2020 NHL Draft

St. Louis Blues

PHT Morning Skate: Blues get names engraved on Stanley Cup

3 Comments

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.

• It is official, the Stanley Cup now includes the names of the St. Louis Blues for the first time. (St. Louis Blues)

• Speaking of the Blues, the party is now over as they get back to work. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

• What is (and is not) distracting about Taylor Hall‘s contract situation for the New Jersey Devils. (All About The Jersey)

• Taking a look at some pre-season pre-draft rankings for the 2020 class. (TSN)

• Ten questions for the Columbus Blue Jackets entering training camp. (1st Ohio Battery)

• Golden Knights veterans share stories from their first NHL training camps. (Sin Bin Vegas)

• Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan wants to re-sign both Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, but is that realistic? (NBC Washington)

• Inside Connor McDavid‘s NHL political awakening. (ESPN)

• Calgary Flames goalie David Rittich just wants to prove that he can be a starter in the NHL. (Flames Nation)

• Why Philadelphia Flyers defender Shayne Gostisbehere is saying sorry to Wayne Simmonds. (NBC Philadelphia)

• It is now or never for goalie Tristan Jarry with the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Tribune-Review)

• What going to salary arbitration means for a player’s long-term outlook with a team. (Anaheim Calling)

MORE:
• 
ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Antonio Stranges shows off hands with silky shootout move

ESE Hockey / Instagram
3 Comments

The Eastside Elite Hockey League is a summer league that brings together prospects, minor leaguers and NHL players. Founded by longtime pro Steven Oleksy, the 2019 season features the likes of Dylan Larkin, Alex DeBrincat, Zach Werenski, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Todd Bertuzzi, among others, 

During Tuesday night’s All-Star Challenge, which raised money for the Cassie Hines Shoes Cancer FoundationAntonio Stranges, a 17-year-old forward for the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, wowed the crowd inside Michigan’s Mt. Clemens Ice Arena with this shootout move.

Silky and smooth, just the way to do it.

Here’s another angle via Michigan Hockey:

That wasn’t the first time that Stranges has showed off his unbelievable hands. TPE Hockey, who tipped us off to Tuesday’s move, has this montage showcasing what the young forward can do in the shootout

Stranges, a Michigan native who grew up playing for the Little Caesars program, is eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft. In his first season with the Knights in 2018-19 he scored 13 goals and recorded 34 points in 66 games.

————

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.

Why Wild are better off being terrible next season

Getty Images
8 Comments

When you ponder what separates the good, the bad, and the ugly in the NHL, don’t forget the importance of self-awareness.

For all of Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton’s lizard tongued blunders through his first year at the helm, the Wild’s biggest problem is that owner Craig Leipold is in denial about his team.

It’s been about a year since Leipold shared this message, yet all signs point to the Wild refusing to embrace a true rebuild. In ignoring their reality, the Wild only dig the hole deeper by making more mistakes, and dragging their feet on finding better answers.

Instead of getting the best of both worlds of competing and “rebuilding on the fly,” the Wild are stuck in purgatory: too bad to credibly contend, too competitive to get the picks that help teams win championships. Leipold’s paid for a contender while the Wild have slipped to the level of outright pretenders.

In catering to Leipold, both Chuck Fletcher and current GM Paul Fenton created quite a mess. The Wild’s Cap Friendly page might as well include a horror movie scream mp3 every time you load it up.

Allow this take, then: the Wild would be better off bottoming out in 2019-20, rather than battling for mediocrity.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Changing perceptions?

Most directly, an epic Wild collapse would help them get higher draft lottery odds.

The indirect benefits are considerable, if not guaranteed. Most importantly, Leipold may finally realize that the current plan isn’t working. Failing to even be “in the mix” may also inspire the Wild to trade away certain players, and for those players to make the process easier by waiving various clauses.

  • To start, there are players who are more or less in their primes, but may slip out by the time the Wild can truly compete. Jared Spurgeon is the biggest example with his expiring contract, but it continues to make sense to shop Jason Zucker, and Jonas Brodin heads the list of other considerations.
  • If the Wild end up cellar dwelling, it might be easier to convince Mikko Koivu and Devan Dubnyk to accept trades, and perhaps even to part ways with Eric Staal. (Trading Staal would be awkward since he gave the Wild a sweetheart deal, but sometimes things have to get awkward before they get better.)
  • Via Cap Friendly, the Wild’s commitments for 2020-21 go down to $59.46M, and really open up in 2021-22 (just $37.36M to seven players). So, if the Wild are too stubborn or cowardly to trade some of the above players, Fenton could get something close to a clean slate if they merely let them walk or retire. This thought makes a Spurgeon decision especially important.

On Parise and Suter …

Speaking of money regrets, the Wild should try to get Parise and Suter off the books, even if it’s tough to imagine them actually pulling that off.

  • Honestly, if Parise went on LTIR, I’d view it as far more credible than plenty of other cases. He’s had significant back issues, and those don’t tend to go away, particularly for 34-year-olds with a lot of mileage.
  • Suter seems impossible to trade, but we’ve seen other seemingly impossible trades actually happen.
  • Maybe there’d be a hockey deus ex machina, like expansion draft creativity, or a compliance buyout?

Not the best odds, yet Fenton would be negligent if he didn’t explore many avenues to ease concerns.

Hope can come quickly

A long rebuild would be a tough sell, but maybe Fenton could sell a Rangers revamp to Leipold: going all-in for a short period of time to bring in picks, prospects, and generally gain flexibility.

[More on the Rangers’ rebuild]

While I doubt that many teams can recreate the Rangers’ mix of wisdom and luck, the bottom line is that the Wild have gone a long time since they focused on getting blue chip prospects. Look at the Wild’s draft history and you’ll see how rare high first-rounders have been lately, and how often they’ve lacked higher picks altogether.

To sweeten the deal, the 2020 NHL Draft crop is getting quite a bit of hype, too.

Imagine the Wild landing a lottery pick, some picks and prospects through trades, and Kirill Kaprizov’s long-awaited NHL leap. If they hoarded cap space, they could strike for their own answer to Jacob Trouba and/or Artemi Panarin. Suddenly, the Wild go from drowning slowly in quicksand to seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

***

Things can change quickly in sports. The Wild could make their “poor, sad, dejected, beaten down” fans far happier with some bold changes, but they must sway their most important fan: their owner. If a truly lousy season is the only way for Leipold to clue in, then it might just be worth it for the Wild.

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.

Hurricanes acquire Marleau, set to buy him out

Getty Images
2 Comments

Patrick Marleau is a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, but only for a moment.

The Toronto Maple Leafs shipped the 39-year-old, a conditional first-round pick, and a seventh-rounder in the 2020 NHL Draft to Raleigh in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the same draft. The condition of the first round pick is this: If the pick is in the Top-10 in 2020, Carolina instead receives Toronto’s 2021 first-round selection.

Marleau, meanwhile, is expected to be bought out by the Hurricanes after waiving his no-movement clause, although the Hurricanes are expected to try and convince him to play with the ‘Bunch of Jerks’.

As Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports, Marleau would like to return to San Jose once the free agency period opens on July 1.

For the Leafs, they get something in return in the way of a late draft pick next year, but the real reward is the cap space it frees up. Toronto doesn’t retain any of Marleau’s salary, meaning they have $6.25 million added to a budget that was getting increasingly tighter.

The team is trying to re-sign Mitch Marner on a deal that’s reportedly going to be worth north of $10 million. They also have to sign Kasperi Kapanen in a deal that was reported as being “close” yesterday and basically done today.

Marleau played two seasons with the Maple Leafs after signing in Toronto as a free agent in July 2017.

Marleau had played 19 seasons with the San Jose Sharks prior to joining the Maple Leafs. He scored 508 goals and 1,082 points in a Sharks sweater. With Leafs, Marleau had 43 goals and 84 points in 164 games.

More importantly, Marleau was a mentor to Auston Matthews et al.

“He’s so important,” Matthews told the Toronto Sun recently. “I talk to him all the time. For myself, it’s really tough to put into words. He’s just such a good human being. He’s so unselfish. Puts everyone above him. I could tell you a hundred stories where we go to dinner and before we know it, he’s given his credit card to the waitress when nobody was looking. He always took care of guys.

“It didn’t matter if you were a veteran or a rookie, he treated everyone the same. No matter what happens, that relationship with him and Mitch isn’t going to change. It’s going to suck not seeing him all the time and spending time with him.”

If Marleau is to be bought out and is to return to San Jose, it’s likely he could sign a very team-friendly, bonus-laden deal given he’s already getting paid for next year and anything on top of that is double-dipping.

Carolina’s cap situation, with Marleau, looks like this at the moment:

Patrick, through his wife Christina’s Twitter account, posted a thank you note to the Maple Leafs, their fans and the city of Toronto.

“It was an honor to play with the iconic Maple Leaf on my jersey and be a part of Leaf nation,” Marleau wrote.

MORE:
• New Jersey Devils take Jack Hughes with No. 1 overall pick
• Rangers select Kaapo Kakko with second overall pick
• USA Hockey big winner of Round 1
• 2019 NHL Draft tracker — Round 1

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.

NHL draft in 2020 awarded to Montreal

Getty Images

MONTREAL (AP) — The NHL draft is returning to Montreal for the 27th time and first since 2009.

The NHL on Wednesday announced the Canadiens will host next year’s draft, which will be held June 26-27. The announcement was made as the league holds its annual awards ceremonies in Las Vegas, and prepares to hold the draft in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday and Saturday.

Montreal hosted the first 22 drafts starting in 1963 before it was held in Toronto in 1985. Though Montreal also hosted the draft in 1986, ’88 and ’92, the NHL then began shifting the event’s location to make it more accessible to its fans.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports