Author: SFDI

Toronto Maple Leafs beat Montreal Canadiens in home opener

 

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By Neil Becker
 
Toronto Maple Leafs Jack Campbell continues to establish himself as a solid number one goaltender.
 
For the first time in 19 months, fans at Scotiabank Arena were in attendance and they saw some solid goaltending from Campbell who made 31 saves to lead the Leafs to a   2021-2022 season-opening 2-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens. 
 
The Leafs, who were playing without star forward Austin Matthews, came out sloppy as they surrendered countless scoring opportunities only to be bailed out by several quality saves from Campbell. 
 
Campbell, who last year put together a solid 17-3-2 record with a 2.15 G.A.A., received some heavy praise from teammate William Nylander following the opening night win. Nylander, whose third-period goal turned out to be the game winner couldn’t say enough about the always positive goaltender.
 
“He was on fire,” Nylander told The Hockey News. “Thank god he was a factor. It could have been 2 or 3-0 Montreal right from the start. We came out pretty slow.”
 
Naturally, the 48th Highlanders continued the tradition of performing on the ice before warmups. Last year, due to COVID-19, they performed virtually but this year they were back at Scotia Bank arena along with not only a near-capacity enthusiastic crowd but also anthem singer Martina Ortiz Luis. 
 
“Right from the time I walked out onto the bench or the introductions it was just different,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told CBC. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the place full like that. I thought the crowd was engaged right from the start.”
 
Fittingly it was Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin who scored the first goal as he took a first-period pass from linemate Josh Anderson before scoring the Canadiens only goal. What made this goal so special was that this was Drouin’s first game since last April 28th, when he had to step away and deal with some personal matters.
 
“It wasn’t an easy thing to do and I’m proud of what I’d done and happy I did it,” Drouin told TSN. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do and I’m proud of what I’d done and happy I did it. I’m 26 years old, so I wanted to do that at that point in my career and feel good for the next years.”
Approximately three minutes following Drouin’s goal, Leafs forward Pierre Engvall got the 18,493 masked and vaccinated fans cheering as he scored the first Leafs goal of the season.
 
 Nylander grabbed the spotlight 1:06 into the third when after receiving a pass from defenceman Morgan Riely, Nylander rushed to the net before faking Montreal goalie Jake Allen before scoring the eventual opening night game-winner.
 
Obviously, it’s crucial getting off to a strong start, but the real test for Toronto will come in the playoffs. Another first-round loss will not be tolerated by Leafs Nation.   

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Colorado Avalanche Team Report

 

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By Neil Becker

The Colorado Avalanche are without a doubt among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

In late July, they made a deal with the Arizona Coyotes for 31- year-old starting goalie Darcy Kuemper who is coming off a 10-11 season with a 2.56 GAA.

Another move was demoting goalies Hunter Miska and Trent Miner down to Colorado’s AHL team.

Meanwhile departing this off-season was former Avalanche goalie and unrestricted free agent Adam Werner who signed a one-year two-way contract with the Calgary Flames. Also signing somewhere else was Avs unrestricted free agent goalie Philipp Grubauer who inked a six-year $ 35.4 million dollar contract with the expansion Seattle Kraken. Late into training camp, goalie Devan Dubnyk remains an unrestricted free agent while another unrestricted goalie Peyton Jones wasn’t offered a deal from Colorado.

In early September the Avalanche added a veteran presence up as they invited veteran centerman Artem Anisimov to training camp. This 33- year-old scored 2 goals and 9 points in 19 games last year with the Ottawa Senators.   

In July, the Avalanche re-signed 23- year-old centerman Tyson Jost to a two-year contract extension. Last year he scored 7 goals and 17 points in 54 games.

Another move came in September when Colorado gave 25- year-old right winger Logan O’Connor a three-year contract extension.

Colorado also made an off-season deal with the New Jersey Devils where they acquired 23-year-old Mikhail Maltsev and a second -round draft pick in the 2021 NHL Draft for forward Ryan Graves.

Another move saw right winger Kiefer Sherwood receive a one-year two-way contract extension while veteran captain Gabriel Landeskov who is coming off a 52- point season, signed an eight-year $56 million dollar extension.

Leaving the team is center Mike Vecchione who as an unrestricted free agent agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Washington Capitals. Also moving on is veteran unrestricted free agent forward Brandon Saad who signed a five- year $22.5 million dollar contract with the St. Louis Blues.

Other unrestricted free agents leaving include center Sheldon Dries who signed a one-year two-way deal with the Vancouver Canucks, left winger Matt Calvert who retired and center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who signed a two-year two -million- dollar deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Avalanche also released left winger Dalton Smith while inviting to camp center Gabriel Fontaine. Some free agent signings up front include Dylan Sikura, Stefqan Matteau and Darren Helm who signed one-year contracts. 

Also departing were unrestricted free agent forwards Miikka Salomaki, T.J. Nynan and Carl Soderberg.

On defence they successfully signed star Cale Makar to a six-year extension and traded for Kurtis MacDermid.

The Avs also lost unrestricted free agent defenceman Kyle Burrows who inked a two-year, two- way contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Also leaving was another unrestricted defenceman in Dan Renouf who signed a one-year two-way contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

In another move unrestricted free agent defenceman Patrik Nemeth signed a three- year $7.5 million dollar contract with the New York Rangers.

Defenceman Jordan Gross, Denis Gilbert and Ryan Murray agreed to one-year two -way contracts.

Colorado management invited a handful of players to camp including former 2005 Carolina Hurricanes first round pick Jack Johnson.

The Avalanche are favored by many to win this year the Stanley Cup. It will definitely be an entertaining season for them. 

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Vancouver Canucks Team Report

 

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By Neil Becker

The Vancouver Canucks management made a statement this off-season when  they made a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Coyotes.

In July, Vancouver traded their first round pick (9th overall) in the 2021 NHL Entry draft along with forwards Loui Ericksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and their 2022 second round draft pick along with their 2023 seventh round pick in exchange for all-star defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larson and young forward Conor Garland.

Ekman-Larson, who is 30 years-old and an elite puck moving defenceman has played in 769 career games with Arizona and has scored 128 goals along with 388 points.

Meanwhile Garland, who is only 25 years-old, scored 39 points in 39 games last year for Arizona.

This off-season Vancouver waived veteran goalie Braden Holtby who ended up signing a one year deal with the Dallas Stars. To replace him, they signed backup Jaroslav Halak to a one-year $1.5 million dollar deal.

On defence, along with acquiring Ekman-Larson, they also re-signed 31 year-old veteran Travis Hamonic to a two-year deal worth $ 6 million dollars.

Another key edition was 28 year-old defenceman and former Winnipeg Jets player Tucker Poolman who signed a four-year $10 million dollar deal.

In other transactions, the Canucks signed 25 year-old unrestricted free agent defenceman Brady Keeper to a two-year $1.525 million dollar contract. Unfortunately this former Florida Panthers player went on to fracture his leg.

Looking to add depth and toughness, Vancouver signed former Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman and back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Luke Schenn to a two-year deal worth $1.7 million.

 Vancouver also signed former Colorado Avalanche unrestricted free agent defenceman Kyle Burrows to a two-year two-way contract.  Also signing was  24 year-old defenceman Devante Stephens to a one-year, two-way contract. Other blueline moves included re-signing Olli Juolevi to a one-year contract and Guillaume Brisebois to a one-year two-way deal.

The biggest news came on October 1st when star defenceman Quinn Hughes inked  a six-year extension. 

Defenceman leaving the organization include unrestricted free agent Brogan Raffery(signed a one-year deal $750,000 Anaheim Ducks), unrestricted free agent Alexander Edler(signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million Los Angeles Kings), unrestricted free agent defenceman Josh Teves( signed a one-year dreal  AHL’s Rochester Americans) and Mitch Elliot who was not given a qualified offer. Unrestricted free agent defenceman Ashton Sautner signed a one-year deal with the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks. 

The Canucks made changes at forward such as signing restricted free agent and former Dallas Stars player Jason Dickenson to a three year $7.95 million dollar contract. They also gave Scott Garland a four- year contract extension and signed free agent and another former Dallas Star in Justin Downing who agreed to a two-year $1.5 million- dollar deal.

Also signed by Vancouver was 26 year-old left winger Nic Petan who as a free agent signed a one-year two- way contract.

Meanwhile agreeing to a one-year two-way contract was former Colorado Avalanche centerman Sheldon Dries.

Re-signing with Vancouver was free agent forward Justin Bailey who agreed to a one-year two-way contract along with John Stevens who also signed a one-year two-way deal.

The organization got a recent boost when star forward Ellias Petterson signed a three-year $22.5 million dollar contract. Another signing this summer was veteran center Brandon Sutter who agreed to a one-year deal. Also center Tyler Motte was in late September placed on IR and veteran forward Jake Virtanen’s contract was waved.

The future looks bright for Vancouver, however they aren’t ready to contend for the Stanley Cup.

By Neil Becker

The Vancouver Canucks management made a statement this off-season when  they made a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Coyotes.

In July, Vancouver traded their first round pick (9th overall) in the 2021 NHL Entry draft along with forwards Loui Ericksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and their 2022 second round draft pick along with their 2023 seventh round pick in exchange for all-star defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larson and young forward Conor Garland.

Ekman-Larson, who is 30 years-old and an elite puck moving defenceman has played in 769 career games with Arizona and has scored 128 goals along with 388 points.

Meanwhile Garland, who is only 25 years-old, scored 39 points in 39 games last year for Arizona.

This off-season Vancouver waived veteran goalie Braden Holtby who ended up signing a one year deal with the Dallas Stars. To replace him, they signed backup Jaroslav Halak to a one-year $1.5 million dollar deal.

On defence, along with acquiring Ekman-Larson, they also re-signed 31 year-old veteran Travis Hamonic to a two-year deal worth $ 6 million dollars.

Another key edition was 28 year-old defenceman and former Winnipeg Jets player Tucker Poolman who signed a four-year $10 million dollar deal.

In other transactions, the Canucks signed 25 year-old unrestricted free agent defenceman Brady Keeper to a two-year $1.525 million dollar contract. Unfortunately this former Florida Panthers player went on to fracture his leg.

Looking to add depth and toughness, Vancouver signed former Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman and back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Luke Schenn to a two-year deal worth $1.7 million.

 Vancouver also signed former Colorado Avalanche unrestricted free agent defenceman Kyle Burrows to a two-year two-way contract.  Also signing was  24 year-old defenceman Devante Stephens to a one-year, two-way contract. Other blueline moves included re-signing Olli Juolevi to a one-year contract and Guillaume Brisebois to a one-year two-way deal.

The biggest news came on October 1st when star defenceman Quinn Hughes inked  a six-year extension. 

Defenceman leaving the organization include unrestricted free agent Brogan Raffery(signed a one-year deal $750,000 Anaheim Ducks), unrestricted free agent Alexander Edler(signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million Los Angeles Kings), unrestricted free agent defenceman Josh Teves( signed a one-year dreal  AHL’s Rochester Americans) and Mitch Elliot who was not given a qualified offer. Unrestricted free agent defenceman Ashton Sautner signed a one-year deal with the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks. 

The Canucks made changes at forward such as signing restricted free agent and former Dallas Stars player Jason Dickenson to a three year $7.95 million dollar contract. They also gave Scott Garland a four- year contract extension and signed free agent and another former Dallas Star in Justin Downing who agreed to a two-year $1.5 million- dollar deal.

Also signed by Vancouver was 26 year-old left winger Nic Petan who as a free agent signed a one-year two- way contract.

Meanwhile agreeing to a one-year two-way contract was former Colorado Avalanche centerman Sheldon Dries.

Re-signing with Vancouver was free agent forward Justin Bailey who agreed to a one-year two-way contract along with John Stevens who also signed a one-year two-way deal.

The organization got a recent boost when star forward Ellias Petterson signed a three-year $22.5 million dollar contract. Another signing this summer was veteran center Brandon Sutter who agreed to a one-year deal. Also center Tyler Motte was in late September placed on IR and veteran forward Jake Virtanen’s contract was waved.

The future looks bright for Vancouver, however they aren’t ready to contend for the Stanley Cup.

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Columbus Blue Jackets Team Report

 

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By Neil Becker

The Columbus Blue Jackets organization experienced heartbreak this off-season.

In early July, tragedy hit when their 24- year-old goalie Matiss Kivlenieks Was killed in a fireworks mishap. Last year he played eight games with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters and two with Columbus where he went 1-1 with a 3.40 G.A.A.

 Early in training camp, Columbus signed starting goalie Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year $27 million dollar contract. He is coming off a campaign that saw the 27-year-old post an 8-12 record with a 2.77 GAA. Last season the 27- year-old played 23 games where he posted an 8-12 record with a 2.77 GAA.

The Blue Jackets pulled off a blockbuster trade when in July, prior to the NHL Draft, they traded 26- year-old defenceman Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenceman Adam Boqvist along with the Hawks first and second picks in the 2021 draft and their first-round pick in either the 2022 or 2023 NHL Dra

Another new face on the Columbus blue line will be 23- year-old Jake Bean who on July 23rd was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to Columbus for the Canes 2021 second-round pick.

In early August Columbus remained active as they inked 23 -year-old defenceman Andrew Peeke to a two-year contract extension.

Returning to the Blue Jackets blueline will be 27- year-old Mikko Lehtonen who as a free agent signed a one-year deal with the Jackets. Lehtonen was traded in March 2021 from the Toronto Maple Leafs to Columbus where in 17 games he registered 3 assists. 

The Jackets blueline took a huge hit when unrestricted free agents Adam Clendening and Michael Del Zotto signed with other teams. Clendening, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers while De Zotto signed a two-year $3 million dollar contract with the Ottawa Senators.

Blue Jackets star defenceman and former 2015 first-round pick Zach Werenski, signed this summer a six-year $57.5 million dollar contract extension.

In late July the Blue Jackets acquired a familiar name in right winger Jakub Voracek from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for veteran forward Cam Atkinson.

Voracek was originally drafted by Columbus 7th overall in the 2007 NHL Draft. Last year he scored 9 goals and 43 points in 53 games. Meanwhile, Atkinson has played 627 games with Columbus where he scored 203 goals and 402 points.

In adding toughness, Columbus in August signed left winger Zac Rinaldo to a one-year two-way deal worth $750,000. However, due to not getting vaccinated he was assigned to their AHL affiliate the Cleveland Monsters.

Columbus also signed forward Patrick Laine to a one-year contract extension worth $7.5 million dollars. Last year, he scored only 10 goals and 21 points in 45 games.

Becoming an unrestricted free agent was veteran Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky who last played in 2018/19 due to a wrist injury.

Forwards coming to Columbus camp on a PTO include Brett Gallant, Justin Scott, Cole Cassels, and Adam Helewka.

Unrestricted free agent left winger Stefan Matteau agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Two other unrestricted free agents who are departing include center Zac Dalpe who signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Florida Panthers and center Ryan MacInnis who signed a one-year two-way contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

 Management in late July signed 28- year-old centerman Boone Jenner to a four-year contract extension. Jenner has played in 530 career games with Columbus and has scored 121 goals and 240 points.

This will more than likely be a year of development for their young players. 

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Anaheim Ducks Team Report

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By Neil Becker

It’s been a quiet off-season for the re-building Anaheim Ducks.

Heading into training camp, the team will be without goaltender Ryan Miller who last season announced that he would be retiring. Miller, who spent the final four years of his career in Anaheim, finished his career with 391 wins and 289 losses along with 44 shutouts and a 2.64 GAA.

Also deciding to retire was forward David Backes who spent the past two seasons with Anaheim. Backes, who in his career also played for the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, dressed for 21 games over his two years as a Duck, where he scored 3 goals along with 7 points.

In September the Ducks reached out and offered journey centreman Tobias Rieder a PTO for training camp. Rieder has played with the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Oilers, Calgary Flames and last year the Buffalo Sabres.

Another off-season move was re-signing left winger Max Jones to a three-year contract worth $3.885 million. He is coming off a 7 goal and 11- point season.

Meanwhile, in early July Anaheim presented 29 -year-old centreman Sam Carrick a one-year, one-way contract extension. Last season he played in the AHL but did dress for 13 games with the Ducks where he totaled 2 goals and 6 points.

Anaheim also re-signed centreman Vinni Lettieri to a one-year two- way contract extension. He is coming off a solid campaign which saw him score 14 goals and 26 points in 22 games for the AHL’s Gulls. He also played in five games with the Ducks.

The Ducks also gave a one-year $925,000 contract extension to left winger Alexander Volkov who they acquired last March from the defending Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

Departing Anaheim was free agent centerman Andrew Poturalski who signed a one- year two-way contract with the Carolina Hurricanes and free agent forward Carter Rowney who agreed to a one-year contract worth $825,000 with the Detroit Red Wings. 

Also departing was free agent forward Andrew Agozzino who inked a one-year two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

Meanwhile also leaving was unrestricted free agent centerman Chase De Leo who agreed to a one-year two-way contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Two other new faces at forward includes free agent Danny O’Regan who agreed to a two-way two-year contract and right winger Buddy Robinson who as a free agent left the Calgary Flames to sign a one-year two-way contract with Anaheim.

Re-signing with the club were centerman Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel who both agreed on one- year two-way contracts along with left winger Max Comtois who re-signed for two years.

Long time Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf re-signed a one- year contract.  He is coming off a season which saw him score 5 goals and 17 points in 48 games.

On defence, the Ducks have given 27- year-old Trevor Carrick to a one- year two- way contract extension. Also re-signing on the backend was Josh Mahura who last year played 13 games and registered 4 points with the Ducks.

Two other free agent defenceman who agreed to one-year two-way contracts were Greg Pateryn and Brogan Rafferty.

The Ducks have made some positive changes but will be in tough to make the playoffs.

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