Panthers’ Barkov, Jokinen to represent Finland at World Championship

A pair of Florida Panthers forwards will play for Finland at the upcoming World Hockey Championship.

Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen are headed to Russia next month to represent their home nation at the tournament, which runs May 6-22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Barkov notched a career-high 28 goals and 59 points in his third season with the Panthers. He won bronze with Finland at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and registered seven points in eight games at the 2015 World Championship.

Jokinen recorded 60 points in 81 games with Florida in 2015-16. He'll be representing Finland at the tournament for a seventh time.

The veteran winger has two Olympic medals to his name, earning a silver for Finland in 2006 and a bronze in 2014.

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Conn Smythe Power Rankings: Holtby imperatively brilliant in Round 1

The Conn Smythe Trophy for the league's postseason MVP remains almost exclusively reserved for a Stanley Cup champion. So, with just one round in the books, we acknowledge that it's far too soon to really consider anyone for the career-defining honor.

But of course, that hasn't stopped us from ranking individual performances with antecedent information we've gained from series to series before.

So, back for another spring, it's theScore's Conn Smythe Power Rankings:

1) Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

The greatness not necessarily required throughout the regular season was from the Vezina Trophy front-runner in Round 1.

Holtby posted a .968 save clip and 0.84 goals-against average, and allowed five goals with two recorded shutouts for the Capitals (he had three in the regular season) in their six-game triumph over the Flyers, helping them avoid a potentially calamitous collapse after their offense ran dry.

Washington scored six times at even strength in the series, and only twice in its three elimination tries, and will move onward having scored 14 goals (tied for the fewest among advancing teams) - a total a touch inflated by its garbage-time outburst in Game 3.

2) John Tavares, New York Islanders

Tavares was, more than any other skater, absolutely essential for his team's advancement.

The Islanders captain scored five times, totaling nine points, in the club's six-game series with the Panthers. He scored in the final minute to tie, and again in his 32nd minute of their double-overtime eliminator, almost single-handedly lifting the franchise to its first series win in 23 seasons.

He's since taken the lead in postseason scoring with 11 points after netting a goal and assist in Game 1 versus the Lightning.

3) Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

The NHL's most consistent scorer, well, consistently scored in Round 1. Benn compiled four goals, six assists, and a league-best 10 points as the Stars vanquished Minnesota in six games.

Most impressively, his dominance was most prevalent at even strength. He earned a league-best eight points at five-on-five, contributing on half the team's total production in that scenario.

4) Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Stepping into Steven Stamkos' shoes as the Lightning's specialized sniper, Kucherov provided virtually all the offense Tampa Bay needed to slip past the Red Wings for a second straight spring.

Kucherov was one of just two players to score goals at a per-game rate in Round 1, scoring five times on 15 shots. He was in on 75 percent of the team's total offense, assisting three times.

5) Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

The lone defender to produce better than a point per game, Burns tallied twice and collected eight points as the Sharks swiftly broke down the best statistically defensive team in the West.

To that, he was miles ahead of Drew Doughty in the series, a showcase that might give pause to Norris Trophy voters. Or not.

Of note

Sidney Crosby - Eight points and the driving force behind a power play that fired at a 38 percent clip.

Alex Pietrangelo - A rock on the back end for St. Louis, he took almost 214 minutes in seven games versus the Blackhawks, adding six points. How did his own general manager leave him off Team Canada again?

Joe Pavelski - The only other per-game goal-scorer in these playoffs, how quickly the Sharks did away with Los Angeles might be the only thing holding him back.

Pekka Rinne - Rinne did everything to rid himself of his haunting season in goal for the Predators by stealing Game 7 with 36 saves in Anaheim.

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Senators’ Melnyk wins initial bidding for new downtown rink

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk's RendezVous LeBreton was granted preferred status on Thursday, winning the bid to redevelop LeBreton Flats - the coveted slice of real estate close to the downtown core.

It's now up to him and his team to negotiate with the National Capital Commission, which recommended his bid over another submission, to broker a deal that will bring the Senators a new arena.

Melnyk said this moves "solidifies" the franchise, and hopes it's a step in bringing in the franchises first Stanley Cup.

Immediately looking ahead, Melnyk announced shortly after the decision that the plan is to have the Senators begin their 2021-22 season in an arena built downtown.

Plans for Kanata's Canadian Tire Center will be unveiled when the process is completed, according to the Senators owner.

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Former Maple Leafs brawler Colton Orr announces retirement

Former Toronto Maple Leafs agitator Colton Orr announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday.

The 34-year-old made the announcement after 13 professional seasons, nine of which he spent in the NHL.

"I feel privileged to have played for a decade in the NHL and to have had the support of four great organizations in Boston, New York, Toronto and Calgary," Orr said in a release. "I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play with great teammates and against great players, many of whom have become great friends. It has been an amazing journey that would not have been anywhere near as fulfilling as it was without the love and support of fans, friends, agents, GMs, coaches and family."

Orr spent time with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, but struck a chord with Maple Leafs fans for his skill in the fisticuffs.

He finishes his career with 12 goals, 12 assists, and 1,186 penalty minutes.

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Twitter reacts to Red Wings’ announcement of Little Caesars Arena

The Detroit Red Wings announced the name of their new arena on Thursday, one which left many cheesed.

The Red Wings' new home will be Little Caesars Arena, and fans are clearly up in arms about it - in the best way possible.

Hopefully the announcement of this new logo is not forth coming.

It's not all bad.

Heck, it might even be good luck.

Mama johns for the ladies, of course.

If the logo above doesn't suffice, there is always this.

And while others had fun with it, some were just straight-up mad.

Of course, a Crying Jordan was bound to appear.

And now fans can amuse themselves trying to come up with a nickname.

The new arena will be hot and ready for the start of the 2017 season.

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Connor McDavid recreates Drake’s album art

If the ping-pong balls had landed just right last year for his hometown, Connor McDavid would, in least a figurative sense, be at the very height of the city of Toronto.

But, because the Edmonton Oilers have that lottery locked, Maple Leafs fans will just have to settle for a little Photoshop.

McDavid posted this photo to his Twitter on Thursday, showing that he too is excited for fellow local product Drake's new album to drop.

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Torchetti ‘a serious candidate’ for Wild’s permanent head coaching position

John Torchetti could have a leg up on the competition.

Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told reporters Thursday that the interim boss, after his work in recovering a postseason berth, has emerged as a "very serious candidate" for the full-time role

"Torchetti was able to push and pull this team into a playoff position," Fletcher said.

The former Iowa Wild boss inherited Mike Yeo's floundering roster in mid-February, taking a team that lost 13 of the 14 games that preceded his arrival, and performing above the .500 mark the rest of the way.

Torchetti sparked some of the younger members of the Wild, namely Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, and Matt Dumba. But significant injuries and ultimately a general scoring dearth resulted in the club backing into the postseason with 87 points before bowing out to the top-seeded Dallas Stars in six games.

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1st overall pick a rare prize for Canadian teams

While viewership for the NHL playoffs is down in Canada, Saturday's draft lottery is sure to pique interest up north.

Heading into the lottery, Canadian clubs hold a collective 68.5-percent chance of snatching the illustrious first overall selection. The top pick is difficult for any club to attain, and in recent time has been near impossible for all Canadian clubs to acquire, outside of the Edmonton Oilers.

In the last 20 years, the Oilers are the lone Canadian team to own the draft's first pick. While they've seemingly hoarded top picks, selecting first in four of the past six drafts, the other Canadian clubs have endured first-pick droughts.

Here's a look a look at each Canadian team's last go round with the 1st overall pick:

Edmonton Oilers (last 1st pick: 2015)

While the Oilers didn't start accumulating first overall picks until 2010 when they selected Taylor Hall, the team has since come out on the winning side of the draft more often than not.

They've been the envy of the league - in terms of draft position - and even managed to muscle away "The Next One" in Connor McDavid from the Buffalo Sabres last year.

Ottawa Senators (last 1st pick: 1996)

The last Canadian team other than the Oilers to pick first overall was the Senators. And, like the Oilers, they enjoyed a string of bad seasons that saw them pick first in 1993, 1995, and 1996.

They used the picks to select Alexandre Daigle, Bryan Berard, and Chris Phillips, with the latter two turning out slightly better than the first.

Quebec Nordiques

The Nordiques - the now-Colorado Avalanche - were the third to last Canadian team to have the first pick.

As part of the trend, they too enjoyed three straight No. 1 selections from 1989-1991, but what a haul they got. The team used the picks to draft Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, and Eric Lindros. Although we all know what happened to Lindros.

Toronto Maple Leafs (last 1st pick: 1985)

While fans of the Maple Leafs have felt the agony of no Stanley Cup since 1967, and just one playoff appearance in the last 12 years, they've also had just one first overall selection in 30 years.

In 1985, the Leafs selected Wendel Clark. Though he became a fan favorite, he didn't help put an end to the team's Cup drought. Until this season, the team hasn't been bad enough - or they traded away their pick (Scott Niedermayer; Tyler Seguin) - to select a potential franchise player.

Winnipeg Jets (last 1st pick: 1981)

While the Jets went on hiatus when the team moved to Phoenix in 1996, and returned in 2011 after the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers, the city hasn't seen the likes of a first overall pick since Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk was picked in 1981.

Hawerchuk would capture the Calder Trophy during the 1981-82 season and hit the 100-point plateau in six of his nine seasons with the team.

Montreal Canadiens (last 1st pick: 1980)

The Canadiens' first overall pick drought runs deep, but to be fair, they've also captured a Stanley Cup in the last 23 years, which no other Canadian team has done.

Not all first overall picks are studs, though.

In 1980, the club selected Doug Wickenheiser ahead of Denis Savard and Paul Coffey. Unfortunately, he played only four seasons with the team, never hitting more than 25 goals or 55 points in a season.

Credit where credit is due, though: they did draft Guy Lafleur first overall in 1971 and he turned out pretty well.

Vancouver Canucks/Calgary Flames (zero 1st overall picks)

And while the teams above may sulk at the fact they've had long dry spells between first overall selections, the fact is those picks are luxuries and not owed.

The Canucks and Flames have gone their entire existences without ever picking first, dating back to 1970 and 1972, respectively.

However, with another draft lottery just days away, hope once again springs eternal with yet another chance at hockey's ultimate last-place prize.

This season marks the best chance Canadian teams have had at adding raw talent. There's collective 55-percent chance a team not named the Oilers will be awarded such a rare opportunity.

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Remember, we are all Canucks!