The Buffalo Sabres: When 2021 Feels Worse Than 2015
Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the NHL and ESPN officially announce their new seven-year partnership, plus the latest on Artemi Panarin, Alex Pietrangelo, Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick and collected two assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Tyson Barrie had three helpers as the Oilers went 6-0-0 over the Senators this season. Senators forwards Colin White and Ryan Dzingel both left the game with injuries.
A two-goal performance by Joel Eriksson Ek enabled the Minnesota Wild to hold off the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 4-3. Vegas rookie Dylan Coghlan tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Golden Knights played without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who coach Pete DeBoer said is sidelined “for the foreseeable future” with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, goaltender Robin Lehner (upper-body) has been loaned to the Golden Knights AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint as he moves closer to returning to the lineup.
Montreal Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli each had two points in a 5-1 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks. Jeff Petry scored his 10th goal of the season to lead all NHL defensemen in goals. He’s also the Canadiens leading scorer with 24 points. Habs blueliner Ben Chiarot left the game after injuring his hand in a fight with Canucks forward J.T. Miller.
The Colorado Avalanche edged the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on an overtime goal by captain Gabriel Landeskog. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta kicked out 44 shots in a losing cause. The Avalanche (30 points) sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division, two points up on the Los Angeles Kings.
Speaking of the Kings, goalie Troy Grosenick made 33 saves to win his first start in six years as he backstopped his club over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1.
The NHL, ESPN and the Walt Disney Company officially announced their new seven-year media rights partnership beginning in 2021-22. The deal will be a combination of television and “cutting-edge streaming” that should “help Disney grow its audience, help the NHL grow the game and give fans more options.”
The remainder of the league’s media rights is still being negotiated. NBC, which carried the NHL’s broadcasting rights for the past decade, is among the bidders.
Among the highlights:
The Stanley Cup Final will be on ABC four of the seven years of this deal. ABC and ESPN will carry one conference final series and half of the first- and second-round games in the Stanley Cup playoffs each season, plus 25 regular-season games.
ESPN will also produce 75 national games each season and stream them on ESPN+ and Hulu. It will also stream more than 1,000 out-of-market games each regular season on ESPN+, replacing NHL TV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the ESPN package is worth around $2.8 billion, paying out over $400 million per season to the NHL. That’s a considerable increase over the $200 million per season from the current deal with NBC, with more to come when the second broadcast/streaming deal is finalized.
SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the salary cap will likely remain stagnant as part of the four-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association. He indicated it will remain flat until the league recovers overpayments through the escrow that built up in the return-to-play last season and the lack of attendance this season due to COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means less money for the foreseeable future for restricted and unrestricted free agent players. The league approached the PA last fall about a short-term increase in escrow payments or deferred salary to address the potential overpayments. However, that was rejected by the players as they didn’t want to make changes to a CBA extension agreement made just several months earlier. The players were within their rights, of course, but this is going to make it increasingly difficult for free agents to land lucrative new contracts.
NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin returned to Rangers practice for the first time in over two weeks. He took time off to deal with unsubstantiated accusations from a former KHL coach claiming he assaulted a young Latvian woman in 2011. Panarin is listed as day-to-day and won’t be in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin could be back in action perhaps on Saturday or Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE SCORE: The San Jose Sharks denied a report claiming they could void Evander Kane’s contract as the winger navigates through bankruptcy proceedings. “The Sharks are 100 percent committed to honoring Evander Kane’s contract and have no intention of having it terminated,” said a team spokesperson.
Kane filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January, citing $26.8 million in debt and $10.2 million in assets. There is $29 million remaining on his contract with the Sharks. His creditors have requested to convert the bankruptcy to Chapter 11, which would make that remaining money available to them. A hearing to determine the designation is slated for later in March.
TSN: Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro received a two-game suspension for elbowing Carolina Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn on Tuesday.
SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will be sidelined for weeks after blocking a shot with his right hand during a recent game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.