NHL Players: Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 5
The Penguins down the Capitals, the Golden Knights edge the Avalanche, plus the latest injury and COVID protocol list updates in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Bryan Rust scored two goals and collected an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 6-3. Jake Guentzel also had a three-point performance (one goal, two assists) while Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also set a new milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer Al MacInnis for the most points (1,275) by a Nova Scotia-born NHL player.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a 30-save shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Colorado Avalanche 1-0. Max Pacioretty tallied the game’s only goal. It was the Avalanche’s first game since their schedule was postponed on Feb. 4 for COVID-19 protocols.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury now has 473 career victories, sitting just 11 behind Ed Belfour for fourth on the all-time list. His 63 shutouts place him one back of Henrik Lundqvist for 16th all-time.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos came off the NHL’s COVID protocol list yesterday after it was determined his first test was a false positive. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin came off the protocol list yesterday. Krueger, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, joined the Sabres on the ice for a few minutes during yesterday’s practice. He isn’t sure if he’ll be behind the bench for their game today against the New York Islanders. The Sabres haven’t played since Jan. 31 due to COVID protocols.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers still have seven players on the protocol list. Travis Sanheim came off the list yesterday but winger Travis Konecny was added to it. The Flyers’ next scheduled game is Thursday against the New York Rangers, after which they’re slated to fly to Lake Tahoe for an outdoor game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
TORONTO STAR: Joe Thornton returns to the Maple Leafs lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators after missing 10 games with a rib injury.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (lower-body injury) will miss tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Jaden Schwartz is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He joins Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery), Tyler Bozak (upper body, likely concussion), Robert Thomas (broken hand) and Sammy Blais (undisclosed) on the sidelines.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek (upper body) on injured reserve.
Some potential destinations for Alex Pietrangelo plus the latest on the Penguins and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD LEAFS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS OR FLAMES TARGET PIETRANGELO?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the St. Louis Blues will consider trading Alex Pietrangelo’s rights if they don’t re-sign the pending free-agent defenseman before Oct. 9. The acquiring team could sign him to an eight-year deal, lowering the annual average value, Pietrangelo would get more money under that scenario, while the Blues could get a good asset in return. LeBrun suggests the Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames as possible destinations if Pietrangelo hits the open market.
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski acknowledged the Leafs need for a top-shelf blueliner like Pietrangelo, but finding the cap space to sign him will be challenging for general manager Kyle Dubas. They have over $6 million in cap space and would have to shed salary to make it work.
Zwolinski suggests Alexander Kerfoot and Andreas Johnsson as trade candidates, and also felt William Nylander would have to be considered. The risks of acquiring another high-priced player would be high under a flattened salary cap.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Leafs will inquire if Pietrangelo becomes available. As per Cap Friendly, they’ve already handcuffed themselves with over $40.4 million tied up in just four players: Nylander ($6.9 million), Mitch Marner ($10.8 million), John Tavares ($11 million) and Auston Matthews ($11.8 million). Adding Pietrangelo could push that figure to almost $50 million, leaving little room to bolster their depth as needed throughout the rest of the roster. Unless they’re moving out Nylander, they should consider more affordable blueline options.
I don’t see the Golden Knights in the market for Pietrangelo. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. If they re-sign Robin Lehner, they’ll have to shed salary by moving out goalie Marc-Andre Fleury or someone else, leaving little room for a big-ticket defenseman.
With $64.5 million committed to 14 players, the Flames have the cap space to sign Pietrangelo, but that move could push them to $73 million invested in 15 players. That won’t leave much to find a possible replacement for Cam Talbot if he’s not re-signed, let alone fill out the rest of the roster.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report multiple league sources claim Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has received several inquiries about winger Bryan Rust. Rutherford isn’t shopping Rust and prefers keeping the top-six winger, but wouldn’t rule out trading him if the return was significant, such as at least an NHL-ready player and a top-six prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Rust remains a Penguin.
They also cite multiple sources claiming Rutherford is attempting to clear enough salary-cap space to sign Chris Tanev if the Vancouver Canucks defenseman hit the open market on Oct. 9. The Penguins GM isn’t concerned about Tanev’s age (30) and is willing to offer a five-year contract concurrent to the final five years of brother (and Penguins forward) Brandon Tanev. Chris is said to be seeking a raise over the $4.45-million AAV of his current contract. A Penguins source claims they’d prefer keeping the AAV to $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not a good idea. Tanev’s performance has declined over the last couple of years as the wear-and-tear of his style of play are taking a toll on his body. A short-term deal (two years) might be worth the gamble, but five years at $5 million per is too risky. Meanwhile, TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reports the Canucks have yet to make Tanev a contract offer.
Rossi and Yohe also report the Penguins and Evgeni Malkin’s camp have expressed interest in a three-year contract extension allowing Malkin to retire as a Penguin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: But…but…Malkin’s supposed to be unhappy as second fiddle to Crosby. No, wait, he’s getting traded to the Kings. Or was it he’s retiring and returning to Russia at the end of his current contract? Dammit, it’s difficult keeping these Malkin rumors straight!
The Pens aren’t against acquiring a third-line center but are content to keep recently re-signed Jared McCann in that role. It doesn’t appear they’ve approached Patric Hornqvist about waiving his no-trade clause.
BACKUP GOALIE OPTIONS FOR THE CAPITALS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Tarik El-Bashir lists the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Calgary’s Cam Talbot as free-agent backup goalie options for the Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Braden Holtby’s expected departure via free agency, the Capitals will need an experienced backup for promising Ilya Samsonov. Greiss, Khudobin and Talbot would be fine choices, though Khudobin’s playoff heroics could put him outside the Caps’ price range. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $72.6 million invested in 17 players.
Alex Ovechkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Steven Stamkos reach new career milestones, the latest injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Warren Foegele scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Washington Capitals 6-4. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 256th career power-play goal to pass Teemu Selanne for third on the all-time list. Capitals winger Tom Wilson missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is in striking range of Dave Andreychuk (274) and Brett Hull (265) on the all-time list.
Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for his 454th career victory in a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Fleury moves into a tie with Curtis Joseph for sixth place on the all-time wins list. Teammate Shea Theodore collected three assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury is just four wins behind the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who’s fifth on the all-time list. Both are the wins leaders among active NHL goalies.
A three-goal second period enabled the Tampa Bay Lightning to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos picked up his 800th career point, Victor Hedman collected four assists, and Alex Killorn scored twice. Brendan Gallagher had two helpers for the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos is third among the Lightning’s all-time points leaders. Martin St. Louis is first with 953 points and Vincent Lecavalier second with 874.
The New York Rangers edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on an overtime goal by Tony DeAngelo, snapping the Leafs six-game win streak. Ryan Strome had a four-point performance and teammate Artemi Panarin collected three assists. Leafs center Auston Matthews scored two goals and set up another. The Rangers played without winger Brendan Lemieux, who’s sidelined 3-4 weeks with a fractured left hand. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Jake Muzzin is week-to-week with a broken foot whiile Ilya Mikheyev will miss at least three months following surgery to repair an artery and tendons in his wrist severed during Friday’s game against New Jersey.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 44 saves in a 6-4 win over the Nashville Predators. It was Murray’s first victory since Nov. 9. The Penguins blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads before Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust clinched the win with two late goals. Rust had a four-point night and Evgeni Malkin picked up three assists. Predators captain Roman Josi also had three assists while Mikael Granlund tallied twice. Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist returned to action since being sidelined on Nov. 30 by a lower-body injury. The Predators placed winger Colton Sissons on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Timo Meier tallied a hat trick as the San Jose Sharks halted a four-game losing skid by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Sharks forward Melker Karlsson left the game in the first period after taking a slap shot to the head. He received some stitches and it’s hoped the injury isn’t as severe as it seemed.
Jacob Markstrom made a career-high 49 saves as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Elias Petterson had two points, including the game-winning goal. Kings captain Anze Kopitar also had a goal and an assist.
Ben Bishop made 41 saves in regulation and overtime backstopping the Dallas Stars over the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov scored the only goals in the shootout. The Avalanche have dropped four of their last five games.
The Florida Panthers overcame a 3-1 deficit and held on for a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, handing the latter their fifth straight defeat. Mike Hoffman had a three-point peformance for the Panthers.
IN OTHER NEWS…
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner is out three-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury suffered during Friday’s loss to the Boston Bruins.
NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (upper body, injured reserve) and Charlie McAvoy (upper body) won’t be available for tonight’s rematch against the Sabres.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed Markus Granlund and Brandon Manning on waivers.
CBS SPORTS: The Winnipeg Jets placed goaltender Eric Comrie on waivers.
Mikko Rantanen makes a splashy return with the Avalanche, Alex Ovechkin tallies a hat trick, fallout from the Peters firing and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen made a splashy return to action by picking up four points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his first game since being sidelined by a leg injury on Oct. 21. Joonas Donskoi also enjoyed a four-point performance, Nathan MacKinnon picked up three points, and Nazem Kadri scored two goals. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored to extend his points streak to 15 games.
Alex Ovechkin tallied a hat trick to lead the Washington Capitals over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov collected three assists. Ovechkin now has 20 goals on the season, sitting second to Boston’s David Pastrnak (24) in the goal-scoring race. The Wings’ winless skid has stretched to nine games. Earlier in the day, they acquired goaltender Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.
The Vancouver Canucks got a four-point performance from Tanner Pearson to down the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Canucks captain Bo Horvat picked up three assists. Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.
New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast each tallied shorthanded goals. Devils rookie Jack Hughes missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Devils near the bottom of the conference, there are reports they’re entertaining offers for Taylor Hall. Check out the Rumors section for details.
The Philadelphia Flyers extended the Montreal Canadiens’ winless skid to seven games (0-4-3) with a 4-3 overtime victory. Ivan Provorov tallied the game-winner while Flyers goalie Brian Elliott kicked out 39 shots. Tomas Tatar scored twice for the Habs, who lost defenseman Victor Mete to a lower-body injury. The Flyers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with 35 points.
Calgary Flames winger Elias Lindholm scored twice in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted his team-leading 14th goal for the Senators.
John Tavares tallied in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Tavares also had an assist on William Nylander’s game-opening goal. Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton made 41 saves in a losing cause.
Carolina Hurricanes netminder James Reimer made 36 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Brayden Coburn is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury, while winger Alex Killorn (lower-body injury) is listed as day-to-day.
Florida Panthers rookie goaltender Chris Driedger’s first NHL start was a memorable one, turning aside 27 shots to blank the Nashville Predators 3-0. Anton Stralman scored twice for the Panthers.
Semyon Varlamov replaced an ailing Thomas Greiss in the first period and backstopped the New York Islanders to a 2-0 shutout over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Isles center Mathew Barzal scored one goal and collected an assist on the other. Isles defenseman Nick Leddy returned to action after missing one game with a lower-body injury. Blue Jackets rearguard Zach Werenski left the game with an upper-body injury.
Logan Couture scored twice and Tomas Hertl picked up two assists as the San Jose Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. It’s the Sharks’ 11th win in their last 13 contests.
St. Louis Blues forwards Jaden Schwartz and Ryan O’Reilly each had two points in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin left the game with an undisclosed injury. The Penguins also played without winger Bryan Rust, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
A 33-save effort by Jack Campbell enabled the Los Angeles Kings to hang on for a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis issued a statement yesterday claiming he informed then-team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. of alleged physical incidents between former coach Bill Peters and two players. Earlier in the week, Karmanos claimed he was not aware of the incidents and would’ve immediately fired Peters had he known. Francis said he took immediate action to address the issue and no further incidents occurred.
Peters resigned Friday as coach of the Calgary Flames after former NHL player Akim Aliu claimed he hurled racial slurs at him during their tenure with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs a decade ago.
SPORTSNET: Speak of Aliu, he’ll be meeting with the NHL this week to to discuss the cultural problems in hockey.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Sean Avery claimed he was kicked by coach Marc Crawford during a game in 2006-07 when they were with the Los Angeles Kings. Avery said the incident occurred when he took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
“He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it. You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark.” Avery found the incident more bemusing than upsetting.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens with a lower-body injury. Winger Brad Marchand is questionable for the game as he’s battling flu symptoms. Winger David Backes (concussion symptoms) could be close to returning to the lineup.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will appear in his 1,000th NHL game today when his club takes on the Dallas Stars.