NHL News & Notes to 12 Nov 2019

League

  • 2019 NHL Global Series – the Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-2) and Buffalo Sabres (9-5-2) played two sold-out (14,000 fans/ game) matches in Stockholm, Sweden last week. The Lightning won both games, 3-2 on Friday, Nov. 8th and 5-3 on Saturday, November 9th. It was the third straight season – and 8th overall – that the NHL has played a game in Europe. NHL Commissioner Bettman was at both games and announced that Boston Bruins & Nashville Predators will open the 2020-21 regular season with a game in Prague. Additionally, Columbus and Colorado will play two games in Helsinki, Finland in either October or November. The league seems to be focusing on Sweden, Czech Republic and Finland for their games for the Global Series as these countries have a tradition of hockey and it’s where many NHL star players are from. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said it was a “dream come true” to play in his home country last week. Hedman was the only Swede on the Lightning roster but the Sabres have 8 Swedes on their roster including number one overall draft pick from 2018 & last season’s Calder trophy winner Rasmus Dahlin. Some see the Europe experiment as a win win as many players are from there and enjoy going back with their NHL teams & the fans are turning out for the games. The NHL has talked a bit about the possibly of one day having a European league but there’s been no sign this is in the near term. The NFL has also been having regular season games in Europe with success.
  • With the NHL’s deal with NBC TV expiring at the end of next season, a lot of people are looking at what the NHL’s TV rights deal could look like. NBC apparently wants to continue to have the USA national TV rights deal but there are other companies interested as well. ESPN, for example, have said they are interested in doing a USA TV deal with the league. The NHL is also looking at online streaming deals as that has become a lot more popular. Amazon is one company that has expressed interest in doing an NHL games online streaming deal.
  • TSN reported recently that there haven’t been any face-to-face meetings between the NHL and NHLPA in the month of October but the two sides have been meeting by phone. The sense is talks continue in a positive manner. The two sides have an CBA agreement in place until the end of the 2021-22 season but are continuing to discuss extending it further.
  • There is a NHL General Managers meeting Tuesday, November 19th in Toronto. The GM will reconvene again in March 2020. One topic that is believed to be on the agenda for these meetings is video review for off-side after a goal is scored. The NHL believes approximately 50-60 goals / season are called back from the video review of off-side plays and the GM’s are going to discuss basically is that the end result they want. There less goals and the fans seem to enjoy that part of the game the most.
  • The Heritage Classic game in Regina on October 26 was a success. A sold out crowd of 33,518 fans took in the game that saw the Jets defeat the Flames 2-1 in overtime. There have now been 28 NHL outdoor games with 1,492,877 fans attending, an average of 53,317 fans / game.

Seattle

  • The Seattle franchise is expected to announce their team name around the January 26th NHL All-Star game which is in St. Louis. Some of the names registered by the OakView Group include Rainers, Kraken, Evergreens, Seals, Emeralds, Sea Lions, Sockeyes, Whales, Eagles, Totems, Cougars, Firebirds and Renegades.
  • Alexandra Mandrycky has a new title, Director of Hockey Strategy & Research. She also signed a new contract with the Seattle team.
  • Seattle hired a quantitative analyst named Daniel Chu in their hockey ops group. He starts in January 2020. Chu is a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University with a Masters degree in Statistics.

Team Management

  • The Arizona Coyotes signed their GM John Chayka to a long term contract extension. Terms of the deal were not made public but Chayka, 30, had a year and a half left on his existing contract. Chayka was hired by Arizona back in 2016 when he was just 26 years old. The Coyotes missed the post season by four points last season and have a 9-6-2 record after 17 games this season. Experts say with new owner Alex Meruelo plus steady progression of good results on the ice, the organization wanted stability in their key management people.
  • Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, became the first Islanders head coach to earn his 60th win prior to his 100th game with the franchise. He’s 60-30-8 in his first 100 Islanders games coached.
  • Former Leafs player Doug Gilmour has left the Kingston Frontenacs organization to take a position as community representative/team ambassador for the Leafs. Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Curtis Joseph and Darcy Tucker currently hold the same position of community rep/ambassador with the Leafs. Gilmour held positions such as head coach, GM and team president of the Frontenacs.
  • Golden Knights VP of Entertainment Jonny Greco is leaving Vegas to work for Madison Square Garden. The Vegas pre-game show is regarded as tops in the league and set a new standard for NHL pre-game entertainment.

Scuttlebutt

  • LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch in Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota. On the season, he has 3 goals and and 8 assists for 9 points with a -10 plus/minus. Further, Kovalchuk was reportedly told he will not be playing in Kings games for the foreseeable future though he is welcome to practice with the team. New Kings head coach Todd McLellan has a challenge on his hands to turn the Kings back into a winning team. Their record after 18 games played is 6-11-1, tied with Ottawa for last in the league.
  • With LA in a re-tooling / rebuilding phase defenseman Alex Martinez plus forward Tyler Toffoli are rumored to be available. I heard they plan to keep captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty, and GM Rob Blake keeps them apprised of the rebuilding plans, but no other player is unavailable. Cal Petersen is the goalie of the future and they need to move veteran Jonathan Quick but it’s not going to be easy to do so (could be a buy out candidate). Quick has 3 more seasons after this one at a cap number of $5.8 M. Forwards Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford are both UFA’s this summer and not expected back. Toffoli has been a healthy scratch a few games this season. He has 4 goals and 4 assists in 16 games played.
  • Penguins star Sidney Crosby reportedly has a sports hernia injury and is considering surgery. He has had the problem since training camp but is said to now be considering the surgery option which could mean he’d miss 4-6 weeks. 
  • Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien – this has turned into a complex situation with Byfuglien saying when he injured his ankle last season, there were still problems with it that he did not tell Jets management about and he went and got surgery on it this summer without consulting the Jets. Experts believe the NHLPA may file a grievance on the players behalf as he is owed $8 M this season and $6 M next. He is currently suspended without pay. It’s not clear if the player wants to return to the NHL but he said to need two – three more months to get his ankle back fully functioning. It’s not really clear why the player did not tell the team about the fact he was still having problems with the ankle and the Jets are in a bit of limbo regarding the salary cap as they don’t really know how much cap dollars to allocate to the Byfuglien situation. Some speculate if the player were to try and return to play in the NHL it may not be with the Jets organization.
  • Apparently the agent for Taylor Hall (same agent that represents Leafs Mitch Marner) has been in discussions with the Devils and GM Ray Shero about a new contract for Hall. The player is a UFA after this season. Hall is in a strong position as there is really no urgency to him to sign until he’s happy, there are other NHL teams that would covet the player as a July 1, 2020 UFA. Hall reportedly does enjoy playing in New Jersey but also wants to win. He’s played in just 5 post-season games in his career so he wants to see signs that New Jersey has a chance to be a top level team in the near future.
  • Montreal has reportedly started contract discussions with defenseman Victor Mete (3 G & 3 A in 18 games played). Mete is in the final year of his entry level deal. No word on term or dollars being discussed. Mete averages 17 1/2 minutes / game of ice time.
  • Oilers first rounder Jesse Puljujarvi said the other day he’s happy to spend this season playing in Finland. Puljujarvi has recorded 11 goals and 20 points in 18 games in Finland this season where the game is played on the international size ice surface. One team that expressed interest in acquiring the player indicated they want him playing on an NHL ice surface before going further in trade talks. Doesn’t seem as though that’s the way it’s going to play out as the player will only return to North America is he’s traded from Edmonton. Seems Oilers GM Ken Holland is OK with the player putting up points in Finland as it’s increasing his market value.
  • Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook has been a healthy scratch recently. Seabrook, 34, has 4 more years at $6.875 M/ season left on his contract. He is seen as probably untradeable. Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson in Vancouver is in a similar situation, two more years after this season at $6 M and can’t get into Vancouver’s line-up. With the Dallas Stars, captain Jamie Benn is in head coach Montgomery’s doghouse and has one goal plus 5 assists in 18 games played. He’s making $9.5 M for this season and for 5 more season after this one.
  • Senators veteran forward Bobby Ryan, the Sens highest paid player, has been a healthy scratch recently. Ryan has one goal and three assists in 13 games played this season. Ryan is under contract for this season and two more at $7.25 M /per.
  • New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was a healthy scratch a few times already this season. It was the first time in his 13 year NHL career he has been a healthy scratch. He recently suffered an ankle infection injury. Staal has one more season remaining on his contract after this season at a cap number of $5.7 M.
  • St. Louis traded former first rounder Robby Fabbri to the Red Wings for defenseman Jacob De La Rose. Apparently, Fabbri’s agent talked to Blues GM Doug Armstrong and asked if the player could be moved if he was not going to see regular ice time with the Blues.  Fabbri was a highly rated prospect for the Blues but torn the ACL in his right knee in consecutive seasons. Fabbri’s scored 2 goals and added 2 assists in his first 3 games with the Red Wings. Fabbri is a former 1st round draft pick (2014) who has really struggled staying healthy.
  • The Sabres are reportedly looking for a top nine forward as Vladimir Sobotka was injured and it could be a longer term injury. The Sabres started the season with an 8-1-1 record but have lost 5 straight since.
  • The Penguins traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to Anaheim for F Andreas Martinsen and a seventh-round pick in 2021. NHL experts saw this as the Pens wanting to move Gudbranson’s $4 M salary for this season and next. Anaheim needed a defenseman as Josh Manson is sidelined for 7-10 weeks with an MCL sprain.
  • Winnipeg claimed defenseman Luca Sbisa off waivers from the NY Islanders. Sbisa is reportedly playing in well in Winnipeg. He’s played in 7 games with an average of 16 mins / game of ice time.

Hot Teams

  • The Islanders are 12-3-1 on the season and have not lost in regulation since Oct 11. They’ve allowed just 22 goals in their 12 wins. New York’s next game is Wednesday at Nassau against the Leafs.
  • The Oilers have the forth most points in the league with 26 points after 20 games. Only St. Louis, Washington & Boston have more points than Edmonton. Captain Connor McDavid recently recorded his 400th career point. Only Gretzky, Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Crosby, Bryan Trottier, Steve Yzerman and Pierre Turgeon recorded more points before turning 23 than McDavid. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl leads the league in points with 36 points in 20 games. Draisaitl has an active 10 game point streak going. I saw both players interviewed before the season started and McDavid said one his goals is to work towards being regarded one of the top players all-time and Draisaitl said his goal was to be considered among the elite players in the game with Crosby, McDavid, Kucherov.
  • The Washington Capitals (13-2-4) posted a point streak of at least 12 games (10-0-2) for the first time since a 14-game run from Dec. 29, 2016 to Jan. 23, 2017 (12-0-2). Second year head coach Todd Reirdon does not get a lot of credit as a good NHL head coach.
  • St. Louis have won 7 straight games and are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, plus have 5 straight wins on the road. Overall, the Blues are 12-3-3 on the season.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers have won four straight games and they’ve won five of their past six games (5-0-1). A lot of people are crediting new head coach Alain Vigneault for their success so far. A few of their young players are quietly moving to the forefront; players such as Travis Konecny (age 22 and 19 points in 17 games this season), first rounder Joel Farabee (19) and Carter Hart (21). Swede Oskar Lindblom (23) is tied with Konecny for the most goals on the team (8).

Signings

  • Nashville signed pending UFA defenseman Roman Josi to a max 8 year deal at a cap number of $9.059 M /season. The deal starts next season when the player will be 30 years old and includes a full no move clause for all 8 seasons. Some people believe the 8 year deals for 30 year old players will not be as prevalent as in a faster and younger league $8 – $9 M per season for 33 and 34 year old players are showing to hamstring (salary cap) teams. 
  • Some speculate the Josi signing should get the market for pending UFA St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Apparently the players agent did meet with Blues GM Doug Armstrong but that was back a month ago and there has been no dialogue since.
  • The Predators also signed forward Austin Watson to a 3 year, $4.5 M contract. 
  • The defending Cup champs, St. Louis, signed forwards Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn to 10 day PTO’s. Brouwer went to the Florida Panthers training camp on a PTO but was cut. Brouwer recorded 12 goals and 9 assists in 75 games for the Panthers last season. McGinn appeared in 2 games for Carolina’s AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers before being released. McGinn, 31, played last season also with the Panthers where he recorded 4 goals and 7 points in 19 games before being sent to the AHL.

Milestones

  • Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played in his 1,500 NHL game last week. He’s is the 21st player all-time to play in as many games and 6th defenseman.
  • St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester recently played in his 1200 NHL game. He is the 111th player all-time to play as many NHL games. Bouwmeester is only the 5th active player with 1200 games played (Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Zdeno Chara are the others). Bouwmeester said as he gotten older he appreciates the milestones more.
  • Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf recently played in his 1,000 career game- all with the Ducks. He is first player in franchise history reach the 1000 Ducks games played milestone.
  • Canadiens head coach Claude Julien coached in his 1,200 game last week. He is 19th all-time in NHL games coached.
  • Leafs head coach Mike Babcock reached the 700 win mark last week. Only 7 other head coaches all-time have as many wins as Babcock and, of active coaches, he has the 4th most wins (Coach Q has 898, Trotz has 822 and Paul Maurice has 705). Babcock said of his success he’s tried to adapt and re-invent himself ever year as things are changing fast (even in his line of work!). Some of the players said he brings professionalism and energy, always trying to be positive and has top level habits plus he sticks to a daily routine. Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie said Babcock really is clear with what he is expecting and wants the players to do things a certain way.
  • Chicago defenseman and first rounder (8th overall in 2018), Adam Boqvist, recorded his first NHL goal last week against Anaheim. He is a big part of the future of the ‘Hawks defense group.
  • Vegas forward Max Pacioretty recently reached the 500 point milestone. He has an impressive 250 goals and 250 assists in his career (626 games played). Pacioretty has had a solid NHL career and is still just 30 years old.
  • Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is just the fifth player of Russian nationality in NHL history to appear in at least 1,100 career regular-season games (also Alex Kovalev, Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov). Of the 190 players in NHL history to reach 1,100 games, only two scored more than Ovechkin’s 669 goals in their first 1,100 games: Wayne Gretzky (793) and Brett Hull (679)
  • Leading Norris trophy candidate John Carlson played in his 700th career game last week. He’s recorded 432 points or .61 PPG. Carlson set a frachise record for points in a month for a defenseman with 23 points in the recent month of October and the second most for a defenseman in NHL history.
  • Canadiens captain Shea Weber recored his 100th career PP goal on the weekend, He’s the only active defenseman with as many career PP goals. Weber off to a strong offensive start this season with 14 points, 5 goals, after the Habs first 18 games this season. Weber has as many goals as PK Subban has points (5).
  • LA captain Anze Kopitar recently reached the 900 point milestone (317 goals & 587 assists). Kopitar also has his name on the Stanley Cup twice.
  • St. Louis Blues forward David Perron already has 3 OT goals after only 18 Blues games played this season. Perron is the first player to record as many OT goals prior to his teams 20th game of the season. 
  • Sharks forward Patrick Marleau recently played in his 800th consecutive regular season game becoming just the 6th player all-time, and only the second active player, to achieve that. He hasn’t missed a regular season game since the 2008-09 season.

Leafs

  • The Leafs play at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island on Wednesday and overall play 12 of their next 15 games on the road. Forward Zach Hyman is expected to return for the game which is very positive as he bring a lot- hard work, character player who is physical and battles as hard any anyone for loose pucks. Babcock says Hyman is his the team’s best forechecker. Hyman has been rehabbing the knee for seven months after a knee ACL tear & surgery so it will take him a bit to get back his timing and game conditioning.
  • Forward Mitch Marner was placed on long term injury reserve which means he misses at least 10 games or 24 days. Marner has not missed a game since he was an NHL rookie. The team has said it’s at least a 4 week injury (high ankle sprain). They are definitely going to miss him he is averaging a point a game and the most used forward used on the team’s PK. Marner also leads the team in PP points with 7. Andreas Johnsson, Kapanen and Ilya Mikheyev will have a chance to play more in Marner’s absence.
  • Auston Matthews recorded 10 goals in October for the second straight season. Matthews is 7th overall in the league in points with 13 G & 12 A for 25 points. He looks even better this season that last and when he’s really motivated he’s hard to contain.
  • The Tavares line (Hyman-Tavares-Marner) has yet to play a shift together this season. We will probably see Tavares with Kapanen & Hyman tomorrow. Some of the other lines look like Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander, Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Moore & Petan-Shore-Gauthier. No indication what the team plans are for Jason Spezza.
  • The team seem be playing from behind a lot having given up the first goal of the game in 14 of their 19 games (73.7%) this season.
  • The team has 14 back to back games this season (five between now and the end of December) having already played 5 and have picked up just a single point. Hutchinson had a 0-4 record with a 4.44 GAA and a .879 SV% and of course was placed on waivers and cleared through the league. He was sent to the Marlies on Tuesday. Marlies starter Kasimir Kaskisuo takes over as the Leafs back-up. In 8 games with the Marlies this season, Kaskisuo has a 6-1-1 record with a .928 SV% and a 2.13 GAA. His numbers are good but the NHL is a lot tougher league to have consistent success in. People are expecting Kaskisuo starts on the second night of the Leafs next back to back which is Saturday in Pittsburgh.
  • The Leafs have taken the 3rd most minor penalties in the league at an average of 3.85 / game. Auston Matthews said the other day all the minor penalties take the team out of their regular rhythm of rolling 4 lines.
  • William Nylander has 6 points in his last 4 games after being benched in a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Babcock says his battle level has increased resulting in having the puck more and he’s getting more shots on net plus looking a lot more confident on the ice.
  • The team is on pace for 95 points; last season they finished with 100 and in 2017-18 they had 105. Seems what St. Louis and Colorado showed it matters more who is playing well in mid March and into April.
  • After Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum, the team plays:
    • at home vs the Bruins on Friday
    • in Pittsburgh on Saturday
    • in Vegas on Tuesday
    • in Arizona on Thursday 
    • in Colorado on Saturday
  • With the Leafs prospects, Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin has recorded 9 points in 8 games while playing on the Marlies top d pairing.
  • Peterborough Petes forward and Leafs second rounder (2019) Nick Robertson has recorded 28 points in 19 games this season on 19 goals. With a 68 game OHL regular season, Robertson is on pace for an incredible 68 goals. Petes teammate Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, a Leafs 3rd rounder from 2017 has 27 points on 4 goals in 17 games played.

Awards & Hockey Hall of Fame

  • Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson was named Rookie of the Month for October. He recorded 6 goals, all on the PP, and 4 assists for 10 points in 13 games played. Seems the early race for NHL Calder Trophy is between three young defenseman, Avalanche Cale Makar, Canucks Quinn Hughes and Oilers Ethan Bear. Makar has an incredible 17 points in 17 regular season NHL games played while averaging 19 minutes of ice time per game. Bear leads all rookies with 21 minutes of ice time / game. If I had to bet, I would predict Cale Makar for Calder this season.
  • The Dallas Stars announced that they will retire former Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov’s #56 jersey in a ceremony next season. Zubov leads the Stars franchise in goals, assists, points, power play points for a defenseman. He is entering the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 18th. Zubov joins former Stars players Neal Broten (#7), Bill Goldsworthy (#8), Mike Modano (#9), Bill Masterton (#19) and Jere Lehtinen (#26) in having their number retired by Dallas.
  • Along with Zubov, Guy Carbonneau, Pens GM Jim Rutherford, Hayley Wickenheiser, Russian Vlad Nedomansky, Builder Jerry York also enter this Hockey Hall of Fame on November 18th,

Team Canada

  • TSN reported Tuesday night that Team Canada’s GM for the Spengler Cup, Sean Burke, has asked Wayne Gretzky if he’d consider coaching Canada at the tournament that runs from Thursday, December 26, 2019 to Tuesday, December 31 in Switzerland. Gretzky apparently said he needs a few days to check if can make it work with his busy schedule and will get back to Burke. Would be awesome to see him behind Team Canada’s bench for the tourny.
  • The IIHF World Juniors is in the Czech Republic this year, tournament starts December 26, 2019 and some rumblings are starting so percolate around that event with respect to Team Canada. Center Barrett Hayden (5th overall to Arizona in 2018) is currently with the Coyotes and it’s not clear if he will be made available. Hayden represented Canada last year when the Canadians finished 6th in the tournament, Blackhawks rookie Kirby Dach (3rd overall 2019 to CHI) is playing with the Blackhawks so, similar to Hayden, he may or not be made available by his NHL team but Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Velano (30th overall in 2018) is expected to be made available. Velano is a 19 year old center from Quebec who is playing with the Red Wings AHL team.
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NHL News & Notes to 22 Oct 2019

League-related

  • There are three outdoor games this season with the first one being this Saturday, October 26 at Mosiac field in Regina with the Calgary Flames playing the Winnipeg Jets. It’s being called The Heritage Classic game. The whole NHL outdoor game has been very successful with 70,000 fans attending some of the games. There is a lot of work, mostly at the league-level, that goes into taking an NHL game outside and preparations for Saturday’s game started about 2 weeks ago. I heard the forecasted temperature for Saturday in Regina is approx 10 degrees celsius. Planners don’t expect the sun to be a factor for players and fans as it’s a 7 PM local time start.
  • The two others outdoor games this season are New Years Day 2020 – the Winter Classic – with Nashville playing Dallas at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas. On February 15, 2020 LA is playing Colorado at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs. I read where Commissioner Gary Bettman said the outdoor game is so popular every team in the league wants to participate in one and team’s that already have want to be involved in another.
  • Regarding extending the CBA beyond 2022, it was reported this week the two sides have made progress on the escrow issue plus the cap numbers with the new USA TV deal but they still are not on the same page regarding NHL players participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics that are being held in China. The players generally want to go but the league sees no value to them to closing the league for two weeks mid-season.
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently attended a Sports Gaming conference which relates to the sports betting law that changed in the USA in 2018. Basically, as far as the NHL is concerned, betting on games is still in the early stages and the league has taken the approach to partner with gaming companies such as MGM. With the leagues player tracking software that is now scheduled for roll out in the post-season, fans would be able to bet on many different things. Will the team on the PP score a goal, how fast was a shot, etc. Any data element that is tracked could possibly be bet on. https://frntofficesport.com/sports-betting-insight/

Team Management

  • With the New Jersey Devils (2-4-2), AGM Tom Fitzgerald has moved behind the bench to assist head coach John Hynes. Fitzgerald was previously as assistant coach with the Penguins. The Devils are 2-0 since the change was made. I heard where GM Ray Shero said he is not considering removing head coach John Hynes at this time and it’s on the players to turn things around.
  • Jets head coach Paul Maurice won his 700th game on Sunday. He becomes just the 7th head coach to win as many games. Maurice said after the win he still feels young (he’s 52) and hopes there will be many more wins in his future. He added coaching good teams such as the Jets has resulted in him accumulating a lot of coaching wins.
  • Detroit Red Wings Senior VP Jim Devellano underwent successful brain surgery last week for a benign tumor. He expected to fully recover.

Scuttlebutt

  • The Ottawa Senators have put their search for a president of hockey operations on hold. They apparently contacted an existing NHL executive, thought to be Rangers part-time/retired exec Glen Sather, to assist them in their search but it didn’t lead to a hire. Apparently some of the names put forward were not what the Sens were looking for. Other names that were speculated to be contacted last year include former Flyers GM Ron Hextall, current Detroit GM Steve Yzerman, Seattle’s GM Ron Francis, Flyers AGM Dean Lombardi and former Canucks president Trevor Linden. None of those people were apparently interested. 
  • The Minnesota Wild were through Toronto last week and everyone got to see how much they are struggling (2-6-0). New General Manager Bill Guerin was reported to have said he’s not going to be making any panic moves right now but he added everyone is the organization is under evaluation. Head coach Bruce Boudreau is in the final year of his contract. The Wild are said to be older and slower than other teams. Their #1 center is 36 yo captain Mikko Koivu who has 4 assists after 8 games. Some experts question their July 1, 2019 signing of 32 year old forward Mats Zuccarello, 5 years at $6 M /season. They have 35 year old forward Zach Parise under contract for 5 more years, after this one, at $7.5 M so GM Guerin has a lot of tough work ahead of him. Experts say the organization needs a top draft pick or two to start a rebuild but they currently don’t have one. The organization’s home sellout streak recently stopped after 251 games.
  • The OIlers are off to a terrific 7-1-1 start. Head coach Dave Tippett has had remarkable early success with getting the most out of the players. With McDavid and Draisaitl leading the way offensively, they’ve started to play better team defense and are getting very good goaltending. Dave Tippett said they don’t have a #1 goaltender – instead and 1A (Mike Smith) and 1B (Mikko Koskinen). Koskinen is 4-0-0 this season with a 2.21 GAA and a .934 SV%. Smith is 3-1-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .930 SV%. Rookie defenseman Ethan Bear is playing with veteran Darnell Nurse on the team’s top d pairing. GM Ken Holland has to be very happy with new forward James Neal who has 9 goals, tied for the league lead with Bruins forward David Pastrnak. Neal is shooting 33% after team’s first nine games. Neal had just 7 goals all of last season. The team recalled forward Sam Gagner from the AHL late last week where he had 2 goals and 2 assists in 4 games.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly looking for a top nine forward and are interested in trying to acquire one of first rounders Islanders Josh Ho-Sang (28th overall in 2014) or Oilers hold out Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall in 2016). I’ve heard the Oilers want a top prospect back for Puljujarvi even though he’s struggled at the NHL level (37 points in 137 NHL games). He’s does have 13 points on 7 goals in 13 games this season in the Finnish league.
  • There is another Russian player that is interested in playing in the NHL, his name is Konstantin Okulov, 24, and in his recent 65 KHL games he’s recorded 25 goals and 19 assists. The Leafs and Canadiens are the two teams that have been identified as most interested in signing the forward.
  • The LA Kings have three NHL capable goaltenders – starter Jonathan Quick, Jack Campbell and Cal Petersen – and would like to move starter Quick. Quick, 33, has 3 years, after the current one, remaining on his contract at $5.8 M /season. He’s struggled this season with a 1-3 record, an .828 SV% and a 5.06 GAA. LA’s 3rd goaltender, Cal Petersen, does require waivers next season so the Kings could lose him for nothing if they can’t move Quick. Experts suggest there is not much of a market for Quick given his contract and performance. He does have 2 Stanley Cups to his credit.
  • Sabres Finnish defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen had asked for a trade as recently as last season but said the other day he’s really enjoying playing for Sabres new coach Ralph Krueger. Ristolainen basically said he’s enjoying the early season with the Sabres as much any time he’s played hockey. The Sabres have surprised many people with a 7-1-1 start. Goaltender Carter Hutton has had a terrific start with a 5-0 record and a 1.39 GAA with a .953 SV%. Krueger has been able to get the Sabres player to buy in and, as a group, seem motivated. Krueger had been out of he NHL for the past 6 seasons. He most recently was chairman of a European football team so the early results have to be considered a surprise. The Sabres have the longest playoff drought of any NHL team having not made the post-season since the 2010-11 season.
  • Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is off to an incredible start with 18 points in 10 games to lead the NHL in points. He’s just the third defenseman to record as many points after his team’s first 10 games (Bobby Orr 18 points in 1969-70 & again in 1973-74 season, and Paul Coffey 20 points in 1988-89). Carlson has already recorded three 3 assist games. Could be his year to win a Norris as the league’s top defenseman.
  • Former Vegas forward Erik Haula is off to a strong start in Carolina with 7 goals and 8 points after 9 games. The Finnish forward played in just 15 games last season after injuring his knee in a game on November 4, 2018. He required knee surgery and Vegas moved him, due to their cap crunch, for a prospect (Nicolas Roy) and a 5th round draft pick.
  • Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka signed a contract to play in Finland while he awaits a trade from Dallas. The Stars issued the player a qualifying offer and therefore own his rights but the player did not sign it instead requesting a trade.
  • Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson set a record by scoring his first 7 goals on the PP. Drafted by the Sabres in the seventh round (2014), Olofsson attended six Sabres training camps before, this season, finally making the team. He’s got an explosive shot that looks like a Laine or Brett Hull shot. 
  • Apparently former Hurricanes player Justin Williams has not ruled out returning to play for the team this season but it seems he’d be looking at around Christmas time/start of the new year before deciding. Williams is still a good player, he was third in team points last season with 53 plus he was team captain. He also has won 3 Cups.
  • Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris is apparently available and is in the role of 4th line center (#1 Ryan Johansen, #2 Matt Duchene, #3 Nick Bonino) with the Predators. Nashville GM David Polie was trying to trade Turris this summer but Turris has 5 season’s at $6 M /season remaining on his contract. Turris has 3 goals and 3 assists in the Predators first 8 games this season.
  • TSN reported this week there is a growing sense of optimism that Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will return to the team. He is living in Winnipeg as his kids are in school there. I’ve not heard if he is in decent shape or how much time he would need to prepare to play games. The Jets blueline is fairly inexperienced. Josh Morrissey is their number one defenseman with former Rangers player Neal Pionk their #2. Their #3 defenseman Dimtry Kulikov was just granted a leave of absence from the team which leaves 4 rookies on the Jets blueline.
  • Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has recorded a point in all 9 of the team’s games this season.
  • Ottawa is in the league basement after their first 8 games (1-6-1) and their powerplay is 1 for 23.

Signings

  • New Jersey signed first overall draft pick from 2017, Nico Hischier, to a 7 year, $50.75 M deal or $7.25 M / season starting next season. The deal buys three of Hischier’s UFA season’s.  Hischier has recorded 101 points in 157 games played (.64 PPG) on 37 goals but is noted to be a strong 2-way forward. Devils head coach John Hynes said he expects Hischier to vie to a Selke trophy in the future. For the new contract, both Jets forward Kyle Connor (.70 PPG) and Coyotes forward Clayton Keller (.69 PPG) were seen as comparables for Hischier. Hischier is just 20 years old and is the only Swiss-born player drafted into the NHL first overall. I heard both the player and team wanted a long term deal from the start of their negotiations. The deal was signed almost a full season before his current contract expires, similar to Thomas Chabot (8 seasons at $8 M /season), Alex DeBrincat (3 years at $8.4 M with $9 M in the third year), Clayton Keller ($7.15 M for 8 seasons avg .68 PPG) and Avs defenseman Sam Girard. Some other high profile players in the final year of their entry level contract include Islanders forward Mat Barzal (.88 PPG – he’d be looking at $8.5 – $9.5 M /season as a guess) and Blue Jackets Pierre-Luc Dubois (.65 PPG).
  • San Jose signed forward Patrick Marleau to a one year deal at the league minimum $700,000 / season. Marleau enters his 22nd NHL season. He said recently he was really only interested in returning to the Sharks and wants to retire as a member of the organization. Both Joe Thornton and Marleau say they are going to play as long as possible.
  • Florida signed veteran forward Brian Boyle to a one year contract for $940,000 /season (he’ll actually get paid $849 K since he’s not paid for games missed). Boyle scored 18 goals & 24 points last season while playing in the bottom six group of forwards which was split between New Jersey and Nashville. Boyle adds a lot of experience to the Panthers as he’s played in 766 NHL games over his career.

Milestones

  • Coyotes forward Phil Kessel played in his 1000 NHL game last week. He is the first player from the 2006 draft (Kessel went 5th overall) and  the 3rd youngest active player to reach the milestone. Kessel has also played in 778 consecutive games with is the seventh longest consecutive games played streak in league history.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights reached the 100 win mark as a franchise last week. They were the second fastest team to reach the milestone (the Senators in 1917-18 were the fastest).
  • Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is now tied with Terry Sawchuk for 7th all-time in wins with 445. Of active goaltenders, only New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist has more wins (450).
  • Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat became the 4th player from his 2013 draft class to reach 100 career goals (MacKinnon, Barkov and Monahan the others). Horvat was named the Canucks 14th captain in franchise history earlier this season. Defenseman Chris Tanev, Alex Edler and forward Brandon Sutter were named assistant captains.
  • Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg played in his 500th career game (121 G & 138 A for 259 pts) last week. Experts say Silfverberg is the Ducks top 2 way forward. He was named assistant captain at the start of the season with defenseman Josh Manson wearing the other ‘A’. His name was mentioned in trade last season when Anaheim was struggling to win games and Silfverberg was a pending UFA (he’s since signed for 5 season’s at $5.25 M). Ducks are one of the surprise teams this season with a 6-3-0 record under new head coach Dallas Eakins.
  • Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler recently scored his 60th goal as a member of the Ducks. That tied him with Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer for most goals from a defenseman in Ducks franchise history. Teammate Ryan Getzlaf recently became the franchise leader in games played (988 games).
  • Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom recently played in his 900th career game (881 pts or .97 PPG)- all with the Capitals organization. Backstrom is a UFA at season’s end. No word on possible contract talks.
  • Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko skated in his 500th career games last week. Only Hall of Famer Brett Hull has scored more goals (359) than Tarasenko (211) with the Blues organization.

Leafs

  • The Leafs are now 10 games into the new season with a 5-3-2 record. They lead the league in goals for with an average of 3.8 goals/game but defending/keeping the puck out of their net is a bit of an issue. Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin are the team’s top two defenseman with Rielly also being 2nd in the league in points (11 after 10 games). The return of forward Zach Hyman next Saturday should help them defend better. Defenseman Justin Holl is getting a chance with Travis Dermott injured and he has performed well.
  • Sounds like Dermott is ready to return but he can’t play in a game until next Saturday, October 26th since there is a rule that players put on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) have to spend at least 24 days on there. The clock on both Dermott’s and Hyman’s stint on LTIR started on October 2nd, the first day of the regular season. Sportsnet was saying on Saturday that when Dermott and Hyman return, the team has to move players out to get under the $81.5 M salary cap limit. Forward Nic Patan has apparently asked to be moved as he wants to play more regularly. Some of the other names that could either be traded to transferred to the AHL include Nick Shore, Jason Spezza, Dmytro Timashov plus defenseman Kevin Gravel, Justin Holl and Martin Marincin. 
  • Auston Matthews now has scored 33 goals in 42 career games in the month of October. Incredible.
  • Disappointing to hear captain John Tavares broke his finger late in last Thursday night’s game against the Capitals. It was a Morgan Rielly shot from the blueline that caught Tavares in the right hand. Tavares said half his hand went numb after. The captain has been incredibly durable in his career and had played 179 straight games with Isles and Leafs since 2017-18 before this finger injury. He was working on the ice with the Leafs skating coach Barb Underhill on Sunday.
  • With Tavares injured, William Nylander moves into his spot in middle of the ice of the team’s first PP. Nylander has a respectable 6 points and 3 goals after 10 games. It took him 26 games to reach 3 goals last season where he missed games before December 1st when he signed his contract.
  • Kasperi Kapanen struggled in his time playing his off (left) wing with Tavares and Marner. He’s looked a lot better since moving onto the right side on the Kerfoot line with Trevor Moore.
  • Babcock talks a lot in his interviews about the importance of winning faceoffs. He believes that’s key in most situations from the PP to being better defensively (winning the draw in the d zone). Forth line center Freddy Gauthier has won 64% of his faceoffs this season to lead all Leafs players (plus he’s 6’5” and 235 pounds). With 2 goals and 3 points and a -1 rating, Gauthier has had a strong start to the season and recently said he’s feeling more confident. The Leafs head coach would like to use Tavares and Matthews for all the offensive zone faceoffs if he can trust the 3rd and 4th line centers, Kerfoot and Gauthier, to win the d zone faceoffs.
  • Some of the reporters were questioning Babcock about his use of goaltenders and why Freddy Andersen started against a weaker Columbus team and back-up Hutchinson starts against the Bruins. Babcock’s reasoning is about getting the most points. The team is more rested in the first game of back to backs so their chances of winning the first game are greater so use your top goaltender to secure 2 points. With a more tired team on the second night, there is less chance of gaining a win.
  • A lot of knowledgeable fans are raving about the play of Jake Muzzin since he arrived in Toronto. The Leafs have 3 of their top 4 defenseman on expiring contracts (Ceci, Barrie and Muzzin are all UFA) but some think if there is one of those players they can try and re-sign it would be Muzzin. There have reportedly been no contract talks between the Leafs and Muzzin though it was said the team needs more time to assess their blue line and haven’t looked how it may look next season.
  • The Leafs have a post game tradition where the player of the game, I believe selected by Mike Babcock, receives the Raptors basketball. The Leafs are integrating the Raptors championship ways more into their team.
  • Defenseman Rasmus Sandin was sent to the Marlies after 6 NHL games. He impressed a lot of people by making the team out of training camp. Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader caught Sandin with an elbow in his last NHL game and Sandin was bloodied. I think it caught the attention of some of the management (he’s a young prospect just finding his way) plus he was getting just 12 minutes a game. With the Marlies he’s on the top d pairing with fellow first rounder (2017) Timothy Liljegren.
  • The Marlies are off to a terrific 6-0 start. They’ve recorded 2 shutouts in the 6 games and have scored 23 goals while allowing just 11. Forward Igor Koshkov has at least one point in every game. Mike Babcock said the other day it’s very positive that their young prospects can be apart of a winning program and learn what that’s like. Leafs AGM Laurence Gilman is General Manager of the Marlies. The undefeated record looks good on both head coach Sheldon Keefe and Gilman. Gilman was AGM in Vancouver before joining the Leafs front office. 
  • The Leafs have 4 games this week –
    • Monday at home against Columbus
    • Tuesday against the Bruins in Boston
    • Friday at home against Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Sharks
    • Saturday night in Montreal

Injuries

  • Evgeni Malkin suffered a soft tissue inujry to his leg in the Penguins 2nd game of the season and will miss at least a month.
  • One of Arizona’s top defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson suffered a cracked fibula (leg) and will miss 3 months. Hjalmarsson suffered the injury blocking a shot. 

Odds & Ends

  • The Blackhawks have an active home sell out streak of 500 consecutive games. This includes 436 regular season games and 64 playoff games. Chicago leads the NHL in average attendance.
  • Former Oilers executive Craig MacTavish was fired from his KHL coaching position after a 3-5 start. No word if he’ll try to get back in the NHL again.
  • Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle currently has the 5th longest games played streak at 800 games. He needs 31 games to reach 4th (Andrew Cogliano) and 164 more games to tie Doug Jarvis for first all-time.
  • Jets forward Patrik Laine is off to a strong start – tied for the team lead with 12 points in 9 games. Jets captain Blake Wheeler said one of his goals is to help Laine become one of the NHL’s top players. Experts have noticed Laine is a lot more focused, professional in his approach and playing a more complete game so far this season.
  • Habs forward Jonathan Drouin is also off to a strong start, he has 8 points on 3 goals after the team’s first 9 games. Drouin additionally has recorded at least a point in 7 of the team’s first 9 games. Head coach Claude Julien said the other day Drouin is playing as well as he ever has as a Montreal Canadien. Of course, Drouin was acquired from Tampa Bay for defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (9th overall in 2016).
  • First overall draft pick (2019) Jack Hughes has just 2 points after 9 games. He said the players and especially defenseman are a lot bigger and stronger than in leagues he’s played in (he was most recently with the USA National Development Program). The Devils say he will stick with the team all season, they could return him to junior team before his 10th game and not start his entry level contract.
  • There has already been three instances this season where a player had 4 goals in a game, James Neal, David Pastrnak and Anthony Mantha. Last season there were only 4 times all season a player recorded 4 goals in a game.
  • Former Flyers and Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald has signed with SC Bern in the Swiss League. MacDonald has played 586 NHL games and attended Calgary Flames training camp on PTO but was cut on the final day of the pre-season.
  • Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk said Monday he’s being diagnosed with stomach cancer. Hawerchuk, 56, is on leave from the OHL Barrie Colts where he is the team’s head coach.

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NHL News & Notes to 06 Oct 2019

League

  • Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, Bill Daly, spoke about a few topics while in Prague for the Flyers vs Blackhawks season-opening game. He said both the NHLPA and league are in discussions about having another World Cup of Hockey. He added it’s something both parties see value in. Daly said fans could expected a similar type of tournament that was played in 2016 in Toronto but further details need to be worked out. As for more games and teams heading to Europe for exhibition or regular season games, Daly said they are going to announce teams that will take part for next season soon. The ‘Hawks vs Flyers game had 17,463 fans which was a record for fans watching an NHL at O2 arena in Prague. There’s been some talk the NHL will have a regular season game next year in Russia and Penguins player Evgeni Malkin would be center stage. Seems there’s been no change in the league’s position regarding having their players participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics that will take place in China.
  • The NHLPA and league are still in negotiations about extending the CBA beyond 2022. Experts say possibly something could be announced around the All-Star game that’s in January 2020.
  • The league hired their first China-based employee recently, Sandy Ma Yun, who has an auto racing and marketing background. Her title is Director of International Strategy. The league also opened a Beijing office in the same building as the NBA China office that currently has just the one person (the NBA has 200 people in their China office). Read where Commissioner Bettman said they’ll grow their headcount in Beijing but are taking a slow approach for now. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the biggest challenge with helping China develop players and league’s is infrastructure – China doesn’t have the rinks plus there is no tradition of hockey in the country. The league has an agreement in place to have an NHL exhibition game in China for four of the next five seasons. The participants for the 2020-21 season are expected to be announced soon, 

Team Management

  • The Calgary Flames signed General Manager Brad Treliving to a multi year extension. Treliving was in the final year of his existing deal. Treliving is entering his 6th season as Flames GM. The Flames were first in the Western Conference last season with 107 points which was the 2nd highest total in franchise history. Since he was appointed GM in 2014, the team’s record is 212-163-35 (a .560 winning percentage). 
  • The Flames also announced Chris Snow has been appointed Assistant General Manager. He had been in the role of Director of Hockey Analytics since 2011. Snow has been working closely with GM Brad Treliving on hockey-related matters providing data to assist in the organization’s decision making process. Snow worked for the Minnesota Wild as Director of Hockey Operations between 2006 and 2010 before joining the Flames. Snow got his start as a hockey journalist writing about sports for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, moved into 3rd place in all-time games coached passing another former Islanders head coach, the late Al Albour. Trotz has coached in 1608 games (Arbour coached 1607). Only Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville (1638) and Scotty Bowman (2141) have coached in more NHL games. Trotz has won the Coach of the Year award twice including last season, his first with the Islanders.
  • Kevyn Adams, who played in 540 NHL games and won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, was named Senior VP of Business Administration for the Buffalo Sabres (it’s not a hockey operations position). Adams has a lengthy association with the owners of the Sabres, Pegula Family, and was named GM of Harbor Center last January.

Seattle

  • The AHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Seattle’s application for a 32nd AHL franchise to be located in Palm Springs, California. The new team will play at a new $250 M arena on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation in Palm Springs. The arena is still being built and will be ready for the team’s first season, in the Fall of 2021. The new arena will seat up to 10,000 fans. The Seattle group has yet to announce the team name for their AHL team (or their NHL one). The AHL’s team website is http://www.ahlpalmsprings.com. The AHL will now have 6 California-based AHL teams including the Flames, San Jose and LA’s AHL teams.
  • Seattle hired Stu Barnes, Cammi Granto (Vancouver-based), Dave Hunter (Boston-based), John Goodwin (Toronto-based) and Ulf Samuelsson (San Diego) as pro scouts. Granto is the first female NHL scout but GM Ron Francis said she was hired because she is qualified. Granto has won a gold and silver medal at the Olympics and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. She said she’s had other opportunities but Seattle was a good fit. She resides in Vancouver, BC with her husband, former NHL player now broadcaster, Ray Ferraro. 
  • Seattle scouts have been seen at NHL games already this season including John Goodwin who was at one of the two Leafs home games.

Scuttlebutt

  • Bo Horvat is expected to be announced as the new Vancouver Canucks captain. The team will announce it at their first home game of the season, Wednesday, October 9 before they play the LA Kings. Some fans expect the previous Canucks captain, now retired Henrik Sedin, to be a part of the ceremony. Horvat has already played 379 NHL games and is just 24 years old. He was acquired from New Jersey with goaltender Cory Schneider going to the Devils. It’s a trade that’s worked out very well for the Canucks.
  • The Oilers announced captain Connor McDavid’s assistants will be forwards Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus defenseman Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse.
  • The Winnipeg Jets put an ‘A’ on defenseman Josh Morrissey’s jersey. Morrissey recently signed an 8 year $50 M contract with the team.
  • Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is still undecided about resuming his NHL career. The Jets are apparently giving him space to reach a decision.
  • Oilers forward Sam Gagner was assigned to the AHL after he cleared waivers. I heard he may consider retirement if he does not get a recall fairly soon. He has a very young family, including a new born. Read where Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said he wants skill in the top six group of forward and penalty killer types in the bottom six.
  • Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang has asked for a trade after he didn’t make the Islanders out of training camp. Ho-Sang was drafted 28th overall in 2014. Ho-Sang has not reported to the Islanders AHL team in Bridgeport and it’s not clear if he will while he awaits a possible trade.
  • Nashville Predators GM David Poile is in contract negotiations with the agent for captain Roman Josi who is one season from UFA. Poile said the other day they’ve been talking with Josi’s rep for about a year. Seems it’s a question of when a deal is announced not if. Josi is said to be seeking between $8 M- $9 M/season on an max (8 year) deal. The other high profile defenseman that’s a UFA is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues want to re-sign the player but the expected rate would be similar to what Josi is seeking.
  • Many fans were surprised to see former first rounder, 13th overall in 2011, Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi end up on waivers. Baertschi has played in 285 career games but just 26 last season as he dealt with concussion problems. He will report to the Canucks AHL team in Utica.
  • Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson is on the trade block. The Penguins signed him to a 5 year contract at $3.25 M /season on July 1, 2018.
  • The Bruins have started contract talks with defenseman Torey Krug who is one year from UFA status. Krug has recorded three straight 50 point seasons. Last season, Krug recorded 53 points in 64 games. Reports indicate Krug is looking at the Jared Spurgeon contract, seven years & $53 M or $7.57 M/season, as a comparable. Krug has said he’d be willing to take less to sign with the Bruins.
  • Former Leafs forward Patrick Marleau is still planning to sign with a team this season. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in early September that the Sharks have no plans to sign Marleau. The player was hoping to return to the Sharks for one more season. Some teams I’ve heard that do have interest are the Oilers and Coyotes. Marleau had 16 goals last season but with no training camp it could be challenging for him.
  • The St. Louis Blues signed #1 center Brayden Schenn to an 8 year deal at $6.5 M /season. Schenn was to become a UFA after this season. Schenn has played in 588 career NHL games and has recorded 372 points. He was drafted 5th overall in 2009 by LA.
  • The Capitals rookie goaltender IIya Samsonov, a 2015 first rounder 22nd overall, picked up his first career win in a 2-1 game against the Islanders. Samsonov made 25 saves on 26 shots. With Brayden Holtby a UFA a season’s end, I would guess the team wants to see what they have in Samsonov. The teams 3rd goaltender Pheonix Copley was waived the other day and will go to the Caps AHL team in Hershey.

RFA’s

  • Jets forward Kyle Connor signed a 7 year $50 M contract. It’s an average annual value of $7.143 M /season. Connor, 22, has recorded 129 points in 181 games with 68 goals over his 3 seasons in Winnipeg. The Jets were reported to have wanted to get Connor on a long term deal from the start of their negotiations. Experts say it’s a good deal for Winnipeg. He’s recorded 31 and 34 goals the past two seasons.  
  • Colorado got one of their stars signed, Mikko Rantanen signed a 6 year deal with an AAV of $9.25 M. The player recorded 84 points two seasons ago and 87 points (31 goals) last season. Rantanen gets $12 M in each of the first two seasons of his deal.
  • The Jets and noted goal scorer Patrik Laine agreed to a 2 year deal for $6.5 M /season. This season Laine will make $6 M and next season his salary is $7.5 M. It seems both sides were preferring short term as Laine wants to play on one of the Jets top 2 lines (he’s been on the third line most of his NHL career). Laine’s agent said they used to negotiation to discuss Laine’s role with the team and both sides “got on the same page”. Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff called Laine a unique player; he’s scored 36, 34 and 30 goals / season in three seasons with the Jets (.46 goals/game) and is still just 21 years old.
  • Chicago signed 21 yo forward Alex DeBrincat to a 3 year deal with an AAV of $6.4 M /season. The deal will pay DeBrincat $5.1 M in year one (next season), $5.1 M in year two and $9 M in the third year. The player was signed a year before his current contract expires. The player has an incredible 70 goals in 165 games (.42 goals/game). The ‘Hawks are apparently next going to get forward Dylan Strome’s name on a new deal. Strome, drafted 3rd overall in 2015 by Arizona, recorded 51 points in 58 games after the late November 2018 trade from the Coyotes. The highest profile player that is in the final year of his ELC, like DeBrincat was, is Islanders star forward Mathew Barzal. He is a cornerstone piece of their franchise. I not heard if any contract discussions have started. A final name is first overall draft pick from 2017 Nico Hischier who has recorded 100 points in 153 games to date. Hischier needs a new contract by the start of next season.
  • Dallas defenseman Julius Honka, who Dallas is actively trying to trade, and Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi, who signed in the Finnish league, are the only two remaining unsigned RFA’s.
  • New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad has recorded 4 points / game and 4 total goals through the Rangers first two games of the new season. Zibanejad is only the second Rangers player in franchise history to achieve 8 points in the team’s first two games. Zibanejad, who’s father is Iranian and mother Finnish, is playing with Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich.

Leafs

  • Of course, Oakville native John Tavares was named the 27th captain in Leafs history. He was introduced before the team’s first home game against Ottawa last week with the ‘C’ on his jersey. GM Kyle Dubas said they wanted to make the announcement in an understated way as that is like Tavares personality. Defenseman Morgan Rielly will wear an ‘A’ all-season while Marner and Matthew will rotate the other ‘A’. Dubas also said Freddy Andersen, Zach Hyman and Jake Muzzin (the only player on the roster with a Cup) are also part of the team’s leadership group.
  • Forward Auston Matthews has 5 goals in 3 games so far and he really been working on his one-timer and it shows. John Tavares said when Matthews get his one time on net, it’s almost unstoppable. He has 5 goals in the team’s three games and  looks stronger and more dominate than ever. He’s been a noted strong starter recording 10 goals in his first six games last season and the year before that he recorded 12 points in the teams first 8 games. The only player that’s recorded more even strength goals since Matthews joined in league is Connor McDavid. Matthews seems a sure bet to get 50 if he can stay healthy. Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, said the other day it’s his goal to turn Matthews into the league’s top two way center saying that’s how you win championships. Adding when you can defend well, you get the puck back sooner and spend more time in the offensive zone. Matthews seems to have improved his two way play every season in the league.
  • Morgan Rielly has 5 assists after the 3 Leafs games including a 3 assist game against Columbus. It was his 6th three assist game in his career. There are only 3 former Leafs defenseman more 3 assist games- Ian Turnbull had eight, Tomas Kaberle had 12 and Hall of Famer Borje Salming had an incredible 29 three assist games. Rielly skating looks as smooth as ever. I am hoping for a Norris trophy for the 25 year old. He seems to be as respected by his teammates as much as any player on the team.
  • Thought new addition, forward IIya Mikheyev, has looked very good in just his first 3 NHL games. He has a goal and 2 assists and adds some scoring punch to the third line. Trevor Moore looks good and Alex Kerfoot looked terrific on Saturday against Montreal (1 goals and 2 assists).
  • Seems the goal is to keep Freddy Andersen’s game starts to around 60 (he’s started 66,66 and 60 in three seasons with the Leafs). Andersen wants to be rested when the most important games, the playoffs, start.
  • The Leafs are going to be playing 6 pre-season games next season after playing 8 this season and for the past few seasons. The CBA mandates teams play between 6 and 8 preseason games.
  • The team has 3 games this week –
    • Monday vs the Cup champs, St. Louis Blues, in Toronto
    • Thursday against Tampa Bay in Toronto (should be very entertaining with two of the league’s top offensive teams)
    • In Detroit on Saturday night.

PTO’s

  • The Florida Panthers released forward Troy Brouwer from his PTO. Brouwer, 34, would probably be looking to Europe if he wants to keep playing professionally.
  • Russian forward Anton Burdasov was released from his PTO with the Oilers.
  • The Bruins signed defenseman Alex Petrovic to a one year deal at $700,000 after he attended their training camp on a PTO.
  • The Flames released forward Devante Smith-Pelly from his PTO. He’s played in 395 NHL games but there seems to be no interest from NHL teams.
  • Matt Read, who attended Leafs training camp on a PTO, was released from the PTO before the start of the season and signed an AHL-only one year deal with the Toronto Marlies.

Injuries

  • New Dallas Stars forward Corey Perry is still recovering from suffering a broken bone in his foot in the preseason. Sounds like he’s a week or two away from being ready to play in games.
  • Dallas placed forward Martin Hanzel on Long Term Injury Reserve and it sounds as though his NHL career is over.
  • Recently signed Lightning forward Brayden Point has yet to play this season and will miss at least the next two games. Point had off-season hip surgery on both hips. Point played though the hip injury most of last season so after getting the problem fixed, he could be better once he’s in game shape. Point had 41 goals and 92 points last season.
  • Oilers top 1 or 2 defenseman Adam Larsson broke his ankle blocking a shot in the team’s first game against Vancouver. Larsson will miss 6-8 weeks and the team recalled first rounder defenseman Evan Bouchard from the AHL.
  • Flyers center Nolan Patrick has been diagnosed with a migraine disorder and will miss two to three weeks. He did not accompany the team to Europe to start the season.

Player Transactions

  • Carolina moved pending UFA defenseman Justin Faulk to St. Louis for another pending UFA defenseman Joel Edmundson. Also going to Carolina was a Czech prospect named Dominik Bokk plus a 2020 7th round draft pick. Faulk then signed a 7 years deal with St. Louis at $6.5 M /season.
  • The Coyotes sign goaltender Darcy Kuemper two a 2 year deal at $4.5 M /season. Kuemper played in 55 games last season and had a 2.33 GAA with a .925 SV%.

Retirement

  • Lee Stempniak announced his retirement after 13 NHL seasons. Stempniak played for 10 NHL teams and in over 900 NHL games. 

Odds & Ends

  • Carolina named forward Jordan Staal captain with forwards Jordan Martinook and defenseman Jaccob Slavin assistants. Staal is entering his 14th NHL season and 7th with the Hurricanes. He was co-captain of the Hurricanes in the 2017-18 season. His brother, Eric, was Hurricanes captain from the 2009-10 season through to the 2015-16 season.
  • The New York Rangers are going with four alternate captains this season. They are defenseman Marc Staal and forwards Chris Keider, Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast.
  • The Ottawa Senators announced they will retire former player Chris Phillips #4 jersey before their game on February 18th, 2020 against the Buffalo Sabres. Phillips joins Daniel Alfredsson #11 in having his jersey retired by the organization.
  • Flames first rounder (2019) Jakob Pelletier was named captain of his junior team, the Moncton Wildcats. The Flames recently signed him to his 3 year entry level contract.
  • The QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic had a ceremony last weekend where they retired Sidney Crosby’s #87 jersey. The QMJHL also retired Crosby’s #87 number league-wide. Rimouski forward Alexis Lafreniere scored the OT winning goal on Crosby jersey retirement night. Lafreniere is the leading candidate to go first overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
  • The new rules around coaches challenge – starting this season, the first unsuccessful coaches challenge results in a 2 minute penalty – has the coaches being more selective about asking for a video review. Last season, the first unsuccessful challenge meant the team lost their timeout. This season, after the first unsuccessful challenge, subsequent challenges will cost a team a double minor. Flames head coach Bill Peters says if the opposition team has a strong PP he’s not going to challenge as often this season adding the risk is not as great at the reward.
  • The Canadiens announced hockey legend Guy Lafleur had successful quadruple bypass heart surgery. A full recovery is expected after several months of rest.
  • First overall (2019) draft pick Jack Hughes is living with NHL veteran Cory Schneider. Hughes still doesn’t have a car and travels with Schneider to practices and home games. 
  • NY Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist recorded career win 450 last week which places him 6th in all-time wins. Seems as though the Rangers are going to use both Lundqvist and Alex Georgiev this season.
  • Forward Cody Glass, the first ever draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knight organization (6th overall in 2017), has made the Golden Knights. He recorded a goal in his first game. Glass was an offensive star with the WHL Portland Winterhawks.
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NHL News & Notes to 22 Sep 2019. Regular season starts on Wed. October 2nd.

League

  • The NHLPA announced on Monday that they were declining their option to re-open the CBA while the NHL announced at the end of August that they were also not going re-open the agreement. This means labor peace for three more seasons – until the end of the 2021-22 season. There was a Board of Governors meeting on Tues. Sept. 17th, the day after the NHLPA voted to not re-open the agreement, and the general comments from that meeting were about how revenues are growing and Seattle is joining the NHL and this benefits both owners and players. For the NHLPA, there were a number of players, particularly at the NHLPA’s executive leadership level, that wanted to re-open the agreement which would mean no CBA past the end of the 2019-20 season, but the players union voted and there was not enough support to re-open. The CBA agreement now runs until the end of the 2021-22 season which is the first season of the new expansion Seattle team. There is also the US TV deal which is set to expire in 2 years (end of 2020-21 season) and a new deal is expected to be as much as 3-5 times the value of the current one. This will increase what the league calls hockey related revenue (HRR) – revenue from games – that the players and owners split 50/50. As HRR grows, the salary cap goes up which makes the players happy. There is some talk of the NHLPA and NHL extending the CBA expiry date from the end of the 2021-22 season to 2025 or 2026 and the two sides are going to keep discussing and negotiating on that. I heard an estimate that by the late January All-Star break, an announcement could be made that sees the players and league extend their CBA agreement beyond the currently agreed three more seasons.
  • As part of the NHL Global Series, the Flyers and Blackhawks are completing their training camps in Switzerland and Germany respectively. The ‘Hawks will will play an exhibition game against a Berlin-based team on Sept. 29th. The Flyers will travel to Switzerland and play an exhibition game against Lausanne HC in Lausanne on Sept. 30th. The Flyers and ‘Hawks will play their first regular season game against each other on Fri. October 4th in Prague.
  • The NHL apparently signed a 4 year deal with their on ice officials on Saturday, Sept. 21 though it’s not been officially announced by the league. Apparently their prior contract expired on Aug. 31.
  • As it’s now the second and final week of preseason, roster cuts will happen and more regular NHL players will start playing in exhibition games. The regular season starts a week from this Wednesday, on October 2nd.

Team Management

  • The Bruins signed their head coach, Bruce Cassidy, to a three year deal at a reported $3 M /season. Cassidy has 117 wins in 191 Bruins games coached and is said to be a good teacher who develops players well plus took the Bruins team within one win of a Stanley Cup last season.
  • The LA Kings have added former Flyers GM Ron Hextall as a part-time adviser to the Hockey Ops group. Hextall will be in LA for a few games per month and will watch all the Kings games on video. Hextall apparently had a few different opportunities but has familiarity of the LA organization having been their assistant GM from 2006-13. He will also consult with Kings GM Rob Blake. Hextall interviewed for the Minnesota Wild GM opening which went to Bill Guerin.
  • The New Jersey Devils named Jake Reynolds as their new President. Reynolds was formerly Chief Revenue Officer at the organization that owns the Devils – Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. Announcement here. Not sure how this move directly affect the Devils but the team has had a lot of positive things happen this summer – from landing defenseman PK Subban to getting the number one overall draft pick and selecting Jack Hughes. The organization has started contract discussion with forward Taylor Hall as he becomes unrestricted after the 2019-20 season. Hall, 27, has been clear that his main goal at this point in his career is to win. He’s played in just 5 playoff games in his nine year NHL career.
  • Martin St. Louis, who was acting as a consultant for the Blue Jackets in the second half of last season, announced on the weekend he won’t be back for the 2019-20 season saying he wants to focus on his family.
  • The Capitals announced two time Cup winner Brooks Orpik has been appointed as a player development consultant with the team. In the role, Orpik will mostly work with the ‘Caps AHL defenseman in Hershey. Orpik played in the NHL for 15 seasons playing with both the Penguins and Capitals.
  • Former Avalanche defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn has been hired by the Avs as a pro scout.

Seattle

  • The gutting and interior rebuilt of Seattle’s KeyArena is progressing on schedule with the cost still at the $930 M number and the arena construction to be completed by the summer of 2021. Seattle would start the first NHL season in the fall of 2021.

Scuttlebutt

  • The remaining restricted free agents are:
    • Lightning center Brayden Point. 41 G & 51 A for 92 points in 79 games. 1.16 PPG.
    • Avs winger Mikko Rantanen. 31 G & 56 A 87 points in 74 games. 1.17 PPG.
    • Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. 34 G & 43 A for 77 points in 80 games. .96 PPG.
    • Jets winger Kyle Conner. 34 G & 32 A for 66 points in 82 games.
    • Jets winger Patrik Laine. 30 G & 20 A for 50 points in 82 games.
  • It does not seem as though any of these five RFA’s are close to an agreement with their teams. Brayden Point’s agent, Gerry Johannson, was interviewed recently and said talks with the Lightning are ongoing and cordial but they are not close at all to an agreement. The contract that’s been offered to Point by Tampa Bay is 3 years at $5.7 M/season. Point produced two less points – and 15 more goals – than Marner who just got $10.893 M /season. Agent Mike Luit represents both RFA’s Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen and, in both situations, a deal is not close there either. Rantanen camp is using the Marner comparable while the Avs are using a Leon Draisaitl / Sebastian Aho comparible, $8.5 M /season.
  • The Winnipeg Jets are the team with the most uncertainty and news swirling around them right now. From defenseman Dustin Byfugien not reporting to training camp and being suspended without pay to unsigned RFA forward Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine. They are now without four of their top six defenseman – Jacob Trouba went to the Rangers, Tyler Myers signed as a UFA with Vancouver, defenseman Ben Chiarot went to Montreal as a UFA signing and Byfuglien is considering retirement. Patrik Laine made some recent comments to a Finnish newspaper where he said he should be on the Jets top line and on any other NHL team he would be. Laine is spending his contract standoff in Switzerland skating (not playing in games just practicing) with SC Bern of the Swiss league. As far as the Laine contract discussion, the player has recorded the 5th most goals in his first three NHL seasons of any player but there is some talk he doesn’t feel valued by the organization like an elite goal scorer should be. The Byfuglien situation will affect the Jets cap and what they can pay Laine and Connor. If Byfugien retires, there will be more cap dollars for these two RFA’s. Byfuglien is still owed $14 M dollars by the Jets -paid only if he continues playing.
  • I see the Matthew Tkachuk situation similar to Point and Rantanen in that the Flames have a pay structure that rewards their top players – Gaudreau at $6.75 M and Mark Giordano at the same number – and management does not want to drastically change what they are compensating players relative to others (Tkachuk is apparently seeking $8 M /season). They are not interested in the Marner comparable. They have a roster of players that all need to be paid and once you wildly go outside that, it become challenging to keep others happy.
  • The Hurricanes are looking to move defenseman Justin Faulk who is one year from UFA. The Hurricanes had a deal in place with Anaheim but it was contingent on Faulk being able to sign an extension with the Ducks and the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. Faulk recorded 35 points last season making $4.83 M but was said to be seeking $6.5 M on the Anaheim possible contract.
  • Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is also available but the Sabres have set the price high as the player is just 24 years old and had 43 points last season.
  • Oilers GM Ken Holland said recently it’s still not certain Connor McDavid gets into a preseason game or is even ready for the start of the season. McDavid’s knee is still healing from an injury he sustained in the team’s final regular season game last season. McDavid is hoping to play at least one preseason game but it’s apparently up to the doctors to confirm he’s is ready.
  • The Ottawa Senators signed defenseman Thomas Chabot, drafted 18th overall in 2015, to an 8 year deal at $8 M /season that takes effect in the 2020-21 season (Chabot has one season remaining in his entry level deal). It’s the most dollars ever given to a defenseman in their second contract. Chabot has recorded 80 points in 134 career NHL games (.60 PPG as a defenseman). Experts see Chabot as the Senators future #1 defenseman and a possible Norris trophy winner. Sens fans generally applauded the signing as they believe it shows that the team wants to be competitive and are willing to spend on good players. Like the Arizona Clayton Keller contract ($7.15 M/season for 8 seasons), it’s a situation where a team signs a core young player to a long term deal before they are out of their entry level contract (ELC). Some high profile names that are currently in the last year of their ELC include Isles center Mat Barzal, ‘Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat, Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois and first overall draft pick in 2017, Devils Nico Hischier. Some see the escalating cost of contracts with the current class of RFA’s (Marner, Tkachuk, Aho, Point, etc), as a driver of team’s being more proactive about signing players a season before their current deal expires.
  • Sharks forward Logan Couture was named team captain replacing Joe Pavelski who signed as a UFA with Dallas. Tomas Hertl, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Joe Thornton will rotate the A’s for the Sharks assistant captain. Head coach Peter DeBoer selected Couture as captain calling him a player that steps up at the crucial points in games. There are currently seven NHL teams without a captain – Carolina, Detroit, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Vegas. Vegas has already said they won’t name one for this season. The Red Wings decided to go with four assistant captains – Dylan Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielson & Luke Glendening.
  • Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo is one year from UFA and GM Doug Armstrong said the team wants to re-sign him. Similarly, center Brayden Schenn is also one year from UFA and the Blues want to reach an agreement on an extension. Both players said they are open to contract discussions but will not be talking about their contracts this season because they want the focus to be on the team.
  • Montreal has started contract discussions with forward Max Domi who will be a RFA after the 2019-20 season. Last season, Domi, 24, recorded career highs in goals and points with 28 G and 44 assists for 72 points in 82 games. Domi was drafted 12th overall in 2013 by Arizona and was traded to the Canadiens in June 2018 for forward Alex Galchenyuk.
  • Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka has requested a trade. Teams reported to have interest in the player include Montreal, Carolina and a third Eastern conference team. Carolina need defense help after discovering Trevor van Riemsdyk’s shoulder is not quite healed from off-season surgery.
  • Former Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner reportedly turned down a more lucrative offer from Montreal in early July to sign in Carolina. Montreal offered three years and $15.75 M ($5.25 M/season) and Gardiner ended up signing in Carolina for four seasons at $16.2 M ($4.05 M /season). The player is said to have preferred being more anonymous in a place like Carolina.

Signings

  • The Canucks were able to reach a 3 year contract agreement with forward Brock Boeser. The average annual value is $5.875 M /season. The three year term will still leave Boeser an RFA with arbitation rights at contract’s end. They were discussing a longer term but could not agree on dollars. Boeser said he considers Vancouver home and would like to play his whole career with the Canucks. Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Boeser are the young Canucks core players.
  • The Blue Jackets reached a three year, $5 M AAV contract agreement with defenseman Zach Werenski. The deal is structured as $4 M in year one, $4 M in year two and $7 M in year three. Werenski, 22, will still be an RFA at contract’s end but RFA’s must be qualified at 105% of the previous season’s salary so his next contract would start around the $7.35 M / season mark.
  • The Bruins reached a three year, $4.9 AAV contract agreement with defenseman Charlie McAvoy which was announced soon after the Werenski deal. Seems Werenski set the market rate for RFA defenseman just out of their entry level contract. McAvoy’s salary structure for the 3 year deal is $3.7 M in year one, $3.7 M in year two and $7.3 M in the final, 3rd, season.
  • The Flyers signed both their remaining RFA’s: defenseman Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny. Provorov was 6 years at $6.75 M / season and Konecny was 6 seasons at $5.5 M/season. Provorov’s agent said their negotiation with the Flyers went back a year to when Ron Hextall was GM. His agent called it a hard fought negotiation but when Werenski and McAvoy signed that set the market rate.
  • Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo signed a 2 year deal with an AAV of $2.85 M. Bruins forward Sean Kuraly said McAvoy and Carlo represent the next wave of Bruins leaders, after veterans Chara, Bergeron and Marchand, and it was good to see them back.
  • The Minnesota Wild signed forward Kevin Fiala to a two year deal for $6 M. The contract pays Fiala $2.5 M this season and $3.5 M next season. Fiala will still be an RFA when the deal expires. Fiala recorded 39 points last season (13 goals) which was split between Nashville and Minnesota. He was drafted 11th overall in 2014.
  • New Jersey signed RFA forward Pavel Zacha to a three year deal worth $2.25 M /season. Zacha, 22, recorded a career high 13 goals in 61 games in the 2019-20 season. The Czech forward was drafted 6th overall in 2015.
  • Former Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton was signed by the LA Kings. The deal is one year at $1.5 M. Hutton, 26, was an RFA who did not receive a qualifying offer from the Canucks. He said he was caught off guard when he was not qualified by Vancouver. He said he’s looking at the LA opportunity as a chance to again prove he’s a good NHL defenseman. LA needed some defenseman after learning Paul LaDue and Derek Forbort have injuries that may keep them out for a while. The Jets were another team said to have interest in Hutton.
  • The New York Rangers signed forward Brendan Lemieux to a one year deal at $925,000. Lemieux is former NHL player Claude Lemieux’s kid. Lemieux was part of the Jacob Trouba deal this summer. In 63 games last season split between Winnipeg and the Rangers, Lemieux had 12 goals and 5 assists.

Training camp news

  • Tampa Bay placed back-up goaltender Louis Domingue on waivers and he was not claimed. He’s been re-assigned to the ‘Bolts AHL in Syracuse. Domingue had an impressive 21-5 record last season with Tampa but the Lightning brought in Curtis McElhinney on July 1 to back-up starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. Both the team and player hope once training camps conclude and the regular season starts, Domingue will get an NHL opportunity. He carries a modest $1.15 M cap hit.
  • Islanders 19 year old defenseman prospect Noah Dobson has reportedly impressed at training camp. Drafted 12th overall in 2018, Dobson is playing 20+ mins a game in preseason games and looks very steady for the Isles. Dobson is team captain of his QMJHL team and has won two Memorial Cups. He projects to be a top NHL defenseman for many years.
  • At Chicago’s training camp, Swede Adam Boqvist, drafted 8th overall in 2018, has stood out. Boqvist, 19, is going to be a star for many seasons on defense for the Blackhawks. Last season with the London Knights of the OHL, Boqvist recorded 20 goals and 40 assists in 54 games. It’s not clear at this point if the ‘Hawks will develop the player at the NHL level or have him play 20+ minutes a game in the AHL with Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford.
  • The Canucks assigned defenseman Olli Juolevi to their AHL team in Utica. The organization still has high hopes for the player drafted 5th overall in 2016 but he suffered a season-ending knee injury last season in December that he is still recovering from.
  • The Oilers signed Russian forward Anton Burdasov to a PTO. The player was seeking a one year deal but didn’t get it and settled for the PTO. Burdasov is 28 years old, 6-2, 227 lbs and scored 19 G and 12 A in 50 KHL games last season.
  • Vancouver release forward Landon Ferraro from his PTO. Doesn’t seem as though there’s a spot for him with the AHL team in Utica either.
  • The Flames released defenseman Eric Gryba from his PTO. Gryba then announced his retirement from the NHL.
  • The Dallas Stars released forward Scott Upshall from his PTO. Upshall, 35, might be close to retirement as well.
  • Former Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is a UFA and is not attending a training camp though he’s not announced he’s retiring. Similar situation for former Sabres forward Jason Pominville.

Leafs

  • It was good to see the team reach a 6 year contract agreement with forward Mitch Marner ($10.893 M /season AAV). Marner is now the second highest paid winger behind NY Rangers Artemi Panarin ($11.64 M/ season) but the Leafs bought two season’s of Marner’s UFA years. Marner’s agent said they received two offer sheets, speculated to be Columbus and Minnesota, before agreeing to the new deal. Marner said the other day his goal was always to remain a Leaf adding he did not want to miss training camp. He contacted Kyle Dubas last week to expedite contract talks.
  • The team is expected to announce their captain just prior to their October 2nd season opening game against Ottawa. Seems as though Auston Matthews is the leading candidate. Morgan Rielly and John Tavares would get A’s plus possibly a third assistant. Coach Babcock says he sees the Leafs captain in the mold of former Raptors star Kawhi Leonard – let’s his play do the talking, clutch and wins championships.
  • The team has played four of eight preseason games and I heard where Babcock said he’s going to step up the intensity of practices and get more of the regulars involved. I also expect roster cuts as soon as Monday. Their remaining four preseason games are:
    • At Montreal on Monday, Sept. 23
    • Vs Montreal at home on Wed. Sept. 25
    • At Detroit on Friday, Sept 27
    • Vs Detroit at home on Sat. Sept 28
  • Kasperi Kapanen has switched from RW to LW on the John Tavares and Mitch Marner line and it seems it’s been a bit of an adjustment for him. He said particularly accepting passes from defenseman in the the neutral zone on his backhand.
  • Looks as though defenseman Tyson Barrie will take over from Jake Gardiner as the QB on the team’s second PP group. Morgan Rielly will continue to QB the Leafs first PP group.
  • First rounder (2018) Rasmus Sandin has impressed so far in the preseason. Babcock says he chooses the smart, simple play and has high hockey IQ. Seems he has a chance to make the opening night roster. Even getting a few NHL regular season games would benefit a 19 year old player who should be a future full time NHL defenseman.
  • Seems as though the team’s forth line will consist of Freddy Gauthier at center with wingers Jason Spezza and Trevor Moore. Spezza is a center but Babcock is seems to prefer Gauthier there while still trying to find a spot for the 36 year old Spezza. Marner said the other day, Spezza is a bit like Patrick Marleau – a lot of NHL experience and a team-first player willing to play anywhere.
  • The position of back-up goaltender to Freddy Andersen is an open competition between Michael Hutchinson and Michal Neuvirth, who is on a PTO. Hutchinson is on a one year deal at a league minimum $700,000. Neuvirth has had a number of injuries the past few seasons and struggles to stay healthy but recently said part of the reason he chose to take a chance on a PTO with the Leafs is their top level medical people that could help him stay healthy. Andersen has started 66, 66 and 60 games in his three seasons in Toronto. He said recently he’s looking at starting approx 55 games this season.
  • Babcock said the other day both forward Zach Hyman (knee/ACL surgery) and defenseman Travis Dermott (shoulder) are expected to miss 14-15 games to start the season.
  • The team signed their second round draft pick (53rd overall) from the 2019 Entry Draft, forward Nick Robertson, to his 3 year entry level contract this past week. Robertson is playing with the Peterborough Petes in the OHL where last season he recorded 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points in 54 games.
  • Forward Matt Read is still in Leafs camp on a PTO. Saw him interviewed and he said at age 33 and playing in the AHL most of last season, he believes this could be his final chance for an NHL opportunity. Read has played in 449 career NHL games recording 88 goals and 100 assists.
  • Former Leafs goaltender Garret Sparks was placed on waivers by Las Vegas and was subsequently assigned to the AHL. Vegas is going with Malcolm Subban as their back-up.

Retirement

  • Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi announced his retirement after 13 NHL seasons. Girardi was signed in 2006 by the New York Rangers as an undrafted player and went on to play in 927 NHL games.

Odds & Ends

  • Some owners want the Dec. 1 deadline to sign an RFA (otherwise they can’t play that season), moved up earlier. Fan lose out when the player doesn’t play and the player can’t get up to game speed having missed half the season. Plus it’s a distraction to the team when a players holdout drags on.
  • Flames captain Mark Giordano is again the fittest Flames player. The players were tested on the first day of training camp. Giordano will turn 36 years old on October 2nd and won the Norris trophy as the league’s top defenseman last season.
  • With the Anaheim Ducks, both Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will not play in the 2019-20 season. Kesler is recovering from hip surgery and Eaves has missed the last year and a half with some type of virus that has apparently re-occurred. It’s doubtful either player will resume their NHL playing careers.
  • Former Senators defenseman Marc Methot is considering retirement. He missed all but 9 games last season while a member of Dallas Stars and required knee surgery. Method was a terrific d partner for Erik Karlsson when they both played with the Senators.
  • Alex Ovechkin will receive the Wayne Gretzky International Award as part of the US Hockey Hall of Fame Induction celebration on December 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The award was established in 1999 and honors international individuals who have made a major contribution to the growth of hockey in the United States. Ovechkin recently turned 34 years old and is entering his 15th NHL season, all with the Capitals. He is recognized all over the world and was in China this summer promoting the NHL.
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NHL News & Notes to 08 Sep 2019. Training camps open Thursday.

League

  • CBA negotiations – the league and NHLPA have a 10 year CBA agreement in place that was signed in January 2013 but both sides have a September 2019 opt out clause. The NHL could of opted out on September 1 and the NHLPA’s deadline for opting out is September 15th. At the end of August (2019), the NHL said they would not be opting out and now the it’s up to the players to decide by the 15th of September if they want to. If they choose to, the current CBA will expire September 15, 2020. The two sides are meeting New York City on Monday, September 9th to continue negotiations. From all indications, the players major gripe is the escrow and, secondarily, the players generally want to play in Winter Olympics but the owners don’t want to close the league mid-season. There was some mention of the NHLPA possibly asking for an extension to the September 15th opt out deadline but nothing official has been announced.
  • The league’s plan to roll out player and puck tracking has been delayed until the 2019-20 post season. The league had an agreement with a company called Jogmo for the technology but have since dropped them and have signed a company called SMT who are based of out North Carolina. The whole area of data collection in NHL games ties into the league’s plans to offer gambling on games in the future. Article about the change of technology partners is here.
  • Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has signed over ownership of the Bruins to his 6 children. Jacobs is one of the more influential owners in the league; he’s owned the Bruins for the past 44 years having bought the team back in 1975 for $10 M. Jacobs recently turned 80 years old. The plan is for the Jacobs family to continue to own the Bruins.

Team Management

  • New Jersey – Tom Fitzgerald was promoted to Executive Vice President & AGM and Dan MacKinnon was promoted to Senior Vice President & AGM. Fitzgerald acts as General Manager of the Devils AHLteam – the Binghamton Devils – plus he’s involved in contract negotiations, player transactions and working with the Devils development staff. MacKinnon, for the past 3 years, was Senior Director of Player Personnel but will now take over all aspects of the Devils scouting. MacKinnon will be key in the Devils entry draft preparation plus he’s going to oversee the Devils analytics efforts.
  • Seattle – The Seattle team announced they’ve hired Ricky Olczyk as Assistant General Manger to GM Ron Francis. Olczyk, 49, was a Carolina Hurricanes AGM under Francis for 4 years. Olczyk will be responsible for the team’s salary cap which includes deciding who to draft in the June 2021 expansion draft. Olczyk is also apparently an expert on the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Olczyk has a law degree from Cornell University and has done legal work for the NHLPA. He started his career working in law firms in Chicago and Phoenix. He also worked as an AGM for seven seasons with the Edmonton Oilers (6 of those as AGM). Last season he was employed by the Leafs as a pro scout. His brother is former NHL’er, now broadcaster, Eddie Olczyk .
  • With the Red Wings, recently retired defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been hired an an adviser to GM Steve Yzerman.
  • The San Jose Sharks hired former LA Dodgers (MLB) GM Ned Colletti as a pro scout. Colletti grew up in Chicago and is an avid Blackhawks fan having been to many ‘Hawks games. He will evaluate hockey talent at both the NHL and AHL levels. Colletti, 65, spent 40 years working in team management of major league baseball.

Scuttlebutt

  • There is still not much change on the unsigned star RFA’s – Marner, Laine, Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk, Brayden Point, etc. Some say when one signs that will set the market for the others but that hasn’t really materialized. Sebastian Aho signed for 5 years at $8.45 M / season and Sharks forward Timo Meier signed for 4 years @ $6 M /season, but other RFA’s haven’t followed suit. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas talked last week about how they are still trying to reach an agreement with Mitch Marner and the organization currently has no intention of looking to trade the player. Marner’s side has been quiet. The Flames Matthew Tkachuk is reportedly seeking $8 M /season on a new deal. The player’s agent and Flames GM Brad Treliving have been negotiating since June. Some say term is a sticking point with some of the RFA’s, they want 4 or 5 year deals where they reach UFA status free to sign with any team. Based on lack of progress so far, seems to me these young RFA’s are going to miss regular season games.
  • Oilers captain Connor McDavid is still recovering from his knee injury suffered in the team’s final regular season game of last season. He’s apparently spent a lot of the summer getting the knee back into top form. It’s not certain McDavid will be a full participant when the Oilers start on ice work for training camp on Fri. Sept. 13.
  • Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said recently his groin injury that hampered him most of last season is 100%. With the surgery procedure he had on the injury this off-season, Karlsson said he does not expect the same injury to be an issue again. Karlsson is entering season one of his 8 year contract at $11.5 M /season.
  • Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom is one year from UFA and would like to sign an extension with the Canucks. GM Jim Benning indicated they’ll see how the season goes and talk to Markstrom’s agent but it’s not a top priority right now.
  • Bruins captain Zdeno Chara may not be ready for the start of this season on October 3rd as his broken jaw suffered in last season’s Cup final is still healing.
  • San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson recently said Patrick Marleau will not return to the Sharks. The team wants to get a bit younger overall. Marleau is a UFA but has yet to sign with a team. His preference is to be close to his San Jose home as he has four young children. Arizona was one team I heard had interested in Marleau.
  • Senators young defenseman Thomas Chabot is in negotiations with the team on a long term deal. Chabot, 22, has just two years of NHL experience but has an amazing 80 points in 134 games. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.
  • The Winnipeg Jets have started long term contract discussions with defenseman Josh Morrissey. He recorded 31 points in 59 games in 2018-19 season (was dealing with some injuries during the season and missed games) while averaging over 22 mins/game. With Tyler Myers leaving as a UFA to Vancouver, Jacob Trouba being moved to the New York Rangers and Dustin Byfuglien at age 34, the 24 year old Morrissey is expected to become a key defenseman for the Jets. Morrissey was a first round pick of the Jets, 13th overall, in 2013.
  • Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi is hoping to sign a new deal with the Preds. Josi is one season from UFA. Josi’s agent and the Predators have started initial discussions on a new deal. Josi signed a 7 year deal, $28 M contract with the Predators back before the 2013-14 season. He will get a significant raise from the $4 M /season he currently makes.
  • Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is one year from UFA and there have been no talks about a new deal with the Bruins. Krug said recently his hope is to remain a Bruin and recently said he is willing to take less financially to re-sign in Boston. Krug is an underrated player; he recorded 53 points in 64 regular season games in the 2018-19 season plus 16 points in 24 Bruins post-season games. The Bruins are dealing with numerous contract discussions currently including with their head coach, Bruce Cassidy (in the final year of his deal), plus two RFA defenseman, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
  • Former Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov is wanting to resume his NHL playing career. Markov, 40, has spent the past 2 seasons in the KHL. This past season he recorded 2 goals and 14 points for Kazan (KHL). Markov’s agent, Allan Walsh, said his client’s preference is to return to Montreal but Canadians GM Marc Bergevin said Sunday, the player does not fit into their plans adding they’ve started to build a young team in Montreal. Markov is 10 games from the 1,000 games milestone (all played with Montreal).

Transactions

  • Former Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner signed a 4 year deal with Carolina at $4.05 M /season. Gardiner has recently been working out in Vail, Colorado with fellow NHL players (the players like training at the high altitude in Colorado to get their conditioning in top shape). Gardiner recently said he’s 100% healthy. He was hoping to sign a long term, high priced contract in July 1, as a UFA, but it did not materialize. He says he believes he back injuries, his age (29) plus a lot of teams are up against the cap – and the cap did not go up as much as people thought it would – were factors in the offers he received.
  • Phoenix signed 21 year old forward Clayton Keller to an 8 year contract at an AAV of $7.15 M. Keller was to be an RFA after the 2019-20 season. Keller has recorded 114 points in 167 games (.68 PPG) over two NHL seasons. He was drafted by the Coyotes 7th overall in the 2016 entry draft. The contract seems to a bit of a gamble but the Coyotes could be betting on Keller getting more points with Kessel on his wing and if they waited until after the 2019-20, the deal could of cost them more. I heard where Coyotes GM John Chayka said they expect with the new USA TV being negotiated in 2 years, they expect the cap to go up. Canucks unsigned RFA Brock Boeser is seeking $7 M / season on a new deal and he has recorded 116 points in 140 games (.82 PPG).
  • The Oilers signed UFA forward Riley Sheahan to a one year deal at $900,000. Sheahan, 27, has played 447 NHL games recording 58 goals and 91 assists for 149 points. New Oilers GM Ken Holland drafted Sheahan when Holland was Red Wings GM and Sheahan played with the Wings for 5 years. Sheahan could be the Oilers 3rd line center behind McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sheahan is strong on the PK.
  • The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Jack Campbell to a two year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $1.65 M. Campbell was one year from UFA status.
  • Winnipeg signed goaltender Eric Comrie to a two year deal with $700,000 K / year. The first year is two way and the second year is one way.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks have signed forward Brendan Perlini to a one year contract at $875,000. He recorded 13 goals and 3 assists in 46 Blackhawks games last season after the trade from Arizona.
  • Sharks 40 year old forward Joe Thornton signed a one year deal for $2 M. It will be Thornton’s 22 year in the NHL. He is 22 points from 1,500 for his career. Only 13 players all-time have reached 1,500 career points.
  • St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev agreed to a two year deal at $1.475 M /season. Barbashev was an RFA. He recorded 14 goals and 12 assists last season.
  • The Canucks signed forward Nikolay Goldobin to a one year deal at $900,00.
  • Disgruntled 21 year old Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has signed a one year deal to play in Finland. His deal includes a December 1 opt out clause in the event he is traded from the Oilers.
  • Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.1 million: $1.8 million in 2019-20 and $2.4 million in 2020-21. The 22-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, had 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 81 regular-season games last season.
  • Former NHL forward Oscar Lindberg has signed in Switzerland. Lindberg was a UFA who apparently didn’t get any NHL interest.

Retirement

  • Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement after 15 NHL seasons. Saw a clip of him interviewed and he said he was very grateful to former Red Wings GM Ken Holland as Holland asked him last season (when Nik was UFA) if he was OK with a trade and Kronwall said he wanted to retire a Red Wing and Holland made it happen. Kronwall said he is proud to have played his entire NHL career with the Red Wings. His family is settled and happy living in the Detroit area.
  • Hurricanes captain Justin Williams also announced he will not start the year with the team. He did not officially say retirement and there is a chance he could join the team mid-season. Williams will be missed as he had 23 goals and 53 points as the team’s captain last season. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said recently they are not in a rush to name a new captain.
  • Goaltender Cam Ward recently announced his retirement from the NHL. Ward played all but one season of his career with the Carolina Hurricanes where he was drafted 25th overall in 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Ward signed a one day contract with the Hurricanes last week so he could retire a Hurricane. Ward won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe as a member of the 2006 Hurricanes. He is only one of four rookies to win the Conn Smythe in his rookie season (Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy & Ron Hextall the others).
  • Former Devils, Penguins, Ducks and Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy announced his retirement from the NHL. Lovejoy played in 544 regular season games plus 76 more in the post season. He won the Cup with the Penguins in 2016.

Ten Day Professional Try Out’s (PTO)

  • Landon Ferraro, 28, will attend Vancouver Canucks training camp on a PTO. Ferraro was injured most of last season (knee). He could be a possibly as fill in for Brandon Sutter who is recovering from back (hernia) surgery.
  • Los Angeles signed former Flames and Blackhawks forward Lance Bouma to a PTO. Bouma spent last season in the Swiss league.

Odds & Ends

  • Kendall Coyne Schofield, American Gold Medal winning women’s hockey player, will join the San Jose Sharks TV broadcast team as a color analyst for select games this season.
  • The USA Hockey Hall of Fame announced their inductees for 2019. Included are Commissioner Gary Bettman, former Canadian captain Brian Gionta, Neal Henderson (82 year old coach and co-founder of the Fort Dupont Cannons, the oldest minority hockey club is the USA), former Bruins goaltender and Stanley Cup champion Tim Thomas and Krissy Wendell (hockey player). In induction ceremony is December 12, 2019.
  • The QMJHL Rimoski Oceanic are retiring Sidney Crosby’s #87 jersey on September 27th. It’s the team’s home opener and the franchise’s 25 season in the Q.  Crosby recorded 303 points in 121 games with the Oceanic.
  • The OHL London Knights are retiring Patrick Kane’s #88 jersey even though he played just one season with the team, back in the 2006-07 season. In that season, he recorded 145 points (62 G & 83 A) and was runner up to John Tavares for OHL MVP. The jersey retirement ceremony will take place on January 17, 2020. 
  • Russian forward Anton Burdasov, 28, is apparently in talks with as many as three NHL teams about signing a contract. He’s spent the past 10 seasons in the KHL. Burdasov is 6’3, 200 pounds and last season in the KHL he recorded 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points in 50 games.  He is represented by Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter. The Oilers are apparently one of the teams interested in signing the player. Burdasov is reportedly seeking a one year deal.
  • Sabres defenseman Matt Hunwick will miss the entire 2019-20 season due to a neck condition. Hunwick missed half of last season with the injury.
  • Seems a lot of veteran players worked on trying to get faster in off-season training. I’ve heard Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovchekin & Flames forward Sean Monahan all say recently that getting faster was a major off-season training goal. Leafs forward Auston Matthews said he focused a lot on flexibility as he does not want to lose time again this season to shoulder-related injuries.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes to 25 Aug 2019. Training camps open in less than three weeks.

League

  • The New York Islanders Belmont Park Arena in Elmont, New York, on Long Island, recently received it’s final approval and construction is starting. The cost is $1.3 B and and the development will be a multi-purpose arena and entertainment complex. The building will be ready for NHL hockey by the start of the 2021-22 season. Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello recently said without the new building, the Islanders franchise wouldn’t be viable. For the new season and until the Isles new arena is ready, the team will split home games between Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center and Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. It’s been about 5 years to the day since the late Charles Wang sold the franchise to Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky and, with this announcement of the new building plus bringing in a two time Coach of the Year award winner in Barry Trotz plus a Hall of Fame GM in Lamoriello, the franchise is finally on very solid ground.
  • Most teams open training camp around the 12th of September. Usually the first day is just fitness testing and then 2-3 days of on ice work. The league’s first preseason game is Sunday, September 15th with Arizona at Las Vegas. Some teams are having rookie tournaments around the 7th of September.

Seattle

  • The Seattle franchise said recently they plan to announce a team name around the All-Star game which is scheduled for January 26, 2020 in St. Louis. Seattle’s CEO Tod Leiweke said they are listening to fans about the team name but fans will not have the final say – the Seattle hockey organization will choose the name. Leiweke said they looked at a Seattle Times poll where 140,00 fans voted on a team name and are considering some of the suggested names. In the poll, the name “Sockeyes” defeated the “Totems” as the top team name. Some of the other popular suggestions were Metropolitans (the league said that sounded too much like the Metropolitan Division), the Steelheads, Kraken, Sasquatch and others. I like Sockeyes because the city already has their NFL team name start with an ‘S’ – the Seahawks – and their MLS team is the Seattle Sounders.
  • Leiweke also recently said the Seattle franchise plans to wait until the summer before their inaugural season, 2021-22, before appointing a head coach.
  • The Seattle Expansion draft is scheduled for June 2021 and teams have already started to prepare for it.

Team Management

  • The Minnesota Wild announced last week that former player and AGM with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bill Guerin, has been hired as the team’s new General Manager. Guerin becomes the forth GM in Wild franchise history. Some of the names that were interviewed included Habs AGM Scott Mellanby, Avalanche AGM Chris MacFarland, former Flyers GM Ron Hextall, former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli. The Wild were declined when they asked the New York Rangers for permission to speak with their AGM Chris Drury. Similarly, Columbus didn’t allow the Wild to speak with their AGM Bill Zito (Zito interviewed for the Wild GM position when Fenton was hired) and New Jersey declined when asked if AGM Tom Fitzgerald could be interviewed. Apparently Guerin was interviewed by the Wild last year and lost out to Fenton. I saw some of the Wild players and Executive Adviser Mike Modano interviewed after the hiring was made official and there seems to be a lot of excitement from both the players and management. Guerin is a former player so it seems the Wild players were excited about that. Modano said after the first round of interviews, it was clear who was going to he hired. Guerin called being the Wild GM a “dream job” adding Minnesota is a terrific hockey state with enthusiastic fans that know the game well. Guerin said he going to try and raise the standards & wants the team to be the most competitive team in the league. He added head coach Bruce Boudreau job is safe saying Bruce knows the league and is a good coach (Boudreau has just one year left on his contract with the Wild). Guerin has won four Stanley Cups, as player twice (1995 New Jersey and 2009 Penguins), and two as an AGM (with the Penguins in 2016 & 2017). He played with Mike Modano for three seasons, when both were with the Dallas Stars. I heard where Guerin said he got involved in the NHLPA when he was playing and was in some of the negotiations during lockouts and that spurred his interest in getting involved in the business side of the game. The Penguins organization – management and players – all spoke very highly of Guerin as he was the AGM for four seasons in Pittsburgh.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes announced they’ve signed their President and GM, Don Waddell, to three year contract extension. Waddell interviewed with the Wild for the GM position as his previous contract expired July 30th and he was still acting as President and GM with no contract in place. Owner Tom Dundon said he doesn’t run things the same was other team’s do and pays what he believe people are worth to him and not what other teams pay for similar positions. After Waddell interviewed with the Wild, Dundon stepped up with the new three year deal for Waddell adding he trusts Don and wanted to keep him.
  • The Canucks signed their GM Jim Benning to a three year deal that starts in the 2020-21 season. Benning was entering the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. There seemed to be some surprise from those who cover the team about the timing of the extension as in why now as the Canucks have missed the post-season the past four seasons. Some expected that Benning needed to deliver a post-season spot to be even considered for an extension but ownership appears to feel comfortable with their working relationship with him. The Canucks added defenseman Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn and Oscar Fantenberg as well as forwards JT Miller and Micheal Ferland in the off-season. Going to be challenging to explain to the team’s fans why they gave Benning three more years if they don’t get a post-season spot in the upcoming season.
  • The New York Rangers announced former players Tanner Glass & Tuomo Ruutu have been appointed Assistant Directors of Player Development. Additionally, Chris Morehouse (Rangers Pres John Davidson’s brother in law) was named the Rangers Director of North American Scouting, Marshall Davidson (JD’s brother) and Derek Ginnell have been named Amateur Scouts. Former player Steve Konowalchuk will move from the Rangers amateur scouting group to the team’s professional scouting group. Glass and Ruutu will working the Rangers Director of Player Development, Jed Ortmeyer, to develop the organization’s prospects. Glass will focus on prospects in North America while Ruutu will focus on Europe-based prospects.
  • The Bruins have started contract discussions with their head coach, Bruce Cassidy, as he is entering the final year of his current deal. Cassidy has a 117-52-22 record in 2.5 season’s behind the Bruins bench. Cassidy has reached the 100 win mark in 166 Bruins games which makes him the second fastest Bruins coach all-time to 100 wins. Cassidy reached the 2nd round of the post-season in the 2017-18 season and was one win from Stanley Cup championship last season. I’ve not heard numbers as far as what Cassidy would be paid.
  • The Detroit Red Wings announced a few hockey ops appointments including the appointment of Kris Draper to Director of Amateur Scouting. Ryan Rezmierski, formerly of the Nashville Predators, and Jesse Willin, formerly of the St. Louis Blues, are the Wings new Chief Scouts. The organization also added Mike Barwis as Director of Sports Science and Human Performance. Former Red Wings player Dan Cleary was promoted from player development assistant to assistant director of player development. Shawn Horcoff had assistant director of player personnel added to his director of player development title.

Scuttlebutt

  • Blue Jackets RFA defenseman Zach Werenski indicated recently he’s hoping to be at Blue Jackets training camp, which starts on Sept 13, with a new contract. The talk is the player and team will reach an agreement on a 3 year deal in the $5 M – $5.5 M /season range. Werenski leads the RFA class for points for a defenseman in the 2018-19 season with 44. A Werenski signing could affect Flyers Ivan Provorov (26 points) and Bruins Charlie McAvoy (7 G & 21 A for 28 Pts)- both under 23 yo RFA’s with comparable stats. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekelanein recently said Werenski is a core part of their team and has grown into a leader among the players and the organization has every intention of getting him re-signed.
  • With Avs RFA Mikko Rantanen (22 years old with 87 points), both sides want to reach a long term deal but the player’s agent Mike Luit is waiting for the RFA market to set. Avs GM Joe Sakic indicated recently their goal is to have the player at training camp which opens mid September.
  • Winnipeg Jets RFA forward Kyle Connor (34 G & 32 A) recently said he’s hoping to reach a long term deal with the Jets. Teammate Patrik Laine says he likes being a Jets player but no contract talks have been initiated by either side. There seems to be some uncertainty around Laine and his future with the Jets. I think he expects to be treated and compensated like an elite goal scorer but the organization seems to want him to be more dedicated to being a better all around player. They’ve clearly not make getting him re-signed a priority and may even value Kyle Connor more.
  • With Flames RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk (34 G & 43 A for 77 points), the player’s agent said their side was proactive and presented contract terms to the Flames in early June. The two sides have been negotiating since. Flames GM Brad Treliving recently said their goal is to have the player signed by training camp that opens mid September. Numbers I’m hearing for Tkachuk are 5 years at $8 M /season.
  • Two Bruins defenseman that are restricted free agents and needing a new deal are Charlie McAvoy (7 G & 21 A) and Brandon Carlo (2 G & 8 A). Bruins GM Don Sweeney said the other day progress towards new contract for each player has been slow and there could be regular season games missed. Sweeney said the team is basically planning around them both not being at training camp.
  • Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has reportedly asked to be traded. Ristolainen, 24, was drafted 8th overall in 2013. He’s about a .50 PPG defenseman in his 5 seasons with the Sabres. I’ve heard the Sabres are willing to trade him but they’ve set a high asking price that, so far, no team has been willing to meet. Ristolainen has three more seasons left on his deal at $5.4 M /season. His +/- rating is -41, an NHL worst, so it seems as though he’s more focused on offense.
  • Washington has two key veteran players one year from UFA, star forward Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Braden Holtby. Backstrom’s deal, signed back in 2010, was a 10 year (before max contract lengths were changed) $67 M deal and Holtby’s was a 5 year $30.5 M deal. Holtby has the most wins, 197, of any NHL goaltender in the past 5 years. Caps GM Brian MacLellan said he intends to touch base with the agents for both players when he’s back in Washington in early Sept adding he wants to hear what each player thoughts are about the end of their deals and see if they can possibly discuss extensions. Both players have played their entire NHL careers with Washington.
  • New Ottawa Senators head coach DJ Smith recently said the team will not name a captain for the new season. Smith said they have many young players and none are ready to front the criticism the team could face when they lose a few games in a row. Smith said he’ll be the one to deal with the criticism. Smith added summertime UFA signing 38 yo defenseman Ron Hainsey will play a leadership role on the team. The Senators core group is 22 year old defenseman Thomas Chabot, recently signed 22 yo forward Colin White and 20 year old forward Brady Tkachuk.
  • LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty recently said the Kings players are committed to getting better results in the new, 2019-20, season. Doughty said finishing the regular season 30th in a 31 team league was an embarrassment and added the players felt they let the whole organization down. With former Oilers head coach Todd McLellan taking over behind the bench, one should expect better results in the new season. McLellan recently said he’s going to meet face to face with Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk when Kovalchuk returns to LA. Kovy had a challenging relationship with Kings head coach Willie Dejardins last season. McLellan wants Kovalchuk understanding he starts the new season with a clean slate. Kovalchuk has two seasons at $6.25 M /season remaining on his contract. He recorded 34 points in the 2018-19 season but was often a healthy scratch due to differences with Desjardins.
  • The NY Rangers have been without a captain since Ryan McDonough was traded to Tampa Bay and recent reports indicate the team may be leaning towards naming someone. Current leaders on the team include Marc Staal, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast. Head coach David Quinn recently indicated the team will wait to see how training camp goes but since Staal is 32 and in the latter part of his career and Kreider will likely be moved, Zibanejad or UFA signing Artemi Panarin could be the team’s new captain with defenseman Jacob Trouba an assistant.
  • All indications are that San Jose plans to sign UFA forward Joe Thornton but no deal so far has been reached. Thornton recorded 51 points in the 2019-20 season as a forty year old forward. It doesn’t seem as though Patrick Marleau will be back in San Jose. Arizona had interest in Marleau but it seems as though the player wants to be close to his home in the San Jose area.

Signings

  • RFA’s
    • Senators forward Colin White signed a 6 year deal at a average annual value of $4.75 M. White was drafted in the first round, 21st overall, in 2015 and has recorded 47 points on 16 goals in 94 career NHL games. The Sens see the player as a core young piece for them.
    • New Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin signed RFA forward Joel Erikkson-Ek to a 2 year contract. The deal will pay Erikkson-Ek $1.45 M in the 2019-20 season and $1.525 M in the 2020-21 season. Erikkson-Ek was a first round (20th overall in 2015) of the Wild. He’s recorded 37 points in 148 Wild games in his career. The Wild still have to get RFA forward Kevin Fiala signed.
    • The Islanders signed RFA forward Josh Ho-Sang to a two way $874 K/$70 K one year deal and 23 year old forward Michael Dal Colle (5th overall in 2014) to a $700 K one way deal.
  • UFA’s
    • The Colorado Avalanche signed former Dallas Stars first rounder Val Nichushkin to a one year deal at $850 K. Nichushkin, 24, become a UFA after the Stars bought him out this off-season. He recorded 10 points, 0 goals, in 57 games played last season. The player will be a RFA next summer.
    • Forward Derick Brassard signed a one year deal with the NY Islanders for $1.2 M. Brassard, 31, started last season with the Penguins and was moved to Florida mid-season and finished the season as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. In the 70 games he played last season, he recorded 14 goals and 23 points. He was making $5 M /season last season so has taken a pay cut with the Islanders. Brassard, after signing with the Islanders, said the 2018-19 season was trying – being moved twice and he hoping to reignite his career with the Islanders. Experts see him as the Isles 3rd line center behind Mat Barzal and Brock Nelson.
    • The Lightning signed 31 yo forward Patrick Maroon to a one year deal for $900,000. In 74 games played last season, Maroon recorded 10 goals and 28 points. At 6’3” and 225 pounds, Maroon will add some size of the ‘Bolts forward group that is a bit undersized. He also helps replace the loss of forward JT Miller who was traded to the Canucks. Maroon has 34 points in 73 post-season games on 16 goals.
  • UFA’s still unsigned:
    • Defenseman – Jake Gardiner, Dion Phaneuf, Ben Hutton, Nick Kronwall (could retire)
    • Forwards – Brian Boyle, Jason Pominville, Riley Sheahan, Oscar Lindberg, Justin Williams, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Thomas Vanek, Joe Morrow.

Leafs

  • Leafs opening training camp September 12 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and play their first pre-season game at Mile One Centre in St. John’s on Tuesday, September 17th against Ottawa. I imagine the city of St. John’s will be thrilled to welcome one of the NHL’s top team’s to town.
  • The Leafs prospects are going to be competing in the 2019 Traverse City Prospects Tournament from Friday, September 6th to Tuesday, September 10th in Traverse City, Michigan. It’s the Leafs first year competing in the tournament and teams included in the event include the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, NY Rangers & St. Louis Blues. Leafs second rounder from 2019, Nick Robertson, is participating and will be a player to keep tabs on. Also, Leafs goalie of the future, Ian Scott, is taking part. Scott will play with the AHL Marlies in the upcoming season.
  • William Nylander has talked recently about wanting to be a dominant player this season. He was not happy with last season, struggling to get on track after signing on December 1st. With Kadri being moved to Colorado, it’s not clear if Nylander will play more center this season. A lot of fans hope Nylander gets more time with Auston Matthews as the two have excellent chemistry together. Nylander just turned 23 years old and already has two 60+ point seasons to his credit.
  • Leafs center Auston Matthews has been skating in Arizona with some Coyotes players getting ready for the season. He said recently he’d be honored to be named Leafs captain. The team has not had a captain since Dion Phaneuf was traded in 2016. Matthews said he’s been working a lot this off-season on flexibility as he usually starts the season strong but has gotten injured (shoulder injuries) after the first 6 or so weeks of the season. Matthews is entering his 4th season in Toronto. He turns 22 years old in September.
  • Center John Tavares spent half the summer rehabbing his oblique injury that he suffered in the first practice for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships. He says he’s fully recovered and ready for the season.
  • Unsigned RFA Mitch Marner – there is not a lot of public information about where things stand between the Leafs and Marner. Last I heard the agent and Leafs met, talks were cordial but no progress was made. Marner wants max flexibility in that he does not want to sign long term and be under contract when he becomes UFA and the team does not want to walk him to UFA with a 4 year deal. Could end up at a 2-3 year deal at around $10 M – $12 M. Marner’s agent is using the Matthew’s contract as a comparable, 5 years at $11.6 M, and he’s walked straight to UFA. This past week there was discussion around the fact Marner’s people have contacted the Zurich Lions in the Swiss league, and where Auston Matthews played before being drafted first overall in 2016. Seems Leafs management really wants to get Marner signed and not have another Nylander situation this season but they are not willing to go with a deal similar to Matthew’s. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said the other day that the terms being discussed are 3, 6 or 7 years at $10 M /season but there’s been not much movement on either side of late. Marner did say during the summer he does not want to miss training camp. Matthews and Nylander both see their deals expire in 5 more seasons (making them both UFA) and management does not want a possible Marner deal to as well.

Canucks

  • The Canucks are celebrating their 50th season in the NHL in the 2019-20 season.
  • GM Benning said recently head coach Travis Green prefers to have a captain and all indications seem to point to forward Bo Horvat being named before the regular season starts. Horvat is just 24 years old with already 377 NHL games played.
  • The Canucks and the agent for forward Brock Boeser are hoping to find common ground on terms of a new contract for the RFA. Canucks GM Jim Benning said he hopes they can reach a deal before the start of the team’s training camp on September 13th. The deal Boeser is apparently looking for is 4 years at $7 M /season. Boeser recorded 26 goals and 30 assists in 69 games last season.
  • The Canucks signed their 6th round pick from 2019, goaltender Arturs Silovs. Silvos is 6’4” and 203 pounds. He was born in Latvia and played in a Latvia league last season posting a .914 SV%. Silvos was recently drafted in the CHL Import Draft and will be playing for the OHL Barrie Colts in the 2019-20 season.
  • Doesn’t sound as though there is a trade partner for the Canucks with disgruntled forward Loui Eriksson. GM Benning recently said the team talked to a few teams but there’s no deal out there right now. Benning added Loui will be at Canucks training camp and the organization still values his two way playing style plus he’s good on the PK.
  • Benning recently said there will be no players attending Canucks training camp on PTO’s saying they have a number of prospects they want to focus on instead.
  • Fifth overall pick from 2016, defenseman Olli Juolevi, has apparently rehabbed his knee to the point where he’s going to be at the Canucks AHL team, the Utica Comets, training camp. The Canucks hope with good performance at the AHL level, he’ll see NHL games in the 2019-20 season.

Odds & Ends

  • Hurricanes captain Justin Williams is nearing a decision on if he’ll play in the 2019-20 season. Apparently Williams, 37, has been talking to many former players about when is the right time to retire. The Hurricanes will need to appoint a team captain if Williams does choose retirement. Williams has won 3 Stanley Cups in his career -with the Hurricanes in 2006 and two with the LA Kings (2012 & 2014).
  • There’s talk Michigan native Dylan Larkin could soon be named Red Wings team captain but nothing official has been confirmed by the team.
  • Former NHL goaltender Eddie Lack has accepted a position as Goalie Coach at Arizona State University. Lack has battled numerous injuries in the past few season (more recently with his hips) and says he still hoping to play the NHL again.
  • Former NHL player Andrei Markov has made it known he’d like to return to the NHL for the 2019-20 season and play with Montreal. Markov, 40, has spent the past two seasons in the KHL. No word if the Habs would consider signing him. Markov is 10 games from the 1,000 career NHL games mark.
  • The Florida Panthers recently announced retired goaltender Roberto Luongo will become the first player in franchise history to have his jersey retired by the Panthers. The ceremony will take place March 7, 2020 before the Panthers game against Luongo’s hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens. Luongo is 3rd all-time in wins with 489 and 2nd all-time in games played for a goaltender (1,044). He holds all the Panthers franchise records for a goaltender including games played, wins, saves, shutouts.
  • Rangers forward Chris Kreider enters the 2019-20 season one season from UFA status. Kreider was second on the Rangers in points (52) and goals (28) last season. The Rangers are in a cap crunch, they’ve already allocated $80.5 M of a $81.5 M cap, as they added forward Artemi Pararin ($11.6 M/season) and defenseman Jacob Trouba ($8 M/season) in the off-season. Doesn’t seem likely the team can re-sign Kreider.
  • Training camp PTO’s:
    • The Bruins and defenseman Alex Petrovic
    • The Flames and former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald has played over 600 NHL games and has a chance to make the team as Flames young first rounder, defenseman Juuso Valimaki, tore the ACL in his knee in summer training and will miss 6 months.
    • Former Blues forward Scott Upshall with the Dallas Stars. Upshall, 35, missed all of last season after requiring knee surgery.
  • The Calgary Flames are celebrating their 40th anniversary in the NHL in the 2019-20 season and the Buffalo Sabres are entering their 50th NHL season.

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NHL News & Notes to 05 Aug 2019

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

League

  • The league is apparently very happy that the City of Calgary finally approved a plan to develop a new arena for the Flames. The deal agreed to is actually between the City of Calgary, Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp (CSEC -the owners of the Flames) and Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Ltd (the group that runs the annual Calgary Stampede). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Calgary numerous times in the past trying to get the City of Calgary to discuss the need for Calgary to have a new arena for the Flames but Calgary’s mayor was not onside on any possible deal involving city funds. The more recent negotiations have been occurring for about a year and were kept private but, this time, the city and the Flames used Ernst & Young consultants that worked with all parties to get the financial details agreeable for all sides. Doesn’t seem as though the league was involved much at all. Under terms of the new deal, the City owns the new arena and the Flames will have a 35 year lease on the building. The city and CSEC will split the $550 M building construction cost 50/50. The team is responsible for operating the building, including upkeep / repairs, while the Flames have agreed to not relocate for a minimum of 35 years. The new building will seat 19,000 fans. As a final step, Calgary city council voted on the deal and it was approved with 11 votes for and 4 against. Construction of the new building is expected to start in 2021 with it being game ready by the 2024-25 NHL season.
  • The Arizona Coyotes introduced their new owner, Alex Murelo, to the media this week. Murelo is 55 years old and was born to Cuban parents who fled their country for a better life in the USA. Alex was born in Brooklyn, NY and started investing in real estate in his 20’s. He apparently likes to take struggling businesses, turn them around and is now worth a reported $2 B US. He owns casino’s, restaurants and real estate in the Southwest USA. He speaks fluent Spanish and spoke during parts his Coyotes introductory press conference in Spanish. Murelo is the first and only Hispanic NHL owner in league history and fans of the league are hoping he can draw the Hispanic demographic to the Coyotes and NHL (some estimates say Arizona is comprised of 40% Hispanic citizens). Previous Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway retains a 5% ownership position and the Coyotes Alternate Governor.
  • I’ve not heard much on CBA negotiations. The league can opt out of the current CBA on September 1, 2019 (effective September 1, 2020) while the players can do the same on September 19, 2019. Some of the major topics that are usually in the discussions is hockey related revenue (HRR) which is currently 50/50 -players get 50% of revenue and owners get 50%. I’d be very surprised if this split changes. The max contract length, currently 8 years for a UFA that signs with the same team or 7 years for a UFA that goes to a different team, could also be on the table for discussion. One of the other key issue is escrow and not holding back 10-12% of player salaries. The players position is basically find another way other than touching players pay. Some other topics could include the idea of signing bonuses where players are paid up to 90% of their annual cap number as a bonus, usually paid on July 1. Toronto leads the league in paying signing bonus while other, less cash laden teams, can’t pay out millions of dollars of salary on July 1. The fixed cap, currently $81.5 M, is suppose to create league parity among teams but bonuses skew things. Teams such as Ottawa struggle to have their player combined salaries reach the cap floor, $60.2 M, and they take on a retired player contracts to bump up their combined player contracts total. Some say what the Leafs did recently acquiring retired player David Clarkson contract to exploit a loophole in the CBA could be addressed in the CBA discussions. This whole issue of the  CBA negotiations and re-opener clause in September is going to start to become news as the new 2019-20 season nears. Both the NHLPA and NHL seem to agree that labor problems hurt the game so hopefully both sides can work through their differences.

Team Management

  • The Minnesota Wild fired their GM Paul Fenton on Tuesday. Fenton was hired by the Wild in May of 2018 from the Nashville Predators organization where he was AGM to GM David Poile. Wild owner Craig Leipold basically said it was on him as, after Fenton’s fourteen months in the GM role, it was clear to Leipold that Fenton was not a good fit with the culture of the Wild organization. Leipold said there was not one thing that led to the decision but more a way for doing things that was not working well. Some of the names getting interviewed to replace Fenton include former Flyers GM Ron Hextall, former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, Montreal Canadiens AGM Scott Mellanby and Penguins AGM Bill Guerin. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau has now survived two GM firings in his three seasons as head coach. Bourdreau, 64, enters the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. Owner Craig Leipold said new Wild Senior Advisor Mike Modano will be involved in all parts of the new GM hire. The three key people that will do the hire is Modano, owner Leipold and Wild President & Alternate Governor Matt Majka. All signs seem to point to a hire being done fairly soon.
  • The Oilers added Brian Wiseman as an assistant coach on head coach Dave Tippett’s staff. Wiseman, 48, spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan Wolverines and had worked in the Dallas Stars organization as a video analyst in the past (where Dave Tippett first met him). Wiseman had a successful career in the IHL & AHL. In the 1998-99 season, he was the IHL leading scorer & MVP and led his team, the Houston Aeros, to the Turner Cup. He was also a team captain with the Aeros. Heard where Tippett said he wanted someone he was familiar with so there was less time required getting to know each other, etc. Tip said the whole organization sees the upcoming season as very important. Sounds like Wiseman will be the Oilers coach acting as the “eye in the sky” – watching games from the pressbox. Oilers assistant coach Glen Gulutzan is responsible for the forwards and Jim Playfair the defense.
  • Former Bruins/Flames player Marc Savard is joining the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach on head coach Craig Berube’s staff. Berube was a teammate of Savard’s in the NHL and values his offensive understanding of the game and the organization hopes he can pass his knowledge onto the Blues players. Savard recorded 706 points in 807 NHL games in his career.
  • Former NHL player Alex Tanguay is leaving the NHL Network to take a position as an assistant coach with the AHL Iowa Wild (farm team of the Minnesota Wild) under head coach Tim Army.
  • Boston Bruins President Cam Neely says he expects the organization and their head coach Bruce Cassidy to soon reach an agreement on a contract extension. Cassidy enters the 2019-20 with just one year remaining on his contract. In three seasons so far under Cassidy, the Bruins have reached the 100 point mark twice.
  • Recently retired Penguins forward Matt Cullen has moved into a player development position with the team. GM Jim Rutherford said Cullen’s valuable knowledge of the game plus his knowledge of the Penguins organization made the decision to hire him an easy one. Cullen won three Stanley Cups in his 21 year NHL playing career.
  • Another player who just recently retired, Chicago Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, has also accepted as Player Development Adviser position with the ‘Hawks organization (in their Hockey Ops Dept). Kunitz will also advise the ‘Hawks coaching staff and well as work with the organization’s AHL prospects in Rockford. Kunitz won four Cups as a player, three with the Penguins and one with the Anaheim Ducks.
  • Former Islanders forward Stephen Gionta has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization as a pro scout. Gionta, 35, was a UFA but did not get any contract offers. He played with the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport most of last season.

Scuttlebutt

  • Oilers 21 yo forward Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall 2016) said recently he will not be returning to North America to play hockey until the Oilers trade him. Puljujarvi is spending the off-season back home in Finland. Heard Oilers GM Ken Holland interviewed and he said he’s been trying to trade the player and will soon make an extra push to get something done before training camp. The Oilers have added former Canucks forward Markus Granlund, James Neal, and goaltender Mike Smith while moving out Lucic, Ty Rattie and Tobias Reider. Holland said recently he’s expects Neal to play in the Oilers top 6 forward group.
  • Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said recently he expects to reach a contract agreement with 23 yo RFA Brayden Point before training camp. Point had a career high 92 points on 41 goals in the recent season. Some experts are saying their is a bit of a log jam with the RFA’s as these young stars are waiting for the market to set – including the Marner contract that doesn’t seem close to a conclusion. From reviewing some of BriseBois comments, it does seem as though the Point contract will be a shorter term deal as he said that’s the way these star 22/23 year old RFA contracts seem to be trending. Some people expect the salary cap to jump from the current $81.5 M when the league signs a new USA TV deal (the current deal expires after the next two seasons).
  • Flames GM Brad Treliving said he expects to sign RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk before the start of training camp. The Flames have $7.75 M in cap space available and just recently bought out defenseman Michael Stone to create cap room. Experts are saying it will take about $8 M /season to get Tkachuk’s name on a new deal. The player recorded 77 points in 80 games on 34 goals in the 2018-19 regular season.
  • The Ottawa Senators are working towards getting 22 yo RFA forward Colin While signed to a new contract. Sens GM Dorian said recently the goal is to get White signed by the start of training camp on September 12. Since being drafted 21st overall in 2015, White has recorded 47 points, 16 goals, in 94 career NHL games.
  • There been some talk that the Senators have started negotiations with defenseman Thomas Chabot on a long term deal. Chabot is one season from being a 23 yo RFA but he’s a key player for the Senators. Chabot recorded 55 points in 70 games in the 2018-19 regular season.
  • Tampa Bay back-up goaltender Louis Domingue is being shopped to teams. The Lightning signed Curtis McElhinney to a two year contract this summer at $1.3 M /season to back-up starter Andrei Vasilevskiy which made Domingue, last years back-up in Tampa, expendable. Domingue, 27, has just the 2019-20 season left on his contract and then will be UFA. Domingue went 21-5 with a .908 SV% and a 2.88 GAA in 2018-19.
  • The agent for former Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton said the other day Hutton will sign somewhere before the start of training camp adding there have been offers but so far none the player wanted to agree to. Hutton had 20 points in 69 games with the Canucks in 2018-19. Hutton, 26, became a UFA after the Canucks did not make him an RFA qualifying offer.

Unsigned RFA’s

  • Experts are saying the market is still being set for the 22/23 star RFA group. Signings could be delayed to the start of training camp in mid Sept. The key names that are still unsigned include:
    • Mitch Marner (TOR)
    • Brayden Point (TB)
    • Mikko Rantanen (AVS)
    • Matthew Tkachuk (CGY)
    • Kyle Connor (WPG)
    • Patrik Laine (WPG)
    • Brock Boeser (VAN)
    • Charlie McAvoy (BOS)
    • Zach Werenski (CBJ)
    • Ivan Provorov (PHI)
    • Travis Konecny (PHI)
    • Kevin Fiala (MIN)

Hockey Canada

  • The World Junior Summer Showcase recently wrapped up in Plymouth, Michigan. Teams in the four day tournament included Canada, USA, Sweden and Finland. This is just a warm up for the 2020 World Junior Tournament. Team Canada’s head coach is Dale Hunter with assistants Mitch Love (HC of the WHL Saskatoon Blades) and Andre Tourigny (HC of the OHL Ottawa 67’s). The projected 1st overall draft selection in 2020, Alexis Lafreniere, is expected to lead the Canadians in the 2020 World Junior Tournament (under 20 yo’s) that gets started December 26, 2019 in the Czech Republic. Some of other key players on the World Junior team are expected to be:
    • Liam Foudy (18th overall 2018 CBJ)
    • Joe Veleno (30th overall 2018 DET)
    • Barrett Hayton (5th overall 2018 ARI)
    • Ty Dellandrea (13th overall 2018 DAL)
    • Kirby Dach (3rd overall 2019 CHI)
    • Defenseman
      • Bo Byram (4th overall 2019 COL)
      • Noah Dobson (12th overall 2018 NYI)
      • Jacob Bernard-Docker (26th overall 2018 OTT)
      • Ty Smith (17th overall 2018 NJD)
      • Jared McIsaac (2nd round 2018 DET)
    • Goalies
      • Olivier Rodrigue (2nd round 2019 EDM)
      • Colten Ellis (3rd round 2019 STL)
  • Some of these players could make the NHL before the World Junior tournament starts.
  • The 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup will take place in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia from August 5th to 10th, 2019. These are under 18 year old players. Team Canada’s roster includes 22 players; 9 from the WHL, 8 from the OHL and 5 from the QMJHL.

Transactions

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Vezina trophy winner (2019) Andrei Vasilevskiy to a 8 year contract at $9.5 M /season. The new deal starts in the 2020-21 season.
  • New Jersey acquired Vegas forward Nikita Gusev, 27, and signed him to a two year deal that will pay him $5 M in the first season and $4 M in the second season. Both the Devils and Columbus were teams that expressed the most interest in acquiring the player from Vegas. Vegas thought they could sign Gusev for about $2 M / season and it doesn’t seem as though they ever were close in terms of reaching an agreement. There is a bit of hype around Gusev as he was a star in the KHL. He had 82 points on 17 goals in 62 KHL games in 2018-19. Due to his age, Gusev is ineligible for the Calder trophy for the league’s top rookie.
  • The Devils reached an agreement with defenseman Will Butcher, 3 years at $3.73 M/season. Butcher is 24 years old and had 30 points in 78 games in the 2018-19 regular season.
  • Vegas signed (UFA) defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one year deal for with a base of (league min) $700,000 plus performance bonuses that could make the contract worth as much as $1.5 M.
  • Nashville agreed to terms with forward Colton Sissons on the 7 year deal for $20 M. The two sides agreed a day before their arbitration hearing was scheduled. Sissons recorded career highs in goals (15) and points (30) in the 2018-19 season. GM David Poile said Sissons can play on the PP or PK plus has grown into a leader on the team.
  • The Winnipeg Jets and forward Andrew Copp reached an agreement on a 2 year deal for $2.28 M avoiding their scheduled arbitration hearing. Copp recorded 11 goals and 25 points in the 2018-19 season.
  • Buffalo signed their back-up goaltender, Linus Ullmark, to a one year, $1.325 M contract. The two sides reached an agreement one day after Ullmark had his salary arbitration hearing. The Sabres also signed defenseman Jake McCabe to a 2 year deal with a cap hit of $2.85 M.
  • The Avalanche signed defenseman Sam Girard to a seven year, $35 M contract. In the recent regular season, Girard, 21, recorded 4 goals and 27 assists in 82 games while averaging 19:53 minutes of ice time. Girard was originally drafted by Nashville, 2nd round/47th overall, in 2016 and was of the Duchene trade.
  • The Flames and goaltender David Rittich reached a 2 year contract agreement before their arbitration hearing. It’s two years at $2.75 M. It’s the same cap number as the Flames new alternate goalie Cam Talbot will make. Fans are expecting a season long competition between the two goalies for the number one position. Seems GM Treliving got good value to sign two good goaltenders for a combined total of $5.5 M.
  • The Flames also reached a two year contract agreement, $2.55 M /season, with forward Sam Bennett. Bennett, a former 4th overall draft pick of the Flames back in 2014, had 27 points in 71 games in the 2018-19 season. He’s not panned out like a forth overall draft pick but has turned into a character bottom 6 forward. He says his goal is still to be a top 6 forward at the NHL level. He’s 23 years old with four full NHL season’s of experience.

Leafs

  • MLSE is reportedly investing millions of dollars upgrading and improving Scotiabank Arena both inside and the areas close to the building. MSLE is not disclosing how much the reno’s are costing but the overall goal is to make the MSLE team’s and fan experience world class. Seems with the Raptors championship MSLE got a taste of how exciting winning can be for a city and organization.
  • Last seasons back-up goaltender, Garret Sparks, was dealt to Vegas for a 4th round draft pick in 2020 plus retired player David Clarkson’s contract. Apparently adding Clarkson’s contract, $5.2 M for one more season, has to do with LTIR (long term injury reserve) and saving cap dollars. It’s a bit of a loophole in the CBA that seems to confuse fans (why trade for the contract of Clarkson who is retired?). There is some part in the CBA to do with cap accrual that I haven’t got totally understood. Experts said with this Clarkson move, seems to be an indication the Leafs are preparing for the chance Marner doesn’t sign by game one of the regular season on October 2.
  • The Leafs also recently signed the following players:
    • Pontus Aberg (1 yr 700k)
    • Kenny Agostino (2 yr $737.5k)
    • Tyler Gaudet (1 yr 2-way $700k)
    • Kalle Kossila (2 yr 2-way $700k)
    • Nick Shore (1 yr $750k)
    • Garrett Wilson (1 yr $725k)
    • Kevin Gravel (1 yr $700k)
  • Aberg recorded 25 points in 59 NHL games between Anaheim & Minnesota in the 2018-19 season so he could be a possible part time Leafs forward but the rest of the signings look to be AHL players.
  • At the recent World Junior Summer Shawcase tournament in Plymouth, Michigan, Leafs second rounder Nick Robertson reportedly exceeded expectations. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and head coach Mike Babcock both attended the tournament and Dubas was quoted as saying they were very happy with the player adding he’s very focused and determined. Robertson represented Team USA. Apparently there were enough players at the event for two USA teams and after the first two days, the Americans cut their roster down to one team and Robertson made the top 6 group forwards on final team.
  • Team Sweden’s head coach at the World Juniors Summer Showcase, Tomas Monten, said he hopes Leafs first rounder Rasmus Sandin is available for the 2020 World Juniors on December 26, 2019. Does not seem likely Sandin, 19, will be playing in the NHL in the 2019-20 season as consensus seems to be both he and 20 year old Swede Timothy Liljegren need one more year in the AHL.
  • The team signed former Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth to a training camp professional try out (PTO). They also signed former Wild/Flyers forward Matt Read to a training camp PTO. Read spent last season with the Wild’s AHL team in Iowa and played 12 games with the Wild. He has played in 449 NHL games, mostly with the Flyers. I don’t expect he’ll make the Leafs.
  • Not sure what the Leafs are planning for their back-up goaltender position. Names in consideration for the position include:
    • Michael Hutchison
    • Michal Neuvirth
    • Kasimir Kaskisuo
  • The team needs a decent back-up as Andersen can get worn down when he plays too much. Of these three goaltenders, Neuvirth seems to have an edge. The Leafs don’t have a lot of cap room to spend.
  • The team’s goalie of the future is clearly Ian Scott (4th rounder from 2017) who won the Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL & QMJHL) goaltender of the year in 2019. He’ll play with the Marlies in 2019-20.
  • With the addition of defenseman Jordan Schmaltz from St. Louis for Andreas Borgman, the team now has the follow right shot defenseman:
    • Tyson Barrie
    • Cody Ceci
    • Schmaltz
    • Justin Holl
    • Timothy Liljegren
  • Schmaltz, 25, was drafted in the first round, 25th overall in 2012, but has just 42 games (zero goals and 5 assists) of NHL experience. I expect he’ll need time in the AHL before being given a look with the Leafs. His younger brother is Nick Schmaltz of the Arizona Coyotes.
  • I’ve heard nothing on Jake Gardiner and can just assume the offers so far are not what he was expecting. The back problem he struggled with last season has really affected his market value. Some people are suggesting he’ll sign a one or two year deal to re-establish his value but it’s not clear which teams may have interest. Anaheim, Colorado, Arizona were some of the teams interested in Shattenkirk after he was bought out so I assume there would be interest in Gardiner from some these teams. Some people still link Gardiner to the Leafs but they can’t afford him if they reach and an agreement with Marner.

Buyouts

  • The Flames bought out the final year of defenseman Michael Stone’s contract which is $3.5 M. The buyout gets the team $2.33 M of cap space that they need to get RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk signed. Michael Stone is Mark Stone’s brother and he struggled with injuries (blood clots) all of last season. He recently turned 29 so still has some hockey left it would seem. He cleared through waivers so may have to look to Europe or sign a training camp PTO with an NHL team.
  • The Rangers bought out the final 2 years of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s contract. In 119 Rangers games over two season’s, Shattenkirk recorded 7 goals and 44 assists for 51 points with a -29 plus/minus. He was due to make $6.65 M in each of the remaining two years so he now gets two thirds of that over four seasons.
  • Shattenkirk signed a one year, $1.75 M, contract with Tampa Bay on Monday. The deal include a “no trade” clause. Other teams that were reportedly interested in signing him include the Leafs, Coyotes, Anaheim, Colorado and Winnipeg. Shatttenkirk was not happy being bought out and says he’ll be a motivated player in the new, 2019-20 season.

Odds & Ends

  • Ottawa Senators Chief Marketing Officer, Aimee Deziel, has reportedly left the organization after about one year in the role. Dezial’s responsibilities included communicating the organization’s plans to the media plus reaching out and connecting with fans. It’s not clear why she left but it’s just another executive that has been unable to make much progress in the Senators organization.
  • Seattle GM Ron Francis said the other day expect a Seattle team name to be announced in the first part of 2020. Team colors will be announced around the same time. I’ve seen a lot of red associated with the Seattle team.
  • Oilers assistant captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going into his ninth NHL season, all with Edmonton, and over that time has had 7 different head coaches and 5 different GM’s.
  • Former Leafs forward Dominic Moore has a yearly summer charity ping pong tournament that was recently, in it’s 8th consecutive year running, held in Toronto called Smashfest that recently went over the $1 M mark of cash raised to fund concussion and cancer research. Twenty NHL players showed up to play in this year’s event including Freddy Andersen and Mark Scheifele. Moore lost his wife to a rare form of liver cancer in 2013. A million dollars raised is an amazing milestone for something that was informally started by a player who took action towards helping others.
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NHL News & Notes to 21 July 2019

League

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

Seattle

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

Team Management

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Transactions / Signings

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

Retirements

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

Leafs

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

Canucks

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

Odds & Ends

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

NHL News & Notes to 02 Jul 2019

A few news items from around the NHL. I wrote most of these notes before the July 1 UFA signing frenzy, to see who signed where and for how much look here.

League

  • Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5 M. The cap floor is $60.2 M. The salary cap for the 2018-19 season was $79.5 M and $75 M in 2017-18. Some experts say when the USA TV deal, signed in 2011 for $2 B for 10 years with NBC Sports expires in 2021, the cap will increase by a greater percentage than in the past few years.
  • The League announced that Montreal will host the 2019-20 Entry Draft.  The event will be held on June 26 & 27, 2020 at the Bell Center. Quebec native Alexis Lafreniere is expected to go first overall. This past season playing for Rimouski in the QMJHL, Lafreniere recorded 37 goals and 68 assists for 105 points in 61 games.
  • Cuban-American billionaire Alex Meruelo was approved as the majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes at the recent Board of Governors meeting that was held in Las Vegas. Former Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway retains a 5% ownership position. The sale will officially close sometime in July 2019.
  • Some of the recent rule changes were announced in the past two weeks including:
    • After a PP or icing, the offensive team gets to pick which side the face-off in the offensive zone will occur on.
    • 3rd coaches challenge added (in addition to goalie interference and off-side) – for missed stoppages of play in offensive zone leading to a goal such as illegal hand pass, missed high stick, missed puck hitting the out of play protective netting. If a coach calls for a video review and the call is not overturned, a 2 min penalty is assessed and if they are wrong on a second challenge, a double minor is assessed. Also, for major and match penalties, the ref who made the call can review it at the penalty box after they assessed the penalty and confirm it but at least a minor penalty would be assessed. The on ice officials have final call. Commissioner Bettman added the two minute and four minute penalties for failed coaches challenge have been introduced to deter coaches from overusing challenges. Bettman said the objective with the coaches challenges is for it to be used for clear missed calls only.

Seattle

  • The Oak View Group announced that Palm Springs is the location for their new AHL franchise. The AHL entry fee is $5 M which Oak View Group will be paying plus they need to build a new arena (the whole Seattle NHL team project is completely privately funded). The whole securing of an AHL location was something now Oilers coach Dave Tippett worked on before he left the Seattle franchise. The new Palm Springs arena is in the downtown area of the city and the land is owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (the new building will be built on tribal land). Live Nation (entertainment company) is a partner on the arena deal and will bring live entertainment events to the new building. Construction of the new building is planed to start in February 2020 and the new building will seat 10,000 fans.
  • Former NHL goaltender Sean Burke interviewed with Seattle for their vacant GM position. Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito was also in the running for the position but decided he wanted to remain with the Columbus organization. Another name that gets mentioned, though I don’t believe he’s been interviewed, is former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. His contract with Carolina expired on July 1, 2019 (he was in a private real estate business position after leaving the Hurricanes GM role but I am not sure he is still doing that) and there is some talk he wants to get back into the NHL in a management position. He was a co-GM at the spring World Hockey Championships for Team Canada. The Oak View Group has said they’ll hire a GM as soon as this summer, if they find the right person.
  • Oak View Group CEO Tod Leiweke was at the Entry Draft in Vancouver with a Seattle contingent as Seattle is hoping to host an Entry Draft as soon as June 2021. Seattle also has to hold an expansion draft in advance of their first season, mostly likely in September of 2021, so it’s not clear if it’s plausible that they’d hold both before playing their first NHL game.
  • Seattle hired Alexandra Mandrycky as Director of Hockey Adminstration. Mandrycky, 28, was with the Minnesota Wild for a time doing hockey analytics and player evaluation. Tod Leiweke said recently Mandrycky will have input into the team’s GM hire process. Mandrycky has an Engineering degree from Georgia Tech.
  • The KeyArena renovations are in the interior building demolition stage and all indications are that things are progressing on schedule.

Team Management

  • The Anaheim Ducks have promoted Dave Nonis to assistant GM. His previous title was consultant to GM Bob Murray. Also with the Ducks, David McNab has been promoted to Senior VP of Hockey Operations & has signed a 2 year contract extension.
  • The GM of the Year, Don Waddell, does not have a contract in place for the 2019-20 season but has verbally agreed to stay in the role as Hurricanes General Manager. Waddell said he and owner Tom Dundon have a good working relationship but have yet to agree to a new contract. The Hurricanes have added 3,000 new season tickets holders since the start of last season.
  • The St. Louis Blues announced a 3 year contract agreement with head coach Craig Berube. No dollars figures were disclosed.
  • Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol joined the Leafs as an assistant coach on Mike Babcock’s staff. Hakstol joins Paul McFarland Leafs assistant coaches. Hakstol will focus on the defense while McFarland will work with the forwards and PP group.
  • The New York Islanders added former Leafs assistant coach Jim Hiller as an assistant coach on head coach Barry Trotz’s staff. Hiller is a noted expert on running the PP.
  • Former St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne joins the Ottawa Senators as an assistant coach on head coach DJ Smith’s staff. With Jack Capuano and now Payne, the Senators have two former head coaches on their coaching staff. Payne was most recently an assistant coach on Sabres then head coach Phil Housley’s staff and, before that, was an assistant coach with the LA Kings where he won a Stanley Cup in 2014.
  • Arizona hired former Sabres head coach Phil Housley as an assistant coach on Rick Tocchet’s staff. Housley will work the Coyotes defense group. Before being the Sabres head coach the past two seasons, Housley was an assistant coach in Nashville where he was responsible for the team’s defense group. Coyotes GM John Chakya said he was very happy to add Housley as he had other offers and chose to work with the Coyotes. Head coach Rick Tocchet added the Coyotes want to play and up-tempo style and Housley will be key in training the defense group to move the puck from the d zone to the forwards quickly.
  • The Oilers added former Arizona Coyotes assistant coach Jim Playfair as one of Oilers head coach Dave Tippett’s assistant coaches. Playfair will be responsible for the Oilers defense group. Playfair was a Tippett assistant coach with the Coyotes from 2011 to 2017.
  • The Los Angeles Kings added Trent Yawney as an assistant coach on head coach Todd McLellan’s staff. Yawney will reportedly work with the Kings defense group. It’s Yawney’s forth Pacific Division team that he’s been an assistant coach on. Yawney joins Kings assistant coach Marco Sturm and goaltending coach Bill Ranford on Kings head coach Todd McLellan’s staff.
  • The Coyotes also added former player Scott Walker, who was the Canucks Director of Player Development for the past four years, as a special assistant to GM John Chayka. They also promoted Jake Goldberg to AGM and Phil McRae to Director of North American Scouting. Also, Brian Stewart was appointed to Director of Pro Scouting. It’s not clear if the sale to new owner Alex Meruelo has any effect on the Coyotes front office hires.
  • The Flyers added former player Nick Schultz as a Player Development Coach. Schultz played for the Flyers from 2014-17 plus played for the Minnesota Wild when Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher was there as GM.
  • The Nashville Predators added former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi as a Defense Development coach. They also added Sebastien Bordeleau as a Player Development coach and Dave Rook as a Goaltending coach. Rook had been a consultant to Nashville for the past 5 seasons. Rook was previously a goaltending coach with the OHL London Knights for 6 seasons as well as with St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets.
  • The Minnesota Wild added former player Matt Hendricks as Assistant Director of Player Development. Hendricks will work with the Wild Director of Player Developer, Brad Bombardier, and assist in player evaluation and implement programs to continue player development in the Wild organization. Hendricks just recently announced his retirement as an NHL player.
  • Ottawa Senators added former player Clarke MacArthur in their Player Development Dept. MacArthur will work part time with the Senators players and prospects. MacArthur was recently on the ice coaching at the Senators summer development camp. MacArthur had an abrupt end to his playing career due to concussion problems so it’s good to see him back in the game.
  • Former NHL player Steven Reinprecht has joined the Avs front office in a player development role.  Reinprecht was also recently coaching at the Avs summer development camp.
  • Anaheim Ducks added former player Francois Beauchemin in their player development department that is run by Director Todd Marchant.
  • Charlotte Checkers AGM/Director of Hockey Operations/head coach Mike Vellucci has left the Hurricanes organization to join the Penguins as head coach of their AHL team, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. Vellucci won the Coach of the Year award in the AHL and delivered Charlotte their first Calder Cup this past season. Vellucci was with the Charlotte organization for the past 5 seasons and, before that, spent 14 years coaching in the OHL (Plymouth Whalers) where Pens current GM Rutherford oversaw the team (when he was GM with Carolina & former Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos owned the Whalers). With Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan entering the final year of his contract, it will be interesting to see how the 2019-20 season plays out in Pittsburgh.
  • Canucks GM Jim Benning enters the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. No word from the organization if they plan to talk to him about an extension.
  • Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is also entering the final year of his contract. In 191 games as Bruins head coach, Cassidy has a record of 117-52-0-22. GM Don Sweeney said they plan to extend Cassidy.
  • Former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is apparently in discussions with multiple teams about a front office position. The Vancouver Canucks are one team that have said they’ve talked to Chiarelli. Canucks GM Jim Benning and Chiarelli worked together in the Bruins front office in the past.

Entry Draft 2019

  • In the first round, by position, there were 11 centers, 11 defenseman, 5 RW, LW 4 and 1 goaltender selected.
  • Apparently trade discussions were fairly quiet at the draft. The GM’s just had just received their team cap number, $81.5 M, the evening before.
  • Some of the Canadian teams first round selections:
    • Canucks (10th overall): Russian Vasili Podkolzin (6’0” / 190 pounds) was ranked as high as 4th going into the draft. Starred for Russia at the summer Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Team captain, led the tournament with 8 goals and 11 points in 5 games. Has 2 years left on his contract in the Russian league and says he wants to stay in Russia before playing in the NHL. Expected to play for Russia at the Christmas time World Juniors that are in the Czech Republic.
    • Oilers (8th overall): Swedish defenseman Phillip Broberg. Experts says he could be like Oilers number one defenseman Oscar Klefbom but better. Six foot four and 200 pounds, 18 years old, with elite level skating ability. Broberg is eligible to play in the AHL in the 2019-20 season or back home in Sweden. Sounds like it could be Sweden where he’ll represent his country at the World Juniors Tournament in December/January.
    • Flames (26th overall): Jakob Pelletier a small (5’9” & 160 pounds), speedy and skilled winger. Recorded 39 goals and 50 assists (89 points) in 65 games with Moncton of the QMJHL this past season.
    • Winnipeg (20th overall ) – this is the first round pick acquired in the Trouba trade and the Jets took a Finnish defenseman named Ville Heinola. Heinola said he models his game after fellow Finn Miro Heiskanen. Heinola recorded 14 points on 2 goals in 34 games in a Finnish league in 2018-19.
    • Leafs (2nd round, #53 overall) – Nick Robertson a 5 foot 9 LW who, with the OHL Peterborough Petes this season, had 27 goals and 28 assists for 54 points in 55 games played. Robertson was born in Michigan. Said to be a shifty, strong forechecker with good offensive skills.
    • Montreal (15th overall) –  Cole Caufield. 29 goals and 12 assists for 41 points in 28 games playing for the USA National Development Program. One scout said he’ll score more goals at the NHL level than Alex DeBrincat but I don’t believe that myself (.42 goals per game at age 19 and 20 in his first two NHL seasons for DeBrincat).
  • The Red Wings made the first surprise pick going with a German born defenseman named Moritz Seider at 6th overall. He was rated #15 going into draft weekend. Seider is reportedly both strong offensively and defensively plus has high end hockey sense. Reportedly impressed at the Wings recent summer development camp.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted another Foote – as in former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote’s kid, Nolan. Nolan went 27th overall and this recent season with Kelowna of the WHL recorded 36 G & 27 A for 63 points in 66 games played. The ‘Bolts already have Nolan’s brother, Cal Foote (2017 /14th overall), a defenseman that played the recent season for the Lightning AHL team in Syracuse (31 points in in 76 games on 10 goals). Nolan signed his 3 year entry level contract four days after the end of the entry draft.

Scuttlebutt

  • The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to match the offer sheet presented to Sebastian Aho. Montreal offered Aho a 5 year deal at $8.454 M with a lot of the money paid in July 1 signing bonuses. The talk was Aho was looking for $9 M – $9.5 M on a long term deal with the Hurricanes but no deal between the Hurricanes and Aho was close to being signed. Aho signed the offer sheet from Montreal which means Carolina has one week to match. The five year term walks Aho right into UFA status at age 26 (same deal Auston Matthews got) which Hurricanes GM Don Waddell admitted was not something they would have done.
  • The Wild are trying to reach an agreement with defenseman Jared Spurgeon, 29, who is one year from UFA status. Spurgeon recorded 43 points in 82 games while playing an average of over 24 minutes/game this past season with the Wild. He’ll make $5.187 M in the final year of his deal in 2019-20.
  • The Wild have the oldest roster in the league and just signed 32 year old Mats Zuccarello for 5 years at $6 M. It was a move that surprised some people.
  • Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall 2016) has apparently asked the team for a trade. Oilers GM Ken Holland said he only make deals that benefit the team so if he can’t work out a trade for the player that benefits the team, Puljujarvi won’t be dealt. Puljujarvi’s agent spoke out and said Jesse won’t play in Edmonton in the 2019-20 season saying if he’s not traded he’ll play in Europe but his first choice to play in the NHL. The player is currently rehabilitating from surgery he had on both his hips but sounds like he’s recovering well. Puljujarvi turned 21 years old in May. Oilers GM Holland is reportedly asking for a top prospect from another team in return for Puljujarvi.
  • San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton says he plans to return for the 2019-20 season and he’s not looking at it as his final year saying he hopes to play as long as he enjoys it. GM Doug Wilson said Thornton, 40, is an inspiration to his teammates and they are very happy he’ll return in 2019-20.
  • Was reported Monday night that Vegas is shopping Russian forward Nikita Gusev. Gusev recorded 82 points in 62 games in the KHL this season is suppose to be the top player that is not in the NHL currently. Vegas signed him to a one year deal and near season’s end and he did not get into a single NHL game. He’s is now a 26 year old RFA. The Golden Knights have apparently tried to reach a contract agreement with him but they are not close and Vegas is right up against the $81.5 M salary cap. Gusev is suppose to be looking for about $3.5 M – $4 M / season on a multi year deal.
  • The Sharks would like to apparently move back-up goaltender Aaron Dell who has one year remaining on his contract at $1.9 M. Dell did not have a strong 2018-19 season; his goals against average was 3.17 and SV%.886.
  • With Joe Pavelski leaving the Sharks for the Dallas Stars (3 years at $7 M /season), some experts believe Logan Couture will be named the next Sharks captain. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said head coach Peter DeBoer will choose who will be the Sharks new captain.
  • New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall, one season from UFA, is expected to play out the 2019-20 season with the Devils and do his UFA situation in the same manner Leafs star John Tavares did, that is look at offers and decide in the few days leading up to July 1, 2020. All indications point to him not negotiating with the Devils during the upcoming season. Hall has said his number one objective when looking at his options on July 1, 2020 is a chance to win a Cup; so far in his nine year NHL career, he’s played in just 5 playoff games (last season with New Jersey).
  • Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk, one year from UFA status, is apparently being shopped around the league. Faulk, 27, had 35 points in 82 ‘Canes games in 2018-19 while playing 22.5 minutes/game.
  • Winnipeg Jets 22 year old center Jack Roslovic (a Columbus native) is an RFA and needs a new contract. Apparently, he recently fired his Columbus-based agent who had represented him for over 6 years because he wants a solution to his lack of playing time at the NHL level. Roslovic was drafted 25th overall in 2015. In the 2018-19 season, the recorded 9 goals and 15 assists for 24 points which averaging 9:45 mins/game. Roslovic is now represented by former NHL’er Claude Lemieux.
  • Former 1st rounder Patrik Berglund is trying to catch on with an NHL team. Berglund, part of the Ryan O’Reilly deal that saw him go to Buffalo from St. Louis, went home to Sweden before Christmas (2018) because he said he lost interest in playing. No word if any team is willing to give him an opportunity. In 23 games with the Sabres this past season, he recorded 2 goals and 2 assists. Berglund was drafted 25th overall in 2006.

Star Class of 22/23 year old RFA’s

  • Some say the star RFA’s are looking to see what Leafs Mitch Marner signs for. Some of these top 22/23 year old RFA starts include:
    • Lightning Brayden Point (41 G & 51 A for 92 points in 79 games played) 1.16 PPG as a 22 year old
      • GM Julian BrisBrois said at the draft the two sides continue to work at it but they are not yet close to a deal. Talk is the team would like to do a 2-3 year deal while the player was hoping for something in the 5 year range. Point has been clear that he really wants to stay with the Lightning organization. He recorded two less points than Marner so Point would be in about the $9 M /season range. As a center, some say his value would exceed that of a winger like Marner.
    • Avs Mikko Rantanen (87 points in 74 games, 1.17 PPG as a 22 year old)
      • Avalanche GM Joe Sakic and Mikko Rantanen’s agent, Mike Luit, are trying work out a new contract for the RFA forward. Doesn’t sound like a deal is near but talks are cordial. Rantanen recorded 87 points in 74 games in the 2018-19 season for the Avs. The Avs have the most cap room of any NHL team at $27 M so that part is not an issue.
    • Flames Matthew Tkachuk (77 points in 80 games on 34 goals)
      • GM Brad Treliving is trying to bridge the gap in Tkachuk’s asking price and what the team is willing to pay. No numbers have be disclosed publicly but would seem the number to get the player signed would be about $8 M /season. There is some discussion as to whether the Flames will bridge the player, i.e. sign him to a shorter term deal. If I had to guess based on some of Treliving comments, it will be a 4-5 year deal and not the max 8. Flames initially said they didn’t not want a player to exceed Mark Giordano’s $6.75 M/season (same as Johnny Gaudreau) but Tkachuk’s new deal will for sure make him the highest paid Flames player.
    • Canucks Brock Boeser (26 G & 30 A)
      • Word is Boeser is looking for about $7.5 M on a 4 or 5 year deal. A contract agreement is reportedly not close but talks are progressing.
    • Sharks Timo Meier (66 points on 30 goals in 2018-19)
      • The Sharks reached a 4 year contract agreement with Meier at an annual rate of $6 M which is an excellent team-friendly deal. Meier, 22, had a very good post season and has developed into a top player on the team. Thirty goals and thirty six assists for 66 points in 78 games plus 15 points in 20 post season games.
    • Jets forward Kyle Connor
      • Other teams reached out to Connor during the RFA speaking window but the player wants to remain in Winnipeg. Thirty four goals and 66 points this past season for 22 year old Connor.
    • Jets forward Patrik Laine (30 goals and 50 points)
      • Expected to sign a bridge deal with the Jets as in a short term deal, 3-5 years. Jets are trying to develop Laine’s overall game as he’s been, so far, a goal scorer that lacks some value when the goals are not going in.
    • Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (26 points in 82 games) 22 years old. Went 7th overall in 2015. Averages 25 minutes a game.
      • Apparently, the Flyers and the agent for Provorov are not close at all in the financial valuation of the player.
    • Leafs Mitch Marner (94 points in 82 games on 26 goals)
      • The players agent and GM Dubas are trying to find common ground somewhere between $9 M -$11 M per season range. Sounds like it will be a 4-5 year term and not a max, 8 year term. The player wants to be compensated the same as Auston Matthews, 5 years for $11.6 M, but the organization sees him more in the Mark Stone/Nikita Kucherov, $9.5 M /season, range. Teams did reach out to Marner during the RFA speaking window but, so far, no team is willing to do an offer sheet where the Leafs, if they didn’t match, they’d get four first round picks. Sounds like discussions were more around gauging his interest in moving on from the Leafs.

Hockey Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees

  • Builders Category
    • Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. Won a Cups with 2 different franchises, Carolina (1) and the Penguins (2). He’s just the 7th person since NHL expansion in 1967-68 to achieve that.
    • Jerry York – 1,000 wins as a NCAA college coach at Boston College
  • Players Category
    • Hayley Wickenheiser – she won 4 Olympic goal medals. Is the Leafs assistant director of player development. Also working on completing a medical degree from University of Calgary.
    • Sergei Zubov – some say the greatest Russian born defenseman to ever play in the NHL. Zubov is 2nd in points for a Russian born NHL defenseman with 771 (Sergei Gonchar had 811 points).
    • Guy Carbonneau – 3 Cups, two with Montreal and one with Dallas, one of the top defensive forward all-time. Won the Selke award 3 times (1988, 1989 and 1992)
    • Vaclav Nedomansky – former LA Kings pro scout and played 421 NHL games (122 G & 156 A) back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
  • Daniel Alfredsson was eligible as was Vincent Lecavalier and Patrik Elias but they were not selected.

NHL Awards

  • Vezina (Top goaltender): Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning goaltender enters the 2019-20 season on the final year of his contract and experts say he could be in the $9 M range for his next deal. He’s the top goaltender in the league and he’s just 24 years old. He already holds the Lightning franchise record for shutouts in the regular season with 18.
  • Flames captain Mark Giordano was the first Flames player to win a Norris trophy for the league’s top defenseman. Gio was the forth player to win the award at age 35 or older (Nick Lidstrom, Al MacInnis and Doug Harvey the others). Gio received 96.5% of the first place votes.
  • St. Louis Blues forward and Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly became the first player since Bob Gainey back in the 1978-79 season to win the Selke trophy (top defensive forward) and Conn Smythe (playoffs MVP) in the same season.
  • Islanders head coach Barry Trotz became just the 6th person to win the Jack Adams for Coach of the Year twice.
  • Wild forward Jason Zucker, winner of the King Clancy award for humanitarian work, said at the awards he wants to go to a team that wants him. Zucker has been mentioned in trade going back to last season. He was in a Flames deal (Michael Frolik for Zucker at the trade deadline) that fell through at the last minute and also in the Phil Kessel to Minnesota deal that Kessel veto’ed.
  • The League’s first and second all-star teams were announced at the awards:
    • First Team
      • Ovechkin-McDavid-Kucherov
      • Giordano-Burns
      • Vasilevskiy
    • Second Team
      • Marchand-Crosby-Kane
      • Carlson-Hedman
      • Bishop
    • All Rookie Team
      • Anthony Cirelli-Elias Pettersson-Brady Tkachuk
      • Rasmus Dahlin-Miro Heiskanen
      • Jordan Binnington

Transaction

  • The Penguins dealt Phil Kessel, Dane Birksand a 2021 4th round draft pick to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph (23rd overall in 2017). No salary was retained by either team. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said Kessel asked for a trade multiple times this past season but Kessel denies that. There was talk since the end of the regular season the Penguins wanted to move a core player. From the Arizona side, Coyotes GM John Chayka said because Galchenyuk is one season from UFA, they could of lost him for nothing at the end of the 2019-20 season. Kessel apparently has a very good relationship with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet. Tocchet was a Penguins assistant coach before taking the head coaching position with the Coyotes at the start of the 2018-19 season. The Coyotes identified goal scoring at the top area they were looking to improve on this off-season. Based on his 2018-19 points, Kessel would of led the Coyotes in points by 35. Kessel, 31, has 3 seasons left on his contract at $6.8 M /season. He didn’t have to waive his no trade clause as part of the deal as Arizona was not on his “no trade” list. Galchenyuk, 25, has one year left at $4.9 M. Kessel is four games from 1,000 for his career (823 points). He won two Cups with the Penguins.
  • San Jose signed defenseman Erik Karlsson to a max 8 year deal at an annual average value (cap hit) of $11.5 M, $92 M total. Because Karlsson re-signed with San Jose, Ottawa receives a 2nd round draft pick in 2021. Some experts were surprised GM Wilson gave Karlsson a max term as the highest paid defenseman. This past season, Karlsson struggled all season with injuries.
  • Former Rangers and Jets forward Kevin Hayes signed a 7 year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was going to be a July 1, 2019 UFA. It’s 7 seasons at $7.14 M /season. The deal includes a full no move clause in the first 3 seasons plus draft expansion protection and a modified no trade clause (12 teams he can’t be traded to) for the remaining 4 seasons. Hayes’, 27, highest point total in 5 full NHL seasons is 49 but he shows improvement year over year. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said Hayes is a top “200 foot player” who is skilled both offensively and defensively. Hayes is apparently also very good on the PK as well.
  • Former Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba was finally dealt landing with the New York Rangers (the deal is Trouba for Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk and the Rangers first round draft pick in 2019 which turned into 18 year old Finnish defenseman Ville Heinola) . Trouba, 25, was a RFA but wanted a trade to an American city as his fiancee is in medical school and wanted to work in the ‘States. The Rangers and Trouba are apparently in discussion about a long term deal, expected to be a max 7 year contract, at a rate of about $7.5 M – $8 M /season. Trouba was 13th in defenseman points last season with 50.  The Rangers have really managed their re-build well starting from bringing in Boston College hockey coach David Quinn to drafting Kaapo Kakko (2019, 2nd overall) plus adding top prospect defenseman Adam Fox in a trade with the Hurricanes. Forward Lias Andersson (7th overall in 2017) is expected to be an NHL star. Also, their first rounder from 2018 (9th overall), Vitali Kravtsov, is a highly rated young player. Rangers 28 goal scorer Chris Kreider is one year from being unrestricted. The organization values his goal scoring ability and have discussed a new deal with him but it’s not clear if they’ll be able to agree on terms. Head coach David Quinn said at the draft the Rangers are aiming to get back in the post-season in the 2019-20 season.
  • Vegas signed forward William Karlsson, 26, to a max 8 year deal at an average annual rate of $5.9 M /season. Vegas has no state income tax so it’s a popular place to play for the players. Karlsson apparently really wanted a max term deal and the team pushed for a lower AAV and the two sides reach a deal. Karlsson recorded 56 points on 24 goals in the 2018-19 season. The contract includes clause of 10 team’s he can’t be traded to.
  • The Cup champs Blues signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a two year contract at an annual rate of $1.75 M. He was a July 1 UFA.
  • The Canadiens signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a two year contract at an annual rate of $1.5 M /season. Reilly recorded 3 goals and 11 points in 57 games in 2018-19.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a 2 year deal at a AAV of $1.7 M. Coburn, 34, was a July 1 UFA. He made $3.7 M last season. The Lightning are one of the teams that are need every dollar of cap space as they have to yet sign Brayden Point.
  • The Sharks, another cap team will cap problems, traded defenseman Justin Braun to the Flyers for the Flyers second round draft pick in 2019 plus the Flyers 2020 third round draft pick. Braun played 9 season in San Jose recording 154 points on 25 goals. The move was related to the Sharks signing of Erik Karlsson (8 years at $11.5 M /season) as the Sharks don’t have enough cap room for all their good players.
  • The Dallas Stars placed forward Val Nichushkin on waivers to allow them to buy out his contract that has one year left. Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall in 2013. In 57 games this past season, the Russian forward recorded zero goals and 10 assists. He returned to the NHL at the start of the 2018-19 season after playing in Russia for 2 seasons. He was due to make $2.95 M in the 2019-20 season but as a less than 27 year old, the player gets just 1/3 of the contract amount paid over 2 seasons. The Stars also didn’t offer forward Brett Ritchie a qualifying offer which makes him a UFA (he signed in Boston for one year at $1 M). Add to the Pitlick trade and the Stars cleared some cap space. Nichushkin’s agent says his client hopes he can sign a contract to play in the NHL for the 2019-20 season.
  • Vancouver placed forward Ryan Spooner on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Spooner was due to make $4 M in the upcoming, 2019-20 season. He had 3 goals and 9 points in 52 games with the Canucks, Oilers and Rangers last season. The Canucks cited the recent retirement of Roberto Luongo that saw the Canucks hit with what’s called a “cap recapture penalty” of about $2.2 M that counts against their cap plus with the cap not increasing as much as expected they had to buy out a player.
  • The Flyers signed defenseman Travis Sanheim to a bridge deal, 2 years at $3.25 M /season. Sanheim, 23, was a first round selection of the Flyers from back in 2014 (17th overall). In 82 games this past season, he recorded 35 points on 9 goals which was 2nd on the team for points from a defenseman. I heard GM Brad Treliving say it’s positive the Flyers could bridge a 23 year old player adding it’s getting more challenging with young players out of their entry level deal.
  • The Flyers also signed veteran goaltender Brian Elliott to a one year, $2 M contract to back-up Carter Hart. GM Chuck Fletcher was also talking to Cam Talbot but Talbot wants to be a #1 not a back-up. Talbot ended up signing a one year deal with the Flames for $2.75 M.
  • Bruins defenseman signed Steven Kampfer a 2 year deal at an annual rate of $800,000. Kamper was a July 1, 2019 UFA.
  • Anaheim signed goaltender Ryan Miller to a one year deal for $1.125 M. Miller will back-up starter John Gibson. Miller became the winningest USA-born goaltender in history last season.
  • Ottawa signed forward Anthony Duclair to a one year deal at $1.65 M. Duclair was an RFA.
  • The Flyers bought out defenseman David Schlemko who had one year remaining on his deal ($2.1 M).
  • With Sergei Bobrovsky signing with the Panthers, Columbus signed their back-up from last season, Joonas Korpisalo, to a one year contract extension at $1.15 M.

Trades

  • New Jersey acquired defenseman PK Subban at the draft from Nashville. Going to Nashville were Steven Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies and two second round draft picks. No salary was retained by Nashville which was key for Preds GM David Poile. The Leafs were in discussions with Nashville but I don’t believe could take on all of the $9 M / season Subban is owed. Subban said he is excited about the trade and he’s going to New Jersey to win a Stanley Cup. Subban has three more years left on his contract and should add a lot to the Devils -both on and off the ice. With Nashville, their captain Roman Josi is one year from UFA and GM Poile plans to re-sign him.
  • Tampa Bay, needing to clear cap space, traded forward JT Miller to the Canucks for goaltender Marek Mazanec, a third round draft pick (2019) and a conditional first rounder. If the Canucks make the post-season, the Lightning get the Canucks first round draft pick in 2020. If the Canucks don’t make the post-season, the first rounder bumps to 2021. The Lightning needed to clear cap space as they’ll have to pay RFA forward Brayden Point between $8 M and $9 M on a new deal.
  • Chicago acquired defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela from Carolina in exchange for goaltender Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling. De Haan recorded 13 assists in 74 regular season game in the 2018-19 season. Apparently the Hurricanes were looking to shed salary in the deal with an eye to other possible moves. Chicago was looking to improve their defense with experienced defenders that are good on the PK and and this trade, plus adding Olli Maatta earlier this summer, are steps in that direction.
  • Dallas acquired forward Ryan Hartman, 24, from the Flyers in exchange for center Tyler Pitlick. Hartman had 26 points last season on 12 goals while Pitlick recorded 12 points on 8 goals. Pitlick has one year left on his contract, at $1 M/season, at which point he’ll be a UFA. Hartman was acquired by the Flyers at the trade deadline is an RFA so he needs a new contract. Hartman was not issued a qualifying offer by the Stars so is a July 1 UFA but Stars GM Jim Nill is reportedly still interested in signing the player. Pitlick, 27, is a physical/energy player than can make a play if an opportunity presents. In 47 games this past season, he recorded 8 goals and 4 assists while averaging 13 mins/game.
  • Vegas dealt forward Erik Haula to the Hurricanes for forward Nicolas Ray and a conditional 5th round pick in 2021. Haula, 28, played in just 15 games in the recent season as he suffered a leg injury in a game against the Leafs in Toronto. Haula scored a double OT winner against LA in the first round of Vegas’ first ever playoff series against LA. It was another cap clearing move by Vegas.
  • Vegas also dealt defenseman Colin Miller to the Sabres for a second round draft pick in 2021 and a 5th rounder in 2022. Miller’s name has been mentioned in trade for a while. Vegas President of Hockey Operations, George McPhee, said they are looking to promote one of their young prospect to replace Miller adding they want to give the young players hope that they can make the NHL club with hard work and patience. Miller, 26, has three seasons left at $3.875 M. Vegas is about $1 M over the cap even with this deal but the trade was, in part, about getting their cap under the $81.5 M limit.
  • The Capitals traded forward Andre Burakovsky to Colorado for forward Scott Kosmachuk and a 2020 second round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.
  • Avs traded forward Carl Soderberg to Arizona for defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 2020 third round draft pick. Avs GM Joe Sakic said the deal was about getting some of the young Avs centers like Tyson Jost & JT Compher more playing time. Both Jost (10th overall in 2016) and Compher has good post-seasons.
  • Florida traded goaltender James Reimer to Carolina for Scott Darling and a 6th round draft pick. The Panthers then bought out Darling making him a UFA. Reimer had spent the past 3 seasons with the Panthers and struggled a bit in 2018-19 with a 13-12-5 record and a 3.09 GAA with a .900 SV%. Reimer has two years left on his contract at $3.4 M /season. The Panthers saved $2.17 M on their cap in 2019-20 and $1.07 M in 2020-21.

Leafs

  • Leafs shook up their roster a lot so far this off-season.
    • Going out:
      • Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Ron Hainsey and Tyler Ennis to Ottawa.
      • Calle Rosen to Colorado
    • New additions:
      • Cody Ceci, Jason Spezza (says his dream as a Toronto-born player would be to win a Cup as a Leaf), Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot
  • GM Kyle Dubas said he’s taking a page from the Raptors and going for a championship in 2019-20.
  • Nazem Kadri had been the longest serving player on the Leafs roster. A former Leafs GM Brian Burke draft pick, 7th overall, back in 2009 he seemed like a loyal player and was proud to be a Leaf. Avs GM Joe Sakic said he was looking to add some scoring depth and Kadri adds that. Sakic said Kadri will be the Avs second line center.
  • Tyson Barrie is a terrific offensive defenseman; he recorded 59 points in 78 games in 2018-19 and stood out in the post-season. The Leafs will only have him for one season, though, as he’s a UFA on July 1, 2020. The Leafs are paying only $2.75 M of Barrie’s $5.5 M salary. The Avs pay the rest as per terms of the trade. As a comparison, Ottawa is paying defenseman Ron Hainsey $3.5 M for next season.
  • New Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot (15 G & 27 A) is expected to file for arbitration (he’s an RFA) and should get about $3 M /season on a new deal.
  • Morgan Rielly is the only Leafs defenseman under contract after next season. The organization’s need to shore up their blueline will remain an issue for the foreseeable future.
  • New defenseman Cody Ceci needs a new contract as an RFA. The Senators tried to sign him but apparently the two sides were not close to a deal.
  • Three of the Leafs most consistent players on the penalty kill, Brown, Hainsey and Zaitsev are gone so the team may need to address that.
  • The Leafs expect 24 year old Russian forward Ilya Mikheyev (six foot two, 190 lbs) to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Babcock said the other day, the player is a big part of the future of the team. He signed a one year deal ($925,000) in May and was in the KHL the past few seasons.  He recorded 45 points on 23 goals in 62 games this past season with Avangard Omsk in the KHL.
  • GM Dubas used the money that would of been paid to Marleau to sign Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. Kapanen, 22, gets a 3 year deal at $3.2 M /season and Johnsson, 24, got a 4 year deal at $3.4 M. Both players are Marlies graduates and seemed like they really wanted to stay with the Leafs organization.
  • Zach Hyman said the other day he is taking baby steps in his recovery from ACL surgery on his knee. He’s not yet been cleared to start skating and said he wants to make sure the knee is 100% healthy before he start getting back on the ice.
  • Leafs signed depth players Michael Hutchinson and Martin Marincin. Both contracts are one year at the league minimum, $700,000. Goaltender Hutchison went 2-3-0 with a 2.64 GAA and 1 shutout in 5 starts with the Leafs in 2018-19.
  • The Leafs play on opening night of the 2019-20 season, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 against Ottawa at Scotiabank Arena.
  • The Leafs lead the league in amount of player salaries paid in July 1 signing bonus money. They pay approx $47 M of an $81.M year cap in July 1 signing bonuses. Trades occur on July 1, such as the Zaitsev move to Ottawa, because the Leafs pay the signing bonus on July 1 ($3 M of his $4.5 M cap number) and Ottawa only pays Zaitsev $1.5 M for the season but $4.5 M counts against Ottawa’s cap. For a team that may not reach the cap floor, it works out well for the Senators. The Sharks payout the second most money in July 1 signing bonuses at about $26 M but it’s half of what the Leafs pay. Even with a hard cap, teams always find ways around it to benefit their organization. It appears to be a cap system that’s fair to all teams, but the reality it some teams can’t pay $81 M in cap dollars (Ottawa/Carolina).
  • The Leafs director of sports science and performance Dr. Jeremy Bettle has left MSLE and taken the same role with the Anaheim Ducks organization. His new title with Anaheim is Director of High Performance. Bettle joined the Leafs from the NBA New Jersey Nets in 2015.

Canucks

  • The Canucks organization announced Daniel and Henrik Sedin will have their #22 and #33 jersey’s retired in a ceremony at Rogers Arena sometime in February 2020. The organization will also have a week long celebration of the Sedins during February 2020.
  • Retired player Alex Burrows is getting his name inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honor. Burrows will join Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts, Pat Quinn and Mattias Ohlund with the honor.
  • GM Jim Benning signed defenseman Alex Edler to a two year contract at $6 M /season. Elder was going to be a July 1, 2019 UFA and has said many times when asked, he only wants to play in Vancouver. Edler’s deal includes a full no move clause for both years of the contract. Canucks head coach Travis Green said he is happy Edler re-signed as he’s still a top defenseman plus is a role model for the Canucks younger players both on and off the ice.

Retirement

  • Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement last week. Luongo placed a full page ad in one of the Vancouver newspapers thanking the fans in Vancouver. Luongo is 3rd in all-time goalie wins with 489 (Brodeur has 691 and Patrick Roy has 551) and 2nd in goaltender games played (1,044). Luongo leaves the NHL leading two franchises in all-time wins with the organization, Vancouver (252) and the Florida Panthers (230). Lu is 9th in all-time shutouts with 77 (Brodeur leads that list with 125). Luongo went 4th overall in the 1997 Entry Draft and retires with 3 year remaining on his contract (there was some talk he may go on the Long Term Injury Reserve List).
  • Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik announced his retirement last week. Orpik had a 15 year NHL career playing 1,035 NHL games and won 2 Cups. Orpik was drafted 18th overall in 2000 by the Penguins after winning an NCAA title at Boston College. Orpik won one Cup with the Penguins, 2009, and one with the Capitals, in 2017-18.
  • Former Penguins forward Max Talbot has retired from the League. Talbot played the recent season in the KHL. Talbot is going to work for CAA Hockey (player agency). Talbot was part of the Penguins 2009 Cup winning team.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, 34, was diagnosed with a degenerative back problem that will force him to retire. Callahan has one more season left on his contract at $5.8 M but the team will most likely place him on long term injury reserve (LTIR) which provides some portion of cap relief for the team. Callahan had 17 points in 52 games last season for TB.

Odds & Ends

  • The Vancouver Canucks are holding their 2019-20 training camp in Victoria.
  • Stars GM Jim Nill indicated recently he’s getting calls on defenseman Julius Honka and it sounds like he’ll be moved at some point. Honka was a 1st round, 14th overall, draft pick in 2014 but has not been able to make it full-time at the NHL level. In 29 games in 2018-19, he recorded no goals and four assists.
  • Hurricanes captain Justin Williams has not yet decided if he’ll continue his playing career. He said he doesn’t want to move his family again so it seems as though if he doesn’t play with the Hurricanes in 2019-20, he’ll retire.
  • Colorado has one of NHL’s top young defense with Cale Makar (4th overall 2017), Bowen Byram (4th overall 2019), Samuel Girard (47th overall 2017) and Conor Timmins (32nd overall 2017).
  • Also with the Avs, with goaltender Semyon Varmalov signing with the Islanders as a UFA, GM Sakic says the team will start the season with Philipp Grubauer as the starter and Pavel Francouz as the back-up.
  • UFA defenseman Adam McQuaid is still dealing with post concussion symptoms after an Andrew Shaw elbow back 2 months ago. His agent said recently his recovery time is undetermined. McQuaid, 32, ended the season with Columbus but also played with Boston and the Rangers in 2018-19.
  • Ottawa has approx $58.6 M in allocated cap space for the 2019-20 season and has to reach the $60.2 cap floor by the start of the new season.
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NHL News & Notes to 16 Jun 2019

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

League

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

Team Management News

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

Scuttlebutt

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

Stanley Cup Champs 2019 – St. Louis Blues

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

Transactions

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

Odds & Ends

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