Happy May 14. This happened five years ago today:
And, let us not forget May 14, 2013:
That was Game 1 against the Sharks in 2013, a game the Kings led 2-0 when Jarret Stoll was hit in the head by Raffi Torres late in the second period and didn’t play again until the Western Conference Final. “Well, we weren’t resting him and he didn’t come back,” Darryl Sutter said after the game. Jonathan Quick made 35 saves in the second of his three shutouts through the first two rounds. The Chicago series was not as kind – though he and his teammates battled back courageously after this one.
Really quickie. Where was this 10 days ago
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) June 9, 2013
Remember hockey in May? Hockey in May was fun.
OF SUBSTANCE. The lede from Elliotte Friedman’s most recent 31 Thoughts:
Sam Cosentino’s 2019 NHL draft rankings for May are out. I concede this is much more his expertise than mine. He knows these guys much, much better than I do.
From what I’m hearing, there is some consensus developing around the top four or five. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are one-two, with Kaako widening eyes in the early days of the world championships. (Thumbs up to New Jersey’s social media team for lusting after both players on its Twitter feed. Very good.) The Rangers at number two can relax and be happy with whatever they get.
A few teams I spoke with believe WHL Vancouver defenceman Bowen Byram and U.S. National Team Development Program centre Alex Turcotte are separating themselves at three and four, although Sam thinks one of Turcotte’s teammates — centre Trevor Zegras — is in that group. Sixth on his list is WHL Lethbridge centre Dylan Cozens.
Interesting stuff. It should also be stated that the consensus isn’t necessarily on how the first six picks will transpire. Teams have different lists, certain teams may rely more heavily on the U-18 tournament, where players like Turcotte and Zegras had very good showings, compared to the lukewarm appraisal of Dylan Cozen’s game at the tournament and a performance by Vasily Podkolzin that, combined with his KHL contract status – he’s signed for two more seasons in the KHL, it has been reported numerous places – has him trending down in the draft, perhaps towards a team willing (and able) to be more patient.
If you’re reading between the lines, the news here is that Bowen Byram probably won’t be around by the time the Kings take the podium, and that’s another casualty of “losing” the draft lottery. Whether or not the Kings would take him, he’s the consensus best defenseman available, with one NHL amateur scout sharing with LAKI they’d “put him in Drew Doughty category,” and it would have been nice to have had the option to draft him. (That assessment corroborated much of what I was hearing and sharing about Byram on LAKI throughout the year.) For what it’s worth, Chicago has drafted a glut of high-profile defensemen like Adam Boqvist and Henri Jokiharju, as Friedman pointed out, so perhaps he slips by them. But I’ve never heard a general manager say, “UGH, I JUST HAVE TOO MANY GOOD DEFENSEMEN, THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM,” so I’m not sure if that really applies at all to the Hawks, who have made encouraging moves and can benefit from draft lottery fortune in accelerating their organizational turnaround.
Not draft-related, but Friedman also noted that new Edmonton general manager Ken Holland will have to make a decision on Jay Woodcroft, who has widely been expected to be pursued by Todd McLellan. “Woodcroft did an excellent job with the [Bakersfield] and its prospects, but the expectation is Todd McLellan will want his former Oilers assistant to re-join him with the Kings,” Friedman wrote. “Woodcroft built a new identity for himself, but where does he see a better future?”
WORLDS. While Anze Kopitar’s campaign with Slovenia at the Division I-A World Championship ended last week, Alec Martinez, Adrian Kempe and Ilya Kovalchuk are participating at the main event in Slovakia, with Martinez stationed in Kosice and Kempe and Kovalchuk in Bratislava. It’s too early to make anything yet from this tournament; the United States lost to the hosts before resoundingly defeating France and edging Finland in overtime. On Wednesday they’ll face Great Britain, who are winless and have been outscored 20-1 through three games.
Martinez: 0-2=2, -2, 5 SOG; TOI: 20:45, 17:24, 19:04
Kempe: 1-2=3, +3, 7 SOG; TOI: 14:13, 14:08, 17:18
Kovalchuk: 1-1=2, 4 SOG; TOI: 13:57, 16:29, 12:29
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) May 13, 2019
Martinez has skated alongside Ryan Suter on the United States’ top pair, while Kempe has shifted between Sweden’s second and third lines and skated alongside Anton Lander and Loui Eriksson during Tre Kronor’s 9-1 win over Norway on Monday; his brother, Mario, is skating on Sweden’s fourth line. Kovalchuk, Russia’s captain, has skated with Ivan Telegin and Sergei Andronov on the fourth line while also drawing power play time.
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) May 12, 2019
All right, all right. We know what you’re here for.
No, not that. This:
And since you’re here, stay a while:
And, finally, presented without any context:
–Lead photo via Martin Rose/Getty Images