Blazers’ Logan Stankoven eyeing ‘surreal’ moment to hoist Memorial Cup in hometown
Kamloops Blazers star Logan Stankoven, shown in a handout photo. The Kamloops, B.C., native leads his squad into the four-team tournament having been granted new life as the hosts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kamloops Blazers-Allen Douglas
By Abdulhamid Ibrahim
Lifting the Memorial Cup in front of his hometown fans would be a dream come true for Kamloops Blazers star Logan Stankoven.
The 20-year-old centre leads his Blazers into the four-team Canadian major junior championship on Friday. Kamloops fell in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference final to the eventual champion Seattle Thunderbirds in six games on May 8, but as Memorial Cup hosts the Blazers get a second chance to win it all.
“Would be pretty surreal,” Stankoven told The Canadian Press. “It would be a nice way to kind of cap things off.
“Probably my last year here, so to do it in front of friends and family and the fans are the best in the league. We’ve been getting really good crowds all playoffs and all season long, so it’d be nice to win that for them and for the city, it’d be quite the buzz around here.”
Kamloops opens the Memorial Cup against Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Quebec Remparts on Friday. Along with Seattle, the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes round out the group eyeing the June 4 final for a shot at glory.
Stankoven, a second-round pick of the NHL’s Dallas Stars in 2021, was first in WHL post-season points with 30 (10 goals, 20 assists) in 14 games. His numbers were good for third across the Canadian Hockey League, behind Alexandre Doucet and Josh Lawrence of the Halifax Mooseheads, who each had 31.
Stankoven is used to performing on big stages.
The five-foot-eight, 170-pound forward had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games in Canada’s gold-medal run at the 2022 world junior championship. He followed that with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) at the 2023 tournament, another gold for Canada.
The Blazers, who had the third-best regular-season record behind Seattle and the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL, haven’t won a Memorial Cup since 1995. It was the last from a dominant run that saw Kamloops win it three times in four years (1992, 1994, 1995).
While last season’s WHL and CHL player of the year doesn’t feel he has anything to prove on an individual basis, he wants to show that he can lead a team to victory.
“It’s great to have individual success and win individual awards, but people want players that can win and that’s what NHL owners and GM’s want,” Stankoven said. “They want winners.
“I think we can compete against the best here and come out on top. That would be a dream come true.”
Ending the Blazers’ Memorial Cup drought won’t put extra stress on the team, said goaltender Dylan Ernst.
“I don’t think any of us are feeling pressure with it,” said Ernst, the 26th-ranked North American goaltender on the NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking. “I think we just got to believe in our abilities and the rest will handle itself.”
The six-foot-two, 190-pound Ernst led all WHL goaltenders in post-season play with three shutouts and was third with 10 wins and a 2.57 goals-against average across 14 games (10-3-1). He sees the Memorial Cup as a golden chance to prove himself after getting passed up in last year’s NHL draft.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “And our coaches talked about how, you know, we win and we’re that team.
“And I always want to be connected to these guys. This is one of the tightest groups I had, so that’d be a dream.”
Head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston sees it as a “second life,” with eyes set on his squad making the necessary adjustments to redeem itself.
“It was a new start for us,” he said of getting back to the drawing board after the loss to Seattle. “We weren’t good enough and we have (time) to make those improvements.
“We have an opportunity right now to make those adjustments, to find it within ourselves with the energy component and we get another shot at it.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023.
Toronto Maple Leafs hire Brad Treliving as team’s new GM
TORONTO — Brad Treliving has a new gig. And the Maple Leafs have a new plan.
Treliving was named Toronto’s general manager Wednesday, less than two weeks after a jaw-dropping chain of events led to the firing of Kyle Dubas.
The 53-year-old Treliving left the Calgary Flames in April following nine seasons that included five playoff appearances and two 100-point campaigns.
“Brad brings a wealth of knowledge from his years of experience,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a release. “He has earned tremendous respect amongst his peers throughout his years in the NHL and has built excellent relationships at all levels within the game.”
Treliving joins the Leafs at a crucial juncture in the wake of Shanahan’s stunning Dubas dismissal on May 19.
The Original Six franchise, whose Stanley Cup drought stands at 56 painful years, won a playoff series for the first time in nearly two decades with a victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning this spring, but then bowed out to the Florida Panthers.
Dubas, who had been Toronto’s GM since 2018 and didn’t have a contract beyond June 30, suggested at a bizarre end-of-season press conference on May 15 he wasn’t sure he wanted to remain in the role — at least in part because of the stress on his young family.
A roller-coaster five days followed, with Shanahan ultimately firing the 37-year-old despite previously wanting to keep his GM, and the now-unemployed executive eventually indicating to his boss he wished to stay.
Treliving is the third GM — joining Dubas and Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello — hired in Toronto by Shanahan, whose so-called “Shanaplan” aimed at getting the storied franchise back on its feet when he came on board in 2014 has seen unparalleled regular-season success, but just that solitary series victory in eight attempts.
“I’m thrilled to join an Original Six team and recognize how much the Maple Leafs mean to this community,” Treliving, who will meet the media alongside Shanahan on Thursday, said in the statement announcing his hire as the 18th GM in franchise history.
“This is a very exciting day for my family and I.”
The Penticton, B.C., product also has a lot to chew on as he settles into Scotiabank Arena.
Treliving, who served in the Phoenix Coyotes’ front office for seven seasons before arriving in Calgary, will have to decide the future of Dubas loyalist and head coach Sheldon Keefe, while stars Auston Matthews and William Nylander can sign contract extensions with one year remaining on their current deals as of July 1.
Matthews and Mitch Marner, who is two years out from unrestricted free agency, have full no-movement clauses ready to kick in the same day. Nylander will have a 10-team list.
The NHL draft is set for the end of June in Nashville, and the Leafs have 12 roster players primed to hit the free-agent market at noon ET on Canada Day.
The Flames, who missed the playoffs this season, won the Pacific Division in 2021-22 under Treliving’s guidance before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round.
Johnny Gaudreau then blindsided the organization by leaving Calgary for the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency last summer. Fellow star forward Matthew Tkachuk added another devastating body blow by informing the team he didn’t plan to re-sign.
Treliving, whose father, Jim, is the Boston Pizza chain owner and a former “Dragon’s Den” regular, subsequently dealt the winger to Florida as part of a package that included forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenceman MacKenzie Weegar heading to southern Alberta.
Tkachuk, a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate as playoff MVP, and the Panthers open the Cup final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
Calgary went 362-265-73 during the regular season under Treliving, who served as co-GM of Canada’s gold-medal entry at the 2016 men’s world championships in Russia.
He also co-founded the Western Professional Hockey League in 1996 and served as the league’s vice-president and director of hockey operations.
Treliving helped with the merger of the WPHL and the Central Hockey League in 2001, and was then named CHL president — a position he held for seven years before joining the Coyotes.
Despite the departures of Gaudreau and Tkachuk, the Flames looked like contenders on paper ahead of the 2022-23 season.
The acquisition of Huberdeau, who inked an eight-year, US$84-million contract extension with the Flames last August, and the signing of centre Nazem Kadri was expected to fill the void left by Gaudreau and Tkachuk, but the mix wasn’t right for a group led by hard-nosed coach Darryl Sutter.
Huberdeau and Kadri finished well off their career-high points totals of the previous season — the former went from 115 with Florida to 55 in Calgary — while sub-par goaltending was an issue much of the campaign.
That chapter firmly closed, Treliving now turns his attention to Toronto.
Just like last summer, he has plenty on his plate.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2023.
NHL free-agent frenzy: Some of the players poised to hit the open market July 1
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan O’Reilly (90) protects the puck from Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman (77) during second period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, April 27, 2023. O’Reilly is one of the names poised to hit the free agency market. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
By Joshua Clipperton
The NHL’s free-agent frenzy is back in its regular time-slot.
After three years of schedule disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s signing period returns to July 1.
And while there might not be as many big names on the board as usual, general managers looking to upgrade or round out rosters should still have plenty of talent to choose from in the unrestricted free agent pool — from aging stars to role players to veteran goaltenders.
With a month to go until the opening bell sounds on Canada Day at noon ET, The Canadian Press takes a look at some of the names poised to hit the market:
RYAN O’REILLY (2022-23 salary cap hit: US$7.5 million)
The 32-year-old centre was acquired by Toronto from St. Louis in mid-February as part of a blockbuster deal prior to the NHL trade deadline. O’Reilly, who won the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, helped the Maple Leafs win a playoff series for the first time since 2004 and remains a valuable asset down the middle. Limited by injuries last season, the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as post-season MVP registered 16 goals and 30 points in 53 games in 2022-23. He added three goals and nine points in 11 playoff contests.
PATRICK KANE (2022-23 salary cap hit: $10.5 million)
The 34-year-old winger bid farewell to the Chicago Blackhawks when he was shipped to the New York Rangers ahead of the deadline. The three-time Cup winner had 21 goals and 57 points in 73 games last season. He also scored once and assisted on five others in the Rangers’ first-round playoff exit. Kane is no longer the player who got the Conn Smythe nod in 2013 and the Hart Trophy three years later as NHL MVP, but can still drive offence from the wing.
VLADIMIR TARASENKO (2022-23 salary cap hit: $7.5 million)
Another deadline acquisition by the Rangers, the winger had 18 goals and 50 points in 69 combined games with New York and St. Louis in 2022-23. Tarasenko, a Cup winner with O’Reilly and the Blues, put up a goal and three assists in the playoffs for the Rangers. The 31-year-old has played more than 75 contests just once in the past five seasons because of various injuries.
TYLER BERTUZZI (2022-23 salary cap hit: $4.75 million)
The 28-year-old winger combined to put up eight goals and 30 points in 50 games with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins in 2022-23. Bertuzzi, who had a 30-goal season in 2021-22, added 10 points in the Bruins’ first-round upset at the hands of the Florida Panthers. He’s also had injury trouble, appearing in a full slate of games just once in his five full NHL seasons.
DMITRY ORLOV (2022-23 salary cap hit: $5.1 million)
Shipped from Washington to Boston at the trade deadline, the 31-year-old leads the UFA defence corps after registering seven goals and 36 points in 66 games with the Capitals and Bruins. The left-shot blueliner had 17 points in 23 regular-season contests for Boston to go along with eight assists in seven playoff appearances.
MATT DUMBA (2022-23 salary cap hit: $6 million)
The 28-year-old defenceman appears poised to leave the Minnesota Wild after being drafted seventh overall by the organization in 2012. The right-shooting Dumba put up a career-low four goals and 14 points in 79 games in 2022-23.
DAMON SEVERSON (2022-23 salary cap hit: $4.166 million)
Another right-shot blueliner, the 28-year-old could be moving on from the New Jersey Devils after nine seasons. Severson had seven goals and 33 points in 81 games in 2022-23.
MICHAEL BUNTING (2022-23 salary cap hit: $950K)
The gritty winger finally broke through in the NHL with his hometown Maple Leafs thanks to consecutive 23-goal seasons. Drafted in the fourth round by Arizona in 2014, the fiery 27-year-old plays on the line, and sometimes crosses it, as witnessed by his three-game suspension in the playoffs with Toronto.
TRISTAN JARRY (2022-23 salary cap hit: $3.5 million)
The 28-year-old goaltender’s time in Pittsburgh could be coming to an end. A second-round pick of the Penguins in 2013, Jarry has a career save percentage of .914 to go along with a 2.65 goals against average.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (2022-23 salary cap hit: $4.5 million)
The 33-year-old is coming off two solid seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, including a .927 save percentage and a 1.83 GAA in the 2023 playoffs. Other goaltenders primed to potentially hit the UFA market include Adin Hill of the Vegas Golden Knights, Semyon Varlamov of the New York Islanders, Joonas Korpisalo of the Los Angeles Kings, and Cam Talbot of the Ottawa Senators.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2023.
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