Once again, Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella’s mouth has served as a diving board that’s plunged him into the deep waters of race.
St. Louis Blues forward Ryan Reaves.
The fiery coach was displeased with his team’s effort in a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues Saturday night.
He called out his players for their performance but he also had a curious choice of words in describing Blues tough guy forward Ryan Reaves, who fought Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno in the second period.
“I watched Nick Foligno fight that animal,” Tortorella told reporters after the game.
Tortorella may know hockey but he apparently doesn’t know that certain words when aimed toward certain people can have racial connotations.
Calling a black player like Reaves “that animal” didn’t sit well with several hockey fans, judging by the online reaction to Tortorella’s words.
It’s hard to determine what Tortorella’s intent was in calling Reaves an animal. Apparently no one at the post-game press conference asked the coach to elaborate on his comment.
Several words can be used to describe Reaves – enforcer, fighter, tough guy, pugilist, or the old-school hockey phrase “goon,” if you must. So the use of “animal” is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Tortorella knows that he needs to choose his words carefully. Just a few days ago, he employed verbal restraint before getting too salty before the cameras.
The use of the word “animal” conjures up some bad hockey memories for some. Val James, the NHL’s first U.S.-born black player, was often called an animal, a monkey, a gorilla, or some other primate during a professional career that spanned the 1970s and 80s.
James, who was one of the game’s most-feared fighters, once told me of the time that he was sitting in the penalty box during a minor league game when two people dangled a fishing line down to him with a toy monkey attached to it.
The taunt aimed at James was so appalling that the game’s referee – current U.S. Congressman Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania – threatened to end the game and call it a forfeit against the home team if the two tormentors weren’t ejected from the arena.
Philadelphia Flyers star forward Wayne Simmondsgot the less-than-human treatment in 2011 when a so-called fan threw a banana toward him during a pre-season game in London, Ont. NHL broadcaster Kevin Weekes had a banana tossed at him in Montreal in 2002 when he played goal for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tortorella stirred controversy at the World Cup of Hockey in September when he said he would benchany of his Team USA players if they followed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest and not stand for the national anthem.
Kaepernick is protesting what he feels is the oppressive treatment of blacks in the United States.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown, who wasn’t on the U.S. World Cup of Hockey squad, criticizedTortorella’s criticism in a tweet that said “Wouldn’t benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap’s point of oppression?”
Brown told The Tampa Bay Times that Tortorella “sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL.”
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown has never been one to shy away from tough situations on the ice.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown.
And Brown showed this week that he’s not afraid to wade into tough territory off the ice, either. Via Twitter and in a newspaper interview, Brown questioned the wisdom of World Cup ofHockey Team USAHead Coach John Tortorella’sdeclaration that he’d bench any playerwho doesn’t stand for the national anthem like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has done to protest the treatment of minorities in the United States.
On Tuesday, Brown tweeted “Wouldn’t benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap’s point of oppression? But hey.” His post went viral.
Wouldn't benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap's point of oppression? But hey 🐸☕️ https://t.co/p6aUjXYlq4
Brown later told The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smithhe has “no ill will towards John Tortorella,” who’s the bench boss of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the NationalHockey League season.
“He sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL,” Brown told Smith. “I know I’m not on the United States World Cup roster, but I have had a chance to represent my country on other occasions. My tweet was hypothetical.”
Brown, a Minnesota native, added: “What if I took a stance to promote awareness for one of the many injustices still occurring in our country and was punished despite there being no rule or law against it? My tweet was a response to that question.”
He told The Times that he spoke out because “I don’t want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what’s going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community.”
“I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there is still racism today,” Brown added. “I am glad my tweet provoked discussion, because we need to start having a discussion.”
Brown has no intention of sitting out the national anthem a la Kaepernick. Instead, “I will look for more opportunities to positively impact my community and bring awareness to racial issues.”
Brown scored 8 goals and 14 assists in 78 games for the Lightning last season. He was held without a goal but tallied 2 assists in nine playoff games.
Auston Matthews, center, Toronto Maple Leafs. The 19-year-old Mexican-Americanfrom Arizona terrorized NHL goalies in his rookie year and returned the Leafs to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Matthews led the team in scoring with 40 goals and 29 assists while playing in all 82 regular season games. His 40 goals tied him for second in the NHL with Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov. Matthews’ 69 points were tops among NHL rookies and 20th among all NHL players.
He would be a top player for the United States on its 2018 Winter Olympics hockey team. But the National Hockey Leagueinsists that its not sending it’s players to PyeongChang, South Korea.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
Wayne Simmonds, right wing, Philadelphia Flyers. Simmonds won the Most Valuable Playeraward at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles in January. He also played for Silver Medal-winningTeam Canada at the 2017International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Paris and Cologne in May.
The Wayne Train led the Flyers in goals with 31. He was fourth on the team in scoring with 54 points – the combination of 31 goals and 23 assists. He also was the Flyers’ toughest customer, leading the team with 122 penalty minutes.
Brandon Saad, F, Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Saad, left wing, Columbus Blue Jackets. The U.S.-born son of a Syrian immigrant, Saad was the Blue Jackets’ third-leading scorer with 24 goals and 29 assists in 82 games He was the 18th-leading scorer among the league’s left wings, a group that includes Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Artemi Panarin of the ChicagoBlackhawks, and the Boston Bruins’Brad Marchand.
Dustin Byfuglien, defense, Winnipeg Jets. Big shot. Big hits. Big man. Big Buff, at 6-foot-5, 260-pounds, was fifth among NHL defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 39 assists in 80 games. He was fifth on the Jets in scoring with 52 points.
USA Hockey’s brain trust left him offthe 2014 U.S. Olympic team and his use by Blue Jackets Head CoachJohn Tortorella as bench of the U.S. team in September’s World Cupof Hockey was curious. But Byfuglien probably would have gotten a hard look for the 2018 Winter Games
Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets. What? No P.K. Subban? Let the arguments begin. Jones, the son of former National Basketball Association player Popeye Jones, was Columbus’ seventh-leading scorer with 12 goals and 30 assists in 75 regular season games.
He was 19th among NHL defensemen in scoring. Subban, the Nashville Predators’ D-man, was 22nd among the league’s blue-liners with 10 goals and 30 assists in 66 games.
Jones would be a lock for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Games in February if NHLers were going.
Carey Price, goaltender, Montreal Canadiens. Price rebounded from an injury-shortened 2015-16 season to finish fifth among NHL goalies with a 30-20-5 record and a 2.23 goals-against average. Price, whose mother is a former Ulkatcho First Nation chief, had three shutouts during the 2016-17 season.
Price was an Olympian in 2014 and would be in the mix to be Canada’s top netminder for the 2018 Winter Games if the NHL were sending its players.
Nazem Kadri, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
Nazem Kadri, center, Toronto Maple Leafs. Kadri had a breakout year with Toronto, scoring 32 goals and 29 assists in 82 games. The son of a Lebanese Muslim father, the London, Ontario-born Kadri finished 15th in scoring among centers, an elite group that includes the Pittsburgh Penguins’Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers’ConnorMcDavid and the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom.
Evander Kane, left wing, Buffalo Sabres. Talented on the ice and sometimes trying off it, Kane tallied 28 goals and 15 assists in 70 games for Buffalo. He was sixth on the Sabres in scoring and 35th among the NHL’s left wings.
T.J. Oshie, right wing, Washington Capitals. Of Ojibwe heritage, Oshie enjoyed a stellar second season with the Capitals. He finished fifth on the team in scoring with 33 goals and 23 assists in 68 games. Four of those goals were game-winners.
A shootist remembered for his stunning display of moves during a dramatic U.S.-Russia shootoutat the 2014 Olympics, Oshie would surely be under consideration for the 2018 U.S. Olympic squad.
P.K. Subban, defense, Nashville Predators. Adjusting to a new team, new town, and coping with injuries, Subban’s still manged to score 40 points on 10 goals and 30 assists. He’ll forever be linked to defenseman Shea Weberfor whom he was swapped in the stunning trade last summer between Nashville and the Canadiens.
So how did Weber do in 2016-17? He had 17 goals and 25 assists – 42 points – in 78 games. Weber’s Canadiens were ousted from the playoffs in the first round by the New YorkRangers. Subban and the Predators are playing in the Cup Final against the defending champion Penguins.
Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba, defense, Minnesota Wild. The fourth-year NHLer posted a career-best 11 goals and 23 assists in 76 games. His plus/minus – an indicator of defensive responsibility – improved from plus-1 in 2015-16 to plus-15 in 2016-17.
Charles Williams, goaltender, Canisius College. Sure, he’s not in the NHL but that doesn’t diminish the amazing 2016-17 season Williams had. He helped guide Canisius’ GoldenGriffins to an Atlantic Hockey regular season title and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, presented to the top NCAA Division I men’s hockey player.
Canisius College goalie Charles Williams signed a contact with the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs in March ( (Photo/Canisius College).
Williams posted a 15-6-4 record and helped backstop Canisius to a 17-game unbeaten streak. He led all Division I goalies with a .946 save percentage during the regular season. He was tied for first with 5 shutouts and second in the nation with a 1.83 goals-against average.
Williams, who was a fifth-year transfer student, signed a standard player contract in March with the Manchester Monarchs, the Los Angeles Kings’ ECHL farm team.
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.
The World Cup of Hockey is only a few days old and already players of color are having a huge impact in the best-on-best international tournament – from a brother from France scoring to Big Buff sitting.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, a Philadelphia Flyers forward and Team Europe’s only French member, put a dagger in Team USA in the World Cup opener Saturday, scoring on a neat second-period tip-in in Europe’s 3-0 shocker over the United States.
On a Europe squad stacked with firepower the likes of Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks’Marian Hossa, Bellemare made the most of his 15 minutes-plus of ice time, registering a goal, one shot, and one hit. He won 36 percent of his face-offs.
While Team Europe basked in its upset victory, Team USA Head Coach John Tortorella faced questions about his decision not to dress Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfgulien for Saturday’s game.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Byfuglien is one of the National Hockey League’s best offensive blue-liners, blessed with one of the league’s hardest and most-accurate shots. He was eighth in scoring among NHL defensemen last season with 19 goals and 34 assists.
“Well, I have to take someone out, and Buff has been used on defense and forward, along with Kyle Palmieri as a right winger, too, and we made the decision for this game, this was our best lineup,” Tortorella explained after the game. “It’s certainly not a negative thought on Buff, but we decided to go with this lineup tonight.”
Don’t know about you, but I think Tortorella might pencil Byfuglien into the lineup when Team USA faces Canada Tuesday night.
Byfuglien and Bellemare are among five players of color participating in the eight-team World Cup of Hockey tourney. Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, whose mother is a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation, Toronto Maple Leafs rookie forward Auston Matthews, and Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones are the other three.
Each player is chasing his dream for National Hockey League stardom, climbing professional hockey’s ladder at his own pace – or that dictated by the team that drafted him.
Jones, taken by the Nashville Predators with the fourth overall pick of the draft, hasn’t spent a day in the minor leagues. But after he spent more than two seasons in Music City, the Predators traded him last week to the ColumbusBlue Jackets for talented but enigmatic center Ryan Johansen.
The swap from Nashville, currently sixth in the NHL’s Western Conference, to Columbus, dwelling in the NHL Eastern Conference cellar, wasn’t a knock on Jones’ play.
The Blue Jackets expect big things from the Texas-born son of former National Basketball Association forward Popeye Jones. In Nashville, Seth Jones was the student to defensive master Shea Weber.
In 40 games with the Predators, Jones tallied 1 goal and 10 assists and averaged 19:42 minutes on ice per game.
With Columbus, he’ll play more minutes and see more power play time and penalty-killing action under demanding Head Coach John Tortorella. He’ll go from being one of the guys on Nashville’s blue line to being The Man on the Blue Jackets back end.
“He’s going to get a lot bigger role with our team,”Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters last week. “He’s 21 years old and he’s got the future ahead of him and a lot of room for growth and development. We believe he’s a good two-way defenseman that can add some offense to our game.”
Ironically, one of the last things Jones saw in Nashville was the player he was traded for as he and Johansen passed each other at the airport. Jones expressed excitement about the new opportunity in Columbus.
“They made it pretty clear that they’re going to throw a little bit more at me than I’ve been used to getting,” Jones told reporters in Columbus. “I’m excited and ready to take on the challenge.”
Nurse believed he was NHL-ready from the moment he slipped on an Oilers jersey on draft day. But the team’s brain trust thought otherwise and sent him back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, his junior team inthe Ontario Hockey League, for the 2013-14 season. He went back to the Soo again in 2014-15.
He was assigned to the Bakersfield Condors, the Olilers’ AHL affiliate,after this season’s
After being promoted from the AHL, Darnell Nurse is averaging 21 minutes per game.
training camp and was called up to the parent club after some of its defensemen suffered injuries.
Since then, Nurse has tallied 2 goals and 5 assists while averaging 21 minutes of ice time per game in 34 games. He’s also added a little toughness to an offensively-talented but grit-challenged Oilers lineup. He’s amassed 19 penalty minutes, five of them coming from a fight against Milan Lucic, the Los Angeles Kings’ physically-imposing and feared veteran forward.
Some thought the bout was too much too soon for the rookie Nurse. He didn’t.
“My mum was like, ‘What are you doing?’ My dad said he was proud of me,” Nurse told The Edmonton Journal. “This (fighting) is something I’m going to have to do the way I play.”
Madison Bowey is only a two-hour drive from where he hopes to eventually be: With the Washington Capitals. The team took Bowey in the second round with the 53rd pick of the 2013 draft.
After he captained his Western Hockey League Kelowna Rockets to the MasterCardMemorial Cup Final last season and teamed up with Nurse on the blue line to help a diverse Team Canada win the Gold Medal at the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, the Capitals sent Bowey to the AHL’s HersheyBears.
He has 2 goals, 11 assists, and 24 penalty minutes in 33 games with the Bears.
“I think it’s been going pretty well,” Bowey told PennLive last month. “It’s a learning process and I’m learning a lot every day.”
Madison Bowey hopes to be an impact player with the AHL Hershey Bears – and eventually with the Washington Capitals (Photo/Courtesy JustSports Photography).
Bears Head Coach Troy Mann agrees.
“From the bench as you watch him play, when he’s moving the puck and limiting his turnovers, he’s having a good game,” Mann told PennLive. “Like any young defenseman, there are nights where his gap control might not be as good as we need it to be, or his defensive-zone coverage. But I think he’s progressing the way we all thought he would. He’s a second-round pick that’s going to need some nurturing in the AHL for a couple seasons.”
Jordan Subban was chosen in the fourth-round of the 2013 draft by the Vancouver Canucks with the 115th pick. His older brother, MontrealCanadiens superstar defenseman P.K. Subban, declared before the draft that Jordan was a better, more cerebral blueliner than he is.
Like his big brother, Jordan is about offense from the back end. The 5-foot-9 defenseman notched 25 goals and 27 assists for the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls last season.
Utica Comets defenseman Jordan Subban (left) doing what he does best – shooting (Photo/Lindsay A. Mogle/Utica Comets).
He’s continuing his offensive ways in his first season with for the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ AHL farm team, where he has 5 goals and 14 assists in 29 games.
“The (AHL) is a little more skilled than I thought it was going to be,” Subban told Utica’s Observer-Dispatch in November. “It was a bit of an adjustment. There are a lot of good players…I think I’ve taken a big step in my zone, but I still have work to do.”
Jonathan-Ismael Diaby will be the first to admit that he’s still very much a work in progress. At 6-foot-5 and 223 pounds, he’s described himself as “bigger, taller and slower” compared to other hockey players.
Nashville Predators 2013 draft pick Jonathan Diaby (left) working on improving his game with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals (Photo/Milwaukee Admirals).
But the Predators love his size – a “monster,” one scout called him – and his ruggedness. Nashville took him in the third round with the 64th pick in the 2013 draft.
Since then, the former Victoriaville Tigres defenseman has bounced between the Milwaukee Admirals, the Preds’ AHL affiliate, and CincinnatiCyclones, Nashville’s ECHL farm team.
The son of a soccer player from the Ivory Coast, Diaby is scoreless in five AHL games this season but has 21 penalty minutes. He has 1 assist and 11 penalty minutes in 17 ECHL games.
“I just want to show more consistency and show that I’m more poised and more in control of the game,” Diaby told The Tennesseanduring the Predators’ training camp in September. “As a hockey player, you come to training camp, you want to make the team, but it’s a learning experience. I’ve still got a lot to learn and a lot to improve on. The AHL’s a great league.”
With the 2013-14 season set to begin Oct. 1, National Hockey League teams are busy whittling down their training camp rosters, assigning not-quite-ready for prime-time players to the minor leagues or back to their junior teams.
Many of the young players of color taken in the 2013 NHL Draft managed to get a brief taste of NHL life before returning to their junior squads to get more playing time and buy time to grow both physically and mentally.
Jordan Subban enjoyed his training camp time wearing the Vancouver Canucks blue, white and green. But first-year Head Coach John Tortorella felt the 5-foot-9, 177-pound defenseman, the 115th player picked in the draft, could use more seasoning with the Ontario Hockey League’s Bellville Bulls.
Jordan Subban – Back in Bellville. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
“I’ve always said that if I don’t play in the NHL, it won’t be because I’m too small,” said the younger brother of MontrealCanadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban told Metronews.ca earlier this month. “I think that I can definitely use my vision and smarts. I’m not the biggest guy, so I’m not going to be able to muscle a lot of guys off the puck, so just try to think the game maybe a little bit more and make smarter plays.”
The Washington Capitals have high hopes for Madison Bowey – but not for the 2013-14 season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman, the 53rd overall pick in the draft, was sent back to the Western Hockey Leagues Kelowna Rockets.
Defenseman Madison Bowey is back in Kelowna. (photo: Washington Capitals/Getty Images)
“Want to thank the @washcaps organization for giving me the opportunity to have an amazing experience at the main camp,” Bowey tweeted on Sept. 15. The next day he pronounced himself ready to go for a new season with the Rockets.
“Great to be back @Kelowna Rockets boys! Misses the fellas,” he tweeted.
When the Buffalo Sabres drafted Justin Bailey, he felt right at home. After all, the right wing from the OHL Kitchener Rangers grew up Williamsville, N.Y. – just a stone’s throw from Buffalo. After a stint in the Sabres camp, Bailey is a Ranger again.
Rght wing Nicholas Baptiste, chosen by the Sabres with the 69th overall pick in the third round of the draft, impressed the Buffalo brain trust at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., earlier this month, registering points in three consecutive games. Still, he’s back with his junior team, the OHL Sudbury Wolves.
Justin Bailey – a Kitchener Ranger for another season. (Photo: Jamie Squires/Getty Images)
After Sabres’ camp, Nicholas Baptiste is back in Sudbury.(Photo by Bill Wippert via Getty Images)
Anthony Duclair not Broadway-bound yet. (Photo: Quebec Hebdo).
Left wing Anthony Duclair impressed the New York Rangers with his speed and skating ability. “REALLY like this kid’s game,” the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard wrote last July in his “Blueshirts Blog” following a Rangers development camp. “Very, very good skater who frequently arrives at the puck on the spot first…He needs to get stronger, but that’s normal for a young prospect who needs to grow and develop physically. He’s shifty, dips out of checks often, too.”
Duclair, taken with the 80th overall pick in the draft’s third round, is a few seasons away from his Broadway debut. The Rangers sent him back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Quebec Remparts where he scored two goals in the first game of the season.
Jonathan-Ismael Diaby may someday join Seth Jones on Nashville’s blue line. But not now. (Photo by Victoriaville Tigres)
The Nashville Predators someday may boast a twin-towers defense pairing of 6-foot-4, 206-pound Seth Jones and 6-foot-5, 223-pound Jonathan-Ismael Diaby. Jones, drafted fourth overall, is likely to make the Predators and is a longshot to make the U.S. Olympic hockey team that will compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February. The Predators returned Diaby, the 64th pick in the draft’s third round, to the Victoriaville Tigres for another season in the QMJHL.
Meanwhile, defenseman Darnell Nurse is turning heads at theEdmonton Oilers’ training camp. The 18-year-old from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds had an impressive pre-season outing against the Vancouver Canucks recently, playing 23 minutes in a 4-1 Oilers victory. He blocked shots and broke up two-on-one rushes.
Some of the National Hockey League’s players of color are feeling a draft.
At least 17 minority players are among the players left unprotected by the NHL’s 30 teams for Wednesday’s Expansion Draft to help form the inaugural roster for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The players of color made available – a nicer phrase than “unprotected” – include a likely future Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, three multiple Stanley Cup winners, three Olympians, and a few minor league prospects.
Emerson Etem, left wing. The 29th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Etem has bounced from the Ducks to the New York Rangers to the Vancouver Canucks and back to the Ducks. And he’s boomeranged between Anaheim and its American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego.
He only appeared in three games for the Ducks in 2016-17 and was held scoreless. He does have 22 goals and 24 assists in 173 NHL regular season games and 6 goals and 2 assists in 23 playoff games.
Malcolm Subban, a Boston Bruins’ 2012 first-round pick. Could he be Vegas-bound?
Malcolm Subban, goaltender. Subban was 24th player picked in the 2012 NHL Draft but has been unable to secure a spot on a Bruins roster that features Tuuka Rask between the pipes. Rask won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14 as the NHL’s best goaltender.
The younger brother of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, Malcolm Subban appeared in 32 games last season for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL farm team. His stats: 11 wins, 14 losses, a 2.41 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He had 2 losses in the AHL playoffs and sported a 2.12 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
Johnny Oduya, defense. Oduya was a member of the 2013 and 2015 Chicago Stanley Cup teams and the Swedish team that won the Silver Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 52 regular season games for the Blackhawks last season. He has 37 goals and 145 assists in 798 career regular season contests and 6 goals and 22 assists in 106 career playoff games.
Jordin Tootoo, right wing. The diminutive dynamo of Inuit heritage was limited to 2 goals and 1 assist in 50 regular season games in 2016-17. He has 65 goals and 96 assists in 723 games with Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, and the New Jersey Devils.
Forward Gemel Smith, the Dallas Stars’ 2012 fourth-round pick..
Gemel Smith, center. The Stars took the 23-year-old in the fourth round with the 104th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He hasn’t seen much time in Big D. He scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 17 regular season games for Dallas in 2016-17.
His younger brother, forward Giavani Smith, was taken by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round with the 46th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Jujhar Khaira, center. Khaira was one of the feel-good stories of the 2016-17 season when he scored his first NHL goal – a source of pride for North America’s South Asian community. The Oilers took Khaira in the third round with the 63rd overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. His one goal and 2 assists were his only points in 10 games for the Oilers in 2016-17.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Jarome Iginla, right wing. Iginla, 39, is one of hockey’s most-decorated players. He’s a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, and a recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer in 2002 and 2004 and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2002. He won the Lester B. Pearson Award – the most valuable player award voted by the players – in 2002.
Iginla, a sure-fire Hall of Famer when he retires, had 14 goals and 13 assists in 80 games for the Kings in 2016-17.
Jordan Nolan, center. A proud member of the Ojibwe Nation, Nolan played for the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2012 and 2014. Nolan, the son of former BuffaloSabres Head Coach Ted Nolan, appeared in only 46 games for the Kings last season and tallied 4 goals and 4 assists.
Matt Dumba, defense. Of Filipino heritage, Dumba posted a career-best 11 goals and 23 assists in 76 games. His plus/minus – an indicator of defensive responsibility – improved from plus-1 in 2015-16 to plus-15 in 2016-17.
Al Montoya, goaltender, Montreal Canadiens
Al Montoya, goaltender. The well-traveled Cuban-American goaltender could be on the move again. A 2004 first-round of the Rangers, Montoya has strapped on the pads for the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Winnipeg Jets before he seemingly settled in as Carey Price’s backup in Montreal.
Montoya appeared in 19 games for the Habs, posted an 8-6-4 record with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Devante Smith-Pelly, right wing. Devo is coming off a down season in New Jersey, his third team since the Ducks chose him with in the second round with the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft. He scored only 4 goals and 5 assists in 50 games.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Christopher Gibson, goaltender. The black Finn didn’t play a minute in Brooklyn in 2016-17 and had a short season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Isles’ AHL team. There, he appeared in seven games and won 6. He had a 2.52 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
Gibson played in fourNHL games in 2015-16, posted a 1-1-1 record with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage.
Pierre-Edourard Bellemare, left wing. The French player probably enjoyed his most memorable season in 2016-17. It started with the World Cup of Hockey, where the fourth-line Flyers player became a key contributor for Team Europe and ended with him playing before his countrymen at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Paris.
In between, Bellemare had a solid enough year for the Flyers that the team re-signed him to a two-year deal at $1.45 million per year and made him an assistant captain. The 32-year-old checking line forward scored 4 goals and 4 assists in 82 regular season games. He has 17 goals and 17 assists in 237 career NHL games.
Trevor Daley, defense. Daley is experiencing the cruel business side of hockey. Win a Stanley Cup one week, get exposed to the expansion draft the next. The 33-year-old offensively-talented and defensively-responsible player began his NHL career with the Dallas Stars in 2003-04. Daley reached the 20-point mark seven times during his tenure with Dallas.
He had 5 goals and 15 assists in 56 games for the Penguins in 2016-17 and tallied 1 goal and 4 assists in 21 playoff games that ended with him winning a second Stanley Cup. Daley 78 goals and 200 assists in 894 career NHL regular season games.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Joel Ward, right wing. Injuries in 2016-17 hampered the 36-year-old wing who earned a reputation as a clutch playoff performer during his NHL career. He scored 10 goals and 19 assists in 78 regular season games and 1 goal and 3 assists in six playoff games.
He’s tallied 22 goals and 30 assists in 83 playoff games for San Jose, Nashville, and the Washington Capitals.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
J.T. Brown, right wing. A tough player who isn’t afraid to speak his mindon social issues, Brown had 3 goals and 3 assists for the Lightning last season. He has 18 goals and 39 assists in 262 NHL regular season games.
T.J. Oshie, right wing. Why in the world would the Capitals expose a player who notched 33 goals and 23 assists in 68 games last season? Our friends at the Russian Machine Never Breaks Capitals fan site break it down to money and uncertainty. Oshie needs a new contract and the NHL currently isn’t sure what the league salary cap will be next season. And Oshie could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. All that might be enough for the Golden Knights to pass on him, leaving the Caps to move forward with a new deal once the 2017-18 salary cap is set.