After a couple of weird off-seasons this one has had an overwhelming sense of being normal. Yes, the draft and free agency was delayed a bit and the main stream media had to wait a couple of weeks to head to their lakefront cabins, but now we’ve kind of hit that point where we can look forward to next season.
Most of the big free agents are signed and teams have a general idea of what their roster is going to look like to begin the season. There may be another trade or two to clear up some cap space or shore up a depth spot. I would assume that the Calgary machinations that took place last week pretty much capped the big transactions (unless Montreal makes a move for a goaltender).
Much like the players, who seem to be trickling back into the Tampa area, it’s time to start preparing mentally for the season. For me, one of the best ways to get ready for the season is to honestly forget about hockey for a little bit. (Of course, with the Top 25 Under 25 series kicking off next week can’t take too much time off!)
With the grind of the year, especially considering how long the last few seasons went, just not thinking about hockey for three or four days really helps get me ready for the next season. For me, the best way to do that is to disappear into the woods for a few days. Early in September The Wife and I will be hiking and camping through Olympic National park. Getting away from everything and enjoying nature unencumbered really helps clear my mind. Of course, that being said, the Lighting will likely make two huge trades while I’m miles away from an internet connection. Luckily, the rest of the team will be here to cover things in case that does happen.
After the trip then it’s time to dive into training camp and start playing around with potential line combinations, effects of injuries, predictions, etc. I’ll also continue my yearly tradition of breaking out the 2004 Stanley Cup DVD and watching Game Seven.
So how do you unwind from last season or prepare for the next one? Feel free to leave a comment down below.
Lightning / NHL News
Nikita Kucherov places 2nd in NHL’s top 20 wings rankings [NHL.com]
Countryman Alex Ovechkin hit the top spot. That’s cool, Ovi had a good season on the ice last year. We’ll see what the rankings look like next summer when Kuch has a healthy season under his belt. We all remember what he did the last time he played 82 games.
Some Nick Paul content:
Ross Colton talks Lightning future, boyhood Devils fandom [The Trentonian]
Ross The Boss is a restricted free agent next season. He also grew up as a New Jersey Devils fan. That led a local paper to ask him if he would want to play for his hometown team in the future. He acknowledged that “down the road” it would be “awesome”. Which, honestly, any player that grew up near a NHL franchise would probably want to play for that team at some point in their career. The nice thing is that with the Lightning having been around for 30 years now, it won’t be long until there is a homegrown player that want’s to come back to play for Tampa Bay at some point. Sasha Pastujov - I’m looking at you.
Pronman’s 2022 World Juniors standouts and disappointments [The Athletic]
Neither Jack Thompson or Klavs Veinbergs made Corey Pronman’s “standouts” list. At the same time, they didn’t make the disappointment list either.
Canada claims gold at IIHF Under 20 World Championship [IIHF]
It took overtime but a goal from Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson allowed Canada to win gold over Finland, 3-2.
Canada took the early lead with goals from Joshua Roy and William Dufour, but Finland tied it up in the third with goals from Aleksi Heimosalmi and Joakim Kemell. Tournament MVP Mason McTavish had two assists in the game. The Anaheim Ducks prospect was also the leading scorer for the tournament. He also had the save of the game:
Still can’t get over this save by Mason McTavish. Looking like a young Adam Banks, hey @AnaheimDucks? #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/HKNSRxkATu— The Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast (@rayanddregs) August 21, 2022