NHL News & Notes to 08 Dec 2019

Here are some news and notes from around the NHL.

League-related

  • The NHL Board of Governors are meeting Monday and Tuesday, December 9 & 10, in Pebble Beach, California. Some of items on the agenda include salary cap projections (it’s $81.5 M this season) for next season, and possibly the 2021-22 season, plus discussion around improving hockey culture which stems from the Bill Peters incidents and related player abuse type incidents reported around the league. The league wants input on how to improve hockey culture in the league and possibly introduce a code of conduct to be followed by all teams. The 200 mg testosterone cypionate per week results side effects league has apparently been proactively talking to teams asking if there have been incidents of abuse by their coaches in the past as they androxine want to get in front of the stories a bit. Former players have taken to social media to speak out about poor treatment from various coaches around the league. Also reported to be on the agenda for the Monday & Tuesday meetings is an update on Seattle’s progression, all indications point to them being on schedule to start their first season not next season but the 2021-22 season.
  • The GM’s will reportedly again debate the skate in the air off-side rule at the March 2020 meetings. Currently a players skate must be on the ice to be considered on-side. Some notes from their GM meetings that were held in November 2019 include the minor penalty for failed coaches challenge has led to 32% decrease in coaches calling a challenge which requires video review and the average time for a game is 148 minutes which is the shortest time since the 2012-13 season. Success rate of coaches challenge is 58% up from 32% last season. There are also fewer stoppages in play and refs have to instructed to get the players to not freeze the puck which slows games down. In the first quarter of the season there were 1956 goals scored in 317 games, the highest number in the past 23 years. 
  • The league also recently announced the the GM of the Year award will be renamed the Jim Gregory Award. Gregory was Maple Leafs GM from 1969-79 and a hockey executive at the league office for 30 years. Gregory was also chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee from 1998-2014.

Team Management

  • The New Jersey Devils dismissed their head coach John Hynes last week. In 4.5 seasons behind the Devils bench, Hynes had a 150-159-45 record and the Devils made the post-season once, losing the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hynes was first hired by Ray Shero back in 2009 (when Shero was Pens GM) to be assistant coach of the Penguins AHL team under head coach Todd Reiden (current Washington Capitals head coach). Hynes became head coach of the Penguins AHL team in 2010 and was in that position for 5 seasons. One of Hynes assistants, from his time as the Devils head coach and his time in the AHL with the Penguins organization, Alain Nasreddine takes over as interim head coach. Peter Horachek will join the coaching staff (was a Devils pro scout) as an assistant with existing assistants Rick Kowalsky, Mike Grier and goaltending coach Roland Melanson. I read a few quotes from Nasreddine after he was appointed interim coach and he called it “bittersweet” – to get his first chance to coach at the NHL level was exciting adding he has a lot of respect for Hynes. Devils GM Shero said it’s a chance for Nasreddine to show what he can do with the team but the Devils will do a wide search for a permanent head coach. In Nasreddine’s first three games as interim head coach, the Devils are 0-2-1.
  • Leafs Mike Babcock was, of course, fired in Toronto on November 20th. Babcock’s record in Toronto was 173 wins, 133 losses and 45 overtime losses. The Leafs missed the post-season in Babcock’s first season in Toronto, 2015-16, and then had two very successful regular season’s in 2017-18 with 49 regular season wins & 105 points followed by a 46 win & 100 point 2018-19 regular season. They lost three consecutive first round series’ (Washington once and Boston twice) under Babcock. Babcock’s assistant coaches including Paul McFarland, Dave Hakstol and Andrew Brewer all remain as part of Keefe’s staff. MSLE will be paying Babcock until 2023. He gets $5.875 M USD / season up to and including the 2022-23 season. Keefe’s contract was for 3 seasons so he’s being paid for one less season than Babcock.
  • Bill Peters resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames and assistant coach Geoff Ward was given the Interim Head Coach title. The Flames are 5-0 under Ward. Ray Edwards, the team’s Director of Player Development since 2015, was added as an assistant coach and he will also remain the Director of Player Development. Edwards will view games from the press box and Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas will stay behind the bench. Ward seems like the odds on favorite to be the Flames permanent head coach but the organization may let this season play out first. Ward was an assistant coach with Boston for 7 seasons, where he won a Cup in 2011, plus three more with New Jersey. He joined the Flames before the start of last season as an assistant coach and he has been in consideration for NHL head coaching positions in the past few seasons. 
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Paul MacLean has joined head coach John Torterella’s staff as an assistant coach. MacLean will reportedly focus on the Blue Jackets PP. MacLean won the Jack Adams award back in 2013 as a member of the Ottawa Senators. Most recently, MacLean was an assistant coach for 2 seasons, 2015-2017, with the Anaheim Ducks.

Scuttlebutt

  • Devils forward Taylor Hall, a pending UFA, is reportedly interested in moving on from New Jersey and GM Ray Shero has started trade discussions with teams. Shero apparently does not have a specific want in terms of a return for Hall instead asking interested teams to pitch their offers. Shero isn’t, however, looking for a one for one player swap, like what brought Hall to New Jersey – Hall for Adam Larsson straight-up, but looking for possibly four or five players in return, some of which could be prospects or draft picks. It’s not clear if part of the deal would include discussions around a new contract for Hall but conditional draft picks could be negotiated to be contingent on Hall re-signing with the eventual team he is traded to. Hall’s agent is known for waiting until the off-season / June with his UFA’s since he believes the player gets the most money that way.
  • New Jersey is currently in 30th place in a 31 team league and I don’t believe it’s what GM Shero had in mind this summer especially since he brought in defenseman PK Subban. It’s a bit of a step back season for the Devils but with the potential return on the Hall trade, a possible top 3 draft pick in 2020 (since the team is near the NHL basement in the standings) plus cornerstone pieces in first overall draft picks, Nico Hischier in 2018 and Jack Hughes in 2019, New Jersey has the players to form the core of a young and talented roster. The two teams most linked to Hall are Colorado and Arizona. The Devils are reportedly interested in Colorado’s prospect and WHL Vancouver Giants defenseman Bowen Byram who went 4th overall last June and has 115 points in 164 WHL games or .70 PPG.
  • The Washington Capitals and forward Nicklas Backstrom have started contract discussions. Backstrom, 32, is in the final season of a 10 year $67 M contract he signed with the Capitals back in May 2010. Backstrom is in his 13th NHL season, all with the Washington Capitals. He is a point a game player – in 918 career games he’s recorded 891 points. The player is acting as his own agent in the negotiations. GM Brian MacLellan said the other day the organization wants to reach an agreement with the player but nothing is close to being signed.
  • Doesn’t seem as though the St. Louis Blues are at all close to signing their captain, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who will be UFA this summer. I sense that the player wants to stay in St. Louis but he’s said to be seeking a Roman Josi type deal which is $9 M /season for 8 seasons. Similarly, the talk is the Bruins and defenseman Torey Krug are not close in their discussions for a new contract for the pending UFA. Krug has played his entire career with the Bruins and is a .63 points / game regular season player over his NHL career. He’s been strong in the post-season with 46 points in 62 post-season games. Krug has said he wants to re-sign in Boston and is willing to take less. No word on what the term or dollars are in the current contract discussions. It remains to be seen if the two players are moved by the February 24, 2020 trade deadline.
  • Rangers forward Chris Kreider is expected to be traded by the Feb. 24, 2020 trade deadline. Kreider is off to a bit of a slow start with 7 goals and 7 assists after 29 games.
  • Avs star forward Nathan MacKinnon recently told Forbes magazine he’s happy with his contract, signed in the summer of 2016, at $6.3 M /season for 7 seasons. Experts say the Avalanche are getting a deal with a 90-100 point player at that salary number. Teammate Mikko Rantanen signed at the end of September for $9.25 M / season for 6 seasons. MacKinnon says his goal is to win a Stanley Cup in Colorado and, if he has to take less to try and make that happen, he’s willing to.
  • The December deadline for unsigned RFA’s passed without either of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka or Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi signing therefore they are ineligible to play in the league this season. It seems Honka was closer to being moved than Puljujarvi. Oilers GM Ken Holland said teams were calling on Puljujarvi, 21, but none were willing to provide the return value he wanted for a former 4th overall draft pick (2016). The forward has recorded 27 points on 12 goals in 27 games in the Finnish league this season. Puljujarvi was being linked to the New York Rangers.
  • Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, 27, is a pending UFA that is thought to be coveted by teams. Pageau has 15 goals (a career high after just 29 Senators games) plus 6 assist for 21 points. Pageau was the first Senators player to score 11 goals in the month of November since Daniel Alfredsson scored 13 back in the 2005-06 season.
  • Both Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic and TJ Brodie are UFA’s at the end of this season. The team started discussions with Hamonic on a new deal but they were unable to agree on terms and the player now wants to put off discussions until the off-season. It doesn’t seem as though Brodie will be back in Calgary next season as there have not contract discussions with him. Brodie collapsed at practice about 3 weeks ago but is back playing. He was put through a battery of tests to determine why he may have fainted but no issues were discovered.
  • The NHLPA filed a grievance with the league on behalf of former Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglein who was suspended on September 21, 2019 for not reporting to training camp. The Jets are being quiet on the matter and apparently the NHL is in the middle of discussions with the NHLPA on the issue.

Hot Teams

  • Through 30 games, the Capitals are 21-4-5, setting a franchise record for most points (47) in their first 30 games of the season. The Capitals hold a 14-2-1 record on the road, the most road wins in the NHL.
  • The Bruins lost their first home regulation time game of the season on Saturday against Colorado. Their home record is now 12-1-5. The Bruins have an impressive record of 20-4-6 on the season and are first in the Atlantic Division.
  • Colorado has won 6 straight and are 11-3 in the past 14 games. Experts who watched them this season say they look like a Cup contender.
  • The Flyers are 7-1-1 in this past nine games and only twice in their franchise history have they recorded more points after their first 30 games, 2011-12 (20-7-3) and 2010-11 (18-7-5). The Flyers also led the NHL in points in the month of November with 24 (10-2-4).
  • Even with the Oilers terrific start and 18-10-4 record, Arizona just tied them to the Pacific Division lead (40 points).
  • Minnesota is 10-3-3 in this recent 16 games. Eric Staal and Jason Zucker are tied for the team lead in points with 21 after 30 games. Goaltender Alex Stalock is having a good season for the Wild with a 8-4-2 record with a .906 SV% and a 2.91 GAA. He’s outplayed starter Devan Dubnyk this season.
  • The Penguins are 8-3-3 since Sidney Crosby was sidelined with a sports hernia injury. Malkin has stepped up as first line center and has recorded 6 goals and 16 assists in 14 games.

Players producing

  • Oilers captain Connor McDavid is on pace for 132 points this season while teammate Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 135 points. Draisaitl and McDavid are the first two Oilers to reach the 50 point mark in under 30 games since Gretzky & Kurri back in the 1984-85 season.
  • Bruins forward David Pastrnak has 25 goals in 30 games this season & on pace for a 68 goal season. His career high in goals is 38 which he recorded last season. Pastrnak is one of the most exciting players in the game and is just 23 years old. Only three other players all-time have scored 12+ goals in each of the first two months of the season, as Pastrnak has done. Gretzky did it twice, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy both so did so once.
  • Carolina’s young Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov, drafted 2nd overall in 2018, is on pace for a break out second season. He lead the Hurricanes in points with 32 in 30 games and tracking towards an 87 point season. Svechnikov, 19, recorded 32 points in his rookie season.
  • Sabres captain Jack Eichel has an active 13 game point streak going and has recorded 42 points after 31 games.
  • Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson is on pace for 32 goals. Olofsson was a 7th round draft pick of the Sabres. He played last season in the AHL where he recorded 30 goals and 33 assists in 66 games.
  • Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi already has 12 goals and 25 points on the season. His career high in goals is 14 and points 37. Donskoi was a good signing by Avs GM Joe Sakic. The deal was for 4 seasons at $3.9 M /season.
  • Jets young star Patrik Laine already has 20 assists on the season matching his total from all of last season. His career high in assists is 28 back in his rookie season. The Jets wanted him to become more than just goal scorer and it seems he is doing that.
  • NY Rangers forward Ryan Strome is on pace for a 73 point season. His career high is 50 back in 2014-15 season. Last season split between Edmonton and the NY Rangers he had 35 points.
  • Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became the 5th player in NHL history with 15 consecutive 20-goal season to begin his career, joining Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Jaromir Jagr, Mats Sundin. Ovechkin also  recorded his 24th career hat trick passing Jari Kurri for the 10th most hat tricks in NHL history.
  • Capitals 23 year old Czech forward Jakub Vrana has 15 goals in 31 games this season and on pace for a 40 goal season. His career high in goals is 24 which he recorded last season.
  • Penguins forward Jake Guentzel is on pace for 44 goals and 85 points while missing his injured linemate Sidney Crosby. He leads the Penguins in points with 31 on 16 goals after 31 games. GM Jim Rutherford got Guentzel on a very good contract at $6 M /season for 5 seasons.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has rebounded from two trying seasons in New York and being bought out this summer by the Rangers. Shattenkirk is on pace for 64 points; he has 21 points already this season in 27 games played. Shattenkirk had 20 points in his first season with the Rangers and 28 points in his second. The Lightning signed him to a one year deal at $1.75 M before the start of the season. He’ll be a UFA this summer.
  • Flames Czech goaltender David Rittich is having a solid season with a 13-7-0-4 record, a .914 SV% and a 2.69 GAA. Rittich leads the NHL in minutes played, saves made and he has faced the most shots of any NHL goaltender. The Flames signed him to a reasonable contract at $2.75 M/season for two seasons this summer. Fans are hoping Rittich can be the team’s goaltender for many more seasons as, since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013, the Flames haven’t had a solid #1.
  • Canucks forward JT Miller is having career season. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. He is tracking at a 85 point season in his first season in Vancouver. His career high in point is 56 back in the 2016-17 season with the New York Rangers.
  • Colorado forward Andre Burakovsky has 12 goals after just 26 Avs game this season which is the same number of goals he recorded in each of his past three seasons with Washington. Avs GM Joe Sakic acquired Burakovsky for a 2020 second and third round draft pick. Burakovsky is on a one year deal at $3.25 M. He’s be an RFA this summer.
  • New Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri is doing well since being acquired from St. Louis on November 6th. In 14 games as a Red Wing Fabbri has recorded 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points. Fabbri is on a one year deal at $900,000 /season. He will be an RFA this summer.
  • Experts say Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper is the leading candidate for the Vezina after 1/3 of the regular season games played. Kuemper has a 12-6-2 record with a 1.92 GAA. a .937 SV% & 2 shutouts.
  • St. Louis Blues leading scorer, David Perron, is on pace for 77 point season. Doug Armstrong got him on a very reasonable 4 year deal for $4 M / season signed in the summer of 2018 when Perron was UFA.
  • Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is following up his strong 2018-19 season (92 points) with a strong early 2019-20 season. Through 29 Panthers games this season, Huberdeau has 36 points a 82 game regular season pace of 102 points. Huberdeau was drafted 3rd overall in 2011. Panthers GM Dale Tallan has the player on a good contract also, $5.9 M /season with this season and three more remaining.

Leafs

  • The team has a 5 W and 3 L record in the 8 games since Sheldon Keefe took over. More importantly, they’ve started games stronger having outscored their opponents 13-2 in the 1st period under Keefe.
  • At the 30 game mark, the team has 13 wins & 32 points whereas last season they had 20 wins & 41 points. The team is currently 5 points out of a playoff position.
  • Keefe changed the defensive pairings to Barrie & Rielly, Muzzin & Holl and Ceci and Dermott. Seems Tyson Barrie has benefited the most from the move to Keefe. Barrie has replaced Morgan Rielly on the Leafs first PP unit and Rielly moves to the second group. Barrie has 5 points in 8 games since the head coaching change,
  • The team put forward Andreas Johnsson (6 goals & 10 assists) on long term injury reserve which means he’ll miss 10 games or 24 days but the team does get some needed cap relief which helped when they re-activated Mitch Marner. The team said Johnsson’s injury will be re-assessed after the Christmas break. The first game Johnsson is eligible to return is December 31st in Minnesota.
  • Swede Pontus Aberg steps onto the top line with Matthews and Nylander to replace Johnsson. Aberg was the Marlies points leader this season with 23 in 22 AHL games. I read where Keefe said he may move players around again onto different lines.
  • Mitch Marner and Matthews are getting more ice time under Keefe. Marner is around 21 minutes /game under Keefe and Matthews is at 20 minutes under the new coach which is up about 2 minutes per game on average. The players say they like the increase.
  • The team has still been unable to solve their games on back to back night’s – they are 0-6 in the second game of back to backs this season. Freddy Andersen played both games in the teams most recent back to back (against the Flyers and Colorado); it was the first time in 3 seasons he played both games on consecutive days. It seems as though they are willing to give goaltender Michael Hutchison another chance as it’s planned he’ll get a start when the team travels to Western Canada this week. Experts are saying if Hutchison can’t make the saves, they may need to move salary/a roster player to get a goaltender who can help Freddy get some rest. The Leafs next back to back is December 20 & 21.
  • Seems new coach Sheldon Keefe was not high on Nick Shore, he played in just one of Keefe’s first 6 games as coach and Frederik Gauthier has been a healthy scratch already in a few games since Keefe took over. Shore was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets after he was placed on waivers last week. He recorded 2 goals and an assists in 21 Leafs games this season.
  • William Nylander is on pace for a 60+ point season again plus he’s tracking towards 29 goals which would be a career high. Nylander already has had two 60+ point seasons in his career. Last season was not good for Nylander but he’s rebounded this season.
  • Center Auston Matthews is on pace for 48 goal / 87 point season and he has not missed a game this season.
  • Forth line forward Jason Spezza has 10 points in his past 12 games.
  • The Marlies announced that Greg Moore has been hired as head coach replacing Keefe. Moore, 35, spent the past two seasons coaching the USHL Chicago Steel. Moore’s coaching record with the Steel was 52-25-5. Moore was a Calgary Flames draft pick, 5th round back in 2003, but played in just 10 NHL games. Moore is spending the next two weeks with Keefe and the Leafs coaching staff to learn about the organization. He officially starts with the Marlies on December 16.
  • The Toronto Marlies have a 16 wins, 4 losses, 2 OTL’s and 1 shootout loss record this season so far. Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has a 9 W, 1 L and 1 tie record with a 2.18 GAA and a .925 SV%.
  • The Leafs start a three game Western Canada road trip on Tuesday.
    • Tuesday in Vancouver
    • Thursday in Calgary
    • Saturday in Edmonton

Canadiens

  • Montreal had lost 8 straight games (0-5-3) before winning on the road against the Islanders this past Tuesday. The organization hadn’t lost 8 straight since the 1939-40 season. The team has just 2 wins in their past 11 games. They are tied, though, with Leafs in points (32) with a game in hand. They waived back-up goaltender Keith Kinkaid and he cleared through waivers. He will now play with Montreal’s AHL team, the Laval Rocket. Goaltending prospect Cayden Primeau (7th round draft selection from 2017 and former NHL player Keith Primeau’s son) was called up and started in a game this past week against Colorado, a 3-2 loss where Primeau made 32 saves.
  • The overall goal this season in Montreal is still getting into the post-season since they’ve missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Some of the positives in Montreal have been the play of  forward Tomas Tatar, he leads the team in points with 25 points in 30 games. Captain Shea Weber has also had a strong season with 23 points after 30 games on 9 goals while averaging 24 minutes/game. Max Domi has seen his offensive production drop off after a 72 point season last season, he’s on pace for a 49 point campaign. Domi is a RFA this summer and needs a new contract. Additionally, Carey Price has apparently looked better in recent games but not having one of his better starts to the season, a .889 SV% and a 3.04 GAA. The team needs him to be their top player for them to have a chance at the post-season.

Tampa Bay

  • The Lightning have been unable to find consistency in their game after a 128 point regular season last year and running away with the Presidents trophy. The team had 47 points and 23 wins this time last season and has 31 points on 14 wins this season. The Lighting are not scoring like they were last season with approx 20 less goals after 27 games season over season. Hart trophy winning forward Kucherov is on pace for 97 points whereas last season he recorded 131. Stamkos is on pace for 30 goals – he had 45 last season.
  • Head coach Jon Cooper has to try and right the ship before too much more time passes. I heard where Sportsnet Elliotte Friedman said how with them running away with the Presidents trophy last season, basically the players don’t see the value of regular season as much now as they went out in 4 straight games in last years post season. The coaches have a challenge to try and get them back to near the top of the league. The ‘Bolts are currently sitting out of the post season by 6 points- a lot more was expected.

Player News

  • Former Leafs and Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan announced his retirement from the NHL. Stajan played 445 games in a Leafs uniform, from 2003 – 2009, and 558 games in a Calgary Flames uniform. Overall, in 1003 career NHL games played, Stajan scored 146 goals and added 267 assists for 413 points. Last season, Stajan played 52 games in the German league. Stajan now makes Calgary his home but I heard him recently interviewed and he said open to career opportunities in the hockey world which could involve a move to a new city.
  • Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu recently played in his 1,000th career game – all as a Wild player. He’s the first Wild player to play 1,000 games as a Minnesota Wild player. Koivu, 36, has recorded 700 points (203 G & 497 A) in the 1,000 games. He was a 6th overall draft pick back in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Koivu is UFA at season’s end; no indication if he plans to continue this career next season but at $5.5 M for this season, he’d be looking at a considerable cut in pay. He’s on pace for 35 points this season on a projected 6 goals.
  • Flyers first rounder, 2nd overall in 2017, center Nolan Patrick is still unable to play due to a migraine disorder. Patrick has yet to play a game this season. The good news is Patrick has started skating but he’s not participating in team practices. The team has said there is no timetable for Patrick’s return to the line-up.
  • Boston signed pending UFA forward Charlie Coyle to a 6 year deal at an average annual rate of $5.25 M /season. Since being acquired by the Bruins from Minnesota last season, Coyle has recorded 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 49 games.
  • The Bruins also signed forward Chris Wagner to a 3 year deal at an average annual rate of $1.35 M /season. Wagner was to be a UFA at the end of the current season. In 103 games as a Bruin, Wagner has recorded 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points.
  • Canucks forward Micheal Ferland is expected back in the line-up this week after missing the past 17 games with a concussion after a October 31st fight with LA Kings forward Kyle Clifford. Ferland had one goal and four assists in 12 games before the injury. He said recently he is going to be a lot more selective about getting into fights as he’s had numerous concussions already in his career. Signed as a July 1, 2019 UFA, Ferland is the first season of a 4 year contract that pays him $3.5 M /season. He’s was 40 point player in each of his past two seasons.
  • Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has not had a strong start in Miami after signing a 7 year contract at $10 M /season on July 1, 2019. Bobrovsky currently has a .893 save percentage and a 3.24 GAA. I would guess it’s been an adjustment moving to a new city and with a new team. The Panthers have used rookie / AHL goaltender Chris Driedger in their recent two games.
  • The Vancouver Canucks added former player Alex Burrows to their Ring of Honour this past week. Burrows signed as a undrafted free agent by the Canucks and recorded 193 goals and 384 points in 822 games in Vancouver. He is 7th in games played with Canucks organization. Burrows joins Kirk McLean, Orland Kurtenbach, Mattias Ohlund, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts and the late Pat Quinn in the Canucks Ring of Honour.
  • LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk has not played since Nov. 9 and there is no indication he’s returning to the line-up soon. The Kings are not really saying what the issue is but head coach Todd McLellan said it’s not about Kovalchuk as a person or player and his work ethic in practices has been good. It’s a bit of a mystery why the Kings are not playing him. He does attend games and travels with the team on the road. McLellan recently said it’s been a tough situation.
  • Vegas acquired center Chandler Stephenson from the Capitals for a 2021 5th round draft pick and he steps into a 4th line center spot for the Golden Knights. In 26 games this season, Stephenson has recorded 4 goals and 1 assist.
  • Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog returned to the Avs line-up after missing 16 games with a lower body injury. The Avs did not disclose much about the injury just saying surgery was not required. Landeskog is a first line forward for Colorado and plays with Rantanen and MacKinnon.

Milestones

  • Flames forward Sean Monahan (6th overall in 2013) played in his 500th career game recently as did Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (5th overall in 2012). 
  • Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Statsny reached the 700 point mark recently. Paul is former NHL star Peter Statsny’s son and Peter and Paul are the 3rd father and son duo to have both reached the 700 point milestone. The others include Gordie and Mark Howe and Bobby and Brett Hull.
  • Flyers center Sean Couturier became the youngest Flyer to reach the 600 game milestone. Couturier has again had a strong start for the Flyers with 22 points in 30 Flyers games this season.
  • ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane reached the 600 assist milestone recently. He’s played in 930 NHL games. With 3 Cups and over a point a game in a 900+ games career, Kane is a surefire Hall of Fame player.
  • Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury became the 7th goaltender all-time to reach the 450 win mark. The only other active goaltender with at least 450 wins is Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who has 456 career wins. Fleury recently missed a week as he was back in Quebec after the death of his father. He is back with the team since Saturday but has yet to appear in a game.
  • Evgeni Malkin is one goal away from 400 for his career. Malkin will become the 99th player all-time to reach the 400 goal milestone.
  • Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy became the franchise leader wins with 132. Vasilevskiy is just 25 years old and in the first season of an 8 year deal with Tampa so should set more Lightning records in time.

Alexis LaFreniere Derby aka first overall draft pick in June 2020

  • Detroit is 4-20-3 since October 12 and have lost 11 straight. They are in the basement of the league with 17 points in 31 games. Knowledgeable hockey people were expecting it to be a rebuilding year but I don’t think anyone expected they’d be this bad.
  • LA is now 2-12-1 on the road and just opened a stretch of eight of nine games away from Staples Center. The last game they won on the road since October 22, 6 weeks ago. Even the Red Wings have one more road with 3.

World Juniors 2020 in Czech – Dec 26 – Jan. 5, 2020

  • Team Canada for the 2020 World Juniors is holding a selection camp from Monday, December 9 through to Thursday, December 12 in Oakville, Ontario at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex. Thirty one Canadian players have been invited to the selection camp.
  • London Knights head coach Dale Hunter is the head coach of Team Canada and his brother Mark is GM.
  • Some of the supposed locks to make the team at forward include of course LaFreniere, Red Wings Joe Veleno (1st round 30th overall in 2018) who is playing with the Red Wings AHL team in Grand Rapids (9 points in 25 games), Dylan Cozens (7th overall in 2019 to the Sabres) who is playing with Lethbridge of the WHL and has 46 points on 20 goals in 30 games this season. Ty Dellandrea, 13th overall in 2018 to Dallas, who has 33 points in 26 games in the OHL. Adam Foote’s kid Nolan who plays for the WHL Kelowna Rockets and has 33 points in 26 games. Another name at forward is Blue Jackets first rounder from 2018 Liam Foudy, 26 points in 19 games in the OHL this season. Forward Quinton Byfield in draft eligible in June 2020, has 55 points in 29 games for the OHL Sudbury Wolves. Connor McMichael, 25th overall in 2019 to Washington, has 57 points in 26 games for the OHL London Knights.
  • On defense New Jersey Devils first rounder Ty Smith looks to be a lock to make the team. He’s playing with Spokane of the WHL where he has 17 points in 21 games. Colorado first rounder, 4th overall 2019, Bowen Byram is expected to make the team. Jacob Bernard-Docker a late cut from Team Canada last season looks to be in a good position to make the team this year. He has recorded 14 points in 17 games at U of North Dakota. Calen Addison 29 points in 31 WHL games looks to be on the team on defense for the Canadians.
  • In goal, Edmonton 2nd rounder from 2019 Olivier Rodrigue looks to the possible starter. Rodrigue plays for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL where he has 15-6 record with a 2.79 GAA and a .903 SV%.
  • Flames 2019 first round pick Jakob Pelletier was invited but seems to be a long shot to make the team. Pelletier is captain of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats and has 49 points (18 goals) in 26 Wildcats games this season.

Odds & Ends

  • The Flames get a 3rd round draft pick in the 2020 entry draft from Edmonton if Oilers forward James Neal reaches 20 goals this season. Neal has 14 goals already after 31 Oilers games.
  • Devils forward Taylor Hall has now had 8 different head coaches in his 10 year NHL career.
  • Two of the top three rookie points leaders are defenseman. Avs Cale Makar first with 28 points & Quinn Hughes third with 23 points (Sabres forward Victor Olofsson has 26 points for 2nd place). There has not been two defenseman finish top two in rookie scoring since the dawn of the NHL’s Original Six teams.
  • Hurricanes forward Erik Haula has been missing time recently with the same knee injury that cost him most of last season. Sounds like it could be a while before Haula is able to return to game action.
  • The Oilers are the only team to have a top 5 PP and a top 5 PK. The team is first the league on the PP at 32.2% and 2nd on the PK at 86.6%.
  • Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton is 0-5-4 in his past 9 games and has allowed 5 or more goals in 4 of his past 6 starts. Seem he’s lost his confidence, hopefully for him he can turn it around but the Sabres have been using Swede Linus Ullmark as their number one.
  • Former NHL goaltender Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play in the NHL – in a Lightning pre-season game, is being honored with a statue in Quebec City at Videotron Centre. It will be a life-size bronze statue that will be in place by the end of September 2020. Rheaume won a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics for Canada.
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