December 20 2015 07:00AM
It’s been a weird year in Tampa Bay. This time last year, the Lightning were firing on all cylinders. Steven Stamkos had an excellent season, Victor Hedman had emerged as an elite defenceman, the Triplet Line was taking the league by storm, and they rolled all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they were eventually taken down in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Then it all started falling apart. The team is sitting on the outside of the playoffs and they look like a shell of last year’s group and the dark reality that Lightning fans were repressing deep in the shadows on their soul has exploded into the limelight, as Stamkos inches closer and closer to free agency every day. And it doesn’t stop there, as Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and many, many others are in need of new deals over the next couple of years. Can Steve Yzerman make this thing work, or is the Lightning dynasty in Tampa over before it even began?
December 18 2015 02:00PM
Johnny Gaudreau is a special hockey player.
Way back when, in 2011, the Calgary Flames selected him in the fourth round and hoped that his speed, tenacity and puck-artistry from the United States Hockey League could someway, somehow translate to the collegiate level and that hopefully he'd turn into a decent professional someday. And here we are, roughly four and a half years later, and the Gaudreau selection seems like one of the most significant steals of the past few years of NHL drafting.
But now that Gaudreau has established himself as a bonafide, top-flight NHL scorer, the Flames will have to open up their pocket-book and pay the man. So what should we expect to see when Gaudreau's new deal is announced?
Nation World HQ
December 18 2015 06:00AM
Vancouver TV ratings down, Jets unrestricted free agents want big dough, did the Leafs accidentally tamper with Steven Stamkos, Flames and Oilers righting the ship, Taylor Hall is Edmonton's beating heart, a hockey advent calendar, Leafs new jersey ideas, Ryan Callahan drops Scott Hartnell, fantasy hockey and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by DraftKings.
December 17 2015 10:51AM
The Winnipeg Jets' General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has some big decisions up ahead. The Jets currently sit tied for 2nd last in the Western Conference and last in the Central Division. They have two huge pending free agents with Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, while they also have a major part of their future looking for raises with Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.
Well, we've decided to help out Chevy make some of these decisions with a series of investigations on the Jets. We'll take a look on where the Jets are and where they could be.
We'll start our series with a breakdown on how the Jets' roster compares against playoff teams.
December 17 2015 08:00AM
Over the past few days, I’ve been looking at the unenviable situation Garth Snow has to deal with in Brooklyn this summer. Finally, after year after year of mediocrity, terrible management, paying Alexei Yashin to not play for the team, and a seemingly endless rebuild, the New York Islanders are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and they appear to be set for an extended playoff run. That said, they also have to weigh the possibility of losing two of their best forwards, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, for nothing come July as they’re both set to hit free agency.
Like Okposo, Nielsen is having one of the best seasons of his career at just the right time. He’s third on the Islanders in scoring with 12 goals and 10 assists, and he has the best possession numbers on the team despite starting roughly 53 per cent of his shifts in the defensive zone. Obviously Nielsen’s value as a two-way producer is undeniable, but he’s going to be 32-years old at the beginning of the 2016-17 season, so can the Islanders afford to offer him a new contract?