James O'Brien

Justin Peters

Caps expect Peters to be ready for training camp after knee surgery


The Washington Capitals announced that goalie Justin Peters underwent left knee surgery on Monday and should be ready to compete in training camp.

Getting ready by then could be key for the 28-year-old, as you get the impression that he’s the odd man out of the Caps’ goalie rotation. Japers’ Rink postulated back in late June that Philipp Grubauer will back up Braden Holtby instead of Peters in 2015-16:

When the Caps re-signed Philipp Grubauer to a two-year, one-way deal, it was a pretty clear indication that they see him as ready to take on the role of Braden Holtby’s understudy (assuming, of course, that a Holtby deal gets done). For starters, while the Caps still have Justin Peters under contract, it’s clear that they’ve lost faith in him (if they ever had any in the first place) and see Grubauer as a better option to back-up Holtby. But another factor here is that Grubauer would need to clear waivers to be sent to Hershey and he wouldn’t clear, so the Caps’ choice would essentially be keep Grubauer in the NHL or lose him. Not much of a choice, is it?

Indeed, Peters didn’t play well at all during his first season with the Capitals, going 3-6-1 with a putrid .881 save percentage in 12 games. His overall career numbers aren’t anything that will leave GMs all that excited, either, although he showed moderate promise in 2013-14: 7-9-4 but with a .919 save percentage in 21 appearances.

Really, he hasn’t even distinguished himself at the AHL level, for that matter.

Long story short, Peters needs to prove himself with his current contract expiring, even if he may be auditioning as much for other teams as he is for Washington.

Andrew Ladd reminds us: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is back

Andrew Ladd

Last summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge generated a ton of donations – and almost ubiquitous videos, sometimes ones that were very ambitious – for charity.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd tweeted his submission along with the hashtag #EveryAugustUntilACure on Tuesday, reminding hockey fans that the drive is going again in 2015.

He challenged Jonathan Toews, teammate Adam Lowry and TV personality Cabbie Richards to continue the icy promotion in his tweet and clip:

Hey, we can let the your/you’re thing slide just this once, Laddie.

As a bonus, here are a few memorable Ice Bucket Challenge entries from last summer.

Apparently Jonathan Toews already did one, does that exempt him from Ladd’s challenge?

To little surprise, Roberto Luongo’s submission brought some laughs:

Ryan Kesler did his part:

P.K. Subban would take the NHL-version cake:

… If it weren’t for BizNasty:

Yeah, it will require a bucket of creativity to top 2014.

It sounds like Pacioretty’s knee is recovering well

Max Pacioretty, Pk Subban,

Max Pacioretty is renowned for getting injured often yet recovering with seemingly mutant powers, so it’s not too surprising that his injury update is optimistic.

“Wolverine” is doing well when it comes to his knee injury rehab, as the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs reports:

There wasn’t an update regarding Pacioretty sharpening his adamantium claws, however.

Speaking of bad jokes, he appeared in this amusing comedy club video, although fellow Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher fared a little better:

Then again, Gallagher has more experience yapping, so you’d expect him to boast superior comic delivery, right?

Jonathan Quick turned some heads with his effusive praise of Pacioretty, 26, yet the American winger needs to heal up to show how underrated he really is. We’ll still need to wait and see if he’s ready for the start of the 2015-16 season (the prognosis was a three-month recovery back in June), but the early outlook seems promising.

Arizona Coyotes ’15-16 Outlook

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Nick Shore, Mike Smith

We’ve often seen that teams committed to suppressing offense can often survive even with a lack of traditional talent.

The Arizona Coyotes know that well, as their better days with Dave Tippett included a three-year postseason run that culminated with a loss in the 2012 Western Conference Final.

Of course, that feels like quite a while ago now, as the Coyotes have missed three straight postseasons.

As mentioned in an earlier post, GM Don Maloney believes they can “compete every night” thanks to Tippett’s game plan and subtle (perceived?) improvements to their roster.

Let’s not kid ourselves, either: the Coyotes conveniently shed some key players in what certainly seemed like a tanking attempt to outside observers. It might not always be pretty, but Tippett teams can at least grind their way to competence.

Heck, Mike Smith even managed a .934 save percentage in 12 games during the month of March, so a mild turnaround isn’t a totally outrageous thought.

Light at the end of the tunnel

That said, the real reason to look on the bright side comes in the team’s youth movement, a trend powered in part by the spoils of tanking.

While fans can bask in the glory of blossoming star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson right now, things could really ramp up in a few years. ESPN’s Corey Pronman forecasts a very different stylistic future for the franchise while ranking the farm system fourth overall.

The Coyotes have long been an organization known for its emphasis on defense and goaltending, but the Coyotes have built a truly elite foundation of young forwards coming up the pipeline. Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini, Nick Merkley, and Christian Dvorak, among others, give the Coyotes a ton of projected firepower. Today, the team is known as a boring, trap-and-defend-style club. In five years, the Coyotes could be a run-and-gun team.

Co-owner Anthony LeBlanc backed up Pronman’s sentiment to Yahoo, saying that other league executives are “so envious” of the group they’ve amassed.


Long story short, Arizona might be a little pluckier than its 2014-15 record may suggest.

There’s a bright side even if they flop again, though: that would allow them to beef up their already-impressive prospect pool. It’s as close to a win-win situation as this embattled franchise has seen in some time.

Carolina Hurricanes ’15-16 Outlook

Bill Peters

As nice as it would be, you can’t hit the “snooze” button forever.

Even after making Ron Francis their GM, the Carolina Hurricanes basically replicated the same tired results: a mix of disappointing play and injury-fueled “What if?” questions ultimately resulting in a failed playoff bid.

One would think that the 2015-16 season will finally jostle this franchise from its coma … depending upon the choices Francis makes, of course.

Deadlines approaching

The Hurricanes cannot procrastinate much longer with longtime stalwarts Eric Staal and Cam Ward, as both Stanley Cup remnants need new deals as their old, disappointing ones expire. Everyone involved has been saying the right things about keeping the band together, yet one must ask if that’s really the best choice.

It’s not the only challenging call, either. Do you cut bait on concussion-ravaged young forward Jeff Skinner at 23? Would Jordan Staal stand his brother being traded (and is he worth keeping regardless)?

There’s even the question of do you welcome 2015 first-rounder Noah Hanifin into the lineup right away or do you let him get a little extra seasoning?

One thing’s clear: none of these decisions will be as easy as buying out Alexander Semin.

What to expect

Recent history suggests that the Hurricanes could very well be a lottery team once more in 2015-16.

Some of the big names on this roster do sort of rope you in, however. Better things could happen with improved injury luck, contract year motivation and growth from the youngsters. Perhaps the tandem of Ward and Eddie Lack might push each other to stellar years, too?

The smart money seems to pencil Carolina into another failed playoff bid, which would mark seven straight seasons without a postseason.

As painful as that may sound, the most important battles must be won by those wearing suits, not hockey sweaters in the next year or so.