You might say that the Detroit Red Wings might feel a bit snake-bit in dealing with guys from the Finnish Elite League these days. Two years ago, they signed SM-liiga MVP Ville Leino only to see him slump mightily with Detroit while struggling within coach Mike Babcock’s system. They traded him to Philadelphia for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen only to see Leino flourish with the Flyers in the playoffs and lead many to believe that the Red Wings finally dropped the ball on a Scandinavian import.
This time around, they’re rolling the dice on Ilari Filppula, older brother of Wings star Valtteri Filppula. The Freep’s Helene St. James finds out from Ilari how he plans to make his mark on brother Valtteri’s Red Wings squad during training camp.
With a roster already jam-packed with forwards in Detroit, Ilari Filppula knows the odds favor him going to Grand Rapids next month.
But until the regular seasons forces the Red Wings to pare down, Filppula’s goal is simple: Show the coaching staff that at the very least, he should be atop the depth chart if an injury to a Wings regular requires a call-up from the minors.
“Whatever team I play for, I’ll play hard and just try to help the team as well as I can,” Filppula said. “If it’s in Grand Rapids, then it’s there, and hopefully I get a chance up at some point. Obviously NHL has been my goal ever since I started playing hockey. Sometimes it fell a little further, but now opportunity came and I feel pretty good. I think time is right now.”
Certainly the hype is reduced around Ilari compared to that of Ville Leino. Filppula did manage to win the SM-liiga playoff MVP trophy last season so he’s not coming in as a completely untalented guy but he’d have to be other-worldly in training camp to crack the already crowded Red Wings forward roster.
Still, if having Ilari stateside is something that can help little brother Valtteri perhaps relax a bit more and unleash his game, the bonus effects of giving Ilari a chance could really pay off for Detroit.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from worst to first.
The Leafs finished dead last in the NHL’s overall standings, giving them the best odds of winning Saturday’s draft lottery. And when the big show ended, Toronto had landed that top pick for the draft on June 24.
Outside of Toronto, the biggest winner Saturday had to be the Winnipeg Jets. They entered the day with the sixth best odds of getting the top pick at just 7.5 per cent. They were able to move all the way up to the second overall pick, which could certainly land them a franchise player and one that could definitely be ready to make the jump into the NHL next season.
The biggest loser? You could definitely argue it was the Vancouver Canucks. They finished 28th in the overall standings, giving them an 11.5 per cent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. But they fell all the way to fifth.
The Edmonton Oilers? Well, they didn’t win. Had they won the lottery, it would’ve given them the first overall pick for the fifth time in seven years.
Here is the 2016 draft order:
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Winnipeg Jets
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Edmonton Oilers
- Vancouver Canucks
- Calgary Flames
- Arizona Coyotes
- Buffalo Sabres
- Montreal Canadiens
- Colorado Avalanche
- New Jersey Devils
- Ottawa Senators
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Boston Bruins
Now that the order is set, who will go No. 1, 2 and 3 in that opening round?
Auston Matthews has long held the title as the top-ranked player heading into this draft. But there’s been increasing chatter that Finnish winger Patrik Laine has at least closed the gap between him and Matthews for that first overall selection, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.
Meanwhile, fellow Finnish forward Jesse Puljujärvi likely rounds out the top three, following a sensational showing at the 2016 World Junior Championships.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to even up their second-round series with the Washington Capitals with a win on the road Saturday at Verizon Center. You can catch Game 2 between these rivals on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links for both Game 2 between the Penguins and Capitals, and the draft lottery:
Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision
Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary
Everything you need to know about the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery
Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight
Burke: Once a team picks first overall, no more drafting first overall (for a few years at least)
Tyler Johnson began the playoffs as a game-time decision for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their series with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s now among the top point producers this post-season.
Needing a win to even the series before it shifts north to Brooklyn, the Lightning earned a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. Series tied, 1-1. As for Johnson, the diminutive but skilled forward, he led the Bolts with a three-point night and is up to 10 points in the playoffs.
He opened the scoring versus the Islanders and finished it with an empty-netter to negate any late comeback attempt.
Still without Steven Stamkos, the Lightning got another strong game from Jonathan Drouin, who entered this series without a goal. But he changed that, giving the host team a two-goal lead in the opening period of Game 2. That goal would be the eventual winner.
After a first-round playoff loss that resulted in the firing of coach Bruce Boudreau, players were forced to answer for such a disappointing end to the Anaheim Ducks’ season.
The Ducks were last in the West at the holiday break but went flying up the standings in the second half of the season, claiming the Pacific Division. But they couldn’t close out the Nashville Predators in the opening round, despite a 3-2 series lead, and Boudreau was sent packing.
Ducks GM Bob Murray then let the players have it, blasting the core group and their performance, especially in the first two games of the series, and strongly suggesting there would be some big changes in Anaheim leading up to next season.
“I take a lot of blame for what happened,” said Corey Perry, as per the Ducks’ website. “I didn’t score a goal. I take a lot of responsibility. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform.”
In seven games, the 30-year-old Perry, who just concluded the third year of an eight-year contract with a cap hit of $8.625 million, had four assists. But, as he said, no goals.
On Boudreau’s dismissal, Perry added: “He did a lot for my game. It’s tough when you know the reason somebody got fired is because we as a team and as individuals didn’t perform to where we needed to perform, and that’s the hardest thing. You lose four Game 7s at home, and he has nothing really do with what we did on the ice. We’re performing, we’re playing and we have to hold ourselves accountable. And I think a lot of guys are doing that.”