NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2018

by | Feb 23, 2018 | News, NHL

Game recaps, Rangers trade Grabner to Devils, Bruins ship Vatrano to Panthers. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.com: Auston Matthews game-tying goal set the stage for Tyler Bozak’s shootout winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Matthews, however, left the game late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. A further update is expected today. Speaking of the Islanders, they’re reportedly closing in on a new five- or six-year contract with winger Josh Bailey worth $5 million annually. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs fans will be holding their breath today awaiting further word on Matthews’ condition. As for Bailey, looks like he could get a significant boost over his current $3.3-million annual cap hit. With 62 points in 58 games, the 28-year-old winger is enjoying a career-best season in his contract year. This could be a gamble on the Isles part, and not just because they’re investing so much in a late-blooming scorer. This could also be considered a vital step in their efforts to re-sign franchise player John Tavares before his UFA eligibility on July 1, as Bailey is one of Tavares’ linemates.

The New Jersey Devils acquired winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

A three-goal second-period outburst powered the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Taylor Hall extended his points streak to 13 by scoring one of the Devils two goals. Meanwhile, the Devils acquired winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers in exchange for their 2018 second-round pick and defenseman prospect Yegor Rykov. It’s the first trade between the two clubs since the Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grabner was one of the notable names among the trade candidates heading toward Monday’s 3 PM ET trade deadline. A speedy forward with a good scoring touch who can play either wing and kill penalties, Grabner was also one of the more affordable rental players on the market, carrying a $1.6-million salary-cap hit. With the Devils jockeying for playoff position,Grabner should provide a much-needed boost to their forward lines.

Speaking of the Rangers, they fell 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs were playing without goaltender Carey Price, who’s sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion in Tuesday’s loss to Philadelphia. They also announced defenseman Shea Weber, sidelined since Dec. 16 with a foot injury, will undergo season-ending surgery. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: RIP Montreal Canadiens’ 2017-18 season. You started ugly, finished poorly and won’t be missed by Habs fans. 

A late third-period goal by Vincent Trocheck gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Before the game, Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo delivered an emotional speech honoring the victims of last week’s Stoneman Douglas school shooting. Luongo lives in Parkland, where the school is located, and expressed his support for the school’s survivors, many of whom are advocating for tougher gun laws. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne collected his 300th career NHL victory as he made 33 saves to help his club crush the San Jose Sharks 7-1. 

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied his league-leading 80th point as his club edged the Ottawa Senators 4-3. 

Johnny Gaudreau’s three-point performance (one goal, two assists) led the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, snapping the Flames three-game losing skid and the Coyotes four-game win streak. 

Goaltender Petr Mrazek picked up his first win with the Philadelphia Flyers, backstopping them to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored one goal and set up the other.

Kari Lehtonen had an 18-save shutout performance as the Dallas Stars blanked the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. 

The Edmonton Oilers nipped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on an overtime goal by Connor McDavid. 

Marco Scandella’s overtime goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. 

BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins traded winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a third-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. They also announced forward Anders Bjork underwent successful shoulder surgery on Wednesday and is expected to require six months of recovery. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatrano was once considered a promising scoring forward but he was surpassed on the Bruins depth chart by youngsters Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. With the Panthers trying to reach the playoffs, Vatrano could provide some depth to their forward line. This move should also give him an opportunity to get his NHL career back on track. 

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (knee)  on injured reserve