Kukla's Korner Hockey
CALGARY, Alta. - Hockey Canada announced Wednesday that Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill has been named general manager of Canada's National Men's Team for the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, which will be held in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic from May 1 - 17, 2015.
Nill will lead a management group comprised of Sean Burke (Windsor, Ont./Phoenix, NHL), Claude Loiselle (Ottawa, Ont.), George McPhee (Guelph, Ont.), Pat Verbeek (Sarnia, Ont./Tampa Bay, NHL) and Scott Salmond (Creston, B.C.), Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey operations and national teams.
from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com,
There was little need for debate on the projected top two players for the 2015 NHL Draft when NHL Central Scouting met to rank the top North American prospects earlier this month.
What seemed like a foregone conclusion became official Wednesday when NHL Central Scouting revealed that center Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League is No. 1, and center Jack Eichel of Boston University of Hockey East is No. 2 on its final list of the top 210 North American skaters eligible for the 2015 Draft, which will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
"At the start of the year McDavid and Eichel were considered Nos. 1-2," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "I don't know if it's a surprise that it ended up that way but I think a lot of credit has to go to Eichel in the way he was able to at least keep it interesting.
"But McDavid has clearly shown himself to be the No. 1 prospect."
McDavid, regarded as the top draft prospect since Sidney Crosby was picked first by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005, is regarded for his incredible speed and game-changing potential.
from Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
There are more than 4,000 kids playing amateur hockey in the area. There are some 140 teams, 25 of which play at the AAA or Central States level.
St. Louis now competes with Anywhere, USA, when it comes to developing hockey players. Programs are available at every rink in town, blue-collar people put in the hours and effort to make the game accessible, and kids make the sacrifice and commitment to pursue a dream.
Because the dream is real.
“I know the (Blues) alumni get a lot of credit,” said Al MacInnis, Blues senior adviser and Hall of Fame defenseman. “But there’s a lot of people and a lot of pieces involved for kids to move on to the next level, whether it’s playing junior hockey or it’s playing in college or pro hockey or in Europe.
“It starts with the youth hockey at the clubs; you need the participation level, the numbers.
from Todd D Milewski of USCHO.com,
One side of the Frozen Four bracket features teams that have combined for 12 national championships and 43 Frozen Four appearances.
On the other side, the national championships column is empty and Frozen Four experience is slight.
Boston University will play North Dakota in a semifinal matchup of two of the most accomplished programs in college hockey history. Providence and Omaha are matched in the other semi, with the Friars making their first Frozen Four appearance in 30 years and the Mavericks their first ever.
The Terriers and UND are both No. 1 seeds; Providence emerged from the East Regional as a No. 4 seed, while UNO was the No. 2 seed in the Midwest.
They’ll meet at TD Garden in Boston for the Frozen Four on April 9 and 11.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
One is from the High Park area in the west end of Toronto; the other is from Pickering, the first community east of Metro Toronto.
One just turned 23; the other won’t turn 21 until June.
One is a late-blooming 6-foot-5 goalie who may be closer to 6-foot-6, with the size, confidence, calm demeanor and puck-stopping ability that has NHL teams falling all over themselves to sign him as an unrestricted free agent; the other is a 5-foot-10 goal-scoring left winger who may be closer to 5-foot-9, with an edgy, chip-on-his-shoulder mentality and high skill level that is perhaps, finally, causing some NHL teams to at least consider the notion the unrestricted free agent can be successful in pro hockey in spite of his size, or lack thereof.
For all their differences, though, there is much Matt O’Connor and Drake Caggiula share: two Canadians, both products of the Greater Toronto Area, who have taken the hockey path less travelled to play pivotal roles for their respective U.S. college teams in a head-to-head match-up against each other a week this Thursday, in the semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four at Boston’s TD Garden.
One is a junior who wears the red and white of Boston University in Hockey East; the other is also a junior but in the green, black and white of the University of North Dakota in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
One will win; one will lose; which means only one is guaranteed to play for a U.S. college hockey national championship a week this Saturday in Boston.
from Steve Fainaru of ESPN,
More than a quarter of all helmets worn by hockey players, from the NHL to youth leagues, are unsafe, according to an independent study provided to "Outside the Lines" that ranked hockey helmets based on their ability to reduce concussion risk.
Out of 32 helmets in the marketplace that were tested by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, nine failed to earn a single star on a five-star scale and were classified as "not recommended." Just one helmet, made by Warrior Sports, received three stars. The rest received one or two stars.
"In general, they're low performers," said Stefan Duma, the head of Virginia Tech's department of biomedical engineering and mechanics, which spent three years and $500,000 developing the ratings. The study did not receive funding from the helmet industry.
Hockey players wearing the "not recommended" helmets risk incurring at least six concussions per season, and in some cases more than eight, according to Virginia Tech.
"We don't think anybody should be playing in these helmets," Duma said of the non-recommended models.
from Matt Higgins of the New York Times,
For Connor McDavid, an 18-year-old center for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League and the most anticipated N.H.L. prospect in decades, compliments accrue as steadily as goals and assists.
The Otters’ assistant coach Jay McKee, who played 13 seasons as an N.H.L. defenseman, has been known to pull out his phone on the bench during games to record a clip of McDavid’s dazzling play.
Tim Murray, general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, a self-described “glass-half-empty guy” not given to giddy appraisals, said he has not seen a better junior player. “I watch him too much and I think too much about him,” said Murray, who has been scouting teenage N.H.L. prospects for 23 seasons. “I wish I could help myself.”
Sherry Bassin, the Otters’ 75-year-old owner who possesses a lifetime of hockey memories and a voice like an old record, scratchy and faint, recalled that the Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk, who coaches the O.H.L. rival Barrie Colts, said of McDavid: “He skates like Bobby Orr. He has the vision of Wayne Gretzky. And he handles the puck like Mario Lemieux.”
from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com,
Will the age of enhanced statistics one day change the way NHL Central Scouting goes about its business in evaluating the top players eligible for the NHL Draft?
There's no denying the fact enhanced stats have taken the NHL and its fans by storm. In February, the League announced a partnership with enterprise software company SAP to provide many new statistics via NHL.com. If this stats revolution changes the way people now analyze the game, what could it do for NHL scouts?
"If you add ingredients to help you evaluate someone, you have to use those ingredients," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "But you can't go overboard; we've been baking a cake our whole life and now, if you put icing on the cake, it's better. But if it's all icing it's not a good cake, so I think if you take it too far it might not work.
"The eyeball test still has to be there, you still have to apply what analytics do. It could help you decide between one guy or the other, and I believe it is good for the game."
Chris Edwards, who does a majority of his scouting in the Ontario Hockey League, isn't completely sold on the enhanced stats revolution.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Once again, there’s a seismic shift going on in the hockey world.
The last major one, you could argue, came in the late 1980s and early 1990s when European players started coming overseas in large numbers to play in the NHL, minor pro, U.S. colleges and in the Canadian Hockey League.
At around the same time, the seeds were being planted in the southwestern United States for a harvest that would take more than two decades to be realized, but is now coming into plain view for anyone paying attention.
The indicators are all around. Since 1992, the registration of hockey players in the Pacific, Rocky Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Texas) and southeastern U.S. has increased by 240 per cent, more than half of that has come over the past 10 years.
In the same time period, there have been NHL teams added in Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Anaheim, San Jose and Nashville, joining the Los Angeles Kings, whose acquisition of Wayne Gretzky in 1988 undoubtedly accelerated interest in the sport in virgin territories.
Not surprisingly, all these NHL teams and registered skaters have started to produce more and more elite players.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It was a week ago Sunday night, the eve of the NHL general managers’ meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., and a smattering of club executives were posted up at the resort lobby bar, watching NHL games.
The TV at one end of the bar was showing Washington and Boston. That’s where you would find Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli. The TV at the other end had Anaheim and Nashville, which was where Predators’ GM David Poile was sitting.
The GMs from a few other teams were sitting between, or around, them, with Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher checking his phone now and again for other hockey scores, keeping his peers updated not only on the third NHL game, Philadelphia vs. Ottawa – The Hamburglar was a big deal, even amongst the GMs – but a handful of U.S. college playoff games being played that night, too.
"What’s the Harvard-Yale score?" Poile would ask Fletcher on a number of occasions.
Everyone there, of course, knew, Poile had a vested interest in the outcome. If Yale beat Harvard in the third-and-deciding-game of their ECAC playoff series, it could mean an end to the Crimson’s season and, therefore, allow for the possibility of Harvard goal-scoring machine Jimmy Vesey, the Predators’ third-round pick, 66th overall, in the 2012 NHL draft, turning pro and joining the Preds for the stretch drive and playoffs.
Chiarelli, himself a Harvard grad, good-naturedly poked fun at Poile from the far end of the bar, suggesting no Harvard player would leave such an esteemed institution without first graduating. Vesey is in his junior year.
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.
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