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The best goals of 2018 (PHT Year in Review)

Pro Hockey Talk is taking a look back at the year in hockey. We’ll be presenting you with the best goals, saves, moments, players and more as we remember 2018.

Hockey is a game of skill. Some have it, some don’t. In 2018, there were a number instances where hockey players all over the world showed off incredible moves before putting the puck in the back of the net.

We love hockey for so many reasons. There’s jaw-dropping saves, hilarious bloopers, incredible moments, the amazing players and much more. But there’s nothing like an incredible goal to get you out of your seat. So let’s see what some of these crazy kids did on the ice to entertain us throughout 2018.

Keep in mind that these are in no particular order. Just sit back, keep scrolling and enjoy the show!

Let’s start in Nashville, where the Predators were bounced from the Stanley Cup Playoffs a little earlier than they had hoped, but not before Filip Forsberg was able to score one of the best goals you’ll see on this list. Avs defenseman Samuel Girard is a really good player, but Forsberg went around him like he wasn’t even there on this fabulous play:

Sometimes, when you see a goal, you’re left wondering how on earth an NHLer could pull off such a spectacular move on another NHLer. Well, earlier this season, that’s exactly what Penguins captain Sidney Crosby did to Ryan Strome. Crosby’s elite, but this just isn’t fair:

William Karlsson and the Vegas Golden Knights used the 2017-18 season to put themselves on the hockey map. Karlsson scored an incredible 43 goals last year, including this between-the-legs beauty against the San Jose Sharks last March:

Are you a fan of incredible hand-eye coordination? Well, if you are, you’ll love this goal by Senators forward Matt Duchene. How on earth he was able to get a shot off and then bat the rebound out of mid-air is simply ridiculous. Many players around the league bat pucks out of mid-air, but not many can do it like this. It’s just not fair:

Duchene was able to bat the puck away from distance, but how about this double-tap from Crosby from in-close. Carey Price has absolutely no chance of keeping this puck out of the net. Also, Crosby would be a fantastic ball player:

Sorry Flyers fans, you’re on the list again for all the wrong reasons. It’s been an up and down year for Anthony Duclair, as he’s played on three teams over the last two seasons. He’s been a healthy scratch in Columbus on a few occasions this year, but he also scored a remarkable goal from his knees:

Alright, let’s get away from the NHL for a little bit. A gentleman by the name of Vincent Praplan pulled off a lacrosse-style goal during a Swiss League game this year. Yeah, this has been done before but it’ll never get old. Impressive stuff right here:

Montreal Canadiens prospect Jarret Tyszka will never be confused with Alex Ovechkin, but how about the effort and concentration it took to score this goal while falling down during WHL action last season:

Speaking of scoring while falling down, this goal by Cameron Stokes of the Paris Mounties is pretty sweet, too. Steal the puck in the corner and take care of business while going down. Not bad, not bad at all:

Another Canadiens prospect finds himself on the list. Josh Brook somehow managed to carry the puck for a while before going between the legs to beat the opposing goaltender. This one is pretty sweet:

Can we give some love to a goalie? USHL netminder Roman Durny snuck onto this list thanks to the goal he scored last week. A perfect shot from downtown:

Just in case you’re not aware, Alexis Lafreniere isn’t draft-eligible until 2020. That doesn’t stop him from doing ridiculous things like this though:

Here’s one you don’t see every day. Nic Petan with the Superman stretch to score a goal in the AHL.

Jocelyne Lamoureux helped the U.S. win gold with this shootout goal against Team Canada:

Alright, back to the NHL. Panthers defender Mike Matheson isn’t known for his silky-smooth mitts, but he scored an incredible buzzer-beater against the Detroit Red Wings earlier this season. Even he seemed to be a little surprised that he was able to pull this off:

There’s some soft defending by Noah Juulsen here, but this is still a pretty incredible goal by Neal Pionk:

Don’t forget to check out NBC Sports’ Top 18 Goals of 2018. There’s some beauties here too:

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.

Ovechkin to play role of NHL ambassador in China

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Alex Ovechkin will be taking a week away from his summer break to play a different kind of role in the NHL next month.

Ovi is heading to China as the NHL’s international ambassador on the week of Aug. 4. He will travel to Bejing, China’s capital, a trip that will include the Russian superstar holding youth hockey clinics, a media tour and business development meetings.

“It is a huge honor for me to be an ambassador for the entire Washington Capitals organization and the National Hockey League for this special trip to China,” Ovechkin said in a release from the Caps. “I think it is very important to spend time to help make people all over the world see how great a game hockey is. I can’t wait to spend time with all the hockey fans there and I hope to meet young kids who will be future NHL players. I can’t wait for this trip!”

The NHL continues to try and grow the game at the international level in places traditionally not hotbeds for hockey.

China has been seeing a lot of the NHL over the past three seasons. Although no preseason games are scheduled for the 2019-20 season, the NHL has played a total of four since 2017, with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks contesting two games in 2017-18 and the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames playing the other two prior to last season.

The Stanley Cup found its way to the country for the first time last September, as well.

“We are very excited that Alex Ovechkin will be joining us in China this summer,” said David Proper, NHL Executive Vice President of Media and International Strategy. “Alex represents the best in sports, as he epitomizes that combination of great talent, great personality and great sportsmanship. He is the perfect person to represent the NHL’s efforts to grow hockey in China.”

China, with a population of over 1.3 billion, expects to expand its participation in winter sports, including hockey, to 300 million people by 2022.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Police say Greg Johnson’s death an apparent suicide

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DETROIT (AP) — A police report says the death of former Nashville Predators captain Greg Johnson was an apparent suicide, according to the Detroit News.

The paper said Wednesday it had obtained a Rochester Police report, and that Johnson was found by his wife shortly before 10 a.m. on July 7. A gun and a single bullet were found near him. No suicide note was left.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner declined to discuss findings from an autopsy, according to the paper.

Johnson was with Nashville for the franchise’s first season in the league. He spent the last seven years of his career with the Predators. He also played for Detroit, Pittsburgh and Chicago during his 12 years in the NHL.

The Detroit News said Johnson’s agent, Tom Laidlaw, declined to discuss the specifics surrounding the former player’s death. Johnson was 48.

PHT Morning Skate: Penguins need summer miracle again; Devils begin new chapter

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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.

• The Pens need to make another mid-summer magical change. (Pensburgh)

• Maple Leafs almost certain to lose any trade involving Mitch Marner. (Editor In Leaf)

Zack Kassian to get his chance to play alongside Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl. (The Hockey Writers)

Ryan Spooner heading to Switzerland next season. (Sportsnet)

• The RFA waiting game for big-name players is the norm now, in Winnipeg and the rest of the NHL. (Winnipeg Sun)

• Each team’s worst contract heading into the 2019-20 season. (Puck Prose)

• Biggest fantasy winners thus far in the offseason. (Yahoo Sports)

• Devils begin a new chapter with additions of Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban. (NHL.com)

• Oft-Overlooked Hurricanes On the Rise. (Featurd)

• The oddsmakers are taking the Colorado Avalanche seriously, and so should you. (The Hockey News)

• NHL Network analyst believes Andre Burakovsky will score ‘a minimum’ of 20 goals next season. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

• The Nashville Predators should go all-in and trade for William Nylander. (Pred Lines)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Analyzing the Avalanche after Colorado re-signs J.T. Compher

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The Colorado Avalanche’s offseason continues to come into focus, even as we’re in more of a housekeeping mode, rather than a more exciting time of dramatic renovations.

Earlier, the Avalanche signed intriguing new addition Andre Burakovsky at a bargain $3.25 million rate. While I would’ve been even more excited if the Avalanche would have bought more term, it’s still a nice move, and Burakovsky’s still slated to be an RFA after this one-year re-up expires.

The medium-sized moves continued on Wednesday, with Colorado handing forward J.T. Compher an interesting four-year deal reportedly worth $3.5M per season.

Overall, it’s fairly easy to understand. Compher scored both 16 goals and assists on his way to 32 points last season, despite being limited to 66 games. He quietly logged a lot of minutes (17:29 TOI per game), and had some utility, although the Avalanche might be wise to ease some of his PK duties going forward.

You can dig deeper into certain numbers, or make some tough comparisons, and start to feel not-quite-as-good about Compher’s new contract.

After all, Compher possesses the same contract as now-former teammate Alex Kerfoot, who will carry $3.5M for four seasons with Toronto. On one hand, it’s not as though Colorado necessarily chose to keep Compher over Kerfoot; it’s very plausible that the analytics-savvy Maple Leafs wanted Kerfoot to make that Nazem KadriTyson Barrie deal work, in the first place. On the other hand, the comparisons are natural when you consider their identical deals. Comparing the two using visualizations including Evolving Hockey’s Regularized Adjusted Plus/Minus (RAPM) makes this contract look less appealing:

via Evolving Hockey

Compher doesn’t need to equal or exceed Kerfoot’s value to be worth $3.5M per year to the Avalanche, though, and there’s a solid chance that they’ll be fine with this contract.

It does open up an opportunity to ponder where Colorado is, though.

The Avalanche still have a big-ticket item to re-sign, as Mikko Rantanen is one of the many RFAs heading for a big raise alongside the likes of Mitch Marner and Brayden Point. If Colorado can convince Rantanen to sign somewhere in the team-friendly range that the Carolina Hurricanes enjoy with Sebastian Aho, or the borderline insane deal the San Jose Sharks landed with Timo Meier, then Colorado would continue to look like one of the smartest people in the room.

But how many steps have the Avs taken after upsetting the Flames in Round 1 and pushing the Sharks hard in Round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey projected next season’s lineup, figuring that Compher will center a third line with two sneaky-good analytics wingers in Colin Wilson and Joonas Donskoi, while Kadri could center a second line with Tyson Jost and Andre Burakovsky around him.

Losing Kerfoot stings, but on paper, that does seem like a middle-six that could ease some of the burden for that all-world trio of Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog. It’s also plausible that the Avs could try to move different pieces around to see if one of MacKinnon or Rantanen could carry their own line, thus diversifying the Avs’ attack.

Yet, with the Central Division continuing to look like a beastly group, it’s tough to say where Colorado fits. Is this team more wild-card material, or will a boosted supporting cast push them to a new level? There’s also the possibility that things don’t work out the same way as they did in 2018-19, from that MacKinnon line slowing to maybe the goaltending falling short.

Whatever value Compher ultimately brings, along with newcomers like Burakovsky, Kadri, and Donskoi, a mild itch for something bolder remains for some of us (I blame the NBA’s run where the West is revolutionized every week, seemingly). At least Avs fans can let their imaginations run wild, as there could be some space left over, even after Rantanen gets paid:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.