Henrik Lundqvist announces his retirement, the Blues to retire Chris Pronger’s number, legendary Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret to call it a career following this season, the viability of moving the Coyotes to Houston, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEW YORK POST: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist officially announced his retirement yesterday after 15 seasons with the New York Rangers and four with Frolunda in Sweden before that. A heart condition has ended his playing career at age 39.
Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has retired (NHL Images).
Lundqvist is the sixth winningest goaltender in NHL history with a record of 459-310-96, a 2.43 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts, along with 61 wins and 10 shutouts in the playoffs. The Rangers immediately retired Lundqvist’s No. 30 and will stage a retirement ceremony later this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist was one of the great goaltenders of his generation and the best in Rangers history. “King Henrik” is their all-time leader in wins, save percentage, shutouts, and game-played by a goalie (887). He’s a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A First Team All-Star in 2011-12 and a Second Team All-Star the following season, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 and was also a four-time Vezina finalist. He backstopped the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and won Olympic gold for his home country of Sweden in 2006.
Best wishes to Lundqvist and his family in their future endeavors.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced they will retire Chris Pronger’s No. 44 on Jan. 17 before a game against the Nashville Predators. The former Blues captain is among their franchise leaders in games played (598), assists (272) and points (356).
A four-time All-Star, Pronger’s best season was 1999-2000, becoming just the second defenseman in NHL history to win the Hart Memorial Trophy and the James Norris Memorial Trophy. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
WGR 550: Long-time Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will retire at the end of the 2021-22 season. This will be his 51st season behind the mike for the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jeanneret is one of the best in the business. His iconic call of Brad May’s series-winning overtime goal against the Boston Bruins in the 1993 playoffs is among my favorites.
THE ATHLETIC: News of the Arizona Coyotes’ lease agreement with Gila River Arena ending next year prompted some observers to suggest relocating the franchise to Houston. However, Dallas Stars CEO Brad Alberts told Saad Yousef he doesn’t think that’s a possibility, saying there’s been no discussion at the league level about putting a team in that city.
Alberts said he’s heard rumors that Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta wants an NHL franchise in his city but doesn’t know for certain if he does. He acknowledged things can change but doesn’t believe the league intends to abandon Phoenix.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said yesterday, the league will do everything it can to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. If that’s not possible, moving to a new city requires a wealthy owner with a viable NHL arena. Fertitta was keen to do so two years ago but that was before the pandemic disrupted normal life. He might not be so enthusiastic now.
TSN: The Calgary Flames avoided salary arbitration with Nikita Zadorov by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $3.75 million contract. They also signed blueliner Juuso Valimaki to a two-year, $3.1 million deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves Philadelphia Flyers rearguard Travis Sanheim as the only player still scheduled for arbitration. His hearing is slated for Aug. 26 but he’ll probably be signed before then.
The tentative schedule for the rest of this season, more tidbits from the CBA extension, Devils to hire Lindy Ruff as head coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY AND CBA EXTENSION NEWS
TSN: Frank Seravalli provided updates to the tentative key dates for the NHL’s return-to-play plan.
More details revealed of the NHL-NHLPA return-to-play plan & CBA extension (Image via NHL.com).
July 13 remains the start date for training camps under Phase 3. On July 24, teams will travel to their respective hub city for the playoff tournament under Phase 4.
July 25: Exhibition games begin
July 30: Qualifying round begins
Aug. 9: Opening round of the playoffs begins
Aug. 23: Second round begins
Sept. 6: Conference Finals begin
Sept. 20: Stanley Cup Final begins
Oct. 2: Last possible game of the Cup Final
Oct. 6: 2020 NHL Draft. The draft must be held following the end of the playoffs and before free agency begins
Oct. 9: Free Agency begins (or seven days following the end of the Stanley Cup Final, whichever is later)
Nov. 17: Training camps open for the 2020-21 season
Dec. 1: 2020-21 regular season begins
All dates are subject to change.
The NHL and NHLPA also have an agreement to abandon the return-to-play plan if the number of players opting-out on a team- or league-wide basis adversely affects the integrity of the post-season.
COLORADO SPORTS NOW: Adrian Dater reports the opt-out deadline has been extended to Monday night (July 13).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers doubt a large number of players will opt-out. We’ll know for certain by Monday night.
Bob McKenzie reports the summary of the memorandum of understanding lists Edmonton and Toronto as the host cities for Phase 4. The Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto and the Western Conference clubs in Edmonton. The Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final will be held in one host city but that has yet to be determined.
The final paycheck for 2019-20 that the players deferred will now be used to pay down escrow.
The late start of the 2020-21 season means the players will receive one paycheck in the fall.
ESPN: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL is working on its US broadcast plans for the 24-team playoff tournament. The qualification and round-robin games will be shown locally on regional sports networks. Discussions are ongoing over how many of the games will be shown nationally on NBC Sports Network.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unsubstantiated rumors suggested the games would be televised on pay-per-view. That’s not happening because of existing television contracts in the United States and Canada.
THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Jason Kay cited reports of an Edmonton hospital effectively shutting its doors because of a full-facility COVID-19 outbreak. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “at this point” he doesn’t expect it’ll affect the league’s hub city announcement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think it’ll affect things as long as there’s no indication it could spread into the proposed secure area of The Ice District in Edmonton.
Some interesting CBA extension tidbits were revealed:
Frank Seravalli reports the one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents before the start of the free-agent market has been eliminated.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, it’s back to general managers working the phones with player agents trying to hammer out new contracts. I’m pleased with this development, as it will bring back the intrigue and excitement that was disappearing from the start of the free-agent period Because of the interview period, we knew where most of the top UFAs were going a day or two before the market opened. Now, it’s back to the good old guessing game as it should be.
The maximum entry-level base salary will rise to $950K for 2022-23 and 2023-24, then to $975K for 2024-25 and 2025-26, and $1 million for 2026-27. Entry-level bonuses will also increase.
TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports trade conditions that make it harder for a player to re-sign with the team that acquired him won’t be allowed. For example, if a player is traded for a third-round pick but it becomes a first if the player signs with his new club.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports clubs that have a performance overage for this season will have the option to evenly distribute it between 2020-21 and 2021-22 (50 percent each season).
IN OTHER NEWS…
NORTHJERSEY.COM: cites NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting the New Jersey Devils are expected to name Lindy Ruff as their new head coach. Ruff is an assistant coach with the New York Rangers and is the former head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. The Devils are also expected to make interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald their full-time GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff’s hiring is garnering mixed reactions from Devils fans. Supporters cite his experience and success in Buffalo, while detractors consider him the wrong coach for a rebuilding club.
Fitzgerald earned his opportunity as the full-time GM, going a good job in difficult circumstances on short notice following the midseason firing of Ray Shero.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Chris Pronger has stepped down as the Florida Panthers senior VP of hockey operations to focus on his family’s high-end travel agency business.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo cites a source reporting Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to sign prospect Kirill Kaprizov for 2019-20 and burn the first year of his three-year entry-level deal if Kaprizov is willing to do so. Under the terms of the CBA extension, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the upcoming playoff tournament.
Patrik Laine’s hat trick power the Jets over the Senators, Ilya Kovalchuk comes through again for the Canadiens, Claude Giroux reached 800 career points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrik Laine tallied a hat trick and Kyle Connor picked up four points as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Laine moved past Sidney Crosby with the seventh-most goals (133) scored by a player before the age of 22. With 61 points, the Jets passed the Arizona Coyotes into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Patrik Laine’s hat trick powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).
Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. While they also have 61 points, the Jets hold a game in hand. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 29 saves to extend his home points streak to a team-record 18 games. Charlie Coyle scored twice and Patrice Bergeron had a three-point game. The Bruins (80 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals in the overall standings. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was scratched before the game with a lower-body injury.
Two third-period goals by Leon Draisaitl lifted the Edmonton Oilers over the Nashville Predators 3-2. The Oilers had a scare when captain Connor McDavid suffered a bruised knee in the second period, but he returned to play over five minutes in the third. Draisaitl (85 points) holds a four-point lead over McDavid for top spot in the NHL scoring race. The Oilers (64 points) moved within a point of the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division, while the Predators (59 points) remain two points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.
The Montreal Canadiens edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. Marco Scandella scored the tying goal late in the third period. John Tavares tallied for the Leafs. Kovalchuk leads the Habs with three game-winning goals, with two of those in overtime. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin returned to action for the first time since suffering a wrist injury on Nov. 15. The Canadiens (61 points) are five points behind the Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 18 games with a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and an assist for the Bolts, who’ve won six straight and remain five points behind the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Ryan McDonagh will be sidelined for two weeks with a lower-body injury.
Kris Letang had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry kicked out 33 shots as the Pittsburgh Penguins hung on for a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Penguins (73 points) sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood picked up his second straight shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Nikita Gusev, Blake Coleman, and Kyle Palmieri were the goal scorers. The Kings have dropped nine of their last 10 contests.
Claude Giroux picked up three points, including his 800th career point, as the Philadelphia Flyers thumped the Washington Capitals 7-2. Sean Couturier tallied two goals for the Flyers, while Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin remains two goals away from 700 career goals. The Flyers (67 points) sit just outside the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Third-period goals by Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, ending Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins’ winning streak at eight games. The Jackets (69 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division.
Dallas Stars winger Roope Hintz scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Stars sit third in the Central Division with 67 points. Dallas winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with an upper-body injury.
The Calgary Flames snapped a three-game losing skid by thrashing the Vancouver Canucks 6-2. Christian Dube had a goal and two assists and Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist for the Flames (62 points), who cling to the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Canucks winger Brock Boeser left the game with an apparent arm injury and could be sidelined for a little while.
Shootout goals by Andrei Svechnikov and Justin Williams gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 6-5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Jake Gardiner picked up three assists for the Hurricanes, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points. The Golden Knights (64 points) sit third in the Pacific Division.
IN OTHER NEWS…
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues will retired Chris Pronger’s No. 44 next season. The date has yet to be announced. Pronger had his best seasons with the Blues, spending nine years in St. Louis. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, Pronger won the Hart and Norris Trophies with the Blues in 2000.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes organization may face $5 million in fines if found guilty of allegations involving physical fitness testing of draft prospects.
TSN: The International Olympic Committee engaged with the NHL last week. It’s unclear if they offered enough to sway the league into allowing its players to participate in future Winter Olympics.
Carrying a seemingly unmovable contract, David Clarkson was traded twice.
The limitations of the salary cap and no-movement clauses were thought to make the trading of expensive, long-term NHL contracts almost impossible. But in recent years, general managers found clever ways to deal with seemingly unmovable contracts.
A prime example is the seven-year, $36.75 million contract winger David Clarkson signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 5, 2013. Critics derided the idea of the Leafs committing so much for so long to Clarkson, a gritty 29-year-old winger with just one decent offensive season under his belt.
The term and salary breakdown (including $7 million in actual salary in years four and five) were cited as factors making Clarkson’s contract difficult to trade or buy out. Toss in the no-movement and modified no-trade clauses and the Leafs appeared to be stuck with this contract for years if Clarkson failed to play up to expectations.
Clarkson subsequently struggled through his first two seasons in Toronto, hampered by injury and his own skill limitations. However, then-Leafs general manager Dave Nonis pulled off the seemingly impossible at the 2014 trade deadline, shipping Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Nathan Horton.
On the same day the Leafs signed Clarkson, the Blue Jackets inked Horton to seven-year, $37.1 million deal. Unlike Clarkson, Horton was a proven offensive talent with six straight 40-plus point seasons on his resume. He’d also helped the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Final two years later.
Unfortunately, a back injury derailed Horton’s career. However, he didn’t formally retire. While the Jackets would get cap relief if needed by placing him on long-term injury reserve, they still had to pay out his annual salary over the remaining term of his contract.
Rather than carry a player who was all but retired due to injury, Jackets management felt it worthwhile to move his contract for a forward with a comparable salary who could still contribute to the roster. The Leafs, meanwhile, were quite willing to carry the dead cap space of someone who would never skate for them simply to get Clarkson’s contract off their books.
In a cruel twist, however, Clarkson eventually suffered his own career-ending back injury. The Jackets were seemingly no better off than when they were carrying Horton on their books.
But fate intervened in the form of the 2017 NHL expansion draft. Clarkson agreed to waive his no-trade clause, allowing the Jackets to ship his contract, along with two draft picks, to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
The move cost the Jackets their first-round pick (twenty-fourth overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft and their second-round selection in 2019. Already stocked with good young talent, however, this proved a small price to pay to shed the final three seasons of Clarkson’s deal.
Golden Knights GM George McPhee is under no illusion that Clarkson might stage a comeback. He has the available cap space to carry the remaining term of the sidelined winger’s contract and saw an opportunity to use it to his advantage to build up his infant club’s depth for the future.
Clarkson and Horton aren’t the only inactive players whose contracts were traded in recent years. On June 27, 2015, the Philadelphia Flyers shipped defensemen Chris Pronger and Nicklas Grossmann to the Arizona Coyotes for center Sam Gagner. Pronger’s Hall of Fame career was prematurely ended by head trauma suffered during a game in October 2011.
The Flyers freed up some much-needed salary-cap space. The Coyotes, meanwhile, moved a player who no longer fit into their plans for 2015-16 and added a serviceable player in Grossmann to their talent-thin blueline.
Several days later, on July 1, 2015, the Boston Bruins shipped center Marc Savard’s contract and winger Reilly Smith to the Florida Panthers for forward Jimmy Hayes.
Like Pronger, Savard’s playing days were cut short by concussion in 2011. At the time of the trade, his contract still had two years remaining with an annual cap hit of just over $4 million. The Bruins had been placing him annually on LTIR, but like the Flyers with Pronger, found an opportunity to shed that contract in a larger deal. Nearly a year later, the Panthers dealt Savard’s contract to the New Jersey Devils (along with a 2018 second-round draft pick) for two minor leaguers.
In 2016, long-time Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk announced his NHL retirement to finish his playing career in Russia. Because he was on a plus-35 contract, the Wings wouldn’t get any relief from his $7.5 million annual cap hit for 2016-17.
Like the Flyers a year earlier, the Wings found a solution to their potential salary-cap headache with the Coyotes. During the opening round of the 2016 NHL Draft, they shipped Datysuk’s contract and their first-round pick (sixteenth overall) in to Arizona for the twentieth and fifty-third picks plus forward Joe Vitale.
Once again, the Coyotes had the cap space to take on that final season of Datsyuk’s deal, providing the Wings with some valuable cap space. They also landed themselves a quality prospect, using the first-round pick they got from Detroit to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
Not every supposedly difficult-to-move contract involves sidelined or retired players.
On July 1, 2015, the Leafs traded Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington and the Pens first-and third-round picks in the 2016 NHL draft. At the time, Kessel was entering the second season of his eight-year, $64 million contract, which also carried no-movement and modified no-trade clauses.
The Leafs had to retain $1.2 million of Kessel’s $8 million annual salary-cap hit to make the deal work. The ability for teams to retain a portion of a player’s annual average salary in the current collective bargaining agreement made it possible for this deal to go through. It’s doubtful this trade would’ve taken place under the previous CBA when salary retention wasn’t allowed.
It’s what also helped the Vancouver Canucks trade goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers on March 5, 2014. The Canucks agreed to pick up 15 percent ($800,000 annually) of Luongo’s annual salary-cap hit over the remaining eight years of his 12-year contract.
Granted, Luongo’s desire to be dealt and the Panthers willingness to bring him back to Florida were the major factors in getting this deal done. Still, the salary retention factor certainly helped propel things along.
Sometimes, a team’s need to address a significant roster issue can still result in a trade of a player carrying an expensive cap hit.
On June 17, the Arizona Coyotes shipped goaltender Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Chad Johnson, Brandon Hickey and a conditional draft pick. Smith, 35, has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of over $5.6 million.
Despite Smith’s age, salary and recent injury history, the Flames were desperate enough for a starting goaltender that they’re willing to take a chance on him. What also helped, of course, was the Coyotes’ willingness to pick up over $1.4 million annually of his remaining cap hit (stick tap to “ProScout”).
On June 23, the Edmonton Oilers sent right wing Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for winger Ryan Strome. Though Eberle’s production declined in recent years and he carries a $6 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons, the Isles felt he’d be an upgrade over the disappointing (but more affordable) Strome.
And on June 30, the Minnesota Wild packaged veteran winger Jason Pominville and defenseman Marco Scandella to the Buffalo Sabres for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno.
Pominville, 34, has two seasons remaining on his contract worth an annual cap hit of $5.6 million. His best seasons are behind him, but the Sabres were willing to bring him back to Buffalo to provide some veteran experience and leadership to their rebuilding roster.
The principals in each of these three trades – Smith, Eberle and Pominville – each had only two seasons remaining on their respective deals. That undoubtedly made their new teams willing to swallow their pricey annual average salaries.
Expensive long-term deals are still difficult to move, especially those with no-trade clauses. Finding a trade partner with sufficient salary-cap space to comfortably absorb a costly annual cap hit is a difficult test for any NHL general manager.
Still, under the right conditions, a seemingly unmovable NHL contract can be traded.
The Arizona Coyotes mutually part ways with head coach Dave Tippett.
On the eve of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Arizona Coyotes part ways with Dave Tippett. Details and more notable news in your morning coffee headlines.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes announced it has mutually parted ways with long-time head coach Dave Tippett regarding some philosophical differences over the running of the team.
Tippett reportedly wasn’t happy with trading away goaltender Mike Smith and how the club handled its decision not to re-sign captain Shane Doan. None of the other members of the coaching staff were let go.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s no coincidence these recent changes took place after Andrew Barroway became the Coyotes’ sole owner earlier this month. The timing of Tippett’s departure, however, could cause some difficulty for the Coyotes on the eve of the 2017 NHL Draft, as he had considerable input regarding player management decisions.
NHL.COM: With the first overall selection in the 2017 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils could end up choosing either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. Both are considered the top-two prospects in this year’s draft.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to place winger Marian Hossa ($5.25 million annual cap hit) on long-term injury reserve for next season. Hossa will sit out the 2017-18 season because of a serious skin allergy related to his hockey equipment.
“A source said the most likely route the Hawks will take to replace Hossa is the “in-season” injured reserve approach. The means the Hawks will carry Hossa and his cap hit on the roster to start the season, then place him on injured reserve after the season begins.” That move would give the Blackhawks more flexibility with their roster during the season.
They could also attempt to trade Hossa’s rights to a club in need of reaching the $55.4 million salary cap minimum, but the Blackhawks could be reluctant to do that because it’s uncertain if his playing career is over.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some consider the timing of Hossa’s decision to skip next season suspicious because it could provide the cap-strapped Blackhawks with salary-cap relief. However, I doubt there’s anything fishy about this. Hossa’s suffered with this rare skin condition for some time and the medication he was taking to address the problem carried potential long-term health concerns. It remains to be seen if this brings about the end of his long playing career.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks are considering a one-year, bonus-laden contract offer for goaltender Ryan Miller.
SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston reports the Edmonton Oilers will match any offer sheet for restricted free agent forward Leon Draisaitl.
NBC SPORTS: The Vegas Golden Knights reportedly aren’t interested in trading defensemen Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt.
MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Panthers hired Chris Pronger as an adviser to general manager Dale Tallon.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year contract worth $650K annually.
NHL.COM: The league released its schedule for 2017-18. The curtain rises on October 4, 2017.
San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau celebrates his 500th career NHL goal.
Game recaps, waiver updates and the latest on the 2018 Winter Olympics in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Long-time San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau scored his 500th career NHL goal as his club downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Chris Tierney also scored twice for the Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Marleau for his incredible achievement. He is the fifth active NHL player to score 500 goals, joining Jaromir Jagr (758), Jarome Iginla (617), Alex Ovechkin (550) and Marian Hossa (518).
Erik Karlsson collected three assists and Matt Stone scored twice to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, who’ve won only once in their last seven games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have tumbled to second-last in the Eastern Conference and sit eight points out of playoff contention. If they don’t reverse this skid soon, this supposed Stanley Cup contender can forget about reaching the postseason.
Ondrej Pavelec turned in a 39-save performance and Mark Scheifele scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Dallas Stars 4-3. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored a goal and set up two others in a losing cause.
Pekka Rinne made 31 saves while Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen each netted a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators blanked the Edmonton Oilers 2-0.
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from a horrible effort against Columbus earlier this week with a 36-save performance to carry his club to a 2-1 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres. Chris Kreider tallied the winner with 1:04 left in the extra frame.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistency has plagued Lundqvist throughout this season. The Rangers need a steadier effort from him over the remainder of this season and into the playoffs.
Mike Yeo got his first win as head coach of the St. Louis Blues as his club cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Paul Stastny scored twice and set up another while Colton Parayko also had a three-point performance.
First-period goals by Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman and Marion Hossa powered the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. It was the Hawks first win in four games.
Matt Read’s first goal since Nov. 27 turned out to be the game winner as the Philadelphia Flyers downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-1.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche claimed defenseman Mark Barberio off waivers yesterday from the Montreal Canadiens.
SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston yesterday reported “Cal O’Reilly (BUF), Eric Gelinas (COL) and Luke Gazdic (NJ) have all been placed on waivers.”
NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed goaltender Alex Stalock to a two-year contract. It’s one way for the first season (2017-18) and two-way the following season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Darcy Kuemper due to become a UFA this summer, this move ensures the Wild can protect starter Devan Dubnyk.
TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr will be meeting with International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation officials today to discuss the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this. While not much is expected from this meeting, it’s possible Bettman will use this opportunity to try and extract some additional concessions from the PA, the IOC and IIHF regarding participation in next year’s Winter Games. While the league board of governors isn’t interested in taking part, Bettman is not acting like someone who wants to fully slam the door on this issue. NHL players very much want to take part so Fehr’s presence also lends an interesting level of intrigue to the proceedings.
TORONTO SUN: Chris Pronger jokingly said he’s fined himself five dollars for squashing pop star Justin Bieber against the glass during the celebrity exhibition game during the recent All-Star weekend. Pronger works with the NHL’s department of player safety.