Speaking to reporters at the NHL Scouting Combine, Connor McDavid was given the opportunity to talk himself up as the best player in the upcoming draft.
It’s believed McDavid will go first overall to the Edmonton Oilers later this month, after he posted a combined 169 points in 67 games between the regular season and playoffs with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League this past season.
No surprise, but the comparisons between McDavid and Jack Eichel, the second-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting final rankings, seem to be a central theme at the combine.
“That’s not up for me to decide,” McDavid told reporters, when asked if he believes he’s the best player in the draft class.
“I think a lot of people do a lot of talking and they’ll judge for their own eyes. I believe in my abilities and that’s the main thing. If I feel I’m the best player in the draft, I’m not sure. Maybe you’ll hear another answer from Jack.”
There were reports that Eichel had told teams in the interview process that he’ll be better than McDavid. The Boston University star has since tried to clarify what was said between him and NHL clubs.
As reports from the NHL Scouting Combine swirl that Jack Eichel told teams in the interview process he’ll be better than Connor McDavid, the highly touted Boston University star has clarified a few things on that point.
McDavid is expected to go No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft later this month. The Edmonton Oilers have that pick. Eichel is expected to go No. 2, to the Buffalo Sabres.
The comparisons between the two teenaged stars have made for an ongoing storyline for ages, reaching one peak at the 2015 World Juniors. And now we have the developments at the combine, including Buffalo’s GM Tim Murray telling WGR 550 radio that Eichel said he’ll be better than McDavid (For the full interview, click here).
“I’m pretty confident in my own abilities,” Eichel told NHL.com.
“I know everyone’s making a big deal that I said a comment like that; I don’t think it was meant at all about … it wasn’t me comparing myself to Connor or anything like that, it was more of me thinking that I’m the best player in the draft.”
Despite the expectation Eichel will go within the top two picks in the draft, he still has the decision about whether to turn pro, or return for another year at Boston University.
“If it ends up that my heart tells me that I want to move on and try to play in the NHL, then that’s what I’m going to do,” Eichel told the Buffalo News. “If my heart says I want to go back to BU, then that’s what I’m going to do.
It’s official: No changes to the Boston Bruins coaching staff. Claude Julien is back, as is his staff.
The faces behind the bench remain the same, but talk of philosophical change — and maybe more personnel changes — to how the Bruins play continues, especially when it comes to transitioning to the attack. You’ll recall recently hired general manager Don Sweeney making it quite clear when he took the job that he wants his team to play with an aggressive style.
On Friday, Sweeney lauded his coaching staff when it comes to the defensive side of things.
The Bruins were eighth in the NHL during the regular season at 2.45 goals-against-per-game. By comparison, the Chicago Blackhawks, playing in the Stanley Cup Final once again, were second in the league at 2.27.
Scoring goals, however, was an issue. The Bruins, despite decent puck possession numbers at five on five, were 22nd in the league in goals-for-per-game. None of the teams below them in that category qualified for the playoffs.
“I love the structure and accountability that [the coaches] bring to our table defensively. We’re not going to abandon that as a hockey club,” said Sweeney, as per the Bruins’ website.
“I think our forwards work extremely hard; I just want to be able to get into the flow of the offensive game a little quicker. And again, some of it is going to be personnel, and some is going to be system stuff that we have to address and utilize to the best of our ability.”
The New York Rangers were one win away from back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. However, there will be no return trip this year.
They lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending a post-season that saw Henrik Lundqvist often as the backbone, their best player, on many nights. In the first round against Pittsburgh, each of the five games were decided by one goal, including three in a row by 2-1 decisions.
Against Washington, the Rangers managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. Again, every game decided by one goal.
It can be argued New York was flirting with an earlier exit, had it not been for timely goals, but mostly for the play of Lundqvist, who posted a .928 save percentage in the playoffs. The only goalie to play 10 or more games in this post-season and post a better save percentage was Braden Holtby.
Despite giving up two third-period goals — an Alex Killorn backhander through traffic and an Ondrej Palat wrist shot off the rush — Lundqvist was sharp. His collection of saves included a great glove stop on Jason Garrison, and a quick pad save on Tyler Johnson to keep it scoreless in the second period.
“I think we all expected him to do that; he’s a great goaltender,” said Johnson of Lundqvist to NHL.com.
“There’s no denying that. We knew we would just have to keep getting opportunities and we knew he was going to save a lot of those, so it was just a matter of time for us to get try to get more opportunities than he could save. Luckily, we were able to.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning have now dispatched the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers in these Stanley Cup playoffs. So long, Original Six.
They are now off to the Stanley Cup Final, after beating the Rangers 2-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Going into Madison Square Garden, against a team that had not lost a Game 7 in six previous opportunities, or lost a Game 7 on home ice in its history, was apparently not a problem for the Lightning.
“We’ve just kind of got that group,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “I don’t know if we’re so young and dumb and don’t know any better … it’s hard to explain.
“But they just answer the challenge. Every time we as a staff go in and challenge them, they respond.”
After battling through two scoreless periods, the Lightning finally solved Henrik Lundqvist with a pair of third-period goals and Tampa Bay’s goalie Ben Bishop, who had been hot and cold in this series, was perfect in a 22-save shutout performance.
“Well, we didn’t give them much,” said Bishop.
“Last game they had some open looks, some odd-man rushes and a couple of seeing-eye pucks. And tonight the guys were blocking shots, giving up their bodies, sacrificing, and it makes a big difference when the guys are out there doing that, and it makes it really easy on me.”