Countdown to awkwardness? Dubinsky, Callahan and Purcell among 22 players filing for arbitration

We’ve already seen some big names file for salary arbitration, as New Jersey Devils standout forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators stud defenseman Shea Weber filed for what could be some lucrative one-year deals (if they get that far). Today’s signings also helped two players avoid that tense process, as the Columbus Blue Jackets forked over a four-year deal to Marc Methot and the Toronto Maple Leafs made a sensible two-year pact with Clarke MacArthur.

There were 22 players who filed for salary arbitration today*, with the New York Rangers topping the list with four potential hearings (with crucial players in play). The deadline for arbitration filing is July 6 at 5:00 p.m. ET, so there might be some more interesting filings tomorrow as well. Keep in mind that the hearings are set anywhere between July 20-August 4, 2011. Those hearings aren’t guaranteed, though; two sides could hash out an agreement right up to the deadline (which has happened plenty of times before, by the way).

* Technically speaking, Methot filed too, but that was obviously just a formality since he signed with the Blue Jackets shortly afterward.

The NHLPA released a list of the 22 players who filed for salary arbitration today. We’ll give you the 4-1-1 on some of the most interesting names for your own nail-biting/entertainment purposes.

Anaheim Ducks

Dan Sexton – the forward christened “Big Sexy” enjoyed a nice run for a while in the 2009-10 season, but shouldn’t be too tough to sign after 19 and 13 point seasons.

source: Getty ImagesBuffalo Sabres

Andrej Sekera – He averaged a bit more than 20 minutes per game in 2010-11 and scored 29 points in 76 games played. Sekera seems like a valuable piece for the Sabres’ defense but it might be tough to squeeze him under the salary cap after Pegulamania ran wild.

Carolina Hurricanes

Derek Joslin

Chicago Blackhawks

Chris Campoli – I’m not Campoli’s biggest fan, but he does have some offensive talent. Unfortunately he’s also a bit dangerous in his own end; many Blackhawks fans will remember him for the turning the puck over to Alex Burrows, who ended Chicago’s season with an overtime Game 7-winning goal. Their solid off-season additions might make Campoli the odd man out if the cost is too high.

Viktor Stalberg – Stalberg came to Chicago in the Kris Versteeg trade and scored a replaceable 24 points during the season. He played in all seven of their playoff games, so maybe he’ll back if the price is right.

Colorado Avalanche

Kevin Porter

Ryan Wilson

Edmonton Oilers

Andrew Cogliano – He can skate like the wind and seems pretty versatile, but one wonders how long people will wait for him to do much more with speed (35 points in 2010-11).

Los Angeles Kings

Alec Martinez

Brad Richardson

source: APMontreal Canadiens

Josh Gorges – Gorges might be the most intriguing test for the arbitration system of this bunch. Injuries ravaged his 2010-11 season and the Habs survived reasonably well, but he played an important shutdown role during their 2010 Cinderella run. Gorges averaged 20 minutes per game for three straight seasons and received noticeable increases when playoff time rolled around.

Nashville Predators

Sergei Kostitsyn – The most mercurial of the two mercurial Kostitsyn brothers, Sergei experienced a career year with Nashville. They received a nice return on a limited investment after he scored 23 goals and 50 points, but will his one-dimensional style make him expendable in their eyes? Maybe it shouldn’t … after all, someone needs to score for that team, right?

New Jersey Devils

Mark Fraser – A lesser man would make a Kelsey Grammer joke here.

New York Islanders

Blake Comeau – The budding power forward had a career year with 24 goals and 21 assists for 45 points while averaging almost 19 minutes per night. He might be able to get a nice little payday.

New York Rangers

Brian Boyle – The hulking forward showed why he was a first round draft pick, unexpectedly scoring 21 goals and 35 points last season. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Rangers walk out on a too-rich ruling for Boyle after he only put together one strong season.

Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky – I’m putting these two together because they experienced such great chemistry on a line that helped the Rangers make the playoffs. Considering the funny money Glen Sather dishes out to unworthy and/or risky ventures, why not shell out some dough for two heart-and-soul guys who are producing impressive amounts of offense to boot? In a sane world, they won’t make it to arbitration but Sather’s team-building vision isn’t always the clearest.

Michael Sauer – Like Boyle, Sauer boasts a sparse resume but was a genuine contributor last season.

Phoenix Coyotes

Lauri Korpikoski

source: Getty ImagesTampa Bay Lightning

Teddy Purcell – When debating the merits of keeping Purcell vs. Sean Bergenheim, I sided with retaining Purcell. That discussion dissolved once Bergenheim bolted to Dale Tallon’s wacky hockey resort, but it’s worth mentioning that Purcell seemed to have a nice regular season (51 points) before lighting up the playoffs (17 points in 18 postseason games). The Lightning might be wise to avoid arbitration if they want to keep him, because judges might smile upon his impressive contract year.

Vancouver Canucks

Jannik Hansen – He won’t light the world on fire, but Hansen is the type of forward who can absorb spot duty in the top six forwards group, is reasonably proficient in both ends and owns a rare right-handed shot in the Canucks’ winger ranks. Hansen simply might be too expensive, though.

Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler – Wheeler seems like he’s in a perpetual state of negotiations. When he’s not, he’s often getting traded. He’s a decent scorer (44 points in 1o-11) has great size and the pedigree of a first round pick, but teams sour on him at an almost alarming rate. It’ll be interesting to see if the Jets think they have a place for him in their lineup.

The Buzzer: McDavid filets Flyers; Kane raises Sharks

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Three Stars

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Look, this is Connor McDavid. He’s at the point where it’s tough to surprise us.

… Yet, I have to admit, he’s begun 2019-20 on an even hotter streak than I imagined, and for all that Edmonton might improve under Dave Tippett, it’s difficult not to chalk most of it up to McDavid, alongside Leon Draisaitl.

McDavid was outrageous on Wednesday, generating a very pretty goal and four assists for five points. Those four assists represent a career-high for McDavid.

Despite that great night, I was leaning toward giving the top star to Evander Kane until I saw this stat, which admittedly steps on the factoids section a bit:

Unless you get really obscure with a stat, it’s usually a great sign when you do something that hasn’t been done since Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were still lacing up their skates …

2. Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks

After sitting out the first three games of the 2019-20 season thanks to a suspension, Kane generated one goal and one assist in three contests. Wednesday represented an eruption for his fourth game, then, as Kane generated a hat trick during the first period of the Sharks’ 5-2 win against the Hurricanes.

Kane also assisted on a Tomas Hertl goal, giving him a hat trick plus a helper for a four-point night.

If you think Kane deserves the nod over McDavid, I understand.

That said, three stars aren’t just a great opportunity to spotlight one wonderful performance, but also a time where it’s that much more pressing to point out a hot streak and great season. Which is why we pivot to someone whose great start might slip under the radar.

3. John Carlson, Washington Capitals

When the Caps signed Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract, it felt like a necessary evil. We’ve seen plenty of players age poorly, and Carlson blew away his previous career totals when he generated 15 goals and 68 points in 2017-18, helping Washington win that coveted Stanley Cup.

And then Carlson put together an even better 2018-19, scoring a resounding 70 points in 80 games.

At some point he has to slow down, right?

Maybe, but so far, it doesn’t feel like that time will be at age 29. Carlson produced three points (one goal, two assists) in Washington’s win against Toronto on Thursday, giving him an eyebrow-raising 14 points in eight games.

Those 14 points leave Carlson in third place behind McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — not just among defensemen. Suddenly, that $8M AAV starts to look like a bargain for the Capitals.

The runner-up to the runner-up for Highlight of the Night

Wednesdays aren’t usually the busiest NHL days, yet this one was ripe with great moments.

The moments have been great enough that Sidney Crosby‘s bedazzling backhander already got its own post, while Sonny Milano provided ample competition with his downright silly goal for the Blue Jackets.

The bronze medal provides gold of its own, though, as Connor McDavid reminded the world why it’s pretty easy to look like a dominant team when you can basically just lob the puck up blindly and assume that it might end up becoming a goal for 97:

Factoids

Scores

PIT 3 – COL 2 (OT)
WSH 4 – TOR 3
CBJ 3 – DAL 2
EDM 6 – PHI 3
ANA 5 – BUF 2
SJS 5 – CAR 2

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Oilers keep on rolling with win over Flyers

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Talent has never been the question in Edmonton, it was always a matter of systems and execution.

Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock each saw glimpses in recent years, but Dave Tippett might have unlocked the secret formula for the Oilers to have long-lasting success.

With six wins in the team’s first seven games, including a 6-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday Night Hockey, Edmonton is starting to believe that it has what it takes to become a serious contender in the Western Conference.

Jakub Voracek had two goals and an assist for Philadelphia while Carter Hart was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots in his first start near his hometown Sherwood Park, Alberta, as the Flyers concluded a three-game road trip through Western Canada where they went 0-2-1. Oskar Lindblom also scored.

Connor McDavid led the way offensively with five points (one goal and four assists), while Leon Draisaitl added two goals of his own as the Oilers bounced back after their first loss of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week. Mikko Koskinen stopped 49 shots and picked up his third victory of the season.

The Oilers recorded four consecutive goals, including three in the second that broke the game wide open. McDavid or Draisaitl’s ability to break a game open has rarely been an issue, but slowing down the opposition has been problematic. But through seven games this season, the team has allowed only 17 goals thanks to improved goaltending and more importantly, better team defense.

Last season the Oilers allowed 271 goals, good for seventh worst throughout the NHL. It’s the sole reason Tippett was brought in, to limit the damage in their own end of the ice, and allow their superstars to flourish offensively without ignoring their defensive responsibility.

Tippett has opted to play McDavid and Draisaitl together for most of the season, which has always been a delicate situation. Should a coach load up to form a powerful top line, or spread the wealth throughout the lineup so a high-end player is on the ice for the majority of the game?

The Avalanche have had great success keeping Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the ice as a pairing almost exclusively and the Oilers have been trending in that direction.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal provide options in the middle of the lineup but neither have the top-end talent equivalent to McDavid and Draisaitl.

However, if the Oilers are able to have a prolific first line, combined with strong structure throughout the neutral zone and in front of their goaltender, they will quickly become an elite team that could be a force to be reckoned with.

MORE: Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV Schedule

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

McKenzie on Penguins injuries, Avs contracts … spider bites?

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When Alex Galchenyuk was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he likely breathed deep as he readied for a new coach, team, city, and system for the second straight season. Maybe there’s some fear about looking like a pale imitation of Phil Kessel, the other major part of that trade.

But did he factor in arachnophobia?

During a Wednesday appearance on NBCSN during the Penguins’ eventual 3-2 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche, Bob McKenzie reported that Galchenyuk has been dealing with what could be a groin injury (or otherwise a soft tissue issue), which many surmised. What people didn’t realize is that Galchenyuk took a detour on his road to recovery because of a spider bite.

McKenzie reports that Galchenyuk had a significant allergic reaction to the bite, which seems a lot less fun than being able to climb on walls, swing on webs, and sense danger before it’s coming. (Theory: Brad Marchand may have “spider sense.” Although we’d probably need to brand it differently. “Pest-pathy?”)

Anyway, McKenzie reports that Galchenyuk is back on that road to recovery, although his precise window of recovery is unclear.

Via McKenzie, Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad, and Bryan Rust are essentially week-to-week still, as their windows seem to be two or three weeks. McKenzie reports that Evgeni Malkin‘s injury remains fuzzier.

Speaking of fuzziness, it sounds like the Colorado Avalanche are keeping things opaque when it comes to players on expiring contracts. So, we might need to wait-and-see with Andre Burakovsky and Nikita Zadorov.

That’s … understandable, especially with Burakovsky, who’s still making early impressions. Colorado might be wise to pick and choose with this stuff in the future, though. Could the Avalanche have signed Mikko Rantanen for less than a $9.25M AAV if they were more proactive? We can only speculate …

But hey, at least no one got bit by a spider.

*shudders*

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Penguins remain hot with win vs. Avalanche

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Brandon Tanev notched a shorthanded goal in overtime to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel also scored as Pittsburgh recorded its fourth straight victory. Matt Murray added 26 saves.

Matt Calvert and Nathan MacKinnon found the back of the net for the Avalanche but their six-game point streak to open the season came to an end.

Crosby continues to dazzle

The Penguins captain has clearly moved on from a disappointing playoff run last year, which ended in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Islanders. Instead, Crosby is off to a tremendous start, recording points in each of Pittsburgh’s seven games and leading the club on the ice to a 5-2-0 record.

Crosby netted a highlight-reel backhander to tie the game late in the first period and then assisted on a Jake Guentzel tally in the second.

The superstar center craftily tipped the puck around Erik Johnson, played the puck with his glove, and then somehow had the wherewithal to outlast goaltender Philipp Grubauer until an opening appeared for him to slide a backhander into the net.

Early in the second period, Crosby intercepted a pass at the blueline, then set up Guentzel to help the Penguins grab a 2-1 lead.

While several notable players remain sidelined, Crosby will be expected to lead the Penguins on the ice, and continue to improve the players around him. Pittsburgh will need Crosby to play at the top of his game until reinforcements return over the next few weeks.

Avalanche upcoming free agents

After the Mikko Rantanen contract issue this past summer, the Avalanche have several pending RFA’s for next summer.

Colorado is expected to be a legit Stanley Cup Contender with a great mix of dynamic playmakers, infusion of youth and seasoned veterans capable of leading the way during turbulent stretches.

However, Bob McKenzie offered that general manager Joe Sakic wants to see how the first part of the season plays out before engaging in contract talks.

Andre Burakovsky, Tyson Jost and Nikita Zadorov headline the pending RFA class and all presumably have a role to fill moving forward.

Is Lafferty here to stay?

The Penguins have been bitten by the injury bug early and have been forced to rely on their organizational depth to stay afloat during a challenging stretch.

During their Stanley Cup-winning years, the Penguins have always been able to call up a role player to fill a specific need. Is Sam Lafferty the next player to seamlessly fit in?

Lafferty was close to making the team out of training camp according to Bob McKenzie, but fell victim to the numbers game of a roster. However, injuries to five impact forwards — Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk, Bryan Rust and Jared McCann — created a roster spot for him to slide in.

“We always felt like Sam was close coming into this training camp this year. But I think he has a whole lot more confidence in himself that he belongs here,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “And that’s great for him, and that’s great for us.”

The 24-year-old originally from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, about two hours outside of Pittsburgh, Lafferty has taken advantage of the opportunity recording five points over the previous three games.

“He’s earned his playing time. He’s just playing terrific hockey,” Sullivan said. “He made a difference every game he’s been in. As a result, he’s getting more ice time. He’s a very good penalty-killer. I think he really understands his role and is taking pride in it. You can see it every shift. He’s gaining more confidence.”

The Penguins have done an excellent job in sliding players into appropriate roles, and Lafferty is just the latest example. Does the kid have what it takes to stick around for a full season and continue to make a difference? We will find out as the season goes on.

MORE: Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV Schedule

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.