We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:
The Toronto Maple Leafs may have only qualified for the NHL’s post-season once over the past 10 years – pulling it off in a shortened 48-game season – but they’re still the league’s most valuable franchise, according to Forbes’ annual rankings.
The last time Forbes ranked the 30 NHL teams according to value was in November of 2013. Toronto finished atop the list with an estimated $1.15 billion worth and the Rangers came in second at $850 million.
Wednesday, Forbes released its top 50 list of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The top of the list was dominated by soccer teams, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United taking the top three spots. Thirty of the 32 NFL franchises made the top 50 (Jacksonville and Oakland failed to make the cut) and six baseball teams made it. From the NHL, only Toronto cracked the all-world list. Read more
Some two weeks after the beginning of unrestricted free agency, the NHL’s pool of talent-for-hire has shrunken considerably. Players raced to sign for as much money and/or term as possible in the first few days of the month, and since then, the pace of signings has slowed to a trickle. Some players may choose to wait the rest of the summer and into training camp to see if trades and/or injuries open up a roster spot and/or a better salary.
That said, there are still players out there who have something to contribute. My colleague Ken Campbell assembled a list of them in early July, but all but three players on it – veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson (who will return to Detroit or retire), two-time Stanley Cup-winner Dustin Penner and Devin Setoguchi – have been taken off the market after agreeing to new deals. So who’s left? In no particular order, here are five UFA players who can help a team:
1. Lee Stempniak, RW. The soon-to-be-32-year-old has bounced around the league since he broke in with the Blues in 2004-05 – and while he’ll never be mistaken for Alex Ovechkin, he’s about as reliable a 10-15-goal-scorer as you’ll find in the league. He’ll also come significantly cheaper than the $2.5 million he’s earned in each of the past two seasons. Read more
The NHL’s salary arbitration hearings begin Monday, July 21 through Aug. 1 in Toronto. While 23 hearings were scheduled (20 player-elected, three club-elected), as of July 15 four players – Boston’s Matt Bartkowski, Dallas’ Cameron Gaunce, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Ottawa’s Derek Grant – avoided arbitration by re-signing with their teams. Another, St. Louis’ Vladimir Sobotka, has jumped to the KHL.
Most NHL arbitration cases never reach an arbiter, as players often re-sign with their teams before the hearing takes place. It’s a process both sides prefer to avoid. It’s ego-bruising for the player as management makes its case over why he’s not worth the salary he seeks. Management subsequently risks losing that player to unrestricted free agency once his arbiter-awarded contract has expired.
In most cases, arbitration is used as a negotiation tactic by both sides. For the player and management, it establishes a deadline toward reaching a new contract without negotiations dragging on into training camp and pre-season. When a team takes a player to arbitration, it’s also to prevent him from receiving an offer sheet from a rival club, except for a five-day window from July 1-5.
Just last week, we looked at an NHL 15 trailer that showed off the “Next Generation Player” and how layers would be built into the creation of each individual. Before that, we got a trailer designed to show off the visuals of the game, which will be hockey’s first on the next-generation platforms of Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Now we catch a glimpse of the physics that will make up the NHL 15 world. Not only does this video explore the impact these physics will have on each individual player on or away from the puck, but it also looks at how the puck itself will react. Now it rolls!
Prepare to get incredibly frustrated when the rubber disc jumps over your stick and spoils your breakaway. (Although I thought the pucks already bounced in the corner of NHL 14.) Read more
I can’t vouch for the state of hockey in Australia. Its men’s program is, after all, ranked 34th by the International Ice Hockey Federation, tucked just behind powerhouses Mexico and Israel.
But there are signs of shinny positivity emanating from the land down under.
A couple weeks ago, an Aussie-bred player was drafted by an NHL team for the first time ever when the Capitals spent the 98th overall selection on Nathan Walker. The 5-foot-10, 20-year-old left winger was actually born in Wales, but grew up in Sydney.
If you care to watch the NHL All-Star Game – and if you do, you probably have kids – you’ll know the league hasn’t used black vs. white jerseys in a long time. They’ve gone with red, white and blue combinations, they’ve tried green and purple. But neon green? That one would be new.
Lo and behold, that may be the direction the NHL goes in its 2015 All-Star Game in Columbus.
A Reebok catalog that became accessible online shows all kinds of apparel from all 30 NHL teams. Then, on Page 94, it starts into all-star paraphernalia. And that’s when we start seeing an awful lot of hints that black and bright, bright green will be a big part of the event.
First clue: take note of the picture above. The Columbus All-Star Game logo features the team’s colors, but above that we see a “00″ that looks like numbers on the back of a jersey. The numbers are black, with a neon green outline.
Second clue: this logo that appears on Page 107 of the catalog.
These are interesting times for the Detroit Red Wings. They’re coming off a season in which they just made the playoffs after moving to the far inferior Eastern Conference, went 0-for-everyone in free agency and have a mix of wobbly veterans and kids that could well see their run of 23 straight seasons in the playoffs come to an end.
Head coach Mike Babcock, who has one year left on his contract and would be the biggest free agent on the market next summer if he got there, said recently that he won’t negotiate a contract extension during the 2014-15 season.
Adding another layer to the intrigue is the status of GM Ken Holland. Both he and Babcock are inextricably linked. In fact, Babcock has said in the past he wants to wait to see what Holland’s status will be before addressing his own. Read more