The Nation Notebook: NHL Draft, Vegas Picks, and the Free Agent Window Begins

Christian Pagnani
June 26 2017 07:05AM

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The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

The draft is over and now the focus shifts to free agency. Picks were traded, rumoured players were finally moved and a few that were guaranteed are still awaiting a new destination, while some surprising names switched teams. Las Vegas has their roster and their inaugural draft class to boot. The window to talk to pending unrestricted free agents has opened. Matt Duchene hasn't been traded yet and what's going on with Ilya Kovalchuk?

Trades!

Some of the most rumoured players to be moved ended up were finally traded. Jordan Eberle, Travis Hamonic, and Dereks Stepan all found new homes. But some surprising names were also on the move. Artemi Panarin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Brandon Saad weren't particularly found in most rumours around the league but were traded before the draft.

The Saad/Panarin trade might have been the most unexpected blockbuster, but it made sense afterwards with the Blackhawks' getting swept and wanting to cash in on Panarin's short contract for Saad's longer term. The Blackhawks couldn't afford Panarin past his contract, while Saad has two more years under contract.

Brayden Schenn was sent to St. Louis in an interesting trade that saw Philadelphia receive two first-round draft picks and a cap dump in Jori Lehtera. Trading Ryan Reaves allowed the Blues to trade back into the first round. Schenn isn't a particular driver of offense, but found a fit on the Flyers' power play.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Las Vegas has their official roster, and well, really? You can see their picks here, and while they did accumulate a wealth of draft picks and a few interesting prospects, it still feels like they left teams off the hook a bit instead of extracting a much better player. Your mileage may vary, but I take Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella, even Eric Stall, over Erik Haula, prospect Alex Tuch, and a third-round pick pretty easily. They could have taken a good forward from the New York Islanders, but received the 15th pick, Mikhail Grabovski's contract, and Jean Francois Berube not to. Vegas could flip those players for a better haul than what they got for not selecting them, and if not, keep them and move them at the trade deadline when teams go crazy.

They had a nice draft, though. Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, and Eric Brannstrom are nice building blocks for an expansion franchise for a team that clearly decided to ice a non-competitive roster. We'll wait and see if they flip some more players after moving David Schlemko and Trevor Van Riemsdyk. They have currently have 30 contracts and 10 defensemen.

Free Agency Window Opens

As of now teams can talk to pending unrestricted free agents, but definitely won't negotiate any terms of salary at all before free agency opens on July 1st.

There's already rumours players like Joe Thornton and Michael Del Zotto have received interest from multiple teams so it should be a wild week of whose talking to who and whose visiting which team. Who knows, after teams feel like they might have someone in the bag, maybe some trade targets get revisited around July 1st.

What about Duchene and Kovalchuk?

Matt Duchene was dubbed the most likely player to be traded by Bob McKenzie, yet the NHL draft has passed and Duchene still remains a member of the Colorado Avalanche. There are rumours Colorado general manager Joe Sakic is asking too much, and that might be irritating the Duchene camp as they await a move.

As for Ilya Kovalchuk, it seemed like there was a lot of talk that took a backseat to Las Vegas and the NHL draft. If Kovalchuk can only be moved after July 1st, maybe things unfold closer to then. Columbus seems like an obvious fit as they want to improve their forwards and Kovalchuk's former linemate Artemi Panarin was just acquired. The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline says that's not necessarily the case, but Columbus' search for offense continues as they look for a top-six center.

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The Worst Ballot Possible For Each Award

Scott Maxwell
June 22 2017 03:58PM


The NHL awards are always quite controversial. Despite the fact that it might be pretty straightforward to, you know, pick the best player for each award, it's never that easy, as not everyone has the same mindset. While most people tend to make the correct picks, sometimes people make the wrong picks. Like, really wrong. So, it's time to expose them.

I present to you the worst ballet's possible for each award. Basically, I'll be looking at each award, and picking the worst candidate given a vote in each position. So, the worst candidate for a first place vote, the worst candidate for a second place vote, etc. While we won't know who actually made these votes, just imagine that it's Steve Simmons, or someone of that ilk.

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2017 NHL Entry Draft Mock Draft

Shawn Reis
June 22 2017 12:06PM

The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is just one day away, and thanks to the Vegas Golden Knights finally selecting their roster there's some added clarity on who exactly will own what picks Friday night. Here's one final mock draft to get you ready for the big day:

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Feature: Remembering the birth of the Predators, Thrashers, Wild, and Blue Jackets

Cam Lewis
June 21 2017 10:26AM

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The National Hockey League underwent a massive period of growth during the 1990s. At the 1989 Board of Governors meeting, the league put forward the goal to expand from 21 clubs to 28 by the turn of the century.

In the early 90s, the league added the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to the family. It also saw the movement of the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas, the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado, Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix, and Hartford Whalers to North Carolina.

The facelift was completed in 1997. The NHL awarded franchises to Nashville, Atlanta, St. Paul, and Columbus, meaning the goal of 28 teams would be surpassed. Not all four franchises would come into the league at the same time, though. The Nashville Predators got to come into the league first because their arena was already built. After that, the Atlanta Thrashers would join in 1999 and the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets would follow in 2000.

Earlier, I looked at the expansion teams of the early 90s, what worked for them and what didn’t. Now, let’s look back on Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Columbus, four teams who have seen massively different results and what the Vegas Golden Knights can learn from them as they navigate through their expansion process.

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Because It's the Cap: Washington Capitals Offseason Preview

Megan Kim
June 20 2017 10:39AM

It's a familiar script, at this point, isn't it? Capitals dominate regular season. Capitals dispatch first round opponents with relative ease. Capitals run into Pittsburgh Penguins in second round. Capitals slink to the golf courses and/or to the IIHF World Championships in defeat.

Watching Alexander Ovechkin and company lose like this isn't fun for anyone except Pittsburgh Penguins fans, but who cares about them? They have back to back Stanley Cups, they don't need this too. 

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