What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers
Latest on the Canadiens and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT COULD BE IN STORE FOR THE CANADIENS THIS SUMMER?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he wasn’t even close to moving winger Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry at last week’s NHL trade deadline. He admitted receiving calls about both players, but never intiated any trade talk.
Bergevin declined to say if he would attempt to extend Tatar or Petry, who are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. He also doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing winger Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He also shot down a rumor that goaltender Carey Price was unhappy and might want out of Montreal. The Canadiens GM will look into the UFA market this summer, though he acknowledged the difficulty of attracting free agents to the hockey hotbed.
TVA SPORTS: In a recent interview, Bergevin indicated he has no interest in trading a promising youngster like Jesperi Kotkaniemi for a veteran player who would only be with the team for two or three years. He also doesn’t rule out going the offer sheet route again. He made a failed attempt last summer to sign Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer is a crucial one for Bergevin. He must bolster his backup goaltending, the left side of his blueline, and find an impact scorer. He’s got 14 picks in the 2020 NHL draft, 10 of those between rounds two and five. I expect he’ll draw upon some of those picks for trade bait, but I doubt he dangles his first-round pick.
Should the salary cap rise to between $84 million to $88 million as projected, Bergevin will have between $20-$24 million to re-sign Domi and fellow RFA Victor Mete and bring in help via trade or free agency. That’s also sufficient room to make an offer sheet, perhaps one that won’t be so easily matched as the one he signed Sebastian Aho to last summer.
COULD BIG OFF-SEASON CHANGES BE COMING FOR THE PANTHERS?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders what the consequences will be for the Florida Panthers if they miss the playoffs again. Owner Vinny Viola spent more than $100 million to improve the club, including signing Sergei Bobrovsky and Anton Stralman and hiring Joel Quenneville as head coach. Rival general managers suspect the Panthers could break up their core if they fail to reach the postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those changes to the core could include captain Aleksander Barkov, winger Jonathan Huberdeau, or defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Of the three, Barkov and Ekblad lack no-trade protection, while Huberdeau has a full no-movement clause.
I realize this sounds extreme, but things simply aren’t working out with the current core. If they decide to shake things up, one of those three could hit the trade block. Mike Matheson also surfaced in trade speculation this season. Like Barkov and Ekblad, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract.
Alex Ovechkin is one goal shy of 700, Mark Scheifele and Jonathan Huberdeau have four-point performances, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 699th career goal, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his club from dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Montreal Canadiens. Ben Chiarot scored twice, including the winning goal. The Capitals moved into a first-place tie (80 points) with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division, but the Pens hold a game in hand. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens made a minor trade with the Penguins, acquiring Joseph Blandisi and Jake Lucchini in exchange for Riley Barber and Phil Varone
The Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back from a 5-2 defeat against the Penguins by blanking the latter 4-0 in the second game of their home-and-home series. Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for the shutout while Jake Muzzin had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Leafs (72 points) regained possession of third place in the Atlantic Division.
Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele had a hat trick and added an assist to lead his club over the Ottawa Senators 5-1. With 69 points, the Jets vaulted over the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Kevin Hayes scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Travis Konecny had a goal and two assists for the Flyers (75 points), opening a two-point lead over the Jackets for third in the Metro Division. Earlier in the day, the Flyers sent defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint.
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fourth straight win by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3. Alec Martinez had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Golden Knights. Steven Stamkos tallied twice for the Lightning as their 11-game winning streak – and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 21-game points streak – came to an end. The Bolts (85 points) sit three behind the league-leading Boston Bruins, while Vegas (72 points) moved into the top spot in the Pacific Division.
Despite a four-point effort by Jonathan Huberdeau, the Florida Panthers were nipped by the Los Angeles Kings 5-4. Kings rookie Gabe Vilardi had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut. The Panthers (70 points) slipped to fourth in the Atlantic Division.
St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington turned aside 14 shots for his second straight shutout in a 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Ryan O’Reilly tallied the only goal as the Blues (78 points) regained sole possession of first place in the Central Division.
P.K. Subban tallied the game-winner as the New Jersey Devils edged the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood kicked out 36 shots to win his sixth game (6-0-1) in his last seven starts. Earlier in the day, the Devils placed Domingue on waivers and held him out of this game for precautionary reasons.
The Devils fire GM Ray Shero, Jonathan Huberdeau become the highest-scoring Panther in franchise history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning was overshadowed by their firing of general manager Ray Shero an hour before game time. Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald takes over on an interim basis while Martin Brodeur moved to a role in hockey operations. The Devils’ victory brought the Lightning’s 10-game win streak to an end. The Devils also recalled goaltender Cory Schneider. Winger Kyle Palmieri missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero’s firing caught many observers off-guard. Ownership didn’t cite any specific reason, other than the club’s poor record this season. With the club poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years under Shero, they felt it was time for a change in the front office.
Shero made several positive moves during his tenure with the Devils, including the acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri and taking Nico Hischier with the first-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. However, his inability to suitably address his club’s defensive and goaltending issues hampered their development and led to his downfall. I’ll have more on the Devils in the Rumors section.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau became the highest-scoring player in franchise history in an 8-4 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Huberdeau scored and collected an assist for his 420th point, surpassing Olli Jokinen as their all-time points leader. Mike Hoffman scored twice while Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and two assists. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs.
Earlier in the day, the Panthers called up goaltender Sam Montembeault as starter Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Saturday’s practice. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a leg injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 61 points, Huberdeau is enjoying a career season thus far. The 26-year-old left winger is among the league’s top-10 scorers and on pace for a career-high 110 points.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice to lead his club to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. J.T. Miller picked up two assists for the Canucks, who moved into third place (54 points) in the Pacific Division. Wild defenseman Greg Patertyn made his season debut after missing 44 games to core muscle surgery.
Teddy Blueger’s shootout goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Evgeni Malkin collected two assists for the Penguins (61 points), who move within four points of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing 43 games with a lower-body injury.
Jusse Saros had a 28-save shutout and Kyle Turris scored the only goal as the Nashville Predators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. Predators captain Roman Josi’s points streak ended at 12 games. Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game in the first period with an injured right leg.
The Buffalo Sabres rolled to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Evan Rodrigues tallied twice while teammate Jack Eichel picked up an assist to stretch his points streak to seven games. The Wings played without goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who’s dealing with a lower-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety regarding his altercation with Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday. Kassian took offense to two hits from Tkachuk, punching the Flames winger and throwing him twice to the ice.
TSN: New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was fined $5,000.00 for slashing St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Saturday.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Stephen Johns played his first game in 22 months with their AHL affiliate Texas Stars. Johns had been sidelined by post-concussion headaches.
Three stars and top rookie of the month for December, Canadiens, Sabres, and Flames get busy in the trade market, milestones reached by Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon’s four-point performance (one goal, three assists) led the Colorado Avalanche to a 7-3 thumping of the St. Louis Blues. Nazem Kadri scored twice and Samuel Girard collected four assists. Robert Thomas scored twice for the Blues.
The Vancouver Canucks picked up their sixth straight win by holding off the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5. J.T. Miller had a four-point effort while teammates Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Tanner Pearson each collected three points. Patrick Kane scored two goals for the Blackhawks while teammate Adam DeBrincat had three helpers.
The San Jose Sharks defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime tally by Brent Burns. Joe Thornton picked up his 1,080th career NHL assist to move into seventh on the all-time assists leader list. Patric Hornqvist scored both Penguins goals.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are unbeaten in their last nine games (8-0-1) after downing the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. William Nylander scored two goals and set up another while teammate Frederik Andersen kicked out 45 shots. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will miss at least a month with a lower-body injury.
Sean Monahan’s third-period goal gave the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Flames while Rangers defenseman Adam Fox collected three assists.
The Vegas Golden Knights scored four first-period goals and hung on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Golden Knights, who killed off a 6-on-3 Flyers power-play in the final 90 seconds of the third period. Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault missed the game with a lower-body injury.
A four-goal second period carried the Florida Panthers to a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Evgenii Dadonov tallied twice and added an assist for the Panthers.
The Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Boston Bruins 2-1 on an overtime goal by Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Jackets’ point streak has reached 12 games (8-0-4). Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 30th goal of the season.
Jack Eichel’s penalty-shot goal in overtime completed a 3-2 comeback by the Buffalo Sabres over the Edmonton Oilers. The Sabres overcame a 2-0 deficit on regulation goals by Curtis Lazar and Sam Reinhart. Sabres rookie winger Victor Olofsson left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 38-save performance carried his club over the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. The Habs played without winger Brendan Gallagher, who’s out indefinitely with a concussion.
Nico Hischier tallied the game-winner as the New Jersey Devils nipped the New York Islanders 2-1. The Devils are 4-0-1 in their last five games. New Jersey center Jack Hughes missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (lower-body injury) also missed this contest.
The Arizona Coyotes doubled up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 following a three-goal third period. Goaltender Antti Raanta made 26 saves for the win.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Pittsburgh Penguins goatender Tristan Jarry, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the NHL’s three stars for December 2019. Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson is rookie of the month for December.
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are the 12th, 13th, and 14th players in NHL history to play at least one game in four or more different decades.
TSN: The Montreal Canadiens yesterday traded defenseman Mike Reilly to the Ottawa Senators for a fifth-round pick in 2021 and minor-leaguer Andrew Sturtz. They also acquired defenseman Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2020.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With these moves, the Canadiens add some much-needed veteran experience to their blueline in Scandella while shedding a $1.5-million salary-cap hit for 2020-21 by moving out the frequently-scratched Reilly. Eligible for UFA status this summer, Scandella can be considered a rental to keep the Habs’ flickering playoff hopes alive. The Senators, meanwhile, needed defensive depth with Dylan DeMelo, Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey sidelined by injuries.
The Sabres, meanwhile, flipped that draft pick they received from the Canadiens to the Calgary Flames for winger Michael Frolik.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres needed help up front. That they only had to part with a fourth-rounder speaks to the decline in Frolik’s stock. The Flames were reportedly close to moving Frolik at last year’s trade deadline to the Minnesota Wild in a deal for winger Jason Zucker but it fell through at the last minutes. Frolik might not be the only move the Sabres have in store, while the Flames could also be active in the trade market leading up to this year’s deadline. I’ll have more later this morning in my daily Rumors update.
THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown returned to practice yesterday following a stint in hospital recovering from pneumonia.
USA TODAY: Carolina Hurricanes center Erik Haula and his wife, Kristen, released a statement yesterday mourning the passing of their unborn daughter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to the Haulas.