BUFFALO – Night 1 of the 2016 NHL draft gave us a bit of everything, a blend of expectant nods and wide-eyed gasps.
We saw the predictable occur. Auston Matthews went first overall, Patrik Laine second. The Calgary Flames acquired a goaltender in Brian Elliott. The Chicago Blackhawks squeezed another forward out because of their salary-cap crunch in Andrew Shaw, dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. The Detroit Red Wings shipped Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5-million cap hit to the one team we knew would take it: the Arizona Coyotes, striving for the salary floor.
We saw plenty of shocking moments, too. Pierre-Luc Dubois, the draft’s swing pick, usurped Jesse Puljujarvi, seemingly the consensus No. 3 overall selection. The Wings went off the board on Dennis Cholowski at No. 20 overall. We had him 37th in our 2016 Draft Preview, for what it’s worth.
But plenty of hyped storylines remain unresolved entering Day 2 of the draft. Let’s review a few.
As the 2016 NHL draft draws near, trade activity is picking up. On Monday, the Anaheim Ducks shipped goaltender Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs for two draft picks, the New York Rangers dealt defenseman Keith Yandle‘s rights to the Florida Panthers, while the Nashville Predators dealt the rights of college prospect Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Panthers acquisition of Yandle’s rights makes sense if Brian Campbell departs via free agency on July 1. The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports Panthers GM Tom Rowe expects Campbell, 37, to test the market.
It also douses recent trade speculation involving Panthers blueliner Dmitry Kulikov. The Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov claims the Panthers frequently get inquiries about the 24-year-old blueliner but he’s not on the trade block.
Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins will celebrate their 2016 Stanley Cup victory with a banner-raising ceremony in front of one of the Penguins, and Crosby’s, greatest rivals: Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
It will be the second Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony for the Penguins during the Crosby era, but the first time one will be hoisted to the rafters of the CONSOL Energy Center ahead of the season. The Penguins three past championships came while the team was playing in Civic Arena, also known as the Mellon Arena. Two of the banners were raised during Mario Lemieux’s heyday, with the third coming in October 2010, early in Crosby’s career, in front of the New York Rangers.
The Penguins weren’t the only team to announce their home-opener Monday, though they’ll be the only team raising a Stanley Cup banner. All 30 teams announced their first home date of the 2016-17 season, and there are several other matchups that should make for excellent season debuts for the home sides. Read more
In recent weeks, Colorado Avalanche restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie was a hot topic in the trade rumor mill. But according to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, the 24-year-old blueliner isn’t going anywhere.
The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Sakic said he’ll be meeting with Barrie’s agents during the upcoming NHL draft in hopes of working out a new long-term contract.
Sakic tells Chambers that if they cannot work out a new agreement, it’s expected Barrie will head to arbitration. “Either way, he’ll be here,” said the Avs GM.
It’s possible Sakic called his rival GMs to gauge their level of interest in Barrie and the type of return he might fetch. That could account for the recent speculation involving Barrie. Taking Sakic at his word, it’s evident the Avs wish to keep Barrie in the fold for at least the immediate future.
The most significant injury — and the one with the longest recovery time — the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to deal with after the post-season appears to be one to a player who didn’t even see the ice in the Stanley Cup final.
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Daniel Sprong, who played 18 games with the Penguins this past season, will be out 7-8 months following off-season surgery on his right shoulder. The 19-year-old started the season with the Penguins and earned his way onto the roster out of training camp, but after re-joining the team following his time with the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders the rookie fell injured during practice as one of the Penguins’ ‘Black Aces’ in the post-season.
The 7-8 month timeline for return means it’s unlikely Sprong finds his way onto the NHL roster before the second half of the 2016-17 season and means he could be out until after the all-star break. Read more
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a major off-season decision to make in goal, and it might be the best problem a team could have. Instead of the Penguins seeking a starting netminder or a goaltender to solidify their crease, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford needs to figure out how his team is going to proceed with their two legitimate starting goaltenders.
Matt Murray’s post-season play, which had the rookie netminder in the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy, has potentially vaulted him to the top of the Penguins depth chart in goal. Murray, 22, posted solid numbers in the regular season, has blown competition away in the AHL and his post-season performance was inspiring. But veteran netminder Marc-Andre Fleury was the Penguins’ rock during the regular season and Rutherford didn’t fail to recognize that Fleury is coming off of arguably his best season as a professional.
“If it wasn’t for Fleury’s play, we probably wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” Rutherford said. “He really carried this team, especially in the first half of the season when we need to have really good goaltending. Of course, he got hurt. Matt took over, (but) Matt was going to get some games down the stretch anyway. That was always the plan.” Read more
The post-season injury lists for the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks will begin filtering out over the next few weeks, but the strangest tale of all may have already been revealed.
During his end of season meeting with media, Penguins center Nick Bonino said that he had to battle through some serious situations during the final two rounds of the post-season. Bonino said that during the Stanley Cup final he was dealing with an infection in his elbow that had him on medication and a fever so high — over 101, according to Bonino — that he had to be kept away from his family.
“They were going to shut me down for the year,” Bonino said. “I was on a ton of antibiotics, getting IVs every day at the hospital. The doctors did a really good job keeping my elbow healthy. I don’t think I practiced the whole (Stanley Cup final). Guys were ripping me for it because I could just play games, didn’t have to practice anymore. I rested up and then we got it done…I was quarantined in the hotel, I wasn’t even living at home. They didn’t want me around the baby.” Read more
The Stanley Cup drought may not be over for the Maple Leafs, but fans in Toronto might get a day with the trophy.
Ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup parade, Sportsnet 590’s Joey Vendetta spoke with Phil Kessel, who said he hasn’t quite made up his mind about what his plans are for his day with the Stanley Cup. Most might have assumed that Kessel would take the Stanley Cup back to his home, Madison, Wis., but the 28-year-old said he might be taking the trophy back to Toronto.
“I probably will end up bringing it back (to Toronto). Nothing for sure yet, nothing’s been decided, but I think there’s a good chance that’ll happen,” Kessel told Vendetta. “I have a lot of friends in Toronto. That’s kinda where I spend most of my time now.” Read more