Tag: Anton Stralman

Rick Nash

New York Rangers ’15-16 Outlook


If you’re fascinated by athletes chasing big numbers in contract years, then the New York Rangers have been a go-to source of entertainment in recent years.

It’s difficult (if not nebulous) to try to quantify the impact of “greed is good,” but the Rangers are a hungry team with plenty of motivation in 2015-16. That’s what happens when you mortgage bits of your future via trades and employ some players chasing their next checks.

You never really know how wide open a Stanley Cup window might be.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault saw that in action in Vancouver, as the franchise declined from a huge contender to a bubble team in little time.

We’ve asked more than once if Henrik Lundqist’s elite days are numbered. It’s also worth noting that at 31, Rick Nash is in the middle of that age in which snipers see a slide in production.

The contract year situations aren’t of “uh oh, we better re-sign Henrik Lundqvist/our current captain/Derek Stepan” enormity, but they’re still intriguing.

On defense, you have veteran Keith Yandle and fading graybeard (literally) Dan Boyle. Antti Raanta also enters a pivotal year as an NHL backup.

The forward group might be the most intriguing.

Just look at the pending RFAs alone: Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T Miller and Emerson Etem. There’s some fascinating potential for all four of those players.

Even with Boyle’s $4.5 million cap hit set to expire, salary cap gymnastic may be required once again in the summer of 2016.


Paying players after strong years – and learning to let some of the less essential ones go – has been a pretty rewarding process for the Rangers, even if there’s been the occasional miss (see: Anton Stralman).

Tampa Bay Lightning ’15-16 Outlook

Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat

Tampa Bay’s mantra going into this summer might as well have been “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It certainly seems that was Lightning GM Steve Yzerman’s philosophy as a trip to the Stanley Cup Final has led to a quiet offseason. At the same time, there is still the potential for organic, internal changes.

Forward Jonathan Drouin might find himself playing a bigger role next season after getting limited minutes in 2014-15 and barely participating in the playoffs. He has a ton of offensive upside as illustrated by his back-to-back 100-plus point seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads. If the 20-year-old forward can build off of his 32-point rookie campaign, then he will be complimenting an already deep offensive core.

At the same time, netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy’s rise last season has changed the dynamic of Tampa Bay’s goaltending. While Ben Bishop is still the team’s starter, Vasilevskiy should start pushing him for ice time. The potential is also there for a goaltending controversy should Bishop endure a sustained cold streak.

We might also see defenseman Slater Koekkoek earn a regular spot with the Lightning after playing in three contests with Tampa Bay in 2014-15. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and might become a significant threat with the puck and factor with the man advantage.

For the most part though, the status quo is expected to remain. Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, and Jason Garrison should once again lead Tampa Bay’s blueline. Stamkos remains the centerpiece of the offense while the hope is that the Triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat has another strong campaign.

The Lightning got a lot out of that core last season, which has earned them another chance to pursue a championship together.

Kucherov reportedly travelling with the Lightning to Chicago

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov was on the team’s charter to Chicago on Sunday; however, is availability for Game 6 is still uknown.

The 21-year-old fell awkwardly into the goal post during the first period of Saturday’s Game 5 loss and did not return.

“I don’t have an update on [Kucherov],” Jon Cooper said postgame. “I thought he was going to come back, and then I got word he wasn’t coming back. He’ll be evaluated probably tonight and tomorrow.”

If Kucherov can’t play in Game 6 on Monday night, it would be a big blow to the Bolts’ offense. He has 10 goals and 22 points in 25 playoff games this spring.

“It’s tough to lose a guy like that,” said defenseman Anton Stralman per The Tampa Bay Times. “He’s definitely one of the guys you want on the ice.”

Puck drop on Game 6 is set for 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

‘It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived’

Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman, Marian Hossa

CHICAGO — Those who’ve been watching closely know Victor Hedman’s been among the NHL’s elite defensemen for a little while now.

Those who haven’t been watching closely, well, those people sure know now.

Hedman was brilliant in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks, on center stage in the Stanley Cup Final.

The 24-year-old’s excellence included a mighty assist on the game’s winning goal, when, with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, he picked up the puck at his own blue line, rushed his giant frame through the neutral zone, went wide on Brent Seabrook and used his reach to sling a perfect pass to Cedric Paquette, who directed it into the Chicago net.

“I said to him after the game, ‘How do you find those plays, man?'” said his defensive partner, Anton Stralman. “He’s very optimistic in that way. Likes to join the rush, usually makes really good reads, when to go, when not to go.”

Hedman was drafted second overall in 2009, right after John Tavares. He jumped into the NHL right away, but not with the spectacular results that some rookies have enjoyed.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is the only player on the current roster that was on that 2009-10 team with Hedman.

“It’s tough to come into the league as an 18-year-old defenseman. I think that’s the toughest position to be put in,” said Stamkos. “Especially in the position that we were in. We weren’t a great team. He was getting some minutes against some quality competition, and our team was struggling. He was kind of thrown into the fire. He’s matured as a player, matured as a person. You see the confidence that he has now. He steps up in all big moments.”

“Hedman, what he’s doing, I mean, this is clearly his coming-out party,” added Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper.

On top of the pass that Hedman made on the winning goal, he also set up Ryan Callahan’s first-period rocket past Corey Crawford, on one of the longest bombs you’ll ever see in a hockey game.

“We were pressured in the zone a little bit and trying to calm the play down a little bit,” Hedman explained. “I wasn’t going to give it to him. I saw their d-man fell. Tried to put it there. He made a good catch on his backhand. It was a hell of a shot. That was obviously a big goal. We probably got a little lucky that their d-man went down.”

Perhaps, but there was no luck in the second period when Hedman made arguably an even better pass, sending the puck high off the glass to give Nikita Kucherov a breakaway.

“Words can’t describe the force that he’s been out there for our team,” said Stamkos. “We’ve known how good he is all along.”

“Just the plays he makes, it’s fun to watch,” said Cooper. “He’s really grown into that role. It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived.”

Related: Hanifin feels he has NHL ‘mindset,’ but won’t be ‘mad’ if he goes back to college

Sharp apologetic, takes responsibility for costly third-period penalties

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two

TAMPA — For Patrick Sharp, Saturday was a night to forget.

Or more specifically, a third period to forget.

The veteran forward took two crucial penalties in the final frame of tonight’s Game 2 loss of the Stanley Cup Final, with the second paving the way for Jason Garrison to score the Bolts’ game-winner.

“It was something I don’t think I’ve ever done before,” Sharp said of taking back-to-back penalties. “It happened. You move on from it.

“I take responsibility and apologize to our penalty killers for putting them under such stress.”

Sharp’s first infraction, a slash on Anton Stralman, was called shortly after Marian Hossa got away with interference on Ben Bishop for Chicago’s 3-3 goal early in the third period. While the ‘Hawks were able to kill that one off, they had no such luck with Sharp’s second infraction — a high-stick on Ryan Callahan.

“We were battling and I guess my stick came up and clipped him,” he explained. “I didn’t mean to do it. It happens. I’ll take responsibility.

“It’s tough to put your penalty kill in a situation like that.”

The Garrison goal was Tampa’s first on the power play in this series, after the Bolts went 0-for-2 with the man advantage in Game 1.

Chicago has, for the most part, done a good job of staying out of the box this postseason — averaging the fourth-fewest PIM per game of all 16 teams to make the dance — and that’s probably a good thing; the ‘Hawks are only killing penalties at a 75.9 percent clip in the playoffs, down from 83.4 in the regular season.

As for the legitimacy of his penalties — Stralman did go down somewhat easy on the slashing call — Sharp took the high road, and didn’t go anywhere near criticizing the officials.

“They made the calls,” he said. “I guess I gotta be less careless with my stick. I didn’t think I made too much contact on the first one.”

“But I’m not arguing with the call.”