For a minute there, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers might enter an era in which splashy moves rarely happened.
Maybe those days are still largely over, but the past echoes in an eyebrow-raising deal: the Flyers send Nicklas Grossmann and the contract of Chris Pronger (their phrasing) to the Arizona Coyotes for Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick in 2016 and 2017.
These are believed to be the conditions:
The Flyers also retained some money in the deal:
Philly’s side: While the Flyers have been able to stash Pronger’s cap hit on LTIR once the season starts, they’ve been somewhat limited in their moves during each summer thanks to that albatross (not to mention Nicklas Grossmann’s $3 million cap hit). Philadelphia gets an interesting piece in Gagner; it’s easy to forget that the flawed-yet-skilled forward is still just 25.
Let’s just say a lot of Flyers fans are excited.
Arizona’s side: The Coyotes can spin Dave Tippett’s approval of Grossman all they’d like, but it’s ultimately about money.
Pronger’s cap hit is $4.94 million, but his salary is just $575K for the next two campaigns. There’s no sense denying how much money this franchise needs to save – at least in the near future – and Pronger’s deal is very helpful in that regard.
From Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:
The Arizona Coyotes are seriously considering buying out the contract of Sam Gagner, which has the Toronto Maple Leafs interested.
The cash-strapped Coyotes are on the hunt for centremen, and have come to the conclusion that Gagner simply isn’t a fit. Arizona GM Don Maloney has been attempting to trade Gagner while at the NHL Draft, but chances are he would have to take someone else’s bad contract back. Maloney may settle for a buy-out at one-third of the money owed, as Gagner is still just 25 years old.
Gagner only has one more season remaining on his contract. Buying him out would save the budget-conscious Coyotes just over $2 million in salary, per Cap Friendly. Their cap hit would be around $500,000 in both 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Gagner had 15 goals and 26 assists last season, his first with Arizona after being traded by Edmonton to Tampa Bay, which quickly flipped him to the Coyotes.
It was hoped that a “change of scenery” would help the former sixth overall pick.
Related: The Coyotes need to spend some money
Thursday presented one of those classic “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” situations: who do you really deem the “winners” of an Arizona Coyotes – Buffalo Sabres game?
OK, in a literal sense, the Coyotes beat the Sabres 4-3 in OT.
Considering the tanking scenario, Buffalo really “wins” by generating one fewer standings point. Really, though, the Edmonton Oilers might be the “winners” in that the Sabres forced this contest to go to overtime with a late Brian Gionta goal.
Either way, it was an odd scene in which beat reporters were passing along notes about fans cheering for both Sabres and Coyotes goals in Buffalo.
Observe the ovation for Sam Gagner’s winning goal:
Here is how the race to the bottom looks now:
30. Buffalo – 48 points, eight games left
29. Arizona – 54 points, seven games left
28. Edmonton – 55 points, eight games left
Realistically, it’s probably just a battle for second-to-last, as it’s hard to imagine Buffalo winning enough to sabotage getting the best odds in the draft lottery. The good news for the Oilers is that Arizona and Buffalo face off again in Arizona on Monday.
Like a midnight showing of “The Room,” one gets the feeling that hockey fans will enjoy watching that next contest in a very sardonic sort of way …
The Vancouver Canucks looked doomed from the start. On the road, up against the Arizona Coyotes, who have only lost 10 in a row. And the Canucks fell right into the trap.
Despite a late third-period comeback and some sensational saves from goalie Eddie Lack — which only came after his teammates, including Daniel Sedin, were guilty of some atrocious turnovers — the Canucks fell by a final score of 3-2 in the shootout.
Maybe it was Arizona’s jerseys. The Coyotes were wearing their original throwback uniforms. Just like old times.
Sam Gagner scored the lone goal in the skills competition. Other than that, Lack was solid later in the game. He was forced to rob Shane Doan on a breakaway early in overtime after a horrendous pass from Sedin, and made another glove save in OT. Giving his team a chance, at least.
The win snaps Arizona’s losing streak at 10 games.
This skid has gotten the Coyotes right into the thick of the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. Odd, because the Canucks, fighting for a playoff spot, have now lost to the Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, another team in the running to land the top pick in the 2015 draft, in the span of seven days.
In this case, the Canucks still get the single point. They maintain the second spot in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of the Calgary Flames, who, thanks to a beauty and unlikely shootout goal from David Schlemko, topped the Boston Bruins earlier in the evening.
Yikes. Sometimes that’s all you can really say about an especially bad goal.
Every tally has been precious for the offense-starved Toronto Maple Leafs, so giving up a soft one hurts that much more. That’s exactly what happened early in the third period tonight, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored from his own blue line on a sleepy Jonathan Bernier:
Rule of thumb: when people are bringing up Vesa Toskala’s name in Toronto, you know things are going poorly.
Update: Yep, the third period ended up being pretty rough for the Maple Leafs overall.
Phil Kessel first-period goal wasn’t nearly enough for the Maple Leafs to secure a standings point. Martin Hanzal scored the game-winner at the 3:47 mark of the third period and Sam Gagner found the net for an insurance tally with three-and-a-half minutes left.
Almost as disturbing for Toronto is that a flailing Arizona team hogged the puck. The Coyotes generated a 45-25 shot advantage on Thursday with a 21-6 second period being most glaring (even without featuring a single goal).
It’s one thing to be dominated by a contending team; it’s another to be handled thoroughly by a squad seemingly in free-fall mode. Bad times for the Maple Leafs.