At Long Last, Arizona Coyotes Are For Real – And Getting Better
The Arizona Coyotes re-signed forward Clayton Keller to an eight-year contract extension. Reports indicate the deal is worth $57.2 million, with an annual average value of $7.15 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big pay raise for the 21-year-old Keller, who’s entering the final season of his entry-level contract worth an AAV of over $1.6 million when factoring in performance bonuses (stick tap to Cap Friendly).
A versatile forward who can play center or wing, Keller made an impressive NHL debut in 2017-18 with 65 points to lead the Coyotes in scoring. For his effort, he was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Keller struggled through his sophomore campaign and his production dropped to just 47 points. Nevertheless, he was the Coyotes leading scorer for the second straight season.
The Coyotes showed a lot of faith in Keller with this hefty new deal. In a statement following the signing, general manager John Chayka called the youngster “elite in every sense of the word”, singling out his playmaking skills and character.
The pressure’s on for young Keller to deliver. A return to 60-plus points this season will go a long way toward alleviating concerns. Fortunately, his prime playing years are still ahead. He’ll be a key component in the Coyotes’ quest to end their lengthy playoff drought this season.
Latest on Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson, Zach Parise and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators winger Bobby Ryan considers himself and his family lucky after a tornado touched down within a quarter-mile of his home. A number of nearby houses and businesses were severely damaged.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators Foundation launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds to assist those affected by the tornado. The organization will match the first $25,000.00 in donations. You can find more information at this link.
CSN BAY AREA: Erik Karlsson unveiled the San Jose Sharks third jersey as he took to the ice for the first time in front of fans at SAP Center.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: A year after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc, Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is healthy and appears back up to speed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A full campaign with a healthy Parise will provide a big boost for the Wild’s playoff hopes. He was very strong down the stretch last season before being sidelined with a fractured sternum midway through the opening round of the 2018 playoffs.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed forward Miles Wood to a four-year, $11-million contract. The annual average value is $2.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wood missed the first 10 days of training camp during his contract standoff with the Devils. He gets a decent raise over his entry-level salary ($925K) for twice the length of a two-year bridge deal. With 19 goals in 76 games last season, the speedy Wood has 20-goal potential. If he can reach that potential this will be a bargain for the Devils.
AZCENTRAL.COM: If Alex Galchenyuk is forced to miss a significant amount of time with a lower-body injury to start this season, the Arizona Coyotes could be forced to employ Clayton Keller as a full-time center. While Keller’s played that position in college and amateur hockey, he’s been employed mainly as a winger with the Coyotes.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed forward Danick Martel off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Game recaps, another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, stars of the month and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals clinched the Metropolitan Division crown with a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer made 36 saves for the win. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached another milestone, playing in his 1,000th career NHL game. He was held off the score sheet in this contest. Teammate Jay Beagle left the game with an upper-body injury and is unavailable for Monday’s match against the St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 45 goals this season, Ovechkin also has three games left to reach 50 goals for the eighth time in his career.
Third-period goals by Adam Henrique and Ryan Kesler set the stage for Ondrej Kase’s overtime winner as the Anaheim Ducks overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Tyson Jost scored twice for Colorado. The win moved the Ducks (95 points) into third place in the Pacific Division, while the Avalanche (93 points) cling to a one-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Claude Giroux scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. With 94 points, the Flyers sit one point above the New Jersey Devils in the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth and within two points of second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Devils (93 points), meanwhile, got third-period goals by Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall to beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Sitting in the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot, the Devils widened their lead over the Florida Panthers by seven points, with the Panthers (77 games played) holding two games in hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a big win for the Devils, improving their chances of clinching their first playoff spot since 2012. The Panthers still have a chance to gain ground on New Jersey but their margin of error has narrowed.
Filip Forsberg scored two goals to give the Nashville Predators a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bolts captain Steven Stamkos left the game with a lower-body injury. An update on his condition is expected today. The loss put the Lightning (108 points) two points behind the Bruins for second place in the Eastern Conference standings, while the Preds (113 points) widened their lead for top spot in the Western Conference over the Vegas Golden Knights by six points.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson are the NHL’s stars of the month for March 2018. Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller was named rookie of the month.
TSN: The NHL department of player safety fined Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ian Cole $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter during a recent game.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Victor Antipin is sidelined indefinitely after suffering multiple injuries resulting from a hit from behind by Nashville Predators winger Scott Hartnell on Saturday. Antipin has a concussion, a broken nose, facial lacerations and requires dental work.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartnell received a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct but won’t face supplemental discipline. “”It was unfortunate, and I feel really bad about it,” Hartnell said. That’s cold comfort for Antipin.
Game recaps, Bruins re-sign Zdeno Chara and new NHL draft lottery odds revealed in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: A three-goal first period enabled the Toronto Maple Leafs to hold off the Florida Panthers 4-3. James van Riemsdyk tallied his 200th career NHL goal and Auston Matthews got his 30th of the season for the Leafs (99 points), who set a single-season franchise record with their 46th victory and 27th home wins, putting them on the verge of clinching a playoff berth. Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers (85 points), who remain three points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Evgeny Kuznetsov’s overtime goal gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. With the win, the Capitals (99 points) hold a seven-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
The Philadelphia Flyers (92 points) moved into third place in the Metro Division by edging the Colorado Avalanche 2-1. Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov were the Flyers’ goalscorers. The Avs (90 points) remain one point out of a Western Conference playoff berth.
A two-goal performance by Kevin Connauton helped the Arizona Coyotes nip the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2, ending the latter’s five-game points streak. The Coyotes are 9-5-1 in their last 15 games. Arizona rookie Clayton Keller collected an assist to extend his personal points streak to 10 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ struggles during the first half of the season doomed their playoff hopes, but they’ve shown considerable improvement over the second half. That bodes well for a long-overdue breakthrough performance next season.
BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins yesterday reached an agreement on a new one-year contract with defenseman and team captain Zdeno Chara. He’ll earn a base salary of $5 million with $1.75 million in performance bonuses.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a reasonable contract for the 41-year-old Chara. In 68 games, he’s tallied seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points, with a plus-minus of plus-26 while averaging a team-leading 23 minutes of ice time per game. While no longer the dominant defenseman he once was, the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder remains a very effective two-way blueliner and leader for the Bruins. Chara also serves as a mentor for young rearguards Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery will take place on Saturday, April 28. The odds are as follows:
1, 18.5%, 18.0%, 20.0%
2, 13.5%, 12.1%, 13.5%
3, 11.5%, 10.3%, 11.5%
4, 9.5%, 10.3%, 9.5%
5, 8.5%, 8.5%, 8.5%
6, 7.5%, 7.6%, 7.5%
7, 6.5%, 6.7%, 6.5%
8, 6.0%, 5.8%, 6.0%
9, 5.0%, 5.4%, 5.0%
10, 3.5%, 4.5%, 3.5%
11, 3.0%, 3.2%, 3.0%
12, 2.5%, 2.7%, 2.5%
13, 2.0%, 2.2%, 2.0%
14, 1.5%, 1.8%, 1.0%
15, 1.0%, 0.9%
Game recaps, three stars of the week plus updates on Nick Foligno, Rick Nash, Johnny Gaudreau and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: William Karlsson tallied his 40th goal of the season as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, becoming the fifth NHL club to clinch a playoff spot this season. The Golden Knights (103 points) sit atop the Pacific Division.
Alex Ovechkin tallied his 45th goal of the season as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. With 97 points, the Capitals widened their lead atop the Metropolitan Division by five points over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The San Jose Sharks picked up their eighth consecutive win by edging the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on shootout goals by Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc. The Sharks (97 points) hold a six-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division.
Jonathan Quick turned in a 23-save shutout effort backstopping the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames, officially eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Anze Kopitar and Dion Phaneuf each had a goal and an assist for the Kings (91 points), who hold the first-wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Avs (90 points) sit in the second wild-card spot, one point up on the St. Louis Blues. The Flames, meanwhile, were playing without winger Johnny Gaudreau. He’s in New Jersey with his father, who’s recovering from a heart attack.
The Florida Panthers (85 points) moved to within a point of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by blanking the New York Islanders 3-0. James Reimer made 32 saves while teammates Keith Yandle and Evgenii Dadonov each had two points. With the loss, the Islanders are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Islanders forward Casey Cizikas missed the game with an upper-body injury.
The Carolina Hurricanes kept their slim playoff hopes alive by downing the Ottawa Senators 4-1. With 79 points, the Hurricanes sit seven points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Clayton Keller set the Arizona Coyotes’ rookie goal scoring record by helping his club upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Keller had a goal and an assist, giving him 23 goals and 61 points this season.
Unanswered third-period goals by Casey Nelson and Jack Eichel lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs, snapping the latter’s 13-game home winning streak. Eichel collected two goals in this games.
Brendan Gallagher scored twice to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Gallagher reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen and Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor were the NHL stars for the week ending March 25, 2018.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno is sidelined two-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury.
BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins remain mum on the status of winger Rick Nash, who is expected to miss his fifth straight game when his club meets the Winnipeg Jets tonight.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins gave up a lot to acquire Nash from the New York Rangers before last month’s NHL trade deadline. His ongoing absence is generating speculation over the severity of the injury and how long he could be sidelined.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson had some harsh words for Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand. Johansson has only recently returned to practice after suffering a concussion from a blindside hit by Marchand on Jan. 23, called the Bruins winger’s actions “sad” and “stupid”. “There was no hockey play there whatsoever. I think it’s sad to see that there’s still guys out there that are trying to hurt other guys. I think there’s nothing else to say about it.” He added that he hopes Marchand doesn’t end someone’s career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand’s received several fines and suspensions over his career for his dirty play but nothing seems to deter him. Seems to be the case for elite players like him. If he was a marginally talented fourth liner, his punishments would likely be much worse.
YAHOO SPORTS: Former NHL enforcer and current sports radio personality Georges Laraque has apologized for recent comments claiming the Edmonton Oilers traded winger Taylor Hall because he’d gone through a stint in rehab. “After further verifications I can say that this information was 100% wrong, I was wrong and apologize to Taylor for the mistake,” tweet Laraque.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laraque should’ve gotten that additional verification first before blurting it out during a radio interview. This makes him look very unprofessional and damages his credibility.
CHATHAM DAILY NEWS: Former NHL forward Ken Houston died of cancer on March 10. He was 64. Houston spent nine seasons in the NHL from 1975-76 to 1983-84 with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings. Seven of those seasons were spent with the Flames. He exceeded the 20-goal plateau six times and finished with 328 points in 570 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Houston’s family, friends and former teammates.