NHL News & Notes to 05 Feb 2019

League

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

Seattle

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

GM & Coaches

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

Trade Scuttlebutt

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

Playoff Races

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

Transactions

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

Ducks

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

Leafs

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

Oilers

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

Streaks & Milestones

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

Signings

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

Trade

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

Odds & Ends

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