NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Dallas Stars
The Blues take a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Stars re-sign two players, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues are one victory away from their first-ever Stanley Cup following a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Final. Ryan O’Reilly scored the game-opener and set up David Perron for the winner while Jordan Binnington kicked out 38 shots.
The winning goal was controversial as an obvious trip on Bruins winger Noel Acciari by Blues center Tyler Bozak went uncalled before David Perron’s tally. Bruins president Cam Neely and coach Bruce Cassidy were furious with the officials. Following the game, Cassidy said the non-call was “egregious”, calling it a “black eye” for the league.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara suited up for this contest despite a broken jaw suffered in Game 4. He played over 16 minutes, blocked three shots and led all Bruins defensemen with four hits.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That missed trip by Bozak on Acciari was just the latest embarrassment for the league in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. If the Blues go on to win this series, Bruins fans could point to that missed penalty as the reason. The officiating has been terrible, so much so that league commissioner Gary Bettman recently promised some changes in the off-season.
That call overshadowed Binnington’s outstanding performance. The Blues were dominated through most of Game 5, especially in the first period. Binnington, however, made the difference.
O’Reilly also deserves his share of plaudits for his efforts in this contest. While Binnington will be considered the Blues’ front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy, O’Reilly also deserves consideration. He’s been impressive throughout this postseason.
SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Roman Polak and winger Mattias Janmark to one-year contracts yesterday. Polak, 33, will earn $1.75 million for 2019-20. The 26-year-old Janmark will make $2.3 million.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators officially hired Jack Capuano yesterday as an associate coach. His role will be improving the club’s young defense.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets inked forwards Seth Griffth and JC Lipton to one-year, two-way deals worth $700K at the NHL level.
NEW YORK POST: Overhauling their AHL affiliate will be the priority of the Rangers under new team president John Davidson.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) June 6, 2019
Avalanche eliminated the Flames, Leafs push Bruins to the brink of elimination, Masterton Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: For the first time in 11 years, the Colorado Avalanche are going to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avalanche defeated the Calgary Flames 5-1 to win their opening-round matchup in five games. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves, Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson each scored twice while Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each collected three assists.
T.J. Brodie scored the only goal for the Flames, who made veteran winger James Neal a healthy scratch for this contest. The Flames’ elimination marks the first time in league history the top seeds in each conference failed to advance to the second round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Tampa Bay Lightning against the underdog Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flames were outplayed by the upstart Avalanche, who didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final week of the regular season. Put simply, the Avs best players rose to the occasion while most of the Flames’ best did not.
This defeat cannot be pinned on Flames goaltender Mike Smith, as he was outstanding through most of this series. His teammates, especially his defense, let him down, especially in Games 3 and 4 when he faced a total of 108 shots. Smith and versatile forward Sam Bennett were the only Flames who can still hold their heads high following this series.
The Toronto Maple Leafs held off a late rally by the Boston Bruins for a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their opening-round series and return to Toronto with a chance to close things out in Game 6 on Sunday. Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen scored in the third period while David Krejci tallied for the Bruins. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen kicked out 28 shots for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless you’re a Leafs or Bruins fan you probably found this game duller than dishwater. Nevertheless, the Leafs must be commended for playing what I consider their best defensive game of the season. They did a superb job containing the Bruins offense.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be unavailable for tonight’s crucial Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues after blocking a shot late in Game 5.
NBC SPORTS: With winger T.J. Oshie sidelined with an upper-body injury, the Washington Capitals recalled 2018 playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly from their AHL affiliate in Hershey for Game 5 of their series tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. The series is deadlocked at two games apiece.
SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars forward Mattias Janmark could return to the lineup for Game 5 this afternoon against the Nashville Predators. A lower-body injury sidelined Janmark since Game 2.
TSN: New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be sidelined three-to-four weeks by a lower-body injury.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers “removed Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” from their music library and covered up the statue of the opera singer near the Wells Fargo Center in light of several songs by Smith containing racist lyrics being unearthed.” It’s expected the statue will be removed in the near future.
On an non-NHL note, congratulations to the Yarmouth Mariners (my old hometown team) on winning the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Canadian Tire Cup with a four-game sweep of the Campbellton Tigers. Way to go, boys, you’ve made Yarmouth County proud.
Latest on the Oilers and Stars plus updates on Sergei Bobrovsky, Brett Pesce, Chris Kunitz, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TRADE TIDBIT FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS” COLUMN.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers “checked in” on Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but a couple of sources “threw cold water on that.” The Capitals are seeking “a couple of mid-to-high” draft picks for Burakovsky. Friedman also said the Oilers like speedy Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou but there’s no guarantee the Wings will move him, plus the asking price would be expensive.
There’s also speculation they were talking to the Chicago Blackhawks “about something bigger” and could be trying to shed winger Tobias Rieder to free up salary-cap space. A rumor suggesting a team was interested in Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard went nowhere. Friedman also suggests Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen’s new contract could be used as a comparable by Calgary Flames netminder David Rittich.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson recently said his club won’t peddle the future for quick fixes, which likely means they won’t be making significant moves before the trade deadline. Burakovsky could cost the Oilers one or two of those assets to acquire. Interesting that the Capitals apparently seek a couple of draft picks as earlier speculation suggested they wanted a player who could help their roster right away.
Athanasiou is poised for a 30-goal, 55-point performance. He would be costly to acquire and I don’t see the Wings moving him now. The time for that was during his contract standoff during the summer of 2017. Seems like he and Wings management are on better terms now.
Rieder carries a $2-million cap hit on a one-year deal. Maybe a playoff contender will take a chance on him regaining his form.
While there’s an understanding Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would “consider other situations”, there’s a theory he and his agent haven’t committed them to paper yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Bobrovsky might be willing to waive his no-trade clause but he may not have submitted a written list to Jackets’ management. Meanwhile, Bobrovsky isn’t commenting on his future plans.GM Jarmo Kekalainen maintains they’re hoping to convince Bobrovsky and fellow UFA Artemi Panarin to re-sign, though acknowledging they could face difficult decisions if keeping them beyond this season isn’t possible.
Friedman speculates the Toronto Maple Leafs were watching Brett Pesce, not Dougie Hamilton, during their recent scouting of the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed the Hurricanes seek a scoring forward in exchange for one of their right-shot rearguards. Friedman said, however, the Leafs aren’t willing to part with Kasperi Kapanen or blueline prospect Rasmus Sandin.
While contract negotiations are ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, Friedman said there doesn’t seem to be much discussion with winger Ryan Dzingel. He could fetch a decent return if the Senators decide to shop him.
Friedman believes a few playoff contenders are considering Chicago Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz. He suggests the Calgary Flames would be a good fit.
Friedman cited BSN’s Adrian Dater reporting the New York Rangers were scouting the Colorado Avalanche. While it could be tied to Rangers like Kevin Hayes or Vladislav Namestnikov, New York’s interest could be in a top prospect like Shane Bowers or much more. The Avs, however, will “zealously protect” their best draft assets. Friedman also believes the Avs will explore defenseman Nikita Zadorov’s trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been some speculation out of Colorado suggesting Hayes would be a good fit for the Avalanche, who need secondary scoring. But if the Avs won’t part with a good young asset, the Rangers could look elsewhere for a suitable trade partner.
Friedman reports the Dallas Stars are dangling Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin and Mattias Janmark.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are in need of secondary scoring. Perhaps one or two of those guys will be used as trade bait to address that issue.
Jarome Iginla to announce retirement, Trevor Linden leaves Canucks, an update on Henrik Zetterberg, the latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Jarome Iginla will return to the Saddledome on July 30 to officially announced his retirement as an NHL player after 20 years. Iginla, 41, was an unrestricted free agent last season but couldn’t find any takers among the 31 NHL teams.
Iginla totaled “625 goals and 675 assists in 1,554 regular-season outings between 1996-2017”, with 525 goals and 1,095 points coming with the Flames, making him the franchise leader in both categories. He’s a former two-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goalscorer. He also won the Art Ross Trophy as the top scorer and the Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as the MVP as voted by the players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla was the greatest player in Flames history, no small feat considering their ranks over the years included Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Mikka Kiprusoff, Joe Nieuwendyk, Theo Fleury and Mike Vernon. It’s only fitting that he retires in Calgary where he had his greatest seasons.
The Flames also re-signed center Mark Jankowski to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.675-million, while an arbiter awarded Flames defenseman Brett Kulak a one-year, one-way contract worth $900K.
CTV NEWS: The Vancouver Canucks last night announced Trevor Linden was stepping down as their president of hockey operations. Linden said in a statement he wanted to spend more time with his family while the club called the decision an amicable one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already speculation suggesting disagreements between Linden and others in the front office and ownership over the rebuilding club’s direction is the real reason behind his decision.
Speaking of the Canucks, they re-signed forward Jake Virtanen to a two-year contract worth $1.25-million per season.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Player agent Gunnar Svensson, who represents Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, told Swedish publication Hockeybladet his client remains undecided if he’ll return to action in 2018-19.
“There have been some injury problems with his back. It is impossible to answer how it will be, for it one cannot know what it is now. He simply has not decided,” said Svensson. Wings GM Ken Holland has said he expects Zetterberg will report to training camp in September but he’s also uncertain about his status for the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We won’t know Zetterberg’s status for certain until training camp opens. He’ll have to pass the club medical before he can take to the ice with his teammates, which should provide the earliest indication as to whether he’ll be playing in 2018-19.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild avoided salary arbitration with winger Jason Zucker as the two sides agreed to a five-year, $27.5-million contract with an annual average value of $5.5 million. “He will be paid $5 million in the 2018-19 season, $6.25 million in 2019-20, $4.8 million in 2020-21, $6.25 million in 2021-22 and $5.2 million in 2022-23.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker was the subject of trade speculation following a disappointing playoff performance this spring but it’s obvious now that he’s not going anywhere. The 26-year-old reached career highs with 33 goals and 31 assists for 64 points last season. His re-signing leaves the Wild with around $1.7-million in projected salary-cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), suggesting new GM Paul Fenton is probably done making any significant additions to the roster.
THE TENNESSEAN: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis is returning to the team where his NHL career began, inking a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators worth $2.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable veteran addition by the Predators. Hamhuis, 35, won’t be logging the big minutes he did earlier in his career but he’s still capable of skating 20 minutes per game if necessary. He’ll make a solid third-pairing addition who can move up if necessary should injuries strike the top-four blueliners.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2.3-million contract.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders named Piero Greco as their new goaltending coach, replacing Fred Brathwaite.
SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will be honored as the top Nova Scotia athlete of all time at a gala dinner in Halifax on Thursday.
Game recaps, Messier Leadership Award finalists revealed & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby scored twice and Nick Bonino netted the game winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 1 of the second-round series. Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves for the win. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for the Capitals.
Erik Karlsson’s late third-goal gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the first game of their second-round series. The goaltending was superb as the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist made 41 saves and the Senators’ Craig Anderson kicked out 34. The game wasn’t a sellout, as there was almost 2,500 empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano and Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf are this year’s finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.
ESPN.COM: Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala suffered a broken left femur in Game 1 of his club’s second-round series against the St. Louis Blues.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defensemen Kevin Bieksa (lower-body injury) and Sami Vatanen (upper-body injury) remain questionable for Game 2 of their club’s series against the Edmonton Oilers.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed center Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $700K contract. Janmark, 24, missed the entire season recovering from a rare bone condition called osteochondritis dissecans.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes have fired assistant coach Newell Brown and Tucson Roadrunners GM Doug Soetaert. “The contracts for pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque would not be renewed.”
TSN.CA: The NHL lost its bid to force CTE researchers to hand over medical data related to their research which included six former NHL players.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Former Detroit Red Wings team doctor John Finley passed away at age 88. He was the Wings doctor from 1957 to 2002.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Condolences to Finley’s family, friends and the Wings organization.