NHL ProteauType: Five NHLers Worth Taking A Chance on In Your Playoff Pool
The Dallas Stars remain sidelined by COVID-19, an update on the Canucks after they canceled yesterday’s practice, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: The Dallas Stars remain sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak among six players and two staff members. The club last practiced on Wednesday. Their regular-season schedule has been revised with their season-opener now slated for Jan. 19.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks will resume practice today after canceling activities on Sunday as a precautionary measure due to potential COVID-19 exposure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: COVID-19 remains a factor despite the league’s health and safety protocols. Expect more canceled practices and perhaps future game postponements over the course of this season similar to those in other major pro sports leagues in recent months.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed winger Jesper Bratt to a two-year, $5.5 million deal. The restricted free agent’s contract standoff sidelined him from the Devils’ opening week of training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will still take some time for Bratt to join his teammates. He’s still in Sweden awaiting a work visa, after which he’ll have to quarantine for seven days after traveling to New Jersey. He’ll miss their opening two games of the season on Jan. 14 and 16 and perhaps more depending on how long it takes to get his visa sorted out.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and could miss their season-opener on Jan. 14 against the Anaheim Ducks.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas left yesterday’s practice nursing what appeared to be an injured left hand or lower-left arm.
TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, two-way contract. He was attending their training camp on a tryout basis.
SPORTSNET: Free-agent defenseman Ben Hutton signed a professional tryout offer with the Anaheim Ducks.
THE SCORE: Promising prospect Tim Stuetzle had his first practice session with the Ottawa Senators yesterday. The 18-year-old center was selected third overall by the Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Rossi is the Wild’s first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 draft.
Common question regarding waivers & Taxi Squad:
If a team acquires a player on waivers, can they loan them to the taxi squad?
The answer is no, the new team would need to put the player on waivers again, and only after clearing could the player be put on the taxi squad.
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) January 10, 2021
The NHL announces sponsors for its realigned divisions, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Kerfoot and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league has partnered with four sponsors for its realigned divisions for the upcoming 2020-21 season. They will be known as the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division, and the MassMutual NHL East Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or, as I and most hockey fans will refer to them, the North, West, Central and East Divisions.
This news will surely raise hackles among hockey purists already upset over ad logos appearing this season on the players’ helmets. But, as The Athletic’s Scott Burnside indicates, this move is necessary to offset some of the lost revenue this season from the absence of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This could be simply a one-time thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the practice of division sponsors continues when things (hopefully) return to normal next season.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy yesterday said David Pastrnak was making progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. The original prognosis for the winger was mid-February but Cassidy suggested it could be a little earlier than that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A late January or early February return for Pastrnak seems possible. The sooner the high-scoring winger returns to the Bruins first line, the better their chances of maintaining their status as a Stanley Cup contender this season.
NHL.COM: Dougie Hamilton wants to remain with the Carolina Hurricanes and hopes the two sides can work out a new contract. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hamilton said he’ll leave the negotiations to his agent and focus on the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell has indicated a willingness to sign Hamilton to a contract extension. The blueliner’s asking price and the Hurricanes’ inclination to meet it will determine if he has a future in Carolina.
Hamilton was considered a serious contender for the Norris Trophy last season until sidelined by a broken leg last January. Another Norris-worth performance could price him out of the Hurricanes’ comfort zone.
CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot was banged up in training camp yesterday and is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Winger Alex Tuch took a maintenance day yesterday as a precautionary measure after experiencing soreness following the first day of on-ice drills on Monday.
NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders have reportedly signed free-agent winger Matt Martin to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.5 million. He’ll be 36 when this contract expires.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal ensures Martin could retire as an Islander, though he could be selected by Seattle in this summer’s expansion draft if left unprotected. The checking-line winger is considered one of the Isles’ glue guys, the type of hard-working player who brings the team together.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Joel Hanley missed practice yesterday. He’s been declared “unfit to practice” and listed as day-to-day.
THE SCORE: Former Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill was hired by the Seattle Kraken as an assistant general manager to GM Ron Francis. Former Chicago Blackhawks executive Norm McIver was hired as the Kraken’s director of player personnel.
NHLPA: Colin Wilson officially announced his retirement yesterday following 11 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. He scored 113 goals and 286 points in 632 regular-season games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wilson and his family in their future endeavors.
Congratulations to Team USA for their 2-0 victory over Team Canada to win the gold medal at the 2021 World Junior Championships. It’s the fourth straight time in as many meetings that Team USA has defeated Canada in the gold-medal game.
Florida Panthers’ goalie prospect Spencer Knight made 34 saves for the shutout. Anaheim Ducks prospect center Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist while Los Angeles Kings prospect center Alex Turcotte also tallied for the Americans. Zegras led the tournament with 18 points and was named tournament MVP.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russia may be Canada’s oldest hockey rival but the United States is the biggest rival and has been for some time.
The Golden Knights and Flyers are the top seeds in their respective conferences, plus the latest on Victor Hedman, Zach Werenski, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
RECAP OF SATURDAY’S ROUND-ROBIN GAMES
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights and Philadelphia Flyers are the top seeds in their respective conferences following their round-robin games Saturday.
Alex Tuch’s overtime goal lifted the Golden Knights over the Colorado Avalanche 4-3, giving them a perfect record (3-0-0) in round-robin play. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and Robin Lehner made 32 saves for Vegas, who face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Alex Tuch gets it done for his guys!
— #StanleyCup Qualifiers on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 8, 2020
Two first-period goals by Nicolas Aube-Kubel carried the Flyers to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Joel Farabee had a goal and an assist while Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere each collected two assists. The Flyers were 3-0-0 in round-robin action and face the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Lightning lost more than a chance to clinch the top seed in the conference. Defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the first period after appearing to roll his right ankle and was visibly frustrated, slamming his stick repeatedly as he headed to the dressing room.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to the severity of Hedman’s injury or how long he could be sidelined. Meanwhile, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed the entire round-robin tournament dealing with what’s described as a minor ailment.
SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston reports the Colorado Avalanche will face the Arizona Coyotes in opening round play.
AZ COYOTES INSIDER Craig Morgan reports the winner of today’s round-robin game between the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars will meet the Calgary Flames while the loser’s opening round opponent will be the Vancouver Canucks.
TSN: The Lightning faces the winner of tonight’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting matchups are emerging for the first round, especially for the Lightning. On the one hand, we could have a rematch of last year’s opening-round series with the Blue Jackets. On the other hand, a potential run-and-gun tilt with the Leafs.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The status of Blue Jackets defensemen Zach Werenski and Ryan Murray remains unclear heading into tonight’s decisive Game 5 against the Maple Leafs. Werenski suffered an upper-body injury during Game 4 on Friday while Murray missed that contest for undisclosed reasons. TSN reports Werenski underwent an MRI on Saturday.
Recaps of the final day of exhibition games, including updates on Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, John Carlson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: First-period goals by Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, and Gustav Nyquist powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Nyquist finished with two points while teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand collected two assists.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask gave up three goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Jaroslav Halak. Teammate Brad Marchand left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury following a hit on Werenski. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will provide an update today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins appeared rusty in this contest, but they’ll have plenty of time to sharpen their play during the seeding round-robin before the opening round of the playoffs. The Jackets, meanwhile, showed how much better they can be when they have a mostly healthy roster, something they didn’t have for long stretches in the regular season.
Reilly Smith scored two goals and Marc-Andre Fleury went the distance with a 22-save performance to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Tuch’s highlight-reel goal put the game out of reach. Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz left the game in the second period following a heavy check from Vegas winger Ryan Reaves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaves’ arm made contact with Schmaltz’s head during that hit. No word yet if the league’s department of player discipline will be looking at this. It’s interesting that Robin Lehner didn’t split the goalie duties with Fleury. Perhaps he’ll get the start in the Golden Knights’ first game in the round-robin on Monday.
Viktor Arvidsson scored twice while Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne combined for a 26-save shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Stars center Tyler Seguin was scratched from the lineup (unfit to play), while forward Andrew Cogliano left the game in the second period favoring his left leg following a collision with Predators defenseman Yannick Weber.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin is expected to be ready for the round-robin starting Aug. 3 against the Golden Knights. No update was provided on Cogliano’s status.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson didn’t practice yesterday after missing the final half of the third period of Wednesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carlson crashed awkwardly into the boards and was removed from the game as a precautionary measure. Head coach Todd Reirden expects the blueliner will return to practice on Saturday.
CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson took part in special teams’ practice yesterday. He’s still recovering from a knee injury suffered during the regular season. Johnsson isn’t expected in the lineup when the Leafs face off against the Blues Jackets on Sunday in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series.
THE AHL.COM: American Hockey League president and CEO Scott Howson announced a revised start date of Dec. 4 for their 2020-21 season. Details of their full schedule have yet to be determined.