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2022 NHL Pro Try-Out (PTO) Tracker

This tracker updates every time an NHLer signed to a Professional Try-Out (PTO) agreement for training camp is signed to a contract or released.

Last updated: 10/9/22

NamePosAge2021-22 TeamPTO TeamResult
Nathan BeaulieuD29Pittsburgh/WPG (NHL)Anaheim DucksSigned 10/1 (1x$850K)
Nikolas BrouillardD27San Diego (AHL)Anaheim DucksReleased 9/30
Brent GatesC25San Diego (AHL)Anaheim DucksReleased 9/30
Josh HealeyD28Milwaukee (AHL)Anaheim DucksReleased 9/30
Dmitri OsipovLW25Rockford (AHL)Anaheim DucksReleased 10/2
Rocco GrimaldiW29Milwaukee (AHL)Anaheim Ducks
Chris GibsonG29Charlotte (AHL)Arizona CoyotesReleased 9/29
Alex ChiassonRW31Vancouver (NHL)Arizona CoyotesReleased 10/9
Cody EakinC31Buffalo (NHL)Calgary FlamesReleased 10/6
Sonny MilanoLW26Anaheim (NHL)Calgary FlamesReleased 10/6
Michael StoneRD32Calgary (NHL)Calgary Flames
Derek StepanC32Carolina (NHL)Carolina Hurricanes
Grigori DronovLD24Metallurg (KHL)Carolina HurricanesSigned 10/3 (1x$750K)
Calvin De HaanRD31Chicago (NHL)Carolina HurricanesSigned 10/1 (1x$850K)
Liam HawelC23St. Francis (USports)Columbus Blue JacketsReleased 9/29
James NealW34Springfield (AHL)Columbus Blue JacketsReleased 10/3
Victor RaskC29Minnesota (NHL)Columbus Blue JacketsReleased 10/5
Ben HarpurLD27Nashville (NHL)Columbus Blue JacketsReleased 10/9
Alex GalchenyukF28Arizona (NHL)Colorado AvalancheReleased 9/28 (inj.)
Jake VirtanenW26Spartak Moscow (KHL)Edmonton OilersReleased 10/6
Jason DemersRD34Ak Bars (KHL)Edmonton Oilers
Eric StaalC37Iowa (AHL)Florida Panthers
Jean-Francois BerubeG31Cleveland (AHL)Florida PanthersReleased 9/29
Nate ThompsonC37Philadelphia (NHL)Los Angeles KingsReleased 10/4
Zach SenyshynW25Boston/OTT (NHL)New Jersey DevilsSigned w/ AHL team 10/3
Thomas HickeyD33Ontario (AHL)New Jersey DevilsReleased 10/3
Jimmy VeseyW29New Jersey (NHL)New York RangersSigned 10/9 (1x$750K)
Matt BartkowskiD34Wilkes-Barre (AHL)New York Rangers
Michael Dal ColleW26Bridgeport (AHL)Ottawa SenatorsReleased 10/2
Derick BrassardF34Philadelphia/EDM (NHL)Ottawa Senators
Artem AnisimovC34Yaroslavl (KHL)Philadelphia Flyers
Antoine RousselW32Arizona (NHL)Philadelphia FlyersReleased 9/29
Scott HarringtonD29Columbus (NHL)San Jose SharksSigned 9/30 (1x$750K)
Daniel SprongW25Wash’ton/SEA (NHL)Seattle KrakenSigned 10/3 (1x$750K)
Tyler PitlickRW30Calgary/MTL (NHL)St. Louis Blues
Zach Aston-ReeseF28Anaheim/PIT (NHL)Toronto Maple LeafsSigned 10/9 (1x$840K)
Dylan FergusonG23Henderson (AHL)Toronto Maple Leafs
Danny DeKeyserLD32Detroit (NHL)Vancouver CanucksReleased 10/4
William RiedellLD25Ohio State (NCAA)Vegas Golden KnightsReleased 9/27
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The Scoring Touch’s 2022 NHL Entry Draft Consolidated Ranking

Via NHL.com

Picking out players for a mock draft last year was horrendous. I only got a few players right, some bold takes backfired on me hard, it was tough. Instead of a mock draft, I opted to do a consolidated list, where the teams whose own picks don’t matter, as I just rank the players 1-32. A ton of work went into it, and I welcome the idea of conversation, so please let me know if you agree, or disagree.

#1 – Shane Wright – C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

The best player in this 2022 Entry Draft hasn’t changed one bit, it’s Shane Wright. Wright has been challenged for the number one spot, but I won’t budge. Wright shows flashes of offensive greatness, with an outstanding shot and great vision. He has a great possibility of being a captain in the NHL one day as he shows leadership qualities and great compete. Many people are concerned with the production of Wright, with 32 goals and 62 assists for 94 points in 63 games. After a slow start, he put up around a 1.8 point-per-game pace in the second half of the year after being upgraded to Kingston’s 1st line center. Wright looks to be an immediate impact at the NHL level in his first year.

#2 – Logan Cooley – C – USNTDP (USHL)

Another amazing center, this time being Logan Cooley of the USNTDP. Cooley is this year’s top two-way center. While being an offensively skilled center, he maintains an all around defensive game. Having great faceoff numbers, and seeming to be all over the ice, many believe that Cooley has a high ceiling. In the USHL this season in 24 games, Cooley scored 13 goals, and added 23 assists for 36 points. In the U18s, he had 10 points in only six games. Logan Cooley has decided to take the college route, and will be an asset for the University of Minnesota for at least the next season.

#3 – Simon Nemec – RHD – HK Nitra (Slovak League)

The top ranked defender in this draft is Slovak defeseman Simon Nemec. He has the most stability, he can make plays under pressure, and has great offensive tools. He has a solid frame, being 6’1″, 192 lbs. Nemec has a great slap shot, but didn’t shoot as much in the regular season in the Slovak League. In 39 games, Simon scored a single goal, but added 25 assists. However in the playoffs, he scored five goals and 12 assists, for 17 points in 19 games. In draft interviews, Nemec confirmed that he would be making the move to North America to play next season, whether in the NHL or AHL, which could be attractive for some teams. While nothing super special about his game, he is one of the safest picks in the first round.

#4 – Juraj Slafkovsky – TPS (Liiga)

Probably the most polarizing player of the whole entire draft, Juraj Slafkovsky comes in at number four. He could go as high as the first pick, or as low as the fifth pick. The Olympic Slovak star might have one of the biggest cases of recency bias we’ve seen in a long time. One thing that always concerns me, is a player that struggles to score in their main league, but when it comes to the international stage, they light it up. A great example of this is Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt. Coming from high school and the USHL, after putting up okay numbers, but after an exceptional WJC-18 showing, he jumped to the eighth pick. Since then, he’s failed to be a consistent producer, and failed to do one pull up at the NHL Draft Combine. I’m not comparing the two players, because they are not similar at all, but the scenario could be a reality.

Slafkovsky has the tools to be a great power forward winger, his production needs to come, as his shot is lethal, and he can use his physicality and size to his advantage. Many compared him to now Stanley Cup champion, Mikko Rantanen, which is a very fair comparison, yet I believe Rantanen was more flashy in the Liiga, although finding clips from back them proved to be challenging.

#5 – David Jiricek – RHD – HC Plzen (Czechia League)

It hurts putting David Jiricek at number five, I love him as a player. He has arguably the highest ceiling in the draft, with elite offensive capabilities and a lock that can’t be picked when it comes to defense. It’s just a matter of if he can translate that game to North America. His way of playing defense is aggressive, which is something that you don’t typically see in the NHL with the growing speed of young forwards. He has a booming slap shot and can walk the blue line to perfection. Standing at 6’3″, and weighing in at 190 lbs, he has the frame many NHL scouts and executives find appealing.

#6 – Matthew Savoie – C – Winnipeg (WHL)

If Mat Savoie was given just two or three more inches in height, he could absolutely push to be a top-3 selection in this draft, as he stands at 5’9″ and weighs 180 lbs. He has the highest offensive ceiling out of every forward in the draft I believe, with great vision all over the ice, and outstanding hockey IQ. In 65 games this past season, he scored 35 goals and totaled 90 points. One major area of concern for Savoie would be his health. He’s dealt with multiple concussions throughout his entire junior career, making him one of the more risky picks in this draft.

#7 – Joakim Kemell – W – JYP (Liiga)

The best goal scorer in the draft is Joakim Kemell, from JYP of the Liiga. As a teenager, he has shown his goal scoring abilities throughout the season, and has made it apparent to teams in need of a goal scorer, that he is the guy. In 39 games in the Liiga this past season, Kemell scored 15 goals and totaled 23 points. A vast higher production rate than Juraj Slafkovsky. Kemell has an elite level shot and goal scoring ability, so whoever ends up taking him, will love the selection.

#8 – Frank Nazar – F – USNTDP (USHL)

The eighth best player in the draft in my eyes is Frank Nazar. Nazar is a speedy forward with great edge-work and an extremely creative player. In 24 games for the USNTDP this past season, Nazar recorded 15 goals and 35 total points. Frank Nazar is committed to the University of Michigan where he will look to be another flashy piece for Mel Pearson’s team. Standing at 5’10” and weighing 180 lbs, Nazar has a solid frame and can be a real good asset for any team in one to two years.

#9 – Jonathan Lekkerimaki – F – Djurgardens IF (SHL)

Since 2019, Djurgardens IF has had a first round pick in each draft. This includes Tobias Bjornfot in 2019, Alexander Holtz in 2020, and William Eklund in 2021. Safe to say, Jonathan Lekkerimaki will continue that streak. Lekkerimaki has a great hockey sense, and can play in almost any position you need him in. I see him as a potential riser who could go as high as #5, but should be a top-10 lock. He’s a natural goal scorer, most compare him to the likes of Vancouver Canucks young forward, Brock Boeser. He should absolutely go back to Sweden for a year or two, but you’ll get the best of his play as a center.

#10 – Marco Kasper – C – Rogle BK (SHL)

Back to back Swedes in the top-10, something that happened last year, when Simon Edvinsson and William Eklund were taken with picks six and seven. Marco Kasper is a late riser on my list, as something that truly stands out to me is his work ethic and the fight he puts up in the SHL to be a solid contributor to Rogle BK. He scores a lot of his goals in front of the net, jamming at loose pucks, doing anything he can to help his team. He works hard in the corners to win puck battles, and owns some very good leadership qualities. In 46 games in the SHL this past year, Kasper scored seven goals and added four assists for 11 points. The 6’2″, 187 lbs power forward could be another riser, as many NHL executives think fondly of him and his play.

#11 – Cutter Gauthier – C – USNTDP (USHL)

Another American born center, this time, Cutter Gauthier. A very popular pick amongst scouts in the NHL, Gauthier is a player with great size standing 6’3″, weighing in at 201 lbs. He commands the play with a 200 ft. game, very physical, and impressive in his interviews. He has a lot of potential to jump as high as number five or six, but with his true skill set, I believe he’ll fit in the 8-12 range. He will be getting some seasoning at Boston College, under new head coach, Greg Brown.

#12 – Ryan Chesley – RHD – USNTDP (USHL)

Probably one of my favorite defenseman in the draft behind David Jiricek, Ryan Chesley of the US National Team Development Program. Ryan Chesley is a popular player amongst his teammates. Many of them say he is the hardest defenseman to get around on the team. He has lots of characteristics of being a very solid top-4 to top pairing defenseman. Very reliable, plays a simple game, and is very positioned. Talking with many scouts, we all agree that Chesley is one of those players who isn’t made for junior hockey, but will succeed in the professional leagues. Standing 6’0″, and weighing in at 200 lbs., it makes too much sense for a team that needs some stability on the back end to take him higher than many have him placed. Chesley is committed to the University of Minnesota, a team with a history of developing great blue liners such as Nate Schmidt, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Lindgren.

#13 – Danila Yurov – W – Magnitogorsk (MHL)

What a tough player to crack when figuring out his ceiling and floor. The first Russian on the list, Danila Yurov is quite an interesting prospect. Skill level alone, he can easily be a top-7 pick in this draft. In my first write-up of the consolidated players list, Yurov ended up as the 3rd best player. Months later, in the midst of the Russian-Ukraine War, a battle for playing time, and much more hurdles, Yurov has faced many issues in his draft year. In the KHL, looking directly at the numbers, Yurov seems to be an easy-miss. No points in 21 games, he shouldn’t be anywhere near the top-20. Except, in those 21 games, he’s averaged less than four minutes on the ice, making it incredibly challenging to decide where he is right to be picked. He can find open areas on the ice and has a wicked shot. He has the tools, it’s just about the Russian factor. In the MHL, Yurov totaled 36 points in 23 games, scoring 13 goals. Yurov can fall, a lot, especially with the bone-chilling news the hockey world has learned about Flyers goaltending prospect, Ivan Fedotov and the Russian military. He’ll be a gamble, but he’s a great player.

#14 – Brad Lambert – F – JYP/Pelicans (Liiga)

Another player with a challenging year, Brad Lambert really did feel the pressure this season. Coming into this year, Lambert was a consensus second overall pick. As an under-ager in the Liiga, he scored seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 46 games for JYP. Fast forward to this season, between JYP and then a mid season trade to the Pelicans, he scored four goals, six assists for 10 points in a total of 49 games. He has a skill set to be a great player at the next level, but he’s still a gamble. He isn’t the fastest skater, and he seems lazy and unmotivated at times, but I bring up the point to scouts that haven’t played much hockey that when it comes to some players, when things aren’t going right, they really aren’t going right. He could easily be a top-6 forward, but the biggest challenge will be finding his confidence again.

#15 – Conor Geekie – C – Winnipeg (WHL)

Conor Geekie is yet another weird player. Taller in size, standing at 6’4″, Geekie has many critics in the scouting department. He’s been criticized for his skating, his lengthiness, and his hockey IQ. I think those who can push that aside are getting a solid player, one who wants to improve, but is also very self-aware of his play. He will no doubt need some time to season in either the WHL or AHL. The two year route for WHL seems to make the most sense. In 63 games, he assisted 46 times and scored a total of 70 points. Before you ask, yes, he is the younger brother of Seattle Kraken forward Morgan Geekie, and he does have another brother Noah, who plays division II baseball. One player I do see a lot in him is Brian Boyle, who was never an elite talent, but made his career in the NHL last.

#16 – Denton Mateychuk – LHD – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Denton Mateychuk is becoming a favorite for me. Mateychuk might be one of the most mature prospects in this draft. He holds accountability in the locker room, and on the ice, but that on its own isn’t enough to be a top end draft pick. Mateychuk is an excellent skater who has great defensive capabilities. He has decent size at 5’11”, and can play a physical brand of hockey. He handles the puck so well, and can be such an important piece to any team building from the back-end up.

#17 – Liam Ohgren – W – Djurgardens IF (SHL)

Another player coming from the Djurgardens system, Liam Ohgren is a very skilled player. Ohgren is a speedy and skilled winger, owning a 200 ft. game. His vision on the ice is some of the best in the draft, as he can throw a slick pass to a teammate for an easy tap-in. His offensive skill makes him one of the biggest potential risers in the draft. In 25 SHL games this season, he only tallied two points, but in the J20 Nationell, he scored 33 goals and racked up 58 points. He can easily jump up a few spots, but his lack of SHL production keeps him away from the top-15.

#18 – Isaac Howard – W – USNTDP (USHL)

Yet another USNTDP graduate, Isaac Howard should be a lot higher with his offensive tools. He won’t be the most defensive-responsible on the team, but his goal scoring makes up for it. He has a deceptive shot, beating goalies clean. He has a nose for the net, and benefits easily off powerplays where he can make quick passes and help any cycle game. He’s said it himself, he’s a hungry goal scorer, no amount will satisfy him. He has a lot of Kyle Connor traits, but we think he’s still a lot better. Howard will be playing next season at University of Minnesota-Duluth, so he will be playing where Alex Iafallo once reigned supreme.

#19 – Pavel Mintyukov – LHD – Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Pavel Mintyukov. I believe that in the NHL, you don’t win with defensemen who don’t play defense. You can probably notice a certain defenseman who has fallen, a lot. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mintyukov has offensive talent, this guy posted 62 points in 67 OHL games. His core problem, like previously stated, is his defensive play. He seems lost a lot in his d-zone, chasing a hit or losing a guy. He’s going to need two to three years of seasoning in the OHL or AHL, but I also give him benefit of the doubt because talking to scouts, the system Saginaw plays is very aggressive, which isn’t always suitable for defenders.

#20 – Noah Ostlund – C – Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)

Another smart Swedish player, Noah Ostlund cracks the top-20. Ostlund is a very capable forward. He has the speed and skating ability to make it at the NHL-level, he can play a dynamic cycle game, where like Isaac Howard, he can make quick seem passes, and fool opponents. One thing about his game however, is that he plays a perimeter game, where in the NHL, players with his skill level fight in tight for the puck. He played 11 SHL games but failed to register a point. In the J20 Nationell, he scored nine goals, 33 assists, and amounted to 42 points.

#21 – Jiri Kulich – C – HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czech League)

Jiri Kulich is another one of my favorite prospects for this draft. I changed my mind about him before the U18s where he truly shined for 11 points in six games, but afterwards, that solidified my projection. In the Czech League, he scored nine goals and added five assists for 14 points in 49 games. Kulich can be a two-way center who brings intensity and leadership. I see him as a middle-6 center, a very capable third line center, but not a black hole if needed to be bumped up. He can also play the wing, but he’s a better player down the middle. Kulich is another potential steal, as his ability to play a two-way game, and still be a solid point producer, will look well to NHL scouts.

#22 – Filip Mesar – F – HK Poprad (Slovak League)

Filip Mesar is a highly skilled winger who stood out for the silver medal-winning Slovakian team at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. He’s a great puck carrier that has a lot of skill when it comes to the offensive zone. He’s slick and has smooth skating, has great vision when looking for potential passes, but also knows when to shoot, something very valuable in the NHL. Playing in the Slovak League, Mesar tallied eight goals, eight assists, for 16 points in 37 games. Not terrible, as he can be a value pick, for a team that wants to mold a prospect with raw talent into a solid top-6 playmaker.

#23 – Rutger McGroarty – C – USNTDP (USHL)

Coming from Lincoln, Nebraska, Rutger McGroarty is another power forward from the US National Team Development Program. He has an NHL-ready shot and doesn’t need a ton of space to let it rip. However, that won’t stop him from finding space on the ice where he can work his magic. A combination of his shot, size, and hockey sense makes him a player that many should keep an eye on, as he could go higher. Scouts believe that his skating could use improvement, a common theme in this draft. Committed to the University of Michigan, McGroarty will look to balance his game and work out the small kinks in his game.

#24 – Owen Pickering – LHD – Swift Current Broncos (OHL)

Thanks to his 6’5″ frame, Owen Pickering has jumped up many draft boards from the later rounds, to the late first round, or second round. Yes, one NHL General Manager will see that size and believe that he’ll be a Norris candidate one day, but his game is tricky. After talking to scouts, I’ve learned that he only recently had a growth spurt, adding five or so inches to his height. This may explain why he only weighs 179 lbs. He’s aware of what’s being said about him, but he needs time to simmer in the junior league. To be confident in him, an organization with a good dietetics team should take the chance, assuring that before he plays one NHL game, he adds 20 or so pounds. Besides that, he uses his long reach for stick checks, but is questionable when it comes to a physical game. He’s also the cousin of potential first rounder, Denton Mateychuk. He’s an athletic player, also playing baseball, but he will get his chance to play in the show, but his development is extremely important.

#25 – Jagger Firkus – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Talk about going from extreme to extreme, moving from a 6’5″ defenseman, to a 5’10” forward. Jagger Firkus is an exceptional offensive player. 80 points, 36 goals, in 66 games for Moose Jaw. His weight is concerning. 154 lbs. only. That scares scouts, as adding 20 lbs only gets him to around 175. Yes, smaller players are thriving in the NHL as of recently, but when it comes to weight, they get thrown around. Firkus has the talent to be in the first round, no doubt. A team has to take their chance with someone this size, as it may keep him from playing there for a few years.

#26 – Jimmy (James) Snuggerud – F – USNTDP (USHL)

Jimmy Snuggerud is a player that can literally go anywhere in this draft. I’ve seen him as high as 11, I’ve seen him around 16/17. I have him at 26, obviously. Snuggerud can be an offensive weapon. He has a great shot, and relies heavily on his IQ to read plays. He has a larger frame, standing at 6’2″, and is in the works of developing a great two-way game. Following the many great two-way players in this draft, he’ll be taking his talents to the University of Minnesota next season. For the USNTDP this past season, Snuggerud scored six goals and notched 20 apples. I would like to see him shoot a lot more, something that can almost easily be worked on. He’ll be a name to watch come draft time.

#27 – Kevin Korchinski – LHD – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

To some of the readers not familiar with my work, this will come as a major surprise. To my common followers, this won’t be one at all. Yes, Kevin Korchinski will absolutely go higher than 24, there isn’t a doubt in my mind. As he should, he’s a great offensive tool to have on the back-end. He assisted on goals 61 times in the WHL this past season. He’s a good player, don’t get me wrong, but you won’t see me at any of his fan club gatherings. As I’ve previously stated, I don’t believe you win in the NHL with no-defense defenseman. Of course, it’s the offensive blue liners who get the Norris votes. I don’t believe Korchinski has much of a defensive game, or has the desire to develop one. I hope he proves me wrong, and goes into the NHL and kills it. For now, I’m low on him, and I hope he embarrasses me five years down the road.

#28 – Lian Bichsel – LHD – Leksands IF (SHL)

Another 6’5″ defenseman, Lian Bichsel has been lethal in the SHL for Leksands IF. The Swiss d-man is a physically demanding player, almost someone who you see across the ice and fear for your life. He weighs 225 lbs., which is nice knowing he’s grown into his body. He isn’t a special player offensively, so teams looking for a puck mover should probably look away. He’ll use another year or so in the SHL before coming to North America where he’ll be a feared defenseman for years to come.

#29 – Lane Hutson – LHD – USNTDP (USHL)

What a character Lane Hutson is. I’ll start off by saying how his teammates love him in the locker room, which is always a good sign when selecting someone of his caliber. He has never-ending energy, he’s always smiling, and it affects his teammates in a positive way. Now onto his play. He has elite offensive ability, as he seems to skate and move the puck at great speed. His defense is pretty solid too, he spent his time in the USNTDP playing with Ryan Chesley. They made great partners. If he’s so good, why is he at 26? Well, many are aware that he’s 5’8″ and weighs 160 lbs. According to sources, he did bring in a doctors report stating that he can grow to 5’10”, which I thought left great impressions on scouts and General Managers. He will be playing next year over at Boston University, so yet another collegiate player playing in Massachusetts.

#30 – Ivan Miroschnichenko – W – Omskie Krylia (VHL)

Earlier in the season, Ivan Miroschnichenko was ranked as the 2nd best player in this draft on my board. I was very high on him. Good shot, good passing, every aspect of the offensive game, he had. Unfortunately, many know his downfall had been his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Doctors have cleared him to continue his hockey career, but the risk has grown significant, especially being overseas in Russia. He has elite skating, and with all his assets, probably has the best all-around offensive game this draft has to offer. I believe a team, who has a great prospect pool, and a great team, will take a risk pick here. He deserves it. He’s battled hard, and has come a long way.

#31 – Jack D. Hughes – C – Northeastern Univ. (NCAA)

I get it, the production, or the lack there of, has been a concern for a lot of scouts. I believe there is more to Jack D. Hughes’ offensive game than what he showed this year. In 39 games, he scored seven times and added nine assists for 16 points. Not outstanding numbers, I agree. However, I do think he has a great defensive game, he’s very reliable. No, I’m not making that Patrice Bergeron comparison. I hate those. It’s way too overused. I do think he won’t just have a cup of tea in the NHL. He will adjust to whatever his coaches tell him, and he learns a lot of that from his father, new GM of the Montreal Canadiens, Kent Hughes. I think people are too harsh on him, and he could end up falling a lot more.

#32 – Gleb Trikozov – F – Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

To wrap up the 32 list, we have Gleb Trikozov. A smart offensive player, great shot, good hockey IQ and vision. Pretty much the classic Russian player. He has the potential to be a top-6 player. He did play in the VHL season, recording a goal and an assist for two points. The MHL is where he did his magic, producing 23 goals and 45 points in 35. The Russian-factor could play a major role in Trikozov’s case, as he isn’t the most flashy of players, so teams might not risk it.

Honorable Mentions:

Alexander Perevalov – W – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

Luca Del Bel Belluz – C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Owen Beck – C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

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NHL Injury Report

Full roundup of all injuries and unavailable players from around the NHL, updated on the fly! Players with red text are on Injured Reserve (IR), and players with purple text are on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR).

Last updated: 9/17, 12:00am ET

9/16 Changelog – Scroll Down for Full NHL List – Click on red link to visit item source:

Added:

  • x

Edited:

  • x

Removed:

  • x

Red = IR / Purple = LTIR

PlayerStatusDescription
G, Tuukka Rask (BOS)Out 4-5 monthsTorn labrum (hip).
F, Jack Eichel (BUF)UndisclosedHerniated disc (neck)
G, Ben Bishop (DAL)UndisclosedTorn meniscus.
D, Oscar Klefbom (EDM)Out for seasonShoulder injury.
G, Alex Stalock (EDM)Out for seasonPossible heart condition.
D, Shea Weber (MTL)Out for seasonLower-body injuries.
F, Sidney Crosby (PIT)Out 4-6 weeksWrist injury.
F, Evgeni Malkin (PIT)UndisclosedKnee injury.
D, Cal Foote (TBL)Out 4-6 weeksPinky finger surgery.
Featured

The Scoring Touch’s 2021 First Round NHL Mock Draft

It’s that time of year again where many young talents in the game of hockey get introduced to the NHL. This year, many prospects haven’t played full seasons, making this draft one of the hardest to scout in history. 32 (31) prospects are looking to have their name called, who do I have going in the first round?

#1 Buffalo Sabres – Owen Power D Michigan

Going first overall in this mock draft is the 6″5, 215 lb freshman defenseman for the University of Michigan, Owen Power. There has been some debate whether he or Matthew Beniers will fight for the top spot, but knowing Buffalo and their lack of a scouting department, they’ll go with who everyone else has as their top pick. No knock on Power, he put up 16 points on the blue line in 26 games and has the body size and frame to be an impact NHLer. I think Power needs a year in the AHL or another in college before making his jump, but in Buffalo, everyone is thrown into the fire.

#2 Seattle Kraken – Matthew Beniers C Michigan

With their first ever draft pick, barring a trade, the Seattle Kraken go with Michigan freshman Matthew Beniers. He was a point-per-game player, posting 24 points in 24 games and is very reliable. His two-way game and offensive upside draws comparisons to former Selke winner Sean Couturier. The Kraken’s first pick should be gold.

#3 Anaheim Ducks – Fabian Lysell W Lulea HC

To some, the pick may seem a little off the board. For anyone whose watched Fabian Lysell play, this is the perfect pick. Besides the likes of Trevor Zegras and Maxime Comtois, the Anaheim Ducks don’t have much young scoring power, and ranked 30th out of 31 for goals per game with 2.21. Lysell is very crafty, a speedy swede, who is said to be a loyal player to their franchise. With his high level skill and ceiling, Anaheim needs to take his talents third overall.

#4 New Jersey Devils – Luke Hughes D USNTDP

It’s essential if he’s available. If Luke Hughes is available at four, the New Jersey Devils will absolutely take him. It isn’t a secret that the Devils have holes on defense, Hughes can and will fill that hole. The 6″1 University of Michigan commit is sneaky, smart, and has an elite skating level. Some may look at his defensive game as a red flag, but the coaches at Michigan will work out those kinks and form him into a balanced puck moving defenseman. Of course, this pick may also be influenced by Luke’s brother, Jack Hughes, which will make both of them probably very happy.

#5 Columbus Blue Jackets – William Eklund W Djurgardens

If the Columbus Blue Jackets manage to leave the draft with William Eklund, it’s hard to imagine they’d be any less than ecstatic. In 40 games this SHL season for Djurgardens, he put up 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points. He’s visible in all three zones, and has great offensive instincts. His shot is at an elite level, and his passing is outstanding. Eklund himself says that he wants to be in the SHL another year so he can properly develop into a top-6 winger in the show, and I agree. His offensive game is great, but another year of development can do wonders.

#6 Detroit Red Wings – Jesper Wallstedt G Lulea HF

From his time in Tampa Bay, fans know that Steve Yzerman isn’t afraid to take a goalie in the first round. The Detroit Red Wings have done outstanding when it comes to drafting, picking guys like Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Moritz Seider, and Lucas Raymond with previous first round selections. To round out a great young core would be getting a goalie, and a great one in that in Jesper Wallstedt. Wallstedt has great positioning and a speedy reaction time. This and his great showings in the SHL and international tournaments make him the best goalie prospect this year.

#7 San Jose Sharks – Dylan Guenther F Edmonton Oil Kings

The projected top five pick falls right to San Jose. Dylan Guenther has had a small sample size, which is why I think he drops, but in that small sample size, he’s impressed. in the WHL for the Oil Kings, Guenther posted a goal per game, and an assist per game average, giving him 24 points in 12 games. His biggest comparable is Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson (minus the size difference of course). A pure goal scorer, but puts up lots of assists, and is a big team player. San Jose goes best player available at seven.

#8 LA Kings – Brandt Clarke D HC Nove Zamky

If Brandt Clarke falls to Los Angeles, they would round out their prospect pool in amazing fashion. Clarke is a great two way defender who played in the Slovakian League for HC Nove Zamky and in 26 games he put up five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. He’s a great decision maker and has insane vision which is valuable as a defender. He has the tool set to be an elite defender at the NHL level, and the Kings would be happy to take him.

#9 Vancouver Canucks – Simon Edvinsson D Frolunda HC

With the #9 pick, Vancouver looks to upgrade their weak defense core. Simon Edvinsson is this year’s big “boom or bust” selection. His defensive play is very good, shutting down players on the rush, and breaking up passes all highlight his strengths. His breakout passes and decision making are two concerns to look out for, especially watching his few SHL games. In 10 games he only recorded one assist, but in the U-18 World’s, he put up one goal and three assists in seven games. Like Owen Power, development is key for Edvinsson.

#10 Ottawa Senators – Kent Johnson C Michigan

Talk about an absolute steal at the 10th pick. In this whole draft, Kent Johnson has the highest upside and can create scoring chances from many different places on the ice. Johnson’s vision and patience highlights his complete skill set. He has the intensity and poise to be a star in the league, and just like that, Ottawa adds to their elite prospect pool.

#11 Arizona Coyotes – Forfeited

Due to the Arizona Coyotes violating the Combine Testing Policy during the 2019/20 season, they have forfeited their 2021 first round selection.

#12 Chicago Blackhawks – Cole Sillinger C Sioux Falls Stampede

Cole Sillinger is a play driving forward with elite offensive instinct. His most notable tool is his shot. His wrister and snap shot are lethal to any goalie at any level. He played his 2020-21 season in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede, posting 24 goals and 46 points in 31 games. With Jonathan Toews’ career entering the twilight, especially after missing the whole 2021 campaign, a one-two punch of Kirby Dach and Sillinger down the middle can be great for the Blackhawks.

#13 Calgary Flames – Mason McTavish C EHC Olten

By far, the most confusing prospect as for placement this year is Mason McTavish. Before the year, I’d placed McTavish at the 29 spot. I’ve seen a vast amount of people put him in the top 10, he’s staying at 13 for me. His upside is a 2nd line center, something the Flames desperately need. Due to the OHL suspending operations for the year, he played in the Swiss National League for EHC Olten. In 13 games, he put up nine goals and two assists. He provides a net front presence and has the ability to score goals in the crease and will take a physical toll in order to do so. He also played for team Canada in the U18’s where he put up five goals and six assists in seven games. He has very small sample sizes this year, but he can be a very good player.

#14 Philadelphia Flyers – Nikita Chibrikov W SKA St. Petersburg

Nikita Chibrikov is your typical Russian forward. An elite talent with a mighty skill set. Chibrikov passes at an elite level, and carries the puck through the neutral zone with speed. He can be a key contributor to any power play unit with his zone entries. He’ll find any way to get a pass through creatively, and surely a presence the Flyers would love to have. In the WJC U18’s this year, as the captain, he had four goal and nine assists in seven games, nearly going two points per game.

#15 Dallas Stars – Xavier Bourgault C Shawinigan Cataractes

If developed correctly, Xavier Bourgault can be one hell of a player. Bourgault can be molded into any type of player the team who drafts him would like. His best player comparison is Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat. He can play in any scenario and is wicked smart. His numbers aren’t eye popping, 20 goals and 40 points in 29 games, but he’s a well rounded player.

#16 New York Rangers – Chaz Lucius C USNTDP

Small sample sizes was the name of the game this past year due to Covid, and despite only 25 games of Chaz Lucius, he has impressed. The University of Michigan commit was a part of the USNTDP, and in 12 games in the USHL, put up 13 goals and 18 points. In the USDP, Lucius played in 13 games, same number of goals, and added two more assists for 20 points. He’s offensively skilled, and a threat anywhere in that zone, and is a hard worker in front of the net. He could blossom to be a solid middle-6 scorer.

#17 St. Louis Blues – Simon Robertsson W Skelleftea AIK

Simon Robertsson is a well rounded offensive player. On the offensive side, he doesn’t have any glaring red flags. He isn’t great defensively, but few wingers at this age are. Robertsson fore checks hard with his stick and wins puck battles. His best asset according to his coach Anders Eriksen is his shot. If the Blues are going to lose Vladimir Tarasenko to a trade, we aren’t saying Robertsson and Tarasenko are comparable, but one player with a good release out, one back in.

#18 Winnipeg Jets – Corson Ceulemans D Brooks Bandits

The Winnipeg Jets have been looking for a defender like Corson Ceulmans for a while. Someone who can pinch in the right scenario, has the offensive talent to do so, with the vision and speed to recognize a potential scoring chance for the opponent, and to shut it down. With this, Ceulemans has been bashed for his positioning, but has the tools top be a great top-4 defender in the NHL. The University of Wisconsin commit posted 11 points in eight AJHL games this past season.

#19 Nashville Predators – Sasha Pastujov W USNTDP

Puck possession is the name of the game for Sasha Pastujov. Pastujov uses everything he has to keep the puck away from defenders, creating many scoring chances for himself and his teammates. The Notre Dame commit is said to pass at a high level and has a scoring touch few in this draft have. The Predators would a winger like this would could fit in their lineup, though don’t expect to see him so soon. Pastujov should use two years in college, and another in the AHL to develop him to his full potential.

#20 Edmonton Oilers – Sebastian Cossa G Edmonton Oil Kings

Taking a quick look at the depth charts, the Oilers are in need of a goalie, and are in a position to get a great one in Sebastian Cossa. The 6″6 Canadian net minder posted a .941 Sv% in 19 games, going 17-1-1 for the Oil Kings. Cossa’s got great positioning, rebound control, and has the mental toughness to be a goalie at the NHL level.

#21 Boston Bruins – Carson Lambos D Winnipeg Ice

Carson Lambos was one of the hardest prospects to place on this list. He 19 games across four leagues, all with different age levels. A U18 team, a U20 team, the Liiga, and WHL. He’s very crafty in the offensive zone. Lambos is active, looking and creating passing lanes. He’s shaped up to be a top-4 defenseman at the NHL level, and a great power play quarterback.

#22 Minnesota Wild – Aatu Raty C Karpat

I can remember a year ago today when the 2021 NHL Entry draft was known as the “Raty Draft”. Flash forward 12 months, and he’s fallen a little more than a few spots. In no way shape or form is Aatu Raty a bad player. He had a rough few months, and he knows that. There isn’t a ton of defensive show, but he has a hard shot, and will do anything to score a goal or generate offense. Don’t be surprised if he goes higher, he’s poised to have a big year in the Liiga for Karpat.

#23 Detroit Red Wings (Washington) – Fyodor Svechkov F SKA St. Petersburg

Fyodor Svechkov is a very interesting prospect. I’ve seen him go in the top ten, I’ve seen him fall to the second round. He’s a part of a rare breed of Russian forwards who have a solid two-way game. He plays with great pace. Scouts say his vision is at an elite level, and Steve Yzerman would have a potential steal in the later stages of the first round.

#24 Florida Panthers – Oskar Olausson W HV71

One of the best skaters this draft has to offer is Oskar Olausson. His speed allows for easy entrance into the neutral zone in combination with his 6″2 frame. He’s very creative in what he will do in the neutral zone. In the SHL he posted three goals and added an assist in 16 games. In eight international games between the U20’s, he was held scoreless. He’s more of a goal scorer than not, and after a few seasons of development, he should be a great NHLer.

#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (Toronto) – Stanislav Svozil D HC Kometa Brno

This draft’s best defensive defenseman is Stanislav Svozil. The 6″0 Czech positions himself to close out defenders, and is closed doors in the neutral zone. Svozil is a great stick and body checker. He doesn’t have much of an offensive upside, only three points in 30 games, but if his defensive game translates, he’s going to be a big time underrated NHLer.

#26 Minnesota Wild (Pittsburgh) – Mackie Samoskevich W Chicago Steel

There aren’t many more prospects I’m excited to see at the NHL level than Matthew “Mackie” Samoskevich. The University of Michigan commit is lethal in the offensive zone. Don’t give him any room, because Samoskevich will take it and fly with it. He’s always ahead of the game, and knows where his teammates are all the time. If the Wild can put him with the right line mates, they have a real player on their hands.

#27 Carolina Hurricanes – Matthew Coronato W Chicago Steel

What a season it was for Chicago Steel’s Matthew Coronato. In 51 games he posted 48 goals and 37 assists for 85 total points. He has a “pucks on net” mentality, and has a pretty good shot for it. His coaches describe him as an offensive dynamo as a great puck handler. The 5″10 winger is set to take his talents to Harvard University, and could be a late round steal for the Carolina Hurricanes.

#28 Colorado Avalanche – Zachary Bolduc C Rimouski Oceanic

Zachary Bolduc hasn’t always gotten the spotlight, and it’s a hard thing to do when you’re teammates with former first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere. Bolduc’s speed can catch defenders and goalies off guard, and along with his shot, he has the tool set to be an offensive force. In 27 games, he posted 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points. His stick handling is noticeable, and he wins puck battles. Someone who can fit in with the Colorado Avalanche.

#29 New Jersey Devils (NYI) – Brennan Othmann W Flint Firebirds

Brennan Othmann is one of the most transitional players in this draft. He loves to carry the puck and start the rushes and scoring chances making him a valuable power play component to any NHL franchise. He has speed and high pace. Othmann is great at fore checking and isn’t afraid to use his 6″0 frame. In the Swiss League, he put up seven goals and nine assists in 34 games. He has the potential to be a valuable power forward at the NHL level.

#30 Vegas Golden Knights – Francesco Pinelli C HDD Jesenice

With the 30th pick, I have Francesco Pinelli going to the Golden Knights. Pinelli is a great leader and a skilled playmaker. He always finds himself in the open ice to collect the puck and within seconds it’s off his stick. He hasn’t played many games this year, 13 games in a Slovenian league. Five goals and six assists for 11 total points in those 13 games. It looks as if he’s going to be in the OHL playing for the Kitchener Rangers last year, he’s expected to need a few seasons for development.

#31 Montreal Canadiens – Zachary L’Heureux W Halifax Mooseheads

The home town boy, Zachary L’Heureux is known as the QMJHL’s Brad Marchand. L’Heureux’s NHL comparable is the recently retired Andrew Shaw. Very chippy, with some offensive upside. Attitude issues may be glaring, and it could be the reason why he falls, but it’s hard to believe Montreal will pass on the Quebec kid. He’s a pain to play against, but is a team favorite in the locker room.

#32 Columbus Blue Jackets (Tampa) – Sean Behrens D USNTDP

Rounding out the first round is USNTSP defender Sean Behrens. Behrens is a solid two-way defender, and is committed to the University of Denver. He’s a great skater, and amazing with his stick defensively. He had a great showing as the assistant captain at the U18’s putting up four points in five games. The positioning is pin point, and he’s a player that the Blue Jackets would love to add.

Featured

2021 Arena Capacity Tracker

Introducing an all new Arena Capacity Tracker for the 2021 season, with dated updates from all 31 NHL teams on their ability to host fans, or not, for home games this season. All updates include links to official sources to prevent misinformation.

Scroll to the bottom for a streamlined graph breakdown of estimated capacities for the teams that do allow fans, and link to our 2021 attendance logs.

Have a tip? Email us at scoringtouch@gmail.com or send us a DM on our social platforms.


Anaheim Ducks – Team president of business operations confirmed to Bally Sports that the team will begin hosting fans at 10% capacity (1,717) beginning April 16. (4/4)

Arizona Coyotes – Team announced it has increased fan capacity from 3,450 to 7,900 (46.1%) for the remainder of this season. Had received permission to host up to 8,500 (approx 50%) from local officials, but NHL protocol (temporary restrictions on no seating behind benches and penalty box) restrict to 7,900. (4/12)

Boston Bruins – Team announced it has been approved to increase capacity from 12% to 25% (approximately 4,391) beginning on May 10. (4/27)

Buffalo Sabres – Team announced it will begin hosting fans at select home games beginning March 20, at a 10% capacity (1,907) at KeyBank Center. (2/10)

Calgary Flames – Will have most of the season without fans until local authorities ease COVID-19 restrictions. (12/9)

Carolina Hurricanes – Team announces it will welcome fans back to PNC Arena at 15% capacity (2,802) for home games beginning on March 4 vs Detroit. (12/21)

Chicago Blackhawks – Team announced they will host fans at 25% capacity for their final two home games of the season vs Dallas on May 9 and May 10. (4/29)

Colorado Avalanche – Team announced it will begin hosting a maximum of 4,050 fans (22.7%) at games beginning April 2. (3/18)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Team announced they will be hosting fans at 25% capacity (4,536) beginning March 9 vs Florida – an increase from 10% after just one game following Ohio gov’s approval. (3/3)

Dallas Stars – Team has told season ticket holders they have been approved to increase capacity for home games and will do so incrementally. Currently up to 6,014 – previously at 4,214 capacity. (4/19)

Detroit Red Wings – Team has increased their capacity from 500 to 750, matching maximums from relaxed COVID-19 measures in the state of Michigan. (2/10)

Edmonton Oilers – Will not have fans in attendance for the start of the season. (1/4)

Florida Panthers – Team has told season seat owners that the club will expand capacity to 47% (approx 9,047) for round 1 of the playoffs, and could go as high as 100% if they advance further. (4/23)

Los Angeles Kings – Team will begin hosting fans at 20% capacity (3,646) beginning on April 20. (4/14)

Minnesota Wild – Team says they will be increasing capacity to 25% (4,488) for the first round of the playoffs, up from the previous 3,000. (3/12)

Montreal Canadiens – No fans to start, but owner Geoff Molson hopes to have fans at some point this season. Team has drawn up socially-distanced plans for attendances between 4,000 and 12,000. (12/16)

Nashville Predators – Team president announced that attendance limits will increase from 15% to 1/3 capacity (33.33% = 5,704) effective immediately. (1/21)

New Jersey Devils – Team announced they are increasing capacity from 10% to 20% (3,303 or 3,600) for Friday’s game and beyond. (3/29)

New York Islanders – Team announced it will begin hosting fans at 10% capacity (1,390) starting March 18th. Isles will also host 1,000 Northwell Health frontline workers as guests at the March 11th game as a show of appreciation for their efforts over the last year fighting the pandemic. (2/24)

New York Rangers – Team intends to host 1,800 fans for every home game, beginning Feb 26 vs Boston, following NY governor Cuomo’s announcement of re-opening large stadiums and arenas at 10% capacities. (2/10)

Ottawa Senators – Ontario minister of sport Lisa MacLeod says full crowds in Sens and Leafs buildings are “very unlikely in the immediate future.” (2/10)

Philadelphia Flyers – Now operating at a capacity of 3,908 (20%), increased from previously announced 15%. (4/5)

Pittsburgh Penguins – Team announced it is increasing fan capacity from 15% to 25% (4,672) for games beginning on April 15. (4/1)

San Jose Sharks – Sharks will begin hosting fans at games at a limited capacity, around 500-1,000, and hope to increase it for each remaining home game this season. (4/26)

St. Louis Blues – Team announced capacity increase to 4,100 starting on March 26. (3/23)

Tampa Bay Lightning -Team told season-ticket members it will be increasing fan capacity to 7,000 (36.6%) for the start of this year’s playoffs. Was previously 4,200 (22.0%). (4/22)

Toronto Maple Leafs – Ontario minister of sport Lisa MacLeod says full crowds in Sens and Leafs buildings are “very unlikely in the immediate future.” (2/10)

Vancouver Canucks – Will begin the season without fans at games. (1/13)

Vegas Golden Knights – Team received approval for their submitted plan to host 50% capacity, but they will likely allow around 7,000 fans (40% ish) for their final three regular season home games. (5/1)

Washington Capitals – Announced they will begin hosting fans at 2,133 (11.5%) capacity beginning April 27. (4/12)

Winnipeg Jets – Will begin the season without fans at games. (1/6)

BOS – 2,191 – increase May 10 / FLA – currently 4,- increase for playoffs / MIN – 3,000 – increase for playoffs / TBL – 4,200 – increase for playoffs / CHI – starts May 9

^ Buffalo, Detroit, Nashville, and St. Louis have not announced public attendance figures and are thus omitted from our 2021 attendance logs and team averages.

Does A Jakob Chychrun Trade Make Sense For the Buffalo Sabres?

Derek Gee / Buffalo News

The Arizona Coyotes have been trying to trade Jakob Chychrun for an eternity. He first made his request before the beginning of the 2021-22 season, and the Coyotes have been trying to find a partner ever since.

“The team approached me a couple of times, one before the [2021-22 season], one early in the season and we just had discussions about where I was mentally and where the team was at,” Chychrun said prior to the 2021-22 season. “Knowing the type of competitor and person that I am, they indicated if this rebuild was going to be hard or difficult on me that, if I wanted to be in a different situation, they were going to be willing to make that happen.”

“[I] decided to take them up on that offer and try to move on to a better situation [because of] my desire to win in this league. Careers are so short, the time flies by, and I’m in my seventh year in the NHL. It’s just crazy. 

“I don’t want these years to keep going by and be 10, 12 years in and not had a real good chance at not only the playoffs, but winning the Stanley Cup. That’s really my mentality and where I’m at and I think the team understands that, to get moved to a situation with a chance to win and a team that’s fighting for the Stanley Cup.”

With his trade request still looming, the Sabres were recently linked to Chychrun by Jeff Marek on Hockey Night In Canada, where he said the Sabres could be a “dark horse” for Coyotes defensemen. Before this year, I felt a trade for Chychrun would not be the best for the Sabres’ future, but I have since switched my thinking and would be on board if the value makes sense.

My reasons for originally not wanting the Sabres to give up significant assets for Chychrun were:

  1. I wasn’t convinced the Sabres had a deep enough forward core to give up significant assets to help a different area of the team.
  2. I wasn’t sure that they needed another high-level defenseman with Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin already in the lineup.
  3. I wasn’t comfortable giving up the assets that the Coyotes would ask for in return.
  4. The similarity to moves made by Tim Murray to accelerate a rebuild that ultimately failed.

The first concern has been alleviated by the steps taken forward by the Sabres’ young forwards. I believed Tage Thompson could be a good second-line center, but I wasn’t convinced he could carry the responsibilities of a first-line on a contending team. Thompson’s play since the start of this season has me now believing he is a legitimate top-line, difference-making center. Through 26 games this year Thompson has put up 21 goals and 40 points. As for counting stats, the Sabres’ 5v5 xGF% with Thompson on ice is 50.77% according to NaturalStatTrick, an improvement from last year. Top-liners Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner are also on pace for career years. The Sabres have a legitimate top-line force.

Down the lineup, the Sabres have seen positive results. Rookies J.J. Peterka and Jack Quinn and center Dylan Cozens have been the Sabres’ second-best line this season. In a limited sample, the line is putting up a 64.48 xGF%. While this is not a sustainable rate and will likely regress, it makes for a successful second line with plenty of youth. Peterka is 20 years old and Quinn and Cozens are both 21. This line will likely improve as the players age and mature.

My second concern was the lack of need for defense, as Chychrun would be a luxury in presence of Dahlin and Power. While the move remains a luxury move, it would have lasting effects up and down the pairings. Dahlin is currently averaging over 26 minutes a night and handling it well, but a decrease in minutes is smart in preventing injury. Power is averaging over 23 minutes a night, unheard of for a 19-year-old defenseman. Both players are shouldering heavy loads with Mattias Samuelsson and Henri Jokiharju out with injuries, but that could be lessened with Chychrun to take some pressure off. The Sabres’ bottom pair of Jacob Bryson and Ilya Lyubushkin has also struggled this year after acquiring Lyubushkin in free agency. Adding a player of Chychrun’s caliber allows Bryson to transition to a seventh defenseman role and could give Lyubushkin a lift.

My next concern was the cost of acquisition. It was originally rumored that the Coyotes wanted a Jack Eichel-esque package for Chychrun, the equivalent of two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and a good roster player. I was not comfortable with this price, and still wouldn’t be, but it has been rumored that less could get the trade done.

The Sabres can meet a smaller demand, and I think they would be smart to do so. They could give up either their first-round pick with top-ten protection this year or their first-round pick in 2024, one of their young prospects such as Noah Ostlund (16th overall, 2022), Isak Rosen (14th overall, 2021) or Peyton Krebs (21 years old), and a less-essential roster player like Casey Mittelstadt or Victor Oloffson. Buffalo can then sweeten the deal with a late-round pick or the rights to Ryan Johnson and Erik Portillo, two college players who look like they won’t sign in Buffalo.

The last concern questions whether the Sabres are ready for a move of this caliber. Does a pricey trade speed up the rebuild too fast? In 2015, for example, the Sabres experienced such a situation when previous general manager Tim Murray traded away picks and prospects to win immediately after drafting Jack Eichel.

However, there are key differences between this team and 2015’s team. The current team possesses a depth of prospects, better preparing them for a trade. At the NHL level, there are currently four forwards and one defenseman playing on entry-level deals. In addition, the Sabres also have a plethora of prospects in the AHL, and below. Trading away a few pieces won’t dry the well.

Another element that cannot be overlooked is the Sabres’ organic improvement, an element the 2014 team lacked prior to gaining Eichel. The 2014 Sabres were not trying to succeed. In fact, management intentionally fielded as bad of a team as they realistically could. Thus, a move directly from failure into contention wasn’t realistic. This iteration of the rebuild has improved organically after bottoming out in 2021. A move to boost their potential wouldn’t be out of line.

If the Sabres do end up trading for Jakob Chychrun, it will arguably be the biggest gamble that Kevyn
Adams has taken as General Manager, but I believe it is a gamble worth taking. Chychrun has the potential to push this team that much closer to finally ending the league’s current longest playoff drought.

Friedman: The Oilers are looking for a forward with an edge.

via NHL.com

On Saturday, Elliotte Friedman has a quick note on the Oilers. Elliotte reports “One thing I do think the Oilers are looking at is some depth forwards who are edgy or can grind a little bit. There’s a feeling that since Evander Kane is out that they’re easy to play against… can they find a budget player or two that can make a difference…”

Interesting. It’s been out there that the Oilers were in on Ryan Reaves before he was sent to Minnesota. While I don’t believe the Oilers should pursue this particular type of player, it is evident that Ken Holland wants to beef up his team. Overall, I’m shocked the Oilers didn’t place a claim on either Wayne Simmonds or Zach Sanford when they were placed on waivers a week or so ago. Nonetheless, here are two hypothetical candidates that fit the gritty player description Elliotte is talking about.

Zack MacEwan

Sadly, I believe Flyers forward Zack MacEwan is currently the most likely candidate. The enforcer is 11th in the league in hits/60 with 1.25. He already has two fights this season and 23 career regular-season fights. There is no doubt MacEwan is a physical first player, but the Oilers desperately need a boost in depth scoring from their bottom six, a skill Zack lacks. In 150 NHL games, he has recorded a total of 25 points. That’s not NHL caliber. If the Oilers want to add a player who brings a sense of an edge, the team will need him to chip in offensively. MacEwan does not.

Max Domi

Max Domi should be the player the Oilers are targeting. He’s a less frequent hitter, only six this season, but he’s tenacious on the forecheck and has 13 fights in his career. He’s been an excellent fit in Chicago thus far with 14 points in 21 games and will definitely be dealt as a rental. At a cap hit of $3m, the Oilers could make a deal with Chicago where the Blackhawks retain 50% of Domi’s salary, lowering his cost to $1.5m.

However, a deal for Domi would need to wait until the deadline, and the Oilers are searching for a move soon. Thus, a trade with Chicago is unlikely, especially because Kane’s impending return from LTIR will increase the Oilers’ cap woes. Nonetheless, this is the player that would excel on a team with McDavid.

Final Thoughts

We should get our answer on who the Oilers are targeting soon. A few other players that come to mind are Garnet Hathaway, Tanner Jeannot, and Sammy Blais. What are your thoughts on the Oilers’ plans? Who would you like to see Edmonton target?

You can find me on Twitter @Shae_Nuge93 or my podcast: TundraCast on Youtube.

TST 2022-23 November Trade Bait Board

Via Getty Images

In the first edition of the Top-15 trade board, we look at some NHLers ranked from one to 15 on the probability of them being traded at the time of the article.

We take into consideration information we’ve heard, the position of the teams they play for, and the contracts the players are signed for.

#NamePositionTeamAgeTraded?
1Jakob ChychrunLHDARZ24N
2Nikita ZaitsevRHDOTT31N
3Kasperi KapanenWPIT26N
4Erik KarlssonRHDSJS32N
5Anthony DuclairWFLA27N
6Mike ReillyLHDBOS29N
7Bo HorvatCVAN27N
8John KlingbergRHDANA30N
9Kaapo KakkoWNYR21N
10Tyler MeyersRHDVAN32N
11Mackenzie BlackwoodGNJD25N
12Patrick KaneWCHI34N
13Andrei KuzmenkoWVAN26N
14Barrett HaytonFARZ22N
15Vladimir TarasenkoWSTL30N

Notes:

Jakob Chychrun has been in the trade mill for a while, and now that he’s fresh off an injury, the talks will once again ramp up

Kasperi Kapanen has been a healthy scratch for the past few games for the Penguins, it looks as if he will draw back into the lineup on 11/29 against the Carolina Hurricanes

Anthony Duclair comes into the list due to the cap situation of the Florida Panthers, him returning from injury, and trading him seems to be the easiest route to take

Mike Reilly may get dumped by Boston due to the Bruins’ defensive log jam and cap situation. He’s been waived multiple times this year already

– The emergence of Akira Schmid and Vitek Vanacek for the New Jersey Devils has made Mackenzie Blackwood expendable. His poor performance and a need for a change of scenery with all of the off-ice issues the past two years makes Blackwood an option for teams looking to take a chance on a younger goaltender

Andrei Kuzmenko is an underrated trade-bait player, but he’s had a successful season in Vancouver. Being an unrestricted free agent at year’s end, any team will be salivating at the chance to add a talented winger with such a low cap hit

The Emergence of Brandon Montour During Aaron Ekblad’s Absence

Via NHL.com

During Aaron Ekblad’s absence due to a lower body injury suffered in late October, the Panthers defense core has had to step up in big ways. Younger guys like Gustav Forsling and Josh Mahura, as well as veterans Radko Gudas and Marc Staal have helped the Panthers stay afloat without their #1 defenseman, posting a 6-4-1 record in 11 games without Ekblad. Although their contributions have been marked, no one has seized the opportunity quite like Brandon Montour.

Montour, a 28 year old native of Brantford, Ontario, was a second round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks back in 2014. He started off his career in the NHL very nicely, joining the Ducks in their playoff push and playing in 17 playoff games in 2016-17 before the Ducks eventually lost to the Predators in the Western Conference Finals. He then built on his successful rookie campaign by attaining back to back 80+ games played seasons, totaling 17 goals and 50 assists over those two years. He began his career looking every bit like the offensive minded, puck-moving defenseman that he was projected to be when he was drafted.

However, things started to change after a mid-season trade to Buffalo in the 2018-19 season. The Buffalo Sabres swung a trade with Anaheim to acquire Montour in his age 24 season for a first round pick and AHL defenseman Brendan Guhle. Montour finished out the season strong, but things started to go wrong for him in the 2019-20 season when he suffered a hand injury in the preseason that carried over to the regular season and caused him to miss a chunk of games. Along with his injury, his production started to trend down as well.

In the 2020-21 season, the Sabres were already far out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline, and decided to trade Montour for a 2021 third round pick to the Panthers. He joined the team for their playoff run and didn’t make a huge impact in their first round loss, but was still serviceable. The next year is when things really started turning around for Montour. He played in 81 games for the Atlantic Division champion Panthers, while posting an impressive 11 goals and 37 points. His stats were remarkable considering his smaller role on the team that year, where he averaged 17:53 of ice time per game which was much less than that of fellow blue liners Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar. He has carried this momentum into the start of the 2022-23 season.

With the departure of MacKenzie Weegar to the Flames in the Matthew Tkachuk deal, and the early season injury to Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers’ defensive depth and team resilience has been tested. While they have received increased minutes and contributions from guys all over the lineup, it is arguable that no one has done more than Brandon Montour. In just the games that Ekblad was out, Montour saw his ice time increase to around 27 minutes per game, including a 30:41 TOI outing against the Sharks to begin their California road trip on November 3rd. He also scored 14 out of his 18 total points so far on the year in those 10 games. Additionally, his 18 points are good for 6th most points scored by defensemen so far in the 22-23 campaign.

By the looks of it, Florida’s investment of a third round pick for Montour has been well worth it so far. Montour’s sustained play will be a huge component of the success of the team for the remainder of the season. Any secondary scoring received from defensemen not named Aaron Ekblad will be largely beneficial for Florida, and will aid them in their push to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Is it Time to Start Worrying about Lafrenière and Kakko?

Via the New York Post

Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière have had some rough starts to the season. The former first overall pick in 2020 and second overall pick in 2019 respectively have not been scoring at their expected paces, when other players from both draft classes are outscoring them. The question has to be asked: are these two young players going to be busts? Or can they turn their career’s around, and start to live up to their expectations?

Kaapo Kakko

Kaapo Kakko had one of the worst starts to a career, period. Being one of the worst players in the NHL in 2019-20, it was clear Kakko was simply not ready to play in the NHL, and given he was playing in New York City, he was under the spotlight from day one.

Is Kakko a bust? Will he BE a bust?

The accusations of “bust” have been there since day one for Kakko. With the emergence of rival New Jersey Devils 2019 first overall draft pick, Jack Hughes, and the breakouts of others such as Trevor Zegras with the Anaheim Ducks, Cole Caufield with the Montreal Canadiens, and Matthew Boldy of the Minnesota Wild, all selected after Kakko at second, it’s hard to overlook his lack of production. Especially as his career progresses, and the chances of him suddenly gaining the scoring touch that got him drafted so high lowers, Kaapo Kakko is at a crossroads in his career. He could be a low event, low scoring winger with defensive prowess, not exactly worthy of a second overall pick but still a good player, or he can be the scoring winger he was prior to the draft, who has the puck taped to his stick and is defensively sound.

To this, we will look at his trajectory and what seems to be probable. If Kaapo Kakko is to become a scorer and a force on the puck, we need to look at a number of things. First, we should look at Kakko’s shot selection. This season, so far Kakko has 45 shots and is shooting at a percentage of 8.89%. This shooting percentage is not outside of the norm for Kakko, but it is his shot selection which has changed.Compared to his rates from his first two seasons in the NHL, which are around 6 shots per 60 minutes, (per 60 means the total, divided by the player’s ice time, multiplied by 60), he is now shooting around seven shots per 60. A small increase, but an increase nonetheless. What has changed is that even though he is taking a similar amount of shots, he is creating considerably more high danger scoring chances.

These are scoring chances from the slot, and are called “high danger” because of the increased likelihood of scoring. This season, Kakko is averaging about 5 high danger scoring chances per 60, an increase from 3.43 the year before, 3.14 the year before that, and just 2.67 his rookie season. The proof is in the pudding, Kakko IS getting scoring chances, and more of them. He is using his size to create more scoring opportunities for him and his team, and is playing some of his best hockey.

Lastly, all we need to do is look at his expected goals. He currently has about six expected goals in 22 games played, and four actual goals. He usually has about as many expected goals as he does goals, but this season he simply has more of each. Considering that the Rangers are one of the unluckiest teams at 5v5, with 16 less goals than expected goals, Kakko’s point totals should surge once the team starts scoring at their regular pace again. Whether that means putting Kakko in the top 6, or simply playing out their scoring struggles, the goals are bound to come.

Alexis Lafrenière

For Alexis Lafrenière, also known as Laf, his progression along the seasons is a little bit different. While Kakko struggled heavily right out of the gate, Laf hasn’t had as worse of a struggle in the NHL. Despite this, he is still struggling to put up points at the level he was expected to, leading fans to label him a bust early in his career.

Is Laf a bust? Will he BE a bust?

The expectations placed upon Lafrenière are arguably even higher than the expectations of Kakko, but he did not face nearly as much struggle to acclimate to the NHL. He famously did not register a goal through his first nine games in the NHL in his debut season, as well as also coming into the league during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the NHL played without fans. Where Kakko might be more reserved, Lafrenière is more outgoing, as seen in the 2022 playoffs as he rode the wave of hype and clearly enjoyed playing in front of the fans at MSG.

Laf is also more of a shooter than a playmaker, as his shooting percentages are noticeably high at 17% in his first two seasons. This year he was expected to have a breakout season, however that has been all but absent as the 21-year-old has only scored eight points in 22 games so far. So what happened to his breakout year?

It might be a little more simple: Laf, like the rest of the Rangers, is struggling to score. The problem is not that he is not getting chances, or not getting good scoring opportunities. It is actually quite the opposite, as he, like Kakko, is getting more high danger scoring chances per game than seasons prior, as well as shooting more. The problem is in the shooting percentage, which is currently at a weak 7.32%. Nowhere near his numbers from the two seasons prior, and this shows that he is incredibly snake-bit. What backs this information up is his individual expected goals, which means he should be at around five goals this season, instead only scoring 4. Additionally, if he were scoring at his normal shooting percentage of 17%, he would have about 7 goals so far. Combined with the fact that the rest of the team is not scoring, which means his assists are going to go down, Laf is the victim of the Rangers not being able to score at 5v5.

The question of “is Lafrenière a bust” has an easy answer: no. Lafrenière is getting better as an offensive player, and the statistics back this up as his offensive numbers such as high danger scoring chances are increasing. For reference, in 56 games played in 2020-21, he had only 36 high danger scoring chances, and the season after, in 79 games played, he had only 61. In 21 games played this year, he has 30, which is good for at least one and a half high danger scoring chances a game. He is above players like Nathan MacKinnon, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, and David Pastrnak in HDCF (high danger chances for) and is playing really good hockey. He is even higher than the Rangers’ own Mika Zibanejad! It is tough to see Lafrenière’s point totals and make the claim, “have faith!” but that is what Rangers fans need to do. Look at the bigger picture, it is not all doom and gloom as it seems.

Let’s zoom out. What can be done to fix this?

In order to fix this problem, and to get Kakko and Lafrenière scoring more frequently, a couple of changes need to be made. We also have to zoom out a little bit, and look at the bigger picture amongst the New York Rangers

This team is unlucky, head to toe

The problem with Lafrenière and Kakko’s production is part of a greater story. It is no secret that the Rangers have struggled to score, as stated before, the Rangers are 8th in expected goals, with 77 expected goals on the season. Currently so far, they only have 61 goals to show for it. They also have one of the worst shooting percentages in the LEAGUE, at a measly 3.92%. For reference, that is near teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers, who all have shooting percentages around three percent.

When the Rangers stars are struggling to score, it is no doubt that players down the lineup like Kakko, Lafrenière, and more will struggle to score as well. The whole team is not finishing, so those secondary points such as assists are going to come less frequently.

Keeping the kid line is not working

During the playoffs, Laf and Kakko, along with Chytil, started clicking together. They became known as the “Kid Line,” as they were all young and are all former first round picks by the Rangers. Since then, however, they have struggled to succeed together. Filip Chytil may have a bit of a scoring touch, but he struggles to generate offense otherwise. Furthermore, by playing on the third line together, all three players are getting significantly less ice time.

A solution to this might be to switch up the forward lines. Perhaps promoting Chytil to second line center could be a recipe for success, as Vincent Trocheck and Artemi Panarin haven’t really connected like Panarin and Ryan Strome did for years prior. Additionally, it also might help to place Lafrenière and Kakko in the top-6, to get them more playing time. They are clearly more valuable to the New York Rangers organization than Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey, who should be on the third line instead of the Rangers budding stars. Regardless of the lineup decisions to be made, playing Laf and Kakko with the Rangers top line stars is a recipe for future success.

Put them on power play unit one

Lastly, but most importantly, they need to play on the power play. While the combination of Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox is enticing to keep, as they are incredibly successful, the second power play unit is invisible. Where the top unit is scoring at a relatively solid rate, the second unit has not registered a single goal on the power play this season. This is unacceptable for the Rangers, and without two successful, dangerous units, they will not be able to succeed.

Putting Laf and Kakko on unit one can be greatly beneficial for a number of reasons. To start, the Rangers top unit is not as good as it was last year, partially due to the amount of success Mika Zibanejad has from his Alex Ovechkin-like spot at the top of the left circle. Because he was so dangerous at that spot, it seems as though teams have figured him out. To keep teams guessing, having another sniper like Lafrenière might end up making the Rangers’ power play all the more deadly. Moreover, it would give Laf confidence in his scoring abilities, which would likely result in an increase in his 5v5 production. This is not a call to take Zibanejad off of the top unit; but maybe rotate Trocheck or Kreider out for Kakko or Lafrenière to change the dynamic of the power play. Kakko specifically is pretty deadly from the slot, and giving him an opportunity on the power play, with an easier chance to score and less bodies on the ice to block his shot will give him more confidence.

Lafrenière’s abilities as a shooter makes it harder to put him on the first unit, because ideally he would be taking the position of Artemi Panarin on the top of the right circle, for a one timer like shot. This is straight up not going to happen, so there is no point in deliberating about it. To solve this issue, maybe the second unit should have more playing time. Every time the Rangers’ get a power play, maybe it would help to alternate the units more frequently to give the second unit more of an opportunity to score, because as it is now, the only playing time they get on the power play is usually with less than 30 seconds left.

TL;DR

The bottom line is a couple of things. One, the Rangers, specifically Kakko and Lafrenière, are snakebit. Two, they do not get ANY playing time on the power play, which means they aren’t going to score as many goals as they are expected to. Three, they don’t have any impact on the power play as it is now, and the amount of confidence they have in their abilities lowers because of it. To solve these problems, they need to be playing higher in the lineup, more frequently on the power play, and simply, they need to get lucky!

(statistics were taken from naturalstattrick.com and hockeyviz.com)

Ville Heinola Trade Destinations

Via NHL.com

Whether a formal trade request has been made or not. It’s clear young defenseman Ville Heinola isn’t about to become a mainstay in the Winnipeg Jets current lineup.

With Heinola’s agent voicing his opinion, maybe a trade out of Winnipeg would benefit both parties involved.

“Ville doesn’t deserve a guaranteed spot in the lineup. He deserves a shot to play a run of games to show he can do it.” – Allain Roy, Ville Heinola’s agent 

“At some point, that decision’s going to have to be made because the asset (Heinola) is going to stagnate and start to go backwards,” Roy said. “That’s going to be the issue. I don’t think it’s going backwards yet, but definitely, the frustration’s setting in, and that’s never a good sign.”

Via HockeyNews.com

There are two teams that stand out for Heinola, these two will give him a chance to develop and earn ice time in the NHL.

Comparing Ville Heinola to Nils Lundkvist and what the New York Rangers received earlier this season for Lundkvist.

Chicago Blackhawks

With Chicago rebuilding and Seth Jones locked in long term. Heinola could make the Blackhawks lineup immediately and not carry the expectations of being a top-2 defenseman and let him find his spot in the lineup without being pushed to perform.

To Winnipeg

  • Tampa Bay 2023 1st (top 10 protected) *
  • Calgary 2024 5th
  • * Tampa Bay 2023 is top 10 protected to Chicago, if Tampa Bay were to pick in the top 10 in 2023, the pick becomes a 2025 unprotected 1st

To Chicago

  • Ville Heinola

Seattle Kraken

Seattle is in a position to be a playoff team but with Justin Schultz on their roster on a two year contract he would be the perfect mentor for Heinola.

Cale Fleury and William Borgen currently sit as the Kraken sixth and seventh defenseman. Heinola could start on the third pairing and gain valuable experience from Seattle’s top-five veteran defenseman.

To Winnipeg

  • Seattle 2023 1st (top 15 protected) *
  • Colorado 2023 4th
  • * If Seattle’s pick falls in the top 15 in 2023, it becomes an unprotected 2024 1st

To Seattle

  • Ville Heinola

With Winnipeg in a position to make the playoffs this season, Heinola just doesn’t seem to be a trusted option for the Jets. His skills far exceed the AHL level, so sometimes change is needed. Staying in the NHL, with another team that will help showcase his talents and make him a player to keep your eyes on.

State of the Canes; how the team looks one month into the season

We are a little over one month into the season, and after 19 games, the state of the Hurricanes remains unclear. One night they play to their potential and look like a bonafide contender, and, on another, their offense looks bare and the powerplay sucks the life out of the team.

Taking a look at what’s gone right, been underwhelming, and looked straight-up rotten so far in the season is important to evaluate the team’s play. However, all conclusions need to be taken with a pinch of salt knowing the season remains young.

The Good

The Young Guns

The most noticeable positive has been the play of Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov, and Sebastian Aho. Martin Necas has been a pleasant surprise to start the season. Although I’ve been high on Necas, I never imagined a start like this. Necas has 23 points in 19 games and looks like a rejuvenated player. 

The points, of course, are great but Necas’ overall game has improved significantly. The biggest difference seems to be his confidence on the ice, a change that allows him to fully utilize his speed and unique playmaking ability. 

Andrei Svechnikov had a strong season last year recording 30 goals and 69 points. This year, however, Andrei seems to be aiming for 40 and could surpass that mark at his current pace. With two hat tricks, both against the Edmonton Oilers, he now has 13 goals in 19 games, which is the 4th most in the league, behind Jason Robertson, Bo Horvat, and Connor McDavid

Finally, Sebastian Aho’s point-per-game pace is a sign of another premium talent producing on the Hurricanes’ offense. All three of these young players are producing at a star level, and, if the rest of the team can catch up, it will be tough to prevent the Canes from finding the back of the net. 

Team Defense

The Hurricanes continue to suppress chances and make life easy for their goaltenders. Their 25.3 shots against per game average is second-best in the league.

Jalen Chatfield has been better than expected to start the season and is doing the most with his first crack at an NHL roster. Jalen has used his speed and aggressiveness to challenge the opposition and been a key player in the Canes’ transition game.

Overtime

The Hurricanes started the season with strong play after the end of regulation going 3-1 in extra time, and 2-0 in shootouts before November 18th. They’ve since struggled with two OT losses against the Avalanche and Jets, but the Canes’ shootout record remains undefeated.

The Meh

Goaltending 

Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta’s play last season won them the Williams Jennings Trophy and cemented the tandem as one of the best in the league. This year, however, both goaltenders have hovered around adequacy and lacked show-stealing performances. Andersen also suffered a lower-body injury and hasn’t played since November 6th.

Before the injury, Andersen’s start was already disheartening, to say the least. While he has not been bad enough to straight-up lose the Canes a game, he has allowed multiple soft goals go. Overall, he’s lacked the look of the Freddie of old. His current injured doesn’t bode well for his season, either.

Raanta has been fine, but with Andersen out, the Hurricanes need more from Antti. Rookie Pyotr Kochetkov has seen limited action but looked comfortable in the games he’s started, earning his first career shutout against Chicago on Monday. While goaltending will likely even itself, the start has not been very promising.

The Bad

Secondary Scoring

Past the big three, the Canes’ roster lacks consistent scoring throughout. For starters, Teuvo Teravainen and Seth Jarvis have had very disappointing starts to the season. Jarvis had a seven-game pointless streak from 11/6-11/19 and has lost the confidence he played with throughout his rookie year. 

Teravainen was unfortunately injured on November 10th and placed on injured reserve, but his play prior was practically invisible. He had 7 assists and 0 goals through 14 games, and only 1 point on the powerplay. Hopefully, Teravainen will recover quickly as this offense cannot run smoothly without his contributions. 

Jesperi Kotkaniemi has looked strong as the Canes’ second-line center, but his absence from the scoresheet is concerning. The Hurricanes will need a lot more than 3 points if he wants to keep his job at 2C.

Aside from Jordan Martinook, it’s fair to say the bottom six has been disappointing offensively overall, although the third line is starting to heat up. Even if the bottom six is reserved more for checking and defense, they need to contribute more offense. Paul Stastny is a prime example, as he has failed to show any of his offensive ability for the Canes this season. He has been the definition of a non-factor and a healthy scratch.

The secondary scoring as a whole needs to improve, and that’s not just for the forwards. 

On defense, Brent Burns has settled in, and, although he needs to be a little better at even strength, 13 points in 19 games is very good. Brady Skjei‘s 7 points and is also solid. Past those two, the blue line is incredibly bare. The Hurricanes have historically relied on points from the back end, but this year that has not been the case. We’ve seen that Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce have a lot more to give, and if the Canes want to establish more consistent scoring it needs to start with the blue line. 

Special Teams 

Where to even start? The current performance of the penalty kill and powerplay is unacceptable. The Hurricanes had the best PK% in the league last year, a strength that has suddenly looked more like a weakness. They sit 18th in the league with a 78.8% rate, 10% lower than last season. As a highly-penalized team, the Canes are at a huge disadvantage with a poor PK. 

The powerplay might be even worse. The Canes have the league’s 30th-worst powerplay at 14.3%, an embarrassing feat when you consider the talent on the Canes’ 5-man unit. The powerplay’s personnel is more than capable, but the problem lies in their inability to do anything once set up due to poor puck movement and shooting. In addition, the powerplay has allowed 3 shorthanded goals.

If these trends of special team failure continue, especially into the playoffs, some assistant coaches’ jobs may be on the line. 


The Hurricanes are still a good team despite their underwhelming start and sit second in the Metro with a record of 10-5-4. At the very least, we can take solace in the fact other than the New Jersey Devils, no one else in the Metropolitan has looked too good either. Once the Hurricanes heal up and the likes of Teuvo Tervainen and Frederik Andersen return to the lineup, as well as Max Pacioretty‘s debut, they will be fine. 

Fans of the Hurricanes have been spoiled by the strong starts of the last three seasons. Hopefully, this year’s slower start prepares the Canes to peak at the right time and saves them from a playoff flame-out. Although it hasn’t always been pretty, there is a lot to look forward to as a Canes fan. 

The Oilers are in Trouble

Via Sportsnet

Sigh. This article will be quite shorter than my usual ones. There’s a lot to talk about but to summarize, the Edmonton Oilers are not good enough. No matter how unworldly performances Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are currently having, this organization is still barely over .500 in years eight and nine of these players respectively. Sure, it’s only 15 games in. But, that’s a strong enough sample size to inform us that what we see is what we’ll likely get for the remainder of the season.

Calling the Oilers lack of depth scoring disappointing is putting it lightly. While the aforementioned McDavid and Leon have been doing the obvious majority of the scoring, along with players like Hyman, RNH and Kane who is expected to miss 3-4 months, the rest of the lineup has been putrid. Yamamoto, Puljujarvi and Warren Foegele have a combined THREE goals. Each get paid around $3 million a season. It’s time to start playing like it. The only bottom six guy who’s been decent is young speedy Ryan McLeod. The depth scoring has always been considered an issue in Edmonton until last season where we saw glimpses of others finally chipping in with offence. To start this season however they’ve been awful and they need to be better.

Jack Campbell has a GSAx near -6.05 right now. For a supposed starter who’s making 5×5 he has to be better as well. Stuart Skinner thankfully has shown well thus far and should be the starter for the rest of the season. The PK…. doesn’t even need to be talked about. They went 1/5 against Washington on Nov 7 which easily costed them the win. Surprise Surprise. The defence is also terrible. They’re letting up 3.12 xGA 5v5 which is 31st in the league. The only teams worse are the Flyers, Ducks and the Coyotes. This stat is screaming Tippett levels of play style right now and I’m getting sick of just looking at it.

All in all. This team is the very definition of average. The run last year looks like an anomaly. Even with your captain on pace for almost 80 goals and over 164 points, this team sits in the first wild card spot IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE. Unacceptable.

You can find me @Shae_Nuge93 on twitter.

Blue Jackets Hit with Major Loss as Werenski is out for Rest of Season

Via USAToday

Columbus Blue Jacket’s Defensemen Zach Werenski will be out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum and separated shoulder, the team reported this Friday afternoon. This comes after Werenski awkwardly collided with the boards after attempting a hit on Flyers’ Travis Konecny. Werenski was the team’s star defensemen, and losing him will hurt the already struggling team. The Jacket’s alternate captain has eight points in 13 games, averaging 23:36 of ice time this season. “What can you do? He’s gobbling (24) minutes a night. He’s a pretty important guy,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said in a statement on Friday.

The Blue Jackets also lost Defensemen Nick Blankenburg for 6-8 weeks, with a fractured ankle. “Don’t underestimate what [Blankenburg] is doing for us either,” Larsen said Friday. “He’s going to be long term here too and that was our top pairing. So, they’re out. It’s a tough pill to swallow this morning but you move by it. It’s an opportunity for some other guys to show and we’re going to see that.”

Along with Werenski out for the season and Blankenburg on IR, forwards Sean Kurly and Jakub Voracek were also placed on IR.

Following these two injuries, the Blue Jackets called up Defensemen Gavin BayreutherMarcus Bjork and David Jiricek on emergency recall from the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. Bjork will be making his NHL debut against the New York Islanders on Sunday. Later that day Friday, Jiricek was sent back to the AHL and  Jake Christiansen was recalled.

Head coach Brad Larsen believes that “there’s guys here that are excited to play, I’m going to tell you right now. They see what’s in front of them, right? So someone has to take those minutes. You can pull a group together. It’s going to be a challenge, there’s no question but you’ve got to meet it head on. You’ve got to go out there and we’re going to work at it.”

Jack is Back Part 2 – What it Means This Time Around

Photo by Bill Wippert

The red-hot Vegas Golden Knights (12-2-0) are taking their annual trip to Western New York tonight to play the Buffalo Sabres (7-6-0). The Sabres come into this matchup on the tail end of losing three straight, dropping games to the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Arizona Coyotes, respectively. While the team hasn’t played poorly in any of the games, the Sabres need to start finding ways to earn points from matchups against both playoff and bottom-feeder teams if the fanbase wants to have visions of spring hockey for the first time in eleven years. As for Vegas, the Pacific Division team has won eight straight and is firing on all cylinders to begin this season.

But all of that is secondary in this matchup.

The storyline at center stage is the return of former Buffalo Sabre Jack Eichel. It’s unlikely anyone needs reminding, but the breakup between the Sabres and their face-of-the-franchise captain was drawn-out and messy. Eichel had made it clear he wanted out before the 2020/21 season, but the Sabres ran it back, hoping they could convince the star to stay. Of course, this wasn’t the case, as Eichel battled injuries all year before finally being shut down due to a herniated disc in his neck.

Then it got ugly. Eichel wanted to undergo an Artificial Disk Replacement (ADR), a new treatment type, while the Sabres wanted him to get fusion surgery. This saga played out over the 2021 summer before Buffalo traded Eichel on November 4th, 2021 to the Las Vegas Golden Knights for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and a couple of draft picks. The Sabres have to be thrilled with their return on Tuch, as he has fit right in with the community as an intriguing young piece for Buffalo now and in the future. The two draft picks, one having already turned into Noah Ostlund, will further add depth to their farm system.

For Vegas, they received what they had been desperately searching for: an elite center that can take control of a game. Eichel comes into tonight’s matchup riding a six game point streak and seems to be back to his 2019/20 form, one that finished in the top ten of Hart voting.

When Eichel made his return in March of last spring, Sabres fans made it known that they were not pleased with him and booed every time he touched the puck. The Sabres went on to win 3-1 and afterward, Eichel cemented himself as a hockey villain to Sabres fans in his postgame interview.

While Eichel was obviously caught at an emotional time, his accusations to Sabres fans will do him no favors this time around. Since then Eichel has tried to walk back his comments, but they won’t be forgotten. You can’t call out a fanbase as passionate as Buffalo and come out unscathed. To say that the fans didn’t care is completely false, as the arena was close to full for his first practice. Eichel represented hope for a city that needed it. He gave his best effort, but both he and the team failed because of poor decisions from the front office. But none of that matters now. For better or worse, every single time he comes and plays in the KeyBank Center, he will be met by a chorus of boos.

Walking out of the arena after last year’s game, I figured that would be the end of it. The fans got their boos in and both parties could move on. Obviously, that can’t be the case now, and never will be. Eichel is a villain for Buffalo fans, and he always will be. That isn’t a bad thing. Rivals make sports fun and the Sabres have lacked a serious rivalry since 2011 when Boston Bruins’ Milan Lucic ran Ryan Miller. Even that was short-lived, as the Sabres blew their team up shortly after that.

Being a Sabres fan hasn’t been easy for the past decade. When Tim Murray went up to the stage and announced that the Sabres drafted Eichel the suffering was supposed to end. The Sabres, however, continued to play poorly for years to come. When Eichel was traded away, he became the scapegoat for those six years of poor play. That pent-up anger was directed at Eichel his first time coming back and will be worse for him the second time around. Jack Eichel made this bed for himself, and now he has to sleep in it.