It’s been a prospect-packed day at PHT with talk of the Scouting Combine, amusing Scouting Combine photos and the announcement of USA Hockey’s Under-18 National Team. So why not discuss the “hat trick” of Hobey Baker Award finalists?
The three players nominated for the college player of the year award (named after hockey legend Baker, whose life ended tragically in a plane crash that may or may not have been an accident) are listed in this story from USCHO.com.
New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler, Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion and Maine’s Gustav Nyquist – all forwards – were announced as the Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Wednesday.
The award will be handed out on Friday, April 9, the day after the Frozen Four resumes. Here’s a quick rundown of the three finalists. Brandon and Joe are welcome to expand on these players later, since they know a lot more about college and/or junior hockey than I do.
Bobby Butler – The senior from New Hampshire was second in the nation with 53 points. The Ottawa Senators recently signed him to a free agent contract. He had 29 goals this year and received the award for the top American player (Walter Brown award) and was named Hockey East’s top player as well.
Gustav Nyquist – The Maine man has an awesome name. Gustav is cool enough, but Nyquist really seals the deal. Announcers can say that he gave a victimized goalie “Nyquil” after he scores. Fans can delight in creating “Nyquil + Sunkist = Nyquist” signs*. At least these things happen in my dream world in which Brandon Archibald will accept the nickname “Tiny.”
Back to reality, Nyquist is a sophomore and a Detroit Red Wings draft pick. He lead the nation with 61 points, including six games with three points or more.
Blake Geoffrion – You can roll your eyes all you want, I will still call him “Boom Boom.” He lead the Wisconsin Badgers in goals scored and is in the Nashville Predators’ system. I would assume he also ate plenty of cheese at the University of Wisconsin. For him to avoid doing so would be a sin against humanity and dairy products.
* – Though I’ve never tried it, I would not recommend trying a Nyquil + Sunkist concoction.
Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.
In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.
Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances.
Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website:
The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.
Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant.
Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant.
Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.
Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the 2010 Olympic Games, has been banned from suiting up in “competitive hockey” until May 22, 2019. Konev will be unable to play until Nov. 19, 2017, while Smith, who is Canadian, will be suspended until Sep. 2, 2018.
Smith, 32, played in 94 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
The Arizona Coyotes have a new head coach, but Rick Tocchet still has to fill out the rest of his staff.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the ‘Yotes might be looking to add John MacLean to their coaching staff.
MacLean, 52, spent six years as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils (2002-2009) before becoming the head coach of their AHL affiliate. After one year of coaching in the minors, MacLean was promoted to head coach of the Devils. His tenure didn’t last very long, as he was fired after just 33 games (they were 9-22-2 under his watch).
He spent the following three seasons as an assistant in Carolina, but he was let go after the 2014 season.
MacLean hasn’t been back behind an NHL bench since being let go by the ‘Canes. Instead, he’s served as a hockey analyst on various television networks.
—Tocchet wants Coyotes’ young players to be ‘creative’ and ‘calculated’
—Tocchet brings lessons from past mistakes (and successes) to Coyotes
The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, as they inked him to a one-year, $4 million contract on Tuesday morning.
Lehner and the Sabres were scheduled to have their hearing on July 27, but that obviously won’t be necessary anymore.
The 26-year-old played a career-high 59 games in 2016-17. He finished the year with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.
There’s no doubt that he’s a talented netminder, but he’s had his share of struggles when it comes to staying healthy and being consistent. Of course, the team in front of him hasn’t been very good either.
Both of Buffalo’s goalies (Lehner and Chad Johnson) will have something to prove this season because they’re both on one-year contracts. When their deals expire next summer, Lehner will be a restricted free agent again, while Johnson will be free to test the market on July 1st.
The Sabres now have just over $10.9 million in cap space with RFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Nathan Beaulieu and Evan Rodrigues still needing new contracts.
A huge extension for Jack Eichel is also on the horizon, but his new salary won’t count on the cap until 2018-19.