Considering how close the Bruins-Flyers series had been, a sweep almost seemed wrong. Simon Gagne made a big impact on his first game back from a foot injury, scoring an overtime game winning goal to keep Philadelphia alive. While the Flyers have an uphill battle the Red Wings (and now the Canucks) can really relate to, the “one game at a time” cliches actually hold some water. Especially considering how wounded Boston is right now.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning player Dave Andreychuk is now a member of the club’s senior management team, and he’s confident that the Bolts won’t lose Steven Stamkos to unrestricted free agency this summer.
“Steven is going to come back. He’s going to be fine,” Andreychuk told Hockey Central today, per Sportsnet.ca.
“I still believe that Steve Yzerman is trying whatever he can do to sign Steven Stamkos, and I believe it will happen.”
Andreychuk — whose official title is VP Corporate & Community Affairs — is not part of the Lightning’s hockey operations, but presumably he speaks with Yzerman, the general manager, from time to time.
Of course, the challenge for Yzerman goes well beyond re-signing the captain. Even with an owner that’s willing to spend to the cap, it simply may not be possible to keep Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ben Bishop, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Jonathan Drouin.
All eight of those players need new contracts this summer or next.
Stamkos, Hedman, and Bishop are pending UFAs, while the other five are pending RFAs.
A report out of Sweden says that defenseman Gustav Forsling has signed an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.
For the past two seasons, Forsling has been with Linkopings HC of the Swedish Hockey League. In 2015-16, the 19-year-old had six goals and 15 assists in 48 games.
A fifth-round pick of the Canucks in 2014, Forsling was a star at the 2015 World Juniors, where he had eight points (3G, 5A) in seven games for Sweden. He was traded to Chicago in return for Adam Clendening.
“He’s an offensive defenseman that plays very well on the power play and has a big shot,” said Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman upon Forsling’s acquisition.
Assuming the report is accurate, Forsling can probably count on starting his North American career in the AHL.
The Blackhawks are hoping to graduate Rockford d-man Ville Pokka to the NHL next season.
Last year, Matt Hendricks captained Team USA to bronze at the World Hockey Championships, marking just the second time in the last 11 years the U.S. had medaled.
So, why not go back to Hendricks again?
That’s what USA Hockey opted to do on Wednesday, announcing the Edmonton forward would reprise his role as team captain for the 2016 tournament, to be held in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Hendricks had a pretty solid tournament for the U.S. last year, scoring two goals and three points in 10 games — an effort made more impressive by the fact it was his first time representing the U.S. internationally.
The U.S. gets its ’16 Worlds campaign underway on Friday, with a game against Canada at 11:30 a.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on NBCSN, and a live stream will be available on NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
Philly had one rookie defenseman burst onto the scene this year, as Shayne Gostisbehere‘s stellar play earned him a Calder Trophy nomination.
Next year, another freshman blueliner will look to make his own mark.
Ivan Provorov, the club’s first-round pick (seventh overall) at the 2015 draft, says he’s primed to make the Flyers’ roster for 2016-17 — despite the fact he’ll be just 19 years old when the campaign begins.
“I think I’m ready,” he said, per the Inquirer. “But we’ll see what happens. I think I’m going to have another good summer and come ready in September.”
The Flyers have been high on Provorov from the minute they drafted him. He signed his entry-level deal a week after being selected, and impressed onlookers during his time at prospect and training camps.
“He showed us his play is efficient in all areas with and without the puck,” head coach Dave Hakstol said, per CSN Philly. “I thought his competitiveness was very good throughout the two days.
“He was focused and relaxed. He is a composed young man with maturity and confidence. Those are very good traits in a young player.”
This year, Provorov — who’s still playing with Brandon in the WHL playoffs — racked up a whopping 21 goals and 73 points in just 62 games. The potential of adding Provorov’s offensive abilities to a blueline that already features a pretty skilled guy in Gostisbehere is tantalizing.
But, as Flyers GM Ron Hextall points out, Provorov is going to have to beat out an incumbent, and won’t just be gifted a spot on the Philadelphia roster.
“They have to come in and be better than someone else that’s here,” Hextall said of young players looking to crack the lineup. “If that happens, we proved last year that we’ll make room in our roster for a young player that proves to us that he’s ready to play at this level and make our team better.”