Sam McCaig

  • NHL draft lottery: Last-place Leafs come out on top in our 10-spin simulation

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    The Leafs are a lock.

    No, not for the Stanley Cup anytime soon. (That’s crazy talk.) Rather, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a lock to win the 2016 NHL draft lottery and the right to (presumably) select Auston Matthews with the No. 1 overall pick.

    How do we know? Easy. We ran the NHL lottery simulator over at the aptly named nhllotterysimulator.com. And not just once, either. No, we ran the lottery simulator 10 times – and lo and behold, the Leafs ended up with the No. 1 pick four times, the only team to land in the No. 1 slot more than once. (Not to mention, Toronto ended up with a top-three pick nine times in the 10 simulations; the Winnipeg Jets were next with just three top-three results.)

    Here’s a look at the percentage chance for the 14 non-playoff teams at winning the first pick in the 2016 NHL draft:

    1. Toronto Maple Leafs 20%

    2. Edmonton Oilers 13.5%

    3. Vancouver Canucks 11.5%

    4. Columbus Blue Jackets 9.5%

    5. Calgary Flames 8.5%

    6. Winnipeg Jets 7.5%

    7. Arizona Coyotes 6.5%

    8. Buffalo Sabres 6%

    9. Montreal Canadiens 5%

    10. Colorado Avalanche 3.5%

    11. New Jersey Devils 3%

    12. Ottawa Senators 2.5%

    13. Carolina Hurricanes 2%

    14. Boston Bruins 1%

  • 10 questions for the final week of the NHL regular season

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    Entering the final week of the 2015-16 NHL regular season, here are 10 questions looking for answers:

    1. Can anyone steal the Hart Trophy from Patrick Kane?

    It would be a stunning surprise if Kane isn’t named the NHL’s MVP. The Blackhawks winger has been the NHL’s wire-to-wire scoring leader, highlighted by a 26-game point streak which was the league’s longest since 1992-93. He should crack 100 points; the Stars’ Jamie Benn is the only other player who might hit 90 (unless Sidney Crosby goes bonkers in Pittsburgh’s final five games). Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson were in the running for a while, but Holtby had a few bumpy outings down the stretch and Ottawa missing the playoffs all but eliminates Karlsson.    

    2. Will Caps goalie Braden Holtby win 50 games?

    3. Does Connor McDavid have a chance to win the Calder Trophy?

    4. Drew Doughty or Erik Karlsson for the Norris Trophy?

    5. Does Alex Ovechkin have a shot at 50 goals?

    6. Who’s the odd team out in the race for wild-card playoff spots in the East?

    7. Do the Avs have a chance at a wild card in the West?

    8. Who wins the West, the Stars or the Blues?

    9. Who finishes last overall?

  • March madness: 50 reasons why the NHL is better than a college basketball tournament

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    If this was Twitter, this would be hashtagged #50ReasonsToPleaseLikeMySport. But it’s not Twitter, it’s the whole dang Internet. So, here are 50 reasons why the NHL is better than a certain college basketball tournament:

    1. By definition, there can only be one No. 1 seed. This year, it’s the Washington Capitals.

    2. Unlike the NCAA, in the NHL the No. 16 seed beats the No. 1 seed every once in a while. For example, the 16th-place Philadelphia Flyers have played the Capitals three times this season, and beaten them once.

    3. We don’t know much about hockey’s origin, but we do know this: peach baskets were not involved.

    4. Size doesn’t matter: Johnny Gaudreau scores more often than Zdeno Chara.

    5. Nashville slam-dunk: The best team in middle Tennessee state is the Predators.

    6. Duke rebuke: The Devils aren’t blue, the Blues and Jackets are.

    7. The NHL pays its players for the entertainment they provide.

    8. Sixty-four teams make the playoffs? Seems a bit much, no?

    9. Teams from two different countries have a chance to win it all. (Well, most years.)

    10. The floor is made of solid ice.

    11. The players are faster.

    12. The shots are faster.

    13. The last two minutes of the game are way faster.

  • Best of the NHL sophomores: First and Second All-Star Teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    Pity the poor NHL sophomores. No longer are they the league’s rookie darlings, no longer are they the wide-eyed kids full of promise and potential and endless optimism. In their second NHL season they’re faced with the weight of expectations -- to prove that their impressive first year wasn’t a fluke or prove that they belong in the league at all.

    Rookies have the Calder Trophy, but there’s no prize for being the best second-year player in the NHL. Until now. Here are our picks for the NHL Sophomore First and Second All-Star Teams.

    NHL Sophomores: First All-Star Team

    Forwards

    Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals: After 11 goals and 37 points in 80 games last season (and three goals and nine points in a 17-game NHL stint in 2013-14), Kuznetsov is the highest-scoring Russian-born player on Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals and firmly entrenched among the NHL’s top 10 point producers. In other words, he’s doing pretty well. He’s strong, sublimely skilled and a superb skater. It’s hard to believe he lasted until the 26th pick of the 2010 NHL draft.

    Defensemen

    Goalie

    NHL Sophomores: Second All-Star Team

    Forwards

    Defensemen

    Goalie

    MORE NHL COVERAGE FROM YAHOO SPORTS:

  • 40 years after Darryl Sittler's 10-point game: Top 10 unbreakable NHL records

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    Forty years ago on Feb. 7, 1976, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Darryl Sittler set an NHL record that has never been matched -- and in all likelihood, it never will be. Somehow, Sittler scored 10 points in a single game, beating Boston Bruins goalie Dave Reece for six goals and four assists in an 11-4 thumping. Sittler went on to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Reece never played in the NHL again.

    In honor of Sittler’s singular achievement, here are 10 other NHL individual records that won’t be broken any time soon:

    10. Mario Lemieux’s 13 shorthanded goals in 1988-89

    Through 50 games this season, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau led the NHL with five shorties – and that’s already the most by any NHL player since 2010-11, when the Islanders’ Frans Nielsen had seven. In the past 20 years, the most shorthanded goals in a single season is nine, by Boston’s Brian Rolston in 2001-02.

    9. Grant Fuhr’s 14 assists in 1983-84

    8. Dave Schultz’s 472 penalty minutes in 1974-75

    7. Bobby Orr’s plus-124 rating in 1970-71

    6. Martin Brodeur’s 691 career wins

    5. Paul Coffey’s 48 goals in 1985-86

    4. Teemu Selanne’s 76 goals as a rookie in 1992-93

    3. Bill Mosienko’s three goals in 21 seconds

    MORE NHL COVERAGE ON YAHOO SPORTS:

  • Hockey at the Half: The NHL’s top 10 teams, forwards, defensemen, goalies & rookies so far

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 3 mths ago

    Saturday represented the midway point of the 2015-16 NHL season, so here’s a top 10-style check-in on what has happened so far.

    These top 10 rankings might be as noteworthy for who’s missing as who made it. For example:

    — Carey Price, the reigning NHL MVP, is nowhere to be found. Because injuries are the worst.

    — The Tampa Bay Lightning, the up-and-comers who made it to the Stanley Cup final last spring, didn’t crack the top 10 teams. Nor did Steven Stamkos or Ben Bishop rate among the NHL’s best skaters and goalies, respectively.

    — No Sidney Crosby. No Evgeni Malkin. No Pittsburgh Penguins at all, in fact, save for Marc-Andre Fleury.

    — Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim Ducks? Not even close.

    — Perhaps the biggest surprise of all: Connor McDavid isn’t among the top 10 rookies. Because injuries are the worst.

    TOP 10 TEAMS

    1. Washington Capitals: They’ve got it all – scoring, defense, goaltending, depth, coaching. They haven’t won the Stanley Cup since entering the NHL in 1974-75. They’re due.

    3. Chicago Blackhawks: The core, the core, the core.

    4. Los Angeles Kings: They won the Stanley Cup in 2012. They won the Stanley Cup in 2014. Now it’s 2016. You do the math.

    TOP 10 FORWARDS

    TOP 10 DEFENSEMEN

  • Hockey holiday gift guide: 30 presents for the NHL's 30 teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    For some reason, we’re in the gift-giving mood. It must be the time of year.

    Here’s how we’d shower the NHL’s 30 teams with presents:

    Anaheim Ducks: Goals. Sure, pretty much every team in the league needs more scoring, but the Ducks need more scoring on a maybe-they-should’ve-signed-Alexander-Semin level. They’re the only team in the NHL averaging less than two goals per game, at a paltry 1.83. Ryan Getzlaf, a perennial MVP-caliber player, has one goal in 26 games. If you were Corey Perry’s linemate for 26 NHL games, you might have one goal.

    Arizona Coyotes: More rookies. Why not? The Coyotes are playing four first-year players regularly, and they like what they see. Max Domi is leading the team in points and tied with Anthony Duclair for second in goals with 10. Another forward, Jordan Martinook, doesn’t get the recognition but he’s playing 15-plus minutes a night, while defenseman Klas Dahlbeck is skating 16:37 per game and was a key part in the deal that sent Antonie Vermette to Chicago last season.

    Calgary Flames: A bona fide, gold-plated, guaranteed No. 1 goaltender. With a bow on top.

    Carolina Hurricanes: See Flames, Calgary.

    Columbus Blue Jackets: A do-over.

  • The top 5 candidates for the top 5 NHL trophies (Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder and ... one more)

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    Let’s be honest. We probably can’t even agree on the top five NHL trophies, never mind the top five candidates for each one through the first two months of the 2015-16 NHL season.

    But let’s give it our best shot anyway…

    HART TROPHY

    1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

    2. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

    3. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

    4. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

    5. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

    Top 5 honorable mentions: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars; Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens; Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks; Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Kane’s scoring streak makes him the MVP so far. It’s not a runaway, but it will be if the Blackhawks star continues to produce at a best-in-20-NHL-seasons pace. Benn, Lundqvist and Holtby are in the second tier, with the time and acumen to catch up. Karlsson’s the outsider among the top five but if he drives the Sens to near the top of the Eastern Conference, he’s got a chance at becoming the first defenseman to win the Hart Trophy since Chris Pronger in 1999-2000.

    NORRIS TROPHY

    1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

    2. John Klingberg, Dallas Stars

    3. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

    VEZINA TROPHY

    CALDER TROPHY

  • 10 snapshots of the NHL season so far: Stars, streaks and big sticks

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 5 mths ago

    And just like that, the first quarter of the 2015-16 NHL season has come and gone. Here are 10 highlights – with a lowlight or two thrown in -- through the first seven weeks of the schedule:

    Doing it again in Dallas: The secret’s been out on Jamie Benn for a quite a while, but with a league-leading 16 goals through 22 games he was on a pace for 60 this season. That would obliterate his personal best of 35 set last year, and Benn would join Steven Stamkos (60 goals in 2011-112) and Alex Ovechkin (65 in 2007-08) as the only NHL players to reach 60 since Jaromir Jagr – who else? – scored 62 in 1995-96.

    Another shooting Star: Dallas’ John Klingberg went from the AHL at the start of last season to battling Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for the scoring lead among NHL defensemen through the first quarter of the current campaign. And he’s only 23, there’s more to come. Then again, Karlsson is only 25. Sweden’s power play should be pretty good at the 2018 Olympics (assuming, you know, the NHL goes to the Games).

  • Alex Ovechkin takes over Russia: Top 10 all-time NHL goal-scorers by country

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 5 mths ago

    With Alex Ovechkin overtaking Sergei Fedorov as the Russian player with the most career goals in NHL history, we wanted to take a look at the all-time top 10 goal-scorers for the seven heavyweight hockey nations: Canada, United States, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden.

    In honor of Ovechkin’s milestone we’ll start with Russia; there are a few notes below each country’s top 10 list.

    RUSSIA

    1. Alex Ovechkin 484

    2. Sergei Fedorov 483

    3. Alexander Mogilny 473

    4. Pavel Bure 437

    5. Alex Kovalev 430

    6. Ilya Kovalchuk 417

    7. Vyachelsav Kozlov 356

    8. Alexei Yashin 337

    9. Pavel Datsyuk 298

    10. Evgeni Malkin 275

    Ovechkin, at 30 years old, is far from finished. Assuming good health, he should be able to hit 700 goals – and maybe quite a bit more. Whether he can challenge (spoiler alert) Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL goal mark is doubtful; for all of his exploits, he’s only a little over halfway to 894. Ovechkin (484 goals in 777 games) and Pavel Bure (437 goals in 702 games) are tied for Russia’s all-time goals-per-game pace at 0.62. Also notable is Ilya Kovalchuk, who made it to 417 goals in just 816 NHL games before heading back home to play in the KHL.

    CANADA

    1. Wayne Gretzky 894

    FINLAND