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, an update on Tuukka Rask, Stars reacquire Oleksiak from Penguins, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers extended their win streak to a season-high fourth game by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Rookie goaltender Carter Hart made 31 saves while teammate Travis Konecny scored one goal and assisted on another. Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was a late scratch with a lower-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the New York Rangers.
New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac had a four-point performance in a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo via NHL Images)
New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac had a four-point game (one goal, three assists) to lead his club to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, handing the latter their fourth loss in their last five games. Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid kicked out 37 shots for the win.
Speaking of the Penguins, they traded defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to the Dallas Stars yesterday in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. It was the same pick the Penguins sent the Stars in Dec. 2017 to acquire Oleksiak.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move was made by the Penguins in part to free up salary-cap space to perhaps pursue a second-line left wing or a third-line center before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. It also frees up space on the blueline for Justin Schultz’s eventual return. Schultz suffered a broken leg earlier this season and is listed as week-to-week.
Oleksiak will replace Marc Methot on the Stars’ blueline. Methot underwent season-ending knee surgery on Jan. 15. His tenure with the Stars is likely over as he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. Oleksiak is signed through 2020-21 with an affordable annual salary-cap hit of $2.137 million.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, and Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 27.
BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins placed goaltender Tuukka Rask (concussion) on injured reserve, though they haven’t ruled out his return to the lineup for Thursday game against Philadelphia.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is suing to recover a $200,000 loan to finance a romantic comedy starring his wife and featuring their two children.
Game recaps, Tomas Plekanec to retire, Tuukka Rask on leave of absence, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Blake Wheeler’s five-point performance (one goal, four assists) led the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, handing the latter their five straight defeat. Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists.
Blake Wheeler’s five-point performance carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. (Photo via NHL Images)
Mikael Granlund scored twice and set up another as the Minnesota Wild downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-1, picking up their ninth win in their last 11 games.
Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly each tallied a goal and an assist and Patrick Marleau collected his 600th career NHL assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the New Jersey Devils 6-1.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves and Anthony Duclair scored the game-winning goal as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Washington Capitals 2-1. The Capitals were playing without top defenseman John Carlson, who’s listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Dylan Larkin’s overtime goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Andreas Athanasiou scored the game-tying goal and added an assist.
Chad Johnson made 33 saves for the shutout as the St. Louis Blues blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Jaden Schwartz and Alex Steen each had a goal and an assist.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens placed center Tomas Plekanec on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a mutually-agreed contract termination. The 36-year-old winger is recuperating from a back injury and was skating in practice with the team but the play of Max Domi, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Matthew Peca had made Plekanec redundant. Plekanec has expressed no interest in playing with another NHL club, intending to retire as a Canadien. He played 984 of his 1,001 NHL games with the Habs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This wasn’t what was intended when the Canadiens brought Plekanec back for this season. At the time, the Habs were thin at center and needed all the help they could get. With Domi and Kotkaniemi exceeding expectations and Peca settling as a checking-line regular, there suddenly wasn’t any room for a fading veteran like Plekanec, who last month celebrated his 1,000th career NHL game in Montreal. He plans on continuing his playing career back in the Czech Republic.
NBC SPORTS: The Boston Bruins have granted goaltender Tuukka Rask a leave of absence to deal with a personal matter. General manager Don Sweeney said the issue isn’t health-related and his absence is only expected to be for a few days. Meanwhile, defenseman Charlie McAvoy (upper-body injury) remains sidelined as it appears he’s suffered a setback dealing with what’s believed to be concussion symptoms.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: The Senators have reportedly banned Citizen hockey reporter Ken Warren from traveling on the club’s charter after the paper published a leaked video showing several Senators mocking an assistant coach during a recent Uber ride in Arizona, The club has also banned TSN’s Brent Wallace for last fall asking team owner Eugene Melnyk about a report suggesting he withheld bonus money from his employees.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said yesterday on Twitter when this report appeared, “For a team that’s supposedly moved on from this issue, they keep picking at it like a scab. Not a good look, Sens.” The thin-skinned Melnyk is morphing into a modern-day Harold Ballard with each passing month.
ESPN.COM: A Washington Capitals fans who won $19,000.00 in a recent team 50/50 raffle is returning his winnings to the pot, which is being donated to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to benefit victims and families of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wonderful gesture and yet another example that, even in these trying times, there are still a lot of good people out there.
Game recaps, injury updates, Golden Knights re-sign Alex Tuch, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: After squandering a three-goal lead, the Florida Panthers edged the Washington Capitals 6-5 on a shootout goal by Jonathan Huberdeau, who tallied a goal and two assists in regulation. Lars Eller collected three assists in a losing cause for the Capitals.
Following the game, Panthers coach Bob Boughner took exception to Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin leveling defenseman Mark Pysyk with a high hit in the second period. No penalty was called on Ovechkin as Pysyk left the game with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word this morning if the league will review the incident.
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne suffered a possible head injury during his club’s 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames. (Photo via NHL Images)
The Nashville Predators doused the Calgary Flames 5-3 but lost goaltender Pekka Rinne to an apparent upper-body injury in the third period following a collision with teammate Kevin Fiala. Predators coach Peter Laviolette provided no update on Rinne but said it wasn’t the team’s decision to take the goalie out of the game, leaving open the possibility that it was due to the league’s concussion protocol.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An update on Rinne could be announced later today.
Third-period goals by Matt Dumba, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise carried the Minnesota Wild to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves for the win.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (groin injury) could return to action tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Speaking of the Golden Knights, they signed winger Alex Tuch to a seven-year, $33.25-million contract extension. It’s the longest deal in the club’s short history. The annual average value is $4.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tuch, 22, is an NHL sophomore in the final season of his entry-level contract. He’s currently sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury but rose to prominence during the 2018 playoffs, following up a respectable 37-point rookie season with a six-goal, 10-point performance in 20 postseason games.
The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Tuch can play either wing and has considerable offensive upside. If he reaches his full potential this contract could be considered an affordable long-term investment by the Golden Knights.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider is heading to the club’s AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint. This move is another step in Schneider’s return from off-season hip surgery.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson may have suffered more than a concussion from the hit he received last Saturday by Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson.
Dr. Stefan Sigalet, “a founding practitioner of the Burnaby-based Catalyst Kinetics Group and consulting chiropractor for players in the NHL”, as well as other sports, viewed a video of the incident and believes Pettersson may have also suffered whiplash and a shoulder injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, the Canucks have Pettersson listed on injured reserve with a head injury. No word thus far if he’s suffered other injuries.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec will be out at least two weeks with a back injury. For now, he’s listed as day-to-day.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Christian Dvorak will be sidelined indefinitely following surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.
SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers placed defenseman Matt Benning on IR with an undisclosed injury.
Former NHL forward Jordin Tootoo has announced his retirement. Tootoo made history by becoming the first Inuk player to reach the NHL. He spent eight of this 13 seasons with the Nashville Predators and also skated with the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks.
In 723 regular-season game, Tootoo tallied 65 goals and 96 assists for 161 points and accumulated 1,010 penalty minutes. He also collected 10 points in 43 playoff games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck to Tootoo in his future endeavors.
Game recaps, players of the week, injury updates and much more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Auston Matthews continues to make history with the Toronto Maple Leafs, collecting two assists in his club’s 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Matthews is the fifth player in NHL history to have multiple points in each of his first seven games of a season. Kasperi Kapanen scored twice for the Leafs while Ilya Kovalchuk tallied for the Kings. The Leafs, who’ve won five straight, played without starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, who’s listed as day-to-day with a knee injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews continues to make history this season. (Photo via NHL Images)
Speaking of the Kings, defenseman Drew Doughty admitted he never seriously considered departing Los Angeles as a free agent last summer. He floated the notion of joining the Leafs as a negotiating tactic with Kings management, who inked him earlier this year to an eight-year, $88-million extension.
Tomas Plekanec scored in his 1,000th NHL game, Tomas Tatar scored a goal and collected two assists and Jonathan Drouin scored twice to give the Montreal Canadiens a 7-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Andreas Athanasiou scored twice in a losing cause for the Wings, who’re still seeking their first win (0-4-2) of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired in a preseason trade from the Vegas Golden Knights in the Max Pacioretty trade, Tatar is lighting it up with his new club. With 3 goals and 7 points, he’s the Canadiens’ leading scorer.
Rookie defenseman Maxime Lajoie extended his points streak to three games and Matt Duchene collected two assists in the Ottawa Senators’ 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars. During the game, the Senators paid tribute to their former starting goalie Ray Emery, who passed away over the summer.
P.K. Subban picked up two assists and Filip Forsberg tallied his third goal in two games as the Nashville Predators doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2.
Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, and Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 14, 2018
TSN: Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson received a two-game suspension for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct on Vancouver Canucks rookie forward Elias Pettersson, who is expected to be sidelined 7-10 days with a concussion.
CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Canucks, center Jay Beagle suffered a broken wrist and could miss up to six weeks.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz will be sidelined four months with a fractured lower left leg.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny could be out for two months with a lower-body injury.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Christian Dvorak suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury. More information is expected to be made available later this week.
NBC SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon surprised members of Kenya’s senior men’s hockey team by joining them for a game this summer. The team had been flown to Canada by Tim Horton’s.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad could be a healthy scratch from their upcoming game against the Arizona Coyotes. Saad has struggled this season and was recently demoted to their fourth line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman must be regretting his decision to ship Artemi Panarin to Columbus in June 2017 to bring back Saad. Panarin tallied over 80 points last season while Saad managed 35.
OTTAWA SUN: Dallas Stars defenseman Marc Methot acknowledged he’s been dealing with knee issues since last season. While he hopes to continue playing, he intends to take things one year at a time. Methot is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche claimed winger Marko Dano off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets.
William Nylander’s contract impasse with the Leafs continues plus the Canadiens could be willing to move a forward. Details in your NHL rumor mill.
NYLANDER CONTRACT IMPASSE
TSN: Darren Dreger reports being told there’s no progress in the contract impasse between the Toronto Maple Leafs and restricted free agent William Nylander. Both sides haven’t moved much from their opening positions, with the Leafs believed offering a six-year deal worth $6-million annually while the Nylander camp’s initial asking price was over $8-million annually.
For the Leafs, anything north of $6.5-million annually will affect contract negotiations with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, who will become RFAs next summer.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites Pierre LeBrun discussing the Nylander standoff with Toronto’s TSN 1050 on Wednesday. He was asked if the Anaheim Ducks or Carolina Hurricanes might be trade options if the Leafs decide to go down that road with the 22-year-old forward.
The Ducks’ Brandon Montour and the Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin were mentioned by show host Gord Miller. LeBrun replied the Leafs spoke to the Hurricanes during the summer about Justin Faulk but it was a completely different situation that didn’t involve Nylander. He doesn’t see the Hurricanes parting with Slavin.
No end in sight to William Nylander’s contract standoff with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images)
Bob McKenzie talked about the Nylander situation Wednesday evening on NBCSN, asked if it was possible the Leafs might trade the youngster. McKenzie doesn’t believe they intend to move him as he’s seen as part of their roster core. Nylander doesn’t want to take a hometown discount only to be traded in a couple of years as salary-cap pressures mount for the Leafs.
TVA SPORTS: During a recent appearance on the show Dave Morrissette live, Renaud Lavoie said he believes the Leafs might have to trade Nylander if this standoff drags on.
Lavoie claimed there was a team that told him they would be very surprised if the Nashville Predators didn’t trade one of their defensemen because they’ll eventually have to do it one way or another. He felt they might be a good trade partner for the Leafs. Louis Jean suggests Mattias Ekholm would be the obvious trade candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There might not be any progress in Nylander’s contract negotiations but we’re already starting to see movement in the media rumor mill as some pundits start spitballing trade possibilities.
As McKenzie reminds us, the Leafs insist they don’t want to move Nylander. Maybe that’ll change when the calendar flips to November and the Dec. 1 deadline to get him signed approaches.
If the Hurricanes pursue Nylander they’ll likely offer up Faulk instead of Slavin. However, they’re off to a strong start and are among the league’s goal-scoring leaders. If that trend continues they won’t have any need to acquire a scoring forward like Nylander.
The Ducks could be worth watching as a possible trade destination for Nylander. They’re off to a better-than-expected start but that’s largely thanks to John Gibson’s goaltending and their penalty killing. Their puck-possession numbers aren’t pretty and key forwards such as Corey Perry, Patrick Eaves, and Ondrej Kase remain sidelined.
As for the Predators, I don’t think GM David Poile intends to break up his top-four defense. They helped the Preds reach the 2017 Stanley Cup Final and win their first Presidents’ Trophy last season. Granted, things can always change over the course of a long season. Poile has a reputation for making big moves that catch everyone off-guard, but I don’t think a Nylander-for-Ekholm swap is in the cards.
CANADIENS WILLING TO TRADE A FORWARD.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has informed teams that he’s available for business in terms of possibly trading a forward. Nikita Scherbak and Tomas Plekanec have been healthy scratches while sidelined forwards Nicolas Deslauriers and Jacob de la Rose will be returning soon. The Canadiens could attempt to demote one of them but would risk losing them to another club via waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens won’t get much back if they place one of those guys on the trade block. They’ll likely get a draft pick or a minor leaguer.