While Vancouver Canucks fans and management take Monday off for August long weekend, hockey supporters throughout Europe are preparing for the start of their seasons. The days are getting shorter, men’s and women’s teams have reconvened for training, and pucks have already dropped.
Preseason games have already begun in Finland for SM Liiga. Thursday night, SaiPa beat Vassan Sport 3-1, while Friday evening saw nine split squad matches being played.
The top European leagues will start playing regular season hockey on September 1st. That would be the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia, with SM Liiga firing up its regular season on September 12th and the Swedish SHL the next night.
It means Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin, depending on the length of his Swedish holiday, might be able to not only talk hockey in Sweden if he’s still there, but actually catch some action.
One department never gets to rest: scouting. Five weeks after the NHL Draft, scouting staffs from around the league convened in Plymouth, Michigan for the World Junior Summer Showcase, with the Swedish, Finnish, and two American squads all finishing 2-and-2, in Slovakia and Czechia for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup won by Team Canada, and now for the Five Nations Cup in Czechia for the Under-17 group.
The Canucks Pacific Division rival San Jose Sharks finally moved defenceman Erik Karlsson, weeks after he made it quite clear he wanted to move on. Karlsson is now a Penguin.
At age-33 the clock is ticking on an opportunity for the reigning Norris Trophy winner to win a Stanley Cup. Whether that happens in Pittsburgh remains to be seen, but the intangibles are leaning against him.
Geno Malkin turned 37 last week while Sidney Crosby turns 36 on Monday. It’s the oldest club age-wise in the NHL and it has leading goal scorer from last season Jake Guentzel out of the line-up for at least the first month of the campaign following ankle surgery.
New GM and President of Hockey Operations Kyle Dubas, who managed to fail upwards while leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs behind after not having his deal renewed, did clear some salary cap space with the multi-team transaction.
The Canucks play their first preseason game in 49 days on September 24th against the Calgary Flames and open the regular season in 66 days at home against the Edmonton Oilers.
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