Leo Komarov

Report: No fine or suspension for hit that injured Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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It looks like nothing but an injury will come from the hit that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov delivered on Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere during Saturday’s 4-2 Philly win.

There was no penalty on the play during the contest itself, and David Isaac of the Courier Post reports that the hit will not result in a fine or a suspension.

(Watch the check in question in the video above this post’s headline.)

The Flyers haven’t provided an additional update on Sunday after announcing that he wouldn’t return to last night’s game because of an upper-body injury. Gostisbehere joins Nolan Patrick as Flyers with upper-body issues, while fellow defenseman Andrew MacDonald is sidelined as well.

Such injury issues could open the door for Samuel Morin.

This is that much more unfortunate because things looked to be up in a big way for “Ghost Bear” (or is it “Ghostbear?”). His possession stats have been positive, and he’s already scored a whopping 13 points in just 11 regular-season games.

Gostisbehere has been an integral part of the Flyers’ well-oiled machine of a power play, collecting eight of his 13 points on the man advantage. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol wasn’t happy with the hit, as Isaac reported last night:

“It’s a tough hit. It’s one that’s got to be looked at,” Hakstol said. “It’s a hit in the numbers and it’s a tough hit for our player.”

Plenty of others believed that it should have at least drawn a penalty.

While Komarov explained to TSN’s Mark Masters that it was a “normal situation” as far as the question of “seeing the numbers” on Ghost goes, he did concede that a penalty might have been appropriate.

Back in Feb. 2016, Komarov received a three-game suspension for elbowing Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. He’s been on the other side of a questionable hit, too, missing multiple games in 2014 with a concussion.

This situation will not factor into his suspension history, whether Flyers fans believe that it should or not.

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.

Gostisbehere suffers upper-body injury versus Maple Leafs

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The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, doing so without defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere for the entire third period.

The Flyers announced at the beginning of the final period that Gostisbehere would not return because of an upper-body injury, forcing an already young Philadelphia blue line down to five skaters for the duration. Still, they were able to hold off the Maple Leafs for a 4-2 victory, with 20-year-old Ivan Provorov leading the defensive group in ice time with 27:11 and Brian Elliott making 28 saves.

The injury to Gostisbehere occurred on a hard hit into the boards from Leo Komarov. There was no call on the play.

The Flyers already entered this game without Andrew MacDonald, who is expected to be out for at least four weeks after he was hurt blocking a shot versus Edmonton a week ago.

Philadelphia fell behind midway through the first period, but regrouped to score three straight goals to take the lead. The second goal was not without controversy, though, as the Maple Leafs appeared upset that there wasn’t an interference call against the Flyers in the neutral zone as the puck transitioned onto the stick of Jakub Voracek seconds before he scored on a slick move to the forehand.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

Welcome James van Riemsdyk to the trade rumor mill

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The Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the playoffs last season, which has increased expectations around this young core group heading into the 2017-18 campaign.

That said, they could have interesting decisions ahead of them when it comes to some of their veteran forwards on expiring contracts. James van Riemsdyk would sit atop that list.

The contributions of Toronto’s youthful players — Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner headline that list — was a major storyline all throughout last season, as the Maple Leafs qualified for the playoffs.

It isn’t forgotten, however, that the 28-year-old van Riemsdyk scored 29 goals and a career-best 62 points last season. Though Darren Dreger of TSN pointed out that he feels van Riemsdyk can still be better, especially when it comes to consistently using his speed and size to drive the net.

Van Riemsdyk now enters the final year of a six-year, $25.5 million contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Per CapFriendly, that contract includes a modified no-trade clause.

From Darren Dreger of TSN:

“I’m not predicting that JVR is the likely candidate to get traded, when you look at the potential three unrestricted free agents in (Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak) and JVR, but I think that there would be teams out there that would pay more for JVR based on exactly what we just said.

“Every coach is arrogant enough to think, and general managers fit into this as well — how many times have you seen the reclamation projects? Where a team will sign a player as a free agent and you’ll go, ‘Really? Like honestly? What do they see that we’re not seeing?’ Well, it’s exactly that. It’s the coach who thinks he can finally be the missing link to pull out something out of that player. There’s not a lot to have to do with JVR, but if you can push him up to that next level … man, you’ve got a horse. Because of that, maybe he is the obvious trade target as the season unwinds because people pay a premium for him.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time van Riemsdyk has been mentioned as a possible trade target. Even last season, there were rumors that he ultimately had to address.

He was doing the same thing before training camp earlier this month, too.

“That’s stuff you can’t worry about as a player,” van Riemsdyk told the Toronto Star. “It’s out of your control. I just want to go out there, play, and be a productive member of the team, and hopefully the rest of it figures itself out.”

‘That group can be way better’: Babcock calls out Kadri, Marleau, Komarov line

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Expectations weren’t very high for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, but they surprised many by not only making the playoffs but also pushing the Capitals in the opening round of the postseason.

This year, the Leafs won’t catch many teams off guard, so they need to make sure they’re playing good hockey if they want to make it back to the playoffs.

This week, they collected a pair of wins over their bitter rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, but head coach Mike Babcock isn’t thrilled with the way all his forwards have been playing.

He’s had an issue with the way the line of Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau, and Leo Komarov have been playing lately.

“I thought early (in camp) they were going good,” said Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “But that line’s got to be better. That group can be way better, way quicker, a lot more diligent. They’ve got to upgrade. We need Kadri to be real good for us to be effective. That group has got to find some chemistry and get going.”

Having Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner doesn’t hurt, but Kadri, Marleau and Komarov will need to be key contributors if they want to take the next step.

Kadri had an incredible season in 2016-17, as he scored a career-high 32 goals and 61 points in 82 contests. Komarov, like Kadri, has the ability to chip in offensively while playing with a physical edge. Both players can get under the opposition’s skin, too.

Marleau was signed early on in free agency, as he surprised many by leaving the San Jose Sharks. The veteran can skate and chip in offensively (he had 27 goals with the Sharks last season), and he’ll also be expected to be one of the key leaders on the team.

The Maple Leafs have two games left in their preseason. They’ll finish things off with a home-and-home series against the Red Wings tonight and tomorrow.

Penguins GM confident they can find third-line center with Bonino gone

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August is nearing, and the Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t made a trade or signing to replace Nick Bonino, their outstanding (but former) third-line center.

On the bright side, the Penguins have remarkable breathing room considering their status as repeat Stanley Cup champions. Cap Friendly places their 2017-18 room at about $10.38 million.

That robust space likely explains why GM Jim Rutherford seemed fairly calm about the whole situation, as Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

“I do feel confident that, by the start of the season, we’re going to have a third-line center that we’re comfortable with,” Rutherford said. “Whether it’s one of those guys on the list or one of the guys that I could go and get right today.”

Rutherford (jokingly?) said that he had a list of “hundreds of names” as options, although it’s difficult to top Mackey’s suggestion of Phil Kessel‘s buddy, Tyler Bozak. After all, Bozak is a competent player who carries a $4.2 million cap hit that Pittsburgh could comfortably absorb (and the Toronto Maple Leafs might need to shed). It doesn’t hurt that Bozak’s contract expires after 2017-18, so the Penguins wouldn’t be on the hook if things don’t work out.

Of course, Matt Duchene is another name worth considering. It almost feels a little strange to ponder that speedy Avalanche forward being a “third-line center,” especially if Pittsburgh would want to get the most out of him.

MORE: Duchene might begin next season with the Colorado Avalanche

After that, though … the pickings could be much slimmer than Rutherford indicated to Mackey.

Shallow pool

Take a look at this current list of forwards who are unrestricted free agents.

There are some potential bargains here (P.A. Parenteau, Jiri Hudler, anyone?), but the situation gets significantly shakier if you’re picky enough to look only at centers. The likes of Daniel Winnik and Ryan White are reasonable roster additions, but the drop-off from Bonino could be pretty drastic.

What about other trade possibilities?

That’s a shaky group, too, especially if you apply Bozak-like terms as far as guys who only have one year left on their current contracts.

Honestly, the Penguins’ best bet in looking at that list would probably come down to an in-season move with a team that realizes it’s not a contender or simply understands that a player won’t be back.

Maybe the Calgary Flames would want to cut bait on Matt Stajan or (less realistically) Mikael Backlund? Would the Ducks move speedy, versatile sometimes-center Andrew Cogliano? There are other remote possibilities, such as the Leafs instead trading Leo Komarov (or especially unlikely moves in Paul Stastny or Tomas Plekanec).

Even if the above list seems enticing, how many of those teams would really want to move those players now, especially the bigger difference-makers?

If you’re the Penguins, you’re probably hoping that a Bozak deal could take place. And maybe you’re sweating this situation more than you let on.

(Note: There’s also the slight possibility that the Penguins might identify a replacement from within, though a contending team like Pittsburgh might not be so comfortable with that approach.)