<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

Roberto Luongo

Under Pressure: Roberto Luongo

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Did you know that 36-year-old Roberto Luongo is now the second-oldest goalie in the NHL?

It’s true. The only one who’s older and still under contract is Minnesota’s 37-year-old Niklas Backstrom.

Luongo, of course, is very much under contract. He’s signed through 2021-22, to one of those front-loaded, back-diving deals they don’t allow anymore.

But you can forget the cap-recapture consequences for now, because Luongo is also coming off an excellent season, one in which he started 61 games for the Panthers and registered a .921 save percentage. Which is to say, he didn’t look like a guy on the verge of retirement.

Coach Gerard Gallant called Luongo “our MVP, our best player most nights.”

If Florida is to take a run at a playoff spot in 2015-16, Luongo will, in all likelihood, need to be just as good. The Panthers’ backup is Al Montoya, the 30-year-old who struggled last season (.892 SV%) and has just 88 NHL starts with four different teams to his name.

And make no mistake, the Panthers have their eyes on a playoff spot. They made a late surge last season after acquiring Jaromir Jagr, only to fall a few points short.

“We went toe-to-toe with everybody this year,” Luongo said at season’s end, per FOX Sports Florida. “The good teams, we played them well and we won some games. It’s just a matter of growing as a team, getting a bit more experience and taking the next step.

“We took a huge step this year, but we fell a little bit short. It’s really a matter of putting it all together next year.”

Oilers deemed to have best group of prospects; Penguins worst

Connor McDavid
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The Edmonton Oilers have the best group of prospects.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the worst.

Those were the findings of ESPN’s Corey Pronman, who ranked the “organizational prospect depth” of all 30 NHL teams and published his analysis today.

“The Oilers have two great defensive prospects in Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart, but the reason for their No. 1 rank is Connor McDavid,” wrote Pronman. “Frankly, remove him and the system is average, as it’s quite thin after the few top names.”

As for the Penguins, Pronman concluded: “There really wasn’t anybody close to Pittsburgh for the 30th spot. This organization is all-in for the next two or three years, and it has more or less burned its system to the ground, through deals of top picks and prospects, to get there.”

Since the article is posted behind a paywall, we’ll give you Pronman’s full list, but you’ll have to pony up for his explanations.

  1. Oilers
  2. Maple Leafs
  3. Sabres
  4. Coyotes
  5. Islanders
  6. Jets
  7. Red Wings
  8. Blue Jackets
  9. Flames
  10. Flyers
  11. Hurricanes
  12. Predators
  13. Blues
  14. Lightning
  15. Canucks
  16. Blackhawks
  17. Canadiens
  18. Bruins
  19. Sharks
  20. Ducks
  21. Capitals
  22. Panthers
  23. Senators
  24. Stars
  25. Avalanche
  26. Devils
  27. Kings
  28. Wild
  29. Rangers
  30. Penguins

Note that Pronman’s “definition for an NHL prospect for the purposes of this ranking is one with 25 or fewer NHL games played this regular season, or 50 total career games.” So, in other words, a player like Aaron Ekblad wouldn’t count, even though he’s only 19.

Related: ‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’

Devils sign Zacha, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft

Pavel Zacha
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The New Jersey Devils have signed forward Pavel Zacha to a three-year entry-level contract with an average annual value $925,000, the club announced today.

Zacha was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft. The 18-year-old from the Czech Republic had 34 points in 37 games last season with OHL Sarnia.

“I think I am physical and I intend to work hard this summer and in training camp and we’ll see if I can play in the NHL next year,” Zacha said after he was drafted, per Sportsnet.

Devils GM Ray Shero said of Zacha that he was “thrilled to have a guy with the size that he has who has the skating ability and a real upside to his game.”

However, Shero did not commit to having the 6-3, 210-pound teenager on the roster next season: “Hopefully, the decision will be apparent to us, but we’ll do what’s best for him in the short and long run and certainly what’s best for the organization.”

Related: Devils’ Zacha to skip Czech’s world junior evaluation camp

Coyotes’ biggest question: Is there a future in Glendale?

PNI Coyotes Deal 0611
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Even Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc “can’t sit here and predict what the future is going to bring.”

Maybe the club works out a long-term deal to play in its current home in Glendale. That would be the team’s preference.

Or, maybe the Coyotes partner up with the NBA’s Suns to get a new arena built in downtown Phoenix.

The other option, of course, is relocation. Perhaps to Seattle. Or possibly Portland.

What’s for sure is that the Coyotes have just two seasons left on their renegotiated agreement with the City of Glendale, so the clock is ticking.

“I do think it works here, but look, it’s only a two-year deal,” LeBlanc conceded to Yahoo Sports. “It would be foolish for us to not listen to expressions of interest of other potential spots in the Valley, but we do believe in Glendale. We always have.”

Speculation that the Coyotes could move into a new downtown arena, along with the Suns, gained momentum during the hockey team’s recent legal spat with the City of Glendale. In June, Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton said that he’d reached out to both the Coyotes and Suns and that “both sides want to engage in conversations.”

Whether or not something will come of that remains to be seen. Even if both sides have an interest, it’s not clear what kind of deal the Coyotes could get as a co-tenant in an arena that’s owned by the City of Phoenix. Safe to say it wouldn’t be quite as fruitful as the one they originally got from Glendale, the one that kept them from moving, before that contract was canceled.

Whatever the Coyotes end up doing, certainty can’t come soon enough for a franchise that’s been in limbo for what seems like forever.

“I would like to see us structure something with the City of Glendale on an extended basis sometime over this next year,” LeBlanc told the Arizona Republic in late July, “because I don’t want to go into free agency next year having (general manager) Don (Maloney) dealing with the same uncertainty he was dealing with this year.”

Poll: Will the Coyotes be the worst team in the NHL next season?

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes
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Arizona GM Don Maloney thinks his Coyotes are “going to be a better team” than the one that finished 29th overall last year.

In fact, he says they’re “entering the season to be a playoff team.”

“I look at our roster and say, ‘OK, we may not have the most pure talent as some of the teams in the West,” Maloney told NHL.com, “but with a great coach and a great game plan and a stable center ice and a better blue line and solid goaltending, we should be able to compete every night, whether it’s the Chicago Blackhawks or the Stanley Cup champions or the bottom of the Western Conference.”

Others look at Arizona’s roster and wonder how anyone can be so optimistic. Shane Doan is 38 now. Sam Gagner and Keith Yandle, their second- and third-leading scorers from last year, are gone. The goaltending remains a big question mark. Besides Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the blue line isn’t overly impressive. Sure, the Coyotes have some excellent prospects in Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Dylan Strome, but their combined NHL experience is practically nil.

At online bookmaker Bovada, the Coyotes are the longest shot on the board to win the Stanley Cup, at 150/1. The Leafs, Sabres, and Hurricanes are next, each at 100/1.

OK, time to vote.

If you don’t think the Coyotes will be the worst team in the NHL, feel free to add your pick below.