Friday, June 23, 2017

Podcast: The Biscuits season finale

In the season finale of the Biscuits podcast, Dave and I cover:
- The Golden Knights' vaguely disappointing expansion draft
- Marian Hossa's contract situation
- The NHL awards show
- The little Drake controversy
- The time I wrote jokes for the NHL Awards monologue
- Shane Doan as the party guest who won't take the hint
- Reader questions, and lots more...

>> Stream it now on Vice Sports

>> Or, subscribe on iTunes.




Grab bag: The curious case of Little Drake

In the Friday Grab Bag:
- Wait, holy crap, was that a 10-year-old Drake in last week's YouTube section?
- The Blackhawks are going to get out of Marian Hossa's contract, and that's fine
- An obscure player to make Oiler fans sad
- The week's three comedy stars
- And a YouTube clip that is -- and I do not say this lightly -- the weirdest moment in NHL Awards show history

>> Read the full post at Vice Sports




Thursday, June 22, 2017

Winners and losers from the NHL expansion draft

The Golden Knights finally exist in a form beyond a name, a logo and a handful of free agents.

After last night’s expansion draft unveiling, the Knights finally have a full roster. And while it may not look all that much like the one they open the season with, it’s a start.

Let’s take a look at what the Knights gained and what everyone else around the league gave up, voluntarily or otherwise, as the first expansion draft of the cap era played out.

Here are the winners and losers from the last few days – and weeks, and months – of expansion maneuverings.

Winner: George McPhee’s creativity

The league made sure that the Knights would have some decent players to choose from, shifting the rules from previous drafts to make sure Vegas wouldn’t be left with a roster made up entirely of castoffs and has-beens. (Hey, $500 million has to buy you something.) So we knew that McPhee and his team would be able to find some talent.

But McPhee didn’t just grab the best available names and call it a day. Instead, he spent the weeks leading up to yesterday’s selections setting the table to cut deals with any team that wanted one. And when the time came, he was aggressive in getting those deals done. Heck, by the time this week rolled around, he was sounding like a mafia kingpin collecting protection money.

Not all of those deals will end up looking like winners, but they should add up to a solid foundation. That’s what yesterday was about, and McPhee and his front office worked hard to squeeze every drop of value they could out of the situation. They even showed a willingness to get creative, which is a trait sorely lacking in many of today’s GMs. That’s a good sign for the Knights’ chances of mattering once the new-car small has worn off in a few years.

Loser: George McPhee’s roster

The team is certainly better than some of the disasters that have emerged from expansion drafts in the past. But it’s not good.

With the obvious caveat that there are going to be some pending trades we don’t know about yet, some of the picks were head-scratchers. Passing on Detroit’s Petr Mrazek to take an AHLer who’ll be 25 on opening night, Tomas Nosek, seemed odd. Grabbing Deryk Engelland from Calgary was unexpected, although maybe the local connection plays a role there. Alexei Emelin, among others, felt like a reach.

Add it all up, and those “the Knights could make the playoffs in Year 1” takes already aren’t aging well.

And maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world. McPhee probably could have built himself a decent team, or at least one that would have been good enough to hang around the edge of the playoff race. But that would have been short-term thinking. Instead, McPhee focused on the future, landing a pile of draft picks including two extra firsts for this weekend. Those are assets that will be far more important to the Knights’ long-term success than a few extra wins in 2017-18. If they stick to the plan, the Knights won’t be one of those expansion nightmares that misses the playoffs for the better part of a decade. They’ll get there sooner than later. But in the meantime… well, at least the uniforms are nice.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet





Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My 2017 awards ballot

I had the opportunity to cast a ballot for this year's awards. Now that they've been handed out, I can reveal who got my votes.

HART TROPHY

1. Connor McDavid, Oilers
2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins
3. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning
4. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets
5. Brad Marchand, Bruins

NORRIS TROPHY

1. Brent Burns, Sharks
2. Erik Karlsson, Senators
3. Victor Hedman, Lightning
4. Mark Giordano, Flames
5. Shea Weber, Canadiens

CALDER TROPHY

1. Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs
2. Patrik Laine, Jets
3. Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets
4. Matt Murray, Penguins
5. William Nylander, Maple Leafs

LADY BYNG TROPHY

1. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames
2. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues
3. Mikael Granlund, Wild
4. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings
5. Oscar Klefbom, Oilers

SELKE TROPHY

1. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
2. Mikael Backlund, Flames
3. Ryan Kesler, Ducks
4. Mikko Koivu, Wild
5. John Tavares, Islanders

NHL All-Star Team

CENTER -- 1. Connor McDavid, Oilers 2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins 3. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
RIGHT WING -- 1. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning 2. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks 3. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues
LEFT WING -- 1. Brad Marchand, Bruins 2. Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals 3. Artemi Panarin, Blackhawks
DEFENSE -- 1. Brent Burns, Sharks 2. Erik Karlsson, Senators 3. Victor Hedman, Lightning 4. Mark Giordano, Flames 5. Shea Weber, Canadiens 6. Ryan Suter, Wild
GOALTENDER -- 1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets 2. Braden Holtby, Capitals 3. Cam Talbot, Oilers

NHL All-Rookie Team

FORWARD -- Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs; Patrik Laine, Jets; William Nylander, Maple Leafs
DEFENSE -- Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets; Ivan Provorov, Flyers
GOAL -- Matt Murray, Penguins




Before they were stars: Five top goalies who could have been had in an expansion draft

The picks are in, and we're just a few hours away from the big unveiling. The Vegas Golden Knights have officially filled out their first roster, and we'll find out what it looks like as part of Wednesday night's NHL awards show.

When the protected lists were announced on Sunday, much of the attention was on the goaltenders. From expected names like Marc-Andre Fleury to surprises like Roberto Luongo and Petr Mrazek to more speculative possibilities like Philipp Grubauer and Antti Raanta, there are plenty of intriguing options available for Vegas in goal.

Here's hoping they don't blow it.

Goalies are always the trickiest picks when it comes to expansion. The position is notoriously hard to project, and teams can usually only protect one or (occasionally) two. That's allowed new teams to hit on strong picks like Billy Smith, John Vanbiesbrouck and Bernie Parent over the years.

But they've also whiffed on a few future stars. And those missed opportunities can change the course of a franchise, or even NHL history. So today, let's look back on five of the best goaltenders to ever be exposed in an expansion draft, and why the incoming teams failed to take advantage.

(As always, Historical Hockey Blog is an invaluable resource for information about expansion draft protected lists.)

Rogie Vachon (1967)

When the NHL doubled in size, spelling the end of the Original Six era, the existing teams were initially allowed to protect just one goaltender. Once they lost a player at the position, they were allowed to protect another.

For some teams, there was an obvious choice for which goalie to protect. But the Canadiens found themselves in a dilemma, because for once they didn't have a dominant star in his prime. They spent the 1966-67 season splitting starts between 37-year-old legend Gump Worsley, dependable veteran Charlie Hodge, and rookie Rogie Vachon. Worsley was headed to the Hall of Fame, but Hodge had earned more playing time and Vachon had taken over for most of their playoff run.

In the end, the Habs protected Worsley, leaving Hodge and Vachon available. When it came time for the Golden Seals to make their first selection, they turned to Montreal's crowded crease. But they went with Hodge, who lasted just three years in California – just one of those as the starter – before being lost in the 1970 expansion draft. The Canadiens immediately added Vachon to their protected list, and the rest is history.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News