[B][I]Las Vegas may get franchise goalie
June 20, 2017[/I][/B]
George McPhee can’t wait to fill the white board, the one in the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft room. On Wednesday night, the staff will start adding the names of players who will become part of the expansion team for its first NHL season.
”We’re going to put our team together and we’ll watch it come to life in front of us,” McPhee said.
What will that team look like when it takes the ice in early October? It won’t have all the top-end talent available because side deals will allow Vegas to stockpile draft picks and prospects for the future, but it will probably be the most competitive expansion team in the league’s history.
”I’m really pleased with what’s available,” McPhee told reporters in Las Vegas on Sunday. ”This has worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights, and we expect to put a good, entertaining club on the ice.”
Here’s a projection of who the inaugural Golden Knights might snap up by Wednesday night:
[B]GOALTENDERS (MINIMUM 3)
SURE BET:[/B] Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury seems like the most reliable pick on the board, a recognizable face of the franchise who can easily start 50-60 games and give the Golden Knights chances to win. Fleury waived his no-movement clause so the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have to force another trade, and the 32-year-old can go back to being a clear No. 1 goalie.
[B]WORTH THE GAMBLE:[/B] Fleury could be joined by an established 20-something backup, like Philadelphia’s Michal Neuvirth, Detroit’s Petr Mrazek, Colorado’s Calvin Pickard or New York’s Antti Raanta.
McPhee and Vegas goaltending coach Dave Prior have connections to Neuvirth and Washington’s Philipp Grubauer from drafting them with the Capitals. McPhee described Neuvirth as ”almost technically perfect.”
”It was just about him growing up and maturing,” McPhee said at the scouting combine. ”We thought that when that happened, he’d be an outstanding goaltender. And he’s at that point now. He can be really good.”
[B]ROLLING THE DICE:[/B] Maybe Vegas wants to groom its starter of the future, in which case Grubauer, Boston’s Malcolm Subban, Detroit’s Jared Coreau or Toronto’s Antoine Bibeau could fit the bill.
[B]DON’T SLEEP ON:[/B] Vegas controls the trade market and can make some extra picks to flip a goalie or two. Arizona and Philadelphia are in need of starters.
[B]DEFENSEMEN (MINIMUM 9)
SURE BET:[/B] Assuming Anaheim has already worked out a trade to keep Vegas away from Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson – perhaps at the cost of a first-round pick – there are still plenty of young, affordable defensemen to choose from along with some veterans. Dion Phaneuf refusing to waive his no-movement clause forced Ottawa to protect him and expose 31-year-old Marc Methot.
Minnesota’s plethora of blue liners made Matt Dumba, 22, and Marco Scandella, 27, available unless the Wild is willing to fork something over, and 25-year-old right-shooting Trevor van Riemsdyk from Chicago seems ticketed for the Golden Knights.
[B]WORTH THE GAMBLE:[/B] With speed, skating and puck-moving skills a priority, Detroit’s Xavier Oullet (23), Washington’s Nate Schmidt (25) and Montreal’s Nikita Nesterov (24) all could fit well. Want some more size and physicality? Vegas could look at Boston’s Colin Miller (24), Edmonton’s Griffin Reinhart (23) and Buffalo’s Zach Bogosian (26).
[B]ROLLING THE DICE:[/B] Pending free agent Kevin Shattenkirk of the Capitals wants to be a No. 1 defenseman and could get that role in Vegas.
”It’s a very interesting situation,” Shattenkirk said. ”Usually, you’re talking to teams or thinking of teams and you have some sort of idea of how they’re built or their history or whatever it may be, and they are completely fresh.”
[B]DON’T SLEEP ON: [/B]The Golden Knights will be young, but San Jose’s David Schlemko (30) and Paul Martin (36) and New Jersey’s Ben Lovejoy (33) are veteran options.
[B]FORWARDS (MINIMUM 14)
SURE BET:[/B] This is where elite talent already under contract is hard to find, outside of maybe Nashville’s James Neal, a 10-time 20-goal scorer, and 32-year-old Minnesota center Eric Staal. Vegas could use free agency to stock its top forwards, as it already has by signing Vadim Shipacyhov out of the KHL.
[B]WORTH THE GAMBLE:[/B] Among established NHL forwards, Vegas has the pick of two 26-year-olds from Florida: right winger Reilly Smith and center Jonathan Marchessault, who set career highs with 30 goals, 21 assists and 51 points last season and is the biggest bargain in the league at $750,000. With so many Cup teams built down the middle, Dallas’ Cody Eakin (who McPhee also drafted), Minnesota’s Erik Haula and St. Louis’ Jori Lehtera could help both present and future.
ROLLING THE DICE: [/B]Vegas can build a young nucleus with some intriguing possibilities, assuming Columbus has persuaded McPhee not to take 17-goal scorer Josh Anderson and the New York Islanders have worked out a way to keep 56-point producer Josh Bailey. One-time prospects Marko Dano from Winnipeg, Mikhail Grigorenko from Colorado and Nail Yakupov from St. Louis might benefit from bigger opportunities under coach Gerard Gallant.
[B]DON’T SLEEP ON:[/B] If Vegas is indeed getting Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger, he’s a nice depth player at 27, and Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, who is 34, satisfies a veteran component and could fit perfectly as the franchise’s first captain.
[B][I]NHL notebook: Coyotes decline to offer Doan new pact
June 19, 2017[/I][/B]
Longtime captain Shane Doan will not be returning to the Arizona Coyotes even if he is not selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft.
Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway announced in a statement on Monday that the team will not offer a contract to the 40-year-old Doan, who was told over the weekend that he is no longer part of the team’s plans.
“The time has come for us to move on and to focus on our young, talented group of players and our very bright future,” Barroway said. “This was a very difficult decision given what Shane has done for the Coyotes and his unparalleled importance to the organization. With that said, this is necessary to move us forward as a franchise.”
Doan, who has given no clear indication of whether he plans to continue playing, has been with the team for all of his 21 seasons in the NHL dating to when the franchise was still based in Winnipeg.
Doan is the franchise leader in a number of categories, including games played (1,540), goals (402), assists (570) and points (972).
–Former NHL coach and player Ron Wilson and longtime Boston University coach Jack Parker head a five-member class for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
The class, announced by USA Hockey, also included longtime NHL player Scott Young, three-time Olympic women’s team coach Ben Smith and Kevin Collins, a retired NHL referee.
Wilson played seven seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Stars. A defenseman known for a blistering slap shot, he had 19 goals and 71 points in 113 NHL games. He also played parts of four seasons in Switzerland.
Parker compiled an 894-474-115 record at Boston University in a career that started in 1973-74 and ended with his retirement in 2012-13. His 897 victories are third all-time and the most by a coach at one school.
–The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Joonas Lyytinen to a two-year entry-level contract.
Lyytinen, 22, played his fourth season with KalPa of the Finnish League in 2016-17, helping the club to a silver medal while tying for fourth in postseason points with seven (two goals, five assists) among defensemen. He also tied for seventh in the league with eight goals and 14th in points (24) among defensemen during the regular season.
The Espoo, Finland, native was selected by Nashville in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL draft. Lyytinen represented Finland in the 2015 World Junior Championship on a team that included current Predators backup goaltender Juuse Saros.
[B][I]Coyotes won’t offer captain Shane Doan a contract
June 19, 2017[/I][/B]
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Shane Doan was showered with tributes and applause following the final game of the 2016-17 season, the big send-off coming just in case the Arizona Coyotes captain decided to retire.
Doan still hasn’t decided if he will retire, but he won’t play for the Coyotes if he does come back.
The Coyotes issued a statement Monday saying the team will not offer Doan a contract, ending a 21-year relationship that began before the franchise moved to the Valley of the Sun.
”The time has come for us to move on and to focus on our young, talented group of players and our very bright future,” Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said in the statement. ”This was a very difficult decision given what Shane has done for the Coyotes and his unparalleled importance to the organization. With that said, this is necessary to move us forward as a franchise.”
The Coyotes have been in rebuilding mode since a run to the 2012 Western Conference finals, a span of five playoff-less seasons that led the franchise to skew toward younger players.
The Coyotes traded 33-year-old Mike Smith, their No. 1 goalie the past five seasons, to Calgary on Saturday and left Doan unprotected in the NHL expansion draft on Sunday. They parted ways – at least on the ice – with their 40-year-old captain a day later, leaving Doan to decide whether to retire or join another team.
”On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to sincerely thank Shane for everything he’s done for the Coyotes on and off the ice the past 21 years,” Barroway said. ”Shane is a Valley icon who had an incredible career and was one of the best captains to ever play in the NHL.”
The Winnipeg Jets drafted Doan with the seventh overall pick of the 1995 NHL draft and the native of Halkirk, Alberta, followed the team when it moved to the desert and changed names a year later.
Doan became an Arizona icon through the years through his hard-working mentality, professionalism and connection with the community. The bruising forward was known as one of the NHL’s best captains, a leader in the locker room and the ice who earned respect across the league.
Doan had one of the best seasons of his career in 2015-16, finishing with 28 goals and 19 assists, but was limited to six goals and 21 assists last season. He agreed to waive his no-trade clause for the first time last season for a chance to play for a Stanley Cup, but no teams were interested.
Doan could end up with a job in the Coyotes’ front office should he decide to retire.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to become Arizona’s captain with Doan no longer on the team.
”Shane deserves an enormous amount of credit for keeping the Coyotes in the Valley and for growing the game of hockey in Arizona,” Barroway said. ”He is beloved by our fans, corporate partners and the media and has been a tremendous leader for us in the community, and a great role model for kids. We wish him and his family all the best in the future. He will be a member of our Pack forever.”
[B][I]Sharks face key decisions with two vets
June 16, 2017[/I][/B]
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Joe Thornton is expected to be healthy at the start of training camp despite undergoing offseason surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee.
Where Thornton and longtime San Jose teammate Patrick Marleau will be playing remains an open question as they head toward unrestricted free agency.
”They’ve meant a lot to us, they mean a lot to us,” general manager Doug Wilson said Friday. ”It goes back to making this a place where players want to play. It’s great when players want to be here, players of their ilk who have set the standard for everyone else. We’re exploring it, trying to do everything we can to make the best decision for this franchise. They have choices also obviously. But they know how we feel about them.”
Thornton had a salary cap hit of $6.8 million and Marleau was at $6.7 million last season in the final year of three-year deals that were signed on the same day in 2014. Both players will be 38 at the start of next season, raising questions about how long the Sharks will want to commit and how much money they will be willing to pay.
Marleau is coming off a 27-goal season and still has the speed to keep up with much younger players in today’s faster game. Thornton scored just seven goals – his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 – but is still an elite playmaker and had 43 assists.
There is also the injury to consider with Thornton, who tore the MCL and ACL in his knee on April 2 but still returned to play the final four games of a first-round playoff loss to Edmonton.
”Jumbo’s doing extremely well,” Wilson said. ”He’s been in here every day, looks really good. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be ready and fit to start the season. The work that he’s put in already, that’s pure Jumbo. He loves the game. I see him every day here at the rink.”
The two have been the faces of the franchise, with Marleau joining as the No. 2 overall pick in 1997 and Thornton being acquired in a trade from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005.
San Jose has made three trips to the conference finals with both players on the roster and went to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago before losing to Pittsburgh in six games.
Thornton recorded his 1,000th career assist last season and ranks in the top 25 all-time in assists (1,007, 13th place) and points (1,391, 22nd place).
Marleau scored his 500th career goal last season and is 41st all-time with 508 in his career.
More importantly, they have set the standard for scores of teammates in San Jose to emulate and have become fan favorites. But the decision on their future will be solely a hockey one not a marketing one, according to Wilson.
”These guys have been cornerstones of this franchise. We operate under a cap system which is different from many, many years ago when those choices maybe come into play,” Wilson said. ”You sometimes have to make tough decisions. Make no mistake about our respect and appreciation for them will never end. Under a cap system we’ll see and we’ll navigate ourselves through this. We’ve been very fortunate to have players like this play at as a high a level as they have. How important they are to this franchise will not be forgotten. When it comes to making the hockey decisions, we have to make the decisions under this system, the cap system that makes sense.”
[B][I]In other news:[/I][/B]
– Wilson said he has a good idea who he will protect in the expansion draft but that could change depending if any deals are made with Vegas or another team.
”We feel we’re pretty comfortable,” he said. ”We know we’re going to lose a good player. So is every team, so that’s part of the expansion process. There’s lots of talks, lots of communication. We do think we’ve prepared for this pretty well.”
– The team has begun negotiating long-term extensions with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goalie Martin Jones. The two are entering the final year of their contracts and can sign extensions beginning in July.
– The team has also begun interviewing candidates to replace assistant coach Bob Boughner, who was hired as the head coach in Florida. Wilson said he wants to find someone to specialize with the defensemen and penalty kill.
[B][I]NBA Draft Props analysis
June 19, 2017[/I][/B]
The deepest draft in years will certainly yield gems for the teams at the top and should deliver a few profitable opportunities for you to wet your beak on props.
Although shops will likely offer varying proposition wagers come Thursday, the numbers this column will work with were available at BetOnline.ag Monday afternoon.
Boston has already made major waves by trading the No. 1 pick away, preferring to cash in on Philadelphia’s devotion to guard Markelle Fultz as the player they want to pry from this class. The 76ers moved the No. 3 pick and a future first-round pick with “favorably protected rights” to the Celtics for the right to draft the Washington freshman.
GM Danny Ainge believes he’ll get a player that he possibly would’ve selected first at No. 3, so he’s going all-in on Fultz potentially not developing into the can’t-miss standout that most project he’ll be. Whether he selects Kansas wing Josh Jackson, North Carolina forward Jayson Tatum or even UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, this decision will always hang over his head.
Fultz is -5000 to hear his name first and will. It’s his job to make the decision look foolish, while Ainge will move forward with a player he likes third while adding another future lottery pick that can potentially sweeten the deal when packaged with all of his many other pieces to land Boston a long-coveted franchise player.
After the Lakers make their choice between Ball and Jackson — and it would surprise me if it wasn’t the Chino Hills star, Ball — the Celtics are likely to decide between Jackson, an Ainge-type player, and Tatum a skilled combo forward who would definitely give the Celtics a piece they currently lack.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough has called this a Top-3 draft in terms of talent since he entered the league in 2003, widely considered the best in this century since it included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, among others. That means there will be a piece he likes at No. 4, where Jackson, Tatum, Kentucky point guard DeAaron Fox and anyone else they may have grown enamored with will undoubtedly fall.
It would be surprising to see the Suns pull the trigger on Fox, but a team that likes the UK point guard would be wise to swing a deal because he won’t slip past the Kings at No. 5. That makes the draft props of Fox and Tatum interesting because both are being listed at 4.5. Currently, I’d have to ride with Tatum over Fox as the player who goes first.
Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac, a 6-foot-11 pterodactyl of a combo forward whose raw skills merit a look, has said he’s only working out for the top four teams, which makes his prop (6.5) awfully intriguing. The Suns have reportedly met with him twice, but they drafted two versatile frontcourt pieces last year in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. Orlando could take the Seminoles standout, which would please many in the fan base who got a good look at him all year.
Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen (7.5), Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk (8), N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (8.5) and French League standout Frank Ntilikina (9.5) are among players listed among the Top 10, and I recommend taking the under on Monk, an elite scorer who could go as high as No. 6 to Orlando but shouldn’t get past the Knicks at 8, which gets you a push.
It will be interesting to see whether Markkanen, a native of Finland, or the Belgian-born Ntilikina will be the first European-born player selected, so there’s no great feel there at the moment. Duke’s Luke Kennard (12.5) is the draft’s top shooter at a time when that skill is in higher demand than ever before, but there is enough depth that he could potentially fall out of the lottery.
Duke forward Harry Giles (15.5), at one point the No. 1 prep prospect in this class before injuries derailed him, could also be a lottery selection despite having a limited impact with the Blue Devils due to a knee injury that may scare teams off. Still, he’s a marvelous athlete who plays with great energy when healthy and looms as a risk-reward play that should land him in the top-half of the first round.
As things stand, this first round should feature the most freshmen ever, shattering the mark of 13. Since everyone understands this, the number being placed at 16.5 seems a little high. The number of internationals selected has been set at 4.5, and with clarification as to who is considered what since there are a few gray areas, take the over on that.
Among colleges, Duke (3.5), Kentucky (2.5), UCLA (2.5) and UNC (1.5) each have props up on the number of first-rounders they’ll produce. While Tatum, Kennard and Giles are locks, it’s unlikely that freshman guard Frank Jackson will sneak in the Top 30.
Riding rival North Carolina looks like the lock of the prop game, since you can expect both freshman center Tony Bradley and small forward Justin Jackson to represent the defending champs among the top 30 picks.
Jackson (19.5) is a fantastic individual value play since he’s climbing up draft boards with his potential as smart, valuable wing, while Bradley should be selected somewhere in the 20s by a team interested in his size and agility since he projects as a standout rebounder.
Meanwhile, the overs for the ‘Cats, and Bruins look strong since I expect Kentucky big man Bam Adebayo to be selected, joining Fox and Monk as draftees. Forwards Ike Anigbobu and TJ Leaf should join Ball and rep UCLA.
[B][I]What offseason? A week after Finals, the NBA in overdrive
June 20, 2017[/I][/B]
Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez are on the move. Dwyane Wade is opting in. Pau Gasol is opting out. The Los Angeles Lakers provided the clearest indication yet that Lonzo Ball is their guy.
The NBA offseason is already in overdrive.
A dizzying series of moves came on Tuesday. Howard got traded by the Atlanta Hawks to the Charlotte Hornets, who acquired the eight-time All-Star center for a package that included Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli.
And Lopez – another center – is leaving Brooklyn and headed to the Lakers, part of a deal that has D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov going to the Nets.
That leaves the Lakers with a clear need at point guard, a problem they will likely rectify on Thursday when they presumably will take Ball with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft. It was a big move for the Lakers in another way; Mozgov is still owed $48 million over the next three seasons, while Lopez’s contract will expire after next season.
Howard will be playing for his third team in three seasons following a disappointing homecoming in Atlanta. He signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Atlanta and then sat out the fourth quarter in two of six playoff games in the Hawks’ first-round loss to Washington.
”Let the madness begin,” Portland guard CJ McCollum said. ”Draft week is always the most interesting time of the year.”
Madness is right.
Barely a week after the Golden State Warriors won their second NBA championship in three years, the rest of the league is maneuvering like mad.
Along with the trades, confirmed by people with direct knowledge who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither deal was formally announced, Gasol opted out of his $16 million deal for next season with San Antonio – but intends to sign a new multiyear deal with the Spurs that will reduce his annual salary but give him more security, and presumably give his team a chance to add a big-time free agent this summer. Wade told the Bulls he will take his $23.8 million deal for next season, a decision he had until next week to make.
And Minnesota parted ways with Nikola Pekovic, waiving him in what could be the last act of a career that was derailed by foot and ankle problems over the past three seasons. Pekovic missed all of last season and played only 12 games the previous season.
All this comes with Paul George’s status in Indiana most uncertain and with many trade rumors swirling there, the belief by many across the league that Jerry West joining the Clippers’ front office could help their pursuit of LeBron James in the summer of 2018, and the ongoing watch in New York of what the Knicks will do – if anything – with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
It’s not like Monday was a slow day, either.
That was when Philadelphia and Boston completed the deal that sent the No. 1 overall pick to the 76ers – giving them the chance to take Markelle Fultz, and allowing the Celtics to choose likely either Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson at No. 3, which they got in the swap. The Celtics said they think the player they take at No. 3 would likely have been the player they used the No. 1 pick on anyway, so they called it a win-win move.
Then came Monday night’s news that the Cleveland Cavaliers were parting ways with general manager David Griffin after three straight trips to the NBA Finals, a move that James clearly was not happy about. Cleveland then talked with former All-Star guard Chauncey Billups on Tuesday about a job in the front office.
To think, summer doesn’t even start until Wednesday.
The draft is Thursday.
The league’s inaugural after-the-season awards show is Monday.
Free agency and the new collective bargaining agreement start on July 1.
”Wow,” Phoenix guard Devin Booker said on Twitter.
It wasn’t clear what Booker was exactly referring to, though he probably said it a few times Tuesday.
[B][I]Hawks trade Howard to Hornets
June 20, 2017[/I][/B]
The Atlanta Hawks traded center Dwight Howard and the 31st pick in Thursday’s draft to the Charlotte Hornets for forward Miles Plumlee, swingman Marco Belinelli and the 41st pick, according to multiple reports.
The 31-year-old Howard, who signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Atlanta last July, averaged 13.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 74 games during the 2016-17 season. Charlotte will be Howard’s fifth team after spending his first 13 seasons with Orlando (eight), the Los Angeles Lakers (one), Houston (three) and Atlanta (one).
Plumlee, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract last season, averaged 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds across 10.8 minutes in 2016-17. He began last season with the Milwaukee Bucks before being dealt to Charlotte before the trade deadline.
Belinelli averaged 10.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes last season. He comes with a $6.6-million cap hit as his three-year, $19 million contract expires after the 2017-18 season.
[B][I]76ers appear poised to take Fultz at No. 1
June 20, 2017[/I][/B]
PHILADELPHIA — For the second consecutive year, the Philadelphia 76ers will have the first overall pick in the NBA draft.
Last season, the Sixers selected LSU standout Ben Simmons, though he never played after suffering a broken bone in his foot toward the end of training camp.
When the ping-pong balls landed in the 2017 draft lottery, Philadelphia came away with the No. 3 overall pick this year. But president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics, allowing the Sixers to move up two spots to No. 1 again.
It looks like Philadelphia is prepared to take Washington guard Markelle Fultz at No. 1. Paired with Simmons, the Sixers seem to have a rising backcourt for the next 10-to-12 years.
Colangelo was rather vague when meeting with the media. That happens in the days leading up to the draft.
“Most importantly we’re taking the next step, I believe, in formulating a solid young core of players that ultimately will lead to a successful and sustainable product,” Colangelo said. “That’s our goal and that’s where we want to be. With the certainty of No. 1, we know we control our circumstances.”
While Simmons missed the season, center Joel Embiid was limited to 31 games because of injuries. Forward Jahlil Okafor struggled with a balky knee. Philadelphia stumbled to 28 wins, putting its total number of victories at 75 over the last four seasons.
The Sixers were fortunate in the lottery once again and seem primed to take another step with a high-caliber type of player at No. 1.
“A lot of things are lining up, with hopefully good reason, again to be able to have the opportunity be able to select No. 1 and control our destiny,” Colangelo said. ” And then have Ben Simmons, and Jerryd Bayless, and others that will be either acquired in the trade or free agency join this mix, along with that developing core that was there, with a healthy Joel Embiid.
“There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of reason to move forward with a much further idea of what we have. Again, it is somewhat circumstantial that we’re here. Nobody is angry about being here.”
If Philadelphia takes Fultz as expected, the rest of the top five in the draft appears to look like this: the Los Angeles Lakers selecting UCLA guard Lonzo Ball at No. 2; the Celtics taking Kansas guard/forward Josh Jackson at No. 3; the Phoenix Suns picking Duke forward Jayson Tatum at No. 4; and the Sacramento Kings selecting Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox at No. 5.
Of course, Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac, Kentucky’s Malik Monk and North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith could all sneak in the top five because anything is possible on draft night.
This is a particularly crucial draft for the Sixers. It’s year five of coach Brett Brown’s era and time to start winning for a fan base which has had to “Trust The Process,” in honor of former general manager Sam Hinkie.
Philadelphia also owns four second-round picks, acquired in previous trades with the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz. They could attempt to package some draft picks and move up for another potential first-round pick.
Clearly, the focus is on the No. 1 choice, also known as Fultz.
“It’s great excitement, obviously,” Colangelo said of the buzz of having the top pick. “We have a much better idea of where we are today than just a few days ago and, again, sitting in the No. 1 spot, we couldn’t be in a better place. So, we know where we are, we’ve got pick certainty now and we can zero in on the fine details of that selection now.
“And plan — we can get a head start on planning for some of the things that follow that can also help us with our trade thoughts and free-agent thoughts moving forward.”
[B][I]Baynes declining option, becoming free agent
June 20, 2017[/I][/B]
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Detroit backup center Aron Baynes is declining his player option for next season and becoming a free agent.
Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons’ coach and team president, confirmed the move Tuesday. The 30-year-old Baynes averaged 4.9 points in 75 games last season and has been a capable backup to Detroit star Andre Drummond over the past two years. Baynes has had to play crucial minutes at times, when Drummond was limited late in games because of his poor foul shooting.
Detroit also has 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic, who can play a bigger role backing up Drummond if the Pistons lose Baynes. Marjanovic appeared in 35 games last season.
AP source: Dwyane Wade opts in for 2nd year with Bulls
June 20, 2017
CHICAGO (AP) Dwyane Wade has told the Chicago Bulls that he is exercising his $23.8 million option and will remain with them next season, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the Bulls nor Wade had spoken publicly about the matter. Wade had until next week to decide whether to opt in or become a free agent.
Wade averaged 18.3 points on 43 percent shooting last season, his first with the Bulls after 13 years in Miami. He missed 11 games in March with a fractured elbow, but he returned for Chicago’s final three games to help the Bulls make the playoffs.
Wade made $23.2 million this past season. He turns 36 in January.
[B][I]NBA notebook: Lakers acquire Lopez from Nets
June 20, 2017[/I][/B]
The Los Angeles Lakers hold the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but they did not wait until Thursday night to begin reshaping their roster.
The Lakers have reached an agreement to trade point guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for center Brook Lopez and the 27th selection in this year’s draft, The Vertical reported Tuesday.
Trading Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, all but assures that Los Angeles will select point guard Lonzo Ball of UCLA at No. 2 Thursday. It also gives the Lakers three first-round selections in the draft.
Russell averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 assists in his second season with the Lakers and the 7-foot-1 Mozgov averaged 7.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots last season.
The 7-foot Lopez represents a dramatic upgrade for Los Angeles, particularly at the offensive end. He averaged a team-high 20.5 points last season for Brooklyn and owns career averages of 18.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in nine seasons with the Nets.
–Chicago Bulls shooting guard Dwyane Wade is reportedly leaning toward exercising his $24 million player option to remain with the franchise next season.
The 35-year-old Wade has until June 27 to make a decision.
The Chicago native averaged 18.3 points in his first season with the Bulls. He played in 60 games and was sidelined late in the season with a fractured elbow. The scoring average was the second lowest of his 14-year career.
Wade told the Bulls he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process, so the former Miami Heat star is certainly closely watching the situation involving All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. The Bulls are shopping Butler leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft and the Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly expressed interest.
–Pau Gasol will decline a $16.2 million contract option for next season and become a free agent, but he is expected to re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs on a long-term deal, according to multiple reports.
The 36-year-old center intends to negotiate a lower annual salary so that the Spurs are able to offer free agents more money this offseason, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Gasol averaged a career-low 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 64 games (39 starts) in his first season with the Spurs last season.
Former All-Star David Lee is also expected to opt out of his deal with San Antonio. Lee’s option for next season is worth $1.6 million. The 34-year-old averaged 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 79 games last season.
–The Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers have begun discussing the possibilities of a Paul George trade, according to multiple reports.
George recently relayed to the Pacers that he won’t re-sign with the club after the 2017-18 season and added that he hopes to sign with the Lakers as a free agent. With Thursday’s NBA draft approaching, Indiana is investigating whether it can trade the four-time All-Star forward to the Lakers either before the draft or on draft night.
The Pacers are apparently asking for the No. 2 overall pick in the draft that belongs to the Lakers, as well as forward Brandon Ingram, who was the No. 2 overall pick in last season’s draft. The Lakers aren’t interested in that scenario as they have the knowledge that George could be had on the free-agent market 13 months from now.
Indiana also has engaged in talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Other teams reported to have interest are the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards.
–Kristaps Porzingis may not be long for New York as Knicks president Phil Jackson is considering trading the 7-foot-3 Latvian and has been fielding trade calls ahead of the draft, according to multiple reports.
Porzingis, 21, has not been in contact with anybody within the Knicks’ front office since the end of the season. He skipped exit meetings with Jackson and the team due to his frustration with the Knicks’ dysfunction.
The former fourth-overall draft pick in 2015 has averaged 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks over 138 games in his first two seasons with the Knicks. Last season, Porzingis averaged a career-high 18.1 points, 7.2 boards and two blocks in 66 contests.
–Aron Baynes is set to become a free agent as the Detroit Pistons center will decline his $6.5 million player option, according to The Vertical.
Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy has said repeatedly that he expected the 30-year-old Baynes to opt out and seek a better deal, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The 6-foot-10 Baynes averaged 4.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 75 games (two starts) last season with the Pistons. He has career averages of 5.2 points and 4.1 boards in 295 games over five seasons with the Pistons and San Antonio Spurs.
[B]NHL Note – Anaheim Ducks Beauchemin, Francois
August 22, 2017
D Francois Beauchemin is returning for a third stint with the Anaheim Ducks, who signed him to a one-year contract Monday. Terms were not disclosed, but deal is worth a reported $1 million with an additional $500,000 that can be earned through performance incentives. Beauchemin, 37, appeared in 525 career NHL games with Anaheim, recording 179 points (53 goals, 126 assists), and he was a member of the 2007 Stanley Cup champions.
[B][I]NHL Note – Colorado Avalanche Kerfoot, Alexander
August 24, 2017[/I][/B]
F Alexander Kerfoot signed a two-year, entry-level contract through the 2018-19 season, the Colorado Avalanche announced Thursday. Kerfoot became a free agent last week when his rights with the New Jersey Devils expired. New Jersey initially selected the now-23-year-old British Columbia native in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. “We are thrilled that Alexander decided to sign with the Avalanche,” Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said. “He’s a highly skilled, playmaking center who is responsible at both ends of the ice. We look forward to seeing him take the next step of his hockey career with our organization.”
NHL Note – New Jersey Devils Butcher, Will
August 28, 2017
D Will Butcher, the 2017 Hobey Baker Award recipient, agreed to a two-year, entry-level contract with Devils on Sunday.
Butcher will receive an average annual salary of $925,000. The 22-year-old was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, but elected not to sign with the club and became an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16. A college player has four years to sign with the team that drafts him before he can become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16 of that fourth year.
Butcher spent four seasons with the University of Denver and served as team captain in 2016-17, helping the Pioneers win the NCAA national championship. He collected seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games last season.
[B]NHL Note – New York Rangers Pirri, Brandon
August 30, 2017[/B]
F Brandon Pirri is returning to the Florida Panthers on a professional tryout, the team announced Tuesday. Pirri collected eight goals and 10 assists in 60 games with the New York Rangers last season.
[B][I]NHL Note – Arizona Coyotes Doan, Shane
August 31, 2017[/I][/B]
RW Shane Doan, the former Arizona Coyotes captain, announced his retirement from the NHL after 21 seasons.
The 40-year-old Doan only played for the Coyotes during his career, dating back to before the franchise moved from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. The forward was the seventh overall pick by the Jets in 1995. Doan had been an unrestricted free agent after the Coyotes informed him on June 19 that they would not be re-signing him to focus on younger players. He made his announcement in a first-person letter to fans published in the Arizona Republic. Doan is the team’s career leader in games played (1,540), shots (3,945), goals (402), assists (570), points (972), power-play goals (128) and game-winning goals (69). He is tied for 14th for most games played in NHL history.
[B][I]NHL Note – Pittsburgh Penguins Archibald, Josh
September 1, 2017
F Josh Archibald cherished his day with the Stanley Cup, although it’s highly unlikely his three-week-old child will retain the memory. Archibald, 24, and his wife had Brecken baptized in the Stanley Cup during a ceremony held in Brainerd, Minn. While babies have “celebrated” with the Stanley Cup over recent years, Archibald’s baptism is believed to be the first such event since 2008. At that time, Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrong arranged for his seven-week-old niece to be baptized after the Red Wings defeated Pittsburgh in the final.
[B][I]Blue Jackets lock up top-line center Wennberg for 6 years
September 1, 2017[/I][/B]
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed free-agent center Alexander Wennberg to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.
The Blue Jackets announced the deal Friday, locking up their top-line center through the 2022-23 season, with a cap hit of $4.9 million a year. The 22-year-old Swede was a key part of a young team that set franchise records for wins and points and advanced to the playoffs last year.
Wennberg posted NHL career highs in 2016-17 with 13 goals and 46 assists for 59 points and a plus-9 plus/minus rating in 80 regular- season games. In his third year in the league, he led Columbus in assists and finished second in points to Cam Atkinson.
[B][I]Canucks sign Thomas Vanek to 1-year deal, $2 million deal
September 1, 2017[/I][/B]
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Thomas Vanek and the Vancouver Canucks agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal Friday.
The 33-year-old forward had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games last season with Florida and Detroit.
”Thomas has been a prolific scorer throughout his career and we’re excited to add his offence and experience to help with the continued growth of our forwards,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. ”His skill and ability to contribute on the scoresheet, combined with his lead-by-example style will help our team this year, and will benefit our younger players as they continue to develop their game.”
The former University of Minnesota star from Austria has 333 goals and 364 assists in 885 regular-season games with Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Montreal, Minnesota, Detroit and Florida.
[B][I]NHL Note – Arizona Coyotes Duclair, Anthony
September 4, 2017[/I][/B]
F Anthony Duclair signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it was reported to be a one-year, $1.2 million deal. “We are very pleased to sign Anthony to a new contract,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “Anthony is a highly skilled forward with great speed and scoring ability. We are confident that he can be an impact player for our team and look forward to having him in our lineup this season.”
[B][I]Canucks: We’re not trading Sedins
September 5, 2017[/I][/B]
Henrik and Daniel Sedin will not be asked to waive their no-trade clause this season, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said.
Both Swedes, who will turn 37 on Sept. 26, are entering the final season of their respective four-year, $28 million contracts.
“We’re not moving the Sedins unless they come to me at some point and they say, ‘Well, we want to move on,'” Benning told Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver. “When we’ve talked to them, we’re not going to go to them and ask them to waive their no-trade. We’re not going to approach them for them to move on to another team.”
Daniel and Henrik were selected with the respective second and third overall picks of the 1999 NHL draft. Henrik, the team’s captain, tops the franchise in points (1,020), assists (783) and games played (1,248) while Daniel is first in goals (370) while his assists (616), points (986) and games plaed (1,225) rank second.
Last season was not a particularly productive one for the Sedins, as Henrik recorded just 50 points (15, goals, 35 assists) in 82 games while Daniel mustered just 44 (15 goals, 29 assists).
[B][I]Red Wings sign D Russo to two-year contract
September 6, 2017[/I][/B]
The Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms with defenseman Robbie Russo on a two-year contract Wednesday.
The deal reportedly will pay Russo a salary of $650,000 when playing for the Red Wings, and $125,000 this season and $250,000 next season at the American Hockey League level.
Russo, 24, appeared in 19 games for the Red Wings at the end of the 2016-17 season, making his NHL debut on March 7, averaging 16:04 time on ice and recording two penalty minutes, 18 shots on goal, 24 hits and 13 blocked shots.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Russo played in 58 games with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins in 2016-17, picking up 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists) and 37 penalty minutes in 58 games and earning a spot at the AHL All-Star Classic.
Russo also skated in 19 postseason games with Grand Rapids, registering seven assists and 22 penalty minutes to help the Griffins to their second Calder Cup championship in five seasons.
Russo owns 71 points (12 goals, 59 assists) and 79 penalty minutes in 129 regular-season games for Grand Rapids and 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 28 AHL playoff contests.
Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL draft, Russo joined the Red Wings as a free agent on Aug. 16, 2015. The Westmont, Ill., native spent four seasons at the University of Notre Dame prior to signing with Detroit.
[B][I]Senators’ Karlsson has no timeline to return after surgery
September 6, 2017[/I][/B]
NEW YORK (AP) Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson has no timetable to get back on the ice following offseason foot surgery.
Karlsson, the runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, said Wednesday he hasn’t been able to do anything for three months since the operation in June to repair torn tendons in his left foot. The 27-year-old played with foot fractures and torn tendons during the playoffs as the Senators reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
”It’s going to be a while,” Karlsson said in an interview with The Associated Press at the annual NHL/NHLPA media tour. ”We’ll see when I can start skating again. We don’t have a timeline for that, either. I think once I do that, we will know a little bit more clearly when I’ll be able to play again.”
At the time of the surgery, Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion forecast a four-month recovery that would allow Karlsson to start the regular season. With the Senators opening Oct. 5 against Washington, that’s now in doubt.
Karlsson, who came back from a torn Achilles tendon in 2013, hopes taking it slow ensures this won’t be a long-term problem. The smooth-skating Swede who was third among defensemen with 71 points last season was glad the injury came at a time that allowed him to focus on his wedding and isn’t worried about having no target return date.
”It’s actually been pretty nice,” Karlsson said. ”Sometimes you put timelines and you expect certain things and with injuries you’re always going to have things that are not going to go the way that you want. And I think with this we’ve been really good in taking our time and making sure that this is not something that’s going to affect me down the road.”
Despite playing with so many foot problems, Karlsson led all defenseman with 18 points in the playoffs. Ottawa lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime, and Karlsson earned a lot of respect around the league by playing and performing well while injured.
”You can’t help but respect a player like that that plays in a ton of situations and just seems to be so effective and make it look it easy at times even when it was known that he was injured and he was playing through it,” said Ryan McDonagh, whose New York Rangers lost to the Senators in the second round. ”I’ve played through injuries similar to my foot, too, in past playoffs. It was pretty incredible to see the things he was able to do.”
[B][I]Parros to head NHL’s Player Safety
September 7, 2017[/I][/B]
Former enforcer George Parros was named as the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety, the league announced Thursday.
Parros will take the place of Stephane Quintal, who is stepping down to pursue other opportunities within the game. Quintal, however, has agreed to remain with the department through the end of the 2017-18 season to assist in the transition.
“George possesses one of the brightest and most innovative young minds in our game,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “He has immersed himself in all aspects of player safety during the last 12 months and his selection to run this department not only will maintain the stability and consistency in decision-making that have been essential to the department’s success but also will enable it to continue evolving in step with our game.
“We thank Stephane for the passion and dedication he brought to the National Hockey League from the day he first joined us soon after the Department of Player Safety’s inception in 2011 and since taking over as the head of the department three years ago. We expect Stephane will play a valuable role in the transition process and we intend this season to utilize his many talents and relationships in the game to further other league initiatives outside of player safety as well.”
The 37-year-old Parros, who served as director of the department under Quintal, racked up 1,092 penalty minutes – including 150 fighting majors – in his nine-year NHL career.
Parros won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, finishing with 36 points before retiring from the NHL in 2014.
[B][I]Ryan Ellis out 6 months after surgery
September 7, 2017[/I][/B]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis will need a full six months to recover from offseason knee surgery, and general manager David Poile says they don’t expect him back until possibly 2018.
Poile gave an update on injuries Thursday to Ellis and new center Nick Bonino after a rookies’ practice. Both were hurt during the Stanley Cup Final that Nashville lost in six games to Pittsburgh , and Bonino was playing for the Penguins.
”The discussion with our doctors at this time, they would like to take it a little bit slower with his recovery,” Poile said of Ellis.
The original timetable called for a recovery of four to six months. Poile said the Predators and doctors feel Ellis will need the full six months to recover.
”Ryan is not skating yet, probably will be skating in approximately another three weeks and the recovery will go from there,” Poile said. ”We don’t expect him back until at the end of the year, maybe the New Year, maybe right around Christmas time.”
Ellis scored 38 points in 71 games last season, but he was even better during the playoffs. Ellis tied Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen for third among the Predators with 13 points. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Ellis paired with Mattias Ekholm to help anchor the Nashville defense along with All-Star P.K. Subban and Romani Josi.
The defenseman even played despite being hurt in the decisive Game 6 before having surgery. His recovery is why the Predators traded with the Vegas Golden Knights to acquire defenseman Alexei Emelin.
”Obviously we had a little bit of a heads up and that is really one of the reasons why we got Emelin from Las Vegas to add to not only our depth but the quality of our defense,” Poile said.
The general manager says Bonino, who broke a foot in the final, will not be playing in any preseason games. The Predators signed Bonino away from Pittsburgh with a four-year, $16.4 million deal in July as protection when captain Mike Fisher later announced his retirement.
”We are very hopeful that he will be ready at or near the beginning of the season,” Poile said.
[B][I]Crosby hangs with rookies as Pens prep
September 7, 2017[/I][/B]
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) Sidney Crosby likes his summers short. Really short. Short summers for Crosby means long playoff runs for the Pittsburgh Penguins, ones that usually end with parades through the city in mid-June, the Penguins captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.
There is no other feeling like it. So the question isn’t why would Crosby want to cut the celebration short, but why would he want to put off starting the process all over again?
So just 88 days after Pittsburgh closed out Nashville in six games to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, Crosby found himself out on the ice with assorted prospects, many of whom have little chance of making it to the NHL this season.
That didn’t stop Crosby and his familiar No. 87 jersey serving as perhaps the most decorated ”welcome wagon” in professional sports. For the better part of an hour the face of the game skated with the newcomers. Later in the afternoon the more established players went through a workout of their own, well aware of the message Crosby’s appearance in the building earlier in the day sent.
”I think that’s where it starts with this team,” said forward Carl Hagelin after a voluntary workout. ”Any new guy that comes up or any new guy that gets traded here, they get treated extremely well by Sid first of all and then the organization. You kind of follow his lead. There’s a good culture within this locker room and within this organization. When you get here, you’ve got to follow or you’re going to get left behind.”
Crosby makes it a point to be the first one to extend a hand, even though it can make for occasionally awkward moments, particularly for players like forward Ryan Reaves. The Penguins acquired Reaves from St. Louis over the summer looking to give their lineup a physical presence. The issue, of course, is that part of Reaves’ responsibilities during his time in St. Louis was making Crosby as uncomfortable as possible whenever the two teams met.
”I would say me and Sid’s relationship before this was rocky,” Reaves said with a laugh. ”But I don’t know many people that like me on the ice though. But we’ve hung out a couple times. Really nice guy for sure.”
Reaves joined some of his new teammates in a fantasy football draft over the weekend. Reaves believes he has an eye for talent. He also has an eye for leadership. He wasn’t exactly surprised when he arrived at the rink and Crosby was already out there working with kids who may never actually play alongside him.
”That’s why he’s the best in the world,” Reaves said. ”He does things like that and he makes the younger guys better and he pushes everybody to be the best. He’s the best in the world for a reason.”
One intent on guiding the Penguins to a third consecutive Cup, something that hasn’t been done since the New York Islanders ripped off four straight in the early 1980s, long before the salary cap came around, a move designed to level the playing field both financially and competitively. It didn’t look like that last spring as the Penguins raced by Columbus, outlasted Washington and Ottawa then pulled away from the upstart Predators in the final.
”Last year everyone said it was impossible to do, winning two in a row,” said Hagelin, whose empty-net goal in the final seconds of Game 6 quieted the ”Smashville” crowd and clinched Pittsburgh’s fifth Cup. ”Everyone is going to come after you. Now we’re used to that and we’re expecting the same thing this year. There’s going to be no surprises this year obviously.”
Doing it means enduring training camp, a six-month regular season followed by eight more weeks in the crucible of playoff hockey. The Penguins were supposed to be too tired from the Cup run in 2016 to do it again. And yet they did. As the official opening of camp looms, the lure of history is giving even established players like Hagelin a dose of adrenaline.
”Usually this time of year, you have such a short summer, maybe you’re kind of dreading it a little bit,” Hagelin said.
Not Hagelin. He missed a chunk of the regular season and the playoffs with injuries but returned in time to make an impact in the final, his legs a blur as he sped away from the Predators to flip in the goal that secured his name on the Cup for a second time.
”Focusing on coming out and getting a good start, that’s usually the tough part, to have every guy on the same page in the beginning of the year to really dig down and make sure you win those games,” he said. ”That’s our goal. After that we just keep playing and keep getting better, that’s the type of team we’re trying to be.”
[B][I]Sharks begin 1st camp without Marleau
September 15, 2017
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.
For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise’s career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.
”I’ve spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange,” said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. ”It’s his birthday today too. It’s a little weird, but he’s going to do great up in Toronto.”
Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.
Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.
Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau’s 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven’t played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.
”Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group,” captain Joe Pavelski said. ”Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He’ll be missed. … Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That’s what we’ll need.”
The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau’s 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O’Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.
Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.
”When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”I think if we can stay healthy I think we’ve got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them.”
While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.
He scored just seven goals – his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 – and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose’s top line.
Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.
”They feel real strong,” he said of his legs. ”I feel a lot of pop out there. They’re probably as strong as they’ve ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much.”
[B][I]Rangers set to begin camp practices
September 15, 2017
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) The New York Rangers are set to start training camp practices this weekend having undergone some changes since a second-round playoff exit just over four months ago.
After another disappointment for a team perennially expected to compete for a Stanley Cup – which it has won once in the last 77 years – the defense was shored up with the signing of top free agent Kevin Shattenkirk and the infusion of some younger players. However, there are questions in the middle and behind Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
The Rangers knew they had to make some changes to their core group that reached three conference finals in four years, including a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, before a first-round exit to eventual champion Pittsburgh in 2016 and then Ottawa last season.
Veteran Dan Girardi, 33, was bought out and 32-year-old Kevin Klein retired. Shattenkirk, 28, was signed to a four-year, $26.6 million deal, and Tony DeAngelo, 21, was acquired as part of the trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona.
”We wanted to go out and change our defense and give it a different look and get a little more puck movement,” Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said Friday at the team’s practice facility.
The offensive-minded Shattenkirk has had at least 30 assists and 40 points in six of his first seven seasons – with the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign the exception – and should help a power play that ranked 10th in the NHL last season at 20.2 percent.
”He has been one of the best power-play guys in the league for quite some time,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said when he addressed media the previous day. ”(He) is going to help our whole group. It’s a new season, we need to figure out who fits where and who does what.”
Brendon Smith, acquired at the trade deadline, was re-signed and Vigneault said he expected Brady Skjei to build on his stellar rookie season in which he had five goals and 34 assists.
Shattenkirk won’t be paired with captain Ryan McDonagh on the team’s top defensive pairing at the start of training camp so Vigneault can get a look at other guys and combinations, but the coach said that could change as the start of the season gets closer.
Players had their physicals on Thursday and on-ice tests Friday. The first day of practice is Saturday.
[B]Other things to know as the Rangers open camp:
MILLER TO THE MIDDLE[/B]: Stepan’s departure will likely result in Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad moving up to center the top two lines, and J.T. Miller will also play in the middle to start camp. Miller was drafted as a center and played there in the minors, but has been mostly on the wing in the NHL. After playing center in stretches the last two seasons, he expected the possibility of the move.
”I kind of had an idea this summer with what happened with some of our players,” Miller said. ”It’s a responsibility I’m willing to take on. I think they know that. I’ve proved I can play there before so they’re just going to feel it out and see how it goes, see where it fits.”
Asked if the team was still exploring trade options at center, Gorton said: ”It’s fair to say we’re always looking, but were comfortable with J.T. … He hasn’t played a lot of center at the NHL level, (but) we know in the past in his career he’s been able to do it so preseason we’ll take a look at him there.”
[B]NO LIMIT ON HENRIK:[/B] Lundqvist is coming off a 31-20-4 season in which he had career worsts with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Raanta was a solid backup the last two seasons but he’s now in Arizona, Ondrej Pavelec was signed to fill the role. Pavelec has struggled the last few seasons and had a 3.55 goals-against average last season with a .888 save percentage in eight NHL games
Vigneault said he doesn’t have a specific number of games in mind for the 35-year-old Lundqvist, who helped Sweden win the world championships in May.
”I always like that mindset, not to focus on one number,” Lundqvist said. ”That’s the approach I like. Feel it out, it’s a long season. You got to go with the flow a little bit. … It’s hard to know in November what’s best for you come April.”
FIGHTING FOR JOBS:[/B] One day after Vigneault said Marc Staal was one of the players who would be ”fighting for ice time, fighting for a spot on the team,” the veteran defenseman wasn’t bothered by the coach’s assessment.
”This is my 11th season, I’m not naive,” Staal said. ”I don’t take anything for granted. I come to camp with that mindset every year – you have to earn your minutes. … I’ve been a Ranger a long time and I plan on being here for a lot more years.”
[B][I]Sabres C Eichel has plenty to prove
September 18, 2017[/I][/B]
Sabres center Jack Eichel isn’t mincing words when assessing his first two NHL seasons.
”Actually, I think I’ve proven nothing,” the 20-year-old face of the franchise said before bluntly outlining his lack of accomplishments.
”If you look at what I’ve done, it hasn’t been a whole lot,” Eichel said. ”Two mediocre seasons on a losing team.”
The player selected No. 2 in the 2015 draft behind Connor McDavid might be overstating his case given he produced at nearly a point-a-game pace last year despite missing 21 games with a sprained left ankle. And yet, the comments reflect Eichel’s level of motivation to establish himself as one of the league’s top young players.
The competitor in Eichel was miffed watching rookie Auston Matthews help the cross-border rival Toronto Maple Leafs vault ahead of Buffalo in the standings and clinch a playoff berth.
Then there’s Eichel’s contract status , entering the final year of his rookie deal. While he and the Sabres are still negotiating an extension, McDavid’s was completed in July, when he signed an eight-year, $100 contract.
An eight-year contract is on the table for Eichel, though the two sides are divided on a dollar amount. That makes Eichel an intriguing player to follow, given his production will help determine his value.
”I look at myself to be one of the leaders on this team,” Eichel said. ”I think if I do that, guys will follow and we’ll be successful.”
A number of other players to watch in 2017-18:[/I][/B]
[B]Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights.
The three-time Stanley Cup-winner has departed the Penguins to become the face of Golden Knights after being selected in the NHL expansion draft in June.
The 32-year-old Fleury became expendable in Pittsburgh following the emergence of Matt Murray. Fleury will be the last line of defense on a patchwork Golden Knights team that includes forwards James Neal and Vadim Shipachyov, who made the jump from playing in Russia, and defenseman Shea Theodore.
Selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, Fleury has a 375-216-68 record, putting him 25 wins short of becoming just the 13th player to reach 400.
[B]Forward Patrick Marleau, Toronto Maple Leafs.[/B]
The 38-year-old Marleau left behind Joe Thornton and 19 seasons in San Jose to join the youth-laden, Mike Babcock-coached Leafs, who reached the playoffs for just the second time in 12 seasons last year.
Marleau’s experience and leadership are valuable to a team that had seven rookies play at least 50 games last season, including Matthews, the NHL’s rookie of the year. Marleau can still score after finishing with 27 goals and 19 assists last season – the 14th time he’s topped 20 goals.
[B]Forward Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens.[/B]
The Habs need offense, and they’re counting on the 22-year-old French-Canadian for help after acquiring Drouin in a trade with Tampa Bay. The third player selected in the 2013 draft, Drouin has 29 goals and 66 assists for 95 points in 164 career games with the Lightning.
Drouin’s career-best 21 goals and 53 points last season both would have ranked third on the Canadiens.
[B]Center Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils.
The No. 1 draft pick will be given every opportunity to make the young and rebuilding Devils, who also acquired forward Marcus Johansson in a trade with Washington. The Swiss-born Hischier is a play-making center who was the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s rookie of the year last season.
The Devils took somewhat of a gamble in selecting Hischier ahead of NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked prospect Nolan Patrick, who was drafted second by Philadelphia.
[B]Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, New York Rangers.[/B]
The top prize in free agency went to the Blueshirts in adding an established seven-year veteran to a revamped blue-line already featuring 28-year-old captain Sean McDonagh and 30-year-old Marc Staal. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 35.
Shattenkirk had a career-best 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) split between St. Louis and Washington last year. He struggled in both ends during the playoffs, in which Washington was eliminated by Pittsburgh in the second round.
Goalie Scott Darling, Carolina Hurricanes.[/B]
If the Hurricanes are going to deliver on being pegged the preseason chic pick surprise playoff contenders, the 6-foot-6 Darling might have to play a key role. Carolina acquired the former Blackhawks backup in a trade in April, putting him in a position to usurp long-time starter Cam Ward for the No. 1 job.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos returns after tearing a ligament in his right knee in November. … The John Tavares contract watch is on, with the New York Islanders captain entering the final year of his six-year deal. … Forward Artemi Panarin, the NHL’s 2015 rookie of the year, is now in Columbus after being traded by the Blackhawks. … Brandon Saad, acquired in the Panarin trade, and free-agent addition Patrick Sharp are both back in Chicago after a first-round playoff sweep against Nashville led to the Blackhawks shuffling their roster. … The Dallas Stars hope to have rectified their goaltending issues with the addition of Ben Bishop in a trade with Los Angeles. … Will someone finally call 45-year-old free agent forward Jaromir Jagr ?
[B][I]Vegas routs Canucks in 1st preseason game
September 17, 2017[/I][/B]
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) By the time the Elvis Presley impersonator singing tunes between whistles had left the building, the NHL’s newest franchise was already well on its way to victory in its first exhibition game.
Tyler Wong scored three times and added an assist to help the expansion Vegas Golden Knights rout the Vancouver Canucks 9-4 on Sunday. Wong scored the first exhibition goal in club history.
”It’s a huge honor,” Wong said. ”The city’s very excited to get a team. To be a part of excitement like that is something special. It’s a pretty cool moment for all of us.”
The Golden Knights dressed a roster of mostly prospects and fringe NHLers, leaving behind the likes of forwards James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron and Cody Eakin, defensemen Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
In the spirit of Vegas’ debut, the Elvis impersonator sang classics like ”Viva Las Vegas” and ”Burning Love” during some of the TV timeouts at Rogers Arena for some added Sin City flair to what was, for the most part, a sloppy game.
”It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity being able to be part of an expansion team,” said Golden Knights forward Cody Glass, the sixth pick in the draft this summer. ”I’m just trying to take it all in.”
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant was happy with the way his youngsters performed, but like his players, also took the opportunity to soak in the moment.
”We had two rookie games last week, but this is the first real NHL game,” Gallant said. ”The first time stepping on the ice was real good and you do feel good about it.”
Tomas Hyka scored twice, Tomas Nosek had a goal and two assists, and Nick Suzuki added a goal and an assist. Paul Thompson and Alex Tuch also scored, Brad Hunt chipped in with three assists, and Glass had two assists.
Wearing their road white uniforms with grey, gold and red trim, along with black pants and white and gold gloves, the Golden Knights survived a 5-on-3 power play for 1:44 early in the first period before Wong opened the scoring. The winger collected a chipped feed from Glass on a power play, cut down the right and beat goalie Richard Bachman with a short-side backhander at 4:58.
”The puck was finding me in good spots,” said Wong, who had 43 goals and 46 assists in 72 games last season in junior with the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season and signed as an undrafted free agent. ”I was able to bury them.”
Brock Boeser scored twice and had an assist for Vancouver. Philip Holm and Jordan Subban also scored.
Almost all of the Canucks’ veterans were on a charter plane on their way to China for games against the Los Angeles Kings in Beijing and Shanghai. Trent Cull, the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica, New York, was behind the bench, with Travis Green and his assistants on their way to China.
The Golden Knights will play three more times on the road before their first preseason home game Sept. 26 against Los Angeles.
”I hope (Vegas fans) don’t expect that every night,” Gallant said. ”It’s a lot of fun in our market and I am sure they are going to enjoy that, but it’s an exhibition game.”
[B][I]NHL notebook: Devils’ Boyle has leukemia
September 19, 2017[/I][/B]
[B]New Jersey Devils [/B]forward Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, the team announced Tuesday.
The type of leukemia Boyle was diagnosed with forms in bone marrow. Team doctor Michael Farber said it was discovered early and is treatable.
The 32-year-old Boyle doesn’t plan on being sidelined long, though the team doesn’t yet have a formal timetable for his return.
Boyle signed a two-year, $5.1 million deal in the offseason with the Devils. He knows the season opens on Oct. 7 and is keeping that date in mind in case his treatments go well.
Boyle recorded 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) last season while splitting time with Tampa Bay and Toronto.
–The St. Louis Blues[/B] already are dealing with two significant injuries in training camp.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will be re-evaluated in three weeks after sustaining a fractured left ankle. The team also announced that forward Zach Sanford is expected to be sidelined five-to-six months after undergoing surgery for a dislocated left shoulder.
Bouwmeester, 33, recorded one goal and 14 assists in 81 games last season. Sanford, 22, collected two goals and three assists in 13 games after being acquired in a Feb. 27 trade with the Washington Capitals for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
[B]–Ottawa Senators[/B] forward Colin White sustained a broken left wrist and will be sidelined six to eight weeks, the team announced.
White was injured while blocking a shot in the third period of Ottawa’s preseason victory against the provincial-rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The 20-year-old Boston native already underwent surgery.
White, who was selected by Ottawa with the 21st overall pick of the 2015 draft, joined the Senators in April after finishing his season at Boston College. He did not record a point in two regular-season games and one playoff contest with Ottawa last season.
[B]–Nashville Predators[/B] defenseman Roman Josi was named as the eighth captain in franchise history, the team announced.
Josi, who was an alternate captain last season, will wear the “C” on his jersey after Mike Fisher announced his retirement on Aug. 3. Fisher was named Nashville’s captain after defenseman Shea Weber was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in June 2016.
Josi recorded 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) and netted a career-high seven power-play goals last season.
[B][I]NHL notebook: Kings-Canucks play first exhibition game in China
September 21, 2017[/I][/B]
Tanner Pearson scored two goals in an exhibition game, which would typically be no gigantic feat. But it felt like more of an accomplishment to the Los Angeles left wing with Thursday’s contest being the first NHL game played in China.
Standout goalie Jonathan Quick made 31 saves and the Kings posted a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks before 10,088 fans in Shanghai.
The atmosphere certainly wasn’t a problem as Chinese fans were enthralled by the action. One of the biggest cheers inside Mercedes-Benz Arena came when NBA icon Kobe Bryant appeared on video to pass on a message to the Kings.
The Kings and Canucks play again on Saturday in Beijing, host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
–Montreal Canadiens [/B]prospect Noah Juulsen will be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured foot.
Juulsen, a defenseman, sustained the injury during Monday’s preseason game against the Boston Bruins in Quebec City. The 20-year-old did not practice on Tuesday due to what the team called a bruised foot.
–Boston Bruins[/B] defenseman Torey Krug will miss the remainder of training camp with a broken jaw.
Krug sustained the non-displaced fracture after he was hit in the face with a puck during Tuesday’s preseason victory against the Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins said Krug will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
–The St. Louis Blues named Hall of Famer and nine-time Stanley Cup champion Larry Robinson as their senior consultant to hockey operations.
Robinson is a former NHL defenseman, coach and executive. The 66-year-old most recently served as an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks from 2012-15.
[B]–Forward Joffrey Lupul[/B] apologized over social media for writing in an Instagram comment that the Toronto Maple Leafs “cheat” after he failed a physical for the team on the first day of training camp.
“I responded earlier this week to some negative comments on Instagram. It was an inappropriate response, and I deleted it, but I take full responsibility,” Lupul posted.
Lupul posted a photo on Instagram Sunday of himself snowboarding with the comments, “Haha failed physical? They cheat, everyone lets them,” and “I’m ready. Just awaiting the call.”
Lupul is under contract through the end of this season but hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season because of numerous injuries.
[B][I]Penguins accept White House invitation
September 24, 2017[/I][/B]
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) Sidney Crosby is backing the Pittsburgh Penguins’ decision to accept a White House invitation from President Donald Trump.
The reigning two-time Stanley Cup champions announced their decision Sunday morning.
”I support it,” Crosby said after the Penguins’ 4-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues during the annual Hockeyville USA exhibition game Sunday night. ”It’s a great honor for us to be invited there.”
The Penguins’ decision came on a day that President Trump’s criticisms of players who kneel during the national anthem sparked a mass increase in such protests around the National Football League. President Trump also rebuked NBA star Steph Curry this weekend for saying he wouldn’t attend a White House visit with the league champion Golden State Warriors before rescinding the team’s invitation.
The Penguins said they respect the office of the president and ”the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House.” The team also attended White House ceremonies following Stanley Cup championships in 2009 and ’16, touring the building a visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama.
”I think we all really enjoyed it last year, being able to see something that not everyone gets to see, and to be able to experience the White House,” forward Bryan Rust said. ”I think for us, as an organization, we relish the opportunity, and it’s something we get to do because we are champions, and we’re going to make the most of it.”
About 200 NFL players sat, knelt or raised fists in defiance on Sunday. A week earlier, just six players protested. Most NFL players locked arms with their teammates – some standing and others kneeling – in show of solidarity. A handful of teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed off the field until after ”The Star Spangled Banner” to avoid the issue all together.
There were no such protests during the exhibition hockey game between the Penguins and Blues.
The Penguins said the organization respects the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit, but added that any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways.
”Everyone’s got the right to go or not to go,” Crosby said. ”But we’ve been invited and we accepted the invitation. I don’t think you have to read into it any more than that.”