Pre-season quick recaps – September 21st

Since it’s just the pre-season, we’re going to keep this really simple and not get too excited about things. Cut us some slack here though folks, the season is fast approaching and this is our first taste of the year. Pre-season hockey is our really crappy appetizer that we totally love despite how unhealthy it is for us.

Columbus 5 – Atlanta 2

Plus: Bryan Little and Fredrik Pettersson played well for Atlanta scoring a goal a piece. Columbus appears to have a strong unit of guys ready to play for Springfield in the AHL next year.

Minus: Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec played the full game and saved just 21 shots in the loss. Not exactly an inspiring performance.

Florida 4 – Carolina 1

Plus: Panthers 2010 #1 pick Erik Gudbranson had a goal and an assist. Anton Babchuk scored in his pre-season re-debut with Carolina.

Minus: Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward sleep-walked through his 30 minutes on the ice allowing three goals in 20 shots.

Philadelphia 4 – New Jersey 3 (F/SO)

Plus: Adam Mair had a goal for New Jersey. Mair is with the Devils on a professional tryout. Scoring should help his case. All other goal scorers were important players for both squads (Dainius Zubrus and Jamie Langenbrunner for New Jersey; Daniel Briere, Jeff Carter, and Darrol Power for Philly). It’s nice to see them get on the board right away.

Minus: What’s worse than a pre-season game going to overtime? A pre-season game that goes to the shootout. I know it’s the rules of the game, but putting the shootout aside for the pre-season isn’t the worst idea. After all, even baseball has tie games in their exhibition season.

Ottawa 5 – Toronto 0

Plus: Sens prospect Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots in earning the shutout. Chris Neil had a goal and two assists while virtually permanent AHLer Corey Locke had a goal and an assist for Ottawa. Toronto’s Jay Rosehill fought and ruined Ottawa’s Zack Smith. If this game were judged on fights rather than goals, Toronto would win going away.

Minus: Everything Toronto did in this game stunk. Their power play went 0-for on the night and looked hapless in doing so. Ottawa’s Swiss hero Roman Wick was a no-show.

Colorado 3 – St. Louis 1

Plus: Colorado’s rough penalty kill from last year was nowhere to be seen in this game. Injury-recovered forward David Jones scored for the Avs as did prospect defenseman from Boston University Kevin Shattenkirk.

Minus: Not an inspiring start for Jaroslav Halak stopping just 15 of the 18 shots he faced. Despite the Blues outshooting the Avs 34-18 they still lost by two goals. Apparently the Avs wanted to keep up what they did last year in getting outshot wildly while still winning. After all, if it ain’t broke…

Tampa Bay 4 – Dallas 2

Plus: Tampa’s Adam Hall, fighting for a spot with the Lightning, got off to a great start scoring two goals. Dominic Moore also scored as did Mattias Ohlund. It’s a funny thing for Ohlund as he scored zero goals last season. Tomas Vincour had two assists for Dallas. Dan Ellis played well stopping 17 of 19 for Tampa.

Minus: Uninspired goaltending from both Brent Krahn and Andrew Raycroft for Dallas as both guys gave up two goals in split duty. They’ll be battling all during camp to win the backup goalie job behind Kari Lehtonen. A special minus goes to us for not knowing that Dallas had Swiss Olympic favorite defenseman Severin Blindenbacher in camp trying to win a job with the Stars. We are sieves.

Calgary 3 – Vancouver 1 (Vancouver)

Calgary 3 – Vancouver 2 (Calgary)

Plus: Kudos to Calgary for sweeping the split-squad, split-city affair with the Canucks tonight. Great job by both teams to bring a heated rivalry to both cities to kick off pre-season action.  It was also nicely done for both teams to feature some of their bigger stars in their home rinks to make it work. Heck, even Ales Kotalik scored tonight.

Minus: Vancouver dropping both games. We’re sure the fans in Vancouver are already lathered up in a panic of some kind.

Phoenix 4 – Anaheim 1

Plus: Phoenix’s youth showed up to play. Kyle Turris and Victor Tikhonov each scored while AHL lifer Brett MacLean and journeyman Andrew Ebbett also tallied. Bobby Ryan notched Anaheim’s lone goal showing no rust after a tumultuous off-season off the ice.

Minus: It’s not much of a minus, but getting goals from both Turris and Ebbett only helps to make coach Dave Tippett’s job harder deciding who stays and who goes back to San Antonio. This camp is a big one for Turris as he’s been the Coyotes top prospect for the last few years running. Now is his time to show he can stick in the NHL and getting a goal and assist right off the bat should help out. Ducks first round pick Emerson Etem had no points and was a -2 in the game while playing just 10:59 of the game. First steps can sometimes be the hardest.

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    Report: Vegas isn’t interested in trading defensemen Theodore, Schmidt

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    The Vegas Golden Knights enjoyed another busy day on Thursday, moving the likes of David Schlemko and Trevor van Riemsdyk. That doesn’t mean that all their defensemen are necessarily for sale, even with some pressure to trade a way a few more.

    Now, it’s plausible that someone merely hasn’t found the right price to entice Golden Knights GM George McPhee, but TSN’s Pierre LeBrun indicates that he’s shooting down offers for especially enticing young defensemen.

    Specifically, McPhee gave a hard “No” to at least three teams regarding Shea Theodore and also stonewalled offers for Nate Schmidt, according to LeBrun.

    It’s probably not fair to say that McPhee hasn’t been willing to move younger players altogether. After all, Trevor van Riemsdyk is 25, much like Schmidt.

    Even so, one could infer that McPhee would be quicker to trade away a veteran whose value may not ever be higher, such as Marc Methot or Alexei Emelin.

    For what it’s worth, let’s break down the Golden Knights’ current defensemen in two camps (30-and-under, 30-and-older) along with their contract situations, with help from Cap Friendly.

    Under 30

    Luca Sbisa, 27, $3.6 million cap hit through 2017-18
    Brayden McNabb, 26, $1.7M through 2017-18
    Jon Merrill, 25, $1.138M through 2017-18
    Colin Miller, 24, $1M through 2017-18
    Theodore, 21, $863K through 2017-18
    Griffin Reinhart, 23, RFA
    Schmidt, 25, RFA

    30 and older

    Methot, $4.9M through 2018-19
    Jason Garrison, $4.6M through 2017-18
    Emelin, $4.1M through 2017-18
    Clayton Stoner, 32, $3.25M through 2017-18
    Deryk Engelland, 35, $1M through 2017-18

    Considering the options at hand, it’s still feasible that someone might convince McPhee to ship Schmidt and/or Theodore over, anyway. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been connected to Schmidt and Colin Miller in rumors, though it’s unclear how likely such moves might be. Vegas isn’t tied to many players beyond this coming season, so they have plenty of flexibility to change their minds.

    The Golden Knights may also view the trade deadline as a more fruitful time to move a veteran such as Methot.

    Even so, it sure sounds like McPhee would at least prefer to build around his youngsters, and Theodore might be the clearest keeper of them all.

    NHL may punish failed offside reviews with penalties next season

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    It wasn’t a good look for the league, and it wasn’t captivating television, particularly for casual hockey fans intrigued by a fresh Stanley Cup Final matchup.

    P.K. Subban seemed to score the first goal of the Penguins – Predators series, only for the 1-0 tally to be overturned after a lengthy offside review. Plenty of people in Nashville were never convinced that the league made the right call, and even if it was correct, Filip Forsberg would have been offside by a tiny margin. The fact that it came mere hours after Gary Bettman praised the process only exacerbated the issue.

    (You can watch that agonizingly minute discussion in the video above. Predators fans might not want to re-live it.)

    Colin Campbell presented an interesting question for next season on Thursday: would a team like Pittsburgh make such a marginal challenge if a failed review would result in a minor penalty?

    It’s something the executive will bring to the competition committee and then the Board of Governors; Campbell believes such a tweak has a strong chance of being instituted in 2017-18.

    Previously, a coach would lose his timeout if an offside goal review failed. If this change is implemented, a team would keep that timeout but suffer a minor penalty.

    Campbell notes that this tweak would apply to offside challenges, not goalie interference reviews.

    Ultimately, for Campbell, it comes down to the spirit of the offside rule. Amusingly, the Predators also suffered from an infamous offside goal that would have benefited from an obvious review, as this Matt Duchene goal from 2013 inspired the NHL to admit that a mistake was made.

    The logic is pretty simple. If a goal was glaringly offside, then a team will view a challenge as worth the risk of possibly being penalized. If it’s a matter of inches or some other marginal question, a penalty would – ideally – deter a team from making a flimsier challenge. Specifically, Campbell pointed to offside reviews in which goals came long after the infraction had a significant impact on play.

    Now, sure, you could make some wise cracks about the idea, especially considering how the NHL’s suffered from a painful roll-out of a change here and there. And perhaps some coaches will still believe that it’s worth the risk to flip that coin.

    Still, the league’s heart is in the right place, and it could very well succeed in two goals: getting things right and not boring everyone to tears.

    Related

    NHL might crack down on slashes, too

    Blackhawks on ‘huge loss’ of Hossa, lingering salary cap questions

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    If any team could seamlessly move on from Marian Hossa, it would be the Chicago Blackhawks.

    That’s not to say that GM Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville lack appreciation for perhaps the best two-way winger of this era. Quenneville likely said it best to NHL.com: “I don’t think you replace [Hossa], because he’s a special player.”

    MORE: Skin condition will sideline Hossa for 2017-18

    Instead, it’s a testament to how the Blackhawks continue to contend, year after year: a willingness to make the tough choices that allow your team to compete. So, Chicago can merely “rebuild and reload” by taking that $5.275 million cap hit from Hossa’s seemingly inevitable trip to the LTIR, right?

    Not exactly. At least not yet, as CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers discusses:

    Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below it the day the regular season begins. If the Blackhawks place Hossa on LTIR, it wouldn’t take effect until the second day of the regular season. So on Day 1 of the season, the Blackhawks would still be carrying Hossa’s $5.275 cap hit.

    Once the LTIR would take effect, though, the Blackhawks would have wiggle room. If they spent to the $75 million cap, they could utilize Hossa’s entire $5.275 million cap hit on other players.

    Myers notes that Bowman said he wishes it was as simple as merely replacing Hossa’s cap hit – if not his impact – during the summer. Instead, things could be a bit more complicated.

    Things could get even messier if the NHL decides to impede Chicago’s progress.

    If the Blackhawks get to send Hossa to the LTIR, it won’t be the easiest situation. Before you get too gloomy about it, there still could be some creative options.

    Brainstorming a few ideas

    For one thing, what if the Vegas Golden Knights decide to keep James Neal around for a little while?

    Now, Neal and Hossa are very different players, yet both are wingers that can help your team win. Neal’s $5 million cap hit matches up remarkably well with that Hossa $5.275 million hit once it would go to LTIR, and the former Predators winger is in the last year of his contract.

    As Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee is wont to do, Neal would cost more than just money. Still, that’s just one example, and it’s plausible that other teams might want to sell off a piece but find summer offerings undesirable.

    In other words, a rental could be a good way to make lemonade from all of this.

    There’s also the possibility that the Blackhawks could look into players who didn’t get signed during the summer, including guys who just missed on PTOs.

    This isn’t to say that these are ideal scenarios, but the point is that the Blackhawks could still navigate this difficult situation, particularly if they show the flexibility and creativity they’ve displayed in avoiding salary cap challenges before.

    Even if it doesn’t mean another Hossa’s walking through that door.

    As a reminder, the Blackhawks may still have some moves in mind even before getting that delayed cap relief. We still need to find out if they are ridding themselves of Marcus Kruger‘s cap hit, something that Bowman wouldn’t address.

    None of this is necessarily easy, yet this franchise frequently aces tests like these.

    For Oilers, trading Eberle was about ‘long-term thinking’

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    CHICAGO —  Peter Chiarelli was there to talk about one thing, and one thing only.

    That was today’s big trade that sent Jordan Eberle to the Islanders in return for Ryan Strome.

    Not surprisingly, the Oilers’ general manager liked a lot of things about the deal — starting with Strome.

    “He’s got some things to his game that we feel can help us in our division,” Chiarelli said Thursday. “He’s got good size, a terrific wrist shot. Very, very cerebral player. He can play center or the wing. Very good on the half wall.”

    Not that Eberle doesn’t offer a few good things himself. Like scoring goals. That’s pretty important, right? Eberle’s scored 165 goals in his NHL career.

    But with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl requiring extensions soon, the Oilers needed to be wary of their cap situation. In Chiarelli’s estimation, Eberle’s $6 million hit had to go.

    “This is about cap management, and this is about replacing good players with good players, and this is about long-term thinking,” said Chiarelli.

    When he’d finished selling the trade, reporters naturally took the opportunity to inquire about the rest of his team.

    Does he want to get Kris Russell re-signed?

    Yes, he does. Still hoping to get that one done.

    How would he characterize negotiations with McDavid and Draisaitl?

    “Not going to characterize.”

    What about Patrick Maroon? Could he get an extension this summer?

    “This isn’t the state of affairs for who I’m signing, who I’m not signing.”

    Fair enough. Onto the draft then.

    Friday at United Center, the Oilers will have the 22nd overall pick. It’ll be the first time since 2008 that they don’t make a top-10 selection.

    “Certainly not as high a pick,” said Chiarelli. “We’ve got a cluster of four players and we think we’re going to get one of them.”

    That pick in 2008, by the way?

    Jordan Eberle, 22nd overall.

    Related: Strome pumped for opportunity to play with McDavid and Draisaitl