2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists
Hart Trophy Finalists revealed, plus the latest on Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Toews, Carter Hart, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are this season’s finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded by the Professional Hockey Writers Association to the player adjudged most valuable to his team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three are also the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award honoring the most valuable player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.
LATEST NOTABLE PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NEWS
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has a small fracture in one of the fingers on his left hand but he doesn’t believe that will impede his play. He said the injury happened several weeks ago and it’s feeling much better.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nevertheless, you can bet opposing players will test that hand by firing more shots to his glove hand wherever possible.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews left practice early on Monday and was out for Tuesday’s scrimmages. Coach Jeremy Colliton said Toews was “unfit to participate”, citing league protocols.
Meanwhile, Corey Crawford’s chances of returning to the ice before the Blackhawks head to Edmonton on Sunday appear to be dwindling. Teams are allowed to bring 31 players to the upcoming playoff tournament. The club isn’t ruling out saving a roster spot for Crawford.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford hasn’t participated in Phase 3 training, sparking speculation he’s nursing an injury. Without their starting goaltender, the Blackhawks could face long odds of upsetting the favored Edmonton Oilers in their qualifying round tournament.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers goaltender Carter Hart left the ice during the first period of a three-period scrimmage yesterday and didn’t return. Because of league injury protocols, the Flyers provided no details for Hart’s departure. Local broadcaster Colby Cohen said he was told Hart experienced minor back spasms and could return in a day or two.
CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman returned to the ice Tuesday after missing a pair of practices to a leg injury suffered when he blocked a shot on Friday.
TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester won’t be traveling with the club to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been sidelined since suffering a cardiac incident on Feb. 11 during a game with the Anaheim Ducks.
Speaking of the Blues, STLTODAY.COM reports Ivan Barbashev will miss one or two round-robin games and the start of the opening round of the playoffs to attend the birth of his child. He’ll have to test negative for COVID-19 four times in four days before he can rejoin his teammates in Edmonton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin will also be departing the quarantine bubble in Toronto to be with their wives when they give birth. They’ll have to go through the same testing before rejoining the Capitals.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports every player traveling to the bubble cities in Edmonton and Toronto for the upcoming playoff tournament must have three negative COVID-19 tests within a 48-hour period.
Ted Lindsay Award nominees announced, exhibition and Stanley Cup qualifying round schedules revealed, plus the latest on Johnny Gaudreau, Shea Weber, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHLPA.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the 2020 finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All are worthy finalists. They could also be in the running for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The finalists for that award will be announced on July 21.
NHL.COM: The league released its schedule of exhibition games and the Stanley Cup qualifiers schedule for Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. All Western Conference games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton and all Eastern Conference games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
SPORTSNET: Johnny Gaudreau’s separation from his linemates and the main group during the opening two days of the Calgary Flames’ training camp is raising eyebrows. Flames coach Geoff Ward claimed the move was due to “circumstances that became apparent last week.” He declined to elaborate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-line winger continues to participate in the Flames’ practices with a smaller group, and Ward suggested he could be reunited with his linemates at some point. The NHL’s tight controls over the players’ medical status could cause imaginations to run wild over Gaudreau’s situation. If he were suffering COVID-19 symptoms, he wouldn’t be at practice. Perhaps he’s nursing a recent injury.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber was “unable to practice” yesterday but took to the ice afterward with assistant coach Luke Richardson for some individual work. Canadiens coach Claude Julien anticipates Weber will return to practice on Wednesday.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois missed practice yesterday with what is believed to be a minor issue. Because of the league’s return-to-play rules, the team didn’t provide details.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko returned to the ice yesterday with his teammates after missing the first day of training camp. Teammate Robert Bortuzzo remained absent. Both are believed to have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Blues coach Craig Berube expects Bortuzzo will return soon.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forwards Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin intend to leave the protective bubble during the playoffs to be with their expectant wives. Eller’s wife is due to give birth on Aug. 8 while Hagelin’s spouse is due in September. Both players must isolate and test negative for four consecutive days before returning to the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players are allowed to leave and return to the host cities for family reasons.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice yesterday for a family emergency. Teammate Corey Crawford remains “unfit to play” for the second straight day.
WGR550.COM: Buffalo Sabres winger Michael Frolik has reportedly received a contract offer from KHL team Avangard Omsk. The 32-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed winger Troy Terry to a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension. Terry, 22, is completing his entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terry is among several promising youngsters the Ducks hope to rebuild around over the next several years. He’s tallied eight goals and 28 points in 81 games over the past three seasons.
NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks signed prospect defenseman Jack Rathbone to an entry-level contract.
SPORTSLOGO.NET: cites The Athletic reporting the Ottawa Senators will be switching to a slightly modified version of the 2d Senator Head logo they wore from 1997 to 2007.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel grows weary of constant losing, four regular-season awards are handed out, the latest updates on the league’s return-to-play format, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
EICHEL AND RISTOLAINEN TIRED OF LOSING IN BUFFALO.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are growing weary of missing the playoffs. Eichel, a five-year NHL veteran who has yet to make a post-season appearance, said he’s “fed up with the losing”. Ristolainen, a seven-year veteran, said he’s never been part of a winning culture in Buffalo. Both players, however, praised first-year coach Ralph Krueger and his staff for the improvements the club made this season despite missing the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have been mismanaged for years, and it’s taking a toll on Eichel and Ristolainen. While I don’t believe Eichel will demand a trade in this off-season, his patience probably isn’t limitless. He could decide his NHL future lies elsewhere if the Sabres fail to improve over the next couple of seasons.
Ristolainen, on the other hand, could be playing elsewhere whenever next season begins. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.
FOUR NHL AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED.
NHL.COM: With the regular season over, the NHL released a list of four award winners. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s points leader (110). Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak share the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the leading goalscorers (48 each).
Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak share the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (174), while the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for the best overall record with 44 wins.
UPDATES ON NHL’S RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL told the NHL Players’ Association that Phase 3 of its return-to-play plan, which includes training camps, won’t begin before July 10. The league hopes to begin Phase 2, which includes small group workouts at team facilities, as early as next week.
TSN: Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top health official, said proposals are being reviewed from sports leagues (including the NHL) to resume play, but the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place for now. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among 10 cities on the NHL’s shortlist of two host locations for its 24-team playoff tournament. Many NHL players are still in Europe and the United States.
Pierre LeBrun reports Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning suggested holding training camps in the United States because of Canada’s current border guidelines. Many players, such as Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and goalie Frederik Andersen, are working out in the US and won’t be in a big hurry to return to Canada and undergo a 14-day quarantine before they can resume training.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The United States deemed professional athletes and their training staff as essential workers, making it easier for players in Canada and Europe to travel into that country for training camps.
Darren Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA are negotiating to push the June 1 deadline for signing entry-level players to July 1. There’s also a debate between the league and the PA over allowing players recently signed to entry-level contracts (such as Montreal’s Alexander Romanov) to take part in the playoff tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To no one’s surprise, the league is against it while the PA is for it.
Bob McKenzie reports Alexis Lafreniere, considered to be the top prospect in this year’s NHL draft, is considering all his options for next season. That could include perhaps playing in Europe if the NHL, AHL, or CHL 2020-21 seasons haven’t begun by this fall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If he does play in Europe this fall you can bet his contract will contain an out-clause enabling him to return to the NHL whenever the puck drops on the ’20-’21 season.
LeBrun reports the seven teams not eligible to participate in the 24-team playoff format can begin making trades with each other. He points out non-playoff clubs usually wait until closer to the draft to begin dealing, but if there’s a fit among those seven teams for whatever reason, they can go ahead.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on this later today in the Rumor section.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie winger Kaapo Kakko might not be able to participate in the playoff tournament. Kakko is a type-1 diabetic and has a higher-than-normal risk of contracting COVID-19. Rangers president John Davidson said they’ll listen to their medical people to determine if Kakko will be able to play.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported collective bargaining talks between the league and the PA are expected to ramp up enough for the latter to form a negotiating committee. Ryan Miller and Ron Hainsey remain active from the 2012-13 version.
Costs for COVID-19 testing during the playoff tournament could cost as much as $3 million.
Friedman thinks there’s a decent chance the tournament could be re-seeded following the qualifying round instead of going to a bracket format.
The New Jersey Devils are believed to be considering at least four candidates for their head coaching job. Current interim coach Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and John Stevens, are believed to be in the running.
The Chicago Blackhawks could be making some cuts to the professional scouting department.
TSN: Player agent Mike Liut is advising any player who’ll listen to review their disability insurance before they return to the ice.
IN OTHER NEWS…
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights announced their new AHL affiliate will be named the Henderson Silver Knights.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect center Josh Norris, 20, was selected as the AHL’s rookie of the year for 2019-20.
The NHL extends its self-isolation period, results of the NHLPA poll revealed and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The NHL extended its self-isolation period for players and staff to April 15 because of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situations.
Darren Dreger believes the league won’t be to return to NHL facilities until local authorities in each market lift the ban on social gatherings. Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun reports playing a 16-team playoff in four centralized, less-affected locations without fans is among the options under consideration by the league.
SPORTSNET: The city of Toronto yesterday announced a ban on city-led events until June 30. However, it subsequently stated that didn’t prohibit sporting events at private facilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That provides a glimmer of hope for those hoping the NHL returns to action sometime in June. However, that’s going to depend on how long this pandemic lasts. If there’s been little or no change, don’t expect a resumption of pro sports in June.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports over $450 million in signing bonus money was to be paid out to players on July 1, which is the traditional start of a new season. That date could be changed to September 1, deferring the bonus money payout. The Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Dallas Stars lead the league in signing bonuses.
Pierre LeBrun suggests the current adversity facing the NHL and NHLPA could have a silver lining if it brings about an improvement in talks toward a new collective bargaining agreement.
LeBrun went into greater detail in his column in The Athletic, pointing out business will suffer for a few years following this pandemic. He believes the league and the PA cannot afford a CBA work stoppage in 2022. He feels the eventual discussions between the two sides over how to transition through the coronavirus pause could lead to long-term CBA stability.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks the two sides will have “transition rules” negotiations on everything from the salary cap to escrow to critical dates like the start of free agency. Out of those could come the framework for working out a new CBA before its expiration in September 2022. As he points out, the league needs stability coming out of this pandemic. Another labor war between the two sides could set the league back for years.
CBA negotiations were already showing progress and a lack of rancor, with the two sides’ mutual agreement not to re-open the CBA last fall as a prime example. If the league and the PA can successfully transition out of this current situation, they should be able to avoid another labor dispute.
LeBrun also reported Seattle is interested in hosting the 2021 NHL Draft in conjunction with the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think that’s a great idea. Montreal was supposed to host this year’s draft, but they stage the 2022 draft.
NHLPA: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid was voted the best forward in the NHLPA Player Poll, with Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman the best defenseman and Montreal’s Carey Price the best goaltender. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was voted the most complete player and the player they’d want on their team in a must-win game. Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand was named the best and worst trash talker.
THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said teammate Jay Bouwmeester is feeling better and remains in St. Louis during the league’s hiatus. Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode during a Feb. 11 game against the Anaheim Ducks.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers star Leon Draisaitl said his family in Germany is doing well during this pandemic. His home country is the fifth hardest-hit, with 64,000 cases and 560 deaths. “It’s obviously concerning,” said Draisaitl. “My family is doing what they’re supposed to, they’re staying in. So far everyone is healthy. I hope that it stays that way back home. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said he hasn’t started contract talks yet with his free agents. The notables include Brian Elliott, Justin Braun, Derek Grant, Oskar Lindblom, and Nolan Patrick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have over $69 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. Fletcher could be waiting to find out what next season’s cap numbers will be before opening contract discussions.
SPORTSNET: Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen and GM John Chayka are donating 20 percent of their salaries to COVID-19 relief efforts.
NJ.COM: Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer made a six-figure coronavirus donation to RWJBarnabas Health’s Emergency Response Fund to aid the health care company’s response to COVID-19. The Devils also donated “7,000 pairs of gloves, 10,000 hand sanitizer units and an assortment of sanitizing wipes and sprays, to RJWBarnabas.” The team also announced it would extend its support of part-time employees to May 15.
ESPN.COM: San Jose Sharks president Jonathan Becher defended the club’s decision to play three home games in early March following a recommendation by Santa Clara county against large gatherings. He claimed the club made Tthe best decision we could with the information we had at the time.”