True or False: P.K. Subban should be the Canadiens’ next captain (hint: it’s not false)

Adam Proteau
P.K. Subban (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The particulars of P.K. Subban’s looming contract extension aren’t known as of yet, but the inevitability of him putting his name on a new deal with the Canadiens is clear. The idea that anyone or anything – a rival GM with an ingenious restricted free agent offer sheet, or multi-picture movie deals from Hollywood producers – will take him out of the picture in Montreal is risible. Fans would revolt. Hell, ownership would revolt. He’s going to be back in a Habs jersey.

The Canadiens are going to commit to Subban contractually – but the real question is, are they going to commit to him fully and completely? There’s one way to say yes to that question: by making him the 29th captain in the team’s illustrious history.

As with any NHL star, Subban has his share of detractors and some would squawk at the notion of him being given the Habs’ captaincy. These are the same people who interpret his confidence as arrogance and his joy for the game as hot-dogging. They’re wrong in both cases, of course, and so is the idea Subban would be a disaster as the ‘C’-bearer.

Let’s break down the specific and specious arguments against Montreal making Subban their captain:

1) He’s too young. Subban is 25 and entering his fifth full NHL season. If you think that’s too young to get the captaincy, you need to tell Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Carolina’s Eric Staal, Philly’s Claude Giroux and Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf, all of whom were named captain at the same age. You should also scold: the Blackhawks for making Jonathan Toews their captain at age 20; the Isles for giving the ‘C’ to John Tavares at age 22; the Kings for naming Dustin Brown captain at age 23; and the Lightning for giving the captaincy to Steven Stamkos at age 24.

The NHL is a young man’s league and Subban would fit right in with the NHL’s other young stars were he named captain now. Next: 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.

Great news for Canadiens fans: P.K. Subban files for arbitration

Ken Campbell
PK Subban

The Montreal Canadiens and star defenseman P.K. Subban will live in contractual harmony for at least one more season, probably two. That was guaranteed when Subban filed for salary arbitration before the Saturday deadline.

And while the league has long been opposed to the arbitration process, this is not necessarily a bad thing for either Subban or the Canadiens on a couple of fronts. First, it is certain Subban will not be embroiled in a contract dispute with the Canadiens and will be in training camp the day it opens in September. Second, it protects the Canadiens from having another team submit an offer sheet on Subban. And finally, if it goes all the way to arbitration, it ensures that Subban will be neither overpaid nor underpaid. Read more

Why don’t the Toronto Maple Leafs offer sheet P.K. Subban?

Ken Campbell
Subban

With key decisions to be made by both players and teams with respect to arbitration this weekend, you can bet that P.K. Subban and his advisors are spending today deciding the next course of action. In fact, agents and teams around the league are now deciding whether going to/taking a player to arbitration is the best thing to do.

Players who have arbitration rights must decide by 5 p.m. Saturday whether they intend to take their teams through the arbitration process. For those who don’t opt for arbitration, the teams have until 5 p.m. Sunday to decide whether to force the issue by taking the player to arbitration. Read more

Five things we’ll never forget about Alex Kovalev

Alex Kovalev

Drafted 15th overall in 1991 – right after Pat Peake – Alex Kovalev became a prolific, if somewhat mercurial, NHL scorer. He had the size and the skill to take over NHL games, but at times he also left you expecting more. Kovalev retired from professional hockey this week after spending the 2013-14 season playing in Switzerland.

His last NHL season was with the Florida Panthers in 2012-13 and he finishes his career with 430 goals and 1,029 points in 1,316 games. He reached the 30-goal mark three times and set a career-high of 44 goals in 2000-01 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2002-03, Kovalev was one of the best players available on the trade market and he fetched the beleaguered Penguins Rico Fata, Mikael Samuelsson, Joel Bouchard and a few million dollars. Kind of underwhelming, wouldn’t you say?

He may not be beloved like Jaromir Jagr and Kovalev is certainly not a Hall of Famer, but he still brought us moments we’ll never forget. Here are five of them: Read more

Blue Jackets should look at P.K. Subban; avoid messing with Ryan Johansen

Los Angeles Kings v Columbus Blue Jackets

It took awhile for Ryan Johansen to find his feet in the NHL, but once he did this season, he was a force. The fourth overall pick in 2010 led the Columbus Blue Jackets in scoring while winning nearly 53 percent of his faceoffs and was great in the team’s playoff battle with Pittsburgh.

Now Johansen’s contract is up and as a restricted free agent, he has reportedly been offered a “bridge” contract of two or three years by the Blue Jackets. He would still be an RFA when that hypothetical deal runs out. Johansen, a big scoring center that possesses the types of traits most teams want in a No. 1 pivot, would prefer a long-term deal that takes him to unrestricted free agency and that’s where the stalemate comes in.

Read more

Patrick Roy is THN’s pick for coach of the year, but can his magic last?

Colorado Avalanche versus the Chicago Blackhawks

You can always tell when Patrick Roy wants his players to make a line change. No matter how deafeningly loud the building is, there is that ubiquitous whistle. Once they hear that shrill sound, Avalanche players scurry to the bench as though their paychecks are waiting there for them. He uses it in practice, too, prompting the kind of classical conditioning from his players Ivan Pavlov would envy.

Roy is the most engaged coach you’ll ever see during a practice. After he explains a drill, he turns to his charges and says, “Did everyone understand that?” And at the end of the workout, he insists on all of his players coming to center ice and forming a circle, putting their hands in the middle and chanting, “Team!” as they raise their hands in unison.

Seriously. Patrick Roy gets away with all of this. In the NHL. That kind of stuff might have gone over well in Quebec City, where he coached the Remparts for six seasons, but Roy is in the big leagues now. Someone should tell him NHL players can see through all that rah-rah crap and doing that is a good way to get fired.

But somehow Roy pulls it off. Stunningly well, we might add. THN’s choice for NHL coach of the year, Roy has gone where few Hall of Famers have gone before. History tells us superstar players, generally speaking, make lousy coaches. Rocket Richard lasted two games with Quebec in the World Hockey Association before quitting. Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Geoffrion and Doug Harvey were all sub .500 coaches in the NHL. Read more