We are heading into the final stretch of the season with most team having 22-24 games left to play. It’s been one of the better seasons in recent memory with a lot of great action and interesting developments taking place as well as a few head scratchers. Here are some of the great stories from around the NHL as we wind down the 2016-2017 NHL season.
- Canadian Teams in the Playoff Hunt – As of February 21, five of the seven Canadian teams are currently in a playoff position. Anyone care to repeat how many Canadian teams made the playoffs last season? Of course a lot can change between now and the end of the season, but for now fans of the Canadian NHL teams have a lot to cheer about.
- The Las Vegas Golden Knights – the NHLs 31st team does not take to the ice until next October, yet the impact they are having may prove interesting coming up to the NHL trade deadline and probably more importantly this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Will GMs be cutting deals so that they can protect additional key members of their rosters? Las Vegas has compiled some great hockey minds and will look to assemble a team with a strong identify early on. The next few months shall prove interesting for the Nevada Knights.
- The NHL’s celebration of 100th Anniversary – have you seen some of the TV ad spots for the NHL? Brilliant. The NHLs marketing team has done a nice job of promoting the 100 Anniversary of the NHL. Love the arm patches that the players are wearing on their jerseys. Loved the top 100 NHL players of all-time that were presented during the All-Star game in Los Angeles last month. I’ve see the Great One, Wayne Gretzky back in the spotlight as the NHL’s greatest ambassador.
- Ron MacLean Being Back Where he Belongs – One of Canada’s greatest all-time sportscasters is back where he belongs and is again the face of Hockey Night in Canada. After a couple year hiatus in a move that Rogers is no doubt regretting, Mr. MacLean was brought back to chair one of Canada’s greatest staples Hockey Night in Canada. Hearing his stories and banter with his peers and the players is something to behold. Watching him travel across Canada as part of the Hometown Hockey segment is a thrill to watch. His stories and respect of the game are a real treat to take in. Glad to have you back Ron.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs – in their 100th Anniversary the Leafs just might deliver what many thought impossible this season a return to the post season. Toronto is currently sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference and boast not one but two candidates for rookie of the year in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. We all knew that Mike Babcock was a great coach but to turn this team around this quick is pretty awesome! Wouldn’t it be something if the Leafs did the unimaginable and captured the Stanley Cup in their 100th anniversary season? The team is full of exciting youngsters and is definitely on the rise. Nice to see LeafsNation, nice to see.
- The Edmonton Oilers – finally it looks like the Edmonton Oilers are going to be playing in meaningful games this Spring. Lead by sophomore sensation Connor McDavid, the Oilers are challenging for first in the Pacific Division and have played their best hockey in fifteen maybe 20 years. While there is still some work to do, this team should be hoisting the Stanley Cup within a few years and will be the next Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. Heck I was so bold to tell my wife that if the Oilers make the post season this year, they just could go all the way if they can stay healthy and get some strong goaltending. You just never know. The Hockey Gods work in mysterious ways. Love those orange jerseys too!
- Youth is King – check any NHL roster on any given night and you will see one, two and in some cases upwards of six rookies in the lineup. The NHL has gotten a lot younger, a lot faster and a lot more fun to watch with all of the youthful exuberance that takes to the ice night in and night out. From the aforementioned Connor McDavid of the Oilers to the Leafs Kids to the Dylan Larkin’s and Jack Eichels to the second coming of Temmuu Selanne in Patrick Laine in Winnipeg, youth definitely rules the league right now and will continue to do so for the next few years.
The 2016-2017 NHL season has been one of the most fun in a lot of years. Of course still lots of parity and still lots of room for improvement, but from this hockey fan’s perspective this has been a most enjoyable season thus far.