When the braintrust for Canada’s World Cup of Hockey team met Monday to begin the task of assembling the Canadian team for the tournament, each member of the management team was asked to present a mock roster based on the playoffs and recent World Championship. And the way GM Doug Armstrong sees it, everybody’s first list probably has the same 15 or 16 players on it.
We’re not giving anything away when we say that list almost certainly includes Carey Price in goal, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Alex Pietrangelo on defense and Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at forward.
Prospects are the lifeblood of the NHL, especially in an era where free agency is dying thanks to talent retention of top stars. But who really stood out this season? Welcome to the first-ever Prospect of the Year awards.
To qualify, a player must still have Calder Trophy eligibility for next season, so excellent youngsters like Detroit’s Teemu Pulkkinen or Boston’s David Pastrnak don’t count. The winners below have impressed me with what they accomplished at their particular level of development – otherwise, it would just be a list of older prospects from the AHL who are on the cusp of NHL jobs.
Let’s do this:
TAMPA – Just the other day, Manon Rheaume went to get the oil changed on her car at a garage near her home in suburban Detroit. While she sat in the waiting room, one of the grease monkeys came out from the back with the work order in his hand. “He was looking at the name and he looked at me and said, ‘Are you the hockey player?’ ” Rheaume said. “He was like, ‘I used to have a poster of you on my wall.’ And I was thinking, ‘This is weird, you know?’ ”
Weird perhaps, but still gratifying for the first and only woman to ever appear in an NHL pre-season game. Rheaume’s world changed forever after she stopped seven of the nine shots she faced Sept. 23, 1992 for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues. She went on to play for eight different men’s teams in four minor leagues over the years, along with a team in Austria. She founded a foundation, worked in hockey and is raising two hockey-playing boys, one of whom is on the fast track with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. And starting this winter, filming will begin on Between the Pipes, the story of Rheaume’s life from the time she started playing hockey at five to when she appeared with the Lightning.
TAMPA – Going into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup, all the chatter about the untested rookies surrounded Teuvo Teravainen and Jonathan Drouin. After a stunning turn of events, that narrative may shift directly to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The 20-year-old is clearly Tampa’s goaltender of the future. But, depending upon the status of starter Ben Bishop for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Monday night, that future might come upon us a lot sooner than anyone thought. The cone of silence surrounding injuries in the playoffs was quickly enforced by the Lightning after the game, but it sure looks as though Bishop is dealing with a groin issue.
Relations between Russia and North America are a little frosty right now. Discipline is expected from the IIHF after the Russians took off during the Canadian national anthem at the World Championship, while the newest issue of Harper’s magazine reveals that 81 percent of Russians today have a negative view of the United States, compared with just 25 percent in 2013.
And now a hockey legend has waded into the fray.
Rumors of former Sharks coach Todd McLellan being hired by the Edmonton Oilers heightened Monday with a Sportsnet report the organization would confirm McLellan’s hiring this week. Read more
The IIHF is investigating the actions of the Russian team during the post-game ceremony following the gold medal game at the World Championship.
Following Russia’s 6-1 defeat at the hands of Canada, many of the Russian players, as well as coaches and training staff, left the ice before the Canadian national anthem was played and the flag was lifted in honor of Canada’s victory. Several Russian players, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Viktor Tikhonov and Dmitry Kulikov, remained on the ice throughout the post-game celebration and Canadian anthem.
There aren’t many players on Canada World Championship roster that went overseas with hopes of taking home a million-dollar jackpot for Hockey Canada, but thanks to the team’s incredible play over the past two weeks, they’ve done exactly that.
For the first time in World Championship history, the tournament’s media and marketing sponsor, Infront Sports & Media, offered up a $1 million jackpot to any club that could make it through the entire tournament winning every single game they played in regulation. Infront likely weren’t planning on the Canadian roster being one of the most talented World Championship rosters ever assembled, but that’s exactly how things shook out, and now Hockey Canada is $1 million richer.