage to beat the Lightning in the fourth round, Chicago will have more than one player worthy of being named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Here are the Hawks’ top three Conn Smythe candidates through the Western Conference Final: Read more