September 2 — Tracking Milestones & Improving Sweaters

Last Night’s News 📰

DMITRY TO THE DUCKS: The Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Ducks orchestrated a trade on Wednesday, with defenseman Dmitry Kulikov going from Minnesota to Anaheim for future considerations. Kulikov, 31, had a career-high 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 80 games for the Wild last season.

STARS’ STOPPER STAYS: Playoff hero Jake Oettinger signed a three-year, $12 million contract as the primary starting goalie for the Dallas Stars. Oettinger is looking to build on a stellar postseason that saw him hold opponents to a .913 save percentage and 2.53 goals against average.

A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER: Hat tricks by Americans Taylor Heise and Hannah Bilka got overshadowed by a mere goal and an assist in the team’s 12-1 victory over Hungary. That’s because that goal and assist were the 86th and 87th career points for Hilary Knight, surpassing Canadian legend Hayley Wickenheiser for the most all-time at the Women’s World Championships. 

CZECH THEM OUT: For the first time in tournament history, Czechia has qualified for the semifinals, and Finland will not be playing for a medal at the Women’s Worlds. Czechia shocked the Finns in overtime on Thursday, setting up a date with the Americans on Saturday. 

CANADIAN CRUISE CONTROL: Canada outshot Sweden 57-9 on Thursday but could only solve goaltender Emma Söderberg three times in the victory. Sweden killed all seven penalties served, but the Canadians scored a goal in each frame to take the 3-0 win and will play Switzerland on Saturday. Sweden will face Japan in a qualification game. 

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

Dallas Signs One of Their Stars

Stars fans can breathe relief as the club announced goaltender Jake Oettinger signed a three-year contract worth $12 million. Last season Oettinger was 30-15-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. He became a household name during the Stanley Cup Playoffs when he made 64 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 7 against the Calgary Flames. At this point, the 23-year-old seems to be the goaltender of the future in Dallas.

Tage Gets Paid

We’re pretty confident no one had a better week than Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres. After one breakout season, the 24-year-old signed a seven-year contract worth $50 million—yep, you read that correctly. The winger put up an impressive 68 points in 78 games last season, leading all players on the team. It was a bold move to lock him in after only one great season, but we guess the Sabres are a daring organization. Let’s see how it works out for them. 

In Sully We Trust

Pittsburgh kept their bench boss by extending him through the 2026-27 season. Mike Sullivan has been the team’s head coach since Dec. 12, 2015, and has made the playoffs every season, even clinching two Stanley Cup championships. There is a reason he is considered one of the best coaches in the league, and if he can get this aging roster into the playoffs this spring, he will have proven to be worth every penny. 

Leveling Up

When it comes to sports and history, we love two things: records and round numbers. We celebrate athletes topping the achievements of past greats, but we also recognize when they hit significant plateaus. Last year, the NHL was wrapped up in the historic goal-scoring exploits of Alex Ovechkin and stopped to acknowledge Ryan Getzlaf as he hit the four-digit mark with his 1,000th career point, to name just two.

Even as each season brings the all-encompassing goal of lifting the Stanley Cup, the pursuit of hockey history also stands as a constant objective. And sure enough, the 2022-23 season brings a new batch of anticipated milestones. Here are just a few:

Alex Ovechkin – No. 2 All-Time in Goals (21 Away)

Alex Ovechkin steamrolled his way up the all-time goals list last year, plowing past legends Marcel Dionne, Brett Hull, and Jaromír Jágr to take sole possession of third behind a couple of guys named Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. Now with the Detroit Red Wings icon in his sights, Ovie isn’t done. The Russian has never scored fewer than 24 goals in any season, so notching 21 will be a breeze. Next is the bigger question: is Gretzky’s 894 in jeopardy? Ovechkin is 114 away.

Phil Kessel – NHL Iron Man (7 Games Away)

It should only take a couple of weeks before the NHL has its newest iron man. Recently acquired Vegas Golden Knight forward Phil Kessel has played in 982 consecutive games, good for the longest active streak in the league and just seven short of the 989 mark that Keith Yandle reached last year. Kessel will match the record against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 24, barring an injury, suspension, or Bruce Cassidy turning into a heartless monster and benching the 34-year-old. He would then surpass it in San Jose the next day and be on his way to 1,000 straight (which would happen on Nov. 17, against the Arizona Coyotes, by the way).

Marc-André Fleury – No. 2 All-Time in Goalie Wins (31 Away)

Probably the least likely sure thing on this list. If Marc-André Fleury can continue to defy age and win 31 games with the Minnesota Wild this year, he will catch his idol, Patrick Roy, for second all-time in goalie wins. Given Fleury can expect to see an ease in his workload and he hasn’t hit the 31-win threshold since 2018-19, it is unlikely that he will reach the mark in the first year of his new deal. With Martin Brodeur 140 wins ahead of even Roy, that might be a bridge too far for the two-time Stanley Cup winner.

Steven Stamkos – 500 Goals (19 Away)

After something of a renaissance in 2021-22, Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos is now knocking on the door of the 500-goal club. If the 32-year-old Bolts captain can repeat his form from last year, when he potted 42 goals and earned his first All-Star invite since 2019, he should cement himself as the 47th player to ever reach the milestone. Evgeni Malkin will be next up on the 500-goal watch, although he’d need to set a new career-high of 56 to get there this year.

New Year, New Look

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres announced they are bringing back their red and black bison head logo, sporting it on their third alternate jersey for this upcoming season. Nicknamed the “goat head,” it was initially used by the Sabres from 1996-2006. News of its return received positive reactions from many who played for or were fans of the Sabres during the late 1990s and early 2000s, including current forward Alex Tuch.

The Sabres are bringing back their bison head logo, once worn by Dominik Hašek (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Buffalo’s alternate jerseys will be officially released in November and be worn in 12 home games this season. But they aren’t the only ones changing their wardrobe for 2022-23. Here are a few other confirmed uniform changes for the upcoming season.

Edmonton Oilers

Announced in July, the Oilers will change their home uniforms from orange to royal blue while also tweaking their road jersey. Edmonton’s “new” royal blue and orange look is their original look, which they sported from 1979-1996 and 2009-2017. Similar to the news of the Sabres bringing back a classic, the reaction from the fan base and current/former players (including Wayne Gretzky) has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Reverse Retros

In 2020, the NHL partnered with Adidas to unveil reverse retro uniforms for each of the 31 teams intending to highlight the history and heritage of every organization. The first iteration of the jerseys achieved varying levels of praise/criticism. Last month, Adidas announced a second set of reverse retros for each of the 32 teams (the Seattle Kraken are now in the mix) during the 2022-23 season. These are certainly the most highly-anticipated new uniforms this year.

Jersey Ads

NHL teams will soon join NBA and soccer clubs (who have been doing it for much longer) in advertising companies on their uniforms. Last August, the league’s board of governors officially approved the addition of jersey ads. Since then, three teams have reached deals with jersey sponsors for the upcoming season. Washington signed a multi-year agreement with Caesars Sportsbook to don the company’s logo on their home and third jerseys. Columbus will sport the Safelight logo on all of their jerseys, while Pittsburgh will feature Highmark on their home jerseys.

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