Connor McDavid poised to become NHL’s first million-dollar endorsement baby

Ken Campbell
Connor McDavid  (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Perhaps Buffalo is not the ideal venue to celebrate a deal that will effectively make Connor McDavid a millionaire before he even sets foot on an NHL ice surface – might be rubbing it in just a little – but equipment giant CCM has a lot to celebrate next week. So does McDavid.

Next week at the annual NHL draft combine in Buffalo, CCM will announce it has extended its deal with the most hyped prospect since Eric Lindros for another five years. It’s a deal that will give the equipment company two of the most recognizable players in the game. But unlike his last deal with CCM during which he has earned a total of about $250,000 for his three years of junior hockey, it’s believed this one is worth $1 million a year, second only to the $1.4 million per year deal Sidney Crosby has, also with CCM. It’s also the richest endorsement contract ever signed by an NHL rookie, making him the league’s first-ever million-dollar endorsement baby.

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Bylsma and Eichel could be more successful in Buffalo than McDavid and Babcock

Dan Bylsma  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

During an off day in Montreal at the World Junior Championship, Dan Bylsma was asked to comment on some of the players in the tournament. There as a game analyst for the NHL Network, Bylsma begged off, saying he didn’t want to jeopardize any possible future relationships with any of the players who were there.

Well, Bylsma will now have a chance to work with one of the biggest names that was there that day. Jack Eichel, who was the captain of the U.S. team for the tournament, will play his first pro years under Bylsma with the Buffalo Sabres. And this can be special. Very special.

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Report: Sabres have agreement in place to hire Dan Bylsma

Jared Clinton
Dan Bylsma. (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nothing is official yet but reports say former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and the Buffalo Sabres have an agreement in place for him to become the next Sabres coach.

According to the Associated Press, Bylsma met with Sabres management on Wednesday and met with the club again Thursday to discuss their vacant coaching position. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had reported earlier that while the deal was likely, Buffalo would wait until it’s formal to make any concrete announcements.

Thursday afternoon, however, the Associated Press’ John Wawrow reported that the two sides have come to an agreement and Bylsma will, in fact, become the Sabres coach pending compensation to the Penguins.
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Blackhawks starting to resemble the Penguins – and that’s not a compliment

Kane & Toews (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks face elimination on home ice Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. And, if the Hawks hold their ground at the United Center, they’ll play another do-or-die affair Saturday night in Orange County.

Whatever happens to Chicago over the next game or two games, good or bad, there’s a creeping sense we’re witnessing the end of something. I can’t help but wonder if this team’s immediate future will increasingly mirror that of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have advanced to round 3, then round 2 and finally round 1 over the past three post-seasons.

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Rumor Roundup: Babcock’s hiring could impact future for Kessel, Phaneuf, Franson

Kessel-Phaneuf (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent hiring of former Detroit Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock continues to raise questions over the impact his arrival will have upon their off-season plans. Of particular interest is how it could affect the future of captain Dion Phaneuf, who was pursued by the Red Wings earlier this season.

MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports the Wings could revisit their interest in the 30-year-old Phaneuf this summer, but the Leafs’ coaching change could take the blueliner off the market. Khan notes that Babcock, during his introductory press conference last week with the Toronto media, claimed to be a fan of Phaneuf and praised his work ethic. Read more

Shero, Bylsma reuniting in New Jersey? Report says Devils granted permission to speak with coach

Jared Clinton
Dan Bylsma. (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

From late in the 2008-09 season until the culmination of the 2013-14 campaign, GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma were the architects behind the Pittsburgh Penguins club that won one Stanley Cup and fell just a few wins short of returning to the final. Now it appears they could be reunited in New Jersey.

According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins are looking for a way to acquire additional draft picks in the first few rounds of the 2015 draft and one option might be to land compensation for another team hiring Bylsma, who is still under contract with the club even though he was relieved of his duties following the 2013-14 campaign. And, Molinari reports, while it’s known that Bylsma has interviewed for the openings in Buffalo and San Jose, it’s believed that he has also been given permission to talk to New Jersey about their opening behind the bench.

With Shero taking over the GM duties in New Jersey, it would seem like Bylsma heading to the Devils could be a reunion waiting to happen. Read more

5 Stanley Cup-winning goalies who were “just OK”

Antti Niemi

A hot goalie can take his team deep into the playoffs, but a cold one can also go pretty far with a strong enough team in front of him. A goaltender has won the Conn Smythe Trophy six out of the last 20 years, but we’ve also seen some pretty mediocre performances from Stanley Cup champion goalies.

We may well be in for another one this year. The Ducks’ Frederik Andersen is the only remaining goalie in the playoffs with a goals-against average under 2.00, and the rest of the pack have all had their struggles this post-season. Henrik Lundqvist is just getting over allowing 12 goals in two games, and Ben Bishop just allowed five goals in back-to-back appearances. Then there’s Corey Crawford, who temporarily lost his net to Scott Darling earlier this post-season.

The goaltending hasn’t been great, but does that mean Andersen is the odds-on favourite to win the Cup this year? Or will a mediocre performance in net be enough to carry the Rangers, Lightning or Blackhawks to the final?

The latter is certainly possible. Just look at these five netminders. To quote former Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, these guys were OK. Just OK.
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Top 10 coaches by points percentage: Where does Mike Babcock sit?

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been mired in the basement of the NHL for several seasons, but the hiring of coach Mike Babcock is giving Leafs Nation a reason for hope for a better and much brighter future.

While he hasn’t coached long enough to make the top 10 all-time wins list, Babcock does have the most of any coach to be behind the bench for fewer than 1,000 games. As such, he has managed to become one of the effective coaches in the history of the game.

In order to better represent who exactly the top 10 coaches by points percentage are, however, we have to set a limit of at least 100 games as an NHL bench boss. Otherwise some coaches, like Cap Raeder, who was the fill-in coach for the San Jose Sharks for one game – a victory – have near perfect winning percentages without really having control of the club.

Here are the top 10 best coaches by points percentage: Read more