- Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, Bill Daly, spoke about a few topics while in Prague for the Flyers vs Blackhawks season-opening game. He said both the NHLPA and league are in discussions about having another World Cup of Hockey. He added it’s something both parties see value in. Daly said fans could expected a similar type of tournament that was played in 2016 in Toronto but further details need to be worked out. As for more games and teams heading to Europe for exhibition or regular season games, Daly said they are going to announce teams that will take part for next season soon. The ‘Hawks vs Flyers game had 17,463 fans which was a record for fans watching an NHL at O2 arena in Prague. There’s been some talk the NHL will have a regular season game next year in Russia and Penguins player Evgeni Malkin would be center stage. Seems there’s been no change in the league’s position regarding having their players participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics that will take place in China.
- The NHLPA and league are still in negotiations about extending the CBA beyond 2022. Experts say possibly something could be announced around the All-Star game that’s in January 2020.
- The league hired their first China-based employee recently, Sandy Ma Yun, who has an auto racing and marketing background. Her title is Director of International Strategy. The league also opened a Beijing office in the same building as the NBA China office that currently has just the one person (the NBA has 200 people in their China office). Read where Commissioner Bettman said they’ll grow their headcount in Beijing but are taking a slow approach for now. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the biggest challenge with helping China develop players and league’s is infrastructure – China doesn’t have the rinks plus there is no tradition of hockey in the country. The league has an agreement in place to have an NHL exhibition game in China for four of the next five seasons. The participants for the 2020-21 season are expected to be announced soon,
- The Calgary Flames signed General Manager Brad Treliving to a multi year extension. Treliving was in the final year of his existing deal. Treliving is entering his 6th season as Flames GM. The Flames were first in the Western Conference last season with 107 points which was the 2nd highest total in franchise history. Since he was appointed GM in 2014, the team’s record is 212-163-35 (a .560 winning percentage).
- The Flames also announced Chris Snow has been appointed Assistant General Manager. He had been in the role of Director of Hockey Analytics since 2011. Snow has been working closely with GM Brad Treliving on hockey-related matters providing data to assist in the organization’s decision making process. Snow worked for the Minnesota Wild as Director of Hockey Operations between 2006 and 2010 before joining the Flames. Snow got his start as a hockey journalist writing about sports for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
- Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, moved into 3rd place in all-time games coached passing another former Islanders head coach, the late Al Albour. Trotz has coached in 1608 games (Arbour coached 1607). Only Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville (1638) and Scotty Bowman (2141) have coached in more NHL games. Trotz has won the Coach of the Year award twice including last season, his first with the Islanders.
- Kevyn Adams, who played in 540 NHL games and won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, was named Senior VP of Business Administration for the Buffalo Sabres (it’s not a hockey operations position). Adams has a lengthy association with the owners of the Sabres, Pegula Family, and was named GM of Harbor Center last January.
- The AHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Seattle’s application for a 32nd AHL franchise to be located in Palm Springs, California. The new team will play at a new $250 M arena on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation in Palm Springs. The arena is still being built and will be ready for the team’s first season, in the Fall of 2021. The new arena will seat up to 10,000 fans. The Seattle group has yet to announce the team name for their AHL team (or their NHL one). The AHL’s team website is http://www.ahlpalmsprings.com. The AHL will now have 6 California-based AHL teams including the Flames, San Jose and LA’s AHL teams.
- Seattle hired Stu Barnes, Cammi Granto (Vancouver-based), Dave Hunter (Boston-based), John Goodwin (Toronto-based) and Ulf Samuelsson (San Diego) as pro scouts. Granto is the first female NHL scout but GM Ron Francis said she was hired because she is qualified. Granto has won a gold and silver medal at the Olympics and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. She said she’s had other opportunities but Seattle was a good fit. She resides in Vancouver, BC with her husband, former NHL player now broadcaster, Ray Ferraro.
- Seattle scouts have been seen at NHL games already this season including John Goodwin who was at one of the two Leafs home games.
- Bo Horvat is expected to be announced as the new Vancouver Canucks captain. The team will announce it at their first home game of the season, Wednesday, October 9 before they play the LA Kings. Some fans expect the previous Canucks captain, now retired Henrik Sedin, to be a part of the ceremony. Horvat has already played 379 NHL games and is just 24 years old. He was acquired from New Jersey with goaltender Cory Schneider going to the Devils. It’s a trade that’s worked out very well for the Canucks.
- The Oilers announced captain Connor McDavid’s assistants will be forwards Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus defenseman Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse.
- The Winnipeg Jets put an ‘A’ on defenseman Josh Morrissey’s jersey. Morrissey recently signed an 8 year $50 M contract with the team.
- Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is still undecided about resuming his NHL career. The Jets are apparently giving him space to reach a decision.
- Oilers forward Sam Gagner was assigned to the AHL after he cleared waivers. I heard he may consider retirement if he does not get a recall fairly soon. He has a very young family, including a new born. Read where Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said he wants skill in the top six group of forward and penalty killer types in the bottom six.
- Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang has asked for a trade after he didn’t make the Islanders out of training camp. Ho-Sang was drafted 28th overall in 2014. Ho-Sang has not reported to the Islanders AHL team in Bridgeport and it’s not clear if he will while he awaits a possible trade.
- Nashville Predators GM David Poile is in contract negotiations with the agent for captain Roman Josi who is one season from UFA. Poile said the other day they’ve been talking with Josi’s rep for about a year. Seems it’s a question of when a deal is announced not if. Josi is said to be seeking between $8 M- $9 M/season on an max (8 year) deal. The other high profile defenseman that’s a UFA is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues want to re-sign the player but the expected rate would be similar to what Josi is seeking.
- Many fans were surprised to see former first rounder, 13th overall in 2011, Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi end up on waivers. Baertschi has played in 285 career games but just 26 last season as he dealt with concussion problems. He will report to the Canucks AHL team in Utica.
- Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson is on the trade block. The Penguins signed him to a 5 year contract at $3.25 M /season on July 1, 2018.
- The Bruins have started contract talks with defenseman Torey Krug who is one year from UFA status. Krug has recorded three straight 50 point seasons. Last season, Krug recorded 53 points in 64 games. Reports indicate Krug is looking at the Jared Spurgeon contract, seven years & $53 M or $7.57 M/season, as a comparable. Krug has said he’d be willing to take less to sign with the Bruins.
- Former Leafs forward Patrick Marleau is still planning to sign with a team this season. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in early September that the Sharks have no plans to sign Marleau. The player was hoping to return to the Sharks for one more season. Some teams I’ve heard that do have interest are the Oilers and Coyotes. Marleau had 16 goals last season but with no training camp it could be challenging for him.
- The St. Louis Blues signed #1 center Brayden Schenn to an 8 year deal at $6.5 M /season. Schenn was to become a UFA after this season. Schenn has played in 588 career NHL games and has recorded 372 points. He was drafted 5th overall in 2009 by LA.
- The Capitals rookie goaltender IIya Samsonov, a 2015 first rounder 22nd overall, picked up his first career win in a 2-1 game against the Islanders. Samsonov made 25 saves on 26 shots. With Brayden Holtby a UFA a season’s end, I would guess the team wants to see what they have in Samsonov. The teams 3rd goaltender Pheonix Copley was waived the other day and will go to the Caps AHL team in Hershey.
- Jets forward Kyle Connor signed a 7 year $50 M contract. It’s an average annual value of $7.143 M /season. Connor, 22, has recorded 129 points in 181 games with 68 goals over his 3 seasons in Winnipeg. The Jets were reported to have wanted to get Connor on a long term deal from the start of their negotiations. Experts say it’s a good deal for Winnipeg. He’s recorded 31 and 34 goals the past two seasons.
- Colorado got one of their stars signed, Mikko Rantanen signed a 6 year deal with an AAV of $9.25 M. The player recorded 84 points two seasons ago and 87 points (31 goals) last season. Rantanen gets $12 M in each of the first two seasons of his deal.
- The Jets and noted goal scorer Patrik Laine agreed to a 2 year deal for $6.5 M /season. This season Laine will make $6 M and next season his salary is $7.5 M. It seems both sides were preferring short term as Laine wants to play on one of the Jets top 2 lines (he’s been on the third line most of his NHL career). Laine’s agent said they used to negotiation to discuss Laine’s role with the team and both sides “got on the same page”. Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff called Laine a unique player; he’s scored 36, 34 and 30 goals / season in three seasons with the Jets (.46 goals/game) and is still just 21 years old.
- Chicago signed 21 yo forward Alex DeBrincat to a 3 year deal with an AAV of $6.4 M /season. The deal will pay DeBrincat $5.1 M in year one (next season), $5.1 M in year two and $9 M in the third year. The player was signed a year before his current contract expires. The player has an incredible 70 goals in 165 games (.42 goals/game). The ‘Hawks are apparently next going to get forward Dylan Strome’s name on a new deal. Strome, drafted 3rd overall in 2015 by Arizona, recorded 51 points in 58 games after the late November 2018 trade from the Coyotes. The highest profile player that is in the final year of his ELC, like DeBrincat was, is Islanders star forward Mathew Barzal. He is a cornerstone piece of their franchise. I not heard if any contract discussions have started. A final name is first overall draft pick from 2017 Nico Hischier who has recorded 100 points in 153 games to date. Hischier needs a new contract by the start of next season.
- Dallas defenseman Julius Honka, who Dallas is actively trying to trade, and Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi, who signed in the Finnish league, are the only two remaining unsigned RFA’s.
- New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad has recorded 4 points / game and 4 total goals through the Rangers first two games of the new season. Zibanejad is only the second Rangers player in franchise history to achieve 8 points in the team’s first two games. Zibanejad, who’s father is Iranian and mother Finnish, is playing with Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich.
- Of course, Oakville native John Tavares was named the 27th captain in Leafs history. He was introduced before the team’s first home game against Ottawa last week with the ‘C’ on his jersey. GM Kyle Dubas said they wanted to make the announcement in an understated way as that is like Tavares personality. Defenseman Morgan Rielly will wear an ‘A’ all-season while Marner and Matthew will rotate the other ‘A’. Dubas also said Freddy Andersen, Zach Hyman and Jake Muzzin (the only player on the roster with a Cup) are also part of the team’s leadership group.
- Forward Auston Matthews has 5 goals in 3 games so far and he really been working on his one-timer and it shows. John Tavares said when Matthews get his one time on net, it’s almost unstoppable. He has 5 goals in the team’s three games and looks stronger and more dominate than ever. He’s been a noted strong starter recording 10 goals in his first six games last season and the year before that he recorded 12 points in the teams first 8 games. The only player that’s recorded more even strength goals since Matthews joined in league is Connor McDavid. Matthews seems a sure bet to get 50 if he can stay healthy. Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, said the other day it’s his goal to turn Matthews into the league’s top two way center saying that’s how you win championships. Adding when you can defend well, you get the puck back sooner and spend more time in the offensive zone. Matthews seems to have improved his two way play every season in the league.
- Morgan Rielly has 5 assists after the 3 Leafs games including a 3 assist game against Columbus. It was his 6th three assist game in his career. There are only 3 former Leafs defenseman more 3 assist games- Ian Turnbull had eight, Tomas Kaberle had 12 and Hall of Famer Borje Salming had an incredible 29 three assist games. Rielly skating looks as smooth as ever. I am hoping for a Norris trophy for the 25 year old. He seems to be as respected by his teammates as much as any player on the team.
- Thought new addition, forward IIya Mikheyev, has looked very good in just his first 3 NHL games. He has a goal and 2 assists and adds some scoring punch to the third line. Trevor Moore looks good and Alex Kerfoot looked terrific on Saturday against Montreal (1 goals and 2 assists).
- Seems the goal is to keep Freddy Andersen’s game starts to around 60 (he’s started 66,66 and 60 in three seasons with the Leafs). Andersen wants to be rested when the most important games, the playoffs, start.
- The Leafs are going to be playing 6 pre-season games next season after playing 8 this season and for the past few seasons. The CBA mandates teams play between 6 and 8 preseason games.
- The team has 3 games this week –
- Monday vs the Cup champs, St. Louis Blues, in Toronto
- Thursday against Tampa Bay in Toronto (should be very entertaining with two of the league’s top offensive teams)
- In Detroit on Saturday night.
- The Florida Panthers released forward Troy Brouwer from his PTO. Brouwer, 34, would probably be looking to Europe if he wants to keep playing professionally.
- Russian forward Anton Burdasov was released from his PTO with the Oilers.
- The Bruins signed defenseman Alex Petrovic to a one year deal at $700,000 after he attended their training camp on a PTO.
- The Flames released forward Devante Smith-Pelly from his PTO. He’s played in 395 NHL games but there seems to be no interest from NHL teams.
- Matt Read, who attended Leafs training camp on a PTO, was released from the PTO before the start of the season and signed an AHL-only one year deal with the Toronto Marlies.
- New Dallas Stars forward Corey Perry is still recovering from suffering a broken bone in his foot in the preseason. Sounds like he’s a week or two away from being ready to play in games.
- Dallas placed forward Martin Hanzel on Long Term Injury Reserve and it sounds as though his NHL career is over.
- Recently signed Lightning forward Brayden Point has yet to play this season and will miss at least the next two games. Point had off-season hip surgery on both hips. Point played though the hip injury most of last season so after getting the problem fixed, he could be better once he’s in game shape. Point had 41 goals and 92 points last season.
- Oilers top 1 or 2 defenseman Adam Larsson broke his ankle blocking a shot in the team’s first game against Vancouver. Larsson will miss 6-8 weeks and the team recalled first rounder defenseman Evan Bouchard from the AHL.
- Flyers center Nolan Patrick has been diagnosed with a migraine disorder and will miss two to three weeks. He did not accompany the team to Europe to start the season.
- Carolina moved pending UFA defenseman Justin Faulk to St. Louis for another pending UFA defenseman Joel Edmundson. Also going to Carolina was a Czech prospect named Dominik Bokk plus a 2020 7th round draft pick. Faulk then signed a 7 years deal with St. Louis at $6.5 M /season.
- The Coyotes sign goaltender Darcy Kuemper two a 2 year deal at $4.5 M /season. Kuemper played in 55 games last season and had a 2.33 GAA with a .925 SV%.
- Lee Stempniak announced his retirement after 13 NHL seasons. Stempniak played for 10 NHL teams and in over 900 NHL games.
Odds & Ends
- Carolina named forward Jordan Staal captain with forwards Jordan Martinook and defenseman Jaccob Slavin assistants. Staal is entering his 14th NHL season and 7th with the Hurricanes. He was co-captain of the Hurricanes in the 2017-18 season. His brother, Eric, was Hurricanes captain from the 2009-10 season through to the 2015-16 season.
- The New York Rangers are going with four alternate captains this season. They are defenseman Marc Staal and forwards Chris Keider, Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast.
- The Ottawa Senators announced they will retire former player Chris Phillips #4 jersey before their game on February 18th, 2020 against the Buffalo Sabres. Phillips joins Daniel Alfredsson #11 in having his jersey retired by the organization.
- Flames first rounder (2019) Jakob Pelletier was named captain of his junior team, the Moncton Wildcats. The Flames recently signed him to his 3 year entry level contract.
- The QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic had a ceremony last weekend where they retired Sidney Crosby’s #87 jersey. The QMJHL also retired Crosby’s #87 number league-wide. Rimouski forward Alexis Lafreniere scored the OT winning goal on Crosby jersey retirement night. Lafreniere is the leading candidate to go first overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
- The new rules around coaches challenge – starting this season, the first unsuccessful coaches challenge results in a 2 minute penalty – has the coaches being more selective about asking for a video review. Last season, the first unsuccessful challenge meant the team lost their timeout. This season, after the first unsuccessful challenge, subsequent challenges will cost a team a double minor. Flames head coach Bill Peters says if the opposition team has a strong PP he’s not going to challenge as often this season adding the risk is not as great at the reward.
- The Canadiens announced hockey legend Guy Lafleur had successful quadruple bypass heart surgery. A full recovery is expected after several months of rest.
- First overall (2019) draft pick Jack Hughes is living with NHL veteran Cory Schneider. Hughes still doesn’t have a car and travels with Schneider to practices and home games.
- NY Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist recorded career win 450 last week which places him 6th in all-time wins. Seems as though the Rangers are going to use both Lundqvist and Alex Georgiev this season.
- Forward Cody Glass, the first ever draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knight organization (6th overall in 2017), has made the Golden Knights. He recorded a goal in his first game. Glass was an offensive star with the WHL Portland Winterhawks.