Here’s a roundup of some of what’s going on in the hockey world:

I’m a bit surprised we haven’t seen this one from Patrick Kane or Alex Ovechkin.

General Manager Jim Benning is on record as saying the Canucks still need a top six winger. This is not a shock to anyone given that their second and third highest scoring wingers last season didn’t even hit 40 points. Not surprisingly they were second worst in goals for last season with a flaccid 186 goals for the season.

Kirk Luedeke has a look at the impact of undrafted free agents in the Boston Bruins system.

The Franchise To Be Named Later headed for Las Vegas is supposedly held up, in part by the London Knights, a junior team, located half a continent away. Maybe, just maybe for future NHL expansion prospective team owners should have a list of names to hand in with the rest of the paperwork. Personally if they can’t settle up with London, maybe go with Nevada Nighthawks. Seriously, the CFL had two teams with the same name, and somehow we can’t have an NHL team and a OHL team with the same name? How does that work for the Rangers?

It still looks like Vladimir Sobotka should be back in the NHL this fall. The gritty forward has had two solid years in the KHL. Last year he finished second on his team in scoring, up from fourth in his first year playing in Europe.

Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames gets some love, or at least respect out of Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks.

So who is the best Nashville Predator? For my money, I want to see a full season of Subban and Johansen before I make up my mind.

Good-bye Antoinne, and hello Dylan, or maybe Christian, watching the Coyotes off season just got a bit more interesting.

Reports indicate the NHL is pretty close to expansion Sin City, among other places. There are questions all over the place about expansion, but here are the important ones.

 

10: Will the Ice Girls be prohibited from dating the players, even for an hour at a time?

9: How many members of The Real World Las Vegas cast will be selling concessions?

8: Will the slot machines built into the seats be hockey themed?

7: Will club seat be retitled”Gentlemen’s Club Seats” ?

6: Will players have the option of being paid in poker chips?

5: How many years will it take before this team is better than the Las Vegas Wranglers or Las Vegas Storm?

4: Will they be using the foam from the mouths of fans in Quebec City and Saskatchewan who will inevitably be upset that the sun belt is getting another team, and getting another team ahead of them to create the ice surface?

3: Will an NHL team in Lost Wages finally, finally, bring decent prop betting to hockey?

2: How many times will you be able to add the attendance in Vegas to that in Florida and not fill either barn?

1: Will presumed Las Vegas owners William Foley and the Maloof family manage to slide into a top five most hated owners in their first three seasons?

The expansion of the NHL is is as inevitable as some back office hack coming up with a rule change like the jersey tuck penalty to justify their salary. Seattle is the new sexy but it is hardly the only city that might do right by a franchise.

The first question is where would teams go after Seattle or whoever is #31 go?

Las Vegas has the appeal of being without a single other top tier sports franchise. Currently the Wrangers of the ECHL and a AAA baseball team are it for non collegiate sports. The tourism industry there has to be considered a plus, or would be if the NHL was good at marketing. A second Chicago area team would also make a great deal of sense, the Second City hosts two MLB and has its own NFL team and two teams close enough they’re nearly the same market, why not give a huge, sprawling sports mad city another outlet for their enjoyment? Saskatchewan, Kansas City, Houston and Salt Lake City can all put in a claim based on their size, cash on hand, or corporate presence.  But with the leagues current configuration, it is unlikely the Greater Toronto Area or Quebec City see a new franchise.

Can the feeder system handle it?

This isn’t just a question of the AHL which finally reach 30 teams again or the ECHL. It goes down to top tier Junior hockey and below, both in North America, Europe, and potentially elsewhere. NHL owners, the NHLPA and sponsors would need to take a hand in expanding the USHL, CHL, and other development leagues. As hockey mad as the northeast US is, the fact that there are zero CHL, USHL or NAHL teams in the six New England states or New York is unfathomable. Yes the EJHL, and to an extent the MWEHL cover some ground, but not enough. The Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey league may need to expand as well.

Will the league push for sensible arena deals?

The biggest bar to success off the ice to teams in the last twenty years has been being shackled to a poor arena deal. The New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and other teams have suffered, and the league would be better if they hadn’t. Teams that control their arena control their destiny.

Can we please ensure catchy names for the teams?

This is really a marketing issue. The Minnesota Wild have superb fans and the single dumbest name in professional sports. Seriously, the Wild Hunt would have been cool, the Wild Hogs or Wild Dogs or Howe help us all the Wildcats would have been acceptable too, but just “wild” is so bland the team might as well not have a name. New teams in a market that may or may not have a strong hockey tradition will need marketing to start at point zero and that is the name.

With expansion will the league make better use of the NHL network?

Currently there is not an NHL game on the NHL Network most nights of the season. That’s just baffling. The more exposure various teams get, the more they can charge for in arena marketing the better the league does. The more people who can keep up with teams outside their area, the better. Even if the league goes to 40 teams in the next decade, that’s only 40 teams with 360 or more people, 60+ states, provinces, and territories and that’s means a lot of cities still won’t have a local team.

Joe Sakic is on the record as having said the Avalanche will not take defenseman Seth Jones, who grew up an Avalanche fan with the number one pick. Instead a team with multiple top five picks at forward will take another forward at the first pick.

10.3: The Avalanche have decided to use the Edmonton Oilers as their model for rebuilding a franchise.

9.3: As Sakic can tell you from personal experience the game is played today exactly the way it was in 1995 and having top flight mobile, two way defenseman has never won anyone a championship.

8.3: A secret cabal of owners led by the shadowy and diabolical Jeremy Jacobs have intimidated the Kroenke brothers into keeping the Avalanche a bubble team forever.

7.3: Sakic bets they will easily be able to successfully sign all of Calgary’s RFA defenseman to offer sheets.

6.3: Seth Jones didn’t have the good sense to be born a Canadian so they don’t want him.

5.3: Smooth skating, big bodied, right shooting defensemen have almost no value in the NHL.

4.3: Jones won’t be old enough to go to Vegas with the boys for a couple years and there is no sense in disrupting a locker room that produces so well on the ice.

3.3: Matt Hunwick has threatened to sit out if his status as time on ice leader for the team is threatened.

 

time on ice stats for the 2012-13 Avalanche defense

2012-13 TOI stats

3: Patrick Roy only agreed to coach the team if they drafted exclusively from the QMJHL.

2: The UFA market featuring franchise cornerstones like Mathieu Roy, Cam Barker, and Jordie Benn will more than suffice to push them into the Stanley Cup Finals next season.

1: The plan with a little luck and no improvements on defense this year is to be able to draft Connor McDavid first in 2015.