Oilers’ biggest question: What about the blue line?

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For all the young talent they’ve amassed up front, and even if the goaltending proves better next season, you can’t help but look at the Edmonton Oilers’ blue line and think, Oy, that’s not a very good blue line.

And in a league where it’s rare to win a championship without at least one elite defenseman, that’s a problem.

Case in point, when the Oilers made the finals in 2006, they had a guy by the name of Chris Pronger on the back end. He was traded that summer and they haven’t been back to the playoffs since.

From 2006 to 2012, Edmonton drafted 17 defensemen. The best was Jeff Petry, who’s in Montreal now. Today, the Oilers’ best veteran is probably the newly acquired Andrej Sekera. A solid player, sure. But certainly no threat to win the Norris Trophy. 

Which is why Oilers fans are so hopeful that 20-year-old Darnell Nurse, drafted seventh overall in 2013, can become a cornerstone defender, a la Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, etc.

It’s also why GM Peter Chiarelli doesn’t want to screw up Nurse’s development by throwing him into an NHL role too soon.

“For a defenseman, it is harder to break into the league properly,” Chiarelli said, per OilersNation.com. “With Dougie Hamilton (in Boston), he had a good strong core around him, and they are completely different players. Darnell is a defender and a puck transporter. He has a few more nuances to learn as far as defending, but I saw him play at the end of his playoffs and he played well. He has world class speed and strength.

“That is a hard one (whether Nurse is NHL ready). I want to be patient with these guys knowing that they are good young players and you’d like to have them help you as soon as you can.”

The Oilers have a few other promising defensive prospects, including Oscar Klefbom and Griffin Reinhart. They’re also still hoping Justin Schultz will realize the potential they see in him.

Bottom line: Without a much improved defense, even Connor McDavid will find it tough to bring the glory back to Edmonton.

Related: Todd McLellan is under pressure

Subban working out with former Olympian Ben Johnson

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In an effort to improve his speed and agility, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has enlisted the help of former Olympian Ben Johnson.

“We started working together three times a week, but we’ve gone down to two a week,” Johnson told TSN. “I don’t want to overload his muscles. He’s doing strength and acceleration and some agility. He’s going to be even better, even faster next year.”

Subban is coming off of a strong season where he recorded 60 points and averaged 26:12 minutes per contest. He finished third in Norris Trophy voting behind only Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson.

Subban declined to speak to TSN about his training and agent Don Meehan speculated that it was in an effort to protect Johnson from media scrutiny. Johnson won the gold medal for the men’s 100 meters in the 1988 Olympics, but lost the medal due to a positive steroids test. The International Amateur Athletics Federation banned him for life in 1993 following a positive test for excess testosterone. He was able to return in 1999 due to procedural errors only to once again fail a drug test.

Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension

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Kings center Anze Kopitar is “in the early stages of negotiations for what will probably be a lengthy contract extension,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Kopitar, along with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, headline the top pending unrestricted free agents of next summer. Also in that group are Eric Staal, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Kesler, Jakub Voracek, Brent Seabrook and Milan Lucic.

For the Kings, if Kopitar re-signs, it’ll be another long-term contract on the books. Los Angeles currently has seven players locked up through at least 2019-20.

Kopitar, 27, will almost certainly become the Kings’ highest cap hit. At present, that belongs to Drew Doughty, at $7 million through 2018-19.

Related: Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar are the Selke Trophy finalists

The Price is Right: Habs’ goaltender wins Hart Memorial Trophy

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Carey Price is the 2015 winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Price becomes the first goaltender since 2002 to win both Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy.

The 27-year-old is also the first goaltender since Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998 to win the Vezina Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.

Price is first goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Ted Lindsay and Jennings.

It’s the first MVP award for Price who helped the Canadiens earn the top seed in the Atlantic Division despite Montreal finishing 20th overall in goals for per game during the regular season.

“It’s coming together,” Price told NHL.com on Tuesday. “It’s always been a process. A lot of goaltenders my age have already had a lot of success. I feel like my career is progressing in the right direction, but I’m still looking for what I ultimately want.”

Price led the league in wins (44), G.A.A. (1.96) and save percentage (.933) during the 2014-15 season.

“I think the biggest thing is I was trying to focus more on being successful as opposed to focusing on what I needed to do to be successful. That basic mindset was a big difference,” Price said of his MVP season. “[Stephane Waite] has definitely helped with that, my dad’s helped with that, but ultimately it takes the individual to accept that. Over the last couple of years, I think I’ve really done that.”

Price beat out New York Islanders’ captain John Tavares and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Here are the full voting results:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)
1. Carey Price, MTL 1498 (139-14-2-0-0)
2. Alex Ovechkin, WSH 888 (8-75-45-18-4)
3. John Tavares, NYI 739 (4-41-63-27-16)
4. Devan Dubnyk, MIN 410 (6-16-25-30-23)
5. Sidney Crosby, PIT 138 (0-2-3-25-34)
6. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA 124 (0-2-6-20-20)
7. Rick Nash, NYR 70 (0-1-4-9-16)
8. Pekka Rinne, NSH 49 (0-2-4-4-3)
9. Erik Karlsson, OTT 32 (0-1-1-5-5)
10. Jonathan Toews, CHI 31 (0-1-3-2-3)
11. Steven Stamkos, TBL 29 (0-1-0-5-7)
12. Jamie Benn, DAL 23 (0-0-0-5-8)
13. Jiri Hudler, CGY 16 (0-1-0-3-0)
14. Vladimir Tarasenko, STL 14 (0-0-0-3-5)
15. Andrew Hammond, OTT 9 (0-0-0-1-6)
16. P.K. Subban, MTL 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
17. Drew Doughty, LAK 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
18. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Braden Holtby, WSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Zach Parise, MIN 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Shea Weber, NSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Here are the MVP-winners and the second-place guys since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2015 Carey Price, Mtl. Alex Ovechkin, Wsh.
2014 Sidney Crosby, Pit. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana.
2013 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Sidney Crosby, Pit.
2012 Evgeni Malkin, Pit. Steven Stamkos, T.B.
2011 Corey Perry, Ana. Daniel Sedin, Van.
2010 Henrik Sedin, Van. Alex Ovechkin, Wsh.
2009 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Evgeni Malkin, Pit.
2008 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Evgeni Malkin, Pit.
2007 Sidney Crosby, Pit. Roberto Luongo, Van.
2006 Joe Thornton, S.J. Jaromir Jagr, NYR
2004 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Jarome Iginla, Cgy.
2003 Peter Forsberg, Col. Markus Naslund, Van.
2002 Jose Theodore, Mtl. Jarome Iginla, Cgy.
2001 Joe Sakic, Col. Mario Lemieux, Pit.
2000 Chris Pronger, St.L Jaromir Jagr, Pit.
1999 Jaromir Jagr, Pit. Alexei Yashin, Ott.
1998 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Jaromir Jagr, Pit.
1997 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Paul Kariya, Ana.
1996 Mario Lemieux, Pit. Mark Messier, NYR
1995 Eric Lindros, Phi. Jaromir Jagr, Pit.
1994 Sergei Fedorov, Det. Dominik Hasek, Buf.
1993 Mario Lemieux, Pit. Doug Gilmour, Tor.
1992 Mark Messier, NYR Patrick Roy, Mtl.
1991 Brett Hull, St.L Wayne Gretzky, L.A.
1990 Mark Messier, Edm. Ray Bourque, Bos.

Karlsson claims Norris Trophy for the second time

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For the second time in four years, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is the Norris Trophy winner.

When it comes to contributing offensively, no blueliner has been better than him in recent years. Karlsson has led all defensemen in terms of points in three of the last four campaigns, including his 21 goals and 66 points in 82 contests this season. He’s also a workhorse, averaging 27:15 minutes per game in 2014-15.

The battle for the Norris Trophy was a fierce one though. Karlsson came out ahead with 964 votes, but Drew Doughty finished just shy with 889 and P.K. Subban was a strong third with 801 votes.

Here are the voting results for the award, cutting off at the top 10:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT 964 (44-42-33-19-8)
2. Drew Doughty, LAK 889 (53-30-20-13-10)
3. P.K. Subban, MTL 801 (24-36-38-37-8)
4. Shea Weber, NSH 614 (26-19-28-20-21)
5. Roman Josi, NSH 222 (3-9-11-17-23)
6. Mark Giordano, CGY 177 (1-6-11-15-25)
7. Duncan Keith, CHI 134 (1-7-4-12-19)
8. Kris Letang, PIT 80 (1-2-6-6-8)
9. Ryan Suter, MIN 43 (2-0-0-4-11)
10. John Carlson, WSH 31 (0-1-1-6-1)

Here’s a list of the Norris winners and the second highest vote-getters since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2015 Erik Karlsson, Ott. Drew Doughty, L.A
2014 Duncan Keith, Chi. Zdeno Chara, Bos.
2013 P.K. Subban, Mtl. Ryan Suter, Min.
2012 Erik Karlsson, Ott. Shea Weber, Nsh.
2011 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Shea Weber, Nsh.
2010 Duncan Keith, Chi. Mike Green, Wsh.
2009 Zdeno Chara, Bos. Mike Green, Wsh.
2008 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Dion Phaneuf, Cgy.
2007 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Scott Niedermayer, Ana.
2006 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Scott Niedermayer, Ana.
2004 S. Niedermayer, N.J. Zdeno Chara, Ott.
2003 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Al MacInnis, St.L
2002 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Chris Chelios, Det.
2001 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Ray Bourque, Col.
2000 Chris Pronger, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Al MacInnis, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Rob Blake, L.A Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1997 Brian Leetch, NYR Vlad. Konstantinov, Det.
1996 Chris Chelios, Chi. Ray Bourque, Bos.
1995 Paul Coffey, Det. Chris Chelios, Chi.
1994 Ray Bourque, Bos. Scott Stevens, N.J.
1993 Chris Chelios, Chi. Ray Bourque, Bos.
1992 Brian Leetch, NYR Ray Bourque, Bos.
1991 Ray Bourque, Bos. Al MacInnis, Cgy.
1990 Ray Bourque, Bos. Al MacInnis, Cgy.