The Tampa Bay Lightning were among the teams that couldn’t win the Brad Richards sweepstakes, but they have bigger fish to fry with Steven Stamkos anyway. The team still has a ways to go before they can re-sign Stamkos, though, so in the mean time they’re answering smaller questions. That includes the question of their suspect defense; they tried to take a step in the right direction by signing former New York Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy to a one-year, $1 million deal.
The Lightning will have a different question to answer this season: which six defensemen will they dress? Eight blueliners are under contract at the NHL-level now: Gilroy, Eric Brewer, Victor Hedman, Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund, Brett Clark, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Bruno Gervais. One wonders if there might be an odd man out among this bunch, but perhaps head coach Guy Boucher will enjoy having so many options.
Gilroy will probably need to fight for his playing time, then. He scored 11 points and averaged 14:11 minutes per game in 58 contests during the 2010-11 season and 15 points and 16:19 time on ice in 69 games in 09-10 with the Rangers. New York decided not to extend a qualifying offer his way, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. Gilroy has the kind of skating ability and offensive potential could make him an interesting alternating option with Bergeron, but we’ll see if other moves follow the addition of Gilroy.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.