Some assorted news from the NHL today, mainly focusing on two teams who are preparing for a summer full of margaritas and golf.
- I was glancing at the league standings today and I noticed something that gave me “forgot someone’s birthday” type guilt; I must belatedly congratulate the Oilers for being the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Sorry guys, I have to admit if a special occasion isn’t spelled out plainly to me on my Facebook feed, I’m flat-out going to miss it. I really feel like I let you down on this one.
- In other semi-Oilers news, unemployed coach du jour Craig MacTavish was named the head coach for Team Canada for this summer’s World Hockey Championships according to the Edmonton Journal. The tournament is a fun, if odd competition since the squads are often a hodgepodge of players who either missed the playoffs or were booted from them quite early. Some might bristle when I refer to it as “a consolation round” but in some weird way it really is kind of the NIT to the Stanley Cup Finals’ March Madness.
- The Orange County Register’s Ducks Blog brings up the somewhat ludicrous trade proposal to send soon-to-be RFA Bobby Ryan to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn. (To be fair, they didn’t originate the trade rumor.) Here’s a snippet from that story.
So do you go the extra mile to keep Ryan, already a two-time 30-goal scorer who just turned 23? Or do you dangle Ryan as an attractive piece to beef up a problem area if he and the Ducks can’t hammer out a deal? The club doesn’t have to be rash as Ryan is a pending restricted free agent but the big winger will get a raise this summer. A big one.
Eh, there’s no doubt that the Ducks need help on defense (and there isn’t a whole lot of great defensive talent set to go the free agent route this summer) but I think both teams would risk some serious heartache if they made such a trade. Sure, it’s sort of an exchange of abundance (Ducks’ young forwards, Leafs’ many defensemen) to improve areas of weakness but I still would be very reluctant to make such a move. Especially considering the fact that the Ducks should see some serious monetary relief with the probable retirements of Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
Would you make that move if you were Bob Murray or Brian Burke?
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Stars expect Seguin to miss at least first two games of Blues series
Here are PHT’s second-round playoff predictions
Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: