All posts by Craig Hagerman

Canucks sign top prospect Pettersson to entry-level deal

The Vancouver Canucks signed forward Elias Pettersson to a three-year, entry-level contract, the team announced Friday.

Pettersson is coming off a stellar first season in the SHL where he paced the league in both regular-season and playoff scoring with 56 and 19 points respectively, each standing as new SHL records by a U20 player.

"Elias is a talented offensive player with tremendous vision and skill," general manager Jim Benning said in a release. "Like most Canucks fans we watched with excitement the incredible season he had in Sweden. This is an important offseason of training and development for Elias and we expect him to be ready to challenge for a roster spot in training camp."

His impeccable season earned him a boatload of hardware. Pettersson captured the SHL championship, was named Rookie of the Year and Best Forward, and earned MVP honors for both the regular season and playoffs.

Pettersson was selected fifth overall in last year's draft.

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Report: Komarov’s agent hopes to discuss future in Toronto with Dubas

It would appear Leo Komarov would prefer to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.

Komarov is a pending unrestricted free agent and his representative Todd Diamond is hopeful he and newly appointed general manager Kyle Dubas will meet soon to discuss his client's future with the team, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

Komarov has played his entire five-year NHL career with the Maple Leafs but is coming off his worst season statistically, in which he tallied just seven goals and 19 points in 74 games.

During the playoffs, Komarov spent the majority of the Maple Leafs' series against the Boston Bruins as a scratch, playing in just two games of the seven-game series.

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3 things that led to the Jets’ demise vs. Golden Knights

After taking out the Nashville Predators in a heated seven-game series in the second round, it seemed like a near formality that the Winnipeg Jets would cruise into the Stanley Cup Final.

There was just one problem, though - they met a determined Vegas club. After taking Game 1, the Jets were grounded by the Golden Knights in the final four games and ousted from the playoffs.

After such a promising campaign followed by two strong rounds in the postseason, the loss in the conference finals has, presumably, left an emptiness with the Jets and their fans. In the end, there were three main aspects that led to the team's downfall:

Goaltending

Entering the series, the goaltending battle was expected to be among the best in the playoffs. In one end, a Vezina Trophy nominee in Connor Hellebuyck, and in the other, the Conn Smythe Trophy front-runner Marc-Andre Fleury.

Game 1 was a bit of a wash with Hellebuyck coming out slightly ahead statistically, but from Game 2 to Game 5, it was quite clear that Fleury had the upper hand over his counterpart.

Fleury Stat Hellebuyck
4 GP 4
135 Shots Against 118
6 Goals Against 11
.956 SV% .907
1.50 GAA 2.82

Overall, Fleury was by far the more tested goalie, facing 161 shots to Hellebuyck's 139. Fleury also faced a higher number of quality scoring chances and once again came out the victor against Hellebuyck.

Lack of secondary scoring

Now, while Hellebuyck might shoulder a lot of the blame for the Jets' exit, the fact is, many of the club's most dependable scorers also failed to get results.

Through five games, the Jets found the back of the net just 10 times, and among those, only six came at five-on-five. Meanwhile, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine were the only Jets to score more than a single goal in the series, accounting for half of the team's production.

Further, Blake Wheeler, Mathieu Perreault, Paul Stastny, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Bryan Little all went goalless in the series (though Wheeler did record six assists). In all, only four forwards mustered a goal against the Golden Knights.

Entering the series, it was quite clear that the Golden Knights were up against a potent offense, the likes of which they had not encountered in the previous two rounds, but in the end, they were able to neutralize the Jets' most deadly weapons.

Golden Knights' opportunistic play

What was easily the most demoralizing part of the Golden Knights' attack was how opportunistic they were.

After Game 1 of the series, the Golden Knights clamped down on the Jets' offense, so much so that Winnipeg never held a lead at any point through the rest of the series. This was mainly due to the fact that on three separate occasions, Vegas quickly responded to a Jets goal by scoring one of their own less than 90 seconds later.

On top of that, the Jets largely outplayed the Golden Knights in the series. Winnipeg outshot Vegas 161-140 and owned the majority of quality scoring chances.

At five-on-five, the Jets had 60 high-danger scoring chances compared to 40 from the Golden Knights. However, Vegas was able to capitalize on seven of those chances while the Jets were successful on only three. That comes out to a high-danger save percentage of .950 for Fleury and .825 for Hellebuyck.

The Jets took a huge step forward this season. They won their first playoff game and their first two series in franchise history. They proved to be among the best teams in the league, but when it came to the Western Conference Final, it's evident that these three things ultimately brought their run to a halt.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Blues’ Scottrade Center to be renamed Enterprise Center

The St. Louis Blues and Enterprise announced a longtime naming-rights agreement that will see "Scottrade Center" renamed "Enterprise Center" on Monday.

The agreement is for 15 years with an additional five-year option and goes into effect on July 1.

"The Blues call this building St. Louis’ town hall, where people come to watch everything from hockey to concerts to NCAA basketball," said president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation Jo Ann Taylor Kindle. "Going forward, the name of this town hall will be Enterprise Center."

The partnership comes while the soon-to-be Enterprise Center is currently undergoing renovations that will include more dining and beverage options and create new gather spaces within the arena.

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Ovechkin: Game 6 vs. Lightning ‘probably’ most important of my career

Monday night's Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will be new territory for Alex Ovechkin.

The Washington Capitals captain - who's playing in his first conference finals - will be looking to help keep his team's Stanley Cup aspirations alive, and admitted it's likely the biggest game of his 13-year NHL career.

"Yeah, probably," Ovechkin replied when asked if Game 6 would be the most important contest he's played to date, according to NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "It's two steps and you're in the Stanley Cup Final. We just have to play our best. We can't lose. They have the advantage right now, but we have to win the game and go back and play Game 7 in Tampa."

The Capitals - who trail the Lightning 3-2 in the series - will be back at home on Sunday, where they lost Games 3 and 4. Still, Ovechkin expressed confidence that his team can turn things around.

"Tonight is the night," he said, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.

With a win in Game 6, the Lightning would punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Vegas Golden Knights await. If Washington wins, Game 7 would be Wednesday night in Tampa Bay.

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Report: Wild to name Paul Fenton general manager

The Minnesota Wild are set to name Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton as the team's third general manager in team history, according to Michael Russo of The Athletic.

Fenton was reportedly offered the job nearly two days ago and sources confirmed to Russo on Sunday that he had indeed accepted. It is expected that he'll be introduced by the team on Monday or Tuesday.

The 58-year-old has been with the Predators for 18 years, serving as the team's AGM for the past 10. It was reported back in late April that Fenton was interviewing for the job and he also reportedly interviewed for the Carolina Hurricanes GM job, but withdrew his name from the job in March.

The Wild elected not to re-sign previous general manager Chuck Fletcher this past season after the club was bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the third straight season and the fourth time in six years.

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Golden Knights’ GM at a loss to explain team’s success

Even the architect of their success can't fully understand the juggernaut that is the Vegas Golden Knights.

With a win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon, Vegas is heading to the Stanley Cup Final. And while general manager George McPhee was the man who built the team's roster from scratch, it's safe to say even he didn't predict a trip to the finals.

"It's a hell of a team. I don't know how we did it," McPhee said, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. "We just played our game and these players played their guts out. There's just something special about them. They made it happen. I don't know how to explain it."

That McPhee is at a loss for words shouldn't really come as a surprise, especially considering that the Golden Knights have become just the third team in NHL history to clinch a berth in the Cup Final in its inaugural season.

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Golden Knights become 3rd team ever to reach Cup final in inaugural season

The Vegas Golden Knights punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final and in doing so - as they have been doing all season - made history in the process.

With their win on Sunday afternoon the Golden Knights became just the third team in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas who did so in 1918 and the St. Louis Blues in 1968.

Vegas also became just the seventh team in history to clinch three series on the road to reach the Cup final.

All this considered, these accolades pale in comparison to what could be if the team can manage four more wins this postseason.

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Twitter amazed by Golden Knights punching ticket to Cup Final

They did it.

The Vegas Golden Knights booked their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.

The idea of an expansion team reaching the big show is difficult to comprehend. So when the Golden Knights actually made it happen, Twitter was left astonished.

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