NHL News & Notes to 18 Mar 2019. Ten games remain in reg season.

League-related

  • The Draft Lottery will be held Tuesday, April 9th in Toronto. It’s the evening before the post-season starts and it’s 3 weeks earlier than the lottery was held last season. Here is some info about the draft lottery. Basically the 3 worst teams are represented by lottery balls (the logo is on the ball) and the first ball selected represents the team with the 3rd overall draft pick, the second ball selected is the 2nd overall pick and the remaining ball (with a team logo on it) gets to select first overall. Michigan native Jack Hughes, who has recorded 40 points on 10 goals in 20 games this season playing for the USA National Development program, is expected to go first or second overall and suppose to have high-end offensive skills. Jack Hughes brother, Quinn a defenseman, went 7th overall in 2018 to Vancouver and there is a 3rd brother who is expected to be drafted to the NHL.
  • NHL in China / Pre-season games
    • I heard the Blue Jackets are one team that will be going to China for pre-season games for the 2019-20 season.
  • NHL Global Series
    • The Flyers will play the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague to open the 2019-20 season.
  • The league and players association are apparently having ongoing meetings but I’ve not heard many details about what the content of the meetings are. I did hear around mid-season that discussions were characterized as “cordial & positive”.
  • GM meetings update:
    • The GM’s discussed the idea of having a one minute penalty in OT but there was not enough support so no change. The GM’s apparently like the idea that more games are settled in OT and not the shootout.
    • The GM’s are recommending a new rule where a player must immediately go to their player bench if they lose their helmet during play. I believe the Board of Governors has to approve this rule change but all indications are that they’ll go with the GM’s recommendation.
  • Predators Austin Watson has been reinstated by the league after completing the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program. The NHL released a kind statement about it says they wish him well and will be not commenting further on the matter.
  • Seems the New York Islanders will split their home games next season between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

Hockey Canada

  • Calgary-based Hockey Canada announced OHL London Knights GM Mark Hunter was appointed to the Program of Excellence management team to oversee the World Junior team for Canada and the under-20 program. Apparently, there is an out in Hunter’s deal if he takes an NHL GM position.

GM & Coaching

  • Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer has reportedly signed a contract extension with the team. The deal is believed to be for 2-3 years but the Sharks are apparently waiting until their season concludes to announce the deal.
  • Sportsnet reported this week that Leafs assistant coach DJ Smith is getting interest as a possible head coach in the league. Also with the Leafs, the organization is close to signing the AHL Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe to a new contract that would make him the highest paid AHL coach. Keefe reportedly has an out in the contract if there is an NHL opportunity.
  • The Oilers search for a new GM is ongoing and is reportedly still in the discovery stage. Some names being talked about:
    • Kelly McCrimmon – Vegas AGM
    • Keith Gretzky – Oilers AGM
    • Mike Futa – Kings AGM (talk is LA wants the Oilers to wait until the season is over which is two weeks away for LA)
    • Possibly Ron Hextall – former GM with Flyers and AGM to Dean Lombardi when both were with LA
    • OHL London Knight GM Mark Hunter
  • Another name I’ve heard is Red Wings GM Ken Holland. There is some talk Lightning Special Adviser Steve Yzerman could be GM with the Red Wings (or President) effective next season. Holland, 63, has just the one year left on his contract and is apparently not ready to retire. Holland could possibly move into a President of Hockey Ops role with the Red Wings but this is just speculation.
  • Former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was interviewed the other day and said he’ll be looking to get back into an NHL head coaching position for next season. Coach Q is a high paid coach, believed to be making similar to what Leafs head coach Babcock makes, $6 M /season, and this could be a factor on which teams may have interest. Not all organizations want to pay as much for a head coach.
  • There was some concern expressed among the GM’s about the nets being dislodged and affecting goals. This is a new issue with the GM’s and something they don’t want to be an issue in the post-season. There have been some recent incidents were goalies were accidentally/on purpose pushing the nets off.
  • Islander head coach Barry Trotz seems to be a lock for the Coach of the Year award. The award is voted on by broadcasters. Trotz recently spoke about it & said his vote would go to Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.
  • Marc Crawford is the interim coach in Ottawa but it’s open for next season. GM Dorion is reportedly looking for a coach that can teach and develop young players.
  • Ducks GM Bob Murray has recorded 9 wins and 9 losses since taking over as Ducks head coach on February 9th. The head coach of their AHL affiliate, Dallas Eakins, is the front runner to take over as Ducks head coach next season but people expect GM Murray to do a full search and interview other candidates.
  • Willie Dejardins is the interim head coach in LA and reports indicate it could be him or former Oilers head coach Todd McLellan as LA’s bench boss next season.

Scuttlebutt

  • Devils forward Taylor Hall is reportedly recovering well from knee surgery. The team is expected to make a decision very soon whether he’ll play again this season. There are just 2 weeks left in the season and the Devils are not going to make the post-season. Hall is a UFA after next season but indications are that is wants to stay with the Devils.
  • The Penguins are reportedly very happy with Erik Gudbranson who they acquired from the Canucks for forward Tanner Pearson. Apparently, Gudbranson has been very steady while adding a more physical presence to the Pens blueline. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford acquired Gudbranson in part because the Pens were getting pushed around a bit in games.
  • Mark Stone’s 8 year contract at $9.5 M /season is official. The Golden Knights are 9-1 since the trade and Stone has recorded 4 goals, 4 assists for 8 points in the ten games. He made a very good Vegas team a lot better. Vegas really has to hope that their MVP goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury does not get injured in the post-season as they do not have any depth at the position. Fleury is currently leading the league in wins with 35.
  • Many fans think the current playoff format is not ideal. This view seems to shared by some key players & coaches as well. There does not seem to be an advantage to having a strong regular season when you meet a team within a few points of you in the first round of the post-season. The Atlantic Division has Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto – 3 of the league’s top 5 teams – and 2 of these teams could exit after round one. This is apparently a Board of Governors & NHLPA issue (it’s part of the CBA) but Commissioner Gary Bettman is on record as saying he likes the current format.

NCAA/College Player Signings

  • The Canucks signed Princeton defenseman Josh Teves who has recorded 20 points in 30 games in the NCAA this season to a one year deal.
  • Toronto signed defenseman Joseph Duszak who played at Mercyhurst U to a 2 year deal that is effective next season. Duszak recorded 47 points in 37 games in the NCAA this season. The player is joining the Marlies on a tryout as soon as this week.
  • The Senators signed forward Max Veronneau to a 2 year contract. Veronneau, 23, played at Princeton this season (he’s from the Ottawa area) where he recorded 37 points in 31 games. Veronneau has played 2 games with the Senators since signing and recorded an assist.
  • The Red Wings signed forward Taro Hirose who played this season at NCAA Michigan State. Hirose, 22, is from Winnipeg and this season recorded 50 points on 15 goals in 50 games for Michigan.
  • The Canucks signed their first round, 7th overall draft pick, defenseman Quinn Hughes to an entry level contract. Hughes is currently injured with a bone bruise in his foot but hopes to get a few of the Canucks remaining 9 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • The Lightning captured their first Presidents Trophy in franchise history on Monday night after 73 games. Since the trophy was first awarded in 1985-86, only one team has required fewer contests to win the trophy – that was the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings who needed just 71 games. The other interesting fact is no Eastern Conference team has won the President’s trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season since the 1994 New York Rangers. I was seeing it as Tampa’s year for sure but this fact shows that playoffs are an new season entirely.
  • Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov seems to be a lock for the Hart trophy for league MVP (most valuable to his team). Kucherov has recorded 117 points in 73 games (1.60 PPG) and leading the scoring race by 12 points. His 117 points this season are the most since 2006-07 when Sidney Crosby recorded 120 points and Joe Thornton had 114 points. Kucherov is on pace for 133 points. Additionally, Kucherov leads the league in multi point games with 34; it’s the most number of multi point games since Alex Ovechkin recorded 35 in the 2009-10 season. Kucherov will be the second Lightning player to win the Art Ross trophy, most regular season points, since Martin St.Louis did in 2012-13 (St. Louis also won it in 2003-04).
  • If Kucherov had no goals, he’d still be 13th in points in the league as he has 82 assists.
  • Tampa Bay has set a franchise record for most wins in a regular season with 55. They also tied their franchise record in road wins with 25 (the same number as last season).
  • Steven Stamkos has establish a new franchise record for all time goals in Lightning history with 384 goals. Vincent Lecavalier had held the record but Stamkos reached the new record in fewer games. Lecavalier has his jersey retired by the Lightning organization and Stamkos will as well when his career concludes.
    • Steven Stamkos: 384 goals in 737 games played (.52 goals / game)
    • Vinny Lecavalier: 383 goals in 1,037 games played (.37 goals / game)
  • Stamkos joins Ovechkin and Vegas’ William Karlsson as the only other active players that hold their franchises record for most goals.

Leafs

  • The team has lost 3 of their past 4 games and have allowed 23 goals against in the four games (only 2 of the goals against were when the team was on the PK). Seems the focus has turned to how to defend better. The team has a lot of offensively skilled forwards but obviously need to be better defensively. The team is falling behind to start games:
    • Lightning, down 4-0
    • ‘Hawks, down 5-0
    • Flyers, down 5-2
    • Senators, down 4-1
  • Since the start of 2019 in 33 games played, the Leafs have a record of 17-13-3 for 17th in the league so they’ve not excelled in the second half of the season.
  • Forward Kasperi Kapanen is reportedly nearing a return from a concussion. He has missed 4 games with the injury. It’s looking like Kapanen will play on a line with Kadri and Marleau (since Nylander has moved up to play with Auston Matthews). Freddy Gauthier is apparently injured (bruised foot) and will miss the next two games. Petan appears to be Gauthier’s replacement as the team’s 4th line center. Igor Ozhiganov appears to be going in on the 3rd d pairing with Martin Marincin. The team was working on their defensive positioning and defending chances off the rush – when the play quickly shifts from an offensive chance in the others teams d zone to turning to quickly defending the other team as they skate up ice.
  • Injured defenseman Travis Dermott (shoulder) and is about 2 weeks from returning while veteran defenseman Jake Gardiner has not been able to start skating which is concerning. No word on if Gardiner will be ready for the post-season. The team misses his ability to move the puck up ice from the d zone plus he has a lot of experience.
  • Forward Andreas Johnsson reached the 20 goal mark last week. Johnsson was a seventh round pick of the Leafs back in 2013 hence not much was expected of him. Forty points on 20 goals in 65 games is an excellent season for the player that in just his first full season in the league.
  • Defenseman Morgan Rielly is just the 3rd defenseman in Leafs history to record 20 goals in a season and the only defenseman in the league with 20. The others Leafs to reach 20 goals as a defenseman are Ian Turnbull in 1975-76 & again in 1976-77 and Al Iafrate in 1987-88 and 1989-90. Seems the leading candidates for the Norris trophy as top defenseman are Sharks Brent Burns (75 points), Morgan Rielly (68 points) and Flames Mark Giordano (67 points). All 3 players have had terrific seasons.
  • Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Mitch Marner is one of the smartest players the NHL has ever seen. Incredible compliment from the longest tenured NHL head coach.
  • The team lost it’s first game this season when leading after 2 periods recently when they lost in OT against Vancouver. They are now 32-0-1 when leading after 2. Seems getting a lead is important to their success.
  • Forward Auston Matthews recently played in his 200th career game. He’s recorded 193 points with 105 goals. It’s the same number of points as former Leafs Mats Sundin had after 200 games.
  • The team signed defenseman Andreas Borgman to a one year, two way contract for $700,000 at the NHL level. The contract is for the 2019-20 season. Some people see Borgman as a 7th defenseman/a player that plays when their are injuries on the back-end. Calle Rosen, also a defenseman, agreed to a 2 year one way contract for next season earlier this season at a rate of $750 K /season. Seems as though Rosen is ahead of Borgman on the team’s defense depth chart.
  • Apparently a two year extension for newly acquired 4th line forward Nic Petan is near.
  • John Tavares recently reached the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career. He also recently reached the 700 career points milestone (in 741 games).
  • The team has 10 games remaining as of March 18, 4 at home and 6 away. Their upcoming schedule looks like:
    • Tuesday the 19th at Nashville (playoff team)
    • Wednesday the 20th at Buffalo (non playoff team & 2-7-1 in this past 10 games)
    • Saturday the 23rd at home against the Rangers (non playoff team)
    • Monday the 25th against another non playoff team, Florida

Canucks

  • The Canucks have won just 6 games since Feb. 4 going 6-10-4 over that time. The team will miss the post-season for the forth straight season. The youth movement in Vancouver seems to be progressing well overall, though, as the team is second in the league in points from rookies with 14.7% of all points (the Senators league the league in points from rookies at 21.7%).
  • Rookie forward Elias Pettersson has set a new franchise record in rookie points with 61. Pavel Bure in the 1991-92 season recorded 60 points and Ivan Hlinka in 1981-82 season also had 60. Pettersson accomplished the record in just 62 games. Pettersson is expected to win the Calder trophy as the league top rookie player.
  • Defenseman Chris Tanev suffered a reported broken leg last week in a game against New Jersey and will not play again this season. Tanev, 29, will be a UFA after the 2019-20 season. He’s recorded 12 points on 2 goals this season. He has really struggled with injuries during his career and it affects his market value as a player. He’s played 53, 42 and 55 games in each of the past 3 seasons.
  • Agitating forward Antoine Roussel will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Roussel signed a 4 year deal with this Canucks this past off-season at $3 M /season. He set a new career high in points with 31 in 65 team games.
  • Forward Loui Eriksson was a healthy scratch last week for the first time in his career. The 33 year old forward has 22 points on 10 goals in 70 games played this season. Eriksson has 3 more years at $6 M left on his contract which has not worked out well for the team.
  • The team signed defenseman Jett Woo to an entry level contract. Woo is 6th in WHL defenseman scoring with 62 points in 61 games. Woo was the team’s 2nd round draft pick from 2018.
  • GM Jim Benning recently said he believes the organization is progressing well in developing their young players and they won’t be looking to sign a high price UFA on July 1 but possibly a veteran player or two that can support their young core group of players.

Oilers

  • Connor McDavid has recorded his 3 straight 100 point season. He joins Gretzky, Lemieux, Hawerchuk & Crosby as the only players age 22 or younger to record 3 straight 100 point seasons. McDavid is currently running a streak of 8 straight games where he’s recorded at least 2 points.
  • With McDavid at 105 points and Draisaitl at 91 points, it’s the first time since 1989-90 (Messier & Kurri) that the organization has had two 90+ point players. There was reports last week that even if the Oilers don’t make the post season, McDavid wants to remain in Edmonton. A reporter asked him about the GM search and he basically said “I play hockey and don’t hire anyone”. He seems to love to play the game and really enjoys playing with his close friend Leon Draisaitl. The organization just needs to surround him with a better supporting cast particularly with the forwards.
  • Forward Alex Chiasson, who’s playing with his 4th team in as many years, recently reached the 20 goal mark. Chiasson joined the Oilers on a professional tryout and made the team from training camp. Chiasson is entering another off-season of uncertainty as he’s a July 1, 2019 UFA.
  • I heard the Finnish National Team may consider Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen for the upcoming World Championships that start in late May in Slovkia. Former NHL player Jere Lehtinen is the team’s GM.

Milestones & Streaks

  • Capital tough forward Tom Wilson has set a career high in goals with 20 so far this season. Wilson’s previous high goal total was 14 which he recorded last season. Wilson is first year of a six year deal that pays him $5.17 M / season. Wilson leads the Capitals in penalty minutes with 101 minutes.
  • Caps forward Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1200th career point this past week. Ovi is just one of 14 players all-time that have recorded 650+ goals and 1,200+ points. Some experts believe he should get more MVP consideration. He has 48 goals with 11 team games remaining. If he gets 50 goals, it will be the 8th season he’s reached 50 goals (in a 14 year NHL career). Some people are starting to talk as though he is the greatest goal scorer the league has ever seen.
  • Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky set a new Columbus record in shut-outs with 30 (6 this season). The only goaltender with more shut-outs this season is Marc-Andre Fleury (8).
  • Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk recorded his 100th career assist recently. Tkachuk, 21, is a restricted free agent this summer and will reportedly be looking for about $8 M /season on a long-term deal. He has recorded 32 goals and 41 assists in 70 games this season.
  • Wild forward Jason Zucker recently played in his 400th career game, all with the Wild organization.
  • Arizona leads the league in shorthanded goals with 16. It’s the most number of shorthanded goals scored in a season since they’ve been in Arizona. Forward Michael Grabner has 5 of the goals even though he’s played in just 30 games this season.
  • Jets forward Mark Scheifele has set a new career high in goals with his 33rd of the season.
  • Evgeni Malkin reached the 1,000 point mark this past week. Malkin joins Mario Lemieux (1,723), Crosby (1,206) and Jagr (1,079) for Penguins that have reached the 1,000 point milestone. Malkin in his career has won 3 Cups, an Art Ross for a player with the most points, Conn Smythe for playoffs MVP, Calder for rookie of the year. The only other players who achieved as much are Bryan Trottier &  Patrick Kane. Malkin was injured recently and the team says he’s “week to week” recovering. With the playoffs two weeks away this is something that will be talked about.
  • Sharks forward Joe Thornton has moved into 14th place all-time in points (411 G, 1057 A 1468 points). Thornton recently passed Stan Mikita in points. Thornton is also closing in on Steve Yzerman for 8th all-time in assists.
  • Devils forward Travis Zajac recently reached the 500 point milestone. His just the 4th player to reach as many points with the Devils franchise.
  • Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler became the franchise leader in points by a defenseman. Fowler has recorded 265 points.
  • Canadiens captain Shea Weber became the only active defenseman with 200 career goals. There have been just 21 defenseman all-time with 200 career goals.
  • Ducks forward Ryan Kesler recently played in his 1,000 career game.
  • Sidney Crosby recently reached the 1,200 point milestone. He required just 938 career games (1.30 PPG).
  • Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has reached the 100 point mark for the second time in his career. Only former ‘Hawks Denis Savard (5 times) and Jeremy Roenick (3 times) has done so more.
  • San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture recorded his 500th career point on Monday. Couture reached the milestone in 655 games which is faster than any other player that’s played with the Sharks organization.
  • Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau, 25, set a new franchise record when he recorded his 54th and 55th assists this season. Former Panthers player Viktor Kozlov had held the record with 53 assists back in the 1999-2000 season. Huberdeau has set a career high in points this season (78 points in 72 games); his previous career high was 69 points.
  • Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk recorded 19 goals in his past 29 games and has 25 in 56 games played this season. Since January 10, he’s tied for most goals in the league. The Flyers are not going to the post-season but good to see JVR playing well after missing almost the first half of the season with some sort of leg injury.
  • Predators forward Filip Forsberg recently recorded his 300th career point. Forsberg became the first Preds player to record 5 season with 25+ goals.
  • Avs star Nathan MacKinnon joined Peter Forsberg as the only two players in Avs franchise history with back to back 90 point seasons. MacKinnon is just 23 years old. He’s an incredible player.
  • Last years first overall selection Sabres Rasmus Dahlin has tied Bobby Orr for the 2nd most points for an 18 year old defenseman in league history. Dahlin has 8 goals and 30 assists for 38 points. Dahlin’s head coach Phil Housley holds the record with 57 points as an 18 year old defenseman.
  • Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal has reached the 500 career point milestone (213 g and 287 a).
  • Senators Bobby Ryan recently played in his 800th career game. Ryan, 32, was drafted #2 overall in the 2005 draft just after Sidney Crosby.
  • Bruins Patrice Bergeron recently recorded his 800th career point. He’s the 6th player in Bruins history to record as many points.
  • Panthers star forward Alek Barkov has reached the 80 point mark for the first time in his career. There have been only five Finns to reach 80 points in a season:
    • Jari Kurri
    • Teemu Selanne
    • Olli Jokinen
    • Mikko Rantanen
    • Alek Barkov
  • Hurricanes Sebastian Aho has 78 points and should reach the milestone as well.
  • Kaapo Kakko a Finnish 18 year old forward is moving up and expected to go either first or second overall at this year’s draft in Vancouver. Kakko has broken Alek Barkov’s goal scored record for most goals in the Finnish league for a player under 18 years old.
  • Bruins forward Brad Marchand has reached a career high in points this season with 92 with 11 team games remaining. Marchand has also recorded his 4th straight 30 goal season. He’s the first Bruins player do achieve that since Cam Neely recorded 5 straight 30 goals seasons from 1986-1991.

Injuries

  • San Jose Sharks rookie defenseman Radim Simek won’t play again this season with a knee injury (torn ACL and MCL in his right knee). Czech born Simek has been Brent Burns d partner since around the 30 game mark of this season. It’s Simek’s first season in the NHL. Joakim Ryan is expected to step into Simek’s spot alongside Burns.
  • Senators sophomore defenseman Thomas Chabot suffered a broke toe and is probably out for the rest of the season. Chabot has recored 49 points in 62 games this season while averaging 24 mins of ice per game. Chabot may be an option for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships in Slovakia.
  • Sounds like Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson won’t be back before the post-season begins. He’s dealing with groin strain. Seems to be a bit of an ongoing issue for Karlsson.
  • Blues David Perron is back playing after missing 24 games due to a concussion. Perron has recorded a point in 14 straight Blues games he’s played in.

Odds & Ends

  • The main piece Ottawa acquired in the Mark Stone deal, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, played in his first NHL last week. Some experts believe Brannstrom will be a star at the NHL level.
  • Hurricanes rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov (2nd overall 2018) has quietly had a good season with 18 goals and 15 assists. The player is just 18 years old.
  • Habs 23 year old forward Jonathan Drouin has hit a wall offensively with just 4 points in his past 16 games. Montreal is 3 points back of a wildcard spot with 10 games remaining.
  • Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson could set a Blue Jackets franchise record for goals in a season. Atkinson has 38 goals with 10 team games remaining and the record for goals in a season is 41 by Rick Nash back in 2003-04. Atkinson doesn’t get a lot of recognition as a top goal scorer in the league.
  • Bruins forward David Pastrnak is expected to be back this week after recovering from a broken thumb. He’s missed 5 weeks because of the injury. Pastrnak, 22, had recorded 31 goals in 56 Bruins games this season. Pastrnak will go back to his spot on the right side of the Bruins top line with Bergeron & Marchand.
  • Vegas’ William Karlsson reached the 20 goal milestone on Monday against San Jose. There was some talk in the summer about his contract negotiation with the team as he recorded 43 goals last season and 6 the year before, in 81 games with Columbus. The team and player settled on a one year deal for $5.25 M /season so the player needs a new deal this summer.
  • Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is just the 6th defenseman all-time to play a regular season game at age 42 or older. Will be interesting to see Chara in the post season but he does seem to be still a good defenseman; he’s averaging 21 minutes of ice time / game.
  • Some fans believe Sidney Crosby should get more Hart trophy consideration. He’s recorded 92 points in 70 games played which ranks 4th overall in league scoring. Crosby has failed to register a point just 18 times this season and the Pens lost 15 of those games.
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