Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fanspeak: Alfredsson voted greatest Senator in franchise history

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series .

Ottawa Senators

1. Daniel Alfredsson (631)

2. Jason Spezza (132)

3. Alexei Yashin (128)

4. Dany Heatley (97)

5. Marian Hossa (67)

Whether the 2013-14 season was his last or he decides/is allowed to give it one more go, it doesn’t sound like Daniel Alfredsson’s last NHL games will come in an Ottawa Senators uniform. That certainly stings for Senators fans, yet at the same time, it’s clear that “Alf” has accomplished more than anyone else in franchise history.

Actually, it’s not even all that close.

Alfredsson set franchise records – by far – in stats ranging from goals (426), assists (682), points (1,108) and games played (1,178). Chris Phillips will probably catch him in that last category (he’s already at 1,143 games), but no one’s within breathing distance of those other numbers.

Of course, the talented Swede did more than just score.

He was a huge part of some very strong teams that dazzled the Eastern Conference in deep playoff runs, including a run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final (even if that loss to the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t particularly pretty). Alfredsson was known for his all-around play as the franchise saw other talents come and go.

Sure, it’s a shame that he ever left, especially since it delivered a blow to what Silver Seven Sens described as the Alfredsson “mythology” while discussing his return to town last season:

The Alfie legend is certainly part of the mythologizing tendency fans still exhibit when talking about their favourite games and favourite players. I’m guilty of it myself. Collectively, Sens fans were guilty of it the past several years. We talked about Alfie as if he had always been universally loved by Sens fans and as if he would march unquestioning ever forth for the organization. In reality, neither belief was true. For much of his first decade with the team, Alfredsson was a favourite scape-goat. This only increased after the departure of super-villain Yashin. Rather than draw support to Alfredsson, the captain’s C initially proved to be a lightning rod for criticism. He was injured too often, he was too soft, and he was too European. His strong performance in 2006-2007 changed that in the minds of many.

Ultimately, he leaves behind the kind of numbers and memories that speak for themselves.

Video: Blackhawks’ Toews adds style to ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

As we mentioned here at ProHockeyTalk on Friday, with several NHL players getting involved in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it takes something a little more than dumping a bucket of water on your head while standing in your bathtub to impress.

Enter Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks captain added a little style to his video posted by the team on Saturday:

In the video, Toews challenges, among others, New York Giants defensive end Israel Idonije, who was quick to respond:

Related: Video: Bissonnette kicks it up a notch in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Setoguchi to Calgary…. one year, $750K

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Shoulder patch commemorates Isles’ last season at Nassau Coliseum

The 2014-15 season will mark the end of the New York Islanders’ tenure at Nassau Coliseum, so it’s no surprise that the team will find some nice ways to say “Goodbye.” The team shared the shoulder patch the team will wear as part of that final victory lap:

Pretty cool. Apparently they’ll give out pucks with that logo, as well:

As much as their current building draws some rather harsh reviews – sometimes by its tenants, even – it’s been quite a run at Nassau. It’ll be interesting to see how much changes once the team moves from that old barn to a the swanky home of the Brooklyn Nets by the 2015-16 season, but in the meantime, we’ll wait and see if an intriguing team might just give that building a bigger send-off than mere memorabilia.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Video: Luongo’s amusing Ice Bucket Challenge

At this rate, it feels like the entire human population has taken part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, so it takes something special to really stand out.

Naturally, Roberto Luongo managed to do so, combining amazing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” pajamas with a great list of hockey people to challenge:

In case you didn’t get the chance to run that video, Luongo challenged old buddies John Tortorella, Mike Keenan and NBC’s own Mike Milbury to dump ice-cold water on their heads.

Well done, although it’s a little disappointing that the following names didn’t get in that top three instead:

Actually, Luongo could have topped that video by dumping ice water on a copy of his much-maligned contract.

Does the End of Leiweke = the End of Shanny? CBJ’s Jeff Rimer on Podcast

August 22, 2014, 11:19 AM ET [79 Comments]



Be sure to 'like' Hockeybuzz on Facebook!

Today is my last day of vacation before returning to the Rumor Mill full force. I have absolutely loved the time away, but also really starting to get pumped for next week and the fact that September winds, come a blowin' in, from across the sea.

And that can only mean one thing-- Hockey is coming kids!

So with all the news over the past few days out of the normally docile town of Toronto that team president Tim Leiweke looks to be leaving yet another NHL team (a year from now) there is a definite buzz in the air from my sources who are curious if Tim's reign will also mean an end to the reign of Brendan Shanahan a year from now.

Many I talk to are feeling it will. That the new president will want his own guy...I am not so sure at all. The people I trust who are close to both the Leafs and Shanahan feel he was aware of this possibility when Shanny left the NHL to take the job and also believe that Shanahan has some assurances from MLSE that he is safe and many speculate that should the season going poorly GM Dave Nonis would be replaced by Shanahan.

Get this one part straight. From long before Shanahan was a part of the Leafs organization the word was out in the NHL that Shanny wanted to be a GM in this league. That he left the NHL for a different position was surprising given there were teams willing to make him a GM. All the weirdness regarding Shanahan's job and Nonis' job weren't just part of the normally over speculative Toronto media. Nonis know Shanahan wants to eventually be a GM as well.

Either way, I don't see Shanahan as Leiweke's guy as much as I see him wanted to be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs....and those I talk to feel the other top dogs at MLSE are committed to Brendan Shanahan as well

Today's Hockey BuzzCast

On Today's Podcast we are truly lucky to have legendary play-by-play man, future broadcast hall-of-famer, and father of our co-host, Josh, Jeff Rimer to talk Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey! Enjoy

Join the Discussion: » 79 Comments » Post New Comment

NHL Department of Player Safety: Loiselle out of mix, McPhee on radar?

Washington Capitals former general manager George McPhee walks away from the podium after a news conference in Arlington, Va., Monday, April 28, 2014. McPhee and coach Adam Oates lost their jobs with the Washington Capitals after the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. (AP Photo)

Czech player scores between-the-legs goal during Champions Hockey League (Video)

The Champions Hockey League kicked off on Thursday with 30 of the 44 teams involved. The biggest winners of the day were HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech Extraliga, who blanked Swiss side SC Bern 7-0, and also provided us with an early candidate for goal of the tournament.

Holding a 3-0 lead late in the second period, Trinec defenseman Marek Trončinský intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and proceeded to channel his inner Tomas Hertl and Marek Malik with a spectacular between-the-legs shorthanded goal:

Trončinský, who has played on past Czech national teams with Hertl, said he knew he would attempt the move as soon as he got around the Bern defender, and that he would have done it if the game were scoreless.

"It's not very hard,” Troncinsky said afterward, unaware of the time I tried this move in beer league and required an ice pack soon after.

The Champions Hockey League features 44 European clubs from 12 countries -- none from the KHL, however. Made up of 11 groups, teams will play six games. The winners of each group, plus the top five runners-up will advance to a playoff round, which will be single-elimination.

With the rebirth of the CHL and the NHL's eyes on how to expand their brand across Europe, how soon until we see the champions of both face-off in an annual exhibition game, sort of like what the Victoria Cup was supposed to be? When that game was last played in 2009, the winners of the first incarnation of the Champions Hockey League played against an NHL team that was taking part in the NHL Premiere Games.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

San Jose Sharks and their baffling offseason (Trending Topics)

April 20, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) is congratulated by center Logan Couture (39) for scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks defeated the Kings 7-2. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Friday Mashup: Leiweke not long for Toronto

Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".

NHLers hold charity games in Slovakia honoring Pavol Demitra

The plane crash that killed all the members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL in 2011 was one of the saddest stories in sports history. The lives lost that day ranged from veteran players who never left Russia to former NHL players who returned to Europe to keep their career going.

One of those players was Pavol Demitra and a host of former NHL players are touring his home country of Slovakia this summer hosting three charity hockey games to raise money for youth hockey in the country as shared.

A team of Slovak stars will face a team of St. Louis Blues stars in the games. Former NHL players Peter Stastny, Anton Stastny, Peter Bondra, Miroslav Satan, and John Wensink joined up with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for the effort all to help remember their friend and countryman.

“I am glad that we could pay tribute to [Pavol] this way,” Chara said. “The other good thing was the game was a sellout. It shows people here love hockey. Playing with all these stars from both teams was a great honor for me.”

The two sides have played one game already in Poprad. Game 2 will be on Friday in Trencin followed by Game 3 in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, on Saturday.

McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’

BUFFALO — When the NHL announced changes to the Draft Lottery process on Wednesday for the 2015 and 2016 Drafts, it was considered a way to potentially combat against teams tanking in the upcoming season.

After all, with players of elite talent like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel – possibly landing a franchise-changing player is something some might think stinking up the house for a season would be worth doing to land them.

McDavid doesn’t necessarily agree with that.

The 17-year-old star forward was in Buffalo on Thursday for the announcement that his team, the Erie Otters, would be playing a game in October at First Niagara Center. He was asked his thoughts on the NHL making the lottery changes and how it might all be because of him – a notion he doesn’t necessarily buy into.

“It’s pretty crazy,” McDavid said. “I don’t think too many teams are throwing seasons. I don’t think that’s how hockey works. I don’t think that’s how anyone who plays hockey thinks. Owners, GMs, coaches, players – no one just throws games away. That’s not how it works. Maybe it’s just a bit of a coincidence I guess, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Call it naiveté if you want, but the NHL began looking into fixing up the lottery process back in March.

While the threat of having multiple teams tanking to try and get the best odds is something the league is correct in trying to head off, keep in mind the team with the worst record hasn’t won the Draft Lottery since 2011 when Edmonton did it.

It’s all on Crosby, Malkin to make it work in Pittsburgh

In what might be the least surprising thing you’ll read on this website: If the Penguins are going to push for the Stanley Cup this season, it’s up to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to make it happen.

Yes, we know they’re the two best players on the team by far. Heck, they’re two of the best players in the league. They’ve both won MVP awards and they were vital to winning the Cup in 2009.

Consider this however: It’s been five years since that victory against Detroit. Since then, a myriad of injuries have befallen both superstars. For Crosby it was his head and his broken teeth and Malkin had his knee give way on him. Failing to win in the seasons affected by that is excusable, but last season felt like everything was there for the taking.

Crosby and Malkin were the team’s top two scorers with Crosby winding up with a runaway victory for the Hart Trophy. While Malkin had more injury trouble for parts of the year, 72 points is nothing to sneeze at especially when he played in 60 games. When he’s healthy, he’s a dominating offensive force the same as Crosby.

Yet somehow, success eluded them.

The Pens struggled in six games to knock off the Columbus Blue Jackets and blew a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers before losing in seven games. Crosby looked average for most of the postseason and while Malkin looked dangerous all playoffs long, he was often a man on an island trying to do it all himself.

The Penguins are at their best when both players are able to take over games or share the burden. Think back to that 2009 Cup Final – Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg was able to keep Crosby under wraps, but they had no answer for Malkin. That brand of play was missing in the playoffs last season.

For the Penguins to be at their most dominating, yes they’ll need help from teammates and new coach Mike Johnston certainly has a lot of pressure on him, but they’ll need Crosby and Malkin to show they’re the best every night to do it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Poll: Who makes up for James Neal’s goals in Pittsburgh?

When the Penguins dealt James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling, it was viewed as a necessary change. Whether it was because of Neal’s penchant for playing things on the edge or not is up for debate, but one thing he did a lot of in Pittsburgh was score goals.

Over the past three seasons, no one in a Penguins uniform scored more goals than Neal. Not Chris Kunitz, not Evgeni Malkin, not even Sidney Crosby. Now with Neal in Music City, the question now is: Who picks up the slack?

The obvious answer would be Hornqvist. In Nashville, the big Swede was able to make a living parking around the net and scoring the dirty brands of goals guys like Tomas Holmstrom and Dino Ciccarelli became known for. With the Pens, putting him around the net while Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, and Letang fire away could mean he becomes a power play beast.

Then there’s 2014 first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen. He has the speed and skill but he’s young and untested in the NHL. If he makes the team out of training camp it could be him. Then again, the Pens’ big guns of Crosby, Malkin, and Kunitz could just all step up themselves and make up the difference.

So who pulls it off the most? That’s what we want you to answer.

Under Pressure: Mike Johnston

Mike Johnston is 57 years old and has never been a NHL head coach before.

Which makes his first gig a bit of a doozy.

Johnston, who in June was named Dan Bylsma’s successor as the bench boss in Pittsburgh, inherits a team loaded with expectations. Pittsburgh is the NHL’s only team with two former Hart Trophy winners — Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — and is clearly in Stanley Cup-or-bust mode; to show how serious they were on that front, the Pens conducted a major overhaul this offseason.

– Bylsma and GM Ray Shero fired, replaced by Johnston and Jim Rutherford.

Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik allowed to walk in free agency, Christian Ehrhoff signed.

James Neal traded to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

The Pens also addressed one of the biggest weaknesses from a year ago — depth — by agreeing to terms with the likes of Steve Downie, Thomas Greiss and Blake Comeau. All of the moves, it seemed, were designed to help turnaround the club’s recent lack of postseason success; last year’s second-round exit at the hands of the Rangers marked the fifth straight time Pittsburgh had fallen short of the Cup Final, and the fourth time in five years the Pens failed to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

As such, Johnston knows what the stakes are for his first season on the job, and he didn’t bother trying to sugar coat it.

“The bottom-line expectation for me is that, from training camp through the first part of the season, everything we do is setting the table for the playoffs,” Johnston said. “The score is relevant but it’s not as relevant as the habits that we are going to have to make us successful in the playoffs.”

The big question for Johnston now is, how will he handle this pressure?

One would think he’ll lean on his assistants for help. Rick Tocchet’s presence will likely loom large, as the longtime NHLer and coach has a wealth of experience and familiarity with players — he was still lacing them up as recently as 2001-02 and actually coached Downie to the most productive season of his NHL career (Downie scored 22 goals and 46 points for Tampa Bay in 2009-10, with Tocchet behind the bench.)

Johnston will also rely on some of his past experiences. He was an assistant for the Canadian Olympic team at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano — a pressure-cooker situation if ever there was one — and has worked on a pair of NHL benches in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

He’ll also look to block out external pressure by keeping intently focused on the goal at hand. And give Johnston credit — he really knows what this Pittsburgh job is all about:

Winning it all.

“This group wants to win,” he said. “They’ve won the Stanley Cup [in 2009], and I believe they want to do it again.”

Oilers to celebrate 30th anniversary of 1984 Stanley Cup championship team

We know there hasn’t been much success in Edmonton the past eight seasons now, but during the 1980s they were the team.

Back in 1984, the Oilers started their dynastic run by ending the New York Islanders’ dynasty beating them in five games. Now, 30 years later, they’re getting the band back together again on Oct. 10 to celebrate the first of what ultimately became five Stanley Cup titles in Edmonton.

As Derek van Diest of the Edmonton Sun shared, the idea to get everyone back together was Wayne Gretzky’s.

“I think everybody, which Wayne (Gretzky) alluded to, and him being the architect of getting this idea, wanted to see the guys and get together,” Oilers President and member of that ’84 team Kevin Lowe said. “We’ve never celebrated the team in any capacity, we did have the Heritage Classic in 2003, which was a bit of a celebration. This is a real fitting event and it looks like everybody is going to be here.”

By “everybody” Lowe means just about everyone involved with the Oilers’ success. Players, coaches, scouts, equipment staff, and executives will all be part of the celebration. We’ll see if former owner Peter Pocklington is welcome since he’s the guy who traded Gretzky and all.

That ’84 Oilers team was one of the most talented teams ever assembled. With Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, and Glenn Anderson along with coach Glen Sather they scored 446 goals that season, 86 more than the second-best scoring team, the Quebec Nordiques.

Sens GM says they’re ‘definitely going to try to keep’ Bobby Ryan

The Ottawa Senators were able to get Clarke MacArthur locked up to a five-year deal on Tuesday and now their attention will have to turn towards star forward Bobby Ryan.

Ryan is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and Senators GM Bryan Murray knows they’d be better off keeping him in the fold as he told the Senators’ website on Wednesday.

“I think all of these players that are going into their last year around the League, some of them will sign early because of the situation and the contract they’re getting. Other people will wait a little bit,” Murray said. “We’ve talked to Bobby at length through his agents. I believe it will take until he comes to Ottawa for training camp to continue the discussions. He’s one of the next guys we’re definitely going to try to keep here.”

Ryan, 27, is coming off his first season in Ottawa after being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks. In 70 games he had 23 goals and 48 points – his worst full season in since entering the NHL. After four straight 30+ goal seasons with the Ducks, adjusting to life in Ottawa was apparently a bit tricky.

With Ryan entering the final year of his deal, a big performance would go a long way to helping boost any offers he might get – whether they’re from the Sens or not.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Infection in repaired knee will delay start of Sharks’ Torres season

The San Jose Sharks won’t be seeing Raffi Torres on the ice at the start of the new season.

The team announced Torres developed an infection in his surgically repaired right knee and had to have a procedure to remove the surgically implanted graft. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said there’s no timetable on his recovery.

“Raffi has started a rehabilitation phase, but will need to repeat the surgical procedure to repair the ACL damage suffered on Sept. 20, 2013,” Wilson said in the team’s press release. “We expect Raffi to return to the team during the 2014-15 season but no official timeline for his return is being set at this time.”

Kevin Kurz of reports Torres could miss as much as half of the season.

Torres originally suffered his injury during preseason last year. He tore the ACL in his right knee and missed most of the season. He played in five regular season games and all seven Sharks playoff games in the first round against Los Angeles. He averaged 10:22 of ice time per game making him primarily a fourth line player. After the injury he suffered, it made sense not to give him a ton of time.

Poll: Who will replace Hartnell on Philly’s first line?

When the Flyers traded Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets, it left a gaping hole on the left wing on their top line. While Philly got R.J. Umberger back in return, the question left to ponder is just who will slide in on the left side of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek?

Randy Miller of pondered this same situation and picked out Brayden Schenn, Michael Raffl, and Umberger as the three main candidates. Schenn has been discussed here a bit as GM Ron Hextall said they’re expecting more from him. Miller suspects Raffl may get a shot with Umberger as an outside possibility.

So who do you think gets the job? If you’ve got another, better idea feel free to yell at us in the comments.

Rangers’ official announcement of Kevin Hayes signing

(Editor’s note: So now he’s 6-5, 225. Blackhawks had him at 6-2, 201. Must have been from his draft year, 2010.)

From the NYR:


NEW YORK, August 20, 2014 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent forward Kevin Hayes.

Hayes, 22, skated in 40 games with the Boston College Eagles of Hockey East (NCAA) this past season, registering 27 goals and 38 assists for 65 points, along with 16 penalty minutes and a plus-34 rating. Hayes was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey, and he was named to the NCAA East First All-American Team and Hockey East’s First All-Star Team. He established collegiate career-highs in goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, power play goals (six), and game-winning goals (six). Hayes ranked second in the nation in points, third in plus/minus rating, fourth in assists, and fifth in goals. He finished second on Boston College in goals, points, game-winning goals, and shots on goal (140), tied for second in power play goals, and ranked third in assists and plus/minus rating.2014 Beanpot Tournament - Championship

The 6-5, 225-pounder tallied a career-high, 12-game point streak from November 29 vs. Holy Cross to January 25 at Penn State (13 goals, 14 assists over the span). He registered his first career hat trick and recorded a single-game career-high with five points on January 18 vs. Maine. Hayes finished the season with five consecutive multi-point games, including a four-point effort (two goals, two assists) in the Northeast Regional Semifinal vs. Denver on March 29.

Hayes skated in 142 career collegiate games over four seasons with Boston College, registering 44 goals and 88 assists for 132 points. He ranks 28th on Boston College’s all-time assists list and 42nd on the school’s all-time points list. During Hayes’ four-year tenure with the Eagles, the team won the Hockey East Championship twice, and won the National Championship in 2011-12.

The Dorchester, Massachusetts native has also represented Team USA on several occasions. Most recently, Hayes tallied two points (one goal, one assist) in eight games at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.

Hayes was originally selected by Chicago in the first round, 24th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Photos by Getty Images.

Kevin Hayes and Rangers John Jaeckel Talks Blackhawks on the Podcast Now

August 20, 2014, 10:53 AM ET [104 Comments]



The Flyers and Bruins made huge push at the end. Nevertheless, it appears Kevin Hayes is Broadway bound.

Also, Hockeybuzz blogger John Jaeckel joins us today to talk Hawks.

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

Join the Discussion: » 104 Comments » Post New Comment

Healthy Zetterberg, Datsyuk keys to Red Wings lineup

The Detroit Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference was expected to be met with domination by a franchise that has been a stalwart among the elite in the Western Conference for years.

Detroit pushed the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks to the limit in 2013, and the reloaded Red Wings, complete with the additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss and a few younger players who played so well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, were expected to challenge for the top spot in the conference.


Undervalued: Niklas Kronwall -- Kronwall continues to fly under the radar as a top-15 fantasy defenseman. Over the past two seasons, his 78 points rank seventh among defensemen, and though he won't shoot or score a ton, his 65 assists during that time are tied for third most at his position. He might not have name recognition like Ryan Suter and Kris Letang, but a case can be made that Kronwall will end up more valuable than either of those players next season.

Overvalued: Gustav Nyquist -- Every fantasy drafter will be drooling over Nyquist, but you should know the forward is going to regress in 2014-15. His totals might not due to the fact he played in 57 games last year, but his per-game numbers will. Nyquist finished last season with 28 goals, and his 0.49 goals/game were sixth best in the NHL among players with at least 35 games played. However, 22 of his 28 goals came during even-strength play and he had an outrageously high 18.3 shooting percentage. Those numbers are nearly impossible to replicate. Another thing worth noting is that a good portion of his dominant play came in February and March (27 points in 21 games) while Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were injured, meaning Nyquist's role was much larger. With a healthy lineup, Nyquist's role will diminish and so will his fantasy value. Expect a 25-goal, 55-point season and you won't be disappointed.

Sleeper: Tomas Tatar -- According to, Tatar played on a line with Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan more than any other combination over the course of the season. If this line can stick together for the future, the Red Wings might have something going. Tatar, 23, had 19 goals, 39 points and a plus-12 rating in 73 games for Detroit last season. He also received 2:17 of power play ice time per game, a number that should rise going forward, which will result in an increase in production (he had six power-play points last season). There's plenty of room to grow for Tatar, and taking a flyer on him with one of your final picks could pay off.

-- Follow Matt Cubeta on Twitter: @NHLQubes

It didn't go that way, in part because of an avalanche of injuries to key players. The Red Wings kept their incredible postseason streak (23 seasons) alive, but lost in the first round to the Boston Bruins.

General manager Ken Holland has been trying to upgrade the defense corps through free agency for three years but hasn't been able to. The forward group looks deep and talented, as several prospects have proven they can play at this level in the past two seasons.

Whether Detroit can be more than a fringe playoff team could depend on better health and possibly an addition on defense at some point during the season.

Here is the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Red Wings:


Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Gustav Nyquist

Tomas Tatar - Stephen Weiss - Johan Franzen

Justin Abdelkader - Darren Helm - Tomas Jurco

Riley Sheahan - Joakim Andersson - Drew Miller

Luke Glendening - Daniel Cleary

Gustav Nyquist, who started the season in the minors because of a salary cap crunch, had a breakout season and carried the offense when Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg (or both) were sidelined. Zetterberg and Datsyuk still are fantastic players, but the Red Wings need to keep them healthy.

Weiss had a terrible first season with the Red Wings, but coach Mike Babcock might give him a mulligan and see if he can lock down the No. 2 center spot. Babcock likes playing Zetterberg and Datsyuk together, but Weiss or maybe Riley Sheahan needs to be a capable second option for that to happen.

Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Sheahan also played well near the end of the season. There are a couple of other exciting prospects, notably 2013 first-round pick (No. 20) Anthony Mantha, who could help the Red Wings this season.

This group still could include Alfredsson, who hasn't decided if he'll play in 2014-15, but if he does it almost certainly will be with Detroit. There is high-end talent and depth here. The only thing Detroit needs is better luck with health.


Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Brendan Smith - Danny DeKeyser*

Kyle Quincey - Jakub Kindl

Brian Lashoff

Niklas Kronwall is a fringe-elite player. Jonathan Ericsson is his steady partner and was missed sorely for half of last season. Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser are capable of being consistent top-four defenders in the NHL, but they're still working on the consistency part.

After the Red Wings reportedly missed out on a couple big names in free agency, they circled back and signed Kyle Quincey for a lot of money considering he might only be the team's fifth- or sixth-best defenseman. The top six seems pretty set, but someone like Adam Almquist or Xavier Ouellet could impress during training camp.


Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Jimmy Howard started a new long-term contract last season but was just OK. His .910 save percentage was his lowest since 2010-11 and he, like many Red Wings, missed time with injuries. He only played in three of the team's playoff games.

For the Red Wings to be an elite team again Howard will need to bounce back in a big way. Jonas Gustavsson is a league-average backup at this point, though Petr Mrazek has been crafting a nice resume since joining Grand Rapids two seasons ago and could be one of the better No. 3 options in the League.

ALSO IN THE MIX: F Anthony Mantha, F Teemu Pulkkinen, D Xavier Ouellet, D Ryan Sproul, G Petr Mrazek

*Restricted free agent


For all 30 in 30 stories go to and for the full 30 in 30 schedule visit .

Red Wings counting on 'kids' to maintain playoff run

The Detroit Red Wings used to rely solely on their veteran stars to guide them into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and to sometimes take them on a deep run. They also used to play in the Western Conference. Those are memories now.

Change came to Hockeytown last season, when the Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season on the backs of young players coach Mike Babcock still calls "kids."

They struggled in the playoffs and Detroit was knocked out quickly, losing in five games to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round, but for the development of the team, how the Red Wings got there was as important as getting there.

Gustav Nyquist scored 28 goals, including 12 in March. Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco formed an effective scoring line when put together. Luke Glendening showcased his skills as a checking center. Danny DeKeyser proved he could be at least a second-pair defenseman.

"The year before they won the Calder Cup, and then last year they got us into the playoffs," Babcock told "In the playoffs we didn't perform … but they're all good hockey players and they're all getting better this summer."

Although the Red Wings still feature an assortment of veteran players, including stars Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall, the fate of their playoff streak is again as much in the hands of "the kids" as it is the players who for years led the way in keeping it alive.

"Two years ago, [Joakim] Andersson helped us get into the playoffs and gave us a good run in the playoffs as a third-line center, but last year he wasn't playing as much at the end," Babcock said. "We can't have that happen to the rest of these kids or we will miss the playoffs."

Babcock's point here is not to put all the pressure on the shoulders of Nyquist, Sheahan, Tatar, Jurco and company, because the Red Wings will still rely heavily on the veteran players.

Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Kronwall will still wear the letters, still lead this team.

Johan Franzen, Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader will still be relied upon for production, possession and more. Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey will again have to join Kronwall as leaders on the blue line.

The Red Wings are hoping Stephen Weiss is healthy and can score at least 50 points like he used to with the Florida Panthers. They'd like to re-sign Daniel Alfredsson if he's healthy. They need elite goaltending from Jimmy Howard, who was beset by injuries and inconsistent play last season.


2013-14 record: 39-28-15, 93 points, 4th in Atlantic Division, 8th in Eastern Conference

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: lost 4-1 to the Boston Bruins in the first round

Additions: C Andy Miele (two-way contract), C Kevin Porter (two-way contract)

Subtractions: C David Legwand, F Patrick Eaves, F Mikael Samuelsson, C Cory Emmerton, F Jordin Tootoo (buyout)

Promotion candidates: F Anthony Mantha, D Xavier Ouellet, D Ryan Sproul, D Alexey Marchenko, D Mattias Backman, G Petr Mrazek

Top 2014 NHL Draft picks: C Dylan Larkin (No. 15), C Dominic Turgeon (No. 63)

"You can have a wish list in the summer and a wish list in training camp, but really as a coach, whatever they give you, you get," Babcock said. "If you start hoping and wishing for any more than that, that's just not realistic."

The good news is Zetterberg and Datsyuk, who each missed approximately half of last season with injuries, are feeling as good as they have in a number of years, Babcock said.

Weiss said he is healthy and ramping up his skating regimen to be prepared for training camp next month. He didn't play after Dec. 10 last season because of sports hernia surgery and a subsequent setback in his rehab that led to a second surgery.

Detroit mostly struck out with free agents this summer, but it won't matter if Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Weiss can stay healthy and in the lineup.

"If you do the work, if you prepare to dance, usually everything works out," Babcock said.

The Red Wings will be better if Alfredsson can get his back right so he can play. He finished last season tied with Kronwall for the team lead with 49 points, but the 41-year-old forward had back problems that ruined the end of his season.

Alfredsson is in the process of trying to test his back. If Alfredsson thinks he can play, and Babcock and general manager Ken Holland can be assured by the team doctors that his back is good to go, he will be re-signed.

In addition, Babcock is optimistic for bounce-back seasons from Howard, Ericsson and Helm. He also thinks Abdelkader is still improving at 27 years old.

"Those are all young guys going in the right direction," Babcock said.

But the Red Wings need the "the kids" to catch up quickly if they want to be a playoff team again. Babcock knows if he's still calling them kids at the end of the season Detroit will be in trouble.

"We used to say in training camp, and I'd say it every year, 'The tie goes to the veteran,'" Babcock said. "Maybe the tie still goes to the veteran, but we've shown, and we did it last year, you're allowed to take guys' jobs and the best players are going to play."

If some of the Red Wings best players are in their early-to-mid 20s, they'll have a good chance of going back to the playoffs for a 24th consecutive season.


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Veterans' health tops Red Wings' five questions

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told anyone who would listen last season that even with significant injuries to veteran stars his team was going to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Babcock was right. The Red Wings went to the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season.

To extend the streak to 24 seasons, and to give Babcock a jolt of confidence to add to his optimism, the Red Wings will need positive answers to the following five questions:

1. Can the Red Wings get full seasons out of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg ? -- Everything changes when Datsyuk and Zetterberg are healthy. They take on the bulk of the scoring burden and every forward gets slotted into his proper position on the depth chart.

The problem last season was Datsyuk and Zetterberg combined to play 90 games, 45 each. Neither played a game in March. They still combined for 85 points, but to reach the playoffs Detroit had to elevate young players into prominent roles.

Babcock would prefer to rely on Datsyuk and Zetterberg. The good news is he said he has spoken to both players and they told him they're feeling the best they have in years. Of course, they haven't played a game since April, so they should feel good.

2. Will Gustav Nyquist progress or regress? -- With 28 goals on 153 shots, Nyquist had the highest shooting percentage (18.3 percent) of the 169 players with 150 or more shots on goal last season. Only 12 of those 169 players shot as high as 15 percent. Only four scored more goals than Nyquist.

Statistically speaking, the odds are against Nyquist producing at the same rate with the same elevated shooting percentage this season. Nyquist is expected to be a 30-goal scorer, but only 31.2 percent of the 30-goal scorers since the 2008-09 season (45 of 144) have shot as high as 15 percent; only eight have shot as high as 18 percent.

Even with a statistical regression Nyquist should be able to build on his 28 goals from 2013-14 if he plays a full season and continues to produce on the power play (he had six power-play goals last season). The difference is Nyquist will have to do it with a target on his back, because the rest of the NHL knows all about him now.

3. Will Stephen Weiss be a difference-maker? -- Babcock's plan is to put Weiss on a scoring line in training camp and let him go. The thought in Detroit is if he's healthy, which he wasn't last season, he should be the second-line center, play on the power play and produce at least 50 points.

Weiss was bothered by leg and groin pain at the start of last season. He played in 26 of the first 32 games, had four points and had to shut it down. He had sports hernia surgery Dec. 23 that effectively ended his season. He had another surgery April 21 to clean up scar tissue.

4. Is Alfredsson going to play? -- If Alfredsson, 41, plays this season it will be in Detroit, but the Red Wings might not know about his availability until shortly before training camp. Alfredsson, who led Detroit's forwards with 49 points last season, is trying to work through a back problem.

If he's prepared to return the Red Wings will sign him to a one-year contract, likely bonus-laden; he'll likely retire if his back doesn't respond properly. For now he remains an unrestricted free agent.

5. Will the blue line hold up? -- The Red Wings wanted to beef up on the blue line this offseason, preferably with a right-handed shooting, top-four defenseman. They reportedly targeted Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle but struck out on both fronts.

Instead Detroit has seven left-handed shooting defensemen, of which only one, Niklas Kronwall, is a proven top-two player. The lack of a right-handed shot is a legitimate question mark that general manager Ken Holland no doubt still is trying to address.


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Red Wings' Weiss ready to leave last season behind

Bring up last season during a phone conversation with Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss and as he talks you can picture him squirming on the other end, recalling the pain that used to shoot through his lower body and the multiple surgeries he had to hopefully correct it.

"I really have tried not to think about last year at all," Weiss said. "I don't really know why that happened. I try to do everything in my power to make sure those things don't happen, and when they do it's pretty frustrating."

The Red Wings signed Weiss to a five-year, $24.5 million contract last summer thinking he would be their No. 2 center, affording coach Mike Babcock the ability to play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the first line.

But Weiss' season was over in mid-December.

Weiss had sports hernia surgery Dec. 23. He thought he could return after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but a setback led to more pain, more visits with the doctor and eventually another operation April 21 to remove scar tissue.

"A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin," Weiss said.

Now four months removed from his second surgery, Weiss said he's healthy and ramping up his skating to be ready to earn his job back as the No. 2 center. If Weiss can do it he'll be the equivalent of the big free-agent acquisition Detroit didn't have this summer.

Weiss averaged 53 points and 77 games played per season from 2006-12. He had four points in 26 games last season.

"I think we've put a nail on the head here of what the big issue was," Weiss said. "I'm back to normal, not having any pain, and I'm slowly starting to get explosive again. It's tough to compete at this level when you're not 100 percent."

Weiss said he thinks the root of last season's problem stemmed from how he trained in the offseason. He said he did too much, and by the start of the season his body already was breaking down. He didn't say anything at first because he was worried about impressing the coaches and living up to his contract. That only made things worse.

"Sometimes when you go to a new team and you've got a big contract, you're so busy trying to prove yourself and earn your contract that you don't want to make any excuses and you don't want to make anyone think you're bailing," Babcock said. "Well, it's not bailing, it's called injured, and when you're injured you can't play in our League. You've got to get fixed. Stephen didn't help himself and in the end ended up with a setback."

Weiss has tried to correct that this summer by being more cautious in his training.

"I skated about six or seven weeks after the [second] surgery," he said. "All was good there, and I've been going on twice a week since mid-July. I've done enough to know it's good."

Good enough to let him return to being the 50-plus-point, 70-plus-game center he was in Florida?

"I'm confident," Weiss said. "I know I can play the game and I'm a threat on the team as a No. 2 center with those two guys [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] coming out first. We should be able to do some damage if we're healthy."


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Mantha leads list of Red Wings' top 10 prospects

To say the Detroit Red Wings struggled with injuries last season is putting the deluge of trips to the trainer's room lightly.

However, there was a silver lining to all the ailments. It meant 12 rookies got into the lineup at some point, including nine who made their NHL debuts. It might not have been ideal, but general manager Ken Holland, coach Mike Babcock and their staffs got ample opportunity to see what the future could look like.

"It was a great learning experience about our prospects," Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer said. "We got a firsthand glimpse of what guys can really do. Thanks to so many injuries and so many voids to be filled in one season, we really got to learn about our guys, what they potentially can bring at the next level."

Here's a look at the Red Wings' top 10 prospects, according to

1. Anthony Mantha , RW

Anthony Mantha was the only draft-eligible 50-goal scorer in the Canadian Hockey League in his draft year. (Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI)

How acquired: 1st round (No. 20), 2013 draft

Last season: 57 GP, 57-63-120, plus-34, Val-d'Or, QMJHL

It's been 15 years since the Detroit Red Wings have had a player jump from junior hockey to the NHL, but the 19-year-old Mantha could be the first since Fischer did it in 1999. After being the only draft-eligible 50-goal scorer in the Canadian Hockey League in his draft year, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound forward was even better last season, leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goals and then scoring 24 times in 24 QMJHL playoff games.

"I love the way he plays," Fischer said. "He's got tools that you probably cannot teach. His hockey sense, to find the space, to get open, to jump on loose pucks with poise and composure; it's unparalleled with his peers. He's unique. He's fun to watch. The bigger the games, the bigger he plays, the bigger his performance, the more he wants to win. He loves playing games.

"He knows that he's going to get a chance [at training camp]. He's going to get a top-six forward chance in camp and he's excited about it. … He knows this is the situation he wants to be in and that's a great sign."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

2. Xavier Ouellet , D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 48), 2011 draft

Last season: 70 GP, 4-13-17, Grand Rapids, AHL

It was a season-long learning experience for the 21-year-old, ranging from the high of his first NHL games to the low of being a 10-minute per game player at times in the American Hockey League. However, the Red Wings never lost faith because they never saw Ouellet (6-1, 190) get down on himself or stop working.

"To ride the high of being in the NHL and then feeling almost like a castaway in the American Hockey League by ice time decreasing, it was tough," Fischer said. "But credit to him. By the end of the year, he was a call-up and he got to play in the end of the year. He's so mentally strong and he wants it so much. Every time somebody makes a point about his weakness, he wants to get better. He takes it as a challenge."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

3. Teemu Pulkkinen , LW

How acquired: 4th round (No. 111), 2010 draft

Last season: 71 GP, 31-28-59, Grand Rapids, AHL

In his first season in North America, the 22-year-old forward tied for fourth in the AHL in goals, was second among first-year players in points and earned a three-game NHL call-up. However, Fischer believes nerves might have gotten the best of Pulkkinen (5-11, 183), as he had four shots on goal but no points.

"I saw a game in Detroit and he shot everything that came to him," Fischer said. "He wasn't in his comfort zone. I watched him three years prior in Finland and in the American league. He scores, he makes plays. In the NHL, he was trying to shoot, put everything on net. The next time around when he gets called up we're going to see more settling into what he's going to become eventually."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Andreas Athanasiou , C

How acquired: 4th round (No. 110), 2012 draft

Last season: 66 GP, 49-46-95, Barrie, OHL

The 20-year-old forward rose to prominence thanks in part to his dazzling puck tricks, but his game finally has matched his puck wizardry. As the 6-0, 177-pound forward moves to Grand Rapids of the AHL this season, it's about finding a consistency of effort.

"The bigger the moment, the more he wants the puck, the more he wants to be on the ice, the more he wants to produce," Fischer said. "Most of the time he does it. Now to get to those big moments he has to be good all the time. … Knowing every moment is a big moment in his head is a key for him to be successful in the pros."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

5. Ryan Sproul , D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 55), 2011 draft

Last season: 72 GP, 11-21-32, Grand Rapids, AHL

The 6-3, 185-pound defenseman played well enough in his first pro season to earn a one-game NHL call-up. An offensive dynamo during his junior days, the 21-year-old continued that with Grand Rapids, finishing second among rookie defensemen in points. He also improved his defensive-zone play.

"He turned pro with a label of super-talented, high-end offensive defenseman, but also with a label that he doesn't play hard enough in the [defensive] zone and he likes to do things by himself," Fischer said. "By the end of the season in Grand Rapids, he played well in the [defensive] zone and there was nothing selfish about his game. … This year when he comes to camp he knows he has a chance. He knows that the Red Wings are starving for a right-hand shot defenseman and he has a chance."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

6. Dylan Larkin , C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 15), 2014 draft

Last season: 60 GP, 31-25-56, USA U-18, USHL

A native of Waterford, Mich., the 6-1, 190-pound forward won't be far from home, or Red Wings management, as he starts at the University of Michigan in the fall.

"As soon as he steps on the ice, wheels are moving 100 miles per hour and they don't stop until he's changing," Fischer said of the 18-year-old. "He's a naturally high-energy guy, yet can balance it with poise and can slow the game down when it's necessary. His ability, his natural stride, is a great asset. He's smart, he makes plays. … He's an athlete. He's a guy that likes to play games. Fun in the locker room; quiet but very competitive."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

7. Tyler Bertuzzi , LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 58), 2013 draft

Last season: 29 GP, 10-25-35, Guelph, OHL

Head and neck injuries sustained in a fight in December sidelined the 6-0, 178-pound forward until the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, but the 19-year-old returned in fine form. He had 10 goals and 17 points in 18 OHL playoff games and led all players at the Memorial Cup with five goals in four games.

"All he did in the playoffs was he kept scoring," Fischer said. "Not being on the first line, some games not being on the second line, not being on the first power play, he found a way around the net. … He's just very good in tight, down low."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

8. Zach Nastasiuk , RW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 48), 2013 draft

Last season: 62 GP, 23-28-51, Owen Sound, OHL

Summary: The 19-year-old was rewarded for a strong junior season with five games with Grand Rapids at the end of the regular season. The 6-1, 190-pound forward was so good there he stayed in the lineup during the Calder Cup Playoffs.

"Anytime a coach has a message for him it never has to be repeated," Fischer said. "He hears it, he takes it in, he works on it, he gets better at it and he moves on to the next thing. He's a great leader. … Being great defensively, being responsible, taking care of the puck, not turning it over, not trying to get attention by swinging for the home runs every time he touches the puck, making simple plays. That's why he played for so long in the playoffs in Grand Rapids."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

9. Jake Paterson , G

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 80), 2012 draft

Last season: 45 GP, 24-18-2, 3.41 GAA, .906 save percentage, Saginaw, OHL

It was a difficult season for Paterson (6-1, 176) on and off the ice. There was the tragic death of Saginaw teammate Terry Trafford as well as personal disappointment playing for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. Now the 20-year-old has to work through a thick depth chart to earn a job in the AHL as he starts his professional career.

"He got the message at the evaluation meetings from Ken Holland that he has to take somebody's job in [training] camp," Fischer said. "We have Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustafsson, Petr Mrazek, Thomas McCollum and Jared Coreau under contract. He's going to have to take someone's job. He knows it and I know his personality. He's going to work his butt off this summer and do everything he possibly can and he's going to have to do it in the camp, which is a perfect situation to create more competitiveness within the organization."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

10. Mattias Janmark , C

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 79), 2013 draft

Last season: 45 GP, 18-12-30, AIK, SWE

The 21-year-old had a great start to the season with 16 goals through late December, but an illness slowed him down. However, the Red Wings liked what they saw in the 6-1, 189-pound forward during a late-season stint in the AHL and see a lot of promise.

"He's going to play for Frolunda [in Sweden] and play most likely on their top line in an environment where they're regarded as one of the top five teams in the league going into the season," Fischer said. "It's a very good situation."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17


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