As the NHL off-season drags on, former New York Rangers and Nashville Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto remains unsigned.
Only 24, Del Zotto is just two years removed from a 41-point performance with the Rangers in 2011-12. Unfortunately, his stock tumbled significantly last season, largely because of his poor play in his own zone.
Recent speculation linking Del Zotto to the Vancouver Canucks was denied by his agent, who claims there’s “no chance” his client ends up with the Canucks. It’s been rumored the Detroit Red Wings could have interest, but he’s a left-handed shot and the Wings seek a right-shooting blueliner.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cited an NHL club claiming Del Zotto’s reputation was “in tatters.” He believes now is the right time to “buy low” on the young rearguard and wonders why the New York Islanders haven’t pursued him. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs recently avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Jake Gardiner and goaltender James Reimer. Gardiner re-signed a five-year, $20.25-million contract, while Reimer inked a two-year, $4.6-million deal.
Both players were frequently mentioned in trade rumors last season. While their new deals suggest the Leafs won’t be peddling either player soon, it’s done little to fully dampen trade speculation.
Gardiner’s new deal indicates the Maple Leafs see him as part of their defense corps for the long term, but his new contract lacks a no-trade clause. Should he continue to struggle under coach Randy Carlyle, trade rumors will continue to dog the 24-year-old blueliner.
It’s just a matter of time before the first Australian drafted by an NHL team gets a chance to play in the big league. Nathan Walker was selected 89th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2014 draft and Friday signed a three-year entry-level contract.
“He’s probably still a couple of years away, but he’s on the right track,” said Capitals director, amateur scouting Ross Mahoney. “He’s one determined guy, I’ll tell you that. He’s had an incredible journey so far.”
Walker, 20, was born in Cardiff, Wales, and was two when his family moved to Sydney, Australia. Though hockey is a bottom rung sport in Australia, Walker became fascinated with the game at the age of six watching Hollywood movies Mystery, Alaska and The Mighty Ducks.
Philipp Grubauer will have to battle incumbent Braden Holtby and newcomer Justin Peters for crease time in Washington, but when the young German does get his chance, he’ll do so in style with a new mask from design guru Dave Gunnarsson.
Entitled “The Desolation of Grubi – Atomic Breath,” this mask brings some thunder.
Another sports power couple’s engagement is off.
Two months after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko says she has called off her planned wedding to three-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
The two had been together since 2011 and became engaged in December 2012.
We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:
It’s Day 3 of our NHL logo rankings, so we introduce a look we slotted in at No. 28: The Washington Capitals.
The reason this one didn’t get much love is because it’s less a logo than it is just the team’s name being spelled out. The “T” in Capitals forms a hockey stick that has a red puck next to it and the three stars along the top are an addition to the original look. The red, white and blue colors are representative of the capital city of the USA, but other than that, it’s just “Washington Capitals” in italics. Not much to it.
Past Capitals logos have included an eagle and the Washington Capitol, though they were never embraced and the color scheme changed with them. But you figure there would be a lot of options for any potential new look for Alex Ovechkin’s team. Think you can do a better job coming up with a logo for Washington? Now’s your chance.
Like we have with Carolina and Colorado, we’re inviting you to redesign the Washington Capitals logo. Use whichever color combination you want and submit your new look to email@example.com. At the end of our logo ranking release, we will run our favorite redesigns from all 30 teams.
(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)
HISTORY OF THE CAPITALS LOGO
In the beginning, the Capitals logo represented the truly awful. In its first season in the NHL, Washington’s 21 points was about half the amount their expansion brothers, the Kansas City Scouts, accumulated. Washington’s .131 points percentage is still the worst in NHL history and in the era of the salary cap floor, it’s hard to imagine a team ever being that bad again.
The first Washington logo was very basic, straightforward and the colors popped. There are some obvious differences between the first Caps logo and the current “throwback” look. The slant of the letters goes to the left instead of the right, there are no stars above “Washington,” the stick is red, the puck is blue and the font is more plain. The Capitals used this logo from their inception in 1974-75 until the 1995-96 season.
When the NHL made its most recent realignment, last season, it reemphasized the importance of divisional play by also restructuring its playoff format. The wild card element throws a bit of a wrench into it from year-to-year, but for the most part, teams have to play their first two playoff rounds against division rivals – and that means a weaker division has the potential to make the road to the Stanley Cup easier for the team that can emerge from it.
I’d argue that’s one of the reasons the New York Rangers qualified for the Cup Final this past spring. They faced a flawed Flyers team in the first round and a Penguins squad in the second that had serious issues of its own before they beat the injury-depleted Canadiens in the Eastern Conference final. You have to give the Blueshirts credit for their resilience, but they had a much easier go of it than, say, Los Angeles or Chicago.
So which division is shaping up to be the NHL’s weakest in 2014-15? It’s not in the Western Conference, that’s for sure. Six of the Central Division’s seven teams (every one but Winnipeg) have a bona fide shot at making the playoffs, and the California Trinity Of Doom, combined with the desperation to make the playoffs in Vancouver and Edmonton, makes the Pacific Division daunting as well.
So, the “honor” of the league’s worst division has to go to either the Metropolitan or the Atlantic. And although the Atlantic has seen more separation between the haves and have-nots of its teams this off-season, I’d still make the case the Metro is the weaker of the two. Read more