Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jonathan Wllis of Sportsnet,
It’s always difficult to identify breakout players; by definition, these are individuals who have never in prior seasons accomplished the things they are about to accomplish. However, analytics offers us some hints as to which individuals might be on the cusp of a revelatory performance. The following are five candidates for big seasons.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon is the kind of player who might get the “sophomore slump” label after falling from 63 points as a rookie to 38 a year ago. It’s unfair, because he was a dramatically better player in Year 2 of his NHL career. His line (with Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog) improved according to every five-on-five metric we have available.
Consider shots. In an average hour with MacKinnon on the ice, the Avs went from being out-shot 33-30 to outshooting the opposition 33-31, going from just below team average to well above it (as Colorado tends to get out-shot). His personal five-on-five scoring numbers were almost identical year-over-year, and he shot the puck far more frequently, almost 20 percent more than he did as a rookie.
Why did his scoring fall? Colorado’s power play imploded, with the unit’s goal production down nearly 30 percent from the previous season, and MacKinnon’s personal shooting percentage fell markedly, down from a reasonable 10 percent to a lousy 7.3 percent.
He’s 20 years old, all of his personal performance markers at even-strength are pointing in the right direction, and he’s coming off a year where everything went wrong on both the power play and as a shooter. He shouldn’t just match his rookie scoring totals, he should blow past them.
read on for Nazem Kadri, Justin Schultz, Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Strome...
TORONTO (September 2, 2015) – Bryce Salvador has announced his retirement from the National Hockey League (NHL) after 14 seasons.
Salvador played in a total of 786 career NHL games with two teams, the St. Louis Blues and the New Jersey Devils. He scored 24 goals and 86 assists for 110 points in his NHL career. Salvador, a six-foot-three, 215-pound defenceman, played in 74 playoff games and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 with the Devils. He captained the Devils for the final three seasons of his career.
“I would like to thank my wife, April, for her unconditional and ongoing support, and love. I’m blessed and so thankful that my two sons, Pierson and Hudson, were able to see and remember me play as I thought my career was over when I missed the entire 2010-11 season due to injury. To my parents, and my extended family, as well as Bonnie and Gerald, thank you for all your love and support,” said Bryce Salvador. “I would like to thank the Lethbridge Hurricanes and GM Bob Bartlett, the St. Louis Blues and GM Larry Pleau, and the New Jersey Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello, for giving me the opportunities to play hockey. Thanks also to my teammates, the owners of each of these organizations, and to the fans for bringing excitement and energy to every game. I look forward to a continued involvement in hockey for years to come.”
from Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice,
When the Devils bought out the final season of forward Dainius Zubrus' contract on July 29, Shero explained that wanted to create some roster flexibility up front in case he is able to add another forward at some point before the season starts.
Shero is still pursuing that possibility, but said “there's nothing imminent.”
“We're looking at those things whether it's a signing or a trade or potentially a tryout situation with players that are looking for jobs still or a trade with any team,” he said. “That's a constant evaluation that will kind of go on until training camp or after training camp. So, we'll see. There are players that are still out there. We've been in touch with agents and teams and we'll see where that's going to lead us trytout-wise, trade-wise or signing-wise.”
At this point, Shero doesn't know yet if any players will attend camp with the Devils as tryouts.
“Sometimes these things happen the day before,” he said. “I've been in touch with different agents and players, as every other team has been, and we'll just see. But there are no tryout invitations out at this point at all.”
When asked if the team would be more likely to invite a forward or a defenseman, Shero replied, “It could be both.”
read on for updates on Bryce Salvador, Ryane Clowe and Martin Brodeur Day...
Shawn McKenzie reports from Toronto where the NHL rookies are getting their photos taken for their Upper Deck rookie cards.
“I think it’s going to be a lot easier going into year two, just the comfort level they have with me and also myself with them. Now, as a coaching staff, we know what they’re capable of and should be able to put them in positions to succeed. … With the players, I think the comfort level will be higher and that’s the most important thing.”
-Bill Peters, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. More from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
In this, the second installment of our three-part series, we take at look at the seven living men who, each in his own way, have left a unique and indelible mark on the game.
Scotty Bowman, retired coach
Here’s the thing you need to know about Scotty Bowman. Few of his players over the years liked him. In fact, many actively despised him. But as Ken Dryden wrote in his seminal book, The Game, that didn’t matter.
“What [made] Bowman work is an understanding, the understanding that must exist between a coach and his team,” Dryden wrote. “He knows the most important thing to a team is to win; we know he does what he does to make us win.”
In fact, few men ever did that one thing better. Bowman holds the NHL record for career wins in both the regular season (1,244) and the playoffs (223). No coach has won more Stanley Cups than Bowman's nine: five with the Canadiens; one with the Penguins and three with the Red Wings. He's also earned five more as a front office executive, including one this past season as a special advisor to his son, Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman.
It all adds up to a legacy unmatched in the history of the game and one that's made him the professor emeritus of the hockey community. If there’s a question asked, there's no one who can answer it with more authority than Bowman.
Don Cherry, broadcaster
from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
Anze Kopitar has been eligible to sign a contract extension with the Los Angeles Kings since July 1, but don’t expect an announcement on an extension for the star center in the immediate future.
The Kings and Kopitar are are “not even in the ballpark” in their discussions, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi told LA Kings Insider over email when asked whether the two sides were “close” to reaching an agreement.
Kopitar has one year remaining on the seven-year, $47.6-million contract he signed in September, 2009. The nine-year NHL veteran will be paid $7.7-million in the final season of a contract that carries a $6.8-million cap hit. In 683 career games, Kopitar has 218 goals, 610 points and a plus-45 rating. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was a finalist for the Selke Trophy in each of the last two seasons and was a Lady Byng Memorial Trophy finalist in 2014-15, when he was an NHL All-Star for the third time. In 70 career playoff games, Kopitar has 18 goals, 60 points and a plus-22 rating.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
... Simply put, the Hawks are the model franchise, on and off the ice.
Which is why Patrick Kane might be done in Chicago. And why maybe he should be.
It’s still uncertain if the Hawks are seriously considering trading Kane in light of an ongoing police investigation in Hamburg, N.Y. But if they are, they won’t have any trouble finding any takers.
At least five teams contacted the Hawks once the Buffalo News first reported the investigation — which involves Kane and a woman at his Hamburg home — and said they’d be willing trade partners should the Hawks decide to cut ties with their superstar winger, according to a league source. The 26-year-old is entering the first year of a record-setting eight-year, $84-million contract.
Kane has not been charged with a crime — and that can’t be said enough — for the events of Aug. 2, which are being investigated by both police and the district attorney’s office. But another source said that Hawks brass had sternly warned Kane not to put himself in any more bad situations — and put the team in a negative light — after his much-publicized Cinco de Mayo escapades in Madison, Wis., in 2012. That was supposed to be his last strike.
So regardless of the legal outcome of the investigation, Kane’s future with the team is murky at best.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Joe Thornton is going to be an interesting test case for the Hockey Hall of Fame even though he clearly should be a no-brainer. But no question there are those who will hold his lack of a Stanley Cup against him. Of course, he still has time to win one before his career is out. But even if he doesn’t, it would be ridiculous to make that argument against him. His career screams Hall of Famer.
The Case For
Thornton, a consistent top-end point producer his entire career, currently sits 36th all-time in regular-season points with 1,259 (358 goals-901 assists), ahead of Hall of Famers Michel Goulet, Bernie Federko, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Bossy and Glenn Anderson, among others.
And he’s still got a few more seasons left in his career. For example, say the 36-year-old center plays three more seasons and I’m very conservative here in projecting 60 points a year. That puts him on pace for 1,439 career points, which would rank him 16th all-time, sandwiched between Teemu Selanne and Bryan Trottier.
As it stands, his 901 career assists are 19th all-time already, one assist away from passing Bryan Trottier.
from USA TODAY,
A clean slate at the start of a new season provides optimism for every team: A look at the Eastern Conference teams' reasons for hope in ending the drought.
Disclaimer: This is not to say that each item is created equal, or that each one is the only component to a deep run. This list does not account for injuries, which could cripple even the strongest teams. These are simply plausible reasons why your favorite team could be in store for a deep run. It's only fair after discussing the roadblocks to success last week.
Boston Bruins: Four foundation blocks. Boston fans can moan about the loss of Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic, but that doesn’t change the reality that the Bruins have a first-rate center combination in David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara on defense and in elite goalie in Tuukka Rask. If you presume that coach Claude Julien will insist the Bruins play stingy team defense and hope that David Pastrnak blossoms into a 20-goal scorer, you can make a case that the Bruins are still a contender.
Buffalo Sabres: Timing could be right for Cinderella remake. Unquestionably, the Sabres are going to be the most improved team next season. Their forward group will include Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, plus super rookie Jack Eichel and prized prospect Sam Reinhart. The defense will be significantly improved, and the Sabres are also courting free agent defenseman Cody Franson. Remember that the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars once stunned the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final with a losing record. The NHL is overdue for a Cinderella playoff story.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com