Ian Cole

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Ian Cole adjusts to missing teeth, life with a cage

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NEW YORK — Ian Cole has played 342 games and blocked 578 shots in his NHL career. Two weeks ago, he finally got to experience losing teeth as a hockey player.

As he displayed on Twitter (don’t look, really) the following day, the Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen lost three choppers in gruesome fashion after taking a Roman Josi slap shot to the mouth on Oct. 7. When he returned to the lineup Tuesday night against the New York Rangers, he was a couple of pounds lighter and wearing a cage.

“It was definitely something it looks nasty, it certainly was nasty. The feeling of them clipping away at bone off my jaw was not a feeling that I would want to have again,” he said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “But it could have been much worse. It could have been a broken jaw, could have been a lot more teeth. I certainly was fortunate.”

Cole re-joined his teammates on the ice this week and after seeing his diet switch to that of rice cakes, smoothies and soups, he’s back to eating solid foods, and the weight that was lost is slowly returning. After the Penguins arrived in New York City on Monday, he went the sushi route for dinner, preferring not to take a chance with a steak.

While playing at Notre Dame, Cole sported a half-shield, half-visor look, so going the full cage route won’t be a major adjustment. Once the Penguins medical staff tell him he’s able to say goodbye to the cage, Cole will go back to wearing just a visor.

“There’s a little bit of visibility difference, but it’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “You shouldn’t be looking down at the puck too much anyway ideally. There might be a time or two when you might lose the puck for a second, but hopefully those times are few and far between.”

Cole’s dad, Doug, is a dentist, and has been especially interested in his son’s recovery, passing along questions he has to the medical staff about the treatment they are giving the defensman.

After going through this experience for the first time in his career Cole says he believes if the NHL ever mandated cages for players they would get accustomed to it over time.

“Guys always get used to it, whether it’s visors or slashing calls now or face-off rules, guys adapt well and they’ll be fine,” he said. “That decision’s way above my pay grade but guys can adapt to that.”

Cole will get used to peering through a cage on the ice. But will what he went through cause some hesitation next time the opportunity to block a shot arises? He led all players with five blocked shots at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

“Now that I’ve got the full cage on, I’ve got nothing to worry about,” he joked. “I’m in full armor, I’m ready to go.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Stanley Cup repeat, not revenge: Predators can’t solve Murray, Penguins

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Pittsburgh Penguins fans were riffing on the “We want the Cup” chant on Saturday, teasing the Nashville Predators with “We got the Cup.”

Perhaps “Can’t beat Matt” or “Murray’s in your head” would cut even deeper?

Carrying over dominance from the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, Matt Murray blanked the Predators as the Penguins won 4-0 in that championship rematch on Saturday. Murray shut out the Predators in Game 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, too, so this marks three goose eggs in a row for Nashville vs. the quick-learning Pens netminder.

The Penguins have outscored the Predators 12-0 in these past three games. Woof.

Here’s an exact update on that shutout streak:

For better or worse, the Predators get a chance to score a goal against the Penguins – and possibly Murray, depending – when they meet again in Nashville on Nov. 11.

To little surprise, the Predators showed frustration as the game boiled down, prompting Ryan Reaves – who actually scored against Nashville – to drop the gloves more than once. (More on Reaves Sunday.)

(While Reaves drew praise from Mike Sullivan on Saturday night, people note that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still received the sort of hard hits many would expect. Anyway, more on Reaves tomorrow.)

Ryan Johansen seems pretty chill about this loss, even as Nashville hasn’t generated a standings point in its first two games of 2017-18. Maybe it’s because he was sidelined during Murray’s first two shutouts against the Preds?

Well, what can you really say, right?

The not-so-good familiar part for the Penguins

As much as this was a great night for the Penguins, the “Groundhog Day” feel of history repeating itself had its negative aspects.

To be specific, the Penguins continue to deal with bad injury luck for their defensemen. It’s easy to think back as Kris Letang as the only loss during that last run, but others either missed time or were limited by ailments. Ian Cole was the latest to suffer a rough break, losing teeth thanks to a gruesome puck to the face:

The Penguins said he’s out indefinitely.

The Penguins are eyeing the three-peat

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PITTSBURGH (AP) The parade celebrating the Pittsburgh Penguins’ second straight Stanley Cup was still raging on that hot afternoon in mid-June when Mike Sullivan decided it was time to up the ante.

Sure, becoming the first back-to-back Cup winners in nearly two decades is historic. Still, it’s just two. Three straight? Well, that’s something else entirely. And the man whose arrival in December 2015 coincided with Pittsburgh’s ascendance back to the top of the NHL knew it.

So the head coach with the innate ability to calibrate a roster stuffed with an eclectic mix of generational offensive talent, relentless young legs and just enough tenacity figured it was time to set the bar for 2018.

“I wonder if we can repeat, if we can `three-peat,”‘ Sullivan said.

Only he wasn’t wondering. He was challenging Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Murray and the rest of the core that has a chance to win three consecutive Cups for the first time in the NHL since Mike Bossy led the New York Islanders to four straight from 1980-83.

And the message rang through loud and clear. The way Sullivan’s captain figures it, facing that kind of internal pressure sure beats the opposite, even if Crosby isn’t quite ready to start thinking about what doing something his boss (Penguins owner Mario Lemieux), his idol (former Red Wings center Steve Yzerman) and the greatest player of them all (Wayne Gretzky) never did.

All three had their shots at a three-peat. All three came up short, if winning “just” two straight Cups qualifies.

“You don’t need to spend a lot of time looking back and comparing and things like that,” Crosby said. “You can do that when you’re done playing.”

Let’s do it anyway. No team has even reached the Cup final three successive springs since the Islanders finished off Gretzky and the Oilers on May 16, 1983, for their fourth championship, a time when the path from burgeoning power to dynasty was far shorter than it is now.

There were only 21 teams in the league in 1983, not 31. There was no salary cap, allowing teams to stockpile all the talent they could afford. Globalization hadn’t yet reached the league. The Islanders’ last Cup team featured players from three different countries. Last spring’s Penguins had eight.

Oddsmakers have made Pittsburgh the early favorite. The Penguins insist they’re focusing on the opener Wednesday against St. Louis. Worrying about becoming a true “old school” dynasty is at the bottom of the list of their concerns.

“The historical chips will fall where they may,” defenseman Ian Cole said.

NHL reveals all 30 teams’ available, protected players for expansion draft

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That moment is finally upon us: the NHL released protected and available players lists for all 30 teams regarding the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft on Sunday.

As you’ll see, teams generally chose two alignments:

1. Protecting four forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie.

– 0r –

2. Protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

The New York Islanders interestingly bucked the trend, protecting five defensemen.

While you dream up armchair GM (or armchair GM GM, in the case of George McPhee) scenarios, do note that the Golden Knights must meet these requirements as they select 30 players overall:

Also remember that McPhee can strike deals with teams to not pick certain exposed players, though such arrangement will come at a price. In addition to that note, it’s crucial to remember that younger players might not be exposed just because they weren’t protected, as some are exempt.

Got the basics? Good. The league lists the expansion draft rules here if you want to dive into the full details.

Excuse the big list, but here are all the players who are available and protected for each team.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Available
Spencer Abbott (F)
Jared Boll (F)
Sam Carrick (F)
Patrick Eaves (F)
Emerson Etem (F)
Ryan Garbutt (F)
Max Gortz (F)
Nicolas Kerdiles (F)
Andre Petersson (F)
Logan Shaw (F)
Nick Sorensen (F)
Nate Thompson (F)
Corey Tropp (F)
Chris Wagner (F)
Nate Guenin (D)
Korbinian Holzer (D)
Josh Manson (D)
Jaycob Megna (D)
Jeff Schultz (D)
Clayton Stoner (D)
Sami Vatanen (D)
Jonathan Bernier (G)
Jhonas Enroth (G)
Ryan Faragher (G)
Matt Hackett (G)
Dustin Tokarski (G)

Protected
Andrew Cogliano (F)
Ryan Getzlaf (F)
Ryan Kesler (F)
Corey Perry (F)
Rickard Rakell (F)
Jakob Silfverberg (F)
Antoine Vermette (F)
Kevin Bieksa (D)
Cam Fowler (D)
Hampus Lindholm (D)
John Gibson (G)

ARIZONA COYOTES

Available
Alexander Burmistrov (F)
Shane Doan (F)
Tyler Gaudet (F)
Peter Holland (F)
Josh Jooris (F)
Jamie McGinn (F)
Jeremy Morin (F)
Mitchell Moroz (F)
Chris Mueller (F)
Teemu Pulkkinen (F)
Brad Richardson (F)
Garret Ross (F)
Branden Troock (F)
Radim Vrbata (F)
Joe Whitney (F)
Kevin Connauton (D)
Jamie McBain (D)
Zbynek Michalek (D)
Jarred Tinordi (D)
Louis Domingue (G)

Protected
Nick Cousins (F)
Anthony Duclair (F)
Jordan Martinook (F)
Tobias Rieder (F)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D)
Alex Goligoski (D)
Connor Murphy (D)
Luke Schenn (D)
Chad Johnson (G)

BOSTON BRUINS

Available
Matt Beleskey (F)
Brian Ferlin (F)
Jimmy Hayes (F)
Alex Khokhlachev (F)
Dominic Moore (F)
Tyler Randell (F)
Zac Rinaldo (F)
Tim Schaller (F)
Drew Stafford (F)
Linus Arnesson (D)
Chris Casto (D)
Tommy Cross (D)
Alex Grant (D)
John-Michael Liles (D)
Adam McQuaid (D)
Colin Miller (D)
Joe Morrow (D)
Anton Khudobin (G)
Malcolm Subban (G)

Protected
David Backes (F)
Patrice Bergeron (F)
David Krejci (F)
Brad Marchand (F)
Riley Nash (F)
David Pastrnak (F)
Ryan Spooner (F)
Zdeno Chara (D)
Torey Krug (D)
Kevan Miller (D)
Tuukka Rask (G)

BUFFALO SABRES

Available
William Carrier (F)
Nicolas Deslauriers (F)
Brian Gionta (F)
Derek Grant (F)
Justin Kea (F)
Matt Moulson (F)
Cal O’Reilly (F)
Cole Schneider (F)
Brady Austin (D)
Mathew Bodie (D)
Zach Bogosian (D)
Justin Falk (D)
Taylor Fedun (D)
Cody Franson (D)
Josh Gorges (D)
Dmitry Kulikov (D)
Anders Nilsson (G)
Linus Ullmark (G)

Protected
Tyler Ennis (F)
Marcus Foligno (F)
Zemgus Girgensons (F)
Evander Kane (F)
Johan Larsson (F)
Ryan O'Reilly (F)
Kyle Okposo (F)
Nathan Beaulieu (D)
Jake McCabe (D)
Rasmus Ristolainen (D)
Robin Lehner (G)

CALGARY FLAMES

Available
Brandon Bollig (F)
Lance Bouma (F)
Troy Brouwer (F)
Alex Chiasson (F)
Freddie Hamilton (F)
Emile Poirier (F)
Hunter Shinkaruk (F)
Matt Stajan (F)
Kris Versteeg (F)
Linden Vey (F)
Matt Bartkowski (D)
Ryan Culkin (D)
Deryk Engelland (D)
Michael Kostka (D)
Brett Kulak (D)
Ladislav Smid (D)
Michael Stone (D)
Dennis Wideman (D)
Tyler Wotherspoon (D)
Brian Elliott (G)
Tom McCollum (G)

Protected
Mikael Backlund (F)
Sam Bennett (F)
Micheal Ferland (F)
Michael Frolik (F)
Johnny Gaudreau (F)
Curtis Lazar (F)
Sean Monahan (F)
T.J. Brodie (D)
Mark Giordano (D)
Dougie Hamilton (D)
Mike Smith (G)

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Available
Bryan Bickell (F)
Connor Brickley (F)
Patrick Brown (F)
Erik Karlsson (F)
Danny Kristo (F)
Jay McClement (F)
Andrew Miller (F)
Andrej Nestrasil (F)
Joakim Nordstrom (F)
Lee Stempniak (F)
Brendan Woods (F)
Klas Dahlbeck (D)
Dennis Robertson (D)
Philip Samuelsson (D)
Matt Tennyson (D)
Daniel Altshuller (G)
Eddie Lack (G)
Michael Leighton (G)
Cam Ward (G)

Protected
Phillip Di Giuseppe (F)
Elias Lindholm (F)
Brock McGinn (F)
Victor Rask (F)
Jeff Skinner (F)
Jordan Staal (F)
Teuvo Teravainen (F)
Trevor Carrick (D)
Justin Faulk (D)
Ryan Murphy (D)
Scott Darling (G)

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Available
Kyle Baun (F)
Andrew Desjardins (F)
Marcus Kruger (F)
Pierre-Cedric Labrie (F)
Michael Latta (F)
Brandon Mashinter (F)
Dennis Rasmussen (F)
Jordin Tootoo (F)
Brian Campbell (D)
Dillon Fournier (D)
Shawn Lalonde (D)
Johnny Oduya (D)
Ville Pokka (D)
Michal Rozsival (D)
Viktor Svedberg (D)
Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)
Mac Carruth (G)
Jeff Glass (G)

Protected
Artem Anisimov (F)
Ryan Hartman (F)
Marian Hossa (F)
Tomas Jurco (F)
Patrick Kane (F)
Richard Panik (F)
Jonathan Toews (F)
Niklas Hjalmarsson (D)
Duncan Keith (D)
Brent Seabrook (D)
Corey Crawford (G)

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Available
Troy Bourke (F)
Gabriel Bourque (F)
Rene Bourque (F)
Joe Colborne (F)
Turner Elson (F)
Felix Girard (F)
Mikhail Grigorenko (F)
Samuel Henley (F)
John Mitchell (F)
Jim O’Brien (F)
Brendan Ranford (F)
Mike Sislo (F)
Carl Soderberg (F)
Mark Barberio (D)
Mat Clark (D)
Eric Gelinas (D)
Cody Goloubef (D)
Duncan Siemens (D)
Fedor Tyutin (D)
Patrick Wiercioch (D)
Joe Cannata (G)
Calvin Pickard (G)
Jeremy Smith (G)

Protected
Sven Andrighetto (F)
Blake Comeau (F)
Matt Duchene (F)
Rocco Grimaldi (F)
Gabriel Landeskog (F)
Nathan MacKinnon (F)
Matt Nieto (F)
Tyson Barrie (D)
Erik Johnson (D)
Nikita Zadorov (D)
Semyon Varlamov (G)

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Available
Josh Anderson (F)
Alex Broadhurst (F)
Matt Calvert (F)
Zac Dalpe (F)
Sam Gagner (F)
Brett Gallant (F)
William Karlsson (F)
Lauri Korpikoski (F)
Lukas Sedlak (F)
T.J. Tynan (F)
Daniel Zaar (F)
Marc-Andre Bergeron (D)
Scott Harrington (D)
Jack Johnson (D)
Kyle Quincey (D)
John Ramage (D)
Jaime Sifers (D)
Ryan Stanton (D)
Oscar Dansk (G)
Anton Forsberg (G)
Joonas Korpisalo (G)

Protected
Cam Atkinson (F)
Brandon Dubinsky (F)
Nick Foligno (F)
Scott Hartnell (F)
Boone Jenner (F)
Brandon Saad (F)
Alexander Wennberg (F)
Seth Jones (D)
Ryan Murray (D)
David Savard (D)
Sergei Bobrovsky (G)

DALLAS STARS

Available
Adam Cracknell (F)
Justin Dowling (F)
Cody Eakin (F)
Ales Hemsky (F)
Jiri Hudler (F)
Curtis McKenzie (F)
Mark McNeill (F)
Travis Morin (F)
Patrick Sharp (F)
Gemel Smith (F)
Matej Stransky (F)
Mattias Backman (D)
Andrew Bodnarchuk (D)
Ludwig Bystrom (D)
Nick Ebert (D)
Justin Hache (D)
Dan Hamhuis (D)
Patrik Nemeth (D)
Jamie Oleksiak (D)
Greg Pateryn (D)
Dustin Stevenson (D)
Henri Kiviaho (G)
Maxime Lagace (G)
Kari Lehtonen (G)
Antti Niemi (G)
Justin Peters (G)

Protected
Jamie Benn (F)
Radek Faksa (F)
Valeri Nichushkin (F)
Brett Ritchie (F)
Antoine Roussel (F)
Tyler Seguin (F)
Jason Spezza (F)
Stephen Johns (D)
John Klingberg (D)
Esa Lindell (D)
Ben Bishop (G)

DETROIT RED WINGS

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

EDMONTON OILERS

Available
David Desharnais (F)
Justin Fontaine (F)
Matt Hendricks (F)
Roman Horak (F)
Jujhar Khaira (F)
Anton Lander (F)
Iiro Pakarinen (F)
Tyler Pitlick (F)
Zach Pochiro (F)
Benoit Pouliot (F)
Henrik Samuelsson (F)
Bogdan Yakimov (F)
Mark Fayne (D)
Andrew Ference (D)
Mark Fraser (D)
Eric Gryba (D)
David Musil (D)
Jordan Oesterle (D)
Griffin Reinhart (D)
Kris Russell (D)
Dillon Simpson (D)
Laurent Brossoit (G)
Jonas Gustavsson (G)

Protected
Leon Draisaitl (F)
Jordan Eberle (F)
Zack Kassian (F)
Mark Letestu (F)
Milan Lucic (F)
Patrick Maroon (F)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (F)
Oscar Klefbom (D)
Adam Larsson (D)
Andrej Sekera (D)
Cam Talbot (G)

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Available
Graham Black (F)
Tim Bozon (F)
Jaromir Jagr (F)
Jussi Jokinen (F)
Derek MacKenzie (F)
Jonathan Marchessault (F)
Colton Sceviour (F)
Michael Sgarbossa (F)
Reilly Smith (F)
Brody Sutter (F)
Paul Thompson (F)
Shawn Thornton (F)
Thomas Vanek (F)
Jason Demers (D)
Jakub Kindl (D)
Brent Regner (D)
Reece Scarlett (D)
MacKenzie Weegar (D)
Reto Berra (G)
Sam Brittain (G)
Roberto Luongo (G)

Protected
Aleksander Barkov (F)
Nick Bjugstad (F)
Jonathan Huberdeau (F)
Vincent Trocheck (F)
Aaron Ekblad (D)
Alex Petrovic (D)
Mark Pysyk (D)
Keith Yandle (D)
James Reimer (G)

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Available
Andy Andreoff (F)
Justin Auger (F)
Dustin Brown (F)
Kyle Clifford (F)
Andrew Crescenzi (F)
Nic Dowd (F)
Marian Gaborik (F)
Jarome Iginla (F)
Trevor Lewis (F)
Michael Mersch (F)
Jordan Nolan (F)
Teddy Purcell (F)
Devin Setoguchi (F)
Nick Shore (F)
Matt Greene (D)
Vincent Loverde (D)
Brayden McNabb (D)
Cameron Schilling (D)
Rob Scuderi (D)
Zach Trotman (D)
Jack Campbell (G)
Jeff Zatkoff (G)

Protected
Jeff Carter (F)
Anze Kopitar (F)
Tanner Pearson (F)
Tyler Toffoli (F)
Drew Doughty (D)
Derek Forbort (D)
Alec Martinez (D)
Jake Muzzin (D)
Jonathan Quick (G)

MINNESOTA WILD

Available
Brady Brassart (F)
Patrick Cannone (F)
Ryan Carter (F)
Kurtis Gabriel (F)
Martin Hanzal (F)
Erik Haula (F)
Zack Mitchell (F)
Jordan Schroeder (F)
Eric Staal (F)
Chris Stewart (F)
Ryan White (F)
Victor Bartley (D)
Matt Dumba (D)
Christian Folin (D)
Guillaume Gelinas (D)
Alexander Gudbranson (D)
Gustav Olofsson (D)
Nate Prosser (D)
Marco Scandella (D)
Mike Weber (D)
Johan Gustafsson (G)
Darcy Kuemper (G)
Alex Stalock (G)

Protected
Charlie Coyle (F)
Mikael Granlund (F)
Mikko Koivu (F)
Nino Niederreiter (F)
Zach Parise (F)
Jason Pominville (F)
Jason Zucker (F)
Jonas Brodin (D)
Jared Spurgeon (D)
Ryan Suter (D)
Devan Dubnyk (G)

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Available
Daniel Carr (F)
Connor Crisp (F)
Jacob De La Rose (F)
Bobby Farnham (F)
Brian Flynn (F)
Max Friberg (F)
Charles Hudon (F)
Dwight King (F)
Stefan Matteau (F)
Torrey Mitchell (F)
Joonas Nattinen (F)
Steve Ott (F)
Tomas Plekanec (F)
Alexander Radulov (F)
Chris Terry (F)
Brandon Davidson (D)
Alexei Emelin (D)
Keegan Lowe (D)
Andrei Markov (D)
Nikita Nesterov (D)
Zach Redmond (D)
Dalton Thrower (D)
Al Montoya (G)

Protected
Paul Byron (F)
Phillip Danault (F)
Jonathan Drouin (F)
Alex Galchenyuk (F)
Brendan Gallagher (F)
Max Pacioretty (F)
Andrew Shaw (F)
Jordie Benn (D)
Jeff Petry (D)
Shea Weber (D)
Carey Price (G)

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Available
Pontus Aberg (F)
Cody Bass (F)
Vernon Fiddler (F)
Mike Fisher (F)
Cody McLeod (F)
James Neal (F)
PA Parenteau (F)
Adam Payerl (F)
Mike Ribeiro (F)
Miikka Salomaki (F)
Colton Sissons (F)
Craig Smith (F)
Trevor Smith (F)
Austin Watson (F)
Colin Wilson (F)
Harry Zolnierczyk (F)
Taylor Aronson (D)
Anthony Bitetto (D)
Stefan Elliott (D)
Petter Granberg (D)
Brad Hunt (D)
Matt Irwin (D)
Andrew O’Brien (D)
Adam Pardy (D)
Jaynen Rissling (D)
Scott Valentine (D)
Yannick Weber (D)
Marek Mazanec (G)

Protected
Viktor Arvidsson (F)
Filip Forsberg (F)
Calle Jarnkrok (F)
Ryan Johansen (F)
Mattias Ekholm (D)
Ryan Ellis (D)
Roman Josi (D)
P.K. Subban (D)
Pekka Rinne (G)

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Available
Beau Bennett (F)
Michael Cammalleri (F)
Carter Camper (F)
Luke Gazdic (F)
Shane Harper (F)
Jacob Josefson (F)
Ivan Khomutov (F)
Stefan Noesen (F)
Marc Savard (F)
Devante Smith-Pelly (F)
Petr Straka (F)
Mattias Tedenby (F)
Ben Thomson (F)
David Wohlberg (F)
Seth Helgeson (D)
Viktor Loov (D)
Ben Lovejoy (D)
Andrew MacWilliam (D)
Jon Merrill (D)
Dalton Prout (D)
Karl Stollery (D)
Alexander Urbom (D)
Keith Kinkaid (G)
Scott Wedgewood (G)

Protected
Taylor Hall (F)
Adam Henrique (F)
Kyle Palmieri (F)
Travis Zajac (F)
Andy Greene (D)
John Moore (D)
Mirco Mueller (D)
Damon Severson (D)
Cory Schneider (G)

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Available
Josh Bailey (F)
Steve Bernier (F)
Eric Boulton (F)
Jason Chimera (F)
Casey Cizikas (F)
Cal Clutterbuck (F)
Stephen Gionta (F)
Ben Holmstrom (F)
Bracken Kearns (F)
Nikolay Kulemin (F)
Brock Nelson (F)
Shane Prince (F)
Alan Quine (F)
Ryan Strome (F)
Johan Sundstrom (F)
Calvin de Haan (D)
Matthew Finn (D)
Jesse Graham (D)
Thomas Hickey (D)
Loic Leduc (D)
Scott Mayfield (D)
Dennis Seidenberg (D)
Jean-Francois Berube (G)
Christopher Gibson (G)
Jaroslav Halak (G)

Protected
Andrew Ladd (F)
Anders Lee (F)
John Tavares (F)
Johnny Boychuk (D)
Travis Hamonic (D)
Nick Leddy (D)
Adam Pelech (D)
Ryan Pulock (D)
Thomas Greiss (G)

NEW YORK RANGERS

Available
Taylor Beck (F)
Chris Brown (F)
Daniel Catenacci (F)
Jesper Fast (F)
Tanner Glass (F)
Michael Grabner (F)
Marek Hrivik (F)
Nicklas Jensen (F)
Carl Klingberg (F)
Oscar Lindberg (F)
Brandon Pirri (F)
Matt Puempel (F)
Adam Clendening (D)
Tommy Hughes (D)
Steven Kampfer (D)
Kevin Klein (D)
Michael Paliotta (D)
Brendan Smith (D)
Chris Summers (D)
Magnus Hellberg (G)
Antti Raanta (G)
Mackenzie Skapski (G)

Protected
Kevin Hayes (F)
Chris Kreider (F)
J.T. Miller (F)
Rick Nash (F)
Derek Stepan (F)
Mika Zibanejad (F)
Mats Zuccarello (F)
Nick Holden (D)
Ryan McDonagh (D)
Marc Staal (D)
Henrik Lundqvist (G)

OTTAWA SENATORS

Available
Casey Bailey (F)
Mike Blunden (F)
Alexandre Burrows (F)
Stephane Da Costa (F)
Christopher DiDomenico (F)
Nikita Filatov (F)
Chris Kelly (F)
Clarke MacArthur (F)
Max McCormick (F)
Chris Neil (F)
Tom Pyatt (F)
Ryan Rupert (F)
Bobby Ryan (F)
Viktor Stalberg (F)
Phil Varone (F)
Tommy Wingels (F)
Mark Borowiecki (D)
Fredrik Claesson (D)
Brandon Gormley (D)
Jyrki Jokipakka (D)
Marc Methot (D)
Patrick Sieloff (D)
Chris Wideman (D)
Mikael Wikstrand (D)
Mike Condon (G)
Chris Driedger (G)
Andrew Hammond (G)

Protected
Derick Brassard (F)
Ryan Dzingel (F)
Mike Hoffman (F)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F)
Zack Smith (F)
Mark Stone (F)
Kyle Turris (F)
Cody Ceci (D)
Erik Karlsson (D)
Dion Phaneuf (D)
Craig Anderson (G)

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Available
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (F)
Greg Carey (F)
Chris Conner (F)
Boyd Gordon (F)
Taylor Leier (F)
Colin McDonald (F)
Andy Miele (F)
Michael Raffl (F)
Matt Read (F)
Chris VandeVelde (F)
Jordan Weal (F)
Dale Weise (F)
Eric Wellwood (F)
Mark Alt (D)
TJ Brennan (D)
Michael Del Zotto (D)
Andrew MacDonald (D)
Will O’Neill (D)
Jesper Pettersson (D)
Nick Schultz (D)
Steve Mason (G)
Michal Neuvirth (G)

Protected
Sean Couturier (F)
Valtteri Filppula (F)
Claude Giroux (F)
Scott Laughton (F)
Brayden Schenn (F)
Wayne Simmonds (F)
Jakub Voracek (F)
Shayne Gostisbehere (D)
Radko Gudas (D)
Brandon Manning (D)
Anthony Stolarz (G)

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Available
Josh Archibald (F)
Nick Bonino (F)
Matt Cullen (F)
Jean-Sebastien Dea (F)
Carl Hagelin (F)
Tom Kuhnhackl (F)
Chris Kunitz (F)
Kevin Porter (F)
Bryan Rust (F)
Tom Sestito (F)
Oskar Sundqvist (F)
Dominik Uher (F)
Garrett Wilson (F)
Scott Wilson (F)
Ian Cole (D)
Frank Corrado (D)
Trevor Daley (D)
Tim Erixon (D)
Cameron Gaunce (D)
Ron Hainsey (D)
Stuart Percy (D)
Derrick Pouliot (D)
Chad Ruhwedel (D)
Mark Streit (D)
David Warsofsky (D)
Marc-Andre Fleury (G)

Protected
Sidney Crosby (F)
Patric Hornqvist (F)
Phil Kessel (F)
Evgeni Malkin (F)
Brian Dumoulin (D)
Kris Letang (D)
Olli Maatta (D)
Justin Schultz (D)
Matt Murray (G)

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Available
Mikkel Boedker (F)
Barclay Goodrow (F)
Micheal Haley (F)
Patrick Marleau (F)
Buddy Robinson (F)
Zack Stortini (F)
Joe Thornton (F)
Joel Ward (F)
Dylan DeMelo (D)
Brenden Dillon (D)
Dan Kelly (D)
Paul Martin (D)
David Schlemko (D)
Aaron Dell (G)
Troy Grosenick (G)
Harri Sateri (G)

Protected
Ryan Carpenter (F)
Logan Couture (F)
Jannik Hansen (F)
Tomas Hertl (F)
Melker Karlsson (F)
Joe Pavelski (F)
Chris Tierney (F)
Justin Braun (D)
Brent Burns (D)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D)
Martin Jones (G)

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Available
Kenny Agostino (F)
Andrew Agozzino (F)
Kyle Brodziak (F)
Jordan Caron (F)
Jacob Doty (F)
Landon Ferraro (F)
Alex Friesen (F)
Evgeny Grachev (F)
Dmitrij Jaskin (F)
Jori Lehtera (F)
Brad Malone (F)
Magnus Paajarvi (F)
David Perron (F)
Ty Rattie (F)
Scottie Upshall (F)
Nail Yakupov (F)
Robert Bortuzzo (D)
Chris Butler (D)
Morgan Ellis (D)
Carl Gunnarsson (D)
Jani Hakanpaa (D)
Petteri Lindbohm (D)
Reid McNeill (D)
Jordan Binnington (G)
Carter Hutton (G)

Protected
Patrik Berglund (F)
Ryan Reaves (F)
Jaden Schwartz (F)
Vladimir Sobotka (F)
Paul Stastny (F)
Alexander Steen (F)
Vladimir Tarasenko (F)
Jay Bouwmeester (D)
Joel Edmundson (D)
Alex Pietrangelo (D)
Jake Allen (G)

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Available
Carter Ashton (F)
Michael Bournival (F)
J.T. Brown (F)
Cory Conacher (F)
Erik Condra (F)
Gabriel Dumont (F)
Stefan Fournier (F)
Byron Froese (F)
Yanni Gourde (F)
Mike Halmo (F)
Henri Ikonen (F)
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (F)
Tye McGinn (F)
Greg McKegg (F)
Cedric Paquette (F)
Tanner Richard (F)
Joel Vermin (F)
Dylan Blujus (D)
Jake Dotchin (D)
Jason Garrison (D)
Slater Koekkoek (D)
Jonathan Racine (D)
Andrej Sustr (D)
Matt Taormina (D)
Luke Witkowski (D)
Peter Budaj (G)
Kristers Gudlevskis (G)
Jaroslav Janus (G)
Mike McKenna (G)

Protected
Ryan Callahan (F)
Tyler Johnson (F)
Alex Killorn (F)
Nikita Kucherov (F)
Vladislav Namestnikov (F)
Ondrej Palat (F)
Steven Stamkos (F)
Braydon Coburn (D)
Victor Hedman (D)
Anton Stralman (D)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Available
Brian Boyle (F)
Eric Fehr (F)
Colin Greening (F)
Seth Griffith (F)
Teemu Hartikainen (F)
Brooks Laich (F)
Brendan Leipsic (F)
Joffrey Lupul (F)
Milan Michalek (F)
Kerby Rychel (F)
Ben Smith (F)
Andrew Campbell (D)
Matt Hunwick (D)
Alexey Marchenko (D)
Martin Marincin (D)
Steve Oleksy (D)
Roman Polak (D)
Antoine Bibeau (G)
Curtis McElhinney (G)
Garret Sparks (G)

Protected
Tyler Bozak (F)
Connor Brown (F)
Nazem Kadri (F)
Leo Komarov (F)
Josh Leivo (F)
Matt Martin (F)
James van Riemsdyk (F)
Connor Carrick (D)
Jake Gardiner (D)
Morgan Rielly (D)
Frederik Andersen (G)

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Available
Reid Boucher (F)
Michael Chaput (F)
Joseph Cramarossa (F)
Derek Dorsett (F)
Brendan Gaunce (F)
Alexandre Grenier (F)
Jayson Megna (F)
Borna Rendulic (F)
Anton Rodin (F)
Drew Shore (F)
Jack Skille (F)
Michael Zalewski (F)
Alex Biega (D)
Philip Larsen (D)
Tom Nilsson (D)
Andrey Pedan (D)
Luca Sbisa (D)
Richard Bachman (G)
Ryan Miller (G)

Protected
Sven Baertschi (F)
Loui Eriksson (F)
Markus Granlund (F)
Bo Horvat (F)
Daniel Sedin (F)
Henrik Sedin (F)
Brandon Sutter (F)
Alexander Edler (D)
Erik Gudbranson (D)
Christopher Tanev (D)
Jacob Markstrom (G)

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Available
Jay Beagle (F)
Chris Bourque (F)
Paul Carey (F)
Brett Connolly (F)
Stanislav Galiev (F)
Tyler Graovac (F)
Garrett Mitchell (F)
Liam O’Brien (F)
T.J. Oshie (F)
Zach Sill (F)
Chandler Stephenson (F)
Christian Thomas (F)
Nathan Walker (F)
Justin Williams (F)
Daniel Winnik (F)
Karl Alzner (D)
Taylor Chorney (D)
Cody Corbett (D)
Darren Dietz (D)
Christian Djoos (D)
Tom Gilbert (D)
Aaron Ness (D)
Brooks Orpik (D)
Nate Schmidt (D)
Kevin Shattenkirk (D)
Pheonix Copley (G)
Philipp Grubauer (G)

Protected
Nicklas Backstrom (F)
Andre Burakovsky (F)
Lars Eller (F)
Marcus Johansson (F)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (F)
Alex Ovechkin (F)
Tom Wilson (F)
John Carlson (D)
Matt Niskanen (D)
Dmitry Orlov (D)
Braden Holtby (G)

WINNIPEG JETS

Available
Marko Dano (F)
Quinton Howden (F)
Scott Kosmachuk (F)
Tomas Kubalik (F)
JC Lipon (F)
Shawn Matthias (F)
Ryan Olsen (F)
Anthony Peluso (F)
Chris Thorburn (F)
Ben Chiarot (D)
Toby Enstrom (D)
Brenden Kichton (D)
Julian Melchiori (D)
Paul Postma (D)
Brian Strait (D)
Mark Stuart (D)
Michael Hutchinson (G)
Ondrej Pavelec (G)

Protected
Joel Armia (F)
Andrew Copp (F)
Bryan Little (F)
Adam Lowry (F)
Mathieu Perreault (F)
Mark Scheifele (F)
Blake Wheeler (F)
Dustin Byfuglien (D)
Tyler Myers (D)
Jacob Trouba (D)
Connor Hellebuyck (G)

Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins

6 Comments

NASHVILLE — No disrespect was intended when the pundits made their predictions in April and picked against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If anything, it was a great deal of respect for Kris Letang.

And when Letang had neck surgery and was lost for the playoffs, it was simply hard for many to see how the Penguins could win it all again.

Yes, the Pens still had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But Letang was such a huge part of last year’s Stanley Cup run. He was the prototypical No. 1 defenseman that every champion seems to have. He was on the ice half the game. He got the puck moving. Heck, he scored the winning goal to beat the Sharks.

No way they could win without him.

Except they just did.

So congratulations to Brian Dumoulin, Ron HainseyOlli Maatta, Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley, and Ian Cole. Those six — a.k.a. the “simple bunch,” per Mike Sullivan — just became the most unheralded group of defensemen to win the Cup since Bret Hedican, Aaron Ward, Mike Commodore, Frantisek Kaberle, Niclas Wallin, and Glen Wesley did it for Carolina in 2006.

“They know the pressure that comes with losing a guy who plays 25 to 30 minutes, and they weren’t intimidated by it,” said Crosby. “I think they proved what they’re capable of.”

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who just so happened to be the GM of that ’06 Hurricanes team, knew it would be a lot harder to win without Letang.

“You can’t replace him, so you’ve gotta figure out a different way to do it,” Rutherford said. “We’re fortunate that we picked up Ron Hainsey. He ate up a lot of minutes, played in the top pairing, did a good job. All six guys did a good job.”

And yes, the experience in Carolina helped him believe it was possible.

“In ’06 in Carolina, we didn’t have a No. 1 defenseman,” said Rutherford. “We didn’t have that dominant defenseman. And when Letang went out, I said to our guys, ‘Don’t worry, we can do this.'”

Still, so many good teams have tried and failed to win without that No. 1 guy. Chances are, next year’s champion will have that guy, and the ’06 Hurricanes and ’17 Penguins will be remembered as the exceptions that prove the rule.

“I can’t say enough about that group,” said Crosby. “It was pretty difficult what they were able to do night in and night out.”

But they did it.

The pundits were wrong.