Our summer of free agency started and still continues with the Ilya Kovalchuk saga, but in the meantime, for just this weekend, we’ve got the Tomas Kaberle saga and tomorrow could see things come to a head with he and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have until midnight tomorrow to work a trade for the talented defenseman or else they’ll see his no-trade clause go back into effect for the rest of the season. So how are things shaping up on the trade front with just about a day left to get a deal done? They’re not really shaping up at all but people are talking about things nonetheless.
One team that has been rumored to be interested since the get-go this summer is Columbus and The Columbus Dispatch’s Tom Reed got caught up on what the Blue Jackets’ interest is at the moment.
Yes, Kaberle is a power-play quarterback, and the Leafs power play was awful. But look at that lineup. There’s a reason Burke is looking for impact forwards.
How much does a club in a non-traditional market, with scant playoff history, surrender for a player who has only one year remaining on his deal? It’s a tough question. I think Kaberle-to-Columbus remains a long shot, but it makes for an intriguing weekend.
So count the Blue Jackets in as long shots unless something completely out of left field happens and they knock Brian Burke over with an offer. As for what Brian Burke may or may not be doing, ESPN’s Scott Burnside tweeted something of note today about that.
Toronto GM Brian Burke tells us looking more likely that Tomas Kaberle will remain a Leaf. Could change before midnight Sun. Of course.
Just a game of chicken right now for Brian Burke. It’s clear that he’s gotten offers for Kaberle, the seriousness of which we just don’t know right now. Instead of tipping his hand as to what he’ll do, Burke will instead reiterate what he’s said from the beginning in that he doesn’t have to move Kaberle at all. While that’s true, the possibility of losing Kaberle at the end of the season and getting nothing but his salary off the books in return doesn’t really make for great consolation. If anything goes down at all between now and midnight tomorrow it’ll be fascinating to see how Brian Burke’s game of chicken turns out.
Well, that was quite a third period.
For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.
Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.
The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.
Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.
And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.
Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)
The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.
Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.
The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.
The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.
As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.
On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.
He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.
The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.
There was no call on the play.
Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.
Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.
Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.
That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus: