NHL Notebook: Vancouver Canucks J.T. Miller’s freakout, Connor Bedard’s World Junior tear, and more
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing1 month ago
Tensions continue to run high in Vancouver and it came to a head further on Thursday night.
With the Canucks down 3-2 late in the game, J.T. Miller had an on-ice freakout when the third-string goaltender Colin Delia wouldn’t go to the bench for the extra attacker. It wasn’t Delia’s fault either, Daily Faceoff’s Mike McKenna penned Friday:
J.T. Miller owes his Vancouver Canucks teammate Collin Delia an apology.In the closing minutes of Thursday’s matchup with the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver was trailing 3-2. And Delia – playing his third game in goal for the Canucks – got stuck in the Vancouver crease, waiting for any sign from the coaching staff to skate off for the extra attacker.The signal never came. And when Miller gained possession of the puck and circled back into the Canucks defensive zone, he tore into his teammate.Miller can be seen screaming at Delia to get off the ice – in not so nice words. Then the Canucks assistant captain smashes his stick off the crossbar directly behind Delia while continuing to yell at him.It’s one of the most disrespectful things I’ve seen a player do to a teammate in quite some time. And Miller is completely in the wrong.Let me explain.Every goaltender knows that when their team is trailing, and there’s less than three minutes left in the game, it’s time to start looking toward the bench. But goaltenders are taught to stay put until the coach calls for them to get off the ice.No coach wants to be surprised by a goaltender making a beeline for the bench. Adding the extra attacker isn’t a spur of the moment decision. Coaches are constantly juggling which skaters are available to replace the goaltender.But there’s another layer. Over time, many coaches have realized there isn’t much to gain by yanking the goalie when the puck is still in the defensive zone. Consequently, many goaltenders have been coached to stay put in such a situation.
Connor Bedard is doing some amazing things.
He’s tearing it up in the WHL this season scoring 27 goals and as many assists in 28 games with the Regina Pats, and he’s hitting new heights at the World Juniors. In just three games, Bedard has scored six goals and 14 points and is already cementing himself with an all-time performance.
Over at Daily Faceoff, prospect guru Steven Ellis wrote about what makes him one of the best prospects since Connor McDavid.
Projected first-overall picks are always hyped up, whether by the media or general fans who only watch a prospect during a few events each year. The best prospects – the smart ones – have advisors working with them at all times to avoid distractions and focus on living up to their potential. So a bunch of people going nuts about a prospect online typically isn’t noticed by anyone in that player’s camp.But when you step up to the World Junior Championship level, and you happen to be Canadian – the country that seemingly always hosts the tournament – you can’t escape the hype.That’s the reality for Connor Bedard, the 17-year-old phenom that’s a consensus to go No. 1 in the 2023 NHL Draft.Most top prospects have the spotlight on them at a young age, but when there’s legitimate “generational” potential – whatever that means to you – that’s magnified. And Bedard is again showing on the top stage of junior international hockey why he’s one of the greatest prospects in the game right now – and among an elite group of superstars that have stood out above the rest.So, what makes him so good?I polled some scouts at various levels of the game to get a read on what makes the player we can all see dominating his peers so good. With 14 points in just three games, he’ll have no issue passing the post-2000 single-tournament points record of 18, set by Jordan Eberle and Trevor Zegras. He has 14 goals all-time at the WJC to tie Eberle, too, and should have no issue overtaking him before long.And sure, 13 of the points came against two bottom-feeders, but there’s a bit of nuance behind that. He’s the one creating the damage. Bedard is also on pace for 140 points in the WHL, and he has 48 points in just 27 games with Canada in overall international play. This isn’t a kid kicking the butts of teams that can barely register a shot – he’s better than everyone he plays against, simple as that.The first thing everyone notices is his NHL-level shot. Bedard isn’t big at 5-foot-9, so he uses a 70-flex stick. For reference, you start seeing pre-teens and young teenagers using that as they finally start building body mass. But he gets so much torque out of every shot, and his release is both quick and deceptive. Bedard can place a shot anywhere he wants, from any angle and regardless of how much pressure he’s dealing with.“The kid doesn’t waste much time setting up a release,” a scout said. “He doesn’t even need to wind it up much. He gets so much power in so little time. He’s getting a shot away before a defenseman can make the motion for a poke check every single time, and that’s not hyperbole. He’s going to score 60 in the NHL, and more than once.”
Former NHL’er Devante Smith-Pelly has announced his retirement from the NHL.
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the 2010 draft, he spent 10 years in the NHL with the Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and LA Kings. In 2018, Smith-Pelly lifted the Stanley Cup with the Captials.
Here’s what he penned in a retirement message on his Instagram:
“I have decided to end this chapter of my life and retire. I’m grateful for the opportunity to live out my dream of playing in the NHL. Throughout my career I’ve experienced the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. I was able to travel to places I never thought I’d see and played along side and against some of the best players in the world of hockey. I am so proud to say a kid from Scarborough Ontario leaves a Stanley Cup champion. I will be forever grateful for my experiences.I want to thank my first agency O2K for believing in me when they took me on as a client. Anaheim who drafted me, Montreal and New Jersey as well. And Washington. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I will always be connected to my teammates, the fans and the city. We made history.My family has been my rock through all the ups and downs my mother, father, and siblings have been my fiercest supporters. They’ve made biggest sacrifices so that I could live out my dream.I can’t put into words how grateful I am for them.Lastly thank you to Anthony and Chris Stewart, Wayne Simmonds, Joel Ward. They lead the way for my generation and showed that it was possible to make it from where we are from. I hope I had the same impact to the young kids after me, as they did for meI’m excited for my next chapter and the opportunities to come.“
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent articles from Zach Laing