With NHL rosters set, we will soon say goodbye to some Hot List favorites. Since as soon as players such as Curtis Lazar in Ottawa and Anthony Duclair of the Rangers make their big-time debuts, they will be considered graduates here. But while those players make their dreams come true, others are still on the path, so let’s take a look at some of the prospects making noise around the world right now.
On the day he was honored with his own stamp, the man many hockey fans feel was the greatest player of all-time gave his stamp of approval for that designation to Gordie Howe. Bobby Orr threw his support behind Mr. Hockey in the never-ending debate concerning the greatest player ever to play the greatest game. “Gordie is, in my mind, the greatest ever,” said Orr, who recently penned the foreword for Howe’s memoir, Mr. Hockey. “His numbers are outrageous and most of that was with the six teams, when it was a lot tougher. I don’t think there’s any question. Play any way you want to play…he was special.” Read more
NBA superstar LeBron James returning home to Cleveland sparked speculation this summer in the Toronto media suggesting Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos could do the same and sign with the Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2016.
The Leafs lack a homegrown star, and Stamkos would be a natural fit. Responding to questions about the possibility, the 24-year-old sniper inadvertently added fuel to the fire by replying, “We’ll see what happens.” However, Stamkos recently clarified his comments, saying he definitely wants to win with the Lightning. Read more
There’s no doubt Torrey Mitchell of the Buffalo Sabres is feeling a little badly this morning. Probably not as badly as he did more than six years ago when a reckless play he made almost ended Kurtis Foster’s career and helped inspire the NHL to change its icing rules, but pretty remorseful nonetheless.
If you need any further proof that some hockey players just don’t ever seem to get it, that no number of rules or suspensions will ever get them to change their ways, look no further Torrey Mitchell. Because if anyone should have realized the perils of pushing an opponent from behind into the boards, the way he did to Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson in a pre-season game Sunday night, it should be Mitchell. Read more
Defenceman Henrik Tallinder probably wouldn’t mind finishing his career like Derek Jeter, but most pro athletes don’t get to retire the way they want to.
Their careers wind down in a quieter way.
Tallinder, a 35-year-old free agent, suffered a separated shoulder while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs on a professional tryout Friday night. Tallinder sustained the injury in a game against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, when ex-teammate Mike Weber slammed him into the boards and fell on top of him.
Tallinder’s injury could put him out of contention for a Leafs roster spot, and may kill his last shot at an NHL contract before he retires.
It would be a less-than-auspicious end to Tallinder’s 12-season career, which began with the Buffalo Sabres 678 NHL games ago. Tallinder was drafted by the Sabres and spent nine seasons in Buffalo, including last year. But this season he was trying to crack the rival Maple Leafs’ roster, and he sustained his shoulder injury as a visitor in the Sabres’ arena.
If this is the end for Tallinder, you’ve got to feel for the guy.
In the two full seasons Randy Carlyle has been the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, his team has led the league in fights both seasons and led in penalty minutes once. Whether or not the Leafs are at the top of either of those departments will come down to some interesting decisions they’ll have to make over the next two weeks.
In an effort to bolster their bottom six forwards, the Maple Leafs have 17 forwards on one-way contracts coming into this season. Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, when measured simply on their hockey skills, are their two worst. But they’re also the most truculent, combining for 15 of the team’s league-leading 48 fights last season. With the logjam up front, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be able to keep both of them in 2014-15. Read more
The Winnipeg Jets enter their most critical season since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Counting their final seasons as the Thrashers, the Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. The honeymoon period is over in Winnipeg, as fans and media grow impatient waiting for the Jets to become contenders.
Apart from a coaching change midway through last season and signing third-line center Mathieu Perreault, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff responded to off-season calls for change by standing pat and preaching patience.
Left winger Evander Kane and defenseman/winger Dustin Byfuglien were frequently subject to trade speculation this summer. THN.com’s Rory Boylen recently listed Kane among his top 10 trade candidates for the upcoming season, while Byfuglien made SI.com’s Allan Muir’s list.
On Monday, Gary Bettman was at the Canadian Club in Toronto where he was interviewed by new Hockey Night in Canada front man George Stroumboulopoulos and then took questions from the crowd. Some of the discussion focused on the new deal with Rogers and how the game would be presented, the health of the league and collective bargaining. Of course, expansion/relocation was also a point of discussion and Bettman, again, shot down the notion that the league is currently looking at new markets.
“The fact is this is the most stable our franchises have ever been, the healthiest we’ve been as a league, but we’re not looking to expand right now,” Bettman said. “No teams are relocating. I happen to take my two days on vacation this summer and see this article that came out of the West Coast saying we’re in expansion mode and we’re going to sell four teams. OK, so that disrupted one of the two days having to issue denials. Read more