Last Night’s News 📰
STARS ALIGN: Dallas finally got its man, with the Stars agreeing to terms with last season’s leading goal scorer Jason Robertson on a four-year, $31 million contract to end the 23-year-old’s holdout. With Robertson signed, Vegas’ Nicolas Hague and Ottawa’s Alex Formenton remain the only restricted free agents still awaiting new deals.
FLAMES BURN OUT: Yesterday, the Calgary Flames announced the release of highly touted signings Cody Eakin and Sonny Milano from their professional tryout (PTO) deals. Both struggled during the preseason, as Eakin tallied one point and Milano recorded zero points in four games. Considering they’re depth players, they’ll likely get opportunities elsewhere.
HEY CANCER, YOU LOSE: On Wednesday, the Minnesota Wild shared a statement from 20-year-old prospect Pavel Novak that he is officially cancer free. In June, the 2020 fifth-round pick announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was taking time off to focus on his health. It’s one of the best news to come out of the preseason, and we wish Novak nothing but the best!
AFTERNOON DELIGHTS: Today marks the official start to the 2022-23 NHL season, as the Nashville Predators face the San Jose Sharks in the 2022 NHL Global Series at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. With back-to-back games kicking off at 2:00 pm ET Friday and Saturday, you can follow along on NHL Network.
Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.
Sweet Home Long Island
It was a tough summer for New York Islanders fans, as they saw free agent after free agent sign with every club but their own. At specific points, they called for a wellness check on general manager Lou Lamoriello who was radio silent most of the offseason. On Tuesday night, the team finally announced a signing that fans could get excited about as 25-year-old Mathew Barzal agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $73.2 million.
If You Want to Take a Ride With Me
It seems like it has been a smooth transition for Jonathan Huberdeau, as the 29-year-old wasted no time inserting himself into the Calgary community. Last weekend he rode Quick Six, the Calgary Stampeders touchdown horse, during a Canadian Football League game against the Toronto Argonauts. MacKenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri were also on hand to take pictures and sign autographs.
A Fitting Tribute
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart is honoring his dad by paying tribute to Foo Fighters member Taylor Hawkins, who died on March 25, and lead singer Dave Grohl this season. Growing up, Hart and his father would listen to the band on the way to hockey games, specifically “The Pretender,” so when it comes to the design of his goalie mask, it is no surprise he opted to enshrine the pair. Hart, a big fan of music, previously had other mask designs inspired by AC/DC and Tim McGraw.
Preseason Fact or Fiction: The Players
On Wednesday, we took a not-terribly-serious look at teams that have surprised or disappointed this preseason. Today, we do the same thing for the players, albeit with a little twist. As ridiculous as it is to seriously analyze team performance in the preseason, scrutinizing players might be even more so. Sure, seeing surprisingly hot starts by under-the-radar players is cool, but disappointments? Is anyone concerned that guys like Leon Draisaitl and Auston Matthews have just one point apiece?
And so, we’ve chosen to focus solely on the surprises and examine whether we believe their production is a sign of things to come (“fact”) or a flukey hot streak due to the meaningless exhibition stretch (“fiction”).
Fact: Matt Duchene
Let’s acknowledge the obvious: seven points in two games while averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time is unsustainable for any hockey player. But Matt Duchene‘s sensational training camp comes on the heels of a 2021-22 season in which he finished eighth in the NHL goals race with a career-best 43. Something must have clicked for Duchene during his third season in Nashville after a pair of disappointing, injury-marred campaigns, and here’s betting the 31-year-old keeps it going.
Fiction: Derek Grant
Derek Grant is heading into his third season with the Anaheim Ducks and 11th of his NHL career, so the 32-year-old is a known quantity by this point. Strong fourth-line center? Absolutely. Scorching two-point-per-game scorer? Probably not. Grant now has two goals and four assists through three games, but he should slide back down the Ducks’ center depth chart once Trevor Zegras returns from an upper-body injury.
Fact: Dylan Holloway
This preseason, Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland made it clear that recently-turned 21-year-old forward Dylan Holloway would have to earn his way onto the opening night roster in training camp. Since then, the 14th overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft has done just that, scoring four goals and adding two assists in five games. Holloway’s rise could expedite trade talks involving Jesse Puljujärvi, who appears to be on the block.
Fiction: Denis Malgin
One of the more intriguing surprises of the preseason has been the renaissance of Denis Malgin. The 25-year-old spent the past two seasons in Switzerland after four uneven, inconsistent years trying to stick in the NHL. Following a strong showing in the Swiss League, he’s now standing out (three goals and six points in four games) while attempting to earn a second tour of duty with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But when the likes of Mitch Marner and William Nylander start swallowing up most top-six minutes on the wing, ice time will be hard to come by for Malgin.
Injuries are a big part of hockey and are unavoidable, even in the offseason. However, this year’s training camp has seen a lot of injuries to star players before the season begins. Some teams are hurting more than others, with some of their big guns sidelined. Here is a recap of which clubs have been hit hard by the injury bug.
- Brad Marchand: Surgery on both hips in May – out through November.
- Charlie McAvoy: Left shoulder surgery – out until December.
- Taylor Hall: Upper-body injury on Oct. 1 – likely miss the season opener.
Boston has the worst luck with its current stars’ injuries. After hoping for one last run with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejčí back in the mix, the news of Marchand and McAvoy could not be worse timing for the Bruins. Meanwhile, Hall’s injury against the Philadelphia Flyers will keep him out for at least another week.
- Gabriel Landeskog: Knee injury suffered last season – no timetable
- Darren Helm: Undisclosed injury – could miss the season opener
Although the Avalanche are favorites to win the Stanley Cup again this season and likely have enough depth to succeed without both players, it doesn’t make losing their captain and a bottom-six center who kills penalties any easier.
- T.J. Oshie: Upper-body injury on Oct. 5 – day-to-day.
- Tom Wilson: Torn ACL in playoffs – out through December or January.
- Carl Hagelin: Lower-body injury – out indefinitely.
- Nicklas Bäckström: Hip resurfacing surgery in June – out long-term.
Losing Wilson and Bäckström long-term will test the Capitals’ depth this season as they hope to make another deep playoff run, especially if Hagelin remains out. Considering Oshie missed 38 games due to injury last year, there may be cause for concern if he doesn’t return quickly.
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.
In our final Friday feature, we focus on the Calgary Flames, represented by Derek Olsen, and the Montreal Canadiens team of Blain Potvin, Melissa Boyd, Ryan Szporer, and Trege Wilson to preview their teams.
How Would You Rate the Team’s Offseason?
A Prospect Who Could Make His NHL Debut This Season:
CGY: Dustin Wolf
MTL: Obviously, Juraj Slafkovský, but don’t rule out Kaiden Guhle or Arber Xhekaj
An Offseason Move That Will Pay Off This Season:
CGY: Nazem Kadri
MTL: Kirby Dach
Most Underrated Player on the Roster:
CGY: Dan Vladar
MTL: Joel Edmundson, Chris Wideman, and Jonathan Drouin
Which Player Departure Was the Biggest Loss?:
CGY: Matthew Tkachuk
MTL: Carey Price, Alexander Romanov, and Jeff Petry
Is Calgary Better Than They Were a Year Ago?:
Will Carey Price Play This Season?:
- Today’s newsletter was edited by Kyle Knopp, with contributions by Ben Fisher, Kristy Flannery, and Brooke LoFurno.
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