The Canucks have signed 23-year-old goaltender Joacim Eriksson (originally a Flyers pick). He put up ridiculous numbers in the SEL last year. At the least, he will battle for starting time in the AHL with Lack. And he could find himself backing up Schneider in Vancouver.
Alain Vigneault is likely heading to the Rangers - he is a great coach and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has there. In Vancouver, he did a great job creating offensive opportunities and roles for his go-to scorers (Sedins/Burrows/Kesler) while burying his defensive players and checkers with really tough minutes and defensive zone starts (Lapierre/Malhotra).
There is word that Messier could join the staff as an assistant, but that is just a rumour at this point.
Sounds like Nathan Horton is good to go for Game 2.
The #1 item on the agenda this summer for Dean Lombardi – trade Jonathan Bernier.
According to TSN, 10 teams have inquired about Bernier already.
Lombardi had good reasons to hang onto Bernier for the last few years. The GM’s philosophy is to build from the net out. With both Quick and Bernier signed for dirt cheap, he had two good options in net for $3 million total. That set up a competition for the #1 spot that pushed both goalies to improve, and also gave him insurance in case of injury. (You don’t have to sell fans who survived Fukufuji and the Year of Five Goalies on the importance of that.)
The Flyers and Giroux are talking extension. How much, and for how long? Eight years and $8 million per?
Giroux has one year left on his deal so he can officially be extended as of July 5th (much like Geno Malkin, whose extension kicks in officially on July 5th).
Here is a very in-depth review of Joe Pavelski’s 2013 season – the Sharks are going to have to pony up to keep him under contract.
On a club that finished 28th in the league in even-strength goal-scoring, Pavelski was one of just two forwards (one of fifty league-wide) to score an average of at least one goal per 60 5v5 minutes played. Impressively, Pavelski ranks 28th in the league in even-strength goal scoring rate since 2009, ahead of stars like Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Nathan Horton.
The NHL announced some award winners on a Friday at 5pm because… it’s the NHL.
Alfredsson – Messier Leadership Award
Shero – GM of the year
Toews – Selke Trophy
MacLean – Jack Adams (top coach)
Harding – Masterton (very deserving)
St. Louis – Lady Byng
A minor trade to announce – Bobby Butler from Nashville to Florida in exchange for TJ Brennan. Brennan was reasonably productive in Florida after coming over from Buffalo last year.
Butler is a borderline NHL player at best – Brennan, too. This clears the logjam in Florida a bit for Colby Robak and Alex Petrovic.
Today’s team to analyze – the Vancouver Canucks
2013-14 sleeper pick: Nicklas Jensen
The Canucks are going to be younger this coming season. They want to have an infusion of rookies into the lineup, and that is one reason why Alain Vigneault wasn’t brought back (in addition to both sides needing a fresh start). The team will likely look for a coach who can balance the veteran focus of the roster with a focus on teaching and having patience with younger players.
Jensen is NHL ready. He won’t be a top line forward right off the hop, but he should be a productive player this season. He’s big, strong, and a pretty good skater. For playing style – a much less skilled Rick Nash isn’t a bad comparison. He is similar to Nash in how he can lug the puck around the ice and protect it, and he has really good hands a phenomenal wrist shot.
Long term sleeper pick: Joseph LaBate
There isn’t much depth in Vancouver’s prospect pool, but LaBate is one of the ‘B’ level prospects worth watching. He had a great finish to his sophomore season at Wisconsin (he’s returning for another season, so he won’t be turning pro until at least next summer). LaBate is a big and lanky winger with a great shot and solid overall offensive instincts.
The aforementioned strong finish:
As for LaBate himself, his season mirrored that of his team. He was slow out of the gates, grabbing just two assists in his first 12 games before catching on fire with 21 points in his final 29 games.
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane underwent surgery to remove pressure from a nerve in his left foot Thursday.
"Kind of have to let that rest for about three to four weeks," Kane told the Jets website. "Then hopefully start getting back on the ice pretty soon here, and that way I can stop feeling like I'm a house hockey player and kind of get back to being the player that I know I can be, so I'm looking forward to that."
This probably won’t affect him much next year or beyond, but it’s worth watching, as it does cut into his training significantly.
Chris Osgood is mentoring Peter Mrazek – I know Justin Goldman will like reading this. He’s a huge Osgood fan.
Mrazek, 21, made a very favorable first impression with the Wings when he delivered a 5-1 victory in his debut back in February. Part of what Osgood has tried to teach Mrazek is puck-handling, something at which Osgood excelled.
“He’s got all the attributes, he just needs to add a few things and grow before he’ll be in Detroit,” Osgood said. “I work with him on foot speed, on getting him to come out of the blue paint and challenge more. But he’s good. And he corrects himself. You don’t have to tell him over and over.”
Here’s a pretty lengthy (and good) interview with Caps wunder-prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov.
When you get 50 points in one season and everyone praises and loves you, and then next year you score 55 points and everyone’s like “Boo, what a freak! He can’t play! He’s got a big head!” How is that? I didn’t play below my level. Were you waiting for me to score 100 points? Well, I’m sorry, I’m not Datsyuk, Malkin, Ovechkin, or Kovalchuk.
The interview is obviously translated, which makes for some funny wording in certain cases (like ‘freak’ in the above quote).
David Rundblad, once considered the top defensive prospect in hockey (or very close to it), may be headed to the KHL next season.
Personally, I think this is more of a bargaining tool in order to secure a one-way deal in Phoenix. We will see.
Rundblad was traded from Ottawa for Kyle Turris (stroke of genius by Bryan Murray), and he hasn’t really established himself for the Coyotes at all. Big, great skater, tons of upside, but he hasn’t put it together yet.
Vancouver’s new AHL team – the Utica Comets – I really dig these jerseys. Utica is close to Syracuse – should be a nice rivalry there next year.
10 Nutrition tips for June – carb cycling, food to help with recovery, the brown or white rice debate, and more benefits of coffee.