September 22 — First Day of Fall

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season20 days

Monday’s Moon Shots

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: The Arizona Coyotes have officially rebranded, changing their primary logo back to the very popular Kachina logo. With an expected surge of jersey sales in the desert, the Yotes should finally be able to afford rent on their arena—even if Glendale has shown them the door.

Front of Arizona Coyotes White Kachina Jersey (Arizona Coyotes)

NEXT CHAPTER: After 15 seasons in the NHL, Travis Zajac has decided to hang up his skates. He signed a one-day deal to retire as a member of the New Jersey Devils, where he played all but 13 of his 1,037 career regular-season games after being traded to the Islanders at the 2020-21 deadline.

READY TO GO, JO: Jonathan Drouin is ready to return for the 2021-22 season. Recognizing the need to focus on his mental health, the Montreal Canadiens forward stepped away from the game in April due to problems with anxiety and insomnia. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, resources can be found here: Canada, USA.

Tuesday’s Toe Drags

DOLLAR DOLLAR BILL: Entering his second NHL season, forward Kirill Kaprizov is giving his nickname, Dollar Dollar Bill Kirill, a whole new meaning. The reigning Calder Trophy winner put pen to paper on a lucrative five-year deal worth an average annual value (AAV) of $9 million.

MERZLY MONEY: Elvis Merzļikins signed a five-year, $5.4 million AAV contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets, which will go into effect at the start of next season. In his career, the 27-year-old netminder has posted a 2.54 goals-against average (GAA) and a .920 save percentage (SV%) in 61 regular-season games.

RECURRENT REPAIRS: Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes is set to miss four to six weeks due to abdominal surgery. Already having a hernia surgically repaired in May, his latest injury is concerning for a Flyers team that needs him to stay healthy.

11TH HOUR: Robert Thomas and the St. Louis Blues agreed to a two-year, $5.6 million deal late Tuesday night. As the final remaining free agent St. Louis needed to re-sign, Thomas and the Blues are set to open training camp on Thursday, Sept. 23.

Trivia Tuesday

Travis Zajac signed a one-day contract to retire with the New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Do you know Travis Zajac?

  1. Zajac became the _______ player in NHL history to play 1,000 career games with one franchise.
    • 67th
    • 55th
    • 82nd
    • 73rd

  2. Which team did Zajac score his first NHL goal against on October 7, 2006?
    • Carolina Hurricanes
    • St. Louis Blues
    • Dallas Stars
    • Florida Panthers

  3. How many points did Zajac record throughout his career?
    • 583
    • 552
    • 541
    • 578

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Who’s the Next William Karlsson?

No one knows exactly what the identity of the Seattle Kraken will be once they hit the ice for their inaugural season, but some projections involving the NHL’s 32nd franchise seem like pretty good bets. Jordan Eberle appears poised to be the club’s first leading scorer and Philipp Grubauer will be the go-to guy between the pipes.

Of course, as we saw in 2017-18 with the Vegas Golden Knights, surprises do happen. William Karlsson, for example, went from a sparsely used, six-goal depth forward in Columbus to a 43-goal scorer in Vegas in only one season. Such a jump doesn’t happen every day, but Seattle could present that same kind of opportunity. So, who might be the recipient of such a fortuity? Here are four possibilities:

Mason Appleton

Mason Appleton with the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The “Big Apple” enjoyed a mini-breakout in 2020-21 with 12 goals and 25 points, but the depth of the Winnipeg Jets led to his exposure. Instead, Appleton goes to Seattle where he’ll likely get more than 14 minutes of time on ice (TOI) each night and very well could produce.

Yanni Gourde

Yanni Gourde with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“Grab the Tampa guy,” seems like a foolproof way to look smart if you’re a hockey executive. When it comes to Gourde, however, there’s more to it than cherry-picking a player from the champs. The Kraken can now offer a bigger role to a guy who has managed two 20-goal seasons as a bottom-six depth forward.

Morgan Geekie

Morgan Geekie with the Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Although recording four points in his first two career NHL games during the 2019-20 season put Geekie on the map, it was the continued development of the 23-year-old last season in Carolina that piqued Seattle’s interest. A move to the Pacific Northwest could be just the thing that leads to a breakout year for Geekie.

Alexander True

Alexander True with the San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“Who??” was the prevailing reaction to the 6-foot-5 center selected from the San Jose Sharks. Averaging 10:00 TOI at the NHL level, the 24-year-old is known more as a playmaker—recording five assists in his 19 games played. That said, True potted 24 goals at the AHL level, so his size does come with some scoring pop.

Trivia Answers

  1. 67th
  2. Dallas Stars
  3. 552 (550 with New Jersey)

Click here for more on Travis Zajac!