Here are some news and notes from around the NHL.
- The NHL Board of Governors are meeting Monday and Tuesday, December 9 & 10, in Pebble Beach, California. Some of items on the agenda include salary cap projections (it’s $81.5 M this season) for next season, and possibly the 2021-22 season, plus discussion around improving hockey culture which stems from the Bill Peters incidents and related player abuse type incidents reported around the league. The league wants input on how to improve hockey culture in the league and possibly introduce a code of conduct to be followed by all teams. The league has apparently been proactively talking to teams asking if there have been incidents of abuse by their coaches in the past as they want to get in front of the stories a bit. Former players have taken to social media to speak out about poor treatment from various coaches around the league. Also reported to be on the agenda for the Monday & Tuesday meetings is an update on Seattle’s progression, all indications point to them being on schedule to start their first season not next season but the 2021-22 season.
- The GM’s will reportedly again debate the skate in the air off-side rule at the March 2020 meetings. Currently a players skate must be on the ice to be considered on-side. Some notes from their GM meetings that were held in November 2019 include the minor penalty for failed coaches challenge has led to 32% decrease in coaches calling a challenge which requires video review and the average time for a game is 148 minutes which is the shortest time since the 2012-13 season. Success rate of coaches challenge is 58% up from 32% last season. There are also fewer stoppages in play and refs have to instructed to get the players to not freeze the puck which slows games down. In the first quarter of the season there were 1956 goals scored in 317 games, the highest number in the past 23 years.
- The league also recently announced the the GM of the Year award will be renamed the Jim Gregory Award. Gregory was Maple Leafs GM from 1969-79 and a hockey executive at the league office for 30 years. Gregory was also chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee from 1998-2014.
- The New Jersey Devils dismissed their head coach John Hynes last week. In 4.5 seasons behind the Devils bench, Hynes had a 150-159-45 record and the Devils made the post-season once, losing the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hynes was first hired by Ray Shero back in 2009 (when Shero was Pens GM) to be assistant coach of the Penguins AHL team under head coach Todd Reiden (current Washington Capitals head coach). Hynes became head coach of the Penguins AHL team in 2010 and was in that position for 5 seasons. One of Hynes assistants, from his time as the Devils head coach and his time in the AHL with the Penguins organization, Alain Nasreddine takes over as interim head coach. Peter Horachek will join the coaching staff (was a Devils pro scout) as an assistant with existing assistants Rick Kowalsky, Mike Grier and goaltending coach Roland Melanson. I read a few quotes from Nasreddine after he was appointed interim coach and he called it “bittersweet” – to get his first chance to coach at the NHL level was exciting adding he has a lot of respect for Hynes. Devils GM Shero said it’s a chance for Nasreddine to show what he can do with the team but the Devils will do a wide search for a permanent head coach. In Nasreddine’s first three games as interim head coach, the Devils are 0-2-1.
- Leafs Mike Babcock was, of course, fired in Toronto on November 20th. Babcock’s record in Toronto was 173 wins, 133 losses and 45 overtime losses. The Leafs missed the post-season in Babcock’s first season in Toronto, 2015-16, and then had two very successful regular season’s in 2017-18 with 49 regular season wins & 105 points followed by a 46 win & 100 point 2018-19 regular season. They lost three consecutive first round series’ (Washington once and Boston twice) under Babcock. Babcock’s assistant coaches including Paul McFarland, Dave Hakstol and Andrew Brewer all remain as part of Keefe’s staff. MSLE will be paying Babcock until 2023. He gets $5.875 M USD / season up to and including the 2022-23 season. Keefe’s contract was for 3 seasons so he’s being paid for one less season than Babcock.
- Bill Peters resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames and assistant coach Geoff Ward was given the Interim Head Coach title. The Flames are 5-0 under Ward. Ray Edwards, the team’s Director of Player Development since 2015, was added as an assistant coach and he will also remain the Director of Player Development. Edwards will view games from the press box and Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas will stay behind the bench. Ward seems like the odds on favorite to be the Flames permanent head coach but the organization may let this season play out first. Ward was an assistant coach with Boston for 7 seasons, where he won a Cup in 2011, plus three more with New Jersey. He joined the Flames before the start of last season as an assistant coach and he has been in consideration for NHL head coaching positions in the past few seasons.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Paul MacLean has joined head coach John Torterella’s staff as an assistant coach. MacLean will reportedly focus on the Blue Jackets PP. MacLean won the Jack Award Award back in 2013 as a member of the Ottawa Senators. Most recently, MacLean was an assistant coach for 2 seasons, 2015-2017, with the Anaheim Ducks.
- Devils forward Taylor Hall, a pending UFA, is reportedly interested in moving on from New Jersey and GM Ray Shero has started trade discussions with teams. Shero apparently does not have a specific want in terms of a return for Hall instead asking interested teams to pitch their offers. Shero isn’t, however, looking for a one for one player swap, like what brought Hall to New Jersey – Hall for Adam Larsson straight-up, but looking for possibly four or five players in return, some of which could be prospects or draft picks. It’s not clear if part of the deal would include discussions around a new contract for Hall but conditional draft picks could be negotiated to be contingent on Hall re-signing with the eventual team he is traded to. Hall’s agent is known for waiting until the off-season / June with his UFA’s since he believes the player gets the most money that way.
- New Jersey is currently in 30th place in a 31 team league and I don’t believe it’s what GM Shero had in mind this summer especially since he brought in defenseman PK Subban. It’s a bit of a step back season for the Devils but with the potential return on the Hall trade, a possible top 3 draft pick in 2020 (since the team is near the NHL basement in the standings) plus cornerstone pieces in first overall draft picks, Nico Hischier in 2018 and Jack Hughes in 2019, New Jersey has the players to form the core of a young and talented roster. The two teams most linked to Hall are Colorado and Arizona. The Devils are reportedly interested in Colorado’s prospect and WHL Vancouver Giants defenseman Bowen Byram who went 4th overall last June and has 115 points in 164 WHL games or .70 PPG.
- The Washington Capitals and forward Nicklas Backstrom have started contract discussions. Backstrom, 32, in the final season of a 10 year $67 M contract he signed with the Capitals back in May 2010. Backstrom is in his 13th NHL season, all with the Washington Capitals. He is a point a game player – in 918 career games he’s recorded 891 points. The player is acting as his own agent in the negotiations. GM Brian McLellan said the other day the organization wants to reach an agreement with the player but nothing is close to being signed.
- Doesn’t seem as though the St. Louis Blues are at all close to signing their captain, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who will be UFA this summer. I sense that the player wants to stay in St. Louis but he’s said to be seeking a Roman Josi type deal which is $9 M /season for 8 seasons. Similarly, the talk is the Bruins and defenseman Torey Krug are not close in their discussions for a new contract for the pending UFA. Krug has played his entire career with the Bruins and is a .63 points / game regular season player over his NHL career. He’s been strong in the post-season with 46 points in 62 post-season games. Krug has said he wants to re-sign in Boston and is willing to take less. No word on what the term or dollars are in the current contract discussions. It remains to be seen if the two players are moved by the February 24, 2020 trade deadline.
- Rangers forward Chris Kreider is expected to be traded by the Feb. 24, 2020 trade deadline. Kreider is off to a bit of a slow start with 7 goals and 7 assists after 29 games.
- Avs star forward Nathan MacKinnon recently told Forbes magazine he’s happy with his contract, signed in the summer of 2016, at $6.3 M /season for 7 seasons. Experts say the Avalanche are getting a deal with 90-100 point player at that salary number. Teammate Mikko Rantanen signed at the end of September for $9.25 M / season for 6 seasons. MacKinnon says he’s goal is to win a Stanley Cup in Colorado and if he has to take less to try and make that happen, he’s willing to.
- The December deadline for unsigned RFA’s passed without either of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka or Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi signing therefore they are ineligible to play in the league this season. It seems Honka was closer to being moved than Puljujarvi. Oilers GM Ken Holland said teams were calling on Puljujarvi, 21, but none were willing to provide the return value he wanted for a former 4th overall draft pick (2016). The forward has recorded 27 points on 12 goals in 27 games in the Finnish league this season. Puljujarvi was being linked to the New York Rangers.
- Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, 27, is a pending UFA that is thought to be coveted by teams. Pageau has 15 goals (a career high after just 29 Senators games) plus 6 assist for 21 points. Pageau was the first Senators player to score 11 goals in the month of November since Daniel Alfredsson scored 13 back in the 2005-06 season.
- Both Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic and TJ Brodie are UFA’s at the end of this season. The team started discussions with Hamonic on a new deal but they were unable to agree on terms and the player now wants to put off discussions until the off-season. It doesn’t seem as though Brodie will be back in Calgary next season as there have not contract discussions with him. Brodie collapsed at practice about 3 weeks ago but is back playing. He was put through a battery of tests to determine why he may have fainted but no issues were discovered.
- The NHLPA filed a grievance with the league on behalf of former Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglein who was suspended on September 21, 2019 for not reporting to training camp. The Jets are being quiet on the matter and apparently the NHL is in the middle of discussions with the NHLPA on the issue.
- Through 30 games, the Capitals are 21-4-5, setting a franchise record for most points (47) in their first 30 games of the season. The Capitals hold a 14-2-1 record on the road, the most road wins in the NHL.
- The Bruins lost their first home regulation time game of the season on Saturday against Colorado. Their home record is now 12-1-5. The Bruins have an impressive record of 20-4-6 on the season and are first in the Atlantic Division.
- Colorado has won 6 straight and are 11-3 in the past 14 games. Experts who watched them this season say they look like a Cup contender.
- The Flyers are 7-1-1 in this past nine games and only twice in their franchise history have they recorded more points after their first 30 games, 2011-12 (20-7-3) and 2010-11 (18-7-5). The Flyers also led the NHL in points in the month of November with 24 (10-2-4).
- Even with the Oilers terrific start and 18-10-4 record, Arizona just tied them to the Pacific Division lead (40 points).
- Minnesota is 10-3-3 in this recent 16 games. Eric Staal and Jason Zucker are tied for the team lead in points with 21 after 30 games. Goaltender Alex Stalock is having a good season for the Wild with a 8-4-2 record with a .906 SV% and a 2.91 GAA. He’s outplayed starter Devan Dubnyk this season.
- The Penguins are 8-3-3 since Sidney Crosby was sidelined with a sports hernia injury. Malkin has stepped up as first line center and has recorded 6 goals and 16 assists in 14 games.
- Oilers captain Connor McDavid is on pace for 132 points this season while teammate Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 135 points. Draisaitl and McDavid are the first two Oilers to reach the 50 point mark in under 30 games since Gretzky & Kurri back in the 1984-85 season.
- Bruins forward David Pastrnak has 25 goals in 30 games this season & on pace for a 68 goal season. His career high in goals is 38 which he recorded last season. Pastrnak is one of the most exciting players in the game and it’s just 23 years old. Only three other players all-time have scored 12+ goals in each of the first two months of the season, as Pastrnak has done. Gretzky did it twice, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy both so did so once.
- Carolina’s young Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov, drafted 2nd overall in 2018, is on pace for a break out second season. He lead the Hurricanes in points with 32 in 30 games and tracking towards an 87 point season. Svechnikov, 19, recorded 32 points in his rookie season.
- Sabres captain Jack Eichel has an active 13 game point streak going and has recorded 42 points after 31 games.
- Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson is on pace for 32 goals. Olofsson was a 7th round draft pick of the Sabres. He played last season in the AHL where he recorded 30 goals and 33 assists in 66 games.
- Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi already has 12 goals and 25 points on the season. His career high in goals is 14 and points 37. Donskoi was a good signing by Avs GM Joe Sakic. The deal was for 4 seasons at $3.9 M /season.
- Jets young star Patrik Laine already has 20 assists on the season matching his total from all of last season. His career high in assists is 28 back in his rookie season. The Jets wanted him to become more than just goal scorer and it seems he is doing that.
- NY Rangers forward Ryan Strome is on pace for a 73 point season. His career high is 50 back in 2014-15 season. Last season split between Edmonton and the NY Rangers he had 35 points.
- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became the 5th player in NHL history with 15 consecutive 20-goal season to begin his career, joining Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Jaromir Jagr, Mats Sundin. Ovechkin also recorded his 24th career hat trick passing Jari Kurri for the 10th most hat tricks in NHL history.
- Capitals 23 year old Czech forward Jakub Vrana has 15 goals in 31 games this season and on pace for a 40 goal season. His career high in goals is 24 which he recorded last season.
- Penguins forward Jake Guentzel is on pace for 44 goals and 85 points while missing his injured linemate Sidney Crosby. He leads the Penguins in points with 31 on 16 goals after 31 games. GM Jim Rutherford got Guentzel on a very good contract at $6 M /season for 5 seasons.
- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has rebounded from two trying seasons in New York and being bought out this summer by the Rangers. Shattenkirk is on pace for 64 points; he has 21 points already this season in 27 games played. Shattenkirk had 20 points in his first season with the Rangers and 28 points in his second. The Lightning signed him to a one year deal at $1.75 M before the start of the season. He’ll be a UFA this summer.
- Flames Czech goaltender David Rittich is having a solid season with a 13-7-0-4 record, a .914 SV% and a 2.69 GAA. Rittich leads the NHL in minutes played, saves made and he has faced the most shots of any NHL goaltender. The Flames signed him to a reasonable contract at $2.75 M/season for two seasons this summer. Fans are hoping Rittich can be the team’s goaltender for many more seasons as, since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013, the Flames haven’t had a solid #1.
- Canucks forward JT Miller is having career season. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. He is tracking at a 85 point season in his first season in Vancouver. His career high in point is 56 back in the 2016-17 season with the New York Rangers.
- Colorado forward Andre Burakovsky has 12 goals after just 26 Avs game this season which is the same number of goals he recorded in each of his past three seasons with Washington. Avs GM Joe Sakic acquired Burakovsky for a 2020 second and third round draft pick. Burakovsky is on a one year deal at $3.25 M. He’s be an RFA this summer.
- New Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri is doing well since being acquired from St. Louis on November 6th. In 14 games as a Red Wing Fabbri has recorded 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points. Fabbri is on a one year deal at $900,000 /season. He will be an RFA this summer.
- Experts say Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper is the leading candidate for the Vezina after 1/3 of the regular season games played. Kuemper has a 12-6-2 record with a 1.92 GAA. a .937 SV% & 2 shutouts.
- St. Louis Blues leading scorer, David Perron, is on pace for 77 point season. Doug Armstrong got him on a very reasonable 4 year deal for $4 M / season signed in the summer of 2018 when Perron was UFA.
- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is following up his strong 2018-19 season (92 points) with a strong early 2019-20 season. Through 29 Panthers games this season, Huberdeau has 36 points a 82 game regular season pace of 102 points. Huberdeau was drafted 3rd overall in 2011. Panthers GM Dale Tallan has the player on a good contract also, $5.9 M /season with this season and three more remaining.
- The team has a 5 W and 3 L record in the 8 games since Sheldon Keefe took over. More importantly, they’ve started games stronger having outscored their opponents 13-2 in the 1st period under Keefe.
- At the 30 game mark, the team had 13 wins & 32 points whereas last season they had 20 wins & 41 points. The team is currently 5 points out of a playoff position.
- Keefe changed the defensive pairings to Barrie & Rielly, Muzzin & Holl and Ceci and Dermott. Seems Tyson Barrie has benefited the most from the move to Keefe. Barrie has replaced Morgan Rielly on the Leafs first PP unit and Rielly moves to he second group. Barrie has 5 points in 8 games since the head coaching change,
- The team put forward Andreas Johnsson (6 goals & 10 assists) on long term injury reserve which means he’ll miss 10 games or 24 days but the team does get some needed cap relief which helped when they re-activated Mitch Marner. The team said Johnsson’s injury will be re-assessed after the Christmas break. The first game Johnsson is eligible to return is December 31st in Minnesota.
- Swede Pontus Aberg steps onto the top line with Matthews and Nylander to replace Johnsson. Aberg was the Marlies points leader with 23 in 22 AHL games. I read where Sheldon Keefe said they may move players around again onto different lines.
- Mitch Marner and Matthews are getting more ice time under Keefe. Marner is around 21 minutes /game under Keefe and Matthews is at 20 minutes under the new coach which is up about 2 minutes per game on average. The players say they like the increase.
- The team has still been unable to solve their games on back to back night’s – they are 0-6 in the second game of back to backs this season. Freddy Andersen played both games in the teams most recent back to back (against the Flyers and Colorado); it was the first time in 3 seasons he played both games on consecutive days. It seems as though they are willing to give goaltender Michael Hutchison another chance as it’s planned he’ll get a start when the team travels to Western Canada this week. Experts are saying if Hutchison can’t make the saves, they may need to move salary/a roster player to get a goaltender who can help Freddy get some rest. The Leafs next back to back is December 20 & 21.
- Seems new coach Sheldon Keefe was not high on Nick Shore, he played in just one of Keefe’s first 6 games as coach and Frederik Gauthier has been a healthy scratch already in a few games since Keefe took over. Shore was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets after he was placed on waivers last week. He recorded 2 goals and an assists in 21 Leafs games this season.
- William Nylander is on pace for a 60+ point season again plus he’s tracking towards 29 goals which would be a career high. Nylander already has had two 60+ point seasons in his career. Last season was not good for Nylander but he’s rebounded this season.
- Center Auston Matthews is on pace for 48 goal / 87 point season and he has not missed a game this season.
- Forth line forward Jason Spezza has 10 points in his past 12 games.
- The Marlies announced that Greg Moore has been hired as head coach replacing Keefe. Moore, 35, spent the past two seasons coaching the USHL Chicago Steel. Moore’s coaching record with the Steel was 52-25-5. Moore was a Calgary Flames draft pick, 5th round back in 2003, but played in just 10 NHL games. Moore is spending the next two weeks with Keefe and the Leafs coaching staff to learn about the organization. He officially starts with the Marlies on December 16.
- The Toronto Marlies have a 16 wins, 4 losses, 2 OTL’s and 1 shootout loss record this season so far. Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has a 9 W, 1 L and 1 tie record with a 2.18 GAA and a .925 SV%.
- The Leafs start a three game Western Canada road trip on Tuesday.
- Thursday in Calgary
- Saturday in Edmonton
- Montreal had lost 8 straight games (0-5-3) before winning on the road against the Islanders this past Tuesday. The organization hadn’t lost 8 straight since the 1939-40 season. The team has just 2 wins in their past 11 games. They are tied, though, with Leafs in points (32) with a game in hand. They waived back-up goaltender Keith Kinkaid and he cleared through waivers. He will now play with Montreal’s AHL team, the Laval Rocket. Goaltending prospect Cayden Primeau (7th round draft selection from 2017 and former NHL player Keith Primeau’s son) was called up and started in a game this past week against Colorado, a 3-2 loss where Primeau made 32 saves.
- The overall goal this season in Montreal is still getting into the post-season since they’ve missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Some of the positives in Montreal have been the play of forward Tomas Tatar, he leads the team in points with 25 points in 30 games. Captain Shea Weber has also had a strong season with 23 points after 30 games on 9 goals while averaging 24 minutes/game. Max Domi has seen his offensive production drop off after a 72 point season last season, he’s on pace for a 49 point campaign. Domi is a RFA this summer and needs a new contract. Additionally, Carey Price has apparently looked better in recent games but not having one of his better starts to the season, a .889 SV% and a 3.04 GAA. The team needs him to be their top player for them to have a chance at the post-season.
- The Lightning have been unable to find consistency in their game after a 128 point regular season last year and running away with the Presidents trophy. The team had 47 points and 23 wins this time last season and has 31 points on 14 wins this season. The Lighting are not scoring like they were last season with approx 20 less goals after 27 games season over season. Hart trophy winning forward Kucherov is on pace for 97 points whereas last season he recorded 131. Stamkos is on pace for 30 goals – he had 45 last season.
- Head coach Jon Cooper has to try and right the ship before too much more time passes. I heard where Sportsnet Elliotte Friedman said how with them running away with the Presidents trophy last season, basically the players don’t see the value of regular season as much now as they went out in 4 straight games in last years post season. The coaches have a challenge to try and get them back to near the top of the league. The ‘Bolts are currently sitting out of the post season by 6 points- a lot more was expected.
- Former Leafs and Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan announced his retirement from the NHL. Stajan played 445 games in a Leafs uniform, from 2003 – 2009, and 558 games in a Calgary Flames uniform. Overall, in 1003 career NHL games played, Stajan scored 146 goals and added 267 assists for 413 points. Last season, Stajan played 52 games in the German league. Stajan now makes Calgary his home but I heard him recently interviewed and he said open to career opportunities in the hockey world which could involve a move to a new city.
- Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu recently played in his 1,000th career game – all as a Wild player. He’s the first Wild player to play 1,000 games as a Minnesota Wild player. Koivu, 36, has recorded 700 points (203 G & 497 A) in the 1,000 games. He was a 6th overall draft pick back in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Koivu is UFA at season’s end; no indication if he plans to continue this career next season but at $5.5 M for this season, he’d be looking at a considerable cut in pay. He’s on pace for 35 points this season on a projected 6 goals.
- Flyers first rounder, 2nd overall in 2017, center Nolan Patrick is still unable to play due to a migraine disorder. Patrick has yet to play a game this season. The good news is Patrick has started skating but he’s not participating in team practices. The team has said there is no timetable for Patrick’s return to the line-up.
- Boston signed pending UFA forward Charlie Coyle to a 6 year deal at an average annual rate of $5.25 M /season. Since being acquired by the Bruins from Minnesota last season, Coyle has recorded 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 49 games.
- The Bruins also signed forward Chris Wagner to a 3 year deal at an average annual rate of $1.35 M /season. Wagner was to be a UFA at the end of the current season. In 103 games as a Bruin, Wagner has recorded 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points.
- Canucks forward Micheal Ferland is expected back in the line-up this week after missing the past 17 games with a concussion after a October 31st fight with LA Kings forward Kyle Clifford. Ferland had one goal and four assists in 12 games before the injury. He said recently he is going to be a lot more selective about getting into fights as he’s had numerous concussions already in his career. Signed as a July 1, 2019 UFA, Ferland is the first season of a 4 year contract that pays him $3.5 M /season. He’s was 40 point player in each of his past two seasons.
- Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has not had a strong start in Miami after signing a 7 year contract at $10 M /season on July 1, 2019. Bobrovsky currently has a .893 save percentage and a 3.24 GAA. I would guess it’s been an adjustment moving to a new city and with a new team. The Panthers have used rookie / AHL goaltender Chris Driedger in their recent two games.
- The Vancouver Canucks added former player Alex Burrows to their Ring of Honour this past week. Burrows signed as a undrafted free agent by the Canucks and recorded 193 goals and 384 points in 822 games in Vancouver. He is 7th in games played with Canucks organization. Burrows joins Kirk McLean, Orland Kurtenbach, Mattias Ohlund, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts and the late Pat Quinn in the Canucks Ring of Honour.
- LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk has not played since Nov. 9 and there is no indication he’s returning to the line-up soon. The Kings are not really saying what the issue is but head coach Todd McLellan said it’s not about Kovalchuk as a person or player and his work ethic in practices has been good. It’s a bit of a mystery why the Kings are not playing him. He does attend games and travels with the team on the road. McLellan recently said it’s been a tough situation.
- Vegas acquired center Chandler Stephenson from the Capitals for a 2021 5th round draft pick and he steps into a 4th line center spot for the Golden Knights. In 26 games this season, Stephenson has recorded 4 goals and 1 assist.
- Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog returned to the Avs line-up after missing 16 games with a lower body injury. The Avs did not disclose much about the injury just saying surgery was not required. Landeskog is a first line forward for Colorado and plays with Rantanen and MacKinnon.
- Flames forward Sean Monahan (6th overall in 2013) played in his 500th career game recently as did Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (5th overall in 2012).
- Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Statsny reached the 700 point mark recently. Paul is former NHL star Peter Statsny’s son and Peter and Paul are the 3rd father and son duo to have both reached the 700 point milestone. The others include Gordie and Mark Howe and Bobby and Brett Hull.
- Flyers center Sean Couturier became the youngest Flyer to reach the 600 game milestone. Couturier has again had a strong start for the Flyers with 22 points in 30 Flyers games this season.
- ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane reached the 600 assist milestone recently. He’s played in 930 NHL games. With 3 Cups and over a point a game in a 900+ games career, Kane is a surefire Hall of Fame player.
- Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury became the 7th goaltender all-time to reach the 450 win mark. The only other active goaltender with at least 450 wins is Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who has 456 career wins. Fleury recently missed a week as he was back in Quebec after the death of his father. He is back with the team since Saturday but has yet to appear in a game.
- Evgeni Malkin is one goal away from 400 for his career. Malkin will become the 99th player all-time to reach the 400 goal milestone.
- Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy became the franchise leader wins with 132. Vasilevskiy is just 25 years old and in the first season of an 8 year deal with Tampa so should set more Lightning records in time.
Alexis LaFreniere Derby aka first overall draft pick in June 2020
- Detroit is 4-20-3 since October 12 and have lost 11 straight. They are in the basement of the league with 17 points in 31 games. Knowledgeable hockey people were expecting it to be a rebuilding year but I don’t think anyone expected they’d be this bad.
- LA is now 2-12-1 on the road and just opened a stretch of eight of nine games away from Staples Center. The last game they won on the road since October 22, 6 weeks ago. Even the Red Wings have one more road with 3.
World Juniors 2020 in Czech – Dec 26 – Jan. 5, 2020
- Team Canada for the 2020 World Juniors is holding a selection camp from Monday, December 9 through to Thursday, December 12 in Oakville, Ontario at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex. Thirty one Canadian players have been invited to the selection camp.
- London Knights head coach Dale Hunter is the head coach of Team Canada and his brother Mark is GM.
- Some of the supposed locks to make the team at forward include of course LaFreniere, Red Wings Joe Veleno (1st round 30th overall in 2018) who is playing with the Red Wings AHL team in Grand Rapids (9 points in 25 games), Dylan Cozens (7th overall in 2019 to the Sabres) who is playing with Lethbridge of the WHL and has 46 points on 20 goals in 30 games this season. Ty Dellandrea, 13th overall in 2018 to Dallas, who has 33 points in 26 games in the OHL. Adam Foote’s kid Nolan who plays for the WHL Kelowna Rockets and has 33 points in 26 games. Another name at forward is Blue Jackets first rounder from 2018 Liam Foudy, 26 points in 19 games in the OHL this season. Forward Quinton Byfield in draft eligible in June 2020, has 55 points in 29 games for the OHL Sudbury Wolves. Connor McMichael, 25th overall in 2019 to Washington, has 57 points in 26 games for the OHL London Knights.
- On defense New Jersey Devils first rounder Ty Smith looks to be a lock to make the team. He’s playing with Spokane of the WHL where he has 17 points in 21 games. Colorado first rounder, 4th overall 2019, Bowen Byram is expected to make the team. Jacob Bernard-Docker a late cut from Team Canada last season looks to be in a good position to make the team this year. He has recorded 14 points in 17 games at U of North Dakota. Calen Addison 29 points in 31 WHL games looks to be on the team on defense for the Canadians.
- In goal, Edmonton 2nd rounder from 2019 Olivier Rodrigue looks to the possible starter. Rodrigue plays for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL where he has 15-6 record with a 2.79 GAA and a .903 SV%.
- Flames 2019 first round pick Jakob Pelletier was invited but seems to be a long shot to make the team. Pelletier is captain of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats and has 49 points (18 goals) in 26 Wildcats games this season.
Odds & Ends
- The Flames get a 3rd round draft pick in the 2020 entry draft from Edmonton if Oilers forward James Neal reaches 20 goals this season. Neal has 14 goals already after 31 Oilers games.
- Devils forward Taylor Hall has now had 8 different head coaches in his 10 year NHL career.
- Two of the top three rookie points leaders are defenseman. Avs Cale Makar first with 28 points & Quinn Hughes third with 23 points (Sabres forward Victor Olofsson has 26 points for 2nd place). There has not been two defenseman finish top two in rookie scoring since the dawn of the NHL’s Original Six teams.
- Hurricanes forward Erik Haula has been missing time recently with the same knee injury that cost him most of last season. Sounds like it could be a while before Haula is able to return to game action.
- The Oilers are the only team to have a top 5 PP and a top 5 PK. The team is first the league on the PP at 32.2% and 2nd on the PK at 86.6%.
- Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton is 0-5-4 in his past 9 games and has allowed 5 or more goals in 4 of his past 6 starts. Seem he’s lost his confidence, hopefully for him he can turn it around but the Sabres have been using Swede Linus Ullmark as their number one.
- Former NHL goaltender Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play in the NHL – in a Lightning pre-season game, is being honored with a statue in Quebec City at Videotron Centre. It will be a life-size bronze statue that will be in place by the end of September 2020. Rheaume won a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics for Canada.
- 2019 NHL Global Series – the Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-2) and Buffalo Sabres (9-5-2) played two sold-out (14,000 fans/ game) matches in Stockholm, Sweden last week. The Lightning won both games, 3-2 on Friday, Nov. 8th and 5-3 on Saturday, November 9th. It was the third straight season – and 8th overall – that the NHL has played a game in Europe. NHL Commissioner Bettman was at both games and announced that Boston Bruins & Nashville Predators will open the 2020-21 regular season with a game in Prague. Additionally, Columbus and Colorado will play two games in Helsinki, Finland in either October or November. The league seems to be focusing on Sweden, Czech Republic and Finland for their games for the Global Series as these countries have a tradition of hockey and it’s where many NHL star players are from. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said it was a “dream come true” to play in his home country last week. Hedman was the only Swede on the Lightning roster but the Sabres have 8 Swedes on their roster including number one overall draft pick from 2018 & last season’s Calder trophy winner Rasmus Dahlin. Some see the Europe experiment as a win win as many players are from there and enjoy going back with their NHL teams & the fans are turning out for the games. The NHL has talked a bit about the possibly of one day having a European league but there’s been no sign this is in the near term. The NFL has also been having regular season games in Europe with success.
- With the NHL’s deal with NBC TV expiring at the end of next season, a lot of people are looking at what the NHL’s TV rights deal could look like. NBC apparently wants to continue to have the USA national TV rights deal but there are other companies interested as well. ESPN, for example, have said they are interested in doing a USA TV deal with the league. The NHL is also looking at online streaming deals as that has become a lot more popular. Amazon is one company that has expressed interest in doing an NHL games online streaming deal.
- TSN reported recently that there haven’t been any face-to-face meetings between the NHL and NHLPA in the month of October but the two sides have been meeting by phone. The sense is talks continue in a positive manner. The two sides have an CBA agreement in place until the end of the 2021-22 season but are continuing to discuss extending it further.
- There is a NHL General Managers meeting Tuesday, November 19th in Toronto. The GM will reconvene again in March 2020. One topic that is believed to be on the agenda for these meetings is video review for off-side after a goal is scored. The NHL believes approximately 50-60 goals / season are called back from the video review of off-side plays and the GM’s are going to discuss basically is that the end result they want. There less goals and the fans seem to enjoy that part of the game the most.
- The Heritage Classic game in Regina on October 26 was a success. A sold out crowd of 33,518 fans took in the game that saw the Jets defeat the Flames 2-1 in overtime. There have now been 28 NHL outdoor games with 1,492,877 fans attending, an average of 53,317 fans / game.
- The Seattle franchise is expected to announce their team name around the January 26th NHL All-Star game which is in St. Louis. Some of the names registered by the OakView Group include Rainers, Kraken, Evergreens, Seals, Emeralds, Sea Lions, Sockeyes, Whales, Eagles, Totems, Cougars, Firebirds and Renegades.
- Alexandra Mandrycky has a new title, Director of Hockey Strategy & Research. She also signed a new contract with the Seattle team.
- Seattle hired a quantitative analyst named Daniel Chu in their hockey ops group. He starts in January 2020. Chu is a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University with a Masters degree in Statistics.
- The Arizona Coyotes signed their GM John Chayka to a long term contract extension. Terms of the deal were not made public but Chayka, 30, had a year and a half left on his existing contract. Chayka was hired by Arizona back in 2016 when he was just 26 years old. The Coyotes missed the post season by four points last season and have a 9-6-2 record after 17 games this season. Experts say with new owner Alex Meruelo plus steady progression of good results on the ice, the organization wanted stability in their key management people.
- Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, became the first Islanders head coach to earn his 60th win prior to his 100th game with the franchise. He’s 60-30-8 in his first 100 Islanders games coached.
- Former Leafs player Doug Gilmour has left the Kingston Frontenacs organization to take a position as community representative/team ambassador for the Leafs. Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Curtis Joseph and Darcy Tucker currently hold the same position of community rep/ambassador with the Leafs. Gilmour held positions such as head coach, GM and team president of the Frontenacs.
- Golden Knights VP of Entertainment Jonny Greco is leaving Vegas to work for Madison Square Garden. The Vegas pre-game show is regarded as tops in the league and set a new standard for NHL pre-game entertainment.
- LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch in Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota. On the season, he has 3 goals and and 8 assists for 9 points with a -10 plus/minus. Further, Kovalchuk was reportedly told he will not be playing in Kings games for the foreseeable future though he is welcome to practice with the team. New Kings head coach Todd McLellan has a challenge on his hands to turn the Kings back into a winning team. Their record after 18 games played is 6-11-1, tied with Ottawa for last in the league.
- With LA in a re-tooling / rebuilding phase defenseman Alex Martinez plus forward Tyler Toffoli are rumored to be available. I heard they plan to keep captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty, and GM Rob Blake keeps them apprised of the rebuilding plans, but no other player is unavailable. Cal Petersen is the goalie of the future and they need to move veteran Jonathan Quick but it’s not going to be easy to do so (could be a buy out candidate). Quick has 3 more seasons after this one at a cap number of $5.8 M. Forwards Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford are both UFA’s this summer and not expected back. Toffoli has been a healthy scratch a few games this season. He has 4 goals and 4 assists in 16 games played.
- Penguins star Sidney Crosby reportedly has a sports hernia injury and is considering surgery. He has had the problem since training camp but is said to now be considering the surgery option which could mean he’d miss 4-6 weeks.
- Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien – this has turned into a complex situation with Byfuglien saying when he injured his ankle last season, there were still problems with it that he did not tell Jets management about and he went and got surgery on it this summer without consulting the Jets. Experts believe the NHLPA may file a grievance on the players behalf as he is owed $8 M this season and $6 M next. He is currently suspended without pay. It’s not clear if the player wants to return to the NHL but he said to need two – three more months to get his ankle back fully functioning. It’s not really clear why the player did not tell the team about the fact he was still having problems with the ankle and the Jets are in a bit of limbo regarding the salary cap as they don’t really know how much cap dollars to allocate to the Byfuglien situation. Some speculate if the player were to try and return to play in the NHL it may not be with the Jets organization.
- Apparently the agent for Taylor Hall (same agent that represents Leafs Mitch Marner) has been in discussions with the Devils and GM Ray Shero about a new contract for Hall. The player is a UFA after this season. Hall is in a strong position as there is really no urgency to him to sign until he’s happy, there are other NHL teams that would covet the player as a July 1, 2020 UFA. Hall reportedly does enjoy playing in New Jersey but also wants to win. He’s played in just 5 post-season games in his career so he wants to see signs that New Jersey has a chance to be a top level team in the near future.
- Montreal has reportedly started contract discussions with defenseman Victor Mete (3 G & 3 A in 18 games played). Mete is in the final year of his entry level deal. No word on term or dollars being discussed. Mete averages 17 1/2 minutes / game of ice time.
- Oilers first rounder Jesse Puljujarvi said the other day he’s happy to spend this season playing in Finland. Puljujarvi has recorded 11 goals and 20 points in 18 games in Finland this season where the game is played on the international size ice surface. One team that expressed interest in acquiring the player indicated they want him playing on an NHL ice surface before going further in trade talks. Doesn’t seem as though that’s the way it’s going to play out as the player will only return to North America is he’s traded from Edmonton. Seems Oilers GM Ken Holland is OK with the player putting up points in Finland as it’s increasing his market value.
- Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook has been a healthy scratch recently. Seabrook, 34, has 4 more years at $6.875 M/ season left on his contract. He is seen as probably untradeable. Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson in Vancouver is in a similar situation, two more years after this season at $6 M and can’t get into Vancouver’s line-up. With the Dallas Stars, captain Jamie Benn is in head coach Montgomery’s doghouse and has one goal plus 5 assists in 18 games played. He’s making $9.5 M for this season and for 5 more season after this one.
- Senators veteran forward Bobby Ryan, the Sens highest paid player, has been a healthy scratch recently. Ryan has one goal and three assists in 13 games played this season. Ryan is under contract for this season and two more at $7.25 M /per.
- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was a healthy scratch a few times already this season. It was the first time in his 13 year NHL career he has been a healthy scratch. He recently suffered an ankle infection injury. Staal has one more season remaining on his contract after this season at a cap number of $5.7 M.
- St. Louis traded former first rounder Robby Fabbri to the Red Wings for defenseman Jacob De La Rose. Apparently, Fabbri’s agent talked to Blues GM Doug Armstrong and asked if the player could be moved if he was not going to see regular ice time with the Blues. Fabbri was a highly rated prospect for the Blues but torn the ACL in his right knee in consecutive seasons. Fabbri’s scored 2 goals and added 2 assists in his first 3 games with the Red Wings. Fabbri is a former 1st round draft pick (2014) who has really struggled staying healthy.
- The Sabres are reportedly looking for a top nine forward as Vladimir Sobotka was injured and it could be a longer term injury. The Sabres started the season with an 8-1-1 record but have lost 5 straight since.
- The Penguins traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to Anaheim for F Andreas Martinsen and a seventh-round pick in 2021. NHL experts saw this as the Pens wanting to move Gudbranson’s $4 M salary for this season and next. Anaheim needed a defenseman as Josh Manson is sidelined for 7-10 weeks with an MCL sprain.
- Winnipeg claimed defenseman Luca Sbisa off waivers from the NY Islanders. Sbisa is reportedly playing in well in Winnipeg. He’s played in 7 games with an average of 16 mins / game of ice time.
- The Islanders are 12-3-1 on the season and have not lost in regulation since Oct 11. They’ve allowed just 22 goals in their 12 wins. New York’s next game is Wednesday at Nassau against the Leafs.
- The Oilers have the forth most points in the league with 26 points after 20 games. Only St. Louis, Washington & Boston have more points than Edmonton. Captain Connor McDavid recently recorded his 400th career point. Only Gretzky, Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Crosby, Bryan Trottier, Steve Yzerman and Pierre Turgeon recorded more points before turning 23 than McDavid. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl leads the league in points with 36 points in 20 games. Draisaitl has an active 10 game point streak going. I saw both players interviewed before the season started and McDavid said one his goals is to work towards being regarded one of the top players all-time and Draisaitl said his goal was to be considered among the elite players in the game with Crosby, McDavid, Kucherov.
- The Washington Capitals (13-2-4) posted a point streak of at least 12 games (10-0-2) for the first time since a 14-game run from Dec. 29, 2016 to Jan. 23, 2017 (12-0-2). Second year head coach Todd Reirdon does not get a lot of credit as a good NHL head coach.
- St. Louis have won 7 straight games and are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, plus have 5 straight wins on the road. Overall, the Blues are 12-3-3 on the season.
- The Philadelphia Flyers have won four straight games and they’ve won five of their past six games (5-0-1). A lot of people are crediting new head coach Alain Vigneault for their success so far. A few of their young players are quietly moving to the forefront; players such as Travis Konecny (age 22 and 19 points in 17 games this season), first rounder Joel Farabee (19) and Carter Hart (21). Swede Oskar Lindblom (23) is tied with Konecny for the most goals on the team (8).
- Nashville signed pending UFA defenseman Roman Josi to a max 8 year deal at a cap number of $9.059 M /season. The deal starts next season when the player will be 30 years old and includes a full no move clause for all 8 seasons. Some people believe the 8 year deals for 30 year old players will not be as prevalent as in a faster and younger league $8 – $9 M per season for 33 and 34 year old players are showing to hamstring (salary cap) teams.
- Some speculate the Josi signing should get the market for pending UFA St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Apparently the players agent did meet with Blues GM Doug Armstrong but that was back a month ago and there has been no dialogue since.
- The Predators also signed forward Austin Watson to a 3 year, $4.5 M contract.
- The defending Cup champs, St. Louis, signed forwards Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn to 10 day PTO’s. Brouwer went to the Florida Panthers training camp on a PTO but was cut. Brouwer recorded 12 goals and 9 assists in 75 games for the Panthers last season. McGinn appeared in 2 games for Carolina’s AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers before being released. McGinn, 31, played last season also with the Panthers where he recorded 4 goals and 7 points in 19 games before being sent to the AHL.
- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played in his 1,500 NHL game last week. He’s is the 21st player all-time to play in as many games and 6th defenseman.
- St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester recently played in his 1200 NHL game. He is the 111th player all-time to play as many NHL games. Bouwmeester is only the 5th active player with 1200 games played (Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Zdeno Chara are the others). Bouwmeester said as he gotten older he appreciates the milestones more.
- Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf recently played in his 1,000 career game- all with the Ducks. He is first player in franchise history reach the 1000 Ducks games played milestone.
- Canadiens head coach Claude Julien coached in his 1,200 game last week. He is 19th all-time in NHL games coached.
- Leafs head coach Mike Babcock reached the 700 win mark last week. Only 7 other head coaches all-time have as many wins as Babcock and, of active coaches, he has the 4th most wins (Coach Q has 898, Trotz has 822 and Paul Maurice has 705). Babcock said of his success he’s tried to adapt and re-invent himself ever year as things are changing fast (even in his line of work!). Some of the players said he brings professionalism and energy, always trying to be positive and has top level habits plus he sticks to a daily routine. Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie said Babcock really is clear with what he is expecting and wants the players to do things a certain way.
- Chicago defenseman and first rounder (8th overall in 2018), Adam Boqvist, recorded his first NHL goal last week against Anaheim. He is a big part of the future of the ‘Hawks defense group.
- Vegas forward Max Pacioretty recently reached the 500 point milestone. He has an impressive 250 goals and 250 assists in his career (626 games played). Pacioretty has had a solid NHL career and is still just 30 years old.
- Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is just the fifth player of Russian nationality in NHL history to appear in at least 1,100 career regular-season games (also Alex Kovalev, Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov). Of the 190 players in NHL history to reach 1,100 games, only two scored more than Ovechkin’s 669 goals in their first 1,100 games: Wayne Gretzky (793) and Brett Hull (679)
- Leading Norris trophy candidate John Carlson played in his 700th career game last week. He’s recorded 432 points or .61 PPG. Carlson set a frachise record for points in a month for a defenseman with 23 points in the recent month of October and the second most for a defenseman in NHL history.
- Canadiens captain Shea Weber recored his 100th career PP goal on the weekend, He’s the only active defenseman with as many career PP goals. Weber off to a strong offensive start this season with 14 points, 5 goals, after the Habs first 18 games this season. Weber has as many goals as PK Subban has points (5).
- LA captain Anze Kopitar recently reached the 900 point milestone (317 goals & 587 assists). Kopitar also has his name on the Stanley Cup twice.
- St. Louis Blues forward David Perron already has 3 OT goals after only 18 Blues games played this season. Perron is the first player to record as many OT goals prior to his teams 20th game of the season.
- Sharks forward Patrick Marleau recently played in his 800th consecutive regular season game becoming just the 6th player all-time, and only the second active player, to achieve that. He hasn’t missed a regular season game since the 2008-09 season.
- The Leafs play at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island on Wednesday and overall play 12 of their next 15 games on the road. Forward Zach Hyman is expected to return for the game which is very positive as he bring a lot- hard work, character player who is physical and battles as hard any anyone for loose pucks. Babcock says Hyman is his the team’s best forechecker. Hyman has been rehabbing the knee for seven months after a knee ACL tear & surgery so it will take him a bit to get back his timing and game conditioning.
- Forward Mitch Marner was placed on long term injury reserve which means he misses at least 10 games or 24 days. Marner has not missed a game since he was an NHL rookie. The team has said it’s at least a 4 week injury (high ankle sprain). They are definitely going to miss him he is averaging a point a game and the most used forward used on the team’s PK. Marner also leads the team in PP points with 7. Andreas Johnsson, Kapanen and Ilya Mikheyev will have a chance to play more in Marner’s absence.
- Auston Matthews recorded 10 goals in October for the second straight season. Matthews is 7th overall in the league in points with 13 G & 12 A for 25 points. He looks even better this season that last and when he’s really motivated he’s hard to contain.
- The Tavares line (Hyman-Tavares-Marner) has yet to play a shift together this season. We will probably see Tavares with Kapanen & Hyman tomorrow. Some of the other lines look like Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander, Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Moore & Petan-Shore-Gauthier. No indication what the team plans are for Jason Spezza.
- The team seem be playing from behind a lot having given up the first goal of the game in 14 of their 19 games (73.7%) this season.
- The team has 14 back to back games this season (five between now and the end of December) having already played 5 and have picked up just a single point. Hutchinson had a 0-4 record with a 4.44 GAA and a .879 SV% and of course was placed on waivers and cleared through the league. He was sent to the Marlies on Tuesday. Marlies starter Kasimir Kaskisuo takes over as the Leafs back-up. In 8 games with the Marlies this season, Kaskisuo has a 6-1-1 record with a .928 SV% and a 2.13 GAA. His numbers are good but the NHL is a lot tougher league to have consistent success in. People are expecting Kaskisuo starts on the second night of the Leafs next back to back which is Saturday in Pittsburgh.
- The Leafs have taken the 3rd most minor penalties in the league at an average of 3.85 / game. Auston Matthews said the other day all the minor penalties take the team out of their regular rhythm of rolling 4 lines.
- William Nylander has 6 points in his last 4 games after being benched in a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Babcock says his battle level has increased resulting in having the puck more and he’s getting more shots on net plus looking a lot more confident on the ice.
- The team is on pace for 95 points; last season they finished with 100 and in 2017-18 they had 105. Seems what St. Louis and Colorado showed it matters more who is playing well in mid March and into April.
- After Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum, the team plays:
- at home vs the Bruins on Friday
- in Pittsburgh on Saturday
- in Vegas on Tuesday
- in Arizona on Thursday
- in Colorado on Saturday
- With the Leafs prospects, Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin has recorded 9 points in 8 games while playing on the Marlies top d pairing.
- Peterborough Petes forward and Leafs second rounder (2019) Nick Robertson has recorded 28 points in 19 games this season on 19 goals. With a 68 game OHL regular season, Robertson is on pace for an incredible 68 goals. Petes teammate Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, a Leafs 3rd rounder from 2017 has 27 points on 4 goals in 17 games played.
Awards & Hockey Hall of Fame
- Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson was named Rookie of the Month for October. He recorded 6 goals, all on the PP, and 4 assists for 10 points in 13 games played. Seems the early race for NHL Calder Trophy is between three young defenseman, Avalanche Cale Makar, Canucks Quinn Hughes and Oilers Ethan Bear. Makar has an incredible 17 points in 17 regular season NHL games played while averaging 19 minutes of ice time per game. Bear leads all rookies with 21 minutes of ice time / game. If I had to bet, I would predict Cale Makar for Calder this season.
- The Dallas Stars announced that they will retire former Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov’s #56 jersey in a ceremony next season. Zubov leads the Stars franchise in goals, assists, points, power play points for a defenseman. He is entering the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 18th. Zubov joins former Stars players Neal Broten (#7), Bill Goldsworthy (#8), Mike Modano (#9), Bill Masterton (#19) and Jere Lehtinen (#26) in having their number retired by Dallas.
- Along with Zubov, Guy Carbonneau, Pens GM Jim Rutherford, Hayley Wickenheiser, Russian Vlad Nedomansky, Builder Jerry York also enter this Hockey Hall of Fame on November 18th,
- TSN reported Tuesday night that Team Canada’s GM for the Spengler Cup, Sean Burke, has asked Wayne Gretzky if he’d consider coaching Canada at the tournament that runs from Thursday, December 26, 2019 to Tuesday, December 31 in Switzerland. Gretzky apparently said he needs a few days to check if can make it work with his busy schedule and will get back to Burke. Would be awesome to see him behind Team Canada’s bench for the tourny.
- The IIHF World Juniors is in the Czech Republic this year, tournament starts December 26, 2019 and some rumblings are starting so percolate around that event with respect to Team Canada. Center Barrett Hayden (5th overall to Arizona in 2018) is currently with the Coyotes and it’s not clear if he will be made available. Hayden represented Canada last year when the Canadians finished 6th in the tournament, Blackhawks rookie Kirby Dach (3rd overall 2019 to CHI) is playing with the Blackhawks so, similar to Hayden, he may or not be made available by his NHL team but Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Velano (30th overall in 2018) is expected to be made available. Velano is a 19 year old center from Quebec who is playing with the Red Wings AHL team.
- CBA negotiations – the league and NHLPA have a 10 year CBA agreement in place that was signed in January 2013 but both sides have a September 2019 opt out clause. The NHL could of opted out on September 1 and the NHLPA’s deadline for opting out is September 15th. At the end of August (2019), the NHL said they would not be opting out and now the it’s up to the players to decide by the 15th of September if they want to. If they choose to, the current CBA will expire September 15, 2020. The two sides are meeting New York City on Monday, September 9th to continue negotiations. From all indications, the players major gripe is the escrow and, secondarily, the players generally want to play in Winter Olympics but the owners don’t want to close the league mid-season. There was some mention of the NHLPA possibly asking for an extension to the September 15th opt out deadline but nothing official has been announced.
- The league’s plan to roll out player and puck tracking has been delayed until the 2019-20 post season. The league had an agreement with a company called Jogmo for the technology but have since dropped them and have signed a company called SMT who are based of out North Carolina. The whole area of data collection in NHL games ties into the league’s plans to offer gambling on games in the future. Article about the change of technology partners is here.
- Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has signed over ownership of the Bruins to his 6 children. Jacobs is one of the more influential owners in the league; he’s owned the Bruins for the past 44 years having bought the team back in 1975 for $10 M. Jacobs recently turned 80 years old. The plan is for the Jacobs family to continue to own the Bruins.
- New Jersey – Tom Fitzgerald was promoted to Executive Vice President & AGM and Dan MacKinnon was promoted to Senior Vice President & AGM. Fitzgerald acts as General Manager of the Devils AHLteam – the Binghamton Devils – plus he’s involved in contract negotiations, player transactions and working with the Devils development staff. MacKinnon, for the past 3 years, was Senior Director of Player Personnel but will now take over all aspects of the Devils scouting. MacKinnon will be key in the Devils entry draft preparation plus he’s going to oversee the Devils analytics efforts.
- Seattle – The Seattle team announced they’ve hired Ricky Olczyk as Assistant General Manger to GM Ron Francis. Olczyk, 49, was a Carolina Hurricanes AGM under Francis for 4 years. Olczyk will be responsible for the team’s salary cap which includes deciding who to draft in the June 2021 expansion draft. Olczyk is also apparently an expert on the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Olczyk has a law degree from Cornell University and has done legal work for the NHLPA. He started his career working in law firms in Chicago and Phoenix. He also worked as an AGM for seven seasons with the Edmonton Oilers (6 of those as AGM). Last season he was employed by the Leafs as a pro scout. His brother is former NHL’er, now broadcaster, Eddie Olczyk .
- With the Red Wings, recently retired defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been hired an an adviser to GM Steve Yzerman.
- The San Jose Sharks hired former LA Dodgers (MLB) GM Ned Colletti as a pro scout. Colletti grew up in Chicago and is an avid Blackhawks fan having been to many ‘Hawks games. He will evaluate hockey talent at both the NHL and AHL levels. Colletti, 65, spent 40 years working in team management of major league baseball.
- There is still not much change on the unsigned star RFA’s – Marner, Laine, Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk, Brayden Point, etc. Some say when one signs that will set the market for the others but that hasn’t really materialized. Sebastian Aho signed for 5 years at $8.45 M / season and Sharks forward Timo Meier signed for 4 years @ $6 M /season, but other RFA’s haven’t followed suit. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas talked last week about how they are still trying to reach an agreement with Mitch Marner and the organization currently has no intention of looking to trade the player. Marner’s side has been quiet. The Flames Matthew Tkachuk is reportedly seeking $8 M /season on a new deal. The player’s agent and Flames GM Brad Treliving have been negotiating since June. Some say term is a sticking point with some of the RFA’s, they want 4 or 5 year deals where they reach UFA status free to sign with any team. Based on lack of progress so far, seems to me these young RFA’s are going to miss regular season games.
- Oilers captain Connor McDavid is still recovering from his knee injury suffered in the team’s final regular season game of last season. He’s apparently spent a lot of the summer getting the knee back into top form. It’s not certain McDavid will be a full participant when the Oilers start on ice work for training camp on Fri. Sept. 13.
- Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said recently his groin injury that hampered him most of last season is 100%. With the surgery procedure he had on the injury this off-season, Karlsson said he does not expect the same injury to be an issue again. Karlsson is entering season one of his 8 year contract at $11.5 M /season.
- Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom is one year from UFA and would like to sign an extension with the Canucks. GM Jim Benning indicated they’ll see how the season goes and talk to Markstrom’s agent but it’s not a top priority right now.
- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara may not be ready for the start of this season on October 3rd as his broken jaw suffered in last season’s Cup final is still healing.
- San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson recently said Patrick Marleau will not return to the Sharks. The team wants to get a bit younger overall. Marleau is a UFA but has yet to sign with a team. His preference is to be close to his San Jose home as he has four young children. Arizona was one team I heard had interested in Marleau.
- Senators young defenseman Thomas Chabot is in negotiations with the team on a long term deal. Chabot, 22, has just two years of NHL experience but has an amazing 80 points in 134 games. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.
- The Winnipeg Jets have started long term contract discussions with defenseman Josh Morrissey. He recorded 31 points in 59 games in 2018-19 season (was dealing with some injuries during the season and missed games) while averaging over 22 mins/game. With Tyler Myers leaving as a UFA to Vancouver, Jacob Trouba being moved to the New York Rangers and Dustin Byfuglien at age 34, the 24 year old Morrissey is expected to become a key defenseman for the Jets. Morrissey was a first round pick of the Jets, 13th overall, in 2013.
- Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi is hoping to sign a new deal with the Preds. Josi is one season from UFA. Josi’s agent and the Predators have started initial discussions on a new deal. Josi signed a 7 year deal, $28 M contract with the Predators back before the 2013-14 season. He will get a significant raise from the $4 M /season he currently makes.
- Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is one year from UFA and there have been no talks about a new deal with the Bruins. Krug said recently his hope is to remain a Bruin and recently said he is willing to take less financially to re-sign in Boston. Krug is an underrated player; he recorded 53 points in 64 regular season games in the 2018-19 season plus 16 points in 24 Bruins post-season games. The Bruins are dealing with numerous contract discussions currently including with their head coach, Bruce Cassidy (in the final year of his deal), plus two RFA defenseman, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
- Former Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov is wanting to resume his NHL playing career. Markov, 40, has spent the past 2 seasons in the KHL. This past season he recorded 2 goals and 14 points for Kazan (KHL). Markov’s agent, Allan Walsh, said his client’s preference is to return to Montreal but Canadians GM Marc Bergevin said Sunday, the player does not fit into their plans adding they’ve started to build a young team in Montreal. Markov is 10 games from the 1,000 games milestone (all played with Montreal).
- Former Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner signed a 4 year deal with Carolina at $4.05 M /season. Gardiner has recently been working out in Vail, Colorado with fellow NHL players (the players like training at the high altitude in Colorado to get their conditioning in top shape). Gardiner recently said he’s 100% healthy. He was hoping to sign a long term, high priced contract in July 1, as a UFA, but it did not materialize. He says he believes he back injuries, his age (29) plus a lot of teams are up against the cap – and the cap did not go up as much as people thought it would – were factors in the offers he received.
- Phoenix signed 21 year old forward Clayton Keller to an 8 year contract at an AAV of $7.15 M. Keller was to be an RFA after the 2019-20 season. Keller has recorded 114 points in 167 games (.68 PPG) over two NHL seasons. He was drafted by the Coyotes 7th overall in the 2016 entry draft. The contract seems to a bit of a gamble but the Coyotes could be betting on Keller getting more points with Kessel on his wing and if they waited until after the 2019-20, the deal could of cost them more. I heard where Coyotes GM John Chayka said they expect with the new USA TV being negotiated in 2 years, they expect the cap to go up. Canucks unsigned RFA Brock Boeser is seeking $7 M / season on a new deal and he has recorded 116 points in 140 games (.82 PPG).
- The Oilers signed UFA forward Riley Sheahan to a one year deal at $900,000. Sheahan, 27, has played 447 NHL games recording 58 goals and 91 assists for 149 points. New Oilers GM Ken Holland drafted Sheahan when Holland was Red Wings GM and Sheahan played with the Wings for 5 years. Sheahan could be the Oilers 3rd line center behind McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sheahan is strong on the PK.
- The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Jack Campbell to a two year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $1.65 M. Campbell was one year from UFA status.
- Winnipeg signed goaltender Eric Comrie to a two year deal with $700,000 K / year. The first year is two way and the second year is one way.
- The Chicago Blackhawks have signed forward Brendan Perlini to a one year contract at $875,000. He recorded 13 goals and 3 assists in 46 Blackhawks games last season after the trade from Arizona.
- Sharks 40 year old forward Joe Thornton signed a one year deal for $2 M. It will be Thornton’s 22 year in the NHL. He is 22 points from 1,500 for his career. Only 13 players all-time have reached 1,500 career points.
- St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev agreed to a two year deal at $1.475 M /season. Barbashev was an RFA. He recorded 14 goals and 12 assists last season.
- The Canucks signed forward Nikolay Goldobin to a one year deal at $900,00.
- Disgruntled 21 year old Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has signed a one year deal to play in Finland. His deal includes a December 1 opt out clause in the event he is traded from the Oilers.
- Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.1 million: $1.8 million in 2019-20 and $2.4 million in 2020-21. The 22-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, had 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 81 regular-season games last season.
- Former NHL forward Oscar Lindberg has signed in Switzerland. Lindberg was a UFA who apparently didn’t get any NHL interest.
- Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement after 15 NHL seasons. Saw a clip of him interviewed and he said he was very grateful to former Red Wings GM Ken Holland as Holland asked him last season (when Nik was UFA) if he was OK with a trade and Kronwall said he wanted to retire a Red Wing and Holland made it happen. Kronwall said he is proud to have played his entire NHL career with the Red Wings. His family is settled and happy living in the Detroit area.
- Hurricanes captain Justin Williams also announced he will not start the year with the team. He did not officially say retirement and there is a chance he could join the team mid-season. Williams will be missed as he had 23 goals and 53 points as the team’s captain last season. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said recently they are not in a rush to name a new captain.
- Goaltender Cam Ward recently announced his retirement from the NHL. Ward played all but one season of his career with the Carolina Hurricanes where he was drafted 25th overall in 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Ward signed a one day contract with the Hurricanes last week so he could retire a Hurricane. Ward won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe as a member of the 2006 Hurricanes. He is only one of four rookies to win the Conn Smythe in his rookie season (Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy & Ron Hextall the others).
- Former Devils, Penguins, Ducks and Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy announced his retirement from the NHL. Lovejoy played in 544 regular season games plus 76 more in the post season. He won the Cup with the Penguins in 2016.
Ten Day Professional Try Out’s (PTO)
- Landon Ferraro, 28, will attend Vancouver Canucks training camp on a PTO. Ferraro was injured most of last season (knee). He could be a possibly as fill in for Brandon Sutter who is recovering from back (hernia) surgery.
- Los Angeles signed former Flames and Blackhawks forward Lance Bouma to a PTO. Bouma spent last season in the Swiss league.
Odds & Ends
- Kendall Coyne Schofield, American Gold Medal winning women’s hockey player, will join the San Jose Sharks TV broadcast team as a color analyst for select games this season.
- The USA Hockey Hall of Fame announced their inductees for 2019. Included are Commissioner Gary Bettman, former Canadian captain Brian Gionta, Neal Henderson (82 year old coach and co-founder of the Fort Dupont Cannons, the oldest minority hockey club is the USA), former Bruins goaltender and Stanley Cup champion Tim Thomas and Krissy Wendell (hockey player). In induction ceremony is December 12, 2019.
- The QMJHL Rimoski Oceanic are retiring Sidney Crosby’s #87 jersey on September 27th. It’s the team’s home opener and the franchise’s 25 season in the Q. Crosby recorded 303 points in 121 games with the Oceanic.
- The OHL London Knights are retiring Patrick Kane’s #88 jersey even though he played just one season with the team, back in the 2006-07 season. In that season, he recorded 145 points (62 G & 83 A) and was runner up to John Tavares for OHL MVP. The jersey retirement ceremony will take place on January 17, 2020.
- Russian forward Anton Burdasov, 28, is apparently in talks with as many as three NHL teams about signing a contract. He’s spent the past 10 seasons in the KHL. Burdasov is 6’3, 200 pounds and last season in the KHL he recorded 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points in 50 games. He is represented by Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter. The Oilers are apparently one of the teams interested in signing the player. Burdasov is reportedly seeking a one year deal.
- Sabres defenseman Matt Hunwick will miss the entire 2019-20 season due to a neck condition. Hunwick missed half of last season with the injury.
- Seems a lot of veteran players worked on trying to get faster in off-season training. I’ve heard Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovchekin & Flames forward Sean Monahan all say recently that getting faster was a major off-season training goal. Leafs forward Auston Matthews said he focused a lot on flexibility as he does not want to lose time again this season to shoulder-related injuries.
Some news & notes from around the league. Training camps are scheduled to start mid Sept.
- The league is apparently very happy that the City of Calgary finally approved a plan to develop a new arena for the Flames. The deal agreed to is actually between the City of Calgary, Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp (CSEC -the owners of the Flames) and Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Ltd (the group that runs the annual Calgary Stampede). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Calgary numerous times in the past trying to get the City of Calgary to discuss the need for Calgary to have a new arena for the Flames but Calgary’s mayor was not onside on any possible deal involving city funds. The more recent negotiations have been occurring for about a year and were kept private but, this time, the city and the Flames used Ernst & Young consultants that worked with all parties to get the financial details agreeable for all sides. Doesn’t seem as though the league was involved much at all. Under terms of the new deal, the City owns the new arena and the Flames will have a 35 year lease on the building. The city and CSEC will split the $550 M building construction cost 50/50. The team is responsible for operating the building, including upkeep / repairs, while the Flames have agreed to not relocate for a minimum of 35 years. The new building will seat 19,000 fans. As a final step, Calgary city council voted on the deal and it was approved with 11 votes for and 4 against. Construction of the new building is expected to start in 2021 with it being game ready by the 2024-25 NHL season.
- The Arizona Coyotes introduced their new owner, Alex Murelo, to the media this week. Murelo is 55 years old and was born to Cuban parents who fled their country for a better life in the USA. Alex was born in Brooklyn, NY and started investing in real estate in his 20’s. He apparently likes to take struggling businesses, turn them around and is now worth a reported $2 B US. He owns casino’s, restaurants and real estate in the Southwest USA. He speaks fluent Spanish and spoke during parts his Coyotes introductory press conference in Spanish. Murelo is the first and only Hispanic NHL owner in league history and fans of the league are hoping he can draw the Hispanic demographic to the Coyotes and NHL (some estimates say Arizona is comprised of 40% Hispanic citizens). Previous Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway retains a 5% ownership position and the Coyotes Alternate Governor.
- I’ve not heard much on CBA negotiations. The league can opt out of the current CBA on September 1, 2019 (effective September 1, 2020) while the players can do the same on September 19, 2019. Some of the major topics that are usually in the discussions is hockey related revenue (HRR) which is currently 50/50 -players get 50% of revenue and owners get 50%. I’d be very surprised if this split changes. The max contract length, currently 8 years for a UFA that signs with the same team or 7 years for a UFA that goes to a different team, could also be on the table for discussion. One of the other key issue is escrow and not holding back 10-12% of player salaries. The players position is basically find another way other than touching players pay. Some other topics could include the idea of signing bonuses where players are paid up to 90% of their annual cap number as a bonus, usually paid on July 1. Toronto leads the league in paying signing bonus while other, less cash laden teams, can’t pay out millions of dollars of salary on July 1. The fixed cap, currently $81.5 M, is suppose to create league parity among teams but bonuses skew things. Teams such as Ottawa struggle to have their player combined salaries reach the cap floor, $60.2 M, and they take on a retired player contracts to bump up their combined player contracts total. Some say what the Leafs did recently acquiring retired player David Clarkson contract to exploit a loophole in the CBA could be addressed in the CBA discussions. This whole issue of the CBA negotiations and re-opener clause in September is going to start to become news as the new 2019-20 season nears. Both the NHLPA and NHL seem to agree that labor problems hurt the game so hopefully both sides can work through their differences.
- The Minnesota Wild fired their GM Paul Fenton on Tuesday. Fenton was hired by the Wild in May of 2018 from the Nashville Predators organization where he was AGM to GM David Poile. Wild owner Craig Leipold basically said it was on him as, after Fenton’s fourteen months in the GM role, it was clear to Leipold that Fenton was not a good fit with the culture of the Wild organization. Leipold said there was not one thing that led to the decision but more a way for doing things that was not working well. Some of the names getting interviewed to replace Fenton include former Flyers GM Ron Hextall, former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, Montreal Canadiens AGM Scott Mellanby and Penguins AGM Bill Guerin. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau has now survived two GM firings in his three seasons as head coach. Bourdreau, 64, enters the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. Owner Craig Leipold said new Wild Senior Advisor Mike Modano will be involved in all parts of the new GM hire. The three key people that will do the hire is Modano, owner Leipold and Wild President & Alternate Governor Matt Majka. All signs seem to point to a hire being done fairly soon.
- The Oilers added Brian Wiseman as an assistant coach on head coach Dave Tippett’s staff. Wiseman, 48, spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan Wolverines and had worked in the Dallas Stars organization as a video analyst in the past (where Dave Tippett first met him). Wiseman had a successful career in the IHL & AHL. In the 1998-99 season, he was the IHL leading scorer & MVP and led his team, the Houston Aeros, to the Turner Cup. He was also a team captain with the Aeros. Heard where Tippett said he wanted someone he was familiar with so there was less time required getting to know each other, etc. Tip said the whole organization sees the upcoming season as very important. Sounds like Wiseman will be the Oilers coach acting as the “eye in the sky” – watching games from the pressbox. Oilers assistant coach Glen Gulutzan is responsible for the forwards and Jim Playfair the defense.
- Former Bruins/Flames player Marc Savard is joining the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach on head coach Craig Berube’s staff. Berube was a teammate of Savard’s in the NHL and values his offensive understanding of the game and the organization hopes he can pass his knowledge onto the Blues players. Savard recorded 706 points in 807 NHL games in his career.
- Former NHL player Alex Tanguay is leaving the NHL Network to take a position as an assistant coach with the AHL Iowa Wild (farm team of the Minnesota Wild) under head coach Tim Army.
- Boston Bruins President Cam Neely says he expects the organization and their head coach Bruce Cassidy to soon reach an agreement on a contract extension. Cassidy enters the 2019-20 with just one year remaining on his contract. In three seasons so far under Cassidy, the Bruins have reached the 100 point mark twice.
- Recently retired Penguins forward Matt Cullen has moved into a player development position with the team. GM Jim Rutherford said Cullen’s valuable knowledge of the game plus his knowledge of the Penguins organization made the decision to hire him an easy one. Cullen won three Stanley Cups in his 21 year NHL playing career.
- Another player who just recently retired, Chicago Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, has also accepted as Player Development Adviser position with the ‘Hawks organization (in their Hockey Ops Dept). Kunitz will also advise the ‘Hawks coaching staff and well as work with the organization’s AHL prospects in Rockford. Kunitz won four Cups as a player, three with the Penguins and one with the Anaheim Ducks.
- Former Islanders forward Stephen Gionta has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization as a pro scout. Gionta, 35, was a UFA but did not get any contract offers. He played with the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport most of last season.
- Oilers 21 yo forward Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall 2016) said recently he will not be returning to North America to play hockey until the Oilers trade him. Puljujarvi is spending the off-season back home in Finland. Heard Oilers GM Ken Holland interviewed and he said he’s been trying to trade the player and will soon make an extra push to get something done before training camp. The Oilers have added former Canucks forward Markus Granlund, James Neal, and goaltender Mike Smith while moving out Lucic, Ty Rattie and Tobias Reider. Holland said recently he’s expects Neal to play in the Oilers top 6 forward group.
- Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said recently he expects to reach a contract agreement with 23 yo RFA Brayden Point before training camp. Point had a career high 92 points on 41 goals in the recent season. Some experts are saying their is a bit of a log jam with the RFA’s as these young stars are waiting for the market to set – including the Marner contract that doesn’t seem close to a conclusion. From reviewing some of BriseBois comments, it does seem as though the Point contract will be a shorter term deal as he said that’s the way these star 22/23 year old RFA contracts seem to be trending. Some people expect the salary cap to jump from the current $81.5 M when the league signs a new USA TV deal (the current deal expires after the next two seasons).
- Flames GM Brad Treliving said he expects to sign RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk before the start of training camp. The Flames have $7.75 M in cap space available and just recently bought out defenseman Michael Stone to create cap room. Experts are saying it will take about $8 M /season to get Tkachuk’s name on a new deal. The player recorded 77 points in 80 games on 34 goals in the 2018-19 regular season.
- The Ottawa Senators are working towards getting 22 yo RFA forward Colin While signed to a new contract. Sens GM Dorian said recently the goal is to get White signed by the start of training camp on September 12. Since being drafted 21st overall in 2015, White has recorded 47 points, 16 goals, in 94 career NHL games.
- There been some talk that the Senators have started negotiations with defenseman Thomas Chabot on a long term deal. Chabot is one season from being a 23 yo RFA but he’s a key player for the Senators. Chabot recorded 55 points in 70 games in the 2018-19 regular season.
- Tampa Bay back-up goaltender Louis Domingue is being shopped to teams. The Lightning signed Curtis McElhinney to a two year contract this summer at $1.3 M /season to back-up starter Andrei Vasilevskiy which made Domingue, last years back-up in Tampa, expendable. Domingue, 27, has just the 2019-20 season left on his contract and then will be UFA. Domingue went 21-5 with a .908 SV% and a 2.88 GAA in 2018-19.
- The agent for former Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton said the other day Hutton will sign somewhere before the start of training camp adding there have been offers but so far none the player wanted to agree to. Hutton had 20 points in 69 games with the Canucks in 2018-19. Hutton, 26, became a UFA after the Canucks did not make him an RFA qualifying offer.
- Experts are saying the market is still being set for the 22/23 star RFA group. Signings could be delayed to the start of training camp in mid Sept. The key names that are still unsigned include:
- Mitch Marner (TOR)
- Brayden Point (TB)
- Mikko Rantanen (AVS)
- Matthew Tkachuk (CGY)
- Kyle Connor (WPG)
- Patrik Laine (WPG)
- Brock Boeser (VAN)
- Charlie McAvoy (BOS)
- Zach Werenski (CBJ)
- Ivan Provorov (PHI)
- Travis Konecny (PHI)
- Kevin Fiala (MIN)
- The World Junior Summer Showcase recently wrapped up in Plymouth, Michigan. Teams in the four day tournament included Canada, USA, Sweden and Finland. This is just a warm up for the 2020 World Junior Tournament. Team Canada’s head coach is Dale Hunter with assistants Mitch Love (HC of the WHL Saskatoon Blades) and Andre Tourigny (HC of the OHL Ottawa 67’s). The projected 1st overall draft selection in 2020, Alexis Lafreniere, is expected to lead the Canadians in the 2020 World Junior Tournament (under 20 yo’s) that gets started December 26, 2019 in the Czech Republic. Some of other key players on the World Junior team are expected to be:
- Liam Foudy (18th overall 2018 CBJ)
- Joe Veleno (30th overall 2018 DET)
- Barrett Hayton (5th overall 2018 ARI)
- Ty Dellandrea (13th overall 2018 DAL)
- Kirby Dach (3rd overall 2019 CHI)
- Bo Byram (4th overall 2019 COL)
- Noah Dobson (12th overall 2018 NYI)
- Jacob Bernard-Docker (26th overall 2018 OTT)
- Ty Smith (17th overall 2018 NJD)
- Jared McIsaac (2nd round 2018 DET)
- Olivier Rodrigue (2nd round 2019 EDM)
- Colten Ellis (3rd round 2019 STL)
- Some of these players could make the NHL before the World Junior tournament starts.
- The 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup will take place in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia from August 5th to 10th, 2019. These are under 18 year old players. Team Canada’s roster includes 22 players; 9 from the WHL, 8 from the OHL and 5 from the QMJHL.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Vezina trophy winner (2019) Andrei Vasilevskiy to a 8 year contract at $9.5 M /season. The new deal starts in the 2020-21 season.
- New Jersey acquired Vegas forward Nikita Gusev, 27, and signed him to a two year deal that will pay him $5 M in the first season and $4 M in the second season. Both the Devils and Columbus were teams that expressed the most interest in acquiring the player from Vegas. Vegas thought they could sign Gusev for about $2 M / season and it doesn’t seem as though they ever were close in terms of reaching an agreement. There is a bit of hype around Gusev as he was a star in the KHL. He had 82 points on 17 goals in 62 KHL games in 2018-19. Due to his age, Gusev is ineligible for the Calder trophy for the league’s top rookie.
- The Devils reached an agreement with defenseman Will Butcher, 3 years at $3.73 M/season. Butcher is 24 years old and had 30 points in 78 games in the 2018-19 regular season.
- Vegas signed (UFA) defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one year deal for with a base of (league min) $700,000 plus performance bonuses that could make the contract worth as much as $1.5 M.
- Nashville agreed to terms with forward Colton Sissons on the 7 year deal for $20 M. The two sides agreed a day before their arbitration hearing was scheduled. Sissons recorded career highs in goals (15) and points (30) in the 2018-19 season. GM David Poile said Sissons can play on the PP or PK plus has grown into a leader on the team.
- The Winnipeg Jets and forward Andrew Copp reached an agreement on a 2 year deal for $2.28 M avoiding their scheduled arbitration hearing. Copp recorded 11 goals and 25 points in the 2018-19 season.
- Buffalo signed their back-up goaltender, Linus Ullmark, to a one year, $1.325 M contract. The two sides reached an agreement one day after Ullmark had his salary arbitration hearing. The Sabres also signed defenseman Jake McCabe to a 2 year deal with a cap hit of $2.85 M.
- The Avalanche signed defenseman Sam Girard to a seven year, $35 M contract. In the recent regular season, Girard, 21, recorded 4 goals and 27 assists in 82 games while averaging 19:53 minutes of ice time. Girard was originally drafted by Nashville, 2nd round/47th overall, in 2016 and was of the Duchene trade.
- The Flames and goaltender David Rittich reached a 2 year contract agreement before their arbitration hearing. It’s two years at $2.75 M. It’s the same cap number as the Flames new alternate goalie Cam Talbot will make. Fans are expecting a season long competition between the two goalies for the number one position. Seems GM Treliving got good value to sign two good goaltenders for a combined total of $5.5 M.
- The Flames also reached a two year contract agreement, $2.55 M /season, with forward Sam Bennett. Bennett, a former 4th overall draft pick of the Flames back in 2014, had 27 points in 71 games in the 2018-19 season. He’s not panned out like a forth overall draft pick but has turned into a character bottom 6 forward. He says his goal is still to be a top 6 forward at the NHL level. He’s 23 years old with four full NHL season’s of experience.
- MLSE is reportedly investing millions of dollars upgrading and improving Scotiabank Arena both inside and the areas close to the building. MSLE is not disclosing how much the reno’s are costing but the overall goal is to make the MSLE team’s and fan experience world class. Seems with the Raptors championship MSLE got a taste of how exciting winning can be for a city and organization.
- Last seasons back-up goaltender, Garret Sparks, was dealt to Vegas for a 4th round draft pick in 2020 plus retired player David Clarkson’s contract. Apparently adding Clarkson’s contract, $5.2 M for one more season, has to do with LTIR (long term injury reserve) and saving cap dollars. It’s a bit of a loophole in the CBA that seems to confuse fans (why trade for the contract of Clarkson who is retired?). There is some part in the CBA to do with cap accrual that I haven’t got totally understood. Experts said with this Clarkson move, seems to be an indication the Leafs are preparing for the chance Marner doesn’t sign by game one of the regular season on October 2.
- The Leafs also recently signed the following players:
- Pontus Aberg (1 yr 700k)
- Kenny Agostino (2 yr $737.5k)
- Tyler Gaudet (1 yr 2-way $700k)
- Kalle Kossila (2 yr 2-way $700k)
- Nick Shore (1 yr $750k)
- Garrett Wilson (1 yr $725k)
- Kevin Gravel (1 yr $700k)
- Aberg recorded 25 points in 59 NHL games between Anaheim & Minnesota in the 2018-19 season so he could be a possible part time Leafs forward but the rest of the signings look to be AHL players.
- At the recent World Junior Summer Shawcase tournament in Plymouth, Michigan, Leafs second rounder Nick Robertson reportedly exceeded expectations. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and head coach Mike Babcock both attended the tournament and Dubas was quoted as saying they were very happy with the player adding he’s very focused and determined. Robertson represented Team USA. Apparently there were enough players at the event for two USA teams and after the first two days, the Americans cut their roster down to one team and Robertson made the top 6 group forwards on final team.
- Team Sweden’s head coach at the World Juniors Summer Showcase, Tomas Monten, said he hopes Leafs first rounder Rasmus Sandin is available for the 2020 World Juniors on December 26, 2019. Does not seem likely Sandin, 19, will be playing in the NHL in the 2019-20 season as consensus seems to be both he and 20 year old Swede Timothy Liljegren need one more year in the AHL.
- The team signed former Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth to a training camp professional try out (PTO). They also signed former Wild/Flyers forward Matt Read to a training camp PTO. Read spent last season with the Wild’s AHL team in Iowa and played 12 games with the Wild. He has played in 449 NHL games, mostly with the Flyers. I don’t expect he’ll make the Leafs.
- Not sure what the Leafs are planning for their back-up goaltender position. Names in consideration for the position include:
- Michael Hutchison
- Michal Neuvirth
- Kasimir Kaskisuo
- The team needs a decent back-up as Andersen can get worn down when he plays too much. Of these three goaltenders, Neuvirth seems to have an edge. The Leafs don’t have a lot of cap room to spend.
- The team’s goalie of the future is clearly Ian Scott (4th rounder from 2017) who won the Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL & QMJHL) goaltender of the year in 2019. He’ll play with the Marlies in 2019-20.
- With the addition of defenseman Jordan Schmaltz from St. Louis for Andreas Borgman, the team now has the follow right shot defenseman:
- Tyson Barrie
- Cody Ceci
- Justin Holl
- Timothy Liljegren
- Schmaltz, 25, was drafted in the first round, 25th overall in 2012, but has just 42 games (zero goals and 5 assists) of NHL experience. I expect he’ll need time in the AHL before being given a look with the Leafs. His younger brother is Nick Schmaltz of the Arizona Coyotes.
- I’ve heard nothing on Jake Gardiner and can just assume the offers so far are not what he was expecting. The back problem he struggled with last season has really affected his market value. Some people are suggesting he’ll sign a one or two year deal to re-establish his value but it’s not clear which teams may have interest. Anaheim, Colorado, Arizona were some of the teams interested in Shattenkirk after he was bought out so I assume there would be interest in Gardiner from some these teams. Some people still link Gardiner to the Leafs but they can’t afford him if they reach and an agreement with Marner.
- The Flames bought out the final year of defenseman Michael Stone’s contract which is $3.5 M. The buyout gets the team $2.33 M of cap space that they need to get RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk signed. Michael Stone is Mark Stone’s brother and he struggled with injuries (blood clots) all of last season. He recently turned 29 so still has some hockey left it would seem. He cleared through waivers so may have to look to Europe or sign a training camp PTO with an NHL team.
- The Rangers bought out the final 2 years of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s contract. In 119 Rangers games over two season’s, Shattenkirk recorded 7 goals and 44 assists for 51 points with a -29 plus/minus. He was due to make $6.65 M in each of the remaining two years so he now gets two thirds of that over four seasons.
- Shattenkirk signed a one year, $1.75 M, contract with Tampa Bay on Monday. The deal include a “no trade” clause. Other teams that were reportedly interested in signing him include the Leafs, Coyotes, Anaheim, Colorado and Winnipeg. Shatttenkirk was not happy being bought out and says he’ll be a motivated player in the new, 2019-20 season.
Odds & Ends
- Ottawa Senators Chief Marketing Officer, Aimee Deziel, has reportedly left the organization after about one year in the role. Dezial’s responsibilities included communicating the organization’s plans to the media plus reaching out and connecting with fans. It’s not clear why she left but it’s just another executive that has been unable to make much progress in the Senators organization.
- Seattle GM Ron Francis said the other day expect a Seattle team name to be announced in the first part of 2020. Team colors will be announced around the same time. I’ve seen a lot of red associated with the Seattle team.
- Oilers assistant captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going into his ninth NHL season, all with Edmonton, and over that time has had 7 different head coaches and 5 different GM’s.
- Former Leafs forward Dominic Moore has a yearly summer charity ping pong tournament that was recently, in it’s 8th consecutive year running, held in Toronto called Smashfest that recently went over the $1 M mark of cash raised to fund concussion and cancer research. Twenty NHL players showed up to play in this year’s event including Freddy Andersen and Mark Scheifele. Moore lost his wife to a rare form of liver cancer in 2013. A million dollars raised is an amazing milestone for something that was informally started by a player who took action towards helping others.
A few news items from around the NHL. I wrote most of these notes before the July 1 UFA signing frenzy, to see who signed where and for how much look here.
- Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5 M. The cap floor is $60.2 M. The salary cap for the 2018-19 season was $79.5 M and $75 M in 2017-18. Some experts say when the USA TV deal, signed in 2011 for $2 B for 10 years with NBC Sports expires in 2021, the cap will increase by a greater percentage than in the past few years.
- The League announced that Montreal will host the 2019-20 Entry Draft. The event will be held on June 26 & 27, 2020 at the Bell Center. Quebec native Alexis Lafreniere is expected to go first overall. This past season playing for Rimouski in the QMJHL, Lafreniere recorded 37 goals and 68 assists for 105 points in 61 games.
- Cuban-American billionaire Alex Meruelo was approved as the majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes at the recent Board of Governors meeting that was held in Las Vegas. Former Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway retains a 5% ownership position. The sale will officially close sometime in July 2019.
- Some of the recent rule changes were announced in the past two weeks including:
- After a PP or icing, the offensive team gets to pick which side the face-off in the offensive zone will occur on.
- 3rd coaches challenge added (in addition to goalie interference and off-side) – for missed stoppages of play in offensive zone leading to a goal such as illegal hand pass, missed high stick, missed puck hitting the out of play protective netting. If a coach calls for a video review and the call is not overturned, a 2 min penalty is assessed and if they are wrong on a second challenge, a double minor is assessed. Also, for major and match penalties, the ref who made the call can review it at the penalty box after they assessed the penalty and confirm it but at least a minor penalty would be assessed. The on ice officials have final call. Commissioner Bettman added the two minute and four minute penalties for failed coaches challenge have been introduced to deter coaches from overusing challenges. Bettman said the objective with the coaches challenges is for it to be used for clear missed calls only.
- The Oak View Group announced that Palm Springs is the location for their new AHL franchise. The AHL entry fee is $5 M which Oak View Group will be paying plus they need to build a new arena (the whole Seattle NHL team project is completely privately funded). The whole securing of an AHL location was something now Oilers coach Dave Tippett worked on before he left the Seattle franchise. The new Palm Springs arena is in the downtown area of the city and the land is owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (the new building will be built on tribal land). Live Nation (entertainment company) is a partner on the arena deal and will bring live entertainment events to the new building. Construction of the new building is planed to start in February 2020 and the new building will seat 10,000 fans.
- Former NHL goaltender Sean Burke interviewed with Seattle for their vacant GM position. Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito was also in the running for the position but decided he wanted to remain with the Columbus organization. Another name that gets mentioned, though I don’t believe he’s been interviewed, is former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. His contract with Carolina expired on July 1, 2019 (he was in a private real estate business position after leaving the Hurricanes GM role but I am not sure he is still doing that) and there is some talk he wants to get back into the NHL in a management position. He was a co-GM at the spring World Hockey Championships for Team Canada. The Oak View Group has said they’ll hire a GM as soon as this summer, if they find the right person.
- Oak View Group CEO Tod Leiweke was at the Entry Draft in Vancouver with a Seattle contingent as Seattle is hoping to host an Entry Draft as soon as June 2021. Seattle also has to hold an expansion draft in advance of their first season, mostly likely in September of 2021, so it’s not clear if it’s plausible that they’d hold both before playing their first NHL game.
- Seattle hired Alexandra Mandrycky as Director of Hockey Adminstration. Mandrycky, 28, was with the Minnesota Wild for a time doing hockey analytics and player evaluation. Tod Leiweke said recently Mandrycky will have input into the team’s GM hire process. Mandrycky has an Engineering degree from Georgia Tech.
- The KeyArena renovations are in the interior building demolition stage and all indications are that things are progressing on schedule.
- The Anaheim Ducks have promoted Dave Nonis to assistant GM. His previous title was consultant to GM Bob Murray. Also with the Ducks, David McNab has been promoted to Senior VP of Hockey Operations & has signed a 2 year contract extension.
- The GM of the Year, Don Waddell, does not have a contract in place for the 2019-20 season but has verbally agreed to stay in the role as Hurricanes General Manager. Waddell said he and owner Tom Dundon have a good working relationship but have yet to agree to a new contract. The Hurricanes have added 3,000 new season tickets holders since the start of last season.
- The St. Louis Blues announced a 3 year contract agreement with head coach Craig Berube. No dollars figures were disclosed.
- Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol joined the Leafs as an assistant coach on Mike Babcock’s staff. Hakstol joins Paul McFarland Leafs assistant coaches. Hakstol will focus on the defense while McFarland will work with the forwards and PP group.
- The New York Islanders added former Leafs assistant coach Jim Hiller as an assistant coach on head coach Barry Trotz’s staff. Hiller is a noted expert on running the PP.
- Former St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne joins the Ottawa Senators as an assistant coach on head coach DJ Smith’s staff. With Jack Capuano and now Payne, the Senators have two former head coaches on their coaching staff. Payne was most recently an assistant coach on Sabres then head coach Phil Housley’s staff and, before that, was an assistant coach with the LA Kings where he won a Stanley Cup in 2014.
- Arizona hired former Sabres head coach Phil Housley as an assistant coach on Rick Tocchet’s staff. Housley will work the Coyotes defense group. Before being the Sabres head coach the past two seasons, Housley was an assistant coach in Nashville where he was responsible for the team’s defense group. Coyotes GM John Chakya said he was very happy to add Housley as he had other offers and chose to work with the Coyotes. Head coach Rick Tocchet added the Coyotes want to play and up-tempo style and Housley will be key in training the defense group to move the puck from the d zone to the forwards quickly.
- The Oilers added former Arizona Coyotes assistant coach Jim Playfair as one of Oilers head coach Dave Tippett’s assistant coaches. Playfair will be responsible for the Oilers defense group. Playfair was a Tippett assistant coach with the Coyotes from 2011 to 2017.
- The Los Angeles Kings added Trent Yawney as an assistant coach on head coach Todd McLellan’s staff. Yawney will reportedly work with the Kings defense group. It’s Yawney’s forth Pacific Division team that he’s been an assistant coach on. Yawney joins Kings assistant coach Marco Sturm and goaltending coach Bill Ranford on Kings head coach Todd McLellan’s staff.
- The Coyotes also added former player Scott Walker, who was the Canucks Director of Player Development for the past four years, as a special assistant to GM John Chayka. They also promoted Jake Goldberg to AGM and Phil McRae to Director of North American Scouting. Also, Brian Stewart was appointed to Director of Pro Scouting. It’s not clear if the sale to new owner Alex Meruelo has any effect on the Coyotes front office hires.
- The Flyers added former player Nick Schultz as a Player Development Coach. Schultz played for the Flyers from 2014-17 plus played for the Minnesota Wild when Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher was there as GM.
- The Nashville Predators added former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi as a Defense Development coach. They also added Sebastien Bordeleau as a Player Development coach and Dave Rook as a Goaltending coach. Rook had been a consultant to Nashville for the past 5 seasons. Rook was previously a goaltending coach with the OHL London Knights for 6 seasons as well as with St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets.
- The Minnesota Wild added former player Matt Hendricks as Assistant Director of Player Development. Hendricks will work with the Wild Director of Player Developer, Brad Bombardier, and assist in player evaluation and implement programs to continue player development in the Wild organization. Hendricks just recently announced his retirement as an NHL player.
- Ottawa Senators added former player Clarke MacArthur in their Player Development Dept. MacArthur will work part time with the Senators players and prospects. MacArthur was recently on the ice coaching at the Senators summer development camp. MacArthur had an abrupt end to his playing career due to concussion problems so it’s good to see him back in the game.
- Former NHL player Steven Reinprecht has joined the Avs front office in a player development role. Reinprecht was also recently coaching at the Avs summer development camp.
- Anaheim Ducks added former player Francois Beauchemin in their player development department that is run by Director Todd Marchant.
- Charlotte Checkers AGM/Director of Hockey Operations/head coach Mike Vellucci has left the Hurricanes organization to join the Penguins as head coach of their AHL team, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. Vellucci won the Coach of the Year award in the AHL and delivered Charlotte their first Calder Cup this past season. Vellucci was with the Charlotte organization for the past 5 seasons and, before that, spent 14 years coaching in the OHL (Plymouth Whalers) where Pens current GM Rutherford oversaw the team (when he was GM with Carolina & former Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos owned the Whalers). With Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan entering the final year of his contract, it will be interesting to see how the 2019-20 season plays out in Pittsburgh.
- Canucks GM Jim Benning enters the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. No word from the organization if they plan to talk to him about an extension.
- Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is also entering the final year of his contract. In 191 games as Bruins head coach, Cassidy has a record of 117-52-0-22. GM Don Sweeney said they plan to extend Cassidy.
- Former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is apparently in discussions with multiple teams about a front office position. The Vancouver Canucks are one team that have said they’ve talked to Chiarelli. Canucks GM Jim Benning and Chiarelli worked together in the Bruins front office in the past.
Entry Draft 2019
- In the first round, by position, there were 11 centers, 11 defenseman, 5 RW, LW 4 and 1 goaltender selected.
- Apparently trade discussions were fairly quiet at the draft. The GM’s just had just received their team cap number, $81.5 M, the evening before.
- Some of the Canadian teams first round selections:
- Canucks (10th overall): Russian Vasili Podkolzin (6’0” / 190 pounds) was ranked as high as 4th going into the draft. Starred for Russia at the summer Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Team captain, led the tournament with 8 goals and 11 points in 5 games. Has 2 years left on his contract in the Russian league and says he wants to stay in Russia before playing in the NHL. Expected to play for Russia at the Christmas time World Juniors that are in the Czech Republic.
- Oilers (8th overall): Swedish defenseman Phillip Broberg. Experts says he could be like Oilers number one defenseman Oscar Klefbom but better. Six foot four and 200 pounds, 18 years old, with elite level skating ability. Broberg is eligible to play in the AHL in the 2019-20 season or back home in Sweden. Sounds like it could be Sweden where he’ll represent his country at the World Juniors Tournament in December/January.
- Flames (26th overall): Jakob Pelletier a small (5’9” & 160 pounds), speedy and skilled winger. Recorded 39 goals and 50 assists (89 points) in 65 games with Moncton of the QMJHL this past season.
- Winnipeg (20th overall ) – this is the first round pick acquired in the Trouba trade and the Jets took a Finnish defenseman named Ville Heinola. Heinola said he models his game after fellow Finn Miro Heiskanen. Heinola recorded 14 points on 2 goals in 34 games in a Finnish league in 2018-19.
- Leafs (2nd round, #53 overall) – Nick Robertson a 5 foot 9 LW who, with the OHL Peterborough Petes this season, had 27 goals and 28 assists for 54 points in 55 games played. Robertson was born in Michigan. Said to be a shifty, strong forechecker with good offensive skills.
- Montreal (15th overall) – Cole Caufield. 29 goals and 12 assists for 41 points in 28 games playing for the USA National Development Program. One scout said he’ll score more goals at the NHL level than Alex DeBrincat but I don’t believe that myself (.42 goals per game at age 19 and 20 in his first two NHL seasons for DeBrincat).
- The Red Wings made the first surprise pick going with a German born defenseman named Moritz Seider at 6th overall. He was rated #15 going into draft weekend. Seider is reportedly both strong offensively and defensively plus has high end hockey sense. Reportedly impressed at the Wings recent summer development camp.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted another Foote – as in former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote’s kid, Nolan. Nolan went 27th overall and this recent season with Kelowna of the WHL recorded 36 G & 27 A for 63 points in 66 games played. The ‘Bolts already have Nolan’s brother, Cal Foote (2017 /14th overall), a defenseman that played the recent season for the Lightning AHL team in Syracuse (31 points in in 76 games on 10 goals). Nolan signed his 3 year entry level contract four days after the end of the entry draft.
- The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to match the offer sheet presented to Sebastian Aho. Montreal offered Aho a 5 year deal at $8.454 M with a lot of the money paid in July 1 signing bonuses. The talk was Aho was looking for $9 M – $9.5 M on a long term deal with the Hurricanes but no deal between the Hurricanes and Aho was close to being signed. Aho signed the offer sheet from Montreal which means Carolina has one week to match. The five year term walks Aho right into UFA status at age 26 (same deal Auston Matthews got) which Hurricanes GM Don Waddell admitted was not something they would have done.
- The Wild are trying to reach an agreement with defenseman Jared Spurgeon, 29, who is one year from UFA status. Spurgeon recorded 43 points in 82 games while playing an average of over 24 minutes/game this past season with the Wild. He’ll make $5.187 M in the final year of his deal in 2019-20.
- The Wild have the oldest roster in the league and just signed 32 year old Mats Zuccarello for 5 years at $6 M. It was a move that surprised some people.
- Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall 2016) has apparently asked the team for a trade. Oilers GM Ken Holland said he only make deals that benefit the team so if he can’t work out a trade for the player that benefits the team, Puljujarvi won’t be dealt. Puljujarvi’s agent spoke out and said Jesse won’t play in Edmonton in the 2019-20 season saying if he’s not traded he’ll play in Europe but his first choice to play in the NHL. The player is currently rehabilitating from surgery he had on both his hips but sounds like he’s recovering well. Puljujarvi turned 21 years old in May. Oilers GM Holland is reportedly asking for a top prospect from another team in return for Puljujarvi.
- San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton says he plans to return for the 2019-20 season and he’s not looking at it as his final year saying he hopes to play as long as he enjoys it. GM Doug Wilson said Thornton, 40, is an inspiration to his teammates and they are very happy he’ll return in 2019-20.
- Was reported Monday night that Vegas is shopping Russian forward Nikita Gusev. Gusev recorded 82 points in 62 games in the KHL this season is suppose to be the top player that is not in the NHL currently. Vegas signed him to a one year deal and near season’s end and he did not get into a single NHL game. He’s is now a 26 year old RFA. The Golden Knights have apparently tried to reach a contract agreement with him but they are not close and Vegas is right up against the $81.5 M salary cap. Gusev is suppose to be looking for about $3.5 M – $4 M / season on a multi year deal.
- The Sharks would like to apparently move back-up goaltender Aaron Dell who has one year remaining on his contract at $1.9 M. Dell did not have a strong 2018-19 season; his goals against average was 3.17 and SV%.886.
- With Joe Pavelski leaving the Sharks for the Dallas Stars (3 years at $7 M /season), some experts believe Logan Couture will be named the next Sharks captain. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said head coach Peter DeBoer will choose who will be the Sharks new captain.
- New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall, one season from UFA, is expected to play out the 2019-20 season with the Devils and do his UFA situation in the same manner Leafs star John Tavares did, that is look at offers and decide in the few days leading up to July 1, 2020. All indications point to him not negotiating with the Devils during the upcoming season. Hall has said his number one objective when looking at his options on July 1, 2020 is a chance to win a Cup; so far in his nine year NHL career, he’s played in just 5 playoff games (last season with New Jersey).
- Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk, one year from UFA status, is apparently being shopped around the league. Faulk, 27, had 35 points in 82 ‘Canes games in 2018-19 while playing 22.5 minutes/game.
- Winnipeg Jets 22 year old center Jack Roslovic (a Columbus native) is an RFA and needs a new contract. Apparently, he recently fired his Columbus-based agent who had represented him for over 6 years because he wants a solution to his lack of playing time at the NHL level. Roslovic was drafted 25th overall in 2015. In the 2018-19 season, the recorded 9 goals and 15 assists for 24 points which averaging 9:45 mins/game. Roslovic is now represented by former NHL’er Claude Lemieux.
- Former 1st rounder Patrik Berglund is trying to catch on with an NHL team. Berglund, part of the Ryan O’Reilly deal that saw him go to Buffalo from St. Louis, went home to Sweden before Christmas (2018) because he said he lost interest in playing. No word if any team is willing to give him an opportunity. In 23 games with the Sabres this past season, he recorded 2 goals and 2 assists. Berglund was drafted 25th overall in 2006.
Star Class of 22/23 year old RFA’s
- Some say the star RFA’s are looking to see what Leafs Mitch Marner signs for. Some of these top 22/23 year old RFA starts include:
- Lightning Brayden Point (41 G & 51 A for 92 points in 79 games played) 1.16 PPG as a 22 year old
- GM Julian BrisBrois said at the draft the two sides continue to work at it but they are not yet close to a deal. Talk is the team would like to do a 2-3 year deal while the player was hoping for something in the 5 year range. Point has been clear that he really wants to stay with the Lightning organization. He recorded two less points than Marner so Point would be in about the $9 M /season range. As a center, some say his value would exceed that of a winger like Marner.
- Avs Mikko Rantanen (87 points in 74 games, 1.17 PPG as a 22 year old)
- Avalanche GM Joe Sakic and Mikko Rantanen’s agent, Mike Luit, are trying work out a new contract for the RFA forward. Doesn’t sound like a deal is near but talks are cordial. Rantanen recorded 87 points in 74 games in the 2018-19 season for the Avs. The Avs have the most cap room of any NHL team at $27 M so that part is not an issue.
- Flames Matthew Tkachuk (77 points in 80 games on 34 goals)
- GM Brad Treliving is trying to bridge the gap in Tkachuk’s asking price and what the team is willing to pay. No numbers have be disclosed publicly but would seem the number to get the player signed would be about $8 M /season. There is some discussion as to whether the Flames will bridge the player, i.e. sign him to a shorter term deal. If I had to guess based on some of Treliving comments, it will be a 4-5 year deal and not the max 8. Flames initially said they didn’t not want a player to exceed Mark Giordano’s $6.75 M/season (same as Johnny Gaudreau) but Tkachuk’s new deal will for sure make him the highest paid Flames player.
- Canucks Brock Boeser (26 G & 30 A)
- Word is Boeser is looking for about $7.5 M on a 4 or 5 year deal. A contract agreement is reportedly not close but talks are progressing.
- Sharks Timo Meier (66 points on 30 goals in 2018-19)
- The Sharks reached a 4 year contract agreement with Meier at an annual rate of $6 M which is an excellent team-friendly deal. Meier, 22, had a very good post season and has developed into a top player on the team. Thirty goals and thirty six assists for 66 points in 78 games plus 15 points in 20 post season games.
- Jets forward Kyle Connor
- Other teams reached out to Connor during the RFA speaking window but the player wants to remain in Winnipeg. Thirty four goals and 66 points this past season for 22 year old Connor.
- Jets forward Patrik Laine (30 goals and 50 points)
- Expected to sign a bridge deal with the Jets as in a short term deal, 3-5 years. Jets are trying to develop Laine’s overall game as he’s been, so far, a goal scorer that lacks some value when the goals are not going in.
- Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (26 points in 82 games) 22 years old. Went 7th overall in 2015. Averages 25 minutes a game.
- Apparently, the Flyers and the agent for Provorov are not close at all in the financial valuation of the player.
- Leafs Mitch Marner (94 points in 82 games on 26 goals)
- The players agent and GM Dubas are trying to find common ground somewhere between $9 M -$11 M per season range. Sounds like it will be a 4-5 year term and not a max, 8 year term. The player wants to be compensated the same as Auston Matthews, 5 years for $11.6 M, but the organization sees him more in the Mark Stone/Nikita Kucherov, $9.5 M /season, range. Teams did reach out to Marner during the RFA speaking window but, so far, no team is willing to do an offer sheet where the Leafs, if they didn’t match, they’d get four first round picks. Sounds like discussions were more around gauging his interest in moving on from the Leafs.
Hockey Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees
- Builders Category
- Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. Won a Cups with 2 different franchises, Carolina (1) and the Penguins (2). He’s just the 7th person since NHL expansion in 1967-68 to achieve that.
- Jerry York – 1,000 wins as a NCAA college coach at Boston College
- Players Category
- Hayley Wickenheiser – she won 4 Olympic goal medals. Is the Leafs assistant director of player development. Also working on completing a medical degree from University of Calgary.
- Sergei Zubov – some say the greatest Russian born defenseman to ever play in the NHL. Zubov is 2nd in points for a Russian born NHL defenseman with 771 (Sergei Gonchar had 811 points).
- Guy Carbonneau – 3 Cups, two with Montreal and one with Dallas, one of the top defensive forward all-time. Won the Selke award 3 times (1988, 1989 and 1992)
- Vaclav Nedomansky – former LA Kings pro scout and played 421 NHL games (122 G & 156 A) back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
- Daniel Alfredsson was eligible as was Vincent Lecavalier and Patrik Elias but they were not selected.
- Vezina (Top goaltender): Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning goaltender enters the 2019-20 season on the final year of his contract and experts say he could be in the $9 M range for his next deal. He’s the top goaltender in the league and he’s just 24 years old. He already holds the Lightning franchise record for shutouts in the regular season with 18.
- Flames captain Mark Giordano was the first Flames player to win a Norris trophy for the league’s top defenseman. Gio was the forth player to win the award at age 35 or older (Nick Lidstrom, Al MacInnis and Doug Harvey the others). Gio received 96.5% of the first place votes.
- St. Louis Blues forward and Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly became the first player since Bob Gainey back in the 1978-79 season to win the Selke trophy (top defensive forward) and Conn Smythe (playoffs MVP) in the same season.
- Islanders head coach Barry Trotz became just the 6th person to win the Jack Adams for Coach of the Year twice.
- Wild forward Jason Zucker, winner of the King Clancy award for humanitarian work, said at the awards he wants to go to a team that wants him. Zucker has been mentioned in trade going back to last season. He was in a Flames deal (Michael Frolik for Zucker at the trade deadline) that fell through at the last minute and also in the Phil Kessel to Minnesota deal that Kessel veto’ed.
- The League’s first and second all-star teams were announced at the awards:
- First Team
- Second Team
- All Rookie Team
- Anthony Cirelli-Elias Pettersson-Brady Tkachuk
- Rasmus Dahlin-Miro Heiskanen
- Jordan Binnington
- The Penguins dealt Phil Kessel, Dane Birksand a 2021 4th round draft pick to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph (23rd overall in 2017). No salary was retained by either team. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said Kessel asked for a trade multiple times this past season but Kessel denies that. There was talk since the end of the regular season the Penguins wanted to move a core player. From the Arizona side, Coyotes GM John Chayka said because Galchenyuk is one season from UFA, they could of lost him for nothing at the end of the 2019-20 season. Kessel apparently has a very good relationship with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet. Tocchet was a Penguins assistant coach before taking the head coaching position with the Coyotes at the start of the 2018-19 season. The Coyotes identified goal scoring at the top area they were looking to improve on this off-season. Based on his 2018-19 points, Kessel would of led the Coyotes in points by 35. Kessel, 31, has 3 seasons left on his contract at $6.8 M /season. He didn’t have to waive his no trade clause as part of the deal as Arizona was not on his “no trade” list. Galchenyuk, 25, has one year left at $4.9 M. Kessel is four games from 1,000 for his career (823 points). He won two Cups with the Penguins.
- San Jose signed defenseman Erik Karlsson to a max 8 year deal at an annual average value (cap hit) of $11.5 M, $92 M total. Because Karlsson re-signed with San Jose, Ottawa receives a 2nd round draft pick in 2021. Some experts were surprised GM Wilson gave Karlsson a max term as the highest paid defenseman. This past season, Karlsson struggled all season with injuries.
- Former Rangers and Jets forward Kevin Hayes signed a 7 year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was going to be a July 1, 2019 UFA. It’s 7 seasons at $7.14 M /season. The deal includes a full no move clause in the first 3 seasons plus draft expansion protection and a modified no trade clause (12 teams he can’t be traded to) for the remaining 4 seasons. Hayes’, 27, highest point total in 5 full NHL seasons is 49 but he shows improvement year over year. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said Hayes is a top “200 foot player” who is skilled both offensively and defensively. Hayes is apparently also very good on the PK as well.
- Former Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba was finally dealt landing with the New York Rangers (the deal is Trouba for Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk and the Rangers first round draft pick in 2019 which turned into 18 year old Finnish defenseman Ville Heinola) . Trouba, 25, was a RFA but wanted a trade to an American city as his fiancee is in medical school and wanted to work in the ‘States. The Rangers and Trouba are apparently in discussion about a long term deal, expected to be a max 7 year contract, at a rate of about $7.5 M – $8 M /season. Trouba was 13th in defenseman points last season with 50. The Rangers have really managed their re-build well starting from bringing in Boston College hockey coach David Quinn to drafting Kaapo Kakko (2019, 2nd overall) plus adding top prospect defenseman Adam Fox in a trade with the Hurricanes. Forward Lias Andersson (7th overall in 2017) is expected to be an NHL star. Also, their first rounder from 2018 (9th overall), Vitali Kravtsov, is a highly rated young player. Rangers 28 goal scorer Chris Kreider is one year from being unrestricted. The organization values his goal scoring ability and have discussed a new deal with him but it’s not clear if they’ll be able to agree on terms. Head coach David Quinn said at the draft the Rangers are aiming to get back in the post-season in the 2019-20 season.
- Vegas signed forward William Karlsson, 26, to a max 8 year deal at an average annual rate of $5.9 M /season. Vegas has no state income tax so it’s a popular place to play for the players. Karlsson apparently really wanted a max term deal and the team pushed for a lower AAV and the two sides reach a deal. Karlsson recorded 56 points on 24 goals in the 2018-19 season. The contract includes clause of 10 team’s he can’t be traded to.
- The Cup champs Blues signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a two year contract at an annual rate of $1.75 M. He was a July 1 UFA.
- The Canadiens signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a two year contract at an annual rate of $1.5 M /season. Reilly recorded 3 goals and 11 points in 57 games in 2018-19.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a 2 year deal at a AAV of $1.7 M. Coburn, 34, was a July 1 UFA. He made $3.7 M last season. The Lightning are one of the teams that are need every dollar of cap space as they have to yet sign Brayden Point.
- The Sharks, another cap team will cap problems, traded defenseman Justin Braun to the Flyers for the Flyers second round draft pick in 2019 plus the Flyers 2020 third round draft pick. Braun played 9 season in San Jose recording 154 points on 25 goals. The move was related to the Sharks signing of Erik Karlsson (8 years at $11.5 M /season) as the Sharks don’t have enough cap room for all their good players.
- The Dallas Stars placed forward Val Nichushkin on waivers to allow them to buy out his contract that has one year left. Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall in 2013. In 57 games this past season, the Russian forward recorded zero goals and 10 assists. He returned to the NHL at the start of the 2018-19 season after playing in Russia for 2 seasons. He was due to make $2.95 M in the 2019-20 season but as a less than 27 year old, the player gets just 1/3 of the contract amount paid over 2 seasons. The Stars also didn’t offer forward Brett Ritchie a qualifying offer which makes him a UFA (he signed in Boston for one year at $1 M). Add to the Pitlick trade and the Stars cleared some cap space. Nichushkin’s agent says his client hopes he can sign a contract to play in the NHL for the 2019-20 season.
- Vancouver placed forward Ryan Spooner on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Spooner was due to make $4 M in the upcoming, 2019-20 season. He had 3 goals and 9 points in 52 games with the Canucks, Oilers and Rangers last season. The Canucks cited the recent retirement of Roberto Luongo that saw the Canucks hit with what’s called a “cap recapture penalty” of about $2.2 M that counts against their cap plus with the cap not increasing as much as expected they had to buy out a player.
- The Flyers signed defenseman Travis Sanheim to a bridge deal, 2 years at $3.25 M /season. Sanheim, 23, was a first round selection of the Flyers from back in 2014 (17th overall). In 82 games this past season, he recorded 35 points on 9 goals which was 2nd on the team for points from a defenseman. I heard GM Brad Treliving say it’s positive the Flyers could bridge a 23 year old player adding it’s getting more challenging with young players out of their entry level deal.
- The Flyers also signed veteran goaltender Brian Elliott to a one year, $2 M contract to back-up Carter Hart. GM Chuck Fletcher was also talking to Cam Talbot but Talbot wants to be a #1 not a back-up. Talbot ended up signing a one year deal with the Flames for $2.75 M.
- Bruins defenseman signed Steven Kampfer a 2 year deal at an annual rate of $800,000. Kamper was a July 1, 2019 UFA.
- Anaheim signed goaltender Ryan Miller to a one year deal for $1.125 M. Miller will back-up starter John Gibson. Miller became the winningest USA-born goaltender in history last season.
- Ottawa signed forward Anthony Duclair to a one year deal at $1.65 M. Duclair was an RFA.
- The Flyers bought out defenseman David Schlemko who had one year remaining on his deal ($2.1 M).
- With Sergei Bobrovsky signing with the Panthers, Columbus signed their back-up from last season, Joonas Korpisalo, to a one year contract extension at $1.15 M.
- New Jersey acquired defenseman PK Subban at the draft from Nashville. Going to Nashville were Steven Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies and two second round draft picks. No salary was retained by Nashville which was key for Preds GM David Poile. The Leafs were in discussions with Nashville but I don’t believe could take on all of the $9 M / season Subban is owed. Subban said he is excited about the trade and he’s going to New Jersey to win a Stanley Cup. Subban has three more years left on his contract and should add a lot to the Devils -both on and off the ice. With Nashville, their captain Roman Josi is one year from UFA and GM Poile plans to re-sign him.
- Tampa Bay, needing to clear cap space, traded forward JT Miller to the Canucks for goaltender Marek Mazanec, a third round draft pick (2019) and a conditional first rounder. If the Canucks make the post-season, the Lightning get the Canucks first round draft pick in 2020. If the Canucks don’t make the post-season, the first rounder bumps to 2021. The Lightning needed to clear cap space as they’ll have to pay RFA forward Brayden Point between $8 M and $9 M on a new deal.
- Chicago acquired defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela from Carolina in exchange for goaltender Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling. De Haan recorded 13 assists in 74 regular season game in the 2018-19 season. Apparently the Hurricanes were looking to shed salary in the deal with an eye to other possible moves. Chicago was looking to improve their defense with experienced defenders that are good on the PK and and this trade, plus adding Olli Maatta earlier this summer, are steps in that direction.
- Dallas acquired forward Ryan Hartman, 24, from the Flyers in exchange for center Tyler Pitlick. Hartman had 26 points last season on 12 goals while Pitlick recorded 12 points on 8 goals. Pitlick has one year left on his contract, at $1 M/season, at which point he’ll be a UFA. Hartman was acquired by the Flyers at the trade deadline is an RFA so he needs a new contract. Hartman was not issued a qualifying offer by the Stars so is a July 1 UFA but Stars GM Jim Nill is reportedly still interested in signing the player. Pitlick, 27, is a physical/energy player than can make a play if an opportunity presents. In 47 games this past season, he recorded 8 goals and 4 assists while averaging 13 mins/game.
- Vegas dealt forward Erik Haula to the Hurricanes for forward Nicolas Ray and a conditional 5th round pick in 2021. Haula, 28, played in just 15 games in the recent season as he suffered a leg injury in a game against the Leafs in Toronto. Haula scored a double OT winner against LA in the first round of Vegas’ first ever playoff series against LA. It was another cap clearing move by Vegas.
- Vegas also dealt defenseman Colin Miller to the Sabres for a second round draft pick in 2021 and a 5th rounder in 2022. Miller’s name has been mentioned in trade for a while. Vegas President of Hockey Operations, George McPhee, said they are looking to promote one of their young prospect to replace Miller adding they want to give the young players hope that they can make the NHL club with hard work and patience. Miller, 26, has three seasons left at $3.875 M. Vegas is about $1 M over the cap even with this deal but the trade was, in part, about getting their cap under the $81.5 M limit.
- The Capitals traded forward Andre Burakovsky to Colorado for forward Scott Kosmachuk and a 2020 second round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.
- Avs traded forward Carl Soderberg to Arizona for defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 2020 third round draft pick. Avs GM Joe Sakic said the deal was about getting some of the young Avs centers like Tyson Jost & JT Compher more playing time. Both Jost (10th overall in 2016) and Compher has good post-seasons.
- Florida traded goaltender James Reimer to Carolina for Scott Darling and a 6th round draft pick. The Panthers then bought out Darling making him a UFA. Reimer had spent the past 3 seasons with the Panthers and struggled a bit in 2018-19 with a 13-12-5 record and a 3.09 GAA with a .900 SV%. Reimer has two years left on his contract at $3.4 M /season. The Panthers saved $2.17 M on their cap in 2019-20 and $1.07 M in 2020-21.
- Leafs shook up their roster a lot so far this off-season.
- Going out:
- Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Ron Hainsey and Tyler Ennis to Ottawa.
- Calle Rosen to Colorado
- New additions:
- Cody Ceci, Jason Spezza (says his dream as a Toronto-born player would be to win a Cup as a Leaf), Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot
- GM Kyle Dubas said he’s taking a page from the Raptors and going for a championship in 2019-20.
- Nazem Kadri had been the longest serving player on the Leafs roster. A former Leafs GM Brian Burke draft pick, 7th overall, back in 2009 he seemed like a loyal player and was proud to be a Leaf. Avs GM Joe Sakic said he was looking to add some scoring depth and Kadri adds that. Sakic said Kadri will be the Avs second line center.
- Tyson Barrie is a terrific offensive defenseman; he recorded 59 points in 78 games in 2018-19 and stood out in the post-season. The Leafs will only have him for one season, though, as he’s a UFA on July 1, 2020. The Leafs are paying only $2.75 M of Barrie’s $5.5 M salary. The Avs pay the rest as per terms of the trade. As a comparison, Ottawa is paying defenseman Ron Hainsey $3.5 M for next season.
- New Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot (15 G & 27 A) is expected to file for arbitration (he’s an RFA) and should get about $3 M /season on a new deal.
- Morgan Rielly is the only Leafs defenseman under contract after next season. The organization’s need to shore up their blueline will remain an issue for the foreseeable future.
- New defenseman Cody Ceci needs a new contract as an RFA. The Senators tried to sign him but apparently the two sides were not close to a deal.
- Three of the Leafs most consistent players on the penalty kill, Brown, Hainsey and Zaitsev are gone so the team may need to address that.
- The Leafs expect 24 year old Russian forward Ilya Mikheyev (six foot two, 190 lbs) to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Babcock said the other day, the player is a big part of the future of the team. He signed a one year deal ($925,000) in May and was in the KHL the past few seasons. He recorded 45 points on 23 goals in 62 games this past season with Avangard Omsk in the KHL.
- GM Dubas used the money that would of been paid to Marleau to sign Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. Kapanen, 22, gets a 3 year deal at $3.2 M /season and Johnsson, 24, got a 4 year deal at $3.4 M. Both players are Marlies graduates and seemed like they really wanted to stay with the Leafs organization.
- Zach Hyman said the other day he is taking baby steps in his recovery from ACL surgery on his knee. He’s not yet been cleared to start skating and said he wants to make sure the knee is 100% healthy before he start getting back on the ice.
- Leafs signed depth players Michael Hutchinson and Martin Marincin. Both contracts are one year at the league minimum, $700,000. Goaltender Hutchison went 2-3-0 with a 2.64 GAA and 1 shutout in 5 starts with the Leafs in 2018-19.
- The Leafs play on opening night of the 2019-20 season, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 against Ottawa at Scotiabank Arena.
- The Leafs lead the league in amount of player salaries paid in July 1 signing bonus money. They pay approx $47 M of an $81.M year cap in July 1 signing bonuses. Trades occur on July 1, such as the Zaitsev move to Ottawa, because the Leafs pay the signing bonus on July 1 ($3 M of his $4.5 M cap number) and Ottawa only pays Zaitsev $1.5 M for the season but $4.5 M counts against Ottawa’s cap. For a team that may not reach the cap floor, it works out well for the Senators. The Sharks payout the second most money in July 1 signing bonuses at about $26 M but it’s half of what the Leafs pay. Even with a hard cap, teams always find ways around it to benefit their organization. It appears to be a cap system that’s fair to all teams, but the reality it some teams can’t pay $81 M in cap dollars (Ottawa/Carolina).
- The Leafs director of sports science and performance Dr. Jeremy Bettle has left MSLE and taken the same role with the Anaheim Ducks organization. His new title with Anaheim is Director of High Performance. Bettle joined the Leafs from the NBA New Jersey Nets in 2015.
- The Canucks organization announced Daniel and Henrik Sedin will have their #22 and #33 jersey’s retired in a ceremony at Rogers Arena sometime in February 2020. The organization will also have a week long celebration of the Sedins during February 2020.
- Retired player Alex Burrows is getting his name inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honor. Burrows will join Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts, Pat Quinn and Mattias Ohlund with the honor.
- GM Jim Benning signed defenseman Alex Edler to a two year contract at $6 M /season. Elder was going to be a July 1, 2019 UFA and has said many times when asked, he only wants to play in Vancouver. Edler’s deal includes a full no move clause for both years of the contract. Canucks head coach Travis Green said he is happy Edler re-signed as he’s still a top defenseman plus is a role model for the Canucks younger players both on and off the ice.
- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement last week. Luongo placed a full page ad in one of the Vancouver newspapers thanking the fans in Vancouver. Luongo is 3rd in all-time goalie wins with 489 (Brodeur has 691 and Patrick Roy has 551) and 2nd in goaltender games played (1,044). Luongo leaves the NHL leading two franchises in all-time wins with the organization, Vancouver (252) and the Florida Panthers (230). Lu is 9th in all-time shutouts with 77 (Brodeur leads that list with 125). Luongo went 4th overall in the 1997 Entry Draft and retires with 3 year remaining on his contract (there was some talk he may go on the Long Term Injury Reserve List).
- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik announced his retirement last week. Orpik had a 15 year NHL career playing 1,035 NHL games and won 2 Cups. Orpik was drafted 18th overall in 2000 by the Penguins after winning an NCAA title at Boston College. Orpik won one Cup with the Penguins, 2009, and one with the Capitals, in 2017-18.
- Former Penguins forward Max Talbot has retired from the League. Talbot played the recent season in the KHL. Talbot is going to work for CAA Hockey (player agency). Talbot was part of the Penguins 2009 Cup winning team.
- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, 34, was diagnosed with a degenerative back problem that will force him to retire. Callahan has one more season left on his contract at $5.8 M but the team will most likely place him on long term injury reserve (LTIR) which provides some portion of cap relief for the team. Callahan had 17 points in 52 games last season for TB.
Odds & Ends
- The Vancouver Canucks are holding their 2019-20 training camp in Victoria.
- Stars GM Jim Nill indicated recently he’s getting calls on defenseman Julius Honka and it sounds like he’ll be moved at some point. Honka was a 1st round, 14th overall, draft pick in 2014 but has not been able to make it full-time at the NHL level. In 29 games in 2018-19, he recorded no goals and four assists.
- Hurricanes captain Justin Williams has not yet decided if he’ll continue his playing career. He said he doesn’t want to move his family again so it seems as though if he doesn’t play with the Hurricanes in 2019-20, he’ll retire.
- Colorado has one of NHL’s top young defense with Cale Makar (4th overall 2017), Bowen Byram (4th overall 2019), Samuel Girard (47th overall 2017) and Conor Timmins (32nd overall 2017).
- Also with the Avs, with goaltender Semyon Varmalov signing with the Islanders as a UFA, GM Sakic says the team will start the season with Philipp Grubauer as the starter and Pavel Francouz as the back-up.
- UFA defenseman Adam McQuaid is still dealing with post concussion symptoms after an Andrew Shaw elbow back 2 months ago. His agent said recently his recovery time is undetermined. McQuaid, 32, ended the season with Columbus but also played with Boston and the Rangers in 2018-19.
- Ottawa has approx $58.6 M in allocated cap space for the 2019-20 season and has to reach the $60.2 cap floor by the start of the new season.