Is there a way the Oilers could acquire the Sharks’ Erik Karlsson in the offseason? What are the priorities facing Daniel Briere as the Flyers’ general manager? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).
While the 32-year-old defenseman is enjoying a career year and was the subject of trade speculation, his $11.5 million average annual value through 2026-27 proved too difficult to move before the March 3 trade deadline. Given Karlsson’s age, Duhatschek doesn’t expect his contract will age well, making him harder to trade and more difficult to get actual value in return.
The Edmonton Oilers were the only club to seriously look into acquiring Karlsson. Duhatschek wondered if trading Jack Campbell and his $5 million AAV to the Sharks might make it possible for the Oilers to accommodate Karlsson’s contract. The Sharks are rebuilding and their goaltending hasn’t been great. Playing in San Jose might give Campbell the opportunity to turn his career around in a relatively stress-free environment.
Duhatschek proposed the Sharks retain around $2 million annually of Karlsson’s cap hit. The Oilers could then part with two or three young assets the Sharks would be looking for, such as Phillip Broberg and Xavier Bourgault.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Duhatschek is merely spitballing here. On its face, it seems like a sensible proposal.
Karlsson might be willing to join the Oilers and play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, perhaps becoming the missing piece that finally puts them over the top. The Sharks would get most of Karlsson’s salary off their books and receive some long-term assets to help with their rebuild. They would also get a starting goalie in the short term who might regain his form playing for a rebuilding club where the spotlight won’t be as harsh.
However, this deal depends on whether the Sharks will retain some of Karlsson’s cap hit and their willingness to take the struggling Campbell off the Oilers’ hands. If the answer is no, we can forget about seeking Karlsson skating on the Edmonton blueline next season.
WHAT ARE THE PRIORITIES FACING FLYERS GM DANIEL BRIERE?
THE SCORE: John Matisz recently looked at what could be the high-level priorities on the to-do list for Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere if he’s named their full-time GM following this season.
Matisz believes Briere must attempt to acquire another 2023 first-round draft pick or an early second-rounder. He suggested shopping defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim but felt peddling Carter Hart and Travis Konecny could be complicated and carry more downside.
Offloading the contracts of Kevin Hayes and Rasmus Ristolainen is another priority. Hayes is not head coach John Tortorella’s favorite player plus he’s a salary-dump candidate given his age and contract. Matisz admits trading Ristolainen and his $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27 would be challenging.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere last week indicated he’s committed to a rebuild but that doesn’t mean a roster fire sale. Hayes and Provorov seem the most likely to be moved. Sanheim could be peddled but I think he might fit into Briere’s long-term plans.
I agree with Matisz about the complications of moving Hart or Konecny. One or both could force the issue, especially Hart as he is a restricted free agent next year. However, they would be worth retaining if they want to be part of the solution.
Ristolainen lacks no-trade protection. However, I think there are only three ways Briere could move him and none of them are palatable. He can retain up to half of the blueliner’s cap hit, take back a toxic contract in return, or package him this summer with the Flyers’ first-round pick.
Interim Flyers GM Daniel Briere talks about his club’s plans, the latest Erik Karlsson speculation and the chances of Dmitry Orlov staying with the Bruins after this season in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
NO FIRE SALE FOR FLYERS, SAYS BRIERE
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere acknowledged his club’s need for a multiyear rebuild as he campaigns for the job on a full-time basis. Briere took over from fired GM Chuck Fletcher on Friday for the remainder of the season.
Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere will likely take over on a full-time basis in the offseason after ownership evaluates his performance over the remainder of the season. If they opt for another GM candidate, he could take over as president of hockey operations.
Briere cautioned that a rebuild doesn’t mean a fire sale of roster players. “We’re not going to get rid of everybody,” he said. “We have some good players here, some players that are in certain roles that we are going to keep as well.” Briere added that he and his staff will evaluate players and hockey operations staff with an eye toward the future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere’s comments yesterday could be a response to recent trade conjecture regarding Flyers such as Kevin Hayes, Ivan Provorov and Carter Hart. There was speculation before the March 3 trade deadline that Briere’s predecessor had engaged in trade talks regarding Hayes and Provorov.
Briere could be looking at which players will fit best into their multiyear rebuild. Hayes (30) might not be part of those plans. Provorov is only 26 but becomes eligible in two years’ time for UFA status and might not fit into their long-term scheme.
Hart, 23, could have a future with the Flyers if he’s willing to be part of a rebuild. He’s got a year left on his contract but Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek observed on Saturday that the Flyers can sign him this summer to a contract extension.
Those on long-term contracts such as Joel Farabee (23) and Travis Sanheim (26) could also be part of their plans. Travis Konecny (26) could also fit into their program but (like Provorov) he’s only got two more years left on his deal and might not wish to stick with a rebuilding team.
I can see Briere trying to move Ryan Ellis’ contract if the 32-year-old defenseman’s career is truly over. It’ll be interesting to see what he would have in mind for sidelined forwards like 33-year-old Cam Atkinson and 30-year-old center Sean Couturier.
LATEST ON ERIK KARLSSON AND DMITRY ORLOV
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont expects the San Jose Sharks to renew trade talks regarding Erik Karlsson leading up to and including the 2023 NHL draft in late June. GM Mike Grier had deals on the line before the March 3 trade deadline but interested clubs were reluctant or unable to absorb a high percentage of Karlsson’s $11.5 million average annual value for the next four years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams usually have more salary cap space to work with from mid-June through early July leading up to the NHL draft and the annual start of the free-agent period on July 1. Perhaps one can be found willing to take on most or all of Karlsson’s contract.
One reader persistently emails me claiming the Sharks can move Karlsson without retaining any of his $11.5 million cap hit. I don’t disagree that it’s possible, but doing so involves moving a lot of salary to the Sharks or making multiple trades with the Sharks and other teams to make the dollars fit. That could do more harm than good to a club’s roster depth, adding a superstar to the blueline but creating holes elsewhere in the roster that could prove difficult to plug.
The easiest way for the Sharks to move Karlsson remains absorbing a portion of his cap hit, especially if the cap only rises as projected by $1 million for 2023-24. If it goes higher than expected, the greater the chances of trading him without having to retain some of his salary.
Dupont doesn’t expect the Boston Bruins will be able to retain recently-acquired defenseman Dmitry Orlov after this season. With Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm on expensive long-term deals, it’s difficult to see the Bruins offering the 31-year-old Orlov more than four years at his current $5.1 million AAV. Doing so would also mean shipping out Brandon Carlo or Matt Grzelcyk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $10.5 million in projected cap space for next season with only 13 roster players under contract. As Dupont points out, Orlov’s a rental player for this season unless the Bruins free up room to sign him and he’s willing to accept a short-term deal for around $5 million.
SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek repeated his earlier report of conversations between the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets regarding Flyers forward Kevin Hayes. Given the Flyers’ recent change in management and anticipated rebuild, he expects those talks with the Jackets about Hayes to pick up again closer to the 2023 Draft in late June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes’ contract ($7.14 average annual value through 2025-26) was difficult to move during a season with a flattened salary cap. Despite his 12-team no-trade clause, the 30-year-old center might be easier to trade between late June and early July when clubs have more cap space to work with.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (NHL Images)
The Blue Jackets have a longstanding need for skilled centers. Cap Friendly shows they have a projected $18.3 million in cap space for 2023-24 with 17 players under contract and all their core players signed for next season. They have room to take on Hayes but could still ask the Flyers to retain part of his cap hit or take back some salary in return.
Marek also wondered about Carter Hart’s future with the Flyers given the emergence of goaltender Samuel Ersson, who’s been up and down this season between the big club and their AHL affiliate.
Hart has a year remaining on his contract but the Flyers can extend him this summer. However, if they’re going to go through a rebuild, Marek wondered what Hart could fetch on the trade market and if the 24-year-old netminder wants to spend the best seasons of his career with a rebuilding Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart was supposed to be the franchise goalie the Flyers have been lacking since Ron Hextall’s glory days in the late-1980s. He showed plenty of promise in his first two NHL seasons, including out-dueling Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in the 2020 playoffs. However, he struggled the following season and has had to deal with a depleted team in front of him since 2021-22.
Hart carries an affordable $3.9 million cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. He’ll also be eligible for salary arbitration.
Given Hart’s age and potential, the Flyers shouldn’t have any trouble finding suitors this summer if they decide to tear it all down or if he’s reluctant to be part of a long rebuild process. As Marek suggested, Hart’s situation will be something worth watching in the offseason.
Marek also briefly wondered about Ivan Provorov’s future in Philadelphia.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provorov surfaced in the rumor mill during the weeks leading up to the March 3 trade deadline. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an AAV of $6.75 million and lacks no-trade protection.
Like Hayes, moving his salary during a season with a flattened salary cap was difficult to do. Perhaps they’ll have better luck in the offseason provided they’re willing to consider moving him.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reported a lot of teams have an interest in Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser. However, a lot of them have balked at his $6.65 million average annual value through 2024-25. The Canucks are open to retaining part of the 25-year-old winger’s cap hit if it helps them net a good return. They’ve even spoken of including draft capital in the deal.
Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).
CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reported yesterday that a Boeser trade is not close. He’s expected to play tonight against the Minnesota Wild. Two teams are calling about the winger but his contract is difficult to move and Dhaliwal doubts the Canucks have much of an appetite to retain much salary. They’re also not about to give him away. Dhaliwal considers Boeser easier to move in the offseason when teams have more cap space to work with.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Boeser acknowledged hearing his name in trade rumors before but this year it feels more real. Some of that is because the Canucks have authorized his agent to speak with other clubs about trading for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve been saying the same thing about Boeser since he first surfaced in the rumor mill this season. If the Canucks want to move his entire cap hit from their books, the summer is the best time to do it. However, they’ll have to work quickly. Once the free-agent market opens on July 1, the number of teams with the cap space to take on his cap hit will quickly dwindle.
COULD TYLER BERTUZZI BE THE NEXT RED WING TO BE TRADED?
**UPDATE** The Red Wings traded Bertuzzi this morning to the Boston Bruins for a conditional first-round pick in 2024 (top-10 protected) and a 2025 fourth-rounder. The Wings have retained 50 percent of Bertuzzi’s $4.75 million cap hit for this season.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff reports growing speculation regarding Tyler Betuzzi’s future with the Red Wings following the club’s trade of Filip Hronek to Vancouver yesterday. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan considers Bertuzzi the Wings’ best trade chip heading toward Friday’s deadline. They can’t risk losing him this summer to free agency. Bertuzzi could fetch a decent return.
Wings general manager Steve Yzerman would also like to move struggling winger Jakub Vrana. However, he has a year remaining on his contract at $5.25 million and the Wings might have to retain some of his salary to move him. Winger Filip Zadina could also be available but his lack of production and the two years remaining on his contract at $1.825 million annually could hurt his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi should generate interest from playoff contenders or perhaps clubs seeking a top-six winger willing to attempt to sign him to a contract extension. The Leafs, Stars and Oilers all lack sufficient cap space to acquire him. The Hurricanes still have some wiggle room with $2.6 million in projected cap space after acquiring defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere yesterday.
LATEST FLYERS SPECULATION
TSN: Darren Dreger yesterday reported the Philadelphia Flyers are taking calls on Ivan Provorov. The 26-year-old defenseman carries an AAV of $6.25 million for two more seasons. Dreger believes it would take a significant offer to convince the Flyers to move him.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reported the Flyers are trying to move Provorov but a deal hasn’t emerged yet. Meanwhile, she believes there’s a limited market this week for forward Kevin Hayes even if the Flyers retained part of his $7.1 million cap hit. Pending UFA winger James van Riemsdyk remains the most likely to be moved by Friday’s deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers could surprise by shipping out Provorov and/or Hayes, which would certainly provide some excitement for what’s shaping up to be a quiet deadline day. However, I agree with Kaplan that van Riemsdyk is the most likely to be traded, and I can see the Flyers retaining part of his $7 million AAV for the right return.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski tweeted that Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he’s communicated with Quick and his agent. He said he has the utmost respect for the goaltender and his career and will “try to do the right thing” for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick’s performance really declined this season which is why the Kings decided to trade him for Joonas Korpisalo. The rebuilding Jackets will probably retain half of his $5.8 million cap hit for a suitable offer. Perhaps a playoff contender looking for an experienced backup will take a chance on him.
LATEST ON COLTON PARAYKO
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a source claims the St. Louis Blues want to move a defenseman. Colton Parayko seemed the likely candidate due to his poor performance this season and the Blues desire to free up salary-cap space.
Despite the 29-year-old Parayko’s struggles, there is interest in him around the league. However, a source close to the blueliner, who was born in St. Albert, Alberta, claimed he would only waive his no-trade clause to go to Edmonton.
Rutherford believes this situation could carry over into the offseason if Blues GM Doug Armstrong can’t find a suitable deal by the trade deadline. Of course, it will depend on whether Parayko will agree to be moved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parayko is signed through 2029-30 with an AAV of $6.5 million. Given his on-ice difficulties this season, that contract could prove difficult to move if the Blues don’t retain part of his salary, which I doubt they want to do. It could come down to swapping him for a comparable contract. If Parayko remains adamant about only going to Edmonton, he’ll be with the Blues for a long time.
It’s been a week since Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear a rainbow jersey in a pregame skate against the Anaheim Ducks as part of his team’s Pride Night in support of the LGBTQ+ community. The fallout continues to resonate around the NHL.
Provorov, who is Russian Orthodox, cited his religious beliefs for his decision during a post-game press scrum. “I respect everybody and respect everybody’s choices,” he said following the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
Flyers coach John Tortorella supported his blueliner. “Provy did nothing wrong,” he said days later. “Just because you disagree with his decision doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.”
The Flyers and the NHL released statements expressing support for the LGBTQ+ community but also for their players’ right to make their own decisions. That didn’t sit well with a number of pundits and fans as they publicly condemned Provorov, Tortorella, the Flyers and the NHL.
This is what happens when human rights bump against freedom of religion and the right to one’s opinion. It is a complex issue that evokes strong words that too often are based on tribalism rather than serious discussion or debate.
It was a no-win situation for the Flyers and the NHL. Condemn and suspend Provorov, and they make him a martyr to those who oppose “cancel culture” and fear the trampling of individual rights. Support his right to his opinion and beliefs and they would be seen as shielding him while harming their relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.
For the record, I don’t support Provorov’s position. I believe in equality for LGBTQ+ people and feel they’re as worthy of the same rights and freedoms that I enjoy as a white heterosexual man. I don’t have any problem with special events or campaigns that support them. Some of you will agree with me, others won’t. So be it.
Provorov has the right to his opinion and to his religious beliefs in North American society. However, they don’t shield him from the consequences of his decision.
His critics have the right to question his opinion and religious beliefs, particularly because the latter casts LGBTQ+ issues as sinful and immoral. The same belief, by the way, still runs through most Christian denominations.
LGBTQ+ people have suffered for centuries, forced to hide their true selves or face humiliation, condemnation, beatings or death. They’re still facing those fates in many parts of the world.
It’s only been in recent years that they’ve received a growing measure of acceptance in North American society. Nevertheless, many of them are still striving for the same rights, freedoms and acceptance that others take for granted.
A number of Provorov’s critics called him a homophobe, accused him of hiding behind his religion, demanding his suspension or the termination of his contract, with some even suggesting he leave the country.
Citing religious beliefs could be construed as Provorov’s tacit support for his church’s position regarding the LGBTQ+ community. However, he didn’t excoriate LGBTQ+ people or engage in hate speech toward them. He stressed that he respects other opinions but had to be true to himself and his faith. Those remarks didn’t seem to justify the volume of criticism he received.
Provorov’s supporters, meanwhile, question the need for “Pride Nights” or any sort of support for the LGBTQ+ community. There are also hockey fans with no opinion on the subject who decry political or social issues intruding into the sports world which is their solace from the daily strife of the real world.
Keeping such issues out of sports is impossible. Athletes and fans are human beings from all walks of life. Their emotions, beliefs and causes inevitably seep into the sports world whether we want them to or not. That means we have to face them even if they make us uncomfortable or emotional.
Provorov’s critics believe he’s set back the NHL’s direction toward inclusivity. I disagree. Yes, there remains a long way to go regarding the acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in hockey. But let’s not overlook how much progress has been made up to this point.
Twenty years ago, the notion of Pride Nights and “You Can Play” campaigns to support LGBTQ+ players and fans was unthinkable. Homophobia was very much a part of hockey with sexual and gender-based slurs regularly tossed around in dressing-room banter and hurled as insults at opponents on the ice.
Things have improved since then for LGBTQ+ hockey fans and players. Amid the fallout over Provorov’s decision, two of his teammates, Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk, gathered with 50 LGBTQ+ fans in a pre-arranged meeting following the game.
Both players actively support LGBTQ+ causes. Laughton believed that, overall, it was a “great, great night that brings a lot of awareness.”
Perhaps it did. Maybe Provorov’s stance ends up doing more good than harm if it generates more support for LGBTQ+ people in hockey.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he wanted fans to focus on the 700 players who support the LGBTQ+ community rather than one or two that may have issues for their own personal reasons.
Provorov’s stance can’t be ignored nor should it. However, he’s in a tiny minority if Bettman’s numbers are correct. That means the NHL’s efforts to embrace and support the LGBTQ+ community appear to be working throughout the league.
This situation could be merely a small bump on the road of progress. It shakes things up a little and creates some tension but doesn’t stop the journey.
The Sabres retire Ryan Miller’s No. 30, milestone games for the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron and the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov, the final 12 players are named to the 2023 All-Star Game, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines
NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres retired Ryan Miller’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony before downing the New York Islanders 3-2 on an overtime goal by Dylan Cozens. Rasmus Dahlen collected two assists for the Sabres (22-19-3) as they sit four points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 47 points. Ilya Sorokin stopped 42 shots for the Islanders (23-19-6), who remain tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 51 points. The Penguins, however, hold the last wild-card spot with three games in hand over the Isles.
Buffalo Sabres raise Ryan Miller’s banner (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller played 11 seasons with the Sabres from 2002 to 2014. He’s their all-time goaltending leader with 284 wins, 540 games played, 14, 847 saves and single-season wins with 41. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10 and was named to that season’s First All-Star Team. He retired in 2021 after 18 NHL seasons.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winning goal and Jeremy Swayman made 31 saves in a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. Bergeron surpassed Phil Esposito to move into second place among Bruins scorers with 78 game-winning goals. Boston (35-5-4) maintains a 12-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the overall standings with 76 points. The 25-14-7 Rangers sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 57 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: John Bucyk is Boston’s all-time leader in game-winning goals with 88. Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo left this game after blocking a shot with his left leg.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they defeated the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-2. Frederik Andersen turned aside 29 shots while Martin Necas had a goal and an assist for the 28-9-8 Hurricanes. Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored his 100th career goal, becoming the third-fastest active skater to reach that milestone by doing it in his 180th career NHL game. The Wild (25-14-4) remain in third place in the Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly loss for the Hurricanes as winger Max Pacioretty left the game in the third period after suffering an injury to the same leg that sidelined him for all but five games this season. It remains to be seen if he reinjured the Achilles tendon.
The Dallas Stars got a 34-save shutout from Scott Wedgewood to blank the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Tyler Seguin scored twice and collected an assist as the Stars (27-13-7) took over sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with 61 points. The Kings slipped to 25-16-6 and hold third place in the Pacific Division.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice and Ilya Samsonov kicked out 37 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Mitch Marner scored to extend his home points streak record to 20 games as the Leafs (28-11-7) sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 63 points. Kyle Connor replied for the Jets (29-16-1) as they slipped two points behind the Stars in the Western Conference standings.
The Edmonton Oilers picked up their fifth straight win by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3. Connor McDavid netted his league-leading 39 goal of the season to snap a 3-3 in the third period while Zach Hyman tallied twice for the 26-18-3 Oilers, who hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 55 points. Brayden Point had a goal and an assist for the Lightning (29-14-1) as their five-game win streak came to an end, leaving them four points behind the Leafs in third place in the Atlantic Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers winger Evander Kane faces two trials next week in a San Jose courtroom after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy two years ago. The two creditors hope to block a discharge that would allow Kane to walk away from his remaining debts. His trial briefs revealed he borrowed $48 million between 2014 and 2019.
An overtime goal by Andre Burakovsky lifted the Seattle Kraken over the New Jersey Devils 4-3, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Ryan Donato scored two goals and added an assist for the 27-14-4 Kraken, who moved ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights into first place in the Pacific Division with 58 points. Devils captain Nico Hischier tallied his 21st goal of the season as they sit two points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes with 62 points (29-12-4).
Speaking of the Golden Knights (28-16-2), they fell 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. Ville Husso made 33 saves while Joe Veleno scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. Reilly Smith collected two assists for the Golden Knights, who have the same number of points as the Kraken (58) but the latter hold first in the Pacific with a game in hand. The Wings, meanwhile, improved to 19-17-8 on the season.
Washington Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper made 26 saves to pick up his league-leading fifth shutout of the season to beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0. Dylan Strome scored twice for the Capitals (25-17-6) as they opened a five-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first Eastern wild-card spot with 56 points. The Coyotes (14-26-5) played without leading goal scorer Lawson Crouse (16 goals) as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
St. Louis Blues forwards Brandon Saad and Robert Thomas each had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators. The Blues improved to 23-20-3 (49 points) to sit two points behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western wild-card spot. The Predators (21-18-6) sit one point back of the Blues.
The Florida Panthers (22-20-5, 49 points) moved to within two points of the Penguins for the final Eastern wild-card spot with a 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice and Aleksander Barkov collected two assists for the Panthers. The Canadiens fell to 19-24-3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Eric Staal left this game with injuries. Backup netminder Alex Lyon made 23 saves for the win. Earlier in the day, Panthers coach Paul Maurice was fined $25,000 by the NHL for making comments about the officiating in their game against the Leafs on Jan. 17.
Five unanswered goals rallied the Anaheim Ducks over the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3. Trevor Zegras, Cam Fowler and Adam Henrique each had a goal and an assist for the 13-28-5 Ducks as they snapped a five-game losing skid. The Jackets dropped to 13-20-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks activated forward Isac Lundestrom off injured reserve but forward Mason McTavish missed this contest with a lower-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks ended a 17-game regular-season road winless skid against the Philadelphia Flyers with a 4-1 victory. Petr Mrazek stopped 37 shots while Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist for the 13-26-4 Blackhawks. The Flyers fell to 19-20-7.
NHL.COM: The final 12 players were named to the 2023 NHL All-Star Game. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Leafs center Auston Matthews, Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Rangers winger Artemi Panarin were among the notables chosen by fan voting.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers head coach John Tortorella continued to support Ivan Provorov after the defenseman declined to participate in a warm-up skate before Tuesday’s game against Anaheim wearing an LGBTQ+-themed jersey during Pride Night citing his religious beliefs. “Prov did nothing wrong,” said Tortorella. “Just because you don’t agree with his decision doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.”
DAILY FACEOFF: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman weighed in on the situation to put the focus on the 700 players who supported LGBTQ+ Pride and embrace inclusivity.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those comments did little to quell the wave of criticism from a number of fans and pundits on social media over Provorov’s stance and Tortorella’s support of his decision.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Mathieu Joseph was scratched from the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Penguins for breaking a team rule. Neither he or the club elaborated on the situation but Joseph is keen to return to action for Friday’s rematch in Pittsburgh.