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from Max Bultman of The Athletic,
With a bit of convincing (as a condition of this article, I agreed to explicitly note Scott’s reluctance to make prospect comparisons), The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler agreed to lead our panel alongside former NHL GM and TSN director of scouting Craig Button. Then, to round things out, we asked Jokke Nevalainen, the head of European scouting at Dobber Prospects, and Will Scouch of Scouching to share their opinions on Detroit’s Europeans and North Americans, respectively.
Jared McIsaac, LHD, Moncton (QMJHL)
Wheeler: Alec Martinez. The first thing that comes to mind for me with McIsaac has always been that he’s a strong complementary player. He has been asked to be more than that throughout his career as a relatively high-end prospect, particularly in Halifax where he’s a power play-guy and relied on to produce points, but I’ve never seen a ton of skill in his game and I don’t think that’s the kind of player he’s going to be at the next level. Instead, I see a useful left-shot defender who can contribute mid-20s points, act as a safety valve for his partner and make the odd play at even-strength while not being shy physically.
Button: Jared to me is never going to be a big offensive player, but he’s going to be a really good defenseman. And by defenseman, you’re not going to hear me use “defensive defenseman.” He’s going to be a defenseman that’s going to be able to play in the defensive zone, he’s going to be able to start the play moving, break the play down defensively and get the puck in the offensive zone and in the neutral zone in transition. He reminds me a lot, in terms of competitiveness and style of game, of Ryan Lindgren (of the Rangers). Jared has got a quiet, quiet competitiveness to him. And the one thing I’ll tell you about Jared: The harder the game, the more important the game, you don’t ever have to worry about Jared shrinking, ever. He rises to that occasion. I think he’s a really quietly fierce competitor.
more (paid) players...
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Like many young players, the jump from junior to pros has been a learning curve for Veleno, who turned 20 on January 13. He had just started to look more like the player the Wings hoped they drafted when the season was postponed. Now he’s on hold — including his strength and conditioning program. As part of the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, players have been told by stay home as much as possible. The Wings are trying to come up with alternate strength and conditioning routines.
Though Veleno looked better in the second half, he projects to spend more time in the AHL next season learning how to be the two-way center the Wings want him to be.
The Free Press spoke to Shawn Horcoff, the Wings’ director of player development, about Veleno’s progress.
“He’s had a really good second half of the year,” Horcoff said. “There’s been so much emphasis for him from the coaching side and the development side on his defensive game. He put a lot of hard work into that and he’s come a long way. He’s much more comfortable at that now. He’s playing big PK minutes, he’s on the ice at the end of the game — important minutes. So defensively we are really happy with his game.”
“The problem is sometimes when you do that, it can affect the offensive side. It can take time to figure out how to play at both ends of the rink properly. For Joe, he really started to figure it out in the second half. The biggest thing I noticed is his skating he is starting to separate himself down there, he’s starting to have confidence to move the puck through the neutral zone, drive wide on D. That’s going to be an asset for him as he gains more strength and maturity.”
via TSN's YouTube page,
Following Tuesday's NHL GM's conference call, Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun, along with Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli, share the latest on the best case scenario of hockey returning this season, discuss the challenges NHL ice makers face if the league is to play through the summer, and much more.
Elliotte Friedman joins Tim and Sid to discuss possible salary cap ramifications for the NHL, suggesting a potential need for a new collective bargaining agreement.
from Christ Johnston of Sportsnet,
The NHL has instructed players and team staff to extend their period of self-quarantine by another 10 days amid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
That message was shared with general managers during Tuesday’s call with senior league officials. Clubs had originally been asked to observe self-quarantine through Friday, but will now remain in isolation at home until April 6.
With the season on pause, the goal is to allow enough time for symptoms to present themselves — so far only two NHL players, both Ottawa Senators, have tested positive for coronavirus — and to keep the community as free from the fast-spreading virus as possible before next steps can be taken.
The league has said that it would like to eventually reopen team facilities to small groups for voluntary workouts if conditions allow. That would precede a training camp period before any resumption of play.
from Joshua Clipperton of the CP at CTV,
The video starts with Morgan Rielly standing at a sink before the Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman proceeds to demonstrate the correct way to wash your hands.
Another clip shows teammate Zach Hyman inviting fans to play games against him online.
Vancouver Canucks centre Elias Pettersson went for levity with a carefully edited golf video, while Montreal Canadiens counterpart Max Domi shared some impressive balance as he juggled a ping pong ball with his hockey stick.
In an unprecedented era of social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine during the global COVID-19 pandemic that has seen arenas go dark, NHL players and their teams are doing their best to stay connected with fans on social media.
"A lot of what they're trying to do is just do their part," said Joe Gagliese, co-founder and CEO of marketing agency Viral Nation. "People look to them in times like this because they idolize them."
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
With the 2020-21 cap expected to take a COVID-19 hit, there are rumblings the league may consider implementing a similar option in the near future — with the NHLPA’s blessing, of course.
And while a throwback to the compliance buyout is purely hypothetical at this stage, we found ourselves with enough time on our hands to sift through the rosters and drum up a list of potential candidates.
Justin Abdelkader, three years at a $4.25-million cap hit
Because the rebuilding Red Wings are in no rush to spend to the cap and assemble an immediate contender, and because they’ll also have a bunch of expensive contracts coming off the books this summer (Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley), they can still absorb overpaid veterans like Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen (two more years at a $5.25-million hit) with ease.
Here’s the question: Does Steve Yzerman still want a 36-year-old Abdelkader taking up cap space in 2023?
It’s easy to look at Abdelkader’s 2019-20 numbers — zero goals, three assists, minus-14 rating — and start dreading another three declining years of overpaying a depth winger.
There could be sentiment at play here, with Abdelkader being a loyal, career-long Wing and a respected leader. But remember this: Yzerman used a compliance buyout on local hero Vincent Lecavalier when he served as Tampa’s GM.
via Emily Kaplan of ESPN,
The NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees by 25%.
The league confirmed that salaries will be reduced across the board starting April 1.
The NHL's season has been on pause since March 12 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent layoffs during this uncertain time.
Below, the Montreal Canadiens are temporarily laying off personnel.
"I have goals going into each year that I set for myself. Obviously you have to take every game and every season in stride. You never know what is going to happen, you never know what a team is going to do or whatnot.
"Twenty goals was a number I thought I could hit. Whether it was 17 or 19 or 22, I don't really know, but that was the kind of number I wanted to get near. Scoring 20, that has a lot to do with your teammates. I have said this before, but it seems like I'm just getting ice and they're finding me and pucks are finding me. I've been pretty fortunate this year with that."
-Zach Werenski, defenseman for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jeff Svoboda of BlueJactes.com has more on Werenski.
from John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times,
...more than a week’s worth of hockey games have already been lost, and around here, that uncertainty has a familiar bleakness to it. Particularly for a man who has lived through the dismay of wondering what might have been.
Go back to the spring of 2005 and an NHL labor stoppage. The Lightning were the defending Stanley Cup champions but had not been back on the ice since their Game 7 victory against Calgary the previous June.
Like the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, the realization that more and more games would be lost and a postseason was in jeopardy played out like a slow-motion, low-budget horror film for then-Lightning general manager Jay Feaster.
RELATED: Could we see August and September hockey?
“You start off by hanging on any piece of information and any sort of hope or rumor that you hear,” said Feaster, who now runs the Lightning’s community hockey development program.
“You hear, ‘Well, it’s going to be X number of games in the season.’ And then, ‘Oh well, that deadline has passed. Now we can still play this many games.’ As you keep progressing, you realize you’re going to hit a point of no return, and that’s ultimately what happened.”
Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill joins Hockey Central to discuss the toughest season of his coaching career, but says if it doesn’t crush you, which it hasn’t, you have an opportunity at “unreal growth.”
The National Hockey League continues to look into scenarios which could see the season salvaged as the Board of Governors held a conference call on Monday. TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger explains what those plans could look like, including playing into September, and reveals how an infectious disease consultant gave 'a reality check' to the BOGs.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
The promising thing for the Wings’ organization is the strong finish by some of the young players.
There will be plenty of time ahead to analyze more of the Wings’ recent draft picks. But it’s interesting to note right now, a handful of players were playing some of their best hockey of this season — putting exclamation points on fine seasons — when the coronavirus pandemic ended everyone’s hockey schedule.
Shawn Horcoff, the Red Wings’ director of player development, identified some of the organization’s late-season risers.
- Joe Veleno, center, Grand Rapids (AHL): The Wings’ second first-round pick in 2018, Veleno was in the process of his completing his first pro season and was looking like a different player from the first half of the season.
Veleno’s overall game took off after he returned from a stellar performance during the holidays at the world junior championships for Canada.
The confidence and assertiveness in Veleno’s game was more evident, Horcoff said.
“The kid played really well the second half,” Horcoff said. “His game was starting to come on since he came from from world juniors. We really put a lot of focus on his defensive game. By the time Christmas hit, he was real comfortable and didn’t focus or think about it so much. Things were coming naturally to him.
“I’m happy with how his game came along. It’s not easy for a 19-year-old to play in the AHL, and he was playing in all situations.”
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday signed forward Max Humitz (HEW-mihtz) and defenseman Tory Dello to one-year contracts for the 2020-21 season.
from the CP at TSN,
"It's been, 'What's going on? If I want to speak to doctors, who do I speak to? Do you have any idea how long this is going to last? Do you have any idea when we might be able to get access to rinks simply to do some sort of generalized conditional skating?'" Fehr said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. "Their primary concern is for the health and safety of their families. Their (other) concerns are how we best prepare ourselves for the wide range of contingencies which might arise."
The Ottawa Senators announced Saturday a second player had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number in the NHL to two.
Both were part of the team's recent California road trip that included games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Ottawa played the Sharks at SAP Center on March 7 despite a recommendation by the county to not hold large public gatherings.
Fehr said he's not in a position at this point to second-guess if holding that game, and two subsequent contests, was the right call.
"We're still coming to grips with events," he said. "When this is all over, we can go back and look and see if, in light of hindsight, we would have made different decisions or whether based upon the available evidence they were the best decisions.
"We also don't know whether (Ottawa's game in San Jose) had anything to do with those (positive tests)."
BetOnline with a few odds on the NHL returning this season.
What do you think?
Return to Action Props
Next NHL Game to be Played June 1st or Sooner
Yes +300 (3/1)
No -500 (1/5)
Next NHL Game to be Played July 1st or Sooner
Yes +160 (8/5)
No -225 (4/9)
Next NHL Game to be Played August 1st or Sooner
Yes -180 (5/9)
No +140 (7/5)
via the NHL PR department,
The NHL is providing an updated Q&A to reflect recent developments during the pause in play. We will provide regular updates to this Q&A as information changes.
On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended against gatherings with 50 people-or-more for a period of eight weeks. How does that impact the NHL’s timeline on determining when the season can resume?
We will continue to monitor developments during the 60-day window prescribed by the CDC. Assuming events are tracking positively, we would hope to be able to begin providing high-level guidance on the potential of opening a Club training camp period roughly 45 days into the period covered by the CDC’s recommendation.
Have any NHL Players tested positive for the coronavirus?
We are aware of two NHL players testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Ottawa Senators Players, who tested positive, presented only mild symptoms and are currently in isolation.
3:40 to watch great saves from this season, all in slow motion.
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
At 8 p.m. Sunday, John Forslund was to leave the basement of his Apex home, rejoining his family, symptom-free for the coronavirus, his self-quarantine at an end.
“It’s been an ordeal,” Forslund said Saturday, thankful that a 10-day period filled with uncertainty and mind games would be coming to a close.
Forslund, the Carolina Hurricanes’ longtime broadcaster, also quickly qualified that comment. Others, he said, face grave health challenges from COVID-19 during a global pandemic that has made life as we know it far from the life we once knew. And there are other life-threatening diseases.
“This is something totally different, where you have to sacrifice for the good of yourself and everyone around you, so that’s basically what I did,” Forslund said. “I do have to be honest. It has been harder than I thought it would be.”
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
All of these young players might have played their final game this season.
“Certainly, there’s some potential for development to have been stalled,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "There was in (Grand Rapids) a potential playoff run, and there’s development involved in that. When you go through experiences in life, you have the opportunity to grow. You don’t always, it’s up to you a little bit, but you have the opportunity to grow, both from good and bad experiences.
"Right now there’s no day to day experience. So for kids in college, for kids in pro, there isn’t that developmental opportunity."
Making matters worse, their training regimens are disrupted due to closures of team and exercise facilities.
“It’s a difficult situation that’s fluid, dealing with prospects in different countries with different regulations,” Shawn Horcoff, Red Wings director of player development, said. “The main thing is staying safe and following the guidelines that government is putting together.”
Horcoff provided an update recently on how some of the organization’s top prospects fared this season:
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