Goaltending Becomes The Maple Leafs’ Weakest Link
More on the league’s potential plans for 2020-21, no Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2021, plus the latest on Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, Vince Dunn, Alexander Steen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to take its time exploring its options for 2020-21 despite a tentative start date of Jan. 1. He also indicated it appears last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will get additional training camp time, though it hasn’t yet been finalized with the NHL Players Association.
Daly also dismissed the idea that the NHL must crown a Stanley Cup champion before the Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 22, 2021. He said there’s a lot to be played out on the Olympic front, adding the league has models that extend beyond the Olympic period.
Border restrictions between Canada and the United States will also factor in what the 2020-21 schedule looks like. If travel for NHL teams remains difficult between the two countries, it could result in what Daly called a possibility to “create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Daly isn’t rejecting the notion of the NHL schedule coinciding with the Summer Olympics. However, I don’t think that’s going to benefit the league if the playoffs are going on during the two weeks when their main US broadcaster is putting its focus on the Tokyo Games. If the Olympics are canceled or the dates changed, however, it wouldn’t affect the league’s US TV coverage.
For now, of course, this is all speculation. We don’t know yet how long the NHL season will be, let alone when the puck drops for certain.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins defenseman and NHLPA representative Brandon Carlo said the PA and its members remain committed to staging a full 82-games schedule for 2020-21.
Murphy believes one reason behind the 82-game push is to avoid the possibility of the league looking to amend the new collective bargaining agreement to prorate player salaries if the season is shortened by COVID-19.
Carlo also suggested there would be some hesitancy among the players to play under quarantine bubbles again, though they are open to ideas. However, they would be reluctant to be separated from their families as they were during the 2020 playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One possibility recently raised is starting next season in several hub cities where the teams play for two weeks, followed by a week back in their home cities to practice and reunite with their families. That scenario could be acceptable to the PA membership.
SPORTSNET: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is postponing the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 to next year and will not name a new class for 2021.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The induction weekend is a significant event that involves a Hall of Fame game in Toronto on the Saturday prior to the actual induction ceremony gala, which takes place in the Hall with family, friends and former teammates of the inductees, as well as NHL executives and established Hall of Famers in attendance. The pandemic makes it impossible to safely stage those events.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin is expected to undergo hip surgery next week. His recovery period could take four months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin labored through that injury (and a lingering knee injury) during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he got some flak from fans and pundits for what they considered a sub-par performance on his part, with calls that he should “step up his play”. Once again, it’s worth remembering that an NHL player performing below expectations in the postseason could be nursing an injury that adversely affects their game.
Stars general manager Jim Nill said he hopes to have a new deal for Roope Hintz within the next week or two. The 23-year-old forward is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Nill said he’s had great discussions with Hintz’s agent. The Stars have about $4 million in cap space. Hintz’s new contract could carry an annual cap hit of between $2.5 million and $3 million.
The Stars also signed Julius Honka to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The 24-year-old defenseman spent last season playing in Finland and had asked for a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka is well down the Stars’ blueline depth chart and faces a daunting challenge cracking the lineup. He must also clear waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate.
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t concerned over Vince Dunn remaining unsigned, indicating the 24-year-old defenseman is still part of their plans for next season. He pointed out it’s not unusual for restricted free agents to wait until training camp to sign contracts.
The Blues are about $1.1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. However, Armstrong pointed out they’ll have “an abundance of cap space” given the Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen “situations”. Tarasenko will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Armstrong’s comments are a strong indicator Steen could miss the start of the season with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Tarasenko and Steen on injured reserve. Their combined salaries ($13.25 million) provides the Blues with ample room to re-sign Dunn. It could also provide sufficient room to make a short-term addition to their roster if necessary.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract (two-way in the first two seasons) worth an annual average value of $750K. They also signed unrestricted free agent goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract worth $750K annually.
SPORTSNET: The Ontario government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact will not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) indicates it will follow scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie raises some important questions about the Ontario government’s plan:
So many questions, and I’m not professing to have all the answers: 1. Can someone explain to me how so-called “bodychecking” is inherently more threatening re:Covid than standard battles for the puck that are essential aspects of even so-called non-contact hockey?
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 30, 2020
The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 pm ET today. This listing will be updated regularly throughout the day until all trade activity is complete.
Anaheim Ducks trade defenseman Korbinian Holzer to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Matt Irwin.
Washington Capitals trade defenseman Christian Djoos to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Daniel Sprong.
Montreal Canadiens trade Nick Cousins to the Vegas Golden Knights. Details to follow…
New Jersey Devils trade goaltender Louis Domingue to the Vancouver Canucks in exhange for goalie Zane McIntyre
Tampa Bay Lightning acquire Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks for a first-round pick.
New York Rangers traded defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for the Hurricanes’ first-round pick in 2020.
Vegas Golden Knights acquired goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks for Malcolm Subban, Slava Demin and a 2nd round pick.
New Jersey Devils trade defenseman Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Janne Kuokkanen and a second-round pick.
Buffalo Sabres trade Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dominik Kahun.
Calgary Flames acquire defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round pick.
Los Angeles Kings ship defenseman Derek Forbort to the Calgary Flames for a fourth-round pick.
Edmonton Oilers trade a fifth-round pick in 2021 to the Ottawa Senators for Tyler Ennis.
Edmonton Oilers acquired Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner from the Detroit Red Wings for Sam Gagner, a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.
Boston Bruins trade Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie.
Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds from the New Jersey Devils for a conditional fifth-rounder in 2021.
Philadelphia Flyers acquire center Derek Grant from the Anaheim Ducks for minor-league center Kyle Crisuolo and a fourth-round pick in 2020.
Toronto Maple Leafs trade goaltender Michael Hutchinson to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Calle Rosen.
Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-round pick in 2020. The pick becomes a second-rounder if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
Montreal Canadiens trade center Nate Thompson to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fifth-round pick in 2021.
Florida Panthers trade center Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forwards Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen.
New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a first-round pick (lottery protected) in 2020, a second-rounder in 2020, and a third in 2022. There are conditions attached to all picks. The Islanders re-sign him to a six-year contract extension.
Ottawa Senators trade Vladislav Namestnikov to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft.
Detroit Red Wings trade defenseman Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers for sidelined forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick.
The Lightning picked up their ninth straight victory, Zach Sanford scored four goals in a losing cause for the Blues, Zack Kassian in hot water again, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their ninth consecutive win by dropping the Edmonton Oilers 3-1. Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 20 games. Oilers winger Zack Kassian could get a call from the NHL department of player safety for kicking the Lightning’s Erik Cernak in the chest with his skate during a first-period scrum. Cernak was unhurt in the incident. The Bolts played without Nikita Kucherov, who remains sidelined with a lower-body injury. The Lightning (81 points) move within a point of the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the overall standings.
Zach Sanford’s four-goal performance wasn’t enough to prevent the St. Louis Blues from dropping a 6-5 overtime decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice, including the winning goal, while teammate Max Pacioretty also netted two goals. The Golden Knights (66 points) sit third in the Pacific Division.
Cam Talbot turned in a 44-save performance as the Calgary Flames shut out the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Mikael Backlund and Mark Jankowski each scored twice as the Flames (66 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the West.
Tyler Seguin’s goal early in the third period proved to be the winner as the Dallas Stars held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 16 saves in his first game since suffering a neck injury on Feb. 3. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson left the game with what’s being called a serious knee injury. Stars center Andrew Cogliano played his 1,000th career NHL game. Earlier in the day, the Stars placed winger Alexander Radulov (upper body) on injured reserve while the Leafs placed goalie Michael Hutchinson on waivers.
Craig Smith tallied his first NHL hat trick and Juuse Saros turned in a 31-save shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the New York Islanders 5-0. With 61 points, the Predators move to within three points of the Coyotes for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk scored and set up two others to lead his club over the Florida Panthers 6-2. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots. The Panthers (66 points) remains two points behind the Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.
Buffalo Sabres rookie Victor Olofsson scored twice, including the game-winner, as the Buffalo Sabres upset the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. It was Olofsson’s first game since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on Jan. 2. Sabres captain Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists. The Jackets (71 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Washington Capitals overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless for the third straight game and remains two goals shy of 700 for his career.
Wayne Simmonds scored twice as the New Jersey Devils tallied four unanswered third-period goals in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Earlier in the day, the Devils placed defenseman Sami Vatanen (undisclosed) on injured reserve.
A two-goal first period enabled the Ottawa Senators to nip the Arizona Coyotes 3-2, snapping their six-game losing skid. The Coyotes (64 points) cling to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Shootout goals by Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. Panarin also tallied a goal and an assist in regulation. The loss keeps the Wild (61 points) three back of the Coyotes.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher in the face on Wednesday.