Where Are They Now? 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins
Chris Kunitz retires, the Lightning ship Ryan Callahan to the Senators, fallout from the Wild firing GM Paul Fenton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: After 15 NHL seasons, winger Chris Kunitz is hanging up his skates and will become a player development advisor for the Chicago Blackhawks. He played for the Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Blackhawks.
Kunitz won four Stanley Cups, one with the Ducks and three with the Penguins, amassing 268 goals and 619 points in 1,022 games. He was also a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Kunitz in his new job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a straightforward salary dump by the Lightning. Callahan has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. A degenerative back injury has brought about the end of his playing career.
Rather than go through the salary-cap complications of placing Callahan on long-term injury reserve, the Bolts ship out his cap hit and give themselves over $11 million in salary-cap space. That should be enough to re-sign restricted free agents Brayden Point and Adam Erne to new contracts. However, the Bolts now have to address a logjam between the crease. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.
The Senators, meanwhile, can afford to take on Callahan’s cap hit. Thanks to insurance, they’ll only pay over $940K.
THE SCORE: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Minnesota Wild are believed to have sought permission from the Philadelphia Flyers to speak with Ron Hextall regarding their now-vacant role of general manager. The Wild yesterday relieved GM Paul Fenton of his duties and are seeking a full-time replacement. Hextall was the Flyers GM from 2014 to 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall probably isn’t the only former NHL general manager the Wild could be interested in. It’ll be interesting to see how many they interview and how long it takes to announce Fenton’s replacement.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser’s father is once again battling lung cancer. He was previously diagnosed in 2017. The cancer returned six weeks ago and has spread to his liver and bones. A blood clot triggered heart failure on Monday, placing him into intensive care in critical condition.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Boeser’s dad makes a full recovery.
SPORTSNET: As expected, Calgary’s city council approved a 35-year arena deal with the Flames to replace the 36-year-old Saddledome.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Vladislav Kamenev to a one-year, $750K contract.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes announced Patrick Dwyer is the new assistant coach of their AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
THE DENVER POST: Former NHL defenseman Mike Christie passed away on July 11 of kidney disease at age 69. A standout defenseman with the University of Denver.
Christie spent seven seasons in the NHL from 1974-75 to 1980-81 with the California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, Colorado Rockies, and Vancouver Canucks. He netted 116 points in 412 games and was captain of the Rockies in 1979-80.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Christie’s family, friends, and former teammates.
The highlights from the opening round of the 2019 draft, the home-opening schedule for 2019-20 revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils selected American center Jack Hughes with the first-overall selection in the opening round of the 2019 NHL Draft. Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko was taken second overall by the New York Rangers.
A record-setting seven players from USA Hockey’s Under-18 team from the National Team Development Program were selected among the top 15 picks. Overall, eight players from NTDP were taken in the opening round. Click this link for the complete list of picks.
Rounds two through seven will be held today at 1 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was only one trade (a swap of first-round picks between the Arizona Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers) in this round. Despite considerable speculation, no established NHL players were traded in this round. For the first time in 33 years, no players from the OHL were selected in the top-10 of the first round.
The biggest surprise saw the Detroit Red Wings select German defenseman Moritz Seider. High-scoring right wing Cole Caufield dropped into the Montreal Canadiens’ lap at No. 15. Vasily Podkolzin, selected with the 10th overall selection by the Vancouver Canucks, was the only Russian player taken in the opening round.
The Tampa Bay Lightning selected left win Nolan Foote with the 27th pick. He joins brother Cal Foote, who was taken by the Bolts with the 14th overall selection in 2017. Both are the sons of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote. Center Dylan Cozens, taken seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres, is the first Yukon-born player in NHL history to be selected in the first round.
Before the start of the opening round, the league released the home-opening schedules for its 31 teams. It begins on Oct. 2 with the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues facing off against the Washington Capitals.
During his introductory remarks, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman revealed Daniel and Henrik Sedin will have their numbers retired by the Vancouver Canucks next February. The twins were onstage with Bettman at Rogers Arena when the announcement was made.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well-deserved honors for the two greatest players in Canucks history.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks announced former winger Alex Burrows to their Ring of Honour. He will join Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Harold Snepsts, Thomas Gradin, Pat Quinn and Mattias Ohlund.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Former Penguins winger Chris Kunitz is said to be considering retiring as an active player and go into coaching. The 40-year-old winger spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, netting 10 points in 56 games. He’s a four-time Stanley Cup winner, including three with the Penguins.
Recaps of the final games of the 2018-19 season, first-round playoff matchups set, Nikita Kucherov wins Art Ross Trophy, Bob Cole signs off, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the league record for most wins in a season (62) by defeating the Boston Bruins 6-3. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied a goal and set up another to finish the season with 128 points, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer and scoring the most points in one season by a Russian-born player. The Lightning will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Montreal Canadiens center Ryan Poehling scored his first NHL goal, collected his first big-league hat trick, and tallied his first game-winning and shootout goals in a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite Poehling’s four-goal debut, the Canadiens missed the playoffs with 96 points. The Leafs go on to face the Bruins in the opening round. This game was also the last for Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole. The 85-year-old is retiring following a 50-year career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Growing up in the 1970s, Danny Gallivan was my favorite hockey play-by-play man. After Gallivan’s retirement in 1984, Cole became the voice of Saturday night for me. So many great games, so many memories. For me, the best game he ever called was Game Five of the 1984 Patrick Division semi-final between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.
Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl reached the 50-goal plateau for the first time in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. His achievement was overshadowed by team captain Connor McDavid leaving the game with an injured left leg. X-rays revealed no broken bones but he’s slated for an MRI on Monday. The Flames, meanwhile, will face the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round.
Sidney Crosby reached 100 points for the sixth time in his career but his Pittsburgh Penguins were nipped 4-3 by the New York Rangers in overtime. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time. Ryan Strome scored the winning goal for the Rangers. The Penguins will face off against the New York Islanders in the first round.
The Islanders, meanwhile, got a 29-save shutout from Robin Lehner and two goals by Valtteri Filppula as they blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the league’s lowest goals-against average. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin finished the season with 51 goals to win his eighth career Rocket Richard Trophy. He also set a record by leading the league in goals for the eighth time.
Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson set a franchise record for most goals in a season (34) as his club downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, whose first-round opponent will be the Dallas Stars. Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz, 39, is a free agent this summer and uncertain of what his NHL future might be.
Ben Bishop set a Dallas Stars record with the highest single-season save percentage (.934) and Tyler Seguin scored two goals to blank the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is hopeful of returning behind the bench next season. He’s got a year remaining on his contract and there’s no indication the club is considering a coaching change.
Shootout goals by Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues will face off against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice as the Columbus Blue Jackets romped to a 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Oliver Bjorkstrand also had a three-point night for the Blue Jackets, who’ll face the Lightning in the opening round.
Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner scored twice to reach the 40-goal mark for the first time as his club thumped the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall said he hasn’t made up his mind yet if he’ll return for another season. The 38-year-old had one of his healthiest seasons in years, prompting speculation he might have one more season left in him.
Aleksander Barkov set a Florida Panthers record by reaching 96 points in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Nathan Bastian scored two goals and Travis Zajac netted the game-winner.
Carolina Hurricanes forwards Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as their club nipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. The Hurricanes’ opening-round opponent will be the Washington Capitals.
Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor each tallied a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. The Jets will open the playoffs at home against the Blues.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals to give the Los Angeles Kings a season-ending 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, who dropped seven of their final eight regular-season contests. The Golden Knights face off against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round.
Erik Karlsson returned to the San Jose Sharks lineup for the first time since Feb. 26 in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. He was held pointless but skated over 22 minutes and finished the night with a plus-minus of plus-three.
The complete 2019 Stanley Cup playoff bracket can be found here.
Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Panthers goalie James Reimer made 41 saves for the win. Earlier in the day, the Panthers activated forward Jayce Hawryluk and placed MacKenzie Weegar on injured reserve.
Goaltender Tomas Greiss made 31 saves and Casey Cizikas scored twice as the New York Islanders blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. The Isles (74 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard commemorated his 500th career NHL game by kicking out 40 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou scored twice and Frans Nielsen potted the game-winner. Earlier in the day, Wings forward Martin Frk cleared waivers and was demoted to their AHL affiliate.
Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy tied a franchise record with his 17th shutout in a 6-0 drubbing of the Dallas Stars. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored twice and added an assist while NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov (92) points widened his lead with a four-point effort. The Bolts are also the first team to reach 90 points this season. Stars defenseman John Klingberg left the game in the third period after blocking a shot with his left leg. He underwent x-rays and coach Jim Montgomery thinks he’s okay but couldn’t say for certain.
Brian Boyle’s first goal with the Nashville Predators proved to be the winning goal in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne made 34 stops as his club ended a three-game losing skid.
The Colorado Avalanche snapped an eight-game losing streak by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. With the win, the Avalanche (57 points) sit two points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane extended his points streak to 16 games and set a franchise record by collecting an assist in 15 consecutive contests in a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Kane had three points in the game as the Blackhawks (57 points) also sit two points behind the Wild. In a pregame ceremony, the Blackhawks honored winger Chris Kunitz for playing in his 1,000th career game.
The streaking St. Louis Blues picked up their eighth consecutive victory by shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 4-0. Jordan Binnington stopped 21 shots and Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice for the Blues (69 points), who rose to third place in the Central Division. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed Michael Bunting on waivers.
Auston Matthews scored twice, including his 100th career goal, as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Vegas Golden Knights 6-3.
Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser scored in the shootout as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Earlier in the day, the Canucks placed defenseman Chris Tanev (ankle) on injured reserve. The Canucks (59 points) are tied with the Wild but the latter, with one extra win and two games in hand, holds the final Western wild-card spot.
T.J. Oshie scored twice and Alex Ovechkin netted his league-leading 39th goal to give the Washington Capitals a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak.
Updates on the Flyers and Kings plus the latest on Artemi Panarin and Chris Kunitz in today’s NHL rumor mill.
FLYERS COULD BE BUSY IN THE COMING MONTHS
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports a new contract for Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds doesn’t appear likely. General manager Chuck Fletcher won’t get into details other than saying he’s spoken with Simmonds and his representatives. Boruk believes Simmonds seeks a long-term deal while the Flyers appear reluctant to make that investment. Factor in reports Simmonds could be highly-prized on the trade market and Boruk believes Simmonds will be traded.
Fletcher also suggested no one other than team captain Claude Giroux is untouchable. “We have a lot of good players here, but I would never say never to almost anybody besides Giroux,” Fletcher said, adding he could be a buyer and a seller leading up to the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline. The Flyers GM also added he’ll attempt to move veteran forward Dale Weise in a package deal. Boruk speculates the Flyers could absorb part of Weise’s salary.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Donnellon reports Flyers chairman Dave Scott indicated Fletcher also intends to be active in this summer’s NHL free-agent market. Scott said the Flyers will be “cap spenders” this summer to build the best team possible.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited insider Bob McKenzie discussing the Flyers on Montreal’s TSN 690 yesterday. Asked if the Flyers might move a defenseman like Shayne Gostisbehere, McKenzie said he doesn’t feel there’s an agenda to move the blueliner out of Philadelphia. He believes they’re willing to listen to offers on almost everyone.
As for possible Flyers trade targets, McKenzie said they’d like to add a veteran goalie to mentor promising Carter Hart, a veteran top-four defenseman to insulate some of their younger rearguards, and a veteran forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher might be willing to listen to offers on everyone but Giroux but I think it’s safe to say Hart is close to untouchable. Sure sounds like Simmonds will be a goner unless he’s willing to accept a short-term extension.
I doubt Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million annually through 2023-24) will be going anywhere, in part because of his hefty contract. Ditto James van Riemsdyk ($7 million annually through 2022-23). Sean Couturier ($4.33 million annually through 2021-22) could also be safe, as well as youngsters Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, and Ivan Provorov.
Of course, Fletcher will listen to offers for those guys and could pull the trigger if he gets one too good to pass up. Nevertheless, I’ll be very surprised if any of the aforementioned (other than Simmonds) are skating elsewhere by the start of next season.
Weise is signed through 2019-20 with an annual average value of $2.35 million. They might have to pick up part of that to move him even in a package deal.
The Flyers have over $47.9 million invested in 12 players for 2019-20 and could have more if they shed another salary or two before the summer. Even by re-signing restricted free agents like Provorov and Konecny, they’ll still have plenty of cap room to make a big splash in next summer’s UFA market.
PANARIN WON’T TALK CONTRACT THIS SEASON
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports the agent for Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin released a statement yesterday indicating they’ve informed the club of their unwillingness to discuss a contract during the season. Panarin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is expected to comment on the situation today.
Hedger believes the Jackets now have two options: trading Panarin by the Feb. 25 trade deadline or trying to re-sign him before July 1. The latter is risky as they could lose him to free agency for nothing. Last week, team president John Davidson said his club will have some things to take care of “one way or another” before the trade deadline.
THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required): Aaron Portzline believes the Blue Jackets will likely move Panarin before the trade deadline. He noted the Jackets fielded offers last summer but didn’t receive anything that could replace the winger’s offensive production. Panarin lacks no-trade protection and can be moved anywhere without his permission.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still have my doubt that they’ll trade Panarin before the deadline. They could make that move if they can land a suitable replacement but that return could be difficult to find. Moving him without getting some immediate offensive help could hurt their hopes for a lengthy playoff run this spring.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE KINGS?
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Los Angeles Kings trading defenseman Jake Muzzin last night to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lisa Dillman wondered who they could trade next. She noted forwards Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli frequently surfaced in the trade market. Carter could be reluctant to leave but the younger Toffoli has a more attractive $4.6 million annual salary. Winger Carl Hagelin is on an expiring contract and could be a rental player. Defenseman Alec Martinez could also draw some interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams with interest in Carter will have to ensure he’d be willing to join them. Toffoli is probably their most attractive trade chip. With Muzzin gone, the Kings might prefer hanging onto Martinez. Hagelin could become a cheap rental, perhaps for a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick.
Don’t see why Kunitz would waive his NMC. He’s got 3 small kids, came to Chicago to stay put and already has four rings. Plus, he might be healthy scratched where he goes anyway. https://t.co/u81PMlsQaM
— Jimmy Greenfield (@jcgreenx) January 24, 2019