"Pretty much before every game I have to remind him. But he doesn't shoot enough. He never has."
- Joe Thornton's father, Wayne, on how he always tells his son to shoot the puck more.
"Pretty much before every game I have to remind him. But he doesn't shoot enough. He never has."
- Joe Thornton's father, Wayne, on how he always tells his son to shoot the puck more.
What can Vegas Golden Knight fans expect from their Year 1 roster? If they're lucky, they might end up with a player who makes an impact like these guys did.
Now that Las Vegas’ new NHL team has a name and a logo, hockey fans everywhere have begun speculating what their expansion roster will look like.
Historically, initial NHL expansion rosters have not been much to look at. They are usually pieces off the scrap heap that the rest of the league doesn’t want. However, there is usually a player that fans can gravitate to and be the “man” in that city, at least for a short time.
With that in mind, here’s an objective look at the best player from each modern-day expansion-team roster.
Pat Falloon, 1991-92 San Jose Sharks
Pat Falloon is most known as the answer to the trivia question: Who was drafted after Eric Lindros in the 1991 NHL draft? In that context, Falloon didn’t amount to much when you compare him to Hall of Famers Lindros, Scott Niedermayer, and Peter Forsberg who were all taken in the top six in that draft.
However, at the time, Falloon was the symbol of promise for the brand new Sharks. Coming right out of junior to the NHL, Falloon played in 79 games leading San Jose in goals (25) and points (59). At 19, everyone expected him to only get better. That didn’t happen as both those totals ended up being career highs.
Brian Bradley, 1992-93 Tampa Bay Lighting
Tampa Bay owner/GM Phil Esposito had no illusions about the quality of players he would be getting in the expansion draft. When he was asked if there are any superstars on the board he responded, “Are you blind?"
That’s what makes Brian Bradley’s first season as a member of the Lightning so surprising. Prior to being the 36th player drafted in the 1992 expansion draft, the 28-year-old center had been in the NHL for six years, splitting time with the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs, and never scoring more than 19 goals and 48 points.
In the Lightning’s inaugural season, Bradley took the NHL by storm by scoring 42 goals and 86 points. The following season, he scored 24 goals and 64 points, a step back but still better than anything he had done previous to getting to Tampa Bay.
Sylvain Turgeon, 1992-93 Ottawa Senators
It’s hard to find the best player on a 10 win team, but Turgeon was the closest to it in Ottawa’s return to the NHL. Turgeon had spent nine years in the league as a promising player with the Hartford Whalers, New Jersey Devils, and Montreal Canadiens.
Turgeon was a known commodity in Ottawa having come over from the Habs, he was third in Calder Trophy voting in his first year in Hartford, and had all-star team votes in 1986 and 1990. In what wound up being the twilight of his career, Turgeon led the Senators with 25 goals and 104 penalty minutes in that first year and played two more seasons before retiring in 1995.
John Vanbiesbrouck, 1993-94 Florida Panthers
Prior to being drafted first overall in the 1993 NHL expansion draft, Vanbiesbrouck had already established himself as one of the top goalies in the NHL. Within his nine full seasons with the New York Rangers, he had a record of 200-177-47, with a Vezina Trophy and a first-team all-star nod in 1986.
When he was exposed to the Panthers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks, he was easily the best player available. In the inaugural Panthers season, Vanbiesbrouck posted a 21-25-11 record with .924 save percentage and a 2.53 goals-against average. That was good enough for him to be named a second-team all-star and was one of the Panthers representatives in the 1994 All-Star Game.
Guy Hebert, 1993-94 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
The Ducks, who were “mighty” at the time, were competitive in their first NHL season due to in large part to goalie Guy Hebert. Hebert, an eighth round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in 1987, only played in a handful of games in St. Louis behind Curtis Joseph before he was exposed in the expansion draft.
When the Panthers took Vanbiesbrouck, Hebert was snapped up by the Mighty Ducks with the second pick. It was thanks to his play in the inaugural season that the Ducks finished just out of the playoffs, ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers. He set career highs in wins with 20 and GAA at 2.83.
Hebert became Anaheim’s first franchise goalie stayed there for eight of his 10 years in the NHL.
Sergei Krivokrasov, 1998-99 Nashville Predators
There were other players on Nashville who had more points that Krivokrasov that season, but this 24-year-old right winger was someone they were hoping to build around. Drafted 12th overall by the Blackhawks in the 1992 NHL draft, Krivokrasov never scored more than 13 goals.
With the Predators thinking maybe a change of scenery could help, they made a deal with the Blackhawks to acquire him for future considerations. In that first year in Nashville, the Predators looked like geniuses. Krivokrasov led the team in goals with 25 in 67 games and was the team’s representative at the 1999 All-Star Game. However, he reverted back to his old ways the following season only scoring nine goals in 63 games before the Predators traded him to the Flames.
Andrew Brunette, 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers
In Atlanta’s second coming in the NHL, everyone was excited about first overall draft pick Patrik Stefan. However, as the 19-year-old was still getting his feet wet in the NHL, it was Andrew Brunette who took the scoring mantle for the Thrashers. Brunette led the team in both goals (23) and points (50).
Brunette’s development into an everyday NHL regular was one of the lone bright spots in Atlanta as they went onto a league worst 14-61-7 record with 39 points. They finished 15 points behind the next worst Lightning.
Manny Fernandez, 2000-01 Minnesota Wild
Just like it was in Atlanta the year before, Minnesota was looking forward to an 18-year-old Marian Gaborik to develop. While he put up 18 goals to tie for team lead, the key cog in Minnesota’s return to the NHL was goaltender Manny Fernandez.
Fernandez made the Wild respectable, making sure they were in most games they played. He posted a 19-17-4 record with a decent 2.24 GAA and .924 save percentage in the 42 games that he played that season. He helped the Wild finish ahead of established teams like Anaheim, Florida, Tampa Bay, and the New York Islanders that season with 68 points.
Geoff Sanderson, 2000-01 Columbus Blue Jackets
Sanderson was already a known goal scorer through his 10 years in the NHL prior to being taken in the 2000 expansion draft by Columbus. He had reached the 40-goal plateau twice 1993 and 1994 in his time in Hartford and helped the Buffalo Sabres reach the Stanley Cup final in 1999.
So when Sanderson came to the Blue Jackets, he was easily their top goal scoring option. With that he scored 30 goals and 56 points in that first year and was veteran voice on the team until he was given a chance to play in the playoffs again by being dealt to the Vancouver Canucks in 2004.
A pair of captains find themselves in the rumor mill early in the campaign. Montreal’s Max Pacioretty and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog are both potential trade chips in the hunt for improvements on the back end.
Last June, the Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey world by shipping defenseman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for blueliner Shea Weber. For months leading up to that move, Subban was the subject of frequent trade speculation.
Nearly six months after the Subban deal, another notable member of the Canadiens' core surfaced in the rumor mill. The Score's Sean O'Leary includes Habs captain Max Pacioretty among his site's list of six NHL players who should get ready to pack their bags this season.
O'Leary believes the Canadiens must stabilize their blueline beyond Weber. In his opinion, the emergence of Alexander Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk makes the 28-year-old Pacioretty “expendable.” After three straight 30-plus goal seasons, the Habs captain has bounced around the lineup. Prior to his two-goal performance in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings, he was on pace for only 17 goals.
Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos doesn't believe the Canadiens intend to trade Pacioretty, but points out some teams think his situation bears scrutiny. He notes there's some friction between the winger and coach Michel Therrien over his usage this season.
Kypreos echoes O'Leary's comments, claiming a lot of teams wonder if Pacioretty could become a trade chip to boost Montreal's blueline depth. His colleague Elliotte Friedman suggests it could be difficult for the Habs to get equal value.
It's no secret Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is reportedly in the market for a top-four defenseman. Despite Friedman's speculation about the type of return Bergevin could receive for Pacioretty, a scorer of his calibre will attract considerable interest in the trade market.
If Bergevin is willing to move Pacioretty, he should get a solid return. Given the winger's $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2018-19, it would likely have to be a dollar-for-dollar deal.
The Anaheim Ducks could be a trade partner. They're loaded with good young defensemen and could certainly use an experienced left winger such as Pacioretty on their scoring lines. Bergevin could cast an eye upon Cam Fowler ($4 million per season) or Sami Vatanen ($4.875 million).
Such a move, however, would leave Montreal thin on left wing and weaken their offense. While the Habs are among the top-10 in scoring, they've struggled of late in that category. Shipping out a proven 30-goal sniper in Pacioretty won't help them. Prior to the Subban trade, many observers (including yours truly) doubted he'd be dealt. Bergevin's shown a willingness to make big moves for the right return, so perhaps a Pacioretty trade isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.
AVALANCHE CAPTAIN LANDESKOG MOVED FOR BLUELINE HELP?
The Canadiens aren't the only club that could trade their captain for blueline help. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports of “rumblings” the Colorado Avalanche could move left wing Gabriel Landeskog for a big-minute defenseman.
Like the Habs, the Avs must improve their depth on defense. They enter this week averaging 31.8 shots-again per game, ranking among the league's worst.
This isn't the first time Landeskog, 24, has popped up in the rumor mill. There was some talk last summer linking him to the Ducks and then-unsigned blueliner Hampus Lindholm, though that speculation didn't go very far.
Matheson wonders if the Avs might offer up Landeskog to the New York Islanders for rearguard Travis Hamonic. The Isles reportedly seek a scoring winger for John Tavares' line. In recent weeks, there was also talk of Landeskog's teammate Matt Duchene being peddled to the Isles.
Despite the rumors and the Avs' ongoing struggles, GM Joe Sakic maintains his belief in core players such as Landeskog and Duchene. Following last week's 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sakic told Terry Frei of the Denver Post he still has faith in his core, claiming the club's poor start is a team issue.
Sakic doesn't sound like a GM keen to shake up his roster. That doesn't mean, however, he won't that option. Former coach Patrick Roy can no longer be labelled the bad guy for their poor play. Sooner or later, the core players could pay the price.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
If the Coyotes don't start improving, they could start selling assets like Martin Hanzal, or even youngster Anthony Duclair.
Entering December, the Arizona Coyotes remain mired near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Their lack of improvement continues to stoke speculation that they could make a move or two.
Much of the talk earlier this season focused upon center Martin Hanzal. The 6-foot-6, 226-pounder is slated for unrestricted free agency next summer, sparking talk the Coyotes could move him if he's unsigned by the March 1 trade deadline.
In recent weeks, however, sophomore right winger Anthony Duclair rose to the fore in Coyotes trade chatter. Nearly two weeks ago, Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reported the 21 year old could be available, though he expected the Coyotes would seek “a pretty penny” in return.
Duclair enjoyed a 20-goal, 44-point performance as a rookie in 2015-16. This season, however, he's struggled to score, tallying only four points in 21 games.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Coyotes aren't shopping Duclair, but are listening to offers. Dreger believes they could move him if they get a significant return, such as a good young center. He also said Duclair's name popped up briefly back in June.
Despite Duclair's struggles this season, it seems unlikely the Coyotes want to move him. Still, it's worthwhile to at least listen to what's being offered by other clubs. Whether one of them is willing to meet the Coyotes' price remains to be seen.
SPOONER'S PLAY MAKES NEW DEAL UNLIKELY
The ongoing struggles of Boston Bruins left winger Ryan Spooner continues to make him a subject of interest in the rumor mill. Earlier this week, the Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa suggested the 24-year-old's poor performance this season could hurt his chances of re-signing with the Bruins next summer.
After netting 49 points in 2015-16, Spooner has eight points in 22 games this season. That puts him on pace for only 29 points.
CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty observes Spooner was relegated to fourth-line duty in several recent games. He speculates the young forward's difficulties this season could be tied to playing on the wing, rather than his preferred position at center.
Spooner won't unseat Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci as the Bruins' top-two centers. It's worth noting he played largely on the wing last season, too.
Should Spooner fail to improve, Haggerty wonders if he might become part of a package deal to bring the Bruins a mobile defenseman A rival club could take that gamble on Spooner, but the Bruins could be forced to bundle him with a high draft pick and perhaps a top prospect to land a skilled puck-moving blueliner.
MAPLE LEAFS EXPECTED TO MOVE HOLLAND
Recent Toronto Maple Leafs speculation centers upon which of their young wingers they might trade for a top-pairing defenseman. Meanwhile, they're expected to part ways with center Peter Holland.
The Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby reports Holland's agent, Joe Resnick, said Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello intends to trade his client. Lamoriello also decided the 25 year old wouldn't accompany the club on its current road trip.
TSN's Darren Dreger said there's limited interest in Holland. He also believes the center could be placed on waivers.
Holland spent the past two seasons on the Leafs' checking lines, tallying 25 points in 2014-15 and 27 points last season. At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, he's a big, versatile forward who can skate at center or on the wing. With the Leafs bringing in younger talent this season, Holland's been a healthy scratch for all but eight games.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggests the Arizona Coyotes as a possible destination for Holland. With center Brad Richardson sidelined indefinitely with a broken leg, they're in need of size and experience down the middle.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
Two months into the campaign, some of the players who were expected to be difference makers haven’t been able to find their scoring touch. These five scorers are still looking to break through.
If you would have said before the season that the top of the league’s scoring charts would feature the likes of Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane, no one would have batted an eye. Those three are the usual suspects and players expected to dominate the score sheet.
What some would consider unexpected, however, is that the Jets’ Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine find themselves in the top 10 in scoring, placing sixth and tenth, respectively, through roughly two months of the campaign.
For all the familiar faces and surprising scorers topping the charts, though, there are a handful of notable names who haven’t been able to find their offensive game quite yet.
Here are five key players still looking to find the scoring touch this season:
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Despite the fact he’s getting up there in age, Marleau, 37, has consistently been a big time contributor for the Sharks. He potted 25 goals and 48 points in 82 games while skating top-line minutes in San Jose in 2015-16, but this season is looking like a trying one for the veteran winger.
Through 25 games, Marleau has six goals and eight points, and he’s on pace to have the worst overall scoring season of his entire career. He’s had a decreased role this season, skating less than 17 minutes per game, but that can only be blamed so much for his lack of production to this point.
He’s still staring down another 20-goal campaign, because of course he is, but if he can’t start picking up some helpers along the way, this could be a sub-30-point year for Marleau.
Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
From 2006-07 to 2014-15, Plekanec, 34, only had one full campaign in which he didn’t notch 20 goals. Then his goal scoring slipped to 14 in 2015-16, and it could be headed for a new, ugly low in 2016-17.
It’s still really early in the year, to be sure, but through 24 games, Plekanec has only found twine once and his seven points put him on pace for just 24 on the year. That’s fewer points than he had goals during the 2014-15 season.
However, even if his scoring touch is falling off a cliff this season, Plekanec’s skill in his own end is more than enough to make him a valuable asset for the Canadiens. In tight games, he’s an incredibly reliable player for coach Michel Therrien to have at his disposal.
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators
Ryan was a bonafide sniper when he was acquired by the Senators ahead of the 2013-14 season. For three straight years, he had posted 30-plus goals for the Anaheim Ducks and only eight players in the entire league scored more goals from the start of 2009-10 to the culmination of the 2011-12 campaign. His goal scoring has dipped in Ottawa, though.
In the three seasons since becoming a Senator, Ryan has two 20-goal campaigns and one with 18, and it’s looking like it could hit new lows this season.
He has managed just three goals and eight points in 21 games, has been skating middle-six minutes and finding offense hasn’t been easy for the 29-year-old. It’s worth mentioning, of course, that he’s been hampered by a hand injury at times this season. Even still, an 11-goal pace? Not great, Bob!
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
No one would ever deny that Bergeron is one of the single most important players to his team in the league. The Bruins without Bergeron aren’t the same team, and not enough can be said about the impact Bergeron’s ability at both ends of the ice can have on a game.
That said, he’s having a tough time finding the score sheet this year.
The 31-year-old has only scored four goals this year and his seven points put him into a tie with Tim Schaller, a player non-Bruins fans haven’t likely given a seconds’ thought to all season. With the skill Bergeron possesses, his whole year could turn around at the drop of a hat, but right now he’s on pace to have a 14-goal, 25-point year. That would see him finish seven points back of his point total during the lockout shortened season.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals winger was one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the 2015-16 campaign. After a 37-point rookie campaign, Kuznetsov’s sophomore season saw him post 20 goals and 77 points, good for 10th in league scoring and the best mark on a Capitals squad that features Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. That’s no small feat.
But it’s starting to seem like the sophomore slump was simply delayed until the third year of Kuznetsov’s career. Through 23 games, the 24-year-old has three goals and nine points. By comparison, he had hit the 10-point mark seven games into the 2015-16 season and he could almost do no wrong with the puck on his stick.
If this keeps up, Kuznetsov would finish the season with fewer points this year than he had during his rookie season. Not exactly the encore the Capitals were expecting.
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