Cam Tucker

David Poile

Predators’ prospect Mazanec has chance to step into back-up role


Pekka Rinne remains the No. 1 goalie in Nashville at the age of 33.

Coming off a season in which he struggled at times, with a .908 save percentage, he still has three more years remaining on a seven-year contract that has an annual cap hit of $7 million.

But the departure of Carter Hutton, who signed in St. Louis as an unrestricted free agent, has left a back-up spot open and, as per The Tennessean, there could be a battle between Marek Mazanec — who had 25 games experience in Nashville during the 2013-14 season — and 21-year-old Juuse Saros for the position.

“I’d say Mazanec certainly deserves the first look,” Predators general manager David Poile told The Tennessean.

“He’s spent four years in the organization, he’s been up here when Pekka (Rinne) went down a couple years ago, (played) 25 games and really played well. He’s had some inconsistencies in his game down in Milwaukee, but in terms of can he do it, should he be able to be that second guy? Absolutely.”

As for Saros, Nashville’s fourth-round pick in 2013, he emerged onto the scene in the American Hockey League last season, with a 29-8-0 record and a .920 save percentage.

The Predators also added to their depth at the goalie position by signing Jonas Gunnarsson out of Sweden at the beginning of June, which led to Hutton questioning at the time if his days in Nashville was done.

Blackhawks’ Hossa out to prove he still has scoring touch

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 09:  Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks talks to a teammate against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on February 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Sharks defeated the Blackhawks 2-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Once one of the prolific scorers in the NHL, reaching the 45-goal mark during the dead puck era before the second lockout, Marian Hossa believes he still has the scorer’s touch — at least to produce more than the 13 goals he scored last season.

Two years removed from a 30-goal, 60-point season, he ended last season with 33 points in 64 games. Injuries also interrupted his campaign.

He’s 37 years old — with five years remaining on a front-loaded 12-year contract — and age-related decline is one of the realities of the NHL game.

“I was pretty close to having more than 13 goals last year with so many chances but the puck didn’t want to go in,” Hossa told the Chicago Tribune.

“I definitely feel like I have more than 13 (in me). But I don’t want to put too many thoughts in my head offensively. I’ll just play my game and I know good things will happen.”

Hossa is one goal shy of 500 for his career, which has spanned 1,236 games.

Despite a drop in total goal production last season, Hossa still had the best puck possession numbers — 52.5 per cent Corsi For rating, but a full-season career low 6.8 shooting percentage — for Chicago players with more than 750 minutes at even strength, as per

Much has been made this off-season about how the Blackhawks may need to lean on younger forwards next season to help replace those who have left the organization, such as Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen.

For Hossa, at his age and following this past season, he may need to accept a different role than what he’s previously accustomed to.

From the Chicago Daily Herald:

Coach Joel Quenneville said he’d like to see the 37-year-old forward on the third line with center Marcus Kruger. It’s a combination that worked well late in the Hawks’ first-round playoff series with St. Louis.

“Maybe he carves out a different niche,” Quenneville said of Hossa. “I still see him producing, whether he’s playing against other teams’ best players, whether it’s 13 or 20-something (goals), we’re still going to get a pretty good game with the puck.”

Related: Hossa’s age just one of the challenges facing Blackhawks

With Benn’s status still undecided, Seguin ‘should be ready’ for World Cup

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) yells after scoring a goal agains the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo

Jamie Benn‘s availability for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey is still to be determined, following surgery last week.

However, there has also been good news for the Canadian contingent, with the tournament still two months away.

It appears forward Tyler Seguin, who played only once for Dallas in the playoffs due to injury, could be ready for the World Cup, according to Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill.

“Yeah, I’ve been talking to Tyler. He’s been skating and seems to be having no troubles. There’s a little bit of stiffness there still, but he feels comfortable and should be ready for the World Cup,” Nill told the Dallas Morning News.

Seguin initially suffered a partially lacerated Achilles tendon late in the regular season. He then suffered another injury in Game 2 against Minnesota in the first round, ending his post-season.

With a team that features plenty of offensive star power, it would be ideal for Canada to have both Benn and Seguin available. Benn’s timeline for recovery from surgery — expected to be six weeks — certainly makes it possible that he could be healthy for the tournament.

On the ice together in Dallas, Benn and Seguin have been a dominant force for the Stars, both in terms of point production and shot production at even strength.

Video: P.K. Subban touches down in ‘Smashville,’ hits the stage to perform Johnny Cash tune

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 2.04.54 PM

More developments in the P.K. Subban trade.

While most stories related to that blockbuster deal — Subban to Nashville, with Shea Weber going back to Montreal in return — have been highly controversial, the latest follows Subban as he tours Music City, where, fittingly, he hits the stage to perform a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’

Subban was immensely popular in Montreal — “The connection I have with the fanbase and community here is unspeakable, really,” he said in a recent interview with Sportsnet — but admitted in the aftermath of the trade that, “This is a business. We can’t forget that.”

Still, he brings an exciting dynamic to the game of hockey, both on and off the ice.

“I’m a general manager, but someday, I would like to be a fan, and this is a guy that I would pay money to see,” Predators GM David Poile told the Tennessean. “He’s exciting to watch. He does something every game. He competes every game. He shows up every game. I think it is going to be dynamic.”


P.K. Subban and the Predators: A match made in fun

Shea Weber isn’t going ‘to try to be’ like P.K. Subban

Quenneville buys into the idea of potentially younger Blackhawks squad

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville smiles as he talks during a news conference, Sunday, June 7, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning are tied 1-1 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final after the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 2. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo

CHICAGO (AP) Patrick Kane flashed a million-dollar smile in the photo opp, beaming from behind a table topped by the troika of hefty awards he skated off with to cap a sublime season.

Chicago’s 27-year-old star forward broke away with the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP, the Art Ross as the leading scorer and the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the NHL’s outstanding player by fellow skaters.

Missing conspicuously from silverware haul on the opening day of the Blackhawks’ annual fan convention was the Stanley Cup, the championship Chicago failed to defend last spring after winning it in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Despite a first-round, seven-game playoff exit against St. Louis last April, the Blackhawks say they’re ready for another run at the Cup with a revised, younger roster. The NHL’s salary cap, set at $73 million for next season, once again forced GM Stan Bowman to trim key players, most notably forwards Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen.

Bowman thinks his kids, and team, will be all right. He expects top prospects, who skated in a camp in Chicago this week, to jump in and fill in several spots, especially at forward alongside stars such as Kane, Jonathan Toews and Artemi Panarin, last year’s Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year.

No worries for coach Joel Quenneville, either.

“I’m very comfortable with it,” Quenneville said. “I see more depth on our team. I see more speed on our team.”

Related: Opportunity is knocking for Blackhawks prospects

Bowman said the prospect camp, which ended on Friday, was “the best we’ve had in terms of the caliber of player and level of play.”

The GM called out forwards Tanner Kero, Vincent Hinostroza and Ryan Hartman, who have played just a handful of NHL games, as “exceptional.”

“They’ve taken their game to another level,” Bowman said. “You can put Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz in there.”

Motte and Schmaltz, collegiate scoring stars last season, signed contracts with the Blackhawks last spring and left Michigan and North Dakota early. Schmaltz, a sophomore with the NCAA champ Fighting Hawks, said he sensed a real chance.

“I think I’m at the point in my game where I’m confident and ready to take this jump and do everything to make the NHL next year,” said the rangy 20-year-old center.

“I think there’s a good feeling all around in that there’s opportunity that might not have been there in the past,” said Hartman, a 21-year-old right wing. “It’s kind of a good time to be here. All of the prospects are the same boat, trying to earn a spot.”

Bowman insists he isn’t handing anything out.

“I think it’s dangerous to try to label guys to fill a role,” he said. “One thing I told all those guys, I’m not sure which of you is going to make the team, but don’t make that decision easy for us.”

Things are clearer on defense, where lack of depth hurt Chicago last season. Bowman signed free agent Brian Campbell to a bargain $2 million, one-year deal earlier this month to eat up minutes alongside Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Campbell is 37, but the mobile defenseman led Florida last season with 22:16 of ice time per game and a plus-31. A member of Chicago’s 2010 Cup team, Campbell says he “feels great” and has “plenty left in the tank.”

“He’s getting better with age and I’m excited about what he brings to our team,” Quenneville said. “I think in the last couple of years, he’s taken his game to a new level.”

Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, 24, did the same last season, staying healthy and playing all 82 games with the Blackhawks. Chicago also added 25-year-old Czech free agent Michal Kempny over the summer. Journeyman Michal Rozsival is back and Bowman has been impressed with 20 year-old Swede Gustav Forsling and 22-year-old Finn Ville Pokka.

Regardless of who makes their team and where they finish, the Blackhawks will be a lot younger.

“It looks like we have some really good young talent that can come in and and step in right away,” Kane said. “I think that’s something that’s going to be big for us.”

Notes: Marian Hossa, 37, had only 13 goals last season, but said he’s ready for whatever role Quenneville gives him. Hossa, who has 499 career goals, also is looking forward to skating for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey this September. “I’m sure the tempo is going to be so high, so when you come to training camp you’re just going to feel like you’re playing in a pickup league or something,” he said.