NHL Most Important Players: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Hurricanes buy out Patrick Marleau, the Blues re-sign Carl Gunnarsson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday bought out the final season of left wing Patrick Marleau’s contract. They acquired Marleau last weekend from the Toronto Maple Leafs but were unable to convince him to play out his contract with them.
The buyout was a condition of Marleau agreeing to waive his no-movement clause. The Hurricanes paid his $3-million signing bonus and the annual cap hit of the buyout will be $833,333 divided over the next two years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected Marleau will return to the San Jose Sharks, where he spent all but two of his 21 NHL seasons.
The Sharks have other free-agent issues to resolve first. Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist, and Joonas Donskoi are unrestricted free agents. Restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are due for significant pay raises. Nevertheless, if there’s enough cap space remaining after resolving those free-agent issues, Marleau could return with the Sharks for next season.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a two-year contract extension worth $1.75-million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gunnarsson agreed to a pay cut to stay with the Stanley Cup champions. Cap Friendly indicates he earned $2.9 million annually on his previous contract.
TSN: Speaking of the Blues, they have no intention of trading goaltender Jake Allen, who lost his starter’s job this season to rookie Jordan Binnington.
CBS SPORTS: The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a one-year, one-way contract.
SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Taylor Fedun to a two-year, two-way contract.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-signed forward Jack Rodewald to a one-year, two-way deal.
Game recaps, coaches named for 2019 All-Star Game, and more in this morning’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jonathan Quick collected his 300th NHL win and Anze Kopitar tallied his 300th NHL goal as the Los Angeles Kings blanked the Edmonton Oilers 4-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was perhaps the worst game of the season for the struggling Oilers, who seemed listless throughout this contest. At one point, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty elbowed Oilers captain Connor McDavid in the face without getting a penalty or receiving retribution from McDavid’s teammates, drawing a furious reaction from Oilers fans on social media. The faithful are getting restless as the hashtag #FireChiarelli (referring to Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli) was trending in Canada this morning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 16-game point streak came to an end last night with a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Winger Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks, including his 200th career goal, while Brent Burns collected three assists and Erik Karlsson had two helpers.
Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban collected his 300th career NHL assist against his former club in a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Craig Smith tallied two goals for the Predators. With the loss, the Canadiens dropped out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The New York Islanders moved ahead of the Canadiens into that second wild-card spot by holding off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Anders Lee had a goal and an assist for the red-hot Isles, who’ve won six straight contests.
Michael Hutchinson had a 28-save shutout in his second game with the Toronto Maple Leafs, backstopping them to a 5-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists for the Leafs. The Canucks, meanwhile, were playing without star rookie Elias Pettersson, who is expected to miss two weeks with a sprained right knee.
Defenseman T.J. Brodie scored in overtime as the Calgary Flames overcame a 2-1 deficit for a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, who suffered their sixth straight defeat. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist.
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 31 saves as his club held on for a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Returning from a three-game suspension, David Backes tallied the winning goal.
The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up their seventh win in their last nine games by downing the Florida Panthers 4-3 on an overtime goal by Seth Jones.
The Minnesota Wild handed the Ottawa Senators their seventh consecutive loss by edging them 4-3. Wild blueliner Jared Spurgeon scored two goals and teammate Zach Parise had a three-point performance.
IN OTHER NEWS…
Josh Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets, Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals, and Bill Peters of the Calgary Flames will serve as the head coaches in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose on Jan. 26.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers will be sidelined at least a month with an upper-body injury.
CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers forward Derek MacKenzie has announced his retirement to become an assistant coach with the club. He suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the season. In a career stretching back to 2001-02 with the Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, and Columbus Blue Jackets, McKenzie scored 51 goals and 74 points for 125 points.
ESPN.COM: Former New Jersey Devils forward Mike Peluso has filed a lawsuit claiming the club hid the true extent of a head injury he suffered during a game in 1993. “The suit says Peluso has suffered “nine grand mal seizures, early onset dementia, total and permanent disability in the workplace, all signs of being afflicted with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), as well as other severe neurological and psychological impairment.”
Flames sign James Neal, an update on Henrik Zetterberg, Ryan McDonagh’s new contract, plus a roundup of other free agent signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Calgary Flames have signed winger James Neal to a five-year deal worth an annual average value of roughly $5.75-million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Neal’s tallied 20-plus goals in each of his 10 NHL seasons and played a leadership role in the Vegas Golden Knights’ record-breaking inaugural campaign. His experience, physical style and leadership could make him a solid addition for the Flames. However, his production decreased over the past two seasons with Nashville and Vegas respectively. His physical style has also taken a toll, as he’s played over 71 games just one in the past five seasons. With Neal turning 31 in September, this new contract could become more costly over the final two years for the Flames.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland isn’t certain if captain Henrik Zetterberg will be able to play next season. Holland said the last time he spoke to Zetterberg, the 37-year-old center said he’s planning on playing. However, his health will determine if he returns to action.
Zetterberg has a history of back injuries and underwent major surgery in 2014. Holland said he’ll remain in touch with his captain throughout the summer.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday re-signed defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year extension worth $47 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh will be 30 when his new contract kicks in next summer. He’s a solid all-around defenseman but that deal could become a millstone for the Lightning over the latter years of the deal. McDonagh’s style of play takes a toll upon his body, one that could hamper his effectiveness as he ages. He also seemed to struggle at times against swifter opponents during the 2018 playoffs.
THE ATHLETIC: Defenseman Jack Johnson found himself in hot water with Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella over his comment that he was happy to join a team with a winning culture during his press conference yesterday to announce his signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tortorella blasted the former Jackets defenseman, calling those remarks a slap in the face after all the organization had done to support him. Johnson said his misspoke, never intended any insult and called Jackets president John Davidson to apologize.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The Rangers re-signed forward Vladislav Namestnikov to a two-year deal worth $4 million per season and inked former Ottawa Senators defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, $700,000 deal.
NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks re-signed forward Sven Baertschi to a three-year deal with an AAV of $3.367M.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Matt Cullen is returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the 41-year-old center inked a one-year worth $650K
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Anaheim Ducks inked defenseman Luke Schenn to a one-year, $800K contract.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed winger Scott Wilson to a two-year, $2.1-million contract.
NBC SPORTS: The Washington Capitals signed center Nic Dowd to a one-year, $650K deal.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers added goaltender Michael Hutchinson as he agreed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $1.3 million.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils inked defenseman Eric Gryba to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed goaltender Laurent Brossoit to a one-year, one-way contract worth $650K
Another look at possible offseason moves by the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE BOZAK?
THE ATHLETIC: JD Burke cited a recent report by News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal claiming the Vancouver Canucks could have interest in Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak if he becomes available as an unrestricted free agent this summer. He feels the Canucks should be wary of signing the 32-year-old Leaf, pointing out he’s at the stage in his career where decline is inevitable. If they do pursue Bozak, Burke feels a one-year deal worth around $3 million would be better than a more expensive three- or four-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. With the Sedins announcing their retirement, the Canucks will have over $20 million to invest in bringing in one or two veteran players to act as mentors for their promising youngsters and take some pressure off them. However, they must avoid repeating the mistake they made two years ago with Loui Eriksson, who’s signed through 2021-22 with a $6-million annual salary-cap hit. A one- or two-year deal worth between $3-$4 million annually for someone such as Bozak would be more reasonable.
Hutton’s time in Vancouver sure looks like it is up, would be surprised if the Canucks don’t at least try and move him at the NHL draft. #Canucks
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) April 3, 2018
LATEST STARS SPECULATION
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Given the injury history of Stars starting goaltender Ben Bishop, Mike Heika believes general manager Jim Nill will have an important decision to make regarding the backup position. One option could be re-signing Kari Lehtonen, but he struggled in his recent starts. Nill could also look to one of his goaltending prospects or perhaps via free agency for someone such as Toronto’s Calvin Pickard or Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After falling out of playoff contention this season, some changes are likely in store for the Stars this summer. One of them could be bolstering their goaltending depth. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nill pursues someone like PIckard or Hutchinson.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sean Shapiro addressed some questions from Stars fans regarding possible offseason moves. He’s not a fan of pursuing former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who turns 35 next week and hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since splitting 2012-13 between the NHL and KHL. Shapiro also said he’d be shocked if winger Val Nichushkin, who’s spent the past two seasons in the KHL, isn’t skating with the Stars next season.
Asked about the possibility of the Stars perhaps landing Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, Shapiro acknowledged the recent trade history between the two clubs and didn’t rule it out. He also “wouldn’t be opposed to packaging younger bottom-six players to get a legitimate top-six scoring option. I’m a big proponent of giving younger players an opportunity, but I’m also a realist and believe the Stars need to do something to bolster the offense with a bona fide option.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Shapiro’s take on Kovalchuk. They’re better off looking at younger, perhaps more affordable depth options. Bringing back Nichushkin could help provided his game has matured over the last two years.
The Canadiens’ biggest needs are a top-line center and perhaps another top-four defenseman, which probably doesn’t make Dallas a destination for Galchenyuk. Perhaps Nill can package a couple of promising younger players in hopes of enticing a club in need of shedding salary into parting with a top-six winger.
Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins overcame a 4-1 deficit with five unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-4. David Pastrnak scored three of those goals to notch his first career NHL hat trick, while Brad Marchand tallied his 30th of the season. The Bruins got the win despite losing Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Zdeno Chara (possible upper body) and Torey Krug (unspecified) to injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That collapse is probably the final nail in the coffin of the Hurricanes’ playoff hopes. This had to be a disheartening defeat. With 71 points, they’re seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 12 games remaining in their schedule.
Artturi Lehkonen scored twice and Antti Niemi made 36 saves as the Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2. The loss leaves the Stars (82 points) clinging to the final wild-cad berth in the Western Conference. Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw left the game with a possible head injury after a collision with Stars blueliner Greg Pateryn. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced defenseman Shea Weber underwent surgery to repair tendons in his left foot and will require six months of recovery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The win was a measure of revenge for Niemi, who was bought out of the final year of his contract last summer by the Stars.
The Ottawa Senators lit up Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for six goals on 29 shots on route to a 7-4 beatdown of the Lightning. Mike Hoffman scored twice for the Senators while Lightning forward J.T. Miller had a hat trick. The Lightning (100 points) hold a four-point lead over the Bruins for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
A three-goal first period was all the Nashville Predators need to beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for the Predators, who widened their Central Division lead over the Jets to eight points. Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson was forced to leave the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
J.T. Compher scored two goals and Semyon Varlamov kicked out 33 shots to give the Colorado Avalanche a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. With the win, the Avs (82 points) move into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon left the game with what appeared to be a serious lower-body injury after tumbling awkwardly into the boards.
The Calgary Flames remain two points out of a Western Conference playoff spot with a 1-0 blanking of the Edmonton Oilers. Johnny Gaudreau scored the only goal while Mike Smith made 28 saves. The Flames got the win without winger Matthew Tkachuk, who suffered an apparent head injury during Sunday’s game against the New York Islanders.
Goaltender Adin Hill made 34 saves for his first career NHL win backstopping the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Alex Goligoski potted the game-winning goal.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie defenseman Tony DeAngelo suffered a possible season-ending left-ankle injury during Monday’s 6-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals demoted rookie defenseman Madison Bowey to the minors.
NHL.COM: Former defenseman Andrew Ference is the league’s new Director of Social Impact, Growth & Fan Development.