The NHL season is a week old today. It’s too early to assume that we’ve genuinely learned anything, even if some teams are putting some tantalizing appetizers on the table.
To give you a sense of the parity in the league – and the prevalence of the “charity point” – there are only two teams who haven’t earned a single standings point yet: the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. Before you snicker too much at those Canadian clubs, it’s important to note that the Flames have played in just two games and the Jets’ only game of the season was that fun-killing loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Meanwhile, four NHL teams have already played in four contests, including the league-leading Pittsburgh Penguins (3-0-1 for seven points).
Even with those very reasonable excuses in mind, the fun and unfair question is: will the Flames or Jets be the NHL’s final team stuck at zero points? Before you decide, you might want to take a look at their near-future schedules.
Jets’ next three games
Oct. 13 at Chicago (8:30 pm ET)
Oct. 15 at Phoenix (7 pm ET)
Oct. 17 vs. Pittsburgh at home (8:30 pm ET)
Flames’ next three games
Oct. 13 at Montreal (7:30 pm ET)
Oct. 15 at Toronto (7 pm ET)
Oct. 18 vs. Edmonton at home (9:30 pm ET)
Looking at their near-future schedules, the Flames have it easier than the Jets and they also start earlier today. If you think the two teams will manage the unlikely feat of losing during regulation of all three of their respective contests, Calgary will have five more home games in a row after that Oilers game while the majority of the Jets’ games are on the road.
If you ask me, the Flames should probably earn a point first. What do you think, though? Vote in the poll to let us know which team will avoid (a largely unfair) title as the last pointless team in the NHL.
Flames ink first-rounder Juuso Valimaki to rookie contract
The Calgary Flames signed Finnish defenseman Jusso Valimaki to a three-year, entry-level contract on Friday.
Valimaki, 18, was the 16th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. He was selected in that spot after a nice year with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, scoring 61 points in 60 regular-season games and then added an assist in four playoff contests. He also played for the Tri-City Americans in 2015-16, putting up 32 points in 56 games.
Apparently he’s capable of at least one nifty shootout move, too:
People are pondering how Valimaki may fit into the Flames at the end of a three-year window Johnny Gaudreaurecently cited. That seems a little far-reaching, although this nugget makes you wonder if Calgary might want to drag a little extra value out of his rookie deal:
With late birthday/signing date, Valimaki gets free ELC year in 18-19 if he doesn't exceed 9 NHL games in either of next 2 seasons. #Flames
It turns out that Tomas Tatar‘s days are numbered with the Detroit Red Wings by almost 1,500.*
After a salary arbitration hearing and concerns that he might leave after a single season, “Band-Aid” sort of deal, a wide variety of reporters state that the two sides instead agreed to a four-year deal with a $5.3 million cap hit, which would total $21.2 million.
Again, this feels like a change in viewpoint, as even just yesterday it was reasonable to wonder if Tatar would only stick around for 2017-18. Now, it is possible that Tatar might get traded at some point, but a four-year deal is a bit surprising. The forward himself speculated that a one-year deal would be it.
This contract makes Tatar, 26, the Red Wings’ second-most expensive forward from a cap perspective, trailing only Henrik Zetteberg’s $6.083 million.
The good news is that Tommy Wingels is expected to be ready for Chicago Blackhawks training camp. The bad news is that he’ll be limited in his training regimen … although that very regimen caused him issues in the first place.
“Tommy Wingels sustained a left foot fracture during his off-season training. We anticipate a full recovery in six to eight weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”
It’s unclear what caused the specific injury. Dropped weight? Unlucky fall? Perhaps a stress fracture? Without knowing the exact issue, it’s tempting to picture various painful scenarios.
(Probably because we’re in the dog days of the hockey summer, too.)
Wingels, 29, is on a one-year deal with Chicago, carrying a $750K salary and cap hit. He last played for the Ottawa Senators, though Blackhawks fans are most likely to remember him from his lengthy stay with the San Jose Sharks.
Six-to-eight weeks seems like it wouldn’t give a ton of room for error, so we’ll see if he’ll actually be ready for training camp.
Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase
Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.
Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.
Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.
Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.
Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.