Alan does another deep dive into the numbers to give us player evaluations for the 2016-2017 season. In this first part of his series, he focuses on Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Vladislav Namestnikov. “Kucherov continued to be one of the best players in the league, and deservedly found himself in the discussion for the Hart Trophy. He is an elite player by just about every available metric. He makes his team better in every aspect when he’s on the ice.” [Raw Charge]
In the second part of this week’s mailbag, Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns weighs in on the World Championships, trading prospect goalie Adam Wilcox, and how he spends his weekends. [Tampa Bay Lightning]
The Bolts and Pets calendar looks amazing already!
Our translation specialists come through again with another Kucherov interview. "I don’t have constant speaking practice, so I simply can’t find the words to express my thoughts sometimes. This is why they write this nonsense, that I don’t communicate. But I don’t care. I would love to see them being asked about things they don’t know after three months in Russia." [Raw Charge]
Is Tampa’s commitment to a “grind line” hurting the team? “Four lines who can score is the key to winning in this league and is almost essential to win the Cup. If you don’t have that fourth line who can score, teams can relax and take a breath knowing these guys won’t beat them and they can focus on Stamkos, Kucherov, Drouin, and maybe even current KHLer Nikita Gusev.” [Bay Bolts]
History appears to be repeating itself for the Syracuse Crunch - hopefully this time it ends with a Calder Cup. “There’s an almost startling number of parallels between the 2007-2008 Syracuse season, when the Crunch were affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the current Syracuse season. Although fans are hoping for one big difference - the 07-08 team lost control of what was a 3-1 series lead and didn’t make it out of the second round - it’s definitely fun to look back at a memorable Crunch year in comparison to the one that’s currently making some awesome memories.” [Raw Charge]
“The speculation has been out there for a while, but it now appears official that center Tanner Richard is signing in Switzerland for next season. SwissHockeyNews.ch has reported that Richard will sign with Geneve-Servette HC of the Swiss NLA.” [Raw Charge]
“The CHL has named Anthony Cirelli the Player of the Week. Cirelli had four goals and five assists for nine points over just four games played this past week as his Erie Otters advanced to the OHL Finals.” [Raw Charge]
Mathieu Joseph and Boko Imama are headed to the QMJHL Finals. “Aside from game five when neither put up any points, both Lightning prospects contributed in each game. The Sea Dogs fought hard, and will now fight for their first QMJHL title since 2012.” [Raw Charge]
With ten members of the Tampa Bay Lightning participating across four teams at the IIHF World Championship, we'll be keeping a close eye on Canada (Jon Cooper, Alex Killorn, and Brayden Point), Russia (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and prospect Nikita Gusev), Sweden (Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman), and Switzerland (Tanner Richard).
Canada defeated Switzerland 4-1 in a friendly pre-tournament game. Killorn, Point, and Richard were held off the score board. [Hockey Canada]
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Team Russia’s photography department is exceptional.
Are you having a rough day? Watch Vasilevskiy play with children because he is a wonderful, warm, kindhearted goalie and we are lucky to have him.
Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson opens up about the loss of his mom. “‘I don’t think she ever missed a game,’ Ekman-Larsson said Tuesday by phone from Sweden. ‘Even if she wasn’t there, she was at home, watching it on her computer.’ Ekman-Larsson knew his mom had taken a turn for the worse last summer. What started as breast and lung cancer had metastasized to other parts of her body. There was no trip to Arizona this season and once the games began, he knew his time with her was limited.” [Arizona Sports]
It is always unacceptable to treat someone differently because of their sexual orientation, but to openly tell a teenage boy that his family structure is the reason that he won’t be drafted is downright grotesque. “When Jaret Anderson-Dolan was going through the WHL bantam draft process, some teams told him and his family they would not take him because of his two mothers. Anderson-Dolan, with the talent to be picked in the top five of the draft, slipped all the way to No. 14 to Spokane. ‘I can’t change people’s opinions. If that’s how they feel about it, I’d honestly rather not be in that organization if they’re going to be like that,’ Jaret said. ‘I’d rather be in an organization with the Chiefs where they support it completely.’” [Spokesman]
A Pittsburgh-based writer wrote a pretty inflammatory column full of baseless accusations about about Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. “A reporter with locker room access to a team insinuated the captain of the Washington Capitals orchestrated a takedown on Sidney Crosby, without evidence no less. Not only is this bad journalism, it’s inflammatory and downright dangerous to do so without anything other than opinion to back it up. Opinions are fine and good, but to come after a star NHL player in a piece that seems to be written with serious intent without some proof of insider knowledge of what happened in the locker room is setting a horrible standard.” [SB Nation]
The Nashville Predators have quickly made Bridgestone Arena one of the best playoff atmospheres in the league. “Attending a Nashville Predators game can best be described as a combination of attending a college hockey game, going to a show at your favorite noisy honky-tonk, and spending your evening at a high school football game under the Friday night lights.” [FanRag Sports]