Year in review: Top 10 trades of 2015

Brandon Saad (via Columbus Blue Jackets/Twitter)

Be it trade deadline deals or big off-season moves, 2015 wasn’t short on big names getting moved in the hockey world. Cap crunches and playoffs misses yielded the trades of core players, while some big name deals had the hockey world shocked at how quickly things can change.

Here are your top 10 trades of 2015: Read more

Year in review: The Top 10 stories of 2015

Patrick Kane.

Year in review: The Top 10 stories of 2015

The 2015 calendar year was a unique one. By some accounts it was quiet, given there were no major events, like the Olympics in 2014 and World Cup to come in 2015. But both on and off the ice 2015 had several memorable moments and storylines.

Here is the top 10:

10. Anaheim Ducks struggle

Back in May the Ducks looked primed for another Stanley Cup. They tore through the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Winnipeg Jets and needing just five games to beat the Calgary Flames. They also led the Western final against the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. But the Blackhwaks, of course, rallied to win games five and six and went on to win the Cup.

Despite the Game 7 loss, the Ducks appeared to be a team on the rise. They were a popular pick to win the Cup in 2016 (including by The Hockey News). But the second half of 2015 has been a nightmare. The Ducks have scored by far the fewest goals in the NHL to begin the 2015-16 season, and sit last in the poor Pacific Division, and second last overall.

As 2015 comes to a close you have to wonder which Ducks team shows up in 2016.

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Advanced stats show Panthers, Penguins trending up, Capitals, Canucks trending down

Florida Panthers (Getty Images)

As the month winds down, it’s time to look at which teams have been hot (or not) going into the New Year. Most people would take that to mean who got the most points during December, but with the NHL’s new numbers movement we can dig a little deeper than that. What’s more interesting is which teams actively improved (or degraded) their game regardless of results and identifying which teams are trending in the right or wrong direction.

Most people generally use shot rates to measure the direction a team is going as they can be good indicators of a team’s true talent level. Shot rates fluctuate throughout the year and that movement is worth keeping an eye on. That’s what this trend report is all about because how a team is playing lately is usually a good indication of what’s to come in the future.

Here are three teams going in the right direction and three teams trending the other way: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Canadiens could be after scoring punch on trade market

Wayne Simmonds. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Montreal Canadiens struggling to score and tumbling in the standings, there’s considerable speculation another trade could be in the works after the recent holiday freeze ended at midnight on Dec. 27.

The reported trade of Zack Kassian to the Edmonton Oilers happened early Monday morning, and the Canadiens received goaltender Ben Scrivens in return which could help shore up the goaltending situation. That doesn’t help the Canadiens acquire more offensive punch, though.

Le Journal de Montreal’s Pierre Durocher claims Habs forward Alex Galchenyuk surfaced in the rumor mill. It could take a promising youngster like the 21-year-old Galchenyuk to attract an established offensive player. Gagnon reports GM Marc Bergevin is rumored to have interest in Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds. However, there’s little indication the Flyers are keen to ship out Simmonds.

Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests the Flyers should move backup goalie Michal Neuvirth while his trade value is high. He believes it’ll be worthwhile if the Flyers can get “a high draft pick, a backup goalie” and someone to take the fading Vincent Lecavalier’s contract off their hands.

He feels Montreal could be a prime destination, but the Habs primary issue is their lack of scoring and Scrivens fills the goaltending spot the Canadiens were looking to fill. Bergevin won’t take on Lecavalier’s $4.5-million cap hit through 2017-18 unless he’s getting someone like Simmonds as part of the return. Even then, the Habs GM could balk at that asking price.

KOMAROV POTENTIAL TRADE CHIP?

TSN’s Darren Dreger created a bit of a buzz before Christmas by suggesting Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov could fetch a late first-round pick if he’s put on the trade block. Komarov, 28, is playing the best hockey of his brief NHL career, on pace for a 36-goal, 58-point campaign.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons, however, quickly dismissed that notion. He claims the Leafs have no intention of moving Komarov unless they get a mind-blowing offer.

Even if the Leafs decide to move Komarov, it won’t happen until near the trade deadline. While he’s always been a solid checking forward with a decent offensive touch, it remains to be seen if he can maintain his current production over a full season. He’s also seeing top-six minutes on a talent-thin roster this season.

For a rebuilding club like the Leafs, it would be wiser to retain a character player like Komarov. He could provide leadership for promising young forwards like William Nylander and Mitch Marner when they make their anticipated jump to the Leafs lineup next season.

PANTHERS SEEKING GOALTENDER?

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks recently reported the Florida Panthers had interest in goaltender Cam Talbot prior to the New York Rangers shipping him to the Edmonton Oilers last June. Brooks suggested it would be unsurprising if they took another run at landing the 27-year-old netminder to bolster their depth between the pipes.

Goaltending, however, is among the Panthers’ strengths this season. Starter Roberto Luongo continues to put up solid numbers, while 30-year-old backup Al Montoya has better stats than Talbot. Indeed, Panthers coach Gerard Gallant recently praised his current tandem for their strong play.

The Panthers could be busy leading up to the NHL trade deadline. Earlier this month, GM Dale Tallon acknowledged he’ll be in the market for a scorer. Adding a goaltender, however, is the least of his concerns.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

William Nylander makes early exit from world juniors after hit to the head

Ian Denomme
William Nylander (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The 2016 World Junior Championship may already be without one of its marquee attractions. Sweden’s William Nylander took a blindside hit to the head in the first period against Switzerland on Saturday and left the game.

Nylander, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first-round pick in 2014, was skating through the neutral zone when he was blindsided by Chris Egli.

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Maple Leafs pick Mitch Marner ready to step into spotlight at World Junior Championship

The Hockey News
Mitch Marner. (Werner Krainbucher/Hockey Hall of Fame)

By Jason Buckland

The leg was shaking now, faster and faster, the heart thumping so swiftly it seemed his chest could no longer hold it inside. Mitch Marner couldn’t think, his mind unable to focus or settle. He turned to his father, Paul, who looked back at his son. “Relax,” Dad said, reaching out for his boy. “It’s going to be OK.”

It was June 26, inside the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. For Marner, it was some distance away from home, near Toronto, which happened to be the city playing into all this anxiety to begin with. At 18, Marner was one of the finest hockey prospects in the world, but suddenly, as the 2015 draft sped along, there was Marner left on the board at pick No. 4. Next on the clock: the Maple Leafs.

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Why Sweden is the favorite to win this year’s World Junior Championship

William Nylander (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The reason the World Junior Championship is so fun is that in the past five years, five different countries have won the gold medal. That parity is a blessing to the tournament, but it also makes it difficult to handicap a showdown in which two teams with championship aspirations often meet in the quarterfinal, as Russia and the United States have done in the past two years.

But if we’re talking favorites for the 2016 installment, which kicks off in Helsinki on Boxing Day, I will take Sweden. And here’s my logic:

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Barilko mystery grows as Leafs fan claims to have puck from historic OT goal

Brian Costello
Bill Barilko's 1951 overtime goal. (HHOF Images)

Think for a moment about the pucks out there that have mass appeal because of their exceptional time stamps on hockey history. There are the individual milestone ones – the Wayne Gretzky puck breaking Gordie Howe’s scoring record, Mike Bossy’s 50-in-50 puck, dozens more like that.

But what about the pucks marking seminal moments in the game? Paul Henderson’s winner from the 1972 Summit Series? Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal that won the 2010 Olympic gold? The Bill Barilko puck would have to be in that category as well, largely due to the mysterious disappearance of the Stanley Cup hero that same summer he scored his
Cup-clinching goal. His body was eventually found 11 years later, but the mystery doesn’t end there.

The famous puck that bore a hockey legend is in dispute. Is it the one that’s been on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame since it opened in 1961? Or has it been more humbly
showcased on the Donohue family’s mantel nearly 65 years after Barilko won the Maple Leafs Lord Stanley’s mug?

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