Top 10 Vezina candidates of 2014-15: Rinne rules

Pekka Rinne (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Goaltending can make or break a team’s season. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers, who for years have looked promising but have been unable to secure a goaltender to give them the big save they need.

You won’t find either Oilers goaltender, Ben Scrivens or Viktor Fasth, on this list of the top 10 Vezina candidates. Nor will you find Michael Hutchinson, who currently leads the league in save percentage and is second in goals-against average. The reason being Hutchinson just hasn’t had the workload, and including his numbers also put goaltenders like Colorado’s Calvin Pickard and injured St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott into the conversation.

Instead, many familiar faces are among the contenders, though not a single one has won the Vezina in their career. Read more

Preds’ James Neal first player to be named & shamed under NHL’s anti-diving push

Adam Proteau
James Neal (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

It is something of an understatement to say Predators winger James Neal has a reputation among NHL players and officials, and it isn’t a good one. Even before he was dealt to Nashville this summer, he became infamous for embellishing and vicious episodes.

So it wasn’t in the least bit eyebrow-raising to hear Neal was the first NHLer publicly named and fined under the NHL’s new anti-diving legislation. He had already received a warning after a Nov. 13 game against St. Louis, but apparently the message didn’t sink in. Because even the most ardent Preds fan who’s being honest with themselves would have to admit the play for which Neal is being fined (which took place Dec. 13 against the Sharks) is laughably blatant diving: Read more

Top 10 Calder Trophy candidates: Can anyone catch Filip Forsberg?

forsberg2

There’s been no shortage of great stories this season, but one of the most surprising things is the cast of rookies who have quickly made names for themselves in the league.

The thing with rookies is they’re one of the most difficult groups of players to accurately forecast. With little known about how well adjusted they’ll be to the NHL, they can either boom or bust, and in some cases an injury or unfavorable situation can send the early Calder Trophy favorite to the bottom of the ballot.

Take Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, for instance, who some people thought would run away with the award but doesn’t even appear on our list. Or John Gibson, the THN consensus pick for the Calder, who had a shot at leading the Ducks this season before injury derailed his season.

These are the top 10 Calder Candidates at this point in the season: Read more

Former Predator Alex Radulov sent flying by beautiful hip check in KHL game

Jared Clinton
Alex Radulov gets caught with a beautiful hip check during a game between CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow (via KHL/YouTube)

When Alex Radulov once again left the NHL for KHL, some said he just wasn’t suited to the North American style of play. If the thunderous hip check he received on Sunday is any indication, there’s no style of play in any league that’s going to let you dance around the ice without harm.

Now the captain of CSKA Moscow, Radulov got a rough ride from Andrei Mironov, a young defenseman from crosstown rival Dynamo Moscow: Read more

Report: veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun retiring after 15 NHL seasons

Tomas Vokoun (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

According to a report from a Czech publication Sunday, veteran NHL goalie Tomas Vokoun, who won 300 regular-season games over 15 seasons with five teams, is retiring at age 38.

“I think I can be proud of the career I had,” Vokoun told iSport.cz reporter Zdenek Janda, referring to accomplishments that included a 300-288-78 record, appearances in two all-star games and gold medals representing the Czech Republic at IIHF world championships in 2005 and 2010, as well as an Olympic bronze medal in 2006 and a bronze at the 2004 World Cup. Read more

From Comeau to Hemsky, cost per point helps show the most (and least) effective off-season signings

Ales Hemsky featured

When the Dallas inked Ales Hemsky to play alongside the newly acquired Jason Spezza it was heralded as a tremendous signing. So far, however, the Stars aren’t getting their money’s worth.

Following Saturday night’s game against the Devils, Hemsky has only registered eight points in 26 games and is on pace for the lowest full season point total of his career. Suffice to say, Hemsky is far short of where the Stars GM Jim Nill had likely hoped he’d see the winger’s point total. At a salary cap hit of $4 million for the next three seasons, Dallas isn’t getting the bang for their buck as they’re on pace to pay Hemsky nearly $170,000 for every point he’s on pace to score this season.

But it’s not just Hemsky, as several stars are making GMs second-guess some off-season signings. On the other hand, there are several who are far exceeding their salary expectations. Read more

Who has the NHL’s best slapshot? Do we even need to ask?

Ryan Kennedy
Shea Weber

Without a doubt, Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber has the most feared slapshot in the NHL. Not only is it the go-to answer when you ask the question, but his blast actually has its own rap sheet.

Most famously, there was the goal he scored against Germany at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the one that actually broke through the netting and went out the other side, prompting a replay to confirm its trajectory. And this summer, Weber was skating with a half-dozen teammates in Nashville when he put a shot through the boards. Fellow Preds blueliner Seth Jones took a picture for posterity, which was fun for fans online, not so much for those in the goaltending profession.

“You know how I’m going to feel about that,” said Nashville netminder Carter Hutton. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Martinez deal could leave Kings facing cap crunch

St. Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings recent re-signing of defenseman Alec Martinez to a six-year, $24-million contract extension leaves them with over $60 million invested in 14 players for 2015-16. There’s growing speculation over what GM Dean Lombardi will do to address this situation.

If the salary cap stagnates for next season they won’t have much room to re-sign such notables as Justin Williams, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jarret Stoll. Looming on the horizon is a new contract for top center Anze Kopitar. He’s signed through 2015-16 and become eligible for unrestricted free agency in July 2016. Read more