2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists
The Calder Trophy and Adams Award finalists revealed, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Shea Weber, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE
NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar are the finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy honoring this season’s rookie-of-the-year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik was a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks this season, become the leading goal-scorer (30) among this season’s rookie class, but he will be overshadowed by Hughes and Makar. During the first half of this season, Makar seemed a lock for the Calder, but Hughes steadily came on throughout the season. The Canucks blueliner leads this season’s rookies in assists (45), points (53), and power-play points (25) while sitting second in ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.
Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault are this season’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award honoring the league’s top head coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s Bruins were the NHL’s top team during the regular season. Tortorella’s efforts helped his injury-ravaged Blue Jackets remain a playoff contender. Vigneault guided the Flyers to their first best performance (second in the Metropolitan Division) since 2010-11. Tortorella is a two-time winner (2003-04, 2016-17) of the Adams Award while Vigneault took home the award in 2006-07.
NHL TRAINING CAMP NOTES
THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine admits he’s not quite up to speed following his lengthy layoff. “Still kind of far away,” he told reporters yesterday. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine won’t be the only NHL player trying to shake off the rust and return to game shape following a four-month layoff. He said he’s trying to make the most of it and hopes to be game-ready when the puck drops.
TRIBLIVE.COM: There are mixed reports regarding Matt Murray’s performance in the opening three days of Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. Mark Madden cites sources claiming Tristan Jarry is outplaying Murray, but Seth Rorabaugh (who’s covering the Penguins’ training camp) said he’d seen no difference in play between the two. Rorabaugh observed Murray is more often between the pipes when facing some of the Penguins’ top players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s restricted free agent status at season’s end ensures he’ll be closely watched in practice and the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been the subject of frequent trade speculation this season. His performance will determine his future with the Penguins.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak joined his teammates for his first practice since completing his mandatory quarantine period after returning from the Czech Republic.
CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his training camp debut before the weekend. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed issue.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to full practice Wednesday. He’d spent Tuesday doing drills on his own.
CANES COUNTRY: Sami Vatanen is healthy and looking forward to making an impact with the Carolina Hurricanes in the upcoming playoff tournament. The Hurricanes acquired the 29-year-old defenseman near the trade deadline, but an injury prevented him from suiting up with his new team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Dougie Hamilton recovered from a broken leg, he and Vatanen will provide a much-needed boost to the Hurricanes’ defense corps, especially if Brett Pesce (shoulder surgery) remains unable to participate.
NBC SPORTS: The pause in the schedule proved to be a silver lining for a banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets lineup, allowing sidelined players such as Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Cam Atkinson an opportunity to recover.
CALGARY SUN: Flames bench boss Geoff Ward denies he’s split up some of his roster over fitness-related issues. Johnny Gaudreau’s removal from the Flames’ top line raised eyebrows this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s clampdown on the players’ medical status only stokes speculation over the motivation behind such moves.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs were told to stop using on-ice officials during their practices following complaints from rival clubs.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks officially signed defenseman Ian Mitchell to a three-year, entry-level contract beginning next season. He would’ve had the first year of his ELC burned off if he’d joined his teammates for Phase 3 training camp.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former Carolina Hurricanes TV announcer John Forslund will be freelancing for NBC Sports during the upcoming playoff tournament. His status with the Hurricanes remains uncertain since his contract expired last month.
The NHL considers its options as the NBA suspends its season over coronavirus concerns, plus game recaps and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The National Hockey League will provide an update on its season later today regarding coronavirus concerns. The league released a statement last night indicating its awareness of the National Basketball Association’s decision to suspend its season indefinitely after a player tested positive for the virus. NHL officials will continue to consult with medical officials and evaluating options. It is also in close contact with the NHL Players Association.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the league is expected to hold a conference call with all 31 clubs today.
SPORTSNET: While the league hasn’t yet decided on suspending its season, Chris Johnston believes it wouldn’t be surprising if it followed the NBA’s lead. “How can they reasonably play on with the virus spreading quickly in North America?”, asked Johnston. Even if the league held games in empty arenas, it might not be enough to guarantee the safety of the players and officials. Johnston also raised concern over whether the NHL can award a Stanley Cup champion this season, noting several European leagues have scrapped their seasons over COVID-19 concerns.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports playing games without fans would have consequences for league revenue this season, in turn affecting the salary cap for 2020-21. The NHL is the most gate-reliant for revenue among the four major North American sports leagues.
THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith attempted to find some humor over the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. “I played in an empty building for a couple of years in Florida so I’m used to it,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league addresses this situation. The Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks already announced it would play several upcoming home games without fans. The league could go that route with all its clubs on a week-by-week basis, they could postpone the remaining schedule by two or three weeks or suspend it indefinitely.
Whatever the league decides, it will affect hockey-related revenue for this season. It’s probably safe to assume those rosy projections of the cap rising next season to between $84 million to $88 million can be scrapped.
NHL.COM: Alex Pietrangelo scored twice to lead the St. Louis Blues over the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 to complete the game that was postponed last month after Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident. With the win, the Blues (94 points) hold a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first overall in the Western Conference.
An overtime goal by J.T. Compher lifted the Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Cale Makar collected three assists for the Avs in his return to the lineup following a five-game absence to an upper-body injury The Rangers (79 points) sit two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Earlier in the day, the Avs announced center Nathan MacKinnon was sidelined one-two weeks with a lower-body injury.
The Winnipeg Jets picked up their fourth straight win by doubling up the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Kyle Connor scored two goals for the Jets (80 points), moving two points ahead of the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Oilers (83 points) remain three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.
Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied his 30th goal of the season in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Kubalik leads all NHL rookies in goals this season. Patrick Kane scored twice for the Hawks.
The Los Angeles Kings picked up their seventh straight win by edging the Ottawa Senators 3-2. The Kings have won 10 of their last 13 contests.
IN OTHER NEWS…
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights with 32 goals and 66 points.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens sophomore center Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s season is over following an injured spleen suffered on Friday playing for the Habs’ AHL affliate.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Filip Zadina’s attempt to return from an ankle injury has been delayed by a mid-body injury. The Wings are hoping it won’t be season-ending for the young winger.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers center Nate Thompson will be sidelined for two weeks with a sprained left knee.
PHWA midseason award winners, All-Star Game skills competition participants announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association announced their 2019-20 Midseason NHL Award winners. Among them are Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (Hart Trophy), Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (Norris Trophy), Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Vezina Trophy), and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (Calder Trophy). The PWHA also named Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander as their comeback player of the year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring serious injury or a significant decline in performance, McDavid is a lock for the Hart, Carlson for the Norris, and Makar for the Calder. Hellebuyck’s had an outstanding first half, but he’s struggled of late, which could affect his Vezina chances over the remainder of the season.
Participants for the skills competition for the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis were announced yesterday.
CALGARY SUN: The upcoming All-Star game is a family affair for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk and Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk. The brothers grew up watching their father Keith play for the St. Louis Blues in the early 2000s until his retirement in 2010.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The effects of Kendall Coyne Schofield’s participation in the skills competition at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game are examined in a new documentary.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Plattner voiced his support of general manager Doug Wilson despite the club’s disappointing season. “While we are all very disappointed in the team’s performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success,” said Plattner. He pointed to the club’s quick turnaround under Wilson after missing the playoffs in 2015.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Plattner’s confidence of Wilson, but I think the Sharks GM is facing the biggest challenge of his management career. He’s saddled himself with expensive veterans and doesn’t have much to draw upon in the prospect pipeline for trade bait.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs assigned defenseman Jake Muzzin to their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin’s imminent return is good news for a Leafs blueline that’s struggled in his absence.
CBS SPORTS: The Pittsburgh Penguins activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve.
TSN: Marc Methot believes his playing career has come to an end. He underwent knee surgery a year ago while with the Dallas Stars, but the knee continues giving him pain. The 13-year NHL veteran spent five seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Methot said he hasn’t made an official decision yet on his future.
Game recaps, Alex Ovechkin to skip the 2020 All-Star Game, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins center Patrick Bergeron enjoyed his third straight two-goal game in a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves for the shutout. The Bruins played without defenseman Torey Krug, who suffered an upper-body injury earlier in the week. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.
An own goal in overtime by New Jersey Devils blueliner Damon Severson gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 victory. Leafs forwards John Tavares and William Nylander each had a goal and two assists, as did Devils forwards Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt. Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev left the game in the third period with a wrist injury after being accidentally clipped by Bratt’s skate blade. Earlier in the day, the Leafs revealed forward Trevor Moore is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That goal pretty much symbolized the Devils’ season. They played well enough to win this one, only to lose it bizarrely.
T.J. Oshie’s scored in overtime as the Washington Capitals nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Earlier in the day, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin announced he’ll skip the 2020 NHL All-Star Game next month in St. Louis. Ovechkin thanked the fans for voting him captain of the Metropolitan Division, but felt he needs the extra time to rest and prepare for the second half of the season. He’ll receive an automatic one-game suspension by the league.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if other players follow Ovechkin’s lead.
The Calgary Flames won the latest match in the Battle of Alberta by thumping the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Andrew Mangiapane had a three-point game while teammates Elias Lindholm and T.J. Brodie had two points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just four wins their last 15 games, the Oilers have slid from first place in the Pacific Division at the start of December to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Flames, meanwhile, have won 10 of their last 15.
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner won his first game against his former club in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. He made 38 saves as the Blackhawks are 4-2-0 in their last six contests. Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome each picked up two assists.
New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist kicked out 39 shots backstopping his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3. Mika Zibanejad scored twice and picked up an assist while Artemi Panarin scored and set up two others for the Rangers.
The Minnesota Wild tallied three unanswered third-period goals to down the Colorado Avalanche 6-4. Wild forward Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala each collected two points while Avalanche winger Matt Calvert scored twice. Avs rookie defenseman Cale Makar returned to action after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.
Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry turned aside 30 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Penguins have won five of their last six games.
David Perron’s overtime goal gave the St. Louis Blues their seventh straight win as they downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-4. Tyler Bozak scored twice and Jaden Schwartz picked up three assists. Kyle Connor tallied twice for the Jets.
Three goals within a 1:37 span in the second period enabled the Anaheim Ducks to hang onto a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Cam Fowler and Devin Shore each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. Nate Schmidt tallied twice for the Golden Knights.
The Los Angeles Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jeff Carter. Martin Frk scored twice for the Kings. Sharks center Joe Thornton netted his first goal of the season. Earlier in the day, the Kings placed forward Trevor Lewis (upper body) on injured reserve.
IN OTHER NEWS…
YARDBARKER: Former Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk is ineligible to play in the KHL for the remainder of this season.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha is sidelined at least a month with a rib injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forwards Joel Armia (wrist injury) and Paul Byron (knee) are listed as week-to-week. Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is slated to return to action tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning after missing eight games with a concussion.