Author: Mike Halford

Michigan v Boston College

Get to know a draft pick — Zach Werenski


Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Zach Werenski (D)

Height: 6’2 Weight: 206 Shoots: Left

Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)

Country: USA

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 9 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

Along with Boston University’s Jack Eichel and Boston College’s Noah Hanifin, Werenski is part of the “big three” NCAA prospects expected to go high at this year’s draft. But what sets Werenski apart from Eichel and Hanifin is his age — at 17, he was the youngest college hockey player in the country last season (after accelerating his high school course work to graduate a year early.)

Werenski’s freshman campaign was a good one. He led all Wolverines d-men in scoring, with 25 points in 35 games, and was named to both the Big Ten’s first and all-freshman teams.

“He’s had to learn the college game and the quickness, the defensive-zone stuff, our systems and structure, but he was able to continue to play his game and play the right way,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said, per “I’d put him right up there with former Michigan defensemen Jacob Trouba, Mike Komisarek, Jack Johnson and Jeff Jillson.

“They were all first-round picks in the NHL and they all had big-time hockey written all over them just like Zach does.”

Seidel says:

“Werenski decided to play for Berenson at U of M last year and quickly showed scouts why he’s considered a potential franchise defenseman. He has a complete game, accentuated by good size and quick feet — both of which make him a formidable force in the defensive end. As the youngest player to ever play for Berenson, he showed incredible maturity for his age and his ceiling is extremely high.”

NHL comparable: Ryan McDonagh

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Stoll’s felony drug charge reduced to pair of misdemeanors (Updated)

Pittsburgh Penguins v Los Angeles Kings

Just days after being charged with felony drug possession of cocaine, Kings forward Jarret Stoll has seen his charge reduced to two misdemeanors, according to ESPN.


Stoll was arrested April 17 in Las Vegas after attempting to enter the pool area at the MGM Grand.

In addition to cocaine possession, Stoll was also arrested on MDMA possession. However, there was reportedly only mention of the cocaine possession in the complaint filed by Clark County’s district attorney.

The 33-year-old veteran just wrapped the final year of his contract in Los Angeles, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Kings are reportedly unlikely to re-sign him.

Update: Per ESPN, Stoll’s community service will be with the Salvation Army, organizing hockey programs for at-risk youths in the Las Vegas area.

“My focus remains on hockey and I am looking forward to getting back on the ice next season,” he said in a statement. “I am grateful for the chance to offer guidance and share positive life lessons to kids as part of the resolution of this matter.”

Pending UFA Frolik to meet with other teams, Jets say door’s still open

Winnipeg Jets v San Jose Sharks

The window for pending free agents to meet with teams is open, and Michael Frolik has jumped through it.

Per TSN, Frolik has failed to reach a contract extension with the Jets and, given he’s scheduled to become a UFA on July 1, has gone to Florida to start speaking with other teams.

That said, the door isn’t closed on a return to Winnipeg.

“We know Michael very well and he knows us very well,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said, per the Winnipeg Sun. “We’ve had good dialogue with him and his representative. We’ll see how things play out.”

Frolik, 27, played last season on a one-year, $3.3 million contract. He’s been in Winnipeg for each of the last two seasons and has enjoyed good success, first setting a career high in points in 2013-14 (with 42), then matching that total last year.

Frolik also averaged a career-best 17:20 TOI per night last year, playing on both the penalty kill and power play.

As such, it’s no surprise the Jets would like to get him back in the mix. But money issues seem to be standing in the way.

“It’s just a matter of whether there is going to be a fit on the contractual side of things,” Cheveldayoff said. “He’s been with us, he’s part of our family, he knows what we bring to the table, we know what he brings to the table.”

Get to know a draft pick — Mitch Marner

Kitchener Rangers v London Knights

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Mitch Marner (C)

Height: 5’11 Weight: 160 Shoots: Right

Team: London Knights (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 6 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

A diminutive skill guy, at a time when diminutive skill guys are all the rage.

Sure, that might be overstating things a bit, but we did just wrap a Stanley Cup Final in which Patrick Kane (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and Tyler Johnson (5-9, 175) finished tied for the playoff scoring lead. And if you’re looking for offense, look no further than Marner — he finished second in the OHL in scoring this year (126 points in just 63 games), became the fastest 17-year-old in London history to score 40 goals and became the 46th player in franchise history to notch 100 points, joining the likes of Kane, John Tavares and Corey Perry.

“The NHL has changed,” Marner said earlier this month. “It’s not about height. It’s not about cross-checking as hard as you can. It’s not about hooking. All those get you a penalty nowadays. It’s a speed game now. It’s about thinking.

“If you have the brain to play in the NHL, no matter how tall you are, you can play. If you can dodge hits, you can play.”

Seidel says:

“The Kane comparisons are inevitable because both are undersized, offensive machines that had phenomenal careers with London. Marner is a magician with the puck and had the OHL scoring race locked up — until the final day of the season, when Dylan Strome notched six points to snatch the title. Although Marner needs to get stronger, concerns about his size are overstated as he’s shown a willingness to go into the dirty areas to make plays. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that he came into the OHL as a one-dimensional offensive star, only to evolve into a complete player under the tutelage of Dale Hunter. Marner has the potential to become a superstar in the NHL, and shouldn’t drop out of the top-five.”

NHL comparable: Kane/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Report: Soderberg seeking $5M annually on new deal


Sounds like Carl Soderberg is looking to cash in.

Per ESPN, Soderberg’s gunning for a deal that pays $5 million annually when he hits free agency on July 1 — and should he get it, he’d score a pretty sweet raise from his soon-to-be-expired deal (that paid just a shade over $1M per season.)

Soderberg, who turns 30 in October, scored 48 and 44 points in his first two full seasons with the Bruins after spending the early parts of his professional career in the Swedish Hockey League. He emerged as a dependable forward for Claude Julien last year, averaging nearly 17 minutes per night, and proved a fairly solid contributor during Boston’s ’14 playoff run, scoring six points in 12 games.

Last week, B’s GM Don Sweeney admitted re-signing Soderberg was “highly unlikely.” Boston is facing a cap crunch and can ill-afford to get into a bidding war for Soderberg’s services, especially since the club feels it has a cheaper replacement in house in Joonas Kemppainen, a “player of a similar nature” signed out of the Finnish League earlier this offseason.

ESPN reports that seven-to-eight teams are currently interested in Soderberg. He’s also reportedly been tied to Swiss League club HC Lugano, though his agent denied a move back to Europe in mid-April.