AP

Wild match franchise records with 48th win and 104th point

5 Comments

DENVER (AP) Devan Dubnyk‘s 40th win of the season was far from easy and came with an assist from a late replay review.

He certainly didn’t mind the result of the unusual ending.

Dubnyk stopped 30 shots and Minnesota caught a break when a goaltender interference call disallowed a goal, helping the Wild hold off the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Thursday night to tie franchise records for points and wins in a season.

“It was pretty crazy,” Dubnyk said. “I’m glad they got that call right even though the fans don’t agree. But it was the right call.”

Nate Prosser, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker added goals for the Wild, who have amassed 104 points and 48 wins in clinching the second spot in the Central Division. The last time they reached those plateaus was during the 2006-07 season.

“It tells you we’re doing something right this season and winning games,” Granlund said.

Tyson Jost scored his first NHL goal, while Matt Nieto and Francois Beauchemin also contributed goals during the home finale for the Avalanche.

Here’s how the divisive play unfolded: The Avalanche had a 6-on-4 with 1:39 remaining after Wild defenseman Christian Folin was called for cross-checking and goaltender Calvin Pickard was pulled for an extra skater. About 25 seconds later, Sven Andrighetto pushed the puck past a sprawled-out Dubnyk. But Minnesota challenged the play claiming goaltender interference and the tying goal was negated.

“Definitely goalie interference,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog didn’t agree. He said the official told him that Nathan MacKinnon pushed a defenseman into Dubnyk.

“Nate’s getting pushed around, just like Nate is supposedly pushing someone else,” Landeskog said. “I think it’s a good goal.”

Zucker scored 10 seconds into the contest to match the Wild record for fastest to start a game – a mark held by him. Zucker also accomplished the feat on Oct. 25, 2015, at Winnipeg. The forward was returning after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury.

“I don’t know if there’s a better way to start a game,” Zucker said.

Niederreiter knocked in a shot off a perfect pass from Eric Staal with 13:17 remaining. Granlund added a valuable insurance goal midway through the final period as Nieto lined a shot that hit off Prosser’s body and went into the net to make it 4-3 with 5:40 left.

It set up a wild finish.

Jost had a nifty goal by sending a wrist shot over Dubnyk. In the stands, Jost’s grandfather was caught wiping away tears.

“He doesn’t really like all the cameras and everybody catching him crying, but he cares a lot about his family and that’s just a testament to how much he cares,” said Jost, who was the 10th overall pick by Colorado in the 2016 draft.

There was a scary moment early in the game when linesman Ryan Galloway was helped off the ice after taking a puck to the face. Wild center Martin Hanzal was trying to flip the puck into the Avalanche zone when it struck Galloway, who left with a towel on his face and blood on the ice.

Dubnyk didn’t go into the season hoping for 40 wins. After all, that’s a big number for a goaltender to imagine.

“If you could tell me at the start of the year that I was going to finish the season with 40 wins, I would have probably said, `Yeah, sure,”‘ Dubnyk said.

In their final home game, the Avalanche recognized the fans by giving away jerseys, framed photos and even a pair of skis. Colorado has drawn well all season despite its dreary record.

“Maybe it’s not deserved, but we appreciate it all the same,” forward Matt Duchene said of the support.

 

Gryba sticks with Edmonton on two-year, $1.8 million deal

Getty
Leave a comment

After spending the last two seasons with the Oilers, Eric Gryba has signed on for two more.

Gryba, the veteran blueliner that was set to go unrestricted on Saturday, has signed a two-year, $1.8 million extension with Edmonton, per TSN. The deal comes after the 29-year-old appeared in 40 games for the Oilers last year, and three during the club’s playoff run.

Gryba is the second UFA blueliner Edmonton has re-upped with, having previously inked Kris Russell to a four-year, $16 million pact. It’s the byproduct of available cap space GM Peter Chiarelli created by shipping out Jordan Eberle to the Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome.

It’s likely Gryba will continue to play his existing role in Edmonton — a physical, hard-nosed depth defenseman that won’t play every night, but can jump into the lineup in case of injury or when the Oilers face a particular matchup.

This move also gives the Oilers seven defensemen under contract for next season: Gryba, Russell, Andrej Sekera (who could miss extensive time with a torn ACL), Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Matthew Benning and Darnell Nurse.

So, perhaps Chiarelli isn’t done signing blueliners.

 

 

Report: Kings in contact with Joe Thornton

Getty
7 Comments

Yesterday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported 12 teams were in contact with San Jose’s Joe Thorton who, on Saturday, will become an unrestricted free agent.

Now, it’s been revealed that one of those teams is also one of San Jose’s biggest rivals — the Los Angeles Kings.

Per LA Kings Insider, the Kings have “been in contact” with Thornton, who just wrapped the last of a three-year, $20.25 million deal with a $6.75M average annual cap hit.

More:

On top of Thornton’s abilities are his relationships with key figures in Los Angeles’ front office. He played with Kings General Manager Rob Blake in San Jose, while Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Development Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager when he played in Boston.

On top of these relationships, Thornton also remains very close with Glen Murray, a figure in Los Angeles’ player development, and I’m told the two, who played together with the Bruins for three and a half seasons, regularly communicate.

LeBrun reported that staying with the Sharks remains Thornton’s No. 1 option, but it’s pretty clear interest in him is sky-high — and coming from a number of different places.

Los Angeles has been making moves to clear cap space, recently buying out the remainder of defenseman Matt Greene’s contract. The Kings also lost blueliner Brayden McNabb to Vegas at the expansion draft.

What happens with Marian Gaborik‘s $4.875M cap hit remains to be seen. The veteran winger underwent an offseason procedure for a “chronic” knee issue and, depending on his recovery, could open the year on long-term injured reserve.

Thornton would give L.A. a formidable one-two punch at center along with Anze Kopitar (and a truly formidable 1-2-3 punch with Kopitar and Jeff Carter, for that matter). It’s also worth noting that as he’s gotten longer in the tooth, Thornton has successfully platooned as a winger — most notably during San Jose’s Stanley Cup run in 2016.

Report: Markov wants $12 million over two years from Montreal

3 Comments

At the draft, Montreal GM Marc Bergevin said his club had many roster holes.

Now he knows the cost of filling one.

Per TVA, veteran blueliner Andrei Markov is seeking a two-year, $12 million extension to stick with the club — one that would carry a $6M cap hit, up slightly from the $5.75M he was making on his previous deal.

Markov, an unrestricted free agent, is 38 but coming off a pretty productive year — he scored 36 points in just 62 games played, and averaged 21:50 TOI per night.

His ice time significantly jumped in the playoffs, up to 26:09 in Montreal’s opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

Bergevin has said he’d like to have Markov back, but noted the club has limits. The term of Markov’s reported ask isn’t too unwieldy — it’s a two-year commitment — but the cap hit could be an issue. Remember, Bergevin is also trying to re-sign last year’s second-leading scorer, Alex Radulov. Alex Galchenyuk needs a new deal as well.

(Unless he’s traded.)

On top of all this — oh yes, there’s more — is the looming contract extension for Carey Price. The star goalie is heading into the last year of his deal and eligible to sign an extension on July 1, which promises to be a monster contract. Price is currently the NHL’s fifth highest-paid netminder at $7 million per, but could join Sergei Bobrovsky and Henrik Lundqvist as the only goalies to earn more than $8M annually.

Which brings us back to Markov who, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, is representing himself in negotiations. One has to think that dollar figure will come down, especially if Montreal starts entertaining other options — like Karl Alzner, the former Caps d-man who says he’s interested in playing in Montreal.

Whatever the case, Bergevin is going to have to address this situation soon. There are plenty of moving parts, but rounding out the defense has to be near the top of his priority list. Right now Montreal has just five blueliners under contract: Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Brandon Davidson, Jordie Benn and David Schlemko.

Alzner wants long-term deal, says he’s interested in Habs

Getty
1 Comment

You can hardly blame Karl Alzner for wanting to cash in July 1.

Not that he’s hard up for money or anything, but the last contract Alzner signed in Washington was a club-friendly deal that paid him $11.2 million over four years. That’s a cap hit of just $2.8 million for a guy that plays top-four minutes against tough competition.

Now an unrestricted free agent, Alzner’s got the opportunity to make much more on the open market.

He wants some security, too.

“I will wait to see my options, but I am only 28 years old and I can tell you that I would like to get a long-term contract,” Alzner told Le Journal de Montréal (translated). “It is always attractive for a player to be able to settle in the same city for a long time. It would be my dream to sign a long-term agreement.”

Alzner added that the Canadiens are an intriguing team that he’d be willing to join. He also said that talks with the Capitals seem to have stalled.

Related: Alzner meets with Vegas, but will test free agency