World Cup 2016: What would the Euro all-star team look like?

Matt Larkin
Anze Kopitar would be the Eurostar team's lone Slovenian, but the top forward nonetheless. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Nothing beats the best-on-best excitement of the Olympics. But, hey, World Cup organizers for 2016 deserve credit for tabling something interesting. The new tournament would be self-serving for the NHL, as it would collect the revenue it doesn’t receive from the IIHF’s Winter Games. But it’s more than that. The proposed format creates an intriguing fantasy-draft scenario that would be fun for the fans.

The World Cup would give us the six staple nations: Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. Rounding out an eight-team pool would be two All-Star squads. One would draw from the remaining pool of nations, including Slovakia, Germany, Austria and Kopitarville Slovenia. The other remains shrouded in mystery but could be comprised of the best young players in the game.

The Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger took a brief crack at a proposed all-star roster a couple weeks ago. I tip my hat to him as I attempt to take the idea further. Let’s focus on the concrete idea: the Euro squad. How would this team look as a 25-man roster? And could it compete with the big dogs?

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Who’s for real – the Flames or the Predators?

Adam Proteau
Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Calgary and Nashville have some things in common: they’re the epicenters of their country’s country music scene; they’ve had Terry Crisp, Olli Jokinen and a defenseman named Suter working for their respective NHL team; and those two organizations currently are shocking the hockey world by being tied for third place in the Western Conference.

The expectations for the Flames and Predators were considerably different coming into the 2014-15 campaign: the latter made a slew of veteran additions on the ice and behind the bench in the hope of getting back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12, while the former was in full-on rebuild mode. But with both off to such a strong start, the natural question is: which of the two will be ahead of the other in the standings by the end of the season?

My answer: the Predators. And here’s why.

For one thing, Norris Trophy-nominated defenseman Shea Weber. For another thing, Vezina Trophy-nominated goalie Pekka Rinne. Nothing personal against Mark Giordano or Jonas Hiller, both of whom are enjoying all-star-caliber seasons for the Flames, but neither Calgary player has elevated his game to be considered among the best of the very best. Until Giordano and Hiller demonstrate consistency at that level, it’s fair to give the benefit of the doubt to the team that has the two better players on its roster. Read more

THN experts predict 2014-15 NHL season

The Hockey News
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Every summer, THN’s editorial staff gathers together to make our collective picks for our annual Yearbook and Poolbook editions. But that doesn’t mean we all agree. We don’t. In some cases, our writers and editors disagree drastically with each other on how they see the coming NHL season playing out. To give you an idea, here are our staff members’ individual picks for the winners of each division, conference playoff finalists, and Stanley Cup champion:

THN_Expert_Picks_2014-15
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2014-15 NHL predictions: Standings, awards and Stanley Cup picks

The Hockey News
chicagoblackhawks

Weeks ago, the THN team gathered to debate and argue over the 2014-15 NHL standings as we went through the league team by team. We shared our final predictions in the annual Yearbook and ran individual breakdowns of each team over the past month. In our Season Preview magazine, we took it a step further and picked our winners for the major individual awards.

Here, on one easy page, are THN’s official predictions for the 2014-15 NHL season. Read more

THN’s top 200 fantasy players for 2014-15

Matt Larkin
Johnny Gaudreau's impressive pre-season has him shooting up the fantasy draft rankings, including THN's. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Last chance to cram. The 2014-15 NHL season starts Wednesday, and a bunch of fantasy leagues still have drafting to do. I’m here to provide some 11th-hour help.

Most of what you need to know is in our crackerjack THN Ultimate Fantasy Guide, which is on newsstands now. You’ll even find a sorted list of the top 300 projected scorers.

One thing that list doesn’t cover, however, is any league not based entirely on points. What about the head-to-head formats in which you accumulate goaltending stats and penalty minutes on top of your offensive numbers? How do you know when to draft a goalie or defenseman over a forward?

I present to you a new ranking set. This list is based on a standard Yahoo head-to-head format with the following categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power play points, shots on goal, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

Personally, I like scrapping penalty minutes for hits and adding saves to the goalie category, but I’ll stick with the standard configuration to ensure these rankings have a wider reach. Let’s get it on!

OCT. 6 UPDATE: The pre-season winds down, and we’ve learned a few things, from injuries to projected line combinations to buzzy rookies. With those factors in mind, here are my final rankings for 2014-15 drafts.

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Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Drouin consensus fantasy hockey picks of expert panel

The Hockey News
Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby (Getty Images)

Fantasy hockey aficionados always have tons of questions about the NHL. So do people who work in the industry. That includes former players who, in their post-career days, became media analysts. THN canvassed a half-dozen of them in the off-season to answer 20 questions on a variety of fantasy-related topics.

1. What do you prefer: a straight points fantasy league or a head-to-head fantasy league with different stat categories?

Jeff O’Neill, analyst, TSN: Different stat categories. So many ways a player can show his importance.

Jamie McLennan, analyst, TSN: Straight points league.

Matthew Barnaby, TV/Radio analyst: Points. I like playing players as a whole, not a different team each week.

Mike Johnson, analyst, Sportsnet: Straight points. Easier to manage and follow.

P.J. Stock, analyst, Sportsnet: Straight forward points. The fewer math calculations I have to do…

Kevin Weekes, analyst, NHL Network: Head-to-head. It gives the players a more realistic feel.

2. What’s the earliest fantasy round you’d draft a goalie in?

O’Neill: Fourth round. I want to load up on studs.

McLennan: First round. Goalies always draft other goalies.

Barnaby: I never take a goalie early. Always look at about my seventh pick.

Johnson: Eighth round. You can find value in the depth around the league.

Stock: Late rounds. They are all so good.

Weekes: No limits. If he’s an impact player, why wouldn’t you pick him early?

3. Who wins the 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy?

O’Neill: Sid. He’s the one player in the league that beat everyone by 20 or more points.

McLennan: Crosby. I see him looking for redemption for his playoff failure.

Barnaby: Crosby. Won by almost 20 points last year and has more to prove.

Johnson: Sidney Crosby.

Stock: Crosby. Did it on injury-plagued team & should have no problem repeating.

Weekes: Steven Stamkos. Read more

Power ranking: The top 25 teams in college hockey

Ryan Kennedy
Can Minnesota win it all? (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

On Friday, I revealed my top 50 players to watch for in the NCAA this season. To complete the puzzle, I have now ranked the top 25 teams. More than any other circuit, college hockey has a strange duality. You have schools with rosters filled with NHL prospects, usually in their late teens or early 20s, and then there are other squads made up of 23 players who are 23 years old and have come together for one amazing season.

Some of the following teams had multiple entries on my top 50 players list, while others had none at all (and frankly didn’t come close). But they all have a shot at the national championship, so let’s give them their due.

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THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Hockey News
Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 51-24-7

Acquisitions: Steve Downie, Taylor Chorney, Christian Ehrhoff, Blake Comeau, Thomas Greiss, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling

Departures: Lee Stempniak, Brian Gibbons, Chuck Kobasew, Harry Zolnierczyk, Matt Niskanen, Chris Conner, Brooks Orpik, Joe Vitale, Jussi Jokinen, Tanner Glass, Deryk Engelland, James Neal

Top five fantasy options: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Once again the Penguins are blessed with two of the best players in the world up front in centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. In any given year, both are a threat for the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and provide matchup nightmares for opponents. Read more