Maple Leafs Struggles Has Toronto Media Asking Opposition Stars for Stanley Cup Formula
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.