Avalanche’s Cale Makar the Early Calder Trophy Candidate
The Lightning edged the Penguins, the Senators clip the Red Wings, an update on Mikko Rantanen, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Cedric Paquette and Victor Hedman lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hedman’s winning goal came with 57 seconds remaining in the game. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made a goal-line glove save in the dying seconds to preserve the victory.
Anthony Duclair scored twice and Anders Nilsson made 34 saves to give the Ottawa Senators a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat. Thomas Chabot and Chris Tierney each had two points for the Senators, who were playing without sidelined forwards Colin White and Artem Anisimov. White will be out three-to-five weeks with a hip flexor injury.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen is listed as week-to-week after suffering a lower-body (leg) injury on Monday against the St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first test of adversity for the high-flying Avalanche this season. Rantanen, their top-line right wing, had 12 points in nine games before his injury. They could promote Andre Burakovsky or J.T. Compher.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar suffered a lower-body injury in practice. His status for tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks is unknown.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets claimed defenseman Luca Sbisa off waivers yesterday from the Anaheim Ducks.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks placed defenseman Connor Murphy (groin injury) on long-term injury reserve.
The latest on Alex Ovechkin, Joe Murphy, Marko Dano, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin doesn’t want to discuss speculation he might retire when his contract expires in 2021. Earlier this month, Ovechkin said he’d wait and see whether he’d continue his career depending on his health. Speaking from Beijing where he’s spending the week as an NHL ambassador, Ovechkin said he’ll talk about that in two years. For now, he’s focused on the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Ovechkin, who turns 34 next month, continues playing at a high level over the next two years, I can see him continuing his NHL career with the Capitals. I believe they’ll be quite receptive to re-signing him.
If pursuing another Stanley Cup isn’t motivation enough, breaking the record for most 50-goal seasons could be enticing. Ovechkin is one season away from tying the record (nine seasons) held by Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy. With 658 career NHL goals, he also has a shot at perhaps beating Gretzky’s record of 894 goals.
USA TODAY: Former NHLer Joe Murphy is once again homeless and refusing help in Kenora, Ontario. Over the past two years, dozens of people – “including the NHL Alumni Association, members of the local police department, former teammates, his lawyer and an entire team of mental health experts and social workers” – have tried to assist Murphy. He suffered several concussions during his playing days but it’s inclusive whether those injuries contributed to his current condition.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A year ago, Murphy was the focus of a TSN documentary on his plight. While people are trying to help him, it’s done little to change his current situation. It’s a sad situation that probably won’t end well for Murphy.
CBS SPORTS: Marko Dano is back with the team that drafted him, signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former first-round draft pick (27th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft), Dano was once a highly touted young player. Sadly, he hasn’t developed as anticipated. He’s bounced from Columbus, Chicago, Winnipeg, and Colorado before returning to the Jackets. It’s probably his last chance to establish himself as an NHL regular.
TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenseman John Marino to a two-year, entry-level contract on Thursday. Acquired in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers, the latter receives a sixth-round draft pick in 2021.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Former Florida Panthers enforcer Peter Worrell has been named ” hockey director of the team’s IceDen in Coral Springs.”
THE SCORE: The New York Islanders arena project at Belmont Park received approval of its environmental impact statement by the state of New York yesterday. “The next step before groundbreaking can begin is for the Franchise Oversight board to rubber-stamp the state’s environmental review.” That’s expected in a matter of weeks.
Update on Mitch Marner plus the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will have Mitch Marner re-signed on the opening day of the 2019-20 season. He’ll miss all of training camp and perhaps the first few games of the regular season but it’ll be a better outcome than William Nylander’s contract standoff a year ago.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out that possibility. I doubt Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas wants another season where one of his best young players isn’t signed until December and I don’t think Marner’s keen on that possibility.
By reacquiring all-but-retired David Clarkson, Dubas can place his $5.25-million salary-cap hit and that of Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) on LTIR to start the season. That’ll provide sufficient cap space for Marner’s next contract.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with David Rittich, re-signing the goaltender to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $2.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable bridge deal for Rittich, allowing the Flames sufficient time to evaluate his performance to determine if he’s ready to become a full-time starting goalie.
This signing also affects the Flames’ salary-cap space for 2019-20 and their efforts to re-sign power forward Matthew Tkachuk. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.
DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.COM: Defenseman Marcus Pettersson won’t be re-signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins until the club frees up sufficient salary-cap space. His agent, Peter Wallen, said the Penguins are currently up against the $81.5-million salary-cap ceiling and lack the money to re-sign his client. “I guess we’re waiting for them to make some room,” said Wallen. The Penguins currently sit just over $157K over the cap.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wallen said he’s had cordial negotiations with Penguins management and acknowledged there’s sufficient time to get a deal done. However, he’d like to have a new contract in place for Petterssen before training camp opens in September.
Depending on how much it’ll take to re-sign Petterssen, the Penguins could bury a couple of contracts in the minors or make a trade to free up cap room. Petterssen completed his entry-level contract last season so he doesn’t have much leverage. He also shouldn’t be too expensive to retain.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Mike McCarron to a one-year, two-way contract.
Calvin de Haan said his shoulder rehab is going well. He hopes to be ready for the start of the season, but he’ll know more in the next few months. He was given a 4-6 month timetable, and October will be four months.
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 26, 2019
Ryan Murphy, 12th overall pick at the 2011 draft, signed a 1-year deal with Neftekhimik of the KHL
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) July 27, 2019
Game recaps, including Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang reaching career milestones, plus updates on Derick Brassard, Sami Vatanen, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang both reached career milestones in the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Malkin tallied his 600th career assist while Letang set a franchise record for Penguins defenseman with his 108th career goal. Malkin also dropped the gloves with Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. The Penguins skated without center Derick Brassard, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brassard has frequently surfaced in trade rumors of late. Teams with interest in him will be monitoring his status as to the severity of the injury and its potential effect upon his performance.
Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop had a 30-save shutout performance to blank the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the only goal.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen was diagnosed with a concussion suffered during Monday’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils also placed blueliner Ben Lovejoy on injured reserve. The Devils also acquired minor-league defenseman Ryan Murphy from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for rearguard Michael Kapla.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie center Brett Howden suffered a knee sprain during Tuesday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He underwent an MRI yesterday and more information could be revealed today.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights recalled goaltender Maxime Legace and defenseman Jake Bischoff from the minors.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have assigned rookie forward Michael Rasmussen to the AHL on a conditioning stint.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens forward Mario Roberge is being praised as a hero after rescuing two elderly women from an apartment fire on Jan. 22.
Sabres re-sign Sam Reinhart, Max Domi to face disciplinary hearing, plus updates on Derick Brassard, Connor Murphy and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday re-signed forward Sam Reinhart to a two-year, $7.3-million contract. The annual average value is $3.65 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Winnipeg Jets re-signing Josh Morrissey and the Edmonton Oilers re-upping Darnell Nurse, Reinhart’s new contract is a reasonable short-term option for a player coming off an entry-level deal who has yet to reach his full potential.
In three NHL seasons, Reinhart’s averaged around 23 goals and 45 points but tends to be a streaky scorer. If he can improve on those numbers over the course of his new contract he’ll be in line for a more lucrative deal down the road.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi faces a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety for sucker-punching Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad during the Panthers’ 5-2 preseason win over the Habs last night. Domi received a match penalty. Ekblad left the game with a bloody nose and passed the mandatory concussion protocol.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not the best debut with the Canadiens for Domi, who was acquired in June in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk from the Arizona Coyotes. In March 2016, Domi received a one-game suspension for instigating a fight with then-Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Garbutt. He could be facing another, possibly longer suspension for the Ekblad incident.
NBC CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy could miss eight-to-twelve weeks with a back injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard hit the ice in training camp yesterday for the first time since being sidelined by a lung infection.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: A shoulder injury could sidelined Minnesota Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson for two weeks.
CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott (shoulder) is listed as day-to-day.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports blueliner Jake Dotchin showed up last week for Tampa Bay Lightning training camp over 30 pounds overweight, with around 25 percent body fat. The Lightning terminated his contract citing a “material breach” after he cleared unconditional waivers over the weekend. The NHL Players Association is appealing the decision.