11:11, Make a Wish
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Call #4: Hockey is for Everyone with Kurtis Gabriel
In honor of Pride Month, the New Jersey Devils forward will discuss becoming the first NHL player to use Pride Tape and what the “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative means to him.
Attention subscribers, mark your calendars for 12PM on Saturday, June 29th for a discussion in honor of “Pride Month” with Kurtis Gabriel, who became the first player ever to use Pride Tape in an NHL game. Gabriel didn’t just use the tape—he scored a game winning goal with it and in the process, helped raise awareness for the “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative and the “You Can Play Project.” Gabriel will be joined by Matt Gaffney from the New York City Gay Hockey Association.
Class of 2019—The Goalies
This week, we will highlight some of the prospects ahead of the NHL draft, which takes place June 21st and 22nd in Vancouver. Let’s start with the goalies.
The Favorite: Head and shoulders above the pack is 6’4” Spencer Knight, who lost just five times this year for the United States National Team Development Program. The goaltender played prep school at Avon Old Farms prior to joining the USNTDP and will almost certainly be the first goalie taken in the draft—in fact, he might even be the first netminder to be taken in the top 20 since Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2012. But why is he a must in the first round? According to his goalie coach Jared Waimon it’s all about “his ability to arrive on his feet and limit how much he's sliding.” Basically, Knight has the ability to not only read the play but also can make difficult saves look easy because of his elite movement.
The Giant: At 6’7” Mads Sogaard literally stands above the rest and many have compared his combination of size and athleticism to Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. The Danish netminder put up solid numbers during his rookie season in the WHL with Medicine Hat and will benefit from playing more games next year after only suiting up for 37 during the 2018-2019 regular season.
The Dark Horse: Another prospect hopes to follow in the footsteps of Flyers rookie Carter Hart. Dustin Wolf backed up Hart during his rookie year in the WHL, but he dominated this season—his first as a starter—putting up video game-like numbers for the Everett Silvertips. He was the first Silvertips goalie to win 40 games, led the league in shutouts with seven, and surrendered just 1.69 goals per game. Although he’s a smaller goaltender, Wolf is an elite puck tracker with the numbers to prove it and could be a solid third or fourth round pickup.
Dig Deeper: Chris Peters, ESPN
NHL.com’s List of the Top Ten Prospects
Want to learn more about the writer for Pregame Skate? Click here. (P.S. he’s a goalie so he knows a thing or two about the netminders above).
The Blues Did It, But Who’s Next?
What’s Happening: The St. Louis Blues won their first ever Stanley Cup last week, ending over half a century of frustration and heartbreak. 11 NHL franchises will look to do the same next year, but who actually has a chance?
11:11, Make a Wish: Fans of the Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks only have one wish heading into next season—they want the Cup. The Sharks made the deepest run this year, losing to the Blues in the Western Conference finals, and the Predators came within two games of a Stanley Cup two years ago, falling to Pittsburgh in six games.
Our Picks: Nashville and Winnipeg
Here’s Why: Nashville’s speedy forwards provide a constant scoring threat, and Pekka Rinne is still at the top of his game at age 37. The growing Nashville hockey market is also providing a boost each home game at Bridgestone Arena. As for Winnipeg, they really have it all, but just haven’t found the recipe in the playoffs. If players like Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Patrik Laine—who had a mid season 15 game scoring drought—get hot at the right time, the Jets could be a dangerous team next May and June.
Dig Deeper: Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
High and Tight
Ever wonder who helps NHL players with their style off the ice? On-ice style is key, but players in the NHL also pay attention to what they wear heading into the rink on game day. Giovanni Vacca, now 86, started his store, Giovanni Clothing, in 1965 after moving to Montreal from a small town in Italy and over the years, he and his son Domenico have styled some of the NHL greats, from Wayne Gretzky to Sidney Crosby to a few players who read this newsletter.
How it Started: The MLB’s Montreal Expos were the first team to get fitted by Giovanni, and the Italian slowly grew his business. Former NHLer Kevin Stevens eventually suggested that his son Domenico hit the road to fit players, which led to a client list with names like Shea Weber, Brent Burns, Brian Dumoulin, and Joe Thornton.
According to Giovanni, the style has changed since he started out. “Players today want more slim fit, tight fit. From the big suits, now we have the short suits.” Giovanni’s work was on display during the Stanley Cup finals—Bruins GM Don Sweeney and Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo are part of his star-studded client list.
Dig Deeper: Salim Valji, The New York Times