Perhaps the Nashville Predators face a few “What ifs?” considering the fact that Shea Weber got injured during their series against the Chicago Blackhawks, yet it doesn’t sound like they’ll need to play without him to start the 2015-16 season.
Weber told the Tennessean that his rehab from a knee injury (and eventual surgery) is going smoothly.
In fact, it sounds like the 29-year-old is on track to participate in Predators training camp.
“Just going to obviously try to find out from the doctor and see what he thinks, and if it’s ready to go, then we’ll go when he says it is,” Weber said. “I think there’s no question that I should be ready for training camp.”
That’s promising for Nashville.
The question is: how many players from the 2014-15 team will join him?
Predators GM David Poile more or less admitted that Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli will not be back. Unrestricted free agents Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher are big considerations, while RFAs such as Colin Wilson and Craig Smith should get raises. The team has up-and-comers alongside Weber on defense and ample space to make improvements.
In other words, Weber should have help next season, but we’ll see how much he receives. Either way, a fully healthy Weber would obviously make a huge difference for Nashville.
Oshawa beats Kelowna in OT to win 2015 Memorial Cup
Noteworthy hockey players participated in what will be the biggest games of some of their lives, and it wasn’t in either Game 7. The Oshawa Generals bested the Kelowna Rockets 2-1 early in OT to win the 2015 Memorial Cup on Sunday.
Anthony Cirelli scored both of Oshawa’s goals, which was quite a feat if you judge it by this tidbit:
Unbelievable! Anthony Cirelli, passed over in two OHL drafts, gets the OT winner for Oshawa
Cirelli is the 67th ranked North American skater (up from a midterm rank of 88th), according to Central Scouting’s listings. That indicates that he might face an uphill battle as far as managing an NHL career. As you can see, for some players, this is as good as it gets:
Biggest moment of their lives? Of the 8 players that previously scored an OT goal in the #MemorialCup Final, none of them scored an NHL goal
This marks the fifth time Oshawa has claimed a Memorial Cup title, according to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek. He points out that this night serves as a last hurrah for the building in which the game was played, too:
Whatever the future may hold for the players involved in the Memorial Cup (Leon Draisaitl won the tournament MVP, and he obviously has a future with the Edmonton Oilers), it seemed like a special night.
Excluding Stanley Cup Final matchups, Game 7 of the Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks set a record for the highest overnight ratings for the NHL on NBC. The local ratings were also record-setters in the Los Angeles and Chicago markets.
The 3.27 metered market rating also represents a bump up from last year’s Kings – Blackhawks Game 7, which was at 3.17. That’s pretty impressive considering how much more competitive Game 7 of the 2014 WCF was, eh?
The 26.6 HH rating in Chicago is also a new peak for non-Stanley Cup Final games for the Blackhawks, and it’s also the third-best mark overall. (Click here for more ratings bits, as the Ducks set similar marks in Los Angeles, at least for their team.)
Game 7 of the Tampa Bay Lightning – New York Rangers’ Eastern Conference Final wasn’t far behind on NBCSN, generating a 2.65 metered market rating. That’s the second-best ratings for an NHL game on NBCSN outside of SCF games (notice a trend?).
Long story short, those two Game 7 contests were great for NBC, NBCSN and the NHL. Perhaps Blackhawks – Lightning will set some records of its own?
It’s amazing how many people can be offended by a simple, strategically timed emoticon.
Around the time it became quite clear that the Anaheim Ducks would be eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, Duck-turned-Hab Devante Smith-Pelly happened to tweet his thoughts with one anger-inducing smiley face:
Losing on such a big stage in an ugly way obviously stings, but is the situation really that dire for the Anaheim Ducks?
On paper, Anaheim accomplished a lot in 2014-15, yet that’s not how many will depict the situation. Let’s not deny it, either; the optics weren’t pretty in another Game 7 loss.
Sportsnet correspondent Elliotte Friedman describes Boudreau’s relationship with Ducks GM Bob Murray as “strained.” Many fans feel like this is the last straw … and Murray may just end up agreeing.
Here’s the thing though: the Ducks’ future could be incredibly bright, even if you merely look past the situation with Boudreau. Let’s ponder a few reasons why Anaheim may just be primed for bigger and better things.
Key free agents such as Francois Beauchemin and Matt Beleskey are primed to eat up some of that excess, but few contenders are poised to have this much breathing room in the offseason. Could the Ducks gain from other contenders’ salary cap pain?
Their defense is both young and deep
As PHT’s Jason Brough also points out, the Ducks’ defense boasts an enviable array of young, promising defensemen.
Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Simon Despres are all 23. Hampus Lindholm is just 21.
Not many teams would enjoy the luxury of parking a (somewhat?) healthy James Wisniewski in the press box, but the Ducks did that this postseason. This defense could look downright scary in 2015-16.
Their goalies are cheap (and could get better)
The funny thing about the Ducks is that Frederik Andersen might not even be “their guy,” as John Gibson could very well have a brighter future. It’s conceivable that one or both of those netminders will play well in 2015-16.
In a league with big spending on goaltending, Anaheim enjoys the kind of flexibility that other teams can only dream of. Andersen and Gibson combine for about a $1.88 million cap hit next season with one year left on each of their deals. Murray could stick with both or decide to target a more experienced goalie via a trade or free agency.
Either way, it’s a pretty good problem to have, even if goaltending remains a perpetual question mark for the franchise.
Stars close to their primes
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler are all 30 as of this writing. Maybe that isn’t “prime age,” but it’s close … and players like Jakob Silfverberg could make big jumps for all we know.
No doubt about it, this is a big offseason for the Ducks, but they’re in a prime position if you look at the bigger picture.