August 12 — One Final Play ‘La Bamba,’ Baby!

Last Night’s News 📰

A LASTING IMPACT: Ben Stelter, the 6-year-old Edmonton Oilers superfan who inspired the team this past season on their way to a postseason run, passed away on Tuesday after battling a brain cancer diagnosis for the last 18 months. He was known for telling the Oilers to “Play ‘La Bamba,’ baby,” and made a lasting impact on star Connor McDavid and the rest of the team.

CAPTAIN CANADA: Following his two assists in Canada’s World Junior Championship tournament-opening 5-3 victory over Latvia, captain Mason McTavish tied a Canadian single-game record with four goals against Slovakia. McTavish added two assists in the 11-1 thumping, leading the tournament in scoring with eight points in two games.

IN AMERICA’S FABER: A scoreless first period opened the way to an active second, as Team USA notched five goals in the middle frame en route to a 7-1 win over Switzerland. After trading goals to open the stanza, Brock Faber tallied the eventual game-winner while the Americans bombarded Swiss goalie Kevin Pasche with 22 shots in 20 minutes of play.

WORLD JUNIOR UPDATE: In the third game on Thursday, Team Finland outlasted Czechia in a shootout on a filthy move by Los Angeles Kings prospect Kasper Simontaival. The win moves Finland into second place in Group A, five points behind Canada. Follow all the World Junior Championship action here

TOUGH BREAK: In the latest in a long line of setbacks for snake-bitten Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner, the club announced that the Swedish veteran will undergo hip surgery and miss the entire 2022-23 campaign. Barring a trade, the Golden Knights will have to lean on veteran backup Laurent Brossoit and AHL standout Logan Thompson this season.

MILLER TIME: On Jan. 19, the Buffalo Sabres will honor former goaltender Ryan Miller by retiring his No. 30 before taking on the New York Islanders. Miller spent the first 11 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Sabres and is the franchise leader in games played (540), victories (284), and saves (14,847).

Engagement Rings & Wedding Things

It has been a busy, and dare I say romantic, summer for some of our favorite players. The offseason is synonymous with wedding season, and fans have seen plenty of players walk down the aisle and get down on one knee over the past few months. Below is a two-part series, as NHLers have been feeling the love since the season ended. Please enjoy part one of Engagement Rings and Wedding Things.

Graydon Hall Manor

This beautiful event space in Ontario was the wedding location of Boston Bruins forward Taylor Hall and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse who both got married this month. Edmonton’s blueliner proposed to his now-wife in 2020, while the former Hart Trophy winner popped the question in Nantucket last summer. Hall made sure his dog Leo was part of the celebrations, and of course, little Aiden Nurse stole the show in his adorable little suit. Congrats to both of them! 

Three Weddings & a Santorini Proposal

Dallas Stars players are keeping themselves busy this summer. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood signed a two-year contract with the Stars and a lifelong contract with his now-wife Brittany, while Riley Tufte and Radek Faksa also tied the knot. On July 19, hearts shattered across the Lone Star state as Tyler Seguin got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend in Greece, leaving one Dallas fan to speak for everyone when saying, “It’s hard to watch someone else living your dream.” 

Castle on the Hill

After signing an eight-year, $68 million contract extension to stay in Nashville until the 2029–30 season, Filip Forsberg and his now-wife Erin ran off to Dunderry Castle to wed in France. Teammate Mattias Ekholm, who got married a few weeks earlier, was in attendance among other NHLers. Forsberg popped the question in Georgia last summer and married on the spot where the bride played as a child, as Dunderry Castle is her family’s château. 

The Connor Bedard Sweepstakes

Connor Bedard probably doesn’t need to make a big splash at the World Junior Championships to cement his status as the clear front-runner to go No. 1 (particularly given the recent knee injury suffered by Matvei Michkov). However, that hasn’t kept the 17-year-old phenom from tearing it up as a member of Team Canada. After two games, Bedard has two goals and two assists while doing nothing to suggest the hype is overblown.

How promising is Bedard? Several NHL clubs already appear to be positioning themselves for a better chance at the top pick and an opportunity to draft the Regina Pats star next summer. No executive would ever admit to it, but here are some teams that certainly seem ready to “bottom out for Bedard.”

Connor Bedard, Regina Pats (Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

Chicago Blackhawks

Despite the presence of high-priced veterans Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Seth Jones, make no mistake—the Chicago Blackhawks are in a full-blown rebuild. The selling off of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach this summer highlighted their intentions for the upcoming season, which could see Kane and Toews depart. And if that improves their shot at Bedard next June, then all the better.

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens were thrilled to land Juraj Slafkovský at the 2022 Draft to add to a solid young core that includes Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Dach. Of course, Bedard would be the centerpiece of the Habs’ youth movement. There may not be a complete rebuild in Montreal, even though the Canadiens have parted ways with Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen, Brett Kulak, Alexander Romanov, and Jeff Petry since the calendar turned to 2022.

Philadelphia Flyers

This situation isn’t where GM Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers planned to be after hiring John Tortorella—who doesn’t seem like the patient rebuild kind of guy—and being a heavily rumored destination for Johnny Gaudreau. Perhaps, though, it’s for the best. Gaudreau would’ve only done so much on a flawed Flyers squad trying to stay afloat in the Metropolitan Division. Bedard would make for an incredibly lucky (albeit eventual) consolation prize to a disappointing summer of 2022.

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona has seemingly been bad forever, but the perennial bottom-feeders have only picked as high as third overall since the franchise moved to the desert in 1996. Aren’t they due for some lottery luck? Probably not if you ask the NHL, who would likely rather not see Bedard play his home games in the 5,000-seat arena on the grounds of Arizona State University that the Coyotes will soon call home.

By the Numbers: Ryan Miller

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres announced that they will honor former goaltender Ryan Miller and retire his No. 30 on Jan. 19, 2023, before their game against the New York Islanders. They had previously announced in June that they planned to honor him and retire his jersey this coming season but had yet to set a date. The 41-year-old Miller retired last year following 18 seasons in the NHL, the first 11 with the Sabres. Here are some notable numbers from his career.

Ryan Miller will be honored by the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 19 (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

138th – Draft position of Miller, taken with the 12th pick in the fifth round of the 1999 NHL Draft by the Sabres. He arrived in Buffalo in 2002, playing 15 games his first season and three his second before finally settling in as the primary goaltender in 2005-06, starting 48 games.

2.22 – Miller’s goals-against average (GAA) during the 2009-10 season, when he won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie. He went 41-18-8, with a 2.22 GAA and a .929 save percentage (SV%) in 69 games.

4 – Seasons in which Miller registered five or more shutouts. In the four seasons between 2008 and 2012, he posted five shutouts three times and six shutouts once. He ended his career with 44 total shutouts, good for 38th all-time.

5-1 – Miller’s record during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He won tournament MVP, allowing just eight goals on 147 shots and leading the United States to a silver medal.

391 – Career NHL wins Miller had, the 14th-most in NHL history and most among American-born goalies. Of those, 284 wins came with Buffalo, the most in franchise history.

796 – Games Miller played throughout his NHL career. Miller appeared in 526 with the Sabres, 19 with the St. Louis Blues, 150 with the Vancouver Canucks, and 87 with the Anaheim Ducks. In those games (772 of which he started), Miller posted a 2.64 GAA and a .914 SV%.

8 – Miller will be the eighth player in Buffalo Sabres history to have his jersey retired. He’ll join Tim Horton (#2), Rick Martin (#7), Gilbert Perreault (#11), René Robert (#14), Pat LaFontaine (#16), Danny Gare (#18), and Dominik Hašek (#39).