NHL News & Notes to 02 Jun 2019

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

League-related

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

Seattle

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

Team Management News

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Cup Finals

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

Entry Draft Top Five

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

Transactions

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

Leafs

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

Odds & Ends

  • Read where TV ratings for the Raptors game one win in the NBA Finals had around 20% of the country tuning into at least part of the game and a reported 11% watching the whole game.
  • Chicago Wolves (Vegas’ AHL team) and the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) are playing the Calder Cup championship. The series started Saturday and the teams are tied at a game each.
  • Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck (back) and Andrew Ladd (knee) both recently had surgery. Clutterbuck is expected to the ready for September training camp while seems as though Ladd will not be.
  • Oilers new head coach Dave Tippett says he liked the idea of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl playing together on the same line. There’s been the debate is it better to have them on the same line or try and balance the forward lines by splitting them up. Tippett said he’s seen the incredible chemistry the two stars have playing together.
  • New Jersey appears to have a very good prospect in defenseman Ty Smith. He was drafted 17th overall in the 2018 Entry Draft. This recent season playing with Spokane of the WHL, Smith, 19, recorded 7 goals and 62 assists for 69 points in 57 games. Smith was co-captain of the Chiefs this season. He was also named Canadian Hockey League Defenseman of the Year an award that was previously won by players such as HOF defenseman Chris Pronger, Keith Yandle, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Ellis, highly rated Flyers RFA defenseman Ivan Provorov plus Ottawa top offensive defenseman Thomas Chabot. Smith was also named WHL Defenseman of the Year for the 2018-19 season.
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NHL News & Notes to 26 May 2019. STL vs Bruins Cup final starts Monday.

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

League

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

Team Management News

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Cup Finals Notes

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

World Championship

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

Signings

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

Sharks

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

Leafs

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

Odds & Ends

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

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

League-related

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

Seattle

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

Team Management News

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Playoffs 

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

International Tournaments / Team Canada

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

Leafs

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

Canucks

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

Buyouts – June 15th – 30th

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

Signings

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

Odds & Ends

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

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

League-related

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

GM’s & Coaching News

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

Seattle

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Playoffs

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

Leafs

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

Streaks and Milestones

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

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

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

IIHF World Championships (Slovakia May 10-26)

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

Transactions

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

Odds & Ends

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

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

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

League-related

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

Seattle

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

GM & Coaching News

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

Playoff Series Notes

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

NHL Awards Finalists

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

Player Expiring Contracts

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

World Hockey Championships in Slovakia – May 10-26

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

Odds & Ends

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

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

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

League News

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

GM & Coaching News

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

Post-season Match Up’s

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

IIHL World Championships May 10-26 in Slovakia

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Hurricanes

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

Tampa Bay Lightning

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

Dallas Stars

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

NY Islanders

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

Canadiens

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

Leafs

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

Flames

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

Oilers

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

Washington

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

Columbus

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

Transactions/ Signings

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

Milestones & Streaks

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

Injuries

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

Odds & Ends

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

NHL News & Notes to 18 Mar 2019. Ten games remain in reg season.

League-related

  • 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.

Hockey Canada

  • 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.

Scuttlebutt

  • 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.

Leafs

  • 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

Canucks

  • 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.

Oilers

  • 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.

Injuries

  • 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.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 04 March 2019

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.

League-related

  • 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.

Team News

  • 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.
  • Kucherov
    • 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.

Teams streaks

  • 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.

Leafs

  • 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.

Injuries

  • 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.

Transactions

  • 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.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 18 Feb 2019

There is a lot going on around the league especially with the Monday, February 25th (3 PM EST) trade deadline just 7 days away.

League-related

  • 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.

Seattle

  • 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.

Hot Teams

  • 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.

Stadium Series

  • 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.

Leafs

  • 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

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.

Injuries

  • 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.
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NHL News & Notes to 05 Feb 2019

League

  • At the start of February, the NHL announced they have anointed the month as Black History Month in the league. There is a mobile museum that will be traveling to different cities with displays and information on the history of minorities in hockey. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Willie O’Ree is a key person in this initiative. He is employed by the league as Diversity Ambassador and Director of Youth Development. The month of March will be Gender Equality month and the league plans to add acknowledgements for Hispanic heritage and First Nations next season.
  • This Saturday, February 9th, is Hockey Day in Canada. All 7 Canadian-based teams are in action.
    • Winnipeg is at Ottawa at 2 PM EST
    • Leafs are in Montreal at 7 PM EST
    • San Jose is in Edmonton at 7 PM EST
    • Flames are in Vancouver at 10 PM EST

Seattle

  • The Oak View Group are expected to announce an affiliation with an American League hockey team within the next 30-60 days. Possible cities for Seattle’s AHL team include Boise, Idaho or Palm Springs, California.

GM & Coaches

  • The Oilers are expected to start their GM search in the next week. The team will be reaching out to teams asking to speak with possible candidates. There is no clear timeline on when the team wants to have a new GM in place.
  • Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice coached his 1,500th NHL game (682-605-212) on Tuesday. Only 5 other coaches all-time have coached more games and Maurice is the youngest (52 years) to reach the milestone.
    • Bowman 2141
    • Quenneville 1636
    • Al Albour 1607
    • Barry Trotz 1575
    • Ken Hitchcock 1568
  • Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol has recently been in Stockholm, Sweden working with Rikard Gronborg, the head coach of Team Sweden. The trip was arranged by the NHL Coaches Association (I didn’t know there was an NHL Coaches Association). Seems it’s a professional development opportunity for Hakstol for now.

Trade Scuttlebutt

  • Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said the other day that the only untouchable player on the Flyers roster is captain Claude Giroux.
  • Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall is a pending UFA but reports indicate he wants to stay with the Red Wings and sign an extension there. Kronwall, 38, has played his entire 13 year (924 games) career with the Red Wings.
  • There was a report that the Blackhawks asked defenseman Brent Seabrook to waive his no movement clause in advance of the February 25th trade deadline but Seabrook said Monday the report was false.
  • LA King forward Ilya Kovalchuk is willing to waive his no movement clause for the right situation. Apparently there are teams interested in acquiring the player. In 43 games this season, Kovalchuk, 35, has recorded 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points. His contract, signed last summer, is for 3 years at $6.25 M /season. The Kings are apparently willing to retain some salary to make a deal.
  • The Jets and Flames are two team’s that have been mentioned as willing to part with their first round draft pick in possible trade. Of course, the Leafs traded their first rounder in the Muzzin deal.
  • Penguins GM Jim Rutherford recently indicated he does not want to part with his first round pick as he believe it’s a good draft class. Myself, I’ve heard there a number of good centers available at the top half of the draft class then the talent level drops off.
  • The Panthers are reportedly interested in acquiring Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky at the trade deadline. The idea is to get him into the organization for the latter part of the season and try and get him signed there long term. Newly acquired forward Derick Brassard would go to Columbus to bring Bobrovsky to Sunrise. Brassard, 31, is a UFA this summer. He recently said he agreed with Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s assessment that things did not go as planned in Pittsburgh (23 points in 54 games or a 39 point pace/season). Brassard said he had trouble fitting into the core group of star players the Penguins had plus playing behind two Hall of Fame centers like Crosby & Malkin was tough. He did not get the ice time he wanted. With the Panthers so far, Brassard is playing on the wing on a line with Mike Hoffman and center Vincent Trocheck.
  • Avs GM Joe Sakic indicated Tuesday he is looking to acquire scoring help but will not be parting with either of their first round picks. The Avs have their own first round selection plus Ottawa’s first rounder and the Senators are last in the league.
  • The reported deal on the table between Senators Matt Duchene and the team is an 8 year deal at $8 M /season. Duchene admitted talks have gotten to a point where he needs to decide if he wants to stay in Ottawa long term or be dealt at the February 25th trade deadline. Duchene has been candid saying money is not the only factor – or even the main deciding factor. He wants a chance to win and the question he is considering is do the Senators have a chance to be a top-end team relatively soon.
  • Pending UFA Brian Boyle, now with New Jersey, says he prefers to stay with the team through the trade deadline. Boyle has 13 goals and 6 assists in 47 games played this season.
  • Both the Flames and Oilers have been linked to pending UFA Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello.
  • There is apparently a lot of interest in Columbus’ pending UFA Artemi Panarin. There’s been no indication if the Blue Jackets plan to trade the player. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said the decision to move the player or let him play out the final year of his contract in Columbus is a tough one for their organization. He did not indicate which way the organization is leaning. The experts seems to believe Panarin will be traded. I believe Panarin will be highly sought after as a rental if Columbus makes him available. Panarin recently indicated he will not discuss a new contract until the summer when he is free to sign with any team. One idea discussed was the Jackets move the player to get back players, possibly with term remaining on their contract, that can replace Panarin’s scoring – not just get prospects back.
  • Senators defenseman Cody Ceci, a RFA in the summer, is expected to get traded. Ceci, 25, is on a one year deal at $4.3 M. He’s recorded 15 points in 48 games this season.
  • Senators forward Mark Stone contract discussions are ongoing but the player has said he prefers to not discuss any details about negotiations publicly. It’s expected that Stone is seeking about $10 M per season on a new deal. He’s a UFA this summer. Many experts say Stone is the most important player in the organization.
  • TSN reported this week Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds is still available and is expected to be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Some people thought that with the Flyers winning 8 straight games and now 7 points from the final wild card spot in the East, the Flyers may opt to not trade Simmonds but that’s not the case. He will be traded by February 25th.
  • Was also reported this week that the Carolina Hurricanes may keep pending UFA Micheal Ferland past the Feb. 25th trade deadline in the hopes of making the post season. The Hurricanes are just 3 points from an Eastern Conference wild card position so it seems it’s an ongong discussion whether the Hurricanes trade the player.

Playoff Races

  • West
    • Minnesota and Vancouver are currently in a wild card position in the Western Conference. There are six teams within 3 points of the final wildcard spot.
  • East
    • Boston and Columbus have the 2 wildcard spots in the East with two teams, Buffalo & Carolina, 3 points out.

Transactions

  • Washington signed back-up goaltender Pheonix Copley to a 3 year, $3.3 M deal. In 19 appearances this season, Copley has a 10-5-3 record with a 2.98 GAA and a .903 SV%. Copley, 27, was born in the city of North Pole, Alaska.
  • The Oilers sent defenseman Andrej Sekera to the AHL on a conditioning assignment. Sekera has not played this season. Per rules of the CBA, Sekera can play 3 AHL games unless he agrees to the maximum of 5 games before a recall back to the NHL.
  • Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz has started practicing with the team. He suffered a broken leg earlier in the season.

Ducks

  • The team has lost 17 of their past 19 games and 5 straight games. In their 5 straight losses the team has been outscored a combined 27-5.
  • Has to be tough on Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle who most likely will not be back next season (if he makes it through this one). Carlyle had an 18 year playing career, won a Norris as the league’s top defenseman and has coached over 900 games.
  • Forward Ryan Kesler has 6 points in 44 games this season. He has 3 years remaining on his deal at $6.875 M /season.
  • Contract talks between the team and pending UFA forward Jakob Silfverberg are reportedly progressing positively.

Leafs

  • Was really exciting news to hear the Leafs got Auston Matthews signed to a 5 year contract. He’s definitely the face of the franchise. Seems the new contract came together quite quickly with Matthews LA-based agent, Judd Moldaver, meeting in Toronto with the Leafs over the past week. The new deals kicks in next season & makes Matthews the second highest paid player in the league. McDavid is at $12.5 M or 16.67% of the cap and Matthews will be at approx 14% of an $83 M cap. Matthews contract is paid mostly (93%) in July 1 signing bonuses.
    • Year One: $15.25 M signing bonus, $700 K salary.
    • Year Two: $15.2 M signing bonus, $700 K salary
    • Year Three: $9.7 M signing bonus, $750 K salary
    • Year Four: $7.2 M signing bonus, $750 K salary
    • Year Five: $7.2 M signing bonus, $750 K salary
    • That’s $54.5 M in signing bonuses (93%) and $3.65 M in salary. Average annual value (cap hit) is $11.634 M.
  • The team bought one of Matthews UFA seasons. It was reported that discussions around a 8 year term started with Matthews asking for between $13 M – $14 M on an 8 year term and the team could not do it and keep the team together /challenge for a Cup in the next few seasons. The agent and team had discussed everything from an 8 year deal to a 3 year one and finally settled on the 5 years.
  • Matthews is second in goals /game since the start of the 2016/17 season.
    • Ovechkin 0.55
    • Matthews 0.53
    • Laine 0.51
    • Kucherov 0.49
    • McDavid 0.47
  • Matthews, surprisingly, ranks 82nd among forward in ice time this season at 18:14 mins/ game.
  • The addition of defenseman Jake Muzzin has been a huge hit with Leafs fans. Head coach Mike Babcock says he feels the team is suddenly way deeper on defense. Muzzin tied a career high with 3 points in the Monday game against Anaheim. He will play his 500th career game on Wednesday against the Senators.
  • With the addition of Muzzin, Ron Hainsey has dropped down to the 3rd d pairing with Travis Dermott. Babcock says Hainsey will help Dermott’s defensive game.
  • Mitch Marner’s agent said Tuesday the reason they want to wait until season’s end to negotiate is the team has so far tried to low ball Marner with what the agent perceives as below market value money. Some experts predict the Marner negotiation with be a tough one. Marner’s agent, Darren Ferris, said Marner also missed out on bonus money that was suppose to be included in his first/entry level contract. The “Schedule B” bonuses were not included in the players contract. These bonuses were worth a maximum of $2 M. The expectation is that the Leafs want to get Marner signed at about $9 M – $10 M /season whereas the player values himself at or close to Matthews’ $11.6 M /season. A sizable gap could exist between the two sides. GM Kyle Dubas has said he’s fully confident the organization will get Marner signed.
  • As far as possible contract length for the Marner deal, a 4 year deal would take him right to unrestricted free agency which team’s prefer not to do.
  • Defenseman Morgan Rielly has tied his career high in points (52) after just 53 games. Already this season he’s set a new career high in goals. Rielly is 3rd in defenseman scoring and 6 points back of leader Brent Burns (58 points).
  • Forward Patrick Marleau has an active 3 game point streak going, a point in each game since the bye week. Marleau spent the break in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • John Tavares leads the league in goals during five on five play with 24. Alex Ovechkin has 22. Overall, Tavares has 31 goals in 52 games this season. He’s on pace for a career high 49 goals this season. His previous career high is 38.
  • Forth line forward Tyler Ennis is getting closer to returning from a broken ankle. Ennis has started practicing with the team. I believe he’ll add a spark to the bottom 6 group of forwards when he returns plus he has over 500 NHL to his credit so the extra experience will be valuable when the games get closer down the stretch. Ennis is a UFA at season’s end.
  • Extra defenseman Martin Marincin has cleared waivers and been returned to the Marlies.
  • I heard where Dubas mentioned he’ll get into contract discussions with two of his other pending RFA’s, Kasperi Kapanen & Andreas Johnsson, after the trade deadline.
  • The team plays the Senators at home on Wednesday before starting a 6 game road trip (Montreal, New York, Colorado, Vegas, Arizona & St. Louis).

Oilers

  • The Oilers have lost 10 of their past 12 home games and are, amazingly, only 3 points from a wildcard position in the Western Conference.
  • The team has allowed the second most 3rd period goals of any team with 42. Seems if the team is not having depth scoring problems then they are having defensive and goaltending issues.
  • Leon Draisaitl set a new career high in goals with his 31st on Tuesday night. The Oilers are the only team with two 30 goal scorers.
  • Defenseman Oscar Klefbom, the team’s number one defenseman, returned Wednesday night from missing games with a broken finger.
  • Defenseman Darnell Nurse has set a new career high in points with 27 (after 52 games). Nurse took over as the QB on the Oilers first PP since the Klefbom injury. Head coach Hitchcock has liked Nurse’s work on the top PP unit and said he’ll remain there even with Klefbom back. Klefbom moves to the second PP group.
  • The team indicated they are interesting in re-signing pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot. No contract discussions have started as far as I know. Talbot has had a rough season with a 9-14-3 record and a .892 SV%.
  • Forward Alex Chiasson, a pending UFA, has indicated he wants to stay with the Oilers and sign a new contract there. No contract discussions with the team have started however. Chiasson has 17 goals and 25 points in 44 games this season.

Streaks & Milestones

  • Blackhawks star Patrick Kane has an active 12 game point streak going. He has recorded 12 goals & 20 assists for 32 points during the 12 games. Kane already has 76 points on the season – matching his total from all of last season. He’s tied with McDavid for second in the league in points, 3 back of league leader Nikita Kucherov (81 points). Kane also became the youngest American-born forward to reach the 900 point mark. Brett Hull is the all-time leader in points for an American with 1391 points.
  • Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron played in his 1,000 career game on Wednesday. He ranks 3rd in points from his 2003 draft class with 778 points (Eric Staal and Ryan Getzlaf). With 4 Selke trophies to his credit, many people expect Bergeron to make the Hockey Hall of Fame when he retires.
  • Sharks Brent Burns recently tied a record for most overtime goals from a defenseman (in league history) with 13.
  • Avalanche forward Colin Wilson recently played in his 600th career game.
  • Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon recently played in his 500th game.
  • Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his 109th career goal recently to set a new Jets/Coyotes franchise record for goals from a defenseman. Teppo Numminen had the record with 108 goals in 1,098 games. OEL set the record after 627 games played.
  • Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is now the highest scoring Russian-born player. Sergei Federov (1,179 points) had held the record.
  • The Flyers have an active 8 game winning streak going. It’s the second longest winning streak in the NHL this season (Buffalo went on a 10-0 run). The Flyers are now just 7 points back of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Rookie goaltender Carter Hart has an active 7 game winning streak going where he’s recorded a 2.26 GAA and a .934 SV%. Incredible for a 20 year old rookie goaltender.
  • The Dallas Stars have an active 5 game winning streak.
  • Carolina are 11-4-1 in their past 15 games and 3 points out of a wild card spot in the East. The Hurricanes have missed the post season a league-leading 9 straight seasons.
  • Canucks forward Brock Boeser recently scored his 50th career goal. He reached the mark after 110 career games becoming the second fastest Canucks player to reach mark (Pavel Bure 82 games).
  • Lightning back-up goaltender Louis Domingue has an active 9 game winning streak which ties a Lightning record for consecutive goaltender wins. Domingue has a very impressive 17-4-0 record this season with a 2.95 GAA and a .906 SV%.
  • Detroit’s GM Ken Holland became the winningest GM in Wings history with his 914th win. That surpassed former Wings GM Jack Adams.
  • Bruins forward David Backes recently played in his 900th career game.
  • Evgeni Malkin recently recorded his 600th career assist. He’s the 4th player in Penguins history to reach the milestone.
  • Sidney Crosby is set to play his 915th game on Thursday which will tie Mario Lemieux for most games played in a Penguins jersey.

Signings

  • Carolina signed forward Jordan Martinook to a 2 year contract at $2 M /season. Martinook has 12 goals and 15 points this season.
  • Minnesota has signed their back-up goaltender, Alex Stalock, to a 3 year extension at cap hit of $785,000 /season. Stalock was to become a UFA this summer.

Trade

  • The Panthers and Penguins traded forwards earlier this month. Going to Florida from Pittsburgh is center Derick Brassard and forward Riley Sheahan. In return, the Penguins got Panther forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. The Panthers also get the Penguins second and forth round selection in 2019.
  • Bjugstad is currently playing as the Penguins second line center but when Malkin returns from injury, Bjugstad play wing on the top line with Crosby and Guenztal. McCann takes over from Brassard as the Penguins 3rd line center.

Odds & Ends

  • Ducks forward Corey Perry played his first game of the season on February 2nd against Winnipeg. Perry had missed the first 51 games of the season recovering from a knee injury suffered in the preseason.
  • Lightning veteran forward Ryan Callahan was told by the coaches he is the team’s 13th forward and for now is an extra player. Callahan, 33, has been a healthy scratch 3 of the past 4 games. The team is apparently going with younger forwards namely Adam Erne and Matthew Joseph.
  • Former Arizona Coyotes forward Shane Doan will have his #19 jersey retired on February 24th before a game against Winnipeg. Doan will be the first Coyotes/Jets player to he honored with a jersey retirement.
  • Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois (3rd overall in 2016 draft) became the first Columbus player to record consecutive 20 goal seasons to begin his career.
  • Sabres young forward Sam Reinhart is about to set a new career high in points. Reinhart, 23, has 47 points in 52 Sabres games. His previous career high is 47 points.
  • With the Leafs signing of Auston Matthews, some of the high profile RFA’s remaining include:
    • Avs Mikko Rantanen
    • Leafs Mitch Marner
    • Jets Patrik Laine
    • Canucks Brock Boeser
    • Lightning Brayden Point
    • Flames Matthew Tkachuk
    • Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba
    • Hurricanes Sebastian Aho
    • Jets Kyle Connor
    • Vegas William Karlsson
  • Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi has 4 goals in his past 8 games. He had 4 in his first 44 games.
  • Jonathan Drouin is on pace for 64 points and 23 goals which would both be career highs.
  • Flames forward Elias Lindholm leads the NHL in points from players on a new team this season. Lindholm has 60 points after 53 Flames games. His career high in points before this season was 45.
  • Jets star Patrik Laine has scored just twice in his past 21 games. His ice time has been dropping to around 10-12 minutes/game.
  • Dallas Stars defenseman Marc Methot had season-ending knee surgery two weeks ago. The Stars acquired defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the Penguins to help replace Methot.
  • Antoine Vermette announced his retirement from the league. In 1036 career games, Vermette recorded 228 goals and 287 assists for 515 points. He won the Cup with the Blackhawks back in 2015.
  • The Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice (based in Cranbrook, BC) are relocating to Winnipeg for the start of the WHL 2019-20 season.
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