Off The Draw: Calder Trophy favorite Drouin to debut; more notes
What you missed during the weekend:
What to watch tonight:
UPDATE: Lightning coach Jon Cooper said late Monday afternoon that Drouin's debut will have to wait. The team's top prospect played Friday and Saturday night with Syracuse, prompting Cooper to scratch him tonight. He said Drouin will get his first NHL start "soon."
All eyes will turn to Edmonton, where Calder Trophy favorite Jonathan Drouin is expected to make his NHL debut for visiting Tampa Bay.
The 19-year-old winger was recalled last night from AHL Syracuse after a two-game conditioning stint. He looks to be fully recovered from the fractured right thumb that has sidelined him since Sept. 19, taking nine shots, scoring a goal and chipping in two assists while leading the Crunch to a pair of wins.
Drouin, the third pick in the 2013 draft, is expected to play on Steven Stamkos's wing at some point this season but the Lightning are likely to ease him into action tonight, probably on their third line.
He couldn't ask for a cushier introduction. The Oilers set a franchise record with five losses in their first five games, prompting a wave of speculation about just how bad the team actually is. The all-time mark of 15 consecutive losses to start a season, set by the 1943–44 Rangers, is probably safe, but Edmonton may not have bottomed out yet. On Friday, the Oilers lost 2–0 to the Canucks.
While that game might have been the team's best defensive effort of the season, Edmonton's offensive futility was troubling. And that's the way it's been so far: fix one problem, expose another.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a lot of heat for failing to finish on a pair of excellent scoring chances against Vancouver—a shorthanded breakaway and a wide-open shot from the slot—but at least he was involved enough for those chances to end up on his stick. After missing two games because of injury, he was the Oilers' most effective forward. You get the sense that if they're going to turn things around, he'll be a big part of it.
But you have to wonder if you can say the same about his linemate Nail Yakupov. The top pick in 2012 seems to be good for one horrific giveaway a night, and was singled out by coach Dallas Eakins (again) after the loss on Friday. The coach is clearly tired of the winger's mental errors, but it seems like Yakupov gets criticized more than some of his equally negligent teammates. It feels like the skids are being greased for his exit from Edmonton, and even though his overall game is improving that might be the best thing for both sides.
This morning's must-reads:
• A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Canadian Hockey League alleging that the junior hockey circuit “conspired” to force young players into signing contracts that violate minimum wage laws. Although it seems to have little merit, that doesn't mean that the CHL shouldn't be worried. If the suit succeeds, it will destroy the underpinnings of the game's premier developmental league and alter the pathway to the NHL.
• There's no out-clause for the Panthers in their arena lease with Broward County, but a local official says that they're free to leave at any time after they pay off their $63 million tab.
• This is why parents of hockey players are hesitant to spend good money on braces.
• The preparation for the Islanders' move to Brooklyn gets underway in earnest today.