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Vallorani earns himself a contract


Vallorani earns himself a contract

Even from an untrained eye, one of the most noticeable players at the Capitals development camp last week was center David Vallorani.

The 5-foot-8, 181-pound center from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell was involved in nearly every goal in every scrimmage and on Monday the 22-year-old native of Hamilton, Ontario was rewarded with his first pro contract.

Vallorani and defenseman Scott Wietecha each signed contracts with the AHL Hershey Bears for the 2012-13 season, according to Bears president and general manager Doug Yingst.

Vallorani went undrafted four years ago, but recorded 10 goals and 19 assists in 38 games in his senior season for UMass-Lowell. In four years there he played every game and piled up 114 points 40 goals, 74 assists in 149 games. He graduated in May with a degree in business.

Because of his size, creativity and lack of interest from NHL teams, Vallorani has drawn comparisons to Lightning forward Marty St. Louis.

He doesnt look like a kid who lacks confidence, Capitals coach Adam Oates said. Hes a highly skilled player. It took Marty St. Louis a long time to make it to the NHL. He had to go to the minors and fight all the naysayers to earn his way. So it can happen.

Vallorani is more than willing to go that route, saying he simply wants a chance to continue his career as a hockey player.

St. Louis is definitely someone I look up to, he said. Hes a smaller player in the NHL and hes one of the best players in the NHL, so I model my game after him.

Vallorani has the ability to draw opposing players to him, then snap a pass to a linemate. Last week he centered a line with Riley Barber and Matt Bailey and the trio was one of the best lines in camp.

I try to do all the little things right, Vallorani said. Im a playmaker and I like to distribute the puck and create space for my linemates. I want to play at the highest level I can play. I just want an opportunity to show what I can do.

On Monday, Vallorani was given that chance.

Wietecha, 24, broke into the professional ranks in 2011, playing six games with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL. He spent all of last season with the ECHLs Chicago Express, posting 27 points 14 goals, 13 assists in 54 games.

The 6-1, 201-pound native of Wolverine Lake, Mich., Wietecha played four years at Ferris State University prior to turning pro. In 126 games, Wietecha recorded 51 points 12 goals, 39 assists and a plus-16 rating.

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams


The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

On Monday morning, just a week shy of the official start to the 2018-19 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers triumphantly announced their new mascot and, full disclosure, it’s terrifying.

Meet Gritty.

The furry orange abomination is a cross between fabled Canadiens' (and Expos) mascot Youppi, The Muppet Show’s Animal, and something that would probably murder you in your sleep.

He’s named Gritty, because, according to the Flyers’ official webpage, is supposed to reflect the strength, tenacity, and raw passion of the team and their fanbase.

His portly figure and bouncy, gyrating hips are not the problem. In fact, watching him move is kind of delightful.

No, the real problem here is his eyes. Those oddly realistic googly eyes,  following his every movement and hip circle ike a car accident you just can’t look away from. His mouth, always agape, is the icing on the nightmare fuel cake..

Hockey fans online went into a tizzy after the reveal. Monday's primary activity was to lay into the Flyers' new mascot with heavy heat.

Despite their divisional rivalry, the Caps’ own loveable eagle Slapshot welcomed Gritty to the family in a very diplomatic manner. 

Other teams in the Metropolitan division, namely the Pittsburgh Penguins however, were not so kind.

According to his official bio, “recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed [Gritty’s] secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time.” We think this is supposed to be charming and mysterious in the same way that everyone describes Bigfoot, but it mostly works at convincing us to head for the hills. 

You can also book him for event appearances. We’d recommend him as a supportive presence at divorce hearings, or as the featured guest at your horrible cousin’s wedding.

It’s worth noting that other Metropolitan teams are not without mascot sins. In 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a NSFW cannon named Boomer, who barely survived half a season before being retired. 

Thankfully, Caps fans only have to handle Slapshot's themed costumes for special events this season.

Philly, we’re happy for you, but you can keep Gritty within city limits.


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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

NBC Sports Washington

It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

You may think the odds are against Alex Ovechkin winning yet another Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Ovechkin turned 33 on Sept. 17 and since the trophy was first introduced in the 1998-99 season, only one player over the age of 30 has ever won it.

That player was Ovechkin. He’s done it twice.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how dominant a scorer Alex Ovechkin has been through his career. Only three times has a player reached the 50-goal plateau in the past five seasons. Those players are Ovechkin (50 goals in 2015-16), Ovechkin (53 goals in 2014-15) and Ovechkin (51 goals in 2013-14).

Normally, it would be crazy to think a player over 30 could lead the league in goals. It would be crazy to think a player over 30 could score 50.

Ovechkin -- who has led the league in goals in five of the past six seasons -- is anything but normal.

After winning his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season and showing no signs of fatigue or decline in a dominant Stanley Cup championship run that won him a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, it’s not crazy to think he can do it again at age 33.

Maybe his 50 goal days are behind him. But even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he should still be in contention considering no one else in the league has scored 50 goals since the 2010-11 season when Corey Perry netted 50. Forty-nine goals was all it took last season for Ovechkin to lead the league.

With a balanced line of Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle and Tom Wilson on the wing and a still dominant power play that will continue to be coached by Todd Reirden and Blaine Forsythe, Ovechkin will be able to light the lamp and will absolutely be in contention to lead the league in goals yet again.