I love this time of year. The rumour mill will be overflowing leading up to the draft, trades will happen, free agents will be courted and the Nation will be filled with various opinions and debates.

Here are some of the story lines I will be following….

  • Are the Panthers that high on William Nylander or is it just talk? The Panthers have traded out of the #1 pick twice before, 2002 and 2003, and each time they earned the #1 pick by winning the draft lottery. In 2002, they finished 28th (14.2% of winning) and in 2003 they finished 27th, (10.7%) and won.

    The Panthers won the lottery this year, so will they continue their trend of winning the lottery, but deciding to trade down? In 2002 they traded down from #1 to #3 and got the right to swap draft picks with Columbus in 2003, but since they won the lottery in 2003 they got nothing for moving down in 2002. In fact, they traded a 3rd round pick in 2002 and a 4th in 2003 to Atlanta just so they wouldn’t take Jay Bouwmeester. The Panthers ended up trading two picks to move down. AWFUL.

    In 2003, they traded the #1 (Marc-Andre Fleury) and #73 (Dan Carcillo) pick to Pittsburgh for the #3 (Nathan Horton), #55 (Stefan Meyer) and Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson played 37 games in 2003/2004, then became a free agent and signed with Detroit after the 2005 lockout.

    If Panthers GM Dale Tallon trades the #1 pick, you’d hope he’d get more than Rick Dudley did when he was in charge. The latest rumbling has the Panthers swapping picks with Vancouver and receiving the #6 pick and Hunter Shinkaruk (24th overall pick last year). That would be a blockbuster trade. Would you do it if you were Tallon or Canucks GM Jim Benning?

  • If the Canucks trade up to #1 I think they take Sam Reinhart, which would guarantee the Oilers could get Aaron Ekblad or Leon Draisaitl.
  • I don’t see the Oilers trading down. They desperately need a centre or a D-man. Aaron Ekblad is the only D-man in the top-ten, and the top three centres, Bennett, Reinhart and Draisaitl are in a class of their own down the middle. The other reason I don’t see it happening, is because teams never offer enough to make it worthwhile.
  • The Blue Jackets acquired Scott Hartnell for RJ Umberger. Hartnell is a much better player today. He does have five years left on his contract,  $4.75 million cap hit, and he’ll be 36 when his final year kicks in, but I like the trade for the Blue Jackets. They need to win a playoff series soon to keep their fans happy.
  • Hartnell had to waive his NMC to go to Columbus. I suspect many will ask why the Oilers didn’t get in on Hartnell. Which forward would they offer who is better than Umberger? They wouldn’t move Perron or Yakupov. The Oilers need centres, not wingers.
  • Oilers draft picks Darnell Nurse and Greg Chase are amongst the 41 players invited to the National Junior Team summer camp. Chase continues to look like a very good find in the 7th round.
  • Asinine decision by the Edmonton Eskimos to let their new head coach, Chris Jones, decide that the media is not allowed in the dressing room for interviews. The Eskimos have finished last in the west six of the past eight seasons. Every NHL team allows media in the room. Often that is where you get the best stories, just sitting around and shooting the breeze, but the Eskimos, who have 25,000 empty seats most games and are a community owned
    team want to limit the access of the media, who are the pipeline
    for fans.
    If the Eskimos want fewer people talking about their product, they will have it. Mission accomplished. They used to be able to lay claim to being the #2 two in town, but now they aren’t top three. The Oilers are #1 and #2 and the NHL is #3. How Len Rhodes allowed this to happen boggles my mind.

  • I listened to an interview with Tim Murray where he spoke glowingly about Leon Draisaitl. I’ve spoke to a few media guys in Buffalo and they all think the Sabres will take a centre, but are split on which one. It sounds like Murray is doing a good job of muddying the waters.
  • Mike Russo reported that Kyle Brodziak is available in Minnesota. I still remember being at the 2009 draft in Montreal when the Oilers traded Brodziak for a 4th and 5th round pick. I couldn’t believe they felt Marc Pouliot was a better fit. The Oilers need a two-six centre, so I don’t see them going after Brodziak. I think he could help a few teams in the East.
  • Matt Greene is close to resigning in LA. That doesn’t surprise me. The Kings love him and he loves LA. They love what he does on and off the ice. He’s a glue guy in their room, and while the analytics aren’t always glowing, the Kings like things the stats don’t always show. Good depth guy on a strong team.
  • Willie Desjardins is the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. Is he the oldest rookie head coach in NHL history? I know Lou Lamoriello was 63 when he went behind the bench in 2005/2006 on an interim basis, but that was temporary. I think it is great that he kept doing what he loved and finally got to the NHL as a head coach. I really admire his perseverance.
  • The NHL awards ceremony is tomorrow night. Here is who I’d pick.

Hart trophy (MVP): Sidney Crosby
Norris (best D-man): Duncan Keith
Lady Byng (sportmanlike): Ryan O’Reilly
Selke (best defensive forward): Anze Kopitar
Vezina (best goalie): Semyon Varlamov
Calder (top rookie): Nathan MacKinnon
Jack Adams (best coach): Patrick Roy
GM of the year: Bob Murray 

Crosby will become only the 18th player to win the Hart trophy twice. Gretzky (9), Gordie Howe (6), Eddie Shore (4), Bobby Clarke, Mario Lemieux, Howie Morenz, Bobby Orr and Alex Ovechkin won it three times while Jean Beliveau, Bill Cowley, Phil Esposito, Dominic Hasek, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, Mark Messier, Stan Mikita and Nels Stewart won it twice.

  • Congrats to Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Dominic Hasek, Mike Modano, Pat Burns and Bill McCreary for being elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame. A huge honour. Good for them. I’m still perplexed why Eric Lindros isn’t in. He was the best player in the game for a few years. His career was shortened due to injuries, but many have played fewer games and produced fewer points than him, yet they are in. He’s due.


  • I’ve often heard that the Ted Lindsay (formerly the Lester B. Pearson award) is worth more than the Hart Trophy because it is voted on by the NHLPA. Many feel the players know who is the best. If you believe that is always true, then explain how in 1986 when Wayne Gretzky scored 215 points, he didn’t win the award? He had won it the previous four years, and I guarantee you players wanted someone else to win. They gave it to Mario Lemieux. Lemieux had 141 points, but that was still 74 fewer points than Gretzky.

    Gretzky produced the most points in a single season the NHL had seen, or ever will, and the players didn’t vote him the most outstanding. Ridiculous.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

      • Thanks Gregor, I hope they can get him to pair with Schultz. Or, if by some miracle Ekblad falls to 3, that could be a good pairing as well. I’m still hopeful Johnny Boychuck might land in Edmonton this fall, giving the blue some much needed vets and shut down talent with size. Still no top pair, but definitely the makings of one if the kids can develop properly and put on some meat.

      • pkam

        It is 6:00pm, is there any news now?

        Is the window for negotiation closed today as suggested by Jim Matheson?

        If we still haven’t heard anything by now, does it mean no deal?

  • ubermiguel

    They traded Brodziak because A) they felt he cared more about his off-ice activities than his on-ice responsibilies, and B) he continually refused to be more physical or play anything but a perimeter game.

    Good for him for turning into a serviceable player in Minni, but I for one remember being glad to be rid of him.

    I have no idea why the guy continually gets mentioned as one of the ones “who got away” on this site.

    • Unlike that gritty, muck and grinder Pouliot, right? Brodziak was half the reason the 4th line at the time here was pretty priductive. Glenncross of course was the other half (they blew that too ). I hated then when Brodz was moved and still hate it. It’s in the past now though.

    • Jason Gregor

      They thought Pouliot was better, when everything at that point said otherwise. That is the point. An inability to properly evaluate NHL talent. It has been the biggest shortcoming of the Oilers for the past 7 years.

      • Craig1981

        I think it is a little early to say the last 7 years. I 100% agree the 4 years before the “rebuild”…….that is what led us here.

        THREE players from the Oiler’s roster were prospects before the rebuild if my memory is right. Gagner, Eberle, and Petry.

        ….But what is worst than that is only 4.5 players on the roster last year were prospects, on the roster, or players acquired for on the roster pre-2010. (Perron counts for as 1/2 since it took a 2nd rounder and Marincin)

        ……….If it wasn’t for my love of Eberle, I would of said we would of been better of as an expansion team in 2010.

  • vetinari

    @ Jason

    What about going after Brodziak, putting him on line #3 and bumping Gordon down to #4. Both could also take a PK unit and divide the load between them. Thoughts?

    • Jason Gregor

      I’m always skeptical of bringing guys back. I know he liked being away from Edmonton, less distractions with family and friends, so maybe not best for him to return.

  • pkam

    Gregory Chase, the only 7th round pick invited to camp. Hope he makes the team in December.

    Is there any 7th round pick invited to our junior team by Hockey Canada before?

    • Jason Gregor

      Mike Bullard had scored 50 goals before Lemieux was in Pitt.

      Gretzky had 77 more points than any player on his own team. Saying he wouldn’t get 140 points in Pittsburgh is saying Lemieux was better. I never saw that.

      Gretzky made Bernie Nicholls a 70-goal man and 150-point player. He played one year with Gretz and had 50 more points than he ever had before or again.

      Bullard scored 50 goals before Lemieux and had 103 points when he left for Calgary.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Shoot. I can’t watch the NHL awards tomorrow. Tuesdays are the day I throw glitter into the fan so it blows back on me.

    Men are like a fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it’s a womens job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something they’d like to have dinner with.

    • On point 2, I never understood this argument. The Stanley Cup takes a solid team to win. If it was only about one player, Gretzky would have won some with LA (and possibly other teams, but he was at least still crazy good with LA).

      • ubermiguel

        I figure there are very few guys whose regular season numbers justify entry into the HHOF (Dionne being one; Bourque even if he hadn’t won with Colorado). The really great players find a way to win the Cup at least once; the also-rans simply don’t. It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Really Good.

        That’s just my opinion, and I know many people disagee with me, but I figure at least a few of the people voting for the HHOF share my view and that will always hinder Lindros.

        • CMG30

          Bourque was one hell of a player. I dare say only, Orr and Lindstrom, could ever be considered better.

          On Lindros I bet you can’t name 2 players that scored more points than he did in the nineties. The draft is a farce. Can you imagine if you were treated that way when leaving high school.. It should be eliminated.

          All players should be free agents. It’s a career people. Not a war in south east Asia

      • If you don’t win championships, then you should need all time great superhuman production combined with longevity to be considered for the Hall of Fame, or as it is now known… the Hall of Pretty Good.

  • Zarny

    Interesting rumor with the Nucks moving up to #1 to take Reinhart. Florida likely gets Nylander at 6 if that’s who they really like.

    If Florida and Buffalo take Ekblad and Bennett could the Oilers trade down to #6 and still get Draisaitl? What about #5 if NYI really like Reinhart?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I’m hearing the Islanders are real sweet on William Nylander. That would throw a wrench into their plans.

      I see the Sabres being the motivated buyer this week. They end up with two of these kids. It’s never been more affordable to move up than this summer. Too bad MacTavish doesn’t get in on it.

  • CMG30

    From the sounds of things MacT is already penciling in Draisaitl to center the 2nd line.

    Now I’m not opposed to drafting him (he offers the size Edmonton has been searching for) but that means that Edmonton fans are going to spend the next decade or more cursing Bennett down in Calgary.

  • CMG30

    Not surprised that Buffalo is looking at Draisaitl at all. He could be the best of the bunch. I just don’t see the oilers drafting Bennett as they have that same type of player coming in 15/16 in Greg Chase who was also invited to team Canada’s camp. We stole on hell of a player there. I am hoping for Draisaitl or Reinhart.

  • pkam

    The Eskimos media ban affects nobody but the people in the media. The public gets the same cliche answers from the players in that enviroment. When they do go off script (ie Joe Thornton, Simeon Rottier)certain members of the media cant embarrass the player or team fast enough, caring more about a good story, not being part of something bigger. Plenty of evidence of just that behavior in todays biggest complainer and probably the biggest reason it was done Terry Jones.