What We Learned This Week in The NHL: Week 15
The Devils fire GM Ray Shero, Jonathan Huberdeau become the highest-scoring Panther in franchise history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning was overshadowed by their firing of general manager Ray Shero an hour before game time. Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald takes over on an interim basis while Martin Brodeur moved to a role in hockey operations. The Devils’ victory brought the Lightning’s 10-game win streak to an end. The Devils also recalled goaltender Cory Schneider. Winger Kyle Palmieri missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero’s firing caught many observers off-guard. Ownership didn’t cite any specific reason, other than the club’s poor record this season. With the club poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years under Shero, they felt it was time for a change in the front office.
Shero made several positive moves during his tenure with the Devils, including the acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri and taking Nico Hischier with the first-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. However, his inability to suitably address his club’s defensive and goaltending issues hampered their development and led to his downfall. I’ll have more on the Devils in the Rumors section.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau became the highest-scoring player in franchise history in an 8-4 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Huberdeau scored and collected an assist for his 420th point, surpassing Olli Jokinen as their all-time points leader. Mike Hoffman scored twice while Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and two assists. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs.
Earlier in the day, the Panthers called up goaltender Sam Montembeault as starter Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Saturday’s practice. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a leg injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 61 points, Huberdeau is enjoying a career season thus far. The 26-year-old left winger is among the league’s top-10 scorers and on pace for a career-high 110 points.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice to lead his club to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. J.T. Miller picked up two assists for the Canucks, who moved into third place (54 points) in the Pacific Division. Wild defenseman Greg Patertyn made his season debut after missing 44 games to core muscle surgery.
Teddy Blueger’s shootout goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Evgeni Malkin collected two assists for the Penguins (61 points), who move within four points of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing 43 games with a lower-body injury.
Jusse Saros had a 28-save shutout and Kyle Turris scored the only goal as the Nashville Predators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. Predators captain Roman Josi’s points streak ended at 12 games. Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game in the first period with an injured right leg.
The Buffalo Sabres rolled to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Evan Rodrigues tallied twice while teammate Jack Eichel picked up an assist to stretch his points streak to seven games. The Wings played without goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who’s dealing with a lower-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety regarding his altercation with Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday. Kassian took offense to two hits from Tkachuk, punching the Flames winger and throwing him twice to the ice.
TSN: New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was fined $5,000.00 for slashing St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Saturday.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Stephen Johns played his first game in 22 months with their AHL affiliate Texas Stars. Johns had been sidelined by post-concussion headaches.
Stars of the week, Devils extend Ray Shero’s contract, Sabres interested in ex-Oilers coach Todd McLellan, Blues re-sign Jay Bouwmeester, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, and Dallas Stars right wing Alexander Radulov were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 7, 2019.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: An MRI Sunday on Connor McDavid’s left leg revealed no serious damage. The Oilers captain left Saturday’s game against Calgary after crashing into the net.
TSN: Speaking of the Oilers, team CEO Bob Nicholson said the future of head coach Ken Hitchcock will be up to the club’s new general manager. Nicholson also said he’s still going through the process of hiring the next GM and intends to take his time finding the right one.
WGR 550: Various reports yesterday indicated former Oilers coach Todd McLellan is a leading candidate to become the next coach of the Buffalo Sabres, who fired Phil Housley after two seasons behind their bench. McLellan is also believed being courted by the Los Angeles Kings.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils yesterday announced a multi-year contract extension for general manager Ray Shero.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the Devils disappointing follow-up to last season’s surprising playoff appearance, Shero has done a good job rebuilding the roster. This summer, however, could be the most crucial of his tenure, which I’ll have further details about later this morning in the Rumors section.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to a one-year. $3.25-million contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bouwmeester, 35, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. His improved performance over the course of this season, however, convinced Blues management he was worth retaining.
Bouwmeester’s accept a significant pay cut from the $5.4-million annual salary-cap hit of his current deal plus his new contract lacks no-trade protection. At this stage of his career, however, he probably wasn’t going to get a better deal elsewhere.
THE DENVER POST: After missing the final eight games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, right winger Mikko Rantanen will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup for Game 1 of their opening-round series with the Calgary Flames on Thursday.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey will return to the lineup for Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Blues on Wednesday. Morrissey missed the final 20 games of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Jets forward Brandon Tanev will miss Game 1 with an upper-body injury.
BOSTON GLOBE: Forward David Backes could be a healthy scratch for the first game of the Bruins’ opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. The Bruins will also be without defenseman Kevan Miller (knee injury) to start the series.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Sidelined Penguins Brian Dumoulin and winger Zach Aston-Reese could return to the lineup in time for the start of their series with the New York Islanders on Wednesday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: During their season-ending press conference, the Coyotes revealed center Derek Stepan played through a torn MCL late in the season. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was dealing with knee problems and a high ankle sprain, while goaltender Darcy Kuemper required stitches above his right eye and received some scratches to his right cornea after taking a stick in the face during a game last week. He also played through an injured knee.
CBS SPORTS: Los Angeles Kings forward Carl Grundstrom suffered concussion-like symptoms during the club’s final game of the season on Saturday.
FOX 9: The Minnesota Wild dismissed assistant general manager Andrew Brunette and co-assistant GM Shep Harder.