September 9 — Breakout Candidates & Offseason Winners

Last Night’s News 📰

LONG-TIM CONTRACT: The Ottawa Senators have locked up a significant piece of their future, signing Tim Stützle, the third-overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, to an eight-year, $66.8 million contract extension. Stützle, 20, has 34 goals and 87 points through two seasons. 

MILLER ENSHRINED: On Thursday, USA Hockey announced the five individuals elected to the USA Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022. Led by goaltender Ryan Miller, the class includes Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Steve Cash, and Jim Johannson. 

HANGING ‘EM UP: Matthieu Perrault has decided to hang up his skates in favor of a microphone this season, stepping away from the Montreal Canadiens to join TVA Sports. Perrault was limited to 25 games last season with the Canadiens, recording four goals and five assists.

DISNEY DELIVERS: In its second season of NHL broadcasts, the Walt Disney Co. will televise 103 games across its subsidiaries and streaming services. ESPN kicks off the season with a doubleheader on Oct. 11, while TNT will feature a pair of games on Oct. 12. 

PRIMEAU DEAL: Hoping to bolster their goaltending this season, the Canadiens signed goaltender Cayden Primeau to a three-year, $2.67 million extension. Primeau, a 23-year-old restricted free agent, is expected to push Jake Allen for the starting role in Montreal.

Friday Favorites

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

Kadri Donates

Stick taps for Nazem Kadri! Calgary’s newest player donated $1 million to a surgical center in his hometown of London, Ontario. The Ambulatory Surgical Centre will now be called the Nazem Kadri Surgical Centre and will offer services for low-risk and less complex surgeries. Well done, Nazem!

Kinkaid’s Nod to Adam Sandler

On Feb. 16, 1996, Happy Gilmore premiered in theaters, forever burning the image of Adam Sandler holding a golf club in a Boston Bruins jersey into our brains. After Keith Kinkaid signed a one-year contract with the Bruins in July, the netminder decided to celebrate the iconic character by putting him on his goalie mask—the result is wicked awesome. 

Famous Contacts

Every week the NHL releases its “Puck Personality” videos on YouTube, providing a great way to get to know our favorite NHL stars off the ice. In the latest installment of the series, the league posed the question: “Who is the most famous person in your phone contacts?” Eric Stonestreet was one of Anže Kopitar’s answers, while Ryan O’Reilly said Jon Hamm (duh). More than one player said Brady Tkachuk and David Pastrňák had the best reasoning stating, “Gronk because he went to the Masked Singer.”

Breakout Watch

Going from 56 games to 82 meant plenty of players got a nice statistical boost last season from their 2020-21 production levels. Within that, however, you could still find clear signs of those who reached a new level, breaking out and achieving a new tier of stardom. And, in many cases, it paid off. Tage Thompson? He broke out and got paid. Ville Husso? Same. Jordan Kyrou? Probably about to be.

Just as last year revealed a few of the league’s new rising stars, this season is poised to have no shortage of breakouts in its own right. Let’s take a look into the crystal ball and see who might fit that description:

Arthur Kaliyev – Los Angeles Kings

Arthur Kaliyev, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

One of the crown jewels of the Los Angeles Kings’ impressive prospect corps, Arthur Kaliyev may well be ready to break out entirely on his own. With the offseason addition of Kevin Fiala, fresh off a 33-goal, 85-point campaign with the cap-crunched Minnesota Wild, it looks like he should have plenty of help. We don’t know if Kaliyev and Fiala will be linemates yet, but the 21-year-old mustered 14 goals and 27 points on a checking line last year, so there’s hope that playing alongside higher-end talent will help, whoever it is.

Alexandar Georgiev – Colorado Avalanche

No matter how you debate the winners and losers of the offseason, there is no doubt the biggest winner was Alexandar Georgiev. The guy went from backing up the Vezina Trophy winner with no hope for promotion to having a clear path to the No. 1 job for the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Though the 26-year-old is largely unproven (he has never played more than 34 games in a season), it’s not like Darcy Kuemper left the biggest of shoes to fill in the Avs’ crease.

Cole Sillinger – Columbus Blue Jackets

Had Cole Sillinger suited up for Team USA at the recent World Junior Championships, he would’ve been the eighth-youngest player on the roster. Instead, the recently-turned 19-year-old was enjoying his summer after a rookie campaign in which he scored 16 goals and 31 points at 18 years of age for his hometown Columbus Blue Jackets. A couple of weeks before the World Juniors, Sillinger’s Blue Jackets welcomed Johnny Gaudreau into the fold. If he sees time with Johnny Hockey or Patrik Laine, watch out!

Dawson Mercer – New Jersey Devils

Dawson Mercer, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Dawson Mercer made an impact in the first year of his NHL career, recording 17 goals and 42 points primarily as a center after Jack Hughes went down with a knee injury. Now, Hughes is back, and the versatile Mercer could move to the wing to flank him. Those two talented young forwards, born just five months apart, paired with Ondřej Palát, could make for a dominant top line in New Jersey.

MSk8 Debate 💬

As we inch closer to the start of training camp, our crew at the Morning Skate shares our thoughts on which team had the best offseason heading into 2022-23.

Ben: Calgary Flames. They may not have had the best offseason in the traditional sense of improvement or players incoming vs. players outgoing. However, GM Brad Treliving’s handling of a potential disaster in Calgary helped rescue the organization from the brink of a rapid downfall. Johnny Gaudreau bolts in free agency, and Matthew Tkachuk wants out? No problem, here come Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar. That the reigning Pacific Division champs somehow lost two of the league’s top-eight scorers from last season and didn’t seem to have taken much of a step back is utterly remarkable.

Kristy: This is tough because a few teams come to mind, including the Calgary Flames, Seattle Kraken, and Detroit Red Wings. For this, I will pick the Ottawa Senators, who made the most noise this summer. With multiple teams connected to Alex DeBrincat, including the New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Islanders, the Senators pulled off the deal to land the two-time 40-goal scorer. A few days later, Ottawa signed veteran Claude Giroux, who opted to return home instead of signing with a contender. The Atlantic Division will be tough this season, and Ottawa has put itself into a position where the Sens can become a dark horse. 

Kyle: Although it would be easy to go with Calgary or the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with the teams Kristy mentioned, I’m going to go on a limb and select a dark horse here. The team that addressed its most significant needs this offseason was the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton solidified its goaltending (Jack Campbell) and re-signed free agents (Evander Kane, Brett Kulak, Kailer Yamamoto, and Jesse Puljujärvi), moves that should signify a deep playoff run

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.

Today, we sit down with our Chicago Blackhawks team of Brooke LoFurnoGail Kauchak, and Shaun Filippelli, and Columbus Blue Jackets credentialed contributor Mark Scheig to preview their teams. 

Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets

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?:

Will Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews Be Blackhawks by Season’s End?:

Who Will Be on Johnny Hockey’s Line?: