The latest on Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, Travis Hamonic, Jason Pominville, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice believes the pressure surrounding the contract negotiations of Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor will increase for those players and management as training camp approaches. Jets camp opens on Sept. 13.
Winnipeg Jets wingers Patrik Laine (above) and Kyle Connor remain unsigned (Photo via NHL Images).
Acknowledging the unusually high number of restricted free agent stars still unsigned around the league, Maurice believes once one or two sign the others could quickly follow.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those RFAs are waiting to see who signs first. I anticipate a flurry of last-minute signings before mid-September.
CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic was unconcerned over his name popping up in this summer’s trade rumors. He spent his time preparing for the upcoming season and embracing family life.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hamonic rumors – and those surrounding T.J. Brodie – quieted after Juuso Valimaki suffered a serious knee injury during off-season training. Most of that speculation has less to do with Hamonic and more with Brodie. Regardless, it appears both blueliners will be staying in Calgary for the upcoming season.
NHL.COM: Unrestricted free agent winger Jason Pominville, 36, hopes to continue his NHL career but said he’s prepared that it could be over after 16 seasons.
THE ATHLETIC: Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny is progressing in his recovery from April’s season-ending hamstring surgery. He’s hoping to be ready for training camp but a return date remains uncertain.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former Philadelphia Flyers Andrew MacDonald, Matt Read, and Michal Neuvirth are among several players heading to training camps on professional tryout offers.
NEWSDAY: Scott Gomez has stepped down as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Alexander Khovanov had surgery last Friday to remove a benign bone tumor from his leg.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Former NHL winger Darren McCarty credits medical marijuana with helping to save him from alcohol and drug addiction. He quit drinking four years ago, lost 60 pounds, is off most of his prescription medication and recently quit smoking cigarettes.
SPORTSNET: Journeyman goaltender Mike McKenna has retired after stints with 15 NHL organizations and 22 professional teams.
Since 1933, the Calder Memorial Trophy has been annually awarded to the NHL’s top rookie player as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Over the years, a number of players honored to receive this award have gone on to stellar NHL careers. Many have their names enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Among today’s active NHL players, such notables as Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews have taken home this trophy.
For many of the former winners, the Calder Trophy became the only major NHL award they would receive. Most still had fine playing careers but would fall short of Hall of Fame recognition.
Here’s a look at at several former Calder Winners since 1998, including the year they won the award and what they’re doing today.
Andrew Raycroft, goaltender (2003-04). Though Raycroft appeared in 21 games over three previous seasons with the Boston Bruins, it was his 57-game performance in ’03-’04 that was considered his actual rookie campaign. He sported a record of 29 wins, 18 losses and 9 overtime defeats, with a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
His rookie season was also Raycroft’s best as an NHL goalie. His performance declined as he bounced from the Bruins to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars. He subsequently spent two seasons in Europe before retiring in 2014. Today, he’s a volunteer goaltending coach with the University of Connecticut men’s hockey team and has appeared as a studio hockey analyst for NESN.
Barrett Jackman, defenseman (2002-03). A solid defensive blueliner, Jackman narrowly beat out Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and Columbus’ Rick Nash for the Calder.
Jackman spent all but one of his 14 NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues, finishing his career with the Nashville Predators in 2015-16. In 2017, he returned to the Blues as a development coach.
Former Calder Trophy winner Dany Heatley (Photo via NHL.com)
Dany Heatley, left wing (2001-02). A 26-goal, 67-point performance with the Atlanta Thrashers earned Heatley the Calder. His career was nearly derailed following a car crash in Sept. 2003 that killed teammate Dan Snyder. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and received three years probation as part of his plea deal.
Dealt to Ottawa in 2005, Heatley enjoyed his best NHL seasons with the Senators, including two straight 50-goal performances in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2009, his performance began to decline. Following three seasons with the Minnesota Wild and a brief stop with the Anaheim Ducks, he finished his pro career in Germany in 2015-16.
Heatley’s been out of the spotlight since then. In 2017, a Calgary court awarded him $6.5-million in damages after companies run by his former agent defrauded him of over $11 million in bad real estate investments.
Evgeni Nabokov, goaltender (2000-01). In his first full NHL season with the Sharks, Nabokov sported a record of 32 wins, 21 losses and 7 overtime defeats, with a 2.19 GAA, .915 SP and six shutouts.
Nabokov spent 10 seasons with the Sharks, establishing himself among the league’s best goalies. With the Sharks unable to re-sign him for salary-cap reasons, he spent the 2010-11 season in the KHL. He returned to the NHL in 2011-12, going on to play three seasons with the New York Islanders and one with the Tampa Bay Lightning before retiring in 2015.
Nabokov returned to the Sharks in the fall of 2015 as their goaltending development coach and special assignments scout. It’s a role he continues to fill today.
Scott Gomez, center/winger (1999-2000). The native of Anchorage, Alaska had a memorable NHL debut season, winning the Calder Trophy thanks to his 70-point performance. He was also part of the Devils’ Stanley Cup championship run in 2000.
Gomez enjoyed his best seasons during his initial seven-year tenure with the Devils, helping them win another Cup in 2003 and posting a career-high 84-points in 2005-06. He went on to spend two seasons with the New York Rangers and three with the Montreal Canadiens but never again enjoyed the level of success as he did earlier in his career.
From 2012-13 to 2015-16, Gomez played for the Sharks, Florida Panthers, Blues and Senators, including a one-season return with the Devils in 2014-15. Retiring in 2016, Gomez was hired as an assistant coach in 2017 by the New York Islanders, a role he still holds despite the recent changes among the club’s coaching staff.
Chris Drury, center (1998-99) A 20-goal, 44-point performance with the Colorado Avalanche garnered Drury rookie of the year honours. Following four seasons with the Avs (including a Stanley Cup championship in 2001), he was traded to the Calgary Flames in 2002. The following year, he was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.
Drury’s three seasons with the Sabres were his best, co-captaining them to two straight seasons with 110-or-more points (2005-06 and 2006-07), including two Eastern Conference Finals appearances. He went on to sign with the New York Rangers in 2007 and had two solid performances in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Injuries, however, began to take their toll. In 2011, Drury accepted a contract buyout and announced his retirement.
In 2015, Drury joined the Rangers front office. Since 2016. he’s been an assistant general manager and was also named GM of their AHL affiliate in Hartford in 2017.
Sergei Samsonov, winger (1997-98). Teammate Joe Thornton was the Bruins’ highly touted rookie that season but it was Samsonov who took home rookie of the year honors with 22 goals and 47 points. From 1997-98 to 2005-06, the skilled left winger enjoyed his best seasons with the Bruins. Those years included back-to-back seasons with 70-or-more points in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
With the Bruins rebuilding in 2005-06, Samsonov was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers, tallying 15 points in 24 playoff games helping them reach the ’06 Stanley Cup Final. Over the next five seasons, he played for the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers before retiring in 2011.
In 2014, Samsonov rejoined to the Hurricanes in their scouting department. He’s now their director of forwards development.
Latest on the Capitals, Stanley Cup Final updates,coaching hires & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE WASHINGTON POST: In his first press conference since his club’s second-round elimination, Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said Barry Trotz will return next season as head coach. However, it was MacLellan’s comments over the possibility of trading captain Alex Ovechkin that raised eyebrows.
While MacLellan said such a move wasn’t in the club’s best interest and he wasn’t stripping Ovechkin of the captaincy, he said he would “maybe” consider it if the right deal came along.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan went on to stress that trading Ovechkin didn’t make sense from an organizational viewpoint and that the superstar is “a big part of this franchise, and he’ll continue to be going forward.” However, the focus of the headlines seems to be that MacLellan might one day consider trading him if a legitimate hockey trade offer came along.
Could Ovechkin be traded someday? Sure. As the old saying goes, if Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. Will it happen anytime soon? No, and certainly not if team owner Ted Leonsis refuses to endorse such a move.
Besides, I think the Capitals could have a bigger issue on their hands if Ovechkin is determined to play for Russia in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. If the NHL enforces its determination not to allow players under contract participate in those Games, there’s a possibility Ovechkin could retire from the NHL in order to play for his country next winter.
CSN MID-ATLANTIC: MacLellan also denied a recent report claiming his club was close to re-signing pending free agent right wing T.J. Oshie. He said the club remains interested in signing Oshie to a new deal but nothing is imminent.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang spoke to the media yesterday for the first time since undergoing season-ending neck surgery on April 13. While unable to skate with his teammates in the Stanley Cup Final, he’s serving as a special player adviser for the club during its playoff run. Letang remains confident of his club’s chance of repeating as champions and also hopes to return to skating in the near future.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators fan who tossed a catfish onto the ice in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was charged with three misdemeanors by Pittsburgh police. Tossing a catfish onto the ice became a tradition in Nashville since 2003. To date, the Nashville police hasn’t cited anyone for the Predators pastime.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As in Detroit, if you’re going to toss dead sea creatures onto the ice, do it in your team’s home arena where the cops are more likely to turn a blind eye.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Derick Brassard will under surgery on his right shoulder and will require four-to-five months of recovery.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky underwent wrist surgery and will require three months to recover.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights will have a 72-hour window (10 am ET on June 18 to 10 am ET on June 21) to determine their selections for the expansion draft. They also have a similar window for signing unprotected restricted and unrestricted free agents.
TSN: The NHL will release the protected lists of the 30 existing franchises on June 18.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders have hired Scott Gomez as an assistant coach.
CSN CHICAGO: In his first preseason game since undergoing offseason knee surgery, Duncan Keith set up two goals as the Chicago Blackhawks trounced the Detroit Red Wings 6-1.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn picked up an assist in his club’s 2-1 preseason victory over the Florida Panthers. It was Benn’s first game since undergoing offseason core muscle surgery.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings named Justin Abdelkader as an assistant captain. He replaces Pavel Datsyuk, who retired from the NHL to play out his career in Russia.
PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas won’t receive a disciplinary hearing for boarding New York Rangers winger Jimmy Vesey in a recent preseason game, Gudas received a game misconduct for the hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact Vesey continued to play likely factored into that decision. Still, Gudas was fortunate to avoid a suspension. He has a previous three-game suspension and a fine on his resume.
NJ.COM: Former New Jersey Devils forward Scott Gomez is joining the NHL Network as a studio analyst.
THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks 2008 first round pick Cody Hodgson has retired. In nearly six NHL seasons with the Canucks, Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators, the 26-year-old center netted 142 points in 328 games. His best season came in 2013-14 with the Sabres, scoring 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points. He will be working in the Predators young hockey program.
Blake Wheeler is the new captain of the Winnipeg Jets.
Winnipeg Jets name Blake Wheeler captain, Scott Gomez retires, P.K. Subban returns to Montreal & more in this morning’s NHL headlines.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets yesterday formally announced winger Blake Wheeler is their new team captain. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and center Mark Scheifele are the alternate captains.
ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS: After 16 NHL seasons, forward and Anchorage native Scott Gomez announced his retirement. Gomez played for the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators.
His best seasons came during his first stint with the Devils (1999-2000 to 2006-07), winning two Stanley Cups and the 2000 Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. In 1,079 regular season games, Gomez netted 181 goals and 756 points, as well as 101 points in 149 playoff games.
TSN.CA: Back in Montreal for the first second time since being traded in June by the Canadiens to the Nashvile Predators, defenseman P.K. Subban admitted he was disappointed not to be selected for Team Canada in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, but said he has no control over that. Subban was in Montreal for the first anniversary of his $10 million pledge to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. In one year, his foundation raised over $1.4 million for his fund that helps families with sick children undergoing financial hardship.
OTTAWA SUN: It’s been a bittersweet summer for Senators winger Bobby Ryan, who welcomed the birth of his first child but also endured the loss of his mother to liver cancer.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The ashes of hockey great Gordie Howe will be interred in the base of a statue that honors him outside a hockey arena in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
PHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday unveiled gold-trimmed jerseys to commemorate their 50th anniversary.
BOSTON HERALD: Individual home game tickets for Bruins games in 2016-17 go on sale Sept. 8.
USA TODAY: The NHL adds meldonium to its list of banned substances.
SI.COM: Colin Fleming considers the Team Canada roster of the 1976 Canada Cup tournament to be hockey’s ultimate “Dream Team”, Among the 18 Hall of Famers were Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Denis Potvin, Bobby Clarke, Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Phil Esposito, Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault and soon-to-be inducted Rogie Vachon.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The PIttsburgh Penguins will visit the White House with the Stanley Cup on Oct. 6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Stanley Cup, Andy O’Brien, PEI native and the Penguins director of sport science and performance, brought the big mug to Atlantic Fitness Centre in Charlottetown yesterday. Here’s some photos of the occasion:
Andy O’Brien and the Stanley Cup.
Andy O’Brien and the Cup.
L-R: Stacey Lund (manager, AFC), Andy O’Brien and Chris MacPhee (co-owner, AFC).