• The Jack Eichel era is almost here, Buffalo

    Ryan Kennedy
    Jack Eichel (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

    The latter half of summer seems to drag on forever in the hockey world. Sure, you’ll have the occasional event pop up, but free agency has long lost its luster, no big trades are happening and in general, it’s a quiet time.

    So if you’re a Buffalo Sabres fan, take solace in the fact that the season is almost here. And with it comes rookie center Jack Eichel, the type of prospect that can change a franchise’s fortunes.

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  • Report: Blackhawks have been contacted by five teams about potential Patrick Kane trade

    Jared Clinton
    Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks

    There is still no resolution Patrick Kane’s current legal situation, but regardless of the outcome, the Chicago Blackhawks may have some potential trade partners should they be looking to ship out the 26-year-old right winger.

    According to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, a league source told him, “at least five teams contacted the (Blackhawks) once the Buffalo News first reported the investigation.”

    The investigation involves an alleged incident between Kane and a woman at his Hamburg, N.Y., home and has been one of the biggest stories of the off-season. Kane has not been charged with a crime and the investigation is still ongoing. Read more

  • Islanders shelving Ice Girls a huge step forward

    Ken Campbell
    New York Islanders Ice Girls . (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The New York Islanders were responsible for introducing a tawdry and unneeded element to the NHL 14 years ago. And, thankfully, they could be on the forefront of ushering the same one out. This is one time when we can only hope the NHL continues to be the copycat league it has always been.

    According to SI.com, the Islanders will not be moving their Ice Girls squad to Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the fall, replacing it with a co-ed crew that we can only presume will wear more clothing. The Islanders were a pioneer(?) in the employment of Ice Girls, becoming the first team to use them back in 2001 and spawning copycats around the league. Read more

  • Why the Dallas Stars elite offense just got a whole lot scarier

    Jared Clinton
    Valeri Nichushkin (Glenn James/Getty Images)

    For two consecutive off-seasons, Stars GM Jim Nill has improved the Dallas roster by adding veteran scorers. Last summer, it was Jason Spezza. This year, it was Patrick Sharp. But one addition that could bolster the Stars isn’t one brought in from outside the organization — it’s a young player who’s set to return from injury.

    After missing 61 games in 2014-15 due to hip surgery, Valeri Nichushkin says he’s feeling fit and ready for the 2015-16 season, which could mean trouble for the rest of the league and especially for the Stars’ Central Division opponents.

    “Everything feels so good now,” Nichushkin told Mark Stepneski of Inside Edge. “I don’t feel pain anymore. It is great, and it makes me happy. I don’t think about [last season] anymore. I just forget about it and focus on the new season.” Read more

  • Owen Sound center Jeff Gilligan retires at 19 due to heart condition

    Jared Clinton
    Jeffrey Gilligan (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    With the OHL season approaching, Owen Sound Attack center Jeff Gilligan announced some gut-wrenching news: he’ll be forced to retire from the game he loves at 19 due to a heart condition.

    Gilligan, who was drafted by Owen Sound in the eighth round of the 2012 OHL draft, has spent the past two seasons with the Attack. Sadly, however, his 58-game campaign in 2014-15 will be his last at a competitive level.

    “Unfortunately I will no longer be able to play hockey,” Gilligan announced via his Twitter account. “I have been diagnosed with a heart condition that will prevent me from playing. I will miss everything about the game especially the past two years spent in Owen Sound! I wish nothing but the best to the organization and my team mates and I am very thankful for being a part of the team.” Read more

  • Lucic says it would be a dream come true to play for hometown Canucks. Could it happen?

    Jared Clinton

    Newly acquired Los Angeles Kings left winger Milan Lucic is about to embark on his first professional season outside of a Boston Bruins uniform, but he might already have his sights set on a third professional home come 2016-17.

    In a recent interview with TSN 1410, Lucic, a Vancouver native, was asked about whether or not he’d ever come to his hometown to suit up for the Canucks, and Lucic didn’t write off the possibility of him skating alongside some of the same players he watched his then-Bruins defeat in the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

    “I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen moving on,” Lucic told TSN 1410. “I mean I have one year left on my contract, and there’s a possibility that I can hit the [unrestricted free agent] market. It’s obviously something that’s been a dream of mine since I’ve been a kid, is to play in your hometown and play for the Canucks, but right now the main focus is going down to L.A. and trying to make the most of that.” Read more

  • Top 10 fantasy sleeper picks for 2015-16

    Matt Larkin
    David Pastrnak.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

    They’re back. Everyone’s favorite players to draft in fantasy pools. The sleepers.

    There’s a special high that comes with being “the genius who predicted _______’s breakout season.” That’s why it’s so intoxicating to research sleepers every year. If you’ve already studied my most recent update of the top 200 overall players, now it’s time to dig for undervalued guys.

    As I outlined in last year’s sleeper list, I identify them as follows:

    (a) Players who will outperform their average draft position
    (b) Players who will outperform some players drafted before them
    (c) Players you can steal cheap at the ends of drafts to reap major profits

    After taking last year’s feedback into consideration, I want to stress (a) and (b) a lot more than (c). There’s a misconception every sleeper has to be “that guy no one else knows about who’s still on the board in the final round of a draft.” Anyone looking for only that type of sleeper on this list will end up posting something like “Gee, thanks for the shocking insight on Teuvo Teravainen, I had no idea who that guy was, jerk.” But that person misses the more important point. Teravainen goes on average 172nd overall in fantasy drafts, according to Yahoo’s ADP (average draft position) numbers. My rank for Teravainen in the top 200: 139th overall. Essentially, I’m saying he should outperform 32 guys currently being drafted ahead of him. Savvy GMs may think it’s no big revelation to talk up Teravainen, but the general drafting public evidently hasn’t caught on yet. Teravainen’s a legit sleeper.

    Of course, I’m not going to tout Ryan Johansen as a sleeper when I rank him 18th and he’s going 33rd. There’s a line to draw here. I still want to help you find guys you can actually steal in the mid to late rounds. With that, let’s begin the 2015-16 list:

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  • What’s holding up Stamkos and Kopitar extensions? The ‘R’ word

    Anze Kopitar  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    If you’re Steve Yzerman, you should have had Steven Stamkos signed to an eight-year contract extension more than a month ago. Same goes for Dean Lombardi and his dealings with Anze Kopitar. It’s simple really. These guys are franchise players. Sign them at the going rate for the maximum number of years and get rid of the distraction.

    After all, that’s what Stan Bowman did last summer and he killed two potential headaches with one Aspirin. Faced with a similar situation with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks GM needed exactly eight days to get his two stars signed to identical eight-year deals worth $84 million. Cap hits of $10.5 million per times two represented a bold move, but in reality, the Blackhawks got themselves a deal. Had Toews and Kane played out the final seasons of their contracts and gone on the open market separately, they would have cashed in even more. Read more