Say What?!? - May 23
Say What?!? - May 23
"I don't see why he wouldn't want to coach the Oilers."
– Oilers president Kevin Lowe on rumored coaching candidate Brent Sutter
"I don't see why he wouldn't want to coach the Oilers."
– Oilers president Kevin Lowe on rumored coaching candidate Brent Sutter
It was good start for the modern incarnation of the World Cup of Hockey. What lessons can we apply from 2016 to improve the format in 2020?
The World Cup of Hockey was what we thought it was, at least among the level-headed crowd who didn't foolishly decry the idea as a crime against humanity. The stakes weren't high enough to rival the thrill of Olympic competition, but even the grumpiest detractors must admit the hockey was good. That's what happens when you get 184 of the best players on Earth competing in the same tournament. It was impossible for the product not to be entertaining as heck most of the time.
Technically, 2016 marked the third World Cup, but since it was the first in 12 years, it felt like a franchise reboot. And with anything new comes a few bugs to work out. The tournament was fun but not perfect. I've spent the last few days pondering tweaks to improve the format in 2020. The NHL has already announced plans for a followup event then, so why not explore how to make it even better?
1. START THE PLAYOFF ROUND WITH A QUARTERFINAL, NOT A SEMIFINAL
Call it the North America Rule, and it's not just because the team was so darned exciting to watch. The North Americans played very well throughout the 2016 World Cup, beating Sweden and Finland and losing a nailbiter to Russia. The kids looked like a top-three team in the tournament and had a .667 win percentage yet didn't even qualify for the playoff round because only two teams from each group made it. That was unfortunate, especially since the North Americans, being the fastest and most unpredictable team in the field, might have given Canada its toughest test.
Next time, let's transition from the round-robin to a quarterfinal instead of a semifinal. It would feel too warm and fuzzy, however, if all eight teams qualified and the last-place finisher got a chance to upset the first-place team. Instead, how about the second- and third-place teams from each group advance to a quarterfinal while the two group winners get byes to the semifinal? Or, better yet…
2. EXPAND THE FIELD TO 12 TEAMS
The World Cup and the Olympics are different beasts, but the IIHF was still involved in organizing the World Cup, so what's wrong with duplicating the Olympics' tournament format? Let's go with 12 teams, with three groups of four in which each team plays a three-game round-robin. Under this format at the Olympics, the bottom eight teams play qualification matches to earn berths in the quarterfinal against the top four teams. Maybe a pre-playoff round is too much hockey for September, so how about the top eight teams straight-up qualify for the quarterfinal, with no byes handed out, while the bottom four head home?
And if this setup still apes the Olympic tourney too closely for your taste, not to worry…
3. DON'T JUST KEEP THE UNDER-24 TEAM…ADD ANOTHER UNDER-24 TEAM
Team North America made the World Cup must-see TV. The likes of Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau and Auston Matthews dazzled viewers so much that it felt like many fans were cheering for the kids over their own countries. It would be silly to scrap that idea for 2020, as gimmicky as it was. How about double down and insert an under-24 Euro team? A similar setup in 2016 would've created a squad featuring Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, Nikolaj Ehlers and Ramus Ristolainen, among others. Like with Team North America, the Euros 2.0 will be allowed to draw from every nation on its continent, meaning young Finns, Swedes, Russians, Czechs and so on will have to play for this squad.
4. ELIMINATE THE CURRENT VERSION OF TEAM EUROPE FROM THE FIELD
'Team Europe' still exists in my proposed format, but only in the same sense as Team North America, as Europe 2.0 will be a young-stars squad. My timing is odd for this suggestion, sure, as Europe just reached the tourney final, legitimizing the team's concept and skyrocketing Ralph Krueger's stock as a coach. But when this tournament concludes, how many of us will look back and marvel at the way Team Europe captured our hearts and brought us to our feet? Team North America won the unofficial Gimmick Bowl. And while the Euro players have banded nicely together under Krueger, most or all would rather suit up for their individual countries. So let's imagine a group layout looking something like…
More teams, more countries represented, more playoff rounds, plus all the gimmicky fun that stole the show in 2016. How about it for 2020?
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin
Teams like the Bruins, Coyotes, Rangers, and Oilers will make offers for Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. Here's a look at who the front runners are.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba's trade request has set the hockey world abuzz. In a statement through his agent Kurt Overhardt, Trouba claims he wants a bigger role skating on the right side of the blueline and doesn't believe he'll get that opportunity with the Jets. He subsequently said the decision had nothing to do with the city of Winnipeg, the Jets organization or money.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff responded by saying his camp will “work diligently” to resolve this matter, adding they'll have no further comment until a resolution is reached. In other words, Cheveldayoff has no intention of discussing trade possibilities through the media.
As a promising young defenseman with a right-handed shot, the 22-year-old Trouba will undoubtedly attract considerable attention in the NHL trade market. He's also a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract. Last December, Overhardt denied a report claiming his client sought an eight-year deal worth $7-million annually. Still, the Trouba camp could seek a long-term deal worth at least $5-million per season.
Cheveldayoff won't just give Trouba away. Given his depth in young talent on the roster and within his system, the Jets GM probably won't want a package of draft picks and prospects. He could seek a good young left-shooting defenseman or a top-six winger as part of the return.
Chris Peters of CBS Sports lists the Boston Bruins, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings as potential suitors. NBC Sports' Adam Gretz adds the New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche to that list.
Potential destinations for Trouba depend upon salary-cap space and the Jets asking price. Whoever acquires the young rearguard must have sufficient room to sign him. Protecting Trouba in next June's NHL expansion draft will be another factor.
Cap space is definitely an issue for the Red Wings, who sit $4 million above the $73-million cap ceiling. While they'll get cap relief by placing Johan Franzen ($3.9 million cap hit) and Joe Vitale ($1.16 million) on long-term injury reserve, they'll still have to free up considerable salary to re-sign Trouba.
The Rangers ($1.4 million) and Avalanche ($1.5 million) are also squeezed for cap space. With several Rangers carrying no-movement/no-trade clauses, it's doubtful a fit can be found in New York. The Avs, meanwhile, lack sufficient depth in available assets to tempt the Jets. Having recently made a coaching change, they could be unwilling to make a significant roster move at this time.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the Coyotes have long been interested in Trouba and will remains a serious suitor. They have considerable depth in young assets, but only $2.8 million in cap space. While they could get cap relief with Chris Pronger and Dave Bolland (combined cap hit of over $10 million) on LTIR, it could cost them a couple of good young roster players to land Trouba.
With $5.8 million in cap room, the Bruins have some wiggle room and decent young talent on their roster (forwards David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and the recently sidelined Frank Vatrano) and in their system to make a competitive bid. However, Cheveldayoff could ask for left-shooting blueliner Torey Krug as part of the deal.
The Devils ($12.6 million) and Oilers ($8.9 million) have the advantage in cap room. Of the two, the Oilers have the edge in available young assets. Cheveldayoff could be interested in young defenseman Darnell Nurse, but Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be reluctant to part with him.
With lots of promising young players and prospects, the Toronto Maple Leafs could also kick the tires on a Trouba deal. Though they have only $2.9 million in cap room, they should free up over $10 million by placing sidelined forwards Nathan Horton and Joffrey Lupul on LTIR.
Cheveldayoff has the luxury of time to make a trade, but faces the Dec. 1 deadline for signing restricted free agents. If Trouba remains unsigned by that date, he becomes ineligible to play the remainder of the season.
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.
With Team Europe on to the World Cup final, the sizzling two-way defenseman from Nashville will have to play big. But that's just his style.
Team Europe faces a monumental task in the World Cup final, but just for a minute, let’s appreciate the fact they got there in the first place. The oldest squad in the tournament includes a defense corps with 39-year-old Zdeno Chara and 38-year-old Mark Streit, but the marquee names on the back end aren’t all greybeards.
Nashville’s Roman Josi, for example, is just 26 and already playing incredible hockey for the Predators. In Europe’s overtime win against Sweden on Sunday, Josi led all Team Europe skaters with 29 minutes of ice time, playing in all situations.
If you weren’t on the Josi train already, jump aboard fast.
“He doesn’t really have a weakness,” said Preds teammate Mattias Ekholm. “He’s sound defensively and obviously does well in the offensive zone. He has always played well, but last year he started getting the recognition he deserves.”
Indeed, Josi led the Nashville blueline in points and ice time last season, even as star Shea Weber got more of the attention. In general, headlines don’t really matter that much to Josi, however.
“In Nashville, you don’t get that much attention, so you’re always flying under the radar, which is a good thing,” he said. “We don’t get on national TV much. It’s been like that since I got to the NHL, so I’m comfortable with that.”
But the secret is already out and the mega-trade that saw captain Weber dealt to Montreal for the flamboyant P.K. Subban has already seen the hockey world’s focus shift to Nashville in the summer. While Weber’s excellent shutdown capabilities have been on full display at the World Cup for Canada (hey, where’d Ovie go?), injecting Subban into a lineup that already features Josi, Ekholm and Ryan Ellis in the top-four makes for one of the most mobile bluelines in the NHL.
“He brings a lot of things to the table,” Josi said. “He’s very skilled, he’s a great skater, he jumps up in the play – he’s definitely going to bring a lot to the team. It’s going to be very fun.”
Unless of course, you’re facing the Preds. Because Josi is pretty dangerous on the offensive side of the ledger, too. His 61 points in 2015-16 were a career-high, but he’s been trending up for years. And his best attributes aren’t going away anytime soon.
“It’s his skating and his hockey sense,” Ekholm said. “When he joins the rush, he does it with speed, but he also does it with smartness.”
So look out for the Preds this season. That defense corps is going to supplement forwards such as Filip Forsberg and James Neal up front in a big way and pushing San Jose to seven games in the second round of the playoffs has Nashville thinking big. Cautiously, mind you, but there are expectations.
“They’re pretty high after last season,” Josi said. “In the Central Division it’s always tough to even get in the playoffs, so that’s gotta be our goal. After that, everybody’s goal is to win the Stanley Cup and that’s our ultimate goal, too.”
Before that, Josi and his Team Europe cohorts will get at least two cracks at the Canada juggernaut, perhaps three. Josi is used to playing a lot of hockey and if Europe has any chance, he’ll need to be huge. Not that he minds the work.
“You’re never going to say no to a lot of minutes,” he said.
Jacob Trouba’s trade request is both a personal and business move, and while most players understand that, not everyone agreed with the choice. Most notably Jets center Mathieu Perreault, who questioned what more Trouba could want from the Jets.
When defenseman Jacob Trouba’s trade request became public, one of the sticking points seemed to be his desire to play on the right side, something he hasn’t been able to do much of in Winnipeg over the course of the past two seasons.
Even while playing on his off-hand side, though, Trouba has excelled, and the 22-year-old blueliner has gotten some big ice time in the Winnipeg lineup as a result. If that weren’t the case, some in the Winnipeg dressing room might understand Trouba’s request a bit more.
However, given the amount of ice time and opportunity Trouba has been given in Winnipeg, the request isn’t sitting well with everyone, maybe most notable Jets center Mathieu Perreault. While many Jets players reacted to the news of Trouba’s request with support and understanding for both sides, Perreault said he was “disappointed” in Trouba for asking out of Winnipeg.
“We would have hoped he would have, they would have (found) a way to get it done,” Perreault said, according to the Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre and Scott Billeck. “It’s kind of sad to see. He’s such a young player, obviously. I don’t know, it’s a bit of a weird situation…This guy plays big minutes, 22 minutes, and he’s gonna complain some sort of way about his ice time. How much more does he want?”
While he may have been the most vocal about the situation, Perreault wasn’t completely alone in his sentiment. Veteran winger Bryan Little said the situation was “tough,” but there were also “60 guys (at training camp) who would die to put that jersey on.” The most common answer, though, seemed to be an understanding of the business of Trouba’s request with players trying to balance their relationship with their friend and the success of the team.
The contract situation, and now trade request, will be a tough one for the Jets to manage. When the request became public Saturday, everyone learned that Winnipeg and Trouba’s camp, including agent Kurt Overhardt, haven’t had meaningful contract discussions since before the culmination of the 2015-16 season and the original trade request was made in May. Yet, Trouba remains on the Jets’ roster.
According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Jets won’t be willing to move Trouba for anything less than what they believe is fair value — and, Lawless reported, that value is a left-handed blueliner who is at or around the same age and possesses the same skill level as Trouba.
With those as guidelines for a deal, it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for the Jets to find a trade partner. That doesn’t mean a deal is impossible, but it certainly means this situation could drag on much longer than either side would have hoped after the trade request.
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