The Canadian Press via AP

Undrafted McNiven earns contract with Habs

Michael McNiven’s work with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack last season didn’t lead to him getting drafted, but the Montreal Canadiens gave him a chance to prove himself and his efforts led to him getting a three-year, entry-level contract.

It didn’t get off to a great start as he showed up for Montreal’s development camp overweight, but he managed to address that by losing 10 pounds before the start of the rookie tournament. From there he posted a 47-save performance in a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospects.

“Sometimes, messages are hard to take for some kids. It’s like when they make a mistake, [it’s important to look at] how they react and what they do to get better. They need to understand that we’re there to help them. Michael took that to heart and he did what was asked. Now, he’s seeing that it’s working,” said AHL St. John’s bench boss Sylvain Lefebvre, who served as Montreal’s coach for that rookie game, according to Canadiens.com. “He battled. He made some big saves. He sees the play well.”

From there he got invited to Montreal’s main camp. Obviously the 18-year-old goaltender still has a long road ahead of him, but at least now he’s under the umbrella of an NHL organization.

“It’s a very big day for me and my family. I wasn’t expecting to come out with it, but it definitely came across my mind with the way I pushed myself during the offseason. It’s a great feeling. It’s just a first stepping stone to many more. I’ve just got to keep on going from here on in,” McNiven told the team’s website. “This past summer, I wasn’t selected at the NHL Draft in Florida. It just goes to show that I’ve come a long way with my training and my nutrition, and I came out with the best result I could possibly have. I wasn’t too upset after the draft, and I’m especially not upset right now. I kind of feel like it still hasn’t hit me yet.”

Scroll Down For:

    Ho-Sang embarrassed by demotion

    Getty Images

    Joshua Ho-Sang is a 2014 first round pick that was cut on the first day of training camp because he didn’t set an alarm.

    “I should probably start doing that,” Ho-Sang said, per Newsday.

    Showing up late to the start of training camp is obviously frowned upon, especially if you’re a young player trying to show you are committed to making the team. It’s particularly problematic in his case because it plays into the perception that his attitude is an issue.

    For his part though, Ho-Sang does feel that the Islanders’ decision to cut him was fitting.

    “Obviously a lot more people found out about my mistake than other people’s daily ones, but I definitely take ownership,” Ho-Sang said. “I don’t think there’s anyone to blame . . . it’s embarrassing.”

    At the end of the day, he’s still just 19 years old and has been a prolific scorer in the OHL. His behavior was reportedly great during the rookie camp as well. So perhaps he will take this as a learning experience and go on to have a great career.

    Prior to the 2014 draft, Ho-Sang stated, per the New York Post, “In three years, I’ll be the best player in this draft, and I have no doubt.”

    We’ll see if he lives up to that.

    PHT Morning Skate: Turns out Backes is a decent pitcher


    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.

    David Backes isn’t a bad pitcher…

    Fighting majors were down last season and, as Red Wings GM Ken Holland put it, “one-dimensional players are almost extinct.” (The Associated Press)

    Adam Larsson excelled under former Devils coach Scott Stevens. Fortunately, New Jersey’s coaching change doesn’t appear to have negatively impacted him. (NJ.com)

    Antti Raanta is very upset after a quote that emerged from a newspaper in Finland painted him in a negative light. The quote stated that, frustrated over a diminished role, Raanta hoped that his Chicago Blackhawks would get swept by Nashville. To be fair to Raanta, the interviewer said that quote by itself lacks the necessary context. (New York Post)

    As part of a promotion, Wayne Gretzky organized a game of road hockey with some very surprised fans:

    With the Philadelphia Flyers’ training camp underway, here are some storylines to keep in mind. (CSN Philly)

    USA Hockey confirms John Tortorella will coach World Cup squad

    Getty Images

    It’s official: John Tortorella is Team USA’s head coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    “We’re excited to have John as head coach of our World Cup team,” said Los Angeles Kings and Team USA GM Dean Lombardi, per USA Hockey. “He knows what it takes to win at the highest level and I know that our entire management group looks forward to working with him and his staff.”

    Tortorella has won 446 NHL games — more than any other American coach — and is a Stanley Cup champion. However, he was relieved of his duties with the New York Rangers in 2013 and his attempt to extend his career with the Vancouver Canucks ended disastrously.

    As previously noted though, he does have experience when it comes to representing America in both the Worlds and Olympics. It’s also possible that the World Cup will favor bench bosses that aren’t currently employed by an NHL team, as seems to be the implication after the selection of Tortorella and Ralph Krueger as Team Europe’s head coach.

    At the least, this gives him a stage to show that he can still be an effective bench boss.

    Eichel nets game-winner in preseason debut

    The Canadian Press via AP

    The results of exhibition games have to be taken with a grain of salt, but Buffalo Sabres fans eager to move past two campaigns of hardship got exactly what they wanted from Jack Eichel‘s first preseason contest.

    Eichel set up Matt Moulson‘s goal in the second period and scored a shorthanded marker with 5:44 minutes remaining in regulation time to lead Buffalo to a 3-2 victory over Minnesota.

    “He’s everything that you hear,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said of Eichel, per the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo. “Steady, big, long reach, upright skater. He slows the game down.”

    “(Eichel’s) obviously a pretty special player to make some of the plays he made out there,” Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper said, who lost the shorthanded battle to Eichel.

    As if to emphasize the fact that this was just an exhibition contest, the game didn’t end after three periods despite Buffalo’s lead. The two sides continued the contest in the interest of practicing the new 3-on-3 OT format and Zach Parise scored during that stretch. The official boxscore still gave the win to Buffalo though.