Quick Strikes: Celebrating International Cat Day with Andrei Vasilevskiy

and Connor Ingram is mad online about slow drivers

The Bolts

The Top 25 Under 25 has gotten down to its final three contestants. Despite exceeding expectations and playing the full year with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and even getting into the top-4 by the end, Mikhail Sergachev has been eliminated from the game, leaving only two remaining. [Raw Charge]

What’s this? Two days later against the defending Stanley Cup champions and Sergachev scores another goal? Yep, that’s right. Here, Sergachev scored his first power-play goal of his career. I love the stick tap that he does prior to Steven Stamkos passing it. I can only imagine what was going through his head (IN MOTHER RUSSIA YOU PASS PUCK TO OPEN MAN IN SLOT!).

It was International Andrei Vasilevskiy Day yesterday!!!!

That kitty calendar was a gift from God.

Okay, it’s the middle of August and the season is slowly approaching, ready for some bold takes? [Bolts by the Bay]

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy finished his first full season as the Lightning’s starting goalie with a .919 save percentage and tied for first with 44 wins. Vasilevskiy was a key component to the deep playoff run for the Bolts and the core of the defense.

The Lightning are teaming up with the City of Oldsmar to build an outdoor ice rink next to the Oldsmar Sports Complex in Tampa. I’m kidding, we don’t have the technology for keeping ice from melting in the Florida sun (yet). This will be a street hockey and roller hockey rink for the community and something the Lightning have hinted doing events at. [10 News WTSP]

The city will pay for the engineering and the concrete base, while the Lightning Foundation, through funding from the NHL and NHL Players Association, will pay for the construction of the rink, provide equipment for community use, assist the city in setting up and running leagues, perform periodic clinics with Lightning alumni, and cross-promote the new facility.

The Prospects

Excuse me, Connor Ingram has something to say:

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, the Syracuse Crunch are making progress in their renovation of War Memorial Arena. SYR Hockey was able to go behind the scenes and provide a visual to whats been happening inside the 67-year-old building. [Syracuse Hockey]

The Syracuse Crunch’s War Memorial is getting a major facelift this summer.

Dust is flying around the building as workers plow through the punch list of an $8.5 million renovation.

All of the upgrades are expected to be finished by the time Syracuse’s season begins in October.

The Game

Wayne Gretzky has signed on to help introduce the game of hockey to young people in China. He has become the Gobal Ambassador for the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star and will be a key part of the 2022 Olympics (that the NHL will find a way to go to). [Sportsnet]

Gretzky: We’ve been working on this for close to two years. The Chinese people and the Chinese business community have really rallied around ice hockey because they’re hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, so they really want to have a good showing and they’ve built these academies. They have one in Canada and one in the United States.

Despite arguably being around the NHL forever, 21-year-old Daniel Sprong is looking for his first (stable) chance at the Pittsburgh Penguins roster. The question remains, however, will he get to play creatively or will he be coached into futility? [Pensburgh]

The game is over-coached but the way to combat that isn’t by turning players loose. A player like Sprong will have to be very smart, very detail-oriented to stay on the right side of the puck when he doesn’t have it. He’ll want to make sure he’s in passing lanes and his stick is where it should be when he’s defending. He needs to demonstrate that he is engaged all over the ice at all times. If he can do that - and there’s no reason he can’t - that will go towards putting him in good graces of a coach. At that point skill can take over with the puck and talent always wins out.

Restricted Free Agency is...restricting. (Yes, people are whining about offer sheets again). Is there a way to change that and make the NHL offseason (which would really help keep writers from having to think too much) a little more fun (clickworthy)? [ESPN]

To that end, the staggering of unrestricted free agent eligibility creates the frenzy that we see every July. “An ideal system would be that everyone become a free agent after every contract. But that could hurt a lot of players. When the market is flooded, a lot of players aren’t going to get what they get when the market is tight,” said one agent.