NHL News & Notes to 14 Jan 2019

League-related

  • The NHL & NHLPA met this past Thursday in Las Vegas as both sides had people there for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It was reported the meeting went well and the two sides agreed to meet again this week. The league wants to schedule a 2020 World Cup of Hockey but can’t with labour uncertainly (the league and players both have an out clause in the CBA that is effective for the 2020-21 season. The opt out for both sides can happen in September 2019 effective for the 2020-21 season). The league does not want to have a World Cup in Sept. 2020 and then no season / labour problems that delay the start of the season. I heard one agent speak out and say the league & NHLPA should not tie a World Cup event with a labour stoppage as the World Cup was just a moderate success and not what both sides thought they’d bring in financially. The league has said if there is no labour certainty for the 2020-21 season there will be no World Cup.
  • From all accounts, the biggest issue with the players is the escrow. This quarter players get 13.5% of the pay taken for the escrow (escrow is part of the salary cap calculation which is related to hockey related revenue, HRR). The league makes an estimate of HRR and uses the escrow as a clawback on pay. The players often get part of the escrow back but can take a full season for the refund.
  • While league and NHLPA representatives were at the Consumer Electronic Show last week, there was more discussion and info available about where the league is going with player and puck tracking. The league is looking at providing viewers with both virtual reality experiences and in-game betting. The league had a pilot program with 6 companies involved demo’ing their products that will facilitate fan experiencing the game in VR and seeing a lot more data on the game including speed of shots and skating speed. The All-Star game in San Jose on January 26th will be another place we will see some of the ideas the league is working on with tracking and data points captured. Good article here.
  • Some fans are unhappy with the offside reviews that now occur after a goal is scored. Not sure this has filtered up to the league but this is this season’s overuse of goaltender interference where it was rarely called and now it’s overused. In the Leafs game Monday night, the Leafs scored to make it 2-0 only to have the goal disallowed because of an offside that was missed 40 second prior. If the linesman misses an offside, and a goal is scored, it does not seem reasonable to call off a goal after watching video review.

Seattle

  • Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Seattle last week (Wednesday, January 9th) and the Seattle franchise partners held a media event at the Seattle Space Needle. Bettman indicated the new Seattle franchise will get an All-Star game and a Entry Draft within the first few years of their franchise start (2021-22 season). Bettman indicated that an entry draft would occur before an all-star game. Additionally, the league is looking into possibilities of Seattle hosting an outdoor game but it may not be possible with the city getting a lot of rain. At the same event, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke announced the Seattle team will roll out an online portal in about 60 days where fans who’ve put down a deposit for season tickets can vote on a team name. Leiweke indicated the organization will announce a team name some time in the calendar year 2019. Leiweke, again, highlighted that the “renovation” of KeyArena is more a re-building of everything but the roof of the building.
  • The franchise has added Montreal native Mitch Garber as a minority investor. Garber has worked with companies owned by the Seattle team’s managing partner David Bonderman. Garber is one of the people trying to bring the Expos back to Montreal. Garber apparently has experience in sports betting which the league is getting into.

Coaching News

  • Former Minnesota Wild head coach John Torchetti is the new coach and GM of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats.

Trade Deadline Scuttlebutt

  • Flyers Wayne Simmonds – the Flyers have said publicly that they not yet decided on Simmonds; he is a UFA in the summer. He is reportedly a core part of the Flyers culture but the team is currently one of the bottom 3 teams in the league in points. I suspect Simmonds will get traded by the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
  • Sportsnet reported on Saturday that pending UFA forward Michael Ferland is looking for Tom Wilson type money (Wilson signed in the summer for $31 M for 6 seasons or $5.16 M /season). In my view, Ferland is not worth those dollars as Wilson got the contract after scoring 15 points in 21 Capitals post season games during the Cup championship run last season.
  • Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist (47 GP 10 G 29 A) is a pending UFA and expected to move at the trade deadline.
  • We are six weeks out from the Feb. 25th trade deadline. There will be a lot of talk between now and then about players possibly moving. It was reported this week that were will be more teams selling than buying at the trade deadline and the sellers may not get the return they expect for their players. It seems there are more teams that are for sure not making the post season and some teams, like Montreal, that are not trading prospects or players to sneak into the post season.

Penguins

  • Forward Jake Guentzel has recorded 5 goals in his past 2 games and 10 in his past 10 games. Guentzel recorded 22 goals last season (his career high) and already has 23 this season.
  • The Penguins signed back-up goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 3 year contract extension with an average annual value of $1.25 M /season. DeSmith was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. This season DeSmith has a record of 12 W & 8 L in 27 appearances with a 2.53 GAA and a .921 SV%.
  • Defenseman Justin Schultz could return soon from a broken leg suffered October 13. Schultz has been skating but has not yet been cleared by doctors to resume practicing with the Penguins. Good news, though, as it was a tough injury.
  • Penguins center Derick Brassard could be moved by the trade deadline as he’s a pending UFA. Saw Penguins GM Jim Rutherford quoted as saying that Brassard, 31, has underachieved in his time with the Penguins. He was acquired from Ottawa at last season’s trade deadline and he was expected to be a solid 3rd line center behind Crosby and Malkin but he hasn’t really produced. In 50 Penguins games (this season and last season), he’s recorded 10 goals and 11 assists. He’s often had Phil Kessel in his wing. No one expects him to be re-signed by the Penguins this summer.
  • Rutherford indicated the Penguins may deal a defenseman as when Schultz returns, the team will have nine healthy defenseman. The team is also looking to acquire a forward at the trade deadline.

Sharks

  • San Jose has won 6 straight games, are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and since December 1st they are 15-3-2.
  • Goaltender Martin Jones has started to really play well going 12-2-1 since Dec. 2. Over that time, his GAA is 2.30 and SV% is .920. People say Erik Karlsson has really settled in and now playing elite level hockey.
  • The team has improved from being 16th in the league last season on the PP (20.6%) to seventh this season (24.6%) and people attribute to the addition of defenseman Karlsson.
  • Sharks GM Doug Wilson indicated recently they will probably look to add a depth forward at the trade deadline.
  • San Jose signed forward Marcus Sorensen to a 2 year extension with an average annual value of $1.5 M. Sorensen has 15 points in 47 Sharks games this season.

Flames

  • The team is 8-1-1 in their past 10 games and won 5 straight games. After 47 games, the team has 30 wins which ties a franchise record (1988-89 team) for fastest to 30 wins. Coach Bill Peters has not been entirely happy with the team’s recent play. The coach so far has been having good success getting the players to perform this season.
  • The team plays the Sabres, who lost 7-2 to the Oilers Monday night, on Wednesday and then the Red Wings on Friday. The Battle of Alberta resumes Saturday night in Edmonton which should be an excellent match-up.
  • Captain Mark Giordano is tied for 2nd in scoring for a defenseman with 47 points (Brent Burns has 52). Gio played in his 800th career game on Sunday. He has six 3 point games this season and the same number in all his previous seasons combined. Gio likes to credit his d partner TJ Brodie for helping him have a very good season so far.
  • Forward Sean Monahan has recorded 5 straight 25+ goals seasons and he’s still just 24 years old. He was a terrific 2013 6th overall selection by the organization.
  • Forward Johnny Gaudreau has 18 points in his past 8 games and is second in the  league in points with 69.
  • I’ve not heard anything on the Matthew Tkachuk contract negotiation. Tkachuk is a restricted free agent in the summer and is just 21 years old. The player is expected to get a contract with an average annual salary close to what William Nylander got, $7 M per season on a long term deal. He’s has 54 points in 47 games and provides extra offence outside of the top line of Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm.
  • Forward Curtis Lazar is the leading scorer on the team’s AHL team, the Stockton Heat (31 points in 36 Stockton games). The Flames have recalled numerous forwards so far this season but not Lazar but people say it’s because the team does not have a lot of cap space. Lazar is making $950,000 for this season and is a restricted free agent in the summer. I don’t see him in Calgary next season.

Leafs

  • Leafs are 2-5-0 in their last 7 games and have lost 4 of their past 5 home games. Auston Matthews has 1 goal in his past 10 games. Nazem Kadri really needs to add some offense for the team; he has just 1 goal in his past 18 games and is too often a non-factor in games. Can’t expect Tavares and Marner to do more as they provide most of the offense for the team. Babcock said Monday night after the loss to Colorado everyone needs to be better including himself (getting the team better prepared to play). I thought the Avalanche were the hungrier team on Monday night and deserved the 2 points.
  • The game against the Lightning on Thursday in Tampa should be an excellent match-up. The Leafs play the next night against the Panthers in Sunrise before returning home to play Arizona on Sunday and Washington next Wednesday.
  • Back-up goaltender Michael Hutchinson did admirable work filling in for Freddy Andersen. In 5 Leafs games, Hutchinson recorded 2 W, 3 L with a 2.64 GAA and a .914 SV%. If Hutchinson plays one more game in the league this season (he’s played 9 so far), he will need to go through waivers to be sent to the AHL. I would guess the organization wants to hold onto him since they need the goaltending depth. Hutchison was returned to Marlies on Monday before the Leafs played Colorado.
  • Forward Mitch Marner has 12 goals in his past 13 games. I heard Babcock told him before Christmas to shoot more often. It was a good suggestion.
  • The Bruins are just 1 point back of the Leafs in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are 6-2 in their past 8 games. They really present a tough match-up for the Leafs.
  • John Tavares is on pace for 53 goals; his career high is 38 (in the 2014-15 season). The most goals in a season for a Leafs player is 54 (Rick Vaive in 1981-82). Tavares was first player from his 2009 draft class to record 300 goals. He’s has been everything the Leafs could have hope for in year one of his 8 year contract with Toronto. I believe he should be the captain of the Leafs.
  • No real news on the Matthews and Marner contract negotiations. I heard this week that Marner does not want to be in negotiations during the season preferring to wait until season’s end. It was also reported Marner prefers that the Matthews deal gets done first. Marner wants a deal relative to a Matthews per year salary. A ballpark estimate for Marner as a per season salary is about $9 M – $10 M / season with Matthews getting a slightly higher per season salary.
  • The team signed forward Trevor Moore to a 2 year contract. It’s $750,000 in 2019-20 and $800,000 for 2020-21. It’s a one way contract for both seasons. Good depth signing for the team at a reasonable price.

Ducks

  • The Ducks have lost 11 straight games (0-7-4). GM Bob Murray released a statement Sunday after the loss to the Jets saying he’s not firing head coach Randy Carlyle. Murray is known for preferring not to let coaches go mid-season. The team has a tough upcoming schedule as 9 of their next 10 games are on the road.
  • The Ducks are last in the league in goals for per game with an average of 2.43 per game.
  • The Ducks traded veteran forward Andrew Cogliano for Dallas Stars forward Devin Shore. Two struggling teams looking to change the mix of their group. Shore is 7 years younger than Cogliano but has not produced enough offensively in Dallas this season. In 42 games, Shore has 5 goals and 12 assists. He was to be a second or third line center for the Stars. Cogliano is a really hard working, fast player with 900 NHL games to his credit. He generally kills penalties but does not put up many points. Ducks GM Bob Murray indicated recently he wants to turn over the Ducks roster a bit and bring in younger players.
  • Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg is a UFA at season’s end and the organization is interested in re-signing him but initial attempts to get a contract done were unsuccessful. Murray said even in the team’s current losing skid, Silfverberg has been one of the team’s better players. The GM said he going to make a new attempt to get a contract done with Silfverberg.

Oilers

  • There is a lot of pressure on the Oilers to make the post-season and they are tied for the final wild card spot in the West currently but are 3-9 in their past 12 games. Apparently, the edict from ownership is to get into the post season. The organization is looking around the league for scoring help as McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Alex Chiasson have accounted for 72% of all their goals this season (no depth scoring among the forward group).
  • Defenseman Darnell Nurse has stepped up in Oscar Klefbom’s absence to be the team’s number one defenseman. Klefbom (broken finger) is expected back soon / after the All-Star break but Nurse is playing 30 minutes a game. In his past 19 games, Nurse has recorded 17 points.
  • Connor McDavid has 22 points in his last 11 games (9 G & 13 A).
  • Forward Milan Lucic has 3 goals in his past 4 games after 2 in his previous 88. Everyone hopes Lucic can get back to producing some offense. He’s had a terrible time being productive the past year and a half.
  • I believe goaltender Cam Talbot, a pending UFA, is on the way out of Edmonton. Finn goaltender Mikko Koskinen (also a pending UFA) has taken over as the team’s number one. This season Talbot has a 9-13 record with a .896 SV% and a 3.17 GAA. Talbot has a modified no trade clause in his contract whereby he submits a list of 10 teams he would be open to playing for.

Dallas

  • There is also a lot of pressure in Dallas for the team to make the post-season. The Stars CEO Jim Lites spoke out just after Christmas saying stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have played “like horse s**t” this season. I heard Seguin interviewed and he said the two players were not happy with how they were publicly ripped. Benn is definitely the leader of the team, and captain, but his play this season has not been on par with a player making $9.5 M/season. Benn has 33 points after 45 games, on pace for a 59 point season (he had 79 points last season). Benn has been to the post-season just twice in his 9 1/2 year career. The Stars team owner said recently that if the team misses the post-season there will be big changes. Benn has 6 more seasons left on his contract after this season at $9.5 M /season and may not be easy to move as he’s not having a strong season. Plus, he turns 30 in the summer and a lot of the high-end stars are a lot younger than in the past.
  • Coach Jim Montgomery and GM Jim Nill recently talked about how they can’t seem to get a motivated group on a consistent basis. The team will have a few good games and then the team gets complacent. I believe the Cogliano trade was just as much about shaking up their dressing room and work ethic as on ice play.
  • On a positive note, goaltender Ben Bishop has had a good season with a .922 SV% and a 2.39 GAA as the team’s starter.
  • Injuries for the Stars include Martin Hanzal (back; not skating), Marc Methot (knee; not skating and has played in just 9 games this season), Stephen Johns (neck/headaches; has not played this season).

Streaks & Milestones

  • Jets Patrik Laine is just the 7th player to record 3 seasons of 25+ goals before his 21st birthday.
  • The Islanders are 13-6-1 since December 1st. Goaltender Robin Lehner is 9-2-1 over that stretch.
  • Blue Jackets head coach John Torterella reached the 600 win mark. He has the most wins of any USA-born coach. Torts also tied the Blue Jackets franchise record (with Ken Hitchcock) for most games coached with 284.
  • Blues David Perron has an active 11 game point streak going. He’s recorded 5 goals and 9 assists over the 11 games. It’s the longest current point streak in the league. Perron recorded 16 goals last season with Vegas and already has 16 this season.
  • Sharks center Joe Thornton will skate in his 1,000 career game this Tuesday in a game against the Penguins at the Shark Tank/SAP Center. With the Sharks franchise, Thornton has recorded 994 points in 999 games (237 G, 757 A).
  • Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, 23, recently played in his 100th career game. Bertuzzi recorded a hat trick in the game. He now has 13 goals and 12 assists in 45 games this season. Tyler is the nephew of former NHL’er Todd Bertuzzi.
  • Jets forward Bryan Little recorded his 500th career point this past week. Little is also one game from playing in his 800th career game. He’s quietly had a very good career in the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise.
  • Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik played in his 1,000 career game on Monday night. Orpik is the 3rd player from his 2000 year draft class to reach 1,000 career games.
  • Vegas forward Alex Tuch has an active 9 game point streak going (3 G & 8 A). It’s the longest point streak in franchise history. Tuch, 22, leads the Golden Knights in points with 37 on 15 goals after 45 games. GM George McPhee, wisely, signed the player to a 7 year extension that takes effect next season at a reasonable rate of $4.75 M /season.
  • Sean Couturier recorded his 300th career point on Saturday. He reached the milestone after 542 career games (.55 PPG).
  • Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland because the first Coyotes rookie to score a goal in 4 straight games since Teemu Selanne did in 1993.
  • Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin has scored 4 OT goals this season setting a new Blue Jackets record. Heard Panarin’s agent and the Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plan to meet at the Jan. 26 All-Star game in San Jose. Panarin is a UFA in the summer and the ‘Jackets really want to retain him. I believe the team is ready to move on from their other high profile UFA, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

Retirements

  • Former Bruins/Rangers/Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash announced his retirement. Nash holds the record for most goals, assists and points for a Blue Jackets forward. Overall, Nash recorded 805 points in his career (437 goals, 368 assists) in 1,060 games (15 seasons). He has recorded the most points of any player from his 2002 draft class.
  • Former Canadiens/Sabres defenseman Josh Georges also announced his retirement. Georges was never drafted and went on to play 13 NHL seasons (783 games).

Odds & Ends

  • The Sabres are 6-11-4 in their past 21 games after going 17-6-2 in their first 25 games. They are currently sitting out of a playoff position.
  • Predators depth forward Colton Sissons has set a career high with 10 goals this season. Sissons has been filling in for injured Kyle Turris as the ‘Preds second line center.
  • Haven’t heard anything on Jeff Skinner’s negotiation with the Sabres. Skinner is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. Skinner has scored 30 goals in 45 Sabres games this season. It’s the 4th time in his 9 year career he’s reached the 30 goal mark and the first Sabres player since Jason Pominville did in the 2011-12 season. I heard some talk that Skinner’s asking price per season could be as much as $9 M.
  • Montreal is currently the only team without one of their players scheduled to appear in the 2019 All-Star game. There is a chance the Canadiens do have a player at the game as injuries can happen between now and the January 26th game.
  • Jeff Skinner, Kris Letang, Leon Draisaitl and Gabe Landeskog were voted in to the All-Star game as “Last Men In” (voted on by fans). Not having Leafs Morgan Rielly at the All-Star game is a crime; he’s had an incredible season.
  • Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit is 9-1-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .939 SV% this season. He’s recorded a win in his past 6 starts. Brossoit is making the league minimum, $650,000, this season.
  • Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has found a new job. Francis has joined a Raleigh-based organization called “NAI Carolantic Realty”. Francis will work with clients on their commercial real estate investments. Francis, 55, preferred to stay in Raleigh and is friends with NAI’s Executive Chairman who hired him for the new role.
  • The Hurricanes have won 7 of their past 8 games and 5 points out of a playoff position. The ‘Canes have a league-leading 9 year playoff drought.
  • The Canucks are 4-4-1 without their franchise player, Elias Pettersson. Pettersson has been skating and is expected back very soon. Pettersson will for sure win the Calder trophy as the league’s top rookie. The last player to win the Calder as a Vancouver Canuck was Pavel Bure in the 1991-92 season.
  • Alex Ovechkin is now 14th all-time in goals scored with 640 career goals. Ovi is 6th all-time in PP goals with 237. Ovi is additionally 7 points from tying Sergei Fedorov for most points for a Russian born player.
  • Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has 75 points in his team’s first 45 games. The last time a player had as many points after 45 games was Mario Lemieux in 1997.
  • Many fans in Canada are hoping this is the year a Canadian-based team wins the Cup. It hasn’t happened in 26 years (Montreal won in 1993).
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