THN’s Ken Campbell caught up with Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks following the team’s Game 6 Stanley Cup win.
REPORTER: Ken Campbell | PRODUCER: Ted Cooper
THN’s Ken Campbell caught up with Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks following the team’s Game 6 Stanley Cup win.
REPORTER: Ken Campbell | PRODUCER: Ted Cooper
Frederik Andersen has mastered the art of stealing games, but he can't do it forever. The Leafs must play better in front of him to make the playoffs.
He’d faced more shots than all but one NHL goaltender this season. He owned a .928 save percentage over his past 30 appearances. And yet, Frederik Andersen sat alone at his dressing stall Thursday morning at the Air Canada Centre, minding his own business as reporters gathered around fresh Toronto lineup insertion Frank Corrado. Andersen quietly tended to his gear, collecting his thoughts, preparing for a game several hours later against the New York Rangers. It was a perfect portrait of a man best described as unsung in his first season starting in goal for the Maple Leafs.
This is the Year of the Kids, after all. It’s Auston Matthews’ year. It’s Mitch Marner’s year. It’s William Nylander’s year. Heck, Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown and Zach Hyman continue stealing headlines of their own. And Toronto boasts a few veteran success stories, too. Nazem Kadri has Selke Trophy voters circling him. James van Riemsdyk has been one of the NHL’s hotter scorers of late.
Andersen, we all know, struggled mightily in his first five games as a Leaf, posting an .851 save percentage and causing a mass panic in the headlines. But he worked out the problems with goaltending coach Steve Briere, who preached getting one’s mind off hockey when away from the rink, and Andersen realized he was forcing things, challenging shooters too much and not relying on his size.
“You want to have that belief that you know what kind of goalie you are,” Andersen said Thursday. “Luckily I had some experience in Anaheim before. I knew I could play at a high level and work through adversity like that. Me and Stevie had some things straightened out, some stuff in my game that needed to be corrected a little bit, and I got back to how I could play.”
He has indeed locked down his play since, and while pundits and social media members generally acknowledge that, it’s still unclear if Leaf Nation understands just how valuable Andersen has become to his team. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, he’s more blocker than athlete, calm and efficient in his movements, meaning he’s less noticeable, not more noticeable, on his good nights. And maybe that’s why he’s overshadowed. He still doesn’t get recognized on the street all that often, even in hockey-mad Toronto.
“Sometimes, but nothing too much where you can’t go anywhere,” he said. “I can still go get a coffee, stuff like that. But you’re happy to take a second to say hi and make their day. So that’s really nothing that bothers me.”
Andersen, though, deserves as much credit as any Leaf for the team’s shocking 21-14-8 start, which puts them right in the thick of the Atlantic Division race with games in hand on almost everyone. Hockey-reference.com’s point share stat refers to how many points in the standings a player is responsible for based on his season performance. The only players owning more point shares than Andersen: Brent Burns, Devan Dubnyk, Sergei Bobrovsky and Cam Talbot. The stat naturally carries a goalie bias, but Andersen still ranks above the likes of Braden Holtby. Maybe that’s because Andersen has become a game stealer.
While the Leafs generate the third-most shots on goal per game at 32.7, they allow the fourth most at 32.8. Andersen gets pelted with rubber most nights. I created a stat: “stolen games,” which consists of performances in which a goalie makes 30 or more saves and his team wins by two goals or fewer. Andersen has accomplished that feat eight times this season. My unofficial NHL stolen games leaderboard:
STOLEN GAMES (30+ saves, win by two goals or fewer)
1. Carey Price, 9
2. Frederik Andersen, 8
3. Craig Anderson, 8
4. Sergei Bobrovsky 8
5. Cam Talbot, 8
6. Corey Crawford, 7
T-7. Devan Dubnyk, 6
T-7. Marc-Andre Fleury, 6
T-7. John Gibson, 6
T-7. Robin Lehner, 6
T-7. Roberto Luongo, 6
So only Price has stolen more games than Andersen according to the stat. But how many more times can Toronto, exciting as heck but still extremely leaky defensively, put Andersen in that position over and over and expect to challenge for a playoff spot? The New York Rangers blitzed him with 40 shots Thursday, four of which beat him. He made plenty of strong saves but couldn't withstand the onslaught.
“He’s been awesome all year, and we hung him out to dry on a few of those tonight,” said Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner. “Definitely not going to blame him. He’s been great.”
Finding Andersen a proper backup has eluded the Leafs all season. Jhonas Enroth flopped. Curtis McElhinney is ticketed to play in back-to-backs. Coach Mike Babcock indicated before the season he intended for Andersen to start at least 60 games in 2016-17, but Andersen has already suited up for 36 of 43. That puts him on pace to flirt with 70. Felix Potvin holds the franchise’s single-season record for appearances with 74. Andersen’s career high is 54, with 53 starts. At what point might he wilt from all the work? Babcock isn’t concerned. He seemed irritated after Thursday's loss when asked about resting Andersen more in the second half of the season.
“No, not thinking of spelling him, not worried about his workload,” Babcock said.
If that’s the case, and the Leafs intend to keep trotting Andersen out there, they have to shore up their defense. They gifted the New York Rangers breakaways Thursday night, most notably on Michael Grabner’s shorthanded dagger that put the game out of reach in the third period. A playoff berth almost seems more likely than not at this point – but it will slip out of the Leafs’ hands if they keep letting Andersen’s crease become a shooting gallery.
“He’s been a stud for us,” said defenseman Roman Polak. “He’s been great all year, and because of him we’ve won lots of matches. When we play like that, it’s unacceptable. But we have to put it behind us, learn from that and keep going forward.”
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to thn.com. 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
The Canucks forward took a deflected Nikita Tryamkin shot to the back of the head.
Bo Horvat won’t let a few stitches to his head slow him down.
The Canucks forward took a deflected Nikita Tryamkin shot to the back of the head late in the first period of Friday’s 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
Horvat briefly left the game, but did return.
"I would assume he was forced out by the (concussion) spotter," said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins postgame. "I would think maybe our medical staff. Whenever you see something like that, you'll check it out, especially if he was bleeding too.
"I think they would want to take a look at him. They took a look at him and he was fine."
Horvat returned to the game in the second period and played another 12:19 over the final 40 minutes.
On Saturday, the team tweeted out a picture of the damage to the back of Horvat’s head, which includes multiple stitches.
Bo's head is a little tender this morning... pic.twitter.com/E98xfNrTok— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 21, 2017
The 21-year-old is expected to be available to the Canucks on Sunday when Vancouver opens a three-game road trip in Chicago.
Horvat leads the Canucks with 13 goals and is tied with captain Henrik Sedin for the team lead in points (30) while averaging 17:41 a night in ice time in 47 games this season.
Connor McDavid netted his 100th point in his 92nd career game, but how does that compare to the rest of the league’s talented youngsters?
Connor McDavid found himself in some distinguished company Wednesday night.
With the lone assist on Zack Kassian’s game-opening goal against the Florida Panthers, McDavid celebrated his 100th point in his 92nd career NHL game. In doing so, McDavid became the fourth-fastest active player to reach the mark and you might recognize McDavid’s company. By reaching the mark in what amounts to little more than a full season, McDavid joins Alex Ovechkin (77 games), Sidney Crosby (80 games) and Evgeni Malkin (89 games) as one of the four fastest current players to reach the 100-point plateau, according to the NHL.
Reaching 100 points in so few games is another feather in McDavid’s cap and seeing McDavid alongside three of the game’s very best is yet another reminder that he’s already among the games elite players. Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin have each captured an Art Ross and Hart Trophy to go along with a Ted Lindsay Award, and with McDavid leading the scoring race with 54 points — four points clear of Crosby and Malkin and more than a dozen ahead of Ovechkin — it seems like McDavid could be well on his way to joining them in owning the trio of NHL honors.
McDavid’s rapid climb to 100 points also serves as a reminder that when it comes to young stars, the Oilers captain is, without a doubt, the cream of the crop. That said, though, how does his ascent to 100 points stack up against each team’s top youngster?
Anaheim Ducks: The Anaheim Ducks haven’t brought in many big-name stars through the draft since Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf came onto the scene, but Rickard Rakell has earned his place as the Ducks’ top young offensive star. Rakell notched his 100th career points earlier this season in his 192nd game.
Arizona Coyotes: Max Domi’s rookie season went much better than his sophomore campaign has gone, but he’s still on pace to become a 100-point player before he’s too deep into his career. He’s about 50 games shy of reaching the mark, so expect him to notch his 100th point around his 160th career game.
Boston Bruins: He’s not there yet, but David Pastrnak is inching ever-closer to the 100-point plateau. He has 86 points in 138 games, and is scoring close to a point per game. If he keeps it up this season, he should reach the 100 career points by his 156th career game. That’ll come in early March.
Buffalo Sabres: The choice at the 2014 draft was between McDavid and Jack Eichel, and though he went second-overall to the Sabres, Eichel is proving to be quite the offensive gem. At his current rate of scoring, expect Eichel to reach the mark by his 140th career game right before the season comes to a close.
Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau wasn’t a top draft pick but he’s become an almost instant star in Calgary. His scoring as a rookie was phenomenal and left him only 35 points shy of reaching the 100-point mark in his sophomore year. He was there by the 115th game of his career.
Carolina Hurricanes: At almost exactly half a point per game, Victor Rask was a model of consistency through his first two campaigns. He’s picked it up this season, though, and is starting to look like a two-way star in Carolina. He scored his 100th point this season in his 187th career game.
Chicago Blackhawks: McDavid finished third in Calder Trophy voting despite playing half a season, but not even rookie standout Artemi Panarin reached 100 points as quick as McDavid despite his 77-point freshman campaign. Panarin scored his 100th point this season, and it came in game No. 107.
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon is like a miniature Sidney Crosby, right down to training with the Penguins captain in the off-season. It took MacKinnon quite a bit longer to notch his 100th point, however. MacKinnon’s 100th point was scored at the tail end of his sophomore year, in the 143rd game of his career.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have found a future top-six pivot in Alexander Wennberg, and in his third season in the league, the 2013 first-round pick is only a couple points from reaching the century mark. He sits at 96 career points in 180 games, and his 100th point could be coming any day now.
Dallas Stars: John Klingberg is the first defenseman on this list, but with good reason. He was a late-round find by the Stars who turned into an offensive juggernaut. He entered the season with 98 points in 141 games, and an assist four games into the season gave Klingberg 100 points in 145 career games. That’s better than a number of forwards.
Detroit Red Wings: The down year in Detroit hasn’t helped Dylan Larkin’s cause, but he still has all the making of a future offensive star for the Red Wings. His rookie season saw him net 45 points in 80 games and he’s 37 points back of reaching the 100-point plateau with 125 games under his belt. That might have to wait until the 2017-18 campaign, however, as Larkin’s battling through a sophomore slump.
Florida Panthers: MacKinnon was supposed to be the runaway star of the 2013 draft, but Aleksander Barkov has turned into quite the player himself. Selected second-overall, Barkov’s two-way game is great, and the fact he reached the 100-point mark in 173 games puts him only 30 games back of MacKinnon.
Los Angeles Kings: A big start to the 2015-16 campaign put Tyler Toffoli up to 100 points in a hurry. He had entered the season 17 points back of the mark thanks to a breakout sophomore season, and his 17 points in 18 games gave him 100 career points by the time he had played career outing No. 166.
Minnesota Wild: It’s taken a while for Jason Zucker to really piece together his entire game, but he’s starting to find it now, which is to say the rest of his skill set seems to have caught up to his speed. He’s already set a career-high this season with 29 points, and he’s only 10 points back of 100 for his career. Expect that around the 230th game of his career.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk has gradually built his way up to being one of the top offensive threats in Montreal. As for his 100th point, he netted that by the time he was wrapping up his third campaign in the league, registering an assist for point No. 100 in his 184th big league contest.
Nashville Predators: The trade that brought Filip Forsberg to the Predators will go down as one of the greatest steals in league history, even if it took Forsberg a while to find his way into the lineup full-time. After breaking out with 63 points in 2014-15, Forsberg kept up his pace and netted his 100th point in his 153rd game.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils’ tough time in the draft hasn’t brought them many young stars of late, but the trade that brought Kyle Palmieri to New Jersey gave them a 30-goal scorer right away, and he managed his 100th career point 14 games into his stay with the Devils. Altogether, it was his 212th NHL outing.
New York Islanders: Forget young stars for a second, and let’s look at the comparison between McDavid and John Tavares. Tavares burst onto the scene with a 54-point year and was a 100-point player by his sophomore year. However, the 100th point didn’t come until Tavares had played his 135th game.
New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad didn’t start out as a Blueshirt, but he’s got the potential to become an impactful part of the roster for years to come. His 100th career point didn’t come in New York, either. In his 198th game with the Ottawa Senators, Zibanejad picked up an assist to reach the milestone.
Ottawa Senators: This is where Zibanejad would have fit in were it not for the off-season trade, but instead the nod goes to Mark Stone, who has been on a tear ever since cracking the lineup as a full-timer. A 64-point year put him 28 points shy of 100 for his career entering the 2015-16, and he proceed to get the required points in 29 games, making for 100 points in 132 career games.
Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere became one of the most beloved Flyers rookies in years for his scoring ways in his rookie season. He’s slowed this season, but the rearguard is 35 points back of the 100-point plateau. Give him another 60 or so games, and he should reach the century mark.
Pittsburgh Penguins: There aren’t any undrafted players on this list yet, but Conor Sheary seems like the surest bet to reach the 100-point mark in a hurry. He’s set career highs in his sophomore year with 13 goals and 29 points and the year’s only half over. He could be a near-60-point player by year’s end. If he stays on this pace, 100 points in 160 games seems possible.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the most dynamic scorers in the league and a superstar in waiting with the way he can fill the net. His first two seasons were only all right, but he broke out in 2014-15 with a 37-goal, 73-point season that saw him score his 100th career point in his 137th game with the Blues.
San Jose Sharks: It’s going to be hard to forget Tomas Hertl’s four-goal debut, but injuries have slowed him down since his rookie year. His best season to date came in 2015-16 and it was also the same season he scored point No. 100. It took him until his 187th career game.
Tampa Bay Lighting: Steven Stamkos’ absences have shown just how important Nikita Kucherov is to the Lightning. By his second season, he was already flirting with a 30-goal year and only a handful of points shy of 100 for his career. He hit the 100-point mark 29 games into the 2015-16 season, and 163 games into his big league career.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Let’s take a look at this with Auston Matthews. Right now, Matthews has 38 points in 42 games, putting him on pace to earn his 100th point around the 111th game of his career. The thing is that he’s only getting better as time goes on, so hitting 100 points in 100 games doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat is heading to the All-Star Game to represent the Canucks, and he could be celebrating his 100th point before he heads off to Los Angeles. He’s sitting at 95 career points in 196 games, and he has a shot at nice round numbers if he can net five points in the four games before the break.
Washington Capitals: Things haven’t gone Evgeny Kuznetsov’s way this year, but he still has all the skill in the world and is capable of putting up big numbers like he did in 2015-16. That 20-goal, 77-point year saw Kuznetsov net his 100th career point in his 149th career game.
Winnipeg Jets: If we looked at Matthews’ chase for 100 points, it’s worth taking a look at Patrik Laine’s numbers, too. Before falling injured, Laine had 37 points in 42 games, which puts him in the same range as Matthews. Laine has had some slumps, but he’s got the potential for a few big games. He, like Matthews, could be eying up point No. 100 by the time his career is a mere 100 games old.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
The numbers released by the CHL would have you believe minimum wage for players would cripple some teams. But we need a lot more information.
In an effort to get out in front of the story and win the case in the court of public opinion, the Canadian Hockey League last night released some of the financial information it had previously been trying to keep from the prying eyes of everyone outside its inner circle. It’s a curious move to say the least. And when you look at the numbers, you get the sense that the CHL is cherry picking on the same level as an out-of-shape beer leaguer who constantly hangs out at the opponent’s blueline.
The CHL has crafted its message, complete with an expert opinion saying teams would have to consider ceasing operations if they had to pay players minimum wage, giving people just enough information to portray themselves as downtrodden philanthropists interested only in providing entertainment and helping young men realize their NHL dreams, without really telling us where the money trail actually leads. Well played.
For example, if we are to take the numbers of the CHL’s unaudited financial statements provided to an Alberta court for an upcoming lawsuit at face value, then we’re to believe that the Ontario and Western Leagues combined to generate revenues of $136.7 million in 2015, but cannot afford to pay roughly 850 of its employees minimum wage. The WHL claimed revenues of just over $80 million in 2015. The cost to pay the players minimum wage in that league would be about $300,000 per year per team for a total cost of about $6.6 million, which would amount to about 8.25 percent of total revenues.
What business in any part of the real world would be able to claim revenues of more than $136 million, then try to convince people that it couldn’t afford to pay 850 of its employees minimum wage? Welcome to the world of junior hockey where it seems no matter how much money a team makes, its expenses seem to rise at the same rate. How the heck are these people ever expected to make a go of it?
Let’s take the WHL as an example. According to the report done by the accounting firm KPMG, the league’s overall revenues in 2015 were higher in the five years between 2012 and 2016 than they were any other year, but somehow the league managed to lose more money that year than any other year. The numbers say overall league revenues were $80.2 million, with a pre-tax overall loss of just over $2 million. As far as expenses are concerned, $7.5 million went to advertising and promotion, $6.6 million to administration and a whopping $67.5 million to the ubiquitous “other operating expenses.” In fact, in 2015, other operating expenses increased almost $5 million from the previous year, then were cut by more than $6 million in 2016. Even though the WHL managed to trim $6 million in fat from other operating expenses in 2016, it posted a pre-tax profit of only $691,000.
So in order to get the entire picture, we’re really going to need to know what those “other operating expenses” are. And until we know them, we don’t know even close to the entire picture of whether the losses are real or a case of creative accounting. For example, has anyone stopped to ask how exactly the Erie Otters managed to lose $150,000 and be forced into bankruptcy while going to the OHL final and having one of the greatest players in junior hockey history in their lineup? Or how the people who purchased the team didn’t seem to mind forking over $10 million for a supposedly bankrupt, money losing team? It sure makes you wonder about the line in the CHL’s news release that said, “Goals around asset appreciation are lower/limited in the CHL versus other major sporting leagues.” It sure makes you wonder if that’s the case when the Sudbury Wolves can be purchased for $250,000 in the 1980s and sell for $11 million 30 years later, all the while appreciating by 4,400 percent. (And that’s for a team that generally underachieved, missing the playoffs nine of those seasons and one that plays in an antiquated building that needs to be replaced.) Franchise values and the fact that these teams are sold for many millions of dollars has to be part of the equation here.
The CHL earlier this year scoffed at a report the defense had done by a sports economist who had no access to its numbers because the league refused to provide them. That economist used economic modelling instead of creative accounting. Then the league releases a report from their sports economics expert that is based on financial records only it was allowed to see. Which one is more accurate? Well, it’s hoped we’ll find that out after the sides meet next week to determine whether the full financial picture can be made public, not just snippets of it.
Until then, a lot of this is white noise that should be taken with a mountain’s worth of salt.