Canada’s world junior camp roster shows a wide-open competition

Canada's Lawson Crouse (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Heading into the 2015 world juniors in Toronto, there were many Canadian players we could basically check off as guarantees long before the roster was decided. Connor McDavid, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Sam Reinhart, Zach Fucale, Darnell Nurse, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey were all locks, for example.

With the tournament shifting to Helsinki for 2016, Canada’s braintrust will have some tougher decisions to make, as evidenced by the summer camp roster.

Read more

Want to make Team Canada? Play like Alex Killorn and Jake Muzzin

Alex Killorn Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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.

Read more

How USA Hockey went from failure to hockey factory

Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones and Pat Sieloff, all members of the NTDP, won the U-18 championship in 2012. (Photo by Pavel Paprskar/isifa/Getty Images)

It’s a crisp autumn morning in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the front office of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program is jammed with teenagers. Two NHL teams have sent scouts to interview the players, who are getting their schedules for the day from ace manager of communications and marketing Jake Wesolek.

It doesn’t take long before the smack talk about video games begins. The night before, I’d asked Jordan Greenway, a 6-foot-5, 223-pound battleship power forward, which member of the squad was best at NHL 15. He slyly demurred and said to ask two-way center Colin White. Now it’s time to unleash the snare. “So who did Colin say was the best?” Greenway asks in front of the whole crew. White, who admitted the night before that Greenway rules the sessions, nevertheless returns serve as everyone smiles and chuckles: “I never play, but I bet I could grind you out!”

The din grows as the teens shuffle about, until uber-skilled Jeremy Bracco spots the mom of fellow right winger Jack Roslovic entering from outside and runs over excitedly to give her a hug. Behind him is a trophy case featuring almost every championship chalice from the past six world under-18 tournaments, plus a couple from the world juniors.

These aren’t your standard goofy teenagers: they’re the best prospects in the nation. And every year a new cohort signs up for battle. In less than two decades, the NTDP has become a force, counting at least 10 NHL draft picks per year in recent times and helping Team USA go from also-ran to constant threat on the international stage.

And it all started with failure. Read more

Team USA summer roster out; look for an experienced world junior squad

Noah Hanifin of Boston College (Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

Team USA was almost shockingly young at the world juniors in 2015, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the Americans lost to Russia in the quarterfinal, mainly due to a rash of unnecessary penalties. But the wound of that loss could become vital scar tissue for the 2016 squad.

Because USA Hockey just released its preliminary summer camp roster and it is heavy on experience.

Read more

Teuvo Teravainen will help the Chicago Blackhawks stay on top

Teuvo Teravainen (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Today, there is no salary cap in Chicago – just a lot of elated, exhausted Hawks trying to wring champagne out of their beards. Teuvo Teravainen won’t have that problem, since he was too young to grow a facebush en route to the 2015 title and that’s great news for a franchise that expects to contend for the Stanley Cup again next season. Because the cap will be of great concern to GM Stan Bowman right after the Hawks hold their latest victory parade.

Read more

Ryan Kennedy’s Prospect of the Year for all 30 NHL teams

Nikolaj Ehlers (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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:

Read more

Ending junior on a high note, Max Domi prepares for the NHL

Max Domi (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The lasting image of Max Domi’s 2014-15 campaign was either his tour-de-force performance at the world juniors, or his arching pop-shot goal against Sarnia, if you’re more London Knights-centric. But the sturdy and dynamic left winger made just as much of an impact off the ice this season, taking on the captaincy in London and dedicating his spare time to children with diabetes, an affliction he also has to manage himself.

To that end, Domi was recognized with the OHL’s Mickey Renaud Captain’s Trophy, named in honor of the former Windsor Spitfires leader who passed away well before his time.

“I’ve been lucky to be a part of four unbelievable hockey teams and you take things from different players every year,” Domi said. “This year we had a younger team and leading by example was my No. 1 thing.”

The Arizona Coyotes first-rounder would meet with diabetic kids after games and respond to their letters – many of which came after he helped Canada to gold at the world juniors in Toronto.

It’s another side to a player best known for goal-scoring and physical play and the attitude he displayed this year will surely help when he tries to crack his first NHL roster in the fall.

Last season, Domi was cut from the Coyotes, even if more than a few pundits thought he was ready for duty. But the Desert Dogs had rushed prospects in the past and been burned, particularly during the Wayne Gretzky coaching era. So Domi went back to London and put in the work.

“Max had a terrific season and his development was exactly what he had hoped for,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney. “He went back to junior with a great attitude, became captain of his team and obviously had a terrific world junior experience. And the icing on the cake was being named captain of the league.”

Even earning the ‘C’ in London was gratifying for Domi, especially since it came from his teammates, via a vote.

“No one likes to talk about themselves,” Domi said. “But when your best buddies acknowledge you like that…it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever felt.”

While Arizona still isn’t gifting youngsters with roster spots, there will be jobs available on a team that is in the midst of a rebuild. Along with Domi, there’s speedster Anthony Duclair, who played 18 games for the New York Rangers before returning to junior. He was then sent to Arizona in the Keith Yandle trade. Henrik Samuelsson, a bullish power forward with skill and nastiness, was great for AHL Portland in the playoffs and will also get a long look.

With Antoine Vermette dealt at the deadline to Chicago and the forwards corps not exactly deep to begin with, players such as Domi and Duclair could easily see top-six minutes befitting of their skills, if they show well in camp.

“We need to introduce some younger players into our lineup and I fully expect Max to be one of those players, provided his performance is there,” Maloney said. “We’re looking forward to seeing him in the fall, seeing him in a Coyote uniform and helping us get better.”

For Domi, who helped the Knights win one OHL title and host a Memorial Cup the next year, he really did it all during his time in London. Now it’s time for the left winger to make an even bigger leap into the best league in the world.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “It was pretty emotional finishing off my junior career, but I have a big summer ahead.”

Will Lightning be forced to go from a (Ben) Bishop to a rook(ie)?

Andrei Vasilevskiy (left) and Braydon Coburn  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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.

Read more