Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 29 days
DECADES OF DEPTH: On Friday, the Calgary Flames inked one-year deals with veteran defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Michael Stone for the 2021-22 season. Both Gudbranson and Stone bring more than 10 years of experience to Western Alberta and will carry cap hits of $1.95 million and $700,000, respectively.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Zach Parise put pen to paper on an undisclosed contract with the New York Islanders after being bought out by the Minnesota Wild in July. The 37-year-old forward is following in the footsteps of his father, J.P. Parisé, who played 240 games for the Isles in the late 70s.
INAUGURAL THROWBACK: Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron revealed the St. Louis Blues’ 2022 Winter Classic jerseys on Friday afternoon, honoring the team’s inaugural 1967 sweaters. While St. Louis may not win the Winter Classic in Minnesota, the Blues are sure to be best dressed on New Year’s Day.
NEVER FORGET: Ceremonies, on-field tributes, and special performances to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place throughout the sports world over the weekend. Teams across the US used helmets, cleats, uniforms, patches, and social media posts to honor the heroes and victims of those tragic events.
BACK AGAIN: Forward Cooper Marody signed a one-year, two-way deal worth $750,000 with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Selected in the sixth round of the 2015 Draft, Marody tallied 36 points in 39 games last season with the Oilers’ AHL-affiliate Bakersfield Condors.
NO PUCK, NO PROBLEM: A recent study showed that hockey fans often follow the game without even watching the puck. Our brains experience a delay when processing quick, unpredictable movements. Therefore, we use context clues to overcome that delay and predict where the puck is going next. Gretzky would be proud!
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
NHL training camp is fast approaching, and opening night is officially less than a month away. While this is music to the ears of hockey fans, it doesn’t invite the same kind of excitement for the small but notable group of unrestricted free agents (UFAs) who remain unsigned. With cap space around the league dwindling, roster spots being swallowed up, and professional tryouts (PTOs) becoming a growing reality, it might be panic time for some remaining veterans without a contract.
Although the signing of Zach Parise by the Islanders on Friday offered hope to the lonely group of leftovers, Parise had long been rumored to be Long Island-bound. Chatter regarding further free agent negotiations has been sparse, with time running out before the new season begins.
Therefore, it’s worth another check-in on some notable names that remain without homes for the 2021-22 season:
Blueliners got paid so well in free agency that it’s a wonder how any could remain available. And yet, steady 700-game veteran Jason Demers—coming off a five-year, $22.5 million deal—continues to wait by the phone with a PTO reportedly looming.
With many clubs still seeking depth down the middle, Tyler Bozak’s name has been conspicuously absent. Sure, he’s 35, but the former St. Louis centre is also good for 13 goals and 30 points at the very least.
A 27-year-old former third-overall pick with a 30-goal season under his belt sounds like a pretty good gamble, no? Apparently not, if you’re Alex Galchenyuk. Though the skilled forward performed well in a short-term “prove-it” role with the Maple Leafs last season, no suitors have yet emerged.
Nikita Gusev math: 44 points in 66 games in year one? Intriguing. Only 10 points in 31 games last season? Less so.
We are another week closer to October, so dust off those jerseys because training camp is just around the corner!
Sleepless in Seattle
Defenseman Connor Carrick and his adorable family have safely landed in Seattle. The Kraken signed the 27-year-old defenseman a month ago after he spent last season between New Jersey and Binghamton, the Devils’ AHL affiliate. As a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, it appears Carrick has finally found the perfect blend of hockey and home.
Everybody Spice Up Your Life
Do you dream of going back to the 1990s? Members of the Vegas Golden Knights and their spouses were in a mood when they showed up at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas dressed as the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, respectively. I was waiting for a video of the hockey players’ rendition of I Want It That Way—à la Brooklyn Nine-Nine—but alas, it did not come to fruition. Is there some kind of suggestion box I can get ahold of?
Two Cups, One Margarita
It was Blake Coleman’s day with the Stanley Cup on Sunday, as the greatest trophy in sports made its way down to Plano for a Texas-sized celebration. As if the hockey world didn’t cherish the Colemans enough, the photos of him along with his family drinking a “Stanley Marg” confirms it. Who doesn’t want to drink a margarita out of the Cup?