NHL News & Notes to 15 Nov 2018

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

League-related

  • The General Managers had a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, over 5 hours the GM’s discuss some of the following topics:
    • On Seatttle – if the NHL Board of Governors vote for Seattle expansion during the Dec. 3 & 4 meetings, there is still the issue of whether the Seattle franchise starts in the 2020-21 season or the following season. With the KeyArena renovation scheduled to be completed in October of 2020, there is not a lot of wiggle room if there are problems completing the renovations. A possible expansion draft (that Vegas is exempt from) could happen in the Summer of 2020 or 2021 depending on whether Seattle is ready.
    • Goaltender equipment changes – the GM’s are on the side of the league on this issue, i.e. they believe the NHL should stay the course and stick with the new rule regarding smaller goaltender equipment. Average goals per game is 6.14 up from 5.44 in the 2012-13 season.
    • Success of games in Europe and possibility that the league may one day have a Europe-based team or even a European league. This is not a near-term idea but something that is gaining more traction as a possibility overall. Many NHL stars are from Europe and that has helped increase interest there. It seems both the league and NHLPA are intrigued by the idea.
    • Another issue tabled is whether NHL team’s first round picks can be allowed to play their final year of junior eligibility with NHL team’s AHL affiliate. Seems teams want to get their top prospects into their organizations sooner to start working with their coaches. The NHL/CHL agreement is up for renegotiation in June 30, 2020. The CHL has been against this idea as they don’t want their star players leaving sooner than they otherwise would.
    • The GM’s next meet in March in Florida.
  • Capital forward Tom Wilson had his 20 game suspension reduced to 14 games and was back in game action this week. The reduction in salary meant Wilson got back $378,048 in lost salary. The suspension was effectively 16 games since the process took so long. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan has told Wilson his head hits have to stop.
  • Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey was fined $8,467 for an unsportsmanlike incident against Capitals forward TJ Oshie. The fine amount is the max under the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Players were refunded 2.84% of their 2016-17 salaries on November 15 due to the escrow. The escrow is used as the league makes an estimate of hockey-related revenue (HRR) before the start of the season and withholds ~ 10% of player salaries (each pay); when league revenues are realized at season’s end, players usually get a percentage of their money back.

Team Management

  • The Penguins announced they’ve signed General Manager Jim Rutherford to a 3 year extension through the 2021-22 season. Rutherford, 69, has 3 Cups on his resume as a Hockey GM, two with the Penguins and one with the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • Seattle – Dave Tippett, who is a senior adviser for the proposed Seattle team, indicated the other day he’s not looking to be the team’s GM or coach instead looking for a different role in the organization. A Coyotes journalist who knows Tippett expects him to be something like President of Hockey Operations. Some people have speculated on Joel Quenneville to Seattle. Coach Q is making $6 M this season and next to not coach.
  • Former NHL player Adam Oates has been hired by the LA Kings as a skills coach. Oates is a private skills coach to such NHL players as Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey, Zach Parise and others. The Kings indicated Oates will mostly be working with the Kings power play group.
  • Arizona also announced they’ve hired former USA Olympian Lyndsey Fry as special adviser to Coyotes President & CEO Ahron Cohen.  Fry played on the USA Women’s Olympic team in Sochi, Russia where the team won a silver medal. Fry will assist with community initiatives and building the Coyotes brand in Arizona.
  • There’s been some unconfirmed reports that the Arizona Coyotes are for sale with the team looking for a buyer to keep it in Arizona. The Coyotes are currently owned by hedge fund manager Anthony Barroway. It was reported earlier this year that Barroway was looking for an additional investor.
  • New Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton is just 33 years old and is now the youngest coach in the league. He is a former player (drafted in the 2nd round in 2003 by the Islanders) who struggled with injuries (mostly concussions) during his career and ended up playing in Sweden where he started his coaching career (he was injured so often he looked for ways to help the team in the time he was unable to play and got into coaching). He joined the ‘Hawks organization in May 2017 as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rockford. He is a noted strong communicator and will talk to players individually about their play; this is something that was noted by players he coached in Rockford and in Sweden.
  • Along with head coach Joel Quenneville, also dismissed in Chicago were assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen. Coach Q leaves the ‘Hawks organization 2nd in franchise wins with 452 wins (Billy Reay has 516) and had a 452-249-96 regular season record – plus 3 Cups. The team made the post season 9 of his 10 seasons in Chicago. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported this week teams are already inquiring on Quenneville.

Hockey Halls of Fame

  • The Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame announced Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Jets co-owner Mark Chipman have been added to the selection committee. Long time hockey writer Eric Duhatschek recently stepped down from the selection committee and former Panthers special assistant and 4 time Cup winner with the NY Islanders, Bill Torrey, had been on the selection committee but sadly passed away in May.
  • The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame announced that retired Canucks players Daniel & Henrik Sedin will be inducted into the 2019 class next May.
  • Some of the possible candidates for the 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame class in the player category include Patrick Elias, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Daniel Alfredsson and Hayley Wickenheiser.

Leafs

  • The team plays the final game of their 4 game road trip Friday against Anaheim and are 2-1-0 so far. Was an entertaining game against San Jose with the Sharks trying to get at Nazem Kadri most of the night. Seems they wanted pay back for the fight Kadri had with Joe Thornton last January. It was the first win for the Leafs at the SAP Center since 2011 and the team has a chance to sweep California for the first time since 1995 (beat the Kings, Sharks and Anaheim). The team is now 8-1 on the road.
  • Forward Mitch Marner now has 17 points (3 G & 14 A) in 9 road games this season. Marner is on pace for 108 points. His career high in points in a season is 69 (set last season).
  • Kasperi Kapanen scored his 8th goal of the season against the Sharks on Thursday equaling his total from all prior NHL seasons (he had 7 last season in 55 games). Kapanen is on pace for 34 goals. With his speed, he makes things happen & is a really exciting player to watch.
  • Defenseman Morgan Rielly is leading the league in defenseman scoring with 24 points and, with 8 goals, is one goal from tying his career high in goals set in the 2015-16 season. With the Leafs having an incredible power play (26.8%) plus the team is second in the league in goals for per game with an average of 3.58 goals/game, Rielly should continue to be one of the league leaders in points for a defenseman. With only a quarter of the season being played, it’s early but would be incredible if Rielly could be considered for a Norris trophy as the league’s top defenseman.
  • Center John Tavares is on pace for 99 points and 50 goals which would both be career highs.
  • Center Nazem Kadri has 7 goals in his last 10 games whereas in his first 9 games he has zero.
  • Goaltender Freddy Andersen does not get enough credit for the Leafs success. In 10 of his past 12 games, Andersen has allowed 2 or fewer goals. Andersen leads in NHL in wins with 11, has a 2.02 GAA & a SV% of .934.
  • Auston Matthews is with the team on this current road trip as head coach Mike Babcock thought it was better than the player hanging out in Toronto. Matthews is progressing well in his recovery from his shoulder injury that he suffered on October 27.
  • Leafs with and without Matthews in the line-up this season:
    • With – 8-3-0, 3.73 goals/game & 32.1% PP
    • Without – 5-3-0, 3.36 goals/game & 21% PP
  • After Friday’s game against Anaheim, the team returns to Toronto to play Columbus on Monday and then the team plays two games on the road, Carolina on Wed (Nov 21) and Columbus on Friday, Nov. 23.  Auston Matthews could then be nearing a return.
  • All indications are William Nylander wants to stay with the Leafs and the team wants to re-sign him. TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently said a bridge deal makes the most sense at this point. Bob guesses a bridge deal could look something like:
    • Year One: $4 M
    • Year Two: $5 M
    • Year Three: $7 M
  • Experts say the Leafs top 3 prospects are:
    • Defenseman Rasmus Sandin (18th overall in 2018)
      • The Leafs and player still have to determine where he plays longer term this season. He’s played 5 games with the Marlies (2 G & 2 A) but it’s not clear if he will stay in the AHL for the season. Leafs management has said they are waiting until the 10 game mark to see how Sandin does in the AHL and then decide if they return him to Sault Ste Marie (OHL), or he could play in Sweden or stay with the Marlies. It’s expected that both Sandin and Liljegren will represent Sweden at this years IIHF World Junior Tournament in Vancouver.
    • Defenseman Timothy Liljegren (17th overall in 2017)
    • Forward Carl Grundstrom (57th overall in 2016)
  • The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) in partnership with the Leafs announced the City of Toronto will host the 2019 CWHL All-Star game. The game is scheduled for January 20, 2019 at ScotiaBank Arena.  Additionally, the Clarkson Cup championship (the championship trophy for the CWHL) game will take place March 24, 2019 at the home of the AHL Maries, Coca-Cola Coliseum (formerly Ricoh Coliseum).

Transactions

  • Arizona has signed defenseman Jakob Chychrun to a 6 year contract extension at an annual average value of $4.6 M /season. The Coyotes get 2 of Chychrun’s UFA seasons. Chychrun is a former 1st round selection of the Coyotes (16th overall) but has struggled with injuries in his career. He’s played just one game this season after having off-season knee surgery. He played 50 games last season and recorded 14 points while averaging 20 minutes of ice time per game.
  • LA and Pittsburgh, two struggling teams, swapped forwards this week. Carl Hagelin goes to LA for Tanner Pearson. The Penguins retained $250 K of Hagelin’s $4 M salary. Hagelin is a UFA at season’s end and it’s suspected the Kings will trade the player for assets at the trade deadline. Pearson has two more seasons at $3.75 M remaining on his contract and recorded just 1 assist in 19 LA games. He has recorded 44 and 40 points in the past two seasons.

Calgary Flames

  • The team has played one of the 4 games on their current home stand and lost to the Canadiens on Thursday night 3-2. The Flames out shot the ‘Habs 45-22 but veteran goaltender Mike Smith struggled again and now has a .876 SV% and a 3.48 GAA. The league is too close to have a goaltender struggle for large parts of the season.
  • Twenty one year old forward Matthew Tkachuk is leading the team in scoring with 21 points on 9 goals after 19 games. Tkachuk is a RFA at season’s end and has said he wants to stay in Calgary long term. GM Treliving has tried to keep captain Mark Giordano as the team’s highest paid player ($6.75 M/season) and 2 seasons ago Johnny Gaudreau’s contract was for the same annual average salary but experts see Tkachuk’s new contract eclipsing the $6.75 M/season. If the organization can get the player on a 6 year deal they would get 2 of the players UFA seasons.
  • James Neal is one point from 500 career points; he’s played 722 career games. Neal has just 4 points on 3 goals after 20% of the season. I believe when Neal signed in Calgary (5 years at $5.75 M /season), he thought he’d be on one of the team’s top two forward lines but he’s been on the 3rd line. Off-season acquisition Elias Lindholm has played so well with Gaudreau and Monahan, there’s been no opportunity for Neal to move up in the line-up.

Milestones & Streaks

  • Panthers forward Mike Hoffman has an active 14 game point streak going. For the season, has has 15 points in 15 games. Good for him as it can be an adjustment to adapt to a new team (and a new city). The 14 game point streak is a Panthers franchise record.
  • LA Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf is two games from playing in his 1,000 career game. Phaneuf, 33, has one assists this season.
  • Islanders sophmore forward Mathew Barzal reached the 100 point mark for his career. Barzal, 21, is a huge part of the Islanders future. He reached the 100 career point mark at a rate that ranks among the league’s top scores.
    • Fewest games to reach 100 career points among active skaters
      • Ovechkin – 77 games
      • Crosby – 80 games
      • Malkin – 89 games
      • McDavid – 92 games
      • Paul Stastny – 99 games
      • Mathew Barzal – 101 games
  • This week Sharks center Joe Thornton recorded his 400th career goal. Noted as one to the top passers to ever play in the NHL, the 400 goals is an incredible milestone. Only 11 players in NHL history have 1,000 assists plus 400 goals. They are:
    • Wayne Gretzky
    • Jaromir Jagr
    • Mark Messier
    • Gordie Howe
    • Ron Francis
    • Marcel Dionne
    • Mario Lemieux
    • Joe Sakic
    • Steve Yzerman
    • Ray Bourque
    • Joe Thornton
  • Joe also became the 19th player in NHL history to play in 1500 games.
  • Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson recorded his 400th career assist in the same game as Joe Thornton recorded his 400th career goal.
  • Jets center Blake Wheeler has an 11 game point streak going. He’s recorded two goals and 18 assists over the 18 games.
  • Arizona forward Brad Richardson recently played in his 700th career game.
  • Wild forward Zach Parise recently recorded his 700th career point.
  • Predators star defenseman PK Subban recently played in his 600th career game.

Injuries

  • Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk returned to the line-up Thursday (Nov. 15) after missing 16 games with a knee injury. JVR was hit on the knee with a shot in the Flyers second game of the season.
  • Devils center Brian Boyle has been placed on the injury reserve (IR) with an upper body injury. When a player is placed on IR it means he will miss at least 7 days and the team can add (or call up) a player to replace the injured player.
  • Penguins center Sidney Crosby is out of action with a short term upper body injury (not on IR).
  • Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is scheduled for surgery on Friday, Nov. 16th after suffering a facial fracture in a game this week against Nashville. Fowler was hit in the face with the puck after he placed his stick into the line of an incoming shot against the Preds (the puck deflected off his stick into his face). The team said a time frame for recovery will be announced on Friday after the surgery.
  • Zdeno Chara injured his leg this week in a game against the Avalanche. Chara returned from the team’s road trip to be assessed in Boston. Chara is averaging 21 minutes of ice time this season for Boston so they will miss him if he’s out for a while. Also with the Bruins, defenseman Charlie McAvoy is still not recovered from a concussion he suffered in October. No time table on his return.
  • Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson will be out 6-8 weeks with a broken thumb.
  • Lightning starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy fractured his foot and is out of action for 4-6 weeks.
  • Oilers forward Tobias Reider will be out of action about a month with an undisclosed injury.
  • Predators defenseman PK Subban was placed in the Injured Reserved List and will miss at least a week. Teammate Dan Hamhuis was activated from IR.
  • Ducks forward Patrick Eaves was placed on the injury reserve list with an undisclosed injury. Eaves has played in just 5 games this season and missed most of last season with a serious virus issue.
  • Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask missed about a week as he took personal leave from the team and has since returned. Rask is having a trying season and Jaro Halak has emerged at the team’s top goaltender.
  • Ducks forward Ondrej Kase has returned to game action after missing the first 18 games of the season with a concussion. Kase is an emerging young player for the Ducks. He signed a 3 year contract this off-season at an average annual value of $2.6 M.
  • Dallas Stars forward Alex Radulov is back playing after missing 10 games with an undisclosed injury.
  • LA Kings starting goaltender Jack Campbell (filling in for the injured Jonathan Quick) will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee (same injury as Quick). Campbell did require surgery on the knee. It’s a tough injury for a goaltender that is trying to make it in the NHL. In his 4 starts before the injury, Campbell had made 112 saves on on 117 shots or .957 SV%. Cal Petersen was called up from the Ontario Reign (the Kings AHL affiliate that are based in Ontario, California) to back fill for Campbell.
  • Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich will miss the next 4 – 6 weeks with a broken thumb.
  • Montreal captain Shea Weber is on track to return to game action in mid December. He’s traveling with the team and taking part in practices.
  • Former Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick will be out of action at least 3 more weeks with an injury.
  • Dallas Stars number one defenseman John Klingberg broke his hand and will miss a month.
  • Canucks Brock Boeser is on the shelf with a groin injury. He’s been unable to start skating so is still week to week.
  • Senators rookie forward Brady Tkachuk is back playing after missing 9 games with a ligament tear in his leg.
  • Blues forward Patrick Maroon is out of action with an upper body injury. He’s in the process of getting the injury assessed.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets have been hit by the flu bug, Panarin, Bobrovsky and Riley Nash all missed time this week because of it.
  • For the NY Islanders, forward Andrew Ladd was placed on IR with an leg injury as were forwards Casey Cizikas & Matt Martin.
  • Dallas Stars forward Devon Shore is out of action for 7-10 days with a lower body injury.
  • Vegas forward Erik Haula was injured Nov. 6 against the Leafs (was stretchered off the ice) is still being assessed and the team/player are getting additional medical opinions. It’s looking like it’ll be month to month and not week to week.
  • Flyers starting goaltender Brian Elliott appeared to injure his groin Thursday night in a game against New Jersey. He had to leave the game as was replaced by Calvin Pickard. No word on how much time Elliott will miss.

Odds & Ends

  • Defenseman Paul Martin announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday. Martin, 37, played 870 games over 14 seasons for the Devils, Penguins and Sharks. Martin impressively made the playoffs in every season of his 14 NHL seasons but did not win a Cup. When Sharks defenseman Brent Burns won the Norris for the league’s top defenseman, Martin was his d partner.
  • Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for doing well in the Max Pacioretty deal plus new ‘Habs forward Max Domi is leading Montreal in scoring with 10 goals and 13 assists after 19 games played. Domi has an many points as Leafs center John Tavares. Tomas Tatar, who was part of the Pacioretty deal, has 16 points on 8 goals this season; he recorded just 6 points in 20 games after he was acquired by Vegas last season.
  • Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo currently has a record of 4-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA and a .956 SV%. Luongo is the first goaltender age 39 or older to start a season 4-0 since Dominik Hasek did in the 2005-06 season.
  • Former Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec has retired from the NHL & has moved back to the Czech Republic. He says he wants to play at least 2 more seasons in the Czech league. He’s been practicing with the team Jaromir Jagr owns, the Klado Knights, but is still deciding which Czech league team he will play for.
  • The Red Wings are starting to play better hockey, after a 1-7-2 start they’ve won 7 of their last 8 games.
  • Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt will play his first game of the season this Sunday when the Golden Knights play the Oilers in Edmonton. Schmidt was suspended for 20 games from the start of the season for using a banned substance.
  • The Penguins are last in the Eastern Conference with a 7-7-3 record. They looked very good when they played their Canadian road trip 2 weeks ago and went 4-0 on the trip but are really having trouble getting wins since. Goaltender Matt Murray has not been very good this season with a 3.87 GAA and a .886 SV%.
  • Oilers forward Milan Lucic is still struggling to put up points and be productive. Lucic has 2 even strength goals in his past 73 games. He was on the team’s 2nd line but has since been moved to the team’s 3rd line. Lucic is in the 3rd year of a 7 year contract that pays him $6 M/season. He seems to be the player that’s been most affected by the league becoming younger and faster.
  • Bruins forward David Pastrnak leads the NHL with 17 goals – 4 more than second place Jeff Skinner. Pastrnak has scored 30.4% of the Bruins goals this season. Just 22 years old, Pastrnak is an emerging NHL superstar.
  • Canucks sensational rookie Elias Pettersson has gone 4 straight games without recording a point.
  • The Sabres are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games. Jeff Skinner is leading the team in goals with 13 and points with 20 in 18 games. Skinner is a UFA on July 1, 2019. Starting goaltender Carter Hutton has played well for them (.916 SV%).
  • Will be interesting to see what NHL leading scorer Mikko Rantanen’s next contract looks like. Rantanen, 22, has 29 points in 18 games this season and is in the final year of his entry level contract. The team wanted to start contract discussions with his agent but the player prefers to wait until the off-season.
  • The pre-tournament schedule for the 2019 IIHF World Juniors Tournament was recently announced. This is going to be a awesome Christmas time tournament.
  • Some experts see LA as a team that now can’t possibly make the post-season (because of their slow start). The team is last in the NHL in points with 11 after 19 games. Generally, GM’s say teams out of a playoff position at US Thanksgiving (November 22) are really challenged to make the playoffs.
  • In Pittsburgh, the Mario Lemieux Foundation donated $5 M to U of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center to establish the Mario Lemieux Immunotherapy Center.
  • Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat is on pace for 39 goals and 70 points. His career high in goals is 22 and points 52. This season he’s recorded 14 points in 14 road games while playing with different players since the team has had numerous injuries. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently indicated Horvat, 23, will be announced as the team’s captain next season.
  • All signs point to Senators forward Matt Duchene staying with Ottawa long term. The team and agent for the player are in substantive talks about getting the player, who is a UFA after this season, signed to a new deal.
  • The Arizona Coyotes are 7-3-1 in their past 11 games and 9-8-1 overall. The team has scored an incredible 10 goals in 58 shorthanded situations; they score a goal shorthanded 17.2% of the time and have a league-leading penalty killing percent of 91.4%.  Leading the way for Arizona is off-season addition forward Michael Grabner with 4 shorthanded goals. The record for shorthanded goals in a season is 36 and the Coyotes are on pace for 46.
  • Lightning forward Brayden Point scored 3 goals in 91 seconds over the 1st and second periods in a game Thursday night against Pittsburgh. It’s the fastest hat trick since expansion in 1967-68. Point is now leading the Lightning in points (22) & goals (12). The player is in the final year of his entry level contract and I expect getting him signed to a new contract will be a top off-season priority for Lightning GM Julian BrisBrois.
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