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Wickenheiser tops 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame class

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The 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees were named on Tuesday. The class includes four players, in alphabetical order: Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky, Hayley Wickenheiser, and Sergei Zubov. Two builders were also inducted: Jim Rutherford and Jerry York. The induction ceremony will take place on November 18 in Toronto.

Let’s take a look at each member of this year’s class, starting with Wickenheiser.

Players

Wickenheiser: Sean Leahy pointed to Wickenheiser as the “lock” to make this HHOF class on Monday, and with good reason.

Wickenheiser becomes the seventh woman named to the Hockey Hall of Fame after winning four Olympic gold medals representing Canada, not to mention seven gold medals at the IIHF world championship. Wickenheiser was a two-time Olympic tournament MVP, and is Canada’s women’s leader in goals (168), assists (211) and points (379) after playing 276 games internationally.

Wickenheiser is currently in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, another testament to the immense respect she earned as a legend of the sport.

Zubov: The Russian defenseman won one Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, and one with the Dallas Stars (where Carbonneau was one of Zubov’s teammates).

People, particularly Stars fans, have been debating Zubov’s HHOF merits for some time. As one example, Defending Big D pondered the argument as far back as 2013, with Erin Boylen comparing Zubov to the likes of Scott Niedermayer, Brian Leetch, Rob Blake, and other top contemporaries:

Over their respective careers, Zubov had better offensive numbers than Niedermayer and Blake, though not as good as Leetch. Both Zubov and Niedermayer, though not Blake, could have legitimately put up many more points if they didn’t play in defensively-focused systems for long stretches of their careers. He has essentially equal plus-minus statistics to Niedermayer, much better than Blake and Leetch. He was used in all situations and throughout his career was used as a top-pairing, shut-down defenseman.

The debates have been rampant enough among Stars fans that the Zubov HHOF debate has become a regular joke on the podcast “Puck Soup.” After all, for every Zubov proponent, there will be someone else who points out that he never won a Norris Trophy.

Maybe that debate will continue, but there’s some closure, as Zubov gets the nod.

Zubov finished his NHL career with 771 points in 1,068 regular season contests, spending 12 seasons with the Stars, three with the Rangers, and one with the Penguins. Zubov also appeared in 164 playoff games, and Hockey Reference lists some beefy ice time numbers during his Stars days, as he apparently logged 28:58 TOI per game over 114 playoff games with the Stars specifically.

Speaking of players who ended their Hall of Fame careers with the Stars …

Carbonneau: It’s difficult to shake the parallels between Carbonneau and Bob Gainey, but the good news is that such a comparison is a huge compliment to any two-way player.

Much like Gainey, Carbonneau was a tremendous defensive forward, winning three Selke Trophies during his career. Also like Gainey, Carbonneau made a huge impact on the Montreal Canadiens (where he won two Stanley Cups, and all three Selkes) before also making a considerable impression on the Dallas Stars (where Carbonneau won his third and final Stanley Cup as a player).

Carbonneau played 13 seasons with the Canadiens, five with the Stars, and one with the St. Louis Blues. Overall, he generated 663 points and 820 penalty minutes in 1,318 career regular-season games over 19 seasons. Carbonneau was captain of the Canadiens from 1989-90 through 1993-94, and also served as head coach for three seasons.

Nedomansky: As Shen Peng documented for The Hockey News, Nedomansky deserves a mention alongside Alex Mogilny and the Stastny brothers as one of the players who bravely defected to North America to play hockey at the highest levels.

Nedomansky’s path was especially circuitous, as he began his North American playing days in the WHA in 1974-75. “Big Ned” started his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1977-78, when he was already well into his thirties. He put up some nice numbers in both leagues, and you have to wonder if he’d be a more well-known player if he came overseas during the highest peaks of his prime, in much the same way one might wonder about Igor Larionov and other top Russian players who entered the NHL during the twilight of their careers.

His impact deserves to be documented, so Nedomansky making the Hall of Fame is a great way for more fans to learn about the mark he made on the sport. Peng’s piece is a great place for you to start.

Builders

Rutherford: Jim Rutherford is still a builder as the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins, yet clearly, he’s already in the HHOF, even if he stopped today.

Rutherford played in 457 games during his lengthy NHL career as a goalie (his hockey db photo is worth the trip to the page alone), yet he’s here because of his front office work, helping both the Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes win Stanley Cups as a GM.

York: Jerry York is a legendary NCAA coach, having won four NCAA titles with Boston College, and one with Bowling Green. In 2016, he became the first NCAA coach to win 1,000 games, which is pretty mind-blowing considering the shorter seasons in college hockey.

Video: Boston University hands Boston College first home loss

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Evan Rodrigues scored twice and Nikolas Olsson added a goal and an assist as the Terriers upended the Eagles 5-3 Friday night.

Highly touted prospect Jack Eichel netted his fifth goal of the season for BU while Matt O’Connor turned aside 27 shots for his fourth win of the season.

Boston Bruins 2013 fourth-round pick Ryan Fitzgerald scored a pair for Boston College while Chicago Blackhawks 2012 third-round pick Chris Calnan had his third of the season for the Eagles.

Vancouver Canucks 2014 second-round pick Thatcher Demko made 21 saves in a losing cause and saw his record drop to 4-4-0 on the season.

Highly touted defensive prospect Noah Hanifin finished a minus-4 in the loss.

Hayes sees opportunity with Rangers

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With the New York Rangers losing forwards Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett newcomer Kevin Hayes believes there’s an opportunity to be had at training camp.

The Boston College product, who chose to sign a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Rangers earlier this month, spoke to the Rangers website about his decision.

“At the end of my BC career we sat down with my family and thought that it was best to explore other options,” he said. “It wasn’t really hectic cause I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone until Aug. 15 so I basically had a free three months to train, hangout and relax. But ever since Aug. 15, it’s been pretty hectic.

“Ultimately I chose the Rangers and I’m extremely excited about it.”

Hayes admitted former Boston College teammate, and current Ranger, Chris Kreider called him to sell him on New York while he was making his decision.

“He called me Aug. 15 late and kind of just broke down everything about the city the good, the bad and stuff,” he said. “I only talked to him a couple times on the phone.

“Kreids was my line mate the year we won the national championship and it’s always nice to have one of your good buddies on the team. Hopefully he can show me the ropes.”

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-handed shot scored 27 goals and 65 points in 40 games during his final season at Boston College. In total, he appeared in 142 games for the Eagles scoring 44 goals and 132 points.

Hayes, 22, was originally a first-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks (24th overall in 2010).

According to the Massachusetts native, Alain Vigneault’s style in addition to talking to Kreider and Boyle is what helped him settle on the Rangers.

“The coach… I really like the style the coach plays so I figured this would be the best opportunity for me,” he said.

Hayes says his ultimate goal is to crack the Ranges lineup this season. Despite the aforementioned departures, the Rangers did bring in NHL veterans such as Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak and Matthew Lombardi so Hayes will have competition as he tries to make the jump from college hockey to the NHL.

Related: Rangers win Kevin Hayes sweepstakes

Looking to make the leap: Johnny Gaudreau

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If you’re not familiar with Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau, you’re likely going to hear a lot about him in the coming months.

Gaudreau was a star player at Boston College and won the 2014 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player. Scoring 36 goals with 80 points in 40 games made him the virtual automatic winner of the award as offensive output like that doesn’t happen very often in college hockey.

The same day he won the Hobey, he signed his entry level deal with the Flames. Two days later he made his NHL debut and scored his first goal. Making a first impression like that is a good way to get fans excited, but now it’s a matter of doing it daily at the pro level.

Potentially working against Gaudreau is his size. At 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds he’s far from big, but fortunately for him he has a role model who’s been making his size work for him for a while in the NHL in Martin St. Louis.

The comparisons with St. Louis are something he’s been dealing with for a while. They’re even more apt considering both guys played college hockey and were big time scorers there. What may help Gaudreau most is the situation the Flames are in as they rebuild.

Gaudreau will have every opportunity to crack Calgary’s roster right out of training camp and, after a quick glance at who they have now, there’s no reason to think he can’t do it.

The Flames are lacking in dynamic offensive players. Gaudreau has shown he can light it up at the college level (175 points in 119 games) and while doing it against much bigger pros is a lot harder, opponents may find his speed and elusiveness hard to handle. If he can show his BC skills during camp, we may be talking about him as a Calder Trophy candidate in no time.

Blackhawks waiting on Hayes as signing deadline approaches

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The Kevin Hayes saga with the Chicago Blackhawks trudges on, but from the team’s perspective they’ve done all they can do.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman discussed the Boston College prospect’s situation with the team during the Blackhawks Convention during the weekend. As Brian Hedger at the Daily Herald shared,the ‘Hawks feel there’s nothing left to do but wait.

“We’re still waiting,” Bowman said. “Status quo from our end. We’ve been hopeful that they want to sign with us, and at this point (agent) Bob Murray might be in a better position on what they’re thinking, but we’re hopeful that he wants to be part of our organization.”

Hayes was taken 24th overall by Chicago in the 2010 NHL Draft and just completed his final year at Boston College. He has until August 15 to sign with Chicago or else he becomes a free agent. If being signed by the Blackhawks isn’t all that, apparently being able to sign where you want is.

Elliotte Friedman said in his final 30 Thoughts of the summer that Hayes may have his eye on signing with the Florida Panthers where his brother, Jimmy Hayes, is at. Pittsburgh may also be a possibility as that’s where his cousin, Tom Fitzgerald, is.