At what point this summer do we change the “U” in UFA to unwanted?

Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals

For those NHL players who don’t step willingly into retirement, there eventually comes a day when UFA stands for unwanted free agent rather than unrestricted free agent.

As July ends and August begins, we’re now closer to the start of NHL training camps than we are the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. For unsigned UFAs, that’s an added layer of anxiety. What if nobody wants me and I’ve played my last NHL game?

Take a browse through capgeek.com and you’ll see half the NHL teams are already at the 23-man NHL roster limit. Another nine teams are at 22 players. And that doesn’t even include the several dozen or so non-roster rookie prospects who will surely make big-league rosters in October.

So not a lot of roster openings remain.

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NHL logo rankings No. 23: Winnipeg Jets

Matt Larkin
JetsTOP

The No. 23 spot in the THN logo rankings belongs to the Winnipeg Jets. Popular team with its fans, not so popular among anyone predicting the 2014-15 Central Division standings, and not so popular in the logo department. That said, as we creep up toward the middle of the logo ladder, each ranking becomes more contentious and closer to split down the middle. Winnipeg’s critics outweigh its supporters, but the anti-Jet sentiment isn’t unanimous.

We can at at least say team’s design depicts what it’s supposed to depict, unlike jumbled messes such as, say, Colorado’s. There’s no debating that a fighter jet adorns Winnipeg’s sweaters. Another plus: the logo is inspired by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Simple, understated design and a historical connection? That should be a recipe for a high rank, but “simple” is the operative word. It’s too basic. The plane is just dropped on top of the existing Air Force logo.

Most of the THN staffers laughed this logo out of the room, comparing it to Microsoft Word’s Clip Art. Remember Clip Art images? Those stock photos and cartoony symbols you printed off your computer to take up space on your science fair Bristol boards? The Jets logo has that feel to it. The plane itself has very little detail and the Maple Leaf feels like a lazy attempt to placate fans of a Canadian team. The logo looks more like a glorified shoulder patch in the eyes of its haters.

Do you agree the Jets logo was slapped together too quickly? Try your hand at a new design, preferably without using Clip Art. Draft up a hot new look and send it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we’ll share our favorite redesign submissions from readers. Don’t stop with the Jets, either. You can try your hand at all 30 NHL logos if you want.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE JETS LOGO

Don’t confuse the Jets with the, er, Jets. The original Winnipeg Jets belong to Arizona Coyotes canon. The modern Jets extend from the ugly, pitiful roots of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise.

What on Earth is a Thrasher? Even though the franchise’s horrific uniforms had an unmistakably “Xtreme” feel to them, the Thrasher name didn’t come out of nowhere. The brown thrasher is actually Georgia’s state bird, and fans voted in the team name. Second place, the Flames, would’ve been awkward for Atlanta and Calgary. Those voters had evidently never heard of the embarrassing Rough Riders/Roughriders debacle in the CFL.

The brown thrasher isn’t an intimidating bird, but it’s elegant enough and could’ve made for a decent logo. Alas, this team was founded in the late 1990s, at the peak of ugly new-age jerseys. The result was this:

 

Sigh. It looks like someone stuck a bird’s head in a bowl of butterscotch pudding and stirred it with a hockey stick.

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Rumor Roundup: Could Marc Staal join his brothers with the Hurricanes?

Marc Staal (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should get busy re-signing defenseman Marc Staal. The 27-year-old blueliner is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. His cap hit for this season is $3.98 million.

Barring another concussion for Staal, Brooks believes the blueliner could command at least a six-year deal worth $5.5 million annually. If the Rangers don’t believe Staal’s worth that much, Brooks recommends investigating his trade value.

The Carolina Hurricanes could be among the clubs willing to pursue Staal via trade this season or free agency next summer. Brothers Eric and Jordan are already on the Hurricanes roster. Perhaps the addition of Marc could provide extra incentive for Eric – whose contract expires in 2016 – to sign an extension next summer. Read more

How Bobby Hull helped build the Oilers dynasty and how close Edmonton was to drafting Teemu Selanne

Jason Kay
draft day 1988

How much credit does Bobby Hull deserve for the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty of the 1980s? A fair bit, according to the Golden Jet, in this edition of Throwback Thursday.

In the July, 1988 edition of The Hockey News, Hull told Stan Fischler that Oilers’ GM Glen Sather got the idea for remaking his team when “myself, Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg terrorized his Oilers in the last years of the WHA. He’d get so frustrated watching us throw the puck around that he finally vowed to build a team on our (European-style) lines.”

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Which franchise will be the next to win its first-ever Stanley Cup?

Wild-Blues

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:

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Rumor Roundup: The latest Evander Kane trade buzz

kane-142324409

Another month, another rash of Evander Kane trade speculation. The 22-year-old winger’s recent comments during a radio interview once again raised questions over his future with the Winnipeg Jets.

“Well, I think I’m a Winnipeg Jet now,” Kane told Vancouver’s The Team 1020, acknowledging the trade rumors dogging him since arriving in Winnipeg three years ago. He added “we’ll see what happens” and he’ll carry on “as if I’m a Winnipeg Jet.”

Despite having four years at an annual cap hit of $5.25 million remaining on his contract, Kane appears doubtful he’ll remain with the club for the duration. It’s the second time in as many months he’s raised eyebrows over his status with the team. Prior to last month’s NHL draft, the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe reported Kane favorited a tweet by a Flyers fan calling upon his team to acquire the young winger.
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Rumor Roundup: Are the Maple Leafs done making moves?

nazemkadri

Toronto Maple Leafs fans hoping for their club to make a big splash in this summer’s trade market are likely to be disappointed. The Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno believes the rest of the summer will be a quiet one for the Leafs.

DiManno speculates the “small-beer” moves made by Leafs GM Dave Nonis – signing Stephane Robidas and Mike Santorelli via free agency, swapping Carl Gunnarsson for Roman Polak, bringing back Leo Komarov and Matt Frattin – could be his only significant ones this off-season. She also claims no one’s calling about Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf or unhappy backup goalie James Reimer, and she rejected talk of Martin Brodeur signing with the Leafs as mere rumor.

If DiManno is correct, that also means center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner – fixtures in last season’s trade rumor mill – will also return with the Leafs for 2014-15. That means the only Leaf facing an uncertain future is defenseman Cody Franson, who (along with Reimer) was among 20 NHL players to file for salary arbitration. Nonis reportedly offered up Franson to the Montreal Canadiens in a failed bid to acquire Josh Gorges, who nixed that move. Read more

Does Evander Kane still want to play for the Winnipeg Jets?

Rory Boylen
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane

Either Evander Kane doesn’t care if he’s traded out of Winnipeg – maybe even looking forward to it – or he’s trolling the heck out of Jets fans.

Remember, just two weeks ago Kane was caught favoriting a tweet from a Flyers fan calling on GM Ron Hextall to acquire the young Jets scorer. Whether it was intentional or a slip of the thumb on Kane’s part, this was a pretty incredible sight.

On Tuesday, Kane had an opportunity to shutter any suggestion he is hoping for a move out of Winnipeg, a city that doesn’t seem too interested in hanging on to a soon-to-be 23-year-old with the upside of a 30-to-40 goal scorer. Kane was interviewed on Vancouver’s TEAM 1040 and he didn’t exactly commit to Winnipeg: Read more