As mentioned earlier, the NHL announced its Vezina Trophy finalists this morning — New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.
The nominations came as no real surprise given how well each goaltender has played this season, and what unique resumes each brings to the table: Lundqvist was the MVP of the best team in the Eastern Conference and the No. 2 squad in the NHL, Quick won 35 games and made the playoffs despite L.A. having the league’s second-worst offense and Rinne played more than any goalie in the league, leading in appearances (73) and wins (43).
Before we get to the vote, some things to consider:
— NHL GMs vote on the Vezina, not the Professional Hockey Writers Association. This is key, because there’s a long-held belief that Western Conference goalies (see: Quick, Jonathan) fail to get proper recognition because by the time they play, most GMs are passed out in a recliner.
— To that point: 17 of the last 20 Vezina winners have come from the Eastern Conference.
— Snubs? Not really. This has to be one of the strongest (and most obvious) trio of finalists in recent memory. You could make the case for Phoenix’s Mike Smith or St. Louis’ Brian Elliott — both had outstanding seasons — but to do that you’d have to remove one of Lundqvist, Quick and/or Rinne…and that’s a tough sell.
— None of the three finalists have won a Vezina before. This is Quick’s first-ever nomination; Rinne was a finalist for the first time last season while this is Lundqvist’s fourth time at the dance. Could be why many figure it’s his award to lose.
— The last Rangers goalie to win a Vezina was John Vanbiesbrouck in 1985-86.
— No King and/or Predator has ever won.
Okay, to the poll…
With Blues in ‘precarious playoff spot,’ it was time for Shattenkirk to go
If the St. Louis Blues were enjoying another season like they enjoyed last year, they wouldn’t have traded Kevin Shattenkirk.
But in the words of GM Doug Armstrong, the Blues are currently “in a precarious playoff spot,” so yesterday Shattenkirk was dealt to Washington for a haul that included a first-round draft pick in 2017 and 22-year-old forward Zach Sanford.
“It just felt that where we are and where we need to go, it was time to make a move,” Armstrong said.
“I think when we got through last year’s playoffs, knowing that we were going to be entering unrestricted free agency with a number of players over a two- or three-year span, we wanted to turn the tide over to a different core group of players, and this just continues down that path.”
Ottawa gave up 19-year-old prospect Jonathan Dahlen to get Burrows from the Canucks.
“I think we’ve become a tougher team to play against and with the acquisition of Alex Burrows we’ve become an even tougher team to play against,” said GM Pierre Dorion, per the Ottawa Sun. “We all know how games are at this time of the year and, hopefully, when our team gets in the playoffs, how they’re grinding, difficult games.
“Getting someone of Alex’s character is something we couldn’t turn (away from). Our players have done exactly what we’ve asked of them. They’ve played hard, they’ve played a system and we just felt it was time to add another piece. In Alex Burrows, we’re ecstatic to have that piece.”
After last night’s 5-1 loss in Tampa Bay, the Sens only have a four-point playoff cushion, so there’s still work to be done down the stretch.
At first glance, these deals certainly appear to be expansion draft-related. The Sun-Times notes this will allow ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman to protect former first-round pick Ryan Hartman, who’s enjoying a breakout campaign with 15 goals through 57 games.
Rozsival, 38, has been the more active of today’s signees, appearing in 51 contests while notching a pair of points. He’s won a pair of Stanley Cups in Chicago.
Tootoo, 34, was signed last summer and has appeared in 36 games. He’s gone scoreless while racking up 21 PIM.
Rozsival’s current deal pays $600,000, while Tootoo’s is at $750,000. Terms of their extensions weren’t released but it’s fair to suggest the dollar figures will be similar, given Chicago’s pressed right up against the cap ceiling.
Fippula, 32, is in the fourth of a five-year, $25 million deal with a $5M average annual cap hit. He’s had a nice bounce-back offensive campaign, with 34 points through 59 games — last year, those totals dipped to 31 in 76 — and has been a dependable, defensively responsible center during his time in Tampa Bay.
So, why might he get moved?
TB aggressive, moving rentals Bishop/Boyle, while still chasing playoffs so no surprise to hear TB trying to be creative to ease cap crunch.
Yzerman has plenty of business to attend to this summer. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin are all pending RFAs requiring new deals, and it’s going to be expensive trying to keep all three in the fold.
It’s also worth noting that Victor Hedman‘s monster extension kicks in next year and, per ESPN, Yzerman is still searching to add a top-four defenseman to the mix.
McKenzie notes it’s unclear if Filppula has agreed to waive his NTC. If he does, though, teams would undoubtedly be interested in acquiring an experienced middle man, with tons of playoff experience.
Filppula’s appeared in over 150 career postseason contests, winning a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008.