When it comes to the projected rookie class of 2015-16, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel have naturally been getting the most attention by a wide margin, but there are a lot of great prospects that are in position to make their mark on the NHL this season.
Max Domi is a prime example of that. Taken with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Domi has the potential to provide the Arizona Coyotes with a valuable combination of skill and grit for years to come. He has more modest goals right now though.
“I just want to make the team,” Domi said, per the Coyotes’ official website. “I’m not looking too far ahead. There’s a lot of young guys here that are trying to come in and earn a spot too.”
He came close to earning a spot last year, but ultimately fell just short of making the cut. He responded by recording 32 goals, 102 points, and 66 penalty minutes in 57 games with the OHL’s London Knights.
The expectation is that he will make the team in 2015-16 though and even as a rookie perhaps he can provide a meaningful boost to the Coyotes after they finished the 2014-15 campaign with the second worst offense in the league.
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.
Wayne Gretzky knew the late Al Arbour’s Islanders well from their Stanley Cup Final meetings in 1983 and 1984 and Gretzky has nothing but good things to say about him. (Newsday)
Are you surprised by the lack of updates regarding the potential sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Maybe you shouldn’t be. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Here’s a detailed look at Valeri Nichushkin, who is one of the Stars’ bigger X-factors going into the 2015-16 campaign. (Dallas Morning News)
Vladimir Tarasenko’s eventful summer is coming to an end. Next he’ll join his teammates in the daunting task of living up to the high expectations thrust upon them after they’ve endured quick playoff exits in recent years. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Was Tuukka Rask’s workload an issue last season? (Puck Daddy)
Need a pick-me-up? Here are arguments in favor of each Western Conference team winning the Stanley Cup. (USA Today)
Milan Lucic won’t get a chance to play against his former teammates in Boston until Feb. 9, but when that game finally happens, it should be a fun one to watch. If Lucic ends up delivering a big hit in that game, it will get plenty of attention.
The question is who would be the player unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of such a blow? In reality, it will be dictated by circumstances, if it happens at all. While the Boston Bruins decided to part ways with Lucic this summer by shipping him to the Los Angeles Kings, he certainly has no ill will towards the Bruins players. In fact, when pressed on TSN 1040 in Vancouver to pick someone he would want to target, he was reluctant to do so.
Finally he offered up his friend, goaltender Tuukka Rask by jokingly saying that he would “maybe run through him like I did (to) another goalie that I ran into before.”
It seems fair to assume that he was referencing his hit on Ryan Miller back in 2011:
Of course, Miller now plays for the Canucks, giving the fact that he brought it up on a Vancouver radio station another dimension. Lucic, who is from Vancouver, is used to being part of the rivalry between the Bruins and Canucks. Now that he’s no longer part of that, his games against his hometown team might have a different feel to them.
A lot of people have a number they think Connor McDavid will reach during his rookie campaign, but he doesn’t want to go down that road.
“It’s something I don’t really know how to answer,” he admitted when asked by NHL.com what it would take for him to personally consider his rookie campaign a success. “I just have to do the best that I can do. There are no real numbers that I have in my mind. I just want to have as good a year as possible.”
Part of the reason McDavid doesn’t have a specific number in mind is because he thinks imposing those types of goals “can really mess with you.” Beyond that though, he wants to judge himself on more than just how many goals he scores or points he collects.
“Numbers are one thing, but some of the best games I have ever played have been games in which I didn’t get a point or maybe had one point,” McDavid said. “You don’t necessarily have to put up a lot of points to be impactful. There are lots of ways you can impact a game, and that is something I take a lot of pride in, trying to impact the game in any way possible.”
While everything he does with or without the puck is worthy of note, it of course won’t change the fact that the numbers he puts up will influence how other people view his campaign. In some cases the benchmarks people are looking for might be unfair given his age and level of experience, but his billing as a generational talent combined with his stellar work in the OHL have led to that scenario. On top of that, he’ll be compared against Jack Eichel, who will be under similar scrutiny during his first season in Buffalo.
None of that information is likely news to McDavid, who has had to live with the hype surrounding him for quite some time now. He’s aware that the attention he gets is only going to grow as he starts his rookie campaign, but he’s confident in his abilities.
“More anxious to get things going,” he added when asked if he’s nervous about training camp. “I have been talking about it for so long and I have been waiting so long to get going, I don’t think nervous is the right word. Just anxious.”
Losing Patrik Berglund (shoulder) for at least four months is a setback, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock can see how this situation could have been worse.
“You never want to see a guy get hurt,” Hitchcoch said, “but it couldn’t come at a better time because it allows us to have preparation for finding his replacement. It gives us time to look at guys in training camp. We’ve brought in some NHL players to take a look at, bona fide NHL players, so we’ve got lots of time to see how it works.
“If this happens during the season or even during exhibition season, it’s a different story, but we’ve got a lot of time to figure it out and we’re going to get a good player back when we need him the most.”
Scott Gomez will be among those competing for a spot during training camp after inking a professional tryout contract on the same day that the Blues announced Berglund’s injury. This could also be seen as an opening for highly regarded prospect Robby Fabbri, although Hitchcock insists that whether or not he makes the team will be about how Fabbri does rather than the Blues’ situation.
Instead Berglund’s injury might be seen as creating more of an opening for some of the Blues’ more experienced prospects like Ty Rattie, who has spent the last two seasons playing primarily in the AHL.
The timing of Berglund’s injury also means that part of his recovery time will occur while no games of consequence are being played. The flip side to that is that after missing training camp and the early portion of the season, rust might be a factor.