• Is Australia a land of hockey opportunity? 20,000 showed up for a game in Sydney

    Jason Kay
    Canadian and American pros played in front of 20,000 spectators at Sydney's Allphone Arena.

    Is Australia ready for NHL hockey? Don’t laugh. It might not be as far-fetched as you’d think.

    Kerry Goulet, the brains and brawn behind the awareness and charitable organization stopconcussions.com, has returned from his second exhibition tour of the nation and has been blown away by the support the games have generated.

    All matches on the four-city swing this summer were sold out, including a 20,000-fan throng at Allphones Arena in Sydney. Smaller venues in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne were also jam-packed. And it wasn’t a cheap ticket; seats ranged in price from $74-$230 in Sydney.

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  • NHL expansion: What would a Las Vegas roster look like?

    Ryan Kennedy
    Would the Red Wings expose Stephen Weiss to a draft?  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    The online world was abuzz Tuesday night with various reports about NHL expansion, specifically Las Vegas as an initial destination. Personally, I think the league is fine at 30 teams and that contracting to 28 wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But in the interest of fun, I started to put together a roster for a potential Las Vegas team and you know what? The options aren’t that bad. I’m assuming that an expansion draft for the squad takes place in the summer of 2015 and that the players involved basically stay on their same career trajectories. Based on the last expansion draft in 2000, teams could protect one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards, or two goalies, three defensemen and seven forwards. Players still on entry-level deals were excluded.

    This does provide a few pickles out there. For instance, Ottawa just re-signed Craig Anderson, but there’s no way the Sens leave Robin Lehner unprotected; meaning only three blueliners are behind the shield. Obviously Erik Karlsson is one and Marc Methot another. But is the third Chris Phillips or Jared Cowen? Do you assume Phillips would rather retire a Senator and that Las Vegas would know that? And you can’t give up on Cowen this quickly, right?

    And pity Boston, where the Bruins just have too many good defensemen (I’m also assuming pending free agents would stick with their current teams for the sake of this exercise). I tried to get up to the salary cap floor here, but I would think the NHL would be a little forgiving for the first season, so my 23-man roster comes in at around $50 million. The team was also given the third overall pick in the draft, since the rest of the league would riot if Vegas got Connor McDavid right off the hop. So here’s what your 2015-16 Las Vegas team could look like:

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  • Born in the USA could be theme song of 2016 NHL draft

    Ken Campbell
    Jakob Chychrun  (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

    The best draft USA has ever had was in 2007 when Patrick Kane went first overall and was immediately followed by James Van Riemsdyk. Two years prior was close, when Bobby Ryan went second overall behind Sidney Crosby and Jack Johnson was taken third overall.

    But if current trends continue for the next two seasons, the 2016 draft will put the rest of those in their dust in terms of producing high-end players trained in America. Not only is it a good bet USA will produce its seventh first overall pick – unless Jack Eichel is taken first overall in 2015, in which case it would be USA’s eighth – but there’s a chance the top five could be chock full of American talent. Read more

  • Who won the Phil Kessel to Toronto trade…five years later?

    Jason Kay
    Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    For a guy who doesn’t say much, Phil Kessel is the source of significant noise.

    Ever since he begged out of Boston and was dealt to Toronto for a trio of high draft picks, fans and media on both sides of the equation have been debating the merits of the blockbuster.

    The derisive “Thank you, Kessel” chants in Beantown remain alive and boisterous, while the Maple Leafs showed faith in their sniper by rewarding him with an eight-year, $64-million contract extension that kicks in this season.

    The trade officially turns five on Sept. 18 and the question is: who has had the happier returns? As part of a recurring feature in which we re-open a cold file (ok, this one still has some burning embers) from a deal that transpired five or more years ago, we re-assess the swap.

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  • St. Louis Blues get a new jersey – what do you think?

    Rory Boylen
    Image via Chris Creamer.

    Monday night, the St. Louis Blues unveiled their new jersey designs for the 2014-15 season at the Ice Breaker fan event. We’re already fans of the Blues logo, having ranked them third in the NHL in our logo rankings last week, and now we like their jerseys even more.

    The team says the “uniforms reflect a modernized version of the classic look worn by the team from 1998-2007. The uniform leaves the Blue Note unchanged, symbolizing the club’s pride in one of the greatest logos in all of sports.”

    What do you think? Read more

  • THN’s top 200 fantasy players for 2014-15

    Matt Larkin
    SidneyCrosby

    I love the Don Henley track “Boys of Summer.” It’s almost impossible to sing the chorus in karaoke, which sucks, but I dig the way it captures this time of year. Nobody on the road…nobody on the beach…I feel it in the air…the summer’s out of reach.

    That feeling – mild chill in the air, slight breeze – gets me thinking about fantasy hockey drafts. It’s that time again. Most of what you need to know for your draft is in our crackerjack THN Ultimate Fantasy Guide, which is on newsstands now. You’ll even find a sorted list of the top 300 projected scorers.

    One thing that list doesn’t cover, however, is any league not based entirely on points. What about the head-to-head formats in which you accumulate goaltending stats and penalty minutes on top of your offensive numbers? How do you know when to draft a goalie or defenseman over a forward?

    I present to you a new ranking set. This list is based on a standard Yahoo head-to-head format with the following categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power play points, shots on goal, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

    Personally, I like scrapping penalty minutes for hits and adding saves to the goalie category, but I’ll stick with the standard configuration to ensure these rankings have a wider reach. Let’s get it on! Watch for updates throughout training camps.

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  • Future NHL stars excited to be on Upper Deck hockey cards

    Darnell Nurse. (Photo courtesy of the NHLPA.)

    By Michael Musalem

    The next generation of NHL stars was on full display in Toronto this past Saturday, as 33 of the league’s most promising recent draftees gathered at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre for some serious face time.

    The event put on by Upper Deck, the league’s official trading card partner, and the NHLPA is held each year with the purpose of photographing the prospects in their official NHL team gear for the first time, giving them all the opportunity to live out any pro’s lifelong dream of having their very own hockey card.   Read more

  • Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov has Russian intelligence on Barry Trotz

    Ryan Kennedy
    Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

    There was a very distinct Russian clique at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto this weekend, with Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, Boston’s Alexander Khoklachev and the Tampa Bay duo of Vlad Namestnikov and Andrei Vasilevskiy. They hung out during media availability and on the ice, teasing Vasilevskiy as he forged through a rare English interview and cracking up when Khoklachev bailed behind the net.

    For Kuznetsov, this was clearly his element. The Capitals’ first pick in 2010 had been a highly anticipated prospect for years, choosing to develop his game with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL instead of North America and for a while there, it seemed like he might never come over. But the powerful and gifted center did indeed make his debut last year, getting into 17 games with Washington once his KHL campaign was done and posting a decent nine points.

    You would think a player who had already helped his hometown Chelyabinsk squad get to a Gagarin Cup final in Russia would be a little less awed by the NHL, but that wasn’t the case with Kuznetsov and his debut.

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