- The Draft Lottery will be held Tuesday, April 9th in Toronto. It’s the evening before the post-season starts and it’s 3 weeks earlier than the lottery was held last season. Here is some info about the draft lottery. Basically the 3 worst teams are represented by lottery balls (the logo is on the ball) and the first ball selected represents the team with the 3rd overall draft pick, the second ball selected is the 2nd overall pick and the remaining ball (with a team logo on it) gets to select first overall. Michigan native Jack Hughes, who has recorded 40 points on 10 goals in 20 games this season playing for the USA National Development program, is expected to go first or second overall and suppose to have high-end offensive skills. Jack Hughes brother, Quinn a defenseman, went 7th overall in 2018 to Vancouver and there is a 3rd brother who is expected to be drafted to the NHL.
- NHL in China / Pre-season games
- I heard the Blue Jackets are one team that will be going to China for pre-season games for the 2019-20 season.
- NHL Global Series
- The Flyers will play the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague to open the 2019-20 season.
- The league and players association are apparently having ongoing meetings but I’ve not heard many details about what the content of the meetings are. I did hear around mid-season that discussions were characterized as “cordial & positive”.
- GM meetings update:
- The GM’s discussed the idea of having a one minute penalty in OT but there was not enough support so no change. The GM’s apparently like the idea that more games are settled in OT and not the shootout.
- The GM’s are recommending a new rule where a player must immediately go to their player bench if they lose their helmet during play. I believe the Board of Governors has to approve this rule change but all indications are that they’ll go with the GM’s recommendation.
- Predators Austin Watson has been reinstated by the league after completing the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program. The NHL released a kind statement about it says they wish him well and will be not commenting further on the matter.
- Seems the New York Islanders will split their home games next season between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
- Calgary-based Hockey Canada announced OHL London Knights GM Mark Hunter was appointed to the Program of Excellence management team to oversee the World Junior team for Canada and the under-20 program. Apparently, there is an out in Hunter’s deal if he takes an NHL GM position.
GM & Coaching
- Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer has reportedly signed a contract extension with the team. The deal is believed to be for 2-3 years but the Sharks are apparently waiting until their season concludes to announce the deal.
- Sportsnet reported this week that Leafs assistant coach DJ Smith is getting interest as a possible head coach in the league. Also with the Leafs, the organization is close to signing the AHL Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe to a new contract that would make him the highest paid AHL coach. Keefe reportedly has an out in the contract if there is an NHL opportunity.
- The Oilers search for a new GM is ongoing and is reportedly still in the discovery stage. Some names being talked about:
- Kelly McCrimmon – Vegas AGM
- Keith Gretzky – Oilers AGM
- Mike Futa – Kings AGM (talk is LA wants the Oilers to wait until the season is over which is two weeks away for LA)
- Possibly Ron Hextall – former GM with Flyers and AGM to Dean Lombardi when both were with LA
- OHL London Knight GM Mark Hunter
- Another name I’ve heard is Red Wings GM Ken Holland. There is some talk Lightning Special Adviser Steve Yzerman could be GM with the Red Wings (or President) effective next season. Holland, 63, has just the one year left on his contract and is apparently not ready to retire. Holland could possibly move into a President of Hockey Ops role with the Red Wings but this is just speculation.
- Former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was interviewed the other day and said he’ll be looking to get back into an NHL head coaching position for next season. Coach Q is a high paid coach, believed to be making similar to what Leafs head coach Babcock makes, $6 M /season, and this could be a factor on which teams may have interest. Not all organizations want to pay as much for a head coach.
- There was some concern expressed among the GM’s about the nets being dislodged and affecting goals. This is a new issue with the GM’s and something they don’t want to be an issue in the post-season. There have been some recent incidents were goalies were accidentally/on purpose pushing the nets off.
- Islander head coach Barry Trotz seems to be a lock for the Coach of the Year award. The award is voted on by broadcasters. Trotz recently spoke about it & said his vote would go to Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.
- Marc Crawford is the interim coach in Ottawa but it’s open for next season. GM Dorion is reportedly looking for a coach that can teach and develop young players.
- Ducks GM Bob Murray has recorded 9 wins and 9 losses since taking over as Ducks head coach on February 9th. The head coach of their AHL affiliate, Dallas Eakins, is the front runner to take over as Ducks head coach next season but people expect GM Murray to do a full search and interview other candidates.
- Willie Dejardins is the interim head coach in LA and reports indicate it could be him or former Oilers head coach Todd McLellan as LA’s bench boss next season.
- Devils forward Taylor Hall is reportedly recovering well from knee surgery. The team is expected to make a decision very soon whether he’ll play again this season. There are just 2 weeks left in the season and the Devils are not going to make the post-season. Hall is a UFA after next season but indications are that is wants to stay with the Devils.
- The Penguins are reportedly very happy with Erik Gudbranson who they acquired from the Canucks for forward Tanner Pearson. Apparently, Gudbranson has been very steady while adding a more physical presence to the Pens blueline. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford acquired Gudbranson in part because the Pens were getting pushed around a bit in games.
- Mark Stone’s 8 year contract at $9.5 M /season is official. The Golden Knights are 9-1 since the trade and Stone has recorded 4 goals, 4 assists for 8 points in the ten games. He made a very good Vegas team a lot better. Vegas really has to hope that their MVP goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury does not get injured in the post-season as they do not have any depth at the position. Fleury is currently leading the league in wins with 35.
- Many fans think the current playoff format is not ideal. This view seems to shared by some key players & coaches as well. There does not seem to be an advantage to having a strong regular season when you meet a team within a few points of you in the first round of the post-season. The Atlantic Division has Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto – 3 of the league’s top 5 teams – and 2 of these teams could exit after round one. This is apparently a Board of Governors & NHLPA issue (it’s part of the CBA) but Commissioner Gary Bettman is on record as saying he likes the current format.
NCAA/College Player Signings
- The Canucks signed Princeton defenseman Josh Teves who has recorded 20 points in 30 games in the NCAA this season to a one year deal.
- Toronto signed defenseman Joseph Duszak who played at Mercyhurst U to a 2 year deal that is effective next season. Duszak recorded 47 points in 37 games in the NCAA this season. The player is joining the Marlies on a tryout as soon as this week.
- The Senators signed forward Max Veronneau to a 2 year contract. Veronneau, 23, played at Princeton this season (he’s from the Ottawa area) where he recorded 37 points in 31 games. Veronneau has played 2 games with the Senators since signing and recorded an assist.
- The Red Wings signed forward Taro Hirose who played this season at NCAA Michigan State. Hirose, 22, is from Winnipeg and this season recorded 50 points on 15 goals in 50 games for Michigan.
- The Canucks signed their first round, 7th overall draft pick, defenseman Quinn Hughes to an entry level contract. Hughes is currently injured with a bone bruise in his foot but hopes to get a few of the Canucks remaining 9 games.
Tampa Bay Lightning
- The Lightning captured their first Presidents Trophy in franchise history on Monday night after 73 games. Since the trophy was first awarded in 1985-86, only one team has required fewer contests to win the trophy – that was the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings who needed just 71 games. The other interesting fact is no Eastern Conference team has won the President’s trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season since the 1994 New York Rangers. I was seeing it as Tampa’s year for sure but this fact shows that playoffs are an new season entirely.
- Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov seems to be a lock for the Hart trophy for league MVP (most valuable to his team). Kucherov has recorded 117 points in 73 games (1.60 PPG) and leading the scoring race by 12 points. His 117 points this season are the most since 2006-07 when Sidney Crosby recorded 120 points and Joe Thornton had 114 points. Kucherov is on pace for 133 points. Additionally, Kucherov leads the league in multi point games with 34; it’s the most number of multi point games since Alex Ovechkin recorded 35 in the 2009-10 season. Kucherov will be the second Lightning player to win the Art Ross trophy, most regular season points, since Martin St.Louis did in 2012-13 (St. Louis also won it in 2003-04).
- If Kucherov had no goals, he’d still be 13th in points in the league as he has 82 assists.
- Tampa Bay has set a franchise record for most wins in a regular season with 55. They also tied their franchise record in road wins with 25 (the same number as last season).
- Steven Stamkos has establish a new franchise record for all time goals in Lightning history with 384 goals. Vincent Lecavalier had held the record but Stamkos reached the new record in fewer games. Lecavalier has his jersey retired by the Lightning organization and Stamkos will as well when his career concludes.
- Steven Stamkos: 384 goals in 737 games played (.52 goals / game)
- Vinny Lecavalier: 383 goals in 1,037 games played (.37 goals / game)
- Stamkos joins Ovechkin and Vegas’ William Karlsson as the only other active players that hold their franchises record for most goals.
- The team has lost 3 of their past 4 games and have allowed 23 goals against in the four games (only 2 of the goals against were when the team was on the PK). Seems the focus has turned to how to defend better. The team has a lot of offensively skilled forwards but obviously need to be better defensively. The team is falling behind to start games:
- Lightning, down 4-0
- ‘Hawks, down 5-0
- Flyers, down 5-2
- Senators, down 4-1
- Since the start of 2019 in 33 games played, the Leafs have a record of 17-13-3 for 17th in the league so they’ve not excelled in the second half of the season.
- Forward Kasperi Kapanen is reportedly nearing a return from a concussion. He has missed 4 games with the injury. It’s looking like Kapanen will play on a line with Kadri and Marleau (since Nylander has moved up to play with Auston Matthews). Freddy Gauthier is apparently injured (bruised foot) and will miss the next two games. Petan appears to be Gauthier’s replacement as the team’s 4th line center. Igor Ozhiganov appears to be going in on the 3rd d pairing with Martin Marincin. The team was working on their defensive positioning and defending chances off the rush – when the play quickly shifts from an offensive chance in the others teams d zone to turning to quickly defending the other team as they skate up ice.
- Injured defenseman Travis Dermott (shoulder) and is about 2 weeks from returning while veteran defenseman Jake Gardiner has not been able to start skating which is concerning. No word on if Gardiner will be ready for the post-season. The team misses his ability to move the puck up ice from the d zone plus he has a lot of experience.
- Forward Andreas Johnsson reached the 20 goal mark last week. Johnsson was a seventh round pick of the Leafs back in 2013 hence not much was expected of him. Forty points on 20 goals in 65 games is an excellent season for the player that in just his first full season in the league.
- Defenseman Morgan Rielly is just the 3rd defenseman in Leafs history to record 20 goals in a season and the only defenseman in the league with 20. The others Leafs to reach 20 goals as a defenseman are Ian Turnbull in 1975-76 & again in 1976-77 and Al Iafrate in 1987-88 and 1989-90. Seems the leading candidates for the Norris trophy as top defenseman are Sharks Brent Burns (75 points), Morgan Rielly (68 points) and Flames Mark Giordano (67 points). All 3 players have had terrific seasons.
- Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Mitch Marner is one of the smartest players the NHL has ever seen. Incredible compliment from the longest tenured NHL head coach.
- The team lost it’s first game this season when leading after 2 periods recently when they lost in OT against Vancouver. They are now 32-0-1 when leading after 2. Seems getting a lead is important to their success.
- Forward Auston Matthews recently played in his 200th career game. He’s recorded 193 points with 105 goals. It’s the same number of points as former Leafs Mats Sundin had after 200 games.
- The team signed defenseman Andreas Borgman to a one year, two way contract for $700,000 at the NHL level. The contract is for the 2019-20 season. Some people see Borgman as a 7th defenseman/a player that plays when their are injuries on the back-end. Calle Rosen, also a defenseman, agreed to a 2 year one way contract for next season earlier this season at a rate of $750 K /season. Seems as though Rosen is ahead of Borgman on the team’s defense depth chart.
- Apparently a two year extension for newly acquired 4th line forward Nic Petan is near.
- John Tavares recently reached the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career. He also recently reached the 700 career points milestone (in 741 games).
- The team has 10 games remaining as of March 18, 4 at home and 6 away. Their upcoming schedule looks like:
- Tuesday the 19th at Nashville (playoff team)
- Wednesday the 20th at Buffalo (non playoff team & 2-7-1 in this past 10 games)
- Saturday the 23rd at home against the Rangers (non playoff team)
- Monday the 25th against another non playoff team, Florida
- The Canucks have won just 6 games since Feb. 4 going 6-10-4 over that time. The team will miss the post-season for the forth straight season. The youth movement in Vancouver seems to be progressing well overall, though, as the team is second in the league in points from rookies with 14.7% of all points (the Senators league the league in points from rookies at 21.7%).
- Rookie forward Elias Pettersson has set a new franchise record in rookie points with 61. Pavel Bure in the 1991-92 season recorded 60 points and Ivan Hlinka in 1981-82 season also had 60. Pettersson accomplished the record in just 62 games. Pettersson is expected to win the Calder trophy as the league top rookie player.
- Defenseman Chris Tanev suffered a reported broken leg last week in a game against New Jersey and will not play again this season. Tanev, 29, will be a UFA after the 2019-20 season. He’s recorded 12 points on 2 goals this season. He has really struggled with injuries during his career and it affects his market value as a player. He’s played 53, 42 and 55 games in each of the past 3 seasons.
- Agitating forward Antoine Roussel will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Roussel signed a 4 year deal with this Canucks this past off-season at $3 M /season. He set a new career high in points with 31 in 65 team games.
- Forward Loui Eriksson was a healthy scratch last week for the first time in his career. The 33 year old forward has 22 points on 10 goals in 70 games played this season. Eriksson has 3 more years at $6 M left on his contract which has not worked out well for the team.
- The team signed defenseman Jett Woo to an entry level contract. Woo is 6th in WHL defenseman scoring with 62 points in 61 games. Woo was the team’s 2nd round draft pick from 2018.
- GM Jim Benning recently said he believes the organization is progressing well in developing their young players and they won’t be looking to sign a high price UFA on July 1 but possibly a veteran player or two that can support their young core group of players.
- Connor McDavid has recorded his 3 straight 100 point season. He joins Gretzky, Lemieux, Hawerchuk & Crosby as the only players age 22 or younger to record 3 straight 100 point seasons. McDavid is currently running a streak of 8 straight games where he’s recorded at least 2 points.
- With McDavid at 105 points and Draisaitl at 91 points, it’s the first time since 1989-90 (Messier & Kurri) that the organization has had two 90+ point players. There was reports last week that even if the Oilers don’t make the post season, McDavid wants to remain in Edmonton. A reporter asked him about the GM search and he basically said “I play hockey and don’t hire anyone”. He seems to love to play the game and really enjoys playing with his close friend Leon Draisaitl. The organization just needs to surround him with a better supporting cast particularly with the forwards.
- Forward Alex Chiasson, who’s playing with his 4th team in as many years, recently reached the 20 goal mark. Chiasson joined the Oilers on a professional tryout and made the team from training camp. Chiasson is entering another off-season of uncertainty as he’s a July 1, 2019 UFA.
- I heard the Finnish National Team may consider Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen for the upcoming World Championships that start in late May in Slovkia. Former NHL player Jere Lehtinen is the team’s GM.
Milestones & Streaks
- Capital tough forward Tom Wilson has set a career high in goals with 20 so far this season. Wilson’s previous high goal total was 14 which he recorded last season. Wilson is first year of a six year deal that pays him $5.17 M / season. Wilson leads the Capitals in penalty minutes with 101 minutes.
- Caps forward Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1200th career point this past week. Ovi is just one of 14 players all-time that have recorded 650+ goals and 1,200+ points. Some experts believe he should get more MVP consideration. He has 48 goals with 11 team games remaining. If he gets 50 goals, it will be the 8th season he’s reached 50 goals (in a 14 year NHL career). Some people are starting to talk as though he is the greatest goal scorer the league has ever seen.
- Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky set a new Columbus record in shut-outs with 30 (6 this season). The only goaltender with more shut-outs this season is Marc-Andre Fleury (8).
- Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk recorded his 100th career assist recently. Tkachuk, 21, is a restricted free agent this summer and will reportedly be looking for about $8 M /season on a long-term deal. He has recorded 32 goals and 41 assists in 70 games this season.
- Wild forward Jason Zucker recently played in his 400th career game, all with the Wild organization.
- Arizona leads the league in shorthanded goals with 16. It’s the most number of shorthanded goals scored in a season since they’ve been in Arizona. Forward Michael Grabner has 5 of the goals even though he’s played in just 30 games this season.
- Jets forward Mark Scheifele has set a new career high in goals with his 33rd of the season.
- Evgeni Malkin reached the 1,000 point mark this past week. Malkin joins Mario Lemieux (1,723), Crosby (1,206) and Jagr (1,079) for Penguins that have reached the 1,000 point milestone. Malkin in his career has won 3 Cups, an Art Ross for a player with the most points, Conn Smythe for playoffs MVP, Calder for rookie of the year. The only other players who achieved as much are Bryan Trottier & Patrick Kane. Malkin was injured recently and the team says he’s “week to week” recovering. With the playoffs two weeks away this is something that will be talked about.
- Sharks forward Joe Thornton has moved into 14th place all-time in points (411 G, 1057 A 1468 points). Thornton recently passed Stan Mikita in points. Thornton is also closing in on Steve Yzerman for 8th all-time in assists.
- Devils forward Travis Zajac recently reached the 500 point milestone. His just the 4th player to reach as many points with the Devils franchise.
- Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler became the franchise leader in points by a defenseman. Fowler has recorded 265 points.
- Canadiens captain Shea Weber became the only active defenseman with 200 career goals. There have been just 21 defenseman all-time with 200 career goals.
- Ducks forward Ryan Kesler recently played in his 1,000 career game.
- Sidney Crosby recently reached the 1,200 point milestone. He required just 938 career games (1.30 PPG).
- Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has reached the 100 point mark for the second time in his career. Only former ‘Hawks Denis Savard (5 times) and Jeremy Roenick (3 times) has done so more.
- San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture recorded his 500th career point on Monday. Couture reached the milestone in 655 games which is faster than any other player that’s played with the Sharks organization.
- Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau, 25, set a new franchise record when he recorded his 54th and 55th assists this season. Former Panthers player Viktor Kozlov had held the record with 53 assists back in the 1999-2000 season. Huberdeau has set a career high in points this season (78 points in 72 games); his previous career high was 69 points.
- Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk recorded 19 goals in his past 29 games and has 25 in 56 games played this season. Since January 10, he’s tied for most goals in the league. The Flyers are not going to the post-season but good to see JVR playing well after missing almost the first half of the season with some sort of leg injury.
- Predators forward Filip Forsberg recently recorded his 300th career point. Forsberg became the first Preds player to record 5 season with 25+ goals.
- Avs star Nathan MacKinnon joined Peter Forsberg as the only two players in Avs franchise history with back to back 90 point seasons. MacKinnon is just 23 years old. He’s an incredible player.
- Last years first overall selection Sabres Rasmus Dahlin has tied Bobby Orr for the 2nd most points for an 18 year old defenseman in league history. Dahlin has 8 goals and 30 assists for 38 points. Dahlin’s head coach Phil Housley holds the record with 57 points as an 18 year old defenseman.
- Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal has reached the 500 career point milestone (213 g and 287 a).
- Senators Bobby Ryan recently played in his 800th career game. Ryan, 32, was drafted #2 overall in the 2005 draft just after Sidney Crosby.
- Bruins Patrice Bergeron recently recorded his 800th career point. He’s the 6th player in Bruins history to record as many points.
- Panthers star forward Alek Barkov has reached the 80 point mark for the first time in his career. There have been only five Finns to reach 80 points in a season:
- Jari Kurri
- Teemu Selanne
- Olli Jokinen
- Mikko Rantanen
- Alek Barkov
- Hurricanes Sebastian Aho has 78 points and should reach the milestone as well.
- Kaapo Kakko a Finnish 18 year old forward is moving up and expected to go either first or second overall at this year’s draft in Vancouver. Kakko has broken Alek Barkov’s goal scored record for most goals in the Finnish league for a player under 18 years old.
- Bruins forward Brad Marchand has reached a career high in points this season with 92 with 11 team games remaining. Marchand has also recorded his 4th straight 30 goal season. He’s the first Bruins player do achieve that since Cam Neely recorded 5 straight 30 goals seasons from 1986-1991.
- San Jose Sharks rookie defenseman Radim Simek won’t play again this season with a knee injury (torn ACL and MCL in his right knee). Czech born Simek has been Brent Burns d partner since around the 30 game mark of this season. It’s Simek’s first season in the NHL. Joakim Ryan is expected to step into Simek’s spot alongside Burns.
- Senators sophomore defenseman Thomas Chabot suffered a broke toe and is probably out for the rest of the season. Chabot has recored 49 points in 62 games this season while averaging 24 mins of ice per game. Chabot may be an option for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships in Slovakia.
- Sounds like Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson won’t be back before the post-season begins. He’s dealing with groin strain. Seems to be a bit of an ongoing issue for Karlsson.
- Blues David Perron is back playing after missing 24 games due to a concussion. Perron has recorded a point in 14 straight Blues games he’s played in.
Odds & Ends
- The main piece Ottawa acquired in the Mark Stone deal, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, played in his first NHL last week. Some experts believe Brannstrom will be a star at the NHL level.
- Hurricanes rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov (2nd overall 2018) has quietly had a good season with 18 goals and 15 assists. The player is just 18 years old.
- Habs 23 year old forward Jonathan Drouin has hit a wall offensively with just 4 points in his past 16 games. Montreal is 3 points back of a wildcard spot with 10 games remaining.
- Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson could set a Blue Jackets franchise record for goals in a season. Atkinson has 38 goals with 10 team games remaining and the record for goals in a season is 41 by Rick Nash back in 2003-04. Atkinson doesn’t get a lot of recognition as a top goal scorer in the league.
- Bruins forward David Pastrnak is expected to be back this week after recovering from a broken thumb. He’s missed 5 weeks because of the injury. Pastrnak, 22, had recorded 31 goals in 56 Bruins games this season. Pastrnak will go back to his spot on the right side of the Bruins top line with Bergeron & Marchand.
- Vegas’ William Karlsson reached the 20 goal milestone on Monday against San Jose. There was some talk in the summer about his contract negotiation with the team as he recorded 43 goals last season and 6 the year before, in 81 games with Columbus. The team and player settled on a one year deal for $5.25 M /season so the player needs a new deal this summer.
- Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is just the 6th defenseman all-time to play a regular season game at age 42 or older. Will be interesting to see Chara in the post season but he does seem to be still a good defenseman; he’s averaging 21 minutes of ice time / game.
- Some fans believe Sidney Crosby should get more Hart trophy consideration. He’s recorded 92 points in 70 games played which ranks 4th overall in league scoring. Crosby has failed to register a point just 18 times this season and the Pens lost 15 of those games.
The Leafs are on their annual Western Canada road trip and won their first game Monday night in Calgary. A lot of people were expecting a close game between two good teams but the Leafs won easily 6-2. As a fan of both teams, it was a lot of fun to watch the game. There are a lot of Leafs fans here in Calgary and it will be the same on the teams next two stops, Wednesday night in Vancouver and Saturday night in Edmonton. Leafs forth line forward Tyler Ennis scored his first career hat trick against Calgary on Monday with his parents in the stands.
Here are some news & notes items from around the league.
- Ottawa Senators, the LeBreton Flats Project & finding an new Ottawa-based location for a new Senators arena
- LeBreton Flats is an area in downtown Ottawa that runs along the Ottawa river and it’s where the Senators had hoped to build a new arena. It’s a $4.1 B project. John Ruddy, an Ottawa property developer who owns Ottawa-based Trinity Development Group, and Sens owner Eugene Melnyk were partnering in the project but seems the plans have fallen apart. A mediator, Warren Winkler, tried unsuccessfully to resolve the difference between the two sides. Senators owner Melnyk indicated his organization is going to start to look at alternate Ottawa locations to build a new hockey arena. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he is aware of the recent developments and the league supports Melnyk’s efforts to find an alternate, Ottawa-based, location for a new Senators arena.
- Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Raleigh, North Carolina last week visiting with the Hurricanes organization. I believe it was just a stop in to check how things are going and talk to owner Tom Dundon. It was one year this past January that Dundon bought the Hurricanes. The team would like to host an outdoor game and the commissioner indicated the soonest the organization may be able to is the 2020-21 season.
- There is a NHL General Managers meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday, March 5 & 6, in Boca Raton, Florida. Some of the items that are supposedly on the agenda:
- Seattle update
- CBA talks update
- General brainstorming / discussing possible rule adjustments such as:
- In the standings, if teams have the same number of points, the current tie breaking rule is wins then OT wins breaks the tie. The GM’s are looking at making the tie breaker just regulation wins and tossing the OT wins from the equation.
- In games when a major penalty is about to be called, the GM’s are going to discuss the possibly of allowing the refs to look at video review to help them get the call right. I heard Monday this is likely not to go forward as the GM don’t want to slow the games down any further.
- When puck goes out of play in the offensive zone and does not go off an opposing player – crossbar as example – instead of the face-off coming outside the offensive zone, keep it in the offensive zone. This would lead to possibly more scoring chances.
- Coaches challenge – there is a penalty for failed offside challenge after a goal but no penalty for failed goaltender interference after a goal. Discussion around if they want to have a 2 minute penalty for failed goaltender interference challenge after a goal. The GM’s will review the stats around these two situations which currently show that 24% of the time, the coaches get a goalie interference called that nullifies a just scored goal. With offside, the data shows the coaches have been right 75% of the time when challenging for offside (of course teams have coaches in the press box with access to video review for this).
- Discussion around possibly having a one minute penalty in overtime instead of the 2 minutes.
- Safety Summit
- Representatives from Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, IHL, AHL & CHL are meeting in Boca Raton – but it’s not part of the GM meetings – to discuss how the game can be made safer for all. David Branch, president the Canadian Hockey League is one person known to be attending but I expect Tom Renney, CEO of Hockey Canada, would also be in attendance.
Coaching & GM’s
- Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson is representing the team at this weeks GM meetings. I heard he wants to talk to people about his vacant GM posting. Some of the names being mentioned as people the Oilers want to interview include:
- Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon
- Ducks AGM Dave Nonis
- Oilers acting GM Keith Gretzky
- Hockey Canada’s Sean Burke
- LA AGM Mike Futa
- OHL London Knights GM Mark Hunter
- With Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas GM George McPhee doesn’t want his AGM talking to other teams until Vegas’ season concludes. I am not sure whether the Oilers are willing to wait. McCrimmon is also reportedly at the top of the expansion Seattle franchise list of possible GM’s. Seattle is apparently looking to hire their first GM this summer which is two years before their first season.
- Reports out of Detroit indicate the Red Wings will extend the contract of head coach Jeff Blashill. Blashill is in the final year of a 4 year deal. Although the team has missed the post-season 3 straight seasons, including this one, GM Ken Holland reportedly likes the development of the Red Wings key young players, namely Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi. Holland said Blashill has relied on their young talent in key situations and the players have responded and grown each season under Blashill. Holland additionally has said Blashill has improved in each of his first 4 season’s as an NHL head coach. No deal has been signed between Blashill and the Wings but it’s expected to happen at season’s end. GM Ken Holland has just next season left on his contract. Experts link Tampa Bay Lightning former GM & now Special Assistant Steve Yzerman to the Red Wings but it’s just speculation.
- Jets head coach Paul Maurice has moved into 8th all-time in coaching wins with 685. Maurice is still young, 52, and has a chance to get to top 5 all-time in coaching wins if he continues to coach at the NHL level. He’s 95 wins from 5th place which is held by the late Al Arbour.
- Islanders head coach Barry Trotz is one win away from being just the 4th person to win 800 games as an NHL head coach. Only Bowman (1244 wins), Quenneville (890) and Hitchcock (842) have more wins than Trotz. Many people expect Trotz to win the Jack Adams award as Coach of the Year. It would be his second Jack Adams. The Islanders went from giving up the most goals last season to the fewest this season and the team has already surpassed their point total from all of last season (80 points) with 20% of the season remaining.
- In Ottawa, Marc Crawford takes over from fired Guy Boucher. Boucher had a 94-108-26 in 3 season’s and the team was one game from the Cup finals two seasons ago. Boucher was in the final season of this contract and apparently GM Dorion already made the decision to not bring him back next season. Crawford added former Sens player Chris Kelly to his coaching staff. Crawford had not been a head coach in the league since 2011 when he was head coach of the Dallas Stars but has 550 wins as an NHL head coach. Crow is 1-1 since replacing Boucher.
- Last season there were no coaches fired during the season (Alain Vigneault was fired after the final Rangers game of the season). This season, we’ve seen the following coaches fired:
- LA John Stevens
- Chicago Joel Quenneville
- St. Louis Mike Yeo
- Oilers Todd McLellan
- Flyers Dave Hakstol
- Ducks Randy Carlyle
- Sens Guy Boucher
Post Trade Deadline Scuttlebutt
- The Red Wings tried to get both defenseman Nick Jensen and forward Gustav Nyquist signed to new contracts but were unable to. Nyquist waived his no trade clause to go to San Jose and Jensen went to Washington where he signed a 4 year, $10 M deal. Jensen is suppose to be good on the PK and that is part of the reason Washington traded for him. The Caps are currently 24th in the league on the PK at 78.5%.
- Sabres forward Jeff Skinner did not move and was not expected to as he has a full no move clause in his contract. He is reportedly asking for $9 M / season on a long-term deal with the Sabres and wants to stay in Buffalo. He is a July 1, 2019 UFA. Skinner has 36 goals (5th most in the league) in 66 Sabres games played this season. Apparently, the Sabres don’t want to pay him the $9 M /season and are going wait to see what happens in the summer.
- Mark Stone, also a pending UFA, reportedly verbally agreed to a 8 year deal at $9.5 M /season but nothing official has been announced. There is no state tax in Nevada so it’s a desirable location for the players. The Senators reportedly offered Stone $10.5 M /season on a 5 year deal but Stone did not want to stay with Ottawa. Vegas is 4-0 since the Stone trade. Stone is playing on Vegas’ second line with Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny. The Panthers said they were close to getting Stone but Ottawa preferred the Vegas deal more.
- Former Wild forward Mikael Granlund went to Nashville for Kevin Fiala. New Wild GM Paul Fenton knows Fiala well from being the AGM with Nashville where Fiala was drafted 11th overall in 2014. Fenton says Fiala has high end skill (he has 32 points on 10 goals in 67 games this season and is 22 years old). Mikael Granlund’s girlfriend went into labour on the day of the trade and the Preds gave him a few extra days to travel to Nashville. The Preds have the 31st ranked PP in the league and the team is hoping Granlund can spark both the PP and the team’s second line (Granlund-Turris-Jarnkrok). Granlund (49 points in 64 games) has one more year on his deal before he’s unrestricted.
- The Flames were interesting in acquiring Jason Zucker from the Wild but apparently the deal fell through at the last minute. The return for the Wild was suppose to be a high draft pick and forward Michael Frolik. Flames GM Brad Treliving also inquired about Canucks defenseman Alex Edler but Edler was not willing to waive his no trade clause. The Flames were also in on Wayne Simmonds but Simmonds did not want to play in Calgary.
- Dallas tried to add scoring help and traded for Mats Zuccerello but Zucc suffered a broken arm blocking a shot in his first Stars game. He required surgery and will be out 4-6 weeks. There is only 6 weeks left in the regular season. The Stars are holding onto the final wild card position in the West.
- Carolina looked at moving pending UFA Micheal Ferland but ending up keeping him. I heard Toronto was interested in acquiring him. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell indicated Ferland is a big part of their team and well liked by the players. Waddell says they’ll re-visit trying to sign him to a contract in the summer.
- Canucks traded forward prospect Jonathan Dahlen to the Sharks for Linus Karlsson. Many people were surprised the Canucks gave up on Dahlen. He was, at one time, a highly rated prospect of the organization and was drafted in the second round in 2014. The Canucks say he asked to be traded and the player denies that but says he wasn’t happy with his progression with the AHL affiliate of the Canucks. GM Jim Benning said Dahlen wasn’t willing to work harder to get more opportunities. In the AHL this season, Dahlen had recorded 29 points in 50 games on 14 goals. Linus Karlsson is a Sweden-born center that in 50 games has recorded 17 points on 4 goals. He was drafted by the Sharks in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft. Karlsson just turned 19 years old.
- Leafs Connor Brown was linked to the Oilers. Brown has 22 points in 65 games on 5 goals. He plays 14 mins / game. He really skates well but seems to struggle to putting up points.
- San Jose got a very good player in forward Gustav Nyquist who is having a career season. Nyquist has 49 points on 16 goals this season and on pace for a career nigh 63 point season. He is a UFA this summer. The Sharks gave up a second round draft pick in 2019 and a conditional 3rd round draft pick (the pick turns into a second round draft pick if Nyquist re-signs in San Jose or the Sharks advance to the Cup final) in 2020 for the player. Nyquist knows fellow Swede Erik Karlsson well. The Sharks have an excellent team and there only apparent weakness is in goal where Martin Jones and back-up Aaron Dell both have a SV% below .900. The Sharks are one of the top teams at home with a terrific 21-5-5 record; they’ve lost just 2 home games since November 15th. Only Tampa (27), Boston (24) and Winnipeg (22) have more home wins this season.
- Columbus apparently never got close to trading either of Sergei Bobrovsky or Artemi Panarin and added Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and defenseman Adam McQuaid. The Blue Jackets, though, have lost 3 of 4 games since the trade deadline. McQuaid was a healthy scratch in one of the games for Columbus.
- The Jets got a quality center in Kevin Hayes and he’ll be the team’s second line center. Bryan Little was the team’s second line center but he’ll move to the wing.
- Recently traded Ottawa players Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel had accounted for 41% of Ottawa’s goals this season.
- Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold sent a video message to season ticket holders assuring them that the team is not in a rebuild and called it more of a “re-tool”. Leipold indicated the organization has cap space and will be active in free agency this summer.
- Islanders owner Jon Ledecky said recently the opening of the Islanders new arena in the Belmont Park area of Long Island is still on track for the start of the 2021-22 season. The development not only includes a new arena but hotel and entertainment facilities. The Oak View Group plus NYC-based Sterling Equities are partnering in the new development.
- The Canucks have their longest home stand of the season starting March 20th when they play 7 straight home games. The team has fallen out of the playoff race though as they are 8 points back of a playoff spot.
Hart Trophy Race
- Seem the race for the Hart trophy for most valuable to his team is between Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov and Hawks Patrick Kane.
- First player in Tampa Bay Lightning history to record multiple 100 point seasons and the first player since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1996 to reach 100 points before March 1.
- Set a new Lightning record with 70 assists in a season
- Set a new career high in points & assists. Has 106 points with 75 assists in 66 games this season. Previous career high in points was 100 (last season) and previous career high in assists was 61 (also last season).
- About to set a Lightning franchise record for points in a season. Vincent Lecavalier recorded 108 points back in the 2006-07 season. Kucherov is at 106 points with 16 Lightning games remaining.
- Patrick Kane
- Kane has reached 40 goals for the second time in his career.
- Has 40 goals and 94 points in 65 games this season and on pace for a career high in goals (50) and assists (67) & points 117.
- Had a 20 game point streak.
- Seems Kucherov is the odds on favorite to win his first Hart. Kane won his first Hart back in 2016. He was the first American born player to win the Hart.
- Arizona has won 6 straight games for the first time since the 2011-12 season and sit 2 points from a Western Conference wildcard spot. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is 12-3-3 since the start of the year with a .925 SV% and a 2.29 GAA. The Coyotes have a 6 year playoff drought. Experts say head coach Rick Tocchet should be in the Coach of the Year award discussion.
- The Bruins went the entire month of February (13 games) without a regulation loss (11-0-2) and are 12-0-4 in their past 16 games. I don’t hear head coach Bruce Cassidy get much Coach of the Year talk.
- Tampa Bay went 12-1-2 in the month of February and had a franchise record 10 game win streak. Tampa reached the 100 point mark in 63 games. It’s one of the quickest to 100 points in league history.
- Montreal in 1976-77 needed just 62 games to reach 100 points
- Montreal in 1977-78, 62 games to 100 points
- Boston in 1971-72, 63 games
- Lightning 2018-19, 63 games
- Combined, the Lightning, Bruins and Blues went 35-2-4 in the month of February. Incredible.
- Carolina went 10-3 in the month of February and are 21-6-1 since December 30, 2018. It’s the most wins and points in the month of February in franchise history. The Hurricanes are currently in a playoff position and looking to break a 9 year playoff drought.
- The Leafs have won 5 of their past 6 games and in the 5 wins they scored at least 5 goals in each game. Marner has 12 points in his past 6 games and three 3 point games in his past 4 games. Zach Hyman has set in new career high in goals with 16 and missed 10 games with injury.
- Marner became the first Leafs player since Phil Kessel in the 2013-14 season to reach 80 points. Kessel reached 80 points in 82 games and Marner this season has reached it in 66 games. Marner set another record recently as well, most points by a Leafs aged 21 or younger. Daniel Marios recorded 76 points in the 1989-90 season and Mitch is already at 81 points.
- Frederik Andersen recently played in his 300th career game (175 with the Leafs). Turk Broda leads the Leafs franchise in goaltender games played with 629 (he recorded 302 wins). Andersen recently reached the 30 win mark which ties him with Turk Broda, Johnny Bower and Curtis Joseph for most 30 wins seasons in Leafs history. Andersen also became the fastest goalie to record 100 wins with the team (in 177 games). There are 8 goalies in franchise history with 100 career wins with the Leafs.
- Defenseman Morgan Rielly has reached the 60 point mark for this first time in his career. His previous career high in points was 52 which he recorded last season. He’s on pace for 78 points.
- Seems the team wanted to get bigger at the trade deadline and were inquiring on Micheal Ferland but nothing worked out. Coach Babcock said if he could, he’d have a Zach Hyman on every line but there aren’t enough of those type of players around.
- Jake Gardiner is out week to week with ongoing back problems. Head coach Mike Babcock said the other day it does not look like surgery will be necessary, if he back heals as they expect it will. Gardiner averages 21 minutes of ice time per game this season.
- Nazem Kadri joined the team for their morning skate in Calgary after skating on his own for about a week. He is trying to recover from a concussion he suffered on February 19th in St. Louis. He’s missed 7 games with the injury.
- The team has not fared well against John Tavares former team, the Islanders. The Leafs have lost both games by a combined score of 10-1. Both games were the Leafs second game in as many nights but I would of hoped they’d be better since many fans have been so hostile to Tavares. The teams play one more regular season game, on April 1 at Nassau Coliseum.
- The team has the 8th highest ranked PP at 22.4%. The Lightning lead the league with an amazing 29.3% PP,
- The team is 32-0 when leading after 2 periods. They are the only team undefeated when leading after 2 periods.
- Tavares is one goal from tying his career high in goals (38).
- Patrick Marleau now ranks 7th all-time in games played (1642 games).
- Auston Matthews became the first player in franchise history to start his career with 3 straight 30 goal seasons.
- Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are the only two Leafs players ever to start their Leafs careers with 3 straight 60 point seasons.
- With the Par Lindholm for Nic Petan deal, GM Dubas said it was they wanted to get Trevor Moore into more games and Lindholm was a pending UFA. Lindholm recorded 1 goal and 12 points in 61 games for the Leafs. Petan is a RFA this summer. In 13 Jets games this season, Petan recorded 2 assists. He’s a former second round draft selection of the Jets and had been mostly playing with the Jets AHL team. Petan’s agent spoke out and said the Jets didn’t give his client a chance at the NHL level. Dubas indicated the Leafs can use Petan on the wing or at center. Coach Babcock speaks glowing of Moore saying he’s very tenacious and doesn’t turn the puck over.
- With Travis Dermott out 4 weeks with a shoulder injury. Justin Holl or Igor Ozhiganov slots in on the 3rd pairing with Martin Marincin. Holl had not seen much NHL action since late December. Marlies top defenseman Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman are apparently also currently injured.
- It was reported last week that the team made a push to sign forward Andreas Johnsson (59 GP, 19 G, 17 A) but the player wants to wait until the end of the season. This is the same stance as Kasperi Kapanen (19 G, 23 A)- they want to wait until the summer to discuss new deals. The Leafs may not be able to keep all their quality forwards due to the salary cap. Some experts say the Leafs will get inquiries on both players as they’ve been very good this season and other teams know the Leafs may not be able to fit all their player salaries under the cap. The cap goes from $79.5 M to approximately $83 M in 2019-20.
Streaks & Milestones
- Panthers forward Mike Hoffman recently played in his 400th career game and has set a new career high in goals this season already with 30 goals. Hoffman is having his most offensively productive season in his first year with the Panthers (30 G & 57 points) and is on pace for a career high in goals, points and assists. Hoffman has one more season left on his contract at $5.2 M/season.
- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is is one pace for career highs in points. He has 65 points in 63 Panthers games this season.
- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle has played 778 consecutive games. Yandle’s consecutive games streak started in March of 2009. It’s the 5th longest iron man streak in league history. Doug Jarvis holds the record at 964 consecutive games.
- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo has moved into 3rd all-time in wins with 485. The top four goaltender in wins all-time are:
- Martin Brodeur 691
- Patrick Roy 551
- Luongo 485
- Ed Belfour 484
- Islanders forward Casey Cizikas is on pace for a career high 23 goals. This career high before this season was 9.
- Sabres captain Jack Eichel has recorded at least 20 goals in all four of his seasons with the Sabres.
- Avs forward Gabe Landeskog (173 G, 227 A) is the second player from the 2011 draft class to reach 400 career points. Nikita Kucherov (176 G, 257 A) is the other.
- LA Kings forward Trevor Lewis recently played in career game number 600.
- Blue Jackets star defenseman Seth Jones scored his 7th career OT goal which set a new franchise record for OT goals (Rick Nash had 6).
- Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is one of only 3 players that were not drafted and started their career with three 70 point seasons. The others Gretzky and Peter Stastny.
- Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner recently played in his 400th career game.
- Lightning forward Tyler Johnson recent recorded his 300th career point.
- Bruins forward Brad Marchand has tied a Bruins franchise record with 25 career shorthanded goals.
- Canadiens goaltender Carey Price needs just 1 more wins to tie Jacques Plante for most wins by a Canadiens goaltender. Price has 313 wins. Plante was a Canadiens star in the 1950’s so Price setting the wins record is fairly significant.
- Flyer captain Claude Giroux recently played in his 800th career game. Only Bobby Clarke (1144) and Bill Barber (903) have played more games with the Flyers organization. Seems the plan to have Giroux retire a Flyer.
- Avalanche star forward Nathan MacKinnon reached the 30 goal mark for the second straight season. He’s the first to do that since GM Joe Sakic recorded three straight 30 goal seasons from 2003-2007.
- Caps forward Alex Ovechkin needs 3 OT goals to tie former player Patrik Elias for most OT goals in league history. Ovi has scored 34 OT goals.
- Sabres 18 year old defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is one point from tying Bobby Orr for second most points for an 18 year old defenseman all-time. Orr had 38 points. The leader is Dahlin’s head coach Phil Housley with 57 points as an 18 year old defenseman.
- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 14-0-3 in his past 17 decisions.
- Sidney Crosby has 21 points in his past 10 games and people say he’s carrying the Penguins right now.
- Forward Jake Guenztal has recorded 30 goals for the first time in his career.
- Evgeni Malkin is 5 points from 1,000 career points. Gino has played 842 games (.85 PPG). Malkin won the Hart trophy once, Art Ross twice (most points in regular season), a Calder for rookie of the year and has won 3 Cups. Seems he has a good chance to make the Hockey Hall of Fame when his career concludes.
- Penguins forward Matt Cullen will play his 1500th career game Tuesday against the Panthers. Cullen is the oldest active player in the league at the age of 42. He’ll be the 20th player all-time to play 1500 games.
- Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has 17 goals in his past 18 games and is second in the league with 41 goals. The Oilers have won 5 of their past 7 games and are 6 point back of a wild card spot.
- Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi had hip surgery on both hips Monday in New York and won’t be ready to play until next season. Puljujarvi had 9 points in 46 games with Edmonton before the injury. The player went 4th overall in 2016 and has struggled to make it at the NHL level. Puljujarvi is also in the final year of his entry level contract and needs a new deal this summer.
- Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will be out of action again, for at least 7-10 days. It’s the same groin problem that caused him to miss 2 weeks earlier in February.
- New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall had arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee and it’s undetermined, but seems doubtful, he will play again this season. Hall has already missed 31 games this season; he hasn’t played in a game since December 23rd, 2018.
- Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford recorded his first win since December 16, 2018 last week. Crawford has been out of action with a concussion.
- Bruins GM Don Sweeney indicated forward David Pastrnak will be in a cast for 2 more weeks for the broken thumb he suffered.
- Avs defenseman Ian Cole just got back into game action. He’d been on the sidelines with a broken orbital bone that occurred in a fight. Cole required surgery on his eye & his vision is still recovering.
- Vegas forward Erik Haula has started skating but there is no time frame on his return. He was injured November 6, 2018 in Toronto and hasn’t played since. There is a chance Haula won’t be able to play again this season. Haula, 27, had 29 goals and 55 points last season for the Golden Knights.
- Arizona extended defenseman Jordan Oesterle for two more years at $1.4 M /season. Oesterle was a pending UFA. The ‘Yotes also signed forward Conor Garland to a two year deal.
- Year One: $750,000
- Year Two: $800,000
- Minnesota Wild signed pending UFA Eric Staal to a 2 year extension, for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season. Staal cap hit in year one and year two is $3.25 M. Staal, 34, has had a terrific career. In 1156 GP, he’s recorded 413 G & 552 A for an an average of .83 PPG.
- The Ducks reached an agreement with pending UFA forward Jakob Silfverberg. It’s a 5 year deal with an average annual value $5.25 M /season. Silfverberg, 28, would of been a UFA this summer.
- The Panthers signed forward Frank Vatrano to a 3 year, $7.6 M deal ($2.53 M /season) effective the start of next season. In 62 games this season, Vatrano has recorded 20 goals and 33 points.
- Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly was placed on waivers last week and cleared. He has since been sent to the AHL.
- Ducks placed forward Patrick Eaves on waivers and he was not claimed. He was then sent to the Ducks AHL team, the San Diego Gulls. Eaves has dealt with injuries the past 1.5 years including missing almost all of last season with some sort of virus.
Odds & Ends
- Lightning third year player Brayden Point was a healthy scratch recently. Head coach Jon Cooper indicated Point missed a team meeting and was held out for discipline reasons. Some people speculate that Point, 22, could get an offer sheet from another team. He’s on pace for 100 points and 45 goals in the final year of his entry level contract. Point also leads the league in PP goals with 18.
- Canucks Elias Pettersson ranks first in the league in shooting percentage at 23%.
- Sharks Czech forward Tomas Hertl has set new career in goals, assists and points and is on pace for 37 goals and 73 points. His previous highs were 22 goals and 46 points. Hertl has speed, size and strength and just, at age 25, coming into his own.
- Hurricanes forward Nino Neiderreiter has 15 points (9 G, 6 A) since the trade from Minnesota on January 17th (Victor Rask went to the Wild). Rask has recorded 1 G and 1 A for the Wild in 10 games.
- Chicago seems to have found a quality defenseman in Swede Erik Gustafsson. He leads the team in defenseman scoring with 47 points in 62 games on 12 goals while averaging 22 minutes of ice time per game. Gustafsson is just 3 goals behind league-leader Leafs Morgan Rielly for defenseman goals scored. The 26 year old had, prior to this season, be back and forth between the Hawks and their AHL team in Rockford.
- Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom is having an excellent season. Since December 6, 2018, in 29 appearances Markstrom has a goals against average of 2.29 and a SV% of .926.
- Lightning back-up goaltender Louis Domingue has recorded 19 wins and 5 losses this season with a 2.92 GAA and a .908 SV%. He had a franchise record 11 game winning streak that was stopped this past Thursday.
- Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury recently reached the 30 win milestone again. Most 30 win seasons all-time:
- Martin Brodeur 14
- Patrick Roy 13
- Henrik Lundqvist 11
- Marc-Andre Fleury 9
- Ed Belfour 9
- Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov is a UFA this summer but he recently said he wants to re-sign in Colorado. The 30 year old has recorded a 18 W 16 L recorded with a .911 SV% and a 2.83 GAA.
- Hurricanes 21 year old center Sebastian Aho is only the second player in franchise history to record a 70 point season before his 22nd birthday (Eric Staal the other). Aho is the Hurricanes franchise cornerstone player. His entry level contract expires this summer.
- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said the other day there is a feeling among the Lightning players that it’s their year.
There is a lot going on around the league especially with the Monday, February 25th (3 PM EST) trade deadline just 7 days away.
- The NY Islanders announced their first round post-season games will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and subsequent rounds will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The team played their final regular season game in Brooklyn on Saturday (they are 12-6-2 there this season) against the Oilers and play their remaining 12 regular season games on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum. The team is 6-1-2 at Nassau Coliseum this season.
- The new Seattle franchise has hired Todd Humphrey as Senior Vice President of Digital & Fan Experience. Article here. Seems Humphrey has a really strong tech-related background.
GM & Coaching News
- Ducks GM Bob Murray took over from Randy Carlyle as the team’s head coach. Murray will coach the rest of this season and name a permanent head coach in the summer. Dallas Eakins, the head coach of the Ducks AHL affiliate the San Diego Gulls, is the front runner for Ducks job. The Gulls are in a playoff battle and it seems as though Murray preferred to keep Eakins involved in San Diego instead of promoting him now. Murray has coached the past 3 Ducks games and has a 2-1 record.
- Minnesota Wild AGM Tom Kurvers is unwell, he was recently diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. Kurvers, 56, is in his first season as GM Paul Fenton’s assistant. He had been with the Tampa Bay Lightning front office for 10 seasons before joining the Wild. Kurvers is from Minnesota and played college hockey at University of Minnesota where he won a Hobey Baker award as the top player in college hockey.
- Hall of Fame forward Mike Modano has been seen with the Wild management people at games recently fueling speculation he will be taking a front office job with the organization. Modano currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and 4 young children but it was reported on the weekend Modano would re-locate to Minnesota to assume a role such as President of Hockey Operations. Nothing official has been announced by the team.
- Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau recently coached his 900th career game. Boudreau is the 9th active coach to reach the milestone and the 35th all-time. The other day in a radio interview, Boudreau guaranteed that the Wild will make the post-season. They are currently in a wildcard spot (by one point with 3 teams within a point of them) and I believe it could go down to the final few regular season games to determine who makes the post-season. Some people wonder about Boudreau’s future since he wasn’t hired by Fenton and the roster is going to be revamped as soon as this summer.
- San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer coached his 800th career game on Sunday night against Boston. DeBoer has a 389-303-108 record in his coaching career. He’s is 9th among active coaches in games coached. San Jose has won 7 of their past 9 games and star defenseman, Erik Karlsson, has missed the past 3 weeks with a groin injury. He back playing now but the team gave him all the time he needed to heal since the team is playing so well right now. The Sharks and Flames are in a battle for top spot in the Western Conference. As of Monday night, the Flames have a one point lead on the Sharks.
- The Sabres are 6 points from an Eastern Conference wild card spot. If the Sabres miss the post season, it will be 8 straight seasons of no playoffs in Buffalo.
Trade Deadline Scuttlebutt
- There are a lot of names being mentioned as possibly being moved at Monday’s trade deadline.
- In Minnesota, new GM Paul Fenton has been given the green light from ownership to start to re-tool their roster and get younger. The Wild are the oldest team in the league. Part of the reason Fenton was hired in the summer, and Chuck Fletcher let go, is the Wild could not get past the first round of the post-season and ownership wants a championship caliber team. Forward Mikael Granlund (14 G & 34 A) is supposedly available. Granlund is a summertime UFA and making $1.475 M this season. He’d be a good addition for any post-season bound team as he’s on a good contract and puts up points. The team acquiring him would be paying a pro-rated salary, 30 games left at $1.475 M. Forward Eric Staal, 34, is a pending UFA but has a 10 team no trade list in his contract. Staal reportedly wants to stay with the Wild but I believe he’ll be traded. Forwards Charlie Coyle is available as well as Jason Zucker and defenseman Jonas Brodin.
- Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds is expected to be traded. In 57 games played this season, Simmonds has recorded 16 goals and 9 assists plus 69 penalty minutes. He has speed and strength but has slowed down some as he’s had a number of injuries the past few seasons. I’ve heard Simmonds name linked to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall is a unrestricted free agent in the summer but he is not expected to be traded. Kronwall has played in 930 career games, all with the Red Wings organization, and the team values his ability to be a role model and mentor particularly to the team’s young defenseman. Kronwall was unsure prior to the start of the 2018-19 season if this would be his final season but he’s had a good campaign and indications are that he’ll be back in 2019-20.
- Wings forward Gustav Nyquist (15 G, 33 A for 48 points) is a pending UFA but has a no trade clause in his contract. It’s unclear if he is willing to waive it.
- The agent for Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has started negotiations with the team on a new contract. Skinner is a UFA at season’s end and it appears as though he wants to re-sign with the Sabres. He’s 3rd in the league in goals with 36 in 58 games and has good chemistry with the Sabres young star, Jack Eichel. Skinner has a full no trade clause in his contract and reports indicate he won’t be moved at the trade deadline.
- Experts suggest it’s likely Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is traded. Panarin just last week dropped his long time Russia-based agent Dan Milstein (who represents Kucherov, Nikita Zaitsev & others) and has signed up with Sergei Bobrovsky’s agent, Paul Theofanous (who is based in NYC). Some people are linking both Bobrovsky and Panarin to the Florida Panthers but this would be for the start of next season since Florida won’t make the playoffs. Panthers have used James Reimer and Roberto Luongo this season but Luongo is 39 years old now so Florida is definitely in the market for a starting goaltender. I’ve heard Bobrovsky wants a Carey Price type contract, i.e. $10 M a season on a long-term deal. The Jackets are not interested in re-signing him at that price. He could stay with the Jackets for the post-season since he has a full no-move clause but will be on a different team next season. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalianen has apparently asked team to pitch offers for Panarin and the Blue Jackets will take the top return for the player. I’ve heard they prefer players with possible term on their contract that can help them now and in the upcoming post-season. There is pressure in Columbus to win since the team has never won a playoff series despite having good teams. The Dallas Stars are one team that I’ve heard have definite in Panarin as they need scoring help. The Stars have scored the 3rd least number of goals this season.
- The Senators are reportedly looking to trade forward Matt Duchene (27 G & 29 A) with a number of teams interested (Nashville, Columbus, Winnipeg & NY Islanders) but the team wants to get forward Mark Stone re-signed. Both Stone and Duchene are summer time UFA’s. Stone reportedly wants a bonus-laden contract, similar to how Auston Matthews got most of his money in July 1 signing bonuses and the team is trying to accommodate him. Senators GM Pierre Dorian has been attending Winnipeg Jets games recently as the Jets are interested in acquiring one of Stone or Duchene. Duchene has the $8 M /season * 8 year deal on the table which to me seems like a generous offer. Duchene is putting up points very consistently this season, he has 44 points in his past 35 games (23 G, 21 A). Senators owner Eugene Melynk has indicated the Senators plan to spend to the cap starting in the 2021 season but there is pressure on Dorian now to get good return for these UFA players.
- Mark Stone has also been linked to Calgary (and strongly to Winnipeg) but I doubt a deal will be done with the Flames. GM Brad Treliving has said because the team has had such a strong season, they are currently first in the Western Conference, they don’t want to change up their team chemistry too much. The one need they are reportedly trying to address is experience on their blueline. They have 4 defenseman that are age 22 or younger and are looking to add some post-season experience to the back-end. I’ve not heard names of who the team may be looking to acquire.
- Another Senators forward that is a pending UFA is forward Ryan Dzingel. He has recorded 43 points in 56 Senators games this season on 22 goals. Reports indicate the Senators are not going to let Stone, Duchene and Dzingel all get away.
- The Jets reportedly want a top six winger. Some people wondered if they’d go after a number 2 center; Bryan Little is in that spot currently but the talk is that they are comfortable with Little at the #2 C (Paul Stastny was brought in last season) but want more scoring on the wings.
- Canadiens forward Charles Hudon (31 GP 3 G, 2 A) wants a trade from Montreal and the team is trying to move him. GM Marc Bergevin is reportedly asking for a mid-round pick for Hudon. The player had 30 points last season on 10 goals but has struggled this season.
- Rangers forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are both expected to be traded by the deadline. Hayes (42 points in 49 games) has been clear that his preference is to remain a NY Ranger but he’s a pending UFA. Some suggest he’ll be traded and could possibly re-sign with the Rangers on July 1, 2019. Another NY Ranger that is a pending UFA is defenseman Adam McQuaid. He is expected to also be traded. I’ve heard the Leafs linked to McQuaid. The player is 6’4 and 210 pounds and before this season had been with the Bruins for 8 seasons. He’s been paired with the offensively talented Brady Skjei this season with the Rangers and is playing about 17 minutes/game. He has 4 points on the season. McQuaid, 32, is making $2.75 M on the final year of his deal.
- The Boston Bruins are another team looking for scoring help. Their leading goal scorer David Pastrnak broke his thumb the other day and is out a minimum of 2-3 weeks. GM Don Sweeney indicated Pastrnak did require surgery on the thumb. The Bruins tried to land Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer so there maybe some interest as LA has made him available.
- Devils forward Marcus Johansson is expected to be moved at the trade deadline (another pending UFA). Johansson has 11 points in his past 10 games and 20 in his past 28 games.
- The NY Islanders entire top line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle are all UFA’s. GM Lou Lamoriello has not indicated which way he’s leaning with the players but the Islanders will be in the post-season. Some contract talks have occurred between the team and captain Anders Lee but none with Nelson or Eberle. Goaltender Robin Lehner (18-9-4 with a 2.08 GAA and a .929 SV%) is also a UFA. Lamoriello is noted for not discussing a lot about possible moves with his teams.
- Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is hoping to add a goal scorer by the trade deadline. Nill indicates he’s willing to trade for a pending UFA as the team needs depth scoring. Nill indicated there are a bunch of teams looking for the same thing – players that can score and put up points – but the trade market is still not really set and won’t be until 2-3 days before the Monday deadline.
- Vegas is another team looking to add. They are reportedly also looking for scoring help and possibilities include Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, etc. Their top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith combined for 213 points last season while this season they are on pace for 152 so there has been a drop off. The team felt their lack of post-season scoring, particularly in the Cup final, cost them last season so they don’t want a repeat of that. The team has taken part in just two entry drafts so there has not been a lot of time to add skill to the roster but their hockey management group wants to expedite the process of adding skill via the trade route.
- Colorado also wants to add scoring but not they are not willing to part with any of their 5 picks in the first 3 rounds – including Ottawa’s first rounder which could be a first or second overall selection.
- The Oilers traded Ryan Spooner to Vancouver for Sam Gagner. Gagner really wanted to get back in the league after being loaned by the Canucks to the AHL Toronto Marlies. Gagner has next year left on his contract at $3.15 M and Spooner also has next season left at $4 M but the Rangers are paying $900 K of Spooner’s salary. Spooner was practicing on a Canucks line with Boeser and Elias Pettersson and slotted onto the Canucks second PP unit in Sunday’s practice which is a big step up from being in the AHL which is where he was before the recent trade.
- Florida will probably move newly acquired forward Derick Brassard as he’s a pending UFA. I heard he could end up back in Columbus where he started his career.
- The Blues has suddenly won 10 straight games and are 3rd in the Central. Experts who’ve watched them say it’s not a fluke and the team has finally found their game. Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington now has a 12-1-1 record and has won 8 straight starts while recording 4 shutouts since Jan. 7th. Binnington, a Blues 3rd round 2011 draft pick on the team, had been playing in the AHL until his recall on December 9, 2018. He’s on a two way contract making the league minimum of $650,000 this season. Forward Vlad Tarasenko is on a 12 game point streak where he’s recorded 11 goals and 22 points. The team has shutout their opponent in 3 straight games. Since Craig Berube took over as interim head coach on November 19, 2018, the Blues are 24-13-2. Seems probable that Berube will have the “interim” tag removed from his title for next season.
- Chicago are 9-1-0 in their past 10 games and are tied with the Canucks and Colorado one point back of the final wildcard spot in the West.
- Tampa leads the league in points by 15 and are on pace for a 128 point season. They’ve won 45 of their first 60 games this season. That ties a record for the most wins through a teams first 60 games in NHL history. They are 8-0-2 in their past 10 games. Leading Hart trophy candidate Nikita Kucherov is on fire with 18 points in his past 5 games. He’s set a new Lightning assist record with 70 assists so far on the season. Kucherov has an incredible 9 point lead on 2nd place Patrick Kane and a 16 point lead over 3rd place, Connor McDavid, for the scoring title. Myself I don’t see any team being able to beat the Lightning this season. They’ve been dominate since the season started.
- The Flyers and Penguins are playing an outdoor game this Saturday (February 23 at 8 PM). It’s called the “2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field”. Lincoln field is the home of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles.
Streaks & Milestones
- ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane has an active 17 game point streak going. It’s the 3rd longest point streak in NHL history (Gretzky 23 games and Adam Oates 18 games) and longest in Blackhawks team history. Stan Mikita had held the record with a point in 15 straight games back in 1967. In the 17 games, Kane has recorded 40 points (14 G & 26 A). Panthers Mike Hoffman also had a 17 games point streak this season. Kane has 90 points this season which places him 2nd in the league in points. He’s on pace for 123 points.
- Montreal captain Shea Weber played in his 900th career game last Thursday against Nashville. Weber has recorded 198 goals and 324 assists for 522 points in the 900 games. The Habs captain is known league-wide for his physically intimidating style and strong leadership skills.
- Vegas veteran defenseman Deryk Engelland recently played in his 600th NHL game.
- Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard recently played in his 500th career game. Howard, 34, is an off-season UFA. I’ve not heard if he’ll be moved by the trade deadline.
- Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler became leader in both games played (595) & assists (205) for a Ducks defenseman on Sunday in a game against Washington. Fowler, 27, is just 3 points away from tying Scott Niedermayer as the leader in Ducks franchise points for a defenseman (264 points). Forward Ryan Getzlaf also reached a Ducks franchise milestone when he played in his 968th game. It’s the most games played with the Ducks in franchise history.
- The Ducks retired Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer’s #27 before Sunday’s game against Washington. The Ducks also retired Paul Kariya’s #9 earlier this season. The organization is celebrating their 25th season in the league.
- ‘Hawks forward Chris Kunitz played in his 1,000 game this week. Kunitz has the most Stanley Cups of any active player with 4.
- Hurricanes Teuvo Teravainen recently recorded his 200th career point (after 335 games, .60 PPG)
- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 12-0-2 with 2 shutouts in his past 15 starts. Rask has not lost in regulation since December 23rd.
- Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin recently played in his 300th career game. Dumoulin plays 21 mins/game on the Penguins blueline and is in the top 2 in the league in plus/minus. He’s a strong defensive-minded d partner for Kris Letang.
- Letang recently became the franchise all-time leader in goals scored with 109. He surpassed Paul Coffey who had 108 goals in 331 Penguins games. Letang reached the 109 goal mark after 736 Penguins games. Letang is now the Penguins franchise leader in defenseman games played, goals, assists and points – in both the regular season and playoffs.
- Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson recently played in his 500th career game. A 2008 draft pick by the organization, Atkinson has played his entire career with the Blue Jackets.
- Sharks Joe Thornton recently moved into 9th place all-time in assists with 1,050 career assists. Thornton surpassed Gordie Howe who is 10th in all-time assists with 1,049. Joe is currently 15th all-time in points with 1458 points.
- Sharks captain Joe Pavelski recently recorded his 30th goal and 400th career assist. Only Joe Thornton (764) and Patrick Marleau (574) have more assists with the Sharks organization. Pavelski has now recorded 5 career 30 goal seasons. He is a pending UFA. I hope the Sharks can re-sign him as he’s their captain and has been an excellent player for their organization.
- Capitals forward TJ Oshie recently recorded his 500th career point (205 goals and 295 assists).
- Predators forward Filip Forsberg became the first player in Predators franchise history to record five 20 goal seasons.
- Flyers franchise cornerstone, 20 year old goaltender Carter Hart, is 10-1-0 in his last 11 appearances. Hart is scheduled to play Tuesday night against the Lightning who are the top offensive team in the league.
- Phil Kessel recently recorded his 800th career point. He’s a .82 PPG player in over 900 career games.
- Flames defenseman Mark Giordano has set a new career high in points with 57. Gio is tied with Leafs Morgan Rielly for 2nd the league in defenseman points. Sharks Brent Burns leads all defenseman with 65 points.
- Capitals defenseman John Carlson reached the 300 career assists milestone. He’s the 3rd Capitals defenseman to reach the 300 assist mark. Calle Johnsson 361 assists & Scott Stevens 331 assists are the others.
- Sabres eighteen year old rookie – and first overall draft pick in 2018 – Rasmus Dahlin has recorded 32 points in 58 games on 20 mins of ice / game. Only Phil Housley (57 points) and Bobby Orr (38 points) have recorded more points (in league history) as an 18 year old defenseman.
- LA Kings forward Dustin Brown recorded his 600th career point on Monday night against the Capitals. Brown, 34, has played in 1094 career games.
- The Leafs wrap up their 6 game road trip on Tuesday against the hottest team in the league, the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have won 10 straight games. Coach Babcock said he’s liked the way his team has played on the trip (3 W & 2 L so far) with the exception of the game against the Coyotes. It was the teams 5th game in 8 nights in 3 different time zones on the road but the players did not want to blame fatigue as the reason for the loss. Defenseman Morgan Rielly noticed the Coyotes clogged the neutral zone and the Leafs got a bit frustrated. I’d bet the team wants to finish the trip strong with a win in St. Louis on Tuesday night. It should be a good match-up.
- Mitch Marner is one point (69) from a new career high in points with 30% of the regular season remaining. He has already this season surpassed his career high (48) in assists. Marner is also one point shy of 200 career points (217 games). I recently heard his agent interviewed and he indicated they are sticking to their plan to wait until the off-season to discuss a new contract. The agent stepped back from his prior comments where he said Mitch is being “low balled” by the Leafs. The agent says his comments were taken out of context.
- Babcock broke up the Muzzin/Rielly pairing as it was not a good fit particularly for Rielly. He is apparently a better player on the left side. Babcock didn’t like the way the Muzzin/Rielly pairing were breaking out of the d zone plus the coach said Rielly is able to get more offence going and shots through from his natural left side. Rielly also added he’s more comfortable on the left side. Veteran Ron Hainsey has moved back to the top pairing with Rielly. Morgan is on pace to be the first Leafs defenseman to average a point a game since Borje Salming back in 1976-77. A lot of people would like to see the 24 year old win his first Norris as league’s top defenseman. I think it would be awesome from the point of view of the player was a first round draft pick of their organization (5th overall in 2012) and has blossomed into one of the league’s top players as a member of the Leafs organization.
- Defenseman Jake Gardiner spent the Monday off day in St. Louis visiting with former teammate Tyler Bozak. No word on where GM Dubas is at with discussing a possible extension for Gardiner in Toronto. It does seem more likely that Gardiner will be with a new team next season. Some believe Travis Dermott’s steady play makes Gardiner more expendable. Gardiner wants to remain a Leaf but as summer time UFA he should get very good offers from other teams plus the Leafs are in a bit of a cap crunch.
- It was reported last week that GM Kyle Dubas and the agent for forward Kasperi Kapanen will meet very soon to discuss a new contract for the player who is a RFA in the summer. In 58 games this season, Kapanen has 18 goals and 18 assists. His speed is an incredible asset. I would bet he’s one of the fastest skaters in the league. As far as a new contract, I expect a shorter term as everyone is still seeing how good Kasperi can be at the NHL level. He’s supplanted Nylander as the winger with Matthews and Babcock said recently Kapanen will stay on a line with Auston until Nylander plays better.
- The team is three points back of the Bruins with two game in hand. It seems likely the Bruins and Leafs could meet again the first round of the post-season. The Bruins have won 6 straight games. The Leafs really need to get home ice in the first round of the post-season as I thought it was a big factor in last season’s series.
- GM Kyle Dubas has reportedly told teams the organization’s last two first rounders, defenseman Rasmus Sandin (2018) & Timothy Liljegren (2017), are not available in trade.
- Leafs have an impressive 20-2-0 record when leading after the first period and when leading after 2 periods, they are 27-0-0.
- Matthews became the first Leafs player all-time to record 3 straight 25 goal seasons to start his career. He also became the 3rd fastest player to score 100 goals as a Leaf. The others:
- Reg Noble 112 games
- Charlie Conacher 162 games
- Auston Matthews 187 games
- Before suffering a leg injury in last Thursday’s game against Vegas, Andreas Johnsson had recorded 9 points in his past 6 games. After missing Saturday’s game against Arizona, I did hear Sunday that Johnsson was at practice which is good news. He was on the 3rd line with Kadri and Nylander.
- Leafs are 9-1-0 on the road versus Western Conference opponents.
- Forward Tyler Ennis played his first game in over a month against Arizona on Saturday. Ennis was recovering from a broken ankle. He had been ready to play for about a week before he got into a game as the team was playing so well there was no spot for him in the line-up.
- After the Tuesday game in St. Louis, the Leafs return to Toronto to play 4 at home. Their upcoming home schedule is:
- Thursday against Washington
- Saturday against Montreal
- Monday, Feb. 25 against Buffalo
- Wed., Feb. 27th against the Oilers
- The team is 1-8-2 in their past 11 games and have scored 2 or more goals only twice in their past seven games. They are 7 points out of a wild card spot and 4 points from the league basement. They moved out pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot to Philadelphia for back-up Anthony Stolarz (4-3 with a 3.33 GAA & a .902 SV%). The move was cap-related as Stolarz is making $760,000 this season whereas Talbot was at $4.1 M. Defenseman Andrej Sekera has been recalled from the AHL after rehabbing his achilles so the Oilers needed cap space. Sekara has not played this season as he suffered the achilles injury in off-season training. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said the team is interested in getting Talbot into a few of the team’s 24 remaining games and possibly talk to him about signing with the team. The Flyers are now going with 20 year old goaltender Carter Hart. Talbot and Hart are apparently friends as Hart is from just outside of Edmonton and trains with Talbot in the summers.
- Acting GM Keith Gretzky recently said he’s working in consultation with CEO Bob Nicholson, head pro scout Duane Sutter and a few of the other Oilers pro scouts on all GM matters. No word on where the Oilers are at with interviewing for a permanent GM. Names mentioned as possible candidates include:
- Former Leafs AGM Mark Hunter
- Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon (Vegas GM McPhee does not want to part with McCrimmon mid-season though)
- Former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr who is Executive Director of Player Personnel with the Bruins
- Sportsnet reported Saturday that interim head coach Ken Hitchcock was told to try and be a bit more positive about things around the team. Hitch’s frustration shows sometimes and he can be hard on players. Apparently Hitchcock was considering stepping down but decided to stay on. The team would go with assistant coach Glen Gulutzan if Hitch were to move on.
- Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 49 goals this season. The team has not had a player with 49 goals since Jimmy Carson back in the 1988-89 season (30 years ago).
- The agent for forward Jesse Puljujarvi has indicated his client would prefer a trade from Edmonton. Puljujarvi has 9 points on 4 goals in 46 games this season though he’s recently been a healthy scratch. Puljujarvi was drafted 4th overall by the Oilers back in 2016.
- Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu’s suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus in his right knee and won’t play again this season. Koivu, 36, recently indicated he knows he has a tough rehab in front of him but he’s prepared and fully intends to play next season. Koivu is 27 games from playing in 1,000 career games – all with the Wild organization.
- Carolina Hurricanes assistant captain Jordan Staal has started practicing with the team. Staal has been out of action since December with a concussion.
- Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott was loaned to the team’s AHL affiliate to rehab an injury. Elliott, 33, in also a pending UFA but has not played in over 2 months due to injury.
- Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has started practicing with the team again. He’s missed the past two months of game action after suffering another concussion. He indicated recently he’s feeling 100% and ready to play.
Odds & Ends
- Penguins forward Bryan Rust has set a career high in goals with 16. Rust recorded just one goal in his first 28 games but has 14 in his past 28 games.
- Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk leads his 2016 draft class with 154 points after 200 career games. Tkachuk has already set a career high in points this season with 57 points in 56 games though he has just one assist in his past 9 games. The Flames and Tkachuk’s agent are trying to work out a new contract for the pending RFA.
- Jets forward Mark Scheifele is on pace for 43 goals. His previous career high in goals was 32 back in the 2016-17 season. Jets head coach Paul Maurice said Scheifele could be a future Jets captain (Blake Wheeler is the Jets current captain) and, further, Maurice believes Scheifele can have as good a career as Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman. Jets need to win in the post season for Scheifele to mentioned along side a 3 time Cup champion like Stevie Y in my view.
- Red Wings star forward Dylan Larkin has already set a career high in goals this season with 24. The 22 year old Michigan native is expected to be named the Wings captain as soon as next season. He leads the team in points with 55 after 59 games.
- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo is one win away from tying Ed Belfour for 3rd all-time in wins for a goaltender. Luongo has 483 career wins. No word on if Luongo, 39, will play another season. I believe he’d only consider playing with the Panthers.
- Another future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is the first goaltender all-time to make at least 40 appearances in his first 14 seasons.
- Former player and Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg is getting into the player agent business. Forsberg has joined a group called “4Sports Hockey” in the capacity of part owner. Also with the group is former Avs teammate Claude Lemieux.
- Chicago signed goaltender Colin Delia to a 3 year contract.
- Year One: $750 K with a $400 K signing bonus
- Year Two: $750 K
- Year Three: $1.1 M
- Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling was granted a personal leave of absence from the team. Darling was playing in the AHL trying to get his career back on track. He’s not had an easy time since signing a 4 year, $16 M contract with the Hurricanes back in the summer of 2016. He had been recently playing with the Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, where he had a 5-6 record with a 3.40 GAA and .882 SV%. Darling still collects $4.15 M for this season and 2 more to play in the AHL.
- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf has recently been a healthy scratch and, when he does get into the line-up, he gets the least amount of ice time of all LA Kings defenseman, about 10-12 minutes/game. Phaneuf has recorded 4 points in 50 Kings games this season on one goal. I can’t see him back in LA next season – or possibly even in the NHL. The Kings would have to buy out his contract that has 2 years left at about $5 M /season (Ottawa is picking up the other $2 M /season).
- Canucks rookie sensation Elias Pettersson became the fastest rookie to score 25 goals since Alex Ovechkin did in the 2005-06 season. Pettersson scored the 25 goals in 55 Canucks games. Pettersson could set a franchise record for goals in a players rookie season. He’s on pace for 38. The record for a Canucks rookie player is Pavel Bure with 34 in the 1991-92 season.
- The Hurricanes and pending RFA, and leading scorer, Sebastian Aho plan to wait until the off-season to discuss a new contract. Aho, 21, has set a career high in assists and points this season. He leads the Hurricanes in points with 24 G, 43 A (67 points in 59 games).
- Canucks forward Brock Boeser is the first Canucks forward to score 20+ goals in his first two seasons since Pavel Bure did in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 season.
- Canucks first rounder defenseman Quinn Hughes, 19, is expected to sign and play with the team this season when his NCAA season concludes in March. Hughes was drafted 7th overall in the recent, 2018, entry draft. His numbers at U of Michigan this season are 26 GP, 4 G, 25 A with 16 PIMS.
- San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane is on pace for a career high 37 goals this season. He has scored 10 goals in his past 12 games. Kane is in the first year of a 7 year, $49 M contract.
- New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall is eligible to sign a new contract with New Jersey on July 1, 2019. Next season is the final year of his 7 year deal he signed with the Oilers and he’ll then be a UFA. Hall has the same agent as Mitch Marner. Hall, through his agent, has indicated he is interested in signing long term with the Devils. I expect the player would cost NJ about $10 M / season on a long term deal as he was the league MVP last season. He’s missed the past 20 Devils games with some sort of leg injury that he suffered in practice.
- Washington Capitals enforcer Tom Wilson has set a new career high in goals with 15. Wilson is in the first season of a 6 year, $5.167 M /season deal. This is the same type of contract that Hurricanes tough forward Micheal Ferland of the Hurricanes is hoping to get. Ferland is a pending UFA. He has 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 50 games played. Wilson has 15 goals and 13 assists in 40 games played.
- Alex Ovechkin has recorded his 10th forty goal season. Only Gretzky (12), Marcel Dionne (10) and Mario Lemieux (10) have recorded as many 40 goal seasons. Ovechkin has recorded at least 40 goals in 10 of his 13 career season. Definitely one of the greatest goal scorer the league has ever seen. Ovi also sits 6th all-time in power play goals with 241. He needs 5 PPG’s to catch Phil Esposito for 5th all-time.
- Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has set a new Lightning franchise record with 18 career shutouts surpassing former Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (17 shutouts). Vasilevskiy is just 24 years old and has an incredibly bright future in the league.
- Jets star forward Patrik Laine has just 1 goal in his past 20 games. He runs hot and cold like no other player though he still has 25 goals on the season. He’s needs a new contract before the start of next season (RFA). Some experts see a bridge deal for him since he’s so inconsistent.
- Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat is newest up and coming star goal scorer in the league. He’s has 31 goals after 60 Hawks games this season and had 28 last season (his rookie season). In his career to date, that’s .42 goals per game. Laine in one more full season has a .49 goals / game. Laine is 20 years old and DeBrincat 21.
- Avs forward Gabe Landeskog has set a new career high with 30 goals (after just 57 games). Avs coach Jared Bednar has recently split up with 3 star players – Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog – in an effort to balance the forward lines. The 3 stars had been playing together on the team’s top line.
- Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller won his 375th career game on Sunday becoming the winningest USA-born goaltender all-time. The other winningest USA-born goaltenders after Miller are:
- John Vanbiesbrouck 374 wins
- Tom Barrasso 369 wins
- Jonathan Quick 304 wins
- Mike Richter 301 wins
- Once new Flyers goaltender Cam Talbot gets into a game, it will set a new league record for most goaltenders used by one team in a season (8).
- Devils goaltender Cory Schneider has won 2 straight decisions after going 0-17-4 since December 2017.
- Sabres Sam Reinhart has already surpassed his career high in points this season. He previous career high in points was 50 which he recorded last season. He already has 51 points after 58 Sabres games. Reinhart was drafted 2nd overall in 2014.
- There are 7 players on pace for 100+ points this season (Kucherov, Patrick Kane, McDavid, Rantanen, MacKinnon, Brayden Point and Marchand). Last season there were 3 players (McDavid, Giroux & Kucherov) with 100+ points. Kucherov is on pace for 131 points. He’s played 6 games where he’s recorded at least 4 points in a game.
- The NY Islanders are on pace for 107 points, a 27 point increase over last season. The team leads the league in shutouts with 7 and they’ve allowed the fewest goals of any team this season.
- The Lightning are the first team with 3 players with 70+ points after 60 games since the 1995-96 Penguins. The Lightning lead the Atlantic Division by 16 points.
- Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has appeared in 51 of Vegas’ 60 games this season. It’s the most work of any goaltender. Fleury leads the league in wins but the team may need to get him some rest down the stretch.
Here are some news & notes items from around the NHL.
- CBA negotiations: from recent reports, the 2-3 meetings the NHL and NHLPA had were positive and cordial. There is a feeling that with the financial prosperity of the game, both sides want to see it continue. There has not been much news around negotiations the past 2 weeks except that the two sides decided to shelve World Cup discussions for now and that means no World Cup in September 2020. There have been some discussion between the two sides about having a international event possibly mid-season in the 2020-21 season but no decisions have been made. The two sides are planning to meet again this week.
- The 2020 Bridgestone Winter Classic Outdoor Game will be between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators on January 1, 2020 at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. It will be the first outdoor game for both teams.
- The Colorado Avalanche and LA Kings will play an outdoor game on February 15, 2020 at U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.
- NHL Global Series: in continuance with the NHL trying to grow their brand in Europe, next season there will be preseason games in Germany & Switzerland and regular season games in Prague and Stockholm. No teams have been decided yet.
- Player and Puck Tracking: it was announced at the All-Star game the league will introduce player & puck tracking to start next season, the 2019-20 season. The company that built the tracking system is called Jogmo and their system was founded at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany (Fraunhofer is apparently the MIT of Germany). The Jogmo company is a Fraunhofer subsidiary organization. The system will require a new puck with a sensor inside and there will be antenna’s in the rafters of NHL stadiums as well as 4 cameras. The cameras will take readings of the puck at a rate of 2000 images per second plus images of player movement will be captured at a rate of 200 times per second. Players will also have a sensor in their shoulder pads. Apparently the most challenging part of the system technically is getting the real time stats. Other leagues, such as MLB & NFL, have tracking systems but the NHL is the only system that works in real time. The gambling angle that the NHL is getting into was not related to the tracking software initiative but they may use the tracking data as part of offering gambling on games. The league and NHLPA have a detailed contract in place regarding player and puck tracking and, as part of that agreement, none of the player data will be used in salary negotiations or arbitration cases. Here is a very good fact sheet about the details of the player and puck tracking system.
- The league is also rolling out an iPad application for coaches in the next couple weeks. The application was jointly developed by Apple and SAP. The NHL has really moved on using technology more in their business. Here is an article about the new coaches iPad app.
- Quebec City: the league and the representations for the group pursuing an NHL team for Quebec City are still in regular contact but the league is not prepared to make any promises to them as this point. The two sides plan to stay in regular contact.
- Women’s hockey is gaining more traction and has clearly caught the attention of the NHL. Having the two women hockey players participate in the skills competition will further help grow the profile of women hockey players. There is apparently two women’s league’s currently, the CHWL & NWHL, and Commissioner Bettman indicated they will continue to do all they can to grow the profile of the women’s game but it seems having two leagues is not want many people prefer and the NHL wants to wait until they have one women’s league before doing any possible partnering.
- Nine of the top eleven points leaders in the NHL are age 25 or younger. I heard a report last week that the league’s second points leader, Mikko Rantanen, will be looking for minimum $10 M / season on his next deal. Rantanen’s entry level contract expires this summer. The player just turned 22 years old. In 50 games this season, the player has recorded 23 goals and 51 assists for 74 points or 1.48 PPG.
- NY Islanders and location of their post-season games: it has not been determined where the New York Islanders will play their playoff games this season. The team has been splitting their home games between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Apparently, there are more luxury boxes at Barclays and the revenue from playoff games is anticipated to be higher than Nassau but there are a loyal group of Islander fans that want the games on Long Island (at Nassau Coliseum). Commissioner Bettman indicated it’s a priority issue with the league to figure it out and they hope to make an announcement soon.
- League attendance is down .5%; this seasons average attendance is 17,368 vs 17,453 last season. The Blackhawks have led the league in attendance for 11 straight seasons averaging 23,424 fans/game. The Colorado Avalanche have had the highest increase in attendance this season with a 14% increase. The Senators have had the most significant decline in attendance this season. They are down 10.9% to an average of 14,425 fans/game or 77% of capacity.
- In addition to the 12 year $5.2 B broadcasting deal the NHL has with Rogers Communications, the league also has a 10 year $2 B ten year deal with NBC that’s set to expire at the end of 2020-21 season. Some people expect a possible new US TV deal to be more lucrative than the current one.
- This season has seen the most comeback victories of any prior NHL season and there has been only two prior seasons where more teams came back from multi goal deficits to win.
- The Seattle NHL team is targeting late summer 2019 to announce a team name.
- The organization is also planning to hire a General Manager this summer, after the regular and post-seasons have concluded.
- The team’s first season will be the 2021-22 season with an expansion draft held in the summer of 2021.
GM & Coaches
- The Oilers relieved Peter Chiarelli of his duties as President of Hockey Operations & General Manager. Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson assumes the Chiarelli’s role temporarily. Keith Gretzky as an AGM with the Oilers but it does not appear as though he would be a candidate to take over as GM. Gretzky’s strength is reportedly scouting. Some knowledgeable people have said the Oilers would be better off to wait until the off-season to hire a new General Manager as others team’s don’t want to part with key management personnel mid-season.
- Columbus has hired former NHL player Martin St. Louis as a special teams consultant. St.Louis will reportedly work with the Blue Jackets power play group which ranks 27th in the league. St. Louis is friends with Columbus head coach John Tortorella as they won a Cup with the Lightning back in 2004.
- Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill is without a contract after this season and there have reportedly been no contract talks. There could be a number of moves around coaches this off-season as Blues Craig Berube, Kings Willie Desjardins and Flyers Scott Gordon all are “interim” head coaches. Additionally, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has had a rough season. Anaheim’s AHL coach Dallas Eakins wants back in the NHL as a head coach and could be a candidate to replace Carlyle.
Player contract/trade scuttlebutt
- It was reported last week that Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and the team have started initial discussions on new contract. Karlsson is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He can sign a seven year deal with Sharks at any time but if he wants a 8 year deal (the max contract length under the current CBA), he has to wait to sign after the February 25, 2019 trade deadline. Karlsson has reportedly been the Sharks top player for the past 4-6 weeks. Karlsson recently expressed appreciation to the Sharks organization for being patient with him while he adjusted to his new team and city.
- The Ottawa Senators reportedly offered Matt Duchene an 8 year deal at $8 M / season but it sounds as though that will not be enough to keep the player in Ottawa. Duchene is a pending UFA who will likely be moved at the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
- It seems the number one priority for the Senators is getting forward Mark Stone signed to a new deal. He is also a pending UFA. The reported price to get Stone signed is $10 M / season. I’ve not heard how contract discussions are progressing. Stone leads the Senators in points with 50. Matt Duchene is 3 point back of Stone with 47 points.
- The NY Islanders are reportedly still in contract discussions with their captain, Anders Lee. The player is a UFA on July 1, 2019 and has 37 points in 49 games this season. There have been no apparent contract talks with two others Islanders pending UFA’s, forwards Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson. Goaltender Robin Lehner is also a July 1, 2019 UFA. He’s having a career season with a 15-7-4 record with a .931 SV% and a 2.02 GAA. I’ve not heard anything regarding how Islanders GM Lamoriello will approach contract discussions with Lehner. Sergei Bobrovsky’s name gets mentioned as a possible Islanders add this summer (Goalie Bob is also a UFA) but it’s just rumor.
- I heard that the agent for Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is requiring another meeting with his client before advising the Blue Jackets whether or not Artemi is interested in entering into contract negotiations with the Blue Jackets. Panarin is a July 1, 2019 UFA and Columbus wants to retain him. Panarin, 27, leads the Blue Jackets in points this season with 19 goals, 34 assists for 53 points in 46 games played.
- LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin has been mentioned in trade. Muzzin, 29, will be a UFA on July 1, 2020 and the Kings are reportedly looking to get a decent asset back for the player. Kings GM Rob Blake is reportedly asking for a first round pick and a prospect in return for Muzzin.
- Seems the price to acquire Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds is a first round pick plus a prospect. With the Flyers out of a playoff position, it seems likely Simmonds, a pending UFA, will be dealt.
- New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle is a pending UFA and is expected to move at the trade deadline. There’s been some rumbling the San Jose Sharks are interested in acquiring Boyle.
- Carolina signed Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen to a 5 year deal at a annual rate of $5.4 M/season. In 50 games this season, Teravainen, 24, has recorded 11 goals and 32 assists for second on the team in points. In approximately 4 NHL seasons, Teravainen is a .59 PPG player. The Hurricanes are led offensively by Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, both Finns. Aho, 21, is a RFA this summer and the team has been discussing a long term deal with his agent. Aho has 57 points in 51 Hurricanes games this season to lead the team in points. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell recently indicated contract talks with Aho are ongoing and they fully intend to sign him to a long term deal.
- Representatives for Sabres forward Jeff Skinner are reportedly going to meet with the Sabres in early February to talk about a new contract for the pending UFA. Reports seem to suggest Skinner is comfortable in Buffalo.
- Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky name has been mentioned in trade with Dallas known to be heavily scouting the player. Burakovsky has 12 points on 6 goals this season. The player is from Sweden and a RFA at season’s end. He went 23th overall in 2013.
- Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon seems to be the leading candidate to replace fired GM Peter Chiarelli. It’s not clear of Vegas GM George McPhee wants to let McCrimmon go mid-season, though. The Oilers may have to wait until the off-season to hire a GM but it’s too early to tell.
- The team has lost 9 of their past 11 games at home and are still just 3 points from a Western Conference wildcard spot.
- The team’s number one defenseman, Oscar Klefbom, will reportedly be ready for the team’s first game after the All-Star break, Saturday, February 2 against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
- The team signed goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a 3 year, $13.5 M contract or $4.5 M a season. Koskinen’s numbers this season, 14-11-1 with a 2.79 GAA and a .910 SV%. The Oilers other goaltender Cam Talbot is a pending UFA. He’s not had a strong season so not sure if there would be a market for him. Some experts thought the Oilers overpaid on the contract as Koskinen now makes just $500 K less than Freddy Andersen and Koskinen has been in the NHL just half a season.
- Captain Joe Pavelski is on pace for a career high 45 goals this season.
- Czech forward Tomas Hertl is one point from his career high in points (46 points) with 30 games remaining in the season. He has also tied his career high in goals with 22. The player has recorded two hat tricks in his past 5 games. Czech born Hertl was a first round selection of the Sharks back in 2012 (17th overall). I read where a Sharks reporter who has covered all of their games this season says Hertl has been the team’s most consistent forward (he added Karlsson has been the team’s top player).
- Forward Mitch Marner became the first Leafs player to record three 60 point seasons to start his career. It’s awesome that Marner is from Toronto and such a proud Leaf. He could be one of the top Leafs players all-time if he stays with the organization.
- It was reported last week that Auston Matthews is looking for a 5-6 year deal. No numbers were mentioned but it’s expected to exceed teammate John Tavares’ $11 M /season. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas was hoping to get some financial details from both the Matthews and Marner camps on what they are looking for in a new deal as Dubas wants to know by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline how much salary he can afford to bring on (particularly for next season). Marner’s made it clear he does not want to start negotiations until the off-season. Some experts say the young RFA’s may not be looking for the max 8 year deals instead asking for a 5-6 year deals. This could be related to the US TV deal and the expectation of revenues growing. Some of the contracts signed by Gaudreau ($6.75 M /season for 6 years) and MacKinnon ($6.3 M /season on a 7 year deal) could leave them underpaid in a year or two’s time.
- William Nylander is starting to collect points including a career high 3 assists in the final Leafs game before the All-Star break (against Washington). Nylander had just 3 points in his first 19 games of the season and had recorded 4 in his last 5 periods of play.
- Defenseman Morgan Rielly reached the 50 point mark after his 49th game. Only 3 other Leafs have reached 50 points faster:
- Borje Salming (42 games in 1976-77)
- Babe Pratt (44 games in 1943-44)
- Bryan McCabe (45 games in 2005-06)
- Rielly is additionally the first Leafs defenseman to post back to back 50 points seasons since Tomas Kaberle did in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks is back as the team’s number two goaltender. Sparks missed about 10 days recovering from a concussion.
- Forward Andreas Johnsson has missed games recently with a concussion. No word on how the player is doing. Hopefully the recent All-Star break helps Johnsson recover. Marlies forward Trevor Moore was recalled to cover for Johnsson.
- Jake Gardiner was suffering from back spasms and had missed two games before the All-Star break. No word is he’s been feeling better but I’d guess the recent bye week would help him heal up.
- Forward John Tavares recorded his 30th goal last week in a game against Arizona. It’s JT’s fifth 30 goal season in his career.
- The Leafs resume their schedule this Friday, February 2nd against Detroit in MoTown. They then play 3 at home, against the Penguins on Sat. Feb. 2, Ducks on Monday, Feb. 4 and finally against the Senators on Wed. Feb. 6. The team then heads out on the road for a tough season long 6 game road trip.
- The Canucks are tied for the final wildcard spot in the West and the team recently got back their star forward Elias Pettersson.
- Goaltender Thatcher Demko played in his first NHL game on January 18th and collected the win. With the January 2 trade of Anders Nilsson, Demko has been given the role as the Canucks back-up. Demko is a second round selection of the Canucks from back in 2014.
- Canucks GM Jim Benning and ownership have reiterated the organization’s plan is to develop their core players (Pettersson, Horvat, Boeser) and continue to build through the draft. The team is expected to a get a player in the 15 to 20 spot in the first round of the June entry draft that’s being held in Vancouver.
- The team went 9-1-1 in January and shows no signs of slowing down.
- The team has five players with 50 or more points after 50 games played this season. It’s the second time in franchise history they’ve achieved that, the other was the 1987-88 season.
- Forward Johnny Gaudreau recorded 18 points in 8 games in January. Johnny is tied for 3rd overall in the league in points with 73.
- The organization will retire Jarome Iginla’s #12 jersey on March 2, 2019 before a against the Minnesota Wild. I believe the organization would be open to Iginla joining the Flames in a management capacity but he’s currently living in Boston and involved raising his 3 children.
- Defenseman TJ Brodie has 11 points in 11 games since the start of the new year.
- The team has reached the 70 point mark in the second fastest time in the organization’s history. They have 70 points this season after 51 games. In 1988-89, the team reached in the 70 point mark in 50 games.
- Rookie defenseman Juuso Valimaki is making progress recovering from a high ankle sprain that’s caused him to miss 27 games. Valimaki just last week starting practicing with the team. The organization sent him to the club’s AHL affiliate in Stockton before the All-Star break to get into some game action. I expect he’ll be recalled soon. Valimaki is probably the organization’s top prospect.
- Second line center Mikael Backlund recently recorded his 300th career point.
- The team leads the league in short handed goals with 15. Forth line center Mark Jankowski has scored 4 of his 8 goals this season short-handed.
- The team is on their mid-season break until Feb. 1 when they play against Washington in DC. Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will not play in the game because he chose to skip the All-Star game.
- Carolina Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland name has been mentioned as a player the Flames could be interested in acquiring at the trade deadline. Contract talks between Ferland and the Hurricanes have not gone well. Ferland is a pending unrestricted free agent. The Penguins have also reportedly discussed acquiring Ferland. I believe if the Flames did acquire Ferland, it would be for the post-season only as he reportedly is looking for around $5 M /season on a new contract.
- Some people see the Koskinen signing in Edmonton, 3 seasons at $4.5 M/season, as a rate Flames goaltender David Rittich may use in his negotiation. Rittich is a restricted free agent this summer. Rittich, 26, has a record of 19-4-4 with a 2.47 GAA and a .918 SV%.
- Captain Jonathan Toews scored his 20th goal of the season last week which matches his total from all of last season.
- Goaltender Corey Crawford is skating and recovering from another recent concussion. Crawford seems to be making progress but is not yet practicing with the ‘Hawks.
- Washington has lost 7 straight games and in 4 of their past 5 games they’ve given up at least 6 goals against.
- Alex Ovchekin is tied with Sergei Federov for most points from a Russian born player
- Carolina and Minnesota swapped forwards, going to Carolina was Nino Niederreiter with Victor Rask going to the Wild. Niederreiter was playing on the Wild’s 4th line and making $5.25 M this season (with 3 years left on his deal) so I understand the move from Minnesota’s side was about shedding salary.
Streaks & Milestones
- Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl recorded his 100th career goal last week. He reached the milestone after 315 career games.
- Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad recently became the franchise leader in goals for a defenseman with 62.
- Senators forward Mark Stone is one point from 300 for his career. There are only 10 Senators players all-time with 300 career points with the franchise.
- Montreal goaltender Carey Price has tied a Canadiens record for most 20 win seasons with 9. The record is held with former Canadiens goaltenders Jacques Plante and Patrick Roy. Price has won 13 of his past 19 starts and has a .929 GAA over that stretch.
- Canucks franchise cornerstone Elias Pettersson has 23 points (10 G, 13 A) in his last 17 games.
- Vegas forward Alex Tuch has 14 points in his past 13 games. Vegas GM George McPhee is one of the league’s top general managers. Tuch, 22, is the team’s points leader and has a team friendly good contract -$4.75 M /season for 7 seasons.
- Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu recorded his 200th career goal last week which places him second in franchise history in goals. Marion Gaborik is the franchise leader with 219 goals.
- Predators head coach Peter Laviolette became the 7th active head coach with 600 wins. The others:
- Oilers Hitchcock 837
- Islanders Trotz 791
- Jets Maurice 679
- Leafs Babcock 674
- Montreal Julien 610
- Columbus Tortorella 603
- Predators Laviolette 600
- Colorado is 4-10-2 in their last 16 games. They are 22nd of 31 teams in goals allowed. The Avalanche get the Senators first round selection in this years draft (part of the Matt Duchene trade) and Ottawa is 30th in the league.
- Canucks forward Bo Horvat recently recorded his 200th career point. Horvat, still just 23 years old, has already played 346 games. He second on the Canucks in points this season with 41 points in 51 games played. He’s also one of the league’s top face-off players.
- Flyers center Claude Giroux recently recorded his 500th career assist. The only other Flyer with 500 assists with the franchise is Bobby Clarke. There are only 12 active players with 500 career assists.
- Islanders forward Jordan Eberle recently recorded his 200th career goal joining Steven Stamkos as the other other player from their 2008 draft class to reach as many goals.
Odds & Ends
- Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said at the All-Star game he wants to retire a NY Ranger. Lundqvist is 6th all-time in wins with 446.
- The Detroit Red Wings are retiring former Wings player Leonard “Red” Kelly’s #4 jersey on Friday, Feb.2 before the start of the Leafs / Red Wings game. Kelly, 91, won 8 Cups in his career and recorded 162 goals and 310 assists in 846 Red Wing games. Kelly was a member of the last Leafs team to win the Cup, the 1966-67 team. Overall, he won 4 Cups as a member of the Wings and 4 as a member of the Leafs.
- Ducks forward Ondrej Kase requires shoulder surgery for a torn labrum and will miss the rest of the season.
- The ECHL affiliate of the Leafs, the Newfoundland Growlers, require a new head coach after Ryane Clowe stepped down. Clowe reportedly is still dealing with concussion-related problems from his playing days. Growlers assistant coach John Snowden has been named the team’s new head coach. Leafs Director of Player Development, Stephane Robidas, has also been working with the Growlers acting as a temporary assistant coach.
- There was a report that former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk would consider a return to playing in the NHL next season. Datsyuk turns 41 in July and his KHL (playing) contract is expiring. Datsyuk’s agent indicated the only team he would consider playing for is the Red Wings.
- Ducks Corey Perry is ahead of schedule recovering from his knee injury suffered in the preseason. Perry could be back in game action in 2-3 weeks. Some experts see it as a huge challenge for Perry, 33, to return to decent form. Perry has two seasons left his deal at $8.625 M/season. In 71 games last season, Perry recorded 17 goals and 32 assists for 49 points. His skating speed has apparently declined in recent seasons. The Ducks may need to make a roster move to bring on Perry’s salary as he was on long term injury reserve.
- Chicago Blackhawks young forward Alex DeBrincat is having an impressive start to his career. DeBrincat, 21, has 25 goals in 51 ‘Hawks games this season. He recorded 28 goals last season, his rookie season. DeBrincat was a line mate of Connor McDavid in junior with the Erie Otters.
- The Anaheim Ducks finally won a game last week stopping their franchise record 12 game losing streak. The Ducks amazingly are just a point from a Western Conference wildcard spot.
- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask tied a Bruins record for most wins with the organization. Both Rask and Cecil “Tiny” Thompson have recorded 252 wins in a Bruins uniform. Rask suffered a concussion before the All-Star break but recent reports indicate he has been feeling better.
- Former Dallas Stars assistant coach Curt Fraser has taken over as the new head coach of the China-based KHL’s Kanlun Red Stars.
- Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck is back playing after missing 2 1/2 months with a broken ankle.
- The New Jersey Devils assigned goaltender Cory Schneider to their AHL affiliate to get some work in. In 9 Devils games this season, Schneider is 0-5-1 with a 4.66 GAA and a .852 SV%. Schneider, 32, has not won an NHL game since December 2017. He had hip surgery this off-season and it seems it’s been tough for him to get back to his usual form.
- Penguins forward Phil Kessel has recorded 11 straight seasons of at least 20 goals. Kessel also recently recorded his 350th career goal. Would be awesome if Kessel could reach the 500 career goal milestone before his career concludes. Only 45 players all-time have reached the milestone.
- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he hopes to be in consideration for the Selke trophy as the league’s top defensive forward. The chances seem good that he’ll accomplish his goal as he has achieved just about every award in hockey. If he could capture a Selke, he’d the the first player all-time to win a Hart, Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Selke.
- The Flyers have turned the net over to their top prospect, goaltender Carter Hart. Hart was drafted in the second round of the 2016 entry draft. In 12 games so far this season, the 20 year old has 6 wins, 5 losses, a 2.66 GAA and a .918 SV%. There have been only 8 goaltenders since the 1997-98 season to make 12 starts before turning 21 years old.
- Sabres former forward Patrik Berglund said recently he lost his interest in playing hockey and that’s why he walked away from the Sabres. Berglund has returned to Sweden and says he’s not going to be playing hockey anywhere for a while. Berglund was in the 2nd year of a 5 year contract that paid him $3.85 M a season. He was acquired in the off-season from St. Louis.
- Lightning forward Brayden Point is the only player with 30 goals and 30 assists and he’s tied with Bruins David Pastrnak for most PP goals with 13. Point, 22, is a RFA at season’s end.
- Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu has asked the Sabres to trade him as he hasn’t been playing much for the team. In 26 games this season, Beaulieu has recorded 3 goals and 4 assists. He’s averaged 14:45 of ice time in the 26 games. He’s a former first round selection of Montreal (17th overall) in 2011. He’s an RFA in the summer.
- Dallas Stars rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen has been a terrific story. He’s just 19 years old and one of the Stars top defenseman. He’s averaging 23 minutes of ice time per game just 49 games into his NHL career. He was the Stars representative at the All-Star game. Canucks forward Elias Pettersson will win the Calder as the league’s top rookie but Finland-born Heiskanen is going to be a star in the NHL. I heard where Stars GM Jim Nill compared him to a mix between Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer. Nill know Lidstrom’s game well as Nill was a Wings front office executive in Detroit during Lidstrom’s playing days.
- Leafs star Auston Matthews made the top move at the All-Star game putting on a Patrick Marleau jersey during the accuracy shooting competition. Hard to quantify all that Marleau has brought to the Leafs in his one and a half seasons. I liked this quote from Matthews on Marleau. “He’s an amazing teammate, he treats everybody so well. It doesn’t matter who you are, a random person on the street or a teammate that plays with him, he treats everybody so kindly & he’ll do anything for everyone.” Matthews had the San Jose all-star players, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns plus Leafs all-star John Tavares, sign the Marleau jersey and he said they plan to auction it off at a charity event in the near future.
- The NHL & NHLPA met this past Thursday in Las Vegas as both sides had people there for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It was reported the meeting went well and the two sides agreed to meet again this week. The league wants to schedule a 2020 World Cup of Hockey but can’t with labour uncertainly (the league and players both have an out clause in the CBA that is effective for the 2020-21 season. The opt out for both sides can happen in September 2019 effective for the 2020-21 season). The league does not want to have a World Cup in Sept. 2020 and then no season / labour problems that delay the start of the season. I heard one agent speak out and say the league & NHLPA should not tie a World Cup event with a labour stoppage as the World Cup was just a moderate success and not what both sides thought they’d bring in financially. The league has said if there is no labour certainty for the 2020-21 season there will be no World Cup.
- From all accounts, the biggest issue with the players is the escrow. This quarter players get 13.5% of the pay taken for the escrow (escrow is part of the salary cap calculation which is related to hockey related revenue, HRR). The league makes an estimate of HRR and uses the escrow as a clawback on pay. The players often get part of the escrow back but can take a full season for the refund.
- While league and NHLPA representatives were at the Consumer Electronic Show last week, there was more discussion and info available about where the league is going with player and puck tracking. The league is looking at providing viewers with both virtual reality experiences and in-game betting. The league had a pilot program with 6 companies involved demo’ing their products that will facilitate fan experiencing the game in VR and seeing a lot more data on the game including speed of shots and skating speed. The All-Star game in San Jose on January 26th will be another place we will see some of the ideas the league is working on with tracking and data points captured. Good article here.
- Some fans are unhappy with the offside reviews that now occur after a goal is scored. Not sure this has filtered up to the league but this is this season’s overuse of goaltender interference where it was rarely called and now it’s overused. In the Leafs game Monday night, the Leafs scored to make it 2-0 only to have the goal disallowed because of an offside that was missed 40 second prior. If the linesman misses an offside, and a goal is scored, it does not seem reasonable to call off a goal after watching video review.
- Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Seattle last week (Wednesday, January 9th) and the Seattle franchise partners held a media event at the Seattle Space Needle. Bettman indicated the new Seattle franchise will get an All-Star game and a Entry Draft within the first few years of their franchise start (2021-22 season). Bettman indicated that an entry draft would occur before an all-star game. Additionally, the league is looking into possibilities of Seattle hosting an outdoor game but it may not be possible with the city getting a lot of rain. At the same event, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke announced the Seattle team will roll out an online portal in about 60 days where fans who’ve put down a deposit for season tickets can vote on a team name. Leiweke indicated the organization will announce a team name some time in the calendar year 2019. Leiweke, again, highlighted that the “renovation” of KeyArena is more a re-building of everything but the roof of the building.
- The franchise has added Montreal native Mitch Garber as a minority investor. Garber has worked with companies owned by the Seattle team’s managing partner David Bonderman. Garber is one of the people trying to bring the Expos back to Montreal. Garber apparently has experience in sports betting which the league is getting into.
- Former Minnesota Wild head coach John Torchetti is the new coach and GM of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats.
Trade Deadline Scuttlebutt
- Flyers Wayne Simmonds – the Flyers have said publicly that they not yet decided on Simmonds; he is a UFA in the summer. He is reportedly a core part of the Flyers culture but the team is currently one of the bottom 3 teams in the league in points. I suspect Simmonds will get traded by the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
- Sportsnet reported on Saturday that pending UFA forward Michael Ferland is looking for Tom Wilson type money (Wilson signed in the summer for $31 M for 6 seasons or $5.16 M /season). In my view, Ferland is not worth those dollars as Wilson got the contract after scoring 15 points in 21 Capitals post season games during the Cup championship run last season.
- Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist (47 GP 10 G 29 A) is a pending UFA and expected to move at the trade deadline.
- We are six weeks out from the Feb. 25th trade deadline. There will be a lot of talk between now and then about players possibly moving. It was reported this week that were will be more teams selling than buying at the trade deadline and the sellers may not get the return they expect for their players. It seems there are more teams that are for sure not making the post season and some teams, like Montreal, that are not trading prospects or players to sneak into the post season.
- Forward Jake Guentzel has recorded 5 goals in his past 2 games and 10 in his past 10 games. Guentzel recorded 22 goals last season (his career high) and already has 23 this season.
- The Penguins signed back-up goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 3 year contract extension with an average annual value of $1.25 M /season. DeSmith was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. This season DeSmith has a record of 12 W & 8 L in 27 appearances with a 2.53 GAA and a .921 SV%.
- Defenseman Justin Schultz could return soon from a broken leg suffered October 13. Schultz has been skating but has not yet been cleared by doctors to resume practicing with the Penguins. Good news, though, as it was a tough injury.
- Penguins center Derick Brassard could be moved by the trade deadline as he’s a pending UFA. Saw Penguins GM Jim Rutherford quoted as saying that Brassard, 31, has underachieved in his time with the Penguins. He was acquired from Ottawa at last season’s trade deadline and he was expected to be a solid 3rd line center behind Crosby and Malkin but he hasn’t really produced. In 50 Penguins games (this season and last season), he’s recorded 10 goals and 11 assists. He’s often had Phil Kessel in his wing. No one expects him to be re-signed by the Penguins this summer.
- Rutherford indicated the Penguins may deal a defenseman as when Schultz returns, the team will have nine healthy defenseman. The team is also looking to acquire a forward at the trade deadline.
- San Jose has won 6 straight games, are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and since December 1st they are 15-3-2.
- Goaltender Martin Jones has started to really play well going 12-2-1 since Dec. 2. Over that time, his GAA is 2.30 and SV% is .920. People say Erik Karlsson has really settled in and now playing elite level hockey.
- The team has improved from being 16th in the league last season on the PP (20.6%) to seventh this season (24.6%) and people attribute to the addition of defenseman Karlsson.
- Sharks GM Doug Wilson indicated recently they will probably look to add a depth forward at the trade deadline.
- San Jose signed forward Marcus Sorensen to a 2 year extension with an average annual value of $1.5 M. Sorensen has 15 points in 47 Sharks games this season.
- The team is 8-1-1 in their past 10 games and won 5 straight games. After 47 games, the team has 30 wins which ties a franchise record (1988-89 team) for fastest to 30 wins. Coach Bill Peters has not been entirely happy with the team’s recent play. The coach so far has been having good success getting the players to perform this season.
- The team plays the Sabres, who lost 7-2 to the Oilers Monday night, on Wednesday and then the Red Wings on Friday. The Battle of Alberta resumes Saturday night in Edmonton which should be an excellent match-up.
- Captain Mark Giordano is tied for 2nd in scoring for a defenseman with 47 points (Brent Burns has 52). Gio played in his 800th career game on Sunday. He has six 3 point games this season and the same number in all his previous seasons combined. Gio likes to credit his d partner TJ Brodie for helping him have a very good season so far.
- Forward Sean Monahan has recorded 5 straight 25+ goals seasons and he’s still just 24 years old. He was a terrific 2013 6th overall selection by the organization.
- Forward Johnny Gaudreau has 18 points in his past 8 games and is second in the league in points with 69.
- I’ve not heard anything on the Matthew Tkachuk contract negotiation. Tkachuk is a restricted free agent in the summer and is just 21 years old. The player is expected to get a contract with an average annual salary close to what William Nylander got, $7 M per season on a long term deal. He’s has 54 points in 47 games and provides extra offence outside of the top line of Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm.
- Forward Curtis Lazar is the leading scorer on the team’s AHL team, the Stockton Heat (31 points in 36 Stockton games). The Flames have recalled numerous forwards so far this season but not Lazar but people say it’s because the team does not have a lot of cap space. Lazar is making $950,000 for this season and is a restricted free agent in the summer. I don’t see him in Calgary next season.
- Leafs are 2-5-0 in their last 7 games and have lost 4 of their past 5 home games. Auston Matthews has 1 goal in his past 10 games. Nazem Kadri really needs to add some offense for the team; he has just 1 goal in his past 18 games and is too often a non-factor in games. Can’t expect Tavares and Marner to do more as they provide most of the offense for the team. Babcock said Monday night after the loss to Colorado everyone needs to be better including himself (getting the team better prepared to play). I thought the Avalanche were the hungrier team on Monday night and deserved the 2 points.
- The game against the Lightning on Thursday in Tampa should be an excellent match-up. The Leafs play the next night against the Panthers in Sunrise before returning home to play Arizona on Sunday and Washington next Wednesday.
- Back-up goaltender Michael Hutchinson did admirable work filling in for Freddy Andersen. In 5 Leafs games, Hutchinson recorded 2 W, 3 L with a 2.64 GAA and a .914 SV%. If Hutchinson plays one more game in the league this season (he’s played 9 so far), he will need to go through waivers to be sent to the AHL. I would guess the organization wants to hold onto him since they need the goaltending depth. Hutchison was returned to Marlies on Monday before the Leafs played Colorado.
- Forward Mitch Marner has 12 goals in his past 13 games. I heard Babcock told him before Christmas to shoot more often. It was a good suggestion.
- The Bruins are just 1 point back of the Leafs in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are 6-2 in their past 8 games. They really present a tough match-up for the Leafs.
- John Tavares is on pace for 53 goals; his career high is 38 (in the 2014-15 season). The most goals in a season for a Leafs player is 54 (Rick Vaive in 1981-82). Tavares was first player from his 2009 draft class to record 300 goals. He’s has been everything the Leafs could have hope for in year one of his 8 year contract with Toronto. I believe he should be the captain of the Leafs.
- No real news on the Matthews and Marner contract negotiations. I heard this week that Marner does not want to be in negotiations during the season preferring to wait until season’s end. It was also reported Marner prefers that the Matthews deal gets done first. Marner wants a deal relative to a Matthews per year salary. A ballpark estimate for Marner as a per season salary is about $9 M – $10 M / season with Matthews getting a slightly higher per season salary.
- The team signed forward Trevor Moore to a 2 year contract. It’s $750,000 in 2019-20 and $800,000 for 2020-21. It’s a one way contract for both seasons. Good depth signing for the team at a reasonable price.
- The Ducks have lost 11 straight games (0-7-4). GM Bob Murray released a statement Sunday after the loss to the Jets saying he’s not firing head coach Randy Carlyle. Murray is known for preferring not to let coaches go mid-season. The team has a tough upcoming schedule as 9 of their next 10 games are on the road.
- The Ducks are last in the league in goals for per game with an average of 2.43 per game.
- The Ducks traded veteran forward Andrew Cogliano for Dallas Stars forward Devin Shore. Two struggling teams looking to change the mix of their group. Shore is 7 years younger than Cogliano but has not produced enough offensively in Dallas this season. In 42 games, Shore has 5 goals and 12 assists. He was to be a second or third line center for the Stars. Cogliano is a really hard working, fast player with 900 NHL games to his credit. He generally kills penalties but does not put up many points. Ducks GM Bob Murray indicated recently he wants to turn over the Ducks roster a bit and bring in younger players.
- Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg is a UFA at season’s end and the organization is interested in re-signing him but initial attempts to get a contract done were unsuccessful. Murray said even in the team’s current losing skid, Silfverberg has been one of the team’s better players. The GM said he going to make a new attempt to get a contract done with Silfverberg.
- There is a lot of pressure on the Oilers to make the post-season and they are tied for the final wild card spot in the West currently but are 3-9 in their past 12 games. Apparently, the edict from ownership is to get into the post season. The organization is looking around the league for scoring help as McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Alex Chiasson have accounted for 72% of all their goals this season (no depth scoring among the forward group).
- Defenseman Darnell Nurse has stepped up in Oscar Klefbom’s absence to be the team’s number one defenseman. Klefbom (broken finger) is expected back soon / after the All-Star break but Nurse is playing 30 minutes a game. In his past 19 games, Nurse has recorded 17 points.
- Connor McDavid has 22 points in his last 11 games (9 G & 13 A).
- Forward Milan Lucic has 3 goals in his past 4 games after 2 in his previous 88. Everyone hopes Lucic can get back to producing some offense. He’s had a terrible time being productive the past year and a half.
- I believe goaltender Cam Talbot, a pending UFA, is on the way out of Edmonton. Finn goaltender Mikko Koskinen (also a pending UFA) has taken over as the team’s number one. This season Talbot has a 9-13 record with a .896 SV% and a 3.17 GAA. Talbot has a modified no trade clause in his contract whereby he submits a list of 10 teams he would be open to playing for.
- There is also a lot of pressure in Dallas for the team to make the post-season. The Stars CEO Jim Lites spoke out just after Christmas saying stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have played “like horse s**t” this season. I heard Seguin interviewed and he said the two players were not happy with how they were publicly ripped. Benn is definitely the leader of the team, and captain, but his play this season has not been on par with a player making $9.5 M/season. Benn has 33 points after 45 games, on pace for a 59 point season (he had 79 points last season). Benn has been to the post-season just twice in his 9 1/2 year career. The Stars team owner said recently that if the team misses the post-season there will be big changes. Benn has 6 more seasons left on his contract after this season at $9.5 M /season and may not be easy to move as he’s not having a strong season. Plus, he turns 30 in the summer and a lot of the high-end stars are a lot younger than in the past.
- Coach Jim Montgomery and GM Jim Nill recently talked about how they can’t seem to get a motivated group on a consistent basis. The team will have a few good games and then the team gets complacent. I believe the Cogliano trade was just as much about shaking up their dressing room and work ethic as on ice play.
- On a positive note, goaltender Ben Bishop has had a good season with a .922 SV% and a 2.39 GAA as the team’s starter.
- Injuries for the Stars include Martin Hanzal (back; not skating), Marc Methot (knee; not skating and has played in just 9 games this season), Stephen Johns (neck/headaches; has not played this season).
Streaks & Milestones
- Jets Patrik Laine is just the 7th player to record 3 seasons of 25+ goals before his 21st birthday.
- The Islanders are 13-6-1 since December 1st. Goaltender Robin Lehner is 9-2-1 over that stretch.
- Blue Jackets head coach John Torterella reached the 600 win mark. He has the most wins of any USA-born coach. Torts also tied the Blue Jackets franchise record (with Ken Hitchcock) for most games coached with 284.
- Blues David Perron has an active 11 game point streak going. He’s recorded 5 goals and 9 assists over the 11 games. It’s the longest current point streak in the league. Perron recorded 16 goals last season with Vegas and already has 16 this season.
- Sharks center Joe Thornton will skate in his 1,000 career game this Tuesday in a game against the Penguins at the Shark Tank/SAP Center. With the Sharks franchise, Thornton has recorded 994 points in 999 games (237 G, 757 A).
- Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, 23, recently played in his 100th career game. Bertuzzi recorded a hat trick in the game. He now has 13 goals and 12 assists in 45 games this season. Tyler is the nephew of former NHL’er Todd Bertuzzi.
- Jets forward Bryan Little recorded his 500th career point this past week. Little is also one game from playing in his 800th career game. He’s quietly had a very good career in the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise.
- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik played in his 1,000 career game on Monday night. Orpik is the 3rd player from his 2000 year draft class to reach 1,000 career games.
- Vegas forward Alex Tuch has an active 9 game point streak going (3 G & 8 A). It’s the longest point streak in franchise history. Tuch, 22, leads the Golden Knights in points with 37 on 15 goals after 45 games. GM George McPhee, wisely, signed the player to a 7 year extension that takes effect next season at a reasonable rate of $4.75 M /season.
- Sean Couturier recorded his 300th career point on Saturday. He reached the milestone after 542 career games (.55 PPG).
- Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland because the first Coyotes rookie to score a goal in 4 straight games since Teemu Selanne did in 1993.
- Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin has scored 4 OT goals this season setting a new Blue Jackets record. Heard Panarin’s agent and the Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plan to meet at the Jan. 26 All-Star game in San Jose. Panarin is a UFA in the summer and the ‘Jackets really want to retain him. I believe the team is ready to move on from their other high profile UFA, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
- Former Bruins/Rangers/Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash announced his retirement. Nash holds the record for most goals, assists and points for a Blue Jackets forward. Overall, Nash recorded 805 points in his career (437 goals, 368 assists) in 1,060 games (15 seasons). He has recorded the most points of any player from his 2002 draft class.
- Former Canadiens/Sabres defenseman Josh Georges also announced his retirement. Georges was never drafted and went on to play 13 NHL seasons (783 games).
Odds & Ends
- The Sabres are 6-11-4 in their past 21 games after going 17-6-2 in their first 25 games. They are currently sitting out of a playoff position.
- Predators depth forward Colton Sissons has set a career high with 10 goals this season. Sissons has been filling in for injured Kyle Turris as the ‘Preds second line center.
- Haven’t heard anything on Jeff Skinner’s negotiation with the Sabres. Skinner is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. Skinner has scored 30 goals in 45 Sabres games this season. It’s the 4th time in his 9 year career he’s reached the 30 goal mark and the first Sabres player since Jason Pominville did in the 2011-12 season. I heard some talk that Skinner’s asking price per season could be as much as $9 M.
- Montreal is currently the only team without one of their players scheduled to appear in the 2019 All-Star game. There is a chance the Canadiens do have a player at the game as injuries can happen between now and the January 26th game.
- Jeff Skinner, Kris Letang, Leon Draisaitl and Gabe Landeskog were voted in to the All-Star game as “Last Men In” (voted on by fans). Not having Leafs Morgan Rielly at the All-Star game is a crime; he’s had an incredible season.
- Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit is 9-1-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .939 SV% this season. He’s recorded a win in his past 6 starts. Brossoit is making the league minimum, $650,000, this season.
- Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has found a new job. Francis has joined a Raleigh-based organization called “NAI Carolantic Realty”. Francis will work with clients on their commercial real estate investments. Francis, 55, preferred to stay in Raleigh and is friends with NAI’s Executive Chairman who hired him for the new role.
- The Hurricanes have won 7 of their past 8 games and 5 points out of a playoff position. The ‘Canes have a league-leading 9 year playoff drought.
- The Canucks are 4-4-1 without their franchise player, Elias Pettersson. Pettersson has been skating and is expected back very soon. Pettersson will for sure win the Calder trophy as the league’s top rookie. The last player to win the Calder as a Vancouver Canuck was Pavel Bure in the 1991-92 season.
- Alex Ovechkin is now 14th all-time in goals scored with 640 career goals. Ovi is 6th all-time in PP goals with 237. Ovi is additionally 7 points from tying Sergei Fedorov for most points for a Russian born player.
- Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has 75 points in his team’s first 45 games. The last time a player had as many points after 45 games was Mario Lemieux in 1997.
- Many fans in Canada are hoping this is the year a Canadian-based team wins the Cup. It hasn’t happened in 26 years (Montreal won in 1993).
Here are a few news & notes items from around the NHL.
- The NHL and NHLPA are expected to meet this week in Las Vegas as representatives from both sides are attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) there. It was reported that the two sides are expected to discuss the status of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which can be re-opened this September. It’s been reported that there have been some initial discussions and that the players are not looking to re-open the agreement but make a few tweaks (escrow rates being one topic the PA seems to harp on).
- The St. Louis Blues were awarded the All-Star game for the 2019-20 season. The Blues have renovated their building, the Enterprise Center, and that is part of the reason why they were awarded the game.
- The NHL announced 3 outdoor games for next season (2019-20 season):
- The Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames will play on October 26th (2019) at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium.
- The January 1, 2020 New Year’s Day outdoor game will be in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Dallas’ opponent has not yes been announced.
- On Feb. 15, 2020, Colorado will play a yet-to-be-named opponent at United States Air Force Academy Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.
- The league has discussed with both Florida teams the possibility of a night time outdoor game but nothing official has been decided.
- The recent New Years Day outdoor game between Chicago and Boston attracted a sell-out crowd of 76,126. It was the 2nd largest crowd to ever watch an NHL game live.
- The IIHF announced they plan to play the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics games on NHL sized rinks (as opposed to the longer and wider IIHF sized). Some people see this as the IIHF trying to entice the NHL to allow their players to play in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
- No news out of Seattle now they officially have a team. I did hear Commissioner Gary Bettman was stopping by Seattle on Wednesday to meet the the Oak View Group. It will be Bettman’s first stop in Seattle since they were awarded an NHL franchise.
- The Flyers fired their head coach, Dave Hakstol, and hired Scott Gordon who was the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Gordon was given the title “Interim Head Coach”. So far, in 11 games under Gordon the Flyers have a record of 2-6-3.
- The Chicago Blackhawks added Sheldon Brookbank to their coaching staff under head coach Jeremy Colliton. Brookbank was Colliton’s assistant with the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the ‘Hawks. Brookbank is a former NHL defenseman who was a noted tough defenseman.
- New Jersey Devils (16-18-7) signed their head coach John Hynes to a multi-year contract extension. I was a bit surprised as, after making the post season last year, the team doesn’t look like they’ll make it this season. A report also indicates Devils GM Ray Shero will get an extension but nothing has been announced yet.
- Islanders head coach Barry Trotz recently moved into 4th place in coaching wins all-time with his 783 win. Only Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville and Ken Hitchcock have won more games. Trotz has turned the Islanders into a defensively responsible team. They’ve given up the fewest goals in the league this season whereas last season, they gave up the most.
- There was talk this week that the Lightning are nearing an extension for their head coach Jon Cooper. Cooper is in the final year of his contract. The ‘Bolts are the league’s top team and they’ve been impressive from the first game of the season.
NHL Insiders / Rumors
- Sportsnet reported this week that Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton, 25, could be moved via trade. In 41 games this season, Hamilton has recorded 6 goals and 8 assists. Hamilton was acquired from Calgary at last year’s Entry Draft. He was a top pairing defenseman with Calgary but is a 3rd pairing defenseman with Carolina. He led the NHL in goals from a defenseman last season with 17. Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland, a pending UFA, is also reportedly available via trade as the ‘Canes have talked contract with him but the two sides were not close in the financial assessment of the player. Ferland has recorded 12 goals and 7 assists in 34 games this season. He has missed some time with a concussion. The Hurricanes have been looking for scoring help since just about the start of the season. The ‘Canes are 28th in a 31 team league in goals for.
- Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, a pending UFA, is reportedly available but the price is a first round draft pick. St. Louis was interested in Howard but didn’t want to part with a first rounder (seems wise since the Blues are at the bottom of the league and will get an excellent 2019 draft pick).
- Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is reportedly available via trade. Zucc, 31, is in the final year of his contract and is unrestricted free agent in the summer. He admitted recently that the uncertainty around his situation has affected his play. Zuccarello has 4 goals and 14 points in 28 games this season and a -20 rating.
- TSN reported Blues forward Patrick Maroon, a pending UFA, will be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Maroon has 3 goals and 11 points in 32 games this season after signing with the Blues this summer as a UFA. The player is on a one year contract at $1.75 M/ season. Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnerson are also pending UFA’s and should be moved by the trade deadline. Bouwmeester, 35, is nowhere near the player he once was and has been a healthy scratch a few times this season.
- Recent reports indicate Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, a pending UFA, will re-sign in Vancouver before season’s end. Edler’s name has been mentioned in trade in the past 2 or so seasons but he has always maintained he wants to stay in Vancouver. Edler, 32, recently became the franchise leader in games played for a Canucks defenseman.
- Rangers center Kevin Hayes could be the biggest name to move at the trade deadline. Hayes, 26, has recorded 33 points in 39 games this season on 10 goals. People who’ve watched a few Rangers games this season say Hayes is the Rangers top player. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
IIHF World Juniors
- Some people were disappointed with Canada’s 6th place finish at this years World Juniors in Vancouver. Seems Hockey Canada has work to do to figure out how to get Canada back to near the top at the junior level. I did not catch much of the tournament myself preferring NHL games but it was the first time in 13 times hosting that Canada did not medal.
- Final placement in the tourney were:
- Gold – Finland
- Silver – USA
- Bronze – Russia
- 4th place – Switzerland
- 5th place – Sweden
- 6th place – Canada
- Team USA forward & Montreal Canadiens first rounder Ryan Poehling was named tournament MVP. He recorded 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games.
- Team Russia defenseman Alex Romanov was named the tournaments top defenseman. The player recorded 8 points on one goal during the tournament. Romanov is also a ‘Habs draft pick (2018 second round).
- USA goaltender Cayden Primeau, former NHL player Keith Primeau’s son, was named Player of the Game in the semi-final game (when the US defeated Russia 2-1). Primeau is also a Canadiens draft pick (from 2017).
- Canada’s captain Max Comtois played the tournament with a separated shoulder.
- A report from Finland indicated 544,000 citizen’s in Finland watched the goal medal game that started at 3 AM local time.
- ‘Habs GM Marc Bergevin indicated recently that he is not interested in trading prospects at the trade deadline to push for a post-season spot. The Canadiens are currently one point out of a wildcard spot. The organization has a number of top prospects that would garner interest from other teams.
- Carey Price decided to skip the All-Star game due to injury. He has to sit out a game either just before or just after the ASG which Bergevin indicated would be the Feb. 2 game against New Jersey (after the ASG).
- The NHL will apparently name a Price replacement quickly. Some fans were hoping for Freddy Andersen but he is also battling an injury plus resting instead of the ASG would seem wise.
- Price is 12 wins away from tying the ‘Habs franchise leader Jacques Plante for most wins by a Canadiens goaltender. Plante recorded 314 wins as a Canadien and Price has 302.
- The Flames are really rolling right now and are 2nd in the league in points.
- All-Star forward Johnny Gaudreau is on fire recently with 14 goals in his past 13 games and 13 points in his past 5 games. Gaudreau is 3rd in NHL scoring with 64 points.
- The Flames are the first team since the 1995-96 Penguins to have 4 players with 50 points or more after the team’s first 45 games of the season.
- Off-season addition Elias Lindholm has, after half the season played, eclipsed his highest career points and goals totals. He has 20 goals and 48 points this season and his career high before this season was 45 points and 16 goals.
- Defenseman Mark Giordano collected his 300th career assist on Monday. Giordano has recorded 42 points in the team’s first 40 games and fans want him to be considered for the Norris for the league’s top defenseman. Gio leads the league in plus/minus with a +29. He’s defying his age as he’s now 35 years old.
- The team also leads the league in shorthanded goals with 14.
- David Rittich has taken over the number one goaltender position for the Flames. In 21 appearances this season, he has a 15-4-3 record with a .921 SV%. Rittich is a restricted free agent as season’s end so the team needs to get him signed for a few seasons. Back-up Mike Smith (12-9-0) has an .886 SV% and a 3.09 GAA. Smith, 36, is a UFA at season’s end.
- Forward Michael Frolik has been unhappy with his situation in Calgary (he’s been a healthy scratch a few times) and his agent has spoken out publicly about it. Frolik has one more season left on his contract but has had numerous injuries this season. Not sure the organization will look to move the player at the trade deadline but they were reportedly unhappy with his agent’s public comments.
- Bill Peters was named Team Pacific head coach for the All-Star game in San Jose. He said he was honored to be named and will take his family with him to the event.
- Leafs have lost 3 of their past 4 games and have been shutout twice but are still third overall in the NHL in points. Babcock indicated after Monday’s 4-0 loss against Nashville that Nylander, Kadri and Marleau need to start producing a bit more offensively. Nylander has just one goal & 2 assists in 14 games since returning.
- The team has lost just one game this season when leading after the first period (17-1). Seems getting a lead for them is key.
- Forward Zach Hyman is nearing a return from his ankle injury. I heard Monday that Hyman will play Thursday against the Devils in New Jersey.
- Auston Matthews lost a bet with Finn Kasperi Kapanen on the World Juniors final game. The Finns won over the USA 3-2.
- Forward Andreas Johnsson is playing well recently. In his last 19 games, Johnsson has recorded 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points.
- Mitch Marner played in his 200 career game this past Saturday. He holds the franchise record for most assists after a players first 200 games (129 assists).
- Goaltender Garret Sparks is suffering from a concussion. No word on how much more time he will miss.
- John Tavares is one goal from 300 for his career.
- Caught part of the game Saturday against Vancouver and though forward Trevor Moore looked like an NHL player. Coach Babcock says the player will be an NHL’er but they want him playing as much as possible and playing 20 mins at the AHL level is better for him at this point than 8 minutes in the NHL. Moore went the college hockey route playing at the U of Denver. People say Moore’s emergence made former forward Josh Leivo expendable.
- Some experts expect the Leafs to make a deal for a defenseman before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Alex Pietrangelo’s name has been mentioned but it seems it would take very good players/prospects to acquire him. Leafs first rounder (2017) Timothy Liljegren name has been mentioned as possibly being moved as Rasmus Sandin (first round 2018) is as good or better than Liljegren. The other need is a back-up to Freddy Andersen as it’s risky to go into the post season with a rookie like Sparks.
- The team lost their first game in regulation on Sunday night since Nov. 27 going 15-1-1 over that period. The team leads the league in points with 66, 8 more points than second place Calgary.
- Nikita Kucherov had a 12 game point streak end on Sunday night. He recorded 8 goals and 27 points over the 12 games. Kucherov also recently hit the 400 career points mark – the first player from his 2011 draft class to reach the milestone. Kucherov went 58th overall in 2011.
- Twenty-two year old forward Brayden Point is second on the team in points with 54. He needs a new contract this summer (is a RFA).
- The Lightning have been to the Conference Finals 2 of the past 3 season’s so have to be a top pick to win the Cup this year – but anything can happen in the post-season. The Lightning lead the league with an average of 4.12 goals/per game; the league average is 3.02 goals / game.
- Forward Steven Stamkos recently played in his 700th career game. He’s recorded 715 points on 371 goals. Amazing.
- The Pens have won 10 of their past 12 games and had won 8 straight before losing Sunday night to Chicago. Goaltender Matt Murray has returned to form having won his past 7 starts.
- The Penguins signed restricted free agent forward Jake Guentzel to a 5 year contract at an annual rate of $6 M. Good deal for the Penguins. Jake is a proven playoff performer (42 points on 23 goals in 37 post season games). Pens GM Rutherford said Guentzel, 24, is part of the core of the Penguins. With the new contract, the Pens bought 2 of Guentzel’s UFA seasons.
- The Islanders are 9-1 in their past 10 games and goaltender Robin Lehner has won 6 straight decisions. Lehner is on just a one year contract and is unrestricted in the summer. His record this season is 11-6-3 in 21 appearances with a 2.18 GAA & a .927 SV%.
- Captain Anders Lee is also a pending UFA; there have been contract discussions with the Islanders and it does seem likely the player stays with the team but no contract has been agreed to yet.
- Forward Jordan Eberle (8 G & 10 A) is also pending UFA and there have been no contract discussions with the Islanders. Seems likely that Eberle will be traded by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Forward Brock Nelson is pending UFA, too. Nelson has 13 goals and 13 assists this season. Nelson, 27, has played his entire career with the Islanders.
Streaks & Milestones
- Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson has recorded a point in 13 straight games. It’s the longest point streak in Shark franchise history.
- LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick won his 300th career game this past Saturday. Quick is 5th overall in wins by a USA goaltender.
- Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored his 300th career goal also on Saturday. Kopitar is the 5th player in franchise history to record as many goals.
- Red Wings forward Thomas Vanek recently played in his 1,000 career game. He’s the first Austrian born player to reach the milestone. Vanek will most likely be dealt by the trade deadline as he’s a UFA in the summer.
- San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns also recently played in career game 1,000. Burns, 33, shows no signs of slowing down and is leading the league in points from a defenseman with 47 (Leafs Morgan Rielly is 2 points back).
- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 3 wins from becoming the winningest goaltender in Bruins history. Bruins goaltending legend Tiny Thompson recorded 252 wins with the Bruins organization and Rask has 249 wins with the Bruins.
- NY Rangers defenseman Marc Staal recently played in his 800th career game. Staal ranks 10th all-time in games played for a Rangers player.
- Florida Panthers forward Troy Brouwer recently played in his 800th career game.
- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recently skated in his 900th career game. Only Mario Lemieux (915) has played more games in a Penguins uniform.
- Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson became the franchise leader in points from a defenseman with 312.
- Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley recently played in his 1,000 career game.
- Bruins Patrice Bergeron recorded his 300th career goal the other day.
- Montreal placed defenseman David Schlemko on waivers and the Flyers claimed former Ottawa/Vancouver goaltender Mike McKenna off waivers.
- Predators forward Filip Forsberg returned Monday night against the Leafs after missing 17 games with an injury.
- Winnipeg Jets top defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is on the shelf with an ankle injury. The team indicates it won’t be until after the Jan. 25 All-Star game that Byfuglien will be available to play.
- Kings forward Carl Hagelin returned Saturday from missing time with an injury. Hagelin has won 2 Cups and is a UFA in the summer. I expect the LA Kings to trade him to a playoff team by the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
- Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler returned to the line-up Sunday after missing 23 games with a broken jaw.
- Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal was placed on the injury reserve list. He’s played in just 7 games this season after having spinal fusion surgery this past off-season. His ability to continue his career seems in jeopardy.
- Minnesota Wild will be without defenseman Matt Dumba probably until next season. Dumba tore his pectoral muscle and required surgery. The Wild said he’ll miss a minimum of 3 months.
Odds & Ends
- Reports are that there is a lot of pressure in Minnesota (20-17-3) to make the post-season. The team is currently tied with the Ducks for the final wildcard spot in the West. With General Manager Paul Fenton in his first season as GM (he didn’t hire head coach Bruce Boudreau), there is talk that if the Wild can’t get into the post-season, Boudreau could be replaced.
- Ducks forward Ryan Kesler is having a tough season. He has just 6 points in 40 games and is a -14 this season. He did have off-season hip surgery but that’s not good production for a player making $6.875 M this season.
- Former NHL player Dominic Moore signed in the Swiss league. His contract is for the remainder of the Swiss season. Moore, 38, had hoped to continue his NHL career and recently participated the in Spengler Cup for Canada.
- Red Wings center Dylan Larkin set a franchise record when he scored his 4th OT goal this season.
- Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie became the franchise leader in points from a defenseman. Barrie has 278 points with the Avs franchise.
- Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray became just the 5th person to play in 1,000 regular season games and manage 1,000 regular season games. Murray had a successful career as a forward playing mostly with Chicago. The 4 others who have achieved the same mark are Sharks GM Doug Wilson, former ‘Habs player Bob Gainey, Bobby Clarke and Bob Pulford.
- Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is one game from tying the ‘Bolts franchise record for games played by a defenseman (662 games). Hedman already hold the franchise lead for goals, assists and points for a Lightning defenseman. Hedman, 28, won his first Norris trophy last season.
- The Ducks are struggling with a 0-6-2 record in their past 8 games.
- Vegas has been playing very well recently going 16-3-3 in their past 21 games.
- Vancouver is struggling to score and have been shutout 4 of their past 7 games. Doesn’t help that their points leader, Elias Pettersson, out of action with an MCL sprain (knee).
- Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has 198 points in his last 200 games in the regular season. He’s on pace for 44 goals and 103 points this season. He’s producing but the Oilers don’t get a lot of offense outside of Draisaitl, McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
- The Oilers were 9-10-1 in 20 games under former head coach Todd McLellan and were outscored 66-57. Since Hitchcock took over, the team is 10-9-2 and have outscored their opponents a collective 65-60. Seems to point to the roster not being strong as opposed to lack of good coaching.
- San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski has 25 goals in 44 games this season (he scored 22 all of last season) and was selected to attend the All-Star game. Pavelski, 34, is an unrestricted free agent and there have been no apparent contract talks between the team and player.
- The Senators and forward Mark Stone are said to be starting contract discussions soon. Stone says he wants to stay with Ottawa. He signed a one year deal with the team this past summer for $7.35 M so it seems it will take a lot of cash to get him re-signed. He has recorded 47 points in 42 games this season on 20 goals. He is reportedly the leader of the team.
- The Canucks extended their AHL affiliate agreement with the Utica Comets. The team was looking at other options but decided to stick with Utica.
- Canucks GM Jim Benning father passed away over Christmas. Elmer Benning was a long time Montreal Canadiens scout. Oilers defenseman Matt Benning is his grandson and Jim’s brother, Brian, son.
- The Sabres terminated forward Patrik Berglund’s contract after he didn’t show up to a team practice. Seems the player wanted out of the contract. Not sure what the issue was; some people have said the player wants privacy on the matter.
- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin decided to skip the All-Star game and instead rest. The January 26th All-Star game bumps up against the Capitals bye week so Ovi will have extra time to rest and be ready for the stretch run and post-season.
Here are some NHL news items from around the league:
- The BOG met Dec. 3 & 4th in Sea Island, Georgia and a few items that I heard were discussed included:
- Of course, the Seattle franchise was approved and will start in the 2021-22 season. Many people were happy with this news as Seattle is a terrific city and has a long history of successful sports franchises. The new Seattle team will join the Pacific Division and the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division.
- The board was given a figure of between $81 M – $85 M with a probable figure of $83 M for the 2019-20 salary cap. In the past 5 seasons, the cap has increased an average of 3.7% each season.
- 2019-20 – $83 M *an estimate as this point
- 2018-19 – $79.5 M
- 2017-18 – $75 M
- 2016-17 – $73 M
- 2015-16 – $71.4 M
- 2014-15 – $69 M
- The escrow has been set at 13.5% for the next quarter. Players get 13.5% taken from each pay cheque (players don’t appreciate it but it’s related to the how the cap is calculated).
- Seems there are still some owners that want more teams in the post season. Currently, 16 teams make the post season but the owners see it as an opportunity for increased revenue for their teams. Commissioner Gary Bettman has been against this idea preferring to stick with the 16 teams. The current discussion seems to be 2-4 more teams per conference qualifying for the post-season.
- There was some discussions around shortening game intermissions from 18 mins to 15 mins to reduce the length of games. A shorter intermission could cut into concessions sales, though.
- Gary Bettman said at the BOG meeting if Ottawa can’t get it together for a new downtown arena they are prepared to stay the course with the Canadian Tire Center in Kanata. Bettman has tried to wade into civic disagreements in the past with NHL teams with mixed success. Calgary’s mayor did not seem to want any part of the Commissioner’s help but in Edmonton, their previous mayor Stephen Mandel did have success working with the league to get a downtown arena. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was not at the recent BOG meeting.
- The NHL sees the All-Star game, that’s Saturday, January 26, 2019 in San Jose, as a key date to get plans discussed with the NHLPA around a 2020 World Cup. So far the NHLPA has not indicated either way whether they are interested in another World Cup and the league is awaiting a response from them.
- The 2019 NHL All-Star game will be played on Saturday (Jan. 26) not Sunday as was the case in previous years. The league has gotten the game scheduled for prime time on Saturday. The skills competition will be held on the Friday. The BOG usually meets during All-Star game weekend.
- Time frame for announcing a team name is this summer. The Seattle group plans to strategically make announcements about the franchise in an effort to keep fans interested in advance of their first season in 2021. Apparently, Jay Deutsch, one of the Seattle investors, is working with fellow investor, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, on the name.
- The franchise added an additional 17,000 fans to their season ticket wait list when the team was secured on December 6. They already had 32,000 fans making season ticket deposits.
- The cost for the KeyArena renovations was first set at $700 M but is now $850 M and the construction is starting if not already, very soon. The Oak View Group is investing $1.6 B into this project (includes the $850 M reno fee). There is no current plan to include tax payer money. The KeyArena reno project work runs to April/May of 2021. KeyArena will host concerts from April/May 2021 until the NHL team starts the season. This will help with adding some revenue to pay for costs plus there could be a building naming deal, as well, to further help offset costs. The new training facility will reportedly cost between $70 M – $100 M.
- Victor de Bonis, COO of the Seattle group, said the KeyArena renovation is more of a gutting of the entire building; the only part that will remain is the roof.
- As far as a General Manager for the Seattle team, Tod Leiweke said they are in no rush and want to see how next season goes and who does well then. Some names I’ve heard as possibilities, Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon and Leafs AGM Laurence Gilman; both have experience and good success on the expansion process. Gilman was a consultant to Vegas GM George McPhee on the expansion draft, which turned out exceptionally well for Vegas. Other names include Detroit’s GM Ken Holland who has this season and next remaining on his contract. Former Canucks GM Mike Gillis could get consideration but he has not been working with a team for a number of years.
- The Seattle franchise team president Tod Leiweke has been talking a lot to Vegas GM George McPhee about what’s involved in building up an expansion team and said McPhee has given him very good advice.
- Experts are saying an expansion draft for Seattle would be held around June 2021 with the same rules as Vegas. Vegas is exempt from the expansion draft.
- The Oak View Group wants to bring NBA basketball back to Seattle but the NBA does not want them talking about it. The NBA will open discussions when it’s right for them, apparently.
- The OVG has already paid $100 M of the $650 M expansion fee; will pay an additional $200 M in September 2019 and the remaining ($350 M) by 2021.
GM’s & Coach News
- The Anaheim Ducks signed their General Manager Bob Murray to a 2 year extension which means he is under contract to the Ducks until the end of the 2021-22 season. Murray is the 4th longest tenured NHL GM, only Nashville’s David Poile (1997), Red Wings Ken Holland (1997), Sharks Doug Wilson (2003) have been running their team longer. Murray’s contract exceeds Ducks key players Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry’s contracts by one season (Perry & Getzlaf see their contracts expire June 30, 2021). Murray is reportedly looking to build a younger roster in his remaining time with the team.
- The Blue Jackets announced they are switching the roles of their assistant coaches: Brad Shaw is moving to oversee the defenseman and the Jackets other assistant Brad Larsen will oversee the forwards. The change was made in consultation with GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
- The San Jose Sharks did some shuffling of the coaches. Rob Zettler, who was in charge of the team’s defense, is now going to view the game from the pressbox, the team’s “eye in the sky”. Assistant coach Dave Barr who was the “eye in the sky” is moving down to the bench and will handle the forwards. Steve Sprott switches from working with the forwards to with the defenseman.
- Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson is helping out on the St. Louis Blues bench as an assistant coach to interim head coach Craig Berube. Robinson said he’ll be with the team as long as GM Doug Armstrong needs but sounds like they’ll reassess at Christmas.
- Sportsnet reported Monday that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo could be available. Blues are having a terrible season, 29th in the 31 team league. Pietrangelo has one more year left on his contract after this season at which point he’ll be a UFA. Would seem to be a big decision by GM Armstrong to trade their captain. Nick Kypreos indicated the Leafs may be a trade partner with Zaitsev going to St. Louis.
- Carolina are looking for scoring help. The organization was interested in the William Nylander situation with the Leafs as they had interested in the player but are now, of course, looking elsewhere.
- The New York Islanders and their captain, Anders Lee, are in negotiations on a long term deal. Lee has recorded 22 points on 11 goals this season and is in the final year of a 4 year, $15 M contract he signed back in the summer of 2015. Lee will be unrestricted this summer. Sounds like it would be about $7 M – $7.5 M / season to get Lee on a 6 year deal. Lee recorded 62 points (40 goals) in 82 games last season.
- The St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers are both apparently looking for a goaltender. Blues were interested in pending UFA Red Wings Jimmy Howard but the price was a first round pick which the Blues did not want to pay.
- The Leafs play their next 4 games on the road and then have 3 games at home before Christmas. That’s 7 games in 14 days; with travel it’s a tough schedule for the team. The team plays Tuesday in Carolina against former Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney and then pop down to Florida for games against the Lightning and Panthers. They wrap up their 5 game road trip in New Jersey next Tuesday (Dec. 18). The players Mom’s will be with the team for the two games in Florida which seems to be special for the players.
- Seemed to mix reviews on the details of the Nylander signing, 6 years @ $6.96 M /season. Leafs fans were ecstatic but some people see it as Nylander won the negotiation. The team was originally offering $6 M per season for 6 years and Nylander got it to $7 M /season for 6 years. The player’s cap hit in the first year is $10.2 M with a $6.9 M cap hit in the remaining 5 years; the player lost nothing by missing 25% of the season. Nylander is making more than David Pastrnak who currently has 20 goals in 30 games this season and also more than MVP runner-up Nathan MacKinnon. It’s mostly about cap management for the Leafs as they have a cap crunch starting next season because of the Matthews & Marner contracts plus Gardiner is a UFA. GM Dubas really wanted Nylander back in Toronto and found a way to make the numbers work under the cap. Helps the Leafs a lot that the cap is increasing next season to $83 M. Some experts wonder if more players (RFA’s) will stretch out their negotiation until December 1st as the player did not lose anything by doing so. Nylander was the first RFA to get near the December 1 deadline before signing.
- Zach Hyman was suspended for 2 games for the hit against Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy. NHL Player Safety deemed the hit late. Connor Brown was moved to the top line with Tavares and Marner in Monday’s practice. He’s a speedy player that I hope can get going offensively.
- Auston Matthews has 16 goals in 16 games played (he missed 14 games with a shoulder injury). His shooting percentage is an incredible 29%, 16 goals on 55 shots.
- Sounds like GM Dubas wants to get a head start on contract negotiations for pending RFA’s Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The two players reportedly want the other to be the first one to start discussions with the team to see what the other guy signs for. There is talk that Auston Matthews could get an offer sheet in the summer. Teams can start discussing with unsigned RFA’s who’s contracts are up after the entry draft. Basically a team pitches a huge contract to the player and the original team matches or receives 4 first round draft picks.
- The team signed Marlies defenseman Calle Rosen to a 2 year one-way deal for $750,000 / season effective the start of next season. This adds some depth on the Leafs blue line. There are no guarantee the team can get pending UFA Jake Gardiner on a new contract and defenseman Ron Hainsey in also in the final year of his deal and unrestricted in the summer. Rosen, 24, can apparently play on either the left or right side on defense. In 24 Marlies games this season, the Swede has 19 points on 17 assists.
- No current scuttlebutt around signing pending UFA Jake Gardiner. I am really hoping the team can retain Gardiner as he’s a strong player, a leader for the team on the blue line. Gardiner has 17 points in 30 games. Jake apparently loves being a Leaf but he should get a lot of interest as a UFA. He’s very solid and seems to be a quality person. It’s expected if he stays a Leaf, he’d probably not make as much as he could with another team.
- Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin & Timothy Liljegren were both selected to play for Team Sweden at the upcoming World Juniors in Vancouver. Liljegren injured his ankle on the weekend so it’s not clear how much time he’ll miss. Additionally, 6th round selection from 2018, Swede forward Pontus Holmberg, was invited to the Swedes WJC selection camp. Filip Kral a Czech d man drafted in the 5th round in 2018 was invited to Team Czech camp.
- The team have 19 wins in their first 30 games which is tied for the second most in franchise history after 30 games. In their past 10 games, the team is 7-2-1.
- Flames lead the league in 30 point players with four: Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm and Tkachuk.
- The team’s top line of Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm have accounted for 43% of the team’s goals this season.
- The team is 13-2-0 when scoring first. The team has also recorded four 5 goal periods whereas the rest of the league combined has three. The Flames are 5th overall in the league in goals scored.
- Goaltender Mike Smith, after a terrible start to the season, has won 5 straight.
- Second line center Mikael Backlund was placed on injured reserve with a suspected concussion after Wild defenseman Matt Dumba hit him hard in a recent game.
- Off-season UFA signing James Neal has had a very trying season with 6 points on 3 goals after 31 games. Neal signed a 5 year contract this summer at $5.75 M /season. Just has not been a fit so far in Calgary for Neal.
- Off-season addition Elias Lindholm has tied a career high in goals with 16 after 31 games played. Lindholm has been a terrific addition to the team; plays on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan and is a strong 2 way forward. Lindholm is 24 years old and signed for 5 more seasons after this one on a team-friendly $4.85 M /season contract.
- Flames forward Mark Jankowski, 24, recently played in his 100th career game. Jankowski is a 3rd/4th line center that is still improving.
- The Flyers parted way with defenseman coach Gord Murphy (when Hextall left) and brought in veteran NHL coach Rick Wilson who was an assistant in Dallas for the past 14 seasons. Apparently, the team’s defense is the most pressing issue with management. Seems defenseman Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere has regressed the most this season and Wilson will be working to get these two, plus their entire defense group, back on track. Gostisbehere is a team worst -13 this season. Provorov is a highly rated player for the Flyers and just 21 years old but recorded 41 points last season and tracking towards a 29 point season this season. Provorov is in the final year of his entry level contract and contract talks have apparently stalled. The player said that is not affecting his play.
- New GM Chuck Fletcher is on the team’s current 5 game road trip (Flyers won first game 6-2 against the Sabres and lost 7-1 against the Jets with games against Calgary, Edm and Vancouver remaining). He’s indicated he is taking some time to get to know the players and staff before making any changes. Seems head coach Dave Hakstol is safe for now but the team will be challenged to make the post-season.
- Hakstol recently moved into 3rd place in all-time Flyers games coached. Hakstol has coached 273 Flyers games. Fred Shero is the Flyers leader in games coached with 554 games and Mike Keenan coached 320 Flyers games.
- Fletcher is the first Flyers GM since Russ Farwell was hired in 1990 that did not play for the Flyers.
- Starting goaltender Brian Elliott is nearing a return from injury. The team has struggled keeping the puck out of their net in Elliott’s absence.
- Number one center & team captain, Claude Giroux, is having an excellent season so far for the team. He leads the team in points by 15. Giroux has 11 G & 25 A (36 pts) in 28 Flyers games.
- The ‘Hawks are tied with the Kings for the fewest points in the league and the team has won just 5 games in regulation time this season. The team has lost 7 straight games and are 3-11-2 under new head coach Jeremy Colliton (the team was 6-6-3 under Joel Quenneville). Some wonder if the Colliton hire was the right one especially following a Hall of Fame coach like Quenneville. The team has lost 17 of their past 20 games.
- Captain Jonathan Toews is having a very good season despite the ‘Hawks lack of team success. Toews is on pace for 34 goals and 63 points. He had a tough last season with 20 goals and 52 points. Toews reportedly looks faster and he worked on it in the summer.
- Defenseman Brandon Manning and Jan Rutta are apparently available.
- Artem Anisimov suffered a concussion on the weekend and is out of action.
- The Stars are 10-3-1 at home this season; good for second best home record. They are 7-1-1 in their last 9 games at home and have won 4 straight home games. The team is 6-8-2 on the road. Head coach Jon Montgomery said the other day he wants the team to play with more energy and passion on the road.
- Two Finnish defenseman, Esa Lindell & rookie Miro Heiskanen, have really stepped up in John Klingberg’s absence (broken hand). Lindell, 23, is playing over 24 mins / game this season & 19 year old Heiskanen is playing 23 mins/game.
- Klingberg is reportedly recovering well from the broken hand suffered on Nov. 8th. He is expected back in the Stars line-up on December 27.
- Center Martin Hanzal returned to game action after missing 10 months due to spinal fusion surgery. Hanzal played 12:22 mins in his return on Friday and said post-game it was “the hardest game of my life”. Sounds like it will take a few weeks for Hanzal to feel comfortable again in game action.
- Defenseman Marc Methot is day to day with a lower body injury. Connor Carrick is out 3 more weeks with a foot injury. Stephen Johns is day to day recovering from a concussion. Johns has yet to play this season.
- Forward Gemel Smith was placed on waivers by the Stars and was claimed by the Boston Bruins.
- The team is 7-2-1 under new head coach Ken Hitchcock and have won 4 straight home games. The team is 11-1-2 in one goal games this season.
- Finland-native goaltender Mikko Koskinen is playing well for the Oilers. He has a 9-3 record overall with a 2.06 GAA with a .929 SV%. In 6 home games this season, Koskinen is 6-0 with 3 shutouts and a .972 SV%. Koskinen, 30, is on a one year deal and unrestricted at season’s end. Cam Talbot is a UFA at season’s end (or, more precisely, on June 30, 2019 at midnight) as well.
- The team is sticking with McDavid and Draisaitl together on the top line for now (the team has tried to split them up to distribute scoring but seems to work better with them together on a line, at least in the short term). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins centers the second Oilers line. RNH is having a very good season for the team with 26 points in 30 games.
- Defenseman Oscar Klefbom, 25, has emerged as the team’s number one defenseman, particularly since Hitch took over. Klefbom is playing 26 mins per game and strong both offensively and defensively. In 30 games this season, Klefbom has 15 points.
- Hitch has apparently worked with the players on gap positioning – where, in for example the d zone, the forwards moves down to around the face-off dot in the d zone supporting the defenseman better and then moving up ice as a 5 man unit. I’m enjoying watching the Oilers under Hitch as he’s from Edmonton and a legend as far as NHL coaches go (3rd all time in wins with 830 wins). He shares an incredible amount of detail about the game with anyone who’ll listen.
- The team plays the Avalanche and Winnipeg (Tues and Thursday) on the road in what should be two tough, hard fought games.
- Forward Alex Chiasson is one goal from his career high in goals (13) with 53 games remaining in the season. Chiasson was a PTO signing by the Oilers but finds himself now on the Oilers top line with McDavid and Draisaitl.
- Forward Drake Caggiula is injured and not playing; apparently it’s a hand injury.
World Juniors – Dec. 26 in Vancouver & Victoria
- Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta were awarded the 2021 World Junior Tournament. Overall, Canada is hosting this tournament 6 times in the next 13 years. Seems the IIHF likes to pair an NHL city and a team with a Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) franchise together in a year. The next 5 years the host cities are as follows
- 2019 Vancouver / Victoria *starts Dec. 26, 2018
- 2020 Czech Republic
- 2021 Edmonton / Red Deer
- 2022 *not yet announced
- 2023 Russia
- The Detroit Red Wings will not be making forward Michael Rasmussen available for the World Junior tournament. The player has recorded 5 goals (3 on the PP) and 9 points in 26 Wings games this season while playing 13 minutes a game. Rasmussen is Canadian. Filip Zadina will play for Team Czech at the tournament. Zadina is playing for the Wings AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he has 15 points in 23 games.
- Doesn’t seem as though the Canadiens will make 18 year old forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi available for the World Juniors. Kotkaniemi would have played for Team Finland. The team indicated the player is getting better every game and they don’t really have a replacement for him on their roster. The player has 15 points in 30 ‘Habs games. He is currently the youngest player in the league at 18 years. Kotkaniemi recently said Artturi Lehkonen is his mentor on the team and helps him with day to day things. There is a language barrier for Kotkaniemi as his primary language is Finnish.
Restricted Free Agents
- Penguins forward Jake Guentzal is in the final year of his entry level contract and will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Guentzal’s stats compared to William Nylander:
- Nylander got $7 M /season for 6 years, I expect Guentzal should get at least that, probably more, from the Penguins this summer.
Milestone & Streaks
- The Sabres won 10 straight games in November and have since lost 5 straight (2 in overtime). The players held a meeting to discuss things and how to get back to winning.
- Wild forward Zach Parise recently played in his 900th career game.
- LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty recently became the franchise leader in defenseman assists with his 334th career assist. Rob Blake, current Kings GM, had previously held the record. Doughty also recently played in his 800th career game. Doughty is building a Hall of Fame career, 2 Olympic gold medals, 2 Cups and a Norris trophy plus 800 games. He just turned 29 years old so should have 6 or so good season’s left in his career.
- Vegas forward William Karlsson became the first player in franchise history to record 100 career points. Karlsson reached the milestone in just 112 Golden Knights games. Karlsson is on pace for 26 goals this season (he had 43 last season).
- Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall recently played in his 900th career game, all with the Red Wings. Kronwall is just the 3rd Wings defenseman to play as many games with the Wings. Nicklas Lidstrom (1564) and Marcel Pronovost (983) are the two Wings defenseman who’ve played more games for the Winged Wheel.
- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd overall in 2011) recently played in his 300th game. Huberdeau, 25, is in his 7th NHL season and leads the Panthers in points with 34 in 28 games. The Quebec-native is tracking towards a 100 point season.
- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos recorded his 700th career point on Monday. Stamkos is running hot right now with 12 points in his past 7 games including a Monday night hat trick against the Rangers.
- Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is one point from 900 career points.
2019 Outdoor Games
- The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will meet in an outdoor game on January 1, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana.
- There will be a second outdoor game on February 23, 2019 with the Penguins playing the Flyers at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
- Canadiens defenseman Xavier Oulette cleared waivers and was assigned to the ‘Habs AHL affiliate in Laval.
- St. Louis Blues goaltender Chad Johnson was placed on waivers by the team.
- Bruins young forward Jake DeBrusk is out of action after getting hit on the back of the head with a puck during a recent game. DeBrusk is experiencing concussion like symptoms.
- Penguins veteran forward Patric Hornqvist returned from missing games with a concussion only to get injured again. The most recent injury is not a concussion but upper body. The team reports Hornqvist is day to day with the injury.
- Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is two to three weeks away from returning to game action from a broken foot suffered on Nov. 15. Back-up goaltender Louis Domingue has played will for the ‘Bolts in Vasilevskiy absence; the team is 10-2 since Vasilevskiy was injured.
- In Ottawa, leading scoring Matt Duchene is out week to week with a groin injury and forward Bobby Ryan is out indefinitely with a concussion.
- Arizona’s starting goaltender Antti Raanta was played on injury reserve with a lower body injury. The team indicated the injury could mean Raanta will miss the rest of the season. Darcy Kuemper, Adin Hill and Calvin Pickard are Arizona’s goaltenders and Coyotes GM John Chayka indicated the team is not looking to trade for a goaltender saying the 3 goaltenders currently on the roster want a chance to play more.
- Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy returned to game action after missing 20 games with a concussion. The player is a RFA and in the final year of his contract. There was talk the player was asking for over $7 M /season on a long term deal.
- The Predators are missing a few key players currently due to injury. Forwards Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Kyle Turris and defenseman PK Subban. It’s over $25 M / season worth of Predators players on injury reserve.
- Ducks key defenseman Cam Fowler is progressing from facial fractures after being hit in the face with a puck. Timeline for his return to game action is mid-January. Ducks forward Patrick Eaves has a rib problem and is out indefinitely; been a tough 18 months for Eaves as he missed most of last season with injury and has played just 5 games this season.
- Panthers exciting young forward Vincent Trocheck broke his ankle in a game recently and his season is probably over.
- Canucks center Brandon Sutter (shoulder) is expected back before Christmas and forward Sven Baertschi has started skating; he recovering from a concussion.
Odds & Ends
- Canucks forward Sam Gagner was called up from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL to the Canucks but has since been returned to the Marlies. There is some talk the Canucks made trade the player with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Blackhawks may have interest. Gagner, 29, said he was really disappointed at the demotion and wants to play at the NHL level, if not with Vancouver than elsewhere. He is in the second year of a 3 year contract that pays him $3.15 M /season. He continues to collect that even in the AHL.
- Jets Patrik Laine is on pace for 59 goals; he currently has 21 goals in 29 games.
- The New York Islanders will play 21 regular season games at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island during each of the 2019-20 & 2020-21 seasons. The other home games will take place at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The team is planning to have a new building ready in Belmont Park on Long Island in time for the 2021-22 season.
- Canucks rookie forward Elias Pettersson has recorded two 5 point games this season. Mathew Barzal had three 5 games last season, the only rookie ever to record three 5 point games.
- Montreal has allowed 3 goals or less in 8 straight games.
- New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider is struggling to return to form after off-season hip surgery. In 8 appearances this season, Schneider, 32, is 0-5-1 with a 4.29 GAA and a .862 SV%. Schneider last recorded a win December 27, 2017. Keith Kinkaid has taken over as the Devils number one goaltender.
- No news on what Columbus plans to do with their 2 high profile UFA’s, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin. I don’t see either player back in Columbus next season. The team would be wise to trade both by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
- Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar is on pace for 33 goals and 33 assists which would be career highs. Tatar currently has 12 goals and 12 assists and the team is very happy with his play. Head coach Claude Julien said recently Tatar is a “warrior”.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the NHL in points with 47 and are 9-1-0 in their past 10 games (while missing their starting goaltender Vasilevskiy who was injured Nov. 10). They also lead the league in goals with 4.06 goals/game and have scored at least 5 goals in 8 of their past 12 games. The ‘Bolts have to be a strong favorite for Cup champs. The team has been to the Eastern Conference finals in two of the past 3 seasons so have valuable playoff experience.
- Capitals Alex Ovechkin has an active 11 game point streak game and leads the NHL in goals with 22. Ovi is on pace for 62 goals. He is chasing an interesting record- most consecutive 20 goal seasons. Current leaders:
- Marcel Dionne 17 seasons
- Mats Sundin 17 season
- Jaromir Jagr 17 seasons
- Mike Gartner 15 seasons
- Alex Ovechkin 14 seasons
- Michel Goulet 14 seasons
- On the Coyotes/Chicago Nick Schmaltz for Dylan Strome deal, after 6 games with Arizona, Schmaltz has 3 goals and 3 assists whereas Strome has 3 goals and 1 assist in 7 ‘Hawks games.
- Vegas is 8-2-0 in their past 10 games and seem to have found their game after a slow start.
- ‘Habs forward Max Domi has one less point than Leafs star John Tavares. Domi signed a 2 year deal at $3.15 M /season in the summer.
- Max Domi’s teammate Johnathan Drouin is also having an excellent season with 10 G, 16 A and 26 points in 30 games while covering defensive responsibilities as a center. Drouin, 23, is tracking to set career highs in goals and points.
- Red Wings young center Dylan Larkin is on pace for a career year, as well. After 31 games, Larkin has 12 goals and 28 points. His career high in goals is 23 and points, 61 (he’s on pace for 77 points this season). Larkin has 3 OT goals this season already; with one more OT goal Larkin will set a Red Wings franchise record for 4 OT goals in a season. Larkin, 22, signed a 5 year deal at $6.1 M in the summer. Some experts believe the Michigan native will be named Red Wings captain next season.
- Doesn’t seem there has been progress towards Ottawa getting pending UFA forward Matt Duchene signed. Ottawa’s other star forward Mark Stone also is a UFA at season’s end and can sign a new deal after January 1, 2019. Some people see these as related as if one decides to stay, the other might. It was reported recently that if Duchene and the Senators cannot get close to a deal by this season’s trade deadline (Feb. 25, 2019), he’ll be traded. Duchene reportedly likes Ottawa but also wants to win; he been to the post-season just twice in his career.
- Pending UFA Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, 34, is having an excellent season with a team-leading 19 goals. The Sharks captain had 22 goals last season. There have been no apparent contract talks with the Sharks captain. Not sure if Sharks GM Doug Wilson would look to move the forward at the trade deadline.
- Sharks young forward Timo Meier, 22, is on pace for 40 goals and is in the final year of his entry level contract.
- Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel ranks 3rd in multi-point games this season with 14. Eichel, 22, leads the Sabres in scoring with 36 points on 9 goals this season.
- Sabres GM Jason Botterill has indicated he plans to start contract discussions with pending UFA Jeff Skinner in the new year. Skinner has 20 goals in 30 Sabres games and has developed excellent chemistry with captain Jack Eichel. Chances seem good that Skinner could reach a deal with the Sabres as the player reportedly likes being close to family in the Toronto area and he’s fit in very well with the Sabres. Plus, Sabres owner Terry Pegula has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to spend to get the player’s he wants.
- There is a holiday roster freeze from midnight on Dec. 19th to midnight on Dec. 27.
As per usual, there is quite a bit happening around the NHL. Here are a few news & notes items:
Flyers fire GM Ron Hextall
- Flyers President Paul Holmgren announced Monday that the team had dismissed Executive VP & GM Ron Hextall of his duties. Assistant GM & Director of Player Personnel Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy have also been let go. Holmgren indicated the future of Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is in the hands of the yet-to-be-named GM. Pryor was Hextall’s right hand person and had been with the Flyers organization for the past 20 years; he oversaw the team’s draft selection process. Assistant coach Murphy had been responsible to the team’s defenseman. As for the reason for Hextall’s departure, it was reported that Holmgren ran out of patience with the lack of success on the ice. Holmgren was a Flyers GM in the past and was known to make deals and shake things up when the team was not winning but Hextall did not appear to operate the same. Hextall was known to preach patience but in the end, it seems Holmgren ran out it with respect to Hextall.
- Former LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who was an adviser to Hextall in the Flyers front office, was offered to stay on with the Flyers even though he was brought into the Flyers organization by and to work with Hextall. Flyers President Holmgren indicated they’d like Lombardi to advise on the GM search and stay on even when the new GM is hired.
- After 24 games played this season, the Flyers have a record of 10-12-2. The team has used 5 different goaltenders and, in a 31 team league, are 28th in goals against with an average of 3.58 goals against/game. Former Marlies goaltender Calvin Pickard was placed on waivers by the team on Wednesday. In 11 appearances this season, Pickard’s record was 4-2-2 a 4.01 GAA and a .863 SV%.
- I caught most of the game Saturday night when the Flyers played in Toronto and it was an embarrassing display by the Flyers who lost 6-0.
- TSN reported Wednesday that the leading candidate to replace Hextall is former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher who is currently working in the front office of the New Jersey Devils, with their GM Ray Shero. The Devils reportedly OK’d the Flyers talking to Fletcher about the opportunity. Fletcher is scheduled to meet with the Flyers on Thursday (29 Nov). The Flyers did indicate they plan to move quickly and have a new GM in place as soon as possible.
- One of the Flyers top forwards, Wayne Simmonds is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019 so the new GM will have look at that soon after taking over.
- All signs point to the NHL Board of Governors approving Seattle as the NHL’s 32nd franchise during the Dec. 3&4 meetings. This will be a big NHL news day.
- Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday that the KeyArena renovations will be completed for the start of the 2020 NHL season.
Signings / Trades
- Rangers forward Kevin Hayes is a pending unrestricted free agent and Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said they are taking a “wait and see” approach regarding possible contract negotiations. Gorton is going to see how the team plays leading up to the February 25, 2019 trade deadline. Hayes, 26, has reportedly been the team’s top forward this season.
- The Coyotes traded forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini to Chicago for forward Nick Schmaltz. All three players in the deal were former 1st round selections. Strome was drafted 3rd overall in 2015 (before Mitch Marner); Perlini was drafted 12th overall in 2014; Schmaltz was drafted 20th overall in 2014. Apparently the Blackhawks are hoping Strome can play 2nd line center behind Jonathan Toews. Strome and Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat played together in the OHL, with the Erie Otters (McDavid was the other player on the line), and the team is hoping they’ll be able to develop chemistry again. The Coyotes ran out of patience with Strome and he’s not one the league’s better skaters. Similarly, Schmaltz fell out of favor in Chicago where he had 21 goals and 52 points last season. This season he’s recorded 11 points on 2 goals in 23 ‘Hawks games. The Coyotes are 1-4 in their past 5 games and Chicago is 2-4 in their most recent 6 games. The ‘Hawks are 3-5-2 under new head coach Jeremy Colliton who reportedly signed a 3 year contract at $1.4 M /season.
- Sounds like the Hurricanes may make a move to change their 3 goalie situation. They have Peter Mrazek, Curtis McElhinney and Scott Darling. Darling may be the odd goalie out.
- The Leafs are 10-3-0 in their past 13 games and just got Auston Matthews back from a shoulder injury. They’ve won 6 straight games at home (are 9-5 at home this season) and the team is super entertaining to watch especially when they play at ScotiaBank Arena. Wednesday night’s game against San Jose was, again, fun to watch with Matthews scoring 2 goals and Marner collecting 3 assists.
- The team is 12-0 when scoring first this season; 13-0 when leading after 2 periods and 17-1 when scoring 3 or more goals.
- Patrick Marleau’s 1,600th career game on Monday night was special, too. Marleau is only the 11th player all-time to play in as many games. Players who’ve played more games than Marleau:
- Howe 1767 games
- Messier 1756 games
- Jagr 1733 games
- Francis 1731 games
- Recchi 1652 games
- Chelios 1651 games
- Andreychuk 1639 games
- Scott Stevens 1635 games
- Larry Murphy 1615 games
- Ray Bourque 1612 games
- Marleau has an incredible active games played streak of 733 games. He is also only the 25th player to score a goal against all 30 NHL teams and he’s the only player in NHL history to record a game winning goal against all 31 NHL teams.
- Auston Matthews 12 goals puts him in 3rd place for most goals by a Leafs player in his first 3 seasons. Rick Vaive had 96 goals and Matthews has 86 with three quarters of the season remaining.
- Mitch Marner recorded 8 assists in the recent 3 home games. His price as a restricted free agent keeps going up but, at the player’s request, contract discussions are awaiting until after the season.
- John Tavares is on pace for a career high in goals and points. He’s on pace for 49 goals and 92 points. His previous career high in goals is 38 and points, 86.
- The team plays 7 of their next 8 games on the road starting Saturday evening against Minnesota. The Wild are one of the league’s top teams in their own building with an 8-3-2 record.
- No one knows what will happen with the Saturday, December 1st 5 PM EST deadline for William Nylander to play in the NHL this season. Current scuttlebutt is, if Leafs can sign him by December 1, this would be his final season in Toronto. One suggestion is the Leafs give Nylander a bit more money this season, because they’ll have Matthews and Marner contracts after this season on their books, and then trade him this summer. Many people have grown tired of this situation but, after December 1, the organization will know where things are at. Coach Babcock seems to really want to player back and Auston Matthews and Nylander are close friends and have excellent chemistry on the ice. GM Dubas seems to be a patient person who could put the trying negotiations in the past, if he signs. If he doesn’t sign, it seems more likely he’ll be traded. Seems the number to get Nylander signed is 6 years at between $6.9 M and $7 M /season.
- Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe won his 158th game Wednesday night which is the most of any Marlies coach. Keefe, I would expect, should get NHL interest soon.
- Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin is tied for the lead among AHL rookie defenseman in goals with 4.
- The Blues are really struggling with a 8-12-3 record after 23 games played and have lost 7 of their past 9 games. The team has a 1-3 record under interim head coach Craig Berube. Apparently, the team’s defenseman are making untimely mistakes that are costing the team games. The team is 0-5-3 in one goal games this season.
- The team next plays in Colorado; the Avs have won 6 straight games.
- Starting goaltender Jake Allen has a 3.27 GAA and a .896 SV% and there were some rumors this week the team may look to acquire a goaltender with pending UFA Wings Jimmy Howard being mentioned as a possible Allen replacement.
- The Sabres have 10 straight wins and forward Jeff Skinner is tied for the NHL lead in goals with 19. Skinner and Sabres captain Jack Eichel play on the team’s number one line and have developed strong chemistry together. Skinner, as pending UFA, is going to get paid well this summer. I heard Sabres GM Jason Botterill plans to open contract talks with Skinner in the new year.
- Off-season acquisition Carter Hutton is playing well; in 19 appearances, Hutton has a 2.50 GAA and a .920 SV%.
- Ken Hitchcock took over in Edmonton and the team is 2-1-1 in Hitch’s first four games. Hitchcock has been going with Mikko Koskinen in net (he’s played in 3 of the 4 games). Koskinen looks good in the games I’ve watched (most of them since Hitch took over) and has a 6-2-1 with a .923 SV% and 2 shutouts. Oilers former starter, Cam Talbot, is in the last year of this contract and unrestricted on July 1, 2019.
- The Oilers recalled Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall in 2016) from the AHL. The player has been a bit of a disappointment so far in his NHL career but Hitchcock specifically asked for the player to be recalled because Hitch believes he can help the player improve plus Hitch likes big forwards and Puljujarvi is 6’4” and 200 pounds.
- Defenseman Andrej Sekera has been skating with the team in practices (he’s recovering from an achilles tear in off-season training) but his return to game action may not be until the new year.
- The Avalanche have won 6 straight games and their top line of MacKinnon-Landeskog-Rantanen are the top line in hockey. Nathan MacKinnon has 8 multi-point games in his past 9 games.
Team Canada Hockey
- Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and Sean Burke will co-GM Team Canada at the upcoming Spengler Cup. Burke was Canada’s GM at the 2018 Winter Olympics where the team won a bronze medal. Burke was also GM of Canada’s team at the past two gold winning teams at the Spengler Cup. Kevin Dineen will be the team’s head coach with assistant Gord Dwyer and Mike Kitchen. The tournament starts December 26, 2018 in Davos, Switzerland. Canada has won gold in the past 3 Spengler Cup’s.
- Team Canada will announce the junior aged players invited to Team Canada tryout’s for the 2019 World Junior Tournament on Monday, December 3rd. Training camp opens December 10, 2018 in Victoria. The final roster is expected to be announced on December 15th. The tournament starts on December 26. All of Team Canada’s games are in Vancouver while some other games will be played in Victoria. Tickets are almost completely sold out. Games in Victoria are already sold out and games in Vancouver are close to being sold out.
- Team Canada’s head coach is Tim Hunter who is currently the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.
- Goaltender Michael DiPietro, who plays for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL (a 2017 3rd round draft selection of the Canucks) is expected to vie for the starting goalie position. Prince Albert Raiders goaltender and Leafs prospect Ian Scott (2017 4th round) is also expected to be invited to selection camp. On defense, Oilers first rounder & London Knight’s captain, Evan Bouchard, is expected to the team’s #1 defenseman. Noah Dobson (12th overall 2018) an Islanders draft pick is another highly rated defenseman expected to play for Canada at the tournament. At forward, there are 3 players – Robert Thomas (STL), Gabe Valirdi (LA) & Michael Rasmussen (DET) that are eligible to play in tournament but they are with NHL clubs currently. Ducks Max Comtios (a returnee from last year’s team) was just returned to the QMJHL and seems to be someone that will again play for Team Canada. Vegas’ Cody Glass (6th overall 2017) and ‘Habs Nick Suzuki (acquired in the Pacioretty deal) should make the team as well. Coyotes draft pick, Barrett Hayton (5th overall 2018), a two-way center, is another name that gets mentioned as a possibility. Senators draft pick Alex Formenton is expected to make the team; he’s a noted fast skater. Alex Lafreniere (draft eligible 2020) should make the team as well.
- Team USA is holding their World Juniors training camp in Everett, Washington from December 14-18. Jack Hughes, the expected number 1 draft selection in the 2019 entry draft, is the star for the Americans.
- The Bruins are without their number one center, Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron suffered rib & sternoclavical injuries in a game Nov. 16th and the he’s to re-evaluated in 4 weeks (from the date of injury). Bergeron had recorded 9 goals and 17 assists in 19 games before the injury.
- Also with the Bruins, defenseman Kevan Miller will miss at least a month after getting hit in the throat with a puck. Fellow defenseman Zdeno Chara is also injured with the knee problem.
- New LA Kings forward Carl Hagelin will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury.
- Canucks star forward Brock Boeser just returned from a groin injury.
- Penguins forward Patrick Hornqvist is out of action with a concussion.
- LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is nearing a return from his knee injury.
High Profile RFA’s that need a new contracts this summer
- The following young stars are all RFA’s, meaning they need a new contract this summer and do not have the ability to go to arbitration.
- Flames Matthew Tkachuk
- Lightning Brayden Point
- Jets Patrik Laine
- Leafs Auston Matthews
- Leafs Mitch Marner
- Avs Mikko Rantanen
- ‘Canes Sebastian Aho
- Canucks Brock Boeser
- Some experts see this summer as a changing of the CBA landscape because these 22 year old young stars want to be paid big money out of their entry level contract and are not interested in bridge deals. The Nylander contract is the first of these (his contract expired this past summer) but when he signs, it will start to set the financial marketplace for these young restricted free agents (the stars of the RFA group). This could also affect players age 30+ as the young players are wanting more money at a younger age; there is not as much left for the 30+ players since the young players are taking a bigger chunk of the cap earlier in their careers. The game is younger and faster than it’s ever been.
- For the Leafs, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are also RFA’s but have not achieved as much as the others played mentioned above.
- Jets Kyle Connor (23 GP 10 G & 14 A) is another good, young player that is in the final year of his entry level contract.
Odds & Ends
- San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will be playing his first game against his former team when the Sharks visit the Senators on Saturday. Karlsson has had a bit of a slow start in San Jose; in 26 games, he’s recorded 2 goals and 13 assists. Karlsson is in final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He can sign for up to seven seasons with San Jose at any time but he can’t sign a max/8 year deal until after this season’s trade deadline (February 25, 2019).
- LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk has seen his ice time decrease under new head coach Willie Desjardins. This past Sunday in LA’s win against Edmonton, Kovalchuk played a season-low 6:20. Kovalchuk signed a 3 year $18.75 M ($6.25 M/season) contract in the summer. I believe Desjardins has issues with Kovalchuk’s defensive commitment. The player is pointless in the team’s last 9 games but still tied for the team lead in points with 14.
- Vegas has a 4 game winning streak going. The team had an uneven start but head coach Gerard Gallant says the team is starting to find their game. They lost to the Flames 7-2 on November 19th but since have reeled off 4 wins in a row. Forward Max Pacioretty has 9 points on 6 goals in his past 6 games.
- Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, 34, is on pace to start 69 games this season. It would be the most starts of Fleury’s 15 year career.
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 625th career goal on Monday. Ovi is tied for 15th all-time in goals scored with Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic. Ovechkin is 33 years old and if he plays for 3-4 more season’s and records, modest guess, 30 goals /season, he would end up in the top 5 all-time in goals scored.
- Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk has 12 points in 13 games in Ottawa. He’s recorded 4 points in his past 5 games.
- The Vancouver Canucks are struggling to get wins. They are 1-7-2 in their past 10 games.
- Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to game action Tuesday against Carolina. Weber had not played in NHL game in 344 days; his last game was December 16, 2017. Weber played over 25 minutes in his first game back.
- Boston Bruins legend Rick Middleton will have his #16 jersey retired by the Bruins organization this Thursday before the Bruins play the NY Islanders.
- The NY Rangers will retire Vic Hadfield’s #11 jersey on December 2.
- Penguins top defenseman Kris Letang is now tied for the franchise lead in games played by a Penguins defenseman with 703 games played.
- Montreal defenseman Karl Alzner was placed on waivers this week and went unclaimed. His $4.65 M/season contract could be a reason team’s don’t want to claim him. Alzner is now playing for the ‘Habs AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket, but his agent and ‘Habs GM Bergevin are looking for other teams that may be interested in acquiring him. The ‘Habs would most likely have to retain salary to make a deal work.
- Capitals tough forward Tom Wilson has recorded 6 goals and 6 assists in 8 games-basically since he returned from suspension. Impressive numbers.
- Sidney Crosby has 14 points in his last 8 games including a hat trick against the Avalanche on Wednesday night.
- Jets star Patrik Laine had 3 hat tricks in the month of November. Laine is tied for the league-lead in goals with 19. The last player with 3 hat tricks in a calendar month was Alex Kovalev in February 2001.
- NY Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk appears to be a good young defenseman. In 51 career games at the NHL level, Pionk has recored 29 points which ranks him among the leaders in points after a Rangers defenseman’s first 50 games:
- Brian Leetch 48 points
- Ron Greshner 36 points
- Sergei Zubov 33 points
- Neal Poink 29 points
- Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller is one game from tying John Vanbiesbrouck for most wins for the USA-born goaltender. All-time wins USA-born goaltenders:
- John Vanbiesbrouck 374
- Ryan Miller 373
- Tom Barrasso 369
- Mike Richter 301
- Jonathan Quick 293
- Pekka Rinne became the winningest Finland-born goaltender in NHL history when he recorded his 320 career game on November 22. Rinne passed previous leader, retired former Sharks and Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Rinne, along with Frederik Andersen, have to be the early season favorites to win the Vezina trophy as the league’s top goaltender. Rinne, in 16 appearances this season, has a 10-3-1 record with a .938 SV% and a 1.77 GAA.
- In Ottawa, the LeBreton Flats project is in jeopardy after Eugene Melnyk and partner John Ruddy had a disagreement. It’s unclear at this point where this is going but it does not sound good for the Senator’s plan of getting a downtown arena.
Here are a few news & notes items from around the NHL.
- The General Managers had a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, over 5 hours the GM’s discuss some of the following topics:
- On Seatttle – if the NHL Board of Governors vote for Seattle expansion during the Dec. 3 & 4 meetings, there is still the issue of whether the Seattle franchise starts in the 2020-21 season or the following season. With the KeyArena renovation scheduled to be completed in October of 2020, there is not a lot of wiggle room if there are problems completing the renovations. A possible expansion draft (that Vegas is exempt from) could happen in the Summer of 2020 or 2021 depending on whether Seattle is ready.
- Goaltender equipment changes – the GM’s are on the side of the league on this issue, i.e. they believe the NHL should stay the course and stick with the new rule regarding smaller goaltender equipment. Average goals per game is 6.14 up from 5.44 in the 2012-13 season.
- Success of games in Europe and possibility that the league may one day have a Europe-based team or even a European league. This is not a near-term idea but something that is gaining more traction as a possibility overall. Many NHL stars are from Europe and that has helped increase interest there. It seems both the league and NHLPA are intrigued by the idea.
- Another issue tabled is whether NHL team’s first round picks can be allowed to play their final year of junior eligibility with NHL team’s AHL affiliate. Seems teams want to get their top prospects into their organizations sooner to start working with their coaches. The NHL/CHL agreement is up for renegotiation in June 30, 2020. The CHL has been against this idea as they don’t want their star players leaving sooner than they otherwise would.
- The GM’s next meet in March in Florida.
- Capital forward Tom Wilson had his 20 game suspension reduced to 14 games and was back in game action this week. The reduction in salary meant Wilson got back $378,048 in lost salary. The suspension was effectively 16 games since the process took so long. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan has told Wilson his head hits have to stop.
- Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey was fined $8,467 for an unsportsmanlike incident against Capitals forward TJ Oshie. The fine amount is the max under the collective bargaining agreement.
- Players were refunded 2.84% of their 2016-17 salaries on November 15 due to the escrow. The escrow is used as the league makes an estimate of hockey-related revenue (HRR) before the start of the season and withholds ~ 10% of player salaries (each pay); when league revenues are realized at season’s end, players usually get a percentage of their money back.
- The Penguins announced they’ve signed General Manager Jim Rutherford to a 3 year extension through the 2021-22 season. Rutherford, 69, has 3 Cups on his resume as a Hockey GM, two with the Penguins and one with the Carolina Hurricanes.
- Seattle – Dave Tippett, who is a senior adviser for the proposed Seattle team, indicated the other day he’s not looking to be the team’s GM or coach instead looking for a different role in the organization. A Coyotes journalist who knows Tippett expects him to be something like President of Hockey Operations. Some people have speculated on Joel Quenneville to Seattle. Coach Q is making $6 M this season and next to not coach.
- Former NHL player Adam Oates has been hired by the LA Kings as a skills coach. Oates is a private skills coach to such NHL players as Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey, Zach Parise and others. The Kings indicated Oates will mostly be working with the Kings power play group.
- Arizona also announced they’ve hired former USA Olympian Lyndsey Fry as special adviser to Coyotes President & CEO Ahron Cohen. Fry played on the USA Women’s Olympic team in Sochi, Russia where the team won a silver medal. Fry will assist with community initiatives and building the Coyotes brand in Arizona.
- There’s been some unconfirmed reports that the Arizona Coyotes are for sale with the team looking for a buyer to keep it in Arizona. The Coyotes are currently owned by hedge fund manager Anthony Barroway. It was reported earlier this year that Barroway was looking for an additional investor.
- New Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton is just 33 years old and is now the youngest coach in the league. He is a former player (drafted in the 2nd round in 2003 by the Islanders) who struggled with injuries (mostly concussions) during his career and ended up playing in Sweden where he started his coaching career (he was injured so often he looked for ways to help the team in the time he was unable to play and got into coaching). He joined the ‘Hawks organization in May 2017 as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rockford. He is a noted strong communicator and will talk to players individually about their play; this is something that was noted by players he coached in Rockford and in Sweden.
- Along with head coach Joel Quenneville, also dismissed in Chicago were assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen. Coach Q leaves the ‘Hawks organization 2nd in franchise wins with 452 wins (Billy Reay has 516) and had a 452-249-96 regular season record – plus 3 Cups. The team made the post season 9 of his 10 seasons in Chicago. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported this week teams are already inquiring on Quenneville.
Hockey Halls of Fame
- The Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame announced Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Jets co-owner Mark Chipman have been added to the selection committee. Long time hockey writer Eric Duhatschek recently stepped down from the selection committee and former Panthers special assistant and 4 time Cup winner with the NY Islanders, Bill Torrey, had been on the selection committee but sadly passed away in May.
- The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame announced that retired Canucks players Daniel & Henrik Sedin will be inducted into the 2019 class next May.
- Some of the possible candidates for the 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame class in the player category include Patrick Elias, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Daniel Alfredsson and Hayley Wickenheiser.
- The team plays the final game of their 4 game road trip Friday against Anaheim and are 2-1-0 so far. Was an entertaining game against San Jose with the Sharks trying to get at Nazem Kadri most of the night. Seems they wanted pay back for the fight Kadri had with Joe Thornton last January. It was the first win for the Leafs at the SAP Center since 2011 and the team has a chance to sweep California for the first time since 1995 (beat the Kings, Sharks and Anaheim). The team is now 8-1 on the road.
- Forward Mitch Marner now has 17 points (3 G & 14 A) in 9 road games this season. Marner is on pace for 108 points. His career high in points in a season is 69 (set last season).
- Kasperi Kapanen scored his 8th goal of the season against the Sharks on Thursday equaling his total from all prior NHL seasons (he had 7 last season in 55 games). Kapanen is on pace for 34 goals. With his speed, he makes things happen & is a really exciting player to watch.
- Defenseman Morgan Rielly is leading the league in defenseman scoring with 24 points and, with 8 goals, is one goal from tying his career high in goals set in the 2015-16 season. With the Leafs having an incredible power play (26.8%) plus the team is second in the league in goals for per game with an average of 3.58 goals/game, Rielly should continue to be one of the league leaders in points for a defenseman. With only a quarter of the season being played, it’s early but would be incredible if Rielly could be considered for a Norris trophy as the league’s top defenseman.
- Center John Tavares is on pace for 99 points and 50 goals which would both be career highs.
- Center Nazem Kadri has 7 goals in his last 10 games whereas in his first 9 games he has zero.
- Goaltender Freddy Andersen does not get enough credit for the Leafs success. In 10 of his past 12 games, Andersen has allowed 2 or fewer goals. Andersen leads in NHL in wins with 11, has a 2.02 GAA & a SV% of .934.
- Auston Matthews is with the team on this current road trip as head coach Mike Babcock thought it was better than the player hanging out in Toronto. Matthews is progressing well in his recovery from his shoulder injury that he suffered on October 27.
- Leafs with and without Matthews in the line-up this season:
- With – 8-3-0, 3.73 goals/game & 32.1% PP
- Without – 5-3-0, 3.36 goals/game & 21% PP
- After Friday’s game against Anaheim, the team returns to Toronto to play Columbus on Monday and then the team plays two games on the road, Carolina on Wed (Nov 21) and Columbus on Friday, Nov. 23. Auston Matthews could then be nearing a return.
- All indications are William Nylander wants to stay with the Leafs and the team wants to re-sign him. TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently said a bridge deal makes the most sense at this point. Bob guesses a bridge deal could look something like:
- Year One: $4 M
- Year Two: $5 M
- Year Three: $7 M
- Experts say the Leafs top 3 prospects are:
- Defenseman Rasmus Sandin (18th overall in 2018)
- The Leafs and player still have to determine where he plays longer term this season. He’s played 5 games with the Marlies (2 G & 2 A) but it’s not clear if he will stay in the AHL for the season. Leafs management has said they are waiting until the 10 game mark to see how Sandin does in the AHL and then decide if they return him to Sault Ste Marie (OHL), or he could play in Sweden or stay with the Marlies. It’s expected that both Sandin and Liljegren will represent Sweden at this years IIHF World Junior Tournament in Vancouver.
- Defenseman Timothy Liljegren (17th overall in 2017)
- Forward Carl Grundstrom (57th overall in 2016)
- The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) in partnership with the Leafs announced the City of Toronto will host the 2019 CWHL All-Star game. The game is scheduled for January 20, 2019 at ScotiaBank Arena. Additionally, the Clarkson Cup championship (the championship trophy for the CWHL) game will take place March 24, 2019 at the home of the AHL Maries, Coca-Cola Coliseum (formerly Ricoh Coliseum).
- Arizona has signed defenseman Jakob Chychrun to a 6 year contract extension at an annual average value of $4.6 M /season. The Coyotes get 2 of Chychrun’s UFA seasons. Chychrun is a former 1st round selection of the Coyotes (16th overall) but has struggled with injuries in his career. He’s played just one game this season after having off-season knee surgery. He played 50 games last season and recorded 14 points while averaging 20 minutes of ice time per game.
- LA and Pittsburgh, two struggling teams, swapped forwards this week. Carl Hagelin goes to LA for Tanner Pearson. The Penguins retained $250 K of Hagelin’s $4 M salary. Hagelin is a UFA at season’s end and it’s suspected the Kings will trade the player for assets at the trade deadline. Pearson has two more seasons at $3.75 M remaining on his contract and recorded just 1 assist in 19 LA games. He has recorded 44 and 40 points in the past two seasons.
- The team has played one of the 4 games on their current home stand and lost to the Canadiens on Thursday night 3-2. The Flames out shot the ‘Habs 45-22 but veteran goaltender Mike Smith struggled again and now has a .876 SV% and a 3.48 GAA. The league is too close to have a goaltender struggle for large parts of the season.
- Twenty one year old forward Matthew Tkachuk is leading the team in scoring with 21 points on 9 goals after 19 games. Tkachuk is a RFA at season’s end and has said he wants to stay in Calgary long term. GM Treliving has tried to keep captain Mark Giordano as the team’s highest paid player ($6.75 M/season) and 2 seasons ago Johnny Gaudreau’s contract was for the same annual average salary but experts see Tkachuk’s new contract eclipsing the $6.75 M/season. If the organization can get the player on a 6 year deal they would get 2 of the players UFA seasons.
- James Neal is one point from 500 career points; he’s played 722 career games. Neal has just 4 points on 3 goals after 20% of the season. I believe when Neal signed in Calgary (5 years at $5.75 M /season), he thought he’d be on one of the team’s top two forward lines but he’s been on the 3rd line. Off-season acquisition Elias Lindholm has played so well with Gaudreau and Monahan, there’s been no opportunity for Neal to move up in the line-up.
Milestones & Streaks
- Panthers forward Mike Hoffman has an active 14 game point streak going. For the season, has has 15 points in 15 games. Good for him as it can be an adjustment to adapt to a new team (and a new city). The 14 game point streak is a Panthers franchise record.
- LA Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf is two games from playing in his 1,000 career game. Phaneuf, 33, has one assists this season.
- Islanders sophmore forward Mathew Barzal reached the 100 point mark for his career. Barzal, 21, is a huge part of the Islanders future. He reached the 100 career point mark at a rate that ranks among the league’s top scores.
- Fewest games to reach 100 career points among active skaters
- Ovechkin – 77 games
- Crosby – 80 games
- Malkin – 89 games
- McDavid – 92 games
- Paul Stastny – 99 games
- Mathew Barzal – 101 games
- This week Sharks center Joe Thornton recorded his 400th career goal. Noted as one to the top passers to ever play in the NHL, the 400 goals is an incredible milestone. Only 11 players in NHL history have 1,000 assists plus 400 goals. They are:
- Wayne Gretzky
- Jaromir Jagr
- Mark Messier
- Gordie Howe
- Ron Francis
- Marcel Dionne
- Mario Lemieux
- Joe Sakic
- Steve Yzerman
- Ray Bourque
- Joe Thornton
- Joe also became the 19th player in NHL history to play in 1500 games.
- Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson recorded his 400th career assist in the same game as Joe Thornton recorded his 400th career goal.
- Jets center Blake Wheeler has an 11 game point streak going. He’s recorded two goals and 18 assists over the 18 games.
- Arizona forward Brad Richardson recently played in his 700th career game.
- Wild forward Zach Parise recently recorded his 700th career point.
- Predators star defenseman PK Subban recently played in his 600th career game.
- Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk returned to the line-up Thursday (Nov. 15) after missing 16 games with a knee injury. JVR was hit on the knee with a shot in the Flyers second game of the season.
- Devils center Brian Boyle has been placed on the injury reserve (IR) with an upper body injury. When a player is placed on IR it means he will miss at least 7 days and the team can add (or call up) a player to replace the injured player.
- Penguins center Sidney Crosby is out of action with a short term upper body injury (not on IR).
- Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is scheduled for surgery on Friday, Nov. 16th after suffering a facial fracture in a game this week against Nashville. Fowler was hit in the face with the puck after he placed his stick into the line of an incoming shot against the Preds (the puck deflected off his stick into his face). The team said a time frame for recovery will be announced on Friday after the surgery.
- Zdeno Chara injured his leg this week in a game against the Avalanche. Chara returned from the team’s road trip to be assessed in Boston. Chara is averaging 21 minutes of ice time this season for Boston so they will miss him if he’s out for a while. Also with the Bruins, defenseman Charlie McAvoy is still not recovered from a concussion he suffered in October. No time table on his return.
- Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson will be out 6-8 weeks with a broken thumb.
- Lightning starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy fractured his foot and is out of action for 4-6 weeks.
- Oilers forward Tobias Reider will be out of action about a month with an undisclosed injury.
- Predators defenseman PK Subban was placed in the Injured Reserved List and will miss at least a week. Teammate Dan Hamhuis was activated from IR.
- Ducks forward Patrick Eaves was placed on the injury reserve list with an undisclosed injury. Eaves has played in just 5 games this season and missed most of last season with a serious virus issue.
- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask missed about a week as he took personal leave from the team and has since returned. Rask is having a trying season and Jaro Halak has emerged at the team’s top goaltender.
- Ducks forward Ondrej Kase has returned to game action after missing the first 18 games of the season with a concussion. Kase is an emerging young player for the Ducks. He signed a 3 year contract this off-season at an average annual value of $2.6 M.
- Dallas Stars forward Alex Radulov is back playing after missing 10 games with an undisclosed injury.
- LA Kings starting goaltender Jack Campbell (filling in for the injured Jonathan Quick) will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee (same injury as Quick). Campbell did require surgery on the knee. It’s a tough injury for a goaltender that is trying to make it in the NHL. In his 4 starts before the injury, Campbell had made 112 saves on on 117 shots or .957 SV%. Cal Petersen was called up from the Ontario Reign (the Kings AHL affiliate that are based in Ontario, California) to back fill for Campbell.
- Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich will miss the next 4 – 6 weeks with a broken thumb.
- Montreal captain Shea Weber is on track to return to game action in mid December. He’s traveling with the team and taking part in practices.
- Former Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick will be out of action at least 3 more weeks with an injury.
- Dallas Stars number one defenseman John Klingberg broke his hand and will miss a month.
- Canucks Brock Boeser is on the shelf with a groin injury. He’s been unable to start skating so is still week to week.
- Senators rookie forward Brady Tkachuk is back playing after missing 9 games with a ligament tear in his leg.
- Blues forward Patrick Maroon is out of action with an upper body injury. He’s in the process of getting the injury assessed.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have been hit by the flu bug, Panarin, Bobrovsky and Riley Nash all missed time this week because of it.
- For the NY Islanders, forward Andrew Ladd was placed on IR with an leg injury as were forwards Casey Cizikas & Matt Martin.
- Dallas Stars forward Devon Shore is out of action for 7-10 days with a lower body injury.
- Vegas forward Erik Haula was injured Nov. 6 against the Leafs (was stretchered off the ice) is still being assessed and the team/player are getting additional medical opinions. It’s looking like it’ll be month to month and not week to week.
- Flyers starting goaltender Brian Elliott appeared to injure his groin Thursday night in a game against New Jersey. He had to leave the game as was replaced by Calvin Pickard. No word on how much time Elliott will miss.
Odds & Ends
- Defenseman Paul Martin announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday. Martin, 37, played 870 games over 14 seasons for the Devils, Penguins and Sharks. Martin impressively made the playoffs in every season of his 14 NHL seasons but did not win a Cup. When Sharks defenseman Brent Burns won the Norris for the league’s top defenseman, Martin was his d partner.
- Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for doing well in the Max Pacioretty deal plus new ‘Habs forward Max Domi is leading Montreal in scoring with 10 goals and 13 assists after 19 games played. Domi has an many points as Leafs center John Tavares. Tomas Tatar, who was part of the Pacioretty deal, has 16 points on 8 goals this season; he recorded just 6 points in 20 games after he was acquired by Vegas last season.
- Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo currently has a record of 4-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA and a .956 SV%. Luongo is the first goaltender age 39 or older to start a season 4-0 since Dominik Hasek did in the 2005-06 season.
- Former Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec has retired from the NHL & has moved back to the Czech Republic. He says he wants to play at least 2 more seasons in the Czech league. He’s been practicing with the team Jaromir Jagr owns, the Klado Knights, but is still deciding which Czech league team he will play for.
- The Red Wings are starting to play better hockey, after a 1-7-2 start they’ve won 7 of their last 8 games.
- Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt will play his first game of the season this Sunday when the Golden Knights play the Oilers in Edmonton. Schmidt was suspended for 20 games from the start of the season for using a banned substance.
- The Penguins are last in the Eastern Conference with a 7-7-3 record. They looked very good when they played their Canadian road trip 2 weeks ago and went 4-0 on the trip but are really having trouble getting wins since. Goaltender Matt Murray has not been very good this season with a 3.87 GAA and a .886 SV%.
- Oilers forward Milan Lucic is still struggling to put up points and be productive. Lucic has 2 even strength goals in his past 73 games. He was on the team’s 2nd line but has since been moved to the team’s 3rd line. Lucic is in the 3rd year of a 7 year contract that pays him $6 M/season. He seems to be the player that’s been most affected by the league becoming younger and faster.
- Bruins forward David Pastrnak leads the NHL with 17 goals – 4 more than second place Jeff Skinner. Pastrnak has scored 30.4% of the Bruins goals this season. Just 22 years old, Pastrnak is an emerging NHL superstar.
- Canucks sensational rookie Elias Pettersson has gone 4 straight games without recording a point.
- The Sabres are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games. Jeff Skinner is leading the team in goals with 13 and points with 20 in 18 games. Skinner is a UFA on July 1, 2019. Starting goaltender Carter Hutton has played well for them (.916 SV%).
- Will be interesting to see what NHL leading scorer Mikko Rantanen’s next contract looks like. Rantanen, 22, has 29 points in 18 games this season and is in the final year of his entry level contract. The team wanted to start contract discussions with his agent but the player prefers to wait until the off-season.
- The pre-tournament schedule for the 2019 IIHF World Juniors Tournament was recently announced. This is going to be a awesome Christmas time tournament.
- Some experts see LA as a team that now can’t possibly make the post-season (because of their slow start). The team is last in the NHL in points with 11 after 19 games. Generally, GM’s say teams out of a playoff position at US Thanksgiving (November 22) are really challenged to make the playoffs.
- In Pittsburgh, the Mario Lemieux Foundation donated $5 M to U of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center to establish the Mario Lemieux Immunotherapy Center.
- Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat is on pace for 39 goals and 70 points. His career high in goals is 22 and points 52. This season he’s recorded 14 points in 14 road games while playing with different players since the team has had numerous injuries. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently indicated Horvat, 23, will be announced as the team’s captain next season.
- All signs point to Senators forward Matt Duchene staying with Ottawa long term. The team and agent for the player are in substantive talks about getting the player, who is a UFA after this season, signed to a new deal.
- The Arizona Coyotes are 7-3-1 in their past 11 games and 9-8-1 overall. The team has scored an incredible 10 goals in 58 shorthanded situations; they score a goal shorthanded 17.2% of the time and have a league-leading penalty killing percent of 91.4%. Leading the way for Arizona is off-season addition forward Michael Grabner with 4 shorthanded goals. The record for shorthanded goals in a season is 36 and the Coyotes are on pace for 46.
- Lightning forward Brayden Point scored 3 goals in 91 seconds over the 1st and second periods in a game Thursday night against Pittsburgh. It’s the fastest hat trick since expansion in 1967-68. Point is now leading the Lightning in points (22) & goals (12). The player is in the final year of his entry level contract and I expect getting him signed to a new contract will be a top off-season priority for Lightning GM Julian BrisBrois.