Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 8 days
VEGAS STRONG: Friday marked the four-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, and the Golden Knights showed their support by giving back to the community. Initiatives included a blood drive and multiple appearances throughout the city, as well as an assortment of tickets donated to first responders for the preseason game against the LA Kings that evening.
GOING HAM: Dougie Hamilton made his preseason debut with the New Jersey Devils when they battled their Hudson River rivals. The Devils beat the Rangers by an impressive score of 7-1, and the defenseman finished the game with two assists. For at least one night in October, Devils fans had a reason to cheer.
A NEW LOOK: From player to referee. Cody Beach was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft. Now, the 29-year-old finally made it back to the NHL but this time wearing black and white stripes. Who knows the game better than a former player?
VANCOUVER, BABY!: Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson committed to the Canucks for six and three years, respectively. While both players missed training camp, they are hopeful to play in Vancouver’s final two preseason games.
BRING EM BACK, BRING EM BACK: Jake Evans signed a three-year extension with the Montreal Canadiens worth $5.1 million. Last year, the 25-year-old centre had 13 points in 47 games before adding two points in seven playoff games.
It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” A new hockey season offers players a clean slate and another opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. It could also mean the celebrations of new milestones in life and the debut of a car commercial! Let’s look in:
Lights, Camera, Action
Golden Knights’ defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and his daughter Evelyn made their television debut, promoting the 2022 Honda Odyssey. Pietrangelo and his wife Jayne welcomed triplets back in July 2018 and their fourth child in September 2020, so the family of six is the perfect bunch to promote the high-tech hockey-friendly minivan.
Congratulations are in order as New York Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri and his wife Ashlee will be welcoming their first child in February 2022. They married at The Vineyards at Aquebogue in July 2019, and Adam Henrique, who was Palmieri’s teammate on the Devils, served as one of his groomsmen. Congrats to the parents-to-be!
Baby’s Day Out
We have one of our first hockey baby sightings of the season. Darnell Nurse’s fiancé Mikayla Marrelli was seen with baby Aiden in a suite at Rogers Place and yes, it is as cute as you think. Too bad he isn’t old enough to strap on some skates—the Edmonton Oilers’ blue line will need all the help they can get.
Canadian Olympic Announcement – By the Numbers
The best hockey player in the world, the author of Canada’s “Golden Goal” in 2010, and one of the league’s top defensemen make for a pretty good foundation upon which to build any team. But that’s the luxury afforded to Doug Armstrong as GM of the Canadian Olympic team ahead of the 2022 Beijing Games.
In adherence to a reported request from the NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF, Armstrong informed Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Pietrangelo that they will be part of Canada’s Olympic entry in about four months. There isn’t much to nitpick or second-guess here, so let’s have a look at some of the numbers surrounding Canada’s “first three.”
4 – Stanley Cups
Crosby was 21 when he won his first of three Cups, so McDavid must be positively ancient as he approaches his 25th birthday ringless. Pietrangelo, for his part, won the Cup as captain of the St. Louis Blues in 2019 when he was 29.
15 – All-Star Appearances
Sid the Kid leads the way with eight All-Star invites, but all three men have been a regular presence at the annual mid-season exhibition.
3 – Olympic Appearances
Kind of hard to blame McDavid for his lack of Olympic experience, given that he had just turned 17 and was still 16 months shy of being drafted when NHL players last competed at the games. Good thing Crosby (two Olympic appearances) and Pietrangelo (one) have the experience part covered.
$30 Million – Combined 2021-22 Salaries
Good thing there’s no salary cap involved in representing your country at the Olympics, eh?
0 – Goalies Chosen
The only real discussion point that emerges from these early names is no goalie being selected. Goaltending could be an area of weakness for Canada, as Carey Price’s health remains in question and no other options are sure things.
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: Which team will win the Pacific Division?
BF: The big question in Vegas this season is whether Robin Lehner, who spent the weekend levying some pretty serious accusations across the league, can handle No. 1 duties with Marc-André Fleury off to Chicago. But even if the Swede isn’t quite at the same Vezina-caliber form as his former teammate showed last season, does anyone else stand a chance in the Pacific? This is my prediction space, so I’ll say no. For as much as some may love the idea of another expansion fairy-tale run or Connor McDavid carrying his Oilers to new heights, the Golden Knights are unrivaled here.
KF: As much as I love a good hot take, I’m not bold enough to say Seattle can repeat what Vegas did in the spring of 2018. The Golden Knights should finish at the top of the Pacific Division. Fans question whether Lehner can handle the workload, but let’s remember a goaltender is only as good as the defense in front of him. With a defensive core that includes Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and Shea Theodore, I’m putting all my money on black—and gold!
JJ: The Vegas Golden Knights are the clear winner in this division, as they are the only true contender out of the bunch. While the Edmonton Oilers will be an above-average team with the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, there are too many holes around them. Teams like the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames will either sneak into the playoffs or miss entirely, and the Seattle Kraken are not expected to contend immediately. Looking to finally get past the conference finals again, the Golden Knights are poised to finish first as they look to win their first Stanley Cup.
KK: Once again, we are presented with a division that has a clear-cut front runner before the season begins. This time that culprit is the Vegas Golden Knights, as it seems the Pacific is their division to lose. However, don’t count out the Edmonton Oilers or the Vancouver Canucks this season. Both teams made multiple moves this offseason to add experience and address holes in their respective rosters and seem to be building toward winning sooner than later.
VERDICT: Vegas is the first team to earn a sweep in the Morning Skate Debate! Agree or disagree with our choice? Sound off on Twitter using #MSk8Debate or join the discussion on Discord.