NHL Awards: Draisaitl Captures Hart In Predictable Fashion
The Lightning beat the Stars to tie the Stanley Cup Final at a game apiece, the latest NHL Award winners are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three first-period goals and held on to edge the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, tying the series at a game apiece. Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk tallied for the Lightning, while Joe Pavelski and Mattias Janmark replied for the Stars. Game 3 is Wednesday at 8 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were sloppy and undisciplined in the first period, giving up two power-play goals and getting outshot 14-6. They rallied back with a better effort over the next two periods to make it interesting, but the Lightning got solid goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy for the win. The Stars also lost Blake Comeau to injury in the second period. An update on his condition could be released today.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the 2020 Hart Memorial Trophy and the 2020 Ted Lindsay Award. Draisaitl was also this season’s winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi took home the 2020 James Norris Memorial Trophy. He’s the first Predators blueliner to win the Norris.
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is the winner of the 2020 Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. He’s the first Avs player to win that honor since teammate Nathan MacKinnon in 2013-14.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.
The NHL also revealed its 2019-20 First and Second All-Star Teams.
2019-20 NHL First All-Star Team
G: Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
D: John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D: Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
C: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
RW: David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
LW: Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
2019-20 NHL Second All-Star Team
G: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
D: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
D: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
C: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
RW: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
LW: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
The 2019-20 All-Rookie Team was also revealed:
G: Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ
D: Quinn Hughes, VAN
D: Cale Makar, COL
F: Dominik Kubalik, CHI
F: Victor Olofsson, BUF
F: Nick Suzuki, MTL
CBC SPORTS: Former NHL right wing Bob Nevin passed away at age 82. In 1,182 career games, Nevin scored 307 goals and 726 points from 1958-59 through 1975-76 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and Los Angeles Kings. He won two Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1962 and 1963, and served as captain of the Rangers from 1965 to 1971.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nevin’s family, friends and former teammates.
NHL statement on COVID-19 testing results: pic.twitter.com/9MB2VdwmBO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 21, 2020
The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.
NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.
TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Langlois’ family, friends and former teammates.
NHL RUMOR MILL
TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.
We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.
PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.
Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.
Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.
Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.
The Stars defeat the Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, plus highlights from Commissioner Bettman’s state-of-the-league press conference in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin made 35 save (including 22 in the third period) as the Dallas Stars defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Jamie Oleksiak scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period. Joel Hanley, Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickinson also tallied for the Stars, while Yanni Gourde had the lone Lightning goal. Game 2 is Monday at 8 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars benefited from five days off between series compared to just two for the Lightning. It was obvious through the first two periods as the Stars controlled much of the play.
The Bolts dominated the third period but Khudobin was the difference. All of Dallas’ defensemen except for Andrej Sekera picked up a point in this game, with Oleksiak and Hanley scoring two of the Stars’ four goals.
The fate of the 2021-22 season was the dominant theme in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual state-of-the-league press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
While the league targeted Dec. 1 as a possible start date, Bettman indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if that date moved to late December or January. No firm timetable has been established.
The league is still planning to stage a full 82-games schedule and four-round best-of-seven playoff format. “How and when we do that is something that we don’t all have enough information to make any decisions, and anything would be just sheer speculation,” said Bettman.
Bettman also said it was conceivable next season begins without fans in the arenas but transitions to some fans in the buildings as the season progresses. However, he added that was speculation at this point. Bettman noted fan attendance accounts for 50 percent of league revenues. He remains confident all 31 teams will weather the financial stress.
The commissioner said he’d prefer to stay out of staging games next summer if at all possible. “Our fans typically like watching us through the fall, winter, and into the spring, and it’s always been a goal to be done by the end of June,” he said.
Bettman indicates the league is considering all possibilities for staging next season. He said it’s premature to draw conclusions because so much depends upon government and travel restrictions between Canada and the United States.
If the 2021 Winter Classic in Minneapolis on Jan. 1 has to be postponed, the league will will make “suitable, appropriate arrangement” to make it up to Minnesota Wild fans.
This year’s expanded playoff format of 24 teams will not be continued.
Bettman said the Seattle Kraken’s entry into the league in 2021-22 won’t be delayed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL intends on a full 82-game schedule and its usual playoff format next season, I don’t see how the league can avoid staging at least part of the playoffs next summer if the season begins sometime in January. Even an early December start would be pushing it. The only way of avoiding that is shortening the season, but the league’s broadcasting contracts could contain penalties for playing fewer games than scheduled.
Lots of options are likely on the table for how the league returns next season. There could be a lot of regional games to reduce long-distance travel in the United States, or the Canadian teams could play against themselves until such time as restrictions ease at the US-Canadian border.
It’s very important to league revenue to get fans back in the arenas in the safest way possible. As Bettman suggested, it could be a gradual transition where a limited number of fans are allowed in but are seated to ensure they are socially distanced.
I believe the league will attempt to restage the Winter Classic in Minneapolis for 2022 if they have to postpone this season’s, provide that location hasn’t already been determined.
Bettman isn’t going to acknowledge if any of the league’s 31 franchises are struggling during this pandemic. Hopefully, they can all make it through. The longer this pandemic drags on and affects league revenue, the more concern will grow.
Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.
Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.
Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.
While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.
TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.
Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:
The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.
The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.
The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.
No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.
The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.
The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.
Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.
Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.
TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.
There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.