It wasn’t a good season for the Edmonton Oilers this year but one of their bright spots was the play from power forward Ryan Jones. With 18 goals he finished tied for third on the team in that department and with that kind of production from a third or fourth line player, you can earn yourself a commitment from the team.
Today, Jones earned just that from Oilers GM Steve Tambellini as the Oilers signed him to a two year contract. With young guns like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle holding things down in Edmonton while veterans like Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky also contribute on the team’s top two lines, Jones’ production was welcome to give the Oilers a little bit of extra offense from their other lines. Sure, the Oilers were the NHL’s worst team, but they’ve got to take pride in what they had working for them and Jones’ play was an unexpected highlight.
At 6’1″ 205 Jones is a big body forward and now he’s getting chances to really break out unlike he was able to in either Minnesota where he was drafted or in Nashville after that. He’s getting the opportunity to do what he can in Edmonton and it’s helping him show off some of the skills he showed at Miami University in the NCAA.
There, Jones was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2008 after scoring 31 goals in 42 games for the Redhawks and menacing teams with his physical play and goal scoring touch. Perhaps the confidence shown by the Oilers is just what he needs to continue settling into a solid role as a depth forward in the NHL. The Oilers are certainly hoping so.
With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.
Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.
The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.
The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.