The Atlantic Division has started to take shape now that most of the big moves have been completed. Die by the Blade does a very good job summarizing, handicapping, and explaining where each team in the division will most likely finish in the standings. [Die by the Blade]
If the Lightning are able to finally swing a trade with the Ottawa Senators for Karlsson (a deal that looked to be complete last week, until the report was squashed mere minutes after it initially came out), they will surpass the Maple Leafs as the odds-on favorite to win the division and likely, the Stanley Cup.
Tampa local Declan Farmer has been nominated for an ESPY! He is going up against three great people who don’t matter for the Best Athlete with a Disability award this year. THIS IS A PUBLIC VOTE so make sure you get your votes in for Declan!!! [VOTE ESPYS HERE]
Tampa native & Paralympic gold medalist, Declan Farmer, has been nominated for the 2018 @ESPYS Best Male Athlete with a Disability Award! Show your support by casting a vote for Declan at https://t.co/sKaMItFe21! pic.twitter.com/Ue8CAZi9SG— City of Tampa (@CityofTampa) July 9, 2018
Erik Karlsson is currently golfing with Stanley Cup Champion Nicklas Backstrom in Scotland. I’m sure he’s just doing this as he waits for his pirate cosplay to come out of the wash. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
The video, posted by Karlsson on his Instagram account, was captioned “Stanley Bäckström.” After Backstrom takes a swing, Karlsson makes a sound similar to a mix of laughing and woo-ing. He then tries to get the center’s attention by saying Stanley. That has a nice ring to it.
Raw Charge is kicking off it’s annual Top 25 Under 25 series for the Tampa Bay Lightning. With help from the readers, we ranked the 25 best hockey players for the Lightning organization, and now we will highlight them as well as provide an updated scouting report on their progress. Sound fun? Awesome. Here is the player who just made the cut: Gabriel Fortier. [Raw Charge]
The Lightning selected Fortier 59th overall from Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Lightning have been adding prospects from the QMJHL frequently recently. Undrafted free agent Alex Barré-Boulet will be featured later in this series. Defender Radim Salda did not make these rankings but is another recent Lightning selection from Quebec. Even the coach of the Syracuse Crunch Ben Groulx was in the QMJHL before the Lightning hired him for their AHL affiliate.
Keep your eyes open for the next day or two as the AHL will announce its 2018-19 regular season schedule.
The Anaheim Ducks will be retiring the sweater numbers of two all-time greats next season. #9 Paul Kariya and #27 Scott Niedermayer will be going up to the rafters forever. It’s about damn time! [Japan Times]
Kariya spent his first nine NHL seasons with the then-Mighty Ducks, including seven seasons as Anaheim’s captain and six seasons alongside Selanne in a prolific scoring duo. Kariya, the first draft pick in franchise history, also helped the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup Final in 2003.
Kariya is still Anaheim’s fourth-leading career scorer with 669 points [Editors Note: nice]. Although he left the Ducks in a contract dispute shortly after that Western Conference championship run in 2003, Anaheim’s fans have long since re-embraced him.
Alex Burrows blames himself for not speaking up about the problems in the Ottawa Senators’ locker room last season. [Ottawa Sun]
Burrows alluded to distractions caused by team owner Eugene Melnyk and the speculation of an Erik Karlsson trade. He also made reference to damaging disruptions — likely the harassment of Melinda Karlsson, allegedly by Mike Hoffman’s fiancee Monika Caryk, which is believed to have caused a fracture of the team family — and his own failure as a leader to nip them in the bud.
Twitter had a field day with this last one. The New York Islanders have signed Ross Johnston to a one-way, four-year contract that will pay the man an average annual salary of $1 million. I’m sure you have some questions. First, who is this person? Second, if he’s only worth $1 million, why did he get four years? Third, who is this player’s lawyer and can he negotiate my next contract with LoserPoints? [Lighthouse Hockey]
But the Islanders under Lou Lamoriello are under a “culture change” that really emphasizes “competitors,” it seems. Lamoriello likes his scrappy team-first guys, as he’s shown with the likewise debatable signings of Leo Komarov and Tom Kuhnhackl, and the reacquisition of Matt Martin.
I guarantee there will be moments in the upcoming seasons where Johnston throws a big hit in an emotional game, defends an Isles skilled player, even chips in a timely goal, and Lou looks at the scene and says, “That’s right. That’s culture, baby.”
The Islanders are spending $13.35 million on Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, and Ross Johnston. $7.5 million of which will still be on the books in four years!