As the Conference Finals go on, the offseason for the rest of the league continues to ramp up with interesting storylines to follow as we inch closer to the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency.
First, let's take a quick look at the Final Four in their respective journeys to the Cup.
- In the West, Tuesday's game three started in the exact opposite way I assume Dallas intended with their captain getting ejected in the first period for an incredibly undisciplined crosscheck. In that same opening frame, the Stars surrendered three straight goals to the Golden Knights, digging themselves a sizeable hole with 40 minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the Stars, there was no miracle comeback in this game. In fact, they weren't able to crack Adin Hill for a single tally, meaning both game three's of the respective conference finals saw the winning goaltender post a shutout. The Golden Knights will look to complete the WCF sweep tonight in Dallas.
- The Eastern Conference Final made its way to Sunrise on Monday night, with the Sergei Bobrovsky leading the Panthers to a shutout victory to take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes. Last night, in dramatic fashion, the Florida Panthers punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 26 years. Who was the hero? You guessed it. Matthew Tkachuk, scoring a goal in the dying seconds of the third period to avoid overtime and bring home the W.
Now, onto news from around the league.
- There's an exceptional new episode of the Elite Sens Brain podcast for your listening pleasure.
- Over at The Athletic, Shayna Goldman outlines seven possible landing spots for Winnipeg Jets' stud goaltender Connor Hellebuyck - one of them being Your Ottawa Senators.
- Chris Johnston put together a list of five possible GM candidates for the spot left vacant by Kyle Dubas in Toronto.
- Speaking of Kyle Dubas, the former Leafs GM released a statement on Tuesday morning following his departure from the team.
- Following his ejection, Jamie Benn skipped speaking to the media. Yesterday, he eventually spoke to the media and offered quite the, uh, weak excuse for his actions. I wonder if Benn knows that there's multiple angles of footage of him "falling".
- On the theme of General Managers, the Flames announced on Tuesday that Craig Conroy would be taking the reins in Calgary.
- If you are located in the middle of the Venn Diagram of "Hockey Fan", "Movie Buff" and "Tech Geek" you might be interested in this piece from Sean Gentille at The Athletic as he had a conversation with Mark Critch, who plays NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the new film BlackBerry.
- Another fascinating piece from The Athletic looking at the Pittsburgh Penguins, where they were and how they got to where they are - and all of it focusing back on The Big Three.
- GM Pierre Dorion spoke to Czechia media while overseas taking in the World Hockey Championship, covering questions on Tomas Hamara, Jiri Smejkal and more. This Twitter thread does a good job summarizing the big points and you can find the full interview here, but be sure to turn translation on in your browser!
- The hockey world has been talking about Sergei Bobrovsky and how he turned a very pedestrian season into one of the best playoff runs we've seen in a long time.
- On a similar topic, this Panthers run has the look of something out of an inspirational sports movie you'd see streaming on Disney+ and there's a great piece over at Sportsnet on how it compares to other unlikely runs to the Cup.
- The finalists for one of the more strange (in my opinion) NHL Awards were named this week as Jim Nill, Don Sweeney and Bill Zito were tapped as the finalists for Top GM. Not that it's the point of this piece but my issue with this award each year is the tendency to nominate GMs from teams with successful seasons, regardless of what that GM did this year to get them there. For example, while the Panthers are on a miracle run, the only thing Zito really did this year was the Matthew Tkachuk trade and some depth signings whereas you could argue Pierre Dorion adding Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat and Jakob Chychrun is a more impressive effort by a GM specifically as it relates to the 2022-23 season. I digress...
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