NHL Gold & Mold: Ovechkin passes Lemieux, Manning suspended for racial slur
Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville returns to Chicago, Artemi Panarin to miss the upcoming NHL All-Star Game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville made a triumphant return to Chicago as his club edged the Blackhawks 4-3. Quenneville, who coached the Hawks from 2008-09 to 2018-19, was honored by the club during the game. The Panthers’ victory was powered by Frank Vatrano’s hat trick, giving them six straight wins. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Patrick Kane for reaching 1,000 career points. Earlier in the day, eyebrows were raised when Blackhawks’ stars Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith had a physical altercation during practice. Toews downplayed the incident as “just some friendly wrestling.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers (61 points) maintain their hold on third place in the Atlantic Division, while the Blackhawks (54 points) remain three points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Justin Williams scored two goals to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Teuvo Teravainen collected three points while Andrei Svechnikov had two assists. The slumping Jets have dropped three in a row.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Williams doesn’t look rusty after taking over half the season off. His return seems to have provided an extra spark for the Hurricanes. The Jets, meanwhile, are three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.
The New York Islanders doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Thomas Greiss made 40 saves and Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists. Isles center Mathew Barzal was benched during the third period by coach Barry Trotz for not playing within the team framework. Rangers all-star winger Artemi Panarin missed this game with an upper-body injury. He’ll be replaced at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star game by teammate Chris Kreider.
Third-period goals by Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Brian Elliott had a 19-save shutout as the Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0. The Flyers have won four of their last five contests.
SUN-SENTINEL: The 2021 NHL All-Star Game will reportedly be hosted by the Florida Panthers.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha could miss the remainder of the season with an injured rib cage and shoulder. His last game was Dec. 21 against Toronto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 24 points in 29 games, Mantha was on his way to eclipsing last season’s 25-goal, 48-point performance in 67 games. His absence is among the reasons behind the Wings’ struggles this season.
CBS SPORTS: Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee on a conditioning stint.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Brandon Manning received a five-game suspension by the AHL for uttering a racial slur during a recent game.
Sonny Milano missed #CBJ practice because of a court appearance in NYC for assault charges stemming from last summer.
After showing proof of community service plus paying the victim’s medical bills, the case against Milano & #Avs F A.J. Greer has been dismissed.
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) January 21, 2020
Golden Knights defeat the Coyotes, the Oilers make trades with the Blackhawks and Panthers, an update on Dustin Byfuglien, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Paul Stastny and Brandon Pirri each had a goal and an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Galchenyuk tallied for the Coyotes.
EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers had a busy Sunday, making trades with the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers first shipped defenseman Chris Wideman to the Panthers for blueliner Alex Petrovic, then traded winger Drake Caggiula and rearguard Jason Garrison to the Blackhawks for defensemen Brandon Manning and Robin Norrell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Oilers having dropped five in a row and once again in danger of sliding out of the playoff race, general manager Peter Chiarelli opted to make a couple of deals to shore up his injury-depleted blueline. Petrovic and Manning will be expected to bring more grit and shutdown experience to the Oilers’ defense. Both moves were greeted with puzzlement and disdain by the club’s followers, who see them as merely rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship.
As for the Panthers and Blackhawks, they’re giving up players who no longer fit into their plans. The Panthers gave up Jonathan Marchessault to protect Petrovic in the 2017 expansion draft, a move that backfired as Marchessault now stars with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Blackhawks signing of Manning this summer turned into a costly mistake for a club with limited salary-cap space, one that management is now happy to have off its books.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will be sidelined for at least a month with a lower-body injury.
TSN: The NHL Players Association released a statement on Sunday ripping Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites for his “reckless and insulting remarks” regarding the performance of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. “If players directed such comments towards management, how would those be regarded?” the NHLPA said in its statement. “To say that Jim Lites’ conduct is unprofessional would be a gross understatement. In professional sports, all individual players and teams go through highs and lows, but this is not how professionals handle adversity.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars GM Jim Nill said he agreed with the hockey aspect of Lites’ criticism but not the tone. Publicly calling out your best players for underperforming is one thing. Calling them “fucking horseshit” in a long expletive-filled published rant was unnecessary and could do more harm than good.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning’s high-scoring ways have overcome their defensive struggles of late.
THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jakob Markstrom had his best December performance ever, sporting a record of 8-1-0 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a save percentage of .943.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markstrom’s performance is a key reason why the Canucks vaulted up the standing this month and sit just outside of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Struggling winger Kyle Okposo could be skating on the Sabres fourth line after failing to score in 21 straight games.
Latest on Jeff Skinner, the Flyers goaltending, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CAN THE SABRES AFFORD SKINNER?
WGR 550: Brayton Wilson recently cited TSN’s Darren Dreger’s report of mutual interest between the Buffalo Sabres and winger Jeff Skinner to get a contract extension done. Acquired by the Sabres from the Carolina Hurricanes in August, the 27-year-old Skinner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Dreger speculated contract talks could heat up by mid-January and certainly before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. Skinner has a full no-trade clause in his current contract and is interested in staying in Buffalo.
Wilson’s colleague Joe DiBiase observed the Sabres have sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign Skinner, who is rumored seeking an eight-year contract worth between $9-$9.5 million annually. His current salary-cap hit is $5.725 million. With the recently-terminated contract of Patrik Berglund coming off the books, the Sabres have roughly $30 million in cap space for 2019-20. DiBiase believes re-signing Skinner won’t prevent the Sabres from making other moves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres have just over $52 million invested in 14 players. Assuming an $83-million cap for 2019-20, they’ll have plenty of cap space to re-sign Skinner. Their other noteworthy free agents (Linus Ullmark, Jason Pominville, Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe) should be affordable re-signings.
Skinner’s developed tremendous chemistry with center Jack Eichel on the top line. His presence has significantly improved the Sabres this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if they open the vault to keep him in the fold on a lucrative long-term deal, perhaps before the trade deadline.
FLYERS GOALIE OPTIONS
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston weighed in on the goaltender options facing the Philadelphia Flyers. He noted colleague Nick Kypreos reported Saturday that Los Angeles Kings starter Jonathan Quick is a Flyers’ trade target. He believes they want to bring in an experienced mentor for promising Carter Hart. Despite Quick’s injury history and $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23, Johnston believes he “still moves the needle”. His actual salary declines “from $3.5-million to $3-million to $2.5-million in the final three seasons.”
Johnston also noted the limited options currently in the goalie market. Carolina’s Scott Darling is playing in the AHL, New Jersey’s Cory Schneider appears hampered by offseason hip surgery while Keith Kinkaid is an unrestricted free agent, and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard is also a UFA but appears keen to remain a Red Wing. Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky could test the UFA market in July but he’s also had his fair share of ups and downs this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The options aren’t that good for the Flyers. Yes, Quick’s actual salary declines in the final years of his contract and when healthy he plays well. Unfortunately, that injury history (mainly of the lower-body variety) and his age (he turns 33 in January) makes Quick a gamble.
Waiting for Bobrovsky if he hits the open market next summer could be their best bet but there’s no certainty he’ll want to return to Philadelphia. He’ll also be very expensive, costing over $10 million per season on a long-term deal.
MANNING WOULD WELCOME A TRADE
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus reports Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning isn’t seeking a trade but he’s open to one. A recent healthy scratch, he said he wouldn’t be upset over a trade after noting a recent report suggesting he and Jan Ruutu were available. Lazerus notes a source claims the Blackhawks have received little interest, suggesting the Hawks might have to absorb up to half of Manning’s salary to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manning is signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $2.25 million and lacks no-trade protection. If his playing time continues to decline, the Blackhawks could try peddling him closer to the trade deadline in hopes a contender seeking experienced blueline depth becomes willing to take him off their hands.
Game recaps, stars of the week, trade and waiver updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Galchenyuk’s overtime goal completed the comeback for the Montreal Canadiens as they overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Alexander Radulov also scored and collected three assists and Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Habs.
Before the game, the Canadiens acquired defenseman Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benn should provide some veteran experience and depth to the Canadiens’ blueline as they gear up for the stretch run. He’s signed through 2019 at an an affordable $1.1 million annually but will likely be exposed in the expansion draft. The little-used Pateryn will get an opportunity with the Stars to become a full-time NHL defenseman, though the 26-year-old will be jockeying with younger rearguards to crack the Dallas blueline.
Three consecutive power-play goals by Nikita Kucherov carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced demoted goalie Andrew Hammond will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn right labrum. They also signed winger Chris DiDomenico to a two-year contract. The 28-year-old was playing in Switzerland, meaning he’ll have to pass through waivers before he can join the Sens.
Mikael Granlund’s overtime goal gave the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Ryan White, recently acquired from the Arizona Coyotes, scored a goal and set up another for the Wild, who were playing without wingers Zach Parise and Jason Pominville (mumps).
Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg, Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 26.
PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning received a two-game suspension for a late hit on Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel.
DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed defenseman Nick Jensen to a two-year deal worth $1.625 million.
NBC SPORTS: The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed Greg McKegg off waivers from the Florida Panthers. The Columbus Blue Jackets claimed Zac Dalpe from the Minnesota Wild.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes acquired forward Teemu Pulkkinen from the Minnesota Wild for future considerations.
Game recaps, injury updates, Board of Governors news & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: Torrey Mitchell scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens downed the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price lost his temper with New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri for crashing into him, throwing several punches with his blocker at Palmieri.
The Habs also got defenseman Nathan Beaulieu back from injury, but announced blueliner Greg Pateryn will miss eight weeks with a broken ankle. Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty also revealed he played most of November with a broken foot, but it’s fully healed now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price was fortunate he wasn’t tossed from the game for his uncharacteristic loss of temper. The Habs injury woes continue, as Pateryn joins Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais (knee injuries) on the sidelines. A broken foot explains Pacioretty’s offensive struggles last month.
Claude Giroux scored twice and added an assist while Michael Raffl scored the winner late in the third period to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, giving their Flyers their seventh straight win.
Following the game, Oilers captain Connor McDavid claims Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning told him he deliberately tripped him in a game last season that resulted in McDavid being sidelined for nearly half the season with a broken clavicle. Manning denied this, maintaining that it was an accident.
Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 18th goal and collected an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Jamie Benn scored his 200th career NHL goal and added two assists as the Dallas Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-2.
Jayson Megna and Jack Skille each scored twice while Ryan Miller made 38 saves to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
David Pastrnak’s two goals weren’t enough to prevent the Boston Bruins from falling 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs hoped to have captain Gabriel Landeskog (lower-body injury) back in action but he was sidelined by illness.
Dougie Hamilton’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to their fifth straight win by edging the Arizona Coyotes 2-1.
Anders Lee scored twice as the New York Islanders nipped the St. Louis Blues 3-2.
Kevin Hayes’ late power-play goal gave the New York Rangers a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Derek Ryan scores twice as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-1.
OTTAWA SUN: Erik Karlsson set a franchise record for points by a defenseman (411) during the Senators’ 4-2 win on Wednesday over the San Jose Sharks.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (head injury) will miss Friday’s game against the New York Rangers.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (upper-body injury) will miss tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks blueliner David Schlemko remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
USA TODAY: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there was “strong negative sentiment” among the league board of governors toward participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. No vote was taken on the matter, but it appears likely the league won’t be sending players to the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The International Olympic Committee’s unwillingness to pick up the transportation and insurance costs of the players plus the risk of injuries are among the reasons behind the BoG disenchantment.
YAHOO SPORTS: Bettman also revealed the NHL salary cap for 2017-18 could rise by $2 million over the current cap of $73 million, but was vague in his overall comments on the matter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s merely a projection by Bettman. As we’ve seen in recent years, those predicted numbers usually don’t match the actual amount. It could go up by $2 million but I wouldn’t be surprised if it only goes up by half that amount.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks placed forward Ryan Garbutt on waivers.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: “Jamie Daniels, son of Detroit Red Wings television play-by-play broadcaster Ken Daniels, died in his sleep Wednesday morning, the team announced today. He was 23.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Daniels family.