Tag: Sidney Crosby

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Poll: Are the Lightning the favorites to win the Stanley Cup?


Standing still can be better than the alternative. While any improvement the Tampa Bay Lightning see will have to come from within after their quiet summer, they also haven’t endured any major losses.

Chicago was the oddsmaker’s favorites to repeat in mid-June, but since then the Blackhawks have parted ways with Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, and Johnny Oduya. To be fair, Chicago has also gotten some noteworthy additions like Artem Anisimov and they have some promising youngsters that might help fill the gaps like Artemy Panarin and Marko Dano.

Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the Blackhawks have made some considerable sacrifices this summer in the name of cap compliance and that’s without talking about the elephant in the room.

Tampa Bay finished two wins shy of Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final, so has the uncertainty created by Chicago’s turnover at least made the Blackhawks not quite as good of a bet as the Lightning?

Of course, even if you’re inclined to say that Tampa Bay is now in a better position than Chicago, that’s not the end of the debate. The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have strong teams led by elite goaltenders and either one is capable of having a standout season. Then there’s the Anaheim Ducks, which came closer to eliminating Chicago than Tampa Bay and the St. Louis Blues, which has fielded a great team for years, but hasn’t been able to put it all together once the playoffs start — yet.

You could bet on a Los Angeles Kings comeback or the Pittsburgh Penguins’ overwhelming squads with Phil Kessel joining Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Even then we haven’t covered all the teams that can legitimately claim to be serious contenders going into the season.

But this isn’t about who could win the Cup, it’s who has the best chance of doing so, even if it is by a narrow margin in a large field. Is Tampa Bay that team?

Edmonton Oilers ’15-16 Outlook

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

With Connor McDavid in the fold there’s a renewed sense of optimism in Edmonton, and rightfully so. The 18-year-old is the best player to come out of the NHL Draft since Sidney Crosby did in 2005.

McDavid finished last season with 44 goals and 120 points while appearing 47 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. He added 21 goals and 49 points in 20 playoff games. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center won both the OHL and CHL player of the year.

Oilers’ GM Peter Chiarelli knows there’ll bumps in the road for his star forward as he adjusts to the NHL game.

“He does have some challenges that he’ll have to meet as any good, young, elite prospect will have,” said Chiarelli. “It’s a strong game, strong players and they lean on you. He’s smart, he’ll figure that out, but he’s going to have some learning curves.”

Front office shakeup

Former Hockey Canada boss Bob Nicholson is now in charge, and has left his mark on the organization in the few months since taking over as the Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group.

Chiarelli along with head coach Todd McLellan represent a new era in Edmonton. Nicholson has since re-assigned Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe.

Joining McLellan behind the bench are three new assistant coaches in Jay Woodcroft, Jim Johnson and Ian Herbers.

As Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur said in April, “They’re not the same old Oilers, and that’s a start.”

What to expect

Despite addressing issues in goal (Cam Talbot) and making additions to the blue line (Griffin Reinhart, Eric Gryba and Andrej Sekera), the Edmonton Oilers chances of ending their nine-year playoff drought are slim at best.

Given the Oilers play in the Pacific Division with the likes of the Anaheim Ducks, L.A. Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, making the playoffs is this season is unrealistic.

The Oilers have not reached the 30 win mark in a season since 2011-12 (32) and should see an improvement on their 24-44-14 record from last season.

Related: Oilers’ biggest question: What about the blue line?

Looking to make the leap: Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid

Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Connor McDavid will have a prominent spot on the Edmonton Oilers’ opening night roster.

Not since Sidney Crosby has the anticipation been so great for a teenager to make the leap to the NHL.

With scoring in the NHL down, McDavid will be in tough to reach the 102-point mark Crosby notched during his rookie campaign, but McDavid is fully aware of the pressures on his shoulders.

“My expectations for myself exceed any of those that are put on me,” said McDavid following the draft. “It’s something that I can’t really worry about. I’ve just got to make sure I’m playing my game and doing all that because if I meet my expectations the chances are I’ll meet your guys’ as well.”

Following what was likely his final season of junior hockey with the Erie Otters, McDavid was named the OHL and CHL player of the year for his 44-goal, 120-point season.

The 18-year-old then led the OHL in post-season scoring adding 21 goals and 49 points in 20 games.

Despite the accolades, GM Peter Chiarelli knows there’ll be growing pains with McDavid.

“He does have some challenges that he’ll have to meet as any good, young, elite prospect will have,” said Chiarelli at the draft. “It’s a strong game, strong players and they lean on you. He’s smart, he’ll figure that out, but he’s going to have some learning curves.”

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center understands in order to make the leap smoother a solid offseason in the gym is necessary.

“You’ve got to get a lot bigger and a lot stronger and faster and all that,” said McDavid. “You’re playing against men now. It’s a big jump.”

Fans aren’t the only ones excited to see what the Newmarket, Ontario native can do at the next level. New Oilers bench boss Todd McLellan told NHL.com that McDavid’s landing spot played a role in him taking his job in Edmonton.

“The lottery was something everybody was watching,” McLellan said. “If you were a coach out of work and was considering a position to attain, everybody had an eyeball on where Connor was going to end up.”

Related: McDavid scores five in Oilers scrimmage

PHT Morning Skate: Islanders seek Zamboni driver for upcoming season

New York Islanders v Florida Panthers

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.

As the Islanders prepare for their first season in Brooklyn the club has several job vacancies at the Barclays Center. Perhaps one of the more notable job listings is for a Zamboni driver. The posting seeks an “Assistant Manager, Arena Operations” who knows how to “operate Zamboni and maintain the ice surface to NHL standards”. (The New York Times)

Speaking at his hockey school in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby stressed the importance for kids to play other sports outside of hockey. (Metro News)

According to The Hockey News, the Vancouver Canucks have two of the top five goaltending prospects in the world in Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko. (The Hockey News)

The group trying to land an NHL franchise in Las Vegas plans to allow its season ticket depositors to vote on a team name. The website Vegaswantshockey.com has got the ball rolling with five suggestions, including “The Scorpions”, “The Mustangs” and “The Monsoon”. (Vegaswantshockey.com)

The folks over at Bar Down have done a mock up of what they believe the new Quebec Nordiques expansion jerseys should look like. (Bar Down)

PHT Morning Skate: On Dean Lombardi, George Washington and Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

2014 Stanley Cup Final Media Day

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.

In case you missed it, here’s a transcript of Dean Lombardi’s epic, history-laden speech upon being named GM of USA’s World Cup of Hockey team. (Eye on Hockey)

The Devils have hired 61-year-old Pertti Hasanen, formerly of Boston University, as their new development/skills coach. (ESPN)

The Gwinnett Gladiators are the new ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins. (Gwinnett Daily Post)

Sidney Crosby has high praise for the moves Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford’s made this summer. (NHL.com)

The Blue Jackets have officially loaned out goalie Oscar Dansk to Rogle BK in Sweden’s top professional league, the Swedish Hockey League. (Columbus Blue Jackets)