Phil Kessel: Rocket Richard Candidate in 2015-16?

Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs, Mark Blinch, Canadian Press, Hockey

Will the Phil Kessel trade give him the opportunity to win a scoring title? (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

The Phil Kessel changed everything. First, it showed the Maple Leafs are headed down the road of the rebuild for sure. Secondly, it put Kessel in a position to be the behind-the-scenes scorer that he wants to and can be. Finally, it powers Pittsburgh’s offence even more so than the duo they already possess.

But does it give Kessel a chance at showing his true scoring touch? After all, it will mean possibly having a true centre for the first time in his career.

For all the thoughts on Phil Kessel’s Rocket Richard charge, check out the link below.  Read more of this post

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Reload or Rebuild: Change is Needed in Pittsburgh

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Charles LeClaire, USA Today, Pittsburgh Penguins

With two of the best players in the game right now, which route should the Pittsburgh Penguins take? (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

Prior to the Phil Kessel trade, the Pittsburgh Penguins were in some kind of limbo. Two strong forwards and some relatively good depth, but they seemed to be missing pieces on the back end and questions remained surrounding the competency of Marc-Andre Fleury in net.

With the Kessel trade, it’s clear that the Penguins have elected to reload their roster. But should they have gone the other route – the one that leads to a rebuild (even if it is minor)?

For full analysis, check out the link below.  Read more of this post

Tape2Tape (014): The Bullies Are Back on Broad Street

Tom Mihalek, Associated Press, Zac Rinaldo, Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers

Rinaldo has been penalized a few times over his career for borderline plays. (Tom Mihalek/The Associated Press)

In an NHL where physicality is under the microscope, it’s quite possible that the Broad Street Bullies are back in Philadelphia. With Zac Rinaldo in the lineup, there’s always a chance that the Flyers will be prone to some kind of borderline plays.

But it wasn’t just Rinaldo in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, it was some of the unusual suspects that got the physical play going. So are the bullies back, or what?  Read more of this post

2014-15 Game of Numbers Series

Jeff Gross, Getty Images, NHL, Milestones, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf

As leaders on the Ducks, Perry and Getzlaf are among the top when talking about upcoming milestones. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The 2014-15 Game of Numbers series is an exclusive look at upcoming milestones for each NHL hockey club, brought to you by The Hockey Writers.

The series looks at individual milestones (players within 50 of any 100-mark of games played, goals, assists, points, wins and shutouts), franchise milestones and players among the top 100 in NHL history in the top statistical categories.

For all the updated 2014-15 upcoming milestones, check the links for each team below (all originally published on The Hockey Writers).  Read more of this post

Tape2Tape (005): Pittsburgh Penguins Unsuccessful at NHL Draft

Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL Draft, Bruce  Bennett, NHL, Getty Images

Will the Penguins change their fortunes in the coming drafts? (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The NHL Entry draft has been a rough go for the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2007 with no players drafted since that year having scored more than 15 goals for the Pens. Over that same time, the Chicago Blackhawks have draft multiple players who have had successful starts to their careers.

While the Penguins do have great talent up front with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but at some point, hockey becomes about building from the farm system. So where does Pittsburgh stand in terms of prospects and their development? How successful – or unsuccessful for that matter – have the Pens been when it comes to drafting prospects?  Read more of this post

NHL Caucus: Who faces the most playoff pressure? (USA Today)

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vincent Pugliese, Getty Images, NHL, Hockey,

Marc-Andre Fleury’s post-season struggles are well-documented. (Vincent Pugliese//Getty Images)

Through my position at The Hockey Writers, I was given the opportunity to be part of a panel on USA Today’s hockey page looking at players entering the NHL playoffs with the most pressure on their shoulders. The panel included opinion and analysis from myself, along with DobberHockey.com‘s Rick Roos and USA Today writers Mike Brehm and Kevin Allen.

Roos’ pick was Semyon Varlamov, while Brehm and Allen picked Martin St. Louis and Marc-Andre Fleury respectively. With St. Louis’ struggles since the trade, he’s someone who I also considered. Fleury has had his well-documented struggles in the post-season and was therefore also on my list. Varlamov, however, wasn’t on my radar until this article was published.  Read more of this post

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