PHT Morning Skate: Five serious Hart Trophy candidates

3 Comments

–On Friday, we told you about Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko taking a young fan on a road trip. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a day-by-day look at the entire trip.“If you make a kid smile that’s just a little part of what we could help with and make her a little more happy. It’s nice to have her here and then we need to win the next two games for her and make her even more happy.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

–Patrik Elias, who officially retired on Friday, spent two of his best years with Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora. The trio was the key part of a Stanley Cup run, but Elias told the New York Post that he wishes they stuck together longer than they actually did. “Obviously those were the best two years, but more than that, playing on that line with Petr and Arnie was the most fun of my career. Every time we went onto the ice, every game, every practice, we had so much fun together. But Lou made those decisions. I don’t really know why. I wish we had been together longer.” (New York Post)

–Brendan Shanahan spent nine years as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, and on Saturday, he got to skate on the Joe Louis Arena ice for the last time. “The thoughts and the emotions were sort of different. The thoughts were, ‘Boy, my legs hurt, and my lungs hurt.’ And the emotions were, it’s the end of a great run. Hockey players refer to arenas sometimes as barns affectionately, and this, to me, is a great old barn.” (NHL.com)

–The New York Rangers finally won a game at home (it only took them six weeks) and they eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers from post-season contention by beating them, 4-3. You can check out the highlights of the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Former NHL broadcaster Harry Neale is 80 years old and even though he’s retired, he still enjoys heading to the rink in Buffalo and sharing jokes and stories. “I’ve often thought how lucky I was that I never really thought I had a ‘job’ job once I got into hockey because of my passion for the game and enjoying the players. I still like going to the home games. I go up to Toronto occasionally and go to games.” (Buffalo News)

–Sportsnet’s Andrew Berkshire breaks down the top contenders for this year’s Hart Trophy. Using overall offensive production, offensive contributions relative to teammates and differentials relative to teammates, Berkshire believes Brad Marchand, Brent Burns, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Erik Karlsson are legit options to take home the MVP award. But in the end, he says McDavid is the clear winner. (Sportsnet)

–Cal Babych, the son of former NHLer Dave Babych, scored the game-winning goal in the longest game in CHL/WHL history. It only took five overtime periods! (The Score)

Video: Whoa, this is one sweet Mike Hoffman backhand goal

1 Comment

Monday’s game won’t help the Ottawa Senators defy critics about last season running on luck, at least in that it doesn’t count in the standings.

Senators sniper Mike Hoffman didn’t seem to care.

Hoffman owned last night’s pre-season NHL highlight reel (sorry Nico Hischier), scoring two very different goals.

The best one can be viewed in the video above this post’s headline, as he burst through the Maple Leafs defense for a ridiculous backhander on the rush. Wow.

His first of the night was memorable for a different reason, as Hoffman shook off a near-miss (eventually) to score this goal.

Weird/cool/good, indeed.

Prediction: Hoffman will score a lot of goals that will “count” in 2017-18, too.

Wild extend captain Mikko Koivu’s contract for two years, $11M

Getty
3 Comments

Minnesota Wild fans fearing that the 2017-18 season could be Mikko Koivu‘s last can breathe a sigh of relief, and that suspense didn’t even carry into opening night.

Instead, the Wild signed Koivu to a two-year contract extension worth $11 million.

That $5.5M cap hit kicks in during the 2018-19 campaign and ends after 2019-20. It represents a minor cut in pay for Koivu, as he’s entering the final year of a deal with a $6.75M cap hit.

Koivu, 34, enjoyed a strong first season under Bruce Boudreau, becoming a Selke finalist for the first time in his underrated career. He’s been Minnesota’s captain since 2008-09.

Koivu’s deal would qualify as a 35+ contract, according to Cap Friendly.

The Finnish forward likely valued stability, maybe taking a little less in AAV for the sake of peace of mind.

This continues a busy week-or-so for the Wild, who also broke their impasse with RFA Marcus Foligno by handing him a four-year, $11.5M deal.

Opinion: this Koivu deal is a much, much easier decision to justify, even taking into account his advanced age.

Predators captain announcement looming; they have some great options

Getty
1 Comment

Multiple reporters* indicate that the Nashville Predators will name their captain (and alternates) on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher briefly held the title, and before him, Shea Weber wore the “C.” Both were safe, obvious choices; this time around, there are some intriguing options. The Tennessean’s Adam Vignan reports that the Predators themselves realize that there are quite a few logical captains in their midst (which probably isn’t a bad problem to have).

“It’s totally different this time around,” Pekka Rinne said. “I think Mike last year, I think everybody saw that coming. Everybody agreed. Everybody was really comfortable with it. I think now we have, in my opinion, at least four great options to choose from.”

Note: the Predators would be wise not to pull a Canucks with Roberto Luongo as captain experiment, even if Rinne’s easily one of the team’s leaders.

Some of the most obvious options include young-yet-veteran defenseman Roman Josi, big-dollar-center Ryan Johansen, and star blueliner P.K. Subban.

(Honestly, though, it’s difficult to imagine Subban wearing the “C” after all the weird, Listerine-scented stuff with the media happened during the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.)

As strong as those options are, it sure feels like Josi is the favorite, especially since he’s been around longer than Subban, Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson.

Vegas oddmakers agree:

And so do reporters covering the team on a day-to-day basis:

One moment of devil’s advocacy, though: Subban, Johansen, Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, and Mattias Ekholm all have more term on their contracts than Josi, who is a bargain at $4M for three more seasons.

OK, that’s kind of a weak argument, but hey … sometimes it’s a pain to have to deal with captain questions so often, and you never know if the team might determine that Josi is expendable, considering their deep war chest on the blueline.

Nah, Josi’s probably the easy and correct choice. Right?

* – Including Cory Curtis of WKRN-TV and Justin Bradford of 102.5 The Game.

Duchene dusts off ‘one day at a time’ for Avalanche trade questions

Getty
6 Comments

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers posted an exclusive video interview with Matt Duchene, who was verbose …

… Compared to the terse statement he provided, without questions, last week regarding what must seem to him like ubiquitous Colorado Avalanche trade rumors.

Check out Duchene’s comments in the video below, which seem to mix saying a lot of the right things – and finding a new way to use the “one day at a time” cliche – with a little bit of edge that makes you wonder how well he’ll contain his frustration in other situations.

How often will he be available for such questioning on the road, particularly in big media markets and/or around reporters covering teams who’ve long been connected to Duchene?

Either way, Chambers’ video is another reminder that, for all the times people roll their eyes at canned responses during press conferences and locker-room interviews, reporters can get less-guarded moments where you can parse out greater truths.

(And, hey, it’s nice to give Duchene a chance to make faces that seem a little less … depressed?)

Chambers transcribes an especially intriguing part at the end of the interview (click here for more transcriptions from Chambers at the Denver Post, if video isn’t an option or your preference).

What if he’s not traded? “I’m not looking that far (ahead),” he said. “I’m taking one day at a time.”

Hmm, interesting, right?

/Refreshes the #FreeDuchene hashtag.