Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 4 days
LAINE’S LESSON: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine scored a highlight-reel goal against the Detroit Red Wings in a preseason matchup. He taught Red Wings defender Moritz Seider a lesson on the play, who was exposed defensively and couldn’t recover. The Blue Jackets are hoping for Laine to bounce back after only producing 21 points in 45 games last season.
SHIFTING SABRES: Darren Dreger of TSN reported that the Jack Eichel saga could be shifting, as teams are getting interested after looking at Eichel’s medical files. Both sides are hopeful that a resolution can be reached shortly, meaning a trade out of Buffalo is looking closer by the day.
PRICE CHECK ON MENTAL HEALTH: Montreal Canadiens star goaltender Carey Price voluntarily entered the NHL/NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) player assistance program and is expected to miss a minimum of 30 days. His wife Angela posted on Instagram about how their family supports Carey through this process and hopes that it encourages others to seek help when needed. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, resources can be found here: Canada, USA.
FROM THE POINT: With the NHL officially back on ESPN, the network introduced a brand new show called “The Point,” which debuted on Thursday. Hosted by John Buccigross, the show includes Kevin Weekes, Emily Kaplan, and former NHL coach John Tortorella in the “faceoff circle.” Hall of Famer Mark Messier is featured in the Captain’s Corner segment.
TAKE A PROVISIONAL: A joint request by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the NHL/NHLPA asked that countries participating in the 2022 Bejing Olympics provide a list of three provisional NHL players to be included from the men’s national team roster. Players from Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, United States, and Canada have been announced this week.
Top Shelf Thursday – Top-5 Fictional Hockey Fans (TV)
As a hockey fan, it is always exciting to see any NHL team represented on your favorite show. With the season starting next week, the Morning Skate crew thought about what it would be like to attend a game with our favorite TV show characters. Tweet us who you would want to see a game with using the hashtag #THWMorningSkate!
#5 Mac & Charlie Kelly – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Will you end up at a hockey game or in the back of a cop car? Who knows, but you are guaranteed a night of antics with Mac and Charlie. There will certainly be a horribly thought-out plot that will go terribly awry, and Dee and Dennis will somehow make an appearance, but the good news is you will get to hang out with Frank. I guess there is a silver lining to every situation.
#4 Joey Gladstone – Full House
The lovable childhood friend of Danny Tanner introduced an entire generation to the iconic Winged Wheel. He combined his love for hockey and comedy to provide a true in-game experience. His jokes may dull by the end of the first period, but as long as he doesn’t bring Mr. Woodchuck, we can make it through.
#3 Joey Tribbiani – Friends
I did not do an official poll, but it’s safe to say that Joey was the most popular of the “Friends” group. Just as you were finishing your cup of coffee and questioning your second divorce, he would surprise you with tickets to see the New York Rangers. With ticket prices costing around $145, it seems Joey would indeed be a good friend to have. Too bad he isn’t around to hand out tickets for Lundqvist’s retirement ceremony.
#2 Seeley Booth – Bones
Booth is my kind of guy. He lives and breathes hockey, and can compare any life situation to an NHL game. He has hockey memorabilia in his office and will leave work early to make it to a Washington Capitals game. Being the problem solver that he is, Seeley will flash his FBI badge to not only get his beer helmet into the arena but yours as well.
#1 David Puddy – Seinfeld
To get the full fan experience, you need to attend a game with David Puddy. Your face will be painted with the team’s colors and beer will be abundant, as Puddy will provide the ultimate night consisting of pregaming at a Buffalo Wild Wings before stumbling into the arena to obnoxiously bang on the glass. Will you get escorted out of the arena? Maybe, but it will all be worth it because you’re supporting the team.
Fact or Fiction: Top Preseason Performers
As we near the Tampa Bay Lightning’s banner raising and the Seattle Kraken’s franchise debut on Tuesday night, the exhibition slate continues influencing roster decisions and building momentum for players still getting their legs back. While we know that the games mean nothing in the standings—try explaining that to the Lightning and Panthers—it bears watching if productive starts by the preseason’s scoring leaders will actually carry over once the regular season kicks off.
Arthur Kaliyev, LA Kings – Fact
In Wednesday’s newsletter, no one on the Morning Skate team tabbed Kaliyev to win the Calder, but maybe we should have. The 20-year-old from Uzbekistan scored in his only NHL game to date and has now recorded six points (four goals and two assists) in just three preseason games. LA might just have some young talent worth watching.
Brendan Perlini, Edmonton Oilers – Fiction
It’s always a fun story to see an unlikely outsider make an unexpected push for a roster spot, and Perlini is delivering such a narrative in the Oilers’ camp with five goals and one assist in five games. However, the 25-year-old winger lacks the physicality to be a bottom-six presence for Edmonton and won’t be gifted many opportunities within its top-heavy forward corps.
Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings – Fact
I mean, someone needs to score goals for the Detroit Red Wings, right?? Jakub Vrana’s pending shoulder surgery opens another opportunity upfront in Motown, and Raymond, who won’t turn 20 until late March, has been making his case emphatically. The 2020 fourth-overall pick has six points (two goals and four assists) in four exhibition games for Detroit.
MSk8 Debate 💬
As we head into the regular season, our crew at the Morning Skate will give our predictions for the 2021-22 NHL season. Today’s debate: Who will win the Vezina Trophy?
BF: Andrei Vasilevskiy just turned 27 and yet it’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that he only has one Vezina to his name (he’s been a finalist four years running). Nonetheless, here’s predicting he’s relegated to bridesmaid status once again, with Connor Hellebuyck getting his second trophy ahead of the Russian. A great goalie often let down by his defensive unit, Hellebuyck will now back up a bolstered blue line that added Nate Schmidt and Brendan Dillon.
KF: It is hard to not select Andrei Vasilevskiy, and it is honestly surprising that he only has one Vezina Trophy to his name. He has been a finalist for the past four seasons and will most likely be named a finalist again. With a defense corps that includes Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, and Ryan McDonagh in front of him, it will be tough for other NHL goaltenders to get on Vasilevskiy’s level.
JJ. Darcy Kuemper is going from playing on a mediocre team with the Arizona Coyotes to the Colorado Avalanche, who bolster one of the league’s best defensive corps. It’s easy to choose a goaltender such as Andrei Vasilevskiy, but there’s usually a season where a goaltender can be surprisingly effective. Kuemper has been one of the more underrated netminders in the league, and he is going to win the Vezina Trophy to gain recognition from the casual fan.
KK: If we were selecting one goalie who we thought would be a finalist for the Vezina, it would undoubtedly be Vasilevskiy. However, in terms of actually winning the trophy, I’m going to go out on a limb. Playing on a team that is built from the goalie out in what might be the weakest division, and with a lineup that will likely be better than most people expect, my vote is for Philipp Grubauer to take home the hardware.
VERDICT: Vasilevskiy leads the early Vezina race as a finalist, but it’s anybody’s award to win. Agree or disagree with our choices? Sound off on Twitter using #MSk8Debate or join the discussion on Discord.