CONFIRMED: Oilers Sign Russell


By Mike Meyer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

Only hours removed of trading forward, Nail Yakupov to St. Louis, Oilers General Manager, Peter Chiarelli made his second move of Friday night by signing free agent defenseman, Kris Russell.

The move sparks wonder and curiosity about Chiarelli’s leadership and boldness to change his club. First trading former 2010 1st overall draft pick, Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman, Adam Larsson. Next trading former 2012 first overall, Nail Yakupov for AHL forward, Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 3rd round draft pick. And now acquiring another left-handed defenseman in Russell. His moves to enhance and help his club on the ice have certainly been bold, questionable, and interesting.

Russell will join the Oilers as the sixth left-handed defenseman on their roster. This is not to undermine the value that Russell can bring to this lineup, it is simply stating that a move perhaps was made out of desire, and not need. Russell can indeed help out this blue line, as the 29-year-old has averaged 23 minutes of ice time over the last three seasons, along with 177 total points over a career 573 NHL games between the Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, and the Dallas Stars. Though he might not be the sexy defenseman that Oilers fans were looking to quarterback the Powerplay for the next several years, Kris has shown that he does have the ability to help in all aspects of the game. Russell is a defensive first style defenseman that can help out on the penalty kill that saw a below league average, 80.71% success rate. In the 62 games that Russell appeared in last season, he was second in blocked shots with 210. As the signing may not fit a “need” that the Oilers fans are searching for, perhaps head coach Todd McLellan feels comfortable with the group that he has and will be bringing Russell in on his 1 year deal to do what he does best: block shots. If indeed that is what the Oilers are searching for and what they feel is the true need for this team, the Oilers certainly got their man.

As Chiarelli’s moves may have not been overly appealing to fantasy matters or even that armchair general managers would make to help out their squad, Chiarelli has made hockey trades that he feels will help strengthen areas that his team is weakest in. If his club can see an increase in the overall standings and dare I say push for a playoff berth, this proves to be a success. With the regular season set to begin just days away, the impact of his moves will begin to take shape.

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BREAKING NEWS: Blues Acquire Yakupov


By Mike Meyer

St. Louis Blues Writer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

The St. Louis Blues have come out of nowhere and dealt again with Edmonton Oilers. This time, former first overall draft choice Nail Yakupov. And what for? AHL player Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 3rd round draft pick. The condition being if Nail scores just 15 goals this season, the 3rd round draft choice becomes a 2018 2nd round pick. 15 goals might not seem that much, but Nail has only reached over 15 once in his career which came in his rookie season from 2012-13.

Yakupov will join a cast of young Blues stars as they transition from David Backes and Troy Brouwer to the likes of Robby Fabbri, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko. St. Louis should hope for plenty of talent and structure to help bring the best in this low risk, high reward trade.
Yakupov has played 252 NHL career games where he has posted 50 goals and 111 total points.

Injuries Spark Opportunity for Fontaine


By Mike Meyer

Dallas Stars Writer

 

With injuries already in the offseason and preseason training to players such as: Tyler Seguin, Mattias Janmark, Cody Eakin, Devin Shore, Radek Faksa, Jason Dickinson, and Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars General Manager, Jim Nil was in luck to find an experienced, young NHLer to help with his club. Just days after being released from his PTO with the Florida Panthers, Dallas has signed forward Justin Fontaine to a new PTO. If a fit arises, Fontaine could play up and down the lineup, and provide the Stars with experience that up-and-coming players from the AHL Texas Stars and junior leagues may not have just yet.

 

Fontaine, 28, played the last 3 seasons with the Minnesota Wild where he has posted 68 points in 197 career games. Fontaine came in to the Wild’s system as a free agent in 2011 and suited up in the NHL for the first time in 2013. Through constant line shuffling and line mates, and at times watching from the press box to make room in the lineup for veterans, Fontaine arguably never had a way to grow at a consistent rate in Minnesota. With the ability to play perhaps with a better system and opportunity, Fontaine could find success in Dallas through Lindy Ruff’s system. If signed, Fontaine can quickly become a very sneaky and underrated asset for the Stars.

Connor McDavid Becomes Youngest Captain in NHL History


By Mike Meyer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

After months of speculation and wonder, the Edmonton Oilers have officially named Connor McDavid their Captain. At 19 years old, 8 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day, Connor has been named the youngest Captain in NHL history. Since before the 2015 NHL draft, McDavid was categorized as the best thing to happen to hockey since Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky, and as the next big generational talent.

 

Before being drafted first overall to the Oilers in 2015, McDavid played in the OHL for the Erie Otters where he racked up 285 points in 167 games. His first year with Edmonton, limited to only 45 games due to a broken clavicle during a game against Philadelphia, he was able to provide 16 goals and 48 points. After finishing third in the Calder Trophy rankings, McDavid will be heavily leaned on to lead Edmonton back to success and restore the Oilers name.

Will Rieder be Traded?


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

Coyotes winger Tobias Rieder has made quite the name for himself in Arizona. Since being traded from Edmonton in 2013 for Kale Kessy, Rieder has notched 58 points over 154 games in both of his NHL seasons, for the Coyotes. At just the beginning of his career, Rieder is off to a great start garnering attention from around the league with his speed, skill and defensive play, along with his most recent appearance with the underdog finalists Team Europe in the resurrected World Cup of Hockey. More recently, however, the press has been surrounding the current contract talks between his camp and the Arizona Coyotes.

 

Rieder remains an RFA after his most recent three-year, $925k deal expired last season. His play as of last year demands a pay raise, there is no doubt, and both sides prepared for negotiations heading into the off-season. But that’s exactly where things hit a standstill, negotiations. Reports indicate the most recent attempt at a deal met with Chayka and the Coyotes offering $2.2 million per year while Rieder’s camp requested closer to $2.5-$2.7 million per year. The pay isn’t far off, but the term in mind for both sides is whats vastly different. While GM Chayka suggested a lower-price qualifying offer as well to compliment his longer term one, presumably to get Rieder back at the negotiating table for one year and to see if his play keeps improving, Rieder and his agent Darren Ferris are not impressed. “It would be best for both parties if they just traded him.” stated Ferris in an email to Craig Morgan of ArizonaSports.com.

 

What is causing a rift here, is term. Arizona wants to ultimately lock Tobi in long-term at a team-friendly price, and Rieder wants the ability to earn his raise sooner than later. Such is the plight of an RFA who’s potential is unforeseen by many. Shooting up from the same round (4th) of the same draft (2011) as the player traded for him, Rieder has risen from AHL probable to NHL regular. He has certainly made a case for himself with his 16-point increase to last season from the one prior, but with the way negotiations are looking, it might be too little too late to wet the lips of the Coyotes. With cheap, highly touted prospects on entry-level contracts itching to break onto the NHL roster, Rieder has less leverage than he would have two or three years ago.

 

Trade rumours have started to swirl, speculations have begun, names and propositions are being posted, tweeted and blogged. None of this means Rieder and the Coyotes being a doomed relationship is for certain, but with KHL deals offered to him, trades possibly being drafted up by other teams, and time till the season’s start wearing thin, Tobias Rieder has a lot of decisions to make and not a lot of time to make them.

Blackhawks Training Camp Standouts


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By Sam Yoder

Chicago Blackhawks Writer

 

On September 24th 2016 the Chicago Blackhawks held their 8th annual training camp festival. This is the main event of the training festival and features a “Red vs White” scrimmage of prospects and current NHL players. The roster for this year’s game included well known Blackhawks players such as Brent Seabrook, Scott Darling, Andrew Desjardins, and Michal Rozsival, alongside top tier prospects such as Alexander DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz, and Mark McNeill. The format for the event is a regulation NHL game followed by a 10 minute 3v3 fourth period, with players approximately evenly split between the two teams. After attending the event a few people players stood out, and I will mention a few of them here.

 

Firstly, 22 year old center Vincent Hinostroza should be relatively well known to most avid Blackhawks fans after playing his first 7 games last season, and he stood out for team Red after scoring two goals in the 3v3 period, both of which were after some impressive personal efforts in the slot. He was defensively and offensively responsible all game, and was consistently in the right place, doing the right things, with and without the puck. If he gets the chance I can see him slotting in on the third line as a real depth contributor this season, most likely on the wing instead of down the middle.

 

Another young player I was happily surprised by was 2016 second round draft pick Alexander DeBrincat. He is generously listed at 5’7” and in the thick of it he does look small compared to the other players. You quickly forget this as you watch him weave through defensemen and work his way towards the net. He plays a fearless brand of hockey around the net, and if he grows an inch or two and puts a few pounds on he will be a rock solid prospect, and don’t forget he is only 18!

 

Another player with a lot to prove is Richard Panik. The first line left wing role is still very much open to all comers and Panik seems to be one of the best options. He might not bring the same amount of pure talent as previous Blackhawks players such as Sharp and Saad, but he is absolutely relentless, and can snipe a shot from time to time. His ability to both cause and pounce on turnovers impressed me a lot last year, and his performance in this game was a great illustration of this. I think he would be a great compliment to Jonathan Toews up front, and I think it would be a shame if he doesn’t get the chance.

 

Lastly I must mention a player who stood out to me in a negative way. Jordin Tootoo was recently signed by the Blackhawks to fill a hole which doesn’t exist. There are plenty of tough players on this team, and there isn’t room for a player who’s main method of contribution is simply being a rough and tumble guy who hits everything who moves (especially on a team that already has 6’4”, 220lbs Brandon Mashinter on an incredibly budget friendly $0.575M contract). In contrast to the aforementioned players he was consistently out of position, he constantly dropped passes and gave the puck away, and the rare times he actually was in position to take a shot they tended to end up high and wide. I appreciate the idea of having a veteran presence on a progressively younger team, but if his most impressive stat is his ability to consistently amass 100+ penalty minutes a season, I think he might be better served in the press box, letting some “kids” have their shot at the big time.

Bruins Extend Marchand to 8 Years


By Rob Finney

Boston Bruins Writer

 

The Bruins have extended forward Brad Marchand to an 8yr, $49M extension; for an AAV of $6.125M. Marchand scored a career high 37 goals last season, adding 23 assists for 60pts.

 

This is a massive steal for the Bruins, as everyone, including myself, expected 63 to make seven million per. Instead, Christmas comes early for the B’s and Marchand is made a Bruin for life at an extremely team-friendly deal.

 

Speaking of team-friendly deals, Bergeron and Marchand, one of the league’s best duos, make less than $13M combined.

 

Sweeney makes himself look great here, but the Bruins still lack a top-4, and a top-2 defenseman if they want to be legitimately competitive and be cup contenders.

 

In other words, Sweeney must take advantage of this contract and find a real defenseman. Till then, preseason for the B’s start tonight vs the Blue Jackets, and the NHL season is right around the corner.