Oliver Ekman-Larsson


The Buzzer: Winnin’ MacKinnon; Laine the teen dream


Players of the Night

  • James Reimer collected a big win for the Florida Panthers, who bested the Boston Bruins 3-0 on Thursday. Shutting out the Bruins is a tough task in 2017-18, as this was their first goose egg since October. It wasn’t an off night either, as Reimer made 46 saves.
  • Anze Kopitar collected a goal and three assists in leading the Kings to a 4-1 win against the Red Wings. More on that match here.
  • Quite a few players enjoyed three-point outputs. Nathan MacKinnon probably steals the show thanks to context, though, as he extended a 10-game point streak by collecting two goals and one assist, pushing his season scoring total to a ridiculous 85 points in just 62 games.


Check out Oliver Bjorkstrand scoring from down on one knee:

Let’s not forget about MacKinnon’s linemates in Colorado. If it helps, watch Gabriel Landeskog send a tremendous pass to splendid sophomore Mikko Rantanen, who buried a high-skill backhand goal:

Evgeni Malkin scored his 40th goal of the season, gently reminding the hockey world that he can do amazing things during a relatively healthy campaign:

Want a lowlight and maybe some comic relief? Watch as poor ‘ol OEL (Oliver Ekman-Larsson) gets elbowed by an official calling him for a penalty. Sheesh.

Teen Spirit

Patrik Laine might occasionally sport the sort of facial hair that makes him look like he could have starred in a John Lithgow classic, the Winnipeg Jets winger is actually still a teenager. (Laine turns 20 on April 19.) Laine is also still scoring,

More fun facts

Patrick Marleau climbs the ranks.

Nashville Predators: still red-hot.


Maple Leafs 5, Sabres 2
Capitals 7, Islanders 3
Blue Jackets 5, Flyers 3
Penguins 5, Canadiens 3
Panthers 3, Bruins 0
Avalanche 4, Blues 1
Jets 6, Blackhawks 2
Predators 3, Coyotes 2
Kings 4, Red Wings 1

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.

LOL, OEL: Ref elbows Coyotes defenseman


The phrase “adding insult to injury” might not suffice in this case.

Consider this: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson already wasn’t happy with being whistled for matching penalties alongside Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith on Thursday. If that wasn’t enough, an official elbowed him in the nose on accident while making the motion to call him for a penalty.

If you needed a little comic relief tonight, the video above this post’s headline really should do the trick. Possibly even if you’re a woebegotten Coyotes fan.

At least one person (whoever runs Five for Howling’s Twitter feed tonight) deemed this the reverse Dennis Wideman treatment:

Hey, on the bright side, the Coyotes have been playing better lately, and OEL already has a goal tonight.

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Goalie interference to be discussed at GM meetings; How’s Ovechkin’s sheep?

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Check out the highlights from last night’s game between the Flyers and Penguins. (Top)

• Some good news here, as goalie interference will be brought up at this month’s GM meetings in Florida. The league has to get this figured out ASAP. (Toronto Star)

Marcus Johansson jumped on the ice for the first time since suffering a concussion in January. (NJ.com)

• Former Pens head coach Dan Bylsma doesn’t believe Sidney Crosby isn’t the most skilled player in the world, but also mentioned that there’s no player smarter than Sid. (ESPN)

• Since the start of last season, no player has found the back of the net more often than Jets forward Patrik Laine. What’s his secret? (Sporting News)

Mathew Barzal‘s path to the Calder Trophy got a lot easier now that Brock Boeser is out, but that doesn’t make the Islanders forward’s season any less historic or impressive. (Gotham SN)

• The sheep Alex Ovechkin got for his 30th birthday is alive and well. She even has a family now. (Washington Post)

• It’s time for NHL players to stop opening the door to the benches during the run of play. Obviously, that would have prevented Boeser from suffering a serious injury. (Hockey Wilderness)

• Like the New England Patriots, the Bruins have been forced to operate with a “next man up” mentality of late. Testing the depth of their squad probably isn’t a bad thing. (Bruins Daily)

• The Dallas Stars could benefit from being a Wild Card team instead of finishing in the top three in the Central Division. (Dallas Morning News)

• As you’d imagine, the Edmonton Oilers are much worse when Connor McDavid isn’t on the ice. They have to get better when their captain is on the bench. (Oilers Nation)

Mike Smith‘s unexpected appearance at Flames practice gave his teammates an emotional boost. (Calgary Herald)

• Most people think of Tom Wilson as nothing more than a goon, but he’s been a key piece for the Capitals this season. (Japers’ Rink)

• Agent Kevin Epp often feels like he holds the keys to the Coyotes’ kingdom because he represents Antti Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. (Arizona Sports 98.7 FM)

• How should fans of teams that won’t make the playoffs cope with the rest of the season? (Spector’s Hockey)

• Does Phil Kessel really love hot dogs? His sister, Amanda, sets the record straight:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.


Trades fantasy hockey owners should root for


Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Trades can really liven things up for a sport, so here’s hoping that the intriguing Michael Grabner to Devils move is the catalyst for a memorable stretch of swaps.

While there’s always the risk that a player will struggle to get acclimated to a new city and new teammates, trades can also provide a boost in fantasy hockey. As we wait for more deals to trickle in, it might be fun to picture changes of scenery. Here are some moves fantasy owners should root for.

[More on the Grabner trade.]

Elephants trotting around the room

Look, asking the Senators to trade Erik Karlsson is asking a lot.

It could be quite a late-season boon for owners who’ve been burned a bit by a season that’s not up to his honestly ridiculous standards. Complaining about a defenseman generating 42 points in 55 games is silly, but considering that Karlsson often goes in the first or second round, and fantasy sports are kind of silly by nature, well …

Anyway, a move to a contender could really help him. Maybe he’d enjoy short-term puck luck (his shooting percentage this season is 3.4 percent, half of his career average of 6.8). Considering his puck dispersal skills, setting up teammates who are likely more skilled and more motivated at this point in the season could really be electric.

Max Pacioretty also stands as interesting.

With a 7.7 shooting percentage, “Patches” is also lacking when it comes to lucky bounces. More than that, it has to be a drain on him to lose so often, particularly in a hockey-obsessed market like Montreal. Being “one of the guys” on a contender could really do him good.

Also, it’s been noted, yet it must be said: Pacioretty’s really never played with a great center. Imagine what he could accomplish with a legitimate No. 1? With his contract expiring after 2018-19, the motivation should be there, too.

Some others worth noting in this category:

  • Evander Kane has dealt with injuries and the frustrating knowledge that he’s never suited up in a playoff game in his career. With an expiring contract at age 26, you could argue that Kane has the most on the line of just about any of the most realistic trade targets in the NHL.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, yet with comparable sniping skills, you have Rick Nash. Much like Pacioretty, Nash is getting his goals now after a prolonged slump. While Kane has never tasted playoff play, Nash surely would like to show that he’s more “clutch” than his critics believe.
  • Mike Green got roasted a bit in this PHT roundtable, but that’s based on real-life play. From a fantasy perspective, Green could be fascinating. That said, he plays a huge role in Detroit, and might actually see a downgrade if traded. So maybe he’s a coin flip?
  • Ryan McDonagh and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are both defensemen who will likely be affected by what happens with Karlsson, as they do too see contracts expire after 2018-19. McDonagh seems more likely to move than OEL, yet both could really thrive on better/more driven teams down the stretch.

[Dion Phaneuf: better in fantasy than reality.]

Lightning round

OK, now onto a handful of names that might not come up much/at all, but would be a lot of fun.

  • Goalies with more fuel in the tank: Sorry, Antti Niemi, but there are better options out there for goalie rentals, even with Petr Mrazek off the market. The Coyotes might want to keep Antti Raanta around, but it would be intriguing to see what he could do for, say, the Hurricanes. Raanta’s save percentage is up to .922 this season. Since 2014-15, Raanta is tied with Carey Price and Corey Crawford for the NHL’s best save percentage at .923.

Raanta would be the gem in my eyes. Still, there are some other interesting considerations. Would the Sabres trade sneaky-good Robin Lehner? Could Jaroslav Halak help someone if the Islanders decided they’ve had enough?

  • I’ve stated that the Coyotes would likely lose if they traded Max Domi. Domi’s fantasy owners and new team could enjoy modest-to-significant gains, however.
  • This is more tangential: Jeff Carter might be nearing a return. With that in mind, the Kings might actually be a more beneficial landing pad for a player than maybe they’d seem. It sounds like they’re happy to get Tobias Rieder, though.
  • As always, root for the Oilers to trade skilled players (note: they’re saying they are leaning toward tweaks this time, for what it’s worth). You may very well see that player burn them for making such a move, possibly right away.

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.

Trading Max Domi likely wouldn’t pay off for Coyotes

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Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

It’s dangerous to speak in absolutes when it comes to trades in the NHL.

For example: while Dion Phaneuf‘s contract is onerous, that deal has been far from impossible to move. That monster’s been traded twice, and very well could be moved again before it runs out after 2020-21.

So, yes, there may be a scenario where trading Max Domi on or before Feb. 26 actually benefits the Arizona Coyotes enough to do it, but it would almost certainly be smarter to wait. You know, if he’s even worth trading at all.

(Note: The Coyotes shopping him – though not necessarily aggressively – has been reported by multiple outlets, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this past weekend.)

Let’s discuss why this is a terrible time to trade Domi.

Selling low

There’s no doubt that this has been a terrible season for Domi, and honestly, the past two seasons provide some reason for concern.

During a fabulous rookie season, Domi meshed well with Anthony Duclair, scoring 18 goals and 52 points in 81 games back in 2015-16. Since then, his shooting percentage has taken a terrifying nosedive:

2015-16: 18 goals on 156 shots on goal for an 11.5 shooting percentage.
2016-17: nine goals on 108 SOG in 59 games, 8.3 shooting percentage.
So far in 2017-18: four goals on 111 SOG in 57 games, 3.6 shooting percentage.

Recent history shows that teams may come to regret trading a promising young player on an unusual cold streak.

One prescient example is Jordan Eberle, and his struggles weren’t as extreme during his final season with the Edmonton Oilers. Eberle’s shooting percentage average overall with the Oilers was 13.4 percent, yet in 2016-17, it dipped to 9.6. The postseason was where things really plummeted: Eberle managed zero goals and two assists during that 13-game run, coming up empty on 22 SOG.

That’s a distressing run, especially for a $6 million player on a team that felt it was on the verge of contention like the Oilers.

Even if the Oilers wanted to trade Eberle in his normal form, they should have waited for a most likely return to his typical work. You don’t need to dig deep to see that Eberle has been fantastic for the Islanders, while Ryan Strome has been … well, Ryan Strome for the Oilers.

That’s the risk here with Domi. Maybe he’s a guy who will struggle to score at the NHL level, but do you really want to sell when his value couldn’t sink any lower? How much of a bummer would it be to see Arizona get a possibly squalid return after a middling Anthony Duclair trade? Getting very little for two promising forwards would be a real blow, especially since the Coyotes lack much in scoring punch beyond Clayton Keller and a few others beyond that.

Especially, you know, with Arizona’s own Strome (Dylan Strome) standing as something of a puzzle.

If that wasn’t enough …

There are some ancillary factors that make a panic trade even scarier.

At least in the case of the Oilers, Eberle was a pricey consideration for a team that would eventually need to make some cap decisions. The money concern actually could put a positive spin on Domi’s struggles.

Right now, Domi is a pending RFA whose rookie contract is about to expire. A budget team could really benefit from offering the 12th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft serious term in exchange for a deal with a low cap hit. In such a scenario, the Coyotes could conceivably either:

A) get a top-six forward at a bargain rate, with his numbers likely to rebound


B) retain a young player for a reasonable cap hit, so they can wait and trade him at a more optimal time even if they’re not sold on him.

There’s also the scenario in which the Coyotes hand Domi a shorter “bridge” contract, which would open the door for Domi to prove himself or at least drive his trade value back up.

Wasted development and time

Frankly, let’s also consider Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

If the Coyotes want to use the 2018-19 season to try to convince “OEL” to re-sign (seemingly a long shot now, but a year can make a big difference), then a resurgent Domi could help. Really, would Ekman-Larsson want to see Domi turn into not-yet-developed assets, which would be the most likely return?

Even beyond OEL, it’s clear from the Coyotes’ summer of moves that they’re growing tired of “rebuild mode.” Their aggressive moves didn’t work out, but how many times do you want to go back to the starting line?

A Domi extension, especially an affordable one, could be part of the solution in Arizona.


Again, there’s always a chance that a contending team believes in Domi enough to give up a robust offer.

It’s more realistic to imagine a team trying to take advantage of Domi’s cold streak, which would almost certainly make for a weak return. The Coyotes are justified in “selling” to some extent during the deadline, although they don’t exactly boast a lot of veterans to auction off. Even if they eventually decide to trade Domi, now is almost certainly not the best time to do so.

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.