One of the most underrated trades in recent NHL history occurred Feb. 12, 2010, when the Blackhawks sent Cam Barker to the Wild for Nick Leddy.
Leddy, drafted 16th overall in 2009, has since developed into a premier puck-moving defenseman, logging 21:42 a game for Chicago, where the 20-year-old currently leads all blue-liners in scoring with two goals and 12 assists.
Moreover, Leddy’s ascension allowed general manager Stan Bowman to trade Brian Campbell to Florida this summer, freeing up valuable cap space without losing much in the process.
After 20 games, the Blackhawks (12-5-3) sit first overall in the league with 27 points. And if that’s not sweet enough for their fans, the GM has a pile of money to spend if the opportunity should arise.
“We’re not in a rush to spend money,” Bowman said Friday, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “It’s really a bit of an oddity for us. In the last couple of years … we’ve been playing things day-by-day — literally — in terms of sending guys down and shuttling them back and forth. In an ideal world you would like to try to keep your guys here and have room if you do have injuries or if you have an opportunity to improve your team. That’s how we’re going to approach it.
“We do have a lot more cap space than we’ve ever had. When the time is right, if that opportunity comes, we won’t be hesitant to move on it. Right now, we don’t have any things that we’re close to doing or looking at, but we’re always looking ahead about what might be there.”
To which the rest of the league replied, “Hey…awesome.”
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…