The Toronto Maple Leafs need bottom-six help and Daniel Winnik can do that

Ryan Kennedy
Daniel-Winnik

As they saw last season with Mason Raymond, the Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping a couple recent signings can result in great bargains.

The latest is local product Daniel Winnik, who signed with the Buds for $1.3 million on Monday and projects as a third-liner with the squad. Winnik played some very tough minutes with the Anaheim Ducks this past season, ranking third among the team’s forwards in Quality of Competition relative to Corsi.

Winnik was relegated to the press box for four playoffs games by Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, including the first three games of Anaheim’s second-round series against Los Angeles. The Ducks lost two out of three of those games Winnik was scratched for, ultimately losing the series in seven.

A center who can play on the wing as well, Winnik will join a long list of recent Leafs signings who can replace players lost during the off-season such as Nikolai Kulemin, David Bolland and Jay McClement. Another recent signing that fits along with Winnik in terms of strategy is David Booth.

Like Winnik, Booth was cast off by his former team (Vancouver), but brings potential to Toronto at a relative pittance of $1.1 million. Booth struggled through injuries as a Canuck, but he was one of Vancouver’s best possession players when he did suit up and finished more shifts in the offensive zone than he started. Also noteworthy is that both Winnik and Booth drew more penalties than they took this past season.

Toronto was abysmal while shorthanded in 2013-14 and on top of staying out of the box, Winnik can also help the penalty kill, as he led all Ducks forwards in shorthanded ice time (Anaheim finished 15th on the PK; Toronto was 28th overall).

Although the Leafs lost a bunch of forwards, they now have a logjam thanks to the Winnik and Booth moves. Along with those two, Toronto brought back Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov for a second tour of duty and added newbies Petri Kontiola and Mike Santorelli. Along with youngsters from the Marlies (and perhaps even 2014 first-rounder William Nylander), that’s a lot of competition to suss out for coach Randy Carlyle.

New video features map of every NHL logo ever, plus “Brass Bonanza”

Ryan Kennedy
Hartford-Whalers

This is fun. Ann Frazier of the San Jose-centric Fear the Fin blog has posted a video that details every team in the NHL by season, with the logo changing based on the year. Not only does it bring short-lived teams such as the Quebec Bulldogs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Quakers and St. Louis Eagles to the fore, but it’s also interesting to look at the map and see just how long Los Angeles was marooned out in the Southwest before a flood of teams (Sharks, Ducks and Coyotes) joined them. Plus, the video is set to the classic Hartford Whalers anthem “Brass Bonanza,” which you now have stuck in your head:

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Why P.K. Subban drinking beer out of “the Stanley Cup” is a complete nontroversy

Adam Proteau
P.K. Subban (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

There are garden-variety nitpickers, and then there are nitpicking hockey fans. Whether it’s their sheer volume of nits picked or their ability to find and pick nits where it wasn’t believed any existed, puck-loving pedants are a cut above most others. So it should surprise no one that Subban’s playful weekend in Montreal – in which he drank beer through a straw from a replica Stanley Cup at a Just For Laughs comedy event (see video below, starting at the 3:50 mark) – has some people grumbling.

That’s because the superstitions surrounding the Cup have grown to ridiculous levels. We’ve known for years now how averse NHL players are to touching sport’s most beautiful trophy, but when you can’t even have a little fun with the award that represents the pinnacle of success in your line of work, something is seriously awry.

It needs to be stressed that the Cup used at the Just For Laughs show was a replica. That fact alone should be enough for the complainers to cram it. But as we all should be aware, virtually everything Subban does comes under fire from deranged fans – in some cases, out of jealousy; in others, because of his race – and this is but another sad example. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 20: Columbus Blue Jackets

Rory Boylen
bigbluejackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a 21st Century NHL team – entering the league in 2000-01 – so they don’t have a long track record of redesigns or touch-ups. But the Blue Jackets are all about history. The team name is a nod to American history and the region’s role in the Civil War, which made Ken Hitchcock a perfect fit for the franchise.

So don’t let Stinger the hornet mascot confuse you. This team is named for the Blue Coats, not the buzzing Blue Jackets.

But did you know the Columbus NHL franchise was almost called the Justice? When majority owner John H. McConnell’s team was figuring out a name for the expansion franchise, the two finalists were the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Columbus Justice. That name would have been way worse and, we imagine, the logo would have been awful, too.

A Justice logo would surely have ranked lower in our rankings than the current Blue Jackets logo does at No. 20. There were some mixed opinions in the THN office about this look. Some like the color combination and the slick design that ties it together, while others saw a very basic and bland design fit for No. 30. Do you think you can design a better look for the Jackets?

(Aside: I would rank Columbus very high if they would use the blue cannon as their primary logo.)

Try your hand at coming up with a new design for the Columbus Blue Jackets logo and submit your entry to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the end of our rankings, we’ll share all our favorites redesigns of the 30 NHL logos. And if you had fun creating one for Columbus, you can send us more art work for the other NHL teams, too.

HISTORY OF THE BLUE JACKETS LOGO
If I had to rank the two primary logos Columbus has used in its decade-and-a-half of existence, this one would rank miles behind the current look. This one is too “Saturday morning cartoons” for me and includes a touch of neon the NHL was pushing for. Yuck. Here’s what the Blue Jackets’ website says about the first logo ever used by the franchise:

“The primary Blue Jackets logo that was selected features a star-studded red ribbon unfurled in the shape of the team’s initials, CBJ, with an electric green hockey stick cutting through the center to represent the “J.” The 13 stars represent each of the original 13 U.S. Colonies and signify patriotism. The star on top of the stick signifies Columbus as the state capital.”

bluejacketslogo

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Logan Couture: Kings loss still hurts, Sharks don’t care about analytics

Ryan Kennedy
Logan-Couture

Logan Couture is a good sport, but as he helped raise money for the Smashfest charitable event in Toronto last week, you could tell there’s a weariness surrounding him these days when the press is around. That’s because he knows there will inevitably be questions about his team’s collapse against Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs, when San Jose could not close out a 3-0 series lead. The Kings would go on to win four straight, of course, and ultimately the Stanley Cup.

“You think about how much it hurts,” he said. “It’s sad. The feelings aren’t gonna go away, probably ever. It’s something that sticks with you a long time. It should be motivation for our team.”

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NHL coaching is now about relationships as much as it is Xs-and-Os

Adam Proteau
Evgeni Malkin (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

New Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston traveled to Russia this weekend to talk with star center Evgeni Malkin about the team’s new direction in the wake of sweeping change to management and the playing roster. The trip is a must for Johnston, because, now more than ever before, relationships can mean the difference between coaches winning and losing at hockey’s highest levels.

The days of autocrat bench bosses barking orders at their charges are long-gone. Just ask the short-gone John Tortorella and his former employers in Vancouver who can’t do enough to distance themselves from that awful experiment. The Canucks replaced Tortorella with Willie Desjardins, an affable, considerate man who paid his dues in the hockey world, but who also has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in social work. Desjardins may not succeed in his new gig, but his well-rounded background will serve as the template for NHL coaches in the years to come.

Seeing the continued evolution of the coaching profession brings to mind something former Leafs executive Dave Poulin told THN a few years back: he believed the label “coach” didn’t accurately describe what the men who served in the role did every day. He thought baseball had it right in calling their coaches “managers”, because so much of the average NHL coach’s job today is about managing: managing on-ice strategic adjustments – in-game and game-to-game – and, more importantly, managing the personalities of players as they attempt to form a cohesive unit. Read more

Ryan Kennedy’s Top 10 2015 NHL draft prospects

Ryan Kennedy
Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The 2015 draft has been hyped for quite some time now and the crazy thing is, the season hasn’t even started yet.

Potentially franchise-changing names lie at the top with Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, but it’s also shaping up to be a deep draft.

Here’s a look at 10 players to watch for, but also keep in mind University of Michigan commit Zach Werenski, Chicoutimi’s Nicolas Roy and Ottawa’s Travis Konecny.

1. CONNOR MCDAVID
C, 6-0, 185 LBS, Erie (OHL), 56-28-71-99-20
Can create offense within the blink of an eye. Has been a phenom for years already.

2. JACK EICHEL
C, 6-1, 191 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 53-38-49-87-28
Big, fast and talented, the Boston University commit will keep McDavid on his toes.

3. NOAH HANIFIN
D, 6-2, 201 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 45-8-24-32-34
All-around force would be No. 1 in most draft years. Quebec or Boston College next.

4. OLIVER KYLINGTON
D, 6-0, 174 LBS, Farjestad (Swe.), 32-2-4-6-6
Incredibly fast skater was too valuable to send to under-18s. Farjestad needed him in playoffs.

5. MATT BARZAL
C, 5-11, 171 LBS, Seattle (WHL), 59-14-40-54-20
Brilliant playmaker skates well and made an impact for Canada at the under-18s.

6. PAVEL ZACHA
LW, 6-3, 201 LBS, Liberec (Cze.), 38-4-4-8-10
Incredibly, played most of the season against men. Power forward can wire the puck, too.

7. COLIN WHITE
C, 6-0, 179 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 47-33-30-63-81
Boston College commit is a complete player and leader who can really motor.

8. DYLAN STROME
C, 6-2, 178 LBS, Erie (OHL), 60-10-29-39-11
Great frame, excellent hockey IQ. He’ll produce even more once older Otters move on.

9. KYLE CONNOR
C, 6-1, 170 LBS, Youngstown (USHL), 56-31-43-74-12
Michigan commit is a preternatural scorer. Ranked second in league. Dazzled at under-18s.

10. DANIEL SPRONG
RW, 5-10, 177 LBS, Charlottetown (QMJHL), 67-30-38-68-20
Potent shot, strong on his skates and whip-smart. Sprong was a force for the Islanders.

FAVORITE FOR 2016: It’s not easy to fly under the radar when you play for Team USA’s National Team Development Program, but an early season injury had some folks missing out on Auston Matthews. Luckily, he did his best to jog their memories by putting a big stamp on 2013-14 at the world under-18s.

The Arizona native rang up seven points in seven games en route to the gold medal. Only Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano beat him among Americans. And Matthews did it from the third line.

“He’s unbelievable,” said one scout. “Smooth skating, incredibly skilled two-way guy. You notice him every time he’s on the ice.”

A late-born 1997, Matthews is one of the few major NTDPers yet to make a college commitment, making him a hot commodity coming out of his star turn in Finland.

TOP STUD IN 2017: Famous bloodlines continue to dot the prospect map and one name to watch for is big right winger Nolan Patrick of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.The nephew of former NHLer-turned-coach James Patrick, Nolan is already 6-foot-3, even though he doesn’t turn 16 until September. He was taken fourth overall in the 2013 bantam draft. He has already played 12 games (including the playoffs) for the Wheaties and prides himself on playmaking.

“I have pretty good vision out there,” he said. “I try to use that to my advantage.”

And when he needs advice, Uncle James is always available.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a phone call that wasn’t about hockey,” Nolan said.

Dominic Moore’s charity event for wife & brother a “smashing” success

The Hockey News
Moore & Seguin (courtesy of NHLPA

By Matt Cosman

Players put down the sticks and picked up the paddles Thursday, as host Dominic Moore and a handful of other NHLers came together for a night of ping-pong at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto to raise money and awareness for two causes that have greatly affected Moore’s life.

This year’s Smashfest raised $140,000 for concussions and cancer research. That’s in addition to the $100,000 raised at last year’s event.

“Rare cancers are definitely underrepresented in terms of funding,” said Moore. “And concussions – there’s so much room to go in terms of understanding how they work, and treatments and awareness.”

Fans had the opportunity to interact with players, while some were lucky enough to play alongside an NHLer in the doubles tournament.

Money raised goes toward The Katie Moore Foundation for rare cancers and The Steve Moore Foundation, dedicated to Dominic’s brother Steve, who suffered a career-ending concussion in March 2004. Dominic’s wife, Katie, passed away last year from a rare form of liver cancer. Read more