NHL stars of the week named, Panthers re-sign Aleksander Barkov, impact of acquiring Vincent Lecavalier upon the Kings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Derick Brassard had a career-high five points in the Rangers’ win over the Sabres. Cam Atkinson recorded his third NHL hat trick to lift the Blue Jackets past the Canadiens.
Notable NHL Headlines.
NHL.com: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov, New Jersey Devils forward Lee Stempniak and St. Louis Blues netminder Brian Elliott are the NHL three stars of the week.
MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Panthers signed center Aleksander Barkov to a six-year contract worth an average salary-cap hit of $5.9 million. “Barkov will get $4.25 million when the contract kicks in next season and will peak at $7.75 million during the final year of it in 2021-22.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov, 20, is in the final season of his entry-level contract, so he’s getting a significant raise. With 30 points in 38 games, he’s among the Panthers leading scorers and a rising star. He’s an undeniably gifted offensive forward.
The only concern is Barkov’s injury history, as he’s yet to play a complete NHL season. A knee injury limited him to 54 games in his rookie campaign of 2013-14, a combination of a hand and groin injuries kept him to 71 games last season, and he’s missed 10 games this season to wrist surgery. If Barkov can put his injury woes behind him, he’ll be an invaluable part of the Panthers offense over the next six years.
YAHOO SPORTS: Speaking of the Panthers, right wing Jaromir Jagr earned a $1.5 million bonus for reaching the 45-game mark this season.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The acquisition of a supposedly washed-up Vincent Lecavalier has already paid dividends for the Los Angeles Kings. He’s tallied four goals and five points in nine games whilst averaging nearly 13 minutes of ice time.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis (facial injuries) hopes to return to action after the All-Star break.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Simon Despres imminent return to the Anaheim Ducks lineup will give them a glut of defenseman. Sidelined blueliner Cam Fowler is also expected back following the All-Star break.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why there’s anticipation the Ducks could shop a defenseman or two for a scoring forward before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman John Carlson (lower-body injury) might not return until after the All-Star break. The injury has sidelined Carlson for 12 games.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Oft-injured Penguins winger Beau Bennett is out again, having aggravated a shoulder injury.
NBC SPORTS: NHL player escrow rose from 16 to 18 percent.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The falling Canadian dollar could raise hopes for an NHL franchise in Seattle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It also likely explains the league’s footdragging on awarding an expansion franchise to Quebec City.