Carolina Hurricans Team Report

by Neil Becker

The Carolina Hurricanes made what could be classified as a gutsy off-season move when they signed former Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a lucrative offer sheet.

Kotkaniemi, who was selected by Montreal third overall in the 2018 draft, was a restricted free agent who on August 28th signed an offer sheet for one year at $6.1 million. This past season Kotkamiemi, who is only 21 years old, scored five goals and 20 points in 56 games. In his career, he has played 171 games and registered 22 goals along with 62 points. Perhaps a change of scenery can jump-start his career. 

In adding some scoring depth and veteran leadership, Carolina in late July signed unrestricted free agent center Derek Stepan to a one-year contract valued at $1.35 million.  Stepan, who was originally drafted 51st overall in the 2008 draft by the New York Rangers, has played 759 career games where he has scored 168 goals along with 485 points. Last year, he only played 20 games with the Ottawa Senators where he scored a goal and six points.

The biggest off-season move Carolina made came in the house when they re-signed 21- year-old Russian right-winger Andrei Svechnikov to a lucrative eight-year contract worth $62 million. Drafted second overall by Carolina in the 2018 Draft, Svechnikov is coming off a season that saw him score 15 goals and 42 points in 55 games. His best season came in 2019-20 when he registered 24 goals and 61 points.

Looking to shake up the goaltending, Carolina signed unrestricted free agents Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta to two-year contracts. Andersen, who spent the past five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, signed the two-year deal which is worth $9 million dollars. Last year Andersen was plagued with injuries as he played only 24 games where he posted a 13-8-3 record with a 2.96 GAA.

Meanwhile, Raanta, who is 32 years old signed a two-year $2 million dollar deal. Last year with the Arizona Coyotes, this veteran goalie posted a 5-5 record with a 3.36 GAA.

Carolina also signed goaltender Alex Lyon to a one-year two-way contract. Lyon spend the past five years in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Last year, he played six games with the Flyers where he registered a 1-3-1 record with a 3.33 GAA.  

Leaving Carolina is 33- year-old veteran free agent goalie James Reimer who in late July agreed to a two-year contract with the San Jose Sharks worth $4.5 million. He is coming off a season that saw him play 22 games and post a 15-5-2 record with a 2.66 GAA.

Another unrestricted agent goalie leaving Carolina is Petr Mrazek who signed a three-year deal worth $11.4 million dollars with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Mrazek who last year missed a lot of time due to a thumb injury, competed in 12 games where he posted a 6-2-3 record with a .923 save percentage.

Last year back on October 22, 2020 goalie Antoine Bibeau agreed to a one-year two-way contract with the Hurricanes. During what was a shortened season, Bibeau posted a 5-2-1 record and a 2.49 GAA with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. His time with the Hurricanes organization proved to be short-lived as the free agent agreed on August 20, 2021, to a one-year, two-way contract with the expansion Seattle Kraken.

A familiar name coming back to the Canes organization is 27- year-old centerman Andrew Poturalski who in early August inked a one-year two-way contract with Carolina. Poturalski has played two NHL games in the 2016/17 season with the Hurricanes. Eventually, on July 2, 2019, he signed a one-year two-way contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Following two seasons with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, Poturalski has come back as a free agent to the Canes organization.

Other forwards to sign one-year two-way contracts were right-winger Stefan Noesen, center Maxim Letunov, left-wingers Sam Miletic and C.J. Smith, right-winger Spencer Smallman and center Morgan Geekie.

Forward Cedric Paquette who played 38 games with the Canes signed on July 28, a one-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens for $950,000. Meanwhile, right-winger Sheldon Rempal and left-winger Brock McGinn became unrestricted free agents. Other unrestricted free agents include left-winger Max McCormick, right-winger Saku Maenalanen, center Drew Shore and right-winger David Gust.

Carolina signed in late July left-winger free agent Jordan Martinook to a three-year contract. Also, veteran left-winger, Josh Leivo signed a one-year contract worth $750,000 dollars.   

On defence, the Canes made lots of moves including acquiring in late July Ethan Bear in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. The Hurricanes surrendered forward Warren Foegele. Bear, who is 24 years old, scored 2 goals and 8 points in 43 games last year with the Oilers.

Following last year’s training camp with the Ottawa Senators, defenceman Maxime Lajoie was traded to the Hurricanes. He was assigned to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves where Lajoie scored 6 goals and 21 points in 27 games. This past off-season the Canes signed him to a one-year two-way contract. Another defenceman who signed a one-year two-way contract was Josh Jacobs and Jalen Chatfield. Also coming to Carolina was veteran defenceman Brendan Smith who in July signed a one-year deal worth $800,000. Carolina made a big signing with defenceman Ian Cole who signed a one-year 2.9-million-dollar contract. They also made what could be looked at as controversial with the signing of former New York Rangers defenceman Tony DeAngelo for one year at a million dollars.

The biggest loss on the blueline was unrestricted free agent Dougie Hamilton who ended up signing a seven-year $63 million dollar contract with the New Jersey Devils. Last year the 28 -year-old scored 10 goals and 42 points in 55 games played.

It was recently announced that veteran Hurricanes defenceman Jake Gardner will miss the season due to back and hip surgery.

The big question heading into the new season is Anderson’s health and whether he could handle what should be a heavy workload. Also, the loss of Hamilton will definitely hurt the blueline. Still, expect Carolina to make the playoffs.

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Florida Panthers Team Report

by Neil Becker

The Florida Panthers fanbase has reason to be excited about the upcoming season.

Coming off a season that saw them finish fourth overall with 79 points, the Panthers made a statement by making some key off-season moves to put them on the fringe of being Stanley Cup contenders.

The biggest move came on July 24th when the Panthers acquired 25-year-old forward Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for goaltender Devon Levi and Florida’s 2022 first-round draft pick.

Reinhart, who was drafted by Buffalo second overall in the 2014 draft, is coming off a solid season that saw him score 25 goals and 40 points in 54 games. A change of scenery to South Florida should really jump-start Reinhart’s career.  Reinhart has played 454 career games and has scored 134 goals along with 295 points. In early August, this restricted free agent agreed to a three-year contract.

Looking to add some veteran leadership Florida signed future hall of fame forward Joe Thornton to a one-year $750,000 million dollar contract. This 42- year-old veteran, and former 1997 first overall pick of the Boston Bruins played last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his one and only season with Toronto, he scored five goals and 20 points in 44 games. In his illustrious career, Thornton has played with the Bruins, San Jose Sharks, and Leafs before becoming a Panther.     

Meanwhile, it looks like veteran left-winger Anthony Duclair has found a home with the Panthers.  

Drafted 80th overall in the 2013 draft by the New York Rangers, Duclair has bounced around in playing for the Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, and the Panthers. On December 17, 2020, Duclair, who was a free agent, signed a one-year $1.7 million dollar contract with the Panthers. He played 43 games last year and scored 10 goals and 32 points.  In mid-July, he agreed to a three-year contract extension for $9 million.

Another forward who has excelled with a change of scenery is rugged centerman Sam Bennett who on July 26th, agreed to a four-year $17.6 million dollar contract extension. This 25- year-old, who was drafted 4th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2014 draft, played six full seasons in Alberta before getting traded on April 12, 2021, to the Panthers. After the trade Bennett played in 10 games where he scored 6 goals along with 15 points while racking up 33 penalty minutes.

Forward Zac Dalpe who is 31 years old, and spent the past five seasons in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization signed a two-year two-way contract with the Panthers. Last year, he played only 12 games with the Blue Jackets where he scored 2 goals and 3 points.

The club didn’t extend qualifying offers to unrestricted free agent forwards Lucas Wallmark, Patrick Bajkov, or Brad Morrison.  

Florida still must make a decision on pending unrestricted free agent left winger Scott Wilson. This 29-year-old, who has played with the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Pittsburgh Penguins agreed back on October 21, 2020, to a one-year, two-way contract with the Panthers. He played last season with AHL’s Syracuse Crunch where he scored a goal and three points in eight games.  

The Panthers also offered centreman Carter Verhaeghe, who scored 18 goals and 36 points a three-year contract extension.

 Forward Maxim Mamin who was drafted 175th overall in the 2016 draft by Florida is coming back after spending the last couple of seasons with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. Following his second season which saw him score 15 goals and 35 points, Mamin agreed on July 28th to a one-year contract with Florida worth $975,000.

Another off-season move saw unrestricted centerman Alexander Wennberg sign a three-year deal worth $13.5 million with the Seattle Kraken.

Also re-signing was right-winger Juho Lammikko for one season. Lammikko is coming off a campaign that saw him score 4 goals and 5 points in 44 games.

A decision still has to be made about left winger Nikita Gusev who is an unrestricted free agent.

The Panthers suffered a big loss when on July 21st, they lost goalie Chris Driedger to the expansion Seattle Kraken. Upon being selected, he agreed to a three-year deal with Seattle for $10.5 million. Last year he posted a 14-6-3 record with a 2.07 G.A.A.

Goalie Evan Fitzpatrick, who was drafted second round by the St. Louis Blues in the 2016 draft, got an invitation on a PTO to the Panthers training camp.

Meanwhile, Panther’s goalie Philippe Desrosiers, who refined his skills last year on the Panthers extended taxi squad, signed as an unrestricted free agent, a one-year contract with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

Agreeing to a one-year two-way contract were goalies Christopher Gibson and Sam Montembeault.

On defense, Florida re-signed defenceman Chase Priskie to a one-year two-way contract. Becoming unrestricted free agents are defenceman Ethan Prow, Alec Rauhauser, Emil Djuse, Tommy Cross, Jake Massie, and Brady Keeper. Meanwhile veteran blueliner Keith Yandle got his contract bought out and Gustav Forsling got a three- year extension. Defenceman Lucas Carlsson and Noah Juulsen both received one-year two-way contracts and Brandon Montour who is known for his offensive skills signed a three-year extension worth $10.5 million.

Once again it will be an exciting season in South Florida as they are one of a handful of teams who can seriously compete for the Stanley Cup.

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David Tiger Williams Bio

by Jordan Laroche

Although David “Tiger” Williams was given his nickname as a child, he lived up to the name during his NHL career. After three seasons with the Swift Current Broncos of the WCHL he would be drafted in the second round of the 1974 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

When he joined the Leafs he was an instant impact player tallying 29 points and 187 penalty minutes in 42 games his rookie year. 

While Williams was able to contribute offensively, he was known for being an enforcer, as he would have seven seasons where he notched over 300 penalty minutes. Williams also currently holds the record for the most penalty minutes all-time with 3,971 penalty minutes. 

In the 1979-1980 season, Williams had 22 goals in 55 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks that season, he would score eight more goals with the Canucks making it his first 30-goal campaign. 

But he would follow that up by leading the team in goals with 35 in 77 games, while also tallying 341 penalty minutes, the third-highest of his career. That same season he would beat out Thomas Gradin and Stan Smyl to be selected for the NHL All-Star Game. 

After one season with the Detroit Red Wings, Williams would be traded to the Los Angeles Kings. While a member of the Kings, Williams set his career-high in penalty minutes with 358, while also scoring 16 goals in 76 games. His 358 penalty minutes in the 1986-1987 season is 18th all-time in single-season penalty minutes. 

Williams retired at the end of the 1987-1988 season. 

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Ice Hockey Classic Showcase Recap

by Jordan Laroche

The Ice Hockey Classic held the IHC Showcase at Paramount Ice in Thornhill Saturday night for those who missed it. People from all corners of the globe tuned in as a group of pro, college, and junior level players faced off representing Canada and the USA. The Americans were able to hold off a seven-goal comeback against Canada winning 8-7 in Overtime.

The USA got off to a strong start, dominating play for most of the first period. Just before the halfway point of the first, Drake Caggiula (Buffalo Sabres) would find Grayden Gottschalk (Laurier Univ.) on a backdoor pass to open the scoring for the game.

The Americans were able to sustain their momentum as Michael Budd (Hannover Scorpions) found just enough room to tuck it by Canadian goaltender Jordan Laroche (Aylmer Spitfires.)

A late powerplay for the Canadians gave just enough light for Ryan Penny (Coventry Blaze) to bury a one-timer past Stefano Durante (American International College) to end the period.

A goaltender switch halfway through the second saw John Lloyd (Aurora Tigers) and Owen Baer (King Heights’ Academy) go in the net for Canada and the USA respectively.

The Canadians had seemed to find their footing in the second period, forcing Durante to make some stellar saves. Durante’s stellar play gave the Americans some momentum as Ryan Hunter (Cochrane Crunch) would give the Americans a 3-1 lead.

The Americans would get contributions from Gottschalk, Budd, Slater Doggett (Belfast Giants), and Zenon Konopka (Buffalo Sabres) to leave the second period with a demanding 7-1 lead. 

Canada would come out with vengeance to start the third, scoring just 30 seconds into the third period as Jake Smith (Birmingham Bulls) would open the scoring in the third period. Another Canadian goal by Matthew Ferrari (Laurentian Univ.) would quickly be answered by a breakaway goal from Caggiula to make it 8-3.

What could have been the back-breaking goal for Canada, only ignited them as Matteo Peca (Cochrane Crunch) started an offensive explosion for the Canadians. Goals by Connor Van Weelie (Aurora Tigers,) Kevin Noble (Coventry Blaze), and Jake Smith would bring the Canadians to within one with less than eight minutes to go.

It appeared that the Canadians were running out of time before Anthony Repaci (Orlando Solar Bears) was able to beat Baer with just 31 seconds left in the third period to send the game to Overtime.

The Americans had a few good chances in Overtime before Tyler Davis (Laurier Univ.) snuck past the Canadian defense and buried it under the crossbar to win it for the Americans.

This was a great event and a lot of fun to attend, a big congratulations to Kerry Goulet, Toni Miil, and the rest of the Ice Hockey Classic team for putting on this event. Also, we’d like to give a shoutout to the broadcast team of Nico Cardarelli, Steven Ellis, and ParaSport TV, the staff at Paramount Ice, and all the sponsors for making this a special event. Additionally, we’d like to thank our partners in Australia, the Agile Group, and the Kaurna Boomerangs out of Adelaide, for their continued support over the years.

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Vegas Golden Knights Team Report

By Neil Becker

Embed from Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights grabbed off-season headlines when they traded two fan favorites in future hall of famer goalie Marc Andre-Fleury and veteran enforcer Ryan Reeves.

Fleury, who this past year posted an impressive 26-10 record with a .989 GAA, was in late July un- expectantly traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. This veteran goalie, who was originally taken by Vegas in the June 2 017 expansion draft, was dealt for 23- year-old prospect Mikael Hakkarainen. Fleury, who was drafted first overall in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, would go on to play 13 years in Pittsburgh followed by four with the Golden Knights. Playing with Vegas, Fleury ended up with 117 regular season wins. Heading into next year Fleury, who is otherwise known as ‘Flower’ sits third all- time with 492 career wins.

Also in July, Vegas pulled the trigger on a deal which sent rugged forward Ryan Reeves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a third -round pick in next summer’s NHL entry draft.  Reeves, in what was also his fourth season with the Knights scored this past season one goal and five points in 37 games.

Another versatile forward leaving Vegas is Unrestricted Free Agent center Tomas Nosek who signed a two-year contract valued at $3.5 million dollars with the Boston Bruins. Last year, in what was his fourth year with Vegas, Nosek, who is 29 years-old, scored 8 goals and 18 points in 38 games played.

Meanwhile 27- year-old Swedish goaltender Oscar Dansk, who competed in only one game with Vegas last year, and has been in the organization for four years signed a two-year contract with HC Spartak Moscow in the KHL.  

In taking a bold gamble, the Golden Knights acquired former 2017 second overall pick, Nolan Patrick from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Cody Glass.

Patrick, who plays center, was originally drafted second by the Philadelphia Flyers. Following three seasons in Philly, he was involved this past July in a blockbuster trade which sent him to the Nashville Predators. Shortly afterwards, he was traded to Vegas for Glass who was taken sixth in the same draft as Patrick. Patrick, who missed the 2019-20 season, came back last year with the Flyers to score 4 goals and 9 points in 52 games.

Shortly after trading Fleury, the Golden Knights pulled off another big move as they sent defenceman Nick Holden and a 2022 third round pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for scoring winger Evgenii Dadonov. In his one and only season with Ottawa, Dadonov scored 13 goals along with 20 points in 55 games played.

This off-season Vegas also pulled the trigger on a one-year $750K deal on 28- year-old forward Sven Baertschi who last season scored 5 goals and 14 points in 24 games with the AHL’s Utica Comets. Baertschi, who was originally selected 13th overall in the 2011 draft by the Calgary Flames, last played NHL hockey back in 2019-20 when he registered two assists in six games.

Meanwhile, centerman Patrick Brown, who stands at 6’1” and 210 pounds, re-signed for two years with Vegas. Last season he played 9 games for the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights where he scored 3 goals and 8 points. He also played four games for the Golden Knights.

In mid-July, the Golden Knights traded their 2022 fourth round draft pick along with Nick DeSimone to the Rangers in exchange for centreman Brett Howden. Last year, which was Howden’s third with the Rangers, he scored a goal and seven points in 42 games played.

Another off-season move included not signing unrestricted free agent centerman Danny O’Regan who agreed on July 29, 2021 to a two-year, two-way contract with the Anaheim Ducks.  O’Regan is coming off a season with the Golden Knights AHL affiliate Henderson Silver Knights, which saw him score 16 goals and 37 points in 37 games played.

Leaving the Golden Knights organization is 27- year-old left winger Tyrell Goulbourne who on August 10, 2021, signed a one-year contract with the Belleville Senators, who are affiliated with the Ottawa Senators. Last year, Goulbourne scored a goal and two points in 16 games with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights

Strengthening their goaltending Vegas signed free agent Laurent Brossoit to a two-year contract worth $4.65 million dollars. Last season, Brossoit who played for the Winnipeg Jets posted a 6-6 record in 14 games with a 2.42 GAA.

A big move came on the blueline when in July Vegas re-signed 33- year-old Alec Martinez to a three- year deal worth $15 million dollars. Martinez is coming off a season which saw him play 53 games where he scored 9 goals along with 32 points and a +26 rating.

Meanwhile free agent defenceman Carl Dahlstrom, who played 17 games last year with the AHL’s Silver Knights signed in late July a one -year, two-way contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Another free agent defenceman to leave the Golden Knights organization is Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year two-way contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

Once again it should be an exciting upcoming season for the Golden Knights who once again are one of a handful of teams with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.  

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