• Minneapolis native Tom Kurvers has been hired as the assistant GM of the Minnesota Wild. (NHL.com/Wild)
• Jermaine Loewen became the first Jamaican-born player to be drafted into the NHL, as he was selected by the Dallas Stars in the seventh round on Saturday. (Color of Hockey)
• Islanders prospects Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson were supposed to be selected a little earlier than they went on Friday night, so they’re using that as motivation. (The Sports Daily)
• Even though they didn’t extend him a qualifying offer earlier this week, the Vancouver Canucks still managed to re-sign Derrick Pouliot. (NHL.com/Canucks)
• Filip Zadina is doing everything he can to show the Detroit Red Wings that he deserves to be in their lineup next season. (NHL.com)
• Commissioner Gary Bettman deserves to be a hall-of-famer for all the work he’s done over his 25-year tenure, but The Hockey News argues that his nomination should have come after his tenure was over. (The Hockey News)
• The Hurricanes are clearly open for business, so it’s entirely possible that Justin Faulk ends up getting traded in the near future. But how good is Falk? TSN.ca’s Travis Yost tells us. (TSN.ca)
• Wild forward Matt Cullen surprised this young man battling stage-four brain cancer by showing up at a fundraiser. “It’s actually really cool. I had no idea he was coming. Nobody told me anything. Then he showed up, everybody told me to turn around and he was there.” (KVRR.com)
• The Winnipeg Jets re-signed Joe Morrow to a one-year, $1 million deal. He was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline. (Sportsnet.ca)
• For the second year in a row, former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson was not included in the hall-of-fame class. He’ll have to be a little more patient. (Ottawa Sun)
• Puck Junk did a “re-draft” of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Instead of picking Alexandre Daigle first overall, let’s just say the Senators could’ve landed a player that was recently inducted into the hall of fame. (Puck Junk)
The verdict? That we won’t know for some time yet (as with any trade in its immediate infancy), but for a Hurricanes team desperate for a sheet of ice in the playoffs, the move certainly turned their aim in that direction.
Worlds like “elite defenseman,” “career-year” and “highly-touted” were all uttered to help explain the three players — Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox, respectively — that Carolina snatched up in Saturday’s wheeling and dealing.
Not too shabby, right? The Hurricanes got immediate help on defense and forward with a quality prospect on the backend developing (if he eventually signs).
Winning trades has been something of a foreign concept when attached to Don Waddell during his tenure as an NHL general manager. His exploits as the GM of the Atlanta Thrashers meant years of needed repair after the team moved to Winnipeg in 2011, for instance.
So Saturday’s deal was a win-win for Carolina fans, who had to fear what Waddell might do to their team after being handed the reigns earlier this year.
“We’ve gone nine years missing the playoffs… we’re going to try to change up the culture a little bit,” Waddell said from the draft. “We feel that all three pieces are going to make our hockey club better not just today but going into the future.”
The Canes received a beefy, skilled defenseman in Hamilton who’s good for 40 points a year and can play big minutes. He’s also still just 25 and comes in at a nice price point at $5.75 AAV with three years left on that deal.
Hamilton seems to carry around an aura of split opinion on his ability (and personality, apparently). But his underlying numbers suggest he’s among the best defenseman in the game. Elite, even.
Dougie Hamilton (traded to Carolina) is an elite top-pair defender who has never been deployed like one in Calgary. Takes a lot of penalties but contributes a ton individually and improves teammates heavily. pic.twitter.com/KPwKF80RXz
Carolina also acquired fellow d-man Adam Fox in the deal, a promising 20-year-old prospect who’s been showing great signs playing at Harvard in the NCAA.
And they got Micheal Ferland, a physical terror on the ice who found his scoring punch this past season with 21 goals.
(It should be noted that Bill Peters — now the coach in Calgary — coached Hanifin and Elias Lindholm in Carolina. He knows the duo like the back of his hand.)
This bit is critical now.
With one issue squared away, the Hurricanes can now turn to other areas that need addressing.
The futures of the aforementioned Faulk (UFA ’20) and Jeff Skinner (UFA ’19) need attention, of course. Both have been churning in the rumor mill and would likely command a nice haul in return. Keeping Faulk in that now-formidable backend might seem like a no-brainer. Or maybe not…
Not guaranteed by any means, but Dougie Hamilton’s arrival in CAR could enhance the chances of Justin Faulk being traded. BTW, Faulk’s NTC kicks in July 1.
A trade involving either could also be used to help Carolina find a left-handed defenseman. They have a glut of right-hand shots now with the arrival Hamilton and the departure of Hanifin on the backend, so perhaps something that turns Faulk into another top LHD helps Waddell pull the trigger.
For the moment, Hurricanes fans can rest on the fact that their team got better over the weekend. And they can hope that the direction from this weekend will filter down into next when the free agency window opens up on July 1.
DALLAS — The picks are in and the 2018 NHL Draft has come to a close. The weekend began with the Buffalo Sabres selecting Rasmus Dahlin No. 1 overall and it ended with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals choosing Eric Florchuk with the 217th and final pick.
A lot happened, like some surprise selections, a few trades and plenty of intrigue as we approach free agency. Let’s take a look at some winners and losers from draft weekend.
Winner: New York Islanders
Landing Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson in back-to-back picks was something GM Lou Lamoriello probably didn’t expect when arrived at the draft, but that’s how things fell for the Islanders in the opening round. A dynamic offensive player in Wahlstrom and a good puck-moving blue liner in Dobson really add to the franchise’s prospect pool. The good off-season continues for them days after hiring Barry Trotz as their new head coach. Aside from finding a new goaltender, the biggest concern now facing the team is re-signing John Tavares, which we should know what his plans are within the next week.
Winner: 2018 NHL Draft music
The American Airlines Center DJ — Michael Gruber — spun an impeccable playlist during Friday night and Saturday afternoon. From the Beastie Boys to Weezer to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Sublime to Radiohead, the soundtrack to the weekend was flawless.
Loser: Fans who like trades involving players
One of the most exciting moments of the NHL draft is when Commissioner Gary Bettman steps to the podium and says, “We have a trade to announce!” Those words were uttered many times this weekend, but majority of the moves were teams swapping selections. Only two big trades that included players went down this weekend, which is kind of disappointing considering all of the speculation as the hockey world decended on Dallas. Maybe now that all of the teams are shifting their focus to free agency, some moves will happen this week before the market opens July 1.
Winner: Colorado Avalanche
The Avs made the first big move of the weekend by trading for goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik from the Washington Capitals. Grubauer, a restricted free agent, is expected to sign a deal in the neighborhood of three years and $10 million, which gives Colorado a netminder for the future as Semyon Varlamov enters the final year of his deal.
With 28 Swedish-born players selected this weekend that matches the country’s record which was set during the 2011 draft. Also celebrating are England (Liam Kirk, Arizona) and Jamaica (Jermaine Loewen, Dallas). Kirk is first British-born and trained player to be drafted, while Loewen is the first Jamaican-born player to be picked.
While the number of Slovakian players drafted this year (5) is up from 2017 (2), the amount continues to remain low for a country that once regularly produced NHL players. Slovakia has seen only 15 players selected over the last six NHL Drafts.
Winner: Brooks Orpik
It’s been quite a month for the 37-year-old defenseman. First, he wins his second Stanley Cup. Then two weeks later he’s traded to the Colorado Avalanche along with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. But as soon as the deal was consummated, Avs GM Joe Sakic said the plan was to try and flip him or buy him out. No suitable offers were made, so Orpik was placed on waivers Saturday with the intent to buy him out. That sets up a situation that could see him headed back to the Capitals.
Loser: Adam Mascherin
Mascherin was originally a 2016 second round pick by the Florida Panthers, but could not agree to a contract wth the team. “He didn’t want to play for the Panthers. That’s what happened,” GM Dale Tallon said earlier this week. He was eligible to re-enter the draft this year and ended up dropping to the fourth round where the Dallas Stars picked him. In the two seasons since being picked by the Panthers, he’s posted 75 goals and 186 points in 132 games with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.
Winner: The Sutter legacy
The only thing that will outlast us all are cockroaches, Jaromir Jagr and a hockey playing Sutter. Riley Sutter was selected by the Capitals at No. 93 and is the son of Ron. The Sutter NHL tree dates all the way back to 1976 and doesn’t look like it will stop growing any time soon..
A rumor going around late in the draft was that Pacioretty was going to be traded to the San Jose Sharks. But that was quickly shot down despite it being “confirmed.” The only news about the Montreal Canadiens captain, who has one year left on his deal, was that he’s parted ways with Pat Brisson and has hired Allan Walsh as his new agent.
Winner: Unique names
There were 217 picks in the 2018 draft and many, if you scour all of the selections, featured some pretty interesting names. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jett Woo, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Jasper Weatherby, Angus Crookshank, Blade Jenkins, Magnus Chrona, Dmitry Zavgorodniy, and Shamil Shamakov are just a handful of what we heard over the two days.
Loser: Nando Eggenberger
The Swiss winger who owns arguably the best name out of any of the eligible 2018 prospects did not get to hear his named called in Dallas. There’s always next year in Vancouver.
Winner: The Krygier family
Christian and Cole Krygier went five picks apart in the seventh round. The twin sons of former NHLer Todd Krygier, Christian landed with the Islanders while Cole ended up with the Panthers.
Prime-age players exchange hands on both sides, but one objective remark is that the Flames generally landed the younger players.
The talent is young and substantial enough that plenty of players involved could affect how we look back at this massive move. Let’s consider the biggest names.
Blue chippers, plus a big forward
It’s honestly bewildering to consider the high-end draft picks involved in this move.
Dougie Hamilton, 25, was drafted ninth overall by the Boston Bruins in 2011. This is the second time the high-scoring defenseman’s been traded, as the Bruins sent him to Calgary for a first-round pick and two second-rounders back in 2015.
Despite scoring a career-high 17 goals and continuing a four-season streak of 10+ tallies, Hamilton remains a divisive figure in the NHL, not unlike players like P.K. Subban and Phil Kessel, who he’ll be connected to for the rest of his career thanks to how his pick landed in Boston. Hamilton has been excellent for much of his days, yet plenty of people either believe that he’s ineffective in his own end, brings chemistry issues, or …?
well Dougie Hamilton is an amazing defenseman but on the other hand he [checks notes] reads too many books, or something
Hamilton’s cap hit is $5.75 million running through 2020-21. Much like everything else with the defenseman, hockey people are likely divided regarding that contract being a bargain or being too rich.
Noah Hanifin, 21, was the fifth pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.
While Hamilton’s resume is pretty robust with tangible evidence that he’s a difference-maker, Hanifin stumbled a bit out of the gate. He’s corrected in promising ways recently, however, generating career-highs of goals (10) and points (32) in 2017-18.
As much as anything else, it’s his youth, speed, and potential that makes him fascinating. Of course, on the other hand, you can talk yourself into expecting too much thanks to that high draft pick pedigree.
Elias Lindholm, 23, also went fifth overall, but in 2013.
The Swedish forward has been productive, yet not exactly spectacular, so far during his NHL career. He’s already played in 374 regular-season games, generating 64 goals and 124 assists for 188 points.
Micheal Ferland, 26, isn’t of the same draft pedigree, as he went in the fifth round (133rd overall) back in 2010.
You could make a reasonable argument that Ferland could be reasonably comparable to Lindholm from an immediate viewpoint, though. Ferland is coming off of a 21-goal, 41-points season from 2017-18.
Some of that production is likely inflated by playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Still, it’s worth noting that he fit in very nicely with those two players, bringing a big body and some nice finishing ability to the table.
Ferland has one year left on a team-friendly $1.75M cap hit.
If you want a fancy perspective:
Alright, here's everything. Carolina gets Hamilton and Ferland. High-level offensive defenseman and a bottom-six forward. Calgary gets Hanifin and Lindholm. Hanifin's an automatic zone exit and his offense started to come around last year. Lindholm does a bit of everything. pic.twitter.com/VlTfeIPcqw
This is a really fascinating move for both teams. No doubt about it, the Flames’ take has to be heavily influenced by the hiring of former Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters. The contract situations for Lindholm, Hanifin, Fox, and eventually Ferland will play a role in how hindsight gazes upon this blockbuster.
Let’s get a feel for the immediate viewpoint, though. Who do you think got the better end of the trade?
The line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Micheal Ferland (Ferland for now?) probably ranks as the Calgary Flames’ most important forward trio. If you spend a little time on Hockey Twitter, you’ll probably come across someone gushing about “The 3M Line,” maybe more than the bigger guns.
#Flames C Mikael Backlund, 2 of 2: "The mission here is just to win. That’s what I like about the organization. All they want to do is just win that Cup and that’s what I’m very excited about it. I’m very looking forward to these years."
This keeps “The 3M Line” together through 2018-19, assuming the team doesn’t want to split them up at some point.
The most infamous member of the trio is the least tenured of the three: Matthew Tkachuk will see his rookie contract expire after 2018-19. Michael Frolik, meanwhile, receives $4.3M per season through 2019-20. Tkachuk isn’t likely to go anywhere, mind you, but his inevitable raise could make it tough to keep all three of those puck-hogging forwards on the same roster that also boasts Gaudreau, Monahan, and pricey blueliners like Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton.
Backlund, 28 (soon to be 29 as of March 17), is a solid piece even if you look at his scoring stats alone. The 24th pick of the 2007 NHL Draft is trying to make this his third consecutive 20-goal season, although he’s been limited to 10 in 58 games. (He’s made up the difference with 24 assists.)
If you look at his possession metrics, you’ll see that Backlund consistently tilts the ice in his team’s favor, even with heavy-to-drastic defensive usage.
Ultimately, he brings a nice mix of the subtle stuff that might slip under the radar:
Working on some new PK stuff specific to in-formation play using direct pressure and this is pretty great stuff from Backlund/Frolik/Giordano/Stone vs the Habs: pic.twitter.com/7oWE32HJeR
Naturally, this is an expensive contract, so there’s some risk involved. Even so, most seem happy with the deal from the Flames’ end:
Strange how the upper end of the market for player salaries has stagnated. Backlund's AAV is less than Shawn Horcoff's was on a deal he signed a decade ago and the Oilers weren't getting Horcoff's age 29/30 seasons as part of that deal.