10 NHL Rookies To Watch This Month
Recaps from another busy night of action and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron scored two goals as the Boston Bruins defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 to sweep their two-game series. The Bruins have now won four in a row. Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was forced to leave the game with a lower-body injury.
2020 first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere’s first career NHL goal came in overtime as the New York Rangers snapped their five-game winless skid by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist for the Rangers while Sabres winger Sam Reinhart also had a goal and an assist.
The Philadelphia Flyers swept their two-game series with the New Jersey Devils with a 3-1 victory. Goaltender Carter Hart made 33 saves for the win while teammate Claude Giroux netted his first goal of the season.
John Carlson scored the game-winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the New York Islanders 6-3. Conor Sheary scored twice and Zdeno Chara tallied his first goal with the Capitals as they extended their points streak to eight games. Islanders captain Anders Lee played his 500th career NHL game while teammate Josh Bailey (872 games) tied Clark Gillies for fourth on the Islanders all-time list.
The Carolina Hurricanes nipped the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 on an overtime goal by Martin Necas. It was the Hurricanes’ first game since Jan. 18 after several players wound up on the club’s COVID-19 protocol list.
A shootout goal by Alexandre Texier lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Florida Panthers 3-2, snapping the latter’s three-game win streak. Max Domi and Mikko Koivu each tallied their first goals with the Jackets.
The Montreal Canadiens remain unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) after doubling up the Calgary Flames 4-2 in their first home game of the season. Tyler Toffoli tallied a shorthanded goal while Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jonathan Drouin each had two assists.
A three-goal first period powered the Minnesota Wild over the Los Angeles Kings 5-3. Marcus Johansson had a goal and an assist while teammate Kevin Fiala was ejected for boarding Kings defenseman Matt Roy, who left the game and was still being evaluated by the game’s end. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty each had two points for the Kings.
The Dallas Stars are 4-0-0 to start the season after defeating the Detroit Red Wings 7-3. Goaltender Jake Oettinger made 20 saves for his first career NHL victory. Miro Heiskanen and Denis Gurianov each had three-point performances for the Stars. Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier left the game in the second period following a collision with teammate Anthony Mantha.
Philipp Grubauer’s 21-save shutout performance backstopped the Colorado Avalanche over the San Jose Sharks 3-0. Nazem Kadri scored twice for the Avalanche.
The Arizona Coyotes nipped the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 thanks to a two-goal performance by Christian Dvorak.
Braden Holtby turned aside 36 shots to give the Vancouver Canucks a 4-1 victory over the slumping Ottawa Senators to sweep their three-game series. Brock Boeser scored twice and set up another for the Canucks. The Senators have dropped seven straight games.
Auston Matthews snapped a 3-3 tie with a power-play goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Jason Spezza had a goal and an assist for the Leafs while Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Oilers. The Leafs have won four straight games.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights game against the St. Louis Blues was postponed due to some recent positive COVID-19 tests within the organization. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was added to their COVID-19 protocol list.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed defenseman Madison Bowey to a one-year, two-way contract.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Former Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard officially announced his retirement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports of Howard’s retirement plans circulated last week. He spent his entire NHL career with the Wings. Best of luck to him and his family in their future endeavors.
Recaps of Thursday’s action and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid had a hat trick and Leon Draisaitl had four assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored twice for the Oilers and added an assist while Mikko Koskinen made 38 saves for the win. The Oilers peppered Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko with 46 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins seemed determined to make amends for their unproductive efforts in the Oilers’ 5-3 loss to the Canucks the night before. They were the best players on the ice in this game.
Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club edged the Calgary Flames 4-3. Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists for the Jets. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm replied for the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine doesn’t appear to be troubled by the trade rumors dogging him since last fall. If this game is any indication, the 22-year-old sniper could have one of the best seasons of his career.
The New York Islanders spoiled the NHL debut of Alexis Lafreniere by blanking the New York Rangers 4-0. Anders Lee scored twice while Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves for the shutout. Rangers center Mika Zibanejad played over 19 minutes after recovering from COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lafreniere, the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, saw 15:21 of ice time with one shot on goal and a two-minute hooking penalty that led to Lee’s second goal. Overall, the Rangers played poorly in this contest as the Isles took an early 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Peter Laviolette picked up his first win as head coach of the Washington Capitals as his club hung on to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-4. T.J. Oshie had a three-point night (one goal, two assists), Alex Ovechkin collected two assists while Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Sabres while teammate Eric Staal left the game in the third period after he was hit in the head by the Capitals’ Nic Dowd. Staal is listed as day-to-day.
Brad Marchand opened the scoring and ended it with a shootout goal as the Boston Bruins nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Devils center Jack Hughes collected two assists while teammate Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves.
Filip Forsberg snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period as the Nashville Predators went on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Juuse Saros kicked out 29 shots for the Predators.
Mark Stone scored a goal and set up another in his first game as Vegas Golden Knights captain, leading them to a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Alex Pietrangelo had a team-leading 25:40 of ice time and collected an assist in his debut with the Golden Knights. Max Comtois scored twice for the Ducks.
A shootout goal by Logan Couture gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks had a 3-1 lead in the third but the Coyotes rallied to tie it on goals by Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel. Tomas Hertl scored twice for the Sharks and picked up an assist while teammate Evander Kane had a goal and two assists.
Kirill Kaprizov made an impressive NHL debut with two assists and a breakaway overtime goal to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar each had two points for the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov was the star of the game as he seemed to have little difficulty adjusting to the NHL pace. He’s among the top rookies for watch in this season’s race for the Calder Memorial Trophy.
The Carolina Hurricanes opened their season by shutting out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Dzingel and Andrei Svechnikov were the goal scorers while Petr Mrazek made 14 saves for the shutout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ margin of victory would’ve been larger if not for a 40-save performance by Wings goalie Thomas Greiss, who got little help from his teammates in this contest.
IN OTHER NOTABLE NEWS…
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks placed Jonathan Toews (illness) and Kirby Dach (wrist surgery) on long-term injury reserve and placed defenseman Brent Seabrook (back) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews going on LTIR indicates his mysterious illness will keep him out of the lineup much longer than anticipated.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Sammy Blais received a two-way suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews on Wednesday. Toews left the game but returned and afterward said he suffered no lingering effects from the hit.
TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers yesterday just two days after claiming him from the Edmonton Oilers.
CBS SPORTS: The Sharks placed defenseman Radim Simek (undisclosed) on injured reserve.
The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Devils’ options to replace Corey Crawford, and an update on the Islanders in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers would have to pay a “painful cost” to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center reportedly seeks a trade despite recently signing a two-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Brooks said the Rangers are monitoring Dubois’ situation. He believes the Jackets will want a center in return, suggesting the Blueshirts might have to part with Filip Chytil as part of the return. He also thinks the Jackets would want Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko in the deal. Brooks suggests K’Andre Miller, Matthew Robertson, Tony DeAngelo or Vitaly Kravtsov could also interest the Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Jackets would want a player who can improve their roster immediately. Maybe they’d be tempted to accept a package of young Rangers’ players/prospects if Lafreniere were part of the deal, but I don’t see the Blueshirts moving him or Kakko. Perhaps the Jackets would accept a package of young players and/or prospects if they could flip some of them to another club for an impact center.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons said if he were New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello he’d trade recently-signed Mathew Barzal to the Jackets for Dubois. While Barzal is the better offensive player, Dubois is bigger, less expensive and plays a better three-zone game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: But Lamoriello isn’t Simmons and he’s not going to trade Barzal for Dubois. It would be a little risky for the Isles as we don’t know if Dubois would commit beyond next season to staying on Long Island.
THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak examines the New Jersey Devils’ options to replace Corey Crawford. The 36-year-old goaltender announced his retirement yesterday.
For now, their tandem will be starter Mackenzie Blackwood with Scott Wedgewood as the backup. Masisak points out the external options aren’t ideal, with Jimmy Howard as the only goalie in the unrestricted free agent market who won a game in the NHL last season. Howard won just two of 27 appearances with a .882 save percentage with the Detroit Red Wings.
There were reports earlier in the offseason that the Vegas Golden Knights were looking to trade Marc-Andre Fleury but Masisak felt they had time to find a suitable backup by then. He wonders if the Arizona Coyotes might promote Adin Hill and listen to offers for Antti Raanta, who has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.25 million.
The waiver wire could be another option. The Toronto Maple Leafs placed Michael Hutchinson on waivers yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils could start the season with the Blackwood-Wedgewood tandem and see how things unfold. It’ll be interesting to see if they pluck someone off waivers. The fact no one signed Howard by now suggests he has little value to NHL clubs.
If the Devils opt for a trade they have plenty of salary-cap space to take on Raanta’s cap hit if the Coyotes want to move him. Fleury, meanwhile, isn’t available. The Golden Knights intend to start this season with Fleury and Robin Lehner splitting their goalie duties.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was trying to trade a player in order to sign Mathew Barzal to a long-term extension. However, it appears no team was willing to take on Thomas Hickey or Leo Komarov with budgets tight and the start of the season fast approaching. Barzal yesterday inked a three-year, $21 million contract with the Isles.