Author: Mike Halford

Here’s the full 2015-16 NHL schedule, with key dates


Following yesterday’s roll-out of individual teams’ season and home openers, the NHL announced it’s full regular-season schedule on Thursday.


Some key dates to note:

Oct. 7: Opening night. The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will raise their banner prior to an original six matchup against the New York Rangers at the United Center.

Oct. 8: Connor McDavid will make his (likely) NHL debut on the road, as Edmonton will open its campaign in St. Louis.

Oct. 9: New Toronto head coach Mike Babcock will make his Detroit return as the Red Wings host the Leafs at the Joe. Then, the Isles will play their first regular-season game in their new digs, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, against the Blackhawks.

Oct. 24: Tampa Bay will travel to Chicago for the first rematch of this year’s Cup Final.

Jan.1: The Boston Bruins will play host to the Montreal Canadiens in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Jan. 28 to Feb 1: Nashville will host its first-ever NHL All-Star Weekend

Feb. 21: The Minnesota Wild will play host to the Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

Feb. 27: The Colorado Avalanche will make their debut in a regular-season outdoor NHL game when they play host to the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in Denver.

Apr. 9: All 30 teams will play on the final day of the regular season.

Per usual, the NHL will have its annual Christmas break from Dec. 23-25.

It’s official: 3-on-3 OT, coach’s challenges to begin next season


It won’t be drastic, but the NHL will have a decidedly different look next season.

On Wednesday in Las Vegas, the league’s Board of Governors passed motions to implement 3-on-3 overtime in 2015-16, along with coach’s challenges. While mostly a formality, today’s announcement marks a fairly dramatic shift for the NHL as it looks to both lessen the number of games that go to a shootout, and better utilize the replay system on plays involving goalie interference and offsides.

As confirmed during yesterday’s GM meetings, the new overtime rules will see teams play three aside for the entire five-minute overtime session, rather than utilize what the American Hockey League did last season — begin at 4-on-4, before eventually going down to 3-on-3 if there were no goals scored through the first three minutes.

The coach’s challenge, meanwhile, will be somewhat limited in scope during its inaugural campaign. As mentioned above, it can only be utilized on plays that may have potentially been offside, or ones involving goalie interference.

To call a coach’s challenge, the bench boss making in question must still have his timeout available.

For the full breakdown of the rules regarding overtime and coach’s challenges, click here.

Get to know a draft pick — Pavel Zacha

2015 NHL Combine

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.

Pavel Zacha (C)

Height: 6’3 Weight: 210 Shoots: Left

Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Country: Czech Republic

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 8 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

The numbers really tell the story. Zacha’s a big kid (as listed above), that has equal penchants for scoring (34 points in 37 games this year) and the rough stuff (56 PIM, and two suspensions). As far as playing experience goes, his is pretty diverse; in ’13-14, Zacha played for Liberec in the Czech Extraliga — working under the tutelage of longtime NHLer Petr Nedved — and this year, he jumped the pond to play Canadian junior hockey in Sarnia.

Seidel says:

“Zacha’s an interesting prospect — a Czech-born player that possesses a lot of North American traits. He willingly and routinely initiated contact in his rookie OHL campaign but occasionally crossed the line, which resulted in a couple of significant suspensions. Despite that, he showed a team-first mentality the Sting loved. Zacha’s biggest strengths are his skating and ability to beat defenders one-on-one; he has a skill set that’s hard to handle and will become an offensive force as he develops. Like most offensive stars, Zacha still needs to work on his defensive game, but the heady Czech will add that to his repertoire for whichever team selects him.”

NHL comparable: Eric Staal/David Backes

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Preds waive Clune, Stalberg

Viktor Stalberg #25 of the Nashville Predators warms up prior to a game against the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on October 24, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(October 23, 2013 - Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)

The Nashville Predators have placed forwards Rich Clune and Viktor Stalberg on waivers, per TSN.

Both have been subjected to standard waivers, not unconditional — the latter, of course, is the route many NHL clubs take in order to buy a player out of his contract.

As such, it appears Clune and Stalberg are simply there for the taking, should another team be interested. The former, a veteran of 120 career NHL contests, appeared in just one for the Preds last season, spending almost all of the year in AHL Milwaukee.

The latter, signed to a fairly lucrative four-year, $12 million deal in the summer of 2013, also spent time in Milwaukee last season, though part of that was rehabbing from injury. When up with the Preds, Stalberg had decent production — 10 points in 25 games — and was a pretty useful contributor in the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Chicago, finishing with three points in six contests.

That said, Stalberg has been subjected to waivers a few times now, suggesting Preds GM David Poile might not be all that enamored with what the Swedish speedster’s provided since coming aboard.

Babcock’s Detroit return highlights NHL openers

Mike Babcock, Brendan Shanahan

While the full NHL regular-season schedule for 2015-16 won’t be released until tomorrow, teams were able to provide a bit of a tease on Wednesday by announcing their home openers.

And with that, Detroit stole the spotlight.

The Red Wings announced their first game at Joe Louis will be on Friday, Oct. 9 — against Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game promises to be an exciting and emotional affair; Babcock, of course, orchestrated his highly-publicized departure from Detroit last month, ending his 10-year stint in the Motor City to sign a monster eight-year, $50 million deal to coach the Leafs.

Some other openers of note:

• The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will raise their banner on Wednesday, Oct. 7, with an original six matchup against the New York Rangers at the United Center.

• Connor McDavid will make his (likely) NHL debut on the road, as Edmonton will open its campaign in St. Louis on Thursday, Oct. 8.

• The Isles will play their first regular-season game in their new digs, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, on Oct. 9 against Chicago.

• For the second consecutive year, the San Jose Sharks will open at Staples against their in-state rival Los Angeles (on Oct. 7).


Anaheim Ducks: Monday, Oct. 12 vs. Vancouver
Arizona Coyotes: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Pittsburgh
Boston Bruins: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Winnipeg
Buffalo Sabres: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Ottawa
Calgary Flames: Wednesday, Oct. 7 vs. Vancouver
Carolina Hurricanes: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Detroit
Chicago Blackhawks: Wednesday, Oct. 7 vs. NY Rangers
Colorado Avalanche: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Minnesota
Columbus Blue Jackets: Friday, Oct. 9 vs. NY Rangers
Dallas Stars: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Pittsburgh
Detroit Red Wings: Friday, Oct. 9 vs. Toronto
Edmonton Oilers: Thursday, Oct. 15 vs. St. Louis
Florida Panthers: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Philadelphia
Los Angeles Kings: Wednesday, Oct. 7 vs. San Jose
Minnesota Wild: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. St. Louis
Montreal Canadiens: Thursday, Oct. 15 vs. NY Rangers
Nashville Predators: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Carolina
New Jersey Devils: Friday, Oct. 9 vs. Winnipeg
New York Islanders: Friday, Oct. 9 vs. Chicago
New York Rangers: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Columbus
Ottawa Senators: Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Montreal
Philadelphia Flyers: Monday, Oct. 12 vs. Florida
Pittsburgh Penguins: Tuesday, Oct. 13 vs. Montreal
San Jose Sharks: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Anaheim
St. Louis Blues: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Edmonton
Tampa Bay Lightning: Thursday, Oct. 8 vs. Philadelphia
Toronto Maple Leafs: Wednesday, Oct. 7 vs. Montreal
Vancouver Canucks: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Calgary
Washington Capitals: Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. New Jersey
Winnipeg Jets: Friday, Oct. 16 vs. Calgary