Joe Pavelski

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Paul Martin won’t be last problem contract Sharks will want to trade

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The Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka reports that Paul Martin wants a trade from the San Jose Sharks, seeking an opportunity to play after injuries and shaky work have mostly kept him out of the lineup.

Other outlets have backed up this report, and Martin admitted as much himself in a clip you might enjoy more for the beard-stroking as anything else.

If Martin’s contract was expiring in 2017-18, it would be easy to imagine teams taking a shot at him. Such a mountain becomes tougher to climb when you realize that his problematic $4.85 million cap hit won’t expire until after 2018-19, according to Cap Friendly.

There’s no denying that Martin has an impressive resume, yet that costly contract, his advanced age (will turn 37 in March), and lack of play this season really make it tough to imagine the Sharks getting anything other than an equally ugly – or uglier – contract in return for the very-much-grizzly veteran.

The best news is probably just that his contract expires after 2018-19, so even if this remains a headache they can’t cure with a trade-based painkiller, the discomfort should lift soon enough.

The more worrisome thought is this: it’s easy to picture more headlines about the Sharks wanting to trade bad contracts, particularly for aging defensemen who were once very good, in the not-too-far-flung future.

Brent Burns is already 32, and his eight-year, $64M contract just kicked in this season, so that $8M cap hit runs through 2024-25. Burns turns 33 in March.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is about to see his ridiculous bargain $4.25M cap hit expire after this season. The Sharks already made a-near-Burns-sized commitment to “Pickles,” handing him an eight-year, $56M extension ($7M cap hit) that expires in 2025-26. Vlasic will turn 31 in, you guessed it, March.

Burns’ yearly salary works out to make him a little bit easier to trade as his deal goes along, but the bottom line is that those contracts are still pretty scary.

The Sharks are making big bets on some aging core pieces remaining difference-makers for the long-term. Martin Jones turned 28 on Jan. 10 and will see his contract extension ($5.75M cap hit through 2023-24) kick in next season.

When you consider how sneaky-old Joe Pavelski is (33 already, only two years remaining on his deal) and Joe Thornton‘s shrinking window either as a difference-maker or as a difference-maker with the Sharks, you could practically hear the ominous music kick in.

Now, sure, some of this comes down to “the cost of doing business.”

That said, the Sharks likely weighed concerns about Martin’s age and dug themselves a hole with his contract, anyway. Such concerns may only become more abundant over the next few years.

For San Jose, the hope is that Father Time merely shows up late.

UPDATE: The Sharks placed Martin on waivers Monday afternoon.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Power Rankings: Bruins contenders again

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If you were starting to get worried that sports fans in Boston didn’t have enough good things to be happy about lately I am here to bring you some good news: Their hockey team is looking like a legitimate contender again. Especially now that they are healthy.

The Bruins enter play on Tuesday on a 15-3-2 run over their past 20 games, are one of the best possession teams in hockey, and have three of the best forwards in the league (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak) at the top of their lineup to drive the offense.

One of biggest developments though are the fact they have rebuilt their defense over the past couple of years with an infusion of young talent, including one of the league’s top rookies in Charlie McAvoy. He is not only playing more than 23 minutes per game, but is also playing them at an extremely high level. Once the strength of their roster, the Bruins defense took a significant hit in recent years due to age, the salary cap, and some trades that depleted their depth. With Torey Krug taking a big step forward and the development of McAvoy and Brandon Carlo that unit is once again a formidable one for a contender.

Then there is the resurgence of starting goaltender Tuukka Rask.

It’s not that Rask was necessarily bad the past two seasons, but he wasn’t really the same player we saw when he was helping lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and was one of the top goalies in the league. After posting some league average numbers the past two seasons Rask is back to performing like one of the top goalies in the league and has been nearly unbeatable during the Bruins’ recent hot streak.

Entering play on Tuesday he is 10-0-1 in his past 11 decisions, a stretch where he has allowed just 15 goals. He has allowed more than two goals just once during that stretch and more than one goal just four times.

The Bruins crack the top-five in our power rankings this week.

Let us check in and see where everyone else fits in.

The Best Of The Best

1. Tampa Bay Lightning — The Lightning are running away with the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They enter Tuesday with a seven-point lead over the Capitals and have still played two fewer games. What is not to love about this team right now? They deserve their own category at the moment.

The Elites

2. Vegas Golden Knights — At this point they are not just the best expansion team in NHL history, they are on their way to becoming the best expansion team in any of the four major sports. Another long winning streak, 9-0-1 in their past 10 games. Simply the best NHL story in decades.

3. Washington Capitals — Here come the Capitals. After winning just 10 of their first 20 games they have stormed back over the next 20 by going 14-4-2. They enter Tuesday a point ahead of the Devils in the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

4. New Jersey Devils — If it wasn’t for what Vegas is doing these guys would probably be the biggest surprise in the league this season. The biggest individual player surprise? Brian Gibbons is tied for the team lead in goals at the moment.

5. Boston Bruins — Starting to look like a contender for all of the reasons mentioned above.

6. Los Angeles Kings — Still having a great season but have cooled off a bit since we last checked in on the power rankings. The top of the roster is great, but still some questions about the bottom half.

The Strong Contenders

7. Nashville Predators — Their depth is going to be tested for a bit here without Filip Forsberg. He was on pace for another 30-goal season before he landed on injured reserve.

8. Winnipeg Jets — I feel like Patrik Laine isn’t getting enough attention this season. He is on pace for 37 goals and if he gets there would have two 35-goal seasons before his age 20 season in the NHL. That has only been done by four players in NHL history: Brian Bellows, Jimmy Carson, Sidney Crosby and Dale Hawerchuk.

9. St. Louis Blues — They have hit their first slump of the season, winning just three of their past 10 games.  Not time to panic yet. It happens over the course of an 82-game season.

The Rest Of The Best

10. New York Rangers — They don’t always look great, but they keep stacking up points. Their upcoming schedule though is absolutely brutal and is going to be a huge test.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs — We’re back the wild, high-scoring games that have to be driving Mike Babcock crazy. Their recent road trip was not particularly kind to them, but they get a lot of home cooking over the next few weeks.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets — They have given up at least four goals in six of their past 10 games, including five games where they have surrendered at least five. Not what we are used to seeing from this team the past couple of seasons.

The Middle Ground

13. San Jose Sharks — Joe Pavelski is on pace for what would be (on a per-game basis) the worst goal-scoring season of his career. Shot volume has taken a bit of a dip, but not as big as the drop in shooting percentage. Little bit of bad luck at play? If that corrects itself could be a huge development or the Sharks in the second half.

14. Carolina Hurricanes — They are right on the playoff bubble with what is, once again, one of the worst team save percentages in the NHL. How does this keep happening every single season no matter who the goalie is? They are so, so, so close. It is almost painful how close they are.

15. New York Islanders — Josh Bailey is on pace for more than 100 points. This probably is not getting the attention it deserves.

16. Dallas Stars — Very hot and cold team. Still should probably expect more given what the top of their roster looks like and how many big moves they make every summer.

17. Minnesota Wild — They are finally getting Zach Parise back. Getting him back healthy, as well as Nino Neiderreiter, could make this a interesting team. They have hung around despite those two major injuries.

18. Chicago Blackhawks — Corey Crawford‘s injury problems are starting to become a concern, especially as the team has only won two games this season with him out of the lineup.

19. Philadelphia Flyers — Very quietly Claude Giroux is on pace for what would be a career high in points. His career high was 93 points (in 77 games) in 2011-12. He is currently on track for 99 if he is able to play in all 82 games this season (and maintain this same pace).

Running Out Of Time To Make A Move

20. Florida Panthers — The Panthers have won five in a row and are trying to make a little bit of a move in the Eastern Conference. But is that winning streak a case of too little, too late? Even with it they are still five points out of a playoff spot with four teams ahead of them.

21. Anaheim Ducks — Getting their centers back healthy might make a pretty big difference. They have won four out of five and are, as of Tuesday, back into a playoff position.

22. Calgary Flames — Johnny Gaudreau is amazing but this really is not the way the Flames envisioned this season going, especially after their big offseason moves.

23. Colorado Avalanche — Exciting offense plus bad defense and goaltending can at least make for some fun hockey. If you’re going to miss the playoffs again you should at least be entertaining. Nathan MacKinnon alone has been worth the price of admission this season.

24. Pittsburgh Penguins — The “played a lot of hockey the past two years” excuse is starting to get old. It is simply a flawed team that has too many empty roster spots (like, for example, the entire fourth line and a big part of the third line) at the moment. Out of their 13 games in December they only won two of them in regulation.

25. Edmonton Oilers — They showed some signs of life with a four-game winning streak in mid-December but then followed it up with a three-game losing streak. That gap between them and a playoff spot really is not getting any smaller.

Not Too Early To Start Looking To Next Season

26. Detroit Red Wings — At this point it’s just a matter of watching to see when — or if — they start making trades. Mike Green would probably be an attractive player. Could they find a taker for Jimmy Howard?

27. Montreal Canadiens — Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value. Don’t trade Max Pacioretty at his lowest value.

28. Vancouver Canucks — It was fun for a little bit in Vancouver this season, but it is just not their time yet.

29. Buffalo Sabres — Hey, at least the Bills are going to the playoffs!

30. Ottawa Senators —  Since starting the season 8-3-5 the Senators have gone 4-14-3 and completely fallen apart. Things are looking grim.

31. Arizona Coyotes — Tough situation. Extremely young team that has some talent that you should be excited about but is just overmatched on most nights.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The best hockey goals of 2017 (PHT Year in Review)

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(Pro Hockey Talk is taking a look back at the year in hockey. We’ll be presenting you with the best goals, saves, moments, players and much more as we bring you the best of 2017.)

One of the great things about Twitter is just how fast a goal can be scored and the highlight be blasted across the interwebs for all to see, no matter what part of the globe the game took place. This list of the best goals of 2017 isn’t limited to NHL highlights. We’ve scoured the Internet for the best moves and efforts that resulted in goals and broken them down in different categories.

You’ll see great individual efforts, creative attempts and even a slew of goalie goals.

We hope you enjoy.

THE SOLO EFFORTS

Andreas Athanasiou vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Jan. 14

AA has wheels. AA has hands. He combined those two skills to embarrass the Penguins.

Laura Horwood vs. Union, Jan. 21

If you’re going to stop Horwood from taking a scoring chance, you apparently need to do a little more than hand out a few chops and trip her up.

Auston Matthews vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Feb. 19

The 2017 Calder Trophy winner routinely made goaltenders look silly, as Cam Ward discovered. This effort, a twisty backhander that went five-hole was all sorts of ridiculous.

Sidney Crosby vs. Buffalo Sabres, March 21

The 2016-17 Sabres were bad, bad, bad, so it’s no surprised that to defend Crosby, they parted the seas and allowed the Penguins captain to one-hand a shot by Robin Lehner.

Alex Radulov vs. New York Rangers, April 16

Radulov was electric in his NHL return with the Montreal Canadiens last season. That was on full display during the first-round of the playoffs when he undressed Henrik Lundqvist with this one-handed beauty.

Mike Hoffman vs. Bruins, April 17

This is a complete package of a goal. Not only do we get a marvelous Hail Mary pass from Erik Karlsson that lands on Hoffman’s tape, we then get a Nilsson/Forsberg move to top it all off.

David Farrance vs. Finland, Aug. 4

Coast-to-coast goals are a thing for Farrance. He showed that once again with the U.S. National Team Development Program during August’s World Junior Summer Showcase.

David Pastrnak vs. Vancouver Canucks, Oct. 19

The Canucks were just like us on this goal, admiring a wonderful end-to-end rush by the Bruins star.

Jack Hughes vs. Green Bay Gamblers, Oct. 23

We’ll be hearing a lot about Hughes in the next few years as he prepares for the 2019 NHL Draft with the USNTDP. Here he is giving us a taste of what’s to come.

Adam Henrique vs. New Jersey Devils, Dec. 18

“It’s good to be back in New Jersey. Now here’s a highlight-reel goal.” – Henrique, probably.

It’s not just the big kids who can score pretty goals:

THE DIPSEY-DO’ERS

Pontus Aberg vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, May 31

Poor Olli Maatta, getting posterized on a national stage like the Stanley Cup Final.

Viktor Arvidsson vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Nov. 27

The Nashville Predators forward pulled this same move off against the St. Louis Blues a year ago. That scouting report appeared to get lost.

Dmitry Orlov vs. Dallas Stars, Dec. 19

Orlov is still playing for the Capitals, which means no one reported him to the authorities after he pulled this move on John Klingberg.

THE BASEBALL BATTERS

Jared Spurgeon vs. New Jersey Devils, Jan. 17

It’s not so much the Minnesota Wild defenseman batting away here, it’s the wherewithal to catch and release in such a small amount of time that puts this one on another level.

Patric Hornqvist vs. Florida Panthers, March 19

This might be the closest thing we get to an alley-oop in hockey. Great timing and connection here between Hornqvist and Phil Kessel.

THE CHEEKY BETWEEN-THE-LEGS SCORERS

Chad Kolarik vs. Dusseldorf, Sept. 17

These types of goals are never not be enjoyable every single time you watch. Just the sheer confidence alone to decide to pull this move off during a game — a close one in this instance — is enough to warrant praise.

Robert Farmer vs. Sheffield Steelers, Oct. 14

Silky. Smooth. Call it whatever you want. Farmer pulls this is off in a very calm manner like he’d done it before.

Josh Bailey vs. San Jose Sharks, Oct. 21

Bailey does it all here. He intercepts the pass, makes Joe Pavelski look silly and then gets tricky inside Aaron Dell‘s crease.

Boris Sadecky vs. Lokomotiv, Oct. 25

Sadecky was feeling it this night in October. He not only embarrasses a defenseman on his way to the net, he then was feeling supremely confident that he felt that going backhand or forehand wasn’t the way to go.

Kenny Agostino vs. Utica Comets, Dec. 10

In what turned out to be the 2,000th win in franchise history, Agostino needed only 26 seconds of overtime to deliver this absolute beauty.

THE BILL ARMSTRONG/MIKE LEGG TRIBUTES

Kalle Kossila vs San Jose Barracuda, Jan. 20

You have to admire the patience of the San Diego Gulls forward here. It’s clear he badly wants to attempt the lacrosse-style shot and he’s just waiting out the defenseman to give him the space needed to do it. Success.

Matthew Strome vs. Ottawa 67’s, Nov. 25

Just like The Spanish Inquisition, no goalie ever expects the scoop shot.

THE GOALIE GOALS

Étienne Montpetit vs. Quebec Remparts, Jan. 7

Montpetit put a different spin on things by taking advantage of the Remparts emptying their net trying for a goal while on a power play. A shorthanded goalie goal.

Mike Smith, All-Star Skills Competition, Jan. 28

If Smith had accomplished this feat during an intermission, he probably would have won himself a brand new car or some cash.

Dylan Wells vs. Kingston Frontenacs, April 13

Really one of the best parts of a goalie goal is when they take part in the bench fly-by. It’s always well-deserved.

Mikhail Berdin vs. Muskegon Lumberjcks, Nov. 20

Not only did Sioux Falls Stampede fans get to enjoy a win during Teddy Bear Toss Night, they also got to see Berdin strut his stuff in celebration after he scored the first goal of his career.

Previously:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Sharks coach livid over Capitals’ ‘premeditated’ revenge on Thornton

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Late in the second period of the Washington Capitals’ eventual 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks from Monday, Joe Thornton delivered a questionable hit on T.J. Oshie, which ended the slick forward’s night with an upper-body injury.

The retaliation came early in the third, as Tom Wilson exacted revenge against Thornton by dropping him with a hard punch in a quick-but-violent fight. It was quite a spectacle between two teams you wouldn’t expect to build bad blood.

(You can see video of the fight above this post’s headline, while the hit is below. This post initially covered this situation.)

As it turns out, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer’s reaction to this carnage was arguably even more entertaining than the violence itself.

For one thing, cameras caught DeBoer jawing with Capitals assistant Lane Lambert following the Wilson – Thornton skirmish:

DeBoer didn’t clam up about it after the game, unloading on the Capitals for such a “premeditated” response. He used dirtier words to the media and unquestionably in arguing with Lambert.

“Well like I said, if someone would have grabbed Joe in the heat of the moment after the play because they thought a liberty was taken, then I’ve got no problem with that,” DeBoer said, via Kevin Kurz of The Athletic. “To go into the dressing room, think about it, come in the first shift, and do that premeditated crap is just garbage.”

Wow, that’s spicy. To DeBoer’s credit, he didn’t meltdown at a John Tortorella level, so we didn’t get to see a weird-awkward-awesome locker room argument.

Now, from the Capitals’ perspective, it’s not as though there was *that* much time between the hit and the fight.

Again, the check came late in the second, while Wilson dropped the gloves early in the third. Yes, there was the intermission, which could have served as an opportunity to diffuse the situation … but it’s not necessarily a given that anyone in the Caps room said “go after Jumbo Joe.” Wilson easily could have decided to stand up for his teammate on his own.

Speaking of moments from that game, the AP’s Stephen Whyno wonders if supplemental discipline is coming for Brenden Dillon:

If you want more drama, the good news is that the Capitals and Sharks meet one more time during the regular season. They’ll need to have long memories, though, as that second date doesn’t come until March 10.

Both teams seem like they’ll be battling for positioning – or perhaps their playoff lives – so the shenanigans could be limited anyway. Still, that game gets a little more sizzle to go with the Alex OvechkinNicklas Backstrom – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski steak, if nothing else.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Grabner’s hat trick helps Rangers rout ‘Canes; Pavelski hits milestone

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Player Of The Night. Michael Grabner, New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers had a miserable start to the season with losses seven of their first eight games.

Since then? They have been on a roll and after their 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night they are now 13-5-0 in their past 18 games and have won 11 out of 14.

Friday’s game was probably not as lopsided as the 5-1 final score would indicate (it was 2-1 until there were three minutes remaining in regulation) but Michael Grabner helped turn it into a blowout with a pair of empty net goals. Those two empty net goals, along with the goal he scored in the second period (officially the game-winner), gave him his fifth career hat trick.

Grabner was a surprise star for the Rangers a year ago by scoring 27 goals and he is off to an even better start this season with 13 goals in his first 26 games.

He has been an outstanding find for the Rangers.

Highlight Of The Night.

There are few players in the NHL that can rip it the way Patrik Laine can. He demonstrated that on Friday night with this power play goal in the Winnipeg Jets’ win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Save Of The Night.

There was not much goaltending or defense in the Ottawa Senators’ 6-5 win over the New York Islanders, but Mike Condon needed to make one huge save on Jordan Eberle just before the buzzer to help preserve the win for the Senators to finally snap their seven-game losing streak.

Factoid Of The Night.

Joe Pavelski has been one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL for a few years now. On Friday night he hit a personal milestone by scoring his 300th career goal, making him one of just three active American-born players to reach that mark. Phil Kessel and Zach Parise being the other two.

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Buffalo Sabres 0

Ottawa Senators 6, New York Islanders 5

New York Rangers 5, Carolina Hurricanes 1

Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Anaheim Ducks 2

San Jose Sharks 2, Florida Panthers 1

Los Angeles Kings 4, St. Louis Blues 1

Winnipeg Jets 7, Vegas Golden Knights 4

New Jersey Devils 2, Colorado Avalanche 1

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.