Sam McCaig

  • Auston Matthews & more: The 15 best NHL season debuts

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Who did the most damage in their NHL season debut?

    Auston Matthews, of course. Everybody knows that. But the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie wasn’t the only one who lit it up in his first game of 2016-17.

    Here are fifteen players who delivered a shining performance on opening night:

    Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

    As mentioned, the Leafs’ 19-year-old rookie had a pretty good start. In fact, he had the best start ever , making history with four goals against the Ottawa Senators in his NHL debut. The Leafs lost 5-4 in OT, but that barely rates as a footnote.

    Kyle Turris, Ottawa Senators

    The guy scores the tying goal in the third period and the game-winner in overtime at home on opening night … and the only thing everybody wants to talk about is Auston Matthews.

    Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

    Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

    Is this the year the Blues sniper approaches 50 goals and challenges for the Rocket Richard Trophy? He got off to a flying start with a pair of goals – and an assist – against the Chicago Blackhawks on opening night.

    Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens

    Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

    Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

    Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins


  • Top 10 all-Canadian NHL games in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    1. October 12: Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators

    The 2016-17 NHL season opener is an all-Ontario affair between the kid-powered Leafs and Erik Karlsson’s Senators. It’s the only meeting for the provincial rivals in the 2016 portion of the NHL schedule; they play three times in 2017, starting on Jan. 24.

    2. October 12: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers

    The opening night of the NHL season also features the first ‘Battle of Alberta’ at Rogers Place, the Oilers’ fancy new arena. Prediction: Connor McDavid scores the first goal. And the second. And the third…

    3. October 23: Edmonton Oilers at Winnipeg Jets

    The Heritage Classic between the Jets and Oilers -- the NHL’s first of four outdoor games in 2016-17 -- is less than two weeks away. If it seems early, that’s because it is: it’s only the fifth game of the season for the Jets and the sixth for the Oilers. The Leafs also play an outdoor game this season, hosting the Detroit Red Wings in the Centennial Classic on Jan. 1.

    4. October 29: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens

    The NHL’s original rivals, the Leafs and the Habs, face off for the first time in 2016-17 on a Saturday night, natch. Who you got, Auston Matthews or Carey Price?

  • Top 10 prospects to watch for the 2017 NHL draft

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago

    The 2017 NHL draft is a long way off, but it's never too early to take a look at hockey's future. Just ask the NHL's Central Scouting Service and ISS Hockey, both of which released their first set of prospect rankings for the 2017 draft. You can scroll down to the bottom of this story to see those rankings, as well as the top 15 prospects according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

    But first, here are our top 10 prospects to watch entering the 2016-17 season, with a quick quote analysis on each player:

    1. NOLAN PATRICK, C, Brandon (WHL)

    The quote: "Patrick is as complete an NHL package as you are going to find. From his pedigree, his skills and assets, to his performance impact to date, he has everything any NHL team is looking for in a top prospect." -- Dan Marr, NHL director of Central Scouting Service.

    2. TIMOTHY LILJEGREN, D, Rogle (Swe. Jr.)

    The quote: "The undisputed top defenseman in this draft and, at this point, it's not even close. ... He's an elite skater, both in terms of speed and agility, and adept at running a power play. He is seen as both a puck mover and an offensive point producer." -- Bob McKenzie, TSN Hockey Insider

  • 2016-17 NHL odds for the Stanley Cup, conference champs, division winners & over/under point totals

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 20 days ago

    The Chicago Blackhawks are favored to win their fourth Stanley Cup in eight years, according to Bodog.

    The oddsmaker lists the Blackhawks ahead of the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals, all of who came in at 10/1 to claim the Cup. The Dallas Stars (12/1) and St. Louis Blues (14/1) are next, with the Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks at 16/1 to round out the NHL's top 10 of Stanley Cup favorites. (Bodog's odds for the Eastern and Western Conference champions and division winners can be found below the chart with Stanley Cup odds.)

    Here are the Stanley Cup odds for all 30 NHL teams, plus their projected over/under point total in 2016-17:

    Best bet: Tampa Bay went to the Stanley Cup final in 2015 and the East final in 2016. They've got the star power and secondary support to go deep in the playoffs again. Take the Lightning at 10/1.

    Long shot: We're not saying a coaching change is going to deliver the Cup to Colorado. But at 50/1, the Avs are worth considering.

    EASTERN CONFERENCE: Team-by-team odds to win division & conference

  • Making the jump: Islanders prospect Barzal believes he's ready for NHL challenge

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Mathew Barzal made a good impression in his first NHL training camp with the New York Islanders last fall. He turned a few heads, got into some exhibition games and generally performed up to expectations as the team’s first-round pick, 16th overall, in the 2015 entry draft.

    This year, however, the expectations are different. This year, people are talking about the 19-year-old Barzal – he doesn’t turn 20 until next May – making the jump from junior sensation to NHL regular. Not only that, some believe that Barzal will be New York’s second-line center, behind only superstar John Tavares on the team’s depth chart.

    For his part, Barzal has heard the talk. But he knows that it’s his actions over the next few weeks that will dictate where he plays this season.

    “I don’t play close attention to it,” said Barzal at a recent Upper Deck showcase for NHL rookie hopefuls in Toronto. “It’s really nothing for me, I’ve still got to go and prove myself.”

    “Last year’s camp was great,” Barzal said. “I got some preseason experience and the chance to play against some full-time NHLers. I took a lot out of it and I learned a lot from John Tavares and some other players.

  • Hockey heroes: NHL rookie hopefuls name their first favorite player

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Who did the kids look up to when they were kids? At a photo shoot for Upper Deck this week, we asked a handful of NHL rookie hopefuls to recall their first hockey hero.

    (Warning: Reading this might make you feel old.)

    Pierre-Luc Dubois, C (drafted third overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016): “Growing up, I liked Henrik Zetterberg. The first Stanley Cup I remember was 2008 when the Red Wings won so he was kind of my player.”

    Matthew Tkachuk, LW (drafted sixth overall by the Calgary Flames in 2016): “Sidney Crosby. What he did at such a young age, I remember he won a Stanley Cup at 19 or 20. I love watching him and (Evgeni) Malkin play together…and I watch (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews. I guess David Backes, too, he lived at my house for a year-and-a-half.”

    Ivan Provorov, D (drafted seventh overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015): “I always liked Nick Lidstrom when he played. I thought he was the best two-way defenseman and I always tried to pattern my game after him.”

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 defensemen in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 defensemen in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

    1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Just ask anybody, he’s the best defenseman in the league.

    2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings: Just ask anybody, he’s the best defenseman in the league.

    3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning: A beauty and a beast.

    4. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks: He’s logged a lot of miles on a not-real-big body, but who else would you rather have out there when it’s all on the line?

    5. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins: So smooth you take him for granted. Don’t.

    6. P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators: Vive la difference. Right, Montreal?

    7. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: Wookie of the year (and it wasn’t close).

    8. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators: Nothing neutral about Swiss star’s game.

    10. Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens: They say he’s on the decline, but we’ve got big expectations for his debut season in Montreal.

    25. Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets: Just getting started.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 goalies in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 goalies in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Tell us where we went right -- or gently point out where we went wrong -- in the comments section.

    1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: The Habs had the NHL’s best record when Price was in net for them last season – and the NHL’s worst record after he went down with injury. So yeah, he’s pretty good.

    2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals: Flirted with 50 wins last year before settling in with an NHL-record-tying total of 48 en route to his first Vezina Trophy.

    3. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils: The league’s best goalie who gets the least hype.

    4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning: He’s bigger than the net, which helps.

    5. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Almost as good at goaltending as he is at looking good.

    6. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: He took a step back last season, a reflection of the team in front of him.

    7. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: When he’s on, he’s unbeatable. And he’s usually on.

    9. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers: Twitter sensation @strombone1 still going strong at age 37.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 left wingers in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 left wingers in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. You can let us know where we went wrong (or right!) in the comments section.

    1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: They might call him the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But will they also call him a Stanley Cup champion?

    2. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars: The best 129th overall draft pick ever.

    3. Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils: The best first overall draft pick ever traded for Adam Larsson.

    4. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames: He’s much smaller than you are. He’s also much, much better at hockey than you are.

    5. Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: Look for the Habs captain to record his fourth consecutive 30-plus goal season.

    6. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: Nobody likes him and he really seems to like it like that.

    7. Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues: A two-way force with a laser shot.

    8. Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators: Hey, he’s no Martin Erat but he’s alright.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 right wingers in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 right wingers in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Let us know what you think in the comments section. Please play nice...

    1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: The reigning MVP and league scoring champion blends ultra-elite skill and high-end speed with a desire to win and an innate ability to come through in the clutch.

    2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues: The sky’s the limit for dazzling goal-scorer.

    3. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning: He’s racked up 21 goals and 41 points in 43 playoff games over the past two postseasons.

    4. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: Preeminent scorer and a pain to play against.

    5. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins: He flies down the wing and rips a wrist shot past the goalie. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    6. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets: A true power forward who’s big, fast and physical.

    7. Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers: He’s a lot better than the 11-goal season he put up last year.

    10. James Neal, Nashville Predators: Big shooter, big hitter.