The three top prospects for this year’s NHL draft all played in Europe this season and they’re all projected to become enormous stars in North American and make millions of dollars over the course of their careers. And if things go as planned, they’ll be a cash cow for their NHL employers, as well.
But what about the teams they’re leaving? In the case of Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, the Tappara and Karpat teams in the Finnish League will not only be losing their best players, they’ll also be parting with two young men in whom they’ve invested an huge amount of resources. And once they sign deals with the NHL teams that select them, they’re receive a one-time payment of about $240,000. That’s it. Nothing more. Do not pass Go. Do not collect any more money. And in the case of the Zurich Lions in the Swiss League, they won’t receive a cent.
Two days after news broke that the U17 Russian team would be replacing the U18 squad at the U18 World Championships due to a meldonium doping scandal, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) has acknowledged that the swap was made in order to “protect the athletes.”
The official statement from the RIHF says that players training with the U18 have used mildronate, which is the trade-name for meldonium, “as to protect the heart muscle in periods of high exertion. Supplies of the drug were carried out officially in accordance with the Federal Medical-Biology agency.”
However, the RIHF said reports that as many as half of the Russian U18 team tested positive for meldonium are false, and said the players have not been using the drug since fall 2015, when the World Anti-Doping Agency made the decision to add meldonium to the banned substances list. That ban took effect Jan. 1. Read more
The playoffs have certainly not disappointed at the prospect level so far. The Frozen Four had numerous overtimes and now the field is set for the final weekend, with North Dakota battling Denver and Boston College taking on Quinnipiac. In major junior, it’s been just as crazy, with big upsets and a couple other underdogs taking the favorites down to the wire – Kelowna finally iced Kamloops, while Barrie and Mississauga needed seven games to determine a winner. We’re also nearing the world under-18s in North Dakota, so look for more info on that in the near future. Here’s what’s going on in the world of prospects:
At the 2015 World Championship, Team USA knew the club was set to be young. So young, in fact, that there was even a brief flirtation with bringing Auston Matthews aboard for the tournament. Matthews, then 17, played in an exhibition game prior to the tournament, but didn’t make the final roster.
However, after a season in the Swiss NLA, it’s expected that Matthews, 18, will play a regular role for Team USA at the 2016 World Championship in Russia. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who reported there’s no chance Matthews stays in Switzerland next season, the belief is Matthews will be named to the American World Championship team and suit up throughout the tournament.
McKenzie noted that Matthews could choose to shutdown his season so as to not risk his draft status, but Matthews is “a proud American and would like to help Team USA win a medal at the worlds to give back to the program that helped develop him.” Read more
Par Marts has a dream and it involves the Toronto Marlies getting shocked in the first round of the American League playoffs. Because that’s the only way the Swedish national team coach is going to get his hands on William Nylander for the World Championship.
With Marts and Swedish GM Peter Popovic on hand Monday night, Nylander gave them reason to salivate, registering his second multi-point game with a three-point effort in a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames. It gave Nylander five points in his past two games and established Nylander, the No. 2 prospect in THN’s annual Future Watch edition behind future Arizona Coyote Dylan Strome, as a future go-to offensive force for the Leafs. (Future Watch can be purchased on-line by going to: https://secure.thehockeynews.com/online-store/?&utm_source=thehockeynews.com&utm_medium=digital_edition&utm_campaign=mag_site_links)
The overwhelming favorite to be the first overall pick in the NHL draft this summer is on the verge of seeing his season end shockingly early. With his Zurich squad losing 4-3 in overtime today, Auston Matthews and his team find themselves facing a playoff upset of enormous proportions in the Swiss League.
Matthews and his team face a 3-0 deficit and the prospect of a humiliating elimination Thursday night in Bern. Matthews has two assists so far in the first three games of the series, with his second assist of the series coming on Zurich’s tying goal early in the third period. If Zurich goes on to lose to Bern, it will be a monumental upset, since Zurich finished in first place in the regular season with a 31-12-7 record for 98 points, while Bern, which is led by former NHLers Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher, had a 21-20-9 record, which put them in eighth place with 67 points.
Now Scotty Bowman did not start out as an advisor for Team North America for the World Cup of Hockey, but when one of the most decorated and brilliant hockey minds the game has ever seen offers his services, it’s probably best to accept it.
It all started when Stan Bowman, the assistant GM of the team, had a conversation about potential players with North American GM Peter Chiarelli. Bowman mentioned in passing that he had spoken to his father recently about Auston Matthews. “And (Chiarelli) said, ‘So what does your dad think?’ ” the younger Bowman recalled. “And after that conversation, he said, ‘Why don’t we just have him be part of some of the phone calls?’ Because he just pretty much sits at home every night and watches games. That’s all he does, is sit home and watch players, so he has a take on these guys.”
The World Cash Grab of Hockey™ has brought the NHL and its players’ association together like never before. That much was evident on Wednesday afternoon when NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly appeared together and were so much in lockstep that there were reports they left the room arm-in-arm whistling the same show tune.
Which is great if you’re a big fan of peace and harmony between the players and their owners. With six more years remaining in the collective bargaining agreement, there must be a certain amount of resignation to their situation. But anyone looking for Fehr to show his teeth the way he did to Major League Baseball must be disappointed.