Jonathan Huberdeau

Panthers to talk extension with Jagr’s agent this week

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Dale Tallon is a busy man.

In the midst of interviewing up to a dozen candidates for the club’s vacant head coaching gig, the Panthers GM will meet with Jaromir Jagr‘s agent this week to discuss a contract extension.

Per the Sun-Sentinel, Tallon is set to hold discussions with Jagr’s rep, Petr Svoboda, at the upcoming World Hockey Championship.

Though no contract details were made available, it’s fair to presume another one-year deal could be in the works. Jagr has played exclusively on those type of pacts since returning to the NHL in 2011. Last year, he carried a $4 million cap hit (his salary exceeded $5M thanks to performance bonuses).

Jagr’s production was down a touch this year, with just 16 goals and 46 points (compared to the 27 goals and 66 points he scored the season prior). But in many ways, it was an impressive campaign.

At 45, he was one of just five Panthers to appear in all 82 games, and was without usual running mates Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov for long stretches. He did this while averaging 16 minutes per night and, per the Sun-Sentinel, still finished as one of Florida’s top drivers in terms of possession and shot attempts.

The Panthers aren’t expected to sign Jagr until after June’s expansion draft has come and gone.

 

Report: Tom Rowe won’t be coaching the Panthers next season

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Tom Rowe’s tenure as head coach of the Panthers probably won’t be that memorable, and on Tuesday morning, we found out it won’t be very long either.

According to Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel, Rowe won’t be back behind the bench with the Panthers next season, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be leaving the organization completely. Fialkov adds that the Panthers still see Rowe as a “valuable” part of the team, so even though he won’t coach, he should be involved in some way.

Rowe was always going to face an uphill climb as interim head coach after the fiasco that was the Gerard Gallant firing. Everyone seemed to have a ton of respect for Gallant, and having pictures of him putting his belongings into a cab for all to see wasn’t a good look for the organization.

Monday was a particularly tough day for Rowe. Not only did one fan fly a plane over the BB&T Arena with a banner that said “ROWE MUST GO! CALL HIM A CAB” but fans also chanted “Rowe must go” during the game against the Canadiens.

“Fans pay good money to come watch us play. When they’re not happy, you know what, I’m a big boy with thick skin,” Rowe said after Monday’s 4-1 loss to Montreal, per the Sun-Sentinel.

“We’ve got a great franchise, we got great players. I want to tell the fans it’s been a disappointing year but we’ll definitely be back next year and we’ll be in the playoffs.”

The Panthers played a good chunk of the season with Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and even Aaron Ekblad has missed some time of late. Overcoming those kind of injuries is never easy, but the team having a 22-26-10 record under Rowe is tough to swallow.

Survival of the lucky? Stanley Cup playoff hopes can rise and fall with significant injuries

AP
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There’s plenty of knocking on wood this time of year around the NHL as teams hope to avoid injuries that could damage their playoff hopes.

For some, it’s already too late.

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Steven Stamkos for four months — and counting — and now Tyler Johnson. The Florida Panthers went without Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov for much of the year. The Los Angeles Kings tried to stay afloat without goaltender Jonathan Quick until late February but will likely miss the playoffs.

While the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have withstood a barrage of injuries and the league-leading Washington Capitals have largely avoided them, they’re keenly aware of how quickly even one injury can make a difference.

“There’s other teams that are good teams that have just had some bad luck,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. “Tampa Bay just couldn’t overcome the injuries. If Tampa Bay has Stamkos all the way through the season, they’d certainly be in a different place.”

Read more: Injuries keep adding up for Lightning

Considered Cup contenders at the start of the season, the Lightning had to make a run just to get within three points of a playoff spot with nine games remaining.

The Panthers got Barkov and Huberdeau back and dug out of an early hole, but a lower-body injury to goaltender Roberto Luongo contributed to a 3-7-1 tailspin that might ultimately cost them the chance to make the postseason for a second consecutive year.

“Sometimes just your body breaks up because of the games and stuff like that,” said Barkov, who missed 15 games with a back injury. “Some teams just get more injuries, and some teams just get lucky not to get injuries.”

Injuries have again been the story of the year for the Penguins, who are currently without half their regular defense in Kris Letang, Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta, and also lost trade acquisition Ron Hainsey. But they haven’t missed a beat.

“The guys that have come in just understanding whatever role that they get, they have to be accepting of it,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “They have a lot of responsibility in most cases, too, because they’re filling in for some guys who play a lot of key minutes.”

Injuries were a severe blow to the Dallas Stars, with 292 man games lost, and 265 man games lost has put the Detroit Red Wings’ 25-season playoff streak in serious jeopardy. The Edmonton Oilers have around 300 man games lost, but unlike last year’s stumble when Connor McDavid broke his collarbone they are poised to end a 10-year playoff drought.

“This organization seems to have a way of getting beat up and having injuries and needing others to support the group, and this year I think we’ve done a better job,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We haven’t lost those key forwards, knock on wood, like we did last year.”

Tampa Bay did when Stamkos tore the meniscus in his right knee Nov. 15 after putting up 20 points in his first 17 games. Friday night marked his 57th consecutive game out of the lineup.

Yet in Washington, the Capitals have a grand total of 42 man games lost all season and have only dealt with a hand injury that sidelined forward Andre Burakovsky 15 games and upper-body ailments that cost T.J. Oshie 13. Defenseman Brooks Orpik believes the Capitals’ fortunes are a combination of off-ice injury prevention techniques and luck, while the team’s brass thinks it’s also about taxing players less each game.

“The team philosophy of going four lines and spreading the ice time out and spreading the ice time out on defense and spreading the ice time out among your goalies, I think it puts less stress on your lineup,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “Having a deep team, I think, results in less injuries.”

Depth up front helped the Chicago Blackhawks withstand captain Jonathan Toews‘ nine-game absence with back problems, and having backup Antti Raanta kept the New York Rangers on track when goaltender Henrik Lundqvist went out for two weeks this month with a lower-body injury. Lundqvist is expected back this weekend.

The Columbus Blue Jackets feel fortunate not to need to test their depth again this season after injuries ravaged them to the count of 510 man games lost two years ago. They’ve overcome defenseman Seth Jones‘ broken foot and Ryan Murray‘s broken hand to make the playoffs for the third time in franchise history, so it doesn’t feel at all like 2014-15 in Columbus.

“It’s just too good of a league to be able to survive that type of season,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “This year we’ve been lucky and hopefully done some things right as well where we haven’t been injured as much and knock on wood hopefully stay healthy for the rest of the year.”

Panthers acquire Vanek for McIlrath, pick

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Florida has added the goalscoring winger it wanted for a playoff push.

Thomas Vanek, who leads the Red Wings with 15 goals this season, has been acquired in exchange for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a third-round pick, per TSN.

Vanek, 33, is on a one-year, $2.6 million deal. Detroit’s retaining 50 percent of his salary in this trade, so it’s an affordable pickup for the Panthers.

The Austrian winger should fit nicely into an offensively gifted group that includes Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jaromir Jagr, Vincent Trocheck, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen. Vanek should also help out on the power play, where he has five markers this season.

“Thomas is a proven scorer in this league who will add some offensive savvy and experience to our young group of forwards,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said in a release. “We believe strongly in our group and we’re confident that he will help our power play and supplement our core effectively.”

As for the other side of things…

The Red Wings, who will see their 25-year playoff streak snapped, began selling off assets yesterday by flipping Brendan Smith to the Rangers, and Steve Ott to the Habs.

Early analysis has panned GM Ken Holland for his sub-par return for Vanek who — while somewhat flawed — has enjoyed a bounce-back season in Detroit, and has a history for finding the back of the net.

After perfect road trip, Panthers drop third straight at home

AP

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) There’s a reason Craig Anderson is often at his best when he faces his former team.

Kyle Turris scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and Anderson stopped 37 shots to lift the Ottawa Senators over the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday night.

Anderson played for the Panthers from 2006-09 and is 14-7-2 against them.

“This has always been kind of home for me. It’s a little more emotional for me when I play here,” he said. “You seem to get up for those types of games when you have friends and family in the stands.”

Anderson was coming off a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

“You just have to get back on that horse and start riding it again,” he said. “If you have a bad memory I think it works to your benefit.”

Zack Smith scored an early short-handed goal for the Senators, who have won four of six. Erik Karlsson had two assists.

Anderson was out from Dec. 7 until Feb. 11, a span of 26 games.

“Andy is an outstanding No. 1 goalie,” Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. “We missed him for a long time. You saw what a difference his experience made tonight.”

Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida, and James Reimer made 31 saves. The Panthers have lost three straight after sweeping a five-game road trip, and dropped their last four home games overall.

The Panthers, fifth in the Atlantic Division, trail the second-place Senators by six points and missed a chance to gain ground.

“This was a four-point game right here,” Marchessault said.

Turris put Ottawa ahead when his wrist shot went over Reimer’s glove at 9:58 of the second for his 21st goal of the season.

“We’re right in the race with Ottawa right now,” Florida center Aleksander Barkov said. “We need to win these close games. We played well but that’s not enough.”

The Senators took a 1-0 lead on the short-handed goal by Smith. Reimer blocked a shot from Karlsson, but Smith grabbed the rebound and poked in the puck at 6:28 of the first. Smith has 12 career short-handed goals.

“It was just a great play off the pass. It was right on my stick,” Smith said. “It was nice to get one short-handed and get a little momentum.”

Marchessault tied it on his power-play goal with 2:47 left in the first. He took a feed from Jonathan Huberdeau in the left circle and put the puck high into the net.