James O'Brien

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

Hurricanes won’t force Hanifin to make immediate NHL jump

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Noah Hanifin stands as the sort of defensive prospect the Carolina Hurricanes badly need, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll use him right away.

For every 18-year-old blueliner who weathers the storm of an immediate NHL jump (see: Aaron Ekblad), there are plenty of young players who benefit from more seasoning before they play at the highest level. The Canes seem comfortable taking a patient approach with Hanifin, as the Charlotte News & Observer reports.

“We don’t want to force him in there if he’s not ready,” GM Ron Francis said. “We’ll give him time to develop. I’m certainly not ruling it out, but we want to be careful and make sure we do what’s right for Noah.”

Frankly, the slow-and-steady approach might be wise for both sides. Let’s ponder a few reasons why:

  • Defensive prospects often take years to develop – Again, Ekblad is probably the exception to the rule.
  • The Hurricanes are expected to be mediocre, at best – OK, there’s always the chance that a team might make a surprise turnaround, and there is indeed talent on this roster. Still, most would probably agree that Carolina is in a “transitional” period, and probably won’t make many preseason playoff prediction lists.
  • Bang for the buck – People frequently forget that there are perils when it comes to “burning” years off of entry-level contracts. Why not take advantage of built-in cheaper years for Hanifin?

Those stand as some compelling reasons to allow Hanifin to marinate, but the Hurricanes must also consider the risk of stunting his growth at too low of a level if he is ready for the big time.

And, as you can see from this post, their defense could use all the help it can get heading into 2015-16.

Sticker shock: Oilers fans react to ticket prices for upcoming new arena

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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It remains to be seen if the Edmonton Oilers will be a playoff contender by the time they move into Rogers Place in 2016-17. It looks like Oilers season ticket holders will be paying as if they’re a high-end team either way.

The good news for Edmonton Oilers fans is that the “Connor McDavid tax” won’t be that costly for next season. Season tickets in their new arena fall in the cost range of “arm and a leg,” though.

The Oilers released a “season seat relocation guide” for the opening of Rogers Place in 2016-17, and the options are both more expensive and a little more complicated than what fans will experience at Rexall Place. It’s a little tough to compare and contrast when ticket pricing options just from eight different structures to 38, as Global Edmonton points out.

Copper & Blue’s Ryan Batty probably summarizes the more modest jump in prices – relatively speaking – between 2014-15 and next season versus the leap between 2015-16 and the new building’s opening campaign in 2016-17.

Yikes. To little surprise, Oilers fans seem a little stunned by the spike in prices, especially since Batty points out that the team is asking for some cash early:

Here are some choice reactions from fans and media members on Twitter:

Well, they better improve by the time they move then, right?

Canadiens sign Audette to entry-level deal

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t slacking just because it’s Friday.

After signing “mercurial” free agent Alexander Semin to a “prove it” deal, they also inked Daniel Audette to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The 19-year-old presents another example of the Habs being willing to give smaller players a chance, as he’s listed at 5-foot-8 and 176 lbs.

That smaller frame didn’t stop him from a productive season in the QMJHL in 2014-15, as he topped all scorers for Sherbrooke Phoenix with 73 points in 60 games.

Montreal selected Audette in the fifth round (147th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, he’s Donald Audette’s son.)

Holtby has much to prove, possibly even to Caps’ GM

Braden Holtby
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Even if it could still be a relative bargain for the Washington Capitals, it’s not lost on Braden Holtby that his five-year, $30.5 million contract puts him in select company among goalies.

Holtby provided a message during Friday’s conference call: after working to earn a raise from $1.85 million to $6.1 million per year, now he must show that he’s worth that new deal.

As the seventh-highest paid netminder in the NHL, some would expect “elite” work. Interestingly, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan wasn’t ready to put him in that category just yet.

“I don’t know if I would call him elite,” MacLellan said. “He’s above average, that’s for sure.”

Perhaps the Caps GM is just guilty of using some odd semantics, though. He also told reporters that he believes that Holtby has the potential to win championships for Washington and be a “top-two or top-five” goalie.

“I think he’s just touching the surface of what he could become,” MacLellan said, according to the Canadian Press. “I don’t know what the ceiling is on him.”

OK, so obviously MacLellan wasn’t burying the 25-year-old, but it was still a little weird to hear him hesitate to throw around the word elite.

Maybe he just doesn’t want Holtby’s ego to inflate along with his bank account?

Red Wings hand Jurco a two-year contract

Tomas Jurco
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The Detroit Red Wings signed Tomas Jurco to a two-year deal on Friday. The financial terms have not been revealed just yet.

Update: It looks like the deal is for $1.8 million, or $900K per season:

The 22-year-old suffered from some tough luck this past season.

For one thing, he dealt with injuries, but the bounces really didn’t go his way. Just 3.3 percent of his 92 shots on goal ended up in the net, so a disappointing total of three goals and 18 points in 63 games comes in part thanks to unfortunate breaks.

After all, the 22-year-old managed 15 points in just 36 games in his debut run of 2013-14, and his shooting percent was more-or-less average at 10.4.

Detroit’s cap situation is pretty snug at the moment, so we’ll see how his contract affects the Red Wings once details surface.