Posted on: September 28, 2011 9:20 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 9:26 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It remains to be seen whether or not Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, will spend the entire season with the Edmonton Oilers or eventually be sent back to the Western Hockey League to play with the Red Deer Rebels.
Based on his preseason performance to this point it's going to be awfully difficult for Edmonton to not give him an opportunity to prove he belongs at the NHL level on a full-time basis.
During Edmonton's 3-2 win over Phoenix on Tuesday night he had a hand in every Oilers goal, scoring his first of the preseason and adding an assist on a pair of Taylor Hall goals, pushing his team-leading (preseason) point total to six in four games.
A few thoughts and observations on his performance to date:
1) In the four games that Nugent-Hopkins has appeared in the Oilers have scored 10 goals as a team -- and he has had a hand in six of them, scoring one and assisting on five. He has also developed what appears to be nice chemistry with Hall, the Oilers' No. 1 overall pick from a season ago, recording an assist on every goal that Hall has scored in the preseason.
No other player on the team has more than three assists, while some of the ones Nugent-Hopkins has been credited with have been rather impressive, including this helper on a goal scored by Jordan Eberle last week against the Vancouver Canucks.
2) You're probably saying those numbers are nice, but it's still just the preseason and preseason numbers can be pretty worthless. And you wouldn't be entirely wrong. After all, a lot of these games feature rosters that are loaded with minor leaguers and pluggers that will be riding the bus in the AHL and ECHL in a couple of weeks. That highlight reel assist to Eberle against the Canucks that is mentioned above, for example, came on a power play with players like Aaron Volpatti and Nolan Baumgartner on the ice against him, with Manny Legace -- since released by the Canucks -- in the crease. Who you play against matters, and he's probably going to be facing a much higher level of competition during the regular season when the games actually mean something in the standings.
That said, his best game of the preseason came on Tuesday night against Phoenix, against a lineup that was pretty close to what the Coyotes will be running out there on a nightly basis. Mike Smith played the entire game in goal, while his points came with players like Shane Doan, Keith Yandle, Derek Morris and Daymond Langkow on the ice against him, so he's just not padding his preseason numbers against guys that won't be in the NHL this season. His best game, offensively, came on the night where he played against what was probably the toughest competition he's seen yet. And that's impressive.
3) There are still some legitimate questions that need to be asked about whether or not he's ready for a full season of NHL action. His size will be talked about quite a bit (and while he would be one of the smallest players in the NHL, he wouldn't be the smallest), as well as the added responsibilities that come with being a top center in the NHL, including defensive play and having to win faceoffs, which will include some growing pains, but the potential offensive upside might be too much for an Edmonton team that finished 27th in scoring last season to pass up.
As I pointed out last month it would seem be a mild upset if he's not on the Oilers roster this season, at least based on recent forwards that have been taken No. 1 overall. Going back to 1997 the only forward taken in the top spot to not appear in the NHL in his draft year was Alex Ovechkin, and that was because his draft year happened to be the lost season that was the NHL lockout.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 9:56 am
NIEDERMAYER NIGHT? It's seems to be only a matter of time before the Devils honor Scott Niedermayer and retire his No. 27 jersey. According to Al Dhalla of Super Agent Inc., it will happen on Dec. 16 against the Stars. Tom Gulitti at the Bergen Record couldn't confirm the plans with Niedermayer, but Scott did acknowledge he has talked about it with the Devils in the past. "Lou [Lamoriello] will do it when he feels it's right to do. In my eyes at least, I don't think anything has been finalized anyway."
BELLY ACHING Alexander Ovechkin is the closes thing to a rock star in hockey because of his following back in Russia, he gets a bit of the paparazzi treatment. That makes this summer's hysteria and analysis over Ovi's seemingly bloated belly that was dissected by many, including Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post. Well maybe this will put fans at ease. Puck Daddy caught up with the Caps star before his upcoming charity game, and the interview included a "look at THIS belly" photo.
TO WHIT: If the Oilers plan on making a few small steps forward this season, they will need to have Ryan Whitney back on the ice. He was having a good season last year before he suffered an injured foot that cost him the remainder of his season. Unfortunately for him and Edmonton, he re-aggravated the injury earlier this summer skating in Boston. "I rolled over on the foot ... caught a rut in the ice. Minor sprain, I think," he told the Edmonton Journal. The good news is that it">
ODE TO LANGKOW: We finish up today with an ode coming from the Matchsticks and Gasoline blog about the exit of Daymond Langkow from the Flames to the Coyotes. I gotta tell ya, parting is such sweet sorrow. Especially when it includes prose like this: Then came that fateful day against Minnesota, Your luck was absent, not even one iota, The puck flew off of Ian White's stick, And hit your neck with the force of a brick.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 4:51 pm
By: Adam Gretz
After spending the past six seasons with the Calgary Flames veteran forward Daymond Langkow has been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for forward Lee Stempniak.
Here's what Flames general manager Jay Feaster had to say in a team-released statement: "It is never easy moving a player who battles and competes such as Daymond; however, because of our depth and options at centre ice, this trade presents us with an opportunity to positively impact the organization in a number of ways. It makes us younger and provides an opportunity to evaluate a player who may factor into our plans for the future, it provides (coach) Brent (Sutter) with options as Stempniak can play either wing and can be used on both the power play and the penalty kill and it creates healthy competition among the forward group for ice time."
Langkow, who will turn 35 later this month, is coming off a neck injury last season that limited him to just four games. He is signed through the end of this season at a cap hit of $4.5 million, making it a rather expensive -- financially speaking -- gamble. There's also the fact that Phoenix traded a younger, cheaper player that isn't coming off an injury that cost him nearly a full season.
Prior to last season Langkow's offensive production was in a pretty steep decline, going from 33 goals and 77 points during the 2006-07 season -- his peak season in the NHL -- all the way down to 14 goals and 37 assists in 2009-10 with a steady downward trend during the years in between.
Before the trade Calgary was up against the NHL's salary cap with over $63.2 million in salary (via CapGeek), so the move definitely helps clear some space.
In exchange for Langkow the Flames get the 27-year-old Stempniak who is coming off a 19-goal, 19-assist performance with the Coyotes last season. He's shown nice offensive ability throughout his career but has had some issues with consistency. He's in the last year of a contract that has a $1.9 million cap hit, so the deal saves Calgary $2.6 million in cap space.
Once Langkow joins the Coyotes he will instantly become the second-highest paid forward on the team, trailing only their captain Shane Doan, and the fourth-highest paid player overall, behind only Doan and defenseman Keith Yandle and Michal Rozsival. It will be Langkow's second stop with the Coyotes, having spent three years with the team between 2001 and 2004, scoring 68 goals in 243 games.
Posted on: March 30, 2011 3:11 pm
Calgary Flames center Daymond Langkow, out more than a year after a shot broke a vertebra in his neck, has been cleared to resume full-contact practices, the club announced on Wednesday.
“In as much as Daymond has not played in an NHL game in more than a full-calendar year there remains issues relative to getting him ready to return to the lineup such as conditioning, rebuilding muscle mass, readiness for game speed and game timing, etc,” Flames GM Jay Feaster said in a statement.
Feaster added that once the coaching staff agrees Langkow is game-ready, the Flames will make the necessary roster moves to activate him. Langkow was injured when a shot from teammate Ian White’s stick on March 21, 2010.
The Flames face a crucial game tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Calgary is in 10th place in the West, three points behind eight-place Chicago.
-- A.J. Perez