Futures mailbag: Canada’s top WJC center, the best for 2017 and more

Brayden Point (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

It’s mailbag time, folks. We’ve got some very interesting questions this week, concerning prospects from many different levels. Most developmental leagues have already begun play (American prep and high schools are still on the sidelines), so there’s actual action to consider, though naturally we’re just at the start of what is shaping up to be a very fun 2015-16 campaign. If you have a question, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and use the hashtag #thnfutures so I don’t miss it.

Let’s get to it.

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Awesomeness of 3-on-3 OT proven by Philadelphia and Tampa

Ryan Kennedy
Jason Garrison scores on Steve Mason (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

The shootout has very few fans in hockey, but there was also some reticence towards 3-on-3 overtime, one of this season’s new wrinkles. Would coaches adapt and turn the open ice into a snorefest? Nope.

Even with the benefit of time, I can’t see even the stodgiest bench bosses having any effect on 3-on-3 and last night’s Philadelphia-Tampa Bay game was the perfect example. Simply put, the end-to-end action was insane and endlessly entertaining. Let’s go to the videotape:

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Rumor Roundup: Potential UFAs Kopitar, Stamkos, Staal still without extensions

Anze Kopitar  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

With the new NHL season fast approaching, several potential UFA stars appear no closer to re-signing with their current teams. The status of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal remains a hot topic in the rumor mill.

The Tampa Bay Time’s Joe Smith reports the 25-year-old Stamkos denied recent trade speculation tying him to the Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. The longer Stamkos remains unsigned, Smith believes more trade rumors will dog the Lightning captain this season.

As for Kopitar, ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides seem no closer to an agreement, though talks remain positive. Kopitar, 28, would like to get a deal done before the start of the season. There’s no word yet if he’ll shut down negotiations once the season begins. Read more

Futures mailbag: Adam Erne’s upside, the NHL’s sneaky prospect and more

Adam Erne  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Real hockey is here, folks. Erie’s Alex DeBrincat scored five goals against Niagara Thursday night and he did it without Connor McDavid or Dylan Strome – so he’s got that going for him. A lot of 2015 draft prospects seem to be sticking around for the start of the NHL’s regular season and one of those kids comes up in a question below. If you have a query about prospects and the draft, look me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and include the hashtag #thnfutures. You may see the answer in the coming weeks. Let’s get to the bag.

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Simon Gagne’s five greatest moments in honor of his 14-year career

(Fracois Lacasse/Getty Images)

After a 14-year career in the NHL, Simon Gagne officially announced his retirement from the NHL Tuesday.

While the past few years of his career were difficult — he bounced around from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles to Philadelphia and finally to Boston in his final three seasons — Gagne, 35, retires with quite the trophy case and more than a few memorable moments in his career.

The Ste. Foy, Que., native was a first-round pick of the Flyers in 1998, taken with the 22nd overall selection. With his career officially coming to an end Tuesday, Gagne finishes as the eighth-highest scoring player to come out of the 1998 draft with 291 goals and 601 points over his 14 seasons.

Without question, Gagne’s best years came in Philadelphia and it’s no surprise that moments from his time with the Flyers make up more than half of his top-five career moments. Read more

Steven Stamkos versus flying robots? Yes, please

Matt Larkin

Some things in life need little introduction.

Do you like Steven Stamkos? Yes.

Do you like seeing Steven Stamkos do crazy things with a puck? Yes.

Do flying drone robots, equipped with tiny targets, fascinate you when placed in a hockey rink? Yes.

Is it a good idea for Stamkos to battle the drones, armed with a stick, a puck and his laser-like shot? Of course.

Let’s enjoy the sum of those parts, courtesy of a Sport Chek promo video:

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THN’s 2015-16 NHL season preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

The Hockey News
Steven Stamkos (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

2014-15 Record: 50-24-8 (108 pts.)

THN’s Prediction: 1st, Atlantic Division

What To Expect: Steve Yzerman didn’t meddle much with his roster this summer. And wisely so, as the GM recognizes his young team, whose Stanley Cup window just opened and should remain open for years, can improve from within. Only two Bolts will be older than 30 when the season opens, while 11 regulars will be 25 or younger. That includes Tampa’s top four scorers and No. 1 defenseman Victor Hedman. Thus, we know what to expect out of the Lightning, last season’s top scoring team and Eastern Conference champion. This impressive group will be even better. Read more

Lightning’s Johnson still dealing with wrist injury as training camp approaches

Jared Clinton
Tyler Johnson  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Though he didn’t miss a single game of the Stanley Cup final, it was clear Tampa Bay Lightning standout Tyler Johnson was battling through a significant injury. And even though he has had the summer to heal, Johnson says he’s still not quite at 100 percent.

“It’s progressing,” Johnson told the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson. “I don’t know if I would say that it’s 100 percent, but it’s getting there. It feels better every day, so it’s one of those things now that it just keeps getting strength and it feels better.”

Exactly how bad Johnson’s injury was has never been revealed — all that’s known is that his broken wrist didn’t require him to undergo surgery. Johnson, 25, injured the wrist on a hit from Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Brent Seabrook in the opening game of the final and, though he was the post-season’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 23 points, he was held to just one goal and three points in the final, in part due to the injury. Read more