21 Questions Whats the plan in net for the Oilers long-term

Welcome to 21 Questions, an off-season series in which we look at some interesting Oilers- and NHL-related questions heading into the 2021 season. 

I would say that Ken Holland had a successful off-season this year.

Despite being thrown the curveball of a lower-than-expected salary cap ceiling, Holland made some nice, cheap, short-term additions to the Oilers’ roster, signing Kyle Turris, Dominik Kahun, Tyler Ennis, and Tyson Barrie in free agency while also convincing former No. 4 overall draft pick Jesse Puljujarvi to return from Finland.

All of those moves were met with praise. Turris and Ennis will help give Edmonton some depth offence, Barrie on a show-me deal will help compensate for the loss of Oscar Klefbom on the team’s top power-play unit, and Puljujarvi could be poised for a breakout after a year maturing in Finland, which is an exciting prospect given the fact many believed he had played his last game for the organization.

There’s one move that Holland made that hasn’t been received with much, if any, excitement. That was the decision to bring back Mike Smith.

While the Oilers were linked to names in free agency like Robin Lehner, Jacob Markstrom, and Thomas Greiss, they weren’t able to get anything done. As a result, Holland went the familiar route and inked Smith to a one-year deal worth $1,500,000.

Smith was a real mixed bag for the Oilers last season. He started off quite well, playing a key role in Edmonton’s hot start to the season, but then really fell off in November and December. It appeared at that point that Smith was completely washed, but he turned his play around when the calendar flipped to 2020, again playing a key role in Edmonton’s successful run in January and February.

All told, Smith put up a .902 save percentage over the course of 39 games for the Oilers, posting a 19-12-6 record. It wasn’t good, but it also wasn’t a complete disaster.

When looking back on Smith’s performance as an Oiler, most people aren’t immediately going to think about his stellar play at the start of the season or how he rounded into form after Christmas. Instead, the thing that comes to mind is his horrendous showing in Game 1 of the play-in round against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dave Tippett opted to start Smith due to his previous success in the playoffs. Going into that series, Smith boasted a .938 career playoff save percentage thanks largely to his great run with Tippett’s Coyotes back in the 2012 playoffs. Smith the playoff performer didn’t show up against Chicago as he allowed five goals on 23 shots, effectively blowing Game 1 of the series.

So, here we are now, heading into the 2021 season with the exact same goalie tandem as we had last year. It isn’t exciting, but it also isn’t the end of the world.

The Mike Smith/Mikko Koskinen duo was good enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs last season. Given his age, you can reasonably assume Smith will be worse than he was last season. But if Koskinen shoulders more of the load than the 50/50 split we saw in 2019-20, there shouldn’t be that much of a worry about Edmonton’s goaltending. Also, if the season ends up being 42 games, which seems very possible at this point, we might only see Smith 10 or 15 times.

When it comes to Edmonton’s goaltending situation, the more interesting question is what the team’s plan is long-term.

The benefit of signing Smith this off-season is the fact he came with just a one-year deal. That means that Holland is free to explore the goalie market in free agency again next off-season in pursuit of a legitimate, long-term option. Koskinen’s contract also expires after the 2021-22 season, meaning Edmonton would only have to commit to an expensive goalie tandem for one season if they made an addition next off-season.

The Oilers have quite a bit of money coming off the books next summer. A couple of key players, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (UFA) and Kailer Yamamoto (RFA), will need new contracts, but there should be enough cap room to make a splash on the open market. As of right now, next summer’s UFA goalie class features some interesting names like Tuukka Rask, Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta, Jordan Binnington, Dave Rittich, and Philip Grubauer.

There’s also no guarantee that Holland will need to make a big free-agent splash next off-season. Maybe Koskinen plays very well in 2020-21 and the team decides he’s the goalie of the future. Maybe the organization is really high on prospects Ilya Konovalov and Olivier Rodrigue and they decide only a stop-gap veteran addition is necessary for now. Maybe Holland trades for a young goalie trapped behind a veteran on another team. Who knows.

If I had to venture a guess, I would assume that Holland makes a mid-level addition in free agency to tandem with Koskinen. He was averse to handing out a long-term deal to Markstrom this off-season because of the obvious risk when it comes to predicting how goalies will age. With the league continuing to trend towards operating with a 1A/1B tandem, inking a 1A/1B goalie like Raanta or Rittich to split the net with Koskinen would make sense. That would then allow you to make a decision on Koskinen after 2021-22 depending on how Konovalov and Rodrigue look in the AHL.

Ultimately, Holland has plenty of flexibility when it comes to navigating the team’s goaltending situation. Bringing back Smith wasn’t the sexy move, but it allows Holland to dive back into the goalie market next summer when things are more clear.


Other questions…

Who would be the best team in the All-Canadian division?

Can Alex Ovechkin break Wayne Gretzky’s goal record?

Which Oiler will become a Seattle Kraken?

THE NATIONGEAR BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

For this year’s Blackout Collection, we’re introducing some new designs while also bringing back some old favourites as well. As for the new items, we launched a new hoodie, t-shirt, and toque that we’ve never done before and as you’ll soon see, these babies are sharp. In addition to the new designs, we’ve also relaunched the black-on-black logo hoodie as well as the classic Nation Hat (both flat brim and dad style) with the same esthetic from a few years ago. These two items were huge sellers back in 2016 and after hearing your feedback about wanting us to bring them back, that’s exactly what we did. But be warned, these items are all limited edition and once they’re gone they’re gone, so I’d recommend squashing your internal desire to procrastinate to make sure you get all of your Christmas shopping done before everything sells out. Check out all of the Black Friday deals here. 

Nick Abruzzese is the Leafs 10th ranked prospect

The Toronto Maple Leafs like to acquire players that attend Harvard. First, they drafted Nick Abruzzese in the fourth round in 2019 then later added Alexander Kerfoot from the Colorado Avalanche — both attended the prestigious school.

The 21-year-old dominated in the USHL last year where he had 80 points in 62 games. He followed it up by playing even better at school, where he won the Ivy League’s and ECAC’s Rookie of the Year awards in 2020.

Rank – Grade – NHL Readiness

10TH – B – 2-4 YEARS

Position: Centre

Age: 21

Height: 5’9

Weight: 160 lbs

Shoots: Left

Drafted: 2019 4th round, 124th overall

What kind of player is he?

The NHL has progressed throughout the years bringing in players who are more skilled and not as big compared to 5-10 years ago. Abruzzese is on the smaller side but if you watch him play, his mind is what brings him to be an excellent player.

He makes everything look easy — whether it’s scoring, making a pass or being wide open for a scoring chance. Abruzzese knows where to be at the right time and if he gets to the NHL, that will be one of the many reasons why.

Looking back at his stats compared to former Harvard Crimson, Kerfoot, they are very similar in both size and their playmaking ability. Abruzzese finished off his sophomore year scoring 14 goals and adding 30 assists for 44 points in 31 games — a better points-per-game than Kerfoot in all his years at university.

But the most interesting trait I’ve seen from the 21-year-old is how he carries himself off the ice. A lot like Nick Robertson, Abruzzese is takes the game very seriously. He likes to go by a saying his dad used to tell him when he was younger which was; “champions are made when no one’s watching.”

In this interview with Todd Crocker, you can see that the 21-year-old is all business. Him and Robertson both take the game very seriously and understand what they have to do to get better and have success at a higher level.

By the numbers

When looking at Abruzzese’s stats, it’s okay to get excited — because I did too. But it’s going to be a long time before we see him in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. He just finished his sophomore year and he could stay at Harvard for 2-3 more years to finish his degree, making him 24 or 25 by the time he comes to Canada.

Depending on how much he dominates at the NCAA level, Abruzzese may come over the border sooner than we think though. We’ve only got one season of numbers from the 21-year-old, but if he improves even more, there could be more records broken in the future.

One of the most impressive tallies that can be found on Abruzzese is his points-per-game in the NCAA as a first-year player. He was tied for second alongside Vancouver Canucks prospect, Marc Michaelis, for most PPG with 1.4, according to Pick224. Even in total points, Abruzzese was tied for third in all of the NCAA with 44.

“He’s [Abruzzese] one of the best passers I’ve ever seen…” Said Jack Drury after a game against Dartmouth in February. The 21-year-old finished with the most assists on the team and finished 7th in all of the NCAA. His vision is one of his most dominant traits and it’s one that I’d term as elite.

Abruzzese is also a player who can play in any situation on the ice, too. On the power play, he can use his vision to find you anywhere in the offensive zone, penalty kill because of his speed and knowledge of where to be on the ice and also at even strength, where he dominates most.

What’s next for Abruzzese?

There’s not much that can be said about “what’s next” for the 21-year-old right now. His season has been on pause due to COVID-19 and he’s also recovering from surgery to fix a torn labrum in his left hip. The operation will likely put him out of Harvard’s lineup until March but if COVID-19 numbers are still high, it could be even later than that.

When he does return to Harvard’s lineup, be ready for him to take his game to another level. With his hockey sense and all of the other traits Abruzzese possesses, he has the chance to be one of the best players in the NCAA in the next few years. Although his size is a downfall, we’ve witnessed players dominate while still being short — they just need to find their style (which the 21-year-old already has.)

But like I said before, Abruzzese is the one who holds all the cards in where he goes next. Depending on whether he wants to get his degree in phycology or not will judge where his career spans to next. He’s a great player and the Maple Leafs made a great choice of picking him.

“Champions are made when no one’s watching.” Let’s see if he can follow through and become that champion everyone hopes for him to be.

At Random About Evan

We still don’t know for sure when, or if, Evan Bouchard is going to arrive as a regular on the Edmonton Oilers’ blueline. The good news, while we wait to find out, is Old Man Bouchard hasn’t been wrecked already by being rushed along the development curve like so many before him.

Selected 10th overall in the 2018 Entry Draft during the Peter Chiarelli regime, Bouchard got into seven NHL games with the Oilers in 2018-19 and played 45 games back in London of the OHL before Ken Holland took over the wheel. After that, he played 54 games with AHL Bakersfield in 2019-20. He’s now playing with Sodertalje Sweden’s Hockey Allsvenskan League where, at last report, he was near the top of scoring for defencemen with 6-10-16 in 20 games.

How that translates to him taking a run at a spot on an Edmonton blueline that’s potentially much deeper than it has been in a while with youngsters like Caleb Jones and Philip Broberg contesting jobs, we won’t know until we actually get around to starting a new season, but the time is right to find out. That’s in large part because Bouchard, 21, been given more than 15 minutes to get his game ready for NHL employment.

While a lot of eyes will be on Broberg, and with good cause given the way he can move and command the flow of the game, I’m looking forward to seeing if Holland’s trademark patience with Bouchard will pay off. I suspect it will, given what we’re seeing from him over in Sweden, but there’s no better measure than seeing him on the ice with other NHL players.

Even with Oscar Klefbom out for the season, there’s not going to be room for all the youngsters knocking on the door – I include Dmitri Samorukov in the group with Jones and Broberg – on the back end this coming season, but that’s just fine. Holland has never been inclined to force things with young players, so it’s likely that a pretty good prospect is going to get more time to percolate. As it should be.

WHILE I’M AT IT

Mar 5, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Tyler Ennis (63) keeps the puck away from Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not sure exactly how much better the Oilers will be this coming season compared to last season, but I don’t think there’s any doubt they will be improved. The question is how much? While I don’t know how the improvements I perceive will translate into points until we know how long the season will be, here’s what I see:

More balanced scoring. The Oilers were in the middle tier (12th) for goals-scored last season with 223 overall, but a lot of that hinged on a power play that led the league at 29.5 per cent. At 5×5, the Oilers dropped to 16th with 144 goals. I think having Tyler Ennis in the fold for an entire season, the return of Jesse Puljujarvi and the acquisitions of Kyle Turris and Dominik Kahun gives them more offensive potential beyond Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

I don’t expect Kailer Yamamoto to put up points at rate he did last season (.96 PPG), but I don’t think what he showed us was a fluke either. I don’t know how coach Dave Tippett plans to put the pieces together, but if Puljujarvi is ready to make a mark in his second look, Turris puts two tough years in Nashville behind him and provides pop at centre on the third line and Kahun finds a home on left wing, the Oilers won’t have to lean so heavily on the PP.

Tyson Barrie. I don’t think Barrie is the be-all and end-all as a blueliner – he has holes in his game as most players do – but he gives Tippett a guy who can transition the puck. Yes, he’ll help on the power play, and he’s a proven offensive producer (he has three seasons of 50-or-more points), but as important, he can move the puck.

Barrie had a tough time in Toronto last season but still produced 39 points in 59 games. I think he’ll regain his form production-wise with McDavid and Draisaitl doing what they do up front. Even with Klefbom out, Barrie joins Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear and Jones as guys who can move the rubber in a hurry. The Oilers have a chance to have a terrific transition game.

Splits Ville. I like the Oilers better on the attack with McDavid and Draisaitl playing apart and we’ll likely see more of that down the road. Draisaitl doesn’t have to play second-fiddle to McDavid. With a Hart Memorial Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy on his resume, Draisaitl gave Tippett as good a second line as there was in the NHL last season when he was flanked by Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that trio together again despite Tippett going away from them in the play-ins vs. Chicago – a decision that baffled many. Then again, Kahun, a linemate of Draisaitl’s back home in Mannheim, could have a say in that. In any case, McDavid is going to drive his line no matter who ends up on the wings and so will Draisaitl.

THE NATIONGEAR BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

For this year’s Blackout Collection, we’re introducing some new designs while also bringing back some old favourites as well. As for the new items, we launched a new hoodie, t-shirt, and toque that we’ve never done before and as you’ll soon see, these babies are sharp. In addition to the new designs, we’ve also relaunched the black-on-black logo hoodie as well as the classic Nation Hat (both flat brim and dad style) with the same esthetic from a few years ago. These two items were huge sellers back in 2016 and after hearing your feedback about wanting us to bring them back, that’s exactly what we did. But be warned, these items are all limited edition and once they’re gone they’re gone, so I’d recommend squashing your internal desire to procrastinate to make sure you get all of your Christmas shopping done before everything sells out. Check out all of the Black Friday deals here. 

Previously by Robin Brownlee

The Oilers and Their Penalty Kill

Last season, the Oilers’ special teams were the best we’ve seen in a long time. Their powerplay got a lot of attention, and rightfully, so considering it was one of the most productive units the NHL has seen since 1980. On the flip side, after years of having a below-average penalty kill, they took some major strides forward and it was a big reason why they had such a strong regular season.

The Oilers penalty kill finished second in the NHL this past season, which is remarkable considering in the five seasons before that, they finished 28th, 18th, 17th, 25th, and 30th. The jump they made in year one under Dave Tippett was impressive, but is it sustainable? Can they find a way to keep their PK in the top ten next season?

To start, let’s look back at why they were successful last season. Personally, I believe that Dave Tippett and his staff deserve a good chunk of the credit. I think that coaching is a big part of a successful penalty kill. Next to that, I would say goaltending is almost as important. It doesn’t matter how good you are on the penalty kill, you’re bound to give up some quality chances and having good goaltending can make your PK look better than it is at times.

On the PK, Mikko Koskinen had a GAA of 5.91 and a SV% of .901 while Mike Smith had a 4.50 GAA and a .918 SV%. They both were in net for just over 170 minutes of shorthanded time. Out of goaltenders that were in net for at least 100 shorthanded minutes, Smith was tied for the best SV% in the NHL while Koskinen was tied for sixth. Smith was 3rd in GAA and Koskinen was 11th. (all numbers via Natural Stat-Trick)

Their goaltending was excellent and it’s a big reason why their PK was one of the best in the league. But this also brings up a little bit of a chicken & the egg debate. Is their goaltending good because their coaches designed a strong system and the players in front of them executed well? Or did the strong goaltending make a good system look great?

The correct answer is likely that they’re all true. You need the right mix of coaching, players, and goaltending. The Oilers had that last season.

They had four forwards consistently kill penalties. Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jujhar Khaira were the only forwards who played 100 minutes on the penalty kill last season. Leon Draisaitl was fifth on the team with 69 minutes.

Riley Sheahan led the team in shorthanded time on ice and he’s likely not going to be back with the team next season. That’s a big loss and the player they brought in to replace him in the lineup, Kyle Turris, is not known for his penalty-killing abilities. He only played 40 shorthanded minutes last season and has only played over 100 once.

Having Turris be a good penalty killer next season will be very important in my opinion. I’m not totally against having star players kill penalties, but I don’t think it’s a great idea. If Turris can’t be relied on to kill penalties, then that will likely mean that Leon Draisaitl will need to step into that role. He already plays a tonne at even-strength and on the powerplay and having him kill penalties as well would not be ideal.

Honestly, if they could even find another forward not named Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who can become a regular on the PK, then I think that would be great.

On the blueline, they relied most heavily on Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear last season. I expect that will continue this season when you consider that the defenseman who was third in shorthanded TOI, Oscar Klefbom, is out for the season and the player they brought in to replace him, Tyson Barrie, usually doesn’t kill penalties.

They will probably use Kris Russell and Adam Larsson as regulars next season and that will give them four really good defensemen to regularly use on the PK.

This coming season will really show us how good the system that Dave Tippett and his staff put in place is. The defence should be solid but the forward group lost a key member of their penalty kill group and the goaltending always scares me.

I don’t think that they’ll come top three again, but if they can have a penalty kill that finishes in the top ten, I think that will be proof that the system they have is a damn good one and last season wasn’t just a fluke or the product of good goaltending.

THE NATIONGEAR BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

For this year’s Blackout Collection, we’re introducing some new designs while also bringing back some old favourites as well. As for the new items, we launched a new hoodie, t-shirt, and toque that we’ve never done before and as you’ll soon see, these babies are sharp. In addition to the new designs, we’ve also relaunched the black-on-black logo hoodie as well as the classic Nation Hat (both flat brim and dad style) with the same esthetic from a few years ago. These two items were huge sellers back in 2016 and after hearing your feedback about wanting us to bring them back, that’s exactly what we did. But be warned, these items are all limited edition and once they’re gone they’re gone, so I’d recommend squashing your internal desire to procrastinate to make sure you get all of your Christmas shopping done before everything sells out. Check out all of the Black Friday deals here. 

How should the Flames handle retired jerseys going forward

This topic popped up out of nowhere on a radio segment last week (skip to about 1:42:50) when I asked: what jersey should the Flames retire next? It’s a fun question that became a whole lot more relevant when Calgary retired Jerome Iginla’s #12 in March 2009. Theoren Fleury and Miikka Kiprusoff are easy, deserving choices that immediately come to mind.

But what about the two players previously honoured using the team’s “Forever a Flame” program? Let’s dive into what has become a pretty nuanced conversation.

A brief history

The Flames retired Lanny McDonald’s #9 on Mar. 17, 1990, less than a year after their Stanley Cup win over Montreal. Lanny’s jersey remained the only one hanging in the Saddledome’s rafters for nearly two decades. Then, on Feb. 6, 2007, Calgary retired Mike Vernon’s #30, recognizing the second member of the 1989 Stanley Cup team. Things changed after that.

The team introduced Forever a Flame in 2012 to replace retired jerseys as the team’s highest honour. Al MacInnis was the program’s first inductee when he was honoured on Feb. 27, 2012. A little over two years later, Joe Nieuwendyk was recognized in a ceremony on Mar. 7, 2014. Forever a Flame was met with anything but universal approval. Many believed it was not a high enough honour for players like MacInnis and Nieuwendyk. Then, five years later, things changed again.

When Iginla announced his retirement in July 2018, the conversation about how Calgary should handle the most important player in franchise history started heating up. Could the Flames really forego retiring Iginla’s jersey and risk #12 being worn by another player down the road? In the end, the team made the right choice and retired Iginla’s jersey in front of a sold out crowd on Mar. 2, 2019.

Going retro

Retiring Iginla’s jersey has given the Flames an opportunity to alter course on MacInnis and Nieuwendyk. While I believe Forever a Flame is a worthy program to continue (more on that later), #2 and #25 should both be retired. The fact Brandon Bollig, Freddie Hamilton, and Nick Shore have worn Nieuwendyk’s number SINCE he was honoured doesn’t compute. Thankfully, MacInnis’s number hasn’t been touched since 2004.

The concept of retiring MacInnis’s jersey is anything but controversial, but I’ll quickly make the case.

GP G A PTS
803 213 609 822

MacInnis is the Flames franchise leader in assists, is third in points, fourth in games played, and seventh in goals. Overall, MacInnis played parts of 13 seasons in Calgary, and won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy in 1989. He’s also the all-time franchise leader in playoff points at 102, which is 50 more than second place Paul Reinhart. MacInnis is the best defenceman in Flames history and that deserves a retired jersey.

Personally, I don’t believe the case for Nieuwendyk is overly controversial, either. However, I’m aware there are some who aren’t quite as on board.

GP G A PTS
577 314 302 616

All-time, Nieuwendyk sits third on the franchise list for goals and fourth in points. He started his career with two straight 50-goal seasons, won a Calder Trophy in 1988 and was an integral part of the team’s Stanley Cup win a year later. Nieuwendyk is also Calgary’s last bona fide number one centre, with no disrespect intended to the likes of Craig Conroy, Daymond Langkow, or Sean Monahan.

The case against Nieuwendyk stems from the fact he played more games away from the Flames than with them (680 vs. 577). The same is true with McDonald, though. At 492, Lanny played fewer games in Calgary than Nieuwendyk and also spent more time away from the organization (619 games) than with it. I firmly believe both deserve to have their jerseys hanging at the Saddledome.

Making this change isn’t rocket science, either. The ceremonies for both MacInnis and Nieuwendyk have been done and were awesome. It’s as simple as making an announcement in the next few years that #2 and #25 are now retired. When the Flames open their new arena, part of the hoopla could be raising those numbers to the rafters, potentially with MacInnis and Nieuwendyk in attendance. Boom…”problem” solved.

The next ones

Some don’t love the way Fleury’s tenure ended in Calgary. Others don’t agree with his political views. None of that should get in the way of two honours he deserves: a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the retirement of his #14. This isn’t a hot take, so again, I’ll only briefly make Fleury’s case, because it’s pretty iron clad.

GP G A PTS
791 364 466 830

Fleury is number two all-time in goals and points, and sits third in assists. Before Iginla established himself, Fleury was Calgary’s superstar and led the team in scoring for seven of nine seasons between 1990-91 and 1998-99. Fleury is one of the most important players in team history and the fact no one has worn #14 since speaks loudly to that fact.

Just as obvious is the case to retire Kiprusoff’s #34.

GP W SO GAA SV%
576 305 41 2.46 0.913

Kiprusoff is the franchise leader in all of the categories above, and by a massive margin in both wins and shutouts. Opinions vary era to era, but Kiprusoff is either the best goaltender in Flames history or number two behind Vernon. Regardless, retiring his number is something that needs to happen in the near future.

The future

Remember when I said Forever a Flame is worthy of continuing? I honestly believe it’s a good program if it works alongside a jersey retirement program. The very best and most important players in team history should have their numbers retired. But what about those that were really good and really important?

I really like what the Vancouver Canucks have been doing for the last decade. Kirk McLean and Alex Burrows shouldn’t have their jerseys retired like Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl. Instead, they’ve been inducted into Vancouver’s “Ring of Honour” with their own ceremonies and permanent displays at Rogers Arena. It’s a great companion and similar to how Calgary should use Forever a Flame going forward.

Go through the decades and you’ll find tons of players worth honouring. Craig Conroy. Kent Nilsson. Gary Roberts. Val Bure. Robyn Regehr. Tim Hunter. Matt Stajan. Jamie Macoun. Hakan Loob. Gary Suter. Paul Reinhart. Joel Otto. Jim Peplinski. Any one of those names have a solid case to be honoured for what they did in a Flames jersey without actually retiring their number. It turns into a really fun conversation.

And that leaves us with players still active in Calgary. Has anyone built, or started to build, a case for a retired jersey? Guys like Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau are still in their 20’s, so any talk of that is crazy premature. Where we do have a much more complete picture, though, is with captain Mark Giordano.

Already second on the all-time games played list at 893, Giordano needs four more full seasons to surpass Iginla’s record of 1,219. At seven seasons and counting, Gio is also the second longest-serving captain in franchise history, behind Iginla at nine. It’s an interesting debate knowing Giordano’s story, Norris Trophy, and tenure as captain.

We can have that debate another time, though.

The greatest moments from the Sedins careers, in no particular order

Henrik and Daniel Sedin hung-up their skates three seasons ago, making them eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2021. However, due to COVID-19, the hall elected to not induct a class of 2021, and instead turn their sights to 2022.

The Sedins should certainly be getting the call to the hall next year. Instead of doing a top ten as I normally do, let’s look at their best moments in the NHL.

 So sit back, grab a snack and enjoy some epic moments, including goals, assists, and shifts that dazzled Canuck nation for years.

Welcome to the NHL, kids

Daniel’s first NHL goal was also his first NHL point, assisted by none other than Henrik, but for Henrik, this was point number two out of 1,070.

Daniel beat future teammate Dan Cloutier blocker side to give him his welcome to the NHL moment in the sunshine state.

Like many of his, Henrik’s first goal wasn’t the prettiest, and it took some time to realize it was even him that scored, but lady luck was on his side as the puck ping-ponged around until it found the net.

The record breakers 

Number 347, please step up. Daniel beats fellow countryman Markus Naslund in all-time goals scored in a Vancouver sweater. Daniel finished his career with 393 goals.

Daniel may have more goals, but it was Henrik who broke Trevor Linden’s all-time assists and Naslund’s all-time points record first with a classic Sedin goal.

1000th point

A significant milestone in any NHL career is reaching 1000 points. Both Henrik and Daniel achieved this special mark in the same calendar year, and are the only Canucks who have reached the milestone.

The bookies would have had Henrik assisting for his 1000 point, but against all odds, he scored!

And what a goal it was.

It wasn’t pleasant, but it was the goalie who was in the other net who makes this one even more memorable. Henrik scored against longtime teammate and friend Roberto Luongo and the goal was even assisted by Daniel, making the moment that much more special for him and the city.

Now for Daniel’s goal, it’s what you expect from him, a goal, and of course, his brother played a role in it.

Goals and apples 

Set up by Daniel and finished by Henrik, it ended the longest game in franchise history. This was also a changing the guard moment. With the likes of Linden, Naslund and a few others still on the team, this goal showed everybody that the future was in bright hands.

Started and finished by Brad Lukowich, it was the in-between moments that had everyone breathless. An unbelievable pass and play from Daniel of effortless skill and Henrik taking the hit to make the play makes this goal one of the best in Canucks history.

A tic-tac-toe play from one of the most dangerous lines in hockey. It started from the team’s blue line. A nice give and go from Burrows and Daniel, who gives it to Henrik to finish what was a beauty of a play.

Coast to coast like butter toast, who would have thought Henrik was capable of this type a goal? Henrik dazzled the Vancouver crowd in this breathtaking goal.

The bank was open on this Sunday back in February 2013 in Detroit. Henrik’s hockey IQ was on full display in the motor city. A goal so creative, Elias Pettersson paid homage to his fellow countrymen when he set up Brock Boeser for a simar goal against the Avalanche in his rookie season.

A little spin move with a touch of how-do-you-do while going inside-outside was a move that left everyone in awe. 

An absolutely incredible display of skill from Daniel by wheeling and dealing the puck to Henrik, who popped in an easy goal. 

The Canucks second goal of the game was a thing of beauty. Let’s face it, we all thought Henrik was going to try and deke, especially on a partial breakaway, but then again, it’s Henrik who always thinks pass first.

Daniel ringed the puck around the boards to Henrik and completed a no-look pass back to Daniel. You would think Henrik would be the one looking at Daniel instead of all the Oilers, leaving Burrows untouched for an easy goal.

However, that was far from the only no-look pass from Henrik. In fact, here are two more examples from the same month:

The title of this clip is all you need to know about this classic display of Sedinery. A classic Henrik to Daniel to Henrik and back to Daniel who finds open space and makes no mistake.

Shifts

Walk around Vancouver, and everyone will know what you’re talking about when you say “the shift.”

After the original shift, everyone wanted more, and the Sedin’s delivered. Here are some more incredible shifts against the Flames, Red Wings, Rangers, and Sharks:

Late in the game, needing one goal to tie, queue Henrik and Daniel:

A masterclass of skill displayed finished by Lukas Krajicek:

Best shift by the twins in the playoffs? I think so. Just as they did in the regular season, the Sedins made the Sharks swim around the ice.

Henrik secures Art Ross Trophy.

Arguably the best regular-season Canucks game, Henrik secured the team’s first Art Ross Trophy while breaking the record for most points in a single season.

The game against the Flames started and ended with a bang. Henrik’s first point was a silky smooth passing play from him and Daniel, which Kevin Bieksa benefited from.

On goal number three in the game and the second point for Henrik, he completes a beautiful tape-to-tape, twin-to-twin pass across the ice and of course, Daniel finishes it with an absolute beauty of a goal.

Henrik’s third assist comes from speed. With a dashing effort, Henrik sauces it over to who else but Daniel for his second of the night.

Now we thought we saw the goal of the game when Daniel scored his first but little did we know that was his warm-up. The best jaw-dropping goal in Canucks history was about to take flight. From the lost face-off draw, the puck landed on Christian Ehrhoff’s stick, who shot it to Henrik, who used his twin telepathically to redirect the puck between his legs to Daniel, who in essence did the same thing but in a little more challenging way.

The last home game

Emotions ran high once the Sedins took warmup, and the mood in the arena that night was a playoff-like atmosphere with a hint of melancholy and celebration. Henrik and Daniel took to the ice in Vancouver for the final time in their legendary history.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the stands with a poetic game and ending.

With so many goals, slap passes, shifts, and assists. One thing that triumphs everything is how they were in the community by treating everyone the same and committing countless hours to charitable work.

Combined, Henrik and Daniel have won the Art Ross, Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice. The twins transformed Canucks hockey forever.

Let’s hear your favourite moments from the future Hall of Famers. It could be goals, assists, or even times you may have been able to interact with them. They provided so many memories for multiple generations of Canucks fans and are truly two of a kind.

Random Thoughts New guys, the PK, Jujhar Khaira, and more

It’s a lovely November morning here in the capital city and we still have no idea when the next NHL season will begin, and that’s giving me plenty of time to think about what’s to come for the franchise and the league in general.

THE NEW GUYS

Looking at the work Ken Holland has done so far this offseason, I have to admit how excited I am to see how the new guys fit into the roster. I know I’m the type of Oilers fan that drinks the Kool-Aid every single offseason, but the idea of having a few new faces and value-contract returnees that can actually score has me feeling about as confident in the top-9 as I have been in years. It can’t be just me, right? I mean, between Kyle Turris (9G), Dominik Kahun (12G), and Tyler Ennis (16G), Holland added 37 goals to the roster (35 if you take away the two that Ennis scored in Edmonton after the trade) with the only real subtraction being Riley Sheahan (8G) (it’s not like Athanasiou did any scoring in his time in Edmonton) and that’s an offensive boost to the depth chart that I didn’t think was possible given the limited cap space the GM had to work with. Add in whatever Jesse Puljujarvi can put up — 10-15 goals pro-rated over a full season might make sense — and all of a sudden, the Oilers are a bigger threat to score when McDavid or Draisaitl aren’t on the ice. That’s the dream, isn’t it?

THE PENALTY KILL

Last season, the Oilers had the second-ranked PK in the entire NHL at 84.4%, which was an unbelievable turnaround from the disastrous 74.8% effectiveness that they were sporting during 2018-19 or the lowly 76.7% kill rate from the year before that. Needless to say, outside of last season, the Oilers’ PK has been a problem for a long time and I’m thinking about how they’ll be able to keep it together with two of their best penalty killers either moving on or on the shelf. Last season, Riley Sheahan and Oscar Klefbom led the team in average shorthanded minutes per game with 2:20 and 2:29 respectively, and with neither of those guys available or around, I think it’s fair to wonder who is going to pick up the slack. And before you get on my case, I know that the likes of Josh Archibald, Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kris Russell, and Jujhar Khaira will have to kill off more minutes, but I also think we’re going to also need some unexpected contenders to step up and chip in with a few supporting minutes as well. Will Leon Draisaitl have to play more minutes when down a man than the 52 seconds he averaged per game last year? Is that even a good idea? Will Kyle Turris be called upon when down a man as one of the only right-handed centres the team has in its lineup? He averaged only 38 seconds on the PK last year in Nashville so it seems generally unlikely that he would kill penalties, but there are only so many choices to help out, you know? Who do you think is the most likely contender to step up on the PK? Tyler Yaremchuk gave his take on the PK yesterday and it got me thinking about how this is going to work.

WHAT ABOUT JUJHAR KHAIRA

When I think about where Jujhar Khaira fits on the roster it bums me out because I absolutely love the guys when he’s on his game. When he posted his career-high season (69GP: 11G, 10A) back in 2017-18, I felt like he had turned a corner and was well on his way to locking down a spot in the bottom-six as a guy that could throw hands while also killing penalties and chipping in with a few goals from time to time. Unfortunately, over the next 124 games, Khaira has only put up nine goals and 19 assists which isn’t all that close to what I had been hoping for from him. Now, with the team having more depth than it’s had in a while, I wonder how much leash Khaira will have on the fourth line and whether his 1:35 in average time per game on the PK will be the hammer he needs to stay dressed? I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud here. Either way, I love Jujhar and I hope he can get back to the level of play we saw from him a few years back because he’s a lot of fun to watch when he’s on his game.

KAILER YAMAMOTO

There’s little doubt that the emergence of Kailer Yamamoto was one of the best storylines from the 2019-20 season. After being recalled in late December, Yamamoto put up 26 points (11G, 15A) in 27 games after creating incredible chemistry with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a second line that ended up being one of the best in the NHL. But when I think about how much he’ll contribute in 2021, I wonder if it’s fair to expect the same level of production from a guy with 53 career NHL games. I mean, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the National Hockey League won’t have gotten any easier by the time games resume, and at 22 years old, Kailer Yamamoto still has plenty of bumps in the road left to clear as he navigates the early days of his career? I don’t know where you guys are at with your expectations for him, but for me, I’d be happy if he can chip in at a pace that would have him finish a full season with 18-20ish goals and 45-55 points. Anything above that would be gravy for me at this point in his young career.

ADAM GAUDETTE

I know this news is a few days old at this point but I still can’t help but laugh when I see the video of Adam Gaudette kicking his wife in the face at their wedding from back in the summer. Gaudette was trying to pull out his best Magic Mike moves for his new missus, but instead, ended up popping her across the jaw with a sweeping roundhouse kick. You can blame the incident on the poor form or the excessively tight white pants, but I imagine Adam had some explaining to do when the festivities were over and he had to try and convey why he thought it was a good idea.

THE NATIONGEAR BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

For this year’s Blackout Collection, we’re introducing some new designs while also bringing back some old favourites as well. As for the new items, we launched a new hoodie, t-shirt, and toque that we’ve never done before and as you’ll soon see, these babies are sharp. In addition to the new designs, we’ve also relaunched the black-on-black logo hoodie as well as the classic Nation Hat (both flat brim and dad style) with the same esthetic from a few years ago. These two items were huge sellers back in 2016 and after hearing your feedback about wanting us to bring them back, that’s exactly what we did. But be warned, these items are all limited edition and once they’re gone they’re gone, so I’d recommend squashing your internal desire to procrastinate to make sure you get all of your Christmas shopping done before everything sells out. Check out all of the Black Friday deals here. 

The Toronto Six will be playing hockey soon

FINALLY! The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) announced a plan to play out its 2021 season, and the Isobel Cup. The new season will start on January 23rd. I can’t wait to see what the Toronto Six twitter page will meme about now!

This season will see the first EVER action from the new Toronto Six hockey club, Toronto’s newest professional hockey franchise.

In order to protect the players and staff against COVID-19, the season will be compressed and done in a bubble. The teams will each play each other once, followed by a playoff qualification round to determine seeding, followed by a 4 team Isobel Cup playoff. The Isobel Cup game will be played on February 5th, 2021.

The following additional measures are being taken, as per the announcement:

The teams will arrive separately in Lake Placid in a staggered schedule on Jan. 21 and 22. Beginning Jan. 23, they will each play five games (one against each team in the league), followed by a playoff round that will determine the four teams advancing to the Isobel Cup Semifinals. The single-game Semifinals will feature the top-seeded team against the fourth-place team, with the teams, ranked second and third facing each other. The winners of the Semifinals will advance to the Isobel Cup Final on Friday, Feb. 5.

The entire season will be conducted in Lake Placid with regular COVID-19 testing provided by Yale Pathology Labs. All participants will follow strict adherence to protocols established by the medical team from the NWHL’s partners at NYU Langone Health, led by Drs. Andrew Feldman and Guillem Gonzalez-Lomas. With the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, these protocols will be modified based on the most current research and evidence.

To make this happen, the NWHL partnered with the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).  The competition will take place in Lake Placid, NY, at the 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena.

Despite the season being compressed, the players will be compensated in full as per the contracts that they signed. It is easy to speculate that players that are signed from this point forward could only be compensated based on the shortened schedule, but that remains to be seen.

Our blog here at TheLeafsNation has been lucky enough to officially partner with The Toronto Six to give you the best coverage we can for this exciting new franchise in Toronto, so keep your eyes peeled to our website, and the Toronto Six’s website, for more news and analysis.


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