James O'Brien

Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows

PHT Morning Skate: Daniel is (barely) still ‘The Shooting Sedin’

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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.

Looking back at Daniel Briere’s legacy as a trailblazer. (The Hockey News)

Let’s check back in on the best UFAs still available, shall we? (NHL.com)

Speaking of the latest on a common theme, let’s take another look at perceived winners, losers and tweeners from the off-season. (NHL Numbers)

Want to kill time on a taxing Tuesday? Try to match these hockey nicknames with their “owners.” (Greatest Hockey Legends)

This one’s a month old, but still relevant: what can the Los Angeles Kings expect from Milan Lucic? (Jewels from the Crown)

Watching the Sedin twins play a game of “H-O-R-S-E” was a little rough at times. In fact, for a while there, it seemed like the moniker of “The Shooting Sedin” might just transfer from Daniel to Henrik Sedin:

Report: Blackhawks’ Danault could miss 3 months after hip surgery

philldangetty
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Chicago Blackhawks prospect Phillip Danault could miss about three months after undergoing hip surgery, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazarus reports.

(Do note that the Blackhawks haven’t confirmed or denied the 22-year-old’s status just yet.)

Danault saw his first bit of NHL action in 2014-15, failing to score a point in two regular season games.

The 26th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft spent the last three seasons with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, where one would assume he’d likely end up for much (if not all) of 2015-16.

Whenever he blossoms, the Blackhawks would like him to remind fans of Marcus Kruger, as CSNChicago.com reported back in July 2014:

“They told me they want me to be a Kruger,” Danault said. “So I’ll try to mold myself after Marcus Kruger.”

The Blackhawks still don’t have Kruger locked up to a new contract, so they might ask Danault to do that impression sooner rather than later. Before that happens, he’d need to have a clean bill of health, of course.

Beleskey wants to get started: ‘I could end the summer right now’

Matt Beleskey
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Hockey fans aren’t the only ones counting down the days until training camp and the start of the regular season.

That moment of anxiety is striking more than a few NHL players in mid-August, and new Boston Bruins forward Matt Beleskey is really feeling it, as he told the team website.

“I could end the summer right now and start camp tomorrow,” Beleskey said. “I’m ready to go. This is always the hardest part of the summer, when you’ve been training and you’re kind of sick of that. I just want to get out there and start playing.”

The five-year, $19 million contract he signed this summer certainly represents an upgrade for the 27-year-old, but it’s not quite on the absurd level that many players have received following hot contract years in the past.

It’s still the kind of deal that will leave many people pleading with him to “prove it,” however, so that must make a summer full of golf and fishing feel a little more restless than usual.

Beleskey also must be a little intrigued about where he’ll end up in the Bruins’ lineup. Do you put him with David Krejci to try to be something of a Milan Lucic fill-in or do you add scoring depth by using Beleskey on the third line?

That’s interesting stuff to ponder, but as we fidget the next two months away, maybe Beleskey can do us a solid and share some more dog photos.

Now that is regular-season form.

(H/T to Rotoworld)

Oilers’ Hall sure seems refreshed by McDavid’s arrival

Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks
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Each summer, there are certain stories that just seem to sprout up.

Players who should probably have NHL contracts must consider tryouts instead. Player X thinks his injury rehab is going just swell. A veteran might be in the best shape of his life.

Oh yeah: Taylor Hall hopes the Edmonton Oilers will be more like [insert actual playoff team from the previous year].

Before entering last season, he was hoping they’d be more like the New York Rangers and/or Montreal Canadiens. The latest model may raise a few eyebrows for those deep into the Battle of Alberta: the 23-year-old hopes that the Oilers can ape the 2014-15 Calgary Flames, as TSN’s Mark Masters reports.

“You see how teams like Calgary last year surprise people,” Hall said. “There’s always teams that surprise and we want to be one of those teams.”

Some might sound the broken record on Hall, but perhaps he should get a pardon because this really has been an exciting off-season for Edmonton, a franchise that might finally be “getting it.”

Hall took to the ice for the first time with Connor McDavid on Monday, and Hall said that “I feel like it’s almost my first year again.”

The Oilers also added a respected defenseman in Andrej Sekera, intriguing goalie Cam Talbot and an enviably bright coach in Todd McLellan.

Of course, it’s still important to remember just how optimistic the winger was a year ago, and how familiar the disappointing results felt in 2014-15.

Will he get burned again next season or is there truly light at the end of the tunnel?

Los Angeles Kings ’15-16 Outlook

Anze Kopitar
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It’s probably safe to say this about the rest of the NHL’s perception of the Los Angeles Kings: they don’t know exactly what to expect, but they’re scared.

After all, this is a two-time Stanley Cup champion team that hasn’t won a division title; opponents know not to disregard them at this point. The Kings have made a strange (and unintentional) habit of following underwhelming regular seasons with blistering playoff runs.

Of course, in 2014-15, they didn’t do enough to even limp into the postseason.

The Kings finished the regular season with 95 standings points, four short of the Winnipeg Jets at the final wild card spot.

That’s not a huge margin, yet it was still a shocking plummet for the defending champs.

GM Dean Lomabrdi seemed to hint that the Kings failed to find that extra gear, but getting a longer-than-expected rest might just have its perks.

“Well, this time there’s no excuse,” Lombardi said to NHL.com. “It’s a marvelous opportunity for our top players to take over that room, and they start by doing that, becoming the best they can be, and I think they will. There’s no doubt in my mind what guys like [Anze] Kopitar and [Jonathan] Quick and [Drew] Doughty stand for, and hopefully this is an awakening. It’s no fun watching the playoffs. In the long run, we could benefit from this.”

Greed could be good

If extra rest isn’t enough, one other thing shouldn’t be overlooked: important players are fighting for more than just pride.

At least a part of Anze Kopitar must see dollar signs when he notes the sort of money Jonathan Toews will pull in starting next season with his own deal just a year from expiring. Kopitar’s $6.8 million cap hit may very well look like a bargain compared to what he’ll start to make in 2016-17.

Milan Lucic is also fighting for a new contract, but he also hopes to restore his reputation as a top power forward in the NHL.

He struggled to score with David Krejci injured, and even if there are plenty of factors at play, it’s difficult to ignore that the Bruins are retaining $2.75 million of his cap hit this season.

Lucic – Kopitar – Marian Gaborik is a frightening combination of size and skill in any scenario, yet it’s downright terrifying with two-thirds of that group in contract years.

***

Few would be brave enough to dismiss the Kings chances of making the playoffs in 2015-16. Could the same be said about anyone doubting their championship hopes, too?

(You can further discuss their window of contention here.)