October 22 — Rookies, Rings & Gretzky’s Guesses

On Tap For Today — San Jose at Montreal; 6:00 pm EDT; TSN4, NBCSCA | Boston at Buffalo; 7:00 pm EDT; ESPN+, HULU | Los Angeles at Dallas; 7:30 pm CDT; ESPN+, HULU | Edmonton at Vegas; 7:00 pm PDT; SN360, SN1, ATTSN-RM

Last Night’s News 📰

RETURN OF KOTKANIEMI: Jesperi Kotkaniemi made his much-anticipated return back to Montreal last night. He signed a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes that the Montreal Canadiens chose not to match during the offseason. Kotkaniemi returned as a member of the enemy and scored the third goal of the night, securing the Hurricanes’ victory over the Canadiens.

MCDAVID’S MILESTONE: Connor McDavid notched his 200th career goal when the Edmonton Oilers took on the Arizona Coyotes. The 24-year-old has been making headlines since his debut, and there appears to be no stopping the greatest player in the league. Here’s to the next 200!

PRESSING PANTHERS: Both Anthony Duclair and Sergei Bobrovsky shared milestone nights in last night’s game, as the Florida Panthers begin the season 4-0-0 for the first time in franchise history. Duclair played in his 400th career NHL game, while Bobrovsky made 30 saves in route to becoming only the third Russian goalie to record 300 career wins. Congratulations to both guys!

THE DEVIL WENT DOWN…: Nope, not to Georgia! Jack Hughes went down with a shoulder injury in Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Kraken, and yesterday, the New Jersey Devils placed the 20-year-old center on injured reserve. Good news is, no surgery will be required, while the bad news is his shoulder is dislocated and will take time, and physical therapy, to heal.

Friday Favorites

Let’s take a minute and review some of our favorite NHL moments of the week.

Sabres Stellar Start

It may only be three games, but Sabres fans deserve this impressive start. Fifteen different players have earned a point so far, including Kyle Okposo scoring his 200th goal, as it has been refreshing to see Buffalo winning as a result of the team effort. Additionally, the fact that the Sabres are allowing each player to have their own goal song makes everything that much better. Where else can you hear Miley Cyrus and *NSYNC at a hockey game? Party on Buffalo.

Teach Me How to Dougie

The New Jersey Devils opened their season in front of the home crowd at Prudential Center and it only took 17 seconds for the newly acquired Dougie Hamilton to score his first goal in a Devils jersey. As expected, the arena erupted into a cheer that has been missing since 2012.

Blingin’ Bolts

Tampa Bay received its Stanley Cup championship rings and they shine so bright you’re going to need shades. Included on the ring are many personalized touches, which feature head coach Jon Cooper’s locker room mantra and a nod to the Lightning’s back-to-back Cup victories. The only question remaining is: can Pat Maroon win four rings in a row?

Bring ‘Em Out, Bring ‘Em Out

This week, a few stars of the league returned after missing their respective teams’ season openers. Brady Tkachuk, Auston Matthews, Brock Boeser, and Yani Gourde all hit the ice this week, and it seems like the world is in a better place.

Making Herstory

While not NHL news, it is still one of our favorite hockey happenings from the past week. Katie Guay became the first woman to officiate an AHL regular-season game. Earlier this year, the AHL announced that it had hired 10 female officials to work the 2021-22 season.

The Young Guys Are Taking Over

It has been an incredible start to the regular season for various rookies in the league. Whether it is multiple prospects from the 2021 NHL Draft succeeding or players coming from overseas and surpassing expectations, the start of the season has belonged to the kids. Below are three rookies to keep an eye on as the season rolls along.

Dawson Mercer Lighting It Up

Dawson Mercer, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It seems like Mercer has embodied the Devils’ culture to start the season, as he has been the main antagonist for every team he’s played so far. He currently has 3 points in 4 games and has looked steady as the team’s third-line center next to Andreas Johnsson and Tomáš Tatar. He scored his first NHL goal against the Seattle Kraken this week, and the Newfoundland native had a whole province cheering for him.

Lucas Raymond Snipe Show

Lucas Raymond with the Frolunda Indians (Photo: Tommy Holl TT)

It was a great first week for Raymond, as the Detroit Red Wings winger scored one goal and two points in the team’s 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has made it clear that his shooting cannot be underrated, as many scouts believed he would be more of a playmaker at the NHL level. Playing on a line with Tyler Bertuzzi, who scored four goals in the first game of the season, and Dylan Larkin surely helps his point totals. Let’s see if he can keep up his terrific play as the season progresses and if the Red Wings can continue to collect victories. 

Cole Sillinger Is Here To Stay

Cole Sillinger, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Fun fact, Sillinger is currently the youngest player in the entire league, but it’s not apparent when watching him play. Playing with one of the most underrated players in Oliver Bjorkstrand, the dynamic duo has displayed chemistry this season and is making noise on the team’s third line. As a center, he drives to the net and creates space for himself by using his speed and skill. It’s not often that players drafted 12th overall can stick in the NHL right away, but Sillinger is making the case that he belongs in the league.

Gretzky Talks Expansion

During an “Ask Me Anything” session with Bleacher Report, new TNT analyst Wayne Gretzky—who is already making his mark on the network—looked to the future, outlining the three markets he thought might be the next expansion candidates.

The “Great One” weighed in: “From a practical point of view, the three I would say: I think Kansas City, I think the city of Houston, and the third one that’s the most obvious is Quebec City.”

To the extent that any of these potential expansion destinations are points of conversation, the three that Gretzky named are often floated in speculative looks ahead to where the NHL could explore to grow the sport. Still, hearing the best player in league history lay the groundwork by mentioning possible future NHL cities carries weight. At the very least, we can look at their viability as hockey hosts.

Kansas City

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in…Missouri?? Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Penguins almost moved to KC back in 2007 when Pens owner Mario Lemieux was struggling to keep the franchise together. Kansas City even offered the club, which would win the Stanley Cup within two years, free rent and an ownership stake in Sprint Center Arena. Those efforts proved all for naught, however, but that doesn’t mean Kansas City won’t potentially circle back one day.


Did you know that four of the five most populous U.S. states boast more than one NHL team? Texas, No. 2 on the population list, currently can only claim the Dallas Stars, so why couldn’t the country’s fourth-largest city join them? The Toyota Center once housed the Houston Aeros of the AHL, proving that hockey could work at the 18,000 seat arena. Gary Bettman does love his non-traditional southern American hockey markets!

Quebec City

Gretzky was smart enough to throw a bone to Canadian hockey fans, noting that Quebec City has been without a team since the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995. While it wouldn’t exactly fit within the league’s “grow the game” mandate, arriving in a city with a passionate fan base and an NHL-ready arena (Videotron Centre) would ensure a pretty smooth return to the NHL.