NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2022
Recaps of Friday’s action, the Blackhawks trade Brandon Hagel to the Lightning, the Predators are still talking contract extension with Filip Forsberg, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Valeri Nichushkin each collected three points as the Colorado Avalanche held off the San Jose Sharks 5-3. The Sharks rallied from a 4-0 deficit to cut the lead to one goal before Nichushkin scored his second of the game late in the third period to seal the win. With 93 points, the Avalanche holds a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings.
Speaking of the Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice, Joe Thornton tallied his 430th career goal and Spencer Knight made 17 saves to blank the Anaheim Ducks 3-0, handing the latter their sixth straight loss. The Panthers (90 points) hold a two-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference while the fading Ducks (65 points) are five points behind the Vegas Golden Knight for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Panthers as defenseman Aaron Ekblad left the game with an apparent injury to his right leg. Head coach Andrew Brunette said there was no structural damage and it doesn’t appear Ekblad will be sidelined long-term.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, dropped a 4-3 decision to the Washington Capitals on a shootout goal by Alex Ovechkin, who also scored his 39th of the season in the third period to tie the game. Seth Jarvis scored twice for the Hurricanes while Antti Raanta made 37 saves in a losing cause. With 88 points, the Hurricanes are five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals (80 points) sit one behind the Boston Bruins, who hold the first wild-card spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals saw two players sidelined by injuries as Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk both left the game. It’s unclear how long they will be sidelined.
As for the Bruins, Taylor Hall snapped a 2-2 tie and Charlie McAvoy netted the insurance goal as they doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Bruins forward Charlie Coyle collected three assists while Brad Marchand tallied his 25th goal to tie Rick Middleton for the second-most 25-goal seasons (nine) in franchise history. Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves in a losing cause as the Jets (66 points) are four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
The Buffalo Sabres upset the Calgary Flames 1-0. Dustin Tokarski turned in a 24-save shutout while Tage Thompson netted the winning goal in overtime. The Flames remain on top of the Pacific Division with 82 points.
Third-period goals by Josh Norris and Alex Formenton lifted the Ottawa Senators to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, handing the latter their 12th straight road loss. Norris is the Senators’ leading goal scorer with 25 goals in 45 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators held Nick Paul out of this game after he reportedly rejected a four-year, $10 million contract extension. Barring a last-minute breakthrough, Paul could be on the move before Monday’s trade deadline. It’s believed the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers are interested in the versatile forward.
NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks trade winger Brandon Hagel, a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a fourth-rounder in 2024 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forwards Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, a first-round pick in 2023 and a first-round pick in 2024. Both first-round picks are top-10 protected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I confess I was surprised the Blackhawks moved the 23-year-old Hagel, who’s emerged as a hardworking two-way forward with an affordable $1.5 million cap hit through 2023-24. He seemed the type of player they needed as part of their roster rebuild.
The word among Chicago pundits prior to this trade was Hagel wasn’t going anywhere unless the Blackhawks got a significant offer. They certainly got it from the Lightning. Katchouk and Raddysh are young players who had difficulty cracking the Lightning’s deep forward lines. They’ll get plenty of opportunities to develop in Chicago. Those two first-rounders will help Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson restock his club’s depleted prospect pipeline.
Hagel will be a solid addition to the Lightning as they attempt to become the first team to three-peat as Stanley Cup champions since the New York Islanders in 1982. He’s comparable to forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who helped the Bolts win their last two championships before salary-cap limitations forced their departures last summer.
THE ATHLETIC: Hagel’s trade has left Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews mulling his future. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Toews confessed to being shocked that Hagel got traded, suggesting it left the impression no one on the club was safe from being moved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The futures of Toews and Patrick Kane have become the topic of speculation this season after Stan Bowman stepped down as GM earlier this season. I suspect they’ll start turning up in trade rumors during the offseason.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Meanwhile, the Blackhawks placed Connor Murphy on long-term injury reserve and Tyler Johnson on injured reserve.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Nashville Predators have re-engaged in contract discussions with Filip Forsberg’s agent but progress has been marginal thus far.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Forsberg gets shipped out on Monday with the Predators jockeying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. We’ll see how things unfold.
YAHOO SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer expressed concern over the status of Jack Eichel after the center departed Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers with an upper-body injury (arm) after blocking a shot. They’re awaiting more conclusive results as to his condition.