April 14 — Scouting Schedules & Dodging Drafts

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

50 YEARS IS ENOUGH: Long-time Boston College head coach and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jerry York announced his retirement on Wednesday after half a century spent coaching at the NCAA Division I level. The winningest coach in NCAA hockey history, York retires as a five-time NCAA champion.

ANOTHER BOSTON CLASSIC: The league officially announced that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be facing the Boston Bruins in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Jan. 2, 2023. It will be the first time the NHL repeats a venue, as the 2010 Winter Classic was at the historic baseball field. It will also mark the Penguins’ third Winter Classic, while it will be outdoor game number five for the Bruins. 

PETTY CASH: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman was fined $4,250, the maximum allowable by the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, for flipping the bird to Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane. Wild fans took to Venmo to help pay Hartman’s fine, including Kane’s ex-wife Anna.

THAT WAS OFFENSIVE: Three NHL games on Wednesday night featured 22 goals, led by Nathan MacKinnon’s hat trick in the Colorado Avalanche’s 9-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Nicholas Aube-Kubel and Valeri Nichushkin scored a pair of goals for the Avs, as Kaapo Kakko and Jack Roslovic contributed two goals in the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets victories, respectively.

Top-Shelf Thursday – Top Upcoming Matches

Mark your calendars, hockey fans! The regular season is winding down, and playoff hockey is only weeks away. A handful of teams have punched their tickets to the postseason while other clubs continue to fight to earn their spot. With a little over two weeks left, we decided to highlight some upcoming games that should be on your radar, starting with a game that could be a preview for the first round.

April 16 – Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues

It is looking more and more likely that these two teams will battle each other in the first round of the postseason. They played each other last week and, with overtime needed, it was Robert Thomas who scored the winner for the Blues. St. Louis has played its division rival 87 times and leads the series 45-28-5-9 (wins-losses-ties-overtime losses). One guarantee is that the hatred between these two clubs will be evident from the puck drop in Game 1 if and when these teams face off. Grab your popcorn and settle in for a preview of what’s inevitably bound to come. 

April 24 – Tampa Bay Lightning @ Florida Panthers

If there is one lesson hockey fans learned from last season, it was that the Lightning-Panthers rivalry is gravely underappreciated. Having these two play in the final week of the regular season will set the stage if they are to meet on their quest for the Stanley Cup. Florida and Tampa have played each other three times, with the Panthers winning two matchups and earning a point in a 3-2 overtime loss back in November. 

April 26 – Vegas Golden Knights @ Dallas Stars

Vegas-Dallas is the game to watch as the regular season wraps up. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference will inevitably go to one of these clubs. The Stars have been holding on strong while the Golden Knights are only three points behind. Vegas activated its captain Mark Stone, which will be an invaluable addition to the lineup as the Knights continue their fight toward the postseason. 

By the Numbers: Undrafted → NHL

On Wednesday, the Colorado Avalanche signed former University of Minnesota forward and Hobey Baker Award finalist Ben Meyers to a two-year contract. The 23-year-old had 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 34 games for the Gophers, whose season ended with a 5-1 loss to Minnesota State in the Frozen Four. He had not been selected in the NHL Draft, meaning he was eligible to be signed by any team following the conclusion of the NCAA season last Saturday.

Multiple undrafted free agents have signed with NHL teams since the NCAA season concluded on Saturday and many more are likely to follow. Let’s dig into some statistics on how these players have fared in the NHL (Note: these statistics are regarding players who were draft-eligible but not drafted).

Adam Oates lasted the longest of any undrafted free agent in NHL history (Photo by Mitchell Layton /Getty Images /NHLI)

1963 – Year of the first NHL Entry Draft. Before that, all players were technically undrafted. That first draft consisted of four rounds and 21 total players selected. Last year’s draft featured seven rounds and 223 players.

12 – Percentage of current NHL players who went undrafted, approximately. Some notable members of that list include New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin, Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano, Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault, St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug, and Minnesota Wild forward Mats Zuccarello.

7 – Hockey Hall of Famers that were undrafted into the NHL. Those players are Ed Belfour, Dino Ciccarelli, Joe Mullen, Adam Oates, Börje Salming, Martin St. Louis, and Peter Šťastný.

4 – Seasons that an undrafted NHLer won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. Belfour won it in 1990-91 and 1992-93 and Bobrovsky in 2012-13 and 2016-17.

1 – Skater that won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. St. Louis earned the award in 2003-04.

1,337 – Games Oates played in the NHL, the most of any undrafted free agent. His 1,420 points are also the most of any undrafted player. Ciccarelli leads the list in goals (608), and Oates leads it in assists (1,079). Among undrafted goalies, Belfour has the most games played (963), wins (484), and shutouts (76).

0 – Times Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player ever, was drafted. Gretzky began his career with the Edmonton Oilers in the World Hockey Association (WHA) before Edmonton protected him from the Expansion Draft as a “priority selection” after the WHA merged with the NHL. Therefore, although technically undrafted in the NHL, he wasn’t a free agent and therefore isn’t eligible for this segment. 

Have a Good Summer!

Tuesday night saw the NHL debuts of Owen Power and Matty Beniers, former Michigan teammates and the top two picks of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Power finished a plus-2 while playing nearly 20 minutes in a 5-2 win over Auston Matthews and the high-powered Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, Beniers picked up his first career point by assisting on Ryan Donato’s game-opening first-period goal with the Seattle Kraken.

The two top prospects—one of whom we’ll cover further later—represent franchises already looking beyond this season. As we continue to offer some acknowledgment to the league’s non-playoff teams, here are three more clubs that fit this description:

Chicago Blackhawks

Saying the wheels have come off in Chicago would probably be a generous assessment of the current situation. Losers of eight straight, the Blackhawks look every bit the under-achieving group that has checked out of what has been an incredibly tumultuous season. This summer could bring about a complete rebuild and the possible exits of foundational pillars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. If you’re looking for optimism in the Windy City, a fresh start certainly couldn’t hurt.

Buffalo Sabres

In a different sport in a different era, the saying once went, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.” In Buffalo, it might now be “Dahlin and Power and pray for a shower.” Tage Thompson’s 33-goal campaign suggests more young talent here than simply two defensemen. However, first-overall picks Rasmus Dahlin and Power are essential to the future of the Buffalo Sabres and could be ready to patrol the blue line for years to come.

Detroit Red Wings

An encouraging first 25 games (13-9-3) in Motown quickly gave way to an expectantly bumpy ride (15-26-7) in the time since. However, there’s plenty for Red Wings fans to get excited about apart from their record. Both Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider will likely factor into the Calder Trophy race at the season’s end, while top defensive prospect Simon Edvinsson, depending on his NHL status, could be in the mix for next year’s Calder, too.

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule