NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2023
The Maple Leafs acquire Ryan O’Reilly in a three-team trade, Connor McDavid reaches the 100-point plateau again, Patrick Kane reaches a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
MAPLE LEAFS ACQUIRE RYAN O’REILLY
NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues in a three-team trade involving the Minnesota Wild.
“The Blues received the rights to forward prospect Josh Pillar from the Wild for O’Reilly, then traded him and Acciari to the Maple Leafs for Toronto’s first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Ottawa Senators’ third-round pick this year, Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, and forwards Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette.
Minnesota received Toronto’s fourth-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.”
CAP FRIENDLY: The Blues retained 50 percent of O’Reilly’s $7.5 million cap hit with the Wild and Leafs each taking on 25 percent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the previous moves made by Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas leading up to the annual trade deadline, this one is the biggest. O’Reilly was among this season’s top trade candidates. The 32-year-old center is a former winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy the Selke Trophy and the Lady Byng Trophy. He is considered among the league’s elite two-way forwards despite the decline in his production this season and a broken foot that sidelined him for nearly six weeks.
I admire the creativity of Dubas and his capologist in finding a way to land a notable player despite carrying limited cap space. It’s the second time he’s gone the three-team trade route, with his previous effort being the 2021 acquisition of Nick Foligno.
Leafs fans will be hoping that the O’Reilly deal has better results than the Foligno trade. So will Dubas, whose future as Leafs GM could be determined by his club’s performance over the remainder of this season and in the playoffs.
O’Reilly should help the Leafs at both ends of the rink. Acciari, meanwhile, is a good bottom-six winger who should help their penalty kill. However, I remain concerned about their blueline and goaltending depth in their quest to get over the postseason hump.
The Blues roster rebuild (retool?) continues just over a week after they shipped Vladimir Taransenko to the New York Rangers. They now have three first-round picks and two third-rounders in this year’s draft as well as two second-round selections and two fourth-rounders in the 2024 draft. The Blues also receive a veteran depth forward in Gaudette for the rest of this season plus a young center in Abramov who might have a future in St. Louis.
Wild GM Bill Guerin used his cap space to buy himself a fourth-round pick. He still has over $12.8 million in projected trade deadline cap room to make other deals before the March 3 deadline.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists to become the first player this season to reach 100 points in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Rangers. Alexis Lafreniere tallied the game-winner and Chris Kreider scored twice in regulation as the Rangers overcame a 4-1 deficit. Winners of seven straight, the Rangers (33-14-8) sit one point behind the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division with 74 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has now reached the 100-point mark six times in eight years. It’s also the fifth time he’s been the first player in a season to reach that plateau, sitting behind Mario Lemieux and Phil Esposito (six teams each) and Wayne Gretzky (nine times).
The Oilers activated winger Kailer Yamamoto off injured reserve. Rather than trade or waive Jesse Puljujarvi as many observers anticipated to make room for Yamamoto, they instead loaned Dylan Holloway and Vincent Desharnais to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored two goals as his club rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on an overtime goal by Andreas Athanasiou. Max Domi and Jake McCabe each had two assists for the 17-32-5 Blackhawks. Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux scored for the Senators (26-24-4) as they sit seven points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 56 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane moved into third place among American-born NHL players with 1,217 points. He’s now 15 points behind Phil Housley for second overall but he has a long way to go yet to catch Mike Modano, who is 157 points ahead with 1,374.
Before the game, former Senator Chris Neil was honored by having his number 25 raised to the rafters in the Canadian Tire Centre. Neil is the third player in modern Senators history to have his number retired, joining Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips.
Speaking of the Islanders, they overcame a 4-3 deficit on third-period goals by Brock Nelson and Zach Parise to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 40 shots while Nelson and Anders Lee each scored two goals as the Islanders (28-23-7) vaulted over the Washington Capitals into the final Eastern wild-card spot with 63 points. Rickard Rakell tallied twice for the Penguins (27-18-9), who also have 63 points but sit in the first wild-card berth with four games in hand over the Isles.
The Minnesota Wild dimmed the Dallas Stars 2-1 on shootout goals by Frederick Gaudreau and Matt Boldy. Filip Gustavsson stopped 29 shots while Mats Zuccarello scored in regulation for the 29-21-5 Wild as they hold a two-point lead over the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 63 points. Jamie Benn scored in regulation for the Stars (30-14-12) as they remain on top of the Western Conference with 72 points.
IN OTHER NEWS…
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau said critical comments made on Twitter by his agent aimed at the club’s recent struggles didn’t represent his opinion about the club or head coach Darryl Sutter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau’s agent is Allan Walsh, who created a stir during the 2020 playoffs with a tweet insinuating that client Marc-Andre Fleury was being stabbed in the back by head coach Peter DeBoer. Fleury was the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights while DeBoer was their head coach.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs moved goaltender Matt Murray to long-term injury reserve following the acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari. Once third-string goaltender Joseph Woll is ready to return to the AHL, the Leafs will have enough room to activate Murray and his $4.6 million salary when he’s healthy again.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed winger Tanner Pearson on LTIR with a season-ending hand injury suffered on Nov. 9.
GOPHNX.COM’s Craig Morgan tweeted that Arizona Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere could return to the lineup on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gostisbehere’s been sidelined since Jan. 24 with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s return will be watched closely by playoff contenders seeking an experienced puck-moving defenseman.
NJ.COM’s Ryan Novozinsky tweeted that the Devils sending Alexander Holtz to their AHL affiliate to the minors isn’t in anticipation of a trade but to give the young forward some game play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtz has only appeared in 19 games this season and doesn’t see much ice time when he does play. I’ve mentioned him as a possible trade chip if they intend to pursue a notable winger such as San Jose’s Timo Meier at the trade deadline.
THE ATHLETIC: Nashville Predators 2021 first-round pick Zachary L’Heureux received a 10-game suspension by the QMJHL for poking at a fan with a stick following a Feb. 8 game.
Former NHL referee Tim Peel is accused of berating teenage youth hockey officials following a Jan. 15 game at St. Peters (Missouri) Rec-Plex.