Alfredsson, Lidstrom, Sundin join Sweden’s World Cup advisory board

Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson, and Mats Sundin played for Sweden in the 1996 and 2004 World Cups. Now that the event is returning for 2016, they will also be back; only this time it won’t be as players.

All three have been selected to join Sweden’s advisory board, per NHL.com. They represent the three highest scoring Swedish-born players in NHL history. They also all served as a team captain in the NHL and led their nation to an Olympic gold in 2006. In the process, Lidstrom became a member of the Triple Gold club as he’s earned a gold medal in the World Championship (1991) and has won the Stanley Cup four times.

In addition to naming those three hockey greats to advisory roles, Rikard Gronborg was also selected as the bench boss. Gronborg was an assistant coach with Sweden during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“It is with a great deal of pride and humility that I accept this fantastic coaching opportunity within Swedish ice hockey,” Gronborg said. “Since I grew up during the Canada Cup era back in the 70’s and 80’s, when, for the first time in modern history, the greatest players in the world represented their respective nations. Therefore this will be a great honor for me personally to coach Sweden at the World Cup. I am also looking forward to work with some of the best and most respected hockey personalities that Sweden has to offer.”

Johan Garpenlov and Peter Popovic are the team’s assistant coaches for the World Cup.

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    Vancouver inks journeyman Adam Cracknell


    The Vancouver Canucks added some depth up front by inking forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year, two-way contract, according to TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie. The deal is reportedly worth $575,000 annually at the NHL level.

    Cracknell, 30, wasn’t selected until the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and he’s had to claw his way up the ranks from there. The Calgary Flames were the team that originally possessed his rights, but after opting against presenting him with a qualifying offer in 2009, he joined the St. Louis Blues and made his NHL debut on Dec. 15, 2010. Since then he’s bounced between the minors and the NHL.

    Going into the 2015-16 campaign, he has six goals and 17 points in 82 career games with St. Louis and Columbus. He had an assist in 17 contests last season.

    He also recorded 10 goals and 20 points in 40 AHL games with the Springfield Falcons and Chicago Wolves in 2014-15.

    Canadiens add Craig Ramsay as coaching consultant

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    Craig Ramsay has spent roughly four decades of his life working for NHL clubs and he’ll be taking that experience to the Montreal Canadiens as a coaching consultant.

    “(Ramsay) has an impressive hockey background, having worked as an NHL coach for over 20 years, following a playing career that included over 1,000 games played. On a consulting basis, he will be called upon regularly during the season to share his knowledge with our coaching group. Our players will also benefit from his expertise,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, per the team’s website.

    Ramsay spent his entire playing career with the Buffalo Sabres and has been an assistant coach with seven organizations. He also has a 66-71-7-12 record as a bench boss over his stints with the Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, and Atlanta Thrashers.

    He won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 while working under John Tortorella. Prior to accepting his new role with Montreal, he spent the 2014-15 campaign as a member of the Edmonton Oilers’ coaching staff.

    New Jersey Devils ’15-16 Outlook


    The New Jersey Devils have finished in the bottom-five in scoring for three straight campaigns and once again their offense is a big area of concern.

    No New Jersey player reached the 50-point mark last season and only two (Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri) recorded at least 40 points. Acquiring forward Kyle Palmieri in a trade with Anaheim over the summer does help matters, but offensively the Devils look like a long-term project that has only barely begun. Years from now, perhaps Pavel Zacha, who was taken with the sixth overall pick, will be a serious scoring threat, but for now New Jersey doesn’t have much in the way of young, NHL-ready forwards.

    Stefan Matteau might establish himself as an NHL regular at the age of 21, but the 2012 first-round pick has never been a major contributor offensively. There’s always the chance that Henrique, 25, will take a step forward, but his career-high remains 51 points from his rookie season when he was working with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. There’s clearly no one at that level for him to play off of at this time.

    The good news is that the Devils’ situation looks less bleak when you move past their offense as in contrast, the blueline’s rebuild seems to be moving along nicely. Adam Larsson took a significant step forward last season and the hope is that he’ll lead the charge along with Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, and Damon Severson. The oldest of them, Gelinas, only celebrated his 24th birthday in May.

    Then of course there’s their goaltending, which is in the capable hands of Cory Schneider. He demonstrated last season under trying circumstances that the Devils’ goalie situation remains their strength, even in the post-Martin Brodeur era.

    Taking it all in, New Jersey isn’t without its strengths and upside, but until the Devils get to the point where they’re at least passable offensively, it will be difficult for them to make a serious run at a playoff spot.

    It’s New Jersey Devils day at PHT


    Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New Jersey Devils.

    The New Jersey Devils’ 2014-15 story is simple in that they were a team that couldn’t score often and therefore didn’t win often.

    They did net six goals against the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener and scored five times against Florida in their next game. After that though, they were credited with just 170 goals for over their final 80 contests.

    The tragedy of it was that they wasted a great season from goaltender Cory Schneider. At the age of 28 (he turned 29 in March), Schneider finally entered a campaign as the undisputed number one goaltender and went on to post a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage in 69 contests. However, despite having the league’s ninth best GAA and fifth best save percentage, he finished in a three-way tie for 19th in terms of wins (26).

    The Devils’ struggles led to Peter DeBoer’s dismal as head coach on Dec. 26 and he was replaced by co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens. The silver lining there is that 22-year-old defenseman Adam Larsson worked well under Stevens, leading to him breaking out after years of trying to find his way with the Devils. His rise helped accent the Devils’ promising young blueline, which also features Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson, and Jon Merrill.

    Those defensemen provided the Devils with hope for the future, but the 2014-15 campaign itself was a disappointment as New Jersey finished with a 32-36-14 record.

    Off-season recap

    The Devils acquired forward Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2015 second-round pick and a 2016 third-round selection. They also added a player they hope will someday help solve their offensive woes when they took Pavel Zacha with the sixth overall pick in the draft.

    Beyond that, New Jersey’s on-ice personnel might be similar this season, but the Devils have undergone a massive overhaul behind the scenes. The NHL’s longest-serving general manager, Lou Lamoriello, passed the torch to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero in May. While the original plan was for Lamoriello to remain with the Devils by retaining his other title as the team’s president, he ultimately decided to leave to become the Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager.

    Meanwhile, Shero brought in John Hynes to serve as the new bench boss. Hynes previously worked with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, making him a familiar face to Shero. The new general manager also laid out the Devils’ three principles going forward: Fast, attacking, and supportive.

    So while the Devils haven’t made many signings or trades this summer, a new era has begun.