July 1 — Happy Canada Day!

Last Night’s News 📰

WOMEN IN WASHINGTON: History transpired yesterday as the Washington Capitals promoted Emily Engel-Natzke to video coordinator, making her the first woman to be a full-time coach in the NHL. Engel-Natzke honed her craft under Tony Granato for three seasons at the University of Wisconsin before joining the Hershey Bears (AHL) in 2020. 

GENTLEMEN PREFER (LA)LONDES: The Detroit Red Wings hired Derek Lalonde as their new head coach on Thursday, replacing Jeff Blashill, whom the team parted ways with on April 30 after seven seasons. Lalonde, 49 years old, spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, including their 2020 and 2021 Cup-winning teams.

KING KEVIN: Thursday saw the first big splash of the offseason, with the Los Angeles Kings acquiring Kevin Fiala from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for the Kings’ 2022 first-round pick (No. 19 overall) and defensive prospect Brock Faber. Upon the announcement, the Kings reported that Fiala had signed a seven-year, $55.13 million contract with LA.

SAINT JOHN CAPTURES CUP: Memorial Cup host Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 on Wednesday to capture the second Cup in the organization’s history. New York Islanders prospect William Dufour finished the tournament with seven goals and one assist, taking home the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy for tournament MVP and the Ed Chynoweth Trophy for top scorer.

SABRES SIGN ANDERSON: Craig Anderson signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. With his signing, Anderson is the only goalie currently under contract for the Sabres next season after being one of six goalies utilized by Buffalo this past year.

FASHION FORWARD: Mitchell & Ness, an international lifestyle nostalgia brand, is receiving official rights to create apparel and accessories for the NHL and its 32 teams in an agreement with the league and Fanatics. The new collection will release in November across the Fanatics websites, NHL teams’ official websites, and in-arena stores. 

Friday Favorites

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

Turn the Lights Out, Carry Me Home

Following a two-month battle, the Stanley Cup belongs to the Colorado Avalanche! It marks the third championship in franchise history and the first since 2001. Defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy, and Joe Sakic won the Stanley Cup as the general manager of the team he formerly played. In the span of five seasons, the club went from the worst team in the league to champions giving hope to other fans around the NHL (I’m looking at you, Arizona and New Jersey). 

Landeskog’s Daughter Steals the Show

It’s official, Landeskog’s 2-year-old daughter Linnea is officially living our dream life. Photos and videos of the Avalanche captain holding the Cup while his daughter takes a drink out of it made the rounds on social media. Landeskog’s toddler is the same size as Lord Stanley, making it much sweeter. 

Standin’ in the Hall of Fame

This week the 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class was announced. If you’re a fan of the Vancouver Canucks you will be thrilled to learn that the inductees include Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin, and Daniel Sedin. Longtime Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish sensation Riikka Sallinen, and Herb Carnegie also got the nod. Congrats to all! 

The Burgundy and Blue Parade

Colorado held its Cup parade yesterday, producing tons of content for fans to digest! One of the best moments was when the police stopped Bowen Byram as he tried to make his way back to the truck, thinking he was a fan. Another player who had his viral moment on Twitter was Nazem Kadri. He showed up wearing a “Too Many Men” t-shirt referencing his team’s Game 4 overtime victory. If I can quote Barney Stinson, that is legen—wait for it, and I hope you’re not lactose-intolerant because the second half of that word is—dary!

Canada D’Eh!

Canadians make up 43.1% of active NHL players. Despite inroads made by other countries in growing the game and producing top-end talent, that still represents the highest percentage of players from any nationality by a significant margin. Among NHL teams, however, the story is different. The seven teams in Canadian markets make up roughly 22% of the league, but no Canadian squad has lifted the Stanley Cup in nearly 30 years.

On behalf of all Canadians, this has to change. So in honor of Canada Day, let’s look at some of the top candidates to break through north of the border and why there’s hope that they may finally be the team to bring the Cup home.

Edmonton Oilers

For years, the Edmonton Oilers have been a league-wide marvel for their ability to disappoint despite boasting the otherworldly duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. This past season McDavid and Draisaitl produced their typical brand of magic on the ice, as the team finally followed suit by knocking off the rival Calgary Flames en route to the Western Conference Final. Suddenly, the Oilers are on the shortlist of bona fide Cup contenders for 2022-23.

Toronto Maple Leafs

When we last left the Toronto Maple Leafs, they were doing the same thing they’ve done for the last six years: losing in the first round of the playoffs. But taking the Cup finalist Tampa Bay Lightning to seven intense games looks pretty good in hindsight. There is too much talent here amongst Hart Trophy winner Auston Matthews and company to continue the trend of Round 1 ousters. When this team gets that playoff series win monkey off their back, then watch out!

Calgary Flames

Coming out on the losing end of the Battle of Alberta shouldn’t take away from the fact that the Calgary Flames spent much of the 2021-22 season looking the part of a future Cup winner. Dynamic offensive attack? Check, so long as free agents Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk stick around. Solid goaltending? Thank you, Jacob Markström. Tough defensive play? With Jack Adams Award winner Darryl Sutter behind the bench, it better be!

Trades, Trades, Trades

The NHL offseason is now in full swing, with the NHL Draft less than a week away (next Thursday) and free agency starting the week after (July 13). That also means there will be several trades in the coming weeks, and the first domino fell on Thursday when the Minnesota Wild traded 25-year-old forward Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings. Fiala signed a seven-year contract with the Kings a day later.

Fiala, who was nowhere close to a new contract with the Wild heading into restricted free agency, was one of the most mentioned names of players most likely to get traded this offseason. With him off the board, here are some other players who could be on a different team sooner than later.

Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes

Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Chychrun was the subject of plenty of trade talk heading into the 2022 Deadline, but the Coyotes ultimately held on to him. Following a breakout 2020-21 season in which he tallied 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists) in 56 games, the 24-year-old defenseman wasn’t as productive offensively this year, finishing with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 47 games. However, he’s still young and talented, and he’s under contract for three more seasons, so he should be highly sought after and will probably demand a hefty return.

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Speaking of hefty returns, this is probably the player rumored to be on the trade block who will require the most assets to acquire. DeBrincat scored 78 points (41 goals, 37 assists) in 82 games this season and has 307 points (160 goals, 147 assists) in 368 career NHL games. The Blackhawks appear to be in a rebuild, and the 24-year-old forward is young enough to potentially be a significant part of the team the next time they contend. Chicago could get a lot of assets in return for a young impact forward with one year until restricted free agency and two years until unrestricted free agency.

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Miller will likely command a pretty penny in free agency next year, which is why he is the subject of trade rumors. If the Canucks don’t think they can re-sign him, they might want to trade him, especially with his draft stock as high as it is right now. The 29-year-old center is coming off a career season in which he registered 99 points (32 goals, 67 assists) in 80 games. Miller and the Canucks are not close on a potential new deal, so he could be the next trade domino to fall, especially with the draft next week.

Honorable Mentions: Jesse Puljujärvi (Edmonton Oilers), Brock Boeser (Canucks), Tyson Barrie (Oilers), Jeff Petry (Montreal Canadiens), John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks)