Posts Tagged ‘NHL entry draft’

The NHL’s CBA Works Against Player Development

July 14th, 2011

The newly amended Collective Bargaining Agreement following the NHL’s 2004-2005 lockout created a number of significant changes to the NHL; some foreseeable and some not.

The biggest impact from the CBA is the hard salary cap and the significance now placed on talented prospects and rookies.

The economic reality of today’s NHL makes young and talented players (that’s the polite way of saying “cheap but effective players”) an extremely valuable commodity. Common place knowledge now, but GM’s like Jim Rutherford and Bryan Murray figured this out years ago.

While the salary cap limits the amount a team can pay players, it certainly has no bearing on the number of scouts, coaches, and development professionals an organization can employ. I’ve never understood why big market teams don’t invest more in their player personal departments and development programs (the Toronto Maple Leafs being one of the few exceptions).

If I were running a hockey team, I’d be putting my players on custom development programs with my best trainers, scouts, coaches etc… the moment after I drafted them. Seriously – right after the photo on the podium, I’d show my newly drafted prospects a treadmill backstage with their name on it. Then I’d have them board a flight to my team’s gym and practice facility for the rest of the summer.

But wait! You can’t do that.

» Read more: The NHL’s CBA Works Against Player Development

Epic Story: How San Jose drafted Logan Couture

December 9th, 2010

You might have recently thought “Hey, that Logan Couture guy is pretty good. The Sharks are lucky to have him.” I know I’ve thought this on many occasions over the last few weeks.

Logan Couture - San Jose Sharks

Then for some reason, you get this bizarre urge to find out Couture’s draft year. You eventually determine he was the ninth overall selection during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus. In an effort to look smart (read: not stupid), you nod your head in approval thinking ninth overall sounds about right.

But hold on for one second!

You recall the San Jose Sharks being a very good team during the 2007 NHL season. Your brain reaches a logical conclusion that there’s no way the Sharks could have had a draft pick that high that year.

Suddenly you are very confused. A team who finished with the fifth most points in the league during the 2007 season ended up drafting a player ninth overall later that summer.

Wait. Come again. What just happened?

It all started on draft day, June 22, when the San Jose Sharks traded forward Mark Bell and goalie Vesa Toskala to the Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry for the reminder Leafs fans) in exchange for Toronto’s first and second round picks (Lars Eller, 13th overall and Aaron Palushaj, 44th overall, respectively) in the 2007 draft, and a fourth round draft pick in 2009 (Craig Smith).

Hey – Maybe this is still one of those “wait and see” kinds of trades. Nevermind. Neither player has suited up for the Leafs in some time. Maybe John Ferguson, Jr. was desperate to acquire a starting goalie to make up for trading Tuukka Rask to Boston a year earlier for Andrew Raycroft. And he was adding a power forward in Bell at the same time too. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Nevermind that too. Maybe JFJ lost faith in the draft system after taking Jiri Tlusty 13th overall in the 2006 draft when Claude Giroux ended up going 22nd overall. Anyways…

Following the deal with the Leafs, the Sharks promptly traded those first and second round picks (Eller and Palushaj) to the St. Louis Blues for their ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft. Of course, that pick ended up being Logan Couture from the Ottawa 67’s.


For those keeping track, the Sharks managed to rid themselves of Mark Bell and Vesa Toskala for Logan Couture, a serious 2010-2011 Calder trophy candidate, and all it cost them was a fourth round pick in the 2009 draft.

Did you hear that noise just now? I think that was the sound of several thousand Leafs fans smashing their face into their keyboards.

There are some teams that flat out rob others during draft weekends. While most of the hockey world was busy watching the Chicago Blackhawks pick Patrick Kane first overall, the Sharks quietly stole one of the best talents available in the 2007 draft for close to nothing… unless you consider Craig Smith something of a big deal.

- – -

Some interesting notes from the 2007 draft:

  • 2007 was the first time two American-born players were selected first and second overall in NHL draft history (Kane picked by Chicago and James van Riemsdyk picked by Philadelphia).
  • The Colorado Avalanche selected Kevin Shattenkirk, one of the more promising rookies this year, 14th overall.
  • Whether the accompanying pressure is fair or not, Lars Eller ended up being a key piece of the Jaroslav Halak trade to the Blues last summer.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs did not make a first or second round selection in this draft (sounds familiar… where have I heard this story before?). In fact, their first selection of that weekend came when they took Dale Mitchell 74th overall in the third round. Yeah…
  • Montreal selected P.K. Subban 43rd overall, one pick ahead of Palushaj.
  • With the 97th overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers drafted a Swedish-born forward who would later become a YouTube shootout sensation and one of the top players in the American Hockey League in the 2010-2011 season. That player, Linus Omark, makes his NHL debut on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Stay classy, Logan Couture.

Significance of the NHL’s 2010 Research, Development and Orientation Camp

August 13th, 2010

Toronto is getting ready to host the NHL’s 2010 Research, Development and Orientation Camp next week. The event is so big that Gatorade is actually sponsoring the event! Granted, Gatorade sponsors anything with young hockey players but it’s still pretty cool, right? On second thought, they’d probably sponsor Neverland Ranch if those kids wore skates…

Uhhh, anyways… (how does one transition from that?!?!)…

Part of the excitement behind the 2010 Research, Development and Orientation Camp (RDO for short) is due to the fact that next summer’s top draft-eligible prospects will participate in the two day event. The consensus from all the hockey fans I’ve spoken to is no one really cares. But today, I’d like to explain the RDO’s significance to you:

  • If this event goes well in Canada, it’s very likely the NHL will bring it to the US, make it an annual tradition and start taking it seriously.
  • This entire event is a mirror image of Gary Bettman’s corporate philosophy: Fix what’s not broken and ignore what really needs attention. Brilliant, Gary.
  • Pro scouts can use this two day event as a good measuring stick for prospects future weight, height and nurse outfit size.
  • Media, bloggers and Brian Burke can get a closer look at who else the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t be drafting next summer.
  • RDO organizer, Brendan Shanahan, has said he hopes the camp will encourage new coaching strategies and offensive innovations. And then he hired Ken Hitchcock to run the event.
  • The New York Islanders intend to hire Mike Milbury to serve as a special advisor to their scouting team during the event. The Islanders staff will ask Milbury who he would trade in order to rank the top talent.
  • One of the lesser discussed camp seminars will teach top rated prospects to continue working hard and taking training seriously to avoid one day surpassing Wade Redden as the high paid AHL player of all time.
  • Every NHL team will send their scouting departments to this event to make note of the young, upcoming talent. Everyone except the Calgary Flames, who are still using the Sutter brothers “only if they’ve played for us before” policy.
  • NHL scouts and GM’s will get a first hand look at how these kids deal with adversity like changing rules, shifting crease sizes, wider blue lines and more. It will feel just like any Stephane Auger officiated NHL game.

Stay classy, 2010 Research, Development and Orientation Camp.

Revisiting the NHL’s “What If” TV commercials

June 29th, 2010

Remember the “What If” TV commercials the NHL ran during this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs? That was a great campaign. Well, the classic ones with Gretzky, Orr and Lemieux. Some of the newer ones – like that Mike Cammalleri one – weren’t as good. For what it’s worth, I still thought the campaign was great.

As part of my ongoing effort to help grow the sport and aid the NHL’s marketing department, I wanted to share a few of the “What If” commercials that never made it past the cutting room floor. Did you know the original campaign was supposed to cover the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Entry Draft and past the beginning of Unrestricted Free Agency (July 1st)?

True story… So without further delay, here are some of the lesser known “What If” commercials that didn’t quite make it onto your TV’s:

What If… Peter Chiarelli was more ‘savvy’ about signing long term contracts?

What If… Bryan Murray turned over Jason Spezza?

What If… Tomas Kaberle wasn’t available every draft, deadline and free agency period?

What If… The 2nd overall pick in 1993′s NHL Entry Draft remembered Alexandre Daigle?

What If… The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t believe in drafting?

What If… A star player remained a star player after being drafted by the Islanders?

What If… Darryl Sutter and Lou Lamiorello each had plans for the Flames and Devils?

What If… Peter Chiarelli knew he didn’t need to include No Trade Clauses in every contract?

What If… The Lightning hadn’t gambled on naming Rich Tocchet their head coach?

What If… Most of the hockey blogosphere actually knew who the kids drafted last weekend were?

What If… People believed Brian Burke actually had 4 or 5 “hard offers” for Kaberle?

What If… The Canucks didn’t give such generous contracts to checking wingers?

What If… Daniel Alfredsson’s guarantees resembled those of Mark Messier’s… even just a bit?

Stay classy, NHL TV commercials.

NHL Draft Facebook Event – Would you go?

June 25th, 2010

When I logged into Facebook last night, I had a notification of an event I had yet to RSVP to. I’m still not entirely sure if I should confirm my attendance. Although it looks legit (the NHL is very hip on these social media sites!), I’m not sure I fit in with the scene.

Below is a screenshot of the 2010 NHL Draft Facebook event. Would you go?

(Click on the image to view a larger version).'s funny 2010 NHL Draft event on Facebook

Stay classy, NHL Entry Draft.

Signs your hockey team is in trouble

June 23rd, 2010

It’s a busy time in the hockey world. The NHL Entry Draft and the start of Unrestricted Free Agency are both days away and teams are actively trying to better their rosters in any and every way possible. This even includes making trades, something I’m not accustomed to after last year’s “trade deadline”.

For most teams it’s a very exciting time. For others it’s a time of hopelessness and despair. Here are some signs your hockey team might be in trouble:

  • You recently traded for a player who once won a Stanley Cup for your franchise. Problem is he’s twice as old as your best player, Zach Parise.
  • Glenn Sather is still employed by your organization.
  • Your designated number one goalie for next season has averaged just 42 games played in each of his last five seasons.
  • Your GM is heavily considering offering the league maximum salary to Lebron James.
  • Recently Pierre McGuire was considered a finalist for your vacant GM position. I’m looking at you, Minnesota.
  • Your head coach just stepped down to be a (another) team advisor. Between you, the braintrust of Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, Mike Sillinger and others, you are one really old guy away from becoming the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • It’s been more than a full season since you last had a team Captain. Even the Leafs recently named a Captain!
  • You resigned Matt Cooke to a 3-year contract extension.
  • The core players of your franchise were the considered core players of your team before the lockout. I think one those core players might retire this summer too.
  • Steven Stamkos’ 2010 Rocket Richard trophy win is probably the highlight of your team’s season, next season.
  • It’s been almost a week since I last heard a ‘truculence/tough’ speech from Brian Burke.
  • Doug Wilson, your General Manager, intends to follow the Flyers goaltending model by “not paying very much for it.”  This should help you get closer to the Stanley Cup and finally not choking next season…
  • You legitimately believe “he didn’t object to the fact that maybe it’s time – the way (he’s) been received – now maybe it’s time” makes any sense to anyone.

Stay classy, troubled NHL teams.

Some hockey action to talk about!

June 20th, 2010

Finally! Some hockey news we can actually get excited about! I thought I’d change things up a bit today and comment on some of the trades and roster changes we’ve seen recently. Here we go…

  • said it perfectly when he said described the pressure Carey Price is about to face. “People thought Carey Price had pressure last year. Just wait until next year!” I couldn’t have said it better.
  • Speaking of Montreal, I don’t understand why they traded Jaroslav Halak last week. Most people sighed a collective “that’s it??” when seeing the return for the Habs Playoff hero. I like the trade for Montreal (in building their thin prospects pool), but I would think holding onto Halak until draft day would have maximized his value. Are you seriously telling me Chris Pronger can fetch two 1st Round Picks plus a good prospect (Luca Sbiza) on draft day and Halak can’t even get half of that?
  • I am completely confused by the direction of the New Jersey Devils. In fact I’ll pay someone a lot of money to explain to me why the changes they’ve made over the last six months make sense.
  • While most people have finally caught on to Chicago’s salary cap problems, no one is talking about Brent Seabrook. Seabrook currently earns $3.5 Million and is entering his last year under contract with the Blackhawks. I’m not sure the Hawks have the depth to lose him in addition to some of the other players they’re about to lose. It goes without saying Seabrook is due for a raise and has played a big part in the Hawks success and Duncan Keith’s development.
  • Both Fantana and I are convinced Paul Holmgren’s philosophy when it comes to building the Philadelphia Flyers is similar to how we build fantasy teams in NHL10 (all scoring, no goaltending).  His quote about not being in the Halak discussions – the best goalie even remotely available this summer – is telling as to why the Flyers haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975, despite having some great rosters.
  • I’ve seen those Spezza to Columbus rumors pop up more and more lately. As someone who follows the Senators pretty closely, I love that deal for Ottawa (to clarify: Spezza for the 4th overall pick and Derick Brassard – plus some other pieces on each side). I know Sens fans would feel like another Ottawa star would be leaving for nothing, but Brassard is a hell of a player and a 4th overall pick means Ottawa could draft stud defenseman Erik Gudbranson. He plus Erik Karlsson and (maybe) Jared Cowen is a strong foundation Ottawa can build around for years to come. Brassard’s cap hit ($3.2 Million for the next three seasons) would give Ottawa far more flexibility than Spezza’s ($7 Million for the next five seasons).
  • I agree with EVERYONE that Dan Hamhuis to the Flyers plus the emergence of Claude Giroux means one of Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter or Scott Hartnell will be traded. My guess is Jeff Carter because of his market value, his $5 Million cap hit and RFA status after next season. Maybe – just maybe – the Flyers will go after a solid NHL goalie. Perhaps a goalie like Chris Mason? Trading for Hamhuis might also mean Braydon Coburn’s time as a Flyer is up. Coburn is an RFA and is due for a raise over his $1.4 Million cap hit from last season.
  • Speaking of the Nashville Predators, something is clearly up. Perhaps they are clearing room for some UFA signings or a big trade? While that isn’t their style, it would be great to see. I don’t really have “sources” and I don’t make a living creating ridiculous rumors but I could see the Predators going after a high end player like Alex Semin this summer.
  • I think we’re seeing a changing of the guard of sorts. It seems like the NHL is shifting from blockbuster trades during the trade deadline to seeing the flurry of activity happening between the Entry Draft and July 1st. This actually forces more accountability onto GM’s. It also means we might see more GM’s fired in the next few years…

Stay classy, NHL trades. Glad to have you back.

A closer look at the NHL’s trade market

June 18th, 2010

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft is just one week away! Stay calm and collected my friends, this is the best news I’ve heard since the Blackhawks ended the season last week. As with every year, the Draft is always the start of some significant roster moves around the league.

In light of yesterdays blockbuster Canadiens-Blues trade (clarification: would-be blockbuster deal, provided Montreal actually got something in exchange for Halak), I had several teams complete a quick “need and available” survey. Let’s look at the needs of a few teams who’s names have been in the rumor mill in recent weeks:

Montreal Canadiens
Needs: A number one goalie, someone who can actually keep up with PK Subban and a good knee brace for Andrei Markov.
Available: Potential franchise goalie and whoever the current coach of our AHL team is.

Chicago Blackhawks
Needs: To shed salary without damanging the core of the team.
Available: Marian Hossa and Cristobal Huet. Any takers? No? OK. How about this: Huet was a mentor to Halak… still nothing? How about this: Hossa managed to score some nice goals in 22 playoff games… ( Good luck Stan Bowman!)

Philadelphia Flyers
Needs: To rip off a team with a great available goalie like the St. Louis Blues did.
Available: Daniel Briere and his no movement clause. Apparently that clause applies to local highways too.

Ottawa Senators
Needs: To acquire a point per game center/playmaker. Also needed are elite goal scorer(s), a shutdown defenseman and number one goalie.
Available: A point per game center/playmaker and a bunch of players no one wants.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Needs: Another assistant General Manager and another roster shake up (It’s been like, a few weeks since the last one…).
Available: Pretty much everyone except Dave Nonis. He’s probably the most untouchable person in the organization. And if you do somehow get him, I (Burkie) will pull him right back!

San Jose Sharks
Needs: Veteran leadership, proven playoff performers and a new team captain (just like every off-season in San Jose).
Available: All of our good players except Dan Boyle and the grinders like Manny Malholtra.

Minnesota Wild
Needs: … uhhh actually, what/who do we have???
Available: N/A.

St. Louis Blues
Needs: A veteran forward and some young prospects.
Available: The negotiation rights for goalie Chris Mason. Our asking price? Free or best offer. Did you see what we got Halak for???

Stay classy, NHL teams looking to make trades.

Found! Actual transcript between Jason Spezza and Bryan Murray

June 6th, 2010

You are in luck. A third Stayclassy post in three days. I guess I am feeling creative or something… (that something might be Justin from the Hockeycardshow suggesting I do this, but whatever…).

Lately there have been some heavy rumors suggesting Jason Spezza might ask to be traded prior to his No Trade Clause kicking on July 1st. It’s been reported by several (read: not credible) sports outlets that this is a result of Senators fans booing Spezza during their 1st Round Playoff exit at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both Bryan Murray and Jason Spezza have been fairly quiet on the matter (probably a good idea after last summer’s Heatley debachle). Murray has even indicated he hopes to sit down with Spezza prior to the NHL Entry draft to follow up on the previous conversation the two shared days after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs (read: weird post-season tournament where all the good teams lost early and screwed up hockey pools around the world).

What many don’t know is this follow up interview has already taken place! Luckily for you I have most of the interview transcribed. Here it is:

Bryan Murray: Thanksh for sitting down with me Jashon. There’sh a few things I’d like to follow up with…

Jason Spezza: Before getting into what I said a few months ago I have to ask. Why did you tell the media about my frustration with being booed? That was kind of a D-Bag move, man.

BM: Look I’m shaawwry about that. That was actually Eugene Melnyk’s fault. He told me to do that.

JS: Since when does he give you advice on running a pro hockey team?

BM: Well Jashon I won’t lie to you. He’s gotten very good at NHL10 on PlayStation. He told me he uses this tactic a lot when trying to make trades in franchise mode. His gamer score is pretty aweshome. I believe him.

JS: Is that the game with me on the cover?

BM: No. You are talking about NHL2k8. Totally different game.

JS: I’m starting to feel this organization doesn’t love me like I want to be loved! I helped design that game and my team owner is off playing another hockey game??? I even included my trademark behind-the-back pass moves!

BM: Yeah I know… that’sh actually a complaint of many players. They say it causes too many nearly-inshtant goals against. Anyways… We really want you to stay an Ottawa Senator. You are a leader of this team and frankly my career needs you to stay here and produce like everyone thinksh you can.

JS: You mean you can’t afford to trade another star player for “top 6 forwards” that are actually role players on 3rd/4th lines?

BM: Exshactly. It might discredit all future interviews I do when I talk about the team needing one final top 6 forward and top 4 defencemen to round out the solid group I have in place.

JS: * Giggles lots * Dude! I totally don’t believe you anymore when you say that — * Giggling increases *

* More giggling transpires… *

* Still going… *

BM: Jashon, you were saying?

* Still giggling… It’s like this giggling is being looped! *

BM: Schtop your damn giggling and get to the point!

JS: Right. OK. We keep getting sidetracked here. None of this conversation changes the fact that I don’t like being booed in my own building. I’m frustrated that the only thing this city shows emotion for is my ‘unlucky turnovers’ and tax season. I need to know what we’re prepared to do to stop the boo’s. It’s the only way I’ll stay in Ottawa.

BM: I have shome ideashs. I’ll call the City of Ottawa and have them indefinitely delay the Queensway expansion to tie up traffic getting to each home game. That way less people will be in the arena for game time. Less people equals less boo’s. It’s physhicshx.

JS: Nice. What else d’ya got?

BM: We could have the Shparta Cat blast hot dogs into the crowd every time you make a bad passh. Fans will never be able to boo because their mouths will be forever loaded with fake meat and bad shoe leather hot dogs! And we could make excuses for you like “Michalek needs another knee surgery”. We can probably get away with that excuse 2-3 times per season.

JS: *Nods in approval*

BM: We could also claim the dressing room lacks character players. I need to resign Nick Foligno soon. I don’t really know what the hell kind of offer to give him so we could make him the scape goat. That helps both of us.

JS: Nice! His nose freaks me out too. Oh! Can we get Mike Comrie back?

BM: Is he still playing hockey? I could probably offer our first round pick for next season. I’d have to check with Eugene but I’m pretty sure he’ll be cool with it. He’s probably already done this on NHL10 anyways. Anything else Jashon?

JS: One last thing. This is kind of random. When TSN and CBC show General Managers on TV in their Suites writing things down, what are you writing and doing?

BM: Well most guys do different schtuff. Personally I like crossword puzzles. And I know Burkie likes Sh… Shudsh… Shudokushs. That’s like the hardestsh word to say!! Anyways between me and you he really sucksh at them. He never uses the number 2… no clue why.

JS: Nice! OK. I have to go stop off at the bank and meet McGrattan and Emery for lunch. Apparently they need me to spot them a bunch of cash for something “fun”. Not sure what that means. See you in a few weeks.

I’m sure many fans of the Senators and Spezza will get mad and defensive over this “transcript”. If you are angered please lighten up. In all seriousness trading Jason Spezza would be the worst thing this organization could do for two reasons:

  1. There is no way the Senators can replace a #1 center like Spezza (via free agency or from within their organization).
  2. The Senators cannot afford the negative press that would come from losing another star player for nothing (they wouldn’t get anywhere near the value in return) in consecutive years. Season ticket sales would take an even bigger nose dive and the organization’s reputation would hurt the team for years to come.

Stay classy, Jason Schpezzsha.


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How is Tyler Seguin keeping up with Taylor Hall?

January 28th, 2010

In just under five months, the city of Los Angeles will host the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. You know, that thing fans of the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers refer to as “the Taylor Hall sweepstakes”. Or that thing with the guy the Toronto Maple Leafs are so graciously donating to the Boston Bruins.

My apologies… I couldn’t resist. Anyways,  one of the major stories heading into the draft is who will be selected first overall between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. At this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion both stars will be selected first and second in the draft.

As of writing this article, Hall is the top ranked prospect according to NHL Central Scouting and TSN. And that makes sense – Hall made the Canadian World Junior team and had an outstanding tournament when Seguin was cut. It doesn’t hurt Seguin as much as it helps Hall. It’s probably the difference in the two at this point. Something else to consider here, Hall is the sexy pick this year. The average disgruntled Leaf fan isn’t calling the upcoming draft the “Tyler Seguin sweepstakes we’ve entered on behalf of the Bruins”. I think it’s fair to suggest Hall is slightly more NHL ready than Seguin at this point, largely because of his World Junior experience (regardless – both are terrific players).

So, it begs the question, how is Seguin keeping up with Hall? I think there are two big factors at play. The fact that Seguin is probably a more complete player than Hall and because he’s a natural center (Hall plays left wing).

This year’s draft feels a lot like the 2009 draft. The sexy pick is Taylor Hall, just like last year was John Tavares. The more complete player that almost feels like a dark horse is Tyler Seguin, a role played by Matt Duchene last year. (Feel free to call Cam Fowler the 2010 version of Victor Hedman…).

The one distinct advantage Seguin has is the fact he’s a natural center. I believe that plays a big role with NHL scouts. When you look at strong teams, they always have depth at the center position. Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, and other great teams all have strong centers – usually a few of them too. It’s far more common for a center to control a game than a winger (unless you are Alex Ovechkin). When talking about dominant NHL forwards, take a look at the NHL’s top scorers. 6 of the top 10 are centermen. And with the exception of Marian Gaborik, all the top scoring wingers play with top flight centers too.

Seguin – a six-foot centerman – has to be appealing for Edmonton and Carolina. The Oilers lack a number one center, while the thought of the Hurricanes having a Staal-Seguin center-combo has to be enticing as well. To me, center is the most important forward position.

So despite how much additional press/buzz Taylor Hall gets, it’s easy to see how Seguin is keeping up (at least in the minds of GMs and scouts). And he’s currently leading the OHL in points – not too shabby either. A big strong center goes a long way in building a Stanley Cup contending team. Just ask Pittsburgh, Detroit, Anaheim, or Carolina.

Stay classy, Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall

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