NHL News & Notes to 07 Jan 2019

Here are a few news & notes items from around the NHL.

League-related

  • The NHL and NHLPA are expected to meet this week in Las Vegas as representatives from both sides are attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) there. It was reported that the two sides are expected to discuss the status of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which can be re-opened this September. It’s been reported that there have been some initial discussions and that the players are not looking to re-open the agreement but make a few tweaks (escrow rates being one topic the PA seems to harp on).
  • The St. Louis Blues were awarded the All-Star game for the 2019-20 season. The Blues have renovated their building, the Enterprise Center, and that is part of the reason why they were awarded the game.
  • The NHL announced 3 outdoor games for next season (2019-20 season):
    • The Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames will play on October 26th (2019) at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium.
    • The January 1, 2020 New Year’s Day outdoor game will be in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Dallas’ opponent has not yes been announced.
    • On Feb. 15, 2020, Colorado will play a yet-to-be-named opponent at United States Air Force Academy Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.
    • The league has discussed with both Florida teams the possibility of a night time outdoor game but nothing official has been decided.
  • The recent New Years Day outdoor game between Chicago and Boston attracted a sell-out crowd of 76,126. It was the 2nd largest crowd to ever watch an NHL game live.
  • The IIHF announced they plan to play the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics games on NHL sized rinks (as opposed to the longer and wider IIHF sized). Some people see this as the IIHF trying to entice the NHL to allow their players to play in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Seattle

  • No news out of Seattle now they officially have a team. I did hear Commissioner Gary Bettman was stopping by Seattle on Wednesday to meet the the Oak View Group. It will be Bettman’s first stop in Seattle since they were awarded an NHL franchise.

Coaching News

  • The Flyers fired their head coach, Dave Hakstol, and hired Scott Gordon who was the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Gordon was given the title “Interim Head Coach”. So far, in 11 games under Gordon the Flyers have a record of 2-6-3.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks added Sheldon Brookbank to their coaching staff under head coach Jeremy Colliton. Brookbank was Colliton’s assistant with the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the ‘Hawks. Brookbank is a former NHL defenseman who was a noted tough defenseman.
  • New Jersey Devils (16-18-7) signed their head coach John Hynes to a multi-year contract extension. I was a bit surprised as, after making the post season last year, the team doesn’t look like they’ll make it this season. A report also indicates Devils GM Ray Shero will get an extension but nothing has been announced yet.
  • Islanders head coach Barry Trotz recently moved into 4th place in coaching wins all-time with his 783 win. Only Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville and Ken Hitchcock have won more games. Trotz has turned the Islanders into a defensively responsible team. They’ve given up the fewest goals in the league this season whereas last season, they gave up the most.
  • There was talk this week that the Lightning are nearing an extension for their head coach Jon Cooper. Cooper is in the final year of his contract. The ‘Bolts are the league’s top team and they’ve been impressive from the first game of the season.

NHL Insiders / Rumors

  • Sportsnet reported this week that Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton, 25, could be moved via trade. In 41 games this season, Hamilton has recorded 6 goals and 8 assists. Hamilton was acquired from Calgary at last year’s Entry Draft. He was a top pairing defenseman with Calgary but is a 3rd pairing defenseman with Carolina. He led the NHL in goals from a defenseman last season with 17. Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland, a pending UFA, is also reportedly available via trade as the ‘Canes have talked contract with him but the two sides were not close in the financial assessment of the player. Ferland has recorded 12 goals and 7 assists in 34 games this season. He has missed some time with a concussion. The Hurricanes have been looking for scoring help since just about the start of the season. The ‘Canes are 28th in a 31 team league in goals for.
  • Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, a pending UFA, is reportedly available but the price is a first round draft pick. St. Louis was interested in Howard but didn’t want to part with a first rounder (seems wise since the Blues are at the bottom of the league and will get an excellent 2019 draft pick).
  • Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is reportedly available via trade. Zucc, 31, is in the final year of his contract and is unrestricted free agent in the summer. He admitted recently that the uncertainty around his situation has affected his play. Zuccarello has 4 goals and 14 points in 28 games this season and a -20 rating.
  • TSN reported Blues forward Patrick Maroon, a pending UFA, will be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Maroon has 3 goals and 11 points in 32 games this season after signing with the Blues this summer as a UFA. The player is on a one year contract at $1.75 M/ season. Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnerson are also pending UFA’s and should be moved by the trade deadline. Bouwmeester, 35, is nowhere near the player he once was and has been a healthy scratch a few times this season.
  • Recent reports indicate Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, a pending UFA, will re-sign in Vancouver before season’s end. Edler’s name has been mentioned in trade in the past 2 or so seasons but he has always maintained he wants to stay in Vancouver. Edler, 32, recently became the franchise leader in games played for a Canucks defenseman.
  • Rangers center Kevin Hayes could be the biggest name to move at the trade deadline. Hayes, 26, has recorded 33 points in 39 games this season on 10 goals. People who’ve watched a few Rangers games this season say Hayes is the Rangers top player. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

IIHF World Juniors

  • Some people were disappointed with Canada’s 6th place finish at this years World Juniors in Vancouver. Seems Hockey Canada has work to do to figure out how to get Canada back to near the top at the junior level. I did not catch much of the tournament myself preferring NHL games but it was the first time in 13 times hosting that Canada did not medal.
  • Final placement in the tourney were:
    • Gold – Finland
    • Silver – USA
    • Bronze – Russia
    • 4th place – Switzerland
    • 5th place – Sweden
    • 6th place – Canada
  • Team USA forward & Montreal Canadiens first rounder Ryan Poehling was named tournament MVP. He recorded 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games.
  • Team Russia defenseman Alex Romanov was named the tournaments top defenseman. The player recorded 8 points on one goal during the tournament. Romanov is also a ‘Habs draft pick (2018 second round).
  • USA goaltender Cayden Primeau, former NHL player Keith Primeau’s son, was named Player of the Game in the semi-final game (when the US defeated Russia 2-1). Primeau is also a Canadiens draft pick (from 2017).
  • Canada’s captain Max Comtois played the tournament with a separated shoulder.
  • A report from Finland indicated 544,000 citizen’s in Finland watched the goal medal game that started at 3 AM local time.

Canadiens

  • ‘Habs GM Marc Bergevin indicated recently that he is not interested in trading prospects at the trade deadline to push for a post-season spot. The Canadiens are currently one point out of a wildcard spot. The organization has a number of top prospects that would garner interest from other teams.
  • Carey Price decided to skip the All-Star game due to injury. He has to sit out a game either just before or just after the ASG which Bergevin indicated would be the Feb. 2 game against New Jersey (after the ASG).
  • The NHL will apparently name a Price replacement quickly. Some fans were hoping for Freddy Andersen but he is also battling an injury plus resting instead of the ASG would seem wise.
  • Price is 12 wins away from tying the ‘Habs franchise leader Jacques Plante for most wins by a Canadiens goaltender. Plante recorded 314 wins as a Canadien and Price has 302.

Flames

  • The Flames are really rolling right now and are 2nd in the league in points.
  • All-Star forward Johnny Gaudreau is on fire recently with 14 goals in his past 13 games and 13 points in his past 5 games.  Gaudreau is 3rd in NHL scoring with 64 points.
  • The Flames are the first team since the 1995-96 Penguins to have 4 players with 50 points or more after the team’s first 45 games of the season.
  • Off-season addition Elias Lindholm has, after half the season played, eclipsed his highest career points and goals totals. He has 20 goals and 48 points this season and his career high before this season was 45 points and 16 goals.
  • Defenseman Mark Giordano collected his 300th career assist on Monday. Giordano has recorded 42 points in the team’s first 40 games and fans want him to be considered for the Norris for the league’s top defenseman. Gio leads the league in plus/minus with a +29. He’s defying his age as he’s now 35 years old.
  • The team also leads the league in shorthanded goals with 14.
  • David Rittich has taken over the number one goaltender position for the Flames. In 21 appearances this season, he has a 15-4-3 record with a .921 SV%. Rittich is a restricted free agent as season’s end so the team needs to get him signed for a few seasons. Back-up Mike Smith (12-9-0) has an .886 SV% and a 3.09 GAA. Smith, 36, is a UFA at season’s end.
  • Forward Michael Frolik has been unhappy with his situation in Calgary (he’s been a healthy scratch a few times) and his agent has spoken out publicly about it. Frolik has one more season left on his contract but has had numerous injuries this season. Not sure the organization will look to move the player at the trade deadline but they were reportedly unhappy with his agent’s public comments.
  • Bill Peters was named Team Pacific head coach for the All-Star game in San Jose. He said he was honored to be named and will take his family with him to the event.

Leafs

  • Leafs have lost 3 of their past 4 games and have been shutout twice but are still third overall in the NHL in points. Babcock indicated after Monday’s 4-0 loss against Nashville that Nylander, Kadri and Marleau need to start producing a bit more offensively. Nylander has just one goal & 2 assists in 14 games since returning.
  • The team has lost just one game this season when leading after the first period (17-1). Seems getting a lead for them is key.
  • Forward Zach Hyman is nearing a return from his ankle injury. I heard Monday that Hyman will play Thursday against the Devils in New Jersey.
  • Auston Matthews lost a bet with Finn Kasperi Kapanen on the World Juniors final game. The Finns won over the USA 3-2.
  • Forward Andreas Johnsson is playing well recently. In his last 19 games, Johnsson has recorded 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points.
  • Mitch Marner played in his 200 career game this past Saturday. He holds the franchise record for most assists after a players first 200 games (129 assists).
  • Goaltender Garret Sparks is suffering from a concussion. No word on how much more time he will miss.
  • John Tavares is one goal from 300 for his career.
  • Caught part of the game Saturday against Vancouver and though forward Trevor Moore looked like an NHL player. Coach Babcock says the player will be an NHL’er but they want him playing as much as possible and playing 20 mins at the AHL level is better for him at this point than 8 minutes in the NHL. Moore went the college hockey route playing at the U of Denver. People say Moore’s emergence made former forward Josh Leivo expendable.
  • Some experts expect the Leafs to make a deal for a defenseman before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Alex Pietrangelo’s name has been mentioned but it seems it would take very good players/prospects to acquire him. Leafs first rounder (2017) Timothy Liljegren name has been mentioned as possibly being moved as Rasmus Sandin (first round 2018) is as good or better than Liljegren. The other need is a back-up to Freddy Andersen as it’s risky to go into the post season with a rookie like Sparks.

Lightning

  • The team lost their first game in regulation on Sunday night since Nov. 27 going 15-1-1 over that period. The team leads the league in points with 66, 8 more points than second place Calgary.
  • Nikita Kucherov had a 12 game point streak end on Sunday night. He recorded 8 goals and 27 points over the 12 games. Kucherov also recently hit the 400 career points mark – the first player from his 2011 draft class to reach the milestone. Kucherov went 58th overall in 2011.
  • Twenty-two year old forward Brayden Point is second on the team in points with 54. He needs a new contract this summer (is a RFA).
  • The Lightning have been to the Conference Finals 2 of the past 3 season’s so have to be a top pick to win the Cup this year – but anything can happen in the post-season. The Lightning lead the league with an average of 4.12 goals/per game; the league average is 3.02 goals / game.
  • Forward Steven Stamkos recently played in his 700th career game. He’s recorded 715 points on 371 goals. Amazing.

Penguins

  • The Pens have won 10 of their past 12 games and had won 8 straight before losing Sunday night to Chicago. Goaltender Matt Murray has returned to form having won his past 7 starts.
  • The Penguins signed restricted free agent forward Jake Guentzel to a 5 year contract at an annual rate of $6 M. Good deal for the Penguins. Jake is a proven playoff performer (42 points on 23 goals in 37 post season games). Pens GM Rutherford said Guentzel, 24, is part of the core of the Penguins. With the new contract, the Pens bought 2 of Guentzel’s UFA seasons.

NY Islanders

  • The Islanders are 9-1 in their past 10 games and goaltender Robin Lehner has won 6 straight decisions. Lehner is on just a one year contract and is unrestricted in the summer. His record this season is 11-6-3 in 21 appearances with a 2.18 GAA & a .927 SV%.
  • Captain Anders Lee is also a pending UFA; there have been contract discussions with the Islanders and it does seem likely the player stays with the team but no contract has been agreed to yet.
  • Forward Jordan Eberle (8 G & 10 A) is also pending UFA and there have been no contract discussions with the Islanders. Seems likely that Eberle will be traded by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Forward Brock Nelson is pending UFA, too. Nelson has 13 goals and 13 assists this season. Nelson, 27, has played his entire career with the Islanders.

Streaks & Milestones

  • Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson has recorded a point in 13 straight games. It’s the longest point streak in Shark franchise history.
  • LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick won his 300th career game this past Saturday. Quick is 5th overall in wins by a USA goaltender.
  • Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored his 300th career goal also on Saturday. Kopitar is the 5th player in franchise history to record as many goals.
  • Red Wings forward Thomas Vanek recently played in his 1,000 career game. He’s the first Austrian born player to reach the milestone. Vanek will most likely be dealt by the trade deadline as he’s a UFA in the summer.
  • San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns also recently played in career game 1,000. Burns, 33, shows no signs of slowing down and is leading the league in points from a defenseman with 47 (Leafs Morgan Rielly is 2 points back).
  • Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 3 wins from becoming the winningest goaltender in Bruins history. Bruins goaltending legend Tiny Thompson recorded 252 wins with the Bruins organization and Rask has 249 wins with the Bruins.
  • NY Rangers defenseman Marc Staal recently played in his 800th career game. Staal ranks 10th all-time in games played for a Rangers player.
  • Florida Panthers forward Troy Brouwer recently played in his 800th career game.
  • Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recently skated in his 900th career game. Only Mario Lemieux (915) has played more games in a Penguins uniform.
  • Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson became the franchise leader in points from a defenseman with 312.
  • Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley recently played in his 1,000 career game.
  • Bruins Patrice Bergeron recorded his 300th career goal the other day.

Waivers

  • Montreal placed defenseman David Schlemko on waivers and the Flyers claimed former Ottawa/Vancouver goaltender Mike McKenna off waivers.

Injuries

  • Predators forward Filip Forsberg returned Monday night against the Leafs after missing 17 games with an injury.
  • Winnipeg Jets top defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is on the shelf with an ankle injury. The team indicates it won’t be until after the Jan. 25 All-Star game that Byfuglien will be available to play.
  • Kings forward Carl Hagelin returned Saturday from missing time with an injury. Hagelin has won 2 Cups and is a UFA in the summer. I expect the LA Kings to trade him to a playoff team by the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
  • Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler returned to the line-up Sunday after missing 23 games with a broken jaw.
  • Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal was placed on the injury reserve list. He’s played in just 7 games this season after having spinal fusion surgery this past off-season. His ability to continue his career seems in jeopardy.
  • Minnesota Wild will be without defenseman Matt Dumba probably until next season. Dumba tore his pectoral muscle and required surgery. The Wild said he’ll miss a minimum of 3 months.

Odds & Ends

  • Reports are that there is a lot of pressure in Minnesota (20-17-3) to make the post-season. The team is currently tied with the Ducks for the final wildcard spot in the West. With General Manager Paul Fenton in his first season as GM (he didn’t hire head coach Bruce Boudreau), there is talk that if the Wild can’t get into the post-season, Boudreau could be replaced.
  • Ducks forward Ryan Kesler is having a tough season. He has just 6 points in 40 games and is a -14 this season. He did have off-season hip surgery but that’s not good production for a player making $6.875 M this season.
  • Former NHL player Dominic Moore signed in the Swiss league. His contract is for the remainder of the Swiss season. Moore, 38, had hoped to continue his NHL career and recently participated the in Spengler Cup for Canada.
  • Red Wings center Dylan Larkin set a franchise record when he scored his 4th OT goal this season.
  • Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie became the franchise leader in points from a defenseman. Barrie has 278 points with the Avs franchise.
  • Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray became just the 5th person to play in 1,000 regular season games and manage 1,000 regular season games. Murray had a successful career as a forward playing mostly with Chicago. The 4 others who have achieved the same mark are Sharks GM Doug Wilson, former ‘Habs player Bob Gainey, Bobby Clarke and Bob Pulford.
  • Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is one game from tying the ‘Bolts franchise record for games played by a defenseman (662 games). Hedman already hold the franchise lead for goals, assists and points for a Lightning defenseman. Hedman, 28, won his first Norris trophy last season.
  • The Ducks are struggling with a 0-6-2 record in their past 8 games.
  • Vegas has been playing very well recently going 16-3-3 in their past 21 games.
  • Vancouver is struggling to score and have been shutout 4 of their past 7 games. Doesn’t help that their points leader, Elias Pettersson, out of action with an MCL sprain (knee).
  • Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has 198 points in his last 200 games in the regular season. He’s on pace for 44 goals and 103 points this season. He’s producing but the Oilers don’t get a lot of offense outside of Draisaitl, McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
  • The Oilers were 9-10-1 in 20 games under former head coach Todd McLellan and were outscored 66-57. Since Hitchcock took over, the team is 10-9-2 and have outscored their opponents a collective 65-60. Seems to point to the roster not being strong as opposed to lack of good coaching.
  • San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski has 25 goals in 44 games this season (he scored 22 all of last season) and was selected to attend the All-Star game. Pavelski, 34, is an unrestricted free agent and there have been no apparent contract talks between the team and player.
  • The Senators and forward Mark Stone are said to be starting contract discussions soon. Stone says he wants to stay with Ottawa. He signed a one year deal with the team this past summer for $7.35 M so it seems it will take a lot of cash to get him re-signed. He has recorded 47 points in 42 games this season on 20 goals. He is reportedly the leader of the team.
  • The Canucks extended their AHL affiliate agreement with the Utica Comets. The team was looking at other options but decided to stick with Utica.
  • Canucks GM Jim Benning father passed away over Christmas. Elmer Benning was a long time Montreal Canadiens scout. Oilers defenseman Matt Benning is his grandson and Jim’s brother, Brian, son.
  • The Sabres terminated forward Patrik Berglund’s contract after he didn’t show up to a team practice. Seems the player wanted out of the contract. Not sure what the issue was; some people have said the player wants privacy on the matter.
  • Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin decided to skip the All-Star game and instead rest. The January 26th All-Star game bumps up against the Capitals bye week so Ovi will have extra time to rest and be ready for the stretch run and post-season.
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NHL News & Notes to 10 Dec 2018

Here are some NHL news items from around the league:

League-wide

  • The BOG met Dec. 3 & 4th in Sea Island, Georgia and a few items that I heard were discussed included:
    • Of course, the Seattle franchise was approved and will start in the 2021-22 season. Many people were happy with this news as Seattle is a terrific city and has a long history of successful sports franchises. The new Seattle team will join the Pacific Division and the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division.
    • The board was given a figure of between $81 M –  $85 M with a probable figure of $83 M for the 2019-20 salary cap. In the past 5 seasons, the cap has increased an average of 3.7% each season.
      • 2019-20 – $83 M *an estimate as this point
      • 2018-19 – $79.5 M
      • 2017-18 – $75 M
      • 2016-17 – $73 M
      • 2015-16 – $71.4 M
      • 2014-15 – $69 M
    • The escrow has been set at 13.5% for the next quarter. Players get 13.5% taken from each pay cheque (players don’t appreciate it but it’s related to the how the cap is calculated).
    • Seems there are still some owners that want more teams in the post season. Currently, 16 teams make the post season but the owners see it as an opportunity for increased revenue for their teams. Commissioner Gary Bettman has been against this idea preferring to stick with the 16 teams. The current discussion seems to be 2-4 more teams per conference qualifying for the post-season.
    • There was some discussions around shortening game intermissions from 18 mins to 15 mins to reduce the length of games. A shorter intermission could cut into concessions sales, though.
  • Gary Bettman said at the BOG meeting if Ottawa can’t get it together for a new downtown arena they are prepared to stay the course with the Canadian Tire Center in Kanata. Bettman has tried to wade into civic disagreements in the past with NHL teams with mixed success. Calgary’s mayor did not seem to want any part of the Commissioner’s help but in Edmonton, their previous mayor Stephen Mandel did have success working with the league to get a downtown arena. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was not at the recent BOG meeting.
  • The NHL sees the All-Star game, that’s Saturday, January 26, 2019 in San Jose, as a key date to get plans discussed with the NHLPA around a 2020 World Cup. So far the NHLPA has not indicated either way whether they are interested in another World Cup and the league is awaiting a response from them.
  • The 2019 NHL All-Star game will be played on Saturday (Jan. 26) not Sunday as was the case in previous years. The league has gotten the game scheduled for prime time on Saturday. The skills competition will be held on the Friday. The BOG usually meets during All-Star game weekend.

Seattle

  • Time frame for announcing a team name is this summer. The Seattle group plans to strategically make announcements about the franchise in an effort to keep fans interested in advance of their first season in 2021. Apparently, Jay Deutsch, one of the Seattle investors, is working with fellow investor, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, on the name.
  • The franchise added an additional 17,000 fans to their season ticket wait list when the team was secured on December 6. They already had 32,000 fans making season ticket deposits.
  • The cost for the KeyArena renovations was first set at $700 M but is now $850 M and the construction is starting if not already, very soon. The Oak View Group is investing $1.6 B into this project (includes the $850 M reno fee). There is no current plan to include tax payer money. The KeyArena reno project work runs to April/May of 2021. KeyArena will host concerts from April/May 2021 until the NHL team starts the season. This will help with adding some revenue to pay for costs plus there could be a building naming deal, as well, to further help offset costs. The new training facility will reportedly cost between $70 M – $100 M.
  • Victor de Bonis, COO of the Seattle group, said the KeyArena renovation is more of a gutting of the entire building; the only part that will remain is the roof.
  • As far as a General Manager for the Seattle team, Tod Leiweke said they are in no rush and want to see how next season goes and who does well then. Some names I’ve heard as possibilities, Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon and Leafs AGM Laurence Gilman; both have experience and good success on the expansion process. Gilman was a consultant to Vegas GM George McPhee on the expansion draft, which turned out exceptionally well for Vegas. Other names include Detroit’s GM Ken Holland who has this season and next remaining on his contract. Former Canucks GM Mike Gillis could get consideration but he has not been working with a team for a number of years.
  • The Seattle franchise team president Tod Leiweke has been talking a lot to Vegas GM George McPhee about what’s involved in building up an expansion team and said McPhee has given him very good advice.
  • Experts are saying an expansion draft for Seattle would be held around June 2021 with the same rules as Vegas. Vegas is exempt from the expansion draft.
  • The Oak View Group wants to bring NBA basketball back to Seattle but the NBA does not want them talking about it. The NBA will open discussions when it’s right for them, apparently.
  • The OVG has already paid $100 M of the $650 M expansion fee; will pay an additional $200 M in September 2019 and the remaining ($350 M) by 2021.

GM’s & Coach News

  • The Anaheim Ducks signed their General Manager Bob Murray to a 2 year extension which means he is under contract to the Ducks until the end of the 2021-22 season. Murray is the 4th longest tenured NHL GM, only Nashville’s David Poile (1997), Red Wings Ken Holland (1997), Sharks Doug Wilson (2003) have been running their team longer. Murray’s contract exceeds Ducks key players Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry’s contracts by one season (Perry & Getzlaf see their contracts expire June 30, 2021). Murray is reportedly looking to build a younger roster in his remaining time with the team.
  • The Blue Jackets announced they are switching the roles of their assistant coaches: Brad Shaw is moving to oversee the defenseman and the Jackets other assistant Brad Larsen will oversee the forwards. The change was made in consultation with GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
  • The San Jose Sharks did some shuffling of the coaches. Rob Zettler, who was in charge of the team’s defense, is now going to view the game from the pressbox, the team’s “eye in the sky”. Assistant coach Dave Barr who was the “eye in the sky” is moving down to the bench and will handle the forwards. Steve Sprott switches from working with the forwards to with the defenseman.
  • Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson is helping out on the St. Louis Blues bench as an assistant coach to interim head coach Craig Berube. Robinson said he’ll be with the team as long as GM Doug Armstrong needs but sounds like they’ll reassess at Christmas.

Hockey Insiders/Rumors

  • Sportsnet reported Monday that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo could be available. Blues are having a terrible season, 29th in the 31 team league. Pietrangelo has one more year left on his contract after this season at which point he’ll be a UFA. Would seem to be a big decision by GM Armstrong to trade their captain. Nick Kypreos indicated the Leafs may be a trade partner with Zaitsev going to St. Louis.
  • Carolina are looking for scoring help. The organization was interested in the William Nylander situation with the Leafs as they had interested in the player but are now, of course, looking elsewhere.
  • The New York Islanders and their captain, Anders Lee, are in negotiations on a long term deal. Lee has recorded 22 points on 11 goals this season and is in the final year of a 4 year, $15 M contract he signed back in the summer of 2015. Lee will be unrestricted this summer. Sounds like it would be about $7 M – $7.5 M / season to get Lee on a 6 year deal. Lee recorded 62 points (40 goals) in 82 games last season.
  • The St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers are both apparently looking for a goaltender. Blues were interested in pending UFA Red Wings Jimmy Howard but the price was a first round pick which the Blues did not want to pay.

Leafs

  • The Leafs play their next 4 games on the road and then have 3 games at home before Christmas. That’s 7 games in 14 days; with travel it’s a tough schedule for the team. The team plays Tuesday in Carolina against former Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney and then pop down to Florida for games against the Lightning and Panthers. They wrap up their 5 game road trip in New Jersey next Tuesday (Dec. 18). The players Mom’s will be with the team for the two games in Florida which seems to be special for the players.
  • Seemed to mix reviews on the details of the Nylander signing, 6 years @ $6.96 M /season. Leafs fans were ecstatic but some people see it as Nylander won the negotiation. The team was originally offering $6 M per season for 6 years and Nylander got it to $7 M /season for 6 years. The player’s cap hit in the first year is $10.2 M with a $6.9 M cap hit in the remaining 5 years; the player lost nothing by missing 25% of the season. Nylander is making more than David Pastrnak who currently has 20 goals in 30 games this season and also more than MVP runner-up Nathan MacKinnon. It’s mostly about cap management for the Leafs as they have a cap crunch starting next season because of the Matthews & Marner contracts plus Gardiner is a UFA. GM Dubas really wanted Nylander back in Toronto and found a way to make the numbers work under the cap. Helps the Leafs a lot that the cap is increasing next season to $83 M. Some experts wonder if more players (RFA’s) will stretch out their negotiation until December 1st as the player did not lose anything by doing so. Nylander was the first RFA to get near the December 1 deadline before signing.
  • Zach Hyman was suspended for 2 games for the hit against Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy. NHL Player Safety deemed the hit late. Connor Brown was moved to the top line with Tavares and Marner in Monday’s practice. He’s a speedy player that I hope can get going offensively.
  • Auston Matthews has 16 goals in 16 games played (he missed 14 games with a shoulder injury). His shooting percentage is an incredible 29%, 16 goals on 55 shots.
  • Sounds like GM Dubas wants to get a head start on contract negotiations for pending RFA’s Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The two players reportedly want the other to be the first one to start discussions with the team to see what the other guy signs for. There is talk that Auston Matthews could get an offer sheet in the summer. Teams can start discussing with unsigned RFA’s who’s contracts are up after the entry draft. Basically a team pitches a huge contract to the player and the original team matches or receives 4 first round draft picks.
  • The team signed Marlies defenseman Calle Rosen to a 2 year one-way deal for $750,000 / season effective the start of next season. This adds some depth on the Leafs blue line. There are no guarantee the team can get pending UFA Jake Gardiner on a new contract and defenseman Ron Hainsey in also in the final year of his deal and unrestricted in the summer. Rosen, 24, can apparently play on either the left or right side on defense. In 24 Marlies games this season, the Swede has 19 points on 17 assists.
  • No current scuttlebutt around signing pending UFA Jake Gardiner. I am really hoping the team can retain Gardiner as he’s a strong player, a leader for the team on the blue line. Gardiner has 17 points in 30 games. Jake apparently loves being a Leaf but he should get a lot of interest as a UFA. He’s very solid and seems to be a quality person. It’s expected if he stays a Leaf, he’d probably not make as much as he could with another team.
  • Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin & Timothy Liljegren were both selected to play for Team Sweden at the upcoming World Juniors in Vancouver. Liljegren injured his ankle on the weekend so it’s not clear how much time he’ll miss. Additionally, 6th round selection from 2018, Swede forward Pontus Holmberg, was invited to the Swedes WJC selection camp. Filip Kral a Czech d man drafted in the 5th round in 2018 was invited to Team Czech camp.

Flames

  • The team have 19 wins in their first 30 games which is tied for the second most in franchise history after 30 games. In their past 10 games, the team is 7-2-1.
  • Flames lead the league in 30 point players with four: Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm and Tkachuk.
  • The team’s top line of Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm have accounted for 43% of the team’s goals this season.
  • The team is 13-2-0 when scoring first. The team has also recorded four 5 goal periods whereas the rest of the league combined has three.  The Flames are 5th overall in the league in goals scored.
  • Goaltender Mike Smith, after a terrible start to the season, has won 5 straight.
  • Second line center Mikael Backlund was placed on injured reserve with a suspected concussion after Wild defenseman Matt Dumba hit him hard in a recent game.
  • Off-season UFA signing James Neal has had a very trying season with 6 points on 3 goals after 31 games. Neal signed a 5 year contract this summer at $5.75 M /season. Just has not been a fit so far in Calgary for Neal.
  • Off-season addition Elias Lindholm has tied a career high in goals with 16 after 31 games played. Lindholm has been a terrific addition to the team; plays on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan and is a strong 2 way forward. Lindholm is 24 years old and signed for 5 more seasons after this one on a team-friendly $4.85 M /season contract.
  • Flames forward Mark Jankowski, 24, recently played in his 100th career game. Jankowski is a 3rd/4th line center that is still improving.

Flyers

  • The Flyers parted way with defenseman coach Gord Murphy (when Hextall left) and brought in veteran NHL coach Rick Wilson who was an assistant in Dallas for the past 14 seasons. Apparently, the team’s defense is the most pressing issue with management. Seems defenseman Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere has regressed the most this season and Wilson will be working to get these two, plus their entire defense group, back on track. Gostisbehere is a team worst -13 this season. Provorov is a highly rated player for the Flyers and just 21 years old but recorded 41 points last season and tracking towards a 29 point season this season. Provorov is in the final year of his entry level contract and contract talks have apparently stalled. The player said that is not affecting his play.
  • New GM Chuck Fletcher is on the team’s current 5 game road trip (Flyers won first game 6-2 against the Sabres and lost 7-1 against the Jets with games against Calgary, Edm and Vancouver remaining). He’s indicated he is taking some time to get to know the players and staff before making any changes. Seems head coach Dave Hakstol is safe for now but the team will be challenged to make the post-season.
  • Hakstol recently moved into 3rd place in all-time Flyers games coached. Hakstol has coached 273 Flyers games. Fred Shero is the Flyers leader in games coached with 554 games and Mike Keenan coached 320 Flyers games.
  • Fletcher is the first Flyers GM since Russ Farwell was hired in 1990 that did not play for the Flyers.
  • Starting goaltender Brian Elliott is nearing a return from injury. The team has struggled keeping the puck out of their net in Elliott’s absence.
  • Number one center & team captain, Claude Giroux, is having an excellent season so far for the team. He leads the team in points by 15. Giroux has 11 G & 25 A (36 pts) in 28 Flyers games.

Blackhawks

  • The ‘Hawks are tied with the Kings for the fewest points in the league and the team has won just 5 games in regulation time this season. The team has lost 7 straight games and are 3-11-2 under new head coach Jeremy Colliton (the team was 6-6-3 under Joel Quenneville). Some wonder if the Colliton hire was the right one especially following a Hall of Fame coach like Quenneville. The team has lost 17 of their past 20 games.
  • Captain Jonathan Toews is having a very good season despite the ‘Hawks lack of team success. Toews is on pace for 34 goals and 63 points. He had a tough last season with 20 goals and 52 points. Toews reportedly looks faster and he worked on it in the summer.
  • Defenseman Brandon Manning and Jan Rutta are apparently available.
  • Artem Anisimov suffered a concussion on the weekend and is out of action.

Dallas Stars

  • The Stars are 10-3-1 at home this season; good for second best home record.  They are 7-1-1 in their last 9 games at home and have won 4 straight home games. The team is 6-8-2 on the road. Head coach Jon Montgomery said the other day he wants the team to play with more energy and passion on the road.
  • Two Finnish defenseman, Esa Lindell & rookie Miro Heiskanen, have really stepped up in John Klingberg’s absence (broken hand). Lindell, 23, is playing over 24 mins / game this season & 19 year old Heiskanen is playing 23 mins/game.
  • Klingberg is reportedly recovering well from the broken hand suffered on Nov. 8th. He is expected back in the Stars line-up on December 27.
  • Center Martin Hanzal returned to game action after missing 10 months due to spinal fusion surgery. Hanzal played 12:22 mins in his return on Friday and said post-game it was “the hardest game of my life”. Sounds like it will take a few weeks for Hanzal to feel comfortable again in game action.
  • Defenseman Marc Methot is day to day with a lower body injury. Connor Carrick is out 3 more weeks with a foot injury. Stephen Johns is day to day recovering from a concussion. Johns has yet to play this season.
  • Forward Gemel Smith was placed on waivers by the Stars and was claimed by the Boston Bruins.

Oilers

  • The team is 7-2-1 under new head coach Ken Hitchcock and have won 4 straight home games. The team is 11-1-2 in one goal games this season.
  • Finland-native goaltender Mikko Koskinen is playing well for the Oilers. He has a 9-3 record overall with a 2.06 GAA with a .929 SV%. In 6 home games this season, Koskinen is 6-0 with 3 shutouts and a .972 SV%. Koskinen, 30, is on a one year deal and unrestricted at season’s end. Cam Talbot is a UFA at season’s end (or, more precisely, on June 30, 2019 at midnight) as well.
  • The team is sticking with McDavid and Draisaitl together on the top line for now (the team has tried to split them up to distribute scoring but seems to work better with them together on a line, at least in the short term). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins centers the second Oilers line. RNH is having a very good season for the team with 26 points in 30 games.
  • Defenseman Oscar Klefbom, 25, has emerged as the team’s number one defenseman, particularly since Hitch took over. Klefbom is playing 26 mins per game and strong both offensively and defensively. In 30 games this season, Klefbom has 15 points.
  • Hitch has apparently worked with the players on gap positioning – where, in for example the d zone, the forwards moves down to around the face-off dot in the d zone supporting the defenseman better and then moving up ice as a 5 man unit. I’m enjoying watching the Oilers under Hitch as he’s from Edmonton and a legend as far as NHL coaches go (3rd all time in wins with 830 wins). He shares an incredible amount of detail about the game with anyone who’ll listen.
  • The team plays the Avalanche and Winnipeg (Tues and Thursday) on the road in what should be two tough, hard fought games.
  • Forward Alex Chiasson is one goal from his career high in goals (13) with 53 games remaining in the season. Chiasson was a PTO signing by the Oilers but finds himself now on the Oilers top line with McDavid and Draisaitl.
  • Forward Drake Caggiula is injured and not playing; apparently it’s a hand injury.

World Juniors – Dec. 26 in Vancouver & Victoria

  • Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta were awarded the 2021 World Junior Tournament. Overall, Canada is hosting this tournament 6 times in the next 13 years. Seems the IIHF likes to pair an NHL city and a team with a Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) franchise together in a year. The next 5 years the host cities are as follows
    • 2019 Vancouver / Victoria *starts Dec. 26, 2018
    • 2020 Czech Republic
    • 2021 Edmonton / Red Deer
    • 2022 *not yet announced
    • 2023 Russia
  • The Detroit Red Wings will not be making forward Michael Rasmussen available for the World Junior tournament. The player has recorded 5 goals (3 on the PP) and 9 points in 26 Wings games this season while playing 13 minutes a game. Rasmussen is Canadian. Filip Zadina will play for Team Czech at the tournament. Zadina is playing for the Wings AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he has 15 points in 23 games.
  • Doesn’t seem as though the Canadiens will make 18 year old forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi available for the World Juniors. Kotkaniemi would have played for Team Finland. The team indicated the player is getting better every game and they don’t really have a replacement for him on their roster. The player has 15 points in 30 ‘Habs games. He is currently the youngest player in the league at 18 years. Kotkaniemi recently said Artturi Lehkonen is his mentor on the team and helps him with day to day things. There is a language barrier for Kotkaniemi as his primary language is Finnish.

Restricted Free Agents

  • Penguins forward Jake Guentzal is in the final year of his entry level contract and will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Guentzal’s stats compared to William Nylander:
 GPGoalsPointsPPG
Nylander18548135.73
Guentzal14850103.70
  • Post-season:
 GPGoalsPtsPPGCups
Nylander1328.770
Guentzal3723421.141
  • Nylander got $7 M /season for 6 years, I expect Guentzal should get at least that, probably more, from the Penguins this summer.

Milestone & Streaks

  • The Sabres won 10 straight games in November and have since lost 5 straight (2 in overtime). The players held a meeting to discuss things and how to get back to winning.
  • Wild forward Zach Parise recently played in his 900th career game.
  • LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty recently became the franchise leader in defenseman assists with his 334th career assist. Rob Blake, current Kings GM, had previously held the record. Doughty also recently played in his 800th career game. Doughty is building a Hall of Fame career, 2 Olympic gold medals, 2 Cups and a Norris trophy plus 800 games. He just turned 29 years old so should have 6 or so good season’s left in his career.
  • Vegas forward William Karlsson became the first player in franchise history to record 100 career points. Karlsson reached the milestone in just 112 Golden Knights games. Karlsson is on pace for 26 goals this season (he had 43 last season).
  • Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall recently played in his 900th career game, all with the Red Wings. Kronwall is just the 3rd Wings defenseman to play as many games with the Wings. Nicklas Lidstrom (1564) and Marcel Pronovost (983) are the two Wings defenseman who’ve played more games for the Winged Wheel.
  • Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd overall in 2011) recently played in his 300th game. Huberdeau, 25, is in his 7th NHL season and leads the Panthers in points with 34 in 28 games. The Quebec-native is tracking towards a 100 point season.
  • Lightning captain Steven Stamkos recorded his 700th career point on Monday. Stamkos is running hot right now with 12 points in his past 7 games including a Monday night hat trick against the Rangers.
  • Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is one point from 900 career points.

2019 Outdoor Games

  • The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will meet in an outdoor game on January 1, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana.
  • There will be a second outdoor game on February 23, 2019 with the Penguins playing the Flyers at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Transaction

  • Canadiens defenseman Xavier Oulette cleared waivers and was assigned to the ‘Habs AHL affiliate in Laval.
  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Chad Johnson was placed on waivers by the team.

Injuries

  • Bruins young forward Jake DeBrusk is out of action after getting hit on the back of the head with a puck during a recent game. DeBrusk is experiencing concussion like symptoms.
  • Penguins veteran forward Patric Hornqvist returned from missing games with a concussion only to get injured again. The most recent injury is not a concussion but upper body. The team reports Hornqvist is day to day with the injury.
  • Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is two to three weeks away from returning to game action from a broken foot suffered on Nov. 15. Back-up goaltender Louis Domingue has played will for the ‘Bolts in Vasilevskiy absence; the team is 10-2 since Vasilevskiy was injured.
  • In Ottawa, leading scoring Matt Duchene is out week to week with a groin injury and forward Bobby Ryan is out indefinitely with a concussion.
  • Arizona’s starting goaltender Antti Raanta was played on injury reserve with a lower body injury. The team indicated the injury could mean Raanta will miss the rest of the season. Darcy Kuemper, Adin Hill and Calvin Pickard are Arizona’s goaltenders and Coyotes GM John Chayka indicated the team is not looking to trade for a goaltender saying the 3 goaltenders currently on the roster want a chance to play more.
  • Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy returned to game action after missing 20 games with a concussion. The player is a RFA and in the final year of his contract. There was talk the player was asking for over $7 M /season on a long term deal.
  • The Predators are missing a few key players currently due to injury. Forwards Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Kyle Turris and defenseman PK Subban. It’s over $25 M / season worth of Predators players on injury reserve.
  • Ducks key defenseman Cam Fowler is progressing from facial fractures after being hit in the face with a puck. Timeline for his return to game action is mid-January. Ducks forward Patrick Eaves has a rib problem and is out indefinitely; been a tough 18 months for Eaves as he missed most of last season with injury and has played just 5 games this season.
  • Panthers exciting young forward Vincent Trocheck broke his ankle in a game recently and his season is probably over.
  • Canucks center Brandon Sutter (shoulder) is expected back before Christmas and forward Sven Baertschi has started skating; he recovering from a concussion.

Odds & Ends

  • Canucks forward Sam Gagner was called up from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL to the Canucks but has since been returned to the Marlies. There is some talk the Canucks made trade the player with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Blackhawks may have interest. Gagner, 29, said he was really disappointed at the demotion and wants to play at the NHL level, if not with Vancouver than elsewhere. He is in the second year of a 3 year contract that pays him $3.15 M /season. He continues to collect that even in the AHL.
  • Jets Patrik Laine is on pace for 59 goals; he currently has 21 goals in 29 games.
  • The New York Islanders will play 21 regular season games at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island during each of the 2019-20 & 2020-21 seasons. The other home games will take place at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The team is planning to have a new building ready in Belmont Park on Long Island in time for the 2021-22 season.
  • Canucks rookie forward Elias Pettersson has recorded two 5 point games this season. Mathew Barzal had three 5 games last season, the only rookie ever to record three 5 point games.
  • Montreal has allowed 3 goals or less in 8 straight games.
  • New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider is struggling to return to form after off-season hip surgery. In 8 appearances this season, Schneider, 32, is 0-5-1 with a 4.29 GAA and a .862 SV%. Schneider last recorded a win December 27, 2017. Keith Kinkaid has taken over as the Devils number one goaltender.
  • No news on what Columbus plans to do with their 2 high profile UFA’s, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin. I don’t see either player back in Columbus next season. The team would be wise to trade both by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
  • Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar is on pace for 33 goals and 33 assists which would be career highs. Tatar currently has 12 goals and 12 assists and the team is very happy with his play. Head coach Claude Julien said recently Tatar is a “warrior”.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the NHL in points with 47 and are 9-1-0 in their past 10 games (while missing their starting goaltender Vasilevskiy who was injured Nov. 10). They also lead the league in goals with 4.06 goals/game and have scored at least 5 goals in 8 of their past 12 games. The ‘Bolts have to be a strong favorite for Cup champs. The team has been to the Eastern Conference finals in two of the past 3 seasons so have valuable playoff experience.
  • Capitals Alex Ovechkin has an active 11 game point streak game and leads the NHL in goals with 22. Ovi is on pace for 62 goals. He is chasing an interesting record- most consecutive 20 goal seasons. Current leaders:
    • Marcel Dionne 17 seasons
    • Mats Sundin 17 season
    • Jaromir Jagr 17 seasons
    • Mike Gartner 15 seasons
    • Alex Ovechkin 14 seasons
    • Michel Goulet 14 seasons
  • On the Coyotes/Chicago Nick Schmaltz for Dylan Strome deal, after 6 games with Arizona, Schmaltz has 3 goals and 3 assists whereas Strome has 3 goals and 1 assist in 7 ‘Hawks games.
  • Vegas is 8-2-0 in their past 10 games and seem to have found their game after a slow start.
  • ‘Habs forward Max Domi has one less point than Leafs star John Tavares. Domi signed a 2 year deal at $3.15 M /season in the summer.
  • Max Domi’s teammate Johnathan Drouin is also having an excellent season with 10 G, 16 A and 26 points in 30 games while covering defensive responsibilities as a center. Drouin, 23, is tracking to set career highs in goals and points.
  • Red Wings young center Dylan Larkin is on pace for a career year, as well. After 31 games, Larkin has 12 goals and 28 points. His career high in goals is 23 and points, 61 (he’s on pace for 77 points this season). Larkin has 3 OT goals this season already; with one more OT goal Larkin will set a Red Wings franchise record for 4 OT goals in a season. Larkin, 22, signed a 5 year deal at $6.1 M in the summer. Some experts believe the Michigan native will be named Red Wings captain next season.
  • Doesn’t seem there has been progress towards Ottawa getting pending UFA forward Matt Duchene signed. Ottawa’s other star forward Mark Stone also is a UFA at season’s end and can sign a new deal after January 1, 2019. Some people see these as related as if one decides to stay, the other might. It was reported recently that if Duchene and the Senators cannot get close to a deal by this season’s trade deadline (Feb. 25, 2019), he’ll be traded. Duchene reportedly likes Ottawa but also wants to win; he been to the post-season just twice in his career.
  • Pending UFA Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, 34, is having an excellent season with a team-leading 19 goals. The Sharks captain had 22 goals last season. There have been no apparent contract talks with the Sharks captain. Not sure if Sharks GM Doug Wilson would look to move the forward at the trade deadline.
  • Sharks young forward Timo Meier, 22, is on pace for 40 goals and is in the final year of his entry level contract.
  • Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel ranks 3rd in multi-point games this season with 14. Eichel, 22, leads the Sabres in scoring with 36 points on 9 goals this season.
  • Sabres GM Jason Botterill has indicated he plans to start contract discussions with pending UFA Jeff Skinner in the new year. Skinner has 20 goals in 30 Sabres games and has developed excellent chemistry with captain Jack Eichel. Chances seem good that Skinner could reach a deal with the Sabres as the player reportedly likes being close to family in the Toronto area and he’s fit in very well with the Sabres. Plus, Sabres owner Terry Pegula has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to spend to get the player’s he wants.
  • There is a holiday roster freeze from midnight on Dec. 19th to midnight on Dec. 27.
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NHL News & Notes to end of Nov 2018

As per usual, there is quite a bit happening around the NHL. Here are a few news & notes items:

Flyers fire GM Ron Hextall

  • Flyers President Paul Holmgren announced Monday that the team had dismissed Executive VP & GM Ron Hextall of his duties. Assistant GM & Director of Player Personnel Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy have also been let go. Holmgren indicated the future of Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is in the hands of the yet-to-be-named GM. Pryor was Hextall’s right hand person and had been with the Flyers organization for the past 20 years; he oversaw the team’s draft selection process. Assistant coach Murphy had been responsible to the team’s defenseman. As for the reason for Hextall’s departure, it was reported that Holmgren ran out of patience with the lack of success on the ice. Holmgren was a Flyers GM in the past and was known to make deals and shake things up when the team was not winning but Hextall did not appear to operate the same. Hextall was known to preach patience but in the end, it seems Holmgren ran out it with respect to Hextall.
  • Former LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who was an adviser to Hextall in the Flyers front office, was offered to stay on with the Flyers even though he was brought into the Flyers organization by and to work with Hextall. Flyers President Holmgren indicated they’d like Lombardi to advise on the GM search and stay on even when the new GM is hired.
  • After 24 games played this season, the Flyers have a record of 10-12-2. The team has used 5 different goaltenders and, in a 31 team league, are 28th in goals against with an average of 3.58 goals against/game. Former Marlies goaltender Calvin Pickard was placed on waivers by the team on Wednesday. In 11 appearances this season, Pickard’s record was 4-2-2 a 4.01 GAA and a .863 SV%.
  • I caught most of the game Saturday night when the Flyers played in Toronto and it was an embarrassing display by the Flyers who lost 6-0.
  • TSN reported Wednesday that the leading candidate to replace Hextall is former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher who is currently working in the front office of the New Jersey Devils, with their GM Ray Shero. The Devils reportedly OK’d the Flyers talking to Fletcher about the opportunity. Fletcher is scheduled to meet with the Flyers on Thursday (29 Nov). The Flyers did indicate they plan to move quickly and have a new GM in place as soon as possible.
  • One of the Flyers top forwards, Wayne Simmonds is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019 so the new GM will have look at that soon after taking over.

Seattle

  • All signs point to the NHL Board of Governors approving Seattle as the NHL’s 32nd franchise during the Dec. 3&4 meetings. This will be a big NHL news day.
  • Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday that the KeyArena renovations will be completed for the start of the 2020 NHL season.

Signings / Trades

  • Rangers forward Kevin Hayes is a pending unrestricted free agent and Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said they are taking a “wait and see” approach regarding possible contract negotiations. Gorton is going to see how the team plays leading up to the February 25, 2019 trade deadline. Hayes, 26, has reportedly been the team’s top forward this season.
  • The Coyotes traded forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini to Chicago for forward Nick Schmaltz. All three players in the deal were former 1st round selections. Strome was drafted 3rd overall in 2015 (before Mitch Marner); Perlini was drafted 12th overall in 2014; Schmaltz was drafted 20th overall in 2014. Apparently the Blackhawks are hoping Strome can play 2nd line center behind Jonathan Toews. Strome and Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat played together in the OHL, with the Erie Otters (McDavid was the other player on the line), and the team is hoping they’ll be able to develop chemistry again. The Coyotes ran out of patience with Strome and he’s not one the league’s better skaters. Similarly, Schmaltz fell out of favor in Chicago where he had 21 goals and 52 points last season. This season he’s recorded 11 points on 2 goals in 23 ‘Hawks games. The Coyotes are 1-4 in their past 5 games and Chicago is 2-4 in their most recent 6 games. The ‘Hawks are 3-5-2 under new head coach Jeremy Colliton who reportedly signed a 3 year contract at $1.4 M /season.
  • Sounds like the Hurricanes may make a move to change their 3 goalie situation. They have Peter Mrazek, Curtis McElhinney and Scott Darling. Darling may be the odd goalie out.

Leafs

  • The Leafs are 10-3-0 in their past 13 games and just got Auston Matthews back from a shoulder injury. They’ve won 6 straight games at home (are 9-5 at home this season) and the team is super entertaining to watch especially when they play at ScotiaBank Arena. Wednesday night’s game against San Jose was, again, fun to watch with Matthews scoring 2 goals and Marner collecting 3 assists.
  • The team is 12-0 when scoring first this season; 13-0 when leading after 2 periods and 17-1 when scoring 3 or more goals.
  • Patrick Marleau’s 1,600th career game on Monday night was special, too. Marleau is only the 11th player all-time to play in as many games. Players who’ve played more games than Marleau:
    • Howe 1767 games
    • Messier 1756 games
    • Jagr 1733 games
    • Francis 1731 games
    • Recchi 1652 games
    • Chelios 1651 games
    • Andreychuk 1639 games
    • Scott Stevens 1635 games
    • Larry Murphy 1615 games
    • Ray Bourque 1612 games
  • Marleau has an incredible active games played streak of 733 games. He is also only the 25th player to score a goal against all 30 NHL teams and he’s the only player in NHL history to record a game winning goal against all 31 NHL teams.
  • Auston Matthews 12 goals puts him in 3rd place for most goals by a Leafs player in his first 3 seasons. Rick Vaive had 96 goals and Matthews has 86 with three quarters of the season remaining.
  • Mitch Marner recorded 8 assists in the recent 3 home games. His price as a restricted free agent keeps going up but, at the player’s request, contract discussions are awaiting until after the season.
  • John Tavares is on pace for a career high in goals and points. He’s on pace for 49 goals and 92 points. His previous career high in goals is 38 and points, 86.
  • The team plays 7 of their next 8 games on the road starting Saturday evening against Minnesota. The Wild are one of the league’s top teams in their own building with an 8-3-2 record.
  • No one knows what will happen with the Saturday, December 1st 5 PM EST deadline for William Nylander to play in the NHL this season. Current scuttlebutt is, if Leafs can sign him by December 1, this would be his final season in Toronto. One suggestion is the Leafs give Nylander a bit more money this season, because they’ll have Matthews and Marner contracts after this season on their books, and then trade him this summer. Many people have grown tired of this situation but, after December 1, the organization will know where things are at. Coach Babcock seems to really want to player back and Auston Matthews and Nylander are close friends and have excellent chemistry on the ice. GM Dubas seems to be a patient person who could put the trying negotiations in the past, if he signs. If he doesn’t sign, it seems more likely he’ll be traded. Seems the number to get Nylander signed is 6 years at between $6.9 M and $7 M /season.
  • Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe won his 158th game Wednesday night which is the most of any Marlies coach. Keefe, I would expect, should get NHL interest soon.
  • Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin is tied for the lead among AHL rookie defenseman in goals with 4.

St. Louis

  • The Blues are really struggling with a 8-12-3 record after 23 games played and have lost 7 of their past 9 games. The team has a 1-3 record under interim head coach Craig Berube. Apparently, the team’s defenseman are making untimely mistakes that are costing the team games. The team is 0-5-3 in one goal games this season.
  • The team next plays in Colorado; the Avs have won 6 straight games.
  • Starting goaltender Jake Allen has a 3.27 GAA and a .896 SV% and there were some rumors this week the team may look to acquire a goaltender with pending UFA Wings Jimmy Howard being mentioned as a possible Allen replacement.

Buffalo Sabres

  • The Sabres have 10 straight wins and forward Jeff Skinner is tied for the NHL lead in goals with 19. Skinner and Sabres captain Jack Eichel play on the team’s number one line and have developed strong chemistry together. Skinner, as pending UFA, is going to get paid well this summer. I heard Sabres GM Jason Botterill plans to open contract talks with Skinner in the new year.
  • Off-season acquisition Carter Hutton is playing well; in 19 appearances, Hutton has a 2.50 GAA and a .920 SV%.

Oilers

  • Ken Hitchcock took over in Edmonton and the team is 2-1-1 in Hitch’s first four games. Hitchcock has been going with Mikko Koskinen in net (he’s played in 3 of the 4 games). Koskinen looks good in the games I’ve watched (most of them since Hitch took over) and has a 6-2-1 with a .923 SV% and 2 shutouts. Oilers former starter, Cam Talbot, is in the last year of this contract and unrestricted on July 1, 2019.
  • The Oilers recalled Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall in 2016) from the AHL. The player has been a bit of a disappointment so far in his NHL career but Hitchcock specifically asked for the player to be recalled because Hitch believes he can help the player improve plus Hitch likes big forwards and Puljujarvi is 6’4” and 200 pounds.
  • Defenseman Andrej Sekera has been skating with the team in practices (he’s recovering from an achilles tear in off-season training) but his return to game action may not be until the new year.

Colorado

  • The Avalanche have won 6 straight games and their top line of MacKinnon-Landeskog-Rantanen are the top line in hockey. Nathan MacKinnon has 8 multi-point games in his past 9 games.

Team Canada Hockey

  • Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and Sean Burke will co-GM Team Canada at the upcoming Spengler Cup. Burke was Canada’s GM at the 2018 Winter Olympics where the team won a bronze medal. Burke was also GM of Canada’s team at the past two gold winning teams at the Spengler Cup. Kevin Dineen will be the team’s head coach with assistant Gord Dwyer and Mike Kitchen. The tournament starts December 26, 2018 in Davos, Switzerland. Canada has won gold in the past 3 Spengler Cup’s.
  • Team Canada will announce the junior aged players invited to Team Canada tryout’s for the 2019 World Junior Tournament on Monday, December 3rd. Training camp opens December 10, 2018 in Victoria. The final roster is expected to be announced on December 15th. The tournament starts on December 26. All of Team Canada’s games are in Vancouver while some other games will be played in Victoria. Tickets are almost completely sold out. Games in Victoria are already sold out and games in Vancouver are close to being sold out.
  • Team Canada’s head coach is Tim Hunter who is currently the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.
  • Goaltender Michael DiPietro, who plays for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL (a 2017 3rd round draft selection of the Canucks) is expected to vie for the starting goalie position. Prince Albert Raiders goaltender and Leafs prospect Ian Scott (2017 4th round) is also expected to be invited to selection camp. On defense, Oilers first rounder & London Knight’s captain, Evan Bouchard, is expected to the team’s #1 defenseman. Noah Dobson (12th overall 2018) an Islanders draft pick is another highly rated defenseman expected to play for Canada at the tournament. At forward, there are 3 players – Robert Thomas (STL), Gabe Valirdi (LA) & Michael Rasmussen (DET) that are eligible to play in tournament but they are with NHL clubs currently. Ducks Max Comtios (a returnee from last year’s team) was just returned to the QMJHL and seems to be someone that will again play for Team Canada. Vegas’ Cody Glass (6th overall 2017) and ‘Habs Nick Suzuki (acquired in the Pacioretty deal) should make the team as well. Coyotes draft pick, Barrett Hayton (5th overall 2018), a two-way center, is another name that gets mentioned as a possibility. Senators draft pick Alex Formenton is expected to make the team; he’s a noted fast skater. Alex Lafreniere (draft eligible 2020) should make the team as well.
  • Team USA is holding their World Juniors training camp in Everett, Washington from December 14-18. Jack Hughes, the expected number 1 draft selection in the 2019 entry draft, is the star for the Americans.

Injuries

  • The Bruins are without their number one center, Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron suffered rib & sternoclavical injuries in a game Nov. 16th and the he’s to re-evaluated in 4 weeks (from the date of injury). Bergeron had recorded 9 goals and 17 assists in 19 games before the injury.
  • Also with the Bruins, defenseman Kevan Miller will miss at least a month after getting hit in the throat with a puck. Fellow defenseman Zdeno Chara is also injured with the knee problem.
  • New LA Kings forward Carl Hagelin will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury.
  • Canucks star forward Brock Boeser just returned from a groin injury.
  • Penguins forward Patrick Hornqvist is out of action with a concussion.
  • LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is nearing a return from his knee injury.

High Profile RFA’s that need a new contracts this summer

  • The following young stars are all RFA’s, meaning they need a new contract this summer and do not have the ability to go to arbitration.
    • Flames Matthew Tkachuk
    • Lightning Brayden Point
    • Jets Patrik Laine
    • Leafs Auston Matthews
    • Leafs Mitch Marner
    • Avs Mikko Rantanen
    • ‘Canes Sebastian Aho
    • Canucks Brock Boeser
  • Some experts see this summer as a changing of the CBA landscape because these 22 year old young stars want to be paid big money out of their entry level contract and are not interested in bridge deals. The Nylander contract is the first of these (his contract expired this past summer) but when he signs, it will start to set the financial marketplace for these young restricted free agents (the stars of the RFA group). This could also affect players age 30+ as the young players are wanting more money at a younger age; there is not as much left for the 30+ players since the young players are taking a bigger chunk of the cap earlier in their careers. The game is younger and faster than it’s ever been.
  • For the Leafs, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are also RFA’s but have not achieved as much as the others played mentioned above.
  • Jets Kyle Connor (23 GP 10 G & 14 A) is another good, young player that is in the final year of his entry level contract.

Odds & Ends

  • San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will be playing his first game against his former team when the Sharks visit the Senators on Saturday. Karlsson has had a bit of a slow start in San Jose; in 26 games, he’s recorded 2 goals and 13 assists. Karlsson is in final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He can sign for up to seven seasons with San Jose at any time but he can’t sign a max/8 year deal until after this season’s trade deadline (February 25, 2019).
  • LA Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk has seen his ice time decrease under new head coach Willie Desjardins. This past Sunday in LA’s win against Edmonton, Kovalchuk played a season-low 6:20. Kovalchuk signed a 3 year $18.75 M ($6.25 M/season) contract in the summer. I believe Desjardins has issues with Kovalchuk’s defensive commitment. The player is pointless in the team’s last 9 games but still tied for the team lead in points with 14.
  • Vegas has a 4 game winning streak going. The team had an uneven start but head coach Gerard Gallant says the team is starting to find their game. They lost to the Flames 7-2 on November 19th but since have reeled off 4 wins in a row. Forward Max Pacioretty has 9 points on 6 goals in his past 6 games.
  • Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, 34, is on pace to start 69 games this season. It would be the most starts of Fleury’s 15 year career.
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 625th career goal on Monday. Ovi is tied for 15th all-time in goals scored with Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic. Ovechkin is 33 years old and if he plays for 3-4 more season’s and records, modest guess, 30 goals /season, he would end up in the top 5 all-time in goals scored.
  • Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk has 12 points in 13 games in Ottawa. He’s recorded 4 points in his past 5 games.
  • The Vancouver Canucks are struggling to get wins. They are 1-7-2 in their past 10 games.
  • Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to game action Tuesday against Carolina. Weber had not played in NHL game in 344 days; his last game was December 16, 2017. Weber played over 25 minutes in his first game back.
  • Boston Bruins legend Rick Middleton will have his #16 jersey retired by the Bruins organization this Thursday before the Bruins play the NY Islanders.
  • The NY Rangers will retire Vic Hadfield’s #11 jersey on December 2.
  • Penguins top defenseman Kris Letang is now tied for the franchise lead in games played by a Penguins defenseman with 703 games played.
  • Montreal defenseman Karl Alzner was placed on waivers this week and went unclaimed. His $4.65 M/season contract could be a reason team’s don’t want to claim him. Alzner is now playing for the ‘Habs AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket, but his agent and ‘Habs GM Bergevin are looking for other teams that may be interested in acquiring him. The ‘Habs would most likely have to retain salary to make a deal work.
  • Capitals tough forward Tom Wilson has recorded 6 goals and 6 assists in 8 games-basically since he returned from suspension. Impressive numbers.
  • Sidney Crosby has 14 points in his last 8 games including a hat trick against the Avalanche on Wednesday night.
  • Jets star Patrik Laine had 3 hat tricks in the month of November. Laine is tied for the league-lead in goals with 19. The last player with 3 hat tricks in a calendar month was Alex Kovalev in February 2001.
  • NY Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk appears to be a good young defenseman. In 51 career games at the NHL level, Pionk has recored 29 points which ranks him among the leaders in points after a Rangers defenseman’s first 50 games:
    • Brian Leetch 48 points
    • Ron Greshner 36 points
    • Sergei Zubov 33 points
    • Neal Poink 29 points
  • Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller is one game from tying John Vanbiesbrouck for most wins for the USA-born goaltender. All-time wins USA-born goaltenders:
    • John Vanbiesbrouck 374
    • Ryan Miller 373
    • Tom Barrasso 369
    • Mike Richter 301
    • Jonathan Quick 293
  • Pekka Rinne became the winningest Finland-born goaltender in NHL  history when he recorded his 320 career game on November 22. Rinne passed previous leader, retired former Sharks and Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Rinne, along with Frederik Andersen, have to be the early season favorites to win the Vezina trophy as the league’s top goaltender. Rinne, in 16 appearances this season, has a 10-3-1 record with a .938 SV% and a 1.77 GAA.
  • In Ottawa, the LeBreton Flats project is in jeopardy after Eugene Melnyk and partner John Ruddy had a disagreement. It’s unclear at this point where this is going but it does not sound good for the Senator’s plan of getting a downtown arena.
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NHL News & Notes to 15 Nov 2018

Here are a few news & notes items from around the NHL.

League-related

  • The General Managers had a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, over 5 hours the GM’s discuss some of the following topics:
    • On Seatttle – if the NHL Board of Governors vote for Seattle expansion during the Dec. 3 & 4 meetings, there is still the issue of whether the Seattle franchise starts in the 2020-21 season or the following season. With the KeyArena renovation scheduled to be completed in October of 2020, there is not a lot of wiggle room if there are problems completing the renovations. A possible expansion draft (that Vegas is exempt from) could happen in the Summer of 2020 or 2021 depending on whether Seattle is ready.
    • Goaltender equipment changes – the GM’s are on the side of the league on this issue, i.e. they believe the NHL should stay the course and stick with the new rule regarding smaller goaltender equipment. Average goals per game is 6.14 up from 5.44 in the 2012-13 season.
    • Success of games in Europe and possibility that the league may one day have a Europe-based team or even a European league. This is not a near-term idea but something that is gaining more traction as a possibility overall. Many NHL stars are from Europe and that has helped increase interest there. It seems both the league and NHLPA are intrigued by the idea.
    • Another issue tabled is whether NHL team’s first round picks can be allowed to play their final year of junior eligibility with NHL team’s AHL affiliate. Seems teams want to get their top prospects into their organizations sooner to start working with their coaches. The NHL/CHL agreement is up for renegotiation in June 30, 2020. The CHL has been against this idea as they don’t want their star players leaving sooner than they otherwise would.
    • The GM’s next meet in March in Florida.
  • Capital forward Tom Wilson had his 20 game suspension reduced to 14 games and was back in game action this week. The reduction in salary meant Wilson got back $378,048 in lost salary. The suspension was effectively 16 games since the process took so long. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan has told Wilson his head hits have to stop.
  • Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey was fined $8,467 for an unsportsmanlike incident against Capitals forward TJ Oshie. The fine amount is the max under the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Players were refunded 2.84% of their 2016-17 salaries on November 15 due to the escrow. The escrow is used as the league makes an estimate of hockey-related revenue (HRR) before the start of the season and withholds ~ 10% of player salaries (each pay); when league revenues are realized at season’s end, players usually get a percentage of their money back.

Team Management

  • The Penguins announced they’ve signed General Manager Jim Rutherford to a 3 year extension through the 2021-22 season. Rutherford, 69, has 3 Cups on his resume as a Hockey GM, two with the Penguins and one with the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • Seattle – Dave Tippett, who is a senior adviser for the proposed Seattle team, indicated the other day he’s not looking to be the team’s GM or coach instead looking for a different role in the organization. A Coyotes journalist who knows Tippett expects him to be something like President of Hockey Operations. Some people have speculated on Joel Quenneville to Seattle. Coach Q is making $6 M this season and next to not coach.
  • Former NHL player Adam Oates has been hired by the LA Kings as a skills coach. Oates is a private skills coach to such NHL players as Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey, Zach Parise and others. The Kings indicated Oates will mostly be working with the Kings power play group.
  • Arizona also announced they’ve hired former USA Olympian Lyndsey Fry as special adviser to Coyotes President & CEO Ahron Cohen.  Fry played on the USA Women’s Olympic team in Sochi, Russia where the team won a silver medal. Fry will assist with community initiatives and building the Coyotes brand in Arizona.
  • There’s been some unconfirmed reports that the Arizona Coyotes are for sale with the team looking for a buyer to keep it in Arizona. The Coyotes are currently owned by hedge fund manager Anthony Barroway. It was reported earlier this year that Barroway was looking for an additional investor.
  • New Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton is just 33 years old and is now the youngest coach in the league. He is a former player (drafted in the 2nd round in 2003 by the Islanders) who struggled with injuries (mostly concussions) during his career and ended up playing in Sweden where he started his coaching career (he was injured so often he looked for ways to help the team in the time he was unable to play and got into coaching). He joined the ‘Hawks organization in May 2017 as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rockford. He is a noted strong communicator and will talk to players individually about their play; this is something that was noted by players he coached in Rockford and in Sweden.
  • Along with head coach Joel Quenneville, also dismissed in Chicago were assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen. Coach Q leaves the ‘Hawks organization 2nd in franchise wins with 452 wins (Billy Reay has 516) and had a 452-249-96 regular season record – plus 3 Cups. The team made the post season 9 of his 10 seasons in Chicago. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported this week teams are already inquiring on Quenneville.

Hockey Halls of Fame

  • The Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame announced Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Jets co-owner Mark Chipman have been added to the selection committee. Long time hockey writer Eric Duhatschek recently stepped down from the selection committee and former Panthers special assistant and 4 time Cup winner with the NY Islanders, Bill Torrey, had been on the selection committee but sadly passed away in May.
  • The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame announced that retired Canucks players Daniel & Henrik Sedin will be inducted into the 2019 class next May.
  • Some of the possible candidates for the 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame class in the player category include Patrick Elias, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Daniel Alfredsson and Hayley Wickenheiser.

Leafs

  • The team plays the final game of their 4 game road trip Friday against Anaheim and are 2-1-0 so far. Was an entertaining game against San Jose with the Sharks trying to get at Nazem Kadri most of the night. Seems they wanted pay back for the fight Kadri had with Joe Thornton last January. It was the first win for the Leafs at the SAP Center since 2011 and the team has a chance to sweep California for the first time since 1995 (beat the Kings, Sharks and Anaheim). The team is now 8-1 on the road.
  • Forward Mitch Marner now has 17 points (3 G & 14 A) in 9 road games this season. Marner is on pace for 108 points. His career high in points in a season is 69 (set last season).
  • Kasperi Kapanen scored his 8th goal of the season against the Sharks on Thursday equaling his total from all prior NHL seasons (he had 7 last season in 55 games). Kapanen is on pace for 34 goals. With his speed, he makes things happen & is a really exciting player to watch.
  • Defenseman Morgan Rielly is leading the league in defenseman scoring with 24 points and, with 8 goals, is one goal from tying his career high in goals set in the 2015-16 season. With the Leafs having an incredible power play (26.8%) plus the team is second in the league in goals for per game with an average of 3.58 goals/game, Rielly should continue to be one of the league leaders in points for a defenseman. With only a quarter of the season being played, it’s early but would be incredible if Rielly could be considered for a Norris trophy as the league’s top defenseman.
  • Center John Tavares is on pace for 99 points and 50 goals which would both be career highs.
  • Center Nazem Kadri has 7 goals in his last 10 games whereas in his first 9 games he has zero.
  • Goaltender Freddy Andersen does not get enough credit for the Leafs success. In 10 of his past 12 games, Andersen has allowed 2 or fewer goals. Andersen leads in NHL in wins with 11, has a 2.02 GAA & a SV% of .934.
  • Auston Matthews is with the team on this current road trip as head coach Mike Babcock thought it was better than the player hanging out in Toronto. Matthews is progressing well in his recovery from his shoulder injury that he suffered on October 27.
  • Leafs with and without Matthews in the line-up this season:
    • With – 8-3-0, 3.73 goals/game & 32.1% PP
    • Without – 5-3-0, 3.36 goals/game & 21% PP
  • After Friday’s game against Anaheim, the team returns to Toronto to play Columbus on Monday and then the team plays two games on the road, Carolina on Wed (Nov 21) and Columbus on Friday, Nov. 23.  Auston Matthews could then be nearing a return.
  • All indications are William Nylander wants to stay with the Leafs and the team wants to re-sign him. TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently said a bridge deal makes the most sense at this point. Bob guesses a bridge deal could look something like:
    • Year One: $4 M
    • Year Two: $5 M
    • Year Three: $7 M
  • Experts say the Leafs top 3 prospects are:
    • Defenseman Rasmus Sandin (18th overall in 2018)
      • The Leafs and player still have to determine where he plays longer term this season. He’s played 5 games with the Marlies (2 G & 2 A) but it’s not clear if he will stay in the AHL for the season. Leafs management has said they are waiting until the 10 game mark to see how Sandin does in the AHL and then decide if they return him to Sault Ste Marie (OHL), or he could play in Sweden or stay with the Marlies. It’s expected that both Sandin and Liljegren will represent Sweden at this years IIHF World Junior Tournament in Vancouver.
    • Defenseman Timothy Liljegren (17th overall in 2017)
    • Forward Carl Grundstrom (57th overall in 2016)
  • The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) in partnership with the Leafs announced the City of Toronto will host the 2019 CWHL All-Star game. The game is scheduled for January 20, 2019 at ScotiaBank Arena.  Additionally, the Clarkson Cup championship (the championship trophy for the CWHL) game will take place March 24, 2019 at the home of the AHL Maries, Coca-Cola Coliseum (formerly Ricoh Coliseum).

Transactions

  • Arizona has signed defenseman Jakob Chychrun to a 6 year contract extension at an annual average value of $4.6 M /season. The Coyotes get 2 of Chychrun’s UFA seasons. Chychrun is a former 1st round selection of the Coyotes (16th overall) but has struggled with injuries in his career. He’s played just one game this season after having off-season knee surgery. He played 50 games last season and recorded 14 points while averaging 20 minutes of ice time per game.
  • LA and Pittsburgh, two struggling teams, swapped forwards this week. Carl Hagelin goes to LA for Tanner Pearson. The Penguins retained $250 K of Hagelin’s $4 M salary. Hagelin is a UFA at season’s end and it’s suspected the Kings will trade the player for assets at the trade deadline. Pearson has two more seasons at $3.75 M remaining on his contract and recorded just 1 assist in 19 LA games. He has recorded 44 and 40 points in the past two seasons.

Calgary Flames

  • The team has played one of the 4 games on their current home stand and lost to the Canadiens on Thursday night 3-2. The Flames out shot the ‘Habs 45-22 but veteran goaltender Mike Smith struggled again and now has a .876 SV% and a 3.48 GAA. The league is too close to have a goaltender struggle for large parts of the season.
  • Twenty one year old forward Matthew Tkachuk is leading the team in scoring with 21 points on 9 goals after 19 games. Tkachuk is a RFA at season’s end and has said he wants to stay in Calgary long term. GM Treliving has tried to keep captain Mark Giordano as the team’s highest paid player ($6.75 M/season) and 2 seasons ago Johnny Gaudreau’s contract was for the same annual average salary but experts see Tkachuk’s new contract eclipsing the $6.75 M/season. If the organization can get the player on a 6 year deal they would get 2 of the players UFA seasons.
  • James Neal is one point from 500 career points; he’s played 722 career games. Neal has just 4 points on 3 goals after 20% of the season. I believe when Neal signed in Calgary (5 years at $5.75 M /season), he thought he’d be on one of the team’s top two forward lines but he’s been on the 3rd line. Off-season acquisition Elias Lindholm has played so well with Gaudreau and Monahan, there’s been no opportunity for Neal to move up in the line-up.

Milestones & Streaks

  • Panthers forward Mike Hoffman has an active 14 game point streak going. For the season, has has 15 points in 15 games. Good for him as it can be an adjustment to adapt to a new team (and a new city). The 14 game point streak is a Panthers franchise record.
  • LA Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf is two games from playing in his 1,000 career game. Phaneuf, 33, has one assists this season.
  • Islanders sophmore forward Mathew Barzal reached the 100 point mark for his career. Barzal, 21, is a huge part of the Islanders future. He reached the 100 career point mark at a rate that ranks among the league’s top scores.
    • Fewest games to reach 100 career points among active skaters
      • Ovechkin – 77 games
      • Crosby – 80 games
      • Malkin – 89 games
      • McDavid – 92 games
      • Paul Stastny – 99 games
      • Mathew Barzal – 101 games
  • This week Sharks center Joe Thornton recorded his 400th career goal. Noted as one to the top passers to ever play in the NHL, the 400 goals is an incredible milestone. Only 11 players in NHL history have 1,000 assists plus 400 goals. They are:
    • Wayne Gretzky
    • Jaromir Jagr
    • Mark Messier
    • Gordie Howe
    • Ron Francis
    • Marcel Dionne
    • Mario Lemieux
    • Joe Sakic
    • Steve Yzerman
    • Ray Bourque
    • Joe Thornton
  • Joe also became the 19th player in NHL history to play in 1500 games.
  • Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson recorded his 400th career assist in the same game as Joe Thornton recorded his 400th career goal.
  • Jets center Blake Wheeler has an 11 game point streak going. He’s recorded two goals and 18 assists over the 18 games.
  • Arizona forward Brad Richardson recently played in his 700th career game.
  • Wild forward Zach Parise recently recorded his 700th career point.
  • Predators star defenseman PK Subban recently played in his 600th career game.

Injuries

  • Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk returned to the line-up Thursday (Nov. 15) after missing 16 games with a knee injury. JVR was hit on the knee with a shot in the Flyers second game of the season.
  • Devils center Brian Boyle has been placed on the injury reserve (IR) with an upper body injury. When a player is placed on IR it means he will miss at least 7 days and the team can add (or call up) a player to replace the injured player.
  • Penguins center Sidney Crosby is out of action with a short term upper body injury (not on IR).
  • Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is scheduled for surgery on Friday, Nov. 16th after suffering a facial fracture in a game this week against Nashville. Fowler was hit in the face with the puck after he placed his stick into the line of an incoming shot against the Preds (the puck deflected off his stick into his face). The team said a time frame for recovery will be announced on Friday after the surgery.
  • Zdeno Chara injured his leg this week in a game against the Avalanche. Chara returned from the team’s road trip to be assessed in Boston. Chara is averaging 21 minutes of ice time this season for Boston so they will miss him if he’s out for a while. Also with the Bruins, defenseman Charlie McAvoy is still not recovered from a concussion he suffered in October. No time table on his return.
  • Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson will be out 6-8 weeks with a broken thumb.
  • Lightning starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy fractured his foot and is out of action for 4-6 weeks.
  • Oilers forward Tobias Reider will be out of action about a month with an undisclosed injury.
  • Predators defenseman PK Subban was placed in the Injured Reserved List and will miss at least a week. Teammate Dan Hamhuis was activated from IR.
  • Ducks forward Patrick Eaves was placed on the injury reserve list with an undisclosed injury. Eaves has played in just 5 games this season and missed most of last season with a serious virus issue.
  • Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask missed about a week as he took personal leave from the team and has since returned. Rask is having a trying season and Jaro Halak has emerged at the team’s top goaltender.
  • Ducks forward Ondrej Kase has returned to game action after missing the first 18 games of the season with a concussion. Kase is an emerging young player for the Ducks. He signed a 3 year contract this off-season at an average annual value of $2.6 M.
  • Dallas Stars forward Alex Radulov is back playing after missing 10 games with an undisclosed injury.
  • LA Kings starting goaltender Jack Campbell (filling in for the injured Jonathan Quick) will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee (same injury as Quick). Campbell did require surgery on the knee. It’s a tough injury for a goaltender that is trying to make it in the NHL. In his 4 starts before the injury, Campbell had made 112 saves on on 117 shots or .957 SV%. Cal Petersen was called up from the Ontario Reign (the Kings AHL affiliate that are based in Ontario, California) to back fill for Campbell.
  • Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich will miss the next 4 – 6 weeks with a broken thumb.
  • Montreal captain Shea Weber is on track to return to game action in mid December. He’s traveling with the team and taking part in practices.
  • Former Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick will be out of action at least 3 more weeks with an injury.
  • Dallas Stars number one defenseman John Klingberg broke his hand and will miss a month.
  • Canucks Brock Boeser is on the shelf with a groin injury. He’s been unable to start skating so is still week to week.
  • Senators rookie forward Brady Tkachuk is back playing after missing 9 games with a ligament tear in his leg.
  • Blues forward Patrick Maroon is out of action with an upper body injury. He’s in the process of getting the injury assessed.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets have been hit by the flu bug, Panarin, Bobrovsky and Riley Nash all missed time this week because of it.
  • For the NY Islanders, forward Andrew Ladd was placed on IR with an leg injury as were forwards Casey Cizikas & Matt Martin.
  • Dallas Stars forward Devon Shore is out of action for 7-10 days with a lower body injury.
  • Vegas forward Erik Haula was injured Nov. 6 against the Leafs (was stretchered off the ice) is still being assessed and the team/player are getting additional medical opinions. It’s looking like it’ll be month to month and not week to week.
  • Flyers starting goaltender Brian Elliott appeared to injure his groin Thursday night in a game against New Jersey. He had to leave the game as was replaced by Calvin Pickard. No word on how much time Elliott will miss.

Odds & Ends

  • Defenseman Paul Martin announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday. Martin, 37, played 870 games over 14 seasons for the Devils, Penguins and Sharks. Martin impressively made the playoffs in every season of his 14 NHL seasons but did not win a Cup. When Sharks defenseman Brent Burns won the Norris for the league’s top defenseman, Martin was his d partner.
  • Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for doing well in the Max Pacioretty deal plus new ‘Habs forward Max Domi is leading Montreal in scoring with 10 goals and 13 assists after 19 games played. Domi has an many points as Leafs center John Tavares. Tomas Tatar, who was part of the Pacioretty deal, has 16 points on 8 goals this season; he recorded just 6 points in 20 games after he was acquired by Vegas last season.
  • Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo currently has a record of 4-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA and a .956 SV%. Luongo is the first goaltender age 39 or older to start a season 4-0 since Dominik Hasek did in the 2005-06 season.
  • Former Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec has retired from the NHL & has moved back to the Czech Republic. He says he wants to play at least 2 more seasons in the Czech league. He’s been practicing with the team Jaromir Jagr owns, the Klado Knights, but is still deciding which Czech league team he will play for.
  • The Red Wings are starting to play better hockey, after a 1-7-2 start they’ve won 7 of their last 8 games.
  • Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt will play his first game of the season this Sunday when the Golden Knights play the Oilers in Edmonton. Schmidt was suspended for 20 games from the start of the season for using a banned substance.
  • The Penguins are last in the Eastern Conference with a 7-7-3 record. They looked very good when they played their Canadian road trip 2 weeks ago and went 4-0 on the trip but are really having trouble getting wins since. Goaltender Matt Murray has not been very good this season with a 3.87 GAA and a .886 SV%.
  • Oilers forward Milan Lucic is still struggling to put up points and be productive. Lucic has 2 even strength goals in his past 73 games. He was on the team’s 2nd line but has since been moved to the team’s 3rd line. Lucic is in the 3rd year of a 7 year contract that pays him $6 M/season. He seems to be the player that’s been most affected by the league becoming younger and faster.
  • Bruins forward David Pastrnak leads the NHL with 17 goals – 4 more than second place Jeff Skinner. Pastrnak has scored 30.4% of the Bruins goals this season. Just 22 years old, Pastrnak is an emerging NHL superstar.
  • Canucks sensational rookie Elias Pettersson has gone 4 straight games without recording a point.
  • The Sabres are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games. Jeff Skinner is leading the team in goals with 13 and points with 20 in 18 games. Skinner is a UFA on July 1, 2019. Starting goaltender Carter Hutton has played well for them (.916 SV%).
  • Will be interesting to see what NHL leading scorer Mikko Rantanen’s next contract looks like. Rantanen, 22, has 29 points in 18 games this season and is in the final year of his entry level contract. The team wanted to start contract discussions with his agent but the player prefers to wait until the off-season.
  • The pre-tournament schedule for the 2019 IIHF World Juniors Tournament was recently announced. This is going to be a awesome Christmas time tournament.
  • Some experts see LA as a team that now can’t possibly make the post-season (because of their slow start). The team is last in the NHL in points with 11 after 19 games. Generally, GM’s say teams out of a playoff position at US Thanksgiving (November 22) are really challenged to make the playoffs.
  • In Pittsburgh, the Mario Lemieux Foundation donated $5 M to U of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center to establish the Mario Lemieux Immunotherapy Center.
  • Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat is on pace for 39 goals and 70 points. His career high in goals is 22 and points 52. This season he’s recorded 14 points in 14 road games while playing with different players since the team has had numerous injuries. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently indicated Horvat, 23, will be announced as the team’s captain next season.
  • All signs point to Senators forward Matt Duchene staying with Ottawa long term. The team and agent for the player are in substantive talks about getting the player, who is a UFA after this season, signed to a new deal.
  • The Arizona Coyotes are 7-3-1 in their past 11 games and 9-8-1 overall. The team has scored an incredible 10 goals in 58 shorthanded situations; they score a goal shorthanded 17.2% of the time and have a league-leading penalty killing percent of 91.4%.  Leading the way for Arizona is off-season addition forward Michael Grabner with 4 shorthanded goals. The record for shorthanded goals in a season is 36 and the Coyotes are on pace for 46.
  • Lightning forward Brayden Point scored 3 goals in 91 seconds over the 1st and second periods in a game Thursday night against Pittsburgh. It’s the fastest hat trick since expansion in 1967-68. Point is now leading the Lightning in points (22) & goals (12). The player is in the final year of his entry level contract and I expect getting him signed to a new contract will be a top off-season priority for Lightning GM Julian BrisBrois.
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NHL News & Notes to 05 Nov 2018


Here are a few news items from around the NHL.

Hockey Hall of Fame Weekend

  • This weekend is Hockey Hall of Fame weekend with the following individuals being inducted:
    • Gary Bettman (Builder category)
    • Willie O’Ree (Builder category)
    • Martin Brodeur (Player category)
    • Jayna Hefford (Player category)
    • Martin St. Louis (Player category)
    • Aleksander Yakushev (Player category)
    • Leafs announcer Joe Bowen (Media category)
    • NY Post columnist Larry Brooks (Media category)
  • Here is a bit about each of the inductees.
  • Leafs announcer Joe Bowen also was named this year’s recipient of the Foster Hewitt Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.
  • Note: the Hockey Hall of Fame is not part of the NHL; it’s an entirely separate entity.

League-related

  • Jets forward Brendan Lemieux was suspended for 2 games for an illegal check to the head of Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck. The play happened in the second of the two game series against the Panthers in the Global Series in Finland. Lemieux, 22, is the son for former NHL player Claude Lemieux.
  • Former LA Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has officially applied for NHL reinstatement. Voynov was close to being deported after a domestic assault conviction back 3 years ago (when he was a member of the LA Kings) but ended up leaving the USA voluntarily and has played in the KHL the past 3 seasons. Many people are against the league giving the player another chance so Commissioner Bettman would have to consider that plus what message it sends to allow the player back in the league. The Kings still retain Voynov’s rights but apparently are not interested in bringing him back. The NHL says they are still looking at the issue and getting the facts and have no time frame on when something on the matter will be announced.
  • The league has tentative plans to have games in Prague, Stockholm, Germany and Switzerland next season. The league has these games in cities where the star players of the team’s represented are from such as the recent Global Series in Finland where Jets star Patrik Laine and Alex Barkov of the Panthers are from. Currently in the planning stages, the league is apparently looking at having preseason games in Germany and Switzerland as well as season-opening game in Prague and two games in Stockholm (Global Series) in November.
  • Gary Bettman was over in Finland for the Global Series and indicated on the topic of NHL players playing in Winter Olympics, the owners feel the same as in the recent past – there is no benefit for them to disrupt the season to have the players playing in the Olympics.
  • NHL/NHLPA arbitrator Shyam Das is still evaluating the appeal for Capitals forward Tom Wilson. I expect something to be announced soon. Wilson was given a 20 game suspension and is trying to have it reduced. The Capitals 20th game is November 19th. Wilson is losing ~ $60 K for each game he misses.
  • While a number of goaltenders have complained about the smaller goalie equipment (chest protectors), the league recently said they are not going to be making any further adjustment to the new rule.
  • The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has an out clause where the league can opt out on September 1, 2019 (effective at the start of the 2020 season) and the players can similarly opt out on September 19, 2019. Donald Fehr intends to see this CBA discussion/decision through but he’s 70 years old so a replacement as head of the NHLPA would be occurring within the next, estimated, 2 years.
  • The league wants to know from the players at or around this season’s all-star break (January 25, 2019; game in San Jose this season) if they want to do a 2020 World Cup. Some people see the All-Star break as the first indication if the two sides will agree to not re-open the collective bargaining agreement. Many knowledgeable people see that there is real momentum with the league – Vegas success, expansion Seattle team, gaming industry partnerships, healthy growth of revenue year over year (the salary cap has been going up each season) plus in the summer of 2021 the league needs a new USA TV deal that could be lucrative. I heard one commentator note the league and players don’t trust each other very much and there is a history of sour labor relations so this could be a factor as we approach Sept 2019 – when the league and players can opt out of the CBA.
  • Some teams are behind the scenes pushing for the NHL to have more than the 16 playoff teams. When Seattle is approved, there will be 32 teams and 16 playoff teams which means half the league misses out on additional (playoff) revenue. Commissioner Bettman reportedly is of the position only 16 teams should make the post-season.

Seattle

  • The Seattle Hockey Partners announced Monday that they’ve hired former Canucks COO Victor De Bonis as their new COO. The Seattle Group in the same announcement also said they are adding Ken Johnsen as a Construction Executive. Johnsen will oversee the KeyArena $800 M renovation as well as the development of the franchises new practice facility that’s located in the north end of Seattle. De Bonis left the Canucks organization last March after 23 years with the franchise. Seattle group’s CEO Tod Leiweke and De Bonis both worked for the Canucks back in 1994-1999.
  • The December 3 & 4th Board of Governors meeting in Sea Island, Georgia is when the NHL is expected to vote and announce Seattle as the league’s 32nd franchise.

Signings

  • The Nashville Predators extended goaltender Pekka Rinne for 2 more years at $5 M per season. Rinne, 36, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. I was a bit surprised they extended him as Juuse Saros is suppose to be ready to be a number one and Rinne will be 38 in the final year of the new deal. Rinne did, however, win the Vezina trophy last season for the league’s top goaltender. Rinne has had a good start to the season though missed about a week with a suspected concussion. In 7 games played this season, Rinne has a 1.63 GAA with a .948 SV%.
  • Tampa Bay signed forward Yanni Gourde, 26, to a 6 year extension at an annual avg value of $5.16 M. The deal includes a full no trade clause in the first 3 seasons and a partial no trade condition in the final 3 seasons. The Lightning also need to get forward Brayden Point signed but apparently both sides have agreed to wait until the off-season to discuss a deal. Point will be a RFA at season’s end.

LA Kings

  • As was announced on Sunday, John Stevens is out in LA and former Canucks coach Willie Dejardins is the team’s new interim head coach. Stevens had been in the final year of his contract. Also dismissed with Stevens was Kings assistant coach Don Nachbaur. The Kings other assistant coach Dave Lowry remains and former NHL player Marco Sturm has joined Desjardins staff as an assistant coach. Sturm is regarded as a top up and coming coach and has experienced success coaching Team Germany. Some see him as a future NHL head coach. Stevens was 49-36-9 from the 2016-2017 season plus 13 games this season as the Kings head coach. GM Rob Blake said the team lacked enthusiasm and passion and it was noticeable right from the start of the exhibition season. The Kings have the fewest points in the NHL with 4 wins, 8 losses and 1 overtime loss after 13 games played.

Calgary Flames

  • The Flames are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games and are leading the Pacific Division. The team lost 9-1 at home against Pittsburgh on October 25 and, since then, they are 4-0-1.
  • Head coach Bill Peters really relies on the top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm for most of the offense. Other players are reportedly asking for more ice team such as 3rd liners Sam Bennett and UFA signing James Neal.
  • The team has come back from being behind after 2 periods five times in the 15 games this season & have outscored their opponents 28-11 in 3rd periods. Head coach Bill Peters seems to have the players motivated and credits the players for being strong mentally to keep working when things aren’t going well.
  • Off-season acquisition forward Elias Lindholm has turned into an excellent addition to the team. He can play center or wing but plays on the top line and has 9 goals in his first 14 games with the Flames. He’s the first Flames player to score as many goals in his first 14 games with the franchise since Doug Risebrough did back in 1982-83. He’s skilled offensively plus defensively aware. His career high in goals is 17 in his rookie year so he could easily double that total this season. Lindholm is on a reasonable 6 year deal at $4.85 M /season.
  • Starting goaltender Mike Smith has struggled this season and currently has a 3.71 GAA and a .871 SV%. Smith was excellent for half of last season then got injured and was not the same after he returned. At age 36 and a pending UFA, the team may need an experienced goaltender next season.
  • Defenseman Mark Giordano has exceeded expectations this season. Fifteen points in the team’s first 15 games while being excellent defensively and playing over 24 minutes a game. Gio is an older player (35 years old) in a young league but still the top defenseman on the team by a lot.
  • Flames prospect Dmitry Zavgorodniy has been added to the Russia Roster for the Canada vs Russia series that started Monday, Nov. 4th in Kamloops.  Zavgorodniy is a LW that’s playing this season for Rimouski of the QMJHL. Zavgorodniy, 18, will play for Russia in the 2 games against the QMJHL all-stars. The player has impressed at Flames training camp and as a seventh round draft selection, 198th overall in 2018, no one expected much from him. His also a smaller player but is making strides in his development.

Leafs

  • The Leafs played an excellent road game Saturday night in Pittsburgh and won 5-0. The team now has a 6-0-0 record on the road this season. It’s the first time they’ve started as strong on the road since the 1940-41 season when they went 7-0-0 before losing a road game.
  • The team is on pace for 105 points, the same as last season.
  • Morgan Rielly is leading the NHL in scoring from a defenseman with 6 goals and 12 assists for 18 points after 14 games played. Morgan recorded 6 goals all of last season. Just 24 years old, Rielly is still getting better every season. His offensive numbers rank him among franchise leaders for points this early in the season. Most points through team’s first 14 games for defenseman in Leafs franchise history:
    • 20 pts Borje Salming 1980-81
    • 19 pts Harry Cameron in 1917-18
    • 18 pts Borje Salming 1977-78
    • 18 pts Tomas Kaberle 2009-10
    • 18 pts Morgan Rielly 2018-19
  • John Tavares is on track for his top season as far as points, he’s on pace for 94 points whereas his career high is 84.
  • Mitch Marner, for me, is the player offensively that drives the Leafs. He makes so much happen with his skating a passing ability and brings a lot of energy every game. Will be interesting to see what his next contract looks like. For me, he’s as valuable as any player on the roster.
  • Goaltender Freddy Andersen has started strong this season with 2.28 GAA & a .924 SV%. Freddie has been a noted slow starter; his October stats since he’s been in Toronto are:
    • 2016 – .876 SV%
    • 2017 – .896 SV%
    • 2018 – .919 SV%
  • I’ve liked forward Zach Hyman’s game this season though he has just the one goal. He brings a hard working, consistent effort every game.
  • The team has struggled a bit at home, though, going 1-4-0 in their last 5 games at home and being outscored 14-6. They’ve been outscored 7-0 in the first 2 periods in their past 5 home games. Marner says they need to get in on the forecheck and work the puck down low in the offensive zone.
  • Something has to give on the Nylander situation soon. The organization is not revealing much in terms of if they are considering trading the player but with the December 1st deadline approaching (if the player is not signed by Dec 1 he can’t play in the NHL this season), something soon has to happen. I really think the organization wants to keep the player and he wants to stay but the two sides can’t agree on dollars. Myself, I see Nylander as expendable as Kapanen can play his role just as well (and for cheaper).
  • The team has 2 home games this week, Tuesday vs Vegas and Friday vs New Jersey and then play the Bruins on Saturday in Boston.

Streaks & Milestones

  • Hottest teams (last 10 games played):
    • Nashville 8-2-0
    • Minnesota 7-2-1
    • Lightning 7-2-1
    • Islanders 6-2-2
    • Canadiens 6-3-1
    • Edmonton 6-3-1
    • Flames 6-3-1
    • Jets 6-3-1
    • Coyotes 6-4-0
  • Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal recently recorded his 400th career goal. Staal reached the milestone in his 1,106 career games (.36 goals / game). There are only 5 other active NHL players with 400 goals:
    • Alex Ovechkin (617 goals)
    • Patrick Marleau (538 goals)
    • Ilya Kovalchuk (421 goals)
    • Sidney Crosby (417 goals)
    • Marian Gaborik (407 goals)
  • Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews recored his 300th career goal. Toews reached the milestone in 806 games (.37 goals / game). Toews is the 6th ‘Hawks player to record as many goals and the second player drafted in 2006 to record 300 goals (Phil Kessel is the other).
  • Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his 50th career shutout recently. Fleury is 28th all-time in goaltender shutouts; tied with former Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood.
  • Sabres forward Jason Pominville recently played in his 1,000 career game. Pominville, now 35, has recorded 710  points in the 1,000 games.
  • Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey also recently played in his 1,000 career game as did Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza. Spezza is the third player from the 2001 draft to play 1,000 games (Dan Hamhuis 1,038 games and Tomas Plekanec 1,001 games are the others). Spezza is in the final year of his contract and is having a more productive season that last season. He’s recorded 10 points in 14 games. He recorded just 26 points last season and was not used much by former Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock. Spezza recently said regarding a new contract, he doesn’t care about the money saying he has enough but really wants to stay in Dallas after this season.
  • Alex Ovechkin is 8th place all-time in powerplay goals with 234 PP goals. Dave Andreychuk is the NHL all-time leader in PP goals with 274.
  • Vancouver Canucks rookie star Elias Pettersson became the youngest Canucks player ever to record 5 points in a game. Brock Boeser and Pettersson have incredible chemistry on the ice and seem to really enjoy playing together.

Odds & Ends

  • Former Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty returns to Montreal on Saturday as Vegas plays the ‘Habs at the Bell Center. Pacioretty has recently missed time with an injury but is getting better and should play on Saturday.
  • Canadiens captain Shea Weber is rehabbing his knee from off-season surgery and has been traveling with the team since the start of the season. Weber is expected back playing in December sometime.
  • Rangers veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is two wins away moving into 7th place in all-time wins. With the two more wins, Lundqvist would tie Jacques Plante with 437 career wins.
  • Oilers back-up goaltender Mikko Koskinen has won his first 3 appearances this season. Koskinen has won against league-leading Nashville plus against Chicago and Detroit. He currently has a .935 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA. Koskinen, a native of Finland, says he wear jersey #19 because his favorite player growing up was Steve Yzerman. The Oilers really need a steady back-up as the past two seasons their back-up’s have won just 5 games (in each season). Oilers starter Cam Talbot is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • While Ottawa (5-6-3) has not had a strong start, they have to be excited about defenseman Thomas Chabot. Chabot (18th overall in 2015) is leading the team in points with 3 goals and 14 assists for 17 points while playing over 22 minutes a game. Last season in Chabot’s rookie season the player recorded 25 points in 63 games. Wondering if the 21 yo defenseman could possibly a future Senators captain.
  • Arizona has the league’s top penalty killing percent at 92.1%. The Coyotes have had just 3 PP goals scored against them this season. The team also has a league-leading 7 short handed goals. The team is 7-6-0 on the season.
  • The Oilers returned first round selection (2018) defenseman Evan Bouchard to his junior team, the London Knights, and Ottawa returned Alex Formenton (47th overall in 2017) to his junior team, also the London Knights. Both players will be playing for Team OHL in the upcoming Canada vs Russia Series. Team OHL plays Russia on November 8th in Sarnia. Both players are also expected to play for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Tourament that is in Victoria and Vancouver starting around Christmas time (2018).
  • San Jose Sharks emerging star forward Timo Meier has recorded 11 goals in team’s first 14 games. It’s the most goals of any Sharks player through the team’s first 14 games in franchise history. Meier, 22, recorded 21 goals in 81 games last season for the Sharks. Logan Couture has also had a strong start to the season with 16 points in the team’s first 14 games. Couture also has an active 9 game point streak going (5 goals and 9 assists).
  • The Oilers signed forward Alex Chaisson to a training camp PTO and he now has 6 goals in the 9 games he’s played in. He’s been moved onto the team’s second line which is centered by Leon Draisaitl. Chaisson has scored on 46% of his 13 shots this season. He won a Cup with the Capitals last season but wasn’t offered a contract there this summer.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes and the agent for forward Sebastian Aho are working towards a long term contract for the player. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell indicated the two sides are not too far apart of their financial valuing of the player. Both the team and player want to do a long-term deal. So far this season, Aho has 17 points in 14 Hurricanes games on 4 goals. He started the season recording a point in each of the team’s first 12 games.
  • Sharks center Joe Thornton is back playing after missing 9 games with an infection in his knee.
  • The NY Islanders are playing better hockey under new head coach Barry Trotz. The team has at least a point in 7 straight games going 5-0-2 and the team is currently leading the Metropolitan Division.
  • Some knowledgeable hockey people see Canucks head coach Travis Green as a early season leading candidate for Coach of the Year. The team was not expected to do well at all this season and are currently sitting second in the Pacific Division with a 9-6-0 record. Watching a bit of some of their games, the players are really working hard; the team is in almost every game they play.
  • The Coyotes had a 5 game winning streak going before losing Monday night to the Flyers. Former Marlies goaltender Calvin Pickard picked up the win for the Flyers and now has a record of 3-1-1. Both Flyers goaltenders, Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, have injuries so Pickard is getting a chance to play.
  • The Penguins have lost 4 straight games since going 4-0 on their Canadian road trip last week. The team was very frustrated Monday night in their 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at home. Goaltender Matt Murray was pulled after 2 periods.
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NHL News & Notes to 28 Oct 2018

The two Leafs vs Jets games this past week were highly entertaining and hopefully a possible Cup finals preview. Was good to see the Leafs (8-3-0) get some depth scoring on Wednesday; forth line forward Tyler Ennis got his first and forward Nazem Kadri scored as well (also his first of the season). Andersen is playing solid, as usual. The Jets looked as though they were well on their way to a win Saturday, leading 2-0 after 2 periods but the Leafs start to dump the puck in and got on the forecheck which was very effective. They scored three 3rd period goals to win. Was awesome to see Jake Gardiner get his first of the season in his 500th career game. He’s had a solid start to the season. Auston Matthews suffered a shoulder injury in Saturday’s game and will miss the next month. It’s not the same shoulder he injured last season. Matthews missed 20 games last season and the team went 11-7-2 without him.

The Leafs play the Flames on Monday and the Dallas Stars on Thursday, both home games, before traveling to Pittsburgh for a Saturday night match against the very strong Penguins.

Here are a few other news & notes items from around the League.

  • The NHL head office in New York is making an announcement this Monday (Oct. 29)  regarding the league’s foray into sports betting, i.e. betting on NHL games. It seems they are partnering with two or three sports betting organizations to start. There is also talk the league would sell player data to these partner betting organizations. More information will be made public during the NHL’s official announcement on Monday. The betting will not be available in Canada to start.
  • After Saturday’s game against the Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets were flying over to Finland for two games against the Florida Panthers in what the NHL calls the “NHL Global Series”. This is the league’s effort to grow the game more globally and two of the brightest NHL stars from Finland are in the game – Aleksander Barkov for the Panthers and Patrik Laine for the Jets. The two games are both in Helsinki at the Hartwell Arena at 2 PM EST on Thursday, November 1 & Friday, November 2.
  • Capitals forward Tom Wilson has appealed his 20 game suspension that was levied after his open ice hit on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. Commissioner Bettman heard the first appeal and did not change the ruling from NHL player safety at 20 games (Wilson was deemed a repeat offender). The next appeal is being heard on Wednesday, October 31 in NYC by Shyam Das who is a neutral NHL/NHLPA arbitrator. Wilson will have served 10 of the 20 games by the Oct. 31 appeal date. Sundqvist is now healthy and able to return to the Blues line-up. Apparently, the Bettman hearing was quite contentious with the player feeling he’s not being fairly treated.
  • Two well-known people associated with the NHL passed away last week:
    • Former NHL Commissioner John Ziegler
      • There were not a lot of details of Mr. Ziegler’s passing other than he was 84 and had been living in Florida. He grew up in the Grosse Pointe area in Michigan. From some of the tidbits I’ve heard, the league was not as stable back when he was commissioner (1977-1992), there were owner bankruptcies and daily firefighting was part of his work as commissioner. The league grew from 18-24 teams during his tenure and the WHA merged with the NHL. He seemed to have been well respected among those who dealt with him.
    • New York Islanders minority owner Charles Wang
      • Mr. Wang founded the software company Computer Associates with a business partner back in 1976. He was the Islanders majority owner from 2001 – 2016 and apparently loved the team and wanted it to stay on Long Island. The team lost a lot of money while he owned it. He tried, unsuccessfully, to get a new building built on Long Island and ended up selling majority interest to Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin in 2016. Mr. Wang died from lung cancer, he was 74. The Islanders will be wearing a “CBW” patch on their uniforms for the rest of the season.

NHL Insiders

  • Rangers center Kevin Hayes gets mentioned a bit as being on the move as he’s on just a one year deal and is unrestricted in the summer. The Rangers could use him as a trade chip. Hayes, 26, has said he loves playing in New York and hopes to re-sign there. Sportsnet reported on Saturday the Jets maybe interested in acquiring him as they acquired Paul Stastny last season to be their second line center and then Stastny signed as a UFA with Vegas in July. This is speculation. The Rangers are off to a tough 3-7-1 start under rookie head coach David Quinn. I’ve heard they want to expedite their rebuild that started mid-season last year.
  • Apparently, Oilers 4th line forward Zack Kassian is on the way out. The Oilers are trying to trade him. They are paying him a lot, $2 M per season for this season and next, to play limited minutes.
  • Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the Bruins and defenseman Charlie McAvoy have started contract negotiations (McAvoy is in the final year of his entry level contract). The report indicated the team and player are looking a longer term deal. Kypreos reported McAvoy’s agent is using the Aaron Ekblad contract as a comparable ($7.5 M /season on a 8 year term). Myself, I did not really realize the player is in that kind of salary range but with Zdeno Chara probably in his final season, the Bruins have a need for skilled defenseman. McAvoy recorded 32 points last season with the Bruins.

Blackhawks (6-3-3)

  • Patrick Kane has started the season strong with 18 points in 12 games on 11 goals. Kane is the first ‘Hawk to score 11 goals in the team’s first 11 games since Bobby Hull did so in 1967-68. It’s also the fewest games Kane has required to reach 11 goals.
  • ‘Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford has looked very good in his 5 starts. He missed 10 months with a concussion and vertigo. There was doubt whether Crawford would be able to resume his NHL career. He has a 2.44 GAA and a .919 SV% in the 5 starts. It’s a bit remarkable he’s been so strong after such a tough injury and missing so much time.
  • Captain Jonathan Toews is apparently a lot faster this season and generally is playing better than last season. Toews had one of his worst statistical seasons last season (52 points on 20 goals) and really worked in the off-season to be better and faster this season. He has recorded 11 points on 6 goals after 12 ‘Hawks games this season. The team has surprised some people with their 6-3-3 start.

Transactions

  • Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch signed a 7 year contract with the team at an annual average value of $4.75 M. Vegas bought 3 of Tuch UFA seasons.
  • Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt signed a 5 year contract at an average annual value of $5.95 M. Schmidt is currently serving a 20 game suspension for using a banned substance. He’s skating with an Austrian team while he waits out the suspension. Some people see the Schmidt contract as a Jake Gardiner comparable, Schmidt is a year younger than Gardiner. Jake put up 52 points last season whereas Schmidt recorded 36. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun puts Gardiner’s UFA value at about $6.5 M / season. The Leafs have Marner, Matthews and Nylander to sign so it’s gets tricky getting everyone signed within the $78.5 M per team cap.
  • Jordin Tootoo announced his retirement from the NHL after 13 seasons and 723 games. He was skating with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League and hoping to get interest from an NHL team. He was also looking at Europe but now says he plans to spend some time with his wife and 2 kids. He also plans to continue to be a role model for indigenous athletes.

Injuries

  • Coyotes forward Christian Dvorak tore his pectoral muscle in a practice and recovery is estimated as at least a couple of months. The player recently had surgery on the injury. Dvorak, 22, is considered part of the young core of the Coyotes. He signed a 6 year contract at an AAV of $4.45 M in the summer.
  • Devils goaltender Cory Schneider was assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton to get in some games as he is recovering from off-season hip surgery and has yet to play for the Devils this season.
  • Columbus star defenseman Seth Jones has returned to the Blue Jackets line-up after missing the first 7 games of the season with a knee injury. Would be good to see Jones get in the Norris trophy discussion this season and he’s a young star in the league.
  • Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, last season’s Vezina trophy winner, was placed on injury reserve by the team after he suffered a suspected concussion. The Preds recalled goaltender Miro Svoboda from the AHL. Juuse Saros steps in as the Preds number one in Rinne’s absence. People see Saros as next season’s starter for the Preds as Rinne is in the final year of his contract and will be 36 at the start of next season. I did hear this weekend that Rinne is recovering well from his injury and should be back soon.
  • Oilers forward Ty Rattie was placed on injury reserve and a player named Cooper Marody was called up from the AHL. Rattie was a junior hockey scoring star putting up a lot of points and had a good preseason for the Oilers. It’s not clear yet if the player can translate his preseason success to the regular season.
  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick re-injured himself after missing time already this season. This recent injury is just described as lower body. The Kings are really struggling to start the season with a 3-7-1 record after 11 games. The media are speculating on the security of head coach John Stevens job. GM Rob Blake has publicly said he’s very unhappy with the team right now.
  • Senators center Zack Smith suffered a broken bone in his face after getting hit with a skate. Smith will be out at least a month.
  • Blues goaltender Jake Allen suffered a suspected concussion on Saturday in a game against Chicago. It’s unclear how much time Allen could miss. Back-up goaltender Chad Johnson steps into the number 1 position in Allen’s absence.
  • Last season’s Norris trophy winner Victor Hedman was injured on Friday and is expected to miss a week.
  • Canucks defensemen Alex Edler suffered a MCL sprain in his knee and will miss 3-6 weeks.
  • Wings veteran defenseman Mike Green returned to the Wings line-up on Friday after missing the first nine games of the season with a virus. The team is happy to have him back as he’s their top puck moving defenseman plus he has a lot of experience.
  • Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to game action last week after missing 9 games with a facial fracture suffered in a fight.

Streaks & Milestone

  • Leafs forward Mitch Marner recored his 100th career assist on Saturday. There has been only 3 players in Leafs history to record 100 assists faster than Marner (170 GP):
    • Gus Bodnar 148 GP
    • Joe Primeau 163 GP
    • Syl Apps 166 GP
  • Johnny Gaudreau recorded his 100th career goal and his 300th career point recently. In 323 career games, Gaudreau has 102 goals and 200 assists.
  • Flames center Sean Monahan played in his 400th career game last week. He’s been an excellent draft selection (6th overall in 2013) for the organization. Good for 30 goals a season.
  • Flames defenseman TJ Brodie played in his 500th career game last week. Been a tough start to the new season for Brodie who usually plays on the Flames top d pairing with captain Mark Giordano. A lot of give away’s and Brodie has been moved down to the second and sometimes 3rd d pairing.
  • San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic played in his 900th career game.
  • Canucks Chris Tanev played in his 400th career game the other day.
  • Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal played in his 1,100 game last week. Staal is 2nd among active players in games played (Patrick Marleau has played 1,105 games). Only 188 players have played as many NHL games as Staal. He’s an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Scored 42 goals last season but some wonder if he can scored as many again this season. He has 4 after 12 games so far this season.
  • Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter recently played in his 1,000 career game. The organization presented him with a silver stick for the achievement. Suter is only the 11th USA-born player to play in 1,000 games. Suter also recently recorded his 500th career point.
  • Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville recorded his 700th career point last week. Pominville is the 3rd player from the 2001 draft to reach the milestone (the others Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Spezza).
  • Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien reached the 500 point mark for his career. Byfuglien reached the mark in his 837th game. He is, at the age of 33, still a top defenseman in the league. Byfuglien was drafted in the final round, the 8th round, in 2003.
  • Leafs forward Tyler Ennis played in his 500th career game this past week.
  • Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer coached in his 750th career game this week. DeBoer is the 11th active NHL head coach to coach as many games.
  • Bruce Boudreau recorded his 100th win as Minnesota Wild head coach. Boudreau has an impressive record of 100-53-21 (.635) in his tenure in Minnesota. He needs to have post season success as this is something that has alluded him to date.
  • Canadiens goaltender Carey Price moved into second place in games won as a Canadiens goaltender with his 290th victory. The milestone seems to have meant a lot to Price. He is now chasing the legend Jacques Plante who recorded 314 wins as a Canadien. The top four wins leaders in Canadiens history now are:
    • Jacques Plante 314 wins
    • Carey Price 290 wins
    • Patrick Roy 289 wins
    • Ken Dryden 258 wins
  • Two core Leafs players that were draft picks of the organization celebrated milestones on Monday:
    • Nazem Kadri played in his 500th game.
    • Morgan Rielly played in his 400th game.
  • Leafs first rounder (2018) Rasmus Sandin played his first Marlies game on Friday and scored. The player had been recovering from an injury. Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe is in the final year of his contract and experts say he should get NHL interest. Keefe is young, 38 years old, and won the AHL championship last season.

Odds & Ends

  • The Penguins wrapped up their 4 game Canadian road trip on Saturday in Vancouver with a perfect 4-0 record and a combined 23 goals for and 6 goals against. The Penguins defeated Toronto 3-0, Edmonton 6-5, Calgary 9-1 and Vancouver 5-0. It’s early in the season but the Penguins still look like a team that can make another Cup run.
  • Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin has a 7 game point streak going and is tied for 2nd overall in NHL scoring with 5 goals and 13 assists for 18 points. Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen leads the NHL in scoring with 21 points on 5 goals after just 12 games. Rantanen is the NHL’s newest superstar. Rantanen, who was drafted 10th overall in 2015, is in the last year of his entry level contract and wants to wait until the off-season to talk about a new deal with Avs management (the organization was open to starting discussions right away). The player recorded 84 points last season as a 21 year old.
  • The MacKinnon, Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog line are now regarded at the top line in hockey (the Bruins line of Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand would be second). The Avs line has combined for 55 points in 12 games played.
    • Mikko Rantanen 5 G & 16 A for 21 Pts (leads NHL is scoring)
    • Nathan MacKinnon 9 G & 9 A for 18 Pts
    • Gabriel Landeskog 10 G & 6 A for 16 Pts
  • Some knowledgeable hockey people regard Lightning forward Brayden Point as the team’s second top forward after Nikita Kucherov and including Steven Stamkos. Point has recorded 14 points in 11 Lightning games this season while playing a strong two way game. Point is in the last year of his entry level contract and should get paid well on his next deal. He’s a bit of a favorite of fans in Calgary since he’s from the city.
  • Oilers back-up goaltender Mikko Koskinen recorded his 1st win of the season Saturday on the road against Nashville. The Oilers got only 5 wins in each of the past 2 seasons from their back-up’s and starter Cam Talbot ends up playing 70 games. Hopefully, Koskinen can be steady this season and the team can cut Talbot’s work load a bit.
  • Jets star Patrik Laine has 3 goals on the season after 12 games played but all 3 goals are on the power play. Jets head coach Paul Maurice bumped Laine down to the forth line on Saturday in the games against the Leafs.
  • Jets back-up goaltender Laurent Brossoit is 3-0 on the season with a .957 SV% and a 1.76 GAA. It’s somewhat surprising as he did not fair well last season in Edmonton as Talbot’s back-up.
  • Leafs forward Patrick Marleau needs 2 assists to become the 33rd player in NHL history to record 500+ goals and 600+ assists. The Hall of Fame awaits his retirement.
  • Canadien’s forward Max Domi is really fitting in with the Canadiens; he leads the team in scoring with 11 points on 5 goals. Domi recorded his 5th goal on February 24th last season (61 games into the season).
  • Active leaders in consecutive games played:
    • Panthers Keith Yandle 723 games
    • Leafs Patrick Marleau 716 games
    • Penguins Phil Kessel 701 games
  • Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall has 29 goals and 46 assists for 75 points in 48 games since the start of 2018.
  • Sabres forward Jeff Skinner is leading the Sabres in scoring after the team’s first 11 games. Skinner has 12 points on 6 goals. The player is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Dallas Stars rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen, 19, is averaging over 21 minutes of ice time a game after the team’s first 10 games. He definitely could be in the Calder trophy race later this season for the league’s top rookie.
  • Carolina is currently carrying 3 goaltenders, Peter Mrazek, Scott Darling and Curtis McElhinney, as are the Flyers (Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard and Michal Neuvirth). It’s not clear if these two teams plan to maintain this going forward but every other NHL team has two.
  • Former 1st overall selection (2011) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been converted from a center to a winger and has meshed well on the wing on the Oilers top line centered by Connor McDavid. RNH has been consistently effective this season putting up 12 points in 9 games while playing 22 1/2 minutes a game.
  • Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho has a point in each of the ‘Canes first 12 games. Aho, 21, is another emerging NHL star.
  • The Kelowna Rockets of the WHL named former NHL defenseman Adam Foote as their new head coach.
  • Kody Clark, Wendel Clark’s son, signed his entry level contract with the Washington Capitals. Kody played his junior career with the Ottawa 67’s and was drafted in the second round, 47th overall by Washington. He’s playing this season with the 67’s.
  • The Toronto Defiant is the newest esports team. Their season starts in February 2019. The owners of the Vancouver Canucks, the Aquilini family, also purchased an esports team. Esports is really popular among the teenage male demographic.
  • The Leafs are holding their training camp in St. John’s, Newfoundland next season. St. John’s is the home of their ECHL affiliate the Newfoundland Growlers. The Leafs will also play a one preseason game in St. John’s.
  • Bruins David Pastrnak has 10 goals in the Bruins first 11 games of the season. Pastrnak signed a 6 year contract at the start of last season at average annual value of $6.66 M. No way Leafs William Nylander is worth as much as Pastrnak.
  • After starting the season 0-2, the Oilers have gone 6-1-1 against teams with a combined 43-27-8 record. The team has started to get some secondary scoring (from the bottom 2 lines) and Talbot has played well.
  • San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier (9th overall in 2015) looks as though he’s taken another strong step in his career. Meier, who was born in Switzerland, has an active 8 game point streak going and has become a strong power forward for the Sharks. Meier scores a lot from right in front of the net where he goes to screen goaltenders and score on rebounds. Meier, 22, has 8 goals already whereas this time last season, he had just 1. He is in the final year of his entry level contract. Teammates have noticed he has matured & has more confidence to hold onto the puck longer and make a play with it.
  • New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle said recently his leukemia is in remission. Good news.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL Round-up to Wed. 17 Oct 2018

Here are a few news & notes items from around the NHL.

Two remaining RFA’s

  • Ducks forward Nick Ritchie – from recent reports, the Ducks and the 22 yo forward are inching closer to a deal. Sounds like the two sides are looking at a 3 year deal. Some people have been a bit critical of Ritchie for not agreeing to the Ducks offer since he still has a lot to prove at the NHL level. Ritchie was selected 2 spots after William Nylander, Nylander went 8th overall in 2014 and Ritchie went 10th. Both players have played 3 full NHL seasons.
     GPGAPtsPPG
    W Nylander1854887135.73
    N Ritchie186263359.32
    Ritchie agreed to a 3 year deal late Wednesday with a average annual value of $1.533 M/season.
    • Year one $1.2 M
    • Year two $1.4 M
    • Year three $2 M
  • Leafs forward William Nylander – apparently Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is over in Switzerland to meet with Nylander and his agent to try and work out a contract. Many experts are pointing to a possible bridge deal as a solution for this stalemate. TSN reported yesterday that the Carolina Hurricanes are following this negotiation closely as they’d be willing to part with a defenseman to land a player like Nylander. The name floated for possible trade bait from the Hurricanes is 23 yo defenseman Brett Pesce. Pesce is in the first year of a 6 year contract at a per year cap number of $4.025 M.

Rumblings from Hockey Insiders

  • TSN reported that Boston is currently looking for a forward, preferably a center and names they’d be willing to part with include Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen. I know Boston wanted to trade David Backes but his 3 more seasons at $6 M at age 34 make it very unlikely there’d be any interest.
  • The agent for Senators forward Matt Duchene and Senators GM Pierre Dorian have started very preliminary discussions about what it would take to re-sign the player. Duchene is a UFA on July 1, 2019.
  • Senators forward Mark Stone is also in the final year of his contract and will be unrestricted in the summer but Stone can’t sign a new deal until after Jan. 1, 2019 (whereas Duchene can sign a new deal with Ottawa only at any time).

League-related

  • On Thursday, Commissioner Gary Bettman will hear the Tom Wilson appeal of his 20 game suspension for the elbow to the head of Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The hearing is taking place at the NHL head office in NYC. This is the first appeal and it can go to a neutral arbitrator after that. Sundqvist hasn’t played since the elbow and was recently placed on the long term injury reserve list by St. Louis.
  • Florida defenseman Mike Matheson was suspended for two games for his body slam on Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson. Matheson has never been suspended before and did not have a track record as a dirty player. Experts say this is a step the NHL is taking now to protect star players.
  • An independent arbitrator reduced Predators forward Austin Watson’s suspension from 27 games to 18. The NHL was not happy with the decision.

Red Wings

  • The Red Wings are the only team without a regulation win; their record is 0-4-2. Head coach Jeff Blashill is in the final year of his contract so there must be pressure there to turn things around. People are also linking former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman to Detroit as current GM Ken Holland, 62, has this season and next remaining on his contract. Holland has been mentioned as a GM possibility with the new Seattle team but this is all media speculation.
  • The Wings have been been decimated on their blue line with injuries. Their injured defenseman include Mike Green (virus), Danny DeKeyser (hand) and Jonathan Ericsson (upper body). Trevor Daley was just activated Wednesday after being on injury reserve.
  • Prospect forward Evgeny Svechnikov tore the ACL is his right knee and is expected to miss 5-6 months. Svechnikov was a first round selection of the Wings back in 2015.
  • The organization announced they will retire the No. 4, for Red Kelly, before Feb. 1 game against Toronto. Red Kelly won 8 Cups, 4 with the Wings and 4 with the Leafs back in the 1950’s and 60’s. Mr Kelly is now 91 years old.

New Jersey Devils

  • The Devils are off to an impressive 4-0-0 start. It’s the 4th time in franchise history they’ve started the season 4-0 and the first since the 1995-96 season. Forward Kyle Palmieri has 7 goals in the 4 games.
  • Goaltender Keith Kinkaid has recorded all 4 wins and leads the NHL with a GAA of 1.00 and SV% of .961 plus 2 shutouts. Cory Schneider is expected back any day as he was recovering from off-season hip surgery and has yet to play this season.
  • Forward Jesper Bratt has started skating on his own recovering from a broken jaw suffered 2 weeks ago.

Leafs

  • Forward Kasperi Kapanen is in the final year of his entry level contract (will be a RFA at season’s end) and is playing well as William Nylander’s replacement. Kapanen has 4 goals and 8 points playing with center Auston Matthews.
  • League points leader Auston Matthews has 10 goals and 6 assists in 7 games played and has a shooting percentage of 45.5% (scoring 10 goals on 22 shots).
  • Penguins star Evgeni Malkin said recently the Leafs remind him of the Penguins when they started to be a dominate team in the league. Incredible praise from someone who has won 3 Cups. Malkin sees the addition of Tavares as key as he is an even keel person who can handle the demands of playing in a media intense market like Toronto. The duo of Malkin and Crosby are similar to Tavares and Matthews, Malkin observed. Malkin believe Tavares and Matthews will push each other to be better.
  • Seems the team may look at shorter deals for their star players instead of the max 8 year contract. I heard the team was looking at a 5 year term under one option for a new Matthews contract.
  • Player agent Pat Brisson has started some initial discussions with the Leafs management on a new contract for defenseman Jake Gardiner. It may not be possible to keep Gardiner in Toronto, however, as with him being UFA, he should expect to get more lucrative offers from other teams.
  • The Leafs play the next 2 games at home – vs the Penguins Thursday night and then on Saturday night against Tyler Bozak and the St. Louis Blues. Next week the team has has 2 games both against Winnipeg, Wednesday in Winnipeg and then Saturday at home. The Jets are an excellent team so the back to back against the Jets next week should make for entertaining hockey.

Milestones and records

  • Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has moved into the top 10 in all-time wins for an NHL goalie. Fleury recorded career win 407 Tuesday night against the Sabres. With 3 Cups to his credit, Fleury should make the Hockey Hall of Fame when his career concludes.

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  • Oilers center Connor McDavid set a record for being in on the Oilers first 9 goals of the season. McDavid did not get a point on Darnell Nurse’s OT winner last night against Winnipeg, the first goal the team has scored where McDavid did not get a point. Former NHL player Adam Oates had the record for being in on his team’s first 7 goals from season’s start. McDavid has 4 goals and 4 assists in 4 games so far this season.
  • San Jose Sharks forward & captain Joe Pavelski recorded his 700th career point this week. Pavelski reached the milestone in 894 career games. The player is a UFA at season’s end and recently said the team has not approached him to discuss an extension though he wants to stay in San Jose.
  • LA Kings power play has not scored a goal this season and is 0-21 on the PP.
  • Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec played in his 1,000 career game this week as did ‘Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith. The Canadiens presented Plekanec with a silver stick for the accomplishment.
  • LA Kings defenseman Alec Martinez played in 500th game this week. Martinez, 31, has played his entire NHL career with the Kings.
  • Montreal defenseman Karl Alzner had his 622 consecutive games played streak stopped as he was a healthy scratch for the team’s first 5 games. Alzner is in the 2nd season of a 5 year $23.125 M ($4.625 M /season) contract. He did play Wednesday night against St. Louis, however.
  • Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, 21, has recorded a point in all of the ‘Canes first 7 games of the season and has 4 goals and 8 assists on the season. Knowledgeable fans regard Aho, who was born in Finland, as one of the up and coming stars in the League.
  • Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has scored a goal in each of his team’s first 6 games of the season. The Avs are off to a 3-1-2 start.
  • Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom is 1 assist from 600 for his career. In 820 career games, Backstrom has recorded 806 points. He’s, quietly, a star player.
  • ‘Habs goaltender Carey Price needs just one more win to tie Patrick Roy for second most wins in Canadiens history. Price has 288 wins in Montreal. The franchise leader is Jacques Plante with 314 wins.
  • Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau recorded his 100th career goal on Wednesday night in a game against Boston.

Injuries

  • Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny is out of action month to month with a lower body injury. It’s a significant loss for the Golden Knights as Stastny is the team’s second line center and plays with newly acquired winger Max Pacioretty.
  • Vancouver Canucks star forward Elias Pettersson is out of action for at least 10 days with a concussion. I heard he is making good progress in his recovery as he’s doing increasingly more strenuous off ice work outs.
  • Avalanche forward J.T. Compher is out of the Avalanche lineup because of a concussion.
  • Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz broke a bone in his left leg in a game against Montreal on Saturday. It was a bit of a gruesome looking injury as Schultz’s lower leg snapped underneath him as he tried to move the puck in the Penguins defensive zone. Hope he is able to fully recover.
  • Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic is still 2 weeks away from game action after he suffered a facial fracture on opening night. Hamonic suffered the injury in a fight with Erik Gudbranson of the Canucks.
  • Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk will miss about a month after suffering a torn ligament in his leg.
  • Canucks forward Antoine Roussel played his first game of the season Saturday vs Florida. He missed the start of the season recovering from a concussion.
  • Buffalo Sabres (3-3-0) defenseman Zach Bogosian, 28, is set to play his first game since January. Bogosian suffered a preseason injury plus injured his hip mid way through last season. He underwent off-season hip surgery.
  • The Anaheim Ducks Jakob Silfverberg (broken finger) is injured and not skating at all and Ondreaj Kase (concussion) has started skating but not ready for game action.
  • Coyotes center Alex Galchenyuk is expected to play his first game of the season on Thursday vs Chicago. The Coyotes are really struggling to score goals in the early going this season. They’ve been shutout in 3 of their first 5 games and recorded just one goal in one of the other game.
  • Islanders forward Andrew Ladd has returned to the Islanders line-up after missing the first 3 Isles game with a back problem.
  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick practiced with the team this week and could return to game action within the next week. Quick is arguable the Kings MVP.
  • Sharks center Joe Thornton is day to day recovering from an infection in his knee.

Waivers

  • Detroit has claimed Canadiens forward Jacob de la Rose off waivers.
  • Anaheim claimed defenseman Jake Dotchin off waivers from Tampa Bay and signed him to a one year contract at $800,000 plus they assigned him to the AHL. Dotchin showed up to Lightning training camp overweight and the team terminated his contract; the Ducks claimed him. Dotchin filed a grievance with the NHLPA over the contract termination done by Tampa Bay.
  • Islanders forward Stephen Gionta cleared waivers on Tuesday and was sent to the Isles AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
  • The Avalanche claimed forward Marko Dano off waivers from the Jets.

Odds & Ends

  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is expected to get his first start since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks face the Coyotes on Thursday night in Chicago. Crawford has been recovering for the past 10 months from a concussion and vertigo
  • Former Toronto Marlies goaltender Calvin Pickard has 2 wins as a Flyer.
  • Former Kings, Senators and Calgary Flames player Nick Shore signed a one year in the KHL.
  • Former Leafs center Dominic Moore, 38, is working out in Boston hoping he’ll get NHL interest.
  • Tampa Bay extended forward Cory Conacher for the 2019-20 season at a rate of $700,000 for one season.
  • ‘Hawks forward Brandon Saad is going to be a possible healthy scratch in the ‘Hawks next game. Saad was acquired by Chicago from Columbus for Artemi Panarin but has been unable the re-find the chemistry he had with center Jonathan Toews. Saad has this season and 2 more left on his contract at $6 M /season.
  • First overall selection (2018) Rasmus Dahlin became the youngest player (18 years 183 days) in Sabres franchise history to score a goal.
  • Tomas Tatar, who the Canadiens acquired for Max Pacioretty, apparently looks very good in Montreal and is a big reason why the team is 4-1-1. It did not work out for Tatar in Vegas as he was often a healthy scratch after he was acquired mid-season last season from the Red Wings. Tatar is playing a power forward type game for the ‘Habs.
  • Former Ducks star Paul Kariya will have his #9 Ducks jersey retired this Sunday before their game against Buffalo. Scott Niedermayer is also having his #27 jersey retired this season, on Feb. 17, 2019.
  • The Edmonton Oilers will honor Jordin Tootoo before their October 20th game against Nashville (a team Tootoo played for) for all he has done for indigenous youth and hockey across Canada. Tootoo, from Nunavut, is an unrestricted free agent who did not get any NHL interest and is apparently considering playing in Europe.
  • The Vancouver Canucks announced they’ll retire both Daniel and Henrik Sedins #22 and #33 jerseys in a celebration sometime next season. The 2019-20 season  will be the 50th year celebration of the Canucks franchise. The Canucks organizaton has retired four other jerseys:
    • Stan Smyl #12
    • Trevor Linden #16
    • Pavel Bure #10
    • Markus Naslund #19
  • The Canucks recently said they are looking at alternate options for their AHL affiliate which is currently in Utica, New York. Francesco Aquilini mentioned Abbortsford, BC is an option or also in Vancouver using the team’s previous building, the Pacific Coliseum.
  • The three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League – the OHL, WHL and QMJHL – are playing a series against the Russian National Junior Team here in Canada. The tournament runs through Nov. 5 – Nov. 15th. The series starts against a WHL all-star team with games in Kamloops and Vancouver followed by an OHL all-star team (in Sarnia and Oshawa) and the QMJHL all-star team (in Sherbrooke and Drummondville).
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL Notes & Notes to 10 Oct 2018

A few news & notes from around the league.

Seattle

  • Seattle’s KeyArena $700 M renovation is expected to start in the next few weeks.
  • The Oak View Group (OVG) announced they are building a $70 M,  180,000 square foot practice facility in the north part of Seattle. The facility will have 3 arenas plus offices. One of the new arenas has seating for 1000 fans and the other 2 have seating for 400 fans.
  • OVG is also a partnering with the owners of the New York Islanders and New York Mets on their redevelopment of Belmont Park on Long Island which will be the new home of the Islanders.

Leafs

  • Defenseman Morgan Rielly set a career high with 4 assists against Dallas on Tuesday. Rielly is also the 3rd defenseman in NHL history to record 10+ points in his teams first 4 games of the season. The others:
    • Harry Cameron 1917-18 (8-6 for 14 points with Toronto)
    • Pat Stapleton 1968-69 (1-9 for 10 points with Chicago)
  • Auston Matthews leads the NHL in goals with 7 and in 148 career NHL games has scored an incredible 81 goals.
  • Mike Babcock said the other day he’ll play center Nazem Kadri on the wing a bit in an effort to get him more ice time. Would be awesome to see their top 3 centers all record 30 goals again this season. I’m hoping Kadri also gets in the conversation for the Selke Trophy for the league top defensive forward. He has recorded back-to-back 32 goal seasons.
  • Leafs AGM Laurence Gilman is acting at the Marlies General Manager this season. He said the team is excited to add forward Sam Gagner and he hopes Gagner can help develop some of the team’s younger players. Gagner will be the Marlies number one center. Also with the Marlies, first round draft selection defenseman Rasmus Sandin will miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury. Goaltender Jeff Glass, who attended Calgary Flames training camp on a PTO and played a few games for the Blackhawks last season, was signed by the team to back-up Kasimir Kaskisuo.
  • The Leafs other AGM Brandon Pridham apparently handles Leafs contract negotiations. There doesn’t seem to be anything new on the William Nylander contract situation. If the team can’t get him signed by December 1, Nylander can’t play in the NHL this season.

Anaheim Ducks

  • The Ducks are off to a 3-0-1 start primarily due to the play of starting goaltender John Gibson (.955 save percentage).
  • Ryan Kesler returned to the line-up Wednesday night after missing the team’s first 3 games (and all of the Ducks preseason games). Kesler had major off-season hip surgery.
  • With the Corey Perry injury (knee), Ryan Getzlaf inury (groin) plus Patrick Eaves injured his shoulder in off-season training after he missed most all of last season, the team has about 1,000 career goals out of their line-up.
  • The Ducks have added 4 highly rated rookies to their line-up:
    • Forward Sam Steel. Drafted 30th overall in 2016 & age 19. Former captain of the Regina Pats of the WHL. Won a gold medal on the 2018 Team Canada World Junior Team.
    • Forward Troy Terry. Played US college hockey at the U of Denver. Drafted in the 5th round in 2015. Won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2017 World Juniors.
    • Forward Kiefer Sherwood. Also went the USA college route playing at the U of Miami in Ohio.
    • Forward Max Comtois. Drafted 50th overall in 2017. Played in the QMJHL with Victoriaville where he recorded 44 goals and 41 assists in 54 games in his final season in the Q. Won a gold metal in 2018 with Team Canada at the World Juniors.

NY Rangers

  • The NY Rangers are off to an 0-3 start in year one of their rebuild. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is expected to be a healthy scratch for New York on Thursday when the team plays the Sharks at MSG. The performance of Shattenkirk has to be a huge concern for Rangers management as the player is the highest paid player ($6.65 M / season) on their roster and has two more years remaining on his contract.

League-related

  • At the recent NHL Board of Governors meeting, the owners were presented with a salary cap figure for the 2019-20 season of between $81.4 M and $85.4 M. This season’s salary cap is $79.5 M.
  • Seems some NHL goaltenders are not happy with the new rules around goaltender equipment. Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott said the other day that he’s getting bruised arms because his new equipment is too small. I heard Flames goaltender Mike Smith said that the league needs to re-look at this issue as goaltenders are feeling the shots more with the new rules in place.
  • The players escrow percentage for Q1 of the season has been set at 11.5% meaning all players get that percentage of the pay taken off their pay cheques. At season’s end and after league revenue is counted, the players can get some of the money back. The issue of escrow for players is apparently a sore point with some of the athletes. The 11.5% is the same rate as Q1 last season.
  • Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to next week hear the appeal launched by the NHLPA on Capitals forward Tom Wilson’s behalf for Wilson’s 20 game suspension for elbowing St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. Sundqvist has not played since.
  • Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson had his hearing with an independent arbitrator over his 27 game suspension (misdemeanor domestic assault conviction) and the arbitrators ruling is expected next week.
  • The league is planning to have another World Cup of Hockey in the fall of 2020 contingent on no labor disruption for the start of the 2020-21 season. There have been 3 World Cup’s to date (1996, 2004 and 2016).
  • Boston Bruins owner and NHL’s Exec Committee chair Jeremy Jacobs is publicly advocating for the NHL to let the city of Houston into the league. Apparently, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Feritta has expressed interest in bringing the NHL to Houston. The city is the 5th largest in North America and Jacobs believes having an additional Texas team would start a healthy rivalry with the Dallas Stars. No word from the NHL or Commissioner Gary Bettman on the matter.

Injuries

  • Penguins starting goaltender Matt Murray will be out of action indefinitely after suffering a concussion this week in practice. It’s Murray’s second concussion in nine months. The team says they are comfortable with their 2 back-ups, Tristan Jarry & Casey DeSmith.
  • Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley is currently injured as is defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (upper body). Both players are expected back within a week. Defenseman Mike Green is out at least another 2 weeks recovering from a virus.
  • Florida Panthers starting goaltender Roberto Luongo will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a MCL injury to his knee.
  • LA Kings starter Jonathan Quick is also injured with a lower body injury. Jack Campbell who was a Dallas Stars first rounder from back in 2010 is filling in for Quick with Peter Budaj backing up Campbell.
  • Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk will miss 5-6 weeks with a lower body injury.
  • New Jersey Devils starting goaltender Cory Schneider is close to a return after missing the team’s first game (and the entire preseason) while recovering from off-season hip surgery.
  • Kings forward Dustin Brown is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks as he suffered a broken finger in an exhibition game.
  • NJ Devils forward Jesper Bratt is expected to miss a month with a fractured jaw. Bratt was hit in the face with a puck when the team was in Sweden and suffered a fracture.
  • New Vegas Golden Knight forward Paul Stastny is expected to miss the team’s next 3 games with a lower body injury.
  • Sharks center Joe Thornton is out of action with an infection in his knee, the same knee he had surgery on late last season. He is expected to miss 2 weeks.
  • Blue Jackets captain Brandon Dubinsky will miss 2-4 weeks with a strained oblique muscle.

Rookies

  • Dallas Stars rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time through the Stars first 3 games. Heiskanen, who was drafted 3rd overall in 2017, is just 19 years old.

Pending Unrestricted Free Agents

  • Senators forward Mark Stone is a UFA at season’s end. Stone is 4 goals from 100 for his career. He recently added a roommate to his Ottawa home, Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk. Stone is making $7.35 M for this season so he may be too expensive for the Senators to keep long-term.
  • San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski is one point from 700 for his career. With one more point, he’ll become the 3rd Sharks player all-time to reach the 700 point mark. The others are Patrick Marleau (1082) & Joe Thornton (974). Pavelski, 34, is playing out the final year of his contract and will be a UFA on July 1, 2019.
  • Canucks defenseman Alex Edler will be a UFA on July 1, 2019. The Canucks looked at possibly moving him at the trade deadline last season (Tampa Bay was reportedly interested) but Edler wanted to stay in Vancouver.
  • Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers, 28, is in the final year of his contract and will be free to sign with any team in July 1, 2019. No indication if the Jets will try and sign Myers to a contract before season’s end.
  • Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is apparently going to do his pending UFA situation the same way as John Tavares did, i.e. play out this season and then look at offers on July 1, 2019. That does not leave the Blue Jackets in a very good situation as they can either hang onto him until the trade deadline or he can walk for nothing as a UFA. Experts have speculated that the player wants to play on the USA East Coast in the future such as with the NY Rangers.

Odds & Ends

  • Coyotes forward Derek Stepan played in his 600th career game Wednesday night. Stepan, 28, has recorded 416 points on 142 goals.
  • The New York Islanders placed forward Jan Kovar in waivers for the purposes of contract termination after the player refused to report to the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Kovar was signed July 9, 2018 (one year deal at $2 M) after playing the past few seasons in the KHL. With the contract termination, the Islanders gain $2 M in their salary cap for 2018-19.
  • Penguins star defenseman Kris Letang set a new franchise record for points for a defenseman with his 441 point. Letang surpassed previous franchise leader, Paul Coffey.
  • Flyers center Sean Couturier, 25, became the youngest player in franchise history to appear in 500 NHL games this week. Couturier, an underrated star & first line center for the Flyers, was named a team assistant captain for this season.
  • The Hurricanes have gotten off to an impressive 3-0 start under new head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Former Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney recorded one of the wins and it was reported this week that the ‘Canes intend to hang onto McElhinney even after starter Scott Darling recovers from his groin injury. Apparently, the ‘Canes were eyeing McElhinney at the start of the season in the hopes he would be made available when team’s had to declare their 23 man roster. The ‘Canes may carry 3 goaltenders (Darling, McElhinney & Mrazek) for a period of time.
  • Jack Eichel was named Buffalo Sabres captain.
  • The New York Islanders named Anders Lee team captain.
  • Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill is in final year of his 4 year contract. Detroit GM Ken Holland has not indicated anything regarding Blashill’s status but did say the organization is trying to go younger and starting a semi retooling of their roster. Blashill’s record is 249 games coached, 104 wins, 106 losses and 39 OTL’s.
  • Alex Ovechkin is now 17th in NHL goals scored all-time with 611 goals. Ovechkin, 33, should be good for 35 goals for at least 3 more season which would place him in the top 10 all-time for goals scored.
  • Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen recorded his 300th career point on Wednesday night.
  • Rick Nash, 34, is free to sign with any team but is reportedly still undecided about his future. He is recovering from concussion problems that hampered during the last part of the 2017-18 season.
  • Canucks star forward Brock Boeser is goalless through the team’s first 4 games. Boeser, 21, suffered a major back injury last season and was not able to train as much as previous off-seasons but did manage to put on 10 pounds of muscle in the off-season. Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s not worried about Boeser indicating he’s just in his second NHL season. Boeser has been moved to the same line as Canucks rookie sensation Elias Pettersson.
  • Former NHL goaltender Steve Mason has not signed with a team this season, by his choice. Apparently, Carolina was interested in signing him but he turned them down saying he was not sure he wanted to continue his NHL career. Mason, 30, has had numerous injuries in the past few seasons such as concussions and knee injuries.
  • Senators have a franchise cornerstone piece in 21 yo defenseman Thomas Chabot. Drafted 18th overall in the 2015 entry draft, Chabot is second to Leafs Morgan Rielly in points for a defenseman this season with 6 plus Chabot is playing 21 plus minutes a game. I see the Senators building around him and rookie Brady Tkachuk.
  • Senators forward Zach Smith in the past week:
    • Placed on waivers
    • Cleared waivers
    • Named Senators alternate captain
    • Recorded 4 points in the team’s first 4 games
  • 45% of NHL players are age 25 or younger. Seems players’ careers are shorter now and 32/33 year old players are considered old.
  • Calgary city council voted this week to resume talks with Calgary Sports & Entertainment Group on a new arena. The Flames have the oldest building in the league but it won’t be an easy or quick process to have a new building built. The Flames have tried at least twice to negotiate with the city on the issue but the two sides were far apart in the details of getting a deal. Apparently, some NHL cities build arenas with entirely private money but the Flames are trying to get some financial support from the City of Calgary.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes. Seattle expansion news. New season finally gets started tonight.

Here are some news items from around the NHL for the past week.

Seattle

  • The NHL Executive Committee voted 9-0 on Tuesday to approve the Seattle bid to become the NHL’s 32nd franchise. The final step is a full vote in December by the NHL Board of Governors. Everyone expects the vote in December to pass and the $700 M KeyArena renovation will start. The Seattle franchise is aiming to start their first season in September 2020.  Those attending & voting in Tuesday’s meeting in New York city included:
    • Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli
    • Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs – Exec Committee Chair
    • Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz
    • Flames owner Murray Edwards
    • Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold
    • Canadiens owner Geoff Molson
    • Leafs owner Larry Tanenbaum
    • Capitals owner Ted Leonsis
    • Jets owner Mark Chipman
    • *Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Jeff Vinik, was scheduled to attend but did not.
  • Some other items discussed in Tuesday’s Exec Comittee meeting:
    • Update on sports betting
    • Player tracking technology update
    • Update on esports business initiatives
    • Report on the collective bargaining agreement
    • State of the league report
  • Seattle’s entry fee is $650 M which is split between the teams with the exception of Vegas. They don’t get a piece of the $650 M. There would be an expansion draft again but Vegas would be exempt from participating. This was agreed with Vegas before they entered the league last year.
  • Some GM’s believe Seattle won’t get as good a roster as Vegas did as the GM’s are more experienced in the expansion draft than they were with Vegas.
  • The NHL BOG are meeting on December 3 and 4th in Sea Island, Georgia and final approval for the Seattle team is expected at that time.
  • Seattle joining the Western Conference would give the NHL 16 teams in each conference. Looks like Seattle would join the Pacific Division and Arizona would move to the Central.
  • There is some discussion that if Seattle cannot get their building renovations done for the 2020-21 season, then their first season would be 2021-22 but all parties are aiming for 2020-21.
  • There is a possible labor disruption regarding the collective bargaining agreement between the players and league but it’s too early to assess how this will impact things.

Oilers

  • The team is currently over in Europe and are playing a preseason game Wednesday against a German team, the Cologne Sharks, who are coached by Leon Draisaitl’s father. The team plays its first regular season game against New Jersey in Sweden on Saturday before returning to the US East Coast for games against Boston and the NY Rangers. The team then plays in Winnipeg to conclude the road trip before playing their season opener on October 18th against Boston.
  • Defenseman Kris Russell is starting the new season on the injury reserve list. He injured himself in practice and is expected to miss about a week.
  • Defenseman Andrej Sekera will miss about 5 months, if not 6, with a torn achilles.
  • The team signed two players that attended their training camp on PTO’s: forward Alex Chiasson and defenseman Jason Garrison. Both deals are one year, one way deals at the league minimum, $650,000.
  • The Oilers traded defenseman Jakub Jerabek to St. Louis for a conditional 6th round pick. Evan Bouchard (10th overall 2018) and Ethan Bear outplayed Jerabek at Oilers training camp as did Jason Garrison. Garrison was Las Vegas property last season but played all but 7 games in the AHL. With 19 yo defenseman Bouchard, the organization will have to decide after 9 NHL games do they keep him, in which case his entry level contract kicks in, or return him to his junior team, the London Knights. If they send him back to the OHL, they can’t recall him again this season. Bouchard is the captain of the London Knights.
  • Rookie goaltender Mikko Koskinen is the Oilers back-up to start the season. Koskinen, 30, played the past 6 seasons in the KHL. He outplayed the other Oilers back-up goaltender, Al Montoya, who the team placed on waivers.

Flames

  • Two rookies, forward Dillon Dube and defenseman Juuso Valimaki, made the Flames opening night roster and will play in the teams first game against the Canucks on Wednesday night. Both rookies captained their respective IIHF World Junior Team at the 2018 competition in Buffalo. Dube was Team Canada’s captain and Valimaki was Team Finland’s. Dube wore jersey #59 in preseason but has now changed to #29 and Valimaki was #42 in preseason but changed to #8.
  • The team also announced in addition to captain Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan (who wears an ‘A’), Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk will both wear an ‘A’ this season. It’s a big year for Tkachuk as he’s in the final year of his 3 year entry level contract. The team and player’s agent have discussed a new contract but it’s not clear if any deal is close. Backlund was really proud to captain Team Sweden to a gold medal at the World Hockey Championships in Denmark this past May.

Leafs

  • Many very knowledgeable people are picking the Leafs to win the Cup this season. Myself, I’d like to see more post-season success before predicting they can win it all. Last season’s post-season against Boston was tough for the team as I didn’t think they played as well as expected. Plus, playoff hockey is different, more grinding, low scoring games so the team, for me, needs to show they can win in the post-season.
  • Doesn’t seem as though there’s been a lot of movement on either side of the William Nylander negotiation. At a rate of what he is expected to be making, $6 M per season, Nylander would be forfeiting about $33,000 of salary per day ($230,000 per week) by sitting out. Seems there would be more pressure on the player to return to the team than the other way around – the team should do fine without him but would be even better with him.
  • I think the team will miss back-up goaltender Curtis McElhinney who was claimed by the Hurricanes on waivers. He was very solid last season in his appearances and new back-up Garret Sparks is unproven at the NHL level.

Carolina

  • Owner Tom Dundon said this week getting their #1 center & their top point producer last season, Sebastian Aho (35th overall in 2015), signed to a long term deal is a priority with the organization. Aho recorded 65 points last season on 29 goals.
  • Hurricanes starting goaltender Scott Darling is nursing an apparent hamstring injury and the team says he’ll miss 2 weeks. The team acquired Curtis McElhinney on waivers from Toronto to help replace Darling.
  • The team went 5-0-1 in the preseason and apparently look motivated playing for first year head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

Red Wings

  • Injured Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg will do a ceremonial puck drop before the Wings first game, Thursday vs Columbus.
  • Defenseman Mike Green is expected to miss the first month of the season as he has a virus that is causing him fatigue.
  • The team sent their first round selection, 6th overall selection Filip Zadina to the AHL to start the season.
  • Jussi Jokinen was released from his PTO.

Canucks

  • The Vancouver Canucks announced they’ll go with four assistant captains and not have one caption this season. The four players wearing an ‘A’ are:
    • Defenseman Alex Edler
    • Forward Brandon Sutter
    • Forward Bo Horvat
    • Defenseman Chris Tanev
  • Experts believe 23 yo center, Bo Horvat, will be the team’s captain next season.
  • Canucks had a 1-6 preseason record and were outscored 10 (goals for) to 30 (goals against).
  • Canucks forward Jake Virtanen is doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the Flames as he’s been having back spasms.
  • Canucks forward Antoine Roussel is skating separately from the team (with the Canucks skills coach) and is making progress in his recovery from a concussion. Also, rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko is out of action will a concussion.
  • The Canucks have instituted a new rule that players cannot play the Fornite game while on team road trips.

Management

  • The New Jersey Devils hired former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher as senior adviser. Fletcher is working with Devils GM Ray Shero on all aspects of hockey management of the team. This appointment was effective in the summer.

Injuries

  • Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk is doubtful for Thursday’s opening game. He’s dealing with an undisclosed injury that he says is a nagging issue and it’s not serious.
  • Ducks forward Ryan Kesler is going to travel with the team to San Jose for their season opening game on Wednesday night but is not physically ready to play. Also, forward Ondrej Kase suffered a concussion in the Ducks final preseason game and is out indefinitely.
  • Bruins young defenseman Torey Krug has a left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for at least the next 3 weeks.
  • Sabres forward Scott Wilson suffered a fracture to his ankle and is out 8-10 weeks.
  • Lightning forward Tyler Johnson may not be ready for the Lightning home opener as he has an upper body injury.
  • Coyotes forward Alex Galchenyuk will miss at least the first two games of this season with a lower body injury.
  • Senators forward Marian Gaborik is back in LA and has not attended Senators training camp as he’s recovering from surgery for a herniated disc in his back and is not medically cleared to play. Gaborik, 36, has 3 years remaining on his contract at an annual average value of $4.875 M /season. The player will probably be placed on the Senators long term injury reserve list (LTIR); the team then gets 80% his salary covered by insurance.
  • Canadiens defenseman Jacob De La Rose was placed on the injury reserve list after he had a problem with his heart this week. Additionally, defenseman David Schlemko will miss 6 weeks with a knee injury.
  • Islanders forward Andrew Ladd has not taken part in any practices or preseason games as he has an injury. I believe it’s the same injury he’s struggled with for a while,  his back. There is no timetable for Ladd to start practicing with the team. The player is starting the 3rd season of a seven year $38.5 M contract that has not really worked out for the team.
  • Blues defenseman Carl Gunnerson, who had off-season hip and knee surgery, has not been cleared for game action yet. Also with St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was suspended for one game for an elbow to Capitals Michael Kempny and defenseman Joel Edmundson has a groin strain. The Blues acquired Jerebek from the Oilers to help out on their defense.
  • Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones will miss 4-6 weeks with a second degree MCL sprain of his knee. Experts believe Jones, 25, could soon win a Norris trophy soon as the league’s top defenseman.

Transactions/Waivers

  • Forward Potus Aberg was claimed by Anaheim from Edmonton.
  • Former Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick was claimed by Dallas. Apparently, regular Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns has an injury and the Carrick acquisition helps add some depth to the Stars d group.
  • Washington claimed former St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers to help their forward depth since Tom Wilson is expected to be suspended on Wednesday. Wilson’s in-person hearing with the NHL Dept of Player Safety is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 AM in NYC. An in-person hearing means the suspension is expected to be 6 or more games. Wilson is expected to get about 10 games as he was suspended 3 times last season. In this most recent incident, Wilson near knocked out Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist with an elbow to the head. Sundqvist will be out of the Blues line-up indefinitely.
  • Chicago signed defenseman Brandon Davidson to a one year, one way contract at $650 K. Davidson attended ‘Hawks training camp on a PTO.
  • Former Toronto Marlies goaltender Calvin Pickard was acquired by the Flyers from the Leafs on waivers Monday. Will be interesting to see if Pickard is able to revive his NHL career in Philadelphia. The Flyers put their “goalie of the future”, Carter Hart, in the AHL to start the season and are going with a tandem of 33 yo Brian Elliott and Anthony Stolarz who has played just 7 NHL games. Michal Neuvirth, the Flyers back-up from last season, is injured with a groin problem.
  • Buffalo claimed forward Remi Elie from the Dallas Stars via waivers.

Odds & Ends

  • Former Canucks forward Sam Gagner has landed with the AHL Toronto Marlies as the Canucks waived him and no other team claimed him. Gagner is from Toronto and preferred to play there. The Canucks are on the hook for two more seasons of Gagner’s NHL salary, $3.1 M /season.
  • The NY Islanders have started contract discussions with forward Anders Lee but it’s not clear how far along those talks are. Lee is a UFA on July 1, 2019 and recorded 40 goals & 62 points last season for NY. Forward Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle are also one year from being unrestricted and the team has had no contract talks with either player.
  • Scott Moore resigned as president of Sportsnet after 8 years in the role. Moore was one of three Sportsnet executives that negotiated the $5.2 B, 12 year broadcast deal with the NHL.
  • The Washington Capitals will raise their Stanley Cup banner Wednesday night before their home game against Boston. The team received their Cup rings on Monday night.
  • Sharks forward Joe Thornton shaved off his massive beard on Monday night.
  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is making progress getting into game condition. Crawford suffered a concussion 9 months ago and hasn’t played in a game since. He won’t be ready to play in the team’s first two road games, in Ottawa and St. Louis, but will travel with the team. The organization is taking it slow with Crawford and hoping there will be no set backs.
  • Montreal has named Shea Weber their team captain. Weber is the 30th captain the team’s history. Forwards Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher were named assistant captains.
  • Scott Hartnell, who played with Nashville, the Flyers & Blue Jackets, announced his retirement this week after a 17 year NHL career. Hartnell recorded 327 goals & 707 points over his career.
  • The Washington Capitals have signed forward Riley Sutter to a 3 year entry level contract. Sutter is a right winger who’s played his junior hockey with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. Last season with Everett, Sutter put up 53 points on 25 goals in 68 games. He is the son of former NHL player Ron Sutter.
  • Broadcasting legend Bob Cole is scheduled to call 10 regular season games this year for Hockey Night in Canada on Sportsnet. It will incredibly be Cole’s 50th season calling NHL hockey. Cole, 85, is both a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada.
Posted in Calgary Flames | Leave a comment

NHL News & Notes. 2018-19 Regular Season starts in one week.

Here are some notes from around the NHL. The regular season starts in one week, Wednesday, October 3rd.

Seattle 

  • Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to approve the Oak View Group’s $700 M renovation to Seattle’s KeyArena. The next step is Seattle’s mayor Jenny Durkan and the Oak View Group executives will present the Seattle plan to the NHL’s Executive Committee on October 2nd in NYC. The NHL Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on whether to add the Seattle franchise to the NHL in early December.

Leafs

  • The Leafs are looking to ice their regular (NHL veteran) roster for 2 of their remaining 3 preseason games including Wednesday night’s game in Montreal. Starting goaltender Freddy Andersen will play in 2 of the remaining 3 games and Curtis McElhinney will start the other one. McElhinney, 35, has looked solid in the preseason. Apparently, there is a way around the waiver issue where the team can protect just 2 goaltenders. The Leafs third goaltender, Garret Sparks, is 10 years younger than McElhinney but hasn’t look as good in the preseason & is not NHL proven.
  • The team’s number one PP unit looks like it could be the league’s top PP with Rielly on the point, Marner on the right half wall, Kadri in the middle, Matthews on the left half wall and Tavares in front.
  • The second PP unit is Patrick Marleau in front of the net, Andreas Johsson in the middle, Ennis on left half wall, Josh Leivo on the right side half wall and Jake Gardiner on the point.
  • Forward Zach Hyman is dealing with a hip pointer injury but is expected to ready for the Oct. 3rd season opener against Montreal. Marlies forward, Travis Moore, seems to be penciled into Hyman’s spot in the line-up for now (on the second line with Tavares and Marleau).
  • Forth line center, Par Lindholm, is quickly trying to adjust to the Leafs and NHL hockey. Coach Babcock is working with the player on various things including defensive positioning. From his public comments, Lindholm admits it’s been a big adjustment and he needs time to get better.
  • Leafs have signed forward, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, their 3rd round selection, 76th overall, from the 2018 Entry Draft to an entry level contract. Der-Arguchintsev, 18, recorded 51 points (12 goals & 39 assists) last season for Peterborough of the OHL. Samyon, who goes by the nickname “Sam”, is a Moscow native who moved to Ontario when he was 13 years old. He impressed in his one game in the preseason where head coach Mike Babcock said he likes having the puck and skates faster when he has it but the team is trying to get him to be as aggressive when his team does not have it.

Flames

  • Matthew Tkachuk has so far impressed new head coach Bill Peters. Tkachuk was wearing an ‘A’ the other night and Peters said Matthew is a key franchise player for the organization and added Tkachuk has good leadership skills. The coach sees him as a player that can set an example for younger Flames players.
  • The biggest surprise out of Flames training camp and preseason games is the play of 20 yo forward, Dillon Dube. He has recorded 4 goals and 6 points and is noticeable every time he’s on the ice. Dube has played both on the wing and at center in his hockey career; the Flames started him at center but when the veterans returned from China, he was moved to wing. I am hoping Dube starts the season in Calgary as it’s always positive to bring in young and talented new players.
  • Head coach Peters indicated he is likely to go with a top line of Monahan between Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm to start the regular season. Many people thought James Neal would be on the top line but the head coach likes Lindholm because of his face-off ability and defensive skills. Lindholm is better suited to take right side face-offs since he shoots right and Monahan is stronger on left side face-offs.

Dallas Stars

  • Newly signed Stars center, Tyler Seguin, is practicing but not playing in preseason games as he’s dealing with some undisclosed injury that the team is not talking about.

Oilers

  • The Oilers appear to have found a right winger for their top line of McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Ty Rattie leads in NHL in the preseason with 10 points and 7 goals playing right wing on the Oilers top line. Rattie played most of last season with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Bakersfield but head coach Todd McLellan put Rattie with McDavid at the start of preseason and they’ve been on fire since. The Oilers second line is centered by the super talented Leon Draisaitl.
  • The Oilers also have a solid player on their hands in defenseman, Evan Bouchard. Bouchard went 10th overall in the 2018 Entry Draft and is still at Oilers training camp with experts predicting he’ll make the team as an 18 year old. His puck moving ability has stood out to the Oilers coaches.
  • Forward Leon Draisaitl has agreed to donate $150,000 per season to Edmonton charities for the duration of his 8 year contract with the Oilers.

NY Rangers

  • Rangers defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk, is trying to rebound this season from a not very good first season (last season) in New York.  Shattenkirk injured his knee in the second week of training camp last season and played through the injury until he underwent surgery in January 2018 where doctors repaired a torn left meniscus in his knee. Shattenkirk signed with the Rangers on July 1, 2017 for 4 years at $6.65 M /season.
  • Forward Mats Zuccarello, 31, is in the final year of his contract and will be a UFA on July 1, 2019. He says he hopes he can stay with the Rangers past this season but there have been no discussions with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.

Ducks

  • The Ducks are trying to play a faster and more aggressive brand of hockey believing last season their roster was too slow on the ice. The team also is looking to step away from their physically intimiating brand of hockey and want to start using their defenseman to jump into the play which means their defense group will have to be comprised of more skilled, better skating players. The team is apparently still adjusting to the new style.
  • Center Ryan Kesler has been cleared to practice with the team but he still wearing a “no contact” jersey. It’s not clear if Kesler will be ready for the Ducks home opener on October 4th. The player had off-season hip surgery and there was concern he could miss the entire 2018-19 season so it does appear he’s ahead of schedule.

Injuries

  • Red Wings defenseman, Mike Green, has been ill in the preseason with a virus and is experiencing fatigue. Green, 32, underwent off-season neck surgery as well but says his neck feels fine. The Wings don’t know yet how long Green will be out but the team is using it as an opportunity to evaluate some of their young defense prospects. On the whole, the Wings have an older blue line with:
    • Green is 32 years old
    • Jonathan Ericsson is 34 years old
    • Trevor Daley is 34
    • Niklas Kronwall is 37
    • Danny DeKeyser is 28
  • Canucks forward, Loui Eriksson, is week to week with a bone bruise in his leg.
  • New Coyotes forward, Alex Galchenyuk, has a lower body injury and won’t be ready for the Coyotes home opener.
  • Blackhawks goaltender, Corey Crawford, could possibly join the ‘Hawks practice by the end of the week or next week but Coach Q indicated they are going to be extra cautious with him. Doesn’t seem possible Crawford would be ready for the start of the ‘Hawks regular season on October 4th. Seems like this concussion injury could be a tough injury to recover from especially for a goaltender.

Players Impressing in the Preseason

  • The Chicago Blackhawks organization have been impressed with their first round selection (8th overall) from the 2018 Entry Draft, defenseman Adam Boqvist. Coach Q indicated the player has exceeded his expectations particularly around his poise and patience with the puck. The team has not ruled out Boqvist making the ‘Hawks opening night roster.
  • Hurricanes starting goaltender, Scott Darling, has had a good preseason stopping 44 or 45 shots against him. Darling is looking to improve on a terrible first season in Carolina which was his first as an NHL starter. The Hurricanes apparently look strong in their preseason games and are 4-0. The team seems motivated under new head coach Rod Brind’Amour.
  • Newly signed Sabres center, Sam Reinhart, has recorded 3 points in 2 games since returning to the team from his contract situation.
  • The Dallas Stars have a star on their hands with defenseman, Miro Heiskanen. Some people are predicting Heiskanen will win the Calder Trophy this season at the league’s top rookie. Other players mentioned in the possible Calder race for the 2018-19 season:
    • Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (1st overall 2018)
    • Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (5th overall 2017)
    • Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov (2nd overall 2018)
    • Predators forward Eeli Tolvanen (30th overall 2017)
    • Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (8th overall 2017)

Waivers

  • A few NHL veterans can be acquired for nothing as they are on waivers. The list includes:
    • Forward Matt Moulson (BUF)
    • Goaltender Michael Hutchinson (WPG)
    • Forward Jordan Nolan (BUF)
    • Defenseman Kevin Gravel (EDM)
    • Defenseman Keegan Lowe (EDM)
    • Forward Brad Malone (EDM)

Restricted Free Agents

  • Vegas defenseman, Shea Theodore, signed a 7 year contract on Monday night at an average annual value of $5.2 M. I heard the team wanted a long term deal – which they got – and the player was hoping for a shorter term deal. Sounds like they compromised as the average annual salary is more than people expected.
  • New Jersey forward, Miles Wood, signed a 4 year contract with an annual average value of  $2.75 M. Wood was 4th in goals scored by Devils forwards last season with 19. Over his 2 year NHL career, Wood has recorded 27 goals and 22 assists for 49 points in 137 games (.36 PPG).
  • There are just 2 remaining unsigned RFA’s:
    • Ducks forward Nick Ritchie. Ritchie, 22, was a 3rd line winger with the Ducks last season and recorded 27 points on 10 goals in 76 games.
    • Leafs forward William Nylander. Seems the discussions between agent and team have been around a longer term deal but because there seems to be no sign of a deal, people are wondering if the Leafs may opt to bridge Nylander, i.e. sign him for 2 or 3 seasons. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas says he’s confident they can get Nylander under contract on a long term deal.

PTO’s

  • The Bruins released former Oilers defenseman, Mark Fayne, from his PTO.
  • The Oilers released Scott Upshall from his PTO.
  • Montreal released forward Joel Ward from his PTO.
  • The Islanders signed former Vegas defenseman, Luca Sbsia to a one year contract at a annual rate of $1.5 M. Sbisa was at Islanders training camp on a PTO. His annual salary is one of the highest awarded to a PTO player. Sbisa is the first PTO player to earn a contract in this season’s training camp. Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, said Sbisa played well in Islanders preseason games and has over 500 NHL games to his credit plus played in the Cup finals last season.

Transactions

  • The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman, Jeremy Groleau, to a 3 year entry level contract. Groleau was never drafted into the NHL and played in the QMJHL last season with Chicoutimi where he recorded 4 goals and 11 assists in 63 games.
  • The Washington Capitals signed Russian defenseman, Alexander Alexeyev, to a 3 year entry level contract. Alexeyev was the Capitals first round selection from the 2018 Entry draft (31st overall).
  • Montreal announced they’ve signed forward Paul Byron to a 4 year contract at an annual value of $3.4 M. Byron was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season. Byron is a really well liked player -both by teammates and people in the media. He played in Calgary for a season or two and was really well liked here, too. He said he’s happy to stay in Montreal as his young family is happy there and he’s close to family in his home town of Ottawa.
  • Senators forward, Zack Smith, was put on waivers by the team. Smith has 3 years left on his contract at $3.25 M /season; a contract he signed only a year ago. The Senators have tried, unsuccessfully, to trade the player and now are just trying to get the cap hit off their books.

Odds & Ends

  • Former Sabres center, Brian Gionta, announced his retirement from the NHL on Monday. Gionta played 16 NHL seasons for New Jersey, Montreal, Buffalo and Boston. He played 1026 NHL games and recorded 595 points. He won one Cup, with New Jersey in 2003.
  • Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is in the last year of his contract and will be a UFA on July 1, 2019. Pavelski will turn 35 next summer. He recently said there have been no contract discussions between his agent and the Sharks. Pavelski has spent his entire 12 year career as a San Jose Shark and says he wants to re-sign with the team.
  • Former Winnipeg Jets & NY Rangers goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec, announced his retirement this week. Pavelec had an 11 year NHL career and played with the New York Rangers last season.
  • LA Kings veteran forward, Jeff Carter, said his ankle has healed. He was cut on his left leg by an opponents skate 6 games into the 2017-18 season and required surgery. Carter says the leg will never be 100% but, so far, it feels good. Carter returned from the injury with 21 games remaining last season but the injury was still problematic. Carter’s ability to bounce back this season is key to the Kings chances of competing in the Western Conference.
  • Flyers rookie goaltender, Carter Hart, is in the mix for at least the Flyers back-up goaltender spot. Hart, 20, has impressed at Flyers training camp. Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol indicated the young netminder’s play in the preseason has been very consistent. Hart has to be the Flyers top prospect. Drafted in the second round (48th overall) in 2016, Hart was a star for Team Canada at the IIHF World Juniors winning a gold medal in 2017 and a silver in 2016.
  • Some experts believe Canucks sniper, Brock Boeser, could score 40 goals this season. Last season, Boeser recorded 29 goals in 62 games or .47 goals per game. At that rate and if he can stay healthy, Boeser would record 38 goals in a full 82 game season. I believe the player is going to be very motivated to put up points this season since he needs a new contract at season’s end.
  • Blackhawks defenseman, Duncan Keith, is 5 regular season games from playing in his 1,000 game.
  • Washington Capitals forward, Devante Smith-Pelly, is being held out of preseason games as he reportedly showed up to training camp in poor physical condition. Apparently, it was an issue before when he was a Montreal Canadien. I assume he’s doing off ice workouts to improve his fitness level.
  • Newest San Jose Shark, Erik Karlsson, has been paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic in preseason games and head coach Pete DeBoer indicated that’s the way they will start the season.
  • Unrestricted & unsigned defenseman, Kevin Bieksa, has gotten some interest from NHL teams but the teams were in the East and he prefers to stay in the West – preferably in California. Bieksa is working out everyday in the event he gets NHL work but wants to stay close to his school age children for the time being.
  • St. Louis Blues should be better in the new season. There top 3 limes look like:
    • Patrick Maroon-Ryan O’Reilly-Vlad Tarasenko
    • Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Sam Blais
    • Alex Steen-Tyler Bozak-David Perron
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