As much as Jon Cooper doesn’t want us to, fans and media have high expectations for the team. And as much so for prospect Jonathan Drouin.
Google Jonathan Drouin Calder Trophy and you’ll see all the endless chatter about his chances. I’ll only add to that, but there is some stiff competition for Drouin from players not in the last two draft classes.
Sure, people are going to see how Sam Reinhart, Aaron Ekblad could be shoe-ins, but then you have these guys, too:
If there’s someone who has more expectations to perform in his first NHL season than Drouin, it’s this 22-year-old Russian. The Washington Capitals watched in anguish as the star spent six years playing in Russia while he could have been playing with Ovechkin, Backstrom and at one time, Semin and Fedorov. The 6-foot-3 winger is pegged to have the skill of Backstrom and a knack for clutch moments. He’s won the KHL championship and won three golds and two silver in international play. However, there is a concern about his injuries. Picked 26th overall 2010.
Here’s another KHLer that seems like it’s just not fair. The Finnish 26-year-old won Olympic bronze in Sochi this year and has put up nearly a point per game in the short KHL seasons. He did play seven games with the Blues AHL affiliate in 2009 showing just how long the organization has been waiting for him to settle in St. Louis. Some sites have him pegged in a fourth-line role under coach Ken Hitchcock, but he’ll likely rise. Picked 65th overall in 2008.
Nephew of Donavon McNabb and son of a retired CFLer, the guy has superior athletic genes. Now that he’s done with junior hockey and won a gold for Canada in the World Junior Championships, it’s time for him to see if he can make the next step. The Oilers have a stronger defensive corps than they had recently, but he could outplay guys competing for the sixth spot, including former Bolt Keith Aulie. Picked 7th overall in 2013.
College players like Kevin Hayes, Johnny Gaudreau and a few others ought to make the race interesting, too.
We’re only 38 days until the first pre-season NHL game for the Bolts to at least satisfy some sort of craving for the rookie race to begin.
- Lightning continue to bring out two-minute doses of Jon Cooper talking about the upcoming season to get us through the off-season. Tampa Bay Lightning
- A Crosby, Tavares, MacKinnon, Okposo, Clarkson and Duchene walk into an ice rink…the Germain Arena in Estero, home of the Lightning’s ECHL affiliate. The group worked out there informally with closed-door practices Monday through Friday, as the Naples Daily News published the interviews Friday evening. Le sigh. The Canadian Press and AP picked up the story as the Naples website put the report behind a firewall.
- NBC2 also has video of Crosby talking about his workouts at Germain Arena and about the new-look Penguins, if you care about that rag-tag group. Brian Colleran | NBC 2
- Former Bolt Simon Gagne has signed a camp tryout with the Boston Bruins. I honestly thought he retired. Amalie Benjamin | Boston Globe
- Retired Bolt goalie Mathieu Garon is sticking around the area. He’s going to be offering youth goalie clinics at X-tra Ice in Tampa. X-tra Ice
- I swear officer, it’s not mine! More details of the Ryan Malone cocaine and DUI arrest come out from a public information request. Joe Smith | Tampa Bay Times
- So…many…ice bucket challenges from the Tampa Bay Lightning players and staff. Tampa Bay Lightning
- ESPN produced a subscription-only ranking of NHL prospects and turns out that Jonathan Drouin is ranked as No. 1 skater and Andrei Vasilevskiy was the top goaltender. Erik Erlendsson | Tampa Tribune