August 9 — Hlinka Gretzky & First Forecast

WE CAN’T WAIT FOR: IIHF Women’s World Championship — August 20-31

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 64 days

Friday’s Forecheck

MAKING HIS MARCUS: Forward Marcus Johansson agreed with the Kraken to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, sending the veteran to the Emerald City after most recently suiting up for the Wild last season. The 11-year pro has 378 points in 684 games.

CALL THE NURSE: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse signed an eight-year extension worth $9.25 million AAV, ensuring the 26-year-old will remain in Edmonton well into his prime. He was seventh in Norris Trophy voting while averaging 25:38 time on ice last season.

ISLAND DREAMING: Defenseman Adam Pelech agreed to an eight-year contract with the Islanders, carrying an AAV of $5.75 million. The deal avoided an arbitration hearing that was previously set for August 11.

Saturday’s Snipes

STAY COOL: Bruins forward Charlie Coyle has a kiddie pool for his puppy—yeah, it’s as adorable as you think it is.

HOWLING IS FOR EVERYONE: The Coyotes are launching a new adult learn-to-play program that’s aimed at providing a safe, inclusive environment for members and friends of the LGBTQIA+ community. Registration is open, and check out these threads.

Sunday’s Cellys

HAPPY TRAILS: Former Senators goalie Anders Nilsson is hanging up his pads, concluding a career that spanned seven seasons and 161 games. All the best, Anders!

2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Just as the buzz from this year’s NHL Entry Draft started to subside, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup kicked off, and boy did it help quell our prospect withdrawal. If you were looking for storylines, you came to the right place: Unstoppable 16-year-old? Check. Incredible underdog story? Check. Thrilling come-from-behind win? You betcha.

Take a look at some of the highlights from this year’s tournament that was held August 2-7 in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Matvei Michkov-echkin

Matvei Michkov helped Russia to a perfect tournament record en route to winning the gold, and if you haven’t heard of the 16-year-old forward dubbed the “New Ovechkin” quite yet, you needn’t wait much longer. He’s got a good chance to be the face of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. In this tournament, the Russian phenom did not disappoint, as he broke Cole Perfetti’s scoring record after recording 13 points, including nine goals, in five games.

Yep, the same Perfetti who was taken 10th overall by the Jets in 2020.

Michkov is no stranger to accolades, and here’s a fun fact to blow your mind on a Monday morning: He notched 109 points on 70 goals and 39 assists in 26 GAMES in Russia’s U16 league during the 2019-20 season.

A Cinderella Story

Sure, the clock eventually struck midnight for Slovakia, but not before the team became one of the best underdog stories in recent memory. Despite the team’s 7-2 loss in the Final, the Slovaks earned just their third overall medal in the tournament, and winning the silver this year was their best-ever finish. They had previously won two bronze medals.

It was quite a ride for Slovakia. They were led by forward Dalibor Dvorksy (2023) who himself tied Perfetti’s record with 12 points in five games. They were certainly a lot of fun to watch, had a perfect tournament record heading into the Final, and showed they are primed to make their mark in international hockey in the coming years.

How Swede It Is

The bronze medal game featured neighboring countries Sweden and Finland pinned against each other, and the Swedes showed a flair for the dramatic, falling behind three different times before ultimately scoring the medal-clinching goal with only 28 seconds left. The triumph left the Swedes ecstatic while crushing any podium dreams for Finland, who held a one-goal lead with about six minutes left.

Sweden was led by defenseman Mattias Hävelid’s (2022) nine points, while forward Jonathan Lekkerimäki (2022) scored a team-high five goals in the tournament. Finland had four different players tie for the team lead with six points: forwards Joakim Kemell (2022), Jani Nyman (2022), and Topi Rönni (2022), and defenseman Kasper Kulonummi (2022).

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 year. 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 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.

Anaheim Ducks

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Third-overall pick Mason McTavish joins a young core that is able to take the next step thanks, in part, to the veteran leadership of the returning Ryan Getzlaf, while John Gibson continues to steal games.

Why Your Team Will Flop
Following a 17-30-9 season, the Ducks’ big offseason move was re-signing a 36-year-old who recorded 17 points last year.

Arizona Coyotes

Why Your Team Will Succeed
The Yotes are back with high-end prospect Dylan Guenther and more than 700 career goals worth of veteran additions!

Why Your Team Will Flop
Unfortunately, those veteran additions are largely washed-up players on burdensome contracts that Arizona absorbed in exchange for draft picks. The rebuild continues.

Boston Bruins

Why Your Team Will Succeed
The Bruins’ core is all back, including Taylor Hall, and surrounded by savvy depth additions, like Nick Foligno and Erik Haula.

Why Your Team Will Flop
Backstopping Boston’s perennial playoff-contending roster with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman is a lot like using the cheapest brand of motor oil in a Ferrari.

Buffalo Sabres

Why Your Team Will Succeed
I dunno, maybe Kevyn Adams and the Sabres will get a really good trade package for Jack Eichel.

Why Your Team Will Flop
Buffalo finished last season with a league-worst 37 points and are still expected to lose their best player. Let me say that again — the worst team in the NHL will almost surely be worse this season!