Latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson plus the latest on the Capitals, Golden Knights, Penguins, Hurricanes and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET/ARIZONA SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is off the trade market. After weeks of speculation over his future, Ekman-Larsson and the Coyotes are nearing agreement on an eight-year contract extension. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July 2019, meaning he cannot officially sign his new deal until July 1, 2018. The new contract would go into effect for 2019-20.
The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly closing in on a contract extension for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been speculated Ekman-Larsson’s new deal could be worth around $8.25-million per season. That could be used as a comparable by Washington Capitals blueline John Carlson, who’s due to become a UFA on July 1.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights will host a celebration for their fans in downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday evening.
BSN DENVER: The Colorado Avalanche are interested in re-signing pending UFA goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Sources say there’s been recent contract discussions between the two sides.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he’s not buying out any of his players. There was speculation little-used defenseman Matt Hunwick might be a buyout candidate, but the savings ($708,333 per season for the next four seasons) would be meager.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks prospect defenseman Olli Juolevi will undergo back surgery and is expected to require four-to-six weeks of recovery. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in September.
Bruins, Sharks, Predators and Lightning take 2-0 leads in their respective series. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak had a six-point performance (three goals, three assists) as his club demolished the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 in Game 2 of their opening-round series, which moves to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday. Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand each collected four assists. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen was pulled after giving up four goals in the first period. Toronto forward Leo Komarov left the game with a lower-body injury.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak’s six-point performance powered his club to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 2 of their first-round series (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After two humiliating defeats, the Leafs are in trouble as they limp back to Toronto to lick their wounds. Apart from a couple of brief stretches in Game 1, the Bruins have dominated this series. Andersen hasn’t been sharp but it’s unfair to lay the blame for these debacles solely at his feet. As a team, the Leafs have been horrible. If they don’t find a way to turn things around, they’ll be hitting the golf course by the end of the week.
Logan Couture scored a goal and set up another as the San Jose Sharks edged the Anaheim Ducks to take a 2-0 lead in their opening round series. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones kicked out 28 shots for the win. Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm also had a goal and an assist. The series head to San Jose for Game 3 on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After being shut out in Game 1, this was a better effort for the Ducks. Though they came up short, it could give them some confidence heading into Game 3.
The Nashville Predators held on for a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs didn’t go down without a fight, battling back from three two-goal deficits. Kevin Fiala, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm each had two points for the Predators, as did Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog for the Avs. Colorado defenseman Sam Girard missed the game with a lower-body injury. The series shifts to Colorado for Game 3 on Monday with the Preds leading two games to none.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give the plucky Avalanche credit for not quitting in this game, but once again the Predators offensive depth was the difference.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 41 saves and Alex Killorn scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-3 to take a 2-0 lead in their opening-round series as it moves to New Jersey for Game 3 on Monday. Nico Hischier scored his first NHL playoff goal for the Devils, who pulled goalie Keith Kinkaid in the second period in favor of Cory Schneider after Kinkaid gave up five goals on 15 shots. Lightning winger Ryan Callahan and defensemen Dan Girardi left the game with injuries, leaving their status questionable for Game 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if the Devils return with Kinkaid in Game 3 or give Schneider the start in that contest.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals will go with Philipp Grubauer as their starting goaltender for Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price punches New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri.
Game recaps, injury updates, Board of Governors news & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: Torrey Mitchell scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens downed the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price lost his temper with New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri for crashing into him, throwing several punches with his blocker at Palmieri.
The Habs also got defenseman Nathan Beaulieu back from injury, but announced blueliner Greg Pateryn will miss eight weeks with a broken ankle. Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty also revealed he played most of November with a broken foot, but it’s fully healed now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price was fortunate he wasn’t tossed from the game for his uncharacteristic loss of temper. The Habs injury woes continue, as Pateryn joins Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais (knee injuries) on the sidelines. A broken foot explains Pacioretty’s offensive struggles last month.
Claude Giroux scored twice and added an assist while Michael Raffl scored the winner late in the third period to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, giving their Flyers their seventh straight win.
Following the game, Oilers captain Connor McDavid claims Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning told him he deliberately tripped him in a game last season that resulted in McDavid being sidelined for nearly half the season with a broken clavicle. Manning denied this, maintaining that it was an accident.
Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 18th goal and collected an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Jamie Benn scored his 200th career NHL goal and added two assists as the Dallas Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-2.
Jayson Megna and Jack Skille each scored twice while Ryan Miller made 38 saves to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
David Pastrnak’s two goals weren’t enough to prevent the Boston Bruins from falling 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs hoped to have captain Gabriel Landeskog (lower-body injury) back in action but he was sidelined by illness.
Dougie Hamilton’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to their fifth straight win by edging the Arizona Coyotes 2-1.
Anders Lee scored twice as the New York Islanders nipped the St. Louis Blues 3-2.
Kevin Hayes’ late power-play goal gave the New York Rangers a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Derek Ryan scores twice as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-1.
OTTAWA SUN: Erik Karlsson set a franchise record for points by a defenseman (411) during the Senators’ 4-2 win on Wednesday over the San Jose Sharks.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (head injury) will miss Friday’s game against the New York Rangers.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (upper-body injury) will miss tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks blueliner David Schlemko remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
USA TODAY: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there was “strong negative sentiment” among the league board of governors toward participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. No vote was taken on the matter, but it appears likely the league won’t be sending players to the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The International Olympic Committee’s unwillingness to pick up the transportation and insurance costs of the players plus the risk of injuries are among the reasons behind the BoG disenchantment.
YAHOO SPORTS: Bettman also revealed the NHL salary cap for 2017-18 could rise by $2 million over the current cap of $73 million, but was vague in his overall comments on the matter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s merely a projection by Bettman. As we’ve seen in recent years, those predicted numbers usually don’t match the actual amount. It could go up by $2 million but I wouldn’t be surprised if it only goes up by half that amount.