Scott Hartnell

Artemi Panarin / Twitter

PHT Morning Skate: Luongo on Parkland; Tocchet takes a leave of absence


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

• What do we think of Artemi Panarin‘s new hat? [Twitter]

Alex Ovechkin‘s parents pen him a letter after the Washington Capitals superstar notched career goal No. 600. []

Evgeny Kuznetsov adequately sums up Ovechkin’s feat: “Holy f— that’s a lot of goals.” [RMNB]

• Florida Panthers goalie and Parkland resident Roberto Luongo: “We need to keep talking about this” [ESPN]

• Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet is taking a leave of absence due to an illness in his family. Assistant coach John MacLean will take over coaching duties until Tocchet returns. [Coyotes]

Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators on the trade that nearly sent him and Erik Karlsson out of town: “I heard on Sunday it was done and somebody backed out at the last second. Karl and I were like, ‘pack it up’. We thought we were gone. That’s just the way it goes. Then you’re like, I’ve got to move again? I guess I’ll just wait and see how it goes in the summer. That’s all you can do.” [Ottawa Sun]

• What do you do when you’re a team with one “Hartsy” and you add another? Ask the Nashville Predators and Ryan Hartman and Scott Hartnell. [Tennessean]

• Speaking of the Preds, who’s going to stop them? [TSN]

• Is it time to worry about Andre Vasilevskiy’s workload with the Tampa Bay Lightning? [Raw Charge]

• As they cling to a playoff spot out west, the Anaheim Ducks are keeping an eye on the teams around them. [OC Register]

• Brian Gionta and Chris Kelly go from the Olympics straight into the NHL playoff race. []

• The question facing the Carolina Hurricanes: What now? [Spector’s Hockey]

• Are scoring chances better than Corsi? [Maple Leafs Nation]

• A stick and jersey from Canadian women’s Olympic team players Sarah Nurse and Brigette Lacquette are heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame. [Color of Hockey]

• It’s bracket time! So why not take a gander at what the NHL playoffs would look like if it was done like March Madness. [On the Forecheck]

• Finally, as Ovi hits 600, let’s hop in the wayback machine for one of his best goals ever:


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

How will Mike Fisher fit back in with Predators?

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If you’re a fan of the Nashville Predators, you’ve probably been wondering if Mike Fisher can return from retirement and still be as effective as he was last season. Maybe you wonder if he’ll take minutes from a younger player with more to offer at this point, whether it be Colton Sissons, Austin Watson, Calle Jarnkrok now or Eeli Tolvanen later.

One cannot help but wonder if Peter Laviolette will tire of being asked if Fisher is in or out of the lineup once the playoffs kick into gear.

Friday won’t answer those questions, although we’ll at least get a look at Fisher as he makes his 2017-18 debut for the Predators, who close out a back-to-back set. They rallied from down two goals to beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 last night, and they turn around to face the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Really, back-to-backs rank as no-brainer situations for Fisher. Going further, maybe you rest the veteran one night, then give someone a break by lining him up the other?

There’s also the unfortunately real possibility that injuries could always silence the debate, whether it be Fisher getting hurt or the attrition of the postseason limiting Laviolette’s options. Still, at the moment, it’s not that easy to decide who to bump from the lineup for the veteran forward. Especially if he must be at center in any situation.

[Predators bolster center depth with Fisher signing]

We haven’t gotten word about Fisher’s linemates just yet, but take a look at Nashville’s previous alignments, via Left Wing Lock:

Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenRyan Hartman
Kevin FialaKyle TurrisCraig Smith
Scott HartnellNick Bonino — Calle Jarnkrok
Austin Watson — Colton Sissons — Viktor Arvidsson

That’s already a pretty deep lineup, with Jarnkrok, Watson, and Sissons coming to mind as possible scratches. Scott Hartnell could probably sit for a night or two, depending upon different alignments.

Even so, Hartman’s addition already caused some shockwaves. Even if Arvidsson isn’t long for the fourth line – or maybe you consider that Nashville’s third line – it’s jarring to see him outside of the top six. This also serves as another reminder that this Predators team has seen a lot of changes during these trade-happy years for GM David Poile.

For what it’s worth, the team and Fisher are saying the right things. Let’s note Laviolette’s comments, because his opening sentence (via the team website) is “very hockey.”

“Mike is another horse in the stable in there,” Laviolette said. “He brings character and leadership, and I think everybody knows the way he plays. This wasn’t a move out of desperation where we needed this, our team was moving along, but we also know Mike’s strengths and we know what he’s able to do on the ice. We know the person he is, and though conversations, it evolved to this point where it’s getting closer Mike plays … I think everybody’s excited about that and we’re happy to have him.”

Now, when you hear people praise Fisher, it’s easy to get bogged down in vague talk about “leadership” and “intangibles.”

Sometimes such language feels like a smokescreen for a limited player who brings little more to the table than grit. Maybe that’s what Fisher will be at 37 (turning 38 on June 5), but it’s worth mentioning that he really did end things on a solid note in 2016-17.

Fisher scored 18 goals and 42 points in 72 regular-season games. His 54.9 faceoff winning percentage might get excessive praise in some quarters, yet that’s actually a decent plus considering Nashville’s merely giving him $1 million prorated and devoting a roster spot to him (rather than having to spend assets on a veteran in a trade). His possession stats were acceptable, too, especially considering heavy defensive usage.

Things went sideways during the playoffs, when Fisher failed to score a goal and generated four assists in 20 postseason games despite logging 17:17 minutes per night. Then again, with forwards like Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala eventually injured, the Preds didn’t possess the same depth that they do now.

Situations like those might be the key, then. If Fisher flounders in important moments – which, again, would be quite understandable – will Laviolette be able to sit the veteran down for a game or more, even after the team asked him to come back? Considering the wealth of talent on hand even if Tolvanen doesn’t come to the team after his KHL season ends, that could provide quite the conflict.

That said, it’s not that difficult to imagine Fisher pushing an already-impressive Predators team over the top by providing them with jaw-dropping depth and useful minutes on the PK.

It should be an interesting dynamic to witness, starting with tonight’s game against the Canucks.

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

Trade: Predators pay big price for Blackhawks’ Hartman


Could this be it for the Nashville Predators, the NHL’s leading producer of splashy trades, even after injecting their name into the Erik Karlsson conversation (seriously or not)?

Not long after making the Mike Fisher signing official and sending Pontus Aberg to Edmonton for a fourth-rounder, the Predators put together an intriguing – and expensive – trade to grab Ryan Hartman from their pals the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Trade: Predators land Hartman and a fifth-round pick; Blackhawks acquire a first-rounder, prospect Victor Ejdsell, and a fourth-rounder.

Why Predators made the trade: Nashville is going for it, but they’ve already added some massive pieces year after year, so maybe the prices for truly premium pieces scared them off?

Hartman, 23, was the 30th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. So far in his career, he has 57 points in 141 regular-season games; he was unable to score against Nashville during that sweep in the first round of the 2017 postseason … which makes him fit in with most of his now-former-teammates. With almost a penalty minute per game so far in his career (130 PIM in 141 games), Hartman brings an edge to his game, as well. (Though there’s also the worry that he might take ill-advised penalties, already a concern if Scott Hartnell plays like the 100 PIM guy he once was, too.)

Hartman is a pending RFA, so while he’s on his cheap ELC now, his asking price may change.

Hartman’s been a reasonably decent possession player, and there have been signs of promise, including fall one goal short of 20 last season. Taking a look at his ice time, particularly lately, and you’ll see that he was falling out of favor with Coach Q in Chicago.

The fifth-rounder softens some of the blow of Nashville giving up quite a bit of futures in this deal.

You wonder if this might be it for the Preds … although maybe that changes a bit after seeing the Jets land Paul Stastny from the Blues in a surprise swap?

Why the Blackhawks made the trade: Chicago’s aware that this is a lost season, so this is about as painless a “sell” as you can ask for, especially with Hartman sliding out of favor.

Amusingly, the first-rounder could end up landing near 30th, much like where Hartman was selected. The Blackhawks would argue that maybe they’d get an even better player there, perhaps?

Chicago also upgrades from a fifth to a fourth-rounder. Granted, that’s unlikely to be a full leap, as the Blackhawks’ fifth-rounder is likely to be fairly early while Nashville’s fourth could be close to the fifth.

Victor Ejdsell, 22, stands as interesting … and also stands as literally very tall.

So far in Sweden, the towering forward has 17 goals and 30 points in 44 games. Maybe he could be a beefy depth scorer for Chicago down the line?

Who won the trade?

That’s a fairly steep price for the Predators, although Hartman is young and currently cheap. They’d likely argue that his physical style gives him enough value to offset the fact that he’s not as big of a name as an aging scorer like, say, Rick Nash.

The Blackhawks get a really nice takeaway, and you wonder if they might load up on assets even more today. Even if they stand pat, adding another first-rounder (even an almost certainly late one) is precious for a franchise that probably wants to “reset” rather than “rebuild.”

MORE: PHT’s 2018 Trade Deadline Tracker.

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

Rinne, Predators hand Blues their sixth straight loss in 4-0 win


The thought of the St. Louis Blues missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs a couple months ago would have been brushed fiercely, and with good reason.

Even with a packed infirmary, the Blues managed to hang with the big boys atop the Central Division, a testament to their depth. Everything was pretty much status quo, what we’ve come to expect from the Blues as a perennial playoff team with lots of talent.

And then the wheels fell off.

The Blues lost their sixth straight game on Sunday, a 4-0 defeat to a Nashville Predators team that they previously shared a table with in the NHL’s toughest division.

Now, the Blues are now fighting for a playoff spot. They sit a point behind the Anaheim Ducks for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference and two points back of the Minnesota Wild for third in the Central Division.

The Blues are now 0-5-1 in their past six and have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their past 10 games, including being shutout twice. The once-reliable scoring well has dried up. St. Louis was shutout 4-0 on Friday night against Winnipeg in an embarrassing effort. Sunday’s wasn’t much different.

Nashville, meanwhile, continues to cruise and regained sole possession of top spot in the Central Division, two points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets with a game in hand.

The win also put the Predators a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for tops in the Western Conference and two points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning at the summit in the NHL.

Along with Sissons’ goal, Kevin Fiala notched his 20th to five the Preds a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

Everything went right for the Preds, even when they were shorthanded.

Watson’s shorty made it 4-0 after Scott Hartnell gave Nashville a 3-0 lead 1:20 into the second period.

That nice orange-red circle in front of Jake Allen is pretty telling.

Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, was solid in the crease for the Predators, picking up his sixth shutout of the season and 49th of career in a 27-save performance.

The Predators, who have now won four straight, get their stiffest challenge yet against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. On the line is first place in the division, a spot both teams will likely duke out for heading down the home stretch.

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Getty Images



St. Louis Blues


Ivan BarbashevPaul StastnyVladimir Tarasenko

Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Sobotka

Alexander SteenPatrik BerglundNikita Soshnikov

Scottie UpshallKyle BrodziakDmitrij Jaskin


Carl GunnarssonAlex Pietrangelo

Jay BouwmeesterColton Parayko

Vince DunnJordan Schmaltz

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

Nashville Predators


Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenViktor Arvidsson

Kevin FialaKyle TurrisCraig Smith

Scott HartnellNick BoninoCalle Jarnkrok

Miikka SalomakiColton SissonsAustin Watson


Roman JosiRyan Ellis

Mattias EkholmP.K. Subban

Alexei EmelinYannick Weber

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck