Top five teams who like to trade in first-round picks

Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko

With the holiday trade freeze upon us and the sprint to the trade deadline around the corner, some teams may be thinking about dealing a first-round pick to improve their chances in the new year.

First-round picks are precious currency of the salary-capped NHL. They often produce cheap, controllable young talent to complement high-priced veterans, and they’re also the most consistently valuable trading chip every team has available.

Since the 2004-05 lockout, many teams have built their rosters by wheeling and dealing in first-round picks. Sometimes a first-rounder helps seal the deal on a big-time player trade. Other times it’s compensation for a team selling off its vets at the trade deadline. And when the draft arrives in June, certain general managers love moving up or down in the first round with the help of an additional pick to sweeten the change in order.
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The NHL shootout: the part of the game practice and coaching can’t solve

Leafs goalie James Reimer and Sabres center Cody Hodgson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Flyers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Florida Thursday marked their fifth loss in as many shootouts this season. With even one or two wins in those five games, Philly would be within sniffing distance of a wild card berth and not, as they currently are, closer in the standings to the last-place Carolina Hurricanes. And when veteran center Vincent Lecavalier was asked after the game whether the Flyers practiced the shootout enough, his answer likely didn’t make beleaguered head coach Craig Berube very happy.

“Well, obviously not,” said Lecavalier, who was one of the Flyers’ shooters. “I mean, maybe we could do more. They’re obviously very important points that you’re kind of leaving on the table. We have been practicing, but we probably could do more.”

Berube maintained the Flyers do practice enough, but the truth is, since it was first implemented in 2005, the shootout has been a Bermuda Triangle of expectations and logic. And the more you think about the so-called solution for a team’s shootout woes, the sillier it is. I mean, players have to practice scoring more? These men are almost universally dominant scorers at lower levels of the game and who think of different ways to score constantly, so what exactly would another 20 minutes or a half-hour after practice do for them, when it’s all but impossible to replicate the game conditions (including thousands of screaming fans potentially attempting to intimidate them) of an actual shootout? Read more

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

Islanders dubious daily double was one for the history books

N.Y. Islanders vs. Minnesota (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the New York Islanders blew a three-goal lead and lost to the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night, they accomplished a dubious feat that had happened only five previous times in NHL history and hasn’t occurred in more than a decade.

The Islanders 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild marked the second consecutive game in which they had blown a three-goal lead. Just for good measure, they actually twice blew a three-goal lead against the Wild. That game came just three days after they coughed up a three-spot in a 6-4 loss on home ice to the St. Louis Blues, the game that gave Martin Brodeur his first victory in a Blues uniform. Read more

Suspend him or not: Matt Martin’s elbow on Wild defenseman Keith Ballard

Adam Proteau
Matt Martin (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Islanders left winger Matt Martin has made a name for himself as the NHL’s annual hits leader for the past few seasons. However, Martin’s hit on Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard Tuesday resulted in a horrendous on-ice scene and could result in disciplinary action being taken against him.

Ballard had just made a pass midway through the game when Martin attempted to finish a check on him. Ballard turns away in an attempt to avoid it, but Martin’s left elbow follows through and makes contact with Ballard’s head, knocking his head directly into the boards and rendering him unconscious. Read more

New York Islanders emergence from the dark has some talking about dynasty days

Jared Clinton
New York Islanders (Photo by Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images)

Is there anyone who really expected this kind of resurgence for the New York Islanders?

Through 25 games, the Isles sit tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division, they’ve got the seventh best goal differential in the NHL, and they’ve got young, explosive talents that have been cause for some to start comparing these teams to those of the Islanders dynasty of the 1980s.

Simply put, these aren’t even close to the Islanders we’re used to seeing. Read more

Ryan Strome quietly having breakout year for New York Islanders

Jared Clinton
Ryan Strome featured

When Ryan Strome was drafted fifth overall in the 2011 draft, much of the talk was about his incredible offensive upside. He scored highlight reel goals, completed passes he had no business making, and had a knack for finding the score sheet. But, in his second season with the Islanders, the 21-year-old Strome is showing he’s a 200-foot player.

Certainly, the expected offensive upside is there. In fact, in just 24 games, Strome has already posted four goals and 17 points, leaving him a single point from tying his rookie total of 18. But it’s his play away from the puck that has been a revelation for the Islanders and coach Jack Capuano. Read more

Jamie ‘Noodles’ McLennan still has the best seat

Jamie McLennan featured

As a player always slotted as backup goalie, Jamie McLennan used to enter each season wondering how much work he’d get. During his NHL career that began in 1993 and ended in 2008, his games played in a season ranged from nine in 2006-07 with Calgary to 38 in 2000-01 with Minnesota. All told, McLennan appeared in 254 games (80-109-36 record and 13 shutouts).

“I’m very proud of it,” McLennan said. “I had some success and pitfalls. I am well aware it wasn’t Hall of Fame worthy, but I was a backup goalie who hung around for a long time.”

Today, as a hockey analyst with TSN and the NHL Network, McLennan is still viewed as a backup by some. With Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger the go-to guys at TSN, McLennan gets duty on That’s Hockey and That’s Hockey 2Nite on TV and co-hosts Leafs Lunch for two hours a day on TSN Radio. That’s on top of providing color commentary for 36 regionally broadcast games for the Ottawa Senators. Read more