Update: Habs trade Halak's rights to Blues for prospects Lars Eller, Ian Schultz

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Halak4.jpgWe now have the details of the Jaroslav Halak trade. The Montreal Canadiens received Lars Eller and Ian Schultz in exchange for the Blues to get a head-start on restricted free agent negotiations with Halak. (The first place I saw the trade details was in a Tweet from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.)

Again, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that Halak is guaranteed to be a member of the St. Louis Blues next season. The team will still need to sign him to a contract. The difference is that they now hold his bargaining rights, so while other teams cannot (legally) negotiate with Halak until July 1, it’s within the Blues rights to get things done beginning today.

Hildymac of St. Louis Gametime provided a quick reaction regarding the trade.

In return, the Blues ship back Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. While I am upset to see a prospect like Eller go, the Blues were in dire need of a solid starting goaltender. Chris Mason put up solid numbers for us in net, but his propensity for softies and the occasional wonky move, he also became a lightning rod of derision. This gives St. Louis a solid starter in net, one of the best back-ups in the league, and a good and growing defensive corps.

Schultz was a third-round pick in 2008 while Eller was the 13th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Eller is a center while Schultz is a right wing.

Again, this trade could have a serious domino effect on the goalie market. It sounded like the Blues were interested in retaining their previous starter Chris Mason, but that’s obviously not true anymore. (Unless Halak bolts for a different team.) Carey Price looks like he’s still the goalie of Montreal’s future, after all. (Um, unless he bolts too.)

Naturally, we’ll let you know if any other details emerge. I can safely say that no one saw this coming, but it could be a landmark move for the St. Louis Blues. The question is: will the Habs regret this day for years to come?

Update: I received an e-mail from hildymac that captures a bit more detail about the two prospects the Montreal Canadiens traded for.

“I liked Lars Eller and what I saw of him while he was up with the Blues. He’s extremely speedy, and the former first rounder has the potential to be a 25-30 goal scorer at his peak. The Blues though already had a player in that same mold who was more developed in David Perron, and could afford to lose Eller for Halak. Schultz is tough – he had 150 PIMs last season along with 55 points in 70 games with the Hitmen. If he continues to develop well, he’s a good energy guy. He’s also 6’2″, so it’s an upgrade height wise. Not like anyone would ever notice that.”

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    WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to block a shot by Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden on October 19, 2016 in New York City. The Red Wings defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Detroit Red Wings are trying to play their way back into playoff contention and have gained points in four consecutive games, including wins in each of their past three home games.

    On Sunday they trying to extend that home winning streak against a New York Rangers team that is one of the highest scoring teams in the league, but has had a heck of a time stopping teams in recent weeks giving up 50 goals in their past 12 games.

    All of the action starts on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET and you can watch all of it there, or online via our live stream.

    It is also a Star Sunday that will focus on Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

    Click here for the live stream

    Preview: Red Wings look to take advantage of Rangers’ struggling defense

    Who can challenge Dylan Larkin as the league’s fastest skater?

     

    Wayne Simmonds takes blame for penalty that resulted in game changing goal

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 05:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers waits for the face off against the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center on January 5, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    The Philadelphia Flyers had a tough second period on Saturday night on their way to a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

    It all started when Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was penalized for clipping Devils forward Miles Wood on a play that the Flyers felt was a legal hip check. Following that call, forward Wayne Simmonds had a brief discussion with referee Dan O’Halloran — the referee that made the call — resulting in Simmonds picking up a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It wasn’t even a particularly heated discussion (watch it here) and seemed to be similar to ones you see happen in most games across the league on any given night without further incident.

    That gave the Devils an extended 5-on-3 power play that resulted in a Kyle Palmieri power play goal to break what had been a 1-1 tie.

    Just three minutes later Wood scored his first of two goals on the night to begin putting the game out of reach.

    This was the entire sequence that led to the Palmieri goal.

    “I’ll take blame for that,” Simmonds said after the game, via CSN Philadelphia when asked about what happened. “I didn’t agree with the penalty, I got an extra two that’s my fault. They score a goal, make it 2-1, that’s a momentum changer, I take all of the blame for that.”

    Simmonds would not say what was said between the two, only adding “The referee was talking to me; I was talking to him. I am not commenting on calls; it is what it is. It happened, it’s over with now. I am not going to say anything about that.”

    Simmonds has been arguably the Flyers’ best player this season with a team-leading 18 goals entering play on Sunday.

    Whether that was what sent the game in the wrong direction for the Flyers or not, the most concerning thing is that was another big loss that continued their recent slump that has seen them win just three of their past 15 games. They remain one point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference but have already played three more games than them.

    Who can challenge Red Wings’ Larkin as NHL’s fastest skater?

    NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 25: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 25, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 5-4 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    As their core players from recent years have started to age and move on, the Detroit Red Wings have undergone a transition period with several new faces taking over the roster.

    One of the players that is going to be counted on to be a key piece moving forward in almost certainly going to be 20-year-old forward Dylan Larkin, a top-five finisher in the 2016 Calder Trophy voting and currently one of the fastest skaters in the NHL.

    He will be the focus from the Red Wings’ side of their Star Sunday matchup with the New York Rangers on NBC Sunday afternoon.

    Larkin made a name for himself a year ago when he became the first teenager to make the Red Wings’ opening night roster in more than 15 years, and then followed it up with an outstanding rookie campaign that saw him finish as the team’s leading goal scorer (23) and third leading leading point producer (45), trailing only long-time Red Wings legends Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. While his assist numbers have fallen off a bit this season, he is still on pace to top the 20-goal mark again. If he does he would be just the 13th player over the past 11 years to have two 20-goal seasons before their 21st birthday (joining Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar, Nathan MacKinnon, Sean Monahan, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares).

    His performance a year ago earned him a trip to the 2016 All-Star game in Nashville where he helped steal the show at the skills competition by breaking Mike Gartner’s 19-year-old record.

    Larkin won’t have a chance to defend his crown at the 2017 NHL All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, but there are a handful of players that might be able to make a run at his record.

    Some of the favorites to win this year’s competition should include:

    • Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (who was not at the All-Star game a year ago due to injury) would seem to be the leading favorite to not only win the competition this season if he participates in, but to perhaps also break Larkin’s record. When he is on the ice he always seems to be playing the game at a different speed than everybody else and is already one of the most game-breaking players in the league.
    • Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, currently one of the few bright spots on the Avalanche roster, is also a worthy contender and has been one of the fastest skaters in the league from the minute he arrived as the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. His acceleration is similar to Olympic speed skaters.
    • Erik Karlsson is probably the one defenseman in the league that could have a shot at winning the competition given the way he can blow past even the fastest forwards in the league every night.

    NHL on NBC: Red Wings look to take advantage of Rangers’ struggling defense

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Brandon Pirri #73 of the New York Rangers goes up against Justin Abdelkader #8 and Tomas Tatar #21 of the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on October 19, 2016 in New York City. The Red Wings defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    NBC’s coverage of the NHL continues on Sunday afternoon when the New York Rangers pay a visit to the Detroit Red Wings. You can watch all of the action on NBC starting at 12:30 p.m. ET or on our live stream here.

    It is another Star Sunday in Detroit on Sunday afternoon when the Rangers visit the Red Wings, with the focus of the game falling on New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin.

    For the Red Wings, the time is now for them to start accumulating points if they are going to extend their playoff streak to a 26th season. They enter play on Sunday in 14th place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points in their first 46 games, a pace that has them on track for only 80 points. That would be the organization’s lowest point total (excluding lockout shortened seasons) since 1990-91, the year their current postseason streak started.

    The good news is they have already started to pick up some points in recent games and are carrying a four-game point streak into Sunday’s game against the Rangers. Still sitting four points back of a wild card spot (while the team they are chasing still has two games in hand) and five points out of third place in the Atlantic Division they are still going to have plenty of work to do to make up that ground over the next couple of months.

    The Rangers, meanwhile, still have a solid hold on a playoff spot and have continued to fill the net as one of the NHL’s best offensive teams.

    The problem is they can’t seem to stop anybody from scoring right now, either.

    Over their past 12 games dating back to Dec. 20 the Rangers have held teams to less than three goals just three times, and have allowed more than four goals seven times. That includes three games where they have allowed at least seven goals. Overall, they have allowed 50 goals during the past 12 games (that is more than 4.1 per game).

    Defense was a huge question mark coming into this season for the Rangers, and there has been nothing during the season that has eliminated that concern. In recent years when the defense has been an issue (especially last season) Henrik Lundqvist has always been good enough to mask whatever problems existed. But at 34 years old there is going to come a point where his play starts to a dip a little bit and we might have started to reach that point this season. He carries a .902 save percentage into Sunday’s game which would be the worst mark (by far) of his career to this point.

    Puck drop on Sunday afternoon is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET. Catch all of the action on NBC or on our live stream.