Pro Hockey Talk's Trade Deadline Extravaganza

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The deadline has come and passed, and overall it was a relatively quiet day. Here’s a rundown of all of the news and rumors from the day. We’ll be bringing you comprehensive opinion and analysis of all these moves throughout the afternoon.

4:07 p.m. – Here’s another that’s just gone down. The Hurricanes have traded Stephane Yelle and Harrison Reed to Colorado, in exchange for Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll and a 6th round pick.

3:45 p.m. – Here’s the rundown of the trades that have come across the past 30 minutes:

Dustin Boyd to Nashville; 4th round pick to Calgary
Chris Peluso to Toronto; 6th round pick to Pittsburgh
Ryan Whitney to Edmonton; Lubomir Visnovsky to Anaheim (!!!!)
Joey MacDonald to Anaheim; 7th round pick (2011) to Toronto

We’ll have more on these trades and more throughout the afternoon. Stay with us.

3:10 p.m. – The LA Kings continue to bolster their team for a playoff run by acquiring Fredrik Modin from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

3:08 p.m. – Washington receives Joe Corvo from Carolina for Brian Pothier and Oskar Osala. OK, now that’s a pretty big trade (thankfully).

3:00 p.m. – The deadline is upon us! Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be more deals announced, though. Stay tuned.

Earlier news and original post after the jump…


We’re still settling into our new digs here at PHT; in fact the boxes
aren’t even unpacked yet and I’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the
floor. But trade deadline day is here and we’ll be giving you all the
news and semi-grounded rumors we can find.

Here’s the plan: all
throughout the day this thread will update with any trades or major
rumors that come across the wire. We’ll link to our more in depth
analysis and takes on the rumors below, but this thread will stick to
the top of the page and will be constantly updated.

So if you’re
at work: open up another window with a spreadsheet or work email in it,
and be sure to keep checking back here throughout the day. We’re
certainly not encouraging anyone not to work….but we all know that
hockey fans will not be very productive today anyway.

We’ll also
be keeping up with all the news on Twitter. You can follow Pro Hockey Talk by
going here
, and I’ll guarantee it’s going to be a busy feed today.
At least I hope. I’m still getting the whole “tweeting” thing down.

Let’s
have some fun.

2:56 p.m. – TSN is claiming that Dan Hamhuis will remain
a member of the Nashville Predators. Fair enough.

2:54 p.m. – Word is that
Sheldon Souray will miss the rest of the season with an infected hand.
(Resists making tasteless jokes about his messy divorce.)

2:53
p.m.
 No word on the team “lucky” enough to receive him, but
the Toronto Maple Leafs have unloaded Lee Stempniak. Update: apparently
that team is the Phoenix Coyotes. Toronto receives a fourth and seventh
round pick for Stempniak.

2:52 p.m. – TSN reports that
Milan Jurcina has been traded back to the Washington Capitals.
Update:
Bob McKenzie reports that Jurcina was diagnosed with a sports
hernia. Hmmm.

2:41 p.m.Bob
McKenzie just Tweeted that the Atlanta Thrashers sent their third and
fourth round picks to Buffalo for Clarke McArthur? Huh? Where’s the
second rounder?

2:32 p.m. – The Buffalo Sabres
added some grit in Raffi Torres. They sent a (clicks “paste”) second
round pick and D Nathan Paetsch. Is it even a heavy price to pay when
everyone but Scott Walker is basically going for a second round pick?
GMs sure are a
bunch of conformists
.

(Apparently,
Torres is going to be Toronto bound next off-season. Read
more about that strange situation
.)

2: 20 p.m. – I
know that Curtis McElhinney and Vesa Toskala have traded places, but we
have yet to see a major trade involving a major goaltender. More on
that here.

2:00 p.m. – With the Kaberle talks
heating up (ugh, so tired of it already)
I opine on the topic here.

1:47
p.m.
 –
The Washington Capitals acquired Eric Belanger from the
Minnesota Wild for (wait for it) a second round draft pick. This ads to
what’s becoming a sizable pool of character guys for the Caps.

1:38
p.m. –
Remember how I was talking how it seemed that Tomas
Kaberle was not interested in waiving his NTC. Well, now it seems that
he and Brian Burke have a ‘deal’ where he’ll  consider deals that come
across. I have this strange sense of deja vu.

1:34
p.m.- The Tampa Bay
Lightning sent Jeff Halpern to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have
sent Teddy Purcell and a third-round draft pick to Tampa Bay.

1:22
p.m.-
Well, it was quiet for a bit but we have another trade.
The Canucks have sent defenseman Mathieu Schneider to the Phoenix
Coyotes. Boy…I’m writing Phoenix a lot today. Details to come.

12:50
p.m. –
We
wonder what exactly the point was
regarding the Aaron Ward trade.
Obviously salary and the need for depth….but Ward to Anaheim was a bit
anticlimactic.


12:43
p.m. – It’s
official. 
Peter
Mueller has been traded with Kevin Porter from the Phoenix Coyotes to
the Colorado Avalanche for Wojtek Wolski.
That’s a nice find for the
Coyotes, since both players seem to register a lot of the same
attitude-type complaints while Wolski has actually made good on some of
his promise.

12:35 p.m. – Now we’re
talking…Vancover has aqcuired Yan Statsny from St. Louis in exchange
for Cedric Labrie. Things are starting to heat up.

12:30
p.m. –
Mueller to Colorado or Mueller to Atlanta. RDS is reporting that Peter Mueller has
been traded to the Atlanta Thrashers, while TSN is saying a deal is in
the works for Phoenix to send him to Colorado in exchange for Wojtek
Wolski. We’ll keep you updated.

12:28 p.m. –
TSN just announced that Scott Walker was traded from Carolina to
Washington for a seventh round pick. No word on a three-team trade in
which Walker’s fist is sent to Aaron Ward’s face. Further analysis here.

12:06
p.m. –
Breaking into all the trade talk here, but you can catch
a replay of the Gold Medal Game between Canada and USA on Universal
Sports. Details
here
.
12:00 p.m. – Florida dealt Dennis
Seidenberg and Matthew Bartkowski to Boston for a second round draft
pick, Byron Bitz and Craig Weller. So, essentially, the Bruins swapped
Derek Morris and a second round pick for Dennis Seidenberg. Solid
move in Beantown.

11:44 a.m. – Aaron Ward
has been traded to the Anaheim Ducks, in exchange for goaltender Justin
Pogge and a draft pick, could be a fourth or so. We’ll see.

11:36
a.m. –
Just as I was publishing a post on how quiet today has
been, Seidenberg gets traded to the Bruins. Not a HUGE move, mind you,
but at least there was more to it than draft picks. Well sort of; Byron
Blitz is part of the trade as well.

11:30 a.m. –
Looks like the Morris trade to Phoenix was certainly with another move
already in the works. TSN reporting that Florida has traded Dennis
Seidenberg to Boston.

11:14 a.m. – Just saw a tweet
by someone who is very serious about what they do, confirming that
Florida wants Jeff Carter. Thanks for the info…see my update from an
hour ago.
10:54 a.m. – NHL.com guru Mike Dilorenzo is saying that
Martin Skoula is headed to the New Jersey Devils.  He was just traded
yesterday to Toronto as part of the Alexei Ponikarovsky deal. Hope he
didn’t unpack.

10: 51 a.m. –
Morris traded to
Phoenix, Boston
set up for another move later today.

10:35 a.m. – Details
on the trade – Derek Morris is traded to the Phoenix Coyotes, Boston
gets 2011 fourth round draft pick. Yep, can you say “salary dump for
another trade today?”

10:30 a.m.It
appears that
the asking price for Raffi Torres of the Blue Jackets
is a first round pick, or at least a top prospect. That’s a steep, steep
price for a 30 point scorer, who’s just a rental.

10:25
a.m. –
We may have our first trade of the day. Derek Morris may
be headed back to Phoenix; he was going to be a UFA this summer for
Boston. Waiting on details.

10: 17 a.m. – Well
now….Washington interested in Ray Whitney? Interesting, since I just
heard Carolina might not trade him, since no one would accept their
price.

10:10 a.m. – According
to Darren Dreger
, Sheldon Souray has ‘softened’ a bit on the team’s
he’d be willing to accept a trade to.

10:03 a.m. – It
looks like Tomas Vokoun to Philadelphia is in the works, and that Jeff
Carter  is the target for Florida. Not exactly a salary dump for
Panthers; Carter is owed $5 million next season.

9:58 a.m. –
Tomas Vokoun has apparently agreed to waive his NTC for small
number of teams.

9:41 a.m. – Florida
Panthers are definitely sellers
. Dennis Seidenberg will be first to
go, Tomas Vokoun is almost certainly on the trading block as well.

9:22
a.m. –
Well, this is a bit surprising. Scotty
Bowman tells FAN that Chicago
is not in the market for a
goaltender.

9:15 a.m. – Tomas
Kaberle rumors are still out there
, but he’s not budging on his
wish to stay with Toronto. We wonder….why?

Which NHL teams should try to sign Henrik Lundqvist after Rangers buyout?

Which NHL teams should try to sign Henrik Lundqvist after Rangers buyout?
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With the Rangers’ long-rumored buyout of Henrik Lundqvist now official, the natural question is: “Which team will sign Lundqvist?” This, of course, assumes that Lundqvist will continue his vaunted career. Just about any hockey fan should hope that the 38-year-old keeps chugging along.

Few know what Henrik Lundqvist wants (beyond Lundqvist)

Ultimately, we can only guess where Lundqvist may sign next. We don’t know his priorities, although it seems reasonable to assume that he would emphasize the chance to win that elusive Stanley Cup.

If Lundqvist followed in the footsteps of other veteran sports stars and took very little money to chase that late-career championship, it would be understandable. After all, Cap Friendly estimates Lundqvist’s career earnings at close to $100 million.

But Lundqvist might want the best chance to play, rather than a platoon or backup situation. Maybe he’d want to stay reasonably close to New York City, being that he played for the Rangers for 15 years?

What Henrik Lundqvist brings to the table at age 38

No doubt, Lundqvist is no longer at his peak, and oh what a peak it was:

By the numbers, it’s fair to wonder what sort of goalie teams would be getting in current-day Lundqvist.

In 2019-20, Lundqvist went 10-12-3 with a .905 save percentage. That marks the second straight season in that range, as he sank to .907 in 2018-19.

According to Hockey Reference’s version of Goals Saved Above Average, Lundqvist was on the negative side of the ledger (from -4.16 to -5.21) in three of the last four seasons.

While some of those stats attempt to correct for the quality of teams in front of goalies, it’s still worth wondering if Lundqvist might enjoy a renaissance in a different situation. To be frank, the Rangers have been abysmal defensively for some time now. And, for a veteran like Lundqvist, it might be tougher to find that fire on a rebuilding team.

If you’re a contender and Lundqvist isn’t asking for the moon, maybe you can picture another glory run? Goalies are unpredictable, and Anton Khudobin was no spring chicken (34) in leading the Dallas Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

So let’s consider the NHL teams who may at least consider signing Henrik Lundqvist after that Rangers buyout.

Contenders going through changes may target Henrik Lundqvist

Heading into what’s almost certain to be a turbulent off-season, Lundqvist, Khudobin, and other free agent goalies must contend with a flooded market. Teams might prefer a more established name at-or-near their prime ages (Robin Lehner, Braden Holtby) or someone with less name recognition who could deliver Khudobin-type gains (Thomas Greiss).

So, beyond knowing what Lundqvist wants, it’s up to the teams to decide if Lundqvist is their preference.

In the case of contenders, the most sensible situation would be for Lundqvist to provide insurance at a low price, while Lundqvist gets to chase that Stanley Cup. These teams stand out in that category:

  • Capitals – How cool would it be for the Capitals to sign Lundqvist after facing him in, by my calculations, 5 bajillion playoff series?* With Holtby most likely to move on, the Capitals could provide Ilya Samsonov with a well-coiffed safety net. After all those barbs and battles, it would be a blast to watch Alex Ovechkin and Lundqvist team up.
  • Penguins – A fairly similar situation. Matt Murray is a UFA who struggled badly in recent times. Like with Pheonix Copley, the Penguins might have a logjam in that scenario, as Casey DeSmith is under contract. But pairing Lundqvist with Tristan Jarry could be appealing.
  • Flyers – Carter Hart could use a backup upgrade over Brian Elliott. There would be so, so many “Lundqvist mentoring Hart” stories.
  • Maple Leafs – If Toronto moved on from Frederik Andersen, could they roll with Lundqvist and Jack Campbell? Hmm.
  • Stars – In the event that Khudobin priced himself out of Dallas, picture a very old goalie duo in Lundqvist and Ben Bishop. Lundqvist might not know what to do with himself during games when the Stars really put the defensive clamps down, honestly.
  • Blues – After employing Martin Brodeur for a few unthinkable games, maybe the Blues land Lundqvist? They traded away Jake Allen, even after Allen quietly (vastly) outplayed Jordan Binnington in 2019-20.
  • Jets – Winnipeg asked a lot of Connor Hellebuyck last season. It might be wise to find someone to ease that burden in 2020-21.
  • Golden Knights – If they trade Marc-Andre Fleury and sign Lehner, they might need a backup. This would be weird … and fun?

* – Five series.

Hopefuls who might offer more starts?

If Lundqvist wants to thread the needle between having a chance to win a Stanley Cup — but maybe a lower chance — and also maybe getting in a platoon/1B/or even starting situation, there are some scenarios.

  • Flames – Calgary’s been searching for goalie help and that extra push for some time. If it weren’t for David Rittich, the Flames could’ve pulled off the amusing scenario where maybe Lundqvist would be the backup to his former backup, Cam Talbot. But Lundqvist on the Flames would be fascinating.
  • Oilers – Another year, another situation where the Oilers face comparable goalie uncertainty to their Alberta rivals. Imagine the star power of Lundqvist on a team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Imagine the angst if that all goes bust again.
  • Canucks – Thatcher Demko + Lundqvist rather than breaking the already-broken bank to bring back Jacob Markstrom?
  • Wild – Minnesota’s been one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. They’ve also made a ton of moves already. What if they found someone who’d actually make some stops?
  • Coyotes – If they moved on from Darcy Kuemper, maybe Lundqvist could sustain them if they play low-event hockey? Lundqvist could at least enjoy the weather, depending upon how the 2020-21 season might play out.
  • Sharks – Hey, they want to get out of the cellar, and their goaltending can only get better. Right?

Max money, minimum wins?

Let’s throw bad teams with a lot of money in this category. One could picture scenarios where the Senators, Red Wings, and other rebuilding franchises might value Lundqvist’s presence and name recognition. Lundqvist, meanwhile, might get more money and start more games.

The most devilish scenario would be if the New Jersey Devils snatched Lundqvist from their local rivals.

Marinating on that almost troll-like situation seems like a good way to close this off. Which teams would be best served to sign Lundqvist, and which destinations make the most sense for him? Do tell.

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.

2020 NHL Draft: Date, time, order of picks for all 31 teams

2020 NHL Draft
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The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually with Round 1 taking place on Tuesday, Oct. 6 beginning at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Rounds 2-7 will be held Wednesday, Oct. 7 beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET on NHL Network.

The Rangers won Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft lottery in August and will select first overall. Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) winger Alexis Lafreniere is expected to go No. 1.

After that? It could go a lot of different ways. Quinton Byfield (Sudbury – C- OHL), Tim Stutzle (Adler Mannheim – C/LW – DEL), Lucas Raymond (Frolunda – LW/C – SHL), Jamie Drysdale (Erie – D – OHL), Marco Rossi (Ottawa – C – OHL), Cole Perfetti (Saginaw – C – OHL), Jake Sanderson (D – USNTDP) are among the top prospects expected to be selected early.

[NHL Midseason Mock Draft: Lafreniere head of the 2020 prospect class]

Here is the full 2020 NHL Draft order.

2020 NHL Draft order

Round 1

1. New York Rangers
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (from SJS)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Minnesota Wild
10. Winnipeg Jets
11. Nashville Predators
12. Florida Panthers
13. Carolina Hurricanes (from TOR)
14. Edmonton Oilers
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from PIT)
16. Montreal Canadiens
17. Chicago Blackhawks
18. New Jersey Devils (from ARZ)
19. Calgary Flames
20. New Jersey Devils (from VAN via TB)
21. Columbus Blue Jackets
22. New York Rangers (from CAR)
23. Philadelphia Flyers
24. Washington Capitals
25. Colorado Avalanche
26. St. Louis Blues
27. Anaheim Ducks (from BOS)
28. Ottawa Senators (from NYI)
29. Vegas Golden Knights
30. Dallas Stars
31. San Jose Sharks (from TB)

Round 2

32. Detroit Red Wings
33. Ottawa Senators
34. San Jose Sharks
35. Los Angeles Kings
36. Anaheim Ducks
37. Nashville Predators (from NJ)
38. Buffalo Sabres
39. Minnesota Wild
40. Winnipeg Jets
41. Carolina Hurricanes (from NYR)
42. Nashville Predators
43. Florida Panthers
44. Toronto Maple Leafs
45. Detroit Red Wings (from EDM)
46. Chicago Blackhawks (from PIT via VGK)
47. Montreal Canadiens
48. Montreal Canadiens (from CHI)
49. No selection (Originally Arizona Coyotes*)
50. Calgary Flames
51. Los Angeles Kings (from VAN)
52. Ottawa Senators (from CBJ)
53. Carolina Hurricanes
54. Philadelphia Flyers
55. Detroit Red Wings (from WSH)
56. San Jose Sharks (from COL via WSH)
57. Montreal Canadiens (from STL)
58. Boston Bruins
59. Ottawa Senators (from NYI)
60. Los Angeles Kings (from VGK)
61. Ottawa Senators (from DAL via VGK)
62. Tampa Bay Lightning

*Coyotes forfeit pick No. 49 due to punishment for violating NHL pre-combine testing rules.

Round 3

63. Detroit Red Wings
64. Ottawa Senators
65. Detroit Red Wings (from SJ)
66. Los Angeles Kings
67. Anaheim Ducks
68. Vegas Golden Knights (from NJ)
69. Carolina Hurricanes (from BUF)
70. Nashville Predators (from MIN)
71. Ottawa Senators (from WPG)
72. New York Rangers
73. Nashville Predators
74. Florida Panthers
75. Colorado Avalanche (from TOR)
76. Edmonton Oilers++
77. Pittsburgh Penguins
78. Montreal Canadiens
79. Chicago Blackhawks
80. Washington Capitals (from ARI via COL)
81. Calgary Flames+++
82. Vancouver Canucks
83. Los Angeles Kings (from CBJ via OTT via TOR)
84. New Jersey Devils (from CAR)
85. Tampa Bay Lightning (from PHI via SJ)
86. St. Louis Blues (from WSH via MTL)
87. Florida Panthers (from COL)
88. St. Louis Blues
89. Boston Bruins
90. New York Islanders
91. Vegas Golden Knights
92. New York Rangers (from DAL)
93. Tampa Bay Lightning

++ Oilers have yet to announce whether they will give their 2020 or 2021 third-round pick to the Flames as part of the James Neal trade. If they give up the 2020 choice, the Blackhawks will get No. 76 as part of the Erik Gustafsson treads. If they give up their 2021 pick, the Blackhawks will get the No. 81 pick from the Flames.

+++ If Calgary does not receive Edmonton’s 2020 third-round pick, they will send their own 2020 third-round pick to the Blackhawks.

Round 4

94. Tampa Bay Lightning (from DET)
95. Ottawa Senators
96. Calgary Flames (from SJ vis MTL via BUF)
97. Los Angeles Kings
98. Montreal Canadiens (from ANA)
99. New Jersey Devils
100. Buffalo Sabres
101. Minnesota Wild
102. Montreal Canadiens (from WPG)
103. New York Rangers
104. Anaheim Ducks (from NSH via PHI)
105. Florida Panthers
106. Toronto Maple Leafs
107. Detroit Red Wings (from EDM)
108. Pittsburgh Penguins
109. Montreal Canadiens
110. Chicago Blackhawks
111. Arizona Coyotes
112. Los Angeles Kings (from CGY)
113. Vancouver Canucks
114. Columbus Blue Jackets
115. Carolina Hurricanes
116. Philadelphia Flyers
117. Washington Capitals
118. Colorado Avalanche
119. St. Louis Blues
120. New Jersey Devils (from BOS)
121. New York Islanders
122. Toronto Maple Leafs (from VGK)
123. Dallas Stars
124. Tampa Bay Lightning

Round 5

125. Detroit Red Wings
126. San Jose Sharks (from OTT)
127. San Jose Sharks
128. Los Angeles Kings
129. Anaheim Ducks
130. New Jersey Devils
131. Buffalo Sabres
132. Minnesota Wild
133. Winnipeg Jets
134. New York Rangers
135. Nashville Predators
136. Montreal Canadiens (from FLA)
137. Florida Panthers (from TOR)
138. Edmonton Oilers
139. Pittsburgh Penguins
140. Carolina Hurricanes (from MTL)
141. Chicago Blackhawks
142. Arizona Coyotes
143. Calgary Flames
144. Vancouver Canucks
145. Columbus Blue Jackets
146. St. Louis Blues (from CAR)
147. Philadelphia Flyers
148. Washington Capitals
149. Colorado Avalanche
150. St. Louis Blues
151. Boston Bruins
152. New York Islanders
153. Toronto Maple Leafs (from VGK)
154. Dallas Stars
155. Ottawa Senators (from TB)

Round 6

156. Detroit Red Wings
157. Tampa Bay Lightning (from OTT)
158. Ottawa Senators (from SJ)
159. Los Angeles Kings
160. Anaheim Ducks
161. New Jersey Devils
162. Dallas Stars (from BUF via CAR via FLA)
163. Minnesota Wild
164. Winnipeg Jets
165. New York Rangers
166. Nashville Predators
167. Colorado Avalanche (from FLA)
168. Toronto Maple Leafs
169. Edmonton Oilers
170. Pittsburgh Penguins
171. Montreal Canadiens
172. Chicago Blackhawks
173. Arizona Coyotes
174. Calgary Flames
175. Vancouver Canucks
176. Columbus Blue Jackets
177. Toronto Maple Leafs (from CAR)
178. Philadelphia Flyers
179. Washington Capitals
180. Toronto Maple Leafs (from COL)
181. Ottawa Senators (from STL via EDM)
182. Boston Bruins
183. New York Islanders
184. Vegas Golden Knights
185. Dallas Stars
186. Tampa Bay Lightning

Round 7

187. Detroit Red Wings
188. Montreal Canadiens (from OTT)
189. Toronto Maple Leafs (from SJ)
190. Los Angeles Kings
191. Vancouver Canucks (from ANA)
192. New Jersey Devils
193. Buffalo Sabres
194. Minnesota Wild
195. Toronto Maple Leafs (from WPG via MIN)
196. New York Rangers
197. New York Rangers (from NSH)
198. Florida Panthers
199. Carolina Hurricanes (from TOR)
200. Edmonton Oilers
201. San Jose Sharks (from PIT)
202. Philadelphia Flyers (from MTL)
203. St. Louis Blues (from CHI via MTL)
204. Arizona Coyotes
205. Calgary Flames
206. New York Rangers (from VAN)
207. Columbus Blue Jackets
208. Carolina Hurricanes
209. Philadelphia Flyers
210. San Jose Sharks (from WSH)
211. Colorado Avalanche
212. Toronto Maple Leafs (from STL)
213. Boston Bruins
214. New York Islanders
215. Vegas Golden Knights
216. Buffalo Sabres (from DAL)
217. Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Draft order procedure

Round 1
Picks 1-15: Determined by Phases 1 and 2 of 2020 NHL Draft Lottery
Picks 16-27: Teams eliminated in Rounds 1 and 2 of 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in inverse order of 2019-20 regular season points percentage
Picks 28-29: Teams eliminated in 2020 Conference Finals, in inverse order of 2019-20 regular season points percentage
Pick 30: Team eliminated in 2020 Stanley Cup Final
Pick 31: 2020 Stanley Cup champion

Rounds 2-7
Picks 1-7: Teams who did not participate in the Return To Play, in inverse order of 2019-20 regular season points percentage
Picks 8-15: Teams eliminated in 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, in inverse order of 2019-20 regular season points percentage
Picks 16-27: Teams eliminated in Rounds 1 and 2 of 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in inverse order of 2019-20 regular season points percentage
Picks 28-29: Teams eliminated in 2020 Conference Finals, in inverse order of 2019-20 regular season points percentage
Pick 30: Team eliminated in 2020 Stanley Cup Final
Pick 31: 2020 Stanley Cup champion

Lightning return home, lift Stanley Cup in front of fans

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Defenseman Ryan McDonagh was preparing to answer one last question regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup championship when teammates Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn crashed the room, putting an abrupt and celebratory end to the news conference.

“Who’s next? Next question,” Kucherov said, looking into the camera.

With McDonagh stopping in mid-sentence, Killorn stepped behind the podium and said, “We’re not staying here all night, man.”

The wait for the Lightning — and the NHL — was long enough after Tampa Bay clinched the Cup with a 2-0 win in Game 6 against Dallas on Monday night in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Lightning raised the Cup 363 days after the first puck was dropped on the 2019-20 season, and some 6 1/2 months after hockey was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We knew what we were capable of with our whole roster, and we were pretty thankful to get the opportunity to come back and play,” McDonagh said.

The Lightning’s title, their second after winning in 2004, was historic.

In becoming the first team to win the Cup after the month of June, the Lightning also became the first to win 18 playoff games, including two in a preliminary round seeding series, as opposed to the standard 16. And they did so while spending 65 days in the NHL bubble, starting in Toronto before relocating to Edmonton for the conference finals.

“Obviously, we can go back and look at what’s going on in the world now,” said Maroon, who won the Cup last year with St. Louis. “I think a lot of us are going to sit back and talk about this one a lot, because this one was a special one, and a hard one to win.”

The Lightning returned home later Tuesday, greeted by family members and hundreds of fans on an airstrip near Tampa International Airport.

The crowd cheered team members exiting the plane. Defenseman Victor Hedman, holding his Conn Smythe Trophy, and team captain Steven Stamkos, hoisting the Stanley Cup, were the last to leave the airplane.

“To finally be here and enjoy it, it’s awesome,” Killorn said. “It’s kind of surreal right now to be honest.”

Once reunited with their families, the team members were taken to Amalie Arena for a private on-ice celebration that included their wives, girlfriends, children, arena staff workers and team sponsors.

Team owner Jeff Vinik said the Lightning have been one of the most successful teams in the NHL, but were missing one thing.

“Over the past six years we’ve been to four conference finals and played for the Stanley Cup,” Vinik said. “This time we won it.”

Stamkos thanked the families for their patience as the players spent more than 60 days in the NHL’s bubble in Toronto and Edmonton.

“This was probably the toughest Stanley Cup to win under the circumstances.,” Stamkos said. “It’s amazing the sacrifices the families went through just to allow us to chase our dreams.”

A fan rally and boat parade along the Hillsborough River is set for Wednesday, followed by a public celebration at Raymond James Stadium where 16,000 fans are expected to attend.

While the Lightning celebrate, the NHL turns its attention to next week, when the two-day draft — to be conducted remotely — opens on Oct. 6, followed by the start of free agency three days later.

It remains unclear when the 2020-21 season will open, either in December or early January, though the plan is to squeeze in a full 82-game schedule.

The experienced and deep Lightning made Stars coach Rick Bowness’ pre-series comments prescient. Bowness, a former Tampa Bay assistant, noted how the Lightning “weren’t quite ready to win” in 2015 in losing the final to Chicago in six games.

This year’s team proved far more battle-tested, with much of the same core still in place, and all too familiar with playoff setbacks. The Lightning lost Eastern Conference final appearances — both in Game 7 — in 2016 and 2018. Then there was the unshakable memory of last year, when Tampa Bay ran away with the regular-season title only to be swept by Columbus in the first round.

It was only fitting, McDonagh said, that Columbus was the Lightning’s first-round opponent this year. Tampa Bay not only won the series in five games, but showed perseverance in opening the series needing five overtimes to pull out a 3-2 win in the fourth-longest game in NHL history.

They did it with Stamkos limited to playing just two minutes and 47 seconds while missing the rest of the playoffs with a core muscle injury. And they overcame leading goal-scorer Brayden Point missing two games (both losses) with an undisclosed injury.

The Lightning never lost two straight, and enjoyed a few blowout victories, including 8-2 and 7-1 routs over Boston and the Islanders. More important, Tampa Bay was 12-3 in games decided by one goal.

General manager Julien BriseBois earned credit for adding grit and playoff experience. Maroon and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk were among the team’s offseason free-agent additions. BriseBois didn’t stop there, trading first-round draft picks to acquire Barclay Goodrow from San Jose and Blake Coleman from New Jersey in February.

The Lightning, who finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 43-21-6 record, capped a season in which they enjoyed a franchise-record 11-0 run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 17 following a 14-11 start.

Shattenkirk credited coach Jon Cooper for not over-reacting to the early stumbles.

“I think his patience was probably the best characteristic,” Shattenkirk said earlier this month. “He showed throughout the whole way in believing in our team and believing in the guys we had in the locker room.”

Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness still has ‘passion’ to coach

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Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin felt empty. Jamie Benn, their longtime captain, was almost speechless.

Like head coach Rick Bowness, who likely soon will shed the interim tag, they were disappointed and drained after more than two months inside the NHL bubble, where this most unusual season ended with a loss in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

”Go through a lot with that group,” Benn said before going silent for more than a full minute, even when asked another question. ”It was a good run … it’s tough here, you’re two games away from the Stanley Cup.”

It was a group that overcame miserable stretches to start and finish the regular season, and an unexpected coaching change in between. A group not really expected to be one of the last two teams playing in a season that wrapped up nearly a full year after it began, especially as the injures mounted.

Now the focus turns to the future of the 65-year-old Bowness, the interim head coach who has been behind NHL benches in parts of five different decades.

After Dallas wrapped up the Western Conference final two weeks ago, general manager Jim Nill said Bowness had ”definitely” earned the right to come back as coach. Team owner Tom Gaglardi has indicated the same.

Bowness was hired by Dallas before the 2018-19 season as an assistant for first-year coach Jim Montgomery, who made the jump from the college ranks. Bowness became the interim head coach when Montgomery was fired for off-ice issues last December.

Nill and Bowness agreed then that the interim tag would hold through the season, and they would discuss things after that. No one could have known that would be nearly 10 months later – after a 4 1/2-month pause to the NHL season because of the pandemic, and then the team’s first Stanley Cup Final since 2000.

After repeatedly deflecting questions about his future all postseason, Bowness gave some indication of his thoughts after the season-ending 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

”What I learned is that I still have the passion to compete, I still have the passion to coach,” Bowness said. ”I know I’m getting up there, and there’s a lot more behind me than ahead of me. But I still have the passion. That’s the most important thing. … I’m just going to keep pushing.”

FREE DOBBY

Khudobin, with his fifth different team over 11 NHL seasons, had never started a playoff game before Ben Bishop was declared unfit to play for pretty much the entire time in Edmonton. Khudobin went 14-10 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .917 save percentage this postseason.

After two years as Bishop’s primary backup, and an impressive playoff run, the 34-year-old Khudobin is an unrestricted free agent. Bishop just finished the third season of his $29.5 million, six-year contract.

TIME TO RECOVER

Dallas ended the season with several injured regulars, including Bishop, who last played Aug. 31, and forwards Radek Faksa, Blake Comeau and Roope Hintz. Everybody else had plenty of bumps, bruises and assorted ailments; Tyler Seguin talked about waiting in line to get in into the trainer’s room.

”We left everything on the ice,” Bowness said. ”We pushed this team as far as it could get.”

PAVS AND PERRY

Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry combined to score the Stars’ last six goals in the Stanley Cup Final. The veteran forwards were the primary additions in free agency last summer, along with veteran defender Andrej Sekera.

The 13 goals by Pavelski, who still has two seasons left on his deal, were more in a single postseason than any other player 36 or older and only one fewer than his 14 during the regular season. His 61 career playoff goals are now the most for an American-born skater.

Perry, 35, and Sekera, 34, are free agents again. Center Mattias Janmark, an effective penalty killer with the Stars since his NHL debut in 2015-16, is headed into free agency for the first time at the age of 27.

YOUNG STARS

Miro Heiskanen, who got a taste of the playoffs as a 19-year-old rookie last season, produced on both ends of the ice this postseason. He finished with six goals and 20 assists inside the bubble.

Rookie forward Denis Gurianov, who led the team with 20 goals during the regular season, had four goals and an assist in the Game 6 clincher over Calgary in the first round. The second round ended when Joel Kiviranta, who had one goal in 11 regular-season games, finished off a hat trick with his overtime goal in Game 7 against Colorado.