With the approaching Saturday deadline (5 p.m. ET) for NHL teams to submit their protection lists ahead of the expansion draft, there was quite a debate in Vancouver this week about whether the Canucks should protect the 23-year-old Gaunce and expose the 28-year-old Sutter.
Sutter played in 81 games this season for the Canucks, scoring 17 goals and 34 points. He was highly coveted as a foundation piece by general manager Jim Benning, who acquired Sutter from Pittsburgh in a trade involving Nick Bonino. But he also has a rather pricey contract that still has four years remaining on it and an annual cap hit of $4.375 million.
In addition to Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson tied into no-movement clauses, it appears the Canucks will also be protecting Sutter. He’s never posted more than 40 points in a single season, but beyond an aging Henrik Sedin and 22-year-old Bo Horvat, the Canucks don’t have much going for them up the middle.
Meanwhile, Gaunce didn’t score a single goal this season, playing in 57 games. He did have five assists, playing mostly on the fourth line. He began to carve out a niche as a checking forward, but the Canucks could use more scoring production from the former first round pick and pending restricted free agent.
If Gaunce is exposed, a shoulder operation in April — and the reported four-to-six month recovery period — may make him a less desirable option for Vegas.
Of course, Benning isn’t tipping his hand.
“We have an idea of who we’re going to protect, but I’m not going to let anybody know what those players are because we’re still talking to different teams and we still might make a move,” Benning told Canadian Press. “Nothing’s set in stone until Saturday at 5 o’clock eastern when we have to submit the list.”
The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie
The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.
Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.
Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.
Highlight of the night:
Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.
–Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.
Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.
After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.
Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.
Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).
LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.
Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.
Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.
After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.
As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.
St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.
The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.
You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.