NHL Trade Deadline looms with big names on the table

NHL Trade Deadline Looms with big names in play

NHL Trade Deadline Looms with big names in play

One of the most exciting and interesting days of the hockey season is nearly upon us. With just seven

days until the deadline, general managers all over the NHL are positioning themselves to deal a number

of assets before the deadline passes next Wednesday.

 

The trade deadline hasn’t been the firework filled affair that it was a few seasons back, when teams

would swap assets willingly, but rather a day of measured decisions that has been impacted by in-

season deals.

 

Thanks to Ray Shero’s brilliant maneuvering, the Penguins managed to add a trio of well-seasoned

veterans to a roster that was already teeming with talent. As a team expected to be a major buyer,

the Penguins haven’t disappointed. Even after acquiring Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray last

week, Shero managed to pull an 11th hour deal for Jarome Iginla to polish off a roster only found on the

memory of an Xbox or Playstation.

 

Things may shift significantly with Iginla off the market. Since the deadline’s biggest name has already

moved, there may only be ancillary trades made for most of the day next Wednesday. That isn’t to say

that there won’t be any shocking deals – there always is – but the expectations will certainly be lower

than they were before the Iginla deal went down.

 

If you’re holding out hope that this deadline will have some fireworks, pin your hopes to the fact that

the salary cap for next season is dropping and there will be teams looking to get out from under heavy

contracts. If a team is desperate enough, there might just be some big names moved.

 

Down at one Seymour H Knox III Plaza, Darcy Regier is likely working the phones on a handful of hockey

trades. Local media (and some national media) have wondered if Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller or even

Thomas Vanek could be on the block as the Sabres look to hit the reset button on their roster.

 

I, for one, think that Regier could find solid value for Pominville and Miller. However, he may be better

suited to shop that pair in the offseason as the league’s general managers have a better idea of how

they will settle into next year’s cap situation.

 

Maybe Regier will managed to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade that ships out one of the team’s

core leaders before the clock strikes midnight on the third. However, I expect to see at least three trades

come from the Sabres. Two will be to ship out potential rental players (see: Regehr and Leopold) while

the third will be a textbook hockey trade.

 

Regier made a brilliant move last year when he sent Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani to

Vancouver for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer. While Sulzer was a pleasant surprise, Hodgson has

blossomed into a dynamic scoring center. It was a trade that benefitted both organizations and went a

long way in addressing a primary need that the Sabres had. The same could be said of the deal he swung

to acquire Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. The Sabres gave up something, but also obtained pieces that can

be used now and in the future.

For a team in desperate need of a fresh start in a number of places, don’t be surprised to see Regier

swing a trade that not only improves the roster, but that you didn’t expect to see come through.

There are some names that keep cropping up in trade rumors, here are a few thoughts on each:

 

Ryane Clowe: Now that Iginla is off the market there isn’t necessarily one single pending UFA who could

be considered the gem of the deadline class. Clowe is one of those players that every team wants. He is

a gritty forward who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty while adding a significant offensive touch. Granted,

he has gone a long while without scoring a goal this season, but he still has the type of intangibles that

playoff teams value.

 

Reports point to Clowe’s pricetag as a first round pick and a prospect. That is an awful lot to pay for a

rental who hasn’t scored a goal yet this season. However, for teams who are desperate for depth on the

wing, Clowe will be an attractive option.

 

Robyn Regehr/Jordan Leopold: For those fans in Buffalo, this hits a little closer to home. Both

defensemen have playoff experience, are upcoming free agents and are playing for a team that has been

said to be selling on everyone. Regehr has been connected to a number of Western Conference teams,

namely the LA Kings while Leopold has also had his name crop up in a number of circles.

 

While many fans may scoff at the idea of Regehr or Leopold fetching any sort of return, remember

that Regier managed to snage a first round pick for Paul Gaustad last season. While neither of these

defensemen would be worth that much, don’t be surprised if they bring back more than many were

expecting.

 

Derek Roy: Here is a name that has only been mentioned recently as some reporters have indicated that

he and the Stars haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a new contract. Aside from the fact that

the Steve Ott trade would look that much better for the Sabres, Roy could certainly be worthwhile on

the trade market.

 

Roy does have some limited playoff experience and is a gifted playmaker. He is also an adept faceoff

man who can kill penalties if need be. He is a valuable asset and could certainly fetch an impressive

price tag if the right team came calling. Considering that the Blackhawks and Kings missed out on Iginla, I

could see them kicking the tires on Roy.

 

Valterri Filppula: Filppula is one player who I don’t expect to get moved. While he is a pending free

agent, the Wings will likely look to keep him on board for this season’s playoffs and for the long-term as

they will soon see some of their world-class mainstays skate into retirement.

 

While Filppula would be a tremendous asset for any team to add, I’d also expect the asking price to be

high. One scenario I could envision would be a team looking to rebuild offered a number of pieces to the

Wings in exchange for Filppula (with the hope of re-signing him) and picks. While it might be unlikely,

that’s probably the only way he is moved.

 

Even if Iginla is the only name on this list who is traded next week, it will mark the biggest name moved

at the deadline in a number of years. Just for that alone, this will be a fun deadline to keep track of.

Goalie Equipment Topic

CCM GP500 Goalie Pads

CCM GP500 Goalie Pads

With some interesting topics being discussed at the GM meeting (coach’s challenge) there have also been a number of no brainer topics floated by the league’s general managers. One in particular, goalie equipment, is something they should seriously consider.

Based on reports, adjusting the size of goaltending equipment appears to be the second most likely topic to move forward beyond cocktail napkins and off-hand conversations. Compared to the debate over grandfathering visors, the rules behind adjusting goalie equipment would be more difficult to fight.

Although there isn’t much room for sweeping change, I think adjustments to what goaltenders can wear could be made. More importantly, these changes can be made without sacrificing the safety of those in net.

After the last lockout, goaltender’s pads were reduced from 12 to 11 inches in length to go along with restrictions to the size of the glove and blocker. Additional restrictions cover internal portions of the pads (knee and calf wings) along with chest protectors. One recent development with chest protectors addressed the build of certain units. The rule states that the chest guard must be anatomically proportional to the goaltender wearing it.

Anatomical restrictions are where I think the league has some room to work when considering new rules to enact.

As it stands now, the league has a rule that stipulates a Limiting Distance Size for each goaltender based on specific measurements that determine the size of goal pads. This requirement ultimately determines the specific height that determines what size pad a goaltender can wear. This basically prevents goaltenders from wearing the largest pad manufactured to maximize blocking area.

While you can’t get much more anatomically correct than that, the rule doesn’t necessarily prevent goaltenders from adding length to the top of their pads. Ironically that is the specific area Kay Whitmore said they could target.

Not all humans are made equal. One 6’1” individual may be top tall and have shorter legs than another person of the same height. Because of this, different goalies wear different sized pads. For example, I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 6’ and 6’1” and I fit quite well into a 36 inch pad.

Specifically, the pads I wear now are 36+2 – an extra two inches on the standard thigh rise – and they fit quite well. However, that actually makes my pad 38 inches in total. If I tried to wear a traditional 38 inch pad I would swim in it. However, the advent of the thigh rise extension allows my pad to fit me perfectly while still offering the coverage of a longer piece of equipment.

Without getting into the tangled history of goal pad design, the thigh rise extension began picking up steam in the professional and retail world about seven or eight years ago. Adding length to the thigh rise of a pad adds additional five-hole coverage without affecting the overall performance of the goaltender. If the NHL were to limit the size of a goaltender’s thigh rise, I think you would see a number of goalies with significantly different equipment next season.

A couple of goalies who immediately come to mind are Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury. Both are phenomenal goaltenders who also happen to use a fairly significant thigh rise on their pads. While the rise they use on their respective Bauer and Reebok pads wouldn’t completely disappear, it could be limited by a new rule. This wouldn’t affect how their pads fit in anyway, it would only alter the amount of net the pads cover when each goaltender is in the butterfly.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that either would see their play altered by this change, but if they were reliant on the coverage provided by the thigh rise on their pad, there could be a slight adjustment period.

Luckily this isn’t a change that will be felt by amateurs playing travel or in local adult leagues. Unlike the sweeping change to 11 inch wide pads, there will be little change (if any) to the pads you will be purchasing. Retail models of pads would never be affected by such a rule (even if it is reflected in lower levels) which means that the only difference you will see is from the masked men you watch each night in the NHL.

What needs to be determined is if this will actually result in any sort of change in goals scored. I doubt there will end up being any sort of significant change. There will be a few more pucks that find a way through the five hole, but ultimately you’re still talking about the exact same butterfly goalie getting his pads on the ice.

Ultimately I very much doubt that this change would bring about a change in goal scoring, which would be the prime motivation for enacting such a rule. However, when you talk about providing goalies with even a little less room to stop the puck, some change could come about.

Easton Mako protective line reinforces Easton as a trendsetter

Easton Mako Shoulder Pads

Easton Mako Shoulder Pad

Easton Mako protective line reinforces Easton as a trendsetter

Easton entered 2013 fresh off a year in which the Stealth RS and Mako sticks made a big splash on the hockey world.

In terms of aesthetics alone, the Mako and Stealth’s clean look were monster hits with hockey players everywhere. The weight and performance of each stick brought them to the top of the heap when comparing the products that hit the market in 2012.

Easton’s prowess in stick making is well documented, going all the way back to the Synergy. In addition previous skate and glove lines have maintained impressive staying power in the hockey world. This year, the foremost leader in stick technology has taken a new and aggressive approach with their protetive equipment.

Brand new lines that bear the Stealth and Mako names are to be released and they both bring a new wrinkle to what options players have to wear underneath their uniform.

Both the Stealth and Mako lines feature a design rooted in maintaining a full range of motion for the wearer. The shoulder pads in particular focus on this with Easton’s Segmented FRM. However, that is where most of the comparisons will end.

While the elbow pads and pants for both lines share nearly identical traits, the shoulder pads and shin guards differ in many ways. The true variance is with the Mako line which has brought forth a number of new features and benefits as the Stealth protective gear is far more traditional in terms of features and design.

The new Mako shoulder pads is designed to provide an equally protective pad while utilizing lightweight and free moving design. This is accomplished with the new Conic Body Fit design feature which uses an asymmetric, cross-body closure and corresponding straps that adjust the entire unit.

The Conic Body Fit allows for almost an unobstructed range of motion for the player with a design that hinges around your back as opposed to over your shoulders. In addition to hinging in the back, the unit is built more like a shirt and less like a shawl (for lack of a better term). These two features minimizes the typical restrictions in twisting and rotating that a traditional shoulder pad – one that drapes you’re your shoulders – would have.

By providing a shoulder pad that fits and reacts in unison with your body, Easton is improving upon a method of maximizing protection (which this unit does) without limiting mobility.

The same type of features are found in the new Mako shin pad. Easton spent a great deal of time redeveloping the knee system in the pad in order to focus the center of gravity on that location while improving on the anatomical support.

In the same way that the Conic Body Fit system is designed to react to your upper body’s natural movement, the new anatomic knee on the shin guard is designed to move in unison with the natural bend of your knee.

Easton’s three-piece design incorporates a stiff, thick primary shin guard that covers an injected calf wrap which provides flexible wrap-around protection for the wearer.

What is particularly impressive about the Mako line is that a majority of the design features can be found with every model. This is not a protective line that leaves out features as you hit certain price points. While weight and performance will be limited when comparing the M3 to the Mako, the Conic Body Fit and other features aren’t ignored.

This – along with the Stealth – is an impressive line that shouldn’t be ignored the next time you’re at Great Skate shopping for protective equipment.

Warrior Dynasty AX1 Composite Hockey Stick

Warrior Dynasty AX1 Composite Hockey Stick

Warrior Dynasty AX1 Composite Hockey Stick

On the Ice: Warrior Dynasty AX1

On The Ice will be a recurring series that will focus on the on-ice performance of new equipment. I will take you through my thoughts and impressions of this equipment from taking it “out of the box” and after the first few ice times of use.

Warrior’s newest stick to hit the market is the Dynasty AX1. The Dynasty line actually features five different models at varying price points (AX1 through AX5) with the AX1 serving as the top professional model used by professionals and other top talents.

The Dynasty line is the first to feature Warrior’s new, groundbreaking AXYSYM technology in a stick. This system focuses high-compression fibers on the back and bottom of their sticks in order to increase the benefits of the stick’s flex. Combining with the natural flex and kick of the stick, the AXYSYM fibers stretch and compress as you shoot and are designed to put more power behind each shot.

The AX1 also utilizes the countless blade innovations that Warrior has created. The Aramid Sole and Carbonized finish add ridged strength to vital portions of the blade to ensure longevity and performance for the user. Warrior’s Twin Spar support system provides additional internal structure to the blade to resist bending while the Hardcore X maintains overall strength while reducing weight.

While the entire Dynasty line is designed with a mid kickpoint, the AX1 features a number of other features that aren’t found in each and every model. The AX1 is built with a high fusion point that moves the primary fusion point away from the blade and further up the shaft of the stick. In addition, Warrior has introduced the Strong Arm reinforcement that adds additional structure on the lower portion of the shaft.

As someone who has lost a majority of my sticks to breaks at or near the fuse point at the bottom of the shaft, I can say the HiFused and Strong Arm features are a welcome addition. Both aren’t noticeable the first time you pull a stick off the rack but one your stick starts taking the beating it incurs on a game-to-game basis.

Out of the Box

The first “out of the box” impression this stick makes is with the eye test. The AX1 has a sleek black and sliver finish that has a very professional look with a clear, uncluttered design. The basic design is amplified by the Slick Grip and Velvet Touch finish that my particular twig has. This finish is a two-fold feature that is the exact opposite of the typical grip finishes you get with other manufaturers.

What really stands out is the Velvet Touch. Quite literally the stick feels like velvet in your hands. An almost grimy feel at first, after you adjust the Velvet Touch is not only appealing but preferable –this is coming from a guy who likes a traditional grip finish, too. The velvet touch isn’t as noticeable with gloves on but the overall feel was solid when I did some stickhandling with gloves on.

Other immediate impressions that I found were with the mid kickpoint and the weight of the stick. I have previously used the Stealth RS, Total One, S19 and other extremely light one-piece sticks and this is right up there in terms of weight. The balance is also impressive as it maintained the same feel with tape as it did before I cut it down. Credit that to the HiFused fuse point and the mid kickpoint keeping the center of gravity in the center of the shaft.

My particular model is a 85 flex Zetterberg pattern. It is a nice mid curve with a slightly open toe and rounded toe. It’s the type of curve I prefer, but as you’re well aware, picking a curve and flex is up to the player and what they’re comfortable with.

Bottom Line: This is one of those sticks that makes you want to pull three off the rack, tape them up and hit the ice. It looks great and feels phenomenal the first time you hold it. The AX2 has a number of the features found on the AX1 at a slightly lower price point while the AX3, AX4 and AX5 models are all great sticks that offer terrific value while. However, the AX1 is truly the gem of the Dynasty line and it shows that at every turn.

On the Ice

An unfortunate scheduling situation forced me to wait nearly 14 full days before getting this stick on the ice. It was well worth the wait, in the end.

The first thing you notice about the stick is the Velvet Grip. Just like when pulling it off the rack, the Velvet Grip feels interesting when wearing your gloves. Personally I thought it was nothing short of perfect. It provides a tacky finish but isn’t even close to what a traditional grip finish feels like. A good way to describe it would be to say that it provides friction but not grip when you’re playing.

My biggest adjustment to the twig wasn’t the grip nor the incredible balance, but the blade. The past few sticks I’ve used have had a far thicker blade than the Dynasty and the feel for the puck with this blade was much different than the pro stock Total One I had been using previously. This isn’t necessarily a detraction so much as something I’ll need to adjust to.

All of the technology that Warrior poured into the blade is evident when you’re stickhandling, passing and shooting. The Twin Spar and Hardcore X features do their job well in allowing Warrior to pare down the profile of the blade while maintaining strength and rigidity. I noticed that my passing – particularly on the backhand – was much more crisp and my control of the puck was equally improved. Firing shots is where the thin blade threw me off as I spent most of the warm up adjusting to the feel of shooting with the stick.

Once the game started I was able to settle in and play my game. Shooting still wasn’t fully comfortable, but I was able to get off two acceptable attempts on net. My passing was great though. Aside from one that rolled off my blade, I saw marked improvement in moving the puck that I’m confident will translate to shooting the puck after another ice time or two.

This stick gets full marks from me. Any new piece of equipment comes with an adjustment period and sticks are no different. This is an incredibly light, responsive twig that feels great when you take it off the rack and once you get it on the ice. Four-and-a-half out of five stars for me.

Get in to win a free pair of Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skates

Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skate

Get in to win a free pair of Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skates

The clean lines and styling of the Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skate are features that have made this one of the most popular skates models in all levels of hockey. Now Easton and Great Skate have teamed up for a contest to award one lucky player a brand new pair of Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skates.

In order to enter the contest, go to the Great Skate Facebook page, like us and enter your information for the contest.

In a world of stiff boots that lack anatomical characteristics and restrict movement, we believe in a new sense of freedom, performance and the Art of Speed by creating a skate that optimizes natural movement.

The push direction Asymmetrical patterns allow the skates to fall in line with direction of travel to generate speed and power through cornering. This not only looks great but keeps the skate performance high.

As mentioned, the fit of these skates gives a full range of motion to the foot, ultimately maximizing the Art of Speed and natural movements. Easton took the time to alter the skate this season in hopes of increasing the range of motion for a player while also maintaining the comfort and protection that has been an hallmark of these skates for sometime.

You can come into Great Skate and try on a pair and feel the difference for yourself.

The Great Visor Debate

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York RangersMuch like Kevlar socks were thrust into the forefront of the hockey media firestorm a couple of weeks ago, Marc Staal’s eye injury on March 5 has brought up the debate over visors and eye protection in the NHL.

Eye and face protection at every level of hockey is an interesting topic. There were whispers last year that the NCAA would join major junior hockey leagues and the professional ranks in allowing players to wear visors, but no official word has come down at this time.

At this point in time, all youth levels of hockey require players to wear a full shield or cage and that is a rule that will likely never change. Each major manufacturer offers a number of different options in terms of full shields and cages for players of all ages to wear.

Where the debate over facial protection lives is beyond the collegiate ranks. From local adult leagues to junior and professional hockey, players have a choice as to what they can wear on their helmets. Most professional leagues, outside of the NHL, require players to wear visors – a rule that trickles down to junior hockey as well.

However, Marc Staal’s injury has people wondering if the NHL may find a way to mandate visors once again. Staal joined a list with Bryan Berard, Chris Pronger and Manny Malhotra of players who suffered significant eye injuries on the ice. While the most recent prognosis was that Staal would recover, players like Pronger and Berard were never the same after suffering their injuries.

The big issue for the NHL is the push back that the NHLPA has for mandating all players to wear visors. While there are fewer players coming up who choose not to wear some form of protection, there are still some. Yet, it would appear the NHL will need to find a solution to this issue soon.

The AHL has had mandatory visors for a few years now and I think that wasn’t only a wise move but a necessary one. Advancements in training and equipment has made hockey a faster sport each and every year. Players are playing the game with more speed and strength and that is reflected in the skill of professionals but also in injuries. Providing players with a little bit more protection for their eyes and face was a relatively small step considering that visors aren’t even close to being a catch all for preventing injuries.

However, the NHL is a different situation than the AHL. Blame it on egos, pay grade or tradition, but there is a significant difference in passing new rules in the NHL as compared to the AHL.

What the NHL will likely need to do is the same thing they did with helmets. By instituting a grandfather clause to a rule that mandates visors, current players who do not wear them will not be subjected to being forced to use something they dislike.

The exact wording of this rule would be left to those in charge but it would simply need to target a specific date as a cut off for those who would be exempt. For example, if it was instituted for the 2013-14 season, any player who played an NHL game prior to the 13-14 season would still have the choice to wear a visor. In this case any player who dressed during this season or earlier would retain the right to make a choice on a visor. Any player dressing from next season on wouldn’t.

This seems like the simple solution and one that would eliminate the anger that would otherwise be created with the players if a concrete rule was put in place on wearing visors.

What differs in terms of upper levels of the game and what is see in local adult leagues is the fact that players, like myself, have to go to work the next day. While missing teeth has been a staple of professional hockey for years, it is not a staple in the office. Considering that, getting eye protection – as is being debated for the NHL – isn’t the only thing to worry about.

I have an Oakley Straight Small visor that I absolutely love. It is a pro return model I obtained from the Buffalo Sabres and I cannot express how great it is to wear on the ice. However, I barely ever use it because I simply can’t trust that I won’t catch a stick or puck in the face.

While the visor provides great eye protection, there is little that a mouth guard will do if an errant stick or puck made contact with my face. One specific example came a few years ago in an adult league game. An opponent took a wild swipe that caused the puck to hit me in the mouth. My mouth guard provided enough protection that all of my teeth remained intact, but I still split my lip open and spent a week or two with a cut, swollen lip thanks to the play.

What needs to be understood when considering if you want to wear a full cage, a visor or even go without either is what is happening around you. The actions of your opponents cannot be controlled and a freak deflection, a player catching a rut and falling or an errant stick are events that are always unexpected. Those unexpected events are the ones that will cause injuries.

I personally use a CCM cage. It is comfortable and it still provides a relatively unobstructed view of the game. While I certainly feel that a visor provides vital vision protection, I can’t get past the fact that I have very little control over what may strike the lower portion of my face at any given time.

Ultimately I prefer to wear a visor, but the safety of a cage is what I’ll always settle on.

Rolston’s adjustment period has brought results

February 20 brought a swift end to an era that lasted the better part of two decades in the Buffalo hockey community. The Buffalo Sabres relieved Lindy Ruff of his duties as head coach and named Ron Rolston as his successor.

A great many Sabres fans were up in arms after the Sabres put forth two listless efforts in the immediate aftermath of Ruff’s firing. In fact many were quick to point out that Ruff obviously wasn’t the problem as the same ugly issues – power play, pentalty kill, defensive zone coverage etc. – continued in the first two games of Rolston’s tenure behind the bench.

However, Rolston has managed to start making some noticeable changes with the roster and on-ice results from a team that had sunk to the bottom of the NHL’s Eastern Conference. It was my belief that Rolston would need a short acclimation period to install some of the systems he hoped to run with the team and having two morning skates and one practice day between the eventual losses to Toronto and the Islanders simply wasn’t enough.

The Florida road trip was the set of games that I felt would be the first to reflect Rolston’s impact and the two victories did just that.

While many defensive zone woes persisted, Buffalo’s special teams (really just the penalty kill) were improved and the team did something totally shocking, they won both games.

On the strength of two impressive outings from Ryan Miller, the Sabres pieced together a pair of wins in the Sunshine State. For me, the most noticeable change came on the penalty kill. After a number of games in which Buffalo’s penalty kill unit was particularly ineffective, Rolston’s changes appeared to simplify a number of things within the system.

Under Ruff, the Sabres ran a rotation that looked more like a triangle-plus-one as opposed to a traditional box. The system saw the puck-side forward continue to pressure the puck as it was moved across the zone (think of it as passing across an umbrella power play) rather than passing off the pressure to the other forward.

Meanwhile, the other forward would sink into the alternate passing lane to prevent a cross-zone return pass for a one-timer. However, this rotation wasn’t just faulty, it was downright us

eless at times. Perhaps the best example came against Toronto on February 21 when Dion Phaneuf was given a wide-open look on a one-timer goal on a Leafs power play.

Rolston appears to have the team running a more traditional box set up that keeps the puck-side pressure to whichever forward is on that side of the ice. It is causing far less chasing a preventing many chances.

It also appears that Rolston’s line shuffling has managed to keep the ever potent Hodgson/Vanek/Pominville trio together while also finding some magic with Ennis/Gerbe/Ott as a “second line”.

Rolston’s bread and butter has been player development. The reason he was so successful with the USNTDP was because of his ability to connect wit

h young players. This is also what made him such an attractive option to coach in Rochester last season. What I’m hopeful for is that skillset to translate with players like Tyler Myers, Marcus Foligno, Tyler Ennis and Mikhail Grigorenko. If Rolston is able to speed Grigorenko’s development and aid in Myers finding confidence (which appears to be slowly returning); he may have a marked impact on the team as the interim bench boss.

Buffalo’s shootout loss to the Rangers on Sunday marked the fourth-straight game in which they registered a point. The seven out of eight stretch has helped the team remaining within a sniff of the playoffs. That may discourage those fans hoping to see ownership clean house and strip the roster. But perhaps Rolston’s arrival will prove to show the Sabres are a little closer to average than the basement after all.

Now the organization just needs to make the necessary moves to bring the team to the elite level Terry Pegula has hoped to see them at all along.

Kevlar socks gaining popularity after recent injuries

Easton Protective Skate Sock

Easton Protective Skate Sock

Ottawa Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson’s recent injury has made plenty of headlines. Both in Canada’s capital and around the hockey world fans, players and coaches aren’t just discussing the play that injured the defending Norris Trophy winner but they’re discussing ways to prevent future incidents.

Karlsson’s achilles tendon was cut when Matt Cooke’s left skate came down on an exposed portion of Karlsson’s leg in a collision along the boards. In what was little more than a body check gone wrong, the skate found its way past Karlsson’s padding and registered a serious cut. Now, just a few weeks later, the Winnipeg Jets are dealing with an equally scary situation as Zach Redmond suffered a similar, scary cut that sent him to the hospital.

The question is how can I ensure that I stay safe during a game?

Ensuring safety from sticks, pucks and skates is the primary focus of all traditional protective equipment, of course there are holes in the armor. Depending on what type of equipment you wear there will be gaps in protection around your wrists, neck and ankles. Goaltenders can wear collar-style neck guards to keep their neck safe and now players have an option for their wrists and ankles too.

A number of players around the NHL have been wearing Kevlar reinforced socks and the number of users has spiked lately due to the two recent injuries. In fact, Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee brought an entire case of the socks for his players to try out.

There are a few different forms and styles of the socks (and similar wrist guards) currently on the market. There are also talks of game socks sharing the same design features but there are still issues with the performance of those socks.

In addition to coming in various lengths – some go right up to the knee cap – there are a number of other features in these socks that are important to take into account. The Easton protective socks carried by Great Skate have an impressive amount of protection right where it matters, around the ankle where your tendons are at the most risk. These also have the look and feel of a traditional sock in the foot area, ensuring maximum comfort.

The socks ensure that your achilles and other tendons that can be exposed between the top of your skate and bottom of your shin guards will remain protected. The taller models also provide coverage up your calf – an area that remains uncovered by shin guards.

For some players the biggest adjustment is ensuring that they aren’t bothered by the fit or feel of the reinforced socks. Luckily most models – Easton’s to be specific – fit in a similar manner to any long skate sock you may already be wearing.

The only true adjustment will be the slight added weight that accompanies the new product. Aside from that minor adjustment there is little to worry about when adding this to your game. And when you consider the safety these provide, there is no reason not to deal with how they feel during first few practices you wear them.