NHL News & Notes to 05 Aug 2019

Some news & notes from around the league. Training camps are scheduled to start mid Sept.

League

  • 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.

Team Management

  • 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.

Scuttlebutt

  • 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.

Unsigned RFA’s

  • 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)

Hockey Canada

  • 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)
    • Defenseman
      • 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)
    • Goalies
      • 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.

Transactions

  • 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.

Leafs

  • 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
    • Schmaltz
    • 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.

Buyouts

  • 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.
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NHL News & Notes to 21 July 2019

League

  • The NHL recently won the League Humanitarian of the Year Award at the recent 5th Annual Sports Humanitarian Awards that were held in Los Angeles. The award recognized the NHL for work they’ve done related to driving social impact by using a variety of different resources.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman accepted the award but credited NHL VP Kim Davies who oversees the NHL’s Learn to Play program as well as Hockey Is For Everyone, who’s aim is to create an inclusive environment for all fans, and Future Goals programs where each team has an initiative to teach kids about math & science. As part of the award, the league gets to donate $100,000 to a charity of their choice.
  • The NHL & NHLPA announced that Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will be going to Beijing, China the week of August 4th, 2019 as an NHL Ambassador. It’s planned that Ovechkin will take part in youth hockey clinics, interviews and business development meetings. Although there will not be an NHL game in China this fall, the NHL is still hoping to continue to grow interest in the league in China. The NHL has so far not committed to sending it’s players to the 2022 Winter Olympics that are taking place in China.
  • The league is encouraged by the growing popularity of their esports initiative. The league has doubled viewership over it’s first season and is reaching an important younger and more tech savvy segment of the population. Good article here with Commissioner Bettman quotes.
  • Player arbitration hearings are being held in Toronto from July 20 – Aug. 4th. Seems most of the arbitration hearings are settled before they reach an arbitrator. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba had file but settled, Flames goaltender David Rittich filed and the team and player’s agent are working on trying to reach a contract agreement (his arbitration hearing is July 29), Flames forward Sam Bennett filed (July 27 arb hearing) as did New Jersey 24 year old defenseman Will Butcher (Aug. 2nd arbitration hearing) and there are others. Full list here.

Seattle

  • The new Seattle franchise hired Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis as their first General Manager. As an NHL player, Francis won two Stanley Cups, three Lady Byng’s (most gentlemanly player), one King Clancy Memorial trophy (player who exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice) and one Frank J Selke trophy (top defensive forward) over his 23 year playing career. Francis was voted captain on three different teams; first being named captain at age 21. Post retirement, he held the position of Director of Hockey Operations with the Hurricanes for three seasons before being named General Manager. Three years later he was named President of the Hurricanes a position he held for one year before the team was sold to Tom Dundon. In some of Francis’ first few comments as GM, he said Seattle will be preferring their first head coach as someone who already has a number of years experience as an NHL head coach.
  • Francis was hired 23 months before the Seattle expansion draft whereas Vegas’ GM George McPhee was hired 11 months prior.
  • Francis indicated the organization is looking to hire pro scouts for the NHL and AHL leagues as soon as this summer while adding amateur scouts next summer.
  • The Seattle franchise has 32,000 season ticket deposit holders plus a 25,000 person wait list.
  • Seattle has apparently narrowed their search for a new team name to 4 choices but I’ve not heard what they are.
  • The Seattle expansion draft will be held in June 2021 and their first regular season will be in October 2021.

Team Management

  • Philadelphia Flyers president Paul Holmgren has moved to a Senior Adviser role.  Holmgren will advise both Comcast Spectator chairman and CEO Dave Scott and Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher. Holmgren, 63, was in his 5th year as Flyers president. GM Chuck Fletcher takes on a new title as President of Hockey Operations, in addition to General Manager, and will now report directly to Scott. Holmgren’s move was reportedly his own idea as he wants to spend more time with his family including his 8 grandchildren.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their head coach Mike Sullivan for 4 more seasons. Sullivan has one year left on his current deal so he’s under contract to the Penguins for 5 more seasons (through to the end of 2022-23 season). At the end of Sullivan’s deal, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will be 36/37 years old and near the end of his career so the organization seems to have full belief that Sullivan is the right person to lead them as they chase another Stanley Cup.
  • Colorado announced they’ve signed head coach Jared Bednar to a 2 year contract extension. Bednar has one year remaining on his existing deal. Bednar has shown patience in his 3 seasons with Colorado (his first 3 NHL coaching seasons); from finishing dead last in the standings in 2016-17, his first season as an NHL head coach, to now having one of the league’s top teams. He now gets 3 more seasons to see if the team can make a run for a Cup; the Avalanche definitely have the players to do it.
  • Former LA Kings head coach Darryl Sutter was named an adviser to the Anaheim Ducks coaching staff & new head coach Dallas Eakins.
  • The Oilers announced Tyler Wright was appointed Director of Amateur Scouting.  Wright worked with Ken Holland in the Red Wings organization in a scouting role for the past 8 years. Wright oversaw the Red Wings draft when they selected Dylan Larkin, Anthony Manta, Andreas Athanasiou and others. The Oilers also announced they’ve appointed Archie Henderson as Director of Pro Scouting. Henderson was also with Holland in the Red Wings organization.
  • Former Stars forward Brendan Morrow was named Director of Business and Hockey Development for the Dallas Stars.
  • The Bruins added former NHL player Chris Kelly as Player Development Coordinator and Andrew Dickenson as an Amateur Scout. Dickenson was previously a scout with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings. Kelly, post-retirement, was in a player development role with the Ottawa Senators.
  • The Blue Jackets announced they’ve hired former goaltender Niklas Backstrom as European goaltending coach. Also, former Jackets player Jared Boll was hired as assistant development coach and ambassador. Craig Hartsburg was hired as an amateur scout. Departing the Blue Jackets organization are Chris Morehouse, assistant director of amateur scouting, and Marshall Davidson who was a pro scout. Davidson is former Blue Jackets president, now Rangers President, John Davidson’s, brother and Morehouse is JD’s son-in-law. It’s believed both could be joining the NY Rangers but nothing official has been announced.
  • Kevin Dineen was named the new head coach of the AHL San Diego Gulls. Dineen replaces Dallas Eakins who was promoted to Ducks head coach. Dineen for the past 5 seasons was an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.
  • Former Oilers assistant coach Manny Viveiros was recently hired as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Viveiros won a WHL title with Swift Current in 2018 where he was head coach. I heard he was in the running for the Ottawa Senators assistant coach position but the Sens hired Davis Payne.
  • The Oilers have one assistant coach vacancy. With head coach Dave Tippett and defensive coach Jim Playfair in place, the Oilers are recruiting someone to work with their forwards and possibly their power play. Former player Stu Barnes is available as he was moved out after John Stevens joined the Stars coaching staff. Another name that gets mentioned is former player Ray Whitney; he played for Tippett before but Whitney does not have much NHL assistant coaching experience.

Scuttlebutt

  • The City of Calgary and Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp (owners of the Flames, CFL Stampeders, WHL Calgary Hitmen & Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team) have reportedly reached a tentative deal for a new $600 M building where the Flames will play. The Flames current building, the Saddledome, is the 3rd oldest (Nassau Coliseum & MSG in NYC) building the league. Construction of the new building is not scheduled to start before the year 2021.
  • UFA forward Pat Maroon (28 points on 10 goals in the 2018-19) is still unsigned and recently said he hopes he can reach a deal with the Blues to return. He made $1.75 M last season. I’ve not heard much at all on Jake Gardiner and some people are wondering why he is still not signed. I heard Montreal may have interest but nothing has been definitely said by the team.
  • Oilers 21 year old forward Jesse Puljujarvi still is hoping for a trade before the start of the 2019-20 season. Oilers GM Ken Holland is reportedly looking for another team’s top prospects in return.
  • There was multiple reports that Lighting RFA Brayden Point turned down an offer sheet from Montreal. Seems it was more informal, like an inquiry if Point would sign, but the player has said for a while that his goal is to stay in Tampa.
  • Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is apparently available via trade. Ristolainen was an 8th overall draft pick (2013) and had 43 points in 5 goals in 78 games in the 2018-19 season. Apparently the price to get the player via trade is high. The player has 3 seasons at $5.4 M /season remaining on his contract. Ristolainen has recorded at least 40 points in 4 straight seasons with the Sabres and he is just 24 years old.
  • Apparently the Canucks and the agent for RFA forward Brock Boeser are moving closer to a deal. No terms are public but I expect a 3-4 year deal in the $7 M range which would make Boeser, 22, the highest paid Canucks player. Boeser recorded 26 goals and 56 points in the 2018-19 season.
  • Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher indicated contract discussions with RFA defenseman Ivan Provorov are in a holding pattern as his agent wants to see what fellow RFA defenseman Bruins Charlie McAvoy and Blue Jackets Zach Werenski sign for. NJ Devils defenseman Will Butcher is also a RFA and in need of a new contract. In addition to Provorov, the Flyers also have to sign forward 22 year old forward Travis Konecny. He had 49 points on 24 goals in the 2018-19 season.
  • Canucks forward Loui Eriksson is hoping for a trade out of Vancouver. Canucks GM Jim Benning is apparently trying to accommodate him but Eriksson, 33, had just 29 points in 11 goals in the 2018-19 season and has 3 years left on his contract at $6 M season. Benning said Eriksson could end up in the AHL if he is not more flexible with his 10 team no trade clause.
  • Colorado has approx $16.5 M in cap space for the 2019-20 season and still have re-sign RFA forward Mikko Rantanen but, from all reports, the organization has every intention getting his name on a new deal. Their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, is one year from UFA and GM Joe Sakic said the other day, they plan to try and retain him.
  • Jets forward and RFA Patrik Laine (30 goals last season) reportedly wants a short term deal with the team. Fellow Jets forward Kyle Connor (34 goals) is also a RFA and it seems Connor is viewed as a better all around player while also being talented at goal scoring.
  • Sharks 40 year old forward Joe Thornton is expected to return for the 2019-20 season which would be his 22nd NHL season. Joe had 51 points last season on 16 goals.
  • With the Blackhawks adding goaltender Robin Lehner as a UFA signing (one year @ $5 M), the team has two goalies with one year remaining on their contract (Corey Crawford is also a UFA after the 2019-20 season). Some people say both players will be playing for a new deal in the upcoming season.
  • ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman said the other day that they are planning that defenseman Adam Boqvist turns pro in the new, 2019-20 season. Boqvist recorded 60 points on 20 goals in 54 games playing for the OHL London Knights this past season. Boqvist was a first round, 8th overall, draft selection of the Blackhawks in 2018. His brother, Jesper, was drafted in the 2nd round in the 2017 entry draft by New Jersey. Jesper is a center that will attend Devils training camp this fall.

Transactions / Signings

  • Entry Level signings
    • The following rookies signed their 3 year entry level contract:
      • 1st overall, Jack Hughes, signed with New Jersey
      • 2nd overall, Kaapo Kakko, signed with the New York Rangers
      • 3rd overall, Kirby Dach, signed with the Chicago Blackhawks
      • 4th overall, Bowen Byram (defenseman), signed with Colorado
      • 6th overall, Moritz Seider (defenseman), signed with the Red Wings
      • 7th overall, Dylan Cozens, signed with Buffalo
      • 8th overall, Philip Broberg (defenseman), signed with the Oilers
      • 11th overall, Victor Soderstrom, signed with Arizona
      • 19th overall, Lassi Thomson (defenseman), signed with Ottawa
      • 20th overall, Ville Heino (defenseman), signed with Winnipeg
      • 22th overall, Tobias Bjornfot (defenseman), signed with LA
      • 23rd overall, Simon Holmstrom, signed with the NY Islanders
      • 25th overall, Connor McMichael, signed with Washington
      • 27th overall, Nolan Foote, signed with Tampa Bay
    • Subsequent rounds (2019 Draft)
      • Washington Brett Leason signed (3 year ECL). Leason was drafted in the 2nd round, 56th overall, in 2019 and recorded 89 points in 55 games this season with Prince Albert of the WHL. Leason is 6 foot 4 and 210 pounds. Washington also signed Aliaksei Protas, who was Leason’s linemate with Prince Albert, to his 3 year ELC. Protas was drafted in the 3rd round, 91st overall.
  •  RFA’s
    • The Winnipeg Jets sign defenseman Neal Pionk to a 2 year contract at $3 M /season. Pionk was acquired in the June 17 trade that saw Jacob Trouba go to the Rangers. In 73 games with the Rangers last season, Pionk, 23, recorded 26 points (6 G & 20 A). Pionk is American and went the USA college hockey route playing NCAA hockey at Minnesota-Duluth. His salary arbitration hearing would have been Wednesday.
    • St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist signed a 4 year contract at a AAV / cap hit of $2.75 M /season. Sundqvist also had a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday. He recorded 31 points in 74 games this past season on 14 goals.
    • New Jersey signed defenseman Connor Carrick for 2 years at $1.5 M /season.
    • Washington signed RFA forward Jakub Vrana to a 2 year deal at $3.35 M /season.
    • Carolina signed forward Brock McGinn to a 2 year contract at a AAV of $2.1 M /season. In 82 games with the Hurricanes in the recent season, McGinn recorded 26 points on 10 goals. When this new 2 year deal expires, McGinn with be a UFA.
    • San Jose signed forward Kevin Labanc to a one year, $1 M contract. It was, from a GM’s point of view, a terrific negotiation by Sharks GM Doug Wilson. LaBanc had 56 points in the 2018-19 season but was just out of his entry level contract where the player had no arbitration rights. Apparently other player agents were not happy with LaBanc’s agent for accepting the low offer.
    • Montreal signed forward Artturi Lehkonen to a two year contract. The AAV on the deal is $2.4 M. He recorded 11-20-31 in 82 games in the 2018-19 season. His 31 points & 20 assists were both career highs. Lehkonen was drafted 55th overall in 2013.
    • Colorado signed defenseman Nikita Zadorov to a one year deal at $3.2 M. The Avs also signed forward Andre Burakovsky to a one year deal for $3.25 M. Burakovsky, 24, recorded 25 points on 12 goals with Washington in the 2018-19 season. He was acquired by the Avs on June 24, 2019 from the Caps.
    • The Canucks reached a one year contract agreement, $1.5 M deal, with forward Josh Leivo. Leivo was an RFA.
    • The Flyers signed center Scott Laughton to 2 year deal at $2.3 M /season. Laughton had 32 points in 82 Flyers games on 12 goals in the 2018-19 season.
    • St. Louis signed goaltender Jordan Binnington to a 2 year $8.8 M deal ($4.4 M /season).
    • The Sabres signed forward Johan Larsson to a one year deal at $1.55 M. Larsson is one year from being a UFA. He recorded 14 points on 6 goals in the 2018-19 season.
    • The Lightning signed 4th liner Cedric Paquette to a 2 year deal at an average annual value of $1.65 M. Paquette had 13 goals and 4 assists in 80 games this past season.
    • Las Vegas signed their back-up goaltender Malcolm Subban to a one year deal for $850,000. Subban went 8-10-2 with a 2.93 GAA, .902 SV% and one shutout in 21 games in the 2018-19 season.
    • The Bruins signed forward Danton Heinen to a two year, $5.6 M contract. Heinen recorded 11 goals and 34 points in the 2018-19 season.
    • LA signed forward Alex Iafallo (82 GP 15 G 18 A 33 Pts) to a two year contract with an average annual value of $2.425 M.
    • St. Louis signed RFA forward Zach Sanford, 24, to a two year contract at an AVV of $1.5 M. He recorded 20 points on 8 goals in 60 games in the 2018-19 season. In 8 post-season games, he recorded 4 points on one goal. The Blues also signed forward Robby Fabbri to a one year, $900,000, contract.
    • The Sabres signed RFA defenseman Zemgus Girgensons for one year at $1.6 M.
    • San Jose Sharks signed forward Dylan Gambrell (2nd round, 2016) to a two year extension at the league minimum, $700,000 / season. Also signed was Antti Suomela (AHL 47 GP 6-14-20 Pts) at $700,000.
  • UFA’s
    • The Rangers reached a seven year contract agreement with defenseman Jacob Trouba. It’s $8 M / season. Trouba starts his tenure with the Rangers as their #1 defenseman. The Rangers currently have just $1.54 M in available cap space and have to sign RFA Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux and Tony D’Angelo. Forward Chris Kreider is one season from UFA.
    • The Sabres added UFA forward Marcus Johansson to a 2 year deal at $4.5 M / season. Johansson gets a modified no trade clause which is a list of 10 teams he can’t be traded to.
    • Montreal signed UFA defenseman Ben Chiarot to a 3 year deal at an average annual value (cap hit) of $3.5 M.
    • Carolina signed forward Ryan Dzingel to a 2 year $6.75 M contract. Dzingel said he believe he’ll fit in well as he plays fast, like the Hurricanes forward group.
    • The Habs also added forward Joel Armia on a two year contract at $2.6 M /season.
    • Anaheim added UFA defenseman Michael Del Zotto on a one year, $750,000 contract.
    • Vancouver signed forward Micheal Ferland to a 4 year deal at an average annual value of $3.5 M (or $14 M total contract value). Ferland talked to few teams (Calgary, STL and Vegas) but apparently Vancouver is the only team that offered a 4 year term.
    • Florida added former Bruins forward Noel Acciari signing him to a 3 year contract with an AAV of $1.67 M. Acciari was a 4th line forward with the Bruins in 2018-19 and recorded 6 goals and 8 assists. Panthers GM said he signed Acciari for his strong face-off skills, PK skills and physical play.
  • KHL
    • Former Avalanche forward Sven Andrighetto signed a two year deal in the KHL.
    • Former Oilers forward Ty Rattie signed a one year deal in the KHL with the team former Oilers exec Craig MacTavish is coaching, Lokomotiv.
    • Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has signed a one year deal, $1.4 M, in the KHL.
  • Swiss League
    • Former Bruins/Rangers/Oilers/Canucks forward Ryan Spooner signed in the Swiss league. It’s a one year deal with HC Lugano.
  • Trade
    • The Flames and Oilers swapped underachieving forwards – Calgary gets the big & tough Milan Lucic and the Oilers get James Neal. Apparently former Flames player Jarome Iginla talked to Lucic and encouraged him to accept the move to Calgary (Iginla and Lucic are friends from their time playing with the Bruins together). The Oilers also threw in a 3rd round pick to the deal that only happens if Neal gets at least 21 goals with the Oilers and Lucic scores 10 less than Neal. The Oilers additionally retained 12.5% of Lucic salary. Neal wanted to play in the Flames top 6 group of forwards but head coach Bill Peters kept saying he had to earn it. He did not produce enough on the 3rd line and did not move up all season.
    • William Nylander’s brother, Alex, was traded from the Sabres to the Blackhawks in exchange for Henri Jokiharju. Alex Nylander apparently has high-end skill like his brother but does not work as hard to create chances. General consensus seemed to be Buffalo got the better player.
    • Montreal traded former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw back to Chicago with a 2021 7th round draft pick. In return, Montreal gets Chicago’s 2020 second round pick, 2020 seventh round pick and 2021 third round pick.
    • Ottawa and Chicago swapped forwards with Ottawa sending Zack Smith to Chicago for Artem Anisimov. ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman said they added Smith to help improve the PK, face-off win percentages plus Smith was an assistant captain with the Senators. Smith recorded 9 goals and 19 assists last season. Smith has two season’s at $3.25 M left on his contract whereas Anisimov has one year at $4.55 M remaining. Bowman noted the Hawks needed the cap space (they gained $1.3 M in cap room in the transaction).

Retirements

  • Penguins forward Matt Cullen announced his retirement after a 21 year NHL career. Cullen won 3 Cups and played in 1516 NHL games. Cullen was the oldest active player in the league and that’s now Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (age 42).

Leafs

  • Seems the Marner contract negotiations are in a bit of a stalemate/holding pattern. A lot of the negotiations have been kept of the news but some of what I’ve heard is Marner want a 4-5 year term. If he gets a 5 year term, he gets a deal that expires and makes him an immediate UFA which teams don’t prefer to do (plus it makes Nylander, Matthews & Marner all UFA’s at the same time). Marner has said he wants to stay in Toronto. Columbus, having lost Panarin, Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, have apparently been interested in exploring a possible offer sheet with Marner’s agent but have been told the player wants a 4-5 year term or less and Columbus was looking at a 7 year term (teams are not prepared to part with 4 first round draft picks to have a player for that amount of time plus it’s believe the Leafs would match an offer sheet). From the start, Marner wanted the same deal Auston Matthews got – 5 years at $11.6 M and the player is a UFA when the contract expires. The team sees Marner more in the $9 M – $10 M range. Marner said he want to be a Leafs training camp but won’t attend with no deal in place (too much risk for him as he could get injured and have no contract in place).
  • The Leafs and defenseman Cody Ceci agreed to a one year deal at $4.5 M. Ceci is a UFA after the 2019-20 season as is Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin. Alex Kerfoot was signed for four years and $3.5 M /season. Kerfoot is apparently talented at tipping pucks in front of the net and converting rebounds into goals.
  • Not sure if we will see another Nylander situation like last season – an RFA that can’t agree to a deal. Seems some teams took note of last season’s Nylander negotiation and team’s don’t want players signing in Nov/Dec as Nylander was not that effective (one goal in his first 23 games after returning) when he returned (missed too much time).
  • The Leafs have approx $3.76 M in available cap space and have to do some salary cap maneuvering once they get close to an agreement with Marner. One way to free up cap space that I heard they are looking at is taking the Nathan Horton contract and calling it Long Term Injury Reserve and that will free up about $5.3 M more dollars. The team may not use the max 23 man roster but have 21 or 22 player roster due to cap problems. If Marner’s cap number is $10 M or more, is expected the team may have to make a trade to shed cap dollars.
  • The Leafs and Flames had apparently worked out a Kadri for TJ Brodie and Mark Jankowski deal but it did not go through as Calgary was on Kadri’s no trade list. Heard Kadri interviewed and he said he wanted to remain with the Leafs and he thought if he declined the trade, there would be a better chance of him staying in  Toronto. He and his wife had their first child the same week as the Colorado trade so was an emotional time for him. He said he wants to prove to the Leafs that moving him was a mistake.
  • New Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie is going to rent Kadri’s Toronto home for one season. The two players talked and each player raved to the other about the city they were leaving.
  • Seems the forward lines could look like
    • Nylander-Matthews-Andreas Johnsson
    • IIya Mikheyev*-Tavares-Marner (*replacing ACL injured Hyman to start season)
    • Trevor Moore-Kerfoot-Kasperi Kapanen
    • Nic Petan-Speeza-Nick Shore
  • Defense
    • Muzzin-Barrie
    • Rielly-Ceci
    • Harpur/Marincin-Holl
    • *Dermott on LTIR (shoulder) to start season

Canucks

  • With GM Jim Benning on the last year of his contract and the team not being in the post-season since the 2014-15 season, there is a lot of pressure there for the team to show improvement. I would bet if the team does not get a post-season spot, there is no chance GM Benning returns for the following season.
  • New additions Micheal Ferland, JT Miller, Tyler Myers have to make an impact or could be tough on Benning.
  • Starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom enters the 2019-20 season one year from UFA but his agent says Vancouver is home for Jacob and he wants to re-sign with the Canucks.
  • Bo Horvat is expected to be named the team’s captain after the position went unfilled last season.

Odds & Ends

  • Season ticket sales for the Arizona Coyotes spiked 600% in the week after Phil Kessel was traded there. The Coyotes had a 94% renewal rate for their 2019-20 season tickets which is really positive. All signs point to the Coyotes challenging for a post season spot in the 2019-20 season plus their new owner recently took over the team.
  • Bruins forward David Backes gets mentioned as a possible buyout candidate. Backes has 2 more seasons left on his contract at $6 M /season but recorded just 20 points on 7 goals in the 2018-19 season. He received a $3 M July 1 bonus and now owed $5 M for the remaining 2 years of the deal. He’s suffered with ongoing concussion problems so that could factor in on whether another team would want to acquire him.
  • Oilers first rounder (2019) Philip Broberg will play the 2019-20 season back in Sweden. There was some discussion around him joining the OHL Hamilton Bulldogs.
  • Leafs William Nylander is changing his jersey number from #29 to #88. The only other Leafs player who wore jersey #88 is Eric Lindros.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks have traded every one of their first round draft picks from 2011-2017  -Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, Teuvo Teravainen, Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Henri Jokiharju. Their 3 Cups in the past 10 years seems to indicate they are all about trying to ice as strong a team as possible every season.
  • The Flyers and 32 year old forward Chris Stewart have agreed to a training camp PTO.
  • Detroit recently announced their training camp will run from September 13-16. I expect all other teams will have their camps around the same time.
  • Canucks former player Alex Burrows will have his number 14 added to the Canucks Ring of Honor on December 3, 2019 before a game against the Ottawa Senators. Burrows will join former Canucks Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk MacLean, Harold Snepsts, Thomas Gradin, Pat Quinn and Mattias Ohlund with the honor.
  • There is a 27 yo Russian winger named Anton Burdasov that is looking to sign in the NHL for the upcoming season. He had 31 points on 19 goals in 50 games in the KHL this season. He is reportedly a tough winger as he had 114 PIM’s this past season. Teams reportedly interested in the player include the Rangers, Florida Panthers & Flyers.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 02 Jul 2019

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.

League

  • 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.

Seattle

  • 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.

Team Management

  • 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.

Scuttlebutt

  • 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.

NHL Awards

  • 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
      • Ovechkin-McDavid-Kucherov
      • Giordano-Burns
      • Vasilevskiy
    • Second Team
      • Marchand-Crosby-Kane
      • Carlson-Hedman
      • Bishop
    • All Rookie Team
      • Anthony Cirelli-Elias Pettersson-Brady Tkachuk
      • Rasmus Dahlin-Miro Heiskanen
      • Jordan Binnington

Transaction

  • 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.

Trades

  • 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

  • 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.

Canucks

  • 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.

Retirement

  • 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.
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NHL News & Notes to 16 Jun 2019

Here are some news & notes items from around the league. This week is busy for NHL teams as the Board of Governors are meeting in Vegas on Wednesday, June 19th, the NHL Awards show is that evening from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Vegas. Teams then go to Vancouver for this weekend’s entry draft. The GM’s meet Thursday, June 21 in Vancouver and the Entry Draft starts Friday and run through Saturday. Trade activity is expected to pick-up this week. We then get into UFA signings on July 1 which is always an interesting day.

League

  • The NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee met on Tuesday, June 11th in Toronto. Some of the players that were involved include Ron Hainsey, Connor Hellebuyck, Connor McDavid, John Tavares & James van Riemsdyk. Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold was there representing the owners plus GM’s Ken Holland (Oilers), Steve Yzerman (Red Wings), David Poile (Nashville) & Doug Wilson (San Jose) were in attendance. Additionally, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was there as well as Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau (both are non voting members of the committee). The most pressing and high profile topic that was part of the discussions is in game video review and, at the conclusion of the meeting, the committee did put forth a recommendation that video review be expanded. The details around a revised video review process were not made public but they are about having the ability for refs to use video replays during the game to confirm their calls plus possibly changes to how the Situation Room in Toronto plays a part in that. Experts see the fact they reached a general agreement around video review as very positive as the NHLPA and NHL sometimes don’t see things the same way. Apparently before the meetings, the league sat down and drafted some ideas (a draft video review plan) around what a revised video review process could look like and those ideas were brought into the June 11 meeting with good success. Changes to coaches challenge were recommended (currently only allowed for off-side and goalie interference) as well as recommending players who lose their helmet during play must immediately go to the player’s bench. Some other recommendations:
    • If the goalie freezes the puck after a shot from the other side of center, the defensive team can’t make a line change and the offensive team gets to choose which side in the offensive zone the face-off will be on
    • After an icing, the offensive team gets to choose which side the face-off will occur; to begin a PP, the offensive team will have a choice of which face-off circle the face-off will take place on; if official deems a player unintentionally knocks the net off, no line change by the the defending team will be permitted and the offensive team gets to choose which face-off circle will be used.
    • Puck out of bounds in the offensive zone caused by offensive team – face-off will be in the attacking zone (previously the face-off would move outside the offensive zone).
    • Additional criteria around regular season points tie breaking rules. If two teams are tied in points at season’s end, the tie breaker will be number of wins in regulation (was regulation plus OT wins).
  • All of the above changes require approval from the NHLPA Executive Board (the 31 team’s player reps) plus the NHL Board of Governors. The GM’s will also discuss video review and these other possible rules changes at the GM’s meeting in Vancouver on Thursday, June 20.
  • The NHLPA recently held meetings with their board, the 31 player reps, and about 40 players to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement from the players side. They are planning to hold more meetings both in North America and in Europe and the league and NHLPA are apparently having ongoing meetings & discussions around the CBA with the re-opener clause available to both sides in Sept 2019 effective for the 2020-21 season. The biggest issue with the players is the escrow. Players don’t like the ~ 10% taken from their pay each pay period (the players do often get some of the money back but can take up to a year). The league makes a estimate of hockey related revenue (which is split 50/50 with owners) and hold back ~ 10% of players pay until all the revenue is counted at season’s end. Then the players can get their refunds, if revenue exceeds their previous estimates. Players are saying don’t touch their pay; find another way to calculate hockey related revenue. With some players, they believe the issue of Olympic participation should be negotiated with the owners as the players generally want to go and represent their country but the owners are not in favor. Some of the other topics are post-career health care, the fate of older players as the league has gotten younger and the top earners for players has seen 22/23 year old players getting $10 M – $11 M / year and the older players are getting squeezed out. Here is a good article on the players concerns.
  • The League’s first player buy-out period opened June 15th and runs through to June 30th.
  • The Entry Draft starts Friday, June 21 at 8 PM EST, and just the first round selection will occur on the Friday with the remaining, 2-7 rounds taking place on Saturday, June 22 (starts at 1 PM EST).
  • The UFA speaking window opens Sunday, June 23rd. This is where pending UFA’s can talk to other teams but not discuss financial contract terms. For RFA’s, other teams can talk to them starting July 26 but, if the RFA’s are signed by another team, there is draft pick compensation owed to the players previous team.
  • Restricted free agents – players completed their entry level contract but before UFA – must be tendered a qualifying offer by June 25. The the player is not qualified, he become as UFA.
  • The 2019-20 NHL schedule is going to be released on June 25th with team home openers announced June 21.
  • Unrestricted free agents can sign with any team on July 1.
  • Coyotes sale -apparently the sale of the Arizona Coyotes is near. Billionaire entrepreneur Alex Meruelo is close to a deal for the team that would make him majority owner. Current owner Andrew Barroway would retain a minority ownership position. Meruelo is is Cuban-American and would become the only majority Latino owner in the league. Meruelo owns are variety of construction, real estate and other businesses throughout North America. He owns a few casinos including recently purchasing the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Vegas and he also owns Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. His Meruelo Group company also has a media arm called Meruelo Media and that includes TV and radio stations in the South West USA. The sale is expected to be approved at the upcoming BOG meeting, June 19 in Las Vegas. A closing date for the sale is expected to be sometime later this summer. Commissioner Bettman has been clear that the Coyotes need a new arena, their current building is in Glendale, and the majority of season ticket holders live on the more affluent east side of town (Gila River arena on the west side). The Coyotes franchise needs some stability, success and, some say, a more long-term vision of NHL hockey in the desert. The franchise  has not had a lot of on ice success since moving from Winnipeg back in 1996 and the team has changed ownership numerous times.
  • There is a gentleman in Houston that has some interested in bringing NHL hockey there. His name is Tilman Fertitta and he owns the Houston Rockets. He is apparently looking to get an NHL franchise at a sale price (current franchise fee is about $650 M USD) and the league is not willing to accommodate him-at least yet.
  • The Cup finals game 7 was the most watched NHL game on record since 1994. An average of 9 million viewers in the USA watched the game on TV. The post-season overall were the most watched in 23 years (up 6% over 2018). The Cup final series was the most watched final in 4 years and up 11% over 2018. Game 7 of the Cup final was the most streamed online game ever.

Team Management News

  • The Anaheim Ducks are expected to announce Dallas Eakins as their new head coach as soon as Monday. Some of the coaches considered for the position included Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson, Islanders assistant Lane Lambert and U of Minnesota/Deluth’s Scott Sandelin. Easkins was previously an NHL head coach for the Oilers for over a season and a half where he compiled a 36-63-13 record. More recently, he’s been head coach of the AHL affiliate of the Ducks, the San Diego Gulls, where he had a 154 W & 95 L plus 12 OTL record in 272 games coached. Eakins was also head coach of the AHL Toronto Marlies for 4 seasons, from 2009-2013.
  • The Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) added former Leafs & Senators exec Tom Anselmi as President of Business Operations and COO. The addition of Anselmi will apparently take a lot of the day-to-day business operations from Chairman Bob Nicholson. Nicholson, as Chairman, will oversee the Oilers GM role as well as the team’s AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors, and their WHL team, the Edmonton Oil Kings. Nicholson also still holds the title Vice President of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Generally, Nicholson will focus on hockey teams and Anselmi will deal with the business side. Anselmi had a 17 year career with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and held the position of COO of MLSE. He was apparently key in the creation of Maple Leaf Square and Jurrasic Park in Toronto. The Oilers Entertainment Group has a 50 acre park close to Rogers Place in Edmonton called Edmonton Ice District and Anselmi will get involved in further developing that. Anselmi said the other day that Oilers season ticket renewals are running at a 87% rate. Seems very positive as the team has struggled to make the post-season in recent times.
  • Oilers Assistant General Manager Keith Gretzky is staying on with the organization working with new GM Ken Holland. Gretzky was in the running for the GM position but said he feels he’ll learn a lot working with Holland. He called it a “perfect situation” for himself. Gretzky will take over from recently departed Craig MacTavish and run the Oilers affiliate in Bakersfield, California. Gretzky and the Oilers chief scout, Bob Green, will lead the Oilers in their drafting process. Gretzky is apparently strong on the scouting side having done a lot of work in that area particularly when he was with the Boston Bruins.
  • The Oilers have signed their AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors, head coach Jay Woodcroft to a 2 year contract extension. In his first season this past season as head coach in Bakersfield, Woodcroft had a record of 42-21-3-2. The Condors won the AHL Western Conference and make their first ever post season appearance. Woodcroft, 42, got his start with the Red Wings organization where he was the team’s video coach when Babcock and Ken Holland were there. LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan was an assistant coach to Babcock and hired Woodcroft as an assistant coach in Edmonton. Sounds like Woodcroft is heading towards a possible NHL head coaching career.
  • The Dallas Stars added former LA Kings head coach John Stevens as an assistant on head coach John Montgomery’s staff. Stevens played with Montgomery in the AHL Philadelphia Phantom’s organization.
  • The Ottawa Senators added former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano to head coach DJ Smith’s coaching staff. His contract is for three years. Capuano will reportedly work with the team’s young defense group plus have responsibility for the Senators penalty kill. Capuano had spent the past two seasons working as an assistant coach on Panthers then head coach Bob Bougher’s staff.
  • Former Senators player, Chris Kelly, who started his post-retirement career in a player development role with the Sens and last season was an assistant coach on Marc Crawford staff will not be back with the Senators in the 2019-20 season.
  • Marc Crawford was hired as an assistant coach in Chicago, an assistant to ‘Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. The ‘Hawks have a young coaching staff so Crawford should compliment the group. Crawford son, Dylan, is the ‘Hawks assistant video coach.
  • Sabres new head coach, Ralph Krueger, has added Don Granato and Mike Bales to their coaching staff. Former Oilers defenseman, Steve Smith, will stay on as an assistant coach from last years coaching staff. Granato was with the Blackhawks as an assistant coach the past 2 seasons. Mike Bales was, for the past two seasons, goalie coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. Previous to the Hurricanes was a goalie coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 6 seasons.
  • Nashville has hired Dan Lambert as an assistant coach on head coach Peter Laviolette’s staff. Lambert was head coach of the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL for the past two season and led the Chiefs to the league’s top PP record. The Predators will use Lambert’s expertise to help improve their PP which was last in the league this past season (12.9%). Lambert was previously an NHL assistant coach – with the Sabres in the 2015-16 season. Additionally, he was head coach of the Sabres AHL affiliate in Rochester where nine players on the roster established career high in points.
  • With the Blue Jackets, former player Rick Nash has a new title, Special Assistant to GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Nash has been informally acting in the role for several months now. Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito has had Senior VP of Hockey Operations and Alternate Governor added to this title. Zito had reportedly been talking to Seattle about their vacant GM position but I’ve not heard anything about this recently. Former NHL’er Basil McCrae was promoted to Assistant GM (title had been Director of Player Personnel) and Josh Flynn who was Director of Hockey Administration was also given the AGM title. Chris Clark, who was Director of Player Development, assumes McCrae’s former title of Director of Player Personnel.
  • Former NHL player Tanner Glass has been hired by the New York Rangers in a player development role. Glass, 35, recently announced his retirement as an NHL player. He played the 2018-19 season in France. Experts say new Rangers president John Davidson has spent in the area of player development before as his approach in past positions has been on the important of developing young players -both ones in North America and in Europe. Glass has played in Europe recently as his new position with the Rangers could possibly be based in Europe. Another former NHL player, Jed Ortmeyer, is the Rangers director of player personnel. The Rangers are also looking for a new head coach for their AHL team in Hartford that is overseen by Rangers AGM Chris Drury. Rangers new president John Davidson is apparently placing an emphasis on strong communication skills in new hires, including the vacant Hartford head coach position, plus he’s placing a lot of emphasis on player development. He wants Rangers player personal attending Rangers drafted players games whether they are in North America or elsewhere. He wants to strong development practices from the time players are drafted to the Rangers through to their Rangers NHL career.

Scuttlebutt

  • Last week, the Flyers acquired pending UFA forward Kevin Hayes from the Jets for the 5th round draft pick (2019) in an attempt to try and get him to sign a contract with them. Hayes visited with the Flyers in Philadelphia this past week but it does not sound like a deal is near. The impression I get based on some of the comments I read is Hayes wants to go to July 1 and consider all his offers. I’ve heard the Coyotes and Columbus both linked to Hayes but there could be others as he’s a top one or two center on most NHL teams. Flyers GM Fletcher regards him as one of the top 200 foot centers in the league.
  • The Flyers also waived defenseman Andrew MacDonald and he cleared though waivers so could look to Europe or the KHL next. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said it was a tough decision but he needed the cap space. MacDonald, 33, spent part of 6 seasons with the Flyers. The final year (2019-20 season) of his 6 year, $30 M contract will be bought out. He is owed $5 M for next season so the Flyers will pay 2/3’s of that amount spread over two seasons. Fletcher says they plan to use the regained cap space to be active on July 1 when UFA’s can be signed. I’ve heard Flyers defensemam Shayne Gostisbehere name mentioned in trade rumors with the Canadiens and Canucks linked to the player.
  • Washington and the Flyers swapped defenseman this past weekend. Going to Flyers is veteran Matt Niskanen and the Caps get Radko Gudas in return. The Flyers will retain 30% of Gudas’ $3.35 M annual salary. Gudas, 29, is an unrestricted free agent after next season and known as a physical defenseman. In 70 games played in the recent season, he recorded 20 points which averaging 18 minutes of ice time / game. Niskanen, 32, has 2 years left on his deal at $5.75 M /season. Niskanen has been to the post season in 5 straight seasons including winning one Cup (in 2018 with the Caps). He averaged 22 mins of ice time / game in the 2018-19 season. He should add experience and leadership to a young Flyers d group.
  • The Caps used the cap space freed up from the Niskanen deal to sign forward Carl Hagelin. It’s a 4 year deal for Hagelin at an average annual rate of $2.75 M (total contract value is $11 M). Hagelin will be 31 by the start of the 2019-20 season and was to be a July 1, 2019 UFA. He recorded 5 goals and 14 assists in 58 regular season games with the Caps this past season. GM Brian McLellan said Hagelin is a very versatile player who can play on any forward line and is good on the PK plus he’s won 2 Cups (2016 and 2017 with the Penguins).
  • Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry is expected to either get traded or be bought out by the team. Perry has two years left on his contract at a cap hit of $8.625 M. Experts say there is a market for the player with the Oilers having possible interest.
  • Jets RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba is expected to be traded soon. Teams in pursuit of the player include the Rangers, Devils and Islanders. Trouba is a top pairing defenseman who is 25 years old and had 50 points in 82 games in the 2018-19 season.
  • Erik Karlsson is reportedly in contract discussions with the San Jose Sharks on a new deal. Karlsson is unrestricted on July 1, 2019. He recently had surgery on his groin; an injury that affected him all season. It’s rumored the deal being discussed between the Sharks and Karlsson is a max 8 year deal at Drew Doughty money, $11 M /season. If the Sharks and Karlsson reach a deal, Ottawa would get San Jose’s second round draft pick in 2021. If the Sharks and Karlsson are unable to make a deal, he can sign a max 7 year contract on July 1 with a different team.
  • Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev has been linked to both the Oilers and Canucks. The Leafs apparently want a defenseman in return for Zaitsev.
  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington needs a new contract; he’s a RFA. It’s not clear what his next deal could look like as he’s played half a season and was stellar in the post-season. Binnington made the league minimum, $650,000, but pro-rated for half the season for the 2018-19 season. His agent is former Blues goaltender Mike Liut. The Blues have back-up Jake Allen under contract for 2 more seasons at $4.35 M /season. I expect Binnington will be looking for about $4.5 M – $5 M /season on a 3-4 year term. He’ll be UFA age in 2 seasons so that factors into contract terms.
  • Apparently there has been no contract discussions between pending UFA Hurricane Michael Ferland and the Hurricanes. He’ll be looking at his offers on July 1. Ferland is a tough winger that can score 20-25 goals /season in a good season but has battled concussion problems recently.
  • The Canucks are still working at trying to sign pending UFA defenseman Alex Edler. GM Jim Benning indicated the organization wants Elder back but the two sides have yet to find “common ground” regarding terms of a new deal. On RFA Brock Boeser, Benning says they are working towards a new deal for the player and the organization has every intention of reaching a contract  agreement. Benning also said the organization is interested in re-signing defenseman Luke Schenn.
  • There’s been some talk of a Canucks forward Loui Eriksson for Oilers Milan Lucic swap. Both players have not lived up to expectations after signing high priced contracts. Eriksson, 33, has 3 seasons remaining on his deal at $6 M /season while Lucic, 31, has 4 years remaining at $6 M /season. Eriksson recently made some public comments about having a trying relationship with Canucks head coach Travis Green. GM Jim Benning said he’s going to talk to Eriksson about why he spoke out about his relationship with the Canucks head coach.  I read where Eriksson’s agent recently said a trade from Vancouver is something his client would like considered.
  • Benning also said the Canucks are interested in bringing back defenseman Nikita Tryamkin. Benning talked to his agent at the scouting combine about a possible return to Vancouver for the Russian defenseman. Tryamkin, 24, has spent the last 2 seasons playing in the KHL. Tryamkin is 6-7 and 265 pounds. He was a 3rd round draft pick by the Canucks back in 2014.
  • Benning provided an update on the organizations former 1st rounder, 5th overall (2016), defenseman Olli Juolevi. The player was playing with the team’s AHL affiliate in Utica but injured his knee this past season and required surgery. Apparently, the Juolevi is recovering well and looking to start skating this week.
  • The Penguins dealt defenseman Olli Maatta to the Blackhawks for forward Dominik Kahun and a 5th round draft pick in 2019. Kahum, 23, was an undrafted free agent signed by the ‘Hawks back in May 2018. He recorded 37 points on on 13 goals in 82 games this season with Chicago. Maatta, 24, played in 60 Pens games this past season and recorded 14 points on 1 goal. Maatta was a first round draft selection of the Penguins, 22nd overall, in 2012.
  • Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said it’s now unlikely forward Phil Kessel is dealt before the start of the 2019-20 season. Kessel vetoed a deal that Rutherford worked out that would of seen him become a Minnesota Wild player. Kessel contract includes a clause that says he can only be traded to his preferred 8 teams. Also with the Penguins, head coach Mike Sullivan enters the final year of his contract in 2019-20. Rutherford said they will possibly look at an extension near the end of his contract but the organization is not in any rush to sign him right now. Sounds like Evgeni Malkin is not going to move. Rutherford acknowledged his 2018-19 was not to the usual Malkin standards but the player has been a Hall of Fame caliber player over his career in Pittsburgh. Rutherford said the changes that may happen with the team would be more of a re-tooling with no big name players leaving.
  • Devils star forward Taylor Hall recently indicated he’s in no rush to sign a new contract with New Jersey. Hall one season from UFA and can sign a max 8 year deal with the Devils as soon as July 1, 2019. Apparently, the Devils are focused on the Entry Draft where they have the number one (Jack Hughes) overall selection as well as three selections in the 2nd round. Defenseman Will Butcher needs a new deal (RFA) and forward Pavel Zacha does as well. Hall shares the same agent as Leafs RFA forward Mitch Marner. Hall reportedly does not want to rush into contract discussions as he says becoming UFA is a once in a lifetime event. Hall will turn 28 in November. He recorded 37 points in 33 games this past season but injured his knee around Christmas time and missed half the season. Devils GM Ray Shero says it’s an important decision and possibly negotiation from their side too. Hall says the Devils have treated him first class since he was traded there from the Oilers back in the summer of 2016.
  • Montreal is apparently looking for a good young defenseman and will try to trade to get such a player. I’ve heard Chicago is also looking for a solid d-man with names such as Hurricanes Justin Faulk, Calvin de Haan or Dougie Hamilton a possibility.
  • Senators GM Pierre Dorian recently said he’ll be looking to bring in an experienced player or two to complement their young roster. He said he’ll try on July 1 to get such a player but a trade could occur later as well.
  • Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi (80 GP 14 G 23 A 37 points) is a July 1, 2019 UFA and is apparently going to be looking at his options on July 1.
  • Heard there’s been no contract discussion between Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland and the team. Engelland, 37, is a pending UFA.
  • Was reported last this past week that the Leafs are shopping goaltender Garret Sparks. Sparks lost his back-up job to Michael Hutchinson late last season. The Leafs must be looking for an Andersen back-up as I don’t expect Hutchinson would be that person.
  • Red Wings veteran defenseman Nikalas Kronwall is still deciding if he’ll play next season. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has said they hope he’ll return for another season. Kronwall had said before the start of the recent season he expected it would be his last season but it’s possible he’s back for the 2019-20 season.
  • The Oilers enter the off-season with just one goalie under contract for next season, Mikko Koskinen. GM Ken Holland indicated he’ll be looking “after July 1” to bring in another goaltender. I assume that means via trade.
  • The Florida Panthers are reportedly looking for move goaltender James Reimer who has two years left on his contract at $3.4 M /season. Reimer did not have a strong 2018-19 season. He’s GAA was 3.09 with a .900 SV% and a 13-12-5 record. It’s well known the Panthers are looking to he active on July 1 with Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky linked to the Panthers.
  • Not much recent news on the Mitch Marner and Leafs negotiation. Last I heard there was some discussion of an annual rate of $11 M for the player but the Leafs have kept a lot of the details out of the news.

Stanley Cup Champs 2019 – St. Louis Blues

  • The Blues are the first team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after being last in the overall league standings with at least 30 games played.
  • Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly scored in four straight Cup finals games (first player to do that since Gretzky in 1985) to capture the Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP. He’s also the only player to win the Conn Smythe in his first season with a new team. O’Reilly received 13 of a possible 18 first place votes. Jordan Binnington received 5 first place votes. Votes are counted as 5 points for a first place vote, 3 for a second place and 1 for 3rd place. O’Reilly had 78 MVP points to Binnington’s 46. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask placed 3rd in the voting. Rask had the top SV% of any goaltender in the post-season (.934). O’Reilly is also nominated for the Selke trophy is the league’s top defensive forward and the Lady Byng for most gentlemanly player. No player has won the Conn Smythe, Selke and Lady Byng in the same season. O’Reilly reportedly suffered a cracked rib in the Blues second round series against Dallas and played through the injury (with a lot of help from the Blues training staff).
  • The Blues had an incredible 10-3 record on the road in the post-season including winning three games in Boston in the Finals.
  • Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had a terrific post-season; he recorded the most points of any defenseman with 3 G & 16 A for 19 points in 26 GP. In the Cup winning game 7, Pietrangelo was on the ice for all four of the Blues goals. He assisted on the opening goal and scored the game winning, 2-0 goal, and played 26 minutes.
  • Blues rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington became the first rookie goaltender in NHL history to win 16 post-season games.
  • Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is the 12th Canadian to join the triple gold club. That is a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a IIHF World Championship. Bouwmeester has also won the World Cup of Hockey twice.
  • Bruins defenseman Torey Krug recorded 18 post season points in 24 games. His 18 points were most by a Bruins blueliner since Ray Bourque set a franchise record with 25 post season points. Krug also recorded 6 points in the Finals which is 3rd most in Bruins franchise history; only Bobby Orr in 1972 (8 points) and Orr again in 1974 (7 points) have recorded more. Krug has 46 points in 62 post-season games in his career. He enters the summer one year from UFA but has been clear, his preference is to remain a Bruin long term.
  • Playoffs points leader (9 G & 14 A), Brad Marchand, said he’ll never get over the game 7 loss saying he could not accurately put into words how getting so close and losing felt. Marchand has made three trips to the finals as a Bruin, 2011, 2013 and 2019, and has won one Cup.

Transactions

  • The Buffalo Sabres signed forward UFA forward Jeff Skinner to a max / 8 year contract at an average annual rate of $9 M /season. Skinner scored 40 goals (40 G 23 A for 63 points in 82 GP) last season playing wing on the Sabres top line centered by Jack Eichel. GM Jason Botterill indicated there has been discussions with forward Jason Pominville about a new contract. Pominville, 36, is a July 1 UFA who recorded 31 points on 16 goals in the 2018-19 season.
  • Experts say with Skinner getting $9 M /season, pending UFA Matt Duchene can expect to get as least the same amount or probably more when he signs on July 1. In 73 games played in the 2018-19 season, Duchene recorded 31 goals and 39 assists for 70 points.
  • The New York Islanders signed forward Jordan Eberle to a 5 year contract at an annual rate of $5.5 M. Eberle was scheduled to become an UFA on July 1, 2019. In 78 games in the 2018-19 season, Eberle recorded 19 goals and 18 assists. He recently said he felt he found his niche with the team in the second half of the season and likes the direction the organization is going in. He added as he’s now 29 years old and winning is more important than it was earlier in his career.
  • Dallas signed pending UFA defenseman Roman Polak to a a one year contract for $1.75 M. It’s the forth straight one year deal Polak has signed.
  • Dallas also signed forward Mattias Janmark to a one year deal at $2.3 M.
  • The Stars have had some initial discussions with pending UFA forward Mats Zuccarello. The Stars acquired the player at the trade deadline from the New York Rangers. Discussion are suppose to continue leading up to July 1. If the Stars do reach a contract agreement with him, the 2020 3rd round draft pick that NY  received in the deal becomes a first rounder for the Rangers.
  • The New Jersey Devils signed one of their top forward prospects in Swede Jesper Boqvist. The player was drafted in the second round, 36th overall, in the 2017 Entry Draft (Devils forward Nico Heisher was drafted first overall in the same draft class). This season playing in the Swedish Hockey League, Boqvist, 20, recorded 12 goals and 22 assists for 35 points in 51 games played. I believe the Devils hope Boqvist can step into the NHL in the upcoming season. Jesper’s younger brother, Adam, is a first rounder (2018, 8th overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks. Adam Boqvist, 18, played this past season with the London Knights of the OHL where he recorded 60 points (20 G & 40 A) in 54 games played.
  • Former NHL goaltender Antti Niemi has signed a one year contract in the KHL. Niemi played 11 seasons in the NHL including recent stops in Montreal and Dallas.
  • The New York Rangers have signed defenseman Tarmo Reunanen to an entry level contract. Reunanen, 21, recorded 6 goals and 19 assists in 58 games with Lukko in Liiga this past season. He established Liiga career highs in several categories in 2018-19 including games played, goals, assists and points.
  • Columbus signed goaltender Veini Vehvilainen to a 2 year entry level contract. Vehvilainen was a 6th round draft pick of the organization back in 2018. He was named top goalie in Finland for the past two seasons. He had a 25-8-5 record, 1.58 GAA, .933 SV and 6 shutouts in 38 games with Karpat in Finland’s top pro league.
  • The LA Kings have signed Swedish forward Johan Sodergran to a 3 year entry level contract. Sodergran was the Kings 6th round draft pick in the 2018 entry draft. The player is 6-3, 205 pound native of Stockholm. In 42 games in the Swedish Elite league, he recorded 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points. Sodergran is expected to attend the Kings Development Camp at the end of June.

Odds & Ends

  • Connor McDavid reportedly suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his left knee in the Oilers final regular season game. No surgery was required but he is apparently still rehabilitating the knee and is expected to the ready for September training camp. Oilers GM Ken Holland was recently in Toronto and met with McDavid face to face.
  • Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is expected to the ready for September training camp. He suffered a torn ACL in his knee near the end of the season. Koivu, 36, has one year left on his contract at $5.5 M.
  • The AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Charolette Checkers, won the AHL championship (Calder Cup). It was their first AHL title.
  • The East Coast Hockey League champions for 2019 are the Newfoundland Growlers who are the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Marlies. It was the Growlers first season in the ECHL. Dubas said all credit goes to John Snowden, the team’s head coach. MLSE signed Snowden to a 2 year contract extension this past Wednesday.
  • St. Louis Blues senior consultant Larry Robinson won his 10th Cup. He won six Cups as a player and now four as a coach/consultant.
  • Seems many players like playing in Boston. Defenseman Tory Krug, who is one year from UFA status, says he hopes to play his entire career in Boston. Pending UFA Marcus Johansson (4 G & 7 A in 22 playoff games) recently said he hopes he can reach a contract agreement with the Bruins. Defenseman Brandon Carlo also recently said he loves playing in Boston. Similarly, RFA Charlie McAvoy says after the Cup Final loss, he wants to play in Boston for his whole career, if possible. McAvoy said the Cup finals loss was disappointing from the point of view he wanted to carry on Boston’s tradition (Patriots, Red Sox) of winning titles. McAvoy enters the summer as a RFA and is looking to sign a long term deal with the Bruins.
  • Former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote has a son named Nolan that is expected to drafted in the 2nd round in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver. Nolan is a power forward who played for Kelowna of the WHL this past season. In 66 games with the Rockets this season, Foote recorded 36 goals and 27 assists for 63 points. Nolan’s older brother, Cal Foote, is a defenseman who was drafted in 2017 in the first round to Tampa Bay and played with the ‘Bolts AHL this past season.
  • Flames prospect Spencer Foo is reportedly leaving the Flames organization to sign in the KHL, with the Kanlun Red Stars. Foo is apparently wanting to represent his country, China, in the 2022 Winter Olympics which are in Beijing.
  • Some people have speculated the Canucks may announce something soon regarding the retirement of Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s #22 and #33 jersey’s. On the eve of the Entry Draft, June 20th at Rogers Arena the organization is holding a Summer Summit for season ticket holders. The Canucks will celebrate their 50th year in the NHL in the 2019-20 season.
  • I read 44% of Canadians (15.9 million viewers) watched all or part of the Raptors championship clinching win this past Thursday. I heard many people comment that Raptors basketball was at least, if not more, entertaining than the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 02 Jun 2019

Here are some news & notes items from around the NHL. The Bruins lead the Cup finals series 2 games to 1 and the Cup should be awarded within a week. NHL activity will continue over the summer as the buy-out window opens two days after the Cup is awarded. The Draft is June 21 & 22 in Vancouver and then UFA’s are signed on July 1. August is usually the quietest month for NHL activity.

League-related

  • Commissioner Gary Bettman met with the media prior to game one of the Finals. Some of the key points:
    • The league is in the strongest position in history both financially and in terms of competitive balance.
    • TV ratings are up in the USA & Canada. This post-season has been the most watched ever. The league digital content is also in demand.
    • Both the league and NHLPA have an opt-out clause their CBA contract that can be exercised in September 2019 effective for the following, 2020-21, season. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated discussions between the two sides are ongoing and are expected to continue over the summer. The league has been clear they want labour peace as the game is growing and revenue is growing which benefits both the owners and players. I’ve not heard how the players characterize the CBA discussions as the talks have been kept out of the news.
    • Puck and player tracking is still scheduled to be rolled out in the 2019-20 season. Should be interesting. I sense some skepticism among agents and players.
    • The NHL is interested in getting involved in professional women’s hockey but they are waiting for the dust to settle a bit on recent events including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. A second women’s league, the National Women’s Hockey League, recently canceled their plans to expand to Toronto and Montreal. There is also some talk of a third women’s league starting. Bettman said they want to help grow the women’s game but, for now, will wait to take further steps.
    • The NHL has not moved closer to Olympic participation. Their stance hasn’t changed – for the league, they see no benefit to their owners to shutting the NHL for two weeks mid-season.
    • There will be no preseason games in China for the 2019-20 season. Apparently arena availability is the reason why. China is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution and a lot of public facilities are booked up. The league is still committed to growing the game in China and plan to be back with preseason games in the 2020-21 season. Apparently a number of players will visit China this summer and the league is making a financial investment plus planning promotional work to continue the China/NHL partnership.
    • From the league’s perspective, the Seattle franchise is making good progress on all fronts from building renovations to their team name.
    • On video review and the missed Sharks hand pass that led to their game winning goal in game 3 of the Western Conference Final, Bettman said both the league and officials were unhappy the call was missed and said it was an unfortunate mistake. He added the league is looking at expanding video review but they aim to reach balance of not too much review while ensuring the calls on the ice are correctly made. The topic of expanding video review will be discussed at the upcoming Competition Committee meetings, the GM meetings and the next Board of Governors meeting. Bettman’s concern on video review is some is OK but how to strike a balance while keeping the games moving in a timely manner.
  • The Competition Committee meets next week (June 11) in Toronto. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman and Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold were recently added to the Committee. Yzerman replaces Peter Chiarelli and Leipold replaces Flames owner Murray Edwards. Predators GM David Poile, Sharks GM Doug Wilson and Oilers GM Ken Holland are some of the members of the Committee. The NHLPA is still finalizing it’s members.
  • The next General Managers meeting is in Vancouver on June 20, the day before the Entry Draft.
  • The NHL also has a CBA with on ice officials that expires in September and the whole area of video review is an important topic with officials as well. The whole Situation Room, which is the Toronto-based location where plays are currently reviewed, is going to be included in upcoming discussions. The Situation Room rules on off-side challenge, goaltender interference or kicked in goals but these are the only areas within their jurisdiction. Will their role be expanded as part of video review and who has the final say – the Situation Room back in Toronto or the on ice officials? The GM’s, to this point, have been reluctant to make any changes to video review. If they do recommend changes, the Competition Committee and the BOG have to both sign off. Bettman does not want too many plays reviewed as it changes the flow and entertainment factor of games. How do the on ice officials feel about altering video review and taking the decision making from them? These are just some of the issues that will be discussed and changes will be made for next season.
  • The NHL is expected to sign a deal to keep the Scouting Combine in Buffalo for a few more seasons. It’s been held in Buffalo since 2015. Combine events were held at Harborcenter and KeyBank Center, which are in close proximity to each other, with good success.

Seattle

  • The Seattle franchise has narrowed their search for the home of their AHL team to Boise, Idaho and Palm Springs, California. The AHL team start date will be the same as Seattle’s – the start of the NHL’s 2021-22 season. With Palm Springs, it would require the construction of a new arena not to mention an entirely new AHL franchise starting from scratch. With Boise, they’d take over the ECHL Boise Steelheads and convert the operation from an ECHL to AHL franchise. Boise does have an arena in place.
  • NHL Seattle CEO Tim Leiweke recently said the name, logo and team colors are planned to be unveiled by the end of 2019, at the latest. Jersey’s won’t be available for sale before mid 2020. They want to strategically build momentum leading up to the start of their first season in Sept/Oct 2021.
  • Some talk Seattle may look to soon replace Dave Tippett who was in the role of Senior Adviser but essentially running their Hockey Operations Group. I’ve heard no names being discussed for a Tippett replacement.

Team Management News

  • The Oilers announced Dave Tippett as their new head coach. Tippett has 14 years of NHL head coaching experience; eight years as Coyotes bench boss and before that six years as head coach of the Dallas Stars. Oilers consultant Ken Hitchcock apparently was instrumental in the search and hiring. Tippett’s deal is for three years at an annual rate of between $2.75 M and $3 M /season. Tippett has already started to form his coaching staff for next season. The team parted ways with both Trent Yawney and Manny Vivieros (some speculate Yawney could end up on Todd McLellan’s staff in LA). Glen Gulutzan will stay on with the Oilers and will be responsible for the PP. Apparently, Jay Woodcroft, who was hired as an assistant coach by then Oilers Todd McLellan, will remain head coach of the Oilers AHL club in Bakerfield. Woodcroft just completed his first season as Bakerfield’s head coach (42 W & 21 L) and reportedly enjoyed being a head coach and running the bench. NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke called Tippett someone who will always be a great friend to the Seattle organization and credited him with forming the blueprint for Seattle’s Hockey Operations Department. Leiweke indicated Tippett said he still has a passion for coaching. I heard when the Seattle start date got pushed back from September 2020 to 2021, Tippett felt he need to make change and get working for a team already in the league sooner than later. His final coaching season before being hired in Edmonton was in 2016-17.
  • Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey will not be back with the Oilers next season. He was hired as a consultant last season to work with the team’s defense group.
  • With the Ducks open head coaching position, GM Bob Murray has interviewed both Dallas Stars assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Todd Nelson plus Islanders assistant coach Lane Lambert. Another name that recently emerged was NCAA Minnesota Deluth head coach Scott Sandelin. Sandelin, 54, has coach Minnesota Deluth since 2000 and has won 5 NCAA titles in that time. The final name and seemingly leading candidate is Dallas Eakins who is currently the head coach of the Ducks AHL affiliate in San Diego. Eakins record in 4 seasons with San Diego is 154-96-0-23.
  • Some talk former LA head coach John Stevens could join the Dallas Stars as an assistant coach but nothing official has been announced.
  • San Jose Sharks added former Panthers head coach Bob Boughner to Peter DeBoer’s staff as an assistant coach. Boughner was an assistant coach with the Sharks from 2015-2017 before he was named Panthers head coach at the start of this season. Rob Zettler will not return to the Sharks as an assistant coach next season. Boughner reportedly has a close relationship with Sharks star defenseman Brent Burns. Burns won the Norris for the league’s top defenseman when Boughner was running the Sharks defense group.
  • Former LA Kings head coach Willie Desjardins is the new GM and head coach of the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers.

Scuttlebutt

  • Heard the Sabres and forward Jeff Skinner are getting close on a eight year deal at $9 M / season. Some see the $9 M /season figure as on the high side as Skinner’s career high in points is 63. Seems to me 90 point players get ~ $9 M /  season not 60 point players.
  • Sportsnet reported Saturday that pending UFA Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson has given himself the next week to decide if he wants to stay in San Jose and try and reach a contract agreement or look at other teams. Karlsson wants to win a championship and apparently sees the Sharks as a contending team.
  • The Canucks are continuing negotiations with defenseman Alex Edler. The team is also trying to sign RFA Brock Boeser but the sides are apparently far apart on contract terms. It is expected Boeser’s new contract will make him the highest paid Canucks player. Loui Eriksson, at $6 M/season, is currently the highest paid Canucks player.
  • Flyer GM Chuck Fletcher recently indicated he plans to be very aggressive around July 1 free agency. Some of the Flyers pressing needs include a top 4 defenseman, some scoring help, a number two center plus a goaltender to back-up and mentor 20 yo Carter Hart. Fletcher also needs to sign restricted free agents defenseman Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Travis Sandheim and Scott Laughton. Fletcher also recently said they are open to moving their first round draft pick (11th overall) for the right deal. I sense discontent among Flyers fans for the team’s lack of recent success. They have not won a playoff series since the 2011-12 season and have missed the playoffs four of the past seven seasons. The Flyers have won 2 Cups in their 51 seasons in the league but their most recent one was back in the 1974-75 season.
  • Penguins GK Jim Rutherford said the organization is open to the possibility that forward Phil Kessel plays for the Penguins in the 2019-20 season. Kessel would not waive his no trade clause for a deal Rutherford had worked out with the Wild. Some say it’s still possible Kessel goes to the Wild but he’d have to OK a trade.
  • Was a report this week said Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba is being shopped to teams. There’s talk the Minnesota native prefers to play in the States. Trouba, 25, is a RFA who signed a one year $5.5 M last summer. He recorded an impressive 50 points in 82 Jets games this past season while averaging just under 23 minutes of ice time per game. Trouba never seemed like he wanted to play in Winnipeg and had requested a trade numerous times including just before the start of the 2016-17 season.
  • Flames defenseman TJ Brodie is one year from UFA and is expected to get moved this summer. Brodie played with Flames captain Mark Giordano in the team’s top pairing but struggled at times.  Since he’s just the one year left on his deal, I don’t expect the team would get a lot in return for the player. Another name possibly moving on from Calgary is defenseman Travis Hamonic who has been in Calgary for 2 years and one season from UFA status. His second season as a Flame was much better than his first. He’s a rugged, tough defenseman who is popular with teammates and does endless charity work in the community.
  • The Hurricanes have generated more than $5.1 M in new ticket sales for next season as of May 30. Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon bought the team at the start of 2018 and has already turned into into a more successful franchise. The Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers are also in the Calder Cup finals.
  • Some recent talk that offer sheets could occur around July 1 but not for higher paid players but more for the mid-tier group. Compensation due to team where their player receives an offer sheet where the dollar value is the average annual value on the newly signed contract.
    • $1,395,053 or below: none
    • $1,395,054 – $2,113,716 – 3rd round draft pick
    • $2,113,717 – $4,227,437 – 2nd round draft pick
    • $4,227,438 – $6,341,152 – 1st and a 3rd rounder
    • $6,341,153 – $8,454,871 – 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounder
    • $8,454,872 – $10,568,589 – Two 1st’s, 2nd and 3rd
    • $10,568,590 – Four first round draft picks
  • Players like Mitch Marner, who would be in the $10 M- $11 M range, are not expected to get an offer sheet but players like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson, in the $4 M range, are expected to.

Cup Finals

  • With Saturday night’s 7-2 win, the Bruins lead the series 2 games to 1. Since 1939 in the Cup Finals, the team winning game 3 when the series was tied 1-1 has gone on to win the Stanley Cup 78% of the time.
  • The Bruins PP went 4/4 (4 goals on 4 shots on goal) in game 3 and now is converting at a rate of 35.9% (23 for 63) this post season.
  • The Blues have taken 14 penalties in the first three Cup Finals games. They were the least penalized team after the first three rounds but are struggling in the Finals to stay out of the penalty box.
  • Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is an underrated player. Krug led the Bruins with 4 points (1-3) in game 3 and has 44 points in 58 career post-season games. He’s a steady 50 point defenseman during the regular season. Krug, 28, has one year left on his deal before becoming UFA.
  • Blues need to get a lead in game 4; their record this post season is 10-3 when they score first.
  • Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is the leading candidate to be the Conn Smythe winner for playoff MVP. Rask has a 1.91 GAA in the Bruins 20 playoff games this year plus a .939 SV%.
  • If the Bruins win the series, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be the first Bruins player to captain the team multiple Stanley Cup victories. Chara is the 2nd oldest player to play in the Cup finals. Only Doug Harvey (43 years) was older than Chara (42 years).

Entry Draft Top Five

  • Experts are predicting the top 5 draft selection at the June 21,22 Entry Draft in Vancouver will be:
    • #1 Jack Hughes to New Jersey (American)
    • #2 Kaapo Kakko to New York Rangers (Finn)
    • #3 Bowen Byram to Chicago (Cranbrook, BC)
    • #4 Alex Turcotte to Avs via Ott from Duchene trade (American). Played with USA Under 18 National Team this past season where in 16 games recorded 34 points. Turcotte could go third overall as he’s from Illinois and the Blackhawks own the 3rd overall pick. Projects as an NHL number one center in due time.
    • #5 Kirby Dach to LA (Canadian). Dach has played 3 season with the Saskatoon Blades & last season recorded 73 points on 25 goals in 62 games.

Transactions

  • Ottawa signed goaltender Anders Nilsson to a two year deal at an AAV of $2.6 M. Nilsson will make $2.8 M in 2019-20 and $2.4 M in 2020-21. After a mid-season trade from Vancouver, Nilsson went 11 W & 11 L in 24 appearances. His GAA in those games was 2.90 with a .914 SV%. Nilsson was to become a July 1, 2019 UFA. Ottawa now has goaltenders Craig Anderson, Nilsson and Mike Condon all under contract for next season.
  • Dallas signed forward Joel Kiviranta to a two year entry level contract. Kiviranta, 23, won a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships playing for Team Finland. In the 2018-19 season, Kiviranta recorded 16 G & 15 A in 48 games playing in Finland. Stars have had good success with Finnish hockey players with names such as Esa Lindell, Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz and past players such as forward Jere Lehtinen who had his #26 jersey retired by the Stars franchise.
  • The Penguins re-signed defenseman Juuso Riikola to a one year one way contract at $850,000. Riikola, 25, played in 37 Pens games in 2018-19, his first season in the league. Before joining the Penguins, Riikola played in the Finnish league for 6 seasons.
  • Las Vegas signed Danish forward Jonas Rondbjerg to his 3 year entry level contract. Rondbjerg reportedly impressed scouts with his play in the Swedish Hockey League. This past campaign he recorded 6 points in 45 games. Rondbjerg, 20, was a 3rd round draft pick of the Golden Knights back in 2017.
  • The Red Wings signed Oliwer Kaski to a one year entry level contract. Kaski is a Finn who recently won a gold medal at the World Championships. He’s 23 years old, 6’3”, 190 pounds and shoots right. He recorded 59 points in 51 games in the Finnish league this past season.
  • The Islanders signed their 6th round pick from 2017 LW Arnaud Durandeau. This season playing for Halifax of the QMJHL Durandeau recorded 93 points in 91 games (reg season + playoffs). Durandeau turned 20 years old in January so could end up playing with the Isles AHL affiliate in Bridgeport for the 2019-20 season.
  • Ottawa signed center Josh Norris to his 3 year entry level contract. Norris, 20, was acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade and was a first round /19th overall draft pick of San Jose back in 2017. Norris played the past two seasons at U of Michigan. In the 2018-19 season, Norris recorded 10 goals and 9 assists in 17 games. His season was cut short by an ankle injury suffered at the 2019 World Juniors tournament. Norris was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for the top player in college hockey. He says he’s aiming to make the Senators out of training camp in the 2019-20 season.

Leafs

  • GM Kyle Dubas recently said he is very hopeful the team will have a signed contract with RFA Mitch Marner by July 1, 2019. Dubas and Marner’s agent met multiple times during last weeks scouting combine in Buffalo. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Marner could meet with teams during the courting period for free agents (June 26 to June 30) but Dubas said there was no indications from Marner’s representatives he plans to do that. Signing Marner to an offer sheet would cost a team approx 4 first round draft picks which no team would go for. I heard the team would like to keep the per year cap number below $10 M but Marner believes he’s in the same range as Matthews ($11.6 M). Leafs may have overpaid on the Matthews deal. Marner’s deal is also expected to be 5 years or less.
  • Was reported this week that forward Patrick Marleau wants to play closer to the West Coast and the Leafs are talking to  Colorado, Arizona and LA about a possible deal. Marleau played for new Kings coach Todd McLellan before, with the San Jose Sharks. With the Leafs cap crunch moving him would seem to be beneficial for the organization though he’s a possible future Hall of Fame player. It does not sound like a deal is close but more of just discussions this point. Marleau is owed $6.25 M in the 2019-20 season. The Leafs would apparently need to retain salary to move Marleau; some say as much as $2 M / season. Marleau turns 40 in September and recorded 37 points on 16 goals in 82 games played this past season.
  • Some other names being mentioned in trade include forward Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen and Nazem Kadri. Seems for Kadri, the talk is the Leafs are just checking his market value or possibly looking to get a defenseman in return. Kadri has 3 years left at $4.5 M which is a reasonable number but he obviously struggles to keep his emotions in check during key games.
  • Was reported this week that defenseman Nikita Zaitsev would like a fresh start with a new organization. Zaitsev has 5 years at $4.5 M /season left on his contract. He’s the team’s top right shot defenseman. The only other right shot defenseman under contract is Justin Holl who has yet to make the Leafs on the full-time basis (played in just 11 Leafs games last season). Dubas said there is a chance Zaitsev is back with the Leafs in the 2019-20 season (if they can’t get a good return for the player). He’s struggled some after signing the 7 year deal but did play well with Jake Muzzin particularly against a very good Bruins team in the post season. Zaitsev is owed a $3 M signing bonus (the remaining $1.5 M is paid in 2019-20 salary) on July 1, 2019 so that could delay a deal until after July 1 when the new team would not have to pay the bonus. Experts say both top defenseman prospects Rasmus Sandin (19 yo) and Timothy Liljegren (20 yo) are not yet ready for the NHL while Calle Rosen (25 yo) is more-so but need to earn Babcock’s trust to get more playing time.
  • There seems to be a possibility the team signs July 1 UFA Ron Hainsey to a one year deal. With Zaitsev possibly being traded and Travis Dermott out until November recovering from shoulder surgery, plus Gardiner leaving as a UFA, the team is thin on the blueline.
  • The Leafs do not have a first round draft pick in the June entry draft. Dubas said it’s not likely they trade to move up saying they are focused on their 53rd (2nd round) pick.
  • Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe has signed a two year extension. He said he was not interested in being a Leafs assistant coach adding he feels he has a very good situation for him and his family leading the Marlies.
  • Leafs AGM Laurence Gilman is GM of the Marlies, He took over from Dubas in that position at the start of the season. Gilman was GM of the NHL affiliate in his past positions, AGM with the Canucks and with the Coyotes. Gilman also manages the Marlies relationship with their ECHL affiliate, the Newfoundland Growlers who are one win away from advancing to the Kelly Cup finals.
  • Prospect forward Martins Dzierkals (drafted in 2015 in the 3rd round) was recently nominated for the rookie of the year in the KHL. In 42 games this season, Dzierkals, 22, recorded 13 points.
  • Marlies player Justin Brazeau was named an OHL First Team All-Star. Playing for North Bay this past season, Brazeau recorded 61 goals and 52 assists, 113 points in 68 games (I’m not sure why the player was never drafted by an NHL team). Max Hollowell a forth round draft pick from 2018 was also named a First Team All-Star. Hollowell plays for the Soo Greyhounds where he recorded 77 points in 74 games on 24 goals.
  • The Leafs traded unsigned defenseman Fedor Gordeev to the Wild for a conditional seventh round pick in 2020. Gordeev was drafted by the Leafs in the 5th round of 2017. Gordeev has already signed his entry level contract with the Wild.

Odds & Ends

  • Read where TV ratings for the Raptors game one win in the NBA Finals had around 20% of the country tuning into at least part of the game and a reported 11% watching the whole game.
  • Chicago Wolves (Vegas’ AHL team) and the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) are playing the Calder Cup championship. The series started Saturday and the teams are tied at a game each.
  • Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck (back) and Andrew Ladd (knee) both recently had surgery. Clutterbuck is expected to the ready for September training camp while seems as though Ladd will not be.
  • Oilers new head coach Dave Tippett says he liked the idea of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl playing together on the same line. There’s been the debate is it better to have them on the same line or try and balance the forward lines by splitting them up. Tippett said he’s seen the incredible chemistry the two stars have playing together.
  • New Jersey appears to have a very good prospect in defenseman Ty Smith. He was drafted 17th overall in the 2018 Entry Draft. This recent season playing with Spokane of the WHL, Smith, 19, recorded 7 goals and 62 assists for 69 points in 57 games. Smith was co-captain of the Chiefs this season. He was also named Canadian Hockey League Defenseman of the Year an award that was previously won by players such as HOF defenseman Chris Pronger, Keith Yandle, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Ellis, highly rated Flyers RFA defenseman Ivan Provorov plus Ottawa top offensive defenseman Thomas Chabot. Smith was also named WHL Defenseman of the Year for the 2018-19 season.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 26 May 2019. STL vs Bruins Cup final starts Monday.

Decided to publish this week since the Cup finals start today.

League

  • Buffalo is hosting the NHL Scouting Combine this week. This is where players eligible to be drafted in June gather, are put through fitness testing and interviewed by teams. League management/GM’s are mostly all in attendance. The league announced top prospects Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Bowen Bryam, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach and Alex Turcotte are the six players that will make up top prospects media group. We could see some player movement or the start of discussions could occur as most of the 31 team GM’s are attending the event.
  • There were some rumblings this week that the league will not be going to China for preseason games this fall but no official announcement from the league has been made yet. The past two seasons the league has had games in China (Beijing and Shanghai) to promote the NHL in Asia particularly in advance of the 2022 Winter Olympics that are being held in China. No reason was discussed for not going. The league is planning to continue to grow the game in Asia so I expect games to he held there again in the future.
  • Commissioner Gary Bettman is scheduled to speak on Monday (May 27) before Game 1 of the Cup finals. Many people are expecting the topic of video review to be discussed.
  • With the Coyotes, there is expected to be an ownership change announced soon with current owner/hedge fund manager Anthony Barroway taking a minority position. He is currently the Coyotes majority owner. Apparently this issue is going to be discussed at the next Board of Governors meeting which is around the time of the NHL Awards (mid June in Las Vegas).
  • Rene Fasel, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, recently said they are looking at a time frame of September 2020 to have a commitment from the NHL on letting their players participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. NHL owners have generally been against letting players go since the league closes for two weeks mid season.
  • An independent arbitrator ruled that former LA Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is eligible to return to the NHL after the 41 game mark of the 2019-20 season. The NHL handed the player a one year suspension, the entire 2019-20 season, for a domestic violence incident that occurred back in October 2014 but the arbitrator ruled the player has already missed half a season and is thus eligible to return to the league after 41 games. Kind of mixed views on whether a team wants to take a chance on the player. LA indicated he won’t be back with their organization but they still hold his rights so any interested team would have to make a deal with them. Voynov last played in the NHL back in the 2013-14 season. He did not play at all this past season but, before that, played in the KHL for 3 seasons.

Team Management News

  • The Minnesota Wild announced Hockey Hall of Fame player Mike Modano was hired as an Executive Advisor. Modano will start with the Wild on September 1 and will be working with Wild President Matt Majka and owner Craig Leipold on initiatives related to sales, corporate partnerships and community relations. Modano previously worked for the Dallas Stars, from 2013-15, as an Executive Advisor and Alternate Governor.
  • Ottawa hired former Leafs assistant coach DJ Smith as their new head coach. Smith’s deal is for 3 seasons. There were 6-7 candidates in the running for the position but GM Dorion believes Smith, 42, will be able to work particularly well with the Senators young players. Smith is a noted strong communicator who Dorian thought was the right fit at this point in the progression of their rebuild. Before joining the Leafs as an assistant coach, he was head coach in Oshawa (OHL) where he worked with Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe. He was also an assistant coach with the Windsor Spitfires where he won the OHL Championship back in 2014-15.
  • Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin will return to the Penguins as an assistant coach under Mike Sullivan. Martin reportedly has one year left on his contract. He was in running for the Senators head coaching position.
  • The final two open head coaching positions (not including St. Louis where Craig Berube is interim until the two sides reach a contract agreement) are the Oilers and Anaheim. New Oilers GM Ken Holland reportedly met with Dave Tippett last week in Vancouver. Not a lot more news than that but it seems as though it will be Tippett. Holland is attending the Draft Combine this week in Buffalo so no announcement would be made until the week of June 3, at the earliest. Ken Hitchcock is acting as an advisor to Holland on the coaching hire.
  • Sharks GM Doug Wilson said recently that head coach Peter DeBoer will return behind the Sharks bench next season.
  • The Blackhawks announced Tomas Mitell has been hired as an assistant coach on head coach Jeremy Colliton’s staff. Mitell was head coach in the Swedish Hockey League the past two season’s and had a 64-27-13 record. He served as an assistant under Colliton during the 2016-17 season in the Swedish league. The ‘Hawks have a young coaching staff as Colliton is just 34 and Mitell is 38.
  • The Oilers parted ways with their Director of Pro Scouting Duane Sutter last week. They also moved out JJ Hebert who was in charge of team public relations. VP of Player Personnel Scott Howson, formerly GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is still with the organization.

Scuttlebutt

  • Seems Penguins forward Phil Kessel will be moved this summer. There was apparently a deal in place for Kessel to go to Minnesota for forward Jason Zucker plus former Hurricanes forward Victor Rask but the Wild are on Kessel’s eight team “no trade” list and he did not want to waive it. The Wild are apparently looking to play faster, more offensive brand of hockey next season. Kessel is 32 but, over an 800+ game NHL career, has averaged .83 PPG plus he now has 2 Cups.
  • Some player agents believe the offer sheet possibility is more likely this summer with players such as Leafs Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen possibly getting offers. Team’s know the Leafs are in a salary cap crunch. For players offered $4 M /season or less, the compensation going back, if the other team doesn’t match, is a 2nd round draft pick.
  • The agent for pending UFA Jeff Skinner and Sabres GM Jason Botterill will reportedly continue negotiations at the Draft Combine this week in Buffalo.
  • There’s been some speculation that Lightning forward Ryan Callahan could end up with the Sabres. Callahan is owed $5.8 M in the final year of his deal (for the 2019-20 season). The Lightning reportedly would have to retain salary to make a deal with the Sabres. It seems doubtful Callahan is back with the Lightning next season.
  • Pending UFA defenseman Erik Karlsson is apparently looking at either the Lightning, NY Rangers or San Jose Sharks on July 1 (he’s a UFA). There’s been some talk Karlsson may have surgery on his injured groin that hampered him all season. I believe this injury is affecting team’s interest in signing him to a max / 7 year deal at Drew Doughty money ($11 M/season). Karlsson struggled all season with the injury and in the post-season.

Cup Finals Notes

  • The Blues and Bruins have each scored 57 goals in these playoffs.
    • 1st period: 16-16
    • 2nd period: 16-16
    • 3rd period: 24-24
    • OT: 1-1
  • GM of the Year candidate Doug Armstrong is getting a lot of credit now that the Blues are in the finals. Four of the Blues top nine points leaders were acquired this summer by Armstrong including Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon.
  • Blues head coach Craig Berube said the other day the Blues are playing better as the post-season goes on and their physical play has worn down some of their post-season opponents.
  • Berube is just the 11th coach all-time to take over a team mid-season and make it to the Cup finals.
  • This is the 4th time in their franchise history the Blues have made the Cup finals and they’ve yet to win a game. Their most recent visit was May 1970. In their past three Cup finals appearances:
    • 1970 Swept in 4 straight games against Boston
    • 1969 Swept in 4 straight games against Montreal
    • 1968 Swept in 4 straight games against Montreal
  • Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo has set a franchise record for post season points in a season for a defenseman with 13.
  • Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester played the 7th most regular season games (1,184 games) before reaching the Cup finals. Dave Andreychuk leads that list with 1,597 games played before reaching the Cup finals. Patrick Marleau in second with 1,411 games played and never reaching the final series.
  • Leading Conn Smythe (playoffs MVP) candidate Tuukka Rask is three wins away from reaching 50 career post-season wins. He’ll be just the second netminder (Cheevers the other) in the 95 year history of the Bruins franchise to reach 50 career post-season wins. Gerry Cheevers leads the Bruins in all-time post-season wins with 53.
  • The Bruins PP in the post-season is converting at a rate of 34%.

World Championship

  • Team Finland captured the gold with Canada taking the silver and Russia taking the bronze. The Finns defeated Sweden, Russia and Canada in the medal round. Finland also won goal at the World Juniors this past January.
  • Canada advanced to the Gold Medal game for the 4th time in the past 5 tournament (won Gold in 2015 and 2016 and Silver in 2017). In the gold medal game, Canada out shot Finland 44-22 but lost 3-1.
  • Canada’s assistant captain Mark Stone was named tournament MVP. He led all players with 8 goals and added 14 assists in for 22 points in 10 games.
  • Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko, who is expected to go second overall to the NY Rangers at the June entry draft, has now won 3 gold medals, at the Under 18’s, the Under 20’s and now the World Championships. This is just the past calendar year. Kakko just turned 18 years old.
  • It seems winning the World Championships is a lot bigger deal in Europe than North America. In Finland, there was 2.43 million viewers tuned in to the quarter finals game against the Swedes.
  • Leafs William Nylander had a strong tournament with 18 points in 8 games. The Swedes finished the tournament in 5th place. Rikard Gronborg, who was in consideration for the Sabres head coaching position, was the Swedes head coach.

Signings

  • The New York Islanders signed forward Brock Nelson to a six year, $36 M contract ($6 M/season for 6 years). Nelson recorded 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points in 82 games. He’s 27 years old and was drafted by the Isles 30th overall in 2010. Sounds as though the Islanders want to get their captain, Anders Lee, name on a contract as well as fellow July 1, 2019 UFA goaltender Robin Lehner. Seems forward and pending UFA Jordan Eberle will go to July 1 where he can sign with any team.
  • Winnipeg Jets signed goaltender Laurent Brossoit to a one year contract for $1.225 M. Brossoit, 26, was a UFA. In 21 appearances last season for the Jets, his record was 13 wins, 6 losses and 2 OTL’s. His GAA was 2.52 and SV% .925.
  • Montreal signed defenseman Brett Kulak to a 3 year, $5.5 M contract (AAV $1.85 M).
  • The Avalanche signed goaltender Pavel Francouz to a one year, one way contract. Francouz played this past season with the Avs AHL team, the Colorado Eagles, where he recorded a 27-17-3 record in 49 games with a 2.68 GAA and a .918 SV% with 3 shutouts. Francouz spent 3 seasons in the KHL before signing with the Avs in 2017. Looking to next season, the Avs starter is expected to be Phillip Grubauer. Semyon Varlamov is a UFA on July 1, 2019 so Francouz could be the Avs back-up.
  • The Oilers signed free agent forward Joakim Nygard to a one year entry level contract. This past season in the Swedish Hockey League, Nygard recorded 21 goals and 14 assists for 35 points in 52 games played. Nygard’s 21 goals was 2nd most in the SHL for the 2018-19 season. Read where a scout said Nygard is super fast but about a 3rd or 4th liner plus possibly penalty killer at the NHL level. There were reportedly about 20 NHL teams interested in signing the player. After the 2019-20 season, Nygard will be unrestricted.
  • The Oilers also signed goaltender Olivier Rodrigue to a 3 year entry level contract. The 18 yo Quebec native recorded a 35-12 record with a 2.43 GAA and .902 SV% with the QMJHL Drummondville Voltigeurs this season. Rodrigue was drafted in the 2nd round in 2018, 62nd overall.

Sharks

  • Since GM Doug Wilson took over as GM of the Sharks in the 2003-04 season, their organization has played in the most post-season games (174) of any team. The Penguins with their 3 Cups are next with 173. The Sharks have been to the Cup finals once and have been to three Western Conference finals in the past 10 years but the Cup has so far eluded their franchise.
  • Sharks forward Joe Thornton said he’s not ready to make any decisions on his future but, if he is back for another season, it will only be with the Sharks. Thornton turns 40 on July 2. Since Thornton was acquired from the Bruins back in 2005, he has accumulated the 3rd most points (1,024) of any NHL player. Only Crosby and Ovechkin have more. Thornton recorded 51 points in 72 games this season which is incredible as he’s had back to back season’s where he’s been recovering from ACL/MCL surgery on his knee.
  • Pending UFA forward Joe Pavelski said he’s “pretty confident” he’ll be back with the Sharks next season. Pavelski turns 35 this summer. He had a terrific season for the Sharks recording 38 goals and 26 assists for 64 points in 75 games.

Leafs

  • The Leafs announced Paul McFarland has been added as an assistant coach on Mike Babcock’s staff. McFarland, 33, has worked as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers for the past 2 seasons where he ran the #2 in the league PP. He’ll handle the forwards and PP for the Leafs. McFarland was head coach of the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL from 2014-16 and had had a 111-71-22 record. McFarland has an Education degree from Acadia University.
  • The team also announced assistant coach Jim Hiller was granted permission to seek opportunities outside the Leafs organization. He has apparently interviewed with Nashville and Arizona.
  • Seems as though Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe in next in line to be the Leafs head coach. It doesn’t appear Keefe is going to be a Leafs assistant or an assistant anywhere first. Some people believe it’d be better for him to be an assistant at the NHL level but he seems to indicate his goal is to be a head coach only. Experts see that Babcock is looking for an experienced NHL coach to take Hiller position, running the defense and PK, and Keefe is does not fit that role. Some names being mentioned to replace Hiller include former LA head coach John Stevens, former Senators assistant Marc Crawford or Dave Lowry (former assistant coach with the LA Kings).
  • The Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year is Leafs Ian Scott. Scott went 38-8-1-2 with a .932 SV% and a 1.83 GAA for the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders in the regular season. He also lead the Raiders to the WHL championship this season. He was drafted 103rd overall by the Leafs in 2017.
  • The Marlies were knocked out of the of the AHL post-season losing the Conference finals to the Charlotte Checkers 4 games to 2. Game 6 in Charlotte when to double OT. The Marlies went 9-4 in the post-season. Charlotte now advances to the Calder Cup finals where they’ll play the  Chicago Wolves (Vegas’ AHL club).
  • Marlies forward Trevor Moore recorded 5 goals in 10 post-season games. Seems he’ll be a full-time NHL player in the 2019-20 season.

Odds & Ends

  • The Canadian Hockey League player of the year is Alexis Lafreniere. This season playing for Rimouski of the QMJHL, Lafreniere recorded 37 goals & 68 assists for 105 points in 61 games played. Lafreniere, 17, is expected to go first overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
  • Vancouver Giants (WHL) defenseman Bowen Byram was named Canadian Hockey League top prospect. Byram will go in the top 5 in the June (2019) entry draft.
  • New York Rangers prospect defenseman Adam Fox was named the Jim Johannson player of the year by USA Hockey.
  • Noah Dobson, drafted 12th overall by the Islanders in 2018, now has 2 Memorial Cups. His team, Rouyn-Noranda defeated Halifax 4-2 in the Memorial Cup final.
  • The Golden Knights are building a new practice rink and training facility in Henderson, Nevada. The facility will have two NHL size ice rinks, retail space and 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • The Raptors have a chance to break Canada’s pro sports championship drought. A Canadian-based team has not won the Cup since 1993 (Montreal) but with the Raptors in the NBA Finals, they could win their first championship since becoming a Canadian sports franchise in 1995.
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NHL News & Notes to 19 May 2019

Here are some news & notes items from around the NHL.

League-related

  • NBC reported this NHL post-season is the most watched in their history of broadcasting the games.
  • Video review – the league constant altering of the rules around what’s reviewable and what is not is again causing controversy. In last Wednesday’s Sharks vs Blues game, there was a hand pass by Sharks forward Timo Meier in OT that directly led to San Jose’s game winning goal by Erik Karlsson and a 2-1 series lead for the Sharks. The play caused a lot of confusion for fans who didn’t understand why the goal counted. Seems video review is allowed only in certain situations, goalie interference and off-side challenge, and the on ice referees missed the call. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated in an interview that the Meier hand pass to Karlsson was missed by the on ice officials and it is not a reviewable play. Seems as though there will be more discussion in the off-season and into next season about the use of video review. In the NFL, any play that involves a touchdown is reviewable. The NHL General Managers agreed in meetings this season what was reviewable and what was not and only the two situations are (off-side challenge and goaltender interference after a goal). The GM’s wanted to have limited video reviews in the interest of time (a 2.5 hour game turns into 3+ hours if too many plays are video reviewed) but, particularly in the post-season, they need to get the calls right.
  • UFA interview period opens June 23rd. Pending UFA’s can talk to teams, other than their own, but not discuss contract details and not sign until July 1. Last season John Tavares met with 4-5 different teams from his agent’s LA office before agreeing to a 7 year deal with the Leafs. Similarly the RFA interview period opens 3 days later on June 26.

Seattle

  • The league’s 32nd franchise recently launched a website with a FAQ’s section about the team. Some key points:
    • The team does not play it’s first regular season game for 2 more seasons, October 2021 is the time frame.
    • The team name will be announced in the Fall of 2019.
    • KeyArena will hold 17,300 for NHL hockey. There were 33,000 fans making a season ticket deposit. Building reno’s are suppose to be completed by June 2021.
    • Fans with reserved seasons tickets can select their seats in the Fall of 2019.
    • Seattle expansion draft is June 2021. The Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from the expansion draft; it was condition of entry into the league.
  • The Seattle hockey group CEO Tim Leiweke recently said they plan to break ground on their new practice facility (Northgate Ice Center) in an area of Seattle called Northgate in January 2020. It’s a $90 M, 15 month project scheduled to be completed in May 2021.
  • The Seattle franchise has reportedly contacted Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito about their open GM position. Zito is a former player agent and was also GM of the USA World Championship team last year. Some other names getting interest from Seattle include former Canucks GM Mike Gillis and London Knights owner/GM Mark Hunter. Apparently, the Seattle group would hire a GM now if the right person was available but they are also willing to be patient and hire next summer.
  • The Seattle group has apparently taken on a number of new equity partners, including a few Canadians, for a one time price of $5 M. Article here. This is to apparently offset some of the $900 M cost they’ve incurred for the KeyArena renovations.

Team Management News

  • MLSE signed President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan to a six year extension. Shanahan is now under contract until the 2024-25 season. The team is apparently very happy that Shanahan has been able to mold the organization with a solid, championship type culture. The team has recorded back to back 100 point seasons for the first time in the organization’s history.
  • The New York Rangers hired former Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson as their new president. Davidson had been with the Blue Jackets since 2012.  The contract was for 5 years. The Blue Jackets will not replace Davidson’s position and GM Jarmo Kekalainen will be the top hockey exec with the team. Blue Jackets owner John McConnell said JD is a man of “great compassion and character” and they wish him well. The Blue Jackets had a winning record in six of Davidson’s seven season’s in Columbus. The Rangers also announced that SVP and AGM Jim Schoenfeld stepped down and is leaving the Rangers organization.
  • Craig MacTavish, former VP Hockey Operations with the Oilers, has signed a 2 year contract to be the head coach of KHL’s Lokomotiv team. Should be an interesting challenge for MacTavish as 95% of the players speak Russian. MacT reportedly is looking to hire a Russian speaking assistant coach. I heard MacTavish say he felt like he needed a change and indicated he missed coaching. Apparently Flyers assistant coach Michel Therrien was offered the same position in the KHL but signed on with the Flyers as an assistant coach.
  • With the Senators, their COO Nic Ruszkowski is leaving the organization after less than a year in the role. The organization previously had Tom Anselmi as CEO and he moved on and before that Cyril Leeder (as president). Article that covers the org changes is here. Seems Ruszkowski parting was cordial as he’s staying on for a few months as an adviser. The organization is also still looking to hire a president of hockey operations but they’re looking at after the post-season at the earliest to get that search going. Owner Eugene Melynk indicates there are candidates they want to talk to that are currently involved in the playoffs so they’ll wait until mid-June at the earliest. Melnyk added he may opt to hire two adviser type positions instead of a president of hockey ops. They want a person or persons to be a sounding board / support for GM Dorian as the team enters a pivotal stage of their rebuilding efforts.
  • The Edmonton Oilers hired former Red Wings GM Ken Holland as their General Manager and President of Hockey Operations. Holland’s deal is for 5 years at $5 M /season. Holland was with the Wings for 36 seasons (last 22 as GM) and won 3 Stanley Cups as a GM with the Wings. Oilers captain Connor McDavid is reportedly happy with the hire and is still committed to being part of winning solution in Edmonton. Holland says the team will aim to make the post season in 2019-20. Owner Darryl Katz said Holland will be given full autonomy over hockey operations. Holland said said he will make a few changes in the front office but not wholesale changes. I’ve heard Holland interviewed numerous times and he seems like a terrific person. He’s always makes himself available to talk about his team’s and answer questions.  CEO Bob Nicholson said landing Holland was like “hitting out of the park” as far as their expectations. The Oilers have made the post-season just once in the past 13 seasons.
  • Former Lightning AGM Pat Verbeek has joined the Red Wings organization as AGM to GM Steve Yzerman. Yzerman hired Verbeek when Yzerman was the Lightning GM.
  • Buffalo Sabres hire Ralph Krueger as their new head coach
    • Krueger was most recently chairman of Southampton Soccer team based in England. His hockey coaching resume includes 48 games as the Edmonton Oilers head coach where he went 19-21-7. Before becoming the Oilers head coach he was, for 2 years, an associate coach under Oilers head coach Tom Renney. He was also a Special Adviser to Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics where Canada won gold and Team Europe’s head coach in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Additionally, he was a scout under then Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford who recommended Krueger to Botterill. He also coached in the German and Swiss leagues. Krueger’s deal is for 3 years and reported to be worth between $11.5 M – $12 M or about $4 M /season. The new coach plans to meet with a few key Sabres players such as Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart who are over in Slovakia competing in the World Championships. Jeff Skinner was apparently also kept up-to-date with the coaching hire process as he is in discussions with the Sabres on a long term deal (Skinner is a July 1 UFA). Krueger is reportedly a high energy, positive person who is skilled at motivating players.
    • Former Oilers defenseman Steve Smith is an assistant coach with the Sabres and he was also an associate coach with Krueger when both were with the Oilers back in 2010/11. Speculation is Smith will be retained by the Sabres but no announcement of Krueger’s assistant coaches has been made.
    • Read where Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton said the team needs a defensive structure and he hopes that’s something Krueger can bring. The Sabres were 23rd in the league in goals against last season.
  • There’s been some talk new LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan will try and hire Jay Woodcroft who is the current head coach of the Oilers AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Woodcroft worked with McLellan previously when they were both with the Red Wings, Sharks and Oilers.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning added former Canadiens player Mathieu Darche as their Director of Hockey Operations.  Darche will work with Lightning GM Julien BriseBrois who got to know Darche when he played with Montreal (BriseBrois worked for the Canadiens in various management capacities before joining the Lightning organization). Darche will handle contract negotiations, budgeting and managing the team’s salary cap. Darche has a BCom from McGill and was involved in CBA negotiations as a player rep during the 2012-13 lockout.
  • Flyers new head coach Alain Vigneault added Michel Therrien to his coaching staff (as an assistant coach). Also added was Mike Yeo who was most recently the St. Louis Blues head coach before his dismissal in November of 2018. Vigneault reportedly prefers his assistant coaches to have prior NHL head coaching experience which both Therrien (814 games) and Yeo (482 games) do. Yeo was hired by GM Fletcher when he was with Minnesota (as the Wild’s head coach). Yeo will handle the defense and PK with the Flyers and Therrien will handle the forwards and the power play. The Flyers will have 2,454 games of NHL head coaching experience behind their bench next season. Last season’s interim head coach, Scott Gordon, will return as coach of the Flyers AHL team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Flyers will retain assistant coaches Ian Laperriere and goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh. Rick Wilson, who was brought in late last season with a lot of experience coaching defenseman, will not return.
  • Head coaching vacancies
    • In St. Louis, GM Doug Armstrong recently said he has one name on his list for a permanent head coach, the team’s interim head coach Craig Berube. The Blues went 38-19-6 in 63 games after Berube took over from Mike Yeo on November 19, 2018. Berube, along with Islanders Barry Trotz and ‘Bolts Jon Cooper, are the finalists for Coach of the Year award. Berube is the only current NHL head coach of First Nations decent.
    • With the Senators and their open head coaching vacancy, former Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy will be getting an interview. Rick Bowness, Dallas’ assistant coach, was interviewed last week. Bowness is a noted expert on defense systems and developing defenseman. Stars goaltender Ben Bishop has had Bowness as his defensive coach the past 5 seasons (with both Dallas and the Lightning) and three of those season’s he’s been nominated for the Vezina. Bishop said direct credit for that goes to Bowness. Some of the names still in the mix for the Ottawa head coaching position include Marc Crawford, Troy Mann (AHL Belleville Senators head coach), Jacques Martin, Leafs assistant coach DJ Smith and Nate Leaman (head coach of NCAA Providence). GM Pierre Dorian is reportedly looking for a coach that can teach and develop young players as the Senators have a young roster. The Sens are apparently looking at the end of the month to have their head coach hired.
    • Oilers search for a new head coach – new GM Ken Holland recently indicated that nothing is imminent. Holland reportedly was planning to make a few changes to the front office first.  The names that get mentioned for the Oilers head coach is Dave Tippett who is with the Seattle franchise as an adviser. Tippett has over 1,000 NHL games coached on his resume including stops in Dallas and Phoenix. Another name is Todd Nelson who Holland hired in Detroit as their AHL head coach (with Grand Rapids Griffins).
    • Anaheim Ducks – along with Dallas Eakins (head coach of the Ducks AHL affiliate in San Diego), Barry Trotz’s long time assistant, Lane Lambert, is getting an interview.

Scuttlebutt

  • The Blue Jackets enter the off-season with $30 M of cap space. General Manager Kekalainen still hopes to sign goaltender Bobrovsky, forward Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene but all players seems interested in exploring their July 1 offers. Bobrovsky wasted no time listing his Columbus residence with a “for sale” sign; happened 2 days after the season ended. Duchene has been linked to Nashville, Columbus or even back with the Ottawa Senators. Duchene said he’ll consider Columbus but if Panarin and Bobrovsky aren’t re-signed that could factor into his decision.
  • Seems Mats Zuccarello and the Dallas Stars were a good fit for each other. Both sides seem interested in talking about getting Zucc signed to a new deal. The player is a July 1 UFA. Zuccarello, 31, recorded 11 points in 13 games post-season games with the Stars.
  • Discussions on a new contract between the Sharks and pending UFA Erik Karlsson have been kept fairly quiet. Reports indicate the two sides are talking and the sticking point right now is term. Karlsson can sign a max 8 year but doesn’t seem like the Sharks want that length of term. Karlsson has battled injuries the past 2-3 seasons and is 29 years old. He played in 53 regular season games this season. I believe the New York Rangers could be interested in signing him on July 1.
  • With the Avalanche, forward Nathan MacKinnon injured his shoulder in the team’s final post-season game against San Jose but no surgery is required; just rest. The team wants to get Mikko Rantanen’s name on a contract as he enters the summer as a RFA. Rantanen, 22, recorded 87 points in 74 Avs games this season. His contract could be as much as $8 M –  $9 M /season. The team has indicated they’d like to get the player signed long term but will do short term too if that’s what it takes. GM Joe Sakic also recently added the Avs will be more active in off-season free agency but he added they’ll be selective about where their free agency dollars get spent. Head coach Jared Bednar enters the final year of his contract in the 2019-20 season and Sakic said they plan to extend him but it’s not at the top of the off-season priority list. The Avs have a number of player contracts to deal with first. Defenseman Tyson Barrie, the franchise leader in points from a defenseman, enters the 2019-20 season one year from UFA. The team also has the #4 overall pick (from Ottawa in the Duchene trade) and the #16th overall pick in this years June Entry Draft in Vancouver. Sakic says they’ll listen to offers for their first round picks but will not be actively shopping them.
  • Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello recently said he is interested in bringing back all their pending UFA’s. That list includes goaltender Robin Lehner, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle and captain Anders Lee. Lehner said he wants to return next season; he had a terrific season highlighted by a Vezina Trophy nomination. I would expect Lehner will get good offers on July 1. On Anders Lee, seems the team really wants to reach a deal with him. Lamoriello said he was an outstanding captain for the team. The two sides have been in discussions on a new deal but I believe Lee wants a longer term deal while the Islanders don’t want to go beyond 5 years on term.
  • Predators defenseman PK Subban name has been talked about in trade rumors. I’ve not heard GM David Poile confirm or deny that are are looking to move a core player. PK is the highest paid Predators player; he has 3 more seasons at $9 M /season left on his contract. Captain Roman Josi has one more year before becoming a UFA and seems the team has every intention of re-signing him. I read an interesting stat about their forwards, the team leads the league in salary paid to their forward group (66% of their cap) but the group accounts for a league worse 68% of their scoring. Seems like they need to move a high paid forward more than a defenseman. There is some talk the Predators will try and land pending UFA Matt Duchene on July 1 and moving Subban is more about clearing cap space for July 1.
  • The Arizona Coyotes off-season plan including finding a few goal scorers. The Coyotes were the only team in league this season without a 20 goal scorer. The team will look to the UFA market for goal scorer. Names that get mentioned Jordan Eberle (19 goals this season), Anders Lee (28 goals), Brock Nelson (25 goals), Gustav Nyqvist (22 goals) or Ryan Dzingel (26 goals).
  • Was reported this week that Vegas defenseman Colin Miller has fallen out of favor with head coach Gerard Gallant. Miller has 3 years left on his deal at $3.875 M. Some wonder if the Sault Ste. Marie native would be appealing to the Leafs.
  • Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza enters the summer as a July 1 UFA and will not be back with the Stars. Spezza says he believes he can still play, he turns 36 this summer. There is some talk he could even return to Ottawa. Spezza has recorded 915 career points in 1,065 games. He and his wife have 4 young children so that is a factor in where he’d consider playing; it has to be a fit both hockey-wise and for his young family.

Playoffs 

  • San Jose vs St. Louis
    • The Blues hold a 3-2 series lead with the series returning to St. Louis on Tuesday. St. Louis have not been to the Cup finals since 1970 and their organization has never won a Stanley Cup.
    • Blue goaltender Binnington is just the 10th rookie goaltender to win 10 post season games. It’s also a Blue franchise record. He is an off-season RFA. Experts say he’ll get about $4 M /season on a 4-5 year deal this off-season.
    • Blues Jaden Schwartz has 11 goals in the post-season (18 games) which matches his regular season total. Only Brett Hull has recorded more goals in a post-season (Hull scored 13 in the 1990 post season) as a St. Louis Blues player.
    • Logan Couture is having an incredible post season and leads the league with 20 points in 18 games. Couture has tied a Sharks record (Pavelski) for most goals in a post season with 14 and needs one goal to match Crosby (2015) and Ovchekin (2018) for the most goals in a post-season in the past 22 years.
    • Pavelski recently reached the 100 post-season points milestone (requiring just 132 games). He is 2nd in the league in post-season goals with 48 since he joined the league in 2010. Pavelski is also a UFA this summer.
    • The Sharks could use a goal from Evander Kane. He has just 2 goals in 18 post season games this year.
    • The Blues are getting good production from their 4th line (Barbashev/Sundqvist/Steen); they’ve scored 4 goals in the past 4 games and have combined for 15 points in these playoffs.
  • Hurricanes
    • The ‘Canes had an incredible post-season run after getting into playoffs as a wild card team. The ‘Canes have the lowest player payroll in the league at $63.2 M and not one player earns more than $6 M /season. Forward Micheal Ferland enters the summer as a UFA and both of their goaltenders, Petr Mrazek & Curtis McElhinney, are UFA’s. They need to get RFA Sebastian Aho’s (30 G & 53 A) name on a new contract as well. Captain Justin Williams is also a UFA and will be 38 at the start of the 2019-20 season. Sounds as though Williams is undecided about playing another season and will take some time to decide.
    • The Hurricanes reportedly added 3250 new season tickets for $4.8 M in additional revenue.
  • Cup finals – STL/SJ vs Boston
    • The Bruins will have home ice in the Cup finals; they are 6-3 at home in these playoffs. The Cup finals don’t get started until May 27th, a week from today. The Bruins will have had 11 days off which could be a bit of a concern.
    • The Bruins have been to the Cup finals 3 times in the past 8 years winning one Cup.
    • The team is currently running a 6 game winning streak.
    • The Bruins PP% in the post-season is 34%. Patrice Bergeron has 6 PP goals.
    • Boston forward David Krejci has reached the 100 point post-season milestone. Krejci is tied for 3rd in Bruins history (Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk) for post-season points. Krejci is just the 3rd Czech-born player to record 100 post-season points (Patrik Elias and Jagr are the others).
    • Bruins forward David Pastrnak has 39 points in 35 post season games on 15 goals and he’s still just 22 years old. Since 2006, only Crosby and Ovechkin have recorded more points after 35 post-season games.
    • Seems Tuukka Rask is the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe trophy at post-season MVP. Rask is 7-0 in his last 7 games with a GAA of 1.29, .961 SV% plus 2 shutouts.
  • None of the final four teams have a player making more than $8 M /season. Brent Burns at $8 M is the highest paid player left in the post-season. Boston, St. Louis and San Jose have all have their core group under contract at reasonable prices. Will be interesting to see what happens this summer with the 22/23 year old RFA’s as some are looking for $8 M – $10 M /season. Could affect how teams can get their core all under contract and still have room for the non-star players. Experts are questioning whether a team like the Leafs can win a Cup with 3 players (Tavares, Matthews & Marner) making $10 + M/season. This years post-season is showing you need a roster of good players not a team of 3 superstars when there no cap room to fill out the roster.

International Tournaments / Team Canada

  • 2020 World Juniors – London Knights (OHL) owner, President/GM/head coach, Dale Hunter, was announced as Team Canada’s head coach at the next IIHF World Juniors that are being held in the Czech Republic from December 26, 2019 – Sunday, January 5, 2020. Hunter coached on the international stage once before, as head coach of Canada’s U-18 team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. Ottawa 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny and Saskatoon Blades head coach Mitch Love will be Hunter’s assistants. Canada had a disappointing 6th place finish in the 2019 World Juniors. It was Canada’s second 6th place finish in the past 4 World Juniors.
  • 2019 Gretzky/Hlinka Cup (18 and under) – This tournament is held each August and rotates between being in Canada and in Czech Republic (in 2018 it was held in Edm and Red Deer). Dan Lambert (WHL Spokane Chiefs) was announced as the Team Canada’s head coach for the 2019 event with his assistants Mario Duhamel (Ottawa/OHL) and Dennis Williams (Evertt /WHL).
  • IIHF World Championships in Slovakia (May 10th – 24th)
    • Team Canada announced Kyle Turris as captain with Mark Stone and Sean Couturier assistants.
    • Leafs forward John Tavares got injured in his first practice with Team Canada in Slovakia and was ruled out for the rest of the tourney. Brandon Montour also an injured and will miss the rest of Team Canada’s games. Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers agreed to join Team Canada. Myers played most of last season with the Flyers farm team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
    • Team USA forward Patrick Kane has set a new record for most all-time points for a USA-born player with 34.
    • Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg was added to Team Sweden who is looking for it’s 3rd straight gold medal. Stars forward Radek Faksa was added to Team Czech.
    • Team USA head coach Jeff Blashill just became the winningest US-born coach in men’s world championship history. Blashill has won 18 of 23 games he’s coached at the World Championships.
    • Flames forward Michael Frolik has recorded 6 goals and 5 assists in 6 games for Team Czech. Frolik is one season from UFA status and it’s probable he’s moved this summer.
    • Leafs William Nylander is having a good tournament, he has 13 points (4 G & 9 A) in just 5 games played which places him second in tournament point leaders. Lightning Nikita Kucherov leads the tournament with 14 points in 6 games.
    • Finnish star Kaapo Kakko has recorded 6 goals in 6 games. He recently said he’s aiming to be drafted at #1 in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Kakko scored a hat trick in one of Finland’s games and it was the most watch show on TV in Finland this year with 2 million viewers tuning in.
    • Canadian/Red Wings 1st rounder (20th overall in 2013) Anthony Mantha leads the tournament in goals with 7 goals in 5 games. He had 25 goals in 67 games this past season for the Wings.
  • The WC format is two groups of 8 teams and each team plays 7  games in the preliminary round. The top 4 teams in each group advance to the quarter finals where teams from the two groups play against each other. Current standings can be found here. From there, there is a final /championship game that’s scheduled for next Sunday, the 26th of May. Canada’s record after 6 games is 5 W & 1 L. They play the USA on Tuesday then quarterfinals start Thursday, May 23. From all accounts the Canadian team is starting to gel and they feel positive about their recent play.

Leafs

  • GM Kyle Dubas commented this week that the progress of discussions between Marner’s agent and the team will remain private. I expect it’s a tough negotiation but both sides want to resolve it with a deal to keep Marner with the Leafs.
  • Goaltender Ian Scott who was drafted in the 4th round by the team was named WHL’s playoffs MVP. Scott went 16-6-1 with a 1.96 GAA, a .925 SV% & 5 shutouts in the post-season. Scott plays for Prince Albert (WHL) and his team advanced to the Memorial Cup recently where they’ll play Guelph (OHL champs), Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) and host Halifax. Tournament started Friday, May 17th.
  • Defenseman Travis Dermott recently had shoulder surgery and will be out of action for 6 months. Dermott, 22, missed 14 games this season with the injury. I thought he had a good season on defense for the team. Hopefully, his shoulder fully recovers and he can step into the line-up in late November/December. Some experts see one of Rosen, Sandin or Liljegren stepping into Dermott’s place to start the season.
  • Forward Zach Hyman will require 6 months of recovery from ACL surgery (knee).
  • Defenseman Igor Ozhiganov has signed a 2 year deal in the KHL.
  • The Marlies are 8-1 in the playoffs and leading the Eastern Conference finals series against Charlotte 2-1. Experts say Marlies forward Jeremy Bracco should vie for a spot with the Leafs next season. In 82 games played this season, Bracco has recorded 24 goals and 66 assists for 90 points. The Marlies defense is very good with NHL caliber players Calle Rosen, Liljegren (1st rounder), Andreas Borgman and Rasmus Sandin (1st rounder).

Canucks

  • Apparently the Canucks and the agent for forward Brock Boeser have started contract discussions but it’s early in the process.
  • Defenseman Ben Hutton is a RFA and apparently contract discussions have not started. Hutton is spending the off-season in the Ottawa area and working out with Flyers captain Claude Giroux.
  • The Canucks and pending UFA defenseman Alex Edler are working towards a new contract but the two sides are apparently not close to an agreement.
  • Same with Luke Schenn – both sides are interested in making a deal but talks reportedly have not started.
  • Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher is playing for Canada at the Worlds in Slovakia and his defense partner is Senators offensively talented 22 yo Thomas Chabot who has 5 points in 6 games so far (all 5 points have been on the PP). Stecher says the international ice surface really lets the creative players shine.

Buyouts – June 15th – 30th

  • Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling is expected to get bought out. Darling has 2 years remaining on his contract at an AAV of $4.15 M.
  • Lightning forward Ryan Callahan could be bought out but I’ve not heard it confirmed. He has one year at $5.8 M left on his deal. Bought out players become UFA’s.

Signings

  • Columbus Blue Jackets signed Latvian-born goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a one year /one way contract for $1.845 M. He is a 3rd round selection of the Blue Jackets in 2014 (76th overall). Merzlikins, 25, played in Swiss league this past season.
  • Florida Panthers signed Finnish forward Aleksi Heponiemi to a 3 year entry level contract. Heponiemi, 20, recorded 46 points (16-30-46) in 50 games playing in the Finnish league this season. Heponiemi also just won gold as a member of Team Finland at the U-20’s World Junior Tournament and led the tournament in points with 9 points on 3 goals.
  • The Blue Jackets have signed right winger Emil Bemstrom to a 3 year entry level contract. Bemstrom was drafted in the 4th round, 117th overall in 2017. He’s just 19 years old and this season recorded 23 goals and 12 assists in 47 games played in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Ten of his 23 goals were on the PP. It was the 3rd most goals by a teenager in league history.
  • The LA Kings signed Russian forward Nikolai Prokhorkin to a one year entry level contract. Prokhorkin, 25, recorded 41 points in (20 G 21 A) in 41 KHL games this season. He was drafted in the 4th round in 2012, 121st overall.
  • The Senators signed Swedish defenseman Olle Alsing to a 2 year deal. Asling played this season in the Swedish Elite league where he recorded 15 points in 49 games on 4 goals. Apparently there were a number of teams interested in signing him.
  • Dallas signed defenseman Esa Lindell to 6 year contract at an AVV of $5.8 M. Lindell played all 82 games for the Stars this season and recorded 11 goals and 21 assists. He averaged 24:20 minutes of ice time (2nd most on the team). The Stars 3 key defenseman include John Klingberg (27 yo), who has 3 years left on his deal, Lindell (just turned 24) who is now signed for 6 seasons and 19 year old Miro Heiskanen.

Odds & Ends

  • Ducks forward Ryan Kesler recently underwent successful hip re-surfing surgery (on May 9th). It’s very doubtful Kesler, 34, will play next season and his career is in jeopardy but he’s not ready to announce his retirement. Kesler’s contract runs for three more years at an AAV of $6.875 M /season. Former player Ed Jovanovski had the same surgery and talked about how it’s more about quality of life and not about hockey. Any movement to the hip was painful before the procedure even walking and tying shoes. Jovanovski said Kesler has a tough rehab in front of him but the first step is the surgery and he should feel almost immediate relief from pain in the hip.
  • Bowen Byram, a 17 year old defenseman playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, became the first defenseman to win the post-season scoring race. He recorded 22 points in 26 playoff games on 8 goals. In the Giants regular season, Byram recorded 26 goals & 45 assists (71 points). Byram is expected to go 4th or 5th overall at the June entry draft in Vancouver.
  • Rickard Gronberg, who was in the running for the Sabres head coaching position, signed a 2 year contract with Zurich of the Swiss league to be their head coach. I heard him recently interviewed and he says he’s a hybrid coach with a lot of North American hockey knowledge plus experience coaching in Europe. He recently said NHL GM’s weren’t interested in hiring a coach with no NHL head coaching experience.
  • Oilers owner Darryl Katz has reportedly been battling a life threatening antibiotic resistant sinus infection for the past two years. Seems some people noticed at the Ken Holland press conference that Katz didn’t look like himself. He’s apparently has had two surgeries already with another scheduled and is reportedly getting better.
  • Vegas forward Cody Glass (6th overall in 2017) has 9 points (5 G and 4 A) in 13 AHL post-season games. Glass is playing in the playoffs with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. In 38 games with the WHL Portland Winterhawks this season, Glass recorded 15 goals and 54 assists.
  • Someone suggested the NHL should add a most improved player award like the NBA has (that was after Raptors Pascal Siakam was nominated). Seems better than the GM of the Year award which is voted in round 2 of the post-season. This years finalists for GM of the year include Blues Doug Armstrong (his team was in 31st place on Jan. 2 but turned it around), Hurricanes Don Waddell and Bruins Don Sweeney. Tampa Bay Lightning had a historic regular season but their GM was not a finalist.
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NHL News & Notes to May 5, 2019. Conference finals start this week.

Here are a few news and notes items from around the NHL.

League-related

  • Commissioner Gary Bettman was recently in Ottawa appearing before the Federal Government commons subcommittee into sports-related concussions. Some of the topics he touched on both before the hearing and during:
    • The Senators are not for sale. The organization is efforting to find a new building – one that’s not on the outskirts of Ottawa and they are also actively recruiting for a team president. Bettman also said the team is not in financial difficulties.
    • During the hearings. the commissioner said fighting is down 54% in the past 4 years and, further, the links to CTE and hits to the head are inconclusive at this point. Bettman also added that 85% of NHL games do not have one player fight – the highest rate since the 1964-65 season. Some people are calling on the league to ban all hits to head during the course of NHL game play but Bettman says because some players are taller than others it would be very difficult to just ban all head contact and the physicality of the game is a part of their sport. The commissioner indicated the fans do enjoy the physical play seen during games. He also added the league has added concussion spotters for all games where players who appear to have possibly suffered a concussion are removed from play and tested before they can re-enter the game.
  • Bettman recently indicated the development of the Islanders new arena at Belmont Park on Long Island is still on track for the start of the 2021-22 season. The new arena will hold 18,000 fans. The plan for next season is to again have the Islanders split their home games between Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center.
  • Collective bargaining agreement negotiations – I’ve not heard anything on the status of NHL/NHLPA CBA negotiations. The two sides were meeting in January and I assume discussions are continuing.
  • The contract buyout window is from June 15th to June 30th. The general calculation is two thirds of the cost of the original value paid out over twice the number of seasons (and the buyout amount counts against the cap). If the player is under age 26, the team pays a third of the contract value. If a player signed his contract at age 35 or older, there is no cap relief for a bought out player. So if a player has 2 years left at $4 M, the calculation is $8 M * .67 = $5,360,000 paid out over 4 years (a $1,340,000 amount against the cap for 4 years).
  • The NHL Entry Draft is Friday and Saturday, June 21 & 22 and is being held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

GM’s & Coaching News

  • Red Wings VP of Hockey Ops, Ken Holland, is expected to named the Oilers new General Manager this week. Some of the names that were in the final round of interviews included Kelly McCrimmon who was recently promoted to GM in Las Vegas with George McPhee moving to team president effective September 1, London Knights owner and GM Mark Hunter, Oilers AGM Keith Gretzky and Sean Burke. Holland’s contract with the Oilers is reported to be 5 years at $5 M /season.
  • The Flyers are reportedly going to add Michel Therrien as an assistant coach on new head coach Alain Vigneault’s staff. It’s not yet been confirmed by the team. Therrien and Vigneault both spent the last year living in Florida awaiting a chance to get back into NHL coaching. Therrien was previously head coach of the Canadiens until his dismissal in February of 2017.
  • There is strong speculation that Lightning AGM Pat Verbeek will be leaving the Lightning organization to join Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman with the Red Wings. Verbeek played a few seasons for the Red Wings and previously worked for the team as a pro scout. Verbeek joined Yzerman in Tampa Bay, as AGM. He is considered one the top AGM’s that should move into a GM position when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Nashville confirmed their head coach Peter Laviolette will return next season. It will be Laviolette 6th season’s as the team’s head coach. Laviolette is apparently under contract to Nashville until the end of the 2020-21 season. As the team disbursed for the summer, some of the players commented the team got away from their aggressive forecheck system this season while some other players noted the team looked really good for short stretches this past regular season but there was not the same consistency in their game that they’ve had in the past two seasons. The Preds PP ranks 31st in the 31 team league so that’s an area that needs improvement.
  • Former Columbus Blue Jackets star Rick Nash has been spending time with GM Jarmo Kekalainen, President of Hockey Ops John Davidson & AGM Bill Zito. For now, there is no formal title as it seems both sides are seeing where Nash fits in the Blue Jackets front office. Nash has been taking in Blue Jackets games sitting with the team management and Kekalainen says he plans to have Nash attend the June Entry Draft with the Blue Jackets contingent, be part of the team’s free agency process for July 1 and generally be a part of the management of the team. Nash married a Columbus woman, the couple have 3 children and live in Columbus.
  • Open head coaching positions around the league:
    • Ottawa Senators- Leafs assistant DJ Smith is or has been interviewed. Some other names are Marc Crawford, Troy Mann (Belleville’s/AHL head coach), Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin and Nate Leaman (head coach in Providence of the AHL).
    • Sabres – Some of the people who are getting interviewed include Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards who was a head coach with Columbus & Minnesota, former Coyotes and Dallas Stars head coach Dave Tippett, Jacques Martin who knows GM Botterill as they worked in the Penguins organization together and Sweden’s national team head coach Rikard Romberg. Sabres GM Botterill is reportedly preferring candidates with prior NHL head coaching experience as it’s something dismissed coach Phil Housley did not have.
    • Anaheim – haven’t heard any news around this, only that their current AHL head coach Dallas Eakins will get strong consideration.
    • Edmonton – new GM Ken Holland has to hire for this position or turn to Ken Hitchcock who went 26-28-8 in 62 games behind the Oilers bench this season.

Seattle

  • NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was in Seattle this past Friday and covered a few items:
    • the completion date for the KeyArena reno’s scheduled to now be June 1, 2021.
    • the league said that Seattle could host an Entry Draft around mid-June 2021 but it’s too early to confirm anything and key is the getting the renovations completed by the scheduled date.
    • the organization is still working towards arriving at a team name. One of the names that was considered, the Metropolians, was one the league thought sounded too much like the Metropolitian Division.
  • The rumored location for Seattle AHL affiliate is Boise, Idaho but it’s not yet official.

Scuttlebutt

  • The NY Rangers acquired Harvard (NCAA) defenseman Adam Fox’s signing rights from Carolina and then signed him to his ELC. Fox played this season at Harvard University and was originally drafted into the NHL by Calgary (66th overall in 2016). The Flames didn’t believe he was going to sign with them and moved his rights to Carolina in the Lindholm/Hanifin for Dougie Hamilton/Micheal Ferland deal. Carolina tried also to get him signed, owner Tom Dundon even tried to convince him, but he recently indicated he was going to again play at Harvard. Fox would of been eligible to play in the Hurricanes post-season games if the team could of got him to sign with them. Fox apparently only wanted to play with the Rangers. The Hurricanes received a 2019 second round pick and a conditional 3rd in 2020. Fox now says he’ll forgo his final season at Harvard and play with the Rangers in 2019-20. The conditional 3rd rounder the Rangers received in the deal becomes a 2020 second rounder if Fox plays at least 30 NHL games next season for the Rangers. In his NCAA career to date (3 seasons), Fox is the only player to, over the past 20 years, average over a point and a half per game. Fox has also agreed to play for Team USA at the upcoming World Championships in Slovakia.
  • Rangers GM Jeff Gorton says he’s very happy getting the second overall selection in the June entry draft (from the recent lottery draft) but he wants to expiate their re-build that started last summer. I assume that means being active on July 1 when unrestricted free agents can be signed. One name that’s been linked to the Rangers is Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin. The Rangers have two Russian players they just signed, first rounder (2018) Vitali Kravtsov and goaltender named Igor Shestyorkin (4th rounder in 2014). Both players played in the KHL this recent season and are expected to attend the Rangers September training camp.
  • The Penguins are reportedly considering putting all-star forward Evgeni Malkin on the trade market. Malkin has a full no trade clause so would have to OK any move. Apparently, Malkin is thinking though the possibility while decompressing from the season. Some experts have said the Penguins stars – Malkin, Letang, Kessel – were more difficult to coach this season. GM Rutherford said he’s still unwinding from the season and no decision on personnel changes are near.
  • Pending UFA Jeff Skinner (40 goals this season) reportedly want to stay with the Sabres and contract talks are ongoing. Some experts believe the Skinner camp is using the Mark Stone recent contract with Vegas, 8 year deal at $9.5 M/ season, as a comparable. The players are similar in age (27) but not really in style of play as Stone is a strong, two-way forward and Skinner is slight and a goal scorer who does not play physical at all.
  • Vegas’ GM George McPhee said the NHL reached out after the Golden Knights lost game 7 against the Sharks and apologized for the 5 min major call against Cody Eakin where the Sharks scored 4 goals. Team owner Bill Foley said he will push for instant reply of 5 min major penalties at the next Board of Governors meetings.
  • Two Washington Capitals players are one year from UFA, center Nicklas Backstrom (currently at $6.7 AAV) and goaltender Braden Holtby ($6.1 M AAV). Both players are open to signing new deals with the team this summer.

Playoffs

  • Hurricanes defeated Islanders in 4 straight games
    • Carolina advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since the 2008-09 season (the last time they made the playoffs) and it’s the forth time in as many post-season appearance they’ve reach the Conference Finals (also 2002, 2006 and 2009). Former Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney stepped in when ‘Canes starter Mrazek was injured and won the final 2 games of the series. He became the oldest goaltender in league history to win his first playoff start (35 years and 343 days). The Islanders really struggled to score in the series recording just 5 goals in the 4 games. The Islanders swept the Penguins in 4 straight games and then lost 4 straight against Carolina. It was the first time since the 1993 Buffalo Sabres that’s happened.
    • Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin is tied with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson for the points lead among defenseman with 11. Slavin does not get a lot of mention as one of the top young defenseman in the league.
    • Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele has tied a 2002 record set by Erik Cole for most points in the post season by a Hurricanes rookie (9 points). Foegele was a 3rd round selection of the Hurricanes back in 2014.
    • Hurricanes goaltender Peter Mrazek is expected to the ready for game 1 of the Conference Finals as is forward Micheal Ferland. Ferland has played in just 3 of the 11 Hurricanes post season games. I believe it’s a concussion-related problem he’s dealing with.
    • Hurricanes defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk was injured in game 2 against the Islanders and required shoulder surgery and will be out of action for 4-6 months.
    • ‘Canes head coach Rod Brind’Amour became the first rookie head coach to reach the Conference finals since Guy Boucher did with Tampa Bay back in 2011.
    • Tom Dundon bought the team back in January of 2018 and it has injected new life into the franchise. In their 6 home post-season games they’ve averaged 19,092 fans (building capacity is listed at 18,680).
    • The Hurricanes would have home ice advantage against the Blue Jackets but not against Boston.
  • Sharks lead the Avalanche 3 games to 2
    • The Sharks are looking for their forth trip to the Conference finals since 2010.
    • Avs star Nathan MacKinnon has recorded 29 points in 23 post season games in his career and is just 23 years old. He’s reportedly been in contact will fellow Coal Harbour native Sidney Crosby during the post-season. Mackinnon had recorded a point in 8 straight post season games until that streak ended Saturday. When asked about the point streak MacKinnon said he didn’t care and it’s about winning. He said the teams goal is the Cup.
    • Logan Couture is having a terrific series and is tied for the league lead in post season points with 13. In the past decade only Alex Ovechkin has more goals (50) than Couture (43).
    • Sharks forward Joe Pavelski seems doubtful for game 7. He had a pressure cut and 8 staples put in his head after the cross check from Cody Eakin in game 7 against Las Vegas.
    • After game 5 that Colorado lost 2-1, Avs head coach Jared Bednar said the Sharks wanted to win that game more and played with more urgency and desperation. Game 6 is Monday night in Denver.
  • Boston leads Columbus 3 games to 2
    • Before these playoffs Columbus had won just 5 post season games in their 18 franchise history. They’ve won 6 already in these playoffs.
    • Recently signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, 23, played over 14 minutes in game 5 and reported looked good. The player was just recently signed by the team from the KHL and is the first Blue Jackets player to make their debut with the team in the post-season.
    • Win or lose in this series, the Blue Jackets success has really increased interest in the team. Their home games attract a sold out crowd of 19,337 fans.
    • Columbus’ pending UFA Matt Duchene is just the first player in franchise history to record 5 goals in a single post season.
    • Bruins David Pastrnak has recorded 35 points in 30 career post season games including 5 points in the 5 games against the Blue Jackets.
    • Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has had a very strong post season with a 2.33 GAA and a .928 SV%.
  • Dallas and St. Louis going to game 7
    • If the Stars win game 7, it will be their first trip to the Western Conference finals since the 2007-08 season. With a Stars win, the Rangers would get Dallas’ first round selection in the Entry draft as part of the Mats Zuccarello trade.
    • St. Louis has an impressive 5-1 record on the road in this year’s playoffs. I expect game 7 to be decided by which team gets better goaltending.
    • Blues forward Jaden Schwartz had 8 goals in these playoffs and 3 have been the game winning goal. He had just 11 goals in the regular season.

Leafs

  • The team has signed forward Yegor Korshkov a 22 year old winger from the KHL to a 2 year ELC. Korshkov also signed a PTO with the Marlies  and will join the team for their post-season run. Korshkov was drafted in the 2nd round, 31st overall, in the 2016 entry draft.
  • Sportsnet Elliotte Friedman reported that Mitch Marner wants the same annual salary as what Auston Matthews recently signed for, $11.6 M /season, but the team sees him more around the $9.5 M /season range. The organization feels it’s imperative to get Marner signed before July 1 as there is a possibility another team presents him with an offer sheet. Some experts believe centers are worth more than wingers (Marner is a winger). Lightning center Brayden Point (41 G & 51 A for 92 points) is also a 23 year old RFA needing a new deal. Marner put up 26 goals and 68 assists for 94 points. Experts don’t see Point signing for $10+ M a season. Kucherov with 128 points is at $9.5 M. It could be a tough negotiation with Marner.
  • Auston Matthews declined an invite to the IIHF World Championships as he had a procedure/surgery on his back this past week. Apparently he had a 2014 surgery on his leg and the screws left in were causing him back pain. With this recent surgery, the hope is he’ll no longer have back pain.
  • Seems there is next to no chance defenseman Jake Gardiner is back with the team next season due to his UFA status and the Leafs cap crunch. Before the team even considers signing their UFA’s (Hainsey, Gardiner, Tyler Ennis, Igor Ozhiganov, Martin Marincin), they only have approx $9 M of cap space at an $83 M cap. Also, RFA’s forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson need new deals. Both players add to the depth of the Leafs forward group but with possibility of no Jake Gardiner or Hainsey next season, the team really needs decent defenseman and they are not that easy to find. I heard Ozhiganov may return to the KHL but he was not able to make the team anyway. Forward Connor Brown’s name was mentioned in trade around the trade deadline and I would be surprised if he is not dealt before the start of the 2019-20 season.
  • The Marlies are ahead 3 games to 0 in their conference semi-finals series against Cleveland. Apparently, 2017 first rounder defenseman Timothy Liljegren has looked very good as has first rounder from 2018 Rasmus Sandin. Forward Jeremy Bracco is tied for the league lead in points with 10. Head coach Sheldon Keefe seems to be one of, if not the top, head coaching prospect that is not in the NHL. The Marlies won the Calder Cup last season under Keefe.

Streaks and Milestones

  • Sharks forward Joe Thornton became just the 24th player all-time to reach 100 career playoff assists.
  • Hurricanes forward Justin Williams became just the 10th active player to record 100 career post-season points (39 goals, 61 assists in 151 post season games).

NHL Award Nominees. Awards show is Wed. June 19 from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel

  • Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player)
    • Flames Sean Monahan
    • Panthers Alex Barkov
    • Blues Ryan O’Reilly
  • Selke (top defensive forward)
    • Bruins Patrice Bergeron *won this 4 times which is tied with Bob Gainey for the most ever
    • Blues Ryan O’Reilly
    • Golden Knights Mark Stone
  • Masterton (dedication to the game)
    • Islanders Robin Lehner
    • Blue Jacket Nick Foglino
    • Sharks forward Joe Thornton
  • Vezina (top goaltender)
    • Stars Ben Bishop
    • Islanders Robin Lehner
    • Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy
  • Norris (top defenseman)
    • Sharks Brent Burns
    • Flames Mark Giordano
    • Lightning Victor Hedman
  • King Clancy (leadership on and off the ice and has made a humanitarian contribution)
    •  Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson
    •  Rangers Henrik Lundqvist
    •  Wild Jason Zucker
  • Mark Messier Leadership Award
    • Flames Mark Giordano
    • Predators Wayne Simmonds
    • Hurricanes Justin Williams
  • Jack Adams Award – Coach of the Year
    • Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues
    • Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
    • Barry Trotz, NY Islanders *my bet is here. Islanders went from giving up the most goals against last season to the fewest when Trotz took over at the season’s start
  • Calder Trophy (top rookie)
    • Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (24-5-1 1.89 GAA .927 SV% & 5 shutouts)
    • Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (71 GP, 28 G, 38 A. 66 Pts) *First Vancouver player to win since Pavel Bure in 1992
    • Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (82 GP, 9 G, 35 A, 44 Pts)
  • Hart Trophy finalists (most valuable to his team)
    • Sidney Crosby
    • Nikita Kucherov
    • Connor McDavid – none of the 3 finalists won a single post-season game. First time ever that’s happened.
  • Ted Lindsay Award (voted by players for MVP)
    • Oilers Connor McDavid *won it past two seasons but does not expect to win this year (also doesn’t expect to win Hart since Oilers didn’t make post-season). Says winning Lindsay award in the past meant a lot to him as the players all really respected Ted Lindsay who passed away just this year.
    • ‘Hawks Patrick Kane
    • Lightning Nikita Kucherov

IIHF World Championships (Slovakia May 10-26)

  • Team Canada has added John Tavares, Mark Stone and Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Full list of players on their roster is here. Head coach Alain Vigneault recently said Murray is the team’s number one goaltender with Flyers 20 year old goaltender Carter Hart the back-up. Tavares has yet to report to the teams 4 day training camp in Vienna but is expected to do so on Monday. Team Canada has yet to name a captain or assistants. There are two roster spots still open and I assume the team will look at players that are eliminated  in round 2.
  • Team USA has added Flames players Johnny Gaudreau, Noah Hanifin and Derek Ryan. Also added was the player that will be taken first overall in the June Entry Draft, American Jack Hughes. Jack Hughes’ brother, Quinn (first rounder drafted by the Canucks) is also on Team USA. Patrick Kane was named captain of Team USA with assistants Ryan Suter and Dylan Larkin. I believe it means a lot to Kane to be named the team’s captain. He was Team USA’s captain last year as well.
  • Team Russia announced that Ilya Kovalchuk will captain their World Championship team with Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin & Sergei Plotnikov being assistant captains.
  • Team Sweden added Leafs forward William Nylander.
  • Team Russia’s roster here.
  • LA Kings forward Anze Kopitar is playing for Team Slovenia.
  • Rangers first rounder (2017) forward Filip Chytil will play for Team Czech. Chytil also played in the tournament last year and scored 2 points in 7 games.

Transactions

  • The Kings signed defenseman Markus Phillips who was their 4th round selection in 2017. Phillips played this season in the OHL splitting time between the Guelph Storm and Owen Sound Attack. He recorded 5 goals and 21 assists in 62 OHL games. Phillips is 6 feet tall and weighs 202. Phillips, a Toronto native, played for Canada at the U20 World Juniors this past year.
  • The Oilers signed their 2018 second round pick center Ryan McLeod to an entry level contract. McLeod is reported to be a fast skater with size, 6’3 & 205 pounds. He’ll join the Oilers AHL affiliate in Bakersfield for their playoffs.
  • The Red Wings signed their first round pick from 2018, center Joe Veleno to an entry level contract. In his final season in Drummonville of the Q, Veleno recorded 104 points on 42 goals in 59 games.
  • The Lightning signed defenseman Jan Rutta to a one year one way deal for $1.3 M. Rutta split time between the team’s AHL team in Syracuse and the Lighting last season. He was set to become a UFA on July 1. The Lightning have 3 other UFA’s on their blueline, Braydon Coburn, Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi. No word on where contract talks at with the these players.

Odds & Ends

  • Oilers first rounder (10th overall, 2018) defenseman Evan Bouchard won the Max Kaminsky Trophy at the OHL’s top defenseman.
  • Montreal signed forward Jordan Weal to a 2 year contract. Weal was to be a July 1 UFA. The contract pays Weal $1.4 M in both years of the deal. Weal is 27 years old and in 63 games split between the Flyers, Coyotes and Canadiens this season, recorded 8 goals and 13 assists in 63 games played.
  • Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian had hip surgery and his recovery is estimated to be 5-6 months.
  • Many Dallas Stars fans were upset that 19 year old Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen was not nominated for the Calder for the league’s top rookie. Some people believe neither Jordan Binnington, who played in just 30 of the Blues 82 games, or Rasmus Dahlin had better seasons. Heiskanen played as a Stars top pairing defenseman and averaged over 23 minutes of ice time per game. He recorded 33 points while playing in all 82 of the Stars games. Heiskanen didn’t really want to comment just saying he’s focused on the playoffs. Stars goaltender Ben Bishop said Heiskanen is a future Hall of Fame player.
  • Former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis says he’s very happy for the Hurricanes current success. Francis is one of the GM’s for Team Canada at the World Championships. He said he would be interested in returning to the NHL management but more in the role of an adviser and not as a GM. Francis’ contract with the Hurricanes runs out in June 30, 2019.
  • New Jersey Devils prospect Ty Smith was named Western Hockey League defenseman of the year. Leafs goaltending prospect Ian Scott was named WHL goaltender of the year and San Jose Sharks prospect Joachim Blichfeld was named WHL player of the year.
  • The son of Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Neidermayer, Josh Neidermayer, was drafted in the recent WHL draft by the Vancouver Giants. Josh is a 15 year old defenseman.
  • American 17 year old player, Jack Hughes, who is expected to go first overall to New Jersey set a new record for most points (32) scored at a Under 18 IIHF Men’s World Championships. Alex Ovechkin previously held the record.
  • The expectation is that Jets 21 year old RFA star Patrik Laine will sign a bridge deal with the team. The player runs hot and cold with his goal scoring and also the coaches are working with him to make him a more complete player. In 237 career NHL games, Laine has scored 110 goals or .46 goals per game which is incredible. Alex Ovechkin is at rate of .60 goals / game in his career.
  • Former NHL player, Red Kelly, sadly passed away at the age of 91. Kelly played in the league for 20 seasons and won 8 Stanley Cups in his career, 4 with the Leafs and 4 with the Red Wings. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 22 Apr 2019. There are three game 7’s remaining in round one.

Here are some news & notes from around the NHL. I try to publish on Monday every two weeks but was up late Sunday night watching OT between Vegas and the Golden Knights.

League-related

  • The league and the NHLPA have agreed to a one year extension for the current playoff format. The PA put the matter before their league board (31 player reps) and got agreement to extend. The league seems to like the current format as it has many intense team rivalries in round one, the fans get charged up & ratings are good plus its good for travel (less travel).
  • The league announced that former LA Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has been suspended for the 2019-20 season including the 2020 playoffs for a domestic violence incident back in October 2014. The player is appealing through the NHLPA.
  • Heard where Gary Bettman said this post-season is the first time (in the 102 year history of the NHL) that all post-season games will be broadcast on national television.
  • The month of April is designated Green Month by the league. It’s about sustainability and reducing carbon footprint where possible.

Seattle

  • Both the cost and completion date for renovations to Seattle’s KeyArena have moved. The cost is now estimated at $930 M and the estimated completion date is Summer 2021. The Seattle Group (Oak View Group & Seattle Hockey Partners) are still hoping they can host their expansion draft and possibly an NHL Entry Draft in 2021. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was in Seattle last week and the league is fine with the revised schedule and indicated that’s why they wanted a 2021 start for the Seattle team and not a 2020 start.
  • There has been some talk of Seattle attempting to get a women’s hockey team but for now it’s just seems to be grassroots interest. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League recently ceased operations so the whole women’s hockey league area is in a bit of a state of flux right now. There is still the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) but there is no current Canadian or West Coast presence in that league.

GM & Coaching News

  • John Davidson, President of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is reportedly the front runner to be the NY Rangers new president. Glen Sather stepped aside at the end of the regular season and the Rangers have been looking for a replacement. The Rangers want the new president to set a new vision and modernize the Rangers organization. The organization entered a rebuild at the start of this season and recently (via the draft lottery) added the number 2 overall pick in this June’s draft (the highest draft selection in their organizations history). The Rangers organization also needs to re-build their AHL operation in Hartford as well as get more into sports science and analytics. Some use the Leafs organization as an example of where the Rangers hope to get to overall. Both are big market teams with big budgets for operations.
  • New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero was signed to a multi-year extension. Shero’s head coach John Hynes was signed to an extension during the season. One of Shero’s top priorities is getting Taylor Hall signed to a new contract. Hall has one year left on his deal before becoming a UFA. Early indications are Hall has really enjoys playing for the Devils, even though he missed 49 games this season with a knee injury he suffered in practice, but he wants to win Cups. I believe contract discussions have not yet started. Hall is the reigning Hart trophy winner for league MVP (for the 2017-18 season).
  • Former Tampa Bay Lightning GM, Steve Yzerman, returns to the Red Wings as their GM. Ken Holland moves to the role of VP of Hockey Operations. Holland had been the Wings GM since 1997 and under his leadership the Wings have won 4 President’s trophies, 4 division titles & 3 Cups. The Red Wings had an incredible record of 25 straight seasons making the playoffs but since that ended in the 2015-16 season, have missed the post season 3 straight seasons. Yzerman already indicated Jeff Blashill will remain the team’s head coach. From reviewing some of Yzerman’s comments, it seems Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi are the Wings core group. The organization also has high hopes for Filip Zadina (forward drafted 6th overall in 2018) and Joe Veleno (2018 first rounder 30th overall). Ken Holland could be in the mix for the Seattle GM position but it’s too early to tell. Holland is from the West Coast (Vernon, BC). There has been some speculation that Yzerman may hire Tampa Bay AGM Pat Verbeek who could also be in the mix for the Oilers GM job. Verbeek is someone who is has been considered for GM positions in the past. Another name that gets mentioned as a possible future GM is Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito. Zito is believed to be on the Oilers list of GM candidates to interview.
  • The Florida Panthers announced 3 time Cup winner Joel Quenneville as their new head coach.  His contract was reported to be 5 years and $5.25 M with post-season bonuses that could make the deal about $7 M /season. Coach Q’s long time assistant, Mike Kitchen, is speculated to join Q in an assistant coach capacity with the Panthers. The Flyers were also interested in Quenneville be he reportedly preferred the Panthers situation.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers announced Alain Vigneault as their new head coach. AV’s deal was reported to be 5 years at $5 M per season. Vigneault has been to the Cup finals twice as an NHL head coach, with the Canucks in 2011 and with the Rangers in 2014, but has yet to win a Cup as a coach. Eight of Vigneault’s last 12 teams had at least 100 points and his team’s have won the Presidents Trophy 3 times. GM Chuck Fletcher said he was always impressed with Vigneault and could not pass up the opportunity to add him to the Flyers organization. The Flyers last won a Cup 44 years ago and have missed the post season 4 of the past 7 seasons so I sense some of the fans are a bit cynical of the team’s lack of overall success in recent times. Fletcher says he looking to add a player to two that brings some grittiness / sandpaper in an effort to make the Flyers harder to play against. The Flyers also need to improve their defense as they were 29th in the league in goals against this season. Additionally, the team may also upgrade their second line center position. They drafted Nolan Patrick 2nd overall in 2017 but Patrick’s first two seasons have seen him record just 30 and 31 points. The Flyers interim head coach, Scott Gordon, who coach the Flyers to a 25-22-4 record in 51 games after taking over from Dave Hakstol, was offered the head coaching position with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers AHL affiliate. Gordon has not decided as yet on staying on with the Flyers organization.
  • The Los Angeles Kings also announced a new coach as former Oilers and Sharks head coach Todd McLellan takes over. McLellan’s deal is also reported to be 5 years at $25 M. McLellan is the 3rd Kings head coach in the past 2 seasons. Kings GM Rob Blake has personal experience with McLellan as Blake played for McLellan when both were with the San Jose Sharks organization. McLellan won a Cup as a Red Wings assistant back in 2008. He also has been to the Western Conference semi-finals twice. Both McLellan and Blake say the players will be pushed harder and the standards for practice and games will be raised a lot. McLellan said he’s watched a lot of Kings games this season and has a lot of ideas on things he’ll be looking to implement. From some of the comments I heard after the Kings season ended, GM Blake says their is a culture issue with the Kings specifically attitude & lack of accountability among the players. The team has many of the same players that won 2 Cups but the team is now needing to get younger and build a revised team identity.
  • Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton announced that Bruce Boudreau will return next season. Boudreau has one year remaining on his contract that pays him $2.625 M. Apparently ownership did not want to pay for Boudreau to not coach next season. At the end of the regular season, Fenton dismissed Andrew Brunette & Shep Harder who were AGM’s with the team. Also dismissed were one of the team’s analytics people. Fenton just completed his first season as Wild GM; he replaced Chuck Fletcher who is now the Flyers GM.
  • With the Oilers GM search, I heard OHL London Knight’s GM Dale Hunter had a second interview. Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson is targeting approximately May 1 to hire his new GM. Apparently there are other candidates, other than Hunter, (Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon is one) and the Oilers may do 3rd interviews for the position. Wings Senior VP Ken Holland has withdrawn his name from consideration. Oilers AGM Keith Gretzky has said he wants the GM position.
  • Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson recently indicated Ken Hitchcock will be with the Oilers in some capacity next season but who the team’s head coach will be is up to their yet-to-be-hired General Manager. Hitchcock has 2 years remaining on his consulting contract with Edmonton. Nicholson also indicated he’s being allowed to talk to assistant GM’s with others teams who are still playing. Nicholson also said there will be more transparency with the management of the team as fans are asking for it. Nicholson plans to publicly clearly lay out the direction the organization is going in.
  • Arizona Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway is trying to sell a part of his ownership portion of the team. Recent indications are than another equity partner would be in place before the start of the 2019-20 season. It’s not clear what percentage Barroway is looking to sell. The Coyotes need a new arena but nothing is close on that front.
  • Senators search for a President of Hockey Ops- I heard the Senators reached out to the league to get some assistance with their search. The league recommended someone that is working for an NHL team but it’s not clear who the person is. Senators GM Pierre Dorion will remain as the team’s GM and he will be hiring a coach. The leading candidate for the Senators new coach seems to be Marc Crawford who stepped into the role after Guy Boucher was fired on March 1, 2019. Crawford went 7-10-1 in the Sens final 18 regular season games.
  • There have been some rumblings that Seattle Hockey Advisor Dave Tippett wants to coach again. About a year ago when he started with the Seattle group, he wanted to be something like a VP of Hockey Ops but there has been some recent talk he’s got the coaching bug back and Seattle does not start real games for 2 more years. Buffalo, Anaheim, Edmonton and Ottawa are the current teams with a head coaching vacancy.

Playoff Series Notes

  • For the first time in NHL history the top team in each conference was eliminated in the first round and, for the first time since 2014, there will be 3 games 7’s (Tuesday – Leafs/Bruins and Sharks/Golden Knights then Wednesday Carolina/Washington). Three of the four wildcard teams have advanced (COL, DAL, Columbus) and the forth, Carolina, is in a game 7 Wednesday night.
  • NY Islanders defeat Penguins in 4
    • After the Pens were swept in 4 straight games, some of the comments from the Penguins were about how the series was a lot closer than it appeared. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford observed the Penguins players never really came together as a team this season and possibly there is a bit of complacency setting in since they’ve won 3 Cups in the past 10 years. Rutherford said the Islanders were a far hungrier team overall and that’s why they won. The players Rutherford added mid-season, Erik Gudbranson, Jared McCann, Marcus Pettersson and Nick Bjudstad, all have reportedly worked out well. Forty two year old forward Matt Cullen didn’t announce it yet but it’s suspected he’ll retire in the off-season. One defenseman that’s gets mentioned in trade a lot is defenseman Olli Maatta.
    • The Islanders will play the winner of the Capitals vs Canes series.
    • The rest of the Islanders post-season games will be played in Brooklyn at Barclay’s Coliseum. Heard where Trotz say their group believes they have a strong chance to win the Cup this year as this post season has shown, anything can happen in playoff hockey.
  • Blue Jackets over Lightning in 4 games
    • TB head coach Jon Cooper indicated the Lightning were trying to win games 6-0 instead of tightening up defensively when they had a lead. The Bolts lead 3-0 in game one and went on to lose the game and the next 3 games. GM Julien BrisBrois said the feeling of disappointment from the whole organization was enormous. He cites league parity as a reason why the Lightning did not perform as well as they did the in the regular season.
    • Columbus is the 4th team in NHL history to sweep the President’s Trophy winner and the 3 other teams went on to win the Cup.
    • Jacket GM Kekalainen said the Jackets defeating the top team from the regular season shows they can beat anyone in these playoffs.
    • Blue Jackets will play the winner of the Bruins vs Leafs series.
    • The Blue Jackets were back on the ice Monday for practice and opened their practice to the public. Good idea as it gets fans involved and would grow fan interest in the team. This was the Blue Jackets first post season series win in franchise history.
  • Capitals vs Hurricanes – Game 7 Wednesday
    • The Hurricanes recent success is being felt at the box office where attendance was up 12% from last year and since the playoff have started the team is now up 20% in building attendance. The team has grown new business with season ticket holders up to $2 M over last season’s $400,000. The season ticket renewal rate was 72% last season and already at 91% this season. Merchandise sales have also increased but the business challenge is to sustain that level of growth and that is a lot about how the team performs on the ice. The Hurricanes are big on in-game entertainment and are adding a 4,000 square foot LED scoreboard to the PNC arena for the start of next season.
    • Caps forward TJ Oshie broke his clavicle and is out indefinitely. Connor McDavid had the same injury in his rookie season and missed 3 months.
  • Blues over Jets in 6 games
    • St. Louis became the first team in the post expansion era (1967-68) to win a playoff series after being the last place in the league on New Years Day. It’s really been a wild year in around the league but the NHL has to be happy as the season seemed to go really well and the post season has been super exciting.
    • The Jets lost all 3 of their home games in the series and they held a lead in each game.
    • Early indications are that Jets are not in a rush to make any decision on coaches. Captain Blake Wheeler says he doesn’t want to play for any other coach other than Paul Maurice.
    • Jets have the following UFA’s:
      • Forward Kevin Hayes (there’s talk the Rangers are interested in bringing back Hayes)
      • Forward Brandon Tanev
      • Forward Matt Henricks
      • Forward Par Lindholm
      • Defenseman Tyler Myers (says he wants to resign in Winnipeg)
      • Defenseman Ben Chiarot (also wants to stay with the Jets if possible)
    • RFA’s:
      • Forward Patrik Laine (avg 36 goals/season in first 3 season and just turned 21 years old)
      • Forward Kyle Connor (avg 32 goals in his first 2 seasons and 22 yo)
      • Defenseman Jacob Trouba (not expected back with the Jets)
      • Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu
      • Forward Joe Morrow
      • Forward Andrew Copp
      • Goaltender Laurent Brossoit
    • Jets forward Nik Ehlers played game 6 with a fractured leg. He recorded 9 minutes of ice time. Ehlers is goalless in 21 career post season games.
  • Avs defeat Flames in 5 games
    • This was a very entertaining series and the better team won but two of the games went to overtime.
    • The Avs top line of MacKinnon/Mikko Rantanen/Gabe Landeskog recorded 8 goals and 19 points in the series where as the Flames top line of Monahan/Gaudreau/Lindholm had just 5 with regular season 99 point player Gaudreau recording just a single assist. The Flames players all marveled at play of Avs star MacKinnon. Some people believe MacKinnon is one of the top one or two players in the world right now.
    • It was the first post-season series win for Colorado since 2008.
    • Calgary has one post-season series win in the past 14 seasons.
    • Avs have the the 4th overall selection is this years entry draft plus they added defenseman Cale Makar, 4th overall in 2017, during the Flames post-season series. Rantanen, 22, is a summertime RFA who is going to get paid on his this next contract (87 regular season points should place him at about $9 M /season).
  • Leafs vs Bruins – Game 7 on Tuesday
    • Teams that score first are 21-5 in game 7’s since 2013 though it does seems impossible to guess at what game 7 has in store. Each game has been different and one win doesn’t seem to translate to into much momentum for the next game.  The Leafs need to shutdown the B’s top line; when Brad Marchand scores a playoff goal, the Bruins are 20-1. The other part is Leafs need to improve their penalty kill which is just 9 for 16 or 56%.
    • If the Leafs advance, it will be their first post-season victory since 2004 and they’ll play Columbus in round 2.
  • Vegas vs Sharks – Game 7 Tuesday
    • Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has struggled a bit in this series and has a .906 SV% and a 3.23 GAA through 6 games. The Golden Knights have scored 4 goals against Jones in the first 90 seconds of a period 4 times in the series. Jones rebounded in game 6 making 56 saves. Game 7 is in San Jose. Vegas forwards Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty have combined for 20 points through the first 6 games.

NHL Awards Finalists

  • The NHL Awards show will be Wednesday, June 19 from Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. Some of the announced finalists:
  • Selke Trophy (Top Defensive Forward)
    • Bruins Patrice Bergeron – it’s the 8th consecutive season Bergeron has been nominated for the award and he’s won it 4 times which is tied for the most wins of the award with Bob Gainey.
    • Golden Knights Mark Stone
    • St. Louis Blues Ryan O’Reilly
  • Lady Byng (more gentlemanly player) finalists
    • Flames Sean Monahan. Recorded 82 points and just 12 penalty minutes this season.
    • Panthers Alex Barkov. 96 points and 8 PIM’s.
    • Golden Knights Mark Stone. 73 points and 27 PIM’s.
  • Vezina Trophy (Top goaltender voted by league GM’s)
    • Tampa Bay Andrei Vasilevskiy
    • Islanders Robin Lehner
    • Stars Ben Bishop
  • Bill Masterton trophy (dedication to the game of hockey)
    • Blue Jackets Nick Foligno
    • Islanders Robin Lehner
    • Sharks Joe Thornton

Player Expiring Contracts

  • The Senators would like to get defenseman Cody Ceci (7 G & 19 A) signed to a deal. Ceci is a RFA who signed a one year deal for $4.3 M last summer. Contract talks are reportedly ongoing.
  • The NY Rangers are interested in extending forward Chris Kreider. GM Jeff Gorton said goal scores are hard to find and Kreider is one of the league’s better ones. Kreider has one more year before becoming a UFA.
  • Pending RFA Canucks forward Brock Boeser is hopeful to reach a deal with the team this summer. Boeser’s agent indicated they are interested in a one year or 8 deal -or something in between. Boeser is happy in Vancouver and wants to stay. Similarly Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom hopes to sign a new deal with the team. Markstrom’s agent says Jacob considers Vancouver home. Markstrom is one season from UFA status.

World Hockey Championships in Slovakia – May 10-26

  • Team Canada
    • Canucks head coach Travis Green was contacted by Team Canada but declined citing family commitments.
    • Connor McDavid was injured in the team’s final regular season game and is unable to participate.
    • Players who confirmed they’ll play for Canada:
      • Sabres forward Sam Reinhart, Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, Flyers forward Sean Couturier (Claude Giroux is still deciding), Red Wings Anthony Mantha, Wings Tyler Bertuzzi,  New Jersey goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood.
  • Team USA
    • Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill was announced at Team USA’s head coach (NY  Rangers AGM Chris Drury is GM). Blashill’s Red Wings assistant coach Dan Bylsma will act in the same role with Team USA. Also an assistant coach with Team USA is NJ Devils head coach John Hynes.
    • USA looks to have a very good roster of players.
    • Players who’ve agreed to play for Team USA include:
      • Forwards: Alex DeBrincat, Jack Eichel, Luke Glendening, Patrick Kane, Clayton Keller, Chris Kreider, Dylan Larkin, James van Riemsdyk, Frank Vatrano, Colin White
      • Defense: Quinn Hughes, Alec Martinez, Brady Skjei, Ryan Suter
      • Goaltenders: Cory Schneider, Thatcher Demko, Cayden Primeau
  • Team Sweden
    • Committed to go:
      • Henrik Lundqvist, Jacob Markstrom, Adam Larsson, Erik Gustaffson, Robert Hagg, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Oskar Lindblom, Elias Pettersson, Adrian Kempe, Marcus Kruger, Loui Eriksson, Mario Kempe, Jesper Bratt.
  • Other teams
    • Canucks Sven Baertschi was invited by the Swiss team but declined. I assume it’s due to health as Baertschi missed about half of the Canucks season with concussion issues.
    • Canucks Markus Granlund said no to Team Finland.
    • Rangers goaltender Alex Georgiev will be representing Russia as will Ilya Kovalchuk and Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov.
    • Flames Michael Frolik will represent Team Czech.
    • Jets Patrik Laine said no to Team Finland. Laine has had a back injury he’s been dealing with all season.

Odds & Ends

  • Calgary born kid Cale Makar won the Hobey Baker awarded to the top player in USA college hockey /NCAA. He is the first Canadian to win the award since 2007. Makar’s college team, the University of Massachusetts, lost the championship game 3-0 to Minnesota-Duluth. Makar joined the Avalanche for the series against the Flames, scored in his first game and played 14 minutes. The Avs signed him to a 3 year entry level contract which means he has to be protected in the Seattle expansion draft and he used the first year of his 3 year entry level deal by playing this season’s playoffs.
  • The St. Louis Blues announced they’ve signed defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to a one year extension (for next season). The one year deal will pay Bouwmeester $3.25 M.
  • Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has tied Evgeni Malkin for most post-season goals by a Russian-born player with 63.
  • Former NHL head coach Paul MacLean is the new head coach of Cape Breton of the QMJHL.
  • Ducks forward Ryan Kesler hockey career could be over as he needs hip replacement surgery. The decision to get the surgery is suppose to happen this summer.
  • The Capitals signed forward Nic Dowd to a 3 year contract extension at an annual rate of $750,000.
  • Capitals goaltender Brayden Holtby recorded his 7th career post-season shutout which set a new Capitals record. Former Caps goaltender Olaf Kolzig had 6 shutouts.
  • Justin Brazeau agreed to a 2 year AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Brazeau was the OHL’s 2nd leading scorer in the regular season. Brazeau was passed over twice in the NHL Entry Draft.
  • Vegas signed Russia forward Nikita Gusev, 26, who is reported to be the top player not that’s not playing in the NHL. Gusev recorded 82 points in 62 games in the KHL this season. His contract with Vegas is a one year entry level deal.
  • Columbus also signed a defenseman from the KHL, Vladimir Gavrikov. It’s not clear if the player will get into a post-season game but he’s projected as a 4th or 5th defenseman and is 6’3” and 205 pounds.
  • If Dallas makes it to Western Conference finals, the Rangers get Dallas’ first round pick in the entry draft as part of the Mats Zuccerello trade.
  • American 17 year old center Jack Hughes, who is expected to go first overall in the June 2019 Entry Draft to New Jersey, was named captain of Team USA at the IIHF World U18 Hockey Championships which are ongoing (tournament started April 18 and runs through to the 28th of April in Sweden).
  • I saw an informative article about pro sports teams using sports-related branding such as building naming rights and experts confirm it’s a powerful advertising channel.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 31 Mar 2019. Regular seasons ends on Saturday evening (Apr 6).

Here are some news, notes and stats from around the league as we enter the final week of the regular season. I don’t have a lot on post-season match-up’s as most are not definitively set and I already had a lot of information to share.

League News

  • Global Series
    • The Chicago Blackhawks will open the 2018-19 regular season in Prague on October 4th against the Philadelphia Flyers.
    • The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning will play two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov. 8 & 9. The game will feature two top Sweden-born players, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
  • Apparently the playoff format is part of the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and the part about the playoff format (team match-up’s) expires after this season but the expectation is it will be extended by another year. Some teams do like the format as it requires less post-season travel but many players and coaches prefer the 1 plays 8 match-up (in the conference) in the first round instead.
  • There is $16 M dollar pool of cash that is paid out for winning and this includes 3.80% of the $16 M or $608,000 for the team that wins the President’s trophy (team with most regular season points). Also as part of the $16 M, there is money awarded to teams who win their round of the post-season. The post-season payout looks something like:
    • Winning Round One: Each winning team gets ~ $287,000 to split between the players. It’s not that much for players who make $5 M or more per season but it’s part of the CBA.
    • Winning Round Two: $575,000 to split between the players of each team that wins in round two.
    • Winning Round Three: $1.45 M
    • Reaching Cup finals: $2.6 M
    • Cup winner: Team splits approx $4.35 M. There are 23 players on the roster so each player gets $189,000.
  • The Draft Lottery is a week from this Tuesday (April 9th), the eve of the post-season beginning. Here is some detail info about team draft odds. The team with the lowest point total on the regular season has the highest odds of getting the first round selection.

GM & Coaching News

  • The Lightning announced this past Tuesday that they’ve signed their head coach Jon Cooper to a multi year extension. Cooper, 51, has a 301-157-44 record in seven seasons as bench boss with Tampa. Cooper is the longest tenured coach in the league and holds the Lightning record for most coaching wins. He was hired in March 2013. His new contract is believed to be paying him around $3.75 M /season. Cooper recently said regarding the contract and it expiring after this season, there is no place he wants be more than in Tampa.
  • Former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has been seen watching St. Louis Blues games with Blues GM Doug Armstrong. It’s unclear if there is a possible role for Chiarelli with the Blues but Armstrong has used Bob Gainey, Dave Tippet and Larry Robinson this season to assist with the Blues.
  • The Ottawa Senators are reportedly looking to hire a President of Hockey Operations. This was the position held by the late Bryan Murray. GM Pierre Dorion would continue in the GM position. Flyers AGM Dean Lombardi, formerly GM with the LA Kings for numerous years, was apparently approached about the role but his preference is to stay with the Flyers. Former Canucks President Trevor Linden was also asked if he’d be interested but apparently he isn’t. The team’s search for a new head coach will start immediately after their season concludes. Interim head coach Marc Crawford has a 6-7-1 record which is good considering the Senators roster. Another name that I’ve heard being consider for the head coaching position is the team’s AHL (Belleville Bulls) head coach Troy Mann. Former Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault could also be a possibility. He is apparently from the Ottawa (Gatineau) area.
  • The Oilers are also considering hiring a President of Hockey Operations while having CEO Bob Nicholson focus on the business side of the Oilers Entertainment Group. Nicholson said the other day that the organizations GM interview process will start within the next week or two with 12-14 candidates expected to be interviewed. Another name I’ve heard linked to the Oilers GM search is former Vancouver GM Mike Gillis.
  • Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock does not have a contract after this season with the team. The Oilers should have a new GM in place before the 2019-20 season starts so it could depend on the new GM and what direction the person wants to go in. Hitchcock, for his part, says he wants to be back with the Oilers. I believe his comment was “I want to coach until I’m 99 years old”.
  • Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon recently said he plans to sit down with his GM Don Waddell after the season is over to determine if Waddell still wants to hold the GM position. Waddell also is the President of the Hurricanes.
  • Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar reached the 100 win mark on his career. His NHL coaching record is 241 games, 100 wins, 115 losses & 13 OTL’s.
  • The Red Wings are reportedly going to sign their head coach Jeff Blashill to a 2 year extension. An announcement from GM Ken Holland is expected after the teams season concludes at the end this week.
  • There has been some speculation that neither Sabres head coach Phil Housley or Panthers head coach Bob Boughner job is safe. The Sabres record in 16 games during the month of March is 2-12-2 and the Panthers season has been a disappointment for their organization. Some suspect former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville could get some consideration with Florida as GM Dale Tallon know Coach Q from Tallon’s time with the Blackhawks.
  • With the St. Louis Blues, Craig Berube is the interim head coach but according to reports the team would like to make it permanent. The two sides met and agreed to postpone contract discussions until season’s end.

Post-season Match Up’s

  • It’s been already determined based on Sunday night’s game results, San Jose will play Vegas in the the first round. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has recently been sidelined with an injury but the expectation is he will be ready for game one against the Sharks. The Sharks are 1-7-1 in their past 9 games are Erik Karlsson is still recovering from an injury. Karlsson is expected to be ready for the Sharks first post season game. The Sharks goaltending is letting them down. Their tandem of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell are not getting it done recently and it has to be a huge concern for team management.

IIHL World Championships May 10-26 in Slovakia

  • Team Canada
    • Sabres GM Jason Botterill, former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and former Flyers GM Ron Hextall were announced as co-GM’s at the upcoming World Hockey Championships that runs from May 10-26 in Slovakia. Former NY Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was named Team Canada’s head coach with his assistants coaches to be appointed soon. Some see the Vigneault appointment as a road back to a new NHL head coaching position for him. The Rangers are paying him about $4 M for next season.
  • Team USA announced NY Rangers AGM Chris Drury as their GM for the World Championships.

Scuttlebutt

  • The Hobey Baker award for the top player in USA college hockey will be announced Friday, April 12. Finalists for the award include:
    • Joe Duszak, Mercyhurst (Leafs)
    • Adam Fox, Harvard (Carolina)
    • Taro Hirose, Michigan State (Red Wings)
    • Quinn Hughes, Michigan (Canucks)
    • Mason Jobst, Ohio State (Unsigned)
    • Cale Makar, UMass (Avs)
    • Patrick Newell, St. Cloud State (NY Rangers)
    • Chase Priskie, Quinnipiac (Capitals)
    • Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State (Unsigned)
    • Nico Sturm, Clarkson (Unsigned)
  • The leading candidates to win the award seems to be Avs draft pick/ defenseman Cale Makar, Harvard defenseman Adam Fox who’s rights are owned by Carolina, and Vancouver’s 7th overall pick from 2018 defenseman Quinn Hughes. If I had to bet, I would go with UMass’ defenseman Cale Makar winning. I heard where Avs head coach Jared Bednar said there is a chance Makar,20, will join the Avs for their final 5 games and the post-season. Avs defenseman Tyson Barrie, who is currently 6th in points for a defenseman with 56 pts, is a UFA after next season so it’s good timing to have their top defenseman prospect step into the line-up.
  • The NHLPA held a player poll on various topics. Some of the winners:
    • Top forward: Oilers Connor McDavid
    • Top defenseman: Lightning Victor Hedman
    • Top goaltender: Canadiens Carey Price
    • Most underrated player: Panthers Alek Barkov
    • Top player nickname: Tomas “Tuna” Tatar
    • Top trash talker: Bruins Brad Marchand
    • Worst trash talker: Bruins Brad Marchand
  • I heard a report that the Canucks were interested in signing pending UFA Luke Schenn to a one year deal. He was acquired from the Ducks mid-season for Michael Del Zotto.
  • All indication point to the Panthers being very active in this summers free agency. Their team owner Vincent Viola wants a winner in Miami and has said he will spend to the cap ceiling (~$83 M for 2019-20) to get there. They cleared cap space when the moved Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to the Penguins so they can add salary on July 1. Two names that are mentioned the most as players the Panthers are targeting are Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin. The Panthers rank 30th in a 31 team league in attendance (avg of 13,000 fans / game) but the organization believes if they can start winning, the fans will return. Arizona this season is fighting for a playoff spot and their recent attendance has grown to over 17,000 in the second half of the season.
  • Some stats of the players acquired at the trade deadline. I think more was expected from Granlund but the post-season still awaits.
    • Columbus Matt Duchene 20 GP 3 G 11 A
    • Predators Mikael Granlund 13 GP 1 G 3 A
    • Vegas Mark Stone 16 GP 4 G 6 A
    • Jets Kevin Hayes 16 GP 4 G 7 A

Hurricanes

  • Carolina is holding on to the final wildcard spot in the East by just one point over Montreal. The Hurricanes are looking to break their 9 year playoff drought (the longest playoff drought in the league). Would be a terrific achievement for the team if they make it in their first year under new owner Tom Dundon.
  • First year head coach Rod Brind’Amour reached the 40 win mark in his first 72 games behind the Hurricanes bench. With his 40th win, Brind’Amour reached the milestone in 10 fewer games than any other Hurricanes coach in franchise history.
  • The team’s 43 wins is the 3rd most in Carolina/Whalers franchise history (2005-06 they had 52 and 2008-09 they had 45).
  • Since January 1, 2019, only the Lightning (28) have recorded more wins than Carolina (27).
  • Hurricanes point leader Sebastian Aho has 82 points with 4 team games remaining. His point total ranks him tied with his head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, for 2nd most in a season. Eric Staal has the record with 100 individual points in a single season.
  • Former Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney was the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton trophy for perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. McElhinney, 35, has appeared in 32 games this season and has 19 W / 11 L / @ OTL’s with a 2.57 GAA & a .912 SV%. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer when he’ll be 36 years old.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Lightning are the first team with multiple 40 goal scores (Stamkos & Brayden Point) since the 2011-12 Penguins (Malkin & James Neal). It’s the first time two centers on the same team have 40 goals since 1995-96 when Petr Nedved & Mario Lemieux did.
  • The Lightning also, for the first time in their franchise history, have three 90 point players (Kucherov, Point & Stamkos) and it’s the first time for a team since the 2005-06 season.
  • Kucherov’s 120 points is the most a player has had since Sidney Crosby had 120 back in the 2006-07 season.
  • Twenty-three year old forward Brayden Point needs a new contract this summer and is going to get a big pay raise. Ninety points on a season puts him at about $8 M – $9 M per season. Marner is looking for $10 M /season with about the same number of points (Marner has 91 points with 4 games remaining).

Dallas Stars

  • Goaltender Ben Bishop recorded his 200th career win this past Monday against the Jets. Bishop has reportedly been the Stars MVP this season.
  • The Stars have 3 defenseman with 10 goals for the first time in franchise history.
    • John Klingberg
    • Miro Heiskanen
    • Esa Lindell
  • Trade deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello has started skating on his own recovering from a broken arm suffered in his first Stars game after the trade from the Rangers. Seems as though Zuccarello is tracking well to get into one or two of the Stars final regular season games. Stars will make the post season and Zucc will help them as he has 60 post season games to his credit (11 G, 20 A, 31 pts) including a trip to the Cup finals back in the 2013-14 season.
  • Forward Tyler Seguin has record 6 straight seasons of at least 70 points. Only Hall of Famer Mike Modano had more with the Stars franchise.
  • The Stars signed their 2017 first round pick goaltender Jake Oettinger to his entry level contract. Oettinger, 20, will join the AHL Texas Stars for the remainder of the season. Oettinger has played the past 3 seasons in the NCAA Boston University. He has to be one of the Stars top prospects.
  • I read where Stars rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen said his goal is to be the NHL’s top defenseman soon. GM Jim Nill compares Heiskanen to a mix between Nick Lidstrom and Scott Neidermayer. Lidstrom &  Neidermayer have, combined, won 8 Norris trophies for the league’s top defenseman. Very generous praise by Nill for a 19 year old player who just relocated to North American from Finland. Sounds like Heiskanen has landed in a good spot/supportive organization with Stars.

NY Islanders

  • The team has 4 pending UFA’s:
    • Brock Nelson 24 G & 26 A
    • Jordan Eberle 15 G & 17 A
    • Anders Lee 27 G & 20 A
    • Robin Lehner 44 GP 24 W 12 L & 5 OTL’s .928 SV% 2.19 GAA
  • Captain Anders Lee and the team have talked about an extension but Lee is looking for a 7-8 year term and the team is preferring a bit of a shorter term deal. There have apparently been no contract discussions at all with the other 3 UFA’s.
  • Brock Nelson reached the 50 point mark for the first time in his career so he’s having a good season right as he hits the open market on July 1 as a UFA.
  • Last season’s rookie of the year winner, Mathew Barzal, has seen his offensive production drop under new head coach Trotz. Last season, Barzal had 85 points and this season he’s on pace for 62. It seems Trotz wants players than can be strong defensively as well as offensively.
  • Forward Valtteri Filppula will be out 4 weeks with an upper body injury. Filppula has reportedly been a solid player this season for the Islanders. He has recorded 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points on this season.
  • The fans at Nassau have started to chant “Bar-ry Tr-otz” during games. Kind of funny. The team’s playoff first round games will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and subsequent rounds, if the Isles advance, in Brooklyn at Barclay’s Center.

Canadiens

  • The Habs have 3 players (Gallagher/Max Domi/Tatar) with 25+ goals for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
  • Forward Max Domi is first player in ten seasons to record 70 points in a season as a Habs player (Tomas Plekanec had 70 pts back in the 2009-10 season, the last Habs player with 70 points in a season). Domi just turned 24 years old. So many people questioned the Galchenyuk for Domi deal – saying Galchenyuk was the better player but Domi has excelled in Montreal in his first season. Galchenyuk, 25, has recorded 39 points on 17 goals with the Coyotes this season.
  • Shea Weber has 13 goals in just 50 games played. He missed the first part of the season recovering from off-season knee surgery.
  • The team has signed goaltender Cayden Primeau to his entry level contract (he’s Keith Primeau’s son). Primeau will join the Laval Rocket. Primeau was drafted late – in the 7th round – and played this season and last in the NCAA, at Northwestern University.
  • The Habs also signed the MVP of the most recent World Juniors, forward Ryan Poehling, to an entry level contract. Poehling played this season in the NCAA where he recorded 31 points in 36 games.

Leafs

  • The Leafs record since Jan. 1, 2019 is 19-15-5 which is 17th in the league but overall this season, the team is 24-2-1 when leading after the first and 35-0-1 when leading after 2 periods. Seems getting a lead is key for them.
  • Defenseman Morgan Rielly became just the 3rd Leafs defenseman to record a 70 point season. The others Ian Turnbull and Borje Salming. Rielly just turned 25 years old and, by the end of his career, could be one of the top defenseman to ever play with the Leafs organization.
  • Word is Jake Gardiner is expected back before the regular season concludes. The team is targeting a Gardiner return for possibly the two final regular season games. Heard where Gardiner said how much he is looking forward to getting back in the line-up and feels the team is going to have a good post season. He seems to be a well liked & respected player with his teammates. Mike Babock said Gardiner is a very, very important player and they’ll need him in the post-season.
  • Marner’s 66 assists with 4 games remaining tie him for 4th most assists in a season for a Leafs player (in franchise history).
    • Doug Gilmour (1992-93) – 95
    • Doug Gilmour (1993-94) – 84
    • Darryl Sittler (1977-78) – 72
    • Borje Salming (1976-77) – 66
    • Mitch Marner (2018-19) – 66
  • Marner’s 90 points on the season are the most for a Leafs player since Mats Sundin had 94 back over 20 years ago in the 1996-97 season.
  • Forward Zach Hyman reached the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career and he missed 10 games this season with an ankle injury. I believe he’s an important player on the team as he really brings physicality and leadership to the team.
  • Tavares’ 45 goals is the most of any player who is playing in his first season with the team. Ed Olczyk had held the record with 42 goals in his first Leafs season back in the 1987-88 season. Additionally, the team has not had a player with as many goals in a season since Dave Andreychuk and Wendal Clark has 42 goals back 25 years ago, in the 1993-94 season. Only Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (51) and Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (47) have scored more goals this season than Tavares. With 4 team games remaining in the regular season, Tavares need 4 goals in 5 games to become the first Leaf player in 25 years (Dave Andreychuk had 50 in the 1993-94 season) to reach 50 goals.
  • Patrick Marleau is now 5th in all-time games played with 1653 games. Marleau has only played 114 less games than all-time games played leader Gordie Howe. Head coach Babcock was recently asked if he’s concerned with Marleau’s drop in offensive production. His reply, “No, not really. Playoffs are his time.”
  • Forward Tyler Ennis was the team’s nomination for the Bill Masterton award for perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. Ennis called it an honor to be nominated and said it meant a lot to him. He credited the Leafs organization for taking a chance on him by signing him this past summer. Ennis has 12 goals and 18 points in 48 Leafs games this season.
  • Defenseman Ron Hainsey recently turned 38 years old and is a July 1, 2019 UFA. The only defenseman older than Hainsey are Zdeno Chara, Brooks Orpik and Nik Kronwall. I’ve not heard if Hainsey is going to try and get a contract for the 2019-20 season. He has one Cup to his credit – from the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins team.
  • Newly acquired center/forward Nic Petan signed a 2 year extension at an annual rate of $775,000 /season.
  • The team has 4 games remaining including Monday night at Nassau Coliesum which should be interesting as the fans really give to former Islanders star John Tavares. After Monday the remaining 3 Leafs games are:
    • Home against Carolina on Tuesday
    • Home against Tampa Bay on Thursday
    • Saturday night in Montreal against the Canadiens

Flames

  • The Flames won the Western Conference for the first time in 29 years after defeating the Sharks on Sunday night. The team also won the division for the first time since the 2005-06 season and reached the 100 point mark for the first time since the 2005-06 season. They will open the post-season at home for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
  • The team had 5 players (Gaudreau, Lindholm, Monahan, Tkachuk, Giordano) with 70+ points. It’s the first time a team has had 5 players with 70+ points since the 2000-01 season when the Penguins did.
  • The team has already won 23 games on the road this season which sets a franchise record.
  • The team’s first round selection from 2017 Juuso Valimaki is set to rejoin the team after rehabbing an ankle injury in the AHL. He has to be the top rated prospect in the Flames system.

Oilers

  • Heard Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson interviewed and he mentioned the top priorities with the team this off-season is adding skill. I assume he means both on defense and, more key, up front with the forwards. Nicholson also added he values leadership and good people but wants to complement the team’s leadership group which I believe is McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbolm. Nicholson added the organization is happy with the addition of forward Sam Gagner who they acquired from the Canucks because he’s a good player and quality person.
  • Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have reached the 100 point mark on the season. It’s the first time since the 1988-89 season (Gretzky & Kurri) the team has achieved that and the first season in the NHL since 2009-10 Caps Ovechkin & Backstrom that there were two teammates with 100+ points. Additionally, Draisaitl is the first German born NHL player to reach 100 points in a season. I expect, but have not heard definitively, that both players will compete for their country at the upcoming World Championships in Slovakia in May.
  • The Oilers have missed the post season 12 of the past 13 seasons. Seems the upcoming GM hiring is critical to get right.

Washington

  • The Capitals have made the post-season for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.

Columbus

  • The Blue Jackets really struggled after the trade deadline (where they acquired Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Adam McQuaid) but have won their past 5 straight games. In the 5 wins, they outscored their opponent a combined 24-4 and goaltender Bobrovsky has 3 shutouts in the 5 wins. Bobrovsky leads the league in shutouts with 9.
  • Forward Cam Atkinson reached the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career and he’s just the second player to score 40 with the Blue Jackets franchise (Rick Nash had 41 in both the 2003-04 season and again in the 2008-09 season).
  • Forward Artemi Panarin set both career highs and franchise highs in points and assists with 56 assists and 83 points. Too bad for the Blue Jackets Panarin won’t commit to signing a new deal with the team.

Transactions/ Signings

  • Flyers signed forward Michael Raffl to a 2 year contract that starts next season. The deal will pay Raffl $1.6 M in each of the two years. The player was scheduled to be a UFA this summer. In 64 games this season, Raffl recorded 6 goals and 18 points.
  • Predators tough forward Austin Watson was assigned to the Preds AHL team, the Milwalkee Admirals on a conditioning stint but has since been recalled.
  • The Red Wings signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a one year extension, for next season. Howard will get a $4 M base salary plus $1.1 M in potential bonuses. The contract does not included a “no trade” clause.
  • The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Nick Schmaltz to a 7 year deal at an annual cap hit of $5.85 M. Since this season’s trade from Chicago, Schmaltz has recorded 5 goals and 9 assists in 17 Coyotes games.

Milestones & Streaks

  • LA Kings forward Dustin Brown became the all-time leader in games played by a Kings player when he played 1112 career game. Dave Taylor, now VP of Hockey Ops with the St. Louis Blues, had held the record.
  • Jets forward Patrik Laine, who doesn’t turn 21 until April 19, became just the 4th player to record 3 seasons of at least 30 goals before turning 21 years old. Only Gretzky, Hawerchuk and Jimmy Carson has achieved that.
  • Canucks defenseman Alex Edler surpassed the Canucks record for most goals scored as a member of the Canucks when he scored his 94th goal. Mattias Ohlund had held the record. Edler, 33, is a July 1 UFA but wants to stay with the Canucks. He also holds the franchise record for defenseman points, PP points and games played.
  • Canucks forward Bo Horvat needs 2 goals to reach 100 for his career. He’ll be the 4th player from the 2103 draft class to reach the milestone (MacKinnon, Barkov, Monahan).
  • Blue captain Alex Pietrangelo recently recorded his 300th career assist.
  • Blues forward Vlad Tarasenko now has recorded 5 straight 30 goal seasons. Only Capitals Alex Ovechkin has as long a 30 goal per season streak (14 straight seasons).
  • Blue Jackets forward Ryan Dzingel recently reached a new career high in goals. He currently has 25 and his previous career high was 23. Dzingel is a July 1, 2019 UFA. In 72 games this season, Dzingel has recorded 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points.
  • The New York Islanders lead the league in shutouts with 10. They also lead the league in fewest goals against.
  • Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara recently recorded his 200th career goal. There has been just 22 defenseman all-time score at least 200 goals. Chara also just signed a one year contract, for next season, with the Bruins. The deal will pay Chara $2 M for the season plus $1.75 M in possible performance bonuses.
  • Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 900th career game recently. He also set a new franchise record for points from a Panthers defenseman. Yandle has 60 points on the season. The Panthers have had trouble keeping the puck out of their net this season and are 3rd worst in the league in goals against.
  • Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba recently played in his 400th career game. Trouba, 25, has recorded 173 points on 40 goals in the 400 games. The player is a restricted free agent in the summer playing on the one year $5.5 M deal he signed in the summer.
  • Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson recently recorded his 400th career point. Carlson reached the milestone after 684 career games (.58 PPG). Carlson is having another strong offensive season with 65 points which is 4th among defenseman in the league.
  • Vegas forward Reilly Smith recently played in his 500th career game.
  • LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar will play in his 1000th career game on Monday against the Flames. Kopitar has recorded 885 points in his career; he went 11th overall in the 2005 entry draft. Kopitar had 92 points last season and is on pace for 60 this season.
  • Oilers Milan Lucic reached the 500th career point milestone. He has just 19 points this season on 5 goals. Lucic has 4 more seasons left on his contract that pays him $6 M /season.
  • LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has appeared in 600 career games. He has 308 wins. There’s been 36 goaltenders all-time with at least 300 career wins.
  • Blues Tyler Bozak reached the 400 point milestone this past week. Bozak needed 663 games to reach the mark. He was a good Leafs player for a number of years and seems like a quality person (wore an “A” with the Leafs).

Injuries

  • Islanders forward Andrew Ladd will be out for 4-5 months with a torn ACL in his knee. The team expects him to be ready for training camp.
  • Ducks forward Patrick Eaves is currently injured. He was with the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Ducks, but is re-experiencing some of this some problems that he has last year- muscle weakness. Eaves turns 35 in May. Seems it would be tough for him to return to the NHL level.
  • Bruins Marcus Johasson (lung contusion) is expected to be ready by the first Bruins playoff game.
  • Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien returned Saturday after missed 19 games with an ankle injury. Byfuglien is a key player for the Jets and he played a team leading 24:24 (ice time) in his first game back.

Odds & Ends

  • Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who turns 40 in April, could retire this off-season. Luongo is 3rd all-time in wins with 488. He has a career save percentage of .919.
  • With the Flyers, goaltender Carter Hart will be given every opportunity be the team’s number one goaltender next season but both Brian Elliott and recently acquired Cam Talbot, who are both unrestricted on July 1, reportedly want to be back with the Flyers next season.
  • Bruins Patrice Bergeron has set a new career high in points this season with 74. Bergeron, 33, set the record after 60 Bruins games.
  • Sharks forward Tomas Hertl has had a breakout season with 35 goals this season. His previous career high in goals was 22 (recorded last season). Hertl’s 35 goals are the most by a player age 25 or younger since former Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo recorded 56 in 2005-06.
  • Only HOF player Pavel Bure has recorded more points in a season in Panthers franchise history than Alek Barkov has this season. Barkov has 91 points this season. Bure had 94 points back in the 1999-2000 season as a member of the Panthers. Barkov recently said he really wants to play in the post-season more often, the Panthers have missed the post-season 5 of his 6 seasons with Florida.
  • The Red Wings have two 30 goal scorers, Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. It’s the first time since the 2008-09 season they’ve had even one thirty goal scorer.
  • Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson quietly has 17 goals on the season and 56 points. He’s tied for 6th in the league in defenseman points and is tied for second in goals. The ‘Hawks look like they have a solid defenseman with a lot of offensive upside.
  • Hawks 21 year old forward Alex DeBrincat is tied with Patrick Kane in goals with 41 on the season. DeBrincat is just in his 2nd full season in the league after playing in the OHL with the Erie Otters and being linemates with Connor McDavid. In 160 NHL games, DeBrincat has 69 goals (.43 goals per game). Additionally, Kane and DeBrincat are the first American born teammates with 40+ goals in a season since 1991-92 when Penguins Kevin Stevens and Joe Mullen both had at least 40.
  • Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has just 1 goal in the team’s past 23 games. He still has 37 on the season. He’s a summertime UFA.
  • The Panthers have missed the post-season 16 of the past 18 seasons. The last time they won a playoff round was 1995-96 when they went to the Cup finals. They’ve made the post-season 5 times in their 25 year franchise history.
  • Hockey broadcasting legend Bob Cole, 85, will call his final career game this Saturday when the Leafs play in Montreal.
  • St. Louis had a remarkable run since the start of 2019. They are 27-10-4 in their past 41 games. They were 18 points behind the Jets at the start of the year and are now 2 points back – and the Jets win a lot of games.
  • Predators forward Craig Smith has recorded 5 straight 20 goal seasons. Smith doesn’t get much mention as a consistent contributor around the league. Only Filip Forsberg has more consecutive seasons of at least 20 goals in Predators franchise history.
  • Since the Presidents Trophy (team that finishes the regular season with the most points) started being awarded in 1986, just 8 teams have won both the President’s trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season:
    • 2013 Chicago Blackhawks
    • 2008 Detroit Red Wings
    • 2002 Detroit Red Wings
    • 2001 Colorado Avalanche
    • 1999 Dallas Stars
    • 1994 New York Rangers (last Eastern Conference team to do it)
    • 1989 Calgary Flames
    • 1987 Edmonton Oilers
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