NHL News & Notes to 18 Feb 2019

There is a lot going on around the league especially with the Monday, February 25th (3 PM EST) trade deadline just 7 days away.

League-related

  • The NY Islanders announced their first round post-season games will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and subsequent rounds will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The team played their final regular season game in Brooklyn on Saturday (they are 12-6-2 there this season) against the Oilers and play their remaining 12 regular season games on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum. The team is 6-1-2 at Nassau Coliseum this season.

Seattle

  • The new Seattle franchise has hired Todd Humphrey as Senior Vice President of Digital & Fan Experience. Article here. Seems Humphrey has a really strong tech-related background.

GM & Coaching News

  • Ducks GM Bob Murray took over from Randy Carlyle as the team’s head coach. Murray will coach the rest of this season and name a permanent head coach in the summer. Dallas Eakins, the head coach of the Ducks AHL affiliate the San Diego Gulls, is the front runner for Ducks job. The Gulls are in a playoff battle and it seems as though Murray preferred to keep Eakins involved in San Diego instead of promoting him now. Murray has coached the past 3 Ducks games and has a 2-1 record.
  • Minnesota Wild AGM Tom Kurvers is unwell, he was recently diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. Kurvers, 56, is in his first season as GM Paul Fenton’s assistant. He had been with the Tampa Bay Lightning front office for 10 seasons before joining the Wild. Kurvers is from Minnesota and played college hockey at University of Minnesota where he won a Hobey Baker award as the top player in college hockey.
  • Hall of Fame forward Mike Modano has been seen with the Wild management people at games recently fueling speculation he will be taking a front office job with the organization. Modano currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and 4 young children but it was reported on the weekend Modano would re-locate to Minnesota to assume a role such as President of Hockey Operations. Nothing official has been announced by the team.
  • Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau recently coached his 900th career game. Boudreau is the 9th active coach to reach the milestone and the 35th all-time. The other day in a radio interview, Boudreau guaranteed that the Wild will make the post-season. They are currently in a wildcard spot (by one point with 3 teams within a point of them) and I believe it could go down to the final few regular season games to determine who makes the post-season. Some people wonder about Boudreau’s future since he wasn’t hired by Fenton and the roster is going to be revamped as soon as this summer.
  • San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer coached his 800th career game on Sunday night against Boston. DeBoer has a 389-303-108 record in his coaching career. He’s is 9th among active coaches in games coached. San Jose has won 7 of their past 9 games and star defenseman, Erik Karlsson, has missed the past 3 weeks with a groin injury. He back playing now but the team gave him all the time he needed to heal since the team is playing so well right now. The Sharks and Flames are in a battle for top spot in the Western Conference. As of Monday night, the Flames have a one point lead on the Sharks.
  • The Sabres are 6 points from an Eastern Conference wild card spot. If the Sabres miss the post season, it will be 8 straight seasons of no playoffs in Buffalo.

Trade Deadline Scuttlebutt

  • There are a lot of names being mentioned as possibly being moved at Monday’s trade deadline.
  • In Minnesota, new GM Paul Fenton has been given the green light from ownership to start to re-tool their roster and get younger. The Wild are the oldest team in the league. Part of the reason Fenton was hired in the summer, and Chuck Fletcher let go, is the Wild could not get past the first round of the post-season and ownership wants a championship caliber team. Forward Mikael Granlund (14 G & 34 A) is supposedly available. Granlund is a summertime UFA and making $1.475 M this season. He’d be a good addition for any post-season bound team as he’s on a good contract and puts up points. The team acquiring him would be paying a pro-rated salary, 30 games left at $1.475 M. Forward Eric Staal, 34, is a pending UFA but has a 10 team no trade list in his contract. Staal reportedly wants to stay with the Wild but I believe he’ll be traded. Forwards Charlie Coyle is available as well as Jason Zucker and defenseman Jonas Brodin.
  • Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds is expected to be traded. In 57 games played this season, Simmonds has recorded 16 goals and 9 assists plus 69 penalty minutes. He has speed and strength but has slowed down some as he’s had a number of injuries the past few seasons. I’ve heard Simmonds name linked to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall is a unrestricted free agent in the summer but he is not expected to be traded. Kronwall has played in 930 career games, all with the Red Wings organization, and the team values his ability to be a role model and mentor particularly to the team’s young defenseman. Kronwall was unsure prior to the start of the 2018-19 season if this would be his final season but he’s had a good campaign and indications are that he’ll be back in 2019-20.
  • Wings forward Gustav Nyquist (15 G, 33 A for 48 points) is a pending UFA but has a no trade clause in his contract. It’s unclear if he is willing to waive it.
  • The agent for Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has started negotiations with the team on a new contract. Skinner is a UFA at season’s end and it appears as though he wants to re-sign with the Sabres. He’s 3rd in the league in goals with 36 in 58 games and has good chemistry with the Sabres young star, Jack Eichel. Skinner has a full no trade clause in his contract and reports indicate he won’t be moved at the trade deadline.
  • Experts suggest it’s likely Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is traded. Panarin just last week dropped his long time Russia-based agent Dan Milstein (who represents Kucherov, Nikita Zaitsev & others) and has signed up with Sergei Bobrovsky’s agent, Paul Theofanous (who is based in NYC). Some people are linking both Bobrovsky and Panarin to the Florida Panthers but this would be for the start of next season since Florida won’t make the playoffs. Panthers have used James Reimer and Roberto Luongo this season but Luongo is 39 years old now so Florida is definitely in the market for a starting goaltender. I’ve heard Bobrovsky wants a Carey Price type contract, i.e. $10 M a season on a long-term deal. The Jackets are not interested in re-signing him at that price. He could stay with the Jackets for the post-season since he has a full no-move clause but will be on a different team next season. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalianen has apparently asked team to pitch offers for Panarin and the Blue Jackets will take the top return for the player. I’ve heard they prefer players with possible term on their contract that can help them now and in the upcoming post-season. There is pressure in Columbus to win since the team has never won a playoff series despite having good teams. The Dallas Stars are one team that I’ve heard have definite in Panarin as they need scoring help. The Stars have scored the 3rd least number of goals this season.
  • The Senators are reportedly looking to trade forward Matt Duchene (27 G & 29 A) with a number of teams interested (Nashville, Columbus, Winnipeg & NY Islanders) but the team wants to get forward Mark Stone re-signed. Both Stone and Duchene are summer time UFA’s. Stone reportedly wants a bonus-laden contract, similar to how Auston Matthews got most of his money in July 1 signing bonuses and the team is trying to accommodate him. Senators GM Pierre Dorian has been attending Winnipeg Jets games recently as the Jets are interested in acquiring one of Stone or Duchene. Duchene has the $8 M /season * 8 year deal on the table which to me seems like a generous offer. Duchene is putting up points very consistently this season, he has 44 points in his past 35 games (23 G, 21 A). Senators owner Eugene Melynk has indicated the Senators plan to spend to the cap starting in the 2021 season but there is pressure on Dorian now to get good return for these UFA players.
  • Mark Stone has also been linked to Calgary (and strongly to Winnipeg) but I doubt a deal will be done with the Flames. GM Brad Treliving has said because the team has had such a strong season, they are currently first in the Western Conference, they don’t want to change up their team chemistry too much. The one need they are reportedly trying to address is experience on their blueline. They have 4 defenseman that are age 22 or younger and are looking to add some post-season experience to the back-end. I’ve not heard names of who the team may be looking to acquire.
  • Another Senators forward that is a pending UFA is forward Ryan Dzingel. He has recorded 43 points in 56 Senators games this season on 22 goals. Reports indicate the Senators are not going to let Stone, Duchene and Dzingel all get away.
  • The Jets reportedly want a top six winger. Some people wondered if they’d go after a number 2 center; Bryan Little is in that spot currently but the talk is that they are comfortable with Little at the #2 C (Paul Stastny was brought in last season) but want more scoring on the wings.
  • Canadiens forward Charles Hudon (31 GP 3 G, 2 A) wants a trade from Montreal and the team is trying to move him. GM Marc Bergevin is reportedly asking for a mid-round pick for Hudon. The player had 30 points last season on 10 goals but has struggled this season.
  • Rangers forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are both expected to be traded by the deadline. Hayes (42 points in 49 games) has been clear that his preference is to remain a NY Ranger but he’s a pending UFA. Some suggest he’ll be traded and could possibly re-sign with the Rangers on July 1, 2019. Another NY Ranger that is a pending UFA is defenseman Adam McQuaid. He is expected to also be traded. I’ve heard the Leafs linked to McQuaid. The player is 6’4 and 210 pounds and before this season had been with the Bruins for 8 seasons. He’s been paired with the offensively talented Brady Skjei this season with the Rangers and is playing about 17 minutes/game. He has 4 points on the season. McQuaid, 32, is making $2.75 M on the final year of his deal.
  • The Boston Bruins are another team looking for scoring help. Their leading goal scorer David Pastrnak broke his thumb the other day and is out a minimum of 2-3 weeks. GM Don Sweeney indicated Pastrnak did require surgery on the thumb. The Bruins tried to land Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer so there maybe some interest as LA has made him available.
  • Devils forward Marcus Johansson is expected to be moved at the trade deadline (another pending UFA). Johansson has 11 points in his past 10 games and 20 in his past 28 games.
  • The NY Islanders entire top line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle are all UFA’s. GM Lou Lamoriello has not indicated which way he’s leaning with the players but the Islanders will be in the post-season. Some contract talks have occurred between the team and captain Anders Lee but none with Nelson or Eberle. Goaltender Robin Lehner (18-9-4 with a 2.08 GAA and a .929 SV%) is also a UFA. Lamoriello is noted for not discussing a lot about possible moves with his teams.
  • Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is hoping to add a goal scorer by the trade deadline. Nill indicates he’s willing to trade for a pending UFA as the team needs depth scoring. Nill indicated there are a bunch of teams looking for the same thing – players that can score and put up points – but the trade market is still not really set and won’t be until 2-3 days before the Monday deadline.
  • Vegas is another team looking to add. They are reportedly also looking for scoring help and possibilities include Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, etc. Their top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith combined for 213 points last season while this season they are on pace for 152 so there has been a drop off. The team felt their lack of post-season scoring, particularly in the Cup final, cost them last season so they don’t want a repeat of that. The team has taken part in just two entry drafts so there has not been a lot of time to add skill to the roster but their hockey management group wants to expedite the process of adding skill via the trade route.
  • Colorado also wants to add scoring but not they are not willing to part with any of their 5 picks in the first 3 rounds – including Ottawa’s first rounder which could be a first or second overall selection.
  • The Oilers traded Ryan Spooner to Vancouver for Sam Gagner. Gagner really wanted to get back in the league after being loaned by the Canucks to the AHL Toronto Marlies. Gagner has next year left on his contract at $3.15 M and Spooner also has next season left at $4 M but the Rangers are paying $900 K of Spooner’s salary. Spooner was practicing on a Canucks line with Boeser and Elias Pettersson and slotted onto the Canucks second PP unit in Sunday’s practice which is a big step up from being in the AHL which is where he was before the recent trade.
  • Florida will probably move newly acquired forward Derick Brassard as he’s a pending UFA. I heard he could end up back in Columbus where he started his career.

Hot Teams

  • The Blues has suddenly won 10 straight games and are 3rd in the Central. Experts who’ve watched them say it’s not a fluke and the team has finally found their game.  Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington now has a 12-1-1 record and has won 8 straight starts while recording 4 shutouts since Jan. 7th. Binnington, a Blues 3rd round 2011 draft pick on the team, had been playing in the AHL until his recall on December 9, 2018. He’s on a two way contract making the league minimum of $650,000 this season. Forward Vlad Tarasenko is on a 12 game point streak where he’s recorded 11 goals and 22 points. The team has shutout their opponent in 3 straight games. Since Craig Berube took over as interim head coach on November 19, 2018, the Blues are 24-13-2. Seems probable that Berube will have the “interim” tag removed from his title for next season.
  • Chicago are 9-1-0 in their past 10 games and are tied with the Canucks and Colorado one point back of the final wildcard spot in the West.
  • Tampa leads the league in points by 15 and are on pace for a 128 point season. They’ve won 45 of their first 60 games this season. That ties a record for the most wins through a teams first 60 games in NHL history. They are 8-0-2 in their past 10 games. Leading Hart trophy candidate Nikita Kucherov is on fire with 18 points in his past 5 games. He’s set a new Lightning assist record with 70 assists so far on the season. Kucherov has an incredible 9 point lead on 2nd place Patrick Kane and a 16 point lead over 3rd place, Connor McDavid, for the scoring title. Myself I don’t see any team being able to beat the Lightning this season. They’ve been dominate since the season started.

Stadium Series

  • The Flyers and Penguins are playing an outdoor game this Saturday (February 23 at 8 PM). It’s called the “2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field”. Lincoln field is the home of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles.

Streaks & Milestones

  • ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane has an active 17 game point streak going. It’s the 3rd longest point streak in NHL history (Gretzky 23 games and Adam Oates 18 games) and longest in Blackhawks team history. Stan Mikita had held the record with a point in 15 straight games back in 1967. In the 17 games, Kane has recorded 40 points (14 G & 26 A). Panthers Mike Hoffman also had a 17 games point streak this season. Kane has 90 points this season which places him 2nd in the league in points. He’s on pace for 123 points.
  • Montreal captain Shea Weber played in his 900th career game last Thursday against Nashville. Weber has recorded 198 goals and 324 assists for 522 points in the 900 games. The Habs captain is known league-wide for his physically intimidating style and strong leadership skills.
  • Vegas veteran defenseman Deryk Engelland recently played in his 600th NHL game.
  • Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard recently played in his 500th career game. Howard, 34, is an off-season UFA. I’ve not heard if he’ll be moved by the trade deadline.
  • Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler became leader in both games played (595) & assists (205) for a Ducks defenseman on Sunday in a game against Washington. Fowler, 27, is just 3 points away from tying Scott Niedermayer as the leader in Ducks franchise points for a defenseman (264 points). Forward Ryan Getzlaf also reached a Ducks franchise milestone when he played in his 968th game. It’s the most games played with the Ducks in franchise history.
  • The Ducks retired Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer’s #27 before Sunday’s game against Washington. The Ducks also retired Paul Kariya’s #9 earlier this season. The organization is celebrating their 25th season in the league.
  • ‘Hawks forward Chris Kunitz played in his 1,000 game this week. Kunitz has the most Stanley Cups of any active player with 4.
  • Hurricanes Teuvo Teravainen recently recorded his 200th career point (after 335 games, .60 PPG)
  • Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 12-0-2  with 2 shutouts in his past 15 starts. Rask has not lost in regulation since December 23rd.
  • Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin recently played in his 300th career game. Dumoulin plays 21 mins/game on the Penguins blueline and is in the top 2 in the league in plus/minus. He’s a strong defensive-minded d partner for Kris Letang.
  • Letang recently became the franchise all-time leader in goals scored with 109. He surpassed Paul Coffey who had 108 goals in 331 Penguins games. Letang reached the 109 goal mark after 736 Penguins games. Letang is now the Penguins franchise leader in defenseman games played, goals, assists and points – in both the regular season and playoffs.
  • Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson recently played in his 500th career game. A 2008 draft pick by the organization, Atkinson has played his entire career with the Blue Jackets.
  • Sharks Joe Thornton recently moved into 9th place all-time in assists with 1,050 career assists. Thornton surpassed Gordie Howe who is 10th in all-time assists with 1,049. Joe is currently 15th all-time in points with 1458 points.
  • Sharks captain Joe Pavelski recently recorded his 30th goal and 400th career assist. Only Joe Thornton (764) and Patrick Marleau (574) have more assists with the Sharks organization. Pavelski has now recorded 5 career 30 goal seasons. He is a pending UFA. I hope the Sharks can re-sign him as he’s their captain and has been an excellent player for their organization.
  • Capitals forward TJ Oshie recently recorded his 500th career point (205 goals and 295 assists).
  • Predators forward Filip Forsberg became the first player in Predators franchise history to record five 20 goal seasons.
  • Flyers franchise cornerstone, 20 year old goaltender Carter Hart, is 10-1-0 in his last 11 appearances. Hart is scheduled to play Tuesday night against the Lightning who are the top offensive team in the league.
  • Phil Kessel recently recorded his 800th career point. He’s a .82 PPG player in over 900 career games.
  • Flames defenseman Mark Giordano has set a new career high in points with 57. Gio is tied with Leafs Morgan Rielly for 2nd the league in defenseman points. Sharks Brent Burns leads all defenseman with 65 points.
  • Capitals defenseman John Carlson reached the 300 career assists milestone. He’s the 3rd Capitals defenseman to reach the 300 assist mark. Calle Johnsson 361 assists & Scott Stevens 331 assists are the others.
  • Sabres eighteen year old rookie – and first overall draft pick in 2018 – Rasmus Dahlin has recorded 32 points in 58 games on 20 mins of ice / game. Only Phil Housley (57 points) and Bobby Orr (38 points) have recorded more points (in league history) as an 18 year old defenseman.
  • LA Kings forward Dustin Brown recorded his 600th career point on Monday night against the Capitals. Brown, 34, has played in 1094 career games.

Leafs

  • The Leafs wrap up their 6 game road trip on Tuesday against the hottest team in the league, the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have won 10 straight games. Coach Babcock said he’s liked the way his team has played on the trip (3 W & 2 L so far) with the exception of the game against the Coyotes. It was the teams 5th game in 8 nights in 3 different time zones on the road but the players did not want to blame fatigue as the reason for the loss. Defenseman Morgan Rielly noticed the Coyotes clogged the neutral zone and the Leafs got a bit frustrated. I’d bet the team wants to finish the trip strong with a win in St. Louis on Tuesday night. It should be a good match-up.
  • Mitch Marner is one point (69) from a new career high in points with 30% of the regular season remaining. He has already this season surpassed his career high (48) in assists. Marner is also one point shy of 200 career points (217 games). I recently heard his agent interviewed and he indicated they are sticking to their plan to wait until the off-season to discuss a new contract. The agent stepped back from his prior comments where he said Mitch is being “low balled” by the Leafs. The agent says his comments were taken out of context.
  • Babcock broke up the Muzzin/Rielly pairing as it was not a good fit particularly for Rielly. He is apparently a better player on the left side. Babcock didn’t like the way the Muzzin/Rielly pairing were breaking out of the d zone plus the coach said Rielly is able to get more offence going and shots through from his natural left side. Rielly also added he’s more comfortable on the left side. Veteran Ron Hainsey has moved back to the top pairing with Rielly. Morgan is on pace to be the first Leafs defenseman to average a point a game since Borje Salming back in 1976-77. A lot of people would like to see the 24 year old win his first Norris as league’s top defenseman. I think it would be awesome from the point of view of the player was a first round draft pick of their organization (5th overall in 2012) and has blossomed into one of the league’s top players as a member of the Leafs organization.
  • Defenseman Jake Gardiner spent the Monday off day in St. Louis visiting with former teammate Tyler Bozak. No word on where GM Dubas is at with discussing a possible extension for Gardiner in Toronto. It does seem more likely that Gardiner will be with a new team next season. Some believe Travis Dermott’s steady play makes Gardiner more expendable. Gardiner wants to remain a Leaf but as summer time UFA he should get very good offers from other teams plus the Leafs are in a bit of a cap crunch.
  • It was reported last week that GM Kyle Dubas and the agent for forward Kasperi Kapanen will meet very soon to discuss a new contract for the player who is a RFA in the summer. In 58 games this season, Kapanen has 18 goals and 18 assists. His speed is an incredible asset. I would bet he’s one of the fastest skaters in the league. As far as a new contract, I expect a shorter term as everyone is still seeing how good Kasperi can be at the NHL level. He’s supplanted Nylander as the winger with Matthews and Babcock said recently Kapanen will stay on a line with Auston until Nylander plays better.
  • The team is three points back of the Bruins with two  game in hand. It seems likely the Bruins and Leafs could meet again the first round of the post-season. The Bruins have won 6 straight games. The Leafs really need to get home ice in the first round of the post-season as I thought it was a big factor in last season’s series.
  • GM Kyle Dubas has reportedly told teams the organization’s last two first rounders, defenseman Rasmus Sandin (2018) & Timothy Liljegren (2017), are not available in trade.
  • Leafs have an impressive 20-2-0 record when leading after the first period and when leading after 2 periods, they are 27-0-0.
  • Matthews became the first Leafs player all-time to record 3 straight 25 goal seasons to start his career. He also became the 3rd fastest player to score 100 goals as a Leaf. The others:
    • Reg Noble 112 games
    • Charlie Conacher 162 games
    • Auston Matthews 187 games
  • Before suffering a leg injury in last Thursday’s game against Vegas, Andreas Johnsson had recorded 9 points in his past 6 games. After missing Saturday’s game against Arizona, I did hear Sunday that Johnsson was at practice which is good news. He was on the 3rd line with Kadri and Nylander.
  • Leafs are 9-1-0 on the road versus Western Conference opponents.
  • Forward Tyler Ennis played his first game in over a month against Arizona on Saturday. Ennis was recovering from a broken ankle. He had been ready to play for about a week before he got into a game as the team was playing so well there was no spot for him in the line-up.
  • After the Tuesday game in St. Louis, the Leafs return to Toronto to play 4 at home. Their upcoming home schedule is:
    • Thursday against Washington
    • Saturday against Montreal
    • Monday, Feb. 25 against Buffalo
    • Wed., Feb. 27th against the Oilers

Oilers

  • The team is 1-8-2 in their past 11 games and have scored 2 or more goals only twice in their past seven games. They are 7 points out of a wild card spot and 4 points from the league basement. They moved out pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot to Philadelphia for back-up Anthony Stolarz (4-3 with a 3.33 GAA & a .902 SV%). The move was cap-related as Stolarz is making $760,000 this season whereas Talbot was at $4.1 M. Defenseman Andrej Sekera has been recalled from the AHL after rehabbing his achilles so the Oilers needed cap space. Sekara has not played this season as he suffered the achilles injury in off-season training. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said the team is interested in getting Talbot into a few of the team’s 24 remaining games and possibly talk to him about signing with the team. The Flyers are now going with 20 year old goaltender Carter Hart. Talbot and Hart are apparently friends as Hart is from just outside of Edmonton and trains with Talbot in the summers.
  • Acting GM Keith Gretzky recently said he’s working in consultation with CEO Bob Nicholson, head pro scout Duane Sutter and a few of the other Oilers pro scouts on all GM matters. No word on where the Oilers are at with interviewing for a permanent GM. Names mentioned as possible candidates include:
    • Former Leafs AGM Mark Hunter
    • Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon (Vegas GM McPhee does not want to part with McCrimmon mid-season though)
    • Former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr who is Executive Director of Player Personnel with the Bruins
  • Sportsnet reported Saturday that interim head coach Ken Hitchcock was told to try and be a bit more positive about things around the team. Hitch’s frustration shows sometimes and he can be hard on players. Apparently Hitchcock was considering stepping down but decided to stay on. The team would go with assistant coach Glen Gulutzan if Hitch were to move on.
  • Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 49 goals this season. The team has not had a player with 49 goals since Jimmy Carson back in the 1988-89 season (30 years ago).
  • The agent for forward Jesse Puljujarvi has indicated his client would prefer a trade from Edmonton. Puljujarvi has 9 points on 4 goals in 46 games this season though he’s recently been a healthy scratch. Puljujarvi was drafted 4th overall by the Oilers back in 2016.

Injuries

  • Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu’s suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus in his right knee and won’t play again this season. Koivu, 36, recently indicated he knows he has a tough rehab in front of him but he’s prepared and fully intends to play next season. Koivu is 27 games from playing in 1,000 career games – all with the Wild organization.
  • Carolina Hurricanes assistant captain Jordan Staal has started practicing with the team. Staal has been out of action since December with a concussion.
  • Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott was loaned to the team’s AHL affiliate to rehab an injury. Elliott, 33, in also a pending UFA but has not played in over 2 months due to injury.
  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has started practicing with the team again. He’s missed the past two months of game action after suffering another concussion. He indicated recently he’s feeling 100% and ready to play.

Odds & Ends

  • Penguins forward Bryan Rust has set a career high in goals with 16. Rust recorded just one goal in his first 28 games but has 14 in his past 28 games.
  • Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk leads his 2016 draft class with 154 points after 200 career games. Tkachuk has already set a career high in points this season with 57 points in 56 games though he has just one assist in his past 9 games. The Flames and Tkachuk’s agent are trying to work out a new contract for the pending RFA.
  • Jets forward Mark Scheifele is on pace for 43 goals. His previous career high in goals was 32 back in the 2016-17 season. Jets head coach Paul Maurice said Scheifele could be a future Jets captain (Blake Wheeler is the Jets current captain) and, further, Maurice believes Scheifele can have as good a career as Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman. Jets need to win in the post season for Scheifele to mentioned along side a 3 time Cup champion like Stevie Y in my view.
  • Red Wings star forward Dylan Larkin has already set a career high in goals this season with 24. The 22 year old Michigan native is expected to be named the Wings captain as soon as next season. He leads the team in points with 55 after 59 games.
  • Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo is one win away from tying Ed Belfour for 3rd all-time in wins for a goaltender. Luongo has 483 career wins. No word on if Luongo, 39, will play another season. I believe he’d only consider playing with the Panthers.
  • Another future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is the first goaltender all-time to make at least 40 appearances in his first 14 seasons.
  • Former player and Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg is getting into the player agent business. Forsberg has joined a group called “4Sports Hockey” in the capacity of part owner. Also with the group is former Avs teammate Claude Lemieux.
  • Chicago signed goaltender Colin Delia to a 3 year contract.
    • Year One: $750 K with a $400 K signing bonus
    • Year Two: $750 K
    • Year Three: $1.1 M
  • Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling was granted a personal leave of absence from the team. Darling was playing in the AHL trying to get his career back on track. He’s not had an easy time since signing a 4 year, $16 M contract with the Hurricanes back in the summer of 2016. He had been recently playing with the Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, where he had a 5-6 record with a 3.40 GAA and .882 SV%. Darling still collects $4.15 M for this season and 2 more to play in the AHL.
  • Los Angeles Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf has recently been a healthy scratch and, when he does get into the line-up, he gets the least amount of ice time of all LA Kings defenseman, about 10-12 minutes/game. Phaneuf has recorded 4 points in 50 Kings games this season on one goal. I can’t see him back in LA next season – or possibly even in the NHL. The Kings would have to buy out his contract that has 2 years left at about $5 M /season (Ottawa is picking up the other $2 M /season).
  • Canucks rookie sensation Elias Pettersson became the fastest rookie to score 25 goals since Alex Ovechkin did in the 2005-06 season. Pettersson scored the 25 goals in 55 Canucks games. Pettersson could set a franchise record for goals in a players rookie season. He’s on pace for 38. The record for a Canucks rookie player is Pavel Bure with 34 in the 1991-92 season.
  • The Hurricanes and pending RFA, and leading scorer, Sebastian Aho plan to wait until the off-season to discuss a new contract. Aho, 21, has set a career high in assists and points this season. He leads the Hurricanes in points with 24 G, 43 A (67 points in 59 games).
  • Canucks forward Brock Boeser is the first Canucks forward to score 20+ goals in his first two seasons since Pavel Bure did in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 season.
  • Canucks first rounder defenseman Quinn Hughes, 19, is expected to sign and play with the team this season when his NCAA season concludes in March. Hughes was drafted 7th overall in the recent, 2018, entry draft. His numbers at U of Michigan this season are 26 GP, 4 G, 25 A with 16 PIMS.
  • San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane is on pace for a career high 37 goals this season. He has scored 10 goals in his past 12 games. Kane is in the first year of a 7 year, $49 M contract.
  • New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall is eligible to sign a new contract with New Jersey on July 1, 2019. Next season is the final year of his 7 year deal he signed with the Oilers and he’ll then be a UFA. Hall has the same agent as Mitch Marner. Hall, through his agent, has indicated he is interested in signing long term with the Devils. I expect the player would cost NJ about $10 M / season on a long term deal as he was the league MVP last season. He’s missed the past 20 Devils games with some sort of leg injury that he suffered in practice.
  • Washington Capitals enforcer Tom Wilson has set a new career high in goals with 15. Wilson is in the first season of a 6 year, $5.167 M /season deal. This is the same type of contract that Hurricanes tough forward Micheal Ferland of the Hurricanes is hoping to get. Ferland is a pending UFA. He has 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 50 games played. Wilson has 15 goals and 13 assists in 40 games played.
  • Alex Ovechkin has recorded his 10th forty goal season. Only Gretzky (12), Marcel Dionne (10) and Mario Lemieux (10) have recorded as many 40 goal seasons. Ovechkin has recorded at least 40 goals in 10 of his 13 career season. Definitely one of the greatest goal scorer the league has ever seen. Ovi also sits 6th all-time in power play goals with 241. He needs 5 PPG’s to catch Phil Esposito for 5th all-time.
  • Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has set a new Lightning franchise record with 18 career shutouts surpassing former Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (17 shutouts). Vasilevskiy is just 24 years old and has an incredibly bright future in the league.
  • Jets star forward Patrik Laine has just 1 goal in his past 20 games. He runs hot and cold like no other player though he still has 25 goals on the season. He’s needs a new contract before the start of next season (RFA). Some experts see a bridge deal for him since he’s so inconsistent.
  • Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat is newest up and coming star goal scorer in the league. He’s has 31 goals after 60 Hawks games this season and had 28 last season (his rookie season). In his career to date, that’s .42 goals per game. Laine in one more full season has a .49 goals / game. Laine is 20 years old and DeBrincat 21.
  • Avs forward Gabe Landeskog has set a new career high with 30 goals (after just 57 games). Avs coach Jared Bednar has recently split up with 3 star players – Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog – in an effort to balance the forward lines. The 3 stars had been playing together on the team’s top line.
  • Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller won his 375th career game on Sunday becoming the winningest USA-born goaltender all-time. The other winningest USA-born goaltenders after Miller are:
    • John Vanbiesbrouck 374 wins
    • Tom Barrasso 369 wins
    • Jonathan Quick 304 wins
    • Mike Richter 301 wins
  • Once new Flyers goaltender Cam Talbot gets into a game, it will set a new league record for most goaltenders used by one team in a season (8).
  • Devils goaltender Cory Schneider has won 2 straight decisions after going 0-17-4 since December 2017.
  • Sabres Sam Reinhart has already surpassed his career high in points this season. He previous career high in points was 50 which he recorded last season. He already has 51 points after 58 Sabres games. Reinhart was drafted 2nd overall in 2014.
  • There are 7 players on pace for 100+ points this season (Kucherov, Patrick Kane, McDavid, Rantanen, MacKinnon, Brayden Point and Marchand). Last season there were 3 players (McDavid, Giroux & Kucherov) with 100+ points. Kucherov is on pace for 131 points. He’s played 6 games where he’s recorded at least 4 points in a game.
  • The NY Islanders are on pace for 107 points, a 27 point increase over last season. The team leads the league in shutouts with 7 and they’ve allowed the fewest goals of any team this season.
  • The Lightning are the first team with 3 players with 70+ points after 60 games since the 1995-96 Penguins. The Lightning lead the Atlantic Division by 16 points.
  • Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has appeared in 51 of Vegas’ 60 games this season. It’s the most work of any goaltender. Fleury leads the league in wins but the team may need to get him some rest down the stretch.
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