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Quick Strikes: UFA defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is staying in Arizona, probably

One of the most popular targets of free agency and trade rumors is likely off the market.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Chris Kunitz (14) punches Arizona Coyotes center Nick Cousins (25) as defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) watch during the third period at Gila River Arena.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

It’s the defense core’s turn to be judged by a bunch of bloggers and fans. It’s player evaluation time! Who passed? Who failed? Did any of the grades surprise you? [Raw Charge]

The next chart shows a breakdown of how the readers voted for each of the defenders. The consensus on Hedman is noteworthy. Nearly everyone graded him in the A range. He was also clearly ahead of the rest of the defense in terms of reader grades.

I want to be on Caley Chelios’ team.

Vegas gave the Tampa Bay Lightning the kiss of death: the highest odds to win the Stanley Cup. Voodoo aside, it’ll take some work for the Lightning to make it there, despite being the favourites. [The Hockey News]

But as the Lightning watch the Washington Capitals parade around D.C. with the sport’s greatest prize in tow, Tampa Bay can do so knowing that the feeling around the betting world is that next year is their year. Or at least that’s what the sports books are projecting.

The Prospects

Syracuse is stepping up their ladder game this renovation season.

Crunch netminder is back home in Saskatchewan to watch his local lacrosse team, The Rush, do that Lacrosse! The crowd sure seems to be enjoying it!

The Game

The first days of hockey in Washington were not pretty (Gee, I hope things work out for them eventually). Just to prove how rough it used to be, the Washington Post shared a newspaper article from 1897 in its entirety. [Washington Post]

Canada’s favorite sport on the ice field, “hockey,” was viewed in Washington last night at the Ice Palace. The Johns Hopkins team from Baltimore and seven ice athletes representing Washington were the contestants. The Johns Hopkins team, wearing the blue of the Maryland Athletic Club, were accompanied to Washington by a concourse of hockey rooters, who wore sprigs of their favorite hue on umbrella tips, in lapels, and in standard-bearers that vibrated in the salubrious atmosphere whenever the skatorial athletes from Orioletown shot the “puck” through the Washingtonians’ goal. “Puck” is the technical name of the little bone of contention which the hockeyists speed over the field of ice with their sticks.

The Toronto Furies of the CWHL have announced that one of the founders of the league, and former starting goalie of the Toronto club, Sami Jo Small, has been named General Manager. [The Ic3 Garden]

The number of roles that Small has filled off the ice is, well, large. She has been the team representative to the CWHL Players Association (CWHLPA), as well as Vice Chairman and Sponsorship Chair for the league. Her new role as general manager seems like a natural extension of her time in the CWHL.

After 11 years, Tobias Enstrom will be leaving the only club he’s ever known after he informed the Winnipeg Jets that he will not be returning to the former Atlanta Thrashers next season. [Arctic Ice Hockey]

Toby Enstrom left Jets fans wanting more. He was not big enough, he did not score enough, he did not help the Jets win enough and yet without him, the Jets struggled. Enstrom excelled at the little things and managed to survive a lot of physical abuse in the league. He was just good on a team that needed that sort of steady defending from a player.

And in some evening news, it appears Oliver Ekman-Larsson (aka OEL) will be signing a contract extension with the Arizona Coyotes, taking him off the market.

Highlight of the Night: Reading this plan The Athletic made tried to figure out how to make the Montreal Canadiens contenders again (?).

Well, the highlight wasn’t the article itself, it was the reaction to it on Twitter.