Now that the Stanley Cup Champion has been crowned, there are 29 other NHL clubs who are looking to re-tool in an attempt to become the next Chicago Blackhawks. Many say that this free agent pool is weak this year, but are there some surprises to be had in this years free agent pickings?
Here are a look at five NHL free agents that NHL teams should consider (providing they can afford to sign them):
Here are a look at five NHL restricted free agents that NHL teams should consider pursuing (providing they can afford to sign them or serve up an offer sheet):
With that here is a look at this year’s unrestricted free agents. See you on July 1 hockey fans.
|St Louis, Martin||NYR||RW||UFA||5,000,000|
|Hillen III, Jack||CAR||D||UFA||700,000|
|Fraser, Colin X||STL||C||UFA||650,000|
|Vande Velde, Chris||PHI||C||UFA||575,000|
|St Denis, Frederic||CLB||D||UFA||550,000|
|Van Der Gulik, David||LA||RW||UFA||550,000|
Well it’s late June and another NHL hockey season has come and gone. Earlier this week, the Chicago Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup Championship in the past six years earning them the modern-day dynasty franchise title. A big congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks who defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. In our Stanley Cup predictions for this year we actually had picked the Blackhawks to win the Cup, however we had them win over the New York Rangers rather than the Lightning whom we had the Rangers dispose of in the Easter Conference final.
Here is look at some of the reasons why the Blackhawks again were able to capture the Stanley Cup in 2015.
Well done Chicago. As a fan of the Edmonton Oilers I hope that one day we can experience the tremendous success that your franchise has had in recent years. I like the fact that you are a modern day hockey dynasty. Parity in the NHL for this hockey fan is not something I prefer.
The 2015 NHL Draft will take place in Sunrise, Florida in three weeks, where the Edmonton Oilers are expected to select Connor McDavid with their first overall pick. The Hockey Fanatic has prepared a list of our predictions for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Here is a look at our predictions for the first round (top 30) NHL picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
|Connor McDavid||Erie (OHL)||C||47||44||120|
|Jack Eichel||Boston U (NCAA)||C||41||26||71|
|Dylan Strome||Erie (OHL)||C||68||45||129|
|Mitch Marner||London (OHL)||RW||63||44||126|
|Noah Hanifin||Boston C (NCAA)||D||37||5||23|
|Lawson Crouse||Kingston (OHL)||LW||56||29||51|
|Pavel Zacha||Sarnia (OHL)||C||37||16||34|
|Ivan Provorov||Brandon (WHL)||D||60||15||61|
|Mathew Barzal||Seattle (WHL)||C||44||12||57|
|Timo Meier||Halifax (QMJHL)||RW||61||44||90|
|Zach Werenski||Michigan (NCAA)||D||35||9||25|
|Mikko Rantanen||TPS (SM Liiga)||RW||56||9||8|
|Kyle Connor||Youngstown (USHL)||LW/C||56||34||80|
|Jakub Zboril||Saint John (QMJHL)||D||44||13||33|
|Travis Konecny||Ottawa (OHL)||RW||60||29||68|
|Colin White||USA NTDP (USHL)||C||54||23||54|
|Nick Merkley||Kelowna (WHL)||C/RW||72||20||90|
|Evgeni Svechnikov||C. Breton (QMJHL)||RW||55||32||78|
|Jake Debrusk||Swift Current (WHL)||LW||72||42||81|
|Paul Bittner||Portland (WHL)||LW||66||34||71|
|Brock Boeser||Waterloo (USHL)||RW||57||35||68|
|Brandon Carlo||Tri-City (WHL)||D||63||4||25|
|Daniel Sprong||Charlottetown (QMJHL)||RW||68||39||88|
|Thomas Chabot||Saint John (QMJHL)||D||66||12||41|
|Denis Gurianov||Togilatti 2 (MHL)||RW||23||15||25|
|Ilya Samsonov||Magnitorgorsk (MHL)||G||18||2.66||2|
|Jérémy Roy||Sherbrooke (QMJHL)||D||46||5||43|
|Anthony Beauvillier||Shawinigan (QMJHL)||C/LW||67||42||94|
|Jansen Harkins||Prince George (WHL)||C||70||20||79|
|Noah Juulsen||Everett (WHL)||D||68||15||56|
The Western Hockey League Playoffs have been very exciting this year. There were a number of exceptional teams vying for WHL supremacy with teams like the Brandon Wheat Kings, Calagry Hitmen, Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winterhawks again having strong seasons. However it was the Kelowna Rockets claiming the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Wednesday night to become the 49th WHL Champions after earning a 3-0 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Rockets swept the Wheaties in four straight games. The win marks the fourth time in franchise history that Kelowna has won the WHL Championship Series with the most recent being 2009 (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015).
The Brandon Wheat Kings should hold their heads up high as they had a tremendous season. The loss ended a remarkable campaign for the Wheat Kings, who led all teams in the WHL with 114 points — two more than the Rockets — in the 2014-2015 regular season. The Wheat Kings have a lot of talented players returning next season, so they might be next year’s Kelowna Rockets. Post series report on Brandon can be found here at the Brandon Sun.
Rockets centerman Leon Draisaitl was named WHL Playoff Most Valuable Player. Draisaitl, an Edmonton Oilers prospect, was named the 2015 WHL Playoffs MVP after he finished tied for the post-season scoring lead with 28 points (10g-18a) in 19 WHL Playoff games. Combining the regular season where Drat put up 19 goals and 53 points in just 32 regular season games, he finished with 81 points in 51 games as a Kelowna Rocket. As an Edmonton Oilers fan, this is pretty exciting. Full disclosure, as I have season tickets to the Rockets games here in Kelowna and watched Leon Draisaitl on many nights. This kid is the real deal and has potential to be one the the greatest German born players in the NHL. He makes passes like nobody’s business. Dare I say some of them are very Gretzky-like? Unreal ability to see the ice this kid has. He is great on taking draws in faceoffs and is a big player. Although it was a nice team effort throughout the playoffs, much credit deserves to go to young Draisaitl. A great move by GM Bruce Hamilton to acquire him from the Prince Albert Raiders in January after Draisaitl spent the first half of the season in Edmonton with the Oilers. I love the energy of this kid. He’s going to be a great player and should have a great Memorial Cup.
Kelowna will head to Quebec City next week for the start of the Memorial Cup May 22nd to 31st. The Rockets will face the host Quebec on opening night, Friday May 22. Thy take on the Quebec league champion Monday the 25th and the Ontario champ Tuesday May 26th. Our prediction? With all due respect to the Quebec Ramparts, Rimouski Oceanic, Oshawa Generals and Erie Otters we feel that the WHL Champs will take home the Memorial Cup this year.
Here is a list of past Memorial Cup Winners
|1965||Niagara Falls Flyers||4–1||Edmonton Oil Kings|
|1966||Edmonton Oil Kings||4–2||Oshawa Generals|
|1967||Toronto Marlboros||4–1||Port Arthur Marrs|
|1968||Niagara Falls Flyers||4–1||Estevan Bruins|
|1969||Montreal Junior Canadiens||4–0||Regina Pats|
|1970||Montreal Junior Canadiens||4–0||Weyburn Red Wings|
|1971||Quebec Remparts||2–0||Edmonton Oil Kings|
|1972||Cornwall Royals (QMJHL)||2–1||Peterborough Petes (OHA)||Edmonton Oil Kings (WCHL)|
|1973||Toronto Marlboros (OHA)||9–1||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)||Medicine Hat Tigers (WCHL)|
|1974||Regina Pats (WCHL)||7–4||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)||St. Catharines Black Hawks (OHA)|
|1975||Toronto Marlboros (OHA)||7–3||New Westminster Bruins (WCHL)||Sherbrooke Castors (QMJHL)|
|1976||Hamilton Fincups (OHA)||5–2||New Westminster Bruins (WCHL)||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)|
|1977||New Westminster Bruins (WCHL)||6–5||Ottawa 67’s (OHA)||Sherbrooke Castors (QMJHL)|
|1978||New Westminster Bruins (WHL)||7–4||Peterborough Petes (OHA)||Trois-Rivières Draveurs (QMJHL)|
|1979||Peterborough Petes (OHA)||2–1 (OT)||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)||Trois-Rivières Draveurs (QMJHL)|
|1980||Cornwall Royals (QMJHL)||3–2 (OT)||Peterborough Petes (OHA)||Regina Pats (WHL)|
|1981||Cornwall Royals (QMJHL)||5–2||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||Victoria Cougars (WHL)|
|1982||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||7–4||Sherbrooke Castors (QMJHL)||Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)|
|1983||Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)||8–3||Oshawa Generals (OHL)||Lethbridge Broncos (WHL), Verdun Juniors (QMJHL)|
|1984||Ottawa 67’s (OHL)||7–2||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||Laval Voisins (QMJHL), Kamloops Jr. Oilers (WHL)|
|1985||Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)||6–1||Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL), Verdun Junior Canadiens (QMJHL)|
|1986||Guelph Platers (OHL)||6–2||Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)||Kamloops Blazers (WHL), Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)|
|1987||Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)||6–2||Oshawa Generals (OHL)||Longueuil Chevaliers (QMJHL)|
|1988||Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)||7–6||Windsor Spitfires (OHL)||Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL), Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)|
|1989||Swift Current Broncos (WHL)||4–3 (OT)||Saskatoon Blades (WHL)||Laval Titan (QMJHL), Peterborough Petes (OHL)|
|1990||Oshawa Generals (OHL)||4–3 (OT)||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||Laval Titan (QMJHL), Kamloops Blazers (WHL)|
|1991||Spokane Chiefs (WHL)||5–1||Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)||Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL), Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)|
|1992||Kamloops Blazers (WHL)||5–4||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)||Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL), Verdun Collège Français (QMJHL)|
|1993||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)[e]||4–2||Peterborough Petes (OHL)||Laval Titan (QMJHL), Swift Current Broncos (WHL)|
|1994||Kamloops Blazers (WHL)||5–3||Laval Titan (QMJHL)||Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL), North Bay Centennials (OHL)|
|1995||Kamloops Blazers (WHL)||8–2||Detroit Junior Red Wings (OHL)||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)|
|1996||Granby Prédateurs (QMJHL)||4–0||Peterborough Petes (OHL)||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), Guelph Storm (OHL)|
|1997||Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)||5–1||Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)||Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL), Oshawa Generals (OHL)|
|1998||Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)||4–3 (OT)||Guelph Storm (OHL)||Spokane Chiefs (WHL), Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)|
|1999||Ottawa 67’s (OHL)||7–6 (OT)||Calgary Hitmen (WHL)||Acadie–Bathurst Titan (QMJHL), Belleville Bulls (OHL)|
|2000||Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)||6–2||Barrie Colts (OHL)||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL), Kootenay Ice (WHL)|
|2001||Red Deer Rebels (WHL)||6–5 (OT)||Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)||Ottawa 67’s (OHL), Regina Pats (WHL)|
|2002||Kootenay Ice (WHL)||6–3||Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)||Erie Otters (OHL), Guelph Storm (OHL)|
|2003||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||6–3||Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)||Kelowna Rockets (WHL), Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)|
|2004||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)||2–1||Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)||Guelph Storm (OHL), Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)|
|2005||London Knights (OHL)||4–0||Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)||Kelowna Rockets (WHL), Ottawa 67’s (OHL)|
|2006||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)||6–2||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)||Peterborough Petes (OHL), Vancouver Giants (WHL)|
|2007||Vancouver Giants (WHL)||3–1||Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)||Lewiston Maineiacs (QMJHL), Plymouth Whalers (OHL)|
|2008||Spokane Chiefs (WHL)||4–1||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||Belleville Bulls (OHL), Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)|
|2009||Windsor Spitfires (OHL)||4–1||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)||Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL), Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)|
|2010||Windsor Spitfires (OHL)||9–1||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL), Calgary Hitmen (WHL)|
|2011||Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)||3–1||Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (OHL)||Owen Sound Attack (OHL), Kootenay Ice (WHL)|
|2012||Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)||2–1 (OT)||London Knights (OHL)||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL), Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)|
|2013||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)||6–4||Portland Winterhawks (WHL)||London Knights (OHL), Saskatoon Blades (WHL)|
|2014||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)||6–3||Guelph Storm (OHL)||Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL), London Knights (OHL)|
|2015||TBD||TBD||Quebec Remparts, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL),Kelowna Rockets (WHL)|
I am a huge hockey fan. I have played the game, I’ve officiated the game, I watch the game. I am now also becoming a hockey dad for the first time. I am a passionate hockey fan. I love the beauty of the game, the sound of freshly sharpened skates carving up the ice. I love the feeling of the air blowing through my hair. I love pretending to score the Stanley Cup winning goal. I love watching my son play hockey and I love seeing the posts and updates for my friends children as they play hockey. BUT I have an issue with bullying, intimidation and shortening of the bench in minor hockey. I am all about equal playing time in minor hockey. For those that do not know, “shortening of the bench” means that basically a certain player or players get more ice time during a game while others simply sit on the bench and watch. It is based on the coach’s decision. You see it happen in the National Hockey League all of the time. The fact is that it should never happen in minor hockey. In fact I feel so strongly about this topic that as I stated on Facebook, to all you coaches who shorten the bench in minor hockey wake the f**k up.
I wanted to share a saddening post that describes why a nine-year-old boy quit hockey. Now, although I do not know him, we live in the same city as this family, so it does hit close to home. The post was written by John McDonald and was featured on infonews.ca.
I have re-produced it here in its entirety:
The heart-breaking reason this nine-year-old boy quit hockey
By John McDonald
“TO WIN AS A TEAM AND LOSE AS A TEAM IS A PRICELESS CONCEPT THAT SHOULD BE CHERISHED AND VALUED MORE THAN WINNING AT ALL COST”
KELOWNA – A young hockey player made a heart-breaking decision to quit his hockey team with only two games left in the season and his father’s written reasons for him leaving may leave you shaking your head… or reaching for a tissue.
Yannick Lescarbeau wrote an open letter to everyone on his son Sam’s team explaining his decision. He didn’t attack anyone and he didn’t try to cause trouble. Instead he expressed his appreciation for the coaches and remained supportive because in many ways, it appears Sam loved being a member of the West Kelowna Knights.
”He has fully embraced the Knights, made serious new friendships and he had so much fun with each and every kid on that team,” Yannick wrote. “After the first practice, Sam said to me in the car with a big smile… ‘Dad, I think I am fitting in with those guys.”
The Lescarbeaus don’t take quitting lightly, he wrote, but he explained why it was acceptable this time, given the circumstances.
“It was important to share why Sam and I decided to leave the team,” Lescarbeau wrote. “Like every nine-year-old on that team, Sam dreams and lives hockey, and when hockey is no longer fun, when you find yourself crying on the bench because as a nine-year-old, you have only played two shifts in the game, no matter how important that game is… it is time to have a talk with yourself and re-evaluate why we do this.”
“On the ice and on the bench, Sam no longer felt part of the team and it was really sad to see him crying in the middle of the bench with his gloves off when he watched the same kids over and over on the ice. Too often this season, I saw players with sad faces or crying on the bench and looking at me with their small eyes and disappointed little faces to see if we were going to put them back on the ice. Too many times on the drive home, my son asked me, ‘Dad, I thought I played hard today, why did I not play in the third period.'”
Lescarbeau emphasized he has no personality conflict with the coaches of the Westside Knights although he clearly disagrees with their coaching style.
“When the fun is no longer present, there is no good reason to continue the pain, and we reached that point too often this year, and in my opinion, too many times when the situation was not warranted,” he wrote. “As a hockey dad, as a coach, to win as a team and lose as a team is a priceless concept that should be cherished and valued more than winning at all cost with only a few (players). This year’s Knights philosophy is clearly not for us. This was not a personality conflict with the coach, but rather a hockey philosophy difference.”
A parent of another Knights player, who asked not to be named, said he agreed with the reasoning.
“At that age, if your kid’s crying on the bench with no feedback from the coach about what he did wrong, then something’s not right,” said the parent.
The Knights of West Kelowna are a spring hockey club described as a developmental hockey program for young players from the local area.
Attempts to reach Lescarbeau for an interview were unsuccessful.
Kudos to Mr. Lescarbeau for penning the letter. You should win the “Hockey dad of the year award” for taking this initiative. Regardless of whether this was a Spring League (with no formal rules), shortening of the bench of nine year olds is a reflection of terrible coaching and even worse parenting. Hockey is a game, it is a team sport. Get it T-E-A-M sport? Wayne Gretzky the game of hockey’s greatest player of all-time once said something to the effect that “… no one player is greater than the team.” He also said that “the only way a kid is going to practice is if its total fun for him…and it was for me.” Hockey should be fun for kids. At nine years old you are still a kid. The coaches of this particular installment of the Knights of West Kelowna have taken the fun out of the game for young Sam and perhaps others on the team. To be honest this disgusts me to my core. Equal playing time is where the focus should be not on shortening the bench.
Shortening of the bench at this age is wrong on some many levels:
If you read the comments of the above post you will see that there are still good hockey coaches, hockey parents and hockey mentors out there. Take Aaron Konecsni of BC Hockey who replied “Sorry to hear about Sam’s experience. Enroll him in our AKHOCKEY prep camp on me. Hopefully we can get him having fun again!” Good on you Aaron. See that is what it is about at nine years old or at 18 years old for that matter… having fun.
Children play sports for a wide variety of reasons, to play a game, to have fun, to get exercise, to be part of a team, to partake in a social setting etc. Playing a team sport can help a kid come out of their shell and build confidence. West Kelowna Minor Hockey Association has passed a new policy that will become mandatory where all players are required to have a parent/guardian take the Respect In Sport (Parent) course prior to participation. I trust that all coaches follow something similar (and yes I know this was a Spring League) but the fact of the matter is, is that there is no room for this in minor hockey period.
For More Information on this program: http://www.respectinsport.com/
Link to complete the Parent Respect In Sport Program:
One thing that many of you may not realize is that minor hockey registration in Canada is down and down quite a lot. In fact according to recent reports while the population of Canada has grown by two million people in the past couple of years, the number of new novice registrations has not grown at all. While cost and expense may be one reason, here are a couple of things to consider:
In 2010, a Canadian Heritage Research Paper on “Sports Participation illustrates how there is a declining trend in youngsters playing hockey in Canada. It’s no longer the good ole hockey game but perhaps the good ole soccer game.
We should consider that incidents like shortening of the bench as discussed here are no doubt contributing to why parents are second guessing putting their children in hockey. You don’t see coaches shortening the bench in soccer at age nine do you?
At nine years of age hockey players should be working on their skating and their shots not worrying about when they may see their next shift. Coaches should be supporting the players and working to develop their skills whether it is their skating stride, their wrist shot or their passing. Forget about the systems and think about how to promote creativity and confidence on the ice.
Sam, if you or your dad happens to read this, I would like to say good for you buddy. Hockey is still fun and can be even more fun. Stick with it for as long as you enjoy it. Hockey Canada needs you and we need kids like you to help grow the sport. Work hard and believe in yourself and there is nothing that you cannot do. To Mr. Lescarbeau keep being the great parent and hockey dad that you are. The spirit of playing the game should always be the most important aspect of the game. Winning is an added bonus. Someone has to win and someone has to lose, that is just how competition and games work. It doesn’t mean that you cannot have fun regardless of what the final score is.
Mr. Lescarbeau I do not know if I could be as calm or professional as you were in this situation. I NEVER want my son to be a part of the team where shortening of the bench is happening. I have zero patience for that. To the coaches in question here, you really need to re-evaluate your coaching methods and need to step back and look at the big picture. A coach is defined as someone who teaches and trains an athlete or a performer. A coach is a person who trains and teaches members of a sports team. Members plural not just a select two or three. Is the need to win outweighing the need for having fun? Thee is no doubt that society has become a competitive place. I mean there is more to it than that, even referring to leagues or team as “Selects” or “All-Stars” should be reconsidered. Think about if it was your child that was on the bench and they were not not getting equal ice time. You’ve paid hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars for your child to play and they are sitting on the bench while the coach shortens the bench to try and win the game? What can possibly be going through a coach’s mind as players on their bench are crying? Hashtag #embarassing. (Not for the child but for the coach).
Mr. Lescarbeau you are the true coach in this instance by teaching your son a strong character building life lesson – to stand up for what is right and speak up for others. Integrity goes a long way. Much respect.
My own son will be entering organized hockey this fall at age six. I’m not putting any pressure on him to perform and I expect that the coaches will do the same. The goal here is to have fun and enjoy hockey and enjoying being on a team. Having fun and trying your best is what matters. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose. That’s just how it goes. A real good coach knows that winning while playing everybody is the most rewarding. Shortening the bench at this age is unnecessary. To the coaches that partake in shortening the bench at this age maybe it’s time that you wake the f**k up. Let the kids play.
Sam you can play on my hockey team any day.