No-Movement Clauses and The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft
Recaps of Monday’s action, Artemi Panarin takes leave of absence amid assault allegations levied by his former Russian coach, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Despite a 49-save effort by goaltender Anton Khubodin the Dallas Stars fell 3-1 to the Florida Panthers. Defensemen Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad provided two of Florida’s goals as the Panthers (26 points) sit in first place in the Discover Central Division. The Stars have dropped six straight games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning remains within three points of the Panthers after doubling up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Jesper Fast tallied twice for the Hurricanes, who sit one point behind the Panthers and two up on the Lightning.
A third-period power-play goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau lifted the New York Islanders past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner was a healthy scratch. The Sabres also announced defenseman Jake McCabe will require season-ending surgery to repair a knee injury suffered during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich turned in a 34-save shutout as his club blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0. Rittich got the nod as Flames starter Jacob Markstrom was day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Leafs star Auston Matthews was held without a point for the first time in 17 games. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (upper-body injury, day-to-day), forwards Joe Thornton and Zach Hyman (undisclosed, day-to-day) and defenseman Jake Muzzin (broken facial bone) also missed this game. It’s uncertain when Muzzin will return.
Jonathan Quick picked up his 54th career shutout backstopping the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Dustin Brown scored twice as the Kings picked up their fifth straight win to remain in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 19 points. Blues forward Sammy Blais returned to the lineup following a false positive test for COVID-19.
The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 3-0 deficit to nip the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Christian Dvorak scored twice and Clayton Keller collected two assists for the Coyotes.
Mats Zuccarello had a goal and three assists as the Minnesota Wild thumped the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Victor Rask had a goal and two assists while Marcus Foligno had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, an assist and a fight.
NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the Rangers after his former KHL coach alleged the winger beat up an 18-year-old woman in a bar following a 2011 game in Riga, Latvia. Panarin released a statement through his agent denying Andrei Nazarov’s allegation, calling it a fabrication. The Rangers also expressed their support for their winger, indicating he “unequivocally and vehemently” denied the charge.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Post reporter Larry Brooks cites a source indicating this isn’t a direct retaliatory measure by the Putin government toward the Rangers star but rather Nazarov “going rogue”. He suggests Nazarov, a Putin supporter, is attempting to sully Panarin’s reputation to curry favor within the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.
Brooks points out Latvian journalist Aivis Kalnins reported a spokesman for the hotel where the alleged incident took place claims it never happened. None of Panarin’s former KHL teammates support Nazarov’s allegation.
Nazarov claimed Panarin was detained by police and there was a criminal case and trial but the incident was covered up by bribing local officials with 40,000 euros. However, Brooks pointed out Panarin at that time was not a high-profile player and had been passed over in two previous NHL drafts. He suggests there would’ve been little reason to engage in bribery and a cover-up for someone who at that time was a run-of-the-mill player.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 21.
New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac played in his 1000th NHL game during Sunday’s contest against the Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Devils fan contacted me yesterday to point out I missed this during yesterday’s morning coffee headlines. I regret the oversight. Congratulations to Zajac on reaching this noteworthy career milestone.
TSN: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list has shrunk to nine players. Six of those are members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks announced center Dylan Strome has been placed in concussion protocol and defenseman Lucas Carlsson is on injured reserve with a strained groin. Blueline Connor Murphy has been activated from IR after missing six games with a hip injury.
THE ATHLETIC: Former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau is interested in becoming the Seattle Kraken’s bench boss.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken aren’t believed to have started interviewing potential coaching candidates yet. Boudreau could be among the contenders given his years of NHL experience.
Bruins edge the Rangers, Blues down the Coyotes, plus the latest on Steven Stamkos, Matt Murray, Zach Werenski and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to 10 games by blanking the New York Rangers 1-0. Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves for the shutout while Nick Ritchie scored the only goal in a chippy affair that totaled 58 minutes in penalties with most of those in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Artemi Panarin would miss this game due to a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins (22 points) opened a four-point lead atop the East Division and moved to within a point of the first-overall Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rangers, meanwhile, have just three victories in their last 10 games.
Justin Faulk scored twice (including the game-winner) and collected an assist as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Brayden Schenn had a two-point night for the Blues. The Coyotes played without John Hayden as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
Earlier in the day, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko surprised his teammates with an appearance during an optional practice. He’s recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and his return to action is still weeks away.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning placed captain Steven Stamkos on the COVID-19 protocol list. The development is unrelated to the lower-body injury that sidelined him from Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.
TSN: Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and won’t play in today’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators will need a better effort from backup Marcus Hogberg. He’s winless in five appearances with a 4.86 goals-against average and .836 save percentage.
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski returns to the lineup today against the Chicago Blackhawks after being sidelined for three games with a lower-body injury.
TWINCITIES.COM: Matt Dumba and Mats Zuccarello joined a depleted Minnesota Wild roster in the club’s first practice since their schedule was paused by COVID-19 10 days ago. Dumba could be ready to return to action for the Wild’s game on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews could be ready to return to the lineup after being sidelined since Jan. 28 with an injured foot. The Avs are slated to play the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday in their first game since their schedule was paused by the coronavirus.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The list of Flyers on the protocol list grew to seven as Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton were added yesterday.
THE SCORE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league is working on changing the draft lottery. While Daly didn’t divulge details, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports there were a number of people around the league who felt it unfair that the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, who finished dead last in 2019-20, ended up with the fourth-overall pick in last year’s draft rather than selecting first overall. Changes to the draft are expected to be discussed with the league board of governors at a future date.
USA HOCKEY: announced New York Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury has been named the general manager of the 2021 US National Men’s Team.
Recaps of Sunday’s action include Leon Draisaitl’s six-assist performance, the Rangers placed Tony DeAngelo on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl collected six assists and Connor McDavid netted five points (one goal, four assists) as the Edmonton Oilers rolled to an 8-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. James Neal scored twice and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a three-point performance. Brady Tkachuk and Colin White each had two points for the Senators, who remain winless since their season-opening victory over Toronto last month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid (22 points) and Draisaitl (21) sit one-two in the NHL’s scoring race. They’ve each have five straight multi-point games.
The New Jersey Devils downed the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Michael McLeod and Miles Wood each scored twice while goaltender Eric Comrie made 30 saves for his first win in nearly three years. Sabres captain Jack Eichel and winger Victor Olofsson each had two assists.
A shootout goal by Vincent Trocheck gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars. Jordan Staal led the way with a goal and an assist as the Hurricanes picked up their fourth straight win. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored and added an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a leg injury in his club’s season-opener.
The Florida Panthers extended their points streak to six games by holding off the Detroit Red Wings 3-2, leaving the latter winless (0-4-2) in their last six games. Panthers goalie Chris Driedger made 32 saves while teammates Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle each had two assists. Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi missed the game with an upper-body injury.
Two turnovers by Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins resulted in goals by Pius Suter and Patrick Kane as the Chicago Blackhawks rolled to a 3-1 victory. Blackhawks rookie goalie Kevin Lankinen got the win with 32 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are hanging tough despite the absence of several key players to injury and illness. They’re also getting strong goaltending from Lankinen, who’s gone 3-1-2 in his first six games with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
Kevin Hayes scored in overtime, Joel Farabee netted a hat trick and James van Riemsdyk collected four assists as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 4-3. The Isles forced overtime on third-period goals by Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal but remain winless in five games (0-3-2).
St. Louis Blues rookie goalie Ville Husso made 25 saves for his first career NHL win in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Brayden Schenn tallied twice for the Blues.
The Minnesota Wild overcame a 3-2 deficit to nip the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime. Victor Rask scored twice, including the game-tying goal that set the stage for Jonas Brodin’s winner in the extra frame. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had two assists but left the game after two periods with an unspecified injury. Earlier in the day, Wild winger Marcus Foligno was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, defenseman Matt Dumba was placed on IR with a lower-body injury and Mats Zuccarello (upper body) was placed on long-term injury reserve.
NEW YORK POST: In a surprising move Sunday, the Rangers placed defenseman Tony DeAngelo on waivers. Head coach David Quinn declined to comment on social media reports about a post-game altercation Saturday between DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. The rumors were confirmed by Post reporter Larry Brooks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation suggests the altercation between DeAngelo and Georgiev ended when winger Chris Kreider stepped in and punched the defenseman in the face. DeAngelo has struggled on the ice this season while also drawing unwanted attention for what Brooks described as the blueliner’s “agitating presence on social media”.
It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out. Brooks feels this latest incident is the last straw for the Rangers. He doesn’t believe they can keep DeAngelo on the team any longer.
If DeAngelo’s unclaimed by noon today Brooks speculated the Blueshirts could terminate his contract but it’s unclear if they’ll go that route. Trading the rearguard with his personal baggage and $4.8 million annual average value through 2021-22 could also prove difficult.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens assistant general manager has pulled out of the Pittsburgh Penguins search for a new GM. Mellanby was considered a candidate to replace Jim Rutherford, who abruptly stepped down last week.
NHL aims to start the season on Jan. 15 plus the latest on James van Riemsdyk, Mats Zuccarello and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli, THE ATHLETIC’s Pierre LeBrun and SPORTSNET’S Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston reported the NHL and NHLPA are making progress toward a possible 56-game schedule commencing around Jan. 15.
Johnston indicated talks between the two sides stretched through Thursday night into Friday morning. They discussed 52- and 56-games schedules but both sides prefer the latter. The planning includes a seven-team Canadian division and eight-team U.S. Divisions. He described the tenure of the talks as “good”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jan. 1 start date was no longer possible after discussions broke down over the league’s requests for increased escrow and salary-deferral rates. A mid-January start date is more sensible, providing time for players to return to their NHL cities. A longer regular-season increases the possibility of staging games with fans in attendance later in the schedule.
Training camps for most clubs could begin as early as Jan. 2. Last season’s seven non-playoff clubs could have a voluntary seven-day pre-camp opening in late December, though a source told LeBrun that’s not a 100 percent certainty.
Friedman indicates those pre-camps could begin on Dec. 28. He also said it’s possible there might not be exhibition games before the regular season begins. The players were told to prepare for a Jan. 15 puck drop while some teams were told they could receive more information over the next several days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those non-playoff clubs last took the ice back in March. It believed the league promised them an additional week of training camp. They’ll likely get those extra days, though they might not add up to a full week.
Both sides acknowledge the course of the pandemic could push that mid-January start toward February. Sources told LeBrun the league wants to complete the season by early July ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Friedman said the plan is to end the regular season on May 1, allowing room to make up potentially postponed games, with the Stanley Cup awarded between June 30 and July 7.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While most NHL fans were pleased to see the completion of the 2020 playoffs, no one wants another postseason running through the summer. The league also doesn’t want the Stanley Cup Final being overshadowed by the Summer Olympics.
The NHL hopes to stage a normal season for 2021-22. They’re still planning to send players to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and must incorporate a two-week break into the ’21-’22 schedule.
Given the current course of the pandemic, Johnston said the possibility of starting the season in bubbles (hub cities) is still on the table. The preference of the owners and players is to play in their home arenas but that might not be possible given the rising COVID numbers in North America and the ramping up of restrictions in some areas.
Friedman suggests the first couple of weeks of the season could see teams playing in hub cities, moving back to all NHL cities over the course of the season. He wouldn’t be shocked, for example, if the San Jose Sharks began the season playing in Arizona because of the health restrictions in Santa Clara County, California, where the Sharks’ home arena is located.
What wasn’t discussed was the stalemate between the league and the NHLPA over player salaries. Friedman said it sounds like the league’s request to increase escrow payments could be taken off the table because the players won’t agree to that. However, he indicated they are potentially more willing to talk about salary deferrals. LeBrun speculated the players might agree to a lower deferral rate but feels they’ll want something from the league in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players won’t agree to increase the escrow rate because that’s money they won’t get back. While they probably aren’t happy about raising the deferred salary rate, that money will be returned in equal installments over the final three years of the CBA extension.
What they’ll want in return from the league remains to be seen. Theories pitches by several pundits suggest including interest in those deferred payments, expanding the playoffs from 16 to 20 teams, or increased post-playing career benefits for retired players.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk said the players are “ready to roll” if the team owners honor the collective bargaining agreement. As the Flyers NHLPA player rep, van Riemsdyk said multiple scenarios regarding the amount of revenue that could be created this season was taken into account when the extension to the CBA was negotiated.
“As players, we’re ready to roll and ready to play and uphold the agreement,” said van Riemsdyk. “We’re just waiting to hear from the owners, but we’re ready to get started.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk’s comments appeared the day before the recent reports on a 56-game schedule commencing Jan. 15. We’ll learn in the coming days if the PA will bend or stand firm.
SPORTSNET: Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello could miss the start of the season and be sidelined for a while following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right arm a few weeks ago. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported it’s the same arm he broke two seasons ago playing for the Dallas Stars. He played with that discomfort for most of last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain the decline in Zuccarello’s production last season.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have parted ways with long-time anthem singer Mark Donnelly over his plan to sing at an anti-mask rally today in downtown Vancouver.
Check out the latest on the Penguins and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi report rival team executives believe Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could explore trading Kris Letang, despite Rutherford saying he wanted to keep the blueliner among his core players. One executive claimed Letang still has value in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang’s age (33), annual average salary ($7.25 million through 2021-22), and injury history are significant sticking points. While he has an 18-team trade list, his no-movement clause means he cannot be demoted to the minors. With two-thirds of the teams facing a cap crunch for 2020-21, moving Letang seems a remote possibility.
They also reported the Penguins’ decision to release assistant coach Sergei Gonchar isn’t a sign of renewed strain between head coach Mike Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin, who is close to Gonchar. Despite occasional disputes, management believes Malkin respects Sullivan. They also said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby let it be known last year that he doesn’t want Malkin traded unless the center asks to be moved. Malkin has indicated he wants to finish his career with the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s name is always brought up by somebody in the rumor mill as a trade option whenever the Penguins fall short of expectations. Yohe and Rossi remind us he’s got a full no-movement clause, giving him full control over his NHL future for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2022. Malkin’s not going anywhere unless he wants out, and he isn’t interested in that option.
Yohe also believes Matt Murray could be on his way out, suggesting he needs a change of scenery. He anticipates Rutherford will find a way to move center Nick Bjugstad, who has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.1 million. He also doesn’t rule out Jared McCann and Zach Aston-Reese becoming trade candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Rutherford sheds salary, the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign Murray and fellow RFA goaltender Tristan Jarry. I think Murray hits the trade block following the postseason.
Yohe doesn’t expect pending unrestricted free agents like Justin Schultz, Patrick Marleau, and Conor Sheary will be back.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently raised several questions about possible offseason moves by the Minnesota Wild.
One was whether Wild GM Bill Guerin would bundle some assets, including either Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba, to acquire a first-line center, or attempt to sign one via free agency. Russo also wondered if Guerin might shop one of his goalies, acquire one via trade or free agency, and/or promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would have better trade value, and might even fetch a first-line center in a one-for-one swap. That move, however, would address one problem but create another, as Dumba is (in my opinion) their best defenseman. Guerin will have to look to the trade market as this year’s UFA market is thin on quality centers.
As for their goalies, Russo pointed out adding one could mean buying out Devan Dubnyk, a move that could suggest Kahkonen’s not the goalie of the future. Dubnyk’s only got one year left on his contract. It might be worthwhile standing pat between the pipes and see how next season unfolds. They’ll have a better idea of Kahkonen’s readiness and can let Dubnyk walk via free agency.
Russo wondered if Guerin might revisit his failed trade-deadline attempt to ship Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. He also mused about buying out Dubnyk or Victor Rask if they can’t trade them, and if they’ll find a way to move expensive winger Mats Zuccarello, who also carries a no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The attempted Parise deal was done before COVID-19 derailed the schedule and flattened the salary cap. I don’t see that trade happening, especially with the Isles’ limited cap space. Buying out Dubnyk and Rask creates around $4 million in dead cap space next season, over $2.1 million in 2021-22, and $1.33 million for each of the following two seasons.
The Wild are likely stuck with Zuccarello for a while unless he’s willing to waive his NMC and they’re willing to either pick up part of his $6 million AAV or bundle him with a sweetener like a high draft pick or top prospect.