Posts Tagged ‘NHL draft’

Top Line: Brent Seabrook ban coming; Wild look silly vs. whiz kid; more links

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By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

• The St. Louis Blues got payback the smart way after a vicious cheap shot by Brent Seabrook left captain David Backes crumpled in the corner in the dying minutes of Game 2. Just a brain-dead play by the veteran defender … and not a real good look on Jonathan Toews, either. I expect a little more from him than to be seen chirping the obviously dazed Backes.

• Honestly, we can’t be surprised at this point to hear that Seabrook will have a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety, meaning his suspension won’t top five games. If a hit as dangerous, as injurious and as blatantly offensive to common sense as that doesn’t merit a more serious response, it’s time to dismantle the department and start from scratch.

• They’re even questioning the dirty, stupid play of the Blackhawks in Chicago after this one. What does that tell you?

• It’s not often I get to link to the great Michael Enright in this column, but his essay on the complicity of the NHL in the build-up of hockey violence fits nicely today.

• Nathan MacKinnon’s nickname is silly, but not as silly as he’s making the Wild look in his NHL playoff debut. Gotta hand it to this kid. The bigger the game, the better he plays.

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  • Published On Apr 20, 2014
  • Sam Bennett tops Central Scouting’s final rankings for 2014 NHL Draft

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    By Allan Muir

    Central Scouting raised a few eyebrows when it named Kingston Frontenacs center Sam Bennett as the top prospect for this year’s draft in their midseason rankings.

    No one is surprised to see him there again.

    That’s not to say that the Toronto native, who scored 36 goals and 91 points for the Fronts, is universally regarded as the best choice, but the 6′-1″ pivot did nothing to sway his staunch supporters away from their position.

    “There are guys who elevate their game when it matters most, and you’re looking to project which players will do that consistently at the next level,” NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “The guys we have at the top all are in that mold, but when we look at Sam Bennett we see a guy who could potentially have a Jonathan Toews type of career.”

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  • Published On Apr 08, 2014
  • Top Line: NHL expansion talk cools; changes coming to draft?; more links

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    Seattle skyline

    If Seattle’s lucky, it will be three years before the NHL thinks seriously about awarding it a team. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • David Shoalts slaps Seattle’s NHL dreamers in the face with this piece that suggests expansion talk has almost no traction at league headquarters.

    • Maybe this will cheer them up. Sounds like the efforts by the Panthers’ new owner to cadge millions from local government are not being well received. Can’t blame Broward County officials for putting the kibosh on a proposal that would cost millions.

    • Reports suggest that the NHL is considering further changes to the draft lottery that would make picks beyond the No. 1 choice subject to the whims of the numbered balls.

    • It was reported over that weekend that America’s Next Top Prospect, Jack Eichel, had reconfirmed his commitment to Boston University, but now it appears that he’s not ruling out the QMJHL … at least, not until after the upcoming Under-18 World Championship. Some fascinating wheels in motion here. I still think he winds up at BU, but the fact that Saint John GM Darrell Young is spending time with the Eichel family and Jack’s advisers makes it clear that this situation is far more fluid than the Terriers would like.

    • On Monday night, the Bruins managed to do something they’ve never done before against the Wild.

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  • Published On Mar 18, 2014
  • Sympathy for the Devils: NHL softens team’s Ilya Kovalchuk penalty

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    Lou Lamoriello and Ilya Kovalchuk

    The Devils have dodged a financial and draft bullet for their contract chicanery with Ilya Kovalchuk. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Well, now we think we know why Lou Lamoriello didn’t cough up the 29th overall draft pick in 2012.

    The fix was already in.

    What else are we supposed to read into today’s asinine decision by the NHL to rescind two elements of the punishment it imposed on Lamoriello’s New Jersey Devils for circumventing salary cap rules with a front-loaded 17-year contract for Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010?

    The league sent a clear message that year by fining the Devils $3 million, and forcing them to forfeit a third round pick in 2011 as well as a first rounder in one of next four drafts, that it would not tolerate contracts tailored to unreasonably lessen cap hits late in the deal’s term. It was a harsh sanction at the time, especially since there were no specific rules prohibiting that type of activity in the CBA, but it was widely applauded around the league because, hey, no one likes a chiseler, am I right?

    And then, four years later, we get this. Today it was revealed that the league has rescinded $1.5 million of the fine and, instead of stripping that first rounder, it will now force the Devils to select 30th overall in the 2014 draft.

    Really? What kind of Mickey Mouse decision is that?

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  • Published On Mar 06, 2014
  • UPDATED: John Tavares out for season after Sochi knee injury

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    John Tavares of Team Canada suffers a leg injury in Sochi Olympics.

    Canadians as well as Islanders fans have to be worried after seeing John Tavares go down and out of the Games. (AP)

    By Allan Muir

    UPDATED: Early this morning, Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported that a post-game MRI on Tavares revealed a torn MCL and torn meniscus. The injury will force the 23-year-old to the sidelines for the remainder of the NHL season.

    Tavares reportedly will undergo surgery upon his return to New York. He’s expected to be ready when training camp opens in September.

    Despite a roster that features 11 of the NHL’s top-25 scorers, Team Canada can’t seem to buy a goal at the Olympics … and things won’t get any easier. In the press conference after his team’s narrow 2-1 win over Latvia, Canadian coach Mike Babcock confirmed that John Tavares suffered a leg injury and will be lost for the remainder of the tournament.

    The injury occurred when Tavares collided with Latvian defenseman Arturs Kulda in the second period. He did not return for the third.

    Tavares had been used primarily in a fourth-line role for Canada, but as the NHL’s third-leading scorer with 66 points, he clearly had the potential to assume heavier duty if asked.

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  • Published On Feb 19, 2014
  • Top Line: Pressure getting to Ovechkin; T.J. Oshie fun facts; more links

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    Alex Ovechkin of Team Russia at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

    Alex Ovechkin, Russia’s centerpiece star, has only one goal and one assist through four games. (David E. Klutho/SI)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • The Russians advanced on Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Norway, but is the Olympic spotlight too bright for Alex Ovechkin? Expected to lead his team to glory, he’s been struggling under the pressure.

    • Because America cannot get enough of T.J. Oshie, here are 10 things you maybe didn’t know about the Olympic hero.

    • It appears that Jonathan Quick will have to make the save next time. The IIHF is changing the rule that bailed out the Americans in Saturday’s thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over Team Russia.

    • Meet Sidney Crosby and Shea Weber, ping pong hustlers.

    • A little of the killer instinct that Crosby shows with a paddle would go a long way for Sid right about now.

    • Team Canada coach Mike Babcock has named his starting goalie for the must-win quarterfinal match on Wednesday. And the netminder is well prepared for this responsibility.

    • Team Canada ran some new lines in practice this morning. Will this be the magic formula that Babcock has been searching for?

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  • Published On Feb 18, 2014
  • Aaron Ekblad tops NACS’s midseason NHL draft rankings

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    Aaron Ekblad of the OHL's Barrie Colts

    Aaron Ekblad is one of only three under-aged players who have been admitted early to the OHL. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Central Scouting announced this week that it rates Kingston center Sam Bennett as the top prospect available for the 2014 NHL Draft. TSN draft expert Craig Button followed up by listing Kootenay center Sam Reinhart atop his list.

    And North American Central Scouting? They like Aaron Ekblad.

    “He’s so smart, very cerebral” Mark Seidel, chief scout for NACS, said of the 6′-5″, 205-pound defender for the OHL Barrie Colts. “He plays better in big games, [he has a] bomb from the point [and] is very mature. [He shows] tremendous poise, excellent leadership.”

    Ekblad, who will captain Team Orr at tonight’s CHL Top Prospects Game, is coming off a strong, but unspectacular under-aged turn at the World Junior Championship. He earned the faith of coach Brent Sutter and handled a much heavier workload than any 17-year-old defenseman has in years for Team Canada. He’s nowhere near as smooth as Seth Jones, the defender who topped last year’s midseason rankings, but he’s mobile, good with the puck, and capable of handling a shutdown role. That’s exactly the sort of player that most teams, outside of the defense-prospect heavy Buffalo Sabres, wouldn’t mind using a top pick to acquire.

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  • Published On Jan 15, 2014
  • Top Line: How to stop Alex Ovechkin; Stamkos nearing return; more links

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    Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals

    Alex Ovechkin is leading the NHL with 33 goals, but at least one team has slowed him down of late. (AP)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • A pair of Penguins (and future Team USA defense partners) discuss the secrets to shutting the door on Alex Ovechkin. Some interesting insights here ahead of the Wednesday Night Rivalry game between Pittsburgh and the Capitals.

    • The Penguins will set a new club record with a win tonight.

    • Washington’s much-maligned defense has turned a corner, allowing two goals or fewer in three straight games. Problem is, that success has come at the expense of the team’s offense.

    • Capitals coach Adam Oates isn’t really comparing Tom Wilson to Joe Thornton, is he?

    • Steven Stamkos is not ready to offer a target date just yet, and he says he still feels a lot of discomfort with certain movements, but all signs point to a pre-Olympic return to action for him.

    • Another night, another milestone point for Jaromir Jagr. It was a pretty significant night for Martin Brodeur, too, in what might have been his final game in Montreal.

    • The Stars’ Shawn Horcoff blames the Bruins for Tyler Seguin’s behavior in Boston. Sure. Seems reasonable.

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  • Published On Jan 15, 2014
  • Surprise for 2014 NHL Draft: Central Scouting moves Sam Bennett to No. 1

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    Sam Bennett is now projected as the top NHL draft pick for 2014.

    Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs is now No. 1, but for how long? (Claus Anderson/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    If you watched the 2014 World Junior Championship tournament, you probably came away with the impression that the top pick in the 2014 NHL Draft would come down to forward Sam Reinhart or defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Both excelled while playing significant roles for Team Canada, seemingly securing their places at the top of the draft board.

    But it turns out that the biggest prize of this year’s class might not have been in Malmo, Sweden, at all.

    Central Scouting raised that possibility this morning when it announced that Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett now holds the No. 1 spot in its midterm rankings.

    Bennett, a 17-year-old 6-foot, 178-pound center, has 26 goals and 66 points through 40 games, good for fourth overall in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race.

    “Bennett has not only been very noticeable but extremely effective every shift of every game so far this season,” Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards told NHL.com. “His puckhandling and playmaking are excellent and he has one of the best shots in this year’s draft class. He has scored several goals from the high slot and coming in off the wing and has been very effective on the power play. He’s a player that can play in all situations, elevate his game and rise to the occasion.”

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  • Published On Jan 13, 2014
  • Czechs join Canada in imposing foreign-born player roster restrictions

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    Milan Michalek

    Milan Michalek (No. 6, San Jose, 2003) is the highest-drafted Czech league player of the last 10 years. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It turns out that Canada isn’t the only country suffering a crisis of hockey confidence.

    Just weeks after the Canadian Hockey League drew scorn for its decision to block European goaltenders from the circuit as a means of creating additional opportunities and, hopefully, developing the next generation of elite stoppers, the Czech Republic’s Extraliga is following suit.

    According to a piece on iihf.com, the Extraliga is ready to enact strict roster restrictions, starting with the 2013-14 season.

    All 14 teams will be limited to six “import licenses” that they can use throughout the season. As soon as a non-Czech player is added to the roster, he uses up a license whether or not he actually plays.

    If there’s a Czech version of Don Cherry, he’s probably smiling. At least in principle. The truth is, the Extraliga doesn’t draw a lot of foreign players. You’ll see the occasional Slovak or Russian, but this isn’t about repelling the infidels. This is about taking a stand.

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  • Published On Jul 29, 2013


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