As we take a moment of respect to honor Memorial Day, here’s a look at some of the news around the hockey world.
NHL free agency begins in just over a month, but one player who won’t hit free agency is Matt Ellis. Ellis has bounced back and forth between the Buffalo Sabres and the AHL – whether with the Rochester Americans or the Portland Pirates – won’t become a free agent until at least next July, however, as he’s locked up for now. The folks over at Die By the Blade wrote up a report card for Ellis this season.
As mentioned in that article, Ellis has been a mainstay in the Sabres organization. I like having him around and I think he brings a veteran presence to the Rochester Americans. See what he can do next season with another leadership role in the AHL, then decide from there whether or not to re-sign him or allow him to hit free agency next July.
Heading into Sunday’s Memorial Cup Final game between the Guelph Storm and Edmonton Oil Kings, many had counted Edmonton out. After all, Guelph had won all three of their round-robin games in the tournament. Edmonton won two of their three, losing only to Guelph.
Of course, Edmonton was also coming off a triple-overtime victory of the Val-d’or Foreuers on Friday to make it to Sunday’s final. Guelph, meanwhile, had been off since Wednesday. And against all odds, the Oil Kings were able to capture the Memorial Cup victory, bringing the award back to the Western Hockey League for the first time since 2008. [Edmonton Journal]
With the Memorial Cup wrapping up on Sunday, the NHL Combine now begins in Toronto, running through next Monday. Over 115 prospects will head to Toronto to take part in medical and fitness testing, as well as one-on-one interviews with NHL teams, prior to the draft next month.
The Combine is a great way for NHL teams to get a closer look at prospects they may have interest in. As Sabres GM Tim Murray said in the article on NHL.com, most teams already have their eyes on specific players heading into the combine. Interviews allow them to get a closer look at the players’ maturity and other aspects of their off-ice personalities.
As the Memorial Cup wrapped up on Sunday, the IIHF World Championships also finished, with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin scoring the game-winning goal to break a tie with Finland, leading Russia to the gold medal. [CBC.ca]
Finally, New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr announced his retirement from international play on Sunday, after the Czech Republic fell to Sweden 3-0 in the bronze medal game. The 42-year-old affirmed that he will return to play for the Devils in October, but won’t be competing for his country anymore.