What Exactly Is Going On With The Dallas Stars?
A look at the Central Division, Tyler Seguin believes the Stars are “all-in” for the coming season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS: Scott Billeck believes the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche are on the rise in the Central Division. He also believes the Nashville Predators and the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues remain strong. It remains to be seen how the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks perform following their offseason move. The Minnesota Wild, meanwhile, are expected to struggle.
SPORTSDAY: Speaking of the Stars, Tyler Seguin believes they’re all-in in 2019-20 following the additions of Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, and Andrej Sekera.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pavelski will certainly improve the Stars’ scoring depth. The jury’s out on an aging Corey Perry, who missed most of last season to a knee injury. If Sekera can rebound from the injuries that sidelined him for most of the past two seasons, he should be an effective addition to their blueline.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Thanks for friend and former Bruins teammate Cam Neely, Geoff Courtnall is celebrating nearly a decade of sobriety and wants to help others. Courtnall spent 17 seasons in the NHL with five teams – five with the Bruins – from 1983-84 to 1999-2000.
YARDBARKER: Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov signed a one-year contract with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. Voynov is under a one-year suspension by the NHL “as additional punishment from his domestic abuse incident back in 2014”. While that suspension was cut in half in May, the Kings have no intention of bringing him back and no other NHL club is interested in his rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voynov is toxic in the NHL. No club wants the bad publicity they’ll get from signing him.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights “sold player-worn gear and team-issued equipment at City National Arena.”
NEW YORK POST: The New Jersey Devils mascot accidentally broke at window at a children’s birthday party on Sunday.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs inking Auston Matthews to a five-year, $58.17-million contract extension ($11.634 million annual average value), their focus shifts toward getting Mitch Marner re-signed before July 1.
A restricted free agent this summer, Marner could become an attractive target for an offer sheet from a rival club. He and the Leafs agreed to postpone contract negotiations until the end of the season and it’s a good bet they’ll try to get him signed as quickly as possible.
In my analysis of the Matthews deal, I speculated Marner’s new contract could cost the Leafs around $11 million annually on a long-term deal of six-to-eight years. Some readers scoffed at that notion. Several suggested he wasn’t worth more than $9 million annually, believing it wouldn’t be right for Marner to get more than Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million per starting in 2019-20) or Dallas’ Tyler Seguin ($9.85 million).
I’m willing to concede that maybe Marner might accept an annual cap hit of between $10- million to $10.5 million on a front-loaded eight-year deal whereby, like Matthews, the bulk of his salary is paid as a signing bonus every July 1. However, I don’t believe he’ll accept less than $10 million per.
First of all, as Marner’s agent recently stated, his client won’t accept any hometown discounts. Not after seeing Matthews and William Nylander getting lucrative new contracts this season.
There’s no justification for the Leafs to low-ball Marner or force him to accept less than market value. He tallied 61 points as a rookie, led the Leafs with 69 points last season and is currently their leading scorer with 66 points in 54 games.
Had Matthews not been sidelined by shoulder injuries the last two seasons, he probably would have been the Leafs’ leading scorer. Still, that doesn’t detract from Marner’s steady improvement as a scoring star or his value to the Leafs as one of their core players.
As of Feb. 9, Marner sat tenth among the league’s top-10 scorers. Indeed, he’s been in the top-10 for most of the season. He’s on pace to reach 100 points, which would make him the first Leaf to reach that milestone since Doug Gilmour (111 points) in 1993-94.
You don’t look at that type of point producer and beg him to take a discount.
As for the comparisons to Kucherov and Seguin, Marner’s already out-pointed them at this stage in his career compared to where they were at the same period. Kucherov had 149 points in his first three NHL seasons (18, 65, 66) while Seguin had 121 (22, 67, 32). Granted, Seguin’s third season came during the last lockout, but even if we’re being generous and assume he’d reach 60 points had he played a full regular season, he’d still fall short of the 195 points Marner’s already accumulated.
The argument can be made that the game is now more favorable toward offensive players than it was for Kucherov and Seguin earlier in their respective careers. That’s as may be, but it doesn’t negate the fact Marner has thrived in the NHL much sooner than expected.
And let’s not forget the tax implications. Kucherov and Seguin play in cities where there is no state tax. That’s not the case for Marner living and working in the province of Ontario. Once those provincial taxes are deducted, he could end up taking home less than Kucherov and Seguin if he accepts less than $10 million annually on his next contract.
Some Toronto fans and pundits could beg Marner to accept less to save their club from a coming salary-cap crunch. However, management could’ve avoided that problem had they not invested over $6 million per season in an aging Patrick Marleau or $11 million annually on John Tavares for seven seasons or over $4.5 million annually on a long-term deal for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev.
Marner deserves almost as much as Matthews. He’s an indispensable, durable player who is as responsible for the Leafs’ dramatic rise over the past three years as Matthews, Nylander, Tavares, and anyone else among their core players.
Marner is going to get paid. A lot. And it’s probably going to be north of $10 million annually. If the Leafs won’t pay that much, another club happily will with an offer sheet, perhaps with an amount the Leafs, despite their bluster, might be unable to match.
Game recaps, rookie and three stars of the month, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored twice and set up two others to lead his club to a 7-3 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. Kane also collected his 900th career NHL point while teammate Brandon Saad also scored twice and Cam Ward made 40 saves.
Four unanswered third-period goals powered the Nashville Predators to a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals and Filip Forsberg collected three assists.
Victor Hedman scored in a shootout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the New York Islanders 1-0. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves while Isles netminder Thomas Greiss kicked out 41 shots.
Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust each scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3. Nick Bjugstad, acquired earlier in the day by the Penguins in a trade with the Panthers, collected an assist. The Penguins also played without center Evgeni Malkin, who’ll miss at least two games with an upper-body injury.
Evgeny Kuznetsov’s late third-period goal gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames, snapping the Capitals seven-game losing skid. The Capitals played without team captain Alex Ovechkin, who served a one-game suspension for his decision not to participate in the recent NHL All-Star Game. Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic left the game with a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated today.
Danny DeKeyser scored in overtime as the Detroit Red Wings edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. During a pregame ceremony, the Wings honored Hall-of-Fame defenseman Red Kelly by retiring his No. 4.
The Carolina Hurricanes downed the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Justin Faulk had a two-point performance, Petr Mrazek made 23 saves and winger Nino Niederreiter tallied his fifth goal in as many games since being traded to Carolina by the Minnesota Wild. Earlier in the day, the Golden Knights placed Nick Holden (undisclosed) on injured reserve.
Tyler Seguin scored twice in the third period to give the Dallas Stars a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane were the NHL’s three stars for the month of January 2019.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January 2019.
TSN: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton has been playing hurt throughout this season. Coach Pete DeBoer said Thornton is close to getting fully healthy but isn’t there yet.
LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen is sidelined indefinitely due to a medical condition related to his vision. His agent dismissed a recent report claiming the injury was career-threatening, adding his client hopes to return to action later this season. The Canadiens expect he’ll make a full recovery.
Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 31-save shutout performance in a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brayden Point scored twice for the Lightning. Earlier in the day, Vasilevskiy was named as the replacement for Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov picked up his 70th point of the season, becoming the fastest player to reach that number since Jaromir Jagr in 1999.
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask picked up his 250th career NHL victory by blanking the Minnesota Wid 4-0. Teammates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had a goal and two assists. Earlier in the day, the Wild recalled forward Joel Eriksson Ek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask is now two wins away from tying Hall of Famer Tiny Thompson for the most career victories by a Bruins goaltender.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson extended his points streak to 14 games as his club thumped the Edmonton Oilers 7-2. Karlsson collected three assists while forwards Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi each scored two goals.
Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) to lead his club to a 7-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, who’ve dropped seven of their last eight games. Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba each had a goal and two assists for the Jets while Gabriel Landeskog scored twice for the Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. If they don’t snap out of their current funk soon, they’ll tumble out of playoff contention.
T.J. Oshie scored twice, including his 200th career goal, as the Washington Capitals downed the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. The Flyers tied an NHL single-season record by starting a seventh goalie as Mike McKenna made 21 saves in a losing cause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ two-plus decades of failing to find or retain – hello there, Sergei Bobrovsky – a reliable starting goaltender has come home to roost in a big way this season. Addressing this issue must be the top priority of new general manager Chuck Fletcher.
Buffalo Sabres rookies C.J. Smith and Lawrence Pilut scored their first career NHL goals in a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner tallied his 29th goal of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner sits one goal behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the league goal-scoring lead. He needs nine more goals to break his career high of 37.
The Carolina Hurricanes held off the New York Islanders 4-3 to pick up their fifth straight win while snapping the Isles’ six-game winning streak. Brock Nelson scored twice for the Islanders, who re-activated Valtteri Filppula off injured reserve and demoted winger Joshua Ho-Sang. With the loss, the Isles slipped one point out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang continues to struggle to earn a full-time roster spot with the Islanders. I consider him a prime trade candidate, either at the deadline on Feb. 25 or during the offseason.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 36 saves to pick up his eighth consecutive win as his club defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1. Sidney Crosby tallied his 20th of the season and Bryan Rust scored twice, including one of two shorthanded goals for the Penguins.
Antti Niemi kicked out 30 shots as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2, handing the latter their eighth loss in their last nine games. Tomas Tatar had two assists for the Canadiens while Andreas Athanasiou tallied twice for the Wings. Earlier in the day, Canadiens defenseman David Schlemko cleared waivers and was demoted to their AHL affiliate in Laval.
Tyler Seguin scored twice and set up another as the Dallas Stars downed the St. Louis Blues 3-1. Blues forward Alex Steen is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of January with an injured left shoulder.
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their seventh straight victory by beating the New York Rangers 4-2. Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault snapped a seven-game goalless drought.
SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks placed center Elias Pettersson (knee sprain) on injured reserve. He’s expected to return in time for the All-Star Game in San Jose later this month.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz will miss the remainder of this season with a lower-body injury.
Game recaps, update on Elias Pettersson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to eight games by blanking the Winnipeg Jets 4-0. Matt Murray made 33 saves for the shutout for his seventh consecutive win while Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers left the game early in the first period with an apparent left shoulder injury following a collision with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, the Penguins were sitting outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They’ve since surged up the standings and are jockeying with the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Speaking of the Capitals…
Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin scored twice in a 2-1 overtime win over the Capitals, handing the latter their first three-game losing skid of the season. Anton Khudobin kicked out 36 shots for the Stars.
Dylan Larkin became the first player in Detroit Red Wings history to score four overtime goals in a single season with his game-winning tally in a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Wings.
The Colorado Avalanche broke a six-game losing skid by thumping the New York Rangers 6-1. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Tyson Barrie each collected three points.
New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid made 15 saves in relief of sidelined starter Mackenzie Blackwood to backstop his club to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford were the goal scorers in the shootout frame. Blackwood suffered a lower-body injury in the first period.
Max Pacioretty returned from injury and scored what became the game-winning goal as the Vegas Golden Knights edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their seventh straight defeat. It was Pacioretty’s first game since Dec. 17. To make room for him, the Golden Knights demoted winger Brandon Pirri, who has six goals and nine points in seven games since his call-up on Dec. 19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have a feeling we’ll see Pirri back with the Golden Knights at some point in this season.
Emergency call-up center Greg McKegg had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. The Hurricanes called up McKegg after placing center Jordan Staal (upper body) on injured reserve.
IN OTHER NEWS…
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks rookie center Elias Pettersson is awaiting the results of an MRI after injuring his right knee during a collision with Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Thursday. He remains upbeat, claiming he’s walking better than he was following the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks and their fans will be anxiously awaiting the results. Pettersson is their leading scorer, the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year, and a big reason why they’ve recently surged back into playoff contention.
NBC SPORTS: Goaltender Mike McKenna is on the move again. Two days after being traded to the Vancouver Canucks by the Ottawa Senators, he was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s what one of my readers had to say about this news: “Philly is like that guy in everyone’s fantasy hockey league who hordes goalies.”
THE ATHLETIC’s Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Andreas Martinsen on waivers.
TSN: “The Rendez-Vous LeBreton Group is headed to mediation in an effort to settle their differences over plans for a development that includes a new NHL arena.” One of the members is Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk.