Who are the frontrunners for the Norris Trophy?

Cam Lewis
February 14 2015 07:30AM

We’re into the final stretch of the season, and as playoff races heat up, so do the races for individual awards. As it sits right now, this is a really close race. The pack is being led by a combination of familiar faces who always seem to be in the discussion for the league’s top defenceman, but a duo from Calgary has broken into the pack. While there have been a whole bunch of really strong performances from defencemen this season, these five players seem to stand out more than others.

Let’s take a look

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An early look at the Vezina Trophy race

Cam Lewis
February 10 2015 08:00AM

We’re into the final stretch of the season, and as playoff races heat up, so do the races for individual awards. In terms of the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goaltender, there has been a handful of really strong goaltending performances this season, but the race appears to be between three guys who have unmatched value to their respective teams. 

Let’s take a look.

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Eyes on the Dollar: Philadelphia Flyers

Cam Lewis
February 07 2015 08:00AM

As we all know at this point, the strength Canadian dollar is directly tied to the NHL’s revenue, and subsequently, the league’s salary cap. Gary Bettman suggested a couple weeks ago that if the Canadian dollar stayed at $0.80, the cap ceiling would end up around $71.5 million. If that’s the case, multiple teams who were relying on a jump in the cap ceiling to give them some much needed breathing room will be forced to change their plans. 

The Philadelphia Flyers are one of those teams. Frankly, the Flyers are in cap hell even if the cap rises to a higher figure than the one Bettman suggested. They’re heading into next season with basically their entire roster intact, as they have $67.327 million tied up in 11 forwards, five defenceman (and Chris Pronger who will hit the LITR) and one goalie. As a result, they’ll have ~$4.0 million to fill a couple of holes. (They’ll also be given ~$5.0 million to replace Pronger through the LTIR replacement bonus.)

That doesn’t seem too daunting, does it? 

Well, if they want to continue to be a middling team, sure, it won’t be overly difficult. But if they want to actually improve their roster, they’re going to have to do something about a lot of really, really ugly contracts that aren’t going away any time soon. The Flyers may need to sell high on some of their most valuable assets now in order to rebuild for a time down the road when they don't have quite so much of their cap tied into dead weight. 

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The Nashville Predators proved they're a legitimate contender in Rinne's absence

Cam Lewis
February 05 2015 08:15AM

On Wednesday, Pekka Rinne was cleared to rejoin the Nashville Predators, meaning he’ll likely be back in net today against the Anaheim Ducks.

When Rinne got injured three weeks ago, the Nashville Predators owned the best record in the NHL. At the time, he had accounted for all 29 of his team’s wins and had earned some recognition as a potential Hart Trophy candidate. In three weeks without Rinne, the Predators posted a 4-2-2 record, maintaining their spot at the top of the league’s standings, which they share in a tie with the same Ducks they’ll face today.

Without Rinne in net, the Predators were forced to prove to the league that they weren’t pretenders who gained success on the back of exceptionally strong goaltending. 

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Eyes on the Dollar: Los Angeles Kings

Cam Lewis
February 02 2015 10:18PM

Should I give the same introduction again? We all know the Canadian dollar is plummeting, and we all know it’s a nightmare for the NHL. It’s going to really hurt Canadian markets, but since a large chunk of the league’s hockey related revenue is based on Canadian teams, American teams are also going to be hit with some repercussions. In short, the most noticeable effect all teams will face is the salary cap. While many expected the cap to rise to around $75 million before the 2015-16 season, Gary Bettman suggested a couple weeks ago that if the Canadian dollar fell to $0.80, the cap ceiling would be around $71.5 million. The Canadian dollar is now at $0.79, so if this trend continues, the cap could realistically fall even lower than the figure Bettman gave. 

This predicament will certainly throw a wrench in the plans of the Los Angeles Kings. Much like many other teams in the league, the Kings were banking on the prospect of the cap ceiling going up in order to address issues like improving their roster and giving new contracts to impending free agents. Unfortunately for them, the cap won’t be rising as much as they expected, meaning they’ll have to make some tough decisions on some of their key players, especially if they can’t find landing spots for their dead weight. Stashing Mike Richards in the minors isn’t going fix this problem. 

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