Why Buffalo’s McDavid-less future is still brighter than Edmonton’s

Matt Larkin
Jack Eichel (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Was the NHL’s draft lottery presentation the pinnacle of television entertainment? Of course not. But, admit it, your heart pounded through your chest every time Bill Daly flipped over a rectangular team card in his hellish Rorschach test. It was quite the emotional ride, and that was just for fans and journalists. Imagine how team executives felt.

That’s why we should forgive Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray for his downtrodden reaction in the immediate aftermath of seeing the Edmonton Oilers land the first overall pick for the fourth friggin’ time in six years. Sure, Buffalo’s “plan” for Connor McDavid consisted of a mere 20 percent chance of winning the lottery, preceded by what may or may not have been an elaborate season-long tank operation. But in the moment, with a generational talent of McDavid’s ilk closer to Murray’s fingertips than to any other GM’s, who could fault him if his emotional, human side really wanted No. 97 in Western New York?

So Murray’s remark, “I’m disappointed for our fans,” deserves a pass. Who wouldn’t be disappointed? It could’ve been perceived as an affront to prospective No. 2 selection Jack Eichel, but that’s not what it was. Murray also said, “We’re disappointed not to get first, but we’re happy with second. Two franchise-changing guys in this draft.”

Despite the sting of losing McDavid, Murray and the Sabres realize they still very much have a franchise pillar waiting for them on draft day. Sabres fans should do the same. Especially considering how many other pieces the team has amassed in recent seasons.

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Todd McLellan on the move. Next stop, Edmonton?

Todd McLellan  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There are some coaches who, after losing or leaving an NHL job, need time to decompress and recharge their batteries before they start working again. Todd McLellan is clearly not one of those people. This Friday he’ll leave for Prague to coach Canada in the World Championship, then sit back and field offers the way Brad Richards did four years ago.

And those offers will come. From Toronto, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Edmonton and, depending on what his mentor Mike Babcock decides on his own future, perhaps Detroit. But Todd McLellan, who mutually agreed with the San Jose Sharks to part ways with one year left on his deal, will coach in the NHL next season.

“I’m a coach,” McLellan said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I want to coach.” Read more

Happy 4/20; here are the best hockey jerseys for potheads

Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Blazers  (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

Admittedly, I don’t smoke pot and I never have. But I listen to a lot of music made by marijuana enthusiasts and since today is 4/20, I thought it would be fun to come up with the best hockey jerseys for potheads.

We did have the idea of posting the article at 4:20 Eastern time, but then thought folks should have some time to read before the mythical hour was upon them. We also figured we shouldn’t post it in the morning because none of the target audience would be awake yet.

So let’s get to it now.

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Flames’ youth flusters Canucks as Calgary rolls to Game 3 victory

The Flames salute their fans after winning Game 3. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Maybe there’s more to these Flames than last-second heroics and a head-scratching ability to defy everything their underlying numbers say. Through three games of their first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary looks like a team that doesn’t deserve to be called an underdog.

What makes the Flames so interesting through three games isn’t that they’ve been winning – they did that enough all season in so many miraculous ways – but how they’ve been victorious. While most believed any hope in the series for Calgary would rely on the play of young guns Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and T.J. Brodie, they’ve instead gotten by in part because of the play of another, unheralded rookie, Michael Ferland. Read more

Calgary Flames rookie Sam Bennett comes up clutch with first career goal

Sam Bennett (Gerry Thomas/Getty Images)

Were it not for a shoulder injury to start the season, Sam Bennett‘s first career goal likely would have come sometime in October. Instead, the Calgary Flames’ top prospect scored his first tally when it mattered most — in a one-goal game of a tied playoff series.

After a scoreless second period and with Calgary up 2-1 on Vancouver entering the third period, a goalmouth scramble broke out in front of Canucks netminder Eddie Lack. Bennett, who was positioned behind the net when the shot from Joe Colborne was let go, swooped out in front and slapped at the loose puck to slip it home: Read more

Flames’ Michael Ferland sends Canucks’ Luca Sbisa sailing with massive hit

Michael Ferland (Gerry Thomas/Getty Images)

Through two games of Calgary’s first-round matchup with Vancouver, rookie Michael Ferland has been making a name for himself by throwing his body around. And for those who may not have taken notice of Ferland yet, it’ll be hard to forget him after the exploding hit he threw on Canucks blueliner Luca Sbisa.

Early in the first frame of Game 3, Sbisa carried the puck through the neutral zone and fired the puck into the Flames’ zone. Unfortunately for Sbisa, he didn’t see Ferland pursuing him from the right side. When the two came together, Ferland sent Sbisa flying with a massive body check: Read more

Senators’ incredible run close to over after heartbreaking Game 3 loss

Craig Anderson lies on the ice following a goal against in Game 3 (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Sadly, the Ottawa Senators may have used up every last bit of magic just getting to the playoffs. Three games into their first-round series with Montreal, Ottawa is on the brink of elimination.

With how close the games have been to this point, it would be foolish to outright write off the Senators’ chances going forward, but their chances couldn’t look much more bleak. Whether it is the stellar play of Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price or that Ottawa had to scratch and claw to get to the post-season, it feels as though the Habs, who skated to one of the best regular season records in the league, are simply overmatching the Senators. Read more

Dale Weise buries OT winner to put Ottawa on brink of elimination

Dale Weise (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Late in the third period of Game 3, with Montreal down 1-0 to the Ottawa Senators, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien trotted out a line consisting of Torrey Mitchell, Brandon Prust and Dale Weise. With less than six minutes remaining in the frame, Weise cashed in to tie the game which sent the contest to overtime.

If the premonition to throw that line together and run them out with time winding down in the third looked brilliant on Therrien’s part, he looked like an evil genius in the extra frame. Weise took only five shifts in the entire third period, but in overtime, Therrien put his rugged winger out three times before the halfway point of the period.

As the 10-minute mark loomed, Weise picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Senators’ zone, pulled up and fired a quick wristshot past Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson: Read more