Fantasy Pool Look: Kings, Canadiens and Lightning off-season looks

Los Angeles Kings

It’s the 12th annual off-season look at each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. This week we take a look at the Kings, the Habs and the Lightning.

Los Angeles Kings
Gone – Willie Mitchell, Linden Vey, Colin Fraser

Incoming – Adam Cracknell

Ready for full time - Tanner Pearson is still eligible as a rookie, just sliding under the wire with 25 games played last season. He made it quite clear in the post-season that he belongs in the NHL for good and in fact played very well as part of “That 70s Line” with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. There isn’t any reason why that line will be broken up in the season ahead, which makes Pearson a dark horse for 45 or 50 points if all three of them remain healthy. Read more

Five reasons to be excited about another outdoor NHL game in California

Adam Proteau
Dodger Stadium (Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL announced Wednesday it will stage another California outdoor game – this one Feb. 21, 2015 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara between the host Sharks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Here are five reasons to be excited about the event:

5. Outdoor games will be more of a novelty this year. Last year the NHL staged six outdoor games – in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Vancouver, and two in New York City – but NHL brass has said there will be fewer outdoor games this season. So there will be a fresher feel to this one.

4. It’s California outdoor hockey – who knows what can happen? Everything went off without a hitch when the Kings hosted the first NHL California outdoor game in history last season and L.A. lost to the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. But Mother Nature can always be a challenge – and despite the savvy of NHL ice guru Dan Craig, the elements could be an issue. The league has had great luck with weather thus far in its outdoor games, but sooner or later… Read more

Rumor Roundup: The Los Angeles Kings’ Justin Williams dilemma

Justin Williams

NBC Sports’ Joe Yerdon speculates the Los Angeles Kings could be in an awkward situation this season with winger Justin Williams, whose clutch play in the 2014 playoffs earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as post-season MVP.

Williams, who turns 33 in October, is entering the final season of his contract at a cap hit of $3.65 million. The Kings have more than $59 million invested in their roster for 2015-16 and have several young players – including promising forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson – due to become restricted free agents.

With the salary cap expected to rise significantly next season, Yerdon doubts the Kings will have difficulty re-signing their free agents, but he feels retaining Williams could stunt the development of one of those young forwards. If the Kings believe it’s time to promote Toffoli, Yerdon says they could either bid Williams farewell or try to find a way to retain the veteran winger while promoting Toffoli. Read more

Logan Couture: Kings loss still hurts, Sharks don’t care about analytics

Ryan Kennedy
Logan-Couture

Logan Couture is a good sport, but as he helped raise money for the Smashfest charitable event in Toronto last week, you could tell there’s a weariness surrounding him these days when the press is around. That’s because he knows there will inevitably be questions about his team’s collapse against Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs, when San Jose could not close out a 3-0 series lead. The Kings would go on to win four straight, of course, and ultimately the Stanley Cup.

“You think about how much it hurts,” he said. “It’s sad. The feelings aren’t gonna go away, probably ever. It’s something that sticks with you a long time. It should be motivation for our team.”

Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 24: Los Angeles Kings

Adam Proteau
KINGSlogo (via sportslogos.net)

The Los Angeles Kings may have won two of the past three Stanley Cup championships, but in THN’s current NHL logo ranking contest, they’re not nearly as much of a mover-and-shaker. Our in-house panel of judges ranked L.A.’s current logo 24th overall.

The Kings’ straight-ahead approach to this incarnation of their logo – featuring the initials of the city above the crown that in some form has been a part of every logo since the organization’s inception in 1967 – isn’t especially creative or eye-catching. Sure, it’s better than some of their more daring fashion experiments, but that’s damning with faint praise.

Maybe you think you could improve on the Kings’ current logo. If so, submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com – and once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE KINGS LOGO

When the Kings debuted in the 1967-68 season, they wore purple jerseys at home and gold on the road. The colors were chosen by team owner and expat Canadian Jack Kent Cooke, and represented royalty – and to match nicely with the color scheme of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The crown logo that appeared on the jersey differed from the primary logo.

After eight seasons, the Kings changed logos for the first time. The team added horizontal lines around the name to provide a sense of speed, and kept their second logo for eight years (while also adding purple pants after spending their initial seasons wearing gold pants).

In 1988, the Kings’ logo changed drastically. Gone was the purple and gold, replaced by a black-and-silver version of their previous logo. The change coincided with the acquisition of NHL icon Wayne Gretzky, and their new colors were a match with a different L.A. team – the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders (who have since relocated back to their original home in Oakland). Because there were no throwback jersey nights, Gretzky would never wear purple and gold in his eight years with the organization. Read more

Introducing the Combativity Award – and the winner is David Backes

St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs

I’ve been watching the Tour de France nightly the past couple of weeks and am taken by one of the awards they give out after each stage. It’s the Combativity Award and it goes to the cyclist that day who shows the most fighting spirit.

This isn’t about tossing an elbow out when a competitor tries to zoom by or sticking a leadpipe in the spokes of an unsuspecting rival. The combative award goes to the individual who attacks on the road. That is to say, the cyclist who makes the most attempts to break away from the peloton or chase down leading groups. It’s also called the most aggressive rider prize, or as TDF analyst Paul Sherwen calls it, the rider who most often “throws the cat among the pigeons.”

The winner each stage gets called to the podium, is handed a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal, gets kisses from a pair of pretty ladies, then shakes the hands of dignitaries. During the next day’s stage, he wears a special red-backgrounded race number that denotes his distinction.

So why is they don’t have a most combative award in the NHL? They have awards for being skilled in a multitude of ways, for being gentlemanly, for being defensive, for being dedicated, for being a humanitarian, a leader. But nothing for showing the most fighting spirit. And that’s really too bad.

Read more

These 23 players can go to arbitration, if they’re not signed to extensions first

reimer

The NHL’s arbitration process is scheduled to begin later this month. Twenty NHL players have filed for arbitration, while three players were taken to arbitration by their teams. Usually, these contracts are settled before the team and player have to face off in front of an arbiter, so expect most, or all, of these to be settled before the process begins.

Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20 and August 5. Here are the eligible players:

Arizona Coyotes
Brandon McMillan - A third round pick by Anaheim in 2008, McMillan played 22 games with the Coyotes in 2013-14, scoring two goals and six points. He also played 46 games with the american League’s Portland Pirates, scoring 11 goals and 26 points. The 5-foot-11 winger was acquired by the Coyotes last year in a trade that sent Matt Lombardi to the Ducks.

Boston Bruins
Matt Bartkowski - A seventh round pick by Florida in 2008, Bartkowski averaged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen in 2013-14 and scored 18 assists. He was acquired by Boston in what turned out to be an awful trade for Florida, which sent Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins for not much at all. Bartkowski has emerged as a physical defensive blueliner who fits in nicely with Boston’s brawny way. Read more

The top 10 undrafted players at NHL development camps

Scott-Savage

Many NHL teams have prospect development camps going on this week, with some already underway. These sessions are a great way to teach new draft picks how the organization works and get them familiar with their peers from past draft classes who are also attending. Usually there’s some sort of tournament or scrimmage at the end.

But the camps aren’t just for draft picks. Along with previously signed free agents, teams bring in kids on tryouts. Not only does this fill out the roster, but it also gives the franchise an opportunity to get a longer look at some players they may have overlooked in the draft – or simply ran out of picks before they could snag. Here are some of the best names in that cohort.

Scott Savage, D – Boston College (San Jose, Anaheim)

The California native is double-dipping back home, taking part in camps hosted by the Sharks and Ducks. Coming out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Savage was a physical, defensive D-man without ideal size. But he’s always had mobility and put up decent numbers with the Eagles this past season.

Bobo Carpenter, LW – Austin Prep (Toronto)

The son of ex-NHLer Bobby Carpenter, ‘Bobo’ is short for Robert and he’s the third generation of that name. After his high school season ended, Carpenter put up nine points in nine games for Sioux City in the United States League and despite his obvious offensive talent, he didn’t hear his name called at the draft in Philly. Skating might be a factor, but the Maple Leafs are giving him a whirl.

Ken Appleby, G – Oshawa Generals (Arizona)

Appleby has excellent size, standing 6-foot-4 in the crease, but as a backup to Carolina prospect Daniel Altshuller, he didn’t see enough time to intrigue an NHL team. His .920 save percentage actually edged Altschuller’s .917 mark and perhaps that’s why the Coyotes would like to see more from the youngster.

Joe Hicketts, D – Victoria Royals (Detroit)

One look at Hicketts’ measurements – he’s 5-foot-8 and 186 pounds – and you can see why NHL teams may have been scared off at the draft. There was also a shoulder injury that truncated his season, but the blueliner can put up offense and he’s feisty out there; physical play is no issue. The Red Wings were intrigued enough to bring him along to their camp.

Sam Anas, LW – Quinnipiac Bobcats (Montreal)

Another smaller player, Anas will fit in perfectly in Montreal. Ha ha! Just kidding. But seriously, the 5-foot-8 winger is tremendously talented in the offensive zone and put up more than a point per game this past season while playing on Quinnipiac’s top line. The Habs are giving the college kid a chance to shine in the summer now, too.

Damian Bourne, LW – Mississauga Steelheads (Calgary)

At the other end of the spectrum is 6-foot-4, 209-pound Bourne, who never really got on track offensively this year. A big, powerful winger, Bourne can dish out the punishment and perhaps he’s destined to be a bottom-sixer. Whether or not he develops into a power forward, the Flames wanted another look.

Kevin Tansey, D – Clarkson Golden Knights (Ottawa)

Tansey has been to a camp before in Toronto, but now it’s the hometown Senators giving him a shot. The physical, defensive blueliner missed all of 2012-13 due to a concussion and injury to his ribs, but rebounded this season and put up solid numbers in the ECAC.

Blake Clarke, LW – Saginaw Spirit (Detroit)

Clarke went through a dreadful scoring drought this season and was traded from North Bay to Saginaw in between. The big winger also dealt with a shoulder injury that messed with the mental side of his game, but he’s been a scorer in the past and clearly the Red Wings want to see if he can rediscover that touch.

Jordon Cooke, G – Kelowna Rockets (Los Angeles)

At 5-foot-10, Cooke does not have ideal size for a modern netminder, but he did have great numbers for one of the best teams in the nation. Was that because of the players in front of him, or was he part of the reason the Rockets succeeded? Cooke was named CHL goaltender of the year, so there’s a pretty good clue there. At the least, the Kings are intrigued.

Jack Flinn, G – Owen Sound Attack (Toronto)

Again, we have opposites. Flinn comes in at 6-foot-7 with lots of potential but poor numbers. He was the backup in Owen Sound this year, but split the playoff workload with starter Brandon Hope. The Leafs are willing to test out Flinn’s huge frame at their camp this week.