Tag Archives: NHL

NHL Free Agency: Winners and Losers

Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports

The NHL free agency period has been open for a little over a week now. A bunch of moves have been made, and some teams have gotten better, while others have gotten worse in the process. Here are three winners and three losers from the first wave of the NHL free agency period.

NHL Free Agency Winners

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina’s biggest move of the off-season came when they signed Dmitry Orlov, creating a dominant blue-line pairing with Brent Burns. Orlov’s defensive prowess should help form a duo with the offensive-minded Burns.

The Canes weren’t done yet, though. They also picked up Michael Bunting, Frederick Anderson, and Antti Raanta. Bunting has been one of the more underrated goal-scorers in the league recently, while their two new goaltenders provide depth.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto managed to land Tyler Bertuzzi on a cheap, one year-deal. Bertuzzi was one of the more sought-after free agents, and landing him at just $5.5 million is impressive. The Leafs signed Max Domi for some extra offensive help, and also grabbed John Klingberg on defense.

Despite their stellar signings, it wasn’t all glorious this off-season. Before they made all those signings, Toronto lost Ryan O’Reilly and the aforementioned Bunting. Still, they did a solid job at replacing them.

Nashville Predators

As I just mentioned, Toronto lost Ryan O’Reilly. The lucky team to sign him was the Nashville Predators. Nashville also picked up Luke Schenn, and Gustav Nyquist. These two have lost some skill as they’ve gotten older, but both are experienced, well-rounded players.

Nashville has been a team on the border of the playoffs in recent years, and have seemed to be stuck in the NHL’s version of no-man’s land. Adding these veterans may be just what they needed to get over the hump.

NHL Free Agency Losers

Boston Bruins

After a disappointing ending to what was statistically the greatest regular season in NHL history, things haven’t gotten much better for Boston. The Bruins acquired Bertuzzi and Orlov at the deadline last season, but lost both of them to free agency.

Boston still has a bit of depth on the team. However, it hurts to lose those two and not gain anything significant in return. The Bruins will still be in contention next year, but their free agency period has been less than impressive up to now.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay’s dynasty has seemingly come to an end. They have found themselves in a tough salary cap situation over the past few years, and things haven’t gotten much better this year.

This isn’t their fault, but after losing Ross Colton and Alex Killorn, things don’t seem to be trending in the right direction in Florida. Dynasties age, and with everyone wanting a new contract, it can be hard for teams to keep up. That’s the situation Tampa Bay finds themselves in right now.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Kyle Dubas is well into his first off-season in Pittsburgh, and he’s made some bold moves so far. One of the first was signing Tristan Jarry to a five-year deal with an AAV of nearly $6 million. This was a bit of a head scratcher, since Jarry has been less than impressive in the playoffs, as well as the fact that he’s struggled to remain healthy recently.

In all honesty, it hasn’t even been that bad of a free agency period for Pittsburgh. However, they haven’t done much, and that Jarry contract might look ugly in a couple of years. Where the Predators were a bubble team that improved, it seems Pittsburgh is heading in the opposite direction.

NHL Mock Draft 2.0

Adam Fantilli, a presumptive top 3 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, playing for Team Canada
Photo Credit: Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

With the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup on Tuesday night, the NHL community shifts its focus to the off-season. With that in mind, the 2023 NHL draft creeps closer and closer everyday. Here’s my NHL lottery mock draft, the second edition.

#1 Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard, C, Regina

In any edition of this series, Connor Bedard will always be atop the list. He’s one of the better prospects in recent memory, and an easy lock to go number one.

#2 Anaheim Ducks: Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan

Although, not in the same sense as Bedard, Adam Fantilli is pretty universally agreed upon in terms of where he’ll land. He’s an amazing prospect, and could have gone with the first pick in a number of drafts in recent years.

Anaheim should take their time with this selection, and weigh all their options. With that said, they’ve got a wonderful prospect here in Fantilli.

#3 Columbus Blue Jackets: Leo Carlsson, C, Orebo

With the first two selections, Matvei Mitchkov becomes the best player available. As such, Columbus likely gets a lot of trade calls here. However, the Jackets badly need a center, and the chance to land a franchise cornerstone in arguably their worst position is too much to pass up. Leo Carlsson’s resume is far too impressive to ignore. He goes at number three to Columbus.

#4 San Jose Sharks, Matvei Mitchkov, RW Sochi

With Mitchkov still on the board, San Jose will also likely receive some calls at this spot. San Jose doesn’t have an adequate prospect pool for the rebuilding stage that their in, and they need some players with potential badly. Mike Grier could solve that by trading this pick for multiple picks later. Instead, the Sharks should take Matvei here, as he would easily become their brightest prospect.

#5 Montreal Canadiens: Will Smith, C, USNTDP

With Mitchkov off the board, the draft becomes wide open at this point. Will Smith has a good chance of going higher than this, and Montreal subsequently feels thrilled he’s made it to number five. This is a relatively easy pick for the Canadiens, who grab their center of the future at the fifth selection.

#6 Arizona Coyotes: Zach Benson, LW, Winnipeg

As was the same in the first edition of the NHL mock draft, the Coyotes take Benson with the sixth pick. It’s usually a better idea to pick the best player available over a certain positional need, and that’s what Arizona will do here. The fact that Benson also fits a need causes this to make too much sense to ignore.


Philadelphia trades pick #7 to Vancouver for picks #11 and #89

#7 Vancouver Canucks: David Reinbacher, D, Kloten

Let’s spice things up a bit. The Flyers are a bit of a mess, and with this trade they acquire an extra third rounder, while only dropping a couple of spots in the first round.

Vancouver’s blue line could use some help, and David Reinbacher already has a bit of professional experience in Switzerland. By jumping up to the seventh pick, the Canucks are able to grab an exciting defensive prospect.

#8 Washington Capitals: Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP

Washington’s period of contention seems to be coming to an end. Their core is getting older and older, and their fifth-place finish in the Metropolitan division didn’t inspire much hope for the future. They need to get younger, especially in the middle. Oliver Moore is a great start.

#9 Detroit Red Wings: Gabriel Perreault, LW, USNTDP

At this point, Detroit has so many options on the table. With that in mind, why not take Gabriel Perreault, who just broke the USNTDP single season points record? With that record, Perreault toppled the likes of Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel, who also came up through the developmental program. Detroit shouldn’t think too hard about this one.

#10 St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK

Dailbor Dvorsky went to St. Louis in our first NHL mock draft, as well. The Blues also seem to be exiting their contention window, but there’s still a good bit of talent on the roster. At the young age of 17, Dvorsky figures to add to the mix in a couple of years, as that talent gets older.

#11 Philadelphia Flyers: Tom Willander, D, Rogle

The Flyers drop back to the eleventh selection after their trade with Vancouver. This team is a bit of a mess at the moment, without a clear plan in place. By making this trade, they end up with an extra third-rounder, and are still able to help out their desperate blue line with the selection of Tom Willander.

#12 Arizona Coyotes: Nate Danielson, C, Brandon

Here’s a bit of a shake-up. Because the ‘yotes have two picks out of the first 12, they can afford to get a little frisky with their second one. After taking a winger with the first overall, they decide to go down the middle and grab Nate Danielson out of the WHL. Danielson is a well-rounded player, and should be an instant difference-maker.

#13: Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Wood, RW, UCONN

The valuation regarding Matthew Wood’s draft stock fluctuates a bit. However, it’s looking more and more likely he’ll go in the top 15. Wood is a pure scorer, and his potential is through the roof. Selecting him at 13 would be a high-value pick for Buffalo, and should immediately help their offense.

#14: Pittsburgh Penguins: Samuel Honzek, LW, Vancouver (WHL)

In the first edition, I had Pittsburgh taking a different left winger in Colby Barlow. Samuel Honzek’s skill set could suit them better, though. He’s got an impressive combination of skill, size, and speed, and should be a middle-six forward as soon as he skates onto an NHL rink.

#15: Nashville Predators: Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound

Barlow drops a spot, but he’ll bring immense value to Nashville. The Predators are close to becoming contenders, but haven’t been able to prove much in the past couple of years. Barlow, who has 76 goals in the last two seasons, could help Nashville change that.

#16: Calgary Flames: Oliver Bonk, London

For the final lottery pick in this NHL mock draft, the Flames take Oliver Bonk. Bonk is mostly projected to go around the end of the first round, so some may consider this a reach.

Bonk is effective in the defensive and offensive zone, and should be able to contribute very soon. Oliver would add instant blue line depth to a team that barely missed the playoffs last year.

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Stanley Cup Finals: Top Storylines For Panthers vs. Knights

Photo Credit: Steve Marcus/AP Photo

With a win from the Golden Knights on Monday night, the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals are officially set. Las Vegas, who made their first appearance in their inaugural season, find themselves back and hope to win their first Stanley Cup.

Coming out of the East, the Florida Panthers look to continue their insane run and win their first ever Stanley Cup as well. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest storylines heading into this matchup.

Can Florida Continue Their Recent Playoff Success?

Before this playoff run, the Panthers have had virtually no playoff success. The team has never won the Stanley Cup before, and this year’s Eastern Conference championship is just the second in their franchise’s history. They won the President’s Cup in the 2021-22 season, yet were swept by Tampa Bay in the second round, scoring just three goals in four games.

This time around, things seemed to be looking just as bleak. The Cats barely scratched their way into the playoffs and faced a 3-1 series deficit against the Bruins, who came into the playoffs with the most successful regular season record in league history.

That didn’t matter to Florida, though. In thrilling fashion, they pulled off what could very well be the most shocking upset in NHL history, knocking off Boston. The Panthers rolled over Toronto and Carolina in the next two rounds to make it here. Will their success continue, or will their old playoff woes haunt them once more?

Will Vegas Finally Get Their Ring?

In 2017, the Knights leaped onto the NHL scene in their first year, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. They weren’t able to pull it all the way off though, losing to the Capitals in five games.

Aside from last year, they’ve been a mainstay in the playoffs ever since. Still, there hasn’t been much success. They blew a 3-1 series lead, and a 3-0 game lead in game seven to the Sharks in the first round in 2019. Vegas lost in the Western Conference finals in the 2019-20 season, and then lost to the Canadiens in the altered 2021 playoffs.

The Knights didn’t make the playoffs at all in the 2021-22 season. They roared back into contention this year, though, and find themselves in their second Stanley Cup Finals. Will they be able to break the norm this year?

Which Former-Backup Goaltender Will Come Out on Top?

This Stanley Cup Finals will feature two goaltenders who are on an absolute tear at the moment. Adin Hill entered the season as the fourth goalie on the Knights depth chart, and is subsequently the fourth one used this postseason, as well. He took over in the second round against Edmonton, and has already surpassed expectations, helping lead Las Vegas into the final.

On the other side of the ice, we’ve witnessed one of the greatest postseason performances in recent memory from Sergei Bobrovsky. Like Hill, Bobrovsky entered the playoffs as a backup, but Sergei took over in the first round. The Russian keeper is 11-2 with a 2.21 goals against average throughout these playoffs, and has a .935 save percentage throughout this run. He’s been vital for Florida’s success, and has single-handedly kept them afloat throughout this miraculous run.

Stanley Cup X-Factors

One thing this Stanley Cup Finals is loaded with is talent. Aside from the aforementioned goaltenders, each team has several players who could be the difference between lifting the Stanley Cup and going home disappointed.

Starting in Vegas, it would be impossible to talk about this series without mentioning Jack Eichel. The former second-overall pick has quickly made himself at home in the desert, with 18 points throughout the team’s 17 playoff games. Las Vegas has spread the wealth around with virtually the entire roster contributing throughout these playoffs, and Eichel finds himself in the middle of it.

On the other bench, Matthew Tkachuk has continued his remarkable regular-season success. Tkachuk finished the season with a career-high 109 points, and now has 21 in 16 games, with several game winners in overtime throughout this run. It’s safe to say that without Tkachuk, the Panthers probably don’t find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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NHL Relocation: Rating Potential Cities

Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images

As the NHL continues to try to find new markets, the new focus seems to be the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have struggled to keep a home in Arizona, and are currently playing at Mullet Arena, at Arizona State University. Their proposal for a new arena in Tempe was not supported by voters. This leaves them without a home in Arizona for the foreseeable future. With relocation seeming like a likely option, let’s take a look at the cities who have the best chance to land their own NHL franchise.

Top Cities for NHL Relocation

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City starts off our NHL relocation story. This might be the quickest available option. Salt Lake City currently has the Utah Jazz as well as an MLS franchise, with solid fanbases for each team. They’re the top option on this list, mainly because of this tweet:

Ryan Smith is the owner of the Utah Jazz, so him saying a plan for hockey in Salt Lake City exists is relatively important. However, there could be some issues. For example, the city is not a sizeable market. If SLC was to get a team, they’d be the third-smallest TV market in the league.

Still, a move here makes a lot of sense. They have a capable arena and an owner who is far from a stranger to the NHL. The city would welcome a new team. The Salt Lake City Coyotes would make a lot of sense.


Sacramento is an interesting city on this list. The city has been mostly irrelevant in the sports landscape in recent memory. Currently, the city has the Sacramento Kings as their only major sports team, although they have a minor league soccer and baseball team, as well.

During the Kings’ recent playoff run, Sacramento did gain some recognition with electric atmospheres night in and night out, especially in the playoffs. The city has a rabid fanbase. They don’t have a hockey-ready arena at the moment, but the city was able to build a brand new basketball arena recently. There’s hope that something could be reached there.

Due to the lack of an arena, Sacramento likely won’t be the first option. Still, they might be a dark horse candidate if the first options don’t work out.


Given the sheer size of the market here, Houston has to be factored in. Hockey in Texas seems awkward, at first. However, the Dallas Stars are an example of a good hockey culture that could be carved out in a region that doesn’t exactly seem like a hockey town.

H-town currently has the Texans, Astros, and Rockets. Each of those three teams has sizeable fanbases, and the town is one of the five largest metro areas in the nation. It’s somewhat surprising there’s no NHL team here already. Houston might just be the best option on this list.


Portland is another city that makes sense. The city currently only has the Trail Blazers and the Timbers in the NBA and MLS, respectively. The city also currently has a huge fan base for both teams, so it should be expected that their NHL franchise would have the same luck.

One big factor here would be the NHL’s willingness to add a third team to the Pacific Northwest. The Canucks and the Kraken both have established fanbases in the region. The NHL might be worried there isn’t enough room for the third team. However, it’s possible, and maybe even likely, that a franchise in Portland would create an instant rival with those two teams, as well.

Kansas City

The main reason Kansas City is on this list is because of the intense fan support for the Chiefs and Royals. Both teams have had their ups and downs in recent memory. Still, through the highs and lows, the atmosphere in each stadium has been incredible.

While many don’t realize it because the city doesn’t have an NHL or NBA team, they do have a hockey-ready arena. The T-Mobile Center is a beautiful event center, and it has housed a hockey team before. A relocation here would have instant fan-support, and could also create a rivalry with the St. Louis Blues. This should be one of the first cities considered for NHL relocation.

NHL Lottery Mock Draft 1.0

Photo Credit: Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

Last Monday evening, during action between the Oilers and Golden Knights, the NHL’s draft lottery quietly took place. This draft has one clear-cut #1 prospect in Connor Bedard, who leads the rest of the pack here by a bit. With the order now officially set, it’s time for the first NHL mock draft of the season.

#1 Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard, C, Regina

We kick off our NHL mock draft with an easy one. This is the easiest pick in maybe the last five years. Bedard is one of the most exciting prospects in recent memory, and any other selection here should be considered a mistake.

#2 Anaheim Ducks: Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan

Next up in our NHL mock draft is a pick our founder and CEO, Ronnie Harter, is sure to love. In any other season, Adam Fantilli has a pretty solid shot at going first overall in any draft without Bedard. Fantilli won the Hobey Baker Award last year, and has the potential to be a franchise player. Even though Anaheim missed out on the first pick, they can land a great prospect in Fantilli.

#3 Columbus Blue Jackets: Will Smith, C, USNTDP

Continuing the theme of centers going in the top part of this NHL mock draft, next is Will Smith going to Columbus. Smith had 51 goals and 127 points during his time at the development program, and should be an instant difference-maker at the next level.

#4: San Jose Sharks: Leo Carlsson, C, Orebo

Leo Carlsson has a knack for making highlight-reel plays, and should have no problem doing that at the next level. He’s big and physical in front of the net, yet his speed makes him a threat in transition.

#5: Montreal Canadiens: Ryan Leonard, LW, USNTDP

Finally, we’ve got someone who isn’t a center. Ryan Leonard is another developmental program player in the top five here, and is one of the most well-rounded players in the entire class. Leonard does everything well, and will bring a ton of versatility to Montréal if they select him.

#6: Arizona Coyotes: Zach Benson, C, Winnepeg

If the Coyotes landed Zach Benson, they’d be getting their potential franchise player. Benson was one of the better players in the entire WHL last year. Even though he stands just under six feet tall, Benson’s speed and skill makes him an instant scoring threat at the next level.

#7: Philadelphia Flyers: David Reinbacher, D, Kloten

At number seven, we have the first defenseman coming off the board in our NHL mock draft — to one of the teams that needs defense the most. Before last season, David Reinbacher wasn’t considered to go in the top half of the first round. Some scouts didn’t value him as a first round talent at all. He had an excellent year in Switzerland, and now figures to be the first defensemen off the board.

#8: Washington Capitals: Matvei Mitchkov, C, Sochi

Matvei Mitchkov is one of the most interesting, yet volatile, players in this draft. He’s one of the most talented players, maybe even the second behind Bedard. However, he is on a deal in Russia until 2026. Will a GM be brave enough to select him this year and wait out the rest of his deal?

#9: Detroit Red Wings: Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP

With the third development program player going in the top 10, here we have Oliver Moore, yet another center. Moore had to compete for the spotlight with a vast majority of elite players at the program. However, he has to potential to come out of this draft as one of the best in his class with his elite skating ability.

#10: St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK

Dalibor Dvorsky is a high-value and high-potential pick for the Blues here with the 10th pick. He’s coming off a sensation U-18 World Championship performance, where he almost knocked off Canada as a member of the Slovakian team. Dvorsky is still 17, so it would take a while for him to develop. Still, his potential cannot be measured, and he should only progress at the NHL level.

#11: Vancouver Canucks: Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skelleftea

Nearing the middle half of the first round, the talent pool begins to get a lot more diverse in terms of positions. Especially at defensemen, where the Canucks are badly lacking a high-potential player. Axel Pellikka fills that need at the 11th pick.

#12: Arizona Coyotes: Eduard Sale, RW, BRNE

The Coyotes will be receiving this pick from Ottawa, and will be making their second pick in the top 12. Here, they select one of the best U-18 players in the world, Eduard Sale. Sale was a standout on the Czech team, especially in the medal round. He responded well to being benched, and played electric afterward, which is a very good sign to see from such a young player.

#13: Buffalo Sabres: Gabe Perreault, RW, USNTDP

Here, yet another player from the United States Developmental Program comes off the board. Gabe Perreault had some doubters coming into last season, but quickly shut them up after breaking the team’s single-season points record, with an incredible 118. His biggest thing to work on will be skating, but his floor figures to still be a top-six forward.

#14: Pittsburgh Penguins: Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Penguins find themselves back in the lottery. Barlow is one of the best shooters in the entire draft, and had 46 goals last year in the OHL, with 76 in the past two years combined. He shouldn’t have too much of an issue continuing that track record in the NHL.

#15: Nashville Predators: Andrew Cristall, LW, Kewlona

Continuing the string of wingers going off the board here, we have Andrew Cristall heading to Nashville. His skating needs some work, but when it comes to skill, there might not be a more skillful player in the entire draft. If he can master his skating, he’ll be a force in the NHL.

#16: Calgary Flames: Riley Hiedt, C, Prince George

Riley Hiedt is the final lottery pick in this NHL mock draft. He had a rather slow U-18 tournament, but he’s still very young with potential that is through the roof. He needs to get better off the puck, but his skill with it can’t be minimized, and should translate well to the NHL.