July 4 — Happy Independence Day!

Last Night’s News 📰

SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON: Jim Montgomery will be the next head coach of the Boston Bruins, becoming the eighth coach hired since the end of the 2021-22 regular season. Montgomery comes over from the St. Louis Blues, where he spent the last two seasons as an assistant after losing his head coaching job with the Dallas Stars on Dec. 10, 2019.

MC-DONE-AGH: Extending the life of a Stanley Cup contender requires tough decisions, as the Tampa Bay Lightning demonstrated by trading Ryan McDonagh to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Philippe Myers and prospect Grant Mismash. By trading McDonagh, a core component of the blue line on Tampa’s two Cup winners, the Lightning will shed $6.75 million from their cap sheet in the next four seasons.

DOWN TO BOWNESS: The Winnipeg Jets hired Rick Bowness as their new head coach on Sunday. He replaces Dave Lowry, who went 26-22-6 as interim coach following the resignation of Paul Maurice. The 67-year-old Bowness, who began his coaching career as an assistant for the Jets, is 212-351-48 as an NHL head coach.

BAD NEWS PANTHERS: Over the weekend, the Florida Panthers announced that forward Anthony Duclair will miss the start of next season after having surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury. General manager Bill Zito expects the 26-year-old to return in the middle of the 2022-23 season. Duclair is coming off a career season, earning 58 points in 74 games.

SHARKS SEARCHING FOR SKIPPER: On Friday, the San Jose Sharks fired head coach Bob Boughner, along with assistants John Madden, John MacLean, and Dan Darrow, following a 32-37-13 record this season. Assistant general manager Joe Will is looking for a “fresh start moving forward.” After Bowness signed with the Jets, San Jose is the only team without a head coach. 

BROCK HIM UP!: Additionally, the Vancouver Canucks signed Brock Boeser on Friday to a three-year, $19.95 million ($6.65 average annual value) deal. Had the 25-year-old waited to become a restricted free agent on July 13, the Canucks would have required a qualifying offer of $7.5 million to avoid unrestricted free agency. 

Young Americans

It’s the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day in the United States. It’s also the week of the 2022 NHL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night. So, today seemed like a good time to look at the top American draft prospects in this year’s draft class. The top-two Americans in the 2022 draft class seem to be universally agreed upon by draftniks, with the top three in almost complete unison. Some outlets even evaluate them all as top-10 prospects in this class. Here is a brief look at these American hopefuls.

Logan Cooley, C

Barring something shocking and unforeseen, Cooley will be the first American to hear his name on Thursday night. He’s a top-five player in this draft class and is considered by many to be the second or third-best player in this draft class. The 5-foot-10 lefty is looked at as a dynamic two-way forward.

Logan Cooley, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

This past year, the 18-year-old Pennsylvania native tallied 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 51 games for the U.S. National U18 Team. Cooley, who is committed to playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota, also posted 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 24 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) and 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in six games at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) U18 World Championship.

Cutter Gauthier, C/LW

Gauthier, like Cooley, is widely considered a top-ten prospect. Son of former pro goaltender Sean Gauthier, Cutter was born in Sweden (because his dad was playing there at the time) but is a U.S. citizen. At 6-foot-3, the 18-year-old is bigger-bodied than the 5-foot-10 Cooley and is looked at as a prototypical power forward.

Cutter Gauthier, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Playing primarily on the wing to accommodate the other two on this list, the Boston College commit scored 65 points (34 goals, 31 assists) in 54 games with the U.S. National U18 Team. Gauthier also added 28 points (19 goals, nine assists) in 22 games with the USNTDP and nine points (three goals, six assists) in nine games at the U18 World Championship.

Frank Nazar, C/RW

Several outlets consider Nazar the third-best American in this class, while others have him ranked below other U.S. players like Isaac Howard, Rutger McGroarty, or Jimmy Snuggerud. Unlike those other three, Nazar is among the top-10 overall players in the draft in some rankings. The 18-year-old Michigan native is a 5-foot-10 playmaking forward with quick hands. 

Frank Nazar, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Nazar, who is committed to the University of Michigan, had 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games with the U.S. National U18 Team, 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 24 games with the USNTDP, and nine points (three goals, six assists) in nine games at the U18 World Championship.

They Didn’t Get These Drafts Right

At this time of year, re-drafts serve as a fun—and easy, with the benefit of hindsight—way of second-guessing the draft day decisions of general managers, demonstrating how different things could have been. Of course, some re-drafts bring more overhaul than others. So before you get too excited about your team’s haul this week, these head-scratching selections can inspire your organization to exercise some restraint.

2017 NHL Entry Draft

It wasn’t until the fourth pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft that Conn Smythe winner Cale Makar heard his name called (which suited the Colorado Avalanche just fine, mind you). In hindsight, it probably shouldn’t have taken that long. Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, and Miro Heiskanen preceded Makar, with only Heiskanen living up to his draft slot. Things didn’t get any better in the back half of the top-10, as none of Cody Glass, Lias Andersson, Casey Mittelstadt, Michael Rasmussen, or Owen Tippett have yet to reach 100 career points.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

It may not be immediately evident from looking at the top picks that year, but the loaded 2014 Draft class was overflowing with top-end talent. Sure, Aaron Ekblad has held his own as No. 1 (when healthy, anyway), while third overall Leon Draisaitl reigns as one of the best players on the planet. However, finding other superstars requires venturing deep down into the late first round (David Pastrňák, 25th), third round (Brayden Point, 79th), and even fourth (Igor Shesterkin, 118th).

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Hard to believe it’s been a decade since the 2012 Draft, an event that ushered in the NHL careers of top picks Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, and Griffin Reinhart. Morgan Rielly and Jacob Trouba represent the best of an all-time bad top-10. It was a pretty disappointing draft class overall, even if it did bring us Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th) and Filip Forsberg (11th).

Player Spotlight – Johnny Gaudreau

With the free agency frenzy just days away, the biggest name available is none other than Johnny Hockey—aka Johnny Gaudreau. The Calgary Flames forward is coming off a career season, earning 115 points, second-most in the league behind Connor McDavid. Plenty of teams will be interested in the 5-foot-9 winger if he decides to leave Calgary and find a new home. Fans know plenty about what he has brought to the ice, but what about his life outside of hockey? Let’s check-in.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Simpsons or Family Guy:

Family Guy

Who Is the Most Difficult Defenseman to Play Against?:

Victor Hedman

One Item You Always Travel With:


Who Is the Most Complete Player?:

Sidney Crosby

What’s a Nickname Your Teammates Have Given You?:

Johnny Ham-and-Cheese

Who Is the Best Stick-Handler in the NHL?:

Connor McDavid