Vancouver Canucks Tattoos
Scott Taylor, Chilliwack B.C.
Vancouver Canucks Tattoos
Scott Taylor, Chilliwack B.C.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford dismissed the idea of trading Fleury, and said he wants to see how things play out this season with Fleury and Matt Murray.
The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signing goaltender Matt Murray to a three-year, $11.25-million contract stoked speculation veteran Marc-Andre Fleury could hit the trade block later this season. But according to GM Jim Rutherford, that's not a certainty.
Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Rutherford dismissed that notion, cautioning against the presumption the 31-year-old Fleury is on his way out. The Pens GM wants to see how things play out with his goalie tandem this season.
Creating further uncertainty over Fleury's future is next June's expansion draft. The Penguins can only protect one goaltender. Fleury has a no-movement clause, as well as a modified no-trade listing 18 preferred destinations.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun lists several options facing Rutherford. He can trade Fleury to one of the teams on his list before the March 1 trade deadline or before the expansion draft, ask Fleury to waive his no-movement to be exposed in the expansion draft, buy him out before the draft thus making him a free agent, or cut a side deal with the Las Vegas franchise not to select Murray if he's left exposed.
Rutherford is under no pressure to move Fleury now. Depending upon his roster needs and where the Penguins are in the standings by the trade deadline, he could keep his goalie tandem intact in hopes of staging another run at a Stanley Cup title next spring.
DUCKS MAKING ROOM FOR LINDOLM DEAL?
Over the weekend, the Anaheim Ducks placed concussed defenseman Simon Despres ($3.75-million cap hit) on long-term injured reserve. Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register cites TSN's Bob McKenzie saying the move provides the Ducks with some salary-cap flexibility.
Stephens suggests this could be the first move by the Ducks to free up cap room to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm. He believes the 22-year-old's new contract could be worth between $5-$6 million annually. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the two sides are thought to be about $250,000 per season apart.
Placing Despres, and perhaps sidelined forward Nate Thompson (ruptured Achilles tendon, $1.6 million), on LTIR could free up a combined $5.3 million, giving the Ducks more room to ink Lindholm. However, once Despres and Thompson are ready to return to action, the Ducks must make room for them.
Prior to Despres being placed on LTIR, there was talk defenseman Cam Fowler ($4 million AAV) could be moved in a salary-dumping trade. The 24-year-old recently told Stephens he's not paying attention to the trade chatter and remains focused on his play.
If the Ducks are forced to trade Fowler to make room for Lindholm, they won't lack for suitors. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports the Detroit Red Wings brass recently scouted Fowler. The Ducks asking price, however, was said to include young right winger Anthony Mantha. Elliott points out the Wings are also reluctant to move promising players such as right winger Evgeny Svechnikov.
Garrioch, meanwhile, lists the Wings, Bruins and Buffalo Sabres among the teams with interest in Fowler. However, CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty doubts the Bruins can land him. Given the Ducks playoff hopes this season, he speculates they could be unwilling to move Fowler.
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.).
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Both of Jonathan Drouin’s goals this season have come on picture perfect shots, and he looks like he could be on his way to a monster season for the Lightning.
Jonathan Drouin’s career-high goal total is four, but if his first six games this season are any indication, the Tampa Bay Lightning winger is going to absolutely smash that mark in 2016-17.
Drouin, 21, has scored four goals in each of the past two seasons, reaching the mark in 70 games in 2014-15 and 21 games in 2015-16, but through only a handful of games in the new campaign, he’s already halfway to his previous career high and scoring at a 27-goal pace. Given the shot he pumped past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen Tuesday night, though, pegging Drouin for 27 goals seems low.
With four minutes left in the Lightning’s romp of the Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay on a power play, Drouin came down the right wing with two potential passing options and Matt Hunwick as the lone Toronto defender. In most instances, one might expect Drouin, most noted for his playmaking skills, to move the puck, but after looking off his two options, Drouin pulled back and unleashed a cannon of a slapshot over Andersen’s left shoulder:
It doesn’t matter who was in goal because that looked as though it would have beaten any goaltender. It’s the look off before the slapshot that really makes it so hard to stop.
That Drouin is scoring in such spectacular fashion shouldn’t really come as a surprise, though, because both of his goals this season have been eye-popping. His first goal of the season, scored during the season-opener against the Detroit Red Wings, came on a dart of a wrist shot that found the only daylight available.
It’s not just that Drouin is finding the back of the net, though. Through six games, he has now registered five points and is taking on a steady second-line role for the Lightning. His current scoring pace has him primed for a near 70-point season, which would see him more than double up his previous career-best of 32. Suffice to say the Lightning are probably quite pleased they were able to keep Drouin around.
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The 2017 draft prospect was unstoppable for the Boston University Terriers. Meet him and learn about more prospects on the fast-track to the NHL
The CHL-Russia series is just around the corner and rosters are already out for the WHL and OHL games. This series has typically been a nice primer for the world juniors, though more so on the Canadian side. Nonetheless, it has also historically been a nice showcase for top draft-eligible players. Nolan Patrick and Cal Foote get the nod out west, while Gabe Vilardi, Nic Hague and Markus Phillips will play for the OHL. I'll have more on the series as it unfolds, but until then let's get to the rest of the prospect world and see who is making noise.
Jake Oettinger, G – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): As a 17-year-old freshman in one of college hockey's hardest conferences, Oettinger came into the season confident that with hard work, he could become the Terriers' starter. Five games into the campaign, he's already there. Oettinger has started every game for B.U. and is coming off back-to-back shutouts on the weekend. After blanking Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac, the Minnesota native now sits atop the Hockey East goalie board with a .947 save percentage and 1.42 goals-against average. Naturally there were high expectations for the 6-foot-4 netminder coming from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, but the kid is getting as much out of college as he is giving.
“When I came out to the NTDP, one of the key things my dad and I talked about was the opportunity to go to schools like B.U.," Oettinger said. "When I went on my visit, I fell in love. The coaches are all the kind of coaches I want to play for and B.U., where you can get an education and also live in Boston, is just the complete package.”
The same could probably be said for Oettinger, whose size and athleticism make him an ideal NHL goalie prospect. Despite his young age, he has a very mature approach to his development and has good insight into his position.
“Every goalie in the NHL, with maybe the exception of Carey Price, could become a better skater," he said. "If you’re on your feet as long as you possibly can be, you give yourself a better chance to make a save. That’s what I’ve been working on. That, and tracking the puck. That’s so big in the game now. Shots and releases are so fast; you gotta be good at tracking the puck if you’re going to make saves.”
While starter's minutes on a high-octane Terriers squad comes with pressure, that's something Oettinger has seen in the past. Back in Minnesota, he took his Lakeville North high school team to the state final at the Xcel Energy Center. Though they fell to powerhouse Edina, the campaign was full of memories for Oettinger.
“I look back at that now and I wish I would have known that was my only season with Lakeville North," he said. "Those guys are still my best friends and playing them was really special, but something I took for granted a bit. Playing in the state tournament is one of my favorite hockey memories. It was everything I could ask for in one year.”
Oettinger followed his team remotely the next year, as he played for the NTDP and they went undefeated to win it all. He's more than happy for his mates and given how bright his future is, it's hard to knock his decision to leave. And it won't be surprising if he guides the Terriers to a national title in the next couple seasons.
In the Pipeline
Kale Clague, D (Los Angeles): The WHL player of the week with six points in two games, Clague made his mark as soon as he returned from a leg injury sustained at Kings camp. The Brandon Wheat Kings are happy to have the two-way defenseman back, as his smarts and mobility can really make a shift hum.
Max Jones, RW (Anaheim): London may have lost a ton of talent over the summer, but Jones is making sure the offense is still there. The OHL player of the week racked up seven points in two games for the Knights, but the power forward has been hot for awhile.
Michael McNiven, G (Montreal): Signed as a free agent by the Habs, McNiven has been excellent for the OHL's Owen Sound Attack. The kid's got a pretty sick glove hand and when he's in the net, Owen Sound has been winning a lot. The 2.24 goals-against average helps.
Filip Chlapik, C (Ottawa): The Charlottetown Islanders pivot has been hot all season, but it's good to see him continue his torrid pace now that everyone is back from NHL camps. Chlapik has 12 goals and 19 points in 10 games and has also been a demon in the faceoff circle on many nights.
Mathieu Joseph, RW (Tampa Bay): Quick and hard to play against, it's not hard to see Joseph having a Brad Marchand type of career, where agitating opens the door for a scoring role. The Saint John Sea Dogs winger can certainly put up points, with 12 goals and 16 points in 11 Quebec League games so far.
Wade Allison, RW (Philadelphia): Fast and powerful, Allison has hit the ground running in college, posting up five points in four games for Western Michigan. It seems like the momentum he gained in the USHL playoffs last year has carried over to the NCAA.
Kyle Wood, D (Arizona): Acquired from Colorado in the Mikkel Boedker deal, Wood is proving himself quite valuable. In three games with the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners, the big defenseman has amassed six points to lead the league in offense from the blueline.
2017 Draft Stars
Mason Shaw, C - Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): Look way, way up at the WHL scoring leaders and you'll find the 5-foot-9 Shaw. An excellent playmaker with a knack for setting up goals on a tee, Shaw leads the league with 23 points in 12 games. He'll also drop the gloves when he needs to.
Shane Bowers, C - Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL): A serious offensive threat thanks to his skating, skills and smarts, Bowers is a point-per-game player in the United States League so far. That's a marked leap from his rookie production, which was pretty solid itself, but the kid is hot with six points in his past four games.
2018 Draft Star
Rasmus Dahlin, D - Frolunda (SHL): A great skater and incredibly efficient blueliner, Dahlin made his SHL debut on Friday and notched an assist. Back in the under-20 circuit, he was lighting it up with 11 points in nine games from the back end.
Less than a year ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were surrounded by uncertainty and controversy. But thanks to great leadership, it's blue skies for this team in 2016-17.
The last time the Tampa Bay Lightning played in the Center of the Hockey Universe™, there was a fair bit of drama surrounding them. It was late March and their star player, one of the most dynamic scorers of his generation, was on the cusp of becoming an unrestricted free agent and leaving for nothing. And their top prospect was toiling in the minors after leaving the team and demanding a trade.
The fact that the Lightning played so well despite the chaos that surrounded them is a testament to the strength of the franchise. And the fact they were able to do it and still get to the Eastern Conference final last season made them better and stronger. So when they came into Toronto Tuesday with a 4-1-0 record and all kinds of accolades following them, there was almost no drama in their wake. As we all know, Steven Stamkos decided to stay and take an eight-year deal for less money than he would have earned on the open market and the prodigal son, Jonathan Drouin, found his way back into the fold, to the point where he wants to sign an extension with the Lightning and be there for a long, long time.
“Yeah, the boring Tampa Bay Lightning,” joked Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “It’s rare.”
A team that many people expect to be at or near the top of the NHL standings this season has already made it to the top of a pretty prestigious list. ESPN The Magazine recently ranked the Lightning the No. 1 franchise among the 122 in North American professional sports in its Ultimate Standings, which it bases its rankings on fan surveys and financial analysis in terms of how it rewards its fans for the time, money and emotion they invest in the team. And of course, it all starts at the top. Seven years ago, Jeff Vinik purchased the team and the arena for less money than he spent to buy the hotel across the street from the rink. Since then, he has transformed the Lightning into the model franchise in terms of community involvement and engagement, and it has helped that the Lightning have played 43 playoff games the past two years and are one of the league’s top contenders. And in Steve Yzerman, they simply have one of the best GMs in the game, one who simply does not blink when it comes to contract negotiations.
“It was tough and I know it weighed on (Stamkos),” Cooper said. “And as much as we were sitting here saying, ‘Oh, it’s just white noise, blow it off, don’t worry about it,’ for sure it had an impact on him.”
The good thing now, though, is it’s just all about hockey for these guys. Stamkos signed, went to the World Cup and was productive and hit the ground running this season. Combine that with the fact that the Lightning has an opportunity to do something special this season and that it has a bright future and it’s a good time to be a part of this organization.
“It’s one of the top places to play in the NHL for sure, and it’s not just because of the great weather,” Stamkos said. “You look at the team we’ve been able to assemble and the guys that are willing to sign on and stay with this core bunch of guys because of the talent that we have and the runs we have made and the experience we’ve gained and we want to see that to the end. That’s pretty rare in today’s sports that guys want to stick together and whether it’s take a little less money or in Kuch’s (Nikita Kucherov) case take a bridge deal, that’s pretty special from an organizational standpoint and a player’s standpoint, to be part of a group that wants to be together.”
And nobody knows about that better than Stamkos, who was reportedly offered $10 million a year to go to Buffalo, which would have paid him $2 million more for one fewer year than the contract he signed with Tampa. Toronto was also in the mix and intrigued him, but in the end, he decided to stay where he would be most happy and have the best chance to win a championship. The questions followed him and Yzerman all last season, but to their credit, neither allowed them to affect his performance.
“There really wasn’t that much drama around here, to be honest with you,” said veteran winger Brian Boyle. “One guy might have felt it, but the rest of us didn’t.”
But almost nobody in the organization was free of it. There were questions about Cooper and his handling of players in light of Drouin’s departure and Stamkos’ unwillingness to sign early. When Cooper signed a contract extension last season, it seemed to indicate that the organization had backed their coach and drawn a line in the sand with some of the players. But it turns out they all ended up on the same page and the organization is stronger for it.
“I take some consolation in the fact that guys don’t think you stink,” Cooper said, “and if they do, they don’t say that publicly.”
Are things perfect for the Lightning? No, because they’re not for anybody. This organization is going to have to figure out what to do with goalie Ben Bishop and in addition to Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat will be restricted free agents at the end of this season. And there’s only so much cap room to go around. But the Lightning’s experience with these things and a steady hand at the rudder give you the impression they will persevere through it.
“It’s all about hockey now,” Cooper said.