Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Evaluating Jason Spezza

The Toronto Maple Leafs add veteran centre Jason Spezza to the mix. He may come at a minuscule cap hit but his numbers look anything but.

Embed from Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a handful of small signings when the free agent window opened up on July 1st. The most notable of these moves was adding 36 year old centre, Jason Spezza. Spezza signed a 1 year, $700,000 deal for league minimum salary. That’s a very cheap price to pay for centre of Spezza’s ilk, even given his decline over the past couple years. Spezza is however a very rich man, with his career total earnings in the NHL considered to be over $85M, his current focus seems to be on silverware. The 5-time 30-goal scorer, who hails from Mississauga, Ontario (also home of John Tavares), credited his love of the game and desire to win a cup as his reasoning for coming home. Whilst the deal he signed comes with absolutely no risk there are concerns about how much Spezza can truly offer the Leafs.

There is no denying Spezza was a 1st line centre in his prime, however, given the Leafs depth down the middle there are questions surrounding where exactly Spezza fits. He spoke with media following the signing of his contract and stated Babcock sees him as a good complementary fit for the team. He stated Babcock will likely give him time on both special teams and as a bottom 6 forward at 5 on 5.

The Numbers

Although Spezza spoke on needing to acclimate to a different role as bottom 6 forward, his minutes have slowly diminished through the few past few seasons. Over the past two years Spezza has been down around 13 minutes of ice time a night. Even in this diminished role he still contributes as a positive possession player for his team when he is on the ice. Over his career Spezza is a 52.5% Corsi (+3.0%rel.) and a 51.7% Fenwick (+0.9%rel.). Most impressive is that his Corsi rel. last season matched his career average whilst his Fenwick rel. was more than double his career average +2.0%. This is a positive sign that whilst he may not be producing the points he once was, Spezza certainly isn’t being outplayed by opposition matchups.

screenshot of hockey-reference.com

Spezza has also never been a below 50% face-off man in his entire career. In fact, last season Spezza led his team (58.2% FO) second only to Martin Hanzal who only appeared in 7 games. Whilst the above stats show that Spezza was a positive possession player for Dallas and his line outshot and out-chanced the opposition at 5 on 5, they didn’t outscore them. Spezza was a -13 for 2018-19, however, there is pause for optimism with this stat. While on the ice his team shot as a measly 6.1% shooting percentage, well below the teams average of 8.3% and even further below his career average of 9.3%. The fact that Spezza experienced a heavy dip in both his personal SH% and his teams on ice SH% is a positive. Assuming this was just an off year and that Spezza’s shot hasn’t declined by such a large factor, this should move back closer to his career average. This is the cause for why his actual +/- doesn’t match his expected +/- in the table below.

screenshot of hockey-reference.com

Special teams

As previously mentioned, Spezza made reference to the fact that Babcock saw him fitting in on both special teams. The losses of Kadri and Ennis on the power play will free up a couple spots. Spezza mentioned in his press conference that he has played on the man advantage his entire career and feels very comfortable there. That was evident last season with him being the 4th highest PP producer on his team behind only Seguin, Radulov and Klingberg. Given Spezza’s ability from the face-off dot and his playmaking ability on Dallas’ PP from last season, he would be a welcome addition for his ability to win draws in the o-zone and move the puck.

Spezza also commented saying he would be used on all special teams. Whilst Spezza was a valuable part of Dallas’ PP, he hasn’t really ever been used on their PK. Spezza’s possession numbers however are pretty positive, he’s great on the draw, he’s 6’3 and takes up a lot of space. He is also a veteran of the game who plays a pretty sound 2-way game which should lend itself towards him being a successful penalty killer. These are all critical skills which certainly help if what he says is true and he does feature there for the Leafs.

Final Thoughts

Exactly where Spezza features in the lineup for the 2019-20 season at this point is unclear. The Leafs clearly have their top two centres sorted. Outside of this there is a possibility of Alexander Kerfoot or even William Nylander (unlikely) playing the third line centre role. Spezza will almost certainly play one of either the 3rd or 4th line centre slots. His ability to move up and down is a huge improvement over what the Leafs had last year in Freddy Gauthier if he fills the bottom centre spot. If he does player the 3rd line, hopefully this means the Leafs will run the Matthews and Tavares line out for 20 minutes each per night.

The leadership and role specific game that Jason Spezza can bring to the Toronto Maple Leafs is huge. The fact he brings all this at a league minimum cap hit is even bigger. The team Dubas looks to be assembling for this year may just be better than last years which almost all of us considered impossible a few weeks ago. This season should be a very exciting one and hopefully Spezza can contribute to help the Leafs get over the first round hump in the playoffs.

Sources: Hockey-Reference.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Mitch Marner Contract Expectations

It’s no secret that the Mitch Marner contract extension talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t close to being done.

Embed from Getty Images

Marner is coming off a great season. In 82 games played, Marner tallied 26 goals and 68 assists. He posted a career high in both categories. With Marner having an outstanding season, he’s going to command quite a contract and he truly deserves it. But, the NHL of course has a salary cap, so that makes things rather challenging for clubs to give the world to their players. With that being said, it’s evident that both sides are far from resolution.

Contract Update

Rogers Sportsnet analyst Elliotte Friedman joined Tim & Sid (Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro) the other day to discuss the Marner talks. Unfortunately, Friedman didn’t have great news for Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Apparently, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas offered the restricted free agent an eight year deal worth 11 million (88 million total) per season. Marner’s camp turned that offer down. 

Back in January, Rogers Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos mentioned that Dubas had (prior to the season) offered 72 million to Marner and that wasn’t in the ballpark that Marner’s agent, Darren Ferris was looking for. 

The good news is that the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t trying to nickle and dime Marner. If they were, they never would have upped their original offer. But, the bigger challenge is to determine exactly how to make Marner happy. 

Projected Contract

It’s been speculated that it would take quite a bit of money to extend Marner. A couple of weeks ago, EvolvingWild projected that Marner would get an eight year deal worth 9.79 million annually. They projected that he’d earn slightly less than fellow restricted free agents, Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes (~10 mil, 8 years) and Mikko Rantanen (~10.1 mil, 8 years) of the Colorado Avalanche. With the Leafs reportedly offering 11 million per season, they are going far above the projections and are truly showing Marner that he means a tremendous amount to the club. But, the thing that might be holding Marner back from signing on the dotted line has nothing to do with money.

Term Length

It’s got to do more with term length. Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen fewer players signing on for 8 year deals, especially restricted free agents. Auston Matthews signed a five year deal, William Nylander signed a six year deal, David Pastrnak signed a six year deal and Johnny Gaudreau signed a six year deal. Players simply don’t want to feel like they are locked into the same contract for a long period of time. In addition, with the salary cap continue to rise, players want the option to renegotiate their contract sooner than later in order to get a higher salary. 

Trying To End Their Contracts At The Same Time

In addition, the Maple Leafs have been trying to get their contracts to expire roughly at the same time. If you take a look at CapFriendly, you’ll see that Matthews, John Tavares and Nylander’s contract end at roughly the same time. Matthews and Nylander’s contracts expire at the end of the 2023-24 season. Tavares’ contract expires at the end of the 2024-25 season.

Based on when those contracts expire, I’m taking a wild guess that Marner’s camp wants a five year deal. With how things change from season to season, the Toronto Maple Leafs could look like a completely different club in a few seasons. They could be in a rough spot and might not be a contender. If that’s the case, Matthews, Nylander and Marner want to explore the market in five years time to see if they might be able to play in a better spot somewhere else. Unfortunately, it’s rather challenging to predict the future and my crystal ball is in the shop.

But, what we can realistically expect is that Marner’s camp isn’t looking for a long contract with the possibility of not playing with Matthews and Nylander for a few seasons. These guys are friends and they don’t want to separate, so it makes a lot of sense that they’d want to re-evaluate their situation sooner than later.

My Projection

Based on what I mentioned above, I think that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Marner will come to terms on a five year deal worth somewhere in between what Nylander and Matthews are getting paid. So, it’ll be very close to what EvolvingWild projected, except for the fact that it would be a five year deal. 

stats from hockey-reference.com, EvolvingWild

salary research from CapFriendly.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs

Can Kyle Dubas Improve The Toronto Maple Leafs Drafting?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled to pick up talent after the first round of the draft. Kyle Dubas (and his scouts) will look to change that.

Embed from Getty Images

In a Sportsnet interview at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, a reporter started his question to Leafs GM Kyle Dubas by saying, “You don’t have a pick in the first round…”, but Kyle quickly and coyly jumped in “Not yet!”.

The comedic moment does have some implications – the Toronto Maple Leafs have largely struggled in the past decade in picking up NHL level talent after the first round. With their first pick coming at #53 overall, after their first round selection was sent as a part of the Jake Muzzin trade, the Leafs will need to improve their drafting ability in rounds 2 through 7 in order to start restocking their prospect cupboard.

A Look At The Past

As mentioned, the Leafs have struggled throughout the past 10 years at picking up NHL quality players after the first round. They made no mistakes with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. But, success has been limited after those three. The graph below depicts the Leafs selections by round and uses their Games Played as a metric of success.

visual created by Ryan Ghizzoni, data from hockey-reference.com

As you can see, besides the 1st round selections, Connor Brown is the only Leafs player above 200 games played. Travis Dermott, Josh Leivo and Andreas Johnsson were good selections and have made an impact for the big club, but the rest are mainly AHLers who fizzled out and provided little in value. None of this is to say that drafting in later rounds is easy – other analysts (Michael Schuckers, notably) have illustrated the steep drop-off in talent after the top round 1 selections. However, the Leafs have consistently under-performed in games played by draftees after round 1 when you compare them to the league average in drafting in every year since 2010. The below visual shows just how far off the Toronto Maple Leafs are.

visual created by Ryan Ghizzoni, data from hockey-reference.com

Specifically, the chart illustrates the average number of games played for selections after the 1st round of the draft. The grey line displays the league average for each year of the draft, with the Leafs in orange. The more recent things get, the harder it is to make concrete statements about success. Prospects can take several years to develop into NHLers. But, the Leafs will need to be better than they have to take another step on the road to cup contention.

*Trying* To See The Future

A staunch Leafs optimist would point out Mark Hunter‘s archaic drafting style of selecting big, tall defensemen only to see them stall out in juniors or the AHL, and point to Dubas’s progressive and analytical prowess as reasons for future success. A pessimist would point out the great difficulty involved in selecting players late in the draft, and question the impact one man can have on selections. The answer is usually somewhere in between – but I think guided by a GM that is willing to recognize changes in the skill makeup of the league should propel the Leafs to at least above average in draft ability, and hopefully even higher given their need for prospects and additional scoring depth moving forward.

Data from HockeyReference.com

Visuals from Ryan Ghizzoni

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler

Puck77

Top 10 Bounce Back Candidates for the 2019/20 NHL Season

Which players in line for a bounce back season?

Every season there is always a couple great players that have a bad season where you go, “What Happened??” (Looks at the career of Scott Gomez and cringes).

Now sometimes it is because of injury, some because of going to a new team and some just get old. Point is these players can’t always have perfect seasons unless you’re Nicklas Lidstrom and your nickname is the “Perfect Human.” So I am here today to give these players and you some optimism for some players that I think can have a bounce-back season!

For this list, I won’t be including Rookies, because they have just one season on record, or players over 35 because of the likelihood they bounce back is very low. Also will not include goalers because guessing what goalie is going to be “good and bad” from season to season is like trying to find Brad Marchand‘s tears on the ice after game 7. (Too soon?) Anyway let’s get into it

10. Ondrej Palat (28 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 64 Games Played, 8 Goals, 26 Assists, 34 points, +4

Embed from Getty Images

Remember the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015 when they had that cute triplet line of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat? It looked like all three would be the new cornerstones of the team. Since then the Lightning has seen Kucherov become a perennial candidate for the Art Ross Trophy, Johnson hasn’t had over 50 points since that 2015 season and Ondrej Palat just hasn’t been healthy. Over the last 3 seasons Palat has only played 195 possible games out of 246 and prior to that hasn’t played a”full season” since the 16/17 season when he only missed 7 games. I am choosing him as a bounce-back candidate because the Lightning are going to need him to step up with the possible shedding of players following the rapture that was the sweep in this year’s playoffs and the likelihood of Brayden Point sitting out looming because of a contract dispute. Palat will get every chance on Tampa to get back over 60 points only if he stays healthy.

9. Derick Brassard (31 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 70 Games played, 14 G, 9 Assists, 23 Points, -19

When you get traded 2 times during one season usually that isn’t a good sign. A decent 3rd/ 2nd line center that can get you 40-50 points regularly Brassard had a rough time last year getting traded twice from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Florida Panthers after only getting 15 points up to the trade, then finished his season with the Colorado Avalanche with a combined 8 points during his time with the Panthers and the Avs’. So safe to say he had a rough year. As a UFA this summer he could end up being a great addition for a team looking for center depth and could surprise a lot of people after what was one of the worst seasons of his career.

8. Ryan Getzlaf (34 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 67 Games Played, 14 Goals, 34 Assists, 48 Points, -19

With only playing 67 games and 56 the season prior, combined with the team around him eroding quickly, the Anaheim Ducks Captain has been under some tough times. Being very close to my age cut off for players it made choosing Getzlaf a somewhat difficult choice but seeing now that he has a new head coach and a whole summer for him and his teammates to get healthy (The Ducks only had one player play the full 82 games last season) this could be a season that sees not only Getzlaf get high point totals but the Ducks team as a whole could rebound.

Embed from Getty Images

7. Rickard Rakell (26 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 69 Games Played, 18 Goals, 25 Assists, 43 Points, -13

This is the only time I will be putting two players from the same team on this but it had to be said. As one of my favorite players in the NHL, watching Rakell struggle with injuries and just look tired last season sucked for me as a fan. Maybe it was the factor a lot more stress was put on him with Getzlaf and Perry being out for major stretches of the season or even him dealing with his own injuries it just didn’t look like the Rakell I was used to seeing the last couple seasons and I believe with a strong healthy season out of him and his teammates he will be back over 60 points next season.

6. Alexander Wennberg (24 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 75 Games Played, 2 Goals, 23 Assists, 25 Points, -1

Prior to the 2017/18 season, it looked like Wennberg was going to be a core member of the up and coming Jackets core having come off of 59 point season and had just signed a 6 year, 29 Million Dollar deal. This deal looked like a steal because he was going to get 60-70 points the rest of this contract and was going to be the 1st line center that they needed due to them trading Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones. Fast forward 2 seasons, 141 games, healthy scratches and only 60 points combined later it looks like a contract the Jackets want to get rid of. I believe that next season is a make or break season for Wennberg with the Jackets not signing Matt Duchene the 2nd line Center position is his to take. If he continues to struggle though he will find himself on another team pretty quick.

5. Max Pacioretty (30 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 66 Games Played, 22 Goals, 18 Assists, 40 Points, -13

How quickly people forget a player’s struggles if they have a great playoff. During the playoffs having only played 7 games he scored 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points and all was forgiven. I was one of those people until I looked at his point outputs the last 2 seasons. During his last season with the Montreal Canadiens, he had only 17 goals along with 37 points (a full 30 point drop from the season prior) and had only played 64 games. He was then traded to Vegas the following summer and was promptly signed to a 4 year 28 Million dollar (7 Mil Average) contract not even playing a game yet with the team. This season he got over 20 goals again but had only 40 points and was injured. He started to get going later on in the season having gotten used to his linemates (Was often Paul Stastny who was also injured)  and it looked good and thus lead up to his playoff performance. Now, this season lets see if he can put it all together and get back to his 35-40 goal self having had a full season in a new system and hopefully better injury luck.

Embed from Getty Images

4. Drew Doughty (29 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 82 Games Played, 8 Goals, 37 Assists, 45 Points, -34

Bet you thought I wasn’t going to do any defensemen! For most defenders, this stat line wouldn’t be terrible (Besides the +/-) but for Drew Doughty who is considered one of the best of his kind, this was not a great year for him or the Kings. Having only been a minus player twice in his career this -34 stat sticks out. The point totals were there but the play all around seemed to lack. For Doughty, it isn’t like he just forgot how to play hockey but his level of play was not of that of his Norris Caliber of a couple year ago. When Doughty plays like one of the best D’s in the league the Kings do well. And while it may be a long shot for the Kings to get back into playoff contention a Bounce back year from Doughty will bring them that much closer.

3. Jordan Eberle (29 y/o)

Season Stats 2018/19 – 78 Games Played, 19 Goals, 18 Assists, 37 Points, -6

If you’re Canadian you’ll remember Jordan Eberle’s run in the world Juniors 2009 where he was an absolute monster. (Go look up his highlights from then you won’t be disappointed) If you’re anybody else then you will remember him being a cog of a very broken Edmonton Oilers team that traded him after one bad playoff performance. Which was his only playoff experience considering the team hadn’t made the postseason since 2006. Flash forward to now and you have a player who just signed a 5-year deal after having a great playoff. Eberle can get you 25-30 goals and 50-60 points. Last season didn’t go well for him and I expect after signing a nice deal, having a great playoff (9 Points in 8 games) and having gotten used to playing under Barry Trots, Ebs’ will be back as one of the leading scorers on this New York Islanders squad.

2. William Nylander (23 y/o)

2018/19 Season Stats – 54 Games Played, 7 Goals, 20 Assists, 27 Points, -4

The most hated, evil Villain Toronto has ever seen. As a Toronto Maple Leafs fan who is on Twitter, I can say for certain that if you like the Leafs and you’re on Twitter you either A.) Hate Nylander and want him off the team B.) Really LOVE Nylander and will defend him till death. There is no middle ground on Twitter. In real life, I believe in Willy and think that having a summer of training with the Leafs, a training camp and preseason with the Leafs and starting the Season with…. the…. LEAFS…. will do him better than chilling in Switzerland wondering if he getting a contract till December and not playing or practicing with NHLers.

1. Jaden Schwartz (26 y/o)

2018/19 Season Stats – 69 Games played, 11 Goals, 25 assists, 36 points, -6

So you see those 11 goals he scored in 69 games up there? Yea he scored 12 in the playoffs on his way to winning the Stanley Cup and nobody says one thing about the season he had. I don’t blame them. When you’re an integral part of a team that won a Cup you don’t talk about the horrible season he had but heading into these playoffs that were the question. Prior to this season, you could have guaranteed that Schwartz would give you 55-60 points a season when healthy. During the 2017/18 season prior to getting hurt, he was on pace for a career year in points with 59 in 62 games and there was no reason to think he wouldn’t break it this season. In saying that all the Blues had very bad seasons prior to the beginning of January to it is safe to say with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger and a reinvigorated sense of accomplishment, Schwartz is one the main guys I  believe will have a huge comeback season.

 

 

 

Clearing the Puck! Your Weekly Look at the World of Hockey!

Welcome to Clearing the Puck! Your weekly look at the world of hockey from the week of May 19th-May 25th. This week we look back on the Blues advancing to the Stanley Cup final, the Ottawa Senators have a new head coach and there’s a team who isn’t good but they know it.

Incase this is your first time, here is the rundown. What we’re going to be doing at Puck77 is putting out a weekly recap. There are going to be observations, summaries and some cool things that we noticed around the web from the NHL and the world of hockey from the last week. There will be 10 points every Saturday morning. Included will be links to articles from our website as well as many others to help fill you in on some of the best hockey and NHL content from around the web. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week!

St. Louis Blues Continue the Dream

The St. Louis Blues continue to defy expectations. Well known is the fact that they were dead last in the league, they made some changes and they have been one of the best resurgence stories in years. Led by some timely goal scoring from Jaden Schwartz and stable goaltending from Jordan Binnington, the Blues took the injury plagued San Jose Sharks down in six games. After losing the first game of the series in convincing fashion, many wrote the Blues off but much like every other time they’ve been written off this year, St. Louis fought back and counter punched winning four of the next five, not even needing a seventh game.

Video courtesy of Sportsnet

They had players step up at key times all throughout the playoffs and this series was no exception. Tyler Bozak provided the game winner in game four, Schwartz had a hat-trick in a pivotal game five and Binnington provided air tight play in goal as they shut the Sharks out in game six. The Blues magical run continues onto Boston for the Stanley Cup. Can their magic continue?

San Jose has to Face the Music

The sharks missed out on what may be one of their last true chances at the Cup. They face questions as to who stays and who goes as they have integral pending free agents Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton with limited salary cap space. What to make of their restricted free agents? Both Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier are in need of new deals as well. General manager Doug Wilson has a lot of work to do if he wants to extend the Cup Window another year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Erik Karlsson will be a part of those plans as he tweeted out this message, thanking Sharks fans and seemingly saying goodbye.


Tweet courtesy of @ErikKarlsson65

The message conveyed doesn’t sound like someone who realistically thinks there’s a chance to return. The questions immediately turn to captain Joe Pavelski. It’s likely the Sharks retain their captain but it’s no guarantee. There are a lot of questions in the Shark Tank.

Ottawa lands DJ Smith

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you think this is hilarious. If you are an Ottawa Senators fan, you are worried because of his failures as the Leafs assistant coach. If you’re an optimist, you’re just happy with the new blood. It’s probably best to be in that third camp. Last time DJ Smith was a head coach, he led the Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup in the 2014-15 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant in the bench of the Windsor Spitfires, winning two more Memorial Cups there. Having worked with and developed young players in the OHL, as well as with the Leafs, DJ Smith has shown the ability to develop prospects.

Now for the pessimist point of view. Smith was not great in his role with the Maple Leafs. He failed to scheme an effective defensive system and he lacked directing the special teams. His contract was up in Toronto and there was no guarantee he was being brought back. For more on the entire situation, you can check out this piece here by our very own Josh Tessler.

Puck77 Three Round Mock Draft!

It’s here! The team here at Puck77 along with many outside contributors completed a three round 2019 mock draft. Each team was represented by a different member of the team. Acting as that teams GM we tried to draft according to the route that we felt the team could do. From having players taken right before our picks to making off-the-board picks, this activity felt authentic and genuine.

Special thanks to all involved from the Puck77 team. Thank you as well to everyone from outside of the team that helped out and represented a team such as Steven Ellis (The Hockey News), CJ Turtoro (SB Nation), Tom Hunter (Puck Don’t Lie), Jesse Marshall (The Athletic), Jeff Chapman (SB Nation), Josh Walfish (Daily Hampshire Gazette), Ryan Quigley (SB Nation), James Reeve (Fansided) and Dave Stevenson (Fansided) for helping us out! They are all in the tweet below so make sure to give them a follow!

https://twitter.com/thepuck77/status/1130845172395257858?s=21

Corey Pronman’s Draft Rankings

Draft season is here for most teams and this week one of the best in the business released his rankings. Corey Pronman’s NHL Draft rankings from the Athletic put his rankings out for the subscribers of the Athletic to consume. He has some major differences from other public rankings and does a fantastic job explaining why he has players where they are. Draft season is always fun because the rankings can vary from person to person and let’s be honest, we’re all wrong in some things and right on others. It all comes down to watching, evaluating and then making your best estimation on who’s better than who. Check them out if you haven’t yet and you subscribe to the Athletic. If you don’t already subscribe, then you probably should.

Phil “The Thrill” on the move?

The lovable Phil Kessel could be in the move again. Seemingly on the trade block since donning in Pittsburgh Penguins colours, the sniper has been rumoured to be going to the Minnesota Wild for Jason Zucker and more. Including Jack Johnson and Victor Rask in the deal has been discussed as well. The Penguins have been trying to improve their backend on limited funds and seem to have settled on giving up Kessel, and his cap hit of $6.8 million, in order to gain a defenseman in a trade or free agency. It was first reported by Josh Yohe of the Athletic Pittsburgh here.


Tweet courtesy of @FriedgeHNIC

As stated above, the Wild don’t seem to be on Kessel’s list. He is said to be weighing his options and allowing time for other deals to manifest. Kessel is able to score goals and out to points without a doubt. His demeanour has been criticized as being slightly aloof while also managing to be abrasive with some teammates and coaches but he produces. Kessel can be a key cog on any team looking to compete for a Cup, but if the Wild are hoping that he’s their “Guy” then they could be falling into a problematic situation similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs did years ago.


Tweet courtesy of @Sportsnet

Finland, Canada Tie it at the Buzzer, Wins in OT!

The quarter finals of the IIHF World Championships went down on Thursday. Canada set to play the pesky team from Switzerland. A team that always seems to give the Canadians issues, the Swiss opened the scoring early in the game. After Mark Stone put Canada on the board, Nico Hischier responded at the end of the second period. With less than a minute left, Canada had an empty net while down 2-1. Hoping to avoid a second consecutive year of heartbreak at the tournament at the hands of the Swiss, they pushed for a goal. The hockey gods answered their wishes and with 0.4 seconds left in regulation, Damon Severson‘s point shot hit the Swiss goalkeeper only to trickle through, barely making it across the goal line to tie the game. In overtime, Mark Stone directed the puck into the net to give Canada the victory they never imagined with a few seconds left in regulation.


Tweet courtesy of @HC_Men

Similarly, the Finnish squad led by 2019 top prospect Kaapo Kakko was up against the reigning champions, Sweden. The game was back and fourth. Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals from distance, only one of which had a serious screen in front of him. This seemed to give the Fins all the life they needed. Fighting back to get within a goal, the Finnish team pulled their goalie. The captain of team Finland, Marko Antilla, scored his first goal of the tournament with 1:28 left in the game to tie it up for the Fins! After an offside review called by the officials, it was confirmed, Finland tied the game. Going into overtime the Swedes has the obvious advantage skill-wise as they were loaded with NHL talent including tournament leading scorer, Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (18 points in 8 games). That didn’t matter however as the Fins were relentless. Less than two minutes into the extra frame, Sakari Manninen streaked down the left wing and fired a laser beam of the far side shoulder of the future Hall of Famer, Lundqvist. Game over, Finland was onto the semis.


Tweet courtesy of @IIHFHockey

The other two quarterfinal games were competitive in their own right but neither held the drama of these two games. For a full recap of the days events, check out the World Championship recaps by Frederick Frandsen here.

Larkin can still have Lar-kids (I’m sorry)

If you’ve been following the World Championships, you know that Detroit Red Wings center, and likely next captain, Dylan Larkin has been one of the best players on the American squad. He produced five points in seven games, with two game winning goals including an overtime winner against Finland. He’s been a good 200-foot presence who has showed up offensively in the big moments.

What you also might know is that he didn’t play the final game of the Americans tournament, a 4-3 loss to Russia in the quarterfinals. The reason he didn’t play was that he was hit in the… how do I say this without getting in trouble? Let’s just say we were concerned about his future children. Thankfully all is well and his chance at being woken up with breakfast on some future Fathers Day is still there.


Tweet courtesy of @TSN_Sports

I don’t know about you, but that didn’t look pleasant. Sitting out the rest of the tournament definitely seemed wise. Also, credit for the terrible pun goes to Steve Dangle (Sportsnet, Steve Dangle Podcast) and Ryan Hana (Winged Wheel Podcast).


Tweet courtesy of @Steve_Dangle

All QMJHL Memorial Cup Final!

The Prince Albert Raiders continued the WHL Champion losing streak in the Memorial Cup tournament losing all three of their games. The last time a WHL champion won a game at the tournament was in 2015 when the Kelowna Rockets advanced to the final. The OHL champion Guelph Storm represented the league well but fell in the semi-final to the QMJHL champs in the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 6-4 last night. This set up a final with the host Halifax Mooseheads who won the round robin.

Video courtesy of Sportsnet

The years final is set to be the first all QMJHL final since 2006 when the Quebec Remparts defeated the Moncton Wildcats. The final should be great action as these two teams know each other well from playing in the QMJHL together. It should be an action packed, fast-paced and intense final!

“We’re Sh*t! And we know we are!”

We couldn’t leave you without your weekly laugh. Possibly the best story of the IIHF World Championships didn’t come from a team with crazy talent or an unbelievable performance. It was the fun loving, boisterous and recently hockey-crazed team from Great Britain. The British entrant was entertaining from start to finish. They had some great jerseys and even better personalities. As you can see in the video above, they got their lone win in overtime against France. The goal was outstanding and it cleared them of relegation, actually pushing France to relegation. The best part of the game though? The post game celebration. The entire team gathers together at center ice and chanted “We’re shit! And we know we are!” This is other level self-depreciation and we all loved it!

Tweet courtesy of @CaitlinSports

Thank you as always for joining me this week to clear the puck and find the news for the week! Tune in next week when we finally have some Stanley Cup final games played and the World Championships and Memorial Cup both conclude!

For more on the NHL, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information courtesy of NHL.com, Hockey Reference, the IIHF, the OHL, the WHL, the QMJHL and eliteprospects.com