Some Cities Are Waking Up About New Arenas And Stadiums

The latest news from Calgary is that negotiations have broken off. These negotiations were about the controversial “Calgary Next” project, a combined NHL-CFL arena-stadium project or at least a single project that replaces the “old” Saddledome. It’s about time. Fans and their elected politicians should not be at the mercy of fickle and arrogant sports leagues that show no loyalty to their communities and expect new facilities every few decades.

Just what is wrong with the Calgary Saddledome? It is 34 years old and with over 19,000 seats, is one of the bigger NHL arenas. It has been renovated once. Suddenly the Calgary Flames ownership and management find it abhorrent. They of course do not want to pay for a new facility themselves and have issued a vague “or else” threat to the city if they do not get their way. (Are there secret negotiations with other cities without NHL hockey underway?)

Responsible representative municipal politicians have every reason to question the Flames and the NHL before plunging money into a possible bottomless pit, especially in this day and age. All they have to do is look at the actions of the even more high and mighty, arrogant NFL to fear the consequences. That wonderful league stripped St. Louis of the Cardinals but promised the city a new team if they would build a modern stadium. St. Louis complied and the NFL was happy to shift the Los Angeles Rams there when L.A. told the league to take a hike about building a new stadium.

Two decades later after Los Angeles finally decided to build a modern stadium, the NFL treacherously allowed the Rams to depart St. Louis because of the unstated reason that Los Angeles is a much bigger market where they can make more money. So much for the new modern stadium St. Louis built that is only a mere two decades old. Now the NFL wants them to build another one. The NFL could have expanded and started the process of becoming a 40 team league which would have hurt no one, but instead decided to unnecessarily hurt loyal fans and blackmail cities into spending billions on new facilities. To make the point plainer, they stripped San Diego and Oakland too. Based on the NFL which punishes cities and their taxpayers even if they comply with their wishes, if you were a Calgary municipal official, would you trust the NHL and the Flames?

The “Calgary Next” project is highly questionable. Costs range from under one billion to nearly to nearly two billion. If the costs cannot be accurate, there is no point even considering the project. Deceitful figures could cost taxpayers millions of dollars which could be spent better elsewhere. Taxpayers and their representatives have every right to delay and question things.

If this were the New York Islanders, a franchise that played in a facility that became obsolete, especially in seating capacity, and then moved to a facility that is even smaller with obstructed seats and bad ice, I would have some sympathy. But in Calgary there has been nothing specifically stated about what is wrong with the Saddledome. If the Flames would lay out what exactly is wrong, perhaps a much cheaper renovation could be attempted. But like spoiled brats they simply complain that the Saddledome is too old at 34 years old and then threaten to blackmail the city by leaving if they don’t get their way. If hockey was not so important to Calgary and its fans, I’d say, “See ya.”

Based on this logic, the 86 year old Empire State Building should have been torn down decades ago and a new one, taller than the Freedom Tower built. If sports franchise owners are this important, what about businessmen and home owners? Over 90% of all North American cities should be torn down and rebuilt at taxpayer expense because these people are “owed” it. But set a standard age date for a facility. 25 years, a quarter of a century and then tear it down. How about building me a new home? I deserve it.

What should be questioned is the whole concept of taxpayers paying for new facilities for rich sports franchise owners. Since when is a North American sports franchise owner “owed” a facility at public expense? Compared to most people, they’ve got too much already. But supporting a team is like a drug for most fans, as bad an addiction as alcohol, tobacco, coffee, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Under its spell, all logic is cast aside in an effort to be the top banana.

This problem is by no means confined to Calgary or even the NHL. Besides Calgary, here are a list of other current NHL related facility problems, excluding the legitimate New York Islander mess.

Quebec City, which wants the Nordiques back and complied with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s terms and built the Videotron, which the NHL loves, only to be thwarted by the ownership factor and have a bidder whom the NHL can’t abide.

Hartford, which also wants the Whalers back and is now willing to spend $250 million to update the XL Center. But if the NHL cannot abide the 34 year old Saddledome, how can they accept a 41 year old renovated building? There has been no comment by the NHL if this renovation will be acceptable. Hartford could be spending $250 million for nothing.

Hamilton, which was a front-running city for an NHL team in the 1980s and built Copps Coliseum in the anticipation of NHL expansion only to lose its potential franchise to Ottawa in a bungled bid. The city was prepared to spend $50 million to upgrade the arena if Jim Balsille managed to pry the Coyotes from Phoenix but the NHL opposed it and Buffalo and Toronto refused to set reasonable compensation terms. Thus the two best Canadian markets, Hamilton and Quebec City, sure money makers, remain without teams.

The possible end of the Phoenix Coyotes. Here at least, common sense may be taking over. Both the NHL and the suburb of Glendale have publicly said that they want to be rid of each other. An arena, specifically built for the Coyotes that is only 13 years old is now completely unsuitable. The NHL wants a new downtown Phoenix arena built. But the Arizona legislature and local taxpayers and their representatives are not going to have much sympathy for a franchise that is abandoning a 13 year old facility that was built specifically for them at taxpayer expense and has only iced a competitive team once in its entire history. Gary Bettman’s dream of a Phoenix team may come to an end.

Ottawa, which claims that its current arena is too far away to attract sellout crowds consistently. The Senators want a new downtown arena built. This may be the only new project that gets off the ground without much controversy.

Seattle, which was the front runner, along with Las Vegas and Quebec in the last NHL expansion. But nobody can decide who will build and where a new arena can be built. And if the potential NBA owner builds the arena, will it have the same problems that the New York Islanders found in the Barclay’s Center that was built specifically for basketball?

Kansas City, which built the Sprint Center to get both an NHL and NBA franchise. But nobody trusts the Kansas City market as being suitable for big league hockey. Kansas City has hosted some NHL preseason exhibition games which were either sellouts or half full depending on who was playing. And local investors did not like the NHL’s greedy $500 million expansion fee. So the Sprint Center remains empty without a professional hockey and basketball tenant.

Milwaukee and San Francisco which are currently building new arenas for the local NBA team. But both new facilities will be far under the current NHL seating medium of over 18,000 seats and since they are being built for a basketball team, they may have the same problems as the Barclay’s Center.

It’s time for some sober second judgment. Every hockey fan wants a local NHL team with a good facility but there has to be a return to common sense first. North American professional sports have become more and more unreal, catering only for rich fans. But when every taxpayer, rich and poor is on the hook for sports facility projects, the mindless worship for professional sports has to be set aside. There is too much money being wasted right now. Some cities are waking up to it. We’ll see what plays out.

 

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Five Players That Could Be NHL Stars

The beauty of being a professional sports fan is choosing what sport,teams, or players one wishes to follow. Some fans like a teams physicalty,some fans are attracted to a players speed,or some fans just enjoy the athletes personality. In this article we will examine five young NHL rookies that could turn into future stars.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     One player to watch is Torontos’ Auston Mathews. Mathews is one of the brightest young players in the game. Mathews was the Leafs  first round pick two years ago. Last year he scored 40 goals and 29assists for 69 points. Only nineteen years old Mathews has the ability to achieve greatness. If he can stay healthy, he could be a very exciting player to watch for years to come .                                                                                                                                                                                Buffalo has one, of the leagues best young defenseman in Jack Eichel. Eichel was a 2015 lottery pick out of Boston University. In his first year Eichel netted 24 goals,and 33assists, for 57 points. Eichel brings, a strong physical presence to the Sabre defense. Eichel made the NHLs’ All Rookie team in 2016/17. Could very well be the face of the franchise for years to come.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Winger David Pastrnak of the Bruins was recently awarded a six year contract. Pastrnak came into his own in 2016/17 scoring 34 goals,and adding 36 assist for 70 points. The question is can he do it year after year?Playing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron can only help.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Florida has a gifted young center in Alexander Barkov.. Last year Barkov scored 21 goals, and 31 assist for 57 points,in only 61 games. The year before he scored 28 goals,  along with 31 assist for 50  points. If Barkov can stay healthy he could be one of the leagues top centers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Like his teammate Alexander Barkov, the Panthers Vincent Trocheck is an up and coming young center. In two years Trocheck has only missed one game while scoring 28 goals and 23 repectively. Trocheck is also one of the teams fastest skaters. If he can stay healthy he could be could be one of the games top scorers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 It’s virtually impossible which players will become stars.But so far this group has made a big impact on their teams. Aside from injury only time can measure how how great a player is.

China NHL Games: Congratulations?, Hilarious Hypocrisy?, Or Bitter Acid Stupidity?

What I expected was displayed at the NHL website about the first NHL exhibition games in China. Three articles – a game summary, a diary article, and most predictable of all, a wholesome article about how the NHL broke the ice and made new fans in China; describing the excitement, especially among the young, impressionable children; how many patrons in a crowd of only 10,000 in Shanghai were wearing NHL jerseys; how many attended the clinics that the Los Angeles Kings offered; how the NHL made its first tiny baby step in the world’s largest population of 1.3 billion; how historical this was; etc. How sweet and lovable.

I’d be prompted to offer my congratulations to Gary Bettman and the NHL – and they do merit some – except when I think about what they could have done, what they SHOULD have done. Hockey is so minuscule in China that at last glance, the Chinese national team was ranked 37th in the world. What will be the end of all this incision? China moves up to 35?

Meanwhile – since before 1972 [when NHL players first began playing in international tournaments against teams from other countries], there have been a group of countries including Germany, Austria, Poland, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Slovenia, Norway, Hungary and Belarus who have been stuck at the “B level” of quality of play, just below the traditional “big 7″ countries of Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, and Finland. In the 45 years since the Canada-USSR match, only Switzerland and Denmark can be said to make much progress. That is not much to show for 4½ decades when it was said back in 1972, that hockey would become “the number 2 sport in the world” behind soccer.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman just revived the dormant World Cup last year and wants to spread the game internationally. The China games are part of this plan. But “realistic” Bettman won’t tackle the real problem. For his revived World Cup there were only six national teams. Usually in international games in other tournaments, games between “big 7″ countries and “B level” ones are boring mismatches, slaughters that put fans to sleep and only fatten up the scoring statistics of “big 7″ stars. To prevent such mismatches, Bettman cooked up two hybrid teams for his revived World Cup, Team Europe and Team North America. Even Slovakia was not invited to send a team.

If he really wants to spread the game internationally – and have a larger, more meaningful hockey World Cup, one that one day might rank with soccer’s World Cup – there has to be a plan to get at least the “B level” countries up to the standard of play of the traditional powers. That would mean a real expansion in prestige for international hockey.

But there is no plan. Instead the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks make a tiny dent in 37th ranked China. In 45 years, hosting once-a-year clinics, and sending out of work NHL coaches to “B level” countries to improve things is not enough. International hockey has not been developed or improved. It’s every country for itself with no well thought out plan to improve the quality of the game. The World Cup could be played by at least 16 national teams. Right now it is played by only six and there is no hope of broadening it in sight. Hockey cannot expand without resolving the quality of play problem. The “B level” countries are still where they were back in 1972. That’s over a dozen teams that could make a significant expansion of international hockey.

It is even worse on the women’s side. Only Canada and the United States can ice quality teams. Women’s hockey has been threatened with expulsion from the Olympics because of the lack of competition. In contrast, international curling, for both men and women, has made real improvements world wide. Maybe it is an unfair comparison or perhaps there is a lesson there somewhere.

Meanwhile while the NHL pats itself on the back because of China, a hilarious piece of hypocrisy has developed for Bettman and the NHL. South Korea has joined at least the ranks of the “B level” countries. Yes, that same South Korea which will host the Winter Olympics next year in 2018 at Pyeongchang, that Gary Bettman and his NHL owners see fit to abandon, has improved its men’s hockey team so much that next year they will be promoted to the top level of the World Championship tournament where they will take on the traditional “big 7″ teams for the first time.

After being awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics, the South Koreans obviously did their hockey homework. They were nowhere in the ranks of hockey a few years ago, but some smart people who knew what they were doing improved the team so much that it can make its debut at the top level of next year’s international tournament. How good is this new, upstart country? Nobody knows. There will be a clearer picture when they play the traditional top bananas next year.

South Korea is where the NHL should have sent the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings, not 37th ranked China. But Pyeongchang is not as glamorous at Shanghai and Beijing and the population of South Korea is “only” 50 million, not 1.3 billion. Money, not the betterment of hockey is talking. Bettman wants hockey to grow internationally, but the NHL pulls out of “unglamorous” South Korea, the one country that has made a real climb in the hockey ranks internationally. If South Korea does anything significant at next year’s World Championship, it will be awfully embarrassing for Bettman and the NHL. If the South Koreans play well enough to stick around at the top level, or [horrors!] actually win a medal, will Bettman be forced to invite them to his 2020 World Cup?

It’s bad enough already. Reward a country that has really improved its hockey program by snubbing their nation of 50 million people by pulling out of their Winter Olympics. That’s a great policy for the NHL which could have a brand new market of 50 million people to tap. But South Korea, like the “B Level” countries is not 1.3 billion China.

So we come to our conclusion judgment of the NHL’s experimental China exhibition games. Congratulations NHL, you have made a little tiny dent in expanding international hockey. For that we grant you a halo over your head. But when it is thought about what could have been done, what should have been done, perhaps it would be a more appropriate response to roll on the floor in hilarity or sit bitterly ruing at the opportunities that have been wasted.

 

Wasted Summer By The NHL

Well the new 2017-18 NHL season is about to dawn and the NHL gets revived after a school teacher two month vacation. In June there were exciting events; the crowning of the 2017 NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL Awards Banquet, the start of the new Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the NHL draft. After that flurry the NHL has taken what it considers a well deserved two month vacation.

Since July 1, the only news at the NHL website is which free agents signed with which teams, and a series of articles about the strength and weakness of every team for next season. The only significant news was that Dallas was chosen to be the site of next year’s NHL draft in honor of its 25th anniversary. Oh yes – the new Detroit arena opened.

Pardon me, but I think that is a poor result for a summer where so many important issues that can affect the NHL long term have gone unresolved. Sure everybody deserves a rest, but I was hoping that at least one major issue would be resolved before the new season started. All the significant issues that were shelved on July 1, are still present now with the start of this new season, and in some cases, with less time to solve them, some with potential dire consequences. Am I the only one who is being a sour, Scroogey, sore-head who thinks that this summer was wasted by the NHL which should have been working maybe even overtime to solve its problems and then putting its feet up for a well-earned rest?

I am not alone if you are a Quebec Nordiques fan and want to be finally taken out of the “suspended” state that the NHL placed Quebec in after the last bungled attempt at expansion. Resolving the Quebec situation would mean that Commissioner Bettman and the NHL finally found an acceptable owner instead of the pro-separatist Pierre Karl Peladeau who made inappropriate and unacceptable public remarks about Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson. Instead one of the two best markets in Canada without an NHL team, one of the more valuable franchises in the NHL, only has a couple of Montreal Canadiens pre-season exhibition games to look forward to next season. Its beautiful new arena, the Videotron which the NHL loves is wasted and empty, a continuing scandal to a summer of nothing.

And as a sidelight, the granting of a new Quebec expansion franchise would allow the NHL to realign at last into a 32 team NFL structure which would allow the league to expand comfortably in the future to at least 40 and even 48 teams. Instead, thanks to the greedy terms of the bungled last attempt at expansion, the league only got the new Las Vegas team, leaving it at 31 teams, one short of the symmetrical 32 necessary for realignment.

The NHL should have been working its tail off this summer at devising some acceptable new expansion terms so that it could expand as soon as possible and resolve the alignment problem. The investment world found a $500 million expansion fee too excessive and backed away during the last expansion leaving only fanatical Las Vegas and Quebec left, a humiliating embarrassment for the NHL. Now they have to either set an appropriate NHL expansion fee or wait indefinitely for investors to accept their current half a billion dollar terms. Expansion and realignment could be delayed for a long, long time.

And on the expansion front, Quebec’s brother franchise, Hartford, which also lost its team in the 1990s finally made some news last season by announcing a $250 million upgrade of the XL Center to a 19,000 seating capacity. So Whaler fans will also want to know the NHL’s opinion about this renovation, whether an upgraded 41 year old building will be suitable to get their team back and any expansion terms and fees that might occur along the way. But there has been no official announcement by the NHL on any of this, during the summer.

And when you mention Hartford now, you also draw in the New York Islanders because the Hartford mayor and the Connecticut governor sent the Islanders ownership a formal letter inviting them to become the new, relocated Hartford Whalers once the XL Center renovation is completed. The Islanders are having arena problems right now. The second-smallest NHL arena, the Barclay’s Center was built for basketball and has bad ice and obstructed view seats for hockey and the Islanders cannot sell it out. Because of the arena, the Islanders had the second worst attendance last year and if they don’t get good attendance they cannot afford to pay star players like John Tavares and build a competitive team.

The very existence of the Islanders depends on getting some kind of new arena, either by a move to Hartford or a new facility to be built in Queens. Time is running out and there have been no announcements about any positive developments this summer. This issue will heat up as the new season progresses. It is rumored that the Barclay Center itself wants the Islanders gone as soon as possible. The sooner this problem is solved the better, before an invisible gun is pointed at the NHL’s head.

And the NHL has a similar problem in its Western Conference, in Phoenix where both the NHL and the citizens of Glendale have publicly said they are finished with each other. Gary Bettman’s attempts to keep a team in Phoenix including the NHL owning the team and keeping it from falling into the lap of Hamilton via Jim Balsille may finally be over if a new arena in the downtown area is not built. But Phoenix and Arizona taxpayers are not going to be too eager to build a new arena for a franchise that is abandoning a facility that is only 13 years old and has only iced a competitive team once in its entire history. And in this summer of NHL nothing, there have been no announcements about a new arena or any move by the Coyotes to another city like Portland or Seattle.

And there have been no announcements about a new Seattle arena finally being built. Seattle, a “done deal”, a front-running city for an NHL franchise during the last horrible NHL expansion somehow bungled its bid like front-runners Houston and Hamilton did in expansions before them. The NHL was specifically courting Seattle because it was a western city that could balance up its conferences but the arena soap opera is going on with no end in sight. The NHL got their 31st team, Las Vegas, but not their 32nd team to balance things and realign.

Also on the arena front, there have been no announcements about the start of new arenas in Calgary and Ottawa. Bettman made a tour of these Canadian cites as well as Phoenix urging a resolution to these facility situations. There seems to be positive sentiment in Ottawa for a new downtown facility, but in Calgary, many politicians and citizens are questioning the terms and financial figures of the proposed “Calgary Next” project. And the Flames added fuel to the fire by threatening to walk out. There is nothing positive to announce in this summer of nothing in either city.

Nor is there anything positive to report internationally. The NHL pulled out of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next year leaving many NHL players threatening to desert their teams and play for their country anyway. As if that was not enough, the South Koreans who have been down in the dregs of international hockey since it began, suddenly improved enough to be promoted to the top level of international play in next year’s World Championship. That could be awfully embarrassing for Bettman who has been trying to revive the World Cup and promote international hockey and for the NHL which has now snubbed a potential new market of 50 million people, if the South Koreans do anything significant in next year’s tournament. But no announcement during the summer of any change of heart has been made.

Likewise, there has been no announcement of any new developments to improve the quality of international hockey below the traditional “big 7″ country level. Vancouver and Los Angeles will play some exhibition games in low ranked, but big market China. And Boston and Los Angeles will host some clinics for the Chinese too. But there have been no formulated plans set out to raise the standard of play particularly in the dozen “B level” countries just below the “big 7″ so that a real expansion of international hockey and the revived World Cup can be made. Just the same old thing since 1972 when NHL professionals began playing in international tournaments.

All these issues plus others that were shelved during the summer are still there when the NHL comes back from vacation. Thwarted hopes for expansion and realignment, the fate of the Winter Olympics, unresolved arena issues, improvement of international hockey, are still now hotter than ever. Am I the only person who is a sourpuss because it seems to me that nothing was done on these issues? Will the NHL come to rue that some of these issues might have been solved or at least worked on during the past summer? Can these issues continue to be shelved forever?

 

2018 NHL Draft Preliminary Rankings

 The 2018 NHL Draft will be one of the deepest ones ever for blue liners, as 15 defenders could possibly be selected in the first round in June 2018.  Leading the group of defencemen is future superstar Rasmus Dahlin, a dynamic two way defenceman.  Andrei Svechnikov, a big winger, will challenge him for the honour of being picked first overall.  Dark horses Adam Boqvist and Filip Zadina could also try for first overall.  All that being said, it’s still early, and a lot can change between now and June.

    1. Rasmus Dahlin

LD, 6’2, 181 lbs

Dahlin, who is projected to go 1st overall, is a two way defenceman with enormous offensive upside. A fantastic skater, Dahlin has drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson. Dahlin uses his exceptional vision and passing skill to make plays and move the puck up ice. He can singlehandedly create opportunities, using his skating and hands to get past defenders. Doesn’t have a cannon, but is shot is hard and accurate. Great hitter, punishes forwards in open ice. He’s pretty good in his own end, he will improve in the corners and in front of the net as he gets bigger. Needs to make the simpler play more often, as he often makes very risky plays that will not work in the NHL, but he has shown coachability, so I have no doubts that he will address that. A generational talent, looks like a future Norris winner.

    2. Andrei Svechnikov

LHD RW, 6’2, 187 lbs

Svechnikov is a big skilled power forward. He primarily creates opportunities by driving to the net, where he uses his hands to finish. A natural scorer, Svechnikov skates well and has a good shot. His combination of skills will likely lead to extreme NHL success. Svechnikov will look to add on to a wildly successful USHL season with an equally good year in the OHL.

    3. Adam Boqvist

RD, 5’11, 170 lbs

Adam Boqvist is a highly skilled offensive defenceman. He skates well and has good vision and passing. He scores a lot of goals from the top of the circle after walking in from the blue line. Boqvist is active in the offensive zone, he’s always moving around trying to get open to unleash his shot. The majority of his points come from his shooting and passing, which stands out in a draft class full of dangling defencemen. His style of play should translate well to the NHL.

    4. Filip Zadina

RHD LW, 6’0, 170 lbs

A scorer-playmaker combo, Zadina does a lot of things well. He skates well, has nice hands and a hard, accurate shot. Nice vision, makes good decisions while under pressure. Great passer, passes are hard and on the tape. Overall he’s a great player with no real flaws. He and Svechnikov are on another level compared to the other forwards in this draft. Really talented player, could be a surprise #1 on draft day.

    5. Quinn Hughes

LD, 5’11, 170 lbs

Quinn Hughes is a two way defenceman that can rush the puck very well. Good skater, he’s fast and good on his edges. Pass first mentality, doesn’t really take a lot of shots, likely because his shot isn’t too good. Slapshot is below average, low power on it. Wrist shot is okay. Can make some nice passes. Good on both sides of the puck. Safe with the puck, doesn’t make high risk plays but still generates offence at a high rate. Impressive player.

    6. Ryan Merkley

RD, 5’11, 179 lbs

An offensive defenceman capable of putting up a lot of points. Good skater, nice shot. Smart player, very patient, waits for space to open up. Good hands, has scored some highlight reel, end to end goals. Good PP QB. Most impressive part of his game for me is his vision, he always knows where everybody is on the ice. Good at disguising his passes. Has struggled with turnovers, largely due to poor decision making. Sometimes takes poor penalties when frustrated. Defence is an issue, needs to improve there. Struggles with consistency. Some concern about how well his game will translate to the NHL, as his end to end attempts won’t work as often in the NHL. Will likely become more of a playmaker, utilizing his vision. A talented player, Merkley has the offensive skill to go high in the draft, but he’ll need to improve his defence, consistency and attitude.

    7. Joe Veleno

C, 6’1, 190 lbs

A skilled two way centre, Veleno has elite skill. A playmaker, he uses his IQ and passing ability to create oppurtunities. Great skater, has a smooth skating stride, agile. Good puck skills, can get by players with ease. Needs to improve his shot, not very powerful at this point. Game changing skill, 1C potential.

    8. Akil Thomas

RC/W, 5’11, 170 lbs

An offensive centre (that can play some wing) with the skills to take over a game, Akil Thomas has impressed on a terrible Niagara IceDogs team. He does everything well in the offensive zone. He skates well, he has a great first step and impressive lateral movement. He’s an elite playmaker, utilizing his top end vision and hockey IQ. Good hands and shot. Needs to improve away from the puck and add strength. Lots of offensive potential, could be a future top line forward.

    9. Bode Wilde

RD, 6’2, 170 lbs

A big two way defenceman, difference maker on the blue line. Skates well, transitions are smooth. Good puck mover. Big slap shot from the point, a lot of power on it. Calm with the puck, rarely panics. Shuts opponents down physically. Solid two way defenceman with offensive upside, top pairing potential.

    10. Ty Smith

LD, 5’11, 174 lbs

Smart defenceman with skill. Great skater, great hockey sense, great puck mover. Drawn comparisons to Duncan Keith. Very sound defensively, smart in his own end, good positionally and one on one. Solid two way defenceman with offensive upside.

11. Brady Tkachuk

C/LW, 6’3, 196 lbs

12. Rasmus Kupari

C, 5’11, 163 lbs

13. Jett Woo

D, 6’0, 202 lbs

14. Oliver Wahlstrom

C, 6’1, 198 lbs

15. Jack McBain

C, 6’3, 183 lbs

16. Jared McIsaac

D, 6’3, 209 lbs

17. Simon Appelquist

LW, 6’0, 172 lbs

18. Jesper Kotkaniemi

RW, 6’1, 186 lbs

19. Calen Addison

D, 5’9, 180 lbs

20. Anderson MacDonald

LW, 6’2, 203 lbs

21. Ty Dellandrea

C, 6’1, 186 lbs

22. Gleb Babintsev

D, 6’0, 198 lbs

23. Evan Bouchard

D, 6’2, 178 lbs

24. David Levin

LW, 5’10, 170 lbs

25. Nicolas Beaudin

D, 5’10, 161 lbs

26. Alexander Alexeyev

D, 6’3, 190

27. Ryan McLeod

C, 6’1, 183 lbs

28. Xavier Bouchard

D, 6’2, 175 lbs

29. Joel Farabee

LW, 5’11, 160 lbs

30. Giovanni Vallati

D, 6’1, 179 lbs

31. Benoit-Oliver Groulx

C, 6’1, 176 lbs

Three NHL Teams That Will Make A Serious Run For The STANLEY Cup in 2017/18

With NHL training camps underway this week hockey fans can start to make their predictions. Last year the Penguins skated, to their second straight Stanley Cup .A seven game hard fought series over Nashville. The Predators were one , of the most surprising teams in the NHL last season.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The start of training camp means every team gets a fresh new start. During the summer teams retooled and got ready for the upcoming season. Three teams to keep an eye on are Edmonton, Dallas, and Boston. Dallas and Edmonton  were very active this past off season.For the Bruins they were fairly quiet. Boston was busy negotiating a long term deal for David Pastrnak. Still no deal has yet to be announced.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dallas was the busiest team this off season. The Stars added veteran goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop. Bishop was traded to LA at the trade deadline,but ended up signing with Dallas this summer. The Stars will have great depth at goaltending ,as Bishop and KariLehtonen will split the time. The biggest move was signing long time NHL coal Ken Hitchcock to a contract. Hitchcock’s experience will greatly help Dallas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With captain Jamie Benn,and Tyler Sguin the Stars should be much better than their 34-37 and 70 point record. Hitchcock has the experience  to mold the Stars into a playoff team. Along with Bishop , Dallas acquired defenseman center Martin Hanzal,and forward Tyler Pitlick.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Edmonton is another team to keep an eye  on. The Oilers rewarded star center Connor Mc David to an eight year 100 million dollar deal. Mc David was was one of the leagues best players last year. The Oilers selected McDavid number one overall in 2015 Mc David and teammate Leon Draisaitl  together make the Oilers a very scary team.                                                                                                                                                                                                   General manager Peter Chairelli has got the Oilers back to respectability in just three years.If the Oilers can play solid defense in front of goalie Cam Talbot they will be a team to challenge the Penguins in the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Boston under first year head coach Bruce Cassidy is another team that will surprise a lot of fans. Currently the Bruins are in negotiations with star forward David Pastrnak. If the Bruins can sign Padtrnak theycould be one of the biggest stories in hockey. The Bruins have a strong goaltender in Tukka Rask. The Bruins also have one of the youngest teams in the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After losing in the opening round last year to Ottawa gained valuable playoff experience. The Bruins are led by number one pick Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy joins a host of young talent such as Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Rob O’Gara, Noel Accari , Frank Vatrano. If Cassidy can mold the veterans, with the young players the Bruins could be serious contenders in 2017/18.

Jagr, Iginla, And Doan All Paying For Bungled NHL Expansion

Before the NHL officially announced its recent expansion which in the end produced “only” the Las Vegas Golden Knights, it was commonly reported in the media and on the Internet that there were four “done deals”, Las Vegas, Quebec, second Toronto, and Seattle all ready in the bag. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. The NHL had not expanded since 2000 and rumors and desires had been building up, that it was thought that the cup was overflowing with potential applicants just waiting to get in.

There was Quebec’s fellow lost partner, Hartford and frustrated Hamilton. There were two failed bidders from 2000, Houston and Oklahoma City. There was Kansas City with its empty Sprint Center, built to get an NHL and NBA team. There were the potential hockey hotbeds of Portland and Milwaukee and perhaps surprise bidders like San Diego and San Francisco. All were thought to be parked outside of the NHL’s door just waiting for an official announcement of expansion.

Instead the NHL ruined everything by tacking on a $500 million expansion fee and a $10 million “consideration fee” ($8 million to be refunded if your bid failed) that threw cold water on every potential bidder’s face. The verdict by the investment world: We’d love to own a professional sports franchise but we’re not suckers. An NHL franchise is not worth that amount of money. Of 16 potential bidders, only fanatical Las Vegas and Quebec stayed around to the end. And Quebec’s potential owner was unacceptable to the NHL. Even two of the “done deals” pulled out.

It was a first rate humiliation for the NHL. Not only did they want to expand, they wanted to realign as well into an NFL like structure of 2 conferences each having 4 divisions of 4 teams which would permit growth to the 40 team level and beyond. Instead they staged an expansion with no competition between rival cities (perhaps a “big 4″ North American professional sports first) and had to settle for only Las Vegas giving the league only 31 teams which prevented the NHL from realigning.

An unexpected fallout from this bungled expansion has been the fate of Jaromir Jagr, Jerome Iginla, and Shane Doan. All are representatives of the new kind of athlete that the NHL like its bungled expansion is unprepared for. With new advances in medicine and conditioning, it is now possible to prolong professional athletic careers beyond the usual retirement age of 35-40. Gordie Howe played until he was over 50 and Chris Chelios reached 48. But instead of being the exception, tomorrow’s athlete will play to these ages regularly.

The NHL is quite unprepared for this development. The oldest, Jagr, at 45 was still making significant contributions to his last team, the Florida Panthers. But NHL teams, ignoring that these elderly athletes can still make a significant contribution declined to sign these free agents, choosing to sign younger players who may have more long term potential in them for the future.

Sure Jagr, Iginla, and Doan have seen their best days pass them by. Modern medicine still isn’t advanced enough yet to turn them back into the state of 20 year olds, though that potential still exists in the future. But even at their advanced ages, they can probably still play better than many of the young players who are being given a chance, but will never reach their potential.

Doan gave up and retired. Jagr and Iginla are still waiting for offers. It is a shame that three of the NHL’s recent greatest players cannot get contracts and are being considered washed up without too much evidence.

If anything, the admission of Las Vegas should have made more NHL jobs available. And there would have been lots more if even only all four “done deals” had been granted NHL franchises. But the NHL’s greedy terms produced the worst “big 4″ North American professional league expansion in history. Now the NHL is caught between a rock and a hard place if they want to expand and realign in the near future. Either way they will lose face. They have to admit their expansion terms were unrealistic, refund money back to Bill Foley and Las Vegas so that they can set more realistic expansion terms that are more in tune with the real NHL franchise market, or wait years (decades?) before the investment world agrees that an NHL franchise merits a $500 million expansion fee and $10 million consideration fee. They could be stuck at the 31 team level, unable to realign for a long, long time.

If NHL expansion had been done properly, there would be four new teams entering the league now and Jagr, Doan, and Iginla would have no problem finding a new home. Their careers are either over or in suspension, a casualty of a league that is unprepared for the athlete of the future, and does not know the true value of its franchises in the investor market.