Where Are They Now? 2010 Chicago Blackhawks
Latest on Zdeno Chara, Erik Karlsson, Antti Niemi, Nail Yakupov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t ruling out captain Zdeno Chara from Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight in St. Louis. However, he suggested the big defenseman wasn’t trending in the right direction. Chara suffered what the Bruins are calling a “facial injury” in Game 4 and some reports suggest his jaw is broken. He didn’t participate in practice yesterday.
Bruins blueliner Matt Grzelcyk, meanwhile, participated in practice wearing a no-contact jersey. He’s been under concussion protocol since Game 2 but hasn’t been ruled out for Game 5.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo returns to the lineup for Game 5 after being a healthy scratch in the previous contest. He’ll replace Joel Edmundson, who will be a healthy scratch for the third time in this postseason.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson underwent surgery on May 31 to address a groin injury suffered during the regular season. He’s begun rehabilitation and is expected to make a full recovery in time for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That injury plagued Karlsson since midseason. He was sidelined for 29 games during the regular season and missed the final game of the Western Conference Final. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Karlsson’s health will be a factor during his contract negotiations.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi signed with Finnish club Jokerit in the KHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Niemi’s NHL career is over after 11 seasons. The 35-year-old backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup in 2010 and enjoyed his best seasons (2010-11 to 2014-15) with the Sharks. In recent years, however, his performance declined as he bounced from the Sharks to the Dallas Stars. Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, and the Canadiens as a backup goalie.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Former Flyers forward Jori Lehtera is joining SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL. In March, he was sentenced to “four months of conditional imprisonment (probation) in his native Finland for obtaining and possessing cocaine, a case that stemmed back to September 2018.”
TSN: A report on Tuesday claimed the Arizona Coyotes had interest in KHL winger and former NHL player Nail Yakupov. However, The Athletic’s Craig Morgan cites an NHL source claiming that report is “completely inaccurate.”
THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets center Jack Roslovic fired agent Ken Robinson and replaced him with Claude Lemieux. Roslovic is slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have held talks with former New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano about possibly becoming an assistant coach in Ottawa.
Sharks eliminate the Avalanche and advance to the Western Conference Final, the Conference Finals schedules are released, plus updates on Brad Marchand, Antti Niemi, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski made a surprise return from injury to lead his club to a series-clinching 3-2 Game 7 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Pavelski scored the game-opening goal and set up his club’s second goal. The Sharks will face the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final. This was Pavelski’s first game since suffering a concussion during Game 7 of his club’s previous series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The game wasn’t without controversy as a game-tying goal by the Avalanche in the second period was overturned as team captain Gabriel Landeskog was deemed offside during a line change. Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon sprained his right shoulder after colliding with the boards in the first period but returned to action later in the frame.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks got a big lift from Pavelski’s return in this game, but it was their depth that proved the deciding factor in this series. It could give them an advantage over the Blues in the conference final.
The Avs have nothing to hang their heads over. They upset the heavily-favored Calgary Flames and pushed the Sharks to the limit. Led by MacKinnon, Landeskog and Miko Rantanen, they’re a talented young team with a bright future.
The NHL released its schedule for the Conference Finals. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes starts tonight in Boston. The puck drops on the opening game of the Western Conference Final on Saturday night in San Jose. Both stats are 8 pm ET.
The top-27 spots for the 2019 NHL Draft are now set, with the final four still to be determined.
NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said the club will address Brad Marchand’s curt answers to the media in recent days. Marchand raised eyebrows with his taciturn attitude following his club’s elimination of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some in the media are rather upset with Marchand, with a few calling for him to be fined. Perhaps a better response would be to just ignore Marchand and instead speak with his teammates. Besides, most player interviews are boring. They merely spout cliches about giving 110 percent, getting pucks deep, everybody playing their role, blah blah blah. They rarely offer anything insightful or interesting.
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivarra suffered a muscle tear in his rib area. The injury occurred following an illegal hit by Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Canadiens backup goaltender Antti Niemi is expected to join Helsinki Jokerit in the KHL next season. Niemi is an unrestricted free agent this summer and won’t be re-signed by the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This likely signals the end of Niemi’s 11-season NHL career. He backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010 and spent five seasons as the Sharks’ starting goaltender. His performance declined in recent years, relegating him to backup status as he bounced from the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Canadiens since 2016-17. If his NHL playing days are over, the 35-year-old finishes with 242 wins in 464 games, with a career 2.57 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and 36 shutouts.
Latest on the Canadiens, Senators, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LA PRESSE: Alexis Belanger-Champagne reports Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin doesn’t expect his difficult end to this season will result in a trade this summer. While Drouin acknowledged his late-season offensive struggles, he believes his club has a good group of players and doesn’t anticipate changing sweaters. Drouin said he understood why his playing time was reduced during a crucial game against the Carolina Hurricanes, adding he wants to help the team in any way he could.
Drouin admitted being puzzled by his late-season slump. Teammates like Carey Price supported Drouin, who want to help him improve his consistency. General manager Marc Bergevin praised Drouin’s maturity and expects he’ll take another step forward next season. Drouin finished the season with 53 points.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens will be looking for a backup goaltender as free agent Antti Niemi won’t be back after struggling through this season. Charlie Lindgren could be an option but he didn’t have a good season with the Habs farm team in Laval. Bergevin could go shopping for a veteran backup if he feels Lindgren isn’t ready.
Pat Hickey feels it’s unlikely Bergevin can lure free-agent talent to Montreal, citing issues such as “taxes, weather, travel and whether their wives are going to happy.” The Canadiens GM also seems reluctant to go the offer-sheet route as he’s averse to trading away first-round draft picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens fans were unhappy with Drouin’s performance down the stretch, and he does seem to sulk on the bench sometimes when things aren’t going his way. However, he’s 24 and still has room to improve his consistency and maturity. It certainly sounds like Bergevin isn’t giving up on Drouin so I wouldn’t expect to see the winger getting traded this summer.
Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $64.3 million invested in 17 players for 2019-20 with all their core players under contract. Assuming a salary cap of $83 million, Bergevin will have around $19 million to re-sign his restricted free agents and to pursue a top-four left-side defenseman, an established scoring forward and a backup goalie. I expect he’ll look into the free-agent market and could make an affordable signing or two.
To address his bigger needs, however, he’ll likely have to go the trade route, which he did with success last summer by acquiring Max Domi and Tomas Tatar. Bergevin is reluctant to part with his first-round picks but he’s got two selections in the second round and three in the fifth of this year’s draft plus two in the fourth round in 2020 to draw upon for trade bait.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports changes will continue this summer for the Senators. They are in the market for a new head coach. It’s expected they’ll attempt to re-sign free agents Anthony Duclair and Brian Gibbons but could part ways with Magnus Paajarvi and Oscar Lindberg.
Garrioch expects they’ll attempt to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Cody Ceci but could trade him if an agreement on a new contract cannot be reached. He also suggested using Ben Harpur as trade bait to bring in a forward.
Garrioch thinks they could backup goalie Anders Nilsson depart via free agency if he seeks more than a one-year contract. He also tweeted yesterday GM Pierre Dorion said they may add a veteran player on July 1.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson believes the Senators would be wise to retain veteran starting goalie Craig Anderson through the final season of his contract. He notes a couple of teams, including the Calgary Flames, had interest in Anderson at the trade deadline, but the return for aging goaltenders hasn’t been good in the trade market. Stevenson feels Anderson’s experience and affordable cap hit for next season makes him worth retaining for next season.
Stevenson also reported contract talks between the Senators and Ceci have been positive thus far. While Senators fans pointed to Ceci’s poor advanced stats, management likes how he eats up tough minutes against top opposition. Despite the acrimony of last year’s salary arbitration hearing, Ceci wants to stay and the club wants to keep him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson asked to be dealt last June but his age and cap hit didn’t attract much interest. If there are clubs looking at him this summer they’ll likely only give up a low draft pick to get him. With the Senators rebuilding and lacking skilled depth between the pipes, I think they’ll keep him around for next season and test his market value leading up to the trade deadline.
As for Ceci, it certainly sounds as though he could have a long-term future in Ottawa. That isn’t going to please his critics among Sens followers but management values his experience and ability to log big minutes, which will be vital for their rebuilding blueline.
Having shed notable stars like Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, the Senators have over $45 million invested in 14 players for next season. Ceci, Duclair and Colin White are their notable free agents. Assuming it costs around $10 million to re-sign those three, they’ll still have to spend over $5 million to reach what could be a $60 million cap minimum. They won’t be going after any big-name talent but I expect they’ll attempt to bring in one or two quality veterans with leadership experience.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will be in the market for a second-line center, a top-four defenseman, and a backup goaltender. Fletcher considers this summer’s UFA market to be “Ok, not elite”. The top potential UFA include ” defensemen Erik Karlsson, Tyler Myers, and Anton Stralman, and forwards Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and Kevin Hayes.”
Fletcher also said he’s never extended an offer sheet to another club’s restricted free agent and Boruk doubts he’ll do so this summer. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who has one year left on his contract with a $5-million cap hit, would appear a likely candidate for a contract buyout. However, Fletcher said he’s not a big fan of contract buyouts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have over $47 million tied up in 13 players. Fletcher has more than enough to re-sign restricted free agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim and still have enough to make a big splash in the free agent or trade pools this summer. It’s assumed Cam Talbot will return as a backup and mentor for rookie Carter Hart. Fletcher could eye Karlsson or Duchene in the free-agent market.
The Devils win the 2019 Draft Lottery, Slava Voynov suspended for 2019-20, plus the latest on Victor Hedman, Zach Parise, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: For the second time in three years, the New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery, giving them the top selection. They also won in 2017 and selected center Nico Hischier.
The New York Rangers will pick second and the Chicago Blackhawks third. The Colorado Avalanche, who held the Ottawa Senators pick, slipped to fourth in the draft order (Follow the link for the complete listing).
TSN: Fun fact: Ever since the Edmonton Oilers won the 2010 lottery and selected Taylor Hall, his teams have won the lottery five times.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The NHL suspended former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov for the entire 2019-20 season and the 2020 playoffs for “unacceptable off-ice conduct”. Voynov pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of corporal spousal abuse in 2015.
The NHL Players Association is reviewing the ruling. League commissioner Gary Bettman said Voynov will be eligible to return to the NHL in 2020-21, assuming good behavior on his part.
THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (upper-body injury) will return to action tonight in Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild confirmed head coach Bruce Boudreau will return behind the bench next season. Boudreau has one year remaining on his contract. The club also revealed left wing Zach Parise played with a broken right foot over the final month of the season.
THE TENNESSEAN: PETA is attempting to discourage Nashville Predators fans from tossing catfish on the ice during the Predators’ playoff home games.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Long-time Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange will miss the start of the playoffs because of an adverse reaction to pneumonia medication.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Get well soon, Mike!
Marc Bergevin confirme qu’Antti Niemi ne sera pas de retour avec l’équipe la saison prochaine.
Marc Bergevin confirms that Antti Niemi will not be back with the team next season.#GoHabsGo
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 9, 2019
Game recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tomas Hertl tallied a hat trick and Joe Thornton scored in his 1,000th game with the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, picking up their seventh straight win. Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi returned to action after leaving Saturday’s game against Ottawa with an upper-body injury.
Viktor Arvidsson’s hat trick powered the Nashville Predators to a 7-2 drubbing of the Washington Capitals. Nick Bonino also scored twice for the Predators.
An overtime goal by Valtteri Filppula gave the New York Islanders a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, handing Blues rookie goalie Jordan Binnington his first NHL defeat. The Blues sit four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given up for dead a few weeks ago, the Blues have slowly climbed back into the playoff race as a couple of ahead of them in the standings (Edmonton and Anaheim) have struggled. Binnington played a significant role in the Blues’ recent improvement, with a 3-0-1 record in his four NHL starts.
The Anaheim Ducks suffered their 12th consecutive defeat, falling 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. Ducks forwards Ryan Kesler (undisclosed) and Jakob Silfverberg (lower body) left the game with injuries. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed forward Michael Rasmussen (hamstring) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks remain only two points out of a playoff berth but they’re in danger of tumbling much further down the Western Conference standings. This tailspin could also ramp up pressure on general manager Bob Murray to do something to arrest this skid.
New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad scored twice and set up two others in a 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo also tallied two goals each for the Rangers.
The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to four games by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-1. Backup Joonas Korpisalo has three of those victories and kicked out 29 shots in this one.
Montreal Canadiens backup Antti Niemi made a career-high 52 saves to backstop his club to a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Shea Weber had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who extended their win streak to three games and moved into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Minnesota Wild snapped a three-game losing skid as they edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on a shootout goal by Jason Zucker.
Winnipeg Jets backup Laurent Brossoit turned aside 43 shots and teammate Kyle Connor scored twice in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 35-save shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. It was the Stars third straight loss and captain Jamie Benn wasn’t pleased over his club’s poor performance on the power play. “Our power play was s**t and that was the difference,” he said. They were 0-6 with the man advantage.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers placed winger Dale Weise on waivers.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers claimed center Colby Cave off waivers from the Boston Bruins.
TSN: A film about NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Terry Sawchuk is slated to hit screens in March.