Steven Stamkos and the importance of playing other sports

Steven Stamkos (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays are putting up enough offense to win the Rocket Richard Trophy (they have that in baseball too, right?), so it’s no surprise local boy Steven Stamkos – a two-time winner of that accolade himself – dropped by to shag a few pitches himself the other day.

Stamkos is a well-known baseball fan who plays the game in the summer, despite the fact he’s one of the best hockey players in the world. But he’s not the only elite iceman whose sporting pursuits go beyond the arena. And for young players (and their parents), Stamkos is a great role model.

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Why Carl Hagelin’s new four-year, $16 million deal looks good for Anaheim

Jared Clinton
Carl Hagelin was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on June 27. (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

When the New York Rangers dealt Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks at the draft, it was a trade made not because the Rangers had no more use for the speedy winger, but because New York simply couldn’t afford to pay Hagelin what he was asking.

Over his four seasons in the NHL, Hagelin, 26, had been a steady 15-goal, 30-point player and, as a restricted free agent, he was due for a healthy raise on the $2.25 million he had earned over the past two seasons.

Well, Hagelin got that raise Friday, signing a four-year, $16 million deal with the Ducks that will keep him locked up until the 2018-19 season. And at an average cap hit of only $4 million per year, the Blueshirts might be kicking themselves in two years’ time. Read more

AHL Logo Ranking: No. 27 – Hartford Wolf Pack

Jared Clinton
Hartford Wolf Pack logo (via SportsLogos.net/Chris Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

In the past two seasons the Hartford Wolf Pack have gone from being on the outside looking in to legitimate post-season threat. In 2013-14, the club finished nine points out of a playoff spot and just five games over .500, but came back with a vengeance in 2014-15, finishing 19 games above .500 and winning their division.

With the Northeast locked up, the Wolf Pack downed the Providence Bruins in the post-season’s opening round and disposed of the Hershey Bears in six games in round two. The Eastern Conference final was a different story, though, as the near-unbeatable Manchester Monarchs booted the Wolf Pack from the playoffs with a 4-0 series sweep.

Of their top 10 scorers, only Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik and Ryan Bourque are still with the team. Leading scorer Chris Bourque headed to the Capitals organization, Danny Kristo is off to Blues, Carl Klingberg left for the KHL, Chris Mueller is now a Duck, Conor Allen is with the Predators, Ryan Haggerty was dealt to the Blackhawks and Justin Vaive signed with the rival Islanders. That doesn’t bode well for the Wolf Pack’s offense in 2015-16.

To replace the lost production, the Wolf Pack have added scoring by committee. Luke Adam, Brian Gibbons and Jayson Megna have all been brought in to contribute up front. The lack of offensive defensemen will put pressure on sophomore Mat Bodie, who scored five goals and 32 points in 75 games for the Wolf Pack in his rookie year, to step up from the blueline and spark some scoring from the backend. Luckily, the Wolf Pack should be set in goal with Mackenzie Skapski, Magnus Hellberg and Cedrick Desjardins.

Hartford has missed the post-season in three of the past six campaigns and unless there’s a breakout star, it could be another long summer for the Wolf Pack. Read more

Jarret Stoll signs one-year deal with New York Rangers

Jared Clinton
Jarret Stoll

Jarret Stoll’s time is done in the City of Angels, and the veteran center is heading to the Big Apple.

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Stoll and the New York Rangers have come to terms on a one-year deal worth $800,000, which is a far cry from the three-year, $9.75 million contract Stoll is coming off of with the Los Angeles Kings.

The 33-year-old center is coming off of a difficult off-season in which he was arrested and charged for alleged drug possession. The charges were dismissed and Stoll instead pleaded guilty to two reduced misdemeanor charges in late June. Read more

The 10 oldest players suiting up in the NHL in 2015-16

Jaromir Jagr (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a move yesterday that flew a bit under the radar, signing center Matt Cullen to a one-year, $800,000 contract.

Cullen, who has played in more than 1,200 games over his career, has been a steady middle of the lineup player throughout his career. Cullen can give the Penguins some veteran depth, so it’s not a terrible signing, but what’s shocking about the deal is that Cullen is inching closer to his 39th birthday.

The Penguins also signed Eric Fehr this off-season, but Fehr, a veteran of 10 NHL seasons, is still 10 years Cullen’s junior. That’s no small age gap. Even still, Cullen barely cracks the five oldest players this season. Here are the NHL’s elder statesmen with contracts for the upcoming season: Read more

Mackenzie Skapski represents the Empire State on new Rangers mask

Jared Clinton
Mackenzie Skapski's new mask (via Instagram/Jason Bartziokas)

Mackenzie Skapski got his first taste of NHL action in 2014-15, and the goaltender is going to look the part if he gets another turn in the Rangers’ net this upcoming season.

Skapski suited up for two games this past season, winning both for New York, but the 21-year-old netminder might have a hard time getting back into the big leagues with a healthy Henrik Lundqvist and the newly acquired Antti Raanta ahead of him on the depth chart. That doesn’t mean Skapski isn’t going to be prepared though.

Should he get the call, Skapski will get to put this new piece of head gear on display, freshly painted with an homage to the construction of the Empire State Building. There’s also some fine detail that makes it appear Skapski’s gear was put together the same way. Take a look: Read more