When a deal comes together between Brian Burke and Lou Lamoriello it’s like a layer cake of analysis, even if it’s a small deal. New Jersey sent center David Steckel to Toronto in exchange for a 2012 fourth round draft pick. It’s not a big deal by any means, but it’s one that has curious effects on both teams.
For Toronto, Steckel enters a situation where the Leafs have a lot of depth at center. Tim Connolly and Mikhail Grabovski have the top two lines taken care of, but guys like Matt Lombardi, Tyler Bozak, and Philippe Dupuis are in the mix on the bottom two lines. Bozak was assumed to be the third line center while Lombardi would likely start on his wing, or vice-versa. Dupuis was set to be the center on the fourth line, but with Steckel and his league-leading faceoff winning abilities now in town, he likely slots in there.
The guy getting the squeeze here could be Bozak as Lombardi being healthy again after concussion issues makes him a bit redundant. Bozak is more of an offensive player but having him center a third or fourth line doesn’t make much sense and there isn’t room for him elsewhere in the lineup.
In New Jersey, Steckel was already squirreled away as the Devils’ third or fourth line center, but with him headed to Toronto now the door is open for the Devils young guys to take over. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello tells Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice that the move opens the door for others to fit in better with the team.
“It certainly frees up a roster spot for a combination of us looking into seeing what we can do with Petr Sykora and also the young players (Adam) Henrique and Mattias Tedenby and Brad Mills, Cam Janssen, I think they’ve warranted being on the roster,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “But the coaches will have different options at that center position: Hernrique, Petr Sykora and Brad Mills.”
Sykora has yet to sign with the Devils. If he is sticking around, that move will happen soon enough.
It’s a blip on the screen when it comes to headline-grabbing deals, but it’s the sort of deal that could lead to other others happening to follow it up, especially in Toronto.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.