October 5 — Preseason Prognostics & Wrapping up the Wacky

Last Night’s News 📰

BARZAL STAYING ON LONG ISLAND: Yesterday, the New York Islanders announced they signed Mathew Barzal to an eight-year, $73.2 million extension, kicking in next season. Since his rookie year in 2017-18, the 25-year-old center has been the Islanders’ leading scorer, leaving many Isles fans chanting, “YES! YES! YES!”

GIRL DAD: On Monday, Columbus Blue Jackets announced that forward Johnny Gaudreau and his wife Meredith welcomed their first child, daughter Noa, into the world. It has been quite the offseason for the Gaudreau family as he signed a seven-year deal with the Blue Jackets in July. All the good news gives more reason for Columbus to fire the cannon!

CAM-PAIN: After acquiring goaltender Cam Talbot from the Minnesota Wild in a trade in July, the Ottawa Senators will be without his services for the next 5-7 weeks. Talbot, 35, sustained the injury during a preseason game when he was hit underneath the pads by a puck. Following the news, the Senators claimed Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken. 

SHARKS EAT POLAR BEARS: As part of the 2022 NHL Global Series Challenge, the San Jose Sharks faced off against Eisbären Berlin of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) before traveling to Prague to play back-to-back games against the Nashville Predators. Despite giving up the first goal and the crowd bringing continuous energy, San Jose rattled off three unanswered goals for the 3-1 victory.

BACK WHERE IT STARTED: In the other Global Series Challenge game, Roman Josi scored twice and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators past SC Bern, 4-3. Josi grew up less than two miles from PostFinance Arena and played with the top club from 2007-10. 

Who Said It

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1) “We want to prove to a lot of people that we are a much better team than last year. We want to prove to everyone how good of a team we are. That’s the mentality we have coming into this season.”

A. Dylan Larkin
B. Nicolas Roy
C. Jack Hughes

2) “We have so many good players throughout the lineup. To be able to make that roster is special and I don’t take it for granted. That’s a big boost for your confidence too. We have great guys on the ice, but cool guys in the locker room as well.”

A. Kailer Yamamoto
B. Cody Glass
C. Nathan Beaulieu

3) “I just love it here and never had any talks with anyone about going anywhere else, doing anything else, playing this year out. It was about wanting to get signed, wanting to commit to the boys and this organization. Just the commitment to this organization and the guys in this room.”

A. Tage Thompson
B. Mathew Barzal
C. Nathan MacKinnon

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Wacky Wednesday (Pt. 4)

Throughout the past month, we have introduced some intriguing hockey statistics from the record-breaking 2021-22 NHL season. With plenty of “wacky” stats from the past year, we’d like to present part four to this segment. Enjoy!

The Big One

Montreal Canadiens prospect Juraj Slafkovský was drafted first overall in 2022 because his skillset and size stood out. He measured 6-foot-3, 238 pounds at training camp, and whenever he makes his NHL debut this season, he will be one of the heaviest in the league. Only five players last season weighed more than him: Jamie Oleksiak (255 pounds), Victor Hedman (241 pounds), Zdeno Chára (250 pounds), Frédérik Gauthier (239 pounds), and Brian Boyle (245 pounds). Considering Chára retired, Gauthier signed with HC Ajoie in Switzerland, and Boyle is still a free agent, Slafkovský could easily be third in the league in weight. The 18-year-old will be hard to stop! 

The Handsome One

Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft was named the head of the team in February. Since then, he has made quite some noise with his team making the Western Conference Final and his looks. Woodcroft was named the most handsome NHL coach in a report by gambling.com. If getting that nod equates to deep playoff runs, then other NHL teams better take notes! 

The Rescue Plan

One of the more alarming stories from this offseason came from Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov. Reports stated that Kaprizov was a wanted man in Russia for using fraudulent military IDs and that the United States denied his entry after his work visa expired in June. The Wild were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to get him back to the U.S. as he was in Russia over the summer, so they cooked up a rescue mission for him. GM Bill Guerin called friends in Washington D.C. for help, and they were able to get Kaprisov to renew his visa to Turkey, and he was ultimately able to return to Minnesota in August. It was a scary situation, but Kaprisov is safe, and that’s all that matters!

The Triple Threat

The Pittsburgh Penguins dynasty consists of three core players: Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin. This trio has led the team to three Stanley Cups in eight years. Last season marked 16 straight seasons that those three have played together, which is the most by any trio in NHL history. With Letang and Malkin receiving contract extensions this summer, that streak will extend as they go into their 17th season.

Preseason Surprises & Disappointments: The Teams

Here, allow me to save you the trouble: “Who cares? The preseason is meaningless, so wins and losses don’t matter!” But for all the half-speed intensity, quirky lineups, and unfamiliar faces that define the exhibition slate of the schedule, it’s still the closest thing to NHL hockey we’ve got until things get underway next week.

And who knows, maybe the teams that are off to surprisingly hot starts to the preseason will carry that momentum into the consequential games. Or perhaps those looking sluggish in the early goings are in for more trouble ahead. Whether meaningful or not, here are some surprising and disappointing teams at this point in the preseason:

Surprise: New Jersey Devils

Neither Mackenzie Blackwood nor new addition Vitek Vaněček was outstanding in goal a year ago, so a hot start by each netminder has to feel good. Blackwood is sporting a .943 save percentage (SV%) and 2.02 goals-against average (GAA) in two appearances. Meanwhile, Vaněček has enjoyed a sparkling preseason with a .945 SV% and 1.13 GAA through three games, one of which was a 24-save shutout of the Boston Bruins. This Martin Brodeur-like goaltending has helped New Jersey allow just six goals through five games.

Disappointment: Tampa Bay Lightning

Can someone please let Tampa know that the preseason has started? It seems to be a case of an elite team with plenty of miles on the odometer from three straight Stanley Cup Final appearances that is taking a leisurely approach to training camp. But, come on! Two goals scored to a whopping 14 against in three games? Hurricane Ian has undoubtedly played an outsized role in their season prep, but that doesn’t diminish their need to be ready come Oct. 11.

Surprise: Seattle Kraken

It wasn’t until the 11th game of the Seattle Kraken’s expansion season that they recorded their fourth win. This preseason, they’ve already reached the four-win mark through five games. Calder candidate Matty Beniers has been right in the thick of the team’s scoring thus far, while Philipp Grubauer hasn’t allowed a goal in two appearances as he looks to rebound from a forgettable 2021-22 campaign.

Disappointment: Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks concluded the offseason feeling pretty good about themselves. From adding Ilya Mikheyev to retaining Bruce Boudreau to extending J.T. Miller, the team did what was necessary to continue the progress of the Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser-led core. Since then, however, they’ve flopped out to an 0-3-2 preseason mark. What is most concerning for Vancouver fans has to be the play of Thatcher Demko, who’s sporting a .907 SV% and 2.42 GAA through two appearances.

Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Morning Skate will introduce The Hockey Writers team contributors as they share some quick thoughts on what has been happening with their respective clubs this summer.

Today, we feature the writing team for the Anaheim Ducks consisting of Charlie Hiller and Derek Lee, in addition to Buffalo Sabres scribes Jacob StrozykZach Rohde, and Keiran Bray, to preview their teams. 

Anaheim Ducks

Buffalo Sabres

How Would You Rate the Team’s Offseason?



A Prospect Who Could Make His NHL Debut This Season:

An Offseason Move That Will Pay Off This Season:

ANA: Signing John Klingberg

BUF: Singing Eric Comrie or extending Tage Thompson

Most Underrated Player on the Roster:

Which Player Departure Was the Biggest Loss?:

Can John Gibson Bounce Back?:

Who Seizes the No. 1 Role in the Crease?:

Who Said It Answers

  1. Nicolas Roy
  2. Kailer Yamamoto
  3. Mathew Barzal