Taylor Hall had a good month (10 points in 13 games) and Bryan Bickell was even better (11 points 12 games), but Logan Couture had the best December of any NHL rookie.
The San Jose Sharks forward scored 10 goals and four assists for 14 points in 15 games. That total leads all rookies in the month, but Couture is dominating compared to other Calder Trophy nominates in offensive categories overall.
His greatest competition for the individual award so far has come from two goalies: Michal Neuvirth and Sergei Bobrovsky. Those are the two other rookies to earn the monthly award so far this season, but each netminder is hitting a few hiccups at the moment. Neuvirth is no longer the clear starter in Washington as Semyon Varlamov is back and healthy while Bobrovsky is dealing with a struggling Philadelphia defense.
Could it be that the rookie of the year award is Couture’s to lose? Maybe. Check out his accomplishments so far, according to an NHL press release.
A first-round draft pick (ninth overall) of the Sharks in 2007, Couture leads all rookies in goals (18), shots (129), game-winning goals (five) and power-play goals (five), ranks second in points (27) and is tied for fourth in plus-minus (+8). The 21-year-old Guelph, Ontario native joins goaltenders Michal Neuvirth of the Washington Capitals (October) and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Philadelphia Flyers (November) as Rookie of the Month winners this season.
The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.
Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:
As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.
If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.
Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.
At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.
That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.
Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.
Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.
As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.
The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.
Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.
Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.
It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.
This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.
You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these:
Bad news for the Ottawa Senators today.
The club announced Tuesday that prospect center Colin White is out six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.
The Senators selected White 21st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. After two years at Boston College, he signed his entry-level deal in April and appeared in two regular season games for Ottawa. He also appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, though he only saw 2:39 of ice time.
That’s certainly disappointing for White, who could’ve had a shot to make the big club out of training camp. One of the question marks for Ottawa had been the status of fellow center Derick Brassard, who had offseason shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to five months.
“I come here and worry about myself, do the right things on and off the ice, take care of my body. If I’m playing well and taking care of my game, I’ll fight for a spot,” White told the Ottawa Citizen prior to training camp.
The Vancouver Canucks dealt with some adverse conditions as they hit the ice at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai in preparation for this week’s 2017 NHL China Games exhibition series versus the L.A. Kings.
According to the pictures, it was a little on the foggy side for their practice.
Is that . . . Henrik Sedin in the distance?
The Canucks and Kings face off Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena, before traveling to Beijing for Saturday’s game at Wukesong Arena.
The good news? It appears the fog was lifted in time for the Kings’ practice.