Memorial Cup preview: How each team wins or loses

Leon Draisaitl (Melissa Baecker/Getty Images)

We know our four teams for the Memorial Cup now. Thanks to Oshawa’s ousting of Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, the Generals will represent the OHL, joining Kelowna of the WHL, plus Quebec (the hosts) and Rimouski in the QMJHL. So who is favored to win it all? Ah, that’s a thorny question in a tournament that often surprises. But let’s take a look at what you should know about the four worthy squads in contention.

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John Tortorella wants to coach in the NHL next season

tortorella

In May 2013, coach John Tortorella was let go by the New York Rangers. One year later, May 2014, he was fired by the Canucks following one season behind the Vancouver bench. Now, in May 2015, news comes that Tortorella is looking at getting back into the league as a coach as early as next season.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Tortorella is looking to get back into the game, and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if he was trying to do so as early at the 2015-16 campaign. With several coaching vacancies throughout the league, it would make sense that Tortorella’s name comes up at this time. Read more

Sens sign NCAA free agent O’Connor, land new big body – & big brain – for crowded crease

Matt O'Connor (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

For weeks, speculation has built as to the destination of Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor, an unrestricted free agent highly-regarded and hotly pursued by a number of NHL teams. The 23-year-old made his decision early Saturday afternoon, rejecting overtures from the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers to sign a two-year contract with the Ottawa Senators.

The signing of the Toronto native to a two-year deal crowds the Sens’ crease to an even greater degree than it was already. Ottawa has – for now, anyway – three netminders with NHL experience in its employ, including veteran and starter Craig Anderson, 23-year-old Robin Lehner, and recent sensation Andrew “The Hamburlgar” Hammond, and O’Connor will be aiming to get there as soon as possible. Hammond is an unrestricted free agent and Senators GM Bryan Murray could deal his rights before he hits the market, but if Ottawa plans on retaining Hammond’s services, something will have to give with either Anderson (who has three years left on his contract and a $4.2 million salary cap hit) or Lehner (signed for two more years at a $2.25 million cap hit).

But enough about the future. The present-day news is the Senators landed a big body in the 6-foot-5 O’Connor, but they also signed a young man with a big brain and every intention to make his mark on and off the ice. Read more

How to snuff out a superstar

Oshawa's Cole Cassels  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.

If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.

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Rumor Roundup: Defensive changes coming for Canucks, Sharks

Eddie Lack Jacob Markstrom (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks’ season ended less than two weeks ago, but speculation over their off-season plans keeps percolating in the Vancouver media.

The status of their blueline remains the hot topic. Ed Willes of The Province believes something’s got to give this summer, noting GM Jim Benning’s willingness to ask players carrying no-trade clauses to waive them.

It’s believed a veteran blueliner like Kevin Bieksa or Dan Hamhuis, who each have full no-trade clauses and a year remaining on their respective contracts, could be approached about moving on. Benning intends to re-sign restricted free agent rearguard Yannick Weber, but he’ll have to free up some cap space to do so. Read more

The five craziest free agent offer sheets in NHL history

Scott Stevens ended up a New Jersey Devil after the St. Louis Blues signed Brendan Shanahan to an offer sheet. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues and GM Doug Armstrong have made no bones about it: whatever the price is for Vladimir Tarasenko, they’re willing to pay. In the end, that could come down to matching an offer sheet.

If the Blues can’t get Tarasenko, a restricted free agent, under contract by the time the draft comes and goes, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that another team will see the worth in locking up St. Louis’ star sniper. It’s a tactic that has been used for nearly three decades, although rarely over the past decade.

Looking back through the NHL’s history of offer sheets, though, gives us an idea of just how crazy things could get should Tarasenko ink an offer from another team. These are five of the craziest offer sheet scenarios in league history: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Could Dion Phaneuf become an Oiler?

Dion Phaneuf

Could the Edmonton Oilers have interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf? Sportsnet’s Damien Cox claims former Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had interest in the 30-year-old Phaneuf prior to this season’s trade deadline. With Chiarelli now in Edmonton, Cox speculates the Oilers could be suitors for the Leafs captain.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples disagrees, noting the Oilers could use Phaneuf’s skills on their blueline but not his lengthy and expensive contract. The rearguard has six years remaining on his deal at an annual cap hit of $7 million.

With several players (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Mark Fayne, Benoit Pouliot) carrying expensive long-term deals, Staples notes adding Phaneuf would create a cap crunch for the Oilers in a few years when younger Oilers (Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl) will be seeking raises. Read more

Are Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry best 1-2 draft punch in NHL history?

Ryan Getzlaf (left) and Corey Perry  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When fans of the Anaheim Ducks watch games such as Thursday night’s thrashing of the Calgary Flames in Game 1 of their playoff series, there’s a good chance they thank their lucky stars that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are under contract for the next four seasons. (Oh, and if you happen to have both of them in a playoff pool, you’re probably clicking your heels together today as well. Click-click.)

They’re also probably pretty happy that Perry had such a poor showing in the CHL Prospects Game in 2003 and that Getzlaf was likened to “a poor man’s Patrick Marleau,” in THN’s Draft Preview that year. Because if not, Getzlaf would not have tumbled to 19th and Perry to 28th in that year’s draft and the Ducks would not have had the chance to take them. Read more