Oilers’ Hall sure seems refreshed by McDavid’s arrival

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Each summer, there are certain stories that just seem to sprout up.

Players who should probably have NHL contracts must consider tryouts instead. Player X thinks his injury rehab is going just swell. A veteran might be in the best shape of his life.

Oh yeah: Taylor Hall hopes the Edmonton Oilers will be more like [insert actual playoff team from the previous year].

Before entering last season, he was hoping they’d be more like the New York Rangers and/or Montreal Canadiens. The latest model may raise a few eyebrows for those deep into the Battle of Alberta: the 23-year-old hopes that the Oilers can ape the 2014-15 Calgary Flames, as TSN’s Mark Masters reports.

“You see how teams like Calgary last year surprise people,” Hall said. “There’s always teams that surprise and we want to be one of those teams.”

Some might sound the broken record on Hall, but perhaps he should get a pardon because this really has been an exciting off-season for Edmonton, a franchise that might finally be “getting it.”

Hall took to the ice for the first time with Connor McDavid on Monday, and Hall said that “I feel like it’s almost my first year again.”

The Oilers also added a respected defenseman in Andrej Sekera, intriguing goalie Cam Talbot and an enviably bright coach in Todd McLellan.

Of course, it’s still important to remember just how optimistic the winger was a year ago, and how familiar the disappointing results felt in 2014-15.

Will he get burned again next season or is there truly light at the end of the tunnel?

My, Adidas: Company will reportedly design NHL jerseys in future

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It sounds like shoe company adidas will design NHL jerseys instead of Reebok in the near future.

The details get a little hazy beyond that, which makes sense, as the league and outfitter didn’t confirm anything to TSN’s Rick Westhead (who broke the news).

Westhead reports that the new deal will kick in during the 2016-17 season, but it might begin in 2017-18 instead, according to Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.

adidas owns Reebok, the current designer of NHL sweaters, so you’d assume it would be a smooth transition. Instead, Westhead reports that there may be some pretty “radical” changes. Here are some of the key ways things might be different:

  • There are no details regarding how it might happen, but this may open the door for advertisements on jerseys.
  • Granted, sweaters already have a key “ad” on them beyond a team logo: the brand name for whoever makes the jersey. It sounds as though adidas may want to implement its iconic three-stripe trademark in some form. Westhead reports that the deal could double the NHL’s takeaway compared to its current agreement, so that would likely dull the sting of controversy over such an implementation for the league.

“If you’re already deciding on a major NHL jersey overhaul, maybe with adidas striping on the jerseys, then it seems like it would be a good time to introduce the ads, if you plan to do it anyway,” a league source told TSN.

  • It sounds as though Connor McDavid will be featured heavily in ads, while Sidney Crosby may transition from his Reebok pitching.

There are plenty of other interesting details in Westhead’s report, so give it a full look.

Please note that this hasn’t been confirmed by the league, even if there were some murmurs dating back to February. Even so, it may be wise to consider upcoming changes if you were originally planning on buying a bunch of sweaters for the holidays.

Side note: PHT isn’t alone in making Run DMC jokes.

Go ahead, listen to the song, you know you want to.

Kings’ biggest question: What about Voynov?

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For the Los Angeles Kings, the optics would be doubly terrible if Slava Voynov were ever to play for them again.

Not only would they be allowing a player who spent time in jail for domestic violence to wear their sweater, they’d be allowing it to happen after terminating the contract of Mike Richards, who while reportedly part of a police investigation has still not been charged with anything.

The difference between Voynov and Richards is that the former is an on-ice asset, with a reasonable contract, while the latter became a liability, with a big cap hit and term to go.

There’s already local media pressure on the Kings to cut ties with the 25-year-old Voynov.

“That he’s a top-four defenseman isn’t reason enough to keep him,” wrote Helene Elliott in the Los Angeles Times. “It’s irrelevant. He doesn’t deserve to wear their uniform and they shouldn’t grant him that privilege.”

If the Kings agree with that sentiment — and assuming Voynov isn’t deported or banned by the NHL — they would seem to have two options. One, they could terminate his contract, a la Richards. Two, they could try and trade him. (“Try” being the operative word there, as any team that would pay a price to get Voynov would also have a significant PR challenge with which to deal.)

All that said, it seems the Kings may opt to keep Voynov. According to LA Kings Insider, “the expectation, based on multiple conversations with those in hockey operations, is that he’ll be a part of the blue line when he recovers from a ruptured Achilles.”

If that’s the case, it’ll be because Voynov is a valuable hockey player and the Kings — despite professing things like, “It’s a privilege to be an NHL player, not a right” — can’t afford to miss the playoffs again, bad PR or not.

Last season, L.A.’s blue line was so thin that Drew Doughty often played more than 30 minutes a night. Since then, the Kings haven’t added anyone; they’ve only lost Andrej Sekera (free agency) and Robyn Regehr (retirement).

Related: Dean Lombardi is under pressure

It’s Los Angeles Kings day at PHT

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

Two consistent contenders – the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings – missed the playoffs last season, and while both underwent changes, they practiced very different philosophies.

The Bruins blew much of what they built up while, to some extent, the Kings are going all-in. It seems fitting that the two franchises can also be linked in the trade that sent Milan Lucic to L.A.

In attempting to assess how rattled the Kings should be by missing the playoffs, it’s key to ask why they fell short.

Plenty of outlets pondered what went wrong, spotlighting Slava Voynov’s legal issues, misplaced money in fading figures such as Dustin Brown and some shaky luck. Let’s not forget that, as dominant as this franchise has been puck possession-wise, they haven’t won a Pacific Division title during this span and often struggled to make the postseason. Maybe they merely need to accept the fact that they’ll frequently deal with a small margin for error?

The West is as rugged as ever, so it won’t be easy, but many will likely peg the Kings as a team that should bounce back to the 2016 postseason.

Off-season recap

The Kings stuck with the architect in GM Dean Lombardi and the director in head coach Darryl Sutter. The cast of characters did change in some significant ways, however.

“Mr. Game 7” Justin Williams helped the Kings win the 2014 Stanley Cup, but now he’s a member of the Washington Capitals, and not at an exorbitant price either.

However the contract-termination grievance situation works out, Mike Richards is gone; Jarret Stoll left as a free agent, yet he’s out of Los Angeles amid controversy as well. Andrej Sekera’s short time with the Kings is already over after he signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s not all about subtractions, though, as the Kings added Milan Lucic to the mix. Lucic and potential linemate Anze Kopitar both enter contract years, so it should be intriguing to see how that motivation propels a top line that may also include Marian Gaborik.

***

The Kings are a fascinating team to forecast, so we’ll get down to business in that regard on Monday.

PHT Morning Skate: Canucks skate back to uniform nostalgia, too

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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.

Honestly, NHL Twitter accounts doing a #NHLMovieNight was a little annoying at times on Thursday as people watched “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” but it did prompt an adorable dog moment that should brighten your day:

Speaking of nostalgia for things from the 90’s, the Vancouver Canucks will embrace one of their most popular old duds, at least for one night:

Check out the letter Andrew Ference sent out after he was snubbed by Central Scouting. It still took him until the eighth round (208th overall in 1997) to get drafted, though.

Ranking all 30 NHL teams by their off-season moves. (Sportsnet)

Why Mike Green could fit in really well with the Detroit Red Wings. (Eye on Hockey)

The Nashville Predators continue to tweak their brand. (Predators)