Here are a few news & notes from around the NHL.
- The 2020 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl stadium, was a tremendous success. With 85,630 fans attending, a reported 20,000 of those traveling from Nashville, it was the second highest attended New Year’s Day Winter Classic since the league started the tradition back in 2008 (the 2014 game featuring the Leafs vs the Red Wings at Michigan Stadium drew the most fans for a New Year’s Day Outdoor game with 105,491 fans attending). Dallas won this years game 4-2 overcoming first period 2-0 deficit. Stars forward Corey Perry knocked Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis out of the game in the first period with an elbow to the head. Perry was thrown out and subsequently suspended for 5 games. Ellis was placed on the Predators injury reserve list which means he’ll miss at least three games.
- Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the state of Minnesota, Target Field in Minneapolis, will host next years Winter Classic with the Minnesota Wild playing a yet-to-be-named opponent.
- The league’s 29 outdoor games have drawn an average attendance of 54,431 fans/game so the event has be very successful.
- The NHL and the Bridgestone tire company have a partnership agreement in place for the Winter Classic that runs until 2021 and there is some talk they may try to extend it. This years game in Dallas was expected to generate about $30 – $35 M in economic impact to the city of Dallas.
- Unrelated to the Winter Classic, it’s not clear where the New York Islanders will play their home playoff games. During this regular season, they are scheduled to play 20 home games at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and 21 home games at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Last season, the Islanders split their post season games between Brooklyn and Nassau playing their first round series against the Penguins in Brooklyn and their second round series on Long Island. Bettman recently indicated Nassau Coliseum is not a suitable facility for major league sports events but the Islanders have a loyal fan base on Long Island/Nassau County and it’s where their new arena is being built (in an area called Belmont Park). The new facility is two years away from being ready for games. An announcement on the location of the Islanders post season games for this year should be made soon.
- The NHL and NHL Players Association had been discussing the possibility of a having a World Cup style tournament next season, tentatively scheduled for February 2021, but the two sides were not able to agree on it plus they felt there was not enough time to get it organized so the idea has been shelved for now. The NHLPA are now looking at having a World Cup type tournament in 2024 and 2028. The league has not been involved in an international event since the 2016 World Cup event that was held in Toronto.
- The Washington Capitals and owner Ted Leonsis are pushing the league to have a Capitals game in Russia. This could potentially be added as part of the NHL Global Series that has been, so far, held in Europe. NHL players seem to really enjoy having a game or two in their home country and a possible Russia-based game would star Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin plus Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitri Orlov and rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Commissioner Bettman indicated the league has started discussions internally around having a regular season game or two in Russia for either next season or the following one. The NHL already has two games scheduled in Europe for next season as part of the Global Series: the Bruins will play the Predators in the Czech Republic to open the 2020-21 Regular Season and later in the Fall the Blue Jackets will play the Avalanche in Finland.
- The expansion Seattle team is expected to announce their team name plus logo and colors sometime in late February or early March of 2020. One team name I keep hearing is the Seattle Sockeyes. The OakView Group recently indicated construction on their building, formerly known as KeyArena but will get a new sponsorship name in the near future, is on track.
- The NHL All-Star game is scheduled for January 25th at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Players not going to the game will get a mid season one week break.
- Team captains, as voted by fans, for the game were recently announced:
- *Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan)
- David Pastrnak (Atlantic)
- Nathan MacKinnon (Central)
- Connor McDavid (Pacific).
- Ovechkin already announced he will skip the game and rest instead which means he has to sit out one game either before or after the All-Star game. No Metropolitan Division replacement has been announced yet.
- Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was voted as the Pacific Division starting goaltender but also announced he will skip the game. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom will replace Fleury on the Pacific roster.
- The All-Star coaches are:
- Pacific: Gerard Gallant (VGK)
- Central: Craig Berube (STL)
- Atlantic: Bruce Cassidy (BOS)
- Metro: Todd Reirden (WSH)
Team Management News
- The Dallas Stars (24-14-4) fired their head coach Jim Montgomery and replaced him with assistant coach Rick Bowness. Seems something away from the rink happened with Montgomery and Stars GM Jim Nill did not really want to discuss details to protect those involved. Montgomery announced this past Friday he is undergoing treatment for alcohol issues so hopefully he get can get back on track and healthy. The Stars under Bowness are 7-3-1. Bowness, 64, is a very well respected hockey coach having worked with Winnipeg, Boston, Ottawa, the New York Islanders, Phoenix, Vancouver, Tampa Bay and now the Stars organization in either a head coach or assistant coach.
- The Stars recently named Hall of Fame inductee Sergei Zubov as Senior Consultant to their Hockey Operations group. Zubov reports to Stars GM Jim Nill and will be involved in all hockey operation activities including the NHL Stars, the AHL Texas Stars and the organization’s prospects.
- Chicago Blackhawks (18-18-6) assistant coach Marc Crawford was re-instated on Jan. 2, 2020 after missing a month while the team and league investigated claims by former players that Crawford’s coaching tactics cross the line into abusive behaviors toward players. Crawford acknowledged in the past he did cross the line and he connected with players who spoke out with the hopes of learning to be better going forward. Crawford says he underwent professional counselling to understand why he acted the way he did adding he appreciated players speaking out saying he wants to be part of the solution around the topic of hockey culture. The Blackhawks other coaches and players were reportedly happy to have him back and said he’s been stellar during his time (just this current season) with the ‘Hawks.
- St. Louis Blues (26-10-7) head coach Craig Berube set a franchise record with 61 coaching wins in his first 100 games coached with the Blues. The Blues have in the past employed coaches such as Scotty Bowman, Ken Hitchcock, Joel Quenneville and none have recorded more wins in their first 100 games coached in St. Louis than Berube.
- Columbus Blue Jackets (19-15-8) head coach John Torterella was fined $20 K for recently complaining about the refs in a post-game press conference. The league also said he will be fined $25,000 if he publicly complains about officiating within one year, until December 29, 2020. Tortorella has now been fined 9 times and suspended 3 times in his NHL coaching career. He was complaining that the refs screwed up the game clock in overtime which caused a Blue Jackets overtime goal to be disallowed. Blue Jackets starting goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo, was injured (out 4-6 weeks with torn cartilage in his right knee) in the ensuing shootout. Korpisalo was voted an Eastern Conference all-star but will now miss the game.
- There have now been 5 head coaching changes this season:
- Leafs – Sheldon Keefe in and Mike Babcock out (Leafs are 15-4-1 since Keefe took over)
- Calgary – Geoff Ward in a Bill Peters out (Flames are 10-5-1 since Ward took over)
- San Jose – Bob Boughner in and Peter DeBoer out (Sharks are 4-5-2 since Boughner took over)
- New Jersey – Alain Nasreddine in and John Hynes out (Devils are 6-7-2 since Nasreddine took over)
- Dallas – Rick Bowness in and Jim Montgomery out (Dallas is 7-3-1 under Bowness)
- Winnipeg Jets (22-15-4) head coach Paul Maurice is apparently in the final year of his contract and recently said he does not want to leave Winnipeg saying it’s home for him and his family. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, when asked, didn’t really want to comment on a possible contract extension for his coach saying that will wait until the summer.
- Calgary recently announced assistant general manager Chris Snow has been diagnosed with ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Snow is 38 years old and has started treatment. From what I read, there is no cure for the disease but Snow has entered into a clinical trial program developed at the University of Miami which involves gene therapy treatment.
- Arizona Coyotes forward Taylor Hall is not expected to sign a contract with the Coyotes until, the earliest, this off-season. The talk is he will wait until July 1 and assess his options. Hall has scored 2 goals and added 6 points in 9 Coyotes games. Coyotes GM John Chayka called the move acquiring Hall a calculated gamble adding they hope once Hall settles in he’ll want to stay longer term.
- The Winnipeg Jets have not ruled out injured defenseman Dustin Byfuglien returning to the team. Byfuglien is recovering from ankle surgery. The player filed a grievance through the NHLPA because he was suspended without pay for not reporting to Jets training camp but later said he was injured. It’s not clear where the grievance process is at but Jets GM Cheveldayoff recently said his medical care is not under Jets doctors supervision but they’ve not ruled out a return for the player.
- Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad (11 G & 8 A for 19 points) is apparently available via trade. Saad has one more season remaining on his deal at $6 M /season,
- The Oilers and the agent for defenseman Darnell Nurse have been in discussions about a contract extension for the player. Nurse is a summertime RFA (2.5 season’s from UFA) who has a $3.2 M cap hit. Nurse has 20 points on 3 goals in 44 Oilers games this season. He is second on the Oilers in ice time with an average of 22.5 mins/game.
- The Oilers also want to reach an agreement with pending UFA forward Zack Kassian. The player has scored 13 goals and added 15 assists for 28 points. Seems as though he wants to stay with the Oilers if possible as he often plays on the Oilers top line with McDavid. Kassian is making $1.95 M this season. He adds a physical element among the forwards which is valuable.
- Sabres veteran defenseman Zach Bogosian has asked the organization for a trade as has teammate /forward Evan Rodrigues. Rodrigues has 3 assists in 24 Sabres games played but has recently been a healthy scratch.
- Canucks forward Sven Baertschi has asked for a trade from Vancouver. GM Jim Benning indicated recently there is not much of a market for the player as he was recently placed on waivers and cleared. He’s now playing with the Canucks AHL team in Utica.
- Both Chicago goaltenders, Corey Crawford & Robin Lehner, are summertime UFA’s. Reports indicate the ‘Hawks are trying to reach an agreement with Lehner. No terms have been made public. Lehner is 12-7-4 this season with a 2.92 GAA and a .922 SV%. Heard him interviewed recently and he said he believes he has been playing as as well as he ever has in his NHL career.
- Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom is in contract discussions with the team as he is a UFA this summer. The team wants to re-sign him and Backstrom, 32, wants to stay in Washington but the player wants a 5 year deal while the team only wants to do 3 years.
- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is on pace for a 113 point season and 35 goals. Teammate Alex Barkov set a Panthers franchise record with a 96 point season last season. Huberdeau is an underrated star player. He was drafted 3rd overall in 2011.
- Seems the mid-season leading Hart trophy candidates are Sabres Jack Eichel and Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon. Eichel is 7th in the league in points with 26 G & 29 A in 42 games played (a 50 goal/106 point pace). Eichel had a 18 game point streak this season where he recorded 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points (1.78 PPG) and was plus 19 during the 18 games. Nathan MacKinnon is 3rd in the league in points with 25 goals and 39 assists for 64 points in 42 games or 1.62 PPG. MacKinnon was a Hart finalist last season.
- Rumors are pointing to the Carolina Hurricanes signing UFA forward Justin Williams. Williams has been skating the past month and it appears he is looking to return to the league. The only caveat is reaching a financial agreement with the player. Williams has won 3 Cups in his career, with LA, Washington & Carolina, plus won one Conn Smythe as playoffs MVP.
- Experts say with New Jersey trading pending UFA forward Taylor Hall, the Devils are now Nico Hischier team. Hischier, drafted first overall in 2017, is apparently strong both defensively and offensively. This season the player has recorded 9 goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 36 Devils games. He has also had an ‘A’ added to his jersey for assistant captain. Current Devils captain Andy Greene is 37 year old, a off-season UFA and some say Hischier could take over as Devils team captain. Hischier just turned 21 years old.
- New York Rangers forward prospect Lias Andersson has asked the team for a trade. Drafted 7th overall in the 2017, Andersson has been unable to make the Rangers and was recently playing for the Rangers AHL team in Hartford before he left last week and went home to Sweden.
- The Capitals appear to have a good goaltender in back-up Russian Ilya Samsonov (drafted 22nd overall in 2015). He has an 11-2-1 record this season with a 2.33 GAA and a .918 SV%. On the road this season, Samsanov has an 8-0-0 record with a 2.18 GAA and a .924 SV%. The goaltender set a NHL record with the 8 roads wins being the only goaltender in NHL history to win his first 8 road starts. With starter Braden Holtby a summer time UFA, it seems as though Samsanov will take over as the Caps #1 next season.
- The season’s trade deadline day is Monday, February 24th. Some names that are expected to move, all pending unrestricted free agents:
- Penguins forward Alex Galchenyuk is expected to be dealt. He has not excelled in Pittsburgh after being traded there for Phil Kessel this summer. In 32 games played with the Penguins, Galchenyuk has scored 4 goals and added 5 assists.
- LA Kings forward Tyler Toffoli (11 G & 13 A). Colorado has been linked to Toffoli.
- Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Having a career year with 19 goals and 11 assists for 30 points on not a very good Senators team.
- New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider. Has 12 goals and 14 assists at the mid way point of the season.
- Ducks defenseman Michael Zel Zotto is a UFA and could be moved.
- LA Kings players Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis could be moved. Neither player puts up many points but both have each won two Stanley Cups. There is some talk the Kings may try and sign Clifford as they like his toughness.
- Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is also a pending UFA and has been in contract discussion with the Bruins. Has 28 points in 35 Bruins games this season. Seems the Bruins will keep him even if they are not close to signing him as he is a strong playoff performer.
- Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (35 points in 43 Blues games this season) also UFA and not expected to be traded. It doesn’t sound as though contract discussions with the Blue have progressed very far.
- Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom is UFA and having a stellar season for the Canucks and the team is trying to reach a contract agreement with him.
- The Capitals are the first team to 60 points this season. They are 17-5-1 on the road this season and have recorded more road wins this season than any other team has at home.
- Columbus is 8-1-4 in their past 13 games but will be tested with their starting goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo, out for four weeks with a knee injury.
- The league’s top 5 teams are:
- St. Louis
- Buffalo will be without forward Jeff Skinner (39 GP 11 G 8 A) for the next 2-3 weeks as he is dealing with a upper body injury. Additionally rookie of the year candidate Victor Olofsson (42 GP 16 G & 19 A) will be out 5-6 weeks with a lower body injury. The Sabres have 3 W 6 L in their past 9 games and sitting 5 points out of a wild card position. The Sabres have a league leading 8 season playoff drought.
- The Jets are not winning at the same clip that they were earlier in the season. They are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 3-5-2 with a .886 SV% and a 3.85 GAA in his past 10 games.
- The New York Islanders announced they will retire John Tonelli’s No. 27 on Feb. 21 and Butch Goring’s No. 91 on Feb. 29.
- New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin is on pace for a career high 44 goals and 110 points. The Rangers haven’t had a 100 point player since Jaromir Jagr back in 2004-05. Panarin was recently voted by fans to go to his first All-Star game.
- Carolina Hurricanes 19 year old sophomore Andrei Svechnikov is on pace for an 80 point / 34 goal season. The organization has to be ecstatic with the development of the player drafted second overall in 2018.
- Predators defenseman Roman Josi is having a career season, on pace for 29 goals and 88 points. Josi leads the Preds in points with 43 in 40 games. Josi also has an active 10 game point streak going which is a Predators record for longest point streak for a defenseman.
- Though Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is tied with McDavid for most points in the league, Draisaitl is a -17 on the season and -14 in his past 10 games. As much as Draisaitl is putting up points, defensively he’s on the ice for a lot goals against. McDavid is -7 on the season.
- Penguins points leader, Jake Guentzal, recently recorded his 200th career point plus his 20th goal of the season. Unfortunately, he crashed into the end boards after scoring his 20th and will miss 4-6 months recovering from shoulder surgery. Guentzal was selected to his first All-Star game but will now miss the game.
- Habs forward Max Domi has an active nine game point streak (6 G 8 A). Domi is on pace for a 62 point season (he recorded 72 points last season). He’s an RFA this summer.
- Senators forward Anthony Duclair has set a career high in goals with 21 in 41 Sens games this season. Duclair, 24, will be a summertime RFA.
- Lightning forward Alex Killorn is on pace for a career high 34 goal, 74 point season. He had 35 points last season on 16 goals.
- Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom was recently diagnosed with a medical condition called Ewings sarcoma. It’s a form of cancer. He has already started treatment and will miss the rest of the regular season. Flyers captain Claude Giroux said recently the players are dedicating the season to Lindblom.
- Avalanche second line center Nazem Kadri already has 15 goals on the season. He had 16 all of last season with the Leafs.
- Montreal signed forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a one year 2 way deal worth $700,000 /season at the NHL level. Apparently the Habs are hoping Kovalchuk can help on the PP which is the 9th rank PP in the league (22.9%). People who watched him in LA this season say he can’t keep up with the fast pace of the games any longer plus he doesn’t buy into a team concept. Hope it works out for him in Montreal. GM Beregvin said Kovalchuk has to buy in to a team concept adding it’s probably his final NHL chance.
- Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook is out the rest of the season. He needs shoulder surgery plus surgery on both his hips. Sounds insurmountable to me for a player that turns 35 in April and has already lost a step. Fellow Blackhawks defensemn Calvin de Haan also will miss the rest of the season as he needs shoulder surgery.
- Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon is just the second Avs player in franchise history to reach at least 25 goals at the half way point of the season. GM Joe Sakic had 28 goals at the midway mark in the 1995-96 season.
- Blackhawks 22 year old forward Alex DeBrincat is on place for 20 goals, half of the 41 he scored last season.
- New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider was placed on waivers, went unclaimed and is now playing with the Devils AHL affiliate in Binghamton. In 7 appearances in the AHL so far, Schneider has a 3.15 GAA and a .887 SV%. Schneider is under contract to the Devils for this season and two more at a $6 M cap hit.
- Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot, 22, is leading the league in time on ice per game with an average of 26:11 minutes. Chabot has recorded 23 points in 39 games this season. His 8 year contract at $8 M/season starts next season.
- St. Louis Blues forward David Perron has set a Blues franchise record by scoring four overtime goals this season. He’s set the record in just 39 Blues games. In NHL history only Chicago’s Jonathan Toews has also done the same.
- Montreal traded defenseman Mike Reilly to Ottawa for forward Andrew Sturtz & a 2021 5th round draft pick. Reilly was a healthy scratch most of the season in Montreal and Ottawa has a few injuries on their blueline.
- Buffalo traded defenseman Marco Scandella to Montreal for 2020 4th round draft pick.
- Calgary traded pending UFA forward Michael Frolik to Buffalo for a 2020 4th round draft pick. Frolik was overpaid at $4.3 M in the final year of his contract and Calgary was happy to get some needed cap space. Frolik is about a 15 goals /season player who is good on the PK.
- Leafs have won 9 of their last 10 games and have a 15-4-1 record under new head coach Sheldon Keefe. They are on pace for a 100 point regular season – same total as last season.
- Keefe is the first Leafs head coach to win 15 of his first 20 games.
- Players say Keefe has implemented a more puck possession style while also allowing the offensive players to be more creative.
- The team have outscored teams 28-10 in first periods under Keefe. He recently said that getting a lead is key.
- Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews have a combined 32 points in the last 9 games.
- Auston Matthews is the first Leafs player to record 25 goals in each of his first four seasons. He’s on pace for 53 goals and 96 points. Leafs haven’t had a 50 goal scorer since Dave Andreychuk back in 1993-94.
- Forward William Nylander is playing as well as he ever has as a Toronto Maple Leaf. Since Sheldon Keefe took over, Nylander has recorded 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points in 20 games. Nylander is on pace to set career high in goals (36) and points (72).
- Forward Mitch Marner is on pace for 87 points despite missing 11 games with an ankle injury. Marner had 94 points last season.
- Forth line forward Jason Spezza is on pace for a very respectable 37 points.
- GM Kyle Dubas signed defenseman Justin Holl to a 3 year deal for $2 M /season. The new contract starts next season. Holl was to be a July 1, 2020 UFA. Holl has scored one goal and added 11 assists in 41 games played this season. He also leads the team in plus/minus with a plus 17.
- Back-up goaltender Michael Hutchinson is 3-0 in his recent 3 starts with a .945 SV%, a 1.65 GAA and one shutout.
- Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen were voted by the fans as NHL All-Stars. Matthews has made the NHL All-Star game in each of his first four seasons in the league. It will be Andersen’s first All-Star game.
- Andreas Johnsson, injured since December 4th (leg fracture), has started skating and appears to be close to returning to the line-up. Trevor Moore (concussion) has also started skating.
- Goaltender Frederik Andersen recently reached the 200 win mark. He achieved the milestone in the 5th fewest games in NHL history. Only Ken Dryden (309 games), Braden Holtby (319 games), Jacques Plante (340 games) and Chris Osgood (344 games) reached 200 wins faster.
- Alex Kerfoot reached the 100 point mark in his career, took him 194 games. He has really fit in well in his first seson in Toronto. He has both skill and speed. He has 17 points in 38 games played as the team’s third line center.
- Forward Ilya Mikheyev (ligament damage in his wrist) will be out three months. Mikheyev and his agent Dan Milstein were very appreciative of how the Leafs handled Mikheyev’s recent skate laceration injury. The wrist laceration from a New Jersey Devils players skate severed an artery in his wrist. Apparently, the Leafs head trainer and the New Jersey Devils medical staff jumped to get the player immediate medical attention. It could have been a career ending injury not to mention blood was pouring out of the wrist. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas stayed in New Jersey with the player for 2 days and even bought him clothes to wear. Both Mikheyev and his agent said they were very grateful to Dubas. The player hardly speaks any English having come over from Russia last summer. In his first season in the NHL, Mikheyev has recorded 8 goals and 23 points. He expected to be out of game action for the rest of the season.
- Defenseman Jake Muzzin (broken foot) is week-to-week.
- The team plays on consecutive nights 14 times this season having already played 10 of them and are, so far, 2-7-2 in the second game.
- The Marlies have a 20-11-2-1 record and are 15-6 at home which is good since they’ve lost a number of players to the Leafs plus their head coach. Marlies goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has a 11-4-1 record.
- Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin competed for Team Sweden at the just wrapped up World Juniors and was named the tournament’s top defenseman. Sandin led all defensemen in points with 3 goals and 7 assists in 7 games played. Experts say Sandin could get time with the Maple Leafs in the second half of the season.
- After playing 8 of their last 13 games on the road, the Leafs play five of their next 6 games at home.
- Mon, Jan 6 vs Edmonton
- Wed, Jan 8 vs Winnipeg
- Sun, Jan 12 at Florida
- Tue, Jan 14 vs New Jersey
- Thu, Jan 16 vs Calgary
- Sat, Jan 18 vs Chicago
- The Pens are forth in the league in points with 55 (23-11-5 record) and are 15-5-4 since Crosby has been out of the line-up recovering from November 14th sports hernia surgery (skating but still not cleared for practice).
- Forward Evgeni Malkin has stepped up to lead offensively in Crosby’s absence recording 33 points in 22 games or 1.50 PPG.
- During the month of December and without Crosby, the team had a 10 win and 2 loss record.
- Head coach Mike Sullivan is the mid-season leading candidate for the Coach of the Year award.
- Forward Bryan Rust is tracking towards a 43 G and 43 A (86 points) season. His career high in goals is 18, assists 25 and points 38. Rust is in the second year of a four year contract that pays him $3.5 M /season.
- Tristan Jarry, 24, has taken over from Matt Murray as the team’s number one goaltender. In 19 games played this season, Jarry has a 1.94 GAA, a .935 SV% and 3 shutouts. Murray will be a RFA this summer and in the final year of a deal that pays him $3.75 M.
- Crosby has started skating but has not been cleared for contact though it seems he will be back playing soon.
- Defenseman Justin Schultz, a pending UFA, is injured and it’s week to week at this point. In 27 games played his season, Schultz has recorded 8 points on 2 goals.
- The only Penguins players to play in all of their games this season are:
- Brandon Tanev
- Dominik Simon
- Marcus Pettersson
- Teddy Bleuger
- Zach Aston-Reese
- Head coach Mike Sullivan recently coached his 500th game becoming just the 13th active head coach with at least 500 games coached.
- Though the Bruins have lost 11 of their past 15 games, they still lead the Atlantic Division by 6 points (over the Leafs). Experts say fatigue from a long post-season run (game 7 of the Cup finals) last season could be a factor in their mid-season struggles.
- Bruins forward David Pastrnak leads the league with 31 goals and is on pace for a 59 goal season. He also has an active 10 game point streak.
- Pastrnak and Marchand are the first Bruins teammates to collect at least 60 points prior to the team’s 45th game of the season since Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr back in the 1974-75 season.
- The Canucks have won 7 straight games for the first time since December 2013 and are 14-5-3 at home this season. They’ve scored first in each of the 7 games and are 16-3-9 when scoring first this season.
- The team’s top line of Elias Pettersson between JT Miller and Brock Boeser is one of the league’s top lines. Pettersson is tracking towards an 86 point sophomore season (had 66 in his rookie season), Miller is having a career year (on pace for 78 points) and Boeser is on pace for 76 points (career high is 56 points).
- The team’s record this season when Elias Pettersson scores a goal is 11-2-1.
- Rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes is on pace for 59 point season and, if he can stay healthy, has a chance to win the organization’s second straight Calder trophy for rookie of the year. Hughes (41 GP) required the fewest games by a Canucks rookie defenseman to collect his 30th point of a season.
- The Canucks lead in league in powerplay goals with 40; players from their top line, Miller-Pettersson-Boeser, have accounted for 45% of the team’s PP goals.
- The organization is trying to reach an agreement with pending UFA goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom said he considers Vancouver home and wants to re-sign with the Canucks.
- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos recently recorded his 800th career point. He reached the milestone in 779 games. Only Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier have reached 800 points as Tampa Bay Lightning players.
- Dallas Stars captain Joe Pavelski recently played in his 1,000 career game. The Stars players bought him a trip for four to Scotland and GM Jim Nill presented Pavelski with a silver stick.
- San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic recently played in his 1,000 career game. Vlasic has 392 points in his career.
- Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson recently played in his 700th career game and Taylor Hall played in his 600th.
- Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury recently won his 455 career game which ranks him 6th all-time.
- Penguins star Evgeni Malkin became the 8th active player and forth player in Penguins history to reach 400 career goals.
- Oilers assistant captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recently recorded his 400th career point.
- Jets forward Blake Wheeler recently played in his 900th career game (256 G & 476 A for 732 points or .81 PPG) this past week.
- San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton recently skated in his 1,600 career regular season game. He is the first player drafted first overall to play as many games. Thornton has recorded over 400 goals, 1,000 assists, and 1,400 points in his career. He is 7th all-time in assists with 1,080.
- Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin recently scored his 256th career power-play goal in the regular season to move past Teemu Selanne (255) for sole possession of third place all-time.
- Ottawa Senators defenseman Ron Hainsey recently played in his 1,100 career game.
Odds & Ends
- Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had the most points in the last decade with 802. Alex Ovechkin scored the most goals, 437, and Nicklas Backstrom recorded the most assists with 512.
- Team Canada won the Spengler Cup on Dec. 31, 2019. They defeated the Czech team 4-0 in the championship game. Former NHL goaltender and now hockey executive Sean Burke was the team’s General Manager and Shane Doan was AGM. Former player and Oilers executive Craig MacTavish was head coach and former Oiler Paul Coffey was an assistant coach. It was the Canadians forth Spengler Cup win in the past 5 tournaments. There were very few former NHL players on the roster with the team comprised mostly of Canadian players that have played in Europe.
- Patrick Kane is getting his #88 London Knight jersey retired by the team on Jan. 17th in a pre-game ceremony. Kane played just one season in London, the 2006-07 season. He recorded 62 goals, 145 points in 58 Knights games that season.
- The Blackhawks have an 518 game (456 regular season games and 64 playoff games) sellout streak going and they lead the NHL in average attendance this season with an avg 21,398 fans / game.
- Arizona has had 6 home sellouts already this season (after 22 home games). They had 6 all of last season.
Here are some news and notes from around the NHL.
- The NHL Board of Governors are meeting Monday and Tuesday, December 9 & 10, in Pebble Beach, California. Some of items on the agenda include salary cap projections (it’s $81.5 M this season) for next season, and possibly the 2021-22 season, plus discussion around improving hockey culture which stems from the Bill Peters incidents and related player abuse type incidents reported around the league. The league wants input on how to improve hockey culture in the league and possibly introduce a code of conduct to be followed by all teams. The league has apparently been proactively talking to teams asking if there have been incidents of abuse by their coaches in the past as they want to get in front of the stories a bit. Former players have taken to social media to speak out about poor treatment from various coaches around the league. Also reported to be on the agenda for the Monday & Tuesday meetings is an update on Seattle’s progression, all indications point to them being on schedule to start their first season not next season but the 2021-22 season.
- The GM’s will reportedly again debate the skate in the air off-side rule at the March 2020 meetings. Currently a players skate must be on the ice to be considered on-side. Some notes from their GM meetings that were held in November 2019 include the minor penalty for failed coaches challenge has led to 32% decrease in coaches calling a challenge which requires video review and the average time for a game is 148 minutes which is the shortest time since the 2012-13 season. Success rate of coaches challenge is 58% up from 32% last season. There are also fewer stoppages in play and refs have to instructed to get the players to not freeze the puck which slows games down. In the first quarter of the season there were 1956 goals scored in 317 games, the highest number in the past 23 years.
- The league also recently announced the the GM of the Year award will be renamed the Jim Gregory Award. Gregory was Maple Leafs GM from 1969-79 and a hockey executive at the league office for 30 years. Gregory was also chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee from 1998-2014.
- The New Jersey Devils dismissed their head coach John Hynes last week. In 4.5 seasons behind the Devils bench, Hynes had a 150-159-45 record and the Devils made the post-season once, losing the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hynes was first hired by Ray Shero back in 2009 (when Shero was Pens GM) to be assistant coach of the Penguins AHL team under head coach Todd Reiden (current Washington Capitals head coach). Hynes became head coach of the Penguins AHL team in 2010 and was in that position for 5 seasons. One of Hynes assistants, from his time as the Devils head coach and his time in the AHL with the Penguins organization, Alain Nasreddine takes over as interim head coach. Peter Horachek will join the coaching staff (was a Devils pro scout) as an assistant with existing assistants Rick Kowalsky, Mike Grier and goaltending coach Roland Melanson. I read a few quotes from Nasreddine after he was appointed interim coach and he called it “bittersweet” – to get his first chance to coach at the NHL level was exciting adding he has a lot of respect for Hynes. Devils GM Shero said it’s a chance for Nasreddine to show what he can do with the team but the Devils will do a wide search for a permanent head coach. In Nasreddine’s first three games as interim head coach, the Devils are 0-2-1.
- Leafs Mike Babcock was, of course, fired in Toronto on November 20th. Babcock’s record in Toronto was 173 wins, 133 losses and 45 overtime losses. The Leafs missed the post-season in Babcock’s first season in Toronto, 2015-16, and then had two very successful regular season’s in 2017-18 with 49 regular season wins & 105 points followed by a 46 win & 100 point 2018-19 regular season. They lost three consecutive first round series’ (Washington once and Boston twice) under Babcock. Babcock’s assistant coaches including Paul McFarland, Dave Hakstol and Andrew Brewer all remain as part of Keefe’s staff. MSLE will be paying Babcock until 2023. He gets $5.875 M USD / season up to and including the 2022-23 season. Keefe’s contract was for 3 seasons so he’s being paid for one less season than Babcock.
- Bill Peters resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames and assistant coach Geoff Ward was given the Interim Head Coach title. The Flames are 5-0 under Ward. Ray Edwards, the team’s Director of Player Development since 2015, was added as an assistant coach and he will also remain the Director of Player Development. Edwards will view games from the press box and Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas will stay behind the bench. Ward seems like the odds on favorite to be the Flames permanent head coach but the organization may let this season play out first. Ward was an assistant coach with Boston for 7 seasons, where he won a Cup in 2011, plus three more with New Jersey. He joined the Flames before the start of last season as an assistant coach and he has been in consideration for NHL head coaching positions in the past few seasons.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Paul MacLean has joined head coach John Torterella’s staff as an assistant coach. MacLean will reportedly focus on the Blue Jackets PP. MacLean won the Jack Adams award back in 2013 as a member of the Ottawa Senators. Most recently, MacLean was an assistant coach for 2 seasons, 2015-2017, with the Anaheim Ducks.
- Devils forward Taylor Hall, a pending UFA, is reportedly interested in moving on from New Jersey and GM Ray Shero has started trade discussions with teams. Shero apparently does not have a specific want in terms of a return for Hall instead asking interested teams to pitch their offers. Shero isn’t, however, looking for a one for one player swap, like what brought Hall to New Jersey – Hall for Adam Larsson straight-up, but looking for possibly four or five players in return, some of which could be prospects or draft picks. It’s not clear if part of the deal would include discussions around a new contract for Hall but conditional draft picks could be negotiated to be contingent on Hall re-signing with the eventual team he is traded to. Hall’s agent is known for waiting until the off-season / June with his UFA’s since he believes the player gets the most money that way.
- New Jersey is currently in 30th place in a 31 team league and I don’t believe it’s what GM Shero had in mind this summer especially since he brought in defenseman PK Subban. It’s a bit of a step back season for the Devils but with the potential return on the Hall trade, a possible top 3 draft pick in 2020 (since the team is near the NHL basement in the standings) plus cornerstone pieces in first overall draft picks, Nico Hischier in 2018 and Jack Hughes in 2019, New Jersey has the players to form the core of a young and talented roster. The two teams most linked to Hall are Colorado and Arizona. The Devils are reportedly interested in Colorado’s prospect and WHL Vancouver Giants defenseman Bowen Byram who went 4th overall last June and has 115 points in 164 WHL games or .70 PPG.
- The Washington Capitals and forward Nicklas Backstrom have started contract discussions. Backstrom, 32, is in the final season of a 10 year $67 M contract he signed with the Capitals back in May 2010. Backstrom is in his 13th NHL season, all with the Washington Capitals. He is a point a game player – in 918 career games he’s recorded 891 points. The player is acting as his own agent in the negotiations. GM Brian MacLellan said the other day the organization wants to reach an agreement with the player but nothing is close to being signed.
- Doesn’t seem as though the St. Louis Blues are at all close to signing their captain, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who will be UFA this summer. I sense that the player wants to stay in St. Louis but he’s said to be seeking a Roman Josi type deal which is $9 M /season for 8 seasons. Similarly, the talk is the Bruins and defenseman Torey Krug are not close in their discussions for a new contract for the pending UFA. Krug has played his entire career with the Bruins and is a .63 points / game regular season player over his NHL career. He’s been strong in the post-season with 46 points in 62 post-season games. Krug has said he wants to re-sign in Boston and is willing to take less. No word on what the term or dollars are in the current contract discussions. It remains to be seen if the two players are moved by the February 24, 2020 trade deadline.
- Rangers forward Chris Kreider is expected to be traded by the Feb. 24, 2020 trade deadline. Kreider is off to a bit of a slow start with 7 goals and 7 assists after 29 games.
- Avs star forward Nathan MacKinnon recently told Forbes magazine he’s happy with his contract, signed in the summer of 2016, at $6.3 M /season for 7 seasons. Experts say the Avalanche are getting a deal with a 90-100 point player at that salary number. Teammate Mikko Rantanen signed at the end of September for $9.25 M / season for 6 seasons. MacKinnon says his goal is to win a Stanley Cup in Colorado and, if he has to take less to try and make that happen, he’s willing to.
- The December deadline for unsigned RFA’s passed without either of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka or Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi signing therefore they are ineligible to play in the league this season. It seems Honka was closer to being moved than Puljujarvi. Oilers GM Ken Holland said teams were calling on Puljujarvi, 21, but none were willing to provide the return value he wanted for a former 4th overall draft pick (2016). The forward has recorded 27 points on 12 goals in 27 games in the Finnish league this season. Puljujarvi was being linked to the New York Rangers.
- Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, 27, is a pending UFA that is thought to be coveted by teams. Pageau has 15 goals (a career high after just 29 Senators games) plus 6 assist for 21 points. Pageau was the first Senators player to score 11 goals in the month of November since Daniel Alfredsson scored 13 back in the 2005-06 season.
- Both Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic and TJ Brodie are UFA’s at the end of this season. The team started discussions with Hamonic on a new deal but they were unable to agree on terms and the player now wants to put off discussions until the off-season. It doesn’t seem as though Brodie will be back in Calgary next season as there have not contract discussions with him. Brodie collapsed at practice about 3 weeks ago but is back playing. He was put through a battery of tests to determine why he may have fainted but no issues were discovered.
- The NHLPA filed a grievance with the league on behalf of former Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglein who was suspended on September 21, 2019 for not reporting to training camp. The Jets are being quiet on the matter and apparently the NHL is in the middle of discussions with the NHLPA on the issue.
- Through 30 games, the Capitals are 21-4-5, setting a franchise record for most points (47) in their first 30 games of the season. The Capitals hold a 14-2-1 record on the road, the most road wins in the NHL.
- The Bruins lost their first home regulation time game of the season on Saturday against Colorado. Their home record is now 12-1-5. The Bruins have an impressive record of 20-4-6 on the season and are first in the Atlantic Division.
- Colorado has won 6 straight and are 11-3 in the past 14 games. Experts who watched them this season say they look like a Cup contender.
- The Flyers are 7-1-1 in this past nine games and only twice in their franchise history have they recorded more points after their first 30 games, 2011-12 (20-7-3) and 2010-11 (18-7-5). The Flyers also led the NHL in points in the month of November with 24 (10-2-4).
- Even with the Oilers terrific start and 18-10-4 record, Arizona just tied them to the Pacific Division lead (40 points).
- Minnesota is 10-3-3 in this recent 16 games. Eric Staal and Jason Zucker are tied for the team lead in points with 21 after 30 games. Goaltender Alex Stalock is having a good season for the Wild with a 8-4-2 record with a .906 SV% and a 2.91 GAA. He’s outplayed starter Devan Dubnyk this season.
- The Penguins are 8-3-3 since Sidney Crosby was sidelined with a sports hernia injury. Malkin has stepped up as first line center and has recorded 6 goals and 16 assists in 14 games.
- Oilers captain Connor McDavid is on pace for 132 points this season while teammate Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 135 points. Draisaitl and McDavid are the first two Oilers to reach the 50 point mark in under 30 games since Gretzky & Kurri back in the 1984-85 season.
- Bruins forward David Pastrnak has 25 goals in 30 games this season & on pace for a 68 goal season. His career high in goals is 38 which he recorded last season. Pastrnak is one of the most exciting players in the game and is just 23 years old. Only three other players all-time have scored 12+ goals in each of the first two months of the season, as Pastrnak has done. Gretzky did it twice, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy both so did so once.
- Carolina’s young Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov, drafted 2nd overall in 2018, is on pace for a break out second season. He lead the Hurricanes in points with 32 in 30 games and tracking towards an 87 point season. Svechnikov, 19, recorded 32 points in his rookie season.
- Sabres captain Jack Eichel has an active 13 game point streak going and has recorded 42 points after 31 games.
- Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson is on pace for 32 goals. Olofsson was a 7th round draft pick of the Sabres. He played last season in the AHL where he recorded 30 goals and 33 assists in 66 games.
- Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi already has 12 goals and 25 points on the season. His career high in goals is 14 and points 37. Donskoi was a good signing by Avs GM Joe Sakic. The deal was for 4 seasons at $3.9 M /season.
- Jets young star Patrik Laine already has 20 assists on the season matching his total from all of last season. His career high in assists is 28 back in his rookie season. The Jets wanted him to become more than just goal scorer and it seems he is doing that.
- NY Rangers forward Ryan Strome is on pace for a 73 point season. His career high is 50 back in 2014-15 season. Last season split between Edmonton and the NY Rangers he had 35 points.
- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became the 5th player in NHL history with 15 consecutive 20-goal season to begin his career, joining Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Jaromir Jagr, Mats Sundin. Ovechkin also recorded his 24th career hat trick passing Jari Kurri for the 10th most hat tricks in NHL history.
- Capitals 23 year old Czech forward Jakub Vrana has 15 goals in 31 games this season and on pace for a 40 goal season. His career high in goals is 24 which he recorded last season.
- Penguins forward Jake Guentzel is on pace for 44 goals and 85 points while missing his injured linemate Sidney Crosby. He leads the Penguins in points with 31 on 16 goals after 31 games. GM Jim Rutherford got Guentzel on a very good contract at $6 M /season for 5 seasons.
- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has rebounded from two trying seasons in New York and being bought out this summer by the Rangers. Shattenkirk is on pace for 64 points; he has 21 points already this season in 27 games played. Shattenkirk had 20 points in his first season with the Rangers and 28 points in his second. The Lightning signed him to a one year deal at $1.75 M before the start of the season. He’ll be a UFA this summer.
- Flames Czech goaltender David Rittich is having a solid season with a 13-7-0-4 record, a .914 SV% and a 2.69 GAA. Rittich leads the NHL in minutes played, saves made and he has faced the most shots of any NHL goaltender. The Flames signed him to a reasonable contract at $2.75 M/season for two seasons this summer. Fans are hoping Rittich can be the team’s goaltender for many more seasons as, since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013, the Flames haven’t had a solid #1.
- Canucks forward JT Miller is having career season. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. He is tracking at a 85 point season in his first season in Vancouver. His career high in point is 56 back in the 2016-17 season with the New York Rangers.
- Colorado forward Andre Burakovsky has 12 goals after just 26 Avs game this season which is the same number of goals he recorded in each of his past three seasons with Washington. Avs GM Joe Sakic acquired Burakovsky for a 2020 second and third round draft pick. Burakovsky is on a one year deal at $3.25 M. He’s be an RFA this summer.
- New Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri is doing well since being acquired from St. Louis on November 6th. In 14 games as a Red Wing Fabbri has recorded 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points. Fabbri is on a one year deal at $900,000 /season. He will be an RFA this summer.
- Experts say Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper is the leading candidate for the Vezina after 1/3 of the regular season games played. Kuemper has a 12-6-2 record with a 1.92 GAA. a .937 SV% & 2 shutouts.
- St. Louis Blues leading scorer, David Perron, is on pace for 77 point season. Doug Armstrong got him on a very reasonable 4 year deal for $4 M / season signed in the summer of 2018 when Perron was UFA.
- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is following up his strong 2018-19 season (92 points) with a strong early 2019-20 season. Through 29 Panthers games this season, Huberdeau has 36 points a 82 game regular season pace of 102 points. Huberdeau was drafted 3rd overall in 2011. Panthers GM Dale Tallan has the player on a good contract also, $5.9 M /season with this season and three more remaining.
- The team has a 5 W and 3 L record in the 8 games since Sheldon Keefe took over. More importantly, they’ve started games stronger having outscored their opponents 13-2 in the 1st period under Keefe.
- At the 30 game mark, the team has 13 wins & 32 points whereas last season they had 20 wins & 41 points. The team is currently 5 points out of a playoff position.
- Keefe changed the defensive pairings to Barrie & Rielly, Muzzin & Holl and Ceci and Dermott. Seems Tyson Barrie has benefited the most from the move to Keefe. Barrie has replaced Morgan Rielly on the Leafs first PP unit and Rielly moves to the second group. Barrie has 5 points in 8 games since the head coaching change,
- The team put forward Andreas Johnsson (6 goals & 10 assists) on long term injury reserve which means he’ll miss 10 games or 24 days but the team does get some needed cap relief which helped when they re-activated Mitch Marner. The team said Johnsson’s injury will be re-assessed after the Christmas break. The first game Johnsson is eligible to return is December 31st in Minnesota.
- Swede Pontus Aberg steps onto the top line with Matthews and Nylander to replace Johnsson. Aberg was the Marlies points leader this season with 23 in 22 AHL games. I read where Keefe said he may move players around again onto different lines.
- Mitch Marner and Matthews are getting more ice time under Keefe. Marner is around 21 minutes /game under Keefe and Matthews is at 20 minutes under the new coach which is up about 2 minutes per game on average. The players say they like the increase.
- The team has still been unable to solve their games on back to back night’s – they are 0-6 in the second game of back to backs this season. Freddy Andersen played both games in the teams most recent back to back (against the Flyers and Colorado); it was the first time in 3 seasons he played both games on consecutive days. It seems as though they are willing to give goaltender Michael Hutchison another chance as it’s planned he’ll get a start when the team travels to Western Canada this week. Experts are saying if Hutchison can’t make the saves, they may need to move salary/a roster player to get a goaltender who can help Freddy get some rest. The Leafs next back to back is December 20 & 21.
- Seems new coach Sheldon Keefe was not high on Nick Shore, he played in just one of Keefe’s first 6 games as coach and Frederik Gauthier has been a healthy scratch already in a few games since Keefe took over. Shore was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets after he was placed on waivers last week. He recorded 2 goals and an assists in 21 Leafs games this season.
- William Nylander is on pace for a 60+ point season again plus he’s tracking towards 29 goals which would be a career high. Nylander already has had two 60+ point seasons in his career. Last season was not good for Nylander but he’s rebounded this season.
- Center Auston Matthews is on pace for 48 goal / 87 point season and he has not missed a game this season.
- Forth line forward Jason Spezza has 10 points in his past 12 games.
- The Marlies announced that Greg Moore has been hired as head coach replacing Keefe. Moore, 35, spent the past two seasons coaching the USHL Chicago Steel. Moore’s coaching record with the Steel was 52-25-5. Moore was a Calgary Flames draft pick, 5th round back in 2003, but played in just 10 NHL games. Moore is spending the next two weeks with Keefe and the Leafs coaching staff to learn about the organization. He officially starts with the Marlies on December 16.
- The Toronto Marlies have a 16 wins, 4 losses, 2 OTL’s and 1 shootout loss record this season so far. Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has a 9 W, 1 L and 1 tie record with a 2.18 GAA and a .925 SV%.
- The Leafs start a three game Western Canada road trip on Tuesday.
- Thursday in Calgary
- Saturday in Edmonton
- Montreal had lost 8 straight games (0-5-3) before winning on the road against the Islanders this past Tuesday. The organization hadn’t lost 8 straight since the 1939-40 season. The team has just 2 wins in their past 11 games. They are tied, though, with Leafs in points (32) with a game in hand. They waived back-up goaltender Keith Kinkaid and he cleared through waivers. He will now play with Montreal’s AHL team, the Laval Rocket. Goaltending prospect Cayden Primeau (7th round draft selection from 2017 and former NHL player Keith Primeau’s son) was called up and started in a game this past week against Colorado, a 3-2 loss where Primeau made 32 saves.
- The overall goal this season in Montreal is still getting into the post-season since they’ve missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Some of the positives in Montreal have been the play of forward Tomas Tatar, he leads the team in points with 25 points in 30 games. Captain Shea Weber has also had a strong season with 23 points after 30 games on 9 goals while averaging 24 minutes/game. Max Domi has seen his offensive production drop off after a 72 point season last season, he’s on pace for a 49 point campaign. Domi is a RFA this summer and needs a new contract. Additionally, Carey Price has apparently looked better in recent games but not having one of his better starts to the season, a .889 SV% and a 3.04 GAA. The team needs him to be their top player for them to have a chance at the post-season.
- The Lightning have been unable to find consistency in their game after a 128 point regular season last year and running away with the Presidents trophy. The team had 47 points and 23 wins this time last season and has 31 points on 14 wins this season. The Lighting are not scoring like they were last season with approx 20 less goals after 27 games season over season. Hart trophy winning forward Kucherov is on pace for 97 points whereas last season he recorded 131. Stamkos is on pace for 30 goals – he had 45 last season.
- Head coach Jon Cooper has to try and right the ship before too much more time passes. I heard where Sportsnet Elliotte Friedman said how with them running away with the Presidents trophy last season, basically the players don’t see the value of regular season as much now as they went out in 4 straight games in last years post season. The coaches have a challenge to try and get them back to near the top of the league. The ‘Bolts are currently sitting out of the post season by 6 points- a lot more was expected.
- Former Leafs and Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan announced his retirement from the NHL. Stajan played 445 games in a Leafs uniform, from 2003 – 2009, and 558 games in a Calgary Flames uniform. Overall, in 1003 career NHL games played, Stajan scored 146 goals and added 267 assists for 413 points. Last season, Stajan played 52 games in the German league. Stajan now makes Calgary his home but I heard him recently interviewed and he said open to career opportunities in the hockey world which could involve a move to a new city.
- Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu recently played in his 1,000th career game – all as a Wild player. He’s the first Wild player to play 1,000 games as a Minnesota Wild player. Koivu, 36, has recorded 700 points (203 G & 497 A) in the 1,000 games. He was a 6th overall draft pick back in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Koivu is UFA at season’s end; no indication if he plans to continue this career next season but at $5.5 M for this season, he’d be looking at a considerable cut in pay. He’s on pace for 35 points this season on a projected 6 goals.
- Flyers first rounder, 2nd overall in 2017, center Nolan Patrick is still unable to play due to a migraine disorder. Patrick has yet to play a game this season. The good news is Patrick has started skating but he’s not participating in team practices. The team has said there is no timetable for Patrick’s return to the line-up.
- Boston signed pending UFA forward Charlie Coyle to a 6 year deal at an average annual rate of $5.25 M /season. Since being acquired by the Bruins from Minnesota last season, Coyle has recorded 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 49 games.
- The Bruins also signed forward Chris Wagner to a 3 year deal at an average annual rate of $1.35 M /season. Wagner was to be a UFA at the end of the current season. In 103 games as a Bruin, Wagner has recorded 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points.
- Canucks forward Micheal Ferland is expected back in the line-up this week after missing the past 17 games with a concussion after a October 31st fight with LA Kings forward Kyle Clifford. Ferland had one goal and four assists in 12 games before the injury. He said recently he is going to be a lot more selective about getting into fights as he’s had numerous concussions already in his career. Signed as a July 1, 2019 UFA, Ferland is the first season of a 4 year contract that pays him $3.5 M /season. He’s was 40 point player in each of his past two seasons.
- Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has not had a strong start in Miami after signing a 7 year contract at $10 M /season on July 1, 2019. Bobrovsky currently has a .893 save percentage and a 3.24 GAA. I would guess it’s been an adjustment moving to a new city and with a new team. The Panthers have used rookie / AHL goaltender Chris Driedger in their recent two games.
- The Vancouver Canucks added former player Alex Burrows to their Ring of Honour this past week. Burrows signed as a undrafted free agent by the Canucks and recorded 193 goals and 384 points in 822 games in Vancouver. He is 7th in games played with Canucks organization. Burrows joins Kirk McLean, Orland Kurtenbach, Mattias Ohlund, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts and the late Pat Quinn in the Canucks Ring of Honour.
- LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk has not played since Nov. 9 and there is no indication he’s returning to the line-up soon. The Kings are not really saying what the issue is but head coach Todd McLellan said it’s not about Kovalchuk as a person or player and his work ethic in practices has been good. It’s a bit of a mystery why the Kings are not playing him. He does attend games and travels with the team on the road. McLellan recently said it’s been a tough situation.
- Vegas acquired center Chandler Stephenson from the Capitals for a 2021 5th round draft pick and he steps into a 4th line center spot for the Golden Knights. In 26 games this season, Stephenson has recorded 4 goals and 1 assist.
- Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog returned to the Avs line-up after missing 16 games with a lower body injury. The Avs did not disclose much about the injury just saying surgery was not required. Landeskog is a first line forward for Colorado and plays with Rantanen and MacKinnon.
- Flames forward Sean Monahan (6th overall in 2013) played in his 500th career game recently as did Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (5th overall in 2012).
- Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Statsny reached the 700 point mark recently. Paul is former NHL star Peter Statsny’s son and Peter and Paul are the 3rd father and son duo to have both reached the 700 point milestone. The others include Gordie and Mark Howe and Bobby and Brett Hull.
- Flyers center Sean Couturier became the youngest Flyer to reach the 600 game milestone. Couturier has again had a strong start for the Flyers with 22 points in 30 Flyers games this season.
- ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane reached the 600 assist milestone recently. He’s played in 930 NHL games. With 3 Cups and over a point a game in a 900+ games career, Kane is a surefire Hall of Fame player.
- Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury became the 7th goaltender all-time to reach the 450 win mark. The only other active goaltender with at least 450 wins is Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who has 456 career wins. Fleury recently missed a week as he was back in Quebec after the death of his father. He is back with the team since Saturday but has yet to appear in a game.
- Evgeni Malkin is one goal away from 400 for his career. Malkin will become the 99th player all-time to reach the 400 goal milestone.
- Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy became the franchise leader wins with 132. Vasilevskiy is just 25 years old and in the first season of an 8 year deal with Tampa so should set more Lightning records in time.
Alexis LaFreniere Derby aka first overall draft pick in June 2020
- Detroit is 4-20-3 since October 12 and have lost 11 straight. They are in the basement of the league with 17 points in 31 games. Knowledgeable hockey people were expecting it to be a rebuilding year but I don’t think anyone expected they’d be this bad.
- LA is now 2-12-1 on the road and just opened a stretch of eight of nine games away from Staples Center. The last game they won on the road since October 22, 6 weeks ago. Even the Red Wings have one more road with 3.
World Juniors 2020 in Czech – Dec 26 – Jan. 5, 2020
- Team Canada for the 2020 World Juniors is holding a selection camp from Monday, December 9 through to Thursday, December 12 in Oakville, Ontario at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex. Thirty one Canadian players have been invited to the selection camp.
- London Knights head coach Dale Hunter is the head coach of Team Canada and his brother Mark is GM.
- Some of the supposed locks to make the team at forward include of course LaFreniere, Red Wings Joe Veleno (1st round 30th overall in 2018) who is playing with the Red Wings AHL team in Grand Rapids (9 points in 25 games), Dylan Cozens (7th overall in 2019 to the Sabres) who is playing with Lethbridge of the WHL and has 46 points on 20 goals in 30 games this season. Ty Dellandrea, 13th overall in 2018 to Dallas, who has 33 points in 26 games in the OHL. Adam Foote’s kid Nolan who plays for the WHL Kelowna Rockets and has 33 points in 26 games. Another name at forward is Blue Jackets first rounder from 2018 Liam Foudy, 26 points in 19 games in the OHL this season. Forward Quinton Byfield in draft eligible in June 2020, has 55 points in 29 games for the OHL Sudbury Wolves. Connor McMichael, 25th overall in 2019 to Washington, has 57 points in 26 games for the OHL London Knights.
- On defense New Jersey Devils first rounder Ty Smith looks to be a lock to make the team. He’s playing with Spokane of the WHL where he has 17 points in 21 games. Colorado first rounder, 4th overall 2019, Bowen Byram is expected to make the team. Jacob Bernard-Docker a late cut from Team Canada last season looks to be in a good position to make the team this year. He has recorded 14 points in 17 games at U of North Dakota. Calen Addison 29 points in 31 WHL games looks to be on the team on defense for the Canadians.
- In goal, Edmonton 2nd rounder from 2019 Olivier Rodrigue looks to the possible starter. Rodrigue plays for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL where he has 15-6 record with a 2.79 GAA and a .903 SV%.
- Flames 2019 first round pick Jakob Pelletier was invited but seems to be a long shot to make the team. Pelletier is captain of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats and has 49 points (18 goals) in 26 Wildcats games this season.
Odds & Ends
- The Flames get a 3rd round draft pick in the 2020 entry draft from Edmonton if Oilers forward James Neal reaches 20 goals this season. Neal has 14 goals already after 31 Oilers games.
- Devils forward Taylor Hall has now had 8 different head coaches in his 10 year NHL career.
- Two of the top three rookie points leaders are defenseman. Avs Cale Makar first with 28 points & Quinn Hughes third with 23 points (Sabres forward Victor Olofsson has 26 points for 2nd place). There has not been two defenseman finish top two in rookie scoring since the dawn of the NHL’s Original Six teams.
- Hurricanes forward Erik Haula has been missing time recently with the same knee injury that cost him most of last season. Sounds like it could be a while before Haula is able to return to game action.
- The Oilers are the only team to have a top 5 PP and a top 5 PK. The team is first the league on the PP at 32.2% and 2nd on the PK at 86.6%.
- Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton is 0-5-4 in his past 9 games and has allowed 5 or more goals in 4 of his past 6 starts. Seem he’s lost his confidence, hopefully for him he can turn it around but the Sabres have been using Swede Linus Ullmark as their number one.
- Former NHL goaltender Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play in the NHL – in a Lightning pre-season game, is being honored with a statue in Quebec City at Videotron Centre. It will be a life-size bronze statue that will be in place by the end of September 2020. Rheaume won a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics for Canada.
- 2019 NHL Global Series – the Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-2) and Buffalo Sabres (9-5-2) played two sold-out (14,000 fans/ game) matches in Stockholm, Sweden last week. The Lightning won both games, 3-2 on Friday, Nov. 8th and 5-3 on Saturday, November 9th. It was the third straight season – and 8th overall – that the NHL has played a game in Europe. NHL Commissioner Bettman was at both games and announced that Boston Bruins & Nashville Predators will open the 2020-21 regular season with a game in Prague. Additionally, Columbus and Colorado will play two games in Helsinki, Finland in either October or November. The league seems to be focusing on Sweden, Czech Republic and Finland for their games for the Global Series as these countries have a tradition of hockey and it’s where many NHL star players are from. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said it was a “dream come true” to play in his home country last week. Hedman was the only Swede on the Lightning roster but the Sabres have 8 Swedes on their roster including number one overall draft pick from 2018 & last season’s Calder trophy winner Rasmus Dahlin. Some see the Europe experiment as a win win as many players are from there and enjoy going back with their NHL teams & the fans are turning out for the games. The NHL has talked a bit about the possibly of one day having a European league but there’s been no sign this is in the near term. The NFL has also been having regular season games in Europe with success.
- With the NHL’s deal with NBC TV expiring at the end of next season, a lot of people are looking at what the NHL’s TV rights deal could look like. NBC apparently wants to continue to have the USA national TV rights deal but there are other companies interested as well. ESPN, for example, have said they are interested in doing a USA TV deal with the league. The NHL is also looking at online streaming deals as that has become a lot more popular. Amazon is one company that has expressed interest in doing an NHL games online streaming deal.
- TSN reported recently that there haven’t been any face-to-face meetings between the NHL and NHLPA in the month of October but the two sides have been meeting by phone. The sense is talks continue in a positive manner. The two sides have an CBA agreement in place until the end of the 2021-22 season but are continuing to discuss extending it further.
- There is a NHL General Managers meeting Tuesday, November 19th in Toronto. The GM will reconvene again in March 2020. One topic that is believed to be on the agenda for these meetings is video review for off-side after a goal is scored. The NHL believes approximately 50-60 goals / season are called back from the video review of off-side plays and the GM’s are going to discuss basically is that the end result they want. There less goals and the fans seem to enjoy that part of the game the most.
- The Heritage Classic game in Regina on October 26 was a success. A sold out crowd of 33,518 fans took in the game that saw the Jets defeat the Flames 2-1 in overtime. There have now been 28 NHL outdoor games with 1,492,877 fans attending, an average of 53,317 fans / game.
- The Seattle franchise is expected to announce their team name around the January 26th NHL All-Star game which is in St. Louis. Some of the names registered by the OakView Group include Rainers, Kraken, Evergreens, Seals, Emeralds, Sea Lions, Sockeyes, Whales, Eagles, Totems, Cougars, Firebirds and Renegades.
- Alexandra Mandrycky has a new title, Director of Hockey Strategy & Research. She also signed a new contract with the Seattle team.
- Seattle hired a quantitative analyst named Daniel Chu in their hockey ops group. He starts in January 2020. Chu is a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University with a Masters degree in Statistics.
- The Arizona Coyotes signed their GM John Chayka to a long term contract extension. Terms of the deal were not made public but Chayka, 30, had a year and a half left on his existing contract. Chayka was hired by Arizona back in 2016 when he was just 26 years old. The Coyotes missed the post season by four points last season and have a 9-6-2 record after 17 games this season. Experts say with new owner Alex Meruelo plus steady progression of good results on the ice, the organization wanted stability in their key management people.
- Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, became the first Islanders head coach to earn his 60th win prior to his 100th game with the franchise. He’s 60-30-8 in his first 100 Islanders games coached.
- Former Leafs player Doug Gilmour has left the Kingston Frontenacs organization to take a position as community representative/team ambassador for the Leafs. Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Curtis Joseph and Darcy Tucker currently hold the same position of community rep/ambassador with the Leafs. Gilmour held positions such as head coach, GM and team president of the Frontenacs.
- Golden Knights VP of Entertainment Jonny Greco is leaving Vegas to work for Madison Square Garden. The Vegas pre-game show is regarded as tops in the league and set a new standard for NHL pre-game entertainment.
- LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch in Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota. On the season, he has 3 goals and and 8 assists for 9 points with a -10 plus/minus. Further, Kovalchuk was reportedly told he will not be playing in Kings games for the foreseeable future though he is welcome to practice with the team. New Kings head coach Todd McLellan has a challenge on his hands to turn the Kings back into a winning team. Their record after 18 games played is 6-11-1, tied with Ottawa for last in the league.
- With LA in a re-tooling / rebuilding phase defenseman Alex Martinez plus forward Tyler Toffoli are rumored to be available. I heard they plan to keep captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty, and GM Rob Blake keeps them apprised of the rebuilding plans, but no other player is unavailable. Cal Petersen is the goalie of the future and they need to move veteran Jonathan Quick but it’s not going to be easy to do so (could be a buy out candidate). Quick has 3 more seasons after this one at a cap number of $5.8 M. Forwards Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford are both UFA’s this summer and not expected back. Toffoli has been a healthy scratch a few games this season. He has 4 goals and 4 assists in 16 games played.
- Penguins star Sidney Crosby reportedly has a sports hernia injury and is considering surgery. He has had the problem since training camp but is said to now be considering the surgery option which could mean he’d miss 4-6 weeks.
- Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien – this has turned into a complex situation with Byfuglien saying when he injured his ankle last season, there were still problems with it that he did not tell Jets management about and he went and got surgery on it this summer without consulting the Jets. Experts believe the NHLPA may file a grievance on the players behalf as he is owed $8 M this season and $6 M next. He is currently suspended without pay. It’s not clear if the player wants to return to the NHL but he said to need two – three more months to get his ankle back fully functioning. It’s not really clear why the player did not tell the team about the fact he was still having problems with the ankle and the Jets are in a bit of limbo regarding the salary cap as they don’t really know how much cap dollars to allocate to the Byfuglien situation. Some speculate if the player were to try and return to play in the NHL it may not be with the Jets organization.
- Apparently the agent for Taylor Hall (same agent that represents Leafs Mitch Marner) has been in discussions with the Devils and GM Ray Shero about a new contract for Hall. The player is a UFA after this season. Hall is in a strong position as there is really no urgency to him to sign until he’s happy, there are other NHL teams that would covet the player as a July 1, 2020 UFA. Hall reportedly does enjoy playing in New Jersey but also wants to win. He’s played in just 5 post-season games in his career so he wants to see signs that New Jersey has a chance to be a top level team in the near future.
- Montreal has reportedly started contract discussions with defenseman Victor Mete (3 G & 3 A in 18 games played). Mete is in the final year of his entry level deal. No word on term or dollars being discussed. Mete averages 17 1/2 minutes / game of ice time.
- Oilers first rounder Jesse Puljujarvi said the other day he’s happy to spend this season playing in Finland. Puljujarvi has recorded 11 goals and 20 points in 18 games in Finland this season where the game is played on the international size ice surface. One team that expressed interest in acquiring the player indicated they want him playing on an NHL ice surface before going further in trade talks. Doesn’t seem as though that’s the way it’s going to play out as the player will only return to North America is he’s traded from Edmonton. Seems Oilers GM Ken Holland is OK with the player putting up points in Finland as it’s increasing his market value.
- Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook has been a healthy scratch recently. Seabrook, 34, has 4 more years at $6.875 M/ season left on his contract. He is seen as probably untradeable. Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson in Vancouver is in a similar situation, two more years after this season at $6 M and can’t get into Vancouver’s line-up. With the Dallas Stars, captain Jamie Benn is in head coach Montgomery’s doghouse and has one goal plus 5 assists in 18 games played. He’s making $9.5 M for this season and for 5 more season after this one.
- Senators veteran forward Bobby Ryan, the Sens highest paid player, has been a healthy scratch recently. Ryan has one goal and three assists in 13 games played this season. Ryan is under contract for this season and two more at $7.25 M /per.
- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was a healthy scratch a few times already this season. It was the first time in his 13 year NHL career he has been a healthy scratch. He recently suffered an ankle infection injury. Staal has one more season remaining on his contract after this season at a cap number of $5.7 M.
- St. Louis traded former first rounder Robby Fabbri to the Red Wings for defenseman Jacob De La Rose. Apparently, Fabbri’s agent talked to Blues GM Doug Armstrong and asked if the player could be moved if he was not going to see regular ice time with the Blues. Fabbri was a highly rated prospect for the Blues but torn the ACL in his right knee in consecutive seasons. Fabbri’s scored 2 goals and added 2 assists in his first 3 games with the Red Wings. Fabbri is a former 1st round draft pick (2014) who has really struggled staying healthy.
- The Sabres are reportedly looking for a top nine forward as Vladimir Sobotka was injured and it could be a longer term injury. The Sabres started the season with an 8-1-1 record but have lost 5 straight since.
- The Penguins traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to Anaheim for F Andreas Martinsen and a seventh-round pick in 2021. NHL experts saw this as the Pens wanting to move Gudbranson’s $4 M salary for this season and next. Anaheim needed a defenseman as Josh Manson is sidelined for 7-10 weeks with an MCL sprain.
- Winnipeg claimed defenseman Luca Sbisa off waivers from the NY Islanders. Sbisa is reportedly playing in well in Winnipeg. He’s played in 7 games with an average of 16 mins / game of ice time.
- The Islanders are 12-3-1 on the season and have not lost in regulation since Oct 11. They’ve allowed just 22 goals in their 12 wins. New York’s next game is Wednesday at Nassau against the Leafs.
- The Oilers have the forth most points in the league with 26 points after 20 games. Only St. Louis, Washington & Boston have more points than Edmonton. Captain Connor McDavid recently recorded his 400th career point. Only Gretzky, Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Crosby, Bryan Trottier, Steve Yzerman and Pierre Turgeon recorded more points before turning 23 than McDavid. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl leads the league in points with 36 points in 20 games. Draisaitl has an active 10 game point streak going. I saw both players interviewed before the season started and McDavid said one his goals is to work towards being regarded one of the top players all-time and Draisaitl said his goal was to be considered among the elite players in the game with Crosby, McDavid, Kucherov.
- The Washington Capitals (13-2-4) posted a point streak of at least 12 games (10-0-2) for the first time since a 14-game run from Dec. 29, 2016 to Jan. 23, 2017 (12-0-2). Second year head coach Todd Reirdon does not get a lot of credit as a good NHL head coach.
- St. Louis have won 7 straight games and are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, plus have 5 straight wins on the road. Overall, the Blues are 12-3-3 on the season.
- The Philadelphia Flyers have won four straight games and they’ve won five of their past six games (5-0-1). A lot of people are crediting new head coach Alain Vigneault for their success so far. A few of their young players are quietly moving to the forefront; players such as Travis Konecny (age 22 and 19 points in 17 games this season), first rounder Joel Farabee (19) and Carter Hart (21). Swede Oskar Lindblom (23) is tied with Konecny for the most goals on the team (8).
- Nashville signed pending UFA defenseman Roman Josi to a max 8 year deal at a cap number of $9.059 M /season. The deal starts next season when the player will be 30 years old and includes a full no move clause for all 8 seasons. Some people believe the 8 year deals for 30 year old players will not be as prevalent as in a faster and younger league $8 – $9 M per season for 33 and 34 year old players are showing to hamstring (salary cap) teams.
- Some speculate the Josi signing should get the market for pending UFA St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Apparently the players agent did meet with Blues GM Doug Armstrong but that was back a month ago and there has been no dialogue since.
- The Predators also signed forward Austin Watson to a 3 year, $4.5 M contract.
- The defending Cup champs, St. Louis, signed forwards Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn to 10 day PTO’s. Brouwer went to the Florida Panthers training camp on a PTO but was cut. Brouwer recorded 12 goals and 9 assists in 75 games for the Panthers last season. McGinn appeared in 2 games for Carolina’s AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers before being released. McGinn, 31, played last season also with the Panthers where he recorded 4 goals and 7 points in 19 games before being sent to the AHL.
- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played in his 1,500 NHL game last week. He’s is the 21st player all-time to play in as many games and 6th defenseman.
- St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester recently played in his 1200 NHL game. He is the 111th player all-time to play as many NHL games. Bouwmeester is only the 5th active player with 1200 games played (Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Zdeno Chara are the others). Bouwmeester said as he gotten older he appreciates the milestones more.
- Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf recently played in his 1,000 career game- all with the Ducks. He is first player in franchise history reach the 1000 Ducks games played milestone.
- Canadiens head coach Claude Julien coached in his 1,200 game last week. He is 19th all-time in NHL games coached.
- Leafs head coach Mike Babcock reached the 700 win mark last week. Only 7 other head coaches all-time have as many wins as Babcock and, of active coaches, he has the 4th most wins (Coach Q has 898, Trotz has 822 and Paul Maurice has 705). Babcock said of his success he’s tried to adapt and re-invent himself ever year as things are changing fast (even in his line of work!). Some of the players said he brings professionalism and energy, always trying to be positive and has top level habits plus he sticks to a daily routine. Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie said Babcock really is clear with what he is expecting and wants the players to do things a certain way.
- Chicago defenseman and first rounder (8th overall in 2018), Adam Boqvist, recorded his first NHL goal last week against Anaheim. He is a big part of the future of the ‘Hawks defense group.
- Vegas forward Max Pacioretty recently reached the 500 point milestone. He has an impressive 250 goals and 250 assists in his career (626 games played). Pacioretty has had a solid NHL career and is still just 30 years old.
- Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is just the fifth player of Russian nationality in NHL history to appear in at least 1,100 career regular-season games (also Alex Kovalev, Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov). Of the 190 players in NHL history to reach 1,100 games, only two scored more than Ovechkin’s 669 goals in their first 1,100 games: Wayne Gretzky (793) and Brett Hull (679)
- Leading Norris trophy candidate John Carlson played in his 700th career game last week. He’s recorded 432 points or .61 PPG. Carlson set a frachise record for points in a month for a defenseman with 23 points in the recent month of October and the second most for a defenseman in NHL history.
- Canadiens captain Shea Weber recored his 100th career PP goal on the weekend, He’s the only active defenseman with as many career PP goals. Weber off to a strong offensive start this season with 14 points, 5 goals, after the Habs first 18 games this season. Weber has as many goals as PK Subban has points (5).
- LA captain Anze Kopitar recently reached the 900 point milestone (317 goals & 587 assists). Kopitar also has his name on the Stanley Cup twice.
- St. Louis Blues forward David Perron already has 3 OT goals after only 18 Blues games played this season. Perron is the first player to record as many OT goals prior to his teams 20th game of the season.
- Sharks forward Patrick Marleau recently played in his 800th consecutive regular season game becoming just the 6th player all-time, and only the second active player, to achieve that. He hasn’t missed a regular season game since the 2008-09 season.
- The Leafs play at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island on Wednesday and overall play 12 of their next 15 games on the road. Forward Zach Hyman is expected to return for the game which is very positive as he bring a lot- hard work, character player who is physical and battles as hard any anyone for loose pucks. Babcock says Hyman is his the team’s best forechecker. Hyman has been rehabbing the knee for seven months after a knee ACL tear & surgery so it will take him a bit to get back his timing and game conditioning.
- Forward Mitch Marner was placed on long term injury reserve which means he misses at least 10 games or 24 days. Marner has not missed a game since he was an NHL rookie. The team has said it’s at least a 4 week injury (high ankle sprain). They are definitely going to miss him he is averaging a point a game and the most used forward used on the team’s PK. Marner also leads the team in PP points with 7. Andreas Johnsson, Kapanen and Ilya Mikheyev will have a chance to play more in Marner’s absence.
- Auston Matthews recorded 10 goals in October for the second straight season. Matthews is 7th overall in the league in points with 13 G & 12 A for 25 points. He looks even better this season that last and when he’s really motivated he’s hard to contain.
- The Tavares line (Hyman-Tavares-Marner) has yet to play a shift together this season. We will probably see Tavares with Kapanen & Hyman tomorrow. Some of the other lines look like Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander, Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Moore & Petan-Shore-Gauthier. No indication what the team plans are for Jason Spezza.
- The team seem be playing from behind a lot having given up the first goal of the game in 14 of their 19 games (73.7%) this season.
- The team has 14 back to back games this season (five between now and the end of December) having already played 5 and have picked up just a single point. Hutchinson had a 0-4 record with a 4.44 GAA and a .879 SV% and of course was placed on waivers and cleared through the league. He was sent to the Marlies on Tuesday. Marlies starter Kasimir Kaskisuo takes over as the Leafs back-up. In 8 games with the Marlies this season, Kaskisuo has a 6-1-1 record with a .928 SV% and a 2.13 GAA. His numbers are good but the NHL is a lot tougher league to have consistent success in. People are expecting Kaskisuo starts on the second night of the Leafs next back to back which is Saturday in Pittsburgh.
- The Leafs have taken the 3rd most minor penalties in the league at an average of 3.85 / game. Auston Matthews said the other day all the minor penalties take the team out of their regular rhythm of rolling 4 lines.
- William Nylander has 6 points in his last 4 games after being benched in a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Babcock says his battle level has increased resulting in having the puck more and he’s getting more shots on net plus looking a lot more confident on the ice.
- The team is on pace for 95 points; last season they finished with 100 and in 2017-18 they had 105. Seems what St. Louis and Colorado showed it matters more who is playing well in mid March and into April.
- After Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum, the team plays:
- at home vs the Bruins on Friday
- in Pittsburgh on Saturday
- in Vegas on Tuesday
- in Arizona on Thursday
- in Colorado on Saturday
- With the Leafs prospects, Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin has recorded 9 points in 8 games while playing on the Marlies top d pairing.
- Peterborough Petes forward and Leafs second rounder (2019) Nick Robertson has recorded 28 points in 19 games this season on 19 goals. With a 68 game OHL regular season, Robertson is on pace for an incredible 68 goals. Petes teammate Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, a Leafs 3rd rounder from 2017 has 27 points on 4 goals in 17 games played.
Awards & Hockey Hall of Fame
- Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson was named Rookie of the Month for October. He recorded 6 goals, all on the PP, and 4 assists for 10 points in 13 games played. Seems the early race for NHL Calder Trophy is between three young defenseman, Avalanche Cale Makar, Canucks Quinn Hughes and Oilers Ethan Bear. Makar has an incredible 17 points in 17 regular season NHL games played while averaging 19 minutes of ice time per game. Bear leads all rookies with 21 minutes of ice time / game. If I had to bet, I would predict Cale Makar for Calder this season.
- The Dallas Stars announced that they will retire former Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov’s #56 jersey in a ceremony next season. Zubov leads the Stars franchise in goals, assists, points, power play points for a defenseman. He is entering the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 18th. Zubov joins former Stars players Neal Broten (#7), Bill Goldsworthy (#8), Mike Modano (#9), Bill Masterton (#19) and Jere Lehtinen (#26) in having their number retired by Dallas.
- Along with Zubov, Guy Carbonneau, Pens GM Jim Rutherford, Hayley Wickenheiser, Russian Vlad Nedomansky, Builder Jerry York also enter this Hockey Hall of Fame on November 18th,
- TSN reported Tuesday night that Team Canada’s GM for the Spengler Cup, Sean Burke, has asked Wayne Gretzky if he’d consider coaching Canada at the tournament that runs from Thursday, December 26, 2019 to Tuesday, December 31 in Switzerland. Gretzky apparently said he needs a few days to check if can make it work with his busy schedule and will get back to Burke. Would be awesome to see him behind Team Canada’s bench for the tourny.
- The IIHF World Juniors is in the Czech Republic this year, tournament starts December 26, 2019 and some rumblings are starting so percolate around that event with respect to Team Canada. Center Barrett Hayden (5th overall to Arizona in 2018) is currently with the Coyotes and it’s not clear if he will be made available. Hayden represented Canada last year when the Canadians finished 6th in the tournament, Blackhawks rookie Kirby Dach (3rd overall 2019 to CHI) is playing with the Blackhawks so, similar to Hayden, he may or not be made available by his NHL team but Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Velano (30th overall in 2018) is expected to be made available. Velano is a 19 year old center from Quebec who is playing with the Red Wings AHL team.
- CBA negotiations – the league and NHLPA have a 10 year CBA agreement in place that was signed in January 2013 but both sides have a September 2019 opt out clause. The NHL could of opted out on September 1 and the NHLPA’s deadline for opting out is September 15th. At the end of August (2019), the NHL said they would not be opting out and now the it’s up to the players to decide by the 15th of September if they want to. If they choose to, the current CBA will expire September 15, 2020. The two sides are meeting New York City on Monday, September 9th to continue negotiations. From all indications, the players major gripe is the escrow and, secondarily, the players generally want to play in Winter Olympics but the owners don’t want to close the league mid-season. There was some mention of the NHLPA possibly asking for an extension to the September 15th opt out deadline but nothing official has been announced.
- The league’s plan to roll out player and puck tracking has been delayed until the 2019-20 post season. The league had an agreement with a company called Jogmo for the technology but have since dropped them and have signed a company called SMT who are based of out North Carolina. The whole area of data collection in NHL games ties into the league’s plans to offer gambling on games in the future. Article about the change of technology partners is here.
- Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has signed over ownership of the Bruins to his 6 children. Jacobs is one of the more influential owners in the league; he’s owned the Bruins for the past 44 years having bought the team back in 1975 for $10 M. Jacobs recently turned 80 years old. The plan is for the Jacobs family to continue to own the Bruins.
- New Jersey – Tom Fitzgerald was promoted to Executive Vice President & AGM and Dan MacKinnon was promoted to Senior Vice President & AGM. Fitzgerald acts as General Manager of the Devils AHLteam – the Binghamton Devils – plus he’s involved in contract negotiations, player transactions and working with the Devils development staff. MacKinnon, for the past 3 years, was Senior Director of Player Personnel but will now take over all aspects of the Devils scouting. MacKinnon will be key in the Devils entry draft preparation plus he’s going to oversee the Devils analytics efforts.
- Seattle – The Seattle team announced they’ve hired Ricky Olczyk as Assistant General Manger to GM Ron Francis. Olczyk, 49, was a Carolina Hurricanes AGM under Francis for 4 years. Olczyk will be responsible for the team’s salary cap which includes deciding who to draft in the June 2021 expansion draft. Olczyk is also apparently an expert on the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Olczyk has a law degree from Cornell University and has done legal work for the NHLPA. He started his career working in law firms in Chicago and Phoenix. He also worked as an AGM for seven seasons with the Edmonton Oilers (6 of those as AGM). Last season he was employed by the Leafs as a pro scout. His brother is former NHL’er, now broadcaster, Eddie Olczyk .
- With the Red Wings, recently retired defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been hired an an adviser to GM Steve Yzerman.
- The San Jose Sharks hired former LA Dodgers (MLB) GM Ned Colletti as a pro scout. Colletti grew up in Chicago and is an avid Blackhawks fan having been to many ‘Hawks games. He will evaluate hockey talent at both the NHL and AHL levels. Colletti, 65, spent 40 years working in team management of major league baseball.
- There is still not much change on the unsigned star RFA’s – Marner, Laine, Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk, Brayden Point, etc. Some say when one signs that will set the market for the others but that hasn’t really materialized. Sebastian Aho signed for 5 years at $8.45 M / season and Sharks forward Timo Meier signed for 4 years @ $6 M /season, but other RFA’s haven’t followed suit. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas talked last week about how they are still trying to reach an agreement with Mitch Marner and the organization currently has no intention of looking to trade the player. Marner’s side has been quiet. The Flames Matthew Tkachuk is reportedly seeking $8 M /season on a new deal. The player’s agent and Flames GM Brad Treliving have been negotiating since June. Some say term is a sticking point with some of the RFA’s, they want 4 or 5 year deals where they reach UFA status free to sign with any team. Based on lack of progress so far, seems to me these young RFA’s are going to miss regular season games.
- Oilers captain Connor McDavid is still recovering from his knee injury suffered in the team’s final regular season game of last season. He’s apparently spent a lot of the summer getting the knee back into top form. It’s not certain McDavid will be a full participant when the Oilers start on ice work for training camp on Fri. Sept. 13.
- Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said recently his groin injury that hampered him most of last season is 100%. With the surgery procedure he had on the injury this off-season, Karlsson said he does not expect the same injury to be an issue again. Karlsson is entering season one of his 8 year contract at $11.5 M /season.
- Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom is one year from UFA and would like to sign an extension with the Canucks. GM Jim Benning indicated they’ll see how the season goes and talk to Markstrom’s agent but it’s not a top priority right now.
- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara may not be ready for the start of this season on October 3rd as his broken jaw suffered in last season’s Cup final is still healing.
- San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson recently said Patrick Marleau will not return to the Sharks. The team wants to get a bit younger overall. Marleau is a UFA but has yet to sign with a team. His preference is to be close to his San Jose home as he has four young children. Arizona was one team I heard had interested in Marleau.
- Senators young defenseman Thomas Chabot is in negotiations with the team on a long term deal. Chabot, 22, has just two years of NHL experience but has an amazing 80 points in 134 games. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.
- The Winnipeg Jets have started long term contract discussions with defenseman Josh Morrissey. He recorded 31 points in 59 games in 2018-19 season (was dealing with some injuries during the season and missed games) while averaging over 22 mins/game. With Tyler Myers leaving as a UFA to Vancouver, Jacob Trouba being moved to the New York Rangers and Dustin Byfuglien at age 34, the 24 year old Morrissey is expected to become a key defenseman for the Jets. Morrissey was a first round pick of the Jets, 13th overall, in 2013.
- Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi is hoping to sign a new deal with the Preds. Josi is one season from UFA. Josi’s agent and the Predators have started initial discussions on a new deal. Josi signed a 7 year deal, $28 M contract with the Predators back before the 2013-14 season. He will get a significant raise from the $4 M /season he currently makes.
- Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is one year from UFA and there have been no talks about a new deal with the Bruins. Krug said recently his hope is to remain a Bruin and recently said he is willing to take less financially to re-sign in Boston. Krug is an underrated player; he recorded 53 points in 64 regular season games in the 2018-19 season plus 16 points in 24 Bruins post-season games. The Bruins are dealing with numerous contract discussions currently including with their head coach, Bruce Cassidy (in the final year of his deal), plus two RFA defenseman, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
- Former Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov is wanting to resume his NHL playing career. Markov, 40, has spent the past 2 seasons in the KHL. This past season he recorded 2 goals and 14 points for Kazan (KHL). Markov’s agent, Allan Walsh, said his client’s preference is to return to Montreal but Canadians GM Marc Bergevin said Sunday, the player does not fit into their plans adding they’ve started to build a young team in Montreal. Markov is 10 games from the 1,000 games milestone (all played with Montreal).
- Former Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner signed a 4 year deal with Carolina at $4.05 M /season. Gardiner has recently been working out in Vail, Colorado with fellow NHL players (the players like training at the high altitude in Colorado to get their conditioning in top shape). Gardiner recently said he’s 100% healthy. He was hoping to sign a long term, high priced contract in July 1, as a UFA, but it did not materialize. He says he believes he back injuries, his age (29) plus a lot of teams are up against the cap – and the cap did not go up as much as people thought it would – were factors in the offers he received.
- Phoenix signed 21 year old forward Clayton Keller to an 8 year contract at an AAV of $7.15 M. Keller was to be an RFA after the 2019-20 season. Keller has recorded 114 points in 167 games (.68 PPG) over two NHL seasons. He was drafted by the Coyotes 7th overall in the 2016 entry draft. The contract seems to a bit of a gamble but the Coyotes could be betting on Keller getting more points with Kessel on his wing and if they waited until after the 2019-20, the deal could of cost them more. I heard where Coyotes GM John Chayka said they expect with the new USA TV being negotiated in 2 years, they expect the cap to go up. Canucks unsigned RFA Brock Boeser is seeking $7 M / season on a new deal and he has recorded 116 points in 140 games (.82 PPG).
- The Oilers signed UFA forward Riley Sheahan to a one year deal at $900,000. Sheahan, 27, has played 447 NHL games recording 58 goals and 91 assists for 149 points. New Oilers GM Ken Holland drafted Sheahan when Holland was Red Wings GM and Sheahan played with the Wings for 5 years. Sheahan could be the Oilers 3rd line center behind McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sheahan is strong on the PK.
- The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Jack Campbell to a two year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $1.65 M. Campbell was one year from UFA status.
- Winnipeg signed goaltender Eric Comrie to a two year deal with $700,000 K / year. The first year is two way and the second year is one way.
- The Chicago Blackhawks have signed forward Brendan Perlini to a one year contract at $875,000. He recorded 13 goals and 3 assists in 46 Blackhawks games last season after the trade from Arizona.
- Sharks 40 year old forward Joe Thornton signed a one year deal for $2 M. It will be Thornton’s 22 year in the NHL. He is 22 points from 1,500 for his career. Only 13 players all-time have reached 1,500 career points.
- St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev agreed to a two year deal at $1.475 M /season. Barbashev was an RFA. He recorded 14 goals and 12 assists last season.
- The Canucks signed forward Nikolay Goldobin to a one year deal at $900,00.
- Disgruntled 21 year old Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has signed a one year deal to play in Finland. His deal includes a December 1 opt out clause in the event he is traded from the Oilers.
- Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.1 million: $1.8 million in 2019-20 and $2.4 million in 2020-21. The 22-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, had 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 81 regular-season games last season.
- Former NHL forward Oscar Lindberg has signed in Switzerland. Lindberg was a UFA who apparently didn’t get any NHL interest.
- Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement after 15 NHL seasons. Saw a clip of him interviewed and he said he was very grateful to former Red Wings GM Ken Holland as Holland asked him last season (when Nik was UFA) if he was OK with a trade and Kronwall said he wanted to retire a Red Wing and Holland made it happen. Kronwall said he is proud to have played his entire NHL career with the Red Wings. His family is settled and happy living in the Detroit area.
- Hurricanes captain Justin Williams also announced he will not start the year with the team. He did not officially say retirement and there is a chance he could join the team mid-season. Williams will be missed as he had 23 goals and 53 points as the team’s captain last season. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said recently they are not in a rush to name a new captain.
- Goaltender Cam Ward recently announced his retirement from the NHL. Ward played all but one season of his career with the Carolina Hurricanes where he was drafted 25th overall in 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Ward signed a one day contract with the Hurricanes last week so he could retire a Hurricane. Ward won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe as a member of the 2006 Hurricanes. He is only one of four rookies to win the Conn Smythe in his rookie season (Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy & Ron Hextall the others).
- Former Devils, Penguins, Ducks and Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy announced his retirement from the NHL. Lovejoy played in 544 regular season games plus 76 more in the post season. He won the Cup with the Penguins in 2016.
Ten Day Professional Try Out’s (PTO)
- Landon Ferraro, 28, will attend Vancouver Canucks training camp on a PTO. Ferraro was injured most of last season (knee). He could be a possibly as fill in for Brandon Sutter who is recovering from back (hernia) surgery.
- Los Angeles signed former Flames and Blackhawks forward Lance Bouma to a PTO. Bouma spent last season in the Swiss league.
Odds & Ends
- Kendall Coyne Schofield, American Gold Medal winning women’s hockey player, will join the San Jose Sharks TV broadcast team as a color analyst for select games this season.
- The USA Hockey Hall of Fame announced their inductees for 2019. Included are Commissioner Gary Bettman, former Canadian captain Brian Gionta, Neal Henderson (82 year old coach and co-founder of the Fort Dupont Cannons, the oldest minority hockey club is the USA), former Bruins goaltender and Stanley Cup champion Tim Thomas and Krissy Wendell (hockey player). In induction ceremony is December 12, 2019.
- The QMJHL Rimoski Oceanic are retiring Sidney Crosby’s #87 jersey on September 27th. It’s the team’s home opener and the franchise’s 25 season in the Q. Crosby recorded 303 points in 121 games with the Oceanic.
- The OHL London Knights are retiring Patrick Kane’s #88 jersey even though he played just one season with the team, back in the 2006-07 season. In that season, he recorded 145 points (62 G & 83 A) and was runner up to John Tavares for OHL MVP. The jersey retirement ceremony will take place on January 17, 2020.
- Russian forward Anton Burdasov, 28, is apparently in talks with as many as three NHL teams about signing a contract. He’s spent the past 10 seasons in the KHL. Burdasov is 6’3, 200 pounds and last season in the KHL he recorded 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points in 50 games. He is represented by Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter. The Oilers are apparently one of the teams interested in signing the player. Burdasov is reportedly seeking a one year deal.
- Sabres defenseman Matt Hunwick will miss the entire 2019-20 season due to a neck condition. Hunwick missed half of last season with the injury.
- Seems a lot of veteran players worked on trying to get faster in off-season training. I’ve heard Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovchekin & Flames forward Sean Monahan all say recently that getting faster was a major off-season training goal. Leafs forward Auston Matthews said he focused a lot on flexibility as he does not want to lose time again this season to shoulder-related injuries.
Some news & notes from around the league. Training camps are scheduled to start mid Sept.
- The league is apparently very happy that the City of Calgary finally approved a plan to develop a new arena for the Flames. The deal agreed to is actually between the City of Calgary, Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp (CSEC -the owners of the Flames) and Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Ltd (the group that runs the annual Calgary Stampede). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Calgary numerous times in the past trying to get the City of Calgary to discuss the need for Calgary to have a new arena for the Flames but Calgary’s mayor was not onside on any possible deal involving city funds. The more recent negotiations have been occurring for about a year and were kept private but, this time, the city and the Flames used Ernst & Young consultants that worked with all parties to get the financial details agreeable for all sides. Doesn’t seem as though the league was involved much at all. Under terms of the new deal, the City owns the new arena and the Flames will have a 35 year lease on the building. The city and CSEC will split the $550 M building construction cost 50/50. The team is responsible for operating the building, including upkeep / repairs, while the Flames have agreed to not relocate for a minimum of 35 years. The new building will seat 19,000 fans. As a final step, Calgary city council voted on the deal and it was approved with 11 votes for and 4 against. Construction of the new building is expected to start in 2021 with it being game ready by the 2024-25 NHL season.
- The Arizona Coyotes introduced their new owner, Alex Murelo, to the media this week. Murelo is 55 years old and was born to Cuban parents who fled their country for a better life in the USA. Alex was born in Brooklyn, NY and started investing in real estate in his 20’s. He apparently likes to take struggling businesses, turn them around and is now worth a reported $2 B US. He owns casino’s, restaurants and real estate in the Southwest USA. He speaks fluent Spanish and spoke during parts his Coyotes introductory press conference in Spanish. Murelo is the first and only Hispanic NHL owner in league history and fans of the league are hoping he can draw the Hispanic demographic to the Coyotes and NHL (some estimates say Arizona is comprised of 40% Hispanic citizens). Previous Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway retains a 5% ownership position and the Coyotes Alternate Governor.
- I’ve not heard much on CBA negotiations. The league can opt out of the current CBA on September 1, 2019 (effective September 1, 2020) while the players can do the same on September 19, 2019. Some of the major topics that are usually in the discussions is hockey related revenue (HRR) which is currently 50/50 -players get 50% of revenue and owners get 50%. I’d be very surprised if this split changes. The max contract length, currently 8 years for a UFA that signs with the same team or 7 years for a UFA that goes to a different team, could also be on the table for discussion. One of the other key issue is escrow and not holding back 10-12% of player salaries. The players position is basically find another way other than touching players pay. Some other topics could include the idea of signing bonuses where players are paid up to 90% of their annual cap number as a bonus, usually paid on July 1. Toronto leads the league in paying signing bonus while other, less cash laden teams, can’t pay out millions of dollars of salary on July 1. The fixed cap, currently $81.5 M, is suppose to create league parity among teams but bonuses skew things. Teams such as Ottawa struggle to have their player combined salaries reach the cap floor, $60.2 M, and they take on a retired player contracts to bump up their combined player contracts total. Some say what the Leafs did recently acquiring retired player David Clarkson contract to exploit a loophole in the CBA could be addressed in the CBA discussions. This whole issue of the CBA negotiations and re-opener clause in September is going to start to become news as the new 2019-20 season nears. Both the NHLPA and NHL seem to agree that labor problems hurt the game so hopefully both sides can work through their differences.
- The Minnesota Wild fired their GM Paul Fenton on Tuesday. Fenton was hired by the Wild in May of 2018 from the Nashville Predators organization where he was AGM to GM David Poile. Wild owner Craig Leipold basically said it was on him as, after Fenton’s fourteen months in the GM role, it was clear to Leipold that Fenton was not a good fit with the culture of the Wild organization. Leipold said there was not one thing that led to the decision but more a way for doing things that was not working well. Some of the names getting interviewed to replace Fenton include former Flyers GM Ron Hextall, former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, Montreal Canadiens AGM Scott Mellanby and Penguins AGM Bill Guerin. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau has now survived two GM firings in his three seasons as head coach. Bourdreau, 64, enters the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. Owner Craig Leipold said new Wild Senior Advisor Mike Modano will be involved in all parts of the new GM hire. The three key people that will do the hire is Modano, owner Leipold and Wild President & Alternate Governor Matt Majka. All signs seem to point to a hire being done fairly soon.
- The Oilers added Brian Wiseman as an assistant coach on head coach Dave Tippett’s staff. Wiseman, 48, spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan Wolverines and had worked in the Dallas Stars organization as a video analyst in the past (where Dave Tippett first met him). Wiseman had a successful career in the IHL & AHL. In the 1998-99 season, he was the IHL leading scorer & MVP and led his team, the Houston Aeros, to the Turner Cup. He was also a team captain with the Aeros. Heard where Tippett said he wanted someone he was familiar with so there was less time required getting to know each other, etc. Tip said the whole organization sees the upcoming season as very important. Sounds like Wiseman will be the Oilers coach acting as the “eye in the sky” – watching games from the pressbox. Oilers assistant coach Glen Gulutzan is responsible for the forwards and Jim Playfair the defense.
- Former Bruins/Flames player Marc Savard is joining the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach on head coach Craig Berube’s staff. Berube was a teammate of Savard’s in the NHL and values his offensive understanding of the game and the organization hopes he can pass his knowledge onto the Blues players. Savard recorded 706 points in 807 NHL games in his career.
- Former NHL player Alex Tanguay is leaving the NHL Network to take a position as an assistant coach with the AHL Iowa Wild (farm team of the Minnesota Wild) under head coach Tim Army.
- Boston Bruins President Cam Neely says he expects the organization and their head coach Bruce Cassidy to soon reach an agreement on a contract extension. Cassidy enters the 2019-20 with just one year remaining on his contract. In three seasons so far under Cassidy, the Bruins have reached the 100 point mark twice.
- Recently retired Penguins forward Matt Cullen has moved into a player development position with the team. GM Jim Rutherford said Cullen’s valuable knowledge of the game plus his knowledge of the Penguins organization made the decision to hire him an easy one. Cullen won three Stanley Cups in his 21 year NHL playing career.
- Another player who just recently retired, Chicago Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, has also accepted as Player Development Adviser position with the ‘Hawks organization (in their Hockey Ops Dept). Kunitz will also advise the ‘Hawks coaching staff and well as work with the organization’s AHL prospects in Rockford. Kunitz won four Cups as a player, three with the Penguins and one with the Anaheim Ducks.
- Former Islanders forward Stephen Gionta has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization as a pro scout. Gionta, 35, was a UFA but did not get any contract offers. He played with the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport most of last season.
- Oilers 21 yo forward Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall 2016) said recently he will not be returning to North America to play hockey until the Oilers trade him. Puljujarvi is spending the off-season back home in Finland. Heard Oilers GM Ken Holland interviewed and he said he’s been trying to trade the player and will soon make an extra push to get something done before training camp. The Oilers have added former Canucks forward Markus Granlund, James Neal, and goaltender Mike Smith while moving out Lucic, Ty Rattie and Tobias Reider. Holland said recently he’s expects Neal to play in the Oilers top 6 forward group.
- Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said recently he expects to reach a contract agreement with 23 yo RFA Brayden Point before training camp. Point had a career high 92 points on 41 goals in the recent season. Some experts are saying their is a bit of a log jam with the RFA’s as these young stars are waiting for the market to set – including the Marner contract that doesn’t seem close to a conclusion. From reviewing some of BriseBois comments, it does seem as though the Point contract will be a shorter term deal as he said that’s the way these star 22/23 year old RFA contracts seem to be trending. Some people expect the salary cap to jump from the current $81.5 M when the league signs a new USA TV deal (the current deal expires after the next two seasons).
- Flames GM Brad Treliving said he expects to sign RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk before the start of training camp. The Flames have $7.75 M in cap space available and just recently bought out defenseman Michael Stone to create cap room. Experts are saying it will take about $8 M /season to get Tkachuk’s name on a new deal. The player recorded 77 points in 80 games on 34 goals in the 2018-19 regular season.
- The Ottawa Senators are working towards getting 22 yo RFA forward Colin While signed to a new contract. Sens GM Dorian said recently the goal is to get White signed by the start of training camp on September 12. Since being drafted 21st overall in 2015, White has recorded 47 points, 16 goals, in 94 career NHL games.
- There been some talk that the Senators have started negotiations with defenseman Thomas Chabot on a long term deal. Chabot is one season from being a 23 yo RFA but he’s a key player for the Senators. Chabot recorded 55 points in 70 games in the 2018-19 regular season.
- Tampa Bay back-up goaltender Louis Domingue is being shopped to teams. The Lightning signed Curtis McElhinney to a two year contract this summer at $1.3 M /season to back-up starter Andrei Vasilevskiy which made Domingue, last years back-up in Tampa, expendable. Domingue, 27, has just the 2019-20 season left on his contract and then will be UFA. Domingue went 21-5 with a .908 SV% and a 2.88 GAA in 2018-19.
- The agent for former Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton said the other day Hutton will sign somewhere before the start of training camp adding there have been offers but so far none the player wanted to agree to. Hutton had 20 points in 69 games with the Canucks in 2018-19. Hutton, 26, became a UFA after the Canucks did not make him an RFA qualifying offer.
- Experts are saying the market is still being set for the 22/23 star RFA group. Signings could be delayed to the start of training camp in mid Sept. The key names that are still unsigned include:
- Mitch Marner (TOR)
- Brayden Point (TB)
- Mikko Rantanen (AVS)
- Matthew Tkachuk (CGY)
- Kyle Connor (WPG)
- Patrik Laine (WPG)
- Brock Boeser (VAN)
- Charlie McAvoy (BOS)
- Zach Werenski (CBJ)
- Ivan Provorov (PHI)
- Travis Konecny (PHI)
- Kevin Fiala (MIN)
- The World Junior Summer Showcase recently wrapped up in Plymouth, Michigan. Teams in the four day tournament included Canada, USA, Sweden and Finland. This is just a warm up for the 2020 World Junior Tournament. Team Canada’s head coach is Dale Hunter with assistants Mitch Love (HC of the WHL Saskatoon Blades) and Andre Tourigny (HC of the OHL Ottawa 67’s). The projected 1st overall draft selection in 2020, Alexis Lafreniere, is expected to lead the Canadians in the 2020 World Junior Tournament (under 20 yo’s) that gets started December 26, 2019 in the Czech Republic. Some of other key players on the World Junior team are expected to be:
- Liam Foudy (18th overall 2018 CBJ)
- Joe Veleno (30th overall 2018 DET)
- Barrett Hayton (5th overall 2018 ARI)
- Ty Dellandrea (13th overall 2018 DAL)
- Kirby Dach (3rd overall 2019 CHI)
- Bo Byram (4th overall 2019 COL)
- Noah Dobson (12th overall 2018 NYI)
- Jacob Bernard-Docker (26th overall 2018 OTT)
- Ty Smith (17th overall 2018 NJD)
- Jared McIsaac (2nd round 2018 DET)
- Olivier Rodrigue (2nd round 2019 EDM)
- Colten Ellis (3rd round 2019 STL)
- Some of these players could make the NHL before the World Junior tournament starts.
- The 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup will take place in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia from August 5th to 10th, 2019. These are under 18 year old players. Team Canada’s roster includes 22 players; 9 from the WHL, 8 from the OHL and 5 from the QMJHL.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Vezina trophy winner (2019) Andrei Vasilevskiy to a 8 year contract at $9.5 M /season. The new deal starts in the 2020-21 season.
- New Jersey acquired Vegas forward Nikita Gusev, 27, and signed him to a two year deal that will pay him $5 M in the first season and $4 M in the second season. Both the Devils and Columbus were teams that expressed the most interest in acquiring the player from Vegas. Vegas thought they could sign Gusev for about $2 M / season and it doesn’t seem as though they ever were close in terms of reaching an agreement. There is a bit of hype around Gusev as he was a star in the KHL. He had 82 points on 17 goals in 62 KHL games in 2018-19. Due to his age, Gusev is ineligible for the Calder trophy for the league’s top rookie.
- The Devils reached an agreement with defenseman Will Butcher, 3 years at $3.73 M/season. Butcher is 24 years old and had 30 points in 78 games in the 2018-19 regular season.
- Vegas signed (UFA) defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one year deal for with a base of (league min) $700,000 plus performance bonuses that could make the contract worth as much as $1.5 M.
- Nashville agreed to terms with forward Colton Sissons on the 7 year deal for $20 M. The two sides agreed a day before their arbitration hearing was scheduled. Sissons recorded career highs in goals (15) and points (30) in the 2018-19 season. GM David Poile said Sissons can play on the PP or PK plus has grown into a leader on the team.
- The Winnipeg Jets and forward Andrew Copp reached an agreement on a 2 year deal for $2.28 M avoiding their scheduled arbitration hearing. Copp recorded 11 goals and 25 points in the 2018-19 season.
- Buffalo signed their back-up goaltender, Linus Ullmark, to a one year, $1.325 M contract. The two sides reached an agreement one day after Ullmark had his salary arbitration hearing. The Sabres also signed defenseman Jake McCabe to a 2 year deal with a cap hit of $2.85 M.
- The Avalanche signed defenseman Sam Girard to a seven year, $35 M contract. In the recent regular season, Girard, 21, recorded 4 goals and 27 assists in 82 games while averaging 19:53 minutes of ice time. Girard was originally drafted by Nashville, 2nd round/47th overall, in 2016 and was of the Duchene trade.
- The Flames and goaltender David Rittich reached a 2 year contract agreement before their arbitration hearing. It’s two years at $2.75 M. It’s the same cap number as the Flames new alternate goalie Cam Talbot will make. Fans are expecting a season long competition between the two goalies for the number one position. Seems GM Treliving got good value to sign two good goaltenders for a combined total of $5.5 M.
- The Flames also reached a two year contract agreement, $2.55 M /season, with forward Sam Bennett. Bennett, a former 4th overall draft pick of the Flames back in 2014, had 27 points in 71 games in the 2018-19 season. He’s not panned out like a forth overall draft pick but has turned into a character bottom 6 forward. He says his goal is still to be a top 6 forward at the NHL level. He’s 23 years old with four full NHL season’s of experience.
- MLSE is reportedly investing millions of dollars upgrading and improving Scotiabank Arena both inside and the areas close to the building. MSLE is not disclosing how much the reno’s are costing but the overall goal is to make the MSLE team’s and fan experience world class. Seems with the Raptors championship MSLE got a taste of how exciting winning can be for a city and organization.
- Last seasons back-up goaltender, Garret Sparks, was dealt to Vegas for a 4th round draft pick in 2020 plus retired player David Clarkson’s contract. Apparently adding Clarkson’s contract, $5.2 M for one more season, has to do with LTIR (long term injury reserve) and saving cap dollars. It’s a bit of a loophole in the CBA that seems to confuse fans (why trade for the contract of Clarkson who is retired?). There is some part in the CBA to do with cap accrual that I haven’t got totally understood. Experts said with this Clarkson move, seems to be an indication the Leafs are preparing for the chance Marner doesn’t sign by game one of the regular season on October 2.
- The Leafs also recently signed the following players:
- Pontus Aberg (1 yr 700k)
- Kenny Agostino (2 yr $737.5k)
- Tyler Gaudet (1 yr 2-way $700k)
- Kalle Kossila (2 yr 2-way $700k)
- Nick Shore (1 yr $750k)
- Garrett Wilson (1 yr $725k)
- Kevin Gravel (1 yr $700k)
- Aberg recorded 25 points in 59 NHL games between Anaheim & Minnesota in the 2018-19 season so he could be a possible part time Leafs forward but the rest of the signings look to be AHL players.
- At the recent World Junior Summer Shawcase tournament in Plymouth, Michigan, Leafs second rounder Nick Robertson reportedly exceeded expectations. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and head coach Mike Babcock both attended the tournament and Dubas was quoted as saying they were very happy with the player adding he’s very focused and determined. Robertson represented Team USA. Apparently there were enough players at the event for two USA teams and after the first two days, the Americans cut their roster down to one team and Robertson made the top 6 group forwards on final team.
- Team Sweden’s head coach at the World Juniors Summer Showcase, Tomas Monten, said he hopes Leafs first rounder Rasmus Sandin is available for the 2020 World Juniors on December 26, 2019. Does not seem likely Sandin, 19, will be playing in the NHL in the 2019-20 season as consensus seems to be both he and 20 year old Swede Timothy Liljegren need one more year in the AHL.
- The team signed former Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth to a training camp professional try out (PTO). They also signed former Wild/Flyers forward Matt Read to a training camp PTO. Read spent last season with the Wild’s AHL team in Iowa and played 12 games with the Wild. He has played in 449 NHL games, mostly with the Flyers. I don’t expect he’ll make the Leafs.
- Not sure what the Leafs are planning for their back-up goaltender position. Names in consideration for the position include:
- Michael Hutchison
- Michal Neuvirth
- Kasimir Kaskisuo
- The team needs a decent back-up as Andersen can get worn down when he plays too much. Of these three goaltenders, Neuvirth seems to have an edge. The Leafs don’t have a lot of cap room to spend.
- The team’s goalie of the future is clearly Ian Scott (4th rounder from 2017) who won the Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL & QMJHL) goaltender of the year in 2019. He’ll play with the Marlies in 2019-20.
- With the addition of defenseman Jordan Schmaltz from St. Louis for Andreas Borgman, the team now has the follow right shot defenseman:
- Tyson Barrie
- Cody Ceci
- Justin Holl
- Timothy Liljegren
- Schmaltz, 25, was drafted in the first round, 25th overall in 2012, but has just 42 games (zero goals and 5 assists) of NHL experience. I expect he’ll need time in the AHL before being given a look with the Leafs. His younger brother is Nick Schmaltz of the Arizona Coyotes.
- I’ve heard nothing on Jake Gardiner and can just assume the offers so far are not what he was expecting. The back problem he struggled with last season has really affected his market value. Some people are suggesting he’ll sign a one or two year deal to re-establish his value but it’s not clear which teams may have interest. Anaheim, Colorado, Arizona were some of the teams interested in Shattenkirk after he was bought out so I assume there would be interest in Gardiner from some these teams. Some people still link Gardiner to the Leafs but they can’t afford him if they reach and an agreement with Marner.
- The Flames bought out the final year of defenseman Michael Stone’s contract which is $3.5 M. The buyout gets the team $2.33 M of cap space that they need to get RFA forward Matthew Tkachuk signed. Michael Stone is Mark Stone’s brother and he struggled with injuries (blood clots) all of last season. He recently turned 29 so still has some hockey left it would seem. He cleared through waivers so may have to look to Europe or sign a training camp PTO with an NHL team.
- The Rangers bought out the final 2 years of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s contract. In 119 Rangers games over two season’s, Shattenkirk recorded 7 goals and 44 assists for 51 points with a -29 plus/minus. He was due to make $6.65 M in each of the remaining two years so he now gets two thirds of that over four seasons.
- Shattenkirk signed a one year, $1.75 M, contract with Tampa Bay on Monday. The deal include a “no trade” clause. Other teams that were reportedly interested in signing him include the Leafs, Coyotes, Anaheim, Colorado and Winnipeg. Shatttenkirk was not happy being bought out and says he’ll be a motivated player in the new, 2019-20 season.
Odds & Ends
- Ottawa Senators Chief Marketing Officer, Aimee Deziel, has reportedly left the organization after about one year in the role. Dezial’s responsibilities included communicating the organization’s plans to the media plus reaching out and connecting with fans. It’s not clear why she left but it’s just another executive that has been unable to make much progress in the Senators organization.
- Seattle GM Ron Francis said the other day expect a Seattle team name to be announced in the first part of 2020. Team colors will be announced around the same time. I’ve seen a lot of red associated with the Seattle team.
- Oilers assistant captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going into his ninth NHL season, all with Edmonton, and over that time has had 7 different head coaches and 5 different GM’s.
- Former Leafs forward Dominic Moore has a yearly summer charity ping pong tournament that was recently, in it’s 8th consecutive year running, held in Toronto called Smashfest that recently went over the $1 M mark of cash raised to fund concussion and cancer research. Twenty NHL players showed up to play in this year’s event including Freddy Andersen and Mark Scheifele. Moore lost his wife to a rare form of liver cancer in 2013. A million dollars raised is an amazing milestone for something that was informally started by a player who took action towards helping others.