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The Globe and Mail's team brings the latest news and analysis from across the NHL

Entry archive:

Mirtle's six NHL draft picks to watch

JAMES MIRTLE

First: Florida: Aaron Ekblad. The Panthers already have a great crop of young forwards from recent drafts led by Jonathan Huberdeau so it only made sense they went with a blueliner. After rumours all week GM Dale Tallon would move the pick, he made the smart call in keeping it, even if the choice will be debated for years. Ekblad is hailed by scouts as the most mature, NHL-ready player in the entire draft and he certainly already looks and acts the part of a star player despite his youth. Big, with a cannon of a shot, there’s still debate over exactly how much offence he’ll produce as a pro. He's done in junior after three years with the Barrie Colts. “I feel like I can step in next year and make a difference,” Ekblad said.

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The NHL’s top free agents: Goaltenders

JAMES MIRTLE

This is not the year to be a free agent goaltender.

All 30 teams – save for perhaps rebuilding Calgary – look set at the No. 1 position. Many also have backups in place, of varying quality, and some teams even have three NHL-calibre goaltenders signed and ready to play.

Goal is always a weird position in free agency as there are so few spots that it becomes a bit like musical chairs. Miss your opportunity, and you might not get one until there’s an injury during the year.

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Canucks say goodbye to David Booth

DAVID EBNER

He once woke a teammate from a nap on the road when he practised his bird calls, the gobbles, purrs and clucks of a wild turkey. He liked to wear a green camouflage Vancouver Canucks ballcap. He courted controversy killing a black bear using the controversial method of a bait trap for a television show. His former coach called him a “weird dude” – but meant it in a good way. He grew up in a Christian home, Lutheran, in the suburbs of Detroit but forged his own relationship with God at 18, in Colorado, and his evangelical faith has been the underpinning of his life ever since.

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Doughty, Williams lead Conn Smythe candidates

JAMES MIRTLE

A lot of the drama of the Stanley Cup final went out the window with the New York Rangers (realistic) hopes in the series on Monday night.

So much so that, in the press box late in Game 3, the conversation turned to which member of the Los Angeles Kings deserves to be the MVP of the playoffs.

It’s not an easy question because most of the favourites coming into the final have been relatively quiet on the scoresheet.

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Report: NHL revenues to hit record $3.7-billion

JAMES MIRTLE

Get ready for a skyrocketing salary cap in the NHL, even before the league’s new Canadian TV deal gets factored in.

According to a report on Monday from Chris Botta of the SportsBusiness Journal, NHL revenues for the 2013-14 season are expected to hit $3.7-billion, which would be a 12-per-cent increase over the league’s last full campaign.

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NHL playoffs a showcase for bad goalie contracts

JAMES MIRTLE

One had to move on, but the series wasn’t pretty in goal.

Corey Crawford had an .878 save percentage, allowing 26 goals in seven games.

Jonathan Quick wasn’t much better at .889 and 23 against, but at least his team advanced to the final and will play for another championship.

Combined, these two have two of the biggest goalie contracts in the league, with Crawford signed for $6-million a season until 2020 and Quick locked up for $5.8-million a year all the way until 2023.

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Habs’ Pacioretty motivated to shine in homecoming

JAMES MIRTLE

It was an optional skate, but Max Pacioretty was taking as much time as he could to take it all in.

He was in Madison Square Garden, in the playoffs, in as close to a homecoming as a kid from Connecticut that grew up playing hockey can get.

His Montreal Canadiens may be facing a do-or-die Game 3 on Thursday night, trailing the Rangers 2-0 in the series, but for Pacioretty, the game means so much more because of his history with the city and the building and all the family and friends he’ll have in the crowd.

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Mirtle: Why Rick Nash hasn’t been a bust on Broadway

JAMES MIRTLE

They are just two wins from the Stanley Cup final, facing a Montreal Canadiens team missing its star netminder and set to play two spread out games at Madison Square Garden for the right to move on.

Yet there are still debates raging in New York Rangers circles, most of them over one player in particular.

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Kings roll into West final with rout of Ducks in Game 7

Eric Duhatschek

The heat wave engulfing southern California finally broke Friday, temperatures moderating after inferno-like conditions had been burning up the state in the latter part of the week.

Happily for the Los Angeles Kings, their red-hot play in elimination games was in no way affected by the temperature drop.

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Gordon: Bruins and Habs battle nerves and excitement ahead of Game 7

SEAN GORDON

They’re excited, not nervous.

And the waiting is the hardest part; and challenges are fun, and oh never mind.

It’s Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, nothing that is said on Wednesday will matter or be remembered in a few hours’ time.

When a reporter jokingly asked Montreal winger Brendan Gallagher – whose only game seven experience came in junior hockey (his team won) – what his favourite cliché was for the situation, he said “I believe in all the clichés. I like them all . . . do or die.”

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Mirtle: Habs proving size doesn’t really matter in NHL

JAMES MIRTLE

There was a time when they were routinely called The Smurfs.

And, truth be told, these Montreal Canadiens aren’t a whole lot different than those of four or five years ago when it comes to sheer size.

It’s no great revelation to anyone that’s watched them this postseason that the Habs are the shortest team that made the second round, measuring in on average at a full inch shorter than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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NHL on course for big market final four

JAMES MIRTLE

The possibility is there, and you know that the bright bean counters at the NHL’s head offices can see it coming.

The four biggest U.S. markets in each of the league’s new divisions are all still alive, needing just one more series win to give Gary Bettman and Co. a dream final four with New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston all represented.

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Duhatschek: The voice of the Calgary Flames calls it a career

ERIC DUHATSCHEK

Every broadcaster that achieves some level of longevity and notoriety eventually develops a signature catch phrase of their own that eventually comes to define their voice and presenting style.

“Do you believe in miracles?” has been associated with Al Michaels ever since the 1980 Miracle On Ice.

For Peter Maher, the line that everybody remembers was lifted from a top-40 pop song back in the mid-1980s, and dates back to a memorable seven-game series between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers during the heyday of the Battle of Alberta.

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Mirtle: Revamped Bruins will be a formidable foe for Habs

James Mirtle

The talk is already there.

They’re big. They’re bad. And the way to beat them is to simply outskate them and take advantage of your power plays.

But it would be a mistake to look at these Boston Bruins and still see the team that won the Stanley Cup three years ago.

The skeleton of that group is there, sure, with captain Zdeno Chara towering over everyone on the back end and Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand filling in the top two lines up front.

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Ebner: Canucks set to begin talks with potential general managers

DAVID EBNER

Trevor Linden and the Vancouver Canucks are set to begin talks with potential general managers.

“The request process is under way with some verbal commitments from several managers,” said team spokesman Chris Brumwell by e-mail on Thursday afternoon. “Trevor expects to begin discussions with candidates in the very near future.”

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Ducks make Teemu Selanne a healthy scratch for Game 4

JAMES MIRTLE

The Teemu Selanne farewell tour is taking a bit of a detour.

The Anaheim Ducks are up 2-1 in a first-round dogfight with the wild-card Stars, and Selanne has been relegated to basically fourth-line duty so far in the series. He played 13 minutes (and had an assists) in Game 1 but was dropped to 10 minutes in Games 2 and 3.

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Should the Calder Trophy continue to be dominated by scorers?

JAMES MIRTLE

Well the nominees are out.

Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are up for the Calder Trophy this year as the NHL’s top rookies, making this the fourth straight year every single nominee has been a high scoring forward.

Perhaps the fact that the last non-forward to win was Tyler Myers in 2010 has scared off some voters from betting on a young defenceman, although there were a remarkable number of candidates this year.

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Ducks have the depth to overcome Robidas injury

ERIC DUHATSCHEK

On the same day that the Colorado Avalanche lost defenceman Tyson Barrie for six weeks as a result of that knee-on-knee collision with Matt Cooke, the Anaheim Ducks also lost a key member of their defensive core. Stephane Robidas, returning to Dallas for the first time since he was traded from the Stars to the Ducks, broke the same right leg that kept him out three-and-a-half months during the middle part of the season.

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NHL playoffs injury parade already taking toll

JAMES MIRTLE

It was a particularly painful night in the NHL playoffs on Monday.

First Colorado Avalanche defenceman Tyson Barrie – a sparkplug for his team so far in the series – was taken out by Matt Cooke in a knee-on-knee collision that will get the Wild winger yet another lengthy suspension.

Then Anaheim Ducks defenceman Stephane Robidas re-broke his right leg when Ryan Garbutt landed awkwardly on it.

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Duhatschek: The old Matt Cooke shows up again

ERIC DUHATSCHEK

Here is what’s so patently unfair about the NHL justice system: There isn’t any punishment the league’s department of player safety can dole out to the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Cooke that would compensate the Colorado Avalanche for the loss of Tyson Barrie, their most gifted offensive defenceman.

Cooke, the long-time NHL head hunter who’d mostly cleaned up his act after joining the Wild, reverted to his old ways Monday night in the third game of the Minnesota-Colorado playoff series, tossing out a knee at Barrie early in the second period of a game that would finish as a 1-0 overtime win for the home team.

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Blog contributors

James Mirtle

Hockey writer

Follow James on Twitter @mirtle

David Shoalts

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun.

Follow David on Twitter @dshoalts

Roy MacGregor

Hockey columnist

Follow Roy on Twitter @RoyMacG

Eric Duhatschek

Hockey columnist

Follow Eric on Twitter @eduhatschek

David Ebner

David Ebner is a national correspondent based in Vancouver. He joined The Globe and Mail in 2000 and worked in Toronto and Calgary before moving to Vancouver in 2008. He has reported on a wide range of stories – business, politics, arts, crime – and has covered sports since 2012. He was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in sports in 2013. He was born in Ottawa, grew up in Calgary, and graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Follow David on Twitter @davidebner

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