Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 71 days
LIVE FREE: To catch up on all of the latest signings since free agency opened up last Wednesday, make sure to check out THW’s 2021 Free Agency Tracker.
GREAT ONE, SIR CHARLES: Wayne Gretzky recently joined the TNT broadcast team as an analyst, and credited NBA legend — and TNT analyst — Charles Barkley for helping recruit him to the network. Nice work, Charles!
BERT & EARNING: Forward Tyler Bertuzzi agreed to a 2-year, $4.75 million AAV contract with the Red Wings, and will be an unrestricted free agent after the deal is up.
BUFFALO SAUCED: The Jack Eichel saga continues to get uglier and uglier with the Sabres, as the forward’s agents recently said the “process is not working,” in terms of getting a deal done. Rumblings are picking up, though, that the Rangers may be interested.
SERIOUS ACCUSATIONS: The NHL is reviewing claims made by the wife of Sharks forward Evander Kane, including accusations that the 29-year-old allegedly gambled on — and influenced — the outcome of games. The league, Sharks, and Kane all released statements regarding the allegations.
READY TO BLOOM: New Blackhawks goalie Marc-André Fleury announced he will in fact play for Chicago next season, ending a week of speculation around the Vezina Trophy winner’s future after his surprising trade to the Windy City. More on him below!
SHOW ME THE MONEY: There were 17 players that filed for arbitration by the 5:00 pm ET deadline — down from the 26 that elected salary arbitration last season. Click here for a full list of regulations, eligibilities, and players who qualified.
Old Faces, New Places
Every year seems to bring a new curious image of a widely recognized veteran suddenly clad in a jersey he isn’t commonly associated with. Free agency — and the sobering reality of the business side of the sport — make these jarring changes necessary, even if they can take some time to get used to for hockey fans.
So, who among this year’s crop of players on the move might look a little out of place and possibly require a double-take or two? Let’s look at a few contenders:
Marc-André Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
It took long enough to get used to Flower sporting the jersey of the Vegas Golden Knights back in 2017. Now, with the 37-year-old netminder’s announcement that he will join Chicago for the upcoming season, we need to grow accustomed to Fleury with the Blackhawks’ tribal logo emblazoned on his chest.
Corey Perry, Tampa Bay Lightning
This is kind of turning into a new annual tradition for Perry, as we track what new uniform the feisty veteran forward will don on a short-term contract. While two consecutive years of Cup Final appearances would’ve initially seemed unlikely as a member of the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens, it’s fair to say he’s a good bet for three straight after signing on with the Lightning. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
Alexander Edler, Los Angeles Kings
The news might have gotten lost in the shuffle a bit on a busy first day of free agency, but Alexander Edler’s decision to join the Kings on a one-year, $3.5 million contract brought an end to what had been a 15-year career with the Canucks. Taken by Vancouver in the third round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Edler had made Vancouver his home — meeting his wife and having two daughters. At 35, the Swedish defenseman now embarks on a new beginning in LA.
Ryan Suter, Dallas Stars
I suppose we should get used to seeing Ryan Suter in Dallas green, given that the Stars handed the veteran defenseman a four-year contract in free agency. We know that green suits Suter from his time in Minnesota — but after seven years in Nashville and nine with the Wild, it will still be an adjustment seeing him playing elsewhere.
The Hlinka Gretzky Cup
The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is an international under-18 tournament that was established in 1991. While the event is not recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation — the IIHF’s U-18 tournament is held in April and coincides with the CHL playoffs — the tournament began as a way to showcase the best prospects available in the upcoming drafts. Canada has won gold in 20 of the last 24 tournaments but will not participate this year due to travel restrictions. Germany will step in for Canada, making its first tournament appearance, and — without Canada in the running — there is room for a new team to win it all. Here are three teams that should be on your radar during this year’s event.
Russia has collected 17 medals in tournament history, including four golds. They won the tournament in 2019 and — since the event was canceled in 2020 — they are still the reigning champions. Keep an eye out for center Matvei Michkov, as the 16-year-old put up an impressive 109 points in 26 games in the Russian U-16 league. Michkov also scored a point-per-game in the U-20 division — 56 points in 56 games — as a boy playing against men. Russia is in Group A and will play against Finland, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic in the preliminary round.
Unlike Russia, Finland has yet to win gold — but there is a first time for everything. In 2019, the Finns placed fourth after losing to Sweden in the Bronze Medal game by a score of 5-1. This year they have two of the top prospects on their roster in Joakim Kemell and Emil Järventie. Finland will open the tournament with a game against Russia and will look to medal for the first time since 2012.
The USA as an underdog in an international tournament? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The US could easily be the dark horse of this year’s competition. The last — and only time — the States won the gold medal was in 2003. Most recently, they settled for silver in 2016 in a 4-3 heartbreaker against the Czechs. This year the US is anchored by defenseman Hunter Brzustewicz who will likely be a top-10 prospect in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. The United States is in Group B and will open the tournament against Slovakia. With Sweden and the newly introduced German team rounding out the group, the Americans have a great chance of making it to the semi-final round.