10 NHL Rookies To Watch This Month
Recaps of Saturday’s action, the fallout from the Dubois-for-Laine trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price picked up his 350th career victory backstopping his club over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Canadiens (4-0-2) sit atop the North Division with 10 points. Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist while Corey Perry scored his first goal for the Canadiens after being activated from their taxi squad on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens completed a successful season-opening road trip with points in all six games. They’re also currently the league’s highest-scoring team with 29 goals.
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith each had two points for the Bruins, who’ve tallied 10 regulation goals in their last two games after managing just three goals in regulation time during their opening three contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Bruins, who played without sidelined defenseman Matt Grzelcyk as he remains hampered by a lower-body injury. It was a tough outing for Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who apologized following the game for breaking his stick in frustration following this contest. To be fair to Hart, he and backup Brian Elliott haven’t had much help from their teammates over the last three games.
Defenseman Torey Krug tallied his first goal with the St. Louis Blues as they doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly and teammates David Perron and Robert Thomas each collected two points.
Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny each had a goal and two assists while Andrew Copp scored twice to down the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists in this contest. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed rookie Tim Stuetzle on injured reserve for an undisclosed minor injury.
First-period goals by Nick Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko and Vladislav Gavrikov powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 30 save for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets and Blue Jackets showed no ill-effects from yesterday morning’s blockbuster trade that saw the Jets ship Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to the Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick. None of the players involved in the deal have joined their new clubs yet. COVID-19 protocols could further delay their arrivals.
SPORTSNET: The Canadian government will decide how long Dubois must remain in self-quarantine before joining his new teammates after traveling from Columbus to Winnipeg on Saturday. The standard quarantine period for travelers arriving in Canada is 14 days but the Jets are lobbying the federal government to have that period reduced by seven days. All seven Canadian clubs would prefer to have that seven-day period, which was similar to the one during training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rationale behind that request is NHL players live and work under stricter COVID-19 protocols than other international travelers. That includes the requirement for four consecutive negative COVID tests before joining their teammates. It will significantly reduce the wait time for Canadian teams that acquire players via trade or waivers from American clubs.
THE SCORE: Dubois didn’t reveal the exact reason behind his trade request during an interview with Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean on Saturday. However, he indicated Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella wasn’t a factor in his decision. Dubois acknowledged Tortorella is a tough coach to play for but praised his style and never took criticism of his play personally.
Meanwhile, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has already engaged in preliminary contract-extension talks with the Laine camp. “We’re going to try to build a long-term relationship with him,” said Kekalainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Building that relationship will depend upon how well Laine adjusts to playing for Tortorella and how much the Jackets are willing to invest in him. The 22-year-old winger is earning $7.5 million in actual salary this season and could seek around $10 million annually on his next contract.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn missed Saturday’s practice with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
THE NEW & OBSERVER: Jesper Fast has been added to the Carolina Hurricanes’ COVID-19 protocol list, bringing that number to six players. The Hurricanes have had their past three games postponed and their training facility closed as they deal with this issue.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks will be playing the first two of their home games in Glendale, Arizona. They’d hoped to return to SAP Center in San Jose for those games but the ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County remains in place.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report several NHL clubs are looking at moving the 2021 NHL Draft from July to December or January because the pandemic has made it difficult for draft-eligible players to be properly scouted. One solution could be staging a tournament this spring to showcase some of this year’s prospects for evaluation. Any changes to this year’s draft format require approval from the NHL and NHLPA.
Recaps from Friday’s action, the Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois, the latest notable injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin had a 34-shot shutout as the Dallas Stars crushed the Nashville Predators 7-0. The Stars tallied a franchise-record five power-play goals in their season-opener which had been delayed nearly two weeks due to a spread of COVID-19 among several players. Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski each scored twice for the Stars but captain Jamie Benn left the game with a lower-body injury following an awkward collision with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson in the second period. The club provided no update on Benn’s status following the game.
The Washington Capitals edged the Buffalo Sabre 4-3 on a shootout goal by John Carlson. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Capitals but they also lost rugged winger Tom Wilson to a lower-body injury. The Caps were playing without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov as the four were recently placed on their COVID-19 absence list. Sabres rookie Dylan Cozens tallied his first career NHL goal.
Kris Letang netted the game-winner in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 3-1 deficit to nip the New York Rangers 4-3. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for his first win of the season. Former Charlottetown Islanders defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph collected an assist in his NHL debut with the Penguins.
Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period power-play goal in a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers. The Leafs were playing without Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton. Matthews (upper-body) isn’t expected to be sidelined for long but Thornton (fractured rib) will be out for at least a month.
The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their first victory of the season by downing the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen kicked out 30 shots for his first career NHL win while Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.
San Jose Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk lost his first game against his former club as the Minnesota Wild picked up a 4-1 win. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway each had a goal and an assist for the Wild while Kaapo Kakhonen got the win after replacing sidelined starter Cam Talbot, who left the game with a lower-body injury. It’s uncertain how long Talbot could be sidelined but he’s expected to miss Sunday’s rematch.
The Arizona Coyotes spoiled the Vegas Golden Knights’ home-opener with a 5-2 victory to snap the latter’s four-game season-opening win streak. Conor Garland led the way for the Coyotes with a goal and two assists. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta (undisclosed) missed the game but will rejoin his teammates for Tuesday’s match against the Anaheim Ducks.
Boom. Told that the Blue Jackets are also sending a third-round pick to Winnipeg as part of this blockbuster deal. https://t.co/ZtyyhiV5aP
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 23, 2021
TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported the Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on a trade involving Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade earlier this month and was benched for most of Thursday’s games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Dreger reports the Winnipeg Jets are the front-runners, although nothing is done yet. He speculates Patrik Laine or Jack Roslovic could be part of this deal as both players requested trades from the Jets. Dreger feels a trade could be done before the end of this weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday.
Pierre LeBrun points out Roslovic, a Columbus native, would be a natural fit with the Blue Jackets. He also reports the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens appear to be among the other interested clubs.
The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline tweeted Dubois was informed he’ll be a healthy scratch for Saturday’s rematch against the Lightning, assuming he’s still on the team by then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was assumed Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen preferred to retain Dubois for the remainder of this season and attempt to trade the center in the offseason. Dubois’ benching on Thursday, however, appears to have created an untenable situation that cannot be allowed to fester any longer. I’ll have more about this in the Rumors section.
Speaking of Laine, he’s nursing an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve yesterday by the Jets. Nate Thompson (lower body) was also placed on IR.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle could return to the lineup today against the Jets after missing the last two games with an undisclosed ailment.
USA TODAY: NBC Universal will reportedly shut down its main sports channel (NBCSN) at the end of 2021. NBC owns the NHL’s national broadcast rights in the United States, with most of the league’s game televised on NBCSN. The league’s deal with the network expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL intended to shop around for a new broadcasting deal this summer. If they stay with NBC, their games would be shown on USA Network, which goes into more homes than NBCSN currently does.