The latest contract signings, an update on the Calgary arena deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TORONTO SUN: Former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth told a Czech newspaper he’s accepted a professional tryout offer with the Maple Leafs.
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth agreed to a PTO with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Leafs are seeking an insurance policy in case Garret Sparks and Michael Hutchinson fail to measure up as backups for starting goalie Fredrik Andersen. Neuvirth’s a good goalie when healthy but he’s been plagued by injuries in recent years.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils avoided salary arbitration with Mirco Mueller. The 24-year-old defenseman agreed to a one-year, $1.4-million contract.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins avoided arbitration with winger Zach Aston-Reese, inking him to a two-year, $2-million deal.
RDS.CA: Former Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec will play another season for HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic.
THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have reached a settlement with former defenseman Jake Dotchin regarding his grievance over his terminated contract with the club.
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames star Theo Fleury headlines the 2019 Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame class. Kevin Lowe is also being inducted.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Fleury and Lowe for this well-deserved honor.
THE SCORE: The city of Calgary officially announced an agreement with the Flames on a new arena project. The agreement was first reported last Friday. It goes before a city council vote on July 29. If approved, the three-year construction will begin in July 2021.
Game recaps, Senators fire head coach Guy Boucher, plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The Ottawa Senators fired head coach Guy Boucher, naming Marc Crawford as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having purged their roster of their top pending unrestricted free agents, the Senators are getting an early start on shaking up the coaching staff. This move marks the sixth coaching change since 2009.
Given the Senators’ decline since the start of last season, it’s unsurprising Boucher got the boot. While a lot of their issues weren’t of his making, his coaching style seems to have a short shelf life. The players buy in for the first season or two and then they start tuning him out.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders welcomed John Tavares back with a 6-1 beatdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Islanders fans jeered and booed Tavares (who signed with the Leafs last summer) at every opportunity, including during the Isles’ video tribute to their former captain.
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares was jeered mercilessly by New York Islanders fans as their team rolled to a 6-1 victory on Thursday (Photo via NHL Images)
Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk avoided serious injury after being cut under his chin by the skate blade of Leafs winger Mitch Marner. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Travis Dermott will be sidelined four weeks with a shoulder injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most fans will jeer and boo their departed stars when they play their first home game against their former team, but usually put that aside to applaud during the video tribute. Not so for Tavares, as Isles fans feel he betrayed them by signing with Toronto.
This could also be the result of over three decades of pent-up anger and frustration among a fan base whose team put them through a lot of embarrassment and humiliation prior to this season. Tavares’ departure was just one more kick in the teeth for Islanders’ supporters, making his return an easy outlet for their emotions. The fact the Isles are exceeding expectations and sit atop the Metropolitan Division made taunting their former franchise player more cathartic for their long-suffering fans.
Brad Richardson tallied four goals to lead the Arizona Coyotes (67 points) to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks, moving to within one point of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks now sit five points out of contention.
Seth Jones’ overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. With the win, the Blue Jackets (75 points) rose to third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Three third-period goals scored within a minute and 28 seconds powered the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins extended their points streak to 15 games while halting the Lightning’s win streak at 10 games.
The Dallas Stars moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 4-3 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings, handing the latter their 10th straight loss. Roope Hintz tallied the winner in the extra frame
Reilly Smith scored twice while Shea Theodore tallied the game-winner in a shootout as the Arizona Coyotes edged the Florida Panthers 6-5. Panthers winger Mike Hoffman also scored twice and teammate Jonathan Huberdeau had a four-point performance.
Goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 35 saves as the Edmonton Oilers doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat. Connor McDavid scored his 33rd goal of the season as the Oilers (61 points) sit seven points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced winger Jesse Puljujarvi will undergo season-ending hip surgery.
SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall under arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week but it’s unclear if he’ll return before the end of the season.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton is questionable for tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after “tweaking” a lower-body injury during practice yesterday. Forward Vladimir Sobotka (upper-body) and defenseman Marco Scandella (lower-body) are listed as day-to-day.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price recently spent several minutes with a young fan whose mother promised to do everything she could to help the young boy meet his hero but who passed away from cancer before it could happen. Price comforted the youngster with a long hug, signed his jersey and gave him two autographed sticks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carey Price: class act.
Carey Price showing he is one of the classiest athletes in all of sports. The young man (Anderson) idolizes Price and his mother, before dying of cancer, promised she would try to help them meet. It finally happened. Both feel the emotion as Anderson’s dream finally comes true. pic.twitter.com/19EjIH2NNe
Game recaps, injury updates, Senators need a new downtown arena location and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: A four-goal second period powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-2 drubbing of the Edmonton Oilers. Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists while Andreas Johnsson scored twice for the Leafs (82 points), who move within a point of the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs blueline was dealt a blow as defenseman Travis Dermott suffered a shoulder injury and is listed as week-to-week. He joins Jake Gardiner (back injury, week-to-week) on the sidelines.
The Calgary Flames 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils was overshadowed by a scary injury to Devils defenseman Mirco Mueller after he crashed head-first into the end boards. Mueller was stretchered from the game and sent to a hospital but is reportedly conscious and has the full range of motion of his limbs.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane tallied his 40th goal of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images)
Shootout goals by Mikko Rantanen and Carl Soderberg gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Jacob Markstrom made 43 saves in a losing cause for the Canucks. The Avalanche (68 points) moved one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. New Canucks winger Tanner Pearson revealed he’s been hampered by an undisclosed injury since late-December that is affecting his scoring but isn’t serious enough to take him out of action.
Patrick Kane’s 40th goal of the season was also the game-winner as the Chicago Blackhawks nipped the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Alex DeBrincat also scored twice for the Blackhawks (63 points), who sit five points behind the Avalanche. Ducks forward Rickard Rakell was ejected from the game in the second period for an ugly hit from behind on Blackhawks winger Drake Caggiula.
Victor Hedman scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the New York Rangers 4-3 to pick up their franchise-record 10th straight victory. League scoring leader Nikita Kucherov collected three assists and now has 104 points on the season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Bryan Rust (lower body) and Chad Ruhwedel (upper body) are both sidelined with “longer-term injuries”
BOSTON HERALD: Bruins forward Noel Acciari is questionable for tonight’s game against the Lightning after undergoing dental surgery to repair damage suffered on Tuesday against San Jose when he was struck in the mouth by a puck.
CBS SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed Zac Dalpe to a two-year, two-way contract.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed Conor Garland to a two-year contract extension worth $775K per season.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk remains determined to find a new downtown location for a new arena after the National Capital Commission announced the Rendezvous LeBreton plan had fallen through. “We are devastated that our dream has been shattered. However, we will not let our vision die or allow our enthusiasm to be diminished by this ill-fated experience,” Melnyk said in a statement.
Game recaps plus latest on Nathan MacKinnon, Victor Hedman and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines
Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray returned to action with a 40-save performance in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin tallied a hat trick and Matt Murray made 40 saves to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Murray was playing his first game after returning home to Ontario following the death of his father. Bryan Rust also scored two goals for the Pens.
A three-goal third-period outburst rallied the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames. With 33 victories, the Golden Knights have tied the NHL record for most wins in a debut season by an expansion club.
Daniel Sedin’s game-tying goal in the third period set the stage for Sven Baertschi’s overtime goal as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. It was a costly defeat for the Avs, as leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon left the game in the second period with an apparent shoulder injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word postgame on MacKinnon’s status. Losing him for a lengthy period could be a devastating blow to the Avalanche’s playoff hopes. Hopefully we’ll learn more about his status later today.
The Boston Bruins 18-game points streak came to an end as they fell 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. Adam Henrique scored twice for the Ducks, who finished the game with starting goaltender John Gibson sidelined by an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson was hurt making a save on a heavy shot from Boston’s Patrice Bergeron early in the third period. No word yet as to the severity of his injury. He’ll be reassessed later today.
Michael Hutchinson made 23 saves in his season debut as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected two assists. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman returned to action after missing nearly three weeks with a lower-body injury.
Zach Parise’s shootout goal lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 41 saves.
The St. Louis Blues defeated the Montreal Canadiens for the fifth straight time, downing the Habs 3-1. Blues goaltender Carter Hutton made 33 saves, picking up his eighth win in his last 10 starts.
Darcy Kuemper turned in a 28-save shutout performance to give the Los Angeles Kings a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars.
Anton Forsberg turned aside 42 shots while Vinnie Hinostroza scored a goal and set up another as the the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Nashville Predators 2-1.
Third-period goals by Sebastian Aho and Victor Rask gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat.
Florida Panthers call-up goaltender Harri Sateri made 32 saves for his first NHL win as he backstopped his club to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. Forward Casey Cizikas returned to the Isles lineup after missing six games with an upper-body injury.
Kyle Palmieri had a goal and an assist to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, snapping the latter’s three-game win streak. Devils defenseman Mirco Mueller returned to the lineup after missing 31 games with a fractured clavicle.
SI.COM: Tom Dundon, the new owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, said he’s open to the idea of his club wearing throwback Hartford Whalers jerseys.
TORONTO STAR: The evolution of hockey toward more skill and speed is significantly reducing the element of physical intimidation in the sport.
Game recaps, analysis of the Kings trading Cammalleri to Oilers, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 8-2.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Los Angeles Kings 3-2.
Earlier in the day, the Kings traded winger Mike Cammalleri to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Jussi Jokinen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cammalleri was losing ice time with the Kings as younger forwards such as Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe took on more prominent roles on their scoring lines. The Oilers need scoring depth at right wing and that’s where he’ll likely be slotted. Jokinen, meanwhile, struggled with the Oilers and didn’t have the confidence of head coach Todd McLellan. The Kings hope he’ll provide experienced depth to their checking lines.
Zach Werenski’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in the day, sidelined Canadiens goaltender Carey Price assured the media his current lower-body injury isn’t related to the season-ending one he suffered in 2015-16, insisting it remains a minor issue. He’s been sidelined nearly two weeks. The Habs also claimed goaltender Antti Niemi off waivers from the Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Niemi’s poor performance this season, this move provoked criticism by Habs followers on Twitter. However, GM Marc Bergervin justified the decision, citing Price’s injury and uncertainty over how long backup Al Montoya might be sidelined by a concussion.
Call-up Charlie Lindgren’s playing well but Bergervin wanted a little more experienced behind him. Niemi played under Habs goalie coach Stephane Waite when both were with the Chicago Blackhawks, so perhaps Waite can help Niemi overcome his current difficulties in goal.
Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves while Adam Lowry scored and set up another to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, who set a league record by become the first team not to record a regulation win in its first 20 games of the season. Prior to the game, the Jets inducted former star Dale Hawerchuk into their Hall of Fame.
Earlier in the day, the Coyotes traded goaltender Louis Domingue to the Tampa Bay Lightning for goalie Michael Leighton and winger Tye McGinn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The writing was on the wall for Domingue with the Coyotes when he struggled filling in for sidelined starter Antti Raanta, forcing the Coyotes to acquire Scott Wedgewood from the New Jersey Devils. He’ll become the Lightning’s third-string goalie.
Devan Dubnyk picked up his third straight shutout and also collected an assist as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.
Sidney Crosby snapped an 11-game goalless skid and Conor Sheary scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Buffalo Sabres 5-4. Sam Reinhart had a three-point performance for the Sabres.
Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist to give the Nashville Predators a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. T.J. Oshie potted two goals for the Capitals. The loss spoiled the return of Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who missed 13 games with a left hand injury. Earlier in the day, the Predators learned winger Scott Hartnell and defenseman Yannick Weber will be sidelined several weeks with lower-body injuries.
Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck’s shootout goals gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo made 40 saves and Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers. Jamie Benn tallied twice for the Stars.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Mirco Mueller fractured his left clavicle during Sunday’s game against Chicago and will be sidelined indefinitely.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Martin Frk could be sidelined for a week with a groin injury.
TSN: Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion doesn’t expect winger Clarke MacArthur to play this season. MacArthur failed his team medical upon reporting to training camp in September and has since moved with his family to Florida. He’s been hampered by concussions in recent years.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs called up forward Nikita Soshnikov and demoted forward Frederik Gauthier.
Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher could soon reach a decision on his future.
Update on Mike Fisher, roundup of latest contract signings & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile hopes to have an update on the status captain Mike Fisher by next week. Fisher, 37, is an unrestricted free agent. He’s yet to decide if he’ll return with the Predators for another season or retire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fisher has a solid performance last season, netting 42 points in 72 regular-season games. However, he was held to just four points during the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. Given how close the Preds came to winning the Cup, Fisher could decide to return for one more shot at a championship.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The Rangers avoided salary arbitration with center Mika Zibanejad by re-signing him to a five-year, $26.75 million contract. The annual average value is $5.35 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Derek Stepan traded away to Arizona last month, Zibanejad gets the opportunity to become a full-time first-line center. A broken fibula limited him to 14 goals and 37 points in 56 games last season, but he had nine points in 12 playoff games. The 24-year-old made steady improvement prior to last season, reaching 51 points in 2015-16, his final campaign with the Ottawa Senators.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a one-year, $4 million contract. He was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 31.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report notes Lehner set career highs in games played (59), wins (23) and shutouts (two) while posting the ninth-best save percentage (.920) by a Sabres goalie with 40-plus games played. However, he’s also been dogged by injuries throughout his career. This deal seems to be a “show me” contract by Sabres management. If Lehner fails to build upon his 2016-17 performance or is once again sidelined for a significant period, this could be his final season with the Sabres.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year, bonus-laden contract. He’ll earn a base salary of $700K with $300K in bonuses.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is an affordable depth move by the Canadiens. Streit, 39, began his NHL career in Montreal. At this stage in his career, he’s no longer a top-pairing defenseman and is best suited as a third-pairing blueliner. It’ll be interesting to see if this means the Habs have given up trying to bring back Andrei Markov.
BSN DENVER: The Colorado Avalanche signed forward Matt Nieto to a one-year, $1 million contract and inked forward Rocco Grimaldi to a one-year, two-way deal.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.
TSN’s Rick Westhead reports lawyers for the NHL and former players will begin arguments in court on Oct. 11 if the concussion case filed by those players should be a class-action suit. If certified as class action, some 5,000 former players would automatically become plaintiffs, except for those who opt out.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chuck Greenberg, the prospective buyer of the Carolina Hurricanes, was in Raleigh on Monday for what he called a fact-finding trip. Greenberg is part of an ownership group that submitted a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the Hurricanes for $500 million.