2014-15 Record: 45-30-7 (97 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 3rd, Pacific Division
What To Expect: Last summer, nearly everyone suspected there would be a buzz around the Flames in the spring, because Connor McDavid was up for grabs, and Calgary looked like a sure lottery contender. But nearly everyone was wrong about the Flames, who overcame the loss of captain Mark Giordano in the final quarter of the season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Despite their success, pitiful possession numbers and 10 comeback wins told the story of a lucky team who arrived ahead of schedule. GM Brad Treliving, aware of the potential for regression, boldly upgraded his roster. He dealt for RFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a 22-year-old star in the making, and promptly signed him to a six-year deal. He then lured versatile two-way winger Michael Frolik as a UFA. These additions, along with the natural progression of youngsters Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett, will guard against a slide. Read more
In the span of 15 minutes Friday morning, the Blackhawks made two roster moves few saw coming.
First, to the shock of many, Chicago demoted Marko Dano. Dano, 20, was considered a near lock to make the Blackhawks roster. Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Brandon Saad trade, Dano had found a nice fit alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, coincidentally the spot previously occupied by Saad. Minutes after news of Dano’s demotion, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Blackhawks had also placed winger Bryan Bickell on waivers. Talk about a busy morning.
The question now is what’s next for Dano, Bickell and the Blackhawks? Read more
Las Vegas and Quebec City have given their formal presentations and jumped through all the hoops necessary to put their expansion bids in the best position possible, but even that may not be enough for the two potential expansion cities to land NHL franchises.
In December, the executive committee of the board of governors will gather in Palm Springs, Calif., where they will hold the fates of the expansion bids in their hands. Members of the executive committee include Ducks owner Henry Samueli, Flames co-owner Murray Edwards, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, Wild owner Craig Leipold, Flyers owner Ed Snider, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, but the most powerful man of all may be Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who is chairman of the committee.
And Thursday, Jacobs spoke with ESPN’s Joey McDonald, but Jacobs’ words weren’t music to the ears of those behind the Vegas and Quebec City bids. Read more
In the spring of 2002, back in the day when mastodons roamed the earth and the Toronto Maple Leafs were good, Alex Mogilny sat dumbfounded at his stall in the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs had just defeated the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs, again, to advance to the Eastern Conference final.
As bedlam surrounded him, Mogilny wondered aloud, with a genuine look of bewilderment on his face, “Why is everyone so excited? We’ve only made it halfway through the playoffs.” You had to forgive Mogilny. It was the end of his first season in Toronto and he wasn’t accustomed to people getting so excited after watching their team almost come close to just about winning something.
The Detroit Red Wings dealt with injury issues in the 2014-15 season, losing roughly 160 man games to injury. Already they’re starting the 2015-16 season at a disadvantage, as they’ll be without Pavel Datsyuk for at least the first month of the season, but the injury news gets worse as Danny DeKeyser could be sidelined following an injury in Wednesday’s pre-season tilt with Pittsburgh.
According to Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com, DeKeyser was seen wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using crutches as he got to the team bus Thursday. After an MRI Thursday, it was determined the 25-year-old blueliner will miss 3-4 weeks, setting his timetable for return for late-October or early-November.
The injury occurred on a hit during a Red Wings power play, but DeKeyser finished the shift and took one more stab at getting out on the ice before leaving the game with less than three minutes remaining in the pre-season tilt. Read more
Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has taken the first steps toward signing a contract in the KHL after not having played a professional game in almost one year’s time.
According to R-Sport.ru’s Alexander Rogulev, Voynov has decided to request a transfer from Traktor Chelyabinsk to SKA St. Petersburg, where he will join former NHLers Ilya Kovalchuk, Dmitri Kalinin, Anton Belov, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Evgeny Artyukhin.
“(Voynov has) decided to play SKA, due to the fact that the club will compete for the Gagarin Cup,” Voynov’s agent Ravil Iskhakov told R-Sport. “This will help Voynov prepare for matches for the national team of Russia. At the moment, the general manager of SKA Andrew Tochitskii (is) in Chelyabinsk and in talks with Traktor on the exchange of rights (for Voynov). When these conditions are met, (Voynov) will be able to sign a contract with SKA.” Read more
Real hockey is here, folks. Erie’s Alex DeBrincat scored five goals against Niagara Thursday night and he did it without Connor McDavid or Dylan Strome – so he’s got that going for him. A lot of 2015 draft prospects seem to be sticking around for the start of the NHL’s regular season and one of those kids comes up in a question below. If you have a query about prospects and the draft, look me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and include the hashtag #thnfutures. You may see the answer in the coming weeks. Let’s get to the bag.
Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen’s stat-line Thursday was an interesting one: he registered one goal, two assists and a few stitches after deflecting a puck into the Edmonton net with his face.
With the Canucks up 3-2 and on the power play in pre-season action, the puck was worked back to the blueline where Yannick Weber unleashed a shot that was deflected on its way towards the goal. The puck’s trajectory changed, glanced off of Virtanen’s face and dropped into the net behind Oilers netminder Cam Talbot.
Virtanen’s tally — which the NHL listed as his via deflection — left him bloodied, but he was able to skate off under his own power and even gave the Edmonton crowd a wave as he headed for the dressing room: Read more