Brayden Schenn on his brother: “Luke is my best friend”

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Few sports weekends were as rich in brotherly love as this draft weekend was. Really, it feels like Philadelphia should have hosted the event instead of Pittsburgh.* The Staal brothers (minus Marc) have been united in Carolina – even Jared’s developing in the Hurricanes’ system – and the Schenn brothers now bring that brotherly love theme to a new level with the Flyers.

That being said, not every sibling relationship matches what Chris Farley expected in “Tommy Boy.” Frank Servalli caught up with Brayden Schenn, who revealed just how close he is with Luke Schenn.

“Luke is my best friend,” Brayden Schenn said. “We are very tight, we talk every day. Toronto was really good to him, but he didn’t have the greatest season. He needed a fresh start. I think this will have a huge impact on my career. We push each other, and he knows just what to say to get me going.”

By almost all accounts, the Toronto Maple Leafs “won” the James van Riemsdyk-Luke Schenn trade from a public opinion standpoint. Both are coming off disappointing seasons, yet JVR’s upside, size and 2011 playoff run gave him significantly greater trade value than Schenn. That being said, maybe Brayden is onto something; Toronto is one of the few markets that can gobble up a struggling player more than Philly. Getting a fresh start in a town that loves rough-and-tumble players might just be the tonic for what’s ailing Luke.

Then again, maybe a good old-fashioned brother hug might help every now and then, too.

* – Philly gets it in 2014, though.

Building off a breakthrough: Brendan Gallagher

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Montreal Canadiens.

The 2017-18 season was pretty much a nightmare for the Montreal Canadiens. They finished as one of the worst teams in the league, pretty much every move they made seemed to backfire in their faces, and the long-term outlook for the team seems … let’s say bleak.

The one exception to all of that was the play of 25-year-old forward Brendan Gallagher who was probably the one consistent bright spot throughout the season.

On a team that at times seemed lost, disjointed and just plain bad, Gallagher brought an unmatched energy and effort almost every single night and delivered the best season of his career, finishing with 31 goals and 54 points, both of which were not only new personal bests, but were also top on the team.

His 31 goals not only paced the team, he was one of just two players on the roster to top the 20-goal mark on the season (Paul Byron, who scored exactly 20, was the other).

Since arriving in the NHL Gallagher has always been an important player for the Canadiens, while every line he plays on seems to get a boost from his play. He can be a pest, but he is also a really good two-way player that has consistently posted great possession numbers despite playing on teams that have, at times, been caved in on the shot chart. And while he’s never been a big-time point producer you could always pencil him in for around 20 goals and 40 points, and when combined with everything else that he brings to the team that is a pretty valuable player. This past season the production spiked.

Given the way the rest of the roster looks, the Canadiens are going to need him to do it again. With Alex Galchenyuk now in Arizona, and Max Pacioretty‘s future with the team very much in doubt, the Canadiens are woefully short on players that can put the puck in the net. Keep in mind this is a team that finished the 2017-18 season 29th in the league in goals scored, while their big offseason move was to trade Galchenyuk (19 goals) for Max Domi (18 goals … in 141 games over the past two seasons).

Gallagher, it seems, is going to once again be one of their best options and a player they are going to have to lean on.

The good news for the Canadiens is that there is reason to believe Gallagher can at least come close to matching his production because there was nothing to indicate that his 2017-18 performance was much of a fluke. Entering his age 26 season he is still right in the middle of what should be his peak years in the NHL, and still signed for three more seasons at a salary cap hit of just $3.75 million he should be one of the most valuable assets the team has both now and in the near future.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

It’s Montreal Canadiens day at PHT

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Montreal Canadiens.

2017-18:

29-40-13, 71 pts. (6th Atlantic Division; 14th Eastern Conference)

IN:

Max Domi
Joel Armia
Matthew Peca
Michael Chaput
Tomas Plekanec
Xavier Ouellet

OUT:

Alex Galchenyuk
Daniel Carr
Ales Hemsky

RE-SIGNED

Phillip Danault
Antti Niemi
Jacob De La Rose
Rinat Valiev

After getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs in 2017, the Canadiens put together a horribly disappointing season last year. None of their core players played well, which obviously didn’t help. Max Pacioretty didn’t score as often, Shea Weber suffered a serious injury and Carey Price wasn’t himself.

For the first time in five years, Pacioretty failed to hit the 30-goal mark. Now, he’s entering the final year of contract, and it sounds like a divorce between he and and the team is imminent. If the Habs ship their captain to another team, who will score goals for this team? They traded Alex Galchenyuk for a playmaker like Max Domi, so they don’t have any natural scorers left on the roster.

As for Weber, he’s fallen on hard times injury-wise. He got off to a great start (16 points in 26 games), but he eventually missed a good chunk of the season with a foot injury. The 33-year-old will also be out until at least Christmas because of knee surgery. Not having Weber will be tough overcome.

The biggest question surrounding the Canadiens upcoming season is whether or not Price can bounce back from the dismal season he had in 2017-18. He missed an extended period of time with lower-body injury and then a concussion. The team is light on talent, but if they can get Price back to where he was a few years ago, they’ll have a chance in every game they play. If he can’t get back to form, the next eight years will be incredibly long (they owe him $84 million).

This is a big year for GM Marc Bergevin. If botches a potentially Pacioretty trade, or if the team crumbles again, he might be looking for a new job. No matter what happens, it should be an interesting year in Habs land.

Prospect Pool:

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, 18, Assat Pori – 2018 first-round pick

The Canadiens have been searching for a number one center for years, and Kotkaniemi might finally be that guy. He’s a big body with good offensive instincts. Kotkaniemi is also capable of playing a strong all-around game. He has the ability to develop into a top-line player, but he might just need a bit more time to develop. The young Finn racked up 10 goals and 29 points in 57 games in the SM-Liiga

• Ryan Poehling, C, 19, St. Cloud State – 2017 first-round pick

Poehling made some huge strides in his second year at St. Cloud. He went from being a 13-point player in his first year to producing 31 points in 36 games last season. Like Kotkaniemi, Poehling is also big (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), but the American forward isn’t as gifted offensively. The biggest question around his game is whether or not his offensive abilities are good enough to make him a second-line center. Poehling is heading back to St. Cloud State for another year, but he could join the Canadiens next season.

Noah Juulsen, D, 21, Laval Rocket – 2015 first-round pick

Juulsen got his first taste of NHL experience during Montreal’s “lost” season last year and he certainly didn’t look out of place. He’s a good skater that can move the puck efficiently. He might not develop into a top pairing defenseman, but he’s certainly capable of being a top-four blueliner for years to come. Even though the Canadiens have several defensemen on one-way contracts, Juulsen has a pretty good shot at making the team out of camp.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Ellis on extension; Oilers questions post-Sekera injury

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Meet Beacon, the new mascot for the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. It’s jacked. [Mariners]

Ryan Ellis on leaving some money on the table after signing his eight-year, $50 million extension with the Nashville Predators: “For me it was a no brainer. I think a lot of guys are going to follow suit, and hopefully if everything works out we’ll keep this thing together and keep going in the right direction for many years.” [Tennessean]

• “An interim payment of $50,000 will be paid out to each of the survivors and families of the 29 people affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus collision. A Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge agreed Wednesday that $1.45 million could be spent on the payments.” [CBC]

Andrej Sekera’s achilles injury leaves plenty of questions going forward for both the player and the Edmonton Oilers. [Sportsnet]

• Speaking of questions, what’s the future look like in goal for the Detroit Red Wings? [Detroit News]

• Former NHLer Darryl Sydor on his life after the NHL and battling alcohol problems. [CFJC Today]

• Is Zdeno Chara still the Boston Bruins’ No. 1 defenseman? [WEEI]

• How long can Stars coach Jim Montgomery keep the top line together? [Dallas Morning News]

• Herb Brooks’ biggest regret? Never getting the chance to coach Mario Lemieux. [Post-Gazette]

• Where exactly will this Vancouver Canucks rebuild go? [The Province]

• Extension talks with Brock Boeser are about to get under way. [TSN]

• “Career years are, by definition, uncommon. There is a large number of Capitals claiming them in 2017-2018. One thing to watch for as the 2018-2019 season unfolds is whether the ‘uncommon’ becomes ‘common’ for these players. If it does, it will go a long way to giving the Caps a chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champion.” [Japers’ Rink]

• A good look at what this current New York Rangers rebuild looks like and when it began. [Blueshirt Banter]

• Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma are heading to Switzerland to play for Geneve-Servette HC. [Swiss Hockey News]

• It’s quiet out there in free agency and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore is one those players who still needs a new contract. [Sin Bin Vegas]

• Finally, there’s 48 days until opening night. Let’s take a look at the Washington Capitals clinching in Game 5:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ondrej Kase re-signs with Ducks for 3 years, $7.8 million

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed right wing Ondrej Kase to a three-year, $7.8 million contract.

The Ducks announced the deal Wednesday.

Kase scored 20 goals last season, establishing himself as a promising talent when given his first extensive NHL playing time. The 22-year-old Czech forward added 18 assists and had five game-winning goals along with a plus-18 rating.

Nick Ritchie is the Ducks’ only remaining restricted free agent one month before they open training camp.

Anaheim has re-signed several returning players to significant deals in the offseason, including forward Adam Henrique, goalie John Gibson and defenseman Brandon Montour.

MORE:
ProHockeyTalk’s NHL free agency tracker
Building off a breakthrough: Ondrej Kase