NHL Most Important Players – Los Angeles Kings
Game recaps, Lightning win their 59th game, Predators clinch a playoff berth, stars of the week, Capitals visit the White House, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning became the fourth team in NHL history to win 59 games in a season by erasing a 4-2 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4. Steven Stamkos scored two goals and Anthony Cirelli netted the game-winner with 53 seconds remaining in regulation. Earlier in the day, the Lightning revealed defenseman Dan Girardi (lower-body injury) is sidelined indefinitely.
A four-goal performance by John Tavares powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-5 victory over the Florida Panthers. With 45 goals, Tavares sits second among the league leaders. Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman each had three points for the Leafs while Jonathan Huberdeau and Jayce Hawryluk each scored twice for the Panthers. The Leafs (96 points) are five behind the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division.
Zach Sanford had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1, preventing the latter from clinching a postseason spot. With 90 points, the Blues sit two points behind the Nashville Predators for second in the Central Division.
The Nashville Predators secured a playoff spot by blanking the Minnesota Wild 1-0. Juuse Saros made 29 saves for the shutout and Ryan Johansen tallied the only goal. With 92 points, the Predators sit two behind the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets. The Wild (79 points) remain two back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Speaking of the Jets, they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa each scored twice for the Stars (84 points), who opened a three-point lead over the Avalanche for the first Western wild-card berth.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (95 points) moved to within a point of first place in the Metropolitan Division by defeating the New York Rangers 5-2. Teddy Blueger tallied twice as the Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit. Phil Kessel also collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Jesper Fast (shoulder injury) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Jack Campbell had a 42-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings upset the Calgary Flames 3-0. The Kings played without winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who remained back in Los Angeles to work with the club’s development and skills staff. GM Rob Blake said the decision was not based on Kovalchuk’s comments last week complaining about his declining ice time under coach Willie Desjardins.
Earlier in the day, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty created a pre-game stir by saying he has no respect for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, who clashed with Doughty in previous contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk was going to be a healthy scratch during the Kings’ three-game road trip so apparently it was a mutual decision (based on his suggestion) to remain in Los Angeles. I’ll have more on Kovalchuk and the Kings later this morning in the Rumors section.
The San Jose Sharks suffered their sixth straight defeat by falling 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The loss leaves the Sharks six points behind the Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings.
New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 45 shots backstopping his club to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Pavel Zacha had a goal and an assist. The Sabres have dropped 12 consecutive road games.
Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 25, 2019.
The White House and President Trump yesterday welcomed the Washington Capitals to commemorate their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny attended the event on crutches and is considered sidelined long-term with an injured left leg.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz became the fourth coach in league history to reach 1,600 regular-season games during his club’s 2-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
Kings and Doughty agree to a new contract, Jets ship Mason and Armia to Montreal, Capitals re-sign Kempny and promote Reirden to head coach, Devils hire Fletcher & and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings announced Friday evening they’ve reached agreement on terms for a new contract with defenseman Drew Doughty. It will be an eight-year extension reportedly worth an annual average value of $11 million. Doughty, 28, is a four-time Norris Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top blueliner, winning the award in 2016. He has a year remaining on his current contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty can’t officially sign his new contract until July 1, but this is essentially a done deal. Kings insider John Hoven reports it looks like his new contract contains the same movement clause as Anze Kopitar, meaning he’ll get a full no-movement clause in the first four years and a modified no-trade over the final four seasons.
The new contract will make him the NHL’s highest-paid defenseman, exceeding Nashville’s P.K. Subban’s cap hit by $2 million annually, which is what he said he wanted back in November. The Kings had little choice but to pay big bucks to retain Doughty, who’s among the league’s elite defensemen and an irreplaceable core player. The problem for the Kings, however, is they’ll soon have a lot of money tied up in over-30 players.
The Kings now have ~$54M in 2020-21 cap space tied up in:
38 year old Ilya Kovalchuk
36 year old Dustin Brown
36 year old Jeff Carter
36 year old Dion Phaneuf
35 year old Jonathan Quick
33 year old Anze Kopitar
33 year old Alec Martinez
31 year old Drew Doughty
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) June 29, 2018
Doughty’s new contract will obviously become the comparable for Ottawa Senators’ captain Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris winner and four-time finalist who’s a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.. Whether he gets that much from the Senators or someone else remains to be seen.
The Canadiens acquire forward Joel Armia, goaltender Steve Mason, a seventh-round draft pick in 2019 and a fourth-round pick in 2020 from the Winnipeg Jets, in exchange for defenseman Simon Bourque.
DETAILS -> https://t.co/M9SeD9NXPE.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 30, 2018
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Jets are clearing cap room to re-sign Paul Stastny. As for the Habs, Armia’s a decent depth addition but I wonder if the acquisition of Mason means he’s being flipped elsewhere or perhaps he’ll be Carey Price’s backup and recently re-signed Antti Niemi is being dealt or demoted.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: As expected, the Washington Capitals promoted assistant coach Todd Reirden.
WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals also re-signed defenseman Michal Kempny to a four-year, $10-million contract. The annual average value is $2.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant raise for Kempny, who’s coming off a one-year, $900K contract. Acquired in February from Chicago, Kempny became a big addition to the Capitals defense corps, eventually earning first-pairing minutes during their run to the Stanley Cup this spring. Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals now have over $69 million invested in 18 players.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils hired former Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher as a senior adviser to GM Ray Shero.
Latest on Drew Doughty, Max Pacioretty and John Carlson, plus updates on the Carolina Hurricanes and Vancouver Canucks in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
UPDATES ON DOUGHTY, CARLSON AND PACIORETTY
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports contract-extension talks are going well between the Los Angeles Kings and defenseman Drew Doughty are going well. Doughty is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July but the Kings can re-sign him to an extension on July 1 of this year at the earliest. There’s nothing preventing the Kings from gauging what he’d be seeking on his next deal. Kypreos believes Doughty won’t get much more than $10.5 million or maybe $11 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last fall, Doughty suggested he’d prefer earning more than Nashville Predators blueliner P.K.Subban ($9 million annually) on his next contract. He’s also expressed his desire to remain in Los Angeles. If the Kings are offering around $10.5 million per season, that should get it done.
Kypreos noted the Vegas Golden Knights had interest in Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson leading up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline, but he wonders if they might pursue Washington’s John Carlson for a fraction of the cost. Karlson is slated to become a UFA next summer, while Carlson is eligible this July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carlson hopes to re-sign with the Capitals and they want to retain him. Still, if he hits the open market this summer, I think Golden Knights general manager George McPhee (who drafted Carlson when he was GM of the Capitals) will pursue him. Provided, of course, he hasn’t already landed a big fish such as Karlsson before July 1.
With winger Evander Kane off the market, Elliotte Friedman reports some teams looking to the free-agent market for a scoring winger have inquired about Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty. The 29-year-old Canadiens captain is due next summer for UFA status. Friedman thinks those teams are wondering what he’d want for a contract extension and speculated over the possibility of a “sign-and-trade” scenario.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was recently reported the Canadiens have had preliminary contract talks with the Pacioretty camp. Friedman’s report will add a little more intrigue to this story. If teams are interested in the Canadiens winger, it’s understandable that they’ll want assurances they can get him under contract before his UFA eligibility next summer.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES AND CANUCKS
NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman recently reported Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell believes his roster needs some changes after missing the playoffs for the past nine years. While he doesn’t intend to engage in a fire sale, he feels there are some players who’ve been with the Hurricanes for a long time that could need a fresh start. He believes his goaltending needs improvement, adding it’s up to Scott Darling to prove himself as their starter. He also didn’t rule out bringing back pending free-agent netminder Cam Ward.
Waddell also admitted he’s received some offers for his first-round pick (second overall) but he’s telling teams he’s keeping that selection. “If you want to present something to me, it’s my role as general manager to listen to what you have to say. If someone wants to put a package together that we can’t say no to, assets for the organization and where we’re headed, we would look at it, but it’s going to be very difficult for somebody to get that pick from us.”
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma recently noted there are trade rumors linking the Canucks to Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin. He said the asking price would be steep. “The Hurricanes aren’t looking for picks or a mid-range prospect. They have those. They would want the No. 7 selection and a prime, young, roster player to make a deal happen.”
Kuzma is also skeptical over the notion of the Hurricanes trading the 21-year-old Hanifin when he’s coming off a career year, pointing out defensemen usually don’t reach their prime until they’re 26 or 27. Adding another left-shot defenseman would also muddle things for the Canucks, who already have plenty of lefties on the blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma also believes young Canucks such as “Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Adam Gaudette, Jonathan Dahlen and Thatcher Demko are untouchables.” I think the Hurricanes would want one of those players, along with the seventh overall pick, as part of the return for Hanifin. That’s likely far more than the Canucks would be willing to pay.
Reviewing Sportsnet’s list of this summer’s potential trade candidates in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SUBBAN, KARLSSON, DOUGHTY AMONG THIS SUMMER’S POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen previews this summer’s potential trade candidates.
Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban’s name recently surfaced in the trade-rumor mill but the speculation was shot down by management. Boylen considers trading Subban a long-shot, though with the Predators’ depth on defense, he wonders if moving him could someday become a possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban’s not going anywhere this summer or in the foreseeable future. He’s a Norris Trophy finalist this season and a key part of their roster.
Despite the Ottawa Senators’ intention to re-sign defenseman Erik Karlsson and the blueliner’s desire to stay, it’s believed he could be traded this summer if the two sides fail to agree on a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen noted Karlsson was linked to the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Maybe those clubs revisit their interest in him. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a Karlsson trade, but the high cost of acquiring him this summer could scare off potential suitors.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty raised eyebrows last autumn suggesting he won’t take a hometown discount on his next contract and his wish to play for a Stanley Cup contender. In April, however, Doughty insisted he wants to remain a King.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Karlsson, Doughty’s a year away from UFA eligibility. I expect the Kings will do what they can to re-sign him this summer. Right now, I’d say there’s a low possibility of Doughty getting dealt this summer.
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom’s struggles this season has sparked trade speculation. However, Boylen suggests he could be poised for a bounce-back season. “If anything, the Oilers could be selling low on a young, controllable asset, depending on the return.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. If the Oilers trade Klefbom this summer they could end up regretting it, especially if they don’t get a solid return for him.
Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner and defenseman Justin Faulk have frequently surfaced of late in the rumor mill. With the Hurricanes under new management, there’s an expectation changes are coming to their roster. Boylen warns they should be wary of selling low on those two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes must bolster their offense, so trading Skinner wouldn’t make sense right now. If they’re looking for more scoring punch they could draw upon their blueline depth. I think Faulk appears the most likely to move.
Center Ryan O’Reilly’s season-ending comments about the Buffalo Sabres’ losing culture gave rise to suggestions he could be dealt this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are a mess right now. Their rebuild has stalled and the fans are restless. There’s a big market for skilled centers and I expect the Sabres will at least listen to offers for O’Reilly this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s traded next month.
Boylen noted Montreal Canadiens winger Alex Galchenyuk’s been the target of trade rumors for the past two years. The Canadiens need more offense, but Boylen feels there’s a risk trading Galchenyuk would be shipping out a player they actually need. Team captain Max Pacioretty also popped up in the rumor mill this season. He’s a year away from UFA status but indicated he doesn’t want to leave Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After this season’s disastrous performance the Canadiens are likely to shake things up a bit this summer. I think they will trade one of those guys but not both. There seems to be a growing consensus that Pacioretty, who lacks no-trade protection, could be on the move.
Boylen wonders if the Toronto Maple Leafs might consider trading puck-moving defenseman Jake Gardiner for a more defensively responsible blueliner. Moving him, however, could create another depth need. Gardiner will also be a UFA next summer at a time when expensive new contracts for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will kick in.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After his struggles against the Boston Bruins in this year’s playoffs, a lot of Leafs fans probably wouldn’t shed tears if Gardiner was traded. The Leafs, however, could prefer finding a way to bolster their defense depth without parting with him.
The Pittsburgh Penguins could move a winger, such as Conor Sheary or Carl Hagelin, to bolster their blueline depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sheary or Hagelin could be dealt for a defenseman, or maybe one of them is moved for a pick or prospect to free up cap space to add a blueliner via a separate trade or free agency.
If John Tavares decides to test the free-agent market, perhaps the New York Islanders will shop his rights before July 1 to recoup a draft pick or prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Isles realize they can’t re-sign Tavares I believe they will shop his rights to the highest bidder.
Boylen wonders if the Washington Capitals might consider moving winger Andre Burakovsky to upgrade the roster. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer and has been hampered by injuries and mental frustration this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out that possibility, but I think they’ll stick with Burakovsky in hopes he’ll have his much-anticipated breakthrough next season.
With the Minnesota Wild’s recent management changes, forwards Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle and defensemen Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba have been suggested as possible trade candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Niederreiter and Coyle were hampered by injuries this season, but some observers feel they should’ve been better. Brodin and Dumba have frequently appeared in trade conjecture over the last two years. New GM Paul Fenton could shake things up a bit. I believe he’ll retain Dumba but one of the other three could be on the move this summer.
The Calgary Flames need another scoring forward. Boylen wonders if they might consider moving a defenseman such as Dougie Hamilton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Hamilton hits the trade block I don’t doubt he’ll generate lots of interest. However, every time his name pops up as a trade candidate the notion is almost immediately dismissed by most observers. Hamilton would likely be their best trade bait to land a scoring forward, but I think they’re reluctant to part with him.
In the wake of the Anaheim Ducks first-round playoff elimination and management’s desire to build a faster team, there was speculation suggesting veteran winger Corey Perry could be shopped. Boylen, however, believes Jakob Silfverberg could be a more realistic trade option. He’s still in his prime (27) and carries a reasonable salary-cap hit of $3.75 million, though he’s also a UFA at the end of next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been proposed that Perry, who’s been declining in recent years, might benefit from a change of scenery playing alongside faster wingers. Unless he waives his no-movement clause and the Ducks absorb half of his $8.6-million cap hit, he’s not going anywhere. Silfverberg, on the other hand, could be a more attractive trade commodity for clubs seeking an experienced two-way winger.
Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi also popped up in trade speculation this season. Boylen suggests he could be a good “buy-low” option if the Coyotes are motivated sellers, but he also noted how well Domi finished the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I don’t rule anything out, I think the Coyotes will stick with Domi. Sure, they could listen to offers, but I think they still envision him as a key part of their future.
As long as the Vancouver Canucks are rebuilding, veterans such as Chris Tanev and Alexander Edler will surface in the rumor mill. Edler, however, has a full no-movement clause while Tanev has a modified no-trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks management repeatedly deny any intention of shopping Tanev this summer. If Edler doesn’t want to leave, there’s not much the Canucks can do about it.
Latest on P.K. Subban, Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel, Ilya Kovalchuk, Ryan O’Reilly and Colin Miller in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SUBBAN, HAMILTON AND KESSEL
FRS NETWORK HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s appearance Friday on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 where he was asked by co-host Rhett Warrener if the Nashville Predators might contemplate moving P.K. Subban. Warrener believes Subban wears out his welcome and gets under people’s skins in the dressing room but feels his value is huge in the trade market because of his talent. While Friedman said he didn’t know if the Predators would go that route, he felt there would have to be a good reason to make that move.
Friedman was also asked about the possibility of the Calgary Flames trading defenseman Dougie Hamilton for a winger such as Toronto’s Mitch Marner. He doesn’t believe the Leafs will make that move. He doubts the Flames would trade Hamilton. As with Subban, if they were to go that route, it would have to be for a very good reason.
Citing the apparent tension between Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and winger Phil Kessel, Friedman didn’t rule out the possibility of Penguins GM Jim Rutherford “swinging for the fences” by shopping Kessel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe Subban, Hamilton or Kessel are being traded this summer. Then again, I dismissed the notion of those three being dealt before, so it’s always possible. Still, I don’t think there’s any problem between Subban and his Predators teammates. The Flames appear reluctant to part with Hamilton and the Penguins are likely to retain Kessel for another run at the Cup next season.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “31 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman guesses Penguins GM Jim Rutherford “is the kind of guy I could see staying up at night figuring out” how to land New York Islanders center John Tavares.
“Sounds like Edmonton checked in on Ilya Kovalchuk. Not a bad idea, actually. But it won’t happen.”
Friedman also said it appears the number of teams contacting the Carolina Hurricanes about winger Jeff Skinner is growing.
Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake said he met with defenseman Drew Doughty following the season to outline the team’s plan for the next four or five years. “We want him here, and he knows how much,” said Blake. The “heavy lifting” could begin in June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see how the Penguins can land Tavares via trade or free agency. They’ve already got Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as their top-two centers and have over $70 million invested in 17 players for next season.
Edmonton’s 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer said the Oilers never pursued Kovalchuk.
Sounds like Skinner could be the first significant move by new Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, provided the winger is willing to waive his no-movement clause. Cap Friendly indicates Skinner has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.275 million.
Doughty’s eligible for UFA status next summer but the Kings can officially re-sign him this July.
O’REILLY ADDRESSES TRADE RUMORS
FRS NETWORK HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cited TSN’s Darren Dreger recently interviewing Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly, in which at one point they addressed the recent speculation about a possible trade out of Buffalo. O’Reilly believes he has “a pretty good relationship” with Sabres GM Jason Botterill. If a trade happen, it happens, but O’Reilly said he plans on being back with the Sabres next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In an earlier interview with Buffalo’s WGR 550, Dreger also reported he felt if Botterill got a good offer for O’Reilly at the draft that the Sabres GM would consider it. There will be interest in O’Reilly and I don’t doubt some teams have probably already made initial inquiries about his availability. Still, Botterill will want a significant offer after getting a low return for Evander Kane at the trade deadline. If there’s no decent offers, O’Reilly will return with the Sabres for 2018-19.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE VEGAS’ COLIN MILLER?
THE ATHLETIC: Mike Halford recently suggested the Vancouver Canucks should try to pry defenseman Colin Miller away from the Vegas Golden Knights via trade or free agency. He pointed out Miller, 25, had 10 goals and 41 points this season with Vegas, averaging over 19 minutes of ice time per game. He also led all Golden Knights blueliners with five power-play goals and finished second on the team with 12 PP assists. Miller’s a restricted free agent in line for a significant raise over his current $1 million. A potential logjam on defense could perhaps force the Golden Knights to consider moving him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Halford admits this is “pure speculation” but feels it’s something the Canucks should consider to bolster their defense corps. Given Miller’s improvement this season in Vegas, however, I doubt the Golden Knights will seriously consider moving him.
Those offensive numbers cited by Halford are reason enough for the Golden Knights to keep Miller. With over $50 million invested in 19 players, they’ve got enough to re-sign such notables as Miller, fellow RFAs William Karlsson and Shea Theodore and perhaps UFA forwards James Neal and David Perron.