STANLEY CUP CHAMPS: Colorado Avalanche set records with Stanley Cup win

DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup in 21 years and third in franchise history on Sunday after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in the best-of-seven series.

While Lord Stanley’s Cup is the holy grail of hockey, several other notable records were set, accolades earned and goals achieved.

Player accomplishments

  • Defenseman Cale Makar: First NHL player to win the Hobey Baker (2019 best college player), Calder (2020 best NHL rookie), Norris (2022 best defenseman in the NHL), and Conn Smythe (2022 NHL playoffs MVP) trophies along with the 2022 Stanley Cup.
  • He’s also the third defenseman to win both the Norris and Conn Smythe trophies in the same season.
  • In NHL history, he is the third defenseman 23 years or younger to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, with Serge Savard and Bobby Orr winning in 1969 and 1970 respectively.
  • Makar’s 11 points in potential series-clinching games mark the most by a defenseman in one playoff year.
  • Forward Artturi Lehkonen: One of six other players to score the series-clinching goal in both the Conference Final/Semifinal and Stanley Cup Final in the same year.
  • Multiple players: The second-most points (69) scored by the 2022 team’s defensemen in one postseason in NHL history behind the 1985 Oilers (77).

Coach Jared Bednar’s achievement

Winning the Stanley Cup made history for head coach Jared Bednar. He’s now the only coach in NHL history to win the ECHL, AHL and NHL championships.

Bednar won the AHL Calder Cup in 2016 as coach of the Lake Erie Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate.

The South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL won the 2009 Kelly Cup championship in Bednar’s second season as head coach.

Other fun facts about Stanley Cup playoffs

  • General manager Joe Sakic matched Denver Broncos legend John Elway to win a championship with the franchise as a player and management.
  • The eight hat tricks scored during the Stanley Cup playoffs were the most in 29 years and four back of the record for one playoff year. According to the NHL, the only postseasons with more: 1988 (12), 1983 (12), 1985 (11), 1992 (11), 1993 (10) and 1981 (9).
  • The most ever No. 1-overall draft picks in the final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs whose team advanced to the 2022 Conference Finals.


NHL odds: Every team’s 2022-23 Stanley Cup title futures

Members of the Colorado Avalanche will take turns this summer with the Stanley Cup, one of the most cherished team trophies in North American professional sports.

Per NHL tradition, members of the championship organization get to spend time with Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the trophy is part of a celebration with friends, family and community members.

After the fun victory tour ends and play resumes this fall, who will be the favorites to hoist the trophy next season? 

Here’s everything you need to know about the title odds for the upcoming NHL season via FOX Bet.


Colorado Avalanche +450 (bet $10 to win $55 total)
Florida Panthers +800 (bet $10 to win $90)
Tampa Bay Lightning +800 (bet $10 to win $90)
Toronto Maple Leafs +900 (bet $10 to win $100)
New York Rangers +1000 (bet $10 to win $110)
Edmonton Oilers +1200 (bet $10 to win $130)
Vegas Golden Knights +1300 (bet $10 to win $140)
Carolina Hurricanes +1300 (bet $10 to win $140)
St. Louis Blues +1600 (bet $10 to win $170)
Minnesota Wild +1600 (bet $10 to win $170)
Boston Bruins +1800 (bet $10 to win $190)
Pittsburgh Penguins +1800 (bet $10 to win $190)
Calgary Flames +1800 (bet $10 to win $190)
Los Angeles Kings +2500 (bet $10 to win $260)
Washington Capitals +3000 (bet $10 to win $310)
Dallas Stars +4000 (bet $10 to win $410)
New York Islanders +4000 (bet $10 to win $410)
Philadelphia Flyers +5000 (bet $10 to win $510)
Winnipeg Jets +5000 (bet $10 to win $510)
Nashville Predators +5000 (bet $10 to win $510)
Vancouver Canucks +6000 (bet $10 to win $610)
San Jose Sharks +8000 (bet $10 to win $810)
Columbus Blue Jackets +8000 (bet $10 to win $810)
New Jersey Devils +8000 (bet $10 to win $810)
Anaheim Ducks +8000 (bet $10 to win $810)
Detroit Red Wings +10000 (bet $10 to win $1,010)
Chicago Blackhawks +10000 (bet $10 to win $1,010)
Ottawa Senators +10000 (bet $10 to win $1,010)
Buffalo Sabres +10000 (bet $10 to win $1,010)
Montreal Canadiens +10000 (bet $10 to win $1,010)
Seattle Kraken +15000 (bet $10 to win $1,510)
Arizona Coyotes +25000 (bet $10 to win $2,510)

* odds as of 6/27/2022

Betting notes and tidbits:

– The Avalanche enter as the favorites to win it all at +450.

– The runner-up Tampa Bay Lightning and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers are the co-second favorites at +800. The Presidents’ Trophy is awarded to the NHL team with the best regular-season record.

– The Toronto Maple Leafs (+900) have the lowest odds among the Original Six franchises.

– Toronto also has the lowest odds among the seven teams located in Canada.

– The last Original Six team to hoist the Cup was the Blackhawks in 2015.

– The last team from Canada to win the Cup was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. That was Montreal’s 24th Cup, the most in history. The Canadiens rank second behind MLB’s New York Yankees (27) for most titles in North America’s major four sports.

– The 2021-22 preseason odds got the top of the league right. Colorado was listed at +625 and Tampa Bay was the second choice (+700) to win the Cup, according to 

– The Avalanche were the fifth preseason favorite since 1990 to go on and win the Cup.

– Since the 1984-85 season, the eventual champion with the longest preseason odds was the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, who were +6000 before the season.

– Since the 1984-85 season, only four eventual champions had preseason odds longer than +2000 to win it all: the 2019 St. Louis Blues (+3000), the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes (+6000), the 2004 Lightning (+2500) and the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins (+3000).

Download the FOX Super 6 app for your chance to win thousands of dollars on the biggest sporting events each and every week! Just make your picks and you could win the grand prize. Download and play today!

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2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class: Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo headline newest inductees

The Hockey Hall of Fame has revealed its Class of 2022 inductees. Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Daniel Alfredsson, Riikka Sallinen, and Herb Carnegie all got the nod this year.

It was a big day for the Vancouver Canucks with three franchise legends headed to the Hall of Fame. The Sedin twins played the entirety of their 17-year careers with the Canucks, and they own countless franchise records.

Known for his elite vision and passing ability, Henrik Sedin finished his career with 830 assists, and he led the league in that category for three straight seasons from 2009 to 2012. In the 2009-10 season, Henrik Sedin led the NHL in total points (112) and won the Hart Trophy as the league MVP. One year later, Henrik racked up 19 playoff assists as he led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final. Henrik Sedin finished his NHL career with 240 goals, 830 assists, 1,070 points, and three All-Star appearances.

Daniel Sedin, a great passer in his own right, was on the receiving end of many of those feeds from Henrik. As a result, he tallied 393 goals throughout his career. In 2010-11, Sedin’s 104 points led the NHL. In his 17 seasons with the Canucks, Daniel Sedin totaled 1,041 points, three All-Star appearances, an Art Ross Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award.

Luongo was originally drafted by the New York Islanders, but he was traded to the Florida Panthers after his rookie year. He spent five brilliant years there before being traded again, this time to the Canucks. In Vancouver, Loungo backstopped the franchise to some of the best years in its history. In 2008-09, Luongo posted a whopping nine shutouts. In 2010-11, his goals against average was a minuscule 2.11.

Shortly before the 2014 trade deadline, Luongo was traded back to the Panthers, and that is where he spent the last five full seasons of his career. In total, Luongo played 11 seasons with Florida, eight with Vancouver, and one with the Islanders. His career stat line includes a .919 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Alfredsson spent 17 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators before signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2013. Alfredsson holds the Senators’ franchise records for goals (426), assists (682), and points (1,108). When Ottawa made a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, Alfredsson led the league with 14 goals in 20 games played.

Sallinen is a legend for the Finnish women’s hockey program. She had a long and prolific career at the international level, which ranged from the 1989 European Championships to the 2019 World Championship. In 81 international games, Sallinen notched 63 goals, 59 assists, and 123 points. Sallinen helped Finland win a pair of bronze medals in her four Olympic appearances.

Carnegie, who died in 2012, was inducted as a builder. Carnegie was of Jamaican descent and spent his career in the Quebec Provincial League and the Quebec Senior Hockey League. He did get a tryout with the New York Rangers in 1948, 10 years before Willie O’Ree became the first Black player to enter the NHL. Carnegie was never able to break through the league’s color barrier, but he began the Future Aces Hockey School in his retirement and tried to bring diversity to the sport.

Notable omissions from this year’s Hockey Hall of Fame class include Alex Mogilny, Curtis Joseph, Rod Brind’Amour, Jeremy Roenick, and others. 


Henrik, Daniel Sedin join former Vancouver Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo in 2022 induction class for Hockey Hall of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin, forward Daniel Alfredsson and goaltender Roberto Luongo into its 2022 induction class, the Hall announced on Monday.

Also included in the class, in the builders’ category, were Finnish women’s hockey icon Hanna-Riikka Sallinen and Herb Carnegie, a Canadian player of Jamaican descent who starred outside of the NHL. He is honored posthumously, having died in March 2012.

The Sedins and Luongo were teammates on the Vancouver Canucks and were in their first year of eligibility.

Henrik Sedin, a center, had 1,070 points and won the 2009-10 Hart Trophy as league MVP — receiving the award in a season when his twin brother, Daniel, was limited to 63 games because of injury. Henrik was third in scoring among centers during his 17-year NHL career, behind only Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby.

Like his brother, Daniel Sedin had a career points-per-game average of 0.80. The winger had 1,041 points in 1,306 games. He was the goal scorer in this remarkable tandem, although his 393 goals ranked him only fourth among left wings during his career. Daniel Sedin won the NHL scoring title in 2010-11 with 104 points and captured the Pearson Award as the NHLPA player of the year. He was second in the MVP voting to Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry that season.

“It’s nothing you think about when you play the game of hockey. But for us, we put our head down and put our work in every day,” Henrik Sedin said. “We get the most out of our talent. That’s what we’re most proud of today.”

The Sedins’ Hall of Fame selection is less about individual accomplishments than it is about the magic they made as linemates for Vancouver. Drafted second (Daniel) and third (Henrik) overall in 1999 by Vancouver, the duo often appeared to have an inherent awareness of where the other was on the ice at all times. “Cycle like the Sedins” became synonymous with the way they would control the puck in the offensive zone.

“We kind of joke that they know what they’re going to do without ever looking at each other,” Alfredsson said of the Sedins.

Luongo played 1,044 games, second all time. He amassed 489 wins, good for fourth all time, having played on significantly less successful teams than Martin Brodeur (691), Patrick Roy (551) and Marc-Andre Fleury (520) ahead of him. Luongo also had a .919 career save percentage and 77 shutouts, both ninth best all time. He backstopped Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 and was a member of two IIHF world championship teams. The only thing he doesn’t have is a Vezina Trophy for NHL’s top goalie, having been a finalist three times.

While the Sedins played their entire careers with the Canucks, Luongo was drafted by the New York Islanders, played 572 games with the Florida Panthers and 448 with Vancouver.

Alfredsson has been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 2017. The winger played 1,178 games with the Ottawa Senators and 68 games in his final year with the Detroit Red Wings. His 444 goals are 64th all time, and his 1,157 points are 55th. He won the Calder Trophy in 1995-96 and won Olympic gold along with the Sedins in 2006, plus a silver in 2014. But he never won another individual award or the Stanley Cup.

Carnegie was a legendary player outside the NHL. Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens famously called him one of the best skaters he ever played with while both were with the semi-pro Quebec Aces. Herb Carnegie, his brother Ozzie and Manny McIntyre formed the first all-Black line in hockey, creating a sensation in Canada. He later created the Future ACES Hockey School, the first registered hockey school in Canada to teach hockey skills while emphasizing character development.

“I’m just totally overwhelmed about the whole thing. For years, people have been working so hard to see that my father was recognized,” Herb’s daughter, Bernice Carnegie, said. “We’re either crying or smiling over this.”

The biggest surprise in the class is Hanna-Riikka Sallinen. The Finnish center is considered one of the greatest European players in women’s hockey history. Sallinen played a total of 11 seasons in the Naisten SM-sarja, the elite league in Finland, and was a five-time champion.

She won Olympic bronze with Finland in 1998 and 2019. In the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, her final Olympics, she became the oldest player of any gender to win a medal in ice hockey at the Olympics (age 44), passing fellow Finn Teemu Selanne.

Among notable snubs for the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2022 were winger Alexander Mogilny, eligible since 2009; Jennifer Botterill, Team Canada forward, eligible since 2014; defenseman Sergei Gonchar, eligible since 2018; Caroline Ouellette, Team Canada forward, who was eligible for the first time; and Meghan Duggan, Team USA forward, also first-year-eligible.

Although its rules state that it can, the Hall of Fame has inducted two women’s players in the same class only once since 2010.


Three ex-Michigan hockey players win Stanley Cup with Colorado Avalanche

Three former Michigan hockey players entered the Stanley Cup Finals, and all three came out victorious raising Lord Stanley.

Defenseman Jack Johnson and forwards J.T. Compher and Andrew Cogliano, all former Wolverines, celebrated with the cup Sunday night after the Colorado Avalanche finished off the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Avs won Game 6 by a 2-1 score, winning the series by a decisive 4-2 margin.

Cogliano, 35, a former first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers, led the group with three points in the series. He had two assists in Game 2, a 7-0 win for the Avs, and scored the game-tying goal in Game 4, a 3-2 overtime victory for Colorado.

The Avs won Game 1 and 2 in Colorado, split Games 3 and 4 in Tampa, lost Game 5 in Denver, and closed out the series at Amalie Arena in Florida.

The Toronto native just wrapped up his 15th season in the NHL after spending two years at Michigan. Cogliano finished third on the Wolverines in scoring during the 2006-07 season.

Compher, 27, notched just one point in the series, an assist in Game 2, after a productive Western Conference Finals. This was Colorado’s first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 2001.

Compher is a former second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres and played three seasons at Michigan from 2013 to 2016, earning all-freshman honors, voted team captain as a junior, and first-team all-Big Ten honors.

Meanwhile, Johnson finished plus-2 for the series while playing 65-plus minutes. He accounted for 10 penalty minutes and recorded two shots.

Johnson, 35, is a Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native and former first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005. He played two seasons at Michigan, setting program records for points (32) and penalty minutes (149) by a freshman defenseman and goals scored (16) by a sophomore defenseman.


Avalanche dethrone Lightning to win Stanley Cup for 3rd time

The Colorado Avalanche are back atop hockey’s mountain after dethroning the two-time defending champions.

Behind a goal and an assist from Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history and first in more than two decades by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the final Sunday night.

It’s the first title for this core group led by MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar and it follows years of playoff disappointment. The Avalanche lost in the second round each of the past three seasons after getting knocked out in the first round in 2018.

With a mix of speed, high-end talent and the experiences gained from those defeats, Colorado broke through this time — earning every bit of the championship by knocking off the team that hoisted the Cup the past two years. Like the Avalanche fully expected, it wasn’t easy.

After an early turnover by Makar leading to Steven Stamkos’ goal that put them in a hole and several more bumps and bruises, the Avalanche tied it when MacKinnon beat 2021 playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevskiy with a near-perfect shot and went ahead on another big goal by trade deadline acquisition Artturi Lehkonen. They locked things down by holding on to the puck and not letting Tampa Bay even shoot the puck on Darcy Kuemper in the third period.

When they did, he was there. Brought in from Arizona in a trade last summer to shore up the sport’s most important position, Kuemper was solid again and made his most important save with under seven minutes left when he slid over to deny skilled winger Nikita Kucherov.

Much like the Lightning went all in multiple times by trading high draft picks and prospects to load up for the best chance to win the Cup, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was not afraid to ante up in March to acquire Lehkonen, defenseman Josh Manson and veteran forward Andrew Cogliano. They became the perfect complement to Colorado’s core that had showed plenty of playoff promise and until now hadn’t produced a championship.

Sakic, who captained Colorado’s first two title-winning teams in 1996 and 2001, used a familiar recipe to get his team over the hump. Much like Pierre Lacroix, the architect of those Avalanche teams that had so much success after the organization moved to Denver, Sakic prioritized skill, speed and versatility.

That speed overwhelmed every opponent along the way, from an opening sweep of Nashville through a hard-fought, six-game series against St. Louis, another sweep of Edmonton and then Tampa Bay, which staved off elimination once but ended up two victories short of becoming the NHL’s first three-peat champions since the early 1980s New York Islanders dynasty.

“They’re a team that’s looking to become a dynasty,” Makar said. “We’re a team that’s looking to start a legacy.”

That legacy finally involves a championship, thanks in large part to steady coach Jared Bednar, who in his sixth season found a way to focus his team on the mission at hand from the start of training camp. That mentality helped the Avalanche get over the hump, and Bednar became the first coach to win the Stanley Cup, American Hockey League’s Calder Cup and ECHL’s Kelly Cup.

Bednar won the chess match with Jon Cooper, also a Stanley and Calder Cup champion who is considered one of the best tacticians in the NHL. But things began to stack up against the Lightning facing their stiffest competition since their run of success began in 2020.

Injuries that sidelined top center Brayden Point and limited other key contributors proved too much against a stacked opponent built to withstand just about anything. Depth allowed the Avalanche to overcome losing defenseman Samuel Girard to a broken sternum and finish off the Lightning without Cup Final Game 1 overtime scorer Andre Burakovsky sidelined by injury and with standout winger Valeri Nichushkin hobbling around on an injured right foot and center Nazem Kadri playing through a broken right thumb.

The Avalanche beat the Lightning before attrition could take too much of a toll and before the scary possibility of facing elimination in Game 7. Instead, they’ll return to Denver to celebrate with the Stanley Cup.

While not as emotional as the past two years when Commissioner Gary Bettman presented the trophy to Stamkos, Colorado’s series-ending victory marks another completion of an NHL season during a pandemic — the first back to 82 games with a normal playoff format since 2019. It was not without its stumbles, including postponing dozens of games and pulling out of the Olympics.

The Avalanche and Lightning dealt with at-times rough ice conditions playing late into June, something that should not happen moving forward as the league gets back to its regular schedule. When that happens, Colorado will get the chance to defend its crown and attempt to follow Tampa Bay in sustaining a perennial Cup contender.

Reporting by the Associated Press

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Avalanche vs. Lightning odds, prediction: 2022 Stanley Cup Final picks, Game 6 bets from expert on 137-73 run

The Colorado Avalanche get a second chance to close out their first title since 2001 when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. After a heart-breaking 3-2 loss in overtime in Game 4, the Lightning battled to a 3-2 victory Friday night after Colorado had equalized twice. Tampa Bay is seeking its third consecutive title and will now have the home crowd at Amalie Arena behind it as it tries to force Game 7. 

Opening face-off in Tampa is set for 8 p.m. ET. Colorado is the slight -115 favorite (risk $115 to win $100) on the money line in the latest Lightning vs. Avalanche odds from Caesars Sportsbook. Tampa Bay is a -105 underdog, and the over-under for total goals scored is six. Before making any Avalanche vs. Lightning picks or 2022 Stanley Cup Final predictions, you need to see what SportsLine NHL expert Matt Severance has to say.

Severance is a well-connected writer and handicapper who has worked in the industry since 2005. He is SportsLine’s top NHL handicapper, going 137-73-4 in his last 214 NHL picks and returning almost $3,000 for $100 players. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, Severance has set his sights on Avs vs. Lightning and locked in his picks and NHL playoff predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several NHL odds and betting lines for Lightning vs. Avs: 

  • Avalanche vs. Lightning money line: Colorado -115, Tampa Bay -105
  • Avalanche vs. Lightning over-under: 6 goals 
  • Avalanche vs. Lightning puck line: Colorado -1.5 (+210)
  • Avalanche vs. Lightning tickets: See tickets at StubHub
  • COL: D Cale Makar has seven points in the past four games
  • TB: D Victor Hedman has four points in the past three games

Featured Game | Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche

Why the Avalanche can win

Colorado has history on its side, and it has numerous players who have been rising to the challenge in the playoffs. Only one team has rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup, and that was in 1942, when the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled it off. Seven Avalanche players have at least 15 points, led by defenseman Cale Makar with 29. The Norris Trophy winner has 21 assists, 10 of those on the power play. Colorado has converted on a third of its power plays in the playoffs, scoring 20 goals in 60 tries, while Tampa Bay has scored on just 20 percent. 

The Lightning also have racked up over 100 more penalty minutes than the Avalanche (274-173). Tampa Bay has an 18-15 edge in power-play chances in the series, but Colorado has scored six goals while the Lightning have just two with the man advantage. 

Why the Lightning can win

Tampa Bay has a chance whenever Andrei Vasilevskiy is in net, and it has shown its reliance throughout the playoffs. Vasilevskiy has a 2.54 goals-against average and 92.1 save percentage in the playoffs, and the two goals he allowed Friday were the result of deflections. One went off a defenseman’s skate into the net, and the other deflected off a teammate’s glove to create a wide-open rebound off the goalie’s pads. He is far more experienced than counterpart Darcy Kuemper, who has allowed 13 goals on 129 shots (89.9 save percentage) in the five games.       

The Lightning have more than enough firepower to test Kuemper if they get the shots on him. Nikita Jucherov got his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday night, and Ondrej Palat scored the winning goal, his 16th career go-ahead playoff tally. Kucherov leads the team in playoff points with 27, posting 18 assists.

How to make Avalanche vs. Lightning picks

Severance has analyzed the Lightning vs. Avalanche game from every angle, and he is leaning under on the goal total, but he also says a critical X-factor makes one team a must-back on the money line. He’s only sharing who it is and which side of the Game 6 money line to back at SportsLine.

So who wins Avalanche vs. Lightning in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final? And what crucial X-factor makes one team a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which team you need to jump on, all from the expert who has crushed his NHL picks, and find out.


Saint John moves into Memorial Cup title game with win over Shawinigan

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — William Dufour scored four times in a span of 19 minutes, 55 seconds and the host Saint John Sea Dogs advanced to the Memorial Cup championship game, beating the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rival Shawinigan Cataractes 5-3 on Saturday.

“To finish my [junior] career like this is so great,” Dufour said. “We have one more game to win. We’re just going to go for it.”

QMJHL champion Shawinigan will face Ontario Hockey League winner Hamilton on Monday night in the semifinal, with the winner advancing to face Saint John in the final Wednesday night.

Dufour erased Shawinigan’s 3-0 lead with a natural hat trick in the second, scoring at 2:02, 2:23 and 8:38. Jeremie Poirier gave the Sea Dogs the lead on a power play with 5:48 left in the period, and Dufour struck again at 1:57 of the third.

The 6-foot-3 Dufour, selected in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL draft by the New York Islanders, was the MVP of the QMJHL this season after scoring 56 goals and finishing with 116 points in the regular season.

Loris Rafanomezantsoa opened the scoring for Shawinigan at 49 seconds, Olivier Nadeau made it 2-0 with 5:27 left in the period and William Veillette connected with 43 seconds to go.

Nikolas Hurtubise made 26 saves for Saint John. The Sea Dogs had two victories and an overtime loss in round-robin play.

Canceled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event features the winners of the three major junior leagues and the host team.


Sheldon Jacobson: NHL general managers should study computer science

Ron Hextall, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager, holds the 21st overall pick in the upcoming National Hockey League entry draft to be held July 7 . This pick gives him the opportunity to add outstanding hockey prospects. Pittsburgh has not been particularly effective with its selections, with 2015 the last time the team drafted a prospect who became an NHL regular.

Identifying great hockey players is not as daunting as finding ways to pay for and keep them.

Salary caps are the constraining factor when building a championship team. If a small number of high-quality players are given lucrative contracts, then the rest of the team might need to be filled with role players or quality players near the ends of their careers who might not demand high salaries.

There are ways to circumvent salary caps, at least temporarily. For example, teams can place injured players on long-term injured reserve. These player salaries are then not counted against a team’s salary cap, until they return to play or if they only return during the playoffs.

What a salary cap does is create a knapsack problem for every general manager to solve.

The knapsack problem is a classic problem in computer science. Given a set of items, each with a given weight and value, which items should fill a knapsack such that the total weight of these items does not exceed the knapsack’s weight limit and the total value of these items is as large as possible? One way to evaluate each item’s benefit is by taking the ratio of its value to its weight. The higher the ratio, the more benefit an item offers.

Clearly, the weights are the salaries paid to the players, and the knapsack threshold is the salary cap. There also is a limit on how many players each team can have under contract, which places a second constraint on the knapsack.

What is more nuanced and subtle is the value that each player brings to the team.

A player’s value is not his individual statistics. It is the team’s performance with him on the roster. This is where advanced analytics play a role.

A good NHL goalie can become great with superb defensemen and energetic backchecking forwards playing in front of him. The value of each player is then dependent on all the other players on the team.

Entry level contracts offer great value for general managers, which is why the entry draft is so important. That is when the ratio of value to salary for high draft picks are most attractive. However, once the entry level contract expires, teams must pay up for their best players, or lose them to free agency.

Given that assembling a team is a dynamic process, with players changing every season, and the resulting value that they bring to the team increasing or decreasing, long-term contracts that sound reasonable in year one might look awful in year six, as a player ages with injuries, or a synergistic linemate or defense partner gets traded or moves to another team.

After everyone is drafted, and all players are signed, a knapsack of players is assembled, whose value will provide a clue if the team will raise the Stanley Cup at some time in the future. Computer science can help Hextall and every general manager fill their knapsacks.

Sheldon Jacobson is a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His specialty is data science, with application in public policy and sports analytics.


NHL 2021-22 Season Preview: Kraken released, Lightning hoping to strike thrice

When the NHL regular season begins Tuesday, what’s old will be new again — and what’s actually new will be getting plenty of attention, too.

The league returns to its normal divisional format after a season of realignment and games played mostly in empty arenas. And for the second straight season, everyone will be looking to catch the Tampa Bay Lightning, the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s 32nd and newest franchise, which makes its much-anticipated debut and could be an immediate playoff contender.

What will the 2021-22 season bring? Here are the top storylines to watch.

Is Tampa Bay the team to beat … again?

You have to include the Lightning on any short list of Cup contenders because of their track record and the fact that many of the stars who led the way in those two titles — Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman and more — remain in the fold.

But the Lightning’s roster underwent some key changes in the offseason. Namely, the entire vaunted third line of Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman, which played a huge role in both championship runs, has moved on.

There hasn’t been a three-peat in the NHL since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to ’83. The Lightning have the talent to do it, but whether they have the depth to go through another grueling playoff run is the big question.

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How good will the Kraken be in Season 1?

Seattle enters the league with sky-high expectations, largely because the previous expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18, advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in its first season (and has remained a contender since then).

The expansion draft and ensuing free agency in July brought some well-established talent to Seattle, such as Vezina Trophy finalist goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Mark Giordano, so the potential is there for the Kraken to make noise in a weak Pacific Division.

They’ll get the chance to make an impression right away: Their first regular-season game is against the Golden Knights on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Then, on Oct. 23, they’ll debut in their new home, Climate Pledge Arena, in front of a crowd that has been anticipating the arrival of hockey in Seattle for years.

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Can anyone challenge Vegas in the Pacific?

The Golden Knights have advanced at least as far as the conference finals in three of their four seasons of existence, and there’s no reason not to believe they’ll be strong contenders again.

A big reason for that is the rest of the division is in major flux, with several teams in the process of retooling their rosters.

The Edmonton Oilers, with star forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, are expected to provide the stiffest competition. If the Kraken come together quickly, they could vie for the division title, too.

But Vegas’ biggest challenge could be in how its roster changes affect its makeup. Most notably, reigning Vezina winner and fan favorite Marc-Andre Fleury is gone, having been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in what essentially was a salary dump. It’ll be up to Robin Lehner to maintain Vegas’ standard of excellence in goal.

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What will McDavid do for an encore?

Despite a shortened, 56-game season in 2020-21, the Oilers’ star had 33 goals and 105 points and won the Hart Trophy as league MVP for the second time in his career. With highlights such as this, it’s no wonder.

Expect McDavid to be among the league’s scoring leaders once again, but he’d probably prefer to see more playoff success. Edmonton has advanced past the first round just once since his arrival in 2015, including a disappointing first-round sweep at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets last season.

Can a Canadian team get over the hump?

Last season, the Montreal Canadiens became the first team based north of the border to reach the Stanley Cup Final in 10 years, but they fell in five games to the Lightning to extend Canada’s championship drought to 28 seasons.

If one of Canada’s seven teams is to challenge this time around, the likeliest candidates are McDavid’s Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have suffered through a long run of playoff futility (no series wins since 2004).

The Leafs, despite having their own young star in Auston Matthews, blew a 3-1 series lead and were eliminated by the Canadiens in the 2021 playoffs.

Also, don’t sleep on Winnipeg, which has quietly become a consistently strong team. Backstopped by former Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets reached the second round last season.

Who’s tops in the stacked Metropolitan Division?

Of the NHL’s four divisions, the Metro might be the biggest toss-up.

The Washington Capitals (2018) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2016 and ‘17) are recent Cup champions, but both are expected to begin this season without their injured star captains, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes also have playoff aspirations, but expect fierce competition from the division’s three New York-area teams. The Islanders are coming off back-to-back conference finals appearances, the New York Rangers are ready to take the next step after a rebuild, and the New Jersey Devils have infused their roster with plenty of young talent.

FOX Bet currently lists the Islanders as the favorites to win the division (+350).

Are the Blackhawks a threat again?

Bidding to get back to its Cup-winning heights of the early 2010s, Chicago aggressively reworked its roster in the offseason by acquiring Fleury and stalwart defenseman Seth Jones in separate trades.

The biggest “addition,” though, might be captain Jonathan Toews, who is back after sitting out last season because of illness.

He and high-scoring winger Patrick Kane are two of the few remaining faces from the championship days, and their experience will be key if the Blackhawks are to make noise in the playoffs once again.

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How will the Olympics factor into things?

The NHL is scheduled to go on a three-week break in February so that its players can participate in the Beijing Olympics. This will mark the league’s return to the Games after it kept players out of the 2018 Olympics.

Although the break is a major disruption to the season, most players are open about their love of competing for their country. More importantly, this will be the first opportunity for many of the NHL’s young stars to shine on a worldwide stage.

For example, Canada will get to showcase McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Mitch Marner and Cale Makar, and the United States team will boast Matthews, Jones, Hellebuyck and, if healthy, Jack Eichel.

Despite the Olympic break, there will still be an All-Star Game on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas — another chance for the NHL to put its stars in the spotlight.

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