NHL Offseason Lookahead – Philadelphia Flyers
The Rangers win the 2020 draft lottery, the Panthers formally part company with Dale Tallon, the opening round of the 2020 playoffs begin today and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Rangers won Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday, giving them the first-overall pick and the opportunity to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic.
2020 NHL DRAFT ORDER
1. New York Rangers
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Minnesota Wild
10. Winnipeg Jets
11. Nashville Predators
12. Florida Panthers
13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)
14. Edmonton Oilers
15. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Hurricanes received the Leafs pick as part of the return in last June’s Patrick Marleau trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was 24 hours of suck for the Maple Leafs. They would’ve kept that pick had they won the lottery.
As a result of the Penguins acquiring Jason Zucker in February from the Wild, Pens general manager Jim Rutherford has seven days to decide if he’ll send this year’s first-rounder to the Wild or defer the pick to 2021.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with general manager Dale Tallon. He’d been with the club for 10 years, most of that period as GM. The club issued a statement indicating the decision was mutual. It’s believed they’ll look outside the organization for a replacement. Assistant GM Eric Joyce takes over on an interim basis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers made little progress toward their goal of becoming a Stanley Cup contender during Tallon’s tenure. His replacement must build around the club’s core talent (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad), addressing their weaknesses (such as their poor defensive play), and change the culture of losing that’s dogged this franchise for over two decades.
NHL.COM: The opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs begins today with four games. The Columbus Blue Jackets face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning (3 pm ET), the Calgary Flames meet the Dallas Stars (5:30 pm ET), the Carolina Hurricanes square off against the Boston Bruins (8 pm ET), and the Chicago Blackhawks go up against the Vegas Golden Knights (10:30 pm ET).
SPORTSNET: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is sidelined indefinitely. As per league protocols, no information was revealed regarding his condition.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek (undisclosed) will be a game-day decision when his club faces off with the Canadiens in Game 1 of their opening-round series on Wednesday.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Sammy Blais could miss the start of his club’s opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks. He suffered an apparent leg injury during Sunday’s round-robin loss to the Dallas Stars.
TSN: The NHL reported no positive COVID-19 tests in its first two weeks in their secure zones in Edmonton and Toronto.
NHL.COM: The Hockey Hall of Fame has postponed its Induction Weekend ceremonies (Nov. 13-16) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rescheduling plans will be made during the board of directors meeting on Oct. 29.
TSN: Long-time NHL insider Bob McKenzie is scaling back his schedule in what he deemed a “soft retirement”. He’ll still appear in special events like the World Juniors and the NHL Trade Deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKenzie is the best-connected man in hockey and the most trusted insider. Best wishes in his future endeavors.
The Maple Leafs rally to tie their series with the Blue Jackets while the Canucks, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Coyotes, and Islanders march on to the playoffs. Recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Auston Matthews’ overtime tally capped a four-goal rally by the Toronto Maple Leafs to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3, tying their best-of-five qualifying-round series at two games apiece. The Leafs were down 3-0 late in the third when they tied it on goals by William Nylander, John Tavares, and Zach Hyman, setting the stage for Matthews’ OT heroics. The fifth and deciding game will be played Sunday.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 8, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until that rally, Toronto looked done and dusted. With the game and the series seemingly in the bag following a solid defensive performance, the Jackets were unprepared for the Leafs’ desperate push. Both teams are now even in third-period comebacks. The Vancouver Canucks are marching on to the playoffs after Chris Tanev’s overtime goal gave them a series-clinching 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of their qualifier. Tanev enjoyed a three-point performance while Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, and Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series was a big step forward for the rebuilding Canucks. The Wild, meanwhile, enter an off-season that could lead to some significant roster changes. This game may have been the last one for long-time Wild captain Mikko Koivu.
Carey Price had a 22-game shutout as he backstopped the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 in Game 4 of their qualifier, winning the series 3 games to 1. Artturi Lehkonen snapped a scoreless tie on a beautiful pass by Paul Byron late in the third period. Shea Weber put it away with an empty-netter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens out-worked and out-hit the Penguins, whose intensity seemed to wan as they struggled to put pucks past Price. The Habs goalie was outstanding in this series, silencing (for now) the critics claiming he was past his prime.
Dominik Kubalik snapped a 2-2 third-period tie to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2, series-ending Game 4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected two assists while Corey Crawford kicked out 43 shots for the win. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had two assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks had solid goaltending, veteran postseason experience, and scoring depth. The Oilers had McDavid’s line and not much else.
An overtime goal by Brad Richardson propelled the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 series-clinching win over the Nashville Predators. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves, team captain Oliver-Ekman-Larsson collected two assists, and Phil Kessel tallied his first goal of the series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuemper was the difference throughout this series. Nashville dominated much of the play but couldn’t crack the Coyotes netminder. The Preds also didn’t get much secondary scoring in this series.
Anthony Beauvillier scored twice as the New York Islanders wrapped up their series against the Florida Panthers with a convincing 5-1 victory in Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers had little answer for the Islanders’ defensive system. Their lack of depth could lead to a front-office shakeup as a report claimed Dale Tallon could be out as general manager.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The top seed in the Western Conference is on the line as the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche face off today in round-robin action.
TSN: Steven Stamkos will miss today’s final round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is still recovering from an undisclosed injury suffered during Phase 2 training. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos is considered to be out indefinitely for the time being.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Jakub Voracek is unavailable to play in today’s contest with the Lightning. As per league protocols, the club cannot elaborate as to his condition. Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s win over the Washington Capitals.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have loaned Filip Zadina to HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech) and Moritz Seider to Mannheim, his former German League club.
TSN: The NHL is continuing its investigation into allegations of pre-draft fitness testing by the Arizona Coyotes. A ruling could come on Monday.
NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken named Everett Fitzhugh as their team broadcaster, making him the NHL’s first Black full-time play-by-player announcer.
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 7, 2020
With the #Coyotes moving on to the playoffs, the NJ #Devils will receive Arizona’s 2020 1st RD pick as part of the Taylor Hall trade. NJ now has 2 picks in the first RD of this years entry draft, and will have 3 picks if Vancouver advances later tonight.https://t.co/FoSKA6iIIw pic.twitter.com/uo6FsSfRdL — CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 7, 2020
Updates on Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Cale Makar, Jakub Voracek, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby left yesterday’s scrimmage in the second period for “undisclosed reasons.” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan declined to comment citing league protocols, but winger Conor Sheary suggested Crosby’s departure was a “maintenance thing.”
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar left practice yesterday. Coach Jared Bednar said Makar was “unfit” to complete practice. It’s uncertain if he’ll participate in Sunday’s scrimmage.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek didn’t participate in yesterday’s practice. It could simply be a day off for Voracek after participating in every practice since Monday.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins had nine regulars – David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask, Nick Ritchie, Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner – listed as “unfit to play” on Saturday. Head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t elaborate other than to say the club had no injuries to speak of.
Pastrnak is quarantined after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Krejci, Ritchie, Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, Krug, and Rask all participated in practices before Saturday.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich left training camp early yesterday for undisclosed reasons. Coach David Quinn declined to comment citing league protocols.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the league’s cone of silence over a player’s health status leaves fans and pundits playing a guessing game. In most of the cases indicated above, it appears a player was either banged up during practice or having a maintenance day following a full week of practice and scrimmaging. Apart from Pastrnak, none of these absences appear tied to COVID-19.
THE SCORE: cited The Athletic’s Joe Smith reporting Steven Stamkos was a full participant in practice yesterday. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is nursing a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training. Head coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos could get a shot at playing in the club’s exhibition game on July 29 if he’s healthy and feels ready to go.
CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta was back on the ice Saturday after skipping practice on Friday. His absence may have simply been a maintenance day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maintenance means anything from simply having a day off for rest to getting treatment for a nagging injury.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Former NHL linesman Kevin Collins is the president, CEO, principal owner, and clerk of the works of Mass Alternative Care, Inc. It’s a marijuana-based company he started up that employs around 60 people in western Massachusetts. The company using cannabis for a diverse range of products for medical and adult recreational use.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the story suggests, Collins’ post-retirement business is growing like a weed.