Deadline Day

By Brad Constant, March 5, 2014

We’re only a couple of hours away from the National Hockey League’s trade deadline, which is today at 3 p.m. Eastern. But NHL teams have been busy over the last week or so, and some big names have already been moved.

St. Louis to Rangers

The latest trade has taken Tampa Bay Lightning star Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers in exchange for the now former Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan, a 2014 conditional second-round draft pick and a 2015 first-round pick. It was well known that St. Louis had put in a request to be traded. We aren’t sure of all of the reasons, but it’s safe to say the St. Louis original exclusion from the 2014 Canadian Olympic Team didn’t help. That decision came from Canadian General Manager Steve Yzerman, who just so happens to be the Lightning’s GM.

This decision makes sense for both teams in our opinion. St. Louis will provide scoring for the Rangers while Callahan is a gritty, hard-working forward that can put the puck in the net too. Plus the Lightning are getting Steven Stamkos back from injury, which more than makes up for losing St. Louis’ goal scoring.

Luongo to Panthers

Tuesday’s big deal included Roberto Luongo returning to the Florida Panthers. He was traded from the Vancouver Canucks along with forward Steven Anthony. The Canucks received goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthais. To be honest, this trade only makes sense for the Panthers and Luongo, who still owns a home and has family in Florida.

The Panthers are looking to become Stanley Cup contenders and now have the financial backing to make that happen. So taking on Luongo’s huge contract was feasible. The trade now gives them a potentially stellar goaltending tandem, depending on whether or not Tim Thomas can keep performing well. We know Luongo will remain consistent as he has year after year.

For Vancouver this could spell the start of a rebuilding era. When we look back to last season, when they had stud goaltenders Luongo and Cory Schnieder, the team had to make a decision on which guy to go with. Luongo’s contract was too big to move at the time, so the team moved Schneider, who is now the main guy for the New Jersey Deveils. Now they’ve gone and moved the guy that they stuck with as their number one. It doesn’t make sense!

The Canucks are now left with the young Eddie Lack, who has potential but hasn’t shown that he can provide the type of consistency that Luongo has, and the young Markstrom, who has had plenty of opportunities in Florida to shine but hasn’t really stepped up. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Canucks moving forward, especially since there are rumors that they are trying to move forward Ryan Kesler.

More goalies moved

More goalies were moved yesterday with Ilya Bryzgalov going to the Minnesota Wild and Viktor Fasth being shipped to the Edmonton Oilers.

Bryzgalov’s move now gives the Wild a veteran goalie to back up young Darcy Kuemper, who has shined since taking over for the injured Niklas Backstrom and the sick Josh Harding. You really can’t go wrong with Bryzgalov and his experience. Just don’t get him talking about the universe.

For Edmonton, the acquiring of Fasth now gives them a major upgrade over what the team started the season with. Especially after the Oilers just signed Ben Scrivens to a contract extension. The Oilers traded a 2013 third-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for Scrivens in January. The move has turned out to be a smart one now that they’ve added Fasth. Scrivens and Fasth have the potential to be a great goalie pairing going into the future.

Sens get busy

The Ottawa Senators have also been busy today as they make a push for the playoffs. The team has signed defenseman Chris Phillips to a two-year contract extension, they’ve put Cory Conacher on waivers – he has been picked up by the Buffalo Sabres – and they acquired forward Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers.

Putting Conacher on waivers doesn’t really make sense. But signing Phillips to an extension and adding Hemsky does, especially since the team is fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Ryan Miller moved

The other really big trade happened last Friday, February 28, when the Sabres traded star-goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues. In return the Sabres got goalie Jaroslav Halak, – who may very well be moved again – forward Chris Stewart, forward William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 conditional third-round pick.

Way to go St. Louis! Miller is a stud, arguably one of the best goalies in the NHL, and now he is on one of the better teams in the league. This is a great move by the Blues.

Stay tuned for more trade action. There are two hours left and we can guarantee that there will be some more news.

The NHL is back!

By Brad Constant, Feb. 25, 2014

The Olympics are over and the National Hockey League is back from its break, and so is The Hockey Ref. We are very excited, and here are the reasons why.

First, we need as much hockey as possible to get over the disappointment of the Team USA losses. It helps that the women came home with the silver medal, but the men were embarrassed by losing two vital games and missed out completely on a medal. Thankfully our friends to the north claimed both gold medals and secured North America as the land of hockey dominance for another four years.

Second, the push for the playoffs is in full swing. This is when regular season hockey is the most exciting. Every game can make or break season for any team fighting to get in. Aside from the playoffs, this is the best time of year.

Last, a lot of players come back well rested, so we should see some high energy games. The big hits will definitely be back too. We can hardly wait!

Welcome back NHL, we hope you enjoyed your vacation.

Red Wings injury woes shed light on bright future

By Brad Constant; Jan. 30, 2014

After sometime off and even a little time off the grid, the Hockey Ref is back just in time to get geared up for the rest of the season. So without further ado, let’s get right to it….

The Detroit Red Wings’ injury-prone season continues as the Olympic break approaches. In fact, it’s safe to say that the Red Wings’ season has been severely hampered by injuries.

Currently Detroit is without powerhouse veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Plus Johan Franzen has just been placed back on the injured reserve list due to more concussion symptoms while Stephen Weiss is recovering from a sports hernia surgery. At one point the Red Wings’ injury list also included Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson, Daniel Alfredsson, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericcson.

But there has been a bright spot to come out of Detroit’s injury woes thanks to the team’s young players who have revealed a promising future for the organization.

Players like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have stepped up their games. Truth be told, they look like they could be the most suitable replacements for Datsyuk and Zetterberg when the Euro Twins retire. Granted, there is no way to completely fill the skates of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. But Tatar and Nyquist have shown that they have a knack for scoring and making plays game in and game out. Here some proof with sick highlight numbers one and two belonging to Tatar, and number three belonging to Nyquist.

Other young players like the aforementioned Andersson, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco are all big bodies coming in at over six-feet-tall. Andersson looks like the better defensive forward while Sheahan and Jurco seem more offensively inclined. Sheahan has a cannon of a wrist shot and Jurco has hands that could put him on highlight reel after highlight reel.

On the back end there are players like Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Danny Dekeyser. Smith still has a problem with turnovers, but there is promise in his game. Lashoff looks like he’ll make a solid number five or six defenseman. But Dekeyser looks the most promising off all. The former Western Michigan University Bronco has all the makings of a top defenseman in the National Hockey League; size, vision and skill. We can’t wait to see how he turns out in a couple of seasons as he looks the most likely to fill the void left by Nicklas Lidstrom – well, he looks like he can fill a good portion of the void at least.

Lastly, Petr Mrazek has been called upon over the last couple of seasons to step in and man the net. During those appearances he has shown tons of growth, and even recorded his first NHL shutout early this season. The Red Wings could be in a very good position with goaltenders if he continues to grow and mature.

What does all this mean? Simple, the Red Wings’ future looks good, and young. It’s been awhile since Detroit has not been comprised of a majority of players over 30-years-old, and with the salary cap the team cannot splash into free agency to add star power like it has in the past. So the Red Wings have been forced to groom their young talents faster than usual. But it seems to be paying off, and we could see the Red Wings return to the position of league powerhouse again if the youth movement continues on its upward trajectory.

Latest NHL news; Monday, January 13

By Brad Constant; Jan. 13, 2013

We’ll get things started off with an update on Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos, who is making great progress after breaking his leg in early November. Here is the bleacherreport.com story.

Lastly, the Washington Capitals gave us a feel-good story by granting the wish of young Braden Nienaber, who was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare childhood disease similar to cancer in which white blood cells multiply too quickly, causing bone and organ damage, according to csnwashington.com. You can check out the CSN story here for all of the details. But be sure to watch the video of Nienaber throwing Buffalo Sabres’ Captain Steven Ott out of the ceremonial faceoff.

Kid throws Ott out of ceremonial faceoff

 

Rick Nash’s falling goal is vintage Nash

By Brad Constant; Jan. 10, 2014

The New York Ranger’s Rick Nash has added yet another goal to his impressive highlight reel with an overtime-winner that he scored while falling down. The people over at ProHockeyTalk.com have the video with a quote from Nash that you can check out here.

We love this goal because it is vintage Nash. Much like his uber impressive, multiple toe drag goal, the falling goal shows off Nash’s never-say-die attitude when in a goal-scoring position. Thankfully he has the skills to convert, and often in special ways.

Which nation will the 2014 Winter Olympic gold medal?

By Brad Constant; Jan. 8, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are right around the corner and we are gearing up to see nations collide on the ice. Our plan was to give you a breakdown of each National Hockey League player going to Sochi, but Bleacher Report beat us to it. And much like Thomas Holmstrom around the crease, we are ever the opportunist and are kind enough to provide you with a link to the bleacherreport.com story.

Instead, we’ve decide to try and pick the medal winners, but we can’t decide and are on the verge of a donnybrook. So we want you, our readers, to weigh in and give us your opinion. Write a comment below telling us which nation will win and why.