Author: Jason Brough

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

‘Hawks deny that Raanta’s remarks kept his name off Cup


From ESPN:

The negative comments Antti Raanta made about the Chicago Blackhawks in a publication were not the reason he was excluded from the team’s 2014-15 season Stanley Cup engravings, a Blackhawks spokesperson said Wednesday.

The Blackhawks submitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame their list of 52 names to be engraved on the Stanley Cup before Raanta’s comments were published, the team spokesperson said. The spokesperson said “there is zero truth” of Raanta being left off because of published comments.

Players are automatically included on the Stanley Cup if they appear in half of the team’s regular-season games or in one Stanley Cup finals game.

If you’re just catching up on this story, click here.

While many felt it was suspicious that Raanta’s name was left off, he did only appear in 14 regular-season games and then wasn’t used at all in the playoffs, as Corey Crawford was backed up by Scott Darling (who, you’ll recall, played almost 300 minutes of the first round).

Of course, as the Sun-Times notes, the Blackhawks “did petition, successfully, to have forwards Daniel Carcillo and Joakim Nordstrom engraved on the Cup, even though they came up just short of the required 41 games.” And while Raanta only played in 14 games during the regular season, he “dressed in more than the required 41.”

So you can decide for yourself if Raanta’s comments kept the ‘Hawks from petitioning on his behalf.

The club will deny it, though.

Which youngsters have impressed you the most this preseason?

Jack Eichel, Jonathan Bernier

Let’s face it, the NHL’s preseason is a relatively inconsequential exercise for most veterans. The majority of them have guaranteed roster spots. All they need to do is shake off the rust and get their timing back.

But for youngsters, it’s a great opportunity to make some noise and prove they belong.

Consider some of the names among the preseason scoring leaders:

Jonathan Drouin, TB — 3G, 2A
Matt Dumba, MIN — 3G, 2A
Jack Eichel, BUF — 2G, 3A
Teemu Pulkkinen, DET — 3G, 2A
Kyle Baun, CHI — 3G, 1A
Anton Slepyshev, EDM — 2G, 2A
Jared McCann, VAN — 2G, 2A
Tyler Bertuzzi, DET — 1G, 3A
Connor McDavid, EDM — 4A
Sam Reinhart, BUF — 4A
Ben Hutton, VAN — 4A
Colton Parayko, STL — 4A
Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI — 3G
Oscar Lindberg, NYR — 2G, 1A
Colin Miller, BOS — 3A
Sam Bennett, CGY — 1G, 2A

Pulkkinen — who just wants a “chance” with the Red Wings — is the oldest of the above, at just 24 years old.

Dumba has the most NHL experience, with just 71 games played.

Though not all of the above will stick with their NHL clubs, they’re definitely making things interesting. (And in certain cases, making it uncomfortable for some bubble vets.)

Have you been impressed with any youngsters in particular? Any surprises? Let us know in the comments section.

Halak (day-to-day) still expected to start Isles opener

Jaroslav Halak
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New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak, defenseman Thomas Hickey and right wing Steve Bernier will miss some time because of injuries.

Halak is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury, Hickey will miss four weeks because of an upper-body injury, and Bernier is expected to miss 1-2 weeks because of a lower-body injury.

The most important player of the three is Halak, the 30-year-old netminder who started 59 and won 38 games last season.

Halak is still expected to be the starter when the Isles open the regular season Oct. 9 versus Chicago, but something to keep an eye on anyway.

The Isles signed Thomas Greiss in the offseason to be their new back up.

Vegas group makes expansion pitch, fields ‘a lot of really good questions’

Hockey Vision Las Vegas Announces NHL Season Ticket Drive

A statement from Bill Foley, the man who hopes to bring an NHL team to Sin City:

“Today, we made a formal presentation to the NHL Executive Committee in New York City as part of our effort to secure an NHL team in Las Vegas. This meeting was the result of successfully completing three previous phases of the expansion application process. We made it to this point because of the passionate fans that helped us secure more than 13,500 season ticket deposits and commitments. As we wait for a final decision, I want to thank the NHL for this opportunity and the season ticket holders who have clearly demonstrated that Vegas Wants Hockey!”

Exciting times, as the exclamation mark shows.

Of course, Foley’s assertion that the market has “clearly demonstrated” that it wants an NHL team is up for debate. When the Jets returned to Winnipeg, season tickets sold out in minutes. The demand wasn’t quite as frenetic in Vegas, a market that even the NHL has conceded is a “unique” one. 

So while many believe that Vegas is a “sure thing” to get an expansion team, it’ll be interesting to see if any of the owners express doubts about the market’s viability — even after taking into account the $500 million expansion fee they stand to divvy up.

“We got asked a lot of really good questions,” Foley told Sportsnet after today’s presentation. “We had the answers to all the questions. Pretty animated. It was interesting.”

Related: Former Canadian PM Mulroney represents Quebec City bid

Central Scouting releases list of ‘players to watch’

Pavel Zacha, Auston Matthews

NHL Central Scouting has identified 24 potential first-round draft picks in its list of “players to watch” this season.

The list is headlined by American forward Auston Matthews, who, of course, has made the decision to play professionally in Switzerland this season.

The other 23 include defenseman Jakob Chychrun, Finnish forwards Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine, and Matthew Tkachuk, son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk

Remember that the 2016 draft lottery will have three draws, for the first, second, and third overall picks, respectively.

The new rules mean that the team that finishes last in the standings could fall to fourth in the order.

That’s different from last season, when the Buffalo Sabres finished last but were guaranteed to draft second. When Edmonton won the lottery for the right to pick Connor McDavid, the Sabres were at least able to get Jack Eichel.

Anyway, here’s the list of 24: