Quick Hits: NHL Expansion, Patrick Kane off NHL cover, Rangers goalie prospects

Bobby Bevilacqua

Some interesting stories from around the league have come out in the past few days, including some news about the Rangers goalie prospects.

NHL Expansion takes another step forward

Gary Bettman

Gery Bettman has invited the ownership groups in Las Vegas and Quebec to enter Phase Two of the expansion process. Photo courtesy of Trevor Hogan/Associated Press.

As many people know, the NHL is looking to expand the amount of teams in the league for the first time since 2000, when the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets played their first games in franchise history.

While 16 separate groups/individuals were interested in creating a new team, only two cites had filed an application; Las Vegas and Quebec. Las Vegas has never had an NHL team before, while the small Quebec City was host to the Nordiques from 1979 to 1995, when they became the Colorado Avalanche.

As of August 5th, the ownership groups based in Las Vegas and Quebec were invited to take part in the second of three phases in the bid to get an expansion team. This phase involves both groups providing the league with additional information about their respective markets and plans for an arena.

Speaking of an arena, both Las Vegas and Quebec have arenas that are under construction or nearly finished.

The Las Vegas arena is actually ahead of schedule, and is expected to be finished 259 days from the date of this article. ESPN staff writer Arash Markazi took a tour of the stadium, and posted pictures on his Twitter.

In Quebec, the situation is quite different, as the Videotron Centre is practically finished! The $500 million facility is set to open on September 15th, 2015, ready to host NHL games from the start. It’s also being used to try and win a Winter Olympics bid. The 18,259 seat arena is also quite spectacular, and it could be one of the nicest arenas if the NHL heads back to Quebec.

Videotron centre outside

The outside of the Videotron Centre. Photo courtesy of Construction nouveau Colisée Facebook Page.

videotron centre inside

The inside of the new Videotron Centre. Photo courtesy of Construction nouveau Colisée Facebook Page.

Videotron Centre rendering

The expected finished product. Photo courtesy of Populous.

I think that expansion is a good thing for the league right now. While I don’t have specific numbers or data, I feel like the league’s popularity has really grown over the past few years. More people are casually watching hockey, especially the playoffs, and the interest amongst young adults seem to be growing too.

Canada is hockey crazy, and Quebec would probably be just fine getting a consistent fan base. While I’m a bit more nervous about Las Vegas, mainly because of the large tourism population (no consistent fans?) and the gambling rooted deep in the city, the season ticket sales have been pretty good, and interest is there. 32 teams is a good number, and it would allow the Eastern and Western Conferences to have the same amount of teams, which I think is great. I’m all for expansion!

Patrick Kane removed from NHL 16 cover

NHL 16 cover

The original cover for NHL 16. Now, Patrick Kane will be removed, and it’s rumored that just Jonathan Toews will be on the cover. Photo courtesy of EA Sports.

Following the rape allegations surrounding Chicago Blackhawk’s forward Patrick Kane, EA Sports has announced that they have decided to remove Patrick Kane from the cover of NHL 16, set to release in September, as well as using someone else to be the spokesperson for the video game franchise.

While Kane is certainly innocent until proven guilty, and no charges have been filed yet, this is the right move from EA.

First off, EA is a corporation, and they have a right to use whoever they choose as their spokesperson, regardless of whether that person has committed a crime or not. Also, it’s a necessary precaution to take. The game is scheduled to release in September. The allegations surrounding Kane will not be settled until after the game is released. If he winds up being guilty, then EA just sold millions of copies of a game, with some going to children, with a convicted felon on the front. That would be really, really bad for the company’s image.

So while I agree that Kane is innocent until charges are filed and he’s found guilty, that hasn’t happened. Nobody knows what actually went on in his Buffalo house, and EA is making the right move by being extra cautious.

There is no official news on what the new cover will be, but it’s rumored that it will be just Jonathan Toews lifting the Stanley Cup.

Four Rangers goalies ranked in the Top 50 goaltending prospects

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Brandon Halverson was ranked the 23rd best goalie prospect by InGoal Magazine. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.

In an article published by InGoal Magazine, four, yes FOUR, of the Rangers goalies on the depth chart have been ranked in the Top 50 goalie prospects in the entire league. Those three are Brandon Halverson (23), Mackenzie Skapski (30), Magnus Hellberg (41) and Igor Shestyorkin (50).

It’s nice to see one or two of your goalies on the list, but having four of them is absolutely fantastic. It’s really a testament to the Rangers’ management, coaching staff and scouts for finding, signing and developing these players.

Halverson, Skapski and Shestyorkin are all Rangers draft picks, while Hellberg was acquired from the Nashville Predators for the very good price of a sixth round draft pick. A few years ago, they had one of the worst goalie pools in the entire league. Now they’re at the top end of the spectrum.

Henrik Lundqivst has played with the Rangers for the past 10 seasons. At the age of 33, he’s obviously not going to last forever. But it’s really re-assuring knowing that four or five years from now, when he may be starting to feel the effects of age, Skapski will be 24-25, and Halverson and Shestyorkin will be 23-24

Here’s a link to the article if you’d like to take a look at all of the evaluations. (Click HERE)

Posted on August 13, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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