PHT Morning Skate: Sharks’ Mueller tossed from game because of lineup card mistake

–The Tampa Bay Lightning will retire Martin St. Louis’ number on Friday night. Even though he hasn’t played for the Lightning in three years, you can still see the impact he had on some of his former teammates. “He was my mentor for sure,” Steven Stamkos said. “Everyone saw the chemistry we had on the ice, but not a lot of people know, just because they don’t get the behind-the-scenes look, of how much he meant to me. Not only as a teammate but as a great friend.” (Tampa Bay Times)

–Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey has played in 41 games this year, which is already more than the 33 games he played at Harvard last season. How will he hold up? We’ll find out soon. “You think about rookie camp and preseason, I’ve played almost 50 games. So I’m on pace for 100. I’ve thought about it, just trying to take it day by day.” (New York Post)

Sidney Crosby has had some great seasons throughout his career, but 2016-17 might be the best one yet. His stats are even more impressive when you consider he missed the start of the year with a concussion. “It’s not easy with everyone having a full training camp and kind of stepping into that after not skating for a few weeks would have been difficult,” Crosby said. “I was just thankful for that and felt like it was one of those things where it just kept progressing and that if it continued to feel well, it wouldn’t be too long.” (NHL.com)

Alex Ovechkin picked up his 1000th career point (it didn’t take him very long) in last night’s 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can watch the full highlights by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Canadiens defenseman Ryan Johnston is about 5’10, 180 pounds, which is small by NHL standards, so making it to “the show” wasn’t a given for him. “Back in Grade 12 in high school, I think I was probably 5-foot-6, growing into what I am now, and I was 140 pounds,” Johnston said. “That just kind of gave me the extra time to develop. I think if I went to major-junior, I probably wouldn’t have got where I am today. I don’t think I would have had the time to develop mentally and physically.” (Montreal Gazette)

–As you may remember, Zack Kassian was involved in a car accident in Montreal back in Oct. 2015. Now, the 21-year-old woman who was driving the car has been charged with driving under the influence causing injuries. To make matters worse, she and Kassian are both involved in a civil suit with the leasing company that loaned them the vehicle that was damaged. (National Post)

–The San Jose Sharks were forced to play with five defensemen in last night’s game against Calgary because of a silly mistake. When Paul Martin was made a last-minute scratch, Mirco Mueller took his spot in the lineup. The only problem is, the Sharks didn’t make the switch on the official game sheet. To make matters worse, the Sharks lost the game. (Yahoo)

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    Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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    Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

    However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

    Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

    “On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

    Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

    Related

    Markov, Habs officially part ways.

    Markov is headed to the KHL.

    Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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    The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

    The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

    Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

    He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.

    Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

    Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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    Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

    “I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

    (At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

    The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

    Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

    If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

    After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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    One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

    Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

    Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

    Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

    With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

    Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.