The KHL sees your Las Vegas and raises you a London. Just weeks after officially making China the eighth country with a KHL team, the league could possibly be adding a ninth by expanding to England.
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The fact that this comes so quickly after the NHL made its expansion to Las Vegas official is most likely not a coincidence. Competition between the two leagues has grown in recent years as Russia hopes to keep its star players in its own league and prevent them from going to North America. That has been a growing issue in Russia of late with even Slava Fetisov, who famously made the jump to the NHL himself in 1989, saying the KHL should block Russian players from leaving.
Why is London significant? Because if the NHL ever chose to become more global by expanding overseas, England would be a likely candidate. The NFL plays regular season games in England every year now and has long been rumored to want to add an expansion team there. Doing so would further expose that country to American sports and possibly pave the way for other leagues, like the NHL, to also expand there.
But now the KHL has beaten them to the punch.
It will be very interesting to see if London has the market to support a KHL team. There is currently a hockey league in the United Kingdom, the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), but it does not a feature a team in London. The London Racers was the last professional hockey team based in the city and it suspended operations in the 2005-06 season due to a lack of facilities.
A KHL team would bring more talented players to London and better competition against other KHL teams, but will that be enough? Perhaps the city and the country will rally around its lone KHL team with a sense of nationalist pride as they face teams from Eastern Europe and Asia, or perhaps a game against a team from Chelyabinsk will fail to generate the same amount of interest as a game against a team from Manchester would.
Whatever may happen, you can bet the NHL will be watching very carefully.
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Guys, we need to talk about Connor McMichael.
First off, he had another ridiculous week:
- On Thursday, Nov. 7 he scored a goal for Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Series in a 4-1 win for the OHL.
- On Friday, Nov. 8 he scored one goal and three assists in a 4-3 win for London over North Bay. He was named the first star of the game.
- On Saturday, Nov. 9 he scored one goal and two assists in a 4-2 win for London over Owen Sound. He was again named the first star of the game.
- On Monday, Nov. 11 he scored a goal in the OHL's second game in the Canada-Russia Series, this time in a losing effort to Russia.
What we really need to talk about is how absurdly McMichael is dominating the OHL. He currently leads the league in points with 41. Arthur Kaliyev and Quinton Byfield are right behind him at 39 points, but both players have played in 21 games. McMichael has played in just 16. Of those 16 games, he has been held off the scoresheet in only one of them. He has registered 19 goals and 22 assists. In 2006-07, Patrick Kane recorded an incredible 62-goal, 145-point season. Through the first 16 games of that season, per The London Free Press, Kane had scored five fewer goals and had seven fewer points.
That's right, McMichael has compiled 41 points in just 16 games. That is a rate of 2.56 points per game. According to McKeen Hockey, that is the second-highest rate of points per game in the OHL among U19 players of all-time, second only to Eric Lindros.
It is still early in the season and that is one heck of a pace he's producing at, but we could be looking at a very special season for him. That of course begs the question, just how good could this guy be in the NHL?
Other prospect notes
- Aliaksei Protas sits tied for the WHL lead in points with 30. Earlier in the week he was in sole possession of the league lead meaning that Caps prospects were simultaneously leading both the OHL and WHL in points.
- Riley Sutter was officially reassigned to Hershey over the week. Because he was injured before the season, he was still technically with the Caps on non-roster season-opening injured reserve. He had been sent to Hershey several weeks ago along with Kody Clark to continue training there, but could not officially be sent to the AHL until he was medically cleared.
- Nova Caps spoke with Martin Fehervary about his first season in North America. “The hockey in Sweden compared to North America, the style is very similar," he said. "It’s fast hockey, they skate really well so its fast hockey. It’s kind of the same, I would say here it’s a little bit faster but the adjustment was kind of easy so far.” You can read the full article here.
- Pheonix Copley accomplished a rare feat on Wednesday as he recorded a shutout in a loss. Hershey lost 1-0 in a shootout to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Copley saved all 29 shots he faced in the game to record the shutout, but the Bears ultimately lost in the shootout so he collected the "L" as well.
- Mitchell Gibson made his collegiate debut on Friday for Harvard. He started against Princeton and stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout win. He was given the start again on the following day against Quinnipiac and again had a strong showing with 32 saves on 34 shots in the 7-2 win.
- Mike Sgarbossa had one of the highlights of the week with his shootout goal against Lehigh Valley.
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They say D.C. is the new title town, and Washington's head coach Todd Reirden is looking to capitalize on that momentum by keeping that energy around his team the best way he knows how: hearing straight from the champs themselves.
On the Junkies, Reirden recounted bringing in Mystics' star forward Elena Delle Donne and Nationals' outfielder Adam Eaton, saying he invited them to remind the 2018 Stanley Cup champions "what it feels like [to win], have people that win championships and especially fellow athletes that are right in the D.C. area."
"I think that's something that kind of got the fire burning a little bit, and it has been burning, to be 100% truthful, since we lost last year," Reirden said.
The Capitals lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs that ended in double-overtime.
Washington sits atop the National Hockey League, leading everyone by at least five points -- Washington has 32 points through 20 games, while the second-place Islanders have 27 points through 17 games.
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