Andrew Ladd announces his retirement plus the latest on Alexander Holtz, Devon Levi, Alexander Edler and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
DAILY FACEOFF: Andrew Ladd took to social media on Sunday to officially announce his retirement after 16 NHL seasons. In 1,001 regular-season games from 2005-06 to 2021-22, the versatile forward scored 256 goals and 294 assists for 550 points with the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes. Ladd also had 18 points in 65 playoff games.
Former NHL winger Andrew Ladd (NHL Images).
Among Ladd’s highlights was winning the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2005-06 and the Blackhawks in 2009-10 as well as serving as captain of the Jets from 2010-11 to 2015-16. His best season came in 2014-15 with 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points in 81 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In his prime, Ladd was a skillful winger who led by example. Knee and lower-body injuries hampered his performance in the final seasons of his career. He bounced between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport from 2018-19 until traded to the Coyotes in July 2021. He missed all of last season with a knee injury.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald sees young forward Alexander Holtz as a future pillar of his club. The 21-year-old winger spent only 19 games with the Devils last season but Fitzgerald still holds the youngster in high regard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtz’s disappointing performance last season saw his name surface in trade rumors. He could resurface as a trade candidate if he continues to struggle to crack the Devils’ lineup.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Goaltender Devon Levi is looking forward to his first full NHL season after making a brief but promising debut late in the 2022-23 campaign. He sported a record of 5-2-0 in seven games with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
“I can’t wait to see the guys again and to go out and compete with them,” said Levi. The 21-year-old netminder is “super excited” about the coming season. “I’m just doing my best to get my game to be the best it can be and keep working on it, keep improving.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Levi’s GAA and SP were inflated when he gave up six goals in a wild 7-6 win over the Detroit Red Wings and four goals in a 6-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. However, he had a save percentage of .929 or better in four other games, giving up just two goals in each of those contests.
THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Jeff Paterson reports Alex Edler still hopes to continue his NHL career. However, the 37-year-old defenseman has yet to receive a contract offer or a professional tryout offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A 17-year NHL veteran, Edler spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous 15 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames recently hired long-time broadcaster Peter Loubardias as a reserve list scout. He’d spent the past 10 seasons as the color analyst for Flames games on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
The Maple Leafs acquire Ryan O’Reilly in a three-team trade, Connor McDavid reaches the 100-point plateau again, Patrick Kane reaches a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
MAPLE LEAFS ACQUIRE RYAN O’REILLY
NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues in a three-team trade involving the Minnesota Wild.
“The Blues received the rights to forward prospectJosh Pillar from the Wild for O’Reilly, then traded him and Acciari to the Maple Leafs for Toronto’s first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Ottawa Senators’ third-round pick this year, Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, and forwards Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette.
Minnesota received Toronto’s fourth-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.”
CAP FRIENDLY: The Blues retained 50 percent of O’Reilly’s $7.5 million cap hit with the Wild and Leafs each taking on 25 percent.
The St. Louis Blues ship Ryan O’Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a three-team trade (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the previous moves made by Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas leading up to the annual trade deadline, this one is the biggest. O’Reilly was among this season’s top trade candidates. The 32-year-old center is a former winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy the Selke Trophy and the Lady Byng Trophy. He is considered among the league’s elite two-way forwards despite the decline in his production this season and a broken foot that sidelined him for nearly six weeks.
I admire the creativity of Dubas and his capologist in finding a way to land a notable player despite carrying limited cap space. It’s the second time he’s gone the three-team trade route, with his previous effort being the 2021 acquisition of Nick Foligno.
Leafs fans will be hoping that the O’Reilly deal has better results than the Foligno trade. So will Dubas, whose future as Leafs GM could be determined by his club’s performance over the remainder of this season and in the playoffs.
O’Reilly should help the Leafs at both ends of the rink. Acciari, meanwhile, is a good bottom-six winger who should help their penalty kill. However, I remain concerned about their blueline and goaltending depth in their quest to get over the postseason hump.
The Blues roster rebuild (retool?) continues just over a week after they shipped Vladimir Taransenko to the New York Rangers. They now have three first-round picks and two third-rounders in this year’s draft as well as two second-round selections and two fourth-rounders in the 2024 draft. The Blues also receive a veteran depth forward in Gaudette for the rest of this season plus a young center in Abramov who might have a future in St. Louis.
Wild GM Bill Guerin used his cap space to buy himself a fourth-round pick. He still has over $12.8 million in projected trade deadline cap room to make other deals before the March 3 deadline.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists to become the first player this season to reach 100 points in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Rangers. Alexis Lafreniere tallied the game-winner and Chris Kreider scored twice in regulation as the Rangers overcame a 4-1 deficit. Winners of seven straight, the Rangers (33-14-8) sit one point behind the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division with 74 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has now reached the 100-point mark six times in eight years. It’s also the fifth time he’s been the first player in a season to reach that plateau, sitting behind Mario Lemieux and Phil Esposito (six teams each) and Wayne Gretzky (nine times).
The Oilers activated winger Kailer Yamamoto off injured reserve. Rather than trade or waive Jesse Puljujarvi as many observers anticipated to make room for Yamamoto, they instead loaned Dylan Holloway and Vincent Desharnais to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored two goals as his club rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on an overtime goal by Andreas Athanasiou. Max Domi and Jake McCabe each had two assists for the 17-32-5 Blackhawks. Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux scored for the Senators (26-24-4) as they sit seven points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 56 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane moved into third place among American-born NHL players with 1,217 points. He’s now 15 points behind Phil Housley for second overall but he has a long way to go yet to catch Mike Modano, who is 157 points ahead with 1,374.
Before the game, former Senator Chris Neil was honored by having his number 25 raised to the rafters in the Canadian Tire Centre. Neil is the third player in modern Senators history to have his number retired, joining Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips.
Speaking of the Islanders, they overcame a 4-3 deficit on third-period goals by Brock Nelson and Zach Parise to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 40 shots while Nelson and Anders Lee each scored two goals as the Islanders (28-23-7) vaulted over the Washington Capitals into the final Eastern wild-card spot with 63 points. Rickard Rakell tallied twice for the Penguins (27-18-9), who also have 63 points but sit in the first wild-card berth with four games in hand over the Isles.
The Minnesota Wild dimmed the Dallas Stars 2-1 on shootout goals by Frederick Gaudreau and Matt Boldy. Filip Gustavsson stopped 29 shots while Mats Zuccarello scored in regulation for the 29-21-5 Wild as they hold a two-point lead over the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 63 points. Jamie Benn scored in regulation for the Stars (30-14-12) as they remain on top of the Western Conference with 72 points.
IN OTHER NEWS…
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau said critical comments made on Twitter by his agent aimed at the club’s recent struggles didn’t represent his opinion about the club or head coach Darryl Sutter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau’s agent is Allan Walsh, who created a stir during the 2020 playoffs with a tweet insinuating that client Marc-Andre Fleury was being stabbed in the back by head coach Peter DeBoer. Fleury was the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights while DeBoer was their head coach.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs moved goaltender Matt Murray to long-term injury reserve following the acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari. Once third-string goaltender Joseph Woll is ready to return to the AHL, the Leafs will have enough room to activate Murray and his $4.6 million salary when he’s healthy again.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed winger Tanner Pearson on LTIR with a season-ending hand injury suffered on Nov. 9.
GOPHNX.COM’s Craig Morgan tweeted that Arizona Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere could return to the lineup on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gostisbehere’s been sidelined since Jan. 24 with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s return will be watched closely by playoff contenders seeking an experienced puck-moving defenseman.
NJ.COM’s Ryan Novozinsky tweeted that the Devils sending Alexander Holtz to their AHL affiliate to the minors isn’t in anticipation of a trade but to give the young forward some game play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtz has only appeared in 19 games this season and doesn’t see much ice time when he does play. I’ve mentioned him as a possible trade chip if they intend to pursue a notable winger such as San Jose’s Timo Meier at the trade deadline.
THE ATHLETIC: Nashville Predators 2021 first-round pick Zachary L’Heureux received a 10-game suspension by the QMJHL for poking at a fan with a stick following a Feb. 8 game.
Patrick Marleau sets the league record for most games played, Kirill Kaprizov sets a franchise record, the stars of the week are revealed, Alex Edler is suspended and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Patrick Marleau played his 1,768th career game to pass Gordie Howe for the most in NHL history as his San Jose Sharks dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Mark Stone scored twice as Vegas overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout. Alex Tuch scored the game-winner. With 66 points, the Golden Knights move two points up on the Colorado Avalanche into first place in the Honda West Division.
San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Marleau on his remarkable achievement. His record won’t be broken anytime soon. The closest active players are aging stars Joe Thornton (1,669) and Zdeno Chara (1,598).
Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored to set the single-season franchise record for points (37) by a rookie in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who sit third in the West Division with 59 points. The Coyotes (45 points) hold a one-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for the fourth-and-final playoff spot.
Four unanswered third-period goals powered the Edmonton Oilers over the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Connor McDavid led the way with a goal and two assists. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury suffered following a collision with Oilers forward Alex Chiasson. Edmonton forward Jujhar Khaira also departed in the first following a hit by Montreal defenseman Alexander Romanov. The Oilers (56 points) moved within a point of the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division while the Canadiens are fourth with 47 points.
The Calgary Flames missed an opportunity to gain ground on the floundering Canadiens as they were upset 4-2 by the Ottawa Senators. Connor Brown scored twice and Matt Murray made 26 saves for the Senators. The Flames remain six points back of the Habs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators did the Canadiens a favor by beating the Flames. The Habs have won just three of their last 10 games and would be out of a playoff spot if the Flames weren’t having their own difficulties. Barring a dramatic turnaround in their fortunes, the Canadiens will likely back into the postseason and become first-round roadkill.
An overtime goal by Yanni Gourde lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Tampa Bay blew a 2-0 lead as the Hurricanes rallied back to force the extra frame. The Hurricanes remain in first place in the Discover Central Division with 63 points, holding two games in hand over the Florida Panthers. The Bolts, meanwhile, remain a point behind both clubs.
Speaking of the Panthers, they got two goals from Frank Vatrano to double up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Sam Bennett tallied his first goal with the Panthers since being acquired from Calgary at the trade deadline. Jackets forward Max Domi was a healthy scratch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The race for first place in the Central could be closely contested for the remainder of the regular season.
The Nashville Predators got a big two points in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Calle Jarnkrok and Luke Kunin each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who hold fourth place in the Central with 51 points while the Blackhawks sit four points back.
A shootout goal by Denis Gurianov gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. With 48 points, the Stars moved past the Blackhawks into fifth place.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski, New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin, and Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 18.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman on Sunday.
TORONTO STAR: Hyman will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a sprained knee.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are likely breathing a sigh of relief that Hyman’s injury wasn’t more serious than it is. He should be recovered in time for the playoffs in a month’s time.
NJ.COM: The Devils signed 2020 first-round pick Alexander Holtz to a three-year entry-level contract.