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June 16, 2017

NHL Expansion Draft History


It is an exciting time for hockey news right now, as uncertainty over the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft creates a lot of player movement.

Fans love player movement because it creates hope. Media love player movement because it creates stories. Teams often don't mind player movement because it creates opportunity. Players, well, players don't always like being shuffled along, but they accept it as part of the business.

I was asked if I was writing any about past NHL Expansion Drafts. Fantastic idea, I thought, but not enough time.

Besides, all the data is nicely available on Wikipedia. The people who did this work did a fantastic job, often complete with protected lists, rules, results and follow-up trades.

Here are the links in one handy location:




    June 12, 2017

    Sidney Crosby's Place In History



    With three Stanley Cup victories compared to Mario Lemieux's two, TSN's Frank Seravalli suggests Sidney Crosby has surpassed Mario as the new Emperor Penguin in Pittsburgh.

    While I concede Crosby's amazing 2016-17 season (World Cup championship and MVP, Rocket Richard trophy, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe plus possibly another Hart and Lindsay trophies still to come) genuinely catapults him from a top 20 player all time to top ten consideration, he's not quite at Lemieux's level just yet.

    Lemieux was the most gifted and talented hockey player ever, bar none. Maybe Bobby Orr could rival him, but no one else.

    Sid's talent level is underappreciated by many in this defensive era. But it is his will that make him so good. He simply will not be denied his destiny.

    Lemieux's will was nowhere near the same. I am not sure anyone in the top 10 compares with the exception of Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky's greatest asset was not his amazing skill level or his incomparable intellectual understanding of the game, but his passion for greatness. While Crosby's will seems more in-the-moment, if you will, The Great One's passion saw the much bigger picture.

    At the beginning of the season I revamped by Top 100 Players of All Time list and could not see Crosby in the top ten.

    Now I think it is time to reconsider the list.

    The list is a highly subjective personal ranking which considered legacy very high along with ability and accomplishments.

    At this time I still cannot see Crosby surpassing Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe or Lemieux at the top of that list. I could see Crosby as high as number eight, but I'd really have to think about going any higher.

    Is Crosby a better player than fifth ranked Rocket Richard? It is impossible to compare players from different eras, I do think. Yet Rocket's legacy is so high. And how comparable is Crosby's on ice greatness to that of Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull and Guy Lafleur?

    It's amazing to think at the beginning of the season I had him ranked in the teens, and now I'm willing to consider him as one of the top five greatest players in hockey history.

    Of course, Crosby is a work in progress. Is it possible Crosby could continue to climb and catch Gretzky, Orr, Howe or Lemieux?

    I would suggest the stark difference in eras will make it impossible for anyone to catch the statistical greatness of the top four. No matter how long Crosby plays, he, nor anyone else, will catch Gretzky's career totals. And the single season marks of Gretzky, Orr and Mario are also likely out of reach.

    Crosby turns 30 this summer and, despite his serious concussion injuries of the past, presumably has many good years ahead. But his days of winning scoring titles may be over. The heir apparent - Connor McDavid - has already taken the Art Ross trophy away from Sid.

    So that means Crosby just needs to keep on winning. With the NHL's days at the Olympics over that means Crosby and the Penguins would need to continue winning Stanley Cups.

    Of course in this salary cap era it is supposed to be impossible for a traditional dynasty to rise, meaning three or more consecutive Stanley Cups. But if healthy, Pittsburgh's in good shape to contend again. Their keys players are locked up under contract, and they will move goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and his hefty salary this summer.

    Maybe Crosby's place in history will see him rise even higher yet.

    Howe, Richard, Mikita, Hull To Have Names Removed From Stanley Cup


    No, that headline is not a farce. 
    Soon the Stanley Cup will no longer feature the names of many of the game's all time greats, including Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull.
    When the 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, they will be the last team to be placed on the bottom ring of the Stanley Cup. In order to make more room for the next champion, the highest removable ring with come off, and a new ring will be added on the bottom.
    That means the ring featuring the champions from 1954 to 1965 will be retired forever to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
    While fans can see the stretched out ring on the walls of the Hall of Fame's famous bank vault, they will never again see the 342 players and builders featured during this time period. 
    And that includes Howe, Richard, Mikita and Hull - arguably four of the top ten players of all time. 
    Other names to disappear will be Ted Lindsay, Pierre Pilote, Glenn Hall, Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey, Butch Bouchard, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead and Frank Selke. 
    While they may no longer have their names on the actual Stanley Cup, they will forever be Stanley Cup legends, along with all of their teammates.
    And just think: one day the Stanley Cup will no longer include Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Steve Yzerman, Jonathan Toews or Sidney Crosby.
    And if the Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup drought continues another 13 years, they will not have their team name on the Stanley Cup at all anymore! 

    No Practice Tomorrow


    My annual photo favorite to end the season with . . .

    Pittsburgh Wins The 2017 Stanley Cup Championship



    The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators 2-0 in a thrilling game six to win the 2017 Stanley Cup!

    The game featured amazing goaltending at both ends of the ice, as Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Pittsburgh's Matt Murray were nothing short of spectacular.

    The game certainly had some great scoring chances. Yet with each remarkable save, the game grew more and more tense. Desperate even. It was Stanley Cup hockey at it's best.

    Late in the third period Pittsburgh managed to kill off a 5-on-3 power play before Patric Hornqvist banged a puck off Rinne's arm with just 1:35 to play in regular to break the tension and the scoreless tie. Carl Hagelin added an an empty netter to ensure the victory.

    Greatness Achieved

    With Pittsburgh's victory we have a true modern-day dynasty led by one of the top players of all time.  I love greatness. Sidney Crosby is the greatest player of the current generation, and his team winning back-to-back Stanley Cups (and 3 in 9 years in the salary cap era) only confirms his spot in history.  

    When the NHL celebrates their 200th anniversary, they will still talk about Sidney Crosby. We are so lucky to see him in this moment. He is truly a player of destiny.

    What an amazing season he had. It started with him leading Canada to a World Cup victory, complete with MVP honours. He led all NHL players in goal scoring, winning his second Rocket Richard trophy. Now of course he won his third Stanley Cup and second Conn Smythe Trophy. And next week he might just add the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay award to his list of accomplishments this season.

    All this while overcoming a couple more concussion scares. Crosby's place in hockey history was assured with or without this Stanley Cup victory. And since the stark the difference in eras has made Wayne Gretzky's scoring totals unattainable, Crosby has nothing left to approve.


    Sorry Nashville fans. 

    I feel for you. I really do. You proved yourself to be the best in the league. You earned the respect of everyone in hockey. You deserved better.

    But, as a jaded, old and desperate Vancouver fan, I'm glad you did not get to experience the thrill of victory. Yet, anyway.


    It's stupid, I know. But I want others in the league to understand the hurt. The pain. The despair. Now you understand. I hope you come to quickly appreciate this amazing team and amazing playoff run, much like I did in 1982 and 1994 and never have in 2011.

    Agony is a part of being a sports fan.  I sincerely hope you win a Stanley Cup championship in your life time. I have to come to realize I will never see one in Vancouver in mine.

    Morning Skate

    Here's all the news and notes from the NHL's Morning Skate media release.

    * The Penguins won their fifth Stanley Cup (also 1991, 1992, 2009 and 2016) – tied for the most by any non-Original Six team (w/ EDM). All of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victories have come on the road – all since 1991, the most in the NHL in that span.
     
    Stanley Cup Standings, NHL History
    24 – Montreal Canadiens^
    13 – Toronto Maple Leafs
    11 – Detroit Red Wings
    6 – Boston Bruins
    6 – Chicago Blackhawks
    5 – Edmonton Oilers
    5 – Pittsburgh Penguins
    The Canadiens won one Stanley Cup prior to the formation of the NHL in 1917-18
     
    * The Penguins, who defeated the Sharks in six games in last year’s Final, became the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. Prior to Detroit, the last NHL club to repeat was Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992.
     
    * The Penguins improved to 5-1 with the chance to clinch the Stanley Cup, including a perfect 5-0 record on the road. Elias says that no other NHL, NBA or MLB team is undefeated with at least five championship-clinching opportunities as visitors.
     
    * In the Second Round at WSH, the Penguins improved to 6-0 in Game 7s on the road – also the best such record among all major pro sports franchises.
     
    * At 18:25, Hornqvist became the third player to score a Stanley Cup-clinching goal in the final two minutes of regulation (all on the road). The others: Boston’s Bill Carson in 1929 (18:02 of Game 2 at NYR) and Chicago’s Dave Bolland in 2013 (19:01 of Game 6 at BOS).
     
    * Hornqvist, who was acquired from the Predators in a draft-day trade on June 27, 2014, totaled 106-110—216 in 363 regular-season games with Nashville from 2008-14. He ranks sixth in franchise history in goals and 15th in points.
     
    CROSBY CAPTURES SECOND CONSECUTIVE CONN SMYTHE
    Captain Sidney Crosby, who led the Stanley Cup Final with 1-6—7 and ranked second during the entirety of the postseason with 8-19—27 (24 GP), won his second straight Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to “the most valuable player to his team in the playoffs.” The winner was selected in a vote by a panel of the Professional Hockey Writers Association
     
    * Crosby became the sixth multiple winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy since it was first handed out in 1965 and the third to win it in consecutive seasons, joining Philadelphia’s Bernie Parent (1974 and 1975) and Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux (1991 and 1992).
     
    * Crosby’s past 365 days include a pair of Stanley Cups and Conn Smythe Trophies as well as a World Cup of Hockey championship and MVP. He also captured the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy during the 2016-17 regular season with a League-best 44 goals, and is a finalist for both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award – which will be handed out during the 2017 NHL Awards presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday, June 21.
     
    * Crosby joins Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (2010, 2013 and 2015) as the only active players to captain their teams to three Stanley Cups.
     
    MURRAY WRITES STANLEY CUP HISTORY . . .
    Matt Murray made 27 saves to record his second straight shutout and win his second Stanley Cup in as many NHL seasons.
     
    * No other goaltender in League history has won the Stanley Cup-clinching game in each of his first two seasons. In fact, only one other netminder – the Islanders’ Roland Melanson – captured the trophy in each of his first two NHL campaigns. Melanson did so in his first three seasons (1981, 1982 and 1983), but primarily served as the backup to teammate Billy Smith.
     
    * Via Elias, Murray became the fourth goaltender in NHL history to post consecutive shutouts to win the Stanley Cup – and the first to do so for a team other than the Red Wings. Detroit achieved the feat in 1937 (Earl Robertson vs. NYR), 1943 (Johnny Mowers vs. BOS) and 1952 (Terry Sawchuk vs. MTL).
     
    * Murray stopped 64 straight shots to close the Stanley Cup Final, yielding his last goal at 13:08 of the second period in Game 4 – a span of 146:26 of time on ice.
     
    Matt Murray, Career Playoff Statistics
    2016 (21 GP): 15-6, 2.08 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 SO
    2017 (11 GP): 7-3, 1.70 GAA, .937 SV%, 3 SO
    Total (32 GP): 22-9, 1.95 GAA, .928 SV%, 4 SO 
     
    . . . KUNITZ ADDS FOURTH STANLEY CUP
    Forward Chris Kunitz – who shared first place with six assists during the Final – won his fourth Stanley Cup, the most among active players (following his victories with Anaheim in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2009 and 2016). Kunitz became the first player to achieve the feat since 2008, when Detroit’s Kris DraperTomas HolmstromNicklas LidstromKirk Maltby and Darren McCarty all earned their fourth.
     
    * Kunitz is one of five Penguins players who have won each of the last three Stanley Cups with the team (2009, 2016 and 2017). The others: Sidney CrosbyMarc-Andre FleuryKris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.
     
    * Forward Matt Cullen also captured his third Stanley Cup, adding to his victories with Carolina in 2006 and Pittsburgh in 2016.
     
    Active Players w/ 3+ Stanley Cups
    Sidney Crosby (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
    Matt Cullen (2006 w/ CAR, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
    Marc-Andre Fleury (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
    Niklas Hjalmarsson (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Marian Hossa (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Patrick Kane (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Duncan Keith (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Chris Kunitz (2007 w/ ANA, 2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)^
    Kris Letang (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
    Evgeni Malkin (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
    Brent Seabrook (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Patrick Sharp (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Jonathan Toews (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
    Justin Williams (2006 w/ CAR, 2012 and 2014 w/ LAK)
    Only active player with four Stanley Cups
     
    SULLIVAN SETS BAR FOR U.S.-BORN HEAD COACHES
    Marshfield, Mass., native Mike Sullivan – who also guided Pittsburgh to the championship in 2016 – became the first U.S.-born head coach in the NHL’s 100-year history to win multiple Stanley Cups.
     
    Only six other U.S.-born head coaches have won the Stanley Cup, including Nashville’s Peter Laviolette (2006 w/ CAR). This marked the first Stanley Cup Final with opposing U.S.-born head coaches.
     
    LOOSE PUCKS
    Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (27 SV) finished the playoffs with a 9-2 record, 1.40 goals-against average and .951 save percentage on home ice . . . Penguins forward Jake Guentzel totaled 13-8—21 (25 GP), tied for the most points by a rookie in one playoff y
    ear 

    June 09, 2017

    Penguins Blast Predators In Game Five of 2017 Stanley Cup Final


    You know, I really should bet on hockey games.

    I correctly stated that Pittsburgh would game five, and it would be because their top scorers would break through. And they did. Big time.

    Now I'm going to call Nashville to win game six, and Pittsburgh to take the Final in game seven at home. If so, it would be the first Penguins Stanley Cup victory on home ice!

    Here's the news and notes from the NHL's Morning Skate media release.


    TOP SCORERS POWER PENGUINS TO GAME 5 WIN, 3-2 SERIES LEAD
    Evgeni Malkin (1-1—2), Sidney Crosby (0-3—3) and Phil Kessel (1-2—3) – the top three scorers, respectively, this postseason – each registered multiple points to lead the Penguins to a 3-2 series edge in the Stanley Cup Final.
     

     
     
    * Malkin (10-18—28) posted his League-leading 27th and 28th points of the playoffs, reaching the 10-goal milestone for the third time in his 10 career postseasons (also 2009: 14 and 2008: 10). Only two other Penguins players have as many playoff years with 10 or more goals: Mario Lemieux (4x) and Jaromir Jagr (3x).
     
    * Crosby (8-19—27) recorded his 56th career multi-point postseason game (147 GP), tied for fourth in NHL history with Paul Coffey (194 GP) and Glenn Anderson (225 GP). Crosby (4-16—20 in 24 GP) also surpassed Lemieux (10-9—19 in 9 GP) for the most career points by a Penguins player in the Stanley Cup Final.
     
    * Kessel (8-15—23) added his fifth career three-point playoff game (70 GP), four of which have come in the last two years (48 GP). That includes two earlier this postseason, in Game 5 of the First Round vs. CBJ (1-2—3) and Game 2 of the Second Round at WSH (2-1—3).
     
    HOME SWEET HOME
    * The home team has won the opening five games of the Stanley Cup Final, the 12th such occurrence since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939 (and first since 2011). Three of the prior 11 such instances featured the home team winning all seven games of the series, in 1955 (DET vs. MTL), 1965 (MTL vs. CHI) and 2003 (NJD vs. ANA).
     
    * Home teams have won 38 of the past 54 games in the Stanley Cup Final dating to 2009 (70.4%). The Penguins now have won 13 of their 17 all-time home games in the Stanley Cup Final, including five of six over the past two years.
     
    * The Penguins have won 10 of their 13 total home games this postseason, a franchise record. Only four teams in NHL history have earned more such victories in a single playoff year: the 2003 Devils (12), 1988 Oilers (11), 2009 Red Wings (11) and 2013 Blackhawks (11).
     
    * The home team owns a 24-6 goals advantage thus far in the Stanley Cup Final (PIT: 15-4, NSH: 9-2).
     
    MURRAY, PENGUINS JOIN RARE COMPANY
    Matt Murray made 24 saves to guide the Penguins to a 6-0 win. Only three other teams have posted a shutout victory with as large of a margin in the Stanley Cup Final since the NHL took control of the trophy in 1926-27: the 1947 Canadiens (Game 1 vs. TOR: 6-0 W), 1965 Canadiens (Game 5 vs. CHI: 6-0 W) and 1991 Penguins (Game 6 at MNS: 8-0 W).
     
    The Penguins earned their third shutout in 34 all-time Stanley Cup Final games and first in 25 years. Tom Barrasso registered the other two (both on the road), making 39 saves in the aforementioned series-clinching Game 6 in 1991 at MNS (8-0 W) and 27 saves in Game 3 of the 1992 Final at CHI (1-0 W).
     
    Murray became the third rookie goaltender to record a shutout in the Stanley Cup Final during the League’s expansion era (since 1967-68), joining Montreal’s Patrick Roy (Game 4 of 1986 F vs. CGY) and Carolina’s Cam Ward (Game 2 of 2006 F vs. EDM).
     
    GUENTZEL TIES NHL ROOKIE RECORD
    With his second-period assist, Penguins forward Jake Guentzel (13-8—21 in 24 GP) tied the single-year NHL playoff record for points by a rookie, set by Minnesota’s Dino Ciccarelli in 1981 (14-7—21 in 19 GP) and equaled by Philadelphia’s Ville Leino in 2010 (7-14—21 in 19 GP).
     
    Guentzel, who already owns the NHL rookie mark for game-winning tallies in a single postseason (5), remains one goal behind Ciccarelli’s overall rookie record established in 1981 (14).
     
    GAME 5 TREND
    The team that has won Game 5 after a split of the opening four contests of the Final has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 17 of 24 prior times (70.8%) since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939.
     
    However, the team that has lost Game 5 has rebounded to win the series in four of the past eight such instances, all since 2001 (2001 COL, 2004 TBL, 2009 PIT and 2011 BOS).
     
    DID YOU KNOW?
    Teams that have lost by six or more goals have bounced back to win the following game in all three prior instances this postseason: the Oilers in the First Round vs. SJS (lost 7-0 in Game 4, won 4-3 in OT in Game 5), Ducks in the Second Round vs. EDM (lost 7-1 in Game 6, won 2-1 in Game 7) and Senators in the Conference Finals vs. PIT (lost 7-0 in Game 5, won 2-1 in Game 6).
     
    LOOSE PUCKS
    Pittsburgh has outscored Nashville 9-2 in the first period of the Stanley Cup Final . . . Penguins captain Sidney Crosby leads all players with 1-6—7 in the Stanley Cup Final . . . Twelve different Pittsburgh players registered at least one point in Game 5 . . . Penguins forward Conor Sheary celebrated his 25th birthday with his fourth career Stanley Cup Final goal (11 GP) . . . Teammate Ron Hainsey (1-1—2) notched his first career multi-point playoff game (24 GP)

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