September 14 — Falling for Bedard & Reliving the Wacky

Last Night’s News 📰

HICKEY SIGNS PTO: Yesterday, the New Jersey Devils signed veteran defenseman Thomas Hickey to a professional tryout. The 33-year-old has been a member of the New York Islanders since the 2012-13 season and has 117 points in 456 career games. Last season, he appeared in 29 regular-season games in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and then 15 games with Ontario Reign. 

BLUES BROTHERS: St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou signed an eight-year, $65 million deal on Sept. 13 that will run through the 2030-31 season—identical to teammate Robert Thomas’ extension signed three months prior. Kyrou had a breakout year with 27 goals, 48 points, and 75 points in 74 games last season, as the 24-year-old will be a cornerstone piece for the Blues for years to come.

NILL STAYS PUT: On Tuesday, the Dallas Stars announced that general manager Jim Nill signed a one-year contract extension that runs through the 2023-24 season. Going into his 10th season as GM, the club has mustered a 356-259-84 record and five playoff appearances. 

McCABE INJURY: On Sept. 13, the Chicago Blackhawks announced that 28-year-old defenseman Jake McCabe underwent cervical spine surgery, with an expected return date of 10-12 weeks (December). It’s an unfortunate break for McCabe, who is looking to have a bounce-back sophomore season with Chicago after notching four goals, 18 assists, 22 points, and a minus-27 rating in 75 games last season. 

FLAME FATALE: The Calgary Flames have hired Rebecca Johnston as a full-time member of the club’s player development team. A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Johnston will have a role in on-ice instruction and prospect evaluation, in addition to working closely with the Flames’ charitable foundation.

NICK SUZUK-‘C’: Earlier this week, the Montreal Canadiens announced Nick Suzuki as the 31st captain in the team’s history. Suzuki, 23, takes over the “C” from Shea Weber and becomes the youngest skipper for the Canadiens.

Who Said It

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1) I don’t ever know if you have a blueprint for what your career will be. For me, it’s always been about staying in the moment. If you look too far ahead, things don’t typically work out the way you want. It’s really about staying focused.”

A. Josh Bailey
B. Zdeno Chára
C. P.K. Subban

2) It’s been great, definitely a lot of different things going on for the player. It’s an opportunity to see some guys that you know and to also meet some others for the first time. There are a lot of talented players [at the 2022 NHLPA Rookie Showcase].

A. Matt Boldy
B. Juraj Slafkovský
C. Owen Power

3) “The thing about Nick [Suzuki], sometimes you talk to a 23-year-old, he feels like he’s 18, but Nick is the opposite. He’s a very even-keeled guy. When I talk to him, I feel like he’s 30 years old and I feel like he’s been in the league a long time, even though he hasn’t. I think Nick is a great fit for where [the Montreal Canadiens] are and where we’re going.”

A. Martin St. Louis
B. Jeff Gorton
C. Kent Hughes

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Wacky Facts: 2021-22 Season

Last season, there were a lot of records that were broken throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the regular season. There were also a lot of intriguing hockey statistics that came with it. With the talent improving each season, more of these “wacky” stats are sure to come, but here are some fun facts about the 2021-22 NHL season.

Lacrosse Goal Déjà Vu

One of the most memorable moments last season was when Anaheim Ducks rookie Trevor Zegras netted the outstanding “Michigan” goal against the Montreal Canadiens in January. It became a phenomenon around the league, yet, some may not realize that Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov became the first player in NHL history to successfully pull off the lacrosse-style goal back in Oct. 2019 against the Washington Capitals. So, who will net the next one this season?

Power Play Dud

Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks were the seventh-worst team in the NHL, and one of the contributing factors was that not one defenseman scored a power-play goal all season. That hasn’t happened since the Buffalo Sabres defense went scoreless on the power play during their inaugural season in 1970-71. It’s a feat that likely won’t be seen again for a while.

Playoff Leaders

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were hard to contain during the regular season and even harder to stop in the playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers. However, the Oilers got eliminated during the Western Conference Final by the Colorado Avalanche, with McDavid tallying 33 points and Draisaitl tallying 32 points in 16 games. What makes those stats interesting is that when the Stanley Cup went to the Avalanche on Jun. 26, McDavid and Draisaitl remained the top-two playoff point leaders, despite the Oilers not having played in two weeks. Avs defenseman Cale Makar was third-best in points (29 points). 

Sign & Trade

When Matthew Tkachuk was traded to the Calgary Flames from the Florida Panthers in July, the Panthers and Tkachuk agreed on the eight-year, $76 million extension. What makes this deal interesting is that the extension was initially signed with the Flames before the exchange, making it the first sign and trade in NHL history.

The ‘Fall Hard for Bedard’ Sweepstakes

Parity in the NHL is widely known for its unpredictability atop the standings each season, but it can make things hard to project at the bottom, too. This past July, the Montreal Canadiens were on the clock to select Juraj Slafkovský first overall at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, one year from the day of being ousted after their incredible Stanley Cup Final run.

This year’s race to the bottom promises to be just as hard to handicap, with the added wrinkle that the team who lands pick No. 1 will have a shot at selecting generational prospect, Connor Bedard. Of course, no franchise wants to think about that possibility now as a new season brings hope and optimism. But not everyone will reach the postseason this year, and for those teams that don’t, wouldn’t Bedard be a nice consolation prize? Here are the early favorites in the Bedard sweepstakes:

Connor Bedard, Regina Pats (Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

Arizona Coyotes

As a perennial bottom-feeder, the Arizona Coyotes haven’t had the type of draft luck you’d expect. Sure, they selected Logan Cooley third overall back in July, but that was as high as the franchise has chosen since moving to the desert. If the Yotes were ever going to break through and land the No. 1 pick, this would be the year to do it.

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago’s rebuild is underway, with Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach already out the door. Now it’s only time before franchise pillars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews follow suit. After a season in which the Blackhawks finished seventh in the Central Division with just 68 points, a teardown is probably necessary, however painful it might be. And if Bedard happens to be standing at the end of the tunnel, then few in the Blackhawks organization will be complaining.

Philadelphia Flyers

Many of last year’s lower-tier Eastern Conference teams have gotten better. Montreal added Slafkovský, Dach, and Evgenii Dadonov, New Jersey signed Ondřej Palát, Buffalo has a solid young core one year older, and Ottawa took some significant steps. Then, you have the Philadelphia Flyers. Sure, they added Tony DeAngelo and hired John Tortorella. However, the absence of Claude Giroux and injuries to Joel Farabee, Ryan Ellis, and Bobby Brink has them poised to repeat as Metropolitan Division cellar dwellers.

Seattle Kraken

Matty Beniers and Shane Wright make for an exciting one-two combination of young talent in Seattle, but there’s always room for more. Season two for the Kraken carries optimism of a standout rookie campaign or two, plus the contributions of newcomers André Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Still, expect more losses as the franchise continues to experience growing pains. And no, Bedard wouldn’t be a horrible symptom of those growing pains.

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 this issue, we chat with our Colorado Avalanche team of Len Vlahos, Kerry Collins, and Marko Zlomislic, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs writers featuring Shaun FilippelliKevin Armstrong, Peter Baracchini, Shane Seney, Jim Parsons, Sr., and Andrew Forbes, to preview their teams. 

Colorado Avalanche

Toronto Maple Leafs

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:

Most Underrated Player on the Roster:

Which Player Departure Was the Biggest Loss?:

Who Fills Kadri’s Role as No. 2 Center?:

Who Winds Up as the Leafs’ No. 1 Goalie?:

Who Said It Answers

  1. Josh Bailey
  2. Owen Power
  3. Jeff Gorton