August 26 — Newly Painted Faces & Cover Model Numbers

Last Night’s News 📰

BROWNIE POINTS: Yesterday, LPGA tour standout Nelly Korda earned brownie points with her boyfriend, Andreas Athanasiou, by wearing a Chicago Blackhawks jersey on the 17th hole at the CP Women’s Open in Ottawa. Korda is currently ranked No. 3 and has been dating the newly acquired Chicago forward since 2019. 

PHIL KNIGHT?: Veteran winger Phil Kessel has finally found a new home, as the 34-year-old signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal to boost the Vegas Golden Knights’ offensive depth. Kessel has spent the past three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes and led the club in assists (44) last year.

TOP THOMPSON: Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed on Thursday that Logan Thompson is Vegas’ starting goaltender to begin the season with Robin Lehner out for the year. Thompson, 25, went 10-5-0 with a 2.68 goals-against average (GAA) and a .914 save percentage (SV%) in 19 games last season.

RETURNING HOME: Alexandre Texier has notified the Columbus Blue Jackets that he will not be playing for the team this season. Texier based his decision on the advice of the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and will return to Europe to be closer to his family. 

DISHING APPLES: Taylor Heise tied a tournament record with five assists as the Americans routed Japan 10-0 in the opening game of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) 2022 Women’s World Championships. Alex Carpenter found the back of the net twice, and eight other players scored as the US outshot the Japanese 62-6. 

POULIN THE STRINGS: Canada benefitted from an early major penalty and game misconduct to one of Finland’s best players, battling to a 4-1 victory. Captain Marie-Philip Poulin recorded a goal and an assist in the first period, leading the Canadians to a hard-fought opening day win.

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

Cover Girl

This week, EA Sports announced that Anaheim Ducks star Trevor Zegras will appear on their NHL 23 cover along with—drum roll please—Canadian women’s national team forward Sarah Nurse. Nurse is the first woman to grace the box of EA SPORTS NHL and the cousin to Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse has quite the resume, including an Olympic gold medal, an IIHF Women’s World Championship victory in 2021, and a Women’s World U18 Championship gold medal. Congrats on another impressive accomplishment, Sarah! 

Phil the Thrill Takes the Strip

The Vegas Golden Knights announced they signed veteran Phil Kessel to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. While the move does make some sense, it is still baffling and left fans wondering who in the world is doing the club’s math as their projected cap space is $0 (or -$8.1 million) according to CapFriendly. Last season, the 34-year-old put up 52 points for the Arizona Coyotes. Previously a member of the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Coyotes, Kessel only needs eight games to break Keith Yandle’s consecutive games played record.

Return of the World Cup Senior Writer Dan Rosen wrote an article on Wednesday announcing the World Cup will return in 2024. The last time the tournament took place was in Toronto in 2016. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly shared that at least eight national teams will participate, with games taking place in North America and Europe. Hockey fans can look forward to a 15-day tournament in Feb. 2024. 

The New Masks in Town

With all the significant moves and big swings taken by teams this offseason, some of the more consequential risks have come in net. Goaltenders always seem to be moving around in the summertime. However, these past few months have seen teams with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations address the starter’s role, bringing in a new face to handle the bulk of the club’s puck-stopping duties.

You likely heard about the moves when they took place. So, here’s a quick refresher on who’s tending where and what it means for those teams. While many clubs made notable additions to solidify their backup roles, this list focuses only on new starters.

Colorado Avalanche: Goodbye Darcy Kuemper, Hello Alexandar Georgiev

While you might suspect a reigning Stanley Cup champion doing all they can to run things back with as much of the same group as possible, the Colorado Avalanche acted quickly to address their crease. Before free agency even opened, Colorado acquired Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers in exchange for draft picks. Stuck behind Igor Shesterkin in the Rangers’ net, Georgiev is younger and cheaper than Darcy Kuemper—and might also be better.

Washington Capitals: Goodbye Ilya Samsonov, Hello Darcy Kuemper

Fresh off a Stanley Cup triumph, Darcy Kuemper is now DC-bound (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

“Starting goaltender on the reigning Cup champs” certainly looks good on a resumé, but the reality with Kuemper was that he was an adequate goalie propped up by a loaded Avalanche team. That the Avs acted so quickly to acquire Georgiev is a bit of a red flag. However, the Washington Capitals are pretty good, too, and even lackluster play by Kuemper should have Alex Ovechkin and company on track for a ninth straight playoff appearance.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Goodbye Jack Campbell, Hello Matt Murray

Residing a few hours down the road from their Battle of Ontario counterparts in Ottawa, the Toronto Maple Leafs are aware of Matt Murray’s injured and ineffective tenure with the Senators. Still, in a weak goaltending market, Murray was the gamble the cap-crunched Leafs chose to make as they head into what looks like a do-or-die season. Having Ilya Samsonov around helps, as does the knowledge that the club fared pretty well (115 points) amidst some underwhelming net play (3.07 goals against average, .900% save percentage) last year.

Edmonton Oilers: Goodbye Mike Smith, Hello Jack Campbell

New address, but similar challenges and expectations for Jack Campbell (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Quibble with the $5 million cap hit and five-year term all you want—replacing Mike Smith with Jack Campbell arguably gives the Edmonton Oilers the best upgrade of any team that addressed things between the pipes this summer. Following former teammate Zach Hyman, Campbell becomes the second Leafs fan favorite to bolt Toronto for Edmonton in just as many years. And like Hyman, Campbell could offer an immediate boost to the Oilers.

By the Numbers: Trevor Zegras & Sarah Nurse

EA Sports revealed the cover for “NHL 23” on Wednesday. This year’s video game—releasing Oct. 14—features two cover stars, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras and Canadian women’s team forward Sarah Nurse. Here are some notable numbers regarding the two young stars.

1 – Nurse is the first woman to grace the cover of the EA Sports NHL video game franchise, which has come out every year since 1991. Meanwhile, Zegras is the first Ducks player to earn the honor of cover star for the game (not counting regional covers).

3 – Both Zegras and Nurse began skating at the age of three.

4 – Nurse has four family members who are/were professional athletes. One cousin plays for the Edmonton Oilers (Darnell), while another cousin currently plays for the Pheonix Mercury of the WNBA (Kia Nurse). Her uncle Richard Nurse was a receiver in the CFL and her uncle Donovan McNabb was a quarterback in the NFL.

61 – Zegras scored 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) in 75 games in 2021-22, his rookie season. He was second among all rookies in points and third in both goals and assists. He was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, which ended up going to Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings.

18 – Nurse recorded 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in seven games to help lead Canada to the gold medal in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The point and assist totals were both Olympic records for a single tournament. Staying on theme, Zegras notched 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in seven games during his last international competition, helping the United States win gold at the 2021 World Junior Championship.

4 – Nurse and Zegras have combined to win four gold medals in international competitions. The 27-year-old Nurse won gold with Canada at the 2013 World Juniors, the 2021 World Championship, and the 2022 Olympics, while the 21-year-old Zegras won gold with the United States at the 2021 World Juniors.