NHL Up and Down the Boards – Blue Jackets, Hurricanes Benefiting from Shutdown
Sidney Crosby reaches an assist milestone, Kyle Connor and Kevin Fiala extend their goal streaks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM:The Boston Bruins widened their lead atop the overall standings by edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk scored for the Bruins (96 points), who sit nine points over the Lightning for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Third-period goals by Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz lifted the St. Louis Blues to their eighth straight win by downing the New York Rangers 3-1. The Blues (90 points) hold a three-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference. With 74 points, the Rangers remain four points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Bryan Rust’s hat trick powered the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Ottawa Senators 7-3 to snap a six-game losing skid. Evgeni Malkin collected four assists while Sidney Crosby (one goal, two assists) picked up his 800th career assist. The Penguins (82 points) sit one behind the Philadelphia Flyers for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby became just the sixth player in NHL history to reach 800 assists in less than 1,000 games.
Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner made 27 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils. Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) have won nine of their last 10 contests and sit atop the Pacific Division.
Alex Chiasson’s overtime goal gave the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen kicked out 42 shots as Edmonton (80 points) remains two back of the Golden Knights, while the Stars (82 points) remain in third place in the Central Division. Oilers winger James Neal returned to the lineup for the first time since being sidelined by a foot injury on Jan. 29.
Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor scored twice and set up another to lead his club over the fading Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Connor’s goal streak has reached four games as the Jets (74 points) moved into the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Sabres have dropped four straight.
Kevin Fiala extended his goal streak to five games as the Minnesota Wild dumped the Nashville Predators 3-1. Wild goalie Alex Stalock made 37 saves as the Wild (73 points) moved one point ahead of the Predators to sit one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Preds have dropped three straight games.
A three-goal third period carried the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks. With 78 points, the Leafs sit in third place in the Atlantic Division. Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his 46th goal to move into second place among this season’s goal-scoring leaders.
The Montreal Canadiens rolled to a 6-2 victory over the slumping New York Islanders, who’ve won just two of their last 10 games. Isles defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the third period after being inadvertently struck in the face by the skate blade of Canadiens winger Artturi Lehkonen. Boychuk suffered a facial cut but his eyesight was unaffected. Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar left the game early in the first with an upper-body injury. The Isles (78 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens (71 points) sit seven points behind them.
A four-goal second period lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, Dylan Strome tallied two goals and collected an assist.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks following surgery to repair an ankle sprain and a hairline fracture.
THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes goalies Petr Mrazek (concussion) and James Reimer (lower-body injury) are expected to miss at least another week. The Hurricanes are winless since Mrazek and Reimer were sidelined.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers and Quinn Hughes are questionable for tonight’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said head coach Claude Julien will return behind the bench next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans are calling for Bergevin and Julien to be fired as the club is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third straight year. Neither guy is going anywhere, but this off-season and the Canadiens’ performance in 2021-22 will determine if they still have their jobs a year from now.
The Nashville Predators have opened the doors of their arena to people affected by the tornado that ripped through the city early Tuesday morning. At least 19 people were killed and 40 buildings were destroyed.
Stars of the week, Leafs re-sign Jake Muzzin, two Rangers injured in a car accident, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets snapped an eight-game winless skid with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators. Nick Foligno scored two goals for the Jackets, while Connor Brown tallied twice for the Senators. Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins and center Riley Nash both left the game in the second period with injuries. No update was provided post-game on their status. With 76 points, the Jackets hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz, New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, and Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane was the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 23, 2020.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin and forward Pavel Buchnevich were injured in a car accident in Brooklyn on Sunday night. Shesterkin suffered a non-displaced rib fracture and well be re-evaluated in two weeks. Buchnevich was shaken up and is listed as day-to-day. The accident occurred when their vehicle struck another that was doing an illegal U-turn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thankfully, neither player was seriously hurt. Losing Shesterkin could be a blow to the Rangers’ playoff hopes. His stellar goaltending since his call-up in early January was largely responsible for the Blueshirts’ recent surge in the standings.
CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau created a stir when he momentarily left the ice yesterday during practice, sparking speculation he might be getting traded. Turns out he was answering the call of nature. “I had to pee,” Gaudreau said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lost in the hubbub of yesterday’s NHL trade deadline, this is a reasonable deal for the 31-year-old Muzzin. He’s a big, physical defenseman with good defensive skills averaging over 21 minutes per game. Given their blueline weaknesses, the Leafs couldn’t afford to lose their best defensive rearguard to free agency.
The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed defenseman Nick Holden to a two-year extension worth $1.7 million per season.
The Nashville Predators re-upped winger Rocco Grimaldi to a two-year, $4-million contract extension.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes may be without injured goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, and defenseman Brett Pesce for an extended period. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he wasn’t sure how long they could be sidelined.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
TSN: Former NHL forward Scottie Upshall has announced his retirement. He spent 15 years in the NHL, scoring 138 goals and 285 points in 759 games with the Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues.
Check out the listing of today’s notable NHL free-agent signings. This will be updated throughout the day as signings become official.
The Chicago Blackhawks signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a one-year, $5-million contract.
The New York Islanders sign left wing Anders Lee to a seven-year, $49-million contract. The Isles also signed goaltender Semyon Varlamov to a four-year contract worth $5 million per season.
The Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a two-year, $6.5-million contract.
The Montreal Canadiens have tendered an offer sheet to Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho. The proposed contract is for five years, with an average annual value of $8.454 million.
The Montreal #Canadiens have tendered an offer sheet to RFA Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes at $8.454M x 5 years
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 1, 2019
New York Rangers sign left winger Artemi Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million contract. The annual average value is $11.6 million.
Florida Panthers signed goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year, $70 million deal. They also signed winger Brett Connolly to a four-year, $13-million contract, defenseman Anton Stralman to a three-year, $16.5 million contract and forward Noel Acciari to a three-year, $5-million contract.
The Nashville Predators sign center Matt Duchene to a seven-year, $56-million contract.
Dallas Stars sign center/winger Joe Pavelski to a three-year, $21-million contract. The Stars also signed winger Corey Perry on a one-year, bonus-laden contract worth up to $3.25 million. They also signed defenseman Andrej Sekera to a one-year contract with a $1.5 million base salary and $500K in bonuses.
Minnesota Wild sign winger Mats Zuccarello to a five-year, $30-million contract. The Wild also sign forward Ryan Hartman to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.9 million.
Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Tyler Myers to a five-year, $30-million contract. The Canucks also signed blueliner Jordie Benn to a two-year, $4-million contract and rearguard Oscar Fantenberg to a one-year, $850K deal.
Pittsburgh Penguins sign forward Brandon Tanev to a six-year contract with an AAV of $3.5 million.
Columbus Blue Jackets sign forward Gustav Nyquist to a four-year, $22-million contract.
Washington Capitals sign forward Richard Panik to a four-year, $10-million contract and forward Garnet Hathaway to a four-year, $6-million deal.
Colorado Avalanche sign winger Joonas Donskoi to a three-year contract estimated at around $3.5 million per season. They also sign winger Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two-year, $3.6-million contract.
Chicago Blackhawks sign center Ryan Carpenter to a three-year, $3-million contract.
Detroit Red Wings sign center Valtteri Filppula to a two-year, $6-million contract. They also signed defenseman Patrik Nemeth to a two-year deal.
St. Louis Blues sign forward Nathan Walker to a two-year, $1.4-million contract.
New Jersey Devils sign winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $5-million contract.
Edmonton Oilers signed goaltender Mike Smith to a one-year, $2-million contract and sign forward Markus Granlund to a one-year, $1.3-million contract. They also re-signed winger Alex Chiasson to a two-year deal worth $2.15-million per season.
Ottawa Senators sign Ron Hainsey to a one-year, $3.5-million contract and winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $800K contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs sign center Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700K contract.
Calgary Flames sign goaltender Cam Talbot to sign a one-year. $2.75-million contract.
Montreal Canadiens sign goaltender Keith Kinkaid to a one-year, $1.75-million contract.
Tampa Bay Lightning sign goaltender Curtis McElhinney to a two-year, $2.6-million contract. They also signed defenseman Luke Schenn to a one-year, $700K contract.
Buffalo Sabres sign forward Curtis Lazar, goaltender Andrew Hammond, and defenseman John Gilmour to one-year contracts each worth $700K. The Sabres also acquire forward Jimmy Vesey from the New York Rangers in exchange for a third-round pick in 2021.
Winnipeg Jets sign defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to a one-year, $1-million contract.
Trade Alert: The New York Rangers trade Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a third-round pick in 2021.
The NHL free-agent market opens today at 12:01 pm ET. Check out the latest on Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Tyler Myers and more in today’s rumor mill.
UPDATE ON PANARIN
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes Artemi Panarin is believed to be deciding between the Rangers, Islanders and Florida Panthers. It’s expected he’ll receive a seven-year deal north of $11 million annually. If the Isles fail to land Panarin, they could fall back on bringing back captain Anders Lee. The Isles could also be in need of a goaltender if they fail to land Sergei Bobrovsky as contract talks with Robin Lehner stalled.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cites The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets made a monstrous, last-minute pitch to Panarin. The offer was said to be eight years at between $96 – $100 million. Friedman is skeptical, however, that Panarin will accept it, knowing that money was there from the Jackets all along.
Friedman also cited Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater saying the Colorado Avalanche pitched a six-year, $70-million offer to Panarin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only reason Panarin might consider staying with the Jackets is they’re the only club that could offer him an eight-year deal. He apparently had until midnight ET to agree to it. Otherwise, they can only offer seven years if the agreement came today. We’ll find out soon enough what his decision was.
OTHER SIGNINGS LEAKED
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link to check out last night’s list of notable leaked contract signings.
FOX SPORTS MIDWEST’s Andy Strickland expects the Florida Panthers will sign Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year deal worth “around $10 million” annually.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Tyler Myers are closing in on a six-year, $30-million contract. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal expects the Canucks will also sign blueliner Jordie Benn and another defenseman today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s an annual average value of $6 million for Myers, well below the rumored range of $7-$8 million per season.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS
After trading away Andrew Shaw and Nicolas Deslauriers yesterday, the Montreal Canadiens now have over $13 million in salary-cap space. Elliotte Friedman speculates on possible targets for the Habs. He believes they’re in on Anders Lee, and noted they also had interest in Wayne Simmonds and Jake Gardiner. He also wondered if they had an interest in Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris. It’s believed they’ll sign Keith Kinkaid as a backup for Carey Price.
Friedman also wondered if they’ll go the offer sheet route. He pointed out player agent Gerry Johansson, who represents Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price, also represents Carolina’s Sebastian Aho.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Habs fans won’t mind if they sign Lee. They probably won’t be upset if they ink Gardiner. Given Simmonds injury history, that might not go down so well. If they offer-sheet Aho, the Hurricanes will match it.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS AND BLACKHAWKS
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports the Pittsburgh Penguins could dip a toe into the UFA pool. “By the time they re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Pettersson, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger, they probably will have a little more than $2 million to work with.” That could leave them pursuing more affordable options like Valtteri Filppula or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. If they pursue someone like Micheal Ferland or Patrick Maroon, they’ll have to shed salary.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks now have about $5-$6 million of salary-cap space after reacquiring Andrew Shaw yesterday. They could also consider a cost-effective depth move like signing Ryan Carpenter or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
UPDATES ON MAROON AND MRAZEK
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford cites a source claiming winger Patrick Maroon is unlikely to return with the St. Louis Blues. He took a hometown discount last season and could make more on multiple years on the open market.
NEWS OBSERVER.COM: Despite the Carolina Hurricanes acquiring James Reimer yesterday, Chip Alexander reports they’re still trying to sign Petr Mrazek.
Expect hometown boy Jason Spezza to sign a one-year contract with TOR today.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2019
An informed source tells me: “good chance” Donskoi signs with Avs. But there is STRONG competition for him though. Nothing over til it’s over. @ColHockeyNow
— Adrian Dater (@adater) July 1, 2019
Expect Luke Schenn to sign a one-year deal with #tblightning in neighbourhood of $700k.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 1, 2019
Sounds like Calvin Pickard is joining the #RedWings on a two-year deal. He’s expected to compete with Jonathan Bernier in training camp to back up Jimmy Howard.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 30, 2019
Sharks and Blue Jackets take 2-1 leads in their respective second-round series, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Logan Couture tallied his first NHL playoff hat trick as the San Jose Sharks doubled up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Timo Meier had a goal and two assists for the Sharks, who had blown a 2-0 lead as the Avs tied it on goals by Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche made a game of this by battling back to tie it but Couture quickly snuffed their hopes for a win just over a minute after Nieto’s goal. Couture leads all playoff scorers with nine goals and is tied with MacKinnon and Vegas’ Mark Stone (12 points each) for the points lead.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves (15 in the third period) as the Columbus Blue Jackets held off the Boston Bruins 2-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Boone Jenner and Matt Duchene scored for the Jackets while Jake DeBrusk replied for the Bruins. There are calls for Bruins winger Brad Marchand to face supplemental discipline following his sneaky blow to the head of Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game wasn’t pretty, folks. Both clubs came into this game with a grinder’s mindset and it showed. We can probably expect the rest of this series to be a physical, closely contested low-scoring defensive tilt.
As for Marchand, he’s earned his fair share of fines and suspensions for his cheap-shot antics over the years but I doubt he’ll get more than a warning (if anything) from the league for his latest action. At the very least, this should put a stop to the “Marchand has changed his ways” narrative that crept into this spring’s coverage of the Bruins.
TSN: Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour suggested goaltender Petr Mrazek’s lower-body injury might not be serious but declined to say when he’ll return to action. He’s expected to miss Game 3 tonight against the New York Islanders. Winger Micheal Ferland (upper-body injury) could be ready to return for Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes are a banged-up bunch, with six players (Mrazek, Ferland, Andrei Svechnikov, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Jordan Martinook and Saku Maenalanen) on the sidelines. Their depleted depth could take a toll on their performance in tonight’s game against an Islanders team looking for their first win of this series.
NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Islanders, they could be without the services of checking-line winger Cal Clutterbuck, who was helped off the ice late in Game 2 with an undisclosed injury. Clutterbuck traveled with his teammates to Carolina as the series shifted to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4.
STLTODAY.COM: Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell’s embellishment efforts to draw a penalty in Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues has made him the subject of online mockery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s disappointing to see a talented blueliner like Lindell going to such ridiculous lengths to draw a penalty. Here’s hoping we’ve seen the last of his flopping antics.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The New York Rangers acquired 2019 Hobey Baker Award finalist Adam Fox from the Hurricane in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and conditional 2020 third-round selection.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox wasn’t expected to sign with the Hurricanes and would’ve become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Rangers are reportedly close to getting Fox under contract. For those of you wondering why the trade took place now instead of following the postseason, the Rangers are a non-playoff club and Fox was a non-roster player for the Hurricanes.
Contrary to media reports, I have not contacted Mike Gillis about returning to the Canucks and have no plans to do so.
— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) April 30, 2019