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February/March 2021

February/March 2021

In our latest issue, we have in-depth features on Zdeno Chara, Steven Stamkos, Morgan Rielly, the St. Louis Blues and women’s growing role in hockey. Plus, we have stories on Dylan Larkin, Travis Konecny and Neal Pionk, and NHL VP Kim Davis explains what Black History Month means to the league. Also, we count down the new Reverse Retro jerseys, talk diversity with former NHLer Anson Carter, look at a player on the hot seat for each of the 31 teams, and explore whether ads on NHL jerseys are inevitable. Get all this and much more.

NHL

WEST DIVISION

SAM STEEL has been gifted time in Anaheim’s top-six and has taken a regular shift on the power play since breaking in last season. But he has to start producing more than seven goals per 82 games. Top prospect Trevor Zegras is arriving soon to either supplant Steel or push him. Although he’s still just 20, there’s pressure on BARRETT HAYTON to step in and make an impact. For one, he was drafted fifth overall in 2018, two spots before Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes. Second, the Coyotes dealt Derek Stepan before the season to allow Hayton to develop at center. BRANDON SAAD, with two Stanley Cup rings, was brought in this season to give the Avs a championship pedigree and secondary scoring. He’s far removed from being the 30-goal, 50-point man he was…

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STAMPEDING UP THE BOARD

‘THE BISON’ DIDN’T JUST charge into the 2020-21 USHL season – he flat-out trampled it. Matt Coronato rang up 38 points through 18 games, nearly matching the 40 points he put up last year as a rookie with Chicago. Not only was he leading the league in offense, but the Harvard commit had at least one point in each one of those 18 games. “He’s not a tall guy, and he’s already physically strong, so he’s a tough guy to project with,” said one scout. “Matt is a pretty put-together product already. Having said that, it’s a pretty good product. He’s a good skater, he’s got skill, he’s smart, he can score, and his best asset is probably his compete level, which amplifies all his other attributes.” Right now, Coronato appears…

NHL

EAST DIVISION

No Zdeno Chara. No Torey Krug. CHARLIE MCAVOY must become Boston’s alpha D-man. He has mostly delivered on his pedigree, eating up ice time and playing stout defense, but he needs to elevate his offense. He has averaged eight goals and 41 points per 82 games. After JEFF SKINNER sniped 40 goals in 2018-19, Buffalo shelled out $72 million over eight years to keep him. He followed up with a 14-goal season. His yo-yo career pattern suggests he will rebound. With seven years left at $9 million per, he has to – it’ll cripple the team if he doesn’t. His arrival was supposed to help jump-start the rebuilding Devils. Instead, they fell flat last year. P.K. SUBBAN is a marquee name with a pricey $9-million cap hit, so New Jersey wants more…

In Memoriam

George Armstrong

AS THE TORONTO MAPLE Leafs waited in the corridor to take to the ice before games in the 1960s, teammates invariably heard the sound of a stick being whacked against shinpads. Their captain would then look down at his legs and say, “Come on, you moneymakers!” It was a regular bit that was equal parts inspiring and hilarious, “because, let’s face it, ‘Chief’ was not the swiftest skater,” recalled teammate Ron Ellis. George Armstrong was afflicted with spinal meningitis at the age of six, and it forever hampered his skating ability, but it was not nearly enough to prevent him from becoming a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players in Maple Leafs history. To be sure, he was the greatest captain the franchise has ever had, wearing the ‘C’…