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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
A few news & notes from around the league.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Here are some news items from around the NHL for the past week.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Here are some notes from around the NHL. The regular season starts in one week, Wednesday, October 3rd.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Note: I updated this post to the effect San Jose defenseman, Erik Kalssson, can sign a 7 year contract now but, if he’s looking for a max, eight year, deal he can’t sign that until after the 2018-19 trade deadline which is February 25, 2019. This is a CBA rule.
Here are a few NHL new items worth sharing.
- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was over in China and indicated the next step in the NHL China market push is to have a regular season game there. The NHL is currently in discussions to have a preseason game or two there next season. Bettman said numerous teams are interested in going over. The League has made no decision regarding allowing NHL players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics that are being held in China.
- I heard the league plans to open an office in China in the near future. Not sure how many staff would be located there.
- The Austin Watson appeal is being heard by an impartial arbitrator Wednesday next (Sept. 26). Watson was handed a 27 game suspension for a domestic assault charge. The league will also be soon ruling on a former LA Kings defenseman, Slava Voynov, as well. The league was reportedly considering a one year suspension for Voynov but nothing definite has been announced. The league wants to first deal with the Watson appeal and then tackle the Voynov situation. The LA Kings still hold Voynov’s NHL rights, they could trade him or do a sign and trade but the Kings are apparently awaiting the league ruling before doing anything.
- Seattle city council votes on approving the $700 M renovations to KeyArena this Monday, Sept. 24th. The prospective Seattle team has a lot of momentum so I can’t see this vote being a stumbling block. The Oak View Group executives and Seattle mayor Jenny Durken are presenting their plan to the NHL Executive Committee on Oct. 2nd in New York and a vote by the NHL Board of Governors to approved Seattle as the league’s 32nd franchise is expected in December (2018).
- David Conte was hired by the New York Islanders organization as a special assignment scout. Conte worked with one of Islanders President Lou Lomoriello’s former teams, the New Jersey Devils, for 31 years; he was the Devils Director of Scouting for 22 years.
- The Islanders also hired former NHL coach, Jacques Lemaire, as special assignment coach.
- The Canadiens and associate coach, Kirk Muller, have agreed on a two year contract extension.
- Columbus Blue Jackets announced former players, Jared Boll and Fedor Tyutin, have been hired by the organization. Boll’s role is in player development and Tyutin was named a team scout.
NHL Global Series
- The New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers are scheduled to play one preseason and one regular season game in Europe (note: the NHL 2018-19 regular season opens Wednesday, October 3rd).
- On October 1st, New Jersey will play SC Bern in an exhibition game in Switzerland. Former 1st overall selection (2017), New Jersey’s Nico Hischier, is from Switzerland.
- On October 3, the Oilers will play in Germany where Oilers star forward Leon Draisaitl is from. The opponent is a German team based in Cologne.
- The Devils and the Oilers open their respective regular season’s in Sweden against each other on October 6.
- The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets will play two regular season games in Helsinki, Finland on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.
- Leafs center, Auston Matthews, said recently he worked on his skating in the off-season and people are noticing he seems a lot faster on the ice. Matthews worked with skating consultant & former figure skater, Barb Underhill, and he said she really helped him with his mechanics. She used video – recorded him skating and went through the video with Matthews. He said he feels his first step is better and his skating is a bit more explosive.
- Leafs are 2-0 in the preseason defeating Ottawa twice but Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, said after Wednesday’s game the team needs more from Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen. Prospective 4th line center Par Lindhom is reportedly looking better as training camp rolls on.
- Some people believe Leafs GM Kyle Dubas would be wise to sign forward Mitch Marner sooner rather than later considering Marner and Tavares will be playing on the same line this season. Marner is playing out the final year of his entry level contract. With 69 points last season and 60 points the previous season, Marner should set a new career high in points in the 2018-19 season.
- The Flames group that went to China is expected back by midnight Wednesday (Sept. 19). Everyone that went over is being given 2 days to recover with the hope their bodies can better re-adjust from the 14 hour time change.
- In China, Elias Lindholm played with Monahan and Gaudreau on the team’s top line. Apparently, the team doesn’t want Monahan taking face-offs as he had off-season wrist surgery (the team said previously he was 100% healthy so not sure if his wrist is still a problem).
- With the non-China group, forward Dillon Dube has impressed a lot of people in Calgary. He’s recorded 3 goals and 1 assist in 2 pre-season games. Dube was a former captain of Team Canada at the IIHF World Juniors.
Trades, Signings & Unsigned Players
- San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is confident he can sign newly acquired defenseman, Erik Karlsson. Wilson said the organization would not have acquired the player if they weren’t hopeful they could sign him. Apparently, Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, founder of the software company SAP, talked to Erik before the trade and encouraged him to agree to it. The Sharks supposedly finished second in the John Tavares July 1 sweepstakes so have the money to commit to Karlsson.
- There is a wrinkle in the CBA which equates to the Sharks and Karlsson not being able to sign a 8 year deal until after the February 25, 2019 trade deadline. The clause in the CBA is due to the fact the player was on the Senators roster after last season’s trade deadline. Karlsson can sign for 7 or less years with San Jose at anytime. The player is reportedly looking for a contract at money ($11 M /season).
- Most points among NHL defenseman since 2009-10:
- Sharks Karlsson 518
- Sharks Burns 449
- Panthers Yandle 422
- Jets Byfuglien 419
- ‘Hawks Keith 415
- Artemi Panarin is one year from unrestricted free agency and has indicated to Columbus he probably would not re-sign there. I heard that Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen was checking around on Panarin’s trade value but the GM is currently looking at trying to convince the player to re-sign in Columbus Not sure of this is what the GM is just saying publicly).
- Blue Jackets star goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, is also one season from being unrestricted and recently said team knows what he plans to do as he discussed with them but Blue Jackets management is not really saying anything on the matter. I believe he wants to shop around on July 1, 2019.
- Dallas Stars center, Tyler Seguin, signed an 8 year $78.8 M contract (average annual salary $9.85 M) with the team that includes a full “no trade” clause for all 8 seasons. The new contract kicks in next season. Seguin would be been an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He said his priority was staying in Dallas.
- Vegas defenseman, Shea Theodore, and the Golden Knights are reportedly still far apart regarding a new contract for the player. I am not sure who will step into the Vegas line-up to take the two available spots on the team’s defense (Nate Schmidt was suspended for the first 20 regular season games). Some people thought the Jets signing of Josh Morrissey (two years at $3.15 M /season) and Darnell Nurse signing in Edmonton (2 years at $3.2 M/season) would lead to Theodore signing (last season Theodore recorded 26 points – same as Nurse), since they are all young defenseman but there is no sign a Theodore deal is close.
- Young Buffalo Sabres center, Sam Reinhart, signed a 2 year deal with the team. The annual value in year one is $3.55 M and $3.75 M in year two. Reinhart started the season slowly, points-wise, last season but in the final two months of the regular season, was over a point a game player. Reinhart, 22, went second overall in the 2014 Entry Draft; one place behind Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
- Remaining restricted free agents:
- Vegas’ Shea Theodore – apparently the player wants a short term deal and the organization wants something longer term.
- Leafs forward William Nylander – I heard the team wants a longer term deal but the salary after the first 2 or 3 seasons is the sticking point. It was reported Nylander wants his salary after the first 2-3 seasons of the deal to be $8+ M. Not sure if they will look to do a bridge deal. As the experts say, the team has the leverage here as Nylander doesn’t play without a contract.
- Ducks forward Nick Richie – After working out with noted fitness trainer, Gary Roberts, this summer, Richie is suppose to be in incredible shape but the team and player’s agent can’t agree on a contract. Both sides are apparently looking at a shorter term/bridge deal.
- Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will not be playing this season due to an injury to his back. Zetterberg has 3 season’s remaining on his contract at a annual value of $6 M. I assume the player will be played on the Long-Term Injury Reserve List which means the Wings get some cap money relief. Some experts predict the player will be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He recorded 960 points (337 goals & 623 assists), won one Stanley Cup and one Conn Smythe trophy. Red Wings GM Ken Holland said of Zetterberg, “He’s one of the greatest Red Wing players in history. He and Datsyuk really carried the torch for this franchise for a decade.”
- Senators forward, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, tore the achilles tendon in his right leg and will be unable to play for a minimum of 6 months.
- Canucks forward, Antoine Roussel, is unable to play or practice due to a concussion. The injury happened in a scrimmage before the start of the Canucks training camp.
- Ducks forwards Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will reportedly not be ready for the start of the regular season. Kesler had major off-season hip surgery and Eaves has what was initially though of as Guillian-Barre syndrome (the immune system attacks the nerves with the disorder) but more recently said it was not that but a viral infection.
- St. Louis Blues forward, Robby Fabbri, is said to be looking fast and reported to training camp in top condition. Fabbri torn the ACL in his left knee twice in seven months (most recently in the Blues 3rd preseason game last season) having major knee surgery twice. He missed the entire 2017-18 rehabbing the injury. Fabbri, a Blues first round selection from 2014, says his knee is healthy.
- Blackhawks starting goaltender Corey Crawford, 33, is still recovering from a concussion and is unable to practice with the team. Crawford is working out off ice with the ‘Hawks goaltender coach, Jimmy Waite, and it’s reportedly going well but there is no timetable for Crawford to practice on-ice with the team. The ‘Hawks signed former Hurricanes goaltender, Cam Ward, on July 1, 2018 and he would be the Blackhawks starter if Crawford can’t play.
- Hurricanes center, Victor Rask (42nd overall in 2011), is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his right hand. He sustained the injury cutting a potato in his kitchen. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour indicated it could be months before Rask can play as he sustained tendon and ligament damage to his hand.
Odds & Ends
- In Carolina, forward Justin Williams was named the team’s captain. Williams has won three Stanley Cups, with the Hurricanes in 2006 and with LA in 2012 & 2014. Defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Jordan Staal were named assistant captains. Williams has offered to pay for Carolina fans to get a “C” stitched on their Hurricanes jersey at the team’s store.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson was named Arizona Coyotes captain. OEL is the 4th captain in Coyotes team history. The others are Shane Doan, Teppo Numminen and Keith Tkachuk.
- The Florida Panthers named Finnish center Aleksander Barkov as their new team captain. Barkov was a terrific 2nd overall draft pick by the team back in the 2013 entry draft. He recorded 78 points in 79 Panthers games last season while playing a strong two way game. Barkov’s father is a former hockey player who was born in Russia but played in the Finnish league where Alek was born. Barkov is just the 7th Finnish captain in NHL history; the others are brothers Mikko & Saku Koivu, Teppo Numminen, Kimmo Timonen, Olli Jokinen and Teemu Selanne.
- The Panthers are celebrating their 25th season in the NHL this season. Their first game of the 2018-19 season will be 25 years to the day that they played their first NHL game (October 6, 1993).
- New Dallas Stars head coach, Jim Montgomery, is working at changing the way the Stars play. The Stars did a lot of dump and chase under last season’s head coach Ken Hitchcock but this season under Montgomery, the team will focus on puck possession which will allow the Stars players to be more creative.
- The league implemented new rules for goaltenders including restrictions on the size of chest and arm protectors. This was something that was discussed in the leagues competition committee.
- There is apparently no change in Rick Nash’s status, he’s undecided whether he wants to resume his career. Apparently, Toronto is a team that was interested in signing him. Nash’s wife gave birth to their 3rd child the other day. He has had some problems with concussions. It’s not clear if he is 100% healthy.
- Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said the team and the agent for forward Brock Boeser will continue contract discussions next summer. Boeser will be playing out the final year of his 3 year entry level contract. The team and agent started discussing a new contract recently but have now shelved discussions. Boeser is going to be a motivated player in the 2018-19 season.
A lot of NHL news this past week. Here are a few items worth sharing.
Tampa Bay Lightning
- ‘Bolts GM Steve Yzerman yesterday announced he was stepping down as the team’s GM after 8 seasons in the role. Yzerman was entering the last year of his contract and felt he could not commit to signing a new deal. With the new season upon us, I think this news surprised a lot of people. Experts are predicting Stevie Y ends up back with the Red Wings organization. His family, wife and children, never relocated to Tampa Bay when he left the Wings organization so he was commuting back and forth a lot and, from all accounts, it’s the reason he decided to step down. He’s staying on as Senior Adviser to newly appointed GM Julian BrisBrois but will be living back in Detroit. Tampa Bay is one of the odds-on favorites to compete for the Cup this season so this could not have been an easy decision for Yzerman. Wings current GM Ken Holland, 62, agreed to a 2 year extension in April so possibly Yzerman takes over from Holland in 2 years.
- The group going to China flew out at noon yesterday for the 14 hr overseas flight. The seats on the plane fully reclined back so everyone could sleep on the way over. Sounds like a lot of planning went into the trip. The team has been talking a lot to the LA Kings on their experience travelling to China for pre-season games last season. Apparently, the toughest issue to overcome is the time change – particularly when returning back to North America.
- Treliving recently indicated getting Matthew Tkachuk signed to a long term deal is a priority but he does not want to discuss contract negotiations in the media. Tkachuk will be playing out the final year of his 3 year entry level contract in the new season.
- The team did fitness testing recently and forward Michael Frolik is the fittest Flame player followed by captain Mark Giordano.
New York Islanders
- New Islanders President & GM Lou Lamoriello is determined to change the culture of the Islanders organization. It started with the front office, replacing Garth Snow and Doug Weight as GM and coach. More recently, players have been told to be clean shaven and some players have been told to wear more traditional jersey numbers (lower numbers). Lou also set a new rule that no media, including the team’s broadcast crew, are allowed on team flights. New head coach Barry Trotz will implement new systems starting in training camp in a direct effort to improve the team’s defensive play. The team gave up the most goals against of any team last season.
- Saw an interview with Leafs GM Kyle Dubas where he discussed many team-related topics.
- William Nylander contract
- Sounds like the deal being discussed is a longer term deal that includes some UFA years. Dubas is confident a deal will get done but would not give a time frame when. TSN reported today that Nylander is asking for $8 M /season but not sure how accurate that report is. It does not seem as though this will be resolved soon.
- Matthews and Marner contracts
- Dubas and his two assistant GM’s, Brandon Pridham & Lawrence Gilman, have started discussions with both Auston Matthews’ representatives and Marner’s. Both prospective contracts appear to be longer term contract proposals. Dubas said the organization is open to continuing discussions into the regular season but the GM was not sure the players were OK with that. Some players find it to be a distraction, preferring to wait until the off-season. Both negotiations are in the early stages and deals are not close.
- Back-up goaltender position
- Dubas said all the goalies – McElhinney, Sparks and Pickard -are well aware there will be competition at training camp to be Freddy Andersen’s back-up. Dubas said they may need to look at a trade to break the log jam. Apparently, another Marlies goaltender, Kasimir Kaskisuo, is pushing to get more playing time and setting his sights on the NHL.
- Forth line center:
- Seems the competition for the position is between Par Lindholm, Freddy Gauthier (played last season with the Marlies) , Adam Cracknell (a former Dallas Stars center) & Adam Brooks -Leafs 4th round draft pick from 2016. Brooks also played last season with the Marlies. Gauthier requires waivers so the team is at risk of losing him for nothing (if another team claims him). Will be interesting to see what Lindholm can bring to the team. It will be his first season in the NHL so I expect it will be an adjustment for him.
- Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen
- Seems these two players will benefit the most from the departure of JVR, Bozak & Komorov. Johnsson was MVP of the Calder Cup finals in June so he seems to be in the strongest position to make the Leafs.
- No captain, at least to start the season
- Seems Leafs management did not want to be in a position where they granted the captaincy to a player and then had to take it away because the player was not ready. I can only assume Dubas was talking about Matthews wearing the “C”. The team then announced on Thursday they will go with 3 alternate captains this season, Patrick Marleau, John Tavares & Morgan Rielly.
- Atlantic Division
- Dubas feels it’s important that the team finishes the regular season ahead of the Bruins and Lightning. Toronto has had two first round exits in the past two post seasons & the GM feels getting post-season home ice is important.
- Dubas said he feels it’s on him to help create an environment where the players can excel saying he wants to develop all the players to the maximum of their abilities. Experienced players need to help players such as Johnsson & Kapanen adjust to being full-time NHLers.
- Keeping all the star players
- Dubas indicated he is confident he can keep the core of the team together long-term. That includes Matthews, Tavares, Marner, Nylander and Morgan Rielly.
- Whereas some people say the Leafs weakness is their defense group, Dubas is confident in the group. Some of the defenseman that will be pushing for ice time include Russian Igor Ozhiganov (he played on Zaitsev’s former team in Russia), Travis Dermott, Connor Carrick, Martin Marincin, Justin Holl & Calle Rosen. Dubas is very familiar will all these players as they played for the Marlies (where last season Dubas was GM).
- The organization is very high on first rounder Timothy Liljegren (2017 seventeenth overall). The GM added he’s still developing and they want him playing as much as possible (sounds like he’s a lock for top minutes with the AHL Marlies).
- Justin Holl & Martin Marincin were the Marlies top d pairing last season and Dubas is confident they can play in the NHL.
- Marner and Tavares
- The plan is to have Mitch Marner and John Tavares start the season on the same line. These two should be magic on the ice together.
- Josh Leivo
- Dubas indicated if Leivo can’t make the Leafs, they will look to find him a better situation, i.e. trade.
- Tyler Ennis
- Coming off a buy-out from the Minnesota Wild last season, Ennis will be given a good chance to play minutes on Leafs. Both Babcock and Dubas really wanted him on the team as he’s quick and the GM indicates he’s very motivated since last season did not go well for him.
- The Leafs have no player attending their training camp on a PTO (professional tryout).
NHL in Seattle
- The next major milestone in the Oak View Group quest to bring NHL Hockey to Seattle is October 2, 2018 when Seattle’s mayor Jenny Durken and Oak View executives make a presentation to the NHL Executive Committee of the NHL Board of Governers in New York city.
- The Seattle group announced their local investors. The group includes the following well-known Seattle residents:
- Andy Jassy – CEO of Amazon Web Services
- Adrian Hanauer – Majority owner of Seattle Sounders FC
- Jay Deutsch – CEO & founder of Bensussen Deutsch
- Brothers David & Jeffrey Wright – their father was a former Seattle Sonics & Seattle Sounders owner and their family owns the Seattle Space Needle
- Brothers Chris & Ted Ackerley – sons of Seattle Sonics former owner Barry Ackerley
- Having a top Amazon executive in the investors group is awesome. Jassy says he wants to help bring technology-related initiatives to the new Seattle team including using software solutions for scouting and they want to have a top notch in game fan experience.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets announced multi-year contract extensions for President John Davidson, GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Associate General Manager Bill Zito. Additionally, head coach John Tortorella signed a 2 year extension that kicks in at the start of next season.
More Professional Tryouts
- Former Bruins defenseman, Dennis Seidenberg, will attend NY Islanders training camp on a PTO.
- Recent Cup champion, Capitals forward Alex Chiasson, is attending the Oilers training camp on a PTO.
- Forward Jussi Jokinen has signed a PTO with the Detroit Red Wings.
- Forward Drew Stafford will be attending New Jersey’s training camp on a PTO.
- Defenseman Viktor Svendberg is attending Flames training camp on a PTO.
- Logan Shaw, who played in 30 games last season with Montreal, has signed a PTO with the Calgary Flames.
- Defenseman Luca Sbisa, who played last season with Las Vegas, is attending NY Islanders training camp on a PTO.
- Lee Stempniak & Daniel Winnick are attending Bruins training camp on a PTO’s.
- Jack Skille, former Vancouver Canuck player who played last season in the KHL, is attending Ottawa Senators training camp on a PTO.
- Habs forward, Max Pacioretty was dealt to Vegas late Sunday night for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second round draft pick. Suzuki is a 1st round selection, 13th overall, in 2017 by Las Vegas and can reportedly play all three of the forward positions; he recorded 100 points (42 goals & 58 assists) for Owen Sound in the OHL last season. Some experts have compared Suzuki to Ducks goal scorer Rickard Rakell (Rakell scored 34 goals for the Ducks last season). Suzuki’s brother, Ryan, is a star forward with the Barrie Colts of the OHL and expected to be a high first rounder in next years NHL Entry Draft. Experts generally agreed that Habs GM Marc Bergevin did well in this trade.
- The Golden Knights signed Pacioretty to a 4 year $28 M deal ($7 M a season); the new contract kicks in next season.
- Most even-strength goals since 2011-12 season:
- Alex Ovechkin 175
- John Tavares 153
- Max Pacioretty 152
- Patrick Kane 152
- Brad Marchand 152
- Tyler Seguin 152
- Vegas appears to again have a strong team heading into the new season. Their top line is Jonathan Marchessault with William Karlsson and Riley Smith. Their second line is Paul Stastny between Erik Haula and Pacioretty. The organization felt their goal scoring dried up in the later rounds of the post season last season so adding Pacioretty should help address that.
- It’s not clear where Montreal is going to get it’s goal scoring from. They finished 29th in goals for last season and traded two of their top goals scorers, Alex Galchenyuk and Pacioretty.
- Boston traded defenseman Adam McQuaid to the Rangers for defenseman Steven Kampfer, a 4th round selection in 2019 & a conditional seventh round selection in 2019 The Bruins got $2.1 M off their salary cap from the deal.
- TSN was reporting today that a Erik Karlsson trade is imminent. The impetus to getting the trade done now is the desire of Ottawa to start the season with no distractions. The reported most likely destination for Karlsson is Las Vegas, Tampa Bay or San Jose.
- Ducks forward Nick Richie is without a contract as training camp approaches. The two sides are reportedly in discussions but it’s unclear if anything will happen before Thursday.
- Apparently the representations for Stars forward Tyler Seguin and Stars GM Jim Nill have made progress regarding a new contract for the player. Tyler is entering the final year of his contract and will be unrestricted on July 1, 2019. Indications are this will get signed within the next few weeks.
- Wild forward Eric Staal and Minnesota Wild Management (GM Paul Fenton) have agreed to keep discussing details for a new contract for the forward. Staal, 33, is one year from unrestricted free agency.
- Canadiens forward, Michael McCarron, signed his qualifying offer. He was a restricted free agent.
- There are 7 remaining unsigned RFA’s:
- Sabres forward Sam Reinhart
- Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse
- Ducks forward Nick Richie
- Leafs forward William Nylander
- Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey
- Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore
- Devils forward Miles Wood
- The NHL suspended Predators forward Austin Watson for 27 games and the entire pre-season without pay because of domestic assault incident last season. Watson pleaded “no contest” to the charge. The NHLPA has already filed an appeal of the suspension.
- Flyers defenseman, Andrew MacDonald, injured his knee and won’t be available to the team for the next 6 weeks.
- Flyers star forward, Sean Couturier, is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Couturier injured his knee in a charity game a few weeks ago but is back skating. He said he expects he’ll have to wear a knee brace all season. Couturier recorded 78 points last season in what was a break-out year for him.
- St. Louis Blues goaltender, Jake Allen, will miss 2 weeks with back spasms. It’s an important year for Allen as St. Louis made a lot of moves (bringing in Ryan O’Reilly & Tyler Bozak on big ticket contracts) to improve their team. Allen has really struggled the past 2 seasons with inconsistent play.
Odds & Ends
- Defenseman Cody Franson, who last season played with the Chicago Blackhawks, signed a 2 year deal with Avangard in the KHL. Avangard is coached by former NHL head coach, Bob Hartley. Franson joins former NHL players, Alexei Emelin, Kris Versteeg & David Desharnais on Avangard’s roster.
- Jets star forward, Patrik Laine, has reported to Jets training camp 14 pounds lighter saying he gave up junk food. Laine hopes he’ll be noticeably quicker on the ice.
- Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said management will make a decision on the team captaincy before the start of the regular season but it’s possible there will be no captain this season. Center Bo Horvat has said publicly he wants to be the team’s captain.
- The WHL’s Goaltender of the Year, Carter Hart, is hoping to stick with the Flyers this season. Hart was a standout goaltender for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
- Vegas GM George McPhee said he does not expect to name a captain for the new season. McPhee indicated the team worked well with the 6 alternate captains last season and there is no reason to change things.
With many players practicing on ice this week and training camps set to open with fitness testing Thursday next week, thought I’d pass on some NHL news that I’ve heard.
- Former Flames 4th line player, Matt Stajan, signed to play the 2018-19 season with the Munich Red Bulls in Germany. Stajan, 34, said he did receive some NHL interest but only PTO offers so decided to take the opportunity in Germany.
- Defenseman Noah Hanifin & the team agreed on a 6 year contract that pays him $4.95 M per season. Hanifin is just 21 years old and has already played 239 NHL games. Both GM Brad Treliving and new head coach Bill Peters, who was Hanifin’s head coach of all three of his prior NHL seasons in Carolina, say the player is still developing and they expect him to get a lot better. While he may be overpaid in the first 1-2 season’s of the new contract, management hopes in years 3-6 of the deal, Calgary will be getting a good player at a team-friendly price. Time will tell. With the 6 year term, Treliving bought 2 years of the players UFA years. I’m sure many Flames fans will be interested to see how Hanifin fits in here in Calgary. Both Dougie Hamilton & Travis Hamonic struggled on defense in their first season’s in Calgary – both looking like they were a bit nervous and trying too hard. Hopefully, Hanifin fits well with Travis Hamonic who is suppose to be his defense partner. Bill Peters indicated Hanifin will see second unit PP time.
- Players attending training camp will be split into 3 groups, one group that’s going to China for the two exhibition games against Boston and 2 other groups that will include mostly prospects. There will be no rookie tournament this year because of the China trip but the Flames and Oilers rookies play as soon as this Sunday in Calgary and again on Wednesday, Sept. 12 in Red Deer. The China-bound group (NHL veterans) leave Calgary next Tuesday and play at 12:30 AM MST on Saturday, Sept. 15 in Shenzhen and Sept. 19 in Beijing. Both games are being broadcast live on Sportsnet.
- Pesky Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk is entering the final season of his 3 year entry level contract. Heard GM Treliving say they will get the player signed to a deal at some point before the start of next season adding Matthew is a core piece of the team. Negotiations will probably be kept out of the media.
- The Bruins are not sending some of their veteran stars to China. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tory Krug are all not going. Bergeron (groin surgery) & Krug (ankle surgery) are still recovering injuries suffered last season.
- There’s been some talk that Flames majority owner Murray Edwards wants to increase his ownership percentage in the team and some of the older owners want to exit. Nothing has been announced but the team is in the middle of trying to get a new building and are negotiating with the City of Calgary. Those discussions have stayed out of media, so far.
- The Senators really get hammered in the media re the state of the franchise. Apparently, owner Eugene Melnyk has taken out 3 loans to help cover costs of running the organization. Their front office is reportedly less than half the size of other NHL teams. Melnyk expects once the downtown arena project is approved and moving forward, the market value of the franchise will increase significantly.
- Some people are speculating fan attendance in Ottawa will be a lot lower this season, below 10,000 fans per game, as fans are frustrated. Some fans don’t care for Sens head coach Guy Boucher’s style of play (trap system where the team defends by putting 3 players in the neutral zone). Hopefully the Senators can have a decent season to alleviate some of the negativity around the team.
- Experts don’t expect the Erik Karlsson situation resolved soon. Karlsson, with one year left on his contract, has made it known he will not be re-signing in Ottawa. The Senators keep trying to package both Karlsson and forward Bobby Ryan in the same deal. Ryan has 4 more years left on his contract at $7.25 M /season. Ottawa, in my view, would have to retain salary to move that contract.
- Forward Matt Duchene, 27, has one year left on his deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent. He recently indicated he hopes to re-sign in Ottawa.
- The Senators appointed former player, Chris Kelly, as Development Coach. Kelly will join another former Senators player, Shean Donovan, in helping the Senators assess prospects in their system.
- The Jets locked up one of their top players Tuesday agreeing with center Blake Wheeler on a 5 year contract at $8.25 M/season or $41.25 M total. The contract starts in the 2019-20 season when Wheeler will be 33 years old. Today after announcing the deal, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff raved about Wheeler’s abilities as a player and captain. Wheeler said he really wanted to stay with the Jets and was happy to get a deal done before the start of the season; he said he couldn’t see himself playing anywhere but Winnipeg.
- The Jets need to get 20 year old forward Patrik Laine under contract next. Laine is entering the last year of his entry level contract and will be a restricted free agent after the upcoming season. All indications point to Laine and the Jets agreeing on a deal within the next 5-6 months.
- In addition to Laine, the following Jets players are restricted free agents after the upcoming 2018-19 season:
- Jacob Trouba
- Joe Morrow
- Andrew Copp
- Kyle Connor
- Jack Roslevic
- Marko Dano
- Defenseman Josh Morrissey is currently an RFA and does not have a contract for the new season. GM Cheveldayoff said today Morrissey will be signed by training camp. Morrissey was the Jets first round selection from 2013, 13th overall, and has developed rapidly. This past season the player was paired with Jacob Trouba on the Jets first d pairing. Apparently, Morrissey wants a bridge deal as he’s still growing a lot as a player; the Jets prefer something more long-term.
- Many experts believe the odd player out after this season maybe defenseman, Jacob Trouba, who signed a one year $5.5 M contract for this season. Basically, the team has many good players and they may not be able to keep them all.
- The Leafs open camp on Thursday, Sept. 13. I believe the first day of all training camps around the league are player physicals and fitness testing and the next day, Friday, Sept. 14th, players hit the ice.
- On the William Nylander contract, it seems nothing is imminent re a new contract. The negotiation has been kept fairly quiet so not sure if it’ll be a 2-3 year “bridge” deal or a 6-7 year long term contract. If it’s 6 or 7 years, the Leafs would be buying a few of Nylander’s UFA years so the price goes up for those years. I see this ending as a 3-4 year deal at about $6 M/season.
- Stars forward, Tyler Seguin, spoke recently about contract negotiations between his reps and the team and said basically there have been no negotiations since the two sided exchanged ballpark numbers at the entry draft. Seguin said he was both disappointed and surprised as, with one year left before he’s unrestricted, he prefers to stay in Dallas long-term. Stars management were surprised by Seguin’s comments as they indicated they did not see an urgency to get a deal signed this summer. I would estimate Seguin’s per season cost for Dallas would be about $9 – $10 M. I can’t see Dallas management can let the player get away. He’s a fan favorite and his play on the ice is electrifying.
- Hall of Fame goaltender, Martin Brodeur, has joined the New Jersey Devils as Executive Vice President of Business Development. Brodeur’s previous role in St. Louis was AGM of the team, a more hockey-related position, but this New Jersey position is stepping away from the hockey ops and into the business side. Brodeur reports to the Devils team president, Hugh Weber. Brodeur is friends with the two co-0wners of the Devils, Josh Harris & David Blitzer. Brodeur said the other day that he’s going to take “baby steps” adjusting to his new role.
- With Brodeur leaving the St. Louis Blues organization, Bill Armstrong was promoted to Blues AGM. Armstrong, 48, has done good work in his current role as the Blues scouting director, a position he will retain while assuming the AGM title. Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he predicts new AGM Bill Armstrong (no relation) will be an NHL GM one day.
- Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella and the team are close to an agreement on a contract extension. Tortorella has a record of 129-87-23 in three season’s behind the bench in Columbus.
- The New York Rangers have appointed former player, Steve Konowalchuk, as a Western Hockey League scout.
Professional Try Outs
- Former Vegas Golden Knight defenseman, Jason Garrison, has accepted a PTO with Edmonton.
- Former Islanders & Oilers defenseman, Brandon Davidson, accepted a PTO with Chicago. Davidson had 10 PTO offers and choose the Blackhawks.
- Former Blackhawks goaltender, Jeff Glass, is attending Flames training camp on a PTO.
- Simon Despres, a defenseman who was last in the Ducks organization, has accepted a PTO with Montreal.
- Emerson Etem, a winger who played last season in Switzerland, is attended LA’s training camp (PTO).
- Mark Letestu, formerly a 4th line center with Edmonton, is hoping to get a contract with Florida (PTO).
- Scott Upshall is attending Oilers training camp on a PTO.
- Defenseman Mark Fayne is attending Bruins training camp on a PTO.
- Last season, 57 players attended an NHL training camp on a PTO and 9 signed an NHL contract (16%).
- The Max Pacioretty situation in Montreal doesn’t seem like it’s getting any easier for anyone. The player has said his strong preference is to re-sign in Montreal (he has one year left on his contract and will then be unrestricted) but the team does not want to re-sign him and are trying to move him. Apparently, at the draft, Montreal GM Marc Bergevin had a deal in place with Los Angeles but Pacioretty’s agent and LA could not agree on a contract extension. The player was offered a 6 years at $6 M per season contract by LA and the agent turned it down. Pacioretty then fired his agent and hired a different agent, Allan Walsh. Walsh has been telling the media in Montreal how much Max wants to stay with the Habs but it’s not happening. Montreal GM Bergevin is still trying to trade the player.
Seattle’s NHL Bid
- On Wednesday, Sept. 5th, the Oak View Group will announce new investors in the Seattle NHL bid. Seattle’s lead investor, David Bonderman, is holding a press conference in Seattle to introduce the new investors.
- On September 24th, Seattle City Council is to vote on the Oak View’s Group proposed changes to KeyArena (the $700 M renovation).
- On October 2nd, the Oak View Group plans to make it’s pitch for a NHL team in front of the NHL Board of Governors (BOG) & the league’s Executive Committee.
- The NHL’s BOG meets quarterly and it’s speculated that the NHL could approve the Seattle bid at the December BOG meeting.
- The final event at KeyArena before the start of the proposed renovations is an NBA game on October 5th, 2018.
- The League is being fairly quiet on this issue as it’s reportedly the way NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman operates – follow a process and announce when there is something definite to say. The Seattle Group operates a bit differently as they communicate about what’s happening with KeyArena, etc. The Seattle group recently said they plan to recruit a General Manager in the Spring of 2019 and they haven’t ruled out current adviser, Dave Tippett, as the team first head coach but naming a head coach is not a priority at this point.
Odds & Ends
- Islanders forward, Jordan Eberle, recently indicated there have been no contract discussions with the team. Eberle, 28, entering the final year of his 6 year, $36 M contract he signed with the Oilers and will be a UFA after the upcoming season. With Tavares signing in Toronto, Eberle could get more ice time this season. Last season, he recorded 25 goals and 39 assists for 64 points.
- The New York Rangers organization is retiring Vic Hadfield #11 before their December 2 home game against Winnipeg. Hadfield recorded 572 points in 841 games as a New York Ranger from 1961-1974. A former Rangers captain, Hadfield will be the 10th New York Ranger to have his jersey retired.
- Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will miss the pre-season and the first part of the season as he has back problems. Zetterberg is seeing the doctor that operated on his back in 2014 and recently said, “I need to hear it from a doctor that I can’t play anymore”. Zetterberg turns 38 on October 9th.
- Former Flames forward, Troy Brouwer, has joined the Florida Panthers signing a one year deal at $850 K.
- Vegas defenseman, Nate Schmidt, has been suspended for 20 regular season games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Schmidt denied taking any banned substance but apparently the NHLPA has exhausted their options for appealing the suspension. No word on what the Golden Knights will do to replace Schmidt who led the Golden Knights defense in ice time last season (over 22 minutes/game). Another key Golden Knights defenseman, Shea Theodore, is currently in a tough contract negotiation with the team. Seems Vegas will need to make a move for a defenseman or sign Theodore to fill the void.
- Alexei Emelin, who played last season with Nashville and before that 6 season’s with Montreal, signed a 3 year deal in the KHL.
- Flyers star forward, Wayne Simmonds, is one season from unrestricted free agency and recently said his agent and the Flyers have started preliminary discussions on a new contract. Simmonds, 30, played last season with a torn pelvis and had it repaired this summer. He recently said he is looking forward to the new season and being healthy.
- The Carolina Hurricanes will announce a captain as soon as at training camp. The rumored player to assume the captaincy is forward Justin Williams. Williams has won 3 Stanley Cups, one with Carolina (2006) and two with LA (2012 & 2014).
- Former Coyotes forward, Shane Doan, was a pallbearer at Senator John McCain’s recent funeral. Must of been a humbling honor for the former Coyotes captain.
- Minnesota Wild defenseman, Ryan Suter, is reportedly healthy after suffering a career-threatening ankle injury with 5 games remaining in the 2017-18 regular season.
- The world’s top hockey player, Connor McDavid, said recently he’s trying to get even better. McDavid said he’s aiming to score more goals this season (bad news for NHL goaltenders). McDavid recorded 30 goals two seasons ago and 41 last season. The chances of him hitting the 50 goal mark in the new season are very good.
- One important topic could be discussed through-out the new season is the fact there is an out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners in September 2019. The owners can notify the players they want to opt out on or after September 1, 2019 while the players can do the same to the owners on or after September 15, 2019. No early indications which way this will go.
- The league announced that teams will be allowed to sell on ice ads that would be placed behind the goal lines. Previously, on ice ads were allowed in the neutral zone only.
Here are a few NHL news items. Players seem to winding down their summers and heading back to their NHL cities.
- The Jets have signed their 1st round selection from 2017, Kristian Vesalainen, to an entry level contract. The 19 year old Finnish forward went 24th overall in last years NHL Entry Draft. This past season playing in the Finnish league, Vesalainen recorded 22 goals & 21 assists in 49 games.
- Former Jets defenseman, Tobias Enstrom, has signed with Modo in the Swedish league. Enstrom, 33, was named team captain of the Modo club. Apparently, Enstrom did have NHL interest but chose to return to Sweden.
- Jets forward Patrik Laine, 20, is entering the final year of his 3 year entry level contract and apparently the team has not started any real discussions about an extension. Laine says he really wants to stay in Winnipeg long-term and is fine to wait until the end of the 2018-19 season to start discussions on a new deal.
- Flames signed utility forward, Anthony Peluso, to a one year, two-way contract that’s worth $650 K at the NHL level.
- The team’s training camp opens Sunday, Sept. 9 in Calgary and then the team plays Saturday, Sept. 15th in Shenzhen, China and Wed. Sept. 19th in Beijing. Both games in China are against the Boston Bruins. I heard the group going over to China for the Flames are the NHL regulars not prospects.
- Noah Hanifin, acquired from the Hurricanes at the draft, is reportedly close to signing with Calgary. The player is a restricted free agent and is requesting about $5 M / season on a 5-6 year deal. Flames GM Brad Treliving commented the other day that the player will be signed before the start of training camp.
- Sean Monahan, who had numerous injuries at the end of last season, says he’s 100% healthy and has never felt so good.
- Leafs training camp runs Friday, September 14-16 & is being held at the Gale Center Arena in Niagara Falls.
- Leafs star forward Auston Matthews recently said he believes he is ready to be captain of the team. Will be interesting to see which way this goes as John Tavares has been captain of every team he’s ever been on. Some people believe the team could go another season will 3 assistants and no captain and name Matthews as captain for the 2019-20 season. Matthews turns 21 mid-Sept; seems he wants the honor of being the team’s captain.
- Matthews is still hoping to get a contract signed with the Leafs soon. Talk on numbers are $10 M or $11 M per season on a 8 year term. Myself, I don’t see how the Leafs are going to be able to sign all their offensive stars.
- Tavares at $11 M /season
- Matthews at $10 M /season
- Marner’s going to want minimum $8 M /season
- Nylander will be at $6.2 M range.
- That’s $35 M of a $78 M salary cap or 44% on 4 players.
Detroit Red Wings
- The chances that Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg plays in the 2018-19 season seem next to none. Because of his back problems, Zetterberg has been unable to train this summer. No official announcement has been made from the team but Wings head coach Jeff Blashill recently commented they don’t expect he’ll be playing. The player will have to pass a physical before training camp so an announcement could be made around then.
- Wings defenseman, Niklas Kronwall, is reportedly playing his final NHL season (in the 2018-19 season). Kronwall will turn 38 during the upcoming season. He’s played his entire NHL career with the Wings.
- St. Louis Blues AGM Martin Brodeur has left the St. Louis Blues organization saying he plans to spend more time with his family. Apparently, Brodeur had a 3 year contract with the Blues to be their AGM, the contract ran out and Martin decided he did not want to renew. Many people believe he’ll return to the New Jersey organization at some point but it’s just speculation.
- Former Senators AGM Randy Lee has resigned from his position in Ottawa. Lee got into legal trouble recently and the situation is still ongoing.
- Coyotes Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Bernhardt has left the Coyotes organization and USA amateur scout Rob Pulford has left as well. The Coyotes recently brought in Lindsay Hofford as Assistant General Manager & his responsibilities include overseeing the entire Coyotes scouting staff.
- The Leafs hired Hayley Wickenheiser as the teams Assistant Director of Player Development. I assume she’s relocating to Toronto but I’m not certain. I believe she’s currently enrolled in medical school at the University of Calgary. A lot of women were encouraged that a top NHL team hired a women in a business that is so male dominated. Dubas smartly commented, “If you’re only hiring white males, you’re probably leaving a lot on the table in terms of where your organization goes and how it evolves & develops.”
- The team also hired Noelle Needham as a Amateur Scout based in the Midwestern USA.
- The final add was Victor Carneiro as an Amateur Scout based in Ontario. Carneiro spent 14 years as a scout for the London Knights & Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. He was also Director of Player Personnel for 5 years with the Greyhounds. He’ll be the Leafs OHL amateur scout.
- Scott Pellerin was promoted to Senior Director of Player Development and Stephane Robais was promoted to Director of Player Development.
- And with all these Leafs management changes, it seems GM Kyle Dubas’ front office has taken shape.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported mid-week the Erik Karlsson trade discussions around the league have picked up again. Additionally, Friedman mentioned the Canucks having interest but Vancouver GM Jim Benning said it’s not true adding their focus is on developing Boeser, Petersson, Hughes, Thatcher Demko & Olli Juolevi. A different reporter mentioned Karlsson does not want to play for a Canadian team and Erik contacted the reporter and said that is not true. The main teams mentioned as a possible destination for Karlsson include Vegas, Dallas, Tampa Bay and San Jose. Myself, I wonder if a team that may acquire him wants to sign him to a max 7 year contract or let him play out the last year of his current deal leaving him unrestricted on July 1, 2019.
- Not much new on the Max Pacioretty trade discussions. The Canadiens are trying to trade the player and he is one year from unrestricted free agency. I’ve heard no recent rumors about possible trade destinations for Pacioretty.
- Former LA Kings defenseman, Slava Voynov, is trying to make a return to the NHL. It’s currently in the hands of the league (Gary Bettman) to determine what the player must do to be reinstated. Earlier this year, a judge dismissed Voynov’s misdemeanor domestic abuse charge.
Odds & Ends
- Flyers star forward, Sean Couturier, injured his right knee in a pick-up hockey game and will be off skates for the next 4-6 weeks.
- The Oilers signed Scott Upshall to a professional tryout contract. Upshall will try and impress the Oilers coaches at training camp and earn an NHL contract.
- Alex Ovechkin and his wife welcomed their first child last week, Sergei Alexandrovich Ovechkin was named after Alex’s late brother.
- Anaheim signed one of their key restricted free agents, Ondrej Kase. Kase signed for 3 years at an annual average value of $2.6 M. Kase, 22, recorded 38 points in 66 games last season for the Ducks.
- Former Penguins forward Max Talbot, former Oiler and NY Ranger, forward David Desharnais & former Flames forward Kris Versteeg have all signed with Omsk in the KHL where former NHL head coach Bob Hartley is the team’s head coach.
- Former Flames forward Lance Bouma has signed in the Swiss League. Bouma was a forth line forward with the Blackhawks last season.
- Two players that had mid/late season shoulder surgery last season Oilers Oscar Klefbom and Canucks Erik Gudbranson, are healthy now and ready for training camp.
- The Florida Panthers will honor goaltender Roberto Luongo before their Oct. 13th game against the Canucks in Sunrise, Florida for playing in his 1,000 career NHL game.
- Carey Price should establish a new record for wins by a Montreal goaltender in the 2018-19 season. Current leaders:
- Jacques Plante 314 wins
- Patrick Roy 289 wins
- Carey Price 286 wins.
- Price starts the first year of his new contract in 2018-19 ($10.5 /season for 8 years) and recently said he really wants to have a strong 2018-19 season with it being the first season of his new contract.
- Predators goaltender, Pekka Rinne, is 9 wins away from becoming the winningest Finnish goaltender.
- Miikka Kiprusoff 319
- Pekka Rinne 311
- Kari Lehtonen 301
- Tuukka Rask 238
- NY Islanders President Lou Lomoriello recently indicated the teams new arena in Belmont Park may be slightly ahead of schedule and the plan is to have it ready for the 2021-22 season. In the new 2018-19 season the team is splitting their home games between the Barclays Center (20 homes games there) in Brooklyn and Nassau Coliseum on Long Island (the other 20 games). Also with the Islanders, one of their highest rated prospects is 2016 nineteenth overall pick forward Keifer Bellows who is the son of former NHLer Brian Bellows.
- Buffalo Sabres restricted free agent, Sam Reinhart, is still in negotiations with the team on a new deal. No indication if this will be signed before training camp starts in 3 weeks.
- Golden Knights defenseman, Shea Theodore, is in a tough contract negotiation with the team as his entry level contract has expired leaving the player as a restricted free agent. Vegas GM George McPhee says he hopes they can agree before the start of the season. Theodore, 23, recorded 29 points last season on 6 goals. It’s expected he’s looking at between $3.5 M – $4 M / season.
- Sharks forward, Joe Thornton, is just 3 assists away from becoming just the 11th player all-time to record 400 goals and 1,000 assists in an NHL career.
- Apparently, the Oilers offered UFA defenseman Brandon Davidson a professional tryout but he’s going to wait and see if he can get a contract. Davidson played part of last season with the Oilers before being traded to the Islanders mid-season.
- The Rochester Americans have offered former NHLer Brian Gionta a management position with the team but he is undecided on his future.
- The Oilers signed Czech defenseman Jakub Jerabek to a one year contract. Jerabek was with the Capitals organization last season but saw limited playing time. Oilers defensive depth looks like Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell, Matthew Benning as their top 5. Jerabek, Kevin Gravel, Ethan Bear, Evan Bouchard & Keegan Lowe will be in the mix for the 6th spot.
- Former first round pick (2010) Emerson Etem will attend LA Kings training camp on a PTO. Etem played last season in the Swiss League.