Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly supports raising the draft age to 19


The movement to raise the NHL draft age from 18 to 19 got more public support today. Former NHLPA boss, now the executive director of College Hockey Inc., Paul Kelly declared he was fully on board with the proposal.

Well, of course he is. Kelly’s job is to promote college hockey. The fewer players that are plying their trade professionally when they could be playing in the NCAA, the better for the business of college hockey.

Not that it’s necessarily a bad idea. Just pointing it out.

Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson got this whole debate going when he sent a letter to the NHL suggesting the draft age be upped to 19.

In fairness to Kelly, he didn’t try to hide the fact he’s looking out for college hockey’s best interests.

“From the standpoint of helping the sport as a whole, across the globe and at all levels of hockey — junior, college, pro — I think it makes a lot of sense,” Kelly said, as reported by

But not all 18-year-olds should be held back from playing in the NHL, says Kelly. Just the non-elite prospects. (So basically anyone Minnesota scouts think are good?)

“You’re always going to have a handful of guys that are so exceptional that they can play at the age of 18. But for the most part it’s a rare kid that can crack into the National Hockey League until he’s 19, 20, 21, perhaps 22,” he said.

Anyway, I’m not sure how they’d go about creating a list of 18-year-olds that were draft-eligible. Would there be some sort of skills challenge? Would Bob McKenzie just tap the worthy ones on the shoulder with a sword? The NBA didn’t make an “exceptional player” rule when it raised the draft age to 19, otherwise I doubt Greg Oden would know his way around the Ohio State campus.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen