NHL General Managers On The Hot Seat as Trade Deadline Approaches
Latest on Jack Eichel, Coyotes re-sign Christian Dvorak and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Jack Eichel is ready to lead a locker room of new faces following a summer of change for the Buffalo Sabres. Eichel believes the additions of veterans Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka will bring a good element to the club, while Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary will improve the Sabres’ speed and skill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres played without a captain in 2017-18. Eichel could become the top candidate for the role this season.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday announced they re-signed center Christian Dvorak to a six-year, $26.7-million contract extension. The annual average value is $4.45 million and takes effect in 2019-20. While the big raise and lengthy term for a player with only two years and 70 points on his NHL resume, Coyotes general manager John Chayka believes Dvorak will continue to improve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak put up decent numbers in his first two NHL campaigns, averaging 35 points per season. If the 22-year-old blossoms as a two-way center this deal will turn into a long-term bargain for the Coyotes. If he doesn’t, this contract will become fodder for Chayka’s critics.
UNITED STATES HOCKEY HALL OF FAME: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, former NHL player and coach Gordon “Red” Berenson and former NHL referee Paul Stewart are among the 2018 class of inductees into the US Hockey Hall of Fame. Natalie Darwitz and Leland “Hago” Harrington round out this year’s class.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to this year’s inductees. The ceremony will take place in Nashville on Dec. 12.
TSN: Travis Yost explored salary-cap allocation among the 31 NHL teams for 2018-19. On average, each clubs allots “$42 million for forwards, $22 million for defencemen, $7 million for goaltenders, and about $9 million in unallocated cap space.”
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Former NHL defenseman Enrico Ciccone will be a candidate for the Quebec Liberal Party in the next provincial election. In recent years, Ciccone was a sports columnist on radio and television.
Game recaps, stars of the month, a wildly successful ticket drive in Seattle and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall extended his points streak to 16 games in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. This game saw Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov reach a career-high single-season total of 61 points with a two-goal performance. Florida moved to within three points of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
David Krejci tallied a hat trick as the Boston Bruins thumped the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-4. The two clubs combined for eight goals in the first period. David Pastrnak scored twice and Rick Nash collected two points for the Bruins, while Olli Maatta tallied two goals for the Penguins.
The Nashville Predators moved into first overall in the Western Conference by doubling up the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Viktor Arvdsson scored twice for the Predators. With the win, David Poile became the all-time league leader among general managers with 1,320 victories.
The Carolina Hurricanes snapped a six-game losing skid with a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Justin Williams led the way for the Hurricanes with two goals and an assist.
An overtime goal by Cory Conacher lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars, who overcame a two-goal deficit to force the extra frame. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars, while J.T. Miller collected two assists for the Lightning.
Max Domi collected three assists as the Arizona Coyotes upset the Minnesota Wild 5-3. snapping the Wild’s five-game winning streak. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have won seven of their last 10 contests.
The San Jose Sharks netted seven straight goals to crush the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2. Joe Pavelski scored twice and Dylan DeMelo had three helpers.
Alex Iafallo tallied twice and Christian Folin added three assists as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2.
Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith are the NHL’s three stars for February 2018. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde was named rookie of the month.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Loui Eriksson is out for the remainder of the season with a rib fracture.
CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knight defenseman Luca Sbisa will be sidelined for an extended period with an undisclosed injury.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sent out an open letter to the club’s fans expressing his disappointment over the team’s performance this season and vowing they’ll become Stanley Cup contenders again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melnyk is part of the reason why Senators fans have grown disgruntled in recent years. It’ll take more than a letter to win them back. Management also has a lot of work to do to turn this club back into a Cup contender.
SEATTLE TIMES: A season-ticket drive by the group hoping to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle was a great success. Oak View Group said it acquired 10,000 season-ticket deposits within 12 minutes yesterday and surpassed 25,000 in just over an hour.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nah, there’s no interest in NHL hockey in Seattle at all. This is a significant step toward landing an expansion franchise.
NEWSDAY: Stan Fischler, known for decades as “The Hockey Maven”, will retire at the end of this season from covering NHL games on television. While he’ll continue to cover hockey in print, the 86-year-old intends to spend more time with his family.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Fischler in his future endeavors. His many books on hockey kindled my love of the game and its history during my childhood.
The winners at the NHL Awards and the inaugural roster of the Vegas Golden Knights in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid won the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award in last night’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas. McDavid was also named to the First All-Star Team. The Oilers captain also won the Art Ross Trophy as this season’s leading scorer.
Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won his fourth Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward, tying Hall of Famer Bob Gainey as the only players to win it four times.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns took home the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, beating out Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie for the second time in his career. His head coach John Tortorella won his second Jack Adams award as coach of the year.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews took home the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau won the Lady Byng trophy as the most gentlemanly player and Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance after taking time off during this season to be with his wife Nicholle, who was battling cancer. Nashville Predators general manager David Poile is this season’s GM of the Year.
During the Awards show, the league honored former NHL player Bryan Bickell, whose career was cut short by multiple sclerosis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only surprise for me was Burns winning the Norris. Not that he doesn’t deserve it but I expected Karlsson would take home the award. I know some folks were upset with Tortorella winning the Adams over Toronto’s Mike Babcock and Edmonton’s Todd McLellan but Torts’ Blue Jackets finished the season with more points than the Leafs and Oilers.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, winger James Neal and defenseman Marc Methot are among the notable players making up the Vegas Golden Knights inaugural roster. Here’s a look at the complete list (via TSN)
Teemu Pulkkinen (Coyotes)
William Carrier (Sabres)
Cody Eakin (Stars)
Tomas Nosek (Red Wings)
Jonathan Marchessault (Panthers)
Reilly Smith (Panthers)
Connor Brickley (Hurricanes)
Chris Thorburn (Jets)
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Flyers)
Nikita Gusev (Lightning)
James Neal (Predators)
Mikhail Grabovski (Islanders)
Brendan Leipsic (Maple Leafs)
David Perron (Blues)
Oscar Lindberg (Rangers)
Erik Haula (Wild)
Alex Tuch (Wild)
William Karlsson (Blue Jackets)
David Clarkson (Blue Jackets)
Luca Sbisa (Canucks)
Jon Merrill (Devils)
Brayden McNabb (Kings)
Jason Garrison (Lightning)
Deryk Engelland (Flames)
Jake Bischoff (Islanders)
Colin Miller (Bruins)
Marc Methot (Senators)
David Schlemko (Sharks)
Griffin Reinhart (Oilers)
Alexei Emelin (Canadiens)
Clayton Stoner (Ducks)
Shea Theodore (Ducks)
Trevor van Riemsdyk (Blackhawks)
Nate Schmidt (Capitals)
Calvin Pickard (Avalanche)
Jean-Francois Berube (Islanders)
Marc-Andre Fleury (Penguins)
The Golden Knights also stocked up on draft picks in trades made with several NHL clubs, including two first-round selections in the upcoming 2017 NHL draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the players selected by Vegas could end up flipped to other teams in the upcoming days. I’ll have more on that in my Rumors section later this morning.
Whatever the Golden Knights roster eventually looks like, it certainly won’t be a playoff contender next season. However, management is loading up with draft picks and prospects to stock up their youth pipeline. They also picked up several promising players in Theodore, Schmidt, Pickard, Tuch, Karlsson, Haula and Miller who could form this club’s long-term nucleus.
Analysis of the Ducks, Canucks, the stagnant NHL trade market, World Cup of Hockey exhibition schedule released and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. (more…)