St. Louis Blues

Video: NFL star J.J. Watt unleashes wicked shot

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Without knowing about skating ability, if someone asked you which NFL player’s style would make the most sense as a hockey player, Houston Texas defensive dynamo (OK, lineman) J.J. Watt might just be the first name that comes to mind.

Watt made a surprise appearance at the second annual Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic at Wisconsin, letting this shot rip (as Brian Elliott got out of the way):

Not bad, really. It sounds like a good time, too:

For more on his appearance and the event (which raised funds for the University of Wisconsin’s Health Burn Unit), click here.

(H/T to Puck Daddy)

UFA of the Day: Cody Franson

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Cody Franson

He set new career-highs in 2014-15 with seven goals and 36 points in 78 contests, which is in a way remarkable given how rough his reunion with Nashville went. The 27-year-old defenseman already had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto before he was sent to the Predators on Feb. 15 along with Mike Santorelli in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and what turned out to be the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (later traded to Philadelphia and used to draft Travis Konecny).

At the time, Nashville was leading the Presidents’ Trophy race and setting the stage for what it hoped would be a lengthy playoff run. Nashville struggled following the trade though and Franson was limited to just 15:25 minutes per contest after averaging 21:23 minutes in Toronto.

In retrospect, Predators GM David Poile felt Franson wasn’t a good fit and he consequently won’t be back for the 2015-16 campaign.

That shouldn’t sour other clubs towards him though as an offensive defenseman with a right-handed shot tends to draw attention. The British Columbia-native has shown an interest in Vancouver and also is hoping that Toronto wants him back.

Teams like the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and San Jose Sharks might be in the mix as well.

Report: Avs feel they have ‘no choice’ but to trade O’Reilly

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From Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos:

A $60 million contract over eight years would garner a cap hit of $7.5 million. Matt Duchene, in contrast, has a cap hit of $6 million. Paul Stastny left Colorado last summer for St. Louis, where he signed a four-year deal with a cap hit of $7 million.

We wrote last week about O’Reilly, and how the Avalanche need to hit a home run if they do decide to trade him.

O’Reilly can’t sign a contract extension until July 1. Considering any acquiring team will want to be certain it can keep him long-term, timing of any possible trade will be interesting.

Will it have to wait until after the draft?

The Price is Right: Habs’ goaltender wins Hart Memorial Trophy

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Carey Price is the 2015 winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Price becomes the first goaltender since 2002 to win both Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy.

The 27-year-old is also the first goaltender since Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998 to win the Vezina Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.

Price is first goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Ted Lindsay and Jennings.

It’s the first MVP award for Price who helped the Canadiens earn the top seed in the Atlantic Division despite Montreal finishing 20th overall in goals for per game during the regular season.

“It’s coming together,” Price told NHL.com on Tuesday. “It’s always been a process. A lot of goaltenders my age have already had a lot of success. I feel like my career is progressing in the right direction, but I’m still looking for what I ultimately want.”

Price led the league in wins (44), G.A.A. (1.96) and save percentage (.933) during the 2014-15 season.

“I think the biggest thing is I was trying to focus more on being successful as opposed to focusing on what I needed to do to be successful. That basic mindset was a big difference,” Price said of his MVP season. “[Stephane Waite] has definitely helped with that, my dad’s helped with that, but ultimately it takes the individual to accept that. Over the last couple of years, I think I’ve really done that.”

Price beat out New York Islanders’ captain John Tavares and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Here are the full voting results:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)
1. Carey Price, MTL 1498 (139-14-2-0-0)
2. Alex Ovechkin, WSH 888 (8-75-45-18-4)
3. John Tavares, NYI 739 (4-41-63-27-16)
4. Devan Dubnyk, MIN 410 (6-16-25-30-23)
5. Sidney Crosby, PIT 138 (0-2-3-25-34)
6. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA 124 (0-2-6-20-20)
7. Rick Nash, NYR 70 (0-1-4-9-16)
8. Pekka Rinne, NSH 49 (0-2-4-4-3)
9. Erik Karlsson, OTT 32 (0-1-1-5-5)
10. Jonathan Toews, CHI 31 (0-1-3-2-3)
11. Steven Stamkos, TBL 29 (0-1-0-5-7)
12. Jamie Benn, DAL 23 (0-0-0-5-8)
13. Jiri Hudler, CGY 16 (0-1-0-3-0)
14. Vladimir Tarasenko, STL 14 (0-0-0-3-5)
15. Andrew Hammond, OTT 9 (0-0-0-1-6)
16. P.K. Subban, MTL 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
17. Drew Doughty, LAK 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
18. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Braden Holtby, WSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Zach Parise, MIN 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Shea Weber, NSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Here are the MVP-winners and the second-place guys since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2015 Carey Price, Mtl. Alex Ovechkin, Wsh.
2014 Sidney Crosby, Pit. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana.
2013 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Sidney Crosby, Pit.
2012 Evgeni Malkin, Pit. Steven Stamkos, T.B.
2011 Corey Perry, Ana. Daniel Sedin, Van.
2010 Henrik Sedin, Van. Alex Ovechkin, Wsh.
2009 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Evgeni Malkin, Pit.
2008 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Evgeni Malkin, Pit.
2007 Sidney Crosby, Pit. Roberto Luongo, Van.
2006 Joe Thornton, S.J. Jaromir Jagr, NYR
2004 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Jarome Iginla, Cgy.
2003 Peter Forsberg, Col. Markus Naslund, Van.
2002 Jose Theodore, Mtl. Jarome Iginla, Cgy.
2001 Joe Sakic, Col. Mario Lemieux, Pit.
2000 Chris Pronger, St.L Jaromir Jagr, Pit.
1999 Jaromir Jagr, Pit. Alexei Yashin, Ott.
1998 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Jaromir Jagr, Pit.
1997 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Paul Kariya, Ana.
1996 Mario Lemieux, Pit. Mark Messier, NYR
1995 Eric Lindros, Phi. Jaromir Jagr, Pit.
1994 Sergei Fedorov, Det. Dominik Hasek, Buf.
1993 Mario Lemieux, Pit. Doug Gilmour, Tor.
1992 Mark Messier, NYR Patrick Roy, Mtl.
1991 Brett Hull, St.L Wayne Gretzky, L.A.
1990 Mark Messier, Edm. Ray Bourque, Bos.

Florida first: Ekblad takes home Calder Memorial Trophy

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Aaron Ekblad is the first defenseman since Tyler Myers (2009-10) to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

The blue liner becomes the first Panthers’ defenseman to take home the award.

“The competition is pretty unreal for this award and there are a couple of names who were left out who definitely could have made a case for it,” Ekblad told the Sun-Sentinel recently. “It’s pretty cool to see who wins it.

“I’ve been able to share this with my family and everything so whether I win or lose it’s been a great experience for sure.”

Ekblad led all NHL rookie defenders in goals (12), power play goals (six), power play points (13) and shots (170). The 19-year-old also finished second in assists, plus-minus (+12), hits (109) and blocked shots (80), all while averaging 21:48 of ice time per game.

He eclipsed Ed Jovanovski’s 19-year franchise record for goals and points by a rookie defenseman.

Ekblad beat out Ottawa Senators’ rookie Mark Stone and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames.

Here are the full voting results:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Aaron Ekblad, FLA 1147 (71-39-24-12-8)
2. Mark Stone, OTT 1078 (47-49-46-11-2)
3. Johnny Gaudreau, CGY 1026 (33-57-48-19-0)
4. Filip Forsberg, NSH 594 (6-9-37-91-13)
5. John Klingberg, DAL 127 (0-2-1-15-63)
6. Mike Hoffman, OTT 57 (0-1-1-5-30)
7. Kevin Hayes, NYR 15 (0-0-0-1-12)
8. Michael Hutchinson, WPG 13 (0-0-0-1-10)
9. Anders Lee, NYI 12 (0-0-0-1-9)
10. Jake Allen, STL 10 (0-0-0-1-7)
11. Bo Horvat, VAN 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
12. Adam Lowry, WPG 1 (0-0-0-0-1)