Even if they miss playoffs & end 10-year post-season streak, don’t count Sharks out over long term

Adam Proteau
Sharks teammates Logan Couture, Justin Braun, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

After their 5-2 loss to Winnipeg Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks fell six points behind the Jets for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. And with just 12 regular-season games left to play, San Jose could make a last desperate run into the second wild card position, but could just as easily fall to 12th overall in the West. After their infamous playoff collapse last season, the Sharks are now looking like a group that could be on the downside of a fairly productive period.

But don’t cry for the Sharks just yet. Considering some of the young talent on the roster and the pieces GM Wilson potentially acquires in any major trades this summer, San Jose’s downturn could reverse course in very short order and they could be back in playoff contention as soon as the 2015-16 campaign. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Without an extension, O’Reilly’s time in Colorado could be up

o'reilly

Despite considerable speculation this season over forward Ryan O’Reilly‘s future with the Colorado Avalanche, the 24-year-old was not among those on the move at the recent trade deadline. While he’ll finish this season with the Avalanche, it remains to be seen how long he’ll remain in Colorado.

O’Reilly’s $6-million annual cap hit and eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July 2016 makes him a frequent subject for trade rumors. The Denver Post’s Terry Frei praises O’Reilly as a well-respected and terrific two-way player who could be the final piece of the championship puzzle for an elite team but notes the decline in his production makes it difficult to justify his expensive salary. Read more

Five freshmen exceeding all expectations in their rookie seasons

John Klingberg (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Andrew Hammond’s run between the pipes for the Ottawa Senators is one of the best stories of the season. He won’t, however, be getting a nod for the Calder Trophy anytime soon. It’s not because he’s undeserving, but rather because he doesn’t technically qualify.

Hammond was 26 before September 2014 and, as such, was too old to be eligible for the trophy as the league’s best rookie. He may have just had an outside shot at winning the thing if he were to muscle the Senators in the postseason, too. Alas, he’ll have to settle for free McDonald’s for the rest of his life.

So, while Hammond won’t be on this list of the top five unexpectedly good rookie seasons, here are several players who are turning heads in their freshman years: Read more

Panthers’ Derek MacKenzie dives to score spectacular goal against Winnipeg

Adam Proteau
Derek MacKenzie (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last week, veteran Panthers center Derek MacKenzie made news when he was nearly called upon to play goal for a Florida team that was dealing with two injured netminders. But on Thursday, MacKenzie made the highlight reel for a reason more natural to his position when he scored a spectacular diving goal against the Winnipeg Jets.

The 33-year-old MacKenzie, in his first season with the Panthers after spending the previous seven years in Columbus, threw his body toward the visiting Jets’ net just to get his stick on a phenomenal behind-the-back pass from teammate David Bolland – and he got just enough of the puck to tip it past goalie Michael Hutchinson for the first goal of the night: Read more

Multiple team moves sees Bulldogs go to St. John’s, IceCaps go to Winnipeg, and OHL’s Belleville Bulls to Hamilton

Former St. John's IceCaps player and current Winnipeg Jets winger Adam Lowry. (Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

In a series of major announcements made late Thursday afternoon, three prominent Canadian American League and Ontario League teams announced they were relocating – and when the game of musical chairs stopped, Belleville, Ont., lost its OHL team after 34 years.

The moves began with the AHL announcing the sale and relocation of the Montreal Canadiens’ affiliate in Hamilton, Ont.; area businessman Michael Andlauer, who had secured majority ownership of the Bulldogs in 2004, sold the franchise to the Canadiens, who announced move the team at the end of the current season to St. John’s, Newfoundland for the next two seasons. Meanwhile, the St. John’s IceCaps team that currently plays in that city will be relocated to Winnipeg next season and serve as the AHL affiliate for the NHL’s Jets. And the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, who had been experiencing financial issues and were clamoring for a new arena for some time, were purchased by Andlauer and will play next season in Hamilton. Read more

Jets lose on a stinker of a goal on Ondrej Pavelec – which is why it’s Michael Hutchinson or bust for them

Adam Proteau
Ondrej Pavelec (Photo by Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Winnipeg Jets had stormed back Tuesday from a 4-1 second period deficit to the St. Louis Blues to tie the game with less than six minutes left in regulation, but with 1:03 to go, Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec allowed a brutal game-winner on a Barret Jackman shot just inside center ice. Read more

Why Winnipeg’s goaltending could cost them the playoffs

Jared Clinton
(Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)

Winnipeg goaltenders Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson should buy Devan Dubnyk a present. After all, were it not for his tremendous play between the pipes for the Minnesota Wild, the NHL’s goaltending story may actually be how the Jets’ netminding has failed them over the past several weeks.

Heading into the all-star break, Hutchinson was the league’s save percentage leader with a .935 mark. Pavelec’s .913 SP was serviceable enough that it wasn’t killing Winnipeg’s playoff hopes. It seemed all but a certainty that the Jets – two points back of the Chicago Blackhawks for third in the Central Division and eight points up on the Los Angeles Kings in the wild-card race – were postseason bound for the first time since moving to Winnipeg in 2011.

Then the post-break slump came, and the Jets goaltending duo hasn’t been the same since. Hutchinson is no longer the league’s SP leader – he’s not even in the top 10. Pavelec has lost four of his five decisions post-break, posting a SP above .900 just once, in a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

So, again, maybe Dubnyk deserves a Thank You-card at the very least. While he’s carrying Minnesota to the playoffs, Winnipeg’s tandem is falling apart and could cost the Jets the postseason. But no one is talking about it quite yet. Read more

Report: AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps relocating to Winnipeg next season

Jared Clinton
Mike Keane was the captain of the Manitoba Moose for five seasons. The Moose may be returning to the AHL next season. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Five seasons after their relocation from Winnipeg to St. John’s, the Manitoba Moose may be back skating on MTS Centre ice in 2015-16.

According to a report from the Winnipeg Free Press’ Tim Campbell, the AHL’s Board of Governors are expected to meet on Thursday to vote on two potential transfers that could see the St. John’s IceCaps, the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, relocate to Manitoba’s capital and the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, move to Newfoundland.

The latter move of Hamilton to St. John’s is reportedly less likely to happen, but the IceCaps leaving St. John’s for Winnipeg appears to be a strong possibility. Read more