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‘We will be aggressive’ — Panthers GM looks to add scoring in free agency

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The Florida Panthers cleared up some cap space with yesterday’s moves in the expansion draft, but now they’ll need to find a way to replace the offensive production Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith were responsible for.

Marchessault broke out last season for 30 goals on a very affordable contract and while Smith’s goal total (and shooting percentage) were down last year, he’s still a two-time 20-plus goal scorer. Both are now gone from the Panthers lineup following yesterday’s expansion draft chaos.

Already among their offseason signings was a two-year entry-level deal with Henrik Haapala, who stands in similar stature to Marchessault at 5-foot-8 and led Finland’s top professional league with 60 points this past season — his fifth in SM liiga.

Beyond that, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon has made his intentions known that he plans to be aggressive when the free agent market opens up.

“We have some flexibility long term. Our goal is to win multiple championships and these moves we’re making are looking to the present but also to the future,” said Tallon, per the Miami Herald.

“We will be aggressive moving forward in free agency. There’s a plan in place and we’re going to stick to it.

“This is not, necessarily, the team we will have in three months. We have plans in place to make this team exciting.”

The Panthers now have about $20.1 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. They have about $27.665 million committed to eight forwards. They also have two restricted free agent defensemen — Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk — in need of new contracts, and Tallon has told reporters he’ll re-start talks with the 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr, who is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It will be interesting to see what is available at forward when free agency begins. The list of pending UFA forwards right now includes the likes of T.J. Oshie, Radim Vrbata, Alex Radulov, Patrick Eaves, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Martin Hanzal, among others, so there may be options if the Panthers choose to go in search of scoring on the open market.

Connor McDavid captures the Hart Trophy (video)

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Only one player in the National Hockey League scored 100 points this season. That would be Connor McDavid.

He accomplished the feat at the age of 20.

On Wednesday, after such a terrific sophomore season in which he was fully healthy throughout, he was recognized with the Hart Trophy , given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team.

McDavid scored 30 goals, many in spectacular fashion, and 100 points to win the Art Ross, often showing a dominant display of speed and hands quick enough to keep up.

The Oilers made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006, making it to Game 7 of the second round against the Anaheim Ducks..

McDavid beats out Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who has been perhaps the best player in the world over the last two years with Stanley Cups, Conn Smythe trophies and a Rocket Richard Trophy to show for it, and Columbus Blue Jackets Vezina-winning netminder Sergei Bobrovsky for the award.

McDavid also captured the Ted Lindsay Award earlier in the evening.

Here is the Hart Trophy voting:

Points: (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Connor McDavid, EDM 1604 (147-17-3-0-0)
2. Sidney Crosby, PIT 1104 (14-119-19-11-3)
3. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 469 (4-17-40-29-23)
4. Brent Burns, SJS 273 (1-3-25-29-30)
5. Erik Karlsson, OTT 258 (0-5-28-23-14)
6. Patrick Kane, CHI 206 (0-3-20-20-25)
7. Brad Marchand, BOS 184 (1-1-14-22-31)
8. Nikita Kucherov, TBL 119 (0-0-11-15-19)
9. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH 60 (0-0-3-11-12)
10. Braden Holtby, WSH 19 (0-0-2-3-0)
11. Auston Matthews, TOR 17 (0-0-2-1-4)
12. Alex Ovechkin, WSH 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
Ryan Suter, MIN 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
14. Victor Hedman, TBL 5 (0-0-0-1-2)
15. Devan Dubnyk, MIN 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Vladimir Tarasenko, STL 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
17. Cam Atkinson, CBJ 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Cam Talbot, EDM 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Johnny Gaudreau bests Granlund, Tarasenko for Lady Byng Trophy

Johnny Gaudreau has always been able to hurt the opposition on the score board.

The Calgary Flames forward scored 18 goals and 61 points this season, while spending all of four minutes in the penalty box, despite often being the target of the opposition.

Sometimes, other teams and players can go over the line, but Gaudreau kept out of the extracurriculars, earning him the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct in the game.

He beats out Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues for the award.

All three players combined for a total of 28 penalty minutes between them all season, while scoring a total of 83 goals and 205 points.

The winner is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

Points. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Johnny Gaudreau, CGY 906 (54-33-15-16-12)
2. Vladimir Tarasenko, STL 738 (35-31-25-12-10)
3. Mikael Granlund, MIN 445 (12-22-23-16-8)
4. Marian Hossa, CHI 320 (17-13-9-3-5)
5. Oscar Klefbom, EDM 264 (11-8-12-7-17)
6. Auston Matthews, TOR 238 (2-14-12-15-15)
7. Brandon Saad, CBJ 211 (1-10-15-12-20)
8. Jason Pominville, MIN 127 (4-5-4-9-5)
9. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 119 (5-1-7-8-3)
10. Ryan O’Reilly, BUF 98 (1-2-7-11-6)
11. Duncan Keith, CHI 67 (3-2-2-4-1)
12. John Carlson, WSH 55 (2-1-4-2-2)
13. Aleksander Barkov, FLA 54 (2-0-4-3-5)
14. Connor McDavid, EDM 51 (3-3-0-0-0)
15. Erik Karlsson, OTT 50 (3-0-2-3-1)
16. Sidney Crosby, PIT 47 (2-3-0-2-0)
17. Leon Draisaitl, EDM 46 (0-4-1-3-4)
18. Marcus Johansson, WSH 37 (0-2-0-4-11)
19. Jared Spurgeon. MIN 33 (1-2-1-0-4)
20. Rickard Rakell, ANA 29 (0-2-2-1-2)

Tortorella claims Jack Adams Award over Babcock, McLellan (video)

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John Tortorella has won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s most outstanding coach for the second time in his career.

Torts beat out Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers and Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs, after helping guide the Columbus Blue Jackets to a franchise record 50 wins and 108 points.

That’s quite an improvement from their 76-point campaign the previous season.

The Blue Jackets finished third in the Metropolitan Division this season, earning a playoff berth.

The interesting thing about Tortorella being named the Jack Adams award winner is that he was the most likely coach to be fired first during the season, according to the oddsmakers in October.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, as the Blue Jackets gained strength from a 16-game winning streak — the second-longest single season winning streak in NHL history behind the Penguins’ 17-game run in 1992-93 — and were in contention for a hyper competitive Metropolitan Division until late in the season.

The award is selected by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

Points: (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. John Tortorella, CBJ 267 (39-19-15)
2. Mike Babcock, TOR 182 (24-15-17)
3. Todd McLellan, EDM 181 (18-24-19)
4. Joel Quenneville, CHI 103 (12-12-7)
5. Barry Trotz, WSH 63 (6-8-9)
6. Glen Gulutzan, CGY 49 (2-8-15)
7. Guy Boucher, OTT 44 (1-10-9)
8. Mike Sullivan, PIT 25 (3-2-4)
9. Bruce Boudreau, MIN 22 (0-5-7)
10. Jon Cooper, TBL 3 (0-1-0)
Claude Julien, MTL 3 (0-1-0)
12. Randy Carlyle, ANA 2 (0-0-2)
13. Bill Peters, CAR 1 (0-0-1)

Auston Matthews claims Calder Memorial Trophy

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Auston Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau in his rookie season, capturing the Calder Trophy on Wednesday after helping accelerate the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rebuilding process.

Selected first overall last year, Matthews made his mark on the NHL right away, scoring four goals in his very first game.

Talk about a debut.

He continued that elite offensive flare all the way through the regular season, finishing with 69 points and helping the Maple Leafs into the postseason.

Matthews beats out Patrik Laine, who had an impressive 36 goals and 64 points in Winnipeg, and Columbus rookie defenseman Zach Werenski.

The Calder Trophy goes to the league’s top rookie.

This was a truly impressive rookie class.

Matthews, who set a new American rookie goal record, has become the face of a franchise loaded with young talent, including Mitch Marner and William Nylander. With that injection of skilled youth into their lineup, the Maple Leafs gave the Washington Capitals all they could handle in the opening round, before eventually bowing out to Alex Ovechkin and the Caps.

His play certainly grabbed the attention of the league’s best players, including Sidney Crosby.

“I think the biggest thing that stands out is how he complete he is,” said Crosby earlier in the season. “That’s what I noticed from just watching him play. Just that maturity.

“His game is just so well-rounded. He’s a guy who can score goals but he’s a guy who can play away from the puck. He’s strong on the puck. He scores goals different ways, and that is probably a big reason why he is so consistent. He’s got a great shot, but he can also score from in close and goes to the net hard too.”

The winner of the award is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

Points: (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Auston Matthews, TOR 1661 (164-3-0-0-0)
2. Patrik Laine, WPG 1106 (3-134-24-6-0)
3. Zach Werenski, CBJ 711 (0-21-93-28-15)
4. Matt Murray, PIT 346 (0-6-25-52-23)
5. Mitchell Marner, TOR 273 (0-3-14-42-56)
6. William Nylander, TOR 143 (0-0-7-24-36)
7. Matthew Tkachuk, CGY 72 (0-0-4-11-19)
8. Sebastian Aho, CAR 26 (0-0-0-4-14)
9. Ivan Provorov, PHI 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
10. Brayden Point, TBL 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Brady Skjei, NYR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)