Patrik Laine

Getty

Bovada gives McDavid higher odds than Crosby to win Hart in 2017-18

10 Comments

In handing Connor McDavid an eight-year, $100 million extension, the Edmonton Oilers essentially are paying the 20-year-old star based on the assumption that he’ll provide MVP-quality play.

At least one Vegas oddsmaker agrees, as Bovada tabbed McDavid as the favorite to win the Hart Trophy, edging Sidney Crosby.

That’s interesting, yet it might be even more interesting to note where other players fall in the rankings. Auston Matthews coming in third is particularly intriguing.

Who are some of the more interesting choices? The 20/1 range seems appealing, as Carey Price is one of the few goalies with the notoriety to push for such honors while John Tavares has the skill and financial motivation to produce the best work of his career next season.

Anyway, entertain yourself with those odds, via Bovada: (Quick note: Bovada originally had Artemi Panarin listed as still playing with Chicago. PHT went ahead and fixed that in the bit below.)

2017 – 2018 – Who will win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player?
Connor McDavid (EDM)                         3/2
Sidney Crosby (PIT)                              5/2
Auston Matthews (TOR)                         17/2
Alex Ovechkin (WAS)                            9/1
Patrick Kane (CHI)                                 14/1
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)                       15/1
Evgeni Malkin (PIT)                                16/1
Carey Price (MON)                                 20/1
John Tavares (NYI)                                20/1
Jamie Benn (DAL)                                 25/1
Steven Stamkos (TB)                             25/1
Erik Karlsson (OTT)                               33/1
Nikita Kucherov (TB)                              33/1
Jack Eichel (BUF)                                  50/1
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA)                               50/1
Patrik Laine (WPG)                                50/1
Brad Marchand (BOS)                            50/1
Tyler Seguin (DAL)                                50/1
Nicklas Backstrom (WAS)                      60/1
Brent Burns (SJ)                                    60/1
Braden Holtby (WAS)                            60/1
Phil Kessel (PIT)                                    60/1
Artemi Panarin (CBJ)                              60/1
Joe Pavelski (SJ)                                  60/1

Looking to make the leap: Kyle Connor

Getty
1 Comment

This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…

Kyle Connor didn’t make “the leap” with the Winnipeg Jets last season, but he took quite a few baby steps.

He appeared in 20 regular-season games with Winnipeg in 2016-17, managing two goals and five points. The majority of his appearances came early in the campaign with one exception: an April 8 appearance where he carried over strong AHL work with a goal.

Sadly, Connor received an unfortunate “welcome to the NHL” moment already, as this boarding hit by Kyle Clifford served as an uncomfortable introduction to the physical side of the league:

That aside, Connor really was impressive with the Manitoba Moose, and he seems to be a pretty quick learner overall.

In just 52 games in the AHL, Connor scored 25 goals and 44 points. This continued the momentum from his season with Michigan in the NCAA, when he managed 35 goals and 71 points in just 38 games as he became a Hobey Baker finalist in 2015-16.

Every sign points to the 20-year-old being an impact player, right down to being a high draft pick (17th overall in 2015).

That said, Connor did suffer some growing pains – literally and figuratively – and told NHL.com’s Tim Campbell that an AHL demotion sent quite the message last season.

“You have to experience it,” Connor said. “Once I moved down [to Manitoba], it was a bit upsetting, of course, and it took a couple of games more than I wanted to adjust. But once I did, I worked with the staff really well and the stuff they wanted me to implement into my game. I thought that made a huge difference, and you could see it toward the end of my season.”

Jets fans might get to see that difference in 2017-18, especially after Winnipeg parted ways with some veterans who might have otherwise stood in the way of Connor and fellow promising forward Jack Roslovic.

(Roslovic could probably be considered the “1b” to Connor’s “1a” as far as Jets looking to make the leap.)

It should be fascinating to see how Paul Maurice might use Connor if he does indeed cement his status as an everyday NHL forward.

Will Connor still need to earn Maurice’s trust after only averaging 12:13 time on ice during his rookie looks last season? Connor could conceivably benefit if the Jets try to spread the wealth with talented forwards or possibly suffer a bit if the team instead loads up (i.e. putting Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, and Mark Scheifele on the same, potent line once again).

There are a variety of ways this could turn out, with the possibilities including another AHL demotion.

Even so, it looks exceedingly likely that Connor will continue his upward trend with the Jets this coming season.

Winnipeg Jets are finally interesting

Getty
4 Comments

This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…

Not only have the Winnipeg Jets been a pretty mediocre hockey team for most of their existence, they have also been a painfully dull team.

Nothing particularly exciting on the ice.

A front office that has rebuilt the team at a snails pace, seemingly refusing to make any sort of significant trade or free agent signing.

For the longest time no real difference maker of a player to build around because they were never quite bad enough to get a top-pick where a franchise player can be selected.

Slowly but surely — emphasis on slowly — that has all started to change for the Jets.

Just consider the core they have to build around now…

  • Patrik Laine, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, just put together one of the best rookie seasons for an 18-year-old in recent NHL memory with his 36-goal in 73 games performance. He is the cornerstone player the Jets have been desperate for. They finally got the right draft pick in the right year to land that type of player.
  • Mark Scheifele, just now entering his prime years in the NHL, was a point-per-game player this past season and looks as if he has developed into a threat to score 30 goals every season. He topped that mark a year ago and almost certainly would have done it the previous year had he not missed nine games due to injury.
  • Nikolaj Ehlers, the team’s first-round pick in 2014, had a breakout season in 2016-17 that saw him top the 25-goal and 60-point marks, while also playing an exciting style and making highlight reels due to his playmaking ability and speed.

That is an exciting young trio of forwards that not only play a visually pleasing style of hockey, but are also extremely productive. It is a great young core to build around.

Along with that group also have a solid stable of veterans led by the always underrated Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. There really is a lot of talent on this team and it produced one of the best offenses in the league.

Unfortunately they also had one of the worst defensive performances in the league. If nothing else it made their games some of the highest scoring in the league, making them the team to watch if you like offense. In a league where the average game saw only 5.5 goals per game, Jets games were putting more than six goals per game on the board. That is probably not what they want to see as it isn’t always the best recipe for consistent, sustained success, but it’s at least brought some excitement to a team that that for years had none outside of whatever chants its crowd could come up with.

It’s taken a few years, but the Jets finally have enough young pieces in place that they might be able to start building something of significance. At least as it relates to their forwards.

They just need to find a way to keep the puck out of their own net.

Auston Matthews claims Calder Memorial Trophy

1 Comment

Auston Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau in his rookie season, capturing the Calder Trophy on Wednesday after helping accelerate the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rebuilding process.

Selected first overall last year, Matthews made his mark on the NHL right away, scoring four goals in his very first game.

Talk about a debut.

He continued that elite offensive flare all the way through the regular season, finishing with 69 points and helping the Maple Leafs into the postseason.

Matthews beats out Patrik Laine, who had an impressive 36 goals and 64 points in Winnipeg, and Columbus rookie defenseman Zach Werenski.

The Calder Trophy goes to the league’s top rookie.

This was a truly impressive rookie class.

Matthews, who set a new American rookie goal record, has become the face of a franchise loaded with young talent, including Mitch Marner and William Nylander. With that injection of skilled youth into their lineup, the Maple Leafs gave the Washington Capitals all they could handle in the opening round, before eventually bowing out to Alex Ovechkin and the Caps.

His play certainly grabbed the attention of the league’s best players, including Sidney Crosby.

“I think the biggest thing that stands out is how he complete he is,” said Crosby earlier in the season. “That’s what I noticed from just watching him play. Just that maturity.

“His game is just so well-rounded. He’s a guy who can score goals but he’s a guy who can play away from the puck. He’s strong on the puck. He scores goals different ways, and that is probably a big reason why he is so consistent. He’s got a great shot, but he can also score from in close and goes to the net hard too.”

The winner of the award is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

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

1. Auston Matthews, TOR 1661 (164-3-0-0-0)
2. Patrik Laine, WPG 1106 (3-134-24-6-0)
3. Zach Werenski, CBJ 711 (0-21-93-28-15)
4. Matt Murray, PIT 346 (0-6-25-52-23)
5. Mitchell Marner, TOR 273 (0-3-14-42-56)
6. William Nylander, TOR 143 (0-0-7-24-36)
7. Matthew Tkachuk, CGY 72 (0-0-4-11-19)
8. Sebastian Aho, CAR 26 (0-0-0-4-14)
9. Ivan Provorov, PHI 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
10. Brayden Point, TBL 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Brady Skjei, NYR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

NHL Draft profile — Miro Heiskanen

Getty

THN Banner

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

And, for the second year in a row, we’re featuring special guest analysis from Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer and prospect expert at The Hockey News.

Miro Heiskanen (D)

Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 172 pounds Shoots: Left

Team: HIFK (SM-liiga)

Country: Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 4 European skater

Kennedy says: “Much more was expected from Finland at the World Junior Championship, one year after the nation struck gold with Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi leading the way. But at least scouts got to see the coming-out party of Heiskanen while his team fought off relegation.

“The smooth-skating defenseman was Finland’s best on the back end and may end up being the first blueliner taken in the 2017 draft.
Though he’s not blessed with much size, Heiskanen goes to the tough areas and brings a lot of skill to the table.

“Playing against men back home, the Ryan McDonagh-esque teen logged substantial minutes and produced very nice results for HIFK, where he will likely return next season (and once again be eligible for the world juniors).”

For the rest of the 2017 NHL Draft profiles, click here