Author: Ryan Dadoun

Phil Kessel
AP Photo

Oddsmaker: Crosby favorite for Hart, Kessel high on Rocket Richard list


It seems online bookmaker Bovada is a big believer in the idea that Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel are going to make for a great duo. That’s at least one way of interpreting their new odds for the 2015-16 award winners.

Crosby stands out from the crowd as the favorite to win both the Hart Trophy (7/2) and Art Ross Trophy (3/2) after he fell short of both of those honors for the 2014-15 campaign. However, his projected linemate was given very favorable odds as well.

Kessel was tied with Steven Stamkos for the fourth best odds to win the Art Ross Trophy (17/2) and was third (8/1) after only Alex Ovechkin and Stamkos (5/2 each) in the Rocket Richard race. With the exception of 2014-15, when Kessel struggled along with the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he has been a consistently great sniper for a while now. Kessel has never scored more than 37 goals in a single campaign, but he also hasn’t had a center like Crosby to work with until now.

It’s worth noting that teammate Evgeni Malkin was given 20/1 odds for either of the Art Ross and Richard Trophies, although he does have 15/1 odds for the Hart while Kessel wasn’t on that list at all.

When it comes to the Calder Trophy, it’s expected to be a battle between Connor McDavid (4/7) and Jack Eichel (4/1), with McDavid being the clear favorite. Sam Bennett (7/1), Sam Reinhart (9/1), and Max Domi (12/1) round out the top-five.

While Price isn’t the favorite to repeat as the Hart Trophy winner (10/1), he is projected to win his second straight Vezina (7/2), although Henrik Lundqvist isn’t far behind in the odds (9/2).

Drew Doughty (7/2) is the favorite to win the Norris over the last three winners; Erik Karlsson (4/1), P.K. Subban (9/2), and Duncan Keith (13/2).

Bettman: No timetable or guarantee of expansion

Gary Bettman
AP Photo

After three phases of due diligence the NHL isn’t ready to put a timetable on the expansion process or guarantee that the league will add teams at all.

That was the major takeaway from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s press conference following the executive committee’s meeting with Quebecor and Bill Foley to discuss their bids to bring the NHL to Quebec City and Las Vegas respectively.

“We have work to do,” Bettman said. “The committee is going to have to get together at least one time, if not more, and ultimately begin deliberations. There are a lot of issues and questions that are going to have to be answered before any decision can be made.”

He countered the idea that the NHL is shooting for the new teams to debut in 2017, insisting instead that simply represents the earliest possible date for expansion. He did confirm though that the expansion fee would “start with a five,” as in at least $500 million.

Bettman also met with the Board of Governors this afternoon and Avery Schenfeld, who is a chief economist at CIBC, talked to them about the Canadian Dollar, which currently sits at about 74.5 cents American. Schenfeld advised them that people making predictions about what the dollar will do “make weatherman look good.”

Is the weakened Canadian dollar ultimately concern when it comes to the league as a whole or the Quebec City bid though?

“It’s the reality that we live with,” Bettman said. “In my two-decades-plus of doing this, I’ve seen the Canadian dollar lower and I’ve seen it over par. So it’s just something we deal with and the system takes account for it. It’s not something that people are concerned about on a daily basis.”

It’s worth adding that in order for the league to expand, three-quarters of the Board of Governors would have to approve the move. So if the executive committee is split when it comes to making a recommendation, then it’s unlikely that the board would vote to expand.

On another subject, Bettman touched on 3-on-3 overtime. Based on the preseason games thus far, 77% of overtime periods have resulted in a goal and the average end time is 2:49 minutes into OT.

You can listen to the full audio of the press conference here.


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

Quebec City’s NHL bid has a former Canadian prime minister on its side

Bruins cut goalies McIntyre, Subban from camp roster

Malcolm Subban
AP Photo

The Bruins’ goaltending picture is beginning to clear, although the matter is far from resolved.

Boston announced that goaltenders Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban have been reassigned to AHL Providence, ending their individual campaigns to secure Boston’s number two slot behind Tuukka Rask.

While neither goaltender was the favorite to win the backup job, either one would have been an intriguing choice. Subban, 21, is a former first round pick (24th overall, 2012) and has two strong seasons in the AHL under his belt. McIntyre, 23, is just starting his pro career, but he was the 2015 Richter Award winner as the NCAA’s top goaltender for his work with the University of North Dakota.

It’s likely though that the Bruins felt their development would have been better served splitting the goaltending duties in the minors rather than spending most games warming the bench in the NHL.

With both of them off of the training camp roster, the battle for the number two spot is between Jeremy Smith and Jonas Gustavsson. Smith, 26, posted a 2.05 GAA and .933 save percentage in 39 AHL contests last season. Gustavsson, who has been attending the Bruins’ camp on a tryout basis, has the edge in experience though with 148 NHL games under his belt.

PHT Morning Skate: Price, P.K. Subban have lighthearted sparring match

P.K. Subban, Carey Price
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Carey Price and P.K. Subban decided to engage in a playful fight during a Montreal Canadiens practice:

There are plenty of good rookies set to make the leap in 2015 outside of Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid. Here’s 10 of them. (USA Today)

Will Alex Ovechkin lead T.J. Oshie to new heights? (Puck Daddy)

The 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks’ names are on the Cup:

Ryan Stanton is in the hunt for Washington’s seventh defensive spot. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

The New York Rangers’ opening game picture is starting to come into focus. (The Record)

Video: Maurice seems unhappy with Yeo using top players late in blowout

Paul Maurice
The Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets struggled on the ice tonight, but head coach Paul Maurice’s dry wit was a cut above.

After suffering an 8-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild tonight, Maurice seemed to disapprove of Wild coach Mike Yeo’s decision to put out his top players in a preseason game that had already been decided.

“You get in those games, and they’re going to keep putting out good players,” Maurice said. “Like when they got an 8-1 lead. They got a power play. The best is coming out. In an exhibition game.”

He was deadpanned in his delivery, which prompted a reporter to ask Maurice if his initial comment should be taken as a sign that he’s frustrated with Yeo.

“No, no, I thought it was just an honor to be in the same building with him tonight,” Maurice replied.

You can watch it for yourself below:

The silver lining in all of this for Winnipeg is that, of course, the game didn’t count.