Patrice Bergeron

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Coyotes expect Stepan to be ‘true number-one center’

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Derek Stepan is 27 years old and has played over 500 games in the NHL.

Though he has never registered more than 57 points in a single season, the Arizona Coyotes believe he’s the big piece they’ve been looking for.

“We are thrilled to acquire Derek,” said GM John Chayka after Friday’s trade with the Rangers. “Our organization has been searching for a true number-one center for over a decade and we are confident that he can be that for us.”

Chayka is absolutely right that the Coyotes haven’t had great centers for a while now. Antoine Vermette and Martin Hanzal were fine players for them, but Jeremy Roenick was their last elite center, and he’s been gone since 2001.

But is it fair to expect Stepan to be a true number one?

Well, the Rangers were reportedly concerned his game was on the decline. And at 27, his prime years are probably behind him.

Also consider the bar for number-one centers in the NHL. It’s Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Nicklas Backstrom, and a few others who rate higher than Stepan.

One could even make the argument that the Rangers never won the Stanley Cup with Stepan because they never had an elite number-one center while he was there. (No disrespect to Brad Richards, but his game was on the decline when he signed in New York.)

So, no, it’s not fair to expect Stepan to be a true number-one center, even if he’s deployed like one next season.

The real hope for a number-one center in Arizona is with Christian Dvorak, Dylan Strome, and Clayton Keller.

In the meantime, Stepan will have to do.

Patrice Bergeron wins record-tying fourth Selke Trophy

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Patrice Bergeron‘s dominance as perhaps the best two-way forward in the game continues.

For the fourth time in six years, Bergeron has captured the Selke Trophy, given to the forward that best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. He ties Bob Gainey as the only player to win the award four times.

He beats out Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler, a winner of this award in 2011, and first-time finalist Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild.

Bergeron scored 21 goals and 53 points in 79 games, helping the Bruins back into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Simply put, Bergeron may go down as one of the best two-way forwards to play the game when his career is done. Not only does he put up solid offensive numbers every season, scoring 30 or more goals in three different seasons, but he’s counted upon to take key faceoffs — winning 60.1 per cent of his draws — and he dominates in puck possession.

This past season, in more than 1,035 minutes at five-on-five, Bergeron had a 61.1 per cent Corsi For rating.

Last month, Bergeron underwent surgery for a sports hernia but is expected to be ready for the start of next season.

The award is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

Points. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Patrice Bergeron, BOS 1147 (71-39-24-11-11)
2. Ryan Kesler, ANA 945 (45-45-25-15-10)
3. Mikko Koivu, MIN 752 (28-34-28-28-10)
4. Mikael Backlund, CGY 310 (3-12-26-16-18)
5. Jonathan Toews, CHI 273 (5-9-17-17-24)
6. Mark Stone, OTT 113 (0-2-7-16-16)
7. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH 111 (1-6-4-9-12)
8. John Tavares, NYI 80 (1-5-2-6-7)
9. Jordan Staal, CAR 55 (1-3-2-3-5)
10. Sidney Crosby, PIT 51 (3-1-2-1-1)
11. Ryan O’Reilly, BUF 51 (0-1-5-4-7)
12. Brad Marchand, BOS 50 (1-3-3-1-1)
13. Mikael Granlund, MIN 33 (0-1-1-6-3)
14. Marian Hossa, CHI 31 (1-0-2-3-2)
15. Anze Kopitar, LAK 30 (0-0-2-5-5)
16. Connor McDavid, EDM 28 (1-0-2-2-2)
17. Aleksander Barkov, FLA 21 (1-0-1-1-3)
18. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 21 (0-1-2-1-1)
19. T.J. Oshie, WSH 20 (2-0-0-0-0)
20. Nazem Kadri, TOR 19 (0-1-2-0-2)

Kesler could reportedly be out 4-5 months after hip surgery

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After undergoing another hip surgery, Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler told reporters on Tuesday that he could potentially be out four to five months, according to NHL.com.

Initially, it was expected that Kesler would miss 12 weeks after the club said he underwent an operation for some “general cleaning” that included the removal of bone fragments.

From NHL.com:

“It’s going to take awhile,” Kesler said on the eve of the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile. “Gotta be patient with that. … It [stinks], but it had to be done.”

Kesler said he will be re-evaluated in 12 weeks.

If he does take up to five months to fully recover, he could miss a sizable portion of the first half of the season.

Kesler is in Las Vegas right now for the NHL Awards, which go tonight. He’s a finalist for the Selke Trophy, along with Patrice Bergeron and Mikko Koivu.

NHL takes over Vegas with awards show, expansion draft

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It’s 116 degrees in the ice hockey capital of the world.

For the next few days, Las Vegas is the place to be on skates. The desert gambling mecca is hosting the NHL’s annual postseason awards show on Wednesday, when the league also will reveal the Vegas Golden Knights’ choices in the expansion player draft to stock the club with talent for its inaugural season in the fall.

Las Vegas has hosted the awards show for several years, welcoming the NHL’s best for a red carpet presentation and a short week of partying in a city that knows a little something about entertainment.

But Vegas’ hometown team is in the spotlight for the first time this year, reaching a major milestone in its process of becoming the NHL’s 31st franchise – and doing it during a heat wave.

Read more:

Golden Knights reveal brand new jerseys

McPhee: ‘We’re going to be a good team’

Combining the awards show and the expansion draft should only enhance the fun for Vegas fans welcoming their city’s first major professional sports team. Thousands of those fans are expected to gather at T-Mobile Arena after the expansion draft for a raucous “Round Table Rally” to celebrate the Golden Knights’ first major acquisitions.

“You don’t always have to do things the same way,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the two-for-one Vegas show. “We’re not afraid to try something a little different. We think it’s going to be a lot of fun for our fans, particularly those here in Las Vegas.”

The Golden Knights have an NHL-ready arena, a veteran front office, an eager coaching staff, an eye-catching logo and positive momentum in their new community. This week, they’ll finally have one player apiece from the other 30 clubs, putting recognizable faces on the franchise for the first time.

The expansion draft affects every team in the league, so many of the stars convening in Vegas will be paying close attention to the names of the teammates they’ll be losing to Sin City.

“I think we’re going to talk about the awards, but not as much as we’re going to talk about the expansion draft and who got picked and who didn’t, and what the team’s going to look like,” Boston forward Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s definitely exciting to be here and to see it firsthand.”

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley paid a whopping $500 million as an expansion fee for the privilege of owning an NHL franchise. The league subsequently structured the expansion draft in a way that essentially creates more chances for Vegas to grab quality pros from the rest of the league.

Big names with bad contracts are available in abundance, but general manager George McPhee is likely to structure the core of a young, hard-hitting team from the available talent. General managers around the league have frantically negotiated with McPhee in recent weeks to keep their most valued unprotected players through side trades, but not every team has enough assets to do so.

“I’m very interested to see the kind of price teams paid, and to see what the currency on the market is,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “But also, you’re going to see how teams you compete against are affected or not affected. We’re fortunate in our situation. With so many young players, we’re not affected the way some teams are. But lots of teams are going to lose good players. Now do they make a deal and lose more, or did they not and just watch and see it happen?”

 

McDavid and Matthews are heavy favorites to win Hart and Calder, respectively

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The NHL awards are tomorrow in Vegas, where it’s expected Edmonton’s Connor McDavid will win his first (and probably not last) Hart Trophy for MVP and Toronto’s Auston Matthews will take home the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

But uncertainty remains for a few of the other awards, including the Norris Trophy for best defenseman.

According to online bookmaker Bovada, San Jose’s Brent Burns is the favorite at 1/5, followed by Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson at 5/2 and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman at 25/1.

Though Burns was the undisputed Norris favorite in the first half of the season, Karlsson’s second-half surge surely won him some first-place votes. Last year, Karlsson finished second to Drew Doughty in the voting.

As for the Vezina Trophy, Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is favored (1/4) to win for a second time. But Washington’s Braden Holtby has an outside shot at 11/5.

The Jack Adams Award for best head coach could be a close race. Bovada has Toronto’s Mike Babcock as the 5/7 favorite, followed by Columbus’ John Tortorella (9/4) and Edmonton’s Todd McLellan (11/4).

Finally, there’s the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward. Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler is the 5/7 favorite, followed by Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (7/4) and Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu (15/4).

The full list of Bovada awards odds: