Here are some news, notes and stats from around the league as we enter the final week of the regular season. I don’t have a lot on post-season match-up’s as most are not definitively set and I already had a lot of information to share.
- Global Series
- The Chicago Blackhawks will open the 2018-19 regular season in Prague on October 4th against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning will play two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov. 8 & 9. The game will feature two top Sweden-born players, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
- Apparently the playoff format is part of the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and the part about the playoff format (team match-up’s) expires after this season but the expectation is it will be extended by another year. Some teams do like the format as it requires less post-season travel but many players and coaches prefer the 1 plays 8 match-up (in the conference) in the first round instead.
- There is $16 M dollar pool of cash that is paid out for winning and this includes 3.80% of the $16 M or $608,000 for the team that wins the President’s trophy (team with most regular season points). Also as part of the $16 M, there is money awarded to teams who win their round of the post-season. The post-season payout looks something like:
- Winning Round One: Each winning team gets ~ $287,000 to split between the players. It’s not that much for players who make $5 M or more per season but it’s part of the CBA.
- Winning Round Two: $575,000 to split between the players of each team that wins in round two.
- Winning Round Three: $1.45 M
- Reaching Cup finals: $2.6 M
- Cup winner: Team splits approx $4.35 M. There are 23 players on the roster so each player gets $189,000.
- The Draft Lottery is a week from this Tuesday (April 9th), the eve of the post-season beginning. Here is some detail info about team draft odds. The team with the lowest point total on the regular season has the highest odds of getting the first round selection.
GM & Coaching News
- The Lightning announced this past Tuesday that they’ve signed their head coach Jon Cooper to a multi year extension. Cooper, 51, has a 301-157-44 record in seven seasons as bench boss with Tampa. Cooper is the longest tenured coach in the league and holds the Lightning record for most coaching wins. He was hired in March 2013. His new contract is believed to be paying him around $3.75 M /season. Cooper recently said regarding the contract and it expiring after this season, there is no place he wants be more than in Tampa.
- Former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has been seen watching St. Louis Blues games with Blues GM Doug Armstrong. It’s unclear if there is a possible role for Chiarelli with the Blues but Armstrong has used Bob Gainey, Dave Tippet and Larry Robinson this season to assist with the Blues.
- The Ottawa Senators are reportedly looking to hire a President of Hockey Operations. This was the position held by the late Bryan Murray. GM Pierre Dorion would continue in the GM position. Flyers AGM Dean Lombardi, formerly GM with the LA Kings for numerous years, was apparently approached about the role but his preference is to stay with the Flyers. Former Canucks President Trevor Linden was also asked if he’d be interested but apparently he isn’t. The team’s search for a new head coach will start immediately after their season concludes. Interim head coach Marc Crawford has a 6-7-1 record which is good considering the Senators roster. Another name that I’ve heard being consider for the head coaching position is the team’s AHL (Belleville Bulls) head coach Troy Mann. Former Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault could also be a possibility. He is apparently from the Ottawa (Gatineau) area.
- The Oilers are also considering hiring a President of Hockey Operations while having CEO Bob Nicholson focus on the business side of the Oilers Entertainment Group. Nicholson said the other day that the organizations GM interview process will start within the next week or two with 12-14 candidates expected to be interviewed. Another name I’ve heard linked to the Oilers GM search is former Vancouver GM Mike Gillis.
- Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock does not have a contract after this season with the team. The Oilers should have a new GM in place before the 2019-20 season starts so it could depend on the new GM and what direction the person wants to go in. Hitchcock, for his part, says he wants to be back with the Oilers. I believe his comment was “I want to coach until I’m 99 years old”.
- Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon recently said he plans to sit down with his GM Don Waddell after the season is over to determine if Waddell still wants to hold the GM position. Waddell also is the President of the Hurricanes.
- Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar reached the 100 win mark on his career. His NHL coaching record is 241 games, 100 wins, 115 losses & 13 OTL’s.
- The Red Wings are reportedly going to sign their head coach Jeff Blashill to a 2 year extension. An announcement from GM Ken Holland is expected after the teams season concludes at the end this week.
- There has been some speculation that neither Sabres head coach Phil Housley or Panthers head coach Bob Boughner job is safe. The Sabres record in 16 games during the month of March is 2-12-2 and the Panthers season has been a disappointment for their organization. Some suspect former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville could get some consideration with Florida as GM Dale Tallon know Coach Q from Tallon’s time with the Blackhawks.
- With the St. Louis Blues, Craig Berube is the interim head coach but according to reports the team would like to make it permanent. The two sides met and agreed to postpone contract discussions until season’s end.
Post-season Match Up’s
- It’s been already determined based on Sunday night’s game results, San Jose will play Vegas in the the first round. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has recently been sidelined with an injury but the expectation is he will be ready for game one against the Sharks. The Sharks are 1-7-1 in their past 9 games are Erik Karlsson is still recovering from an injury. Karlsson is expected to be ready for the Sharks first post season game. The Sharks goaltending is letting them down. Their tandem of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell are not getting it done recently and it has to be a huge concern for team management.
IIHL World Championships May 10-26 in Slovakia
- Team Canada
- Sabres GM Jason Botterill, former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and former Flyers GM Ron Hextall were announced as co-GM’s at the upcoming World Hockey Championships that runs from May 10-26 in Slovakia. Former NY Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was named Team Canada’s head coach with his assistants coaches to be appointed soon. Some see the Vigneault appointment as a road back to a new NHL head coaching position for him. The Rangers are paying him about $4 M for next season.
- Team USA announced NY Rangers AGM Chris Drury as their GM for the World Championships.
- The Hobey Baker award for the top player in USA college hockey will be announced Friday, April 12. Finalists for the award include:
- Joe Duszak, Mercyhurst (Leafs)
- Adam Fox, Harvard (Carolina)
- Taro Hirose, Michigan State (Red Wings)
- Quinn Hughes, Michigan (Canucks)
- Mason Jobst, Ohio State (Unsigned)
- Cale Makar, UMass (Avs)
- Patrick Newell, St. Cloud State (NY Rangers)
- Chase Priskie, Quinnipiac (Capitals)
- Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State (Unsigned)
- Nico Sturm, Clarkson (Unsigned)
- The leading candidates to win the award seems to be Avs draft pick/ defenseman Cale Makar, Harvard defenseman Adam Fox who’s rights are owned by Carolina, and Vancouver’s 7th overall pick from 2018 defenseman Quinn Hughes. If I had to bet, I would go with UMass’ defenseman Cale Makar winning. I heard where Avs head coach Jared Bednar said there is a chance Makar,20, will join the Avs for their final 5 games and the post-season. Avs defenseman Tyson Barrie, who is currently 6th in points for a defenseman with 56 pts, is a UFA after next season so it’s good timing to have their top defenseman prospect step into the line-up.
- The NHLPA held a player poll on various topics. Some of the winners:
- Top forward: Oilers Connor McDavid
- Top defenseman: Lightning Victor Hedman
- Top goaltender: Canadiens Carey Price
- Most underrated player: Panthers Alek Barkov
- Top player nickname: Tomas “Tuna” Tatar
- Top trash talker: Bruins Brad Marchand
- Worst trash talker: Bruins Brad Marchand
- I heard a report that the Canucks were interested in signing pending UFA Luke Schenn to a one year deal. He was acquired from the Ducks mid-season for Michael Del Zotto.
- All indication point to the Panthers being very active in this summers free agency. Their team owner Vincent Viola wants a winner in Miami and has said he will spend to the cap ceiling (~$83 M for 2019-20) to get there. They cleared cap space when the moved Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to the Penguins so they can add salary on July 1. Two names that are mentioned the most as players the Panthers are targeting are Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin. The Panthers rank 30th in a 31 team league in attendance (avg of 13,000 fans / game) but the organization believes if they can start winning, the fans will return. Arizona this season is fighting for a playoff spot and their recent attendance has grown to over 17,000 in the second half of the season.
- Some stats of the players acquired at the trade deadline. I think more was expected from Granlund but the post-season still awaits.
- Columbus Matt Duchene 20 GP 3 G 11 A
- Predators Mikael Granlund 13 GP 1 G 3 A
- Vegas Mark Stone 16 GP 4 G 6 A
- Jets Kevin Hayes 16 GP 4 G 7 A
- Carolina is holding on to the final wildcard spot in the East by just one point over Montreal. The Hurricanes are looking to break their 9 year playoff drought (the longest playoff drought in the league). Would be a terrific achievement for the team if they make it in their first year under new owner Tom Dundon.
- First year head coach Rod Brind’Amour reached the 40 win mark in his first 72 games behind the Hurricanes bench. With his 40th win, Brind’Amour reached the milestone in 10 fewer games than any other Hurricanes coach in franchise history.
- The team’s 43 wins is the 3rd most in Carolina/Whalers franchise history (2005-06 they had 52 and 2008-09 they had 45).
- Since January 1, 2019, only the Lightning (28) have recorded more wins than Carolina (27).
- Hurricanes point leader Sebastian Aho has 82 points with 4 team games remaining. His point total ranks him tied with his head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, for 2nd most in a season. Eric Staal has the record with 100 individual points in a single season.
- Former Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney was the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton trophy for perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. McElhinney, 35, has appeared in 32 games this season and has 19 W / 11 L / @ OTL’s with a 2.57 GAA & a .912 SV%. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer when he’ll be 36 years old.
Tampa Bay Lightning
- Lightning are the first team with multiple 40 goal scores (Stamkos & Brayden Point) since the 2011-12 Penguins (Malkin & James Neal). It’s the first time two centers on the same team have 40 goals since 1995-96 when Petr Nedved & Mario Lemieux did.
- The Lightning also, for the first time in their franchise history, have three 90 point players (Kucherov, Point & Stamkos) and it’s the first time for a team since the 2005-06 season.
- Kucherov’s 120 points is the most a player has had since Sidney Crosby had 120 back in the 2006-07 season.
- Twenty-three year old forward Brayden Point needs a new contract this summer and is going to get a big pay raise. Ninety points on a season puts him at about $8 M – $9 M per season. Marner is looking for $10 M /season with about the same number of points (Marner has 91 points with 4 games remaining).
- Goaltender Ben Bishop recorded his 200th career win this past Monday against the Jets. Bishop has reportedly been the Stars MVP this season.
- The Stars have 3 defenseman with 10 goals for the first time in franchise history.
- John Klingberg
- Miro Heiskanen
- Esa Lindell
- Trade deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello has started skating on his own recovering from a broken arm suffered in his first Stars game after the trade from the Rangers. Seems as though Zuccarello is tracking well to get into one or two of the Stars final regular season games. Stars will make the post season and Zucc will help them as he has 60 post season games to his credit (11 G, 20 A, 31 pts) including a trip to the Cup finals back in the 2013-14 season.
- Forward Tyler Seguin has record 6 straight seasons of at least 70 points. Only Hall of Famer Mike Modano had more with the Stars franchise.
- The Stars signed their 2017 first round pick goaltender Jake Oettinger to his entry level contract. Oettinger, 20, will join the AHL Texas Stars for the remainder of the season. Oettinger has played the past 3 seasons in the NCAA Boston University. He has to be one of the Stars top prospects.
- I read where Stars rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen said his goal is to be the NHL’s top defenseman soon. GM Jim Nill compares Heiskanen to a mix between Nick Lidstrom and Scott Neidermayer. Lidstrom & Neidermayer have, combined, won 8 Norris trophies for the league’s top defenseman. Very generous praise by Nill for a 19 year old player who just relocated to North American from Finland. Sounds like Heiskanen has landed in a good spot/supportive organization with Stars.
- The team has 4 pending UFA’s:
- Brock Nelson 24 G & 26 A
- Jordan Eberle 15 G & 17 A
- Anders Lee 27 G & 20 A
- Robin Lehner 44 GP 24 W 12 L & 5 OTL’s .928 SV% 2.19 GAA
- Captain Anders Lee and the team have talked about an extension but Lee is looking for a 7-8 year term and the team is preferring a bit of a shorter term deal. There have apparently been no contract discussions at all with the other 3 UFA’s.
- Brock Nelson reached the 50 point mark for the first time in his career so he’s having a good season right as he hits the open market on July 1 as a UFA.
- Last season’s rookie of the year winner, Mathew Barzal, has seen his offensive production drop under new head coach Trotz. Last season, Barzal had 85 points and this season he’s on pace for 62. It seems Trotz wants players than can be strong defensively as well as offensively.
- Forward Valtteri Filppula will be out 4 weeks with an upper body injury. Filppula has reportedly been a solid player this season for the Islanders. He has recorded 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points on this season.
- The fans at Nassau have started to chant “Bar-ry Tr-otz” during games. Kind of funny. The team’s playoff first round games will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and subsequent rounds, if the Isles advance, in Brooklyn at Barclay’s Center.
- The Habs have 3 players (Gallagher/Max Domi/Tatar) with 25+ goals for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
- Forward Max Domi is first player in ten seasons to record 70 points in a season as a Habs player (Tomas Plekanec had 70 pts back in the 2009-10 season, the last Habs player with 70 points in a season). Domi just turned 24 years old. So many people questioned the Galchenyuk for Domi deal – saying Galchenyuk was the better player but Domi has excelled in Montreal in his first season. Galchenyuk, 25, has recorded 39 points on 17 goals with the Coyotes this season.
- Shea Weber has 13 goals in just 50 games played. He missed the first part of the season recovering from off-season knee surgery.
- The team has signed goaltender Cayden Primeau to his entry level contract (he’s Keith Primeau’s son). Primeau will join the Laval Rocket. Primeau was drafted late – in the 7th round – and played this season and last in the NCAA, at Northwestern University.
- The Habs also signed the MVP of the most recent World Juniors, forward Ryan Poehling, to an entry level contract. Poehling played this season in the NCAA where he recorded 31 points in 36 games.
- The Leafs record since Jan. 1, 2019 is 19-15-5 which is 17th in the league but overall this season, the team is 24-2-1 when leading after the first and 35-0-1 when leading after 2 periods. Seems getting a lead is key for them.
- Defenseman Morgan Rielly became just the 3rd Leafs defenseman to record a 70 point season. The others Ian Turnbull and Borje Salming. Rielly just turned 25 years old and, by the end of his career, could be one of the top defenseman to ever play with the Leafs organization.
- Word is Jake Gardiner is expected back before the regular season concludes. The team is targeting a Gardiner return for possibly the two final regular season games. Heard where Gardiner said how much he is looking forward to getting back in the line-up and feels the team is going to have a good post season. He seems to be a well liked & respected player with his teammates. Mike Babock said Gardiner is a very, very important player and they’ll need him in the post-season.
- Marner’s 66 assists with 4 games remaining tie him for 4th most assists in a season for a Leafs player (in franchise history).
- Doug Gilmour (1992-93) – 95
- Doug Gilmour (1993-94) – 84
- Darryl Sittler (1977-78) – 72
- Borje Salming (1976-77) – 66
- Mitch Marner (2018-19) – 66
- Marner’s 90 points on the season are the most for a Leafs player since Mats Sundin had 94 back over 20 years ago in the 1996-97 season.
- Forward Zach Hyman reached the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career and he missed 10 games this season with an ankle injury. I believe he’s an important player on the team as he really brings physicality and leadership to the team.
- Tavares’ 45 goals is the most of any player who is playing in his first season with the team. Ed Olczyk had held the record with 42 goals in his first Leafs season back in the 1987-88 season. Additionally, the team has not had a player with as many goals in a season since Dave Andreychuk and Wendal Clark has 42 goals back 25 years ago, in the 1993-94 season. Only Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (51) and Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (47) have scored more goals this season than Tavares. With 4 team games remaining in the regular season, Tavares need 4 goals in 5 games to become the first Leaf player in 25 years (Dave Andreychuk had 50 in the 1993-94 season) to reach 50 goals.
- Patrick Marleau is now 5th in all-time games played with 1653 games. Marleau has only played 114 less games than all-time games played leader Gordie Howe. Head coach Babcock was recently asked if he’s concerned with Marleau’s drop in offensive production. His reply, “No, not really. Playoffs are his time.”
- Forward Tyler Ennis was the team’s nomination for the Bill Masterton award for perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. Ennis called it an honor to be nominated and said it meant a lot to him. He credited the Leafs organization for taking a chance on him by signing him this past summer. Ennis has 12 goals and 18 points in 48 Leafs games this season.
- Defenseman Ron Hainsey recently turned 38 years old and is a July 1, 2019 UFA. The only defenseman older than Hainsey are Zdeno Chara, Brooks Orpik and Nik Kronwall. I’ve not heard if Hainsey is going to try and get a contract for the 2019-20 season. He has one Cup to his credit – from the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins team.
- Newly acquired center/forward Nic Petan signed a 2 year extension at an annual rate of $775,000 /season.
- The team has 4 games remaining including Monday night at Nassau Coliesum which should be interesting as the fans really give to former Islanders star John Tavares. After Monday the remaining 3 Leafs games are:
- Home against Carolina on Tuesday
- Home against Tampa Bay on Thursday
- Saturday night in Montreal against the Canadiens
- The Flames won the Western Conference for the first time in 29 years after defeating the Sharks on Sunday night. The team also won the division for the first time since the 2005-06 season and reached the 100 point mark for the first time since the 2005-06 season. They will open the post-season at home for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
- The team had 5 players (Gaudreau, Lindholm, Monahan, Tkachuk, Giordano) with 70+ points. It’s the first time a team has had 5 players with 70+ points since the 2000-01 season when the Penguins did.
- The team has already won 23 games on the road this season which sets a franchise record.
- The team’s first round selection from 2017 Juuso Valimaki is set to rejoin the team after rehabbing an ankle injury in the AHL. He has to be the top rated prospect in the Flames system.
- Heard Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson interviewed and he mentioned the top priorities with the team this off-season is adding skill. I assume he means both on defense and, more key, up front with the forwards. Nicholson also added he values leadership and good people but wants to complement the team’s leadership group which I believe is McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbolm. Nicholson added the organization is happy with the addition of forward Sam Gagner who they acquired from the Canucks because he’s a good player and quality person.
- Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have reached the 100 point mark on the season. It’s the first time since the 1988-89 season (Gretzky & Kurri) the team has achieved that and the first season in the NHL since 2009-10 Caps Ovechkin & Backstrom that there were two teammates with 100+ points. Additionally, Draisaitl is the first German born NHL player to reach 100 points in a season. I expect, but have not heard definitively, that both players will compete for their country at the upcoming World Championships in Slovakia in May.
- The Oilers have missed the post season 12 of the past 13 seasons. Seems the upcoming GM hiring is critical to get right.
- The Capitals have made the post-season for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.
- The Blue Jackets really struggled after the trade deadline (where they acquired Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Adam McQuaid) but have won their past 5 straight games. In the 5 wins, they outscored their opponent a combined 24-4 and goaltender Bobrovsky has 3 shutouts in the 5 wins. Bobrovsky leads the league in shutouts with 9.
- Forward Cam Atkinson reached the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career and he’s just the second player to score 40 with the Blue Jackets franchise (Rick Nash had 41 in both the 2003-04 season and again in the 2008-09 season).
- Forward Artemi Panarin set both career highs and franchise highs in points and assists with 56 assists and 83 points. Too bad for the Blue Jackets Panarin won’t commit to signing a new deal with the team.
- Flyers signed forward Michael Raffl to a 2 year contract that starts next season. The deal will pay Raffl $1.6 M in each of the two years. The player was scheduled to be a UFA this summer. In 64 games this season, Raffl recorded 6 goals and 18 points.
- Predators tough forward Austin Watson was assigned to the Preds AHL team, the Milwalkee Admirals on a conditioning stint but has since been recalled.
- The Red Wings signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a one year extension, for next season. Howard will get a $4 M base salary plus $1.1 M in potential bonuses. The contract does not included a “no trade” clause.
- The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Nick Schmaltz to a 7 year deal at an annual cap hit of $5.85 M. Since this season’s trade from Chicago, Schmaltz has recorded 5 goals and 9 assists in 17 Coyotes games.
Milestones & Streaks
- LA Kings forward Dustin Brown became the all-time leader in games played by a Kings player when he played 1112 career game. Dave Taylor, now VP of Hockey Ops with the St. Louis Blues, had held the record.
- Jets forward Patrik Laine, who doesn’t turn 21 until April 19, became just the 4th player to record 3 seasons of at least 30 goals before turning 21 years old. Only Gretzky, Hawerchuk and Jimmy Carson has achieved that.
- Canucks defenseman Alex Edler surpassed the Canucks record for most goals scored as a member of the Canucks when he scored his 94th goal. Mattias Ohlund had held the record. Edler, 33, is a July 1 UFA but wants to stay with the Canucks. He also holds the franchise record for defenseman points, PP points and games played.
- Canucks forward Bo Horvat needs 2 goals to reach 100 for his career. He’ll be the 4th player from the 2103 draft class to reach the milestone (MacKinnon, Barkov, Monahan).
- Blue captain Alex Pietrangelo recently recorded his 300th career assist.
- Blues forward Vlad Tarasenko now has recorded 5 straight 30 goal seasons. Only Capitals Alex Ovechkin has as long a 30 goal per season streak (14 straight seasons).
- Blue Jackets forward Ryan Dzingel recently reached a new career high in goals. He currently has 25 and his previous career high was 23. Dzingel is a July 1, 2019 UFA. In 72 games this season, Dzingel has recorded 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points.
- The New York Islanders lead the league in shutouts with 10. They also lead the league in fewest goals against.
- Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara recently recorded his 200th career goal. There has been just 22 defenseman all-time score at least 200 goals. Chara also just signed a one year contract, for next season, with the Bruins. The deal will pay Chara $2 M for the season plus $1.75 M in possible performance bonuses.
- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 900th career game recently. He also set a new franchise record for points from a Panthers defenseman. Yandle has 60 points on the season. The Panthers have had trouble keeping the puck out of their net this season and are 3rd worst in the league in goals against.
- Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba recently played in his 400th career game. Trouba, 25, has recorded 173 points on 40 goals in the 400 games. The player is a restricted free agent in the summer playing on the one year $5.5 M deal he signed in the summer.
- Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson recently recorded his 400th career point. Carlson reached the milestone after 684 career games (.58 PPG). Carlson is having another strong offensive season with 65 points which is 4th among defenseman in the league.
- Vegas forward Reilly Smith recently played in his 500th career game.
- LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar will play in his 1000th career game on Monday against the Flames. Kopitar has recorded 885 points in his career; he went 11th overall in the 2005 entry draft. Kopitar had 92 points last season and is on pace for 60 this season.
- Oilers Milan Lucic reached the 500th career point milestone. He has just 19 points this season on 5 goals. Lucic has 4 more seasons left on his contract that pays him $6 M /season.
- LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has appeared in 600 career games. He has 308 wins. There’s been 36 goaltenders all-time with at least 300 career wins.
- Blues Tyler Bozak reached the 400 point milestone this past week. Bozak needed 663 games to reach the mark. He was a good Leafs player for a number of years and seems like a quality person (wore an “A” with the Leafs).
- Islanders forward Andrew Ladd will be out for 4-5 months with a torn ACL in his knee. The team expects him to be ready for training camp.
- Ducks forward Patrick Eaves is currently injured. He was with the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Ducks, but is re-experiencing some of this some problems that he has last year- muscle weakness. Eaves turns 35 in May. Seems it would be tough for him to return to the NHL level.
- Bruins Marcus Johasson (lung contusion) is expected to be ready by the first Bruins playoff game.
- Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien returned Saturday after missed 19 games with an ankle injury. Byfuglien is a key player for the Jets and he played a team leading 24:24 (ice time) in his first game back.
Odds & Ends
- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who turns 40 in April, could retire this off-season. Luongo is 3rd all-time in wins with 488. He has a career save percentage of .919.
- With the Flyers, goaltender Carter Hart will be given every opportunity be the team’s number one goaltender next season but both Brian Elliott and recently acquired Cam Talbot, who are both unrestricted on July 1, reportedly want to be back with the Flyers next season.
- Bruins Patrice Bergeron has set a new career high in points this season with 74. Bergeron, 33, set the record after 60 Bruins games.
- Sharks forward Tomas Hertl has had a breakout season with 35 goals this season. His previous career high in goals was 22 (recorded last season). Hertl’s 35 goals are the most by a player age 25 or younger since former Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo recorded 56 in 2005-06.
- Only HOF player Pavel Bure has recorded more points in a season in Panthers franchise history than Alek Barkov has this season. Barkov has 91 points this season. Bure had 94 points back in the 1999-2000 season as a member of the Panthers. Barkov recently said he really wants to play in the post-season more often, the Panthers have missed the post-season 5 of his 6 seasons with Florida.
- The Red Wings have two 30 goal scorers, Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. It’s the first time since the 2008-09 season they’ve had even one thirty goal scorer.
- Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson quietly has 17 goals on the season and 56 points. He’s tied for 6th in the league in defenseman points and is tied for second in goals. The ‘Hawks look like they have a solid defenseman with a lot of offensive upside.
- Hawks 21 year old forward Alex DeBrincat is tied with Patrick Kane in goals with 41 on the season. DeBrincat is just in his 2nd full season in the league after playing in the OHL with the Erie Otters and being linemates with Connor McDavid. In 160 NHL games, DeBrincat has 69 goals (.43 goals per game). Additionally, Kane and DeBrincat are the first American born teammates with 40+ goals in a season since 1991-92 when Penguins Kevin Stevens and Joe Mullen both had at least 40.
- Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has just 1 goal in the team’s past 23 games. He still has 37 on the season. He’s a summertime UFA.
- The Panthers have missed the post-season 16 of the past 18 seasons. The last time they won a playoff round was 1995-96 when they went to the Cup finals. They’ve made the post-season 5 times in their 25 year franchise history.
- Hockey broadcasting legend Bob Cole, 85, will call his final career game this Saturday when the Leafs play in Montreal.
- St. Louis had a remarkable run since the start of 2019. They are 27-10-4 in their past 41 games. They were 18 points behind the Jets at the start of the year and are now 2 points back – and the Jets win a lot of games.
- Predators forward Craig Smith has recorded 5 straight 20 goal seasons. Smith doesn’t get much mention as a consistent contributor around the league. Only Filip Forsberg has more consecutive seasons of at least 20 goals in Predators franchise history.
- Since the Presidents Trophy (team that finishes the regular season with the most points) started being awarded in 1986, just 8 teams have won both the President’s trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season:
- 2013 Chicago Blackhawks
- 2008 Detroit Red Wings
- 2002 Detroit Red Wings
- 2001 Colorado Avalanche
- 1999 Dallas Stars
- 1994 New York Rangers (last Eastern Conference team to do it)
- 1989 Calgary Flames
- 1987 Edmonton Oilers