Edmonton Oilers v Anaheim Ducks

Hall says Oilers should emulate Habs, Rangers


It’s easy for a team outside of the playoff race to say “We want to be like the Los Angeles Kings,” but the problem is usually obvious enough: they don’t have what it takes to be like said defending Stanley Cup champions.

Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall seems aware that such an idea is easier said than done, so instead, he told the Edmonton Journal that he believes his team has a better chance of following the path of the New York Rangers or Montreal Canadiens.

“There are teams built the way we are, and they have success,” Hall said. “The Rangers were a fast team that had trouble with their identity at the start of the year and figured it out over the course of the season. They were a fun team to watch. They’re not big, but they play with the puck and they’re fast. That’s how we have to be.

“We’re not going to bully teams out of their arena, but what we can do and what we can grow into is a possession team … a team that’s hard to knock off pucks and battles the way the big teams do.”

That’s a pretty valid perspective, yet the natural counter is: would those Eastern Conference teams have the same sort of success in the wicked West?

It’s tough to say, but at least the Oilers seem like they’re correcting some of their issues, even if the franchise itself admits that they still sport some glaring weaknesses (particularly at the center position).

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.