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
Once again, Team USA has won the world under-18s thanks to a roster made up almost entirely of NTDP kids. Though one interesting takeaway from the tourney was goaltending. The Americans went with underager Evan Sarthou of WHL Tri-City, while Canada had a tandem of underagers in Moose Jaw’s Zach Sawchenko and Saginaw’s Evan Cormier. Sure, 2015 looks like a thin goalie draft, but this was a pretty interesting trend. With that point behind us, let’s look at some of the other prospects making noise in the hockey world right now.
As the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs draws to a close, speculation is slowly emerging over the off-season plans of several eliminated teams.
The early playoff exit of the Pittsburgh Penguins by the New York Rangers suggests significant changes could be in order. Despite rumors earlier this month suggesting Evgeni Malkin or even Sidney Crosby might be dealt this summer, Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Penguins president and CEO Ron Morehouse said the duo would return next season. So will embattled GM Jim Rutherford and coach Mike Johnston.
Morehouse cited an injury-riddled blueline corps among the factors behind his club’s first-round elimination. He said ownership intends to build around core players like Crosby and Malkin.
If Vancouver’s first-round series loss to underdog Calgary proved anything, it’s that the Canucks have some work to do if they hope to return to the upper echelons of the Western Conference. As is stands now, the franchise is in a bit of limbo, since the Canucks have a nice development pipeline going, but a lot of contracts already spoken for as well. So how fast can they re-tool?
One of the great things about the playoffs every season is the NHL putting microphones on players to capture the audio from down on the ice. And every so often, they happen to mic up the perfect player in the perfect game. Case in point: Matt Stajan was mic’d up for Game 6 and scored the goal that clinched the series victory for the Calgary Flames late in the third period.
The goal itself is highlight enough — a perfectly placed wristshot that found the top corner behind Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller — but listening to the Flames crowd explode from ice level after Stajan’s shot hits the back of the net is outstanding. Check it out below: Read more
While they weren’t huge underdogs coming into the first round, the Calgary Flames six-game series victory over the Vancouver Canucks could be considered somewhat of an upset. But it wasn’t so much the Flames that beat the Canucks as it was the Vancouver offense that let their team down.
Through the first five games of the series, the Canucks registered just 10 goals and failed to take advantage of any defensive lapses the Flames had shown. For much of the season, Calgary was a subpar possession team, finishing in the bottom five of the league, while Vancouver fared much better, placing in the top 20. If there was anything the Canucks could have relied upon to take the series, it was that eventually the run of play would tilt hard enough in their favor that goals would come.
However, over the course of a seven game series, even favorable underlying numbers couldn’t do much to rectify a Canucks attack that failed to find holes in the Flames’ goaltending when it mattered most. When this series is looked back upon, it won’t be Vancouver’s choice to start Eddie Lack over Ryan Miller that changed their fate, but rather the Canucks’ inability to capitalize on their opportunities. Read more
The Edmonton Oilers winning the 2015 draft lottery continues to resonate in the trade rumor mill. Their recent hiring of former Hockey Canada honcho Bob Nicholson as CEO and former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli as GM and president of hockey operations provides further speculation of major off-season moves for the Oilers.
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE noted these factors while suggesting there’s a good chance Oilers top-line wingers Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle could be available. He feels the Bruins should consider offering up power forward Milan Lucic for Hall or Eberle.
Haggerty believes Lucic’s style of play is something the Oilers need. He also notes the 26-year-old left winger’s friendship with Oilers captain Andrew Ference, which dates back to the Ference’s days with the Bruins. With Lucic eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Haggerty feels Edmonton could be just the place where he could land a big payday. Read more
If you’re a believer in advanced statistics, Game 5 was the first time in the first-round tilt between Vancouver and Calgary that the Canucks controlled play in the way many had expected them to all series long.
Entering the post-season, there were few teams considered as great an underdog as the Flames, as throughout the regular season Calgary managed to stay afloat regardless of some of the worst possession statistics in the entire league. Matter of fact, when the season came to a close, the only teams with more unfavorable possession numbers than Calgary were the Colorado Avalanche and Buffalo Sabres. However, as they had done all season, the Flames defied what underlying numbers had said through the first four games of their playoffs series. Until Game 5, that is. Read more