Even Victor Hedman agrees: we saw the towering Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman at his “peak” during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
It’s one thing for teammate Steven Stamkos to pump his tires, which he did by calling him “an absolute beast” and wagering that the Swede will be the next Norris Trophy winner.
(“No pressure,” Stamkos joked to the Tampa Bay Times.)
It’s another for an all-time great with no affiliation – aside from being a fellow countryman – to sing Hedman’s praises, as Nicklas Lidstrom also did to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I think he has those qualities to win it,” Lidstrom said. ” …It’ll be the next step in his career to play at a high level consistently.”
Let’s face it; to some extent, these awards can boil down to popularity contests.
Erik Karlsson seems to indicate that part of Hedman’s rise comes from increased awareness alone, as he believes Hedman “has always been there.”
If the past postseason really stands as the crescendo of Hedman’s career, then he’ll need to hold that note a little longer to get an individual trophy for his troubles.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ roster is shaping up as the season approaches, and it sounds like Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl will be able to suit up.
That’s the word from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi, yet things get more interesting from there.
Perhaps it’s not that much of a shock, but Carchidi also believes that Sam Gagner will be watching Thursday’s season-opening contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning from the press box.
One other intriguing question: what about Scott Laughton? At the moment, it appears as if he’s sticking with the Flyers.
CSNPhilly.com points out that Laughton might make things a bit of a crowd at center, yet his gains might be too much to ignore.
“He’s consistently added a little bit of pace and he has battled hard,” Dave Hakstol said. “There’s little areas of the game where he has to complete some things. But his compete level is good.”
What alignment gives the Flyers the best chance to compete?
The nice thing about the Buffalo Sabres’ busy off-season is that the pressure is spread around pretty fairly … except maybe for Robin Lehner.
Big development gains can happen, of course, but the Sabres’ defense looks pretty shaky on paper.
Maybe they won’t be “historically inept” like last season, yet the smart money is on Lehner getting tested early and often. He’ll need to steel his nerves to the challenge.
Apparently he may also have to learn to shake off the abrasiveness of fans during tougher nights.
Lehner had a tough night on Friday, to the point that fans reacted with mock praise of a save, aka “the Bronx cheer.”
To his credit, Lehner admitted that it wasn’t a strong performance, as he gave up five goals through two periods before Buffalo made the score more respectable.
(Columbus beat the Sabres 6-4 by ending with an empty-netter.)
If any management group believes in Lehner, it’s GM Tim Murray, who watched the netminder during his assistant general manager days in Ottawa.
That doesn’t mean that Sabres fans will give him the same welcome.
Ray Shero’s familiarity with Tyler Kennedy from their Pittsburgh Penguins days only went so far, as the New Jersey Devils released him from his PTO on Friday.
Kennedy was with the Penguins from 2007-08 to 2012-13, yet he’s starting to become something of a journeyman.
(Although he probably feels more like a pinball.)
During his time in Pittsburgh, he sporadically put up nice possession stats, though one wonders how much that had to do with Jordan Staal.
It could be that he’s struggling to find a niche, as he might not be adept enough at any one facet of the game to really make himself marketable. His agent will once again have his work cut out for him.
At 29, one would think he’d get a shot somewhere, although Kennedy might have to accept more reps in the AHL than he would prefer.
Slava Voynov might play professional hockey in 2015-16, just not in the NHL.
The self-departed former Los Angeles Kings defenseman is planning on playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to Sports Express’ Igor Eronko plus the Associated Press and ESPN.
Voynov announced his decision to leave the Kings for Russia back on Sept. 16, prompting the Kings to claim that he essentially would not have been welcomed back.
He served some jail time for domestic violence-related charges and was temporarily detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs.
His KHL rights belong to Traktor Chelyabinsk, but they will reportedly be transferred to SKA St. Petersburg. Every indication is that the Kings still hold his NHL rights, for whatever that may be worth.