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.
Last spring when Eddie Lack was looking for help designing his new mask, Roberto Luongo tweeted the 27-year-old with his own design suggestion. Now with the Carolina Hurricanes, Lack decided to pay tribute to his former Vancouver Canucks teammate by putting Luongo’s face on his mask.
Applying for an NHL expansion franchise will cost interested groups $10 million, which includes $2 million that’s non-refundable. (Seattle Times)
Pittsburgh’s bid to host the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship got support from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Wednesday. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Defenseman Kevin Lohan, the younger cousin of actress Lindsay Lohan, is at Washington Capitals development camp. (CSNWashington.com)
Jack Eichel shows off his hands at Sabres’ development camp (Bar Down)
Former NHLer Colby Armstrong says it was frustrating playing with Phil Kessel in Toronto. (Sportsnet)
Canucks’ prospect Thatcher Demko feels ‘better than new’ after hip surgery. (Metro News)
Hurricanes’ prospect Sergey Tolchinsky scored an amazing breakaway goal at Carolina’s development camp. (Bar Down)
John Schiavo had quite the goal during a shootout at New York Islanders development camp on Wednesday night.
With many predicting the Vancouver Canucks will be hard-pressed to get back to the playoffs next season, will defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata be up for grabs at the 2016 trade deadline?
As of today, it’s certainly possible. GM Jim Benning has confirmed that both veterans — the former a 2014 Olympic gold-medal winner with Team Canada, the latter an NHL all-star last year — will enter next season as pending unrestricted free agents.
“We’re going to go into the season and see how it goes,” Benning said, per The Province. “We’ve touched base with their agents a little, but we’ll see how it plays out.”
The Canucks have other pending UFAs — Yannick Weber, Brandon Prust, and Matt Bartkowski — that could fetch them draft picks or prospects at the deadline. Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, and Nick Bonino could all theoretically be moved too. Such is the outlook in Vancouver that some are wondering if the Sedins should be traded.
As Benning said, it will all depend on “how it plays out.”
The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Jake Virtanen has high expectations for next season.
“My goal is to make the team,” the 18-year-old said this week at Vancouver’s prospects camp, per the Times Colonist.
Virtanen is a big winger the Canucks are hoping can turn into an elite power forward.
If that description sounds familiar, it’s because the Canucks just traded away Zack Kassian, a big winger they’d hoped would turn into an elite power forward.
Canucks GM Jim Benning has said of Virtanen: “He knows how to hit. He likes to hit.” Which is something that was never said of Kassian during his time in Vancouver. In fact, some felt Kassian was miscast, that he’s really a finesse player, not a wrecking ball.
Virtanen concedes his defensive game remains a work in progress.
“A 200-foot game is what I have to work on,” he said.
And yes, they said that about Kassian, too.
Related: Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’
Imagine trying to convince a free agent to sign with the Arizona Coyotes.
Not only did the Coyotes finish with the second-worst record in the NHL last season, their future in Glendale remains murky at best.
So, how does GM Don Maloney make his pitch?
“You’re honest with them,” he said, per azcentral. “You basically say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s a great place to play and we have great fans and a great stadium.’ Things seem to have a way of working themselves out, so we try to downplay it as much as we can.”
The Coyotes did recently convince Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek, Steve Downie, Brad Richardson, and Anders Lindback to sign with them. They’re still reportedly looking for a puck-moving defenseman.
Related: Coyotes bring back Vermette with two-year deal
The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forward Shawn Matthias to a one-year contract worth a reported $2.3 million.
Matthias finished with a career-high 18 goals last season in Vancouver, and he did so in a bottom-six role with barely any time on the power play.
Th 27-year-old can play either center or wing, making him a good match for a team that may or may not trade center Tyler Bozak.
Matthias could also net the Leafs something at the trade deadline, a la Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli this past season. That’s assuming Toronto’s out of the playoff picture at that time.