August 23 — RIP Rod Gilbert

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 50 days

The Morning Skate team, along with the rest of the hockey world, is mourning the sudden and shocking deaths of Delta Hockey Academy’s Caleb Reimer (16 years old), Parker Magnuson (17), and Ronin Sharma (16). All three perished following a tragic one-vehicle car accident on Saturday. We are sending our love to your family, teammates, friends, and community. Rest in peace.

Friday’s Forecheck

TRUE BLUE: Though it comes as no surprise, both Kent Johnson and Matty Beniers will return to the Michigan Wolverines for the upcoming season, joining No. 1 overall pick Owen Power in Ann Arbor.

Saturday’s Snipes

FLYING HIGH: The Flyers and defenseman Travis Sanheim came to terms on a two-year, $4.675 million deal, avoiding arbitration with the restricted free agent.

Sunday’s Cellys

BREAKING THE ICE: Both the United States and Canada opened the IIHF Women’s World Championship with consecutive wins. Most recently, Canada topped ROC 5-1 after outshooting them 62-7, while forward Hilary Knight tied Cammi Granato’s all-time goal record (44) in the Americans’ 3-0 win over Finland.

ACROSS THE (FROZEN) POND: Liam Stewart, son of Rod Stewart, was planning on playing all season in the United Kingdom, but has sadly been sidelined by an injury before he even had a chance to play. Get well soon, Liam!

REST IN PEACE: Rangers legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert passed away on Sunday at the age of 80. He spent his entire 18-year career in New York, earning the nickname “Mr. Ranger.”

Spotted 👀

Believe it or not, the offseason is wrapping up. While some of our favorite players are soaking up one last vacation, others are on their way to an NHL city near you. Let’s check in…

Go Girl, it’s Your Birthday

You know what they say about the family that plays together…Jonathan Bernier and his family celebrated his wife Martine’s 35th birthday at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. It will be the last family vacation until they move to New Jersey to begin Bernier’s first season with the Devils.

It’s a Nice Day for a White Wedding

Tyler and Cat Toffoli jetted to Michigan to celebrate the wedding of his former Kings teammate Alec Martinez and wife Emily in Traverse City. Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell was also spotted in attendance celebrating the happy couple.

Family Affair

Claude Giroux and his wife are soaking up their time in Ottawa. The Flyers captain is adapting to being parents of two as he and Ryanne welcomed their second son Palmer a couple of weeks ago. Palmer joins big brother Gavin in giving the Colemans a run for their money as the cutest NHL family.

Henrik Lundqvist by the Numbers

The King has officially stepped down. On August 20, 2021, Lundqvist posted the news on his social media accounts, stating that he is excited for the future and grateful for the 15 years he took the ice with the New York Rangers. Lundqvist will go down as one of the best players in the NHL without a Stanley Cup. Let’s look at his NHL career by the numbers, before he announces his new job as a model for Tom Ford.

887: Number of games Lundqvist suited up for, all with the Blue Shirts. His first career game was back in Oct. 2005 against the rival New Jersey Devils, making 24 stops on 27 shots. Throughout his career, Lundqvist appeared in five All-Star games and won one Vezina Trophy. He signed with the Washington Capitals in 2020 but never played a game before being sidelined with a heart issue.

30: The Swedish goaltender will be the last player to put on the number 30 for the Rangers. After announcing his retirement, New York announced they will be retiring his number this upcoming season. He will be the 11th Ranger to have his number raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden.

9: Lundqvist has been nominated for nine NHL Awards throughout his career. He was nominated for the Vezina Trophy an impressive five times, taking home the honors in 2012. In that same year, he was nominated for the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award for the most outstanding player during the regular season. Toward the end of his career, he received back-to-back nominations for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

1: In 2014, Lundqvist and his team found themselves in the Stanley Cup Final after he finished the 2013-14 regular season with 33 wins. It was the first and only appearance in the Final of his career. While it is always disappointing to be a couple of games away from winning the Stanley Cup, it is still an accomplishment to make it that far.

Cup or Crash: Predicting Your Favorite Team’s Season

Although there are certainly questions left to answer and loose ends to tie up, most of the roster-building is done for the NHL’s 32 front offices in preparation for the 2021-22 season, which is somehow just a month away. To get you set, we’ll be taking a quick look at where each team stands and what the chances are that this might be their season. Rather than commit to predicting how good each team will be, we figured we might as well look at both possible paths: good and bad.

Please follow along and look back as we traipse through the NHL four teams at a time — all done alphabetically — and examine why these teams just might succeed, but also why they could be poised to flop.

Seattle Kraken

Why Your Team Will Succeed
I mean, the last group of new guys around here did okay…

Why Your Team Will Flop
Okay, let’s not let one incredible expansion run create any expectations regarding a roster comprised of depth pieces off of every NHL roster. Philipp Grubauer might win a few games for Seattle, as Marc-André Fleury did for Vegas, but this roster isn’t blowing anyone away apart from the historical precedent.

St. Louis Blues

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Most of the headlines in Missouri have centered around Vladimir Tarasenko all summer, but the Blues quietly added some reliable middle-six scoring—Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich—to a team that still has plenty of holdovers from the 2019 Cup run.

Why Your Team Will Flop
Citing the 2019 Cup win to instill some relevance in St. Louis seems pretty forced at this point, doesn’t it? Not even playing “Gloria” will wash away last year’s disappointing fourth-place finish in the Honda West Division, resulting in a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Call me crazy, but this Lightning team might just have a shot.

Why Your Team Will Flop
Tampa loses 37 goals off their roster with the departures of Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Yanni Gourde. That scoring depletion could be a significant setback—for any of the other 31 teams in the league, anyway.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Last season brought a division title, the league’s fifth-best record, and a 3-1 series advantage over the Montreal Canadiens. Plus, Auston Matthews is a few weeks away from 24, Mitch Marner just got there in May, and William Nylander is still only 25. These guys aren’t exactly flops.

Why Your Team Will Flop
It’s weird that in the last paragraph, I only mentioned a 3-1 advantage and not an outright series victory. They surely closed things out, didn’t they??