There were only six active players to make the NHL’s Top 100 that was unveiled on Friday night in Los Angeles. Half of those active players — Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith — have been members of the Chicago Blackhawks for the better part of the past decade and have been core members of a franchise that has won three Stanley Cups in the past seven years.
Toews, the captain of the team for the past nine years and for all three of the recent championships, was quick to give a lot of the credit to his teammates for being included in the group.
“It tells me I have been a part of some really good teams and I owe a lot to my teammates to be recognized in this fashion,” said Toews on Friday night in Los Angeles. “It’s incredible, it’s just surreal for me.”
That him and two of his teammates (the only team with more than one active player on the list) were included is just another example as to how successful the Blackhawks have been in recent years. The one constant for them during this stretch has been a core of players that has been kept together at all costs, no matter how much cap space they account for or how much they have to trim elsewhere on the roster. That core has largely been made up of Toews, Kane, Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford, with the first three being the players really driving the success.
Since the trio of Toews, Kane and Keith started playing together at the beginning of the 2007-08 season the Blackhawks have won 434 games (fourth most in the NHL), reached the Conference Finals five times (most in the NHL during that stretch), the Stanley Cup Final three times (tied for the most with Pittsburgh) and won it all three times (most in the NHL).
That success as a team is a big reason why three of the six active players on the Top 100 list are all Blackhawks.
“I think that’s the only way you have team success nowadays is if you have a core group of guys like that, that are I guess at this level in some ways, and you put three guys on here tonight that are truly special players to be a part of those winning teams. I think the three of us are pretty honored to representing our team success that we have been a part of these past six years.”
The goaltending situation in Philadelphia has become a lot more clear today, as they’ve signed Michal Neuvirth to a contract extension.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, it’s a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million ($2.5 million cap hit).
Neuvirth was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
The 28-year-old has been between the pipes for nine of his team’s last 11 games, but he’s dropped four of his last five decisions. He has a 10-9-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage in 24 games.
The duo of Neuvirth and Steve Mason hasn’t worked out too well in Philadelphia. Both players have struggled to find consistency in their game, which has been problematic for the Flyers.
Even though Neuvirth will be back, they can still shake things up by moving on from Mason, who is also scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st.
The Flyers also re-signed forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare earlier today.
Philadelphia has re-upped with checking forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on a two-year extension, per Sportsnet.
It’s believed to be a $2.9 million pact, one that carries a $1.45M average annual cap hit. That’s a nice raise for the 31-year-old, who’s in the last of a two-year pact at $712,500 per.
Bellemare joined the Flyers for the ’14-15 campaign, following a lengthy career in Europe that included stops in his native France, and a lengthy spell in Sweden. He’s emerged as a good energy guy in the bottom-six forward group, one that can kill penalties and chip in with a bit of offense.
Today’s news might come as a bit of a surprise for Flyers fans, however. Bellemare was a pending UFA and, given he’s on the wrong side of 30, there was speculation he’d be sold at the deadline in the hopes of recouping some assets.
Some tough news if you’re a fan of the New York Rangers.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Jesper Fast will miss some time with what’s believed to be a separated shoulder.
Fast suffered the injury after being flattened by Alex Ovechkin in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
The 25-year-old has been a key contributor for New York this season. He’s up to five goals and 15 assists in 59 games. He’s also second in shorthanded ice time and in hits among all Rangers forwards.
The Rangers went into last night’s game without Mika Zibanejad and they also lost Chris Kreider momentarily yesterday, but he was able to return.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to provide an update on Fast’s status after today’s practice, but don’t expect the news to be good.
The Montreal Canadiens are keeping busy.
Just one day after acquiring Steve Ott from the Detroit Red Wings and Brendan Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers in separate deals, general manager Marc Bergevin completed another trade before the deadline when he acquired forward Dwight King from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
It will become a third-round pick if he re-signs with the Canadiens this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
In 63 games this season King has eight goals and seven assists.
He also adds to the Canadiens’ apparent season-long attempt to become a grittier and tougher team, now joining a roster that now has seen Ott, Shea Weber, and Andrew Shaw join it over the past eight months.
For the Kings, it is a move that clears out a bit of salary cap space, perhaps opening the door for them to complete a deal with Colorado for Jarome Iginla, something that seems to be a work in progress on Wednesday.
Canadiens corner market on pests, add Steve Ott
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