Live from the draft: Not much surprise in the top five

Ekblad-draft

The evening began with uncertainty and Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon even had some fun by revealing that his team would be selecting a player from the Ontario League – but pausing before actually saying the name Aaron Ekblad.

“I was freaking out a bit,” Ekblad admitted.

But with five picks in the books, the most likely top five players were all claimed: Maybe the 2014 draft class was more straight forward than we thought.

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Rumor Roundup: UFA interviews begin…who’ll stay and who’ll go?

Stastny (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The window for NHL clubs to interview free agents on rival teams opened on Wednesday. Though actual contract negotiations are prohibited, the interview period is a great opportunity for teams to woo prospective free agents before the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector observes the Calgary Flames hope to re-sign left winger Michael Cammalleri while the Boston Bruins want to retain Jarome Iginla. However, this interview period provides players an opportunity to gauge interest from other clubs.

That’s why Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny is going to test the market, even though his agent claims he’s had good contract conversations with Avalanche management. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater notes the Stastny camp intends to circle back to the Avalanche to give them an opportunity to retain him. Read more

Rumor Roundup: What will the Rangers do with their cap space after Brad Richards buyout?

Anton Stralman

The New York Rangers freed up over $6.67 million in annual cap space by using their remaining compliance buyout on center Brad Richards, who now becomes an unrestricted free agent. Rather than use the savings to pursue unrestricted free agents, Larry Brooks of the New York Post anticipates the money will be sunk into re-signing as many of their key free agents as possible.

One of them is defenseman Anton Stralman, who Brooks reports could receive a three- or four-year offer from the Blueshirts worth $4-million annually. The question is, will that be enough to keep Stralman from testing the upcoming UFA market? Read more

Which teams will trade their first round pick? Here are five to watch

Florida Panthers

The NHL released the full seven-round 2014 draft order today, eight days out from the event in Philadelphia. Round 1 goes June 27 and Rounds 2-7 go June 28.

Today we’ll take a look at the first round. There are lots of rumors about which picks will be in play, either because teams are interested in moving up, or because there are so many big names on the trading block that first-rounders will be made available to try and acquire them. This is a weird year. The UFA class is rather weak, the trade market is rather full and everyone seems open to talking about trading their first round pick. Which are the most likely to get dealt at or before the draft? Here’s a look at our top five. Read more

Where is Martin Brodeur headed in his NHL swan song?

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils

This free agent season will be like none we’ve seen before if only for the simple reason the winningest goalie in the history of the game is making himself available to the open market.

If the NHL were run by an advisory board of mentors and guidance counselors rather than businessmen, there would be a meeting to discuss how best to handle this potentially sticky situation.

Isn’t it best served to have Martin Brodeur one day retire in all his glory as a member of the New Jersey Devils? Is it really necessary for 42-year-old Brodeur, with his game in decline, to play another season? How does it look having a goaltending icon serving as a backup, playing just three or four times a month?

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Top 5: Points by a defenseman in a single playoff run

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At 24, Drew Doughty has already etched himself quite the legacy. The Max Kaminsky Trophy for the Ontario League’s best defenseman, two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup, and perhaps a second league title on the way. At his current pace, leading the playoffs in defenseman scoring, a Conn Smythe Trophy could be Doughty’s next accolade.

With 17 points so far, Doughty’s playoff point total doesn’t quite crack the top 30 all-time highest-scoring playoff seasons by a defender. But with the potential to play six more games (though he’d surely rather play only three more), Doughty only needs four more points to leapfrog his way into the top 10. There’s a good chance he does, but there’s no chance he cracks the top three. Here’s the five most productive playoff runs by defensemen. Read more

Isles’ deal for Dan Boyle won’t pan out unless they wildly over-compensate him

Dan Boyle (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders’ acquisition of the rights to defenseman Dan Boyle Thursday is the latest in GM Garth Snow’s continuing efforts to boost the experience quotient of his franchise. He’s had a spotty record in that regard, but until the franchise relocates to Brooklyn in 2015, the only way the Isles are going to augment their youth with veteran savvy is via a trade – and, if they want to sign Boyle, by overpaying him.

It’s accurate to say the Islanders weren’t at the top of Boyle’s destination list as the former Sharks and Lightning blueliner looked toward unrestricted free agency this summer. The soon-to-be-38-year-old has entered the stage of an NHLer’s career where, in terms of priorities, money is a distant second behind the opportunity to win (he’s earned more than $54 million during his 14-year-career). Although the Isles have a number of players any NHLer would want to play alongside, nobody believes they’ll be in position to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup. And in a UFA market that’s thin on veteran D-men, he’ll still have a number of suitors (including, perhaps, the Bolts) for his services.

So, why would he agree to play on Long Island? Good question. Read more

Top 5 ‘under the radar’ NHL players from 2013-14

alexandersteen

By Andrew Heliotis

1. Wayne Simmonds
RW, Philadelphia Flyers

This past season Simmonds hit career highs in all three scoring categories and his 60 points were good enough for a top 50 scoring finish. Simmonds really excelled on the power play, however. Scroll down the special teams list of top goal scorers and it won’t take long to hit his name. Only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and San Jose’s Joe Pavelski finished with more than Simmonds’ 15 power play goals. With 209 shots all season he scored at the same rate as Sidney Crosby and finished with a better shooting percentage than six of the top 10 point-getters of the season.

2. Alexander Steen
LW, St. Louis Blues

Early in 2005-06, two rookies for the Maple Leafs made their team’s scouts look like geniuses. Steen and Kyle Wellwood combined for 90 points and the Toronto faithful began salivating. But 20 games into 2008-09 Steen would forever be an afterthought in Hogtown when he was sent to the St. Louis Blues for Lee Stempniak.  Oh, how things have changed. This season Steen, who built a reputation as a consistently underrated, solid two-way forward, led the Blues in goals (33) and points (62), recorded in just 68 games. Steen’s 0.49 goals per game was seventh in the NHL. Read more