Taylor Hall belonged to an Edmonton Oilers core often derided among hockey pundits for its lack of on-ice maturity. The group, which included first overall picks Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, dazzled with offensive skill but was criticized for a lack of defensive awareness, particularly Hall and Yakupov. They were paid like star players and honored as celebrities in Edmonton despite never making the playoffs.
But a conversation with Hall after his trade to the New Jersey Devils, however, bursts that bubble of supposed entitlement. He addressed a group of reporters in a scrum at BioSteel’s 2016 Pro Hockey Camp Tuesday in Toronto, and the one word he evoked: maturity. He spoke with a world-weariness, choosing frank answers to questions instead of cliches.
Was the stunning 1-for-1 trade sending left winger Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson “just part of the game”? Not for Hall. He took it personally. It did not roll off his back by any means. He made that clear when one reporter asked him if the trade felt like breaking up with a lover.
“Yeah, in the sense that, in a breakup, you just try to forget about it as quick as you can, right?” Hall said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not easy.”
For those tiring of hearing about NCAA free agent Jimmy Vesey, rest assured that the 23-year-old winger is nearing a decision on his destination.
According to a report from ESPN’s Joe McDonald, Vesey has finished meeting with the teams he has interest in joining — seven in total — and will begin discussing the options with his agents today with the possibility of coming to a final decision as early as Friday. Included on Vesey’s list of meetings were the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. That’s not to mention Vesey’s meeting with the Buffalo Sabres, who traded for his rights in mid-June.
Vesey comes with a lot of potential, having scored 56 goals and 114 points in 70 games with Harvard over the past two seasons, and he picked up the Hobey Baker Award in 2016 as the top player in the NCAA. But his performance doesn’t mean money can be used to sway his decision. Each team will have to table similar offers because Vesey will enter the league on a two-year, entry-level deal.
So which team will persuade Vesey to sign on the dotted line? Here are the pros and cons for each team in the running to land the college standout: Read more
Las Vegas’ NHL team has its first Stanley Cup winner.
Owner Bill Foley announced the hiring of David Conte yesterday, bestowing upon him the title of special advisor to hockey operations. I first reported the Vegas-Conte connection last week and now it’s official. But what should Las Vegas fans expect from the veteran hockey mind?
With the NHL off-season now in its dog days, notable trade and free-agent activity has slowed to a crawl. As a result, speculation over where promising free-agent prospect Jimmy Vesey could end up is garnering headlines.
Vesey, 23, is the 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner. Earlier this year, the Buffalo Sabres acquired his rights from the Nashville Predators in hopes of signing him to an entry-level contract. However, Vesey is eligible for unrestricted free agency on August 15 and intends to test the market.
For the past two months, it was believed the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs were front-runners for Vesey’s services. The college star is a Massachusetts native who grew up cheering for the Bruins. Meanwhile, his brother and father are employed by the Leafs.
As August 15 approaches, however, there are conflicting reports over where the Bruins and Leafs stand among the Vesey suitors.
It’s been a rough few weeks for NHL arbitrators. While 25 contract cases had been scheduled for hearings, only Tyson Barrie made it to a hearing, and that was resolved before a ruling was issued, meaning the league’s arbitrators didn’t get to render a single decision. And all that comes on the heels of news that James Oldham, the neutral arbitrator who ruled on the Dennis Wideman case, had been dismissed by the league.
But during these dark days for the league’s proud arbitrating fraternity, it’s worth remembering that times weren’t always so tough. The NHL has a long history of arbitrators making headlines, on cases involving everything from contract signings to disputed trades and beyond.
Here’s a look back on five times in NHL history that an arbitrator got the chance to bask in the spotlight.
The one-for-one swap that brought Adam Larsson to Edmonton and sent Taylor Hall to New Jersey caught just about everyone off guard, and the reaction among many was that the Devils had gotten the better of the deal.
One reason the general consensus swayed in the favor of New Jersey was that Larsson, 23, had yet to transform into the top-pairing blueliner he was projected to be. But the now-Oilers defenseman has faith in his ability, and he believes he can move into a bigger role in Edmonton, make a bigger impact than he had in New Jersey and make the trade look more even than it was believed to be when the deal was completed.
So after logging 22:30 of ice time per game for the Devils this past season, scoring three goals and 18 points and skating as a top-pairing defenseman at the World Championship for Sweden, Larsson intends to take his game to another level.
“I think I can take an even bigger step,” Larsson told media Monday. “There was a lot of focus on defense last year, and penalty kill, but obviously the next step is more offense and hopefully a little more power play time.” Read more
The past year could end up being one of the very best of Kyle Palmieri’s career.
Since being acquired by the Devils from the Ducks, Palmieri, 25, has had the breakout that Anaheim had been waiting for, potting 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games this past season in New Jersey. Palmieri parlayed his huge year into a five-year, $23.25-million contract in early July, and now he’s turned his biggest season into a chance to play alongside the best American players at the World Cup.
Palmieri was officially announced as the replacement for injured Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, who underwent surgery in late-June to repair a labral tear in his right hip.
“Kyle brings an all-around game that we’re confident will fit nicely with the framework we’re looking to build,” said Team USA GM Dean Lombardi in a release. “He’s coming off an outstanding year in New Jersey and will play an important role with our team.” Read more
There’s still nearly three months until the NHL campaign opens, which will leave the league’s 30 teams with ample time to tune and tweak their rosters as opening night approaches.
However, a few teams have made big splashes this off-season. Some have gotten creative, such as the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, by trading for a player’s exclusive negotiating rights to ink them to a deal before free agency opened, while others have gone the more traditional route, like the Boston Bruins, who shelled out a five-year, $30-million deal to David Backes.
Meanwhile, some clubs have gone the trade route, with the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators linking up to make one-for-one deals that both teams hope will improve their situations going forward.
And though there are still a number of free agents who could sign and make a difference next season, the biggest names are off the market. So here are the five off-season moves that have been made (so far) that will have the biggest impact this coming season: Read more