Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 39 days
ISLANDERS’ FAB FOUR: The New York Islanders signed forwards Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri, and goaltender Ilya Sorokin to multi-year contracts on Wednesday. Beauvillier and Sorokin will call UBS Arena home for the next three seasons, while Palmieri and Cizikas signed four- and six-year deals, respectively.
HIP HIP PARAY-KO: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko agreed to an eight-year, $52 million extension. The 28-year-old blueliner’s new $6.5 million average annual value (AAV) contract will begin in the 2022-23 season. Last season, Parayko tallied 12 points in 32 regular-season games for St. Louis but missed 21 games due to a back injury.
DUELING SABRES: Forward Casey Mittelstadt and defenseman Henri Jokiharju inked matching three-year, $2.5 million AAV deals with Buffalo. With the pair of 22-year-olds signed for the foreseeable future, the Sabres have just one restricted free agent left—defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.
NO-H-L FOR ‘LOUX: The OHL has suspended Logan Mailloux, the Montreal Canadiens’ shocking 2021 first-round draft pick, indefinitely stating he violated the league’s player conduct policy. The London Knights defenseman was charged and fined under Swedish law for his actions while on loan to SK Lejon in Nov. 2020.
SHOOT IT…IN THE ARM: COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 season have been finalized by the NHL and NHLPA. Most notably, one rule allows teams to suspend unvaccinated players who cannot participate in club activities. This could be used in the event of travel restrictions, for example, although the rules do allow for certain exceptions.
PHILLY JOEL: Joel Farabee put pen to paper on a six-year contract extension worth $5 million AAV with the Flyers. The 21-year-old forward tallied a career-best 20 goals and 38 points in 55 games during his sophomore season in 2020-21.
Top Shelf Thursday – Top Offseason Signings
This offseason, fans witnessed general managers hand out lucrative contract after lucrative contract. While some were necessary, others left Hockey Twitter scratching its head. In between these massive contracts, one can find a few signings that filled holes or were an absolute bargain for their respective team. Let’s appreciate these three offseason signings.
Jonathan Bernier – New Jersey Devils
I know, how can I talk about the Devils and not bring up Dougie Hamilton. Let me explain. Once upon a time, the Devils signed Corey Crawford to a two-year deal to help a young Mackenzie Blackwood. During training camp, Crawford chose to peace out and retire. Bernier is filling a necessary void the Devils have had for years, and it doesn’t hurt that he brings a Stanley Cup ring with him.
Adam Pelech – New York Islanders
Recently, the Islanders have been so close yet so far from raising Lord Stanley. Pelech, specifically, has been instrumental in their quest for the Cup. While other defensemen signed deals with an average cap hit of $9 million, Lou Lamoriello was up to his usual tricks by signing his top defenseman for a bargain of $5.75 million per season. Financially, this was easily one of the best signings of the offseason.
Philipp Grubauer – Seattle Kraken
Fans were left dazed and confused after Seattle’s expansion draft. General manager Ron Francis built his team with a defense-first mentality. The only problem was, they were missing a number one goaltender, which is where Grubauer enters the conversation. After going 66-30-10 in three seasons with the Avs, Colorado’s loss will be Seattle’s gain as he leads the NHL’s newest team onto the ice.
Hurts So Good
One of the most iconic images in hockey history captured legendary Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr taking flight after scoring the overtime winner to secure a series sweep in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final.
What that image burned into the consciousness of just about every hockey fan of a certain age doesn’t show is the aftermath. I mean, that landing had to hurt, right?? While Orr was lucky to come away from that moment untainted, not every hockey player (or athlete, for that matter) has been so lucky. Injuries during celebrations happen more often than you might think, as these examples from the hockey world show:
En route to the gold medal as part of Team Canada at the 2021 Women’s World Championship, Turnbull logged nearly 16 minutes per game, third-most among Canadian forwards. However, it was a celebratory jump into the arms of goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens that lands her as the most recent member of this list with a broken fibula. Undeterred, she returned during the medal ceremony to accept her gold while sitting on a stretcher.
There’s only one way to celebrate a state title and that’s with a full-team pile-on, as Francis Howell North showed in the aftermath of their 2015 Wickenheiser Memorial Cup clincher. Things, however, took a scary turn as forward D.J. LaMartina joined the fray, dropping face-first onto a teammate’s wayward skate. LaMartina was thankfully okay, but you’ll need a strong stomach if you want to check out the photos (warning: graphic).
Fortunately, Andersén’s trip through the glass didn’t result in an injury. Still, the sight of the young Swedish winger launching himself into the boards post-breakaway and disappearing is pretty stunning!
Views From North of the Border: We Needed That!
As you may have heard, we Canadians are somewhat fond of the game of hockey. Or, you know, obsessed.
So, the struggles of any high-level team to wear the Maple Leaf crest under the Team Canada umbrella not only becomes a national talking point but also raises existential questions about our very identity as a country. That the 2002 men’s hockey Olympic gold and, especially, the 2010 Sidney Crosby Olympic “Golden Goal” on home ice, came after a 50-year drought at the Olympics only enhanced its importance from coast to coast.
Although the women’s drought at the IIHF World Championship was never realistically going to reach a half-century, Canadian fans can’t be blamed for starting to feel that way. After winning each of the first eight World Championship tournaments, the Great White North had won only two of the next 11, while their American rivals scooped up every other gold since.
To make matters worse, Canada saw a streak of four straight Olympic gold medals snapped by the States at the 2018 Games, and didn’t even participate in the gold medal game of the 2019 World Championship after being upended by Finland in the semifinals.
On Tuesday night, one timely overtime marker by captain Marie-Philip Poulin undid much of that angst, capping off a strong tournament by the Red and White and providing plenty of momentum heading into February’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. We’ll see you there, Yanks!