Rebuild New York Rangers Constructing Path To NHL Playoffs
Ducks-Blues game postponed following Jay Bouwmeester’s cardiac incident, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Last night’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues was postponed after Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident and collapsed on the Blues’ bench in the first period. Thanks to the quick response of the medical staff of both clubs, Bouwmeester was stabilized and reportedly conscious, alert, and moving his extremities as he was transported to a local hospital for further tests and observations. An update on his condition will be released later today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A frightening moment for all concerned. Here’s hoping Bouwmeester makes a full recovery and returns to action soon.
Yanni Gourde’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 19 games. The Bolts (79 points) have won eight straight games and sit one point behind the league-leading Boston Bruins. It was a costly win for the Lightning, as Nikita Kucherov and Anthony Cirelli left the game with lower-body injuries.
Philipp Grubauer turned in a 34-save shutout as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the Ottawa Senators 3-0. The Avs (72 points) have won eight of their last nine contests and sit one behind the Western Conference-leading Blues. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche learned center Nazem Kadri will miss multiple weeks with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri’s injury has sparked speculation the Avs could seek a short-term replacement before the trade market. I’ll have more shortly in the Rumors section.
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn’s hat trick powered his club to a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Stars (69 points) have won four of their last six games and sit third in the Central Division, while the Hurricanes (67 points) are two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
Leon Draisaitl had a goal and three assists while Kailer Yamamoto scored twice in the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers (66 points) sit one back of the Vancouver Canucks for first in the Pacific Division, while the Blackhawks (58 points) are six points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced captain Connor McDavid will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with a quadriceps injury.
The New York Islanders blew a 3-0 lead but rallied on goals by Ryan Pulock and Leo Komarov to down the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Isles center Mathew Barzal collected three assists while teammate Casey Cizikas left the game in the first period with an apparent cut to his left leg. The Isles (72 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, while the Flyers (69 points) hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
An overtime goal by Kasperi Kapanen lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes had seemingly won the game earlier in the extra frame, but it was overturned due to goaltender interference. Zach Hyman scored both regulation goals for the Leafs (68 points), who hold third place in the Atlantic Division.
Mike Matheson, Mark Pysyk and Noel Acciari each had a goal and two assists to power the Florida Panthers over the New Jersey Devils 5-3. The Panthers sit two points behind the Leafs in the Atlantic Division.
Sam Reinhart’s early third-period goal held up as the game-winner as the Buffalo Sabres edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Sabres sit 10 points behind the third-place Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Wings forward Anthony Mantha picked up two assists. Teammate Brendan Perlini suffered a bruised right orbital bone and received several stitches to his face after being struck by a skate in the first period.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock made 26 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0. Kevin Fiala scored and picked up two assists for the Wild (60 points), who sit four points behind the Golden Knights and Coyotes for one of the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference.
New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin kicked out 42 shots in a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. He briefly left the game early in the first period under the league’s concussion protocol but showed no ill-effects upon his return. Chris Kreider scored twice for the Rangers (60 points), who sit nine points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Jets (63) sit one point out of a wild-card spot in the West. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba received a mixed reaction from Jets fans in his first game back in Winnipeg since getting traded to New York last summer. Before the game, Randy Carlyle and Tomas Steen were inducted into the Jets Hall of Fame.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones will be sidelined for eight-to-ten weeks with an injured right ankle.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens remain mum on the status of captain Shea Weber. The Habs captain remains sidelined with a lower-body injury and there’s no timetable for his return.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks winger Antoine Roussel was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for slashing Nashville Predators defenseman Yannick Weber.
Detroit placed Jonathan Eriksson on waivers today
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 11, 2020
The latest on the Rangers, the Leafs might not be done dealing, plus updates on the Flames, Kings, Canucks, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doubts Henrik Lundqvist will be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but he can’t imagine the long-time Rangers goaltender will return with the Blueshirts next season. Buying out the final season of Lundqvist’s contract in June will allow the netminder and the club to “move independently into the future.” It would free up $3 million from their salary-cap payroll next season.
Jacob Trouba‘s no-move clause kicks in on July 1. Brooks thinks Rangers management would be foolish not to listen to offers for the 25-year-old defenseman before then. He feels promising Adam Fox will soon become their No.1 right-side defenseman. Fox is on an entry-level contract through 2021-22 and would be more affordable than Trouba’s $8 million annual average value. Brooks feels the Rangers need more from Trouba, who’s struggled to adjust in his first season in New York.
TSN: Pierre Lebrun reports contract talks have finally begun between the New York Rangers and the agent for winger Chris Kreider. He feels it’ll be difficult for the Rangers to re-sign Kreider, but there will be an effort made.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Lundqvist during the off-season. He’s coming to the end of his illustrious career, but might not be keen being relegated to a backup role with a rebuilding club next season. A trade is possible, but only if he waives his no-movement clause and if the Rangers absorb part of his $8.5 million AAV.
Seems a bit premature to give up on Trouba after only a year. I’ll be surprised if they consider moving him this summer. If there are clubs interested in him, the Rangers could be forced to pick up part of that expensive cap hit or take back another expensive contract in return.
LEAFS IN THE MARKET FOR A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN
TSN: Darren Dreger believes injuries to Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci puts the Toronto Maple Leafs in the market for a top-four defenseman. With the Los Angeles Kings retaining half of the recently-acquired winger Kyle Clifford’s salary, Dreger believes the Leafs are in a good position with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot if the right deal can be found.
NHL.COM: Dave McCarthy reports Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Rielly’s status will determine what they’ll do leading up to the trade deadline. Rielly is expected to be re-evaluated at the end of this week. “We would want someone to move the needle for us in the long run, not in the short run unless it was the perfect deal,” said Dubas.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan suggests Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba could fit the bill if the Leafs go shopping for a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space means Dubas must get creative to add a top-four defenseman under contract beyond this season. If he does acquire one, he must ensure he can free up sufficient room for when Rielly comes off long-term injured reserve.
If Manson’s available (and I don’t think he is), the Ducks won’t just give him away. The same goes for Dumba. Manson also carries a $4.1 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 12-team no-trade list. Dumba’s AAV is $6 million through 2022-23.
LATEST ON THE FLAMES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the recent injury to Mark Giordano could affect the Calgary Flames’ trade plans. There was talk blueliner T.J. Brodie could be available and they could pursue a top-six, right-shot winger. With Giordano sidelined, a source tells LeBrun they might instead pursue a depth defenseman. He’s not saying Brodie won’t be traded, but Giordano’s absence makes that more difficult.
Darren Dreger reports some wonder if Flames forward Sam Bennett is ready for a change. The Flames don’t want to move Bennett and they’re not actively shopping the versatile forward. Nevertheless, his name has been in the rumor mill for some time. Dreger believes Bennett would like to prove he’s a top-six forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After trading Michael Frolik to Buffalo last month, it was assumed the Flames would pursue a top-six forward. Giordano’s hamstring injury complicates things. Their recent slump will only ratchet up the pressure on GM Brad Treliving.
UPDATE ON MARTINEZ
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez remains available. The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have shown various degrees of interest, but the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t among them. The asking price is believed to be a second-round pick and either another pick or a prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that the Leafs weren’t interested in Martinez. He’d fit their wish to bring in a defenseman with term on his contract. It could be because they’re awaiting word on Morgan Reilly’s condition.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports uncertainty over the health of sidelined winger Micheal Ferland could push them into the trade market. He said New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds has come up in their internal discussions. They had an interest in Simmonds last summer before he signed with the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds is on a one-year contract worth $5 million and lacks no-trade protection. However, he reportedly prefers staying with the Devils. The Canucks only have just over $1 million in deadline cap space.
MORE SABRES SPECULATION
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Buffalo Sabres will continue their search for a forward. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s name has been in the rumor mill for a while. Dreger also suggested blueliner Brandon Montour, though he’s not saying he’s being shopped. The only way he sees either rearguard getting traded is for a top-six forward.
#Habs Kovalchuk said he’d like to wait a couple of weeks before asking his agent to open talks about a potential contract extension in Montreal. Kovalchuk said he wants to concentrate on picking up ground on the teams they’re chasing before addressing his personal situation.
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) February 6, 2020
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.