July 8 — Bienvenue à Montréal, Juraj Slafkovský

Last Night’s News 📰

RIP MARSH: Bryan Marchment, a 17-year NHL veteran defenseman and professional scout for the San Jose Sharks died on Wednesday while attending the 2022 Draft in Montreal. Marchment, 54, racked up 182 points and 2,307 penalty minutes in 926 NHL games with nine teams. 

LE-TANGING AROUND: Kris Letang agreed to a six-year, $36.6 million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday, keeping him in black and gold until he is 41 years old, barring a trade. Letang is hopeful that his $6.1 million annual average value (AAV) will allow Evgeni Malkin to re-sign. 

WILD FLOWERS IN BLOOM: Bad news for those hoping all former Pittsburgh fan-favorites would return to the Penguins, as Marc-André Fleury signed a two-year, $7 million extension with the Minnesota Wild. Fleury, set to hit free agency on July 13, posted a 9-2-0 record with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage after going from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Wild for a 2022 second-round pick at the trade deadline. 

GEORGIEV OVER KUEMPER?: Before the draft began, the Colorado Avalanche traded their 2022 third- and fifth-round picks and a 2023 third-rounder for Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers. With Darcy Kuemper unsigned heading into free agency, signs point to the Avalanche letting their starting goalie walk for the second year in a row. 

SUPERIOR SLAFKOVSKÝ: On Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens selected Slovak forward Juraj Slafkovský with the first overall pick of the 2022 NHL Draft. Montreal chose the 18-year-old over Canadian center Shane Wright, who fell to the Seattle Kraken at No. 4.

BLACKHAWKS MAKING MOVES: Chicago made three first-round selections on Thursday night despite the Blackhawks trading their pick in last summer’s Seth Jones deal. They added the seventh pick (Kevin Korchinski) by moving Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa and the No. 13 pick (Frank Nazar) by sending Kirby Dach to Montreal. Chicago also moved up from No. 38 to No. 25 by taking on the contract of Petr Mrázek from Toronto.

Friday Favorites

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

Lights, Camera, Action

On July 6, the NHL released the 2022-23 schedule, and the New Jersey Devils had some fun with it. Veteran defenseman Dougie Hamilton starred in “Dougie’s Great Adventure.” The two-minute video followed the 6-foot-6 blueliner traveling around Six Flags Great Adventure as he announced games against the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, and more. A highlight was seeing him say, “Hey Marty,” followed by an image of a goat. Well done, New Jersey! 

Madness in Montreal

The NHL Entry Draft started with a bang when the Montreal Canadiens selected Juraj Slafkovský first overall at the Bell Centre. New Jersey passed on Shane Wright, who was projected to go first, and chose defenseman Šimon Nemec with the second-overall pick before the Arizona Coyotes also passed on Wright for another center—Logan Cooley. Wright was finally taken by the Seattle Kraken fourth, and the Philadelphia Flyers selected Cutter Gauthier to round out the top five. 

Sharing Is Caring

One of the best parts of winning the Stanley Cup is sharing it with friends, family, and celebrities. Colorado Avalanche forward Darren Helm presented actor Martin Kove with the Stanley Cup last week. Fans may know Kove as Sensei John Kreese from “The Karate Kid” and “Cobra Kai.” The 76-year-old actor posted photos on Instagram with the Cup alongside goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Helm. 

The Slovak Draft

Before Thursday, no Slovakian player had ever been drafted higher than Marián Gáborík, who went third in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. After a shocking start to last night’s first round, not one but two of his countrymen have surpassed him. The Montreal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils can only hope that No. 1 Juraj Slafkovský and No. 2 Simon Nemec enjoy the career Gáborík had.

That said, can we talk about how wild it is that Slovakian players went one-two??? Nothing against the reigning Olympic bronze medalists as a hockey nation, but they’d only had four top-10 draftees in their admittedly short history as an independent nation. Heck, any country producing the top two picks in a draft is rare. Sure, Canada’s done it a bunch of times, but it’s only happened on two other occasions. So, how did those play out?

Russia – 2004 (No. 1 Alex Ovechkin, No. 2 Evgeni Malkin)

Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have been compared for years. (Flickr/clydeorama)

To answer the above question, pretty well! The 2004 Draft marked the first time that any country apart from Canada was represented with both the first and second picks, and it produced a combined 1,224 goals and counting. Ovechkin and Malkin have helped anchor Stanley Cup winners and stand as sure-fire Hall of Famers, even with active careers still going strong. For Montreal and New Jersey, this is the dream scenario.

USA – 2007 (No. 1 Patrick Kane, No. 2 James van Riemsdyk)

2007 NHL Draft – Image courtesy of KereRemle@flickr

Let’s take a moment to appreciate that each of the four players mentioned here is with the team that drafted them! I know that van Riemsdyk was re-acquired after a few years in Toronto, but he still found his way back to Philadelphia. Kane has been a critical component of three Cups in Chicago, and JVR’s 562 career points are still good for seventh among a pretty strong draft class.

The NHL, Brought to You By…

Last month, the NHL announced that Gatorade would no longer be an official sponsor after parent company PepsiCo could not agree on a new deal for the sports drink, which has been a league sponsor since 2006. Then, on Thursday, BioSteel announced it replaced Gatorade as the official hydration sponsor of the NHL. A Toronto-based sports drink company founded by a former hockey player, BioSteel had partnerships with USA Hockey, the United States Hockey League, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, and superstar Connor McDavid.

The sports drink company BioSteel, which already sponsors two-time MVP Connor McDavid, will now be an official NHL sponsor (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch)

The arrival of a new official league sponsor got us at Morning Skate thinking about what other food and drink brands would make good sponsors for the NHL. Here are a few ideas.

Anything Ice

The NHL is the only major North American professional sports league that conducts its competitions on ice. Therefore, any food or drink product with “ice” in its name should come to the NHL first when looking for leagues to sponsor. Ice Breakers (the mints) should be a sponsor, as should any drink product with “ice” as its moniker.

The NHL should have more ice cream sponsors (currently, the only official league sponsor that includes ice cream as one of its products is Nestlé). They should also have at least one official popsicle sponsor. Finally, companies that manufacture ice should explore sponsorship deals with the league before missing out on a prime opportunity.

Official Team Candy

Inspired by the Fun Dip craze that hit Columbus Blue Jackets fans last year (and my sweet tooth), I think every NHL team should have an official candy. Teams and fans can figure out what candy to pick on their own, though I do have some suggestions for a few organizations. Dallas Stars? Starburst would be a no-brainer. Carolina Hurricanes? A peppermint candy, since it kind of looks like their hurricane logo. 

I’ll provide a few more (weaker) suggestions. Vegas Golden Knights? HARIBO Goldbears (because they both have “Gold” in their names). San Jose Sharks? Uh, gummy sharks. Teams like Pittsburgh, Florida, and Seattle could also go gummy. I’m sure there are gummy penguins, panthers, and Kraken (Swedish Fish?) out there somewhere.


Everybody loves puns (or loves to hate them), so the NHL and food companies should take advantage of that when it comes to sponsorships. For example, General Mills could throw Chex and Chex Mix into many hockey-related puns if it was a sponsor. The league needs a restaurant like Buffalo Wild Wings or Wingstop to team up since the word “wing” is an integral part of hockey (right wing, left wing, Red Wings). And while we’re on the subject of chicken, a company or restaurant that makes chicken strips is missing out on the chance to use the term “goal-tenders” in marketing.