Fantasy Pool Look: Sharks, Blues off-season outlooks

Joe Thornton and PAtrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s the 12th annual off-season review of each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. Today, the Sharks and the Blues are on the docket.

San Jose Sharks
Gone – Martin Havlat, Brad Stuart, Dan Boyle

Incoming – Michael Haley, Tye McGinn, John Scott, Taylor Fedun

Ready for full time – Freddie Hamilton is ready to take on a third- or fourth-line checking role. He probably doesn’t have scoring-line upside in the NHL, but he may be able to carve out a career on the third line as a potential 40-point player. However, that won’t be this year and given the Sharks’ depth at center he may not be called up until mid-season.

Matt Tennyson was a big college free agent signing in 2012 and after two seasons in the minors he’s getting closer. His minus-25 rating with Worcester last season indicates that perhaps he could use at least another half season, but he projects as a second-pairing guy who could chip in on the second power play unit. Read more

Will any GM ever have a summer like Lou Lamoriello did in 1991?

The cover of the Sept. 20, 1991 edition of The Hockey News questions the landmark ruling that made Scott Stevens a Devil.

If Scott Gomez and/or Tomas Kaberle make the New Jersey Devils this season and contribute in a meaningful way, GM Lou Lamoriello will be able to claim another feather for a cap that is already bursting with plumage. The veterans are reclamation projects, looking to revive careers that are ever-so-gently flickering.

Barring the spectacularly unforeseen, however, those potential additions won’t be able to match the magic Lamoriello performed 23 years ago.

In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we remember the incredible summer of 1991, when the Devils acquired Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer via a series of head-scratching events.

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St. Louis Blues get a new jersey – what do you think?

Rory Boylen
Image via Chris Creamer.

Monday night, the St. Louis Blues unveiled their new jersey designs for the 2014-15 season at the Ice Breaker fan event. We’re already fans of the Blues logo, having ranked them third in the NHL in our logo rankings last week, and now we like their jerseys even more.

The team says the “uniforms reflect a modernized version of the classic look worn by the team from 1998-2007. The uniform leaves the Blue Note unchanged, symbolizing the club’s pride in one of the greatest logos in all of sports.”

What do you think? Read more

Chris Stewart on Sabres season: “Tanking is not in my DNA”

Matt Larkin
Chris Stewart

It’s hard not to think of Chris Stewart’s 2013-14 season as a slow, smothering banishment. He entered the season with St. Louis as its reigning top scorer, but that feels like an eternity ago. He struggled to find his consistency and fell as far as the fourth line.

Then came the trade to the lowly Sabres, with Stewart heading to Buffalo as part of the Ryan Miller swap. Looking back on it, plenty of players would sugarcoat their feelings and talk about what a great opportunity it was. Not Stewart. He tells it like it is, which is extremely refreshing.

“It was kind of frustrating,” Stewart said. “Being traded from the first place to the last place team in the league, that was definitely a surprise. But I got there, and I’m willing to go anywhere a team wants me and is going to show me that respect, give me a chance to showcase my talents. So I’m excited to be there. We made a lot of changes in the off-season. We’re going to have a team next year with Teddy Nolan leading the charge. We’re going to be ready to compete and surprise a lot of teams.”

And where does Stewart fit into that puzzle? You never know what you’re going to get with him performance-wise. There’s no doubting his raw ability. He’s a hulking power forward, 6-foot-2 and an honest 231 pounds, and still squarely in his prime at 26. He’s a legitimate goal scorer when he’s focused and on his game, having notched 28 twice. He’s capable of taking a team on his back when he’s hot. He sniped 15 goals in 26 games after the Colorado Avalanche traded him to St. Louis during the 2010-11 season.

On the other hand, coaches have called Stewart’s work ethic into question on and off throughout his career. This is a talented player, with a first-round draft pedigree, and his coaches expect high output from him every game. When they haven’t gotten that, they’ve pushed Stewart down the depth chart and even into the press box on occasion.

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NHL logo rankings No. 3: St. Louis Blues

Rory Boylen
bluesmain

We’re nearing the end of our NHL logo rankings and today we crack the top three with the St. Louis Blues.

The Blue Note has represented St. Louis’ NHL team since its inception in 1967, with some alterations along the way. It’s a symbol that stands not just for the team, but the city and region, which is renowned for its history of jazz and blues music. The color blue is an obvious fit with the name and is accentuated with a yellow that used to take up more space on the logo and jersey.

What we liked about the design were the colors and stylized look that jumps at you. It’s clean, to the point and representative of the city. It’s a slick look that’s easily identifiable. What else can you ask for from a team named the Blues?

If you think you can design something better, now’s your chance. Send your redesigned St. Louis Blues logo to editorial@thehockeynews.com and next week we’ll run all our favorite reader submissions from each NHL team.

HISTORY OF THE BLUES LOGO
In 1967, the St. Louis Blues were one of six expansion franchises that were added on to the NHL’s Original Six. What would the new team be called? For owner Sid Saloman Jr., it was an easy decision. From the St. Louis Blues website:

“The name of the team has to be the Blues,” exclaimed Salomon after being awarded the new franchise. “It’s part of the city where W.C. Handy composed his famed song while thinking of his girl one morning.”

Handy wrote a song called St. Louis Blues, which you can listen to here.

At first, the newly structured NHL was split into Eastern and Western conferences, with the Original Six in the East and the expansion teams in the West. The competition was very lopsided and though the Blues made it to the Stanley Cup final in each of their first three seasons, they were swept every time, twice by the Habs and once by the Bruins.

The original St. Louis Blues logo had the recognizable blue note inside a yellow cycle that said “St. Louis Blues” and “National Hockey League.”

blues1

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Getting To Know: Curt Bennett

Curt Bennett (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Status: NHL center/winger for St. Louis, Atlanta and the Rangers from 1970 to 1980. Resides in Maui, where he owns Hawaii Waterfalls, which creates rock ponds and waterfalls. He also works in real estate.

Career Accomplishments: Played college hockey at Brown University, where he was NCAA first-team all-American in ’70; selected 16th overall in the ’68 Amateur Draft by St. Louis; played in the NHL All-Star Game in ’75 and ’76; scored 152 goals in 580 NHL games; scored 34 goals for Atlanta in ’75-76; played two years of pro hockey in Japan in the early ’80s.

HT: 6-foot-3 WT: 195 pounds

DOB: March 27, 1948 IN: Regina, Sask.

First Hockey Memory: “When I was a little kid in Rhode Island, my dad was the goaltender for the Providence Reds. I went with him to practice. Back then I couldn’t get my skates tight enough and one of the players on the Reds tied them for me, nice and tight. I was about three.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Could Marc Staal join his brothers with the Hurricanes?

Marc Staal (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should get busy re-signing defenseman Marc Staal. The 27-year-old blueliner is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. His cap hit for this season is $3.98 million.

Barring another concussion for Staal, Brooks believes the blueliner could command at least a six-year deal worth $5.5 million annually. If the Rangers don’t believe Staal’s worth that much, Brooks recommends investigating his trade value.

The Carolina Hurricanes could be among the clubs willing to pursue Staal via trade this season or free agency next summer. Brothers Eric and Jordan are already on the Hurricanes roster. Perhaps the addition of Marc could provide extra incentive for Eric – whose contract expires in 2016 – to sign an extension next summer. Read more

Which franchise will be the next to win its first-ever Stanley Cup?

Wild-Blues

We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:

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