As the season begins to wind down, we’re starting to see some hardware handed out in the prospect ranks. Toronto Maple Leafs hopeful Mitch Marner, for example, just won the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s most outstanding player for his work with the London Knights. Another OHL award-winner is featured below in my weekly wrap-up. Elsewhere in the hockey world, the USHL is in the middle of its two-stage draft. During Phase 1 (for 2000 birthdays), Sioux Falls landed competitive center Gavin Hain with the No. 1 pick. Phase 2 (for 1999s and earlier) happened today. And speaking of the USHL, let’s get to this week’s round-up:
Erik Karlsson has a chance to win his second straight Norris Trophy and third since 2012, but a couple defensemen seeking their first prize stand in his way.
The Ottawa Senators captain was named a nominee for the league’s top blueliner award on Friday, joining Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty and Pacific Division rival Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks.
That Karlsson is yet again up for the award given to “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position” comes as little surprise.
The Senators have spent the past 20 seasons playing in nearby Kanata, which is located just outside of Ottawa, but the team took a big step towards heading back into the heart of Canada’s capital after winning a development bid for a 53-acre site situated west of downtown Ottawa.
At a vote Thursday, the National Capital Commission chose to proceed into negotiations with RendezVous LeBreton Group, which is backed by the Senators, concerning the future development of the LeBreton Flats site. The development bid, called IllumiNATION LeBreton, includes five neighborhoods, an aqueduct that can be turned into a skating path in winter and, of course, a brand new arena that would play host to the Senators.
“I’m so glad we won,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said of the decision, via CBC’s Paul Jay. “I know that we’re going to deliver on everything we said we would do, and I think it’s going to change the landscape of this city, for sure. It’s going to be a huge, huge win all around.” Read more
While the Toronto Maple Leafs made progress in the first season of their rebuild, they still lack a quality starting goaltender. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons notes the only reason for Jonathan Bernier’s return next season is the year remaining on his contract. He thinks the Leafs could accelerate their rebuild with an upgrade in the crease.
Finding a good goalie this summer won’t be easy. There are slim pickings via unrestricted free agency, with former Leaf James Reimer the best of the bunch. It’s unlikely they’ll bring him back.
Options are also few in the trade market. Last month, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello scouted Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks.
Andersen, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. If the Ducks are committed to John Gibson as their starter, Andersen could be shopped this summer. The Leafs could face competition for his services, as the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes could also come calling. Read more
Last week we talked about how close the Hart Trophy race will be, but it’s got nothing on this year’s Norris Trophy showdown.
Not only are there four or five very worthy top candidates for the award, it’s also one of the most contentious award decisions for voters. There’s a heated debate about scoring totals vs. defensive play, or being on a winning team vs. a losing team. You can’t ignore advanced stats either.
So let’s sort it out right now and decide who should win this year’s Norris Trophy.
By Mo Cranker
Over the past two seasons, we’ve witnessed the Senators experience some very high, highs and some pretty low, lows.
The Senators ended last season on a historic run, being the first team in NHL history to be 14 points out of a playoff spot at the beginning of February to end up making the post-season.
This year, after a decent start, the Sens fell pretty flat and finished 19th in the league, resulting in changes in the front office and behind the bench.
Before the Boston Bruins announced Thursday that Claude Julien will be coming back next season – he might want to freshen up that resume though, you know, just in case – it was assumed that it were let go that he’d instantly head to the top of the list of candidates to coach the Ottawa Senators.
Julien is one of the best, if not the best, coach in hockey today. What’s to say that a bench boss of that ilk would even want to coach the Senators? First, you’re working for a loose cannon. Second, you’re working for a loose cannon that owns a budget team. It’s one thing to be wildly eccentric and rich, a la George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones. It’s quite another to work for a guy who writes checks with his mouth that his team’s bank account can’t cash.
Monday was locker clean-out day for the 14 NHL teams that failed to qualify for the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was also time for some general managers and players to field questions from the media regarding their off-season plans.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin attempted to squelch recent trade rumors about defenseman P.K. Subban. The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports Bergevin said he’s not shopping the 26-year-old superstar or other core players such as goaltender Carey Price and left winger Max Pacioretty.
Bergevin, however, didn’t state that Subban is untouchable. With the blueliner’s no-trade clause kicking in on July 1, his name could resurface in the trade rumor mill by late-June. TSN analysts Darren Dreger and Jamie McLennan suggest Bergevin is merely keeping his options open. While acknowledging he could listen to offers, both doubt that Subban’s going anywhere this summer.