Author: James O'Brien


PHT Morning Skate: Connor McDavid autographs his hypothetical Sabres sweater


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Cheeky stuff from Puck Daddy here: a Buffalo Sabres fan didn’t just get a custom-made Connor McDavid jersey, he got McDavid to sign it. Someone somewhere is probably yelling “collusion!” (Puck Daddy)

Here’s the Tweet itself:

The guy better be careful. Some Sabres fans might accuse him of jinxing them out of the draft lottery in a few months …

This isn’t hockey-related, but it’s a clear example of “tanking” that makes the Sabres’ poor 2014-15 season look like Rudy-on-ice by comparison. (Deadspin)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

ESPN (especially Craig Custance) went in-depth regarding which NHL teams are embracing analytics and which ones are keeping their head in the sand. Take a wild guess which team is the only one in the “nonbelievers” category … (ESPN)

Is David Krejci’s injury the domino that causes a chain reaction of change for the Boston Bruins? (The Hockey News)

Ben Bishop’s “Tron” inspired mask is pretty nifty, but where’s the weird digitized version of Jeff Bridges? (Dave Art)


Fear the Gulls: Ducks unveil AHL team in San Diego


The Anaheim Ducks’ new AHL affiliate will be a nod to another animal you don’t often see as sports mascots.

They unveiled the San Diego Gulls’ name and logo on Sunday, which you can see in this post’s main image. Apparently the team name has some hockey history attached to it, too, as you can see from this release:

The Ducks today announced their American Hockey League (AHL) club’s new name and logo in an ice-breaking ceremony at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif. Unveiled by owners Susan and Henry Samueli, and co-owner Jillian Samueli, the team was officially named the San Diego Gulls. The new logo pays homage to the legacy of the WCHL Gulls logo and features the Ducks color palette and other design elements, including the Ducks trademark windswept font. A touch of the signature Gulls blue was added to the Ducks color palette to embrace the hockey history and tradition of the community. The clubs new colors are orange, black, and blue.

The team points out that the WCHL Gulls won titles in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2003. They’ll be part of a California collection in the AHL’s new Pacific Division:

Bakersfield – Edmonton Oilers
Ontario – Los Angeles Kings
San Diego – Ducks
San Jose – San Jose Sharks
Stockton – Calgary Flames

Pretty neat stuff all around.

Putting Wild in wild card: Minnesota topples Dallas late


It’s almost hard to believe that the Dallas Stars had a 1-0 lead against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Things changed sharply in the third period, as the Wild crushed Dallas 6-2 overall to keep their red-hot run alive.

As much as this hot streak revolves around acquiring Devan Dubnyk, this game was largely about guys who’ve been in Minnesota a little longer.

Zach Parise (two goals) and Mikael Granlund (one goal, two assists) probably stood out the most as the Wild scored six goals in the third period, the most of any team in the NHL so far this season.

Here’s video of those six Minnesota goals:

Minnesota on a mission

The numbers all smile for the Wild, as they’ve won six in a row at home. They’ve come a long way since falling below .500 (18-19-5) following a dispiriting 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 13.

This win places the Wild eight overall for at least the moment:

7. Winnipeg – 71 points in 61 games played (24 regulation/OT wins)
8. Minnesota: 69 points in 59 GP (29 ROW)

9. Calgary: 68 points in 59 GP (29 ROW)
10. San Jose: 68 points in 61 GP (28 ROW)

Stars falling

Dallas is now starting to lag behind the pack with 63 points in 60 games played. They’ve now lost three games in a row and four of their last five, a stretch that might just be deadly for a Stars team that really needs an epic run to make it to the playoffs (after doing something similar last season).

For much of this game, it seemed like these two teams were evenly matched. That changed in a stark way in the almost-brutal final 20 minutes, though.

Blackhawks give Darling two-year extension

Scott Darling

When word surfaced that the Chicago Blackhawks made some AHL swaps, people wondered if there’d be more moves. There’s at least one on Sunday, as Scott Darling signed a two-year contract extension with the team.

The financial terms weren’t revealed, but the contract covers the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

This happening doesn’t quell the rumors that another move might happen, however. Could there be a ripple effect in Chicago’s net?

In case you’re wondering, here are some stats for Chicago’s (current?) three goalies of most relevance:

Corey Crawford, 30 years old: 23-14-4, .918 save percentage, 2.36 GAA and one shutout.

Antti Raanta, 25: 7-4-1, .936, 1.89 and 2 SO.

Scott Darling, 26: 5-2-0, .937, 1.97 and zero SO.

Not exactly poor work from Chicago’s goalies, especially the backups, although perhaps the Blackhawks are concerned about a recent slump? It could mean more in the future, but perhaps it’s just a simple backup swap.

Either way, it seems like Darling might have a brighter future in Chicago than Raanta, at least at the moment.

Blackhawks recall Darling, demote Raanta; more moves to come?

Scott Darling

After a stunning 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks made some interesting transactions on Sunday. The question is: are the Blackhawks opening up space for bigger moves to come?

Here’s what we know for sure: Scott Darling and Joakim Nordstrom are back in the NHL while Antti Raanta and Ryan Hartman were demoted to the AHL.

Looking at the move in a vacuum, it’s reasonable enough, especially after Chicago’s goalies had a rough afternoon against the Bruins. Darling (pictured) showed some nice flashes of brilliance in his time at the top level, after all.

Again, with the trade deadline approaching and the Blackhawks sagging as of late – GM Stan Bowman visited the locker room after Sunday’s loss – some speculate that this could be the calm before the storm.

Take the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus, for example:

What kind of move should Bowman make if there’s something in the works?