PHT Morning Skate: 5 facts about the 92-93 Pens team that set the NHL winning streak record

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–The Columbus Blue Jackets are one game away from tying the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest winning streak in NHL history. That Penguins team was obviously loaded with talent, but that record was set many years ago, which makes it a little hard to remember. BarDown shares five facts about that run. (BarDown)

–Many people thought shipping Shea Weber for P.K. Subban was the right call for the Preds, but a few months later, it appears as though Nashville might be lacking an identity and some leadership. “If there’s one word that describes our almost first half of the season it’s ‘inconsistency,'” general manager David Poile said. “In October we were not very good. In November we were one of the best teams in the league. In December we faltered. The question remains — are we October or are we November?” (ESPN)

–Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t appear to be himself last year, and it was ultimately one of the reasons why his team was terrible in 2015-16. This year, he’s one of the leading candidates for the Vezina and Hart trophies. “You look at his body last year and the body composition, and all his body fats and all that, you’d say it was impossible,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “But he did it. He basically sculpted his body into a different form in the off-season, and it wasn’t fat that was coming off his body, I can tell you that. That just tells you about his dedication and how serious he is about his professionalism and how he approaches every day.” (The Hockey News)

–After suffering an ugly loss to the Sabres on Tuesday night, the Rangers bounced back with a big 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. You can watch the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–After former Bruin Milt Schmidt passed away yesterday, Sportsnet shared a terrific 2015 piece on how tough hockey players in Schmidt’s era were. Here’s an except from the article: Remembering his playing days, (Schmidt) curled back his upper lip, pointed to his front teeth and said: “These are not mine. These are Rocket Richard’s.” Story went that Richard broke Schmidt’s nose and teeth with his stick. The team doctor put Schmidt’s face back together, then Schmidt got on the ice again and drilled Richard. (Sportsnet)

Auston Matthews grabs most of the headlines in Toronto, but Rotoworld’s Gus Katsaros explains how important William Nylander‘s been for their improved power play. Nylander’s contributed to 92.3 percent of his team’s on-ice goals on the man-advantage. (Rotoworld)

–Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly visited the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto over the Christmas break and he brought plenty of holiday cheer with him. “I think that when you get time off it’s important that you try to do stuff that you might not have time for during the season regularly and it’s my first Christmas here in Toronto,” Rielly said. “You get the day off, come make a difference and just have some fun with the kids.” You can watch the video on NHL.com.

After playing for Canada, journeyman Chris Lee reportedly leaving KHL for NHL

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His numbers in the KHL jump right off the page.

And he just won a silver medal with Canada at the Worlds.

So it’s no huge surprise to hear, via Aivis Kalniņš, that defenseman Chris Lee has left Magnitagorsk Metallurg to pursue a shot in the NHL.

Lee, who turns 37 in October, had 65 points (15G, 50A) in 60 games for Metallurg this season. He was partnered with Viktor Antipin, the 24-year-old who will reportedly join the Sabres next season. Predictably, there has been speculation that Lee could be on his way to Buffalo.

A late bloomer, Lee was never drafted and has never played an NHL game. He spent most of his North American pro career in the AHL, after getting his start in the ECHL following four years at SUNY-Potsdam. He left for Europe in 2010 and played in Germany and Sweden before arriving in the KHL.

Lee was the only non-NHLer on Canada’s roster at the Worlds.

“Lee fit,” coach Jon Cooper said, per Sportsnet. “You wouldn’t have thought he wasn’t an NHL player.”

‘Many teams’ interested in Leafs prospect Toninato, who could go UFA

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Here’s a name to keep an eye on as this summer progresses: Dominic Toninato.

Toninato, 23, was Toronto’s fifth-round pick way back in 2012. From there, he went the collegiate route and put together a strong four years at Minnesota-Duluth. His NCAA career culminated with a senior season in which he served as team captain, set a personal high in points and led the Bulldogs to the Frozen Four final.

Though his rights are currently owned by the Leafs, Toninato would become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16 if he and the club don’t reach an agreement. You’d think, based on his body of work, Toninato would be a major priority for GM Lou Lamoriello, but it’s not that simple. Thanks to years of stockpiling draft picks, Toronto has a ton of prospects — but can only have 50 players under contract at the NHL level.

Adding to the complexity? There are other teams lined up to make Toninato an offer.

“Dom’s a good player. Will teams be interested? Yes. There will be many teams interested in him,” agent Neil Sheehy told the Star. “The process right now is working with the Leafs. They hold his rights till Aug. 16.

“They have a lot of things that they’re trying to figure out.”

Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound especially promising in Toronto. The club offered Toninato a deal last summer, which he turned down to return to school. They could offer him an AHL contract — there’s no limit on those — but Sheehy said his client isn’t interested in that.

Sheehy said he hopes to have more clarity in late June, following the expansion and entry drafts.

 

 

Expansion draft will force Ducks to make some big decisions

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Bob Murray managed to keep the Anaheim Ducks together for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

But after losing to Nashville in the Western Conference Final, Anaheim’s general manager will now have to make some big decisions — especially with the expansion draft looming.

If the Ducks decide to protect seven forwards and three defensemen, the blue line will definitely be worth watching. Hampus Lindholm will be protected for sure, and Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour are each exempt. But that only leaves two spots for Sami Vatanen, Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson.

Bieksa, 35, has a no-movement clause, so unless the Ducks find a way to get around that, they’ll need to protect him. (Chances are, they’ll seek a way around it, either via trade or buyout or just convincing him to waive.)

Fowler, meanwhile, only has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. And after the season he just had, with 39 points in 80 games, the 25-year-old won’t be cheap to re-sign. For that reason, it’s possible Murray may choose to shop Fowler instead. Or perhaps it’s Vatanen that goes on the block.

Yes, there is the option to protect four defensemen and four forwards. But Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler all have NMCs, and the Ducks won’t want to expose Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg.

In goal, the Ducks have John Gibson under club control for years to come, but they’ll need to choose a backup. Jonathan Bernier is an unrestricted free agent, and even though he played well during the regular season, his performance against the Predators wasn’t great. Murray may want to at least consider his options there.

Related: Fowler surprised he wasn’t traded

Carlyle says Ducks were dealt ‘tough hand’ by schedule-makers

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Call it sour grapes if you wish, but Randy Carlyle thinks the Anaheim Ducks got screwed by the NHL’s schedule-maker.

The head coach launched his complaint last night after his Ducks fell to the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

“I don’t think we played poorly in the series,” said Carlyle. “I think that the toughest part I have about the whole thing is that this was our seventh game in 13 days.

“Now, there’s various reasons for that, but I think there’s got to be some consideration in the scheduling in the future between series. We finished on a Wednesday and had to open again on Friday, whereas other teams had to open on Saturday. An extra day would have given us a chance to recover. And we know how tough these games are. And that was a tough hand that was dealt to us.”

The “other” team to which Carlyle was referring is Pittsburgh. The Penguins beat Washington in Game 7 of the second round on May 10, then opened against Ottawa on May 13.

The Ducks, on the other hand, knocked out Edmonton in Game 7, also on May 10, then had to start against Nashville on May 12.

Fatigue may, indeed, have been a factor early in the series against Nashville. In Game 1, the Ducks were badly outshot, 46-29, and lost, 3-2, in overtime.

Carlyle said afterwards that the extra rest had made a difference for the Preds, who’d eliminated the Blues in six and gone four days without a game.