Patrick Kane

Kitchener Rangers v London Knights

Get to know a draft pick — Mitch Marner

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Mitch Marner (C)

Height: 5’11 Weight: 160 Shoots: Right

Team: London Knights (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 6 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

A diminutive skill guy, at a time when diminutive skill guys are all the rage.

Sure, that might be overstating things a bit, but we did just wrap a Stanley Cup Final in which Patrick Kane (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and Tyler Johnson (5-9, 175) finished tied for the playoff scoring lead. And if you’re looking for offense, look no further than Marner — he finished second in the OHL in scoring this year (126 points in just 63 games), became the fastest 17-year-old in London history to score 40 goals and became the 46th player in franchise history to notch 100 points, joining the likes of Kane, John Tavares and Corey Perry.

“The NHL has changed,” Marner said earlier this month. “It’s not about height. It’s not about cross-checking as hard as you can. It’s not about hooking. All those get you a penalty nowadays. It’s a speed game now. It’s about thinking.

“If you have the brain to play in the NHL, no matter how tall you are, you can play. If you can dodge hits, you can play.”

Seidel says:

“The Kane comparisons are inevitable because both are undersized, offensive machines that had phenomenal careers with London. Marner is a magician with the puck and had the OHL scoring race locked up — until the final day of the season, when Dylan Strome notched six points to snatch the title. Although Marner needs to get stronger, concerns about his size are overstated as he’s shown a willingness to go into the dirty areas to make plays. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that he came into the OHL as a one-dimensional offensive star, only to evolve into a complete player under the tutelage of Dale Hunter. Marner has the potential to become a superstar in the NHL, and shouldn’t drop out of the top-five.”

NHL comparable: Kane/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Toews, Kane featured on NHL 16 cover, set franchise firsts

2015 NHL Awards - Press Room
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For the first time in the history of EA Sports’ NHL series, two teammates and the Stanley Cup will appear on the cover as NHL 16 will feature Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The last time the cover included two athletes was NHL 96, but that one showed Steve Yzerman and Scott Stevens competing against each other.

“Being teamed up with Jonathan for the NHL 16 cover is a great feeling,” Kane said, per EA Sports. “I never would have imagined being on the cover twice, and the fact this is happening on top of our team taking home the Cup is unreal.”

Kane was featured on NHL 10 while Jonathan Toews was the cover athletes a year later. They’re the first players to appear on the worldwide cover twice.

NHL 16 will be out in North America on September 15. You can see the game’s E3 trailer below:

Hudler edges out Datsyuk to win Lady Byng Trophy

2015 NHL Awards - Show
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Jiri Hudler had a career season with 31 goals and 76 points in 78 contests. Along the way he only accumulated 14 penalty minutes and that helped him secure this year’s Lady Byng Trophy.

Among the top-20 scorers, he had the fewest PIM. Pavel Datsyuk, who has won this award four times, was a close second though with 648 votes to Hudler’s 700. There was a big drop off after that as Anze Kopitar just got 379 points. Hudler’s teammate, Sean Monahan, was the only player outside of the top three with at least 10 first-place votes (13).

Here are the voting results for the award, cutting off at the top 10:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Jiri Hudler, CGY 700 (52-13-12-8-5)
2. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 648 (29-28-24-10-12)
3. Anze Kopitar, LAK 379 (11-18-20-13-4)
4. Daniel Sedin, VAN 267 (6-10-15-18-8)
5. Sean Monahan, CGY 232 (13-5-8-7-6)
6. Jason Pominville, MIN 205 (8-10-7-5-5)
7. Matt Moulson, BUF 150 (4-8-6-6-6)
8. Logan Couture, SJS 148 (3-6-2-16-18)
9. Ryan O’Reilly, COL 139 (2-8-7-6-10)
10. Patrick Kane, CHI 130 (3-4-8-8-8)

Here’s a list of the Lady Byng Trophy winners and second-place finishers since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up

2015 Jiri Hudler, Cgy. Pavel Datsyuk, Det.
2014 Ryan O’Reilly, Col. Martin St. Louis, NYR
2013 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Patrick Kane, Chi.
2012 Brian Campbell, Fla. Jordan Eberle, Edm.
2011 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2010 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Brad Richards, Dal.
2009 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2008 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2007 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2006 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Brad Richards, T.B.
2004 Brad Richards, T.B. Daniel Alfredsson, Ott.
2003 Alex. Mogilny, Tor. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2002 Ron Francis, Car. Joe Sakic, Col.
2001 Joe Sakic, Col. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2000 Pavol Demitra, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Wayne Gretzky, NYR Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Ron Francis, Pit. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1997 Paul Kariya, Ana. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1996 Paul Kariya, Ana. Adam Oates, Bos.
1995 Ron Francis, Pit. Adam Oates, Bos.
1994 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Adam Oates, Bos.
1993 Pierre Turgeon, NYI Adam Oates, Bos.
1992 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Joe Sakic, Que.
1991 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Brett Hull, St.L
1990 Brett Hull, St.L Wayne Gretzky, L.A.

Can Jack Eichel become the first American ‘generational’ hockey talent?

150625-Jack-Eichel
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The word “generational” has been thrown around a lot this year in the hockey world.

Both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel have had their names attached to the label.

As in, these are generational talents we’re talking about here.

As in, it’s no coincidence that tanking became a hot topic in 2014-15.

McDavid — like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, and most of the other greatest hockey players of all time — is Canadian.

Eichel is American.

There has never been a generational hockey talent that was born and raised in the United States.

Oh, there have been some great American hockey players. Hall of Famers like Mike Modano, Chris Chelios, Joe Mullen, Brian Leetch and Pat LaFontaine. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is on track for induction.

But none were, or are, head and shoulders above the rest. Case in point, an American-born, American-bred player has never won the Hart Trophy, an award Gretzky received nine times.

Can Eichel become the first?

The fact people are even asking such questions is proof of the hype, which is perhaps unfair to an 18-year-old. While nobody’s demanding that Eichel do for the NHL what Michael Jordan did for the NBA or Tiger Woods for golf, it’s certainly been said before that, for hockey to really thrive in the United States, there needs to be an American Gretzky.

By the way, “American Gretzky” is what Brian Lawton’s agent once predicted his client would become.

Lawton, the first U.S.-born player to be drafted first overall, did not become American Gretzky. Not even close.

When asked in April how he handles the weight of expectations, Eichel told PHT: “To be honest, I try to block out everyone else’s opinions.”

And while he admits that’s easier said than done in the age of social media, he knows it’s part of the deal for today’s star athletes.

“You never know what somebody’s opinion’s going to be, whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s so many people in the world whose opinions I do care for, but there’s more that I don’t care for. I’m worried what the people close to me think of me, and what my teammates think of me.”

Besides, he puts enough pressure on himself. He doesn’t need Twitter’s help.

“I think the one guy that needs to put less pressure on himself is probably myself,” he said. “I’m always pushing myself to get better. I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself, and I think sometimes it’s too much.”

Eichel conceded that may have been the case at this year’s World Juniors, where he had just one goal and three assists for an American squad that lost in the quarterfinals. In stark contrast, McDavid had three goals and eight assists for gold medal-winning Canada.

“It’s a pressure situation up there,” Eichel said of the tournament that was co-hosted by Toronto and Montreal. “There was a lot going on at that time, and I really wanted to help our team be successful. It was a good experience for me, going up there and dealing with the things that I dealt with. I definitely learned a lot from it.”

The reviews of his game were far better at the World Championships, where he helped the Americans to a surprising bronze medal. Eichel finished with two goals and five assists in 10 games, playing with and against top professionals.

Friday in Florida, Eichel will be selected second overall by the Buffalo Sabres, right after McDavid goes first to the Edmonton Oilers.

Maybe Eichel will go on to become the greatest American hockey player of all time.

Maybe he’ll be a bust.

But Friday is where his NHL story will officially start, with great expectations.

Toews admits Chicago’s cap crunch feels ‘a lot like 2010’

Chicago Blackhawks Victory Parade And Rally
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Much like in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks are celebrating a triumphant Stanley Cup win. The unfortunate similarity seems to be that, with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane getting raises, key supporting cast members are likely out.

With the salary cap ceiling officially set at $71.4 million, that reality is even setting in for Toews, who shared this sobering comment during media availability heading into the 2015 NHL Awards.

“All of a sudden, it does feel a lot like 2010, where it’s imminent,” Toews said, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a way, it’s a metaphorical hangover from a Stanley Cup celebration … although Toews & Co. might still be recovering from (and creating new) literal ones.

As of this moment, General Fanager pegs Chicago’s cap space at about $7.35 million. That figure includes eight forwards, three defensemen and three goalies (Chicago has some breathing room with Scott Darling’s 2015-16 season being two-way). It also doesn’t include free agent concerns, which is certainly relevant with UFAs such as Johnny Oduya and RFAs including standout Brandon Saad.

Indeed, looking at this situation, it’s easy to see parallels from that first Toews-Kane-era Cup win, when the Blackhawks let Antti Niemi go following arbitration while being forced to trade away the likes of Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

Those losses hurt as the Blackhawks limped into the 2011 postseason, yet they obviously bounced back.

In case you’re wondering, GM Stan Bowman is currently gauging the value of trade pieces such as Patrick Sharp, as ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports.

LeBrun notes that Chicago would be willing to take salary back in potential moves, though only to a certain extent. Getting something done fast would grease the wheels, too:

What is preferable for the Blackhawks, however, is to make the deal happen before the draft, in a perfect world. That way they could recoup a draft pick, which is key given what they gave up from this year’s draft for Antoine Vermette (a first-round pick, 30th overall) and Kimmo Timonen (second-round pick, 61st overall). Mind you, the Blackhawks do have the 54th-overall selection, a compensatory pick for not signing 2010 pick Kevin Hayes.

In other words, it’s wise for Toews to realize that times are changing … because some big moves could be coming as soon as this week.

Here’s video from the Chicago-Sun Times: